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Governor Rod Blagojevich with Roland Burris(right)
The embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has named Roland W. Burris to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the Senate. Controversy has arisen because Blagojevich has been arrested and charged by the U.S. Attorney Office on allegations of attempting to sell the vacated seat to the highest bidder.
The Illinois Secretary of State has vowed not to certify the appointment. Harry Reid and the Democrats in Congress with the blessings of our President -elect, Barack Obama are yelling to the top of the Capitol dome that they will not seat Roland Burris.
It’s all a big smoke screen diverting attention away from Congress’ automatic pay raise and their failure to provide safeguards to assure appropriate spending of the bailed out Corporations.
First, in spite of the allegations surfacing about the pay for play scheme, Blagojevich who is presumed innocent, is still the Governor and has the sole power to make the appointment. The Secretary of State of Illinois is the keeper of the official records, laws, and Great Seal of the U.S. state of Illinois. These duties have remained unchanged since Illinois became a state in 1818. The Secretary of State shall perform all duties that may be prescribed by law. This mandatory language does not give Mr. Jesse White, the current Secretary of state, any discretion in the matter, leaving him with no choice but to certify the selection.
As to Harry Reid, President -elect Obama and the rest of the Democratic lawmakers, please go and read Powell v. McCormack, 395 U.S. 486 (1969). This case involves Congress’ refusal in 1967 to permit a re-elected Adam Clayton Powell Jr. to take his seat with the 90th Congress after being embroiled in scandals (allegedly refusing to pay a judgment ordered by a court in New York, misappropriating Congressional travel funds, and illegally paying his wife a Congressional staff salary for work she had not done).
In the 1969 case, the United States Supreme Court had to answer the question of whether Congress can exclude a person, who has met the requirements written in the text of the U.S. Constitution and who has been elected to Congress, from serving in Congress.
The majority opinion written by Chief Justice Earl Warren held that Congress does not have the power to develop qualifications other than those specified in Art. I, § 2, cl. 1-2.
Article I, section 5, of the U.S. Constitution states that “each house shall be the judge of…qualification of its own members,” but then immediately states that each House has the authority to expel a member “with the Concurrence of two thirds.” The Court which found that it had a “textually demonstrable commitment” to interpret this clause found that the clause meant that expulsion was the only method for a House after determining that the member is unqualified to serve. The Court reasoned that the authority of Congress in the Powell matter was post facto, i.e., after a member elect had been so created by his/her election under the laws of the state in which the congressional district resided; after his/her qualification for standing in such an election according to the qualifications specified in the U.S. Constitution; and after accepting the oath of office and enrollment into the Congress. In other words, Congress only remedy of expulsion cannot occur until the member elect actually takes the oath of office and of course there must be some wrong doing on the part of that member.
The Court found that if the Congress went beyond a determination that a candidate member had satisfied the Constitution’s qualifications for membership (and had been duly chosen by, and through the laws of their state) it could not (under the Constitution) go further in examining and possibly rejecting a candidate member before administering the oath of office, and seating them. Thus, the Court found that Powell was wrongfully excluded from his seat.
Although we are talking about an appointment and not an election, the Burris appointment was made properly under the laws of the State of Illinois, and therefore fits snugly in the ruling of Powell v. McCormick Id. Therefore, Congress must permit Mr. Burris who incidentally, is a Howard School of Law graduate to take the oath and be seated.
We cite the Howard law affiliation because Herbert O. Reid, a Howard University School of Law graduate and professor, represented Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and argued this landmark case before the U.S. Supreme Court. A distinguished Constitutional law professor, Mr. Reid had the assistance of the Howard law school students on the case as legal researchers and practiced his oral argument in Howard University Mock Courtroom. Prior to the Powell case, Mr. Reid taught Mr. Burris who graduated with his Juris Doctors in 1963. Now some forty odd years later, the late Professor Reid is still reminding us of our rights and obligations under the U.S. Constitution.
Mr. Burris has an outstanding record as the first African American official elected statewide in the State of Illinois. As such, he served three terms as the state’s Comptroller and also served as the states’ Attorney General. Unlike Jesse Jackson Jr., Mr. Burris who unsuccessfully sought the Senate seat early in his political career is not tainted under the current cloud of the alleged Blagojevich pay for play scandal. He at no time voted himself for an automatic pay raise which is something that the current have no shame Congress can say. Further as the Illinois State Attorney General, he did not green-light any pardons of a rich fugitive, reeking with the appearance of impropriety. In essence, the democratic Congress have no reason to bring him up for expulsion.
