Russell Moore: Taveras’ Police Department Spin Boomerangs

Monday, October 20, 2014


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Mayor Angel Taveras

Maybe at this point lame duck Providence Mayor Angel Taveras should just stop talking? 

In all likelihood, that would do more to help his friends than the alternative of highlighting his own record and promising us that his handpicked candidate will perpetuate it.

One month after losing the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary, Taveras has devoted himself to doing, in his words, anything he can, to help his friend and fellow Democrat Jorge Elorza become his successor in Providence City Hall. Apparently, that includes penning an OP/ED piece for the Providence Journal beckoning Providence voters to not go back to the "clubhouse" atmosphere of the Providence Police Department that he claims existed under former mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci, who also happens to be Elorza's chief rival in this year's race.

The article serves two purposes. First, it helps Elorza in seeking to neutralize the endorsement of Cianci by the Fraternal Order of Police. Secondly, it self-servingly allows him to take attack union leadership, which refused to endorse his gubernatorial bid and instead ran ads opposing him.
It's a strange article in that it’s hard to understand what he means by a "clubhouse". But the mayor makes broad brushed accusations of pay to play politics and favoritism that occurred during the previous Cianci administration. Anyone who thinks favoritism doesn't occur in city government is shamefully naive. And the fact that some folks who do know better are making pretend that favoritism and political patronage ceased to exist once Cianci left Providence City Hall is nauseating and insulting to the intelligence of the average voter.

Naturally, Taveras' article whitewashes over the decade that took place after Cianci left office, conveniently forgetting to mention that three Providence Police Officers, one of them a narcotics detective and another a school resource officer, were arrested for dealing cocaine in 2009. In 2010, another police officer was put on trial and eventually convicted of police brutality, (though the conviction was later reversed on a technicality) for beating a handcuffed man over the head with a flashlight. (Both those events happened prior to Taveras taking office, during the David Cicilline administration, a close supporter of Taveras and Elorza.)

But what stuck out most about Taveras' article is the paragraph that drones on about the vague protocols that have been established to improve the police department. Taveras says "Merit-based hiring and promotion systems were instituted." Later, he brags about the new recruitment class of the Providence Police department, saying "Within weeks, a new class of Providence Police officers — the most diverse in the department’s history — will be sworn to protect and to serve the people of our great city."
How's that working out for us, Mayor Taveras? Not very well, I'd venture to guess most would agree. Last week, reported that one of the members of the recently inaugurated police class was fired under suspicion of larceny after he and his fiancé were implicated in stealing a cell phone. 

It was later revealed by WPRI's Walt Buteau that the former police officer recruit in question, David Sanchez, has been arrested twice for misdemeanor charges in New York. A Providence detective who looked into the backgrounds of the new hires made the higher ups aware of this fact, but was ignored and the officer was hired anyways. Does that not sound like a clubhouse atmosphere wrought with favoritism? Does anyone doubt that Sanchez must have known somebody to be hired despite a criminal record?
Buteau reports that Police are also investigating another officer who allegedly kissed a woman, unprovoked, for merely asking him to move out of the way so she could pass him in the aisle at the ceremony. That sounds like a "boys club" if you ask me.

Unfortunately for folks like Taveras, there are people like me actually listen to what they say.

Taveras ends his diatribe by pointing out that Janis Joplin sang "I'd trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday", and that means we shouldn't vote for Cianci, or something like that. 

First of all, while it's true that Joplin sang the song, let's give attribution where it belongs. "Me and Bobby McGee" was written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster and originally sang by Roger Miller.

However, Taveras does inadvertently make one decent point: the way things in Providence are going these days, most residents would be thrilled to trade today for the way the city was 15 years ago.

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A native Rhode Islander, Russell J. Moore is a graduate of Providence College and St. Raphael Academy. He worked as a news reporter for 7 years (2004-2010), 5 of which with The Warwick Beacon, focusing on government. He continues to keep a close eye on the inner workings of Rhode Islands state and local governments. Find Russell J. Moore Twitter @russmoore713.


Related Slideshow: High Profile Endorsements in 2014 RI Election Cycle

With less than one week remaining until the Rhode Island primary, Republican gubernatorial candidates Allan Fung and Ken Block have each announced endorsements from high-profile in-state and national GOP figures -- joining an array of national political figures who have announced their support for candidates seeking office in Rhode Island this year.  See this year's highest profile candidate endorsements below.  

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John Robitaille

2010 Republican RI Gubernatorial Nominee 

Endorsement:  Republican Ken Block for RI Governor 

“Ken Block has a clear understanding of the issues affecting Rhode Islanders, and he has a credible plan to improve how the state operates.” said Robitaille.  “Ken’s experience as a job creator and problem solver has served him well in the private sector. This same experience is what we need in a governor to tackle the enormous budget, operational and service issues we face in these difficult economic times.”

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Mitt Romney

2012 Republican Presidential Nominee

Endorsement:  Republican Allan Fung for RI Governor

“Allan is a proven leader who will challenge the special interests and shake up the status quo.  As Mayor of Cranston, Allan has an impressive record of results.  He took over a financially-distressed city and turned it into a model of reform,” said Romney in a statement. “He's restructured programs, pared back where necessary and pursued efficiencies and consolidations.”

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Brian Newberry

RI House Minority Leader

Endorsement: Ken Block for RI Governor

“As the campaign has transpired it has become clear to me that Ken Block is the best person to take on the Democrats and lead the party to victory in November,” said Newberry.  “Ken has a solid plan to fix our state and I look forward to working with him at the State House.” 

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Bill Clinton

42nd President of the United States 

Endorsement:  Seth Magaziner for General Treasurer

Clinton headlined a rally for Magaziner on Aug. 27 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence

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Patrick Kennedy

Former US Congressman (D-RI)

Endorsements:  Angel Taveras for RI Governor; Seth Magaziner for General Treasurer 

On Magaziner:  “I am proud to support Seth, because I know he is the best candidate to move Rhode Island forward,” said Congressman Kennedy. “Not only will Seth bring a steady hand to the state’s finances, he will bring new energy and fresh ideas that will put Rhode Islanders to work and make our state competitive in the 21st century economy.”

On Taveras:   “If we need a model in Rhode Island of what it is that it’s going to take for success, all we need to do is to look at the personal story of Angel Taveras,” said Kennedy. “He’s not someone who has ever had anything handed to him.”

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Michael R. Bloomberg

Former New York City Mayor

Hosted fundraiser for Democrat Gina Raimondo for RI Governor

“Gina is one of the most impressive public officials in America today in the mayor’s opinion … he really thinks she’s a superstar.” - Howard Bloomberg, Bloomberg Senior Advisor 

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Rahm Emanuel

Chicago Mayor; Former US Congressman (D-IL); Former White House Chief of Staff to President Obama

Mayor Emanuel hosted a fundraiser for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo in June 2013 

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Myrth York

Three-Time Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate

Endorsement:  Gina Raimondo for RI Governor; Jorge Elorza for Providence Mayor

“I am supporting Gina because she is smart, she is determined and she is incredibly hard working,” York said in a statement. “She understands the challenges and difficulties that Rhode Islanders face every day. And she knows how to bring change – positive, progressive change.”

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Colbie Caillet

Pop Singer

Attended volunteer event for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell 


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