Phillipe and Jorge are delighted to see that Paul Suttell, our pick for Chief Justice of the Vo Dilun Supreme Court, smoothly sailed through the General Assembly to assume that grand position. Fortunately, the hideously compromised Maureen McKenna Goldberg didn't claw her way into the spot abetted by the influence of her lobbyist husband, Robert. Buttressing our argument that Ms. Goldberg was a horrible fit for the position — and she should now just simply resign from the Supremes and do everyone a favor — is the fact that she once again had to recuse herself from taking part in a huge case, the Champlin's Marina expansion in Block Island, because hubby Bobby is involved (on the wrong/greed side, as usual).
No one P+J knows in politics has a bad word to say about Paul Suttell, which is the way it should be. He's not like political wheeler-dealer and famed tuxedo renter Tom Fay, nor is he like the rather alarmingly wild-eyed Frank Williams, Suttell's predecessor, who always gave one the impression that if a firecracker went off outside his window, he would whip out an Uzi and strafe the room with gunfire.
A SAD DECISION
Speaking of the Supremes, P+J were saddened to see their ruling in the case of former Senate President Bill Irons involving the Ethics Commission, which we saw as a blatant conflict of interest. Little Napoleon was hauling in hundreds of thousands in insurance commissions from his pal Tom Ryan, CEO of CVS, as well as Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, yet continued to vote on key pieces of pharmacy legislation that had huge financial ramifications for the companies.
Complex legal arguments aside for a moment, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like duck, it's a duck — and one that looks like it was swimming in a sewer. It is just another blow to the perception of the Biggest Little as the state that has the motto, "What's in it for me?"
This case will just make it harder for the Ethics Commission to do the job the people thought they had elected them for, as votes by legislators cannot be used against them by the Commission. That was the sound of champagne corks popping through Halitosis Hall when the verdict came in.
(P.S.: The lone dissenting vote in the 3-1 decision came from new Chief Justice Paul Suttell. And Maureen McKenna Goldberg recused herself yet again.)
AQUIDNECK SCHOOLING THE STATE
If Middletown, Newport, and Portsmouth have the courage and vision to do the right thing, they will embrace the recent Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council report that recommends regionalizing Aquidneck Island's school districts.
This isn't the time for guarding turf and individual fiefdoms, because it is coming at quite a price to local taxpayers. Student enrollment is decreasing in all three districts and is predicted to continue falling. Newport has taken the biggest hit, with local wisdom being that parents don't want their kids going to Newport public schools because of their lack of quality and, where and when possible, are scooting down East and West Main roads to the more welcoming educational institutions in Middletown and Portsmouth. That's a harsh verdict, but talk to parents with young kids in the City by the Sea and you'll get an earful.