Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter 20

July 20, 2015 - accent chair

Monday, Jul 20, 2015

Between 1986 and 2006, Rhode Island ran a gauntlet of scandals that unprotected crime and worried open rage. Protesters marched on a State House. Coalitions shaped to quarrel for systemic changes. Under heated open pressure, lawmakers enacted ancestral laws and authorised electorate to rectify defects in a state’s constitution.

Since colonial times, a legislature had tranquil state government. Governors were barred from origination many executive appointments, and judges could never forget that on a singular day in 1935 a General Assembly sacked a whole Supreme Court.

Without inherent checks and balances, adults suffered underneath singular celebration control. Republicans ruled during a nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; Democrats hold lean from a 1930s into a twenty-first century. In their eras of violent control, both parties became corrupt.

H Philip West’s SECRETS SCANDALS tells a inside story of events that shook Rhode Island’s enlightenment of corruption, gave birth to a nation’s strongest ethics commission, and finally brought subdivision of powers in 2004. No singular leader, no domestic party, no classification could have converted betrayals of open trust into ancestral reforms. But when citizen coalitions worked with dedicated open officials to residence systemic failures, supervision changed.

Three times—in 2002, 2008, and 2013—Chicago’s Better Government Association has scored state laws that foster integrity, accountability, and supervision transparency. In 50-state rankings, Rhode Island ranked second twice and initial in 2013—largely given of reforms reported in SECRETS SCANDALS.

Each week, GoLocalProv will be using a section from SECRETS SCANDALS: Reforming Rhode Island, 1986-2006, which chronicles vital supervision reforms that took place during H. Philip West’s years as executive executive of Common Cause of Rhode Island. The book is accessible from a internal bookstores found HERE.

Part 2
JUDGES AND LAWMAKERS

Chapter 20

Under New Management 1993

In sports and politics, John Harwood always played to win. Physically and mentally, he took his teams to new heights. In 1970, he had won a Providence Journal’s assignment as state “Honor Roll Boy of a Year” for heading a Mount Saint Charles Academy “Mounties” to a state hockey championship and portion 3 years as category president. Muscular and handsome, he went on to star in varsity hockey and round during a University of Pennsylvania, winning All-Ivy League honors in both. But instead of posterior a veteran sports career, he warranted connoisseur degrees in business administration and law. Long after his excellence days on ice rinks and manicured round fields, Harwood still played hardball. Only now his hits ricocheted by marble corridors during a State House.

In 1980, Harwood won a Pawtucket chair in a House of Representatives. He fast schooled a ropes, became a emissary infancy leader, and set his sights on what many deliberate a many absolute domestic position in Rhode Island: orator of a House.

Late in 1987, rumors flew that Speaker Matthew J. Smith would take a remunerative pursuit as a tip state probity executive and pass his gavel to Joseph DeAngelis, his constant infancy leader. Harwood launched a challenge, earnest to change appetite from caring to rank-and-file representatives. He defied a odds, insisting his group could win, though DeAngelis triumphed with a three-to-one domain in a Democrats’ caucus. He afterwards prevailed in a full House, where nineteen Republicans expel mystic votes for Minority Leader Bradford Gorham.

On a final night of a 1992 legislative session, we bumped into Harwood and his change ego, George Caruolo, a shining though plain-spoken emissary from East Providence. As a 3 of us waited outward John Bevilacqua’s office, we sensed expansive appetite in Harwood and Caruolo. “Everyone else in a building is exhausted,” we said, “but we demeanour like you’re raring to go.”

Harwood smiled broadly. “A year from now,” he told me with unashamed self-confidence, “we’ll be using a House.”

Caruolo pretentious shock, afterwards smiled broadly.

Five months later, that suspicion lay within their reach. After a violent Nov election, no one was certain how many Democrats would tumble in line behind Harwood or Warwick Rep. Russell Bramley, who was inheritor apparent to a over Speaker Joe DeAngelis.

A week after a 1992 election, Bramley summoned a eighty-five House Democrats to a congress during a State House. Harwood countered by mouth-watering them to accumulate during a same hour in East Providence. Forty-three went to Bramley’s congress and forty-two to Harwood’s. The Bramley coterie inaugurated Nancy Benoit as a initial womanlike infancy personality in Rhode Island’s history. The Harwood Democrats chose Caruolo. Bramley’s razor-thin infancy total a singular possibility for Republicans to endorse in Jan who would turn a state’s many absolute politician.

A primary unite of a Revolving Door Law, Benoit claimed a layer of reform. She changed into a infancy leader’s suite, mounted photos on a walls, and hosted a acquire party. The subsequent day 3 Bramley backers absconded to Harwood’s camp.

The Providence Journal plunged into a m�lange with an editorial that reminded readers how Harwood had pushed legislation that enriched his law firm. Years earlier, a motorcyclist attempted to outpace a military cruiser though crashed and died. On seductiveness of a upheld man’s mom and his estate, Harwood indicted a cops who chased him of loosening and sued a town. With that box tentative in court, Harwood filed a check to lift a extent on tort liberation from a municipality fifty-fold, from $100,000 to 5 million dollars. The Journal ’s editorial remarkable that Harwood’s check had upheld a General Assembly though was vetoed by Gov. DiPrete. The editors concluded: “Now a doubt becomes either Mr. Harwood’s actions in this box simulate a kind of values that House members should find in a subsequent speaker.”

