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Friday, October 14, 2022

Charlestown Chunks #12

Abortion win, cannabis vote, Flip on drugs, Kalus gets tax cut YOU can’t have, drought and pandemic still here.

By Will Collette

Benson V. Raimondo case turned down by US Supreme Court on October 11.

Source: Wikipedia
It may not seem like much after the Supremes overturned Roev. Wade, denying women’s reproductive rights. But the court’s decision not to hear an appeal from the Catholic Church in the three-year old case is worthy of celebration. Catholics for Life had tried to establish that human rights begin at the moment of conception but lost at every level in the state and federal courts.

Trump’s Supreme Court appointees turned the court far to the right, evidenced by the Dodd decision that overturned Roe, so it was a surprise that they turned down a case where they could stake out an even more radical position. The Boston Globe published an excellent analysis of the history of the case and its impact.

You get to vote on cannabis for Charlestown.

I'm voting YES
Now that Rhode Island has legalized the purchase and use of cannabis for personal recreational use, the next question is where you can legally buy it. The state law provides for local marijuana stores to be established IF voters approve a local referendum to the right👉 

If Charlestown voters approve the referendum, then Charlestown may allow a cannabis business to set up in Charlestown under “reasonable” terms and conditions. In Charlestown, that is in the eye of the beholder.

The Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA) has been distinctly hostile to any retail establishment, no matter what they sell. 

They’ve used every tool at their disposal – zoning restrictions on parking, lighting, signage, shrubbery, materials, etc. to break down most businesses that try to make a go of it in Charlestown. All the closed and vacant businesses, especially on Route One, make Charlestown the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams (thank you, Green Day).”

The CCA claims, in its infinite wisdom and kindness, that it is giving voters “the option to decide for themselves” whether to allow cannabis businesses into town. 

They don’t have much choice, since failure to put the question to the voters means that Charlestown cedes the authority to the new State Commission overseeing the marijuana program.

On the upside, if we welcome in new cannabis businesses, the town will receive 3% of the gross. I’d love to see the Tribe get a license – they already have the Smoke Shop and wouldn’t even need to change the sign. A friend suggested another venue could be the Old Umbrella Factory which certainly has a whiff of spliff in its history. However, they’d have to improve their handicapped access (so would the Tribe).

If Charlestown tight asses vote the referendum down, Charlestown cannot restrict residents from buying for personal use in Westerly or South Kingstown and bringing it home. Plus, you can grow your own – up to six including three mature plants, though not a weed ranch.

Flip must be good on this.

Our out-going state Representative Blake “Flip” Filippi seems to be going all in on legalizing drugs. I reported his recent public campaign to legalized magic mushrooms/psilocybin for use on veterans with mental disorders based on one study by Johns Hopkins where even the authors say much more research needs to be done.

Flip has since expanded the scope of his campaign saying:

Sure, the use of psychedelics like magic mushrooms and peyote (which has similar effects but from an entirely different chemical agent) have long been used for religious purposes in many indigenous cultures around the world. And yes, there have been scientific studies on the use of hallucinogens to treat certain types of mental illness.

However, Flip is not a shaman, nor is he qualified to give medical advice on the merits of consuming powerful, mind-altering drugs.

Anyway, I expect Flip will hit the campaign trail to support a “YES” vote in Charlestown to allow a pot store to set up in town. Also, I’ve heard he has been campaigning for the re-election of his radical insurrectionist colleague, Rep. Justin Price. 

Report details housing costs in South County.

Yeah, housing in South County is as unaffordable as ever, according to a new report cited in Patch.

Here is the data summary:

  • Population: 129,839
  • Total housing units: 65,694
  • Q3 2022 median home price: $588,000
  • Year-over-year median home price growth: 12 percent
  • Annualized weekly wages: $57,460
  • Year-over-year wage growth: 2.8 percent
  • Q3 2022 Affordability Index: 75.29

Read the full report HERE.

Ashley Kalus’s crazy, mixed-up life.

