To the Editor:
Last week, there was a commentary, “R.I. pensions at a crossroads,” penned by Carol Ann Costa, who is the Chairperson of the Democrat Scituate Town Committee. When I read her commentary regarding our state’s monumental unfunded pension systems, it reminded me of a commentary I submitted a while back that had to do with the need for taxpayers to read between the lines and have the courage to step over and do what’s right. Her commentary was all about me, me and me and had a multitude of subliminal messages.
She started by talking about when she was a kid she used to play stack cards that would eventually come crashing down, referring to the present pension situation. The following statements and sentiments need scrutiny from a fed up taxpayer’s perspective whose only crime was that they supported the party that created this financial nightmare that started decades ago.
Regarding the pension system, she stated, “The complex tower that has been built over time is now resting tenuously on the desk of the General Treasurer Gina Raimondo and also the General Assembly.” Also, she stressed the need to be careful with addressing this grave issue and stated, “What might come crashing down are the secure futures and peace of mind of so many people who give service to our great state.”
Also, she said that after moderating the meeting in Scituate, she felt a better sense of the anger, hurt and disappointment that R.I.’s public servants are feeling, herself included. She went on to say that when she left the meeting she felt more secure because the officials who attended had shown empathy to the real human impact of the many empty promises made by ethically-challenged-predecessors.
And now it’s time to play reality check.
First up, our general treasurer can make all the soothing comments and suggestions she wants; the reality here is it will all be left up to a judge: a crony who had been put on the bench because the predecessors that Carol Ann referred to always knew this day of reckoning would come. The judge will simply say, “The contracts and entitlement are binding and cannot be broken.” A conspiracy, indeed. At that point, Rhode Islanders will see unparallel forms of creative taxation that they never dreamed possible. Another reality is for decades the unions in this state worked hard to elect people for one purpose only: to put their own interests before all others and now the age old adage of “what goes around comes around” has come home to roost. Another reality is how can I feel bad for people who had job security for decades, including endless holidays, sick days, vacations, longevity bonuses, $40,000-plus severance packages, Cadillac of health care plans for pennies on the dollar and, to add insult to misery, early retirements, while most all taxpayers have to work until they take their last breath?
What’s it costing taxpayers in Scituate to provide health care for their town workers? In Johnston, a family plan is $16,162.20 a year. For a retiree with a spouse, it’s $1,346.85 a month. Yup, it sure makes you want to cry. What are the three highest pensions Scituate retirees are collecting? In Johnston, its $8,500, $6,700 and $6,600 a month. Let me repeat: a month. What about the peace of mind and financial security of taxpayers, especially for our children? Carol didn’t mention any of that in her commentary. Who should she and the civil servants she refers to be angry with or disappointed in? Who hurt them? Was it those ethically-challenged representatives that they worked to get elected? It wasn’t taxpayers.
In closing, when Carol was constructing houses made of cards, I was shining shoes, putting food on my mother’s table. The moral here is, like so many who have worked hard all their lives so one day our children would have a better life than we had, it’s all coming crumbling down because of unions who never belonged in government. They have undermined the spirit of our taxation and have taken over the once-great Democratic party that has poisoned our political establishment. The General Assembly is now synonymous with everything that is wrong with our state. This house of cards must come crumbling down via communities having total control over their finances without union involvement.
Peter A. Filippi III
Founder of the Johnston Taxpayers Association