Court Denies Three Motions by CCFD Board, Hears Update from Chief.

Kent County Courthouse- Warwick, RI
Kent County Courthouse- Warwick, RI

Court Denies Three Motions by CCFD Board, Hears Update from Chief.

Warwick, RI-      At Kent County Superior Courthouse, this past Friday Judge Brian Stern denied three motions that were put forth by the Central Coventry Fire District Board and also heard testimony from Fire Chief Andrew Baynes as to the status of personnel and equipment.

The tone for the hearing was set immediately after the Attorney for the Central Coventry Fire District Board, David D’Agastino, verbally explained a status report which was submitted to the court only moments before the hearing was set to begin.


The status report offered limited insight as to what the focus of the board has been thus far and as well as the Boards purported actions since being elected back in late June.  The report offered to the court by the Board states “the current Board is committed to understanding what contributed to the fiscal crisis and preparing a best management practices plan, complete with accounting procedures that will ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated and offer an opinion that the Board feels this is an essential component to its delegated authority, whether or not the District is closed and liquidated”.  Additionally, the report included an update on citizens’ complaints that have been filed with the Attorney General for alleged Open Meeting violations and Access to Public Records request, as well as the status of negotiations with the firefighters Union, for which no negotiations have taken place since the board did not ratify the last concession package that was offered back in October. 


The most anticipated portion of the report, for which the Board had to be ordered to comply with at the last court hearing, was the “Alternate Plan” or the “Contingency Plan”.  Previously, Judge Stern had given the board four weeks to finalize and present a plan for public safety and protection if he orders liquidation.  What was seen in the court by most present, was the fact that the Board could not offer a plan that had any substance.  Each portion of the Boards Contingency plan relied on many other parties’ involvement and approval.   The Board recommended that if the Liquidation is approved, then the fire and emergency services currently performed by the Central District could be handled by the other Districts and that EMS could be handled by a Private for-profit vendor.  However, the plan lacked all of the necessary components to be able to classify it as a “substantive” plan and was construed to be more of a cocktail napkin contingency and unrealistic and unattainable.  The ability to allow any or all of the other districts requires voter approval from each of the other individual districts and then it would have to muster support at the State House to make necessary and needed legislative changes to not only the CCFD Charter, but also to the other fire district charters as well.   Judge Stern appeared to be less than happy with the Boards lack of planning and appeared to have expected a more in-depth plan which would allow for continuity of services.   At one point,  it was rather uncomfortable to be in the court room as the Boards’ Attorney floundered around to find answers to Judge Sterns direct questions.


The attorney for the firefighters, Marc Gursky pointed out that the board has failed to comply with numerous orders and directions that the court has set down and appears to be a “rudderless ship” adrift in the ocean.


As for the denied motions submitted by the Board, the First dealt with a request to send out a Request for Proposal or (RFP) to privatize the currently fire-based EMS services, to a private for-profit EMS service. Reason for the denial in part, was the myriad of legal questions in the poorly worded RFP, which would leave far too much liability on the District and ultimately the taxpayers.  

In the boards’ second petition to the Court, which was denied, the petition sought to hire a bookkeeper. The bookkeeper would have been compensated at rate $43.00 dollars per hour and would have been an employee from the same firm as the boards current accountant.  Judge Stern looked a bit puzzled at one point when he quizzically stated “the Board voted to close and liquidate a few weeks ago, now seek to hire a bookkeeper, so when the district is closed and shutdown at last the closed district will have the best looking books”.  Judge Stern denied that motion.  A previously approved request to hire an accountant to assist the Board with formulating a Budget and Tax levy was authorized by the court back in September.  A final and third motion to sell off surplus and unused equipment was denied.  

Testimony on the department equipment and personnel was presented to the court by Chief Baynes.  Chief Baynes testified to the court that on the day the District filed for the Special mastership, the CCFD had nearly 50 employees plus administrative staff.  Today, nearly 16 months later, the District has just about 36 firefighters and three support persons. The Chief said that there are four members eligible to retire at any time and that concerns him because there is no list in place to hire new personnel to replace any vacancies that may be created.  He went on to say that the process could take as long as twenty four weeks or more to train any new hires and he is concerned that even if there was a list, who in their right mind would want to come work here under the scrutiny and employment conditions that the men have been unnecessarily subjected to.  When asked by Judge Stern if he felt the District had the ability to respond to the needs of the taxpayers, the Chief said that he has all the faith and confidence in the men and explained that he has to maintain a minimal number of personnel to be able to respond.  “I’m rapidly approaching a point where I can’t recycle personnel quick enough to let them rest then be back to the job again. These guys can withstand a lot, and I’ve worked in other communities with much more manpower, to see what these guys can do with so few people is very admirable, but at some point it’s all going to break”.

