Cumberland Farms hearing was biased


To the Editor:

This letter is addressed to Chris Paplauskas, Ordinance Committee Chairman

I am writing to express my dismay at your handling of last Thursday's Ordinance Committee meeting. Your actions undermined public confidence In the Cranston City Council's handling of the Cumberland Farms proposal.

My concerns are as follows:

1. You allowed the Cumberland Farms attorney John Bolton a chance to rebut critics of the proposal, but you denied proposal critics, notably the Edgewood Preservation Association, the same opportunity. I am told that prior to the hearing either you and/or Council President Farina told the Association's leader Lisa Gibb that the Association would also have a second opportunity to speak and respond to comments. Yet that commitment to fairness was violated.

The failure to allow an Association representative to speak was particularly unfair since Mr. Bolton used his rebuttal time to introduce new evidence that FHA mortgage guarantees were given to homeowners within 300 feet of underground gas tanks in violation of HUD regulations. This was a smokescreen designed to confuse the Council. Mr. Bolton obviously prepared this information prior to the hearing since he had ten copies ready to distribute to the Council. He chose, however, to reveal the information when no one would be able to rebut it.

All sides of the issue, through their representatives, should be allowed to rebut testimony, not just the side who favor a zone change you co-sponsor.

2. Although I was waiving my hand to make a comment, you failed to recognize me. This denied my right to participate in Council deliberations and represent my constituents.

3. You did not allow any discussion of the motion to continue the Ordinance Committee meeting to the following Wednesday. I distinctly heard Council attorney Evan Kirshenbaum say the motion was not debatable. Under Robert's Rules of Order, which govern Council procedures, a motion to postpone to a certain time is debatable as to their merits of postponing.

Council meetings should be run in an unbiased manner. I hope you will adhere to that principle in the future.

Steven Stycos


Ward 1


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