Harwood had pushed other bills that enriched his clients and law practice. A 12-year-old had been operative on a go-cart when he was sprayed by fiery gasoline. After 6 weeks in a hospital, a child died, and Harwood sued his relatives on seductiveness of their son’s estate, charging that they had been inattentive in exposing him to “explosive and lethal conditions.” In his ability as a state representative, Harwood filed legislation that authorised children to sue their parents. In effect, his check authorised a upheld child’s estate to strech a allotment with a parents’ word company. The lamentation relatives were found inattentive though profited handsomely, as did their lawyer. The word company’s warn bloody Harwood’s legislation as “a check put in to support them in skinning Amica Insurance for $230,000.”

Providence Journal contributor Katherine Gregg delved into a legislative annals of Harwood and Bramley. She wrote that both had intent in “cozy, self-indulgent practices that pervaded a General Assembly for decades before a banking disturbance and other new scandals blew a lid off.” But, she noted, “Harwood, distinct Bramley, sponsored bills that benefitted his possess clients. Harwood also championed some of a many argumentative grant bills a Assembly deliberate in a past decade,” including one that authorised kinship leaders to buy their approach into a state grant complement during discount groundwork rates.

The RISDIC Investigating Commission had already faulted Harwood’s 1985 check that lengthened a credit unions’ goal from “promoting preservation to compelling mercantile development.” That move, among a array of incremental changes in state law, non-stop a floodgates for a thrifts to make unsure blurb loans. Bramley brandished a ethics sword opposite Harwood, pursuit for a Ethics Commission to examine either his opposition had disregarded conflict-of-interest laws to assistance his possess clients. At a State House news conference, Bramley declared: “His actions fly in a face of a ethics laws, and his matter that his actions were correct afterwards and are correct now denote that Mr. Harwood usually doesn’t get it.”

But ethics charges formed on past offenses counted for little in a hard-checking competition for speaker. Caruolo demanded that Bramley concur for a consequence of Democratic unity. With Democrats split, fifteen Republican votes could control a outcome. The minority congress weighed Harwood’s reliable breaches opposite his guarantee to let them retard a cessation of House rules. Minority Leader Wayne Salisbury told reporters that a use of shelving a manners had mostly non-stop a doorway for controversial bills to pass.

On Jan 5, 1993, Gov. Bruce Sundlun was inaugurated for his second term, that would also be Rhode Island’s final two-year gubernatorial term. Harwood and Bramley marched side by side in a initial procession, followed by Caruolo and Benoit. An hour later, when member convened in their showy chamber, Harwood won a speakership with 60 votes: 45 Democrats and 15 Republicans. He betrothed to reconstruct trust and cooperation. Pundits remarkable that this was a initial time in a state’s complicated domestic story that a coterie of Democrats had aligned with Republicans to elect a speaker.

George Caruolo dangling Nancy Benoit as infancy leader. Harwood allocated Rep. Charles T. Knowles to a desired post of Judiciary Committee chair, evicting Jeffrey Teitz from his bureau and from a absolute cabinet he had chaired for a decade. As a satisfaction prize, Harwood named Teitz to a newly total post — arch of slight — with no pure outline or powers.

“At slightest I’ll have an office,” Teitz told me with a smile. “I have no doubt that I’ll find inestimable things to do.”

“But will we have any appetite to do them?” we asked.

“That stays to be seen,” pronounced Teitz.

Harwood had won a speakership on promises to safeguard a some-more open legislative process, where member could design hearings on their priority bills. “We’re going to listen to ideas from everybody,” he told contributor Scott MacKay. Paul S. Kelly, a new Senate infancy leader, also affianced an open legislative process. “A senator shouldn’t have to sell his essence to get his or her check heard,” Kelly told reporters, categorically rejecting a negotiations and understanding origination that had been customary underneath Bevilacqua’s leadership.

 

The Unclassified Pay Plan Board was an problematic vessel in a state’s fleet. Often called “the compensate board” or by a unpronounceable acronym, a UPPB tranquil a salaries of tip officials opposite state government, not to discuss hundreds of low-salaried executive workers. Early in 1993, a brute call swamped a ship.

Responsibility for income beam had begun in a 1950s in an bureau that was quite executive. In 1973, a General Assembly total a Unclassified Pay Plan Board, comprised of a executive of administration, ubiquitous treasurer, and bill officer, with chairs of a House and Senate Finance committees as nonvoting members. In 1978, while he was orator of a House, Matthew Smith rammed by a new law that remade a UPPB. He total a tip probity executive to a board, doubled a array of legislators, and let them all vote. Suddenly, with 4 of 7 votes in a Unclassified Pay Plan Board, state legislative leaders tranquil pursuit origination and salaries for about 2,500 “unclassified” appointees during all levels of state government. This new appetite over tip executive and authorised salaries, gave House and Senate leaders measureless precedence with dialect directors, regulators, and judges.

