Expecting to See Term Limits on the Ballot
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Posted by admin | Issues
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, Term Limits
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| Thursday 27 May 2010 2:37 PM

From The NY Times

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Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will not be on the ballot in 2010, but the issue that many New Yorkers lambasted him over in the 2009 election very likely will be: term limits.

“We need as a commission to be heard this November,” Matthew Goldstein, the chairman of the New York City Charter Revision Commission, said on Monday night, during a hearing at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

Asked afterward to elaborate, Mr. Goldstein, who is the chancellor of the City University of New York, said, “I haven’t heard any commissioner opine that we ought to pass in November about term limits.”
Matthew Goldstein in January 2010.Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times Matthew Goldstein in January.

The statement was hardly a surprise. After all, when Mr. Bloomberg decided in the fall of 2008 to upend the city’s term limits law (which had been approved twice by voters) to give him and other city officials a chance at a third term, he promised that a charter commission would revisit the issue. And when Mr. Bloomberg appointed the 15-member panel in March, Mr. Goldstein said that term limits would be one of many issues on the table.

Still, Mr. Goldstein’s comments represented the most definitive statement yet that term limits would be on the ballot this year — as opposed to next year or even in 2012, as some people have suggested. Mr. Goldstein also indicated that the commission was far from a consensus about what the term limits ballot question would be:

For example, should voters be asked to return to the old system of limiting city officials to two terms? Should voters be asked to make three four-year terms the standard? Should voters be asked to consider a multi-tiered system of term limits, like two terms for the mayor, and three for the City Council members and other officials? Or should any plebiscites be legally protected, so that future City Councils that wanted to emulate the actions of the “Bloomberg 29? (as the Council members who voted to extend term limits in 2008 were derided by critics) would be barred from doing so?

“What we have not had is really the substantive discussion about how to shape” the ballot question, Mr. Goldstein said. “That to me is where the tire hits the road.”

Mr. Goldstein’s comments capped a three-hour hearing that consisted of two distinct parts. The first featured the testimony of three experts on term limits — Gregory Carl Schmid, general counsel of U.S. Term Limits, a group that supports term limits initiatives; Patrick J. Egan, a professor of politics and public policy at New York University; and Richard G. Niemi, a professor of political science at the University of Rochester.

That part, about one hour long, often had the feel of a long academic seminar. (Several commissioners kept busy by checking their BlackBerrys constantly, while at least one had trouble staying awake.)

Oddly enough, not once was Mr. Bloomberg mentioned by name during that first part.

“The charter commissioners dare not speak Mayor Bloomberg’s name,” joked Gene Russianoff, senior attorney of the New York Public Interest Research Group, during the hearing.

The second part, by contrast, featured the remarks of more than a dozen of the 60 or so people who attended. Half of those who spoke were elected officials or were connected to elected officials (including Bill de Blasio, the public advocate, who urged that issues other than term limits be pushed off until 2012).

But the others, by and large, expressed lingering outrage over Mr. Bloomberg.

“Don’t make the work of this committee the height of irony,” said Michael D.D. White, who runs a blog called Noticing New York. “The hallmark of the Bloomberg administration has been the accretion of unchecked power in Mayor Bloomberg as a single all-too-powerful individual.”

Perhaps the best line was delivered by Henry J. Stern, the former parks commissioner under Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. He warned that term limits — while a good mechanism “to shake things up” — would not make the perceived weaknesses of government, or elected officials, vanish.

“It will not ensure the integrity or the ability of anyone in particular,” he said. “But at least it will provide for a rotation of scoundrels.”

He also dismissed concerns that term limits would insure that elected officials would be more focused on looking for their next job.

“At the end of two terms, if you can’t find yourself a decent job, you don’t deserve to be there,” he said.

The term limits hearing was the first of five that will focus on issues that are being considered by the commission. The next one, on June 2 at Lehman College in the Bronx, will focus on nonpartisan elections; subsequent ones will examine government structure, public integrity and land use.

Bloomberg’s Checkbook Makes Cameo on “Law & Order”

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has long complained, good-naturedly, about getting cut from a scene in “Sex and the City.” But at least he was mentioned, sort of, in the closing scene of the series finale of “Law & Order” on Monday night.

