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Monday, June 30, 2014

Tapas, get your Charlestown Tapas

Bite-sized news
By Will Collette

Progress on public access to Charlestown Moraine Preserve
It took a while to settle the issue of what to do with the land Charlestown purchased for $2.1 million to block the proposed Whalerock wind turbines. For a while, Town Council Boss Tom Gentz and Planning Commissar Ruth Platner pushed the town to give away the land to one of their favored groups, only to discover that these groups either didn’t want the land or weren’t legally eligible to receive it. Plus, any such transaction requires voter approval.

After much painful stumbling about, the Council settled on the only logical approach which was to let the town Conservation Commission do its job to figure out how to best make it possible for residents to enjoy the land that was bought with their tax dollars.

The Conservation Commission has moved this process forward by working with the Nature Conservancy to plot out trail routes and with town Public Works to figure out the least intrusive way to set up public parking. Click here and here to see what they’ve come up with.

In a nutshell, for $12,979, we can build a 60’ x 60’ parking lot on King’s Factory Road and lay out trails so people can enjoy this beautiful piece of land. Included in the estimate is money for an archaeological survey to ensure that building the parking does not disturb any protected Native American gravesites or artifacts, an important consideration, given the site’s close proximity to Narragansett Tribal lands.

Charlestown scores partial but major victory in cesspool case

Survival of the fittest

By Andy Singer

Click here to see where this leads.

Legacy of LBJ's Great Society

Somethings have changed, but not enough

Poverty in America

More details below...

Charlestown Democrats want to sell you some great stuff

July 5 Victory Tag Sale coming up on Saturday
By Will Collette
Bergdorf Goodman animated GIF
You never know what great deals you'll find!

Please put this on your calendar for Saturday.

Lacking the CCA’s out-of-state sugar daddies to support it, the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee relies on small donations and on its annual Tag Sale which will be held this year at near the corner of Old Post Road (1A) and Genwood Drive.

The more nice merchandise that gets donated, the more money the Committee can raise for the upcoming election campaign.

We will have a table set up for town voters to sign the nomination papers of the Democratic slate. It will be a great chance for you to meet them.

Lead ammo & eagles

New study shows link between bald eagle deaths and lead ammunition
From: Alicia Graef, Care2More from this Affiliate 
Bald Eagle animated GIF
Endangered California condors have been the poster birds for calls to get lead ammunition out of our environment, but they might have to make some room for our nation's most iconic raptors thanks to a new study showing how lead ammunition is also harming bald eagles.

It might be illegal to hunt bald eagles, but a study conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigating the link between lead ammunition and bald eagle deaths in the Upper Mississippi River U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge, which spans across Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, shows they’re dying as a result of hunters and has led to more calls to protect wildlife from this toxic shot.

It really IS good for you

Mom was right, eat your broccoli!
Broccoli Cat animated GIFWe get a little suspicious when we hear the claims that it's possible to get rid of the gunk that accumulates in our cells by doing a cleanse with "clean" foods.

But what if some foods actually do help detox the body?

The results of a recent clinical trial suggest that compounds in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli (and kale) prod cells to get rid of certain air pollutants. 

The intriguing randomized control trial of about 300 Chinese adults found that consuming a beverage made with broccoli sprouts every day for three months lead to high rates of excretion (in urine) of two harmful chemicals: benzene and acrolein.

Legislators expand distributed generation program

Growth would bring green jobs as well as clean energy
STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly gave final passage to legislation sponsored by Rep. Deborah Ruggiero and Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski to expand a program that encourages the development of renewable energy projects around the state.

The expansion, supported by environmentalist, potential developers and the state’s main electric utility, would lead to the development of more wind turbines, solar panel arrays and other small-scale renewable energy generation projects around the state, supplying Rhode Island with clean energy as well as jobs and economic development.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Town lawyer claims secret ballot did not violate the Open Meetings Law, and if it did, it wasn’t on purpose

Peter Ruggiero responds to complaint by former Town Council Prez Deb Carney
By Will Collette
To see more classic Calvin and Hobbes, click here.
The Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA Party) has controlled the town of Charlestown since 2008 and during that time, has practiced its well-established penchant for secrecy. After all, the CCA Party runs its own affairs as a secret society that favors anonymity and cloaks its affairs from outside view.

This has led to a long string of violations of the state Open Meetings and open records laws that have drawn condemnation from the Attorney General’s office.

The latest case involves the CCA Party’s use, for the second time this term, of the secret ballot to make decisions in the middle of a public meeting. The last time was the Town Council’s use of the secret ballot to pick Donna Chambers for a patronage appointment to the Chariho School Committee. 

The Attorney General ruled a public body can’t do that and warned Charlestown that if it did it again, it would be subject to fines and sanctions for an intentional violation.

