• author
    • Matthew Najmowicz

    • October 15, 2014 in Columnists

    Will Providence take its bad boyfriend Buddy Cianci back?

    1990's era Buddy Courtesy: Isabelle Taft AP

    1990s era Buddy
    Photo courtesy of Isabelle Taft AP

    Vincent “Buddy” Cianci. For my native Rhode Islanders it’s a name that conjures up a lot of memories and emotions. Those who don’t know who Buddy Cianci is, commonly referred to as Buddy, Buddy is a twice convicted felon and the long time mayor of Providence, Rhode Island.

    To put it in a more crude and vulgar way — Buddy Cianci is the bad-boy ex-boyfriend that you still call up at 3 in the morning to ask him what he is doing. Presumably he is with someone else who’s not you.

    You still stalk him on Facebook, Providence.

    Actually, Buddy has been pretty busy after he was let out of prison. He went right to radio and TV.  Buddy has a hefty ego and his personality, wit, and encyclopedic knowledge of Providence makes him an electric local media personality. He can be seen on TV hamming it up with local news personality trying to predict local political horse races. Also Buddy has appeared on FOX News. Wait, our Buddy appeared on FOX News?

    Hell yes, Buddy was on FOX News numerous times. Why? He is one of America’s most notorious mayors.

    Buddy started his career around 1974 and ran as an anti-corruption candidate against Democrat Joseph Doorley. The fallout from Nixon’s Watergate scandal was so bad that virtually every Republican in one form or another had to and still does run as an “anti-corruption” or “reform” candidate. Buddy Cianci was very astute in understanding the political climate of his day.


    1978 reelection Buddy
    Photo courtesy of Benoit AP

    Before Cianci started his career as a politician, he made his bones as a prosecuting attorney and was involved in the prosecution of a murder trial involving the notorious Raymond Patriarca. During the trial, Buddy caught a Catholic priest lying about Patriarca’s alibi, and that news rocked Rhode Island and most of New England.

    Raymond Patriarca was the boss of all bosses of the New England Mafia. Patriarca ran a criminal empire from a Coin-O-Matic laundromat on Federal Hill. I’ve been in that laudromat and I can still see it in my mind. It was a tiny place where there was five washing machines, three dryers, an arcade machine (the only reason I went in there as a 15 year old boy), and a tiny side room with no windows. That side room only had a folding chair, a small folding table, and a phone.

    The term for a room like that is called a front.  From that front murder, extortion, illegal gaming, drugs, guns and other criminal enterprise was run. Cianci got his conviction only to have it reversed on acquittal.

    This was the diving board into politics for Buddy Cianci.

    Cianci was mayor of Providence over 20 years. He was convicted once for beating a man sleeping with his wife with a log. He was convicted a second time under what is called a RICO statute that is primarily used to convicted organized crime figures. I suppose politics also has its share of irony.

    In 2014, Buddy Cianci was eligible to run as mayor of Providence, the capital City of Rhode Island. Let me give you a quick history lesson. On Benefit Street, which a street on the east side of Providence, there’s a place called the Old State House. From the Old State House, the Rhode Island colony was the first to tell King George to go take a hike and renounce its allegiance to the crown.

    Providence is the birthplace of American independence and rebellion. We like being a bit different.

    I suppose this is the spirit and tradition in which perhaps the Providence electorate might do the dance with Buddy Cianci one more time.

    Other people are going to list Buddy’s achievements. Some will say Buddy moved a river. Buddy had a vision for the Waterpark in downtown Providence. Buddy was able to get the gondolas in the canals of Providence. He made Roger Williams into a National Park, the smallest National Park in the Union. He made sure the garbage was picked up on time. He fixed potholes. He helped bring Providence Place Mall into existence. You could go on and on.

    Say what you want about Buddy, but Buddy had a vision and he’s a visionary. Unfortunately he also had vision of prison bars for several years in federal prison at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

    In the ’90s, Buddy Cianci oversaw a myriad of construction projects all over the city. I personally bonked my head on scaffolding surrounding the Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Providence. You could hear a loud “PING” and me cursing someone’s mother.

    Right now, there’s a three-way race for the Mayoral seat in Providence. You have former state judge Jorge Elora running as a Dem, a man named Harrop (who cheers on a bankruptcy for Providence) running as the Republican, and a twice convicted former mayor of Providence Buddy Cianci.

    So why are people considering reelecting Buddy if he is a convicted felon?  A twice convicted felon!

    The answer is simple. Buddy Cianci exemplifies “retail politics” par excellance. He’s the guy who remembers everyone’s name, goes out in public constantly, shakes hands, kisses babies, takes photos with strangers, shows up to public events, goes to festivals, and so on. Hell, I personally ran into Buddy twice and shook his hand. I knew Buddy just got out of the joint. But when you shake that man’s hand and he talks to you for a minute, electricity goes through your body.

    Meeting Buddy in person is exactly how Charlie Murphy felt the first time he met Rick James. I saw Buddy Cianci’s aura.

    Buddy is a case study of politics. Forget Bill Clinton — he’s boring compared to Vincent Cianci. Buddy’s ability as larger-than-life small city mayor is the reason why he will be elected in November.

    Hey-na.  Hey-na. Your bad-boy boyfriend is back.

    current Buddy  Courtesy: Steven Senne AP

    Current Buddy
    Photo courtesy of Steven Senne AP

    • Don’t forget his marinara. I grew up on federal hill, it was a wild place in the eighties. Find me an “honest” politician and I than I will cast stones at buddy. Awesome column, Matt.

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