Mayor's networning lunch takes a bite out of politics

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Tim McLaughlin, the former Johnston Fire Chief turned Rhode Island State Fire Marshall, had just finished talking to his boss Gov. Gina Raimondo when he suddenly stated: “This guy really knows how to pack ’em in.”

McLaughlin was talking about his former boss, Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena, who held yet another of his highly-popular networking luncheons inside his and the Johnston Democratic Town Committee’s headquarters at 10 Commerce Way off Atwood Avenue..

But the luncheon, which McLaughlin and others noted “is the talk of the state”, wasn’t the usual come and break bread with your colleagues from all corners of the state.

“It seems like there’s more people than usual,” said Arnie Vecchione, Johnston’s DPW Director who along with Peter DelPonte prepared the lunch. “Now where could you go and see the Governor and (Cranston Mayor) Allan Fung in the same room?”

Raimondo and Fung, who are reportedly the front runners for their respective parties in the 2015 Governor’s race, headlined a cross section of people from Carpianato Properties President Kelly Coates to Peter Neronha to DOT Director Peter Alviti to Jim Vincent, president of thee NAACP to Mike Grieco, president of Grieco Motor Group.

“The food’s always great in Johnston,” said Neronha, who is running for the seat of Rhode Island’s Attorney General. “But the networking is special.”

Ah, networking. That’s the way Polisena has always referred to the unique social setting that includes everyone from staffers who hold positions in the offices of Rhode Island’s U.S. Congressmen and U.S. Senators to the Johnston Mayor’s staff that is treated to a noon-time networking lunch that sometimes last 90 or more minutes.

Last Thursday’s networking luncheon may have lasted longer than the food, but as most people concurred: “You won’t find these types of crowds in restaurants anywhere around here.”

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