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Monday, September 8, 2014

Charlestown Tapas

Fourteen Fifteen quick takes for busy readers
By Will Collette

Where are the red light cameras?

I passed along a Channel 10 report over a month ago that said Charlestown’s long-delayed red light cameras for the intersections of Route One and East Beach and Route One and West Beach would be up and running by the end of August. 

They weren’t, plus there was no sign that the town’s contractor was doing anything to install them.

So I asked Town Administration Mark Stankiewicz wuzzup with the system and, on September 5 he said via e-mail:
“In regards to your inquiry, the best information I have is Sensys America will have the roadside equipment installed within a week. Sensys is also waiting on National Grid to connect the electric lines. The “best guess” is the system will be operational in approximately 2-4 weeks.”

The Tomaquag Museum in Exeter is looking to hire a Marketing Associate to start work on October 1. The application deadline is September 19. Click here for details or contact director Loren Spears.

South County Community Action here in Charlestown is looking for a Special Needs/Mental Health Coordinator to work in their Head Start program. Sorry for the short deadline – September 10. Click here for details or send a cover letter and resume to ASAP.

If you’re looking for work, you should sign up for daily e-mails from RI Community Jobs, a project of Brown University’s Swearer Center. Click here.

DEM is hiring 20 to 30 seasonal workers to staff the state parks, campgrounds and Goddard Park golf course this fall. They are hiring now and the jobs will run up to November 30. 

They are looking to fill a wide range of positions. Information about DEM and all seasonal positions, as well as downloadable application forms, are available online at DEM's website,, by clicking on "Jobs" then "Seasonal Positions". Applicants may also visit or call DEM's Office of Human Resources at 235 Promenade Street, Room 350, Providence, weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., or call 222-2775, ext. 4609.

Richmond reponds to the Poopline

If you've been reading the Westerly Sun or Progressive Charlestown, you will have seen lots of back and forth over the latest phony crisis concocted by the Charlestown Town Council - the looming though non-existent threat of an STD ("Single Taxing District" for the Chariho School system). 

This bogus conspiracy went viral when the normally unbiased official town newsletter, the Pipeline, published an alarmist and grossly inaccurate "Special Edition." Since we can no longer count on the Pipeline to present objective facts, it will be hereafter referred to as "The Poopline."

Despite efforts by our state legislators, and others, to debunk this myth, our Council's leading conspiracy-buff, the fact-challenged Councilor George Tremblay (CCA Party) just can't help but to keep blowing the bugle to assemble the militia to go to war with Richmond and Hopkinton.

Now the Richmond Town Council has weighed in, as described in the Chariho Times (no electronic link available):

Tough times for the Narragansetts and other tribes

I reported the rejection by the Navy to a proposal by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs to acquire a major portion of surplus Navy land left over from the old Navy base on behalf of the Narragansett Indian Tribe. Matt Sheley of the Newport Daily News (no link, sorry – the NDN doesn’t allow much non-subscriber access) reports the Tribe plans to challenge that decision and thinks it is still “in the mix” to acquire some of the 225 Aquidneck Island acres.

While ruling out a casino for that property, the Tribe isn’t saying what it wants to do with the land. But according to John Brown, a leading tribal official, they still want to acquire that land.

In another development, Indian Country Today reports that a decision is expected soon in a Ninth Federal Circuit Court of Appeals case, Big Lagoon Rancheria v. California. 

The case is being re-heard by all 11 judges of the 9th Circuit after a three judge panel ruled on a 2-1 vote that the state of California was not obliged to negotiate a new gambling compact with the tribe because the tribe was one of the 500 tribes who lost sovereignty rights under the notorious 2009 Carcieri v.Salazar decision by the US Supreme Court.

The US Justice Department and lawyers for the tribe are hoping the full appeals court will overrule the three-judge panel. Charlestown – or at least the Charlestown Citizens Alliance – is invested in seeing the early decision stand since it upholds Carcieri v.Salazar, a case that originated in Charlestown’s effort to block the Narragansett Indian Tribe from building a low-income elderly housing project.

