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Friday, August 31, 2012

They have rights, too

Just like corporations and right-wing oligarchs
By Jen Sorenson

Click here for the whole cartoon

Irene damage still around one year later

By TIM FAULKNER/ News staff
There’s no shortage of stats associated with last summer's tropical storm Irene. Some points are worth noting, however, especially when comparing the damage inflicted on two New England states.

Rhode Island
• Top wind gusts: 83 mph.
• Rainfall: 5.3 inches.
Trees suffered the brunt of the storm. It was hard to tally the exact damage. An estimated 14 percent of the trees in Warwick were uprooted or harmed. 

Accountability needed for corporate tax welfare

New report highlights necessity of tax expenditure evaluation, Tanzi says
by the Legislative Press and Public Information Bureau

STATE HOUSE – More than $1.73 billion of state revenue was given up through tax expenditures in 2009, according to the 2012 Tax Expenditures Report published recently by the Office of Revenue Analysis, all without regular review to determine the state’s benefit, said Rep. Teresa Tanzi.

“Tax expenditures are just another way the state spends money,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, Narragansett, Wakefield and Peace Dale), who has introduced legislation that would help lawmakers begin to evaluate the effectiveness of tax expenditures. “Every year state legislators are asked to approve a budget that outlines how the state will spend its limited resources, but no one is looking at the nearly $2 billion we are foregoing annually in tax expenditures.”

Yet another bad air day on Friday

DEM puts out the alert for unhealthy ozone levels in South County
DEM News release

 The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is predicting that air quality will reach unhealthy levels in Rhode Island especially in central and southern sections in the afternoon on Friday.

A very humid air mass with southwest winds will be present at that time, which will lead to unhealthy air conditions. The poor air quality will be due to elevated ground level ozone concentrations.

All RIPTA routes, excluding special services, will be free on Friday, August 31, 2012[1].

What’s next for Whalerock?

Is it alive? Dead? Undead?
By Will Collette

At the August 20 Town Council meeting, the young lawyers filling in for absent Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero confirmed my initial report that state District Court Judge Judith Savage’s recent court ruling dumped the Whalerock wind turbine project back in Charlestown’s lap. Read the decision here.

All four Whalerock-related lawsuits, which had been lumped together into one case, were rejected by the court, each for a different reason.

But now the spin-doctoring begins on the meaning and story behind these lawsuits, as well as what comes next.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Having that great conversation"

Man Talking Time
By Matt Bors

For the whole cartoon, click here.

"Eat food you grow," part 5

Crabmeat and pattypan squash in cream sauce
served over linguini garnished with Old Bay Seasoning
(recipe after the jump).

A locavore recipe collection, inspired by the CCA Steering Committee

Part 1: The Pasta-sauce Variations
Part 2: The Salad Variations (newly updated!)
Part 3: The Quahog Variations
Part 4: The Tomatillo Variations 
Part 5: The Zucchini Variations

By Linda Felaco

The gall of Don Carcieri

By Bob Plain in

It should come as no surprise to see former Governor Don Carcieri, the architect of the 38 Studios fiasco, yucking it up at the Republican Convention even though he has yet to answer questions about his role in state’s biggest economic blunder in a generation.

After all, Carcieri always represented conservatives first and then Rhode Islanders somewhere after that. We’re talking about a governor who gave more interviews to WPRO shock jocks than the rest of the local media combined!
But, like Scott MacKay of RIPR, we were surprised that Carcieri had the gall to be offering an economics lecture to President Obama. Here’s how MacKay put it:

A spoonful of sugar, plus some yeast

The spotted wing drosophila
By RUDI HEMPE/ News contributor
Times were when University of Rhode Island plant experts used to tell homeowners that the most carefree fruit to raise in their backyards were blueberries. Blueberries were easy to grow, had great health benefits and required acidic soil, light pruning, sunlight and little else. Best of all, blueberries required no spraying, unlike other fruits, and the only pests that affected them were birds looking for breakfast.

But those days are gone.
A new pest has arrived in the Northeast and it’s posing a threat to both backyard fruit growers and commercial ones. The pest is called the spotted wing drosophila, a fruit fly, which has the nasty habit of laying its eggs in ripening small fruit such as blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. The larvae feed on the fruit and, in the case of raspberries, turn them into mush.

I woke up today to an automated phone call from the school superintendent telling me that the first day of school in North Kingstown has been delayed by a strike.

The Educational Support Personnel (ESP) union has walked out over the School Committee’s action to outsource the jobs of all 26 janitors, and so my daughter is home today instead.

As is usual, there is a welter of claims and counter-claims. The ESP union offered some pretty substantial concessions this spring. They say they met the dollar figure the School Committee had insisted was necessary.

