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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Flip-flops

Big week coming for candidate declarations
By Will Collette

Filippi searches for ideas for new media stunts
This is the week where we find out who will run for election and re-election for Charlestown municipal positions and for the one House seat and two state Senate districts that cover Charlestown as all candidates must file their declarations this week.

We’ve heard there may be a number of changes in the town roster. Charlestown has been so totally dominated by the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA Party) that all important decisions have already been made in secret, and official town meetings are just a formality. That sucks the life out wanting to run, either on the CCA Party ticket or in opposition.

The likely lackluster municipal races will probably be overshadowed by livelier battles for General Assembly seats.


We know that two outstanding legislators, former Rep. Larry Valencia and former state Senator Cathie Cool Rumsey, are planning strong campaigns to take back their seats from the far-right Tea Partiers who ousted them in 2014’s Revenge of the Swamp Yankees.

We also know that Charlestown’s one state Representative, our media whiz-kid Blake “Flip” Filippi, intends to run for re-election to represent District 36.

From the Charlestown Tax Assessor database
The big drama, I think, is seeing what town Flip gives as his home address and whether it is in the 36th District. As we reported, Flip just bought a house in Charlestown which is listed on our tax assessor’s database as owner occupied.

Flip gave the Ethics Commission a post office box number on Block Island where he has been registered to vote at one of his mother’s properties. 

He has also listed the family’s estate and cow farm in Lincoln as his residence on a broad variety of official documents. CLICK HERE to see those documents and CLICK HERE to see how Filippi accidentally provided proof that dispute his claim of being a life-long South County resident.

From Filippi's Ethics Commission filing this year.
Last year, Filippi also gave it as 912 Champlin Road
on Block Island
Finally, Filippi told Rhode Island’s Future editor Bob Plain that he was actually lives in an apartment in Providence that is more convenient to his Providence law office and the State House.

In his first term as a state representative, the singular talent Filippi has displayed is an uncanny ability to come up with positions guaranteed to get him lots of media attention, such as his stunt to pull Rhode Island out of Eastern time zone and put us into the Atlantic time zone along with Canada’s maritime provinces because Filippi thinks day-light savings time is a problem.

Then there was the stunt where he and his political mentor, Rep. Patricia Morgan, held a news event to decry “fraud at the Department of Labor and Training.” But the substance of their claim was that an auditor brought in by the Department had found a security flaw that might have led to fraud, except the flaw was detected. 

Like lapdogs, the media reported the wild claim by Flip and Morgan, but not that NO actual fraud had occurred, or that the problem had actually been detected by DLT’s own initiative!

Here’s another: if you think government and the courts aren’t hopelessly jammed, Flip Filippi would have the state adopt yet another Constitutional amendment that would give each citizen the right to sue the state if that citizen thought the state was spending money unlawfully. This is every wingnut’s dream!

Can you just imagine how many lawsuits would be filed just in the first week if such a hare-brained scheme were adopted? Of course, there’s nothing to fear because this, like just about everything else Flip does was simply a media stunt.

Like most of Flip’s schemes, these stunts got Flip what he really wanted - lots of coverage - but produced absolutely no results. Filippi is our own South County-scale version of Donald Trump.

Filippi is actually quite in demand for his ability to come up with media stunts. In fact, he did training for his fellow Republicans (yeah, he claims to be independent but caucuses Republican, donates to Republicans and was a registered Republican) on how to come up with media “talking points!” (Click here and scroll down to item #8). 

As you can see here, the Republicans treat him as one of their own.

But let’s take a look at his actual official announcement of his candidacy and give it a dose of fact-checking.

Here it is:

Block Island, R.I. – Independent (really?) State Representative Blake A. Filippi has announced that he will seek re-election to the District 36 seat serving Block Island, Charlestown, South Kingstown and Westerly. Now if only he actually lives in the district….

Filippi, an attorney, farmer and business-owner, currently serves on the Committee on Judiciary, the Committee on Municipal Government, the Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources, and as Vice-Chair of the House Commission to Study Methods for Growing Tourism.

COMMENT: Wow, just wow, that Filippi can be a practicing lawyer in Providence, a cattle rancher in Lincoln, a hotel/restaurant and real estate tycoon on Block Island and a legislator on a bunch of committees and get all of that done without tapping into a 55-gallon drum of methamphetamine.

