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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Charlestown chunks

  • Whalerock finale approaches
  • NK Green – no complaints
  • Tina Jackson racks up the fines
  • RISC silent on six straight years of Charlestown tax increases
  • Charlestown unemployment jets up
  • Bogus Obamacare phone calls
Last chapter in Charlestown’s Moby Dick tale?

TONIGHT, Thursday, August 22 at 7:00 at the Charlestown Elementary School, the Town Council will conduct its long-awaited hearing on the question of buying the site of the proposed Whalerock wind farm. 

For three years, the town has been in turmoil over this project. For many years before that, various plans for the land by developer Larry LeBlanc have stirred up high emotion.

At this point, Charlestown seems to be close to a consensus that buying that land for open space – proposed price: $2,114,400 – is the best way to go. Unsettled: whether the Town Council majority will honor past precedent and their own promises by giving Charlestown voters the last word through a special referendum. And now the Planning Commission has added a new wrinkle that could unravel the emerging consensus.

Buy the land then give it away. Yeah, that's the ticket
The CCA Party and the Charlestown Planning Commission are now actively promoting the purchase of the property. The Planning Commission hasn't endorsed the specific sale price. 

Instead of simply stating their support, the Planning Commission made the disturbing proposal that Charlestown should make a deal with another entity – such as the federal Fish and Wildlife Service or Nature Conservancy – to take actual custody or ownership. 

So, it seems, the CCA Party and Ruth Platner want to use up every single nickel of available open space-recreation funding to buy the property... and then they want to give it away. 


The Planning Commission is also fast-tracking a proposal by LeBlanc’s partner, James Barrows, to carve out two house lots from the 81 acres (leaving 78 acres to be purchased). This carve-out would actually add back some taxable property to the tax base which would offset taking the rest of the Whalerock property off the tax base as open space.

The Charlestown Democratic Town Committee came out in favor of buying the land last May and renewed its support this week, but called for a town vote.

NK Green – no complaints

NK Green - no complaints
If the current Whalerock development plan was to go through, the result would be an mixed, affordable and market rate housing development with two large wind turbines plunked in the middle of it. 

It would look remarkably like the NK Green project in North Kingstown (next to Wickford Junction) which has been operational for almost a year. 

Recently, I reported that the first lawsuit has been filed against that project, but over a contract dispute, not the actual wind turbine. 

A few days ago, the North Kingstown Patch published a report that even among those who were once vocal opponents of the projects, the turbine and the neighborhood are coexisting quite pleasantly.

One of the converts quoted was Colleen Clare who said "I was a vocal opponent. I was angry because I thought it was taking away from our future. Now it doesn’t bother me." She continued, "As vocal and angry as I was before, I don’t see it as much of a problem."

It helps that the 413-foot turbine was built right in the back yard, literally, of developer Mark DePasquale and that DePasquale is also sharing the profits from the turbine with his neighbors.

GOP House candidate Tina Jackson racks up more fines

Tina Jackson of Charlestown, the unsuccessful 2012 Republican challenger to state Representative Donna Walsh, has failed to file her last five campaign finance disclosure reports with the state Board of Elections and has ignored attempts by the BOE to contact her about her delinquency.

Jackson made a big deal about government accountability, openness and transparency during her campaign. But as I have previously reported, Jackson’s own record for abiding by the law is marred by multiple arrests and convictions for criminal offenses (drugs, assault, bad checks, etc.) as well as disregard for the basic requirements that all candidates for public office must follow.

As of August 19, according to the Board of Elections, Jackson’s fines totaled $1,529 and were growing by $8 daily.

Speaking of hypocrites in politics….

"Sorry I can't give you a tip...I spent all my money"
In case you missed it, I recently reported that Charlestown-born Rhode Island Taxpayers, formerly known as the RI Statewide Coalition and before that as the RI Shoreline Coalition, was spending itself to death. Click here

One of their biggest issues has been the issue of government spending and how it’s totally irresponsible to spend more than you take in, a rule they themselves haven’t followed.

They are also adamantly opposed to raising taxes, especially when it isn’t necessary. I just wonder why RISC hasn’t said a word about the CCA-Party controlled Charlestown Town Council’s sixth consecutive year of raising taxes, despite the large surpluses Charlestown seems to accumulate each year.

Big Jump in Charlestown Unemployment

After five straight months of declining unemployment, Charlestown’s most recent numbers show a large and disappointing increase. July unemployment in Charlestown hit 9.4%, up from June’s figure of 7.1%. That's a 33% increase in unemployment in just one month.

The number of unemployed Charlestown residents increased by 111. The total workforce increased by 78 people. Because there are so few jobs in Charlestown, most Charlestown workers have to commute to jobs in other municipalities.

Contrary to popular belief that Charlestown is a town of elderly retirees, almost 60% of Charlestown's population works for a living, or at least tries to. Children outnumber the elderly by 1506 to 1383. Those numbers bear no resemblance to who actually runs this town.

Next phase of Obamacare kicks in, but watch out for fraud

Last April, the Charlestown Democrats hosted a forum on the Affordable Care Act featuring Lieutenant Governor Liz Roberts who has been leading the state’s effort to put the law into effect. Soon, uninsured Rhode Islanders will be able to shop for affordable health insurance plans on the state’s Insurance Exchange.

But there’s also a warning out from the Federal Trade Commission about telephone solicitations to buy Obamacare insurance. The FTC warns that these calls are almost certainly a scam – no one is supposed to call you to try to sell you such insurance.

You can call them but they cannot call you. The FTC recommends hanging up on such calls, although if you can get information from them, such as their phone number, company name, etc., it may make it easier for the FTC to go after them. If you do receive such a phone call (or any other kind of scam call, for that matter) you should call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP  or file a complaint at