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Friday, April 28, 2017

Talking Charlestown Taxes, 2017 edition

Taxes WILL go up. How and by how much?
By Will Collette

"Faith's Folly," one of the boondoggle projects that are adding to
your tax bill. 4,000% over budget and hardly ever used.
Details down below.
Every single year since they took control of Charlestown town government, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA Party) has raised taxes.

Usually they do it the simple way by simply bumping up the tax rate. But this was a revaluation year which will make the analysis of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget more complicated.

Charlestown property owners have already been notified by Charlestown Tax Assessor Ken Swain about the new valuation Charlestown will use to calculate their taxes. My assessment went up by 9.4%.

Overall, the value of taxable property in Charlestown went from over $2.3 billion to $2.5 billion, or approximately 8%.

The Budget Commission will hold a public hearing on the budget on May 1 where they will present the new $27,724,601 Fiscal 2018 Budget.

Of that amount, just over 50% covers Charlestown’s share of the cost of the Chariho School District. That part of the budget has already been approved by voters and is now locked in.

The Budget Commission is recommending a drop in the tax rate from the current $10.21 per $1000 of valuation to $9.54, a number subject to change all the way until the budget is finalized and approved by voters at the June 5 townwide Financial Referendum.

But the Budget Commission proposes that actual tax collections rise to $24,400,793, an increase of 1.15% despite the drop in the tax rate.

Hope you haven’t dropped off to sleep. Yes, the tax rate will drop for the first time since 2008 (which was another revaluation year) but no, you will probably still pay higher taxes.

Since my tax valuation is up by 9.4%, that wipes out the effect of the drop in the tax rate and then some. I suspect many other residents will be in the same boat.

Narragansett gets it but we don’t.

Making it even more galling is that the CCA Party has denied Charlestown residents the benefits of the Homestead Tax Credit available to other Rhode Island communities, but not here in Charlestown.

Narragansett’s Homestead Exemption just went into effect, giving full-time residents who do not rent out their property up to 10% off the tax valuation of their home. More than 3,000 full-time residents have applied to receive the exemption which is close to the Narragansett tax officials’ estimate of the total eligible households.


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New Top Ten list

More transparency for hospital mistakes

Secret Hospital Inspections May Become Public at Last
by Charles Ornstein for ProPublica

Related imageThe public could soon get a look at confidential reports about errors, mishaps and mix-ups in the nation's hospitals that put patients' health and safety at risk, under a groundbreaking proposal from federal health officials.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services wants to require that private health care accreditors publicly detail problems they find during inspections of hospitals and other medical facilities, as well as the steps being taken to fix them. 

Nearly nine in 10 hospitals are directly overseen by those accreditors, not the government.

There's increasing concern among regulators that private accreditors aren't picking up on serious problems at health facilities. 

Every year, CMS takes a sample of hospitals and other health care facilities accredited by private organizations and does its own inspections to validate the work of the groups. 

Despite iffy weather, high pollen forecast for Charlestown

Even though the National Weather Service says there is a chance of showers in Charlestown every day through Monday, is also forecasting high pollen numbers. With all our budding trees, that's not a total surprise.

Here is the pollen forecast.

Continue to see the types of pollen in our air...

“Pride of Rhode Island”

Election 2016 sean spicer fake news GIFEDITOR’S NOTE: Spicer is the second of two Rhode Islanders picked for high positions in the Trump White House. Now disgraced Michael Flynn was the other. When these guys were picked, Rhode Island media drooled over being able to make a national Rhode Island connection. I predicted both would disgrace the state. – W. Collette
White House press secretary Sean Spicer is a train wreck. After all, this is the guy who said Hitler really wasn’t that bad.
Everybody tunes in daily to see what ridiculous assertion will come out of his mouth this time, and apparently, that is all the job security he needs in Donald Trump’s administration.
According to the Washington Post, Trump has no intention of firing Spicer because he “gets great ratings,” and in Trump’s White House, ratings matter far more than facts. 

The WaPo article explores Trump’s obsession with cable news and revealed that Spicer’s job is safe as long as he can keep people turning in to watch him crash and burn.
“I’m not firing Sean Spicer,” Trump said, according to sources. “That guy gets great ratings. Everyone tunes in.”

Thursday, April 27, 2017

No to fossil fuel, yes to green energy and more

By Steve Ahlquist in Rhode Island’s Future

The Environment Council of Rhode Island (ECRI) and its president, Jerry Elmer, celebrated Earth Day at the State House with their annual lobby day. 

Over the course of a short presentation Elmer outlined the four bills that will be the legislative priorities of ECRI. ECRI also invited Governor Gina Raimondo, Senator Josh Miller and Representative Deborah Ruggiero to speak to the assembled environmental advocates. 

