Lucre for Legislators

Yesterday’s Political Scene shouldn’t fly under the MLK Day radar:

Sen. John J. Tassoni Jr., D-Smithfield, was paid $92,606 last year as senior business agent for the largest state employees union: Council 94 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Senate Majority Whip Dominick Ruggerio, D-Providence, was paid $181,041 in salary and benefits as the administrator of an arm of the Laborers International Union known as the New England Laborers Employers Cooperation and Education Trust. …
On Friday, [Laborers lawyer Darren] Corrente said [Paul E.] Moura [D-East Providence] received $107,323 in pay and benefits from his employer, and [Frank] Ciccone [D-Providence], $151,558 in compensation from the District Council, and $22,944 from Local 808.
Sen. Beatrice Lanzi, D-Cranston, was paid $61,485 as the director of “labor community services” for the United Way of Rhode Island.
MetLife Auto & Home paid close to $50,000 in commissions to insurance agencies where two lawmakers work: $12,566 to Sen. David Bates, R-Barrington, and $35,751 to Rep. William San Bento, D-Pawtucket.
The Beacon Mutual Insurance Company has paid out more than $100,000 in commissions and legal fees for “representing injured workers” to a half-dozen lawmakers, including: $75,435 in legal fees and a $2,398 dividend to Warwick Sen. John C. Revens Jr.’s law office; $2,250 in legal fees to Pawtucket Sen. John F. McBurney III’s law office; a $14,244 agency commission to Bates; $9,220 in legal fees to the law office of Sen. Paul V. Jabour, D-Providence; a $255.82 dividend to San Bento’s insurance agency and a $260 “dividend” to Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Paiva-Weed’s law firm, Moore, Virgadamo & Lynch.
The Lifespan Hospital network paid $62,686 in salary to former Rep. Peter Ginaitt, and $17,148 under a “yearly pharmaceutical contract” with the Pawtuxet Valley Prescription & Surgical Center owned by Sen. Leo Blais, R-Coventry, who in September sought U.S. Bankruptcy Court protection for the company.
Rep. Elizabeth Dennigan, D-East Providence, who is both a lawyer and emergency-room nurse, was paid $15,602 by the Care New England hospital network.
The New England Cable and Telecommunications Association disclosed spending $1,060 on a dinner held last July at LaForge Casino, the Newport restaurant owned by the late Rep. Paul Crowley. Rhode Island Housing disclosed two dinners totaling $235.59 at Local 121, the popular downtown Providence eatery owned by Sen. Josh Miller.

It’s curious how Crowley managed to cull that information away from something that he wanted to highlight. It’s almost as if he’d rather keep his audience in the dark.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
13 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Greg
Greg
13 years ago

The General Assembly. Government bought and paid for by the unions. Reason #1 that I’m leaving this state.

michael
michael
13 years ago

I think there are more lawyers in the general assembly than union members. Unless there is a lawyers union, then we’re all in trouble.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

But everybody acknowledges that lawyers are scumbags. There are plenty of people in this state that don’t seem to think that the people that run the state’s unions are scumbags (Nee, Walsh, Crowley, yada yada yada…)

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

Crowley is a slimeball. Like all progressives he is what squirrels bury-nuts.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

There are some tweaks that extended conversation could make to this, but unions and lawyers aren’t really comparable in this conversation. The state isn’t the #1 employer of lawyers, and the biggest part of its budget isn’t negotiated in the form of lawyers’ salaries.

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Something puzzles me. Ruggerio makes more money from the union biz (and one with alleged mob ties!) than any of the legislators who’ve been attacked as union hacks here, but no one has ever brought him up here. Is it because he’s one of the Democratic good ol’ boys with ties to the leadership who gets protected?

