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Monday, July 18, 2011

CSI Charlestown: DNA tests show CCA and RISC from the same gene pool

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There was a flurry of angry comments over a  Progressive Charlestown article I wrote that showed board interlocks between the RI Statewide Coalition (RISC) and the bogus research center the Ocean State Policy Research Institute (OSPRI).

A lot of those comments seemed to come from CCA supporters. That sparked my curiosity about why such a vehement reaction, especially since it had so little to do with the real topic of my articles – that OSPRI had put out a report that was 100% on the facts about what OSPRI considered to be wasteful government spending in Charlestown. I would have loved to hear them explain how cleaning up toxic contamination at the old Kenyon dump site is an example of wasteful spending.

Anyway, I decided to see if CCA had any genetic ties to either RISC or OSPRI and ran the appropriate DNA tests.

Here are the results:

First, the negative results. There were no detectable DNA links between the Charlestown Citizens Alliance and the Ocean State Policy Research Institute. No overlapping board members. No cross-linking on the Internet. No match.

But there were significant positive returns on the relationship test between the CCA and the RI Statewide Coalition.

The clearest link is the board “interlocks.” RISC and the CCA share two founding members in Kallie Jurgens and Tom DePatie. Former CCA President Jurgens and CCA Steering Committee member DePatie were both founding members of RISC. DePatie has served on the RISC Board and the CCA Steering Committee since both groups were founded to the present day.

So has Kallie Jurgens, who also sits on the RISC Foundation Board, the 501(c)(3) group RISC formed so it could accept tax-deductible gifts and foundation grants. And she does all this while claiming to be a permanent resident of Florida!

There was a third interlock – Martha Hosp – but she disappeared from the RISC board at around the same time her husband Richard, part of the CCA’s 2008 Town Council slate, was excommunicated by the CCA.

These links go back to the beginnings of both the CCA and RISC, when it was known as the Rhode Island Shoreline Coalition. Back then, RISC’s top two priorities were (1) the right to vote in town elections for rich out-of-state property owners and (2) screw the Narragansett Tribe.

Since then, RISC has expanded its agenda to include broad advocacy for the rich, great disdain for the poor and a seething hatred for labor unions, Democrats, progressives and – if you look hard enough – cats.

In its earlier days, the CCA also embraced RISC’s interest in voting rights for absentee property owners. The CCA even endorsed former state Representative Matt McHugh when he ran against Rep. Donna Walsh in 2008.

McHugh emphasized his career-long support for out-of-stater’s voting rights at the CCA’s August 2008 candidates’ forum, clinching his CCA endorsement. He was RISC’s long-time champion in the General Assembly on this important justice issue for the rich.

Dan Slattery - former CCA prez. Current Town Council VP

Present Town Council Vice-President Dan Slattery, then the CCA’s President, wrote the endorsement letter.

Finally, if you go on the CCA website and go to links for Organizations, there you’ll find they link to RISC. Also to CCA’s anti-wind proxy group, Ill Wind RI.

CCA’s affections last long and die hard – they even maintain a link to Governor Donald Carcieri (I wonder if they realize that when you click on it, it takes you to Governor Lincoln Chafee, not to the Donald’s new home in Florida).

Now, unless you are a fan of inside baseball politics, who cares about which organizations are linked? That’s a fair question because most people are more concerned about what organizations do and what they stand for, not who they hang out with. And sometimes talk of these associations is used to distract people’s attention from important issues, like fair taxes, environmental quality, affordable housing and honest, transparent government.

RISC and CCA grew up together and share leaders, but more importantly, they also share agendas – like favoring rich absentee property owners over families who send their kids to local schools or need an affordable place to live. Or senior citizens' housing. Or the public’s need for decent public facilities (e.g. firehouses and beach toilets). Or whether to wall off Charlestown as an enclave for the privileged. 

Author: Will Collette