Council approves budget with maximum tax increase

Schools likely to pursue lawsuit

Posted

This article has been updated to correct tax figures for commercial property tax rates, which were incorrectly reported in Tuesday's print edition.

Identifying the condition of city streets as a top priority and an issue that will resonate with the electorate, the City Council approved Saturday morning a $316.3 million budget, an increase of $5.6 million from the “maintenance budget” former Mayor Scott Avedisian sent the council.

The Avedisian budget called for a zero increase in the tax rates.

The approved budget, however, calls for an increase in the residential property tax from $20.24 per $1,000 of property valuation to $20.80 and an increase in the commercial and industrial real estate tax from $30.36 per $1,000 in valuation to $31.19. Tangible personal property tax goes from $40.48 to $41.59

If approved by Mayor Joseph Solomon, the increase in taxes would mean a tax of $6,240 on a residential property valued at $300,000, an increase of $158 from the current bill.

The rates are the maximum levy as set by state law.

“I don't know how we can expect to balance budgets when we're faced with the situation we were faced with,” said City Council President Steve Merolla at Saturday’s meeting. “I can guarantee that no one in this room is going to be happy with what this council has to do.”

Without objection, but with discussion outlining their reasoning, the council increased city funding of schools by $1.5 million – $6.6 million short of what the School Committee said is needed to operate. Other additions to the Avedisian spending plan include $85,000 in the contingency fund, $20,000 for rodent control, $10,000for human service salaries, $35,000 for Parks and Recreation season salaries and $50,000 for building inspector salaries.

The biggest boost – $4 million – was in the asphalt account in the Department of Public Works for road repairs and paving. Avedisian had budgeted $1 million for roads. Thus with the council’s action and expected approval by the mayor, $5 million will become available for roadwork.

“This is one of the rare line items that goes right back to the people,” Merolla said of the increase. “This is something that is desperately needed.”

“Probably the loudest outcry that we've heard in budget hearings from the community is the conditions of the roads,” said Ward 5 Councilman and finance committee chair Ed Ladouceur. “This is an investment that is certainly long overdue and we need to do it. We need to take care of these roads.”

As approved by the council, the budget provides funding for raises for municipal employees and police as defined in agreements negotiated by Avedisian. With no agreement with the firefighters at the time the budget was drafted and no negotiations since Avedisian’s departure in May, the budget as approved by the council does not include any increases in salaries for firefighters.

The council did not revise Avedisian’s fund balance draw down of $3.8 million.

In a statement released Monday, Mayor Joseph Solomon, who has served on the City Council for the past 18 years, identified this budget process “as among the most difficult we have seen in recent years.” He said Avedisian’s budget posed “significant challenges for the City Council as they worked to find a balance between meeting the needs of the schools and municipal departments while keeping the tax rate reasonable.”

Solomon said Avedisian’s “maintenance budget” failed to adequately fund line items to address certain issues.

“The City Council’s decision to increase certain line items, including an additional $1.5 million in school funding, sent a clear signal that they are committed to working collaboratively to address the concerns of our residents. Their allocation of an additional $4 million for repaving our deteriorated roads and increased funding to address minimum housing issues and to improve our parks, beaches and playgrounds, for example, will allow us to take significant steps to better the quality of life in our community, improve our neighborhoods, and enhance economic development and tourism in Warwick,” he said in a statement.

“I compare the problem to a ship that has run aground,” summarized Ladouceur. “None of us, from the new mayor Solomon to my colleagues on the city council, none of us were the captains on that ship. The ship ran aground and we're the cleanup crew. We're the ones who were called on to clean up the mess.”

Schools get fraction of $8 million request

In approving the FY19 budget on Saturday, the City Council agreed unanimously through an amendment to allot the Warwick School Department only $1.5 million of its $8.1 million ask. Former Mayor Scott Avedisian had put forward a budget that level funded the schools.

Ward 2 Councilman Jeremy Rix called the school department’s request for $8.1 million, which would represent a 6.56 percent increase from last year’s allotment from the city, “disingenuous” and “absurd,” while explaining his support for the $1.5 million allotment.

Rix argued that closing Wickes and Randall Elementary Schools, and the re-purposing of John Brown Francis as a Pre-K facility, should have netted the schools more in savings than the $4.15 million as presented by school finance director Anthony Ferrucci last week during budget hearings. He argued that Warwick also receives more in state aid on average per pupil than the state average, with Warwick receiving about $18,500 per student as opposed to around $16,500 on average for the state.

“We are contributed more than enough money to ensure students have an excellent education,” Rix said. “We urge the school committee to take that money and spend it wisely so that our students have the best possible education.”

Merolla agreed with Rix and said that, by dividing the school’s budget by the total number of schools, the savings from closing multiple schools should be closer to $9 million than $4 million. He said that the schools already received $3 million for salary increases last year after the teachers settled their contract and that this additional $1.5 million should help cover rising costs, especially due to the declining student population since 2010.

“A 6.56 percent increase...is inherently unreasonable,” Merolla said on Saturday. “I hope that this is sufficient. I believe that it is sufficient.”

“If you own several houses and you cut back on those houses that you owned, you would think that your expenses would go down and not up,” Merolla added on Monday. “I'm not saying the school department’s job is easy or the school committee’s job is easy, but neither is ours. We're trying to make determinations on what's reasonable based on the facts and circumstances.”

Superintendent Philip Thornton called the decision “truly disappointing” and said that the school department and school committee would be making adjustments to the budget between now, their meeting on June 12 and their July meeting. However, he was not optimistic that the problem could be solved by simply re-evaluating the books.

“In all honesty we do not have the ability to cut $6.5 million from the operations we have right now for next year,” he said.

Ferrucci agreed with this notion. The argument from the school department is that costs including salary increases, step increases, pension liabilities and out of district costs, combined with declining contributions from the state and the continuing obligation to pay the principal and interest on debt accrued from a 2006 bond to make repairs to Warwick Veterans Middle School has driven costs up despite consolidation of schools and declining enrollment.

“I don’t know where to turn,” he said, adding that he could hypothetically lay off all 72 members of the staff who received layoff notices (which Thornton said was not in their plans), as well as all the school’s administrators and it would still not amount to the money needed to balance their budget.

Ferrucci said that, once again, the school’s ability to maintain buildings would be impacted by the lack of funding. The schools had budgeted for $1 million to go towards a few key projects, including PA systems at both high schools that need worked on or replaced entirely. The money would also be reimbursed near 40 percent by the state after 2020, a deal Ferrucci said would be irresponsible not to pursue.

“We keep getting chastised for not properly maintaining the buildings,” Ferrucci said. “That is one of the biggest communications I have gotten from council, is how horrified they are over how ill maintained the school’s buildings are.”