Do parties matter, Part 2

“Vote the bums out” – the drone of the anti-incumbents

Rep. Jim Langevin
By Will Collette

Every election cycle, there is a loud background buzz calling for voters to vote out every incumbent. This is presented as the only logical way to solve our deep-rooted political divisions and governmental dysfunction. Whether it’s Tea Partiers or progressive candidates like Second Congressional District candidate Abel Collins, “vote the bums out” is used as an emotional pitch to disgruntled voters[1].

It’s also easier than actually campaigning on the issues, which is one reason why it is a common refrain for most dissidents. And it’s also a destructive and mindless way of participating in the electoral process.

If you look around the Charlestown political landscape, you will see a broad range of incumbent elected officials who are all different when it comes down to what they have actually accomplished while in office.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Alienating" voters

Space invaders
By Tom Tomorrow

Click here for the whole cartoon.

How to Safely Scale Down the Fiscal Cliff

A slow descent wouldn't be disastrous.
Pundits pounced earlier this year when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned that the country will face a "massive fiscal cliff" at the beginning of 2013. It seemed we had to extend the Bush tax cuts — or else.
Lost in these arguments is what Chairman Bernanke actually told the House Financial Services Committee on February 29. Zooming out from three words to 49 words reveals this:
"Under current law, on January 1, 2013, there's going to be a massive fiscal cliff of large spending cuts and tax increases. I hope that Congress will look at that and figure out ways to achieve the same long-run fiscal improvement without having it all happen at one date."
In other words, Chairman Bernanke spoke in favor of the status quo. The problem is the timing, not the policy. Nothing in Chairman Bernanke's remarks suggests we should make the Bush tax cuts permanent.

Spicy Peaches

Photos and text by KARA DiCAMILLO/ News contributor
For those of you that have been following my column, you know from last week how much I adore peaches. When I passed by them at the farmers market this past week, I once again had to buy them. After all, it won’t be long until they will be finished for the season.

Time for answers from DiBello, Part 1

DiBello: “I tell the truth” while Progressive Charlestown prints “outright lies and slanderous attacks”
By Will Collette

On June 25, Councilor Lisa DiBello used the Council dais to call me a liar and to announce her bid for re-election. She had no specifics nor did she offer any facts to refute my reporting on her actions as a town office. Indeed, DiBello says she has never read Progressive Charlestown, but had been told we (mostly me) were very bad.

On June 27, I responded to DiBello’s attacks against me by listing 20 questions in three categories that were drawn from my past coverage of her conduct as a town official and president of a Charlestown quasi-charity (or perhaps “pseudo” would be more appropriate).

More than two months have elapsed, and not a peep from DiBello in response to those questions, all of which were based on weeks of research and backed up by documentation.

So since DiBello won’t answer, it’s time to look at those questions in depth, and to examine some new research findings. DiBello wants your vote to continue to be a member of the Charlestown Town Council. Unless she can answer the questions, I believe she is unfit to serve on the Council now, never mind be reelected.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Living better as you age

From: Andy Soos,

There is a general desire to be healthy and happy in life. Succeeding at these tasks is quite daunting. Middle-aged adults help their hearts with regular leisure-time physical activities according to one new study.

The midlife well being of both men and women seems to depend on having a wide circle of friends whom they see regularly according to another study. Both are simple concepts and readily apparent but now supported by these studies.

Charlestown chooses from outside CPD for a new chief

Decision may prevent internal dissension
By Will Collette

Due to apparent glitches in the Clerkbase system – mainly failure to send a signal – your intrepid Progressive Charlestown team had to count on the Sun’s new reporter for Charlestown, David Pepin, for the news on who our new Chief of Police will be.

David’s article went live on the Sun’s website this morning and will appear in today’s print edition. Read his article by clicking here.

The Town Council announced its vote to hire Captain Jeffrey Allen of the South Kingstown Police to replace retired Chief Jack Shippee.

Volunteer to clean up after summer visitors

By News staff
In September, the beach crowds will begin to thin as the temperatures drops and school begins. But soon, another crowd will return — thousands of individuals, groups and families coming with work gloves and trash bags to participate in one of the largest global volunteer events: the International Coastal Cleanup.
This year’s international is being held Sept. 15, and the Audubon Society of Rhode Island is looking for volunteers.

DEM finds more infected mosquitoes, this time in Charlestown

Highlands J Virus found in Cross Mills
RI DEM news release

PROVIDENCE -- The Department of Environmental Management announces that test results from 111 mosquito pools, or samples, from 39 traps set statewide during the week of August 14 are negative for both West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. 

One mosquito pool, or sample, from a trap set in the Cross Mills area of Charlestown has been confirmed positive for Highlands J Virus. 


