Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Getcher red-hot Charlestown Tapas

Crunchy news bites back by popular demand
By Will Collette
But first, check out the baby goat which has nothing to
do with anything in this article.

One of the by-products of my summer semi-sabatical has been fewer editions of Charlestown Tapas, our special collection of news tidbits. But now that summer is over, I hope to catch up on the backlog and bring this popular feature back.

First, some congratulations.

To us here at Progressive Charlestown for hitting the two-million mark for page-reads (people actually reading an article not just “hits”). Tom Ferrio and I started Progressive Charlestown in January 2011 as an alternative voice on politics in Charlestown, and never expected this kind of readership.

Belated congrats to Charlestown Housing and Zoning official Joe Warner for being named by the Governor to the RI Building Code Standards Committee. It’s an important position, so this is yet another recognition of Joe’s good work.

And also congratulations to Vicky Hilton for being picked as full-time Parks & Recreation Director. Vicky had been serving as acting director after the forced resignation of her former boss Jay Primiano. Vicky deserves the job on merit, but no doubt the Town Council preferred hiring her than having to publicly post the job and then have to deal with an application from ex-Councilor Lisa DiBello who received special permission from the Ethics Commission to apply if the job was opened up.

Jane Weidman also gets congratulations for being bumped up from part-time to full-time Charlestown Town Planner. The move became pretty much a sure thing after Block Island dropped Weidman from their payroll as part-time planner (Weidman was doing the same job for both Charlestown and Block Island) – without explaining why. Those reasons matter naught in Charlestown where the key criteria for Town Planner is to do exactly what CCA Party matriarch and Planning Commission leader Ruth Platner wants.

Chuck Wentworth deserves high praise – and got it in a very nice Projo piece doing just that – for the just-completed 35th annual Rhythm and Roots Festival, one of the few remaining large events done in Ninigret Park. It’s hard to tell how long this tradition will continue, given the interest of many of the key Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA Party) backers in ending most human activity in Ninigret.

Another Charlestown resident also broke through the Providence Journal’s apparent disinterest in anything happening south of Warwick. Ana Flores was featured in an article about a travelling humanities art installation reflecting 500 Years of Latino History for her unusual art work that reflects her Cuban roots.

Congratulations to Robin Foote and former state Rep. Donna Walsh. They worked together for the passage of Colin’s Law, named after Colin Foote who was tragically killed in 2010 at West Beach and Route One by a repeat traffic law offender. Colin’s Law was designed to take dangerous drivers off the road and, according to the Westerly Sun, it’s actually being applied.

Mark DePasquale, developer of North Kingstown Green is very serious about wind energy, so serious that he built one of the state’s first commercial-sized turbines (411 feet high) literally in his own backyard. Of course, there was hand-wringing from anti-wind NIMBYs including one family who actually signed an agreement to move. But one thing led to another and the family decided to take DePasquale to court. After a long and winding path through the process, the case was dismissed. DePasquale hopes to build more land-based turbines, but not in North Kingstown which, like Charlestown, has a sweeping, NIMBY-inspired ban on wind energy.

Not only did no one’s head explode when Mark DePasquale’s wind turbine went on line in North Kingstown, but green energy is also keeping its promise to deliver jobs. The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources reports that the green energy industry in the state now supports 10,000 jobs.

The Matunuck Oyster Bar, just over the line in South Kingstown, is the only seafood restaurant in South County to join a Nature Conservancy initiative to recycle oyster shells to help restore Rhode Island’s once productive oyster reefs. The shells are collected and cleaned and then bagged in mesh to help rebuild the reefs and bring back oysters to our local waters. The Charlestown Citizens Alliance has resisted efforts in Charlestown to increase oyster aquaculture, even though the shellfish actually help clean up our salt ponds. But the Aqua-NIMBYs don’t like seeing unsightly work boats when they are sipping their Manhattans on their verandas.
One of my favorite foods, marshmallow Peeps®, announced this summer that they have decided to come out with a special Halloween/Thanksgiving version. I don’t know if my heart can stand this, but get ready for Pumpkin Spice Peeps®. Among Peeps® aficionados, there are two opinions about the way to eat Peeps® - fresh, soft and gooey or, in my opinion the most superior way, left to air-dry until they reach the consistency and texture of pumice.

Somewhat related is the Providence Business News report that Charlestown financial planner Malcolm Makin was named by Barron’s Magazine as one of the top financial advisers in the country. Makin was a major player in the failed Y-Gate caper and is a major donor to the CCA Party. And apparently, he’s very good at helping the rich get richer.

