Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Federal Court Rules Obamacare Unconstitutional, Jim Hood had said "unlikely"

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked if Obamacare was constitutional, she could not believe the reporter was serious. Her office went on the record as saying, "That is not a serious question."

When Attorney General Jim Hood was asked to file a lawsuit on behalf of Mississippi against Obamacare, he said back in April of this year it was unlikely a court would find Obamacare beyond the scope of the Commerce Clause:
Given the extremely broad scope of Congress's commerce power under existing case law from the last sixty years, it is unlikely the a court would find the Act with its regulated activity of healthcare and health insurance to be beyond that authority....After hours of research, the consultation with constitutional law scholars, and a review of actions of other states' Attorneys General on the health care reform legislation, we have found no authority to support a suit.
Now that unlikely federal court has ruled. The court ruled:
At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance -- or crafting a scheme of universal health coverage -- it's about an individual's right to choose to participate....no specifically articulated constitutional authority exists to mandate the purchase of health insurance....an individual's personal decision to purchase - or decline to purchase - health insurance from a private provider is beyond the historical reach of the Commerce Clause...On care review, this Court must conclude that Section 1501 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - specifically the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision - exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.
Governor Haley Barbour said:
The decision of the federal court in Virginia is encouraging to all of us who consider the Obamacare law unconstitutional; however, we know the case will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Virginia Attorney General has asked the Supreme Court to rule on this directly rather than going first through an appeals court. If it goes to the Supreme Court, will Jim Hood finally get on board? In his letter to Governor Haley Barbour mentioned above, Hood said:
If some viable cause of action arises during the years of litigation, it would be much cheaper for the state of Mississippi to wait to join the suit when it gets to the U.S. Supreme Court.
It has been months not years, but maybe that won't discourage Hood.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hood and BP Spill

We wonder if Attorney General Jim Hood made specific recommendations (and if they are on his campaign contribution list) or just generally suggested this practice.
Mr. Feinberg also will announce Monday that anyone who wants a lawyer to help them sort through the new options can have one for free. At the request of Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, Mr. Feinberg plans to hire a firm to offer the free legal services to claimants.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Republicans celebrate new PSC Commissioner, McComb Mayor

Republicans are having a good day. Majority in Mississippi posts that the GOP has two new officials elected this week (new mayor and selectman in McComb), plus a new Public Service Commissioner who is a former Democratic legislator and won his PSC in 2007 and will run next year as a Republican. PSC Commissioner Lynn Posey's switch is huge for the GOP.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Guy, Brock appeal fraud

Y'all Politics posts that Attorneys William Guy and Thomas Brock are appealing a federal jury's ruling that they committed fraud in litigation against Illinois Central Railroad. As you will recall, both are significant contributors to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Butch Brown and Cancer

We've had a good time poking fun at Butch Brown. But cancer is no laughing matter. We hope for him and his family his treatment is successful and are glad to see he is in good spirits about it.
Former Mayor and Mississippi Department of Transportation commissioner Larry “Butch” Brown recently discovered his prostate cancer has come back for the third time since 2008, but he said everything is business-as-usual at work and at home on his end.

“(Doctors) performed additional biopsies and found that I do have more — and a more powerful — reoccurrence of cancer in my prostate, so now we’re looking at surgical removal,” Brown said.

Despite his diagnosis, Brown said he feels perfectly normal.

“If doctor hadn’t told me I was sick I wouldn’t know I was sick — I feel just fine,” Brown said.

As far as his own health, Brown said he is living his life as usual.

“I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve always done — try to stay out of trouble, keep doing things for MDOT and the City of Natchez and playing with my grandchildren — that sort of thing,” Brown said.

“I’m gonna be here a long time — trust me. The people of Natchez and the people of Mississippi are going to have to put up with me for a long time.”

MDOT: We don't need no stinking traffic lights

This is an example of a city trying to take care of a problem before it happens, and a bureaucracy that won't take steps until after the problem occurs. Sandersville wants a traffic light because of expectations of more traffic once a new casino is open. But MDOT apparently can only react and not solve a problem before it happens.
Sandersville Mayor Walter “Buzz” Jack and other town and county officials met with Southern Transportation Commissioner Wayne H. Brown Wednesday to discuss the possibility of installing a traffic light at the intersection of Highway 11 and Main Street in the small Jones County community.

Brown and Pol said Mississippi Department of Transportation officials have determined that a traffic light is not warranted in the area. Brown said MDOT looked at such things as traffic, concentration, accident records, speed, proximity to the railroad and other factors in reaching its decision.

