As reported this week in the Warwick Beacon, the summary of the findings of the FY2018 Audit contradict the information presented in the “State of the City” speech delivered by Mayor Solomon in March. Despite the fact that the fiscal condition of the City was accurately presented to Solomon and his administration by Mayor Avedisian, Mayor Solomon entered into a political narrative of negativity along with City Council President Steve Merolla and Council Finance Committee Chairman Ed Ladouceur.
As residents and voters in Rhode Island's third largest city, we demand a "Taxpayer Audit" detailing the activities during the last 18 months of the all-Democratic controlled executive and legislative branches of Warwick municipal government.
It would reveal little substance in moving the needle on our behalf and that the people we elected and count on most to manage our resources and programs, plan growth initiatives and provide accurate information about the condition of our city, failed us.
This void in leadership allowed misinformation, exaggerations and falsehoods to enter the public domain. The chaos, drama and diminished reputation that Warwick has suffered is unacceptable. The fear of instability for residents and business investors as well as the hopeless scenario put upon our young people and senior residents are inexcusable.
Transparency has gone the way of accountability in City Hall. It is non-existent.
Our 18-month audit of the Solomon Administration begs for a few questions:
Did Warwick taxpayers really have to be levied the maximum tax increase?
What is the status of the Annex Renovation? What is with the delay?
Are we covered by our insurance and if not, why?
How many employees have been terminated and/or retired in the last 18 months? How much did it cost the City in severance and unemployment benefits as a result of this turnover?
How many Emergency Purchase Orders have been executed in the last 18 months?
How much were the renovations at the Buttonwoods Senior Center?
What are the costs to Warwick's economic development efforts for spinning incredulous falsehoods over the past 18 months? Could we have obtained better terms in the sale and lease of retired school buildings and vacant properties?
The Democrats that hold the political power in Warwick spun a conspiracy theory that has been debunked. Eighteen years of leadership and stewardship under Mayor Avedisian left a Warwick better than he found it, with a series of initiative and policy successes and consensus building. The current administration's 18 months have been rife with chaos, drama and misrepresentations.
This is what happens in a one party system where checks and balances do not exist. People become lazy, complacent and disengaged. They go along to get along. They react instead of lead. We need proactive leaders that will pay attention, read legislation and contracts and challenge the status quo.
Now that we know the rest of the story there will be questions to answer and changes to be made. Warwick’s future is in the hands of the voters and, if the recent past is the best we’ve got, then the 2020 elections are critical for Warwick's well-being, as it is up to the voters to affect the change and genuine leadership we need to promote growth and stability.
Rick Cascella is chairman of the Warwick GOP.