The following "headlines" have appeared on the front/home page of this web site.

Farewell, Art
February 5, 2014


Art Jones was a member of the Little Compton Taxpayers Association Board of Directors for a number of years. In fact, Art help to form the organization back in the 1990's. He passed away after a long bout with Parkinson's disease on February 4, 2014 leaving behind his beloved wife, Margaret "Mickie" (Nash) Jones.  He was 72 years old.  Art was also a member of the Little Compton Beach Commission as well as a musician - saxophone.

Art was in the newspaper business as an editor for most of his career.  Whenever any our members wrote an article for public promulgation, we could always count on Art to instruct us on dotting the I's and crossing the T's.  Nothing got by Art that was grammatically incorrect or unclear.

We wish Mickie our sincere condolences and we will sorely miss Art.

The Fall River Herald News published a wonderful article about Art given that he worked there since 1985 until his retirement a few years ago.  To read the Herald News article, click here.

School Budget Workshops

February 5, 2014

The School Committee has planned three budget workshops in the month of February.

February 20, 2014 at 5pm (Town Hall)
February 27, 2014 at 6pm (Town Hall)
February 28, 2014 at 5pm (Town Hall)

These meetings are important as the details of the budget are discussed including staffing levels.  Given that the student population has fallen precipitously over the last decade and the trend is expected to continue, the number of teachers and other staff becomes an item of interest. Considering also that the school renovation loan will show up for the first time in the forthcoming overall town budget, it is imperative that the various town departments keep their budgets as small as possible to offset the large increase from the loan. 

Tanks at School?

January 25, 2014


Have you driven by the Wilbur & McMahon School and wondered what the big white tank is?  It is a 5,000 gallon heating oil tank needed for the heating system in the newly renovated school building.  If you take a closer look, just behind the tank and inside the building is a 30,000 gallon water tank that is needed for the sprinkler system in the event of a fire.  You can see it inside the windows of the new "lean-to" addition. The town well can not provide water fast enough for the sprinklers, so a holding tank along with high powered fire pumps are needed.

The newly renovated school is scheduled to open in mid-April.  The students will move back to the building and abandon the modular classrooms currently located on the Peckham Lot.

The cost for this project will show up in your next property tax bill for the first time. 

Sakonnet River Bridge Report

January 15, 2014


The Special Legislative Commission to Study the Funding for East Bay Bridges submitted a report on its findings to the General Assembly after conducting several meetings to gather facts & figures associated with seeking alternatives to a toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge.  Click here to see see the report.

Pre-K At Wilbur?

December 9, 2013

Student population at Little Compton's Wilbur & McMahon School has been falling as with many other towns in Rhode Island.  The graph above illustrates what has been happening.  According to a demographics study done by the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), the trend is expected to continue.  This trend calls into question the viability of having a school in town.  We don't have a high school for the same reason.

 But the School Committee chooses to look at ways to justify retaining the school and retaining what appears to be a growing excess of staff.  They are now looking into a "pre-Kindergarten" (pre-K) program.  They say it will be self-sustaining presumably independent of local tax revenue by charging families for the program (not just Little Compton).  Does that include salaries?  Pensions?  Benefits?  Health care?  And what happens if an insufficient number of people sign up for the program?

 Give us your thoughts as we go forward.

School Bond - 3.8%

November 21, 2013

The Town sold $11,310,000 general obligation school renovation bonds on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at favorable interest rates. The 20 year bonds sold at an average interest rate of 3.80%, well below the Town's initial estimates. The bonds were sold by Roosevelt & Cross, Inc., a New York investment bank with a local Providence office.

The bond sale was enhanced by the Town's "AAA" rating from Standard & Poor's (S&P). This historic and outstanding rating makes Little Compton the first and only "AAA" rated municipality in the State. S&P noted in their report the Town's "very strong and stable economic base that participates in the greater Providence metropolitan area; strong management conditions, with good financial practices; and very strong liquidity providing very strong cash levels to cover both debt service and expenditures".

Peckham Lot Design Awarded

October 24, 2013


The Town Council awarded the restoration and improvement design of the Peckham Lot to JJA Sports, LLC.  The lot is currently the site of the temporary classrooms in use while the Wilbur & McMahon School renovation project is underway.

JJA Sports from Westford, MA ( was the 3rd lowest bidder at $30,700. The lowest bidder had experience, but did not present an acceptable approach to the project.  The 2nd lowest bidder had no relevant experience... too risky.  The work is entitled "Architectural and Engineering Services for Athletic Fields and Tennis Court Design".  The Town Council is seeking grant money from DEM (as much as 50%).  The balance will be paid for from existing funds and budgets as well as private donations.

This is NOT the actual construction work... just the design part. 

RI Taxpayers Has New President

August 30, 2013


Larry Girouard

Larry Girouard, newly named president of Rhode Island Taxpayers, the state’s largest nonpartisan taxpayer advocacy group, is also president of the Business Avionix Co., a consulting firm that helps companies drive profits while implementing focused market penetration programs and improving customer satisfaction. He has more than 45 years of engineering, marketing and senior management experience in Fortune 500 corporations, including at DuPont, Keene, and Cookson, as well as at high technology start-up companies like Spectrum Technologies and Composite Development Corp. He was the first executive director of both the Rhode Island NASA Technology Transfer Center and the Rhode Island Manufacturing Extension Services Corp.

A frequent guest lecturer at local colleges and trade association meetings on the topics of corporate growth and strategic planning, he holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Rhode Island, earned in 1966, and an MBA in Marketing earned in 1969 from the University of Delaware.

The Providence Business News recently interviewed Larry.  Click Here to read what was said.


Sakonnet River Bridge Toll Protest

August 18, 2013


Today, the 10¢ toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge went into effect.  Yesterday, there was a protest against the toll that took place on the bridge bike path.  Although there were threats of property damage, nothing of the sort took place.  The protest was peaceful and included several people speaking out using a portable PA system.

The Little Compton Taxpayers Association attended the protest and made a short video of the event.  It's up on YouTube and it runs for 11-minutes, 38-seconds. To see the video, click on the following link:

Click Here: YouTube Video

At this point, the 10¢ toll will remain in place while a special study commission looks at alternatives to tolls for maintaining the bridges.  If it fails to come up with a viable plan, the Rhode Island Turnpike & Bridge Authority will be free to raise the tolls virtually to whatever it wants.  This is very worrisome and will be watched carefully.

Thrown Under The Bus

Sakonnet River Bridge

July 5, 2013


The General Assembly voted to delay collecting tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge until February 1, 2014 while studying ways to fund bridge maintenance statewide.  Speaker Gordon Fox made some kind of deal with the East Bay representatives to support funding the 38 Studios fiasco in exchange for delaying the tolls.  The budget passed with those two provisions.  And then 5-days later, Speaker Fox reneged on the deal, reinstated the tolls starting in August, and threw the East Bay representatives and the people of East Bay under the bus.  One hour later, Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed did the same thing and threw the East Bay people (including those in her own district of Newport) under the bus.  This is Rhode Island politics at its worst.

Representative Nicholas A. Mattiello (Cranston), House Majority Leader, defended the bill and called it a "User Fee". If that is the logic, then why aren't all the bridges in Rhode Island subject to user fees?


Sakonnet River Bridge Toll Lawsuit

Little Compton will not join

Portsmouth in its lawsuit

June 6, 2013


Due to fiscal restraints brought about by the massive loan for the school renovation, and an unknown cost of joining Portsmouth in its lawsuit against RIDOT and the Federal Highway Administration to stop the tolls, the Town Council decided NOT to join the Portsmouth lawsuit but send a letter of support instead.  Note: Tiverton and Bristol chose to join in the lawsuit.

Tax Rate stays the same!

May 21, 2013

The Financial Town Meeting was over in 45 minutes voting the entire budget, as recommended by the Budget Committee, in a single vote.  198 townspeople showed up to vote.  The tax rate remains the same at $5.38 per thousand.


Download Budget Committee and School budget reports

Budget Committee Report

School Budget Report

RI Tax Climate

May 12, 2013


The Tax Foundation has done a study on the tax climate for businesses in all 50 states and has ranked them on a scale of 1 to 50.  "1" means the best in the nation.  "50" means the worst.  Here's how Rhode Island ranked among the 50 states:

Type of Tax   Ranking
Corporate Tax   42
Individual Income Tax 37
Sales Tax 25 
Unemployment Insurance   50 
Property Tax   46 
Overall Rating   46


Given this, why would any business want to come to Rhode Island?

Fireworks Canceled This Year!
March 21, 2013

The Town Council voted to cancel this year's fireworks event because of the unavailability of Veterans Field and the placement of the school temporary classroom modules on the Peckham Lot where cars usually park for the event. 

Budgets, The School, The Teachers, The Students
February 24, 2013

The Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) Little Compton budget is in the process of being constructed.  All departments are required to submit their proposals to the Budget Committee by March 1st.  After that, the Budget Committee studies the budget and then holds meetings with the budget submitters to insure that there is no excess or "fat" in the proposed budget.  Through this process, the Budget Committee has been able to keep the tax rate just about the same for the past three years.

As expected, every preliminary budget submission shows an increase over the previous year.  We fully expect that the Budget Committee will do its usual good job and bring the numbers down to their lowest level.

But the School budget promises to be a challenge.  We have been studying the trends of the teacher count and the student count going back to the 1994/1995 school year (FY95).  The graph below shows the results of that study.


As can be seen, the trend is UP for the number of teachers while the trend is SIGNIFICANTLY DOWN for the number of students in the school.  And that student population trend is expected to continue according to a demographics study done by the "New England School Development Council" in July 2010 as part of the school's application for matching funds from the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) for the school renovation project.  This is the school's own data!

At the school's January 30, 2013 budget workshop, the School Administration indicated that it intended to maintain the current number of teachers for FY14.  At the School Committee's February 6, 2013 meeting, the members voted for a budget that keeps all the teachers; however, Joseph Quinn, Vice-Chair of the School Committee, did move to eliminate two part time teachers primarily because they are not needed while the students learn in the temporary classroom modules.  The School Committee voted 5-to-0 to eliminate the two positions from the roles.

The discussion included a comparison of this year's class sizes of surrounding towns with those of the Wilbur & McMahon School. Here is what was divulged:











East Greenwich
















Little Compton




    These are average class sizes

By its own admission, the School Administration agrees that Little Compton's class sizes are the lowest in the state.  The graph on page 1 goes a long way to explain why that is the case.

Do lower class sizes result in better student scores and performance?  Barrington beats Little Compton in standardized testing more often than not.  Their average class size for 1st grade is 21 students while Little Compton's average class size is 12 for 1st grade.  There goes that theory!

Accordingly, during the February 6th School Committee meeting, Mr. Quinn made a motion to combine next year's two first grade classes (currently this year's Kindergarten) into one 19-student class.  His motion was defeated 4-to-1 to the cheers of the many teachers in attendance.  The best reasoning that was stated for this defeat is that the move to the temporary classroom modules is enough strain placed on the students and perhaps the following year some combining can take place.  This is not a financially sound reason and is based purely on conjecture.

We want our students to continue to do well.  The newly renovated Wilbur & McMahon School will provide a much better atmosphere for learning than the current building.  Those renovations are now underway and are expected to be completed in time for the 2014/2015 (FY15) school year.

In the meantime, the School Administration and School Committee need to take another look at the size of its teaching staff and reduce its operating budget as the renovation costs begin to take hold.  The Budget Committee should be very firm in assessing the FY14 school budget with particular focus on the number of teachers for a declining student population.

The FY14 school budget shows a 2% increase over FY13.  We feel this should be 0% given the economic conditions facing the townspeople and the demographics within the school itself.

Thank you, Senator DiPalma. 

Here's what Senator DiPalma has to say about his bill (S00242) to find an alternate way of funding the maintenance of the Sakonnet River Bridge rather than through tolls.

"The alternative funding approach outlined in S00242 seeks the establishment of a Bridge Maintenance Fund, a restricted receipt account.  Funding comes from two sources, a $20.00 increase on the biannual vehicle emission inspection fee and the graduated transfer of net revenues from the Department of Motor Vehicles, which currently goes to the General Fund.  On an annual basis, the excess revenue in the Fund, over and above that which is needed annually for all-costs associated with the four bridges in the East Bay (Jamestown-Verrazano, Mount Hope, Newport-Pell and Sakonnet) will be transferred to RIDOT for the maintenance of state roads.  This is an issue of fairness and equity …"

Bills To Repeal Bridge Tolls
January 23, 2013


Bills have been introduced in the Rhode Island House and Senate to repeal the article that will lead to tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge this summer.  The schedule for hearings and voting has not been established yet.

Senate Bill S0020 was introduced by Senators Paiva-Weed, DiPalma*, Felag, Ottiano, and Bates

House Bill H5137 was introduced by Reps. Edwards, Gallison, Malik, Canario*, and Marshall

Click on each bill number above to read the bill.  They are mark-ups of the current laws in effect.  Anything in red is to be removed.  Anything in blue is added new text.

This is a very good step in the right direction.  There seems to be growing support in both houses to do this.  The potential pitfall is a veto from Gov. Chafee should the legislation make it to his desk.  Will there be enough votes to override his veto?  We'll have to wait and see.

*Senator DiPalma and Representative Canario represent Little Compton.

Temporary Classrooms
January 4, 2013

Update (1/10/13): The move from the school building to the modules will take place during the February break (Feb 18th thru 22nd).  When school begins again on Feb 25th, the students will report to the modules.  The modules are now in place and being hooked up to electricity, water, wastewater, internet, etc.  Because of the shooting in Newtown, CT, a decision was made to put in a high-tech security system ($38K) in the modules that will be removed and relocated to the newly renovated school building when the project is nearing completion.  Fortunately, the construction contractor has agreed to wait the additional 3-weeks to begin without any additional charges.

The temporary classroom modules are in the middle of being installed on the Peckham Lot.  The plan is to have them ready for student occupation by January 31, 2013.  If that goal is not reached, then the contract to renovate the main school may have to be renegotiated. 

Peckham Lot Preparations Underway
December 9, 2012

Site work is well along on the Peckham Lot in preparation for assembling the temporary modular classrooms on the lot while renovations are made to the Wilbur & McMahon School.  The current goal is to have the students in the temporary modules by January 31, 2013.

