November 23, 2014
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LETTERS
Petri flyer ‘misleading, quite inaccurate’

To the Editor: 

In last week’s mail, I found a leaflet that was sent to my home from Stacia Petri, who is running in the Republican primary to be the next mayor of our great city. Upon review of its contents, I decided to send it back to her with a few comments rather than simply discarding it. I thought that she might find my comments helpful. 

Although much information was included in the leaflet, its presentation is misleading, and quite inaccurate, at best. I would expect that she would be more forthcoming with her presentation, so that the average voter can make an informed decision based on the facts about which candidate has the true leadership qualities necessary to effectively manage our city.

As the current chairman of the City Municipal Retirement Board, I can assure you that her assertion that the “city books” need to be “open to promote transparency” is in direct conflict with the fact that the Retirement Board is in continued compliance with the State Open Meetings Law. Every meeting of the Municipal Retirement Board is properly posted as required and open to the public. In spite of that, it is an extremely rare instance that any members of the pension system – whether current employees or retirees – attend a meeting. In addition, in all of my years of service on the Board, I have never been approached outside of a meeting by a single member of the system with a question or a concern. And as I am sure Ms. Petri is aware, all of the current and past members of the system are represented on the Board by individual representatives, including retirees and the unions.

Ms. Petri also makes reference to “bringing in professionals to expose unsustainable costs.” I have the pleasure and the honor of serving on this Board with a group of extremely dedicated and conscientious individuals of the utmost integrity and professionalism. Ms. Petri’s implication that the members of the Board are anything less than professional is offensive and insulting. Additionally, the city, through an approved process, with the advice of the Board, retains actuaries and investment advisors of the highest caliber to assist with the execution of our fiduciary responsibility to the city, the taxpayers, and the members of the pension system.

The recent pension reforms enacted by the state of Rhode Island were actually drafted in part using the city of Warwick system as a model. The Warwick retirement system consists of four separate plans. Three of these plans are the highest ranked among all of the municipal plans in the state of Rhode Island. If I were a city employee – past or present – I would take great comfort in knowing that the city of Warwick Municipal Retirement Plan has been well managed. The facts speak for themselves.  

Ms. Petri also makes mention in the leaflet that the city is burdened by a “BILLION dollar debt problem.” Perhaps in the next leaflet that she sends to the residents of the city, she could clearly explain how she arrived at that number. Her answer to that question at the mayoral debate last Friday left me wondering. Her numbers just didn’t add up.      

I would suggest that Ms. Petri verify her sources before continuing to publish such misinformation. At some point, she may find herself in the uncomfortable position of having to prove the assertions that are being made.

Alfred Marciano,

CPA, Chairman

City of Warwick

Municipal Retirement Board


Comments
17 comments on this item

Wait a minute your telling me that the author of those numbers (Cushman) smartest man alive is actually wrong? Oh my gosh what are we going to do now... I though we were all saved....they are hacks. Combining numbers, making false accusations and generally having no clue how it all works sounds about right to me...

" The recent pension reforms enacted by the state of Rhode Island were actually drafted in part using the city of Warwick system as a model. Three of these plans are the highest ranked among all of the municipal plans in the state of Rhode Island. " - Well said Mr. Marciano. Stacia is an absolute menace to society and should be exiled.

Dear Mr. Marciano, If you were confused by the numbers you should have spoken up a long time ago. There are a number of people who would have been more then happy to discuss them with you. The pension numbers are from actuarial reports. The General Obligation Debt and long term liabilities that were discussed at the debate total $ 781 Million. A little lower then the Billion that you state, but hey, on a per capita basis, approximately $9,534 per Warwick resident.

Sincerely,

Roy Dempsey

Dear Mr. Marciano,

After performing enormous amounts of research I would have to question your credibility on a number of issues. If you are the chairman of the retirement board, I would ask you if you have ever given any thought to the number of Warwick municipal workers, (especially firefighters) that have retired before the age of 45? Have you given any thought to the fact that the model was never intended to make 45 - 50 year payouts? Since the system is a defined benefit program which has been documented all over the country as being the root cause of community fiscal stress, why hasn't the system been revamped to a defined contribution program? Why haven't any studies been undertaken as to create a formula for converting the current employee contributions to date into some form of a pay off with dividend based on market models and to convert those monies into a plan that the beneficiary needs to be responsible for managing? Please detail the safeguards that the mayor continually touts that will be put in place to protect what little assets there are in the case of a major market correction, which is being predicted by all of the Wall Street analysts.

