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Monday, May 13, 2024

Cliff Vanover moans about Chariho bond rejection

He blames Charlestown Residents United and town Democrats

By Will Collette

Vanover is a self-proclaimed tick magnet,
drawing 30-60 bites a year
Like me, Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA) Treasurer Cliff Vanover was disappointed at the outcome of the May 7 special election on the $150 million Chariho school construction bond question.

We lost in the total vote count by a tiny margin, but more relevantly, we failed to get all three Chariho towns to say Yes which was necessary under election rules. Charlestown voted overwhelmingly Yes, Richmond voted No by a tiny margin and Hopkinton was overwhelmingly No.

In my own post-election wrap-up, I blamed the strong MAGA elements that control town politics in both Hopkinton and Richmond, especially Hopkinton, for killing a needed and logical proposal to replace three aging, obsolete and dangerous elementary schools. The state would have provided $112 million of the $150 million.

The MAGA anti-education fog obscured the facts and created a false narrative sufficient to sucker the good people of Hopkinton and Richmond into voting against their own self-interests.

Cliff and I are in complete agreement that voting down the bond was a big mistake. However, Cliff chooses to rail against the electorate in general, claiming that a special election where only a small percentage of registered voters cast ballots is “not a reliable way to test public opinion.”

Yes Cliff, election results and your impression of how people feel don’t often match up. But guess what, Cliff? As Aaron Sorkin wrote in The West Wing“Decisions are made by those who show up.”

You can speculate all you want about what you think is the public's opinion, but ultimately, you count the number of votes.

Special elections nearly always have lower turnouts than general elections and you have to plan with that in mind. In most constitutional democracies, you can’t force people to vote.

The school bond lost the popular vote, albeit narrowly but more significantly, in Chariho’s version of the Electoral College, we lost two towns to one. The popular vote really didn't matter much at all.

You could have gotten every CCA follower, at least those who actually live in Charlestown, to vote twice and we still would have lost by two towns to one. Hell, Charlestown could have cast 10,000 Yes votes and still would have failed to get the required unanimous three-town approval.

Nonetheless, Cliff wants a scapegoat for this loss and has decided to blame Charlestown Residents United (CRU) and Charlestown Democrats for not trying hard enough. Never mind the large forum organized on April 17 to support the bond or cooperation between Charlestown and Richmond Democrats to push a Yes vote. 

There were also lots of social media posts by those Cliff-scorned non-CCA elements, as well as a lot of internal work. But I do credit the CCA for their talent for grabbing credit for a consensus built by far more than the CCA alone. 

Following the CCA playbook, Brother Cliff doesn’t let the facts get in the way of CCA puffery.