Saturday, January 29, 2011

Short subjects

• Frivolous lawsuits?

Oh, Dennis, have you ever voted to prevent frivolous lawsuits?

Dennis Kucinich is suing the owner of the House of Representatives’ cafeteria. The congressman and one time presidential hopeful, had a sandwich with what was advertised as pitted olives. Well, one of the olives still had a pit much to the surprise of Kucinich. He is suing for $150,000 in damages.

Don’t the members of congress have a great dental plan?

• Parents need to protect their children

It is important to stop the abusers.  It is also important to stop the enablers. The woman in this case needs to go to jail.

A woman, who is not indentified to protect the victims, pleaded guilty to charges of child endangerment and hindering prosecution. Her husband fathered four babies with one of the couples' daughters. If the wife had gone to authorities right away, she could have protect her daughter.

If the father is an abuser, the mother should at least be the defender.

• Keep the news flowing

Reporters would stop informing us about our government if they were afraid of being sued. The Supreme Court understands that. They refused to even hear a case about a media defamation suit against a reporter for accurately reporting the news from court filings.

• Drunk driving in Tennessee

It is very important to get the drunks off the roads forever, but government can’t put someone in jail for an undetermined amount of time. Let’s find another solution. How about in jail for ten years on second time around?

In Tennessee they want to put people that are charged with DUI that have been convicted before behind bars. But, they will be there for as long as a judge believes they are still a danger to the community. The punishment is much to arbitrary.

• Those money grapping politicians! They will do anything for a buck.

Seems that the Hawaiian legislature is going to allowing anyone that will pay $100 to purchase an official copy of President Obama’s birth certificate. While it won’t shut the birthers up, it will raise some money.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Detroit City water board representation

“No taxation without representation,” is a phrase that came out of the American Revolution.

When the government charges for something, either direct taxes on property or income or a fee for usage, it is a tax. By making that payment, representation should also be provided.

The Detroit water system provides the water that all of us in our homes. They charge a fee for that service but the residents of the suburbs do not have any direct oversight or representation on the water board of the city. That is in direct violation of the compact between a community’s government and its residents.

John McCulloch, Water Resources Commissioner for Oakland County, filed a motion in federal court asking to create a regional management board to oversee the water system. The system provides water and sewer treatment for 76 communities in the Detroit Metro area. About 3 million people use the water every day. McCulloch’s plan would allow each community to have some representation on the board. It would be able to bypass the current board, Detroit Water and Sewage Department, and the Detroit City Council. The council currently approves water rates for the system.

The water system and the suburbs have been fighting for control for over 30 years. The system, according to the Oakland Press article about the issue, is in violation of federal law. Depending on how the violations are settled, the suburbs could pay up to 60% of the cost of a fix to bring it in to compliance. This alone would be reason to have representation on the board and oversight of the expenditures.

There are those that argue that the representation on the board flows through the state. State legislation established the ability of the Detroit Water board to provide water to residents outside of the city. But that representation is indirect and convoluted.

It the federal courts don’t end this problem with a long term solution than the state needs to step in and provide legislation that does. Only by receiving proper and direct representation on the board by the residents of the communities the system serves can we achieve a long term solution that doesn’t violate the compact residents have with their community’s governments.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Religious freedom is not absolute

Trilochan Oberoi is a United States citizen that lives in California. He is a Sikh. He has applied for the position of a corrections officer with The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He has passed all the tests, his background check is clean and is deemed tough enough. For all reasons other than one, he should get the job. What is holding back the department from giving it to him? He won’t shave his beard.

Sikh’s in part, believe that they should look like their creator made them. If he cuts his beard (and his hair, which doesn’t appear to be an issue here) he would be violating one of the tenets of his belief. But, the department of corrections’ policy is that every man keep his face clean shaved. This allows for a gas mask to fit properly.

Oberoi is suing to have the department’s policy changed because it would be a violation of his religion to shave his beard.

We all know the quote from the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The word “Congress” in this case, via the Fourteenth Amendment, means any law making or policy setting body in the United States. The California Department of Correction and Rehilibation is a function of the state of California. It appears that “congress” in this case, the legislative branch of California, has a policy that prohibits the free exercise of a religion. End of story.

Well, not so fast.

Never did the Founding Fathers, anyone else that voted in support of the Constitution, anyone that has ruled on cases involving religion or people living in any responsible community believe that it means that the right is absolute. Public safety is the most important issue. Of course, congress should not make laws without any reason, but when the public safety is involved, all rights are subordinate.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s policy that men keep their beards shaved so that a gas mask can fit properly is not a violation of Oberoi’s religious freedom. The policy is there for a reason, so that men can be sent into a situation where tear gas will be used. If the commander of the guards can’t be certain about an individual’s ability to perform at the peak of performance, in this case Oberoi, he should not have the job.

The phrase “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are not just three words strung in any order. They are in order of importance. Life being the most important. If communities can’t help protect the lives of the individuals in the community, all liberties would be in jeopardy. Mandating that every corrections officer shave his beard is a way that the community can help individuals protect the lives of everyone.

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