Category: Rhode Island

Getting out of the northeast U.S. for good

As life is wont, I had to withdraw funds from a cryptocurrency site. They definitely obfuscate the ability that’s for sure.

Anyhow I had a good chunk of Ripple currency. So I wanted to convert it to USD and withdraw it.

What an oddesey. First you have to sell the currency to convert it into USD. Then go through withdrawal, enter all your bank information and click withdraw.

Part of the reason I needed the money – we’re relocating. After over a half century in the Providence/Boston area I’ve decided I’ve had enough of brutally cold weather, getting three feet of snow in one event dumped on us, etc. Plus the assholes in the area really irk me.

One of the thing about me, I love a calm, reasoned conflict. I give the example of my current outgoing state senator. I recall one hearing over granting marriage equality in RI I said to him – can you honestly tell me you have no LGBT people in your family and friends who you are harming with your refusal to grant these rights? I got a nod from him then and there. I think he saw the the error of his opposition. And to this day he respects me.

Then there’s this here site plus facebook et al where I’ve so gotten under the skin of politicians that they’ve called me up to talk about it. I love that. I think part of it is be king maker not king. But I’m tired of swimming in the little incestuous pool of a small state and city. Think about it, our legislature is 75 people. That’s the STATE legislature.

The city council in say NYC is bigger.

But where are we going? Two friends of ours relocated to the Atlanta area. And they rave about it. Even talking to a gentleman on amateur radio mentioned his son is going to school in Atlanta and loves it there. Plus most of both our friends have left the state of Rhode Island for greener pasture. I think it’s high time I did the same. I’ll miss the people of the Providence Emergency Management Agency, and Providence Democratic Socialists but I have to move on.

Plus I did something – I put Atlanta on my linkedin jobs profile. I have been aggressively headhunted by just doing that.

Add to that – no excise tax on motor vehicles, and tax rates on property are low in comparison to what we have in the northeast. And foolishness of standing at the RI DMV for a few hours to renew a licence or car registration – where in Georgia you can go into a supermaker, and electronic kiosk is there where you enter your registration number, swipe your credit/debit card and it spits out renewal stickers for the car. The only similarity is car inspection – it’s mainly emissions check and nothing more both in RI and GA now.

So long Rhode Island and all the folks I’ve known here. And goodbye to my cousins that are still in the state and nearby Connecticut. The time has come, as I said, I have a fair bit of southern Italian ancestry in my blood and it demands go south old man, go south. So I’m going. Farewell Rhode Island.

Shipment of Wine and Spirits in RI

So went to a wine tasting at a friends home in Massachusetts yesterday. And the company doing the wine selling – they cannot ship to Rhode Island residences.

So I dashed an email to my representative, senator and speaker of the house. In addition I’ve posted on facebook and twitter to contact your representatives and let them know we’re not happy about that.

So now I have to go in Attleboro, MA to get my wine. Ut si! I can transport it across state lines but Fedex and UPS can’t? What the bloody fuck.

If you are a RI registered voter you can go to the RI Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s page and enter your name, address or zip code and your DOB and it’ll tell you who your elected representative are including their contact info  – call, email, write. Let them know this is not cool and that we are being INCONVENIENCED by this stupid ban.  And if you want to research your Representatives or Senators go to the RILIN site.

But if you live in Rhode Island let your elected officials know this isn’t cool to block shipments of wine and spirits to residential addresses.

(Health Care) The Party of No Ideas

So I was reading the Proj article titled “GOP calls for loud crowd at health-care forum”

They lead in with this gem from Republican Party chair Giovanni Cicione:

State Republican Party Chairman Giovanni Cicione said he hopes angry protesters will flood Wednesday night’s town hall meeting hosted by Rep. James R. Langevin.

He further goes on to say:

“This is the clearest example in decades of the government exceeding its authority. I think this should make people really angry,” Cicione said, noting that he would be out of town, but that conservative groups — such as the Rhode Island Young Republicans and Rhode Island Tea Party movement — are mobilizing their forces to attend.

“This is America, we have First Amendment rights to protest,” Cicione continued. “The citizenry has the right to go out and shout at the top of their lungs.”

Every Republican thus far has railed against any form of nationalized health care. But the common theme is that they haven’t offered anything substantive to address the problem, namely that we’re being slowly bankrupted by the current health care system.

But remember too, even the national Republicans play the same game. When Boehner got up and said the Republicans had a budget proposal and then produced a document so sketchy on details, you knew they were truly turning into an opposition party which has now morphed to the “Party of No”.

Shame on the likes of Cicione, Boehner, and the entire cadre of Republican scum for misleading the people. You’ll never see a Republican tell you that Medicare runs on a 3% overhead whereas private insurance runs at 20% and more. The reason for that high overhead is so they can pay out dividends to investors as well as executive salaries.

