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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Progressive Charlestown predictions for 2014

Some of this stuff could really happen. Seriously.
New director of the Charlestown's Department of Mulch and
Shrubbery Enforcement. Read on to find out who it is.
By Ann Nonimus

It’s time once again for Progressive Charlestown’s annual forecast of things to come. Though we try our best to come up with accurate predictions, an objective review of the record shows that we haven’t done all that well.

For example, of our 31 predictions for 2013, only a few actually happened. Like, for instance, the town did hire as new Town Administrator a Furby programed to say “Yes, Tom, whatever you want.” 

Peter Herstein (CCA Party) did get appointed to the Planning Commission, but no, a bald eagle did not carry him off before he could be sworn in.

CCA Town Councilor George Tremblay did not get the Nobel Prize for Economics. No, Councilor Lisa DiBello did not settle her lawsuit and is still suing Charlestown in the hope of a $1.5 million settlement. First term Planning Commissioner Connie Baker did not get the Planning Commission to shorten meetings or extend breaks to accommodate her sleep schedule.

Charlestown’s Comprehensive Plan is still not done so our prediction that they would get it done but then not let anyone else see it hasn’t happened. Yet. Charlestown did not secede from the rest of Rhode Island. Charlestown voting rights are still not apportioned according to the value of the property you own (yet).

So our 2013 predictions really sucked, although we did way better than Rev. Harold Camping. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to quit trying. With a spirit of optimism, we predict that in 2014….

Great bonfire!

Ushering out the old year, greeting the New Year
By Will Collette

This year's bonfire was outstanding, even without the 30-foot tornadoes we had last year. No snow and ice on the ground to feed the twisters. But this year's fire was pretty intense and I could see the heat vortices coming up off the pavement as if reading to repeat last year's action.

The annual New Year's Eve bonfire was once again made possible by Frank "Frankie Pallets" Glista's Herculean effort in shaping a truckload of wooden pallets donated by Arnold's Lumber into a matchstick cathedral. This year, Frank added some nice design elements, including a huge Christmas tree made from scrap lubber in the front and two big spirals on either side.

Frank told me that he was working on the structure almost right up until show time. He said the spiral elements were inspired by last year's tornadoes.

As always, the bonfire was attended by the ever-vigilant, ever-festive Charlestown Fire District. They made sure that the audience was kept safe. This year, Charlestown's Wastewater Management guy, Matt Dowling, who is also a firefighter, got to set the structure alight.

Matt touched off the blaze promptly at 5 PM and within a minute or two, the flames spread throughout the structure. Last year, the area was wet and cold and it seemed to take forever for the fire to get going. Not so this year.

More pictures....

Very healthy for diners

Congressional Republicans celebrate a great year (for them)

Congress Rocks 2013
By Pat Bagley

Click here to see why they're so excited.

A Charlestown Citizens Christmas, Day 7

Making 12 days seem like 12 years
By Charleston Dickens

On the Seventh Day of Christmas the CCA gave to us...

Seven Shrubbery Schleppers

Six Simplistic Sophists

Five Finagled Filings

Four Phony Phone calls

Three Loopy Lawsuits

Two Amateurs Appointed

And a Partridge on the Anonymous Abutters Bus

Happy New Year – in moderation

Moderate Alcohol Consumption Boosts Body's Immune System, Study Suggests

Medical science has known for years that people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol actually have a reduced risk of death. In general, they are healthier and have better cardiovascular function that those who don't drink alcohol at all.

Now, new research from Oregon Health & Science University adds a fascinating twist: moderate drinking may actually bolster our immune system and help it fight off infection.

The research, published Dec. 17 in the journal Vaccine, not only opens a new window into scientific understanding of the immune system, it also could help scientists find new ways to improve the human body's ability to respond to vaccines and infections.

VIDEO: No soup for you, kid

The disdain that Republicans have for the poor is unbelievably inhumane. And yet it seems that they hate poor kids most of all, especially when those hungry kids get a meal in their bellies during the school day.

That’s exactly how Georgia Republican Rep. Jack Kingston feels. Apparently, Kingston loathes the school lunch program and wants to replace it with one of two systems. One, a system in which schools shakedown poor kids for any spare change they may have on them. Or two, the school forces poor kids to work for food while their friends and peers watch.

