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Cicilline “Ruined” Providence’s Finances, Opponent Says

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

 

A new audit of Providence finances shows the city is still struggling to get its fiscal house in order, something critics blame squarely on former Mayor and current Congressman David Cicilline.

In the introduction to the audit, the city’s former acting finance director Lawrence Mancini noted that the city is still attempting to rebound from the national recession as well as the foreclosure crisis and the audit shows the city’s “liabilities for its government activities exceeded its assets” by more than $100 million during the fiscal year that ended June 30.

One of the glaring issues in the audit, according to former Congressional candidate Anthony Gemma, is the city’s still-depleted rainy day fund, which sits at just over $3.7 million, down from more than $22 million in the 2008 fiscal year. Gemma, who is likely to run against Cicilline again this year, has long criticized Cicilline for not telling the truth about the city’s finances during his 2010 campaign.

“David Cicilline ruined Providence’s finances, he lied about it throughout the 2010 election cycle, and he’s lying about it today,” Gemma said Monday. “Through the final weeks of his congressional campaign, David Cicilline denied tapping the undesignated surplus, or rainy day fund. He looked us in the eye and told us that close to $30 million was left in that account. He was lying through his teeth. The real number was around ten percent of that figure. And he knew it.”

Difficult Decisions Still Have to be Made

Records show that in the final year of Cicilline’s tenure as Mayor, the city’s rainy day fund went from having just over $17 million to barely more than $2 million, something the Congressman has blamed on a perfect storm of severe cuts in the state aid and a recession that created a deep budget deficit. The rainy day fund, Cicilline has argued, was designed specifically for fiscal crises like the one he faced toward the end of his time as Mayor.

The audit points out that in Mayor Angel Taveras’ first year in office, the city was forced to close five schools, raise property taxes, lower the car tax exemption and increase fees for parking, mattress disposal, fire hydrants, master alarm fire boxes and overnight parking. The city is still also hoping to receive about $7 million extra in payments in lieu of taxes from tax exempt institutions, most notably Brown University.

According to City Councilman David Salvatore, keeping the city’s finances in order is just one of many issues that have to be considered as part of a comprehensive effort to rein in the costs of municipal government. He said he believes the city has done a “decent job” keeping its spending under control, but noted that without generating more revenue, it will be difficult to increase the city’s rainy day fund back to where it was prior to 2009. Salvatore warned that more difficult decision may have to be made.

“While difficult decisions have been made in the last year, we must continue to take a serious look at the operation of city government,” he said. “We may have to - once again - consider across-the-board cost reductions while continuing to deliver quality services to our citizens. At the end of the day, everyone needs to be committed to making the changes that are necessary to reduce spending and protect taxpayers.”

Providence GOP Chair: Cicilline Pillaged the Rainy Day Fund

For Providence Republican Chairwoman Tara Pinsky, those difficult decisions all too often result in a hike in taxes, something she says residents simply cannot afford. Pinsky blames Cicilline for claiming the city was in “excellent financial condition” but leaving it with “unavoidably huge deficits” for the foreseeable future.

“[Congressman Cicilline] left our city in such dire straits that Moody's dropped our bond rating like a hot potato soon after his shameless campaign and election,” Pinsky said. “Our former Mayor, who proclaimed our city’s financial condition to be excellent while he campaigned, has left Providence with unavoidably huge projected deficits until 2015, lower-income residents are without heat, closing of 4 schools, and all our taxes will be increasing substantially to pay for the former Mayor’s remorseless lack of transparency and accountability.”

Pinsky also claims Cicilline violated the city charter by using the rainy day fund without getting approval of the City Council. A report issued by the Council last April backed up those claims and offered a five-point plan for replenishing the fund. The report also noted that the rainy day fund was just .05 percent of the total budget, significantly lower than the majority of municipalities with “Aaa” or “A” credit ratings from Moody’s.

“All Providence residents and taxpayers should know that our City Council amended an ordinance because our former Mayor pillaged the Rainy Day Fund without unilateral consent,” Pinsky said. “While Cicilline is in DC promoting himself as a concerned Congressman, we are left back here in Providence digging out of the enormous fiscal hole he left behind.”

Gemma: A Dishonorable Man

The Cicilline campaign did not wish to comment for this story, but Gemma, who is expected announce his candidacy by the end of February, and a spokesperson for Republican candidate Brendan Doherty, questioned the former Mayor’s record in Providence, an topic that is sure to be a prominent issue during the campaign.