School Loan to hit in FY14
December 6, 2012

The Budget Committee and Town Council met jointly to discuss the FY14 budget.  As has been the case, the Budget Committee will try to hold the line on the town budget; however, the first increment of the bond on the school renovation project will be a part of the FY14 budget that the town will vote on this coming May. The town experienced a tax rate increase of less than 1% in FY13.  Between the school loan and no supplemental revenue from the General Fund surplus (currently $1,300,00 - it is getting too low at 11.3% of the budget), the Budget Committee's goal is to "...recommend a budget that requires a tax rate only to cover costs associated with the school building construction project." It is expected that the FY14 tax rate could climb to approximately 2% above the 4% cap, or approximately 6%.

Click here to see the presentation material from the December 6th meeting.

 Town Council Sworn In
November 20, 2012

Five members of the freshly re-elected Town Council are sworn in.  From left to right:
Ted Bodington, Paul Golembeske, Robert Mushen, Chuck Appleton, Gary Mataronas

Mr. Mushen was elected President and Mr. Golembeske was elected Vice President

New School Committee Members
November 14, 2012

Peg Bugara

Tom Allder
The November 6th election resulted in two new members of the School Committee: Peg Bugara and Tom Allder replacing outgoing Lynn Brousseau LeBreux and Micah Shapiro.  We thank Lynn and Micah for their past services to the town, and welcome Peg and Tom.  They will be working with incumbents Don Gomez, Joe Quinn, and Dave Beauchemin whose positions come up for re-election in the 2014 election.

Wilbur School Kids Will NOT Learn In Churches!
November 14, 2012

The United Congregational Church suddenly withdrew its offer to provide classroom space for grades K and 1 while the Wilbur & McMahon School undergoes renovation.  The church's Board of Trustees informed the School Administration that the water well cannot support the effort and that the decision is final.  This turn of events comes very late in the game and will result in an additional $125K-to-$175K cost to the taxpayers to go back to the original plan to house all the kids in a pair of modules on the Peckham Lot. 

St. Andrews looked into housing all the kids in an effort to help, but the facilities are just not large enough. 

Election Results - Little Compton
November 6, 2012

There were 1975 regular votes cast in Little Compton.  There are 225 uncounted absentee ballots, and 26 uncounted provisional votes for President and Vice-President only.  The counts below reflect the numbers posted on the Secretary of State's website (click here).

Vote Counts

Straight Party Vote:
























































Senator (Congress)










 Representative (Cong)














Senator (Gen Assemb)





Rep (Gen Assemb)





Town Moderator





Town Clerk





 Town Council
























Town Treasurer















School Committee




















Tax Assessor









Ballot Issues






819   Casino gambling Twin River



852   Casino gambling Newport Grand



805   RI College Facilities



493   Veteran's Home Bonds



632   Clean Water Finance Agency



627   Environmental Management



881   Affordable Housing Bonds


Wilbur School Kids Learn In Churches
October 30, 2012

The School Committee voted, amid heated exchanges, to lease space in the Congregational Church and St. Andrews Church for temporary classroom space during the renovation of the main school itself.  Instead of using two large classroom modules, they will only use one on the Peckham Lot bringing about an estimated cost reduction of $125,000.   The vote was 3-to-2 in favor with Lynn Brousseau LeBreux and Micah Shapiro voting no.

There were many emotional arguments about splitting the students up into three separate locations, but it finally was decided that some sacrifices have to be made in order to get on with the project that started 7-years ago!  Another argument was an insinuation that the ACLU might get involved because the kids were being educated in churches.  In actuality, they are not going to be studying in the part of the churches where religion is practiced; rather, they will be utilizing the church halls where there are no religious symbols or artifacts.  This is a non-argument.

The distribution of students in the three sites is:

       Congregational Church  Grades K, 1
       St. Andrews Church Grades 2, 3
       Portable Module  Grade 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

The shortfall of funding had been pared down to $445,000.  With the decision to use the churches, it drops to $320,000. The Town Council, School Committee, and Budget Committee are looking into ways to manage this deficit.

The School Committee also awarded the renovation construction contract to ADS Construction, Inc. for $10,100,000.

The schedule for all these things happening is somewhat in doubt.  In all likelihood, this arrangement may go beyond a single school year.

Wilbur School - Update
October 10, 2012

The second round of bids for the renovation of the Wilbur & McMahon School were received after a few items were removed from the project.  Two of the four bidders dropped out.  The lowest bid is now $10,100,000 from ADS Construction, Inc.  That is still higher than the not-to-exceed allocation approved by the townspeople and RIDE which was $9,659,925 for construction. The cost of temporary classrooms is currently estimated at $1,024,605. When applying the school surplus of approximately $1,100,000, there is still a shortfall.

Shortfall: $518,917

The School Committee is now looking at options that seek to lower the overall cost of the project and, at the same time, minimize the impact on the education of the students.  Those options range from delaying the project, to returning to the prospect of using the facilities of two churches: St. Andrew's and the Congregational Church at the Commons.  This will reduce the cost of the temporary classrooms and all the associated site preparation.  The School Committee is on a "fast track" to explore the options and resolve these problems.

Beware: One of the options discussed at the School Committee meeting is to ask the Little Compton taxpayers to add new tax money to make up the shortfall. More to follow.

 Wilbur School - Bid Bust!
September 6, 2012

The bids for the renovation of the Wilbur & McMahon School were opened today.  There were four bids.  The lowest bid was $10,260,000 for construction while the highest bid was $12,250,000.

Problem: The amount of money available for construction is approximately $9,600,000.  A shortfall of nearly $700,000.

The sentiment of the Town Council seemed to be that it would not ask the taxpayers to come up with the additional funding.  Instead, it decided to send a letter to the School Committee recommending a second round of bids from the same bidders to obtain a best and final offer from each one along with their recommendations for reducing the cost if necessary.

The School Committee next meets on Tuesday, September 11,2012 at 7:00 PM.

Fire Dept Makes Rescue At Sea
July 27, 2012

The Little Compton Fire Department used its new rescue boat provided by the Volunteer Fire Department to make a rescue at South Shore.  Click on the following Patch link for the full story.  Good job, Fire Department!

Patch Article (click here)

Wilbur Has New Principal
June 13, 2012

João Arruda
João Arruda was appointed Principal of the Wilbur & McMahon School by the School Committee on June 13, 2012.  Mr. Arruda comes from the position of Assistant Principal at the Portsmouth Middle School.  He replaces James Gibney who recently retired.  We wish Mr. Arruda well and are looking forward to working with him.

Douglas McClurg
Douglas McClurg has been selected as the new Business Manager for the Wilbur & McMahon School.  He comes from North Smithfield and replaces Gina Augustus who recently accepted another position elsewhere.  We also wish Mr. McClurg well and also look forward to working with him.

New Boat for Fire Dept
May 10, 2012

The Little Compton Volunteer Fire Department has procured a boat for the Town using funds from donations.  The boat was purchased for $48K and equipped with the latest navigation and communications technology bringing the total to $65K.  The "Fire Boat" will be leased to the Town for $1 per year and used by the Fire Department for rescue related work in Narragansett Bay.  Efforts are underway to get a boat slip at Sakonnet Point to avoid having to haul the boat to the boat launch wasting valuable time in a rescue operation.

The boat is 25-feet long and is powered by twin 200 horsepower Yamaha outboard engines.

This project could not have been done without the help of Lt. Graham Brewster, LCVFD and Lt. David Wood, LCFD. The two worked closely throughout the winter to bring this new rescue boat to the highest of standards. This boat will be wonderful upgrade from the currently used 1970s Boston Whaler.

The Town Council expressed its gratitude to Jack Crook, President of the Volunteer Fire Department for this acquisition, and the members of the organization.

Principal Gibney Resigns
May 9, 2012

Tonight the School Committee accepted the resignation of Principal James Gigney effective June 30, 2012.  No specific reason was given for the resignation other than the School needs new leadership for moving the school forward.  Mr. Gibney's contract was scheduled to end June 30, 2013.  Part of the settlement agreement is that Mr. Gibney's health insurance will continue to be paid for out to June 30, 2013, and he will be given a portion of the salary he would have made in 2013 had he stayed.

Tax Rate to Increase 0.94%
May 3, 2012

The Budget Committee announced that the tax rate for 2012-2013 will increase by less than 1%.  That is an additional 5¢ per thousand. The rate goes from $5.33 per thousand to $5.38 per thousand. Note: The cost of the School bond will not be seen until July 2013.

If your home is valuated at $400,000, you will see a tax increase of $20 for the year.

The Wilbur and McMahon School Renovation
Project Status

4/18/12 Ballot for Referendum.  Click here to see.
4/3/12 First Public Hearing scheduled for Tuesday, April 3rd, 7:00 PM, Gym (48 people attemded)
3/15/12 The Town Clerk is working toward a May 1st date for the Referendum
3/13/12 The House  approved the proposed Referendum for the renovation project
3/6/12 The House Finance Committee approved the wording of the YES/NO ballot in the forthcoming referendum
2/29/12 The Public Hearing had to be re-scheduled due to bad weather
2/21/12 The Building Committee has established a Public Hearing on 2/29/12 at 7:00 PM.  First of three.
2/15/12 The Senate Finance Committee approved the wording of the YES/NO ballot in the forthcoming referendum

Students To Attend Class On Veterans Field
March 21, 2012

The School Committee and School Building Committee have chosen Veterans Field to house Grades 5, 6, 7, 8 during the 2012-2013 school year while renovations are made to the Wilbur & McMahon School.  Temporary classroom modules will be erected on Veterans Field immediately following this year's Chicken Barbeque.  The picture below shows the temporary classrooms (in yellow) placed on Veterans Field. Grades K through 4 will be housed in St. Andrews Church and the Congregational Church during the same period.  Details not yet finalized.

We Won A Big One
March 2, 2012

As oppressive government continues to whittle away our freedoms and muzzle those who speak out, the Little Compton Taxpayers Association (LCTA) won a lawsuit that will have repercussions throughout the State.

On October 27, 2010 - just before the last election - the LCTA published a newsletter (click here to see the newsletter) that included a sample ballot in which the LCTA's voting recommendations were put forth.  Republicans, Democrats, and Cool Moose candidates were recommended.  Included in the list was John Loughlin running for Patrick Kennedy's seat, and Joe Quinn running for School Committee.  We also recommended against former School Committee Chair, Mike Harrington. 

16 candidates were recommended.  12 of them won with 8 of them running unopposed.

Evidently, Brett and Johanna McKenzie (Little Compton residents) were dissatisfied with this newsletter and, through frivolous complaints with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) and the RI Board of Elections (RI-BOE), tried to silence the LCTA by removing its First Amendment right to free speech.

With respect to the FEC, the complaint was against both the LCTA and John Loughlin for neither one of them reporting the "expense" of the endorsement.  The FEC quickly recognized this as an invalid complaint and dismissed it in a letter (click here to see the FEC letter) to the McKenzie's.  They also dismissed the complaint against John Loughlin.  Note: The FEC has a $250 threshold.  The amount of money spent on the Loughlin endorsement in the newsletter was less than $5.

But Rhode Island being Rhode Island, political hacks making up the RI-BOE saw an opportunity to seize control of taxpayer groups such as the LCTA and block their ability to do what they do (endorsements, newsletters, newspaper articles, web sites, and letters). 

The RI-BOE charged the LCTA with "coordinating" its endorsement of Joe Quinn running for School Committee since Quinn was also a member of the LCTA's Board of Directors.  If Mr. Quinn had participated in the endorsement, it would have been "coordinated".  But, as a matter of ethics, Mr. Quinn recused himself and played no role in the newsletter.  The RI-BOE agreed that this was the case even though they ignored it. 

The RI-BOE had the LCTA "guilty as charged" even before the hearing began.  The hearing proceedings were along the line of kangaroo court where facts didn't matter and proof wasn't required.  The LCTA was found guilty and warned not to do it again.

Baloney! The LCTA refused to roll over and take this.  A federal civil rights lawsuit was filed with the US District Court, Judge John McConnell, Jr.  Attorneys Robert Senville and Carolyn Mannis represented the LCTA, and the RI Attorney General represented the RI-BOE.  The LCTA asked for a copy of the tape recording of the hearing, but the tape was suddenly found to be inaudible... just as it was in a separate action involving Ken Block who ran as a Moderate in the race for Governor.  The RI-BOE gave the same reason - the tape machine operator caused the problem.  Once again, this is Rhode Island!

Early on, the Attorney General indicated that he had nothing to defend the RI-BOE's actions with.  To try to avert having this discovered in court, the RI-BOE withdrew its findings against the LCTA and attempted to declare the case moot before Judge McConnell.  As with many cases, the judge urges the opposing parties to try to settle out of court.  That is what Judge McConnell did in this case.

There was a settlement which vindicated the LCTA, invalidated the McKenzie's misguided adventure, and repaid both the LCTA and its Attorneys for all the money that was spent - $45,000.  If the Attorney General's costs and the Court's costs are included, the bill to the taxpayers is on the order of $100,000 - all because the McKenzie's did not like the outcome of the election and tried to silence the LCTA.  They should be made to pay these costs for wasting the time of so many people and wasting so many taxpayer dollars.

Click here to see the Consent Order that ended the case.

Click here to see a article on this subject by Donna Perry on March 1, 2012.

The LCTA has asked Little Compton's Senator DiPalma to look into this matter and initiate action against the RI-BOE such that this does not happen again.  It is a good lesson in freedom of speech being defended, and a warning to those who cannot win the public debate and, instead, try to muzzle those with opposing points of view by manipulating and abusing the public process.

Chalk up one for the LCTA!

No more Treasurer & Tax Collector Elections?
February 23, 2012

The Budget Committee Chairman, Scott Morrison, appeared before the Town Council tonight alerting the Council that for 2 years in a row, the Town's fiscal audit revealed serious deficiencies in the financial management of the Town. The report cited serious deficiencies in the handling of and accounting for Town funds.  Mr. Morrison quoted the auditors as follows:

"The Town's system of financial reporting and internal controls over financial reporting is not adequately designed and that the Town does not possess the requisite internal human resource capabilities."

Mr. Morrison further stated that the ultimate responsibility for management of the Town's finances rests with the Town Council and, therefore, the Council must make changes that are deemed to be necessary to insure the Town's finances are properly managed.

The Budget Committee's suggested course of action is to change the Town's Home Rule Charter to make the Treasurer and Tax Collector positions appointed by the Council rather than elected in the general elections

The Council agreed to look into this. More to follow.

