Thursday, March 20, 2008

Potential Indictment for Murder?

First the Spitzer shock, now this:

It's completely true:   that if a senior official of a media company, for example, were to take up a gun intending to kill, and if he then shot and killed someone . . . then, in that case, he could be indicted for murder!
No such event has occurred; neither does anyone confirm such a violation.

But introducing the concept with a typical Democrat and Chronicle headline technique makes it so much more interesting, doesn't it?

We bet you never thought of anyone as a potential murderer in this way.   We had never thought of it either, until the Democrat and Chronicle gave us the idea with a story last week headlined:
"Advisories allege potential violation in defender saga."
The story's here.  It reported on two "advisory opinions" from the State Committee on Open Government.   Of these opinions the paper admits:   "Neither expressly confirms a violation."

When you read these "advisory opinions" yourself, you find that they opine precisely this:
That if the Monroe County Legislature had acted in violation of the New York Open Meetings Law in appointing the public defender . . . then, in that case, it would have violated the Open Meetings Law!

The "advisory opinions," by their own admission, were strictly hypothetical, based only on unsupported allegations from -- who else -- Democrats in the Monroe County Legislature.   Legislator Calvin Lee said he and his fellow Democratic legislators "are evaluating what to do next."   Whatever that may be, the only absolute certainty is what the County Democrats won't be doing next:   putting their allegations to the test by bringing legal action to overturn the Legislature's vote to approve the new Public Defender.

They won't do it because they know they can't win.

They can't win because there were no violations.

The County Legislature is permitted to go into executive session -- which means to meet privately, without the public present -- to discuss applicants for an appointment.   It's in the state's Open Meetings Law.   That's precisely what a committee of the legislature did, at the meeting on February 9 discussed in one of the "advisory opinions."

Also, as we have observed, the Open Meetings Law gives the public the right to attend a meeting, but not the right to disrupt a meeting.   The legislature acted both prudently and within its rights by arranging security to prevent disruptions or violence at the meeting where it voted on the Public Defender.

Legislative Democrats understand these points very well.   They'll do nothing of substance to overturn the PD appointment.   It's not what they want, anyway.   They're just looking to eke out a little more political traction from the issue.

They have willing assistance from their fellow-travelers at the Democrat and Chronicle.   Only the newspaper's Ahab-like obsession with the public defender issue (we lost count after editorial number 13) would induce it to run such a non-story as "someone says that, if the law was broken, that would be a violation of law."   Yet, as the original Captain Ahab learned at his immense cost, plans don't always work as envisioned.   Those of us who have followed with amusement the paper's pursuit of its Great White Whale were delighted by the felicity of the story's timing:   County Democrats released their "advisory opinions" last Monday -- just hours before the Spitzer scandal broke.

County news routinely appears in the D&C's local section, but even in its issue of last Tuesday, March 11, with the Spitzer scandal dominating the front page, the D&C couldn't resist placing its PD non-story on page 1, if only at the foot.

That was the best consolation prize the paper could offer its disconsolate Democratic partners-in-government.   Very likely the D&C had slated the PD non-story for its lead headline last Tuesday morning -- until the Spitzer news broke on Monday afternoon.   That, at least, would explain the shrieks of rage and frustration that Republican staffers in the County building heard that afternoon from the Democratic office down the hall, as the Democrats' story for the day -- planned, we surmise, in meticulous collusion with the Democrat and Chronicle -- was elbowed from the headlines by Client Number 9.

1 comment:

repoman said...

You here at Mustard Street deserve credit for providing a regular counter-point to the D&C's "slant" on the PD story.

The paper acted as a mouthpiece for Mr. Gantt and his minions in their effort to politicize the selection process. The D&C had it 180 degrees wrong. I appreciated your many corrections.