Friday, July 25, 2003

Error below: Evan Mecham (R-called blacks "pickaninnies"), former governor of Arizona, was not recalled. He was almost recalled, as the recall petition drive had more than enough signatures to be valid. However, he was also caught doing some shady dealings with his campaign finances, so the GOP-dominated legislature impeached and removed him. This actually makes sense, because I don't see how his successor Rose Mofford would have become Governor any other way. I doubt she would have run as a successor on a recall ballot and she was Secretary of State at the time. She also decided not to run for reelection, letting in Fife Symington (R-resigned), who was convicted in federal court of lying to get loans for his real estate empire. That conviction was later overturned, and he was ultimately pardoned in one of the last-day pardons by Bill Clinton.

Mark Kleiman has lots of stuff on the Valerie Plame affair, she who is the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, and who was outed as a CIA agent by the Shrubbery. His latest concerns an explanation for the facts of this case, and the facts appear to be so whacked out that no news organization wants to pick it up (maybe because it doesn't make for an easy script). In Kleiman's explanation, which tries to account for the Shrubbery's extreme penchant for secrecy, the administration official that outed Plame thought she wasn't undercover and was only trying to suggest that Wilson wasn't manly because he needed his wife to get work.

Or something like that. Go read it.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Hmpf. I'm not sure I like the way the latest about the California recall election covers Cruz Bustamante. The first graf makes Bustamante seem like a schemer giving Gray Davis and his opponents no time to do their campaigning for the election to be held October 7. In a bit of "burying the lede", the fourth graf (not implied by the headline) said, "State law required Bustamante to set the election date 60 to 80 days from Wednesday's certification and he chose the last possible date." So much for being a schemer.

Apparently, Bustamante thought better of the idea that there should be no successor election as the second half of the recall question, saying that there will be one. Again, so much for beign a schemer angling for the Governor's chair.

It's a done deal; Kevin Shelley (D) has certified the recal petitions and the election will go on. Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante will likely set October 7 as the date.

As for what will be on the ballot, Shelley is planning for a successor election despite Bustamante's objections to it. The GOP naturally is pitching a fit over Bustamante's plan, claiming that he is trying to "appoint himself governor without facing voters." This is a fairly silly argument, as it is those same voters that designated Bustamante for the post where his most important job is to succeed the Governor in case of vacancy. It's not like the Lt. Gov. exists in a vacuum. At any rate, Shelley is accepting the necessary paperwork for those who wish to be candidates in the successor election.

In a worse development, Professor Shaun Martin of the University of San Diego law school went to federal court t block the recall. Why? Because " the portion of election law that allows voters to select a replacement candidate only if they vote yes or no on whether Davis should be recalled violates the federal Constitution." Just what they needed - the feds in another state election dispute.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Dang me if that California recall thing didn't develop really fast. It's said that Secretary of State Kevin Shelley will certify the recall petition signatures sometime today. And to top it all off, Dan Walters and Nathan Newman and I (self-congratulation) called it - Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante will use the "if appropriate" language in the Constitution to call for a recall election without a successor election. However, Bustamante probably plans to set the election closer to the 80-day limit and let the courts decide on the ambiguity created by "if appropriate", rather than declare himself Governor in case of recall. This gives him some time, should the courts rule that there must be a successor election, to have that added to the ballot and let whoever wants to succeed Davis file the necessary papers within the 59-day time limit.

The same article about Bustamante's probable plans also details his rather strained relationship for the last 4 years with Davis over Prop 187, the anti-immigrant initiative. Bustamante wasn't really on board with the Davis reelection effort last year, when Davis won a squeaker over a monkeybrain with a checkbook. Davis' office has now flushed the parking passes for Bustamante's staff in an "unrelated move". Yeah, right. How cheap.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Because I used to live in California (1990-93), the whole Gray Davis recall hoohah has me a bit interested. Nathan Newman has noticed, by way of a Dan Walters column in the Sacramento Bee, that there's a bit of ambiguity in the Constitution about who succeeds Gray Davis in case he is recalled.. Here's what we do know from California's Constitution (search under "recall" or "election"):

1) The Lt. Gov. becomes Gov. when the Gov. seat is vacant. (Art. 5, Sec. 10)
2) An election to determine whether to recall an officer and, if appropriate, to elect a successor shall be called by the Governor and held not less than 60 days nor more than 80 days from the date of certification of sufficient signatures. (Art. 2, Sec. 15a)
3) If the Gov. is the target of the recall petition, the Lt. Gov. has to call for the election. (Art. 2, Sec. 17)

The ambiguity centers around the phrase, "if appropriate." Walters pointed out that the Governor is the only officeholder in which a particular successor is explicitly named in case of a vacancy, namely the Lt. Governor. Therefore, the election to name a successor may not be appropriate. A subsequent SacBee editorial says that the "if appropriate" language was inserted in 1974, and proponents and opponents alike felt it would have no effect on elections. To quote the SacBee:

Election law experts say the "if appropriate" language appears to deal with recalls of appellate judges, who are not elected and are therefore replaced by appointment.
I erred in Nathan Newman's comment section when I said that California's appellate jobs are not elective office; they are, and vacancies can be filled by the Governor. Therefore, it isn't appropriate to call for an election for the successor at the same time as the recall. That is, the Constitution provides for appellate judges' successors in case of vacancy due to recall or whatever. Well, California's Constitution also provides for a successor to the Governor in case of vacancy, so it can be argued that an election for a successor is not appropriate.

My conclusion is that whoever wrote that language that the voters agreed to in 1974 meant it for appellate judges and didn't envision a recall of the Governor. Unintended consequences, that is. Here's an unintended consequence of this whole thing: Darrell Issa's (R-car alarm) $30 million may simply have the effect of putting the first Latino into the Governorship of the largest state in th union. To this Dem, that sounds simply delicious.

For a less ambiguous recall method, here's Arizona's section regarding the recall election. (Remember that Evan Mecham (R-silly) was ousted this way).

Unless the incumbent otherwise requests, in writing, the incumbent's name shall be placed as a candidate on the official ballot without nomination. Other candidates for the office may be nominated to be voted for at said election. The candidate who receives the highest number of votes shall be declared elected for the remainder of the term. Unless the incumbent receives the highest number of votes, the incumbent shall be deemed to be removed from office, upon qualification of the successor. In the event that the successor shall not qualify within five days after the result of said election shall have been declared, the said office shall be vacant, and may be filled as provided by law. (Article 8, Part 1, Section 4)

Monday, July 21, 2003

Dennis Hastert (R-puppet), through his execrable performance on Meet The Press, illustrates the need for everyone to have thorough grounding in the sciences. From that, two things are clear:

a) Hastert, two heartbeats away from the White House, doesn't know squat about anything nuclear
2)Tim Russert is equally clueless.

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