In the 1870s, the South was exploited by
"carpetbaggers" from the North, looking to
profit from the post-war devastation. Now comes
Ashley Kalus from Florida, or maybe Illinois,
to wreak havoc here. (Wikipedia)
Carpetbagger Ashley Kalus (R) is running against incumbent Dan McKee for Governor. One of the minimum requirements to run for this office is to actually live in Rhode Island. She barely does.

Based on property records from Florida and Illinois, it’s hard to tell where she actually lives. We know she bought a house in Newport last year and registered to vote earlier this year. 

But property records in Illinois show that she and her husband are collecting a Homestead property tax exemption on their home in the tony northern suburbs of Chicago. You can’t get a Homestead tax break unless the property is your permanent residence.

She also owns a home in the Florida Keys and may be getting a Homestead credit there, too – even though those records show her as declaring the Illinois house as her residence. Published reports show that Kalus voted in Florida in 2020 (and calls Ron DeSantis, Florida’s fascist Governor, her role model).

To top it off, the mortgage application she filed for her Newport house lists the Newport house as a “second residence.”

She has given a variety of convoluted reasons for how she can live in three places at once and still be as dedicated a Rhode Islander as Roger Williams. But, in my opinion, none of them pass the smell test.

McKee hit Kalus with a charge that the only reason she’s running is as a grudge over the state Health Department’s decision to terminate a lucrative COVID testing and vaccination project. That seemed to take Kalus by surprise, but not really when you look at the documentation HERE and HERE.

What I do want to flag is how often we find that candidates for public office in Rhode Island are collecting a Homestead deduction on their property tax. 

Failed House District 2 candidate Sarah Morgenthau was getting a Homestead credit on her home in DC and on her new house in North Kingstown

Kerry King (R) collected a $50,000 Homestead tax credit in Florida at the same time he was running for Lieutenant Governor. In every jurisdiction, you must be a permanent resident to get a Homestead credit.

In Charlestown, the CCA went nuts when we suggested a Homestead Credit here. Increasingly, we’re becoming an outlier. Our neighbors in Narragansett and North Kingstown and many of the people who move to Charlestown or live her part-time receive Homestead benefits where they come from. 

But the CCA and its now-deceased parent, the RI Statewide Coalition, stormed the Council meeting where it was discussed, condemning it as communistic and grossly unfair to all those nice rich people who come here every summer.

By the way, the town is sponsoring a clean-up day on Saturday for volunteers drawn from the permanent residents are encouraged to go out and clean-up the summer people’s roadside trash. Am I the only one who sees the irony in this?

Our summer hordes cost taxpayers who live here year-round a lot of money for infrastructure that the summer people need but go unused the rest of the year. Plus, we're supposed to go out and clean up after them.

That’s why Homestead credits are so popular and widespread. Let the CCA show that it is loyal to those of us who live and vote here, and not just to those summer visitors who send the CCA big campaign checks.

Drought is still here and so is the pandemic.

Despite all the rain we’ve received in the past month – almost 8 inches since September 1 - South County, especially along the coast, is still in “moderate” drought. That’s certainly far better than the “extreme” and “exceptional” levels we were at in July. However, it came too late to save our already fragile trees from more damage and to prevent damage to crops, impacting apples and of all things, Christmas trees.

It is still prudent to save water since the climate crisis will almost certainly find more ways to challenge us.

In my last “Chunks,” I noted the phenomenon that most of the public and certainly most of elected officials have decided by fiat that the pandemic is over, despite the statistics showing our rate of infection remains at pandemic levels even though most new COVID cases never get reported since the widespread use of home testing kits.

Even one of my doctors caught it…twice, getting the second hit after taking the recommended round of Paxlovid.

The State Health Department no longer gives daily statistics, just weekly, but we are still running an average of 145-160 cases per 100,000 not counting cases caught by home testing. As a reminder, our rate on the 4th of July last year was a dozen per 100,000.

Every day, approximately 500 Americans die unnecessarily from COVID. Get all your boosters, please, including the new bivalent COVID vaccine that works on the new variants. And your flu shots.