To me, this is pretty simple.  There is this mentality in the RI public sector unions that you can retire after 20 years.  Ok, sure, I have no problem with that.  But how did they get that mentality?  It is because that is when their pension is fully vested.  Rather than seeing it as a “vesting date” they see it as a “retirement date”.  I don’t understand that.  Why do we start making payments to people who are retired after their 20 years and still pretty young and healthy?  I’m fine with paying the pension to disabled retirees.  That’s a different conversation.  I’m talking about the people who retire from their job, go on to live a healthy life, or as in some cases, take another job that offers another pension.

Many teachers are able to enter the classroom at 23.  Some police and fire and other municipal employees can start work at 20-25 years old.  So with this current system, they can put in their 20 years and be fully vested at 40-45 years old.  Then what’s the mentality?  Time to retire!  Time to start collecting that pension!  So with most healthy people living well into their 70s or 80s, we’re paying people to be retired for as much as 40 years after they contributed to the system for 20 years.  That math just doesn’t work.

So my change is that people can still retire any time they want, but they cannot start collecting their state or municipal pension until at least 62 years old.  Go do whatever you want in the meantime.  Keep working, take a new job or hang out eating Cheetos and watching Court TV all day for all I care, but we can’t afford to pay people for those extra 15-20 years that they could still be productive members of society.  Let’s dry up that well now.  This one change will save the state billions.

Debt Ceiling


The Associated Press cites: “At least one credit rating agency has already made it clear that unless that agreement includes at least $4 trillion in budget cuts over the next decade, the country’s AAA rating could be lost. Right now, the proposals under discussion cut around $2 trillion or less.”

One problem with these numbers is the scale. They’re so big, we don’t really understand them all, so let’s cut them to a scale we understand:

The federal budget is a little more than $7 trillion a year. The ratings agencies want $4 trillion cut over 10 years, or about $400 billion a year. Let’s just strip off some zeros.

Let’s say you earn, tax-free, $70,000 a year. That’s $5,833 a month. The cut from there needs to be $4,000 a year, or about $333 a month. Will cutting $333 from a $5,833 (still have $5500 a month available) budget be that big a whack? One wouldn’t think so.

Instead, what Obama and the Senate is offering is to cut that $5833 a month by about $167 a month AND to raise taxes.

So who’s being obstructionist now?

Here is the letter to the editor that I submitted to the Valley Breeze and should get published next week:

In a recent Valley Breeze letter to the editor, Congressman David Cicilline makes a great many allegations, all against “the Republican budget”.  Maybe the Congressman forgets something though.  The Democrats are still in control.  The Democrats are the ones controlling the Senate and the final signature on any budget, the Democrats control the White House.

So what is the purpose of Cicilline’s letter?  More scare tactics.  I remember the same tactics during the campaign last year.  All these very sweet grandmotherly looking women talking about how they fear for their Social Security and how “David” will protect it for them.  Cicilline was claiming that the Republicans were looking to privatize and take away current Social Security benefits.  That turned out to be a lie too.  Cicilline has never voted against privatizing the Social Security benefits of retirees because it has never come up!  Another Cicilline lie.

In his letter in the Breeze, I took pause at one phrase that he used, “It’s unfortunate that we are on the brink of breaking the promise…”.  If you’ve been following any of the financial news out of Providence, you know that the city and the rest of the state are on the brink of breaking lots of promises.  Cicilline himself promised us that he left the capital city in solid financial shape.  Another lie.  That all the accounts were fully funded.  Another lie.  That we could afford to pay the police and fire contracts that he recently signed with the unions.  Another lie.

It’s one lie after another with Cicilline.  Based on his history, should we believe everything he says in letters to the Breeze?  Should we believe everything he says in his campaign?  I don’t know why we would, or worse, why should we send him back to Washington?

In the first 48 hours since Osama bin Laden was exterminated, the details on the story have been changed multiple times.  Why?  What this really looks like is they’re trying to hide something.  They killed other people in the house.  They killed OBL’s son and a woman.  They killed OBL’s wife.  No they didn’t, they just wounded her when she charged at the SEALs.  OBL used a woman as a human shield.  No, it was his wife.  No, he didn’t use a woman as a shield.  He shot at the SEALs.  He was unarmed.

