January 1, 2011

From Blogger to Power Broker (Of Sorts)

Justin Katz

The latest Side of the Rhode hot/not list tipped me to something that nearly slipped by me:

Well-known attorney Matthew Jerzyk will serve as Mayor-elect Angel Taveras' director of government relations and senior counsel to the mayor. ...

Jerzyk will coordinate the city's legislative agenda with the City Council, state and federal government.

He is currently in private practice at DeLuca and Weizenbaum Ltd., a civil litigation firm in Providence. Jerzyk also serves as a legislative liaison for the Rhode Island Association for Justice.

As always, I wish Matt the best, but I still can't shake the feeling that the lunatics are running the Rhode Island asylum even more than they have been.

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Just what the city needs in a financial crisis-an ideologue.Up to this point Taveras had made sensible appointments.
Matt is smart,but I can already see the sanctuary city crap floating to the surface-and what's more,according to Matt,he left Providence for Cranston quite some time ago,although he does work in Providence.
I kind of get it,because he was an early and staunch supporter of taveras,so there's nothing atypical of politics in the real world there.
Trouble is,that Jerzyk is NEVER wrong(just ask him)and is quck on the drw with slanderous accusations of racism at people he disagrees with,as well as this weird mental aberration that makes everyone is foreign,nonwhite,or preferably both automatically noble and victimized.
I can't say that this selection will bring anything positive to a city already on the ropes.
And to the lefties here,if you don't live in Providence,put a sock in it for a change.

Posted by: joe bernstein at January 1, 2011 8:34 PM

Trouble is,that Joe Bernstein is NEVER wrong, NEVER.... JUST ASK HIM !!!)
And he is quck on the draw with slanderous accusations of racism at any folks on the left.. he disagrees with,


Posted by: Sammy at January 2, 2011 12:00 AM

sammy-you wouldn't know a fact about me if it hit you in the face.
I have never been afraid to acknowledge when I'm proven wrong-matters of opinion,however,are just that.
Who've I called a racist?I know a lot of leftists are patronizing and eager to use minorities for their own ends.A lot of leftists also use the whole "Zionist" thing as a cover for anti Semitic remarks.
I myself don't give a sh*t about Israel and the Palestinians.I am concerned with the well-being of this country.

Posted by: joe bernstein at January 2, 2011 6:38 AM

Kudos to Joe for reducing Sammy to pure, personal invective. His mask is off, and he didn't bother to include his typical snarky misrepresentation of any facts even tangentially related to the issue.

This is a standing eight-count.

Posted by: BobN at January 2, 2011 10:02 AM

I've met Jerzyk a few times and I like him a hell of a lot more than the anonymous cheap shot artists that abound here like bedbugs in Manhattan.
Matt and i have debted and certainly disagreed about 90% of the time,but he's always been a gentleman and to give him his due,very sharp and challenging to argue with.
I think he really believes most of what he says,unlike some politicos who say what they think certain people want to hear when in reality they don't give a damn about any of them.

Posted by: joe bernstein at January 2, 2011 10:18 AM

I've met Jerzyk a few times and I like him a hell of a lot more than the anonymous cheap shot artists that abound here like bedbugs in Manhattan.
Matt and I have debated and certainly disagreed about 90% of the time,but he's always been a gentleman and to give him his due,very sharp and challenging to argue with.
I think he really believes most of what he says,unlike some politicos who say what they think certain people want to hear when in reality they don't give a damn about any of them.

Posted by: joe bernstein at January 2, 2011 10:19 AM

Joe, I wonder how upset you would be if anchor risings self- proclaimed ideologue had been appointed to a position in a Republican admin.

Posted by: triplerichard at January 2, 2011 10:39 AM

Everything is racial to Jerzyk, from the name of the state to immigration issues to hiring decisions to what you have for breakfast in the morning. He has stated multiple times that my opinion is not to be taken seriously because I am white and therefore could not possibly comprehend racial or socio-economic issues. Doesn't get much more overtly racist than that. Virtually all of the politicians he supports are minorities, if not all. It's a very strange psychological obsession. I'm not a psychiatrist, but it probably stems from something traumatic in his childhood.

