Commentary on “Top Talent”

Noting that one of the North Providence councilmen who, in the words of U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi, ran the city as “nothing more than a criminal organization” was also among the state legislature’s crew of crack employees, Ed Achorn tells readers that he’s still waiting for substantive response regarding Senate Majority Leader Dominique Ruggerio’s hiring of 25-year-old college dropout Stephen Iannazzi to a $90,000-per-year job in his legislative office.
As a resident of Tiverton, I particularly took note of some extremely supportive (of Iannazzi) feedback from Sen. Louis DiPalma (D, Little Compton, Tiverton, Newport, Middletown, Portsmouth) and asked the senator for more detailed comment. In response, he sent me the full text of his note to Achorn:

Since joining the RI Senate some 2 years ago, I have seen the leadership, with the Senate President at the helm, attract, nurture and retain top talent with extensive capability and capacity. This professional staff has been instrumental to the proper running of the legislative body. With the performance-based culture, people are held accountable, being measured and rewarded based on the results produced and not just effort expended.
With respect to Mr. Stephen Ianazzi, I have interacted with him on a regular basis. Stephen has performed admirably on each of his assigned tasks. From the results he has produced prior to leaving the Senate in 2010, and the last several months in his current role, Stephen is qualified to serve in his current capacity. I look forward to his continued results-based performance providing real value to the RI Senate and all its members. He certainly has a bright future.
The Senate President has my full support…

Look, this one ought to be easy. A young man with no clear credentials and apparently embodying the practice of quid pro quo nepotism is making a very high salary. Even legislators who don’t want (or don’t feel at liberty) to express suspicion ought to be able to muster some variation of: “I can see why this hiring might raise concerns, and I will seek a more full explanation from Senate leaders.” That Ruggerio and, now, DiPalma are instead inclined to dig in, pretending that inquiries are in no way justified, is evidence that the ruling class of Rhode Island has no sense of what reasonable ethical boundaries might entail.
I’m in the process of contacting every relevant elected official and citizen group in the municipalities that Sen. DiPalma represents to see if perhaps that sense exists on the lower tiers of government, and I’ll report back to you as responses come in.

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12 years ago

This is why Rhode Island politicians and labor leaders remain bumbling small-time criminals while their counterparts up in Boston are the real mafiosos and players. Rhode Island corruption is petty, local, poorly executed, and embarrassing. Every day the professional favor traders in the MA Legislature and Governor’s office are confronted by the media with abuses that make the Iannazzi deal look like playground antics, and they know exactly how to handle it – issue some “it is what it is” response that says nothing and go about their business – let the stories fizzle out in a wave of Democratic voter apathy. They don’t add heat to the fire by trying to defend the indefensible and providing the media with outrage-inspiring soundbytes for the papers, blogs, and radio to play over and over.

12 years ago

Way to go, Justin.
The various defenses of Iannazzi’s hiring and salary have been laughable on their face.

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