Saturday, February 26, 2011

New El Paso commissioner won't let term limit trick stand

As noted in previous posts, the voters of El Paso County, Colorado, woke up Nov. 3 shocked to find they had voted to weaken their popular county term limits law. They were surprised because the deceptive ballot language used by the El Paso County politicians led voters to think they were voting for term limits!

New commissioner Darryl Glenn -- pictured above -- diplomatically points out "the community feels something underhanded has happened" and proposes that the controversy can be put to rest by placing the issue back on the November ballot in 2011. Simple enough. The reaction from the perps can best be paraphrased as "No way, buddy, we stole that election fair and square!"

However, the scammers do see some room for a compromise. Commissioners Amy Lathen and Dennis Hisey suggested they are open to putting it back on the ballot, but only in 2012 -- ensuring that they get to run for another term in the meantime!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rand Paul: "I will vote to institute term limits"

In a new book released this week, newly minted U.S. Senator Rand Paul tells the story of his surprising rise to national prominence in The Tea Party Goes to Washington.

Less surprising is Rand’s reiterating of his support for Congressional term limits amid his broader program for reforming – or, better, reducing – the federal government. At the end of the book he lays down several clear promises:

“I will vote to institute term limits. I will not vote for a tax increase. I will not vote for earmarks. I will not vote for an unbalanced budget. I will not vote to go to war without a formal declaration as our soldiers deserve and our Constitution demands.”

Certainly this is the Tea Party ethos in a nutshell.

In an interesting side story, Rand notes that a student asked him if his support of term limits required him to oppose veteran Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell. “I replied that, no, my support for term limits would mean even my father would have to come home and I wasn’t running against my father either.”

Congratulations Palm Beach County! Citizen-initiated term limits now in effect

Nearly a decade ago, a handful of Palm Beach County citizens launched a citizen initiative effort to limit the terms of Palm Beach County Commissioners to eight years in office. Before the measure reached the 2002 ballot -- where 70% of county voters approved it -- over 150 citizens had joined the campaign, many spending week after week in the hot Florida sun to collect 65,000 signatures from their neighbors.

Their hard work paid off. After eight years, the term limits are now fully in effect. Two current commissioners are no longer eligible to run for re-election: Karen Marcus and Burt Aaronson. Ironically, three other commissioners that would otherwise be affected were indicted on corruption charges and involuntarily left office, underscoring the need for the term limits in the county.

Term limits encourage greater participation and transparency in government as well as regular, competitive elections. It is through the concern and perseverance of the citizenry that they have been achieved.

For a full 'Thank You' list of the citizens who made it happen, plus current news about the term limits law and – sadly -- the machinations of local politicians to circumvent it, see the new local blog here.

If you are local, while you're there you can answer the poll question in the upper right corner of the page: "Would you support a politician who works behind the scenes to overturn our voter-approved term limits law?" Let them know!


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Egyptian protestors demand term limits

When the Egyptian protestors first took to the streets of Egypt on January 25, they demanded presidential term limits and resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. Not long before Mubarak agreed to step down, a judiciary committee in Egypt agreed to accept the people’s demands and amended six articles of the country’s constitution – including article 76, putting terms limits on the presidency.

It was too little, too late.

Whereas term limits mandate rotation in office even in corrupt democracies, without them sham elections and entrenched leadership often can only be ousted via violence. Hence, the street had to take care of what constitutional rules and elections should have done.

Mubarak had served in office 30 years as ruler of Egypt. And he is not alone in the region. Muammar al-Gaddafi has ‘served’ Libya for 42 years, Sultan Qaboos biri Said Al Said has served Oman for 41 years, Omar al-Bashir in Sudan served for 21 years and Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen has served for 32 years.

That’s nearly as long as U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-MI, 55 years), Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI, 51 years), Rep. Charles Rangell (D-NY, 40 years) and Rep. Bill Young (R-FL, 40 years) have 'served' us in Congress.

Our Founders recognized that rotation in office was essential for democracy to function and liberty be preserved. The world needs term limits, from the thrones of the Middle East to the U.S. Capitol.