Matthew Smith had orchestrated these changes, allocated himself to a compensate board, and organised his choosing as a chairperson. In 1988 he changed from being orator of a House to executive of a state probity system, and he continued to run a Unclassified Pay Plan Board until Dec 1992.

When John Harwood and Paul Kelly gained control of their chambers Smith’s control of a compensate residence finished abruptly. The new orator and Senate infancy personality fast named new legislators to a UPPB. Harwood allocated Reps. Antonio Pires and Joseph DeLorenzo, while Kelly chose Sens. Charles Fogarty and Charles Walton. Rhode Island’s new ubiquitous treasurer, Nancy Mayer, who had campaigned opposite Smith’s purpose in RISDIC, assigned a fifth seat. Once all-powerful, Smith found himself unexpected surrounded by domestic opponents who had prolonged chafed underneath his rule.

The prior summer, when Matthew Smith’s appetite seemed unassailable, he had presided over slight votes that sensitively total twenty-two new unclassified jobs, awarded high mid-year compensate raises to thirty-seven adored employees, and slipped his son Andrew into a state job. A primary actor in those sell was Leo Skenyon, who had managed Bruce Sundlun’s 1986 campaign, after served on a governor’s staff, and now ran a state’s uneasy trade court, that got fourteen of a twenty-two new workers, including Matthew Smith’s son. In contrariety to 4.5 percent raises that would go to typical state workers, Skenyon got 24.5 percent, partly on his guarantee that use would improve; he seemed unknowingly that trade probity was speeding toward a crash.

In Dec 1992, Matthew Smith presided over slight votes that reliable a summer compensate raises and new hires. The compensate residence also finished Andrew Smith’s proxy pursuit permanent.

Under state law, actions of a Unclassified Pay Plan Board were merely advisory, given a executive could approve, modify, or reject a recommendations within thirty days. The General Assembly could also reject a UPPB’s actions though had never finished so.

Shortly after he became speaker, John Harwood demanded that Sundlun retard a raises Smith had pushed through. “The actions of a Unclassified Pay Plan Board are not usually irrational and illogical,” a new orator declared, “they are an aspersion to any decent citizen.” Paul Kelly called a raises “unconscionable.” Accordingly Sundlun vetoed a raises though let a new jobs stand.

With his foes determining a Unclassified Pay Plan Board, Matthew Smith’s tip machinations began leaking into open view. Always devoted in her questions, Kathy Gregg pushed Skenyon to explain a employing of Andrew Smith. Skenyon certified employing a immature masculine though claimed not to have famous he was a son of a compensate board’s chairman, probity administrator, and former speaker. “With a name like Smith,” Skenyon told her, “it didn’t emergence on me.”

The subsequent tip suggested a preference Matty Smith had finished for his aged friend, State Auditor General Anthony Piccirilli. As executive of a state probity system, Smith abandoned a fact that Piccirilli’s son — also named Anthony Piccirilli — had drug problems and a new rapist self-assurance for flitting a bad check. He hired a younger Piccirilli and put him in assign of a probity system’s comment for plant restitution. An warning auditor shortly detected $4,200 blank from a compensation fund, though instead of banishment a immature Piccirilli and pursuit a police, Smith lonesome it up. Two cashiers’ checks — an untraceable amends totaling $4,224.50 — were mysteriously deposited in a compensation account.

When confronted by inquisitive reporters John Sullivan and Dean Starkman, Smith certified that he had authorized a replenishments. He explained that a immature masculine had a piece abuse problem and that state crew slight prevented his being arrested for a crime. “That was my interpretation of a drug policy,” Smith told a reporters. Then, in a classical use of pacifist voice, he added: “The preference was finished to get him some assistance initial — to save an employee’s life.”

Smith’s cover resonated with a faithfulness and caring that undergirded his domestic success. Quiet favors were a silver of his realm. Once exposed, Smith claimed pardon underneath typical tellurian decency. “Anyone who looks during this objectively,” Smith told contributor Scott MacKay, “will know a stairs we took and accurately given we took them.”

While questions of compensation and cover sizzled, tip grant deals unexpected detonate into headlines. Many problem bills had been enacted while Smith was orator of a House. One authorised a state representative’s widow to collect for 3 legislative sessions after her father died; another let Smith’s sister, Rose Reynolds, buy grant credits for a ten-year maternity leave from teaching; others available purchases of open grant credits for years of training during prejudiced schools. Katherine Gregg reported that over a prior dual decades, 174 adored people had been authorised to deposit $721,309 that would lapse roughly 4 million dollars in grant benefits.

