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Will Fung Survive Policegate?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

 

Since Cranston Mayor Allan Fung received the findings from the State Police report into the city's police department -- and the cover letter which pointed to political interference by Fung -- speculation has mounted about the political future of the head of the state's third largest city

Will Fung's political career survive?

"It will be easier to determine the full implications of the report when we can see all of its findings," said Roger Williams University Professor of Politics June Speakman. "If Mayor Fung has committed no criminal acts,  it will be easier to survive this, obviously."  

"Mayoral interference in the departmental operations (police and other departments) is neither new nor surprising, and is often a tool that mayors use to build and keep political support," continued Speakman. "Such interference is, however, a form of corruption (even if it’s not illegal) which calls into question a mayor’s character, and is certainly ammunition for his political foes."

RIC Professor of Communications Kay Israel distinguished between what he saw for Fung's chances in the future at the local level -- versus statewide.  

"Despite the headlines there is little to indicate that Mayor Fung won’t be able to survive this situation.  He has [a couple of] factors in his favor," said Israel. "First, his popularity in Cranston has been solid.  Even with the issue brewing in the 2014 election he was able to get 55% of the city’s voters to vote for him.  Those same voters showed general support of Democrats in the other statewide races."

Israel added, however,"[Fung's] political future will be limited."

"Another run for governor seems unlikely given the state’s political population," said Israel. "Those Republicans that have been elected recently weren’t viewed as career politicians.  Lower statewide offices tend to favor Democrats.  In addition,  things generally don't bode well for once defeated candidates being elected on their second try."

Fung's office did not respond to request for comment on Tuesday. 

Taxpayer Groups Blast Costs, Parties Parse Impact

While the full report by the Rhode Island State Police has yet to be released, State Police Commissioner Colonel Steven O'Donnell said that the cost would be far north of the currently estimated $500,000 attributed to the investigation. 

"It's at least $500,000," said O'Donnell. "It's the salary of a [State Police] Captain and Lieutenant being put in Cranston for ten months, and multiple detectives, all of which are adding to that cost. We're not charging [Cranston] - that's simply the cost of what it took to assign State Police members to those roles."

Taxpayer groups, however, took issue with the costs -- both financial and for the state's reputation. 

"I'd like to know a where the money came from, who authorized it, and if it was done by fiat," said Mike Stenhouse with the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity. "If someone simply decided to just spend it, then this is yet another example of the blatant disregard public officials have for taxpayer money -- excessive spending it without apparent second thought?"

"Who got paid what? Where's the public accounting? There are a lot of questions; but we know from recent past, with publicly funded projects like this someone's getting paid - and probably a lot," continued Stenhouse. "Taxpayers are not ATM machines - I'm concerned about unchecked spending habits that far too many public officials have."

Pam Gencarella with state taxpayer association OSTPA questioned the costs greater than just money. 

“Taking care of and protecting friends is the reality in RI’s political landscape.  Elected officials will tell you that RI’s reputation for corruption is unwarranted, yet we see stories like this at every turn," said Gencarella. "Is this any different than 38 Studios where there was no investigation at all?  Or Mayor Baldelli-Hunt’s antics or former Mayor Moreau’s corruption or the corruption of the North Providence councilmen or even the more recent Gordon Fox mess?  The cost of corruption goes beyond the actual price tag of an investigation or the estimated cost of the malfeasance." 

"The real price we pay as taxpayers is represented in the decisions that are made every day by our elected leaders knowing that the public simply accepts it as part of RI life.  The resulting opportunity cost for RI taxpayers is the foregone economic growth as companies look right past RI and choose other states in which to set up shop," continued Gencarella. "Teespring was only the latest example of that and just the tip of the iceberg.  There will be no “moving forward” until this type of action is brought to a halt by the voting public."

Parties

Chairs of both the state Republican and Democratic committees said that they would reserve judgement until the full report is released -- but GOP chair Brendan Bell qualified his remarks.

"At this point I have not seen the full investigative report," said Bell. "Despite this what I will say is that we all need to remember that Mayor Fung had the courage to request the State Police take control, assess the Cranston Police Department's operations, and make recommendations for improvement.  I understand the Mayor accepted responsibility for the findings.  In his effort to improve the Department, 9 months before the summary of findings were released, the Mayor hired Colonel Michael Winquist to be the new Chief of Police.  With that excellent choice for new leadership. the Department has already turned a corner."  

