Thursday, August 10, 2017

Trump, Not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Deserves Major Share of Blame for Legislative Failures

Today's bullying target of the President Donald Trump was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.   In a tweet sent this afternoon, Trump told McConnell he needs to "get back to work" and pass Repeal and Replace, tax reform and an infrastructure bill.
This Trump tweet came at the start of Trump's 17 day vacation at his New Jersey golf resort.   Of
course, rank hypocrisy has never seemed to slow Trump down.

This morning Trump had another anti-McConnell tweet:
And yesterday, Trump took something McConnell said out of context (ad he does frequently) to tweet:
The New York Times tonight reported on another blast at McConnell:

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Thursday sharply amplified his criticism of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, raising the possibility that Mr. McConnell should relinquish his position if he cannot deliver on top legislative priorities.
After venting for days, on Twitter and in private, over the Senate’s failure to pass a health care repeal bill before the August recess, Mr. Trump was asked if Mr. McConnell should consider stepping down.
“I’ll tell you what,” Mr. Trump began, speaking to reporters outside his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., “if he doesn’t get repeal and replace done and if he doesn’t get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn’t get a very easy one to get done, infrastructure — if he doesn’t get them done, then you can ask me that question.”
I am no fan of Mitch McConnell.  As far as congressional Republicans go, they deserve blame for making a promise to the American public about repealing and replacing Obamcare and then, when it turned out they could actually do just the GOP surprisingly winning the White House in 2016, they backed down.

But the lion's share of the blame for Trump's legislative agenda  belong Donald J. Trump. Take the healthcare bill for example.  Trump has steadfastly refused to get informed about the issues, made petty and pathetically weak attempts to threaten GOP legislators who wouldn't support his position, and then when the Republicans did support in the House, Trump cut them off at their knees declaring the bill he demanded be passed was mean.

When the bill reached the Senate floor, Trump once again refused to get informed about the bill, refused to try to sell the legislation to the public and made yet more petty threats against members of his own party.  Trump provided zero leadership on the issue while instead spending his time tweeting about personal grievances that distracted from the work members of Congress were attempting to do.

Oh, and the rest of Trump's legislative agenda?  Trump's tax reform proposal consists of one page of bullet points and his infrastructure plan doesn't exist. But yet Trump is demanding McConnell act, now!

If Donald Trump wants to know who is responsible for his legislative and his many other failures as President, he needs to only look in a mirror.

Monday, August 7, 2017

IndyGo to Use Eminent Domain Against College Avenue Property Owners

The Indianapolis Business Journal reports on the development:
A court battle is escalating between IndyGo and property owners along the proposed Red Line route fighting to protect their land from becoming part of the rapid-transit bus system.
Proposed Red-Line Station Near Moe & Johnny's.
The first phase of the Red Line would run 13 miles, stretching from East 66th Street in Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis on the south side, and would include infrastructure improvements spilling onto the properties.
IndyGo so far has settled with 11 owners along the route by paying them amounts ranging from $500 to $90,800—moves that will allow it to gain either temporary or permanent use of slivers of no more than one-tenth of an acre of each owner’s land.
But nine property owners are holding out, prompting IndyGo last month to sue each individually. In the suits, IndyGo seeks to exercise its power of eminent domain, with the purchase price for parcels to be determined via independent appraisals. 
..
IndyGo’s legal maneuvering isn’t sitting well with business owners such as Chuck Mack, longtime operator of Meridian-Kessler staple Moe & Johnny’s at 5380 N. College Ave.
IndyGo sued Mack after he refused an $815 offer for a portion of his parking lot needed to install a sidewalk wheelchair ramp and extend a curb.
“The net effect is way beyond the ludicrous $800 they offered for the inconvenience of losing our easement,” Mack scoffed.
Mack, who has owned Moe & Johnny’s for 23 years, says he’ll lose 20 percent of his parking, in addition to access to his lot from College Avenue, forcing patrons to use 54th Street.
...
Colleen Fanning, the city-county councilor who represents the area along College, didn’t return phone calls from IBJ seeking comment on the business owners’ concerns.
But on her website, she praises the Red Line project while acknowledging the differences in opinion she has with her longtime friend Mack at Moe & Johnny’s.
“I am a staunch supporter of the Red Line and believe this valuable infrastructure will positively impact the future of our neighborhood and city,” she wrote.
Any one who regularly travels College Avenue from downtown to Broad Ripple knows what a congested mess the route is.   Eliminating travel lanes and parking from the street is just going to make the situation worse.  Keystone Avenue, a much wider street, is a far better location for the line. Unfortunately, in an eminent domain case you can't challenge whether the project is a good idea or if a better option exists. You can only challenge whether the taking is for a public purpose, which issue IndyGo will win easy.  Once that hurdle is clear, the only issue is the amount of compensation.  Moe & Johnny's is probably smart to hold out.  I've done a number of eminent domain cases and I don't think I have ever seen a case where a person settled post-litigation (or received a judgment from a jury) which figure was less than that offered prior to litigation.  

