The Done Deal

The Done Deal

On May 16, 1988, Paul Valliere, the finance director of the Department of Employment Security, picked up a memo he had been working on and walked to what he thought was a meeting with his boss, John S. Renza, and other department staffers.

The department and its 300 employees were about to be forced out of their building on West Exchange Street in downtown Providence, and Valliere had been asked to provide details about what the department would need in a new building.

Entering his boss's conference room, Valliere was surprised to find Renza there with two strangers.

Renza introduced them: Joseph Mollicone Jr., the president of the Heritage Loan and Investment Co. and a major downtown developer, and Rodney M. Brusini, who worked in then-Gov. Edward D. DiPrete's family business and had served as DiPrete's chief campaign fund-raiser.

Valliere didn't know why they were there.

Renza told Valliere to hand out copies of his memo. Brusini asked most of the questions - about space needs, parking, and the like. As the meeting broke up, Valliere says, Renza turned to him and said: " 'Paul, I'd like you to keep this meeting confidential.' "

Until that meeting, Valliere hadn't thought much about state leases, or about the closed circle of money, influence and political power that runs Rhode Island's government.

But over the next few months, Valliere would think about it plenty....

A Rhode Island Life

A Rhode Island Life

...If Mollicone's life were a play, all of Rhode Island would be the stage and the supporting cast would include the prominent names and institutions that have influenced the state's public life.

It's a rich cast of mayors, mobsters and governor's men, union bosses, lawyers, doctors, bureaucrats, senators, bookies, bankers and thieves.

All it lacks is a hero....

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Critics say politics plague contract award system; price tag for taxpayers climbing past $200 million

Critics say politics plague contract award system; price tag for taxpayers climbing past $200 million

...Frederick Lippitt, DiPrete's administration director from September 1985 until January 1989, says DiPrete himself decided which architects, engineers and construction managers the PBA would hire. Lippitt says he found it odd that a governor with no training in architecture or construction would choose the companies for millions of dollars worth of contracts.

"It was made clear that this was the process," he says.

Authority member Greco agrees. He says DiPrete's aides would tell Selections Committee members which firm the governor wanted. The firm would be included in the list of three companies sent to the administration director - who then would choose DiPrete's choice.

DiPrete says he instituted the system because he wanted a committee with the expertise to evaluate construction proposals. The process, he says, "put the selection process under uniform standards" for all of state government.

But DiPrete disputes Lippitt's characterization of the way the process worked. He says he occasionally made recommendations to Lippitt about which companies to hire but that Lippitt was free to reject them.

"The object was to allow as many qualified firms to be a part of the process as possible," DiPrete says.

He says he did not include his role in the procedures that govern the new selection system because he was only overseeing the process.

"It would be a false and quantum leap to say that oversight indicated my trying to give orders to the director of administration," he says....

State building's cost grew and grew

State building's cost grew and grew

...It started modestly but grew into the PBA's most expensive completed undertaking to date. And it illustrates the authority's approach to spending public money, and the problems that can arise under a system known as construction management....

Firm with higher fee snags prison contract

Firm with higher fee snags prison contract

...At the PBA meeting on May 3, Whitford tried to make Greco understand the marriage between politics and the PBA's hiring decisions.

"Just to make an observation," Whitford says, according to the tape, "if we want to do what you want to do, Ralph, we've got to do everything with total disregard for politics in the state of Rhode Island."

"Absolutely," Greco replies.

"Everything?" Whitford asks.

"Absolutely."

"Everything, do everything from square one?" Whitford asks. "The people that come through the door, that are hired here?"

"Absolutely. I don't think there should be any politics about it. Absolutely."

". . . In my five years," says Whitford. "I haven't seen it happen...."

DET lease set off probe

DET lease set off probe

WARWICK --- A statewide grand jury this morning handed up a sweeping criminal indictment of former Gov. Edward D. DiPrete and his son, Dennis, charging them with running DiPrete's 1990 campaign as a racketeering enterprise, extorting bribes in exchange for a wide range of state contracts.

The 24-count indictment says the former governor, 59, and his 35-year-old son accepted more than $294,000 in bribes for state contracts on projects ranging from the construction of a library addition at the University of Rhode Island to a lease for an office headquarters for the state Department of Employment and Training....