An Illustration of RI’s Advantaged Class in Cranston

Like the swapping of high-paying public jobs for the sons of union leaders, the fact that Cranston is currently paying $67,107-86,778 annual pensions to six former police chiefs feels emblematic of the state’s broader systemic corruption:

In the past 20 years, Cranston has hired — and retired — six police chiefs.
Most served three years or less at the helm of the Cranston Police Department and they ranged in age from 48 to 51 when they retired. Their pensions are based on their salaries on the day they retired — with no minimum tenure or averaging of final years of pay.
The retirements placed six top-salaried employees on Cranston’s pension payroll with guaranteed minimum 3-percent cost-of-living raises each year for life.

There is clearly a class that lords it over Rhode Island. Get into the club, and you’re set for life. Otherwise, you’ll spend your years in the state with a target on your back… or rather, on your wallet. All but one of these ostensible community leaders retired in his 40s.

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John
John
10 years ago

My real problem with this story is that it comes very close to implying that the rest of us will be forced to bail out Cranston’s corrupt pension practices because their poor property tax payers can’t afford the bill! Let them pay their own way if they want to give away pensions like candy on Halloween.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

Fixing Rhode Island’s cyclic financial problems at this end-game point in time is like trying to remove a horned toad that has inflated itself in crack deep between two jagged desert rocks while it bites and hisses and squirts defensive blood at you out of its eyes. Any herpetologist knows that once it has retreated in there, it’s too late and it’s time to move on to another location. Lots of other states to choose from in the United States. Correcting this particular problem is especially troublesome because the police, fire, and military forces have so thoroughly brainwashed the population into thinking they are part of a noble templar order for whom no amount of compensation can ever equal their sacrifice. The children’s propaganda is especially troubling: pick up a book sometime and you’ll see the cop/fireman portrayed in the same light as aryan superman propaganda (“Mr. Policeman is our friend. He takes the bad men away, keeps us safe, and got Kitty out of the tree.” Usually it’s written by an ex-member of the profession. I was shocked once to find that out of group of 4 brilliant law students with whom I was working, every one of them believed that cops should be able to arrest people simply for mouthing off to them. They were all well-aware of First Amendment freedom of speech, they simply didn’t care because police officers are supposed to “command respect.” The fire “brotherhood” is the least invidious of the three, because they possess no real power over your person. The worst you’ll have to deal with is some joker like Tom Kenney calling your work or business partners and threatening your livelihood. Criticize the police “brotherhood” and you could literally end up incarcerated or dead, with the officer responsible put on paid leave… Read more »

Monique
Editor
10 years ago

” All but one of these ostensible community leaders retired in his 40s.”
Wow.
Now multiply that by tens (hundreds?) of thousands of “retired” teachers, firefighters and police officers and you start to get how we racked up a state and local unfunded pension liability of (correct me if this is wrong) $11 billion.
It is absurd that a “retiree” can start collecting before age 65. The selfishness, shortsightedness and stupidity of the elected officials who implemented this term is breath-taking.

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

“The selfishness, shortsightedness and stupidity of the elected officials who implemented this term is breath-taking.”
No, what’s even moreso is the fact that it’s not fixed already. Clearly some people (Mayor Fung??) don’t have a problem with it.

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
10 years ago

No, what’s even moreso is the fact that it’s not fixed already. Clearly some people (Mayor Fung??) don’t have a problem with it.
Posted by Patrick at April 26, 2011 9:04 AM
Anyone really think that Warwick, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, Providence, W. Warwick, etc. are in any better shape?
Local governments have amply shown their incompetence and collusion with the union pigs. We need statewide legislation-everybody works till 62 (just like the rest of us) and gets SS plus a 3% 401k….Period.
If you claim your “disabled” you apply for SSDI and deal with the strict eligibility and income limits of that program-just like the rest of us.
See-real simple.