Sadly, the Indianapolis City-County Councilor Colleen Fanning is in the tank for those who will profit off the Red Line at the expense of those who live in the Broad Ripple area.  It is unfortunate that Broad Ripple in recent years hasn't had better representation on the Council.  This is the third Republican councilor in a row who was all about helping developers make a buck instead of doing what is best for local residents and business owners.  Broad Ripple deserves better.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Pete Rose Defamation Suit Demonstrates the Problem With Defamation Suits

On Monday, July 31st, former Cincinnati Reds great filed a defamation suit in a federal court in Pennsylvania.  ESPN reports on the development:
Pete Rose filed a federal defamation lawsuit today against John Dowd, who oversaw the investigation that led to Rose's ban from baseball, for claims Dowd made last summer that Rose had underage girls delivered to him at spring training and that he committed statutory rape.   
The complaint was filed today in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania. It cites a radio interview last summer with a station in West Chester, Pennsylvania, in which Dowd said
, "Michael Bertolini, you know, told us that he not only ran bets but ran young girls down at spring training, ages 12 to 14. Isn't that lovely? So that's statutory rape every time you do that."   
Bertolini was a memorabilia merchant whose taped conversations and other information about Rose's gambling were central to Rose receiving a permanent ban in 1989.   
The lawsuit also cites an interview with CBS Radio in which Dowd said, "He has Bertolini running young women down in Florida for his satisfaction, so you know he's just not worthy of consideration or to be part of the game. This is not what we want to be in the game of baseball."
...
At the time of the interviews last summer, commissioner Rob Manfred was considering Rose's request for reinstatement. Dowd had appeared on the shows to discuss that topic, and to talk about whether Rose should be eligible for the Hall of Fame. Manfred ultimately denied Rose's request. 
According to the suit, "Ever since Dowd investigated Rose in 1989 and Rose was placed on the Ineligible List, Dowd actively sought to prevent Rose from ever being reinstated by MLB or elected to the Hall of Fame, and he ultimately made maliciously false and reckless claims against Rose."
By way of background, there are certain statements that people can make that are considered "defamation per se," i.e. statements that are considered so damaging to one's reputation that damages will be assumed.   Usually a plaintiff proving actual damages in defamation cases is a huge obstacle.  When a statement is considered "defamation per se" that obstacle is removed.

Accusing someone of crime is defamation per se.  Attorneys know this.   We are generally very careful about accusing people of a crime when that crime has never been charged.  We are taught to use qualifying conditional terms such "alleged," "accused of" when treading into an area of alleging someone, who has never been charged, committed a crime.

John Dowd is an attorney and in fact is currently part of the Trump legal team .  That he would make a statement on a radio show that Rose committed "statutory rape," when Rose has never been charged with any such crime, is reckless.   I can only assume that Dowd's obvious blind hatred of Rose overrode his legal brain when he made such a dumb statement on the radio show.

Unfortunately, for Rose his lawsuit demonstrates the problem with celebrities who file defamation suits...they end up publicizing the very thing they didn't want published in the first place   How did Dowd respond to the Rose lawsuit?  On the same day the Rose lawsuit was filed, Dowd filed a motion (I am not sure what "motion" you'd file at this point of the proceedings), which claims Rose Rose is a womanizer who regularly had sex with teenagers.  In the motion:
Dowd is asking the court to force Rose to answer questions about his sexual relationships, his history of lying and his mental health. Dowd says Rose has, by and large, refused to respond.
"If Rose did not want to answer questions about having sex with teenagers, his well-documented history of lying, or his mental health, he should not have filed this lawsuit," Dowd's motion said.
I am not sure why such a motion would be filed before owd even filed an answer to the complaint mind you. Obviously whether the accusations are true, i.e. that Rose had sex with underage women, is a defense Dowd can assert.  He wouldn't have to file a motion to force Rose to answer questions on that subject.  Undoubtedly Rose's attorney has told him that his sexual history is fair game if he files the lawsuit.  Dowd's filing of the "motion" seems to be nothing more than an attempt to get the media story to be about Rose is a child molester instead of Dowd being a defamer.

Of course now that he's in the middle of a lawsuit, Dowd can make his Rose is a "sexual molester" claims with legal protection. The news media have already picked up on those claims.  Many people on social media are declaring Rose is a pedophile, even though no jurisdiction found the evidence compelling enough to charge Rose with anything and the supposed sexual trysts are some 40 years old.  So much for people being presumed innocent.

And that, folks, is the problem with defamation suits.  You end up publicizing the very thing you didn't want publicized.