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slides: Buddy’s Former Staff Members: Where Are They Now?

Saturday, May 24, 2014


Buddy Cianci

Since 1974, Buddy Cianci has been Rhode Island’s most enigmatic politician.  Despite resigning his office twice, Cianci continues into his 70s as the 800-pound political gorilla in the corner.

Cianci’s legacy has carried forward, with former staff graduating to posts ranging from federal prisoner to the staff of a U.S. Senator.

GoLocalProv contacted former members of the Cianci administration and political reporters from the Cianci era in an attempt to locate former Cianci staff members and get a sense for Cianci’s chances for a third go-around.

(see the slideshow below for information on where former Cianci staff members are now)


Cianci is Back

Charlie Bakst, the influential political reporter and columnist for the Providence Journal for decades, told GoLocalProv that electing Cianci a third time would be a huge mistake for the city.

“If he should run again, and certainly if he won, Rhode Island and Providence would become a laughingstock,” Bakst said.  “I like to think that people shudder at that possibility.”

Artin Coloian is Cianci’s former chief of staff, and still talks with Cianci on a daily basis.  He says anyone with negative feelings towards Cianci is misguided.

“Buddy left the city much better off than when he got here,” Coloian said.  “I think people respect him for that, and that’s why so many people are clamoring for him to run for mayor again.”

One person who is not surprised by Cianci’s reclaimed popularity is Mike Stanton, author of the “The Prince of Providence.”

“Buddy has always been a big personality,” Stanton said.  “I don’t think anyone is surprised he did a talk show.”

Jim Taricani covered both of Cianci’s tenures, and the former investigative reporter for Channel 10 thinks Cianci is “absolutely a contender” if he decides to run for mayor again.

“It’s kind of typical of him.  He’s got this uncanny ability to, no matter what the adversity is, he bounces back from it,” Taricani said.  “When he says he loves this city I do believe he loves this city.”

Opinions are mixed as to whether Cianci will run for mayor again.  When Colonian was asked if a Cianci candidacy would be enough to get him back into politics, he played along.

“I’ll cross that bridge if I get there,” Coloian said with a chuckle.

Note: Bakst told GoLocalProv he is endorsing Brett Smiley for Mayor.


Related Slideshow: Buddy’s Former Staff Members: Where Are They Now?

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Chris Albert

Role: Citizens Assistance Staff


Presently: Federal Projects Director for Senator Jack Reed.

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Carlos Lopez Estrada

Role: Role: Citizens Assistance Staff


Presently: Chief of Staff for Cranston Mayor and RI gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung.

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Frank Corrente

Role: Director of Administration

Presently: Retired, sentenced to 5 years and 3 months after being convicted on 7 counts, including racketeering conspiracy.

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Artin Coloian

Role: Chief of Staff


Presently: Lawyer, private practice

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Buckles Melise

Role: Highway Superintendent


Presently: Just completed a 46 month jail sentence for possession and conspiracy to distribute more than 1,000 OxyContin pills.  Now out on supervised release and ordered by the court to undergo counseling for a gambling addiction.

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Joseph Almagno

Role: Chief of Staff


Presently: Advisory Board Chairperson, St. Rocco School

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Michael Van Leesten

Role: Director of Administration


Presently: Executive Director of the Opportunities Industrialization Centers of Rhode Island and a member of the I-195 Commission, Chairman of the Providence Black Repertory Company, President of the Van Leesten Group.


Picture from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0BhQvwDk8U 

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John Palmieri

Role: Director of Economic Development


Presently: Executive Director of CRDA (Casino Reinvestment Development Authority) in New Jersey, appointed by Chris Christie. 

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Patricia McLaughlin

Role: Director of Administration- downtown economic czar, deputy city solicitor


Presently: Head of Institutional Advancement, The Wheeler School; Special Lecturer of Law at Providence College.

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Chris Nocera

Role: Staff Administrator


Presently: Works for Providence Water Supply Board

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Charles Mansolillo

Role: City Solicitor


Presently: Retired, according to Coloian he spends most of his time in Italy.

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Beryl Kenyon

Role: Press Secretary


Presently: Public Information Officer, Executive Office of Health and Human Services, State of RI.


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