Fire Commissioners Ratify Postcard Vote
The postcard approved at a meeting Oct. 25 has since become a source of citizen complaints to the state Attorney General and the state Board of Elections.
At a meeting Thursday, East Greenwich Fire District Commissioners re-voted a decision made to mail a postcard to residents that outlined reasons why the district should remain autonomous. It was their first meeting since the election Nov. 6 that approved a nonbinding resolution calling for the merger of the fire district and the town.
Currently, the town and the fire district are two separate governmental entities.
The vote was 3-1 in favor of sending the postcard, with Commissioner Mark Gee casting the sole no vote, as he had in the original vote on Oct. 25. Commissioner Mark Schwager, who had voted in favor on Oct. 25, did not attend the Nov. 15 meeting.
According EGFD lawyer Scott Spear, the re-vote was put on the agenda at his request.
"Putting this on the agenda is a way of curing any defect in the vote," he told commissioners, in reference to complaints filed in the past week with the state Attorney General and the state Board of Elections. The complaints, signed by three EG residents, say the EG Fire District commissioners acted unlawfully when they voted to spend up to $2,000 on the mailing.
Spear was not present at the Oct. 25 meeting. He refused to say whether or not he had authorized the postcard vote.
"We will be responding to the complaint when the Attorney General ask us to," said Spear. "You will be able to read that response."
The complaint sent to the Attorney General noted the original vote's failure to be on the Oct. 25 agenda: "The second violation was the absence of prior notice of plans to vote on an expenditure of public funds for a political mailing..."
According to Bill Daly, chair of the commissioners, the mailing was informational, not political, in nature.
In other action, the commissioners voted 3-1 to abate the 2009 taxes of $2,741.17 for the Greenwich Odeum, with Commissioner Phillip Higgins voting against the abatement.
The Odeum property was put back on the tax rolls of both the fire district and the town in 2009 after more than a year of inactivity as a nonprofit theater venue. Since then, however, the Odeum Corporation has worked to reopen. The theater will hold its first event on Saturday, Dec. 1, a fundraiser with live music.
Fire Chief Peter Henrikson also briefed the commissioners on the status of getting bids to repair the floor at the Main Street station. He said he had been talking to EG Public Works Director Joe Duarte about getting help from DPW engineers on developing the "request for proposal" for the floor work.