consultants are sandburs

Friday, December 21, 2012

Robyn West did a stupid thing, disrespectful of the common sense notion of avoiding waste of public money and time, and for that she deserves the lump of coal she got from the OAH [STATE OF MINNESOTA OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS]. I saw the film, and I expect Forrest Gump would have shown better judgment.

I didn't vote for Robyn West because I am not in her district and were I, I would have voted for Dan Sanders. Sanders is not on record for instigating and pushing frivolous administrative complaints.

Before thinking I judge our esteemed County Board Commissioner harshly consider what she did - and reckon for yourself roughly how many hundreds of public dollars were likely flushed down the drain by whim of this self-styled fiscal conservative.

How do you judge that? Well, here are screen captures of the three leading pages of a seven page OAH opinion, online here. Click each thumbnail below to enlarge to read and to judge for yourself. (Or read the entire linked online pdf doc; where the final two pages of that OAH item capture the gist of the reviewing panel's analysis.)

I do not believe most taxpayers expect this kind of thing, and if knowing of it, my belief is they'd disapprove of it as uncalled for waste.

Taxpayers pay their taxes with the expectation that money will be prudently spent in light of it being an extraction of money made under penalty of law for non-compliance.

Taxpayers do not expect that mechanisms set up for serious review of serious claims of election law breach will be misused for frivolous claim-making, for which there might be, but as yet is not a discretionary penalty similar to that imposed for frivolous litigation in the courts.

Truly, Ms. West, that OAH opinion is handing you a real lump of coal for Christmas; and done because it was stupendously deserved. Lady, what were you thinking? (If "thinking" is the term rather than it being a wholly visceral and vindictive attack.)

... Daring to place campaign signs, in public places; after all, what gall ... it cannot go unassailed if there be even one ultra-miniscule detail whatsoever to quibble over regarding a single sign or two among many, for quibble we must and damn the cost to the public ...

I don't like that. The quibbling was a premeditated conscious choice, with nothing mandating it be done instead of clear token error being sensibly overlooked as a petty and inconsequential thing, and one not to be brought to administrative hearing.

Captioned photo from here. See opening sentence by Judge Alexander in an out-of-state judicial opinion online here. My understanding is the opposing county board candidate, Dan Sanders, settled and paid West fifty bucks as "please go away" money but that West in negotiations between the lawyers refused an identical offered settlement from Citizens for Responsible Government, to instead exhaust available administrative hopes for differing relief.

Judge for yourself, did Commisioner West show Responsible Government in pushing this sorry claim?

As a correction of an incorrect statement, Sanders agreed to pay the State a token fine of fifty bucks and West and Sanders were each satisfied with that resolution of the complaint West filed against Sanders.

Still, in substance it was a token amount paid by Sanders by agreement between West and Sanders; with West being unwilling to settle on like terms with the Citizens for Responsible Government. In taking that harsh approach West attained an outcome where she saw a fine of half that offered fifty dollar settlement amount imposed for an inconsequential breach of an arcane election regulatory statute with regard to roadway signs.

The commonly used term "pissing contest" comes to mind, and it was Citizens for Responsible Government that wanted to curtail it and West who both started it, and wanted it continued, pressing her complaint to the hilt, where the administrative law judges involved spent substantial time and are not insubstantially paid.

Bottom line, West prolonged a pissing match that never had any sensible basis to have been started in the first place, and taxpayers pay the cost of the mechanism she exploited against political enemies. One hopes our elected representatives have better things to do with their time, and a sounder sense of proportion.


Wes Volkenant said...

Your final paragraph is an apt summary of the situation. Thank you for bringing this "pissing contest" to our attention.

eric zaetsch said...

Thanks, Wes. I cannot understand why anyone would do that kind of petty thing.

I hope the Anoka County Watchdog watches this, and barks at wholly inexcusible waste.

West is a Watch Dog favorite, but if partisanship trumps good sense in a pub's mind, credibility suffers.

I did send a link to the post to the Watch Dog, so the pup need not sniff out the story, but given friendships, can write of things from West's perspective - the why did you do THAT answer we all should have.

eric zaetsch said...

Wes - one more thing -

Do you think Robyn West or anybody else did not know who put the two signs up over which she complained?

If she'd been scouting signs for just such a token violation, she'd have had actual notice, from all the other signs, and knew exactly who had posted the ones she used as basis for a costly formal complaint.

It is not as if she'd filed a "John Doe" complaint for lack of knowing precisely whose signs she was dumping on.

With express notice, how could she contend she was aggrieved, (or that anybody else would care)?

The issue is JUDGMENT. Its presence or absence.

Mind-boggling bad judgment is how I see it.

I do hope the Watch Dog has a word or two on topic, to share with independent readers, or readers of either the DFL or Republican parties.