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Biography David Cicilline

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David Cicilline David Cicilline
David Cicilline
the U.S. Representative for Rhode Island's 1st congressional district, serving since 2011.


David Cicilline Biography



David Nicola Cicilline (born July 15, 1961) is the U.S. Representative for Rhode Island's 1st congressional district. He is a member of the Democratic Party. He is formerly the Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, and was the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. state capital.


Early life, education, and career

Cicilline was born July 15, 1961 in Providence. His mother, Sabra (née Peskin), was Jewish, and his father, John Francis "Jack" Cicilline, was Italian American. His father is a prominent attorney in Providence who defended local Mafia figures in the 1970s and 1980s and was an aide to Mayor Joseph A. Doorley.

He was raised in Providence before moving to Narragansett. In high school, he served as president of his graduating class before heading to Brown University, where he established a branch of the College Democrats with his classmate, John F. Kennedy Jr. He took a degree in political science, graduating magna cum laude in 1983. He then went to Georgetown University Law Center where he earned a J.D., remaining in Washington, D.C. for a while to work for the Public Defender Service.

Early political career

Cicilline worked as a lawyer before running for the legislature. He ran for the Rhode Island Senate in 1992 against incumbent senator Rhoda Perry but lost the Democratic primary. Two years later, he was elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives, representing the 4th district on Providence's East Side. He won the Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Linda J. Kushner with 56% of the vote and was unopposed in the general election. He took office in January 1995 and served a total of four terms in the legislature, during which time he came out as a gay man.

Mayor of Providence


Cicilline was elected in a landslide in November 2002 with 84% of the vote, following the downfall of controversial mayor Vincent Cianci and the aftermath of Operation Plunder Dome. He succeeded acting mayor John J. Lombardi, who served out Cianci's term and decided not to run in the following election. In 2006, Cicilline won an easy re-election with 83 percent of the vote. Brown University's survey in September 2007 found that 64 percent of state residents approved of the job Cicilline was doing in Providence. By February 2008, that number had dropped to 51 percent. And in September 2008, his popularity fell to 46 percent. In December 2011, a Brown University poll found Cicilline's approval rating was 24.3%.


Providence has experienced a significant drop in crime, attributed by some to community policing. As of 2007, Providence saw its lowest crime rate in 30 years, contrary to national trends. The city has eliminated 14 percent of management positions, dropped to 17th in the state for per-capita tax and received an "A" bond rating from all three major bond-rating agencies.


He was 2008 President of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors. As mayor, Cicilline is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, a bi-partisan group with a stated goal of "making the public safer by getting illegal guns off the streets." The Coalition is co-chaired by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.


Cicilline's administration has focused on the residential neighborhoods of Providence, as well as the "Renaissance" areas of downtown and Federal Hill that thrived under Cianci, and has continued the promotion of the city via the tax breaks given to artists and movie productions. A former state legislator, he was able to deal with the animosity with state government that existed under Cianci.

In May 2009, Cicilline gained national headlines after proposing a $150 per semester Head Tax on each of the 25,000 college students attending four universities in the city. The tax was an effort to close $6 to $8 million of a reported $17 million dollar city budget shortfall. The associated press reported that if enacted, it would become the first-in-the-nation tax on students simply for being enrolled and attending college within the city limits.

Cicilline has expressed concern for the Providence metropolitan area's carbon footprint. As mayor, he sought to implement a streetcar/light rail-type system for the city. He also focused efforts to fight poverty. He won passage of a vacant-and-abandoned property penalty, to provide an economic disincentive for banks to hold properties out of the housing market for extended periods of time. He also proposed municipal bonds for the purpose of buying foreclosed properties to expand housing.

Cicilline is a strong proponent of after-school activities as a means of improving opportunities for children. As mayor, Cicilline served as Chair of the Standing Committee for Children, Health and Human Services of the United States Conference of Mayors. He has also been recognized for his efforts to establish youth programming and to strengthen ties among schools, businesses and local government, in order to expand access to after-school programming. Under Cicilline, city officials worked with Rhode Island’s Education Partnership to form PASA, the Providence After School Alliance. Cicilline also serves on the board of the national nonprofit Afterschool Alliance, an organization that works to promote and to support after-school activities for all children.

