Archive for the ‘Executive Branch’ Category

Michigan Proposal 1 of 2012: The Emergency Manager Law

October 25, 2012

Back in 2008, I went through and analyzed each of the proposals, so I figured I would do that again.  And there’s no better place to start than Proposal 1.

To start off, here is the actual ballot language:

PROPOSAL 12-1

A REFERENDUM ON PUBLIC ACT 4 OF 2011 –

THE EMERGENCY MANAGER LAW

Public Act 4 of 2011 would:

  • Establish criteria to assess the financial condition of local government units, including school districts.
  • Authorize Governor to appoint an emergency manager (EM) upon state finding of a financial emergency, and allow the EM to act in place of local government officials.
  • Require EM to develop financial and operating plans, which may include modification or termination of contracts, reorganization of government, and determination of expenditures, services, and use of assets until the emergency is resolved.
  • Alternatively, authorize state-appointed review team to enter into a local government approved consent decree.
  • Should this law be approved?

YES ____

NO ____

Now, in 2008, I analyzed the whole text of the amendment, but since this is a referendum on an already-passed bill, I’m going to skip that, and go straight to my analysis.  A copy of the full text can be found here.

Emergency managers are not new to the state.  This is actually a bill that amends Public Act 72 of 1990.

There were two major criticisms of the original law:

  1. Emergency financial managers were put in when it was too late.
  2. Once they were put in, they could do too little.

So, the Legislature tried to remedy this.  They added more triggers for when an emergency could be declared, and they gave the managers more powers.

Two of the powers the managers were given were especially controversial: the ability to remove elected officials from the municipality, and the ability to change or void collective bargaining agreements that the municipality had entered into.

Unions especially hated the latter provision, and they characterized it as a means of union busting.  But ultimately, it was a necessary provision, because time and time again, in struggling school districts and municipalities, unions have refused to give concessions, even when keeping their current contracts means the municipality will go bankrupt (and then, ironically, they would not get paid at all).  It was the stubbornness of the unions that made the provision necessary.

The second criticism was that it removed citizens democratic rights to elect their municipality leaders.  Ultimately, this is not a Constitutional right guaranteed to the people of Michigan.  The ability to hold municipal elections is not a Constitutional provision, and the state can take this privilege away if it so chooses.

My criticism was unlike these two and had to do with the expansion of when an “emergency” took place.  It included a clause that essentially said that an emergency could be defined as when the state executive branch says it’s occurring, and I viewed this as an overstep by the executive branch (although it did have weak limited checks and balances).

So that was my reason for initially thinking I would vote, “No”.  But as I thought about it more, I realized that my opposition was the minority opposition, and if it failed, it would fail because of provisions that I thought were good.  And if the law failed, it probably wouldn’t be introduced again.  Ultimately, there is more good in the law than bad, and I believe that the Legislature can (and should) fix the law if it passes the referendum.  The problems in the law should be fixed in the Legislature, not at the ballot box, and that is why I am supporting Proposal 1.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Federal Judge Rules Bush’s Aides (Like Karl Rove) Can Be Subpoenaed

August 1, 2008

So, as I said, before, a case looking into executive privilege in regards to subpoenas from Congress was in a federal court, and the federal judge, U.S. District Judge John Bates (a Bush-nominated Judge), ruled that Bush’s aides are NOT exempt from Congressional subpoenas.

The full Memorandum Opinion can be read here (it’s 93 pages long, otherwise I’d stick the whole quote in here).  Since it’s so long, I’ll give two key quotes that pretty much summarize the opinion:

  • “Harriet Miers [and Josh Bolten] is not immune from compelled congressional process; she is legally required to testify pursuant to a duly issued congressional subpoena.”
  • Regarding the lack of case law for White House aides being immune from Congressional subpoena: “That simple yet critical fact bears repeating: the asserted absolute immunity claim here is entirely unsupported by existing case law.”

And that’s really the problem here.  Executive orders have been used since  1789, and that gives the Executive Branch some limited power to influence and shape laws without actually making new laws.  The Supreme Court RARELY overturns these, and although Bush didn’t issue an executive order here, the same principle applies.  The difference is that Bush has VASTLY overstepped the bounds of the executive branch, and is now completely reshaping things and taking us into unknown territory.

I agree with Bates’s opinion, and have previously said (here and here) that Rove should testify to Congress (although Rove isn’t mentioned in this case, his predicament came after Miers’s and Bolten’s, but he’s essentially in the same place as Bolten and Miers, so this will apply to him as well).

