January 4, 2012

The Dogs That Didn't Bite in Pension Reform

Justin Katz

Two aspects of this Monday editorial in the Providence Journal, lauding Central Falls Superintendent Fran Gallo for progress in her school district are interesting.

For one, multiple Projo columnists have compared Democrat General Treasurer Gina Raimondo favorable with Republican reformers in other states, like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasick, on the grounds that union intransigence illustrates that the Republicans' method of reform wasn't sufficiently collaborative. Yet, here we have Gallo receiving the full union-thug treatment (short of physical violence, which even the thugs must have seen to be a losing proposition against a diminutive older woman), and the editors hailing the "cooperative efforts."

More pointedly, the editors detail some union-friendly legislators' efforts to bully Gallo in order "to disrupt public-spirited efforts to improve Central Falls High School." The essay also mention's last year's conspicuously high absenteeism among teachers. It ought also to have mentioned the aggressive campaign of threatening nastiness that Gallo experienced when things were at their roughest.

What's interesting about that is how it compares with the relatively light touch of the unions and their members during the supposedly radical pension reform. Sure, they held a fun evening rally one warm evening. Sure, some paid union leaders made some silly statements and issued threats of electoral defeat. But where was the real heat?

Reform was necessary for both Central Falls schools and for the state pension system. In both cases that was and is impossible to deny. In both cases, union deals had to be pushed back. Yet, there's a marked difference in the tone of the response, with the smaller of the two skirmishes sparking a higher degree of venom. What could account for that?

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"What could account for that?"
Might it be because the writers for the Journal are in a union???

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at January 4, 2012 10:56 AM

Posted by Mike Cappelli
"What could account for that?"
Might it be because the writers for the Journal are in a union???

More likely it is the disheartening fact that most voters don't care, or don't understand. Of course, the concept is not difficult. If they don't understand, it is because they don't care.

I have always wished we could produce a candidate who could express this malaise forcefully, and analogize to moral equivalents which would mobilize the voters.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at January 4, 2012 11:01 PM

What could account for that? They could do what they do in CF and get away with it. Spotlight at the state level? More bark than bite..the hottest it got was the charge that the state treasurer cooked the books.

Thinking "outloud" here, what was the timing of Flanders going into CF? That has quieted Parisi just a tiny bit, for now anyway or until the court decision is rendered.

Posted by: Lee at January 5, 2012 10:36 PM


But it's a small state. The controversy in Central Falls schools was statewide (even national) news. It wasn't even close to under-the-radar.

Posted by: Justin Katz at January 5, 2012 10:40 PM
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