The final scene featured Lt. Anita Van Buren appearing at a fund-raiser organized by her detectives, Cyrus Lupo and Kevin Bernard. Lieutenant Van Buren has cancer, and the fund-raiser — called a “1013,” referring to the police code for an officer in need of help — was intended to help her defray her medical bills. And, in a moment channeling “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the detectives declared that the fund-raiser, a smashing success, included a check from the mayor.

Mr. Bloomberg, of course, is a billionaire who is known for being generous with his checkbook, both for charitable causes and to further his political career. So perhaps this was the show’s wink-wink way of acknowledging the mayor. After all, it was just two months ago that Anthony Anderson, who plays Det. Bernard, appeared with Mr. Bloomberg for an event starting a program to help women and minorities get jobs in television and film production.

When asked about the episode, Stu Loeser, a spokesman for the mayor, said the mayor did not watch it.

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Pennsylvania governor candidates support many of grand jury’s proposals

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Term limits guarantee shake-up in 2011 Legislature

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Term Limit Debate Sparked By Souder Scandal

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Today's Party Now, Pay Later Politicians Are Kicking The Can Right Off The Cliff
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Posted by admin | Columns
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| Wednesday 26 May 2010 11:38 AM

The desire of politicians to obtain instant electoral gratification at the expense of long-term financial security has reached epidemic proportions.

In fact, this “party now, pay later preference” has pushed the global economy to the brink of what could be a broader, deeper and more sustained fiscal collapse than anything we have witnessed in recent years — perhaps ever.

Already a debilitating problem for dozens of democracies, this mentality has grown exponentially worse over the past three years, with trillions of borrowed dollars being pumped by the world’s richest democracies into new entitlements, “quantitative easing” and select private-sector bailouts.

Yet as many rightly decry the anti-democratic, anti-free-market bent of government’s unprecedented interventionism, the truth is that this preference has its roots in our current conception of democracy — where politicians aim to stay in power by delaying the inevitable.

In addition to their ingrained eagerness to please voters in the shortest of “short term” scenarios, nearly every politician is also upwardly mobile — aspiring to higher elected office, a more influential committee assignment or a lofty leadership position. As they say, “Every representative looks in the mirror and sees a senator, while every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president.”

This upward mobility is achieved by dispensing as much taxpayer largesse as is humanly possible now, no matter what the impact on the nation’s future financial security. Not surprisingly, this concept forms the basis of the recent health care takeover championed by President Obama — as well as the “stimulus” bill, the Fannie and Freddie bailouts, student loan guarantees, agriculture subsidies, housing handouts, food stamps, welfare expansion, the minimum wage increase, etc.

Not only have these reckless credit extensions failed to turn the economy around — they have added explosive power to a ticking time bomb of soaring debts and skyrocketing unfunded liabilities. When will this time bomb explode?

Obviously, it is not just our American democracy that’s afflicted with this “party now, pay later preference.” The refusal of politicians around the world to deal with steadily worsening financial realities has become a global epidemic. Already drowning under the weight of subsidies they cannot afford, in the name of “economic stimulus” these governments have created newer and larger subsidies — all while simultaneously draining a depleted private sector of its capacity to shoulder such costs.

Soaring debts, new entitlements, higher taxes and an aging population — no matter how you compute this math, the outcome of the equation won’t be pretty. And yet amazingly, putting this failed approach on steroids is being touted by the world’s political leaders as an integral part of the “road to recovery.”

In truth, it’s more of the same denial of reality. In fact, America and other free nations around the world are well past the point of “kicking the can down the road” — they’ve kicked it completely off the cliff, and are now saddling future generations of taxpayers with obligations that may prove insurmountable no matter how high tax rates eventually climb.

According to a January 2009 paper from the National Center for Policy Analysis, the average European Union nation needs to place more than four times its current gross domestic product in the bank (earning interest) just to fund current obligations. In fact, the NCPA report found that by 2020, the average EU nation will have to raise its tax rate from 40% to 55% of the national income just to cover existing benefits.

In Japan — which has the world’s highest percentage of debt to GDP — fiscal policy is “out of control,” according to Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff, who predicted the 2008 U.S. bank failures. According to the latest estimates from the International Monetary Fund, total Japanese borrowings will soar to 204.3% of the nation’s economic output in 2011.

Meanwhile in America, total public debt will exceed GDP for the first time since the World War II era, part of a massive borrowing spree that has seen the nation more than double its debt over the last six years. “The U.S. is in a state of paralysis in its fiscal policy,” Rogoff said last month. “When they start tightening monetary policy even a little bit, it’s going to send shock waves through the system.”

