Johnston's Picerno loyal as ever to his party of one
By MARIANNE MESSINA
Charles Picerno of Johnston appears on initial Board of Elections lists for the race for U.S. Congress District 2, the seat now held by James R. Langevin. But by the June 30 filing deadline, Picerno had collected only half of the required signatures and will therefore not be on the ballot on election day.
According to Picerno, the three-day filing period simply didn't give him enough time.
"I like to do everything myself," Picerno said of his signature collection process.
However, Picerno did make it onto the ballot back in 1998 when he ran as an Independent against Patrick J. Kennedy for the District 1 seat and lost. In fact, Picerno came in fourth among four candidates with roughly 1 percent of the vote.
While listed as an Independent, Picerno has started his own party that he calls Legalize Freedom Party. In a recent phone interview, Picerno maintained that we've strayed too far from the U.S. Constitution, which sets forth "a Constitutional Republic with limited aspects of democracy." According to Picerno, we had the most freedom as a nation just after the U.S. Constitution was framed, but then the democratic aspects started taking over.
He called these democratic aspects "the ultimate female philosophy: There's a sale going on. We've got to spend money to save money."
Picerno also said democratic ideals led to concentrations of power at the top.
"Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner," said Picerno, maintaining that the democractic idea, dividing up a limited pie, is unsustainable.
"We're losing our country," Picerno said. "The super-billionaires have banded together to take our freedoms, our rights."
Picerno would like to see our current system radically changed.
"Bring the government back to square one," Picerno said. "Reset all the laws back to the Constitution, back to 1789, as you do in a video game."
Picerno is a familiar figure in the Johnston Municipal Court and Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal. Appearing in court on his own behalf without a lawyer, Picerno has made a career of appealing traffic violations.
"I drove around for years without a license," Picerno said. "Every time I went to court they'd have to throw my case in a circular file."
Picerno readily admitted at a 2005 hearing that he had not complied with a requirement to provide an address on the side of a tow truck, but he maintained in his appeal the Johnston Municipal Court did not have the jurisdiction to decide his case.
Claiming that he has also represented many people other than himself, Picerno said, "I never, ever lost a case."
His court proceedings haven't always gone smoothly, though. And in a 2009 appeal, Picerno was reportedly ejected from the court room.
In efforts to expose local corruption or conspiracy, Picerno has applied sleuth-like tactics to gather data, from taking pictures of sites ("recon") to obtaining copies of canceled checks.
"I have crosshairs on judges, especially judges, because I like to go and testify against them," Picerno said.
Picerno blithely admitted that many consider him a "nut job."
"If you're one step ahead," Picerno quipped, "you're a genius; two steps and you're a nut job."
In our phone conversation, Picerno broached everything from Article 10 Section 4 of the Rhode Island State Constitution, by which, according to Picerno, "all the judges in Johnston are illegally appointed," to conspiracies by an elite few to reduce the Earth's population to half a billion people.
"They don't need us anymore. We're all useless eaters as far as they're concerned." In rapid succession, Picerno discussed a series of conspiracy theories, including the Rex 84 plan to turn FEMA camps into internment camps complete with guillotines, citing among the proposed camps Rhode Island's Naval base in Middletown. He also declared we won't make it to the November election because the "October surprise" this year is going to be World War III.
While planning for all that, Picerno took the time to share his views on the upcoming election primaries.
As a general rule of thumb to take to the polls, Picerno said, "Politicians should be changed often and early, like underwear. They get stained by being there too long."
In terms of the mayor's race, Picerno dismissed much of the recent flak about pensions, saying that the arguments on both sides boil down to "his illegal pension isn't as much as my illegal pension."
Still, Picerno said he favors Victor Cipriano over Joseph Polisena for mayor. "I hate Polisena – he's a bully."
When asked if there was a politician he did like, Picerno cited School Committee Vice-Chair John Conti of District 5, who was on the Primary ballot Tuesday for the town's lone State Senate seat..
"He's fiscally conservative," Picerno said. "He won't go for all this fluff stuff. He calls me up and asks for advice. Many people call me up."
And if you're trying to decide between Democrat and Republican, according to Picerno, you might as well flip a coin.
"I don't believe there's a nickel's worth of difference in either party," Picerno said. "They're mated at the top like Siamese twins."