Emilio Navarro, Endorsed Democrat, Ward 2

Emilio Navarro has lived in Cranston since 1997 and is employed by Colony Ford Commercial Truck Sales. He is pictured above with his wife, Yvette, and their children, Casey, Austin, and Marcus.

School Funding

1. The school department, which got a 7% increase in funding from the city this year, is still short $2.6 million for the 2006/2007 budget after receiving its state aid. In January of 2007, they approach the city council and ask for $2.6 million from the city’s surplus in order to cover their costs. As a member of the council, how would you deal with this request?

I would think a request of 2.6 million from the city’s surplus in January 2007 would be way too late. The school department should be level funded come January 2007. But if this were not the case, I feel a plan should be implemented to prevent such a request in the future. The plan would call for the school department, the administration, school committee and city council to collaborate, work together, as opposed to each body working in a vacuum, to see that our children’s schools get level funding or the appropriate money to fund the school budget each and every year. With everyone’s input, the budget should come to the city council ready for approval.

School Closings

2. Although next year’s school budget is funded with another 7% increase from the city, they still do not have enough money to cover their costs and announce that they are going to have to close Daniel D. Waterman Elementary school unless the city comes up with more money for the schools. How would you handle this?

I am never pleased to see and hear about school closings in my neighborhood and I believe no educators like to see it as well. Our school committee officials are the body that decides whether schools are opened or closed. In a case of opting to close Daniel D. Waterman Elementary school, I don’t see that as an option to save the school department money. In fact, it would cost the school department more, because they would have to build a new school to replace it. We will always need a school like Waterman in our area.

Police Contract

3. In March of 2007, the new Mayor announces that he has reached a contract with the police department, long overdue from 2006. This contract includes yearly raises of 3.5%, 4.5% and 4% for each year of the three-year contract. There is a 3% copay for healthcare. There are no provisions for increasing the number of officers or for minority recruitment, although both were recommended in a 2003 audit. Would you approve this contract?

I would not make any decisions based on recommendations made in a 2003 audit that was deemed inconclusive by the Auditor General for the State of Rhode Island. With that said, I am not opposed to yearly raises on any contract but I am not sure if 3.5%, 4.5% and 4.0% is the best way for the city to budget the increases. I would want to look at all the options to best structure the increases. For example, it might be better for the city to have a level increase for the three years, 4% each year in order to make it easier for the city to stay in line with the budget over that three-year period.

Floods

4. 2007 brings more floods, including flooding again on Fordson Ave and some surrounding areas. Would you advocate for the city to help residents in flooded areas? If so, what kind of help?

Absolutely, I would advocate for the city to help residents in flooded areas. I would like to see the city set up an emergency fund in case of disasters, such as hurricanes and floods. The City could tap into this emergency fund to help families with food and shelter. The city should also be prepared to handle families that will be displaced from their homes and have affordable temporary shelter for them. For example, the city should have arrangements at the local hotels for families at a discounted rate.

Federal Funding

5. The New Mayor announces that he has gotten letters from Rep. Langevin and Sen. XXX asking if there are projects that the city would like to seek federal funds to pursue. These include projects for economic development, parks and facilities improvement, safety, education, and social services. What projects, if any, would you suggest for Ward 2, or for the city as a whole?

I would submit for the city to pursue federal funds for projects that would help alleviate the flooding problem we now have in Ward 2. I would want the projects to include finding ways to prevent the flooding that goes on in the Fordson and Davis Ave area. Examples may be building a pump station or spending the money in fixing local drains and keeping drains in those affected areas clear to prevent backup. Also, there are several streets like Aqueduct that are frequented by children because of the recreational facility and by having speed bumps to slow traffic down would help with the safety concerns of most residents.

More information on Emilio Navarro is available at his campaign website.

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23 thoughts on “Emilio Navarro, Endorsed Democrat, Ward 2

  1. IMHO, Mr Navarro’s opinions are sound. However, they are also much more theoretical than were Mr Lucas’ answers. For example, I grant that the various bodies should work together to create a workable budget for the schools. That’s a good theoretical answer. Why aren’t they doing so? That’s the difference between having an idea and being able to hit the ground running when one assumes office.

    The answer about Waterman school is similar: no one (theoretically) wants to close schools, but the reality is that it happens. Rather than discuss how we need a school in the area, how do we actually ensure that it remains open?

