Wanderlust…

The International Reporting (and Life) Adventures of Vivian Salama

Now Free to Speak His Mind, an Ex-Mayor Is Doing So

Posted by vmsalama on April 28, 2008

Published: April 28, 2008
NEW YORK TIMES

Inmate No. 05000-070 bided his time. He worked in the prison library. He stood in the prison lines. He kept his nose clean and his mouth shut. And he waited. For four and a half years.

Locked in a federal prison far from home, he scoured week-old newspapers sent from Providence. He needed to know what was going on because he is Vincent A. Cianci Jr., its former mayor, its “Buddy.” Guess what: He did not care for how his successor portrayed the Cianci administration: bad, corrupt, the past.

He felt like a caged tiger being taunted by a kid with a stick. But he tried to obey the prison credo to do your time and not let the time do you. And he waited. “I took my medicine,” he says. “I took it like a man.”

Back in Rhode Island, people wondered whether Mr. Cianci would be sufficiently shamed to avoid the public stage upon his release, and whether the state was sufficiently weary of him. But in 2006, the Providence Preservation Society inducted the still-incarcerated Mr. Cianci into its Hall of Fame. He sent his regrets, writing that he would not be able to attend because he was “figuratively and literally ‘tied up.’ ”

Mr. Cianci read from prison that his successor, Mayor David N. Cicilline, was not amused, though the mayor had not said so publicly. “I just ignored it,” Mr. Cianci says, although he clearly had not. He waited some more.

When freedom came last summer, Mr. Cianci returned to a different Providence. He seemed different too: older, thinner, and without that toupee he now called “the squirrel.”

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