Archive | June, 2005

Psych

30 Jun

No, it’s not another Tom Cruise post.

The post at Buffalo Rising starts…can you imagine if Buffalo had a waterfront like this…
Continue reading

ECC at the trough

30 Jun

What Craig said:

The trustees of Erie Community College are shocked, shocked I tell you that the County Legislature had the audacity to suggest they roll back some hefty pay raises.

ECC trustees sharply defended President William J. Mariani and other managers, saying they have worked hard to boost enrollment and finances and deserve their pay.

I have no information which would refute that, but a lot of people around the County “deserve” pay raises. In our economic situation that’s not enough. And here’s a real knee-slapper.

The trustees slammed legislators for attacking the college – which has a balanced budget – while doing little to prevent the county from slipping into its current financial morass.

The college has a balanced budget? I say the college has a balanced budget? Um, not if the County doesn’t give it all the money it’s “requesting,” it won’t. Duh.

That’s $15.4 million in County money that goes to ECC as a subsidy.

Several legislators blasted Mariani’s contract, which provides him $185,498 per year, a county car with gas, incentive-based raises and a Buffalo Club membership paid for by the ECC Foundation.

Jesus Tapdancing Christ. $185k to run a 2-year school? You’ve got to be shitting me. And with 185k/year in Buffalo, you mean he can’t afford his own goddamn car to get from OP to Buffalo to Billyville and back again? And with 185k/year in Buffalo, you mean he can’t swing a tank of gas a couple of times a week?

And this:

Also Wednesday, trustee Raymond F. Gallagher and other trustees criticized the college’s agreement to host games of the Buffalo Rapids.

Gallagher said he’s concerned the team’s fans could damage the Flickinger Center – particularly if alcohol is served at games – and ECC may not be paid its full rental fee because of the league’s shaky finances.

“I don’t think it’s in the best interests of the college,” he said.

ECC had signed an agreement with Gary D. Nice, president and chief executive officer of the Rapids, to host 18 home games. The Rapids will pay at least $9,540 per game in rental fees, and the college should make $80,000 after costs, according to Daniel Penfold, executive vice president for student affairs.

The board considered denying permission to serve beer and wine at the games, a move that would cancel the deal.

But several trustees said the college needs to be consistent in its alcohol policy and noted other events have received permission to provide alcohol at the Flickinger Center.

So: basketball fans = destructive. No facts to back it up – just a wholesale fact-free prejudgment. Whoopdeedoo. We pay these guys?

It was a rather disgusting article.

Kelo again

30 Jun

I really don’t want this to become a Kelo blawg, but let me clarify something:

1. The Kelo decision merely follows 100 years’ worth of takings jurisprudence. Back in 1896 the SCOTUS expanded its definition of “public use”, and in the decades since has further expanded and/or clarified what constitutes a public use. You see, public use isn’t defined in the Constitution itself, so it’s up to the SCOTUS to fill in the blanks.

2. Kelo didn’t change much. The majority examined 100 years’ worth of takings jurisprudence and believed that its decision viz. Kelo was in line with that line of cases. The majority opinion isn’t some liberal big government imposition of arbitrary judicial power. And reasonable people can disagree with them. But the major theme I see in Kelo’s majority & concurrence is the idea of deferring to the local government’s decision as to what constitutes a “public use.” The court seems loath to override local elected officials. State’s rights, that.

3. O’Connor’s dissent is, in my mind, substantively much more reasonable and thoughtful than Thomas’ knee-jerk reaction. O’Connor would not get rid of the idea that the state can take property for a private use to, say, eliminate a blighted area. She objects to the idea of a taking for a directly private purpose with an ancillary public benefit. She might very well be right. But O’Connor wouldn’t and didn’t just ignore that same 100 years’ of takings jurisprudence; instead, she examined what the majority examined and came to a different conclusion. And she might very well be right.