So which is it?  We also saw reports that Obama and many in his staff, including VP Biden and SoS Clinton watched the raid in real time.  So they know exactly what happened.  Why is the White House putting out conflicting information?  Why not just explain it all exactly as it happened?  Even better, release the video.  Let the media see what happened.  Then there can be no confusion, no cover up, and even better, there’s your proof that OBL is dead without having to release and gruesome photos that newspapers will splash across their front pages.

C’mon Mr. President.  People approve of what you did.  Now just tell them what was done and make it the truth.  Otherwise, it’s no wonder why people can’t trust the government.

Seriously?  Teenagers have no idea who Osama Bin Laden is, according to Yahoo Search Blog.

This is a major failure on the part of parents and school systems/teachers.  Are we really that deep into the touchy/feely and PC world where we don’t want to upset anybody or make them feel bad?  I’m not saying that we should be showing execution videos to kindergartners, but any teenager should be completely aware of the happenings of September 11, 2001.

I have an idea, most junior and high school grades have a history class.  School starts in September.  Why not start off the year, up to September 11 of that year, going over the events of what happened and each year, the students can get into it deeper, the whys, the political reasons and then even go further into the history of bin Laden, the war with the Russians, the creation of al Qaeda, the multiple bombings.  Everything that he and his group did.  Every American needs to understand and be taught these things, because

Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it

-George Santayana

We must do everything we can to prevent another attack like September 11, but if we’re not teaching the next generations about it, it will be gone.

Who is Osama bin Laden?  Are you kidding me…

I frequently read articles that make me think, I should blog about that, but then I get distracted by some new shiny object, like a set of keys.  However today’s ProJo article about the dealings of Donald Ianazzi and Senator Dominic Ruggerio (who’s been mentioned before in this blog) are exactly what’s wrong with Rhode Island.

Ianazzi is the head of the local union 1033 who just renegotiated their contract with Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and took on some cuts.  The true depth of the cuts can be debated, but the fact is they did give back something due to them, even if it is temporary.  Does this mean they also get to cut their union dues?  I wonder because while some of them struggle to make ends meet, the man who negotiated those cuts, Ianazzi earned over $265,000 for himself last year.  Sounds like a pretty good deal.

But if that name sounds familiar for different reasons, it should.  His son recently took a job under Senate Majority Leader Dominic Ruggerio, himself “the administrator of another arm of the Laborers’ International union” for more than $88,000 a year.

If that’s not enough, Ruggerio has a son who needed a job as well.  He is employed as a lawyer by who else?  Iannazzi’s local 1033.

So let’s get this straight.  Ruggerio is an administrator of an RI union and he gave an $88,000 a year job to the son of 1033’s head.  Iannazzi, head of local 1033 gave a job to the son of Dominic Ruggerio.  You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

So the taxpayer’s get whacked for $88,000 for this little scheme, and the union members and their dues go to the $265,000 a year salary and a RI Senator’s son.

Nice work if you can get it.

Mass Exodus?


Yesterday Ted Nesi had a blog post about businesses leaving Massachusetts for Rhode Island.  Is this indicative of a changing-for-the-better business climate in Rhode Island?  Conservatives often gnash their teeth about how anti-business RI is and lament that even Massachusetts is better.  One piece of evidence?  Look at the border towns like Seekonk and Attleboro.  Both have a great many strip malls and big box chain stores.  Why?  Because the sales tax in MA was lower than in RI for the longest time, and most Rhode Islanders live within 20 minutes of a border, so why not just jump right over into MA to save a few bucks?

But what is the Nesi article really saying?  He talks about Boston’s WBZ’s Jon Keller tearing into the Mass pols for not fixing their business structure to keep and attract business in MA.  He’s referring to Fidelity leaving and upping their stake in RI as well as the recent move of 38 Studios to Rhode Island.

It all sounds great on the surface, especially if all you hear is Keller’s comments.  But what he doesn’t really go into that Nesi explains is why these businesses find RI more attractive.