In addition to this brewing global and national crisis, U.S. states and municipalities are facing similar ticking time bombs. A March 2010 Northwestern University report discovered that the total unfunded liability of state government pension funds was $3.2 trillion — or more than $2.2 trillion higher than government officials estimated.

So why haven’t democratic politicians awakened to these realities? And why has no corrective action been taken? Simply put, the current configuration of the democratic political system doesn’t allow for it.

Thanks to the “party now, pay later preference,” no real solutions are ever offered to these fundamental problems. All we see is more spending in the short term and larger deferred liabilities down the road.

And in America, even though both political parties have won legislative majorities based on their promises to clamp down on the other party’s fiscal recklessness, the only thing that ever seems to change is whose paws are on an increasingly uncontrollable spigot. Only “divided” government, curiously, seems to slow things down — and that only slightly.

Reversing this progression — assuming it’s even possible — is clearly a process that will take decades, not years. But assuming we will somehow be able to navigate our way through the current (and coming) global financial crises without first fundamentally rethinking the very nature of democracy at home and abroad is the sort of wishful thinking that landed us in this mess to begin with.

Pennsylvania governor candidates support many of grand jury's proposals
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Posted by admin | Issues
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, News
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, Term Limits
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| Tuesday 25 May 2010 2:27 PM

From Pittsburgh Tribune Review

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HARRISBURG — The Democratic and Republican candidates for governor support many of the proposals detailed in a grand jury report calling for sweeping changes in the Legislature, their spokesmen said today.

The report calls for reducing the size of the 2,800-person staff, returning to a part-time citizens Legislature, and imposing term limits, a constitutional convention and staff changes to end the illegal campaign culture that led to criminal charges against 26 lawmakers, former legislators and staff. Eight people, so far, have been convicted of felonies, two have been acquitted, and the remainder await trial.

“In the eyes of this grand jury, it is beyond dispute that numerous legislative employees have for years spent an enormous amount of time working on political campaigns when they were supposed to be performing their legislative duties,” the grand jury said. “All campaign work on legislative time must be eliminated and this will result in a surplus of legislative work unless rapid, meaningful change occurs.”

The grand jury asserted that current operational structure and ingrained procedures of the state House Democratic and Republican caucuses “are irretrievably broken and in desperate need of systemic change,” the jury wrote.

The grand jury report was filed in Dauphin County Court in February but wasn’t transmitted to legislative leaders until yesterday. The report became public yesterday.

Many of the changes recommended by the grand jury have bandied about after the 2005 ill-fated pay raise sparked reform efforts. Most of the changes have been rebuffed or ignored by the Legislature.

Republican candidate and Attorney General Tom Corbett, whose three-year investigation of the Legislature led to the grand jury report, realizes there will be “sticking points” with the General Assembly, which as a separate branch of government controls staff procedures, said Brian Nutt, Corbett’s campaign manager.

Last week, Corbett was nominated as the Republican candidate for governor. He will face Democratic candidate and Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato in November.

Nutt said he wasn’t aware of the report until yesterday.

“Tom wasn’t using it as a political vehicle,” he said. “This is a nonbinding recommendation by the grand jury.”

Onorato has long advocated for legislative term limits, reducing the size and cost of the Legislature, reforming the budget process and imposing strict ethics rules, said Brian Herman, his campaign spokesman.

“While the report highlights important issues, it will take the next governor’s leadership to enact real reform and truly change state government,” Herman said. “Dan Onorato is the only candidate with a proven reform record, which includes eliminating row offices, cutting patronage, reducing the county workforce, and other efforts that have increased transparency, streamlined county government and saved taxpayers millions of dollars.”

Corbett supports term limits for legislative leaders and committee chairmen, not necessarily all legislators, Nutt said.

He believes moving to a two-year budget cycle would be a “good step” toward a part-time Legislature, Nutt added.

Corbett would support a constitutional convention but only if he is convinced it would be carefully constructed and limited, Nutt added.

Term limits guarantee shake-up in 2011 Legislature
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Posted by admin | Issues
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, Term Limits
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| Tuesday 25 May 2010 10:24 AM

From Nevada Appeal

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LAS VEGAS — Term limits are forcing 17 state lawmakers from their posts this year, guaranteeing a new look for the Nevada Legislature in 2011.