You will however hear from Fox News, that Republican party communication instrument, that x number of illegal aliens would be covered by a public plan, or that people in the age group 18 to 25 would just use that instead of getting insurance, etc.

You’ll also hear Fox pundits calling it the Obama Death Care plan, or Obamacare, etc. It’s to the point of ridicule or at least to the point where the pundits and politicians who oppose a true public option should be ridiculed.

There is hope though. I’m noting that corporations in general are getting very nervous about citizen activism. Case in point is the most recent pullout of Tim Horton’s from a NOM event here in RI. I also heard another about Miller donating $30,000 to a group who threatened a boycott of their product.

Here is my message to those who would compare Obama to Hitler or calling Obama a fascist and the like. Stop for a moment and verify the facts if you will. And then I ask, where have you been for the last eight years when George W. Bush, your treasured Republican, was President. We had widespread abuses of our civil rights, we watched as corporations like communications companies, banks, et al became more rapacious and while the Fed kept lowering interest rates, or allowing the credit default swap insurance industry to run unregulated.

Yes people, that was fascism, well more like despotism. Is it any wonder the reaction was to elect a Democrat as President and to hand the Democratic party a supermajority in the senate and a simple majority in the house?

The Republican party is destined for the dustbin of history. Here in RI we can see the rumblings already since the Moderate Party of RI has now been certified for the ballot as an official party. Hell, I’d like to see the Greens and the Socialists get party certification too. The more the merrier, that’s my motto. Because then you’d have to form coalitions in government. More variables means less money to each individual legislator.

Of course I hope the Moderate Party has a slate of candidates. That was where the once Cool Moose Party failed, it only had the one gubernatorial candidate.

And Mr. Cicione, you’d be wise to hear these words.

Now for the Democrats. Stop catering to Republican demands. They lost, and there’s a damn good reason they lost as outlined above. Put your foot down and stand for something instead of being a god damned weasel.

Marriage Equality Hearings in RI this evening

So I got there early to get my name fairly high up on the list to testify. They said the hearing would start at 4:30PM, it didn’t start until 6:30PM.

I did note that the parade of nitwits and the God Squad (Aka the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence) were fairly light in attendance this evening. In fact the God Squad only sent one Deacon to testify against Marriage Equality, Civil Unions, and granting of divorce to same sex couples whose marriages were performed in Massachusetts. The Deacon sat and read a statement from Bishop Tobin and of course it was the usual drivel. But I noted that it apparently didn’t appear to be a hot button issue this year since Fr. Codega and his crew weren’t there. None of the bishops in recent memory have ever attended the hearing either.

We heard from the marriage equality bill sponsor, Rep. Arthur Handy as well as from Rep. Frank Ferri the openly gay and partnered one. There are now three gay members of the House, Ferri, Fox, and Costantino. Hopefully this bodes well for us.

We also heard from Rep. Al Gemma in support too!

There were four stars in the testimony this evening. Two pro and one con.

I’ll start with the con. They put up Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage up and of course she kept on and on ad naseum about how the perfect thing for marriage throughout time was a man and a woman. NOM was founded by one Brian S. Brown. Would someone find that asshat and give him a good beating for me? It got particularly fun when Rep. Amy Rice started in on her. Rice loves provoking the religious nitwits. Rice is a very bright person too, she hold numerous degrees from some very good schools.

Then of course on the con side we had the less notable Brown University Pysch professor Lewis Lipsitt who claimed that studies show that male-female parents are better for a child than children with a single parent, or remarried parents or heave fucking forbid, a gay couple. The man should have his shingle revoked. Funny how his specialty is in developmental psych and he mentioned that the vast volume of literature on parenting and its effect on children is heterosexually based, that there are at max only about fifty studies on homosexual couples raising children and he said some pretty hateful things.

So much so that the 12 year old daughter who testified several people after Professor Dipshit was in tears and Rep. Edith Ajello tried to soothe the distraught girl.

On the pro side we had three notable testimonies this evening.

The first was Jenn Steinfeld, the director of Marriage Equality Rhode Island. At times you could tell she was getting frustrated with the questions from the reps on the committee. But she made them look like the fools they are, particularly Rep. Jon Brien. Brien has a bill that proposes putting the question to the voters of the state, in essence a DOMA bill that he swears up and down isn’t a DOMA bill. Brien kept stating over and over that the statute forming the RI Family Courts said that marriage was a union between man and woman when the statute he’s talking about does NOT contain that phrase.
Thanks for playing Rep. Brien, but for an attorney you sure are a dim fucking bulb.