Seriously.  No, it’s not the old Rhode Island gangster stuff where politicians are paid off to let a business into the state or improve their business in some way.  Though that does still happen, right North Providence?

The bribe actually works the other way around.  It’s the politicians bribing the business.  How?  It’s because our corporate tax structure is so unfriendly and so confounded that the businesses actually have to meet with our General Assembly leaders and negotiate a better tax deal or financing deal for themselves.

Why does it have to be like this?  Why can’t we just simplify our business tax structure in a way that is transparent and fair so a business owner in Mass or Connecticut or even in California could go online, look it all up, compare it to what they have in their current state and use that information to make a decision on whether to relocate to Rhode Island?  Today if they simply do that, it won’t look so good, and could end at the research stage.  Why all the hoops to jump through?  Why all the politicking?

Just clean it up, make it fair, make it transparent and work to attract all businesses, no meetings required.

What does  Rhode Island General Law (RIGL) 28-14-3.1 say?

whenever any employer provides for a payroll deduction for any purpose, the employer shall transfer those funds deducted to the appropriate person, agency, partnership, or corporation entitled to the money deducted

So what does that lawyer-speak actually say?  It basically says that all union dues must be automatically deducted from its members paychecks and sent to the union.

That’s an interesting law, wouldn’t you say?  Not only is Rhode Island a “closed shop” and not a “right to work” state, but when you take a job and become a part of the union, your dues are withdrawn from your paycheck before you even see your money.  You have no choice.

So there must be some benefit, some advantage to being in the union.  Of course there is!  And more!

All of that sounds so awesome.  So beneficial.  So if it is so great, why don’t I have the option to 1) not be a member and 2) pay my own dues?

I’m a member of some professional organizations and some clubs.  Let’s take the YMCA for example.  They don’t require payroll deduction.  They do offer a voluntary bank withdrawal, but I choose to sign up for that and can end it at any time.  I can also mail a check each month or even walk in to my Y branch and pay them in cash each month.  I value their service and the benefits that I receive by being a member and paying my dues there each month.  If I don’t pay my dues, I’ll no longer be eligible for the benefits I receive.  So I continue to pay it.

Why isn’t it the same for unions?  If they’re so great and so beneficial to people, then why is their money taken before they even have access to it.  Let’s drop this law and let the union members pay their dues themselves.  Or at least make the payroll deduction optional.   Why force it?

Unless the union leadership is afraid that its members don’t really value their services and fear the withholding of dues by its members!  *gasp*

Is there anything more self-serving and embarrassing than Alisha Pina’s article today about her frustration in trying to get answers from David Cicilline. Providence is royally screwed up financially, in spite of then-Congressional candidate Cicilline telling us that the city had a balanced budget and all funds were fully stocked and the city was meeting its financial obligations. Now we see that wasn’t quite true.

Where was the ProJo for the last 4-5 years to sort through the finances of the city? Why weren’t they right in there and checking the facts and confirming the assertions?

What makes this worse is that at election time, a city auditor was telling us all this information. Did the ProJo follow up on the claims then and hold Cicilline’s feet to the fire? No. Instead they endorsed him in his campaign for Congress.

So now, should they be surprised when they get stuttering and stonewalling from the Congressman’s press secretary?

Isn’t this the responsiblity of the Fourth Estate? Be skeptical, don’t trust, get facts. The ProJo definitely shirked its responsibility to its readers. They were told two very different stories back in October. One by a slick-talking known politician who always smiled and had time for the reporters. And then some auditor that seemingly had an ax to grind. They simply took Cicilline’s word for it, didn’t dig any deeper and slapped their endorsement on his campaign.

Now they want to dig in? Too little, too late, ProJo.

I don’t know why I continue to read stories about union protests in this state anymore.  They’re simply rhetoric and hate and a total lack of education of a problem.  Ironic though that the problem is a lack of education when it comes to those in the teaching profession.  Let’s take a look at some of the quotes from yesterday’s teacher rally in Providence, and ask each one the same question, “What would you do to fix the problem?”

