The Pedro Million Shows the Worst of RI

Packs of cash

It was hard to read the news that broke on Uprise RI about chiropractor Victor Pedro getting $1 million in the State budget for an unproven medical treatment, at the same time the Speaker was talking about the tough choices that had to be made, and the many good programs that had to be cut. As Uprise’s Steve Ahlquist pointed out, that money could’ve supported housing vouchers (and secured an additional $2.7 million in federal funds), support for the Nonviolence Institute, lead prevention, childcare, and a host of other worthy projects.

Worse is that Pedro walked off with something to the tune of $1.88 million in previous state spending (as reported by the team at WPRI 12) since 2004. Which means this story could’ve been reported and covered, and possibly stopped, long ago. It wasn’t like this was hidden, it was fairly openly written down in a House briefing. Ahlquist just asked the question: “what’s cortical integrated therapy?” And then followed up.

But as you keep picking at this story, it gets worse. A Victor Pedro has given to Mattiello certainly, and Lt. Governor Dan McKee (who defended Pedro after news broke about the million), and other Democratic notables like Frank Caprio (the former Treasurer of “shove it” fame) and Steven Costantino (former House Finance Committee Chair). More alarming are donations to former Rep. John McCauley, Jr. (sentenced to 27 months in prison for tax fraud) and former Rep. Peter Palumbo (who had ran an unethical bidding scheme for state beach concession contracts with ex-Chair of the State Democratic Party David Caprio). But that’s all explainable by Victor Pedro being the Democratic State Committeeman for House District 30 in East Greenwich, the town where he lives.

What’s inexplicable, or outrageous, is that Pedro donated twice to the Republican representing District 30, Antonio Giarusso. I’ve never been a State Committeman on behalf of a district for a political party, but I’m reasonably sure you do not give money to the other party’s candidate. Especially when your party has a candidate.

It’s hard to look at this, to look at Pedro and his donations, who he’s given to, to look at Mattiello, the actions of the State Democratic Party in the last primary, the struggle simply to enshrine in law the status quo (and plank of the state Democratic Party’s platform) and not come to the conclusion that Mattiello, Pedro, and their ilk don’t give a flying fig about “Democratic values.” No, for them, it seems to be about power and profit.

Rhode Island deserves better legislators. We deserve a better Democratic Party. We deserve more people who actually care about the state, and the people who live in it, and not just themselves.

Imagine that. Imagine a General Assembly filled with more people who genuinely cared about passing effective legislation and not just avoiding controversies to make it through another two years. Imagine a Providence Journal owned by people who cared about it, with editorials from people who actually had empathy for the people who live here. Imagine a business community that cared more about the well-being of the people of this state than how much they could milk from its government.

All the forces of the establishment are arrayed against ensuring that we don’t have that.

I don’t have a positive ending for you. Find the good in your life, the good legislator or bureaucrat or business person who you know treats their community well, and thank them, and tell them to keep doing their best, even when those around them are not.

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