Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Homestead Tax Credit KILLED by Town Council majority

If you ever had any doubts about who runs Charlestown, this should settle them
By Will Collette

An overwhelming turn-out of Charlestown's elite as well as an influx of non-resident property owners was more than enough political cover for the Town Council majority of Tom Gentz, Deputy Dan Slattery and Lisa DiBello to kill the proposal for a $1000 Homestead Tax Credit to Charlestown homeowners who make this town their home.

By the end of the onslaught of poor, rich people, it seemed like the only thing missing was a proposal for the town to run a Telethon to help millionaire homeowners make the payments on their primary home, summer home, and all the other essentials of their lifestyles.

The turn-out was organized by the RI Statewide Coalition, whose head kahuna, Harry Staley, stepped to the podium twice to denounce the very notion of giving permanent residents a tax break. "Class War!" "Divisive!" And the Charlestown Citizens Alliance Steering Committee came out in force, too, to denounce the Homestead Tax exemption concept. We heard from Tom DePatie, Ruth Platner, and Leo Mainelli and from the CCA's allied group, the anti-wind energy NIMBY group Ill Wind RI.

Mary Taylor, formerly of the town Republican Committee, delivered remarks that sounded a lot like Jim Mageau's diatribes against the Homestead Tax Credit proposal. Could have been a coincidence, though.

Among the irate millionaire homeowners were a few people who make their living by serving the rich. Former Council member Forrester Safford spoke out against the proposal noting that he makes his living by doing work on the homes of the summer residents. Yassuh, Forrester loves them summer folk.

Only The Democratic Town Committee Vice-Chair Deb Carney and state Representative Larry Valencia stood to support the proposal. From the Council platform, Gregg Avedisian and Marge Frank attempted to pull something positive out of this debacle, suggesting that there are a lot of Charlestown residents who are hurting, and if the Homestead Tax Credit wasn't going to fly, then some other approach was needed. They suggested that instead of killing the Homestead Tax Credit, there should be a task force to look at a range of alternatives to achieve some similar affect.

But blood was in the water, and emboldened by the big turn-out from their true constituencies - the rich and powerful, whether they live here or not - Gentz, Slattery and DiBello chose to defend the rich and privileged and voted to screw the majority of Charlestown residents.

It was a very good night for them. And for Jim Mageau, too. A remarkable band they are - the CCA, RISC, the South of One millionaires, the Connecticut non-resident property owners AND Jim Mageau - triumphant against the very notion of giving tax relief to working families in mid-priced homes.

Speaker after speaker stood up to denounce "class war," as they each and every one of them practiced class war in its most vicious form. RISC's Harry Staley even intimated that if Charlestown adopted the Homestead Tax Credit - which is no different than the tax break that most of his out of state board members get in their home states - the wealthy might start withholding charitable contributions, business, etc., to punish the peons for their impudence. When he was called out for this pretty blatant threat, Staley didn't deny it.

Gentz, Slattery and DiBello. Harry Staley, Jim Mageau and the CCA crew. What an extraordinary combination! Joined together to make sure that the 279 owners of $1+ million properties don't have to pay extra to lend a helping hand to more than 2000 Charlestown households who could really use the help. That's Class War, Charlestown-style.


  1. "da Rich", threaten economic sanction, while the people of Charlestown have no program to build a nuclear weapon,who knows what tax relief will lead to in "Class War Fare"? Thoughts of "da Rich" economic fall out forced me to place my hand on my wallet for a sense of security while listening to the Shock & Aurevior diatribe. [Occupy town hall without the signs & tents]-Mullahs preached the scared protocol,economic sanctions.
    Projected intimidation fell to the floor while giving thought to November 2012 !
    "da Rich" view discrimination (fair share )to be applied to others, not our kind of people.

  2. As the gentleman sitting next to me last night pointed out while the South of One gang was griping about the cost of sending a kid to Chariho, it's a bargain compared to the cost when they end up at the ACI because they didn't get a decent education to be able to hold down a decent job. Oh, but that's another cost that only those of us who pay RI taxes bear. Still, you'd think they'd give some thought to the fact that vacant houses are more likely to be burglarized. Seems to me it's in their interest to maintain a decent minimum living standard here.

  3. I for one am strongly opposed to the purchase of any more open space—42% is more than enough, IMO—and have written to the council about it in addition to the letter of mine that the Westerly Sun published last month. I thought the conservation development that was proposed at the YMCA camp was a great idea that would've actually added to the town's tax base instead of costing us money. Alas, not being a rich property owner from out-of-state, my views were not taken into consideration.

  4. Jerry-
    Are you seriously trying to blame the progressives in this town for the lack of growth, business or otherwise? Seriously? If the Almighty Town Council/CCA would actually listen to the progressives, we might have a thriving, small-town economy. Instead, we have a large-scale retirement community that is all but assured of dying out in 2 or 3 generations, max. They don't want affordable housing, as that might bring in minorities! Or, even worse, children! They don't want businesses, because they might need to build something, and would cause people to drive somewhere, which would just cause more pollution, and eliminate potential open space. There's a reason that there's no business growth in this town - no one wants to be here! Don't blame the progressives, take a closer look and see who's stopped every proposal offered up to grow the economy and/or tax base of this town.

  5. The rich did not make themselves very likable last night at the council meeting. If you want to see firsthand the sneering contempt they have for all of us, just tune in to Clerkbase. They weren't even satisfied to win their three votes to kill the tax proposal; they demanded an explanation from Greg and Marge for why they abstained.

  6. You're of course absolutely right. It's the folks in the gated enclaves who set up their private associations to provide all their services and then turn around and act like they're giving us something for nothing by paying property taxes, when it's by their own choice that don't avail themselves of the same town services as the rest of us, because that would be too plebeian.

