1/29/2005

The Disappearing Councilman

Hi All, What's going on with Mr.Robert Ellis Smith our duly elected councilman? He comes to the Island a day or so before a council meeting, stirs up a bunch no account bull---- and then disappears again like a will-o-the-wisp! Where does he go? Florida? Hawaii? maybe Alaska. Where ever the hell it is, it sure isn't here ! I'm really upset that he spends so little time here yet has the timerity to claim that he is represents us ! I don't think that the people who voted for him did so with the understanding that he would be a "very seldom present" councilman. I noticed that he left this morning again on the 0830 boat. This is Saturday 01/29/05. If you see him coming or going, log on here and record the time and date. After a month or two maybe we should start a recall petition to get him recalled and a real time councilor put in his place! TIFN Everett

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Everett,
In regard to Mr. Smith's time away from the island, perhaps it is necessary for his business? playing the devil's advocate, is this wrong behavior for a council person? I'm a bit ignorant. What's the proper protocol?

Everett said...

To 6:12 AM Anony, I am also a whole lot ignorant about a lot of things, but on this I see it as no different than if a BIG NAME person came here from Providence or where ever and claimed this as his residence, got elected soley on name recognition, and said "I'm representing you people 'caus I'm an Islander". Do not most cities in this state require that you live in that city if you are to be an elected official? It is required of most of them to be a resident if you hold a job in that city. Witness Jack White on Channel 10 or 12 buttonholing people who have been caught out doing that! I'm sure the people of West Warwick would be P.Oed to find out that someone from BI had bought a house there and claimed it as primary residence, then got elected to office there but LIVED here! IT IS JUST NOT RIGHT! I don't dislike Mr Smith at all, but this is not kosher! TIFN Everett

Anonymous said...

Its one thing to go on a business trip, but if you have a 9-5'er, and after your day you rest your head in the same place 5 nights a week, or even 4 and it is not on Block Island, you are not a full-time year round resident.
Anyone with a mailing address can get a Block Island drivers license. If you own property on Block Island you can get a driver's license. I have family members who do not live here who got BI Drivers licenses to get the discounted commuter rate. They also register thier cars here for the same reason. And because of this, they also are forced to vote on BI.
I am certain this is the case for many of the registered voters. Now, do you think someone who summers here has their finger on the pulse of what is important to the year-round population? Do you think they know the people they are voting for on a local level? Has any reason to approve money for schools?
These are the people who happily pay the 3% land trust tax, and then make a donation to the TNC so they can properly outfit their land rover with a TNC decal. But when we try to house the people who serve them dinner at the restaurant, and bag the groceries at the store, and who they expect to jump when they have a leak in their pipes, they shake their heads and say — "Not in my back yard, not with my tax money." And then they complain when the service is bad, and the lines are too long, and they can't find a plumber to call them back.
They get a thrill out of saying "I live on Block Island" yet refer to the people who actually live here as "locals."
I know Mr. Smith has been spending time on BI for a long time, longer than me, but Mr. Smith does not represent me. I am fairly certain Mr. Smith hasn't had to say good-bye to hardworking friends who gave up the BI Shuffle. Or had to answer the question "Do you know of any place I could live this summer? I am desperate for a place. Any place." from couples with children. People who have served on our rescue squad, various boards and commissions. People who have kept the economy going.
Mr. Smith was fortunate to have been born several decades before me, and to have bought land many years ago. And I am sure he is happy to know what that investment has returned to him. Does Mr. Smith really want to shut the door to new people? Or does he only want to let the wealthy live here? If we don't watch out, Mr. Smith WILL represent the Island population in a few short years.

Anonymous said...

Ev, it is easier to comment as Anonymous, but you know me as "Mac". Doesn't Mr. Smith have a full time job producing his "paper" that is concerned with privacy? Yes I do agree that if you are going to serve your town that you should be a resident of that town. I feel that if you are on the mainland you cannot keep your finger on the pulse of things going on. Does one only smile and say hi to people in the summer and ignore them in the winter? e.g.

