Finally, after eighteen months of investigation Former House Speaker Gordon Fox is charged and not with any of the grand schemes that many had speculated on but instead for bribery and stealing money from his campaign fund for personal use. Sure hope that a little over $150,000 is worth a trip to Federal Prison (or the Country Club as Buddy Cianci calls it) and a revoked law license.
Fox could have also dodged a bullet. By pleading out to the Federal Charges,despite the fact that the Statute of Limitations expired (it’s usually 5 years in a federal crime), he likely saved himself from facing state charges. This is genius, where would you want to spend the next three years, the Rhode Island ACI or a federal prison. Most likely the federal pen, because quite plainly the conditions tend to be better for white collar criminals such as Gordon Fox.
Elorza smells blood
Meanwhile, Mayor Jorge Elorza tells RINPR that he is going to “aggressively pursue” the license of Shark Bar on Thayer Street. He noted that it is a matter of public trust. It is good that Elorza wants to appear in front of the corruption in the city, at the same time he is forgetting the very real human piece of the situation. Is it the bartender’s fault that the owner engaged in a bribe? Is it the hostess or waitress’s fault? No. But they all stand to lose their jobs if the bar is closed. On the other hand it is nice to hear Elorza say he is going to “get aggressive” about something. Now only if he could aggressively pursue snow removal and pot hole repair.
Biting the hands that feed them
Interestingly enough, embezzling money from his campaign account is the same charge that State Representative Joseph Almeida, a fellow Democrat, is facing. Politicians should be concerned. While the charges won’t necessarily influence political insiders when it comes to writing a check, everyday people might be more weary when attending political fundraisers and less likely to hand over a check. After all we all have our own mortgages to pay, we don’t need to foot the bill for some politician.
Paolino knows when to fold 'em
Meanwhile, Joe Paolino wins the week. Although Paolino didn’t get his wish to expand casino gaming into Newport and expand the Newport Grand Slot Parlor into a full casino, Paolino still probably managed to make a profit. Despite the fact that citizens rejected casino gaming in Newport Paolino went through with the purchase of the seaside slot parlor and just as quickly as he purchased it, he sold it.
Games off the table
Paolino and the owners of Twin River Casino in Lincoln announced that Twin River would buy the slot Parlor from Paolino and his partner. Twin River Board Chairman John Taylor Jr. said the casino recognizes that Newporters do not want a casino and says that there are no plans to pursue table gaming. Instead Taylor said the slot parlor and the casino will co-exist and work together to maximize future revenues which is a win for the state, a win for Twin River, and a win for the voters of Newport.
Common grounds for extension
Lastly, the state and the unions both lose this week -- regarding one of the first things they can agree on. The state and the five unions involved in the Rhode Island pension overhaul lawsuit all requested that Judge Taft-Carter grant them an extension. The judge said no, stating that she already granted a continuance. Now, both sides are scrambling as the trial is set to start next month. Perhaps the judge just felt there was nothing to gain from delaying it, or perhaps she doesn’t want to see it prolonged any further since regardless of the way the case is decided, there will be a substantial impact on the losing party. It is a little ironic that the first time all the parties are in agreement and even that doesn’t work out. It’s likely to be a long and messy trial.
Chronicles of chronic
The marijuana advocates are back at the State House pushing for the legalization of marijuana. The Governor’s press office says the Raimondo would consider the measure if it could be implemented in a way that It would not hurt Rhode Island. The advocates say legalizing marijuana would establish a ‘budding’ industry in Rhode Island and create new economic opportunities. Who knows, maybe it is just what Rhode Island needs. Either way , the group has ‘high hopes’ and the Governor’s lack luster response was basically a way of saying no without completely diminishing any future possibilities.
That’s all for now, I will catch you all next week. Who knows, maybe we will see another law maker facing corruption charges. After all it is Rhode Island.
Follow Dee DeQuattro on Twitter: @DeeDeQuattro