April 13, 2007

Cranston: Higher Taxes for the Same Education System

Carroll Andrew Morse

Fellow Cranstonian Kiersten Marek of Kmareka offers some poignant commentary on Mayor Michael Napolitano’s proposal to raise taxes in Cranston by 5.25% while giving the school department a 0% increase…

This act has marked you, Mayor Napolitano. In my mind, it has marked you as someone who deliberately does unreasonable things in order to provoke a reaction. You can protest until the cows come home about how much you care about education, but it just doesn’t ring true when your budget does not allocate one single dollar in increases for the actual acts of educating children in our city. You have effectively alienated your core constituency.
Ms. Marek helps identify the common ground shared by many liberal and conservative citizens -- we can agree that raising taxes while not improving essential services is a bad idea.

But of course, pols sometimes have interests that are different from the interests of citizens of any ideological stripe.

I have less faith than Ms. Marek does that the Mayor's budget proposal isn’t a cynical ploy to force the school committee to sue the city for more money, allowing the Mayor to disavow responsibility for any associated tax increase or other financial consequences. Beyond that, the only other thing I have to immediately add to Ms. Marek's prose is a bit of haiku…

The budget disgrace
of Mike Napolitano.
A case for recall.


Commenters “Perry Ellis” and “Oz” let us know that the Cranston City Charter does make all elected city officials subject to recall (section 2.08). The basic rules are…

  1. 20% of registered voters must sign a petition to force a recall election.
  2. Removing an official requires a 2/3 majority of votes cast in the recall election.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

And all along I thought Justin was the poet.

Posted by: Jon at April 13, 2007 11:40 AM

Well, well, well. It sounds like our new Mayor was full of crap when he was running for election. All he kept saying was taxes are too high. Now he's telling us they weren't high enough. That's what you get when you put a moron in office. This jerk still has his website up where he is railing against the taxes being too high.


Also, he doesn't care about the public schools anyway. His kids aren't in the public schools, that's why he isn't giving any more money to the schools.
Can you say one-termer?

Posted by: JoAnn at April 13, 2007 1:52 PM

Okay then. What do we do to recall him?

Posted by: Greg at April 13, 2007 4:26 PM

The CJCR tuition increase for next year is 6%... acceptable for Mike and his kids, but the hell with everyone elses.

I agree this is a ploy to raid the rainy day fund and I wouldn't be surprised if Traf & Company were behind it. In short order, we are back to back-room deals, insane budgets and dishonesty in Cranston City Hall.

If you didn't save last year's tax bill (the one announcing a tax rate CUT), jot down Mayor Laffey's Warning Signs and put them on the fridge:

1. - Not Funding Pensions
2. - Late Audits
3. - Raiding the Rainy Day Fund
4. - Bad Contracts/Free Health Care
5. - Unrealistic Tax Collection Forecasts

1 and 4 have already been violated. 3 is in real danger.

I'm also watching the rating agencies. No doubt they'll lower the bond rating if the rainy day fund is tapped.

That will be my "recall" tipping point.

Posted by: Perry Ellis at April 13, 2007 5:47 PM

Nothing I can find on the National Conference of State Legislatures website indicates that RI has any provision for recall of local officials that apply on a statewide basis. So unless there's something specific in the city charter, I don't think anything can be done until the 2008 election.

On the bright side, state Republican officials may be able to design an effective campaign around the theme of "Mayor Michael Napolitano: What you get when you pull the straight party Democratic lever."

Posted by: Andrew at April 13, 2007 6:31 PM

Gee. Between Napolitano and Mollis, I wonder how high Democrats' buyers' remorse must be. "D" doesn't stand for "saint" — or even "honorable politician" — after all.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 13, 2007 7:44 PM

I've heard it from a very reliable source that the Cranston City Charter contains a mayoral recall provision.

I'll check further and provide details.

Posted by: Perry Ellis at April 13, 2007 8:44 PM

Here's the recall info for Cranston (section 2.08 in the chahtah):


Perry has it right - remember the things Laffey said to watch out for. No-pony-tano is well on his way to violating the whole list.

Time to get the "Don't Blame Me - I Voted For FUNG!" bumper stickers going....

Posted by: oz at April 13, 2007 8:45 PM

I should have given a synopsis with the link...

You need 20% of registered voters to sign a petition to force a recall vote. Since there are about 48,000 registered voters in Cranston, you need about 9600 signatures within 90 days to get the ball rolling.

With all the groups that Nap is alienating (concrete plant neighbors, parents of public school kids, seniors who can't afford a tax increase) 9600 signatures would not be too hard.