    Again, no disrepect for Mr Navarro. I believe he would sincerely work to the best of his ability to help run the city in a sound manner. My opinion is simply that Mr Lucas is better prepared right now. Not to say that Mr Navarro couldn’t catch up, but the point is that there would be a longer learning curve for Mr Navarro, and who knows what will pop up? Having the knowledge going in is, I believe, a significant benefit for Mr Lucas.

  2. Mr. Navarro is exactly the kind of leadership we need in Cranston. He is a new face in the political arena that can reach across the table to build relationships regardless of party affiliations or School Committee vs City Council. It is going to take a leader like Mr. Navarro to reach out to the “various bodies” to create a workable budget for the school department. Why isn’t it being done? The answer is simple. Perhaps, to date, no one person has been able to bridge the gap between these governing bodies. So, you see, Mr. Navarro’s answer is not theoretical because he knows he is not afraid to reach across the table and/or party lines to get things done for Cranston families. Working together is what has made Cranston National Budlong Little League the model for all of Cranston to follow, under the presidency of Mr. Navarro. As far as Waterman School closing, it is simply not going to happen because the elementary schools in Eden Park are at capacity, and the Cranston School Department would have to build a new school in its place and re-district the entire city. This is not a feasible option for the school department, not to mention the need to keep smaller learning environments viable in our city, a research-based reason for academic success. You see, Mr. Navarro would look for alternative revenue streams to solve the city’s budget constraints such as developing public and private collaborations. Cranston families are what Mr. Navarro is all about. So, with no disrespect to our local gun shop owner or Mr. Lucas, Mr. Navarro will be receiving my vote on Sept. 12th and in the General Election in November. He is more than prepared to represent the citizens of Ward 2, and it is blatantly obvious that he has done his homework. A new face in Cranston politics is just what Cranston families need.

  3. Just for the record, the school department did threaten to close Waterman in the spring of 2005 when they were having budget problems. They have since made some changes which will likely keep Waterman open. According to a friend of mine, they are planning to have some of the special education students from Horton move over to Waterman, so this will keep the student census up and also indicates that they are perhaps taking Waterman off the list of schools considered for closing.

    Also, regarding my question on the school funding, according to Steve Stycos, there is a $1.2 million deficit in the budget which the school committee “fixed” by decreasing the amount in the health care account by that amount, in essence potentially underfunding the health care account by over a million dollars. The school committee had a problem with underfunding the health care account, I believe it was in the 2003=2004 budget, and the city ended up having the pay out this money to them. It is disappointing to see this fiscally irresponsible tactic being used again.

    To dovetail on what Melissa said, we do need leaders on the city council who can communicate with the school committee effectively and make sure that they are using fiscal management policies that do not lead to deficits.

    More on the school budget deficit is available here:

    http://cranstonschools.org/?p=8

  4. The problem is not that the City Council and the School Committee can/do not communicate. If it were that simple, I’m sure a newcomer could potentially offer some workable solutions. Our School Committee/Council problems are much more insidious and far reaching.

    Mike Traficante – former Mayor – now sits on the school committee. Why? Is that a traditional political move? I think not. The reason he is there is because the school committee is a SPENDING group of individuals. They have no interest in creating INCOME. They simply SPEND and negotiate teacher CONTRACTS in absolute privacy, and with unencumbered authority. Cronyism can (and does) still flourish with Traficante on the committee. Oh, and he is running for re-election, unopposed.

    Anthony Lupino – married to a Cranston teacher – still benefits from teacher pay raises and was instrumental in creating the 12th step of income – he even ran that idea past the Board of Ethics, and was permitted to vote, as the Ethics Judge saw ‘no conflict of interest’. He would like to be on the City Council, where he can further his own interests, while Traficante holds the fort on the School Committee.

    While I applaud Mr. Navarro, first, for answering the questions that Mr. Castellone would not, I also applaud him for taking on the all-comsuming task of Little League Coach. Dealing with parents, kids and schedules is no cakewalk. I thank him for that, and suggest that he attend a half dozen School Committee meetings to catch the real flavor of what is going on in there.

    Mr. Lucas, IMHO, has been on the front lines of this nightmare, not only speaking to saving Horton School, but as the ONLY Horton Parent who attended the remaining budget meetings, Mr. Lucas was fully exposed to the legal difficulties we taxpayers face in trying to curb the committee’s powers.

