Cranston City Council Planning Coup with Help of State Police?


This report from NBC 10 reporter Parker Gavigan suggests that one of the bigger worries expressed in my analysis of the state police report about the Cranston Police Department might actually have been understated:

City Council President John Lanni told the NBC 10 I-Team that he expects the council will introduce two resolutions at next Monday’s meeting that deal directly with the scathing state police report on Mayor Allan Fung’s leadership over the police department.

Lanni said the council will vote on a resolution of no confidence against Fung. …

Lanni also said he expects the council to “right a wrong” in the case of Patrolman Matthew Josefson.

As I mentioned in my analysis, Lanni appears to have become a political friend of Police Chief Michael Winquist, as well as the new prime beneficiary of donations from the the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 301.  The core criticism of the state police report about Cranston is that there was too much alignment between the union, the chief, and the mayor.  With their extremely biased report, the state police officers appear to have facilitated a switch to an equally unhealthy (or worse) alignment between the union, the chief, and the city council, which may be preparing to overstep its own bounds, to boot.

A quick look at the city’s charter suggests that a “no confidence” resolution would be purely political and that the council has no authority to dip into the minute details of city employment.  They are well situated, however, to undermine the mayor and disrupt the operation of the city until the next election, at which point, they can complete their coup.

Depending how this goes, I may have to upgrade my criticism of the report from “extremely biased” to “recklessly and dangerously political.”  If Chief Winquist and State Police Superintendent Steven O’Donnell don’t do what they can to stop the train that their report started rolling, they risk long-term damage to the credibility of the state police.

  • Max

    I still think the State Police were just pointing out the obvious in their report. They may have been highly motivated to do so because Fung and Palumbo tried to use them to do their dirty work but I can’t say as I blame them. As to your suggestion that the RISP is responsible for a new union alliance with Lanni, if the FBI shuts down an organized crime family and another steps in to fill the void, do you blame the FBI?

    • OceanStateCurrent

      No, it’s not just the union alliance with Lanni. It’s Winquist, too. This is much more like the FBI knocking out one organized crime founding and joining forces with another one.

      • Max

        Ultimately it’s Fung’s own fault. He failed to address the police department’s leadership void and played hardball with Winquist over returning the puppet master Antonucci to glory. Maybe I’m looking at different than most but Antonucci’s dad has been trying to sink his tentacles into every law enforcement agency in the state and that includes the state police. Ask any high ranking cop in the state who Vito Antonucci is and you won’t get any shoulder shrugs…well maybe NOW but not before. There’s no doubt in my mind that Steve Antonucci was pulling Fung and Palumbo’s strings so I’m elated that the State Police took the position they did.

        • OceanStateCurrent

          Barry and Moynihan initially offered Antonucci a deal that wasn’t much worse than the one Fung was pushing.

          • Max

            But Antonucci refused the deal and thought he could beat it. He basically backed them into a corner.

          • OceanStateCurrent

            He did beat it. Fung apparently brokered a slightly not-as-good deal (from the taxpayer perspective) versus what the State Police offered, and Winquist blew it up. As it was, Antonucci got a peach: a long, paid suspension plus accrued sick time (etc.) plus young retirement.

            One could argue that no deal that brought him back in should have been entertained (indeed, I would argue that), but clearly, the State Police didn’t take that view, and Fung’s offering was in a similar line.

          • Max

            I agree. He did beat it. That’s been the culture in this state for too long but at least he’s gone.