Tuesday, January 29, 2008



Providence Department Heads’ Salaries

While it appears on the surface that a suggestion by the Editorial writers of ProJo for their readership to read and familiarize themselves with the individual union labor contracts that affect their cities and towns (Say No To No-Shows) is a good idea, I believe this is actually another ploy to deflect attention from what is a much larger financial problem for these cities and towns – particularly Providence. Exorbitant salaries (and hidden bonuses) paid to political cronies who have been awarded positions as department heads within the administrations of mayors and town managers. Expensive political payoffs.

In Providence, for instance, I would like to see an article in the Providence Journal which “correctly” reports the salaries, benefits, perks and bonuses of the mayor’s Chief of Administration (recently resigned), Chief of Police and Chief of Department of the Fire Department. I would also like to see a comparison to the salaries of the former holders of those positions, as well as the salaries of similar positions in other cities of comparable size. I believe that the contracts of Providence’s police, firefighters, teachers and laborers are matters of public record. Anyone with the desire to learn ‘all’ the details of these contracts can locate copies of these documents with minimal effort. Not so with the secret details of compensation for John Simmons, Dean Esserman or George Farrell – not to mention other key players and department heads in Mayor Cicilline’s Administration.

These individuals have been over-generously (in my opinion) rewarded for their efforts on behalf of the citizens of Providence. By nature of these exorbitant salaries given them by Cicilline, it logically follows that their loyalties will be to the mayor – even at the expense of the taxpayers. The contracts of those other key players in his administration should also be brought to light, in the name of full disclosure. The fact that many of these players are allowed to ‘buy into’ pension plans which are meant for life-long city employees should be calculated into their compensation also – it’s one thing for a 25 or 30-year employee to collect a pension from the city, but quite another when someone who works for 5 or 10 years is allowed to collect an even larger pension (due to higher salary levels) from the same pension system.

Tom Kenney