    This crap reaches all the way to the General Assembly, and for Mr. Navarro, it would be like sending him to coach the Red Sox. If he could only run against Traficante or even Iannazi…we may have a chance to slow the bleeding. We can’t stop it, because the teacher contract was negotiated (in secret, without the full committee, minutes not published) and there were no cost impact figures presented to the public prior to contract ratification.

    I am loathe to think of what will happen next year, 2007-2008, when the second level of the teacher contract kicks in (with my $211,000 assessed property value)- tax rate hikes are inevitable, unless we build an airport or a mall, or some new business revenue to save my neck. Too bad G-Tech didn’t build in CRANSTON.

    As for underfunding the Health Care Account, you should have seen Palumbo, dissing Stycos hard and earnest work to balance the budget with,- nickels and dimes, nickels and dimes, just cut the health Care figure and we can all go home…his little old hand waving dismissively.

    IMHO, we need someone to negotiate a teacher contract that does not offer health insurance or pensions TO ANY TEACHER unless the annual student GPA exceeds State minimums.

    And Melissa, I like that you want the idea of working together to spill over into city government. You are correct that the American government only exists with the consent of the people. Maybe that would mean I’ll be seeing and hearing from you at Council and Committee meetings??? Wait til you see how many empty chairs there are!!

  5. I would have to agree with Taxpayer that city politics for a city of 80,000 people is not the same as running the Cranston Little League, which is a very important thing, and something that I respect 100%. But people are much easier to get along with in a situation like volunteer children’s sports. No one’s career or profession is at stake the way it is in city politics. A quarter of a billion dollars is not in play.

    From my experience being the school committee’s appointee to the city’s financial review board, I learned that these are huge decisions with enormous ramifications, and people make sure you know that. Often when I was trying to be an ambassador of good will, people were aiming to use me as a messenger for their toxic messages, or a tool for their political ends. During my time serving, the mayor had already sued the school committee, and then the schools decided to countersue. I remember the conversation where the school committee informed me that they would be doing this. I was speechless. It was incredibly stressful to be in the middle of all this animosity.

    Here’s hoping there is a healthier environment with a new wave of people cycling into Cranston’s political arena.

  6. Kiersten,

    You are right, we need to remove the toxic animosity away from the City Council and School Committee.

    We need to extract all of the political oneupmanship, the bull-headed personalities, the secret meetings, the entrenchments of the old establishment.

    Dare I say, that we need younger blood and fresher faces in city politics?

    I have had the opportunity to meet Mr. Navarro on two occasions and I have found him to be very likable and genuine. I found his character to be good, open and honest.

  7. I am a little dismayed at the animosity toward Cranston teachers and their contract “issues.” Personally, as I am a teacher in another school district, contract negotiations are very intense for any local union. Healthcare is the one thing teachers have left (if there are any districts who do not pay…good for you!) Since NCLB, teachers are held more accountable than ever for the academic success, or lack thereof, of their students. What “Taxpayer” failed to mention, or perhaps even realize, is that we are with our students for six hours each day working our hardest to make sure students are meeting state and national standards, GSE’s, performing well on state testing, focusing on performance & standards based student-centered instruction, keeping a paper trail on each student…oh…and throwing in a life lesson or two along the way. My POINT is that teaching is NOT a two way street. We are not and should not be left alone in this education equation. PARENTS as well as the COMMUNITY are vital pieces of the puzzle. I know most people outside looking in on teachers think we have “the good life.” We are good enough that you entrust the education and welfare of your most precious possessions to us everyday, but we are not worth pay raises in our contracts or a pension??? Are you kidding? I digress. I understand that running a little league is not the same as running a city, but the point is that Mr. Navarro is now ready to BUILD on his leadership experience with CNBLL. Every politician has to start somewhere. No one walks into his first day on the job of a new career knowing everything there is to know. He is an honest and genuine man with a proven leadership record, and that is good enough for me! I might also mention his campaign, to date, has been extremely positive! My first day on the job as a teacher wasn’t the same as the first day of my 15th year. I am willing to give Mr. Navarro a shot because of his sound character and traditional family values, something you don’t see every day in politics. Perhaps you will see me at City Council and School Committee meetings…

  8. History repeats, new faces, problems remainds
    Go back to pass elections and the same words are spoken!
    If the school committee was dumb enough to attempt to close Waterman there would be tar and feathers flying around Cranston.
    The State must take over funding for schools and we must have one school system in the State. All teachers should be contracted by the State Dept. of Education.
    The State is to small to continue funding education as we do.
    City workers, police, fire, teachers should all expect a good wage. The “FAT” is in administration!