But CCA Party leader Ruth Platner, who is also Charlestown’s Planning Commissar, places secrecy above openness an herself above the law, decided to use a secret ballot to pick a new consultant to work on Charlestown’s Comprehensive Plan at Planning’s May 7 meeting.

Former two-term Town Council President Deb Carney filed a complaint against this action with the Attorney General on June 8 (click here and scroll to the end to read that complaint). Deb had also filed the earlier 2013 complaint against the Town Council for its use of the secret ballot which resulted in the state’s Carney v. Charlestown decision that forbids the use of the secret ballot at public meetings and affirmed the principle that public business must be conducted publicly. Click here to read that decision.


Stay Safe In The Big Lightning Storm

Home solar leads surge in the market

City Classics animated GIFLed by home solar energy, there is a revolution in on-site renewable electricity generation underway in the U.S.  The process of generating electricity from small energy sources is called by a number of names, including distributed generation, dispersed generation, embedded generation, decentralized generation, decentralized energy, distributed energy or district energy. These energy systems commonly employ small-scale power generation technologies, typically in the range of 1 kW to 10,000 kW.

The benefits of small scale local generation over large centralized energy production are numerous and include minimized environmental impacts. Locally produced energy does not need to travel long distances which reduces the amount of energy lost in transmission and eliminates the need for extensive power lines. On-site smaller scale energy generation affords greater supply security, lower maintenance requirements, lower pollution and higher efficiencies.

Get tickets now for Chamber Concert series

Kingston Chamber Music Festival at URI to feature violinist Hilary Hahn, composer David Ludwig

KINGSTON, R.I. –World-renowned violinist Hilary Hahn will make her Rhode Island debut at the 26th annual Kingston Chamber Music Festival, from July 23 to Aug. 3, at the University of Rhode Island. She will appear at the first three of six subscription concerts on July 23, 25 and 27. The remaining subscription concerts will be on July 30, Aug. 1 and Aug. 3. All begin at 8 p.m. at the URI Fine Arts Center Concert Hall.

According to Brian Mitchell, managing director of the festival, Hahn is “a superstar in the classical music world” who performs concertos with major orchestras all over the world. She recently completed an extraordinarily ambitious project of commissioning composers to create 26 encore pieces for violin and piano. 

At the festival, Hahn will reunite with her former recital partner, Natalie Zhu, the festival’s artistic director, who she performed with for more than 10 years earlier in her career. At the July 25 concert they will perform one of Mozart’s violin sonatas.

Therapy Benefits Us All

Getting help isn't just for those with psychiatric problems — it's for anyone who is human.

In 2008, I went to therapy. By then, I’d needed it for a long time. I had a terribly difficult, incurable condition — one I’d had for 28 years without treatment.

My condition? Being human.

Like many “normal” people, I felt I didn’t need therapy when I went. But my brother had just died unexpectedly at the age of 23. And on the morning of his funeral, I had a vision of myself in old age: still single, surrounded by cats. The neighbors murmured to one another, “She never got over the death of her brother.”

“All right, I’ll get therapy,” I thought. Just in case.

Clearing the air

Industrial Machinery animated GIFThe new rules curbing power plant emissions in the U.S. will have far reaching impacts both within the U.S. and around the world.  Curbing emissions from power plants is part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan which he announced in 2013. 

Last September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released proposed standards to curb U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) from new power plants. 

On June 2nd of this year, the EPA announced it will restrict emissions including carbon, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent by 2030 from all power plants. The EPA guidelines also include plans to prepare the U.S. for the effects of climate change, including strengthening roads, bridges and shorelines.

To circumvent the obstinacy of Republicans, the President is using his executive authority and putting forward the new rules under the Clean Air Act. The historic announcement will reduce carbon pollution from power plants by almost one third (30 percent) from 2005 levels by 2030. Even more significantly, they may spur global action that enables us to secure a binding climate treaty in 2015.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Calling King Canute!

Story and photos by TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

Browning Cottage
SOUTH KINGSTOWN — As summer gets underway in the popular Matunuck Beach area, much of the shoreline is still recovering from Superstorm Sandy's 2012 visit, and ongoing erosion. Since 1951, the beach has migrated some 300 feet inland, and erosion and coastal flooding accelerated after a spate of storms that began in 2010.

Along a mile stretch of waterfront, several landmarks and summer destinations are taking different approaches to adapting to the problems brought on by a changing climate.

High fiber for you (not for bears)

High Fiber Diets

Common sense summer energy use

Get Smart on Staying Cool
Dog Animated GIF on GiphyInstalling the AC has always been a summer ritual in my house. It is the day I admit that I am weak and need some electronic help to stay cool. Yesterday I installed the power sucking bundle of cool joy into my bedroom window, making summer official, even if the calendar says otherwise.

