April 11, 2012 No Comments »
Corrupt Politicians Buying Votes

The past few weeks I have been very surprised by the inconsistencies of some of our elected (officials) Democrats and Republicans, and some of the candidates that are running for elected offices.

I will start with General Treasurer Gina Raimondo who I have a lot of respect for, and mayor Angel Taveras both these politicians enjoy broad-based, multipartisan support in Rhode island, in particular for taking positions that are unpopular and go against the “labor oriented political machine of the Democratic party”.

Mayor Taveras spoke about the “Category five Hurricane” as the state of finances in Providence he inherited when he took over as mayor in Providence, and five weeks ago he said the capital city will be in bankruptcy by June if it doesn’t get help resolving its financial crisis., the city still faces a roughly $22.5 million deficit in its budget for this fiscal year, which ends June 30.The budget shortfall was projected at $110 million last March. It was reduced after he negotiated new contracts with unions, laid off workers, cut spending and won increased state aid. and  Gina Raimondo who emerged from the Rhode Island pension battle as the state’s most-popular politician, for her overhaul of a pension system whose promises to workers were eating up local aid and helped push one city into bankruptcy. The changes she persuaded the Democrat-controlled Legislature to pass over union opposition.

During the last few weeks they both undermined that line of thinking, by their support of unpopular Congressman. David Cicilline. Mayor Taveras set aside the apparent irony of throwing his support behind a man who contributed to the “Category 5 Hurricane” he inherited by saying it didn’t happen “overnight” and we need Democrats in Washington, D.C. For her part, Raimondo tried to walk back any impression that she had formally endorsed Cicilline, but such a stance is too cute by half. General Treasurer Gina Raimondo confirmed her position in the host committee for a fundraiser for Congressman David Cicilline but when asked if was an endorsement she replied, “No.” Both have allowed their ideological instincts to trump their “pragmatic” political ones and may have made a political miscalculation in supporting such a polarizing figure as Cicilline. It will chip away at the bi-partisan political capital they have both earned and serves to confirm that, by supporting a prototypical politician like David Cicilline, they, too, are typical RI politicians after all.

Also former State Police Col. Brendan Doherty who two weeks ago said he was keeping $1,200 donated to his congressional campaign by state Sen. Frank Ciccone, despite an allegation by police in Barrington that the lawmaker threatened them while they were arresting Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio.

Ciccone, a Providence Democrat, crossed party lines twice last year to contribute campaign cash to Doherty, who retired as head of the Rhode Island State Police to challenge first-term Democrat David Cicilline. The Barrington Police Department alleges Ciccone tried to get a state police major to intervene while they were giving Ruggerio sobriety tests early Wednesday morning. The police report also says Ciccone told an officer: “You think you got pension problems now? Wait ’til this [expletive] is all done. This guy [Ruggerio] voted against you the last time, it ain’t gonna get any better now.”

Ciccone said Friday he disputes some of the police report’s details but added, “I certainly regret anything I may have said Tuesday evening that was inappropriate.” Both Ciccone and Ruggerio, D-Providence, work for arms of the Laborers International Union of North America. That connection is part of why Doherty – whose campaign slogan is “Common Sense, Uncommon Integrity” – will keep the money, according to his campaign manager.  Doherty “appreciates the support of a prominent Democrat and union leader such as Senator Ciccone, whom he has also known professionally for many years through their interaction on union matters’. Finally, after receiving numerous calls from angry supporters, Republican Brendan Doherty said last Wednesday that Sen. Frank Ciccone showed “very poor judgment” by trying to intervene in last week’s arrest of Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio, and he will return the money.

Mr. Ciccone is no stranger to law enforcement starting in the early 80’s, he was a witness to the impeachment of former Superior court Justice Bevilacqua State Senator Frank A. Ciccone, under fire for threatening comments allegedly made to Barrington police during a road stop last week, was arrested twice in the early 1980s and testified under immunity against the late former state Supreme Court chief justice Joseph A. Bevilacqua during his 1986 impeachment trial.

Ciccone confirmed during a brief interview on the Senate floor yesterday that he had testified against Bevilacqua. Also In a story about the state Training School on February 19, 1992, the Providence Journal reported that the same Ciccone who’d testified against Bevilacqua had “twice been arrested in connection with incidents involving loaded guns, although he had a license to carry a gun. In each case, he was found guilty of lesser misdemeanor charges that were later expunged from his record.” The Journal said the arrests happened in Providence in 1981 and Narragansett in 1983.

Previous Providence Journal stories show that Ciccone testified under immunity during the Bevilacqua trial, saying that “he helped run a hay business operated by the Bevilacqua family farm in Foster, sometimes during the hours he worked [as a court employee] for the state.” Among other things, Bevilacqua became known for visiting Mob hangouts.

In Providence two years earlier, Ciccone was charged with two counts of assault after he punched a cab driver and his passenger. Police took a loaded pistol from Ciccone during the arrest but said they did not charge him with a weapons violation because he had a license to carry it.These assault charges were expunged from the court record after a year.

Ciccone was first elected as a senator in 2002, and his official biography is far less detailed about his previous work experience than this one compiled by the voter-information group VoteSmart. It shows how Ciccone, prior to his current work as a labor rep, had a lengthy tenure working as a state court employee and then for the state Department of Children, Youth and Families. By 1993, Ciccone was serving as acting superintendent of the juvenile prison known as the Training School.  A ProJo editorial on March 20, 1993 called for Ciccone’s removal from that position “because he is a bizarre role model for the trouble-prone youths in his charge.”

I find it strange that as a citizen I remember these facts, and the former superintendent of the State Police or is staff cannot.

One of the last things we Rhode Islanders, or our country needs, is another vote putting the interests of big corporations, public employees’ unions, big oil, and millionaires and billionaires over those of the middle-class of our country. Mr. Tavares, General Treasurer Gina Raimondo and mayor Taveras we Rhode Islanders are tired of corrupt politicians and of a Congress that fails to listen to us the taxpayers, and make deals with the” Special Interests and the Public Employee’s  Unions” at the expense of us taxpayers.

We are tired of the forked thongs of politicians from both parties, Democrats or Republicans that have lied to us and are in the pockets of Wall Street like Mr. Cicilline his? Corruption has proven that it never sleeps in Rhode Island. We cannot continue down a path that adds to the cynicism about our elected officials. We must take action to restore public trust in our government and end the corruption that has plagued our state.

Joaquim de Amorim

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