Safford: Providence Water Bills Would Rip Off Scituate

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We saw 19 gun control bills come into the general assembly at the exact same time earlier this year. The end result of these bills would essentially all point to the same outcome–public safety. 

Some of these bills were almost identical. Members of the general assembly were shooting from the heart with their best ideas to protect their friends and family. But that end result didn’t really involve a revenue stream.

No Excuses or Coincidences 

This week two Water bills just came up at the same time in the general assembly. WPRI reports that they are being told it is a coincidence. Who told you that? Loki the Norse trickster god? Because no one is buying it. How do we know? That’s simply because revenue is involved.

There are no coincidences when revenue is involved!

One bill allows the Narraganset Bay Commission to purchase public water systems and the other allows Providence Water to sell a public water system. Both bills even play off of each other and outline how a perspective deal would work. 

The NBC bill, proposed by some of our top lawmakers, even includes the appointment of Charles Ruggerio to NBC. Headlines on WPRI would draw you to the fact that he is the son of state senator Dominic Ruggerio–but that’s just a diversion.

Union Protection 

The real story is Charlie Ruggerio. He is a labor law pro with the experience to back it up. This isn’t a case of nepotism. This is a case of ‘Prov Water employees are all unionized city workers’ and we need to make that work in a sale of Prov Water systems. For NBC to take over Prov Water they are going to need someone EXACTLY like Charlie Ruggierio.

At this point you should be swearing off WPRI and whoever told them that these two water bills coming up together was a coincidence. Its more than clear that’s not the case.

There are two major issues that need to be ironed out for NBC to purchase Prov Water systems.

The first is the unionized city workers at Providence Water. The second is the title of certain properties. We just established that Charlie Ruggerio has the ability to tackle the former. And Governor Gina Raimondo can just appoint him.

Raising The Rent 

The remaining issue of the title of properties is neatly tucked away in the Diaz bill for Prov Water. A period of five years would allow rates to be raised to recover loses assumed during the transfer. After that period they would be allowed to raise rates without a cap to recover loses for things like ‘rent’.

How can they just raise rates? What about the RI Public Utilities Commission? Well that’s just the item before that removes them from the party.

Does Prov Water plan to lease the land in Scituate to the ‘purchaser’ to circumnavigate issues involving the eminent domain takings and previous judges findings to reclassify some of that land as farm, forest, and open space? Are they attempting to keep their taxes low and profit off of a land lease?

A land lease that would potentially allow rents to be paid and handed down to the rate payers? Its all outlined in these two bills.

Taking Advantage of Scituate

These bills aren’t coincidence. They are conjoined twins! 

I am going to point my big fat finger right to the source in her tower. Gina this has your fingerprints all over it.

 

The NBC is considered a related organization of the state of Rhode Island. Providence has repeatedly fallen short in the general assembly asking for the ability to profit off of the Providence Water systems. If this transaction were to take place the NBC would be able to profit. Where do you think that revenue would go? I see more fingerprints.

You got it. They would go right to the state with potentially massive rents paid to Prov Water and passed on to the ratepayers. The town of Scituate locked into a pittance tax with no way out.

They are losing 40% of their taxable land mass to a back door deal that is attempting to exploit 100+ year old eminent domain land takings and funnel revenue to Providence and the state house right out of your pockets.

Scituate loses. Ratepayers lose. Gina wins.

Yeah WPRI, that seems legit. Definitely a coincidence.

Where’s The Transparency?

Oh yeah….and neither bill restricts the number of times this water system can be flipped. If NBC sees no earning potential they could just sell it to a private investor?

There needs to be more transparency around this issue. If the governor came forward and publicly supported the idea that would be marvelous. If the politicians putting these bills together were open and honest with the public that too would be great. Too many shadow moves going on here.

I feel as though I have to remind some of these elected officials that they work for us. The capacity of their employment is not at their will to leverage. They are public servants.

I shouldn’t have to dig like this. The people deserve better. 

Come on RI: Let’s not take advantage of Scituate, particularly at a time when they don’t even have a sitting senator to represent them. 

James Safford
James Safford is a member of the Scituate Land Trust and Conservation Commission. He has authored multiple books and sees politics though a bipartisan viewpoint. Send him email at jamessafford@yahoo.com.
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3 COMMENTS

  1. And we cannot help but think this deal may have something to do with the Invenergy power plant proposed in Pascoag RI…..We all know one of there biggest struggles has been locking in their water source…..With this deal CREC would get all the water it needs….ANOTHER coincidence? I think NOT

  2. We the people get answers after the fact and that’s a crime. When revenue is involved we can only expect to know less than half of the truth. We need to make sure we elect individuals in the fall that have identified this as a problem and are working on solutions to provide the answers up front. Every executable action that originates in that general assembly is financially backed by the tax payers. We deserve better than what we are getting.

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