Supporting the Untouchables

As periodically happens, Mark Patinkin has dipped into politics to voice the thoughts of many a conservative… or many a reasonable Rhode Islander:

Just as troubling is the size of these pensions. By year 10 of retirement, off that $89,273 base salary, [Providence Deputy Assistant Fire Chief Dan] Crowley will draw a $66,796 pension now that he’s remained in management. He would have drawn a fatter $79,049 had he accomplished his “demotion.” But my goodness — even the “humbler” $66,796 takes your breath away. Off an $89,000 base? Aside from CEOs, show me the private sector pension that’s anywhere near that rich. No wonder property taxes are unaffordable in this state. How can it feel to be struggling on $40,000 a year while having to support $70,000 pensions for retired city employees, some of whom are in their 50s and working second professions?

I can attest that it’s maddening. Worse still are the accusations from those who enjoy playing with other people’s money that those of us who wish to apply the brakes “hate the community.” Yup, that’s the game: If you can’t afford the ever-escalation and recession-proof livelihoods of public sector workers, it’s an affront to the notion of town spirit, as it were, even if part of the frustration is the fact that higher tax rates make it more difficult to participate in town-based activities, like youth sports.

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Dan
Dan
10 years ago

A $66,796 pension for a position that requires a high school diploma or maybe a bachelors degree.
Outrageous and insulting.

BobW
BobW
10 years ago

There are no private industry pensions. Since the early 1980s most companies, and all new companies established 401K defined contribution retirement plans. And in many cases (companies I worked for) there are no matching funds from employers.
You may be interested to know that Portsmouth fire and police depts have converted to 401K plans, the first in the state as far as I know.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
10 years ago

What is really disheartening is that we pay so much, and get so little. Perhaps worse, we expect so little of those employees.
I tire of hearing how dangerous these jobs are. Try spending 30 years with the 101st Airborne and see what kind of pension you get. Actually, I think firemen and police rate 16th and 17th on thelist of most dangerous jobs in the U.S. No where near as dangerous as an ironworker or lumberjack.
What would you rather do? Go up on the “high steel” everyday for 55k, or suit up once a week for a fire at 68k.

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
10 years ago

Firemen are the biggest frauds going.
They pull every political trick out of the bag to get onto the department. Then, once they get on, they start telling us what hero’s they are and how lucky we are to have them. I say this to those girlymen – let’s put an ad in the paper for your jobs and see how many people are willing to take them for one-half the pay and benefits. You’d have thousands applying for each and every job. That ought to tell you how f’n special you are, you frauds!

Richard Langseth
Richard Langseth
10 years ago

This “hater” message is real. After challenging Scott Avedisian for the Mayor of Warwick, I have personally been labeled by Mr. Avedisian as a “hater” and one who should leave town (in front of the press at his victory speech).
As long as the mayor himself labels his opponents with that message, you can’t expect the city workers to back off their hate messages.
In my case the press was appalled. And it should be. How can a serious candidate for U.S. Senate be yelling such words from the rooftops?

Tim
Tim
10 years ago

Mike don’t forget how many play the “disability” card and scam the system that way. Their profession is quite noble but few in it are.
Richard I wouldn’t worry too much about Avedisian being a serious candidate for the US Senate. He’s Chafee-lite and zero money will come his way from national Republican sources. Will take millions to run against Shelley. Just as his BFF Linc has no money neither does Scott but unlike Linc Scott didn’t land on the Isle of Misfit Toys and hook-up with a $60 million resident.

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

I would like to see the statistics on abuse of disability and other “outs” by public-sector employees by job description or department, not only for firemen and police.
Does the state produce any numbers like this?

