Republican beer goggles

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, August 02, 2004

OK, Ms. Hoffman, let me help you remove your "Republican beer goggles" for a minute, because House Bill 414 (regardless of how it seems) is really not good for either party. Giving the governor the right to appoint a "temporary senator" until an election is possible is a loophole that should be removed.

This loophole, according to Section 15.40.145 of HB 414, is basically 85 days worth (at least) of unelected influence in Congress. This may seem fine and kosher when we have a Republican governor and Republican representation in Congress, but what happens when/if our governor is of a different party than the person for whom he/she is choosing a replacement? That governor then gets nearly three months to influence (unjustly) any legislation going through Congress.

Although the possibility for abuse would be rare, it would only take a single opportunity for such an abuse to have potentially catastrophic results. Wouldn't it then be much more logical to simply remove this section of the bill and let any unplanned vacancy in Congress stand till a special election could be held?

This action would provide two additional benefits above what the current bill would provide. First, there would be greater motivation at the state level to organize the special election in order to not leave the seat vacant in Congress for any undue period, and second, it would prevent any individual of ill repute from deciding to "remove" a legislator on the belief that the governor would appoint someone preferable. While the second reason is rather far-fetched, in light of recent events, it is also entirely plausible, especially if the senator in question was in a "deciding vote" position on pending legislation.

Why leave such a possibility open? We would be better off just leaving the "temporary appointee" section out.

With this in mind, it is quite easy to identify the substantial difference between what the Legislature passed and what the proposed ballot initiative would have required. The two are quite different.

Our representatives in Congress need to be elected. Period. That is how a democracy works.

Patrick McGonegal

Juneau



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