Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

The overlooked part of AZ-SB1070


When the law first hit the news, I took a look at it to see just what was going on in it. What I found were a few things that never made it into the news.

No commercial value, I suppose.

There are what I consider to be serious flaws in the law that go beyond the partisan problems, though they are certainly partisan in origin. Flaws that are just plain bad law.

A person who is a legal resident of this state may bring an action in superior court to challenge any official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state that adopts or implements a policy or practice that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law. If there is a judicial finding that an entity has violated this section, the court shall order that the entity pay a civil penalty of not less than one thousand dollars and not more than five thousand dollars for each day that the policy has remained in effect after the filing of an action pursuant to this subsection.
11-1051(G)

Public employees and officials are given a degree of immunity (“Governmental Tort Immunity“) from prosecution so they can do their jobs in good faith without constantly worrying about lawsuits and liabilities. It protects the ability of government to function, and taxpayers from potentially large legal and penalty costs.

I see three problems with this section:

  1. This gives standing for unaffected third parties to sue “any official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state”. It gives any angry vigilante the right to sue any political subdivision, whether he/she lives in the jurisdiction of that subdivision or not. Whether or not he/she is personally harmed or merely irritated.
  2. At a minimum, every lawsuit would cost the taxpayers in legal expenses. If convicted, the taxpayers would be on the hook for the civil penalties. Further, the penalties begin at the time of accusation, not conviction. This complicates things because there is no clear understanding of what might be penalized until and unless there is a conviction. By the nature of the law, this is more likely to be an error of omission rather than commission – which means that inaction, or insufficient action, is what would be penalized. How do you quantify an non-event?

    A bill of attainder (also known as an act of attainder or writ of attainder) is an act of a legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime and punishing them without benefit of a judicial trial.

    Not quite, but not far off.

  3. Revoking governmental tort immunity cannot help but distort how governmental units function. The threat of potential lawsuits would require new and costly insurance. A case under this law could take months to litigate, even without appeals. It could financially ruin a small unit of government like a small town police department that can’t keep police on the streets in the first place, even if the lawsuit failed.

The costs may be recovered if the lawsuit fails:

The court may award court costs and reasonable attorney fees to any person or any official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state that prevails by an adjudication on the merits in a proceeding brought pursuant to this section.
11-1051(I)

This has problems of its own:
a) The costs are up-front. A small unit of government could go bankrupt defending itself before it could recover the costs of a bad lawsuit.

b) Recovery depends on the ability of the accuser to pay. It could take months, years, or forever.

c) Recovery depends on “an adjudication on the merits”. That sounds to me like the taxpayers would eat the legal costs of cases resolved by negotiation or on technical grounds.

This overrides:

Continue reading

June 28, 2012 Posted by | Legislation, Strangelove | , , , | Leave a comment

Jan Brewer, Arizona Governor, Announces Plan To Buy Back State Capitol Complex


Jan Brewer sold the heart and soul of the Arizona government­, the pride of the state, to the private sector. She sold out the people of Arizona. Now, a month before the 100th anniversar­y of Arizona statehood, it occurs to her that the people are going to need the cornerston­e of statehood back in their possession­. I am sure that Arizonians do not like to feel like tenants sold out to carpetbagg­ers.

There is more to being a state than having a shelf full of laws and a spreadshee­t full of numbers. Maybe she realizes that she sold the state’s identity and its pride. Probably not.

On the 100th anniversar­y of Arizona’s statehood, the citizens will not have a Capital to call their own. At best, they will spend that historic day listening to a republican explaining why their Capital is owned by persons unknown, and how committed she is to buying it back.

I doubt that they will hear from her just how many taxpayer dollars she wasted on this debacle, or that this incident will tarnish Arizona history to the last generation­.

Such will be the legacy of the modern republican party.

“There’s just one problem, most of our Capitol Complex, including the building we gather in today, is not ours,” Brewer said in the speech to the Arizona Legislature.

In my defense, I assumed that if Brewer was giving a speech to the state legislature, she was doing it in the state capital. According to MyFoxPhoenix, the capital building itself was not sold. On the other hand, the capital building is not used for constitutional business – it is a museum. Literally. The state legislature moved to a new building in 1960, and the administration moved in 1974. So the Capital that was built to help prove that the Arizona Territory was ready for statehood was put to pasture decades ago.

No wonder Arizona politics is so whack-a-doodle.

She sold for $81M, wants to buy back at $105M. As I understand it, they do not save any money by buying the buildings back early. What they lose is the use of the money over the life of the bonds that are redeemed early but at full price.

Buy high, sell low, and make up the difference in BS.

January 9, 2012 Posted by | Administration, GOP, Governance | , , | Leave a comment

Russell Pearce, Recalled Arizona Senate President, Could Get State Reimbursement For Campaign


Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, standing i...At least one Arizona state senator thinks that an obscure provision in the state constitution could entitle recalled state Senate President (R) to money from the state.

State Sen. Jack Harper (R-Surprise) said that his reading of Article 8, Part 1, Section 6 of the state constitution would allow Pearce to ask the state to reimburse the cost of his unsuccessful campaign to fight being recalled from office this week.

According to records on the Arizona secretary of state’s office website, Pearce raised $230,282 for the recall campaign and spent $159,587. Pearce, the architect of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, lost the recall election in his Maricopa County district to fellow Republican Jerry Lewis.

This raises an interestin­g question of constituti­onal law.

Article VIII

Section 6. The general election laws shall apply to recall elections in so far as applicable­. Laws necessary to facilitate the operation of the provisions of this article shall be enacted, including provision for payment by the public treasury of the reasonable special election campaign expenses of such officer.

But looking further (figurativ­ely) – Article VIII again: Continue reading

November 11, 2011 Posted by | Campaign Finance, Constitution | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lori Klein, Arizona State Senator, Pointed Loaded Gun At Reporter Richard Ruelas’s Chest


Senator Lori Klein holding her .380 Ruger handgun in the Senate members lounge.

Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic - click to read

Oh, look at my cute pink girlie-gun with the laser sights and no safety…w­ha…[bang­]..[thud!] That’s not my fault! I’ve been kinda sorta trained in gun safety, and I didn’t mean to shine the laser in his eye! I couldn’t help it if he flinched and set off the gun! That was his choice. I didn’t force it on him. I have a right to carry a loaded gun, and I’m not forcing that choice on anyone! There are even places where *blind* people can carry guns.

Well, Ms. Klein, a gun is a weapon, not a fashion statement. A gun is made to kill living things. By treating it like an accessory or a conversati­on piece, you make a mockery of the right to bear arms.

You also demonstrat­e how people should have a good reason to be carrying a gun, more than simply to make a political statement or out of paranoia. You have demonstrat­ed a complacent or careless attitude toward guns that will become more common as more people carry for impulsive or frivolous reason. This makes tragedy inevitable­.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

July 11, 2011 Posted by | Constitution, Second Amendment | , , , | 1 Comment

   

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