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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How Would Francis Invest?

Heed the pope’s call to tread more lightly upon the Earth by making your money fossil-free.

When Pope Francis unveiled his letter to the world about how we must stop trashing the planet, he nearly broke the Internet.

The pithy document included hundreds of zingers, including this line: “Whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market.”

In one sense, Francis is telling investors to stop worshiping money and start paying attention to how their actions can hurt the common good. In another, it’s Pope to Wall Street: Drop Dead.

So far, no widespread soul-searching is visibly underway among the pinstriped set.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Flipper's Flop: Blake Filippi's final legislative report card

Lotsa bills, but lotsa nothing at the end
By Will Collette
When it comes to bovine excrement, Flip is our guy!
Blake “Flip” Filippi (Tea Party-Libertarian-Republican who lives in Providence or Lincoln or maybe Block Island) made a lot of promises when he ran for House District 36 and won it in an upset over Rep. Donna Walsh (D). 

In his first week, he was going to introduce legislation to resolve the Copar Quarry nightmare, cut taxes for the elderly, lift the yoke of state tyranny off the shoulders of Charlestown’s CCA-controlled Town Council and end corruption in the state.

Of course, that didn’t happen and we had to wait a while before Flip rolled out his bills. In the meantime, Filippi signed on as a co-sponsor to lots of other legislators’ bills. The first bill he co-sponsored was a RI Builders Association bill that the Charlestown Citizens Alliance hated so much that they had their puppets on the Council pass a resolution in April opposing it.

Finally, Filippi got around to introducing his own bills. The first, five weeks after the General Assembly opened, was a CCA bill (House Bill No. 5321) that would exempt Charlestown, and only Charlestown, from having to deal with comprehensive permit applications while it was busy re-writing the town’s comprehensive plan.

That, like nearly every one of the 29 bills that Filippi sponsored, ended up “held for further study” at the end of the session, meaning it died.

His second bill, House Bill No. 5339, also introduced for Charlestown, sought to put the state Water Resources Board (WRB) under veto from municipalities when the WRB tries to acquire open space to protect water resources. This bill stems from the feud between Charlestown Planning Commissar Ruth Platner and Frank Glista over property recently bought by the WRB. “Held for further study.” Sorry, Ruthie.

Flipper’s bill (House Bill 5352) to abolish state saltwater fishing licenses – roundly condemned by every fishermen's organization in the state – and subject of a bizarre hearing, also died being “held for further study.”

Flipper was not able to deliver for the beleaguered Copar quarry neighbors. House Bill No. 5676 to give Charlestown the power (which it actually already has) to regulate quarries died while being “held for further study.” So was House Bill No. 5740, which would have directed DEM to write regulations to cover operating quarries, but which ignored the need to reclaim mines when they close.

Even though the CCA Party gave Filippi credit for it – falsely – the only quarry-related bill that passed was the House bill by Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy (D) and companion Senate bill by Sen. Dennis Algiere (R) that directs DEM to write regulations on dust piles. Just dust piles. Nothing else. 

And that will take DEM at least a year to finalize the regs (more likely two) and they have no inspectors to enforce it.

Secrets of Chemistry

Kitty of the week

Meet Audrey!
From Animal Rescue Rhode Island 

Hi there, my name is Audrey.  I'm a very sweet and cuddly young lady who loves being around people. 

I get very excited when it is mealtime and it makes me enjoy companionship even more.

I thoroughly enjoy each chance I get to be out of my cage so that I can wander around and explore my new temporary home. 

Rest assured, I am ready for my permanent forever home where I can share my meals with you, chat about our day and perhaps read a book with you come evening. 

Alert the Charlestown Militia to defend our borders against attack by alien firewood

Campers and Vacationers Advised to use only Local Firewood
Sounds like a job for Deputy Dan!
PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management is responsible for the early detection and surveillance of exotic invasive insect pests and preventing the establishment of these pests into the state. 

The Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB), an invasive insect, has been detected in Massachusetts since 2008 and caused millions of dollars of damage and loss of trees within the natural environment. Recently another exotic invasive, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), was detected in both Massachusetts and Connecticut.

In Rhode Island, DEM has been monitoring the environment for both EAB and ALB for the past several years, and to date, none have been found. The EAB infests all species of ash trees, while ALB infests a wide variety of hardwood tree species including maple, birch, elm, willow and ash, and could include other species.

Taking Our Sweet Crude Time

World leaders are resolving to stop cooking the planet after they’re dead.
Nature Ted animated GIFAfter a quarter-century of buzz over global warming, the climate talkers are at it again, doing whatever it is they do. Visitors to the next big climate change summit, in an act of glorious irony, will pack Paris-bound jets flown by Air France — one of the meeting’s big corporate sponsors with deep ties to fossil fuels.

The UN-organized meeting won’t take place until December, but Pope Francis is already doing his best to make sure global powers give it plenty of bandwidth.