The Environment Council of Rhode Island is a coalition of more than 60 organizations and individuals whose mission is to  serve as an effective voice for developing and advocating  policies and laws that protect and enhance the environment.

The first bill ECRI is supporting is the EnergizeRI Act, (H5369/S365). This act would establish a fee on companies that sell fossil fuels in Rhode Island, paid at the point of sale within the state for consumption or distribution within the state. This act would also establish a “Clean Energy and Jobs Fund” to disburse the collected funds. 

The funds would be disbursed through rebates to all residents and businesses in the state as well as allocated to climate resilience, energy efficiency, energy conservation, and renewable energy programs that benefit Rhode Islanders, particularly low income residential properties and small business properties.

How government works now

For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Saturn in Infrared from Cassini 

Many details of Saturn appear clearly in infrared light.

Bands of clouds show great structure, including long stretching storms. Also quite striking in infrared is the unusual hexagonal cloud pattern surrounding Saturn's North Pole. Each side of the dark hexagon spans roughly the width of our Earth.

The hexagon's existence was not predicted, and its origin and likely stability remains a topic of research.

Saturn's famous rings circle the planet and cast shadows below the equator.

The featured image was taken by the robotic Cassini spacecraft in 2014 in several infrared colors -- but only processed recently.

In September, Cassini's mission will be brought to a dramatic conclusion as the spacecraft will be directed to dive into ringed giant. 

The truth about solar

4 Myths about Solar Energy
By Bobbi Peterson in

You’ve likely heard a lot about solar energy lately, especially if you’re interested in environmental, energy, technology or political news. You’ve probably seen solar panels as you go about your daily lives. Maybe you even get some of your energy from the sun.

Solar energy use has been increasing for residential customers, businesses, and utilities. The U.S. solar energy industry had its biggest year ever in 2016 and nearly doubled the capacity installed in 2015. It’s projected that, over the next five years, solar photovoltaic capacity will nearly triple.

With all the attention being given to solar energy, there are a few common misconceptions about it. 

Here are some of the most common myths about solar energy, and the truths behind them.

Is soda bad for your brain? (And is diet soda worse?)

Both sugary, diet drinks correlated with accelerated brain aging
Boston University

Americans love sugar. Together we consumed nearly 11 million metric tons of it in 2016, according to the US Department of Agriculture, much of it in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages like sports drinks and soda.

Now, new research suggests that excess sugar -- especially the fructose in sugary drinks -- might damage your brain. Researchers using data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) found that people who drink sugary beverages frequently are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus -- an area of the brain important for learning and memory.

But before you chuck your sweet tea and reach for a diet soda, there's more: a follow-up study found that people who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not.

Obamacare Is Actually Working

The law has flaws, but more Americans are insured than ever 

Image result for obamacare is workingQuestion: What do you get when you mix a barrel of fables, a sack of mendacity, and a gross of whoppers – topped with a thick layer of subterfuge? 

Answer: The fiasco that’s been the Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“We’re going to do something that’s great,” The Donald trumpeted when he endorsed House Speaker Paul Ryan’s now-dead bill to displace Obamacare. But Trumpcare was “great” only in the sense that it was a great-big bloated concoction of lies.

Start with the original lie that right-wing Republicans have harped on for nearly a decade: Obamacare is a total failure.

We’ll “repeal and replace” it as soon as we get control of the national government, they shouted.

Then, when Trump happened, he made killing Obama’s Affordable Care Act his top legislative priority. Ryan chimed in with a perfect imitation of Chicken Little, squawking that the ACA is in a “death spiral.”

In fact, Trump and the Speaker were lying.

While Obamacare has flaws that require fixing, overall it’s been a tremendous success. 

VIDEO: Cutting IRS funding is a new kind of tax break for the rich


Donald Trump is proposing a 14.1 percent cut in the I.R.S.’s budget next year. This is incredibly dumb, for four reasons:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Is Donald Trump nuts?, continued

Mental health professionals meet at Yale, warn Trump's state 'putting country in danger'

Image result for is donald trump nutsA group of mental health professionals gathered at Yale University on April 20 to discuss what they believe is their duty to warn the public of the "danger" posed by President Donald Trump.

The "Duty to Warn" event was attended by roughly two dozen people and was organized Dr. Bandy Lee, assistant clinical professor in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, the CTPost writes.

Lee called the mental health of the president "the elephant in the room," and said: "Colleagues are concerned about the repercussions of speaking." 

Yale did not sponsor the event, and said that conference-goers were expected to follow the Goldwater Rule. Enacted in 1973, it bars psychiatrists from giving their professional opinion on the mental health of a person they have not met.

In case you wondered

Where Do Butterflies Come From?