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Senate committee approves Charles Ruggerio for Narragansett Bay Commission



“Any suspicion that this is a conspiracy that has something to do with the potential acquisition of the Providence Water Supply Board and our discussions as such, is a complete fabrication,” said former state Representative Vincent Mesolella, who serves as the chair of the Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC). “It is strictly coincidental that this matter is being heard simultaneously to this legislation.”

Mesolella said he had never before appeared before a Senate committee to speak in favor of an appointment, but he felt it “appropriate because of an article that appeared in the Providence Journal front page.”

That article was written by Providence Journal political writer Katherine Gregg. She noted that on the same day the Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture was hearing a bill to allow the Narragansett Bay Commission to acquire water systems such as the Scituate Reservoir, the committee was voting to confirm Governor Gina Raimondo‘s appointment of Attorney Charles Ruggerio, son of Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, to the NBC.

Charges of nepotism are hard to refute when Mesalillo says thing like, “I have known Charles since he was a young boy. I know his entire family,” but the bigger charge is that Charles Ruggerio’s new position on the Narraganset Bay Commission will help the City of Providence to sell its water to prevent bankruptcy.

Charles Ruggerio told the Senate Committee that he was “particularly interested” in working at the Narragansett Bay Commission because representing employees at the there from 2006 to 2012 gave him “an enormous amount of respect for the organization, the people that work there and the vital work that they do.”

Central Falls Police Chief Colonel James Mendoca and Attorney Aubrey Lombardo spoke on behalf of Charles Ruggerio.

In what seemed an unusual event, Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey (Democrat, District 29, Warwick) and Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (Democrat, District 1, Providence), who sit on all Senate Committees ex officio, participated in the vote to confirm Charles Ruggerio. They left before the committee took up discussion of the bill.

The vote to confirm Ruggerio was unanimous.

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The idea that Governor Raimondo might stock a board with people to achieve a specific outcome is not new. See here for articles from late last year about Gina Raimondo’s nomination of Jennifer Cervenka to the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC).

See also: Unraveling Providence Water no sure bet for Providence solvency issues

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.