But some are hoping to switch seats, meaning November’s election could give some familiar players chances in different spots if they pass the primaries next month.

That could be easier said than done, this election season.

A high number of candidates running across 42 Assembly and 11 Senate races mean Republicans and Democrats can only wait as the June 8 primaries determine the political makeup of the November ballot, said Chris Stream, a professor of public administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

He said traditional baton-passing among lawmakers is getting shaken up, with name recognition no longer as big an advantage as in previous elections.

“You have this wild card … of the anti-incumbency thing, the Tea Party thing going on particularly in Nevada, where that’s caused some disarray with conservatives,” Stream said. “You’re going to see folks who no one even knows about that suddenly are on a ballot and running and wreaking havoc for maybe the party machine, in some ways.”

Stream said he thinks the shake-ups will happen more in Republican primaries than Democratic primaries.

Ten Republican primaries in Assembly and Senate races involve three or more candidates, including two Assembly races where incumbents face primary fights.

District 2 Assemblyman John Hambrick faces a Republican challenge from Annie Black and Mark Slotta, while Assemblywoman Lynn Stewart in District 22 has three Republican opponents in Calanit Atia, Scott Chappell and Duane Christy.

For the Democrats, one Senate and 10 Assembly primaries have at least three or more candidates, but none are challenging a current lawmaker for his or her seat.

Veteran candidates should worry about a growing anti-incumbent attitude among voters that is beginning to play out in state elections elsewhere, Stream said.

“Traditionally, incumbents aren’t as threatened at the state and local level as they often can be at a national level,” Stream said. “But boy, I think this year is going to be different.”

Eight of Nevada’s Senate races include Assembly members looking to switch houses, including two candidates who are term limited in their current posts.

One Assembly race, District 14, includes a term-limited state senator facing a former Assemblywoman and the term-limited incumbent’s husband in the Democratic primary.

In Clark County Senate District 7, the Democratic primary features two candidates who are term-limited from the Assembly, Kathy McClain and Mark Manendo.

Other notable, crowded Senate races include:

  • Clark County District 9, with three Democrats in the primary.
  • Clark County District 10, where three Republicans are seeking a nomination in hopes of replacing incumbent Sen. Bob Coffin, one of the Senate’s more liberal Democrats. The winner among Dallas Kristin Augustine, Billy Soloe and Henry Tyler would face Rubin Kihuen, a Democratic Assemblyman running unchallenged in his party.
  • Clark County District 12, where three Republicans want to replace Republican Warren Hardy, who resigned after the 2009 session.
  • Washoe County District 4, where Republican Randolph Townsend is out because of term limits. Four Republicans, but no Democrats are seeking his post.

In the Assembly:

  • District 25, where Republican Heidi Gansert isn’t seeking re-election. Five Republicans, including a former Assemblyman, are in the primary.
  • District 26, where incumbent Ty Cobb is seeking a state Senate seat. Four Republicans are listed on the primary ballot.
  • District 39, where Republican James Settelmeyer is seeking a state Senate seat. Four Republicans, including two former Douglas County commissioners, are in the primary race.

America’s Repudiation of the Obama Agenda Continues
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Posted by admin | News
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| Friday 21 May 2010 2:01 PM

It began last November in statewide races in Virginia and New Jersey. Then it swept through Massachusetts in a stunning U.S. Senate special election this January. Most recently, it has spilled over into primary battles in Utah, Kentucky and Pennsylvania — growing more potent as the calendar year advances toward a climactic November 2010 showdown.

“It” is the ongoing, unequivocal public repudiation of the agenda of President Barack Obama — a seismic shift in the thinking of the American electorate regarding the sort of “change” they want for their country. In several races “it” is also a direct rejection of Obama himself — as evidenced by the deaf ear voters turned to his personal appeals on behalf of Massachusetts’ Attorney General Martha Coakley and party-switching Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter.

Both Coakley and Specter enjoyed commanding leads over their opponents prior to Obama’s active engagement in their races, with Specter enjoying a 21-point cushion over Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak as recently as last month (Sestak ended up defeating Specter by a 54-46 percent margin). Similarly, Sen. Scott Brown trailed Coakley by 17 points just two weeks before pulling off his improbable five-point upset victory.

In both races, Obama appeared in radio and television ads on behalf of the losing candidates — and in the Massachusetts race he paid a last-minute visit to the Bay State in an unsuccessful effort to rally Coakley’s faltering campaign (similar to his failed last-ditch effort to revive the flagging candidacy of New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine).

