HARROP FOR PROVIDENCE
Harrop Victory Fund
PO Box 603364, Providence, RI 02906

Facebook: "Dr. Daniel Harrop"
Twitter: @DanHarrop
Email: HarropVictory@gmail.com
Phone: 401-390-2790


Daniel S. Harrop, M.D.

WHY I AM RUNNING FOR MAYOR:

I have to admit that every time I hear my opponents in the Democratic Party talk about their plans, I am impressed.  Yes, we should put a billion dollars into the schools.  Yes, we have to reform the Providence Economic Development Partnership.  Yes, we need One Providence and a strict code of ethics. Yes, every family deserves great schools, good paying jobs, and a safe environment.

BUT,

This election is about numbers. At the risk of putting you to sleep, Let me give you some numbers:

 The Providence Journal reports the city needs $1.2 billion to cover its current and future pension obligations, and has about $336 million.

 According to GoLocalProv.com, Providence’s unfunded liability for retiree health care and other benefits is even worse than it is for pensions. The liability for retiree health benefits is over $1.1 billion and is 90 percent unfunded,

The city's rate of return assumption on its pension fund is 8.25%, far above what it has traditionally gotten.  In an opinion piece that ran in the Wall Street Journal entitled "The Pension Rate-of-Return Fantasy",  the conclusion was that “The right number is probably 3%."

And finally, Providence has had the highest commercial tax rates in country two years running. (The City Council congratulating itself on, having achieved that distinction, deciding not to raise the tax again last year – a major accomplishment we are told).

It was pointed out to me that high taxes are not necessarily a bad thing. Witness Europe, where there are high taxes, but also high services (and unemployment well above the US).  But here in Providence, as our taxes have increased, we continue with six of the eight worst high schools in the state. Crime in Providence has gotten significantly worse under the administration of Angel Taveras, according to the Congressional Quarterly, which analyzed murders, rapes, robbery, aggravated assaults, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts in more than 400 cities. Since Taveras took over, Providence has dropped 44 spots in the national rankings and is now among the cities in the top 25% for serious crime, the 358th most dangerous city out of the top 400 cities. We're at the lowest compliment we've been at in the police force in 15 years.

So, let’s get serious real: where will get the numbers, the funds, for our schools and our police.  That is what the people of Providence need to be discussing in this election.

We can’t raise taxes.  Have you noticed the empty office space downtown, and not just in the Superman building?

I am the only candidate who has pledged to use the Mayor’s office to attempt to block any and all further tax increases – to have pledged to bring some fiscal control to the city.

I am the only candidate who has pledged to work to roll back the exorbitant pensions and benefits handed out like candy by a succession of Democratic mayors (remember our former fire chief who retired with a salary of $60K and now gets $190K)

And I am the only candidate pushing for school choice, including vouchers, which school parents (62%), urbanites (63%), young voters (62%), low-income earners (63%),  African Americans (76%) according to a survey from Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice conducted by Braun Research, Inc. (http://www.rifreedom.org/2013/10/the-school-choice-idea-in-rhode-island-myths-opinions-and-realities/)

Providence needs radical change, and that will only come with a Republican administration.  When you vote this November, think hard. Go with the numbers, not the rhetoric.


PLATFORM

JOBS

Enhance Employment In The City By Fostering New Business Opportunities: We are pro-business and realize that development, especially development along our currently vastly underdeveloped waterfront in order  to broaden the tax base and brings revenue to the city. Barriers to private development in areas being opened by the moving of the highways must be eliminated.

We need to support existing small businesses and encourage new small business development.  Permit applications must be approved or rejected within 30 days, or automatically approved.  Venture capital loans should be made available to local small businesses, especially those that cross neighborhood boundaries.

Public-Private partnerships must be fostered.  Colleges and Universities need to be brought in to the planning process, especially when it comes to fixing our broken educational system, as they are out partners in the city's future. The medical and culinary industries must be fostered.  We will eliminate the morass of permits and permissions needed to set up a private business. Tax breaks should concentrate on small businesses, not large.  Intrusive regulations must be eliminated. The Providence Economic Development Partnership must be reformed. 

Attract Affordable Housing & New Construction Jobs To The City By Reducing Zoning Regulations: With hundreds on wait lists, Providence residents have to fight too hard to find affordable housing as well as prosperous employment opportunities. With less burdensome regulations, Providence will get affordable housing and a spike in demand for construction jobs by speeding permits and streamlining the zoning exceptions.

Smart Economic Development: Put simply our city’s record on economic development has been less than encouraging. It is our desire to put an end to a corrupt system in the city of Providence in which the well connected can extract city money for their schemes without presenting credible business model for how there project will work, and how it will bring jobs and economic growth to Providence.

CITY FINANCES

Revolutionize The City’s Broken Pension System: I support rolling back exobitant pensions given away for political gain years ago, and  fulfilling the city’s reasonable pension obligations through bond issues that would have immediate short-term savings, while fully funding our current commitments. I support immediate changes in the ongoing pension system, eventually moving to a pay-as-you-go system, this is something the all-Democratic City Council has continued to ignore.

Sell off Assets: While it certainly would be something of a “one-time fix” the fact remains that unlike many municipalities, Providence has a great many saleable assets. Most obvious among these are a number of abandoned city buildings which cost Providence taxpayers approximately one half million dollars in maintenance and utility costs alone per fiscal year.

An alternative to an outright sale of assets would be long-term leasing of some city assets to private management and development companies. This option would allow the City of Providence to maintain ownership of the properties, while reducing employment related expenses, ongoing maintenance costs, it would promote greater efficiencies in operations. Among the candidates for possible long-term leasing would be the Scituate Reservoir and the Roger Williams Park and Zoo. This type of leasing would great way to redevelop underutilized city-owned buildings as well. Good examples of how this has been done quite successfully are the Laurelmead and Epoch developments on leased land within the Butler Hospital Campus on the East Side of Providence.