No matter how immeasurable and costly, those special grant bills had been legally enacted, and Smith could not be prosecuted for greasing their passage. Nor could he be punished for combining a genuine estate partnership with his tighten friend, Chief Justice Thomas F. Fay. With 3 other partners, Smith and Fay had fabricated a lawyer-friendly bureau formidable usually a half-mile from skill a state was introspective for a new informal courthouse. When questioned by a reporter, Smith insisted that a due building was years from execution and would not have “any approach effect” on a offices he and Fay owned nearby. Chief Justice Fay denied any conflict: “I didn’t remove any inherent rights to make an investment when we became a judge.”

Rhode Island’s new profession general, Jeffrey B. Pine, had no drift to prosecute a special pensions or a well-situated bureau building, though he systematic a state military to examine immature Anthony Piccirilli’s purported burglary and Smith’s apparent cover-up. Pine finished an unusual open proclamation that he would assemble a statewide grand jury, though skeptics wondered either anything would come of his probe. Over a years, Smith had maneuvered deals involving conflicts of seductiveness and bias that had cost taxpayers millions. Like shun artist Harry Houdini, he seemed to trip out of a many deftly devised entanglements. He offering to renounce though stayed on, apparently invincible.

 

Rhode Island was one of usually 3 states, along with South Carolina and Virginia, where lawmakers still chose justices of a Supreme Court. The Royal Charter of 1663 postulated a General Assembly immeasurable powers, including a management to name judges. For 330 years lawmakers had towering any probity who sat on a state’s Supreme Court. Under a slight called “the Grand Committee,” senators convened with member to elect any new justice. In 1935, winning Democrats had used a Grand Committee slight to pouch a whole Supreme Court. They soon chose 5 new justices who endorsed their domestic coup.

In Sep 1992, Supreme Court Justice Thomas F. Kelleher retired. As their predecessors had for 3 centuries, Joseph DeAngelis and John Bevilacqua summoned lawmakers to a State House to elect a new probity “in Grand Committee.” But a RISDIC tsunami had swept divided business as usual. In their apart chambers, lawmakers debated either a useful choice of a new probity should wait until after a Nov election. Senators apart uniformly over going into Grand Committee: eighteen in preference and an equal array opposed. Lt. Gov. Roger N. Begin, expel a tie-breaking opinion to fill a vacancy, though it finished no difference. Across a rotunda, member in a House voted to adjourn, withdrawal a post unfilled. Then, in Jan 1993, a awaiting of a second cavity arose. Justice Joseph R. Weisberger, already seventy-three, announced that he would retire and take a reduction perfectionist position with a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

These dual appearing vacancies galvanized an peculiar coalition. Despite differences in their memberships and missions, a Rhode Island Bar Association and Common Cause had been perplexing for years to wring politics out of authorised selection. Both organizations adored a slight grown fifty years progressing in Missouri where, during a Great Depression, reformers had pioneered a slight they called “merit preference of judges.” Fed adult with hurtful authorised elections, Missourians had due a inactive authorised nominating elect to weigh field for judgeships. The row would name 3 rarely competent possibilities for any cavity and benefaction these names to a governor, who was compulsory to designate from that list. In 1940, a bloc of remodel groups mounted a petition expostulate to place a inherent amendment on Missouri’s statewide ballot. Voters nice a state’s Constitution. Although lawmakers attempted to revoke consequence preference and revive authorised elections, an strenuous infancy of Missouri electorate hold their ground.

During a subsequent half-century, electorate in thirty-four other states adopted variations of what became famous as “the Missouri Plan.” No state that adopted consequence preference went behind to a progressing slight for picking judges.

Over several years, Rhode Island’s Bar Association and Common Cause had any filed proposals for a identical approach of selecting of Rhode Island judges. Few pieces of legislation were reduction acquire in a General Assembly. Legislative committees stonewalled consequence preference bills, and newspapers gave them roughly no ink. Without a voter beginning process, Rhode Islanders had no approach to go around a General Assembly, as Missourians had finished in 1940. However, a awaiting that a Grand Committee would elect dual new Supreme Court justices brought a Bar Association and Common Cause together to try again. The League of Women Voters and Operation Clean Sweep assimilated a effort.

The sepulchral courtroom voice of profession Alan Flink filled a drab Common Cause office. Flink had usually finished his tenure as Bar Association president. “To tell a truth,” he intoned, “most lawyers consider compelling consequence preference is a fool’s errand, though respectfully we disagree. With adequate pressure, a whole edifice of Grand Committee elections could keel over.”

Charlie Silverman, now a personality of Operation Clean Sweep, concluded with a judgment of consequence preference though had his doubts. “John Harwood and Paul Kelly are consolidating control of their chambers. Won’t they usually adhere to a Grand Committee?”

“They might try,” Flink said, “but we should pull behind tough and approach that they repair a process.”

Sponsors had already introduced bills drafted by a Bar Association and Common Cause. Around a table, we complicated them and highlighted a common ground. Both organizations wanted a authorised nominating elect that would be allocated by a governor. The Bar Association would elect lawyers; legislative leaders would introduce non-lawyers. No stream officeholders or new domestic possibilities would be authorised on a panel.

Flink smiled mischievously. “The General Assembly caring won’t like carrying a Bar Association elect commissioners.”

