Sunday, March 28, 2010

Standard-Examiner: Some Worry Protective Hatch Act Now Just a Political Tool

Seems to us that it's time for Attorney General Shurtleff to stop flapping his lip, and get to work filing a lawsuit right about now

The Standard-Examiner provides two informative articles this morning, examining the federal Hatch Act, and its plainly "chilling effect" on our ongoing 2010 local General Elections process.

1) Dan Weist provides this excellent story, which includes a sampling of highly critical comments from a variety of political figures within the local political arena:
Some worry protective Hatch Act now just a political tool
2) In a second companion story,Tim Gurrister examines the effect of the Hatch Act on Ogden police lieutenant Scott Conley's now-aborted 2010 Weber County Sheriff campaign run and offers a few more pithy quotes:
Ogden Police Lt. Scott Conley not running for sheriff because of Hatch Act
Distilling the facts from these two morning stories, one thing seems clear. Nobody in the local political arena seems pleased with impact the U.S. Office of Special Council's heavy-handed Hatch Act enforcement is wreaking upon our 2010 General Elections.

We believe Weber County Sheriff candidate Terry Thompson gets it exactly right with this extended quote from the second article cited above:
Terry Thompson, commander over Weber County Jail, is running for sheriff and has been researching the Hatch Act, which he had been confident doesn't apply to him. While the sheriff's office does receive federal funds, none goes to any correctional programs he runs, he said.
But given the OSC's recent decisions regarding Greiner and Conley, Thompson said, "I'm going to have to do some more research."
He called the Hatch Act "kind of ridiculous. It's morphed into something it was never intended to be."
"I don't see the danger it's trying to protect us from. The real tragedy is, it's interpreted so broadly and so vaguely to include good people like Jon and Scott."
With 3,084 sheriffs in the country, for example, the OSC can't possibly monitor all elections nationally for Hatch Act violations, Thompson said.
"So it's enforced by complaint only and just becomes a political tool for people to use."
And as per usual, our ever-savvy Councilwoman Amy Wicks, a 2010 candidate for the Weber County Commission herself, cuts through the baloney and also hits the nail on the head:
Amy Wicks, a member of the Ogden City Council who has filed to seek a Weber County Commission seat, researched the Hatch Act even though her full-time job as information and research specialist with the Ogden-based National Shaken Baby Syndrome Center has no federal funding.
City council members only become involved with federal funds after the fact in approving budgets, she said.
Her study of the Hatch Act has left her skeptical. "I'm not really sure what we're being protected from. It's probably time to reassess it. Is what was valid in 1939 valid in 2010?"
So in that connection we'll link the following scholarly Jason C. Miller law review article, which we googled up from the very bowels of the webosphere this morning, which expands upon Sheriff's Deputy Thompson's and Councilwoman Wicks's major points, focuses on the federal law’s coverage of state and local employees and examines a) whether the Act would pass constitutional muster under modern tests, b) whether the Hatch Act is desirable as a matter of policy, and c) what alternatives could achieve the policy goals of the Act without an absolute prohibition on candidacy for partisan office.
The Unwise and Unconstitutional Hatch Act: Why State and Local Government Employees Should be Free to Run for Public Office
The situation even has Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff all riled up:
But Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who advised Greiner in 2006 that he would not be in violation of the act if he ran for the Senate, believes the Greiner decision is another example of the federal government overstepping its reach into the lives of everyday citizens who serve the public by running for public office.
"It's just wrong," he said.
"If it is allowed to stand, it will have a chilling effect on other people who may want to run."
Seems to us that it's time for Attorney General Shurtleff to stop flapping his lip, and get to work filing a lawsuit right about now. Shurtleff and some of his GOP legislative cronies have been bravely talking up Tenth Amendment issues since the beginning of the 2010 legislative session. They've been bristling for a big "state sovereignty" lawsuit for quite some time. Perhaps its time to put their money where their mouths is... no? Now's their chance, we think. We're sure Professor Miller wouldn't mind their "borrowing" his scholarly work.

Don't let the cat get your tongues, O Gentle Ones.


This is what I'm talking about said...

I think that the Hatch act is all about electing Law makers not law breakers, such as greiner. He is to obey the law and instead he disregarded the law and became a law unto himself. Whether you agree or not the law is the law. What if we said I don't agree with this law or that law and so I can pick and choose which law to obey, I guess we can then be in mass kaoss, Right!

blackrulon said...

The articles on the Hatch Act violations are merely laying the groundwork for Greiner to decline to resign as chief of police. This is part of the S-E complaince and basic submission to the whims and wishes of Godfrey. After all of the talk from the mayor on funding projects he disagrees with how can it be justified to continue to pay for the legal defense of Jon Greiner? Where will we get the money to pay the resulting penalties. It is easy to continue a fight if someone else is paying all of the costs. There are many qualified people who could serve in the position of either chief of police or state senator. If Greiner and Godfrey wish to continue the legal challenge let them pay for it themselves. Ogden deserves a full time chief of police. They fought the ruling, they lost, accept the decision.

JEFF said...

The Hatch Act is fundimental for Government Employees or civil service in partisian elections. As a government employee would you like to see your supervisor run for office and then influence your vote with a promotion or bonus? Would you like to see buttons for elections at your base or on desks paid for with government/city funds? You personnal car is fine with bumper stickers.

I for one am now more involved after retirement, most knew my political views and even that may have lessened my promotions, but I followed my conscience.

Would youy like grants administered and paying for political gain especially here in the city or state?

Machster said...

What the three above said. They are right. All else is rubbish.

OgdenLover said...

Rudi, you say Shurtliff should put HIS money where his mouth is. Unfortunately, it would be OUR money. It's time our State and City governments started thinking responsibly when it comes to passing laws and lip flapping.

ozboy said...

What Shurtliff really ought to do is lay his mostly empty head on the rail road track next time a train rolls through.

What we really need is a law barring from office all neocons, morons and known crooks, sleaze balls and idiots - like Godfrey, Griener, etc, etc.

Curmudgeon said...

What folks seem to be discussing, mostly, is whether the Hatch act as it now exists is wise policy or not. That's a fair question worth discussing [though my tendencies, absent any strong evidence in the other direction, lie with Jeff above on this.]

But, as "That's What I'm Talking About" above notes, it is the law. And there's something not right about a law officer insisting that because he thinks the law as it now stands is unwise, even silly, that he he should be free to ignore it. [Unless Greiner is willing to tear up every speeding ticket for every driver who claims "a speed limit of XMPH on this road is silly, and so I don't have to obey it," he should resign as police chief. And, come to think of it, if he is willing to tear up tickets on that basis, he should resign as police chief.]

And just on general principles, I'm not sure it's wise policy to have making the laws the people charged with enforcing them.

Tonka said...

No one is following the laws anymore. I live in a nation of scofflaws. It is pathetic watching parents preach to their kids about being law abiding citizens.
Hell in a hand basket, and not because of Washington or SLC. Its because of you.

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