Wednesday, April 15, 2009

He Must Have Read Ipopa!?!?

Is DCS Director, Judge James Payne, even more ingenius then I thought?

The day after I asserted Judge Payne messed up by killing the ombudsman bill and leaving open the prospect of a stronger bill next year, State Senator Brent Waltz (R-not real sure) pulled a Lazarus and popped it back into the budget bill. Advocates for stronger DCS oversight talked to Senator Waltz, so it's unclear why he would have used language nobody favored except DCS unless.....ohhhhh! Things that make you go, "Hmmmmm!"

I wanted to make sure I'd grasped all the nuances in the bill, so I read it again. I hadn't. It's worse than I thought.

Say the ombudsman investigates a complaint and finds it has merit. He or she can now ask the agency to:

(1) ...consider the matter further; (I call this the "pretty please" option)
(2) ...modify or cancel its action;
(3) ...alter a rule, order, or internal policy; or
(4) ...explain more fully the action taken.

To say, "Thanks, but no thanks" to the ombudsman, all the agency needs to do is provide its reasons. Presumably, this would require more than, "We don't feel like it!" But who knows. Because of the confidentiality provisions in the statute, neither the general public nor the General Assembly gets the opportunity to critique the rationale offered by the agency (which is probably a good thing because even if it didn't like the rationale, there is no enforcement mechanism for putting the ombudsman's recommendations into effect).

Most of us would assume an agency that learns it has done something incorrectly would embrace a change of course once the information is brought to its attention. But were this so here, would we really need a statutory provision basically explaining how you tell the ombudsman to "shove it?"

This bill doesn't create a toothless tiger. It creates a toothless, blind tiger with chronic arthritisis.



Miklo Velka said...


You speak of Jim Payne (no longer a judge by any standard) as though he were Senator/Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars (...I know...nerd alert). I don't think the analogy is too far off.

He has orchestrated this thing since before we were even paying any attention.

Thanks for speaking up when it counted.

iPOPA said...

Oh, I don't see him as evil. I just see him as (a) devoted to his perception of what is best for DCS and (b) extremely crafty. Put those two together, and you have an able foe at the Statehouse. I may disagree with some of his positions, but I can't argue with the man's skill set. Maybe this is like General Patton respecting Ernst Rommel while recognizing they are on opposite sides of the battle.