To the Editor:
Anyone that has paid attention to Warwick politics and city hall is certainly aware that the atmosphere can accurately be referred to as contentious and dysfunctional. It seems now that this dysfunctional atmosphere has risen to a new level.
It is well known that Warwick is in deep financial crisis and that the new mayor, Mayor Solomon, is facing some serious fiscal challenges. He has publicly announced that Warwick is facing incredible challenges ahead. The city council president, Councilman Merolla, has also sounded the alarm bell for quite some time. In difficult unsettling times like this, with everyone pointing the finger, one would think that at the end of the day, at least when you get home, your family member would be on your team. Not the case at the Solomon residence.
With several bills in the General Assembly that are detrimental to communities, you would think that State Rep. Joe Solomon Jr. would exercise that same logic as his father, the mayor, and seek to not make his father’s job more complex, and further, exercise fiscal common sense as to not hurt his constituents.
Unfortunately, that is not the case with the younger Solomon. Solomon Jr. has elected to ignore his father’s difficulties, ignore the fragility of his own city, and vote along party lines to garner the favor of the unions and the speaker. Voting in favor of the firefighter overtime bills that will have a dramatic cost associated with it, and voting in favor of the Evergreen bill, he has in essence waved the middle finger to his dad, and to his constituents.
In what can only be seen as gross negligence and betrayal of his duties to his constituents, he has also flipped the bird to the League of Cities and Towns, and to every other mayor in the state, all of which have been outspoken about the damage that these bills will do to the town budgets and to the residents. And for what reason? To stay in good graces with the speaker? He should be ashamed of himself, and it’s decisions such as these that have turned Rhode Island into the armpit of the nation. Way to go Joe Jr.
Spending almost as much time in the mayor’s office as his father, he must be well aware of the catastrophe that his father is facing. I have to ask myself if he reads the papers, or does he listen to the chatter at city hall, or does he listen to the radio? Or is it possible that he is just oblivious to the effects of his decision to choose party over people? In any event, his recent actions clearly prove his unfitness for office. Clearly, he has no financial expertise and does not have the skill set to understand financial projections. In these times, the lack of the aforementioned is cause for residents ending his political career rapidly. Irresponsible decisions like these are made for one reason only, the longevity of the politician.
Another disturbing caveat to this mess is that last week every mayor and town manager in Rhode Island stood together with the League of Cities and Towns to object to the Evergreen contract that has been championed by the former failed Warwick Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson. Only one mayor was absent from the gathering, Joe Solomon. Although cutting the ribbon for the new paint job at the council chambers was a moment that will forever last in the history books of Warwick, it seems that, that particular moment is presently being overshadowed by the silence of the mayor as to why he did not attend. In view of the fact that optics are everything, one could easily challenge the decision not to attend as a move to protect his son, or worse, to send a subliminal message with a wink and a nod, that I too, respect the party lines.
From the outside looking in, the optics, and his silence, would suggest that his absence was political cover for his son, who clearly was voting along party lines to keep favor with the speaker. I can only imagine what last week’s Sunday dinner conversation at the Solomon household was about.
The fact of the matter is that the residents of Warwick are tired of this political crap. We have all witnessed union pandering and questionable behavior on the part of several council members, both past and present. For years we watched deceptive practices, both political and financial. We pay for the poor performance and results, and the people responsible for the urban decay all walk away with pensions and free healthcare, with zero accountability. Need I give a list of names?
Mr. Mayor, we keep hearing about transparency and action, yet none of that has been very apparent. So here’s what I would do if I were in your office.
I would engage the Rhode Island State Police and the Attorney General office to get a legal determination if in fact the fiscal status of the city which was represented to you and the city council by Scott Avedisian, was in fact accurate, and not falsified when the city engaged in three union contracts. By your own admission, it seems as if this was the case. Two of those signed contracts were on your watch, so you own them.
If in fact there are findings that the city’s fiscal position was falsified upon you taking office and upon the ratification of the teacher’s contract, I would file suit to overturn the contracts and to renegotiate them to a more fair and equitable position in favor of the taxpayer. In reality, you have no other choice, your options are limited, and if your son has his way by virtue of his votes, you have zero options other than insolvency. Imagine that caption under your picture on the walls of city hall. Harsh reality isn’t it?
The only golden parachute that you have is to do nothing, and kick the can down the road until 2020. At that point you can just fade away and begin taking your pension. By the way, for the edification of the residents, as of April 18, 2018, your pension benefit after 18 years as a part time employee of the city was $4,649.85 annually, or $387.48 per month. If you do nothing, take no substantive action, and resolve none of the fiscal issues, after one term in office, your pension benefit grows from $4,649.85 annually, or $387.48 per month to $45,027.50 annually or $3,752.29 per month. In essence what that amounts to is 2 years of political pressure and media for a payday of almost $1 million based on a 20-year mortality. Not to hard to take, particularly with no immediate or quantifiable results.
Having presented the facts, with the residents’ investment of a million dollars, what is the expected return on our investment? By the way, I openly invite you to publicize your plan going forward, and to refute any of my facts and numbers. I openly await your critique.