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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Texas takes two major steps toward seceding from the US

Maybe this time we should just let them go...
...And take South Carolina with them. 
By Will Collette

While we may think we live in our own little world here in Charlestown and Rhode Island, it's important to pay attention to what happens elsewhere. I am especially concerned with Texas because they seem to set the trends for what happens at the far-right end of the political spectrum. And lately, Texas has taken a couple of major leaps into the deep end.

I’m sure for many Texas politicians, this is just a media stunt, but to a growing number of Texans, it seems they’re OK with their government setting a course toward Texas breaking off from the rest of the United States. A new “Republic of Texas” as it was in the early 1800’s Alamo days. Maybe even a new Confederacy.

Two significant new laws were passed by the Texas legislature that could set up a major Constitutional crisis.

One is House Bill 483 that establishes a new Texas gold repository and the beginnings of a new Texas currency in direct violation of the US Constitution.

The second is an $800 million appropriation to expand an already existing Texas military. In addition to a Texas National Guard, there already exists a Texas State Guard. Click here to read the Associated Press story.


VIDEO: this is why the internet was invented

Thanks to Dave Barry for bringing this to our attention:



To view this video - if you dare - directly on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wylMuDIvMI&feature=youtu.be

So far, so good

First round of testing of mosquitos negative for summer bug-borne diseases

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management announces test results from the first mosquitoes trapped this season. 

All of the 64 mosquito pools collected by DEM staff from 20 traps set statewide on June 15 have been confirmed negative for both West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). 

Test results are pending at the RI Department of Health (HEALTH) Laboratory for 134 mosquito pools collected from 23 traps set on June 22.

DEM will normally report mosquito test results once a week on a routine basis from late June through September, with additional reports as necessary. Positive mosquito test results will generally trigger additional trapping to assess risk.

With WNV and EEE established throughout the state, DEM and HEALTH are reminding Rhode Islanders that personal protection is the first line of defense against mosquito-borne diseases. 

Residents should, as part of their normal seasonal routine, protect themselves from exposure to West Nile Virus and EEE by avoiding mosquito bites and eliminating mosquito breeding grounds.


Climate change is already taking its toll on people

Human Health Risks associated with Climate Change
From: Michigan State University
From heat waves to damaged crops to asthma in children, climate change is a major public health concern, argues a Michigan State University researcher in a new study.

Climate change is about more than melting ice caps and images of the Earth on fire, said Sean Valles, assistant professor in Lyman Briggs College and the Department of Philosophy, who believes bioethicists could help reframe current climate change discourse.

“When we talk about climate change, we can’t just be talking about money and jobs and polar bears,” he said. “Why do we focus on polar bears? Why not kids? Climate change isn’t just people hurting polar bears. It’s people hurting people.”

The public has become fairly apathetic to climate change, he said. But moving away from “save the environment” messaging could help people focus on the serious health risks of climate change, even if they’re skeptical.

A prime example: antibiotic resistance.



Bad medicine

It’s long been known that hospitals overcharge uninsured patients. That practice was made illegal under the Affordable Care Act but many hospitals seem to have not gotten that memo.

It seems that the hospital industry is a lot like the hotel and airline industries in that there is a set price (called the rack rate in hotel parlance and charge master in hospitals) but the vast majority of customers, except for very busy times, get discounts from that rate.

Since Medicare typically only pays a fraction of what a hospital charges, so hospitals try to make it up in other places. Insurance companies have negotiating power so they pay the second lowest rates and uninsured individuals, well, they’re basically screwed because they have no negotiating power.

The Affordable Care Act has a provision that requires that individuals are charged no more than the “amounts generally billed” to patients with insurance. 

However, that only applies to non-profit hospitals and it doesn’t take effect till next year. A study released on Monday shows that many hospitals are still overcharging uninsured people. They’re way overcharging uninsured people – by about 10 times.



How Would Francis Invest?

Heed the pope’s call to tread more lightly upon the Earth by making your money fossil-free.

When Pope Francis unveiled his letter to the world about how we must stop trashing the planet, he nearly broke the Internet.

The pithy document included hundreds of zingers, including this line: “Whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market.”

In one sense, Francis is telling investors to stop worshiping money and start paying attention to how their actions can hurt the common good. In another, it’s Pope to Wall Street: Drop Dead.

So far, no widespread soul-searching is visibly underway among the pinstriped set.



