News from the Kingdom of Garabedian

Progress Glacially Slow for Concrete Plant Opponents: I’d link to the Projo article on this, but their site is down at the moment. The long and the short is — there still aren’t enough people for a quorum of the Zoning Board because now it has to be determined if Joy Montanaro can continue to serve because she served two terms, although one of them was shorter than a full term. And even if they can get a quorum, the lawyers for Cullion assert that the zoning board can’t give them a fair hearing and everything should be on hold because of the higher court actions.

Hearing Tomorrow Night on Domestic Bank: This is a special ordinance committee meeting at 6 pm on Thursday, July 25, 2007, in Cranston City Hall. At this meeting, residents of Forest Hills will continue to advocate for protection of their neighborhood. Members of other community groups are also pledging to come out to help make our local government more accountable to community concerns.

Have You Seen the Park Cinema Going UP? It’s true — after four years of sitting there collecting dust and being a general eyesore, traffic nuisance, and safety hazard to the community (yes, there are fences, but kids have been known to get inside fences) it appears that The Park Cinema is actually undergoing some real live honest-to-goodness construction. There is a frame for a stage that stands taller than any other building in the area.

6th Graders to be Kept in Elementary Schools: I haven’t seen confirmation of this, but heard from a PTO parent that the school committee is planning to address the overcrowding problem in our middle schools by having the kids stay in the Elementary Schools another year. I think this is a very good idea — the longer you can delay going into the huge school environments, the better, so that kids can be as emotionally mature as possible for this more stressful environment. The only drawback is that reportedly Daniel D. Waterman Elementary School is the only one that does not have enough room to keep its 6th graders.

UPDATE Regarding the Possibility of Children in 6th Grade Remaining in the Elementary Schools: School Committee member Andrea Iannazzi sent this information:

The School Committee formed a sub-committee, which Deb Greifer, Steve Stycos, and I are serving on, to study two issues….

1- Possibility of returning 6th grade to elementary schools
2- heterogeneous v. homogeneous grouping (i.e.- tracking) for middle schools

The Committee also has representatives from the School Administration, the Cranston Teachers Alliance, and parents.

Kudos to Tom Cloonen for coming up with the phrase “Kingdom of Garabedian” and working the metaphor with great wit in this piece published in The Cranston Herald.

Please feel free to add your own news from the Kingdom of Garabedian. And as a disclosure: I have been to the ball in the Kingdom of Garabedian (big fundraisers for King G = the ball). Mr. Garabedian is one of those people, and I would put Mike Traficante in the same category, whom it doesn’t matter if you like them or not. They still run the show and if you don’t want to be crushed, you have to pay tribute once in a while. Plus I was really happy at the time to see how forcefully he came out in support of the Stop the Concrete movement.


42 thoughts on “News from the Kingdom of Garabedian

  1. I could fill several pages with the bad government antics I’ve seen in the Kingdom of Garabedian, but I’ll just share this funny one to start off on a lighter note. It’s a quote from the King himself:

    “Hey, Lucas, will you quit writing about me? You’re filling up all my f—–g scrapbooks!”

  2. Kiersten:

    I disagree with your assessment of Aram. I mean, to believe the idea that “if you don’t want to be crushed, you have to pay tribute once in awhile,” you also have believe that either a.) 19,000+ voters who elected him to a second term as Council President were idiots, or b.) that he is carrying out a comprehensive duping of Cranston residents.

    And if you had attended a fundraiser for Aram, you would have seen hundreds of fervent supporters who genuinely feel grateful to him for his work in the city. I recall attending the Democrat bash he hosted at the Alpine on the Sunday night before the election last year (which, I will tell you, only broke even after donations were counted), and it didn’t look to me like the people there had been cowed into attending.

    Unfortunately, because Aram doesn’t fill every single wish demanded by people like Tom Cloonen, he’s made out to be some kind of unfeeling politician. Yet even you admit readily that he’s supporting the drive to stop the concrete plant — and did you know this involved making a donation of his own to Richard Crowell’s group to help them?

    And as I’ve tried to explain in previous threads, the Domestic situation is very nearly complete — the lot is paved, the final approval for the new plan is about to be granted, and cars will be off the nearby streets; in addition, it’s the lack of quorum on the ZBR — which is not something that Aram either caused or created — that has stalled (NOT stopped) the city’s work to deal the final blow to the Cullion plan.