Posted by: oz at April 13, 2007 8:54 PM

You know what I say to the citizens of Cranston?

Ahh hahhh hahh haaa! Ahhhhhh hahhh haah haaah!

You got what you deserved.
You want to vote like ignoramus', you get an ignoramus for Mayor.
You got nobody to blame but yourselves!
Quit your whining and pay your damned taxes!

Posted by: JSheehan at April 13, 2007 10:23 PM

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for the post. I feel like I am getting a lesson in Bizarro World politics, where the mild-mannered politician turns out to be unreasonable (Nap) and the brash politician starts to look quite reasonable (Laffey). As I told Fung, Laffey is starting to look better every day. BTW, JSheehan, I know many people of various political stripes who did not vote for Nap -- if 30 or so people had swung the other way Fung would be Mayor. So your blamefulness is perhaps a bit overextended for the tiny margin by which Nap pulled off victory. It's not like everybody was fooled.

Posted by: Kiersten at April 14, 2007 10:09 AM


It sounds as if you may be entering the ideological limbo in which you learn that everything you thought you knew was wrong. (I loitered there for some time, myself.) During the next stage, you'll begin to discern that we self-proclaimed conservatives truly share most of your ideals and ultimate objectives but have been persuaded that, considering that the facts fed us throughout our schooling and mainstream newsgathering were political pabulum, those "conservative" strategies that we previously thought to be the deceptive ruses of evil are actually more effective (not to mention moral).

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 15, 2007 8:02 PM

Lest you forget, the majority of Cranston voters voted for this moron Napolitano; that is why he is mayor. Therefore, the majority of Cranston voters are ignoramus'. Funny how you often get what you deserve in life. Maybe the voters won't be so stupid in the future.

Posted by: JSheehan at April 15, 2007 10:45 PM

I've been trying to figure out what unique angle I could add to this. Not sure I have one, but here goes.

First, good government is not a "liberal" or "conservative" issue. The problem is that a one-party system is inherently corrupt. The party in power happens to be the Dems, but if the Reps had the same sort of majority status, the result would be the same. Sorry, that's just human nature.

Second, shock you as it may, I voted for Fung. I realize that and oligarchy is a problem, and that Cranston needs new ideas, and people from outside the clique.

Third, O'Leary and Nap are the only two Dem mayors Cranston has had since, what, the early 80s? Was there anyone between DiPrete and Traf? Not exactly stellar lights the Reps can be proud of, is it.

Fourth, JSheehan, your remarks are the equivalent of a kid saying "nyah-nyah-nyah. Not exactly constructive.

Finally, Justin, see point #1. This isn't about liberals or conservatives. Stop trying to score debating points from someone's honest expression of a valid insight. As I've said, I come here because a viable Rep party is the best thing that oould happen to RI Democrats--and to RI. The problem is the single-party stalemate.

Posted by: klaus at April 16, 2007 7:09 PM


It isn't relevant to my opinion whether or not you are correct that conservatives and liberals will respond the same to power. (I'm skeptical about the proposition, although I would have agreed if you'd used the party names instead of the ideological brands.) There can be no doubt that — especially in this state — voters' kneejerk liberalism plays a role in the Democrats' ability to maintain their stranglehold on the state (consider, for one, straight ticket voting). I've little doubt, for example, that Laffey's relative conservatism was a factor in Kiersten's vision of him as "brash" — directly or indirectly.

I'm not issuing debating points. I was merely expressing my own insight (gained through personal experience) that there are myriad policy prescriptions, founded in sound principles, that many people think could only be true in a Bizarro World because they've been conditioned to have an emotional aversion to (in a word) conservatism.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 16, 2007 7:40 PM


My aversion to conservatism is deep and based on a serious dislike for policies that seek to give more power and influence and economic status to those who already have power and influence and economic status.

We've been over this. Your way of thinking ruled the planet for most of the past 5,000 years. The result was a concentration of power in the hands of the few. This stranglehold was broken only in the middle part of the 20th Century, and, in the US, it required the horrific pain of a Depression to finally make people see what conservatism was all about.

Conservatives fought unionization; a decent wage; and end to child labor; the FDA that would make sure that medicine was beneficial, and not poison; the 40-hour week; pollution control; paid holidays; civil rights, and--well, you get the point.

And some of your colleagues have said that no one is advocating this stuff. If not, that's thanks to liberals who pushed it all through in the teeth of vigorous opposition from the moneyed class. To this day, conservatives revile FDR and won't rest until all vestiges of the New Deal are eliminated, and we bring back the Gilded Age with a vengeance.

For, like the Bourbons in 1815, conservatives have learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.