He's above average intelligence (not as above as he thinks), but the logic he uses in his arguments is often tortured and stretched to the breaking point. I remember once on RIFuture he was defending someone who was caught on camera working while collecting RI unemployment, saying it was justified because of "the corporations" or something. You have to be pretty bombed on the class warfare kool-aid to get to that point of cognitive dissonance.

Posted by: Dan at January 2, 2011 2:55 PM

RRR-nowhere did I sugest Jerzyk isn't qualified to be counsel to the Mayor-he's a practicing attorney,after all.The other job is political liaision and we know he's done a lot of that.
I just think he has some really bizarre ideas on race-I hope everyone here realizes he is White.He also is committed to redistribution of wealth which is crazy when we're already one of the most heavily taxed states in the nation and corrupt in the bargain,although I've seen worse(Illinois)-Matt is from Chicago and Louisville.
I am not sure who the self proclaimed ideologue is here,but I'd want him or her to be qualified for whatever position they were to hold.
So my problem with Jerzyk is subjective-he will probably continue his living wage project for city contractor employees which Providence cannot afford,and he will probably continue the effort he sparkplugged to make day care workers virtual state employees and part of the SEIU of which he was an organizer.
sammy can f**k off on this issue because he doesn't even live in RI.Money out of pocket talks and bullsh*t walks,sammy boy.
Jerzyk's diatribe against RI residents that if they didn't vote for the name change they were racist was idiotic-no other way to describe it.
I wonder what he'd say to Black people who voted against it-I know some personally who thought it was a ridiculous proposition.
So my objection to Jerzyk is subjective as a Providence taxpayer-am I allowed to say that RRR,or am I being politically incorrect?
I am waiting to see how Jerzyk fares with Commissioner Pare or any replacement for that asswipe Esserman.
BTW I don't comment on Cranston issues because it's none of my damn business.

Posted by: joe bernstein at January 2, 2011 5:04 PM

Hey,I'm just thinking here-WHY would Angel Taveras,a Harvard Law graduate and former Housing Court Judge,need a graduate of a third rate law school like Roger Williams as his chief counsel?
I realize alma mater isn't everything,but that's quite a qualitative difference.
OTOH the best surgeon I ever met and who operated on me five times,including once when I was kind of in shock from a hemmorhage is a graduate of the SUNY medical school,not Yale or Harvard,or Brown.SUNY is the NY state university system.

Posted by: joe bernstein at January 2, 2011 5:17 PM

"As always, I wish Matt the best, but I still can't shake the feeling that the lunatics are running the Rhode Island asylum even more than they have been."

So much for the blogging revolution. Faint praise comes to mind. Tea party people should see this as a possitive developement. Outsiders, of any stripe,getting a place at the table should be viewed as a victory. I mean, you have always gone after traditional media. And now you have a blogger in the mix.

Posted by: David S at January 2, 2011 5:17 PM

Joe - Roger Williams is a Fourth Tier law school, not Third Tier. Fourth is the bottom tier.

Don't we feel special that so many of our politicians, prosecutors, and judges graduated from that fine institution.

Posted by: Dan at January 2, 2011 7:08 PM

David must be on some new meds, because his rants are suddenly more irrelevant and more incoherent than they were in 2010.

Posted by: Contrarian View at January 2, 2011 7:33 PM

Dan-I have to disagree a little here-RW hasn't been around long enough to produce many of the types you've mentioned.Maybe you were thinking of Suffolk?Fifth tier.