    Navarro would be good for Cranston, he is a proven community leader.

    [comment edited for inappropriate content]

  9. i usually respect this website, but to permit responses that refer to people as sluts, is degrading to the people who expect decent, educated discussions. Of course, consider the source – a teacher who doesn’t realize that the synonym for “also” is spelled “too”. i guess we cannot expect that he would do anything but insult Mr. Napolitano.

  10. “hconcerned taxpayer,” if you are referring to my sentence which says, “I might also mention that his campaign, to date, has been extremely positive,” you are mistaken about the use of “too.” My use of “to date” means “to the present moment.” My responses have been respectful and sincere. I have not used any inappropriate language or disrepectful sentiments. The response to which you are referring was the response following mine! I am insulted that you lumped my response into the category of others who have not been kind. I am not responding to this blog in attack mode. I sincerely wanted others to know why I felt Mr. Navarro was the better qualified candidate. Perhaps you should do your homework and read the responses more carefully.

  11. Melissa –
    Thank you for your post. I was beginning to believe I had missed something when I read post #9, from’hconcerned taxpayer’. I reread every post, looking for a possible connection that made sense. I believe #9 was referring to the #8 post, and not yours. (Your post was gramtically flawless, by the way….). Now, if the author of #8 is a teacher, as #9 implies by his use of the word “he”, then I am frightened by his grammar and his choice of words.

    Therein lies my frustration with the current state of affairs. Wonderful teachers are lumped with not so wonderful teachers, and no incentive, other than job satisfaction, exists for a teacher to excel. Pay grade does not suffer, pension and benefits do not suffer, and the weeds get to stay in the flower garden.

  12. Taxpayer-
    Thank you for your kind words. I felt the need to correct the mistake because, where I teach, I am known for my attention to grammatical detail. I am one of the few who still believes in a strong grammar foundation. Obviously, ‘hconcerned taxpayer’ did not ever occupy a seat in my classroom. Not to be tangential, here, but I had to stand up for my own reputation. I am a tad perplexed by your last line, however. It seems a bit contradictory? Stating that pay grade and benefits do not suffer indicates these two items are not lacking, yes? Or, do I misunderstand you? Please help clarify this for me. As I remember, you made the statement that teachers should not receive pay raises or a pension unless GPA’s improve across the state. Have you seen the absurdity of your former statement, and are you offering a truce, of sorts? Good for you, if that is the case. I certainly appreciate it! As for responses 8 & 9, we cannot let incompetence flood this blog! We also cannot let incompetence rear its ugly head in city politics. This is the reason we need to elect Emilio Navarro to the Ward 2 City Council seat.

  13. taxpayer…offtopic, but I liked how you changed the convo from grammar to teacher compensation without missing a beat.

    that was cool!

  14. Melissa –
    I am chock full to the brim of what people may consider absurd statements, ideas, and beliefs.

    That being said, I would love to discuss and debate the role of unions in my child’s education with you.

    You also mentioned the necessity to keep this blog on track. That would require hijacking this thread to a topic other than Mr. Navarro’s candidacy and his responses to these well written questions.

    Don Roach, are you ready?

    So I am going to have to refer our conversation to the http://www.cranstonschools.org website, where we may be able to convince Mark Lucas (the blogowner) to post a comment or an open thread on the union/education topic. I would feel better posting under an appropriate thread. I could just give you my email address, but I feel that what we have to say could benefit others if it were openly posted. Either way, I look forward to hearing from you.
    edgewatch2005@cox.net