Let’s start with Randi Weingarten, the head of AFT:

“Something is insane in Providence,” Weingarten said, standing on the steps of City Hall. “On a week where teachers and students were taking a well-deserved break, a secret plan was being hatched in Providence. They thought no one would be there to hear it.”

Right.  I’m sure that Angel Taveras had this planned out all along.  He waited until one of those weeks off that teachers get during the year to inform them of his diabolical plan.   Why did he do this so early in the year?  Why in February?  It’s state law.  It’s a state law that the unions asked for, so their people would have about six months to potentially look for a new job.  You asked for it!

Fire everyone — that was their plan.

This is one of the main things that bother me about unions.  They stand up there at their rallies and spread lies.  Taveras has said time and time again, that not everyone will be fired and not a single person has been fired yet.  Everyone was simply given a notice that they could be fired at a later date.  However the vast majority will be back on the job later.

Oh yeah and Randi?  What solution do you have to helping plug the $70M deficit that David Cicilline left the city in?  Nothing?  Ok, thanks.

“This is dismantling the progress that the work force has made in the past 100 years,” said Trish McGovern, a Cranston teacher.

ASTROTURF!! The progressives and the left often loved to scream about astroturfing going on during the last election cycle.  They’re not real protesters, they’s say.  A protester with no skin in the game?  Astroturfer!

“It’s about the rights of the normal working person,” said William Louis, a union member from Groton, Conn. “We bailed out the banks and the CEOs. Let’s go after their bonuses.”

Groton, CT?  Another Astroturfer.  Is anyone at this protest from Providence?  That aside, the guy has a point.  Billions were paid out to save the banks, but the intent there was to protect the little homeowner, especially the ones on the bubble of losing their home.  However in their infinite wisdom, Congress handed out those billions with very few strings attached.  Don’t want to actually put that money back to work?  Ok, no problem, Congress said, just vote for me again.  If you don’t like those TARP votes from Congress, then vote those people out of office.  Yet Reed, Whitehouse and Langevin have persisted.  As for the issue at hand, that’s a federal issue, here we’re talking about city (not even state!) issue.  Apples and oranges.  Isn’t it ironic that in the list above, of our Washington delegation, I left out the fourth, Cicilline, who actually created this whole mess?

“What did we do wrong?” said another.

The one that actually does have a point.  What’d the individual teachers do wrong to get fired?  Actually, nothing.  But that’s the way things work in any business.  When revenues are down or you’re running a deficit, cuts have to be made.   People have been getting laid off from their jobs for the last 2-3 years.  What’d they do wrong?  Nothing.  I know it’s not good, but that’s where we are.

However, where were the signs with solutions?  How would you fix a $70M deficit?  Other than the non-sequitur offer to go after Wall Street, there were none.

Weingarten’s tone was harsh: “Mass firings don’t fix the budget. They say, ‘This is a city that doesn’t care about schools.’  ”

Ugh.  Straight up union thuggery.

“You agreed to a labor-management collaborative,” George Nee, president of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, told the crowd. “You agreed to Race to the Top. And it got you fired. Mr. Mayor, support collective bargaining. Let’s not go down the road with Wisconsin.”

Huh?  What does Race to the Top have to do with this?  Why are these people allowed to spread these kind of lies.  “The Red Sox didn’t make the playoffs last year and it got the teachers fired!”  “It was cloudy Saturday and it got the teachers fired!” “A butterfly flapped its wings in China and it got the teachers fired!”  Each one is just as correct as George’s statement.  The reason that notices were sent out, not teachers actually fired, was because David Cicilline left the city with a $70M budget hole that needs to be closed.  It won’t be done completely on the backs of teachers, but when the school department is running a major deficit, cuts will need to be made.  And George, what does this have to do with collective bargaining?  It seems that Taveras is following the contract perfectly.  That’s what collective bargaining is about, right?  Or does it only work when it’s on your side?  The difference between Providence and Wisconsin is night and day.  But I guess we won’t let the truth get in the way of a good George Nee rant.

Why does anyone listen to these people at all?