Tiverton woman files complaint over campaign buttons

TIVERTON — A Tiverton woman has filed a citizens complaint with Town Clerk Nancy Mello alleging that she saw three campaign buttons on a school secretary’s desk and that the school department has therefore violated the town charter.

The complaint states it was being filed under two sections of the town charter. The first section cited (Section 1218) prohibits town or school employees from using or causing to be used any school property to influence the outcome of an election.

The second section (Section 1211) allows a citizen to file a complaint charging that a town employee has “knowingly” violated the charter, and that the complaint must be investigated by the town clerk.

The complaint dated Oct. 29 by Donna Cook, of 192 Hilton Street, Tiverton, reads as follows: “On October 25, 2012 I was in the office at Fort Barton School and noticed 3 campaign buttons on the secretary’s desk. They were from Tiverton 1st a political action committee.  I was not happy to see a town school being used to distribute campaign material from a PAC.  There should be no campaign activity in our schools.  The school department is in violation of the Tiverton Town Charter.”

If the clerk finds that the charges are “sufficiently set forth,” the clerk must schedule a town council hearing on the matter within 30 days of the date the charges are filed. Section 1211 of the charter sets forth procedures to be followed by the clerk and town council.

If the clerk fails to find the charges are sufficiently set forth, the clerk must notify the complainant in writing and state the reasons for dismissal of the complaint.

The town clerk has made no recommendations at this time and is investigating the matter.

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