Thursday, December 18, 2008

Supreme Court Issues Final Chapter on SOP

Over four years after 78.3% of Rhode Island voters spoke loudly in demand of Separation of Powers (SOP), their will has been validated. Today the Rhode Island Supreme Court issued an advisory opinion that loudly and clearly enforces the will of the people of Rhode Island in their demand for checks and balances. The issue now is settled, the final chapter is written, and Separation of Powers is ready to be put to rest.

The Supreme Court ruled on four questions submitted by the House of Representatives with regard to the 2004 amendment. Three questions dealt with whether the powerful Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) is subject to the amendment. A fourth question asked whether or not the governor’s power to appoint the members of all state executive boards and commissions, with the Senate’s advice and consent, is “self-executing.” In other words, did that power go in to effect when the voters passed it, or does the General Assembly need to pass additional legislation before the amendment can go into effect? The court’s answers are clear; the CRMC is subject to SOP and the SOP amendment is self-executing.

Click here to read the Court’s opinion

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Executive Director for Common Cause RI

John Marion has been named the Executive Director of Common Cause RI. Common Cause RI is a non-partisan advocacy group which works for open, ethical and accountable government. Marion takes the helm of RI’s most effective “citizens’ lobby” at a time when Rhode Island government faces challenges on many fronts.

According to Kevin McAllister, President of the RI Common Cause Governing Board, “John Marion will provide a strong voice for Rhode Island’s citizens. His energy and grasp of the workings of government will make him an effective spokesperson and advocate for Common Cause RI. Under his leadership, Common Cause RI will continue to fight for the implementation of the Separation of Powers amendment; a strong Ethics Commission; clean elections; and open, accountable governance in the executive, legislative and judicial branches.”

John Marion comes to Common Cause RI with a deep knowledge of the issues and dynamics of state and national politics. He has eight years of experience teaching American government at the university level. Marion is a graduate of Binghamton University in New York and did extensive graduate work in Political Science at Indiana University. His research focus included: state politics, policy and administration; elections, campaign finance and candidate behavior; and the role of non-governmental institutions in elections. Marion has served as an Instructor at Indiana University Bloomington, a Visiting and Adjunct Lecturer at Indiana University South Bend and an Instructor with the Indiana University School of Continuing Studies.

John Marion and his family moved to Providence, RI in 2001 and he continued to teach as an on-line instructor with the Indiana University Department of Continuing Studies. Marion and his wife, Karen Ng, a physician employed by Providence Community Health Centers, have twin daughters.

John Marion succeeds Christine Lopes as Executive Director. Christine joined Common Cause RI in 2006 and is leaving to complete her master’s degree in public administration at Suffolk University in Boston.