Hot debate on retiree health care

By TYGER ALLEN
Posted 2/27/20

By TYGER ALLEN Different proposals to fix what is being called the unsustainable cost of municipal retiree health care benefits - which went from $23 million a year ago to $34 million now in annual required contributions, according to City Council

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Hot debate on retiree health care

Posted

Editor's note: In "Hot debate on retiree health care," published in the Feb. 27 edition, Council Rule 19 was said to be used during Rob Cote’s speech about the health insurance commission. Councilman Anthony Sinapi invoked Rule 19 because of personal attacks, not because Cote said the process would take too long.

Different proposals to fix what is being called the unsustainable cost of municipal retiree health care benefits – which went from $23 million a year ago to $34 million now in annual required contributions, according to City Council President Steven Merolla – spurred debate at Monday’s council meeting.

On the one hand, Ward 5 Councilman Ed Ladouceur and Merolla have advanced an ordinance that would require retirees to co-pay for health care based on the amount of their pension. Not wed to his plan, Ladouceur said he wants to open the issue to discussion.

“Let’s have the debate right here on the floor,” he said.

On the other hand, Ward 8 Councilman Anthony Sinapi wants to hit the pause button. He is calling for the creation of a commission to study the issue and report back to the council.

Neither of the proposals reached the council for a vote. After more than an hour of discussion, Sinapi agreed to amend his resolution that would come before the council on March 9 and Ladouceur agreed to table his and Merolla’s ordinance until March 23.

Sinapi’s proposed resolution aims to create a commission that would review and study the health insurance benefits of all unionized municipal employees. His resolution lists him as the chairperson leading eight other individuals. Beside him would be one representative each from the police, fire and city staff unions; Mayor Joseph J. Solomon or a designee; representatives from both the Personnel and Finance departments as appointed by the mayor or department head; Merolla; and Mr. Donald Cimini.

Sinapi said Cimini would be well suited to represent retirees on the commission.

Merolla questioned the resolution just as Finance Chairman Ed Ladouceur asked for questions or comments from the council. He suggested the composition of Sinapi’s proposed commission was skewed too far toward public officials.

“It just seems like there’s all people from the administration or from the council,” Merolla told Sinapi. “There’s not too many people there as far as residents go.”

Sinapi said that he would welcome an amendment to include a member of the public onto the list if that individual was designated by him. He mentioned that he has someone in mind with ample financial background who could fill that role.

Sinapi responded to Merolla by saying, “We represent the people, the whole point of this is so we can get an idea in this. This isn’t an ‘us or them’ scenario, this is a group of people who are trying to figure out a situation.”

Sinapi said that this commission would provide an opportunity to learn from and inform others about this topic as they research the best possible options for health insurance.

Ladouceur was not added to Sinapi’s list of commission members despite being the chair of the Finance Committee where the resolution was brought up.

“I think it’s absolutely imperative that at least one representative from the public have a seat on this commission,” Ladouceur said.

Merolla added that having someone from the health insurance field would be beneficial on a committee studying the topic. Sinapi said that he would rather not pack the commission, but would want a representative to attend a few meetings to offer expertise.

Sinapi’s resolution has a six-month window to study the commission’s options for health insurance. He said he does not want to rush a decision regarding such a significant issue.

On Tuesday, Merolla said that he is not opposed to a study, but the council has waited years to discuss the matter. He said the topic is difficult to approach because one way or another, everyone comes out on the bottom.

“There are no winners in this,” Merolla said. “Even the employees are going to lose.”

Warwick Republican City Committee Chairman Richard Cascella stepped up to the microphone during public comments. He took issue with the idea that the people who are receiving the contracts will be the ones who craft it.

“Thirty percent of the people on this board should at the very least be from the general public,” Cascella said.

The GOP chairman also mentioned that there is an obvious rift between Merolla and Sinapi on this topic.

Warwick resident Rob Cote offered his own suggestion to Sinapi’s resolution.

“Why not have a commission made up of nine people – eight of those people be from the taxpayers, and we’ll have one person that represents all the unions. And let’s see what the demeanor becomes then,” he said.

