Glocester council considers departure from R.I. League of Cities & Towns


GLOCESTER – Members of the Glocester Town Council are considering dropping out of the RI League of Cities and Towns, and they say they have reasons to do so.

“It’s the feel of rural towns not being heard or represented by the RI League of Cities and Towns,” said Council Vice President Stephen Arnold at a recent council meeting. “You have to wonder is our membership worth it, is there value in it, are our voices being heard?”

Small towns like Glocester, he said, have so many different challenges than larger municipalities, and one size doesn’t fit all. He suggested not only checking in with the town’s various departments, but also getting a representative of the league to come to the next meeting to answer questions.

Councilor Walter Steere suggested inviting Ernest Almonte, the league director, to the next meeting for that purpose.

“I think it’s the prudent thing to do,” said Steere. “Check with our department heads, see what other rural communities are thinking as well, because rural communities in this state, in my opinion, are underserved at the State House. There is a broader picture that doesn’t include our concerns.”

Steere added that he didn’t mean local representatives weren’t doing their jobs, but that the state in general does not address the needs and concerns of rural communities enough.

“I agree,” said Councilor Jonathan Burlingame.

“Everything that small towns like us asked for, we didn’t get any of it,” said Council President Wiliam Worthy. “So, we all tried to get together to try to have a larger voice against larger towns like Cranston, Johnston…”

“These people, we pay them to lobby on our behalf,” added Arnold.

“And we didn’t win anything,” responded Worthy. “So we lost across the board. The reason the zoning now has changed: they want a square peg to fit into a round hole.”

The reason for the suggested meeting, added Worthy, was to see if it is worth the time and money being invested to be part of the league.

“All the legislation they were putting through for the small cities and towns, they didn’t get any of it passed,” Worthy later told NRI NOW.

Foster Town Council President Gordon Rogers has spoken to Glocester councilors and said that the two towns need to band together. Rural communities, said Worthy, don’t have the same services as urban towns and cities have, such as town water and sewers and low income housing areas.

“It makes it very challenging for us,” he explained.

Adding to the problem, said Worthy, is what he considered a lack of representation by Jordan Day, associate director of the league.

“She was telling everybody that she had the speaker’s ear,” he said. “Well, she had the speaker’s ear because she was getting a state job, using her position with the league. Jordan was going around telling all the planners not to work with the legislature because she’s the one who had the speaker’s ear and would handle everything. And then we lost. She was angling for a state job, and at the end of the day she ended up getting one.”

Day was appointed Deputy Director of Policy for the state Senate in January.

“The housing bill, the firefighter hypertension bill, the zoning changes…the state was overreaching with their bills,” said Worthy.

“We lost every issue they were supposed to be protecting us from,” Worthy added. “Jordan Day never fought against any of the housing bills. They got a couple of small changes, but it wasn’t enough.”

“When you throw money at agencies, you’re not looking to get 100 percent your way, but you are expecting them to fight for you,” he said. “At this point, they’re not winning. If they’re not winning, there’s got to be somewhere else where someone is winning.”

When contacted by NRI NOW, Day said she preferred not to comment.

The council voted unanimously to send a letter requesting Almonte attend the next meeting in order to see if it is worth renewing the town’s membership, and to get some answers.

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