After Kyle Busch swept the weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, capturing wins in all three of NASCAR’s national series, that other really fast Kyle — Kyle Larson — tweeted respect for his elder and competitor. So the question that Kelly Crandall and Kathy Sheldon are exploring on NASCAR.com today: Is Kyle Busch the GOAT?Sheldon: Greatest at Bristol? Yes, and six wins, the most of any Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver, prove it. This past weekend? Absolutely. All time? We’ll see. If anyone currently active can catch seven wins, I’d say Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson are the best candidates.Crandall: Larson’s goat emoji was a nice touch and Busch seemed appreciative to hear in his post-race press conference it had been included. But the greatest of all-time in NASCAR is not yet a discussion Busch or Larson is in, although performances like Bristol will certainly help Busch one day in that department. If this was a question of whether or not Busch is the GOAT when it comes to the top three national series, there’s no argument he has set himself apart from the competition. One can only wonder, though, what the sport would be like if Larson ran as many races as Busch does …Sheldon: Good point, Kelly. I don’t think anyone is as sure a bet in a Camping World Truck Series event or XFINITY Series event as Busch. And he’s helping the sport grow the next generation of drivers, as well, through Kyle Busch Motorsports. Wouldn’t it be great to see Busch in a sprint car so he and Larson could do battle on dirt?So let’s talk greatest of this season. Both Larson and Busch are in the playoffs, with Busch holding a slight, 2-point edge on Larson in playoff points coming out of Bristol. They’re both chasing Martin Truex Jr., whom I picked back in February to win the title this year. I still like that pick, but Busch seems like a better bet to knock off Truex in the playoffs among the pair of Kyles — a former champ in 2015 and runner-up in 2016 who is peaking at the right time.Crandall: Just a few weeks ago I felt Larson was as sure a bet to be in the final four as Truex is. Then Busch won Pocono — to go along with his gazillion laps he’s led — and he’s also been knocking off stage wins left and right. Suddenly, the No. 18 team has come alive while the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 team is simmering. Good news for Busch, bad news for Larson.Now, we all know once the playoffs start teams and drivers usually pick it up a notch, but Busch’s team looks really, really good right now. And I imagine they are only going to keep getting better as the weeks go on. However, the possibility of Larson making it to Homestead to battle Busch, as well as Truex and whomever the fourth contender may be, is hard not be excited about.
The pandemic has forced artists from across the globe to adapt to a new medium of livestream performances. While this is far from ideal for many performers who feed off the energy of a live audience, many have made do. Some, however, have acclimated better than others and it appears that Metallica falls into the “others” category.During a livestream for this year’s BlizzCon—an annual convention organized by Blizzard Entertainment, the company behind video games like World Of Warcraft and Diablo, which was forced online this year—the metal pioneers ran into a bit of technical difficulty. As they pounded out the opening notes of the Ride The Lightning staple “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, Metallica had their sound cut off on Twitch and replaced with music that, let’s say, lacked the same adrenaline-soaked energy of heavy metal.Related: Les Claypool Shares ‘Precious Metals’ Short Film With Metallica’s Robert Trujillo [Watch]As many artists have come to realize over the pandemic, sites like YouTube and Twitch have certain built-in censors that activate to prevent copyright infringement. Oftentimes when somebody covers an artist, the stream will get shut down by YouTube or Facebook altogether. Rather than taking down the stream, however, Twitch went a different route and overdubbed the band’s music with the kind of light, ambient music that could be found in the background of Legend Of Zelda, rather than in Metallica’s rehearsal studio.The irony here, of course, is that this technological faux pas was a direct result of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). This 1998 copyright law came into effect in no small part thanks to Metallica, and memorably drummer Lars Ulrich‘s, public crusade against internet hosting site Napster at the tail end of the 90s as MP3s became commonplace in the United States. Now, it appears that the champions of intellectual property protections have fallen victim to the same archaic policies which they helped implement.Watch Metallica’s performance of “For Whom The Bell Tolls” from BlizzCon’s Twitch stream quickly go awry.Twitch Is Afraid Of Getting DMCA’d On Their Platform -Cuts Off Metallica..[Video: ghecco’s twitch clips][H/T A.V. Club]
While students ease back into a routine of classes, studying and meetings as the semester gets underway, the Student Government Association (SGA) is preparing for the busy weeks ahead. Senior student body vice president Meghan Casey said the upcoming weeks are full of various events and programs for the campus. She named Love Your Body Week, Heritage Week and Women Honoring Women Week as SGA’s larger events. “We are most looking forward to Heritage week because it gives us a chance to appreciate the opportunities we have at Saint Mary’s and learn about the heritage of the College and what past students have done while they were here,” she said. In addition to celebrating the rich tradition of the College, Heritage Week will also allow students, alumnae, parents and friends of Saint Mary’s to contribute to the Capital Campaign. “The Capital Campaign is a project to raise money for various things at the Saint Mary’s,” Casey said. “This year Heritage Week is