    Also, the school department’s plans can not be blamed on Aram — the council budget actually includes $900,000 more than Mike Napolitano’s budget. So I’m baffled why you would include this item under this headline.

    I would only conclude by asking, respectfully, that you observe the facts without the influence of biases like Mr. Cloonen’s (and please, don’t suggest that my view is anywhere near as biased because I’ve supported Aram in the past). The facts are the facts, and I think if you view them and set aside the anger, the picture will look quite different.

  3. Jesse, No blame regarding the school department’s plans — it’s all just part of the happenings for the little people in the Kingdom. Like I said, I think it’s a good idea.

    I’m sorry you take issue, Jesse. I guess I should have put the “humor” tag on this story. Aram Garabedian knows that I respect him. He also knows I’m a writer, and as a much greater writer, Margaret Atwood, once said, you are not really alive if you are not annoying someone.

  4. Kiersten:

    Thanks for the reply. Yes, I agree that when looked at humorously, your thread comes across differently.

    And I admit to taking this all very seriously, so I appreciate your indulgence in this regard.

  5. I’m quite sure Aram is a good man. Hell, he’s a New England Patriots fan. All I know is, he told us he’s a personal friend of Nathaniel Baker, the owner of Domestic Bank. And he has consistently voted in favor of the bank and against the neighbors. In at least 8 committee meetings. No conspiracy, just fact.

    With that, yes the bank finally improved its lot. They finally brought their property into compliance with code. Two years after tearing down the last of three homes. A year after the city placed a cease and desist order on the property because Baker refused to move a curb cut about 8 feet. Oh yeah, and a year after the president and owner of the bank was quoted in the ProJo stating, ” These people will scream loud and long to get the city to back off”. “Otherwise they’ll be looking at a gravel lot for a long time” He’s wasn’t happy when he didn’t get his way and th ecease and desist order was issued. Well we did look at it for a long time. But we didn’t back down.

    By the way, the first two lots were originally purchased for drive up tellers. Not a parking lot. Thankfully the then current council voted it down. Oh yeah, and the bank decided to withdraw it’s request to put a 1,000 gallon propane storage tank in those three RESIDENTIALLY zoned lots. Only after our opposition last fall.

    Oh yeah, anyone remember when the bank sued the city after they bought property over on Liberia Street? No? The bank wanted a variance for parking? The city said no. They sued the city.

    The bank first said there would only be 40 employees at the location. When pressed, they finally came clean and said it would be more like 150. Today we have a new parking lot right in our neighborhood. How residential looking. No need to worry what that does to property values. 48 spaces on the lot. The bank states they have over 200 employees and plan to hire another 30 to 40. But, they only have 70 working in their 16,000+ square foot corporate headquarters. We ask where are they rest? A history of misrepresenting staffing, but we’ll believe them know.

    Only in the “Kingdom of Garabedian” could this exist.

  6. The Park Cinema is being renovated? Cool. When I moved to Providence we had a neighborhood cinema, but it was demolished and replaced with a CVS. I miss it. You can’t spit in this state without hitting a CVS, but neighborhood movie theatres are an endangered species.

  7. Well, since ethics was above mentioned, I would like to submit that if your tired and memory is not up to par – it’s time to step down. I respected Aram, however there have been some recent recounts by him of facts that are not factual and seemingly one would think he’s not himself. Point and case, Monday July 23rd City Council meeting Aram condemned the Cranston Herald’s insert as a Point of Personal attack … piece of trash … misrepresentation ….full of lies – all regarding an Insert and a comment made in last week’s Herald about Aram in support of filling in the wetland area by the Police Station/ball field for a mini mall development. He said this was total trash and he never supported that. This is either Aram with no memory of the facts or he’s lying because the camera is on him. I would chose to believe the memory and that it is time to step down. If Aram can’t remember the facts, especially since Councilwoman McFarland did an open letter in the Cranston Herald to the Residents stating she is not in support of this development and the infrastructure would not support such a plan. I also wrote a letter which was published the following week condeming Aram’s statements for development for two reasons 1) the flooding 2) taking the open space away from the kids.

    In the past Aram has been tenacious and although all over the place, he was prudent in recollecting and moving things along. His second term I do not have the same opinion, and I am very very worried.

