Did This State’s Powerful House Speaker Overreach on Firefighter Overtime?

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, congratulates House Speaker Nick Mattiello, D-Cranston, after signing the state budget into law June 30. (Photo: Nick Mattiello Facebook)

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Taxpayers won a key battle with government workers unions this summer when one of Rhode Island’s top politicians withdrew two measures that would have financially rewarded career firefighters, reformers say.

The union representing some of those firefighters pays him rent, they note.

Leaders of firefighters unions had sought to bring out a big gun after the Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled in favor of towns and other municipalities that wanted to limit overtime costs for firefighters.

So they called on Rep. Nicholas “Nick” Mattiello, D-Cranston, speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives.

Mattiello has a reputation as being friendly to union causes.

Critics also note that he and his brother lease office space to Cranston Firefighters Local 1633 in a building they co-own. The local union is affiliated with the International Association of Firefighters.

Mattiello, first elected to the House in 2007, has declined to reveal how much he makes in rent from Local 1633.

But the speaker has said the arrangement causes no conflict of interest and that he separates his business relationship with Local 1633 from his legislative duties.

“We are a part-time legislature and many of us are active in the business world,” Mattiello told the news site …read more