Max Diesel
Max Diesel
10 years ago

Dan said:
“because the police, fire, and military forces have so thoroughly brainwashed the population into thinking they are part of a noble templar order for whom no amount of compensation can ever equal their sacrifice.”
Some serious bitterness their Dan. You can’t blame the cops, firemen, and military for being put on a pedestal. If there is any misplaced adoration, only society is to blame for we put them there.
Secondly, you can’t blame someone for protecting that which was promised them. It’s only human nature and that goes for all public employees.
The focus of your bitterness should be on those that made the promises and those that won’t address the problem. There’s plenty of them to go around. Public employees will need to take a hit but they don’t have to like it.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

“Some serious bitterness their Dan. You can’t blame the cops, firemen, and military for being put on a pedestal. If there is any misplaced adoration, only society is to blame for we put them there.” I blame both there, Max. The public is ultimately responsible for the authoritarian hero-worship of uniforms, badges, and militaristic job titles, but many in the professions do everything within their power to further the mythology that surrounds them. Ever hear the “While everyone else is running out, we are running in” fireman psalm? Tell me that doesn’t have an intentionally religious-like tone to it. An individual I work with told me that he used to be in the Fire Service. Seriously, the “Fire Service”? Providence Firefighter Tom Kenney even wrote a book called “Working Class Hero.” I’m sure he’ll be happy to explain to you how it’s actually an exercise in modesty, but I think the intended effect is pretty obvious. “The focus of your bitterness should be on those that made the promises and those that won’t address the problem.” The people who made the promises are long dead or retired. That’s part of the kick the can game. Those who won’t address the problem claim that they can’t, and those in the professions fight reform every step of the way. It’s not about “blame” for me, it’s about correcting the problem. If they are obstructing our efforts to do so, then they are part of the problem, regardless of whether it’s human nature as you say, or whether they are really to “blame” or not. Don’t fool yourself – the self-created propaganda and mythology surrounding these professions is a monumental obstacle to overcome if we are going to set ourselves on a solvent financial path. It’s a phenomenal public relations tool in their… Read more »

Andrew
Editor
10 years ago

Dan,
That you don’t like the fact that your professional guild doesn’t hold the level of public prestige that you think it should, especially relative to the other guilds in society, isn’t a signficant problem in the least.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

Andrew, I don’t care in the slightest what people think of my profession, and if it were up to me then I wouldn’t be a part of any “guild.” I don’t get my rocks off parading around like I’m some sort of hero – I do the work because I find it interesting and I’m told that I’m good at it. That’s it. I don’t think I’m better than any cop or fireman, and they certainly aren’t better than I am. We’re all just doing a job to get by and it’s sad that many in our society can’t understand that.
Let’s see if you think what I am describing is a problem the next time one of these public unions accuses you in the Providence Journal of stealing hard-earned benefits from the heroes of our society who keep us safe every day. Accusing you of endangering babies and grandmothers, etc. It’s sad, but people actually buy into this rhetoric. Their propaganda is effective and it needs to be torn down. We can only deal with these individuals on a level basis and come up with real budget solutions when they are treated as simple professionals to be negotiated with, not as templar of the holy order. You can’t negotiate with saints.

michael
michael
10 years ago

It’s okay, Andrew, we put ourselves in harms way on purpose to further the hero illusion to provide a smokescreen and distraction for the Dans of the world so that their own insecurities and self image problems keeps them busy so we can get on with things.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

Michael, would you care to explain how advocating for respecting everyone’s career choices and not elevating certain professions to holy status above others is indicative of a “self-image problem”? I should think that anybody arguing against such a worldview would be guilty of what you are describing. I want people to be respected and treated equally, and I never once brought up my own profession as a topic. If you honestly think that I am jealous of your profession then you are the one who desperately needs to get over himself. I don’t see any reason why I couldn’t have been a cop or a fireman if I had chosen that path out of high school. Of course you’ll say it’s because I’m a “coward” or “couldn’t hack it” or some such nonsense, which is exactly the attitude problem that I’m talking about.

michael
michael
10 years ago

No, Dan I wouldn’t care to explain, the explanation is abundantly clear in your words, thank you very much.

OldTimeLefty
10 years ago

Dan,
Your holy grail seems to be a career. Day laborers and grunts don’t have careers; they have jobs. You never seem to give a thought to someone who is a short order cook or hotel maid, who is not unionized, and has no chance or desire to establish anything remotely like a “career”.
You treat these people like pariahs, ignored and forgotten and you cry bleeding heart when someone speaks or acts on their behalf.
F@#k you carrerists. Life is a hell of a lot bigger than a career. Try getting out of your cocoon.
OldTimeLefty