Next was a gentleman whose name escapes me, but he had his partner of 20 years die in his home. The gentleman was handcuffed, denied any right to see his dead partner, make funeral arrangements, etc. Really a very touching reminder of why we need marriage equality in this state.

Finally Casandra Ormiston testified. What a grand and eloquent testimony it was. She rattled the reps sitting on the bench, let me tell you that. The name might be somewhat familiar if you’ve been following the gay divorce case going through the RI courts. She touched on EVERYTHING with a very dramatic flair, so much so that a couple of the Reps on the committee complimented her.

Others of those opposed were the wife of Steven Boyce a pastor at New Life Worship Center in Smithfield, RI (Warning! Flash Laden Site) She boasts her church has 1,000 members, blah,blah blah and urged them to reject the bills in question. She has a voice that to me is like fingernails on a chalkboard. I just wanted to blurt out “SHUT THE FUCK UP!”. And the other thing, how do we get these little mega-churches in Rhode Island?

I also heard that Christopher Young went off on a 20 minute psycho rant against marriage equality. . Everyone who’s met Young knows he’s certifiably nuts. Yet he got 26% of the vote in his run for various offices. I consider anything up to 28% to be the lunatic fringe. Even George W. Bush still has a 28% approval rating, that’s his core, his base, the lunatics among us. Young clearly falls into that category.

Apparently these hearings have been playing out for more than a decade. I did have an idea though I didn’t get to testify. When it rolled around to 10PM and the chair was saying there were no more names on the list yet there were, I just left. But here’s the idea, link support of marriage equality to money. Seriously, the state is in dire financial straits here and one gentleman testifying made note of the fact that when his sister married her partner in Massachusetts, all the money was spent in that state. I think we should really pounce on that issue too.

I am told that greater than 2/3’s of the Judiciary committee supports bringing the marriage equality bills to the floor for a vote but the leadership in both the house and senate keep doing things to quash the bills, like scheduling committee hearings near the end of the legislative session.

House Speaker William Murphy, Senate President Joseph Montalbanowww, and Governor Donald Carcieri have all voiced their opposition to the bills. But I’m calling on them now to stop with their religious objections to the bills in question, with the exception of Brien’s DOMA bullshit. You still have time in this session to do the right thing and pass the equality bills.

In case you’re interested, I created a video and sent it to the entire Judiciary Committee and the Speaker.

Comments about Medical Marijuana in Rhode Island

The local rag, the Providence Journal lets people comment and vote on stories. Today they asked if people would use marijuana if they were ill.

Not many have commented but here are the ones there already.

September 9, 2007 09:04 a.m.
Gravely ill persons have stood up to their pain and suffering for generations. Marijuana use is a cop out for the modernists and the addictive crowd among us. Beside being a felony under federal laws, the local use of the drug is severely unregulated. Any friend, neighbor or family member can partake of the liberal stash permitted by the RI law. Mr. Slater, who seems to enjoy making headlines bleating about his cancer problem, ignores those of us who have the same disease but quietly go about our business of living as best we can. Another strike against Rhode Island.. Bill Walsh

This guy is obviously a Calvinist. Sure, bear out the rest of your life in misery and pain for his religious beliefs. I can only hope that Mr. Walsh someday suffers a disease so hideous and painful that he reaches out for relief from marijuana only to be told it’s still illegal because of people like him.

September 9, 2007 08:59 a.m.
and it does, i use it and it helps with back pain after 3 operations that didn’t work, and a fourth that is in the making…

This guy understands the benefits. Marijuana is remarkable for pain relief.

September 9, 2007 08:41 a.m.
C’mon, get realistic. People are legally using morphine derivatives every day. Marijuana is no different. Our society is WAY too paranoid over pot.

Another user that understands the FUD spread by the government, particularly that onerous organization known as ONDCP. The ON part is just describing what it is, what they do is described by DCP, Drug Control Policy. When you consider the number of people locked up and then go on to find that it was for possession of marijuana you see that their policy has been a miserable failure. The War on Drug is illogical.

September 7, 2007 10:31 p.m.
We need drugs from respectable companies, not from Joe the Pusher down on the corner. When someone winds up dead from bad weed, you will hear the outcry then.

Someone who doesn’t know that you can’t OD on marijuana. It’s physically impossible. People like this tell us that weed is more potent now than it’s ever been. Good. you don’t need to smoke as much.

September 7, 2007 03:55 p.m.

No comment here. I tend to agree though.

September 7, 2007 01:19 p.m.
Hell, yeah! Whether a drug is from a plant or manufactured, I would use it if it helped. If you’re going to have a problem with plant based drugs, you’ll have to eliminate a whole host of other useful medicines.

