Speaker Mattiello off to a rocky start

Speaker Mattiello off to a rocky start


You can tell a lot about a person by the company he keeps. In selecting Leo Skenyon as his chief of staff, Speaker Nick Mattiello poked the Rhode Island taxpayer in the eyes. How soon have we forgotten the fiasco at the R.I. Traffic Tribunal during the tenure of Mr. Skenyon, its Administrator? Apparently, being the errand boy for the party poobahs get you promoted rather than fired.
You may recall the expose done by the Providence Journal in 1998-99 that revealed incredible mismanagement by the traffic court some six years plus into Skenyon’s tenure. Court records were so woeful that they invited fraud, theft, and ticket fixing. The abysmal record-keeping made it next to impossible for the first round of auditors to pinpoint how much the state was owed in fines. The court’s computers listed $39 million in “uncollected” fines but the auditors concluded that they could not tell if such was the case or the money was, in fact, stolen.
Violators of traffic regulations often paid the fines in cash. The money was NOT counted before it went to the bank for a deposit. An employee would take the sack of cash to the bank each afternoon without any tally and deposit it in the “night box.” The bank would provide the tally the next day. This, of course, afforded the temptation to take cash out before the deposit and also invited the teller the next day to pocket the uncounted greenbacks before tallying up the deposit slip. There was no independent cash register slip linked to computers at the tribunal to act as a check on any deposit.
As many as 4000 motorists were allowed to pay fines over time, but the court did not keep track of who the motorists were or if they paid.
Adding to the party-like practices was the investigation which showed that  some judges took four-day weekends and extended vacation periods, with one judge gambling at Foxwoods more than he was present at the court, and decisions that were rendered  on appeal without any opportunity for the alleged miscreant to actually be heard.
The cat had Mr. Skenyon’s tongue during all the years he presided over  these abuses. After he got his pals in the General Assembly to give him an unprecedented 10-year term, when organizations like Operation Clean Government clamored for Mr. Skenyon to be fired, he was allowed to join the union as an administrator (albeit contrary to state practices) and thereby insulate himself from firing.
So, he held on, recently earning $109,000 with the imprimatur of then-Judge Albert DeRobbio who kept him because of his “loyalty” and who tsked-tsked away his lack of management.
Mr. Mattiello is also sending the same message that loyalty matters more than wrongdoing to his colleagues, as a shot over their heads. His disingenuous invocation that jobs and the economy have to trump such distractions as ethics reform and elimination of the master lever is ludicrous. Can he not walk and chew gum at the same time?
In effect, Rhode Island hasn’t changed one iota with the departure of Gordon Fox. In fact, the good ol’ boy network probably became worse. The only winners are Mr. Skenyon who, no doubt, will get a whopping pay increase, sending his own pension up as he continues to accommodate the insiders, and Mr. Mattiello, with his “see nothing, know nothing, hear nothing at all” sidekick.


  1. It’s so disgraceful that I’m left almost speechless! Once more the state of Rhode Island, thanks to Speaker Matiello, has earned and reinforced the negative reputation and disrespect it gets!

  2. Rhode Islanders will never learn. Keep electing liberal democrat after liberal democrat to RUIN the state, they have a proven track record of FAILURE by mismanaging the state for decades. Wake up!!!

  3. Frank Figlia,

    Many of Rhode Island Democrats are DINO’s – Democrat in name only.
    I know one of my neighbors who was running for the assembly SAID he was a Republican- but knew he could not win as one in Woonsocket and ran as a Democrat. Both representatives Baldelli-Hunt and Jon Brien of Woonsocket, ( DINO’s) were members of ALEC- The KOCH bros right wing group.

    Get you info right.