There was no eleventh hour visit for Specter — but only because Obama’s political advisors read the handwriting on the wall and were desperate to avoid yet another embarrassing image of their boss with his arms draped around another losing candidate. Accordingly, after pledging to give Specter his “full support,” when Election Day rolled around Obama was nowhere to be found – and wasn’t even following the race “all that closely,” according to his spokesman.

How’s that for loyalty?

Also worth noting was the tremendous shot in the arm that Sestak’s campaign received when he revealed that the Obama administration (in typical “Chicagoland” fashion) offered him a high-paying federal job in exchange for dropping his primary challenge against Specter — a charge which has yet to be properly investigated, but which served as a turning point in the race.

Meanwhile, halfway across the country in Kentucky another repudiation of Obama was taking place – albeit one that rattled the cages of a completely different set of Washington insiders. There, Kentucky ophthalmologist Rand Paul — son of Texas Congressman Ron Paul — trounced establishment Republican Trey Grayson in a race that demonstrated the growing political clout of the Tea Party movement.

Paul defeated the GOP’s hand-picked candidate by a 24 percent margin — even after Grayson received endorsements from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Vice-President Dick Cheney. Similar to Obama’s last-minute shunning of Specter, McConnell also fled the scene of his anointed candidate’s downfall — ostensibly to attend to “Washington business.”

Paul’s win was the second demonstration of Tea Party power in as many weeks, coming on the heels of Utah Republicans’ refusal to re-nominate incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Bennett. Additionally, ten other U.S. Senators and twenty U.S. Representatives are retiring from politics in advance of the 2010 elections.

What’s fueling this “wave?”

The convenient answer is “voter angst,” but the truth is that each of these elections represents a mixture of prevailing national sentiment and more regionalized root perceptions. In Pennsylvania, for example, Democrats rejected Obama’s personal appeal to support a party-switcher — while in Kentucky, Republicans rejected their party’s chosen nominee to support a candidate who they believe will be more aggressive in taking the fight to the Obama regime.

In both cases, Obama loses. And while the mainstream media continues to portray the Tea Party as part of the “fringe” of America’s political spectrum (while relying on a generic “anti-incumbency” foil to insulate Obama from the dramatic electoral defeats), the truth is the roots of this new limited government movement are deeper and stronger than anyone previously imagined. Also, reversing Obama’s harmful policies not only remains the movement’s raison d’etre — but its source of popular support.

For example, two months after its passage, the latest Rasmussen reports poll shows that 56 percent of Americans favor repealing Obama’s socialized medicine law — which is actually a higher number than Rasmussen recorded in the aftermath of Congress passing the legislation.

That’s true “staying power,” and the longer Obama continues to ignore America’s rejection of him, his candidates and his agenda, the stronger the movement against him will grow.

IT’S YOUR LAND:Fighting for the Family Farm
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Posted by admin | Issues
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, Property Rights
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| Friday 21 May 2010 12:05 PM

From Fox News Blog

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“It’s a perverse use of eminent domain,” says Brian Rainville. “There is no public good here.”

He stood on a green field, filled with alfalfa and grass, on the gentle rolling hills of his family’s Franklin, Vermont farm… just steps from the Canadian border. He says the barn dates back to 1800, and the land is on the national registry of historic places. But Brian’s family, who have been dairy farmers here since 1946, may not have the land much longer. The United States Government says it needs 4.9 acres of the family’s property to help protect national security.

The Rainville farm sits on the Morses Line border crossing, a sparsely used two lane blacktop with an aging Customs and Border Protection building that the Department of Homeland Security wants to modernize and expand. The agency plans to use stimulus funds to build a new $8 million dollar, multi-lane complex, and says it needs the nearly five acres of the Rainville’s farmland to complete it.

The Rainvilles say the project will put their farm out of business. With the farm losing money, every inch of land is needed, especially the land they use to grow hay to support their cows for the production of milk.

“We are in a good fight here,” says Brian, “This has been a good living for three generations. We are only the third family in 200 years to own the property, and the thought that our own government is going to destroy us! This has been our American dream for a century, it can’t end that way,” he says sadly.

