RI Political Corruption

A Rhode Island Story

By Justin Katz | April 28, 2011 |

Ed Achorn was intrigued enough by (as his title puts it) “The 25-year-old high school grad with the $88,112 job” to have asked around for the fuller story surrounding Stephen Iannazzi, newly appointed “special assistant” to RI Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio. His report is characterized, most significantly, by the closed doors and unreturned calls…

Meet the New Toady, Same as the Old

By Justin Katz | April 19, 2011 |

Charles Wales, of Cranston, makes the argument that they were, indeed, the bad old days back before public-sector unionization: Yes, they were indeed bad times: Elected and many non-elected persons held sway over municipal departments. Favors, assignments and promotions were granted, often without the smallest indication that merit was considered. Lackeys, sycophants and toadies were…

Pensions from the Top

By Justin Katz | April 4, 2011 |

This paragraph from a weekend PolitFact points to the really disturbing part of news about $100,000-plus pension payments: The Wisconsin report didn’t compare starting retirement salaries. It simply catalogued the elements each state used to calculate the amount. To do the calculation, you take a worker’s final average salary (usually the average of the last…

Baby Steps to Good Government

By Justin Katz | March 22, 2011 |

Don’t get me wrong; it’s great to see any movement toward improving the way the General Assembly does business, but it does seem like a deliberately slow, small-step process: With the hold-for-further-study language still intact, the new rules ultimately passed by a vote of 63 to 5. Among the changes: House votes must be posted…

Drug Dealer… Not a Stretch for Rhode Island

By Justin Katz | March 16, 2011 |

I’ve admitted before that I’m more or less ambivalent about the legality of marijuana, but as usual, Rhode Island’s method of operations layers in an unseemly and suspicious twist to the process: All told, that’s $3.5 million in new tax revenue over two years. The Health Department is expected to announce on Tuesday the names…

Playing the System for Profit

By Justin Katz | March 7, 2011 |

Gregory Rich, of Cranston, points out the profitability of being a member of Rhode Island’s governing class: Because of [former House Finance Chairman Steven] Costantino’s 16 years as a part-time representative, he will only have to work a few years at his new pay rate [as $142,000-a-year secretary of the Executive Office of Health and…

Power to the Leadership

By Justin Katz | January 15, 2011 |

In contrast to the promise of more open government in the Republican-controlled U.S. House that I noted earlier, this head-turner came via GoLocalProv today: [Newly appointed Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Peter] Palumbo [D, Cranston] said he has just started poring through all the rules, but he already has some ideas about what he would like…

A Due Respect for Political Patronage Job Holders

By Justin Katz | December 27, 2010 |

Looking out the window prior to work, today, brings to mind this article about truants that I’ve been meaning to note for a few weeks, now: For years, magistrates for Rhode Island Family Court’s truancy program have imprisoned students who misbehave during hearings on their attendance, despite a state law created to keep the government…

An Indication of the View from the Top

By Justin Katz | December 6, 2010 |

Anybody who wonders what lesson the General Assembly’s Democrats took from the last election need only read this: “In our effort to achieve savings, we have worked diligently to manage the legislative department within the enacted budget levels without seriously impacting day-to-day operations,” wrote [House Speaker Gordon] Fox in a cover letter that also spelled…

A Swiss Cheese of Ethics

By Justin Katz | October 20, 2010 |

Frankly, it’s more than a little convenient that so much attention has recently fallen on various eyebrow-raising actions of Judge Frank Caprio, Sr., in his capacity as chairman of the Board of Governors for Higher Education just as his namesake son is running for the office of governor. Still, this is pretty egregious: Last week,…

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