“Congressman Cicilline’s record in the City of Providence speaks for itself,” Doherty spokesman Robert Coupe said. “Brendan Doherty is running for Congress because he has the commitment and experience to fight the enormous waste and mismanagement of hard-earned tax dollars in Washington, DC. Wasteful government spending burdens taxpayers, hurts small businesses that we count on to create jobs and threatens the future of critical programs such as Medicare and Social Security. Once elected to Congress, Brendan will work to bring fiscal accountability to Washington, DC and to restore the faith of Rhode Islanders in our representatives in government.”

Gemma was more forward with his jabs, suggesting Cicilline “repeatedly breaks that most sacred of trusts upon which a democracy is built: the trust between the people and their freely elected representatives.”

“All voters of Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District must ask themselves if they are prepared to vote for an incompetent public servant and a dishonorable man who will lie repeatedly to them and, in the process, shatter the very foundation of our democratic system of government just to get elected,” Gemma said.

 

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Comments:

We can no longer afford these self-serving, high maintenance, clueless jerks. Please do your part in Nov and VOTE THEM OUT.

Comment #1 by Chris MacWilliams on 2012 01 17

Cicilline is a fraud and a liar! Is there any doubt? Another day,another discovery. He needs to go!

Comment #2 by guy smily on 2012 01 17

Cicilline needs to go as a Democrat I hope my other Democrats realize,he ruined Providence,lets not reward him with another term!

Comment #3 by anthony sionni on 2012 01 17

Cicilline spent down the Rainy Day Fund so he didn't have to cut expenses or raise taxes. He avoided doing anything that would make him less popular with the voters because he wanted to run for Congress. He trashed Providence for his own political gain. He has also insulted the people of this City. Does he actually think we are so stupid we wouldn't notice?

Cicilline lied to the voters during his campaign for Congress. He stole the election from John Loughlin. It is tantamount to lying on his job application. This citizen asks that the Attorney General launch an investigation into the fraud and wrong doing during Cicilline's time in the City Hall and during the election. He should be looking at jail time. At the very least he should be fired.

Comment #4 by James Berling on 2012 01 17

"Cicilline 's campaign didn't wish to comment for this story". I guess they need more time to get the right lie to tell. He should do RI a favor and not run.

Comment #5 by peter costello on 2012 01 17

Keep in that its not only Providence voters that have their say in the upcoming election, but the whole,soon to be newly aligned first district, ladened with senior high rises, his REAL voters.

Comment #6 by David Beagle on 2012 01 17

it is pretty hard to take to watch a Democrat in Name Only like Anthony Gemma engage in personal and petty attacks against such a strong progressive Democrat like Cicilline.

Gemma needs to go away, as all he is doing is helping the Republicans...

Comment #7 by Lance Perdue on 2012 01 17

__________________________

It's not about Democrats or Republicans it's about honesty and the public trust. The problem with Providence and this whole state is that as long as a crook has a D after his name he will get support from the mindless partisans. Knowing what we know now if anyone supports Cicilline they are simply mindless accomplices to his crimes.
__________________________

Comment #8 by James Berling on 2012 01 17

So Cicilline spent down the rainy day fund that he built up. If the past few years weren't rainy days, what were? Notably the alternative was to raise taxes like Taveras (I'm sure the DINOs like Gemma and the Republicans would have loved that).

Comment #9 by Russ C on 2012 01 17

_________________________________________---

Nice try, Russ. But while I honor your opinion, to which you have a right, I remind you that you have no right to your own facts.

A report commissioned by the City of Providence and issued in April, 2011 found that, as mayor, David Cicilline was responsible for Providence’s fiscal disaster. David Cicilline tried to lie his way out of this responsibility by shifting blame, but as the report notes, “[T]he [Cicilline] Administration did not recommend the difficult choices necessary to avert a fiscal crisis. The Administration did not present a corrective action plan that could have minimized the pending financial melt-down that the City has experienced. Furthermore, the City’s financial challenges have been made more difficult to address because of a dysfunctional financial management system ... where requirements of the City Charter were ignored, where unrealistic budgetary assumptions were presented, and where effective monitoring of the Administration by the City Council was made difficult and was thus lacking.”

David Cicilline also failed to abide by City Charter law when he failed to inform the City Council of his raids. And when Cicilline prevented the Councils auditor from examining the books, he instituted a cover-up of his perfidy.

David Cicilline lied, cheated and demonstrated, along with his personal dishonor, his utter incompetence.

So who is the real DINO here?

Unless, of course, dishonor and incompetence are qualities you associate with Democrats in general and progressives in particular ...

In terms of my politics, I remain distantly to the left of Che Guevara.

Where are you in terms of the historic David Cicilline?

Comment #10 by Charles Drago on 2012 01 17

_________________________

P.S.

And why did David Cicilline refuse, in the words of the aforementioned Commission, “[to] recommend the difficult choices necessary to avert a fiscal crisis"? Or, if you prefer, to raise taxes?

