Councilor Lynch takes heat for event at Joe the Barber's house

Councilor Lynch takes heat for event at Joe the Barber's house

NORTH PROVIDENCE - A campaign fundraiser held at Joe "The Barber" Muschiano's house on Monday is not sitting well with some politicians in town, who say having the event there smacks of hypocrisy.

The location for the event, to benefit Town Councilor John Lynch, was an "inappropriate one," says Town Councilor Manny Giusti, given Muschiano's past issues with the law and Lynch's position on the Financial Audit Committee, the board charged with upholding high standards of behavior among local elected officials and town employees.

But Lynch is making no apologies, saying he has every right to hold a fundraiser at Muschiano's house if he wishes. He blasted questions about the $50-a-head event, saying he recalls there was an issue in Muschiano's past, but the man wasn't convicted of anything.

"It's kind of sad, kind of pathetic" that his political opponents are questioning him, said Lynch, when he says they have so many of their own issues to worry about.

Giusti said he got an invitation to the event and immediately questioned it.

"Why would you hold something at a place like that?" he said. "It's just not appropriate, I don't think so anyway."

The Financial Audit Committee Lynch is a part of is charged with reviewing complaints made through the town's new whistleblower system, said Giusti, and its members should be setting an example.

Mayor Charles Lombardi, who counts Giusti an ally, also questioned why Lynch would participate in the event given his position on the Financial Audit Committee.

"I'm sure Mr. Lynch has the right to a fundraiser," he said. "As to where he has it, he'll be the person who will have to answer for it."

Giusti said he believes Lynch is being "hypocritical" for holding a campaign event at home of someone who, though not convicted of a felony, chose not to contest the charges in a court of law in exchange for a clean record.

"We just got over a nasty thing," said Giusti, referring to the 2010 corruption scandal involving three former councilman. "Now this, you know what I mean?"

Lynch said Giusti and Lombardi seem "afraid" of the whistleblower system, and he doesn't know why since it was formed as a requirement of the auditor general's office.

"If there's smoke there has to be a fire if he's that afraid," he said.

"It's kind of funny" that Giusti and Lombardi would have a problem with Joe the Barber, said Lynch, when they have favored keeping Maria Vallee in her town finance job after she illegally obtained federal loans.

"Charlie Lombardi is the Chris Christie of North Providence," he said. "He's a mean person, totally out of control. Every time you turn around, he's doing something else."

Lombardi wasn't willing to discuss Vallee Monday, saying simply, "that's old news."

Muschiano says he takes issue with those who would question holding a fundraiser at his house. He was especially angry that it would be Giusti, since the councilman was around in 2010 when all the backroom deals were being done.

Muschiano, 75, a longtime political operative who owns a barbershop in Pawtucket, pleaded "no contest" back in 2005 to obtaining money under false pretenses. A regular writer to newspapers and caller to talk radio, he has been vocal in his support of a political alliance that includes Lynch and Town Council President Kristen Catanzaro.

Two other council members, Dino Autiello and Bill Warren, said they were planning to attend Monday's event and were not previously aware of any issues in Muschiano's past. Neither one had an issue with Lynch having the fundraiser at his house.

"Any way he decides to hold it, I support it," said Warren.

Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio and State Rep. Arthur Corvese were also scheduled to be at the event, according to the invitation.

Muschiano told The Breeze he "used to like Charlie," but he now believes the mayor to be a "vicious animal" who will stop at nothing to make his opponents look bad.

"Watch out, if no one else is running against Charlie Lombardi the next time, Joe the Barber is running," he said.

A Providence Journal story from October of 2005 offers details on Muschiano's case. He was accused of claiming a false 35-hour work week in his job as a substance abuse coordinator with the state. According to the story, State Police detectives followed Muschiano as he ran errands during the day. He reported to work for a total of two hours and 21 minutes over a five-day workweek.

Muschiano claims that the investigation against him was a "political" move by those who didn't like him. He still maintains that he was working long hours on nights and weekends to help those with substance abuse problems, and therefore did nothing wrong by claiming a 35-hour workweek.


Mr Lynch needs to "check it" at the door and realize that even a hint of anything resembling unethical behavior after how the town has been disgraced in the past is just flat out wrong. Another councilman ready to sell out the taxpayers for a $50 dollar bill - how pathetic is this guy - wake up North Providence this is what you voted into office.
Where do we find these people - committed to serving the people when they want your vote but self focused and absorbed when they are elected and "think" they have some power.

Sure if Lynch is part of the committee that reviews the Whistle-blower system he should hold himself to a higher standard and hold fund-raisers at less-controversial venues.

But to hear Charlie question anyone else's ethics is hypocrisy to a whole new level. Once Charlie supported Maria Vallee keeping her finance job after committing financial fraud - his credibility vanished. So Charlie let's keep the complaining about ethics to those that have them.

And lastly do all of these town representatives know how awful they look arguing with each other like they were 6 years old in the local newspaper? Grow up! You represent the town. Start acting like it.

John Lynch has more on the ball than most in NP. He represents the people of NP for their best interests and as part of the new deal of council members has straightened out much of the mess left by Charlie and past councils.
The real problem with ethics starts by looking at who was in office in the early 2000's up to the current council. There lies the problems we continue to face as some are still active either as the mayor and the council. I can't agree with Charlie that Vallee is old news, she is one of the ethics problems that is openly allowed to continue to work in the NP administration. What is the saying, "watch out for those who cast stones at others as they are the one's that have the problems". No the real problems are the people that created the ethic problems in NP and some of them are still active in political positions.