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Posts Tagged ‘Joe Grano’

Many years ago, Washington lawyer Joe Grano, after returning to Washington from a trip to Rome, Italy, realized that the two cities shared more than just their status as capital cities. Joe saw that the arts and architecture of the two cities were similar, of course, but he also noted that perhaps those similarities were not accidental but deliberate.

Joe Grano and Gianni Alemanno

As Joe explained to CiaoAmerica!, “The American Founding Fathers chose a republic as their preferred form of government after having studied extensively the ‘constitution’ of the Roman Republic. Once it was decided to create a new city for the Seat of Government, it was only natural that they chose Roman architecture for their main public buildings. This was a deliberate decision of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. It is certainly not accidental that the three buildings that represent the legislative, executive and judicial branches, i.e. The Capitol, the White House and the  Supreme Court building are ultimately derived from Roman models, albeit two from an indirect route. Indeed, Jefferson highly recommended a rotunda for the new U.S. Capitol building.”

Joe Grano  decided to act on his observations and over the years became the force behind efforts to join Rome and Washington in a “Sister Cities ” agreement.

But even before that campaign, Joe founded the Constantino Brumidi Society and began efforts to have, among others, Constantino Brumidi, the “Michelangelo of the Nation’s Capitol,” recognized by the U.S. Congress.  Eventually, through his tireless efforts, and his ceaseless prodding of national Italian American organizations, Congress  posthumously awarded Brumidi a Congressional Gold Medal.

Now that the medal has been minted, Joe is indefatigably prodding appropriate Washington institutions to hold a ceremony to commemorate the minting of the medal.

This past Tuesday, Joe sat among the invited guests witnessing the signing ceremony of the “Sister Cities” agreement. He must have felt a moment of satisfaction as he watched the Mayor of  Rome,  Gianni Alemmanno, and the Mayor of Washington, D.C., Vincent Gray sign the document in the historic John Wilson Building, seat of the D.C. government.   Outside the building, the U.S., D.C. and Italian flags waved in the breeze.

Joe recalls that he first brought the “Sister City” idea to the attention of the administration of former DC Mayor Anthony Williams and enlisted the help of other local groups, including SMATCH.  However, by the time the then-Mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, expressed an interest in signing an agreement, the city elected a new mayor.  Under the following Mayor, Adrian Fenty, whose mother Janet  Perno  Fenty is incidentally Italian American, a series of meetings were held with heads of local groups and distinguished Washingtonians to draft a protocol and agreement. Early  in 2008, the draft protocol was approved by Mayor Fenty and then transmitted to Rome. Unfortunately, soon after it was sent, Veltroni resigned as mayor.  Read more . . .

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Italian Americans are being asked to urge their Congressmen to co-sponsor and to support two resolutions honoring Galileo and 16th century architect Andrea Palladio. Washington, D.C. attorney Joe Grano noted that 2008 was the 500th anniversary of the birth of the influential Italian architect. “His influence can be seen in the architecture of Europe, England and the United States, including the White House and the U.S. Capitol.” This year is the 400th anniversary of the first use of the telescope for astronomical observation. “With that act, Galileo literally and figuratively changed the way we see the universe,” said Grano. This anniversary is so significant that the United Nations has declared 2009 the International Year of Astronomy.” Read more…>>

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We want to share with you a letter that Joe Grano sent to the Washington Post. 

Michael Kinsley, Columnist
The Washington Post

Dear Mr. Kinsley,

I was a bit surprised and frankly miffed by your column today, March 6, in The Washington Post, “A Bailout You Can’t Refuse.” Intended to be a satire on the fact that too many parts of the economy are seeking to be bailed out by the Federal government, you make your argument by engaging in ethnic stereotyping of Italian Americans.

To make your point you have the “organized crime” industry seeking its share of government money. To do this, you have a gentleman you identify as “William P. ‘Billy the Bailout’ Baritone” being nominated by the President “for the newly created post of assistant secretary for illegal affairs.” You note that “Baritone has spent his entire career in organized crime.” I ask you: Will not your average reader identify the name “Baritone” as being Italian as is the name “Soprano”?

As we read further, you use several of the stereotypes of the typical mob figure frequently used in the popular media to identify criminals as people of Italian American descent. Baritone, as you depict him in the column, is generally uncouth, bombastic, uses poor English and images of violence in his speech, such as: “We only slam a window on people’s fingers when they don’t pay up”.

To further make sure that we see this character as an Italian American, as if that were necessary, you actually bring up the Sopranos. You have Baritone say, “You think I would whack the secretary of the Treasury in the middle of a press conference? You been watching too many reruns of ‘The Sopranos’.” This is very funny, but probably not to Italian Americans. Am I being too sensitive here? At a minority sensitivity training class I once attended, I heard articulated the Platinum Rule: “Do not do to others what they do not want done to them.” I invite you to take a poll of Italian Americans to find out if they approve of what you have done, today.

Finally, Mr. Kinsley, while I am a firm believer of freedom of the press, I must ask: Is there another ethnic group that you would dare denigrate, as you have Italian Americans, today?

Respectfully yours,

Joseph N. Grano
Washington, D.C.

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