Indian advocates worry that if the 9th Circuit upholds the earlier decision, the 500 tribes that lost sovereignty rights will be in an even deeper hole.

South County Hospital breaks off merger talks with Massachusetts chain

SouthCoast Today and the Providence Business News both report that South County Hospital, the state’s only remaining independent hospital, broke off partnership negotiations with New Bedford-based Southcoast Health Systems. These talks have been going on for about six months. Most hospitals have been pushed into mergers to deal with changes in the economics of health care.

Westerly Hospital faced either bankruptcy and closure or a buy-out by New London-based Lawrence & Memorial Hospital.

Despite the hardships imposed on independent hospitals, such as lower reimbursement rates, South County Hospital has thrived and has scored as the Number One hospital in all of New England for patient satisfaction and top scores in most other ratings.

South County says none of the conditions that drove it to seek a partner or merger have changed, so they will continue looking.

Animal Rescue League needs your help

Just two of the many reasons we support the Animal
Rescue League
Regular Progressive Charlestown readers have probably all seen the weekly notices for the Dog or Cat of the Week. These cute critters are under the care of the Animal Rescue League of Southern Rhode Island in Peace Dale and are available for adoption.

Cathy and I feel a particular connection with them because after the unexpected death of one of our kitties, we visited the shelter and came home with twin brown tabby brothers who have become part of our family.

We got hooked on the League because, we discovered, it is one of the only true no-kill shelters not only in southern Rhode Island but for a much wider distance than that. Like so many shelters, theirs’ is in rough shape. They are building a new state-of-the-art facility next door to the current building and we were proud to make a major donation and to also offer to help raise more.

I recently met the League’s board chair, Doug Rubenstein, who just happens to live right here in Charlestown. As he described the history and the future of the League, I was amazed and thrilled at what they have planned. For example, I wasn’t aware that they run a pet food pantry for low-income families and that they do extensive education in the schools.

They also have a Service Dog Training Academy in the works where they will train shelter dogs for search-and-rescue, service to the disabled, and comfort to the sick and the elderly.

Doug gave a great interview to the Providence Business News recently (click here) where he really makes the case for why you should consider supporting the League or donate generously toward the costs of their new building. They are a 501(c)(3) non-profit and your contributions are tax-deductible. Go to their website for more information.

More Chamberpots

The Charlestown Citizens Alliance has taken the muzzles off the Chambers, Mike and Donna, who have been pretty silent for a number of months. Both have developed reputations in town for their tortured and fact-challenged writings both on the official CCA Party website and in the Westerly Sun. 

Frankly, I’ve missed all those Chamberpots because only the Chambers are na├»ve enough to actually put in writing the delusional stuff the CCA Party generally believes.

I’m waiting for them to write about Tom Gentz’s latest delusion, which is that the state Water Resources Board plans to build “huge pumping stations that will send Charlestown’s water upstate. Gentz has been reported as saying this to voters, but he has yet to be foolish enough to put it in writing. Thus, the perfect mission for the Chambers.

But apparently the Westerly Sun isn’t so thrilled with the Chambers. While they have run three Chamberpots in the Sun’s Letters to the Editor column (on August 25, 26 and 27), they only ran them in the print version which doesn’t get much readership in Charlestown, and not on the Sun’s public website.

If you really want to read these Chamberpots, just take yourself over to the CCA Party website where they are prominently posted. Their appearance there makes it pretty clear that they are espousing the CCA Party line, all disclaimers to the contrary.

Atlantic Animal Hospital expands services, hosts open house

Atlantic Animal Hospital will hold an open house at their offices at the junction of Route One and Route Two in Charlestown on Wednesday, September 13 from 9 to 1 PM. In addition to tours, gifts for pets, snacks and entertainment for kids, they will be showing off their new state-of-the-art mobile veterinary van.

This van will enable them to do house calls. Plus, they will park it at Spindrift Village every other Saturday from 9 – 1 PM for drop ins.

