Stenhouse rips Solomon over streetlights

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With less than three weeks until the statewide election, and with the two poised to face off in a mayoral debate this afternoon, Republican candidate for mayor Sue Stenhouse went on the offensive against Mayor Joseph Solomon on Monday through a release that was critically accusatory in regards to Solomon’s handling of a bid this past spring regarding the purchase of city streetlights from National Grid.

“Once again, due to the Acting Mayor’s lack of knowledge about budget matters and his tendency to kick the can down the road – as with the school department funding issue, the Annex redevelopment, repurposing the vacant, surplus city properties throughout our neighborhoods, and the Conimicut Lighthouse matter – Acting Mayor Solomon is now costing the hardworking taxpayers of Warwick tens of thousands tax dollars every month,” Stenhouse said in her release.

Stenhouse is referring in this most recent attack to the collective decision of the city council to hold off on a bid in March – back when Solomon was Council President – that was put forth by the Partnership for Rhode Island Streetlight Management (PRISM) in order to purchase the city’s streetlights from National Grid and realize immediate savings of up to $572,000 in maintenance costs, with more savings going forward by contracting with a Warwick company for maintenance of the lights rather than continue being forced to contract with Grid.

During his presentation to the city, PRISM co-founder George Woodbury made it clear that by continuing to contract under Grid for streetlight maintenance, the city was not leaving around $48,000 in uncaptured savings on the table every month.

Still, the council ultimately held off on awarding the bid, citing PRISM was the only respondent to the bid, that they needed more information and that they had concerns about locking into a contract worth a total of $1.5 million over multiple years that did not include financial estimates for how much it would cost to do the actual conversion to LED lighting. Solomon and council members reiterated their belief in that decision on Wednesday.

“The streetlight proposal that came before me and the entire City Council earlier this year was a no-bid contract. It did not include conversion of the existing infrastructure to LED lights and instead merely involved the acquisition of antiquated, dilapidated equipment and technology that would have resulted in a contract of upwards of $1.5 million,” Solomon said in a statement Wednesday responding to Stenhouse’s release. “The entire City Council, including myself, decided that it did not want to throw good money after bad and would prefer to allocate funds into a full LED streetlight conversion after a competitive bid process. This long-term solution, rather than the short-sighted proposal that was before the City Council, will benefit our community through cost savings, an improved environment and safer neighborhoods.”

“I would add that members of the previous administration did not know the number of lights we have, the number of poles, how many lights are presently red-capped,” Ward 5 Councilman and finance committee chair Ed Ladouceur contributed, also through the statement. “They weren’t in agreement on any of the facts that we needed. We weren’t about to make decisions affecting the taxpayers without accurate information and competitive bids.”

It should be noted that in his presentation to the council Woodbury was clear that, while PRISM’s bid indeed did not include financial estimates on switching to LED lights, it would be essential to own the streetlights and contract with a company to perform maintenance prior to converting anyways – so committing to that process was a necessary first step if the city wanted to go with LED regardless. He said that it would cost around 40 percent more to go through any competing companies, such as Siemens or Honeywell, as PRISM is a nonprofit organization.

Still, Solomon did announce that the city was once again seeking bids through an RFP for LED conversion of streetlights on Oct. 8. However, to Stenhouse, this is too little too late.

“While I applaud the effort to research this initiative, it should never take seven months for action, especially when it involves obtaining substantial revenues to the city,” she said in the release.

Going further, Stenhouse accused Solomon and the city council of failing to remove a projected savings of approximately $500,000 that was included in the city’s streetlighting line item in the FY19 budget (which she claimed went from $1.4 million budgeted in FY18 to $900,000 in FY19).

“The Acting Mayor and the City Council forgot to back fill this line item in the budget after they voted down this initiative on May 21st. Now the City is running a monthly deficit of approximately $40,000 to $48,000 in the streetlight line item,” Stenhouse said. “If Solomon read the budget and understood the PRISM savings was included in it, and still chose to hold off on the plan, he has grossly mismanaged taxpayer money and is a political obstructionist. If he did not read the budget, then he is not qualified to hold office.”

