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Friday, October 28, 2022

ICYMI: There are no independents in the Charlestown Citizens Alliance

CCA-sponsored town officials must obey or die

By Will Collette

This article originally ran on October 6 and is being posted again as the days tick off before Election Day.

The CCA’s magic word for these 2022 elections has to be “independent.” It appears in all their letters to the Westerly Sun and their blog posts. They claim – contrary to the evidence of the past 12 years – that all their elected or appointed officials make their own decisions and follow their own consciences.

Take, for example, freshmen Council members Susan Cooper and Cody Clarkin. Cooper is running for re-election. Clarkin is not since he has already moved to Westerly – and lied about it.

Their first big test was whether to re-appoint attorney Joe Larisa to his $25,000+ gig as Charlestown’s Indian fighter. That’s his whole job: watch the Narragansett Tribe and block anything that might improve their quality of life. Tribal leaders have been pretty clear they consider him to bea racist.

In their first vote in December 2020, Susan Cooper broke with the CCA and voted against renewing Larisa’s contract. Clarkin, a former Eagle Scout, voted for renewal, despite the Boy Scouts stated position against institutional racism. I guess you could say that young Cody declared he's an "independent" when it comes to his scout's honor.

Cooper had clearly been taken to the woodshed behind the CCA’s secret headquarters for her unfortunate vote of conscience because she decided to lead the push to reverse the outcome of her own vote. Roberts Rules of Order lets you do that, to bring a motion to reconsider, provided you voted with the majority. But you can only do that once.

She failed on the first attempt because her CCA colleague Bonnita Van Slyke was absent, leading to a 2-2 deadlock, meaning Larisa’s contract was not renewed.

But, contrary to Roberts Rules, Cooper pushed for a second vote to reconsider. This time Van Slyke showed up, no doubt under threat by CCA Central, and the vote was 3-2 to renew the contract of the odious Mr. Larisa.

Since then, the current CCA-3 council majority followed their instructions from CCA Party Central. Except once.

Cody Clarkin surprised everyone by recusing himself from voting on the notorious Richard Property land scam that has Planning Commissar Ruth Platner and her Platnoids underwear in a twist. Clarkin noted a family member is an abutter to the property.

Because that meant another 2-2 deadlock, the CCA did not push a vote on the Richard Property rather than lose. But they decided to blame Council President Deb Carney and Councilor Grace Klinger rather than young Cody.

Clarkin is now beyond the reach of the CCA’s wrath, having moved to Westerly and is not running for re-election. He did split the difference with his Party masters though by concocting the story that he’sliving with his parents and thus eligible to keep his seat until the election. He had been told by Ruth Platner a year ago to say nothing about his move.

I’ll repeat my observation about the depths of the CCA’s depravity and demand for total obedience: they can even corrupt an Eagle Scout.

These are only the most recent examples. In fact, the CCA has operated like Charlestown’s version of the Politburo almost since its inception, the main difference being Charlestown’s lack of tall buildings they can use to stage their opponents’ suicides.

Let’s take a look back and continue with article I wrote last July called “What is the CCA?”

The CCA came into being officially in 2008 with the expressed purpose of ousting then Town Council President Jim Mageau. They succeeded by crushing Mageau in the 2008 election and installed their own slate.

This slate, like every other CCA slate, swore allegiance to the CCA platform. Thinking that this is what they were doing, they supported the development of the controversial Whalerock industrial wind turbine project that had been proposed for the crest of the Charlestown Moraine.

After all, the CCA had just done a survey showing overwhelming support for wind energy for Charlestown and CCA leader Tom Gentz made a lengthy power point presentation to the Council supporting wind energy and even backed a town-owned turbine in Ninigret Park.

But neither the CCA-sponsored Council members nor most of Charlestown except the highest ranking CCA insiders, knew that Gentz and then CCA President Dan Slattery were secretly instigating resistance to the Whalerock project in return for political support from the Sachem Passage Association.

The 2008 CCA Council slate was effectively thrown under the bus and purged in the 2010 election. It was a stunning bit of treachery. That plus the Y-Gate land scam actually inspired Tom Ferrio and I to start Progressive Charlestown, if only to keep track of all the jaw-dropping bullshit spewing from the CCA.

The Whalerock controversy was ultimately settled when a near consensus emerged for purchase of the property by the town for $2.1 million. It was one of the only times when Ruth Platner and I ever agreed on a major issue.

Naturally, the CCA was not satisfied with providing their new bought-and-paid-for constituency with a $2.1 million taxpayer funded bailout. They decided to shore up support with another CCA constituency, the Charlestown Land Trust, by gifting the land to them.

That was too much for Charlestown voters who resoundingly defeated the proposal to give away the land. This groundswell of opposition nearly took down another ballot question to react a $2 million open space bond fund – it passed by only 11 votes.

Over the next several election cycles, the Town Council was ruled by CCA leaders Boss Tom Gentz and Deputy Dan Slattery who brooked no deviations from the CCA party line from any of the junior CCA councilors.

The CCA also systematically purged non-CCA volunteers from every town commission that had any power: Budget, the Zoning Board of Review, Charter Review Advisory Commission (CRAC), Parks and Recreation, Economic Improvement, etc. Talented and experienced members were replaced with CCA cronies, many of whom turned out to be incompetent embarrassments. The only real criterion was total loyalty to the CCA party line.

I often myself marveling at the extraordinary demands of being a CCA loyalist. The CCA has very little driving policy beyond buying land and protecting absentee landowners. That in itself is not enough to win elections so the CCA routinely uses one of the most effective political motivators of all: FEAR.

This has often meant creating boogeymen and telling lies to get people all upset so they then look to the CCA to save them. The Great Charlestown Choo-choo Hoax is the best current example, a totally concocted issue that pushes a lot of buttons through sheer terror. Platner has shown disgraceful conduct and owes Charlestown residents an apology.

Among the scary things the CCA has used: fear of the Narragansett Tribe; fear that the National Park Service will take back Ninigret Park if we don’t stop having public events there; fear of affordable housing that might be occupied by families with children or (shudder) people from Providence.

The CCA started out promoting fear of Jim Mageau, but since then, they have stoked fear against developers, AMTRAK, poachers, lower taxes for full-time residents, chain stores, the state Water Resource Board, asphalt, RIPTA, lights, signs, and of course Democrats whom they inextricably tie – without evidence – to developers.

I can’t deny fear has worked for them. Fear is a powerful force especially when you have no hesitation about making up lies to spin people up.

This year, the CCA seems to be trying to sell voters on the fear that, unless the CCA retains power, our “rural character” and ecosystem will collapse. Only by holding onto power will our Planning Commissar Ruth Platner be able to buy the remaining vacant land left in town before the evil developers get it.

"Dear Westerly Sun..."
All the CCA-bots running for office will nod in agreement, independently of course, while other CCA-bots will write their letters to the Sun singing the CCA anthem and waving their Little Green Books.