    What other factual events or conversations are not being remembered. Aram does care, but, he is not on his game – as so we should worry. His comments about Forrest Hill Neighbors insert was so untruthful, he knows who Tom Cloonen is and how he has been in the forefront of group. By saying the person who wrote it was a coward for not signing his name and writing nothing but lies was not fair. Then to have Councilman Lani chime in infactically that this is absolutely false … an outright lie! Lanni said he was there with them and it was never said – what crap. I was infuriated and so should all of you be, because it might not be today, but tomorrow it will be you fighting these Keystone Cops (not all).

    Start going to the meetings (I know they are painful) but we need to start telling them what we think. 20% of the votes to unseat the King. I would prefer not to embarass or degrade Mr. Garabedian, as he has worked very hard in the past for the voters – it’s just time has come to gracefully step down before the impression is changed to something he wouldn’t want…we need clear and concise recollection.

  8. Bravo Suzanne,

    Don’t they know the truth will set them free.

    Quote for the day: If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s a duck. Hope to see you all tonight at the 6:00 special ordniance meeting.

  9. As of today, there are at least 40 cars parked in Domestic’s lot — not on the streets — and following tonight’s meeting where the actual plan (which, Tom Cloonen, you clearly haven’t seen) is approved, employee cars will be all but eliminated from the surrounding streets.

    And as I’ve said all along, that was the residents’ main goal — and now it’s happening.


    Soon you’ll have nothing left to debate. Sorry, but I decline your invitation.

  10. Hi Jesse,

    Once someone has been approved for commenting on Kmareka, their comments post automatically. Therefore I cannot prevent people from making inappropriate comments on Kmareka. I work evenings and sometimes do not see comments until late at night or the next day. I can attempt to correct things later and I think you are right that posting someone’s address without their permission is not right and because of this the post which you complain about will be removed.

    However, I think when you provide certain details about yourself and hide others, people are naturally tempted to try to figure out your identity. I think you need to consider whether it is a good idea to continue posting under a pseudonym while you are doing so much conversing on blogs. The issue seems to be a creating problems of its own for you.

  11. To set the record straight, we have pictutes of the bank’s employees parking in lots today down by Coastway and the medical building, as well as moving there cars from Richland to Riverfarm. Have pictures of the bank’s employees parking on the streets this morning, in donut shop and dry cleaners. Most were moved after ouir walk thru with our cameras.

    One doesn’t go looking for the enemy when they expect you to. You look when they least expect it. We’ve had dignatries up the ying yang drive by today. And apparently Jesse. Good work! Take a look in a few weeks if the ordinance isn’t approved. And Jesse, I figured you wouldn’t swing by. Oh well.

  12. No, Tom, good work by you — spying on peoples’ cars and stalking employees (NOT!). I’m sure they moved their cars right back to where they were once you got off the street.

    And think for a minute — did you really think I was going to visit your home after the behavior you’ve exhibited here?

    I can only await the inevitable silence that will follow tonight’s meeting. Face it Tom, you’re done.

  13. “These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people.”

    – Abe Lincoln

  14. Last nights news clip relative to the Mulligans matter was outstanding. But why have only McFarland and Barone come out and said no, my constituents don’t want it. Napolitano is canvassing the neighborhood to get a read? All he needs to do is read the blogs. Ask yourself, why hasn’t Lanni, Santa Maria, Bucci and the others come out in support of the residents. Get them on the record now. Last night the neighbors of Forest Hills were sent away without relief from commercial encroachment. We were told we are “anti-business”. The Garabedian/Lanni political machine prevailed after a yearlong attempt to preserve our neighborhood and our property values. McFarland and Barone were the only committee members supported us. Council members Lupino and Navarro also spoke in support of us. Santa Maria had been a steadfast and ardent supporter of the Forest Hills residents but succumbed to the pressures of that political machine.

    Even after we brought up this weeks poll in the Cranston Herald. Yesterday’s editorial stated “According to a poll that has been on the Herald Web site for the last week, aside from the 40 percent of respondents who said they were looking to leave Cranston as soon as possible – presumably a response to the recent tax hike – most of those that took the poll said they lived in Cranston because of its great sense of community. We doubt crumbling buildings and interminably drawn-out rehabilitation projects fit into the definition of what makes a community great”.

