For years, wagging tongues have referred to Rhode Island’s Capitol TV as the tiny states very own Pravda, the infamous Russian News Agency that offered distorted, self indulgent views of Brezhnev era appartchiks as noble warriors on the front lines of building Soviet Worker’s Paradise. In it’s own Monty Python-esque fashion, Capital TV would elevate an obscure back-bencher to Herculean status, touting the efforts it took to rise from the mean streets of Silver Lake to the glory of the Rhode Island House Finance Committee.

But when do the caricatures of long forgotten political coat hangers rise from the unintentionally humorous to that of the unethical?

Witness this past weeks effort by Rhode Island DOT Head Honcho Peter Alviti, Jr.  When one (somehow) gets past the turgid prose, the obsequious praise, does his effort at co broadcasting with the Construction Industries For Rhode Island their unwavering, courageous support of Rhode Island Bond Issue 4, a 71,700.00 expenditure for Highways rise from yet another exercise of a failed mutual political admiration society to the misuse of State Assets to promote a private enterprise?

The combination of the presence of LIUNA Business Manager Michael Sabitoni, coupled with the absence of any reasoned opposition, to yet another budget buster would certainly say so. An early supporter of the Raimondo Regime, when most Unions would have nothing to do with a Post-Pension Reform Gina, Sabitoni is ubiquitous in the Halls of Rhode Island Government. The sole Union represented on Lt Gov Dan McKee’s transition team, his presence has literally turned a significant portion of the Rhode Island Budget into a LIUNA jobs bill. Stadiums? Yup. Highways? Yup. Track & Field Storage Shed at Bristol’s Mt Hope High? Probably (J/K) Add Stephen A Cardi, of well,  Cardi Everything (And CEO of Construction Industries For Rhode Island) to the mix? It’s a veritable advertisement for the Rhode Island Construction Industry.

What’s missing?

Opposition. Of any sort.

Does Capitol TV have a responsibility to provide a forum for opposition to the Bond Issue? Should private industry be promoted by Government Media? Does this “Infomercial” effectively place the imprimatur of Rhode Island Government on what is essentially an act of self promotion? Equally concerning? This event was broadcast on a Zoom teleconference via the account of Construction Industries For Rhode Island. Does the presence of this panoply of Rhode Island Officials/Representatives represent a conflict of interest?

The following email was sent to Capitol TV General Manager Derek Hayes:

“Mr. Hayes:

With great concern I submit the following questions regarding the attached Capitol TV Presentation:

Do you consider this presentation within the Mission of Capitol Television, as it represents the clear promotion of private corporations, and their desired goal of additional State of Rhode Island Contracts?

Was any Capital TV “Time” offered to parties in opposition to this Bond Issue?

Are there any regulations resembling a “Fairness Doctrine” in the operating guidelines to Capitol TV? Are there printed guidelines to the operations of Capitol TV?

Please retain this video and all documentation attached, as this may become important to a Rhode Island Ethics complaint

Regards”

Rhode Islanders … Civil Libertarians … What Do You Think?

 

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