Arthur Schaper: Rhode Islanders Behaving Badly
Friday, April 04, 2014
Let’s start with the less obvious yet brazenly salacious.
Drug addicted nurse
On March 13 Lynn A. Magnusen, school nurse at Narragansett High School, was caught addled on heroin, passed out in her car outside of a liquor store in Charlestown. The Providence Journal reported that police” “found a crack cocaine pipe and two syringes, one containing a clear liquid, in the car.”
Did she get fried, er. . .fired? Nope. The school placed her on her paid administrative leave. She will continue to draw a salary, and the school will pay for a substitute nurse, until she is found guilty. Magnusen gets her pay, the district pays more, and Rhode Islander taxpayers get played once again. Someone call a doctor!
To be fair, Magnusen was not caught at the high school getting high, but heroin addiction (plus the extra gram or found ever so privately tucked away in her body) suggests that her dependency does not wait until the last school bell rings every day. A nurse doing drugs is not all that unusual (so many to choose from), but questions about the viability of removing a public school employee resurface. What does it take to remove a unionized education employee?
At least she should have been suspended without pay!
He said what?
Then there’s state senator Joshua Miller (D-Cranston). Besides voting the liberal-progressive line driving the state deeper into debt toward bankruptcy, Miller’s latest crimes against the residents of Rhode Island: cursing at constituents and supporting gun control, in spite of the historical trends, the legal arguments, the moral obligations, and the statistical evidence which debunk gun control as effectively controlling gun violence.
Instead of targeting law-abiding gun owners, Miller should stop shooting off his mouth. However, instead of holding his tongue, he accosted a Second Amendment supporter after a gun violence hearing with “Go F--- yourself!” His security entourage repeated the same epithet.
Firing blanks, are we?
Miller’s vulgar exhortation to self-involved coitus (is he connected with Ms. Magnusen?) put him in a negative range. He later apologized (well, not really):
[T]he individual in question was physically removed from a committee room by the Capitol Police later that evening. Regardless of the emotions and atmosphere of the moment, it does not justify the language I used that day.
Respect in the statehouse? Miler should not only apologize for his outrageous conduct, completely unbecoming of a state senator (even in Rhode Island), but repent for considering the following legislation “common sense”: an assault weapons ban and gun-free zones at public schools. How about apologizing (along with the rest of the General Assembly) for the state’s pension crises, 38 Studios, extravagant tax increases, sanctuary state status for illegal immigrants, etc.?
Speaker Fox resignation
And now to the piece de resistance of Rhode Islander lawmakers behaving badly this month.
On March 22, FBI and state police (and IRS) forces stormed the Providence State House , the first time ever that federal law enforcement raided the legislature for incriminating evidence against legislators. Boxes of documents left the building, implicating the former Speaker in something, serious enough for him to step down and not seek reelection. Speaker Gordon Fox resigned (not retired) abruptly from the rostrum. The Fox in the Hen House has finally been forced out.
What took them so long? I had already written about Fox’s brazen connections with 38 Studios, coupled with his stunning refusal to recuse himself. WBUR reported that the reasons for the criminal investigation remain unclear, but the reaction of Rhode Island residents has been “So what else is new?” followed by a recognition that the political crooks of yesterday become the radio hosts, celebrated authors, and busy entrepreneurs of today.
Cranston Mayor Allan Fung called for Fox to step down (he should have demanded that Josh “F--- You!” Miller do the same), but I have a better question: how come so many politicians do get away with behaving so badly in Rhode Island? Libertarian radio host Tammy Bruce argues that liberalism (and progressive politics) go hand in hand with corruption. Absolute pursuit of government corrupts, and has thoroughly corrupted the Democratic Party in Rhode Island, with its decades long one-party dominance. With no viable opposition to push back, Democrats have run amok.
Still, why the dominance? While Thomas Del Becarro of Forbes Magazine identified two deeper reasons for one-party corruption in my native California, his arguments apply to Rhode Island: a complaisant media and a complacent electorate.