    Our neighborhood unlike others have been attempting to remedy commercial encroachment into our neighborhood for 25 years. We’ve learned a lot during that time. Most importantly, get the politicians to support you from the get go. And get them to do it on the record.

    Although we lost for now, we are not beaten. We’ll let nature take its course. Quantify our damages and begin the battle again in a venue where the political machine has no power. And you can rely on our support in your battle with to preserve your quality of life, character of your neighborhood and your homes property values.

    You can rely on our support in your battle with the machine to preserve your quality of life, character of your neighborhood and your homes property values.

    On another note, we want to thank Rick for his address to the committee last evening. It’s was, well eloquent. Rick, you have a knack for public speaking. We all are very thankful for your assistance.

  15. Folks, I refer you to the web address below. It sums up what happened to the residents of Forest Hills last night, and just may be a glimpse into future for those that live in other neighborhoods through out the city.

    caveat emptor

  16. A little refresher course for the Kingdom of Garabedian followers.

    It has been some time since I studied the feudal system.
    The king is at the top (AG), next level down is the barons (JL, MB,TL, RS?), then come the knights (RS?,EN, AL,PM), anyone else is below that fall into freeman or serf category.

    I am not sure where the Mayor would fall into this chart.

    Last night, I believe we witnessed a knight moving to the baron slot by succesful removal of the backbone (RS?). Quite a disappointment, but the humor helps me get through the reality of not lving in a “people over profit” city.

  17. This is an e-mail Cindy Fogarty sent to her distribution list. She asked me to post it here.

    OK – this is one in a series of emails i am sending to my email box of Cranston residents. As a former councilmember, I am concerned with the lack of the current legislative body to act on behalf of its citizens. Of course, as a councilmember, i was approached by citizens who only wanted their side to be heard and felt it was the only right side and all requests by citizens are not in the best interests of the city. However, on this issue of Domestic and its neighbors, I have personally done the research and put in the time and feel that a terrible injustice was done to these neighbors, and any neighbors who are being overrun by business in Cranston in the mistaken phrase of “economic development”. In Cranston – not Route 2 Warwick – we do not want to encourage large, employee based companies to infiltrate our neighborhoods. We want co-existence with the properly sized and type of businesses – and there are many already in Cranston – in fact the majority. What the city council has told residential owners as of last night – is “we don’t care about you -we have screwed up the budget so badly that we need corporate dollars and we will take them on your backs and over your objections.” Only Councilman Jeff Barone put forth the request to approve the ordinance last night which is similar to other cities in RI (Councilman Navarro who proposed the ordinance does not sit on Ordinance so could not make a motion or second the motion – only the following could help Cranston residents last evening: Santamaria in Ward 5, Bucci in Ward 4, McFarland in Ward 3, Lanni – at large and Garabedian – at large. However – McFarland would not second the original proposal she did indicate she would have considered amendments), Councilmember Bucci was not able to attend, and the rest, even though Lanni and Santamaria said they would support such an ordinance in the past, chose not to support it last night.

    So I am forwarding Mark Lucas’ website so that citizens can respond and hopefully, eventually, our elected officials will be honest about what initiatives they truly will support and not “waste” taxpayers time to ultimatley shut them down.


  18. Anyone read today’s ProJo?

    Link to Projo article

    Lanni was quoted in the Herald stating he would have supported Resident Only Parking. Garabedian stated the ordinance is anti-business. Anyone who read the ordinance would see there were adequate safe guards. Anyone who knew the facts knew the Forest Hills residents weren’t anti-business. They are anti spiteful business. Those that lack corporate governance and will stop at nothing to enhance their bottom line.

    Aram, Mark Lucas sums up the anti business rhetoric quite well. If you haven’t read the article at , I’ll quote it for you.

    ” Mr. Garabedian, who in the past has successfully blocked businesses from developing in his neighborhood, quickly declared a resident parking permit program to be “anti-business.â€? How he can outright block businesses from opening in his neighborhood, yet refuse our neighborhood a manner in which to address bad business expansion, is the height of hypocrisy.