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

There are no hard statistics, but the FBI estimated during their 2008 investigation of the Boston Fire Department that half of all firefighters in the department were retiring on fraudulent disability. All of the individuals under investigation happened to be filling in for a supervisor at the time of their disability claim, which boosted their disability pay through a state law loophole. That’s an additional conspiracy charge, in legal terms. Some heroes they are, Dennis Leary. Providence and Boston are like two peas in a pod in terms of fire and police union corruption (although Boston seems to have perfected their machine on a larger scale), so whatever you find in Boston I’m sure you’ll find the same in its little brother city to the south. There used to be a firefighter over on the RIFuture blog who would scream at me in ALL CAPS, make veiled threats, and demand to know my name and place of residence whenever I would post about the well-documented overtime and disability abuses of the Providence and Boston fire departments. He published a self-aggrandizing book called “Working Class Hero,” of course I’m sure he’ll claim the title refers to his colleagues, who happen to work the same cake job that he does. I don’t know how somebody can be considered “working class” while making make $90,000+/year, Cadillac health benefits, and a $70,000 pension. Or where else you can get a career track like that with a high school diploma/G.E.D. education and no experience, for that matter. He claimed that firefighters don’t make that much, but when I linked him to publicly available state payroll information, he quickly turned into the Sgt. Schultz of the department. The state needs to hire private investigators to investigate all of these firefighter disability claims. I saw blatant disability/sick… Read more »

Tom Kenney
Tom Kenney
10 years ago

Dan,
The “firefighter from RIFuture” you refer to is me.
Every single word of your post regarding me is a lie! …but don’t let that stop you from preaching your b/s.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
10 years ago

Tom-not to change the subject TOO much,but how can you stand to post on RIF when “RIF” won’t say who he/she/they are?
It’s one thing to use an alias when making a comment(although I don’t think it’s very forthright),but if you’re the BLOGGER I think it’s a required act to identify yourself.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

Really, Tom? Every word a lie?
Which of the following of my points, in order, do you deny?
A)You composed on RIFuture numerous heated posts aimed at me in CAPS in response to my discussion of the problems plaguing the Providence and Boston fire departments.
B)You accused me of cowardice for using a pseudonym and demanded to know my name and where I reside in RI.
C)You authored a book called “Working Class Hero” about the supposed heroism of firefighters.
D)You denied that there are firefighters in RI who make over $90,000k, to which I posted state payroll information proving my claim to be accurate.
So maybe not “every word” a lie, Tom?

Tom Kenney
Tom Kenney
10 years ago

Dan, [[[[ A)You composed on RIFuture numerous heated posts aimed at me in CAPS in response to my discussion of the problems plaguing the Providence and Boston fire departments. ]]]] I’m sure I heatedly debated your posts…NEVER in caps. [[[[ B)You accused me of cowardice for using a pseudonym and demanded to know my name and where I reside in RI. ]]]] People posting opinions is one thing but people posting so-called facts that refuse to identify themselves irks me, I’m sorry. If you were posting lies and exagerations and rumors as fact (and I believe you were) I would certainly challenge you to ID yourself since a bad reputation follows people but not pseudomyms because you merely create another one. As for where you live, I would only ask that if you were complaining about your property taxes or city services. [[[[ C)You authored a book called “Working Class Hero” about the supposed heroism of firefighters. ]]]] I authored a book of memoirs…true. Not a “a self-aggrandizing book”. [[[[ D)You denied that there are firefighters in RI who make over $90,000k, to which I posted state payroll information proving my claim to be accurate. ]]]] I still stand by that. You can’t count politically appointed chiefs (who are part of no firefighter union) firefighters. You can’t count excessive overtime created by the cities and towns as salary. By the way….you also stated that I made “veiled threats”. Complete lie. [[[[ I don’t know how somebody can be considered “working class” while making make $90,000+/year, Cadillac health benefits, and a $70,000 pension. ]]]] $90,000+ p/year … wrong, unless you work an excessive amount of overtime. Cadillac health benefits … hardly. $70,000 pension … These “chiefs” who were named in the article have a starting pension of about $66,000. I, as… Read more »

Tom Kenney
Tom Kenney
10 years ago

Joe,
I seldom post on RIFuture anymore. As for the blogs I browse that one is as bad as this one as far as only being tolerant to one side of the political spectrum.
Me, I’m neither conservative or bleeding heart so I don’t belong on any of them. I normally reserve my opinions for posts that deal with subjects (municipal unions, fire department related issues, etc.) with which I’m very knowledgeable via my personal career experience.
Good to hear from you, I hear you on the radio from time to time. Keep it up!