The crossing is lightly used. Government statistics from the Customs and Border Protection agency show just over 14,800 vehicles cross the border every year. That works out to about 40 cars a day, or roughly two and a half an hour. The crossing is not even open 24 hours a day. Brian thinks it should be closed completely, and the traffic moved to larger crossings nearby. But the government is intent on upgrading the facility, which includes the small customs building built in the 1930’s, that sports a small bench with handcuffs.

“The Morses Line Port is more than seventy years old and has dilapidated infrastructure and outdated technology,” said Customs and Border Protection spokesman Rafael Lemaitre in a statement to Fox News.

“By making critical upgrades to the Port, we will meet essential Post-9/11 security and operational standards while fulfilling the economic goals of the recovery act.”

Lemaitre says the agency takes the concerns “very seriously,” and wants to “work to find a solution that balances security with the needs of the local community.”

Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy told a Senate hearing that “people have been driving back and forth on that roadway for decades,” and that the plan is “creating animosity.” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano promised to conduct a public hearing on the issue, and to “have a meeting with the community.” She also said there are efforts to reduce the amount of land her agency would need for the project, but that there is a minimum amount of land that would be needed, and “unless you do it, you might as well not do it at all,” she said.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency is beefing up crossings on both the borders of Canada and Mexico, and has received $420 million in stimulus funds for that purpose. The agency also says the project will help the local Vermont economy, by providing more than 90 jobs. The agency says “modernizing the Morses Line Port will address a critical national security need.” The goal of Homeland Security officials remains the protection of our country, and the agency insists it is working in a way to balance the local concerns with its mandate to protect the nation.

The government has offered $39,500 for the acreage, but Brian remains adamant. His 70 year old father still milks the cows, as he has since he was six years old, and his brother also works the farm. Brian, who teaches High School history and civics classes, has created the e-mail site: Saveourfarm@hotmail.com, to generate support.

“As a civics teacher, I’m astounded,” he told Fox News.”I talk to my students about a responsive government, a government that protects rights, a government that protects property. And I have a representative of my own federal government, sit down in my parents’ kitchen and tell them that the federal government sees no reason why they should keep their land?” he says angrily.

“We’ve been lied to, I’ve been misled and I’ve had enough of it,” he says defiantly. “It’s heartbreaking.”

If the government does resort to using eminent domain, Brian says “the message is we don’t care what you do, or how long you have been there. If we want it, get out of our way. And that’s not the United States of America.”

This is the latest installment of the Fox News “It’s Your Land” series. If you have property issues, contact Fox News Senior Correspondent Eric Shawn and Producer Becky Diamond at: Yourland@Foxnews.com. Segments can also be seen on the Fox News Channel, Sunday mornings from 10 a.m. to 12 Noon, E.S.T.

Term Limit Debate Sparked By Souder Scandal
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Posted by admin | Issues
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, Term Limits
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| Thursday 20 May 2010 4:02 PM

From Indiana News Center

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Congressman Souder’s sudden resignation after sixteen years and eight terms in Congress has sparked a centuries old debate. Should there be Congressional term limits? Currently the House of Representatives has unlimited two year terms, and the Senate has unlimited six year terms. If you’re part of the majority of Americans who favor Congressional term limits, it may be harder to than you think to make limits a reality.

Back in 1787, the Framers didn’t include term limit requirements for U.S. Senators or Representatives in the Constitution. What it does include are requirements that the member of Congress be 25, a resident of the state they are representing, and an American citizen for at least nine years.

Therefore, to add an additional requirement, such as term limits, would be unconstitutional. The only way to change that would be through a constitutional amendment, and that could be a difficult task.

To pass a constitutional amendment, a two-thirds approval in each House is required. Then the measure must be ratified by three-quarters of the states. It’s understandable why past efforts to pass an amendment that would implement congressional term limits have all failed.

It wasn’t until 1951 that the 22nd Amendment was passed, setting the number of presidential term limits at two, four-year terms.

In 1994 Republicans ran on a “Contract with America” ticket advocating term limits. That included Congressman Mark Souder, who was elected in that election. The party won a majority in Congress, and a constitutional amendment was brought to the House floor. The measure would have limited Senators to two, six-year terms and Representatives to six, two-year terms. A majority of the House voted for the amendment, but it fell short of the two-thirds vote needed to pass.

In 1995 the Supreme Court ruled states could not impose term limits on Senators or Representatives from their state, saying this would be unconstitutional.

In 2009, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint sponsored a measure that would limit to the House to three, two-year terms and the Senate to two, six-year terms. Political analysts were quick to point out the futility of the amendment attempt, saying there was little chance two thirds of Congress would vote to limit their own power.

