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Donna Perry: A Strike Against the Taxpayers’ Best Interests

Thursday, August 30, 2012

 

The fireworks that went off over North Kingstown’s school district this week seemed to fade from sight quickly as the courts ordered school staff to report to school after just one day on a picket line.

But the reality is, the underlying cause of what seemed to be an unexpected disruption to the start of the school year has been long in the making and opens a window on why communities, whether it’s North Kingstown or anywhere else, have so much trouble reducing costs, particularly in the school department.

An all too familiar narrative started unfolding Monday night as the statewide NEA machine pulled out the playbook, kicked into gear, steered union bodies from around the state toward North Kingstown, and suddenly a cost effective move by a School Committee involving just over two dozen jobs was under a full frontal attack.

It’s the outsourcing of 26 janitors’ jobs, and possibly other school jobs in the days to come, that ended up hijacking progress that seemed underway in separate contract negotiations involving school aides or paraprofessionals. Make no mistake about it: it was an NEA staged and scripted stunt that not only held hostage the first day of school, but produced the additional spectacle of parents unknowingly placing children on school buses before learning they would be met with a picket line rather than greeted by school staff for their first day.

It went so far as having signs proclaiming “Economic Violence” paraded in front of media cameras. One can only hope most school kids were not exposed to an undoubtedly confusing reference to violence, (perpetrated by whom? town officials trying to cut costs?) on a sign carried by someone who works in their school.

To be fair, some who side with the union’s defense of the custodians note there are an excessive number of overly compensated administrator level staff positions that never seem to be on the firing line and that is likely an assessment that has some merit.

But when a school committee can identify a savings of roughly half a million dollars, which privatizing the custodians is projected to do, it can’t ignore the option nor the option of further outsourcing savings down the line. ( The union ally school committee member who pointed to an expected surplus as justification for hiring back the janitors seems to ignore the benefit of redirecting a surplus to other needs rather than use it up to maintain the status quo.)

This week’s North Kingstown brouhaha is really just one small chapter in a much wider saga about attaining more affordable communities in Rhode Island. How will the cost of local government in this state ever match the local residents’ ability to pay, when attempts to shrink the size and cost of the employee ranks, whether within the school systems, or in other areas are met with such a repetitive well-rehearsed shove back?

In the coming days, the RI Statewide Coalition, RISC, will unveil a Taxpayers’ Issues Platform for the fall campaigns for state Legislature which sets as one of its wider goals the attainment of more affordable communities in Rhode Island. Rather than issuing individual endorsements for candidates in specific house and senate district races, this year RISC will point to an index of issue areas, ranging from votes and track records on pension reform and municipal spending; to positions on tax rates and economic development loan programs; to education reform. Though these issues cover wide ground, they fall under an umbrella goal of making Rhode Island communities more affordable for average Rhode Islanders and more in line with comparable communities elsewhere.

As we roll out the Taxpayers’ Platform, we will urge voters to assess whether incumbents and new challengers in their districts fit the profile of a legislator who is working for the best interests of their community and taxpayers—or working against them. Though the picket line in North Kingstown held back school for just one day, it ultimately represents a distinctive strike against the taxpayers’ best interests that has far reaching implications in the days to come.

Donna Perry is the Executive Director of RISC, RI Statewide Coalition - http://www.statewidecoalition.com
 

 

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Comments:

Donna, can you try something? Can you pretend, for one second, that you're not a well-paid, privileged woman. Pretend you're a working-class janitor who works hard and faces real challenges providing for your family as is. Now pretend your job gets out-sourced, and you have the possibility of getting it back at about 70% of salary, minus the health insurance and pension. In other words, around a 40-45% pay cut. This will do inestimable damage to you, your family, and your children's prospects. Can you really not see how that's economic violence? Can you really not understand why people would protest this?

And that's just the micro view. Here's the macro view--this has been happening, again and again, for the last 20 or so years, and it's why nobody has any money to spend. It's why our economy is so poor--because we've destroyed our middle-class consumer base with these idiotic "cost-saving" strategies.

Comment #1 by Aaron Regunberg on 2012 08 30

Don't worry Aaron. She's just a vacuous airbag. Look at that picture - it's just one more stay-at-home-mom who treats her husband as a sugar daddy and never worked a day in her life.

And even though she never had a job, other than pleasing the hubby for a new luxury SUV, she's happy to take yours and mine away.

Plus she's got dem Bachmann eyes. And that's just creepy.

Comment #2 by Eazy Now on 2012 08 30

Public sector unions should be completely eliminated. Privatize everything, and pay FAIR compensation packages that don't crush property owners with unsustainable debt loads.