“In all honesty,” pronounced Mary Alyce Gasbarro, now boss of a state’s League of Women Voters, “the League hasn’t taken a position on either a Bar Association should name people to a nominating commission. But we determine positively on gripping commissioners during arm’s length from politics.”

Unlike a closed-door confidentiality of Missouri’s commission, all concluded that Rhode Island’s authorised nominating slight contingency be pure and public. Any warn should be means to request for any judgeship. The authorised nominating elect should speak possibilities in open session. We all adored denunciation from a American Judicature Society that a elect should benefaction from 3 to 5 “highly qualified” possibilities for any authorised vacancy. The executive should accept a list, speak a candidates, and designate one person. As in a sovereign system, a Senate should afterwards endorse or reject that candidate.

Most important, we concluded a new slight should need any authorised claimant in Rhode Island — from a Traffic Tribunal to a Supreme Court — to bear consequence selection.

“I adore this idea,” Charlie Silverman said, “but I’m a realist. we usually don’t see how we get it done.”

Tom Banchoff, a math highbrow from Brown University, now chaired a Common Cause authorised remodel committee. “We need to demeanour for variables that could make this conditions mangle a way,” he said.

“What variables?” Silverman asked.

“I’m not sure,” pronounced Banchoff. “Think of a RISDIC scandal, a whole list of reforms enacted in 1992, and a fact that DeAngelis and Bevilacqua couldn’t convince their infantry to fill a Kelleher vacancy. These seem like manifold events, though any of these could turn catalysts for bigger changes. We might consider that given things happened a certain approach final week, we’ll see identical formula tomorrow. In reality, little variations in one non-static might furnish dramatically opposite results.”

 

In Mar 1993, we watched from a gallery as a fifty state senators traipsed into a House cover and filled seats along a walls. Roughly a hundred member staid themselves behind their hardwood desks in winding rows. A clerk review aloud a proclamation of Grand Committee, afterwards called a roll.

House Majority Leader George Caruolo rose to his feet during his table nearby a front. Tethered by a microphone cord, he changed to adopt manners for a Grand Committee. “Under a manners we’re proposing,” he pronounced with a grin, “any member of a General Assembly is acquire to place any name in nomination. The manners concede ten-minute nominating speeches and two-minute seconding statements.” He explained that all nominations would go to a corner assembly of a House and Senate law committees. “Let’s be clear,” Caruolo continued, “these manners give everybody an event to speak, though a aim is to keep a slight certain and dignified. If we wish to regard or impugn any of a candidates, a correct forum will be in a corner contention of a law committees.”

Caruolo batted divided several due amendments and won capitulation of a Grand Committee manners in a droning hurl call vote.

Nominating speeches began with Jack Revens endorsing Family Court Judge Raymond E. Shawcross, who had been warn to a House caring before he swung by a revolving doorway and onto a court. Harwood fan Antonio J. Pires nominated Superior Court Judge John P. Bourcier, whose moniker was “Maximum John” for a tough sentences he meted out.

After 4 years of being removed and abandoned by a House caring underneath DeAngelis, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy had come into his possess with Harwood. On his feet with a microphone, he nominated a former senator, Victoria Santopietro Lederberg, clearly relishing a respect of fixing her. The contingency among lobbyists were that she was Harwood’s pick.

Rep. Paul Sherlock nominated Peter J. McGinn, a lobbyist for Fleet Bank, Brown University, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Anheuser-Busch. McGinn had left gray before his time and changed in wraithlike overpower by crowds of lobbyists, occasionally origination little talk. Another Harwood ally, Vincent J. Mesolella Jr., a emissary House infancy whip, rose to elect Superior Court Judge Vincent A. Ragosta. A lobbyist during my shoulder in a gallery whispered that Ragosta was Mesolella’s cousin. “Ragosta has no chance,” a lobbyist whispered. “Vinny’s usually honoring him.”

Two women lawmakers nominated Family Court Judge Pamela M. Mactaz and District Court Judge Patricia D. Moore for a high court. The lobbyist beside me pronounced sensitively that conjunction was a genuine contender. Next Rep. Linda Kushner rose during her table to elect Lauren Jones. Less than a year had upheld given Jones argued Common Cause’s “friend of a court” brief before a Supreme Court. Jones desired authorised ideas, wrote with superb clarity, and seemed not to fear retaliation. we dignified him, though doubted that legislators would rouse a warn whose arguments had clipped their management to write ethics rules.

Other nominations followed, and a Grand Committee shelved amid a hullabaloo of speak and handshaking in a aisles. In a corridor afterward, Rep. Frank Gaschen, slim and betimes graying, vented to me in a whisper. “Can we trust they’re pulling Lederberg? Can we imagine? They’re going to impel her by notwithstanding her miss of credentials!”

“Why?”

Gaschen guffawed. “Because she shifted a few votes that finished Harwood speaker. we wouldn’t mind if she were even remotely qualified, though she’s not.” Gaschen reiterated his censure to reporters.