As long as media covers for (instead of uncovers) political chicanery, and voters stay uninformed or uninterested in their government’s malfeasance, endemic corruption remains inevitable. Since politics is the major business in Rhode Island, government is involved in so much (a liberal-Democratic trademark), government waste, graft, and fraud, complete with unaccountable union employees like Nurse Magnusen (and Democrats like Senator Miller) are guaranteed.
Will the latest spate of Rhode Islanders behaving badly finally force voters to force out their bad representatives? We will soon see.
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter @ArthurCSchaper, reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.
Related Slideshow: Fox Scandal: Winners and Losers
Peter F, Neronha, U.S. Attorney
The bold action by the Federal Bureau of Investigation coupled with Internal Revenue Service investigators raiding the Speaker of the House's office was a major statement by federal authorities.
The investigation tied to now-former Speaker Fox sets expectations of a far broader probe.
Neronha has also indicted developer Richard Baccari and was key to the http://www.golocalprov.com/news/9949/">Google Settlement that brought $230 million to Rhode Island.
Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed
Generally, the Senate President plays second fiddle to the Speaker of the House, but with a new Speaker to be voted on as early as Tuesday, Paiva Weed's influence will shoot up in the transition.
She will be more influential in the budget process.
Look for Paiva Weed to make a move on controlling the Joint Committee on Legislative Services - the proverbial legislative grab bag for jobs and grants.
Majority Leader Nick Mattiello
As GoLocal Tweeted on Friday, the Cranston Representative and Majority Leader has the edge to take control of the House.
Mattiello (as of Sunday Night) has approximately 40 votes and the momentum necessary to replace Fox.
Mattiello has strong support from former Speaker and lobbyist Bill Murphy. A Mattiello Speakership may cause a big shake up in Committee Chairs and senior staffing.
Former Speaker Bill Murphy
Murphy and Fox worked together for more than a decade and their relationship had both ups and downs. Nick Mattiello, if elected Speaker, is a close ally to former Speaker Bill Murphy.
Murphy had served as Speaker from 2003 to 2010. The former legislator has a successful criminal defense practice and is a lobbyist for notable clients (2013) for UTGR (Twin River), Advance America Cash Advance, and the Brotherhood of Correction Officers.
Murphy will emerge as an ever greater influencer with Mattiello as Speaker.
The resignation by Gordon Fox is a political hit to the General Treasurer who went big for Fox in his surprisingly tough re-election against story teller Mark Binder.
Binder hit Fox both for his role in 38 Studios and his legal work for PEDP applicants.
Raimondo decided to publicly support Fox and walk his district with the embattled Speaker.
It should be noted that Providence Mayor Angel Taveras also supported Fox, but Raimondo claims to be the reformer in this race.
Fox's Committee Chairs (if Mattiello wins)
Fox loyalists who have pledged their support to Michael Marcello will be in trouble as will their agendas if Mattiello is in fact elected Speaker on Tuesday.
Committee Chairs like Helio Mello, Edith Ajello, and Arthur "Doc" Corvese might all be replaced as they backed Marcello.
For the past decade, Providence could always count of Gordon Fox to help bail the Providence Budget out of trouble.
From Finance Committee Chair, then-Majority Leader and ultimately-Speaker, Providence Mayors knew that Fox -- the Mount Hope section of Providence Representative -- would increase aid to Providence in one way or another.
Providence always found an extra few millions from Fox. That access is likely to end in 2014 further impacting the City of Providence's budget issues.
Legalization of Marijuana
The pieces were falling together for the effort to pass legislation to legalize marijuana in Rhode Island. Speaker Fox was a social progressive. Judiciary Committee Chair Edith Ajello, who may lose her post in the power shift, was the legislation's sponsor and in command of the key committee.
In addition, Governor Lincoln Chafee has voiced support for the idea.
But, a shift to a more conservative Mattiello would throw a barrier in the way to a 2014 passage.
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