Yet another citizen gets it. If you look back in history hemp was a major crop. Hemp is nothing more than marijuana. And look at the name marijuana, it’s latin in nature, or for the xenophobes out there Mexican.

September 7, 2007 01:19 p.m.
If I was able to legally obtain it, store it, use it as a medicine, and not abuse it, I would imagine, that anything that would ease a person’s illness, would make sense. If I did not operate machinery, or drive, or take myself out in public, and I am no danger to anyone, while I am medicating, then why would I not? The question is really “Now that medical marijuana is legal, what percent of users do you think will abuse the privilege”? I would think it’s the same percentage of folks that are controlled substance abusers, and have lost the ability of personal self control. If Marijuana can ease pain, then why not just subscribe the active ingredient, THC? That way the money grubbing drug companies can control it, and the government can tax the user to death for it, and your insurance can be billed by your healthcare provider. It is all out of control, but the original question should be answered as positive, if it can help ease pain, or nausea, or other symptoms, and the user can be monitored, and does not endanger themselves or others.

This guy is obviously a Republican since only Republicans have never gotten high in their life.

September 7, 2007 12:05 a.m.
Marijuana is not put out by a major drug company in this country, so, no, I would not use it. Only when big business can profit from my disease will I be willing to us a drug.

This one is interesting and seems to have a slight sarcastic tone to it. If this is for real, this is a person who has never grown their own vegetables, or never eaten anything not obtained in a supermarket.

Or on the other side, the writer is someone that understands the evil of corporations which would mean I’m not the only one in RI that sees that. Interesting.

Now playing: Stephanie Mills – In The Morning Time
via FoxyTunes

Tonight I testified

Tonight the Rhode Island House of Representatives Judiciary Committee held hearings on H6081, Marriage Equality. I’ve updated this because I had time to think about the high and low points of the hearing and to find all the links to the various people. Visit the links and heap praise upon those who support us, and scorn upon those who deserve it.

The hearing started at 5:00PM and by 8:00PM we’d heard just about enough from those against the bill, and it was getting a little nauseating hearing the support.

For example, Stephen Boyce, pastor of New Life Worship Center in Smithfield was a slickly polished pastor. I did make note that most of those vociferously against the bill were people that nobody would want to fuck in the first place. And his wife Nancy Boyce was pathetic. She said that “God defined marriage as one man, one woman. That’s it. It’s defined. It’s undebatable.” Undebatable huh? Well cupcake, how about that little fact that there’s not one sect of Christianity but hundreds.

Rev. John Codega of the RC Diocese of Providence was this metrosexual looking, smooth talking idiot. I loved it when Rep. Donna Walsh asked him precisely what the 97% of straight people had to be protected from.

But the worst was Rabbi Yehoshua Laufer. Laufer said that you cannot push the boundaries of religion. Meanwhile seated to his left was a Muslim Imam, to his right a Catholic deacon. I sort of sotto vocce’d that the men on either side of him belonged to religions that pushed the boundaries.

Then of course Rep. Tim Williamson kept asking the holy-trio (The Imam, Rabbi and Deacon – there’s a joke in there somewhere, I’m just not sure where.) if God might know that person was gay. The Rabbi kept saying that yes, God was all knowing but Williamson pushed the point several times. And still the Rabbi wouldn’t capitulate.

Someone trotted out the tired arguments found in the book of Leviticus. When they started with the “man should not lie with another man as with a woman” crap, I rather loudly stated that they also shouldn’t sleep with a woman during her menstrual period. Or eat shellfish. People don’t realize that Leviticus also setup the clerical class and its support mechanism.

Rep. Edith Ajello was great though. Through most of the proceedings she was quiet, until Rabbi Laufer started spouting. She said that the bill in question did not force religions to recognize gay marriage. And towards the end she stated that we live in a country where an atheist couldn’t be elected President and how that shot down her chance at the Presidency. Yeah, there were great moments for atheists in that hearing.

And as usual, early on Rep. Amy Rice of Portsmouth tore into the religious idiots, beginning with Joanne McOsker, president of Catholics for Life. McOsker stated that homosexuality could be cured, that studies backed her up to which Rice countered that by saying “You think that this committee should take one doctor’s opinion over a whole association of doctors?” whilst fanning a stack of papers with APA signatures. Not only the APA, but the AMA etc. I so love Rep. Rice.

I credit Mark Simmons with the catch phrase of the evening. When talking about his twin brother having gotten married he said ““I want to get married. Nobody ever says ‘I want to get civil unioned.’ ”

I decided to shake it up a bit. I got up to the mic and said this:

First I’d like to tell you how through amateur radio and my desire to prove a point that I became a card carrying Reverend.