The Wilbur and McMahon School Renovation
January 31, 2012
(Revised 2/2/2012)

Finally, the School Committee has produced a renovation plan that resolves the problems associated with health, safety, and building code deficiencies that have plagued the facility for many years.  The plan appears to be much more affordable than any plan previously proposed by the School Committee's building committee. 

As presented in previous articles on this web site, the following is a history of the cost proposals that the School Building Committee (SBC) has proposed:

• JCJ's "Option 5" (Sep 23, 2008) was $22.5M ($35.6M with int)
• DB's estimate (Oct 10, 2010): $28.3M ($44.8M with int)
• DB's estimate (Oct 28, 2010): $23.3M ($37M with int)
• DB's estimate (Nov 8, 2010): $21.6M ($34M with int)
• DB's estimate (Feb 25, 2011): $19.2M ($32M with int)
• DB's estimate (Mar 9, 2011): $18.9M ($31M with int)

 ("JCJ" is JCJ Architects, "DB" is Durkee Brown Architects)

The cost proposal on the table now is $17,646,178 including interest on a 20-year loan.  The RI Department of Education (RIDE) will pick up 40% of that cost leaving the Town's share at $10,587,707 over the course of 20-years.  Click here for a complete cost breakout.

The effect of this expenditure will be a tax rate increase of approximately 4.7% or 29¢ per $1,000 of assessed value.  This is worst case.  The final tax rate may be less. The table below gives a glimpse of the homeowner's annual out-of-pocket cost for this project based upon the assessed value of the home. 

Assessed Value

Added Tax















Click here for a list of health, safety, and code deficiencies in various work areas.

Click here for a lists of costs for the various repairs.

On January 19, 2012, the Town Council voted to put this expenditure to an all-day referendum rather than a Special Financial Town Meeting.  An all-day referendum is conducted in similar fashion as an election where the gym is open all day for voting.  This gives every registered voter in Little Compton - even those who are absent - the opportunity to vote yes or no on this project.  There will be three public hearings prior to the referendum.

This is the most expensive project ever undertaken by the Town of Little Compton.  There is little question that work needs to be done at the school.  If the voters say no, the repairs are still needed and will have to be done on a pay-as-you-go basis. The choice is yours.

Custer Housing Dead - For Now!
October 27, 2011

The Town Council and the Planning Board held a joint hearing tonight on CLUSTER HOUSING (they call it "conservation zoning" to disguise what it really is).  There were approximately 75 people in attendance.

The vote ended up 4-against, and 1-for.  Bob Mushen was the single vote in favor.  The 4 "NO" votes were based on voters being against it rather than the flaws and negatives of the proposal itself.  That coupled with Bob Mushen's "YES" vote leads one to believe that this will be back again. 

The flaws that were identified by those of the public in attendance were:

1. There is a tax impact on clustering - the taxpayers have to subsidize part of the development.


2. The conservation portion of the parcel will be the responsibility of groups such as Ag Trust, Conservation this or that, etc.


     a. These organizations have not confirmed this and certainly have not agreed to it
     b. What if they go bankrupt?
     c. Who polices the unauthorized use of the land (e.g., parking a bunch of boats or rusty vehicles on the conservation land)?


3. There is no burden of proof that a parcel can fit X-number of homes with septic systems under conventional zoning in order to determine how many homes are allowed in a cluster in the same parcel (a necessary step).  There's no requirement to prove that a septic system could be placed conventionally.  This is normally done with a perc test and a water table test.  All the developer has to do is say it - not prove it.


4. Clustering septic systems has a higher probability of polluting an area, the ground water, or nearby wetlands than conventional zoning.  This includes pollution from potentially dangerous medications from human waste.

We are happy with the outcome of this vote, but we are disturbed by the reasoning behind the vote. 

<<< Wilbur School Project - Rejected! >>>
July 21, 2011

Today, the Rhode Island Board of Regents rejected the School Committee's final push for State subsidy of the "downsized" Wilbur & McMahon School renovation project.  As a result of a financial crisis in the State, the General Assembly put a moratorium on school construction projects except in isolated cases involving health and safety. 

Consequently, the Wilbur project was "downsized" to only those repairs involving health, safety, and Code violations.  The list that was sent to the Board of Regents on July 6, 2011 included some questionable items in that they didn't appear to be health, safety, or Code issues (e.g., a new Science lab).  The School Committee may have over-reached.

Click here to see the General Assembly's letter back to RIDE.

In any event, the Board of Regents chose to not pass the request to the General Assembly.  Now it is time to do the necessary repairs using the School surplus of $1.3-Million as a start.

The School - Keep That Price High!
July 16, 2011

One of the things that drives your Taxpayers Association crazy is the lack of common sense by the mandarins running the School. They saw nothing wrong with entertaining a 45 million construction project that would have been the largest assumption of debt in Little Compton history, but now they are off and running on "Health and Safety" issues as a result of the General Assembly saying it has no money for school construction costs (as we have warned for a long time). That bill is close to $15 million! ($22 Million with interest on a 20-year loan).

One safety issue has to do with a second exit from the Cafeteria that must be addressed before school opens in September -- a few weeks from NOW. They have debated, discussed, had endless meetings, and there is still NO PLAN to address this issue. They had an "estimate" to design a door, by their Architects, that was $16,000!  Imagine a door design that could cost as much as the door itself!  To add clarity:  It's a hole in the outside wall! 
WE see the possibility of a referendum to be put before the taxpayers asking for concurrence to spend millions on "health and safety" issues.  It's insane!  These people are like the Energizer Bunny - they keep going, and going, and going...

Sen. DiPalma - It's Worse Than We Thought!
July 10, 2011

 In the article below, we strongly criticized Sen. DiPalma for voting in favor of the failed Teacher Binding Arbitration bill (SB-794).  In looking deeper into what happened on June 29, 2011, we learned of several proposed amendments that Sen. DiPalma voted against in lockstep with Senator Leader Teresa Paiva-Weed.  All of them failed.

  1. An amendment to make the "last best offer" come from the "local educational authority" (i.e., School Committee) rather than the Union.  Sen. DiPalma preferred the Union's last best offer and voted no.

  2. An amendment to allow the School Committee to reject an arbitrator's decision on a 2/3 majority vote within 5-days.  Sen. DiPalma said no.

  3. An amendment to allow the Commissioner of Education (currently Deborah Gist) to set aside a decision by an arbitrator.  Sen. DiPalma said no.

It is clear once again that Sen. DiPalma has joined in an unholy alliance with the Unions to strip local management of authority and decision making.  His choice is to solidify the authority of an unelected third party hack to dictate how much the town's taxpayers have to fork over to the union employees.

This is unacceptable and should be closely watched because it will come up again in the Fall session and we have no reason to believe that Sen. DiPalma will change his stripes.  It's pretty clear where he stands.  We want him to be "standing" on the outside looking in.  Hopefully the 2012 election will see to that.


Sen. Louis DiPalma



Another Sell-Out by Sen. Louis DiPalma
June 30, 2011

Once again, Little Compton and all the other cities and towns in Rhode Island have dodged the bullet.  On June 29, 2011, our own Senator Louis DiPalma voted for Teacher Binding Arbitration (Senate Bill 794) along with Senate Leader Teresa Paiva-Weed and 18 other Union subservient senators passing the bill 20-to-17.  Fortunately, the House held the bill for "further study" so that it did not become law (but it will no doubt come back).

Why is Teacher Binding Arbitration bad?

It takes the power to set teacher salaries and benefits from our local Little Compton School Committee and hands it over to unelected "Arbitrators" whose selection is by both the School Committee AND THE UNION!  If they don't deliver for the Union, they won't get picked and, consequently, won't get paid.  Conflict of interest?

Not only does this jeopardize Deborah Gist's education reforms, but it allows "outsiders" to influence the tax rate in Little Compton.  It won't take long for our tax rate (which is currently well under control) to start rising like a ballistic missile.  It has nothing to do with education and everything to do with more entitlements for union employees... just what Rhode Island needs.

If you click on "Archives" on the left side of this web page, you will find an article that we wrote about Sen. DiPalma on June 21, 2009 entitled "ANOTHER BAD SENATE BILL".  If you click on "Newsletters" and bring up the 2010 newsletter, you can read where we said "He is paid for and owned by unions and has sold the towns and cities down the river."


Good candidates, we need you.  Come out, come out, wherever you are!!!  Little Compton, Tiverton, Middletown, or Newport.  It makes no difference so long as they are advocates for the taxpayers rather than the unions. Again, DiPalma has to go so he can't do any more damage to us.  Your town and taxes depend on his defeat.  He ran unopposed in the last election.  We must not let that happen again.

Senator Louis P. DiPalma
Democrat, District 12
Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton

Rhode Island has no money for Wilbur School Project
May 23, 2011

As we have been warning the Town for quite some time, Rhode Island is broke and cannot be relied upon for the "promised" funding for the $31-Million school project that has been the subject of many of our newsletters and letters to the editor.  The following article appeared in the May 23, 2011 edition of the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition's "RISC-Y Business" eNewsletter.  It is now time to get real and start fixing those things in the school that need fixing. The General Assembly sent a letter dated 5/12/2011 to the Board of Regents saying: "In light of the State's current fiscal condition, we are asking that the Board not act on any construction and renovation projects currently under review by RIDE until further direction from the General Assembly."   Click Here to see the full letter.

Census shows R.I. has 10 percent fewer children
March 31, 2011
By Paul Edward Parker
Journal Staff Writer

As Rhode Island’s population barely grew from 2000 to 2010, the number of children calling the Ocean State home declined by almost 24,000, or 10 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The decline in the total number of children statewide might come as a surprise to many, but not to Mark G. Brown, a demographer at the Statewide Planning Program and manager of the state data center.

“Our projections of that population show continued decline over the next five years to 2015, and then a bit of a rebound,” said Brown. The projections don’t show an increase of the 2000 child population until 2030, he said.

The decline is due, in part, to economic conditions, he said. But, mostly, it is the lingering effect of demographic trends, including lower birth rates, in the wake of the baby boom that followed World War II and ended in the early 1960s, he said. “It’s just all part of that cycle.”

Our School Building Committee sees things differently despite this article and their own demographics study which says the same thing as Mark Brown says above.  They want to increase the floor space at the Wilbur & McMahon School!  The map on the left shows Little Compton to be in the 10% to 20% decline category.  Go figure.

See the full Providence Journal article.  Click here.


Town Council Fails To Stop The Spending
March 24, 2011

The Town Council had the opportunity to stop the very expensive school project at its 24 March 2011 meeting, but failed to do so.  Given the excellent performance of this Council in the past, we are disappointed that they failed to show leadership on this one item and have set the taxpayers up for 20 years of increased taxes.  Instead of fixing the problems in the school building, they went along with the School Committee's wish list for "bells & whistles" along with an expansion of floor space with a decreasing student head count projected over the next 10 years.  The School Committee has accumulated $1.3-Million in surplus dollars.  If they had used this money to keep up with repairs and maintenance, we might not be in this position today.

Instead of rejecting the project in order to answer the many questions that still abound, the Council voted on the following motion.  Only Councilor Mataronas had the sense to vote no.

I move that the Town Council supports a school building project to correct the educational, safety, access, and environmental deficiencies of Wilbur McMahon school.  The proposed project as detailed in the revised Stage II application as of 24 March 2011, contains areas of concern which have not yet been satisfactorily addressed, but which are achievable prior to project authorization.  By copy of this vote, the School Committee is requested to address each of these issues and work with the Town Council to satisfy each concern:

1.    The overall cost of the project as presented is considered excessive when compared with cost estimates for correcting only the known physical plant deficiencies.  A plan which offers a 10 million dollar construction cost needs to be proposed.

2.    The proposed modifications which are not critical to correcting educational, access, or environmental deficiencies must be reviewed and modified (example: kitchen/cafeteria).

3.    Review by a traffic engineer must be initiated now to resolve the feasibility of the southwest expansion of the building and its impact on the site.

4.    The site work estimate - 1.3 million dollars - should be reviewed in detail with the goal of eliminating any avoidable cost or increase in footprint.  The DEM Passive Recreation grant already awarded to the Town is available as an alternative source of funding.

5.    The requested project bond estimate should be immediately decreased by the amount of unrestricted reserve funds under the control of the school district (currently a figure in excess of one million dollars).

Upon satisfactory accomplishment of these actions, the Town Council expects to schedule the project for a vote by the electors of the town.

Those voting yes believe they scored a major concession by restricting the construction cost to $10-Million.  Not so fast!  When you add the "soft costs", subtract school surplus, and then add the interest, the tab jumps up to $19.3-Million.  Assuming the State provides 42% of this as promised (with no guarantees), the Town's share would be $11.2-Million.  The annual increase in the tax levy would be $560,000... or 5.5% increase over the Budget Committee's latest estimate of property taxes.  Add 4% more to cover the normal budget increases and you are looking at a 9.5% tax hike.  Are you able and willing to absorb this in today's economy?

Based upon this turn of events, it is reasonable to assume that the Town Council will let this go to the people for a vote.  The Council's vote on this will be our next opportunity to shut this project down.  If the Council once again drops the ball, then the project will have to be stopped when it comes to a vote by the people. 

If we do succeed in stopping the Taj Mahal from being built, what would we do in its place?  Using what's left of the existing School Building Committee, send out an RFQ (Request For Qualifications) using both the MVG and the RGB reports as a "scope of work" amended as necessary and a projected budget not to exceed a certain amount, then using the QBS (Qualifications-Based Selection) process, select an experienced school building architect to develop a set of detailed drawings & specifications to be submitted as a revised Stage II application.  The goal of the proposal would be to fully satisfy all building structural and safety codes in addition to RIDE Educational Standards.  And RIDE has stated that the Town might see a 40% subsidy from the State for this approach.

We'll be closely following events and keeping you posted with reports and analysis and opinions.

The School Building Project - Yikes!
March 9, 2011

The Wilbur & McMahon School Building Committee continues its high priced game of roulette with your money in an economy that common sense should tell anybody to avoid long term debt - especially a debt larger than anything Little Compton has ever seen!  What makes them think the townspeople can afford a multi-million dollar project that goes well beyond the real repairs that should get done?

The latest estimate is $18,930,961 not including the interest on the loan.  Using 5.5% interest for a 20-year loan, the debt becomes $31,253,683.