4. Thomas’ dissent is just a knee-jerk strict constructionist diatribe that Scalia might as well have written. Thomas was doing nothing more than asking that the court completely obliterate that 100 years’ worth of takings jurisprudence. Just read his conclusory paragraph:

The Court [majority] relies almost exclusively on this Court’s prior cases to derive today’s far-reaching, and dangerous, result. See ante, at 8—12. But the principles this Court should employ to dispose of this case are found in the Public Use Clause itself, not in Justice Peckham’s high opinion of reclamation laws, see supra, at 11. When faced with a clash of constitutional principle and a line of unreasoned cases wholly divorced from the text, history, and structure of our founding document, we should not hesitate to resolve the tension in favor of the Constitution’s original meaning. For the reasons I have given, and for the reasons given in Justice O’Connor’s dissent, the conflict of principle raised by this boundless use of the eminent domain power should be resolved in petitioners’ favor. I would reverse the judgment of the Connecticut Supreme Court.

But ultimately, if you disagree with Kelo, the remedy is through legislation. Not through some farcical and facetious retaliatory taking of the home of one of the 5 judges who makes up the majority of the court. Again: Why is Souter being singled out, and not Stevens, the author of the majority opinion?

And if local governments get too out-of-line in taking unfair advantage of the Kelo decision, then the issue will be re-examined. But one thing that’s clear from Kelo is that the local government in New London was taking the property as part of an overall economic development plan. The court said that it was the comprehensive plan for the public good that partly convinced them. A single taking of one’s property and transferring it to another, the court said, would not pass muster.

So: if you disagree with Kelo, I’m not the guy you want to be arguing with. Because I really really don’t care about it. I read the decision and the concurrence and both dissents. I understand how and why they decided what they did, and absent a new member of the court or new federal lawmaking to restrict the definition of “public use”, there’s nothing I can do about it. I don’t care primarily because it doesn’t affect the work that I do, and I don’t care because I don’t think that there will really be some slippery slope of governmental handovers of private property to other private entities. It’s a politically poisonous thing to do, and I don’t think it’ll be abused.

I don’t get excited about takings clause cases.

But you’ll notice from my earlier post (which didn’t have much to say about the merits of Kelo), I strongly disagree with some nut’s singling out of Souter for special negative attention.

I do get excited by obnoxious people threatening public officials – who have done nothing wrong – with obnoxious things.

Especially since the proposed obnoxious thing doesn’t even make the point, since even Stevens & Souter would strike down a taking such as that proposed by D. Logan Darrow Clements Thurston Howell III.

To sum up:

Kelo: I don’t really care.
Clements: Is an asshole who should leave Justice Souter alone.

On Kelo & Souter

30 Jun

I haven’t posted about Kelo because it merely re-states hundreds of years worth of Supreme Court jurisprudence.

My knee-jerk reaction about Kelo was also negative. But then I read the decision.

In the meantime, most people I’ve read have been laughing with ironic retributitive hilarity at the idea that someone wants to go take Souter’s house to build a hotel with an ironic name, because that’ll show him.

I disagree. I don’t think it’s fun or funny to retaliate against Supreme Court Justices for adhering to their understanding of what the law is. I also disagree with it because it ignores the fact that four other Justices necessarily voted with him – Stevens wrote the majority opinion – so singling Souter out seems rather silly.

I think Souter was singled out by the Randian prankster because Souter wrote the decision on the unrelated Kentucky 10 Commandments Case.

People need to make up their mind: do they or don’t they want an activist court? Because with Kelo, the court defers to the local legislature on the issues dealing with the justifiability of the taking. Had the court gone against the determination of the local authorities, it would be tantamount to judicial legislation or veto; activism, no?

It might all be a joke, which I hope it is. But to me it seems that the real opponents of Kelo might be better served directing their energies toward changing the law of the land through persuasion and legislation, rather than inflicting cruelty on a guy who’s just doing his job.

Notice that not one person heh-ing and indeed-ing the proposed retaliation against Souter has actually addressed the text and reasoning of the decision itself. Just the outcome.

Furthermore, based on Kelo’s own reasoning, a retaliatory government taking of Souter’s home wouldn’t pass muster.