As a Reverend in Rhode Island I can marry two heterosexual people but under state law I am unable to marry two homosexual people. And more to the point, I cannot marry the man that I’ve been in love with for the past fourteen years in my own state.

Short, sweet and to the point. Of course I’m waiting to see the video because I think I pounded the table a couple of times, a la Nikita Kruschev. Had I thought about it I would have banged my shoe.

Hopefully this year it’ll clear committee. And I’ve been told that my testimony raised a few heads in awareness. Granted, most of the testimony was earnest, respectful etc. But mine was a little strident and it got the attention of quite a few people, including the legislators on the committee.

I think I’ll have to attend more hearings and I’ve a feeling I’ll have to because it doesn’t look like the legislation will pass this year either, after over a decade of trying. Our esteemed Speaker of the House William Murphy keeps quashing it. I keep telling people that the only way for Rhode Island to have marriage equality is to challenge it in court. Of course GLAAD is behind Marriage Equality RI, and they of course see the RI judiciary as hostile. Perhaps on the district level, but on the level of the Supreme Court of RI, I think they’d not only issue the writ of certiorari but find in our favor. The judiciary has long stood as the bulwark against mob rule.

Some observations RI v MA

Over the years I’ve heard the normal condemnations about Massachusetts residents. It usually took the form of calling our neighbor to the north and the east Taxachussets, and calling it’s resident Massholes.

But over the years I’ve made some observations. Massachusetts has a lower overall tax rate than we in Rhode Island. For example, they pay a 5% sales tax, we pay 7% and get this, on prepared food we pay 8%. This doesn’t just apply to restaurants but when you buy prepped food in a supermarket, you pay the higher tax rate. Not that our state tax isn’t exactly fair, and add to it the excise and property taxes in the state. For example, in the city of Providence a $200,000 house would cost approximately $6,400 a year or $533.33 a month! People in Massachusetts have capped their property taxes.

While I’m on a roll here, the dear Gov of RI wants to furlough state employees for 7 days in the coming fiscal year. But here’s the thing, why not give state employees a four day work week and leave pay the same. The savings on infrastructure alone would be significant. But then even though our Gov comes from the business world, he does NOT understand bureaucracy. His Fiscal Fitness exercise did nothing but cost the state money when there were real solutions waiting to be discovered, like maybe getting a return on technology investment. Right now old computers simply get warehoused and sit and rot. Collecting just a residual value ($50) would net the state quite a chunk. Same goes for pretty much everything the state does.

The Masshole label is mostly for their drivers. But here’s something I’ve noticed. Rhode Islanders don’t know what the two parallel that cross streets happen to be. In fact RI drivers will speed up when you’re in the middle of a crosswalk. Massachusetts drivers will actually stop!

Then of course there is highway driving. In Rhode Island if you signal a lane change the thought going through the minds of your fellow Rhode Islanders is “Oooo.. look at the pretty flashing light.” You take your life in your own hands making a lane change in congested highway conditions here. In Massachusetts when you signal a change a hole opens up in the lane in which you want to go.

Maybe we Rhode Islanders should be a bit more introspective. We have our own problems.

Now this is interesting

Found this over on Polt’s Palace:

You are a
Social Liberal
(70% permissive)

and an…

Economic Liberal
(15% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Which btw correlates nicely with this page, I’m Tony P on that one and as is evident, I’m to the left of Ghandi. What’s more interesting is that all those people around me in the lower left quadrant are fellow RI’ers. No wonder we’re the bluest of the blue, and the state also has the highest percentage of Catholics in the nation. Catholicism here is less dogmatic and more about social justice, with the exception of the fact that the Bishop and his goons are always contests marriage equality.

Politicians Running for Cover in Rhode Island

In my last post about the federal judiciary going after corrupt politicians in Rhode Island I mentioned the 7/7 combo of politicians and corporations.

In it I predicted that leadership in one or both houses of the legislature would be ensnared in what is now called operation Dollar Bill. Sure enough, Joseph Montalbano the president of the Senate is a target. And CVS seems to be playing heavily into the investigations.

This is going to be explosive. Because now the dotted lines between the political and the corporations are going to be filled in to become solid connectors.

My next prediction is that to save his own ass Montalbano will give up lower ranking members of the Senate. Time will tell – but it is about time that the Providence Journal had something to report on.

Operation Dollar Bill
01:00 AM EST on Sunday, February 4, 2007
By Mike StantonJournal Staff Writer

When he was sworn in as U.S. Attorney, Robert Corrente identified combating public corruption as a top priority.
The Providence Journal / Bob Thayer

Politicians are looking over their shoulder, witnesses are lawyering up and the FBI and state police have spent many hours at the State House library, poring over the arcane details of committee votes and the travel of legislation.

