Be sure to check out some of the very good coverage and analysis of the proposed pension reform “settlement” in the press. The ProJo story here. The WPRI story here. Arlene Violet’s column in Thursday’s Valley Breeze, “Stop the pension reform ‘reform'”, went to press before Friday’s slyly timed press conference but it is emphatic about why this negotiated settlement is dangerous on several levels. Similarly, while John Depetro’s interview [MP3 audio] on WPRO with Justice Robert Flanders preceded the announcement of the settlement, it makes for fascinating and very pertinent listening. (In it, Justice Flanders says explicitly, “No good thing can come out of this settlement.” )
A broad stroke comprises Justin’s initial reaction to the settlement. Some seemingly small items are what struck me.
The Telltale Smile
Speaking of the article in today’s Providence Journal, further in, we find this enlightening observation.
“But union leaders smiled broadly.”
One thing about Rhode Island’s public labor leadership: unlike some politicians (one in particular inexplicably comes to mind), they very rarely head-fake. If they’re smiling about this proposed pension settlement, that’s because they believe it benefits them. And if it benefits public labor in Rhode Island, decades of experience have shown and our tattered budgets can demonstrate that it disadvantages the taxpayer.
Whither “Truth In Numbers”?
The foundation of the 2011 pension reform was a report, entitled “Truth In Numbers”, prepared by General Treasurer Gina Raimondo. That report is no longer accessible on line; the link is dead. Literally, because the report has disappeared, and figuratively, because its author has backed away from its findings by negotiating this “settlement”, we no longer have Truth In Numbers at the General Treasurer’s office.
Gina’s Deliberate Timing Deception
Another disturbing little item. Remember that the announcement of this pension settlement was set for Wednesday, then very deliberately postponed to Friday late afternoon, a sure sign that someone involved thought it contained bad news that had to be released when it would get the least attention and do the least damage to one or more of the participants. Who alone among the parties to the mediation still has to answer to the voters and the taxpayers at the ballot box? Not the federal mediators. Not the labor leaders. Not the Governor. Only Gina. Whether it was she who requested the postponement is irrelevant. What should be disturbing to voters is that she willingly participated in deliberately re-scheduling this announcement so as to minimize the information that would get to them about this settlement lest it make her look bad.