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>But everybody acknowledges that lawyers are scumbags. Many are – particularly the ambulance chasers that advertise on TV with those schlocky ads. FWIW, way back over 20 years ago when I was in my first year of law school, my apartment mate was a fellow first year from Vermont. He had served in the Vermont House of Representatives (still had the license plate on his pickup truck when he started law school). Inevitably we talked politics, and one time he asked me why I wasn’t involved in politics in Rhode Island, since obviously I followed current events and had an interest in politics. My response was that politics in Rhode Island was so thoroughly corrupt that the thought of becoming involved with it never crossed my mind; that I didn’t want to rub elbows with people like that, much less become one of them. This was not long after Bevilaqua was booted from the Supreme Court, but years before RISDIC (much less Operation Dollar Bill). Same ‘ole same ‘ole on Smith Hill. >>There are plenty of people in this state that don’t seem to think that the people that run the state’s unions are scumbags (Nee, Walsh, Crowley, yada yada yada…) The people who run the state’s unions aren’t scumbags (at least not across the board). They’re doing what they believe in. That is collectivism and its subsets socialism / fascism / liberalism / progressivism (BTW, the reviews of the new book “Liberal Fascism” indicate that it provides a great expose of this relationship). To a collectivist having government (a/k/a/ “the state”) being the largest “employer,” and controlled by “collective” bargaining, is real progress on the road to the ultimate goal – a “workers paradise” from which capitalism and individual thought and liberty and property rights have been displaced by… Read more »

michael
michael
13 years ago

Most union members that I know are not socialists, facists or liberals. Mediocroty in the union ranks is a myth perpetuated by people who feel threatened by the power of the group. As individuals, our skill, dedication and self respect is what motivates, not the collective good. An individual employee is powerless. All the employees not so much.
“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” – Sir Winston Churchill
Nice speech but not relevant here. I agree with Winston Churchill 100%.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Michael,
If that is the case, and I have no reason to doubt you, then it’s high time you stand up and fight to keep your union dues from going to support socialists, facists and liberals.

Monique
13 years ago

“It’s curious how Crowley managed to cull that information away from something that he wanted to highlight”
Someone affiliated with the NEARI is supplying incomplete information?? I’m shocked, shocked!

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>Most union members that I know are not socialists, facists or liberals. Mediocroty in the union ranks is a myth perpetuated by people who feel threatened by the power of the group. As individuals, our skill, dedication and self respect is what motivates, not the collective good. An individual employee is powerless. All the employees not so much.
Michael,
I agree with you in part – in dysfunctional workplaces unions can bring something to the table as regards disciplinary matters and such. But so too can employee collective action without a union.
But the philosophy underlying unions, and adhered to by their leaders, is definitely socialist / collectivist. Its origins lie on the Marxist working class vs. capital world view.
If modern labor unions were really about their members / workers, then they wouldn’t support forced unionization (closed shops); withholding of full financial disclosure to members; sham internal “union democracy” (such as having to “vote” in public and the inability to vote for all union officials instead of just a local rep).
Ditto the unions’ efforts to eliminate secret ballot elections during organizing campaigns (“card check” / the so-called “employee free choice act”) … but still requiring secret ballots for efforts to decertify a union.
As for mediocrity and unions – police, firefighters and airline pilots seem to be exceptions, and I attribute this to the fact that members’ own lives are on the line, and so they demand excellence from themselves and each other, and the pride which deservedly arises from that.
Beyond those exceptions, unions promote mediocrity because the contractual protections from discipline and termination, coupled with the emphasis on seniority over performance, inevitably overly protect the slackers, which in turn demotivates others (“why should I put out if he/she doesn’t have to?”).

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

In a perfect world, where we could all trust each other to do the right thing, we wouldn’t need unions at all. But as we all know…

michael
michael
13 years ago

“Beyond those exceptions, unions promote mediocrity because the contractual protections from discipline and termination, coupled with the emphasis on seniority over performance, inevitably overly protect the slackers, which in turn demotivates others (“why should I put out if he/she doesn’t have to?”).”
Tom, you describe the weakest members of not only humans, but the human race as well. Are we to abandon what is for many of us the only means we have giving us a chance of a safe workplace, good pay and benefits? Sure, there are those who corrupt the opportunity that the safety of the union provides, but those kind of people exist in all walks of life.
I was twenty-nine when I joined my union. My loosly defined opinion of unions at the time was negative, at best. I believed in the fairness of the market and my ability to thrive in that marketplace. As years progress I still have a negative opinion of a lot of union strategies and a very dim view of our national leaders. However, I have learned firsthand how the people with the power will subjugate those without.
I now view unions as a necessary force whose existance keeps those in power in check. Management rights look great on paper, privatization in a competitive market appears to be a great way to balance budgets but in reality it gives more power to those powerful few, ultimately lowering the quality of life of millions of workers.
Somebody has to fight fires, teach, nurse, dig holes, wash floors and bang nails. Without orginized labor, we would be getting crumbs for our efforts, much like the slaves in China.

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.