Monday, January 26, 2009

Cicilline: Believe Him or Not(?)

Let’s get this straight. The former Tax Collector in Providence states that on numerous occasions he was pressured to give preferential treatment to friends of and contributors to Mayor Cicilline – including not cashing a $75,000 bad check written by the mayor’s brother.

1) The mayor himself acknowledges that he stepped in on behalf of these friends and contributors.

2) Two (not just one, but two) senior staff members of the mayor state that they spoke to the mayor regarding his brother’s bad check.

3) According to one of these mayor’s aides, the mayor simply stated (about the $75,000 check), “Why would he do something like that?”, but did not even give the aide any instruction as to how to handle the situation.

4) This above mentioned Tax Collector was put on paid leave shortly after a ProJo story reported the mishandling of the mayor’s brother’s check, yet the mayor states that “management deficiencies” on behalf of the Tax Collector had convinced the mayor to get rid of him just prior to the ProJo story – even though he (the mayor) took no action toward this end until after the ProJo story triggered a possible corruption investigation in the Cicilline administration.

The statements above are the reported series of events regarding the Tax Collector’s Office under the Cicilline Administration. Inventoried on the following list are the explanations of these reported facts by Mayor Cicilline.

1) The mayor states that there have been no improprieties in this area by himself or his staff. According to the mayor, “Campaign contributions should not disqualify someone from relief from unfair treatment”.

We are left to take the mayor’s word that despite the “appearance” of preferential treatment, there was none

2) The mayor’s “explanation” to these official statements made to authorities investigating possible corruption under the Cicilline Administration. “I told him (former Chief-of-Staff Christopher Bizzacco) that I know that you think that we had a conversation about this (John Cicilline’s $75,000 check) but you’re mistaken.”

Despite overwhelming evidence that the mayor was informed about his brother’s bad check early on in the process, we are left to accept the mayor’s explanation that he remembers what didn’t happen and that two of his top aides are mistaken in their remembrance of what they say did happen.

3) The mayor’s non-committal as to a plan of action regarding his brother’s bad check left the decision as to whether or not to go after the brother of the man who controls their employment squarely on the shoulders of his aides. This ‘dodging of the tough decisions’ is not the type of leadership we need from our elected officials.

This type of action is, however, exactly the type of behavior one would expect by a person who wanted the “issue” to disappear but did not wish to go “on record” as to having been responsible for the decision.

4) The suspension of the Tax Collector after the ProJo story accused the mayor of inappropriate interference on behalf of his friends and contributors would seem to be nothing more than political retribution. The mayor, however, states that the decision to replace the Tax Collector was made before the story broke – he had simply not shared this decision with anyone else.

We are forced to believe the mayor at his word on this issue, despite the obvious conclusion one would arrive at after reviewing the chain of events.

The only way to avoid the acceptance that there was, at minimum, inappropriate behavior and possibly full-fledged corruption in the Cicilline Administration is to accept the word of the mayor over the word of his former Tax Collector; to accept the word of the mayor over the word of two (2) of his top aides; to accept the word of the mayor over common sense regarding a seemingly political retaliation on his part against the person who began the allegations against him.

For myself, I don’t have that type of blind belief in David Cicilline. I have personal knowledge of lies he has boldly told in the past.