Cote took issue with the role taxpayers play in this decision. He said that the only thing they do in this process is write the check. He took issue with Sinapi’s comment about representing the people of Warwick.

“I can name specific events where the people weren’t represented on issues like this when this council chamber was packed with people on certain appointments and everyone was against it. And they were ignored,” Cote said. “We’re not being represented.”

Cote said the projected six months it would take to issue a report is much too long. Sinapi, however, didn’t want to hear it. He cited Council Rule 19, which states that the president is to enforce order and decorum among persons outside the rail dividing the public from the council.

After Cote left the podium, Sinapi suggested the commission could include every council member or a designee to allow for equal representation in each ward.

Then, after public comments, Ladouceur referred to health insurance as a “political hot potato” and said that he would not support Sinapi’s resolution as it stands, but not because he was left off the original list of members. Councilman Stephen McAllister then requested a five-minute recess after more discussion from the Finance Committee.

Immediately after the committee reconvened, Sinapi said that he wanted to make some adjustments to his resolution and hold it until March 9.

Comments

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Patient Man

If Sinapi wants to limit the commission the public unions don't need 3 members on the commission. 1 should be able to represent the concerns of the multiple memberships. Would be nice to see a member of the public like Bob Cushman that understands finance & doesn't need to get re-elected.

Will city have to unilaterally cut retiree benefits & fight to RISC? Hard to believe the exponential cost increases can be sustained.

Thursday, February 27
Jimmy's Ghost

First promotions all across the board for us and then 2.8% raises! Yes raises on top of a promotion. It's two raises in one week!!! Who else is getting raises like this, anyone?? (((but don't tell anyone, the mayor is spinning this a different way so shhh)))

Thursday, February 27
Dexter

2.8%.... that’s news to me..... why present facts when you can make stuff up.

Thursday, February 27
Jimmy's Ghost

Dexter - my bad. I meant 2.25%

Thursday, February 27
Dexter

No problem Rob.....

Thursday, February 27
Jimmy's Ghost

You shoulda heard Tony-boy go to bat for the administration! He's awesome! I thought it was a great idea to stack the committee with beneficiaries of the healthcare system they want to "study". What's wrong with that? Who better to have on the team then the very people who use the healthcare. Lighten up folks, Tonys got this.

Thursday, February 27
Jimmy

Boo

Thursday, February 27
davebarry

Merolla and the rest can form all the committees they wish. The retirees have contracts. As soon as you find a 'solution' and begin charging retirees for more than their respective bargaining agreements allow, they will file suit in court. The courts will likely issue a stay, since an immediate loss of monies is incurred through the change. Short of the city filing bankruptcy or being taken over for near bankruptcy, ain't gonna fly. Contracts still mean something. And don't point to what the state did. That was oranges to apples.

Thursday, February 27
Ward 8 Voter

Sinapi is an absolute embarrassment to this city. Having a council person with his nose that far up the mayors and the unions backside is not going to end well for the taxpayers.

Thursday, February 27
Windmills102

I think the employees promised certain retirement parameters shouldn't be duped

Thursday, February 27
Cindy Lee Wilson

Iw as appalled by the way Sinapi talked to the city council especially the president. It was condescending at best. HE NEEDS TO GO!

Thursday, February 27
Billy .

Cindy, Merolla is the biggest moron on that stage. He grandstands at every opportunity. I would rather a rock sit in that seat. My grandmother is a resident at Sparrow 2, I spend all

My time telling them how he does nothing for them. He should be worried.

Thursday, February 27
John Simoneau

SINAPI is a loser, as his resolution is for the taxpayers. Nine people with him as the leader (joke), 3 union people, Mayor, 1 each from Personnel and Finance depatments, and 1 for the retirees. That's 8 of the 9 BEING MAYORS CLOWNS. with his head NITWIT SINAPI AS THE RING LEADER OF THIS CIRCUS. REALLY. What world are these dopes living in. HAVE ALL YOU UNION DOPES NOT SEEN WHAT SUPERIOR AND SUPREME COURTS HAVE RECENTLY DONE TO UNION CONTRACTS FOR RETIREES IN CRANSTON AND PROVIDENCE? CONTRACTS ARE LIKE TOILET PAPER IN RI COURTS NOW. Except if you try to take the JUDGE'S BENEFITS.