Anonymous said...

Re: COUNCILMAN SMITH
As a a member of a society that telecommutes-- even to the point of not having an office in the employer's building -- I cannot see that publishing a privacy magazine not from Block Island is an issue to be concerned about. He does not have to go to Providence or wherever to conduct his business. (I do know he is an avid Sox man and leaves to see them play; and, as great as BI is, the Sox have yet to play here).

The real issue is: does he do the job? From what I have observed of him over the years, his person brings to the job as councilman a broad intellect as well as a deep concern for the long-term welfare of BI. In a way, it seems that BI should be grateful that someone with his qualifications (Harvard and Georgetown Law) has stepped in to do a difficult, time-consuming and often thankless job. His assessments of situations are untainted with any anger or private agendas, reminding me of Martha Ball, and his decisions are based on the merits of each case.

Sniping at perceived class distinctions and his physical presence (when one can be physically present on-island but absent in heart and spirit) strikes me as a counterproductive and beneath BI-ers. There must be something more entertaining for us to do in the winter.

Anonymous said...

Can Open...worms everywhere!!! What a great opportunity this is. What a relief to speak your mind to all who care to listen.

This is to the above post.
I have yet to meet a full-time resident who was physically present, but whose heart was absent. Those of us who are here have either worked hard to be here or have generations of family history behind us. You don't live on Block Island year-round because it's convenient. You have to love it.
I agree that being on the Town Council is a thankless job. By placing yourself on the table for all the public to see, you are inviting criticism. Mr. Smith and his friends should develop a thicker skin.
Since when has discussing politics been "beneath BI-ers"? Why are you so worried about the discussion brewing in every corner of the Island? How to define residency has been long debated by all who live here. How did you feel when Jerry Zarrella was appointed by the CRMC to represent BI in the Champlins debate? To quote Mr. Wood "Sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander." Either you live here, or you don't. If you want people whose hearts live here, I can post a lst of names of people who gave up the BI Shuffle after realizing their dream of home-ownership was just that, a dream. They moved broken hearted off the Island. Their hearts live here, but they don't. And I would not elect them to office here either.
I also grew up believing that elected officials were suppossed to be available to their constituents. How am I to run into Mr. Smith, and express my concerns about this issue or that when he isn't here? (If he'd even acknowledge me.) I think it's fantastic that Mr. Smith has such impressive credentials, but the one that matters most to me is knowing, like me, he is experiencing Block Island on a daily basis. I want him to drive up High Street (destroying his car) every day to take his kids to school, and to look his kids teachers in the eye and ask "Do you really need a parking space big enough for two cars?"
Or "Don't you think townhouses are more appropriate for the Islands' housing solution?" Or "Do you really want or need your own yard?" I don't think the class distinction is "perceived." And if you want to talk about sniping, Mr. Smith started this by sniping at Mary Jane and a necessary housing project.
And your right, he does remind me of Martha Ball. She never acknowledged my existence either. As a politician, elected by the registered voters (whatever that represents), I would hope they would make an effort to be friendly and extend him/her self to the people they represent. Not make them feel as though they don't matter.
Newbie

Anonymous said...

Cheers Newbie, It really pisses me off when some of the elected officials don't even say hello to us common working folk. Nobody is better or more important around here than anyone else. Has anyone ever been able to suffer all the way thru Martha's article in the times? What the hell is she talking about? Could we maybe replace that w/ something we could actually understand and enjoy?

Anonymous said...

to newbie: you seem upset that jerry z was appointed to the crmc sub-committee, if the crmc had chosen our appointed crmc rep. it would have been bob smith. if you really want to do something instead of just bitching you should run for council.

Anonymous said...

When someone says someone else is "bitching," it usually means they can't think of an intelligent argument to counter the others.

Anonymous said...

