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Monday, June 23, 2014

Platter of Charlestown Tapas

Starting with a really good one
By Will Collette

Charlestown unemployment drops but so does the workforce

RI’s Department of Labor and Training’s latest numbers for Charlestown for the month of May are really good news. For the first time since September 2008, Charlestown’s unemployment rate was down to 7.0%. The total number of Charlestown workers collecting unemployment compensation was down to 313. A large part of the reason for the drop can be attributed to another 60 Charlestown workers dropping out of the labor force which meant that only 13 Charlestown workers found new jobs. Despite that, these new numbers are still a welcome improvement.



For the first time in a while, Charlestown’s unemployment rate is lower than the state average, even though the overall state unemployment rate fell to 8.2%.

Charlestown housing news not so good


Zillow is continuing to show Charlestown home values dropping, but worse, they are projecting a 2.3% decline in average Charlestown home values over the next year. Here’s how they describe it:
The median home value in Charlestown is $316,200. Charlestown home values have declined -1.0% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will fall another 2.3% within the next year. The median list price per square foot in Charlestown is $267, which is higher than the Providence Metro average of $176. The median price of homes currently listed in Charlestown is $399,000 while the median price of homes that sold is $255,824. The median rent price in Charlestown is $1,250, which is lower than the Providence Metro median of $1,300.
Zillow tracks Charlestown's past home values and offers its forecast for the next year
Part of what drags down overall home values is the continuing presence of homes in foreclosure and pre-foreclosure proceedings. Zillow lists 22 such properties in Charlestown.


Foreclosures and pre-foreclosures in Charlestown

Bradford joins the ranks of fake fire districts

The Bradford Fire District has cashed itself out of the fire-fighting business, approving a two-year contract with Dunn’s Corners for coverage. Their decision was driven by harsh economics, rather than gaming the system to lather on more tax breaks for rich people like the fake fire districts in Quonnie Central and Shady Harbor (click here for details on how fake fire districts cheat honest taxpayers).

The deal isn’t finalized until Dunn’s Corners agrees. According to a Westerly Sun piece, Bradford Fire District voters decided against including the defunct former Bradford Dyeing property in the deal even though Dunn’s Corners wanted this property included. Dunn’s Corners wanted them included on the premise that it would make it easier for them to collect $15,000 mill owner Nick Griseto owes them for Dunn’s Corners responses to calls from the mill.

The Bradford Fire District authorized $10,000 for a lawyer to look into suing former fire fighters for equipment that disappeared when the district’s fire-fighting capability fell apart. Missing items include two trucks, radios, hoses, lights, fans, shovels, turn-out gear, etc.

Solid opponent to oppose Doreen Costa in November

Julie Casimiro might be the one to take
out Doreen Costa
State Representative Doreen Costa (R-Tea Party), one of the General Assembly’s worst and craziest members, will face a strong opponent in the November election. Democrat Julie Casimiro, development director for Family Service of RI, announced she will run for the District 31 seat.

Costa won election as a Tea Partier and continues to fly her crackpot colors and make mischief. 

Costa was a main instigator behind the gun lobby’s attempted (and failed) effort to recall four Democratic Town Council members in Exeter because they wanted the state to take responsibility for conducting background checks for concealed carry permits. Exeter does not have its own police force.

This will be a race to watch. If you want to see Doreen Costa do her wingnut schtick, watch this (thanks, Tracey): 


Some more good news

According to the Violence Policy Center, Rhode Island has the lowest gun death rate in the US. The group combed CDC records and found that RI’s rate was 3.14 gun deaths per 100,000 people compared to a national average of 10.38. Louisiana tops the charts with 18.91 gun deaths per 100,000.

However, the CDC has been hobbled by prohibitions against research on gun violence imposed by Republican conservatives at the behest of the gun lobby. The latest data is from 2011.

Also, consumer rating site WalletHub says Rhode Island is the sixth safest place to live in the United States. This was based on analyzing data on murders, traffic fatalities, on the job deaths (second best in the country), crime, etc. We also have the fifth lowest rate of uninsured people. Massachusetts and New Hampshire came in at #1 and #2, respectively.

Though not all is rosy

Despite these encouraging reports, we’re not without our problems, including guns among them. The General Assembly failed to pass Rep. Donna Walsh’s bill to ban shooting firearms from aircraft which was inspired by last summer’s crazy incident where a group of Charlestown guys fired weapons at a junked car in one of our local quarries from a helicopter.

According to a new searchable database set up by Pro Publica, in 2012, police seized 209 guns that were used in the commission of crimes in Rhode Island. Almost 40% of those guns were obtained out of state.



As a public safety measure, the RI Airport Authority issued a warning to drone operators that it is illegal to fly drones over or near public open air events such as Charlestown’s Seafood Festival or Rhythm & Roots. 

But maybe there’s a work-around: what if drone operators armed their drones? Second Amendment! Benghazi!

While you’re thinking about that, there was a great recent piece by Steven Rosenfeld that listed ten very good reasons why living in Florida sucks. And that’s in addition to all the CCA Party members who have moved there. 