Now, let’s get to the reactions:

  • “We disagree with the district court’s decision.”  White House press secretary Dana  Perino
  • “I have not yet talked with anyone at the White House … and don’t expect that this matter will be finally resolved in the very near future.”  Robert Luskin, Karl Rove’s attorney
  • “It certainly strengthens our hand.  This decision should send a clear signal to the Bush administration that it must cooperate fully with Congress and that former administration officials Harriet Miers and Karl Rove must testify before Congress.”  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
  • “We look forward to the White House complying withthis ruling and to scheduling future hearings with Ms. Miers and other witnesses who have relied on such claims.  We hope that the defendants will accept this decision and expect that we will receive relevant documents and call Ms. Miers to testify in September.”  Representative John Conyers (D-MI), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
  • “I look forward to working with the White House and the Justice Department to coordinate the long overdue appearances.”  Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee
  • “I’m sure it will be appealed and it will go on into next year, and it will become a moot issue.”  House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), in regards to the fact that the subpoena will expire at the end of the 110thCongress in January.  Several Democrats have siad that they expect that the subpoenas will be reissued if and when they keep the Congress in this upcoming election.
  • “Unfortunately, today’s victory may be short-lived.  If the administration appeals the ruling, our congressional prerogatives will once again be put at risk.” Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), Ranking Republican in the House Judiciary Committee.

I could not agree MORE with Lamar Smith (and the fact that a major Republican is siding with the Democrats and the Judge shows that Bush is in the wrong).  Smith, unlike some Republicans is not making this a partisan issue, but wants to keep the power that has been given to Congress in Congress’s hands (and thus, partly in his hands).  These cases simply don’t happen – Congress and the White House normally simply compromise.  The fact that this was taken to court means that there is now a LEGAL precedent set.  But before those who are happy with this precedent start celebrating, we must remember that precedents and rulings can be overturned by higher courts.  If a higher Court, and ultimately the Supreme Court rules to overturn this ruling, Congress will be hating themselves for not simply COMPROMISING with Bush.  Congress will lose a power that they’ve taken for granted, possibly forever.

I DO hope that the Bush administration doesn’t appeal this, but I think that they will.  I hope Congress prevails.  The executive branch has overstepped it’s power, and needs to be stopped.  Miers, Bolten, and Rove should ALL testify.  And the Bush administration needs to remember that if this ruling gets overturned, this precedent will remain in effect when the Republicans control the Congress and are trying to subpoena Democratic aides.

I have faith in the system, and I really don’t see how Bush can win any case here, but weirder things HAVE happened.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Senator Chuck Hagel On Hannity & Colmes: Stop Big Government Spending, the Iraq War, and Conservativism

April 11, 2008

So on March 26th, Senator Chuck Hagel the Great (R-NE) was interviewed by Sean Hannity the Great (R) and Alan Colmes (D) on the Hannity & Colmesshow, to discuss the war in Iraq, conservativism, government spending, and his new book America: Our Next Chapter: Tough Questions, Straight Answers.  Here’s a video of the interview:

And here’s a couple of quick quotes that I liked of Senator Hagel’s:

  • Well, I don’t know if you define your position on the war based on your conservative credentials.  I mean, there are some pretty significant conservatives out there the late William F. Buckley was a pretty significant critic.
  • I have always defined my position on the war based on what I think our interests are.
  • I was against that [Medicare spending], I voted against it.  I voted against No Child Left Behind.  I voted against the real big government type programs.

So, again, I really enjoyed this interview with the Senator – it shows some great principles, especially that we HAVE to cut out all of this pork barrel spending and earmarks.  Earmarks are SOMETIMES (but not very often) ok in small amounts and for certain circumstances (the Office of Management and Budget “(OMB) defines earmarks as funds provided by the Congress for projects or programs where the congressional direction (in bill or report language) circumvents Executive Branch merit-based or competitive allocation processes, or specifies the location or recipient, or otherwise curtails the ability of the Executive Branch to manage critical aspects of the funds allocation process.”), but they should NEVER be tacked on to bills as pork.  I am very glad that John McCain has promised that he would veto all bills with pork attached to them.

Again, I heard a lot of good things from Senator Hagel here, and I express my wishes that he’ll seek another public office.  America needs someone like him.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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