Ferrucci said that the council’s suggestion that there were more savings to be had by consolidating the elementary schools was inaccurate, as they failed to factor in that teachers would be relocated and the students still had to be educated and enrolled elsewhere.

“I don't understand how City Council couldn't grasp the fact that we still have children to educate, and the only savings we have are utilities, a principal, a couple custodians and that's it,” Ferrucci said on Monday.

Thornton and Ferrucci confirmed that the school committee would now be forced to discuss whether or not to award a contract to an outside auditing company to perform an audit of their finances as a step towards filing a lawsuit against the city through what is known as a Caruolo Action, which allows school departments to sue municipalities if they believe they are not given sufficient funding to provide educational standards on par with state expectations.

Merolla said that the city would be prepared to argue its case in the event that the school department went forward with a lawsuit.

“If we get sued, I think we've more than maintained maintenance of effort, and as far as we're concerned we'll defend ourselves in court if that's what it takes,” he said during Saturday’s meeting.

“I think that's a tough argument for them to make that we're not doing our absolute best to help them out,” Merolla added on Monday. “We all care. We all spend a lot of time and effort analyzing the numbers. We all came up with numbers we thought were fair and reasonable.”

Comments

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CrickeeRaven

This is the cost of the city council's decision in FY18 to keep the tax rate level and anticipate a 99-percent collection rate: Raising taxes to the maximum amount allowed by state law.

When the once- and soon-to-be twice-defeated candidate for mayor inevitably posts another comment blaming the council for its decisions, readers should remember that he repeatedly claimed that his losing 2016 campaign influenced those same council decisions for the current budget. They should also recall that he has repeatedly criticized the school committee for issuing 72 teacher layoff notices, which would significantly reduce the school department's request for additional funding.

Acting Mayor Solomon, his colleagues on the council, and, by his membership in the Democratic party, the failed candidate own this budget -- they can not blame former Mayor Avedisian for it, just as they can not blame former Mayor Avedisian for their FY18 decisions.

That said, it is a certainty that the make-believe mayor will humiliate himself by trying to argue the opposite.

Tuesday, June 5
bendover

Congratulations you spendthrifts....The only windfall you have created is for sign makers for all the FOR SALE or FOR LEASE signs and Paul Arpin Van LInes for those who have decided "No MAS", both residential and commercial....D'Ambra looks like a genius getting the tax deal he got for his new hotel...How many more "deals" are out there? We need a forensic audit....Don't hold your breath for that to happen. Last one leaving, turn out the light.

Tuesday, June 5
richardcorrente

I campaigned for 700 days in a row spending over $40,000 of my own money to "Cut Taxes - Cut Spending".

It worked!

The 80,000 taxpayers that are paying the tab spoke LOUDLY to their City Council and 29 attempts from Mayor Avedisian to raise taxes were unanimously defeated!

It was the first time in 18 LONG years. I'm exceptionally proud of my campaign. We finally broke the routine of "tax-and-spend" year after year.

But that was then. This is now. Warwick has a new acting Mayor. He refused to take part in Mayor Avedisians' most recent budget. I disagree with his decision to do that. He is ultimately responsible for this new tax increase, a "max-tax-increase".

Whoever becomes our new Mayor needs to reverse this trend.

Here are some ways we can "Cut Taxes - Cut Spending"

1.Hire a Grant Writer. Central Falls did. It cost them $30,000 a year and made them over $600,000 in the first year alone.

2. Offer Rebate Checks to anyone who moves into Warwick and buys a home or starts a business. The rebate check will cost Warwick a fraction of the money the new taxpayer will bring in.

3. Have a 2 Year Moratorium on building permit fees. Warwick will lose the small dollars of the permit fee in return for large dollars in additional real estate taxes FOREVER!

4. Institute a Voluntary Pension-buyout plan. If the retiree wants it, Warwick will benefit as well.

5. Have a Hiring Freeze. It will protect Warwicks' present employees and attrition will reduce the future costs.

6. Re-negotiate the Airport Agreement. They got the tax revenue of over 100 houses. Warwick got water pollution, soil pollution, air pollution and noise pollution. The RIAC needs to pay their fair share.

7. Promote Warwick (and our beaches) to the rest of R.I. We need to attract new homebuyers and new businesses. The more taxpayers, the less tax-per-person.

My critics love to attack my ideas but not once have any of them suggested a better idea or any idea for that matter.

Challenge:

Dear critics,

Either offer a better idea or shut up! Fair enough?

Happy Summer everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Tuesday, June 5
CrickeeRaven

As predicted, the make-believe mayor proves his complete failure to restrain himself from making delusional and false statements, like the following:

- "I campaigned for 700 days in a row spending over $40,000 of my own money to 'Cut Taxes - Cut Spending.' It worked!"

No, it did not work. The 9-0 Democratic City Council approved an FY18 budget that kept the tax rate level [not lower], raised anticipated revenue [i.e., taxes], and unrealistically anticipated a 99-percent tax collection rate over the objections of the city's finance director. Taxes and spending were not cut in FY18 -- and, going by his party's city council members this year, they are not being cut for FY19.

- "The 80,000 taxpayers that are paying the tab spoke LOUDLY to their City Council and 29 attempts from Mayor Avedisian to raise taxes were unanimously defeated!"

No, former Mayor Avedisian did not make "attempts... to raise taxes." The amendments to the FY18 budget were submitted by the city council and reduced the proposed $300+ million budget by $750,000. The make-believe mayor, then, is lying about his own party's city council members and their true votes on the FY18 budget.

- "I'm exceptionally proud of my campaign. We finally broke the routine of 'tax-and-spend' year after year."

No, the make-believe mayor's failed 2016 campaign did not influence the city council's decisions. None of them ever mentioned him or his campaign in their votes -- which, as proven above, did not lower taxes or spending in FY18. The make-believe mayor is creating a fake narrative about the budget process.

- "Challenge: Dear critics, Either offer a better idea or shut up! Fair enough?"

One better idea: The make-believe mayor should stop lying to voters.

Another better idea: The make-believe mayor should identify where the spending will come from to fund his giveaways.

The best idea, which thousands of honest, taxpaying voters already have: Overwhelmingly reject the make-believe mayor again, giving him the distinction of being the first candidate in a generation to lose to two different mayors.

Tuesday, June 5
davebarry109

The school department is insufferable. There is no end to the amount of money required to get mediocre scores from our school children. 16,000 per child? The teachers are well paid and have great pensions. There is no reason to give them a 3% raise each year.

Tuesday, June 5
richardcorrente

Dear davebarry109,

You are complaining about a 3% raise for the teachers when they are just about average with all other schools in R.I. but you don't mention the enormous raises and staff expansion going on with the School Committee administration.

How come?

