Friday, June 03, 2005

When Spinmeisters attack!

The Governor has sent a letter to the Attorney General, and is flooding the airwaves with rhetoric of conflict of interest. It is clear, to those of us who can look at this objectively, that all he is doing is trying to distract from his inability to lead towards common ground during the budget impasse. The Governor has all but given up, apparently, and now feels he will be further restricted by friction within the AG's office. But the reality is, that the concerns is baseless.

First, the AG represents the state, not the Governor, and to think that Mike Hatch would not ensure that the citizens are fully protected makes the Governor come across as ignorant. The PiPress lays it out nicely:
Pawlenty told reporters he raised the question because Hatch may have "divided loyalties that may put him in an awkward spot." Hatch has expressed interest in running for governor next year, but has not declared his candidacy.

The governor mentioned the issue in notifying Hatch that he plans to ask the state courts to give his administration power to keep the essential functions of government running and pay for them in the event he and the Legislature fail to finish passing a budget by June 30.

A court order would avert a complete government shutdown when state appropriations expire at the end of the month.

Hatch said he was a "little bemused" by Pawlenty's inquiry because he had told the governor's chief of staff in the last two weeks that he was preparing a petition asking the court to keep the government's "core functions" — those protecting the life, health and safety of citizens — operating in case the Legislature and governor don't pass spending bills in time. He said he asked the administration to prepare a list of those essential services.
OK, fair enough, but do we have a recent precedent to add credibility to Hatch's claim:
That's what happened in 2001, when the Legislature and Gov. Jesse Ventura were on the verge of shutting down state government in a budget dispute.

On the day before the shutdown was to occur, a judge granted Hatch's request for an order requiring state agencies to continue performing essential services until a budget was passed. Ventura and the lawmakers then quickly agreed to a budget deal and avoided a shutdown.
It looks to me like Hatch has done his job before, and is doing it now in representing the best interests of the citizens of Minnesota. My advice to the Governor is he should start doing the same!


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