Cianci, Cicilline, Esserman Pensions Targeted

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


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The pensions for two former mayors—David Cicilline and Buddy Cianci—are both up for possible reduction or revocation at the Providence Retirement Board meeting Wednesday.

The board will also take up the question of whether Police Chief Dean Esserman has a second pension through the city.

Cianci’s pensions have already appeared on the agenda at least once this year. Board members have said they do not feel a need to take action on removing his retirement pay until he actually applies for the benefit.

But board member Carla Dowben says she is pressing one more time to get the board to act—saying Cianci’s conviction on a federal racketeering charge should exclude him from receiving any retirement benefits. She says the board shouldn’t wait for Cianci to apply. “There’s no reason not to stop him at any time, any day, any year—20 years from now from applying,” Dowben said.

City ordinance allows the board to pull pensions for former employees who did not render dishonorable service. The state Supreme Court recently ruled that the ordinance in place at the beginning of this year applied to criminal convictions.

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Cicilline’s retirement benefits are also being targeted by board member Kerion O’Mara, who represents retired fire and police officers. O’Mara has said the former mayor and current Congressman does not deserve any benefits after running the city’s finances into the ground. He says a new ordinance the city passed after the Supreme Court ruling would apply to Cicilline.

Cicilline has called the move “the most ridiculous thing” he's heard. He said he opted out of his elected official pension and is not eligible for regular pension. But O’Mara said Cicilline still earned credits in the city retirement system—and he wants to prevent him from using them again.

The board will also be reviewing whether Esserman had—as O’Mara claims—a special second pension.

The board is scheduled to meet at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in City Hall.

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