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Tuesday, June 5
CrickeeRaven

Here, davebarry, let me answer the make-believe mayor's delusional question.

"[Y]ou don't mention the enormous raises and staff expansion going on with the School Committee administration. How come?"

Because they don't exist. There are no "enormous raises and staff expansion going on."

I'm sure you're also aware, dave, that the excess spending in the school department is primarily due to keeping elementary schools open when current enrollment does not justify it. That is the reason for three elementary schools closing and 72 layoff notices.

Don't let the make-believe mayor's attempts to create a fake narrative about the school department get to you. His next inevitable defeat will prove the ability of honest, taxpaying voters to understand the truth.

Tuesday, June 5
Scal1024

Readers will notice alot of words from Rick Corrente. ZERO SUBSTANCE. He's great at telling you his "plans". Notice he will never tell you HOW MUCH these things would cost? Also notice he doesn't tell you HOW HE'LL PAY FOR THESE THINGS? Anyone can tell you an idea, the hard part Rick (which you are too stupid to grasp) is telling voters where the $ to pay for these things comes from.

Just take 1 example. Rick Corrente lists a "voluntary pension buyout" as part of his plan. There are MANY missing elements from this plan. A few important questions would be:

-How many years of service would be required to be eligible for a buyout?

-How many current City of Warwick employees would be eligible to retire? How many would be eligible for this benefit?

-How much money would eligible city workers be recieving in a lump sum? How would this be calculated?

-Where does the upfront money to start this program come from? Will taxes be raised in the short term to pay for this? If not, are you borrowing money? How much will need to be borrowed? Does this still save $?

-How much money would potentially be saved from the buyout program?

The other problem with Correntes dishonesty? Warwick retirees recieve health care for life. Do you have any idea how much $ you would have to offer a retiree to get them to forego their own healthcare for life and have them be subject to state exchanges or Medicare?

How will you pay for these programs Rick?

You are a candidate for mayor, don't you think voters have a right to know?

Without ANY of these answers how does Corrente know this plan will save money? This is the problem with EVERY CORRENTE IDEA. Without knowing the cost how can he say he's going to cut your taxes? Corrente was asked in a debate with Scott Avedesian to name 2 areas of spending (line items) he would cut from the budget? HE COULDN'T NAME ONE!!! The "cut spending" candidate FAILS EVERY TIME to be specific.

He says his critics don't offer a plan. Maybe thats because HIS CRITICS AREN'T RUNNING FOR MAYOR. This fraud wants it both way, he wants to be a candidate when he used the Beacon comment section for free advertising, yet he doesn't want any of the scrutiny that comes with being a candidate. This fake, lying, pathetic failure will not deter me from telling voters the truth.

I would also ask the lying failure Corrente why he didn't respond to my comments quoting the Warwick Beacon and Warwick Post about his tax delinquency and foreclosure? Or about how Clay Shackelton (Correntes campaign offices landlord) paid his (Correntes) taxes for him in 2014 AND 2015. I can only expect more lies and distortion from the fake mayor.

Tuesday, June 5
Thecaptain

Why isnt anyone commenting about Corrente's wonderful articulate intelligent comments made at the budget hearings last week????

BECAUSE ONCE AGAIN HE WAS SILENT AND NOT IN THE BUILDING !!! AGAIN!!

Tuesday, June 5
RonPaul

Wow! City council and the fake appointed mayor really making a difficult decision to raise taxes. Housing prices through the roof and they are raising taxes to the max limit. Vote these clowns out! They are reaching right in your pocket and taking your hard earned money. Give them the middle finger if they are in the parade this weekend. They will be dressed up as clowns

Tuesday, June 5
CrickeeRaven

Hello again, Scal and Thecaptain:

I honestly wonder when the make-believe mayor will ever exhibit any actual intelligence about, well, anything.

He's parroting himself, contradicting his own words, repeating his lies, and he still thinks he is considered a serious candidate.

Compound that with his arrogance and outright refusal to acknowledge facts, and it's very clear that he cares about nothing except his own ego.

Sitting there in his empty office, he spends hours telling himself that he really can be mayor -- while his own party withholds even the pittance it gave him for the 2016 campaign, his statements are torn to shreds on this website, and voters see him as a laughingstock.

I would almost -- almost -- feel badly for him if it weren't so clear that he is willingly and consciously engaging in his pathetic, humiliating behavior.

The ultimate result -- a second overwhelming loss -- is what he deserves. It can't happen quickly enough.

Tuesday, June 5
WwkVoter

I only read corrente's crazy delusions for entertainment. BUT, I'd like to ask... what exactly IS a "school committee administration..."??

Wednesday, June 6
CrickeeRaven

WwkVoter, that's another pathetic attempt by the make-believe mayor to confuse people and bash the school department (except for the teachers' union, of course).

As far as his entertainment value, the make-believe mayor is a prime example of cringe comedy, where characters make utter fools of themselves for the audience's laughter.

Wednesday, June 6
patientman

Please stop replying and goading Mr. Corrente. Maybe if he's ignored he'll go away.. The comments are becoming unreadable and I stopped reading comments from several posters. Let's try to keep focused on the subject. The council wants to raise our taxes 4.25%, that sucks.

Thursday, June 7
Scal1024

Patientman, while I partially understand your point I disagree to a certain extent. Yes, sometimes the comments get somewhat off topic when it comes to Correntes personal past fiscal record. However, these comments are about policy. I'm not sure how asking a candidate for mayor how he would pay for his proposals is "goading Mr Corrente" or how it makes these comments unreadable.

Speaking for myself I will NOT allow Corrente to comment without being fact checked. As a taxpayer, it is my responsibility to call him out for his tax delinquency, his lies and the empty rhetoric he calls a "plan". It is perfectly fair to ask a candidate for mayor how they'd pay for their proposals. I'm sorry you disagree, but I will continue to comment where I see fit, especially when it comes to policy. I welcome your reply, and really do hope you understand where I'm coming from. Its not that I'm a supporter of the former Mayor, or the acting mayor. I am just very much against an unqualified candidate pretending he could be mayor.

As far as the tax increase it is very unfortunate the council went this route. I also think in an election year the council was afraid to make tough choices that are needed. I'm optimistic that even this council knows that max tax increases every year is not a solution to governing long term. The only way this city will dig out of this mess is 2 ways

1. All hands on deck approach from every city department, employee and politician

2. An honest approach from the Council that looks at EVERYTHING

Thursday, June 7
CrickeeRaven

Sorry, patientman, I disagree. The make-believe mayor has proven that, whether anyone replies to him or not, he will use this website as a free political platform and continue trying to spread his false statements.

As Scal explained, I also believe that a declared candidate for mayor who is presumably arguing that he is qualified to handle the city's money is, by definition, disqualified because of his tax delinquencies. He can't even write the correct check for a campaign ad without getting it wrong.

