Lawyers brief judge for 9th time on RI pension lawsuit talks

October 28th, 2013 at 6:43 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Lawyers briefed the Rhode Island judge overseeing a union lawsuit challenging the state’s 2011 pension overhaul Monday for a ninth time about the progress of their court-ordered mediation to settle the case.

Attorneys on both sides of the suit met Monday with R.I. Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter, court spokesman Craig Berke said. Last December Taft-Carter ordered the state and the unions into a formal mediation process behind closed doors overseen by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

The buzz continues to build about the possibility that the two sides are nearing an agreement, which has some state lawmakers expressing serious concerns about the process. A union leader recently revealed that a subcommittee has been formed to communicate with workers and retirees about the terms of a settlement, which Gov. Lincoln Chafee has repeatedly said he hopes will work out.

The buzz will likely grow because Taft-Carter will hold the next status conference in just two weeks, according to Berke – a much shorter time between meetings than in the past. The last eight status conferences were held on Sept. 30, Sept. 5, Aug. 6, May 17, April 22, March 25, Feb. 28 and Feb. 1.

• Related: RI lawmakers worried about secret talks to rewrite pension law (Oct. 15)

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30 Responses to “Lawyers brief judge for 9th time on RI pension lawsuit talks”

  1. George says:

    Stupid, stupid stupid. The court should adjudicate this.

  2. Sorry George….if this case is not mediated then it goes back to the suit phase again…and Mr. Caprio has said that every previous case like this, the states have lost….and it would cost R.I. millions….so what would you have 80% of the pension reform or zero…talk about being stupid, george. Don’t believe a word gina says about the state having a good case….she has been wrong on most things especially fiduciary matters….you can’t just promise people a pension for their working careers and then take it away without some repercussions….duuuuhhhhh!

  3. George says:

    Ask the public sector employee’s in Central Falls if pensions (however modest some may be) can be taken away. Duhhhhh! A parasite can’t drain all the blood from the host without killing it.
    She’s not taking anybody’s pensions away. The general assembly after months of negotiating came up with a solution that can keep Rhode Islands cities from going bankrupt. Yes, they voted to suspend COLA’s for nearly two decades to save the pensions for today’s workers and tomorrows. In the long run it would be better for Rhode Island to lose in court. If the unions win they will still have to make concessions to stop state aid from drying up to the towns. Rhode Island can’t file bankruptcy but Providence can. Half of Providence’s budget comes from state aid. If the state has to funnel extra $100,000,000′s each year to the pensions that money can’t go to Providence or the other cities that relay on state aid. The fraud that is defined pension benefits has run it’s course. The money has run dry. Time to switch public sector employee’s into 401k’s and social security. I think we can all agree that any program the government forces private employers and employee’s to pay into should also be good enough for the public sector unions. The working people of Rhode Island have been getting screwed long enough. Its time for some sanity and transparency in our public sector costs. Whats your answer? Raise taxes, How are high taxes working out for our economy? We have double the unemployment of NH. The numbers don’t lie, regardless of how much smarter Paul Doughty thinks she is than the unions.

  4. Bob Johnson says:

    A contract is a contract…and THAT is what all state employees sign when they accept an employment offer. All employees must accept the terms of their employment including pension/retirement terms and they MUST sign this agreement upon employment. This is a fact that can’t be disputed. If the bank holding your mortgage suddenly said that they were doubling the interest on your home mortgage because they mismanaged their holdings and will go bankrupt, that would be illegal, no? You citizens just hate state employees and will use any argument to justify your biased, hate-filled view. I have never seen such hate for state employees and we can thank the media for perpetuating it.

    1. Paul Vincent Zecchino says:

      Bob Johnson –

      Agree. Thank you for stating the truth. So many of these supposed pro-’reform’ posts stink of blind hatred for state employees and retirees.

      They can post all the supposed contrived facts, suppositions, innuendo, and scare tactics they want, but it still comes across as small minded jealousy at expense of those who paid well into their pensions because that’s what the state required of them.