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
10 years ago

I try to stick to what I know also.
Immigration,criminal justice,history,and some biological/medical stuff.
I am a total imbecile on anything like economics,business,tax policy,and governmental budgeting.
With the projo as a “newspaper” and TV operating in miniscule sound bites,radio and blogs become the local sources for extended examination of popular topics.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

So “every word a lie” has now turned into “some characterizations inaccurate in my opinion.” Now that we’re on a more realistic level of actual discussion, we can address the issues. “By the way….you also stated that I made “veiled threats”. Complete lie.” You called me a coward and demanded to know my name and place of residence, while hurling every manner of insult and accusation my way. I’m sure I’m not the only one who considers that a veiled threat or some form of attempted intimidation at the very least. Otherwise what would be the point of it? Knowing who I am and where I live affects the issues…how exactly? You pulled exactly the same crap of first resort as Crowley and all of the other union thugs over on RIF. “$90,000+ p/year … wrong, unless you work an excessive amount of overtime.” A public unionist playing word games when it comes to compensation? Shocking. That’s a huge asterisk you took the liberty of including there, Tom. So you don’t even consider any firefighter compensation beyond the yearly base salary figure that appears next to their job position. As if the 150% of salary some members of your department “earn” through precisely such excessive overtime isn’t real taxpayer money. What I said was totally accurate, so if you want to play word games and hide the ball about what’s going on in your department then you’ll only make yourself and your colleagues less credible and more shady than you already are in the public eye. I won’t even go into the huge overtime fraud scandal that rocked your department years back because it’s all easily searchable online. If I remember correctly, you chalked that up to a massive conspiracy against the firefighters or something laughable of that nature. The… Read more »

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
10 years ago

During the time I was employed in Federal law enforcement we were paid on a system called AUO(administratively uncontrollable overtime)which paid us 25% of our base pay annually for putting in an average of at least 10 hours a daay.The way it worked out was they got to use you as much as they wanted to for the 25%.At one point when I was working on a busy squas(Anti Smuggling)my supervisor didn’t give me a day off for nine weeks running.There were other instances almost as bad,and we just took it with no complaint. Eventually,the agents in the FBI,Customs,DEA,Secret Service,INS,and ATF filed a suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act.The INS agents opted for arbitration-it didn’t resemble the insider RI version,either, All non-supervisory personnel got about a third of what the arbitrator figured we were owed,and supervisors got nothing.They were on AUO also,but they were not considered aprt of the “bargaining unit”of the union. I guess locally police and fire supervisors are in the union. Anyway I took my settlement and didn’t look back.The agency unions that wanted to go to trial are still waiting for all I know.This goes back to the early 90’s. The Federal government changed to defined contribution in 1984.They have always charged premiums for health,but do offer a big choice of plans. I have an affordable plan for myself and my wife,but I don’t use it because I use the VA(otherwise I’d be broke)and my wife has no health problems so it works out. I found the strangest thing recently-I needed some specialized dental work and the VA only extends dental care to veterans 100% disabled so I went to two dentists for to different procedures and when they found out I had no insurance,they charged me very little for what I considered high quality… Read more »

Tom Kenney
Tom Kenney
10 years ago

Joe,
Local (Providence anyway) police and fire supervisors are not in the union.

Tom Kenney
Tom Kenney
10 years ago

[[[[[ So “every word a lie” has now turned into “some characterizations inaccurate in my opinion.” ]]]]]
No. It turns into “nothing you state is accurate”!
[[[[[ You called me a coward and demanded to know my name and place of residence, while hurling every manner of insult and accusation my way. ]]]]]
Not true.
[[[[[ I won’t even go into the huge overtime fraud scandal that rocked your department years back because it’s all easily searchable online. ]]]]]
This is a perfect example of your inaccuracies being posted as facts. There NEVER was any “overtime fraud scandal” on the Providence Fire Department. You state b/s as fact. That’s when I feel the need to step in and challenge you.
[[[[[ We’ve already established that you consider sleeping and working out at the firehouse to be a legitimate part of the job. ]]]]]
Would you rather have us doing jewelry piece work for the city on our down time?

