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Friday, September 30, 2011

Mageau joins the CCA and assumes leadership

Or so it seems
By Will Collette

There was a remarkable 842-word tome (“Charlestown Democrats shouldn’t be critical of CCA tactics”) in the Westerly Sun on Tuesday from former Charlestown Town Council President Jim Mageau. I wish I could give you the whole letter but it’s tucked behind the Sun’s pay wall.

This piece is a much-expanded version of a letter Mageau wanted Progressive Charlestown to publish. In that letter, Mageau defamed half a dozen people by name. We asked him to back up his attacks with documentation. He refused. Instead, he fired back at my colleague Tom Ferrio for even asking (“intellectual dishonesty” or some such thing). So we decided not to run his e-mail since we don’t publish undocumented attacks.

But Mageau peddled an expanded and even more unsubstantiated opus to the Westerly Sun which doesn’t seem to share our scruples about publishing unsupported personal attacks. So Mageau's attack piece ran as an op-ed on the Sun's  editorial page.

What makes Mageau’s letter different than his usual screed is his full-throated defense of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance and their elected Council members (Tom Gentz and Dan Slattery). Now, he defends his new friends (whom he lambasted in his last letter to the Sun) from criticism by somebody Mageau hates even more than the CCA – former Council President Deb Carney.

In the past, Mageau has criticized Deb for NOT publicly challenging the CCA, but I guess Mageau has either changed his mind about the CCA or will simply attack anything Deb does.

Mageau often quotes sayings and proverbs, so I’m pretty confident he knows the one that goes “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” But with so many enemies (and so few friends) maybe Mageau gets confused about who to “befriend.”

Deb can defend herself – and she will. I'm going to take on Mageau’s attack on me and on Progressive Charlestown.

Segregationist Gov. George Wallace,
favorably quoted by Jim Mageau
But first, I have to note that Mageau starts his Sun screed by admiringly quoting George Wallace: Wrote Mageau: During his 1968 campaign as a third party candidate for president of the United States, Governor George Wallace of Alabama said: “There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats.”

When I noted the similarity between the CCA’s unflinching opposition to affordable housing to George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door, I was soundly criticized (BTW, I stand by that analogy)  I guess, in Mageau’s case, it’s OK to quote George Wallace to support his position.

After he finishes his assault on Deb Carney, Mageau switches his attack to Progressive Charlestown and me. In this attack, Mageau says This website [Progressive Charlestown] is used to support town policies, the town administrator [Bill DiLibero] and publishes attacks on everyone it disagrees with including this writer [i.e. Mageau]”

I think anyone who reads Progressive Charlestown will wonder what town policies Mageau is talking about. Maybe Mageau has us confused with the CCA website which does operate like a house organ for town government. Progressive Charlestown has often challenged town government on its poor decisions, such as its imposition of a total ban on wind power..

Mageau says I have been a supporter of Town Administrator Bill DiLibero. It's true that I have defended DiLibero against Mageau’s attacks that were either unsupported by fact or grossly exaggerated - and I produced the documentation to back that up. But defending DiLibero from unsubstantiated attacks is not the same as supporting him.

Mageau says PC defended the town’s position regarding a pending Open Meetings Act complaint. The only article I've written about an open meeting complaint is the one by opponents of the Whalerock wind farm. In that article, far from supporting the town's position, I credited the complainants with presenting a well-documented complaint. I also predicted this complaint could be big trouble for some present and former Town Council members.

Mageau says Progressive Charlestown I labeled unfair labor practices (ULP) charge against the town and Town Administrator Bill DiLibero as “minor.” He says my opinion is wrong because the charge is being heard before the state Labor Relations Board.

I wrote about the ULP charge twice, here and here.

I did call the charge "minor" based on years of experience working in the labor movement. Because no one lost their job, rank or money, there is no restitution at stake. DiLibero did make mistakes that led to the complaint making it likely the state Labor Board will rule against the town. But the most likely penalty will be an order that the town post a notice it won't violate workers rights and, I predict, there will be no fine.

Mageau says Progressive Charlestown "publishes attacks on everyone it disagrees with," including him. To be accurate, we don't attack everyone with disagree with - the list is too long. So many people, so little time. And we have gone after Mageau, his protege Lisa DiBello, the Town Council majority and the Planning Commission. So what? That's what a political blog does.

But unlike Jim Mageau, who attacks everyone HE disagrees with, we don't publish attacks on anyone without backing it up with documentation.

Finally, Mageau is, of course, befuddled about the relationship between the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee (CDTC) and Progressive Charlestown. They are not the same. Progressive Charlestown is independent of the CDTC as you can probably tell by the content – unless you are predisposed to seeing conspiracies where none exist.

Tom Ferrio and I created Progressive Charlestown mainly because we wanted a forum to speak our minds. That’s not to say we couldn’t speak our minds within the town committee. It’s just that the Committee’s group process IS a group process and we wanted a way to speak in public as progressive individuals without having the committee be responsible for our individual opinions. We do not consult with or seek the permission of the CDTC before we publish.

The fact that we write as individuals is evident when you see that Tom and I, and our new associate Linda Felaco, don’t always agree. Just look at the point-counterpoint between Linda and me on red light cameras.

Contrary to Mageau’s claim, Tom and I have never hid our ties to the CDTC, unlike Mageau’s denial of ties to Council member Lisa DiBello or former Council candidate Joe Dolock.

The CDTC is a political organization. Progressive Charlestown is a blog that provides progressive writers a public outlet for their opinions and journalistic endeavors.

I didn’t understand what Mageau was trying to say in a long rant about anonymous comments. Progressive Charlestown readers know that we discourage anonymous comments. We have stated our policy on anonymous comments and allow them only in certain circumstances. We reject many more anonymous comments than we publish as we try to break people of the bad habit of not having the guts to put their name on what they write..

We have drawn a bright line of distinction between Progressive Charlestown’s policy which is to discourage anonymous comments and the CCA’s policy of only publishing anonymous comments in their e-bleats (they are now occasionally allowing people to put their names on comments published on their website). Why the difference? Ask them. Or maybe Jim Mageau..

Source: the Providence Journal
Jim Mageau was, in my opinion, the worst Town Council member and worst Town Council President Charlestown has ever had. He has ambitions of a political comeback in 2012 and his Westerly Sun stem-winder seems to be campaign posturing. Intentionally or not, Mageau seems to be trying out where he wants to position himself for that hoped-for comeback.

I guess Mageau has decided he wants to appear he is closer to the CCA than to the Charlestown Democrats. Speaking as a registered Democrat, that’s fine with me and I hope Mageau will soon change his registration to reflect the fact that he ran as an Independent in the 2010 election. 

Mageau’s slide toward the CCA has its own perverse logic since the CCA has royally kicked his ass in the last two elections. If he can't beat 'em, join 'em. Now I wonder how the CCA will react to having Jim Mageau as their new and vocal supporter .