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

OTL – FYI, most people today use the term “career” to describe any long-term job. My use of the term was not an act of condescension, although I can understand how being out of touch with the rest of humanity for so many years could lead you to that inaccurate conclusion, as well as many others. My grandfather and uncle were both laborers, and I assisted them on many of their jobs during high school. You don’t have the first clue as to how I treat short order cooks. Unlike racist, classist, hypocritical progressives like yourself, I treat all people equally at first encounter and I don’t classify people as helpless victims simply because of their immutable characteristics or choice of jobs.

sierra1
sierra1
10 years ago

The pension system is broken for one reason and one reason only. Your elected officials failed to make required contributions as they were contractually obligated to do. In some cases they not only failed to make contributions, they withdrew funds from the pension accounts to pay for other things. Its that simple. In all my years in a public sector union I’ve never failed to make my required payments toward my pension. The same can’t be said for the government I work for.
In the 80’s and 90’s when the private sector was making money hand over fist nobody gave a @#$% how little the police/fire were making. Nor did we complain. We made enough to live a comfortable middle class life. Now elitists like Dan want to take that from us. During that time your elected officials told us there was no money for raises so we went several years without. In exchange we were promised security down the road. I don’t recall any complaining from your ilk back then. So, when youe elected officials should have been living up to their contract obligations they were spending the money on other things, some important, most others just politically important.
What it comes down to for those like Dan who feel superior to those of us with lowly public service jobs is jealousy. He is high and mighty and should have better than the lowly serfs. His 401k probably tanked a few years ago but I should give up my pension and jump in with him.
Should there be meaningful discussion on fixing the pension system, yes of course, we all know its broken, but you can’t blame the workers and it shouldn’t be fixed at our expense.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

“What it comes down to for those like Dan who feel superior to those of us with lowly public service jobs is jealousy. He is high and mighty and should have better than the lowly serfs. His 401k probably tanked a few years ago but I should give up my pension and jump in with him.”
Sierra – you are a blathering fool and you could use some adult education classes on reading comprehension. I am under 30 and I work for government. Everything you wrote about me is not only inaccurate, it is 100% in opposition to the facts. Post a retraction or forever be memorialized in this comment thread as a shameless public union shill willing to libel anyone who stands in your self-interested path.
While you’re at it, please quote a single statement of mine that you can point to as “elitist.” All I’ve advocated for is EQUAL treatment of career choices, which is the opposite of elitism by definition. If you want to see who the real elitists are, go knocking on Russ and OldTimeLefty’s doors.

Phil
Phil
10 years ago

“I am under 30 and I work for government.”
This is why I give Dan a pass. He is impassioned and has a curious mind, but he lacks experience. That is not a criticism, just fact. There is no one under the age of 30 that can say anything of value to those like Michael that has spent nearly 2/3s of Dan’s life doing an extremely difficult and taxing job of being a city rescue worker. I think that with time and experience Dan will come to realize the important contribution that those like Michael have made to the safety infrastructure in this country.

seirra1
seirra1
10 years ago

Dan-I think my BA and JD (which I paid for myself prior to entering public employment) should cover the need for any further continuing ed. courses. That’s just your elitist attitude kicking in, you don’t agree with me therefore I’m an uneducated dolt and need to go reading comprehension classes.
You don’t need to print something outright for it to be properly inferred from what you said. Just because you are on opposite ends of the political spectrum as OTL and Russ doesn’t mean you can’t be as big of a condescending ass as they are!
As for being a union shill-not a chance, I think they’ve mostly gone too far and outlived their useful purpose in most cases. They protect the small number of people who should probably be fired, they infringe on things that should be left to management. All in all I’m probably more conservative than you, however, I don’t think it fair that we’ve played by the rules all along, your elected officials haven’t, but your willing to trade in our security over it. If the shoe was on the other foot you wouldn’t stand for it either. Now, back to the Bruins!

