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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Charlestown Briefs

Peeps®, job openings, money, flu, nuclear shut-downs, meteors, moving out, politics and more
By Will Collette

Time once again for Peeps®

Ash Wednesday was February 13 so we’re trucking on toward Easter which is, as all Progressive Charlestown readers know, famous for its Peeps® diorama contests. Yes, Peeps®, one of the four major food groups become the main media for some lovely works of art.

Creative folks all across the country are challenged to come up with their own little tableaus using Peeps® to win contests by newspapers and organizations all over – including Progressive Charlestown. While we did not get as many amazing entries as the Washington Post did – their annual Peeps® contest is the granddaddy of them all – but we were pleased. So, Peeps®, get cracking and come up with your own creations. Send us a digital photo and we’ll run the best of them in Progressive Charlestown.

Temporary Jobs.

The RI Department of Labor and Training announced that it wants to hire unemployed RI workers for temporary jobs cleaning up storm damage at state beaches and parks. Preference is being given to those who have been unemployed for more than 15 weeks, veterans and those who lost their jobs due to Sandy.

To apply, write or call (401) 781-8400. In Charlestown, we expect you to do this work for free.

Reminder: RIDEM is taking applications for summer jobs, also at state parks and beaches. Click here for details.

Money, money, money.

Two more reminders…one is about new RIDEM grants for farmers (click here for details) and the other is to check out the list of Charlestown property tax breaks to see if you qualify.

If you qualify for a Charlestown tax break, you should take action before March 1st to ensure it is reflected in your upcoming tax bill. Click here.

Flu slacks off.

While you should still GET YOUR DAMNED FLU SHOT, the RI Health Department reports a major drop-off in the number of reported cases. That’s very good news, given how early and how hard this year’s flu season began. The Health Department has convinced about half of all Rhode Islanders to get the shots. They warn that without the vaccine, you are still vulnerable.

Pilgrim Problems.

I recently wrote about a study raising concerns about how major coastal storms could cause serious problems at nuclear power plants, such as the one closest to Charlestown, the Millstone facility outside of New London. When storms cut off external power feeds to these plants, it can compromise the plant’s facility to cool its reactors and radioactive waste storage pools.

It’s ironic that nuclear power plants would be vulnerable like that.

This kind of problem just arose during Winter Storm Nemo when the power was lost at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth, MA.

Our new Town Administrator Mark Stankiewicz was town manager in Plymouth and had to contend with that plant as a major player in his town. Stankiewicz spoke out against the federal policy that has allowed nuclear power plants to become long-term, perhaps even permanent, storage sites for radioactive waste. He told the Boston Globe on October 3, 2010 that he disapproved of the NRC’s idea of allowing on-site storage for 300 years that “We don't want to be a nuclear disposal site." Amen to that.

Look out below.

If you’re one of millions who were wondering what would happen if we were hit by a meteor like the one that recently exploded over Russia, here’s how you can find out. Purdue University has a nifty website (click here) that allows you to enter custom variables to see what the impact of a meteor would be on you. Very cool.

Here's another reminder to sign up for the NASA e-mails that give you a head’s up (literally) on when the International Space Station will pass overhead. The day Cox restored our internet connection after Nemo, I got that e-mail for an over-flight that same day. The early evening sky was crisp and clear and right on schedule, the ISS passed almost directly overhead. It’s one of the brightest objects in the night sky other than the moon and a thrill to see. Sign up here.

The political common wisdom, multiple parts.

We all have our own treasured beliefs about politics. Sometimes they’re true. Sometimes they’re not. But they are always worth reflection and challenge. I’ve saved up a number of such items and here they are.

Common wisdom: people are leaving Rhode Island in droves. Forbes Magazine, hardly a liberal bastion, just released a survey of the Top Ten States People Are Fleeing. Guess where Rhode Island ranks. Click here.

Common wisdom: And the reason people are leaving is because of taxes. We’ve kicked that one around quite a lot, but here’s some new information (click here). Preview: it’s not taxes.

Common wisdom: you know exactly where you stand on the political spectrum of liberal to conservative. Are you willing to put that to the test? Click here.

Common wisdom: Rhode Island is the most liberal state in the country. Well, not quite. We’re actually tied for 7th place. Surprisingly, Rhode Island is also one of the most moderate states, ranked #2 behind Alaska. Click here for Gallup’s recent poll.

Here’s one where the common wisdom is right: conservatism is caused by bad parenting. Click here. And Americans are selfish and lack empathy. Click here.

Accidental wisdom

Yeah, I'm sure new town Republican chair Greg
Avedisian just can't wait to ally with the CCA...
Thanks, Mark Zaccaria!
In Dave Pepin’s Sun article on Tina Jackson and the messy attempt to revive the Republican Party in Charlestown, Dave cites an interesting piece of accidental wisdom by out-going state GOP chair Mark Zaccaria: “While admitting he didn’t know a lot about the CCA, Zaccaria said it functioned similar to a Tea Party group as a nonaffiliated political force.”

Comparing the CCA to the Tea Party makes perfect sense, especially in light of the moves by the CCA’s political uncle, the RI Statewide Coalition to effectively merge with the RI Tea Party and the Moderate Party.

Zaccaria is also quoted in Dave’s article as musing about a possible future partnership between Charlestown Republicans and the CCA.

I’ll bet new GOP Town Chair Gregg Avedisian leaped to embrace that suggestion, especially since Gregg, along with CRTC members Candi Dunn and Forrester Safford won their Council seats in 2008 as CCA-endorsed candidates only to be attacked and excommunicated by the CCA within months after taking office.

The one thing you can say for certain about Zaccaria – he’s definitely not from around here.

In case you missed it…

Town Democrats accomplished their own biannual reorganization and announced their roster for the 2013-2014 term. Click here. They did it without the need of any outside intervention from the state party or failed state representative candidates with criminal records. The CDTC also posted an article describing the many different resources that exist in our area to help people in need. Click here.

Charlestown’s state Representative Donna Walsh gained some key appointments to House committees for the current term of the General Assembly. Click here.