August 2, 2011

Clueless: Warwick School Committee Files a Caruolo

Monique Chartier

The Providence Journal reported this development on the very day (i.e., yesterday) that a Rhode Island municipality was thrown into bankruptcy.

With no clear answer from the state on whether communities that cut funding to their school districts last year have to restore some of that money, the Warwick School Committee is suing the city for about $6.2 million in additional funding for schools.

In a lawsuit filed last week in District Court, school officials contend that the district is owed the money because the law that allowed the city to cut school funding last year was a one-time option and the city, this year, is required to restore its support of local schools to at least what it was in 2009.

Last year, cities and towns had the option of dropping the amount they gave their local school districts to 95 percent of what it was in 2009. The Legislature offered communities that option as a way of dealing with the loss of state aid to municipalities.

I hadn't heard that Warwick has an annual operating surplus of $6.2 million lying around for just such a contingency. Or possibly members of the Warwick School Committee share the larger fiscal philosophy of Rep. James McLaughlin (D-Central Falls) that, to quote Andrew,

just because we have no money doesn't mean we're bankrupt
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I previously said that McLaughlin is no rocket scientist but I think you're taking his quote a little out of context. It's true, having no money doesn't mean you're bankrupt. I get paid on the last day of the month. If on the 29th, I'm completely out of money, I'm not bankrupt. I think that was McLaughlin's point. Bankrupt is when you have no money and no realistic chance of paying off your debts. I think McLaughlin wanted to see if there were any inefficiencies in the system that had been overlooked. He's not the type that is in favor of raising taxes, in spite of the D next to his name, so I can't speak for him, but I'm not sure that he was referring to raising taxes, either. Heck, we've seen how bad some of the CF city hall was at doing their jobs, maybe the tax collectors are equally bad and haven't collected the revenues that are due to them.

Posted by: Patrick at August 2, 2011 8:23 AM


I know Rep. McLaughlin is sympathetic to the Northern Rhode Island fiscally-conservative Democrats and maybe even a full-fledged member, who doesn't overtly want to raise taxes. The problem is that he expects a huge sum of money to more-or-less magically appear to solve the problem he is concerned with. That's his commonality with the Warwick School Committee.

Posted by: Andrew at August 2, 2011 9:47 AM

But Andrew, it does magically fall out of nowhere. Don't you know your Rhode Island history? There was the tobacco settlement for some free money, lead paint settlement for free money, federal stimulus funding for free money. It always just works itself out. So why wouldn't it now? You give a stray cat a meal every day for a week, what else would the cat expect on the eighth day?

And a good response for McLaughlin would be,

"You're right, but the fact that our bankruptcy filing was accepted DOES mean that we're bankrupt."

Does anyone know if the FBI is still investigating Moreau? Is that ongoing? I'm still waiting to see Charlie do the perp walk.

Posted by: Patrick at August 2, 2011 10:48 AM

I guess Warwick wants to be on the fast track to bankruptcy. Did these people just see what happened in CF?

Posted by: Kathy at August 2, 2011 3:53 PM

It really does make you wonder who the school committee really represents.

Posted by: Patrick at August 2, 2011 4:53 PM

With all respect, I don't see what is "valid" about a contract that says I have to work until I am in my 70's at a job I don't love, and probably die on the job, and pay a large percentage of my income in taxes, so that a guy who drove a cruiser around for 20 years--following his "calling"--can spend endless days fishing, going to the beach, playing with his grandkids, visiting Disney World. Just doesn't feel like a valid contract to me. Especially when the contract was negotiated in collusion between city employees (mayors) who were beholden to the union they were negotiating with. But yes, some judge may uphold it. At some point of course everyone who doesn't want to pay for this moves to another state and there is no one to pay for the guy who thinks he is entitled to enjoy the good life from age 50 on.
I am not saying this guy did anything wrong, but the system he took advantage of is breaking and expectations are going to have to change--just ask the Central Falls goverment retirees

Posted by: Doug Meisner at August 2, 2011 9:45 PM
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