A couple of months ago, I wrote a letter to the editor objecting to the violent, oppressive imagery on a mailer that a group connected with the National Education Association teachers union sent out supporting the recall. One of the dishonest statements made on the back of that postcard deserves its own letter.
None of the three accusations that the postcard made against Councilors Robert Coulter and Justin Katz were true, but the one I’m addressing here said that they “delayed the much needed purchase of an ambulance for our Town — putting public safety at risk.” This postcard’s return address was that of a local middle school teacher. It is shameful that teachers would try to scare voters like this.
The fire department was having trouble with its vehicles because previous Town Councils had the wrong priorities, including the one run by Denise deMedeiros. Ambulances started breaking down, repairs took longer than expected, so the fire department borrowed ambulances from other towns. At that point, our Town Council made plans to buy a new ambulance that would be immediately available. Because the town’s employees said there was no immediate risk to services, we followed state purchasing laws and also made sure the funding was included in both budgets on the ballot at the financial town referendum (FTR).
Right before one of our meetings, the situation became a little more urgent; the dealership was trying to hold onto the demo model as long as possible but if delayed we might lose the ambulance. So, we voted to make the purchase. In fact, Justin is the one who made the motion. Patricia Hilton, who is now the replacement council president after the recall, objected. Her local ally in the recall, Louise Durfee, actually filed a complaint with the state that the council moved too quickly.
I guess when they’re willing to be so dishonest, they get to have it both ways. They can criticize people for moving too slowly and too quickly at the same time.
Under Rob and Justin’s leadership, we took time to make sure we were solving problems the right way and still moved fast when it was necessary. When we came into office in 2018, the fire chief was on paid administrative leave, ambulances were breaking down, the firefighters’ contract negotiation was headed to expensive arbitration, and the morale in the department was so bad that employees were beginning to panic.
We took care of all of those problems in just a few months, without just throwing money at them. Then here comes the Recaller Gang misrepresenting the truth to the people of Tiverton. It’s just not right.