A Moratorium on Suspicious Appointments, Please

Whether or not one considers a legislative log-jamb at the State House to be a positive or negative development, a lowly taxpayer can’t help but feel that the appointment of family and friends to positions of influence is on a different track for approval:

Superior Court Presiding Justice Joseph F. Rodgers Jr. on Wednesday announced that he was retiring from the bench at the same time that Governor Carcieri selected Rodgers’ daughter, Kristen E. Rodgers, for a seat on the same court.
Rodgers, 67, said that his retirement will be effective Aug. 28. The justice said he expected the Senate Judiciary Committee to take up his daughter’s nomination late next week, with a vote by the full Senate on her confirmation before the legislature adjourns for the session.
Rodgers has been a judge for 35 years. His pension will be equal to his full salary, which as of July 1 will be $185,649, he said.
He said he was announcing his retirement now “to accelerate the process” so the General Assembly can name someone to fill his vacancy on the Superior Court sooner rather than later. He said it was his understanding that the legislature was planning to return for a special session in August or September to take up additional judicial nominations.

And of course, there’s this convenient factor:

[Kristin] Rodgers was selected from an older list of finalists recommended by the Judicial Nominating Commission. He passed over five people the JNC nominated for the Ragosta seat a year ago.
The law that allows Carcieri to pick from lists submitted by the commission over the past five years is due to expire June 30. Legislation to extend that law by one year passed the Senate last week and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for action.

Be impressions what they may, it’s possible that this curious timing is not the result of backroom murmurs. Still, I propose that state officials impose upon themselves a moratorium against nepotism. Frankly, the overlapping webs of familiar last names within our various layers of government is becoming a bit too suffocating to take, to the point that I’d almost rather have positions filled by a random finger-poke in the phone book than by the current process.
A passable test for whether a particular appointment would violate the moratorium would be a formulation applied by one of our commenters to a similar story not long ago: After an exhaustive nationwide search, the governor has nominated… the daughter of retiring Justice Joseph Rodgers. If the ellipsis seems justified, the nomination is not.

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Sick of Rhode Island
Sick of Rhode Island
14 years ago

Rodgers is the same guy that appointed – and swore in – “Magistrate Harwood” – all between Christmas and New Years when people would be distracted.
And a couple of years later attended the unveiling of the oil portrait of now former Speaker of the House John Harwood.
So much for the judicial ethics requirements for “avoiding even the appearance of impropriety.”
But then, in Rhode Island “impropriety” is only what the U.S. Attorney chooses to prosecute, isn’t it?
Apparently everything else is fair game … and comes with a big, fat taxpayer financed pension.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
14 years ago

The best candidate for the job?No family influence?What a crock.The Governor has been disappointing lately what with the “free consultants”getting huge bucks and now this.
No one can tell me there wasn’t a competent candidate for a judgeship around who wasn’t “somebody’s” relative.
There are more back rubs being given in the political milieu of this state than in all the massage parlors in Providence.

14 years ago

Clearly Carcieri doesn’t give a 5h*t any more.
I’m begining to wonder if he ever did.

14 years ago

He gives a sh*t about his rich friends.

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