| | Advanced Search

 

Federal Hill Business Leaders Pledge to “Take Back” Their Community—Federal Hill Business Leaders Pledge to "Take Back"…

Riley: RI Treasurer’s Race Part 4: Public Fund Summit 2014—Riley: RI Treasurer's Race Part 4: Public Fund…

10 Great Pets in Need of Loving Homes—July 29—Calling all animal lovers! If you're on the…

Guest MINDSETTER™ Tom Sgouros: What Kind of Job is General Treasurer?—Guest MINDSETTER™ Tom Sgouros: What Kind of Job…

Training Camp Talk: Wendell’s Starting Job In Trouble?—Ryan Wendell has been Patriots' starting center for…

Organize + Energize: Organize Your Car in 5 Easy Steps—What do you have in your car right…

Newport Folk Festival Rocks the Fort—This year’s Newport Folk Festival was an unqualified…

Dear John: She Wants Him To Have An Affair—She's betting on an awfully big 'if'...

Queen Rules Mohegan Sun—Last Friday night, Queen rocked Mohegan Sun for…

NEW: Hodgson Calls for RI to Use RICO Law to Combat Gang Violence—Dawson Hodgson, State Senator and Republican candidate for…

 
 

Raimondo Receives up to $500,000 Payment from Pt. Judith Firm

Thursday, May 02, 2013

 

General Treasurer Gina Raimondo earned as much as $500,000 in capital gains from her former venture capital firm last year, dwarfing her state salary of $108,808, according to her annual financial disclosure report filed last week with the Rhode Island Ethics Commission.

The exact amount of her earnings has not been disclosed. Instead, state disclosure forms only ask state officials to specify a range, which for Raimondo was between $201,000 and $500,000 in capital gains, meaning she earned at least double her salary. Some of those earnings could stem from the more than $4 million in pension funds the state invested in her former firm, Point Judith Capital, before Raimondo was elected. But the form does not require that level of detail for financial interests that were put into a blind trust after her election in November 2010.

Michael Downey, the president of the AFSCME Council 94, described the news as “startling” and eye-opening for someone like himself, who represents members who he said can barely live on pension incomes that in some cases amount to $800 a month, without the cost of living adjustments that were suspended in pension reform.

“It sickens me and I’m sure it sickens them,” Downey said.

Union leader: conflict of interest is unavoidable

A spokeswoman for Raimondo yesterday pointed to the March 8, 2011 Ethics Commission ruling that she had “taken appropriate and sufficient steps to avoid conflicts of interest” by placing the assets she had earned at Point Judith in a blind trust. The commission stipulated that Raimondo must also recuse herself from any matters that “pertain to the investment or involve her business associates.”

Raimondo also resigned any positions she had at Point Judith after her election. And, she is no longer involved in the management decisions of the firm, spokeswoman Joy Fox said. Because her assets are in a blind trust, it is the trustee who has control over her assets, not Raimondo.

But Downey maintains that Raimondo still faces a conflict of interest. Even though the blind trust means that she no longer controls her assets, Downey wonders how she can make unbiased decisions about the state pension system, knowing that it could affect her personal financial holdings.

“Every time she reduces this so-called ‘unfunded liability,’ she’s going to gain,” Downey said. “I don’t see how anyone couldn’t see this is something ethically wrong.”

Fox declined to answer questions about exactly how much Raimondo earned from Point Judith and how much of that stemmed from the state’s investment in her firm. At the time of her election, Raimondo had a one-third ownership stake in the firm.

Her investment earnings in 2012 are a noticeable increase from 2011 when Raimondo reported only income from interest that was $1,000 or less. No capital gains were reported for that year. The 2012 capital gains earnings are in the same $201,000 to $500,000 range that Raimondo reported as her salary as an investment manager in 2009 and 2010, before her election.

It’s not clear exactly how much the state made off its investment in Point Judith Capital during the same period, from January to December 2012. When asked what the amount of state earnings was, Fox instead provided the annualized rate of return, which was 10.9 percent as of June 2012. As of March 2013, the state had funded $4,426,630 of its $5 million commitment to Point Judith. At a 10.9 percent rate of return, that would make for a potential $482,502 in earnings for the state in 2012.

