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Arthur Schaper: What Would You Say To Them, Treasurer Raimondo?

Friday, September 27, 2013


General Treasurer Gina Raimondo will have a lot of work to do if she plans to become governor.

Serving one’s community is a service which every American should esteem.

Young men and women dream of becoming cops, firefighters, and many of them settle down in their communities to serve as public workers in other capacities, too, whether in water works, or city energy supplies.

Public employees not only dream of setting aside their comfort for the well-being of their communities, but expect their city leaders to provide adequate funding and support for their pensions and benefits when they retire, especially for public safety officers. Firefighters on average face a lower lifespan for taking on the fires, and police officers suffer innumerable tolls to keep cities safe.

That a cash-strapped city, following irresponsible promises and inadequate funding, could walk away from those commitments: such an outcome seemed unthinkable, if not unconscionable. In eight cities, however, city leaders opted for bankruptcy protection for fear of mounting financial obligations, mostly because of lavish pension and benefits promises.

No easy retirement

Closer to home, the dream of a serene future following a committed life of service to one’s city has come to naught in Central Falls, Rhode Island.

For years, city leaders promised lavish pensions to police and fire in the small town, which one sign reports as “Small in Size, Big in Print”. In fact, the city is now “Bigger in Print” because of the Chapter Nine Bankruptcy proceedings which permitted the city to pay its bills while slashing pensions and blowing up unsustainable contracts.

Mike Geoffroy planned a justifiably easy-going retirement. He put his life on the line for his city, and he expected to be cared for following his retirement. Then came the Housing Crisis, the market crash, and the city of Central Falls was caught insolvent, making promises which the city could not pay.

Firefighters like Mike took a “haircut” for their pensions instead of a beheading, according to a former bankruptcy judge. “It was a scalping,” retorted the firefighter.

Lackluster results

General Treasurer Gina Raimondo made the case to Rhode Island constituents that public-private pension investments would save residents’ retirement, yet the fiscal management at the local level remains unchanged, and firefighters suffer.

What would you like to tell them, Treasurer Raimondo?

Central Falls resident Paul St. George took his life in his own hands, running into burning buildings as a firefighter. The reporter covering this story for the LA Times then recounts a police officer who pled for leniency, since he had fallen in the line of duty for Central Falls residents. St. George mentioned that the city would go out of its way to look after its public employees. Lo and behold, former mayors have gone to jail for corruption, and those retired public employees either have to find more work or wonder what to do next.

What would you like to tell them, Treasurer Raimondo?

In Woonsocket, Mayor Leo Fontaine outlined a number of causes for pension problems, among other fiscal problems, including cuts from state funding over the years, pension costs health insurance costs, similar to other municipalities throughout the country.

Fontaine claims that the city has established a five-year plan to avoid bankruptcy. Then he indicted the role of the state and federal government. These problems should not be pushed onto cities and towns. An overall look at bankruptcy needs to be done. Pensions and unions need to be changed. Cities cannot afford extensive promises from decades ago. The mayor successfully worked with city unions. Not everyone is happy with these cuts, of course, but there had to be changes.

What would you like to tell them, Treasurer Raimondo? What changes have you offered? Have you stood up to your Democratic colleagues in the General Assembly to end the pension promises which no city can pay?

Questionable history

Providence, Rhode Island sustained massive cuts, and public funding crises linger, yet public employee unions came to the table to negotiate better funding and more pay-ins instead of larger payouts. In a matter of days, local and statewide unions will announce a settlement with the General Assembly over the 2011 pension reforms, an agreement which will permit parties to redress concerns about pension cuts, reforms, and other massive changes. Of course, Speaker Gordon Fox sounded his concerns on these developments, since the prior reforms enacted $3 billion in savings. New legislators have entered the General Assembly, and they are not up to speed on the previous reforms.

Then again, the GA has spent most of its time debating calamari and gay marriage, not sound structural reforms which can save the state money and bring back the business class.

What would you like to tell the voters in your state, Treasurer Raimondo? Are you going to renegotiate the reforms once again, this time with a penchant for the public workers unions at the expense of the public workers?

Do you really plan on running for governor, with a record of going back and forth on promises, working with the same class of corrupt politicians who made the promises which they could not pay?

Public service pays in dividends, not just for working, but for a well-paid retirement.

So, Treasurer Raimondo, what would you like to tell them?


Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter @ArthurCSchaper, reach him at [email protected], and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.


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What a crock!

These public employees just get the corrupt politicians to raise taxes to cover the pension failures. Happens all the time while the uniformed sleep.

What about the WORKING class people in the private sector who lost their savings under the current administration? Not the Obama phone crowd or the EBT parasites, those of us who wake up every morning and see our paycheck loose its buying power, home values plummeting and our hours cut to avoid the UN-affordable healthcare mandates. All while the public unions and politicians write exemptions for themselves.