This is aside from his abject lack of understanding about how the city actually works, and his repeated attempts to twist the facts about how the FY18 budget was passed -- which directly led to the major tax increase in the FY19 budget that you rightly mention.

I don't think it's right that a declared candidate whose party is responsible for blowing a $4.2 million hole in the next budget [because its city councilors wanted to score political points with the last one] should have an unchallenged forum to repeat his lies.

The real problem is not Scal or me or other commenters who have consistently provided facts to dispute the make-believe mayor's claims; it's him, the candidate who falsely claims he is endorsed by his party, supported by "80,000 taxpayers," and justified in saying that his losing 2016 campaign influenced the city council's budget decisions.

So, vent your frustrations at him. Tell him that he could use his time more productively than arguing with online commenters who find easily-verifiable, factual information that disproves his claims. Tell him that Warwick voters are not as stupid or gullible as he thinks they are. And tell him to stop using this website for free political advertising.

[And good luck. He doesn't seem to listen to anyone, even Councilman Joe Gallucci, who told him to run on his own merits instead of attacking other people -- and you've seen the results of that conversation.]

Thursday, June 7
WwkVoter

Please note that the max tax increase of 4.25% mentioned is the "levy" which is the total collected taxes. The RATE is only going up around 2.7%, with the rest coming from increased value in what is taxable (think new houses and commercial buildings built, more business inventory, etc).

I just dont think 2.7% is all that horrible. (I also dont think it will cover our growing city obligations, unfortunately.)

Friday, June 8
CrickeeRaven

WwkVoter, you make several good points. Distinguishing between the tax levy [meaning the actual dollars to be raised through taxation] and the tax rate [meaning the dollars-per-$1,000 in assessed value] is an important detail to keep in mind.

Also, as you correctly point, the tax hike may not be enough on its own to fund city operations in FY19. That raises the potential of using some of the $25 million in accumulated surpluses or trying to cut services -- but with all three municipal contracts on the table this year and the school department looking for more funding, that seems highly unlikely.

From their comments reported in other articles, city council members seem to be looking for sympathy in the midst of the recent mayoral transition -- like this quote from Councilman Ladouceur: “We did a good job on a lousy hand."

http://warwickonline.com/stories/police-city-worker-pacts-put-on-hold,134548?

What is really happening is that, after many years of steadily chipping away at the mayor's authority [budget veto overrides, requirements to notify the council of staffing changes, dragging out the vote on funding the new school contract, passing the FY18 budget that left a $4.2 million deficit], the Democratic party now has complete control of municipal operations -- and now they're facing the proverbial music.

They don't have a Republican mayor -- remember, the one who told them that their FY18 budget would not work? -- to hide behind or blame anymore.

Granted, Mayor's Avedisian's departure was abrupt -- but if it had happened after an election, there would not have been much more time to organize a transition, so complaining about the short amount of time they have to address the budget is disingenuous.

So, I don't have any sympathy for the city council. They have two out of three contracts ready for approval [although as the article linked above explains, they're not going to vote on them until July 16 because apparently they haven't read them yet] and were left with a budget proposal that included no tax increase.

This is what the council has been waiting for -- and now they have it. What's that old proverb?

"Be careful what you wish for -- you just might get it."

Friday, June 8
Bob_Cushman

Warwick's new mayor, Joseph Solomon, must feel as if he just replaced the captain of the Titanic. Republican Scott Avedisian, the former mayor, steered the city directly into a fiscal iceberg, then jumped onto the first available lifeboat, taking a six-figure position with the state.

Avedisian became the longest-serving mayor in Warwick history by dismantling municipal and educational services while systematically redistributing hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for unsustainable retirement benefits for his special-interest supporters.

Over a 15-year period, retirement benefits have grown from 19 percent to 28 percent of the budget. To put that number in prospective, Warwick’s ratio is worse than that of San Jose, which has the worst ratio in California. A Washington Post headline about its woes -- “In San Jose, generous pensions for city workers come at expense of nearly all else" -- could have been written about Warwick.

Over the last 10 years, nearly every new tax dollar and millions from the rainy day fund were allocated to expenses for active and retired employees, leaving nothing for everything else.

The impact to social service programs has been devastating. Programs for after-school youth, family services, battered woman and the homeless were eliminated years ago. The senior services budget has been cut 40 percent. Parks and recreation cut 66 percent. Road repair, infrastructure repair and capital improvement budgets all slashed.

The school budget's allocation today is lower than in 2010. While hundreds of teaching and support staff positions have been eliminated and multiple schools have been closed, city employment has increased and spending has soared to record levels.

A decade ago, the ratio of school-to-city spending was 64-36 percent. The ratio today stands at 53-47. Under this dramatic shift, the city budget received $40 million in new tax dollars while schools only got $1.4 million.

Avedisian was the only municipal leader to take advantage of a onetime state law stripping $6 million from schools and transferring it to the city budget.

Warwick schools remain the only district in the state paying for capital improvements out of their operating budget, as the former mayor reneged on his promise to fund building repairs. Avedisian froze millions in voter-approved bonding. As a result of years of neglect, schools are crumbling.

A $600 annual out-of-pocket cap on employee family prescription drug benefits, labeled as “unheard-of” by the city's health-care expert, is costing taxpayer $4 million annually. Unfunded liabilities associated with free lifetime health care for city employees and their spouses has reached $300 million. For the first time ever, Warwick’s total actuarial accrued liability has exceeded $1 billion.

Avedisian's fiscal 2019 budget includes multi-million-dollar raises for police and municipal employees. Millions more are budgeted for increased pension and health-care costs. After the settling of the school teacher’s contact, millions more are required to pay for salary and benefit perks.

Yet for the first time ever as mayor, Avedisian submitted a budget with no tax increase. His own finance director, who was retained by Mayor Solomon, abruptly quit without notice, knowing he could not defend such a reckless spending plan containing so many fiscal time bombs ready to explode on the new mayor’s watch.

The current narrative is that the Avedisian left the city in excellent financial shape. Providence residents can recall hearing similar comments from former Mayor David Cicilline.

Mayor Solomon and new City Council President Steve Merolla have been placed in a no-win situation. If new taxes are required, let’s not blame the new administration. That responsibly rests solely on the shoulders of Scott Avedisian, the architect of fiscal ship he built as mayor.

Solomon and Merolla should clearly identify these problems to the public. The first step in solving a problem is recognizing the problem exists.

Many painful decisions await. And unless all stakeholders understand the situation, leaders will never steer the city back to safer waters, and Warwick will sink into insolvency.

Friday, June 8
CrickeeRaven

Bob, no one responded your letter to the editor when it was published; pasting it here won't get you any support.

