Arthur Christopher Schaper: Mayor Fung’s Political Peers
Following a Rhode Island State Police report criticizing Cranston Mayor Allan Fung’s lack of initiative and resolve in handling corruption, malfeasance, and inappropriate behavior in the police department, the whole state media and political apparatus seem determined to crush the man and hang him in effigy as one of the worst elected officials in the state’s history.
The Providence Journal argued that Rhode Island “dodged a bullet” not electing Fung:
It is clear now that the people of Rhode Island dodged a bullet when Cranston Mayor Allan Fung narrowly lost his run for governor last November. A State Police investigation of the Cranston Police Department paints a portrait of the soft-spoken mayor as devious, willing to condone abuses of power, and basically unconcerned about the plight of at least one citizen who felt threatened by Mr. Fung’s police chief.
What exactly did Fung do, or fail to do?
The report reveals, in its own words, “a Department in turmoil and hampered by a lack of leadership.” State Police investigators found numerous examples of officers who were “harassed and retaliated against” because they were associated with one faction in the department rather than another.
“We also found inappropriate interference, undue influence, lack of accountability, and inconsistent action from Mayor Fung, [former Chief Marco] Palombo, as well as other city officials,” the report said. “As a result of these serious issues within the Department, morale was terrible.”
The police department became a hostile work environment, with officers recording their conversations to have evidence of what was said.
“The Department is run like the Mafia,” one officer told the investigators. “You are either with them or you’re doomed.”
Wow, the Mafia! Really? I picture Allan Fung with the ghost of Raymond Patriarca whispering: “I’ll make them an offer they can’t refuse.” (Cue “Godfather” theme song)
The Providence Journal editors’ next opinion made me laugh out loud:
All this seems beyond Nixonian. Yet Mayor Fung instructed Chief Palombo, of all people, to investigate, and then did not follow up. “It defies logic to assign this investigation to the person who is being accused,” the report said, calling the mayor’s response “unconscionable.”
“Beyond Nixonian.” Perhaps the editors have some new evidence that Fung had an enemies list and operatives recording partisan opponents in a faraway hotel and that his lack of leadership meant the downfall of civilization as we know it. The Projo’s image is of a petty little man who was constantly shaking in his boots, afraid for his life and political career, ready to take down everyone and everything.
Blah, blah, blah.
In 2014, Mayor Fung came forward to the cameras and admitted a fatal mistake he made as a young driver. He owned it. As mayor, Fung has invested a private pension plan to bring Cranston out of long-term debt, and it worked. Fung was willing to work with other mayors to fight terrorism in his city. What was Lincoln Chafee doing? Running from his deeply indebted state for a non-start “Awful Awful” presidential campaign.
Let’s put all of this into perspective.
I spoke with one conservative operative in the state, and he held Fung accountable for an incompetent lack of leadership within the Cranston Police Department’s workplace culture. Yet, the idea that the state of Rhode Island “dodged a bullet” is just ridiculous, and the idea that Fung should resign in disgrace then (perhaps) sit in a jail cell just escapes my ability to explain.
Behold the Rhode Island double standard: A somewhat conservative Republican errs in judgment in an impossible union environment? Burn him at the stake. Progressive Democrat robs taxpayers and takes bribes), a slap on the wrist then a steak dinner.
Don’t stop there. Let’s review the years of malfeasance, corruption, waste, and fraud perpetrated by the Rhode Island insider political class. How about decades of Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, tied up in two felonies, including Operation Plunderdome way back in the late 1990s and early 2000s? And this guy had the chutzpah to run a third time. (Third time!)
How about the earlier RI governor who took bribes, which he reportedly lost in the trash? Rhode Island enjoyed sixteen years of reasonable leadership in the governor’s office, starting with Lincoln Almond, in response to the unconscionable spate of corruption.
Rhode Islanders dodged some bullets then and could have dodged more if the governor had more power to override an out-of-control state legislature.
How about what the state has witnessed over the last two years already? 38 Studios, anyone? (Player One, Start!)
From the ideological folly of investing state dollars with a private company to the brazen backroom corruption of the project (former speaker and now convicted felon Gordon Fox admitted his ties to the deal), Rhode Island taxpayers are on the hook for a bad loan that went “Game Over.” Mayor Fung along with civic activist Ken Block both said “no pay,” and yet the current Democratic governor and practically the same cabal of big government insiders are still in power, expecting Main Street to pay.
By the way, how many taxes did Mayor Fung raise in the city of Cranston? Nothing compared with the plunder of the Smith Hill State House. People want to live in Cranston, one of few fiscally and morally stable cities in the Ocean State.
In contrast, Central Falls, Rhode Island, went bankrupt fiscally because of morally bankrupted leaders. Providence’s “Grand Theft Auto” David Cicilline’s imposed dangerous sanctuary city policies. He and “Angel of Debt” Taveras face corruption and fraud accusations related to unfunded pension liabilities.
Yet, the Projo editorial board loses its mind over Fung’s bad oversight over the Cranston police department?
Let’s take a breath and remember: Although he clearly has failings, Fung remains way better than much of his political company in Rhode Island, and that’s just corruption, before we even get to policies.
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a blogger, writer, and commentator on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow his blogs at The State of the Union and As He Is, So Are We Ministries and on Twitter.