May 5, 2009

Town as Big Business

Justin Katz

One could understand, perhaps, the city/town being its own biggest employer in a rural area or suburb with little by way of industry. But Warwick? Bob Cushman writes:

According to Warwick’s 2007 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the City of Warwick was the No. 1 employer in Warwick, with 2,900 employees. Number two was Kent Hospital, with 2,050 employees. Number three was Metropolitan Life/Property Insurance, with 1,450 employees. Number four was United Parcel Service, with 1,000 employees. Number five was Leviton Manufacturing, with 840 employees.

In 1998, the population of Warwick was 85,427 citizens. By 2007, the population had increased slightly, to 87,365 citizens. In 1998, the number of full-time municipal employees was 875. By 2008, the number of municipal employees had increased more than 6 percent, to 929 employees.

In 1997, the number of students in Warwick’s schools was 12,124. By 2008, the number had decreased to 11,150 students. In 2012, the projected student population is expected to further decrease, to 10,442, or a 14 percent decline from 1997 levels. In 1997, the number of teachers employed was 1,056. By 2003, the teaching staff had increased more than 7 percent, to 1,133.

Since then the teaching staff has been reduced to 1,088 teachers, still an increase of 3 percent over 1997 levels.

Little wonder public-sector unions do so well, as a political constituency, when the biggest employer in town receives its revenue through force of tax.

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Well, since the Republicans in RI stand for smaller government, maybe what Warwick needs is a Republican mayor.

What? They already have one? Oh never mind then.

Posted by: Patrick at May 5, 2009 8:12 AM

How does the number of additional employees in Warwick correlate with the number of IT jobs created during that same time period? IT created the promise of more efficient government. Yet, efficiencies created were superficial - a web site is created, a database made accessible to the public, and government became a bit more transparent - yet at what real cost? No one dared question the salaries for IT personnel - they would be chastised for not engaging in group think. The new layer of bureaucracy grew exponentially along with the costs. The same thing happened in state and federal government.

Posted by: Robert Balliot at May 5, 2009 9:08 AM

I am a Republican from Cranston. I have no interest in moving to Warwick and I've pretty much had it with politics in this state. But I would consider it time well spent, to work for a Cushman for Mayor of Warwick campaign, whether he ran as a Democrat, Republican or Independent.

With Democrats like Bob, who needs Republicans!

Posted by: George at May 5, 2009 11:01 AM


Cushman is smart so he has run as a Democrat in order to snatch the votes of these simpletons, sheep, and phillistines who pull the master lever for the Dems. Why any conservative runs as a Republican in this state boggles my mind.

Oh wait, I almost forgot, it's because people are stupid!

Posted by: Robbespeirre at May 5, 2009 11:21 AM


Cushman got bounced in his city council re-election campaign. Avedisian focued all his time, money (personally donated $1000 to Cushman's opponent)and resources to defeat Cushman.

With the backing of thousands of dollars in contributions from the local unions and state wide union flyer drops, Avedisian pulled all his backers from the other eight wards into Cushman's ward. On election day it was a well oiled machine.

The current councilman lost to Cushman two years ago as a Dem and got elected as a Republician.

He is nothing more than a rubber stamp to Avedisian and voted in favor of the unions and their recent contracts and health care.

Its a sad day when these are the "leading" Republicians in the state. Cushman took on the special interest groups with his common sense platform and got bounced.

I don't know why he bothers. Maybe if he had some support he would run for Mayor.

Posted by: Angry Warwick Repub at May 5, 2009 2:39 PM

RINO's like Avedesian are why the RIGOP is impotent - and so long as it "big tent's" itself to embrace them will remain impotent, and so irrelevant.

A great way to stay in power is to make sure that your opposition party is compromised from within.

Don't think that the Democrats and unions don't realize this and (at least surreptitiously if not openly) support people like Avedesian and Bruce Long, June Gibbs, John Savage, etc. etc.

Posted by: Tom W at May 5, 2009 3:16 PM

The notion of 'RINO' was started by southern democrat Dixiecrats who switched parties to Republican and needed a buzzword to get noveau Republicans to fall in line with their philosophy.
It has nothing to do with being fiscally conservative or being in favor of small government or less government intervention. It was the pitch of characters such as Strom Thurmond, who led segregationalist politics with the States Right Democratic party before becoming Republican.
When you call traditional republicans RINO, you are parrotting the Dixiecrat philosophy - which is republican in name only and certainly NOT the part of Lincoln.

Posted by: Robert Balliot at May 5, 2009 3:58 PM

Tom W,

Great points. I think the only people who don't understand that are the Will Ricci's, Ray McKay's and Gio Cicione's of the world. Or do they...

Posted by: Robbespierre at May 5, 2009 4:00 PM

>>When you call traditional republicans RINO, you are parrotting the Dixiecrat philosophy - which is republican in name only and certainly NOT the part of Lincoln.

I've never heard of "RINO" having the origins you suggest, but for the sake of discussion let's accept it as true.

"Gay" used to have a totally innocuous, even positive connotation - but that is not how it's used today.

RINO today is used in the context of so-called Republicans who support most or all of the Democrat left-wing agenda, albeit perhaps at a slower pace.

Here in RI, Avedesian and his pandering to the unions is indistinguishable from a Democrat, as are his liberal social views.

Arlen Specter and the gals from Maine all voted for the Democrat "stimulus" package - big government, big taxes. That is neither a Republican position, nor a fiscally responsible one.

Conservatives (which many elected Republicans are not) support smaller government and low taxes, which are the real fiscal responsibility.

Real Republicans do not support infanticide (a/k/a abortion a/k/a "choice"), socialized medicine, gay marriage, illegal immigrant amnesty & anchor babies, welfare as a way of life, or a weak military. Lincoln would not have supported any of those either.

Posted by: Tom W at May 5, 2009 6:12 PM

>>Great points. I think the only people who don't understand that are the Will Ricci's, Ray McKay's and Gio Cicione's of the world. Or do they...

Some "of the world" do understand, and are trying to change it, in Rhode Island and nationally.

The National Federation of Republican Assemblies / Rhode Island Republican Assembly being prime examples.

That said, there is strong resistance from the "Big Tent" ilk who believe that their "moderate" path is the way to success. Hard to argue with their logic, since "moderate" Republican President McCain and Dole were so successful, and the "moderate" Republicans in the Northeast continue to pick up Congressional seats!

Posted by: Tom W at May 5, 2009 6:20 PM

"Tom W",

Nobody pandered to the union more than Cushman. As chairman of the Warwick school committee (and also a candidate for city council) Cushman negotiated the most expensive collective bargaining agreement in the city's history. Cushman gave the teachers an 18% pay increase over three years (he claims that 18% is ok because it actually covered six years), allowed the teachers to retain a clause that prohibits more than 20 lay-offs per year and negotiated an $11 co-pay towards health insurance. Cushman claims the $11 was the best he could do because that was what Avedisian had negotiated with other unions, but want to know a secret? The $11 health insurance co-pay Cushman negotiated with the teacher's is PER PAY PERIOD, not per week!!! Teachers in Warwick are paid by-weekly so the teachers are only paying $5.50 per week for family health insurance. Nice deal, huh? How do I know this? I have relatives that are Warwick teachers. Cushman's contract with the teachers cost taxpayers seven million dollars over the past three years and put the city in this financial mess. The local rag newspaper in Warwick gives Cushman a forum hopng that they can push his inevitable campaign for mayor. What a joke. Cushman will be lucky if he receives 30% of the vote from the sheep in warwick who buy into Cushman's lies.

Posted by: Laura B. at May 5, 2009 8:11 PM

Laura B.

You do not know what you are talking about. I know a member of the school committee.

The contract did give 18% raises and yes it was over 6 years. The other unions in the city received over 21% raises during the same 6 years. ALso the school committee got the retireed school teachers to pay a co-pay for health, something never before done.

At the time members of the school commitee including Cushman did not like the contract but with loss of high school accrediation looming and after three plus years without an agreemnt, the onlt chance they had to get an agreement was at that time.

The old hard line union president was defeated and the chief negotiated replaced. Cushman stated publically that the system was broken and the only way chnage would occur was through legislation at the GA.

By the way the $11 co-pay equated to a 52 week co-pay for $572 a year. In addition the school committee did not give teachers lifetime healthcare. Municipal employees get that after only 10 years of work.

Municipal employees also have a $300 cap on prescription drug cost. Teachers do not.

The teachers union membership never supported Cushman becuae he along with John Thomas exposed all the ridicious provisions in the contract.

In fact they filed an Unfair labor practice with the labor relations board against him.

His position has always been consistent that is why the unions and Avedisan were able to bounce him last fall.

Posted by: the real story at May 6, 2009 10:48 AM

Laura B is obviously someone with her hand in the huge pot that is Warwick taxpayer money.

Laura B fails to mention that the teacher's union took Cushman to the Labor Relations Board over those tense negotiations that resulted in, a bad contract, yes, but still better than the one Avedisian gives to fire fighters and police.

Laura B fails to mention that firefighters and police have lifetime healthcare, which independent auditors found has the city taxpayers hooked with a $365 million unfunded liability!

She mentions that the "local rag" gives him a column (she never mentions that the Journal runs every one of his columns, I guess they can't be bullied as easily!) saying it will endorse him for mayor. She fails to mention that the "local rag" endorsed his city council opponent--mostly because that same local rag panders to Avedisian!

But hey, why let any facts get into the way, right?

And oh, by the way, did Mayor Avedisian ever protest the teacher's contract when it was first ratified, or when it was extended last year?

No he didn't. That's because he's got no guts and wants the powerful union's support!

Posted by: Carlito at May 6, 2009 11:14 AM

" Real Story & Carlito",

What makes you think I am a city/state employee? I'm not, I'm exposing the truth. Teachers only pay $5.50 per week for family health insurance. That's only $286 per year "real story", not $572. That's the "real story". Again, I have relatives that are Warwick teachers so I know what they are paying for health insurance. Tell your "friend" on the school committee to read the contract. If the teachers are supposed to be paying $11 per WEEK, then tell your "friend" to talk to the payroll clerk and find out why the school department is not taking enough out money. It sounds to me that the only reason you are offended by my comment about Cushman is because you are either a "friend" of his or your a public sector employee.


You mention a "365 million dollar unfunded liability". Blame the municipalities for that. For years they have not contributed the amount they should. But to set the record straight.. I think ALL the contracts, police, fire, municipal and teachers are too generous. The only point I was trying to make is that Cushman did not negotiate the best contract for the taxpayers. He negotiated the best contract for himself at a time when he was in the middle of a campaign for city council. Cushman could care less about the taxpayers.

The fact that both of you felt the need to attack me makes me believe that you both are so blinded by Cushman's lies that you feel the need to attack anybody that raises a valid point. Also, you actually believe that Avedisian and the unions defeated Cushman?? Please... the majority of workers in the State of RI are non-union, myself included. Oh, my god! Yes, I'm a non-union management employee in private sector, with no ties to public sector!! Again, my only point was that Cushman is not the savior he wants all the people to believe he is. Try to be civil guys, I'm just trying to make a point.

Posted by: Laura B. at May 8, 2009 8:57 PM
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