Others famous Lederberg’s domestic poke though suspicion her unqualified. Superior Court Judge Thomas H. Needham called reporters to his courtroom. He endorsed her as a psychology highbrow during Rhode Island College and “one of a really renowned educators.” But, Needham groused, she had never attempted a case, never used law, and never solicited clients. “If we were a claimant today,” Needham declared, “I would be offended.” Bruce Sundlun assimilated a chorus. “Vicki, whom we know privately and like, has no believe in a probity system. That miss of believe is not satisfactory to a litigants; it is not satisfactory to a other members of a court.” He announced that a chair on a Supreme Court was not “an educational position.”

Lederberg discharged back, insisting to a Providence Journal that she was a “best qualified” of all a candidates. She concurred never perplexing a box before a decider or jury though had presided in Providence Municipal Court. “Judge Needham is responding to a fact that we am not a counterpart of a judges on a Supreme Court,” Lederberg said. “I’m not one of a mold. we consider that’s an advantage. I’m a really independent-minded person. we make my possess decisions. That has mostly gotten me into trouble.”

Presiding Justice Joseph F. Rodgers Jr. of a Superior Court repelled many by banishment a salvo. “She’s never seemed before a Supreme, Superior, Family, District Court or Workers’ Compensation Court,” Rodgers announced in a thick Rhode Island accent. “It is inconceivable to contend that she is now competent to lay on a Supreme Court.” Rodgers also finished light of her use with dual other part-time judges on a Providence Municipal Court: “Each sits one out of any 3 weeks. They hoop overtime parking, exile dogs, open intoxication, and unfinished control cases.”

A phalanx of women mounted a press contention on a building stairs to criticism these rare attacks by masculine judges. At a corner contention of a House and Senate law committees, Patrick Kennedy uttered tender indignation toward Lederberg’s critics: “I find it engaging that her detractors disremember that she was a state legislator. She was a strange unite of a Open Meetings Law and a Conflict of Interest Law. Are they opposite her given she was an eccentric voice? Is it given she doesn’t go along to get along? Is it given she is not a member of a aged child network?”

For 3 hours, a march of successful witnesses shielded Lederberg: a vanguard of a new law propagandize during Roger Williams University, a former Providence military chief, a arch decider of a Providence Municipal Court, a late Providence Journal editorial writer, and former Atty. Gen. Dennis J. Roberts II. One sole lawyer, Matthew Callaghan, urged a legislators to reject Lederberg’s nomination. “I have some questions about someone who practices law partial time,” he said, adding that she was not even listed as an profession “in a White Pages or Yellow Pages.”

Finally, Victoria Lederberg spoke for herself. A petite lady with close-cropped hair, she greeted a total law committees like aged friends. Without sounding defensive or haughty, she insisted sensitively that she hexed a qualifications, authorised temperament, and appearance to hoop cases that come before a Supreme Court.

“I am really most in a stay of a reformers,” she said, sensitively reprising Patrick Kennedy’s points about her purpose in thoroughfare of open supervision and ethics legislation. She remarkable that she had spent fourteen years in a General Assembly essay laws and was prepared to appreciate laws on a Supreme Court. “I’m someone who comes in from outward a system,” she continued. “I know I’m nontraditional, though we consider that’s a good strength. we consider that would be good for a system. And we know we can do a job.”

As a anger over Lederberg’s assignment continued, a Rhode Island Bar Association also weighed in on Judge John Bourcier. Bruce Pollock, a group’s president, reported a consult sent to 4 thousand lawyers and answered by 6 hundred. The query had asked attorneys to rate a possibilities on criteria for authorised preference determined by a American Judicature Society: impartiality, authorised temperament, industry, integrity, veteran skills, and altogether rating. Pollock announced that 95 percent of those who pronounced they knew Bourcier rated him as “qualified” or “highly qualified.” Pollock insisted a Bar Association was not inequitable opposite a womanlike candidate, observant that lawyers gave Family Court Judge Pamela M. Mactaz an altogether rating of 87 percent and District Court Judge Patricia Moore 84 percent. Lederberg, he said, was second from a bottom, with an altogether rating of 29 percent. He total that nonetheless a consult was not scientific, he believed it sincerely reflected a opinions of Rhode Island attorneys.  

John Harwood never announced his collect for a Supreme Court vacancy, though it was rumored around a State House that he would opinion for Lederberg. The hallways teemed with reasons for Harwood’s apparent choice. Several member endorsed confidentially what Frank Gaschen had announced openly: in a new quarrel to turn House speaker, Lederberg had swung essential votes to Harwood.

On a day a Grand Committee fabricated to vote, we was in Washington for a Common Cause conference. After cooking and an dusk session, we found a phone in my hotel room blinking. Tom Banchoff, who chaired a authorised remodel committee, had left a message. “No need to call back,” he said. “I usually suspicion we would wish to know that a Grand Committee inaugurated Victoria Lederberg to a Supreme Court this afternoon.” All fifty senators and one hundred reps had been present. Lederberg won on a second ballot. “You won’t be surprised,” Banchoff added, “that Harwood and his caring group all voted for her. we consider this weird slight reinforces a box for consequence selection.”