For example, I know several police officers that have retired after 25 years at approximately $52K / yr pension benefits and they tell me that their entire career contribution was returned within the first 9 months of retirement. Is it reasonable to assume that you put 40 or 50 K into a program and expect to get 1.3 million out of it? I am not sure what level of mathematics you attained in your educational history, but certainly, you dont need to be a Harvard MBA to figure out that the current formula doesn't work. All we hear from the mayor is nice catch phrases of "built in corrective mechanisms" but he cannot explain what they are. Maybe you can?

You can easily go on RI Freedom and Prosperity and count the number of Warwick employees retired by age 45. I have no problem with anyone retiring at age 45, however, the rule needs to be that no one, I repeat, no one receives a pension dime until the age of 65, just like the people who are paying out these insane benefits. Now theres some reform that takes som cahonies.

Another Scottie spin doctor who doesn't know the facts. Mr. Marciano did you attend the city council meeting a few years ago where Warwick's healthcare advisor stated under questioning by Councilman Merolla that Warwick should be putting aside $20 million a year to fund their unfunded $250 million plus healthcare obligation. Trouble is Scottie can only raise taxes by $8 million according to state law.

Mr. Marciano, I guess you missed that meeting. You, like Scottie, continue to misrepresent the facts.

"According to the city’s professional actuaries, Warwick’s largest pension plan is just 22.3 percent funded and, as of June 30, 2011, had a staggering liability of $242,127,650."- http://www.golocalprov.com/news/new-councilman-says-time-is-running-out-for-warwick/ This Article is from 2012. Also note this Councilman is NOT Bob Cushman but Joe Solomon.

From 2011, "(Warwick has an unfunded health care liability of $258 million according to a recent auditor general’s report). And that doesn’t even take into account the city’s unfunded health care liability, which according to a recent Auditor General’s report, tops $300 million"- http://www.golocalprov.com/news/warwick-facing-pension-meltdown/

From the same Article, Avedisian "consistently pointed out that it, saved $8 million in the future. Perhaps, but “the future” is a pretty vague term. In fact, Avedisian, 47-years-old, will be far into retirement by the time the city realizes $8 million in savings. According to actuarial reports, Warwick will not save $8 million (in one fiscal year) until 2049. Avedisian will be 85-years-old." -http://www.golocalprov.com/news/warwick-facing-pension-meltdown/

Mr Marciano, since you state in your letter, that you and the board "retains actuaries and investment advisors of the highest caliber to assist with the execution of our fiduciary responsibility to the city, the taxpayers, and the members of the pension system", at what point then did you choose to ignore their advice and/or data telling you the LARGEST pension, Police and Fire I is poorly funded and decided instead to be a cheerleader for yourself, the board, and the Mayor and tell people that everything is fine. I am sorry to say, The Emperor has No Clothes, everything is not fine, we are in a financial crisis. 97% of all new tax dollars are going to Pensions and Healthcare. it is unsustainable.

Are the numbers Stacia For Mayor put out Right ?, Wrong?, are Bob Cushman's numbers Right ?, or Wrong ?. I am not a CPA, not an Actuary, I am however a 30 year home owner, small business owner, a commercial property owner in Warwick, I am not sight impaired, or hearing impaired, I feel the pain of raised property tax. I read the Warwick Beacon, The Providence Journal, I watch the news every night. I am a college graduate, a business man (18 yrs). What's the point of all this ?, This city is a crap hole!!!, where does all the tax money go?, the mayor say's all is good, yet I blew a tire on a pot hole, I drive sandy lane like a slalom course, my daughter will go to Pilgrim next year, it looks like a bombed out building on the news !!, I feel like Warwick is speeding to a cliff, and the mayor and his supporters will say, oops we were given the wrong information !!., we have to raise taxes even more. I will not stand for this !!, I don't want to leave Warwick !!. I will vote for Stacia Petri for Mayor, and I urge everyone to pull your'e head out the sand and open your'e eyes !!!

All of you folks complaining about the pensions being 'unsustainable'. Mr. Marciano correctly points out that none of you ever attended a meeting. You voted for folks who didn't tell you anything about pensions. The union contracts are available for review by all citizens but not one of you ever read a teacher, firefighter or police contract. You cannot change what was promised but unfunded. You may be able to insist on a different plan going forward but you cannot change the contracts that are in the past.

