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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Some honesty about protecting water in Charlestown

The real ‘monkey in the room’

By Frank Glista

Source: RI Water Resources Board

This article first appeared as a Letter To the Editor in The Westerly Sun on June 5. 
Note: Former Town Council President James Mageau also wrote a letter in response to Mr. Jacobsen. It can be read here.

In a recently published letter by Roy Jacobsen entitled, “Charlestown should be worried about water” (May 27), Mr. Jacobsen questions when the new Town Council will address the need for property that will serve as a source for fresh water. As a supporter of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance, one would wonder why he didn’t approach the CCA Town Council regarding this matter during their 12-year reign of power?

He also fails to acknowledge that the CCA attempted to deny a property owner’s right to sell their family’s land to the state of Rhode Island’s Water Resources Board back in 2015. This purchase eliminated the development of eight residential and two commercial buildings while providing 20 acres of open space, a wildlife habitat and a protected a water source for future generations.

Keep in mind that the CCA Town Council majority and Planning Commission Chairwoman Ruth Platner worked tirelessly to undermine this private sale. Not only were attacks levied against me and my family, but also against former Water Resources Board General Manager Ken Burke. But now, thanks to the Water Resources Board, this property is protected in Charlestown in spite of the efforts of the CCA.

In 2016, there was a meeting at the Quonnie Grange which was attended by a number of residents from Quonochontaug, where Mr. Jacobsen lives.

One of the speakers at this meeting was Lorraine Joubert, who at the time represented the Department of Natural Resources at URI. After answering a number of concerned citizens’ questions, she finally summed it up by telling the Quonnie crowd, “You are all drinking recycled wastewater.” Or, to put it bluntly, you’re drinking your neighbors’ sewage.

So “yes,” there is a water problem in Charlestown.

In his letter, Mr. Jacobsen asks, “What will it take?” Well, as long as he and others continue to support CCA candidates like Platner, you will never have potable water in Quonnie ... or anywhere else in Charlestown.

He also asks, “Would it not be prudent for the Town Council to reserve land for future fresh water access?” He continues, “This is the ‘monkey in the room’ that is being ignored.” As I see it, the only “monkey in the room” is the CCA, and fortunately, they were ignored during the last election. 


By Will Collette

I covered the jaw-dropping 2014-15 story of the CCA Council majority and Planning Commissar Ruth Platner’s battle to BLOCK the state Water Resources Board from purchasing land from Frank Glista to be set aside as open space to protect groundwater resources.

Given the CCA’s endless claims that it is the champion of open space and clean water, their desperate struggle to block this deal went beyond hypocrisy and into the Twilight Zone.

Their personal assault on Water Resource Board’s Ken Burke shredded the CCA claims to “civility” to the point where they actually had to apologize.

Now Frank, good man that he is, won’t say this but I will: the only reason the CCA dug in against this transaction was because they hated Frank. 

This is the budget presented by LaBossiere
to the Council in 2015
Now to be fair - kind of - the CCA has also been willing to throw out its sacred beliefs, such as its hatred of asphalt, to do favors for patrons, like CCA-cofounder Faith LaBossiere, when they poured tons of asphalt on Ninigret Park for a bike path no one uses. Faith promised the Council it would only cost $7,000. The final cost was $266,927 plus interest on the bond leading to a cost over-run of 4,000%.

The Slattery Doctrine in a nutshell
Deputy Dan Slattery tried to rationalize the CCA’s irrational position by making up a new policy: he claimed that no state or federal agency had any right to do anything in Charlestown without the Town Council’s expressed prior approval. I dubbed this invention “The Slattery Doctrine.”

In fact, in August 2016, the CCA Council majority authorized this:

“CA” L. Authorization of the Town Administrator to Send a Communication to All State Agencies and Regulatory Boards, to Specifically Include the Department of Transportation, the Department of Health, the Department of Environmental Management and the Water Resources Board, and Any Other Pertinent Agencies, Requesting Notification of Any State Projects Scheduled to Occur Within the Town of Charlestown

Incidentally, the mandate of the state Water Resources Board is to acquire and protect lands to preserve clean water supplies. They don’t need Charlestown’s permission to conduct a private transaction to advance that mandate.

For that matter, the federal Departments of Interior, Justice, Labor, Forest Service, EPA, Mine Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, IRS etc. do not need Charlestown’s permission to enter Charlestown to conduct their lawful duties.

Neither do the state Departments of Transportation, Health, Environmental Management, Children and Youth Services, State Police, etc.

I am so sick of the CCA insulting the people of Charlestown by assuming there are no records or institutional memory of all the crazy crap they did when they ruled Charlestown.

Here’s some of the articles I wrote about anti-water CCA crusade back in the day:

Progressive Charlestown: Charlestown’s new water war ( 

Progressive Charlestown: VIDEO: New border regulations for Charlestown (

Progressive Charlestown: Ruth Platner leaves fingerprints (