In the past 30 years, thanks to supply-side hokum, we have have re-created the income distribution of the 1920s. The gap started growing in the early 80s, and continues to grow, and conservatives call this a good thing.

So, based on that track record, I don't see conservatism as offering much of any benefit to me, or to 90% of Americans. If you think the oligarchy of plutocrats is looking out for your best interest, man, have they fooled you. Why do you think you have to work all those hours to make ends meet? Because the money is sticking to the top 1% of the economic pyramid.

I thought you guys were the steely-eyed realists who saw humans for the brutes that they are. Give people power and they will seek more. Man, go read Thucydides; he's a darling of the conservative set, and has been for the last 3,000 years. He doesn't have much good to say about the rabble ruling Athens at the time.

...The strong do what they can; the weak suffer what they must...

Is that the sort of world you want to live in? I'll pass, thank you.

Because remember: it ain't just money. It's power.

Posted by: klaus at April 17, 2007 10:09 PM

We have been over this, Klaus, which is why I wasn't addressing you and your aversion to conservatism. My comments were directed toward people who might not be so convinced that the fact that in a modern political context (with the current application of fluid labels) I identify myself as a conservative means that I share a "way of thinking" with historical movements against which I've argued specifically — and all of which very conveniently fall into your "Evil" category (i.e., "conservatism).

Who's being fooled (or rather, fooling himself)?

Plainly put, you're proving my point. If "conservatives" — which currently means people who think our rush toward progress is trampling principles the absence of which will undermine our progress in the future — must carry the baggage of barbarians who died 5,000 years ago, you're leaving a whole lot of room for liberals to play corrupt games before they become equivalent to your bogeymen (at which point, not doubt, you will relabel them as conservatives).

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 17, 2007 11:12 PM

Justin, what do you base your opinions on? Anything? Adam Smith's theory?

In all the times I've read your stuff, I'm not sure if I've ever seen you cite a single fact. (A bit of hyperbole.) I have come to the conclusions I have after years of study. I continue to read, both sides of the coin, and constantly re-assess my positions in light of new facts when they come up. I was agnostic on global warming until the evidence piled up.

But I've seen business and the moneyed interests constantly, consistently, and vehemently fight anything that threatened their profits. I mean, it's not a law of nature, but it's getting close.

I keep coming back to: We tried it your way. For several thousand years. It didn't work. Has human nature changed?

You say you aren't prepared to accept that conservatives will be just as corrupt as the liberals: have you heard of Duke Cunningham? Jack Abramoff? The K-Street Project? The Reps were running (or trying to) run the country like Boss Tweed in Tammany Hall. Pay to play. Pony up the $$$ if you want access. And they were systematically trying to cut the Dems off from any funding. And these are your conservative stalwarts.

Newt Gingrich, who left one wife while she was in the hospital. Who was having an affair while leading the charge against Bill Clinton. Tom DeLay trying to run Texas while he was in Wash. I mean, which of these people do you admire?

Money is power, and power corrupts. Again, it's not a law of nature, but it's awfully close. Lord Acton uttered his quote over 100 years ago.

Again: we tried it your way. It didn't work. The laws, and regulations, and safeguards were put in place for reasons, to correct real crimes. Do you remember how business fought pollution control? Why? They were willing to poison the air and the water to maintain their profits. And these are the people you admire?

Posted by: klaus at April 18, 2007 7:49 PM


You say you've read my stuff (although I'm curious whether that admission is what you mean by "hyperbole"), so let me ask: What is "my way"? What principles drive me? I don't think you know.

I'm not so important that your not knowing is at all significant, except inasmuch as you persist in addressing me not as a fellow citizen attempting to work through problems honestly and with an eye toward the greatest benefit to all, but as some sort of nemesis, who must be either ignorant or evil to reach my conclusions. I don't think you've ever tried to discern what may or may not be valid in my or anybody else's conflicting suggestions and to offer argumentation as to where we went (quite understandably) awry.

You consistently ignore the meat of others' offerings in these comment sections, focusing instead on the ways in which the incidentals prove us no better than ancient barbarians. And frankly, I don't see why that behavior ought to inspire investigation of your ideas, no matter how much study and fairness you proclaim to exist behind them.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 18, 2007 10:01 PM


Let me begin by apologizing. I am bombastic. Unfortunately, this format has a tendancy to amplify, rather than minimize that aspect of my personality. None of this is personal, directed at you as an individual.

However, you have to realize that I have worked through most of the problems you're still grappling with. My opinions are the result of, literally, years of research. As such, they are deeply held because of the care with which I have constructed them, piece by piece.