Welcome to Operation Dollar Bill, the newly minted federal corruption probe that seeks to connect the dots between dollars, as in payoffs, and bills, as in legislation.

In the U.S. Attorney’s office in downtown Providence, overlooking the imposing white marble dome of the state capitol, the case is referred to simply as “the State House investigation,” says U.S. Attorney Robert Clark Corrente.

Like a hurricane gathering force, a case that began three years ago with one state senator, John A. Celona, has gained sufficient strength to recently earn its own name in the FBI register. Not since Operation Plunder Dome, the corruption probe of Providence City Hall that brought down Mayor Vincent A. Cianci Jr., has Rhode Island seen such a high-profile public corruption case.

And this case is bigger. While Plunder Dome focused on one mayor and one city, Operation Dollar Bill encompasses “multiple entities and a lot of players,” Corrente says.

Last week, when Celona was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for using his public office for private gain, a federal prosecutor stunned Rhode Islanders by telling the judge that Celona’s cooperation has spawned 14 “active investigations” of 7 politicians and 7 corporations for possible influence peddling.

The investigation reaches into the office of the Senate president, Joseph A. Montalbano, and the powerful Senate Finance chairman, Stephen D. Alves. Investigators are looking at Montalbano’s title work as a lawyer and Alves’ dealings as an investment adviser, searching for a possible nexus between their jobs and their political positions.

The trail has led to town halls in West Warwick, where Alves is a longtime political power and Montalbano received town title work, and Lincoln, where the FBI has also been asking questions. According to people familiar with the case, the probe has also looked at a powerful ex-legislator with financial ties to the CVS drugstore chain — former Senate President William V. Irons.

Irons, who earned insurance commissions related to CVS employees, has denied any impropriety. His lawyer declined comment Friday. CVS declined Friday to comment on whether it has provided documents to investigators regarding Irons. A corporate spokeswoman said that the company stands by its previous comments that it has cooperated and will continue to do so.

Where any of this will lead remains to be seen. Corrente noted last week that an investigation does not necessarily lead to criminal charges, and he declined to identify specific targets.

“Fourteen investigations today could be 11 tomorrow and 16 to 20 the day after,” said Corrente, in an interview. “It’s fluid. Some may close out [with no charges], while others may lead to new territory. It’s unclear how many prosecutable cases will emerge.”

The U.S. Attorney, who has been mentioned as a candidate to succeed U.S. District Judge Ernest C. Torres — who presided over corruption cases against Celona and Roger Williams Medical Center — has dedicated one-fifth of his staff resources to Operation Dollar Bill. Gerard B. Sullivan has relinquished his position as chief of the office’s criminal division to supervise a task force that includes the FBI, Rhode Island State Police, Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Department of Labor.

With Celona having pleaded guilty and former Roger Williams executives Robert A. Urciuoli and Frances P. Driscoll convicted at trial last fall, the State House probe two weeks ago shifted its focus to CVS, the nation’s largest drugstore chain. Executives John R. Kramer and Carlos Ortiz were indicted on corruption charges for allegedly putting Celona on the payroll as a $1,000-a-month consultant to influence pharmacy-choice and other legislation worth millions of dollars in sales.

Authorities have also investigated another company with whom Celona had financial dealings — Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island. A former state senator and Blue Cross vice president, Thomas Lynch, resigned after disclosures regarding the insurer’s financing of Celona’s cable television show on health care. To date, there have been no charges.

Corrente understands the coziness of Rhode Island. He was born in North Providence, the home base of Celona and Montalbano, and lives in East Greenwich, down the street from Jack Kramer, the CVS executive. When he was sworn in as U.S. Attorney 2 1/2 years ago, Corrente identified combating public corruption as a top priority.

“Whatever the end result, in terms of number of prosecutions or individuals targeted, I hope people involved in political life will get the message,” Corrente said. “They have to conduct themselves honestly, ethically and fairly.”

Sullivan, a veteran prosecutor who has handled violent crimes and drug cases, including prosecutions of the Latin Kings, says that those sorts of crimes are the most horrific imaginable –but they are generally confined to surviving family and friends. Public corruption, he noted, “affects everyone in the state.”

“It’s so widespread that everyone loses faith in government.”

MONTALBANO CONFIRMED to The Journal last fall that he had been questioned by the FBI, but declined to elaborate.

At the same time, officials in West Warwick told the newspaper that they had talked to the FBI and produced records regarding Montalbano’s hiring to perform title work in the town — work that Montalbano says he inadvertently failed to disclose, and which is now the subject of a complaint before the Rhode Island Ethics Commission.

Jeanne-Marie DiMasi, a former West Warwick councilwoman, said that she told the FBI that Alves had recommended Montalbano for the title work. The matter was controversial because two of the parcels abutted the proposed site of the Narragansett Indian-Harrah’s casino. Montalbano had supported legislation putting the casino question on the November ballot, where it failed. But he said there was no conflict.

