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15 Comments

  1. Michael Chambers
    May 28, 2012 @ 10:21 am

    HONOR

    On Memorial Day we have the opportunity to remember our fallen brethren who have served our country. We also have the opportunity to remember and memorialize our family and friends who have passed on. We make a special effort to recall the service of our veterans, now laid to rest, for all the characteristics that reflect the highest human qualities we may possess. Bravery, strength, loyalty, comradeship, and honor are a few of these qualities.

    At the risk of offering a banal thought about this day, I want to emphasize the word “honor.” From a purely personal point of view, I think my fellow comrades, who gave their lives so we may freely enjoy this day, would choose the word “honor” as a capstone to their lives. They served with honor, died with honor, and deserve to be honored on this day. We could all learn a lesson from our fallen brethren.

    Reply

  2. Michael Chambers
    April 28, 2012 @ 9:06 pm

    Both Barbara Bush and Senator Olympia Snow (R-ME) have complained about the lack of discussion and compromise in National politics. Ms. Snow spoke of leaving public service and retiring because the atmosphere in Washington is so unbearable. Twenty years ago I would have chalked this up to two women looking for consensus on the Hill and being frustrated when the warm fuzzies were missing. Today, I see two people who have more experience in Washington politics than any one of us can imagine and they are disgusted by what is going on.

    If we consider that local politics is a weaker, uglier representation of the National political scene, our town is in for a very interesting summer this year. I say weaker because local issues do not have the powerful impact of National issues and uglier because the participants in the process are neighbors and see each other often. Things can get ugly in a heated campaign.

    Mrs. Bush bemoaned the lack of moderates on both sides of the aisle. Moderates are more prone to discuss issues and come to some common understanding of the issues for the benefit of the most constituents. However, recently, the influence of Tea Party and Progressive movements are moving the center of philosophical concentration further from the aisle and into the extreme range of ideology. In other words, the wacko extremists are becoming a force to reckon with at the local and National levels. It is the prospect of having to deal with extremists that have Mrs. Bush and Senator Snow reassessing their commitment to public service. You really can’t blame them for taking a step back because when you review the rhetoric of the Tea Party and Progressives, their win-at-all-cost goals have little to do with their constituency, but almost entirely revolves around their ideology. Neither side is politically attractive to a majority of the voters who would rather not be sucked into the vortex of their ideological storm.

    Is this what the residents of Charlestown can expect during this year’s campaigns? Will we be subjected to ideological bombast or will we be presented a rational discussion on the issues facing our town? Will we be allowed to choose the best candidates or have to put up with character assassinations, baseless accusations, and misinformation as has been the norm for the past several elections?

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  3. Michael Chambers
    April 24, 2012 @ 11:04 am

    It was good to see the Chariho students honored for their accomplishments on the indoor track. This is a once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment and deserves all the praise and accolades the town can bestow. I particularly appreciate the missing athlete putting a higher priority on homework as explained last night. As a one-time coach, I was especially aware of the role Mr. Haberek plays in the enrichment of his harriers lives. Thank you Mr. Haberek for your time and dedication to your team and your school.

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  4. Michael Chambers
    April 21, 2012 @ 11:31 am

    This time the target of the “Creative Writing Class” at Progressive Charlestown is the staff at the Town Hall. Will Collette and his acolytes are trying to convince the public servants within the Town Hall that the Town Council is out to get them. Because the Town Administrator resigned under pressure from the Council, Will and his cherubs want to cast fear into the ranks. This is an old ploy and worn out, if the audience is intelligent.

    The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

    If that doesn’t sound familiar, it should. Presidential politics have been run with much the same fuel since the inception of this country. It’s like ad men telling the consumer that they need a certain product because their lives would be less complete or they would not be keeping up with the Jones, if they didn’t run right out and purchase the product. Their only goal is to sell. The town’s Democrats are now in the selling mode. Town Republicans, if there are any left, are quietly watching the progress of this year’s politics.

