Letter: Strange bedfellows in Tiverton recall? Perhaps not

Posted 9/11/19

To the editor

Just when you think you could not be more disgusted with politics, a total farce like the Tiverton Town Council recall rears its ugly head. What I’ve had difficulty understanding …

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Letter: Strange bedfellows in Tiverton recall? Perhaps not


To the editor

Just when you think you could not be more disgusted with politics, a total farce like the Tiverton Town Council recall rears its ugly head. What I’ve had difficulty understanding is how seeming adversaries can collaborate in perpetrating a historic sham on the voters of Tiverton – until now.

The following is a chronology of events based on the Summary Opinion of the RI Supreme Court (SC) decision, filed June 30, 2018.

• 2008: William C. McLaughlin builds garage in violation of zoning setback requirements

• 2013: Superior Court affirms Zoning Board of Review's decision to deny McLaughlin's request for relief from setback requirements.

• 2013: McLaughlin’s procedurally improper appeal to Superior Court is dismissed.

• 2014: zoning board’s "Motion for Order to Comply," is granted.

• April 7, 2014: Superior Court orders McLaughlin to move or remove garage.

• 2014: McLaughlin motion, filed April 8, to vacate/reconsider, is denied.

• 2016: McLaughlin adjudged to be in contempt and ordered to pay $69,300 in fines.

• March 2016, the Town of Tiverton removes McLaughlin's garage.

• May 2016, McLaughlin’s motion to vacate the April 7, 2014 order is denied.

• 2016: McLaughlin’s appeal to Supreme Court is denied.

• 2016: based on procedural error by Town Council, Supreme Court reverses Superior Court’s denial of McLaughlin's 2016 motion to vacate, giving McLaughlin grounds to sue Tiverton.

Please note the following fact established above. Mr. McLaughlin’s final appeal succeeded on the basis of a procedural error committed by the Town Council which, at the time, was headed by Denise deMedeiros, who, brazenly, is McLaughlin’s key partner in advancing the recall.

The following two additional excerpts from the above Supreme Court decision lend more insight into how Tiverton has come to be exposed to a potentially lucrative settlement in favor of Mr. McLaughlin, the initiator of the recall.

From the majority opinion:

“Had the Town of Tiverton filed an action in the Superior Court alleging that McLaughlin’s garage was out of compliance with the Tiverton Zoning Ordinance’s setback requirements, it may well have prevailed given the evidence in the record before us…(T)he town’s failure to comply with § 45-24-62 in obtaining permanent injunctive relief on April 7, 2014, is fatal.”

From the dissenting opinion:

“The majority…has…vacated the original order of April 7, 2014, and…thereby cast a shadow over the propriety of the town’s action in removing the garage. This not only may frustrate the town’s ability to seek reimbursement for the costs of the removal, but it exposes the town to potential liability for the removal itself.”

When a Supreme Court judge states that a shadow has been cast over the propriety of the Town Council, you don’t ignore it. By failing to follow proper court procedure and by tearing down McLaughlin’s garage prematurely, the Town Council, headed by Ms. deMedeiros, insured the success of his appeal and the likelihood of a sizable settlement. So, perhaps the bedfellows are not so strange after all.

Something inside tells me that I cannot dignify such a shameless power grab as this recall is with something so time-honored and sacred as a vote – up or down. It’s been said, “he who sings, prays twice.” Well, here is your opportunity to vote twice by staying home, no less. First, you’re voting against the recall. And second, you’re voting against the people who perpetrated this shameful misuse of a recall process that was never intended to be used to remove political opposition. Don’t allow this precedent to be set. Stay home.

Terence (Terry) Garvey


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