Your party paased the FY18 budget with a built-in $4.2 million deficit and runs the city now. Avedisian, against whom you supported many candidates (who all lost) is gone. Your scare tactics don't work. Your union-bashing doesn't work. School funding has been level because half-empty schools have been kept open even as enrollment has fallen.

Direct your ire at the people who are actually running the city instead of the former mayor. Or, don't -- except for a few people who share your doom-and-gloom view of the city, no one takes you seriously either way.

Saturday, June 9
richardcorrente

Dear Bob_Cushman,

Your words are, once again, some of the most intelligent of any commenter. I agree with virtually everything you stated but Bob, what would you do to improve the financial condition of the City you clearly love? You have accurately described the problem, but I would like to read your suggestion (s) for a solution. I believe others would as well.

One other minor thing: You said that acting Mayor Solomon and Council President Steve Merolla were in a "no-win situation". I agree, but aren't the rest of the Council included?

Happy Summer everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Sunday, June 10
WwkVoter

corrente tries delusional new angle "tell me a good idea today so I can pretend it is mine tomorrow right here where my campaign is, in the beacon reader comments section..."

with that out of the way, raven, actually it is hard to dispute the percentage of our city budget that is going into pensions and lifetime medical insurance benefits for former, retired employees. and if we are above san jose, and they are the highest in california, then we have only one realistic option, raise taxes.

avedisian did manage to get new hires to expect only single blue cross for life when they retire instead of family. I am not sure if there were any other benefit adjustments and if the cost curve will eventually start to come down, but 28% is a lot.

and we cant "go into bankruptcy" because we have too much available tax revenue. and those benefits were contractually promised. so the ONLY option is to skimp on where you can then raise taxes to meet the obligations all the way around.

(current and near-future) spending cant really be cut, taxes cant really be cut.

warwick will simply have to find efficiencies where it can (and there is some opportunity there), and then adjust the tax rate as needed to cover the required costs. those who dont like it will sell their property and leave for lower tax towns.

as to how high tax rates can go, just look at some communities in new jersey. by the way, MOST communities spend 2/3 on the schools. I wonder why we have an odd approx 50/50 ratio. And it's not all the FF shift swapping fault either! but it might indicate some efficiencies available to be found. maybe RIPEC can help with that.

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/03/nj_towns_with_the_highest_property_tax_bills_2017.html

Sunday, June 10
CrickeeRaven

WwkVoter, I'm not disputing the high costs for retirees. I just don't agree with Cushman's assessment that Warwick is on the brink of fiscal collapse because of it -- he's been saying the same thing for years, and has Warwick had a fiscal crisis like Cranston, Providence, Pawtucket, and Woonsocket? No.

What will lead Warwick into financial problems is increasing spending while not finding efficiencies or raising taxes (sound familiar?).

In any case, Bob is, much like the make-believe mayor who you rightly note is begging him for some kind of legitimate ideas, attacking the former mayor to distract from the problems being created by his party's city councilors -- many of whom have been on the council for many years.

One would think that they would have done something over all those years to stave off the imminent fiscal collapse that Bob has been predicting, since they're the ones who give final approval to the city budget.

That leaves two possibilities: Either the council has taken steps to avoid financial problems and Bob's trying to fool people by saying they didn't; or the Denocrats on the council didn't take those steps and have been delinquent in their duties, which means Bob is trying to fool people by saying they're not responsible for their lack of action.

In the end, though, nothing Bob or the make-believe mayor say (including trying to implicate the group he once calied "the taxpayers council") will influence the city council's decisions.

Sunday, June 10
Bob_Cushman

The fact that R.I. major print and online media outlets such as the Providence Journal, GoLocal Prov, Providence Business News, Warwick Beacon and Cranston Herald have printed dozens of my editorials, speak to who takes my opinion seriously.

Finally I figured the best way to respond to the ridiculous supposition that Avedisian is not responsible for the financial conditions in the city, after serving 18 years as mayor, because there was an opposition Democrat party, is to print an excerpt from my August 19, 2010 op-ed.

BTW, I’m and unaffiliated voter. There is no “your party”.

The Taxpayers' Spin: Warwick Republican's hypocritical attack

Posted Thursday, August 19, 2010 1:28 pm

….

The Warwick Republican Party flip-flop simply demonstrates that when it comes to politics and the political party of our elected leaders, it really doesn’t matter if one is a Democrat or Republican. What matters is maintaining power, control and influence.

Unfortunately, for taxpayers the checks and balances associated with an opposition party viewpoint is obsolete in Warwick. Republican and Democrat affiliation is so perverse that party platform and individual philosophy are no longer relevant in holding members accountable. Receiving an endorsement requires the candidate to become a rubber stamp to the power brokers setting the political agenda. Those in power maintain control by satisfying the interests of a minority of people that enabled them to keep that influence. It becomes a vicious circle with citizens suffering the consequences of a corrupt government.

This isn’t just a Republican and Democrat problem in Warwick; voters share most of the blame since they keep re-electing the same conflicted individuals to office.

Don’t get me wrong, because political leaders are from opposite parties doesn’t mean they shouldn’t work together and oppose each other on every issue. If an idea is good, party politics shouldn’t be a factor. The problem is that making a balanced objective decision that in the long-term is beneficial to overall society isn’t the number one objective of these politicians. Their desire is to remain in office and obtain more power and support regardless of the cost to taxpayers.

How else do you explain the city of Warwick accumulated unfunded liabilities approaching $1 billion? Political favoritism, an out of touch ineffective government is responsible for most of our economic problems today that are bankrupting the city.

The old political adage – make your adversary your supporter – has been a key to Mayor Avedisian’s success since Republicans haven’t had more then two members on the City Council in over 10 years. The mayor has been so successful that he has literally crippled the Democrat party, and in the process, undermined the concept of separation of powers.

The legislative branch has effectively become a yes-man for the mayor. In return for not only political support but also for the jobs and appointed board positions the mayor has given their family and friends, these candidates, once elected, support his legislation, sponsor his appointments, and give him control over the legislative process.

Richard Langseth is being targeted because his campaign actually has a traditional fiscally conservative tone to it - ironically, what most would consider core Republican values designed to reduce the tax burden on Warwick taxpayers.

In this year of widespread voter discontent with incumbent politicians, Avedisian Republican power brokers see Langseth as a threat and instead of challenging his platform, they are resorting to the dirty political tactic of personally attacking his character and credentials.

With new first-time Republican candidates for City Council in Danny Hall in Ward 5 and Mike Mulholland in Ward 6, who seem to have a mindset independent of the administration, challenging pro-Avedisian Democrats, will they receive the same campaign cash from the mayor and support from Warwick’s Republican Party that Mr. Colantuano received two years ago? I seriously doubt it.