There have, however, been a number of Congressmen and Congresswomen over the years who had self-imposed term limits, saying they believed in set limits and would abide by them even if it wasn’t legally required. Congressman Souder was one of those people. In addition to voting for term limits in the 90’s, he also said at one time that he would would not seek re-election past six terms. After a change of heart, Souder broke that pledge when he ran and won a seventh campaign.

People in favor of term limits say the current congressional environment breeds corruption, special interest spending, and a lack of ambition since at one time nearly 90% of incumbents were re-elected.

John Moehring is a former Washington lobbyist. Speaking about Souder he said, “He should have resigned and moved on probably ten years ago. To me, someone should only stay in the House of Representatives six to eight years and that’s it.”

Opponents of term limits say tenured politicians gain more skill and knowledge. In addition, they say, incumbents doing well shouldn’t be forced out until voters decide they should not longer be in Congress.

Leonard Goldstein says he opposed to term limits in Washington. “I think we have the opportunity to limit terms through the electoral process, and I think we’d do better if we were better informed and educated regarding issues and candidates.”

Goldstein also points out that most people do better at their job as they gain more experience and career knowledge.

Only time will tell if the Souder scandal will have any sort of long lasting effect on the term limit debate. If the day ever comes when the members of Congress are required to hang up their hats after a specified amount of time, there will be quite a few career politicians in need of career counseling.

County Uses Eminent Domain On Tornillo Farmland
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Posted by admin | Issues
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, Property Rights
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| Wednesday 19 May 2010 3:13 PM

From KFox14

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TORNILLO, Texas — Quiet farmland owned by the Lettunich family along the U.S./Mexico border in Tornillo will soon turn into a very loud construction site.

“It’s been in the family history since about the early 20s, 1922,” said Robert Lettunich, who in one court decision saw one-fifth of his family’s farmland go to the government. “It’s been a long, messy process.”

For the past eight years he’s been in a fight with the county.

The county wanted the land for the new Tornillo-Guadalupe Port of Entry, which is expected to ease congestion at other crossings in the Borderland.

Last Thursday, through eminent domain, the county took 137 acres from Lettunich.

“I don’t think they took into consideration the damages for what they took; this farm is worth less than it was Thursday,” Lettunich told KFOX.

The county said most of the land will go to the federal government for a massive inspection station at the new port of entry.

“We were up to the point where we had to have this piece of property. It’s a key piece of property, it wasn’t going to come together without it,” said El Paso County Attorney Cygne Nemir.

Nemir said the Lettunich family appraised the land at $3 million, but the county valued the land around $1 million.

Last week in court, the county was ordered to pay more than $1.4 million for the land.

“I’m concerned about the county and the taxpayers, and they of course want to maximize their profit. Because we were so far apart, there was just not a way to resolve it,” said Nemir.

Lettunich said he doesn’t want to stand in the way of progress, but progress has taken out the heart of more than 80 years of his family’s history.

“The grandiose ideas. Look what these grandiose ideas will get you,” he said.

Voter muscle
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Posted by admin | Issues
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, Term Limits
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| Tuesday 18 May 2010 4:19 PM

From Lj World

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The leading argument made in favor of congressional term limits a number of years ago was the need to address the overwhelming electoral advantage enjoyed by incumbent members of Congress.

Supporters of term limits claimed that limiting the number of terms a senator or representative could serve was the only practical way to ensure healthy turnover in congressional seats.

The incumbent advantage is strong, but polls and early primaries this year are proving it is not insurmountable. Voters may not act as quickly to get rid of incumbents as term limits would, but they are willing to do the job when they decide it is necessary.

Just ask Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, and Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va. Both lost primary races earlier this month. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., are in danger of meeting the same fate when primary voters in their states go to the polls today. A number of veteran members of Congress also have opted to retire rather than face the voters this year. In at least some cases, their decisions probably were influenced by the tough, perhaps unwinnable, races they saw ahead.

A poll completed last week by AP-GfK Roper Public Affairs &Media confirms the anti-incumbent sentiment sweeping the country. Only 36 percent of those who responded said they wanted their own member of Congress to win re-election this fall. That’s down from about 43 percent in an April poll.

Usually voters dissatisfied with the way their state or federal government is being run blame other lawmakers, not their own representatives. They’re all bums up there, they think, except for our representative; he or she is just fine. Hence the incumbent advantage.

