Thursday, May 10, 2007

Is Wisconsin ruled by a dictator?

I know Daniel Bice is having a blast beating up on new Attorney General JB Van Hollen. The article is full of the typical nastiness from Bice.

Ignoring his nastiness for a moment, Bice brings up a point that really has me bothered.

Bice points out that JB Van Hollen promised to drop all of the frivolous law suits that cost taxpayers millions of dollars a year.

As it turns out, our state's Attorney General does not have the power to decide what cases to prosecute and what cases not to prosecute. One person has that power- the governor.

As it turns out, the first-term Republican doesn't even have the authority to dismiss pending state cases. He must go to Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle for permission.

So wasn't it just a little misleading for Van Hollen and his team to make dropping frivolous suits a centerpiece of the campaign?

"I can't speak for the campaign," Van Hollen spokesman Kevin St. John said this week.
In March, Van Hollen's top aide, Ray Taffora, asked the governor if the state could pull out of a lawsuit brought by Lautenschlager that accuses cranberry grower William Zawistowski of destroying Musky Bay with runoff from his farm. The governor rejected the request, allowing the suit to proceed.

Doyle appointed a private law firm to argue the case.

This is wrong on so many levels. Now we find out that the governor controls what cases get prosecuted and what cases do not.

Today we also find out that only do taxpayers pay for our state judicial offices, but Governor Doyle can hire an outside private firm to prosecute cases he wants to prosecute. I am sure our tax dollars are also paying for the private firm also.

Ask yourself a few questions-

What if a case is brought against the governor himself? Can the governor block this case from going forward?

What if Attorney General Van Hollen attempts to prosecute a democrat for anything? Can Governor Doyle over-ride the Attorney General?

Is this constitutional?

So much for separate but equal branches of government. So much for the balance of power in the state of Wisconsin.

Is Wisconsin ruled by a dictator?

Right now- it sure looks that way.

The Governor holds all the power in the state of Wisconsin.

Currently, our state legislators have no power over the budget. The Governor can make the budget say whatever he wants it to say with the Frankenstein Veto.(By the way- yesterday, the spineless Democrats in the Senate, have once again put off voting on the Frankenstein veto)

Now we find out that the Attorney General is also subject to whims of the Governor.

Basically our justice department and our state legislators are controlled by Governor Doyle.

Whatever Governor Doyle wants- Governor Doyle gets!

I'll ask the question again-

Is Wisconsin ruled by a dictator?


jeff said...

No, Wisconsin is not ruled by a dictator. It is ruled by an elected Governor who has statutory authority to determine civil suits which the State can proceed with. He has no say over criminal matters except the ability to pardon and commute sentences. As for the Franken-veto, it is a power which has been exercised by Governors from both parties. It is not something that came in with current Governor. You can certainly argue with how it is used, just as Democrats did when it was a Republican wielding the power.

While I agree with you that many of the lawsuits instituted by our former Attorney General were ill-advised and should not have been filed, there are legal arguments to be made that they do have a good faith basis.

Let's all be mature enough to argue the merits and not just scream hyperbole because we dont like the guy in office.

The Recess Supervisor said...

No disrespect intended, but just because Dan Bice reports this now doesn't mean that people didn't know about it earlier.

Doyle has authority over Van Hollen because as Governor, Doyle oversees all of the executive branch agencies, of which the Department of Justice is one. Just because we elect an Attorney General (or a Treasurer or DPI Secretary, for instance) does not give them autonomy. This has nothing to do with separation of powers, since Van Hollen ultimately plays for Team Doyle.

Doyle has veto authority that was granted to him by... drum roll... the State Constitution. Had Republicans really wanted to get rid of that, well, they had control of both legislative chambers in the 2003 and 2005 sessions. They could've passed a constitutional amendment and sent it off to voters, who I suspect would've approved it. That they didn't get it done leaves them with nobody to blame but themselves.