The "golden ring" is a State subsidy of 42% to 47% that cannot be guaranteed for 20-years of payments.  If it really does come, the Town's share of the debt is:

$16,564,451  to  $18,127,136

Here's where we have been:

JCJ's "Option 5" (Sep 23, 2008) was $22.5M ($35.6M with int)
DB's estimate (Oct 10, 2010): $28.3M ($44.8M with int)
DB's estimate (Oct 28, 2010): $23.3M ($37M with int)
DB's estimate (Nov 8, 2010): $21.6M ($34M with int)

DB's estimate (Feb 25, 2011): $19.2M ($32M with int)
DB's estimate (Mar 9, 2011): $18.9M ($31M with int)

("JCJ" is JCJ Architects, "DB" is Durkee Brown Architects)

Look at this track record!  And they haven't started to build anything! The school needs maintenance -- where is the plan?

We do not want any debt -- pay as you go -- as needed!

CAFS - Stuck In The Past
March 3, 2011

The Little Compton Fire Department - STUCK IN THE PAST.  You have to read this.

The opinions expressed in the website below do not necessarily reflect the official opinions and positions of the LCTA!

Click here

We received the following email from one of our members:

As a member of the LCTA I wish to pass along this story.

Yesterday I received a delivery from a company I do business with in Northern Connecticut.  The driver has been making deliveries to my location here in Little Compton for years.  

This man is a full time fire fighter and resident in this community in Northern Connecticut and drives the delivery truck as a second job.  Over the years I have heard stories describing nothing short of heroic deeds performed by he and his fellow firemen saving life, property and the environment.  On this visit his story was stunning, in a different way.  He informed me very proudly that his fire department just voted to DE-UNIONIZE.  It was a unanimous decision on the part of the local firefighters.  The reasons were that the union was making unfair demands on the town folks of which he was one.  The firefighters in this community evidently are very sensitive to the local resident's situation in this weak economy and saw that the Union's demands were placing the firefighters in a bad light.  Much to the chagrin of the Union representative, they took a vote in his presence and sent the Union packing.

I told him the story about how we here in Little Compton came to invest in and obtain the new fire truck with CAFS and how the local firefighters are stonewalling any effort to get trained on it.  His reaction was startling, he started pulling his hair out asking why on earth they did not want to use "ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL TOOLS TO FIGHT FIRE".  He was well aware of the Exeter RI fire departments adaptation of CAFS and was dumbfounded as to the mentality that exists here.

Please keep up your efforts to try to talk sense into our local leadership to put the taxpayers and local residents first.

Wouldn't it be nice if our firefighters displayed this type of consideration for us taxpayers?  Please continue to urge our leadership to foster these high standards.

Battle Of The High Schools
January 8, 2011

The Wilbur & McMahon School Administration has now been given presentations by Middletown, Portsmouth, and Tiverton high schools regarding a contract to educate Little Compton's high school students after the current contract ends.  The existing arrangement is with Portsmouth High School, but the contract runs out in 2012.  The presentations were conducted in the gymnasium and were reasonably well attended by parents and concerned citizens.  A strong component of the selection criterion will be input from those who have attended the presentations, or watched them on Cox Channel 18 (the Little Compton Taxpayers Association video recorded the presentations for the Town and provided the recordings to the Public, Education, and Government group - PEG - that runs its material on Cox Channel 18). 

The cost per student was not discussed during any of the presentations - just programs, achievements, and test scores.  Dollars and cents will come later.  Superintendent Kathryn Crowley has indicated that a selection will be made by April of this year.

LCTA Board of Directors News
December 3, 2010

The Board of Directors of the Little Compton Taxpayers Association (LCTA) received a request/announcement by Kevin Healey, a Board member, to take an extended Leave of Absence from the Board.  Kevin indicated a desire to spend more time working on his blog <> and working with the RI Tea Party.  By a unanimous vote of the Board, we honored that request. We wish him well and thank him for his passion, work, and commitment on behalf of the LCTA.  Again, Kevin, thanks.

PEG Awards - 2010
November 12, 2010

The Little Compton Taxpayers Association works hard to bring various town meetings into the homes of people who cannot attend the meetings for a variety of reasons including disabilities, lack of transportation, illness, working, etc.  We do this as a public service at no cost to the town by video recording Town Council meetings, School Committee meetings, Hearings, Sub-Committee meetings (e.g., School Building Committee), and special events.  The videos are produced at the home of one of our members and delivered to the Public, Education, Government (PEG) studio in Portsmouth and then played on Cox Channel 18.

Every year, PEG conducts a competition of the best video in a variety of categories.  Finalists assemble at the Hasbro building in Pawtucket for the announcement of awards.  Our covering of Helen Glover's talk in Little Compton on September 29, 2010 made the finalists in the "BEST POLITICAL / COMMUNITY ISSUES PROGRAM" category.  We competed with four other entrants.  We did not win, but the experience and recognition was very gratifying.

Click here to see our Certificate of Achievement

The School Project - Another New Price Tag
November 8, 2010

At the November 8th meeting of the School Building Committee, yet another new price tag has been put on the table.  It has gone from $28.3-Million to $23.3-Million... and now $21.6-Million.  When you add the interest on the loan, the respective price tags are $45-Million, $37-Million, and then $34-Million.  If the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) comes through with 42% of the cost as the Building Committee claims will happen, the Town's share becomes $26-Million, then $21.5-Million, and finally $20-Million.

Does this make you feel better?

Recall that the Building Committee claimed that the costs could not be reduced because RIDE requirements dictate these costs.  Well, they've dropped the price by $11-Million in a very short amount of time.  How confident are you that the Building Committee has it right?

The School Project - Not Ready For Prime Time
October 28, 2010

On Thursday night, October 28th, the Town Council conducted a public "Informational Hearing" on the proposed School project for the purpose of hearing what the townspeople had to say.  Up until now, the total price tag was $45-Million.  At this meeting, the School Building Committee unveiled a new, revised plan with a total price tag of $37-Million.  And even though there are only 310 students at Wilbur & McMahon School, the Building Committee attempted some mathematical trickery to say that over 20 years, over 1000 kids will be pass through the school so that the per student cost is really very low.

Nice try!  One citizen didn't buy it.  He is Dick Rogers, a very well known and respected senior in town.  Mr. Rogers has vast experience with engineering construction projects and serving on town boards over many years as a Little Compton resident native. He supports "a project" but not the current project.  He feels that the Building Committee has not done an adequate job and should spend more time doing the proper planning.  Hear what he had to say by clicking below.

 Dick Rogers Speaks (click here)

And for those people who still believe that the State will send Little Compton baskets of money for this project, consider the following:

School Building Committee Chairman Assaults Town Council!
October 19, 2010

In what can best be described as an unprecedented and desperate move, School Building Committee Chairman, Thomas Allder, has lashed out at the Little Compton Town Council. Sure he threw a few barbs at the Taxpayers Association, but we are used to that.

The School Building Committee is coming down to the wire with a drop dead date of November 19, 2010, and they have yet given final approval of their 44 million dollar plan to expand and remodel the Wilbur & McMahon Schools. The Stage II documentation must be approved by the School committee prior to sending it to the Town Council for its approval. Council approval is the final step prior to submission to the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE).  Note that we put the price at $44 Million while Mr. Allder says $28 Million.  That's because he is deceptively failing to mention the $16 Million in interest on the loan.

In this long winded, fact-lacking email to the parents of all of the students of Wilbur & McMahon, Mr. Allder threw the Town Council under the bus and destroyed his credibility. He referenced the October 7, 2010 Town Council meeting where he and the architects for the school project made a presentation to the council. The LCTA was there as always with our digital video camera. Allder erroneously says that at the conclusion of the presentation Council President Mushen asked if there were any questions by his fellow council members. Allder states that there was “absolute silence.”

The fact of the matter is that there were a number of exchanges (discussions) between the architects and the council members. In particular council members Gary Mataronas asked a specific question about the RIDE reimbursement formula which led to considerable back and forth discussion. Following that, Mr. Mushen asked if there were any more questions. There were none, and he thanked the attending architects for their presentation. All of this is recorded and available for viewing if you missed it on Cox Channel 18.

Additionally, Allder says he provided an estimate to the Council as part of his presentation.  He did no such thing.  We had to drag it out of him in order to get it on the record.

If that were not bad enough, Mr. Allder goes on to fault Council members for failing to take “more interest and involvement” in the school building project. Specifically he stated that members Fred Boddington and Charles Appleton had only attended one meeting each, and that Gary Mataronas had never attended a Building Committee meeting. He said that Paul Golembeske had attended three meetings as Bob Mushen's alternate. Mr. Mushen is a sitting member of the building committee.

It gets worse. He said that voters of the community should have the right to an “up or down vote” not “the five individuals who sit on the Council.” We have news for Mr. Allder, that is the law! And we are a nation of laws. This is not a nation that is governed by mob rule. The voters of this town will have the right to vote on this issue only if he follows all of the rules, regulations, and laws which his committee has been “charged” with and either ignored or have been ignorant of since this process began. In fact, the Town Council has set aside time to vote on your proposal on the 21st of this month. But Mr. Allder's committee has failed to agree on a final plan. 

Finally, with the cooperation of Principal James Gibney, Mr. Allder took it upon himself without the approval of your committee to write this stupid email. He and Mr. Gibney are guilty of using an email informational facility, bought and paid for by the people of this town, to further their personal agenda and spread half truths and, in some case, unsubstantiated propaganda. That is an abuse of authority and totally unethical. Mr. Allder should immediately resign from the Building Committee and apologize to the members of our outstanding Town Council.  And Mr. Gibney ought to be put on notice for abusing the email service in such a partisan manner.

