Archive for the ‘Overreaching Government’ Category

Where’s the Check and Balance on Judicial Overreach?

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Last week, Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin issued a temporary restraining order on a portion of Governor Tim Pawlenty’s unallotments (executive decision to cut spending without legislative approval). The basis of this decision was that the Governor used his unallotment authority in a way not used before by announcing his intention to unallot prior to the start of the fiscal year.

In other words it’s the timing. The statute gives the executive branch unallotment powers when the revenues are less than anticipated. Judge Gearin’s argument is that the budget shortfall was not unanticipated when he announced his intention to unallot at the end of 2009 Legislative session, therefore the Governor overreached his constitutional authority. Presumably, Judge Gearin is acting as a “check and balance” on the Executive Branch.

But let’s not lose sight of the fact that the Legislature and the Governor were never going to come to an agreement on the overall budget. The Democrat controlled Legislature continued to send spending bills to the Governor that would require tax increases to pay for them. The Governor is staunchly opposed to tax increases. Unallotment was the last mechanism to balance the budget and end the session on time, which by the way is also in the constitution.

So Judge Gearin stepped in the middle of a dispute between the Legislative Branch and Executive Branch and made the decision for them. House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher (a DFL candidate for Governor) immiedately went to the press to hail udge Gearin’s decision and denounce the Governor’s overreach. Likewise, DFL candidate for Governor Matt Entenza called the Governor’s unallotment action “hatchet tactics” (Interesting choice of words, considering the opposition research he authorized on fellow DFLer Mike Hatch in a power struggle between the two leading up to the 2006 election.)  

The question then becomes where is the check and balance on the judicial branch? I’m no lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but it could be just as easily argued that Judge Gearin overreached by issuing a temporary restraining order to reinstate $5.3 million of spending on a dietary program.

When the Legislature and the Governor have a dispute, the people can easily speak through the ballot box to settle the dispute. With judges, it’s not that simple. Yes, I know. In Minnesota we elect our judges. But when can anyone recall an incumbent judge who was ever voted out of office?

Furthermore, those who are in the know will tell you Judge Gearin leans to the left politically and is a DFL sympathizer. Just go back to the Coleman-Franken recount. Judge Gearin was part of the three-judge panel that heard Colman’s case. Norm Coleman did not catch one break during the whole ordeal. Thousands of ballots reviewed, and dozens of rulings issued. One would think that by accident, Coleman would catch one break. Nope.

The good news is that Judge Gearin’s ruling is not the end of the story. Most likely the final decision will lie with the Minnesota Supreme Court. Hopefully, more rational heads will prevail with the final decision.

When Will They Ever Learn?

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

On July 25, 2009, I wrote a post regarding Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s position on the census, and how her position was misrepresented by Senator Amy Klobuchar and some in the mainstream media. Well, if WCCO TV news anchor Esme Murphy were an East Central Truth Detector reader, maybe she wouldn’t have posted this blog that is so factually inaccurate it, well, it corroborates everything we already know about the mainstream media and its so-called “objective” journalists.

The result of Ms. Murphy’s haste to get some humorous irony out there, is that the reader can’t even get past the headline without out being hit between the eyes with a blatant falsehood. The headline, “Bachmann’s Seat Threatened After Census Remarks” reveals left-leaning media hacks almost wetting their pants with excitement before they can blurt out, “It serves her right.” The premise, of course is that if Minnesota loses a congressional seat because of too few people being counted, it could very well be Bachmann’s 6th district that will be eliminated.

Unfortunately, the premise behind the headline is not rooted in fact. Congresswoman Bachmann has never said that she refuses to be counted. In the media’s haste to bash Bachmann, they link her concerns about the invasive questions regarding income commute times, race and home ownership with the possibility of Minnesota losing a congressional seat. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here, in part, is my e-mail to Esme Murphy. I’ll post again if I get a response:

Did you or anyone in your newsroom bother to do any research before you posted “Bachmann’s Seat Threatened after Census Remarks”?
There is nothing about Michele Bachmann’s position on the census that threatens the loss of a congressional district in Minnesota. Not one iota. Bachmann is willing to be counted, with her household.   An accurate count of residents is all that is needed for congressional apportionment. 
Her objection is the questions in the census form that ask residents to provide information that should be none of the federal government’s business. The federal government doesn’t need to know our income, our race, how far we drive to work or whether we own the home we live in.
I know that you probably avoid having to use the bankrupt newspaper in Minneapolis as a reference, but  the Star Tribune did one article on this issue back in June that was fairly accurate. Here is the quote attributed to Bachmann in the article:
“I’m saying, for myself and my family, our comfort level is we will comply with the Constitution Article I Section II,” Bachmann told a Fox News interviewer. “We will give the number of people in our home, and that’s where we’re going to draw the line.” Here is the full article, if you care to take the time to learn her real position and the facts: http://www.startribune.com/politics/national/senate/49104281.html?page=1&c=y.
A July 23, 2009 Los Angeles Times blog, in spite of its misleading headline stated that Bachmann introduced legislation that requires people to provide to the Census Bureau name, date, contact information and the number of people living at the same address. See: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2009/07/minnesota-rep-bachmann-creates-a-stir-refusing-to-fill-our-census-form.html.
I don’t watch WCCO news, so I’m not really concerned whether you go the way of the print media in Minneapolis, but if you care, you might want to be a little more diligent in learning the facts before perpetuating a myth under the guise of journalism.

I agree with Bachmann on the Census

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

I hesitate to write anything about Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota’s sixth congressional district. I’ll admit, I’m conflicted. As a center-right conservative with a libertarian streak, I agree with the Congresswoman on most issues. If I were a member of Congress, I would probably be voting the same as her 90-95 percent of the time. However as a Republican, she frustrates me. Bachmann represents what is supposed to be the safest Republican congressional district in Minnesota. Yet because of her, shall we say eccentric and erratic ways, my party ends up putting precious time, money and other resources into pulling her out of the fire at election time when she should be winning by decisive margins.  Precious time, money and other resources that could be put into other close races.

And personally? Michele Bachmann doesn’t care who she steps on as she climbs the ladder of her political career. Now, this may not be an unusual attribute for many politicians, but I guess I’m a little too close to the situation to look the other way. I have good conservative friends who have been stepped on by Michele Bachmann – people whose own careers in politics suffered because of her ambition to advance her own.

But anyway, this is the East Central Truth Detector, and there are some misconceptions out there regarding what the Congresswoman said or didn’t say about the census which I will attempt to clarify.

Michele Bachman is not refusing to have herself and her household be counted! Yet everyone from the media to Sen. Amy Klobuchar are out there seem to be saying that that Bachmann does not want to be counted. This Los Angeles Times Blog is a good example of the conflicting information that is out there. The headline reads “Count Rep. Michele Bachmannas Unwilling to be Counted in the Census”. Yet the article goes on to state that a bill she is sponsoring a bill that requires people to provide to the Census Bureau name, date, contact information and the number of people living at the same address.

What Bachmann is saying is that there are too many invasive questions that go along with the census that the government has no business asking. And I agree. Here is Bachmann’s statement to Fox News, as quoted in this Minneapolis Star Tribune article: “I’m saying, for myself and my family, our comfort level is we will comply with the Constitution Article I Section II,”  Bachmann told a Fox News interviewer. “We will give the number of people in our home, and that’s where we’re going to draw the line.”

Giving credit where credit is due, at least the Star Tribune reported Bachmann’s position correctly when the news first broke. But now people including Klobuchar are wailing and gnashing their teeth saying that Minnesota could lose a congressional seat if everyone isn’t counted. They are saying that Minnesota is on the bubble of losing a congressional seat, and congressoinal representation is at stake. 

No, it’s not. Bachmann is saying, count me and my household, but don’t ask me all the other questions that go with the census. There is nothing about that position that puts our congressional representation at stake. Furthermore, given the overall representation Minnesota has in Congress right now, I say no big loss.  If the issue is money, any money appropriated from the federal government based on population will not be in jeopardy if people are willing to be counted, but refuse to answer the invasive questions.

So I agree. Count me and my household. I’ll even throw in our ages and genders and number of pets (zero). But I consider it to be none of the federal government’s business (though they can probably find out through other means) what my income is, what my race or ethnicity is, my commute time, or anything else. As far as I’m concerned, dollars allocated from the federal government based on these questions should be sent back to the people who earned those dollars in the first place.

Now they say it’s a violation of federal law to not fully fill out the census form, subject to a fine of up to $5,000. But a little civil disobedience now and then is a good thing, right?