Former Mayor Taveras happy to watch politics from afar

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Angel Taveras says thanks, but no thanks.

The former Democratic mayor of Providence is perfectly happy with his life outside politics and said he has no plans to return.

“I don’t have any desire right now,” said Taveras, who is now working as an attorney in private practice. “I am very happy doing what I am doing right now.”

Taveras is back in the public eye after his portrait was unveiled last weekend. The privately-funded oil painting is hanging on the third floor of city hall. 

Perhaps Taveras’ biggest move as mayor was pushing through major changes to the city pension plan.

The 2011 reform package included eliminating costly 5% and 6% compounding cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) and freezing COLAs for 10 years. The plan, and subsequent settlement with city employees and most retirees, also called for changing how pensions are calculated and moved retirees over the age of 65 to Medicare. Taveras said the changes lowered the unfunded liability by $200 million.

“Without what we did in the city of Providence, I can tell you the city would not have survived financially,” Taveras said during a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers. “We would have gone and filed for chapter nine and I think that would have been devastating for the city, I think it would have been devastating for the state, I think we’d still be digging out of that.” 

A recent audit found despite the reform, the pension plan is still under 27% funded and has a $1 billion shortfall. But Taveras insisted it’s a long-term fix.

“We are on a 28-year amortization,” he said. “A 28-year period for it becoming fully funded.”

On the current state of politics, Taveras counts Cranston Mayor Allan Fung – a Republican gubernatorial candidate – as a close friend; the two attended Classical High School together. Despite that, he said he will continue to throw his support behind incumbent Gov. Gina Raimondo, who defeated him in the 2014 Democratic primary.

“I love Allan, Allan and I go way back to high school,” Taveras said. “I don’t have anything negative to say about Allan except one thing, and I know he says it about me: he’s in the wrong party.”

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

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