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Friday, October 5, 2012

Moral turpitude in Bizarro Charlestown

Previously in Bizarro Charlestown:
Bizarro Charlestown
Raiders of the Lost Platform
Meanwhile, in Bizarro Charlestown …
A Clockwork Charlestown
Environmentalism, Bizarro Charlestown–style
Why drill for oil when you can grow it?
It wasn’t a rhetorical question

By Linda Felaco

He’s ba-ack. After a weeks-long silence, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance’s lead blogger, Michael Chambers, has posted not one, not two, but three, count ’em, three new installments in his “flog the Democrats” series.

Chambers claims that town Democrats’ only accomplishment for the past two years was the Homestead Tax Credit proposal. Seems to me the fact that town Democrats have been quietly going about their business on the various commissions they serve on without jumping up and down and hooting and hollering saying “Look at me! I accomplished something!” every time they do something is only to their credit.

Though it is odd that Chambers seems to have forgotten our efforts to prevent overregulation of residential wind energy considering that blocking wind turbines is his pet issue and he was present at all the hearings we spoke at.

Oh, yeah, and the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee was also quite active in getting the beach pavilions approved and built. But Mike was on the losing team on that issue.

As for Chambers’s muddled explication of the Homestead Tax Credit proposal itself, he obviously never troubled himself to read it particularly closely, since he claims that it would somehow have a negative effect on local businesses when in fact it was written specifically to only apply to residential properties and not business properties. Indeed, it was specified in the proposal that the tax rate for business properties would remain the same, and all the calculations of specific tax amounts for specific residential properties were made on this basis.

I also have to ask about Chambers’s confident assertion that “less than fifty household [sic] in this town” are having trouble paying their taxes. How does Chambers define “having trouble”? Is it an overdue payment? More than one? What if someone has the money but just plain old forgot to pay? Maybe they were on a round-the-world tour and didn’t have electronic access to their accounts to be able to make the transfer in time. Or, as CCA Council Vice President Dan Slattery pointed out during the tax discussion at the January town council meeting, maybe these people are making $80,000 a year and are just maxed out on their credit cards.

Speaking of credit cards, what if someone is paying their taxes, but charging it on credit cards and sinking inexorably deeper into debt? I’d call that having trouble, even though the payments are being made on time.

So it’s not clear to me that late tax payments tell us who’s “having trouble” paying their taxes. Nor is it clear to me how Chambers would be privy to that information. Or any information that would allow him to make that statement about how many people are having trouble paying taxes.

Unlike the CCA, the CDTC didn’t want to pry into people’s personal finances and making them sing and dance to prove themselves worthy of tax relief. The Homestead Credit is designed to benefit full-time residents, period. It is a taxation policy common across the U.S. Indeed, many of the part-time residents the CCA is so vociferously defending already get the Homestead Tax Credit—on their primary residences in the state where they reside the rest of the year.

As for Tuesday’s Chamberpot, I suppose when you belong to a shadowy cabal, you see shadowy cabals everywhere. Chambers seems to think that because Will Collette and Jim Mageau just happened to both have letters published in the Westerly Sun last week that were critical of the CCA, that they’re somehow in cahoots. When in the real world, if you’re not part of a shadowy cabal that demands lockstep obedience to an unwavering set of principles, you’re allowed to agree with people on some issues and disagree with them on others. Give it a try, Mike. I think you’ll find it helps your blood pressure, as well as your digestion.

There was also an interesting edit made to the Chamberpot sometime after it was posted. Originally, Chambers used the phrase “moral turpitude” but defined it as a “redeeming social quality.” Moral turpitude is of course a legal term used to describe a category of crimes that “shock the public conscience” and are considered “corrupt or depraved or degenerate.” Later, the Chamberpot was edited to say “moral fortitude.” But if, as Chambers originally stated, he looks for leaders with “moral turpitude,” I’d say that explains a lot.