Council President Steve Merolla was pointed in his response to Stenhouse’s comments.

“Throughout his tenure on the City Council, Mayor Solomon has been a strong advocate for the taxpayer and has insisted on a competitive bid process, whether it be for bids over $2,500 or the city’s health care contract, which has saved the taxpayers millions of dollars,” said Merolla. “This issue is no different. We need a comprehensive, competitive bid process to ensure we are spending money wisely. In the entire time I have served on the City Council, Sue Stenhouse never voted against a tax increase. Not once when we were debating the issue of streetlights did Sue show up to give her opinion, nor has she attended any council meetings or budget hearings to express her thoughts on school allocations or any other issues or concerns she has relative to the budget.”

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Justanidiot

candidate stenhouse doesn't want lights to be too bright. someone might notice that the old folks waiting for the bus are actually paid protestors in wigs and old lady blue coats

Thursday, October 18
Cat2222

A well thought out long term plan is in the best interest of the taxpayers than buying into the National Grid false narrative. I am 100% taking the time to bid. Also, acting Mayor Solomon has had quite a few things on his plate since taking over the office. Since Stenhouse is not also working the job of mayor she clearly has more time on her hands to find little things to nitpick in order to boost her audience. A light house and street lights aren't going to push the majority vote towards her. Notice, Sue, that Solomon hasn't been peppering the media with video and pictures of your Cranston Senior Center cross dressing debacle. This isn't how you run a campaign. It doesn't matter how many widows of former leaders in this city you get to sing your praises, it is the people who worked with you and the citizen that remember you that are making the decision. .

Thursday, October 18
TheSkipper

Ain't voting for Senhouse.

Already seen how she lies and resorts to subterfuge to cover her butt when things arn't going her way.

What's she gonna pull when she's really up against the wall?

Let her start out as Dog catcher, then move her up to janitor, then Maybe kitchen assistant but she's got a long way to go before

(If Ever) I'd trust her with mayor.......

Thursday, October 18
WW7564

GO SUE!!! I AM ROOTING FOR YOU!! YOU WILL MAKE AN AMAZING TALENTED MAYOR! GET SOLOMON OUT!!

Thursday, October 18
WwkVoter

Stenhouse with her ethical issues is a hard no for me all day long.

Joe Solomon has it all over her in pretty much every category. GO JOE!

Thursday, October 18
Justanidiot

"Joe Solomon has it all over her in pretty much every category. GO JOE!"

I bet he even looks better in a dress and wig.

Friday, October 19
Bob_Cushman

I just received by mail a campaign flyer from Sue Stenhouse where she sites as an example of an accomplishment that she served as a representative for the city council on the RIPEC (RI Public Expenditure Council) Municipal Consolidation Committee over a decade ago.

I also served on that same committee representing the Warwick School Department as Chairman of the school committee.

The committee was commissioned by the City Council to determine where school and city operations could be streamlined and consolidated to save money. One of the issues with consolidation has always been the enormous difference in City employee retiree benefits to school department retirement costs.

Remarkably, RIPEC never performed the analysis of the city side of the budget focusing on these benefits. While on the committee I requested multiply times that RIPEC perform that analysis.

Sue Stenhouse rejected that request multiply times.

During the RIPEC presentation of the report to the city council, the Council President noted that “he thought the $35,000 was allocated for both school and city review, but noted that the comparison did not have ‘quite as much depth on the city side’”.

Even after the report was published, Stenhouse never championed the cause and basically let it sit on the shelf collecting dust.

Now she wants voters to believe this she was the architect to some major reforms.

How can anyone trust Sue Stenhouse when she sites token appointments as accomplishments and uses double talk and deceptive gimmicks (cross dressing incident) throughout her career to fool citizens into believing she was effective?

This is just more reason why voters need to compare what Sue Stenhouse says to what Sue Stenhouse actually did and they will realize she is not qualified to serve as Mayor.

Friday, October 19