Number of page-reads hits one and a half million

For a small, sort of hyper-local, volunteer-run website on politics, news and entertainment, we’ve been surprisingly successful at attracting regular readers. They average around 2,000 during each weekday. That’s the number of times per day that somebody clicks on an article to actually read it, as opposed to “hits,” which is simply the number of people who, accidentally or on purpose, check out Progressive Charlestown.

So it was nice to hit a new mark, one and a half page-views at 10:30 PM on September 6.

We hit the one and a quarter million mark on April 22, so it took only another four and a half months to attract another quarter million page-reads.
Here's the money...where are the jobs?

The RI Division of Taxation has just released its annual report on the amount of corporate welfare it has dispensed to supposedly create jobs. These usually come in the form of tax credits or subsidies. I am actually a big fan of subsidies, provided (a) they actually create jobs; (b) go largely to small local businesses and (c) are not the result of corporate blackmail (e.g. Fidelity's constant threat to move to another state if we don't keep subsidizing their operations).

Unfortunately, the new report fails to provide any useful information on what good our corporate welfare actually did. We do know that we gave roughly $15 million out last year and that around $12 million of that went to CVS ($9.9 million), Electric Boat of Groton ($1.5 million), Fidelity of Boston ($0.43 million) and Perot Systems of Texas ($0.05 million).

In addition, CVS got another $5.1 million, Electric Boat got another $1.8 million and Fidelity got another $3.2 million in "Investment and Job Training Tax Credits."

Rep. Teresa Tanzi has made pushing for full disclosure on corporate welfare one of her priority issues. The fact that we get even this small amount of information is due to her. I asked her when we'll start seeing some detail on how many jobs we got in return for our money and she e-mailed me to say that starting in FY 2015, they will disclose the jobs numbers for 19 corporate welfare programs out of a total of around 200.  

Dump your old pesticides in Charlestown on September 18

DEM is hosting a free pesticide take-back program for farms and businesses at locations around the state. Charlestown’s DOT Salt Barn right off Route One will be one of the sites. They will accept old pesticides there on September 18 from 9 AM to 1 PM. Click here for more details and for information on the other sites and drop-off dates.

Be careful when you drive or retire in Providence

Allstate Insurance releases the results of its annual survey of roadway safety in America’s major cities. This will come as no surprise for most people who make the drive up to the city, but Providence was among the worst in the nation, coming in at #196 out of 200 cities.

One post-retirement business venture I am seriously considering is launching an on-line rating service for stuff. It seems like just about anyone can start one up and get people to take it seriously. Here’s an example: a service called WalletHub, describing itself as a “personal finance service,” rated 150 of the country’s largest cities in terms of what they had to offer retirees.

Rated #1 is Tampa, Florida – it’s no surprise that Florida scored the top city since the whole state seems geared to attracting retirees and red necks. Five of the top ten are Florida cities. Nearly all of the top rated cities are in the Sun Belt.

Providence won the last place rating. Boston and Worcester were also near the bottom.

I will not venture a guess about any correlation between Providence's low ratings for driving safety and retirement, although maybe there is one.

Is nothing sacred?

I am losing my will to live. How can we have any faith in the future when we are told that Kraft’s individually-wrapped American cheese slices might have spoiled while at one of its suppliers. They have issued a recall and taken back tons of the stuff, which I had thought had the same longevity as Twinkies®, Spam® and marshmallow Peeps®. You can return the recalled cheese at the store where you bought it an exchange or full refund. Consumers also can contact Kraft Foods Consumer Relations at 1-800-396-5512.”

Late add-on

My ever-alert Progressive Charlestown colleague Tom Ferrio - whose technical skills make this website possible - spotted a new "app" of note, for those of you who use "apps" and such. This is called "Wakie" and can be used on Android and Windows phones. Here's how it works - when you download the app, you give your phone number and declare whether you are a Sleepyhead or a Wakie.

Then the app pairs you with some stranger of roughly the same age and the opposite gender and assigns that person to give you a morning walk-up call. Not sure whether there is an LGBT option.

As Dave Barry likes to say, "what could go wrong with that?" Neither the Wakie or the Sleepyhead gets the phone number of the other, unless of course, there's some chemistry that takes place during the wake-up call.