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Guest MINDSETTER ™ Tom Kenney: Show Me the Money! Show Me the Savings!

Tuesday, August 04, 2015


Mayor Jorge Elorza

Mayor Elorza, no doubt pushed by his COO Brett Smiley, began what Providence firefighters consider a personal attack – a restructuring of the Providence Fire Department to eliminate overtime.

We consider it a personal attack because the numbers don’t even come close to saving any money, much less $5-6 million per year. First of all, the overtime problem within the PFD is a City choice – always has been. The past mayors have chosen to pay overtime because they believe that this is cheaper than fully staffing the department. I don’t know at which point in paying overtime that it becomes more costly than new hires, but it is always the choice of the City, not the Providence firefighters’ union.

As for the actual #’s supporting or disproving the savings, I submit the following in very rough (but real) numbers.

400 FF’s x 30%+ raise ($300+) x 52 =  $6,240,000 per year…..where's the savings?

Truly Befuddling

It befuddles me as to why the Mayor claims that he will save $5-6 million a year. It seems to me that it would be a wash at best for the City.

On the other hand there is a lot at risk for the City if they continue down this path. I believe that the providence firefighters will never stop fighting this change, no matter what the monetary offer on the table. This change forces enormous life style changes and family changes on our members. If the City loses this battle in court or arbitration the retroactive payment due to the firefighters will be around $12 million per year this schedule remains in effect – plus interest.

The City’s latest strategy asks the court to call the present union contract as null and void. If this happens, the pension concessions Local799 has given to the City as part of these contracts would also be null and void. The result of this would add $200 million dollars the pension system’s unfunded liability.

On top of this there were concessions in each of the last 5 yearly contracts that could also be considered null and void forcing the City to repay Providence firefighters $5-6 million p/year affected.

These possible costs to the City could very well plunge the City into financial chaos. Is it worth the gamble? I would say that, especially because any savings at all are suspect, it is an extremely irresponsible gamble with taxpayers’ money!

I understand that on the surface taxpayers may want to support the efforts of the new mayor to attempt to control costs, but it needs to be actual savings…and not at such an ill advised gamble.

Tom Kenney is the Captain of the Providence Fire Department


Related Slideshow: Reactions to Mayor Elorza’s Inauguration Speech

Providence residents, community leaders, and elected officials turned out in the face of cold temperatures to hear Providence's newest Mayor, Jorge Elorza, give is inauguration speech at Providene City Hall on Monday, January 5.  

Read Mayor Elorza's speech HERE.

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Jim Vincent

"I thought it was great, it showed a lot of optimism. He has a plan. I think he knows the city, I like the fact he's a young guy - you'll need a lot of energy to move the city forward, and I pledge to work with him."

- Jim Vincent, NAACP Providence Branch President

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Sam Zurier

"I thought it was comprehensive.  It was thorough -- I iwas expecting a few themes, but he went into a lot of areas.  I look forward to working with him."

- Sam Zurier, Providence City Councilman

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Jo-Ann Ryan

"I'm excited to work with the Mayor and new council.  I love Providence.  I'm excited to have a new Mayor focused on arts, culture, recreation, which are all important to me.  He's got a wonderful vision, and I look forward to working with him."

- Jo-Ann Ryan, Providence City Councilwoman

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Seth Magaziner

"I thought it was excellent speech, I thought it laid out an ambitious agenda.  As a Providence resident, I think we need a Mayor who thinks about the big picture.  I thought he had good specifics.  The Treasurer's office being a financial office, I stand ready to assist the mayor's office and his team with the city's finances.  We have a lot of work to do, and I look forward to it."

- Seth Magaziner, Rhode Island General Treasurer

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James Diossa

"I'm very excited that the Mayor's taken on the job that was started by the previous administration.  I look forward to working with him, he's got new energy, ideas.  He's innovative, and looking for ways for the city to stand out and be successful."

- James Diossa, Mayor of Central Falls

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Kobi Dennis

"It was refreshing to say the least.  I liked that he had the community component, and I just thought people felt included.  He talked about some of the things that [former Mayor] Taveras was doing, but not in the beginning.  It's a new beginning, it's a new start."

- Kobi Dennis, Founder of Project Night Vision

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Nellie Gorbea

"It was great.  It's an exciting time for the entire state.  Having Mayor Elorza at the helm is important, because he's a leader, and leadership matters. I'm excited to work with him."

- Nellie Gorbea, Rhode Island Secretary of State

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Keith Oliveira

"I thought it was a powerful, visionary speech.  Much of what he's talking about is in line with what the school board is moving towards - neighborhood schools, arts education policies, so having [the Mayor's office] get behind that is great. Redirecting resources from central administration to the schools, we've been moving forward with our school autonomy policy, so much of what I've heard is in line with what we're trying to do."

- Keith Oliveria, Providence School Board President


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