coinciding with the [start of the] Capital Campaign. They are raising money to renovate Angela, for scholarships and to renovate the science building.” Casey said having the Capital Campaign and Heritage Week at the same time will be beneficial for both the students and the College. “We are having the Capital Campaign launch and Heritage Week the same week because the launch is raising money for the future,” she said. “During Heritage Week, we learn about people who have invested in Saint Mary’s in the past and the Capital Campaign is a way for us to invest for the future.” In addition to Heritage Week and raising funds for the College, SGA will also focus on anti-bullying initiatives throughout the semester to foster positive attitudes amongst students. Senior student body president Maureen Parsons said this initiative resulted from students who were harassed through letters. “(SGA) is going to start a Tumblr that encourages positive messages to students,” she said. “Also, we want to work with the Resident Advisors to do something in the dorms with random acts of kindness.” Parsons said SGA is currently scheduling a speaker to discuss the issues and discuss the effects of bullying on campus. Another important issue SGA hopes to address is the continual use of the Belle Tower, a new online network which includes the all-school events calendar and online club information. Students were encouraged to sign up and become active on the network last semester, but SGA is striving to gather more student participation and familiarity with the new technology. “We want to promote the Belle Tower and make sure students are going there for information about events and organizations at Saint Mary’s,” Casey said. “We are hoping with promotion of the Belle Tower and with other advertising, people will go to more events on campus.” Although student government elections are still months away, Casey said she and Parsons are already planning for new leaders and figuring out how to ensure a successful transition for new student leaders. “Our main goal would be making sure there is a smooth transition for turnover [when the new leaders assume their positions],” Casey said. “We want to make sure that the new members of SGA feel prepared for next year.” The elections for student body president and vice president will occur at the end of February. The Residence Hall Association, Student Activities Board, Student Diversity Board and the Class Boards will elect new leaders the first week of March. Turnover is scheduled for April 1.
The PFBB30 bottom bracket gives them more room to weld the other tubes to it, yielding better stiffness.The Icon Pro will retail for just $1,600 with 105 and the Elite gets Ultegra for $2,600. Both get Mavic wheels (Aksium and Equipe, respectively). They’ll also be available as a frameset, but pricing and date on that isn’t set yet. Same full carbon fork as the Zenith Team.This one came in at 16lb 15oz, and there’s a lot of room for improvement if you wanted to get it lighter. For the price, it’s impressive. Jamis’ road/’cross product manager says the low weight comes from more attention paid to the construction. Frames are hand built in small batches from a different supplier than their standard frame and use 6000-series alloy. Claimed frame weight is 1150g (56) raw (add about 30-50g for ano and 100g for painted models).The Dakar XCT 650B full suspension mountain bikes get bigger top and downtubes and taller chainstays to stiffen up the frame. The prior top tube was skinny and swoopy. The new one is straight, but makes better use of the weldable surface area on the head tube. These changes come with no claimed weight gain, though, so it’s all upside.There’s no longer a 26″ model for 2013. That means the carbon XCT goes away…for now. A 650B version is in the works.Complete bike weight plus some dust is 27lb 7oz with a Crank Brothers cockpit, Rockshox suspension and SRAM X0 drivetrain, American Classic wheels and Schwalbe tires.Across the range, all full suspension 650B bikes get full Rockshox suspension, hardtails will mix in some X-Fusion and White Brothers. All will use Schwalbe’s Racing Ralph tires.The Dragon (steel, above) and Nemesis (alloy) 650B hardtail bikes just get spec updates. They have a very nice looking carbon Dakota D29 hardtail, look for something in the 650B size in the near future. Jamis has updated their 650B line, which has completely replaced the 26″ models for 2013, and added a fantastic looking new alloy crit racer that’s looking to sprint in the pack against the Cannondale CAAD10 and Specialized Allez S-Works. They also showed off the new Supernova carbon disc brake cyclocross bike, and we grabbed pics, details and actual weights for all of them.The Icon, above, is their new alloy crit racer. It’s basically their top line carbon Zenith race bike in aluminum form. Two and a half years in development, the bike is designed to be as snappy and fast as the Zenith SL but cost way, way less and ease your mind when lining up at the local crit series. Nemesis alloy 650B hardtail in a rather small size.Not shown, the Dakota dropped 3/4 of a pound from the frame for 2013 and about another 1/4 pound from spec, making it a full pound lighter out of the box. Savings come from switching to a full hi-modulus carbon frame from the hi/mid mod mix from before. It also got stiffer, and because they stick with a M30/M40 (number is the fiber weight, higher becomes more brittle but is stiffer) it’s still durable enough for mountain biking.We spotted a prototype of Jamis’ carbon Supernova a while back, then they announced the alloy Nova series, and now the carbon version gets official.The frame is mechanical and electronic ready, just swap cable port caps.It doesn’t get the ENVE carbon fork, opting instead for a Jamis branded piece.The top tube has a nice flat bottom for virtually the entire length of the tube. Downstairs is the BB386EVO standard, which should make things pretty stiff and light.The complete bike comes in at 18lb 11oz.