Pay more attention to your city, attend some meetings, vote for smart people. Or shut up and pay your taxes.

Dave barry , you are completely misguided. So much so that I haven't the time to waste to humiliate you with facts.

Fenceman has no response that's why he can't respond. Stacia's numbers are so skewed but hey don't trust the experts.. Fenceman and his incredibly jealous friends know more...

RI and Warwick Taxpayers are being held hostage. A taxpayer can't read the contract until it is already signed and by then they are screwed. When a person votes for a representative, the representative is supposed to be working on their behalf. The argument that everyone must attend the meetings to get proper representation is wrong. The person is elected and it is THEIR job to make good decisions... the people that elected them already have jobs that they go to everyday to pay for the needs of their family (and the pay taxes that are continuing to rise out of control). Those that are elected and/or running for office are asking to take responsibility to handle negotiations and enter into contracts on behalf of the people that elected them. They can NOT say as a response, "Well, no one from the public showed up at the meeting so I decided to screw the public and make a good deal to get myself re-elected. The public should have showed up to the meeting." Vote them all out.

We need to organize a "taxpayer union" that negotiates a contract that infrastructure spending is sufficiently funded first and all negotiated pension contributions are made annually. No more thinking we're going to grow our way out of the problem. The city is contracting, not growing. Avedisian doesn't represent us, he only cares about getting re-elected.

Then the city can negotiate contracts with the unions. Gee, fiscal responsibility what a concept.

Debt description

General Obligation Bond $50,992,040

Police/Fire I Pension $309,774,579

Police II Pension $182,130,783

Fire II Pension $41,218,696

Municipal Pension $130,992,110

City Health (OPEB) $246,036,471

School Health (OPEB) $39,359,679

Total Debt $1,000,504,358

SteveD you must stop smoking all that pot as it is obvious that your short term memory loss is effecting you. I guess you don't remember Steve, a previous post last year that you made in response to my posting about the FF contract. You heckled me and stated that I was wrong with my numbers as "not even the firefighters have seen the contract yet as it hasn't been presented to us". That was 6 months into the contract. You don't remember that do you?

The taxpayer is purposely kept out of the negotiations. They are done behind closed doors and the general public cant see them until they are ratified. By then it is too late. I dont understand your comment about "jealous friends". Do you really believe in your head that everyone wants to be a fireman? Is that what all that is about. I must admit, I wanted to be a fireman too. When I was in first grade and got to sit in the firetruck with the other kids. That thought was gone at the end of the day when I was playing with my Tonka Truck bulldozer in the sand box.

As I said before, we need to make a trophy of the typical Warwick firefighter. It would be a a guy with a fire helmet on patting himself on the back with the insignia "hero" flashing in neon on the helmet. The name tag would say Steve D.

Stop demonizing the Fire Department and start focusing on the REAL issues. You are falling into the exact trap the politicians want you too. #GetWise

#Sheeple

That Petri seems odd. Facebook commenting about random things in middle of night 2, 3, 4am

Mr. Marciano; The last time I heard such indignation, hubris and offense was from the RISDIC board testifying before House and Senate finance committee's how RISDIC was "Carved in stone"...we all know how that ended...or Linc Almond calling in State workers during a snow storm, telling them that the roads were "clear and passible"..That created a traffic debacle...Or Studio 38 bringing high tech jobs to RI....You said you corrected the items of Ms. Petri's numbers...funny, why didn't you correct them for the public to see? If Mr. Cushman's numbers are all incorrect, come out and stand side by side with the Mayor and state for the record "the numbers are all wrong." " The recent pension reforms enacted by the state of Rhode Island were actually drafted in part using the city of Warwick system as a model. Three of these plans are the highest ranked among all of the municipal plans in the state of Rhode Island. " this according to you...That will be back like a scarlet letter at some point, hopefully before a statewide or federal grand jury that investigates collusion and racketeering in the way state and municipal contracts have been negotiated in this State...Agreeing to contracts and healthcare benefits that are unsustainable, financially reckless and endanger the solvency of a taxpayer supported pension system is massive fraud...at some point, the FBI will be back, after all, who had ever heard about operation dollar bill...Have a nice day.

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