You go through with this charade of a committee, six month study (so after election), with its makeup this way, and you can guarantee you all will be defeated in NOVEMBER. Go ahead, I dare you.

Thursday, February 27
FastFRED Ward 4

never did I seen this this is worst then mayberry RFD think back old timers

Friday, February 28
Warwick Resident 1998

So in this article we learned that Mr. Cote does not understand what a representative democracy is.

I think Snapi’s proposal makes sense. As long as we realize that existing retiree’s healthcare can’t be changed because they have a property right to the terms they retired under. So legally there is an issue as well as morally. These workers had an agreement with the city. In previous negotiations raises were foregone and workplace rights were altered to protect healthcare. To change the terms of their retirement is morally and legally wrong. But if it truly is an issue why didn’t any of the latest CBA’s address it for current employees?

And obviously each union should have a seat at the table. But you all realize that the unions don’t represent retirees right?

Friday, February 28
disgusting

Sinapi has to be the most OBNOXIOUS COUNCILMAN of all times. His demeanor is atrocious, his people skills are non-existence and his know it all attitude is over the top.

Sinapi has sold his soul to the unions and Solomon so the taxpayers better beware.

These so called union agreements were signed by the corrupt former mayor aka Scotty giveaway the store and the union thug, Bill Lloyd of the WFD.

There were no studies done regarding healthcare costs for these agreements.

If the taxpayers had a Mayor who represented them (Solomon doesn't), these contracts would be challenged in court.

Friday, February 28
Billy T

Until Johnny Pajamas comes clean and states publicly how much he pays for health care after his retirement from the Providence Police Dept. on a phony disability pension, he'll be just as irrelevant as his girlfriend Stacia.

Here's some advice for you Johnny Pajamas-go and move to Charlestown with your equally irrelevant girlfriend Stacia-the two of you losers would make the perfect couple. You could even invite the felon gasoline dumper/animal gasser over for sleepovers.

Friday, February 28
John Simoneau

Fake Name COWARD BILLY T .... Meet me and I'll answer all your questions. COWARD

Friday, February 28
Thecaptain

So now we know that Warwick resident 1998 doesnt understand that Mr. Cimini represents the retirees. Also, Warwick resident 1998 hasnt read the RI Supreme court ruling that allowed Cranston and Providence to cut COLA'S. If we only had a council that understood that if they call for a fiscal emergency they can hit the reset button.

Also, Sinapi is a complete arrogant douche. When every person in the council chambers was against the appointment of the 2 municipal judges due to obvious nepotism, he and 5 others ignored the residents. He represents the unions and is Joey's puppet.

Friday, February 28
Cookie

Here is another problem , people working for the city and are now retired. Medical is the issue and we have medicare if they are over 65. Why should the taxpayer continue with this burden when it should be medicare. Another issue is the retirement age... Sorry the age should be 59 1/2 ...

Maybe we need to revamp who we vote for to run this city....

Friday, February 28
John Simoneau

Cookie

It will not happened because all POLITICIANS are COWARDS afraid to take on the unions. They are bought and paid for union hacks. The silent majority of taxpayers, that don't bother to vote or show up at Council meetings, need to get off their ass and get involved. Only then do the rest of us have a chance of changing things. It isn't the Unions fault. Their job is to fight to get as much as possible for their members. It is the POLITICIANS fault for giving in to their demands. Until people wake up and get involved , by using their numbers at the ballot box, nothing will change!

Friday, February 28
We Need A Re-Boot

Y'all realize these comments are an act in futility right? Does anyone think 30 year old Sinapi cares about what the public thinks? Absolutely not. Sinapi, loyal foot soldier for the administration, was given this task to give the illusion the mayors office/city council is doing something about retiree healthcare. These commissions will always be an illusion, an act of deception on the most uninterested, apathetic and indifferent tax payers I've ever seen. And the indifference just keeps getting worse and those in charge know this.

Friday, February 28
Warwick Resident 1998

The Captain,

Just because you want the city to claim a “fiscal emergency” they have to meet the triggers set forth in 45-9-3. Warwick is nowhere near eligible for that to happen.

