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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Big night for town Democrats

Guests at Charlestown Dems monthly meeting talk 2012 elections
By Will Collette

On Monday night, I got to wear two hats. One was as a proud and loyal member of the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee. The other was as co-editor of Progressive Charlestown, the independent (got that, CCA?) source of news and progressive opinion in our fair town.

The meeting was highlighted by guest speakers who drove down to Charlestown to talk to town Democrats about the rapidly intensifying 2012 election. At the top of the bill was Rep. Jim Langevin. State Democratic Party Executive Director Stephanie DeSilva also spoke, as did Devin Driscoll, Rhode Island State Director for the campaign to re-elect President Obama.

All three speakers stressed how the 2012 campaign has already begun in earnest and it’s only going to get more intense from this point forward. Mountains of money will be spent. It will get ugly and no one is taking anything for granted, including Rhode Island’s status as one of the bluest of the Blue States.

In addition to giving the CDTC an update on the status of the Presidential, Congressional and state election campaigns, each speaker also pledged to help Charlestown Democrats take back the town from Charlestown’s elite.

Here in Charlestown, it’s not so much Democrats versus Republicans, but a challenge to the dominance of Charlestown’s elite through their organization, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA), by the town’s middle-class and working families.

The CCA calls this “class war,” and they’re right. But it is a war that Charlestown’s elite started waging against Charlestown’s working class a long time ago.

Mike Chambers, one of the emerging new CCA leaders, recently wrote on the CCA website that Locally, there has been an effort to translate the [Obama] Administration’s policy [on reducing the gap between the rich and the poor] to the local level, to link income to property tax. To try to morph the Administration’s policy on income into a local policy on property is ill-advised and completely unfair.”

The $1000 Homestead Tax Credit would have knocked $1000 off the tax bills of every full-time resident. The effect of this credit on the tax rate would have offset the extra 7% increase revaluation added to middle-class homeowners’ tax bills. As the Charlestown Dems candidly admitted, the $1000 tax credit would have reduced taxes for most middle-class homeowners while it would raise property taxes on $1 million-plus properties. But that simply reverses what the town's reassessment did last July - it raised middle-income taxes by 7% MORE than it did the million-dollar properties. 

But the CCA thinks it is “ill-advised and completely unfair” to expect million-dollar homeowners to pay their fair share to give embattled middle-class families a break.

Yes, it’s going to be a long, difficult and nasty campaign. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be friendly and cooperative. In that spirit, I’d even like to offer the CCA the following design they can use as their campaign bumper sticker and on their materials: