September 6, 2009

ProJo's Portrait of State Worker Plight Strikes Questionable Tone

Monique Chartier

In a state with 13% unemployment and high taxes that go, in part, to fund the not ungenerous compensation of public employees such as Ms. Esposito, do you suppose the Providence Journal thinks they're doing public employees a favor with stories such as this in yesterday's paper?

Linda Esposito, a keeper of vital records for the state Health Department, says Governor Carcieri should stop picking on state workers every time there’s a financial crisis.

“Unfortunately, the governor feels that when there’s a problem, state employees are the first people he looks to, to help fix the problem,” Esposito said. Layoffs “are just going to add to the unemployment lines,”

* * *

In Esposito’s department, where births, deaths and marriage records are filed, public hours were cut in half in February; the department has shrunk through attrition and “we’re all in there trying to pick up the slack,” she said. “I’m a single working parent. It hits us the hardest, with only one paycheck. That’s the thing, if I don’t pay my rent to my landlord, I’m going to be out on the street. The state has to manage its money better.”

Give some workers credit; it appears that they politely declined to comment when buttonholed.

Esposito was one of a few state workers who agreed to speak about the imbroglio between Carcieri, state workers and their unions, over shutdown days and potential layoffs.

“No, thank you” and “All set, thank you,” and “No comment,” were the more frequent responses from state workers who ate lunch outside the Department of Administration building at One Capitol Hill yesterday.

One gentleman even got the source of the problem right.

But [Ted] Cooper places the blame with legislators, who “kind of stuck [Carcieri] with the budget.”

All in all, however, it's difficult to believe that an article consisting mainly of this motif

“I can’t take anymore cuts in pay,” said [state worker Peter] Blais. “I just keep losing money. You get an increase of so many percent, but then you start getting more taken out” for health insurance.

would be near the top of the to-do list of a p.r. professional seeking to advance the position of the public employee in this state.

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Of course that article had a questionale tone. It was written by illegal alien sympathizer Karen Lee Ziner. There is a hilarious irony in having a writer who advocates the mooching and looting of state coffers for illegal aliens now offering up crocodile tears for state workers. These state workers are literally paying the price for fiscal shortfalls due in part by the very mooching and looting Fraulein Ziner advocates.
What's even more hilarious is how the moronic and clueless rank and file simply don't get it. These state workers are seemingly intellectually incapable of connecting the dots between their own union leadership/General Assembly and the support that union leadership/General Assembly lends to issues/groups THAT HURT THEM, the rank and file.
The issue of illegal aliens is a classic example.
Don't let anyone tell you the stereotype of the state worker in an unfair and inaccurate one.
It's on the money! (pun intended)

Posted by: Tim at September 6, 2009 1:03 PM

I was tempted to email Ms. Ziner to offer my time should she wish to leaven her reportage with a taxpayer perspective, but I figured it'd be a waste of time.

Posted by: Justin Katz at September 6, 2009 1:25 PM

"a keeper of vital records", I wonder if that translates to "clerk" and what it would pay in the private sector.

"reduced hours". Since most such records are public, I wonder why they are not put online?

I remember going to the Boston vital Statistics years ago, they had to inspect birth certificates before you could get a copy. If they were stamped "illegitimate", you couldn't get a copy. Well, just list an index of thoise certificates online. For those you have to go in and produce I.D.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at September 6, 2009 1:30 PM

Is there anything stopping the affected state employees who are disgruntled from going to find a better job elsewhere?

Oh yea, it's the 13+% unemployment that they are essentially immune from.

These stories are great. They just highlight the out-of-touch Entitlement-mentality that plagues our state & municipal "workers".

You gotta love it when some idiot says "I can't afford any more pay cuts", as thousands of people have received 100% pay-cuts due to lost jobs. Where do they find these morons?

Posted by: George Elbow at September 6, 2009 1:31 PM

I've learned one thing as a public employee; forget the PR campaigns, the letters to the editor, the blogs and other discussions, keep your head down, focus on your work, and maintain your dignity.

The critics are fed a constant stream of misinformation. The most vocal of those critics care nothing for the truth, instead focus on the sport of breaking down a fellow citizen and human being to make themselves feel better.

Posted by: michael at September 6, 2009 5:29 PM

"Is there anything stopping the affected state employees who are disgruntled from going to find a better job elsewhere?"

Find a better job, are you kidding? Where they are, they make 20% more than private industry, 4 weeks vacation, 18 holidays, unlimited sick days and outrageous benefits. Where's the better job?

My favorite story is beingint he Norfolk County Registry of Deeds (Mass) some years back. I walked by the "comparing room". What I saw was two ladies sitting at a table. One was reading an original deed while another "compared" it to a Xerox copy. "Comparing" might have had a purpose when the deed copies were handwritten, but by then it was just "make work".

Here's another. For a while I was doing a lot of business with the Mass Estate Tax Bureau. They put out a receptionist who was clearly "a little slow". I know one of the guys in the back room well enough to ask why they put her out front greeting the public. "She was making us crazy, so we put her out front".

These are Massachusetts stories, but among those who work in "public service" I am sure the attitudes are pandemic. In Massachusetts you can view government workers salaries online. Interesting reading.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at September 6, 2009 7:29 PM


You wrote: "The critics are fed a constant stream of misinformation."


What are your thoughts on the following examples of misinformation put forth by the Public Employee Unions, who have a long and accomplished history of spewing forth misinformation?

1) NEA-RI #2 Clown (Patrick Crowley) claiming in Dec 2007/Jan 2008 via a widely published Op-Ed piece that “the cost of teaching has risen slower than overall inflation".

In fact, just the opposite was (is) true. The moron compared 5 years of spending increases to 7 years of inflation. Most notable was the fact that not a single Union-hack stepped up to correct the record. No, they were quite comfortable with the misinformation / Union-spin.

2) The BS about 3% salary increases that is always reported in the press whenever a new Union Teachers' contract is signed, when in fact the Union-hacks receive actual increase 4+ times those amounts.

3) The claim by Woonsocket's Union that they agreed to a "wage freeze", when in fact nothing is further from the truth. Every Union-teacher in Woonsocket is receiving a salary increase this fiscal year versus last fiscal year. Again, silence from the Union-hacks who know better.

I could go on, but these are three recent and blatant examples of Public Employee Union-hack misinfomation campaigns.

Perhaps you could give us your thoughts on them.

We previously asked the gate-keeper of all things true, Bob Balliot, for a comment on these issues, but he couldn't defend the Unions, so he took an el-paso.

Looking forward to your substantive response.

Posted by: George Elbow at September 6, 2009 7:58 PM

George, youy civility is frightening, I can hardly wait for the real George Elbow to rear his ugly head.

I am not a spokesman for my or any other union, therefore don't expect explinations from me.

Generally speaking anybody with a calclator and some basic information can spin numbers any way that suits them. Arguing here or anywhere is pointless.

The state is broke. The country is broke. The world is broke. Eventually it will turn around and all the pontificating here and elsewhere will be forgotten.

Or not.

Posted by: michael at September 6, 2009 9:24 PM


Actually, facts are facts ...and misinformation is misinformation.

Said differently, 2 + 2 will always equal 4, no matter how someone tries to spin it, calculator or no calculator.

I gave you 3 simple examples, all factual.

If an employee gets paid more this fiscal year than they got paid last fiscal year, then you can NOT claim a "wage freeze". It is no more complicated than that.

Nor can you assert that the cost of teaching has risen slower than the rate of inflation by comparing 5 years of spending growth to 7 years of inflation. Can you say "misinformation"??

You were the one that asserted "critics are fed misinformation...", to which I provided you with 3 concrete, indisputable examples of Union-hack spin.

Given that you are unwilling to respond to the real examples that I provided, perhaps you could regale us with some examples of the "misinformation" to which you originally referred?

Lastly, you are correct. The state is broke. And because of that, we can no longer do business as usual. We can no longer afford to pay people what we used to pay them. It's that simple. The sooner people get used to that, the better off we will all be.

In other words, the sooner people follow your good example of keeping their head down, working hard and focusing on their job as opposed to fighting tooth and nail against every effort to bring costs in line with what is affordable, the better off everyone will be.

Posted by: George Elbow at September 6, 2009 10:50 PM

Actually Mike it's union members who are fed a constant diet of misinformation by their own leadership. We see the impact of that misinformation when unionistas are asked to comment in the media. Embarrassing!

"I am not a spokesman for my or any other union, therefore don't expect explinations from me."

Mike, is it part of your PFD union indoctrination that says if you're not a union spokesman you can't publicly opine on the issues?

Posted by: Tim at September 7, 2009 9:57 AM

Actually, Tim, I've said so much I don't have anything constructive left to say. My opinions are stated in Projo editorials, letters, my blog, radio and TV.

Every now and then something drags me out of exile, this time it was the cartoon a few posts down that did it, and the Governor's comments on talk shows and television.

I talk, you talk, George Elbow talks, George Nee talks...problem is, we are all so set in stone in our opinions and experiences nobody listens and it goes nowhere.

Posted by: michael at September 7, 2009 12:48 PM

OK, Tim and Mike, let's do some new thinking here.

The fact that comes first to mind is the the population of Providence is 40% smaller than it was in 1950, I am not sure about Pawtucket. I also dont know if illegals are included in this figure or not, I suspect they are.

Second, there is no economic engine at work that is liable to turn this around. All Providence has left are hospitals, schools and government. The large employers, Brown & Sharpe, etc. are all gone.

What this should mean is a lot of surplus housing and other property. There are some changes that have softened the impact. "Twenty somethings" no longer live with parents, marginal businesses have taken over some of the mill space.

Still, there is more city than there is population. That means that the police have trouble with empty buildings, as does the fire department.

Since RI is a "blue state" and the Democrats cannot win without them, we will continue to here of re-vitalization plans with little follow through. This should last about 38 more months, the time span till the next presidential election. Already, in the background, government planners are talking about demolition and parks. These talks will not lie dormant forever. Parks require a lot less city services than run down neighborhoods. I think that is the future. Packing those neighborhoods with illegals and insisting that they be in the "count" is only a stop gap effort to receive more federal subsidy.

Even though I am a great fan of urban areas, I think we have to start thinking about ways to make the transition work. If Providence can ever get its engine restarted, those "parks" will provide open space for development. By then, everyone will want to protect their parks.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at September 7, 2009 1:36 PM

I've been working in Providence since 1991. At the time the streets were full of vacant houses. Those homes are now full and homeless people fill the empty spaces. I have no idea where we fit 40% more people in 1950.

I worked at Texas Instruments in the early eighties, during mass layoffs and quality problems. The proliferation of personal computers helped for a while and things improved considerably.

We need to make something people need rather than want and keep the production of that item or items here, rather than search the globe for the lowest cost. Until that time we're stuck without much growth.

We have the people to make the goods, and the resourses to pay them. Right now the funds are being squandered in the pursuit of extreme wealth or a handout.

I'm well aware this theory is Pre-Economics 101, but I figured I'd throw it out there.

Posted by: michael at September 7, 2009 7:02 PM


For someone who wrote "I've said so much I don't have anything constructive left to say", you sure have lots to say. :)

We don't have jobs for all these people, but we do have the poverty-pimps / welfare industry keeping them here.

Face it, RI is a magnet for hardly working people. It is the result of people like you who think we "have the resources" to support them.

And the unholy alliance between the Unions and Poverty-pimps does not go unnoticed.

The more poverty we attract and create, the more Union Police, Fire, Teachers, etc. we need.

Your comment that we have the resources but they are "being squandered in the pursuit of extreme wealth or a handout" speaks volumes.

Would you or any of your PFD pals start a business in RI and pay what your fearless leader, Lazy-Ass Pauly "No Show" Doughty demands for his flock?

The PFD Union truly believes that the city has the resources at their disposal to support the Unsustainable cost structure of the PFD, it's just a matter of how they prioritize, right?

Posted by: George Elbow at September 7, 2009 7:56 PM


Here is a cut from a web article " For example, Providence's population from 1950 to 1960 dropped from 248,674 to 179,116. It is currently 162,000 +/-, with 18,000 illegals entering since 2000 (in 2005). Like Massachusetts, RI has been losing 1% of white population per year since prior to 2000. This is not meant as a racist statement, but who are the high earners? Some of this can be explained by retirement (whoever heard of sommeone retiring to "the North") and lack of opportunity for recent college grads.

The last census/estimate (2005) estimates that 8.3% of housing units are vacant. Allowing for some fudge factor, that is 1 housing unit in 10. And those are largely concentrated. You will see few abandoned housing units on the East Side.

The big population drop is where Warwick came from. Not actually, but drive through Warwick and count the 1950's houses.

The same article mentions that in 1945, Wash-Kaiser shipyard employed 21,000 people. I know that was war production, but that is quite an economic engine.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at September 7, 2009 8:23 PM

OK, I'm not a democrat or a republican. This may ramble a bit but I'm aggravated so please bear with me.

To the public union members out there who are complaining that they are being unfairly portrayed as greedy,lazy, etc. I know it is not all public employees who fit these stereotype. Most state/city employees can't criticize their union because of fear of retribution so they keep their mouths shut. I don't have a lot of personal interaction with state workers but here are somethings that I have never seen/heard: Employees not allowed tho take a vacation/day off when they want because there is too much work to do nor have I gone into a department such as the Registry and seen workers going as fast as they safely can in order to get the work done as fast as possible. As I said before, not all public union members fit the stereotype but we all know they exist. As a private union member I am fed up with whining! Can the "regular" people who are being laid off take their employer to court to keep their jobs? If The public unions want to avoid any misinformation, publish your contracts so they can be read by everyone. I will gladly compare my contract to the state union worker contract.

People seem to forget that the union's job is to get the best contract for it's members not to do what's best for the taxpayer. I do not begrudge them that. But, if you take so much that the contract is unsustainable, you have to pay the price. The main difference here is that I have to make sure that my company can be competitive and profitable so that I will still have a job while state workers don't. And to all you state employees who are complaining about how poorly paid you are: Why did you take the job in the first place??? If you are so poorly paid, quit and go work somewhere else.

Posted by: Russ at September 9, 2009 9:02 AM

Russ - "If you are so poorly paid, quit and go work somewhere else."

Well said, my good man!

Of course you realize you asking the impossible.

You are asking that the lazy, Entitlement-minded, coddled, not-so-bright, low-self-esteem, scared of the free-market, horrified at the prospects of living in the real world, chicken-cr*p, hardly-working Union-hack dependents become self-sufficient / self-reliant and independent minded.

You might as well ask them to walk on water.

For a Union-man, you've got your head screwed on right. :)

Posted by: George Elbow at September 10, 2009 9:01 PM
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