It doesn’t seem to be working this year. The AP poll indicated that people aren’t necessarily unhappy with their lives, but they aren’t happy with Congress. Only 28 percent said they approve of the way Congress is handling its job. And as partisan as the country seems right now, those ratings are pretty consistent across party lines. Congressional Democrats had an approval rating of 37 percent and Republicans were at 31 percent.

Ratings like those create strong opportunities for political challengers.

This may be the year that proves term limits aren’t the only way to ensure turnover in Congress. It’s one way, but when voters reach a certain level of dissatisfaction, they are more than capable of creating that turnover on their own.

Thanks to the Tea Partiers, Term Limits Have Arrived At Last
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Posted by admin | Issues
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, News
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, Term Limits
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| Monday 17 May 2010 3:48 PM

From Fox News

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Tea Partiers have found an organizing theme, even if they don’t know it yet. Like beaters flushing quail, they are turning incumbents out of office at an unprecedented rate – both on the left and the right. In effect, they are imposing their own special brand of term limits.

Political pundits are alternately rejoicing or despairing over this unexpected development, depending on the leanings of the latest victim. The passionate energy of the Tea Partiers was welcomed in right-wing circles when it stirred opposition to health care legislation and especially when it lobbed long-shot candidate Scott Brown of Massachusetts into the Senate. Now that it has upset long-time legislator Senator Robert Bennett of Utah and is threatening Arizona’s John McCain, Republicans are having second thoughts. Their anxiety is amplified by the primary contest in Kentucky, where Tea Partiers may push Rand Paul to victory over Trey Grayson, the more mainstream pick of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Tea Partiers already dumped Florida’s Charlie Crist; now there’s concern that party stalwart Orrin Hatch of Utah could be next.

Democrats started out anxious about the Tea Partiers. To lose Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat to a Republican upstart left no doubt about the group’s influence. Though party pundits have been not-so-secretly rejoicing about the quicksand Tea Partiers are spreading before Republicans, they may quickly change their tune. The loss of West Virginia Representative Alan Mollohan to right-leaning State Senator Mike Oliverio in that state’s primary is another wake-up call. Oliverio honed in on Mollohan’s ethics issues and pounded him on having supported the health care bill. Turns out the Tea Partiers are ambidextrous.

Should Americans celebrate these developments? Yes! Without a doubt one of the most corrosive influences in our body politic is the near-certainty of being re-elected to many Senate and House seats. The folks at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) who each year publish a list of the “Fifteen Most Corrupt Members of Congress” say that the most predictive indicator of joining that unholy club is time in office. Legislators who are voted in year after year acquire an unhealthy disdain for the voters they represent. It is but a short step from comfort to corruption.

Representative Mollohan, a multi-year member of CREW’s “Fifteen Most Corrupt” list, had served 14 terms – nearly 30 years – in office. And, he occupied a seat that his father had held for 14 years before that. His previous popularity and his ethics violations had derived from the amount of pork he was able to deliver on a consistent basis to his district and to friends and family. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, he earmarked $369 million in grants to his district for 254 programs over the past ten years. Of that total, according to CREW, $250 million went to five non-profits created by Mollohan and staffed by his friends. Over that period, people associated with these same outfits funneled nearly $400,000 to Mollohan’s campaign and PAC.

While voters have previously been wooed by earmarks, assuming that money funneled to their district came from somewhere and someone else, they are waking up. The nation’s fiscal health is failing, and voters are consequently upending many previously sacrosanct notions. Among those previously taboo topics, for example, is cutting spending on public schools. Governor Chris Christie is daring to take on the militant teachers unions of New Jersey, cheered on by the hard-pressed taxpayers in that most high-taxed of all states. People – especially out of work people – are no longer willing to support the endless raises, bloated administrative budgets and insane work rules demanded by a union that arguably does not deliver a good product. People want a new deal.

Senator Jim DeMint from South Carolina has introduced a constitutional amendment to establish term limits on those serving in Congress. He notes that over the past two decades politicians have been reelected 90% of the time. “Americans know that real change in Washington will never happen until we end the era of permanent politicians” says DeMint. He is completely right. In poll after poll, a large majority of Americans say they support term limits. The good news is that we may not have to wait for DeMint’s long-shot bill to pass; the Tea Partiers may impose term limits all by themselves.

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