Public sector unions are economically killing this state. Businesses and jobs are being crushed by excessive taxes, exorbitant fees and endless blizzards of regulations. RI is like the Titanic after hitting the iceberg - many people are still in denial, but this ship is going down unless we plug the massive union leaks.

Comment #3 by Dave Johnson on 2012 08 30

The unions are out of cotrol. Plain and simple.

Comment #4 by Joel Hovanesian on 2012 08 30

Donna,

Well said. The essential point is that ordinary, tax-paying people and no longer afford the cost of government. We welcome ways to save on the cost of providing services. What is the alternative? Endlessly rising taxes on property and income so that our hard work is increasingly pointless?

The public employee unions have for too long looked at the taxpayer as that endless source of revenue. They must wake up to reality. We are not and will not be their cash dispensing machines.

Those unions are indeed well organized, with slick, powerful tactics and rhetoric. We taxpayers have to, and are, standing up as well. We certainly don't have the slickness and power of the unions. But we know fiscal reality and we have honesty on our side.

I applaud the NK school officials who sought to privatize a school function. We need more of that. And we need the honest assessment that Donna Perry and others bring to the debate. Thank you.

Comment #5 by Art West on 2012 08 30

Are you a conservative or not?

Because the $500,000 of "savings" will come from hiring dirty illegal immigrants who will steal from your children at school.

I'd rather pay higher property taxes than give an illegal one hour of work.

They're ILLEGAL!

And they are ruining this country.

And if you take a job from a true Rhode Islander and give it to an Illegal Spanish Maid just to save a buck, you are a traitor to your country, state, and town.

And you cannot call yourself a conservative.

Comment #6 by Eazy Now on 2012 08 30

Take it easy there Eazy.

You're an obvious union dude (and a clever one at that) working your special distraction "magic." NEA guy is my guess, maybe even John Leidecker himself...

Comment #7 by Art West on 2012 08 30

Dude, I'm a student, not a union guy.

But, as long as we're starting rumors, I think I saw you at the "special club" down Allen's Ave. last weekend. But I don't think you saw me through the blindfold and the glory hole.

You do look good in white though!

Comment #8 by Eazy Now on 2012 08 30

LOL at "Eazy Muthfine" who is precisely following the doctrine of radical Liberals - i.e., name-calling and mud-slinging.

And "Eazy", have you ever held a real job? Have you ever had to support a family? Have you ever had to run a business? Have you ever had to meet a payroll? In other words, have you ever had any real responsibilities at all????? LOL, I think not. Go fire up your bong and quit posting this nonsense.......

Comment #9 by Dave Johnson on 2012 08 30

Dave,

Correct. Straight out of Saul Alinsky's Rules For Radicals. You did, however, forget to include "ridicule." Although, Eazy does not do a great job at it.

Comment #10 by Art West on 2012 08 30

Hey, Dave & Art,

I'm a 20 year old student who posts in between classes and working nights. What's your excuse for being on here during work hours?

Boy the life of "real businessmen" like you must be tough. I'm sure you're busy building our future and creating jobs by frittering around on the internet.

Art, you started this by making stuff up. So I showed you I can make stuff up too. But, while you can dish it out, you can't take it. So you need your little friend to come along and help out.

Do you really think I need to channel Saul Alinsky's ghost to know you're an unemployed jerk who contributes nothing to society?

I'm sure you stay up late at night watching ancient aliens and trying to figure out who was on the grassy knoll, you old coot.

Comment #11 by Eazy Now on 2012 08 30

Eazy,

No, I run a business. Being on the computer for many hours is part of my work. I, like you, post when I see important articles that need comment. I can work and comment simultaneously. My original post here is what I really have to say, and I saw fit to answer your response to it. Your ridicule is fine with me, and enlightening.

Comment #12 by Art West on 2012 08 30

The first two commenters Aaron & Eazy should be ashamed at personally attacking anyone who writes an opinion piece. Below the belt and a disgusting display of a lack of manners, class, credibility, and decorum. Disagree with her opinion, fine, then state yours and your supporting argument. Your side does not win any votes with those kind of attacks.

That being said I agree wholeheartedly with the opinion expressed by "Art West."

Comment #13 by Patrick McHugh on 2012 08 30

Patrick,

Sorry, bub. You can't qualifyyour "side" as the only one with class.

I just don't want vacuous soccer moms like Donna Perry deciding the future for this country. Get a real job, then get back to us.

