What possesses a newspaper to publish such inflammatory nonsense?

The following letter appeared in local newspapers and is shared with us here by the author George C. Tremblay. Mr. Tremblay is a member of the Charlestown Town Council and Town Council Liaison to the Planning Commission.

George C. Tremblay
George Tremblay

Regarding the article, Shuffling of zoning panel stirs questions (Westerly Sun, Sept 1), I have to wonder what possesses a newspaper to publish such inflammatory nonsense. To answer the article’s subtitle, “Are Charlestown’s resentments real issue or political posturing?”, I offer the following.

Our Zoning Chairman, Mike Rzewuski, is retiring after serving for 22 years. The duration of his service in that capacity, through decades of neck-snapping changes in party dominance over the Town Council, is evidence enough that members of the Zoning Board are well insulated from political manipulation. Appointments to the board often do reflect party loyalties, but that’s as it should be. The dominant faction of the Town Council gets its mandate from the dominant faction of the electorate. Nonetheless, exceptions do occur. When the only volunteer is from the political opposition, that volunteer gets appointed. Once appointed, board members are safe in their seats for the duration of their terms. The Council has no authority to remove them.

As for reappointment, the Town Council would be derelict in its duty if it reappointed members whose performance the Council determines has compromised the town. These are value judgments made after weighing the evidence with much deliberation. Should your readers expect any less from our critics? The charge that failure to reappoint discourages others from volunteering is no more realistic than the expectation that a political party will fall on its sword upon losing an election.

Real issue or political posturing?

As for the charge that “the blue-collar element is nonexistent” in Charlestown, I ask the reader to count the number of owner-operated businesses along Post Road and at the intersection of Routes 1 and 2, and note those that obviously employ tradesmen. Mr. Glista, the sole source of the criticism you cite, knows well that many additional tradesmen work out of their homes. It is also noteworthy that about half the inventory of housing in Charlestown is assessed at a value qualifying as “affordable” by the RI Housing Authority for families earning the median household income. In addition, we have one of the best-performing school systems in the state, and one of the lowest tax rates. Many can lay claim to plaudits for these achievements, but CCA is certainly among those to be credited. This panoramic view shows the environment for tradesmen is anything but hostile in Charlestown. Nettlesome at times, perhaps, but not hostile. Meanwhile, the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee (CDTC), to which Mr. Glista is a board member, is most vigorously campaigning for such blue-collar workers as Seth Magaziner and Clay Pell.

On control over town government, note that there are 5 elective seats to fill on the Town Council, 5 on the Planning Commission, 3 on the School Committee, and 1 for Town Moderator. For these 14 elective seats, CCA has recruited 13 candidates. The CDTC, on the other hand, has recruited 3 for Town Council, and their perennial candidate for moderator. None of the 10 remaining seats will be contested by CDTC candidates. Mr. Glista decries the dominance of CCA in town government. How can he expect anything different when his party essentially drops out? Therein lay the problem, and the story a newspaper should be writing.

Finally, as one of Mr. Glista’s “newcomers” I have lived in Charlestown for 31 years, probably longer than the vast majority of his CDTC operatives. Nonetheless, I welcome the talented newcomers our town attracts. They fertilize our community with intellectual diversity, bring new talents and skills to the table, add vigor to debate, and a spirit of adventure in adapting to their new home. Without such infusion of creative and adventuresome energy, our country would still be 13 coastal colonies, hemmed in by the Allegheny Mountains, mired in parochialism, and ruled by a British monarch.

George Tremblay

The writer is a CCA-sponsored member of the Charlestown Town Council