What Should Warwick Citizens Expect From A Potential Mayoral Candidate?

Recently, my Warwick councilman Steve McAllister announced to the Boston Globe that he: “is seriously mulling over running for mayor.” I was deeply disturbed by this comment as during Mr. McAllister’s time on the city council, in my opinion, he has proven himself on many occasions to be completely unqualified to represent the people in his ward, let alone be in charge of the second largest city in the state. Let me expand with specific examples on why I have this opinion.

In 2016 when McAllister first ran for office, I had uncovered the scheme in which the Warwick Fire Department absconded hundreds of thousands of dollars by manipulating portions of their contract. I had hundreds of pages of official documents proving the scheme which ultimately brought the FBI and DOJ into the city of Warwick. In early July after McAllister declared for office, I met with him at my marina along with other concerned citizens and showed him the documents relative to the theft scheme. He was stunned at the amount of information that I had gathered. Subsequent to that meeting I met with him again twice at the Warwick Public Library and gave him additional documents relative to the scheme. At the close of our last meeting, he shook my hand and told me that if he got elected he would do everything in his power to bring this issue to an end and take steps to prosecute all those involved.

In fact, Mr. McAllister won the ward 7 seat and since that day he has never communicated with me. Every phone call, text, and email that I have made to speak with him pertaining to city issues has been completely ignored and he has placated to the fire department and the municipal unions for political support.

Under the open meetings law, members of the public, during a council meeting or budget hearing, have the right to ask questions to specific council members. During the December 16, 2019 meeting on the fire contract, when Mr. McAllister was on the finance committee, I asked specific questions to him pertaining to the contract that he was about to vote on and he openly refused to answer any of the questions, putting his head down, and only stating “I am hear to listen only”. I have attached a video link to that exchange for the readers to evaluate and decide if this individual is qualified to manage a municipality. During subsequent meetings while he was on the finance committee, he continued to refuse to answer any specific questions on contracts and expenditures that he was about to vote on.

Again during the January 30, 2023 fire contract special council meeting, now as the council president, McAllister refused to answer any questions from members of the public diverting them all to the administration. In fact, his lack of knowledge was so obvious that he could not even answer a yes/no question as to if he actually read the contract and he was also unaware of what schedule the fire department was on.

After becoming the council president in 2020, McAllister supported legislation changes in the council rules to not only limit the public interaction, but to also limit council members to 10 minutes during finance meetings and budget hearings. The result now is that complete vetting of monthly expenditures and also annual budgets is virtually impossible. Residents now are limited to 5 minutes in which to address the council once monthly, and the council will not respond to any comments or questions by the public. McAllister spoke at length on how these limits will enable the council to conduct their business more efficiently. I for one have serious issues with that concept seeing how Warwick has huge unfunded liabilities and currently no plan in place to curtail the inevitable insolvency that Warwick will face.

What’s worse is that on numerous occasions McAllister has gaveled down Councilman Ladouceur and prevented him from asking questions on expenditures. When Ladouceur has found errors in bids, McAllister has ignored the errors and allowed the expenditures to pass and has openly stated that “financial questions on expenditures should be asked behind closed doors”. That is by no means open government.

What concerns myself and many other ward 7 residents is that McAllister has no professional job experience. He has never run a business, has no fiscal background, and clearly, by his own actions, has no understanding of contracts that affect the taxpayers. I firmly believe that as an elected official that is voting on contracts that impact your constituents, that you should have an intimate knowledge of that particular contract and the historical contracts the preceded it. This is not the case with this individual. He comports himself as a cheerleader for the unions and at each contract negotiation he continues to state the same sentence. “These employees deserve these raises”. Let me be clear – employees only deserve what the community can afford and Warwick can afford no more.

During the conversations at council meetings pertaining to the proposed school construction projects, McAllister was all for the spending of $350 million dollars, plus the bond interest, yet taxpayers had to bring to his attention that there was a 85.7 million dollar error in the stage two proposal. McAllister was unable to identify the 50 million dollar error on the amortization schedule, the 24 million dollar error in the interest calculation, and the omitted 11.7 million dollar bond underwriting fee. When asked certain questions about the application that he was approving, again, he diverted the questions to the school administration. On February 7, 2020, McAllister openly stated during the council zoom meeting, that there would multiple meetings in each ward to educate the voters on the costs associated with the school construction projects. No meetings were ever held. When local informed citizens broke down the construction costs and notified the city council and school department that the city finances would not be able to pay the 20 year annual bond interest payment as it was amortized on the ballot for the school construction, the city finance department simply decided to run the bond out to 30 years as opposed to the 20 years as it was presented on the ballot. McAllister openly spoke about how this would be a good idea for the city, even though it now added an additional 50 million dollars to the debt service due to extending the bond. This is just not sound fiscal behavior.

I also have issues with McAllister and with the current Mayor Picozzi, as both of their immediate family members are either currently employed by the city or formerly employed by the city. So the prospect of making any changes to the antiquated pension system or healthcare system are bleak at best. When your entire family are beneficiaries of a system that is bankrupting the taxpayers, the likelihood that you will step to the plate to make serious changes is doubtful.

The one comment from McAllister in the recent Boston Globe article that frankly set me to write this piece was McAllister stating that “The next mayoral term will be 4 years. We have exhausted all of our APRA monies and it will be time to make tough decisions”. McAllister must have forgotten that he championed all of the wasteful expenditures of APRA monies and never questioned any of the expenditures. He has yet to challenge any expense or any request for more toys from any department. I would expect a more inquisitive reaction when the city departments are noted to be grossly overspending their incredibly generous budgets. No savvy successful business leader comports himself in the way that Councilman MCAllister has for the last 6 years. There is no indication that he will do anything differently other than increase the speed that Warwick falls into insolvency. I have attached several video links documenting his behavior. Take a few moments to watch, then decide if this is the candidate that you want managing your tax dollars.


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