Posted by: joe bernstein at January 2, 2011 7:46 PM

I'm not speaking metaphorically - there are four tiers of law schools as classified by US News rankings. Suffolk Law is 3rd Tier, they accept about half of those who apply. Roger Williams is 4th Tier and will basically take anybody. Between those two schools and New England Law (another 4th Tierer), we have about 95% of the politicians and RI government attorneys represented. In any other state, most of these people wouldn't even get the time of day. Rhode Island takes what it can get, unfortunately. There's a lot of nepotism and legacy crap that goes on with those schools in RI also, just like everything else in this state. If you see Roger Williams on a resume, that should be a BIG red flag, although it is true that a handful of people in every class of ~150-200 grads are probably objectively okay. The Roger Williams alum NEA lawyer who was recently arrested not included, of course.

The really troubling part is that there are 2 reasons why somebody would attend such a school. 1)Financial hardship OR 2)Poor LSAT scores. The LSAT is a test of logic skills and reading comprehension. We know Mr. Jerzyk and many of the other RI political appointees come from wealth, so... you have that to look forward to when you go before an RI judge and try to reason with them about your case. Based on my conversations with Mr. Jerzyk, I've noticed that he has some trouble with basic logic. I don't mean his ability to string together sentences or bloviate on blogs, he does those things just fine, I mean real fundamental A -> B; B -> C type stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if he were a 152 LSATer.

Posted by: Dan at January 2, 2011 10:30 PM

OK Dan-I just learned something new-I thought we were both being metaphoric.
I think Matt does have a thing for changing names-he ramrodded the Papitto name change issue.
Steven Brown is the biggest joke going-he has a BA in Public Administration from Vassar.
I at least have a BS in Criminal Justice from John Jay(1973)which was pioneering college in that field.
It would be interesting to see if Jerzyk could win an election.
Chris Blazejewski is a liberal attorney who runs Drinking Liberally,and he just won David Segal's old seat.He doesn't live in radical fantasyland and may turn out to be a very formidable opponent in the statehouse.The worst thing anyone can do is to foolishly underestimate the opposition in any field.

Posted by: joe bernstein at January 2, 2011 11:20 PM

She's been defending the dirty corrupt little diva in Providence city hall for 8 years, Now she gets to go lie in the piles and piles of muck and manure left behind.
Guess ambulance chasing just isn't as satisfying as working for a neophyte mayor of a dirty and bankrupt third world city eh Matilda?? lol

PS: wonder how Matilda's nutty mentor Wacko Jacko McConnell is doing now that he attempt to buy a judgeship crashed a burned in the US Senate. Off the ledge yet?? Hope not!

Posted by: Tim at January 3, 2011 8:11 AM

I never really understand all this "tier" stuff for schools. Yeah, it's one thing to show their acceptance rate. Any school can change that in an instant. What really matters is how many of a school's graduates can pass the bar.

(Theoretical here, not facts) If 90% of Harvard Law grads pass the bar but 92% of RW's pass, then is Harvard really better than RW?

I'm guessing that more Harvard grads pass than RW, but my point is more about the education you get while you're there. Any time that there is a certifying exam for a profession, isn't that really the true test about how good a school is? Or are bar exams really the bottom of the barrel and just about anybody can pass?

I just don't understand why that if you have a Harvard Law grad and a RW law grad and they both pass the NY bar exam, what makes the Harvard guy more qualified for the top NYC law firms?

Posted by: Patrick at January 3, 2011 9:20 AM

What might be most interesting about the article that Justin cites on GoLocalProv is that Jerzyk is the first one listed on the "Hot" list. Check the byline of the article. Oh gee, there isn't one. So who usually writes the "Who's Hot/Not" article for GoLocalProv? Check some of the past editions.

It's Matt Jerzyk.

Wow. Nice of you to rank yourself as "Hot", Matt. Very classy.

Posted by: Patrick at January 3, 2011 10:37 AM

"What really matters is how many of a school's graduates can pass the bar."

Bar passage rates are actually the least important metric. Bar passage rates are irrelevant to pretty much anything in practice, and passing the bar does not mean that somebody is a good or even qualified attorney. The bar exam is a historical relic that generates revenue for the states and makes it difficult for attorneys to leave. Many attorneys loudly complain about the system and would love to see it abolished, myself included.