Freeze Taxes: We are the only state in the union where a mere 20-mile drive allows people to cut their taxes by as much as 50 percent.  By freezing the propery tax rate on all properties for the next two years, the city will see a greater gain of long-term residents, an increase of inter-town commerce, and additional generation tax revenues as a result.

Generate additional revenue by shedding unnecessary assets: By reducing unused or under-used city-owned land, putting these tracts back into the hands of private citizens would generate short-term revenue and expand the property-tax base.  The rest of our holdings in the reservoir (already mortgaged to the tune of $600 million dollars to support the pension system) can be sold.

Work To Reduce Crime By Focusing on Economic Opportunity and Education Reform: Knowledge is power, so the “silver bullet” to reducing poverty and criminal violence is education and opportunity. Providence has a dwindling middle class and an increasing number of both poor and wealthy people, thus creating a societal divide of haves and have-nots. Forty-three percent of the city's residents now speak a language other than English at home.  Therefore, this must be the primary priority of the Mayor and the City Council in order to better the future of young Providence residents.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Community Policing: In order to healthy vibrant city a professional and effective police department with a reputation for honesty and integrity that is above reproach. We believe the best possible way to foster this would be to build a relationship between the police department and all of the diverse communities that make up our greater community, this has often been referred to ask “community policing” or “broken windows policing”.

Community Policing US Department of Justice as, “A philosophy that promotes organizational strategies which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as; crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.” This progressive method of proactive policing pioneered by such great Progressive Republican reform Mayors as Rudy Giuliani and Richard Riordan of New York and Los Angelis respectively.

When these gentleman came into office in 1994 crime rampant, violent crime in particular. Between 1993 and 1998 the number of homicides reported in New York City was reduced by nearly 140% and rapes going down by about 30%. According to the FBI, the crime rate in New York City dropped to approximately 1/3 the rate of what it had been in 1994, and has continued to drop throughout the Giuliani’s two terms (1994-2002) and the three terms (2002-present) of his successor Michael Bloomberg whom continued the use of Giuliani’s public safety policies (New York Crime Statistics).

It is our position that this can work in Providence as well, and will serve not only the cities public safety concerns, but also the reputation of our renaissance city in the area making more people comfortable patronizing our shops and entertainment centers and therefore contributing to the cities economic health. 

EDUCATION

Support Efforts to Reform Schools: Providence is home to five of the seven worst performing high schools; four of the five worst middle schools; and five of the five worst elementary schools in Rhode Island (Peppin). Only by transforming or closing failing schools will Providence students be able to maximize their educational potential.

As US Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan has noted, the quality of the teacher is an indispensable component to learning. To that end, it is our position that the City of Providence should move away from the current system which retains, promotes and rewards teachers for longevity of service. Rather, we need to build the infrastructure of an educational system that will attract, retain, and reward success. 

Teacher evaluations need to be used in promotion and retention decisions. Teachers whose classes have failed to advance for three consecutive years must be let go or suspended and sent for re-training. 

More executive power must be granted to the Principals of our schools in terms of both shaping the curriculum of the schools and human resource management including decisions on hiring, retaining, and promoting teachers. If the school committee is to be the board of directors of the Providence Education system, the mayor as the Chief Executive Officer, than the principles must function semi-autonomous executive Vice Presidents in charge of day-to-day operations in their schools.

We will  allow and encourage Non-certified professionals who are content experts and have appropriate life experience will be allowed to teach in our schools for such subjects as art, music, and the trades.

We will ban bumping in teacher lay-offs. 

We oppose binding arbitration as a solution to school contract disputes.

We oppose the implementation of NECAP at this time.

Support the Establishment of More Charter Schools: On the issue of charter schools, we would say that while the notion has met with some resistance by the educational establishment both in Providence and elsewhere, the issue remains that we have a problem, Providence is (and has been for some time) home to five of the eight worst performing schools in our state. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said during the midst of the Great Depression, we must “demand bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

By welcoming public schools which are free of many burdensome regulations imposed on traditional school systems, we would give on-site school boards and principals greater authority over hiring and firing teachers, and a more dynamic direction of how to improve instruction without spending additional money. The money should follow each student according to the school which they attend.

QUALITY OF LIFE

Swim Empowerment. The Director of Recreation recently chose to close the Davey Lopes community swimming pool, citing the approximately $40,000 per year cost to operate it. While we certainly encourage the idea of trimming costs in unnecessary areas, we support the efforts of private groups to re-open our neighborhood pools. We believe that an idea which encourages those contributions, such as creating a city matching fund would be worthwhile.

Parking: We need to provide free, non-metered, short-term (one hour) parking on each and every city block where we have businesses.

ETHICS

We need to enhance our city’s ethical standards.  I would prohibit municipal judges from donating to mayoral and City Council campaigns. I will end preferential treatment based on a personal relationships.   I will end contracts awarded to companies who show their support through campaign contributions. We need to provide city employees with training on how to avoid conflicts of interest and activities that are prohibited under the Code of Ethics.  We need to create a watchdog commission to ensure that no city contracts, tax breaks, promotions, or special services are awarded because of campaign contributions, gifts, favors, or bribes to those in office.

Finally: A Mayor needs to be motivated by public service, should know how to work with and listen to others, should know that she/he does not know, should make decisions based on empirical evidence (in a scientific manner), should have a strong sense of compassion, should realize there is no silver bullet, should not politicize issues, should involve all groups within the community, should foster a sense of community, should seek out and use the talents already in the Providence community, should be able to relate to the diverse cultures represented in Providence, should promote transparency and should promote technology.