This page includes posts from
March 7-13, 2004 in the usual reverse
order. Each posting on the home page is perma-linked to these
March 12, 2004
March 12, 2004
For most types of citizen/government interaction, the government depends heavily on voluntary cooperation.
When most people decide not to bother complying, government often finds itself completely overwhelmed by wholesale scofflawing.
We can see this everyday on most major highways. When’s the last time you saw everyone driving 55 in a 55 mph zone?
Governments don’t always let things slide the way most of them seem to be doing about speed limits. When the issue touches their pocketbooks, most political entities are far more diligent about keeping up the mix of incentives and disincentives to bring us all into line.
During the months leading up to April 15, for example, I always look for news stories about tax law enforcement. There’s nothing like a juicy tax prosecution to remind the rest of us of the risks of not meeting our financial obligations to our fellow citizens.
There was a good one today in the News-Journal:
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware typically maintains a conviction rate in the high 90s. (Cherry-picking has its advantages.) For that reason, I believe we’ll eventually see a later announcement about a plea bargain or two about these charges.
I'm sure you'll see several more examples of this national enforcement policy appearing in your own local newspapers over the next 5 weeks.
March 10, 2004
I scored a whopping 22.
If being a true Libertarian required being as out of touch with reality as many of these test questions implied, I'm in good shape.
March 10, 2004
Today’s Washington Post ran an article about the increasing number of American deaths attributed to simply being too fat.
Andrew Sullivan took the opportunity to point out the relative dearth of religious commentary about the issue:
Sullivan has a point.
William Trevor once wrote an intriguing essay on gluttony that appeared originally in the New York Times Book Review and later in Deadly Sins, edited by Thomas Pynchon. Two particular passages from that piece are well worth contemplating:
Sullivan also made a suggestion about how best to deal with the implications of the new report:
This comment struck me as a new way of expressing a familiar old sentiment about others who find themselves in difficulty:
Of course, the man who said this eventually came to a different conclusion.
March 9, 2004
When it was first announced, the government’s food stamp program was touted as a way to make sure that the dollars given to folks who needed them would also be spent for their intended purposes.
Naturally, all-too-human instincts soon made a mockery of that suggestion, at least for those inclined to abuse the system.
Thanks to some technological advances, however, it’s possible to keep a lid on some of the corruption. This week the Fourth Circuit repeated that lesson to Saber A. Idias, the owner of the Nashville Supermarket in Nashville, North Carolina.
Food stamp recipients are now issued EBT cards that act like debit cards when swiped through a store’s point-of-sale device.
Besides being more convenient for the recipients and the store operators, the EBT cards also have an added advantage. They make it easier for the Federal auditors to determine if someone is gaming the system.
For example, a routine record review of this little supermarket store showed some surprising discrepancies between the EBT records and the sales tapes generated by the store’s single cash register. For example,
The store owner essentially faced a stark choice of picking which crimes to confess to committing:
Under these ugly circumstances, therefore, the Circuit Court had little difficulty upholding the termination of Nashville Supermarket’s relationship with the federal food stamp program.
March 9, 2004
March 6 marked the 26th month of this site's existence.
As of that date, 189,850 visitors have viewed 242,857 pages.
Thanks very much for your patronage. This is still a lot of fun to do.
Stop by again soon.
March 9, 2004
Happy news, indeed.
Jeff Goldstein, once of Ocean City, Maryland, then of Protein Wisdom, then on long hiatus, has returned to blogging.
Glad to see you've lost none of the attitude, either.
And a hat tip to Stephen Green for the announcement, too.
March 8, 2004
Sometimes I wonder who’s advising some of the folks who believe that they have the next great First Amendment case.
The prospective plaintiffs might actually have a point, but there’s just no substitute for actually gathering together the facts that might support their claim before rushing into court.
San Jose Christian College sued the City of Morgan Hill, California over the City’s refusal to rezone a parcel of land previously used for the former St. Louise Hospital. The College claimed that the way it was treated violated its First Amendment rights to the free exercise of its religion. Among other counts, the Complaint specifically referred to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (“RLUIPA”).
The hospital acreage was zoned as a Planned Unit Development, which under the City code was not a huge hurdle for the College’s planned conversion of the property to a new campus for the school for up to 1200 students.
City officials asked the College to answer a few questions that will look awfully familiar to anyone involved with land use issues:
The City also asked for more details about the prospective day and night class scheduling, the impact of college athletics and events, and seating limits for the theater/chapel—in other words, the kind of questions a land use agency would want to know about any prospective college campus.
Instead of completing the application with the answers to these and similar questions, the College gave the City a “scaled-back” proposal using only the existing buildings, and giving the impression that the facility would handle up to 400 students.
By itself, that kind of response was non-controversial. On the other hand, the College’s newsletters issued at around the same time gave a very different impression, telling its readers that the property would eventually support up to 1,600 students.
The City eventually denied the rezoning, citing the incomplete responses to the zoning questions. The College then filed suit.
After losing in the District Court, the College appealed to the Ninth Circuit. The unanimous panel was not exactly sympathetic:
In this case, there was nothing special about the zoning standards applied to the College’s application:
In addition, there was no evidence of anti-religious animus in handling this rezoning:
[Emphasis in original].
As for the RLUIPA claim, the College’s actions (and non-actions) were considered quite a bit more suspect than the City’s:
[Emphasis in original].
The Circuit panel therefore upheld the dismissal of the case.
It looks like the College has already moved on, in a sense. The college is now called William Jessup University. In 2002 it obtained a sizeable piece of acreage for a new campus in Rocklin, California, near Sacramento. The college’s website also announced that WJU entered into a sales contract for its San Jose property, but will continue offering classes in that city, but in leased facilities.
Some other appropriate use will surely be found for the former St. Louise Hospital property. One simply hopes that any new prospective owners don't take such umbrage at answering routine questions about their plans.
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 2002-2004