Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Charlestown Chunks #4: Lawyers,. guns and COVID

All the local news that doesn't fit into a regular-sized article

By Will Collette

Sparsely attended "rally" of Fat White Guys Against Sensible Gun Control (screenshot from Scott McKay's twitter site). That's our state "Senator" Elaine Morgan to the right (of course) wearing a Deborah Birx scarf. She also spoke.


It's never too early to teach your child how to fire a machine gun
As the General Assembly nears the close of its session, it seems likely that some new gun control measures will be enacted. They won't be enough to stop our outrageous gun violence, but they will be steps in the right direction. They will also infuriate right-wing gun nuts (see photo above). 

Nice to see Sen. Elaine Morgan, the Trumplican who represents the northern half of Charlestown had the guts to defy logic,  decency and the vast majority of voters to put gun rights ahead of innocent gun violence victims.

Her two local Trumplican colleagues, Blake "Flip" Filippi and Mad Dog Justin Price, have largely stayed out of the limelight. That's hard for Flip to do since he started mainlining publicity upon his entry into politics even though he not only supports gun rights but also illegal armed private militias. 

I suspect Justin Price is hiding in a cave with a small arsenal of automatic weapons waiting for the FBI to show up with an arrest warrant for his participation in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.


You need to stop saying the pandemic is fading or listening to anyone who says that it is. The pandemic is NOT going away. 

In Rhode Island, our infection rates are higher than they were a year ago and there are two new variants that are even more contagious than the Omicron BA 2.12.1 variant that has been infecting so many of your friends and family. 

The two new variants – BA.4 and BA.5 - are even more adept at evading antibodies to re-infect those who have had COVID already or break through those who are fully vaccinated. But getting fully vaccinated and masking up are still your best protection from landing in the hospital or dying. 

But that’s something many fully vaccinated adults aren’t doing. Instead, they are treating COVID like it’s gone and are going to big events, restaurants and taking long trips unmasked. My nephew Chris and his wife both got sick from COVID after an unmasked trip to a California wedding – a super-spreader event. Chris says he and the others were guilty of “magical thinking” that they were safe when they weren't. 

Guardian columnist Brigid Delaney says the pandemic has undergone “social death” where, though it is still all around us, nobody wants to talk about it anymore. 

Some alarming new research shows that even mild break-through cases can lead to “long COVID” effects. A new article in Fortune magazine states that studies are showing long COVID in COVID survivors at rates ranging from 10% to 80% with the most recent estimate at 23 million people. The article does a great job at laying out the effects and symptomology of long COVID. 

It’s been said before that just because we’re done with COVID doesn’t mean COVID is done with us. 

Other than knowing the infection rate is high, we don’t really know how many people are getting sick. Our vapid Gov. Dan McKee (right) has effectively dismantled the state testing system, plus most households now have home testing kits. 

There is NO mechanism to get home-test positive readings counted. Thus, all reported case statistics are grossly undercounted. And that’s without considering those who had asymptomatic COVID and didn’t use a home-test. 

A new survey of cases in New York City by researchers at CUNY indicated the real number of people with COVID is actually thirty times higher than the official count. 

McKee has been a leading voice of denial in Rhode Island telling people the pandemic is over and to go out and spend money in restaurants. COVID be damned. 

His approach epitomizes Rhode Island’s major problems: lack of leadership. A third top-ranking Health Department official, interim department director Dr. James McDonald, has resigned. Dr. McDonald took over when Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott resigned a few months ago after clashing with McKee over COVID policy. Tom McCarthy, former executive director of COVID-19 response, also resigned, explicitly blaming McKee for politicizing COVID response. McDonald said he was leaving for family reasons: to care for his very elderly parents. 

It’s not known who’s left on the Health Department bench to replace McDonald. Maybe McKee has a veterinarian crony from Cumberland who needs a job. Or maybe he just doesn’t give a shit. 

Ritacco released on bail

Speaking of corrupt politicians, on June 1, former Westerly Democratic Town Committee chair Bob Ritacco was formally charged with two counts of first-degree sexual assault.

Both charges are capital offenses in Rhode Island that carry the potential for a life sentence. 

He was released on a $20,000 surety bond. 

These rape charges result from an alleged rape that took place almost exactly one year ago. 

This is not Ritacco’s first time under a legal or ethics cloud. CLICK HERE for more. 

Shoreline access bill passes House 

Here's the fence bill co-sponsor and full-time hypocrite Rep. Blake "Flip"
Filippi erected - illegally - in from of his own beach front property on
Block Island (Block Island Times photo)
The full House voted unanimously to pass H8055, the bill produced by the shoreline access commission. While that’s good news to local activists like Charlestown’s Scott Keeley, the compromise bill may face a harder sell in the state Senate. 

The bill would ensure people can walk along the beach freely up to six feet above the high tide line. It doesn’t address how you actually get to the beach. Parking is restricted or expensive all over the coast. 

