Taveras takes cheap shot on Raimondo

Taveras takes cheap shot on Raimondo


I love competitive political races, so I was gratified by the entry of Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and former candidate Ken Block into the gubernatorial contest. Mayor Taveras, however, took a cheap shot at General Treasurer Gina Raimondo by intimating that she was beholden to Wall Street while he was only answerable to “Main Street.” He has a heck of a nerve castigating her.
His obvious reference was to the flack that the General Treasurer has been taking because of the state investments in hedge funds. Male journalists have been doing investigative reports about her investments in this vehicle. There has been nary a peep from these scribes  about Mr. Taveras’ own walk down Wall Street with the Providence Investment Commission, which totally overshadows her sally onto “The Street.” In the May 23, 2013 report provided to the Providence Investment Commission, the retirement assets of Providence employees in hedge funds was 19.2 percent—dwarfing the 12.5 percent that the State Investment Commission has put into hedge funds. The Providence Investment folks have also allocated 1.3% in private equity, including Point Judith Venture Equity. If the mere investment percentages mean one is beholden to Wall Street, Mr. Tavares would be the champ chump.
Apparently, anticipating that he was going to announce for Governor, he has tried to reduce this exposure so he could throw brickbats at Ms. Raimondo. On September 30 hedge fund investments in Providence were at 16.6—still higher than the state’s allocation. On October 22, right before his announcement, the Commission dumped some investments to bring the total to 14 percent, with private equity at 1 percent.
With the state firefighters endorsing Mr. Taveras, despite his ties to Wall Street being stronger than Ms. Raimondo’s, one can see that the real issue is actually about her drive for pension reform. The irony of this attack is that she should actually be thanked for making sure that public employees have a pot of gold at their end of the rainbow. Younger people in in the public sector system were going to find straw dust instead.
Hedge funds are a tool which most prudent investors use. These funds are supposed to stabilize investments since they usually go up when the market goes down. All of us are familiar with the expression of “hedging a bet,” which makes a lot of sense. Casting opprobrium on the use of one tool in the toolbox is just plain foolish.
I suspect something else is in play by these good old boys. They hate the thought of a successful and smart woman who doesn’t kowtow to their “brilliance.” Ms. Raimondo deserves the accolades of all of us in the private and public sector for averting a disaster, something the boys club had failed to do for years. Now they just want to take her out for her audacity in promoting reform.
Mr. Taveras will, no doubt, revert to innuendo about her receiving funds from outsiders—despite her policy of not accepting donations from those investment managers who do business with the state treasurer’s office. One has to wonder whether his lackluster fundraising is really about envy.
I hope the foolishness of the “boys” club ceases and that the challengers and their proxies  can begin to address the real issues facing this state, as opposed to the concocted issues. Then again, maybe they don’t have anything to say.


  1. To simply dismiss the tactics implemented by the General Treasurer and cast stones at “the boy’s club” is missing the primary difference between the tactics used by Treasurer Raimondo versus those used by Mayor Tavares.

    The Treasurer failed to give adequate bargaining opportunity to the collective bargaining units affected by the pension cuts. Rather she whipped votes and pressured expediting legislation to cut pensions, hesging her own bets on legal semantics between contractual and statutory.

    The Mayor, on the other hand, took his own version of extreme measures by immediately terminating teachers. However, he then met with Providence unions and listened to them, eventually negotiating a deal.

    One tactic was respectful of the individuals affected. The other was a means by which to “show who is boss” in order to pander to the fabulously wealthy, out of state donors making up the majority of her campaign contributions.

    If, in fact, Treasurer Raimondo is being targeted because of her sex, please explain the outspoken group of women formed to show their female lack of support for her agenda: Women United for Economic Security.