He cites a new report by the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans called “Florida – A State of Embarrassment.”

This report goes beyond the obvious issues of heat, humungous bugs, disease, hurricanes and obnoxious tourists and notes high rates of crime that target older people, economic problems like continuing real estate problems and high unemployment, some of the most regressive taxes in the country (maybe no income taxes, but they get you in so many other ways) and poor funding for education and social programs that feeds the growing crime rate.

But if you’re one of those types who wants to beat feet out of Rhode Island (bye, bye!), Linda Felaco spotted a cool website that allows you to do the math to see what tax implications there will be for you to make the move. Click here.

Red Light Cameras – don’t hold your breath

The long-running saga of Charlestown’s planned traffic signal cameras – four in all along Route One to catch red light runners – still has not been resolved. 

Although SenSys, the town’s chosen contractor, has been willing to make repairs to defective road sensors rather than wait until RIDOT does it or hell freezes over (whichever comes first), RIDOT is still dawdling on granting its approval for the project. 

The newest hold-up, according to Town Administrator Mark Stankiewicz’s report to the Town Council, comes from DOT’s Scenic Roadway Board which must determine whether the cameras somehow distract from the aesthetics of the light poles and businesses at the four intersections.
From Stankiewicz's report to the Town Council
Did you ever work at a nuclear facility?

The US Department of Labor is conducting an outreach effort to workers who worked at Department of Energy facilities or for its contractors and subcontractors about potential compensation benefits due as a result of radiation exposure. They recently conducted town hall meetings in Connecticut and Massachusetts on the topic and noted that there may be lots of workers in southern New England who qualify for benefits.

Click here for a list of facilities. There’s only one RI company on the list, C.I. Hayes of Cranston. But there are 20 in Massachusetts and 12 in Connecticut. There’s a surprising variety to the list, including such unlikely listings as the Woburn (MA) Landfill.

Hartfordbusiness.com reports that $26.8 million has already been paid out to 250 Connecticut workers.


Conan coughs it up

conan obrien animated GIFLast night, I posted the current list of the Top 100 state personal income tax deadbeats in Rhode Island. Of course, there are lots of other ways a person can become a tax deadbeat, and that includes not paying your property taxes. For example, it turns out that TV late night star Conan O'Brien was one until last Friday when he paid $8,000 in overdue Westerly property taxes on his $773,000 beach property, thus avoiding a Westerly tax sale.

Fruity bouquet

The Rhode Island Fruit Growers Association wants you to get out and visit their member farms and farm food outlets this summer and they’re offering prizes for those who do. They call it their annual RI Farms Scavenger Hunt and they want you to check out at least 18 of the listed farms between now and the end of the year to qualify for the contest for gift certificate prizes. Click here for details and to get the map.

They’re all over the state and include Charlestown’s Umbrella Factory and nearby Manfredi’s near Dunn’s Corners.



Gaspard_TickTick season – NSFM (“Not Suitable for Men”)

I’ve been holding on to this item for about a year, waiting for the right time to release it. 

Now that we’re going into prime tick season (although the little bastards are around all year long), it’s time to talk about a delicate subject, one that the folks at Improbable Research call “Ticks on Dicks.”

Yes, you read that right. They published an article that addresses the consequences when a tick decides to bite where men dread it most. They also include a link to video, if you dare.

Speaking of Dicks

Former Copar Quarry boss Sam Cocopard did not show up in court in Warwick in proceedings on the fraud lawsuit filed against him by the family of Copar money man Phil Armetta. Cocopard, who has a decades-long history of relatively small time financial crime allegedly took $11 million from Armetta before his family stepped in to put the elderly Armetta under a conservatorship.

Superior Court Judge Brian Stern has issued default judgments against Cocopard totaling $11.45 million. Lots of luck in collecting.

And even more

Aftermath of unsuccessful attempt to fit condom onto a gander
I’ve never seen CCA Party Town Council Boss Tom Gentz get more excited about an issue as he does over the “need” to go out in the marshes and oil up geese eggs. 

He really gets worked up over goose shit. We should all be grateful that he has his priorities straight.

Egg oiling is a way of cutting down on “fouling” of the salt ponds because oiling the eggs prevents them from hatching, essentially a form of compulsory abortion for geese

I swear I am not making this up. 

Plus, it’s a lot easier to oil the eggs than it is to put little condoms on the ganders (though I would pay a lot to see Boss Gentz try). Town Administrator Stankiewicz reports an especially successful geese egg oiling season, with a record 176 geese eggs oiled. And as an added bonus, they also oiled 46 swan eggs.

Stankiewicz calculates that this exercise will produce the “peculiar” (his term, not mine) result of 128,480 fewer pounds of bird shit in the salt ponds. And that certainly takes a load off my mind.
From Stankiewicz's Council report

Bergdorf Goodman animated GIF
Events

Don’t forget the upcoming Charlestown Democratic Town Committee annual tag sale coming up on July 5. Click here. Donations of saleable goods still welcome.

And our state Senator Cathie Cool Rumsey whose district includes the top half of Charlestown, is holding a fund-raiser for her campaign next Monday, June 30.