Days before a conservative Italian newspaper leaked the Pope’s game-changing encyclical, the leaders of the seven richest industrial nations (G7) were already talking about the need for “deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions” and “a decarbonization of the global economy over the course of this century.”

Translation: The G7 leaders want expiration-date stickers slapped on the oil, gas, and coal industries.

Robin Hood in Reverse

The gap between the rich and the rest is growing partly because we keep electing politicians who promise nothing less.
One of the biggest questions of the day is: Why do the rich keep getting richer and the middle class keep getting poorer?

This also ranks as the dumbest question of the day, week, month, or year. To anyone who’s been paying attention, it’s obvious why economic inequality in our land is growing:

That’s what we asked for.

For at least 35 years, since the reign of King Ronald the Reagan, our democratic society has waged relentless economic war on the middle class and the poor, giving their share of the pie to the rich and the well-to-do.

It didn’t happen in secret. The Republican Party is built on the reverse Robin Hood principle of taking from the less affluent so the rich can have what they think they need — a word that not coincidentally rhymes with “greed.”

Sunday, June 28, 2015

How to pay less taxes, Part 4:

Farms, Forest and Open Space
By Will Collette

Part 1: Overview and waiver of interest on late payments

Part 2: Appealing your assessment

Charlestown does love its open space and we have lots of it. At least 50% of Charlestown land receives very favorable property tax treatment - sometimes no tax at all - through an open space zoning designation, a conservation easement or through participation in the Farm, Forest and Open Space program (FFOS). 

And it's not just public lands owned by the federal, state or town government or lands owned by non-profits that can be treated very favorably when it comes to Charlestown property tax. Private individuals can qualify for huge tax savings through FFOS and conservation easements as many of the leaders and supporters of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA Party) do. 

Oh, the horror!

Sosnowski legislation naming state insect heads to governor’s desk

Bill honoring the American burying beetle was lobbied for by third graders

STATE HOUSE – Legislation designating the American burying beetle Rhode Island’s official state insect — a bill initiated by third graders at St. Michael’s Country Day School in Newport — has passed the General Assembly and is now headed to the governor.

Rep. Lauren Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) and Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) introduced the legislation (2015-H 6093, 2015-S 448) at the request of the students who discovered earlier this year that Rhode Island is one of only four states without a state insect.

They suggested the American burying beetle, which was once found in many eastern states but now exists only on Block Island and in five states west of the Mississippi River, as a means of bringing some attention to the endangered species’ plight.

VIDEO: Watch them grow and learn

To watch this directly on YouTube:

A very different kind of Pope

Pope Francis Blasts Weapons Manufacturers And Investors Calling Them Hypocrites

Pope Francis told a crowd that anyone who manufactures weapons or invests in weapons industries is a hypocrite for advocating peace while manufacturing and selling arms.

The Pope issued the condemnation, his toughest to date, while speaking before a group of thousands of young people in the Italian city of Turin on Sunday.

Setting aside his prepared speech, the Pope discussed war, trust and politics – telling the young audience:
If you trust only men you have lost, it makes me think of … people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit a distrust, doesn’t it?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

VIDEO: Ten Ideas to fix the economy, #9.


To see this video directly on YouTube:

Instead of investing in dirty fuels, let’s start charging polluters for poisoning our skies – and then invest the revenue so that it benefits everyone.

Each ton of carbon that’s released into the atmosphere costs our nation between $40 and $100, and we release millions tons of it every year. 

Businesses don’t pay that cost. They pass it along to the rest of us—in the form of more extreme weather and all the costs to our economy and health resulting from it. 

It's also history

Mike Luckovich
For more cartoons by Mike Luckovich, CLICK HERE.

Thank you for this, Pope Francis

Summer meals for kids

Climate-change impacts heightened by our love of the coast

By FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — Sun, surf and scenic views have long attracted crowds. But this decades-long march of people and accompanying infrastructure to the coast has come at a cost. A changing climate and rising seas are now charging interest.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm sure they'll figure out some way to pass the costs on to the rest of us (Google Earth image)
“Watersheds have been dramatically changed by coastal-zone development and a greater human presence,” said Geoffrey Scott, chair of the University of South Carolina’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences. “Coastal zones are places of profound change. There is pollution, and human-health impacts.”

Scott was one of five guest speakers who participated in the Metcalf Institute’s Annual Public Lecture Series, held the week of June 8 at the University of Rhode Island. He began his lecture by noting that 55 percent of the planet’s population lives in a coastal zone and 33 of the world’s 50 largest cities can be found on the coast.

That’s a lot of building pressure on fragile coastal areas.

VIDEO: Why we need to consider Medicare for all

By Robert Reich

To see this directly from YouTube:

Again and again the upcoming election you’ll hear conservatives claim that Medicare - the health insurance program for America’s seniors - is running out of money and must be pared back.

Baloney. Medicare isn’t the problem. In fact, Medicare is more efficient than private health insurance. The real problem is that the costs of health care are expected to rise steeply. 