At best, the Warwick Republican Party position is hypocritical when comparing Mr. Colantuano to Mr. Langseth. In reality, it’s clear the Warwick Republican party will only support candidates willing to maintain the status quo.

Instead, voters need to elect people with the courage to confront the challenges we face with honesty, diligence, and a sense of shared purpose. Not people interested in maintaining specious supporters that will keep them in office so long as they sell their political soul to make decisions profitable to them.

Monday, June 11
CrickeeRaven

I see, Bob, so the party under whose banner you ran and served as a city councilman (and are now disowning) were lapdogs for Avedisian. And getting your opinions printed counts as popular support. And everyone but you is wrong.

Thanks for clearing that up. I look forward to seeing how little your opinions matter in the next election.

Monday, June 11
Bob_Cushman

Interesting how your style of writing compares to a former Avedisian administrator that I had frequent enjoyable clashes at budget hearing.

But yes I do agree with you on the lapdog point for many but not all past and present city councilors.

Such as Travis, Wilkinson, DelGudice and Place.to name a few. And then there is the former Ward 1 Republican councilman who would frequent just about ever Democrat Warwick General Assumbly candidate.

I look forward to your next editorial in the Projo, Beacon, PBN or GoLoxal Prov.

Monday, June 11
CrickeeRaven

So you answer with conspiracy theories and juvenile insults, Bob. Perfectly in character for you.

Keep thinking that people who disagree with you have to be somehow connected to Avedisian, and that getting your commentary in local media equates to credibility.

You and the make-believe mayor make quite a pair.

Monday, June 11
WwkVoter

Cushman's article nailed it. Absolutely nailed it. How the handful of people running the city (any city, really) trade loyalty for support (and often that "support" means avoiding destructive tactics) to vested people and groups, then can't govern effectively. I believe he attributed this "spiral" to both parties, and still laid the *ultimate* blame on what some see as a lazy, stupid, disinterested voting public.

People get the government they deserve. Warwick voters have absolute power to clean up the process and get us on a track to better schools, roads, infrastructure, at the most reasonable tax bill, but that wont ever happen.

In fact if we look at "pension reform", outsourcing, and other austerity measures, the impetus for that was not the people, or effective leaders, but the powerful force of simply running out of money.

So, this is how we govern? Run it sloppy and take care of special interests until the money runs out. Then react with half-measures after most of the damage is done and limp off into the future with high tax bills, debt, poor, moldy school buildings and crap roads.

Great job American democracy! We all need to do better and stop being so dumb. Take a minute to pay attention and THINK.

Tuesday, June 12
CrickeeRaven

See, WwkVoter, the core issue with Bob is that he wants people to assume the worst about all public employees to distract from his own record.

When he talks about politically-connected employees who he thinks are unfairly profiting from their municipal jobs, he doesn't mention his own history of getting a politically-connected job in Cranston -- only to resign when the city council wouldn't approve his appointment because he wasn't qualified.

Here's the Beacon article where he announced he'd be taking the position of economic development director in Cranston, despite acknowledging that he had "no real history of job creation or actual experience bringing new business to any community."

http://warwickonline.com/stories/cushman-joins-laffey-team,17575?

That article was published on March 31, 2005. On April 22, 2005, the city council voted to deny his appointment -- here's the minutes from that meeting: http://www.cranstonri.com/pdf/calendar_meetings/Apr25,2005_276.pdf

Bob finally resigned in August: https://www.cranstonri.com/pdf/calendar_meetings/Aug22,2005_1877.pdf

So, he was an unqualified applicant getting a politically-connected job that, according to the above article, was "eligible for additional fringe benefits offered other city workers within the mayor's administration."

[One interesting footnote is that current Cranston Mayor and former city councilman Fung voted to give Bob the job.]

This may explain some of the chip that Bob carries on his shoulder about public employees -- that he was denied the chance to be one.

And more to the point, Warwick would already be in a fiscal mess if what he's been saying were true. There's only so much that underlying financial problems can be papered over -- so, as I said before, either the city has been dealing with these issues and Bob is falsely claiming otherwise, or the city council has been directly complicit in failing to address the issues and he's trying to relieve them of any responsibility for it.

You may also notice that the people he names are no longer on the city council, and that some of the current city councilors have been there for almost two decades, yet he doesn't mention their role in passing a FY18 budget that included a 99-percent tax collection rate -- a typical "papering over" move that never works. And it didn't work in Warwick -- that decision by the current city council directly resulted in a $4.2 million deficit in the FY19 budget that raises taxes to the state-imposed limit.

Does Bob mention that in his letter to the editor? No, he doesn't.

Now, please don't think that I disagree about voters getting more educated and electing responsive and responsible officials. If you've gathered anything from my comments, I hope it's that collecting information is important if you're going to debate the issues.

I've presented information about someone who sets himself up as an authority on the city's finances, and about the current budget situation in Warwick, which is now in the hands of his party's city council. [While he has disaffiliated for voting purposes, Bob ran as a Democratic candidate in '02, '06, and '08, and filed campaign finance documents in January with the Board of Elections stating his affiliation as Democratic: https://bit.ly/2l6Kt2y ]

He replies by talking about the past, offering conspiracy theories, and trying to deflect from the current council's responsibilities for its actions.

So when Bob talks about recognizing the problem, I agree that voters should educate themselves so that they don't simply depend on his limited and partisan perspective.

Tuesday, June 12
Bob_Cushman

Thanks WwkVoter.

It’s refreshing to hear from an individual who can be objective and is willing to look at both sides of this debate without resorting to the typical character assassination of one who cannot defend a contrary position.

However you and I coming to that conclusion doesn’t mean we want “people to assume the worst about all public employees” as the former Avedisian administration official, reaping the benefits of the existing system, suggests.

To the contrary.

It means, being willing to open yourself up by taking on a public sector job and using your expertise as a consultant working with Fortune 500 companies, by implementing a process improvement model in your hometown government’s building and permitting department to spur new economic activity that will flourish in a less expensive, expedited time frame without the governmental RED TAPE associated with existing construction permitting process.

It means sacrificing a self made highly profitable private sector business for a short period of time to run for office and call attention to future problems and propose difficult solutions that call on mutual sacrifice from all parties to solve those problems so that they will not inevitable result in future harm to society.

It means wanting a better educational system for our children.

It means wanting better social service programs for the elderly and those in need.

It means wanting better roads and infrastructure.

It means redirecting our limited resources on current city employees who are performing these services today rather than spending almost 50 cents of every new tax dollars collected on past employees who performed services in the past.

And it also means being fair to retired employees by providing reasonable retirement packages that are sustainable without bankrupting all other city and educational programs and services

I guess when you are reaping the benefits from a corrupt system, the last thing you want is for someone to continue to point out that those benefits are unsustainable and destroying this city.

