Friday, January 21, 2011

Recap: How Morelle and Richards Revealed they Knew About the Hatch Act From the Beginning

1.   The strangely pedantic insistence by Tom Richards and his staff, from the moment of taking over mayoral duties pending election or appointment of a new mayor, that he was "Mayor" -- not the "Acting Mayor" (which in fact he was).

The entire question of whether the Hatch Act applies turns on the distinction between the two:   if "Mayor" he could run for election; if "Acting Mayor" he couldn't."

2.   Richards, though claiming to be "Mayor," went out of his way to make clear that he would not appoint a Deputy Mayor.

He couldn't appoint a Deputy Mayor.   He was the Deputy Mayor, and would remain so unless elected or appointed as Mayor.   (Or unless he resigned.) 

Again, the core of the Hatch problem:   if he was Deputy Mayor, he couldn't run.   So the pretense of being "Mayor" had to be supported by a plausible reason for not appointing a deputy.   The political world would have expected such an appointment.   Consequently, the posturing about saving taxpayers money as the reason for not making it.

3.   What was one of the first thing Richards did on his first day as Acting Mayor?   He "updated" the mayoral succession plan, to place Carlos Carballada next in line.   It was a lame attempt to change the clear provisions of an existing law by the mere filing of a "plan."   But Richards and Morelle knew the Hatch problem made the situation dicey.

To try to avoid the bad PR from causing even more chaos, they provided for a Plan B -- Carballada could step in if Richards were outed on the Hatch question and had to step down in order to run in a special election.

Which is just what happened this week.

Epilogue.   The only problem is that "filing a plan" does not change the law.   Only amending or repealing the law does.   And the law in question says that Mr. Carballada wields the power of mayor only if there has been a life threatening emergency or natural disaster.

Now, far be it from us to claim that Joe Morelle isn't a life-threatening natural disaster.

But as it stands, Mr. Carballada's status is at best in question, and is eminently subject to legal attack as to its validity.   So is any contract he signs or action he takes on the theory that he holds the powers of mayor.

The sowers of chaos strike again!

1 comment:

DragonFlyEye said...

Thanks for this. I agree completely with your analysis of the situation, at least as best I understand it. I've been following Rachel Barnhart on Twitter, watching this story evolve. Even as a liberal and a "Democratic sympathizer," I have to say I find this all bordering on amusing.