    The permit-parking ordinance that would help all neighborhoods in the City deal with bad-neighbor businesses was scheduled for last night’s Ordinance Committee meeting. Domestic Bank ordered those vehicles that could not fit into the lot to park as far away as possible so that empty streets could be used for a “see, everything is perfectâ€? photo opportunity. Mr. Garabedian lobbied many of his business friends to speak out against the ordinance as anti-business, and apparently participated in the staging of an “expert witnessâ€? to give “testimony.â€? ”

    We made a huge error when we re-elected you and Lanni. You spew rhetoric and fail to recall facts. i.e. your tirade at this month’s council meeting over the insert in the Herald stating you wanted to drain wetlands and build on it. You said that statement was garbage and inaccurate. You either had a memory lapse or outright lied. I’d like to think it was a memory lapse.

    You forgot why you were elected to office. Commercial encroachment is prevalent through out our city and is causing serious issues to our residential property values.

    It’s time all of you either support those that put you in office or step down. One more thing, I’d like to from each of you (Aram can’t cause he is awaiting an ethics ruling.) Are you for the development of Mulligan’s or against it?

    And I don’t profess to know all, but one question for Aram. Did you need an ethics ruling when you championed the “anti-business” banner when you fought to keep business out of your neighborhood? Those voting against this ordinance voted against the residents that are fighting to limit damages to their neighborhoods from poor planning and commercial encroachment. Can’t wait until 2008 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. This statement clearly overlooks some details, for instance, that it was Pep Boys and Home Depot that Aram fought against — how are these businesses any less potentialy dangerous to Garden City than (as Tom, Ed, and Mark have attested) Domestic is to Forest Hills?

    I also haven’t seen any decent argument against the concept that the ordinance would have amounted to creating veto power for small groups of disgruntled residents. I know Tom mentions “safeguards,” but what about preventing mob rule? Representative democracy dictates that the elected officials are inherently trusted to make decisions for the people — whether or not everyone agrees with those decisions.

    And a last thought: Mark Lucas states, “It’s time all of you either support those that put you in office or step down.” Well, there are 8 Democrats on the Council (one of whom he ran against last November). Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t imagine he’s talking about himself or some of the other people that have been posting here.


    “It’s time all of you either support those that put you in office or step down.�

  21. The problem is that too many cities and towns have relied too heavily on property tax revenue for too long.
    Our elected city officials need to get creative and find other ways of bringing in addition revenue, or new ways to reduce the operating cost associated with the day to day running of a city. Be it the implimentation of a program to cut the city’s utility costs through inventive and alternative sources of energy (solar/wind, et al)to power city buildings and properties. If this could be accomplished the annual cost of “running” this city could be greatly reduced. Or perhaps the city could invest and become partners with both citizens groups and businesses to create an atmosphere for all that is less toxic than the current model. By painting themselves into a corner and relying so heavily on property tax revenue, the city has created a suspicious electorate, and in the process has left itself vulnerable to less than scrupulous developers. When a city needs funding to pay teachers, fire/police, etc..
    they bite the bullet and settle for the quick fix. This quick fix mentality all but guarantees a bevy of empty store fronts, acres of unused parking, a severe reduction in open space and an angry and hostile electorate. When the Domestic gang rolled out their dog and pony show last Thursday, their assembled speakers all repeated the “anti-business” mantra. Well,here’s a newsflash to the captains of industry that attended:
    If current trends are not reversed, you will not have to defend on-street parking for business customers and employees, because ONLY your employees will be parking there. When there are fewer residents in a city, chances are those businesses will have fewer customers.
    It may be a question of the chicken or the egg variety, but, it is a question that the Durfees and Mccaughlins will have to deal with. And to those councilpeople who sat so smugly as they turned a deaf ear to the citizens of Cranston last week, expect a miracle, those deaf ears are going to start working!!! “I CAN HEAR AGAIN” they’ll exclaim and they’ll say “remember me–I was with you from the get-go” Et tu Santamaria

  22. Cities and towns rely on property tax revenues because state & fed dollars have disappeared. They have disappeared because of the tax cuts we have been doling out to the wealthiest among us for the last 25 years.

    The result is that the income gap has increased, schools are increasingly segregated by class (which, oddly, happens to correspond a lot to race). This means that we are creating a two-tier public school system. Those in the better suburbs get great schools; the rest of us, not so much. Fed & state dollars used to even out some of these discrepancies, but not any longer.

    In the meantime, the cost of attending a public college is going up (there was a post about that here, too). These things are occurring at a time when the value of education is, supposedly, very great. The result of our policies is that the rich will continue to get richer, while the rest of us sink further and further behind.