Passing the bar is based upon two months of rote memorization of highly expensive ($3000+) packaged bar prep materials, not any kind of reasoning or legal ability. It's a meaningless ritual that incidentally weeds out only the lowest hanging fruit (80% passage rates are typical, and those who fail are free to take it again provided their second checks ($500+) clear).

LSAT score, with the possible exception of race, is the biggest single predictor of law school acceptance. The actual education you receive will be more or less standard, so in that single regard it doesn't matter which law school somebody attends. However, LSAT is a huge and very reliable predictor of legal reasoning ability, which is why big law and government honors programs crap themselves over getting people from the best schools. They are indirectly using LSAT in their hiring, with the law schools acting as simple intermediaries. With the single exception of severe financial hardship, it is common knowledge in the legal world that students take out loans and go to the very best school to which they are accepted. This is why in other states Roger Williams applicants go to the bottom of the resume pile. In RI, by contrast, they are treated as on par with some of the top schools. A recruiter for a RI government legal office told me once that he throws away the resume of any law school applicant without a direct tie to RI. Just another of many, many reasons why the RI stagnation continues into the future without end.

Posted by: Dan at January 3, 2011 11:37 AM

Another factor is that low tier law schools will often teach directly to the bar exam to make their passage rate statistics look good to local applicants, at the expense of covering more important material for practice. This is unheard of at higher tier schools. Roger Williams is a particularly bad offender in this regard. For example, I saw recent RW alum completely embarrass himself in a courtroom by not knowing what a "bailment" was when the judge asked him to address the issue. Bailment is not covered on the bar exam, but it is an extremely common and important Property Law concept that should have been drilled into his head from the first week of law school. A handful of RW grads each year will surely be objectively fine attorneys, but hiring from tier 4 is usually frowned upon because your firm could be hiring Knucklehead Smiff.

Posted by: Dan at January 3, 2011 12:15 PM

Patrick, Dan McGowan is now writing Who's Hot/Not. Jerzyk has pretty much phased himself (or been phased) out at GoLocalProv since the election. That column disappeared for awhile before McGowan picked it up two weeks ago.

Posted by: bella at January 3, 2011 1:11 PM

In NY Brooklyn Law was a school that taught a three year prep course for the NY state bar exam.When I was a court officer there,it was easy to tell a Brooklyn Law grad.
We had one guy who stumbled through his cases-he was an ex cop and went there while he was on the job.
His partner was a much better trial lawyer,but it turned out his partner wasn't actually an attorney,just a guy who conned his way through murder trials.Tells you something.
things ought to be interesting in Providence.I hope Taveras has something beside academic knowledge when he tackles the pile of sewage Cicilline left.He's seems like a decent enough man,but maybe a little naive.

Posted by: joe bernstein at January 3, 2011 1:59 PM

Beat cops who later go on to law school make for notoriously incompetent/seedy attorneys. It's like a football coach going to med school - it just doesn't work, the skill sets and personalities required are too different. Law is an academic pursuit and can't be approached from a "street-wise" perspective, see e.g., basketball hot-shot AG Lynch.

Which reminds me- enjoy the new AG, Rhode Island. A quick glance at his bio is all it takes to realize you're in for a long term of deeply entrenched RI-brand hackery. Perhaps in 2014 you'll run an electable Republican or Independent instead of a Judge Dredd nutjob who thinks the solution to every issue (and some non-issues like marijuana) is a 30-year jail sentence without parole, and that the AG should be able to remove local politicians at will.

Posted by: Dan at January 3, 2011 3:06 PM

Talk about bias. I personally know a few cops turned lawyers that have done very well for themselves. These guys aren't the same head crackers of the past. They're coming into the job highly educated. Look at Smithfield for example, they require a 4 year degree to apply. Just like anything in life, it all depends on the individual.

Posted by: Max Diesel at January 3, 2011 10:16 PM

Wow-I wasn't generalizing about cops turned lawyer-I was just relating a particular situation from back in the 70's.

Posted by: joe bernstein at January 4, 2011 8:00 AM
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