Thursday, April 7, 2011

Law Makers Breaking Law

This story from the msnbc affiliate in New York City is a local story with national implications. Protesters in Albany were locked out of a vote by lawmakers, and this is going to be the trend as the real economic news gets worse and worse in defiance of the nonsense coming out of the official organs of government. On the one hand they tell us things are getting better, on the other they maneuver to take away our jobs and our benefits and our security and they want to do that behind closed doors. In this age of the Internet and world wide communications there is something very Soviet about the disregard for the law our lawmakers display at every turn. I find myself thinking that Orwell's novel 1984 needs another read as we are stepping ever closer to his vision of misinformation, perpetual war and social terror at the hands of our formerly elected leaders.

By Gabe Pressman

The state’s new $132.5 billion dollar budget was passed amid a lot of loud protests by people in the hallways of the Capitol. It was a steamroller -- and the legislators didn’t seem to care that, while achieving the long-sought goal of passing a budget by the April 1 deadline, they trampled on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It was, as Susan Lerner of Common Cause said, “outrageous.” The reform leader described what happened as a “virtual lock down” of the state Capitol “to prevent ordinary citizens from observing their elected representatives conducting what is supposed to be the people’s business.” The First Amendment prohibits Congress from denying “the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” If the protesters in Albany weren’t assembling peaceably to petition the government to address their grievances, what were they doing? It takes a mighty lot of chutzpah for the leaders of the Assembly and Senate to deny this right. The Assembly and the Senate belong to us -- and so does the governor’s office. To refuse citizens access to the Assembly and Senate chambers should be considered a crime. Who do these guys think they are? It’s not a private club and the sergeants at arms are not supposed to be bouncers. On a deeper level, the “lockdown” shows how little some of these alleged representatives of the people truly care about the people. The budget bills, Lerner says, “are arguably the bills which will have the most immediate and direct impact on millions of New Yorkers. It is outrageous that the Legislature is so frightened of ordinary New Yorkers that they will not allow anyone other than staff and the press to observe the debates in person.” I spoke to Ms. Lerner and she thought there was one good thing coming out of this sad circumstance. “People,” she said, “are getting a real glimpse of how the two branches of the Legislature operate. In 2010, when it became clear that some legislators were ignoring the people some were voted out. In 2012, many more will be voted out of office. “It’s really very sad and short-sighted.” she said. And that sums it up to a t.

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