DCYF Report: Recurrent, vile and ominous abuse findings. Again.

Mattiello and Raimondo need to go. Here’s why.

By Nicholas Alahverdian
nicholasalahverdian.com

I have, in collaboration with current and former Representatives Bob DaSilva, Raymond Hull, Michael Marcello, Anastasia Williams and multitudinous others, drafted and submitted bills to ameliorate the seemingly irremediable Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). We have introduced this legislation year after year. Each bill, year after year, has been held for further study.

Interestingly enough, when I was actively lobbying for this legislation in my 2011 DCYF reform blitz, we had over 40 co-sponsors in the House. Think about that for a second. The House of Representatives has 75 members. There were forty co-sponsors. If those bills were transmitted from committee to the floor for a vote, they would have passed with flying colors. Continue reading DCYF Report: Recurrent, vile and ominous abuse findings. Again.

Buddy Cianci Runs Again

BY ANDREW MARANTZ
Hollybeth Runco, a blond woman in her forties, lives in a two-story Craftsman-style house on the east side of Providence, Rhode Island. On a recent Sunday afternoon, she and her husband, Tom, sat at their dining-room table with a few friends, drinking Cabernet and waiting for their guest of honor, Vincent Cianci, Jr., who is known by his nickname, Buddy.
“When we moved here, ten years ago, all I heard was Buddy jokes,” Tom said.
Susan Teeden-Cielo, a friend from the neighborhood, said, “When Hollybeth announced this, she got a lot of hate just for giving Buddy the time of day.” (Responding to Runco’s invitation, one neighbor wrote, “This waste of skin is a cancer to Providence.”)
“People think he’s a stain on the city, and they are worried that he’s slick enough to make people forget what he’s done,” Tom said.
Cianci was the mayor of Providence from 1975 to 1984, and again from 1991 to 2002. (Philip Gourevitch wrote about Cianci for The New Yorker in 2002.) He is the most influential figure in the city’s modern history, and many people credit him with bringing economic life to what was once a post-industrial backwater. He is also a convicted felon who is something of a local joke. Though he left prison seven years ago, stores still sell T-shirts that say “Free Buddy”; his face is on the label of a popular brand of pasta sauce, Mayor’s Own Marinara. He also hosts a call-in radio show, which he describes as “lucrative.” Improbably, he is running for a seventh term, as an independent. Even more improbably, he has a decent chance of winning: a recent poll has him six points in the lead. He seems to belong to a special class of zombie politicians—Marion Barry, Eliot Spitzer—who can be embarrassed by scandal but not shamed into silence.
Runco, a former engineer, is now a homemaker. She has two children, one of whom has special needs. A few weeks ago, she heard a rumor that the public schools would be cutting back on special-education services. She called the school board and met with the current mayor, but their answers were not satisfactory. “Finally, I found the name of Buddy’s campaign manager and cold-called her. She was on my couch the next day,” Runco said. Cianci offered to attend an informal meeting about the issue, and Runco invited a dozen friends. “Some are skeptical, some are haters, some are agnostic,” she said. “I don’t think anyone is ready to say they’re a supporter, including myself.”
A Lincoln Town Car pulled up, and Cianci climbed the stairs to the house, a bit unsteadily. He was once cannonball-shaped, with a charging gait and a voluminous toupee. Now, at seventy-three, he is thinner, slower, and openly bald. He wore khakis, a buttoned blazer, and thick glasses that magnified puppy-dog eyes. “I’m mostly here to listen,” he said, before talking for fifteen minutes.
“The city has changed, but not really,” he said, sitting at the dining-room table. “The biggest thing this time around is the technology. We hired a company that breaks down voters and their behavior—you know, people who like baseball are more likely to vote for me, that kind of thing. It’s remarkable how much privacy we’ve given up in this country.” Noticing that he had his back to some of the guests, he turned and said, “My apologies, ladies. I’m not used to doing theatre in the round.”
Runco, seated across from Cianci, said, “I’m going to sit right here, because I’m partially deaf and I read lips. It’s not that I want to make out with you.”
“Good,” Cianci said. “I’ve got enough problems.”
In 1984, Cianci’s first term was interrupted when he was found guilty of assaulting a man who was dating his ex-wife. In 2002, after undercover federal agents recorded hundreds of conversations in City Hall, Cianci was indicted on twenty-nine charges of corruption. He told the group at Runco’s house, “I was found not guilty of the RICO”—crimes defined by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act—“but was found guilty of conspiracy to commit RICO. Go figure.” He served a four-and-a-half-year prison term but still professes his innocence, preferring to speak vaguely of “regrets.” “I gave a speech at Brown, and some kid sits in the front row and says, ‘What would you have changed in your life?’ Being a smart-ass, I said, ‘The verdict.’ ”
Runco and her guests voiced their concerns. Kirsten Murphy said, “My son can see our elementary school from his window, but the city told us that they would allocate funds to bus him to another school.”
“That’s just stupid!” Cianci said.
“What’s your plan for busing?” Runco asked.