Between 1980 and 2009, most prostitution was legal in Rhode Island. As mayor, Cicilline was a strong advocate for outlawing it. Cicilline personally testified in Superior Court to stop the opening of "spas" in Providence, and discussed his position in the 2009 documentary Happy Endings?. He lobbied for a prostitution law not only to arrest the women and the "johns", but also to fine landlords that permitted this activity on their premises. On September 2, 2009, Cicilline submitted an ordinance to the City Council to ban indoor prostitution in the city, imposing a $500 fine and a potential 30-day prison sentence on violators. On November 3, 2009, Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri signed into law a bill making the buying and selling of sexual services a crime.

During the 2008 Democratic primaries, Cicilline supported Hillary Clinton. In August 2008, he attended the Democratic National Convention in Denver. While there, he told an interviewer that he now supported Barack Obama, saying "[t]here is a real sense of hope and optimism about what we're about to do and about a chance in leadership in this country."

ICE controversy with Governor Carcieri

On June 8, 2008, Marco Riz, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala who had been arrested twice the previous year while under a deportation order, was charged in the robbery and rape of a 30-year-old woman. A federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent criticized the Providence Police Department for not checking Riz's immigration status when they arrested him previously. Governor of Rhode Island, Donald Carcieri blamed Cicilline for the Department's failure. Previously, Carcieri had signed an executive order requiring all state officials to work with ICE on arrests or hirings of illegal immigrants. When Carcieri asked the same of local agents, Providence Police Chief Dean Esserman refused. Cicilline responded that it has been the policy of the Police Department to work with ICE and its database for all arrests, that the policy was followed when Riz was arrested, and that ICE failed to act.

On July 8, 2008, Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri claimed that Cicilline was not upholding his oath of office by failing to report illegal immigrants, suggesting the U.S. Attorney investigate the mayor. Mayor Cicilline responded by accusing Carcieri of "playing politics", eight days later writing an op-ed in the Providence Journal stating that the city always has and will continue to report all arrests to immigration authorities, and that the focus is therefore inappropriate. Carcieri is term-limited and was prevented from running for a third term in 2010.

Firefighters' union contract arbitration

Since 2003, Cicilline has been engaged in a dispute with the Providence Firefighters labor union (Local 799). In a July 2002 email Cicilline sent to the members of Local 799, he indicated that he hoped to resolve their pending contract dispute with the city within 30 days of taking office. In August, Cicilline said in an interview that promising the resolution of contract negotiations was impossible because of the unpredictability of the other negotiating partner. The city and the union have been in arbitration in every contract year since 2002, with Cicilline appealing one arbitration decision to the Rhode Island Supreme Court. The appeal was rejected.

In 2004, Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards canceled a fundraising appearance in Providence in support of the Local 799. In 2007, Hillary Clinton asked Cicilline, a Clinton supporter, not to attend a Clinton rally because of threats by the union to picket the appearance.

Both the Rhode Island AFL-CIO and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) have censured Cicilline for his role in the issue.

In 2009, due to the union's picket, the Obama administration canceled Joe Biden's appearance at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Providence in the interests of remaining neutral in the conflict.

Tax office controversy

In June 2008, John M. Cicilline, brother of Mayor Cicilline, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making false statements for his role in the courthouse corruption scheme. Federal prosecutors indicted John Cicilline, disbarred attorney Joseph Bevilacqua Jr. and two assistants in January 2007. According to court documents, the two attorneys spun a complicated scheme to win leniency in a drug trafficking case.