We have posted the Allder email unedited and uncut for folks who are not on the Wilbur & McMahon parents email list. You read it, you decide.

~~~~~~~~~~~~ Mr. Allder's EMail ~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hello to all of you. I am making a personal plea to the parents of the children who attend Wilbur McMahon School.  The Building Committee is making its final push in submitting our Stage II Application to the State.  Ed Cifune, Ashley Prester, and Doug Brown, aka our "Design Team" have done a tremendous job in creating a design that does everything the School Committee and Building Committee had hoped for.  We have kept roughly 75% of the existing school, and have added needed space that currently does not exist.  I urge you to take a look on our website at the floor plans to see exactly what our renovated school would provide.  Every square inch of this school would be updated.  

The estimate that we received from our Design Team put the cost of this project at $28.3 million dollars. This estimate includes everything, right down to the soap dispensers in the bathrooms.   The Committee is in the process of carefully reviewing the estimate, seeking to reduce the overall budget.  We are not altering the design that you will see on the website, but are eliminating some things that we feel are not necessary.  ($230,000 for a lighted ballfield is a prime example).  There are several contingencies built into the estimate that we feel are high.  The actual construction costs on the project came in at just under $16,000,000.  The additional costs that get us to 28.3 million are in the form of the "contingencies, Architectural Fees, Soft Costs, escalation costs, and then - more contingencies".   With a renovation, we have to maintain a certain "insurance policy" in our pricing, should we encounter unforeseen issues during construction. The Committee is doing what it can to make this as lean as possible.

The Building Committee, over the next couple of weeks will be crossing the "t" 's and dotting the "i"  's.  Once we have approved the final Stage II Application,  it will move on to the School Committee.  I am more than confident that the School Committee will support our efforts (we have three members on our Building Committee).  The Application will then make its final stop on its journey to submission at Town Council Chamber's.  This is where my plea begins.

     The Town Council has the ability to stop this process.  If we do not get approval by the Council, then the voters of Little Compton will not be able to consider this project.  The Taxpayers Association has "stepped up" its efforts to cast this project as unnecessary and irresponsible.   TPA members, are individually putting pressure on the Council to stop what they consider "insanity"  I STRONGLY feel that the residents of this community should be able to vote this project "up or down"- not the five individuals that sit on the Council.   On October 7th, I met with the Council with our design team, and they were provided with a short presentation that highlighted the objectives and goals of our project - along with our estimate.  At the conclusion of the presentation, Bob Mushen asked the four members of the Council who have not been involved with this project if they had any questions.  There was absolute silence.  There was not one question.  This is the biggest project that the Town has ever considered, and they had no comments.  This, too me, is not a good sign.  Bob Mushen, our Council President, is a member of the Building Committee, and is up to speed as to what we are considering.  Paul Golembeskie is Bob's alternate on the Building Committee, and has attended three meetings out of the more than thirty meetings that we have had over the past four months.  Ted Bodington, and Chuck Appleton attended our meeting on October 6th, bringing their grand total to one.  Gary Mattaronas has not attended any.  I will be the first to say that I would never expect that anybody would be able to attend all of our meetings.  As parents, I know that it is difficult to work, raise your kids, and do all the things that parents do.  I have spoken to many of you, and know that you support our efforts, and have placed your faith in this Committee to do what is necessary and sensible.  I also would never expect that the four members of the Council who are not directly involved would be at every meeting.  As members of our Towns governing Council, I would have expected more interest and involvement during this process. "Not one question or comment". 

I have not confirmed the actual day that the Town Council will consider our application.  I will let you know when that day will be.  The Council has a regularly scheduled meeting on November 18th.  This is the day before we HAVE to submit our application to the State.  There may be a special meeting - This has not been determined.  I will let you know.  The bottom line is this - I need as many parents at that meeting as possible.  We will be holding a public hearing over the next couple of weeks to invite the public, as well as the Council, to take a closer look at our project.  I will forward the critical dates to all of you on the listserve.

Thank you,
Tom Allder
Chairman LCSBC

October 12, 2010

On Memorial Day (May 31, 2010), the Little Compton School Committee held an illegal meeting to cast a vote to appropriate $106,000 for an architect for the 44 Million dollar school building project. The Little Compton Taxpayers Association (LCTA) subsequently filed a complaint with the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office. The Complaint claimed that the School Committee failed to properly advertise the meeting in accordance with the RI Open Meetings Act (OMA) thereby denying the townspeople knowledge of the meeting.

Last week the Attorney General’s office notified the School Committee and the LCTA that the School Committee’s May 31st meeting was in fact held in violation of the Open Meetings Act.

The LCTA provided the Attorney General with a video recording of the meeting.  At the meeting Mr. Joseph Quinn, a member of the School Committee, advised Chairman Michael Harrington not to go ahead with the meeting because it had not been advertised in a newspaper with general community distribution as required by the OMA. Mr. Quinn cited an exchange of emails on May 29th with Superintendent Devine, wherein Devine stated that he had not placed an ad in any newspaper.

The meeting was posted on the Secretary of State’s Web Site as a “special meeting.” During the meeting Mr. Harrington claimed that it was an “emergency” meeting, however the Attorney General’s Office ruled that the meeting did not comply with the emergency meetings provision of the OMA. Member Donald Gomez suggested that the meeting be postponed and the members polled to see if there was a consensus to authorize the funding.  He was ruled out of order.

As an attorney and “Officer of the Court” Mr. Harrington should have known and followed the legal process for conducting a public meeting. Violations of the Open Meetings Act are serious and could lead to fines and setting aside the actions of the committee. As any good attorney will tell you, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

The Attorney General's Office decided not to nullify the vote of the committee to appropriate funds for the school building program because the School Committee had “re-voted” the issue at their next meeting on June 8th. This was a very generous act on the part of the AG’s Office. Apparently the AG’s office ignored the fact that Chairman Harrington conducted the meeting in spite of Mr. Quinn’s protest and pointing out what the problem was. By proceeding with this meeting, which was in violation of the Open Meetings Act, Harrington brought discredit to himself, the School Committee, and the Town of Little Compton.

In closing the case, the Attorney General's Office admonished the School Committee: “This finding serves as notice to the School Committee that its actions violated the OMA and may serve as evidence of a willful and knowing violation in any similar future circumstances.”

Rest assured that the LCTA will be vigilant.  Government transparency is essential to conducting legitimate town business with the full knowledge of the voters.  That is why the OMA was created.  What makes Mr. Harrington believe that he is above the law?  This illegal meeting appropriated $106K of the taxpayers money which has now led to a 44 million dollar project... and very few people knew the meeting was to take place.

This violation is just one in a series of mistakes and ignorance of the rules and regulations that the School Committee and its appointed school building sub-committees have committed over the past four years. In their rush to build a new school and saddle the taxpayers with a huge 20 year debt, the various sub-committees have trampled over RI Department of Education RIDE regulations, State of Rhode Island purchasing procedures, and the Open Meetings Act, causing countless delays, wasted man hours, and thousands of wasted taxpayer’s dollars.

Two years of Chairman Michael Harrington’s malfeasance, free spending, and lack of leadership is enough. We need a “Change of Command.” We will have that opportunity on November 2, 2010.

Wilbur School "Renovation" - $44-Million
October 4, 2010

The School Building Committee has chosen a "Scheme" to resolve the issues with the building that will cost the taxpayers $44-Million!  It's an outrageous sum for a small town such as Little Compton with only 310 students projected to drop to 256 students over the next decade.  This will cause extreme financial damage to some townspeople for the next 20 years if approved.

Watch our movie to get an idea of what they are up to and an alternative approach that costs only a quarter of the $44-Million with a duraction of 6 years.

Click here to see the movie (22-minutes)

We have a new School Superintendent!
August 23, 2010

Kathryn Crowley

On July 22, 2010 Kathryn Crowley became Little Compton's new Superintendent of Schools.  Ms. Crowley lives in Cranston, RI.

The Little Compton Taxpayers Association wishes Superintendent Crowley well and looks forward to working with her.

Farewell, Dr. Devine
July 13, 2010

Farewell, Dr. Devine.  You have served Little Compton in an exemplary manner since June 2005.  You have brought credibility and transparency to the School Department's education program, its budgeting process, and its administrative functions.  You have saved the townspeople hundreds of thousands of dollars by outsourcing the transportation and by carefully managing the funds made available to you.  You have been cited numerous times for keeping Little Compton's taxes low.  Your opinions are often sought out on a variety of subject areas involving the operation of school.  In our opinion, you have had a perfect record.

 And for this, you have literally been drummed out of Little Compton by the actions of three members of the School Committee whose allegiance lies with the unions and not with what's best for the town.  They have never given a good reason for pushing you out other than a feeble "He's better suited for a big school"... as if they would know given that none of them have a background in education.

And who are these three?  Mike Harrington, Lynn Brousseau, and Micah Shapiro.  Shame on them!

We will miss you.  We sincerely wish you the best of good times with the lucky school system that hires you.  We're sure that your replacement will do a good job over time, but she will have to go a long way to fill your shoes.

Please do not think harshly of the people of Little Compton as almost all of them respect and admire you.  It's only those three named above and union people who have no limits in their quest for more and more benefits from the town, and who have caused this unnecessary upheaval.

This November, we will have the opportunity to rid the town of one of three above at the voting booth - Mike Harrington.  But we will have to wait another two years before we get our chance at the other two.  We'll let you know how we make out.

Farewell, Dr. Devine.

July 8, 2010

The Charter Review Commission proposed three additions/changes to the Charter for approval of the Town Council on July 8, 2010. Charter changes must be approved by the Town Council prior to their inclusion on the Ballot at the coming general election this November.

The most significant change was the stipulation that all LABOR CONTRACTS negotiated by the Town Council and the School Committee, be submitted to the electors at the next general election for ratification after they have been approved. The distinct advantage of the proposal was that it leveled the "playing field" and gave the electors (taxpayers) the same rights enjoyed by the members of Labor Unions. After negotiations the Labor negotiators submit the proposed contract to their members for their approval and validation. Why not the same privilege for the Taxpayers?

Contracts covering the Police and Fire Unions are subject to binding arbitration and therefore under state law that would trump validation by the electors. However the contracts covering the school are not subject to that limitation. Since budgets are the direct result of the contents of labor contracts, the terms and conditions in those contracts should have the benefit of the validation by those paying the bill -- the electors. Almost three quarters of the town budget are for school purposes  -- this is not a trivial exercise.

Cutting a budget at the Financial Town meeting is a fruitless exercise because the town is already bound by the labor contracts previously negotiated. In addition the qualified electors that chose to attend the meeting rarely exceeds 300 while the total qualified to attend and vote is over 2500. The turn out at general elections is usually about 1,200 and at times exceed that number!   

The Town Council chose not to put that Charter change before the electors this fall for their approval of the change. The vote was 3 against and 2 for the change -- one vote shy of a momentous change that would have changed the overwhelming power of the Labor Unions which have us on an unsustainable path leading to bankruptcy. Pleas to the Council to let the electors decide were not compelling enough to move the requirement for validation to the fall ballot! Even the fact that the 7 member Charter Review Commission was unanimously in favor of the change was not compelling enough.

As the chairman of the committee I was disappointed. Changes of this type do take time and effort to bring about change.  I will keep trying.

Roy Bonner
Chair, Charter Review Commission
Vice Chair, Little Compton Taxpayers Association

They owe us an explanation!
June 6, 2010

The School Building Committee has made a decision on architectural support, and the School Committee has gone along with it.  The Building Committee issued a request for proposals for architectural work on the school.  They picked the highest bidder with the least amount of experience in K-12 schools... NONE! to be specific.

Here's what the School Building Committee had to work with.

Name of Company


K-12 Experience

Durkee-Brown-Viveiros-Werenfels (Prov)



Jonathan Levi Architects (Boston)


3 schools, limited scope

Robinson Green Beretta (RGB-Prov)


2.5-Million Sq-Ft

They negotiated Durkee-Brown-Viveiros-Werenfels down to $106,000.  One third of the original bid!  And it's still higher than RGB, the most qualified bidder which already has experience with Wilbur & McMahon School.  But Durkee-Brown-Viveiros-Werenfels is who they picked.  And they probably could have negotiated RGB to a lower price, but they chose not to do so.

They say that a good company learns from its mistakes.  After 2.5-Million Sq-Ft, one would have to say that RGB has learned from its mistakes.  Durkee-Brown-Viveiros-Werenfels is probably a good company and they will probably learn from their mistakes.  With zero experience in elementary schools, however, Little Compton will be the mistakes they learn from!

The School Committee owes us an explanation!

We have a new Fire Chief!
May 20, 2010

At the May 20, 2010 meeting of the Little Compton Town Council, Richard G. Petrin was sworn in as the Town's new Fire Chief. 

The Little Compton Taxpayers Association wishes Chief Petrin well and looks forward to working with him.

How to get a ZERO Tax increase!
May 13, 2010

Update: The motion failed on a voice vote.  The taxes go up 4.32%.

The present recommendation of the Budget Committee results in a tax increase of 4.32%. We do not believe that to be necessary. Money from the General Fund can offset that, as it did last year and resulted in a zero increase in our tax.

The Town has a Surplus of just over 2 million dollars. The Town's General Fund has a balance of 1.3 million dollars. That balance will grow as the fourth quarter taxes are paid in mid-June. Our motion to amend the "ARTICLE ONE of the Warrant,  after the Budget strokes are approved, will be made from the floor. We will move to add $400,000+/- to the amount in the "Revenues" section on page 15 of the Report of the Budget Committee. The present amount shown is $69,072.

If we are to prevail, we will need a sufficient turn out of voters to assure that our motion carries. We plan to ask for a Secret Ballot to avoid any miscalculation and to assure privacy on this important vote. We ask that you encourage your friends and neighbors to attend the FTM, stay to the end, and vote for our motion. We need you!

This was discussed during the May 13th Budget Committee Hearing, but was supported by only one of its five members.  The remaining four members spoke out against the idea. The reasons given are not, in our view, substantial enough to impose a sizeable tax increase in these difficult economic times. This is an opportunity for you to express your view and prevent an unnecessary tax increase.

School Building Committee to Hold Public Meeting
April 22, 2010

The School Building Committee is holding a public information meeting on Wednesday, April 28th.  We encourage you to go to the meeting and ask questions about the project where you have concerns.  The following is the announcement.  It includes a link to the Committee's web site for the project.

Note (April 29, 2010): A total of 33 townspeople attended.


An Opportunity on April 28th

The Little Compton School Building Committee would like to invite the residents of Little Compton to attend a "roundtable" discussion with the Building Committee.  The only item on the agenda will be "public input" - that's it!!  We want to hear from you.  What have you heard?  What do you think?  If you've sat back and asked yourself, "What in the world is this Building Committee doing??", then we would love to have you there.

A recent article in the paper did a good job highlighting the things we have been working on, but that interview was almost three months ago!  We have new things to share with you, and we will dedicate some measure of time to bringing you up to speed, BUT, only if you would like us to.  This is YOUR meeting!!

The Wilbur McMahon School and its future is one of the most important issues this Town will ever consider.  The Building Committee needs to know how the residents of Little Compton feel.  We are acting on your behalf!!..