“Look, I was mayor when we were going through voluntary desegregation,” he said. “I know I don’t look that old, but I am. But now you have to revert to neighborhood autonomy.” He added, “My good friend Richie Daley, in Chicago, he’s done a pretty decent job with the schools out there.” (Daley, Chicago’s former mayor, survived several scandals.)
Cianci took a call on his iPhone—it had something to do with an upcoming city-council vote. As he talked, he took a bite of one of the meatballs Teeden-Cielo had put out, and made an A-O.K. hand gesture.
He hung up the phone. “I want to talk about the story of American cities,” he said. “I made a decision years ago not to knock down our historic buildings. That was the big thing back then—knock ’em down, build something new. I don’t want to name names, but New Haven and Hartford did that.” He continued, “People ask other questions—whether we should invade Iraq and all that. That’s not me. I pick the garbage up.”
“I don’t know if this is too personal, but I have to ask,” Kira Greene said. “In the past, obviously, things didn’t always go the way you wanted them to go. I don’t know how to phrase it, but—could you be a better mayor because you made mistakes?”
“Oh, absolutely,” Cianci said. “In hindsight, if I want to be honest, I wouldn’t have voted for myself in 1974. It took a few years to get running. But I had a lot of vitality and devotion to the city, and that hasn’t diminished at all. They ask me, ‘Isn’t it a shame for you to run again?’ I’m not the problem. The city is in debt, failing schools—that’s the shame.”
He stood up. “Hey, listen, I talked too much—that’s been my trouble my whole life—but I really enjoyed it.”
After showing him out, Runco said, “I think it was less about deciding ‘I’m definitely voting for him’ and more just about getting comfortable with the idea.”
“It’s harder to hate someone when they’re sitting right in front of you,” Tom said. He had been in the anyone-but-Buddy camp, but he was reconsidering. “Our friends warned us not to get taken in: ‘He puts on a good show, but don’t believe a word he says.’ Well, unless you hook him up to a polygraph, I guess it’s impossible to know.”

Scott Brown Wins NH Primary Bid for U.S. Senate

Former Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Scott Brown won New Hampshire’s Republican U.S. Senate primary on Tuesday, moving forward in his attempt to get back to Washington from another state.
Even though Brown was from a neighboring state, Republican leaders viewed him as the strongest challenger to incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in a race that could be critical in the Republicans’ drive to regain a Senate majority.
Brown shocked the nation in 2010 by winning a special election in Massachusetts for the Senate seat long held by the late Democratic stalwart Edward Kennedy. He then lost that seat in 2012 to a populist Democrat.