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

Sierra – I suggested reading comprehension classes not because I think you are uneducated, but because you took such outrageous liberty with the limited facts you had before you that your multiple assertions about me turned out to be 100%, incontrovertibly false. Now you simply pretend like it didn’t happen and you committed no errors. Why don’t you have some integrity and admit that you were wrong? The entire basis of your above post is complete BS based upon your wrongful assumptions about me. You’re going to just let them stand? That’s irresponsible.
You put yourself through law school… congratulations, join the club. The difference between us is that I actually listened when my law professors taught me not to make wild assumptions about things and people I know nothing about. You do, and look where it got you – stuck in a hole you can’t dig yourself out of.
I am still WAITING patiently for you to quote any earlier statement of mine that proves I am “elitist.” You can’t, because your entire argument is based on nothing except your own libel and imagination. No facts are in the record that support anything you’ve asserted. Have some dignity and admit that much.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

So not only is Phil racist and classist, he now reveals himself to be ageist as well. Phil, if you judged people by who they are instead of what they are, as I do, then you’d quickly realize what insufferable and prejudiced company you keep with the other progressives on this blog. I’d bet that at least 1/3 of the people who programmed the software you are using right now are younger than I am, but no, you’re right – nobody under 30 has anything of value to offer. Once they turn 30, they magically turn into sages who can participate in the public debate.

Phil
Phil
10 years ago

It hit home.

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

Phil’s comment above is about as accurate as Charlie Sheen’s claim that he is “winning.”

Phil
Phil
10 years ago

You can always count on BobN for an on topic “adult” comment.

Phil
Phil
10 years ago

Back to the Bruins.

seirra1
seirra1
10 years ago

Dan-what course in law school taught you that you “shouldn’t make wild assumptions about things and people we know nothing about.” That’s a life lesson, one I’ve learned over and over again. It’s sort of like common sense-you’re not going to learn it from a book or a lecturer.
As its been pointed out by others in this thread your attitude towards police and fire seems bitter and condescending. Why? I don’t know that’s for you to figure out. Perhaps a visit to your local police station, a ride-along some night in a local city. Hop in the jump seat of Michael’s rig for a tour. It may open your eyes to what they do on a daily basis. I don’t think the rank and file are going to tell you we’re heroes. We do a difficult job, we enjoy it, then we go home to our families like everyone else.
Now, if I offended you by using the word elitist, which you seem to equate with OTL and Russ, then I apologize for the poor or improper use of the term.
I’ve been a long time fan of Anchor Rising and the only thing that turns my stomach more than an OTL liberal rant is when two people hijack a thread on an important topic and turn it into a personal pissing contest. So how about we move on to more important things.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

A half-assed apology if I’ve ever heard one, but I’ll accept it.
Please try to be more accurate in the future.

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

“Your elected officials failed to make required contributions as they were contractually obligated to do. In some cases they not only failed to make contributions, they withdrew funds from the pension accounts to pay for other things. ”
Sierra, I’ve asked this question before and it hasn’t been answered. If these politicians didn’t make their contractually obligated payments to the system, why didn’t your union sue them to do so, as the Providence Firefighters did last year? Does the union’s job end when the contract is signed, or should they also be making sure, even to the point of litigation, that the politicians are also living up to their end of the deal? Is there any criticism for the union leadership who didn’t look out for the rank and file in this way?

OldTimeLefty
10 years ago

Dan, first off an apology for poor wording on my part. When I said that “you treat these people like pariahs”, I was not clear. I was referencing your politics which treats the poor like pariahs. How you relate personally, I have no idea. Hope that clears that up. Now, Once more into the breach: Dan says, “most people today use the term ‘career’ to describe any long-term job.” Dan, in case you haven’t looked lately the labor market is suffering because there aren’t many long-term jobs or “careers” for laborers. I see this as a problem; do you? Dan says that I am “out of touch with the rest of humanity for so many years…” Dan I speak English, Spanish, a bit of Italian and can read Attic Greek. In addition to conducting weekly seminars in Classical Studies at our local Senior Center, I also teach non-native English speakers English as a Second Language. Twice weekly, I share laughs, snacks and classroom banter with Southeast Asians, South Americans and Caribbean natives who work in factories around the state. We are on a first name basis and while I am the teacher I try to bring social leveling into all of my work. So your calling me out of touch with the rest of humanity is based on what? You have no idea of who I am. Such prejudgment on your part merits the term “prejudice.” You accuse Phil of ageism and jump right into it yourself with an unfounded “out of touch” remark. I don’t think that your problem stems from age, I think that it stems from stupidity. Your grandfather and your uncle are before you today, different names, different faces, same life problems. Once you realize this you will have taken the first steps towards what will… Read more »

