Thursday, February 12, 2009

329. Impeach the Lieutenant Governor

I know. It's too late. Our Legislature has voted against such action.

But just as an exercise in futility, I've got opinions about this subject.

I wrote a response, hopefully informative, to the letter written by "Cristy Sablan of San Antonio," and my full response is posted at the Day In Court blog.

I'm frustrated by the ignorance of our Constitution and the willingness of people like Ms. Cristy Sablan to spout off nonsense, well, more aptly non-sequiturs, as if they were some logical argument against impeachment. Better if she simply said she likes the Lieutenant Governor and doesn't want to see him impeached.

But Ms. Cristy Sablan is presumably an ordinary citizen, so her failure to grasp the finer points may be excusable. (I don't know her and am not attacking her personally, just her expressed "argument" against impeachment.) Her confusion should not confuse the rest of us. So I deal with that in a nice manner, with legal cites and information to clear the air.

But I have more thoughts, less informational, more personal, more opinionated, that I'll ruminate on here.

What really frustrates and upsets me is the ignorance and LAME EXCUSES of our legislators.

LAME EXCUSE # innumerable--

Diego Benavente: "We will taint the trial."
Well, don't you think a lot of yourself. And don't you think very little of the voters who will be jurors. Do you really think we are incapable of understanding that there's a difference between criminal charges and the charges for impeachment? I have more faith in the ability of the average citizen to understand. I have more faith in our prosecutors and defense counsel to make sure the jurors grasp this distinction. Do you, as a Legislator, benefit from confusing and obfuscating issues and making sure the public really is as ignorant as you hope? Do you really think that what you do is so compelling that jurors are going to stop thinking, stop paying attention in a trial, and just follow your lead.

This fear that a Legislature doing what it should do to investigate an elected official for possible serious dereliction of duty and impeachable offenses is just bullshit. It's an excuse to keep on doing nothing.

LAME EXCUSE #beyond infinity--
Ralph Torres: “There's a reason why you're innocent until proven guilty,” said Rep. Ralph Torres. “Let's respect the Judicial Branch,” he said, adding that it's not a matter of turning away from the issue but respecting the system.
If you really respected the system, you'd know that what works in our government is EVERYONE doing their job. When our Legislators fail to do their job, we have a system that is not respected, not working.

As noted above, the judge, the prosecuting counsel, the defense counsel, and the jurors are very capable of understanding the finer issues, of thinking for themselves. Obviously, our Legislators have greater difficulty with this.

Tim Villagomez is innocent until proven guilty; but what does that have to do with whether the Legislature will take up the matter of impeachable offenses? He can still be guilty of impeachable offenses to the standard the Legislature uses and be found not-guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on the criminal charges. He could be guilty in both places. He could be not guilty of everything.

But Legislators CANNOT and SHOULD NOT abdicate their jobs to let the feds and the judicial system do all the heavy lifting. This is Lame Excuse nonsense, and simply put--cowardice.

LAME EXCUSE # same-old,same-old--
Joseph Deleon Guerrero: "Deleon Guerrero said he realizes that if the situation occurred in the States, the Legislature would more than likely proceed with such an investigation.

“I'm glad cultural sensitivities are still important,” he said. “It's not our culture to beat someone who is already down.”

Is it our culture to turn a blind-eye to wrong-doing by elected officials? If it is, perhaps we need to change our culture.

Is it our culture to never criticize someone accused of a crime? I hadn't noticed that when the criminal is poor, so perhaps our culture just employs a double-standard? Do we want that?

Is it our culture to consider that doing your job as a Legislator who investigates wrong-doing is "beating" someone up? If our Legislators are too timid to stand up for what is right, why did they take their jobs?

I realize that there are cultural issues that lurk beneath the surface of many things here. But I also believe that we do a disservice to real cultural issues when we use this word to cloak every decision we make.

So from my p.o.v., this is another LAME EXCUSE.

In the CNMI, in Saipan, we know people. It always seems "personal" when we talk about matters that involve real people. But we can move beyond this by thinking of principals, by examining things from a more philosophical point of view.

If our CNMI Legislators are not going to investigate an elected official for possible impeachment when federal authorities have obtained felony indictments against him for crimes that relate to honesty and integrity in office, when exactly will they think something is bad enough to investigate for impeachment?

Tim Villagomez exits federal court. Photo from Wendy's blog.

If Tim Villagomez is found guilty, will they then not want to impeach because he's going to jail anyway?

Where is the line?

We need a line.

We need a Legislature that does its work and stops making lame excuses.


Lil' Hammerhead said...

I thought many of the same things as I read that letter. Puhleez! Who put her up to that one.. or more likely.. who is she related to?

Saipan Writer said...

Having the illogic come from a letter-writer isn't half as bad as having it come from our elected Legislators. The article where they "explain" why they all voted against even forming a committee to investigate was just preposterous.

Ron said...

This is another classic post, and letter SW!!

It is also another example of the cowardace in our weak Congress.

Saipan Writer said...

Thanks, Ron.

What about the delay in over-riding the veto on the budget! Today's headlines--Haha!

Too many excuses to keep track of.