“I’ve been an attorney since 1979 and a senator for 18 years, and I stand by my reputation for honesty and integrity and the good, honest work I’ve done for my constituents,” Montalbano said at the time. “I’m not a target of an FBI investigation that I’m aware of.”

Montalbano did not return calls Friday regarding recent developments.

A State House banking lobbyist, William Farrell, was recently approached by the FBI regarding allegations that he, Celona and Montalbano had met with an executive of a bank that had gotten legislation passed in 2001.

Farrell confirmed Friday that there was legislation, and that he golfed at Newport Country Club that fall with Celona and Montalbano. But he said there was no meeting with anyone from the bank, which he declined to identify.

“I have never met with Joe Montalbano and any bank executive about title work,” said Farrell, a lobbyist for 25 years. He declined to elaborate on the FBI’s recent inquiry. “I don’t want to get into the substance of any ongoing investigation.”

The FBI also has approached officials in Lincoln regarding Montalbano and Alves.

Former Finance Director Stephen Woerner and ex-Councilman Dean L. Lees Jr. said Friday that an FBI agent asked them last year about the town’s hiring of a company where Alves is a vice president of investments.

Woerner, now finance director in Johnston, said that the town pension fund lacked a proper asset-allocation plan and that the company was hired after a competitive bidding process. He said that he didn’t deal with Alves.

“[The FBI] was looking into Alves’ connection” to the company, Woerner said. “Unbeknownst to me, Alves worked there. But everything was handled aboveboard.”

Woerner said that the FBI agent also asked him whether Montalbano did tax-sale work in Lincoln. Woerner replied that Montalbano did, but that he had been doing so since prior to Woerner’s tenure as finance director began in 2003.

Lees said that the FBI was “very attentive to the pension system.”

Reached yesterday by phone for comment on the investigation, Alves said “I don’t know anything about that.” The FBI also has taken an interest in legislation creating a municipal court in Lincoln. According to Lees, he was questioned about his efforts to promote a bill at the General Assembly to create a municipal court — an issue that met with opposition from the Senate leadership and died in 2003 in Celona’s Corporations Committee.

“There was concern about who would have more clout in selecting who the judge would be,” Lees said.

Montalbano, who has been a municipal court judge in North Providence, voiced concerns that “a good, competent judge” be chosen, recalled Lees. “He wanted a good, competent person, but he never said who specifically he had in mind.”

The bill eventually passed. In November 2005, Frederic A. Marzilli, a lawyer who has done work for the General Assembly, was appointed municipal court judge in Lincoln.

Lees said that local council members have also been approached by the FBI.

THE COMMON THREAD in the various investigations under way, says U.S. Attorney Corrente, is information provided by John Celona — and the fact that “all, in one fashion or another, involve public corruption.”

With 14 investigations involving seven politicians, one would assume that at least some of the targeted politicians figure into multiple investigations. But Corrente declined to offer any breakdowns, or say whether the list includes former officeholders or politicians outside the General Assembly.

He said that an investigation of the Laborers’ union and related training funds, which became public two years ago when FBI agents searched union offices, is not dead. Among those whose offices were searched was Sen. Dominick J. Ruggerio, administrator of the New England Laborers’ training fund. Corrente would not say whether that investigation has been folded into Operation Dollar Bill, or whether that is why the Department of Labor is involved in the task force.

Asked why cases can take so long to develop, Corrente said: “These investigations involve a lot of people and entities and a staggering number of documents that require analysis. Then there’s additional legal work to determine who should get indicted.”

Just because prosecutors are focused on one case that has become public with an indictment doesn’t mean that they aren’t also working on others, he said.

“This investigation obviously has proceeded in steps,” Corrente said. “As it grew and encompassed more individuals and entities, we needed more people to keep up.”

With cases potentially stacking up like jets waiting to take off at a busy airport, how do prosecutors prioritize?

“That’s what we deal with all day,” Corrente said. “There are an unbelievable number of factors that go into that calculus. That’s our job. That’s what we do. Juggle.”

The Judicial Backlash against Pols starts Locally

This is such happy news to hear. Seems John Celona, former state Senator in RI is now staring at 30 months in the hoosegow for selling his senate office for cash to CVS and Roger Williams Hospital. What’s more interesting is that we’re getting a 7/7 combo from Celona – seven legislators and seven corporations are under investigation. By the way, this is NOT a state case, this is a federal case which means now there’ll be that much more case law to go after corporate influence over legislators everywhere. And RI could be the very first state in which that happens.