    Will tells the Town Hall staff to speak out at meetings and that may be helpful. It is certainly a lot more than he does at meetings. What Will forgets is that there should be no conflict between the Town Council and the Town Hall staff. He doesn’t encourage working relationships; he preaches discord and divisiveness; he seeks whistle-blowers but not open discussions and the only policy discussion his group has brought to the table has been the Homestead Tax Exemption. If you think this town should divide into factions; then follow Will and his goose-steppers. If you think this town needs more cooperation and dialogue, then you have to make it happen. This is not rocket science, it is common sense.

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  5. Michael Chambers
    April 19, 2012 @ 9:40 pm

    The Town Council has done what it was elected to do – take the leadership in this town and act on behalf of all the people. Whether you believe Bill DiLibero misused his authority as Town Administrator or not, the Town Council did their job as they saw fit. At Mr. DiLibero’s request, the discussions were closed to the public.

    Even though Greg Avedisian could not be present at the end of the closed hearing and Marge Frank questioned the timing of the Ethics Commission’s ruling on allowing Lisa DiBello to vote, the residents that attended did not know what was discussed behind closed doors. When the meeting was reconvened, Tom Gentz made a short statement about the outcome of the closed meeting and then the meeting was adjourned. The meeting was attended by about 25 residents.

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  6. Michael Chambers
    April 19, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

    I wonder what color the sky is in Will Collette’s world. I read his assessment of the wind turbine history from Larry LeBlanc to Jeff Broadhead, from Route 1 to Ninigret Park, from the Marge Frank Council to the Tom Gentz Council, and having been closely involved with the issue, I can categorically state that Will has been living in an alternative world, not Charlestown. What he portrays as facts are flights of fancy that he, and only he, can see.

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  7. Michael Chambers
    April 17, 2012 @ 8:25 am

    On the April 15 Editorial Page of the Providence Journal, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse submitted an article in support of his “Paying a Fair Share Act” that calls for the rich to pay their fair share of income taxes. As politically motivated as this proposal is, there probably is sufficient support on both sides of the aisle to make some changes in the tax laws. Even though there is no acceptable definition of the word “fair”, most people have a sense of what would be fair.

    The smart money cautions that the American taxpayer should not read too much into the impact of this Act in reducing the deficit or even taking a small step to turning the economy around. Senior fellow, Roberton Williams, of the Tax Policy Center cautions that relying solely on tax increases for the rich to aid in deficit reduction — even when paired with significant spending cuts — doesn’t cut it for two reasons. First, the income of the top 2% of taxpayers is typically more volatile than that of taxpayers lower down the income scale, so when the economy sours, so often do those high-end income streams. That means less revenue than expected will flow into federal coffers. Second, even if that weren’t true, there just aren’t enough rich people to generate the kind of revenue needed to substantially reduce deficits. To show the disparity, consider some recent calculations by the Congressional Budget Office. Raising all six income tax rates by 1 percentage point would yield an additional $480 billion over 10 years. By contrast, raising the top two rates by 1 percentage point would yield just $115 billion.

    As I have said often enough to make a point that even the most diehard tax and spenders would recognize, both added income and reduced spending have to be seriously undertaken by the present and future Administrations. Political expediencies cause more confusion and false hopes for the general public than they should endure. The Obama Administration has the report of its Bipartisan Debt Commission, but the taxpayer has yet to be counseled on what recommendations it contains. With regard to spending and taxes, the Commission recommends that spending not exceed 21% of gross domestic product. So what is the percentage over the past four years? The report proposes close to $200 billion in domestic and defense spending cuts in 2015. That’s a key way it would meet Obama’s goal of working the annual deficit down to 3% of GDP by 2015. In fact, the final report would do one better, getting the deficit to less than 2.5%. The report also recommends capping growth in total federal health spending — everything from Medicare to health insurance subsidies — to the rate of economic growth plus 1%.