  5. grente says:

    George, you state that: “The general assembly after months of negotiating came up with a solution that can keep Rhode Islands cities from going bankrupt.” Huh? The General Assembly didn’t “come up” with anything.” Gina Raimondo did. And they negotiated?? With who? It certainly wasn’t the unions. If they had, there would be no lawsuit at all, because there would have been an agreement. And exactly how much is “extra $100,000,000′s”?? You do know, I hope, because it sounds made up. If ‘numbers don’t lie’, then tell us what the numbers are. And you feel it’s time to “switch” them into 401k’s huh? Well, that’s what the lawsuit is about George, the legality of switching. Pesky laws, huh. And I’d be careful about deciding “we can all agree” about something that you dreamed up. ‘We’ don’t ‘all agree’. If we did, there would, again, be no lawsuit. But since you clearly feel that “any program the government forces private employers and employee’s to pay into should also be good enough for the public sector unions”, then what about the program that the government forces the public sector unions to pay into, namely the pension system, that they in turn agreed to provide certain benefits in exchange for? I’m no legal expert like you, but that sounds a lot like a contract. And you’ve also decided Joe Workingman’s answer is ‘raise taxes’. Really? when did he say that? If you want to ask him, then do so, but you can’t just answer your own question and say it’s his answer, because it’s not. It’s something you decided was his answer.

  6. George says:

    A contract is a contract until one of signers can no longer fulfill their obligation. Then the contract is broken and that’s what we have here. The unions sued (which is what I would do if the bank tried to change my mortgage rate). And I would not be looking for a settlement. If the unions are so sure their right then lets arrive at settled law. Its not hate for public workers. Its a love for Rhode Island and for the first time in a long time I see that the death spiral might have a chance to slow down. Kicking the can down the road so in 30 years our kids and grand kids are still in a slumping economy with some of the highest unemployment in the country. I don’t want that, none of us should. Lets have settled law and work from there. Concessions from the unions and retirees in different places has shown that many already know from watching our friends in Central Falls that this is for real.

  7. George says:

    Grente, You made many points and I will attempt to address each of them.

    1. Gina Raimondo has no vote in the general assembly. The general assembly (many who were elected with union support) voted to enact the pension reform into law.

    2. There were a series of pension negotiating sessions held over a series of months and union representation was there. They were simply outvoted by the other members of the committee who could add.

    3. Pension reform is supposed to save about $4,000,000,000 over 24 years. Or roughly $144,000,000 a year.

    4. The proposed system is a hybrid and isn’t the case really about COLA’s and retirement security for the people that are already retired.

    5. Okay, you’ve got me. I can see where people in defined benefit plans wouldn’t want to be in social security. It’s certainly not fair or right that a government that forces employees and employers to pay money every week into social security would expect the same from its own workers. BTW federal employees and congress pay into social security (For those hired after 1984) Its some other governments that don’t.

    6. I stand corrected. Joe Workingman didn’t say to raise taxes. Perhaps he thought we would go out back and pick it off the money tree. Where do you think the government gets ALL of its money. Taxes and fees.

    I hope this cleared some things up for you.

    1. Grentae says:

      1. “Gina Raimondo has no vote in the general assembly. The general assembly (many who were elected with union support) voted to enact the pension reform into law.”

      Yeah, I know she has no vote. I never said she did. I also know the General Assembly voted to enact the legislation. I never said they didn’t. What I questioned was your assertion that the General Assembly ‘came up with’ the legislation, after ‘negotiating’. They did neither. Raimondo ‘came up with it’, and there was no negotiation.

      2. “There were a series of pension negotiating sessions held over a series of months and union representation was there. They were simply outvoted by the other members of the committee who could add.”

      Uh, no. there simply was no negotiating going on, and there was no ‘vote’ given to union representation that they were ‘outvoted’ on. Nice try though..

      3. “Pension reform is supposed to save about $4,000,000,000 over 24 years. Or roughly $144,000,000 a year.”

      Supposed to, eh? Time will tell, but evidently you think they are going to turn around and deliver these ‘savings’ to the cities and towns. They’re not. As a matter of fact, they have drastically cut state aid to municipalities over the last few years, even after pension reform.

      4. “The proposed system is a hybrid and isn’t the case really about COLA’s and retirement security for the people that are already retired.”

      It’s not a ‘proposed’ system, it’s already in place. And no, Actually the case is about the constitutionality of altering agreements after taking workers money for decades and then deciding they don’t need to honor the agreement.

      5. “Okay, you’ve got me. I can see where people in defined benefit plans wouldn’t want to be in social security. It’s certainly not fair or right that a government that forces employees and employers to pay money every week into social security would expect the same from its own workers. BTW federal employees and congress pay into social security (For those hired after 1984) Its some other governments that don’t.”

      Not sure you understood what I said. I was referring to them being forced to pay into the pension system (at one of the highest rates in the country), not Social Security which most also pay into.

      6. “I stand corrected. Joe Workingman didn’t say to raise taxes. Perhaps he thought we would go out back and pick it off the money tree. Where do you think the government gets ALL of its money. Taxes and fees.”