Now – follow me here. Let’s say approximately half of those 7 of each roll on other companies and legislators. In the first round we’ll get conservatively get 3.5 more legislators and 3.5 more corporations. Again, I’m being conservative in my estimate. Considering that the entire legislature is comprised of only 113 people, you can see how this going to spread like wildfire. This is because you pretty much know that all your elected officials have their hand in one cookie jar or another.

Now, of those seven legislators I guarantee that most all are in top leadership positions in the house and senate. You know they’ll roll on the rank and file to save their own skins.

And I love how Celona is all of a sudden remorseful. Yeah, right. How can you tell if a politician is telling a lie? His/her mouth is moving. Judge Torres can’t see through the act which surprises me as Torres is known as a tough judge. But then I’ve heard that Torres has some political aspirations of his own which might explain everything.

I see this as encouraging that people are finally waking to the danger of allowing corporations any influence on the legislative process.

Here’s the ProJo article in its entirety:

Celona, Urciuoli sentenced in corruption case
A prosecutor says an ongoing investigation could lead to 14 more criminal cases, involving seven politicians and seven corporations.
01:57 PM EST on Wednesday, January 31, 2007

PROVIDENCE — Former state Sen. John A. Celona, once one of the most powerful lawmakers at the Rhode Island State House, was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for selling his office for personal gain.

Shortly after, U.S. District Judge Ernest C. Torres also penalized form er Roger Williams Medical Center president Robert A. Urciuoli for stealing Celona’s honest services, with a sentence of three years in prison.

Urciuoli took responsibility for Celona’s hiring and requested leniency for co-defendant Frances Driscoll, a former vice president at Roger Williams. “It was my decision and my decision alone to hire John Celona,” Urciuoli said.

Driscoll was convicted in October with Urciuoli. She was found guilty of one count of mail fraud, but acquitted of conspiracy in Celona’s hiring. Her sentencing, originally set for 11:30 a.m. today, is now due to start at 2 p.m.

Celona, a North Providence Democrat who had served as chairman of the powerful Senate Corporations Committee, two years ago admitted selling his office to Roger Williams Medical Center, the drugstore chain CVS and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island. He gained $319,000

He pleaded guilty to three counts of mail fraud in August 2005. Celona was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison this morning for each of the three counts, but they are to be served concurrently. Celona faced 1 1/2 to 3 years.

He was ordered into federal custody March 2.

During this morning’s proceedings, a prosecutor said that Celona’s cooperation in an ongoing investigation could lead to 14 more criminal cases, involving seven politicians and seven corporations.

Celona’s cooperation with investigators has already led to the convictions of Urciuoli and Driscoll and the indictments this month of two former CVS executives.

The federal government’s lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerard B. Sullivan, characterized the information Celona has provided to federal prosecutors as unparalleled.

Sullivan didn’t go into any details about the seven additional politicians and corporation under investigation. Sullivan said it’s not clear how many prosecutions will come from those 14 separate investigations.

An emotional Celona spoke for six minutes, telling Senior U.S. District Judge Ernest C. Torres, that he will continue cooperating.

“I would like to express my remorse, apologize and take full responsibility for my past actions. I am truly sorry,” Celona said. “I am in some ways glad all of this has happened.”

That’s because, Celona said, in the past three years he has become “a better husband, better father and in some respects just a regular person living in the real world.”

“I was living in a superficial world in the State House,” he said.

At that moment, through tears and with his voice cracking, Celona professed his faith in Jesus Christ.

The last three years have affirmed that “family and honor are the most important aspects of life, not power, not politics, not glory,” he said.

Judge Torres told Celona, “I have a feeling that you are genuinely remorseful for what you’ve done.”

Referring to future prosecutions, he said, “You’ve testified and apparently will be testifying in future cases.”

Torres spoke of the culture of corruption and said he hopes this sentence will send a message to other office-holders.

“The message doesn’t seem to have sunk in,” he said, referring to other cases in Rhode Island.

“I hope, but I’m not sure I can say I’m optimistic, that what’s happened in this case” will deter further corruption, Torres said.

Celona must also serve two years of supervised release. As conditions of that supervised release, he must commit to eight hours of community service each week for two years.

He also must pay the cost of the supervised release, the cost of which is $3,450.

Urciuoli was convicted after the same trial of one count of conspiracy and 35 counts of mail fraud. He was sentenced today to 3 years on each of the counts and all are to be served concurrently.

Urciuoli has until noon April 2 to turn himself in to prison officials. Torres denied a request to stay Urciuoli’s sentence until his appeal can be heard.

The jurors acquitted a third defendant, Peter J. Sangermano Jr., who owned the Village at Elmhurst, where Celona was paid $257,000 as a consultant from 1998 to 2004.