    On the income side (taxes), the report recommends that taxes be capped at 21% of gross domestic product. So to increase taxes we would have to increase the Gross Domestic Product. That would require more investments. This is a very tight balancing act and does not respond to facile arguments for social justice alone. The report would lower income tax rates and simplify the tax code. It would abolish the Alternative Minimum Tax — the so-called wealth tax — and proposes either significantly reducing or eliminating the hundreds of tax breaks in the federal code that reduce federal revenue intake by more than $1 trillion a year. Finally, a tax that would hit everyone’s pocketbook: the report would raise the federal gas tax by 15 cents a gallon. It would dedicate the extra revenue to fund transportation and limit spending on projects to whatever has been collected by the increased tax that year.

    The storm clouds have gathered and we need the fortitude to do something positive to increase income and reduce spending drastically. The Administration must be truthful with the taxpayer and not offer false hope. According to David Wise, within the Executive Branch itself, lying has had an insidious effect, for in time, policy makers begin to believe in their own lies. The deception, designed for the public, can become self deception. Thus, even though a fair share tax is just, it is not even a start in addressing our economic problems. The Administration should not deceive the public with regard to the strict measures we all must face in the near future. We are in an economic situation where drastic measures are necessary and we need leaders in this country with the commitment to implement these measures..

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  8. Michael Chambers
    April 15, 2012 @ 10:13 am

    Sometimes you read something and try to determine if the writer has his/her tongue in his/her cheek or if the writer is simply trying to put one over on the reader. Today’s Letter to the Editor in the Westerly Sun (April 15, 2012) by Catherine O’Reilly Collette, chair of the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee (CDTC), is either comical or intentionally deceptive. While I agree that the Town Council needs to deal with the Town Administrator in a business-like manner, there is no side-stepping the issue that his actions have had serious impacts on how the town conducts its business. Major issues, such as wind power generation and lighting at Ninigret Park have been adversely affected, either directly or indirectly, by the Town Administrator’s actions. Ms. Collette says her committee has not taken a formal stand on the handling of the Town Administrator. However, the Progressive Charlestown Blog has taken a stand and is essentially the voice of the CDTC. The key word is formal, which means that the CDTC hasn’t yet used their official letterhead to make a statement.

    If there is honesty to be displayed here, the CDTC should officially, on CDTC letterhead, announce that whatever Tom Gentz and Dan Slattery do, they will take the opposite tack and stop this obvious, “he said, she said”. It is disingenuous on Ms. Collette’s part and is an insult to the voters in Charlestown. If I mixed up the Progressive Charlestown Blog’s ranting and the “formal” stand of the CDTC, it is a common perception and not a misperception.

    I have not seen a formal statement by the Town Council or anyone else that promotes that “the town must yield control of Ninigret Park to the federal government.” Ms. Collette promotes this innuendo as fact; however this would get a False on PolitiFact RI. The Federal Government does want the land back or control of that land. It wants good neighbors who will work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to promote sound ecological practices. Isn’t that what Ms. Collette identifies as a major initiative of the CDTC – “sensible land use and environmental protection”?

    On an additional matter that Ms. Collette suggests, I agree about fair taxes. Everyone should pay their taxes, everyone should be taxed according to the services they receive and, regardless of the “Buffet Rule”, taxes should be applied fairly to all citizens. However, with the power to tax comes the responsibility to spend wisely. I have dealt with several Federal agencies over the years and know that there are many programs that have outlived their usefulness; programs are over funded and overspent; and pork barrel politics is still alive and well in this Administration and in this State. So I hope to hear an official, “formal” statement from the CDTC exhorting the tax collectors to be responsible spenders and look at both sides of the equation.

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  9. Michael Chambers
    March 27, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

    Last night my wife and I went to the special Town Council meeting to observe how the issue of miscommunications with the Town Administrator would be handled. Also on the agenda were the negotiations with the town staff in updating the employee’s handbook and other policy questions. The handbook was discussed first and as in the case of most negotiations, took a lot of time. This was important for the town staff in that the handbook had not been updated for about twenty years.