    In the meantime, corporate profits are hitting levels not seen in 80 years. And yet, asking corporations to pay for the services they receive–an educated workforce, for instance–is perceived as being “anti-business.”

    Guess what, folks? In the last five years, fully 70 of the Fortune 100 companies paid ZERO income tax in at least one year. In fact, many of them paid no tazes and even got refunds. This, while they boasted to shareholders about the wonderful years they were having.

    Generally, to pay zero tax you have zero profit. Yet, corporations have banner years and yet, we give them a refund. And the really insidious part of this is that this leaves the small businesses holding the bag. Then the corporate PR machines crank out propaganda about the anti-business environment, which makes the small businesses feel like they’re getting skewered by “the public” so they vote for Republicans to protect them from the rapacious municipalities. So the small business people vote for representatives who give all the breaks to large corporations while hanging the small businesses out to dry. (I speak of the nat’l level, here.)

    And yet, if you point any of this out, you’re waging class warfare, or you’re anti-business.

    Is that brilliant, or what? And it works because the so-called liberal media is owned by corporations who are riding the gravy train. Think they’re going to point any of this out and ruin a good thing?

  23. Klaus, corporations in the US pay the highest percenttage of taxes in the developed world, 35 percent. NH has no income tax or sales tax and they get by. Before we levy additional taxes on corporations and the wealthy, we need to rationalize the operating costs of ths state. Average state employee salary is greater than $40K and their cost of healthcare is substantially less than the private sector employee. And retirement benefits, well that’s another added benefit.

  24. Damn Jesse, you take nonsense to a new level. When you spew your rhetoric I hear Aram’s. Is keeping Pep Boys and Home Depot somehow less “anti- business than the residential parking ordinance. And as mob rule, read the ordinance. Jesse, the more I read your comments, the more I’m convinced your a socialist want to be or even worse, a communist.I’m. so glad you weren’t an educator of my children.

  25. klaus, I know you feel strongly about the divide that grows between the wealthy and the poor in our country. I agree that a divide exists and it continues to grow, and in some ways needs to be addressed. So I was wondering what you think about an overhaul of the way we are taxed. Do you think a consumption tax is a good idea? Rather than income, Americans would be taxed on purchases, a national sales tax if you will. The Fair Tax is an interesting proposal ( It ensures those living near, at, or below the poverty rate pay little or no tax, while the wealthy would obviously pay more because of their purchasing habits.

    Or how about a flat income tax? Eliminate the deductions that allow the wealthy to circumvent paying taxes. But also eliminate punative taxes like death and capital gains. A simple rate, say 18 percent, for all Americans regardless of income would ensure that everyone pays an equal share according to his or her means. Or we could raise the rate a bit, and apply it only towards income above the poverty line.

    Genuinely interested in your thoughts.

  26. Mr Cloonen, don’t make the mistake of confusing the nominal tax rate (what they supposedly pay) with the effective tax rate, which is what they actually pay.

    Almost no large ($10B+ market cap) company pays anything close to 35%. As I stated, in most years, a large number of the biggest companies not only have an effective rate of zero, they get refunds, which means their effective rate is negative.

    And NH gets more back in fed tax dollars than they pay in fed taxes, which may partly explain how they “get by.”

    The US median wage is somewhere around $45k. If the AVERAGE (which is different than the median) state salary is $40k, that means the vast majority of state workers are getting less than the median US wage. The reforms that need to be made are at the top of the state wage scale, especially when it comes to $100k pensions paid for 30 years. Will Mr Carcieri cut back on those? Since that would mean not being able to reward his cronies, I suspect not.

    And the tax rate on the wealthy was much higher than it is now even under Reagan. So, your stuff about “raising” taxes is a bit of a canard. Or, are you in favor of massive inequalities in income? Taxes were raised under Clinton, sending us into that hell of peace and prosperity we experienced in the 90s.

    Oh, and btw: you have a better chance of moving into a higher income quintile in Europe than you do in the US. The “American Dream” of upward mobility in the US is becoming just that: a dream. After adjusting for inflation, men in their thirties today make less than men in their thirties did back in those awful 70s. This is the legacy of supply-side “Reaganomics.” Remember how the rising tide was supposed to lift all boats if only we cut taxes? Well, it has lifted the yachts very nicely, and left the rowboats high and dry.

    To “rationalize” costs within RI, are you in favor of combining school districts, or police/fire depts?