Monday, June 29, 2015

Flipper's Flop: Blake Filippi's final legislative report card

Lotsa bills, but lotsa nothing at the end
By Will Collette
When it comes to bovine excrement, Flip is our guy!
Blake “Flip” Filippi (Tea Party-Libertarian-Republican who lives in Providence or Lincoln or maybe Block Island) made a lot of promises when he ran for House District 36 and won it in an upset over Rep. Donna Walsh (D). 

In his first week, he was going to introduce legislation to resolve the Copar Quarry nightmare, cut taxes for the elderly, lift the yoke of state tyranny off the shoulders of Charlestown’s CCA-controlled Town Council and end corruption in the state.

Of course, that didn’t happen and we had to wait a while before Flip rolled out his bills. In the meantime, Filippi signed on as a co-sponsor to lots of other legislators’ bills. The first bill he co-sponsored was a RI Builders Association bill that the Charlestown Citizens Alliance hated so much that they had their puppets on the Council pass a resolution in April opposing it.

Finally, Filippi got around to introducing his own bills. The first, five weeks after the General Assembly opened, was a CCA bill (House Bill No. 5321) that would exempt Charlestown, and only Charlestown, from having to deal with comprehensive permit applications while it was busy re-writing the town’s comprehensive plan.

That, like nearly every one of the 29 bills that Filippi sponsored, ended up “held for further study” at the end of the session, meaning it died.

His second bill, House Bill No. 5339, also introduced for Charlestown, sought to put the state Water Resources Board (WRB) under veto from municipalities when the WRB tries to acquire open space to protect water resources. This bill stems from the feud between Charlestown Planning Commissar Ruth Platner and Frank Glista over property recently bought by the WRB. “Held for further study.” Sorry, Ruthie.

Flipper’s bill (House Bill 5352) to abolish state saltwater fishing licenses – roundly condemned by every fishermen's organization in the state – and subject of a bizarre hearing, also died being “held for further study.”

Flipper was not able to deliver for the beleaguered Copar quarry neighbors. House Bill No. 5676 to give Charlestown the power (which it actually already has) to regulate quarries died while being “held for further study.” So was House Bill No. 5740, which would have directed DEM to write regulations to cover operating quarries, but which ignored the need to reclaim mines when they close.

Even though the CCA Party gave Filippi credit for it – falsely – the only quarry-related bill that passed was the House bill by Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy (D) and companion Senate bill by Sen. Dennis Algiere (R) that directs DEM to write regulations on dust piles. Just dust piles. Nothing else. 

And that will take DEM at least a year to finalize the regs (more likely two) and they have no inspectors to enforce it.


Secrets of Chemistry


Kitty of the week

Meet Audrey!
From Animal Rescue Rhode Island 

Hi there, my name is Audrey.  I'm a very sweet and cuddly young lady who loves being around people. 

I get very excited when it is mealtime and it makes me enjoy companionship even more.

I thoroughly enjoy each chance I get to be out of my cage so that I can wander around and explore my new temporary home. 

Rest assured, I am ready for my permanent forever home where I can share my meals with you, chat about our day and perhaps read a book with you come evening. 


Alert the Charlestown Militia to defend our borders against attack by alien firewood

Campers and Vacationers Advised to use only Local Firewood
Sounds like a job for Deputy Dan!
PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management is responsible for the early detection and surveillance of exotic invasive insect pests and preventing the establishment of these pests into the state. 

The Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB), an invasive insect, has been detected in Massachusetts since 2008 and caused millions of dollars of damage and loss of trees within the natural environment. Recently another exotic invasive, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), was detected in both Massachusetts and Connecticut.

In Rhode Island, DEM has been monitoring the environment for both EAB and ALB for the past several years, and to date, none have been found. The EAB infests all species of ash trees, while ALB infests a wide variety of hardwood tree species including maple, birch, elm, willow and ash, and could include other species.


Taking Our Sweet Crude Time

World leaders are resolving to stop cooking the planet after they’re dead.
Nature Ted animated GIFAfter a quarter-century of buzz over global warming, the climate talkers are at it again, doing whatever it is they do. Visitors to the next big climate change summit, in an act of glorious irony, will pack Paris-bound jets flown by Air France — one of the meeting’s big corporate sponsors with deep ties to fossil fuels.

The UN-organized meeting won’t take place until December, but Pope Francis is already doing his best to make sure global powers give it plenty of bandwidth.

Days before a conservative Italian newspaper leaked the Pope’s game-changing encyclical, the leaders of the seven richest industrial nations (G7) were already talking about the need for “deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions” and “a decarbonization of the global economy over the course of this century.”