As for equipment, Chief Baynes stated that the equipment is operating and that all necessary repairs and maintenance have been performed to the existing fleet.  The District is in the process of replacing a motor in its newest, 2009 rescue vehicle.  He said things are no different than when they were back 15 months ago other than the District continuing to pour money into the upkeep of older vehicles.  He said that the districts fleet is operating; he had submitted a five year Capital plan to the Special Master and the Board which would replace the aging fleet on a rotational basis.  He went on to say that there was a $52,000.00 line item in the approved budget for the allocation and first payment for a new rescue truck chassis, but he has not been authorized to make the purchase.

Judge Stern did approve the Unions motion to have the Rhode Island State Labor Relations Board investigate Unfair Labor Practice charges brought against the Board.

Fred Tobin, The Town of Coventry’s Solicitor spoke briefly to the court stating that the Town was not in the Fire and Rescue business and had no desire or interest to get in that business. 

The Special Master, the District, and the Union Attorneys’ had a divergence in opinion as to what liquidation would essentially mean for the District in the end. So the court set a briefing schedule for the lawyers to submit legal briefs by this Friday with a hearing date for the following Wednesday at which time the court will make a determination as to the specificity of what can be expected if liquidation is ordered.



mad hatter January 28, 2014 at 08:45 AM
Lauren posted what happened.
Realistic Taxpayer January 28, 2014 at 09:16 AM
Mr. Hatter did you find a common theme between the two different articles, written by two different authors, whom were both accused of being a bit bias?
mad hatter January 28, 2014 at 09:31 AM
as i wrote on the other thread: sometimes the pendulum swings too far one way and immediately swings too far the other way. like washington politics, this is the lesser of two evils, IMO.
mad hatter January 28, 2014 at 09:36 AM
another interesting point from Baynes, we cant even keep the equipment going. we had no problems years ago with a much lower budget (before the "mistake"). obama says we have no inflation. so, how can this be? 5mil+ to spend and we cannot function?
THE Reporter January 28, 2014 at 10:00 AM
Mad hatter- biased or is it some facts you don't want to acknowledge? ---If you don't think, then you shouldn't talk. I know that I once read something like that can't quite remember where.--- I know, this must be hard for you the judge is breaking up your "TEA PARTY" with March Hare, Dormouse and Alice. --------The phrase "As MaD As A HaTtER" refers to the 19th century usage of a mercury-based compound in the making of fine hats. Due to long-term exposure, hatters would often develop symptoms of mercury poisoning, such as tremors or mood-swings, that would make them appear "MAD" to others. -----This explains your great form in flip flopping from wanting the truth and wanting to have a "TEA PARTY"---- Very suiting name---- -----Lauren did post what happened. Also, she did say there was a part 2 to be written still...
harleyrider8272 January 28, 2014 at 10:14 AM
Bravo reporter!!
harleyrider8272 January 28, 2014 at 10:14 AM
Good always prevails over evil!
Mary January 28, 2014 at 10:31 AM
if there is no authorization to spend money to fix something then it isnt going to get fixed.
mad hatter January 28, 2014 at 11:00 AM
reporter, you are very biased so i will take what you say as most likely false. thanks for defining my screen name. i will return the favor and give you "burgundy" from the urban dictionary: bergundy simply put the coolest craziest bejeweled princess around bergundy gay. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bergundy I think it fits perfectly!
listening January 28, 2014 at 11:05 AM
Biased or not, three denied motions are three denied motions. Don't think he misreported on that.
THE Reporter January 28, 2014 at 11:06 AM
So, If what I say is mostly false why do you thank me for defining your screen name? Hip-pity hop one side of the fence to the other when it suits you. and NO WHERE do I use "burgundy" as my name, my picture is of Will Ferrell... DUH wait that must be false to...
mad hatter January 28, 2014 at 11:35 AM
then i gave you waaaaaay too much credit. that may be Will Ferrell but he is in his Ron Burgundy character. your likeness to that character is uncanny. you dont even know what you are posting pictures of. not really an "investigative journalist" are you?
mad hatter January 28, 2014 at 11:36 AM
@listening, that is why i was asking you what happened at court the other day. even though we do not meet eye to eye on issues, i would take your word on what happened.
listening January 28, 2014 at 11:48 AM
Sorry Hatter, never got there. Was on my way out and an emergency came up at work and couldn't leave. I am in the dark like you at this point.
Duane Livingston January 28, 2014 at 11:53 AM
"Fred Tobin, The Town of Coventry’s Solicitor spoke briefly to the court stating that the Town was not in the Fire and Rescue business and had no desire or interest to get in that business. " I wonder what does Mr. Tobin have planned for when this starts happening to his residents? http://abcnews.go.com/m/story?id=9736696
THE Reporter January 28, 2014 at 12:42 PM
Hatter, I know what picture I posted. It is of actor Will Ferrell, who in this particular picture is in costume for his role in the movie Anchorman as Ron Burgundy...... Im just screwing with you, I know what my picture represents, Ron "Burgundy" you said it meant ---bergundy simply put the coolest craziest bejeweled princess around bergundy gay................ "I'm Ron Burgundy, You stay classy Coventry"