Just shut up about the "poor public employees" and be more concerned about the people paying their salary!


Remember Benghazi 2012

Comment #1 by Killary Klinton on 2013 09 27

Firefighters on average face a lower lifespan for taking on the fires, and police officers suffer innumerable tolls to keep cities safe.

How about doing a little research before making such claims..check out your own state's research on the subject..

"In addition, CalPERS found that the average safety member retires at the age of 55 while the average miscellaneous member retires at age 59... But for the purposes of these findings, we know that a 55 year old safety employee can expect to live to the age of 81.4 (or 85 if the happen to be female!). Thus they receive benefits for 26.4 years after retirement, a little bit longer than the 7 the safety officers claim. The miscellaneous employee who retires just before 60 will live another 23 years (26.5 if they are female). Thus the bottom line here is that public safety employees will receive benefits for a longer period of time and at a higher rate than other employees."

Comment #2 by Prof Steve on 2013 09 27


if you want a great story.

interview a 45-50 year old employee of the state that has 20 years of service.

they started with the state with a contract that had pension terms. now these people have spent the best earning years of their lives and the contract is changed.

they have to work 10-15 years more and get half as much as the original deal. for some, this costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.

is that fair? I will be the first to say that the pensions were absurd . but it was a contract.

the biggest travesty is making good on the "promise?" to wall street on 38 studios but reneging on the "contract" with state employees.

ramondi SIMPLIFIES it down to "would you rather have something or nothing". what a total crock.

wait till next year when her political career goes down in flames.

Comment #3 by john paycheck on 2013 09 27

For those of you like Killary, please remember that you get what you pay for. If you want good cops, pay them well and fund their pensions. Or you can go back to having bouncers with guns running around making very important, sometimes life and death decisions.
I can't believe more of these guys getting 'haircuts' after decades of having a contract have not responded violently. It's a testament to how good they are.

Comment #4 by Dave Barry on 2013 09 27

Gina Raimondo laid out the facts. She didn't cut anybody's cola. That was done by a very well informed general assembly and the governor. Ms. Raimondo is a hero.

People are threatened by an intelligent woman.

Comment #5 by Redd Ratt on 2013 09 27

Politicians are afraid of intelligent and informed voters.

The more that people are informed about the poor decision making which caused pension haircuts (or scalpings), the more that people realize that big goverment is a big disappointment, the more that people will realize that Ms. Raimondo may be the least competent to hold the Governor's Office in Providence.

We need free market, limited government types back in Providence, back in Rhode Island.

Stop settling for the statist status quo, Rhode Islanders!

Comment #6 by Arthur Schaper on 2013 09 28

wait til pension reform gets gutted, which it will; people will be tripping over each other to leave this state.

I'll be out soon as the foreclosure on my underwater home gets close to finalizing, then Ormond Beach here I come.

Comment #7 by Odd Job on 2013 09 28

Redd Ratt said: "She didn't cut anybody's cola. That was done by a well informed General Assembly and the Governor."

Bullshit! This was all Treasurer Raimondo. Before the assembly voted, Gina told them they would all receive at least a thousand dollars if they voted in favor of 'her plan', but if they voted against it she would use all her political might to crush them when they came up for re-election. And how the hell can you expect anyone to take you seriously when you use the term 'well informed' to describe RI's General Assembly? Oh, and by the way.... all those members were paid off by Gina Raimondo two days after the votes were tallied.

Treasurer Raimondo is not hero, she's just a crook who should be locked up for the publics safety.

Comment #8 by William Berube on 2013 09 28

William wrote:

"How the hell can you expect anyone to take you seriously when you use the term 'well informed' to describe RI's General Assembly?"

That phrase should be posted a T-Shirt and sold for beaucoup bucks.

The RI GOP should trademark the statement.

Comment #9 by Arthur Schaper on 2013 09 28

Odd Job:

"wait til pension reform gets gutted, which it will; people will be tripping over each other to leave this state.

"I'll be out soon as the foreclosure on my underwater home gets close to finalizing, then Ormond Beach here I come."

The entire Ocean State is under water -- yikes!

Will RI become the first failed state in the union?

What do the public sector union leaders have to say for themselves?

Shame on the whole lot of them!

Comment #10 by Arthur Schaper on 2013 09 28

There has to be a way to beat the union leaders at their own game.

In the South Bay in California, Republicans are building local strongholds, grassroots efforts, and

Please, Rhode Islanders, email me if you want some ideas on taking back your state.

[email protected]

Tell Gina -- Stay out of Providence!

Comment #11 by Arthur Schaper on 2013 09 28

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