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Double Standard for Doherty, Providence City Council

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Rhode Island, it’s been an interesting week. From Brendan Doherty to the Providence City Council, sometimes you just have to scratch your head about things that happen in our state.

On the latest Side of the Rhode, we read that Brendan Doherty, the former head of the state police, was hot while a Republican primary was not. I wonder if we’ll read that a Democrat primary in any upcoming race is not hot. I doubt it, and it just goes to show how much further the GOP must go towards relevancy within the state. When the party has a primary and pundits believe this normal intraparty election is not a good thing, you have work to do.

A Doherty-Loughlin showdown seems imminent and it appears from Doherty’s voting record he isn’t a rank-and-file Republican. If he voted in Democratic primaries previously, then he has probably identified with Democrats in the past. With that in mind, one could argue for or against his upcoming campaign.

Is Doherty a true Republican?

First, one could say Doherty is not a true Republican. No true Republican would vote in a Democratic primary ever. While this may be a nice truism amongst hard line Republicans in the state – all three of us – I doubt you’ll find many non-politician citizens who have voted exclusively in the Republican primary. Here’s something else, I would not be surprised if we find out, gasp!, that Doherty has contributed to a Democrat in the past several years.

But second, these are the types of candidates we’ll find as Republicans reach out to average citizens to step up and stand for elective office. I don’t see this as bad in the least. We have more independents in the state than Democrats and Republicans combined. No one should find it strange that Doherty voted in a Democratic primary or possibly contributed to a Democratic campaign. Come 2012, this could be seen by some as a positive.

Providence City Council gets a pass

While Doherty is facing the microscope, one group of legislators have been given a pass, the incumbent Providence City Councilors who were “present,” and I use that term loosely, during the Cicilline years. We’ve read their statements over the last several weeks calling for investigations into the former mayor, discussing the possibility of cutting his pension, and to a man jumping off the Cicilline ship as swiftly as possible.

My question: have you guys looked into the mirror lately? If you’re telling me that Providence laws allowed Cicilline to allegedly dip into the rainy day fund without City Council explicit approval, then the city has more issues than the fact Cicilline weaseled his way out of Providence City Hall.

I don’t buy it.

And if it’s legally possible, I have serious concerns about the jurisprudence of the incumbent councilors.
What’s more, while Mayor Tavares is on a budget cleaning rampage, what’s to stop him or future mayors from taking Cicilline-like actions? The City Council needs to spend more time fixing the loophole and closing its budget gap than going after the former mayor. In 2012, voters are going to give their rebuttal to Cicilline. My hope is they boot him out but I also hope they don’t forget who was also riding in the car while he brought the city to its financial knees.

In all, non-politicos like Doherty entering the fray with a gaffe or two should not be judged as harshly as incumbents who should have known what was going on in their city. But per usual in Rhode Island, things never happen as you’d think.

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