Editorial writers slammed a Grand Committee. “There’s a improved way,” a Providence Journal declared. But a editors still elite approach gubernatorial appointment rather than consequence selection. Meanwhile a Woonsocket Call bloody a Grand Committee for producing a high probity where all 5 members were former legislators, dogmatic flatly: “The complement does not work, and won’t as prolonged as politicians are so heavily involved.” The Call also described a Common Cause offer for an eccentric elect and cited a support of all a state’s remodel groups.

From a southern finish of Rhode Island, a Newport Daily News opined, “It takes domestic connectors to turn a decider in Rhode Island.” Its editors afterwards neglected both a Grand Committee slight and a authorised screening row Sundlun had appointed, saying, “Decisions are finished in behind bedrooms as domestic rewards. For apparent reasons, we are skeptical.”

The Providence Phoenix, a giveaway weekly, published a underline that explored a permutations of authorised selection. Reporter Steven Stycos contrasted a proposals put brazen by Gov. Sundlun and Common Cause. Sundlun, who had called for a row comprised wholly of lawyers, told Stycos he had finished a mistake in putting dual women who were not lawyers — Sister Claire Dugan and Urban League Executive Director B. Jae Clanton — on a row that screened possibilities for a reduce courts. He objected that a women had relied on their believe of amicable issues rather than on hearing believe and other authorised qualifications.

Dugan, a little white-haired nun, discharged behind that judges indispensable a amicable conscience. “I was there,” she insisted, “to paint a poor, given they get a tender finish of a probity system.”

In a midst of touting his authorised appointments, Sundlun told Stycos that a Senate had blocked 4 of his authorised appointments given he refused to designate any lawmakers to a bench. we asked Sheldon Whitehouse, Sundlun’s slight director, about that. “The tradition,” Whitehouse replied, “has been that a governor, speaker, and Senate infancy personality took turns picking judges — one for you, one for me, one for him. Our screening cabinet disregarded that custom by refusing to speak legislators.”

Although many knew about that tacit protocol, Whitehouse asked me not to name him as my source, during slightest for a time being. He continued: “The authorised complement has always been Valhalla for lawmakers. You go there and play in Elysian Fields. When Bruce wouldn’t go along — in fact, when he took all 4 of those appointments — Bevilacqua was mightily pissed.” In fact Bevilacqua had refused to endorse Sundlun’s 4 judges, and Sundlun withdrew them, usually to name them after as recess appointments. When Paul Kelly became infancy leader, a Senate sensitively reliable them.

Whitehouse had also helped me know given Sundlun deserted a executive underline of a consequence preference process. He did not wish to be stranded with a brief list of usually 3 to 5 possibilities for any vacancy. His quasi-official row had taken a tough stand, and Sundlun wanted a cabinet that would usually arrange possibilities as qualified, rarely qualified, or not qualified. He demanded leisure to select from a vast pool of candidates.

On her radio speak show, Arlene Violet also discharged Sundlun’s call for a screening row stoical wholly of lawyers, though she redirected a discussion, arguing that Rhode Island should join a thirty-nine states that inaugurated during slightest some of their judges.

Two weeks after Lederberg’s choosing in Grand Committee, we bumped into House Majority Leader George Caruolo. we had asked several times for a assembly with him and Harwood to speak about authorised selection. “Nobody calls me back,” we groused.

“Nothing personal,” Caruolo said. “We’ve been busy. We haven’t had a notation to concentration on it.”

“So when can we lay down with we and a speaker?”

“When we figure out how to fit a Grand Committee into your scheme. Otherwise we’re not going to hold it.”

“Sounds non-negotiable,” we said.

Caruolo smiled broadly. “You got that right.”

 

H. Philip West Jr. served from 1988 to 2006 as executive executive of Common Cause Rhode Island. SECRETS SCANDALS: Reforming Rhode Island, 1986-2006, chronicles vital supervision reforms during those years.

He helped classify coalitions that led in thoroughfare of dozens of ethics and open supervision laws and 5 vital amendments to a Rhode Island Constitution, including a 2004 Separation of Powers Amendment.

West hosted many delegations from a U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program that came to learn about ethics and subdivision of powers. In 2000, he addressed a contention on supervision ethics laws in Tver, Russia. After timid from Common Cause, he taught Ethics in Public Administration to connoisseur students during a University of Rhode Island.

Previously, West served as priest of United Methodist churches and ran a allotment residence on a Bowery in New York City. He helped with a smoothness of medicines to victims of a South African-sponsored polite fight in Mozambique and after assisted people transposed by Liberia’s polite war. He has been concerned in building affordable housing, day caring centers, and other village services in New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

West graduated, Phi Beta Kappa, from Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., perceived his masters grade from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and published biblical investigate he finished during Cambridge University in England. In 2007, he perceived an titular Doctor of Laws grade from Rhode Island College.

Since 1965 he has been married to Anne Grant, an Emmy Award-winning writer, a nonprofit executive, and late United Methodist pastor. They live in Providence and have dual grown sons, including cover illustrator Lars Grant-West. 

