January 20, 2009

Local Governments Must Lead

Justin Katz

With reference to his native Warwick, Bob Cushman makes a call applicable to all of Rhode Island's cities and towns in varying degrees:

Those who wail and gnash their teeth in response to the governor's proposals are more interested in playing the blame game than recognizing the reality of the situation and making the tough choices necessary to get our economy back on track. The change we need to protect the rights of taxpayers will not be easy. But it cannot even begin until our leaders recognize their complicity in this crisis and get serious about fixing things.

The simple fact is that Warwick taxpayers cannot afford another year of tax increases in this economic environment. To do so may very well force people into the streets. Delinquent property tax collections are already increasing. Tax revenues are down everywhere because people don’t have the money to spend.

It will take political leaders with the courage to confront these challenges with honesty, diligence, and a sense of shared purpose. But the first step is to stop pointing the finger of blame elsewhere. You were elected to lead. So lead. Have the courage to adopt the position of creating a more efficient government by cutting spending and pledging "no new tax increases in 2009" so all Warwick citizens can survive this economic downturn and share in the wealth of the recovery when prosperity returns.

Anchor Rising readers have likely furrowed their brows at suggestions that the governor is merely shifting the tax burden toward property taxes — forcing local governments to raise them. A whole lot of people in this state don't want the notion that government spending can be cut to enter the public discourse. Yes, even at the town level.

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What we really need is for the wailers and gnashers to start infighting. We need the Poverty Institute to look at the local aid to schools and ask why teachers can earn upwards of $60 per hour plus great benefits while there are people starving in RI and children are homeless. We need the NEA to be asking why the state is offering free housing and babysitting to people while freezing teachers' salaries.

Once these people start looking at what everyone else is getting and asking "Why?", then we know we're on to something, instead of them simply asking the state to raise taxes and pay more. Someone's got to be smart enough to start the tiff between these various groups.

Posted by: pitcher at January 20, 2009 2:40 PM


It's already happening in California (follow the link), and their poverty industry is the one being shoved aside.

In the end money talks, and so do votes. The public sector unions launder dues money into political donations, and organize campaign "volunteers."

Meanwhile the constituency of the poverty industry does not recycle welfare checks into campaign contributions, and while they don't organize campaign volunteers, those of their "clients" that actually vote reflexively vote Democrat anyway, so can be taken for granted.

Follow the money, not the public pronouncements about concern for the poor.

Posted by: Tom W at January 20, 2009 2:52 PM


Why don't you bother to point out that Bob Cushman is a DEMOCRAT and he's criticizing the REPUBLICAN AVEDISIAN.

When are you folks going to wake up and start supporting the Blue Dogs?

Posted by: Rasputin at January 20, 2009 3:48 PM


Who says we don't? I happen to be one that believes that the party labels have become so debased, due to lack of standards, to be barely worth using.

Avedesian is a RINO, and I'm not even sure he would dispute that characterization.

PS I think you all would have enjoyed this evening's East Providence City Council meeting. It was certainly interesting, if not lengthy. We're in far deeper fiscal trouble than I thought. I mean, bad. It should make the state news cycle by Thursday.

Posted by: Will at January 21, 2009 2:02 AM


Cushman lost his city council race because the unions came out in full force to campaign against him--with Avedisian's full blessing.

He never got any help from Republicans. I guess guys like Gio and you must have been busy partying or something!

Posted by: Rasputin at January 21, 2009 10:07 AM

Umm, it's not the Republican Party's job to help elect Democrats, no matter how conservative they are.

Now maybe there are some Democrats that realize that they will be able to get a certain number of Republican votes to help them. For example, Caprio's reaching out to AR is just such an indication. My guess is that Cushman might be able to do the same thing.

Posted by: Anthony at January 21, 2009 11:40 AM


My point is that you need Bob Cushman types more than they need you. I think it's in our best interests to reach out to the DINO's, Blue Dogs, or whatever you want to call them in order to help us.

That is, I would remind you, precisely what the Democrats have done with people like Fung, Avedisian, and to a lesser extent Algiere ect..

If we ever get any semblance of organization, which would require getting rid of that clown Gio, I think we ought to embrace Blue Dogs.

I only tease Will and his ilk because they seem to be more interested in the comradery aspect of the GOP than the actual agenda

Posted by: Rasputin at January 21, 2009 4:26 PM


I have an ilk? I apparently didn't get that memo.

I would have supported Cushman, had I lived in Warwick. I'm a lot more aware of the intricacies of Warwick politics than you give me credit for. I followed the Blue Cross issue closely, as it has implications for other towns. I should also mention, that I don't believe in public sector unions.

The RIGOP was not in a position to offer more than token support most of its Republican candidates, so I think Gio can be given a pass regarding a real or perceived lack of support to certain Democrats, even if they are "good" ones.

You obviously don't know much about me or my politics to make such statements, because I am very agenda driven. I'm for making the Republican Party, a primarily conservative party. I'd support regular party purges, if the RIGOP bylaws allowed it (and no, I will not be running on that as a platform). However, that doesn't mean that we can't have fun occasionally. There is a social aspect to the RIGOP which at least makes remaining a part of it tolerable, considering our lousy record of backing good candidates. Obviously, we should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

That being said, I can see the point of occasionally and very selectively supporting a stealth Democrat/DINO, where there is not a Republican alternative, for the defined purpose of getting rid of a worse Democrat. It worked in West Warwick and in a few other towns.

PS I think Gio would get a laugh at me and him being lumped together, considering that I openly backed his opponent in the last election and "bad mouthed" him on the blogs (we've since made up). That being said, it really doesn't matter who the chair is, if the organization isn't functioning. Our main goal has to be to create a real, viable organization geared towards long term success. We have a lot of work ahead.

Posted by: Will at January 21, 2009 5:31 PM


I honestly wish you the best of luck in your task of making the GOP a solid, effective party. I remain convinced that the current party leadership needs to be replaced.

I know that there are many effective, conservative Republicans out there, but for every Laffey there is a Fung and an Avedisian.

For every guy like you, there is a guy like Gio.

Until that ceases to be the case, there is no conservative party.

Posted by: Rasputin at January 21, 2009 10:33 PM

What does it matter what party a politician belongs to. Don't you think there are many who have a more conservative, cut spending philsophy in the Democrate party. If the Republican party was viable they would probably be in the party.

The Republicans in Warwick bend over backwards to the unions with Avedisian at the helm.

Posted by: angry taxpayer at January 22, 2009 12:01 AM

There is no conservative party, as long as conservatives don't want to take an active role in it. Let's also be frank, in many respects, the RI Democratic Party has been more welcoming to conservatives than the RIGOP. I think that has been changing as of late, and I give Gio some credit for that.

40% of the Democrats in the RI House are probably more conservative than the puny GOP delegation. The main reason that aren't in the GOP, is that they want a chance of getting their bills through, since the Speaker controls everything. It's a well oiled machine and it's a corrupt one. The RIGOP is a rusty clunker, and doesn't have enough power to be corrupt.

I don't put the party's ills this election cycle solely at Gio's feet. There were plenty of external factors that trumped virtually anything the party did or could have done. They certainly made a number of tactical mistakes, some of which I've pointed out in this forum. However, the good thing about mistakes, is that you then get the opportunity to learn from them. Hopefully, we will. I don't dwell on the past; I'm already thinking about 2010.

To be honest, I'm not sure about whether the leadership should or needs to be replaced. My focus is the business model of the party, not on who the CEO is. We need to develop a better product that is attractive to consumers. If the leadership were to be replaced, whom would want the job? I haven't exactly seen a line. Even if they did, would there even be a real election? For anyone who knows how the party "works," our elections kind of have a feel of politburo meetings. There are almost never any surprises.

