Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 06-06-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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14 OPINION JUNE 6-12, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER | SMITHFIELD SCITUATE FOSTER GLOCESTER EDITION On May 21, 2019, the Ethics Commission issued an informal resolution and settlement by imposing a civil fine of $250 on Lt. Gov. and former Cumber- land Mayor Daniel McKee. The fine itself was a slap on the wrist. McKee not only omitted his $3,500 trip to Taiwan in 2017 on his Ethics Disclosure form but also omitted two other 2017 trips, i.e. to San Diego and Philadelphia, paid by outside entities. He received no penalty for these omissions under the settlement. Nonetheless, according to Mr. McKee, he was told by Ethics Chair Ross Cheit that even if you correct an error, it is still a violation of the ethics code. While the lieutenant gover - nor jawboned unfavorably about this interpretation, he is dead wrong. Cheit and the commission finally have gotten it right. Putting aside a moment the so-called inadvertent mistake of omitting three trips on a disclosure form during an election year (forms were due in 2018), I think that the commis - sion must insist on accurate disclosure to prevent such a cat and mouse game of "hiding the acorn under the cup" until an election is over. More importantly, any other interpretation encourages public officials to hide "bennies" given to them on the hope and expectation that the failure to disclose them may never be discovered. In the case of McKee, his failure was only discovered because he went on a repeat trip to Taiwan along with a couple of public figures who had disclosed the earlier ven - ture. To adopt the stance taken by the McKee, i.e. that there is no incentive to cor- rect an unintentional error by such an interpretation would, in effect, precipi- tate a waiting game. Once caught, the politician would get a "pass" by amending his/her form after discov- ery but before the hearing. In fact, McKee amended his disclosure form after his trip became public and a Republican operative announced that he was going to file a complaint on the day before the instant complaint was filed. The lieutenant governor went on to state to the media that Mr. Cheit's in- terpretation would lead to many politically motivated complaints being filed. So what! The onus is on the public person to do the right thing. Who else but a political opponent pays attention to such matters? When I ran for attorney general my opponent's campaign scoured for any "nugget" to deter my elec- tion and vice versa. That's what the public expects and relies on. In any event, even if a mistake were to happen, he/she shouldn't be in of- fice if they can't remember benefits conferred on them during the year. Further, it is nothing but specula- tion to assume any fine, even a nominal one, were a candidate or public official to correct the record before it was flushed out. Commis - sion members aren't stupid. They have the ability to separate the chaff from the wheat. This position of insisting on accurate filings is a small step. Now, if only the Ethics Commission would join the majority of states by posting the disclosure forms online. Mr. Cheit balked but after the gover - nor and Mayor Allan Fung rebuked him and House Speaker Nick Mattiello in- troduced legislation requir- ing the posting, he relent- ed. So, post the disclosures, already! Violet is an attorney and for- mer state attorney general. Ethics panel right to fine McKee Last month, I took my first visit to the beaches of Normandy, France, where 75 years ago the gates of hell were thrown open and our best and bravest American boys poured through them. I was stroll- ing with my wife, Carol, through the cemetery above Omaha Beach – officially the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. Here we were, among thousands of blazing white grave markers on a warm, sunny day. Beneath each was a young man whose life had been cut short – 9,388 in all – many on that raw morning: D-Day, June 6, 1944. I was struck again by the very same thought I had a few years earlier in my first visit to Pearl Harbor. In the memorial atop the sunken Battleship Arizona, and again on the bluffs overlooking Omaha Beach, the birds were chirping and it was mostly silent. All you could hear were muffled, far-off conversations on the cool breezes. In each now-beautiful spot, world history had been writ large for what was really just two brief moments in time, no more than a few hours long. The attack on Pearl Harbor lasted perhaps three hours, and was soon over, except for survivors trying to save the poor souls in the water and inside sunken ships. At the beaches of northern France, the first few waves of men stormed ashore at dawn against heavily armed defenders. It, too, was over soon. But in those few hours, about 3,600 Americans had been slaugh- tered on that blood-soaked beach. The visit also got me wondering: How is Richard Fazzio doing? It was five years ago I sat with him in his kitchen and recalled the day he steered his Higgins Boat onto Omaha Beach, the first wave of an invasion force the likes of which the world had never seen before. Despite the armada's size, though, the men in the first wave had to run straight into the fire of Nazi machine guns – that is, if they didn't drown in the sea first. And with a front row seat as coxswain, dropping his men into the waves, was 19-year-old Richard Fazzio, a Woonsocket kid. He was shot in the arm as he waved the last soldiers from his boat. If you want to re- read his story from 2014, you can find it online near this column at valleybreeze. com, under "Opinion." I knew Richard was doing OK. He had been put on a restored Higgins Boat for the Autumnfest Parade in Woonsocket last year, and our friend Gene Peloquin, reminded me he was well. I thought I'd get a fresh photo, and so called him at his new home, but he didn't answer. He lives with his granddaughter, Kelli, now, and her husband, Danny Legendre, in a modest apartment in their raised ranch. He loves it there. After some time, Fazzio called me back, apologetic. He had been out mow- ing the lawn – with a push mower – at age 94. (Yes, I think he's OK). When I visited Sunday, he told me "I didn't get to be 94 by sitting on my ass." Spoken like a true hero. He never really thought much of that tragic day in years past, but since the 50th anniversary back in 1994, historians came ask- ing. Today, he's still proud of his commendation, dated 3 July 1944. "Your determination to complete the assault, despite personal safety, was in keeping with the highest traditions of the offensive spirit of the United States Naval Service," it said in part. Well done, Mr. Fazzio. I'll see you soon, and again in five years. Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze. Hell for 3 hours From the Publisher TOM WARD Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET FAZZIO Founded in 1956 by The Burgess Family Volume LXIV, Number 14 June 6, 2019 valleybreeze.com @ Observer THE VALLEY BREEZE & ABOUT US The Valley Breeze Newspapers are a locally owned and operated group of free weekly newspa- pers serving the people of Cumberland, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Woonsocket, Smithfield, Scituate, Foster, Glocester, North Providence, Pawtucket, R.I., and Blackstone, Mass. Each Thursday, 58,500+ copies are distributed to retailers, banks, offices, and restaurants and other busy spots. Circulation is audited by the Circulation Verification Council of St. Louis, Mo. and has earned its "Gold Standard Award." OUR MISSION It is the Mission of The Valley Breeze to facilitate a positive sense of community among the res- idents of Northern Rhode Island by providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas, and to provide information of local events and neighbors. It is our further Mission to provide the highest quality advertising at the lowest possible cost to retailers, professionals, tradespersons, and other service providers in order to enhance the economic well-being of our community. Thomas V. Ward, Publisher tward@valleybreeze.com James Quinn, Deputy Publisher jquinn@valleybreeze.com Ethan Shorey, Managing Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com Barbara Phinney, Controller accounting@valleybreeze.com

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