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Cianci on the Today Show (posted June 6, 2002)
On June 5, 2002, the NBC Today Show broadcast the following segment:
(c) Copyright 2002, National Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
KATIE COURIC, co-host: On Tuesday, a federal judge in Providence, Rhode
Island, dismissed five charges against Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci after
six weeks of a federal corruption trial. Cianci still faces serious legal
accusations, but as NBC's Bob Faw found out, a lot of Providence still gets
its kicks out of the buddy system.
Mr. CHARLIE HALL (Comedian): (Singing) "Look at me, I'm Buddy C. Big deal,
they've indicted me."
BOB FAW REPORTING:
Comedian Charlie Hall is having a field day with Vincent "Buddy" Cianci. But
for America's longest serving mayor, it is no laughing matter. He's charged
with 12 counts of racketeering, mail fraud, bribery and extortion, part of
what prosecutors call "Operation Plunder Dome."
Mr. DARRELL WEST (Brown University): It's really alleging deeply rooted
corruption throughout Providence City Hall.
Mr. VINCENT "BUDDY" CIANCI: I didn't do anything wrong.
FAW: Though the mayor has pleaded not guilty, his handpicked police chief
has testified he fixed promotional exams for fellow officers.
Mr. CIANCI: It's nothing but lies, it's allegations, and I'm not involved.
Mr. EDWARD ACHORN (Providence Journal): There clearly is a culture of
corruption here. It's accepted. It's expected.
FAW: The government says the exclusive University Club here shows how
politics really works in Buddy Cianci's Providence, that after the club
blocked his bid for membership nearly 30 years ago, Cianci repeatedly
blocked the club's request for building permits and gave way only when the
club capitulated and made him an honorary member. His admirers say that's
just Buddy playing hard ball.
Mr. HALL: Was he busting their chops? You bet he was. That is Buddy Cianci.
That's the way he runs the city. That's the way he is.
FAW: In Providence, that two-fisted approach is applauded when Cianci
appears on the Imus in the Morning program...
Mr. IMUS ("Imus on MSNBC"): When I saw you, is that your hair had turned
Mr. CIANCI: Well, we--we...
Mr. IMUS: And then I...
Mr. CIANCI: I can change that anytime I want, Imus.
FAW: In the store where for the last 43 years they've sold imported cheeses,
fancy cold cuts and almost 60 varieties of olive oil, including the mayor's
own--yes, that's his picture.
And the mayor's is--it sells, but not so--not so great.
Unidentified Store Keeper: Well, not a big seller, no.
FAW: Tony Dechico and his staff still stand by the mayor.
Mr. TONY DECHICO (Store Owner): They're all allegations and I don't have
nothing against him. I think he's a good person.
FAW: In fact, in his recent poll, Brown University political scientist
Darrell West found two-thirds of the city gave the mayor thumb's up.
Mr. WEST: It's basically the Mussolini effect. As long as the trains run on
time, in our case, the city looks beautiful, prosperity has really returned
to this area, people tolerate a certain amount of bad behavior.
FAW: And a mayor so colorful, Rhode Island's irreverent comedian always has
Mr. HALL: (Singing) "And as for any scandal, well, that I can handle. I'm
like herpes, I won't go away."
FAW: The real mayor, under a gag order not to discuss the trial, still keeps
up a dizzying schedule and denies that the indictments had given a black eye
to his city.
Mr. CIANCI: City of Providence, just through all this, became the eighth
best city in America--not the eighth, one of the top eight cities to retire
in, one of the top five in America to live in.
FAW: Even as critics concede, convincing a jury in this town that Cianci
orchestrated all that city hall funny business won't be easy.
Unidentified Man: It's almost like people treat it like it's their monthly
cable bill. I mean, they--they get some entertainment out of it, it's worth
the extra cost.
FAW: In fact, in this town, they are still singing about the mayor, and so
far, it doesn't sound much like the blues.
Mr. HALL: (Singing) "Hey, how could I take money with a rug that's this
FAW: For TODAY, Bob Faw, NBC News, Providence.
COURIC: It's 7:20. We'll be back in a moment. This is TODAY on NBC.