Dollar Bill in the 'Hood

While it's possible that federal prosecutors are trying to shake the trees with last week's revelation that seven Rhode Island politicians and an equal number of corporate entities are under scrutiny, the investigation of State House influence-peddling has clearly moved into a higher gear. The ProJo's Mike Stanton had a good recap yesterday.

As the reigning auteur of Providence corruption, Stanton has a keen eye for how the Ocean State's tiny scale influences the situation:

[US Attorney Robert Clark] Corrente understands the coziness of Rhode Island. He was born in North Providence, the home base of Celona and Montalbano, and lives in East Greenwich, down the street from Jack Kramer, the [indicted] CVS executive.

Similarly, in The Prince of Providence, Stanton wrote:

In Providence there was a thin line between crime and comedy. One of the details about the University Club saga that emerged from the testimony was Cianci's anger at having been the butt of jokes at the club's Christmas party. In a letter of apology, the club's leaders blamed the "guest comedian." The comedian, Charlie Hall, was in the courtroom, covering the trial as the sketch artist for local television stations . . .

"We're incestuous," quipped Hall. "And I mean that in the nicest possible way. The state is just one big, smoky back room."

While the state's coziness certainly has positive effects, it sure seems like a contributor to the ongoing problem with corruption.

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