Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Even If It's Legal, It's Not Right

I’m referring to the Governor’s strong arm tactics to push a qualified educator out of his job in order to get his own man in.
Gov. Bevin was within his rights to name an all new state education commission board—which he did.        
The new board was within its right (its only duty apparently) to push out (fired is a better word) the present commissioner (who had received a glowing report for his work from the old board just last fall) and install an “interim” commissioner while seeking a full-time head.
There are real problems with this entirely “legal” action, which is why it is not “right”.
1—it is a return to the brute force power politics of an age many of us hoped was past.
2---were I a betting man I would now bet , 99 & 44/100%, the new commissioner will be a Kentuckian. Why? NO smart, qualified out-of-stater would accept the job...knowing no matter how well he/she did, they could be fired on a political whim of one man. And also the guv wants his own man/woman in the job. The odds are the best person will NOT be selected...at a time when Kentucky had been receiving national praise for some of our KERA-reforms, and at a time when we are dealing with new problems, and need the best possible person at the helm—whether a Kentuckian or not.
This year’s stupid action will set Kentucky back for years.
3—In an excellent editorial last Sunday, the Herald-Leader pointed out several  laws were broken in selecting the new interim head. While too late to save Dr. Pruitt, these actions should be challenged in court.
4---This was one more example of the guv poking teachers in the eye, needlessly.
5—News reports indicate this was all planned, for some time, as a means to get Charter Schools implemented here, whether the tax-paying public wanted them or not.   
6—Neither 4 nor 5 are good politics for any party here.
It’s a good idea, on multi-member commissions, to have overlapping terms. (This has been true for years on major groups such as the UK board of trustees.) The legislature should quickly move to give this commission a better arrangement for such terms, perhaps by setting up a 3 or 4 year period for such terms, instead of 2 groups,  so no one governor can pull what Bevin legally did; or at least making sure the governor has popular support over  two  elections.
All of this should be remembered in November by all voters, not just the teachers and their friends.
I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Lest We Forget

Presidential Oath of Office: “ I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend  the Constitution of the United States.”
 Congressional Oath of Office: “ I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same...”
Constitution, Article 1, Section 8... "Congress shall have the power to...declare war,”
LAST TIME CONGRESS DECLARED WAR:  Dec 8, 1941, as urged by FDR against Japan (and Axis powers)
I am well aware that almost all Presidents since FDR have not done this; whether Democrat or Republican. Truman had a “police action” in Korea, Bush went after non-existant WMD in Iraq, and Trump has now twice violated his oath and the Constitution in Syria. This last time he had plenty of time to get Congress to pass a war declaration---plenty of time—but he choose to go ahead without one.
That is grounds for Impeachment and it should be done.
No excuses folks!  Either we believe in our Constitution, all of it, or we don’t. Some will say there are other grounds that should be used, but this is the clearest and most unassailable.  I don’t know that Vice President Pence would be much better, but that is beside the point. My conscience is clear.  I have argued against so called “War Powers Resolutions" that Congress occasionally passes ever since Truman, as violating the Constitution. There is NO logic in saying Congress can pass a law or resolution to amend the Constitution, there is a clearly prescribed process for amendments. War Resolutions aren’t it.
Pity, just as Nixon’s greatest achievement was the “opening to China," which no Democrat could have done, I had hopes Mr. Trump could somehow negotiate a deal to defuse the potentially tragic situation with North Korea; but that too must wait.
If you believe in the American Revolution (and I do); if you believe in what the founding fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence (and I do) and the Constitution (and I do); and the Bill of Rights (and I do)---then there is no course left but to actively urge our Congressmen and Senators to introduce and support impeachment, and ask them about it at every possible opportunity.
Otherwise we can never call ourselves truly Americans.
I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Is Governor Bevin Just Donald Trump Lite?

Well, No, but Trump got the memo, Bevin didn’t.
By “Memo” I mean all the horrible things Speaker Paul Ryan told Trump would happen if he vetoed the US budget. Trump, wisely, backed down.  Bevin didn’t.
Now what?
Well, I am not sure.  I can’t remember Kentucky ever being in this situation. If the returning legislature fails to overturn the vetoes (on one or both) we are in big trouble. Our state constitution requires a balanced budget (which without the tax bill he vetoed we don’t have) and a budget before the new fiscal year. There isn’t time left in the regular session, so that means a special session, at quite an UNnecessary expense to we taxpayers.
Only the guv can call a special session, a loophole in the legislature’s power which needs changing by amendment. But once the legislature does come to Frankfort, it can immediately adjourn; which it just might do to spite Bevin. More problems. Even if it succeeds in passing acceptable (to the guv) bills later, Democrats are sure to jump on those unnecessary expenses involved. and rightly so.
But much more likely is the failure of the Grand Old Party to overturn the veto. This could be done by giving the legislators time to read the 2 bills which almost no one has done, and that could alter the votes in both parties and both chambers. More problems.
Also those shouting protestors, teachers and tax advocates and lobbyists of all persuasions have a new chance to get into the act. Who knows what sewer bill might be found in the waning moments of the session to do more damage?
Or, that independent tax study which points out the tax bill favors the very rich in our state (sur-prise!!!) could change the votes. Who knows?
For those of us who hoped a needed change in Frankfort, would came about with Republican control of both chambers, we are now much more unhappy. Both parties have shown a great ability to be UNfair to the other party when they are in control, and the people’s  business is strangled.  No one seems to have learned this is NOT the way voters want things done in our capital.
Right now the GOP is the one taking it on the chin. No matter what happens when lawmakers return this weekend, RPK is the loser—and it’s their own fault, or at least the fault of the titular head of that party.
I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Our Present Legislature, Past And Future

I’ve covered legislatures in 5 states, and I am appalled at the recent actions of our Kentucky General Assembly ---not that other states haven’t been up to those same shenanigans, or even that past Kentucky legislatures haven’t done the same, but there is still no justification for their actions.
To take major pieces of legislation; the budget and the pension overhaul, kept them secret, fail to hold public hearings on the final versions, keep lawmakers of BOTH parties in the dark til the last minute, failing to give time to read the bills---and break its own rules during the process—that simply is much too much.       
The GOP camapigned on “transparency," a word I dislike but it means to bring  things out in the open so all citizens can understand what’s going on, and make their views known to their representatives in Frankfort –that pledge is now in shambles, and I hope voters will remember that come May and November.
But I also must point out that the Democrats have acted this way in the past, too; though perhaps not quite as much or on as serious as these matters. The Dems also ran roughshod over opponents in committee, cut time on the floor for amendments and debate, etc.  Republicans promised not to behave this way if they got into office, and we now see how little that pledge meant. (I wish I were confident that should the Dems take over either house they would behave differently, but I doubt it. Too much past history to the contrary.) 
As to the future, were I a betting man, I would wager that the courts will ultimately strike down the pension plan. Mainly because the GOP-controlled chambers violated their own rules by not providing an acturarial report, which the law requires. To me, that makes the actions indefensible and worthy of being tossed out. Similar rules MAY apply to the budget, but the courts have been more lenient on things like this in the past.
Should the pension plan be tossed out, stand by for a special session, UNnecessary & expensive.
Should the governor veto either one, in whole or by line item veto we may be in a new world of hurt.
I am happy the legislature restored many of the governor’s cuts, but why did they not understand the importance of the University Press of Kentucky? (operated by UK on behalf of many of our state colleges and universities.)  Without it, who will publish important research on our issues or our past history and culture?
What a lovely mess. 
I'm just sayin'...