Usurpation Cannot Be Challenged in Central Falls
This ruling is worth highlighting before it slips in the vast mire of news about Rhode Island’s fatally ill civic structure:
The state-appointed receiver running Central Falls can go after Mayor Charles D. Moreau and the City Council to recoup legal fees spent defending the receivership law from Moreau’s unsuccessful state Supreme Court challenge, a special federal bankruptcy court judge ruled Friday.
Look, it stinks that a struggling city would have to pay for both sides in this legal battle, but there’s a clear value to ensuring that a law that completely removes local democratic control is at the very least vetted in a court of law. Compare that with, say, Tiverton, where taxpayers are paying the school committee’s legal council to argue against the town solicitor, for whom the taxpayers are also paying, over $367,000 that the town treasurer removed from the school committee’s earmark on the grounds that it exceeded the local appropriation approved by the financial town meeting and that represented a surplus for the schools, anyway. In that case, the lawyers’ bills must fund the process through the education commissioner and the Board of Regents before it even gets to a court of law. (Not surprisingly, the commissioner in charge of the school system found in favor of the schools.)
The controversy in Central Falls reads like a tale out of some third-world backwater trying to fake representative democracy:
The receivership law gave the first state receiver, Mark A. Pfeiffer, and then Flanders the powers of every elected and appointed official in city government. Pfeiffer had specifically refused to authorize the lawsuit and told Moreau and the council not to contest the law. They did anyway.
In the effort to recover the expenses from the appeals, Flanders’ lawyer, Theodore Orson, has argued — and a Superior Court judge agreed — that because Moreau and the council disregarded Pfeiffer’s orders, they can’t claim the suit was part of their official duties.
Well, duh. After a coup, the elected officials have no “official duties,” and the usurper will never be likely to grant permission for a legal challenge. Apparently, the judicial system in Rhode Island buys the logic of tyranny (which should be too surprising, considering that the American judiciary has been imposing policy and amending the Constitution via lawsuit shortcut for decades).