Condolences to the friends and family of Rollie Mars

Rev. Roland C. Mars ObituaryRev. Roland “Rollie” C. Mars, a Charlestown resident and member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe died last week at age 75. While his life was full of family and community service, veteran Providence Journal sports writer Bill Reynolds wrote a major tribute to “Rollie” Mars as one of Rhode Island sports’ pioneers of integration. Reynolds wrote about sports in the 1950s when very few players in any sport were anything other than white, but how Mars and his South Kingstown High School team mates transcended racism.

He told Reynolds during a meeting in Charlestown twenty years ago, "I can remember we used to come into all those white towns to play,'' he said one morning 20 years ago when we met in a Charlestown coffee shop, "but I never felt any discrimination, any prejudice, growing up. There weren't too many of us, and we knew there were sections of town we probably couldn't live in, but everyone got along. South Kingstown was Hometown, USA.'':


State Representative Justin Price (R-militia) of Richmond must be pleased that his idiotic campaign to block the RI Health Department from requiring that all public school seventh graders be vaccinated against the HPV virus known to cause several types of cancer scored a “victory.” The “victory” is the decision by the Health Department to cancel two remaining public information sessions after threats of violence were received. Classic thuggery from Price’s militia/Three Percenter buddies.

Connecticut public health authorities are concerned about an uptick (couldn’t resist) in the number of ticks they are finding carrying the microscopic parasite babesisos. Most people are aware of tick bites transmitting Lyme Disease, but that’s only one of several vile diseases you can get from ticks.

Speaking of parasites, the RI Division of Taxation’s new list of the state’s top 100 business tax deadbeats includes a number of Fortune 500. One of those is Applebee’s restaurant chain whose gourmet’s delight on Route One is probably on everyone’s route. If you needed an excuse, not to eat at Applebee’s, this is a good one.

Swain leaves Westerly Finance Commission position

In a Westerly Sun story that has to have a lot more back-story, Charlestown Tax Assessor Ken Swain announced he is resigning from Westerly’s Finance Board. He lives in Westerly and has served on that Board for 17 years, most recently as chair.

Zalle T. Rosso also resigned. She also has a Charlestown connection as the town’s former Town Treasurer. A third Board member, Teresa Guarnieri, has decided not to seek re-appointment when her term expires at the end of this month.

The Sun article was written by Dale Faulkner, the reporter who has done a great job of investigative journalism on the Copar Quarry story, so if there’s more to this, I’m sure Dale will dig it out.

Crime and Punishment

Veterans' gravestones used to line carport
From photos entered into the court record against
Maynard showing gravestones used as
garage flooring
One of our local villains this past summer is Charlestown’s Kevin Maynard. As a worker at the RI Veterans’ Cemetery in Exeter, Maynard decided to grab veterans’ gravestones that had been replaced and were awaiting a proper and dignified disposal. Maynard decided those head stones would make great paving material in his garage and backyard. He is pleading guilty to federal charges of stealing government property and has resigned from his job. Stars and Stripes had one of the most detailed descriptions of Maynard’s crime and lots of photos.

Here’s a surprise: Sam Cocopard, the career criminal who ran the infamous Copar Quarry, managed to beat the charges brought against him by the Armetta family who took over the quarry (and drove it into bankruptcy) and fired Cocopard. The family alleged that Cocopard stole granite from Copar to make restitution to Joe Vinagro, who had been defrauded by Cocopard in 2009. The court threw out the charges against Cocopard on both technical grounds and because there was a lack of clarity as to what crime Cocopard had committed.

Rhode Island Drivers: DO NOT drive with an air freshener dangling from your rear view mirror unless you want to get busted. Also, the odds of getting busted increase if you are black. And they really climb when you are seen coming out of a house where police are doing a surveillance looking for a person with an outstanding warrant.  That’s what 23 year old Dana Harris discovered in the Mount Hope neighborhood in Providence. Though the incident did not have the kind of tragic ending that so many other such police stops have had over the past year, Harris’s cell phone video of the incident was an instant viral sensation.

Veterans hope to memorialize their own

The long-forgotten site of the crash in Preston, CT that killed Navy pilots George Kraus and Merle Longnecker on October 19, 1944 was uncovered and a memorial is being planned. Kraus and Longnecker were among the long list of naval pilots memorialized in Ninigret Park as having lost their lives while training at the Ninigret Naval Auxiliary Air Field (NAAF).