Translation: The G7 leaders want expiration-date stickers slapped on the oil, gas, and coal industries.



Robin Hood in Reverse

The gap between the rich and the rest is growing partly because we keep electing politicians who promise nothing less.
One of the biggest questions of the day is: Why do the rich keep getting richer and the middle class keep getting poorer?

This also ranks as the dumbest question of the day, week, month, or year. To anyone who’s been paying attention, it’s obvious why economic inequality in our land is growing:

That’s what we asked for.

For at least 35 years, since the reign of King Ronald the Reagan, our democratic society has waged relentless economic war on the middle class and the poor, giving their share of the pie to the rich and the well-to-do.

It didn’t happen in secret. The Republican Party is built on the reverse Robin Hood principle of taking from the less affluent so the rich can have what they think they need — a word that not coincidentally rhymes with “greed.”



Sunday, June 28, 2015

How to pay less taxes, Part 4:

Farms, Forest and Open Space
By Will Collette

Part 1: Overview and waiver of interest on late payments

Part 2: Appealing your assessment


Charlestown does love its open space and we have lots of it. At least 50% of Charlestown land receives very favorable property tax treatment - sometimes no tax at all - through an open space zoning designation, a conservation easement or through participation in the Farm, Forest and Open Space program (FFOS). 

And it's not just public lands owned by the federal, state or town government or lands owned by non-profits that can be treated very favorably when it comes to Charlestown property tax. Private individuals can qualify for huge tax savings through FFOS and conservation easements as many of the leaders and supporters of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA Party) do. 



Oh, the horror!


Sosnowski legislation naming state insect heads to governor’s desk

Bill honoring the American burying beetle was lobbied for by third graders

STATE HOUSE – Legislation designating the American burying beetle Rhode Island’s official state insect — a bill initiated by third graders at St. Michael’s Country Day School in Newport — has passed the General Assembly and is now headed to the governor.

Rep. Lauren Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) and Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) introduced the legislation (2015-H 6093, 2015-S 448) at the request of the students who discovered earlier this year that Rhode Island is one of only four states without a state insect.

They suggested the American burying beetle, which was once found in many eastern states but now exists only on Block Island and in five states west of the Mississippi River, as a means of bringing some attention to the endangered species’ plight.


VIDEO: Watch them grow and learn



To watch this directly on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niLxhiywXqw

A very different kind of Pope

Pope Francis Blasts Weapons Manufacturers And Investors Calling Them Hypocrites

Pope Francis told a crowd that anyone who manufactures weapons or invests in weapons industries is a hypocrite for advocating peace while manufacturing and selling arms.

The Pope issued the condemnation, his toughest to date, while speaking before a group of thousands of young people in the Italian city of Turin on Sunday.

Setting aside his prepared speech, the Pope discussed war, trust and politics – telling the young audience:
If you trust only men you have lost, it makes me think of … people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit a distrust, doesn’t it?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

VIDEO: Ten Ideas to fix the economy, #9.

MAKE POLLUTERS PAY US


To see this video directly on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lBWNuZCefU


Instead of investing in dirty fuels, let’s start charging polluters for poisoning our skies – and then invest the revenue so that it benefits everyone.

Each ton of carbon that’s released into the atmosphere costs our nation between $40 and $100, and we release millions tons of it every year. 

Businesses don’t pay that cost. They pass it along to the rest of us—in the form of more extreme weather and all the costs to our economy and health resulting from it. 


It's also history

Mike Luckovich
For more cartoons by Mike Luckovich, CLICK HERE.

Thank you for this, Pope Francis

Climate-change impacts heightened by our love of the coast

By FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — Sun, surf and scenic views have long attracted crowds. But this decades-long march of people and accompanying infrastructure to the coast has come at a cost. A changing climate and rising seas are now charging interest.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm sure they'll figure out some way to pass the costs on to the rest of us (Google Earth image)
“Watersheds have been dramatically changed by coastal-zone development and a greater human presence,” said Geoffrey Scott, chair of the University of South Carolina’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences. “Coastal zones are places of profound change. There is pollution, and human-health impacts.”

Scott was one of five guest speakers who participated in the Metcalf Institute’s Annual Public Lecture Series, held the week of June 8 at the University of Rhode Island. He began his lecture by noting that 55 percent of the planet’s population lives in a coastal zone and 33 of the world’s 50 largest cities can be found on the coast.

That’s a lot of building pressure on fragile coastal areas.



