Don Roach: Rhode Island, You Are To Blame
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
I begged you to not to reelect David Cicilline in 2012 because of how he left Providence. I began the ABC (Anybody But Cicilline) Coalition asking each of you to become card carrying members. My reasoning was that we couldn’t let a politician get away with the financial shenanigans that occurred under Cicilline’s leadership.
Each time, no one listened. We elected the same people back to office and nothing changed. I’m not arrogant enough to think every eligible voter reads my musings each week, but I am certain there are a fair number of you who are faithful readers each week (thank you). And at the risk of losing you, I’m disappointed that you continue to make the same electoral choices cycle after cycle.
In case you were focused on basketball over the past few weeks, Gordon Fox resigned as Speaker after his offices were raided by the FBI. The raid made national headlines and yet again, Rhode Island was in the news shining a light on Rhode Island politicians behaving badly.
But you know what? I don’t think Rhode Island voters are going to care. If we didn’t care before now, what about a little old FBI raid is going to change anything? What will continued lagging employment do? One word: nothing.
Yesteryear, I would have had more confidence that something could change that you’d read the same news I read and make different electoral decisions. I mean does it make any sense to elect the very same people who put us in this mess? No it doesn’t and yet we do…again….and again….and again. In 2014, I’m not going to fool myself because if the Rhode Island electorate has proven anything, it’s that it is fiercely loyal to picking candidates who have proven that they don’t know how to fix the mess.
I know what some of you are thinking and I’ve heard that argument before – even if we elect new people, these new politicians could be the same as or worse than what we have today. To that I say, I can’t guarantee that the next group of politicians will be better but I can guarantee that if we elect the same people we can expect more of the same. If you want more of the same from the past decade, elect the same people.
Once again, I’ll challenge you to try something different. Most of Rhode Island registered voters are Independent and yet the Democratic Party dominates. I’ve written about why that’s the case, but without balance at the State House we screw ourselves. This may come as a shock but most politicians are power hungry people who want to be in charge. In a one party system the people in power don’t have to be accountable to anyone because they have no challengers. The RI Democratic party faces more challenge from fighting themselves than from than Republicans.
Sure, we can blame Rhode Island Republicans for being “out of touch” and not change our voting patterns, but if we continue voting for the same people who haven’t solved our problems, we doom ourselves to unending Democratic control and excess.
I used to think words could persuade Rhode Island to think differently and try a new candidate or two. But, it seems that we’re hooked on the same mediocrity. If what I’m saying riles your feathers, prove me wrong by voting in different people in 2014.
I’d love to see it but won’t be holding my breath.
Don Roach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow Don on Twitter at @donroach34.
Related Slideshow: Rhode Island’s History of Political Corruption
Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci resigned as Providence Mayor in 1984 after pleading nolo contendere to charges of assaulting a Bristol man with a lit cigarette, ashtray, and fireplace log. Cianci believed the man to be involved in an affair with his wife.
Cianci did not serve time in prison, but received a 5-year suspended sentence. He was replaced by Joseph R. Paolino, Jr. in a special election.
Joseph Bevilacqua was RI Speaker of the House from 1969 to 1975, and was appointed as Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court in 1976. It was alleged that Bevilacqua had connections to organized crime throughout his political career.
According to a 1989 article that appeared in The New York Times at the time of his death:
The series of events that finally brought Mr. Bevilacqua down began at the end of 1984... stating that reporters and state police officers had observed Mr. Bevilacqua repeatedly visiting the homes of underworld figures.
The state police alleged that Mr. Bevilacqua had also visited a Smithfield motel, owned by men linked to gambling and drugs...
Thomas Fay, the successor to Bevilacqua as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, resigned in 1993, and was later found guilty on three misdemeanor counts of directing arbitration work to a partner in his real estate firm, Lincoln Center Properties.
Fay was also alleged to use court employees, offices, and other resources for the purposes of the real estate firm. Fay, along with court administrator and former Speaker of the House, Matthew "Mattie" Smith were alleged to have used court secretaries to conduct business for Lincoln, for which Fay and Smith were business partners.
Fay was fined $3,000 and placed on one year probation. He could have been sentenced for up to three years in prison.
Brian J. Sarault
Former Pawtucket Mayor Brian J. Sarault was sentenced in 1992 to more than 5 years in prison, after pleading guilty to a charge of racketeering.
