WICKFORD, Rhode Island -- One thing I really enjoy about coming back to New England periodically is to witness the outrageous corruption that reigns here, particularly in the three southern states of the region.
My home state does have a formidable cast of criminals that have duped the electorate, raided the public treasury, and even committed crimes of unspeakable horror. In Massachusetts, Boston's Tom Menino may never have been convicted of a felony, but the four-term mayor does frequently abuse his power, tries to steal money from the library, and in most states, he would probably be disqualified from public office for being an imbecile or mentally deranged. But few of these public service terrorists can compare to former Providence mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci in term of sheer audacity and shamelessness.
Buddy served seven terms as mayor, and he only had to resign in disgrace twice. The first time was in 1984, after being convicted of assault. He returned to city hall in 1991, but in 2002, he ran afoul of a federal investigation, codenamed "Plunder Dome," and was indicted on charges of racketeering, conspiracy, witness tampering, and mail fraud. Buddy recently served a four-and-a-half year stint in federal prison on a single count of conspiracy to run a corrupt criminal enterprise; he managed to beat the other 26 counts of the indictment.
Buddy remains a popular radio talk show host, but I was dismayed to see that he has a new title: "chief political analyst" for Providence's local ABC affiliate. Here you can watch him offer up his massively stupid opinions about Caroline Kennedy's bid for the vacant US Senate seat in New York.
So, let's see: being convicted of a felony disqualifies you from joining the army, or becoming a police officer, or joining almost every branch of the civil service, but you can still run for public office, and get a lucrative job in television.
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