Of course this cowardice is not exactly a green solution to the “heat problem”.  In fact, wasted heat from air conditioners have been shown to warm the outside air temperature in cities,creating an even stronger dependence on the energy guzzling monsters.

As someone who admittedly uses the AC frequently during the summer months I can’t forbid my fellow users from the powerful cool air blowing beast. I can give tips of using the AC more efficiently, and give more “natural” tips on keeping cool and controlling the heat.

Ocean Mist doomed?

Ocean Mist Loses Seawall Appeal 

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

Ocean Mist sits over a beach that has eroded significantly in recent decades. (Roger Williams University)PROVIDENCE — A packed room of supporters for the Ocean Mist bar on Matunuck Beach went home dejected June 24 after the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) declined to say environmental impacts weren't properly addressed in a proposed seawall — a project that Ocean Mist owner Kevin Finnegan believes will damage his property.

Plans for the 200-foot-long steel and concrete wall were approved in 2012 after much debate over efforts to save a stretch of Matunuck Beach Road, which serves as the only road to many summer homes and waterfront businesses.

RI Community Food Bank launches 2014 Summer Food Drive

June 27 - Aug. 31 ~ Goal: 150,000 LBS
From The RI Community Food Bank

We need your help to put food on the table for thousands of families this summer. Please help us by conducting a food drive in your neighborhood, business or organization. We'll provide the posters, collections bins and information packets. Thank you!

To make a financial donation to our Summer Food Drive, click here.

Women will have to run the gauntlet again

Meh. I get that the right-wing of the Supreme Court would want to make it easier for right-wing crazies to torment women but I can’t believe the left-wing voted for this as well:
The Supreme Court unanimously struck down Massachusetts’ abortion buffer zone law on Thursday, ruling in favor of anti-choice protesters who argued that being required to stay 35 feet away from clinic entrances is a violation of their freedom of speech. The decision rolls back a proactive policy intended to safeguard women’s access to reproductive health care in the face of persistent harassment and intimidation from abortion opponents.
Not only does this allow pro-”life” bullies to harass and scream at women trying to enter the clinic, it also makes it easier for a shooter to slip in and do his “godly” work.

Friday, June 27, 2014

We need a movement for shared prosperity

The comic about why Republicans hate the minimum wage.Some inequality of income and wealth is inevitable, if not necessary. If an economy is to function well, people need incentives to work hard and innovate.

The pertinent question is not whether income and wealth inequality is good or bad. It is at what point do these inequalities become so great as to pose a serious threat to our economy, our ideal of equal opportunity and our democracy.

We are near or have already reached that tipping point. As French economist Thomas Piketty shows beyond doubt in his “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” we are heading back to levels of inequality not seen since the Gilded Age of the late 19th century. The dysfunctions of our economy and politics are not self-correcting when it comes to inequality.

But a return to the Gilded Age is not inevitable. It is incumbent on us to dedicate ourselves to reversing this diabolical trend. But in order to reform the system, we need a political movement for shared prosperity.

Herewith a short summary of what has happened, how it threatens the foundations of our society, why it has happened, and what we must do to reverse it.

Be afraid!

Exactly how smart do you think they are?

Are fruit flies smarter than we thought?
From: University of Oxford
Flies Flight animated GIFOxford University neuroscientists have shown that fruit flies take longer to make more difficult decisions.

In experiments asking fruit flies to distinguish between ever closer concentrations of an odour, the researchers found that the flies don't act instinctively or impulsively. Instead they appear to accumulate information before committing to a choice.

Gathering information before making a decision has been considered a sign of higher intelligence, like that shown by primates and humans.

Restoring the Right to Vote

A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to overcome the Supreme Court's setbacks.

Last year, the Supreme Court decimated one of the civil rights movement’s crowning achievements. Now, it’s time for Congress to pick up the pieces, put it back together and make our laws strong enough to protect our most important right: our vote.

Many folks who lived and fought through the civil rights movement weren’t just frustrated by the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which undermined a core provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

They were heartbroken.

The ruling gutted the Voting Rights Act provision that required the Justice Department to pre-approve changes to voting laws in areas with a history of discrimination at the ballot box. For nearly half a century, the Justice Department used that authority to block some of the country’s most egregious attacks on voting rights.

Get rid of old wrecks, navigation hazards

Applications Accepted Through July 1

Boat animated GIF

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management announces that applications are now being accepted from harbormasters and other public entities for funding to cover the costs of removing, disposing and/or selling derelict and abandoned vessels and other obstructions in the tidal waters and tidal lands of the state. 

Funding will be provided through the Derelict and Abandoned Vessel and Obstruction Removal Commission.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Some surprises in election declarations

More candidates announce for Charlestown offices
By Will Collette

The final declarations were filed at Town Hall at close of business on Wednesday, producing some surprises. Click here for yesterday’s article on the Democratic slate.

