April 3, 2012

From Spaccone To Surreal: Senator Ciccone Had Proposed Letting The Senate (Ethically) Police Itself

Monique Chartier

How did I miss Item #3 from Ted Nesi's most recent "Saturday Morning Post"? (Thanks to a friend for pointing it out. H/T John Depetro for invoking an excellent Italian word to describe the senator's now notorious actions last week.)

... The majority leader’s arrest report was released Wednesday morning by Barrington Police Chief John LaCross, who has another official role in public life: LaCross was appointed to the Rhode Island Ethics Commission a year ago by Governor Chafee. And who’s fought hardest to make sure LaCross and his fellow commissioners don’t get back the power to police lawmakers’ ethics? Senate President Paiva Weed, Ruggerio and the rest of the chamber’s leadership. In fact, Ciccone himself drafted a proposal to let senators police themselves.

That's right, "let senators police themselves". Take it, Kathy Gregg (two years ago).

The Senate Rules Committee is considering a proposal to let the state Senate adopt its own conflict-of-interest rules, and police the behavior of its own members. ...

Not everyone is enthralled with the idea.

"Common Cause opposes any plan to have the Rhode Island Senate police itself,'' says John Marion, executive director of the citizens' advocacy group. "Historically efforts by legislatures to monitor their behavior internally have been unsuccessful. One need look no further than the U.S. Senate, whose Ethics Committee has fallen into a partisan stalemate,'' Marion said. ...

Maselli said there is no written proposal yet, but Sen. Frank Ciccone, D-Providence, is working on one ...

You know, some people would say the reason that the Rhode Island Senate shouldn't have their "own internal conflict-of-interest rules" is because they are not capable of policing themselves. The incident involving Senator Frank Ciccone last Wednesday is a great opportunity to prove them wrong. That night, as Dan Yorke phrased it well yesterday, Senator Ciccone used the power of the Senate chamber as a weapon to intimidate. Is the Senate going to stand for that? Or perhaps the Senate would prefer to go the criminal route and ask A.G. Kilmartin to press charges against Senator Ciccone for obstructing a police officer in the conduct of his duties?

To use an expression of one of my favorite interviewers, "What say ye, Madame Senate President?".

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Let's all take a moment to thank the perpetual donors to Senator Ciccone's campaign, who make possible this shining example of public service. In no particular order:

RI Laborers
Operating Engineers Local 57
MA Laborers
CT Laborers
RI Laborers Public Employees
RI Brotherhood of Correctional Officers
Electrical Workers Local 99
Brotherhood of Teamsters
Plumbers Local 51
RI Troopers Association
RI Federation of Teachers
RI State Association of Fire Fighters
Professional Engineers Local 400
RI Carpenters
Providence Fire Fighters Local 799
Cranston Fire Fighters Local 1363
Providence Teachers Union
Laborers International Union
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3
AFSCME Council 94
RI State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police
West Warwick Fire Fighters Local 1104

Et cetera, Et cetera...

Posted by: Dan at April 3, 2012 11:45 AM

Bwah hah hah!!!

But it even get's better. This, from Kathy Gregg's article:
"If that is what the U.S. Senate does, and it is adequate for them, why isn't it adequate for the Rhode Island Senate?'' asks Sen. Christopher Maselli, the Johnston Democrat who chairs the committee.

Someone might want to contact Maselli for his comments - but they'd have to call him in prison!! Yup, according to the Johnston Insider "Maselli pleaded guilty in November to eight counts of bank fraud, admitting that he falsified bank and federal tax documents, and lied about his income and assets in obtaining more than $1.7 million in mortgages and loans. Maselli pleaded guilty as charged...was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Providence to 27 months in federal prison."

Man, oh man, you just cannot make this stuff up! Oh yes, let's let them police themselves! That is f'n priceless!!

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at April 3, 2012 7:40 PM

It just keeps getting better. Very few of RI's A-holes are missing from that list.
There was a group of rich kids in Beverly Hills who went around killing people for money-they called themselves the Billionaire Boys Club.
This crew is "The Millionaire Pensions Club".
Representative government has failed in every major municipality from Woonsocket to Warwick to Providence and Pawtucket to Cranston, Johnston and EP.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at April 3, 2012 8:20 PM

Q. How do you send all the usual union apologists running for the hills?
A. Introduce municipal payroll or campaign donor data into the discussion.

