When five protesters and five news outlets entered the Galen Office Building on Park Avenue in Cranston, to knock on the door of attorney Nicholas Mattiello, the Rhode Island Speaker of the House, they were met with a locked door. Without missing a beat the protesters began to slide their protest signs under the door of the law office. The signs said things like “Pass the Budget Now” and “Dear Nick, Get Back to Work!”
Everyone was surprised when the door suddenly opened and Mattiello appeared.
“Sorry guys,” said the Speaker, “This is a law office, we’re doing business, so have a nice day. Thank you very much.”
“It’s just tough to find you and [get you to] meet with the public,” asked Cranston resident George Hanley, who organized the event. “What’s going on?”
“We’ll set up a meeting at your convenience,” offered protester Duane Clinker.
“Not at my law office,” said Mattiello, “Just call the state House. Thank you!”
Then the door was shut and locked once more. (Check out the last video below for the entire trip into the Speaker’s office building.)
As brief as the sighting of the Speaker of the House was, it was the most attention George Hanley has gotten from Mattiello (Democrat, District 15, Cranston) so far. He has called the Speaker’s State House office three times, he said, and was prevented from questioning the Speaker when he called into the Dan Yorke Radio Show last Thursday.
George Hanley finds the budget impasse “unbelievable.”
“The fact that [Mattiello] would leave on a handshake on what he says was a nine plus billion dollar budget seems crazy,” said Hanley.
“Traditionally the Speaker is kinda the King of Rhode Island. What he says goes,” said Hanley. “But now we have a stronger Senate, and they’re checking on how the car tax bill is going to be funded.”
Hanley is unhappy that Mattiello’s actions are holding up school budgets, the earned paid sick days bill, Governor Gina Raimondo‘s college tuition program, and the bill that would disarm domestic abusers. Hanley sees a connection between the Speaker’s A+ rating with the National Rifle Association and the fact that the domestic violence gun bill is stuck in limbo.
Mattiello is not the only representative Hanley is disappointed in. His own representative, Robert Jacquard (Democrat, District 17, Cranston), a close ally to Mattiello, has paid no heed to Hanley’s questions and concerns.
Not everyone was impressed with the presence of the demonstrators. One women walked by saying, “We’re on Matt’s side” before being corrected by her friend and saying, “We’re on Nick’s side.”
Hanley’s hope is that demonstrations and protests like this one will “shame Mattiello into getting back to work.” He hopes that this will be the “start of a movement where ever he goes there are people saying ‘Get back to work.'”
Hanley’s son, Jake, explained that as a soon to be fifth grader, he wants “politicians to fix the budgets of schools. Elementary schools, middle schools, high schools…”