Don’t let the case of Paul Valletta, one of the most prominent faces of Rhode Island’s firefighter unions slip by without reading some of the details. Here are some that WJAR’s Parker Gavigan has reported:
[Lt. Scott] Bergantino told police that while other firefighters were participating in the “Fill the Boot” campaign raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, he and [Deputy Chief] Valletta got into a heated argument about overtime.
Valletta is also the Cranston fire union president and a state lobbyist for the Rhode Island State Association of Firefighters. Their argument turned physical, said Bergantino, who told detectives Valletta pushed him up against a chalkboard, punched him in the head two times and then threw him over a recliner and onto the floor.
Sleep well, Cranstonites, knowing that this is who responds to your emergencies, and sleep well, Rhode Islanders, knowing these are the state’s insiders, for whose benefit much of our public policy is designed. Note that the fight started on the subject of overtime, one key ingredient (other than pensions) making firefighting such a lucrative career in Rhode Island. A quick review of Cranston budgets suggests that the department regularly overspends its overtime budget by around $1.2 million (about 34%).
According to Gavigan, it appears that police have some sort of recording of the incident, and Valletta is currently suspended with pay. Anybody want to bet against my expectation that Valletta will find himself in a graceful retirement and Bergantino will get a nice bit of time off?