Take a look at some of the more oh-my-gosh police reports from around Rhode Island
· By Samantha Turner

Déjà Vu DUI Driver Skips Court Date
It was deja vu for one Warwick man this past weekend as he was hit with his second DUI charge in less than a week. The 44-year-old was arrested Aug. 19 by Rhode Island State Police after he crashed his car on Route 10 in Cranston. During his breath test, he allegedly blew a .222 – almost triple the legal limit. Just a week earlier, Fracassa had a similar encounter with North Kingstown officers when he was pulled over on Post Road.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Episode 8

Steering Committee Syndrome Unleashed, The Prelude  
By Robert Yarnall

Read the rest of the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot series:
Episode 1 – Getting Ready To Fish

Episode 2 – Watchaug Bites
Episode 3 – Avoiding Car Sickness
Episode 4 – Bait & Switch (Not!)
Episode 5 – Still Baiting, Still Switching…
Episode 6 – Mother Gooser & Friends
Episode 7 – Under the Radar with L-T
Episode 8 – Steering Committee Syndrome Unleashed, The Prelude
Episode 9 – Steering Committee Syndrome Unleashed, The Kiss
Episode 10 – Snagged on the Epilog Epic-Log

Out of respect for the timely release of the Dolock Decision, wherein Superior Court Associate Justice Judith C. Savage sent the ill-farted Whalerock wind farm proposal back to the compost heap of local government for a thorough destinkification, all fishing is hereby suspended until further notice, or Veterans’ Day, whichever occurs first. This is about as close to a deadline as I ever want to be. Don’t like it. Choppy water.

From last week’s episode of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, you may recall that the Illwind activist group, fronted by a core quintet conveniently dubbed  “The Partridge Family” because they live within a three-home cluster of not-so-affordable housing on Partridge Run, gave Joe Dolock’s business-based turbine-fighting strategy a politely dismissive “Thanks, but no thanks” seal of disapproval.

Remember, it wasn’t so much that the PF-er’s had dismissed Dolock’s comprehensive anthology of All Things Whalerock that bothered him. After all, Joe was a veteran of the cutthroat battles of Wall Street, not to mention the jungles of Southeast Asia. In either environment, the battle was as much about survival as victory.

What really galled Joe was that The Partridge Family knew damn well that he was actively running for Charlestown Town Council and that his candidacy was based on his professional assessment of the Whalerock Wind Energy project and its associated partnership deal with the town.

Simply stated, Joe felt betrayed that PF-ers had unilaterally donated his Whalerock expertise, a chronology compiled single-handedly over a six-month period, to his cross-town political rivals, the CCA-endorsed trio of Dan Slattery, Tom Gentz, and Cliff Vanover.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Astronomy Picture of the Day

The Cat's Eye Nebula 
From NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day

Three thousand light-years away, a dying star throws off shells of glowing gas. 

This image from the Hubble Space Telescope reveals the Cat's Eye Nebula to be one of the most complex planetary nebulae known. 

Off-shore wind farm moves another major step

From: Sean Teehan, Cape Cod Times in
Cape Wind cleared its last bureaucratic hurdle Wednesday when the Federal Aviation Administration released its finding that the project poses no hazard to planes.
The finding came after a court-mandated re-evaluation of possible safety hazards the 130-turbine project poses to planes and a GOP inquiry into whether the FAA's initial approval in 2010 was the result of political pressure from the left.

Millstone reactor powers up again

Sea water temperature drops enough to allow reactor re-start
By Will Collette

The Associated Press reports today that the Millstone nuclear power plant, just 20 miles due west of Charlestown, has re-started its Unit #2 reactor, which has been shut down since August 12.

The re-start took place on Saturday, according to a spokesperson for Millstone’s operator, Virginia-based Dominion Power.

Tainted "Witnesses"

Anthony Gemma isn’t wrong when he says voter fraud has occurred over the years in Rhode Island. In fact, some of the evidence he points to was actually perpetrated by people now acting as surrogates to his campaign.

First there is Maryelyn Alba-Acevedo. Following Gemma’s infamous press event on Wednesday, she was one of the Providence residents who came forward to corroborate his accusations.
She should know, having committed voter fraud herself, according to a 2008 Providence Journal article. Alba-Acevedo was running for a state Senate seat against Juan Pichardo that year, and he made a complaint to the Board of Elections about her absentee ballots.

Why drill for oil when you can grow it?

Bizarro Environmentalism, Part Deux

By Linda Felaco

As a lifelong environmentalist, when it came time to make my last vehicle purchase, I decided I was not going to buy another gasoline engine. But this was right around the time my husband and I were getting ready to return to Rhode Island, and a Prius just didn’t seem very practical in the snow, not to mention it lacked the towing capacity we were anticipating needing living out here in the boonies. 