PLEASE COME!!!  This will be held at the School Commons on April 28th from 5:30 - 7:00 PM.  We will be serving some refreshments, given that this will be occurring during the dinner hour, so know that you won't be leaving hungry!  We will serve the food at 5:30, and give folks a chance to say hello.  We will  get to the business at hand right around 6:00, so know that if you are a little late, you won't miss anything.  Our Building Committee will be meeting immediately following, from 7:00 - 8:30, so you are welcome and encouraged to attend that meeting as well.   We are also planning to coordinate an "activities center" for those parents who may find difficulty in obtaining childcare for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, we invite you to visit our website.  The direct link to the website is:, or access us through the school's website by clicking on "News" on the home page, and then clicking on "Building Committee".  We have created a calendar that shows what we are doing and when. Please take a look!!!  We will confirm on the website homepage if we are able to have the "activities center" on the 28th. 

On behalf of the Building Committee, Thank you.

Tom Allder

School Building Committee On The Right Track
March 24, 2010

The School Building Committee, to its credit, responded positively to a proposal by the committee's chairman, Tom Allder, to narrow the focus of the committee to renovation and addition rather than tearing everything down and building new.  This is a far less expensive approach to resolving the school's infrastructure problems that the Little Compton Taxpayers Association has supported since an independent architect (RGB Architects from Providence) addressed this subject in a meeting of the committee.  RGB cleared away many of the misconceptions that had been left by the previous architect (JCJ) who evidently had a vested interest in building new. 

Although there was some resistance to Mr. Allder's proposal and the wording of the proposal was altered slightly to placate the dissenters, the final vote on the proposal was 7 to 3 in favor with one abstention.  Those voting NO were Lynn Brousseau, Beryl Borden, and BG Shanklin.

We commend Mr. Allder for bringing the real world to the School Building Committee and looking at things in a very logical and sensible light.  It should be noted that this vote is non-binding and could change should certain circumstance evolve. 

In fact, the wording of the proposal was changed to say "It is the sense of the committee that the Wilbur & McMahon School project is a 'renovation/addition' to the existing school with the intent of utilizing as much of the existing school as is architecturally, financially, and educationally prudent" rather than the original proposal which began "Vote to designate the 'scope of work' for the Wilbur McMahon School project as a 'renovation/addition' to the existing school..."

This is a giant step in the right direction because prior to this, the "sense of the committee" was to saddle the town with a 37-Million dollar bill by demolishing most of the school and building new.

But there are still those on the committee who favor that approach.  Needless to say, the Taxpayers Association will continue to closely monitor the activities of the School Building Committee.  When we are ready to fully support an approach, we will say so.

 School Building Committee Gets A Dose Of Reality
February 24, 2010

First off, let’s set the stage for you for the event that took place at last week’s meeting of the Little Compton School Building Committee.

Back in July of 2009, LCTA Board of Directors member, Roger Lord, made a presentation to the Little Compton Town Council on our view of the entire proposal of the then School Facilities Needs Committee which claimed that the town needed to replace the Wilbur & McMahon School. Our position was that the school is still a viable facility and should be repaired rather than replaced. At Roger’s suggestion the Council agreed that the Facilities Needs Committee needed to get a new independent review with an estimate of what it would take to bring the school up to date with new building and fire codes. Donald Gomez, Chairman of the Facilities Needs Committee, who was in attendance at our presentation, agreed with the council’s decision.

The Facilities Needs Committee generated a Request for Proposals (RFP) and an engineering evaluation was conducted by RGB Architectural/Engineering Company of Providence.  Their estimate to restore the facility was $10,479,980. By the time the estimate was returned, the Facilities Needs Committee had been dissolved and replaced by the School Building Committee. Unfortunately the estimate was ignored by the new committee which seems hell bent on building a new school.

Once again we pressed the issue with Building Committee Chairman Tom Allder and he finally agreed to have a representative of RGB appear before his committee to discuss their estimate and address refurbishing rather than replacing the school facility.

That brings us up to last Tuesday evening (Feb. 24th). Mr. Steve Hughes of RGB who had conducted the engineering estimate addressed the School Building Committee. Mr. Hughes made a very comprehensive presentation of the results of his survey. It is RGB’s professional opinion that the school facility is structurally sound and could be repaired. He stated that the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) is very reluctant to fund the tearing down existing schools and replacing them.

Hughes said that RGB has done over 2.5 millions of square feet of K through 12 work, and that it is always cheaper to refurbish than replace existing facilities. He added, that even if you had to totally gut the building and use only the existing structure, it is always more cost effective. It did not take a body language expert to note that his claims did not sit well with some members of the committee. Mr. Hughes had practical and factual responses to every question asked by committee members. He readily admitted that his survey did not address RIDE oriented educational program issues, but that is not what the RFP had called for them to do.

We could write a book about the history of this entire school building debacle. Let it suffice to say that it has been beset with misconceptions, mistakes, a less than satisfactory consultant (JCJ Corporation), an onslaught of idealistic education wonks who want to reinvent a highly successful school, and a massive waste of valuable time and money. Wilbur & McMahon is a high performing school and is not in need of major changes to facilitate the education program.

We compare JCJ’s misguided efforts and the RGB report to a sundial vs. an atomic clock. Also, RGB’s answers to questions about “fixing what we have” as creative, innovative, cost effective, and a common sense approach. They hit a home run while JCJ - time and time again - struck out. It is time to get away from a 35 million dollar project that we can’t afford.

We welcome your feedback and comments.

School Building Committee News
February 12, 2010

The School Building Committee continued to plod along tonight in the direction of building a new school. Chairman Tom Allder of the School Building Committee was on the School Committee meeting agenda to request go-ahead funding for two Requests for Proposals (RFP’s). The first RFP is to hire a consultant for an environmental impact study of two adjacent plots of town owned land that may be involved in the proposed school building project. SC member Joe Quinn moved that the request for funding should be amended to exclude any amount of money in the RFP. Quinn said that leaving out a reference to money will encourage bidders to “sharpen their pencils.”

Allder's second request seeks funds to pay for “definitive” plans from an architect for a new facility.  The plans will be submitted to the RI Department of Education (RIDE) as part of an application for reimbursement on the $37 Million project. Joe Quinn moved to table that motion because the Building Committee failed to deliver the proposal “on time” to Dr. Devine. The School Committee tabled the request until their next meeting on February 24th.

Superintendent Devine made an appeal for the School Committee to get out of the way and let the School Building Committee “do its job.”  Dr. Devine, along with four members of the School Committee in addition to Principal Jim Gibney, are on the School Building Committee and represent 35% of the members.  The LCTA has long been critical of having 4 members of the School Committee serving on the School Building Committee. Our concerns were reinforced when the four members walked out of a recent meeting of the Building Committee to avoid what was called a potential “conflict of interest.”

While this more than three year old process drags on, the price tag grows. Tonight's requests now have the preliminary costs in the 6-figure range... and they are not even part of the actual project assuming it ever begins.  Taxpayers beware!


Harrington drops out - Building Committee

February 12, 2010

February 12, 2009: Chairman Tom Allder of the Little Compton School Building Committee in a surprise announcement today said that School Committee Chairman Michael Harrington has tendered his resignation from the Building Committee. Harrington sited “personal reasons” and that; “He can no longer dedicate the time required to fulfill his obligations as a member of the Building Committee.”

Mr. Harrington was one of four (4) members of the School Committee serving on the Building Committee.

The School Building Committee was appointed by the School Committee last November to work on the development of plans to build a new school in Little Compton.

Fire Department - We Have Problems

January 21, 2010


At the January 21, 2010 Town Council meeting, it was learned that our on-duty firemen assisted Tiverton in an early morning house fire on January 15th leaving our own town unprotected because our off-duty firemen would not answer their telephones to return to duty in order to man the fire house.  Great.  The Town Council has launched an investigation into this. 

In another item of business, it was further learned that NONE of our firemen who took the written exam for the Captain's position were able to pass the test.  Now we are going to have to wait for our new Fire Chief to be selected before filling the Captain slot which probably means we'll have to recruit from outside the town.

It should also be pointed out that at the Walker fire on West Main Road a few weeks ago, the Fire Department decided, without explanation, NOT to use the Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS) that the town purchased for them.  Instead, they used plain water and probably caused much more water damage than was necessary.  Guess you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

We have problems in the fire barn!

School Committee - There She Goes Again!

January 13, 2010


January 13, 2010:  At tonight’s meeting of the Little Compton School Committee meeting, member Lynn Brousseau launched what can best be described as a paranoid attack on the Little Compton Taxpayers Association (LCTA).

Ms. Brousseau was reacting to the announcement that the Attorney General had ruled that the Full Day Kindergarten Committee was not in violation of the Open Meetings Act (OMA) complaint, Healey V the Little Compton School Committee.

Ms. Brousseau angrily proclaimed that the case was a “personal vendetta” perpetrated by the LCTA in retribution for her vote that replaced Conservative Chairman Joe Quinn (a member of the LCTA Board of Directors) with Liberal Michael Harrington, a move she claimed changed the balance of power on the committee motivated by the fact that it was the Quinn led Committee that had privatized student transportation (this saved us much more than $100,000 each year in the last two years, with a projection of $900,000 over a 5 year period).

The odd thing about this, as was pointed out after Ms. Brousseau's diatribe, was that the Taxpayers Association had nothing to do with the OMA complaint.  In fact, the Association's Board of Directors voted against filing the complaint.

Brousseau reminded all gathered that she had been called a “back stabbing weasel.” True! Thanks for the memory, Lynn! Since you have turned the spotlight on yourself as Vice Chairman of the School Committee, a title afforded by her new compatriot, Michael Harrington, let's look at your less than stellar record over the past year or so.

  • You voted against renewing the contract of Dr. Harold Devine, arguably the best Superintendent in the history of Wilbur & McMahon.

  • When that did not work, you and your liberal majority refused to give this outstanding public servant a pay raise despite the fact that every other town employee got a raise.

  • You voted to expand the teaching staff in spite of the fact that we have one of the lowest student/teacher ratios in the State.

  • You voted to replace the ½ day kindergarten program with full-day kindergarten.  Money is no object when "it's for the children" including your own children.

  • You voted to match the pay of part time workers with full time employees, calling them the hardest working people in the building.

  • You failed to perform the duties assigned to the Full-Day Kindergarten Adhoc Committee.

  • You scheduled an illegal meeting of that committee and then cancelled it at the last moment when Dr. Devine pulled your "buns" out of the fire.

  • You strongly support spending 37 million dollars to build a new school.

Not a bad track record for just over a year in office. We can hardly wait for the next chapter. Yes, unfortunately there will be more. Ignorance of the law and incompetence are the witch’s brew of politics.

Wilbur & McMahon Building Committee

January 6, 2010

On January 6, 2010, the School Building Committee met.  Not much has changed.  Ben Gauthier gave a finance report where he tried to show that a $10-Million renovation is just about as expensive as the $37-Million new school.  Maybe he and the Building Committee swallowed that, but we certainly didn't and we doubt that Joe da Silva of the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) will either (he decides what a construction viable project is).

The highlight of the evening was the Public Input part.  Two citizens attended most of the meeting.  One of them blasted the Building Committee for wanting to spend $37-Million on 300 students at a time when nobody can afford it.  She was very eloquent, but it fell on deaf ears as they ignored her and continued down the trail.  The words "tone deaf" come to mind.

They are back to exploring the Peckham Lot as a site for a new school; consequently, they voted to do a site survey to look at water tables, drainage, soil composition, etc.  They also have to look at the legality of building there as the RIDE regulations state that the School District must own the property - and they do not!  We're not sure where that is heading.

But it got into a discussion as to whether to hire and architect or a civil engineer to do the site survey and whether the civil engineer or a lawyer should do a title search.  Mike Harrington, head of the School Committee and a lawyer by trade, had the audacity say that he would trust a lawyer over a civil engineer. With all the lawyer jokes out there, one would have thought that Mr. Harrington would have remained silent on this issue.

Although RGB Architects was mentioned a number of times, the Building Committee appears to have no intention to invite them to speak.  It's business as usual.  RGB is the architectural firm from Providence that developed the independent estimate for renovation last October.

Because of bad advice and poor leadership, the previous architect, JCJ from Connecticut, has caused the Building Committee to miss certain milestones meaning that the run for RIDE funding will not occur until late in the year.  Since the General Assembly must approve the appropriation, the earliest session where this could happen is the January 2011 session. 

The next meeting of the Building Committee is January 20th (Wednesday) at 6:00 PM at the school. The "New School Express" is roaring down the tracks.

Wilbur & McMahon not “Shovel Ready”

eNewsletter - December 19, 2009


December 19th 2009: After last Tuesday night's meeting of the recently formed Little Compton School Building Committee (SBC) with Mr. Joseph da Silva of the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), it is crystal clear that after at least three committees and three years of talking it over, there will be no new school project for 2010.

After hundreds of hours and countless meetings, our elected and appointed various school committees and sub committees are no closer to getting RIDE approval than they were in 2007. The problem is threefold: (a) they jumped on the new school band wagon too soon; (b) they had no idea of how to correctly pursue the process; and (c) they have squandered their time figuring out how to get the voters of Little Compton to bite.

Mr. da Silva, who directs the office of funding for school building and refurbishing projects, told the SBC that if they want to seek state funding support in 2010, the application must be on his desk by the middle of February.  This means the SBC must draw up specifications to go out for competitive bidding for an architect; give the winning firm the School District’s concept of a new school; have the architect prepare more detailed conceptual drawings with more refined cost estimates and supporting data virtually overnight; get approval of the School Committee, the Budget Committee, the Town Council, and then last but not least the voters of Little Compton.

This little exercise will cost between 50 and 100 thousand dollars.

Given the track record of the former School Facilities Committee and the present School Building Committee, which took about four meetings just to elect its officers, the people in Hell are going to get ice water before they get their act together.

What the School Department management team, elected and appointed, needs to do is to get busy and start to fix some of the problems that have been plaguing the facilities for years. Stop wasting time and money on dreams of a new “Green” school with a plaque on the wall with all of their names engraved for posterity. In other words, get real!

The problems that need to be fixed have been clearly identified and priced out by two independent architectural engineering firms. The latest estimate done several months ago at the urging of the LCTA sets the price at 10 million dollars. A far cry from the 37 million estimated cost to build a new school. Folks, this is a no brainer!  Fix the school, don’t build a new one.

Refurbishment projects are also eligible for RIDE reimbursement for at least 1/3 of the cost of the project. Do the math. Every third grader at the Wilbur & McMahon can figure this one out.

Please feel free to forward this eNewsletter to all of your friends. Also you can watch a video recording of the December 15th SBC meeting on Cox Channel 18. Check channel 17 for dates and times for the broadcast.  Pour yourself a glass of wine for this one because it lasted 3-hours, 10-minutes.  That's longer than the movie "Ten Commandments" and a further indication of the chaos associated with this project.

Free Money For Wilbur School?
November 19, 2009

Did you know that the Little Compton School Committee wants to spend $37-Million to demolish most of Wilbur & McMahon School and then rebuild it?  Did you know that you are still paying for sections of the building to be demolished?  Did you know that the plan to finance this relies on getting 35% of the cost in "free money" from the State?  Have you seen what is happening to the State's economy lately?  The following appeared in one of the RI Statewide Coalition's (RISC) electronic newsletters...