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

Enough of the Leftist idiots preening their egos. I notice that they offer nothing on the topic, which is systematic abuse of the pension system by career “public servants”.
A few questions come to mind:
1. Can’t Cranston hire a competent, committed Fire Chief for more than three years at a time? This fact alone leads me to suspect dirty dealing. The Captain of my fire company just retired after 19 years in the position – and he gets no pension at all, because we’re all volunteers.
2. Why would the politicians agree to such outrageous pension terms, if not to curry political favor with the IAFF and FOP?
3. Why haven’t the citizens of Cranston risen up and put a stop to this abuse of their tax dollars?

michael
michael
10 years ago

Dan is under 30? Well, that explains a lot. I honestly thought I was provoking somebody my own age. I can only imagine what he will have become when he gets here.
Bitter, cynical and condescending is no way to spend your life, Dan.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

“Dan is under 30? Well, that explains a lot.”
Another ageist exposed. Tell me, Michael, at what arbitrary number should I be taken seriously and judged on my merits?
Convenient how you can simply discount a quarter of the US population according to an immutable characteristic. I’ve already been told by progressives that I don’t get to have an opinion on race relations because I’m white, gender issues because I’m male, and poverty issues because my family was middle class. Now I don’t get to have any opinions at all because I’m under 30.
Do you consider yourself a fair person?

michael
michael
10 years ago

Talk to me in twenty years or after you have raised a family, Dan. You will be surprised how much you grow up.
I have a lot of respect and admiration for people in their twenties, until they prove unworthy of that respect. You joined that club a while ago.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

Michael thought all this time he was speaking with somebody his own age. Now he tells me to come back “in 20 years” after I “grow up.” But before I told him my age, he admits that he believed I was the same age as he. If Michael is so much wiser than I am, why can’t he see the blatantly obvious logical inconsistency and prejudicial treatment that he is committing here?

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

After reading his comments for years, you expect logical consistency from Michael?
You must be joking.
I think Michael is a fine guy but on political issues he is very confused. He probably had too much Marxist Kool-Aid before he turned thirty.

michael
michael
10 years ago

Actually, Dan, I thought you were a fifty year old idiot. I have a little more tolerance for you now.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

I see, Michael. So a person’s “backstory” and their immutable characteristics, such as age, determine how you treat that individual.
I reiterate: do you consider yourself a fair and unprejudiced person? Is this the type of wisdom you hope that I develop over the next “20 years”?

michael
michael
10 years ago

Dan, I don’t have any hope for you. You are just some pixels on a screen that I have formed a picture in my mind as a person, turns out, that picture was false. I can’t remember the specifics, but I do remember that for whatever reason you, or your on-line persona managed to irritate me enough to elicit a response. I don’t put that much time or effort into those responses, just a little brain candy when I prepare to write something worthwhile, certainly not in the comments section of a blog.

seirra 1
seirra 1
10 years ago

Patrick-Yes, the union has brought up the fact that the government had not been making their required pension contributions. I don’t know if it was an arbitrator or a judge who determined that the government didn’t have to make the payments if they didn’t have the money. Of course, all they had to do was say they didn’t have the money and that was good enough. I will look into more and find out the particulars.

michael
michael
10 years ago

“I think Michael is a fine guy but on political issues he is very confused. He probably had too much Marxist Kool-Aid before he turned thirty.”
Actually, I was a Reagan Republican who idealized Howard Roarke and John Galt before I turned thirty.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
10 years ago

Phil-I happen to like and respect Michael and any fireman who turns to and does their job.I believe Michael 100% when he says he worked while injured.I did too.(Although Federal injured on duty and disability are about as good as breathing pure acetelyne)and Dan IS young,but what are you saying?
I grew up real fast as a 22 year old Sergeant in Vietnam-and I wasn’t a combat soldier-just a mechanic,but I knew peoples’ lives depended on our ability to accomplish EVERY mission successfully.And I did fly on quite a few of those.
My cousin,Calvin Ginsberg,was a Marine
Recon Sergeant when he was about 20 years old.Responsibility can come early on Phil.

UmpWuggly
UmpWuggly
9 years ago

To Seirra and Patrick: It was a judge that determined the Union’s case in the mid-’70’s. The judge stated that as long as pensions were being paid the union didn’t have a case.
Remember that it was the municipalities that wanted, and offered pensions so they wouldn’t have to pay into SS. The Federal Government would have made them pay. With them in control of pension money, the politicians could line their pockets get out and let someone else deal with it.
This was not the workers fault. ENRON executives went to jail for taking worker’s money.

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