My intent is to jolt you from the easy conclusions. Ideology is a short-cut for lazy people. It provides ready-to-wear stands that have the gloss, but not the substance, of logical persuasiveness. Don't fall into that trap. I don't always agree with leftist orthodoxy, especially on foreign affairs, but I'm definitely to the left on economic issues.

As such, I recognize that class warfare is very real, and that it's waged most relentlessly by the moneyed interests against the average person. If you cut taxes and reduce the size of gov't, who can stand up to a corporation like ExxonMobil? No one, except maybe Bill Gates. And history has shown, time and time and time again that unchecked power will lead to its abuse. The RI legislature is a case in point. As such, any one who stands with the class warriors of the moneyed interests is my enemy (that's a bit dramatic, but allow me some poetic license.)

Check out this website.


(Sorry, don't do the hyperlink thing) and check out the picture entitled "Christmas Dinner, 1936." That image puts the lie to a lot of what the moneyed interests claim when they say they're concerned with "ordinary people." This is what moneyed interests allowed to happen to hardworking people in the Depression. This was a farm family, and orthodox economists-- Schrumpeter and the Austrian School-- said that it was wrong to help people like this. And that, IMHO, is just wrong. And, if they did it once, what's to stop them from doing it again?

OK, hope that helps. And the picture thing borders on maudlin, but only until you put yourself those kids' shoes.

Posted by: klaus at April 19, 2007 8:21 PM

The following email was sent Ms. Bucci, my city council representative. To date, I have not even received the courtesy of a reply!

I agree with everyone's comments about the present political structure of the city...but we get what we deserve!

Any comments regarding "bull dozing" the soon to be vacant police station and building a strip mall! Or how about demolishing Mulligans and building a big box mall.

I am so fed up with these people who call themselves politicians....they insult my intelligence and apparently a lot of other's too!

From: McCutcheon, Donald
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2007 2:17 PM
To: 'MARbc4@aol.com'
Subject: City of Cranston / Where Are We Headed
Importance: High

Dear Miss Bucci:

I would like to take a minute of your time to express not only my personal feelings regarding the direction of our city, but also those of my fellow neighbors, youth coaches, and church parishioner’s.

There seems no matter who holds the mayor’s chair, no matter what political party is in power, it’s always the other guys fault! I’ve been a life long residence of the city; born, raised and educated in Cranston. As I near retirement, I’m fearful of the fact I will not be able to afford to live in the home I built in Western Cranston in 1986!

Someone must draw a line in the sand and bring this outrageous tax and spend mentality to a halt! Every administration promises this and that, and as soon as elected we get the news how bad the city financial situation is when “all of sudden” revenues are short, this prediction is not following good accounting practices, and on and on it goes! As an example, my scheduled trash pick-up day in Western Cranston is Friday, including yard waste! I can’t begin to tell you how often all my neighbors place their yard waste curbside only to not have it picked up, not the next day, but the next week! Why do I raise this issue? I would like to know, based on the taxes we all pay, who is monitoring this vendors performance? This type of performance should not be tolerated, but begs the question how many other situations exist similar to the aforementioned?

Personally, I am of the opinion it does not require anyone with a Harvard MBA to assess the problem(s) plaguing not only Cranston, but many other communities as well. It has been well documented in all phases of the media…..the unfunded pension liability for city employees. It is with great concern that I would like to know how the current council and mayor plan to solve this great mystery. May I suggest we take a page out of the late President Regan’s handbook (the firing of air traffic controller’s for violating a no strike law). Very simple…..we know what our tax base is…..we know what we require to provide a quality education for our youth, what it takes to deliver police and fire protection. We should be able to calculate how many positions we have and what the taxpayers of the City of Cranston can afford to pay! Not the other way around…..simply put, we have a lot of teacher positions at $50,000 with a health care contribution/pension plan comparable to corporate America, but the city does not have any positions paying $65,000 with every tax free benefit a union can negotiate! Whether it be teacher’s, police, or fire personnel (or other city employee’s) we need to determine what the city and taxpayer’s can afford to pay…..not what the employee demands! In corporate America, if we are not satisfied with our compensation and or benefits, we seek employment elsewhere versus an attempt to shut down an employer’s business entity.

Further, and of more importance, where do you stand on these issues and how do you propose to begin to address them for the benefit of all! I look forward to your response.


Donald R. McCutcheon

Posted by: D at May 24, 2007 11:07 AM

Don, are you suprised you haven't rec'd an answer. She usually doesn't show up for meetings and god forbid there's an important vote.... She's becomes the invisible lady.

Posted by: Tom Cloonen at June 21, 2007 5:13 PM
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