Cianci Running for Mayor
Thursday, June 26, 2014
If re-elected, the two-time felon will be Mayor over five decades.
The Coverage Leading Up
GoLocal reported this week on commentary from political and community leaders who were split in their opinions of Buddy running once again.
Cianci, the longest serving Mayor in the history of the City will enter the race as an Independent. Cianci who has twice served as Mayor can claim a mountain of achievements in his quest to regain the office of the Capitol city. Cianci is also infamous as having been forced to resign from office and served four years in federal prison for running a criminal enterprise.
Cianci, now in his 70's, was first elected Mayor of Providence in 1974 at the age of 33. During two separate tenures in office totaling 21 years, Cianci was lauded for his restoration of Providence’s infrastructure and helping to create WaterPlace Park, Providence Place Mall, as well as the Convention Center.
See GoLocal's coverage of Cianci's history.
Related Slideshow: Buddy Cianci: Timeline of Major Events
Cianci was admitted to the Rhode Island bar in 1967 and was a Special Assistant Attorney General from 1969-1973.
In 1973, Cianci became the prosecutor of the Attorney General Department's Anti-Corruption strike force. He held that position until he decided to run for public office the following year.
Elected Mayor in 1974
Cianci ran for mayor of Providence in 1974, and his anti-corruption campaign led him to defeat incumbent Democrat Joseph Doorley.
Cianci was the first Republican mayor of Providence since the Great Depression and made history as the first Italian mayor in the city's history.
1980 Run for Governor
Cianci ran for Governor of Rhode Island in 1980, losing to incumbent Democrat J. Joseph Garrahy.
Cianci then decided to distance himself from the Republican Party, winning re-election as mayor in 1982 as an Independent candidate.
According to an article in politico, a dispute with then-Senator John Chafee led Cianci to leave the party. "And just to show how angry I was, I resigned from the Republican Party."
City Nearly Bankrupt
Shortly after his unsuccessful gubernatorial bid, Cianci was faced with demands for his resignation due to the hard financial times Providence was experiencing.
The city was nearly bankrupt in 1981. Cinanci raised taxes, focing budget cuts and layoffs throughout the city and igniting a battle between the mayor and labor unions across Providence.
Cianci earned a reputation as a "strike-breaker" for his ability to defeat unions in labor negotiations.
Buddy v. Trash Collectors
Cianci engaged in a heated labor fight with the city's trash collectors in 1981, downsizing the number of workers on each truck from 4 to 3.
Cianci famously quipped "You can put two men in a spaceship and send them to the moon. You don’t need four on a garbage truck."
When the city's sanitation workers protested the cuts, Cianci hired a private company to come in and collect the trash. The mayor placed armed guards on the truck with the private company to ensure their safety.
Divorce and Assault
Cianci and his wife Sheila divorced in 1983, 18 moths after agreeing to a separation.
5 days after the divorce papers were signed, Cianci assaulted contractor Raymond DeLeo with a lit cigarette and a fireplace log. Cianci suspected that DeLeo had been having an affair with his former wife.
DeLeo told police Cianci appeared to be drunk when he invited him to his home and attacked him in front of city officials and employees, who did little to discourage Cianci's behavior.
Cianci was forced to resign as mayor in 1984 after being indicted on assault charges.
According to "The Prince of Providence" DeLeo had feared for his life and had kept quiet about the incident, but news leaked out in the weeks after the attack and it didn't take long for the prosecution to build a case.
Cianci pleaded no contest to assault charges stemming from the DeLeo incident.
Cianci was sentenced to a 5-year suspended sentence for his role in the DeLeo incident.
The former mayor of Providence was officially a convicted felon. His fall from grace did not last long, however, as Cianci would remain in the public eye shortly after receiving his sentence.
Special Election Attempt
A special election was held to fill the vacant mayor's office in 1984.
Cianci attempted to enter the special election, but the Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled that he could not run and attempt to succeed himself.
The RI General Assembly would pass a "Buddy Amendment" in 1986 that barred convicted felons from running for public office for 3 years after their sentence was up.
After resigning the mayor's office and being barred from running for public office, Cianci became a talk radio host on Providence's 920 AM station WHJJ.
The move kept Cianci relevant in the area while he remained out of public service, and it wasn't long before Cianci was back in politics.
The city began its "Renaissance" phase in Cianci's second stint as mayor.
The city became cleaner and attracted more tourism, and several key expansion projects were overseen by Cianci, including the acquisition of the Providence Bruins, the building of the Providence Place Mall, and the construction of a new train station downtown.
The Renaissance era was the height of Cianci's tenure as mayor. A glowing review from the Providence Phoenix in 1998 titled "Renaissance Man" opined "Buddy Cianci has done more than move rivers."
Cianci ran unopposed in 1998 for what would be his final election victory.
The FBI began investigating city hall in 1999 and uncovered the second major political scandal of Cianci's career.
Despite being a polarizing figure in local politics, Cianci has never lost a mayoral election.
April 2001 Indictment
In April 2001, Cianci was indicted on federal charges of racketeering, conspiracy, extortion, witness tampering, and mail fraud.
Numerous other city officials were indicted in "Operation Plunder Dome." The prosecution's smoking gun was video footage of a bribe being accepted by Frank Corrente, Cianci's Director of Administration.
The Brown Daily Herald summed up the FBI investigation into city hall. "Patronage, bribes and city employees being required to buy tickets to Cianci fundraisers were all investigated, leading to the indictment of 24 city officials and the jailing of 19, including several top Cianci aides."
Cianci was convicted in 2002 and sentenced to 5 years in federal prison.
Cianci Aide Frank Corrente, Tax Board Chairman Joseph Pannone, Tax Board Vice Chairman David C. Ead, Deputy tax assessor Rosemary Glancy were among the nine individuals convicted in the scandal.
The mayor was forced to resign his office by law following the conviction. Cianci made a plea for an early release from prison in 2005, but that request was denied.
The Prince of Providence
Providence Journal political reporter Mike Stanton published a biography of Cianci's political career in 2004.
"The Prince of Providence" was critically acclaimed and shined a light on the political scene in Providence, as well as Cianci and his administrations' tenures in office.
Cianci penned his own book, "Politics and Pasta," and attemped to correct some of accounts from "The Prince of Providence" that he felt were inaccurate.
Ditching the Squirrel
Cianci was released in 2007, and had a noticeable change in appearance.
Cianci stopped wearing his toupee that had been dubbed "the squirrel." While Cianci lost the toupee, he didn't lose his sense of humor, calling his prison term an enjoyable stay at a "federally gated community."
“It’s kind of typical of him," former WPRI reporter Jim Taricani (who played a key role in the trial to convict Corrente and Cianci in 2002) told GoLocalProv. "He’s got this uncanny ability to, no matter what the adversity is, he bounces back from it.”.
Another Radio Return
Cianci returned to WPRO in 2007 and has hosted an afternoon talk show on the station through the present day.
Cianci also hosts a weekend television show on ABC. Even without holding public office, Cianci's thoughts on Providence and Rhode Island are seen and heard by thousands of people across the state.
Cianci was cleared by his doctors to run and he declared himself as an Independent candidate.
Cianci Passes Away
On January 28, 2016, Cianci died at age 74. The death was tied to complications relating to Cianci's battle with Cancer.
His former Chief of Staff Artin Coloian tells GoLocal, "He will be sadly missed. My heart breaks for his family. They've gone through quite a bit," said Coloian. "His accomplishments will live on."
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