"Again, Mayor Fung asked for the review knowing their were problems, he accepted responsibility for the findings, he worked to improve the situation and most people will say the the Cranston Police has, in fact, dramatically improved," continued Bell.

John Marion with good government watchdog group Common Cause said that the voters will likely be the ones to determine Fung's fate.  

"Just because something doesn't rise to the level of criminal offense, that doesn't mean people shouldn't be held accountable. There's another standard and that's at the ballot box," said Marion. "And that's why the public needs to see the report, and know what public officials did in their name.  The'll only know the extent of what happened when they see it."

 

Related Slideshow: Cranston Police Contributions to Allan Fung

Prev Next

Lt. Stephen Antonucci

12 contributions from Vito Antonucci, City of Providence, Public Properties Division, Chepachet RI. Made from 2008-13 total of $825.

  • 6/16/08 $100
  • 7/28/08 $150
  • 7/28/08 $150
  • 8/22/08 $50
  • 8/22/08 $50
  • 9/20/08 $100
  • 9/20/08 $100
  • 3/07/09 $100
  • 5/18/09 $100
  • 9/13/11 $100
  • 9/29/13 $100

 

8 Contributions from Michelle Antonucci, 60 Pine Ridge Drive, Cranston (PayChex Inc. of EP as employer).  Made from 2008-2013 for $1,060.

  • 6/19/08 $100
  • 8/06/08 $150
  • 8/06/08 $150
  • 9/23/08 $50
  • 9/23/08 $50
  • 4/16/09 $200
  • 10/26/10 $60
  • 10/03/13 $500

 

2 Contributions from Gail Antonucci, 119 Woodview Drive, Cranston (Homemaker)

  • 6/18/08 $100
  • 5/18/09 $100

 

contributions from Kevin Antonucci, 70 Garden Hills Drive, Cranston (City of Cranston)

  • 7/28/08 $150
  • 7/28/08 $150
Prev Next

Lt. Alan Loiselle

9 Contributions in name of Alan Loiselle, 20 Eastgate Drive, Warwick (City of Cranston as employer)

  • 6/5/08 $186.83 (In-kind, listed as “Hardware and supplies for headquarters”)
  • 6/16/08 $200
  • 6/23/08 $53.37 (In-kind, see above)
  • 7/28/08 $150
  • 7/31/08 $133.36 (In-kind, “Building materials and supplies”)
  • 5/18/09 $100
  • 9/16/08 $127.12 (In-kind, “Building equipment and supplies”)
  • 8/30/10 $100
  • 10/24/10 $50

 

1 Contribution from Robert Loiselle, Loiselle Insurance Agency, Pawtucket.

  • 10/29/08 $100

 

1 Contribution from Martin Loiselle, retired, 180 Potters Ave., Cranston.

  • 6/16/08 $100
Prev Next

Lt. Carl R. Ricci

7 contributions from a Carl R. Ricci, 76 Northview Ave. Cranston (Phred’s Drugs as employer)

  • 8/20/09 $300
  • 8/30/10 $100
  • 10/30/09 $125
  • 2/25/10 $150
  • 2/23/11 $150
  • 2/21/12 $150
  • 2/21/13 $150

 

Prev Next

Captain Sean Carmody

2 contributions from Sean P. Carmody, 129 Allens Ave. Cranston (City of Cranston employer)

  • 9/21/08 $100
  • 10/08/08 $200

10 contributions from Melissa Augaitis, 10 Basil Crossing, (Employer, Perspectives Corporation)

  • 6/16/08 $200
  • 3/26/09 $100
    2/25/10 $300
    8/30/10 $250
    10/17/10 $200
    2/23/11 $200
    2/29/12 $150
    6/3/13 $250
    6/25/13 $250
    9/29/12 $500

1 contribution from Maureen Carmody, same address, no employer

  • 7/28/08 $100

 

Prev Next

Chief Marco Palombo

4 Contributions in name of Michelle Palombo, 4 Jennifer Circle, Cranston (homemaker)

  • 9/18/08 $50
  • 9/13/11 $150
  • 6/25/13 $200
  • 7/22/13 $200
 
 

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