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Monday, September 17, 2012

Batting order determined for Planning Commission candidates

Can’t tell the players without a scorecard
By Will Collette

Charlestown is the only town among the 39 cities and towns of Rhode Island that still elects its Planning Commission. State law requires planning boards to be appointed, to take the politics out of the process, but Charlestown insists it has the “grandfathered” right[1] to keep electing its Planning Commissioners.

While you can never reasonably expect to take the politics out of Planning, Charlestown is the only town that actively and deliberately makes its Planning Commission a totally political animal. And we have paid the price. But since this is the system we have, expect a lively contest for election to the Commission with the candidates arranged on the ballot in the following order:

  1. Jan V Knost (CCA-endorsed) 
  2. Melina Lodge (Democratic-endorsed) 
  3. Constance “Connie Baker” Vadnais-Baker (CCA-endorsed) 
  4. Peter D Herstein (CCA-endorsed) 
  5. Frank Glista (Democratic-endorsed) 
  6. Joseph S Dolock (independent) 
  7. Gordon L Foer (CCA incumbent) 
  8. Ruth L Platner (CCA incumbent) 
  9. Mike Breton (Democratic-endorsed) 
  10. Brandon Cleary (Democratic-endorsed)

Frank Glista - endorsed Dem
There are five open seats this election cycle due to the mid-term resignation of KateWaterman (CCA), whose position was filled by alternate Jim Abbott (CCA). Abbott would have had to run for the full term in his own right, but he has chosen not to seek reelection.

Waterman moved out of Charlestown because she needed an assisted living arrangement but Charlestown doesn’t have any. Indeed, Charlestown has very few options for senior citizens and handicapped residents who wish to downsize or need special living arrangements, largely due to the CCA-controlled Planning Commission’s distaste for affordable housing for seniors or anyone else. Talk about getting bit in the ass by your own policies.

Melina Lodge - endorsed Dem and
target of George Tremblay blacklist
Jim Abbott’s alternate seat was filled by the appointment of shingles expert (the construction kind, not the disease) Joann Stolle (CCA aligned), but Stolle chose not to seek election on her own.

Incumbent CCA Planning alternate Gordon Foer is running for reelection. While full members of the Planning Commission run for six-year terms, alternates only get two-year terms, so he must once again win voter approval.

One of Planning Commissar Ruth Platner’s top lieutenants, Linda Fabre, is another apparent casualty of the CCA’s anti-affordable housing policies. Her term is up this year, but Fabre moved out of Charlestown. She is not running for reelection.

Mike Breton - endorsed
Planning Commissar Ruth Platner is also up for reelection. She has been on the Planning Commission for 16 years and is going for 22.

Under her leadership, the CCA’s radical policies[2] have become law through the meek acceptance by the CCA-controlled Town Council of the series of ordinances crafted by Platner and her plucky planners, which we’ll be going into in great detail between now and November 6.

Offering a sensible alternative to the radical, anti-family, anti-small business policies of the CCA and Ruth Platner are the Democratic-endorsed team of Melina Lodge, Frank Glista, Michael Breton and Brandon Cleary.

Brandon Cleary - endorsed
Following Planning Commission politics is largely an insider’s game, so the batting order will probably play a major role in determining the final outcome. That’s good news for those of us who think it’s time that Ruth went back to making her farm a going concern.

We’ll do our best to remind you of the differences between the Democrats’ vision for Charlestown versus the terrible policies the CCA, and particularly Ruth Platner, have imposed on town property owners.

More to come so stay tuned.

[1] Charlestown’s Home Rule Charter with the provision for an elected Planning Commission was approved by the General Assembly BEFORE the state enacted the law requiring planning boards to be appointed. The legitimacy of Charlestown being the last holdout for an elected planning board was part of the Whalerock litigation, but Judge Judith Savage refused to rule on that issue, saying that it was being raised prematurely in the Whalerock case, but leaving the door open for future legal challenges.

[2] Policies aimed at blocking families with children from settling in Charlestown, treating children as if they are parasites rather than our future, blocking senior citizen housing, refusing to obey and even attacking state affordable housing law, imposing harsh and expensive unfunded mandates on small businesses, delaying the construction of the Cross Mills Fire District firehouse because it was made of brick, delaying construction of the town beach sanitary facilities, interjecting intrusive and unnecessary regulations on town homeowners and businesses