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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Special elections, Hartford strikes out, roads, kudos, village idiots, crime, jobs and more

Charlestown tapas, for the distinguished reader's palate
By Will Collette

Apologies to Charlestown Tapas fans…between the Financial Referendum and other writings, Tapas have been piling up in the kitchen. I’m going to serve up the tastiest and most perishable ones now with more to come.
Special Election in South Kingstown
On Tuesday, voters in South Kingstown and Narragansett will pick the replacement to District 33 state Rep. Donald Lally (D) whose abrupt and mysterious resignation created the open seat. I have to believe the front-runner is the winner of the Democratic primary Carol Hagen McEntee. She faces Republican Robert Trager and two independents who are actually registered Democrats – Elizabeth Candas and James McKnight. Click here to read the profiles on the four candidates.
Hartford strikes out in Portsmouth
Former Westerly Town Manager Steve Hartford is now damaged goods after revelations by Westerly Sun investigative reporter Dale Faulkner showed how Hartford carries a large share of the blame for the town’s political scandals and in particular, the Copar Quarry problem. So when the Sun noted that he was a finalist in the competition to become Portsmouth’s Town Administrator, it seemed as if Portsmouth wasn’t doing much due diligence. I made sure that our sister blog in Portsmouth, Hard Deadlines, had the benefit of Dale’s reporting.
I don’t know how much that information made in Portsmouth’s decision to pass over Hartford to instead hire former NATO chief operations officer Richard Rainier as their new Town Administrator.
Rhode Island’s rural roads suck
As Charlestown debates whether to give the state DOT the green light to install rumble strips along Route One, we are confronted with the sad fact that in addition to having terrible bridges, Rhode Island also has the nation’s second worse rural roads, behind Michigan.

According to the report by Tripnet, 32% of Rhode Island’s rural roads are graded as “poor” as are 23% of our rural bridges. The only good news in the report is that our fatality rate is low enough that we didn’t get onto any of the Top Twenty fatality lists. However, neighboring Connecticut earned the dubious distinction of having the highest fatality rate on its rural roads.
A big, belated batch of congratulations….
Charlestown Police Officer Scott Campbell for saving the life of an unidentified man who overdosed on heroin on May 30. Officer Campbell was carrying the antidote drug Narcan and knew how to use it. Its timely administration stabilized the guy who OD’d so he could be transported to South County Hospital. CPD was one of the first police departments in Rhode Island to equip and train officers in the use of Narcan.
Vicky Hilton, Jay Primiano and the Charlestown Parks and Recreation Department were honored by their peers in the RI Parks and Recreation Association for running the best program in the state. That may be part of why the CCA Party purged Jay and dumped all his duties on Vicky in their push to make sure that Charlestown’s drops to the bottom of the rankings for recreation.
Lorén Spears, Executive Director, Tomaquag Museum
Loren Spears (Tomaquag Museum website)
Janice Falcone whose historic General Stanton Inn celebrates the 50th anniversary of their popular summer flea market. While some Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA Party) think the flea market is an eyesore, most of us think it’s a nice way to draw people to visit Charlestown. A little fun, a bargain or two and some untrammeled free market capitalism ought to be something the CCA could celebrate, but I guess they got stuck on the fun part. It’s that humorous dyscognition problem again. Anyway, I salute Janice for this and for keeping the historically vital General Stanton Inn alive.
Charlestown’s Loren Spears joins our friend, champion skater, Michelle Kwan, as a new appointee to the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. Loren is the director of the Tomaquag Museum, currently in Exeter but hopefully moving to great new digs in Westerly.
Charlestown as tourist destination gets congrats for lavish praise in the Boston Globe. Globe reporter Paul Kandarian wrote a glowing review of Charlestown’s attractions that might actually draw even more people to town this summer. While I don’t agree with all his picks for things to do and places to eat, he does generally get the picture that Charlestown is a really nice place. And tourists don’t have to be exposed to our toxic politics.
Carolina as a day-tripper’s delight was the theme of a big article with lots of interesting historical detail that ran in the New London Day. Quite a nice tribute to one of Charlestown’s undiscovered treasures.
Washington Trust collected 4.8 tons of peanut butter in its 15th annual drive on behalf of local food programs. It’s a smart move to focus on peanut butter, a stable, non-perishable, high-protein food that most families – except those with food allergies – love. This latest total increases Washington Trust’s tally of peanut butter collected to 230,000 pounds since they started doing it in 2001.
A headline I’ve been dreaming to see…. 
 ….Except, unfortunately, the article refers to a different CCA. But maybe someday….
Speaking of the CCA….
In the run-up to the June 1 Charlestown Financial Referendum, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA Party) pulled out all the stops to promote its open space ambitions by asserting their theory that families with children are parasites and that open space acquisition is the best pesticide for these vermin. These articles were all over the official CCA Party website, though some have been taken down. 
The CCA reasons that any unoccupied land not protected as open space will automatically become housing developments for families, that those families will have children, that those children will go to Chariho and will forever be a burden on taxpayers. 
Not only is that theory total bullshit (and there’s a new study out that we will cover more extensively that nails them for it), but it also betrays a sick bias. I noted that if you look on the CCA website, you’ll rarely see children depicted, except as parasites. Apparently, website editor Ruth Platner has decided to change that by quickly coming up with this item:

I doubt the CCA would list this if they hadn’t been called out.
Charlestown Crime and punishment
Our village is missing two idiots. According to the Attleboro Sun Chronicle, Ian W. Woodbine, 21, and Alexander M. Rastelli, 22, both of Charlestown, R.I., were arrested after firefighters got them down from the roof of 141 South Main St. around 2:30 a.m.” The pair told Attleboro people they were up on the roof looking for a friend. Right. Charges of disturbing the peace were dismissed when the pair agreed to perform community service.
More on the tomb stone theft. This follows up on the shocking story of Charlestown’s Kevin Maynard who allegedly stole hundreds of tombstones from the Veterans Cemetery in Exeter. These were tombstones that had been taken down and replaced, either for new wording or because they were damaged. They were supposed to be respectfully disposed of, but allegedly Maynard thought it was a good idea to use them for building materials around his property.
Channel 12 investigative reporters revealed that Maynard gave the State Police an affidavit where he “admitted that he removed gravestones” from the cemetery and he told investigators “he knew gravestones marked for destruction were to be taken to a facility that would crush them….”
Post Office Check bust. Another crime story in the news recently has a Charlestown connection. The arrest of four Rhode Island residents who worked at the central Post Office in Providence for stealing federal benefits checks worth $1.6 million was sparked by a complaint from an unnamed Charlestown federal retiree who complained that he never received $10,450 in retirement checks. Those checks were traced one of the defendants in the case who had deposited the checks into an account with a similar name.
I wonder who that retiree was and what name was on the alleged perpetrator’s account. Splattery? Schmattery? Shattery? Anyone?
Business Buzz
Local Walrus and Carpenter Oysters will hold its 3rd annual farm dinner series featuring six renowned Rhode Island chefs. These dinners will be held around the state to promote locally raised oysters and aquaculture. There won’t be one of these dinners in Charlestown since, as our readers know, the CCA Party hates aquaculture even though it is good for the health of our salt ponds in addition to creating jobs. But the interests of CCA Aqua-NIMBY supporters who hate the sight of shell-fishing in the ponds when they’re sipping martinis on their waterfront verandas tops that of pond ecology and the local economy.
Narragansett and Del’s come up with another special summertime brew after last summer’s successful lemonade-beer shandy. This summer they plan to mix Narragansett with black cherry for a Black Cherry Shandy. Lots of luck with that.
Rep Justin Price (R), contender for dumbest member of the
RI House of Representatives
Nexamp celebrated the start of operations of their 500 kilo-watt solar energy array on two acres of leased land Stilson Road in Richmond. Twenty construction jobs were created to build the array. Two peculiar characters were invited guests at the celebration – state Senator Elaine Morgan (R) who represents the northern half of Charlestown in addition to Richmond, Hopkinton and Exeter and state Rep. Justin Price (R-Wingnut). Both Morgan and Price are climate change deniers, but Price is stridently so.
Even though he told the Westerly Sun “I think it’s a great idea….It’s really a testament to what humans can do when they put their minds to it. A solar array like this — it’s going to be very positive for the Town of Richmond,” Price was apparently talking outside both sides of his mouth. EcoRI recently identified him as the only state Representative to vote against  a bill  to study the economic impacts of flooding caused by sea-level rise because, as EcoRI reported, he is a climate change denier.
Price defeated Rep. Larry Valencia (D), a thoughtful legislator and a strong environmentalist, in last November’s election.
Speaking of Sen. Elaine Morgan….
She was one of the five-member Republican Senate Caucus who promised to release the bank statements for their campaign accounts. This was in response to recent State House scandals involving the misuse of campaign money. However, despite her promise, Morgan was the only member of the Caucus who failed to cough up the statements. So much for promises of transparency.
We have a lot of goldfish as readers
I’m going to stop adding more news items to this edition of Charlestown Tapas because, according to a recent study by Microsoft, the internet combined with the use of personal electronic devices has reduced the attention span for most people to the point where it is less than goldfish.
I’m not making this up.
That means we can hold your attention for roughly eight seconds while your average goldfish can stay focused for up to nine seconds. So either we shorten our material or get more goldfish as readers.
Incidentally, since the Microsoft report is 54 pages, I didn’t have the patience to read it so I wrote this piece using one of the many news articles on that report.
The final item is the next one on jobs, since people needing work often have better attention spans.
Most of the jobs listed come from Rhode Island Community, a service of Brown University’s Swearer Center for Public Service. To get on their daily e-mail list for public sector and non-profit jobs, click here. Click on the highlighted links to get more information about each position.