Newbie here.
Who wasn't upset, except for Jerry himself. To give you a measure of my position on things in general, I found that far more disturbing than Mr. Smith's election. I think the issue of Champlin's expansion is as important as finding housing solutions. The GSP is fragile. Sacrificing the sanctity of the pond to make a transient boaters down time easier, is absurd. The expansion benefits one person, Joe Grillo. I'm no authority on tourism, but I don't think the people using Champlins, leave the grounds. And since most of Mr. Grillo's staff and Mr. Grillo leave in the off-season, they are not re-investing the money they've earned in the community.
As my web name implies I consider myself a newbie despite having lived year-round on BI for a number of years. I feel I have yet to earn enough "street cred" to run for office. I actually hope someday in the future to serve on some level in the town government. (I have served the community in other small ways.)
That said, just because someone has an opinion doesn't mean they are cut out to be a politician. Some of us are too emotional. Some of us would have conflicts of interest. Some of us can articulate fantastically on paper, but jumble words in public. Some of us are shy. Some of us haven't fully formed our opinions. It's easy to throw down the gauntlet, but would you pick it up yourself?
Would you say that John Kerry and George Bush were "bitching" during the presidential debates. Since when has stating your opinion on issues in the community been "bitching?"
I think this blog is a real barometer of what is going on in the community. It's a place for people who might not ordinarily have the opportunity to express their feelings on politics, the power co, and the newspaper. It's a chance for us to exercise the old brain. A free exchange of ideas. There is no place to do this on BI aside from a bar room, historically a bad place to bring up politics.
I don't expect everyone reading my posts to agree with me. This is merely my opinion. In turn, I read the other posts in hopes that someone out there will enlighten me. That I can become more informed of what my fellow Islander is thinking.
I have never implied that Mr. Smith doesn't care about BI. I'm sure he does. I don't know Mr. Smith. Honestly, had never heard of him until his book came out. This said something to me. 1000 people are living here this winter. That is a lot for BI, but compared to other towns it's nothing. I am not claiming to have met every resident on BI. I haven't. But I recognize the familiar faces at the post office, grocery, library, bank, depot and on the road. I had never seen Mr. Smith in person until just after the election. I have since passed by him (on the ferry and somewhere in town, maybe the PO.) and I tried to engage him. He took one look at me, seemed to size up whether I was worth a hello, and decided I wasn't.
No, I am not being hard on him because he snubbed me. I don't belong to BIRA, therefore I don't exist to many of that set. I am used to blank stares from people I have seen 200 times before. ( I am not BIRA bashing, I just don't have the opportunity to meet these people, we don't run in the same circles.)
What concerns me is that he was elected. It's a symptom of a larger problem. Many of the registered voters on BI don't live here year round. They wanted that commuter rate so they switched residency to their second home and have to vote here as a consequence. And sure, as property owners/taxpayers they have a right to vote here. The truth in that is that spending May/June - Sept./Oct. on BI, you are not going to have a sense of what is important to the community, and why should you? You don't use the school, or the snowplows, or know someone in search of year-round housing. You want to keep your taxes low. So you vote against spending. And you elect people locally based on political affiliation or whether you recognize the last name.
I really think the only reason he got elected was because the Democrats failed to produce any other candidates.
I applaud anyone with the courage to run for any office. I know that if I ran for office, I would have an obligation to listen to the people who voted for me, and to listen almost more to the people who didn't. I wouldn't come into office with a bulldozer and try to wreck the hard work of my predecessors. I would remember that sometimes petty squabbles about the wording of a grant application could affect something more important than the reputation of the Town Council and the Nature conservancy, it could affect 20 families. Families. A mother and father, children. I would address the issue, but not at the expense of these people. Pick your battles carefully. If you want to crucify Mary Jane, don't do it at the expense of these kids. If you don't like MJ, don't go to the grocery store.
Conservation is a good thing only if there are people around to enjoy it. To guard and protect it. If we aren't careful, there won't be any people. Just empty vacation homes and lots of open space.
I am passionate about having a future generations of Islanders. It would be a shame to see the school empty in 20 years (or less.) It's hard enough to fill positions at Town Hall, who will fill them when there is no one here year round except a few retired people?