    My wife and I listened until it became apparent that the Chief of Police, who was acting as the staff spokesperson, had many more pages to address. So we went to the Gentleman Farmer for supper and on the way back to the Town Hall, enjoyed the dark skies and the beautiful show of stars, planets and moon. When we returned the negotiations were still going on. Much of the discussions reminded me of my same concerns as a public servant and I was able to relate to the staff concerns.

    After the negotiations, a question of what a volunteer could do when a donation was offered in support of a town program. I thought the answer was clear, that the volunteer should inform Pat Anderson and the project manager of the offer. Keep everyone in the loop. Somehow the question was turned around to volunteers soliciting donations. Ms. DiBello made a very solid point of bringing this up with the Town Solicitor, because solicitation is not within the town’s purview. Maybe a volunteer is different, but the question still needs a legal look.

    It got to be too late to handle the miscommunication question and therefore was move to the next Town Council meeting. When I left the meeting I was impressed by the way the Town Council and Town staff interacted. It was not contentious as some negotiations could become. There didn’t seem to be any nefarious intent on anyone’s part to manipulate the meeting. Congratulations to both the staff and the Council on a job well done.

    Reply

  10. Michael Chambers
    March 26, 2012 @ 9:44 am

    I said that people who seek office will tend to lie about those in office. This is nothing new. Let’s look at Charlestown. The “loyal opposition” will blame any perceived ills on the Town Council, but not all members of the Council, just those that don’t do their bidding. DiBello, Gentz, and Slattery are targets, while Frank and Avedisian get passes. Let’s face it; Avedisian got a pass even though he voted for the YMCA Land deal.

    In the past week, here are some examples of how the “loyal opposition” tries to twist the facts to meet their needs. Housing values and sales continue to decline in Charlestown and it is the fault of CCA. That is outrageous but even if some people buy that argument, it is worth it for the “loyal opposition” to throw that out and see who bites. It used to be “run it up the flagpole and see who salutes.” Anyway, you can fertilize your garden with that one.

    The Federal requirements that affect our use of Ninigret should be contested by the Town Council. Besides being naïve, that posture is just malicious. If the Town Council doesn’t bite on that piece of rancid bait, the “loyal opposition” declares that the Town Council has no leadership.

    Why would anyone offer their web site to town employees to blow the whistle on their supervisors? Is the “loyal opposition” bored? Are they watching too much Jerry Springer? Are they really as divisive as many town residents say they are?
    Then there is exaggeration. This Bill DiLibero issue has the “loyal opposition” calling it a purge of the Town Staff. Gee, I didn’t realize everyone in Town Hall may lose their jobs. Scared yet? If not, hold on to your hats. More Springer-esque moments may come.

    It seems the “loyal opposition” is also fomenting a rumor about the Narragansett Tribe and the town folk. It seems to me that that one is good no matter who is on the Town Council. I call your attention to the previous Town Council who wanted Larry LeBlanc to put up wind turbines rather than sell the land to the Narragansetts who might build a casino. A racial divide is so easy to get people to buy that the “loyal opposition” did not wait to get this on this year’s docket. But as Bill Reynolds says, “There is no truth to the rumor that ….”

    The sale of rain barrels and the feel-good story about Valentine the Seal will continue to provide enough candy to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.

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  11. Michael Chambers
    March 23, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

    Here is another banal essay to bore the intelligencia. You may consider this “Voting 101.” Isn’t it obvious why we vote and how we vote? Maybe and maybe not. Maybe a couple of general statements and a couple of general questions might help.

    Each of us tends to think we are of one political party or another because we have been brought up that way. As long as I can remember the Republicans and the Democrats have dictated how our county will be run. How often have we heard “Are you a Republican or a Democrat?” That is the first question, “Are you one or the other?” That was simple. Wait just a moment!! Some people say neither, but at the National and State levels who represents them? No one? Are they disenfranchised? Maybe. But at the local level? People say CCA is a party, but I don’t think so; but they do scare the bejeebers out of the local Democrats. So how do you vote?

