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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

“We have met the enemy and he is us”



Like a snake eating its own tail, in the 2010 election, the CCA ousted its own incumbents. They are the bums we voted out.

Part 2 of Actions speak louder than platforms


By Linda Felaco

As part of his recent series titled “Do political parties matter?” my colleague Will Collette wrote about what he called “the drone of the anti-incumbents,” i.e., “Vote the bums out.” It seems to be a form a collective amnesia whereby during every election, voters toss out incumbents who in the previous election were the saviors who were supposed to rescue us from the previous incumbents.

Nowhere is this collective amnesia more bizarre than in the Charlestown Citizens Alliance, which in the 2010 election actually ran against its own incumbents.


Readers of my previous story, “Actions speak louder than platforms,” know that it was only with great difficulty that I was able to obtain a copy of CCA’s 2010 campaign literature, which has been expunged from their website. I got a pdf scan of it from someone who had the original, but parts of the scan are illegible. On the advice of reader Davespop, I tried to retrieve the online version through the Wayback Machine but was unsuccessful. So each page had to be rescanned as an individual jpeg file. You can read them here, here, here, and here.

The CCA’s 2010 campaign literature is littered with disparaging references to the “incumbents” and “members of current government.” Reading it, you’d never know that every single member of the 2008-10 Town Council was handpicked by the CCA[1] and that they were essentially running against themselves.

An entire page of the mailer is emblazoned in large type, “Why Charlestown needs change.” Good question, seeing as how the CCA’s entire slate had been in office since 2008. Seems to me the CCA is the reason Charlestown needs change.

I had yet to become involved in town politics at the time, and I don’t mind admitting, I had a devil of a time trying to figure it out. It reminded me of nothing so much as that famous scene in Chinatown where Jack Nicholson keeps slapping Faye Dunaway to get her to tell him who Katherine is. “She’s my sister!” “She’s my daughter!” “She’s my sister and my daughter!”

I do remember that it was fairly late in the day by the time I made it to the polls in 2010, and the old CCA slate definitely seemed to be having a bad time of it. Candi Dunn tried to hand me some literature, and when I politely declined it (I do so hate to waste paper; I had all the mailings with me, as I showed her), she got rather snippy with me. At the time, I remember thinking to myself, “Hey don’t take it out on me.” But having seen the CCA in action up close and personal since then, all I can say now is, Candi, if you’re out there, I feel your pain.

And the funny thing is, some of the very same actions they complained about the “incumbents” having done in the 2008-10 council session, the CCA councilors immediately proceeded to engage in themselves once their new slate was in office. To wit:

Replace “Ninigret Pond” with “Watchaug Pond,” plug in the appropriate dollar figures and the acreage, and replace “U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Salt Ponds Coalition” with “John Donoghue,” and they might as well be talking about Y-gate.

The CCA 2010 candidates also promised to subject all town decisions to cost-benefit analysis. I don’t remember the current CCA council members ever offering a cost-benefit analysis of the Y-camp purchase, do you? Or of anything else, for that matter. What I do remember is Town Council President Tom Gentz (CCA) having to be schooled by Stephen Hoff on financial matters on several occasions. Go to Clerkbase and search for “Hoff” and you’ll see what I mean.

Yes, the current CCA councilors are indeed the bums we voted out.


[1] They also assumed complete control of the Planning Commission in 2008, in part by hand-picking successors to elected members who’d resigned.