Anonymous said...

Hey Newbie, and everyone else who doesn't like Jerry Zarella...How many of you have actually had a sit down conversation with him?

If we all based our opinions on what other people have said about eachother out here, without making up our minds for ourselves, then there would many good people that we wouldn't talk to.

How about Mary Jane? She is a good person, however many people still dislike her because of the banking incident. If everyone had bought into that and not developed her their own impression, then she probably wouldn't have been elected to the council and wouldn'e have been able to get the affordable housing put through.

I happen to know Jerry and think he is entirely misunderstood. Many don't like him because he is sucessful and has purchased lots of land. Big deal, it was all for sale, probably by someone from the Island, and he bought it. The houses he builds are beautiful, much better than most out here.

Is he really not liked becase of his sucess? Do you know Jerry grew up in extreme poverty and earned everything he has on his own?

Until you can develope your OWN opinion, cut people you don't know some slack. You may find out that the Island sentiment about people is entirely wrong.

I've attended many of the Sub-committee hearing and have found Jerry to be objective and many times has asked the petitioners difficult, well thought out opinions.

And you are wrong about people not leaving Champlin's. This marina probably conrtibutes more to the other businesses by way of traffic than any other.

Good-day

Anonymous said...

I never said I didn't like Jerry. He is not a resident of Block Island. I think someone who is a year-round resident should have been appointed.
That's it.
Newbie
PS Your right about the house he built on Old Mill. It's one of my favorites.

Anonymous said...

Mr Smith is leaving the Island To work for his constituency, the BIRA. They hold secret meetings in their Star Chamber in Manhattan during the Winter Months.
Mr. Smith has to go there at least once a month to get programmed.

Everett said...

This is too 3:32 Anonymous, I am pretty gulible about a lot of things and I wondered if your post was jest, part jest, or serious? As I said, I fall for a lot of stuff dumped into my worn out brain cells. TFIN

Anonymous said...

My first posting on our blog.

Mr.Lfield thanks for doing something that Bruce Montgomery cannot do make a free speech letter for all to read. Its like Tim McCabe’s worst fear is coming true. Censorship is just one step closer to a...?

Jerry Zerella "representing" the island is a load of horse dung.

Who the garillo's have in there over wealthy pockets I am not sure of but one thing is clear, if you have a few $extra$ $million$ you can have any rotten politician you want. I am sure the greed stretches all the way from the great salt pond to the corrupt state house in Providence. I swear Buddy plundered his way out of the dome. But now it seems that buddy's kid brother Cachieri is running round looting, looting, robbing, stealing and getting fat of the peoples hog. Champlain’s should be handed to new owner not expanded. The Great Salt Pond is worth ten times more then those fat bastards. Even STINK would say they STINK.

How does Jerry go from looting the island for its land to build cheap houses to make himself rich to exploiting the great salt pond for making Joe & Joe richer.

Joe JR should be ashamed of him self. The conditions he puts workers in, are considered disgusting. Two rooms with no toilets for 16-20 men. The town should be ashamed for letting the "shack" still house people.

BIPCo. Enough said.

You greedy bastards you are a PUC your job is to help people live. But you make it your duty to rape plunder loot and rob every customer every month. You are a disgusting display of a public utility. I do not see how a monthly customer fee is allowed. Wait yes I do Mr. personality Sr has pockets so fat that they can rub any official of the sate any way they want. Sr you are not hiding the fact that you are selling the oil to your self. The roof of every building and all the spare BIPCo land should be lined with solar panels the building they are calling a school should also be lined with them as well as the alleged med center. All the places we can fit a solar panel we should. The corruption makes me sick when did people stop caring about each other and only care about them selves?

On the topic of island resident. If your ONLY mansion, house, shack, car or concrete slab to live in or on sits on Block Island you are a resident. If you have a house or houses off island you are not a resident. We could list names of non-residents we could list names of residents. But we would all disagree on who is on what list.