Raimondo called to be more transparent

Another statewide labor leader, Service Employees International Union Local 580 President Philip Keefe, said he does not “begrudge” Raimondo any income to which she is entitled. Instead, he objects to the lack of transparency surrounding her holdings in Point Judith, given that Raimondo has been vocal about her commitment to transparency as the state treasurer.

“If that’s her mantra, she should be forthcoming with the state employees and the citizens of Rhode Island,” Keefe said.

While she may not control the blind trust, Keefe said Raimondo certainly must know what assets were put into it when it was created. He said she should disclose that information to the public.

Keefe cited the nexus between Point Judith investments, the state pension system, and Raimondo as one example of how different parties connected with the state pension system are too “intertwined” with each other. He pointed to EngageRI—a third party advocate for pension reform whose donors are not public—as another example.

“It’s like a big octopus. Where do the tentacles reach? We’ve got EngageRI. We’ve got blind trusts,” Keefe said. “As far as I can see, it’s getting murkier and murkier.”

If everything done with Raimondo’s investments has been done above board, Keefe wondered why Raimondo wouldn’t disclose more information about her financial holdings, putting an end to public criticism over it.

Raimondo earnings may not play well publicly

When asked if Raimondo should have withdrawn all her assets in Point Judith and invested them elsewhere, Ed Mazze, a noted University of Rhode Island business professor, said her agreement with her partners—a document which is not public—may have prevented such a move.

Mazze said he stood by the decision of the Ethics Commission—that Raimondo had taken the appropriate steps to avoid any conflict of interest. “I really don’t think that anything was done that was wrong,” Mazze said.

Common Cause Rhode Island, a local good government group, also did not have any problems with the Ethics Commission advisory opinion on Raimondo’s blind trust, according to its executive director, John Marion. “If the public official is removed from the decision making involving their business associate, which the recusal process and alternate chain of authority allows, then the possibility for conflict is not there,” Marion said, saying the commission had reached essentially the same conclusion on a similar question involving Dr. Michael Fine when he became the director of the Department of Health.

“That’s pretty much the standard operating procedure,” said veteran pollster and political scientist Victor Profughi, referring to blind trusts. “As far as I know, that approach is usually looked at as the thing to do.”

But how the public may perceive Raimondo’s complex financial ties to the state pension system is an all-together different question, Profughi added. Given the deep cynicism and skepticism so many citizens have about their elected officials, he said the reaction could easily be negative.

“If you wanted to make this a campaign issue, it might have some merit as a campaign issue,” Profughi said, adding that the issue would depend upon the broader message of an opponent's campaign. “I think it would just be more wood on the fire,” Profughi added.

Other state officers had outside income, but less

In an interview, Mazze emphasized that the salaries for the state general officers are low compared to what they really should be making. “The salaries are out of whack,” Mazze said.

He pointed out that first-year graduates in business or pharmacy schools often have incomes rivaling those of the state officers, whom he said have to supplement their income with outside sources of money just to get by.

A review of the other financial disclosure forms filed last week show that indeed most of the other state general officers did have outside sources of income while in office, but most, if not all, of the others did not earn more than their salaries.

In addition to a state salary between $101,000 and $250,000, Chafee reported few other significant income streams in 2012: he made less than $1,000 in interest from two banks, drew less than $1,000 in dividends from Hasbro, and had a state income tax refund between $25,001 and $50,000.

Other than small dividend payments, Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts reported earnings between $50,001 and $100,000 from a Union Land & Management, a Herndon, VA-based company that is described as the family business in her financial disclosure report. That is close to, but still less than, her salary, which stood at $108,808 in July 2011, the latest available figure in time for publication.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin did not report any outside business income, but he does continue to draw two pensions—one from the state and one from the City of Pawtucket. Each pension is between $50,001 and $100,000.

Only Secretary of State Ralph Mollis appears to have had no other sources of income besides his official state salary, which he said fell within the $50,001 and $100,000 range.

Stephen Beale can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @bealenews

EXCERPT: 2012 and 2011 Financial Disclosure Reports

 

Related Articles

 

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Comments:

Wow, a government worker who actually earns money in the private sector. Shame on her, that's not the liberal way.

Comment #1 by Odd Job on 2013 05 02

Can't wait to hear all of the jealous freeloading liberals coming out to demonize this woman for making intelligent investments and earning money. Good for you Gina!

