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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Reporter Jackie Roman’s story in the July 6th-12th edition of the Valley Breeze is eye opening. The Ethics Commission complaint pending against Councilwoman Maxine Cavanagh relative to her decision to appoint her husband’s cousin’s law firm as solicitor with the support of Councilman Alberto LaGreca and Council President Paul Santucci speaks volumes about the Republican council majority’s decision to ignore the provisions of the Rhode Island Ethics code. It is quite obvious that the Republican majority is more concerned about financially rewarding the family member of a sitting council member. As a resident of Smithfield, I am both outraged and horrified that the vote to appoint Alves and the firm of Blish and Cavanagh was not Councilwoman Cavanagh’s first rodeo. The article points out that Maxine Cavanagh voted a total of five times during her tenure on the council to appoint Mr. Alves and his firm despite the fact that the managing partner of Alves’ firm was first cousin’s with Cavanagh’s husband in violation of the provisions of the Rhode Island State Ethics Code. Recent stories have also illustrated that Mr. Alves’ wife and the managing partner of Blish and Cavanagh Joseph V. Cavanagh, Jr. have made maximum contributions to the Smithfield Republican Town Committee.
The facts presented in Ms. Roman ‘s recent articles paint a very disturbing picture about the Republican council majority’s pay-to-play attitude in the Town of Smithfield at the expense of the Smithfield taxpayers. The very fact that this issue was brought to the attention of Council President Santucci on December 5, 2016, the very night of his swearing in, and he not only chose to participate in the vote to appoint Mr. Alves, after being apprised of the conflict, illustrates that Mr. Santucci condones unethical behavior. More importantly, seven months after the vote, Mr. Santucci is doing everything in his power to sweep this issue under the rug in an attempt to protect his solicitor and Republican council colleague Maxine Cavanagh. Mr. Santucci’s statement in the article that “I will be prepared if we need to address this” is devoid of any reason. Quite frankly, Mr. Santucci should have had the fortitude to stand up against his party and address this issue at the time the nomination was made in December, 2016.
The very fact that Council President Santucci, Councilman Alberto LaGreca and Councilwoman Maxine Cavanagh were all complicit in participating in the vote to appoint Alves on December 5, 2016, after they were warned that the vote would violate the State Ethics Code, warrants their resignation and removal from office. The taxpayers of Smithfield can no longer trust their judgement and moral compass. It is obvious that they are more concerned about rewarding the family member of a sitting council member with a Town contract that exceeds $400,000 on an annual basis than they are about the Smithfield residents they represent.
Matthew P. DeAngelis, Greenville
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH FROM OUT-OF-TOWNERS
At the 7/11/17 Town Council meeting, George McKinnon got up and openly criticized Town Council President Paul Santucci claiming how he was aghast at multiple levels at Mr. Santucci’s allowing Al Costantino and Jackson Despres “rant and bully” the council and the town’s solicitor, Ed Alves. He started by claiming to have “the rest of the story”. Really George? Is the rest of the story that you are not a Smithfield resident and were put up to reading your statement by other members of the town’s Republican party who are not happy with Paul Santucci taking actions independent of party “bullying”? I’m also aghast that in this day and age you would think that no one would see through this charade.
I think the “public comment” section of the meeting should be changed to “taxpayer comments” or “resident comments” so we don’t get these shills, who are NOT residents, representing COWARDS who are too afraid to get up and be recognized for their own thoughts. I won’t mention names but the culprits were sitting in the back row beaming as if they were watching their star pupil perform in the school play. Shame on you.
As a past attendee of those meetings (and one who watches the tapes of those meetings) I have thought that both the previously mentioned gentlemen (Al & Jackson) may have been too lengthy in their commentary many times, HOWEVER the town needs passionate “watchdog” types who get involved, know the statutes and hold politicians accountable. Do I endorse mudslinging and personal attacks? No, I certainly do not. There are plenty of opinions of Mr. Alves –both good and bad. In time I HOPE his record, if analyzed, may be a testimony of his performance and not the opinions of Mr.’s Toppi, McKinnon, Costantino or Despres.
As for Town Council President Santucci- there is no one that this town has been willing to put aside party affiliation and work solely for the good of the town more than this man. Mr. McKinnon, there may have been times when he should have used the gavel more-I’m sure that he’d admit that – but that includes when your sorry letter was being read. Before claiming that others were out of order, maybe a look in the mirror is needed. Paul, the town is behind your efforts and pray that you continue to strive to do the right thing.
Joe Toppi, Smithfield