Perhaps the Little Compton School Building Committee should consider this as it marches down the trail of building a new school expecting the State to provide 35% of the cost ($13-Million).  Perhaps they should ask where the State will get the money from.  Perhaps they should consider repairing what's there now rather than demolishing it and building all over again.

Did you know?
October 10, 2009

“A typical arbitration panel is composed of three professionally trained arbitrators, one chosen by management, one chosen by the union, and one chosen by the first two. They will hear the arguments, consider the issues, and fashion a remedy, a contract. That contract almost never favors management. It almost always favors the union and for a very simple reason. Arbitrators need to work. When they work they always face the same unions on one side of the table, but different governing bodies on the other. Unions keep book on the performance of arbitrators, and they will shun or boycott arbitrators who don't favor union positions. Put bluntly, arbitrators who don't please unions don't work. Arbitrators don't have to fear governing bodies because they very seldom have to face the same one twice, and governing bodies don't keep book on them. Hence, governing bodies enter binding arbitration at a terrific disadvantage and virtually never win.” – Rhode Island Shoreline Coalition, 10/10/09 RISC-Y Business newsletter (Sign up:

This is why the Little Compton Taxpayers Association took exception to our local senator’s vote on arbitration (see below, June 21, 2009, Senator Louis DiPalma).  How does Senator DiPalma think this helps us?

The Nefarious School Committee
August 16, 2009

At its August 12, 2009 meeting, the Little Compton School Committee took a vote on renewing the Superintendent's contract for another year.  Just prior to that meeting, the Committee held a closed door Executive Session to discuss the matter.  The meeting's minutes were not sealed, so we were able to find out what went on.  Two primary matters were discussed in the session: Renewing the contract of Dr. Harold Devine, and giving him a pay raise.

Given that Dr. Devine is the best Superintendent we've had in recent memory, the Executive Session should have lasted no more than five minutes with unanimous consent on both questions.  But that's not what happened!

Lynn Brousseau and Micah Shapiro wanted to terminate the Superintendent because they feel he is better suited for a big school and not a small one.  How can these two rank amateurs with no experience in education draw such an astounding conclusion? They should be ashamed of themselves for having the gall to judge a man with 45 years of experience as compared to their obvious lack of experience.

Mike Harrington, the Committee's Chair, expressed an unwillingness to give Dr. Devine a raise as though Dr. Devine had done something wrong and needed to be punished even though every other school employee got a raise including the School Committee!  Harrington insisted that the only way he would vote to renew the contract would be if there would be no raise.  The other two members of the Committee, Joe Quinn and Don Gomez, made two proposals for a $2500 raise and then $2000.  Both proposals were defeated 3-to-2. Reluctantly, they went along with a zero raise rather than face losing Dr. Devine. In the public session, Harrington, Quinn, and Gomez voted to retain Dr. Devine; and, Brousseau and Shapiro voted to terminate him.  Dr. Devine stays but with no raise.

This has to be the most hostile, reckless, and agenda-driven school committee that we've seen in a very long time.  Dr. Devine has made many positive contributions to the school system too numerous to list here - but we will soon be publishing a newsletter that will document his outstanding achievements.

What is driving this?  We'll put it right on the table: It is a revenge campaign on the part of Harrington, Brousseau, and Shapiro directed at those who had a hand in the outsourcing of transportation, an overwhelmingly successful move that has saved the town over $100,000 in its first year and more to come in the next 4 years.  They unseated Cheryl Cady.  They nearly terminated  Dr. Devine.  And now their sights are set on Joe Quinn and Don Gomez in the election next year.  These three are an abomination.  And they keep harping how much they are concerned for the children.  How is denigrating Dr. Devine beneficial to the children or anything at the school for that matter?

If ever there was a need for a "recall provision" in our election process, it is now.  We urge the Charter Commission to add such a provision in the recommended changes that they are now working on.

Full Day Kindergarten
July 9, 2009

In yet another expansion of the Wilbur & McMahon educational programs, the School Committee, by simple majority has approved changing the present two ½ day kindergarten sessions to a Full Day Kindergarten.

Following a presentation by School Principal James Gibney during which he strongly endorsed the Full Day K concept, committee members held a long debate on the issue. Members Joseph Quinn and Micah Shapiro offered modifications to the program that were summarily brushed aside. 

Superintendent Ronald Devine said that the program would be paid for in FY 2010 by Federal stimulus funds and in subsequent years he was sure that the cost of Full Day K would not exceed the state mandated tax levy. That translates into a tax increase in the 2011 budget request.

The depth of the questions from the public suggested that more analysis was needed; consequently, Quinn and Shapiro moved to table the vote.  Mike Harrington, Lynn Brousseau, and Donald Gomez said no and went on to vote Full Day K in.  It's now a done deal.

Lynn Brousseau and Donald Gomez were charged as a sub-committee to study Full Day K.  The Open Meetings Law says a sub-committee of this type has to pre-announce its meetings to the public, and allow the public to attend.  That did not happen.  Brousseau and Gomez never held a meeting because they said they couldn't find the time.  Instead, they delegated their responsibilities to Principal Gibney.

This action, in our opinion, has circumvented the Open Meeting Law and did not provide an opportunity for ample citizen participation in the process prior to Mr. Gibney’s strong endorsement and the subsequent vote of the committee establishing a Full Day K program.  Switching to Full Day K is not trivial.  Objectivity seems to have disappeared from the majority of this School Committee.

The implementation of Full Day K was a “bag job.” From the outset it has been a foregone conclusion that Full Day K would be provided at Wilbur & McMahon. The two members of the sub-committee have long been outspoken in their support of it. Both have either children or grandchildren who will participate in the program.

So they get their way, and you get the bill.

July 9, 2009

Little Compton School Facilities needs Sub Committee suffers major setback.

In the aftermath of a letter from School Superintendent, Dr. Harold G. Devine, addressing the pending School Construction process and timeline, Sub Committee Chairman/School Committee member, Donald Gomez, told a meeting of the Little Compton Town Council that any immediate plans to call for a Special Financial Town Meeting were premature.

Mr. Gomez was on the council’s agenda for an update on the progress of the School Facilities Needs Committee’s proposed “roll out” to introduce its plan to the people of Little Compton.

Dr. Devine's letter stated that he had been in touch with Department of Education (DOE) officials to review the timeline and process for building a new school. According to Dr. Devine, the DOE said that bringing the plan before the public and even our outreach program is, at this time, very premature.  He further outlined an extensive mandated process that apparently the committee was unaware of during its now three year long effort to propose the building of a new school.

Dr. Devine faulted the consulting firm, JCJ Architects, that has been contracted to support the Facilities Needs Committee for not making them aware of the essential steps to be followed if the town is to receive state funds to help pay for the new construction.

The Little Compton Taxpayers Association was also on the July 9th council agenda to present an argument for the hiring of an independent engineering consultant to do an up-to-date estimate for repairing rather than replacing the school buildings. Roger Lord, one of our Board members, provided the council with a detailed example of a repair estimate from a 2006 contracted study being 300% higher than an actual quote for the same job from a reputable contractor obtained the day before the meeting.  He said that this example raises the question, "How many other repair estimates from the report were highly exaggerated to make repair seem unattractive as compared to building a new school?"  The council was spellbound with this information.

The council agreed to support this concept and approved a motion to ask the School Committee to take action to go out for bids for a new repair estimate.

So it is back to square one for the School Committee. Admittedly there are structural and building code issues at Wilbur & McMahon School. We think that it is time to get out the tools and start fixing problems and stop talking about them. There certainly is a large treasure chest of surplus funds that will go a long way towards correcting the situation. An independent estimate of repairs is a good place to start.

To read the entire text of Dr. Devine’s letter click here:

July 2, 2009

Rep. Patrick Kennedy

Rep. James Langevin



Once again, our two representatives in the US House of Representatives, Patrick Kennedy and James Langevin, have shown their true colors and voted for a bill that will probably double your electric or gas bills, and will significantly increase the cost of nearly everything you buy. Exactly who are they representing?

It's called the "Cap & Trade" bill which is nothing more than a tax on energy.  It is being pushed by President Obama who claims that it will reduce carbon dioxide... you know, that toxic "pollutant" that you exhale every time you breath.  Obama now believes he can control weather by taxing carbon dioxide emissions.  He'll be selling the Brooklyn bridge next.

And of course our two sycophants to Obama, Kennedy and Langevin, went right along with it and voted in favor of the bill at a time when people are out of work and the economy is almost as bad as the Great Depression according to Washington. 

Are these two men tone deaf?  This is a tax to pay for the colossal deficits they have run up with their reckless "stimulus" bills.  It's back to the old "tax & spend" behavior.

This is a BROKEN PROMISE by Obama with Kennedy & Langevin thumbing their noses at you the taxpayers.  Is this what they meant by "Hope & Change?"  We hope you've had a chance to reflect on your vote for Obama now that the real Obama is slowly unfolding.  And we hope you remember how these two mindless back stabbers from Rhode Island treated you when the next election comes along next year in 2010.

We can't wait to see what our other dynamic duo, Senators Reed and Whitehouse, do with the Senate version of the bill.  Would you like to take a guess?  Will they even read the bill?


June 21, 2009

In February of this year, the Senate introduced a bill (S-713) to amend RI General Law Chapter 28-9.3 entitled "Certified School Teachers' Arbitration" with the following:

"In the event that a successor collective bargaining agreement has not been agreed to by the parties, then the existing contract shall continue in effect until such time as an agreement has been reached between the parties."

The Westerly Sun, [Committee opposes bill extending contracts], June 21, 2009 reports:

“It is difficult to understand how anyone with an understanding of how it would operate could support it,” RISC Chairman Harry Staley said of the bill. “Unless a contract expires on its stated expiration date, there would be no incentive… for one of the parties to negotiate, depending upon who will benefit from the proposed extension.”

This basically blocks the town officials' efforts to eliminate or reduce the cost of expensive benefits.  The unions win and the taxpayers take it on the chin again.

Our own Senator, Sen. Louis DiPalma, voted in favor of this bill.  We shall remind you of this at the next election.

Senator Louis P. DiPalma
Democrat, District 12
Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton

June 11, 2009

LITTLE COMPTON, R. I. -- Fire Chief Robert Hay Wimer apparently resigned Thursday during an annual performance review by the Town Council after only one year on the job, according to Town Council President Robert L. Mushen.

Mushen said Wimer and the Town Council were in a closed meeting, at a routine performance review when Wimer was asked a question. Instead of answering it, "He pushed his cell phone and radio across the table and said, 'Here are these ,and I will turn in my vehicle shortly,' " Mushen said. He would not say what the question was.

Wimer did not give a reason for leaving, Mushen said. He sent Wimer a letter delivered to his house by a police officer that said the council is taking his verbal actions as a resignation. Mushen said he had not heard a reply from Wimer. The previous fire chief had been there nearly three years Mushen said.

Little Compton firefighter Fred Melnyk, the union president, said that Wimer had the full support of the union and the Fire Department. He said the department had not been notified of Wimer's status and could not comment on his apparent resignation.

Mushen said Wimer was a sergeant with the U.S. Air Force for 22 years where his last position was operations chief for a shift of 102 firefighters manning seven stations at the Eglin Air Force base in Florida. His father Herbert "Pete" Wimer had been a fire chief when Robert was a child, Mushen said.

In Little Compton Wimer presided over a Fire Department with 8 firefighters. He earned an annual salary of $50,000, according to Mushen.

"What we are going to do now is interview the eligible members of the department as to their interest in serving interim and or as a permanent roll as well as request assistance from the state Fire Chief's Association to look for someone who might come in at interim," Mushen said.

May 20, 2009

James Gibney, Principal of the Wilbur & McMahon School, attended tonight's School Committee meeting after recovering from a heart attack.  He has been a great asset to the school and we welcome him back.

May 19, 2009

Tonight's Little Compton Financial Town Meeting lasted about one hour from start to finish.  The end result is a tax rate that stays the same for another year.  Our only criticism was that the Moderator, Larry Anderson, was somewhat inconsistent with his rulings on what could be done and what could not be done within Robert's Rules of Parliamentary Procedures.  There was a motion to vote on all money-related strokes in a single vote. The voters agreed to that.  As has always been the case, the voters could take selected strokes out of the block and discuss/amend those separately.  There was one attempt to that, but the voters rejected it.  It was at this point that the Moderator allowed discussion of several town departments (school, police, fire) even though the associated strokes were NOT taken out of the block and what they had to say was not germane to the business at hand.  Then the Moderator said the voters could amend any stroke inside the block without taking it out of the block.  In fact, he did just that with one stroke and allowed it to be increased. This was very confusing and has set the stage for future confusion and irregularities.

May 13, 2009

At the April 8th meeting of the Little Compton School Committee, the 2009/2010 budget (Fiscal Year 2010) was voted on.  During that meeting, Joe Quinn, a member and former head of the committee, proposed a series of budget cuts in an effort to absolutely minimize the tax burden on the taxpayers during these economic hard times.  The other four members ignored the proposals and wouldn't even 2nd the motion in order to debate the issues.  Mike Harrington, Don Gomez, Lynn Brousseau, and Micah Shapiro are the ones who said no.  We made a video clip of this part of the meeting.  Click on the link below to see how these four people chose to keep your taxes higher than necessary.

(See movie clip)   

April 23, 2009

At the April 23, 2009 Little Compton Town Council meeting, it was announced that the Fiscal Year 2010 tax rate will be reduced by 1-cent.  It's not much, but it is unlike previous years when the tax rate went up by the maximum allowed under the Paiva Weed Act.  The amount of property taxes raised is called the "levy" and that is only going up by approximately $12,000 over the current Fiscal Year total ($9.4-Million); but, the construction of new homes has expanded the tax base (i.e., more places to get property taxes from) resulting in the tax rate going down.  Although there were more cuts that the School Committee could have made (more to come on that), we congratulate the Town Council, the School Committee, and the Budget Committee for doing the right thing during these economic hard times.  That aren't many other towns than can make this claim.

Principal James Gibney Recovering
April 23, 2009

James Gibney, Principal of the Wilbur & McMahon School, is recovering from an unspecified illness.  We wish him a speedy recovery.

Panders In The School?
April 8, 2009

At the April 8, 2009 meeting of the Little Compton School Committee, one of the agenda items was to sign the contract that had just been negotiated with the support staff (teacher assistants, clerks, custodians, secretaries).  We don't think that the taxpayers made out very well in this new contract in that one of the provisions was how much of the health care premium the workers would pay.  While the rest of us are paying in the 30% to 50% range, this contract calls for only 3%.  What an abysmal job the School Committee did in negotiating this stinker.

Each member was asked to voice his or her opinion on the new contract.  Only Joe Quinn made mention of this ridiculously low co-pay.  But the most obnoxious remarks came from Lynn Brousseau when she insinuated that the workers didn't get enough salary out of the deal and that their union let them down.  This is pandering at its worst.  We need this like a hole in the head.  Watch the video clip.

(See movie clip)   

February 21, 2009

After a long struggle and a lot of effort on the part of the Little Compton Taxpayers Association, we now have a modern day Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS) in the Fire Department that will go a long way toward improving the Town's record of saving homes from total loss in a fire. Under the direction of Chief Rob Weimer, the Fire Department purchased a brand new pumper to replace the rusting, inoperative Engine #2.  The new Engine #2 is equipped with CAFS and will be in full operation in April 2009.  For more information, see the CAFS article under "Articles" on the left panel.  There are two remaining steps: (1) retrofit Engine #1 with CAFS; and, (2) try to get the Town's ISO rating lowered in order to get better fire insurance rates for homeowners.

January 25, 2009

Just watch the video!  (15 minutes)     

December 21, 2008

Old fashioned cash registers had a bell that would ring every time the cash draw was opened. It was a signal to the store owner that something was going on at the register. It also served as a signal to the customer that they were about to part with some of their hard earned money.  Nowadays, the cash registers are silent. The amount of your purchase is displayed on a computer screen, and, in all likelihood, you slide your credit card through the little slot and don’t give a thought to what you had just spent until you get your bank statement.