    Since, at the National and State levels, you may feel disenfranchised, you have some power to determine your local government. First, ask “Who do you trust?” These are your neighbors, not politicians with big pockets and big needs. Everything you will hear during this campaign year will be based on who’s in and who’s out. People in office can do nothing right because people who are not in office need the voters to believe that. Otherwise, the voters won’t feel the need for change. Am I saying one side lies and plays with the facts while the other side doesn’t? Definitely not. That would be an insult to the reader. All I am saying is read everything that interests you in this election, and decide for yourself who you can trust.

    Another question would be “Who has not done their job?” Remember, the election for local officials is a performance evaluation. If you vote along straight party lines, then you are saying the party is more important than performance. You may feel that way and you may feel that it is appropriate to vote that way. If you feel that someone is not doing their job, then who among the slate of candidates can do a better job.

    The November election should be the culmination of your deliberations and not the beginning or your thinking about this. You should walk to the voting booth and say, “This is how I feel, because I have thought about and looked at all sides of the arguments presented and I am comfortable in my choices.

    My co-workers used to say “Why are you voting for him: he’s going to lose. My comeback was always to say that this isn’t a horserace even though there are dark horses. They (the candidates) win and lose. The voters can only hope they don’t lose out.

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  12. Michael Chambers
    March 21, 2012 @ 11:27 am

    I guess Bob is admitting that he had “it in for the Zoning Board” because that is the assessment made by Mike Rzewuski . I don’t think Bob speaks for everyone on the committee. The fact that Bob was the most vociferous member of the committee in asking for even shorter term limits for the Board makes me question why he has made such a turn around. Maybe he should have recused himself on discussions of term limits since he had it in for that group.

    I remember asking if all commissions should have term limits and Bob explicitly said “No”, just the Zoning Board.

    As far as a disaster, I still maintain that the Charter Committee did what they chose to do and listen, record, and deliberate on the public’s reaction to the questions posed. The disaster will happen if committee members do not act on what they think is the right thing to do. They had a list of topics to be discussed that morphed during added deliberations. They should go back and review why they thought the topics should be addressed. Their future discussions should include what they heard, adjust wording where necessary, and delete questions that are inappropriate. It is up to them to finish their jobs. Maybe on term limits, and again, since Bob has stated that he was predisposed to “get the Zoning Board” may wish to recuse himself from further discussions on the topic.

    Reply

  13. Robert Yarnall
    March 21, 2012 @ 7:28 am

    As a sitting member of the Charter Advisory Review Board, or whatever we want to call it, I am stating for the record that the public hearing to which Mike Chambers refers was an unmitigated disaster and a public embarrassment, for reasons that were abundantly clear to anyone who was in attendance. I and the majority of my colleagues were mortified.

    Both Mr. Rzewuski and Mr. Drezcko were correct in their assessments of our proposed changes to the zoning board. Ms. Platner of the Planning Commission likewise criticized our positions with respect to the topic. And Mr. Collette’s & Mr. Ferrio’s stinging analyses have been, in my opinion, uncomfortably on target.

    While the public hearing did indeed serve a purpose in the sense that it caused us to constructively reconsider a range of issues, including withdrawing the amendment that would have applied term limits to the zoning board, the best thing about that night was that it was not video taped for ClerkBase. Both Mike and his wife Donna, a member of the board, should be grateful for that. I know I am, and I imagine the other members of the board are, as well.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Robert Yarnall

    Reply

  14. Michael Chambers
    March 19, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

    As Paul Harvey would say, “Here is the rest of the story.”

    The Blog has pretended to give people the entire story behind the events in Charlestown. They demonize those that don’t march in lock step to their lies and half truths and provide only enough information to convince people that they are “reporters.” I don’t know everything that goes on in this town and I don’t pretend to know. All I write about is what I do know. I don’t have a staff of acolytes who do my bidding, so my list is not as silly as the Blog’s.

    Their targets are Lisa DiBello, Tom Gentz, Dan Slattery, Charles Vandemoer, Cliff Vanover, Ruth Platner, and any other person who does not wave the proverbial Democratic Party flag. They seem to me to be Demo-critic.

