To the Editor:
On Aug. 15, more than 200 Warwick residents gathered at City Hall for one purpose and one purpose only. That purpose was to request that a member of the City Council docket a resolution allowing the residents to request a public hearing. The people came peacefully and within their rights, but were stunned and dismayed to find dozens of uniformed armed police officers, undercover detectives and numerous fire officials present in every room, hallway and around the perimeter of the building.
For several months, the organizers of the Warwick Car Tax Revolt have made numerous inquiries as to why there was such police presence at a regular scheduled council meeting. Several of the council members that were questioned told us that in all of their years on the council they had never seen such police presence. So, why all the fuss?
In documents received by a Motion to Compel in Superior Court in the case of Cote vs. Vella-Wilkinson, several e-mails have been obtained that reveal some very disturbing facts. These e-mails originate from Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson and were sent to Mayor Scott Avedisian, Police Chief Stephen McCartney, Chief of Staff Mark Carruolo, and Director of the Department of Public Works David Picozzi.
The e-mails state that Rob Cote, director of the Car Tax Revolt, had “reached out to business with fleets of vehicles and commercial trucks to support the rally.” Two e-mails of this subject matter were sent to the above noted individuals on Aug. 9 and 10. Since, in fact, this never happened, one could only hypothesize that the intent of these e-mails could possibly have been to plant the seed that the residents had some other ulterior motive, perhaps grid locking the streets or something of that nature, and that the city should be prepared for such behavior. Again, just an opinion, but what sparked such untrue e-mails?
As anyone involved in this movement knows, no such solicitations were ever performed other than handing out of flyers, speaking one-on-one with people at supermarkets and having occasional “toot and waves.” The extent was purely word of mouth.
It appears to me that defendant Vella-Wilkinson went out of her way to paint an untrue portrait of the organizer, the residents and the reasons for expressing their concerns. In fact, she went so far over the top, as to distribute false e-mails stating that the organizer was a convicted felon. Were her actions and communications the catalyst that resulted in the enormous police presence that cost taxpayers thousands of dollars? How will we ever get that answer? One can only assume.
Even more disturbing are adjectives that Vella-Wilkinson uses in other e-mails sent to council members Donna Travis, Raymond Gallucci and Council President Bruce Place, when she refers to residents. For example, on Aug. 9 at 4:56 p.m. she stated to Travis, “By the way, Deb (last name omitted) said she is happy to pick us both up and drop us off before/after the Council meeting on Monday. It makes sense because none of those A**holes will recognize her car.”
Is that what we are when we wish to ask questions of the elected officials? A**holes? Is that how an elected official refers to people that she has never met? The thought is appalling, to say the least. The fact is the resident’s duty and responsibility is to ask questions. That is the reason so many Americans died in battle – for the right to question government. It is surprising how Vella-Wilkinson, a veteran, has forgotten that sacred premise.
Is this the type of vernacular that is used to describe residents when they are not watching or listening? It is clear that we the residents have been cast into a classification, at least by this elected official that exemplifies what is truly wrong with our leadership. Bear in mind that these demeaning statements were made prior to any Warwick resident attending the Aug. 15 council meeting. This speaks volumes about the individual’s motives.
Even more disturbing to myself, and my family and friends, is the fact that Councilwoman Vella-Wilkinson on Aug. 11 purposely sent false e-mails to council members Gallucci and Travis, that the organizer of the car tax revolt was “a convicted felon who pled nolo to several felonies.” These statements are completely untrue, malicious in nature, and are the primary grounds for the present litigation in Superior Court.
She also referred to the organizer, who she had never met, as the “Messiah,” “an old wh*re,” “a putz,” “illogical” and “an a**.” Is this the level of professional communication that this elected official uses to describe people that she has never met? On Aug. 10 at 11:27, Council President Place stated, “I really don’t think that you can reason with these people or their friends.” Reason with them? You hadn’t even met them yet.
I would expect that this type of electronic banter would be the subject matter in an adolescent high school Facebook feud. However, I am not surprised, I just consider the source. The bigger issue at hand would be to question whether an elected official has perpetuated a myth, which has cost taxpayers money, and if so, for what reason? The answer is for the same reason that Council President Place refused to suspend the rules: Because they just don’t want to hear what the people have to say.
If anyone would like copies of these documents, simply make the request at CarTaxRevolt@aol.com.
Car Tax Revolt Organizer