Comment #2 by Russ Hryzan on 2013 05 02

Do we all understand the concept of "blind trust" and how they are implemented? Do you realize that elimination of blind trusts would disqualify a large number of people from public service?

Two questions arise: (1) What percentage of the blind trust is in the venture capital firm? (2) Were the (presumably realized) capital gains the result of sale of her position in the venture capital firm, thereby reducing any potential conflict of interest?

Stephen Beale seems very good at editorializing in the context of a "news report", but he does not seem very good at seeking out real information.

Comment #3 by Charles Beckers on 2013 05 02

Gotta love the conflict of interest charges from the union thug. As if elected democrats connected to unions ALWAYS recused themselves on votes involving organized labor. Memo to Michael Downey: Encourage more cooks' helpers to go to college, thus increasing their chances of being less dependent on corrupt democrats in order to feed themselves.

Comment #4 by David Beagle on 2013 05 02

Hey Michael Downey - it sickens me that that you believe that you represent that your members "in some cases...$800 per month" is a sickening benefit amount. That $800 per month is much more than the average pension of employees of non profits like local hospitals, who actually care for the sick. And, its far more than what most Rhode Islanders get, who are not fortunate enough to even be covered by an archaic defined benefit pension plan.

I think it's egregious that some laundry workers make more than the State Treasurer...

Comment #5 by Jeffrey Brown on 2013 05 02

Great job Gina!

Comment #6 by Mike Govern on 2013 05 02

Perhaps the blind trust should be investing the pension money, it seems they are doing a better job then our elected official..good job gina, glad you wont be in office much longer, our state cant afford your expertise..

Comment #7 by Dominic Ferraro on 2013 05 02

It's too funny listening to the union pigs shed their crocodile tears about conflicts of interest. The reason Rhode Island is such a mess is the unions and their own conflicts of interests. Now just shut up, put on your big boy pants, and deal with the mess you've created.
Unions always have a problem with people making money unless it's them.

Comment #8 by Matt Cavanagh on 2013 05 02

And so the GoLocal hatchet job against Raimondo continues, unabated.
Don't remember you scions of truth running non-stop pieces about Sheldon Whitehouse when he profited handsomely by selling certain stocks based upon insider knowledge from his position on a Senate committee!
As is typical of the thinking in this bastion of "progressism" , anyone who makes money through honest, intelligent investment is baaaad. It is that classism mentality that drives and/or prevents astute investors from living in or doing business in RI.

Comment #9 by Harold Stassen on 2013 05 02

I am bothered by the union leaders with six-figure salaries (all money collected from hard-working members' dues)bothered by other people's success. I am not a supporter of Ms. Raimondo, but there seems to be some hypocrisy here.

Comment #10 by Stephen Raymond on 2013 05 02

As the days pass, it becomes very difficult to excuse Treasurer Raimondo's obvious lack of character, specifically her profound greed, which seems to guide her every decision. Her main defense has boiled down to the contention that, while her methods may be immoral, they comply with the law. Her chronic evasiveness when pressed on the numbers indicates she has something to hide - innocent people are forthcoming and helpful, not obstructive and secretive. Her stance that there is a 'moral obligation' to pay off wealthy bond holders who invested in the 38 Studios disaster... bonds that are already insured by the taxpayers money, yet there is no moral obligation to make sure retirees receive the pensions they were promised, after having fulfiller their obligations is callous and extremely offensive. I will take great pleasure in seeing her squirm and sweat as the days unfold. And make no mistake about it, she's one nervous little lady right now.

Comment #11 by William Berube on 2013 05 02

gina is smart.. time it so she gets her gains info out now rather than before the election.

Comment #12 by jon paycheck on 2013 05 02

She's already got some of her 'gains info,' as you call it, out now. It's just that the only ones gaining seem to be her and her already wealthy friends. What a racket!

Comment #13 by William Berube on 2013 05 02

Another attempted hack job--one wonders when success became a sin? I wonder how well Whitehouse and Reed did on their investments?

Funny to hear Mr. Berube talk about being principles as he begins his whisper campaign with innuendo... Hypocrisy at its finest...

