Former Providence mayor and recovering RICOnaut Buddy Cianci appeared at the Ford Hall Forum Thursday night to flog his book Politics and Pasta: How I Prosecuted Mobsters, Rebuilt a Dying City, Dined with Sinatra, Spent Five Years in a Federally-Funded Gated Community, and Lived to Tell the Tale – and he was his usual rambunctious self.
From the Buddypalooza (not all quotes verbatim, but accurate nonetheless):
• The two security guards (vanity has its accoutrements) who preceded Buddy into the C. Walsh Theater at Suffolk University clearly were in charge of the pasta eating
• Buddy: “This is one of the few free speeches I’ve given. They called me and said Do you believe in free speech and I said Yes and they said Good, you’re giving one”
• Buddy’s book is “not a rebuttal” to Mike Stanton’s teardown biography The Prince of Providence
• Buddy’s mayoral time featured three stages: 1) social worker (“I ran as a Republican, which in Providence at that time was like being the Ayatollah at an American Legion convention”); 2) risk taker (“So we changed the course of the three rivers that run through Providence”); and 3) enterpreneur (“That opened up new land that we could develop”)
• Buddy resisted razing old buildings (“Unlike some cities whose initials are Hartford and New Haven”) and promoted historic preservation
• Buddy also promoted an arts district where artists could live and pay no sales tax on their work or state income taxes (“How many artists do you know that pay income taxes?”)
• Buddy almost became Ambassador to the Dominican Republic (he rejected Costa Rica, then Rhode Island Sen. John Chafee (R-Ingrate) rejected Buddy, even though Buddy had stepped aside to let Chafee become Rhode Island Sen.)
• What Buddy left out of his book: tussles with the city council and with labor unions, such as his dustup with the garbage collectors in Providence. They had four men on a garbage truck (“It takes two men to go into outer space – a garbage truck needs four?”) and he reduced it to three. So the garbagemen started throwing the trash in the streets, whereupon Buddy farmed garbage collection out to a private company (“They had four on a truck – one was a policeman with a shotgun (but no ammo)”)
• Buddy was promptly declared an expert on privatization (“They brought me to Windsor Castle to talk to the British government”)
• As for his legal problems, Buddy “would rather have the Mob after me than the federal government. They convicted me of conspiracy to commit a crime that I wasn’t convicted of committing”)
There was lots more, but maybe it’s best to let that stand as the last word, eh Buddy?