It is further argued that without a bright-line rule nothing would stop a city from transferring citizen A’s property to citizen B for the sole reason that citizen B will put the property to a more productive use and thus pay more taxes. Such a one-to-one transfer of property, executed outside the confines of an integrated development plan, is not presented in this case. While such an unusual exercise of government power would certainly raise a suspicion that a private purpose was afoot, the hypothetical cases posited by petitioners can be confronted if and when they arise. They do not warrant the crafting of an artificial restriction on the concept of public use.

If public officials are doing their jobs in good faith, they shouldn’t be retaliated against by vindictive vigilantes.

Freedom

30 Jun

Canada has become more libertarian than the US on an issue.

A bill passed in Canada’s parliament making gay marriage legal from coast to coast. The Canadian Senate is expected to pass it next week.

Somehow, I don’t think that gay marriage will cheapen or weaken or otherwise compromise the “sanctity of marriage” or whatever other bullshit secular-sounding excuse the homophobe lobby dreams up to oppose gay marriage. Nor do I subscribe to the Santorum slippery doggy slope theory, whereby gay marriage would lead to the legalization of polygamy, bigamy, bestiality, or child molestation.

And this isn’t a liberal big-government victory. Oh, no. This is a victory for that concept that the conservatives purport to glorify: individual liberty.

Quod licet iovi…

29 Jun

…Non licet bovi.

HT the Buffalo Beast:

Can’t wait to hear George tonight…
In 1999, he criticized President Clinton for not setting a timetable for exiting Kosovo:

THEN
George W. Bush, 4/9/99:
“Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is.”

George W. Bush, 6/5/99
“I think it’s also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn.”

VERSUS NOW

George W. Bush, 6/24/05:
“It doesn’t make any sense to have a timetable. You know, if you give a timetable, you’re — you’re conceding too much to the enemy.”

Humidity

29 Jun

I’m getting quite sick of it, thanks.

Allegedly, a cold front is coming through Friday night.

If I wanted Atlanta weather…

Made me Laugh

29 Jun

“Tom Cruise: the Game” for X-Box:

(from the Defamer)

A conundrum

29 Jun

Should the teachers’ union switch to a single health insurance carrier; Blue Cross-Blue Shield, which 75% of their members already carry, and where the switch would cost no more money and in no way affect coverage…

…or…

Keep the system that’s in place now and lay off 250-300 teachers?

Can you actually believe that the union has to think about that decision?

Can you believe they’re actually choosing the path that leads to layoffs? That’s a nice howdy-do to those members.

Even weirder is that the new Buffalo Schools superintendent refers to himself in the 3rd person. That’s seldom a good thing.

Incoming School Superintendent James A. Williams, interviewed Tuesday by phone from Tennessee, said there is this major change since earlier negotiations fizzled: “James Williams was not at the table then.”

Those developments were set in motion Monday when a state judge placed a temporary halt on the Board of Education’s plan to save $27 million over the next two years by switching to a single health insurance carrier. At stake next year is $10 million in the district’s general operating budget and an additional $2 million in its grants budget.

Although the case will not be decided by an arbitrator for at least a few months, the preliminary decision by State Supreme Court Justice Patrick H. NeMoyer set off alarm bells in City Hall and prompted district officials to begin preparing a contingency budget with $12 million in cuts for the fiscal year that begins on Friday.

Rumore’s explanation?

Just because you need the money, you can’t go out and violate somebody’s contract,” he said. “What are we supposed to say? Thank you very much? It’s not just an issue of money. It’s an issue of what they did to get the money.”

With respect, it is an issue of money. The city doesn’t have it. A perfectly reasonable concession is requested, yet somehow miraculously can’t get negotiated. I’d love to be in the room when those 250-300 teachers are laid off, and I’d love to hear them make comments to Mr. Rumore about the circumstances surrounding their firing. I’m sure it’ll be one big union brotherhood lovefest.

Good news to the East

29 Jun

The Greater Rochester blog has a roundup of good news from our neighbor to the East. Bausch & Lomb. Kodak. Xerox. Paychex. Infotronix. Finger Lakes Wineries. All of them have good news to report.