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

“This is a perfect example of your inaccuracies being posted as facts. There NEVER was any “overtime fraud scandal” on the Providence Fire Department. You state b/s as fact.” – Tom Kenney “PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Next to salaries, overtime is the biggest expense in the Providence Fire Department. So, to combat firefighters who fraudulently call out sick, the department hired a private investigator to follow firefighters out on questionable injury or sick leave. … “This wasn’t an easy decision for us to do this, it wasn’t an easy decision to say that we were gonna hire a private investigator to go out and look at people because we though that they were doing something that as was wrong,” Farrell said. … Farrell conceded most investigations do not lead to disciplinary action and no firefighters have been fired. However, he said there have been seven reprimands ranging from unpaid suspensions, sometimes up to 60 days, or demotions. He called the surveillance a “deterrent” Since the department hired the private investigator, Farrell said overtime costs have dropped seven figures, from $4.6 million to $3.6 million. “I think the numbers speak for themselves, there is no secret in this fire department as to what we are doing and that we are using a private investigator,” Farrell said. … City attorneys would not allow Target 12 to see the video surveillance, citing personnel reasons. However, Farrell said they’ve caught firefighters out on injury pay, moving furniture, mowing lawns or working another job.” Monday, 18 May 2009, 10:00 PM EDT Please, tell us again how this was a massive conspiracy against your department, Tom. We could all use another good laugh as you embarrass yourself further. As for asking for my name and place of residence, as much as I hate directing internet traffic… Read more »

Tom Kenney
Tom Kenney
10 years ago

Again…I don’t care who you are, I just think your posts would have more merit if they were signed.
As for your so-called overtime fraud scandal, look who gave the information. It’s the same chief who authorized the “demotions” of his friends.
Again…I know what’s going on there. You only know what’s being reported and much of what’s been reported are lies and exagerations.

Tom Kenney
Tom Kenney
10 years ago

[[[[[ Since the department hired the private investigator, Farrell said overtime costs have dropped seven figures, from $4.6 million to $3.6 million.
“I think the numbers speak for themselves, there is no secret in this fire department as to what we are doing and that we are using a private investigator,” Farrell said. ]]]]]
What Farel doesn’t mention in the news report but that I and others pointed out was that although the overtime costs dropped by $1 million the real reason was that 46 extra firefighters were hired during that period. That is what dropped the number of overtime hours needed to properly staff the department over that period.
See. You use things from reports or posts that are not accurate, and since you take these statements as “facts” your posts are inaccurate.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

“You only know what’s being reported and much of what’s been reported are lies and exagerations.”
I see, it’s the media. They’re all biased against you. Of course. And the fire chief is in on it. And the private investigators. And the photos of your station buddies defrauding the taxpayers must have been doctored.
You’ve got a quick little response for everything, don’t you, Tom? I’m noticing a pattern that it’s always “the other guy” who is lying about your little fraternity.

michael
michael
10 years ago

“A $66,796 pension for a position that requires a high school diploma or maybe a bachelors degree.
Outrageous and insulting.”
You are absolutely correct, Dan, that comment is outrageous and insulting. You must be one of them thar college edjumacated folk with no need for the little people. You own words say it all.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

I’m sorry if I offended you, Michael, but you should crack open a basic economics book sometime. No college tuition required.
Compensation should be set by market forces, to which qualifications and applicant pools matter a great deal. Not by whatever insider political backscratching resulted in these dime a dozen boobs getting $90-100k salaries w/full health benefits and $67k pensions for life.
I respect blue collar workers, but that doesn’t mean they should be paid the same as a doctor, business manager, or lawyer. That’s not elitism, that’s common sense.
If you don’t like it, go back to school. Or alternatively, stay in corrupt, unionized RI and keep making $100k as a public EMT.

