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Saturday, April 2, 2011

More short takes

The Westerly Sun has finally run the story about Lisa DiBello's case against the town. It ran on Page 1 today but is behind the Sun's pay wall (no link). DiBello is charging Charlestown and ten present and former town officials with engaging in a conspiracy against her. See the details here.

The Charlestown Citizens Alliance has also fallen behind on local issues, only belatedly starting to cover the effects of Charlestown's property devaluation with its usual array of anonymous comments. As readers of this blog will recall, our taxbase shrunk by $400 million due to the real estate crash. Mid-range properties fell an average of 13-15% while $1+ million properties fell by an average of 19-22%. The tax rate will go up to compensate, to $8.74 per $1000 in valuation (and another 21 cents to meet budget increases). The result: middle-class Charlestown residents will bear the brunt of the tax increase, while the average non-resident millionaire will probably get a tax decrease. For example, CCA president Kallie Jurgens, who declares her residence to be Stuart Florida, will see her taxes fall by over $568. Maybe that's why it took CCA so long to acknowledge this issue, d'ya think?

The early CCA anonymous commenters are all over the opinion spectrum. One CCA commenter wants to go full Tea Party: "20% cut in the budget...freeze wages for the next four years, cut unnecessary town positions, freeze benefits, eliminate pensions, buy vehicles that get 40 mpg, police vehicles too and stop building buildings". Did Sarah Palin move into town?

Another one who lives in the CCA stronghold around East Beach Road is up in arms over some assessment increases in that area. Another one is upset because their house went down by $30,000 when their house is so special that their valuation should have gone up. OK, I say let's up this person's valuation by $100,000. I can't wait to see CCA's next e-bleat.

Our own Rep. Donna Walsh's work to promote ethical government was singled out by both the Prov Journal and GoLocalProv. Donna re-introduced legislation she has been trying to get passed for years to require that new magistrate judges be selected on merit. Her long toil for good government was recognized mainly because ethically challenged former Senate President Joe Montalbano was just confirmed to be a new magistrate.

Local Union-buster gets busted. The New London Day ran a piece on March 31 about Bradford Dye, now calling itself Bradford Printing and Finishing. According to the poorly done story, the well-meaning management of Bradford Printing is the victim of the textile workers union UNITE HERE which is forcing the company to recognize the union and bargain with it. Company chief Nick Griseto says his workers don't really want a union and that he may have to close the company because the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) supported the union's charges.

Poor Nick and poor Bradford Dye. Before you start weeping over some poor well-meaning business owner getting beat up by union thugs, here is the real story the Day glossed over. For over 30 years, the union represented those workers. After years of bad management brought the company to the brink of bankruptcy, the managers latched on to a great scheme to boost their profits. They closed the company in November 2008, throwing 115 workers out of their jobs.

Then, less than one month later, they re-opened under a slightly different name and juggled management, declaring they were a brand new company which would be hiring 50-75 new workers. The old workers were "allowed" to apply for their old jobs. Some did and some were re-hired. Now Bradford had a new, docile workforce consisting of 45 scared and desperate workers.

The union filed charges and the law was clearly on their side. The National Labor Relations Act does not permit an employer to break the union simply by shutting down and then re-opening as Bradford did. I don't know if Bradford will survive or, if so, for how long. I do know that their current CEO Nick Griseto was the VP for Sales and Marketing for the old management under Michael Grills - and the company nearly died for lack of sales and marketing. If they close, point the finger at Nick, not the union.

Author: Will Collette