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More MS news articles for October 2003

Curran considering job offers by Cicilline

The former U.S. Attorney says her multiple sclerosis will influence her decision to accept the posts of homeland security liaison or municipal integrity officer

Thursday, October 9, 2003
Gregory Smith
The Providence Journal

Former U.S. Attorney Margaret Curran is considering taking a full-time salaried job with the City of Providence, either as a homeland security liaison in the Emergency Management Agency or as municipal integrity officer.

Mayor David N. Cicilline and Curran acknowledged they have seriously discussed the possibility of her taking either post although she stepped down as U.S. Attorney due to poor health.

"I would be very honored if I was able to persuade her to join this administration," Cicilline said. He lauded Curran's "extraordinary integrity and great intellect. . ." and her longstanding participation in community activities.

Nothing has been settled, and Curran said her health will weigh heavily in the decision she makes.

Curran, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, resigned as U.S. Attorney about seven weeks ago because of her ailment.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease of the central nervous system. Curran walks with a cane and speaks and reads more slowly than she used to.

"I'm still trying to figure out what I can do and whether I can work full-time," Curran said. "I have had some cognitive issues."

Her disability, Cicilline said, would not necessarily be an obstacle to taking a city job. Curran would not accept a position unless she was confident that she could fulfill its responsibilities, the mayor said.

Nevertheless, Curran has resigned from the mayor's Ethics Task Force, where she has been serving as chairwoman. She said that she is not up to the "close legal work" that the volunteer post requires.

Kent Willever, executive director of the state Ethics Commission, is vice chairman of the Ethics Task Force, which is writing a new municipal code of ethics. He has taken over for Curran, according to the mayor.

The municipal integrity officer would be responsible for enforcing the code of ethics and educating employees and officials about obeying it.

The position of homeland security liaison, which Cicilline and Curran have discussed more recently, would have Curran coordinate city preparedness with the state and federal governments, particularly an Antiterrorism Task Force housed in the U.S. Attorney's office.

Curran said last week that the city needs an effort similar to Project Safe Neighborhoods to work across jurisdictional lines to bolster civil defense by, for example, sharing intelligence about security threats. Project Safe Neighborhoods is a U.S. Justice Department initiative that pulls together federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to stop gun violence.

Homeland security is one area in which Curran has worked for years as U.S. Attorney, Cicilline noted.

"Meg is perfectly suited for either of those [two] positions, and probably several others" in local government, he said.

As U.S. Attorney, Curran oversaw the federal investigation of city government corruption, called Operation Plunder Dome, that sent former Mayor Vincent A. Cianci Jr. and others to prison. Cicilline's proposal of a new ethics code is in large part a response to the Plunder Dome scandal.

The municipal integrity post carries an annual salary ranging from $73,000 to $80,672 and the homeland security post, a salary from $47,559 to $51,985.

Cicilline has known Curran, a neighbor of his on the East Side, for many years. He met her "as an adversary," he recalled, when he was a practicing lawyer specializing in criminal defense, and she was chief of the Appellate Division of the U.S. Attorney's office.

Later they did team-teaching together as adjunct professors at the Roger Williams University School of Law and both were involved in All Children's Theatre.

Copyright © 2003, The Providence Journal