This electronic chronicle of SECRETS SCANDALS: Reforming Rhode Island, 1986-2006 omits notes, that fill 92 pages in a printed text.


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Buddy Cianci

Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci quiescent as Providence Mayor in 1984 after pleading nolo contendere to charges of assaulting a Bristol masculine with a illuminated cigarette, ashtray, and grate log. Cianci believed a masculine to be concerned in an event with his wife. 

Cianci did not offer time in prison, though perceived a 5-year dangling sentence. He was transposed by Joseph R. Paolino, Jr. in a special election. 

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Joseph Bevilacqua

Joseph Bevilacqua was RI Speaker of a House from 1969 to 1975, and was allocated as Chief Justice of a State Supreme Court in 1976.  It was purported that Bevilacqua had connectors to orderly crime via his domestic career.  

According to a 1989 essay that seemed in The New York Times during a time of his death:

The array of events that finally brought Mr. Bevilacqua down began during a finish of 1984… saying that reporters and state military officers had celebrated Mr. Bevilacqua regularly visiting a homes of underworld figures.

The state military purported that Mr. Bevilacqua had also visited a Smithfield motel, owned by group related to gambling and drugs…

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Thomas Fay

Thomas Fay, a inheritor to Bevilacqua as Chief Justice of a Supreme Court, quiescent in 1993, and was after found guilty on 3 misconduct depends of directing settlement work to a partner in his genuine estate firm, Lincoln Center Properties.  

Fay was also purported to use probity employees, offices, and other resources for a functions of a genuine estate firm.  Fay, along with probity executive and former Speaker of a House, Matthew “Mattie” Smith were purported to have used probity secretaries to control business for Lincoln, for that Fay and Smith were business partners. 

Fay was fined $3,000 and placed on one year probation. He could have been condemned for adult to 3 years in prison. 

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Brian J. Sarault

Former Pawtucket Mayor Brian J. Sarault was condemned in 1992 to some-more than 5 years in prison, after pleading guilty to a assign of racketeering.  

Sarault was arrested by state military and FBI agents during Pawtucket City Hall in 1991, who purported that a mayor had attempted to extract $3,000 from former RI State Rep. Robert Weygand as a kickback from awarding city contracts.

Weygand, after alerting sovereign authorities to a coercion attempt, wore a secluded recording device to a assembly where he delivered $1,750 to Sarault.

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Edward DiPrete

Edward DiPrete became a initial Rhode Island Governor to be offer time in jail after pleading guilty in 1998 to mixed charges of corruption.

He certified to usurpation bribes and extorting income from contractors, and supposed a defence discount that enclosed a one-year jail sentence.

DiPrete served as Governor from 1985-1991, losing his 1990 re-election debate to Bruce Sundlun.

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Plunder Dome

Cianci was forced to renounce from a Mayor’s bureau a second time in 2002 after being convicted on one several charges levied opposite him in a liaison popularly famous as “Operation Plunder Dome.” 

The one guilty charge—racketeering conspiracy–led to a five-year judgment in sovereign prison. Cianci was clear on all other charges, that enclosed bribery, extortion, and mail fraud.

While it was purported that City Hall had been soliciting bribes given Cianci’s 1991 lapse to office, most of a box revolved around a video display a Cianci aide, Frank Corrente, usurpation a $1,000 cheat from businessman Antonio Freitas. Freitas had also available some-more than 100 conversations with city officials.

Operation Plunder Dome began in 1998, and became open when a FBI executed a hunt aver of City Hall in Apr 1999. 

Cianci Aide Frank Corrente, Tax Board Chairman Joseph Pannone, Tax Board Vice Chairman David C. Ead, Deputy taxation assessor Rosemary Glancy were among a 9 people convicted in a scandal. 

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Charles Moreau

Central Falls Mayor Charles Moreau quiescent in 2012 before pleading guilty to sovereign crime charges. 

Moreau admitted that he had give executive Michael Bouthillette a no-bid agreement to residence adult empty homes in sell for carrying a boiler commissioned in his home. 

He was liberated from jail in Feb 2014, reduction than one year into a 24 month jail term, after his strange judgment was vacated in sell for a guilty defence on a temptation charge.  He was credited with tim served, placed on 3 years probation, and given 300 hours of village service.

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  • Buddy Cianci
  • Joseph Bevilacqua
  • Thomas Fay
  • Brian J. Sarault
  • Edward DiPrete
  • Plunder Dome
  • N. Providence Councilmen
  • Charles Moreau
  • Joe Almeida
  • Gordon Fox

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Related Articles

  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter One
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter Two
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter Three
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter Four
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter Five
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter Six
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter Seven
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter Eight
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter Nine
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter Nine
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter Ten
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter Eleven
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter Twelve
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter Thirteen
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter Fourteen
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter 15
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter 16
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter 17
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter 18
  • Secrets and Scandals – Reforming Rhode Island 1986-2006, Chapter 19

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