      He didn’t say he thought we would pick it off the money tree either. You did. You did say ‘perhaps’, though, so you’re learning. But perhaps he didn’t think that at all. And where do I think the government gets ALL of its money? To be sure,taxes, but also from other sources such as the lottery. So not ALL from taxes.

      “I hope this cleared some things up for you.”

      I also had hope, but it was not to be. I think you should work on reading comprehension. Try moving you lips when you read….

      1. George says:

        Re-spouting your inane lies one more time doesn’t make them true. Let us see this adjudicated. Whether you post as grentae or pvz it doesn’t matter that you play little games with words. The substance of my argument is correct. You are wrong, and if your not wrong prove it before the supreme court. The unions lack conviction in their beliefs and they shall be vanquished in court.

        The funny thing is Ms. Raimondo is trying to protect all state workers both those alive today and the ones not yet born. Had it been me negotiating I would have gone for ending all defined benefit pensions and moved everybody into 401k’s (and social security for those that don’t have it). Then the retiree’s could manage their own retirement accounts and see how high the management fee’s are for normal people. Not to mention it would eliminate the special interest power of the unions by showing taxpayers the true cost of government.

      2. Grentae says:

        Can’t say what I lied about though, can you? And you think I’m Paul Zecchino too? Bwahaha….no, but I am a big fan of his. So the only lame argument you seem to be clinging to, is the ridiculous assertion that somehow the unions are afraid to go to court and are ‘looking for a settlement’. That’s as bizarre as it is dopey. Ok, let’s unwrap this nonsense. You think that the unions are in mediation because they’re unsure of their chances in court, and they somehow have forced the state to participate in mediation? Mediation was ordered by the judge. The unions, nor the state, have any choice in the matter. The more you write, the more apparent your total ignorance of the subject is revealed. And you would have ‘gone for ending’ defined benefits, and ‘moved’ everyone into 401k’s? Great. Then the State can just cut everybody a check for everything they have contributed, plus interest, and stop collecting those contributions from everyone’s paycheck, and they will happily give up control of that massive pile of cash? Some advice. You should probably keep your fantasy world, where you are calling the shots, and those who disagree ‘shall be vanquished’, to yourself. I’ll admit it’s hilarious, and somewhat adorable in it’s childish simplicity, but ultimately you wind up embarrassing yourself. And I’d also watch who you’re calling a liar, although I’m sure your far too cowardly to dare say it to someone in person.

  8. Justin Case says:

    CA CHING, CA CHING, CA CHING! YEAH, IT MUST BE THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN! My Union Boss down at the Town Hall emailed me yesterday and.
    Told me that this article was hitting the Papers today, and He told Me.
    to make it Look like I was Working till this Blows Over in a week. I
    know the routine! In a week, I’ll be back to my usual activity of.
    Collecting A Paycheck for Doing Nothing! Hey, Private Sector.
    Workers; You really gotta Pony Up more Taxes! I need at least a 10 %.
    raise! My Cabin Cruiser at the Dock behind my Vacation House in.
    Florida needs a New Engine. My wife has been after me for a new car.
    She wants a BMW X6 G-Power Typhoon S! I told her I can’t afford that.
    car. So then she says she will accept a Mercedes-Benz CL-Class and.
    Nothing else! I also got Private School Tuition of $ 40,000.00 due.
    in September. I got Credit Card Expenses coming out my AXX! That
    new 3000 sq ft extension on my house raised my property taxes $ 15,000.
    The maid and the housekeeper want raises. The gardener also wants a.
    raise. You see Bunky; It ain’t easy in the Public Sector! So come
    on Private Sector Worker; Pony Up and Pay More Taxes so I can afford to.
    live here! You See; Life Is Not Fair, and the DemoRats will take.
    care of Everything! HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN!

    1. Grentae says:

      Nope, still not clever or funny. How many times are you going to paste this? I know you worked hard on it and all, but humor, it’s not your thing….

  9. Paul Vincent Zecchino says:

    George –

    When a contract is broken, the reasons for breaking it often become not merely irrelevant, but grounds for a handsome settlement for the one who upheld it.

    Try it sometime. Breech a contract. See what happens. You’ll likely get sued. A court will likely hold the reasons for your breech against you and issue a judgement in favor of your adversary. Your adversary will likely take whatever assets of yours to which he’s legally entitled to satisfy the judgement.

    The state clearly is not out of money. This was a rash decision to unlawfully deny retirees their contractually owed COLAs and hand them to hedge fund cronies, for reasons and possible considerations one can only begin to imagine.

