Monday, December 30, 2013

Attorney General Zoeller Encroaches on Governor's Power as He Lobbies for More Federal Funding for School Resource Officers

The NPR blog StateImpact reports:
Washington lawmakers are beginning to write the federal budget, and Indiana’s top lawyer wants to make sure they include more money for school resource officers.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced last week he plans to work with the state’s congressional delegation in hopes of increasing the budget of a relatively-small U.S. Justice Department grant program for hiring police officers to work in schools.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller
On the state level, Indiana lawmakers have already authorized $20 million in matching grants to help schools hire resource officers; districts have already claimed more than $9 million of that money.

While some criminal justice advocates question the effectiveness of such a push, it aligns with a goal Obama administration officials spelled out last January: fund the hiring of 1,000 new school resource officers across the country.


The U.S. Justice Department currently spends $45 million on a national grant program for hiring school resource officers. Only one Indiana community received a grant from that program last year.
Once again, the Attorney General is encroaching upon the power of the Governor.   Governor Mike Pence is the elected representative for the State of Indiana.  The Attorney General represents the State of Indiana only in and pertaining to litigation.   What right does Attorney General Zoeller have to represent the State of Indiana meeting with Congressman and arguing policy, i.e. for more federal spending for school resource officers?

The irony is that the minute any state official thinks of dipping his or her toe into litigation matters, Attorney General Zoeller is quick to point out that he is the elected attorney for the state and even asserts the baseless position that he also gets to act as the client in such litigation.  Yet Zoeller doesn't hesitate to go out of his area and claim to represent the State in pushing certain policies at the state and national level, directly encroaching upon the power of the Governor.

Maybe pushing for more federal money for school resource officers  is a good idea, but it is Governor Pence's call, not Attorney General Zoeller's.

See also:

Friday, October 18, 2013, State v. State?; Will Indiana's Attorney General Defend the Expungement Statute Against Challenge By Another State Official?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013. Bill Highlights Tension Between Indiana General Assembly and Attorney General

Saturday, September 8, 2012, Republican State Senators Spar with Attorney General Over Representation in Indiana Immigration Case; AG Zoeller Claims He is Both State's Attorney and Client


Anonymous said...

Another argument for making the office appointive. It won't make the office "better" (nor "worse") but it will eliminate the dueling politicians mode that seems to regularly arise, whether or not the administration and the AG are from the same party.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I agree, goodneighborsam.

sparks said...

Governments work best when all elected and appointed officials strive to implement policies that improve the welfare of our citizens. State and Federal governments have three branches for a reason. In the last two weeks, Governor Pence has indicated his continued support of amending the constitution to make gay marriage illegal and has proposed to cut corporate taxes lower while raising taxes for citizens.
Clearly, Governor Pence is more concerned about appeasing his partisan base than governing the state.

Unknown said...

As always schools are being less attention then they deserve. And when I say attention I mostly mean financial support of course. It is pretty difficult to become successful with the funding we have today, you know. That is why, you are so right that it is important to give more Federal Funding to School Recourse Officers and maybe then we will get to see some quality improvements. Well, this only if they can manage money correctly which some obviously fail to do. In any case, keep us up to the latest news about School Funding.
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TMLutas said...

I have to disagree with you here about Zoeller having no right to do this. He has a 1st amendment right to petition for a redress of grievance just like any other citizen. Using official resources to do so might be more problematic.

As to the substantive question on funding, we would do well to first establish a consensus on what schools are for before we go further. The 19th century german system we adopted so long ago is outmoded and not serving our kids well in the 21st century.