  7. There are town services in Charlestown?

  8. Jerry-
    I don't hate rich people. Not at all. I have nothing but respect for the people who, through hard work and determination, have earned enough to live comfortably (or even extravagantly). The people I have a problem with are those who feel, due to their "social status" or wealth, are better than the rest of us, and therefore have an obligation to "protect us from ourselves." Having money/property/etc. doesn't make a person smarter, better, more qualified to govern, or anything else. It just means you have more material goods. Unfortunately, this is the attitude that has been adopted by a select group in our town. Having grown up in the more urban areas of the state, I was overjoyed when I moved here. I loved the open space, the dark skies, the animal life, the small town attitude, etc. I have no problem with protecting these things, in fact I strongly favor it. I have a problem with actively going backwards in an effort to expand these things to the detriment of everything else. I just don't understand why it's not possible to find a balance between maintaining the beauty and, for lack of a better word, "quaint-ness" of Charlestown and allowing our town to grow and prosper economically. We have the perfect set-up for small business districts, especially near the beaches, where, in the summer, there would be plenty of customers. However, apparently, any development is bad development, and we're forced to sit here and stagnate. THAT is the problem. Not that people are (or aren't) rich.

  9. Thank you, Lee. You've summed up in one comment pretty much everything I've been trying to say here on this blog. I don't hate the rich either. It's their attitude of entitlement I hate. I also hate bootlicking, and I refuse to engage in it.

  10. PART 1: Returning home after being discharged from the hospital I was not surprised to learn that "the wing nut" had posted misleading information on his blog which implies that I had attended Monday night's town council meeting. Instead of telling lies about me he really should engage in an examination of why he and his wife, the so-called chair of the CDTC, were so cowardly that they failed to stand-up and defend the committee's proposal . I've been told that they just sat there looking scared and quaking in their shoes. That also seems to be the case with Frankie "the fool" who apparently looked bewildered and tongue tied and just sat there trying to be invisible. To their credit Deb Carney and Rep. Valencia, who happens to live in Richmond, stood in its defense. It's obvious that the Chair of the CDTC missed an excellent opportunity to publicly thank Tom Ferrio for having the courage to present an idea that re-opened the public debate on the need to adopt a Homestead Tax Exemption ordinance. That's what a smart politician would have done. Now, Gentz and company will appoint a sub-committee to draft an ordinance, take all of the credit and ridicule the CDTC plan. Kathy and Will Collette should resign from the CDTC. You may hate to admit it but when Bruce Picard and I served on the town council we attempted to have a law firm in Providence draft a Homestead Tax Exemption ordinance that would benefit long tine low income residents who are having problems paying their taxes. At that time we received no support from the so-called CDTC and it got shot down on a tie vote of the town council with the support of the CCA.. The responsible members of the CDTC had better wake up to the fact that Willie "the wing nut" and Frankie "the fool" are leading you down a primrose path because they are playing both ends against the middle with respect to town affairs. If any of you think that Willie "the wing nuts" attacks on the residents who opposed the CDTC plan will enhance your public support among the voters your wrong. These part time residents have "deep pockets" and they have demonstrated in the past that they are willing to financially support candidates whose philosophy they agree with. The Collette's and the progressive charlestown blog are your Achilles heel which will ultimately lead to the defeat of Rep. Donna Walsh and other democrats. If through redistricting, Walsh picks up all of the Town of Charlestown as her Representative District, she could have someone like Gentz as an opponent in the November elections. He will have the support of all of these "rich" taxpayers that "the wing nut" is currently attacking. With their support he'll have the financially resources to outspend her 5 -1 and because Gentz will have little trouble associating her with Willie "the wing nut" and the CDTC Homestead Tax Exemption plan she will become a former Rep. The public records show that I've been right on virtually every important issue in town. In 2007 I raised the issue of a new Homestead Tax exemption ordinance. I had the town do the research that showed that the "Open Space" program was was not a benefit to the town regarding pupil enrollments in the school system.

  11. Part 2: In 2008 I was the first one to raise the alarm against the RIDEM's rules mandating the installation of the unnecessary and expensive OSWW dinitrification systems. At that time the CDTC attacked me complaining I was wrong and that I was attempting to scare the homeowners living in the Critical Resource Area (CRA) of town. Bruce Picard and I even had the town council adopt a resolution asking Rep. Walsh and Senator Algiere to introduce legislation to create an Joint Legislative Oversight Committee to review and approve the RIDEM's OSWW regulations. The resolution was apparently ignored because there is no record that shows it was ever introduced. Since then the people have been forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to install these systems. Now, all of the coastal towns are raising hell about them. I've even received telephone calls from officials in other towns asking for information and apologizing for not paying closer attention. There was no magic in determining that the dinitrification systems are not necessary. A major study on Green Hill Pond published by the federal EPA proved it. But then, like now, Willie "the wing nut" thought it was more to his personal advantage to engage in demagoguery by attacking me. Well. he was wrong then and he is wrong now. The CDTC had better start to understand that the Collette' s are political frauds. They've never done anything for Charlestown. It's obvious that they are political neophytes and that they do not understand local political issues.They have never been able to attract any local town council candidates or managed a successful political campaign. If you do not believe me, just take a look at how they just sat there and hung Deb Carney and Tom Ferrio out to dry when Tom Gentz and his cohorts "set you up" for the terrible beating you took at the town council meeting on Monday night.

  12. In Jim's defense, he had just gotten out of the hospital when he wrote this and was probably still groggy from the painkillers. Still, I am curious how a study of Green Hill Pond could possibly prove that denitrification isn't necessary when the pond is so heavily polluted that it's permanently closed to shellfishing.


Comments are moderated so your comment will not appear immediately.