Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Newport Mayor Shot Down

Yes, I'm a tad behind the times, but at least I have an excuse. Mayor Napolitano had a resolution on the Counil's agenda Feb. 11 ago in support of 3 of the Guv's ideas regarding his supplemental budget. In it she (and others) offered support for: "proposals by Gov. Donald L. Carcieri to require all public employees in the state to pay 25 percent of their health insurance costs, lift minimum staffing requirements for the police and fire departments, and streamlining the arbitration process for firefighters."

Why did the Democratic Mayor support the suggestions of the Republican Carcieri? Yup, it's definitely unusual. From the NDN: "She said the city is facing a $5 million to $6 million deficit for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and that 80 percent of the city’s overall costs are for personnel." (NDN) Well, duh. Silly her. Trying to save $. And imagine thinking that the other Councilors who signed it would actually back her up (Duncan, Leonard, Connelly, & Coyne).

It is worth noting that currently only teachers pay 10.5% for their healthcare. It is also striking that firefighters are currently in arbitration for- 2006. "“To solve these problems, we have to come together,” Napolitano said. “I don’t think the entire burden should be on the backs of homeowners. I also don’t think the entire burden should be on the backs of city employees.”

Now, surprise, surprise, 150 Union backers showed up to protest their loss of bargaining rights. Seeing this, except for Napolitano, all Councilorssupporting the resolution caved. Umm, guess they didn't know what it actually, like, meant? They were shocked that there was opposition? They were, hmm, confused?

Not exactly a moment of courage here. But wait, there's more. Councilor McLaughlin who had NOT signed on to the Resolution and, in fact, opposed it, offered the Mayor her only support," ...who thanked Napolitano for putting the resolution on the agenda. Unlike the federal government, the city must balance its budget, he said." It's always good to know who your friends are. Two people of courage, no matter what you may think of the Resolution itself.

And then it gets even more & more interesting. Former Mayor, now Councilor Waluk, deep-sixed the whole matter. He refused to participate: "because he is a public employee who has a financial interest in the outcome of the proposals. He is a policy analyst in the Rhode Island House of Representatives. " Sound like an easy out? Smelly? Let's pick this apart.

Waluk doesn't stand to lose or gain anymore than any other public employee, right? So the "conflict" laws don't really apply to him. He's also not a member of the Lege who actually gets to decide on State Laws which this resolution is proposing to change. So he couldn't actually vote on changing the laws anyway. Doesn't sound like a conflict to me.

So what's up here? Hmm, I could even have lived with this. But then, then the NDN ran their "Jeers & Cheers" and gave him the old virtual tip-of-the-hat for... "In all fairness, Councilman Stephen C. Waluk recused himself because, as a policy analyst for the state House of Representatives, he is a public employee." (NDN) Hello, Hello, what happened to actual fact-checking? You accept this so easily? Why? He didn't even have an "official" opinion from the Board of Elections. It's not like he couldn't spare the time to go to Prov. to actually get one since he works there! It's things like this that make readers turn away. Why give him such a quick & easy pass on such an obviously difficult topic? Why?

The resolution is supposed to be on the agenda again for their next meeting. Wanna bet? So now you know who has courage & who is somewhat challenged.

Thanks to Sean Flynn at the NDN. Sorry, you can't actually read the articles which I refer to without $. And also noted, is the down-grading of the NDN website. Hard to believe that it could be less than what it was, but there it is.
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