Students primed to quiz mayoral candidates

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On Monday afternoon, the Beacon conference room was littered with Dunkin Donuts coffee cups, water bottles, Dave’s Marketplace pizza boxes and laptop computers. This was the second meeting for high school students prepping to man tomorrow night’s mayoral debate.

The students from Bishop Hendricken, Pilgrim and Toll Gate High Schools pored over information on their computers and packets they’d printed. Some questions would be specifically for Mayor Scott Avedisian while others would be directed at Democratic challenger Richard Corrente. Airport, taxes, budget, schools and miscellaneous will be the major topics of their questions.

Also of importance was what students would play which roles. It’s more than just the candidates that need to be moderated; the crowd would need control, as well as whatever questions that came in from social media. It was decided that Matthew Forcino from Hendricken and Zach Colon from Toll Gate would co-moderate. Eddie Cascella from Pilgrim is the timekeeper. Rebecca Carcieri from Toll Gate and Collin Devine of Pilgrim will curate the questions submitted by the audience via 3x5 cards and Twitter.

One student brought up what is arguably the most critical matter of all: would we have wi-fi during the debate?

The students say their educational backgrounds are helpful in preparing them for the tasks they’ll fulfill on Friday. They take AP classes, participate in Mock Trial, and are parts of their school leaderships. Some are thinking of public service.

“I definitely think my involvement in school has helped me to get here and prepared me to take on this job of moderating,” said Matthew Gage, a senior at Bishop Hendricken who plans to study political science.

“Personally, I’m very dedicated to civics and hope for a career in public service,” said Sean Noonan, one of Gage’s classmates.

Matthew Forcino, another Hendricken senior, also said he would like to take a civic route and plans to study law, finance or public policy.

The hour-long debate will take place tomorrow night at 5:30 p.m. at City Council chambers. It’s free and open to the public, but audience members are asked to remain respectful and to refrain from interrupting the proceedings. While demonstrations of support for candidates are welcome, campaign signs and similar items that might cause visual impediment or distraction to others on hand will not be allowed in the Council chambers. Those wishing to attend are encouraged but not required to RSVP on the Beacon’s Facebook page or Eventbrite.com.

Questions can be submitted on 3x5 cards to Carcieri in the Council Chambers at City Hall between 4:30 and 5:25 p.m. on Friday or via Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #warwickmayoraldebate.

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Thecaptain

Yet another example of the cowardice of the mayor who will never allow himself to be asked direct questions from the taxpayers. Hidden under the disguise as a "civics lesson" to students, this sham debate is nothing more than a layer of protection for Scotty. As with the city council puppet finance director Wilkinson, her "bait and switch" resulted in the taxpayer not being able to ask questions to the city actuary on the pension debt (by order of her puppet master Scotty).

In reality, if the mayor was really doing a great job as he thinks and as his paid off employees think, why wouldn't he expose himself to his critics, prove them wrong once and for all with actual data, and get on with the business of righting the ship? So here are a couple of questions for both candidates:

Scott:

You have been mayor for 18 years in this city. The city is drowning in debt. Currently the city holds approximately $800 million dollars of debt. Of that , more than $300 million is in completely unfunded healthcare liabilities, yet we continually give away free lifetime healthcare, pension debt, and other post employment obligation debt. For the past 5 years, the city’s assets have been in decline while the liabilities have dramatically increased. With the lack of funding for improved educational facilities, roads, and general services, coupled with 15 years of continued tax increases, how can you possibly look at the city balance sheet and suggest to intelligent people who are paying attention, that the city is on the right path?

Rick:

As a mayoral candidate you should have certain fiscal skills that you bring to the table to institute corrective measures to financial difficulties which, as we are all aware, plague the City of Warwick. As a local businessman and mortgage broker, you lost your house on 177 Grand View Ave. due to delinquent property taxes resulting in tax sale, and delinquent mortgage payments. The result was that the property was confiscated from you, and for the past 2 years you have been in litigation with 2 acquisition companies that have tried to evict you. In the past 2 years you have lived at the location, rent free, property tax free, but remarkably, during that time, you were able to loan yourself $30,000 for a mayoral campaign. How does your personal obvious financial mis-management, bring any skill set to solving a municipality’s financial problems which currently amount to approximately $800 million dollars of debt?

I await your answers.

Thursday, October 20, 2016