Medicare could be the solution – the logical next step after the Affordable Care Act toward a single-payer system. 

Not-So-Special Delivery

There’s no reason to cut even more "service" out of our postal service.
When a big-name retailer finds its sales in a slow downward spiral, the geniuses in the executive suite often try to keep their profits up by cheapening their product and delivering less to customers.

To see how well this strategy works, look no further than the declining sales at Wal-Mart and McDonald’s. When the geniuses in charge of these behemoths applied the cut-back strategy, their slow decline turned into a perilous nosedive.

You’d think their experience would keep other executives from making the same mistake. But here comes an even bigger — and much more important — retail behemoth saying in effect, we have to cut to survive.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Change comes for the whole country,and even in Central Falls

This never would've happened if Chuck Moreau was still Mayor. Or Tom Lazieh.
Text and photos by Lin Collette, Progressive Charlestown contributor

Well, it’s hard to say for sure since we can neither read nor change the past. The disgraced former Mayor of Central Falls, who pled guilty to corruption charges in 2012, and one of the key factors in Central Falls declaring bankruptcy in 2011, might be in favor of having the rainbow flag fly over city hall.

But few residents really care what he thinks these days. The same is true for former Mayor Lazieh, who also “helped” the city along on its path to bankruptcy back in the 1990s, and who has tried to return to the post only to be defeated by James Diossa in 2012, and to the City Council in 2014 – again, defeated by voters presumably unwilling to make the same mistakes made in the past. 

What does matter is that three years into his administration Diossa is continuing to bring his home town into the 21st century by celebrating Central Falls' diversity across the board. And that includes recognizing the place that Central Falls' gay residents have in this city that still defiantly calls itself “the city with a bright future.”  

VIDEO: Lewis Black schools tools on the confederate flag

To watch this directly on YouTube:

Learning experience for high schoolers

Do you have a high school student interested in Ocean Conservation?

Held in conjunction with the 2015 National Marine Educators Association's annual conference, this one day Youth Ocean Conservation Summit (YOCS) will offer youth the opportunity to become engaged in ocean conservation. YOCS summits are designed to actively engage those who seek to learn more about the factors affecting marine ecosystems but more importantly, a chance to network and collaborate with like-minded young adults to create solution-based action plans to address these problems.  Registration cost includes summit workshops, lunch and a hands-on coastline field trip. 

When: Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 9:00am-4:00pm
Where: Newport Marriot Hotel and Conference Center, Newport, RI
Cost: $40

Member BOTO footer 4-11

Guess who is a major contender for the GOP Presidential nomination

Apparently, the Republican field is so poor right now that even the Dark Lord himself is beating out most of the candidates. In a recent poll, people were asked about the favorability of various candidates for president. And, to add some flavor, a few fictional characters were included.

With the exception of Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Scott Walker, every single GOP candidate came behind, of all people, Lord Voldemort, the primary villain from the Harry Potter series of books. 

DEM re-opens East Beach- Ninigret Conservation Area

But be careful of plovers
PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management announces that as of 9:00 a.m. Friday, June 26, the East Beach Sand Trail will be open for public access from the beginning of the sand trail up to camping area 1. This will allow for camping at 10 sites in camping area 1 (sites 1 - 10) and provide public access to the sand trail for fishermen and those using the 4 x 4 barrier beach.

Camping area 2 will remain closed through approximately July 31 to provide protection for the piping plover, a small shorebird that is listed as threatened on the federal and state endangered species lists. Reserve America, which handles campground reservations for DEM, will be contacting affected campers.

All alternatives to avoid a full closure of the sand trail were reviewed and discussed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and DEM staff, and the decision was made to allow access to a safe point and avoid further conflicts between wildlife and off-road vehicles.

Hurricane Sandy changed the face of the Rhode Island coastline and beaches for the public as well as for piping plovers.

Major set-back for CCA’s statewide agenda

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

PROVIDENCE — The General Assembly recently passed legislation (2015-H 5962 / 2015-S 0737A) that shifts oversight of construction near wetlands, such as ponds and streams, from cities and towns to the state. Although environmental groups had resisted the concept for years, they now are mostly on board with the new law.

“It is good for the environment and good for the business community,” Jonathan Stone, executive director of Save The Bay, said after the legislation was approved by the House and Senate.

Opponents of the concept initially argued that a one-size-fits-all approach weakens long-established wetland buffer zones and setbacks in communities such as Charlestown and Tiverton that have a high prevalence of well-water use and limited access to public sewer. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Charlestown fought this whole concept for years. It has been a no-compromise, drop-dead issue for Charlestown’s CCA Party. The passage of this legislation shows how much political clout the CCA Party has lost by helping to elect wing-nuts Rep. Flip Filippi and Sen. Elaine Morgan to the General Assembly. Filippi spoke against the bill on the floor of the House, not that it mattered to the outcome. But Flipper got his moment of attention.)

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