Town Council incumbent Lisa DiBello declared her bid for re-election….as a Democrat. That makes her the fifth Democrat running for Council in November.

Charlestown Citizens Alliance stalwart Councilor Dan Slattery is not running for re-election. Neither are CCA Party Planning Commissioners Peter Herstein and Kathryn O’Connor.

CCA Party Treasurer Leo Mainelli has filed a declaration showing his intention to challenge Democrat Henry Walsh for the position of Town Moderator.

Listen to the roar

Hold A Seashell Up To Your Ear

It sucks to be a renter in Rhode Island

2014 Renters in Rhode Island Infographic

DEM on the lookout for drunk boaters

Stepped up enforcement plan called “Operation Dry Water”

Accident Boat animated GIFPROVIDENCE - Safe boating patrols will be stepped up on June 27 to June 29 in a joint operation conducted by the Department of Environmental Management's Division of Law Enforcement. 

The effort is part of Operation Dry Water, a coordinated national weekend of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) detection and enforcement. It is aimed at reducing the number of alcohol-related and drug-related accidents and fatalities, and making recreational boaters aware of the dangers of alcohol and drug use on the water.

A Climate of Extra Credit

Like the United States, Brazil has a long way to go with its response to global warming.

2014 World Cup Brasil Nt animated GIFNaturally, the World Cup is drawing attention to Brazil, the host nation and the tournament’s leading contender. But shortly before the soccer tournament began, two studies highlighted by National Geographic also called attention to South America’s biggest country.

Researchers now credit Brazil with reducing its carbon emissions more than any other country by cutting the rate of Amazon deforestation by an impressive 70 percent. The country now leads “the world in mitigating climate change,” exclaimed Daniel Nepstad, one of the researchers.

How valid is that praise?

Republican Senator says we can't afford to take care of vets

GOP Senator Calls Veteran’s Care ‘Entitlement’ We ‘Can’t Afford’

Sessions (R-AL) - NO to beefing up veterans'
health care
The next time any Republican accuses President Obama or the Democrats of not supporting our veterans, please point them in the direction of Republican senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama.

Sessions, along with only two other Senators – both Republican – voted against the bi-partisan veterans bill which aimed to ease the healthcare delays for veterans by giving them more access to private care and allowing the Department of Veterans Affairs the funds to open more clinics and hire more medical staff. It passed the House of Representatives unanimously. 

But Sessions wasn’t feeling that bi-partisan “support the troops” facade that the GOP loves to paint:
“I feel strongly we’ve got to do the right thing for our veterans. But I don’t think we should create a blank check, an unlimited entitlement program, now.”
This, coming from the party who charged America 24 billion dollars for an immigrant to read Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor.

And does Sessions really see this as an entitlement? After you and your entire party blasted President Obama and Veteran’s Affairs secretary Shinseki for being incompetent, you call this an entitlement? I would think our veterans receiving the healthcare they deserve, and not being placed on a 2+ month waiting list would be a priority, not an entitlement. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Charlestown Democratic candidates file their declarations

Concentrating on control of Town Council because that's where the power is
By Will Collette
Topping the ticket: Rep. Donna Walsh & Council Vice-Pres. Paula Andersen

Today was the deadline for candidates for election to file their Declarations of candidacy at Town Hall. 

Led by incumbent State Representative Donna Walsh and incumbent Town Council Vice-President Paula Andersen, three other Democrats filed their declarations to run for Charlestown Town Council as the endorsed Democratic slate.

They are:
  • Brandon Cleary, a professional fire fighter with the Cranston Fire Department. Brandon has served on the Planning Commission as the first Democrat elected to Planning in almost a decade. He has decided to run for Council where he believes he can make more of a distance.
  • Nick Bottai, a student at URI. Many of you have already met Nick who waits tables at the Breachway Grill as one of the several jobs he does to try to pay his tuition. Nick is active in the URI Democrats and is eager to serve his hometown in his first quest for public office.
  • Ron Russo, a retired businessman. Ron has been active on the Charlestown Economic Improvement Commission and is also making his first bid for public office in the hope of bringing some sanity to the way Charlestown treats its citizens and small businesses.

Artists' reception on Saturday

plain logo
Celebrating our 10th Year!

Summer Group Show 2014

100 American Paintings, Sculpture, Photography & Prints

    Mary Moquin  " Composure"  16"x15"                                          Shawn Kenney  "Lego My..."  20"x20"           

You are invited to attend an artist reception:

Saturday, June 28th / 5:30 - 8PM

Dean Richardson  "Desert Parade"  20"x24"  oil on linen 

Featuring work from 25 artists through July 14th

No Sales Tax on Art

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