Cranston had underfunded pension plans and only dealt with freezing COLA’s for 10 years. Warwick is not distressed and all it’s plans (other than Police I) are sufficiently funded. So you comparing freezing of COLA’s to preserve a pension plan that is severely underfunded to making retirees pay for healthcare is like comparing apples and dump trucks.

So just because you really really want something to occur....the facts don’t support your position. Keep on tilting at windmills though. You might be able to sway some low-information people with your flawed arguments but intelligent people who are versed in the topics of discussion realize that you are not credible and are agenda driven.

Friday, February 28
Billy T

Ok Johnny Pajamas-you got your wish. Monday 7:00 p.m. at 40 Sheridan St. Providence. Be there or be square coward.

Friday, February 28
John Simoneau

Need your name to know who to look for, and if you're credibly who you claim to be....COWARD

Friday, February 28
Voter1

I find it hysterical that Cote has the audacity to call ANYONE a "complete arrogant douche". Doesnt he know the entire city has named him the president of the "COMPLETE ARROGANT DOUCHE" club?

Just want to add that i love it when Stacia jumps in using 16 different screen names trying to make it look like people agree with her and her misfit friends.

And as always, its a blast to see how easily Simoneau gets riled up to the point of challenging his opponents to a fight by the flag pole after the bell rings.

Too much fun for one night!

Saturday, February 29
Billy T

The chances of Johnny The COWARD showing up at Sheridan St. on Monday night are about the same chances as him getting elected to the city council. Now get out of your basement COWARD and come upstairs and change your diaper.

Saturday, February 29
John Simoneau

Billy T the COWARD.....

Your shit is getting old. You said the same thing about me showing up at the WFD Ceremony at Crowne Plaza. I was there BUT YOU DIDN'T SHOW COWARD. Time to grow up, get a set, come out from behind the curtain and use your real name.. If you want to see me on Sheridan St, you will have to man up. It is all up to you, but as you did before and always ... you talk shit and hide like the COWARD you are.

Saturday, February 29
Thecaptain

Warwick resident 1998,

You are the one who does not have the correct information and you choose not to because you are a employee beneficiary. Too bad yo weren't at the library when Judge Flanders came and spoke after evaluating Warwick's finances. He said that Warwick has clearly met 2 of the triggers to declare a fiscal emergency. But then again, what would he know?

Saturday, February 29
Patient Man

If you're having max property tax raises every year your city is in trouble. If Warwick doesn't fit the criteria as a distressed community, fine. Let's let the RISC tell us that. Not people on the comments section of the Beacon.

Saturday, February 29
Flim Flam Flanders

What Captain Criminal fails to mention is that number one, Warwick is nowhere close to a fiscal emergency, and number two, the only reason Flim Flam Flanders brought it up is because he's trying to get business for his two bit law firm, as he has all sorts of time on his hands after Sheldon crushed him in the last election. And keep in mind, the morons who were at that meeting bought the malarkey from Flim Flam Flanders hook, line, and sinker. P.T. Barnum would have been impressed with his performance.

Captain Criminal and Flim Flam Flanders-two peas in a pod.

Saturday, February 29
Honestinfo

Robbie Robbie Robbie I love seeing you exposed as the loser you are.

Saturday, February 29
John Simoneau

Keep going TheCaptain ..

Everyone here knows that the only losers on the Beacon blog are the FAKE NAME COWARDS that hide behind their keyboards and slander people because they have no moral value, and live in FEAR of being exposed in their lies.

Saturday, February 29
Warwick Resident 1998

The Captain,

Your pipe dream of receivership and bankruptcy is just that. A pipe dream.

The city consistently posts budget surpluses, has given all of its unions lucrative pay raises, and is even talking about adding an ice rink.

The city is not a distressed community. No matter how many time you incorrectly claim it, or who a guy who makes his living as a receiver who didn’t have accurate fiscal data when he spoke claims it, it doesn’t make it so.

Just like comparing communities that were able to freeze their retirees’s COLA’s because of their underfunded plans to this discussion about altering retiree healthcare is comparing apples to dump trucks you refuse to comprehend it. You’re comparing totally different things.