Sarault was arrested by state police and FBI agents at Pawtucket City Hall in 1991, who alleged that the mayor had attempted to extort $3,000 from former RI State Rep. Robert Weygand as a kickback from awarding city contracts.
Weygand, after alerting federal authorities to the extortion attempt, wore a concealed recording device to a meeting where he delivered $1,750 to Sarault.
Edward DiPrete became the first Rhode Island Governor to be serve time in prison after pleading guilty in 1998 to multiple charges of corruption.
He admitted to accepting bribes and extorting money from contractors, and accepted a plea bargain which included a one-year prison sentence.
DiPrete served as Governor from 1985-1991, losing his 1990 re-election campaign to Bruce Sundlun.
Cianci was forced to resign from the Mayor’s office a second time in 2002 after being convicted on one several charges levied against him in the scandal popularly known as “Operation Plunder Dome.”
The one guilty charge—racketeering conspiracy--led to a five-year sentence in federal prison. Cianci was acquitted on all other charges, which included bribery, extortion, and mail fraud.
While it was alleged that City Hall had been soliciting bribes since Cianci’s 1991 return to office, much of the case revolved around a video showing a Cianci aide, Frank Corrente, accepting a $1,000 bribe from businessman Antonio Freitas. Freitas had also recorded more than 100 conversations with city officials.
Operation Plunder Dome began in 1998, and became public when the FBI executed a search warrant of City Hall in April 1999.
Cianci Aide Frank Corrente, Tax Board Chairman Joseph Pannone, Tax Board Vice Chairman David C. Ead, Deputy tax assessor Rosemary Glancy were among the nine individuals convicted in the scandal.
N. Providence Councilmen
Three North Providence City Councilmen were convicted in 2011 on charges relating to a scheme to extort bribes in exchange for favorable council votes. In all, the councilmen sought more than $100,000 in bribes.
Councilmen Raimond A. Zambarano, Joseph Burchfield, and Raymond L. Douglas III were sentenced to prison terms of 71 months, 64 months, and 78 months, respectively.
Central Falls Mayor Charles Moreau resigned in 2012 before pleading guilty to federal corruption charges.
Moreau admitted that he had give contractor Michael Bouthillette a no-bid contract to board up vacant homes in exchange for having a boiler installed in his home.
He was freed from prison in February 2014, less than one year into a 24 month prison term, after his original sentence was vacated in exchange for a guilty plea on a bribery charge. He was credited with tim served, placed on three years probation, and given 300 hours of community service.
The Rhode Island State Police and FBI raided and sealed off the State House office of Speaker of the House Gordon Fox on March 21--marking the first time an office in the building has ever been raided.
The details are still emerging, but the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Rhode Island has confirmed the IRS is involved in an ongoing investigation in Rhode Island.
- Don Roach: 5 Most Intriguing Stories from 2012
- Don Roach: After Iowa, What Next?
- Don Roach: Black History Month Needs to Go
- Don Roach: Cicilline & Gemma Make the Case for Doherty
- Don Roach: GOP Relevancy for Dummies
- Don Roach: Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Obama Diplomacy
- Don Roach: Jim Langevin Should be Very Afraid of Mike Riley
- Don Roach: Megyn Kelly Needs a Serious Reality Check
- Don Roach: Newt Gingrich – Your Next U.S. President
- Don Roach: Obama- A Case Study In Deceit
- Don Roach: RI GOP’s Passionate Pursuit of Mediocrity
- Don Roach: The Fiscal Cliff and Rhode Island
- Don Roach: Welcome to the Era of Social Media Wars
- Don Roach: You Bet Cicilline is Sorry
- Don Roach: Immigration reform appears imminent
- Don Roach: 5 Reasons Conservatives Don’t Trust Romney
- Don Roach: Allan Fung Needs to be RI’s Next Governor
- Don Roach: Black People are Getting Lost in the American Shuffle
- Don Roach: David Cicilline Ruined Providence
- Don Roach: Gay marriage debate at the tipping point
- Don Roach: I Am a Republican…We’re Idiots
- Don Roach: Jockeying for Position in the 2014 Governor’s Race
- Don Roach: Mike Riley can Beat Jim Langevin
- Don Roach: No Significant Need To Wear Your Seat Belt
- Don Roach: Occupy & the Tea Party – Twins Separated at Birth
- Don Roach: RI Politicians Don’t Know Jack About Business
- Don Roach: The Power Of Poverty
- Don Roach: What Happened to the Occupy Movement?
