October 27, 2010

"...it appears the city of Providence is bankrupt or close to it and that you are deliberately hiding this fact..."

Monique Chartier

The following letter, dated yesterday, was in my in-box this morning.

I have some questions.

The City Auditor had to file a Freedom of Information request with Mayor Cicilline in order to obtain basic information about the city's finances?? Why wouldn't the mayor just give it to the auditor, seeing that he's ... well, the auditor?

Didn't Mayor Cicilline specifically state during one of the WPRO debates, and possibly elsewhere, that the pensions are funded?

Also, how is it possible to have a reserve fund with a negative balance?

Dear Mayor Cicilline:

I am writing to you today because it appears the city of Providence is bankrupt or close to it and that you are deliberately hiding this fact from the people of Rhode Island. I am concerned that for political reasons your campaign for Congress is causing you to act in such a way as to conceal the budget problems facing the city of Providence, making them worse in the process.

According to City Auditor James Lombardi, you have refused his requests for financial information for the past six months. As a result, he has had to resort to filing requests under the State Access to Public Records Act (APRA). This is an extraordinary set of circumstances because as you know the good functioning of government depends on transparency and accountability. By not making information available when requested, you are acting in a manner that is antithetical to good government.

What little information the Auditor has obtained causes him grave concern. Specifically, he said that $18 million of the regularly scheduled pension payment of $38 million for the last fiscal year was never paid. He also said the city’s reserve contingency funds account – the so-called “rainy day fund” – went from having a balance of $14.4 million on July 1, 2009 (the start of the last fiscal year) to NEGATIVE $187,736 on June 30, 2010 (the end of the last fiscal year).

Based on this alarming information, I am concerned that the city cannot make its way through the current fiscal year without a tax increase, severe budget cuts, or both. I am calling on you to immediately disclose to the taxpayers of Providence and the people of Rhode Island the full extent of the city’s current financial situation by releasing to the Auditor’s Office and the public at large a balance sheet and a cash flow analysis showing the current state of the city’s finances.

It is time for you to set aside concerns about how the city’s deteriorating fiscal condition will affect your campaign for Congress. You need to set aside concerns about your political career and level with the people of Rhode Island.


John Loughlin

State Representative John J. Loughlin II
RI House Minority Whip
Candidate for US Congress, RI -01
PO Box 244
Adamsville, RI 02801

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Would anybody bother or care if it weren't an election year. The disingenuous nature and timing of all this gives it the appearance of politicking, which is what it is.

Lets see what happens after the election. The only people who will make any noise are the ones who want to eliminate the pensions, not the ones trying to get the city to fulfill its obligation to the fund, which it hasn't done since the Cianci administrations

Posted by: michael at October 27, 2010 10:13 AM

Timing? Cicilline hides and obfuscates the truth at whim. Let me ask "michael" this:

How is it possible that all other cities and towns in the country are struggling with deficits, but according to Cicilline, "all's well and good in Providence".

How realistic is David Cicilline's characterization of the state of the city?

Perhaps Lombardi was trying to bring something to light that Cicilline and his minions are trying desperately to hide until after the election.

Perhaps we should take a second look at the report and ask a few hard questions before sending Cicilline to manage a budget much larger than that of the city of providence.

Posted by: Chuck at October 27, 2010 10:46 AM

Poor Angel Taveras, I wonder if he has any clue what kind of a mess he's going to be facing next January.

Posted by: Chris at October 27, 2010 12:31 PM

Yeah,poor Angel-he wanted that pile of sh*t and now he got it.I hope he likes how it's gonna taste.
His buddy Cicilline has left him a backed up cesspool of financial disaster.
All I can say as a Providence resident is I hope Taveras is up to it.

Posted by: joe bernstein at October 27, 2010 1:27 PM

As an active participant in the pension plan, I've watched for twenty years my money squandered at the whim of whoever is in power. Law requires the city to contribute to the pension fund. Lawmakers squeaked laws through that gave an option to defer payments. The pension fund that should be well funded is not.

For twenty years this debacle has gone on. Nobody cares until election time, when they make political hay out of a lot of peoples financial plans.

Cicillini, Laughlin, Cianci, it doesn't matter, its all a game to them. They have been playing it for as long as I've been an employee in Providence.

Posted by: michael at October 27, 2010 2:12 PM

From my experience, auditor Jim Lombardi is one of the very few honest, bright lights at Providence City Hall.

But I've always wondered why the Projo consistently fails to give space to any of his annual budget reports (usually available in June or July of each year). They are always eye-opening and to me required reading. He's been criticizing the pension deficiency (among many other things), and making excellent suggestions for fixing it, for some time (years, that is).

Posted by: Bill at October 27, 2010 2:15 PM

Someone needs to find Ernie Almonte and throw him in jail for dereliction of duty.

Posted by: George at October 27, 2010 5:24 PM

If you know-did Cianci and Paolino also not make the required payments until November or December?

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at October 27, 2010 7:11 PM

I don't really have the time to investigate, but the talk is that the city has not kept up with their end of the pension obligations since Paolino. Now, it appears that Cicillini has taken it to the next level, the money we (9 1/2 %) contribute to the pension system wasn't put in either.

Posted by: michael at October 28, 2010 12:04 PM
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