Menu Bar

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

Saturday, September 29, 2012

CCA adds affordable housing for the elderly to list of things they hate

CCA Council candidate George Tremblay launches all out attack on imaginary elderly housing cheats
By Will Collette

As predicted, CCA-endorsed Planning Commissioner (and CCA candidate for Town Council) George Tremblay rolled out his “research” on affordable housing at the Planning Commission’s September 26 meeting.

Tremblay, who touts his credentials as a scientific researcher, produced a thoroughly biased “report” whose “findings” could have been predicted last January when Tremblay started pushing for a study that would validate the anti-affordable housing position of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance.

While it is no surprise that Tremblay produced a report that supported his preconceived conclusions, Tremblay added a whole new layer of bizarre to the increasingly outlandish positions the CCA and its candidates are taking as we get closer to the November 6 Election.

Tremblay revealed that he has discovered yet another threat to Charlestown’s bucolic rural slumber – predatory millionaire senior citizens.

No, Tremblay isn’t talking about our South of One retirees and their waterfront McMansions. Nope.

Tremblay thinks there might be fake low-income elderly living in existing affordable housing, and more on the way if we create more such housing. 

These are housing units that limit income to between 50% and 80% of average median income for one or two people. There are no such housing units in Charlestown, but Tremblay is concerned these elderly embezzlers may be getting ready to pounce if and when Charlestown creates some.

Tremblay speculates in his paper that income-restricted affordable housing for the elderly will attract senior citizens with multimillion-dollar retirement funds who will snap up those housing units for investment purposes.

I blasted Tremblay in my preview article, noting that these hypothetical elderly millionaires would not qualify because of mandatory withdrawals they would be required to take from their hypothetical million-dollar plus retirement accounts.

Part of the horde about to descend on Charlestown...
In apparent response to that critique,  Tremblay did a bait and switch at the Planning meeting and talked about housing for seniors with incomes up to 120% of median income – housing that was not even part of Tremblay’s study – for which the income limits could climb to $69,000 a year. 

That figure – for housing that doesn’t exist in Charlestown or for that matter, in the study area for Tremblay’s paper – provides a more convenient fit for Tremblay’s theory about all these imaginary rich, elderly cheats better than what he actually wrote in his paper.

But George forgot yet another little detail about these elderly con artists buying affordable housing for investment – affordable housing comes with deed restrictions that blocks these imaginary cheats from flipping the homes for a profit and those deed restrictions carry over to future owners.

...wave after wave of them, all carrying
bags of unmarked bills
Maybe Tremblay is projecting his own lifestyle or way of thinking about property acquisition onto these hypothetical legions of elderly scammers. 

He seems to think they are massed at the Charlestown borders with bags of cash, revving the motors of their wheelchairs to charge in and grab all those age and income restricted affordable housing units that don’t actually exist, but might at some point in the future.

I’ll bet George has photos and video of these hordes and is ready to present it as evidence. I’ll bet George has documents and statistics to support his claims.

Except, for some odd reason, there were no photos, links to videos, references to documents or other studies in Tremblay’s paper. Nothing, absolutely nothing, to back up this bizarre fantasy. Don’t believe me? Click here to read his report for yourself.

In fact, Tremblay presented his attack on the elderly without a single shred of evidence. Indeed, it sure looks to me like he just plain made it all up.

But by CCA standards, that’s more than good enough. After all, just saying so makes it so in CCA-land.

Planning Commissar Ruth Platner (running for reelection to another 6-year term after 16 years in office) and Town Council Boss Tom Gentz, also running for reelection on the CCA slate, spoke approvingly of Tremblay’s stance against affordable housing.

Platner to Gentz - "Do you think people will buy Tremblay's story?"
Gentz wants to spread the word in hopes of sparking a rural revolt against compliance with state law (which he swore an oath to uphold). Gentz even wants there to be more “study,” as if Tremblay’s “research” wasn’t proof enough to support the CCA’s anti-affordable housing position. Adding more manure to the pile isn't going to make it smell any less.

Planning Commissar Ruth Platner, the real head of the CCA despite Virginia Wooten’s titular position as CCA President, has hinted in the past that the CCA doesn’t like senior citizen housing. Platner’s theory was that senior citizens own lots of cats and let them run loose where they might kill birds, so expanding affordable housing for the elderly will lead directly to the extinction of our bird population.

Of course, Platner, who like Tremblay brags about her scientific credentials, presented not one shred of evidence to support her claim that seniors in affordable housing—or their cats—are bird murderers.

Now she’s also got Tremblay’s imaginary elderly embezzlers to rationalize her distaste for senior citizen housing. Tremblay's theory is at least as well-researched as Platner's Catapocalypse.

But making claims without evidence and creating imaginary boogeymen is the way the CCA governs Charlestown.

To recap some of Tremblay’s other “research findings,” we learn on the first and the last pages of his report that his “research” does not address the single most important aspect of affordable housing – rental properties.

The almost complete lack of affordable, year-round rentals in Charlestown is such a central part of the problem that Tremblay’s omission renders his report useless.

There’s Tremblay’s tortured data on the housing needs of town workers. Two-thirds of town workers – but not counting Chariho teachers or volunteer firefighters who are left out of Tremblay’s “study” - do not live in Charlestown. 

But that’s not a problem, because one-third of them do. Tremblay divided town workers into three broad salary brackets and concluded that the town workers who don’t live in town don’t need affordable housing to find housing in Charlestown. Read his report yourself to try to understand Tremblay’s twisted reasoning regarding the needs of people who do important work for this town.

When Tremblay first started pushing this “research” project last January, he got Council approval to hire a consultant to collect and crunch the data, though Tremblay told Town Planner Ashley Hahn Morris that he intended to have total control over the project, including any hiring decision.

Tremblay: "Let me be clear" I AM IN CHARGE!

Only one person applied for the consultant gig – former Planning Commission member Melina Lodge, who is a longtime Charlestown resident, holds a Master’s in Planning and has worked in municipal planning departments. Her proposal included not only her impressive credentials but also her bid price, which was two-thirds less than the amount Tremblay had expected the town would need to pay.

But Tremblay blackballed Melina . It seems that despite Melina’s credentials and low bid price, Melina was not politically acceptable to the CCA. When Melina served on the Planning Commission, she clashed with Platner when she called Platner on inaccurate data Platner was trying to pass off as fact.

Melina was not only unsuitable because she was not a CCA person (in fact, Melina is running as a CDTC-endorsed candidate for Planning Commission) but Melina also could not be counted on to cook the data to Tremblay’s or the CCA’s satisfaction.

When Tremblay ran for Planning Commission in 2010 and in his current Town Council campaign bio, he touts his scientific research credentials and research work at URI. 

After seeing Tremblay’s “study” on Low and Moderate Income Housing, I think URI ought to consider going over Tremblay’s projects to see if he applied the same “research” methodology to the work he did there. 

I shudder to think what Tremblay taught students under his tutelage at URI.

Yes, George Tremblay is a fine example of the kind of leadership the CCA has brought to Charlestown.