Because recommending those difficult choices -- even though they would have been in the best interests of Providence -- would not have been in David Cicilline's personal best interests.

David Cicilline broke his trust with the people so that he could support his selfish political agendas.

How's that for progressive behavior?

Quite a leap from the old politics as usual, wouldn't you say?

Comment #11 by Charles Drago on 2012 01 17

Russ C- for you understanding- when Cicilline took office the undesignated general fund "rainy day fund" contained 10Million. It was build up, by the Providence Residents via their tax dollars, decreed by the Charter, not by Cicilline alone, to the highest of 22.36 Million. Then he transferred $16million more than the allotted $5,000, without the consent and majority approval of the City Council nor signed by the Director of Finance, Section 810 of the Home Rule Charter. In addition, borrowing $60Million to plug the deficit.

Rainy Day funds are for revenues declines and other emergencies, however, Cicilline does not possess the ultimate solo decision making power to use the funds as he decides. The lawful process is to notify the City Council and they shall determine if the transfer is necessary.

With that said, it seems so simple to just tell the City Council and Residents there is a budget shortfall, I mean, as stated by Cicilline repeatedly, this is the worst economic times since the Great Depression, so why didn't he? Because it's all about him and his lofty goal of becoming a Congressman - it wasn't about the people his supposedly serviced! It's about him and him alone! And, this has and will continue as long as his is Congressman to CD-1! Which as we all know, he finagled the district to save himself, same old Cicilline- all about him!

Comment #12 by Gertrude O' Pell on 2012 01 17

it boggles my mind that some people just cant admit that he lied to save his own skin.

if you support him for his politics, fine. but just admit that he lied about the finances in providence and he lied about the check for his brother and the redistricting and who now what else.

just say " i still support him but i know he lied"

Comment #13 by john paycheck on 2012 01 17

______________________________
I take it back. Cicilline didn't insult our intelligence by thinking we were too stupid to notice. He knows his constituency better than any of us. They are stupid.

Comment #14 by James Berling on 2012 01 17

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

Comment #15 by Rufus Mikatis on 2012 01 18

Does anyone else remember the economic recession caused by a housing bubble bursting and the financial crisis that destroyed the tax revenues of governments everywhere?

Does anyone else remember the $200 million in cuts that the RI General Assembly did to local aid to cities and towns over the past few years, including the elimination of the motor vehicle tax reimbursements?

Does anyone else think these two issues may have had something to do with the rainy day fund?

If you ask me, y'all got some serious misplaced anger.

Comment #16 by Brian Hull on 2012 01 19

B Hull- Does anyone else remember the blatant lie Congressman Cicilline campaign on? Namely the "healthy" financial state of the capitol city.

Does anyone remember when the new Mayor took over he stated the finances were a "category 5 hurricane?"

Comment #17 by Chris MacWilliams on 2012 01 19

_____________________________________

Thank you, Brian Hull, for test-marketing David Cicilline's latest campaign to attempt to lie and cheat his way out of taking responsibility for ruining Providence's finances.

It's NEVER David Cicilline's fault, is it? The destruction of Providence's public schools on his watch wasn't his fault. The record unemployment in Providence on his watch wasn't his fault.

WRONG!

I re-post the following Commission analysis:

A report commissioned by the City of Providence and issued in April, 2011 found that, as mayor, David Cicilline was responsible for Providence’s fiscal disaster. David Cicilline tried to lie his way out of this responsibility by shifting blame, but as the report notes, “[T]he [Cicilline] Administration did not recommend the difficult choices necessary to avert a fiscal crisis. The Administration did not present a corrective action plan that could have minimized the pending financial melt-down that the City has experienced. Furthermore, the City’s financial challenges have been made more difficult to address because of a dysfunctional financial management system ... where requirements of the City Charter were ignored, where unrealistic budgetary assumptions were presented, and where effective monitoring of the Administration by the City Council was made difficult and was thus lacking.”

Be warned, voters of the RI 1st Congressional District. According to David Cicilline and his mouthpieces, Cicilline did no wrong.

Try this little exercise, Brian Hull. Provide a full and fair analysis to your Kennedy School of Government professors of David Cicilline ruinous rule in Providence and the manners in which he characterized it -- that is, lied about it -- during the 2010 election.

Then submit your "misplaced anger" thesis for their review.

Next stop, Johnson and Wales ... where your political education will be commensurate with your political insight: you'll learn to whip up a mean Oysters Rockefeller.

For David Cicilline, the road to Hull, methinks, is paved with bad intentions.

Brian Hull and David Cicilline ... peas in a pod.

Comment #18 by Charles Drago on 2012 01 19




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