Tom Kenney
Tom Kenney
10 years ago

[[[[[ I see, it’s the media. They’re all biased against you. ]]]]]
The media, in this case (fraudulent overtime scandal – as you dubbed it) ran the story based solely on Chief Farel’s accusations.
[[[[[ Of course. And the fire chief is in on it. And the private investigators. And the photos of your station buddies defrauding the taxpayers must have been doctored. ]]]]]
The chief never told the reporter that he had hired 46 additional firefighters during that time, did he? Do you think that would have made a seasoned reporter doubt the numbers Farel was feeding him?
As for photos, I know nothing about that other than there were supposedly a couple of photos of firefighters out and about while they were off sick. The Chief spent about $300,000 (as I recall, the exact amount could be a little higher or lower) of taxpayer money to investigate possible infractions of the rules and regulations by firefighters. I can tell you that the taxpayers lost money on that. There wasn’t $300,000 in savings on overtime as a result of the investigators.
But……..there’s not a doubt in my mind that you are going to say that this is b/s.
P.S. Although it may be frustrating debating you on the facts, Dan, it is also very easy. I have answers for everything because I know the facts and tell the truth.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

Debating Tom on firefighter issues is like debating a bad Monty Python sketch. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m tired of being the straight man to a caricature denying that the grass is green.

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

He’s pining, Dan.

skippy
skippy
10 years ago

prov fire only death in 66 years was a guy @ the public safty ofc,died of a heart attack while pushing papers around his desk.no autopsy released so we don`t know if he snorted too many lines being board you know!and the fire truck with stacks of jeans supposedly blown in the windows when world trade cntr collapsed perfectly stacked behind drivers seat settled out of court after weeks of trials looked bad for so called heros. one clothing store in a 100 story building blew into that one truck nothing outside on the ground(hole in one)~~ 3 dead in old mill fire mass,autopsies showed all either drunk or on high quantities cocaine both past legal limits,stoped releasing results after that one.. after 24yrs 64k yr, minus $800 month heath benefits cost. 60hr avg work week, pension will be $29,893 half of most u guys overtime in 1 week, I hope these retirees get to meet you. good luck in all future travel.
really hope to see you and your cop friends in retirement. maybe play some cards you can buy the drinks. someday

Tom Kenney
Tom Kenney
10 years ago

skippy:
You are a piece of dirt!!! No need to respond beyond that except to say that did you realize you’re posting on Anchor Rising? I understand that your regular blog is “rants & raves” on craigslist!

Ballbag
Ballbag
10 years ago

Hey Dan
If we get paid SOOOO well……Our pensions are SOOOOO good…..our job isnt dangerous…..you dont need any schooling……..then i invite you to take the next entry level exam for the PFD (as i am sure you will have no problem with seeing the rocket science you seem to portray). Leave the comfort of your pencil pushing office and the safety of your laptop/pc, and come out and give it a wirl. I would LOVE to catch a ripping fire with you and see how far you make it. Or when you have to pick up pieces of a body from an accident of some sort, feel assured one of us will rub your hair as you are hurling from the sights and smells…… As you put it, we are way over paid and compensated for our work, you would be a fool not to get in on it wouldnt you????? Some people talk…..some people work. I will not debate issues, i instead invite you to become one of us and see just how far you would make it, im guessing, not past the front door.

Jared Scolaro
Jared Scolaro
10 years ago

Hello Dan, I happen to be a “dime a dozen boob” that went to college on full scholarship and hold 2 bachelors degrees, you know what the means, nothing. You seem to put a lot of stock into college and feel you are better than people who do not attend it because you obviously have. I could not disagree more. I have met many people on and off the job who did not go to college and are much smarter than I am. By the way one of my degrees is history so I have cracked a book on basic economics and your principles are way off. Those firefighters that make 90k are working 75-80 hours a week. How many hours a week do you work? Most likely 40. Well how much would your salary be if you worked 35 hours of overtime a week. Or maybe I am misunderstanding you, maybe you are saying the city shouldnt fill the overtime spots in the city each day. Thats fine, as long as you dont mind waiting 20 minutes for help to get there when you call 911. Also you keep repeating 66k pension over and over and representing it as a firefighters pension. We receive pensions based on our base salary only, no overtime. As Capt. Kenney stated, at 32 years and being a Captain, the rank directly below chief, he will only recieve a 45k pension. Thats for a Captain, not a firefighter, we receive much less. As to your complaint about us sleeping and working out at work, I only have this to say. One of our trucks did almost 6,000 runs this year, averaging about 16 per day. Each run takes approximately an hour, which leaves 8 hours left to clean the truck, the station, eat (believe… Read more »

