Providence Journal

Providence, R. I.

Cuomo: City Played No Role In Alviti's Turnabout

By Richard Salit Journal Staff Writer

Aug 4, 1999

CRANSTON - Stephen Cuomo, the city's director of administration, acknowledges that he contacted leaders of the Laborers International Union after receiving a request for an extensive number of public records from one of its employees, Peter Alviti, the city's former public works director.

Late last month, a couple of weeks after Alviti presented the city a two-page list of records he wanted, he withdrew his request.

The sudden reversal raised questions among City Hall observers as to whether Alviti had been pressured by his union at the request of the administration of Mayor John O'Leary. The union represents city laborers and reportedly would like to also represent municipal workers seeking to secede from the National Association of Government Employees.

Cuomo said yesterday that he telephoned union representative Manuel Sousa, after receiving Alviti's request for records concerning hirings and dismissals and city finances.

The only question I asked him was if {Alviti's} position reflected the laborers', Cuomo said. That's all. Basically he said no, and we accepted that. I was very adamant to tell Manny Sousa, as I have told you, he {Alviti} has every right to request the records. We just wanted to ensure that he was acting independently.

Alviti's letter, written on plain stationery, included his home address on Scituate Avenue and nowhere mentioned the laborers union. In fact, he wrote that this request is being made by me as a concerned City of Cranston resident.

Cuomo said that, after he spoke with Sousa, he received a phone call from Armand E. Sabitoni, the union's vice president and regional manager, who wanted to make sure that Alviti was not doing it on union time. Among other things, Cuomo said, Sabitoni asked if Alviti's request had been written on union stationery.

Sabitoni, recalled Cuomo, said that Alviti has his constitutional rights, and I agreed with him. And he said he didn't want to exert any undue influence on him. Sousa, when asked if Cuomo applied any pressure to have Alviti withdraw his request for records, replied, None whatsoever. Sousa, who is the union liaison to the Cranston local, said he could not remember details of his conversation with Cuomo and that Peter Alviti and my department have nothing do with one another. Alviti withdrew his records request a short time after Cuomo's conversations with the two union officials.

Alviti, who worked for six years under Republican Mayor Michael A. Traficante, was retained by Democrat O'Leary's incoming administration in January. But he resigned in March and took a job in the union's New England office, as an engineer dealing with health and safety issues. A former member of the executive board of the Republican City Committee, he now serves only on the party's Ward 5 committee.

Alviti initially sought information from the administration on recent hirings, dismissals and city finances. In withdrawing his request, he said, that nonprofit groups such as Cranston United Taxpayers (CUT) have requested similar information.

Therefore, rather than duplicate such efforts, I am withdrawing my request, he wrote O'Leary. In the future, I will therefore leave such requests to civic-minded organizations and individuals so that I may pursue my interests in the private sector.

He has declined to comment beyond that.

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