I will conclude any further commentary by once again thanking you for your objective assessment.

Tuesday, June 12
CrickeeRaven

Nice defense of yourself, Bob, along with a false claim about someone else's identity. Too bad none of that answers why you don't hold the current council responsible for its last two budgets.

Tuesday, June 12
WwkVoter

I think the three of us are of the same mind, and want good and proper municipal government. And I don't think anyone disrespected the majority of city employees who work hard to provide us services.

The issue is leadership, and what those in leadership do with their power. We even got into why there are problems there, lack of voter oversight, intrusion of special interest power.

Sorry Raven, you are brilliant and well informed. I only with I could make the case that you do and apply citations. But in this case you may be going after Bob for the wrong reasons. If someone with his position on governance wants into the public sector I am all for it. And if he isn't, as you seem to imply, attacking current council members because he may have an opportunity to apply his values in our government, now that Avedisian has moved on, great.

I do not agree that he should be 'outing' your identity or implying you 'benefit from a corrupt system' because that impugnes the good people inside any bad system, and they are our only hope. And we should respect your choice for anonymity, nor do I agree that you should dig up elements of his bio and try and paint him as attempting to cash in somehow. We can only hope that both of you with your similar values can contribute to improving these issues in our public sector.

Finally, I really liked these words from Cushman:

It means wanting a better educational system for our children.

It means wanting better social service programs for the elderly and those in need.

It means wanting better roads and infrastructure.

It means redirecting our limited resources on current city employees who are performing these services today rather than spending almost 50 cents of every new tax dollars collected on past employees who performed services in the past.

And it also means being fair to retired employees by providing reasonable retirement packages that are sustainable without bankrupting all other city and educational programs and services

WHO CAN ARGUE WITH ANY OF THAT?

Wednesday, June 13
CrickeeRaven

WwkVoter, I'm not against any of the general philosophy that, as you say, we all seem to agree on. The issue with Bob is in how he tries to achieve it. He has held elected office [including running for city council mere months after getting named chairman of the school committee] and backed candidates who, to be generous, did not exactly think that negotiation and compromise are the way to resolve the city's issues.

For all his diplomatic talk, Bob wants to starve the existing pension system of revenue and cut benefits to retirees. He wants people to ignore past concessions from the unions. He wants people to ignore the current pension funding programs that are working.

He also wants people to ignore the city council's role in things like refusing to fund a study on OPEB that would address the issue: http://warwickonline.com/stories/raises-approved-but-discussion-centered-on-retiree-costs,103389?

[To be fair, the council also approved contracts that provided individual health plans instead of family policies and reduced the pension liability by some $30 million -- but that also gets in the way of Bob's all-bad-news narrative.]

In other words, Bob has had many opportunities to encourage [and even participate in] coming up with realistic, practical plans to address the issues he's been talking about for years -- instead, he's been crying 'wolf.'

So, the question is less whether Bob's heart is in the right place and more why, after all these years, have his ideas not gotten any results?

Wednesday, June 13
Reality

It incredible that Bob Cushman is accused of trying to starve the city pension system. The only one who ever accused him of that was Avesidian's former chief of staff during a council meeting.

The taxpayers contributions to the city retirement system has increased year after year while services for the needy, senior citizens had decreased every year by Avedisian. Blamming the city council for all the budget woes now is incredible. Avedisian controlled the former City Council Presidents e.g. Place and Travis. He had is political boot kisser, Vella-Wilkinson , doing his bidding as Finance Committee Chair for years.

Avedisian fingers are all over the fiscal mess the city now finds itself. To say otherwise is a complete fabrication.

Wednesday, June 13
Bob_Cushman

I guess I have to reengage and pluck a few more feathers off of the Raven.

So let me examine the Raven’s post, point by point.

Number 1: “He (Me) also wants people to ignore the city council's role in things like refusing to fund a study on OPEB that would address the issue”.

So here is an article on that issue so all the rest of you can keep up with this debate. Pay particular attention to the quote “… although a number of critics, and most especially former Councilman Robert Cushman, have been talking about ‘legacy costs’ for years”.

http://warwickonline.com/stories/the-opeb-elephant,103429?

A few years back the council did take up the Mayor’s proposal to put $50,000 into an OPEB trust fund administered by the mayor’s buddies on the Interlocal trust in which he was a director (conflict of interest).

http://warwickonline.com/stories/mayor-targets-unfunded-liability,112409?

The council rejected the proposal because in effect what the Mayor was proposing was a Bernie Madoff style Ponzi scheme. The TRUST officials testified to the city council that by placing a meager $50,000 in an OPEB account, the council could write off $150,000,000 of the near $300 million in OPEB liabilities. Steve Merolla (the current Council President) led the charge in getting the Trust officials to gleefully admit to this fact.

Listen to the testimony here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX7uImhkJgs&t=610s

(pay particular attention to the 6 minute mark)

Raven probably missed this meeting since he was too busy cashing his $100K Warwick pension retirement checks while working at his current $100+K job.

Number 2: “Bob wants to starve the existing pension system of revenue and cut benefits to retirees”.

10 year cumulative pension funding $257,852,070

10 year cumulative active & retiree healthcare funding $73,630,995

10 year cumulative active employee healthcare funding $191,112,110

Total 10 year active/ retiree pension & healthcare benefit funding $522,595,175

10 year cumulative Police funding = $179,844,299

10 year cumulative Fire funding = $218,560,480

10 year cumulative Social Service funding = $56,138,673

10 year cumulative Physical Resources (DPW) funding = $141,719,564

Raven, please explain how funding over a quarter of a billion dollars on pension benefit over 10 years equates to “starving the pension system of revenue” while just about every other department’s percent of the overall city budget has decreased and school funding is below 2010 levels?

Please explain why how almost 50 cents of every new tax dollar is now paying for retiree expenses?

Please explain how going from 19% of the budget to 28% of the city budget in retiree cost, meets your definition of starving the pension system?

Point Number 3: “To be fair, the council also approved contracts that provided individual health plans instead of family policies and reduced the pension liability by some $30 million”.

Nice to nit pick on the facts. If you do some additional research in the pension valuation reports you will find the pension liability actually increased by over $75 million during the same period of time as a result of a reduction in unrealistic assumption that I as well as many others have been questioning for years and was soundly attacked by the you and the rest of the administration.

If in reality the pension liability was reduced, wouldn’t the annual required contributions (tax dollars) also have been reduced? Fact is pension costs keep increasing to record levels each year.

Point Number 4: Those HSA plans. Just a few weeks ago and since those plans were put into effect, I have requested the administration provide the analysis that the plans have reduced costs. No analysis has ever been done. In fact when I first asked the Personnel Director how the administration came up with the $4,000 annual HAS figure, he said they copied what Cranston gave to their police officers. Brilliant negotiating move.