VIDEO: Why we need to consider Medicare for all

WHY MEDICARE ISN’T THE PROBEM; IT’S THE SOLUTION
By Robert Reich


To see this directly from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdEPeLUZAXY

Again and again the upcoming election you’ll hear conservatives claim that Medicare - the health insurance program for America’s seniors - is running out of money and must be pared back.

Baloney. Medicare isn’t the problem. In fact, Medicare is more efficient than private health insurance. The real problem is that the costs of health care are expected to rise steeply. 

Medicare could be the solution – the logical next step after the Affordable Care Act toward a single-payer system. 



Not-So-Special Delivery

There’s no reason to cut even more "service" out of our postal service.
When a big-name retailer finds its sales in a slow downward spiral, the geniuses in the executive suite often try to keep their profits up by cheapening their product and delivering less to customers.

To see how well this strategy works, look no further than the declining sales at Wal-Mart and McDonald’s. When the geniuses in charge of these behemoths applied the cut-back strategy, their slow decline turned into a perilous nosedive.

You’d think their experience would keep other executives from making the same mistake. But here comes an even bigger — and much more important — retail behemoth saying in effect, we have to cut to survive.



Friday, June 26, 2015

Change comes for the whole country,and even in Central Falls

This never would've happened if Chuck Moreau was still Mayor. Or Tom Lazieh.
Text and photos by Lin Collette, Progressive Charlestown contributor


Well, it’s hard to say for sure since we can neither read nor change the past. The disgraced former Mayor of Central Falls, who pled guilty to corruption charges in 2012, and one of the key factors in Central Falls declaring bankruptcy in 2011, might be in favor of having the rainbow flag fly over city hall.

But few residents really care what he thinks these days. The same is true for former Mayor Lazieh, who also “helped” the city along on its path to bankruptcy back in the 1990s, and who has tried to return to the post only to be defeated by James Diossa in 2012, and to the City Council in 2014 – again, defeated by voters presumably unwilling to make the same mistakes made in the past. 

What does matter is that three years into his administration Diossa is continuing to bring his home town into the 21st century by celebrating Central Falls' diversity across the board. And that includes recognizing the place that Central Falls' gay residents have in this city that still defiantly calls itself “the city with a bright future.”  


VIDEO: Lewis Black schools tools on the confederate flag



To watch this directly on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nv0MNjbK8Hk

Learning experience for high schoolers

Do you have a high school student interested in Ocean Conservation?

Held in conjunction with the 2015 National Marine Educators Association's annual conference, this one day Youth Ocean Conservation Summit (YOCS) will offer youth the opportunity to become engaged in ocean conservation. YOCS summits are designed to actively engage those who seek to learn more about the factors affecting marine ecosystems but more importantly, a chance to network and collaborate with like-minded young adults to create solution-based action plans to address these problems.  Registration cost includes summit workshops, lunch and a hands-on coastline field trip. 

When: Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 9:00am-4:00pm
Where: Newport Marriot Hotel and Conference Center, Newport, RI
Cost: $40



Member BOTO footer 4-11

Guess who is a major contender for the GOP Presidential nomination


Apparently, the Republican field is so poor right now that even the Dark Lord himself is beating out most of the candidates. In a recent poll, people were asked about the favorability of various candidates for president. And, to add some flavor, a few fictional characters were included.

With the exception of Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Scott Walker, every single GOP candidate came behind, of all people, Lord Voldemort, the primary villain from the Harry Potter series of books. 



DEM re-opens East Beach- Ninigret Conservation Area

But be careful of plovers
PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management announces that as of 9:00 a.m. Friday, June 26, the East Beach Sand Trail will be open for public access from the beginning of the sand trail up to camping area 1. This will allow for camping at 10 sites in camping area 1 (sites 1 - 10) and provide public access to the sand trail for fishermen and those using the 4 x 4 barrier beach.

Camping area 2 will remain closed through approximately July 31 to provide protection for the piping plover, a small shorebird that is listed as threatened on the federal and state endangered species lists. Reserve America, which handles campground reservations for DEM, will be contacting affected campers.

All alternatives to avoid a full closure of the sand trail were reviewed and discussed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and DEM staff, and the decision was made to allow access to a safe point and avoid further conflicts between wildlife and off-road vehicles.

Hurricane Sandy changed the face of the Rhode Island coastline and beaches for the public as well as for piping plovers.


Major set-back for CCA’s statewide agenda

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

PROVIDENCE — The General Assembly recently passed legislation (2015-H 5962 / 2015-S 0737A) that shifts oversight of construction near wetlands, such as ponds and streams, from cities and towns to the state. Although environmental groups had resisted the concept for years, they now are mostly on board with the new law.