    And please, Mr Cloonen. You are doing immense damage to your credibility by calling Jesse a “socialist” or “communist.” Plus, you are demonstrating a keen non-awareness of what the terms mean. If anything, Jesse is an advocate for business interests. As such, he’s the one who should be taking exception to my comments.

  27. “And please, Mr Cloonen. You are doing immense damage to your credibility by calling Jesse a “socialistâ€? or “communist.â€? ”

    Point taken Klaus. All meant to be in jest. Believe me!

  28. A real socialist or communist would want to seize Domestic Bank from Mr. Baker and turn it into a co-op with 100% profits (after reinvestments, of course) going directly into the surrounding community.

  29. Klaus, Been there done that. By the way, the $45K US median income is, I believe, household income. I was referring to avg individual state employee income.

  30. klaus,

    RI should consider regionalizing school, police and fire departments. County-wide departments would be ideal. Of course, that means that Cranston gets thrown in with the City of Providence.

  31. klaus:

    I certainly appreciate your efforts to inform Mr. Cloonen (Lord knows I’ve tried), as well as your defense of my blogging preferences.

    It’s also telling that misusing terms like “communist” are what passes for humor in Tom’s mind. (And isn’t it curious that he uses such terms, when he’s the one demanding government action to protect his neighborhood and cloaking his demand with rhetoric that it’s for “the common good”? Hmm…)

    In any case, my take on business development in Cranston is this: Commercial property taxes help hold down residential taxes and contribute to state funding through sales taxes etc. And given the choice I’d rather have responsible development than just open the floodgates to anything that can get a building permit. I’m opposed to the concrete plant and the C&B proposal for Mulligan’s Island, by the way.

    With Domestic, residents have been clamoring for relief from parking problems. Well, Domestic bought some nearby land and paved it. Conceivably, they could have pushed to build a whole addition rather than parking space. Then what would Forest Hills have done?! As I’ve said many times before, my whole point through this saga is that, belated as it may be (and residents’ political posturing notwithstanding), the parking lot is done. Cars are off the streets. And it’s been done legally.

    Now, specific to Cranston, we’re running out of available business space. Just to throw a couple of figures into the mix: residential property value has gone up $200 million in the past couple of years; commercial, only $40 million. That means, by definition, that more of the tax burden has fallen on homes than businesses.

    And no matter what Mr. Cloonen says, I am proud to share Aram’s approach to reasonable development — Pep Boys out, Panera Bread (and Pier One and Washington Mutual Mortgage) in. I’d also add Tasca Ford to the list of developments he supported that have been good for the city.

    So, no, I don’t take exception to your prior statements. My sense is a bit more nuanced than simply pro- or anti-business, if you will: I understand that business growth is a necessity, but that it must be done in a responsible manner. I also think that compromise is a very important component of government (although that idea seems to get panned every time I suggest it).

    On regionalizing school districts: The idea has been kicked around for almost as long as RI has had schools (see Chariho, Foster-Glocester, Bristol-Warren and Exeter-West Greenwich). Problem is, these systems were flawed when they were created — the town sending the most kids pays the most. But hold on… usually the towns with the most kids have lower property values (which is what allows more people to live there with their kids), which means the tax burden falls on them disproportionately.

    Now, to use mike and Andre’s idea, if Prov County was consolidated the way the existing regional districts were, Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket and Cranston would face the highest tax burdens (not necessarily in that order, but close, I think). In effect, the “poorest” cities would be subsidizing the “richest” ones.

    That is, unless the state were to create a decent funding system. Again, there have been many ideas on this front but none of them saw the light of day.

    The recent study that pegged average student cost of $11,000 (more for English language learners and special ed students) may be a good starting point. But any plan would have to address the current flaw in school attendance counts: districts now use their attendance on Oct. 1 to plan the next year’s budget. If more students come in between October and the following February, it essentially goes unnoticed. Then, only in October does the district “discover” it has more kids and (potentially) runs a deficit.

    In the end, though, I’m torn on the concept of more General Assembly control vs. higher local taxes to preserve local control. I mean, look at Central Falls. That school district is a disaster (no offense to the educators there), and the costs keep going up.

    Even if some kind of property tax “relief” were built into a new regionalization plan, we’d wind up paying for it one way or the other.

