|By Raja Mishra, The Boston
GlobeMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 23, 2007 - Disgraced former Providence mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci, long known for his panache and flamboyance, plans to make his return to public life in similar fashion: When he gets out of federal prison next week, a front office job at the ultra swank Fifteen Beacon hotel awaits.
Cianci could begin his second act (or third by some counts) by glad-handing movers and shakers at one of the Hub's toniest addresses, where rooms yesterday were going for as much as $1,200 a night, Lexus with driver included.
His stay at the boutique hotel in the shadow of Beacon Hill could be short, depending on what Cianci decides to do after he no longer has to report to a Boston halfway house. Fifteen Beacon is offering to sign him on for the long term.
Still, as word spread yesterday of Cianci's job, the hotel said it had received outraged e-mails from several regular clients -- including local companies and a prominent law firm -- saying they would stop sending business there. But far from shying from the colorful, controversial Cianci, the hotel plans to make him central to its marketing efforts.
"He has a dynamic personality, and obviously he did amazing things for Providence," said Fifteen Beacon owner Paul Roiff.
"I was shocked" at the complaints, Roiff said. "To my knowledge, this man never harmed anybody."
But longtime Cianci observers said he will be promoting the hotel, but his true client will be someone else: himself.
"Cianci will view Boston as the off-Broadway preview for his return to Rhode Island," said Darrell West, a Brown University professor and a veteran watcher of Rhode Island politics. "That will be his real agenda."
The job was suggested by a mutual friend of Cianci and Roiff, a Providence native who had met Cianci several times at political events and admired him during his tenure as mayor.
"The city was nonexistent. He just got the city cleaned up, started building things, changed the whole attitude about the city," Roiff said. "Everybody I knew in Rhode Island thought the guy was terrific."
Hotel officials said Cianci will probably begin work in the first week of June, days after his scheduled May 30 release from the federal prison in Fort Dix, N.J. Cianci may work on media outreach and strategic marketing campaigns, as well as possibly meeting and greeting certain clients. His office will be on the first floor, just off the hotel bar. Cianci's salary has not been negotiated, but 25 percent of his pay will go to taxpayers to help pay for his halfway house costs.
"We'll sit down and see what he's comfortable with," said Roiff, who added that he has not directly spoken to Cianci yet.
The job will put the former mayor once again in close proximity with money and power. Fifteen Beacon's 60 modernist rooms are favored by the rich and famous; the hotel's restaurant, The Federalist, is often the site of Beacon Hill deal-making. U.S. Senator John F. Kerry is a regular.
For the first two months on the job, Cianci will end each day with a return to a spartan halfway house in the Back Bay, where he must spend every night until his five-year term ends on July 28.
Cianci, 66, was unavailable for comment yesterday, his lawyer said. News reports in Providence have said he plans to stay initially with relatives in Providence once his halfway house stint ends. Several Rhode Island radio executives have expressed interest in hiring Cianci to do a talk show.
Roiff said that he would like Cianci to go on working for him after his halfway house term.
This will not be Cianci's first reinvention. He served as Providence mayor from 1974 until 1984, when he resigned after pleading no contest to assaulting a man with a lit cigarette, an ashtray, and a fireplace log. Cianci said the man was sleeping with his estranged wife, though both she and the man denied it. The mayor and his wife later divorced.
Cianci spent several years as a radio talk show host, then mounted another successful mayoral campaign in 1990 with the slogan, "He never stopped caring about Providence."
During the 1990s, he won widespread admiration for spurring a renaissance in Providence that included a revitalized downtown, a growing population, and renewed civic pride.
But it came to a crashing halt in 2001, when Cianci was indicted on 12 felony counts, including conspiracy, extortion, and bribery. He resigned in 2002 after being convicted of one count, racketeering conspiracy. His rise and fall became the subject of several books and a big-screen documentary.
West said he expects Cianci will again seek the spotlight when in Boston.
"This guy loves media coverage more than anyone in the world," West said. "But the question is: Is there a new Buddy? Or is it the same old Buddy? No one knows."
Hotel officials said Cianci deserves a second shot.
"Everyone makes mistakes. He didn't kill anyone, He's not a pedophile. Are we going to punish him for the rest of his life?" said George Regan, a hotel spokesman. "We're going to give him a chance. He's a smart, talented guy."
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