Comment #14 by Mike Govern on 2013 05 02

The unions played a great role in destroying this state. Just look what they did to the airline industry, the steel industry, auto industry etc. When I listen to union people's view, I just adopt the opposite view. They like a piece of legislation - I don't like it. They support a candidate - I vote against that candidate.
They hate Gina - I love Gina!

Comment #15 by Matt Cavanagh on 2013 05 02

How is it the governor receives a state tax refund of $25,000 to $50,000 based on the income stream reported in this articel - namely $100,000 to $250,000 in salary range plus $1,000 in interest and $1,000 in dividends? Surely there must be other sources of income and/or other reportabel gains. The reported numbers appear to be incomplete.

Comment #16 by peter hewett on 2013 05 02

Matt - From what I can make out from your post, you are questioning my principles because you say I'm starting a whisper campaign with innuendo against the treasurer. You've been reading my posts right along Matt, and you know I don't whisper - I think Treasurer Gina Raimondo is a thief who is stealing my money and I'm more than happy to tell the whole world about it.

Comment #17 by William Berube on 2013 05 02

William, Oh, did I give you that impression. I'mSorry because I think you make it very clear that you are nothing but a greedy union pig who could give a crap about anyone but yourself. It's the typical union mentality- Me, Me, Me. You guys make it so obvious, which is why the unions have fallen so out of favor with the public.
You should get a PR agent because you can't even see how easy you make it for people to dislike you.
Gina has to worry about more than just you.

Comment #18 by Matt Cavanagh on 2013 05 02

Gee, must be nice to be a "HAVE", eh Gina ! I hope our next Governor has an appreciation for us little people and work in our best interest, not the fat, dumb, and connected private and public cronies that run this State down the wrong path.

P.S. Gina, your not that person.

Comment #19 by Mark St. Pierre on 2013 05 02

Seems like she did better with her own investment than her present job as state treasurer. 1.55% return on over $7 billion leaves a lot of financial questions in a much bigger scale, don't ya think?

Comment #20 by Gary Arnold on 2013 05 02

Matt,

I thought I made it very clear in another thread that I thought you were a coward and a big mouth. It must eat you up to envy state workers so much, particularly when you know deep down inside that you don't have the brains, education, nerve, or the drive necessary to be hired for any of the positions that you want so badly. I noticed one idiot complaining about laundry workers making more than the treasurer, when the article clearly states that she made over $600,000 not counting her other investments. Those laundry workers who did manage to make up to $100,000 did so by working 80 to 100 hours per week all year long. They do hire quite often and applications are available right now for positions. Why don't you good for nothing slackers go down and pick up an application, and while your down there Matt, you can pick up another one from the ACI. You still haven't answered my question from the other day Mattie - why you're not man enough to take me up on my offer to hook you up with a job at the prison. But then again Matt, maybe there are no excuses for cowards like you.

Comment #21 by William Berube on 2013 05 02

This is typical liberal whining. The liberals will rally for women's rights, but then when they encounter a really successful woman who earns like Gina does....well they just hate that capitalist stuff. Tough luck all you socialists. I have not seen one legitimate comment that shows any conflict of interest.

Comment #22 by Katy Sloop on 2013 05 02

William,

Why do you think the "good for nothing slackers" in this forum want a state job. Those jobs suck. You can't earn much, the pension is unfunded, most people assume state workers lazy, and you are forever at the mercy of the general assembly and your union boss puppetmasters. Keep your wonderful ACI job. No thanks. It's much better in the private sector where a smart person can make a lot more $$ and not depend on the taxpayers for every little thing.

Comment #23 by Katy Sloop on 2013 05 02

Let's try to be civil here and not call one another names. We are adults with opinions. Let's not lower ourselves to insults like "pig" Mr Cavanagh...
I find that Mazze must be a lobbyist for higher pay in disguise. He expects law makers and politicians in this state to get what big states get,,,
He says this:
In an interview, Mazze emphasized that the salaries for the state general officers are low compared to what they really should be making. “The salaries are out of whack,” Mazze said.
This state is not a New York, a California and Prov is not NY City, Chicago San Francisco LA or even Miami! No way does this small state with its high taxes and jobless residents and who are the taxpayers pay these politicians any more money...They don;t sdeserve what they are getting now. RI has a bad economy, unemployment, not conducive to attracting business and you want to pay these thieves more money????