I know the RIGOP leaders have been working on a detailed plan to delegate more authority to people other than the chairman, to create a functional organization. Until you have more grassroots involvement in the party, I'm not sure that any specific leader will be able to do much with it. We all know that top down leadership styles tend not to work well in the long run.

PS "I know that there are many effective, conservative Republicans out there, but for every Laffey there is a Fung and an Avedisian."

Laffey will be back, and better than ever in the not too distant future. Excepting his stands on social issues, I would consider Allan to be a conservative. I don't necessarily think he hurts the Republican brand, largely, because he's at the municipal level. He's also competent, unlike Nappy. I've known him for many years, and he's no Avedesian.

As for Avedesian, I'm going to follow my mother's advice "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." However, he's a good human being.

Posted by: Will at January 22, 2009 1:21 AM

The best thing you RIGOP folks have going for you is that you don't need to rent a hall when you want to get together.
What Avedesian does in Warwick is govern. One can only hope that Fung chooses that as a model instead of a former Cranston mayor's confrontational tenure.

Before you in the GOP start making big plans it may help to actually elect people.

{You obviously don't know much about me or my politics to make such statements, because I am very agenda driven. I'm for making the Republican Party, a primarily conservative party. I'd support regular party purges, if the RIGOP bylaws allowed it (and no, I will not be running on that as a platform). However, that doesn't mean that we can't have fun occasionally.}

Thus speaks Will. Regular party purges do sound fun, but with your numbers being what they are how is this practice sustainable?

Posted by: Phil at January 22, 2009 7:20 AM

"What Avedesian does in Warwick is govern".

Avedisian is afraid of his employees. He has bent over backward to kiss there behinds so he can continue to get elected without regard to the taxpayers. In the past few years he has increased the pension from 65% of salary to 75% of salary (without an acturial study) for firfighters. He started the whole fix $11 co-pay per week three years ago for health care and the $300 cap on employee out of pocket cost for prescription drugs. This is costing Warwick taxpayers millions. Municipal emp;oyee receive lifetime health care and pension benefits after working only 10 years.

How about him signing a contract to keep unionized crossing guards with full family plan health care and pension just a couple years ago.

Thank god for the Democrates on the council saying no and forcing him to get rid of the benefits for these part time workers.

Avedisian is nothing more then a tax and spend liberal that has put Warwick on the verge of bankruptcy. Cushman is right, he needs to stop whining and make real fundumental changes in the city. He may finally be forced to do that with what the governor is proposing.

Don't count on it. I would not be surprised if he cut deal with the unions before anything is passed in the general assembly providing them hidden give backs - simular to what the school committee did with the teachers when they lock in the $11 co-pay for 2 more years.

What I joke. The sad fact is Avedisian has total control of 5 members of the council and we taxpayers do not stand much of a chance with this phony in office.

Posted by: warwickwhiner at January 22, 2009 11:56 AM

Warwick Whiner,

Well said. You obviously know what you're talking about.

When is the rest of Warwick going to recognize that Scott Avedisian is afraid that his employees will boot him out of office--like they did Mr. Cushman--if he doesn't bend to their every whim?

In order to placate those employees, Avedisian sends senior citizens on fixed incomes, hard working families who rely on the private sector (real world), and people who rely on public services (he has a zero dollar road paving budget!) up the river. He sells out the general public.

That's not governing!

How can those idiots in Warwick elect a mayor who is afraid of his own employees?

Posted by: Rasputin at January 22, 2009 12:40 PM

Hey I just read the Mayor Fung in Cranston will not give raises to his staff for the next two years. Maybe he can have a chat with the Great Governing Mayor of Warwick and ask him to resind the 3% raise and longevity increases he gave to his administrators costing taxpayers $250,000.

Thanks Scott for looking out of the little guy.

Posted by: warwickwhiner at January 22, 2009 4:23 PM
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