Beach property owners, ranging from fake fire districts to out of state owners to beachfront business owners – such as bill co-sponsor Blake “Flip” Filippi – have notoriously blocked public paths to the beach. In 2015, Filippi erected a fence across the entire beach in front of one of his properties (see photo above). 

Alex Nunes at Rhode Island’s The Public’s Radio reports that despite the unanimous vote in the House, there is no Senate version of the bill and the bill is not a priority for the Senate leadership. 

Nunes quotes an e-mail from Senate spokesperson Greg Paré that the bill “is not a focus at this time” and the Senate has “not had hearings on it or conducted any of the necessary diligence on it at this point.” 

Accidental Gov. Dan McKee has not committed one way or the other, but that’s par for the course for him. 

To become law, bills must pass both houses of the General Assembly and then be signed by the Governor. The General Assembly plans to adjourn in a couple of weeks. 

Animal Rights group calls for federal investigation of Mystic Aquarium

Free these intelligent creatures from the taunts of children
Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN), a national animal welfare group with a history of successfully challenging animal abuses, filed a formal complaint with the US Department of Agriculture over the mistreatment leading to death of beluga whales at the popular Mystic Aquarium. 

We reprinted an excellent piece by Charlestown’s Cynthia Drummond in EcoRI last April on the deaths of beluga whales at the Aquarium. 

After Cynthia’s article ran in EcoRI, I cut back Progressive Charlestown’s coverage of Mystic Aquarium, including their events, seal releases in Charlestown and other news, pending a change in policy by the Aquarium. 

In my opinion, Mystic made the classic organizational mistake of taking on too much by those importing sick belugas from Canada. More belugas, more ticket sales. 

Belugas are remarkable, intelligent marine mammals. But none of these wonderful creatures whose intelligence rivals that of humans should be kept in watery cages unless there is a genuine medical reason why they can’t be released into the wild. 

I have long admired Mystic’s marine mammal rescue program that has saved, healed and then released hundreds of seals and sea lions usually from Charlestown’s beaches. 

As much as I have loved watching whales in the wild, watching them in a tank is just plain sad.HEALTH 

Million dollars to Tomaquag 

When the Champlin Foundation of Providence announced its new grant awards, one grant really stood out: a million dollar grant to the Tomaquag Museum to help it build a comprehensive, four-building campus on 18 acres of rural University of Rhode Island land in South Kingstown” to honor the history and culture of Rhode Island’s indigenous people. 

I wish this project could have been built in Charlestown, perhaps in Ninigret Park. But Tomaquag’s partnership with URI makes a lot more sense. 

If this project had been proposed for Charlestown, it would have faced bloody resistance from the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA), the town’s professional Indian fighter attorney Joe Larisa and a death struggle with Planning Commissar Ruth Platner. All are committed to maintaining institutional racism in Charlestown largely centered on the Narragansetts. 

Tomaquag Executive Director Lorén M. Spears said this about the Champlin grant: 

“Support and enthusiasm for our campaign continues to grow, and this gift from Champlin further underscores the momentum we have for elevating the stories of Indigenous people and engaging more Rhode Islanders in exploring, understanding, and honoring that legacy.”

Jonnycake Center forms another partnership

In the last Charlestown Chunks, I wrote about a new partnership between Wakefield’s Jonnycake Center and Wood River Health Services to provide food, nutrition and services to pregnant women, babies and small children. 

The Independent reports another partnership, this time between the Jonnycake Center and the Westerly Credit Union to help low-income households with trashed credit rebuild their credit rating, using $500 micro-loans. 

Having a decent credit history is one of those things you don’t appreciate until you lose it and find you can’t rent an apartment or get a car loan. 

Those who receive the micro-loan will get credit counseling and home finance education and will be expected to pay back the loan in one year. The idea is to show a pattern of reliability to help lift credit scores higher. 

Said Jonnycake Center director Kate Brewster, “The credit union wanted to do more for the community at the time the Jonnycake Center identified the housing problem for rentals for low-income individuals and families… Without a good credit score, they may be unable to qualify for housing in a tight market where rentals are scarce anyway.” 

Save Spanish 

In my youth, an anarchist friend of mine used to tell me “petitioning the government is like pissing in the wind.” Though that’s still mostly true 50 years later, there are some petitions worth signing. 

Alex Korus has started up a petition to try to save K-12 Spanish-language classes at Chariho as the district cuts back after voters twice defeated their proposed budget. 

Alex makes the sound argument that this will hurt students’ ability to compete for college admissions. He notes it’s easier to learn languages when you’re young – I can certainly attest to that. Then there’s the fact that Spanish is the largest second-language in the US spoken by almost 42 million people. 

Support Alex and his fellow Chariho Middle Schoolers by signing the petition HERE.

Free daily digest

If you would like to get a daily listing via e-mail of all the articles in the current Progressive Charlestown, look for the graphic shown to the right. 

Fill in your e-mail and click "Subscribe."

This e-mail contains a link to each article to save you from having to scroll down.

You'll find this subscription box in the right-hand column just a few inches down. The graphic on the right is not "live." It's just a graphic.