“Traffic signals do not necessarily reduce traffic,” explained Brown. “Neither do they promote safety.”
Now this is the best part.
He pointed out a section of highway in Gulfport were traffic signals were put up with the expectation of having a safer roadway. However Brown said more than 300 accidents occurred on the section of road that had traffic lights, while only about 45 occurred where there were no lights.
That's right. According to MDOT Commissioner Wayne Brown, traffic lights are dangerous. They increase accidents.
The commissioner told the group that the average cost of a traffic light is $500,000.
A traffic light costs half-a-million dollars. We're all in the wrong business. The good news is we can fix some of the state budget problems. According to Wayne Brown, traffic lights are expensive and dangerous. Why don't we just not install any more?
Still not convinced a traffic light wouldn’t be good for the area, Jack asked if a traffic light could be installed at the intersection if the town and Choctaws partnered to do it.

“No, we will not issue a permit for a traffic light unless it is warranted,” replied Brown. “We’ll look at it again if things change somewhere down the road.”
If something changes somewhere down the road...you mean like a casino opening down the road?
Strain advised those in attendance that the casino is scheduled to open Dec. 20. “We are looking at a daily average of about 500 to 600 cars,” said Strain. “That number may increase during the weekends.”
We suspect there are instances of MDOT putting up traffic lights in anticipation of events rather than just based on past traffic levels.
“We are concerned about safety, not so much for the people going to the casino, but for those who live here,” said Jack. “Once the casino opens, I’m sure we will begin to hear complaints from our people about not being able to get from one side of the road to the other.

“We wanted to avoid some of these things and were looking at a traffic light as a good way of doing it.”
Sandersville, this is really a local problem. It isn't like MDOT created it.
Jack said a traffic light once stood at the intersection, but was removed when the state did some work on Highway 11. He said the town was told that a traffic light or flashing yellow lights would be placed at the intersection, but so far the town hasn’t received anything.
Oh, well, look at it this way Sandersville, MDOT did you a favor by removing that dangerous traffic light. Although it would be interesting to know where that traffic light went. Did it go up somewhere else? Is it in storage? Was it sold? We have determined they are quite valuable. But then again, why anyone would want to buy such a dangerous thing?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

One Brown Down

One of the Brown Boys has decided to throw in the towel.
Southern District Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown said Friday he isn’t running for re-election. He said Friday his announcement was only confirming the obvious. “It’s the worst-kept secret,” Brown said with a laugh.

Mississippi’s three-member transportation commission is likely to look much different soon. In addition to Brown’s replacement, the northern district will also be represented by a first-termer. An election will be held Jan. 11 to replace Northern District Transportation Commissioner Bill Minor, who died in office Nov. 1.

Minor and Brown, both Democrats, often found themselves opposing Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall, a Republican, on major issues including the job performance of MDOT Executive Director Larry Lynn “Butch” Brown.
The new commission may decide the fate of the other Brown.
The 2011 primaries are in August and the general election in November.

Brown's planned departure is a poorly kept political secret. Rumors have swirled for some time that he likely would not seek re-election.

Others already have been lining up for the post, most notably, Senate Highways and Transportation Committee Chairman Tom King, R-Petal. King said Friday that he is taking a hard look at the job and will make a formal announcement in early January.

In the Northern District, the qualifying deadline for candidates is 5 p.m. Friday. Holly Springs resident Ray Minor - Bill Minor's younger brother and business partner - already has turned in his signatures for qualification. Also having met the qualifying deadline are Tippah County District 4 Supervisor Dennis Grisham; Grenada business owner Larry Lee; MDOT employee Larry Lee; and DeSoto County schools transportation director John Caldwell. House Transportation Committee Chairman Warner McBride, D-Courtland, also has announced. Others are eyeing the post.
We hear those in the transportation community view both elections as a referendum on Butch Brown. And that it is not so much a partisan race. For example, it is expected that Ray Minor and Warner McBride, both Democrats, would support Butch Brown. But in the Southern District, the word is that the Republican Tom King would also support Butch Brown.
Wayne Brown has stood behind embattled MDOT Executive Director Butch Brown, who is of no relation.

Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall made a motion to dismiss Butch Brown following the MDOT chief's run-in with the law this summer at the Beau Rivage casino, a vote Hall lost by a 2-1 split.
He actually didn't lose the vote, his motion died for failure to get a second. Bill Minor and Wayne Brown would not even allow the motion to come to a vote.
Butch Brown was arrested in July on a public intoxication charge, which was eventually dropped in return for his agreeing to take anger management classes. Butch Brown was in hot water again in November after he railed on federal U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood during a meeting of national highway leaders.

Hall said he is planning to seek re-election next year. If he wins, he will be the senior member, but Hall said he's not concerned about training newcomers.

"I'm sure whoever wins will come in and we'll bring them up to speed right quick," he said. "We have a pretty senior staff. Added Hall: "It's no secret I plan to make a change at the top if I get the vote to do that."
We hope voters send Hall some backup so we can see a real change at MDOT.