Friday, May 02, 2008

Poison Pill 2

Breathing heavily, the Hartford Courant noted in a Friday editorial that state Rep. Chris Caruso, “once (emphasis mine) the leading voice on revoking the pensions of corrupt government employees,” has inserted yet another “poison pill” into proposed ethics legislation.

The legislature wisely excised Caruso's first "poison pill" -- the unconstitutional retroactive revocation of pensions -- from the legislation and permitted it to float into obscurity as a stand alone bill, wherefore Caruso, the Inspector Javert of ethics in the House, now has offered his second "poison pill," a provision that offers an escape hatch to unionized corrupt public officials.

On Tuesday, Democrat House members "exempted union members from pension revocation," the Courant fumed. Under the provision backed by Caruso and the unions, "judges could reduce the pensions of unionized employees — but only (emphasis mine) to repay stolen money and pay fines, court expenses and the cost of imprisonment."

None of the Democrats leapt forward to object that the provision, which prevents judges from revoking pensions for other judicious reasons, impairs the much touted "discretion" of judges.

Caruso, the Courant notes, has watered down the bill “that he had wanted to strengthen a week earlier. He argues that collective bargaining agreements protect unionized employees from having their pensions revoked. He is less clear on why those same union contracts do not also protect employees from having their pensions reduced.

"Pension forfeiture laws in Massachusetts and other states have survived court challenges. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1983 that when a law serves a legitimate and necessary public purpose — as pension forfeiture does — it may override any 'impairment' to a contract."

Sometimes things happen the way they do -- Bills are scuttled because they are at the last moment festooned with killer provisions -- because that's the way people want things to happen.

So far, Caruso has been coasting along on his reputation as a fierce proponent of ethics reform.

Caruso’s last minute killer provision demonstrates that when the union “red phone” begins to ring at 3:00 in the morning, Democrat ethicists are eager to answer the call.

Inspector Javert's reputation now lies in tatters. Even Main stream media outlets are beginning to doubt both Caruso’s motives and his methodology. And doubt, as we all know, is the beginning of wisdom.

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