“It is good for the environment and good for the business community,” Jonathan Stone, executive director of Save The Bay, said after the legislation was approved by the House and Senate.

Opponents of the concept initially argued that a one-size-fits-all approach weakens long-established wetland buffer zones and setbacks in communities such as Charlestown and Tiverton that have a high prevalence of well-water use and limited access to public sewer. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Charlestown fought this whole concept for years. It has been a no-compromise, drop-dead issue for Charlestown’s CCA Party. The passage of this legislation shows how much political clout the CCA Party has lost by helping to elect wing-nuts Rep. Flip Filippi and Sen. Elaine Morgan to the General Assembly. Filippi spoke against the bill on the floor of the House, not that it mattered to the outcome. But Flipper got his moment of attention.)


VIDEO: Tanzi-Sosnowski bill draws a lot of crappy commentary


Cesspools. For 45 minutes. That’s more time than was spent on pretty much any item in the budget, for what it’s worth.

Here’s all the best (or worst) parts in under five minutes.



To watch this directly on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDjkhM4_ovc

Editor's note: despite the stupidity displayed by such legislators as Rep. Joe Trillo (R), Justin Price's main competitor for stupidest legislator, the Senate and House versions of this bill, sponsored by South Kingstown Democrats Rep. Teresa Tanzi and Senator Sue Sosnowski, to phase-out cesspools all over Rhode Island passed. It goes to Gov. Raimondo who has indicated she will sign it.

Read on the the official news release.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Killer released, quarry bills pass, Weidman’s future, ticks, nukes (again) and lots more

Another steaming plate of Charlestown Tapas
By Will Collette
More more Mutts cartoons by Patrick McConnell, CLICK HERE
 Colin Foote’s killer released from prison

LauraReale, habitual traffic offender and drunk driving killer, has been released from prison after serving four years of an eight year sentence for killing Charlestown’s Colin Foote in 2010 when she ran the red light at West Beach and Route One and struck down Colin on his motorcycle.

Colin Foote was 27. His mother was in a car following right behind and saw her son get killed. She and Colin’s father formed ColinsLaw.org which worked closely with former state Rep. Donna Walsh (D) for stricter traffic safety laws.

The site of Colin’s death is now covered by a set of red light enforcement cameras. Those cameras, due to a variety of problems the town’s contractor can’t seem to handle are STILL not able to issue tickets to violators.

Pleasant Surprise, with an unsurprising twist

The science of yawning

Why Are Yawns Contagious?

It's getting harder to protect our fishing areas

New England’s ocean ecosystems and fishing fleets are facing unprecedented challenges. Greenhouse-gas emissions are making ocean waters warmer and more acidic. Combined with decades of intense fishery exploitation and habitat loss, this has led to big changes. (Eating with the Ecosystem)
New England’s ocean ecosystems and fishing fleets are facing unprecedented challenges. Greenhouse-gas emissions are making ocean waters warmer and more acidic. Combined with decades of intense fishery exploitation and habitat loss, this has led to big changes. (Eating with the Ecosystem)

By KEVIN PROFT/ecoRI News staff

NEWPORT, R.I. — Cashes Ledge, a pristine marine habitat in the Gulf of Maine, will maintain its protected status, but large swaths of other habitat in New England waters are one step closer to losing protection from various types of fishing gear.

The New England Fisheries Management Council (NEFMC) met last week in the City by the Sea to vote on its recommended approach to habitat protection in New England waters. The council’s recommendations will eventually be considered by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), which has the option to approve, disapprove or partially approve them.

Many of NEFMC’s decisions, including the decision to maintain protections for Cashes Ledge, were made at the council’s April 21-23 meeting in Mystic, Conn. At that meeting, a last-minute proposal concerning the protected areas on Georges Bank pushed some votes to the June meeting.

The lead up to the NEFMC’s April and June meetings had environmental organizations butting heads with the fishing industry. NEFMC’s Habitat Committee had recently recommended that the full council adopt a strategy that catered to fishing interests at the expense of habitat protection, despite the committee’s mission to enhance habitat protection, according to conservationists.


RI Community Food Bank holds 2015 Summer Food Drive June through August

Goal: 150,000 lbs
You can help! We are working to put food on the table for thousands of families this summer. Do your part by conducting a food drive in your neighborhood, business or organization. We'll provide the posters, collections bins and information packets. Thank you!