Dennis Tucker
Dennis Tucker
10 years ago

Hi, I have read some of the past posts, and would like to add my thoughts. I am a lieutenant with over 22 years with the Providence Fire Department. Yes, I do realize that I am : A) Lucky to have a job, and B) Have a job that I enjoy going to and doing. It is rewarding, but it isn’t firefighting that you see from Hollywoods version. And, I do not have a degree, though I have some college. I served in the Air Force for 4 years before taking the test to get on. Dan stated tht we shouldn’t make as much as Dr.’s etc…and I agree. Though, keep in mind the hours of training required to become an EMT, then more hours to become a Cardiac level EMT..meaning, you can give certain drugs. My point being, we are the 1st persons on scene, and initiate life saving actions, long before that person sees a doctor. I lost count of all the shooting victims, stabbings, accident fatalities, fire fatalities, occupational accidents….i lost count, but have not forgotten them. Too many, too young. Dan, you raise question over the title of Tom’s book. I dont think there are many, if any of us who consider ourselves “heros”. A NY City firefighter, after 9/11, phrased it how I see it. We are just ordinary guys(and women) whos job puts us in extraordinary circumstances. Nothing more, certainly nothing less. I say that only because there have been a few times in my 22 years, that I wasn’t sure if I was going home again, see my daughters again.How many times have you said at work..”am I going to die right here?”…or see a young girl, my daughter’s age, who suffered a catastophic injury…see, its not only the physical demands of the… Read more »

Dennis Tucker
Dennis Tucker
10 years ago

Hi, I have read some of the past posts, and would like to add my thoughts. I am a lieutenant with over 22 years with the Providence Fire Department. Yes, I do realize that I am : A) Lucky to have a job, and B) Have a job that I enjoy going to and doing. It is rewarding, but it isn’t firefighting that you see from Hollywoods version. And, I do not have a degree, though I have some college. I served in the Air Force for 4 years before taking the test to get on. Dan stated tht we shouldn’t make as much as Dr.’s etc…and I agree. Though, keep in mind the hours of training required to become an EMT, then more hours to become a Cardiac level EMT..meaning, you can give certain drugs. My point being, we are the 1st persons on scene, and initiate life saving actions, long before that person sees a doctor. I lost count of all the shooting victims, stabbings, accident fatalities, fire fatalities, occupational accidents….i lost count, but have not forgotten them. Too many, too young. Dan, you raise question over the title of Tom’s book. I dont think there are many, if any of us who consider ourselves “heros”. A NY City firefighter, after 9/11, phrased it how I see it. We are just ordinary guys(and women) whos job puts us in extraordinary circumstances. Nothing more, certainly nothing less. I say that only because there have been a few times in my 22 years, that I wasn’t sure if I was going home again, see my daughters again.How many times have you said at work..”am I going to die right here?”…or see a young girl, my daughter’s age, who suffered a catastophic injury…see, its not only the physical demands of the… Read more »

Aaron
Aaron
10 years ago

I wonder how much Dan would like you guys to make? I’m sure he doesn’t care just as long as it’s not as much as him, after all he is so educated…. Anyway, recently we had to call the PFD for a medical call. The Engine showed up first, and one of the guys was the biggest a-hole I have ever met in my life. Gee buddy, sorry I bothered you and called 911… Everyone else, including the rescue guys were very helpful and respectful. Fire and Police are an essential public service, and are extremely cheap when looked at as a percentage of the budget. Education takes up most of the tax money. As someone who has just dipped my toes in city government, I also know that it is cheaper to pay someone overtime than it is to hire another person to fill those hours. I also don’t believe that a benefit should be taken away from someone because not everyone has it. If you have it Great! if not find a job that has benefits you like. I don’t have a pension, I had one, but I left that job for one paying a lot more money. Relax Dan, if you want a pension, find a job that has one.

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