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Sunday, February 16, 2014

VIDEO: Charlestown tapas

Tidbits of the politics and life of Charlestown
  • The right to vote with your money
  • The right to vote with your feet
  • Shaking all over
  • Good luck, Dave
By Will Collette

CCA Credo: the right to vote

It’s no secret that the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA Party) treasures the support of wealthy non-residents who fill their campaign coffers. CCA leaders have historically supported giving non-residents the right to vote because they own property here. In my list of 2013 New Year’s predictions, I speculated that the CCA Party majority that controls Charlestown town government would change voting rules so that you get one vote for every dollar’s worth of property you own. For those readers suffering from humorous dyscognition, I meant that as a joke.

But it seems that in the right-wing world that the CCA Party inhabits, the idea of “One Dollar, One Vote” is not a joke at all, but actually a serious proposition.

Venture Capitalist Tom Perkins has been in the news a lot lately. First he compared liberals “progressives” who criticize the rich one-percenters to Nazis - . Come to think of it, CCA Party pundit Mike Chambers has made similar remarks about Progressive Charlestown on several occasions (click here and here for recent examples).

Now Perkins says that voting rights should be limited only to those who pay income taxes, and the weight of their vote should be based on the taxes they pay – one vote for every dollar paid in federal income tax. As he put it, "The Tom Perkins system is: You don't get to vote unless you pay a dollar of taxes…But what I really think is, it should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes. How's that?" Here's the video: 


I’m sure the CCA Party thinks that’s just fine. How about it, Mike?

CCA Credo: Another hallowed belief debunked

Much of the CCA Party ideology derives from the former RI Shoreline Coalition which used to be based in Charlestown when it changed its name to the RI Statewide Coalition. They have since moved out of Charlestown and suffered a dramatic decline, but their legacy is still part of the fiber of the CCA Party.

One of the core beliefs of RISC and the CCA Party is that you must keep taxes low for rich people or else they will leave or spread a lot less of their wealth around. As I wrote in a recent article, the rich in Charlestown haven’t done much for jobs or charity despite tax breaks.

Now, new data from the RI Division of Taxation shows that while some rich people leave Rhode Island, most stay and others move into Rhode Island to replace those who leave. Looking at five years’ worth of tax returns, they found that 86.5% of people with more than $200,000 in annual earnings who filed who filed returns in 2007 also filed returns in 2011.

That translates into 1,972 high-income taxpayers who dropped off the rolls between 2007 and 2011 compared to almost 65,000 who decided Rhode Island isn't so bad. 

However, as Ted Nesi who covers politics for WPRI pointed out, the decline of 1,972 high income taxpayers is not entirely due to people leaving the state. He noted a lot of income volatility within that group, causing some people to drop out of the top bracket. And among the older taxpayers, there are deaths to consider.

Plus, in 2011, Rhode Island had 1,231 new $200,000+ tax filers and that came close to off-setting the number who left.

The report showed the largest group of “movers” was people 65 and older. The most common destinations were Florida and Massachusetts. Big surprise.

That shows within the CCA Party, which lost five members of its steering committee when John and Kallie Jurgens, Dr. Milton and Bernice Krantz and Kate Waterman moved out of state. That’s almost half of the CCA Party leadership. Apparently, none of them have been replaced.

Most studies show that the primary motives for moving are the search for jobs, seeking better weather or the need for affordable housing or assisted living rather than taxes.

“I feel the earth move under my feet…”

Well, not exactly, but there were two local earthquakes recorded nearby in Massachusetts on the evening of February 11 both at around 6 PM. The first and strongest of the two was a magnitude 4.1 quake just off the coast of Nantucket.

The second was a 2,4 magnitude quake centered on South Dartmouth. An earlier quake occurred on January 9 that measured only magnitude 1.9 in East Freetown. Small coastal quakes along the Atlantic coast are not unusual. Though tiny compared to the disasters that make international news, east coast quakes can cause lots of damage, as the one in Virginia last year that cracked the Washington Monument and National Cathedral. Plus coastal quakes can cause slides along the continental shelf and these can lead to damaging tsunamis.

Changes at the Sun

This is slightly old news, but it’s now confirmed that former Charlestown beat reporter Dave Pepin has left the Westerly Sun. Dave has a new gig as the managing and news editor for the Woonsocket Call and Pawtucket Times newspapers.

Dave’s a print journalist, first and foremost, in a time when most newspapers are in a lot of trouble. My best wishes that he lives long and prospers as a print guy. If you want to reach him at his new gig, call him at (401) 767-8562 or e-mail him at