On top of all that, he and his brother have plenty of time to fight with his Block Island neighbors for licenses for late-night outdoor entertainment at their hotels.

How does he do it?

Here's the list of Filippi sources of income, real estate and businesses that Flip reported to the RI Ethics Commission:
Note that the above sworn statement does not include any income from the following:


Filippi declared that he “wants to continue to advocate for South County values: an honest and strong business climate that rewards hard work and not insider dealings, lean and clean government, environmental preservation, local control of planning, and the protection of individual liberty.”

COMMENT: South County values? How about how Flip decided that the state salt-water fishing license was unconstitutional and sought to repeal it even though every fisherman in South County told him they LIKE the state permits (cheaper than the federal ones) and did NOT want him to try to repeal it. Flip said he was doing it to preserve the state Constitutional guarantee to use of the beach.

However he and his brother flagrantly blocked a long-used public path to the beach next to one of their Block Island hotels.

As for the protection of “personal liberty,” Filippi’s activities include representing armed vigilantes like the Oath Keepers and opposing the state’s program to prevent cervical and other cancers though HPV vaccination. But he did show up in Charlestown to wear a pink t-shirt for breast cancer awareness.

Said Filippi of this term’s highlights: “I advocated for the successful passage and placement on the ballot of the proposed Constitutional Amendment to reassert full Ethics Commission oversight of the General Assembly.

EXCEPT Filippi actually had NOTHING to do with its passage. It was Sen. James Sheehan who was the acknowledged leader. Filippi’s legislative record is practically devoid of actual achievement unless you count the several bills he got enacted that allowed a non-clergy person to officiate at certain weddings.

We also helped to protect our Westerly and Charlestown neighbors by advancing landmark legislation to empower DEM to control fugitive dust from Copar Quarry.

Who’s the “we”? Filippi’s bills failed so he took credit for the bills that were actually sponsored and passed by Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy and Sen. Dennis Algiere. Filippi’s main “contribution” to the Copar fight was to convince some of the Copar victims to hire him as their lawyer to wage yet another fruitless court battle.

Tax reductions for our seniors were realized in the last two budgets.

And again, Filippi is taking credit for other legislators’ work. It was Rep. Bob Craven who won substantial reductions in state income tax for the elderly.

I was a lead opposition voice to the RhodeWorks tolling proposal and developed an alternative funding stream to fix our bridges with tax dollars already in the budget. I stood for reduced costs to small business and the elimination of the hated car tax.

No, Flip was not the leader of the failed opposition except to show up at Republican Caucus news conferences.

His big “opposition” move was to introduce a Constitutional Amendment to ban car tolls that was nothing more than a publicity stunt. If Filippi really cared, he would want to protect people's right to travel from one end of Rhode Island to the other on safe roads and bridges?

I fought the abuse-ridden legislative grant program…

Filippi wanted to show his true colors at Charlestown's
Memorial Day Parade.
And in the process, caused mischief for the time-honored Charlestown Memorial Day Parade, but not for a pet project of Filippi’s pal Charlestown Town Council Boss Tom Gentz for whom Filippi had no problem getting a legislative grant. Classic media stunt.

….and helped expose CommerceRI’s failed “Cooler and Warmer” campaign

What, exactly did Flip do, other than show up for the cameras at Rep. Pat Morgan’s news events? Well, maybe that's what he means by "helped." 

We passed a critical bill to protect our privacy by requiring law enforcement obtain a warrant before accessing our cell phone location data -- with emergency exceptions.

Again, who is the “we?”

I also protected municipal sovereignty and opposed the onslaught of bills to undermine local self-governance in zoning and planning matters.”

He is referring to this year’s “Builder’s Bill” which passed. He has been credited by the CCA for voting no. But last year, the first bill Filippi co-sponsored as a newbie legislator was another “Builder’s Bill” but on that subject, the CCA remained silent.

“I have always been just a cell phone call away – and hope to continue working on behalf of our House District 36 for another two years,” said Filippi in closing. 

Yeah, he’s a regular Marvel superhero. Except it’s really not a cell phone that lures him, but rather a TV camera, microphone or reporter’s note pad, as Flip works on behalf of burnishing his credentials as a politician in search of some higher office by stealing credit for someone else's work.