Kingston made the heartless remarks last weekend while speaking to the Jackson County Republican Party.

Tonight! Be there!

AlterNet's Top 10 Right Wing Jaw-Droppers of the Year

The right-wing's hit parade of madness and the politics of resentment.
Complied by the editors of AlterNet

America's right-wing is a national embarrassment. On any given day, you can find its leaders spouting racism, pretending poverty doesn't exist, mocking the idea that climate change is a serious problem, or attempting to restrict the fundamental rights of women. Here are some of AlterNet's most popular and outrageous stories about the right from this year.

by Lawrence Davidson, Consortium News

Sure propaganda, government secrecy and Fox News have a lot to do with it. But there are broader societal pressures as well. "The majority of any population will pay little or no attention to news stories or government actions that do not appear to impact their lives or the lives of close associates," Davidson writes. "If something non-local happens that is brought to their attention by the media, they will passively accept government explanations and simplistic solutions."

Monday, December 30, 2013

Another big tear in the net

Congress Enjoys Holidays As Unemployed Lose Safety Net
euc GONEWashington, D.C. – As 1.3 million Americans faced the loss of unemployment security at Midnight, Friday December 28th, members of Congress are off enjoying the holidays until January 6.
Yes, December 28 marked expiration of the 2008 Federal Extended Unemployment Insurance (UI) program, a safety net for the nation’s long-term unemployed workers who have exhausted their original 26 weeks UI benefits.

While the nation’s long-termed unemployed already struggling to keep their homes, feed their families and pay bills face a New Year absent extended benefits, the Senate is not scheduled to reconvene to consider a bill for short-term extension until January 6.

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (RIDLT) recommended in a pre-holiday mailing that individuals receiving extended unemployment compensation benefits (EUC) continue to request weekly benefits in the event Congress achieves a favorable resolution in 2014.

Tom Tomorrow finishes his review of 2013

Year in Crazy, Part Two
By Tom Tomorrow

Click here to be amazed at all the stupid stuff that happened in 2013.

A Charlestown Citizens Christmas, Day 6

Making 12 days seem like 12 years
By Charleston Dickens

On the Sixth Day of Christmas the CCA gave to us...

Six Simplistic Sophists

Five Finagled Filings

Four Phony Phone calls

Three Loopy Lawsuits

Two Amateurs Appointed

And a Partridge on the Anonymous Abutters Bus

Green chemistry awards

Soybean coolant, eco-friendlier house paint, vegan leather win the honors
Vegan leathers are replacing some animal-based ones.  An award-winning green chemist is working with shoe companies to use his faux leather that avoids tanning processes
By Lindsey Konkel, Environmental Health News

A coolant made from soybean oil and a more eco-friendly white paint are two winners of the 2013 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency honored five innovative technologies that made important breakthroughs in becoming safer, cleaner and more sustainable.

Over recent decades, industries have relied on many compounds and manufacturing techniques that are toxic, consume resources, or threaten the environment. The goal of green chemistry is to develop new technologies that are not only more environmentally friendly, but commercially viable.

38 Studios and 2014

Thank you, Don Carcieri, for bringing us Curt Schilling

House Minority Leader Brian Newberry is suggesting that the need to pay $12.5 million each year for the next decade is going to be a political winner for the RI Republican Party. 

The thinking, as Newberry explained to me on Twitter, is that legislators who are held relatively blameless for spending the money in 2010 will be judged by their votes in 2013 and 2014; going into November 2014, General Assembly members who voted “Aye” twice are going to have spent $15 million of the state’s money to pay back bondholders who were already covered with insurance in the event of 38 Studios going bankrupt and the State refusing to pay.

Roundup of U.S. Environmental Achievements in 2013

Environmental success stories of 2013

A new study showed that a solid majority of Americans accept the reality of global warming and are calling for action on climate change.

U.S. President Obama launched the most ambitious government wide climate action plan in the history of the nation. In the summer of 2013, Obama said, “As a president, as a father, and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act.” The President’s Climate Action Plan includes limiting pollution from power plants, new standards for energy efficiency on public lands, doubling renewable energy, and working on leading efforts to forge international action.

