Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Political Party Truce

Have you heard about the nation's political parties' ethics truce? Democrat and Republican parties have for several years had an unwritten understanding to keep quiet about each other’s unethical little doings. Try googling this: "you kill my dog, I'll kill your cat." House of Representatives John Doolittle (R) made that statement after Chris Bell (D) said he would send a complaint about Tom DeLay (R) to the House ethics committee. Pretty funny huh? I read the story recently, but it was written in 2004, by Charles Babington.

It seems oversights committees are more interested in appearing to be ethical, than they are in actually policing unethical behavior. They create committees to ensure what they call "public confidence." The average "Joe " translation for that term is "continued flow of tax money."

In an article "Watchdogs on Short Leashes: Electorate: the ultimate judge," published on the eve of 2002 on the website of the Center For Public Integrity, there was information regarding the Maine Ethics Commission. Apparently, the Commission’s own executive director had doubts about the legislative oversights Commission:

Bill Hain, executive director of the Maine Commission on Governmental and Election Practices, said the legislature created his commission to placate the public rather than to have meaningful oversight of the legislature. (Vogel and Rush, 2001).

"How Dare You Professor?"

“How dare you teach classes like Constitutional Law, Ethics, and Appellate Practice?” I told Cabanne Howard over the phone in November. He’s the executive secretary for the Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability... he advises the Committee. Howard is also a Law Professor at the Maine School of Law in Portland. According to Committee rules, all complaints must be investigated, unless they're frivolous. Since the Committee, however, only publicizes those complaints which get investigated... they can hide behind this curtain of "confidentiality."

Peter Pitegoff is Dean of the University of Maine School of Law where “Cab,” Howard teaches. The school is one of only two law schools in New England; the other is located in Boston Massachusetts. I sent Pitegoff a duplicate of my request to the committee for an investigation. On a sticky note I asked him “Will you command justice or go down with Mr. Howard?” I never heard from Pitegoff. The University of Maine System is made up of seven universities throughout the state. I attended at Southern Maine in the 1980’s, Fort Kent in the 1990’s. Upon returning to the valley, I attended again, at U.M.F.K., in the fall of 2006 and spring of 2007; and, I have to admit that I felt a little “beat” that my tuition dollars were supporting a university system whose dean would not confront Professor Cabanne Howard about the dismissals of valid complaints of judicial misconduct.