Before reporting to prison, John M. Cicilline gave the city of Providence a $75,000 check for taxes owed by a client, but asked that the check not be cashed and only held as collateral. Two of the mayor’s top aides told the city tax collector Robert Ceprano, not to cash a check sent by the mayor’s brother, a lawyer, on behalf of a delinquent taxpayer because it would bounce. In four instances, the tax collector says, aides pressured him to perform tax favors for the mayor’s friends and/or campaign contributors. The mayor says the taxpayers got relief because they or the city made a tax mistake — not because they are friends or contributors. Amid the controversy the tax collector Robert Ceprano was fired

On May 10, 2009 Robert Ceprano filed a lawsuit against the City of Providence alleging conspiracy, corruption, libel and wrongful termination. The suit accuses John M. Cicilline, the mayor’s imprisoned brother, of attempting to defraud the City of Providence by writing a bad check for $75,000 on behalf of a delinquent taxpayer. Furthermore, it alleges, the mayor and his aides “willfully conspired … to conceal John Cicilline’s illegal activities.” Ceprano also charges that he was fired not for poor job performance, but because he resisted the mayor’s efforts to perform tax favors for political friends and supporters. Lawyers for Ceprano are asking for ten million dollars. The single count complaint against John Cicilline was dismissed by Judge Kristin Rodgers on November 17, 2009.

City of Providence Budget Controversy

Shortly after assuming office, the new Mayor of the City of Providence Angel Tavares announced that the City was facing a 'category 5' hurricane due to the substantial debt facing it. Tavares was compelled to engage in austerity cuts including teacher layoffs and paycuts by city employees. The total structural debt inherited by Tavares in 2011 was $180 million.

A report commissioned by the City of Providence found that the Cicilline administration had 1) transferred funds from the Undesignated Surplus (Rainy-Day Fund) without approval of a majority vote of the City Council 2) had not provided financial information on a timely basis to the independent auditor, the City Council or the Internal Auditor 3) had not provided the City Council with monthly financial statements or with projections of year-end surpluses or deficits, among other findings.


U.S. House of Representatives

An avid supporter of non-violence, Cicilline has taken a stance against U.S. military forces in Libya, voting to limit the use of funds supporting NATO operations in Libya and to remove armed forces from Libya in June 2011. On a domestic level, his anti-war policies translate to a strong advocacy against gun use, as he is a founding member of the bipartisan coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns.  In 2010, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence endorsed Cicilline while in 2000, the National Rifle Association awarded him an F- lifetime score. Cicilline has also indicated his support to ban the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons, to increase state restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms, and to require manufacturers to provide child-safety locks with firearms. On November 16, 2011, Cicilline made a powerful public statement against the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act which would “require all states to allow out-of-state visitors to carry concealed firearms as long as the laws of the visitors' home states allow them to do so.”  He insisted that the bill does not pertain at all to the Second Amendment, infringes upon the rights of State governments to protect the safety of their citizens, and forces communities to accept concealed-carry standards set by other states instead of responding to their own unique needs.

Cicilline holds a pro-choice viewpoint on abortion, advocating that abortions should always be legally available and that government funding be provided to clinics and medical facilities that provide abortion services.  In response to the Protect Life Act of October 2011, which bans the use of federal funds to cover any costs of health care plans that cover abortions and would allow federally-funded hospitals that oppose abortions to refuse to perform the procedure (even in cases where a woman would die without it),  Cicilline stated that it would endanger the lives of women and limit “how women can spend their own private dollars to purchase health insurance,” declaring the bill “outrageous.”  He also voted against prohibiting the use of federal funds for Planned Parenthood in February 2011 and against prohibiting taxpayer funding of abortion in May 2011.  On a related note, Cicilline has cosponsored the Violence Against Women Health Initiative Act of 2011 to “improve the health care system's assessment and response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, and for other purposes.”

Cicilline actively supports veterans, ensuring that they “have access to a range of resources in health care, housing, employment, mental health services, and education.”  He has cosponsored the Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act to aid veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder , the Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act to permit disabled veterans to receive both retired pay and veterans disability compensation, and the Veteran Employment Transition Act of 2011 to extend work opportunities to recently discharged veterans. On November 18, 2011, Cicilline offered his support of the Vow Hire Heroes Act, which increases job opportunities for veterans, with this press release: "This vote ensures that Rhode Island veterans and all of our nation's veterans will receive some of the tools and resources they need to successfully reenter the workforce and provide for their families and loved ones.”



Source: wikipedia


February 6th, 2012

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