To the Editor:
Many thanks to Mayor Solomon for coming forth and telling the fiscal truth to a small group of residents who gathered at Warwick Vets last Wednesday evening. The daunting truth of how disastrous the previous long-term administration was to this community is now no secret. This is no surprise to a handful of residents, including myself, who have been beating this drum and putting forth document based fact for many years. Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears and we were vilified by Avedisian and his co-conspirators.
For years, Avedisian had full control of the City Council with exception to maybe two or three members. Republican in name only, to this day I defy anyone to give one example of a Republican-like action that was ever taken by Avedisian. Truth be told, Avedisian gave away the store to the unions for the sole purpose of gaining their political support to keep the only job he has ever had. You are now paying for his selfish deeds. One need only look down the employee list to see the grotesque nepotism that has taken place within the hiring of city employees.
Years of theft, waste and abuse were overlooked by his administration. It became routine, as if the waste was required so that he could justify budget increases year after year. Pension plans not funded yet touted unrealistic returns, which turned out to be complete fiction. Healthcare plans giving away free lifetime healthcare for the retired. A wonderful benefit, unfortunately there is not one penny in the account that you the resident now bears the cost of 300 million dollars. For years, fiscally educated residents Cushman and Durand stood before numerous city council bodies bringing this eventual disaster to their attention, yet they were mocked and ridiculed. Former councilwoman Wilkinson named them the “haters” and the “hobbyist” and allowed unions members to disrupt their speaking on numerous occasions. Council president Donna Travis, behind on her car and property taxes at the time, was recorded on open mic with Wilkinson planning to stop residents from speaking at the open mic session. Unfortunately, their complete lack of any formal fiscal education contributed to the situation at hand.
Until recently, the finance committee was strategically appointed to do the bidding of Avedisian. Purchases never questioned, contracts not scrutinized, and expenditures made when clearly they were neither justified nor vetted. The only words we heard were “move favorable action.” Members of the finance committee for the most part had no business or finance education, and now we wonder why we are in the predicament that we find ourselves. Yet the few residents who continually sounded the warnings are the bad guys.
But where is Scotty? Hiding behind his PR person Ms. Polichetti. Why hasn’t he come forward and answered questions in public. Secret side deals, unauthorized expenditures with MIS, misrepresented budgets, the list goes on and on, yet he skates free with his RIPTA parachute. Then there was the covered cameras situation in the money room at RIPTA when Avedisian was the chairman of the board? Certainly, one could make the case for questionable oversight in his management capacities. I do find it interesting how every person that was involved in his administration’s questionable dealings are no longer around. All off on other taxpayer funded adventures with not one of them making their own payroll. Astoundingly, the former finance director Ernie Zmyslinski, whose job by city charter definition was to produce monthly reports of all spending of all departments, failed miserably protecting your tax dollars, and is now the Town Manager of West Warwick. God help the people of West Warwick! By the way, West Warwick just appointed convicted felon Jerry Leite to the pension board, in direct violation of its own town charter.
So what now is the next step? As someone who pays close attention to the finances of the city, a few things need to happen immediately.
The City Council needs to release the YKSM reports on the WFD and also the five-year plan report. The reports should be presented formally to the council by YKSM. It needs to be done in a manner where every taxpayer is notified that this important information will be made public. Since the city has a robo call system in place, it should be utilized to alert the residents of meetings, several meetings, to address the issue at hand. I suggest that after these reports are presented by YKSM, there should be at least one meeting in each ward presented by that council member. This will ensure a couple of things.
Number one, it will ensure that your councilman knows the facts and is intimately familiar with the cities fiscal condition (that is not the case as of recent) and number two, it will give every resident the opportunity to understand the dire fiscal situation in Warwick and how it is going to affect them. In the absence of these transparent decisions to make this information public, the administration and the council’s managerial skills will continue to be questioned and you will continue to pay the inflating bill.
I strongly urge every resident to contact their council member and demand full disclosure. I have said this before and I will say it again, rest assured that you will be getting the maximum tax increase this year and most likely the administration will seek relief from the General Assembly to institute a supplemental tax as well. Get your check books ready, its coming. Start making the calls.