Krause and Longnecker were practicing night-time dogfighting when their planes collided in midair, sending both men to their deaths over the site of the former Norwich Hospital. Local veterans Dick Vittorioso and John Waggoner, among others, hope to raise funds to erect the memorial.

But when it comes to veterans’ charities, WATCH OUT!

Innumerable veterans’ charities exist to try to make up for the failures of our government to properly take care of veterans and their families. Some are good at using donors’ money to fulfill their mission, others not so much. Many so-called charities are downright scams.
How much actually went to help wounded veterans?
A recent investigative journalism project conducted by Pro Publica, a public interest journalism group, shone a light on one of the country’s hottest veterans’ charities, the Wounded Warriors Project.

Just last June, the charity netted $5,500 from a big auto show in North Kingstown.

But Wounded Warrior CEO Steve Nardizzi thinks the public has no right to know how much of a charity’s income actually makes it to the intended beneficiaries. He helped to organize the Charity Defense Council, a group that wants to defend the image of charities with high overhead and executive compensation, modelling itself on the oil industry’s campaign to uplift its image.

In 2014, Nardizzi was paid $473,015. He and his top ten executives received around $2.6 million on revenue of $342 million. Over $1.1 million of that revenue came from selling or renting their donor list to other solicitors. Nardizzi blows off the criticism saying that list-selling is a common practice in the non-profit and for-profit world.

Whether all that money actually helps veterans, and not just the well-paid executives and public relations contractors is the real question. Some veterans’ groups have grumbled that the Wounded Warrior Project is spending too much money on self-promotion and not enough to actually help vets.

Bishop Tobin didn’t get the memo

"Screw the piping plovers!"
One of these days, we’re going to hear that Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Diocese of Providence has been summoned to Rome for a little talk with the boss, Pope Francis.
It seems that no matter how much Pope Francis tries to steer the Church back toward a broader vision of social, economic and environmental justice, ultra-conservatives like Tobin ramp up their monomaniacal attacks against abortion, gays and others they consider to be sinners.

In July, Tobin took to the Letters to the Editor pages of the Providence Journal to exploit the temporary closing of some Charlestown beach paths during piping plover nesting season to push one of his pet causes.

Even though Pope Francis had just issued his encyclical officially making care of the environment a Catholic priority, Tobin’s letter set up a false choice, writing (and I’m not making this up) So, is that the point at which we’ve arrived as a culture? That we protect birdies and dismember babies? Wow!”
My own “wow!” reaction to this screed was that he would make it an either-or. I sure hope Tobin’s letter made it into Pope Francis’ collection of daily clippings. Maybe the Pope might pull Tobin aside during his upcoming visit to the US to have a little chat with him about the new direction Francis is taking the Church (and maybe advise Tobin to update his resume).
I never knew this

It looks like Charlestown’s state Rep. Flip Filippi (I/R from Lincoln or Providence) had Patriots legendary wide receiver Randy Moss as one of his neighbors at one of Flipper’s several home addresses. But not for long. Moss has put his Lincoln McMansion at 97 Wilbur Road, practically next door to Filippi’s cattle ranch, on the market for $749,000 which is a bargain since this is 40% less than what Moss paid for it in 2008.

Speaking of Pirates...

Don't forget that September 19 is international Talk Like a Pirate Day, one of the few holidays I actually enjoy. Arrrrrr!

In November, the ALDI grocery chain plans to open a new outlet nearby, taking part of the vacant space in Franklin Plaza on Route One in Westerly that once housed a Shaw’s Supermarket. The ALDI chain is known for its unusual practices that keep prices low and quality high. Like its sister company, Trader Joes which is owned by the same German corporate parent, its practices have won it a lot of American fans (myself included). 

Their stores are a lot smaller than the usual American supermarket and so is their selection which is dominated by their own, high-quality store brands. You have to bring a quarter to get a shopping cart, refunded when you return it, as well as your own shopping bags, unless you are willing to buy bags, and you also must pay by cash or debit card.

ALDI is looking to hire at least 10 to work in the Westerly store. When I’ve shopped at ALDI in Cranston or Warwick, I’ve noticed they pay a minimum of between $12 and $15 an hour.
They are also expanding in Connecticut where they currently have 22 stores.

The YMCA of Greater Providence is still looking for a personal trainer to work in Peace Dale. For more information, click HERE.

Camp JORI in South Kingstown is looking for a camp director to start work on September 31. For more information, click HERE.

To receive a daily e-mail with new listings of job openings in the public service and non-profit sectors, click HERE. Rhode Island Community Jobs is a service of Brown University’s Swearer Center for Public Service