October 12, 2006

Jeff Szymanski Versus Dirty Politics in Providence

Carroll Andrew Morse

Jeff Szymanski, Republican candidate for State Representative in District 7 (Providence), alleges that someone is trying to get him fired from his job for daring to run against an incumbent legislator. Mr. Szymanski thinks he knows who the someone is -- the incumbent herself, Representative Joanne Giannini. The following is from a Szymanski campaign press release...

Szymanski alleges Giannini wrote a letter to his high school principal that attempted to have him fired. Though the letter was typewritten, the envelope was hand written. Szymanski obtained Giannini's nomination papers from the Secretary of State's office to compare her handwriting with the letter. "Everyone who has seen the papers and letter side by side says they're a perfect match", he noted.

The letter began with, "I am a parent of one of the students at Walpole High School, Walpole, Ma. I am very concerned about one of the teachers at Walpole High School." It went on to say that "Mr. Szymanski is unjustly influencing our young people on gay marriage" and that "he is using our children to promote his gay agenda in Rhode Island." It also stated he "uses students in political advertising." It was signed "Concerned Parents of Walpole High School". (There is no such group, Szymanski said.)

Szymanski said the letter, which was also sent to the Governor of Massachusetts, is utterly without any merit. The letter was postmarked in Providence, which was Giannini's first mistake in pretending to be a Walpole parent, he added. Second, "no parent would write such a lengthy first sentence stating where they live."

Third, "Giannini has never sat in on any of my classes. If she had, she would know that my campaign has absolutely no part in my lessons" Szymanski said. Fourth, Szymanski noted that the 'gay agenda' comment is perplexing, as he and Giannini both share the same position on gay marriage. (They both favor civil unions.)

"My campaign's focus has always been about tax relief, getting rid of corruption, creating jobs, and reforming education. Gay marriage isn't a main concern of people when I go door to door." Lastly, in response to the use of students in advertising, Szymanski noted he was quite proud to display on his website a classroom photo of he and some students from a scholastic competition. "It's no different than any other typical candidate's photo of himself at his job or with seniors or neighborhood folks. Teaching is what I do."

Szymanski turned all of the evidence over to the Providence Police Department in July. The Department and the Attorney General's Office are still investigating what, if any charges, can be filed. "Joanne Giannini has failed the public trust by sending a letter with only one intent- to get me fired." Though the letter is riddled with misspellings and grammatical errors, Szymanski affirmed its deadly serious purpose.

"Thank goodness I have been in Walpole for some time and have built a stellar reputation for excellence in and out of the classroom. If I had been a first year teacher, my principal would have been right to let me go on the spot, citing the need to eliminate any controversy", he said. (Szymanski has taught in Walpole since December 2001.)

"In the end, my principal and I chuckled about the letter. Only after this incident did he fully understand what I had been telling him for some time-that Rhode Island politics is exceptionally dirty and that political machines will stop at nothing to keep control in Providence."

Represenatative Giannini may indeed be nervous about the upcoming election because she is tied to former Senator John Celona and the events that led to the Roger Williams hospital corruption trail, and her version of events doesn't match Celona's. According to Mike Stanton of the Projo...
Giannini contradicted Celona's account of a lunch they had at Camille's Roman Garden in 1999 with Driscoll. Celona testified that Driscoll, unhappy with Giannini's sponsorship of legislation opposed by the hospital, directed him to warn the lawmaker to back down, or face retribution from voters in her district who worked at the hospital.

Giannini said that Celona did tell her that one bill would hurt tax-exempt institutions, and was "a bad bill." But she said that he never pressured or threatened her and described the luncheon as primarily a "social gathering." Driscoll did voice surprise that Giannini had supported one bill, but was not critical or threatening, testified Giannini.

Over the last few days, we've been discussing some national-level civil liberties issues here at Anchor Rising. But when it comes down to the final analysis, who should someone like Jeff Szymanski be most worried about: the National Security Agency wiretapping his phone, the President of the United States declaring him an enemy combatant, or a corrupt urban political machine willing to destroy his livelihood in order to keep him out of politics?

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Let us all, be we Republicans or Demnocrats, come together and vote this phobic bully out of our legislature.

Posted by: rhody at October 12, 2006 11:14 AM

What a dilemma for the Anchor Rising faithful - will Jeff Szymanski's role, not only as a teacher, but as a local teacher union president, be overlooked in light of his opponent?

Posted by: Jake at October 12, 2006 12:51 PM

The "corrupt urban political machine" is a figment of your imagination. The machine, the Democratic machine self destructed in 1974. The Democratic orgnization is a shadow of its former self, with mostly disfunctional ward committees.

I am not advocating for Gianinni. I once lived in her district, and after her first campaign we never saw her again until Szymanski ran in 2004. I have no problem believing she either sent the letter or caused it to be sent. That was wrong.

I hope Szymanski is running a better campaign this time around. He was energetic, but seemed like a one man band. You need some actual suppporters around you, even for a stae rep race.

Posted by: KH at October 12, 2006 1:20 PM

KH, Szymanski's running in a really tough area for a Republican - the Providence/North Providence district is one of the (if not the most) Democrat-dominated in the state. Giannini was my state rep until redistricting (Peter Waslyk is now my rep).
Even a conservative Republican legislative candidate can't count on much support here - the Dems who run the show in my neck of the woods are bigger social conservatives than most Republicans currently in the General Assembly. Syzmanski really needs to target independents and disaffected Democrats who are alienated from the Mollis/Corvese/Montalbano crowd.

Posted by: Rhody at October 12, 2006 1:32 PM

Where is Patricia Morgan? Where is the GOP leadership on this? Hiding from themselves? When hasn't Patricia Morgan jumped at the opportunity to run into the board of elections with a camera crew? She should be all over this! When is our party going to get leaders?

The Laffey Republicans WILL rise again! It is only a matter of time.

Posted by: George at October 13, 2006 12:49 AM

I assume I know this George?Patricia Morgan would be replaced, if I was a Republican Governor.It is incredible how many ACTIVE REPUBLICANS want her replaced!
I say "Don't Stand Pat,Dump Morgan"!

Posted by: Scott Bill Hirst at October 13, 2006 4:39 PM

Pat doesn't want to be seen as a Republican supporting gays. This is why the Republicans fare so poorly in legislative races - they complain about how few candidates they get, then hang a guy who's stepped up to challenge a well-entrenched incumbent (and part of the problem on Smith Hill) out to dry.
For all the noise Carcieri made in '04 about boosting Republican representation in the Assembly, he was not willing to take on the Democratic incumbents we need most out of there.

Posted by: rhody at October 14, 2006 11:52 AM

My post above was mysteriously amended. The removed portion refers to Laffey's remarks during his Senate campaign about his deceased brother and my opinion that the Laffey contingent will likely not be supporting Szymanski.

Posted by: Rhody at October 17, 2006 5:30 PM