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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Gävle Goat Lives, Wooten speaks, 2014 ends and lots of job openings

Charlestown Tapas
By Will Collette

Gävle Goat Lives!

This is how the Goat usually ends up, but not this year
For the first time since Progressive Charlestown started monitoring it, Sweden’s Gävle Goat (Gävlebocken) made it through the Christmas holiday without being torched. As regular readers may recall, Gävle, Sweden has a holiday tradition of erecting a 40-foot tall goat made of sticks and straw that stands on display in the town square throughout the Advent season. 

In most years, the Gävlebocken gets burned to the ground by vandals. But not this year.

It survived, thanks to vigilant volunteers and the idea of ringing the town square with a taxis.

They want to be Gavle Goats when they grow up
The Gävlebocken has his own blog where he makes fun of the right-wing jerks who run the town government. 

Speaking of which, the All-CCA Charlestown Town Council encourages you to attend this year’s Charlestown New Year’s Eve bonfire at 4:30 PM (on New Year’s Eve, Wednesday, of course) at Ninigret Park.

This year, the Council has mandated that five Democrats be tossed onto the fire, but as is their usual policy, they want the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee to draw up a list of which five it will be.

Speaking of New Year’s

For the best wrap-up of the events of 2014, don’t miss Dave Barry’s 2014 Year in Review in the Miami Herald. Click here.

Virginia Wooten Speaks

Every so often, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance brings their President Virginia Wooten forward to deliver an encyclical to the CCA Party faithful. Rarely seen or heard, Wooten’s words are to be savored much like the Oracle at Delphi. This year, she (or one of her elves) penned a Holiday Message to Charlestown which ran in the Westerly Sun.

In it, Wooten declares Charlestown to be the best place in Rhode Island and tells the faithful that “the newly elected Charlestown Town Council members and planning commissioners will strive to achieve the type of government that the citizens of our town expect and deserve.”

That's pretty much what Alexis de Tocqueville supposedly said with an irony not evident in Ms. Wooten's letter to the editor, when he said, "In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve." Some say the quote is misattributed and credit instead Joseph de Maistre who's 1811 line read, "every nation gets the government it deserves." 



Charlestown swept up in class action lawsuit on public pensions

According to records released to me by the town, Charlestown is one of many targets of a class action lawsuit filed Rhode Island’s public employee unions against most of the state’s general officers and municipalities for cutting pension benefits guaranteed under collective bargaining agreements through MERS (Municipal Employees Retirement System). 

Click here to read the lawsuit.

The Charlestown piece of the lawsuit is brought by Laborers Union Local 808 (see paragraph 60). Charlestown is being sued as “an interested party” (see paragraph 81).

The lawsuit is 45 pages long. Charlestown’s answer, written by Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero, is only seven pages long. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that, in summary, the town’s response is words to the effect of “what the hell are you talking about?” Seriously. Click here to read for yourself.

Big discount for waterfront property owners
Good news for all these folks
The Westerly Sun picked up on a major piece of news I gleaned from Charlestown Town Administrator Mark Stankiewicz’s report to the emptitious Town Council. I ran the item in this edition of Charlestown Tapas. The news is that Charlestown has qualified for the FEMA Community Rating System (CRS) which measures the extent to which municipalities prepare for natural disasters, especially floods.

Thanks to hard work and study by town Building official Joe Warner, Charlestown not only qualified, but received the best rating – a seven – of any municipality in Rhode Island. The practical result of this achievement is a likely 15% discount on flood insurance. The Sun story notes that these discounts are NOT automatic

Insurance carriers know about it, but it will be up to policy holders to request the discount be applied. Warner guesses that these discounts will be available starting in May 2015.

Get your damned flu shot!

Yes, I know. The flu virus mutated this year and the vaccine is much less effective than previous years’ versions. Nonetheless, with flu now starting to spike, getting vaccinated now is still a good idea. While our rates are not as bad as some other parts of the country – yet – commonsense precautions should be applied.

Rhode Island has already had one fatality.

Because of the mutated flu strain, you should do more to protect yourself and your family than just getting a flu shot. Click here for practical tips.

As if the flu (and Lyme Disease) wasn’t enough

90s Horror 90s Movie animated GIFThere’s yet another tick-borne disease to watch out for called “Bourbon Virus.” It’s not named after whisky, but after Bourbon County, Kansas where a man was diagnosed with this newly-found virus. He died despite 10 days of intensive hospital care.

Bourbon Virus is in the same family of viruses that includes flu. The dead guy in Kansas is the only known case so far so the CDC doesn’t know whether it exists elsewhere. There is no vaccine and no known treatment as yet.

The CDC offers the general advice it gives about ticks in general, which is take steps to avoid getting bit.

Here in Charlestown, the best way to do that is to never go outside, especially into the woods. Our local ticks are active all year long – I picked a couple off me after doing some yard work just after Christmas. Since avoiding the outdoors is impractical for many of us, use DEET repellant and make sure you check yourself.

Jobs in our area

Looking for work? Check out RI Community Jobs for non-profit and public service jobs. A free service of Brown University’s Swearer Center, they send out a daily e-mail listing new postings. Click here to sign up.

The Ocean Community YMCA has various part time positions available with different skill sets, days, hours. Click here for the list, details and how to apply.