We should also note that Governor Blagojevich has not been convicted of any wrong doing in a court of law and as stated earlier he is presumed innocent.
Although Americans overwhelmingly voted for change in the November elections, it appears that we will start the year 2009, with the same Ole Schickardy from mostly the same ole butt-holes in Congress. We need to vote their butt-holes out the next time.
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The Last Mile Of The Way 2008
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With economy in shambles, Congress gets a raise
By Jordy Yager
Posted: 12/17/08 05:41 PM [ET]
A crumbling economy, more than 2 million constituents who have lost their jobs this year, and congressional demands of CEOs to work for free did not convince lawmakers to freeze their own pay.
Instead, they will get a $4,700 pay increase, amounting to an additional $2.5 million that taxpayers will spend on congressional salaries, and watchdog groups are not happy about it.
“As lawmakers make a big show of forcing auto executives to accept just $1 a year in salary, they are quietly raiding the vault for their own personal gain,” said Daniel O’Connell, chairman of The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), a non-partisan group. “This money would be much better spent helping the millions of seniors who are living below the poverty line and struggling to keep their heat on this winter.”
However, at 2.8 percent, the automatic raise that lawmakers receive is only half as large as the 2009 cost of living adjustment of Social Security recipients.
Still, Steve Ellis, vice president of the budget watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense, said Congress should have taken the rare step of freezing its pay, as lawmakers did in 2000.
“Look at the way the economy is and how most people aren’t counting on a holiday bonus or a pay raise — they’re just happy to have gainful employment,” said Ellis. “But you have the lawmakers who are set up and ready to get their next installment of a pay raise and go happily along their way.”
Member raises are often characterized as examples of wasteful spending, especially when many constituents and businesses in members’ districts are in financial despair.
Rep. Harry Mitchell, a first-term Democrat from Arizona, sponsored legislation earlier this year that would have prevented the automatic pay adjustments from kicking in for members next year. But the bill, which attracted 34 cosponsors, failed to make it out of committee.
“They don’t even go through the front door. They have it set up so that it’s wired so that you actually have to undo the pay raise rather than vote for a pay raise,” Ellis said.
Freezing congressional salaries is hardly a new idea on Capitol Hill.
Lawmakers have floated similar proposals in every year dating back to 1995, and long before that. Though the concept of forgoing a raise has attracted some support from more senior members, it is most popular with freshman lawmakers, who are often most vulnerable.
In 2006, after the Republican-led Senate rejected an increase to the minimum wage, Democrats, who had just come to power in the House with a slew of freshmen, vowed to block their own pay raise until the wage increase was passed. The minimum wage was eventually increased and lawmakers received their automatic pay hike.
In the beginning days of 1789, Congress was paid only $6 a day, which would be about $75 daily by modern standards. But by 1965 members were receiving $30,000 a year, which is the modern equivalent of about $195,000.
Currently the average lawmaker makes $169,300 a year, with leadership making slightly more. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) makes $217,400, while the minority and majority leaders in the House and Senate make $188,100.
Ellis said that while freezing the pay increase would be a step in the right direction, it would be better to have it set up so that members would have to take action, and vote, for a pay raise and deal with the consequences, rather than get one automatically.
“It is probably never going to be politically popular to raise Congress’s salary,” he said. “I don’t think you’re going to find taxpayers saying, ‘Yeah I think I should pay my congressman more’.”
SHOULD CONGRESS RESCIND THEIR AUTOMATIC PAY INCREASE?
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Posted 4 years, 5 months ago at 1:36 am. 1 comment
BY ANGELA JUDGE
When we are employed, resumes, professional development strategies, and career development plans are generally not at the forefront of our minds. In today’s economy, those lucky enough to have a job are praying everyday just to keep that job. To dare think about promotion and having a personal professional development strategy or career development plan is liken unto forecasting doom and gloom on an otherwise peaceful coexistence.