    Let’s start with reference to yours truly at the Charter Review Advisory Committee. By the way, what’s in a name? A rose by any other name will perform the same function. Minor point, but if Will and his acolytes were to check the committee name from several sources, he would find different names for that committee. When Mike Rzewuski said that the committee was biased against the Zoning Board of Review and no applications had been submitted for serving on the Board, the committee members knew differently. When Ray Dreczko said he would like to meet the volunteer, I introduced myself and was admonished by the chairperson that I was interrupting Mr. Dreczko’s prepared speech. I apologized for the interruption but still felt that the Blog, Mr. Rzewuski, and Mr. Dreczko needed to get the record straight. Will Collette has asked for a copy of my application to the Zoning Board of Review but has not acknowledged that they didn’t have their facts straight. Tom, Ferrio, one of Will’s acolytes, went so far as to unfairly point the finger at the town clerk’s office. Funny thing, neither Mr. Rzewuski nor Mr. Dreczko approached me after the meeting.

    There was not a heated exchange. If Will thinks that there was a heated exchange, he needs to get out into the real world. I didn’t speak to Mike Rzewuski, but to Ray Dreczko, it wasn’t heated either. Get it right Will!

    One thing to remember, every person on that committee had seen what goes on in this town. They saw Greg Avedisian, Forester Safford, and Candy Dunn do their utmost to let their friend Larry LeBlanc put wind generators on the Scenic Byway. They saw that there were too many opportunities for the Marge Frank Town Council to slip projects favorable to their friends past the voters in this town. If you notice, they didn’t try to take any power from anyone, but tried to tighten up the process. Even so, sitting commissioners didn’t want their processes tightened up.

    The only other time I spoke at the meeting was to address Deb Carney’s spurious argument regarding a two-month notice to fill committee vacancies so the people would have an opportunity to learn of the vacancy and the chairperson would be able to choose from possibly a larger volunteer pool. Deb used the “what if someone dies” routine and offered the Chariho School Board as an example. The Charter has no control over the Chariho School Board, clearly negating her argument. She had her say and then interrupted me during my statement. Get it right Will!

    At the meeting Will Collette says was a disaster, the goal was to let everyone, who did not attend any of the open meetings, review the issues and inform the committee members regarding the impacts of the issues as written The Democratic Town Committee finally showed up for a meeting and gave their comments. The second half of that goal was for the committee to return to the conference table and discuss what they had heard before deciding on what they would send to the Town Council. They are in the process of doing that. How was that a disaster? Evidently Will thought this was a contest of win or lose and not about deliberation. Must be the way he was brought up in the business world.

    As long as the people on the Blog continue to lie and twist the facts, I will report the truth about them.

    Reply

  15. Michael Chambers
    March 18, 2012 @ 10:59 am

    At Monday’s Town Council meeting, one of the speakers referred to Homer Glen, Illinois, as the fourth dark skies city in the U.S. and it is located about thirty miles from Chicago. The implication was that even though Homer Glen is so close to Chicago, it rated high in dark skies at the national level. This implication is misleading. In being so misleading, it actually supports the Dark Skies Initiative for Charlestown.

    “A primary goal of the International Dark Sky Places program is to improve sky quality relative to an area, and Homer Glen has worked hard to provide a respite to the famously excessive lighting of Chicago. Sky glow prohibits astronomical quality skies, but Homer Glen’s statewide leadership and education campaign for smart lighting policy has earned the recognition of this prestigious award.” This does not say that Homer Glen has dark skies, but is working to improve their skies through education and their dark sky ordinance – the “state’s first standalone lighting ordinance in 2007.”

    Ambient light from such a large source as the city of Chicago has a widespread affect. What Homer Glen has done to preserve what dark skies they have remaining is more than what the town of Charlestown has done and Charlestown has so much more to lose. So, Homer Glen has given Charlestown an example of what a community can do to incorporate appropriate lighting, even though their own skies have been so polluted by Chicago’s ambient light. Thanks for bringing Homer Glen to our attention.

    Reply

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