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PowerPlayer: Providence Councilman David Salvatore

Monday, January 16, 2012

 

This week’s PowerPlayer is Providence Councilman David Salvatore. The first-term Councilman kind enough to chat with GoLocalProv about his first year in office and offer his vision for the future of the city.

1) You joined the Council just as the city's fiscal hurricane was setting in. Tell us about the most difficult decisions you have had to make since last year.

As Rhode Island struggles with the worst local economy in generations, Providence continues to grapple with a challenging budget. As a member of the Finance Committee, last year's budget deliberations were especially difficult as the city faced a $110 million structural deficit. Through the hard work and diligence of the Finance Committee and the Administration, we were able to pass a budget without any one time fixes. Across-the-board cuts in union and non-union personnel line items reinforced the importance of shared sacrifice.

Asking people in a struggling economy for more money is always the hardest decision a public official has to make. It is not politically popular. The constituents that I speak to appreciate these hard decisions when they have access to their public officials who can explain "how" the city is going to weather this fiscal storm but more importantly explain "why" certain measures are taken. One day in a non election year I would like to tell my neighbors that we are not going to raise taxes. We're not there yet, but I know we can one day.

Our education system in Providence must be closely monitored. As a product of the public school system, supporting alternative education has been difficult, however, school choice is in the best interest of our children and their families. I have a responsibility to promote meaningful change and generate real excitement around educational opportunity in our city.

2) You're considered the pension expert on the Council. How does Providence solve its pension crisis?

I don't consider myself a pension expert. Experts are the people who will be providing the Council with the best options in addressing our pension opportunities in Providence. I have been working closely with the Administration and Council Fiscal Advisor Gary Sasse on this important issue, and I look forward to carrying out meaningful pension reform. Bottom line - we need all stakeholders to come to the table and present real solutions for a bleeding pension system that will run out of money if systemic changes are not carried out. Employees, retirees, the people of Providence, business owners, and anyone who loves our City should follow this issue closely. As the chairman of the Pension Sustainability Subcommittee, I am committed to seeing these reforms through - thoughtfully, equitably and with urgency.

3) Take us through a day in your life.

As a first term Councilman, I have adjusted to the demanding schedule that comes with the job. My day starts at 5:00 AM with a 4-5 mile run and then it's off to La Salle Bakery for coffee where I respond to constituent emails and get caught up on local news using my iPhone/iPad. My full-time job is in the General Treasurer's Office where I have been employed for the last five years. Most evenings, I have meetings in City Hall and/or community events starting at 5:00 PM. I try to end my day by reading and falling asleep by 10:00 PM, so that I can do it all again the next day.

4) Your first term ends in 2014. Tell us the top three priorities you'd like to see accomplished by that time.

I love representing the community where I was born and raised. I often think about all the people who have built their lives in my neighborhood. Growing up as their paperboy, neighbors guided me in doing the "right thing" and I am proud that they gave me an opportunity to be their voice on the Council. When I ask them for feedback, many of them express their desire for safer neighborhoods, improved quality of life and better schools. We can achieve all of these things by starting with comprehensive pension reform.

I will be channeling a lot of my energy towards this important issue. Speaking of quality of life - a revitalization plan is in the works for the Wanskuck Neighborhood. With the help of the community and neighborhood organizations, there are goals in place to create affordable housing and utilize green space for recreational purposes at Corliss Park. Finally, job creation will play a major role in our ability to attract new businesses to Providence. I look forward to working with the Administration and Economic Development Director Jim Bennett in moving our local economy forward.

5) Tell us something nobody knows about.

I have an addiction to cheeseburgers from the Abbey in Elmhurst and Haven Brothers.

Quick Hitters

Role Model: Mom & Dad

Favorite Restaurant: Joe Marzilli's Old Canteen Italian Restaurant, Federal Hill

Best Beach: Narragansett Town Beach

Best Book You've Read in the Last Year: The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America

Advice for the Next David Salvatore: Always use your inner strength, reach for the stars and your dreams will become reality.


