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Sunday, November 4, 2012

The CCA admits it favors seasonal visitors over year-round residents

RE-RUN: Stunning admission in recent e-mail blast to its supporters
By Will Collette
In case you missed this article with Sandy on your mind...

We really do have two alternate universes here in Charlestown – the world where the majority of Charlestown residents live and that rarified fact-free space occupied by the Charlestown Citizens Alliance. Or Bizarro Charlestown, as my colleague Linda Felaco calls it.

The CCA sent out another one of its wild e-mails, full of charges without substantiation and some frankly peculiar observations, including some surprising remarks about people who make Charlestown their home. So once again, folks, it’s time to play Let’s Fact-Check the CCA.

The sections in green, beginning "THE CCA SAYS," are verbatim from the CCA's October 23 e-mail to its list.

I wonder who broke it to Tom Gentz that he's not really
in charge
THE CCA SAYS: The Charlestown Democratic Town Committee (CDTC) has spent the past two years implying that the Town Council is run by the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA).  In truth, the Council has two councilors endorsed by CCA, two councilors endorsed by the CDTC, and an independent councilor whom the CDTC inexplicably refers to as a rogue officer. CCA members on the Town Council are clearly in the minority.

THE FACTS: Actually, let’s start with a question. If this statement by the CCA, that they actually don’t control town government, is true, then why did the CCA candidates for Town Council write a Letter to the Westerly Sun claiming credit for just about everything they consider good about what the Town Council did over the past two years? Either the above statement is b.s. or their Sun letter is.

The fact is that Councilor Lisa DiBello, nominally an independent but aligned with the CCA, gives Council boss Tom Slattery and his Deputy Dan Slattery the controlling vote. DiBello is suing the other two members of the Council (Marge Frank and Gregg Avedisian) and has made her abiding hatred of Avedisian abundantly clear.

The one time DiBello bucked the CCA was on Y-Gate, which is to her credit, but otherwise, when she actually shows up, she votes with the CCA. As for whether DiBello is a “rogue officer,” which is a pretty weird expression that I don't recall ever seeing anywhere in Progressive Charlestown, read the record and judge for yourself. 

THE CCA SAYS: * As much as the CDTC complains about the way the town council operates, the CDTC did not work to improve the climate of informed debate. 
* Rather than address issues, the website created by leadership of the Democratic town committee has launched personal attacks on elected members of the Town Council and Planning Commission when those officials take positions contrary to CDTC interests.  The blog also bullies and intimidates any volunteer commission or committee members who have alternate views, thus stifling volunteerism with residents becoming wary of being in the spotlight and attacked by the CDTC.
* The only self-generated proposal offered by the CDTC was the Homestead Tax Exemption proposal, a new property tax structure that will reduce the number of seasonal residents and increase the year-round population. Long term, these shifts in population will make our town more like the surrounding towns in terms of required services and require a greatly increased tax rate.

THE FACTS: Once again, the CCA tries to attack town Democrats by attacking Progressive Charlestown. There are two problems with that approach. First, the Democratic Town Committee has no control over Progressive Charlestown. Does any sane person really think that any committee, never mind a committee of Democrats, could come to a consensus to support the kind of stuff that Linda, Tom and I write?

Second flaw is that the CCA really hates it that Progressive Charlestown watches what they do, documents it, names names and reports the news. Unlike the CCA, we give readers links to documents along with our opinions so you can check sources and make up your own minds. The CCA simply gives you unsubstantiated statements, often anonymously, and a dizzying array of strawmen that they then set fire to.

For years, even before there was a CCA, Charlestown’s elite and landed gentry could pretty much do whatever they wanted without fear of exposure. Aside from angry words at Council meetings, that was it. Progressive Charlestown is, for them, a new and unpleasant experience. Tough.
The CCA is fine with screwing middle-
class taxpayers - just don't tax the
out of state property owners

As for new and exciting ideas coming from town Dems, let’s remember that despite the CCA’s incredible claim that they are a minority in town government, they really do control this town and the all-powerful Planning Commission. That means that town Dems have largely had to play defense, as they did quite successfully when the CCA wanted to rip off half a million dollars for Y-Gate, or turn Ninigret Park over to the feds.

The Dems’ Homestead Tax Credit proposal was killed by the CCA when they turned out the “riot of the rich” last December, rallying a mob of rich nonresidents – the same crowd that, by the way, is funding the CCA’s 2012 campaign.

And that was not the only Democratic initiative, despite the absence of one single elected Democrat in town government. The Dems also won voter approval for the gorgeous new beach pavilions at our town beaches, despite CCA opposition, especially from its supporters who own property within walking distance of the beaches, who felt that if you couldn’t walk home to use your own toilet, you didn’t belong at the beach. I’m not making that up – the CCA really made that argument. And lost.

The CCA thinks year-round residents
are parasites - just like their kids
Finally, I hope you all caught the CCA’s incredible slur against people who choose to make Charlestown their homes. They say that giving actual residents a tax cut will make the shoreline millionaires go away. And, what, are they going to take their McMansions with them? They characterize full-time residents the same way they characterize children – as parasites.

They make the remarkable claim that we need nonresidents to occupy those high-priced properties – as if they are unsuitable for permanent habitation.

But if you want to understand why the CCA takes this huge risk of insulting people who actually live – and vote – in Charlestown, all you have to do is check out who is funding the CCA’s campaign.

THE CCA SAYS: The CDTC and CCA couldn't be more different-- CCA was created to put an end to closed government, disrespect of the citizenry, and to initiate a new era of cooperation and consideration of the needs of the town.  The voters of Charlestown have embraced the new approach to government over the past two elections.  The town has enjoyed stability and the third lowest tax rate in the State.   

THE FACTS: In this statement, the CCA makes the one true claim in the entire e-mail – when they say “the CDTC and CCA couldn’t be more different,” they are absolutely right.

They should have stopped right there.

The CCA has, in fact, done the opposite of what they claim. Count up the Open Meeting violations, the instances where Councilors Gentz and Slattery have directly abused citizens in open Town Council sessions and allowed speakers to defame citizens and town businesses, conducted secret investigations, made up or hid public documents and ignored town commissions they don’t control. But they figure if they make the claim of cooperation and consideration often enough you’ll believe it.

THE CCA SAYS: Borrowing from the eloquence of Adlai Stevenson; we offer our opponents a bargain: if they stop telling lies about us, we will stop telling the truth about them.

THE FACTS: Gee, this quote looks awfully familiar. I think I read it somewhere before. Wait a minute – it’ll come to me ….Ah, this quote has been up on the Progressive Charlestown home page for the past month. But, tell ya what, CCA, we’ll give you a pass on copying from us. With all the other things you’ve done to Charlestown, that’s small potatoes. Besides, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.