Politics, not performance drives N.S. recall

Politics, not performance drives N.S. recall

It is distressing when partisan politics threaten the conduct of good government. That is exactly what is happening as my political opponents seek to enable a recall election here in North Smithfield.

Recall elections are supposed to protect citizens from an elected official who is guilty of criminal behavior, malfeasance or gross neglect of duties. None of these issues are present in my tenure as Town Administrator.

Instead, organizers of the recall petition want to use an expensive, special recall election to circumvent the normal course of public policy debate and development that is, according to our Town Charter, the responsibility of the Town Council and the town administrator.

Unfortunately, organizers are conducting a deliberate campaign of disinformation to confuse taxpayers of North Smithfield. You see, it is not my performance as town administrator or the alleged violation of the Town Charter by me that is at issue here; rather, it is the opposition of a small minority of residents to my support of a proposed regional Mayoral Academy ( RISE Prep) that would offer school choice to parents in Woonsocket, Burrillville and North Smithfield. This is a policy matter, not a performance matter.

Here are the facts around the false and irresponsible claim that I have violated the Town Charter by agreeing to serve as chair of the board of directors of the proposed RISE Prep.

* The proposed creation of RISE Prep stems from a charter granted by the state, through the Rhode Island Department of Education and not from any decision or requirements set by the town, the North Smithfield School Committee or myself acting as town administrator.

* I have not entered into any contractual agreement with RISE on behalf of the Town of North Smithfield.

* I have not committed to any financial expenditure by the town related to the proposed RISE Prep.

* RISE Prep, will in no way diminish the authority of our taxpayers to determine the amount of town funds that are allocated to public education.

I have obtained qualified legal opinion on each of these matters. I challenge the organizers of the recall petition to be honest and accurate in the claims they are making to the citizens of our town.

Let me be clear. A recall election that is caused by policy differences, not performance issues, will be bad for North Smithfield.

It will send a message of instability to businesses and residents alike, many of whom will wonder why legitimate policy differences are not left to voters to decide in the normal course of a general election...an election that is only 15 months away.

It will cost our taxpayers thousands of dollars that could be otherwise invested in our schools and other municipal services.

For these reasons, I today urge all registered voters to decline any request to sign the recall petition. This petition is based on factual inaccuracies and does not deserve the support of any reasonable taxpayer in our community.

Say no to a bad idea for North Smithfield!

Paulette Hamilton

North Smithfield Town Administrator