    The fact that the aspiring Master of the Universe, Michael ‘guns for me, not for you’ Bloomberg and the ENRON gang and the gutless EngougeRI instigated this doesn’t inspire confidence.

  10. Paul Vincent Zecchino says:

    Justin Case –

    Have you considered auditioning at the new comedy lounge at the Bus Terminal?

    Where do you get your ‘facts’? The Fact Store? They having the annual Fall Moron Sale?

    Try reading Ted Siedle’s report, or perhaps have one of your caregivers read it to you. Surely you can make up some jokes to refute it.

  11. George says:

    Paul, Why are those that feel the state is in the wrong so eager for a compromise? If as I wrote in an earlier post felt a contract had been breached I would want to see my lawsuit adjudicated.

  12. Paul Vincent Zecchino says:

    George -

    Are you asking a question or tossing a red herring, a straw-man to derange the argument?

    Let’s assume you’re not being disingenuous. Alright, here’s the short of it: only a completely naïve person or a delusional crusader waltzes into court armed with the facts and evidence, confident that he’ll win.

    Have you ever been to court? As a witness? Defendant? Plaintiff? If so, you surely know that in court, anything can occur.

    People sashay in armed to the teeth with the weight of evidence and the law on their side, represented by fine counsel, only to have their head handed to them.

    Other times, they prevail, but only after years and sometimes decades of costly wrangling.

    Have you ever consulted a lawyer about litigation? A good one would tell you this: Court fights are a war of attrition at the end of which no one walks out of court smiling. It’s about losing all ’round.

    Beyond all that, the legal system is designed for mediation, not litigation. Something on the order of ninety-five percent of civil suits filed never get to trial, as courts encourage all parties to negotiate. To litigate even half the court actions filed every year, you’d need to build thousands of new courthouses, hire tens of thousands of judges, bailiffs, stenographers; the system would collapse.

    Ask any lawyer: trials are for Perry Mason. Most instances, after lawyers and their clients thrash out a settlement in a closed room and reach an agreement, they all walk into court smiling to tell the judge they’ve worked it out. The judge issues a ruling, usually signing an order written by the lawyers.

    This is standard.

    As Governor Chaffee – a decent man whose family name well known for financial acumen – soberingly noted, negotiating may well save everyone much by way of financial costs and good will lost.

    1. Paul Vincent Zecchino says:

      PS –

      And as Governor Chaffee long ago counseled, to no avail to the stiff-necked young one, taking a more gradual approach to reform would have preserved the good will of retirees, shored up the pension fund, and saved everyone the cost and upset of the legal process inclusing mediation and court activity.

      Governor Chaffee’s family name is synonymous with financial acumen and decency. He counseled that a gradual approach be taken. His fine counsel was apparently callously dismissed.

      “One thing I have learned: move calmly, move cautiously, you’ll never be sorry.” – Joel Weinstock (Harold Gary) “The French Connection”, c. 1971

  13. George says:

    Paul, I’ve never been to court. Our pension system has a chance to be fixed, preserve pensions for today’s retiree’s and tomorrows. And we can do it without ruining the enormous state aid that goes to our towns and the future of our children. People on your side are confident that the law is on their side. Lets find out. Either way Rhode Island can have settled law. If the state loses it will force the state to actually make the systemic changes to our pensions that are necessary. I basically see compromise as kicking the can down the road.

  14. Paul Vincent Zecchino says:

    George -

    Well there you go again. OK, no sense wasting words on those who don’t read them.

    ‘People on your side’? Yeah? What side is that? Here’s the juice: a contract is a contract. You apparently believe that when circumstances change, for example when a grasping political opportunist cries that the sky is falling, a contract may be broken with impunity.

    As for my thoughts, though you claim to know them, they’re irrelevant.

    This isn’t about me or you. A contract was broken. If you read what I wrote, which was apparently wasted on you as you seem to be just another roboposter perhaps crabbing lines from talking points, you’d recognize what the Governor was saying: it’s better to stay away from courts altogether, but if you must go, it’s better to negotiate than litigate.

    The reasons for negotiating need no explanation, and for those who refuse to fathom that simple common sense principle, no amount of words would be sufficient.

    There you go yet again, talking about ruining state aid and – oh, please, spare us, will you? – ‘the children’.

    Please, because many shill-parrots are claiming this, just exactly what amount in dollars or percentages of your state income taxes, which surely are very very high, go to the pension system? Hmmmm?

    If you see compromise as kicking the can down the road, then apparently you are uninformed as to the nature of compromise and as well you reveal yourself as just another intransigent resentful of retired state employees.