The EPA’s new standards to reduce emissions from U.S. power plants are of great importance as these plants produce approximately 40 percent of American greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The U.S. joined the U.K. and the World Bank in a decision to limit financing to coal power plants around the world. The U.S. Treasury Department indicated that except for some rare circumstances, it will not finance any new coal projects.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Charlestown year in review

Charlestown’s Top Ten Stories of 2013
By Will Collette

As the CCA Party tightened its grip on Charlestown town government for its fifth year in a row, that meant more interesting things for the writers of Progressive Charlestown to cover. That's been great for our readership numbers

Now in the middle of its third term controlling the Town, the CCA Party leaders have become increasingly daring in promoting their special interest agenda that favors Charlestown’s landed gentry and non-residents over the vast majority of residents who have families and work for a living.

As we’ve documented, Charlestown has become an openly “pay to play” town. 

Don’t expect any meaningful help from town government unless you are a CCA Party friend and ally, and most importantly, a CCA Party campaign donor.

On the flip side, if you are a CCA Party donor or loyal supporter, you can expect the CCA Party Town Council majority to reward you handsomely, whether it’s with a $2 million bailout, a coveted political patronage position, or opposition to things that annoy you, such as human activity in Ninigret Park or shell-fishing in Ninigret Pond.

Want the town to muster volunteers to clean up your property? Want a bike path to the beach? Want an enemy punished? Just drop your check, made out to the CCA, in the mail.

Charlestown’s CCA leaders have also attempted to clamp down on transparency by holding secret votes during Council meetings and violating the state open records law.

I could go on but let’s let the stories speak for themselves as we look at Charlestown’s Top Stories for 2013...

Why raising the minimum wage helps women

Infographic showing that 64% of minimum wage earners are women.

A Charlestown Citizens Christmas, Day 5

Making 12 days seem like 12 years
By Charleston Dickens

On the Fifth Day of Christmas the CCA gave to us…

Five Finagled Filings

Four Phony Phone calls

Three Loopy Lawsuits

Two Amateurs Appointed

And a Partridge on the Anonymous Abutters Bus

URI will host small business development center

University will serve as hub for SBA aid to businesses

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today that it has selected the University of Rhode Island (URI) to be the new host of the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center. The cooperative agreement takes effect on January 1, 2014. 

The RISBDC was hosted by Bryant University for 23 years and Johnson & Wales University for the past seven years.

The lead center will operate out of the URI Division of Research and Economic Development on the Kingston campus and will include regional service centers at the Chafee Center for International Business at Bryant University, the URI College of Business on the Kingston campus, and the URI Research Foundation at the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (EDC) in Providence. 

Solar energy in 2013

The state of solar power for the US in 2013

The environment in 2013

Environmentally a year in review

From: Robin Blackstone, 

Environmentally 2013 is a remarkable year. A year in review marks the good and the bad. Below are some highlights in various areas of environmental concern.


Due to the emphasis on energy efficiency and power supply sourcing, greenhouse gas emissions are slowing for the first time ever. We are using and finding new sources of renewable energy and using what we have more effectively.  While we are presently increasing gas usage, this is likely to be quickly overtaken by a focus on green energy. This energy sector is growing faster than any other source.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Credit where it is due

Cut in sales tax was due to Donna Walsh’s efforts
By Catherine O’Reilly Collette

A version of this letter recently ran in the Westerly Sun. Click here for a description of the new tax exemption for original art on Rep. Walsh's website.

The Sun recently ran an editorial reprinted from the Newport Daily News praising the new tax relief granted artwork and other goods enacted in the General Assembly. The piece gave lots of credit to the  Senate President for the legislation.

This is natural since she represents the city of Newport, but I think your readers should know that it was Representative Donna Walsh (Charlestown, Westerly, South Kingstown, Block Island) who originated the idea of tax exemption on all limited production art.

A Charlestown Citizens Christmas, Day 4

Making 12 days seem like 12 years
By Charleston Dickens

On the Fourth Day of Christmas the CCA gave to us...

Four Phony Phone calls

Three Loopy Lawsuits

Two Amateurs Appointed

And a Partridge on the Anonymous Abutters Bus