Facts are stubborn things. This scumbag has been bankrolled directly by the unions for a decade - $100,000 in union cash straight from member dues. I'd pay good money to hear somebody from the Providence Police Lodge or Firefighters 799 try to defend these donations made by their unions, but they'd much rather just pretend it hasn't been going on so they can continue to pretend their unions aren't behind the deep political problems in Rhode Island.

Posted by: Dan at April 3, 2012 11:28 PM

Wow Dan, I think you missed your calling. You should've been an investigative journalist. I can't believe you discovered the vile practise of individuals joining together, pooling their money, and then donating some of it to like-minded representatives in government. Next your going to tell me that the NRA, AMA, aerospace industry, and the Chamber of Commerce do the same thing. What should would call this heinous act, representative government? democracy? lobbying? How about all three.
I must have missed your laundry list of campaign donors when Rep. Watson got arrested and acted like a dbag.
If I had a dime for every time someone dropped the old, "do you know who I am" routine I could retire right now and not have to worry about my pension. I've gotten it from all class of people, high class, low class, no class. Some people are aholes, it doesn't have much to do with their party affiliation or political ideology.

Posted by: seirra1 at April 4, 2012 7:06 PM

Sierra - There are some important distinctions you gloss over in your hand-waving dismissal. In the first place, I don't think I'm alone in the opinion that public service isn't 'supposed' to operate collectively like a special interest lobbying group - that's not a healthy democratic phenomenon. There are some unique political and financial problems that arise from public employees in effect bankrolling and electing the people who are supposed to be negotiating on behalf of management, i.e. the taxpayers as a whole. The fact that in 'forced union' states like Rhode Island, public employees don't even have a choice not to contribute huge amounts of money to these labor organizations year after year multiplies the effects. And it's not just 'some money' that labor is donating to these scuzz-bucket politicians - they are bankrolling their entire campaigns with colossal sums of money. There are some vicious cycles in play here that aren't issues with a voluntary nonprofit throwing a couple of hundred bucks in because they support gun rights or pro-life or whatever pet cause.

Just don't let me catch you and Michael and Tom and all the other union apologists coming on here and telling us how noble your unions are, and how they help the middle class, and how much integrity they have, and how they have so little power in the state. Let's acknowledge your public unions for what they are - they're hired guns to buy politicians in order to get you the most amount of taxpayer money possible. And don't pretend like you guys give a damn who you have to get in bed with to do it, because the police and fire unions shower amoral pro-labor goons like Ciccone and Ruggerio with campaign donations year after year as a quid pro quo, and that's as far as the "like-mindedness" extends - you aren't in policial agreement on some deep philosophical level - it's about money.

Posted by: Dan at April 5, 2012 11:29 AM

Dan as I've said before, I don't disagree with you on many of the points you've made about public sector unions. I think you've overstated the problem on this particular issue though. Yes, voters donate to politicians who represent their interests wether they be unions, private citizens, or conservative political action groups. Of course these donations help finance campaigns but the union bloc of voters isn't big enough to carry an entire election. People in RI vote Democrat because their parents did, their grandparents did and they think they're supposed to. People have remained blissfully unaware of the damage done by the democrats, at least up until now. To illustrate the point, I had a conversation with a co-worker a few years ago. He said vote democrat. We then went point by point through the issues. At the end of the conversation I said "you're a republican." He had just been doing what tradition told him to do. Again, as I've stated before, reform shouldn't be to the detriment of working class people. It should be first and foremost on the non-working (welfare) class people.

Posted by: seirra1 at April 5, 2012 1:42 PM

We need to make public-employee unions illegal in RI.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at April 5, 2012 5:11 PM

I'd settle for just making unions voluntary through right-to-work legislation (as around half the states have already done). That's enough of a check on them in practice to make them manageable and return them to their proper, legitimate role.

I don't have any objective problems with unions and I don't want to disadvantage them - I just want to get rid of all the corrupt special privileges and mandates that give them such an insane amount of power in the political process.

Posted by: Dan at April 5, 2012 10:32 PM

Well,I'm still against the idea of an Ehics Commission.

We need to elect the most trustworthy people we can find. If we can't do that,the fault is ours.

Also,instead of an Ethics Commission,we should have the power of recall if the members of the General Assembly fall short.

Posted by: helen at April 6, 2012 7:59 AM


The fact that we have an Ethics Commission is indisputable evidence that they cannot police themselves. Even with an Ethics Commission they failed to police themselves and then found away around the Ethics Commission. If you want to start a drive to establish a recall clause for the legislature in the RI Constitution, I'm sure you would get a lot of support but eliminating the Ethics Commission will not solve anything.

Posted by: Max D at April 7, 2012 3:14 PM
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