- Roach: Bin Laden Brought the Best out of America
- Don Roach: ‘Choose Life’ License Plates Another Win For Tolerance
- Don Roach: 5 Reasons Taxing the Rich is Stupid
- Don Roach: America’s Most Wanted Man Finds No Rest In Death
- Don Roach: Blind Faith in Cicilline is Reckless
- Don Roach: Deborah Gist, You Go Girl!
- Don Roach: Gemma Looks to Expose Cicilline
- Don Roach: I Didn’t Watch the Inauguration
- Don Roach: Just Say No to In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants
- Don Roach: My Education Crusade - An Interview with Deborah Gist
- Don Roach: North Korea’s Napoleon Complex
- Don Roach: Paul Ryan will Not Win Over Rhode Island
- Don Roach: RI Sales Tax Needs to go
- Don Roach: There Will Be Blood
- Don Roach: When Is Enough Enough, Rhode Island?
- Roach: My Education Crusade - Why Suspension Stats Don’t Matter
- Don Roach: 10 Things I Want for Christmas
- Don Roach: 5 Things We Learned on Election Day
- Don Roach: An Equitable Solution to Illegal Immigration
- Don Roach: Boston Bombing—The Latest Challenge To Our Freedom
- Don Roach: Diversity is Overrated
- Don Roach: Good Intentions Often Lead to Hell
- Don Roach: I Hate Politician Adspam
- Don Roach: Latinos Are The Key to the Republican Revolution
- Don Roach: My Education Crusade - Finding the Secret Sauce
- Don Roach: OMG! The Government Shuts Down!
- Don Roach: Paula Deen, Affirmative Action + 21st-Century Racism
- Don Roach: Religious Freedom isn’t Important to Obama
- Don Roach: Too Many Vacancies in Occupy Movement
- Don Roach: When Rights Collide – Homosexuality and Religion
- Roach: Targeted Providence Schools Should Close
- Don Roach: 2012 Election Predictions
- Don Roach: 5 Things to Watch for in 2012
- Don Roach: Angel Taveras is Losing His Shine
- Don Roach: Brendan Doherty Needs to Up His Game
- Don Roach: Does Anyone Care About Cranston School Secretaries?
- Don Roach: Governornment Loans are Bad Business
- Don Roach: If Cicilline Wins In 2012, Voters Lose
- Don Roach: Let’s Get Ready To Rumble
- Don Roach: My Education Crusade Begins Today
- Don Roach: Obama Campaign Takes Cue from Karl Rove
- Don Roach: Political Things I’m Thankful For
- Don Roach: Rhode Island Needs a Sales Tax Holiday
- Don Roach: Trying To Make Sense Of The Zimmerman Verdict
- Don Roach: Who is Clay Pell?
- Roach: This Is Why People Hate Politics
- Don Roach: 2nd Place a Win in New Hampshire
- Don Roach: 50 Years Later, The Negro Is Free
- Don Roach: Are Beautiful White Females The Only Murder Victims We Care About?
- Don Roach: Can We Believe Raimondo?
- Don Roach: Don’t Frisk Me, Bro
- Don Roach: Head-Scratchers From The Past Week
- Don Roach: If Progressives Win, We Lose
- Don Roach: MLK’s legacy is More than Just a Holiday
- Don Roach: NECAP and Gist
- Don Roach: Obama Goes on the Offensive
- Don Roach: President Obama has Failed to Turn Around the Economy
- Don Roach: Rhode Island’s Christmas Carol
- Don Roach: Vote Republican in 2012
- Don Roach: Why President Obama Won Last Night’s Debate
- Roach: While Prov Fiscally Flounders, Cranston has No Tax Increase
- Don Roach: 38 Studios Was Never a Good Investment
- Don Roach: A Conversation with Representative Brian Newberry
- Don Roach: Are You Ready to Kill Syrians?
- Don Roach: Carcieri Makes Chafee Look Like a Genius
- Don Roach: Fiscal Cliff? What Fiscal Cliff?
- Don Roach: Hinckley Closing in on Senator Whitehouse
- Don Roach: Is The Master Lever So Bad?
- Don Roach: Making Sense of the Newtown Tragedy
- Don Roach: NSA Warrantless Surveillance The Beginning of the End
- Don Roach: Obama Justified in Killing Americans?
- Don Roach: Providence City Council Unanimously Votes Republican