April 3, 2009

Because They're Better than You

Justin Katz

At some point it just becomes clear that our rulers have so little concern for the rest of us that even considerations of appearances go out the custom-trimmed window:

Frank J. Williams stepped down as chief justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court in December, but he continues to work as a judge and recently moved into a new office in the Licht Judicial Complex that cost nearly $43,000 to renovate.

Most of the money was spent on custom mahogany cabinets, shelving and doors — at a cost of $29,475. The invoice for the work shows that the contractors used "custom knives" to duplicate molding and that it took 173 hours to refashion the office space, on the seventh floor of the courthouse, at a cost of $46.80 per hour.

Perhaps Home Depot was out of the $1.43-per-foot trim that most folks use in their homes. But that doesn't explain the hiding of the semi-retired judge's crib:

Supreme Court Administrator J. Joseph Baxter Jr. refused to let a Journal reporter see the remodeled chambers because, he said, "it's a private office in a nonpublic area" of the courthouse.

The Supreme Court offices, conference rooms and courtroom take the entire seventh floor of the sprawling courthouse on South Main Street. "It's Mr. Baxter’s feeling that you need the permission of the justice [Williams] to see those particular chambers," said Craig Berke, spokesman for the court system.

Williams, who used to invite reporters into his former chambers for interviews and was the subject of a Workspaces profile by The Wall Street Journal in 2001, was not amenable to showing off his new office to a reporter this week.

Methinks the new revolution shouldn't stop at tea parties.

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FWIW, Jusge Williams was on Cianci's show today explaining to a caller that part of the cost was due to the historic status of the building. Cianci confirmed that when his old house off Benefit St got it's fence driven through by a RISD student, the Historical Society controlled everything about the replacement section. (I happen to know that the Hysterical Society has held up the construction of the Providence Fire Museum for at least a year over the type of materials used to renovate the roof that no one will see.)

Williams also invited the caller to see the chambers for herself.

Posted by: EMT at April 3, 2009 7:32 PM

Williams is a Pompous ASS!! Period!!!

Perhaps we should all ask that he NOT be allowed to further serve the people of RI for which he seems to have such low esteem!

The Rule of Law? Not under his Judiciary... Protect the political hacks who provided his Budget, You better believe it!!

Just ask Montalbano, Irons or Alves!

Posted by: Aldo at April 3, 2009 7:56 PM

Doesn't it seem peculiar to you, EMT, that there's always someone else to blame for indulging one's self in Rhode Island? I note no mention of the historical society in the article, but this is curious:

It was formerly occupied by the court's grammarian and interns, Berke said, and had been configured not as a chambers for a justice, but as an office with three work stations.

Did the historical society take an interestin the office space, as well?

Sounds like spin, to me.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 3, 2009 10:35 PM

The RI Historical Society and the Providence Preservation Society are usually pretty good about picking and choosing their battles. BTW, Buddy lived in a very historic house, on arguably the most historic street in the entire state. Everyone on Benefit St. knows what they are getting into when they buy there, the good and historical, as well as the inconvenient. We have a great wealth of architectural heritage that is unique and worth preserving for future generations.

I really doubt that either organization expressed much, if any concern over Justice Williams' private office space, in a place where virtually no one other than him will ever be in a position to see. Do you think they cared about whether or not his bookshelves were made out of mahogany? It's a red herring.

PS Of course, Aldo is right. I can only imagine what Jim C. is thinking right now. ;)

Posted by: Will at April 4, 2009 1:34 AM

The lack of restraint has become a chief feature of the highest levels of governance, including the most senior ranks of the judiciary.

If they won't show self-restraint, then, they must be shown restraint.

What is the mechanism?

Posted by: Chairm at April 4, 2009 1:38 AM

I was just reporting what he said, with my own addition that it makes some sense knowing what I do about the Hysterical Society (holding up a project for so long over roofing materials that the building is never finished? Come on).

Williams was also quite upset about what he termed as the aggressive, "intimidating" approach the Projo reporter took with his staff while preparing her "hack job."

I just figured that since I heard the man's own words on the same day as the blog post, it might be worth a mention.

Posted by: EMT at April 4, 2009 3:32 AM
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