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Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Raimondo nominee called blacks "a social subspecies"

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
A post from a blog written by Thomas A. DiLuglio. Gov. Gina Raimondo withdrew his nomination for a high-paying DEM job after learning of his racist comments.
A post from a blog written by Thomas A. DiLuglio.
Gov. Gina Raimondo withdrew his nomination
for a high-paying DEM job after learning
of his racist comments.
Racist comments have derailed Gov. Gina Raimondo’s candidate for a relatively obscure but high-paying post at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).

Raimondo nominated Thomas A. DiLuglio to serve as hearing officer for DEM’s Division of Administrative Adjudication, a post that offers a $130,692 salary for settling disputed permits and penalties assessed by the agency.

DiLuglio’s online comments suggest that he would hardly be an impartial magistrate. 

In background information he submitted to the Senate, DiLuglio references his blog — DILULUIS, King of Troy — where he comments on current events and historical issues, including on the topics of race and slavery.

In a March 9, 2019 post under the heading Black Plague, he described blacks as “a social subspecies.” 

In the same post under the heading Black Lives Under (Friendly?) Fire, he called it “negligence beyond compare” that the black community fails to instruct its youth to “respect the power of the police if not the inherent, overwhelming authority of the State.”

“In the context of Black Lives Matter,” DiLuglio wrote, “it matters that the Black Community takes responsibility for its own. … Black Community has within its control the means to eradicate the heartbreak that comes with the loss of even one of its members to the power of ignorance. Ignorance: of the consequences when a police officer approaches a citizen at any time. A proper reaction can save a life.”

Raimondo spokesperson Audrey Lucas said, “Governor Raimondo withdrew the nomination after Mr. DiLuglio's insensitive comments about the Black Lives Matter movement were brought to light.”

DiLuglio’s nomination was withdrawn days before he was scheduled to be interviewed, along with candidates for other positions, by the Senate Committee on the Environment and Agriculture.

Without mention of his racial comments, Save The Bay praised Raimondo’s decision to remove DiLuglio from consideration, saying the agency needs someone with a background in environmental law in that position. 

The conservation group referenced a 2019 report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that concluded that DEM needed additional enforcement staff and attorneys.

DEM once employed four administrative hearing officers. With only a single hearing officer now, fewer cases are being adjudicated. Chronic staffing shortages have led to a propensity to settle disputes with reduced fines rather than impose more strict sanctions, according to the EPA’s 48-page report.

“In Save The Bay’s view, DEM has not issued enough formal enforcement actions with penalties to deter future violations, or recovered the full amount of the penalties imposed through the administrative hearing process,” the Providence-based nonprofit wrote in a letter. 

“Without adequate enforcement staff to conduct inspections, issue formal notices of violation and bring actions through the administrative appeal process, violations continue to degrade the environment and put the public health at risk.”

According to DEM, there was only one full hearing, which is similar to a trial, heard by the hearing officer last year. There were, however, more than 400 procedural meetings. As of May, there were 131 cases pending within DEM’s Division of Administrative Adjudication.

Save The Bay also referred to a June 2 Providence Journal article that recounts DiLuglio’s checkered past and lack of environmental experience. 

His political credentials include being the son of former Lt. Gov. Thomas R. DiLuglio. The Providence Journal also noted that Senate President Dominick Ruggerio worked as an aide to the senior DiLugio between 1977 and 1981. The younger DiLuglio served in the state Senate from 1975 until 1983.

In 1997, DiLuglio paid $350,000 to the town of Johnston to settle a malpractice lawsuit involving a sexual discrimination case, according to the June 2 article.

DiLuglio paid a $5,000 fine for ethics violations in a 1996 case confirmed by the state Supreme Court three years later. DiLuglio was found guilty of arranging dinners at the iconic Federal Hill restaurant, the Blue Grotto, for members of the House and Senate and the Rhode Island Soft Drink Association, an industry group that, at the time, was fighting a recycling bill.

DiLuglio’s Senate disclosure lists several municipal jobs, such as chief legal counsel for the housing authority in Johnston from 1986 until 1994 and town solicitor in Johnston from 1987 until 1995. DiLuglio also worked for construction firms Napoli Development from 2000 until 2005 and Clark Construction from 2006 until 2008. 

He was an adjunct professor at the New England Institute of Technology from 2011 until 2013. DiLuglio last worked (2017-2019) as a referee at the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, settling disability payment disputes.

DEM said it had nothing to do with nominating DiLuglio.

David Kerins, DEM’s former hearing officer, retired last December. Department of Administration Administrator of Adjudication Catherine Warren has been handling the DEM hearings since Kerins retired.

A new nominee to replace Kerins hasn’t been named.