To the Editor:
In last week’s mail, I found a leaflet that was sent to my home from Stacia Petri, who is running in the Republican primary to be the next mayor of our great city. Upon review of its contents, I decided to send it back to her with a few comments rather than simply discarding it. I thought that she might find my comments helpful.
Although much information was included in the leaflet, its presentation is misleading, and quite inaccurate, at best. I would expect that she would be more forthcoming with her presentation, so that the average voter can make an informed decision based on the facts about which candidate has the true leadership qualities necessary to effectively manage our city.
As the current chairman of the City Municipal Retirement Board, I can assure you that her assertion that the “city books” need to be “open to promote transparency” is in direct conflict with the fact that the Retirement Board is in continued compliance with the State Open Meetings Law. Every meeting of the Municipal Retirement Board is properly posted as required and open to the public. In spite of that, it is an extremely rare instance that any members of the pension system – whether current employees or retirees – attend a meeting. In addition, in all of my years of service on the Board, I have never been approached outside of a meeting by a single member of the system with a question or a concern. And as I am sure Ms. Petri is aware, all of the current and past members of the system are represented on the Board by individual representatives, including retirees and the unions.
Ms. Petri also makes reference to “bringing in professionals to expose unsustainable costs.” I have the pleasure and the honor of serving on this Board with a group of extremely dedicated and conscientious individuals of the utmost integrity and professionalism. Ms. Petri’s implication that the members of the Board are anything less than professional is offensive and insulting. Additionally, the city, through an approved process, with the advice of the Board, retains actuaries and investment advisors of the highest caliber to assist with the execution of our fiduciary responsibility to the city, the taxpayers, and the members of the pension system.
The recent pension reforms enacted by the state of Rhode Island were actually drafted in part using the city of Warwick system as a model. The Warwick retirement system consists of four separate plans. Three of these plans are the highest ranked among all of the municipal plans in the state of Rhode Island. If I were a city employee – past or present – I would take great comfort in knowing that the city of Warwick Municipal Retirement Plan has been well managed. The facts speak for themselves.
Ms. Petri also makes mention in the leaflet that the city is burdened by a “BILLION dollar debt problem.” Perhaps in the next leaflet that she sends to the residents of the city, she could clearly explain how she arrived at that number. Her answer to that question at the mayoral debate last Friday left me wondering. Her numbers just didn’t add up.
I would suggest that Ms. Petri verify her sources before continuing to publish such misinformation. At some point, she may find herself in the uncomfortable position of having to prove the assertions that are being made.
City of Warwick
Municipal Retirement Board