The editors of the Providence Journal — “Cianci’s pension disaster” — remind us that while being a twice-convicted felon who once ran City Hall as a criminal enterprise should be reason enough not to reelect Cianci, don’t forget how terrible he was at actually running the city. Hizzoner’s short-term political goals always took precedence over the future fiscal well-being of the city.
Amazingly, he recently proclaimed on a recent WPRI-TV “Newsmakers” that he had always paid pension obligations in full. The Journal looked into it.
In truth, city records show that, under Cianci, the city grossly underpaid what was needed to cover pension costs.
Providence paid a woeful 54 percent in fiscal year 1995; 93.6 percent in 1997; 57.5 percent in 1998; 56.2 percent in 1999; 60 percent in 2000; 60.6 percent in 2001; and 64.2 percent in 2002.
By the time Cianci had shifted his residence to the federal penitentiary, the city was groaning under massive pension debt, with only $335 million of the $899 million required in fiscal 2003.
Cianci’s successors were left with the excruciating and thankless task of moving those annual funding percentages back up in a tough economy. It is no wonder PolitiFact rated Cianci’s claim “false.”
We are still hobbled by the pension debt that exploded under his watch; it nearly sent this city into bankruptcy. We are still crawling out of the hole he dug for us.
(How bad are the pensions? C. Eugene Emery Jr. has the depressing details in “PolitiFact rules Elorza claim on $17,000-a-month Providence pension True.”)