Regrettably, not to think about developing your resume, having a personal professional development strategy or career development plan is not wise. AT&T recently announced that it would cut the jobs of up to 12,000 employees, but firms like MetLife, JP Morgan Chase, Jabil and other major employers in the Tampa Bay area successfully manage to curtail media reports as they willfully cut thousands of jobs from the very communities that offered them millions of incentive dollars to woo them into bringing or keeping those jobs here…but I digress. Employees who are not developing resumes and the other key components to personal professional success are committing professional suicide.
As a matter of background, readers should know that on Friday, December 5, 2008, the US Department of Labor announced another record high in unemployment rates. As of the time of this writing, officials estimate that the unemployment rate reached an all time high of 6.7 percent and the government officially announced that the country is in a recession.
However, when I look at that number, like many others, my first thought is that 6.7 is such a small number. Look at it this way, if I were in school and only got 6.7 percent of the questions wrong, I would probably have one of the highest grades in the class; I would be an “A” student and that is what we all want to be. If someone gave me $100 and I only needed to give them 6.7 percent of it back, I would walk away with $93.30 and I think that is a great deal better than the $6.70 I gave back. Yes, I would be ahead of the game. So, why should I, should we be worried?
We should worry when we know the number from which 6.7 percent is a percentage. Most Americans do not have a clue. The US Department of Labor estimates there are 154,294,000 Americans eligible to work. That is nearly 155 million Americans who are of working age and eligible to work. Now if we look at 6.7 percent of that number, then we can sort of understand the dismal plight in which nearly 10,300,000 Americans find themselves. Yes, that is 10 million 300 thousand unemployed Americans.
Now I understand why 6.7 percent seems like such a big number: it really is.
Even if the government wrote the unemployment figures out, as I did, in a manner in which any third grader could understand, I am convinced that this huge number does not tell the entire dismal picture in America.
On its own website (www.bls.gov), the federal government admits that more than 1.9 million unemployed Americans are NOT included in recent unemployment rates because they have been out of work for at least 12 months and have not actively searched for employment within the most recent four week period. So now, instead of 10 million 300 thousand unemployed Americans, the US Department of Labor unofficially, but officially, recognizes at least 12 million, 200 thousand Americans are out of work.
If we take the government’s unofficial number as official, then we would hear the report as 7.9 percent of America’s eligible civilian workforce is unemployed. I dare say that even the 12 million is a highly conservative number when we take a closer look at the real number of unemployed Americans.
What would that number be if the government included Americans who have been unemployed for more than one year? What if the government included those unemployed for more than three years? What would that number be if the US Department of Labor actually called your house?
Do not fool yourselves into thinking that there is a job for any American who is willing to work. Corporations deleted more than 1,000,000 jobs from the labor market since August 2008 and there are staggering numbers of jobs pending elimination. Shrinking numbers of available jobs plus growing numbers of the unemployed plus gross corporate financial mismanagement equals an unavoidable disaster much like the perfect storm.
What are you doing to insulate yourself from these growing trends? What are you doing to prepare yourself to compete in this changing global market? There are some skills and strategies that a conscientious career-minded individual should execute. In this column, we will present some of these often unknown strategies to help you move ahead in your career.
If you have questions or concerns that you would like for us to address, please forward them to email@example.com. Next article: Your Resume: It is Only the First Step, but It is the Key to Your Eventual Success.
© By Angela Judge
Angela lives in Tampa, Florida and works as an independent technical and creative writer. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted 4 years, 5 months ago at 3:29 am. Add a comment
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On November 4, 2008 the country overwhelming voted for change. Barack Obama hasn’t even been sworn in and we are already back to the same ole schickardy in our court system.
The article below from the St. Pete Times outlines the issues prompting the accusation of racism in a recent teacher student sex case in Tampa Florida. The student was African American and mentally retarded. The teacher, a white female was given probation after pleading guilty.
The sentencing was the topic of the popular Sunday Morning Talk Radio program called The Empowerment Hour.
Read the article and listen to the radio program and give us your opinion by logging on in the comment section. You must first register to comment. All registration information (which only consist of a name and an email address) is kept confidential.
Former Special Education Teacher Christina Butler
By COLLEEN JENKINS
St. Petersburg Times
Published: Thursday, December 11, 2008 at 7:06 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 12, 2008 at 12:19 a.m.
TAMPA | A former Middleton High School teacher got probation instead of prison Wednesday for having sex multiple times with one of her special education students.