Comment #24 by dis gusted on 2013 05 02

If you don’t want the “rich” controlling your life, find out how the “system” works and do something about it. Start a home by looking at your local town officials and their “business connections”. Then work your way up the food chain to the big fish.

Comment #25 by Charles Marsh on 2013 05 02

Gary Arnold,

Yo say a 1.55% annual rate of return is bad, based in a $7 billion investment. First of all, the $7 billion total has no bearing on the rate of return. Second of all, the 1.55% is more a function of the conservative nature of 85% of the funds that make up the investment fund. In truth, about 95% of the fund is conservative stuff. What do you think, Gina is investing in Google like a day trader? 1.55% in 2012 might have been a good rate or return, all depending on how conservative/low-risk the funds are. The 0.5% hedge fund management fee is also meaningless, without also finding out the rate of return of those hedge funds. The lack of investment knowledge of the union members who invested the $7 billion is really stunning.

Comment #26 by Katy Sloop on 2013 05 02

Dis gusted,

I would like to see RI elected officials all go to a "pay for performance" model of compensatin. Make them balance the budget and deliver a surplus in order to get paid. In that case, all RI reps from the Governor on down would collect $0 income. That is fair. In fact, they lose so much money for RI's (38 Studios etc), most of these clowns would end up owing us money at the end of each year.

Comment #27 by Katy Sloop on 2013 05 02

Charles Marsh,

Here is a news flash for you. The rich do have great influence over American society. That is cause we have a capitalist from of economy, although is it a capitalist-socialist hybrid economy. If the entitlement programs get any more pervasive, we will probably tip the scale and be more socialist than capitalist. That will be a sad day, as it will undermine all that made this country great: Entreprenuership, freedom to build a business from your own sweat, and ability to amass and own wealth for yourself and your family. Not a thing wrong with that. I say Thank God those "rich" people still are most infuencial in society. US would be a disaster (like Greece, France, Portugal, Cryrus, etc) with the socialists calling the shots. I prefer communist countries like China and Russia...just kidding...those are two of the most capitalist countries on the planet and notice how much happier their people have become since turning away from commie dogma.

Comment #28 by Katy Sloop on 2013 05 02

Katy Sloop - The next time you're getting ready to sit at your computer, could you please make sure that you pull Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin out of your ignorant ass first.

Also, thank you for illustrating my previous point. These jobs are too difficult for the likes of you... too beneath you, but you don't want anyone else to get paid for doing them. What a hypocrite!

Comment #29 by William Berube on 2013 05 02

William Berube -

Falsely claiming the pension fund will implode, withholding contractually owed COLA's, and then handing gobs of money to Wall Street Hedge Fund operators is not a liberal-conservative nor right-left issue.

It's about right vs. wrong, and from what one reads, this is just another cynical money grab reminiscent of Constructed Frauds in which first and always a 'fall guy' is chosen to receive all the blame, in this case 'those evil, greedy retirees and state workers'.

Too bad people, other than the handful of shill parrots and Enron thugs, aren't buying it.

It was the height of arrogance to callously dismiss Ted Siedle as 'just some blogger'.

In this Net-Centric era, such arrogance only begets further inquiry, as bloggers have amply demonstrated.

What next? Will we decide that homeowners are in arrears on taxes because some REIT portfolio managers want their properties?

Comment #30 by paul zecchino on 2013 05 02

BillyB...this is too funny - "when you know deep down inside that you don't have the brains, education, nerve, or the drive necessary to be hired for any of the positions that you want so badly"
Well tell me this - wht do you need a union for. Is it because you can't cut it on your own? Maybe you know without the union you are a zero and couldn't be a greeter at Walmart. You are a loser, that is why you need a union Billyboy.

