Letter from Block Island. Dining with the sharks.

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Rhode Island Governor and pension thief Gina Raimondo last night at Finn’s. Photo: F. Klonsky

Finn’s Seafood shares the town’s water front with the ferry docks. Finn’s is downstairs. Ernie’s is upstairs and is owned by the same folks. Ernie’s serves up a pretty good diner breakfast. Their coffee isn’t great. It is pretty much a rule that it is rare to find a place that serves up a good diner breakfast and makes good coffee.

Finn’s is the place in New Shoreham on B.I. to get lobster. That’s where we went last night. I didn’t order the lobster. I had a craving for clam strips and clam chowder. A bunch of the family ordered the lobster, however. One ordered it with a scallop stuffing, which is pretty amazing.

While we are waiting for our table at Finn’s I noticed a family sitting at an outside table. I recognized the woman as Gina Raimondo, the Governor of Rhode Island.

Now, what are the odds I would even know the name of the Rhode Island Governor, let alone recognize her at a table at Finn’s?

Because she is a pension thief, that’s why!

If you have been reading my blog for a long time you will remember the story of me having Rahm Emanuel eating next to us at our favorite Logan Square restaurant, Lula. 

There we were. Waiting for a table and spotting the Rhode Island pension-stealing governor sitting right there!

Let me explain why I became agitated.

Before becoming governor, Raimondo was a hedge fund manager and then Rhode Island State Treasurer.

She is a Democrat, by the way.

As Treasuer, Raimondo’s pension reforms meant retirees would lose their annual cost-of-living increases while current employees would be moved to a hybrid pension system incorporating 401(k)s. The state passed the groundbreaking pension reforms in 2011.

Illinois public employees should sense something familiar about all that.

The pension is still underfunded — at 59 percent of its obligations for teachers and 57 percent of its obligations for other state employees. That’s up from 49 percent for both groups in 2010, according to the Employees Retirement System of Rhode Island.

At the current rate, the pension won’t be 80 percent funded until after 2030.

Some retired employees have hired a former Securities and Exchange Commission attorney to ask the SEC, the Justice Department and the FBI to look into the pensions that were invested in hedge funds.

Investing part of a pension in hedge funds is not itself illegal. The potential issue is how close Raimondo, a former venture capital manager, is to fund owners.

They are close.

During her runs for treasurer and governor, she received $147,000 in campaign contributions from the securities and investment industry.

Diane Bucci, the legislative committee chair for the Rhode Island Retired Teachers Association says, “If you’re connected with billionaires, how do you look at a pension fund?” she said. “Do you look at people on a fixed income? Or do you look at your friends who can make money from investments?”

I so wanted to go up to Raimondo and ask her the same question. But she was with her family, including two young kids.

And I was with mine.

I exercised my self-control.

But dinner with Rahm and Raimondo.

Really?

It’s enough to ruin a good meal.

Even at Finn’s

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