mad hatter January 28, 2014 at 12:50 PM
at a bare minimum, you can admit when you are wrong..... kind of.
Lauren Costa (Editor) January 28, 2014 at 01:21 PM
harleyrider8272 January 28, 2014 at 01:43 PM
Hatter admit you followed your agenda and the board like a lost puppy!
THE Reporter January 28, 2014 at 02:59 PM
HATTER, how hard is it being a Narcissist? I am Positive, that I did not admit to being wrong. Lauren Costa, just posted a very good article and very similar to mine..... BUT, Hatter please tell me how my article is mostly false and her's isn't.... lets go hop-pity hop... jump on a different side now.... lets see how many times you can shift your "THOUGHT PARADIGM" in one day....
David Gorman January 28, 2014 at 03:45 PM
Hatter... I’m at a loss for words with this subject… Why do you and others continually say that the concessions were deferments? There were no deferments! The Union sought to negotiate the entire term of the contract. It was the board that denied and refused to discuss anything longer than a single year. That being said, because only a modification or change to a single year of a three year contract was discussed the last two years of the contract remained in place and in effect. Again, as I stated earlier, the firefighters offered to negotiate the entire term of the contract and the Board refused to do so leaving two years intact and untouched. That was the Boards choice-not the firefighters. As for what I posted, that was the agreement summary not the actual legal agreement. For which I made clear when I posted it.
Realistic Taxpayer January 28, 2014 at 04:04 PM
Good afternoon Mr. Hatter ... Would you like to play a game?
mad hatter January 28, 2014 at 04:21 PM
@reporter, i never said your article was outright false i just said you are biased so i will assume its false. no, you did not admit to being wrong about your profile pic, i just proved you wrong and then you tried saving face by saying you were just joking. @ david, it was a different thread we were going back and forth on where i said "just post the concession agreement" and you said fine and started that other thread where you posted the "supporting documents". i was fully under the impression from the previous thread that it was the actual concession document. i guess i should have followed my own advice by never taking anything at face value. now, this is getting boring and i have vented enough. good night all.
THE Reporter January 28, 2014 at 04:31 PM
Hatter.... Don't worry, you will not lose me in that self induced existential world of abstract thoughts you live in .......But The Facts are only as good as the sources you receive them from..... with the CCFD Board acting like a secret society escaping each meeting into executive session to talk about the fire district and barely speaking about it when in the Public meeting... How can you actually believe anything they say at this point..... Let alone make an informed decision on what they say??? Can you really believe the Board ever had intentions of negotiating??? after all of their union bashing-grand standing, that took place at the weekly board meetings.....They even told the judge they don't think Open meetings laws apply to them....As if that wasn't enough they continued to say how they openly had "business" meetings not in the form of a public meeting...... These "business" meetings have never been mentioned at any public meeting!!! Secret "business" meetings in their mind are acceptable ...... Hatter since your deciphering through fact and fiction , you are probably not even any where near being close to the truth.... I am a firm supporter and believer in Open Government as The Coventry Citizens Task Force was or may still be...... I am Not a supporter of saying we need Open Government until it doesn't suit my intentions...... That is exactly what the current CCFD board has done...... MAD HATTER as you previously stated earlier this is the thing you hate the most ....... " A HYPOCRITE".
harleyrider8272 January 28, 2014 at 07:02 PM
Hatter is an idiot, always has been always will be!! Now that the Judge has cemented the truth about the board has anyone seen little Dick Bergeron?? Thief of all thing's truthful and Teamster money?? How about Assalone I knew he would crawl back under his rock..I mean mansion on snug harbor!! Never let it be forgotten the harm this man caused to this district and we should never let him forget it!! Now where is Ratakis and Blais ??
Realistic voter January 28, 2014 at 07:04 PM
OUT WITH THE BOARD!! When is the next meeting??
Mohawk January 29, 2014 at 03:10 PM
No more Patch what are u all going to do
Realistic voter January 29, 2014 at 04:55 PM
The rats have left the building!!
Mark Schieldrop (Editor) January 29, 2014 at 10:20 PM
The Patch isn't going anywhere. We will miss Lauren and her hard work as the founding editor of this site but in the short term it remains open for business. If you have any questions, comments, have a tip or anything please contact me at mark.schieldrop@patch.com.
Bill Overdeaux January 31, 2014 at 06:02 AM
Freddy, Patty, and Marie can have a 3 way soiree with another group they don't care for! Perhaps the Coventry Teachers’ Alliance... be interesting where Freddy's "alliance" will be. He will have plenty of time to spend once he and the rest of the "bored" is stripped naked of anything related to CCFD. The CCFD Board is the epitome of the "Dolts" of Coventry. It sure would make a great reality show...damn rival to the Dukes of Hazard. "The Dolts of Coventry" featuring Freddy the "schlub" and his "sorceress" Patty from wakefield hills along with Marie as "Jezebel"! The other five could do a show called "The Walking Brain Dead". Let the reviews begin !!!


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