Before retiree healthcare can be changed by legislation the administration would need to negotiate changes in retiree benefits with active employees. The city won’t be able to go into court after posting surpluses, giving raises, and not altering CBA’s for active employees and try alter retiree healthcare. It’s illegal.

I’m not sure if you’re too stubborn to grasp this concept or are just entirely too dense.

Saturday, February 29
Thecaptain

You're right , I'm dense, have no idea what I'm talking about, make stuff up, cant comprehend, all of the above. The city has a 1/2 BILLION DOLLAR UNFUNDED healthcare liability. The current ARC is 34 million per year. (ARC= ANNUAL REQUIRED CONTRIBUTION) You will note the word REQUIRED. We are not meeting the REQUIRED CONTRIBUTION. We are 23 million short of the REQUIRED CONTRIBUTION. But you are right, I'm a dope. A dope that is not a beneficiary of a broken system that has been scammed by corrupt politicians and union thugs.

Speaking of union thugs, tonight at 5:24PM Engine 1 came by my house blasting the air horn like the little pre-pubescent children that they are, in an attempt to annoy me and my neighbors. That was after responding to a rescue call on Long street where upon arrival, it was determined that they were not needed, so they took a cruise by my house. All caught on video, and confirmed from fire dispatch at 5:47pm, and recorded.

This is typical behavior from dysfunctional people like LITTLE BRANDON INGEGNERI and tough guy TRICKY NICKY VARRAS.

Really funny stuff.

Saturday, February 29
Robert

Let the retirees pay for their own health care like the rest of us. Who’s foolish enough to think doctors and hospitals help your health anyway? Cut off all healthcare funding. Maybe retirees will learn to exercise.

Sunday, March 1
Laughable

Obnoxious Sinapi invokes Rule 19 because of personal attacks. You have to be kidding. Sinapi for years at school committee meetings was disruptive, disrespectful and verbal attacked school committee members.

Talk about a double standard.

Obnoxious Sinapi has to go.

Sunday, March 1
Captain Criminal

Poor Captain Criminal was disturbed by the horn on the fire truck-boo hoo. Get ready for first thing tomorrow morning-he'll be calling the fire chief's office, the mayor's office, the FBI and the CIA to complain about the horn noise. And once they all laugh in his face face and hang up on him, he'll most likely drive down to fire headquarters and yell profanities out his car window like the true coward he is.

Here's an idea for you Captain Criminal-why don't you get Johnny Sweat Pants to be your getaway driver while you harass the firemen and you can make a video of it. Then be sure to send the video to Horse Face Stacia so she can upload it to her irrelevant website.

Maybe it's time for you to follow through on your promise to leave the state Captain Criminal............oh wait, you lied about that, just like you lie about everything else in your life.

What a pathetic loser.

Sunday, March 1
Billy T

Don't forget Johnny Pajamas-tonight at 7:00 p.m.-40 Sheridan St. Providence. Don't forget to wear your diaper COWARD.

Monday, March 2
John Simoneau

Told you, since you were a no show at WFD Ceremony when challenging me and I showed, I wasn't going tonight unless you gave me your name. That's right. You are a COWARD and can't read either.

REAL NAME COWARD ?

Monday, March 2
Billy T

Billy T is the name, and calling out COWARDS like Johnny Pajamas is the game.

Now put on your diaper and your false teeth and get up to 40 Sheridan St. Providence at 7:00 p.m.

Or are you too much of a COWARD?

Monday, March 2
John Simoneau

COWARDS don't use their real names, they use Fake Names like you. Remember , Fool me once at WFD and you don't show. COWARD, SO you won't fool me again because you are the only FOOL here.

Come see me anytime when you grow a set. You know where to find me ! YOU COWARD!

Monday, March 2
Funny Captain

So Captain, youre bothered by firefighters driving by your house and "annoying" you, yet you found it completely acceptable behaviour to show up at a funeral and cause a scene? Its such an issue for you to be "annoyed" yet you have complete disregard for a family mourning a loved one. What a selfish lowlife scumbag you are. I would love to hear they are blasting sirens by your house every day for the rest of your sad pathetic useless life, you PIECE OF ST*T.

Tuesday, March 3