The judge who sentenced Christina Butler said the victim, then 16 and borderline mentally retarded, was probably the more mature and less vulnerable of the two.
“Perhaps he initiated it,” Hillsborough Circuit Judge J. Rogers Padgett said.
The prosecutor who will appeal Butler’s sentence — five years of sex offender probation — didn’t understand the judge’s rationale.
“I don’t know where he got that,” Assistant State Attorney Anthony Duran said. “I don’t know how a 16-year-old boy is ever more mature than a 33-year-old teacher.”
The sentence stands in stark contrast to one Padgett handed down a year ago to another teacher facing similar charges.
Last December, he sent former Wharton High teacher and basketball coach Jaymee Wallace to prison for three years, followed by three years of sex offender probation.
Wallace had a 19-month relationship with a female student, whose parents sought prison time for the teacher.
In Butler’s case, neither the teen nor his parents were in court Wednesday, and no mention was made of their wishes.
Duran objected to the judge’s departure from state sentencing guidelines, which called for at least 11 years and eight months in prison out of the maximum 30 years Butler faced.
But the sentence rested entirely in Padgett’s hands.
Butler, now 34, pleaded guilty in October to two felony counts of unlawful sexual activity without any plea deal from prosecutors.
During a three-hour hearing Wednesday, psychologists and her friends and family portrayed Butler as a fragile woman who suffered from bipolar disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts.
At 13, she was hospitalized with a concussion after being beaten by her stepfather.
They said she was not adequately medicated in fall 2007 when she began teaching a special education class at Middleton High. Some of the students harassed her and stole her money and cell phone.
A relatively new teacher, Butler said she felt overwhelmed from the start and didn’t get proper support from the school administration.
“I was scared and depressed and very anxious every day I went to work,” she said through tears in court.
One student was different, she said. He stood up for Butler, told the bullies to leave her alone.
“I saw him not as a 16-year-old student but as a man,” she said. “He didn’t seem like a child the way that he protected me and the way that he held me up.”
She said he asked to come over to her home.
“I said yes.”
The teen, who had borderline mental retardation, eventually got caught by police driving Butler’s Jeep Grand Cherokee without a license. Butler was arrested Oct. 23, 2007, and admitted to detectives that the two had sex up to a dozen times.
Assistant Public Defender Maria Pavlidis said the teen told her office that he pursued his teacher and asked for her phone number. Though Butler acknowledged Wednesday that she knew her actions were wrong, psychologists testified that she didn’t have a true sense of boundaries.
“She didn’t take advantage of a vulnerable person in this situation,” said Yolanda C. Leon, a psychologist who examined Butler. “She was the vulnerable person.”
Butler will be a registered sex offender. She can no longer teach.
Her co-workers from her new job at the Animal Coalition of Tampa closed the spay and neuter clinic Wednesday afternoon and spoke in her support at the sentencing hearing.
Padgett, who faces mandatory retirement at year’s end but plans to serve as a senior judge, said it was a unique case, “close to being upside down.”
Most defendants show remorse after they get caught. The judge apparently thought Butler’s was genuine.
How other teacher-student sex cases around Tampa Bay compare:
Debra Lafave: Received three years of house arrest and seven years of probation after pleading guilty in 2005 to having sex with a 14-year-old middle school boy.
Jaymee Wallace: Received three years of prison and three years of sex offender probation after pleading guilty in 2007 to having a sexual relationship with a student who played on her high school girls basketball team.
Ronald Lewis: Received one year of house arrest and nine years of sex offender probation after pleading guilty last month to unlawful sexual activity with a teen girl he coached in soccer.
* House Arrest Ends for Ex-Teacher, Sex Offender
* School Official: Bad Teachers Hard to Fire
* Teacher Accused of Repeated Sex With Student | Video
* $200,000 Bail Set For Teacher In Sex Case
* Polk Teacher Charged With Sex With Teen Boy
“I don’t think there’s any chance in the world that you’re going to reoffend,” he told her.
The sentencing prompted a radio discussion on the Empowerment Hour. To hear the discussion, please click below. Also sound off and let us know your thoughts on the Judge’s sentence.
December 14, 2008 Broadcast of The Empowerment Hour
Posted 4 years, 5 months ago at 5:12 pm. 2 comments