Buddy Cianci Charms 'Em at Cafe Milano

Former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci with Jim Kimsey, AOL co-founder, and lobbyist Tommy Quinn of Venable.
Robert Devaney
Former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci with Jim Kimsey, AOL co-founder, and lobbyist Tommy Quinn of Venable.

It seems that people cannot fail to be charmed by former Providence, R.I. mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci, who held court at Cafe Milano, March 22, as guest of Bill Shields of the National Low Income Housing Coalition and Thomas Quinn, top lobbyist at Venable Partners. Cianci is on a book tour for his memoir, "Politics and Pasta: How I Prosecuted Mobsters, Rebuilt a Dying City, Advised a President, Dined with Sinatra, Spent Five Years in a Federally Funded Gated Community, and Lived to Tell the Tale."

Shields, one of D.C.'s "Rhode Islanders in exile", introduced the longest-serving mayor of Providence, who ended his first term (1975 to 1984) after pleading no contest to assault of his wife's alleged boyfriend with a lit cigarette, an ashtray and a fireplace log—and his second term (1991 to 2002) after being found guilty on one charge of racketeering. He was acquitted on 26 other charges brought by the feds' "Operation Plunder Dome."

"I thought I got railroaded," said Cianci, who is credited with cleaning up and revitalizing Providence (even making appearances on the TV show of the same name). The radio talk show host and unapologetic "two-timing mayor" spoke like an updated combo of New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and comedians Henny Youngman and Jerry Seinfeld.

"So, CIA Director Bill Casey is at the airport and asked me 'Who are you?' And I said, 'Aren't you supposed to be the head of the CIA?' "

"Sinatra called" about getting his mother's doctor's son into Brown University and wanted an answer before his second show of the night. "So, I called the president of Brown. He wasn't home. So, I sent the cops to find him."

One of Cianci's nephews was on the waiting list at Brown, which needed zoning approval for construction of a hyperbolic paraboloid. So, the mayor got the zoning commissioner to "put it on the waiting list." "I heard there was a hyperbolic paraboloid in Georgetown." (Yes, it is called Yates Field House.)

Taking advantage of five years in prison in Fort Dix, N.J., Cianci read a lot of books. "Don't let the time do you—you do the time...And don't change the BET channel."

Sounds like reading "Politics and Pasta" will be time well done.

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Sat, 25 Oct 2014 03:47:10 -0400

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