    I’ve yet to read a coherent, straightforward post from anyone on ‘your side of the issue’, whatever that may or may not be. It’s all manipulation, speculation, and vituperation.

    Here’s the juice: a contract was broken by someone who is now exposed as having done so not to save the pension nor to rescue ‘the children’ which you mention. They did it to divert contractually owed monies to hedge fund cronies for considerations one cannot begin to imagine.

    You keep trying to make this about something else when it’s just what the governor and now Frank Caprio have said: when states break contracts, and for particularly self-serving reasons such as the aspirations of someone with much to learn, they lose.

    Changed circumstances, as you transparently cite as yet another red herring, are irrelevant, and often their cynical mention costs the defendant. That’s what the Governor and Mr. Caprio are saying.

    This entire mess could have been avoided had wiser minds’ counsel to take the long view of things been heeded.

    But the young and grasping always want the quick nickel over the slow dime.

  15. George says:

    Paul, Whatever, let the two sides go to court. We need settled law. I believe Rhode Island, its taxpayers and employees will be better off moving forward. Even if it costs taxpayers money in the short term it will act as a forcing function to change our system. That’s it, no hatred for state workers. As opposed to your apparent disdain for ordinary Rhode Islanders that should lose their homes to preserve a deeply flawed system.

  16. Paul Vincent Zecchino says:

    George –

    Apparently, I’ve failed to express myself in clear manner.

    “Let the two sides go to court”, you say? Where do you think they’ve been all this time? On safari at Crescent Park?

    The two sides are in court, of which mediation is a part, as in ‘court ordered mediation’.

    You impute to me a disdain of ordinary RI workers who will lose their homes on account of the pension? Oh, please, George, spare us your tiresome Victim schtick. Which homes? Who is about to lose their homes on account of pension mediation?

    It was pointed out to you that your posts seem disingenuous, efforts not to inform or debate but instead to provoke and misdirect by means of Victim-blathering such as people losing their homes if COLAs are restored to retirees.

    George, COLAs denied retirees are presently being paid and then some to hedge fund cronies, and no one’s lost their home.

    So spare us your convoluted, smug, attempts at misdirection.

    The two sides are in court. Please feel free to reread my posts. When you go to court, apparently you believe it to be just like on TV – if you’re not merely being manipulative. You apparently believe both sides duke it out in front of a jury, and then a judge bangs the gavel after some commercial breaks, and all is well.

    Either you’re unteachable or just engaging in tediously predictable efforts to misdirect.

  17. Paul Vincent Zecchino says:

    George -

    When you regressed to insults by falsely stating that I hold ‘ordinary RI workers in contempt’, you invalidated everthing you’ve said thus far.

    Apparently all you can do is insult. That the best you got? All you can do?

    Insults. Scare tactics. Scoldings. Diktats. Same old stuff. You’re off your game, George.

  18. George says:

    Paul below are the insults that you directed at me in your post. So sorry I hurt your feelings by pointing out that you feel contempt for ordinary Rhode Islanders. I clearly use the word “adjudicate” (that means to settle by judicial decree) several times in my posts above. Clearly you are throwing out the red herrings. I’ll concede that the state may have broken a contract by suspending the COLA’s. That should eventually be decided by the state’s supreme court. And if the state broke a contract, was the fiscal health of the state so desperate that the reform was legally justifiable. No amount of multi syllable antique words are going to change that.

    Agree. Thank you for stating the truth. So many of these supposed pro-’reform’ posts stink of blind hatred for state employees and retirees.

    They can post all the supposed contrived facts, suppositions, innuendo, and scare tactics they want, but it still comes across as small minded jealousy at expense of those who paid well into their pensions because that’s what the state required of them.

    Please, because many shill-parrots are claiming this, just exactly what amount in dollars or percentages of your state income taxes, which surely are very very high, go to the pension system? Hmmmm?

    If you see compromise as kicking the can down the road, then apparently you are uninformed as to the nature of compromise and as well you reveal yourself as just another intransigent resentful of retired state employees.

    I’ve yet to read a coherent, straightforward post from anyone on ‘your side of the issue’, whatever that may or may not be. It’s all manipulation, speculation, and vituperation

    George, spare us your tiresome Victim schtick.

    Either you’re unteachable or just engaging in tediously predictable efforts to misdirect.

  19. Paul Vincent Zecchino says:

    George –

    “The state broke the contract with employees…” Noted. Thank you.

    1. Grentae says:

      Uh, they did genius…

      1. George says:

        You are awesome!

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