Thursday, June 28, 2007

You Close The Window First

You are working at your desk on a very important project with the window open on a nice sunny day, when suddenly a burst of wind starts blowing all the papers you have been using around the room. What do you do first? Frantically try and get the papers before they blow out the window? Or close the window?

You close the window first. With the wind gone, you can calmly and deliberately gather and organize the papers that have been blown off your desk.

Similarly, the first thing that we, as a nation, must do is secure our borders. We have to close the window first. Everything else can be tackled after that occurs. But without our borders being secured, we will continue to have more and more people pour across our borders while we deal with those that are here illegally. And we end up with the same situation we are in now.

We must secure our borders first. Then we can figure out what do with those that are here illegally.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What is going on with the Attorney General?

One has to wonder about the intentions of Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff who recently terminated the status of Special Assistant Attorney General to Carol Lear and Jean Hill. His claim is that they were working at cross purposes to his office by offering conflicting advice to the Utah Board of Education and in doing so, fostered an adversarial relationship with his office.

In the termination letter he claimed that they were no longer allowed to give any advice to the Board of Education and that their conversations would not be protected by the attorney-client privileges.

Some have claimed, perhaps correctly, that the Utah Constitution allows only the AG to give legal advice to the state government (with a possible exception being the governor, who, in some circumstances, can seek his own counsel). All this may be true. However, it raises a number of questions that really need answering:

1. Carol Lear has worked in her position advising the Board of Education for over 20 years and Jean Hill for 8 years. The Attorney General graciously bestowed the status of "Special Assistant Attorney General" roughly a month ago, according to Jean Hill. Why was he not worried about Carol and Jean Hill advising the Board prior to that time? It isn't like they just started working for the board recently?

2. If he didn't know that they were acting as legal counsel for the board, why didn't he? Is he so out of touch with the legal needs of government bodies that he would not have wondered why they weren't asking his advice on legal matters? Or more likely, he did know about it and didn't worry about it until it became convenient.

3. Why did he choose, just one month ago, to give Carol and Jean this special status? Surely, during all of this voucher mess created by the Legistlature, he would have know that the Board would have needed legal assistance. The debate on the HB148/HB174 issue has been going on since the session concluded at the end of February. Perhaps he wanted them to be under his thumb so that he could tell them what to do and how to advise the Board?

It would be helpful if the Attorney General would bring clarity to these matters (wishful thinking here).

One also has to wonder about the legal advice that the AG gave the Board of Education regarding HB174. It is obvious that his basis for that decision was very shaky, since a unanimous Utah Supreme Court disagreed with his contention that HB174 could stand on its own.

Whine, Whine, Whine

Representative Frank, obviously unhappy with the Utah Supreme Court's decision regarding the HB148/HB174 mess, feels that the Utah Supreme Court enjoys legislating from the bench. One has to wonder if he even read the opinion. It seemed to me to be well thought out and brought clarity to the mess created by the Legislature.

I have noticed, in recent days, that various senators and representatives have attempted to defuse criticism of their actions, blaming the media, Utahns for Public Education, UEA, and others for creating the confusing state.

We should be absolutely clear. The Legislature has no one to blame but themselves for the mess they are in. They are the ones that created these two bills, that, at the time of passage, were clearly linked together. There is no other explanation for the radically different margins of votes in these two bills. One cannot believe that the HB148, the first voucher bill, would pass by only one vote, and then second, HB174, by more than 2/3, if those who were not in favor of vouchers had not been told that the second bill was absolutely dependent on the first. The only reason most of those representatives voted for HB174 was because they were amendments to HB148.

The Utah Supreme Court has brought clarity, finally. One of the roles of the judicial branch is to interpret the laws passed by the legislative branch. When the legislative branch creates confusion, it is left to the courts to bring clarity. If the legislative branch doesn't like how the courts interpreted their laws, they have every right to attempt to correct and change the law to make it more clear.

Until, then, Representative Frank, stop whining about the Utah Supreme Court doing your work for you.