To donate funds, click here.

Summer is an especially hard time for families with children. In Rhode Island, 50,500 children are eligible to receive free or reduced-price school breakfasts and lunches. For many of these children, there is no meal program to replace those they would have received at school.

Well blow me down

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
PROVIDENCE — Thanks to new legislation that appears to be heading toward passage, at least a dozen wind-turbine projects, including rebuilding the Portsmouth High School turbine, can move ahead.

Passed by the House on June 18, H5131 defines when a utility company such as National Grid or a renewable-energy developer will have to pay for upgrades to wires, poles and other repairs to accommodate new renewable-energy projects. It also would prevent the utility from delaying that work and holding up applications and other paperwork.

“I’m back,” Mark DePasquale, owner of Wind Energy Development (WED) of North Kingstown, said after the 69-2 vote.

The bill must also go through the Senate, but DePasquale is confident that passage is assured and that he can continue to build 10 400-foot turbines in Coventry and advance plans for others around the state.




Supreme Court upholds Affordable Care Act

Obamacare dodges a major bullet from right-wing Republicans
Rep. Jim Langevin issues statement 
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI)  released the following statement in response to today’s Supreme Court decision affirming the ability of all Americans to receive premium tax credits under the Affordable Care Act:

“Today’s Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell is a victory for the millions of Americans who now have health insurance and access to quality health care thanks to the Affordable Care Act. 

"The ruling preserves benefits for more than 6 million people across the country, reaffirming our commitment to supporting middle-class and low-income families that rely on tax subsidies to afford the health insurance that can make the difference between life and death. 

"All Americans deserve access to health care, regardless of where they live.

Governor throws public schools under the bus

Malloy at the podium flanked by his former Education Secretary Stefan
Pryor, now Gina Raimondo's Commerce chief
Civil rights attorney Wendy Lecker writes here about the disastrous education policies of Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy. Although he is a Democrat, he gives first allegiance to the charter school industry, whose patrons are the powerful hedge fund managers in the state’s tony suburbs.

She writes that Malloy “slashed funding for social programs, gave no increase for public K-12 education, despite a pending lawsuit alleging that the state owes almost 2 billion dollars to its public schools, and threatened to veto the state budget unless the legislature agreed to fund two charter schools in communities that vehemently opposed them….”

Governor Malloy’s tenure has been characterized by denigrating teachers, vigorously opposing adequate funding of public schools and vastly increasing financial support for privately run charter schools which fail to serve the state’s neediest children, including English Language Learners and students with disabilities, have disturbingly harsh disciplinary policies, increase racial isolation, drain public money from needy public schools and have even been implicated in fraud and theft.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How to pay less taxes, Part 3: tax credits for the blind or disabled

There are legal ways for you to reduce your property taxes

By Will Collette


As our 2015 tax bills are being prepared for mailing very soon - at the brand-new rate of $10.11 per $1,000 in assessed property value, we're updating and re-running some earlier articles we ran on ways you can cut your property taxes. If you qualify for the ones discussed in this article, they would apply to your tax bill next year. But it's never to late to apply.

For the earlier articles on how to get a waiver if you fall behind on your taxes and how to appeal your property assessment, click on these links:

Part 1: Overview and waiver of interest on late payments

Part 2: Appealing your assessment


Charlestown offers a tax credit of $500 to full-time resident homeowners who are blind under the definition in the state statute and $575 to persons who are deemed 100% disabled by the Social Security Administration.


To apply for the tax credit for the blind, go to Town Hall with your doctor’s statement detailing the condition of your eyesight.


To apply for the tax credit for the 100% disabled, download the application form on-line or pick one up at Town Hall. Attach your eligibility determination letter from Social Security.


For either tax credit, you must be a permanent Charlestown resident and own the home to which the tax credit will be applied.


The language in the town’s ordinances on these two tax credits is reasonably clear, so I am including it below the fold.

VIDEO: Do we really want to teach robots this stuff?



To view this directly from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3XyDLbaUmU

Faking It While the World Burns

Words alone won’t hinder climate change.
Rex Tillerson, of all people, just did the climate movement a big favor.

He didn’t hand the Sierra Club tens of millions of dollars to fight the coal industry like former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg. Nor did the chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil follow former hedge fund investor Tom Steyer‘s lead by giving political candidates with climate cred campaign cash.

What did Tillerson, whom Forbes ranks among the world’s most powerful people, do? He disclosed his take on the proper role for big oil and gas companies regarding global warming, declaring: “We’re not going to fake it.”