Decisive Victory for Gina Raimondo in RI Gubernatorial Primary

Powered by the top-spending campaign, state Treasurer Gina Raimondo scored a decisive Democratic gubernatorial victory over her two main rivals Tuesday, in a campaign dominated by debate about Rhode Island’s long-suffering economy and the pension overhaul spearheaded by Raimondo in 2011.
Unofficial returns showed Raimondo with 42 percent of the vote, compared with 29 percent for Angel Taveras, and 27 percent for Clay Pell.
gina raimondo nicholas alahverdianRaimondo, 43, used her victory speech at the Met, a music club in Pawtucket, to vow to put Rhode Islanders back to work.
In the GOP gubernatorial primary, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung scored a solid victory over challenger Ken Block, 55 percent to 45 percent.
The scene for Raimondo’s campaign-watch was part of the Hope Artiste Village complex where she launched her campaign in January, and her campaign reprised the sound of Canned Heat’s “Let’s Work Together.” The song reflected her move to the left, to cobble together a winning Democratic primary coalition (backing such measures as driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants).
While Raimondo touted her regular credentials as “Gina from Smithfield” during the campaign, the Yale- and Oxford-educated former venture capitalist has built a national reputation since bursting on Rhode Island’s political scene by winning the race for treasurer in 2010.
She moved quickly and steadily to shape the battlefield over a sweeping pension overhaul the next year; as a result, opposing the reform in the General Assembly took on a higher perceived political cost, and the measure passed overwhelmingly before being signed into law by Gov. Lincoln Chafee.
Critics seized on the pension overhaul — and revelations about tens of millions in fees paid for hedge fund investments backed by Raimondo — to charge that she was more responsive to Wall Street than to struggling Rhode Islanders.
Taveras, the well-liked mayor of Providence, took up the theme in his campaign by touting himself as the candidate of working families. Raimondo responded by saying she would be a governor for all Rhode Islanders, bringing a more muscular focus to overcoming the state’s persistently high unemployment and other chronic problems.
During her 25-minute campaign announcement in January, Raimondo compared her petite frame with Rhode Island’s distinction as the smallest of the 50 states.
“Usually when people meet me for the first time, they say, ‘Oh, I thought you’d be bigger.’ But the truth is, it’s because we are small that we can do things that have never been done before,” Raimondo said. “But we have to start by thinking bigger and bolder, and it’s time to change the tone at the top. We need a tone at the top — a governor with a tone of urgency and focus and possibility as we turn this economy around.”
Taveras remained in contention in late August, when a Providence Journal-WPRI poll showed him with 27 percent of the support, compared with 32 percent for Raimondo — a disparity barely larger than the margin of error.
Yet the surprising entry into the race earlier this year of Clay Pell, the grandson of the late Democratic Sen. Claiborne Pell, scrambled the dynamic and wound up cutting sharply into the support for Taveras.
Since winning election as mayor of Providence in 2010, the former Housing Court judge emerged with the most consistently high approval ratings in a series of Brown University polls. But Taveras (who raised more than $2 million) lagged in fundraising behind Pell (who loaned himself $3.4 million), and Raimondo, an adept fundraiser who brought in more than $4 million just since April. A union coalition rallied behind Taveras, but that wasn’t nearly enough to salvage his campaign.
Raimondo will face Cranston Mayor Allan Fung in the November election.
Fung beat Barrington businessman Ken Block, who in his concession speech, reminded the room of supporters that his campaign offered solutions to the problems facing Rhode Island.
“We did not receive the support of the majority of Republican primary voters today,” said Block. “But that does not mean that we just simply go home and stop caring, because I am looking out at a large group of people who care.”
Unofficial results show Fung beating Block 55 percent to 45 percent.
From RIPR

It's Primary Day in Rhode Island

Rarely has solidly Democratic Rhode Island seen such political drama: To date, the race to be the next Rhode Island governor has already seen party switching, two political dynasties and an Olympic figure skater star in a campaign spot.
The race began in earnest when incumbent Lincoln Chafee, a former GOP senator whose father was former Governor and Senator John Chafee, switched parties from Independent to Democratic. Chafee was hoping to draw support from the state’s powerful Democrats, but soon withdrew from the race when it became clear such support was not going to materialize.
That left the field wide open, with three candidates vying for the Democratic nomination on Tuesday: State Treasurer Gina Raimondo, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Clay Pell, the 34-year-old grandson of beloved late senator Claiborne Pell. Taveras held a slight lead in polls going into the summer, but with the help of Emily’s List—and impressive fundraising—Raimondo pulled ahead in at least one recent poll.
“I think it’s going to be close. Raimondo has a small lead and benefits from Tavares and Pell splitting labor. I expect Raimondo to win, but there is some belief that Pell is surging,” says Jennifer Duffy, who tracks gubernatorial races for the non-partisan Cook Political Report. “If he does pull off an upset, then the general is probably pretty competitive. If Raimondo, or less likely Tavares, is the nominee, then Democrats have an advantage.”
A Fleming & Associates poll conducted Aug. 11 to 14 showed Raimondo leading with 32.2% of the vote to Taveras’ 26.8% and Pell’s 25.6%. That said, Pell has been surging in recent weeks, in part thanks to a television commercial where his wife, figure skater Michelle Kwan, promotes his record on women’s issues. In a similar poll conducted in May, Pell drew only 11.5% of the vote.
On the Republican side, Ken Block, a moderate who ran for governor in 2010, is taking on Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, who was the first Asian American mayor in Rhode Island and would be the first Asian American governor of Rhode Island, if elected.
And there are also a slew of independents running. The only serious candidate in contractor Todd Giroux. The four other independents include a Moderate Party candidate and a candidate for the Compassion Party.
The race is already the most expensive in Rhode Island history with candidates raising more than $12 million by the end of June, the latest date available for financial disclosures.
With coverage from TIME