The 25-Year-Old Keeping the Senate Together
To hear RI Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio (D, Providence) tell it, Rhode Island’s legislature is practically run by 25-year-old Stephen Iannazzi (son of the highest-paid union boss in the state… in the same union for which Mr. Ruggerio makes a hefty salary, as well):
Mr. Iannazzi showed extreme competence and was an invaluable asset to the Senate and the people of Rhode Island, whom we serve. While not seeking to give an exhaustive list of Mr. Iannazzi’s credentials in this space; it is these qualifications which have come under attack. I therefore find it important to note just how well-qualified Mr. Iannazzi is for the specialized role he has been asked to fill.
Well, if young Iannazzi’s “competence” was “extreme,” how can anybody argue against his receiving $90,000 of taxpayer dollars in salary? Of course, in the manner typical of hyperbolic letters of recommendation, Ruggerio lists a number of initiatives in which Iannazzi played a role, but doesn’t go into detail about the actual tasks that he completed.
For example, Iannazzi helped staff the Senate’s Small Business Task Force. Does that mean that he reviewed the experience of every potential candidate and made recommendations, or that he called the assistants of legislators on a list that he was given? He helped draft various bits of legislation (which, having read through many bills, I don’t take to be inherently impressive), but does that mean that he did legal research concerning the law to be changed and comparable laws in other states, or that he typed in changes to laws that others had reviewed?
Even so, by what calculation did Ruggerio arrive at a salary? The quarter-century kid wouldn’t work for a penny less? Sorry: It still looks like a corrupt transfer of public money to a union pal’s son. In keeping with his specific avoidance of details, Ruggerio asserts that “numerous senators and other government officials have voluntarily approached [him] to praise Stephen’s ability, work ethic, and knowledge of the issues facing the Senate.” Well, let those legislators and officials come out from behind the vague reference and publicly stake their reputations on the capabilities of a young high-school graduate hired at a high-end salary in the midst of a continuing recession and with the state facing massive deficits year after year.
Then let the public watch Mr. Iannazzi and be wowed.