  15. My dearest taxpayer friend—

    Since I would not feel right hijacking this thread to discuss something other than Mr. Navarro’s candidacy either, I would leave you with this…teachers are not “given” a pension, so to speak. In my system, we pay into our pension each pay period. The taxpayers pay into city/town pensions as well, but they are given a service in return. If you feel that union negotiations get in the way of your child’s education, I suggest you take that conversation to an intelligent school committee member. Usually, contracts are negotiated between school committees and union negotiating committees. They are not up for public discussion. My father worked in a steel mill for 42 years. I grew up in a home as Democratic as one home could be. Unions exist to protect members. My father made sure my sister and I understood this from a young age. I cannot and will not agree with your statement. Educators, as a rule, do not neglect what is best for students. If you are dismayed at this operating system, you could always elect to send your child to a private school. However, since your tax dollars are assisting in the funding of city employee pensions, why not receive the services you so deserve? I believe these are the kinds of issues Mr. Navarro could help resolve. Perhaps he could suggest alternative revenue streams for the city to lessen the tax burden on its residents. After all, I am happy to assist in funding pensions for those who could save the lives of my children as well as those who educate them. I believe in paying taxes for those reasons. What I don’t agree with is tapping into city funds for reasons that are a result of poor money management. Let’s have Mr. Navarro take a look at where the money from ambulance transport goes. Give him a chance to solve some important issues that could take the focus off of city employee pension funding. What do you say?

  16. hconcerned taxpayer:

    Responding to one bad post with another one (your grammar and punctuation leave a lot to be desired) only lowers the discussion level further. You’re just as guilty as Ed M in this case.

    Also, he didn’t use the “s” word — you did.

    So not only was your post nearly unintelligible (apologies to any e.e. cummings fans out there), it was also hypocritical and confusing.

    Before you try preaching about blog propriety, please practice it first.

  17. Thank you one and all for a lively, albeit tangential at times, discussion. At this point, any further comments on this post will be restricted to a discussion of Mr. Navarro’s candidacy and the issues that are applicable to such. We appreciate your cooperation and your patronage of our humble weblog.

  18. Now that we’re back on topic…

    Disclosure: I’m not a Ward 2 voter.

    Mr. Navarro seems to have done his homework; his answers show a good degree of understanding and he’s a straight talker.

    I don’t necessarily share klaus’s feeling that hypothetical statements = poor qualification for the seat. The willingness to think is what’s important to me.

    And though it may be slightly off-topic, it strikes me that Ward 2 is a hotbed of political action in Cranston. Cindy Fogarty’s from there; John O’Leary lives over there, too. There may be other notables that I’m not mentioning — it’s just something to consider; whoever gets the Ward 2 seat may be fairly influential because of the past representation… or am I completely off the mark? I’m open to hearing what people have to say.

  19. I think you are correct, Speedway Ray, there is a lot going on in Ward 2, and there has been for several years. I believe that Ward 2 was Peter Pastore’s original ward before he became council president. Also, there was the neck-and-neck race between Cindy Fogarty and Robin Muksian-Shutt in 2002. So yes, I think that getting elected in Ward 2 bodes well for a future career in Cranston politics.

  20. If you want to get down even further, Ward 2’s precinct 1, also known as Forest Hills.

    Most of the Horton parents are from there as is Cindy Fogarty, John O’Leary, Mark Lucas, Deb Griefor and myself all live within blocks of one another.

    There may be others that I am not listing but there are many more.

  21. does anyone else recognize that mr navarro does not understand the term “level funding”? It refers to state law that requires Cranston to appropriate to the school department at least the amount that was funded the previous year. i hope this helps mr navarro – as he is very confused!! it is hilarious that anyone, never mind someone trying to “lead” Cranston would comment without having a clue what they are talking about, never mind the responders who think his answers are great! check state law.

  22. toonumb:

    I really didn’t draw the same conclusion from Mr. Navarro’s statements. Seems to me he was talking about keeping the school budget payment the same (or roughly the same) from one year to the next. He didn’t seem to even remotely suggest that he’d want to cut the school payment — and by saying the budget should go to the Council ready for approval, I think he’s saying that, instead of proposing $10 million increases and threatening court action, the school committee should actually do some work and trim their request before it goes to the Council.

    This seems to directly contradict what you’re claiming.

    I’d also remind you that the last time a court case was heard about school funding, the court sided with the city (which was offering about $3 million more than the previous year) — not the school department, which had asked for almost $10 million more. And then, when additional money came in, the Council stood up to Mayor Laffey and got another $1 million sent to the school department.

    The city has been following state law, and has been backed up by the courts. Mr. Navarro’s statements appear to be consistent with this (in other words, he does seem to ‘have a clue’). It looks like he wants to work with the Council to continue their success in holding down school costs — legally. This, again, is in direct conflict with your claims.

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