Comment #31 by Matt Cavanagh on 2013 05 02

Matt Cavanagh - Why would I need a union when I am competent to do my job? I need a union to protect me against being paid slave wages, being forced to work excessive hours under dangerous working conditions, being denied time off to be with a sick or dying family member... and the list goes on and on my friend. You should read up on the labor movement and what forces shaped it - how French workers won the right to a 12 hour day in 1848 and how woman and children in England were granted the 10 hour day a year earlier. I think you'll find the horror of the Shirtwaist Factory Fire, where 129 woman and children and 17 men died due to unsafe working conditions the most compelling story of them all. The majority of those who burned to death were of Italian or Jewish decent, and although no Cavanaughs were listed in the official death list, there were certainly workers of Irish decent who also died in the conflagration. No Matt, you couldn't have done the job I did, it's just not in you. The first time someone knocked one of your teeth out, or tried to slice your throat, you'd pee your pants and scream for my help just like all the other idiots I've heard make the same claim throughout the years. Cowards like you need men like me to protect them, and I promise I'll never let you down Matt.

Comment #32 by William Berube on 2013 05 02

I'm right there with you paul. When the treasurer began her little campaign, I followed her around for a time and watched her work the crowds. It was apparent right from the beginning that we were in deep shit. She had her game plan down pat - she'd meet with state workers and retirees at the beginning of the day, commiserate with us, then later on she would meet with the general public. She would what until someone told her they didn't think it was fair that state workers got a pension and a COLA because 'they' didn't get either of those things. She'd be off to the races, agreeing whole heartedly with the questioner and getting the rest of the crowd all ginned-up. She got people so riled up sometimes that they looked like they wanted to burn someone's house down. Scary the way she was so easily able to manipulate the crowd in that manner. The last time I had the displeasure of watching her in action was when she held that big EngageRI rally at the State House. Her unbridled joy at having finalized the pension theft made me sick to my stomach. She showed just how callous she was after having brought a darker future to thousands of people.

Hang in their my friend... right now she has a monster of an upset stomach that no amount of Bromo Seltzer can handle.

Comment #33 by William Berube on 2013 05 03

William Berube, I just noticed you referring to be as an idiot, which respectively, is defined as a stupid or a mentally handicapped person. While its not worth my time reading through what appears to be your tough guy rhetoric, you were idiot-like in not realizing my reference to laundry workers had to do with the relative low-level of pay for elected officials in RI, as cited in the article. Low pay suggests that the talent draw for such positions is low, which, along with labor control of the General Assembly has helped put the state in the fiscal mess that we are in. (And, sure, make a comment about the Treasurer on this note). Finally, there are thousands of employees working in laundry rooms and factories in the state in similar working conditions for minimal wages and benefits, no cola's, no DB plans and no 401ks.

Comment #34 by Jeffrey Brown on 2013 05 03

Don't be so foolish... I knew exactly what you meant. These laundry workers that you envy so much have one source of income and work up to 100 hours a week. The treasurer, on the other hand, has and will profit handsomely for taking care of her Wall Street friends while in office.

You're a real visionary too, you know that? You say that other laundry workers don't get paid well and receive no benefits, and so, have to struggle to feed their families... and that's your justification for wanting to take benefits away from these people. You've noticed that I'm angry as hell and I'm not trying to hide it. I've been called every nasty name in the book over the last two years by people just like you who don't have a clue and I'm damn sick of it. I put my life on the line for a bunch of cowardly jackass' who appreciate nothing. I'll make a blanket statement and say that I think the average citizen in this state is not very bright, which means that 50% of the population is even dumber and less informed. You people really think that I care what you think of me? You should care what I think, and I think you should go down to that laundry today, pick up an application, fill it out, hand it in and schedule an appointment for an interview. But you won't do that because all you really are is a big mouth who can't seem to get over his feelings of inadequacy, even when resorting to putting down laundry workers who bust their butts to take care of their families. You are pitiful!

Comment #35 by William Berube on 2013 05 03

This is all silly. Here's the few question union members should be asking of Raimondo:

1. The fund earned 1.55% in 2012 by investing in a broad range of funds with varying risk levels and fees. How does that 1.55% return company to other states?

2. If the 1.55% rate of return is either significantly higher or lower than other states, the "shareholders" in the pension (union members) have a right to ask why. Have you asked?

3. What is the pension funds performance year to date for 2013? Not only what is the rate of return for the total fund, but what is it for the hedge funds that seems to be scaring everyone out of their wits. (Even though the state with the top performing pension fund is 30% invested in hedge funds).

4. What target rate of return have the unions set as their target, and what is the philosophy driving the investment? Is is supposed to be low, risk conservative investment, thus 1.55% for 2012 is a fair or good result?