Well, it looks like we need to install an old fashioned cash register at the Wilbur & McMahon School House in Little Compton, because we did not have to wait very long for the newly constituted School Committee to start spending our money.

In his first substantive act as the new Chairman, Michael Harrington entered a motion to hire a new “full time” teacher for the balance of the school year to augment the teaching staff for the first grade segment. Guess what? Mr. Harrington has a child in the first grade.

The proposal to beef up the first grade “resources,” as described by the Administration, was introduced by new committee member Lynn “It’s all about the children” Brousseau-LeBreaux who appears to have become the self-anointed Wailing Wall for whining parents and teachers. Our other new member, Micah J. Shapiro, seconded Harrington’s motion, and it was a done deal.

(See movie clip)


Prior to the vote Harrington said that an additional teacher was needed because “there’s a lot of boys in that class and they’re going kind of wild.” Sounds to me like a behavior problem that should be addressed by parents, not the taxpayers.

Back at the cash register, ring up $25,000 for the balance of the school year. The funds just happened to be lying around because Superintendent Dr. Harold Devine had doubled up as principal while we were searching for a new principal following the resignation of Mrs. Blaes.

 But what about next year? The first graders will be moving on up! Shall we change the student/teacher ratio again to accommodate Mr. Harrington’s second grader? And so forth and so on.

Although this is not technically an out-and-out conflict of interest because RI law limits ethics violations to financial gain, but it sure smells like one. Mr. Harrington should have recused himself. You had to be there to appreciate the excitement displayed by Mr. Harrington when the measure passed. He loudly applauded and cheered the vote. I do not remember ever seeing a committee chair displaying such glee at the passing of any action.

The new Chairman, Harrington, created an Ad Hoc committee to look into all-day Kindergarten. That ‘ringing’ sound you hear is the cash register to the tune of $100,000 +/- each year. By the way, one of the Ad Hoc committee members, Mrs. Lynn Brousseau-LeBreaux, has a child who will be entering Kindergarten next year. Anyone want to hazard a guess as to what the recommendations of the Ad Hoc committee will be?

(See movie clip)

As the late comic Jimmy Durante used to say, “You ain’t seen noth’n yet.” 2009 promises to be a record year at the Wilbur & McMahon cash register especially in view of the fact that another Ad Hoc committee is close to completing plans to build a new school at a cost reportedly well over 20 million dollars! OMG!

November 26, 2008

See the Movie (13 min)

In a stunning turn of events today, the newly elected School Committee tossed out experience and accomplishments by electing Attorney Mike Harrington as its Chairman, and rejected incumbent Joe Quinn.  Mr. Quinn, a lifelong educator himself as well as an experienced contract negotiator, has been of tremendous benefit to our school by helping Wilbur & McMahon to be among the best in Rhode Island, attending numerous state conferences and hearings representing our interests, working with the school superintendent to develop fully accountable school department budgets, and taking part in teacher contract negotiations resulting in one of the best contracts ever seen in Little Compton. He also voted to outsource student transportation saving the taxpayers nearly $1 million over a 5-year contract.

In the mean time, Attorney Harrington was frequently absent from the meetings and negotiations, and fought against well behaved budgets and outsourcing transportation.  If you recall, he led the mindless pack at the May 17, 2005 Financial Town Meeting supporting a nearly $600K increase in the school budget with not a clue as to where to spend it.  That meeting dragged on for three evenings due to his misguided antics.  The record shows that the voters rebuked Harrington's senseless proposals.  And now he's the chairman of the School Committee.  Taxpayers beware!

And who caused this?  It was Lynn Brousseau who ran as an endorsed Republican in the November 4th election only to turn against the Republicans by nominating both Attorney Harrington as the Chair; and, new-comer Micah Shapiro, a registered Democrat, as the clerk.  When confronted, her response was that she did not believe in "party loyalty" but was for "the kids".  She also said the teachers are angry and miserable, and so are the children.  She must see something that nobody else does.  She went on to be elected as the vice-chair, and Micah Shapiro became the clerk.  Joe Quinn, Don Gomez, and their combined experience were dumped in favor of two new-comers.  [Click Here for Ms. Brousseau's exact words].

Mr. Harrington  was notorious for not participating in the former School Committee work. He rarely participated in bargaining sessions and allegedly did not read his mail or the agenda before the meetings on numerous occasions.  He refused to participate in the evaluation of the superintendent when invited to do so and left it to the rest of the committee.  How anyone could look at that record, which speaks for itself, and justify the decision to promote such a person to the chair of committee is deranged. And they declare it is "for the kids"! With friends like that, the kids don't need enemies. Duplicity and subterfuge are ugly when dealing with the serious task of the education of our children. The last refuge of scoundrels is to wrap themselves in the mantel of high purpose.

During the last three years there have been many problems of long standing cleaned up by the former leadership of the committee. These deeds were seldom articulated or discussed. Quietly, the problems were simply fixed and they moved on. These problems will be discussed at length in future publications so that the taxpayers of this town can see how badly they were served by the recent election and committee reorganization. 

There was no justification to turn out an experienced educator from the chair - none! And none was offered. To assert that any of them is even close to being as qualified as an educator and leader as Mr. Quinn is absurd. How can they claim it's about "the kids" after pulling such a stunt. The National Education Association vowed to "get" the ones that outsourced the transportation function. They delivered, at the expense of the taxpayers of Little Compton. The taxpayers should be outraged.  This whole thing is nothing more than dirty politics - nothing more.  Nothing! 

What can you do?  Go to the School Committee meetings and voice your opinions loudly and strongly.  They meet on the 2nd Wednesday of every month at 7:00 pm in the school's open court area.

November 23, 2008

On Wednesday night, November 26, 2008, the new School Committee resulting from the November 4th election will pick its Chairman to lead the organization.  The meeting takes place at 4:00 pm in the school.  The current Chairman is Joe Quinn who has done a masterful job over the last two years.  Don Gomez and Mike Harrington are in the middle of their 4-year terms and, consequently, remain as members.  Cheryl Cady and Paul Desilets were replaced by Lynn Brousseau and Micah Shapiro in the election. 

It is not known at this time who will emerge from this meeting as the Chairman, but the rumors are flying!  Will the new School Committee go with experience and re-elect Joe Quinn?  Or will political maneuvering prevail and, to the detriment of the students, the new School Committee selects somebody without experience and with a political agenda?  And if that happens, will the new political movement dismantle some of the great work and progress the previous School Committee accomplished?

The rumors are that the latter scenario is quite possible and, perhaps, probable.  The Taxpayers Association will react very strongly to this as it has been very pleased with the performance of the School over the past two years.  Wilbur School has been a leader among Rhode Island's schools in academic achievement, student performance, and vastly improved business practices.  It would be a shame to throw that overboard for political reasons.

People should attend this meeting and voice their opinions.  There's a lot to lose with the students standing to lose the most.


Town Council Grants Historic Opportunity for Fire Department to Use Advanced Technology
November 6, 2008

At their November 6th regular meeting the LC Town Council awarded a contract for the lease/purchase of a new fire truck to replace the retired Engine 2. The contract went To Pierce Fire Apparatus Company for a “Pierce Challenger” CAFS pumper. In addition to the new Compressed Air foam System (CAFS) the pumper is equipped with a 1,250 gallon per minute (GPM) fire pump and a 1,000 gallon water tank.

The CAFS pumper is expected to be delivered early next year at a cost of just over $208,000 to be paid over a 7 year lease/purchase agreement with a one dollar purchase option.  The money will come from the ambulance billings and, therefore, will have no impact on property taxes.

Following delivery and an extensive hands on training program, the new pumper will go into service providing Little Compton with the greatly enhanced capability of compressed air foam to combat structure fires.

Compressed air foam is not a difficult system to understand.  First, by adding foam to the water, the volume of the water/foam mix is greatly expanded.  Think of how a bathtub with bubble bath would soon overflow the tub even though there's not that much water in the tub.  Next, combine the water/foam mix with high pressure air and you have an effective fire fighting agent that can shoot for a longer distance than water alone.  Because of the apparent increased volume, CAFS added to water expands its capability by 5 to 10 times meaning that the truck's 1,000 gallon tank is equivalent to 5,000 to 10,000 gallons when CAFS is deployed. The firefighters control the mixture as progress is made resulting in a consistency anywhere from soap water to shaving cream.

The water/foam mixture is equivalent to soapy water pumped up with air bubbles.  This mixture penetrates burning wood much faster than water does (much in the same way that soap and water removes grease from your hand but water alone does not), and the air bubbles provide more cooling than water alone.  Not only does this knock down a fire significantly faster than water alone, it also keeps it out because of the penetrating and insulating characteristics of CAFS.

It's a tremendous "plus" for towns such as Little Compton.  Thank you Town Council!

November 4, 2008

The general election for President on down is over. Click here to see the voting results.
We regret to say that Mrs. Cheryl Cady did not win her bid to remain on the School Committee.  She has been a solid member of that group for a number of years and has mastered the ability to make decisions that are in the best interest of both the education program and running the business associated with the school.  We sincerely hope that the two newcomers, Lynn Brousseau and Micah Shapiro, will also operate in that manner.  Neither of them possess the experience that Mrs. Cady has.  Consequently, we recommend that they get their feet on the ground before attempting any major changes.

It should be noted that the number of votes shown for Ms. Cady is not accurate - one precinct's count is missing.  The correct count is 1071 as best as we can determine.

October 23, 2008

If you go to our Newsletter archives on the left column of our Web Site, you will find our original story regarding Compressed Air Foam System ("CAFS for Fighting Fires", May 10, 2006) for enhancing the ability of our fire department to fight fires, with the possible secondary benefit of improving our deplorable ISO rating of 9 on a scale of 1-10. ISO is the rating organization that insurance companies use to set fire insurance premiums.

During last Thursday's meeting of the Town Council (October 23, 2008), the new Fire Chief, Rob Wimer, announced that he had selected a Pierce fire truck equipped with CAFS to replace the retired Engine Two truck. Although the Town Council has not yet awarded the contract, it is expected that it will at its next meeting (November 6, 2008). Delivery is expected within the next several months.

Chief Wimer's announcement culminates the end of a four year effort on the part of your Taxpayers Association Board of Directors to bring this state-of-the-art fire suppression technology to Little Compton.

NEW SCHOOL -   $ $   NEW PRICE   $ $
October 15, 2008

The School Facilities Committee, looking at a possible new school for the Wilbur & McMahon School, met tonight with JCJ Architects to discuss two approaches to resolving the structural deficiencies in the school buildings.  JCJ first discussed a "repair" of the existing structures.  That cost is $18.8 Million, up from the original $11 Million estimate of 2½ years ago as a result of inflation and more problems uncovered since the original study.  The second estimate is for "Option 5" which is described as saving the original building built in 1929, saving the gym, and demolishing/rebuilding the rest.  That cost is $22.5 Million - down from $26 Million previously reported as a result of reducing the floor space by 10,000 square feet.

October 3, 2008

The School Committee has selected Mr. James M. Gibney to replace Fran Blaes as the Principal of the Wilbur & McMahon School.  Mr. Gibney retired from the Massachusetts school system after having held numerous positions during his tenure.  His contract with Little Compton is included in our "Labor Contracts" section.  We wish him well.

September 15, 2008

Over 170 people attended the Tiverton Citizens for Change (TCC) kick-off meeting at the VFW in Tiverton tonight.  They are intent on bringing fiscal responsibility and transparent government to Tiverton as a result of a taxpayers' win followed by a loss at this year's double Financial Town Meeting which resulted from what they consider to be political maneuvering and an unwarranted 2nd meeting.  Their President (Dave Nelson) called on three guest speakers as part of the meeting:

Robert Hayden, President of the Little Compton Taxpayers Association
Larry Fitzmorris, President of the Portsmouth Concerned Citizens
Harry Staley, Chairman of the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition (RISC)

We wish them well. Visit their web site at

September 10, 2008

The School Committee unanimously ratified a new 2-year contract with the teachers on this date.  The teachers ratified the contract the night before on 9/9/2008.  The specific details are not known yet, but the cost impact is known.  The total salary package for the 2008/2009 school year ($2,142,403) increased by 2.5% over last year ($2,090,096) and the amount of money the teachers pay for their health insurance increased from $44,892 to $52,306 or 14.5% more.  The salary package will increase by 2.3% in the 2009/2010 school year, and the health insurance copay will increase by 14%.

The School Committee awarded Montle Plumbing in Fall River a contract to replace a failed boiler for $43,435 (the original estimate was $75K).

Ten applications have been received for the position of Principal left vacant by Fran Blaes in August.  A screening committee will reduce this down to the top 3 applicants who will be interviewed by Superintendent Ron Devine.  Dr. Devine will make his recommendation to the School Committee at its next meeting on October 8th.

When asked, the School Committee indicted that the new school transportation operation with First Student when very well with just a few minor problems that were easily resolved.

August 18, 2008

The School Facilities Needs Committee met with JCJ Architects on this date to discuss the latest thinking about bringing the Wilbur & McMahon School into compliance with the latest life safety codes and fire codes as well as to address major building deficiencies outlined in March 2006 by the Mount Vernon Group.  That study estimated a cost of $11,000,000 to resolve the problems through renovation.

So far, JCJ has only looked at a combination of repairs to some of the existing structures, and the construction on new structures on the site.  Their current estimate (Option 5)  is $25,800,000.  Option 5 retains the existing gym and wooden building, makes repairs to them, demolishes everything else, and rebuilds new classroom space.  It also reconfigures the parking area, school bus drop-off area, and parent drop-off area.

It is important to note that no decisions have been made at this time.  The Committee tasked JCJ to revisit the renovation approach and update the estimate from Mount Vernon.  The next meeting is scheduled for 7 pm on September 15, 2008 at the school.

August 13, 2008

July 19, 2008

On July 9, 2008, the School Committee voted 3-to-2 to outsource school transportation to First Student (formerly Laidlaw) beginning this school year.  It was done ostensibly to save money estimated at $887,000 over a 5-year contract.  This is not a trivial number for those that want to keep things the way they are for emotional and/or cultural reasons (i.e., "we've always done it this way").

In reality, this vote was taken to comply with Senate Bill S-3050 (Paiva-Weed bill).  S-3050 is the "Tax Cap" law.  It sets a time table for reducing the maximum amount of money that can be raised from the taxpayers from one year to the next by 1/4 percent decrements each year until it reaches 4% (this will occur in 2012). Next year, the maximum resides at 4.75%.  With very little effort, it can be shown that this ever decreasing cap will result in having to make spending cuts. So what do you cut?  Office supplies?  That will not do the job.  Where should the cuts be made? The education program?  The support functions? Should we willingly erode the education program in order to preserve in-house transportation?  That was the dilemma facing the School Committee leading to its July 9th vote.

Those voting to outsource were Chairman Joseph Quinn, Cheryl Cady, and Don Gomez.

Those voting to retain in-house transportation were Michael Harrington and Paul Desilets.  In our opinion, both of them seem to be living in a world of make believe where facts don't matter and the Paiva-Weed Bill doesn't exist.  Neither of them offered their solution to the problem.

This might have been avoided had the bus drivers decided not to unionize and begin an endless stream of demands for salaries, benefits, and management concessions.  As a result, they have now priced themselves out of the market.  But that doesn't mean they're out of a job.  Contrary to the wild claims, the contactor traditionally hires the displaced drivers for their knowledge and experience and has already asked for the contact information of the drivers and monitors.  To do otherwise makes no sense whatsoever. 

The School Committee made the right decision.  Little Compton runs a school, not a Jobs Program!  The circus of shouts, screams, threats, and disruption of the meeting by the drivers and monitors after the vote was a display of "thug-ery" at its worst.  They should have considered the impression this would make on First Student management relative to their hiring potential.