Oh Captain, my Captain

By RUDY CHEEKS  |  July 27, 2011

Another time, I was invited to appear on one of the Sunday morning talk shows on WJAR by political reporter Bill Rappleye. The other guest was then-former Governor Sundlun and the topic was the recent controversy involving an open microphone on political consultant Guy Dufault's cable TV show, The Real Deal. Guy, unaware that someone had inadvertently hit some buttons putting the program on the air minutes before it was scheduled to begin, was heard discussing (with former Republican Party head ramrod and West Warwick mayor Mike Levesque) then-Governor Carcieri's alleged "cummatas" — mistresses for the uninitiated.

Cummatagate electrified the state for, perhaps, a-week-and-a-half. And while some might think inviting Rudy Cheeks to one of these talk shows is somewhat inexplicable, you must take into consideration the presumption among working members of the press that I just might blurt out anything. From my jaded perspective, that is the only reason that I am ever invited to appear on television, radio, or in newsprint around here. They think that I'm a walking freak show, not a legitimate pundit.

What Bill didn't know when he invited me on the show was that Guy and I had grown up together in Pawtucket and that he was a lifelong friend I liked and respected. And while I saw this tempest in a teapot as an unfortunate and boneheaded blunder, I wasn't about to turn on my friend. The Captain was, like me, not about to badmouth Guy as he had been a valued advisor to the Sundlun Administration. And the funniest thing about the interview was that it had to be edited due to the Captain, not me. The highly exercised former Governor blurted out an expletive during one of the segments.

Of all his accomplishments and heroic moments, his foibles and embarrassing screw-ups, I think that his greatest gift to his beloved state was not unlike the gift his friend, President John F. Kennedy, bestowed on the United States. An entire generation of bright, talented, and effective leaders were given an early opportunity to serve under the tutelage of Governor Bruce Sundlun. Here are just a few people who shone in the Sundlun years: Sheldon Whitehouse, Elizabeth Roberts, Charles Fogarty, David Preston, Sue Pegden, Scott Wolf, Barbara Cottam, and David Cruise.

I've not even touched on Sundlun's business career, his amazing record in World War II, his stint teaching at the University of Rhode Island, or his many charitable contributions. Larger than Life, Bruce Sundlun's legacy is secure.


In a recent article in the BeloJo, it was reported that the Judicial Nominating Commission will be sending the names of five finalists to Governor Chafee to replace retired Superior Court Judge Edwin J. Gale. Two of the finalists are Eva Mancuso and Lynette Labinger. These are, from the Cool, Cool World's perspective, two very strong candidates. Attorney Labinger is a well-respected civil rights lawyer, a Providence Housing Court judge and a volunteer lawyer with the Rhode Island affiliate of the ACLU. Most notably, she played a leading role in an important sex-discrimination lawsuit against Brown University focused on women's sports.

And Eva Mancuso worked as an assistant Rhode Island Attorney General and was a 1998 Democratic primary candidate for AG. These are two excellent candidates.

Send a wayback machine and Pulitzer-grade tips to rudycheeks@live.com.

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