Consistency of the Mess We’re In

A sure indication that Rhode Islanders are in for a beating? The folks who are in a position to ease the pain of our collapse and recovery have to “talk” about stuff like this:

William R. Guglietta, chief legal counsel for the House Democratic majority leader, is tentatively scheduled to be sworn in as chief magistrate of the Traffic Tribunal next month, but he might not end up with the power to appoint other traffic court magistrates, at least not for long.
State officials are now talking about giving that power to Governor Carcieri or Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank J. Williams.
The General Assembly created the chief magistrate’s job earlier this year after removing the Traffic Tribunal from under Chief District Judge Albert E. DeRobbio. In doing so, the Assembly gave the chief magistrate a base salary of $132,062, a 10-year term and the power to appoint other Traffic Tribunal magistrates.

Our government officials are clearly in need of a workshop on the concept of “separation of powers” when even the good-government side would allow the executive branch to be left out of the appointment process. As Keven McKenna puts it, “If anybody doesn’t deserve more unconstitutional power, it’s Frank Williams.” The chief justice is the poster child for affronts to separation (emphasis added):

Williams, who selected Guglietta for the chief magistrate’s job, wrote back to Watson and Gorham on Monday, saying, “I fully understand your concern about these appointments. Allowing the Chief Justice to make such appointments would remedy this concern and provide for uniformity of the magistrate appointment process within the courts. We are presently in the process of working on legislation to address this and other issues relating to magistrates.” …
On Nov. 21, Williams issued an executive order stating that “all magistrates shall be required to take an oath of office and file a written engagement prior to undertaking their duties.” The order said, “The oath shall be administered by the appointing authority upon written notice to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.”

Rhode Islanders ought to be getting pretty tired of hearing the phrase “uniformity and consistency” coming from within the halls of our government. More often than not, it seems to mean uniformity of oligarchical power and consistency of policy with their personal preferences and interests.

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