    If it were me, I’d say create a state “education fee” for every family that sends a kid to school, sort of like a tuition payment. Make it part of state income taxes, maybe. Pay for it with lottery money (finally). Offset it with the federal earned income tax credit or deductions. These are just raw ideas, but the concept is to spread the burden to those who use the school system rather than just homeowners and business owners.

  32. Oh, and if I can just offer one thought on this whole “King Garabedian” thing (I understand Kiersten’s POV that her intent was to be humorous, but I can’t say the same for some others)… wasn’t Aram elected TWICE, both times by the largest count in the city?

    I may be accused of being a poor history student, but I think America fought a revolution to give the people control over who governs.

  33. Mike, I’m generally not in favor of consumption taxes because they are regressive. People with lower income spend virtually all of it, which means they would be taxed on virtually all their income. Wealthier people, on the other hand, would only be taxed on a share of their income. That’s the exact opposite of what we do now.

    OTOH, I realize Europe uses these extensively and it seems to work. Perhaps it’s an issue of perception over reality.

    As for a flat tax, I’m not a big fan of a single-rate flat tax. If, say, the bottom quintile pays zero, the second pays 2% or 3% or 5%, the third pays 5-7%, the 4th pays 8-10, and the top pays 15%, which is a graduated flat tax, I would consider that. (Please note that the numbers are off the top of my head and are not meant as serious proposals.) The feature I like about a graduated flat tax is that you pay what you pay, no exceptions, no gaming the system.

    Of course, this puts an army of tax lawyers out of business.

    And I really don’t like that we now tax labor more heavily than capital. That is flat wrong. Why should someone who doesn’t work get taxed more lightly than someone who does? I thought conservatives believed in creating incentives to work. And, btw, there is plenty of evidence that taxing capital more lightly does NOT stimulate investment. Steve Roach of Morgan Stanley wrote an article last fall addressing this in the US, Japan, and Germany. All three have reduced taxes on capital, and none of the three has seen the promised increase in investment.

    Like anything, but especially complex things like tax plans, the devil is in the details. It’s often difficult to discuss this in the abstract. That said, my preference would be for something like a graduated flat tax.

    The same really goes for how to re-organize school districts. IMHO, something has to be done. It’s ridiculouls to be paying 39 sets of administrations in a population this size. But there seems to be a vehement reaction to this suggestion (not here, but other times I’ve heard it discussed).

    The resistence is due to the fear of loss of “local control,” whatever that means. I mean, come on. RI is almost small enough to have a direct democracy. Consolidating contracts, purchasing, and administration is not like sending it to Walla Walla.

    The system needs an overhaul; nibbling around the edges isn’t going to accomplish anything. Consolidation is a first step, not a solution.

  34. klaus, if you get a chance take a look at the Fair Tax proposal ( I too had my doubts about a consumption tax for the same reasons you stated above. But the Fair Tax takes this into consideration. Citizens would not be held responsible for taxes on purchases up to the poverty level. From the Fair Tax act proposed this year:

    The FairTax provides every American family with a rebate of the sales tax on spending up to the federal poverty level (plus an extra amount to prevent any marriage penalty). The rebate is paid monthly in advance. It allows a family of four to spend $27,380 tax free each year. The rebate for a married couple with two children is $525 per month ($6,297 annually). Therefore, no family pays federal sales tax on essential goods and services and middle-class families are effectively exempted on a large part of their annual spending.

    A flat tax is by itself graduated, in that it is based on a percentage. Why is it necessary to add an additional differential? But if you are advocating a top rate of 15 percent, we have a deal!!! 🙂

  35. Anyone read the drivel Randy Jackvony wrote in this week’s Herald entitled “keep your sandals on”? Clearly the author is uninformed. Although he did visit my home last year and saw what was forced upon us. Perhaps he experienced a “senior moment” or had convenient memory loss.

    He obviously forgott the bank president’s tag line, “these people will scream loud and long to get the city to bank off or they will be looking at a gravel lot for a long time”.

    Our ordinance was anti-spiteful business, not anti-business. To say anything else is anti-resident. And last I checked, the vast majority of dollars lining the city coffers come from the pockets of the residents.

    Enjoy your little life out there in the western suburbs, Randy. You don’t need to deal with corporate sprawl yet, but it’s coming. And when it does, I hope you don those sandals !

    “there is nothing more frightening than ignorance in action”

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