This page includes posts from February 12-25, 2006 in the usual reverse
order. Each posting on the home page is perma-linked to these
February 25, 2006
This afternoon I posted my newest golf book review, which you can read here.
Roberta Isleib says that Final Fore is the last in her Cassie Burdette mystery series.
I hope she's just kidding.
February 23, 2006
Chancellor William Chandler writes with startling clarity when he sees the need to do so, which for members of the corporate bar appearing before him can be a frequent occurrence.
In a recent letter opinion about a proxy/merger fight over Serena Software, Inc., for example, he suggested he would go Biblical on the plaintiffs if they couldn't prove why their case was distinguishable from a similar lawsuit that had been recently settled in the California courts.
Shortly after Serena announced that another company was going to buy it for $24 a share, two groups of class action plaintiffs filed suits against the deal--one in Delaware and the other in the Golden Bear State. The subsequent proxy statements filed with the SEC allegedly failed to address the Delaware plaintiffs' disclosure claims. The California plaintiffs then reached a settlement with the company, but the Delaware plaintiffs pressed on. They filed for an expedited hearing in Chancery Court, suggesting that their problems with the company disclosures still weren't fully addressed in the Memorandum of Understanding for the California settlement.
The Chancellor agreed to expedite the Delaware case, but he also gave a bit more than a hint about the potential consequences if he later felt misled:
Something about that highlighted phrase sounded familiar, so I did a little searching and found this:
Yea, verily--and woe to those who do not heed the Chancellor's word.
February 23, 2006
The recent cartoon controversy that inspired the placement of the Danish flag at the top of the home page of this site has also produced at least one odd couple.
Former cabinet secretary William Bennett and current Harvard law school professor Alan Dershowitz co-wrote a very good op-ed that ran in today's Washington Post.
I highly recommend it to you.
This passage in particular appealed to me:
The sorry story about most of the nation's major media outlets on this issue gives me the impression that their editors and publishers would rather wish away the reasons why 9/11 occurred, rather than deal openly with the risks presented by actual, mortal enemies.
One would think that there had already been enough examples in the last century of the evil that follows appeasement, without adding to the list in this one.
February 20, 2006
Hope you like them.
February 19, 2006
I've added a photoblog to Sneaking Suspicions, which I'm calling Along the Way.
That's because most of these photographs were taken during my daily commute to and from work along a 41-mile stretch of Kent and Sussex Counties in Delaware. There will also be some other pictures of Delaware scenes taken elsewhere.
Some of these shots appeared here previously, but in a smaller frame. I also switched to a white background, instead of the light-yellow you see here.
February 19, 2006
If you really want to understand which policy priorities drive government, look at where the money goes, instead of where the political types focus their public pronouncements.
And if you really want to understand the power relationships between those governments, look how they distribute the money among themselves.
Itís a political version of one of the golden rules: whoever has the gold makes the rules.
A February 16 article by Dennis Cauchon in USA Today discussed one aspect of this story, describing how state and local governments have increased their reliance on federal funds. One-third of the inflation-adjusted rise in state and local government spending since 2000 has come directly from federal coffers, with half of that from Medicaid allotments.
This is not really news to those who follow state budgets on regular basis. Nonetheless, the USA Today piece is a useful reminder of how much tax revenues are imported from the Feds into the bank accounts of smaller governments, along with all the rules about how it can and must be spent.
The only real quibble I had with the story was its headline:
For sheer obviousness, this one earns a single Claude.
I also suggest that Cauchon and his fellow reporters might find it interesting to follow how the state governments deal with reduced Federal funding by reducing their own revenue transfers to local governments. After all, when the moneyís not coming in from above, itís harder to find the cash to hand out to those below you on the government ladder.
Local governments in Delaware had a similar experience in the current fiscal year relating to municipal street aid. This program is a form of revenue-sharing, in which a set amount of state money is distributed from the stateís Transportation Trust Fund to each of the 57 municipalities. The money is parceled out using a formula that takes into account municipal population and the miles of local roads the cities and towns maintain.
For several years the annual appropriation was kept at $6 million, but in Section 97 of this yearís bond bill the General Assembly quietly cut it to $5 million.
This is a small example, at least as measured by most government spending programs. Nonetheless, the cut reflects a basic principle about governmental financeóyou canít really depend on tax revenues that you donít collect yourself.
February 16, 2006
A year ago yesterday I wrote about a U.S. District Court decision in Maryland that dismissed a First Amendment claim by the Baltimore Sun and two of its writers, then-columnist Michael Olesker and reporter David Nitkin.
Governor Ehrlich had issued a directive that no executive branch officials were to talk to either men, although journalistic access would continue to be granted to others at The Sun. In addition, government officials affirmed that any Freedom of Information Act or similar requirements for documents or other forms of access would be honored.
They just wouldnít talk to these two particular guys anymore.
One part of the post bears repeating:
The paper appealed the decision to the Fourth Circuit. While the appeal was pending, Olesker was forced out of his job:
Iím open to correction, but there seemed to be a combination of self-importance and self-pity in those remarks.
This week the Fourth Circuit put a dash of salt into this particular old wound of Oleskerís, by affirming the lower courtís dismissal of the complaint.
In so holding, the Circuit Court panel made a few comments that have a familiar ring to them:
Somehow I doubt that The Sun will try to have this case heard by the Supreme Court. The paper's claims always struck me as asserting an arrogant, unwarranted privilege to force government officials to talk to its reporters.
Perhaps the fact that at least four members of the Federal judiciary disagreed with The Sunís arguments will cause a re-evaluation and re-adjustment at the newspaper.
Based on my experience, however, I will not hold my breath waiting for this change of heart.
February 14, 2006
Vice-President Cheney doesn't often screw up, which seems to be among the reasons why some folks go crazy when they talk about him.
On the other hand, when he does do something remarkably careless and stupid, such as shoot a buddy during a quail hunt, it's perfectly appropriate to call him on it.
I especially liked this approach, which pre-dated the Texas accident but is nonetheless relevant and very, very funny:
As for my own qualifications to characterize the Cheney incident, click here.
February 12, 2006
The performance was simply magical.
The marionettes were totally convincing. It was so much fun to watch the audience invest so much hope that what they were seeing was actually real.
If you ever have a chance to see a live performance, just go. It's well worth it.
To see a short film that will show you why, you can click here for a short documentary.
February 12, 2006
The birds around here have been enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.
Among other signs, they avoided the bird feeder out back, preferring the stuff they can find on their own--until the blizzard hit.
In no time, they were fluttering around the feeder:
The cardinal seemed to be lording it over his more drably-feathered companions.
Official small print disclaimer: This is, after all, a personal web site. Any opinions or comments I express here are my own, and don't necessarily reflect the official position of my work as a government attorney or any of my clients.
That fact may become obvious later on, but it needs to be said here anyway.
© Frederick H. Schranck 2002-2005