Wednesday, June 16, 2010

DeWine: Vote For Me Because Cordray Hasn't Fixed Betty Montgomery's Crime Lab

Apparently Mike DeWine is going to make an issue of the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI), known colloquially as the state crime lab. Here he is talking to the Vindy:

    When asked about Cordray, DeWine said the Democrat has been unable to improve the productivity of the state’s crime lab, which has had problems with a backlog of processing evidence, such as DNA, for criminal cases.

    “Richard Cordray did not create the problem, but he’s not really solving the problem either,” DeWine said.
OK, first off you have to admire DeWine's instinct for the capillaries. These days when a Republican admits that his opponent faces problems he inherited it's so refreshing you almost want to vote for him.


What DeWine doesn't mention is that the crime lab has never lived up to the hype given it by Betty Montgomery. She oversaw the expansion of BCI and touted it as an accomplishment when she ran for reelection. But it has labored under severe case backlogs forever. When I was in the Summit Prosecutor's Office in the early '00s we had to wait weeks for drug test results and months for DNA in any but emergency cases. I had left the Stark County Prosecutor's Office where they have a county lab and few delays.

So what would DeWine do to actually fix the problem?
    “I can’t tell you exactly what the problem is, but I know what the results are, and the results are the crime lab needs to be run more efficiently.”
Excellent. He doesn't know what the problem is, but he's sure he has a solution to it. Mike is tha man. Well let me offer a possibility.

At one point we had a tour of the Richfield lab. It was vacuous. Desolate. Sepulcrous. In a word, empty. There was a staff of criminalists there but also many many empty work stations.

In other words, they built out a crime lab system, but didn't fund actually staffing it.

In this economic climate, you are unlikely to hear either candidate say that what we need to do is spend more money. But the fact is, a serologist can only process so many polymerase chain reactions at a time. There comes a point at which you need more serologists.

I look forward to DeWine continuing the "I can fix the problem without knowing the cause" strategy. For one thing, Cordray says he has made the labs more efficient, and hopefully he has the numbers to back it up. For another, it has always irked me that Montgomery ran on being the crime lab AG when in fact it was a job half done. Any opportunity to correct the record is welcome.

So Apparently There Was Another Elephant War and Apparently It Is Over

The ABJ carries the story today of local GOP Chair Alex Arshinkoff being unanimously reelected. The story suggests that there was another New Summit County Republicans attempt to win enough central committee seats to vote him out, but the effort stalled in February.

It is difficult at this remove to see exactly what the point is. In the first Elephant War, Arshinkoff's opponents could point to a few bad cycles, but the Republicans pretty much cleaned up in 2009, winning two Akron Muni judgeships over appointed incumbents and the Barberton Muni clerkship. Summit is a Democratic county, so winning positions like this has always been the measuring stick for the party's success.

The once well-populated New Summit Republicans website has devolved into a political blog that is A) a mess to navigate and B) exceedingly nasty even by the adjusted metric for evaluating right wing political blogs. With regard to Arshinkoff himself, the only substantive attack is the rehashed charge that he keeps losing, notwithstanding his recent successes. Aside from that, it's all fat jokes and gay slurs. Classy.

Bottom line, Arshinkoff knows how to win in unfriendly territory and how to rake in piles of cash. As long as both things are true, he is an effective party chair. As a Democrat, I'd be happy to see him replaced but it's not happening any time soon.

* * *

So it's time for another of my pathetic comeback attempts. Once again something happened that took me out of the game -- computer issues this time -- and once again the loss of momentum made it ridiculously difficult to get back in. The other stuff on my plate has been mostly cleared away, so hopefully more blogging from here out.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Right Wing Attempts to Make Ohio's Constitution Unconstitutional

The Tea Party-backed effort to put an issue on the ballot "nullifying" the health care reform's individual mandate is in the news because its supporters aren't getting enough signatures. The even wackier "Ohio Sovereignty Amendment" is not in the news, presumably because it is doing even worse.

If they passed, neither of these amendments to the Ohio Constitution would actually accomplish much, other than pulling the state into Federal litigation that it would lose.

The health care amendment states that no Ohioan can be required to purchase health insurance. The Sovereignty Amendment goes farther, purportedly restricting the Federal Government's jurisdiction in Ohio and therefore its ability to enforce any number of laws.

But the states can't do that. Article VI of the U.S. Constitution includes the "Supremacy Clause" which states:

    "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding."
Sounds pretty definitive, doesn't it. If state law contradicts Federal law, Federal law wins. Every time.

It is odd that the news coverage of these amendments does not mention this problem. It isn't a big deal at this point, given that they are no where close to getting either amendment on the ballot, but even when the amendments first made news, the supremacy problem has generally received scant attention. If either amendment unexpectedly grows legs, it would be a good thing for the media to start paying attention to the fact that neither actually accomplishes what the proponents claim.

The supporters of both amendments answer that they can nullify Federal laws when the national government has overstepped its authority. The short answer to this is that it's still the Supreme Court that has the final say over whether the Federal government has exceeded its jurisdiction, not the states.

Take this as my first post in a promised series regarding the Sovereignty Amendment. The longer answer to the jurisdiction question will be upcoming.