12 Biggest Blunders in Rhode Island of 2012
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
From DUI's to tax dodgers, Rhode Island had its fair share of blunders in 2012. GoLocalProv breaks down the top 12.
12) Tax Dodging
In an interview with GoLocalProv, Republican State Representative Dan Gordon (Portsmouth, Tiverton and Little Compton), confirmed that he did not file a tax return before last April's deadline because he was angry with the way both the local and federal government spends his money.
Gordon would quickly change his mind and agree to pay his taxes.
The Rep. did not run for re-election in November.
11) Holiday Tree
For the second consecutive year, Governor Chafee couldn't avoid a battle over what to call the State House Christmas/Holiday Tree. Chafee ended up appearing on Fox with Bill O'Reilly to discuss the issue, but he also chose to give the public just 30 minutes notice when he decided to light the tree to avoid having his detractors in attendance.
In the end, it was an unnecessary distraction at a time when unemployment is the second highest in the country and the state is ranked near the bottom of every business ranking.
10) Education Merger
The last-minute merger of the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education and the Board of Governors for Higher Education was a controversial decision by the General Assembly and now lawmakers are calling for the new board to be placed on hold. In fact, Senator Hanna Gallo says she’ll introduce a bill to delay the changes.
There’s also the political factor when it comes to the new board. Former House Majority Leader George Caruolo was originally tapped to lead the 11-member board, but in a move some believe could be a sign he’ll support a different candidate for Governor in 2014, he withdrew his nomination last week.
9) Lombardi's Tirade
Only in North Providence. Mayor Charles Lombardi came under fire earlier this year when a recording of him chewing out a town firefighter was leaked to the media.
Lombardi accused the firefighter of talking trash about his family and forced him to wax a truck as punishment. The Mayor attempted to defend his actions, but in the end, he just came off looking like a bully.
8) Hinckley's Kid
Republican Senate candidate Barry Hinckley received national attention after releasing an adorable video with his five-year-old son breaking down the economy, but the tide quick turned following an awkward appearance with his son on Fox News.
Dubbed "toddler ventriloquism" by Gawker, Hinckley can be seen mouthing every work his son said during the short interview.
7) Payday Lending
For the second consecutive year, legislation that would have placed a cap on payday loans at 36 percent, down from the 261 percent critics say the average resident faces when they take out a short-term loan, was killed in the final hours of the 2012 General Assembly session.
The bill which, had bipartisan support in both General Assembly chambers, was believed to have died thanks in part to the fact that the chief lobbyist for payday lenders was former House Speaker William Murphy.
6) Parole Board Disaster
Groups across Rhode Island were up in arms after the state’s Parole Board nearly allowed convicted “thrill killer” Alfred Brissette to be released early based on good behavior and no one was louder than Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers (RIBCO).
The union launched a public safety campaign to shed light on the state’s “lenient and unaccountable” Parole Board and also the state’s so-called “Good Time” law, both of which have let violent criminals back on the streets far in advance of their release dates if they behave in prison.
5) Gemma's Collapse
Rather than run a traditional campaign against incumbent Congressman David Cicilline, for Democratic challenger Anthony Gemma decided to accuse Cicilline of a voter fraud scheme that dated back to his first run for Mayor in 2002.
It didn’t work. While some of Gemma’s claims were backed up city residents who claimed they witness fraud, the majority of the accusations weren’t considered credible and the candidate’s campaign never recovered.
Cicilline trounced Gemma in the Democratic primary and went on to win re-election.
4) City Releases Socials
In February, GoLocalProv filed an Access to Public Records Act request to obtain information about pension recipients in the capital city. The city’s legal team responded by e-mailing a .pdf file which listed every retiree, their retirement date, the date they began receiving a cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA), and the amount they receive each month.
The list also included columns for Social Security numbers and employee identification numbers that appeared to be redacted, but when the document was enlarged, the numbers were clearly on display. A closer review revealed that the city had only altered the “highlight” color of the document and that a change to the color revealed every retiree’s most personal information.
3) Do You Know Who I Am?
In March, Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio was arrested by the Barrington Police on DUI charges and refused a breathalyzer. But that wasn’t the only blunder. His buddy, State Senator Frank Ciccone, decided to berate an officer and play the “do you know who we are” card in an attempt to get out of the pickle.
Ciccone wound up losing his position on two important Senate committees and then-Congressional candidate Brendan Doherty returned $1,000 in campaign contributions to the Senator.
2) Speaker Fox
House Speaker Gordon Fox was forced to write a check to the business owned by 38 Studios insider Michael Corso after GoLocalProv uncovered undocumented expenses from a March 2007 fundraiser.
The $648 payment came nearly two months after initial inquires into the event, which was hosted by Corso, Steven Nappa and Robert Britto of Nappa Building Corp. and former State Representative Ray Rickman.
1) 38 Studios
Curt Schilling managed to convince the state to give him a $75 million loan guarantee in 2010, but we now know the company was seeking more incentives in the months leading up to its collapse.
In fact, hours before the financial troubles of Schilling’s 38 Studios became public, company executives were scrambling to convince the state to sign off on millions of dollars in film tax credits, according to e-mails released by the Economic Development Corporation (EDC).
Those requests were a change of heart from two years ago when Schilling pledged that his company was not planning to seek tax credits from the state.
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