Point Number 5: “In other words, Bob has had many opportunities to encourage [and even participate in] coming up with realistic, practical plans to address the issues he's been talking about for years -- instead, he's been crying 'wolf.'”

Raven since you are so found of pasting links to past Beacon articles here are a few you should read and then come back to me with an argument that I have not been consistent for well over a decade in identifying the problems we are now facing and not proposing any “practical plan to address the issues” back in 2007 while on the council.

And just think if we tackled some of these issue back then where we would be today.

http://warwickonline.com/stories/cushman-crusade-for-show-or-for-real,33501?

http://warwickonline.com/stories/council-passes-ordinance-to-end-insurance-buybacks,3775?

http://warwickonline.com/stories/avedisian-vetoes-ordinance-to-end-city-health-care-buybacks,17119?

http://warwickonline.com/stories/council-empowers-mayor-to-hire-fire-chief-from-outside-department,32032?

http://warwickonline.com/stories/cushman-crusade-for-show-or-for-real,33501?

http://warwickonline.com/stories/man-in-the-middle,21874?

Wednesday, June 13
CrickeeRaven

You feel better about yourself and your past failures, Bob? Because I know that's what really matters to you.

Another wall of text does nothing to actually answer the question of the council's current responsibility.

And stop with the false claims about my identity. Last time you guessed, I was supposedly connected to the Warwick Post.

But you go ahead, Bob, keep trying to get somewhere with your doom and gloom.

Wednesday, June 13
Bob_Cushman

Hey Mark, if this was a hockey fight they would be scrapping your face off the ice and carrying you out on a stretcher.

It’s called a TKO in boxing!

You may get orgasmic debating and bulling Richard Corrente but that's like the Boston red Sox playing West Side Little League. You’re in the big boy league of debating when you take me on. You see I know the facts, I know the city budget. I know your direct responsibility in being an architect that built this system all to enrich yourself and your conflicted buddies at the expense of Warwick’s school children, the elder and all the people struggling to make a living in this city.

But you don’t have to worry about that, with your 6 figure Warwick pension, another 6 figure job with another municipality, jobs for your family and lifetime free healthcare benefits that are bankrupting all other programs and services in the city.

I don’t blame you for resorting to ad hominem attacks.That's about all you can do when I come back with facts to counter your foolish accusations. You can’t defend your point so you continue to try to discredit me to save yourself from embarrassment. It's not working, others reading this blog can see that. Instead you turtle like the school yard bully that finally has met his match.

That’s you Mark, a key board bully, a fraud who along with the former mayor and his administration are more responsible for a decade plus of unsustainable contract giveaways that are bankrupting city programs and services then the past two budgets passed by the current council (which BTW were terrible and did nothing to solve the program you help create).

If you ever grow a set and would like to participate in a real debate, let me know. I will contact the Beacon and they can arrange a public forum in which to do it.

Oh, that’s right you would never do that since that would require you to show some courage and come out of the closest, actually identify yourself and try to defend your dismal record of failure in the City of Warwick.

Mike drop and I am out!

5 days ago
CrickeeRaven

Wow, Bob, you just proved your nearly inexhaustible capacity to embarrass yourself. Another several-hundred-word rant that is even more full of lies than the make-believe mayor.

So you think I'm Mark Carruolo, who left as chief of staff in 2014. Maybe you can explain, then, why I started commenting on the site in 2016. Or maybe you have another guess? There were 26,000+ of us who voted for Avedisian in '16, Bob -- so you still have several thousand more chances to get it right.

And I don't know what "facts" you think you've presented, except that you have nothing to show for all your bluster and attention-seeking. One of those links you posted was about resolutions you wanted the city council to pass - including one that would "outlaw lifetime health care for employees."

How did that work out, Bob? Oh, right, Warwick retirees still get healthcare for life -- but their families don't.

Another of those links were to an article where you wanted to end the buyback program for employees who don't take city-provided healthcare.

How did that work out, Bob? Oh, right, that plan was vetoed.

See, Bob, it's not about what you've wanted, or tried to do, or gotten talk radio attention for -- it's about what you have actually influenced in terms of change in the city. And the answer is nothing.

What's most pathetic about your premature mic drop [not "mike drop"] is that you even admit it -- all your dire warnings and conspiracy theories haven't reduced pension payments, they haven't lowered the tax burden to fund them, and they haven't put people in place who would actually make the changes you want.

That's why you keep side-stepping the point, crying about "ad hominem attacks" [while falsely trying to guess my identity], and claiming you've "won." Funny that you brought up the make-believe mayor: Those are all directly from his playbook.

So, go ahead and pat yourself on the back, Bob. You're the only one who will.

5 days ago
richardcorrente

I just finished reading these hundreds of lines of comments and one thing comes to light.

Bob_Cushman and Ron Paul spoke proudly from their own real names. That shows responsibility and integrity. These are people who obviously stand by their word and have earned our admiration. Their words should be respected.The rest are hiding behind fake names. That's cowardly. Especially you Mark!

Fake news. Fake sources. Fake people. Fake names.

Happy Summer everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

4 days ago
CrickeeRaven

The losing tax delinquent candidate who uses a fake title and fake data to create fake stories still insists on setting terms for using a site he does not own or manage. Facts (including those about his tax delinquency and lies about Warwick's population, school enrollment, and business sector) are no less true because they are presented by peopke using screen names.

He has again willingly humiliated himself on the way to another overwhelming loss. (Thanks for drawing him out again, Bob!)

4 days ago
Bob_Cushman

No problem Mark.

BTW next time you see Ernie, tell him I said hi.

Tell him what a brilliant move on his part to jump off the Warwick Titanic after the trio of the former mayor, you and him drove us into the iceberg.

Isn’t government great when you can perform dismally in your job and still get to collect a 6 figure pension and lifetime healthcare and are considered qualified to receive another 6 figure salary from the state or the neighboring town and start building up for another double dipping pension payment?

You know I was actually contemplating moving there but when I realized the same Skipper, Gillian and Mary Ann consisted of the town management team, I quickly reconsidered.

Be sure to say hello if you ever see me in city hall, as you say, spreading my doom and gloom.

4 days ago
CrickeeRaven

So typical of you, Bob, that once you get something in your head, you stick with it no matter what other information is provided.

You're making an accusation without proof, despite being told that you're wrong. That's pretty much normal for you, although you typically try to dig up another piece of information that you can then twist to fit your narrative -- but not this time, for some reason.

If you're so sure, why not go to West Warwick and ask Mark directly, instead of pretending to engage him on this website?

Be sure to report back what he says. I'm sure it'll be very enlightening.

2 hours ago