Comment #36 by Katy Sloop on 2013 05 03

William,

Why do you think the unions should get a pension and COLA when people working just as hard as you in the private sector don't get those things? If you buy the argument that public workers are employees of "the public" (ie. Taxpayers), then why can the employer (Taxpayers) insist that public employees get 401Ks that they contribute to (pre-tax) like the rest of us, and don't get any automatic COLAs, but can negotiate increases in their wages as is always done?

Comment #37 by Katy Sloop on 2013 05 03

William,

I meant to say:

then why CAN'T the employer (Taxpayers) insist that public employees get 401Ks

Comment #38 by Katy Sloop on 2013 05 03

Billyboy,
You continue to amuse me..."I need a union to protect me against being paid slave wages, being forced to work excessive hours under dangerous working conditions, being denied time off to be with a sick or dying family member... and the list goes on and on my friend."
If you were worth your salt none of this would worry you. Let's face it, you need a union to extract higher wages than you are worth from an employer. You are a lazy bum, unwilling or unable to further your education and learn new skills that are marketable. Were you willing to do that, that alone would protect you against all of the above. But no, you want us to subsidize your laziness by paying you more than a job is worth.
Why is it that the vast majority don't need a union and you do?

Comment #39 by Matt Cavanagh on 2013 05 03

Isn't is little crazy that a state just 40x30 miles in size with under a million residents (and shrinking) needs 17% of its workforce in public, taxpayer funded jobs? I bet half of those jobs could be elimated. If cities and towns ever decide to consolidate city services into larger districts, then that would surely happen. RI is the size of some small towns in TX that have one school district, one police force, one fire department, one water department, one City Council, one Mayor. RI is astoundingly inefficient.

Comment #40 by Katy Sloop on 2013 05 03

how about posting the entire reports online...

Comment #41 by jon paycheck on 2013 05 03

Kathy Sloop -

This is not about opinions or 'feelings'.

Why are some retirees entitled to COLA's while others are not?

Look, I'll try to make this as simple as possible, not only to make it easy to understand but as well to make it difficult to obfuscate the truth:

State retirees are entitled to COLA's because they are part of their contractual agreement. They had been receiving COLA's until this little sleight of hand trick pulled by various officials who saw that money as better in their pockets, perhaps, than in the accounts of retirees to whom the COLA's were and are still legally owed.

Why do other retirees not receive COLA's? Again, will keep this simple to make it easy to understand and as well to make it difficult for half-clever ENRON propagandists and steak-eyed apologists for various officials to obfusctate: Because other retirees are not entitled to them because their contracts are different from those of retirees who are owed COLA's.

Here's a personal example: I'm semi-retired. I am not entitled to a COLA, so I do not receive one nor do I expect to receive one.

Keep it simple, and you'll find less opportunity to muddy waters.

Comment #42 by paul zecchino on 2013 05 03

Katy Sloop -

You asked several questions, the answers to which ironically have been published here regularly and for some time by some of those persons with whom you constantly debate. If you look you'll find them.

The information's out there, all you have to do is let it in.


Why do persons in the private sector not receive COLA's, you ask? That sounds like a typical left wing straw-man argument, pose a fictitious issue or person and then beat it up to distract from the obvious: It's irrelevant.

Some private sector retirees do indeed receive COLA's while others do not. Some receive better retiree health benefits packages while others do not. That's between them and their former employers and utterly impertinent to the issue under discussion: state retirees who are contractually owed COLA's are now being denied them by someone who can't keep their stories straight.

Some private sector employees receive COLA's, others don't; how does that relate to RI retirees denied contractually owed COLA's? Simply answer, it doesn't. It's a diversionary tactic. Why do you think that wouldn't be seen for that which clearly it is?

Some people I know can afford to travel to Europe five times a year. I cannot. What does my situation have to do with theirs? Nothing.

Why do those who repeatedly ask irrelevant questions and raise impertinent straw-man issues in obvious answer to distract from the obvious believe their tactics will succeed in this Net-centric era?

Bill Gates makes plenty of money. Others don't. None of that has to do with a very simple issue which is neither right/left nor democrat/republican nor liberal conservative: it's contractual, tortious, and possibly criminal depending upon the amount of truth that comes out. And the truth in this era always comes out:

Retirees who are contractually owed COLA's as part of their agreements - 'contracts' - are now denied them unlawfully by individuals who talk like Victims, live like Sultans, and who cannot keep their ever-shifting stories straight.

