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Monday, March 26, 2012

Bizarro Charlestown

By Linda Felaco

Visitors at the website of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance may have noticed some head-scratching posts in the past month or two in the comments section that have nothing to do with anything on the CCA site and instead directly address (some more circuitously than others) issues we’ve been writing about here at Progressive Charlestown. Michael Chambers has been on a one-man crusade to rebut some of our content—despite having declared, both here on the blog in his “Jerry” persona and before the Town Council at the January 23 Citizens Forum, that he wasn’t going to read us anymore. We’ve dubbed the CCA comments page “The Michael Chambers Regressive Charlestown Blog.” It’s what Progressive Charlestown would look like in Bizarro World.

What’s the Bizarro blog like? Read on after the fold.

For starters, Chambers can somehow never bring himself to use the name Progressive Charlestown. Perhaps Ruth censors him. In a recent post, we are referred to simply as “the Blog.” With a capital B. Apparently, of all the millions of blogs, we alone are the Blog. Though I suppose it could be worse—he could call us the Blob.

Yesterday, he finally managed to refer to us by name, but then proceeded to disavow his membership in Ill Wind, saying “I continue to emphasize that I belong to no group.” Guess like Gentz and Slattery, he does it “his way.”

Anyone we’ve ever criticized here on Progressive Charlestown is a superhero who can do no wrong on the Bizarro blog. Especially Ruth Platner. Chambers’s mash notes to Ruth are so touching it makes me wonder whether Chambers is planning to run for Planning Commission. Or perhaps he and Donna and Ruth and Cliff are trying out for an appearance on Wife Swap.

But since the CRAC fiasco, Chambers has mostly been writing a revisionist history of the charter review process and his role in it—without ever explaining why he went to all the meetings but never bothered to apply for the vacancy that still exists on the Committee of Many Names. Oh, and for the record, Mike? Will was quite aware that the Charter Review Advisory Committee has been referred to by more than one name. He wrote about it himself. But the committee is named in the charter. So if someone’s using a different name from what’s in the charter, it’s reasonable to conclude that that person either didn’t read the charter or didn’t read it particularly attentively. Or didn’t care. Not sure which is worse.

Unfortunately, Chambers neglected to get buy-in for his version of the story from the rest of the CRACers, and Robert Yarnall has now confirmed the Progressive Charlestown version of events at the CRAC hearing and not the Regressive Charlestown version. Oops.

I mean seriously, Mike. There are seven Charter revision proposals on the table, and all seven are universally panned by everyone in the audience but you. And as husband of a committee member, you’re hardly what anyone would call an impartial witness. Heck, even your beloved Ruth Platner spoke out in opposition! So what actually qualifies as a disaster? Do spouses of the committee members have to oppose the proposals as well?

On Regressive Charlestown at least, Chambers seems to have gotten the last word on the subject of CRAC. Either Robert Yarnall saw the futility of continuing to engage Chambers on the subject, or Ruth isn’t posting any more of Yarnall’s comments.*

Meanwhile, commenter Irwin B. reported here on Progressive Charlestown that he’d submitted a comment to Regressive Charlestown criticizing their witch-hunt against the Town Administrator. Strangely enough, Irwin B.’s comment has not appeared on Regressive Charlestown. Apparently, Regressive Charlestown is not willing to post comments that are critical of their actions.

Now Chambers has written what he calls a “banal essay to bore the intelligencia [sic]” in which he seems to be trying to position himself as an election analyst. The various campaigns are spending millions of dollars to divine the mood of the all-important swing voters, but Chambers alone has it all figured out, natch. According to Chambers, “Each of us tends to think we are of one political party or another because we have been brought up that way. … How often have we heard ‘Are you a Republican or a Democrat?’ That is the first question.”

Now, maybe it’s just me, or maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’ve only ever lived in “blue” states, but I just don’t get asked that question, nor do I ask it of others. Oddly enough, no one ever seems to mistake me for a Republican. Guess it’s too obvious that I don’t meet the income requirements.

Though when I first moved to Charlestown, I did ask about the town’s politics, because although I well know how blue Rhode Island is overall, it did occur to me that Charlestown might have enough rich people to actually be Republican. So over dinner one night at the Hungry Haven, my husband and I struck up a conversation with some folks sitting at a nearby table and I asked about the town’s politics. When our companions finished laughing, they replied that politics here in Charlestown was neither Republican nor Democrat but just plain weird (how right they were …) and mentioned the CCA.

So, no, Mike, the CCA doesn’t “scare the bejeebers” out of me. Though they are good for a laugh every now and then. But mostly they’re just blowhards with an exaggerated sense of their own importance.

*UPDATE: On July 17, the CCA Steering Committee announced that they had in fact been censoring Mr. Yarnall’s comments, saying, “We have held some of Mr. Yarnall’s previous comments because they were personal attacks without any other substance or subject.” Apparently, in Bizarro Charlestown, attempting to correct the record about what went on at a public meeting constitutes a “personal attack.”