Then I started reading about biodiesel[1] and realized a diesel engine might be a good interim purchase while the bugs were being worked out with hybrids and electrics (and until they became more affordable).

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Looks like fun

A preview of the Republican National Convention
By Jen Sorenson

For the whole cartoon, click here

Oh, Just Call Them Terrorists

Sooner or later, if citizens are going to support further wars and impingements on their own civil liberties, they need red meat.
Terror makes
A good excuse
For passing laws
That despots choose.

UPDATED: Will we get a new police chief soon?

Town Council schedules Executive Session on Monday
By Will Collette

Please click HERE to read about the Town Council's choice for the new Charlestown Police Chief.

UPDATE: On Monday, August 27 at 5:30, the Charlestown Town Council will meet in Executive Session. The only item on the agenda is "Discussion of Finalist Candidates and Potential Selection of Police Chief." 

After that, they may take a vote to hire a new town chief.

Angela Algier reports in the Westerly Sun that the search committee to find a replacement for retired Charlestown Police Chief Jack Shippee has now focused on five candidates.

Two are in-house, CPD’s two top officers, Acting Chief Michael Paliotta and Lt. Patrick McMahon, who also serves as chief of the Charlestown Ambulance and Rescue Service.

The three outside candidates are South Kingstown Police Capt. Jeffrey Allen, veteran State Trooper Richard Altimari and Middletown’s deputy chief Maj. Terry W. Hazel.

David Barton's Make-Believe Version of American History

Despite the fact that he has no academic training in history or related fields at all, Barton has become the go-to man for much of the religious far right.
David Barton
By Mark Potok
David Barton, a self-styled Christian historian who claims to debunk left-wing myths about America, is sure of it: If you studied the Founding Fathers like he has, you would know that "as far as they were concerned, they had already had the entire debate on creationism and evolution."
And the creationists, Barton says, won.
Just one little problem: Charles Darwin's On the Origin of the Species, the founding text of the theory of evolution, wasn't published until 1859. That's, oh, about three-quarters of a century after the founders were active.

Are public workers worth it?

You get what you pay for
By Will Collette

Conservatives hold it as an article of faith that public workers, especially unionized public workers, are ripping off taxpayers through undeserved high wages and pensions.

And high on the list of public workers to be vilified are police and firefighters. Personally, I don’t get it. How do you put a price on the work of men and women who run into burning buildings or go after armed bad guys or scrape accident victims off the road? How can you begrudge people who put their lives on the line for you or even think about reneging on the terms of employment that were promised them in return for their valor?

So far in 2012, 70 police officers have been killed in the line of duty, including Sgt. Maxwell Dorley of the Providence Police. Click here to see the list. At least 55 firefighters have been killed in the line of duty this year. Click here to read their names.

But ethics and morality aside, there’s a commonsense aspect to the debate.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A look at the actual manual

Campaign reporting for dummies
by Brian McFadden

Click here to see the whole cartoon.

Kitties are good

From: Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News 
News headlines over the past few years have linked cat ownership to everything from cancer to craziness, but new studies suggest that cats are actually beneficial to human health, and may even reduce our risk for cancer and other diseases.
Reports in this week's issue of Biology Letters, for example, counter the tabloid-suggested link between cats and human brain cancer.

"Eat food you grow," part 4

Steamed crabs from fish market in Galilee, zucchini and summer
squash sauteed in butter and garlic, corn from Carpenter's Farm,
tomato-tomatillo gazpacho with green peppers (recipe after
the jump), tomatillo salsa (recipe after the jump), and
red and yellow raspberries from Briarfield Farm.
Wine: Martini & Rossi Asti.
A locavore recipe collection, inspired by the CCA Steering Committee

Part 1: The Pasta-sauce Variations
Part 2: The Salad Variations
Part 3: The Quahog Variations
Part 4: The Tomatillo Variations

By Linda Felaco

When ocean and humans collide

Storm surge during the great Blizzard of '78
By KEVIN PROFT/ News staff
NARRAGANSETT — Rhode Island’s coastline is in a natural and constant state of flux. The coastline is altered most during big storms such as hurricanes and nor’easters. High waves wash away or damage dunes that protect land further inland. They also pound sea cliffs saturated and weakened by rain, causing sections to collapse. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Let a million contradictory positions bloom

The Million Mitt March
By Tim Eagan

Click here for the whole cartoon.

Voter Fraud Fraud

Despite the fact that we have absolutely no evidence beyond Anthony Gemma’s highly biased word that his charges against David Cicilline are in fact true, Mr. Gemma has been willingly embraced by the voter fraud advocates, who have long been looking for any kind of proof, no matter how suspect, that what they’re talking about really exists. They had a field day with Gemmapalooza.

And in true fashion, the delirious Travis Rowley has already declared “I told you so.”