So I have so much extra money I am going to build a mansion in CT NJ NY and a big fat trophy on the SW corner and make it so big I can fit my whole phat family in it and I can see it for miles and miles. It’s so big they can see it from outer space. Jerry lives his fat ass off island but comes to rape and loot. The greedy Garillo’s also live off island but they bought a marina and pray on young men and women who come to the island to work not knowing any better then to work for the scum of the island. Yes money only makes you wealthy SCUM Joe and Joe you are scum. There is so much more garbage that needs to be avenged that I can not think of anymore. un-till next time island folks. keep this Island avenger in mind

Island avenger said...

My first posting on our blog.

Mr.Lfield thanks for doing something that Bruce Montgomery cannot do make a free speech letter for all to read. Its like Tim McCabe’s worst fear is coming true. Censorship is just one step closer to a...?

Jerry Zerella "representing" the island is a load of horse dung.

Who the garillo's have in there over wealthy pockets I am not sure of but one thing is clear, if you have a few $extra$ $million$ you can have any rotten politician you want. I am sure the greed stretches all the way from the great salt pond to the corrupt state house in Providence. I swear Buddy plundered his way out of the dome. But now it seems that buddy's kid brother Cachieri is running round looting, looting, robbing, stealing and getting fat of the peoples hog. Champlain’s should be handed to new owner not expanded. The Great Salt Pond is worth ten times more then those fat bastards. Even STINK would say they STINK.

How does Jerry go from looting the island for its land to build cheap houses to make himself rich to exploiting the great salt pond for making Joe & Joe richer.

Joe JR should be ashamed of him self. The conditions he puts workers in, are considered disgusting. Two rooms with no toilets for 16-20 men. The town should be ashamed for letting the "shack" still house people.

BIPCo. Enough said.

You greedy bastards you are a PUC your job is to help people live. But you make it your duty to rape plunder loot and rob every customer every month. You are a disgusting display of a public utility. I do not see how a monthly customer fee is allowed. Wait yes I do Mr. personality Sr has pockets so fat that they can rub any official of the sate any way they want. Sr you are not hiding the fact that you are selling the oil to your self. The roof of every building and all the spare BIPCo land should be lined with solar panels the building they are calling a school should also be lined with them as well as the alleged med center. All the places we can fit a solar panel we should. The corruption makes me sick when did people stop caring about each other and only care about them selves?

On the topic of island resident. If your ONLY mansion, house, shack, car or concrete slab to live in or on sits on Block Island you are a resident. If you have a house or houses off island you are not a resident. We could list names of non-residents we could list names of residents. But we would all disagree on who is on what list.

So I have so much extra money I am going to build a mansion in CT NJ NY and a big fat trophy on the SW corner and make it so big I can fit my whole phat family in it and I can see it for miles and miles. It’s so big they can see it from outer space. Jerry lives his fat ass off island but comes to rape and loot. The greedy Garillo’s also live off island but they bought a marina and pray on young men and women who come to the island to work not knowing any better then to work for the scum of the island. Yes money only makes you wealthy SCUM Joe and Joe you are scum.. Until next time island folks. Keep the Island avenger in mind I will see you at P.O the B.I.G. the Depot the Library and I will even be stuck behind the blue S-10 and white mustang that circumnavigates the island at a mere 20 MPH.

Anonymous said...

You have to be kidding me! You are either obsessed or childish to count the days his car is at the boat. You say he wants only the wealthy to live here. If that was true he and his family wouldn't be living here. He is not an aristocratic snob. He does what he does not for profit but for the love of it. He may not be on the island 24/7 but he is 10 times more active than a other "significant" councilwoman. She just dwells inside all day doing god-knows-what. Another fact is that Robert has two kids in the school here who have been here for over 6 years.There are many other pros to Robert but i cant state them right now.


Over 550 votes cant be wrong.

Anonymous said...

stratch that over 600 votes cant be wrong, sorry

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