And I am 100% sure that NK will replace these normal, working Rhode Islanders with illegal immigrant Spanish Maids for less than minimum wage.

That's always what happens.

And you're either a part of the illegal immigrant problem, or a part of the solution.

She's part of the problem.

And so are you.

Comment #14 by Eazy Now on 2012 08 30

Eazy, Patrick didn't say anything about his "side" being the only one with class. He was merely pointing out your lack of it. Personal attacks won't get you too far in this world so you should try other tacts.

Comment #15 by Patrick Boyd on 2012 08 30

Art and Pat, it's senseless to have a battle of wits with an unarmed man!

Comment #16 by Joel Hovanesian on 2012 08 30

Eazy,

I've owned and operated assorted businesses in Rhode Island since 1972. I speak from direct experience about the challenges that one faces when trying to operate a viable business in this state. Instead of getting better, the anti-business climate is steadily getting worse. Taxes, fees and regulations increase at an astonishing rate.

Honestly, you have to be a business owner to truly appreciate the gravity of the situation. Business and job growth in RI will suffer for many years. And I see no improvement, so long as the unions control the GA.

Good luck in your studies. Hopefully, as part of your curriculum somewhere, you will learn to have an intelligent discourse with more civility and respect.

Comment #17 by Dave Johnson on 2012 08 30

Eazy – just a couple of questions for clarification... First one is – what evidence do you have that qualifies your statement that the replacement workers will be “dirty illegal immigrants?” As far as I know, Government agencies – including municipalities – are bound by law to require documentation for all sub-contracted employees to ensure that they are able to legally seek employment in the US. This means visas etc – commonly called “papers.”

Second question is – what justification do you have that all illegal immigrants are dirty? Or, for that matter, that they are Spanish? Illegal immigrants come to this country from Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, Russia, Poland, Vietnam, Korea and a myriad of other countries. By the way – are they dirty too?

The base for your comments is valid. If you had proof that illegal aliens would end up with the jobs that would be taken away from these people, I’d stand there and hold up a sign with you. But, your statements are simply vindictive and you speak in generalities that cause much of the political tension that exists in this country. I applaud your standing up for what you think is good and right – but get your facts right. In this case, you’re just showing all that read your posts that you are nothing but a bigot with a chip on his or her shoulder.

Comment #18 by Jeff Parenteau on 2012 08 30

Jeff,

You misunderstand. Eazy was baiting me in his response to my first post. He saw me as a conservative and tried to use racist terminology in attempt to get me to say something negative about "illegals."

It's a typical tactic of the liberal progressives. I'm sure Eazy is in favor of illegal immigration and in his caricature view of fiscal conservatives, he could "expose my hatred." I've found that's the way many of the progressive activists think.

That's my analysis.

Comment #19 by Art West on 2012 08 30

Aaron & Easy, your comments are basic cheap shots that have no bearing or contribute any substance on the article as was written. I find them offensive and perhaps reflects on your inability to provide positive discussion to the subject matter. If you can’t raise the bar on the discussion, then don’t submit one. Thank you.

Comment #20 by Lance Chappell on 2012 08 30

Mr. Regunberg, what you describe as “economic violence” is normal business practice that is done in the private sector to protect the bottom line. If you are running a business, which apparently you have no experience in, you would understand that if you are dealing with a declining revenue stream, you must find ways to cut the overhead. Yes, it does hurt the people that are being affected by these decisions but in not doing it, you are risking going out of business OR in the case of the public sector, you run the risk of running out of money and being forced to go to the taxpayers for more money. Is that fair to them? Many taxpayers have lost their jobs and do not have those resources to extend to those public employees. Which is fair to who? The lesson that has to be learned here is that we are living in a severe recession, if not a depression and people have to cut back their life styles to match what they are earning. Doesn’t it make more sense to at least earn a living with the job you have rather than sit on the curb and have nothing? Remember, some of these people were rehired and lower pay and fewer benefits. If they had refused that job, they would have had no chance of unemployment benefits at all. Sometimes, half a loaf is better than none.

Comment #21 by Lance Chappell on 2012 08 30

Great analysis, Donna. With the fifth highest state and local tax burden, any "economic violence" (ridiculous, hyperventilating term) has actually been committed against Rhode Island taxpayers. Perhaps the biggest contributing factor to this state of affairs has been the very generous compensation - not just salary but healthcare and pensions - that state and local governments have for decades extended to public employees. It has literally broken the state and locals.

North Kingstown has recognized this and is simply trying to slow these costs.

Comment #22 by Monique Chartier on 2012 08 31




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