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Saturday, October 31, 2020

If you still have a mail-in ballot, time to fill it out and stick it in the drop-off box at Town Hall

UPDATED: Langevin endorses Democrats for Town Council

By Will Collette

These three CRU Town Council candidates have also been endorsed by the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee as well as our Congressman, Rep. Jim Langevin. Please vote for them and the entire CRU slate.

UPDATE: Rep. Jim Langevin has issued a rare endorsement of local candidates by formally endorsing Charlestown Democrats Deb Carney, Jodi Frank and Scott Keeley for Town Council. 

In his statement, Langevin said:
"Each of these candidates offers a unique set of attributes and a staunch commitment to public service that will benefit the people of Charlestown. With their different experiences and their commitment to the community, they are the most qualified team to help Charlestown get through this difficult time and ensure every citizen will be heard.”
We have 6,115 active, registered voters in Charlestown and as of Friday Thursday, 3,392 2,964 of them had voted either by in-person early voting or by mail. That’s 55.5% a tad under 50%.

There is also a new on-line tool you can use to track your vote. I used it to confirm my mail-in ballot was received and my vote has been registered. CLICK HERE to check on your own vote status.

Some of the outcomes in Charlestown are very predictable. For example, we expect a Charlestown majority for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, for Sen. Jack Reed and US Rep. Jim Langevin. Charlestown state Rep. Blake “Flip” Filippi (R-Somewhere) has no opponent. State Senator Dennis Algiere (R-Westerly) faces only a write-in candidate, Justin Dunn.

Where the fireworks are

If you're north of One, please vote for Jennifer
But we have a very competitive – and important – state Senate race for the district that includes most of north of One Charlestown, pitting an incumbent and one of the worst state senator Elaine Morgan (R-Hopkinton) against smart and capable Democrat, Jennifer Douglas of Charlestown. 

If I was in that District (Senate District 34), I’d be voting for Jennifer.

Then we have our municipal races where our town rulers in the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA Party) seek to retain power against a full slate mustered by Charlestown Residents United (CRU).

The CRU slate includes a full five candidates for Town Council, three endorsed by the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee and two by the Republican State Committee.

This year, the two sides’ financials are more evenly matched than I have ever seen in ten years of following the money in Charlestown.

As usually, most of the fund-raising was done in the last couple months of the campaign.

The CCA Party usually counted on at least half its money coming from non-residents. However this year, the CCA Party’s non-resident funding fell off substantially.

Of the $12,518 raised by the CCA Party and reported in their final campaign finance reports, less than $2,000 came from non-residents. I doubt that will change the CCA Party’s bias for non-residents often over the interests of those of us who actually live here.

The CRU’s filings show that they raised $9,557, all of it from Charlestown residents. That’s the smallest funding gap between the CCA Party and its opponents ever.

Most of the money raised by the CCA Party and CRU has been spent on yard signs and mailings.

Both CRU and the CCA Party have been battling in the letters to the editor columns of our local newspapers, all of which are owned by RI Suburban Newspapers.

Leaving aside the very civil game of verbal badminton both the CCA Party and CRU use in those letters to call each other liars, here are some blunt reasons why I believe you should vote to END the CCA Party’s decade long Reign of Error.

The CCA Party is incompetent

A recent example is the CCA Party’s touting the release of a draft 10 Year Town Comprehensive Plan. It’s a long and complicated document, though not difficult to read.

However there’s a problem that directly relates to the CCA Party’s competence: it’s late by seven years.

Our current Comprehensive Plan expired on April 27, 2013. Work on the re-write began about three years earlier. During that whole time, CCA Party co-founder Ruth Platner was chair of the Planning Commission.

Right before the election, Ruthie unveils the draft plan. Mikey Chambers, the CCA Party’s main propagandist, hails the event as if Ruth brought the (draft) Plan down on tablets from Mount Sinai. They posted this stuff on NextDoor, a neighborhood blog run by a national corporation that generally tries to filter out politics.

I pissed on their parade by noting how late the plan is,and that most of Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns have already finalized their plans and won state approval. Mikey got very upset at me for “politicizing” NextDoor by pointing these facts out. Hey, Mikey, you guys need to do your homework on time.

They are fear-mongers. 

Ever since the CCA Party launched itself to oust Charlestown curmudgeon Jim Mageau from the Town Council in 2008, the CCA Party has thrived on creating and then attacking all manner of boogeymen.
THIS ARTICLE covers many of them.

The most outrageous, in my opinion, was the creation from whole cloth of the Ninigret Park crisis, founded on the theory that a rejected proposal for state funding for a lighted sports field for Pee-Wee Football practice would set off a chain of events leading to the US Interior Department taking back Ninigret Park.

It was insane and ridiculous but was pumped up by the CCA Party into such a crisis that it took a visit from a top official of the National Parks Service to debunk the lies the CCA Party used to get everyone in town upset.

It didn’t end there, as the “Battle for Ninigret Park” morphed into the CCA Party’s “Kill Bill Campaign” that was aimed at ousting town administrator Bill DiLibero, largely because he would not go along with the fiction the CCA Party had created about Charlestown’s rights to Ninigret Park. In the end, Bill lost his job.

Just about every year, some other existential threat gets surfaced by the CCA Party. Some are genuine threats, most are exaggerated. Sometimes they involve the Narragansett Indian Tribe which the CCA Party treats as an enemy, to the point of paying attorney Joe Larisa a retainer fee of $24,000 to watch the Tribe – and when he spots suspicious activity by the Tribe, we pay him more.

A threat by the Tribe is anything the Tribe might want to do that does not have the town’s advance, expressed approval.

If this is not outright institutional racism, I don’t know what is. I would hope that among the first acts of our new Town Council, however constituted, would be to terminate our retainer contract with Larisa.

They are the party of exclusion

The CCA Party is a closed loop institution in every respect. On a micro level, you can’t join the CCA, can’t go to their meetings, can’t see their minutes but you do have to live with the results of their secret decision-making.

In their running of town government, they promote secrecy by skewing the state’s open records law to make it difficult to monitor shady land deals involving the spending of public money to buy property from people tied to the CCA Party. SPA-Gate is the current example. CLICK HERE to read more about SPA-Gate and the cover-up.

This population projection, created in 2006 in the town's current
Comprehensive Plan, shows that we expected to have 9,768 people
in 2020. The CCA Party's exclusionary policy actually shrunk
our population from 2006 to its present 7,7,80.

On a macro level, the CCA Party is dedicated to keeping outsiders out, with an exception made for rich retirees who wish to buy a “cottage” on the shore.

The CCA Party explicitly tries to block affordable housing of all types and new housing designed to attract families with children. 

The phrase I’ve heard most often is the need to keep “those people from Providence” from soiling our “rural character.”

Planning Commissar Ruth Platner actually devised a mathematical formula to support her position that school-age children are parasites who eat up more tax revenue than they create. Once taking up a whole page, Ruthie's math has been taken down from the CCA Party website.

As the following profile shows, Charlestown is one of the worst towns in the state for exclusionary policies. You need an annual income of $105,959 to buy a median priced house in Charlestown. You probably won't be able to find a rental.

We have had ten solid years of total control of Charlestown town government by the CCA Party and examples too numerous to list of actions they have taken that betray the public trust.

In the remaining time or on Election Day itself, I urge you to do your civic duty and vote and to vote for Biden-Harris, Reed, Langevin, Jennifer Douglas (if you are in her district) and the CRU slate.