 

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Comments:

anthony sionni

"Asking people in a struggling economy for more money is always the hardest decision a public official has to make. It is not politically popular. The constituents that I speak to appreciate these hard decisions when they have access to their public officials who can explain "how" the city is going to weather this fiscal storm but more importantly explain "why" certain measures are taken. One day in a non election year I would like to tell my neighbors that we are not going to raise taxes. We're not there yet, but I know we can one day. "


I don't appreciate getting my taxes raised , that's for sure! These politicians are all the same,cant anyone on that city council vote NO to increasing taxes, they don't have the guts? Look at the car tax for example, everyone says there not for increasing taxes,but they all keep voting yes." We are not there yet", thats because they have failed to cut spending and they will tell you there is nothing left to cut,but go to the city council meetings and you will see a different story, there always giving out homestead exemptions for there friends that go more than 2 years back in some cases. You wonder why people and businesses are moving out of the city and state? Because of higher taxes to begin with.

Whats this Jim Bennet the former hockey player doing for $150,000 plus of taxpayer money? Forget the Park for now,worry about fixing the roads and creating jobs and lowering the taxes,pretty soon there wont be any tax base left in this city!

"My day starts at 5:00 AM with a 4-5 mile run and then it's off to La Salle Bakery for coffee where I respond to constituent emails and get caught up on local news using my iPhone/iPad. " I must not be one of your constituents,although last I checked I was still living in ward 14 , I sent you email at the city council and your personal email as well as a facebook message,no response,after 3 days I had to call city hall and get the information,by speaking to Jake and Anna.

anthony sionni

I forgot to mention that members of the ordinance committee like to suppress the voice of the people,remember this resolution I had put in.

RESOLUTION REQUESTING MAYOR, FINANCE DIRECTOR, TAX ASSESSOR,INTERNAL AUDITOR AND A
REPRESENTATIVE OF THE RHODE ISLAND VEHICLE VALUATION COMMISSION TO
ATTEND a public hearing, COUNCIL MEETING
Resolved that WHEREAS, the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the City of PROVIDENCE are matters of
paramount importance to the City Council; and
WHEREAS, elimination of the $5,000 exemption on motor vehicles has caused many motor
vehicles, which were not otherwise subject to that tax in recent years, to become subject to the tax; and
WHEREAS, the taxation of those motor vehicles has highlighted issues about the manner in
which motor vehicle valuations are done; and
WHEREAS, the taxation of those motor vehicles has also caused much confusion about motor
vehicle valuations and what, if any, appeal process there is to dispute the motor vehicle valuations; and
WHEREAS, the state law governing motor vehicle valuations may need to be amended; and
WHEREAS, the City Council desires to obtain specific and detailed information about motor
vehicle valuations and the taxation of motor vehicles in the City of Providence before considering a
Resolution to the General Assembly about amending the state law on motor vehicle valuations and the
taxation of motor vehicles; and
WHEREAS, in order to obtain said information, the Providence City Council hereby requests
the Mayor, the Finance Director,the Internal Auditor, the Tax Assessor and a representative of the Rhode Island Vehicle
Valuation Commission to attend the public hearing,City Council meeting to discuss motor
vehicle valuations and taxation and answer questions of Council members regarding these items; and
WHEREAS, the City Council also desires to obtain information from members of the public
about motor vehicle valuations and taxation of same.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Providence City Council hereby requests the
Mayor, the Finance Director, the Tax Assessor ,the Internal Auditor and a representative of the Rhode Island Vehicle
Valuation Commission to attend the,public hearing, City Council meeting on to discuss motor
vehicle valuation and taxation and answer questions of Council members regarding these items; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City Council shall also allow members of the public to
address the City Council ,Mayor and his staff for a limited period of time during the Council meeting on about motor vehicle valuations , taxation of motor vehicles and the budget.
The City Clerk is hereby directed to forward a copy of this Resolution to the Mayor, the
Finance Director, the Tax Assessor,the Internal Auditor and the members of the Rhode Island Vehicle Valuations commission..

Well it never went anywhere because the members of the ordinance committee dont want to hear it from the people,despite what they say in public!




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