And in this Net-centric era which denies the usual suspects their usual hiding places, they still think they can fool the majority of us.

They can't.

Comment #43 by paul zecchino on 2013 05 03

William Berube -

The moves in this latest just seem so familiar, reminiscent of various 'collapses' we've seen in the past.

The Zecchino Estate Grift, whose participants committed capital crimes to loot a living trust of millions, has all the same moves. It's a standard Constructed Fraud in which tales of doom & gloom are used to scare the marks into compliance. Those who do not comply and instead dare question the grifters' vague, shifting, and nonsensical stories are attacked with Judicial Terrorism to 'bring them around'.

A 'fall guy' was chosen to take the blame for the Grifters' criminal and tortious actions. It's always best to make the target the fall guy and the Zecchino Estate Grift, in which Lifespan and Brown are heavily involved, is not exception.

They thought they could get away with it because prior to the Net, they could and had - they'd gotten away with it many times previously and will continue to get away with it but just not with the ease of Grifts past.

The Victim speech, the sky-is-falling and 'my father lost his job' gripe stories were red flags for who cared to see them.

What people need to understand about the Poison Ivy League universities is this: first thing they teach is entitlement, that their students are better-than, fit to rule over the huddled masses.

In a world with a rising, thriving middle class, in which people are prospering as never before, that 18th century sweatshop attitude is rapidly becoming an irrelevant anachronism fit for the outhouse basement of history.

Citizens expect more today and the Net exposes those who do not deliver.

Comment #44 by paul zecchino on 2013 05 03

Katy Sloop et al -


To clarify, I not only do not receive a COLA, I am not a retired public employee. I'm a semi-retired independent business person. All of which is about as relevant as the 'yeah but, other private sector retirees don't get COLA's' straw-man diversionary arguments which you raise.

The private sector is irrelevant. Other public unions and their retirement contracts are irrelevant. What is relevant is that RI public employees, many of who do not receive Social Security, have been denied their lawfully, contractually owed COLA's by people who whine like Victims one minute, prophecy Doom & Gloom like Cassandras the next, and then sound like run of the mill hucktsters when paying off their Wall Street cronies.

Can you fathom that? I think you can and have, so why the endless attempts to distract from the truth?

Why do people supposedly acting for the good express themselves in manner of those with something to hide?

Comment #45 by paul zecchino on 2013 05 03

paul zecchino - I agree! Gina and her mysterious (but wealthy) partners in crime are very skillful at manipulating public opinion. They exploit the fears and economic uncertainties of people, which makes it much easier for them to convince the general public that all of their woes can be blamed on one group. They know that when an individual has had their character defamed, it becomes much easier to justify any action taken against them, no matter how harsh or immoral. Once people have been convinced of who the villain is, they seem extremely reluctant to change their negative opinions, no matter what evidence is presented to them. I guess the best that you can do is to continue to present the facts so that the misconceptions which have been repeated ad nauseam, won't be taken as gospel by the next individual who reads this propaganda.

Comment #46 by William Berube on 2013 05 03

"A lie told often enough becomes the truth." -Lenin

Comment #47 by William Berube on 2013 05 03

"Trade unions are a school of communism."

-Vladimir Lenin

Comment #48 by Matt Cavanagh on 2013 05 03

"They say even death can't cure an idiot." -Ririn

Comment #49 by William Berube on 2013 05 03

State employee contracts are not permanent, iron-clad guarantees that COLAs will be issued for the retiree's entire life at taxpayer expense. In fact, some would argue that your pension "contracts" are not really contracts at all, but just limited time agreements between public employees and the state of RI. It's all subject to re-negotiation, based on the pension fund's and the state's ability to pay. If the state cannot afford to pay on the unsustainble promises made to retireees, then the COLAs can get removed or reduced.

Comment #50 by Katy Sloop on 2013 05 03

"Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery."

Winston Churchill

"Socialists cry "Power to the people", and raise the clenched fist as they say it. We all know what they really mean — power over people, power to the State."

Margaret Thatcher

Comment #51 by Katy Sloop on 2013 05 03




Commenting is not available in this channel entry.