Where is L'Italien during probation revelation?

Editor, Townsman:

The recent news has been filled with the stunning but not surprising revelation that the Probation Department of the Massachusetts Trial Court employs at least 250 friends, relatives, and financial political backers of various Democratic politicians.

The Democratic leadership at the Statehouse has "appointed" John O'Brien to the life time position of Chief of the Probation Department and granted him carte blanche to hire whomever he pleases. O'Brien effectively runs one-third of the state court system's budget. The Chief Justice for Administration, Robert Mulligan, has complained that while the legislature has cut the Trial Court budget during the current recession, it has stripped him of authority to transfer funds from the Probation Department to other departments more in need.

Lurking in the background is that the Democratically controlled Statehouse is responsible for the salaries of the judges (judges have had one salary adjustment in 10 years) and a number of important Democratic lawyer-legislators practice before the courts. These facts, combined with the Statehouse's undue influence over employment in the Probation Department represent a serious intrusion by the legislature on the independence of the judiciary, a separate branch of goverment under the Massachusetts Constitution. The solution is to return the running of the Probation Department to the judiciary where it has been historically and where it belongs to keep cronyism out of the court system.

The House Committee on Ways and Means is heavily involved in the funding of the court system. Andover State Rep. Barbara L'Italien is Vice Chairwoman of the Committee on Ways and Means and as such is a significant player in the Democratic leadership. While this appalling situation is festering and crying out for correction, what have we heard from L'Italien? Nothing.

William E. Melahn

18 Ballardvale Road

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