by Timothy McQuiston Vermont Business Magazine Rusty DeWees, actor and Vermont icon, continued his Winter Star Series at the Stowe Town Hall last weekend by bringing in former Governor Jim Douglas and banjo whiz George Woodard for an evening of merrymaking and history, which included a Vermont trivia contest. They also plugged their books and other stuff. So in that spirit we offer this review, of the review.DeWees, who grew up in Stowe, of course is most famous for his one-man performance as “The Logger.” He’s also been on TV and in the movies, but it’s his over-the-top take on back woods Vermont for which he’s best known.It was also a Republican-centric evening. In fact, it’s possible that every Republican in the state of Vermont was in attendance in the upstairs meeting room of the historic building. We suspect this for three reasons:1) The room boasted many former Douglas lieutenants, including Tim Hayward, Neale Lunderville, and Mike Smith (everyone seemed to forget to wear their “Feel the Bern” buttons);2) Much of the gentle ribbing was directed toward each other and at the expense of Democratic politicians (perhaps more than gentle if you were Peter Shumlin, Barack Obama or Joe Biden’s hair plugs; to be fair, George W Bush and Dick Cheney were prodded, as was Stowe Representative Heidi Scheuermann, who supposedly had spent time just before the show canvassing for votes in the cemetery behind the Town Hall. Other than the headliners, the biggest applause was reserved for lieutenant governor and gubernatorial candidate Phil Scott);3) The Town Hall was near capacity (as Rusty would say: “You’ll git that joke on the way home.”)Rusty DeWees, left, and former Vermont Governor Jim Douglas, in their regular attire, at the Stowe Town Hall, February 27. Vermont Business Magazine photo by Timothy McQuiston.Douglas, 65, has held many political positions, including state Treasurer and Secretary of State, and was elected a state representative from Middlebury soon after graduation (he has lost only one race). He boasts a phenomenal memory. He also enjoys good wit and a good story well told (Rusty: “GeeIM, where were you born?” “Well,” Douglas answered in his familiar baritone as he adjusted his glasses, “Springfield, Mass. I wanted to be born in Vermont, but I thought I should be near my mother.” Cue the drum roll. “What was it like after you were done bein’ governor?” “Well, you know you’re not governor anymore when you get in your car the next morning and it doesn’t move.”).While bantering on stage, DeWees chugged some sort of clear liquid directly from a Barr Hill Gin bottle, while Douglas, who would naturally prefer copious cups of black coffee, had to make do with lemon tea and honey as he gamely fought through a bought of laryngitis.The first half of the evening was dedicated toward Douglas’ career, with DeWees and Douglas rifting on his book, reminding everyone how cheap the former governor is (for the birth of his son he waited until midnight to take his wife Dorothy to the hospital, despite her already being in labor, because he didn’t want to pay for an extra day), and finishing with a Q&A from the audience.When asked what he was most proud of as governor, Douglas said that he wanted to be a dedicated, hard-working chief executive and he believes he achieved that; he also was proud of the success of his health care plan (Blueprint for Health, aimed at overall wellness and to improve care for people with chronic illnesses).He was also asked if he would run for US Senate if Bernie Sanders became president.In the intermission that followed, and before the audience participated in the trivia contest, DeWees entertained those eating cookies and drinking cockTALES by pitching his sponsors, especially, but not limited to, Aubushon Hardware (“Fun to say, hard to spell” Awbuchon, Aubuchon) with helper Beth Gadbois flinging Darn Tough Socks, bars of chocolate and jars of arnica rub into the audience while he spoke hyperbolically about the people and the products “…run down to the Green GodDESS for a Tree Hugger breakfast sandwedge” or “…hike up the MouINN road to the BawDY Lounge.”The second half of the program was dedicated to frivolity. DeWees and Douglas cross-dressed, with Rusty coming out in a shirt and tie and Douglas donning a Logger-type kit, replete with red-checked vest and blue jeans, though with a Governor Douglas flair: the pants didn’t quite reach the top of his boots, and were pressed into what looked like drywall corners.Four audience members volunteered to answer the Vermont history questions, but DeWees couldn’t entice any women to get on stage, not even “them CraftsBERRY girls.”Sampling of Trivia Questions (answers below):What was Jim Douglas’ major in college?Instead of Middlebury, he almost went where to college (and why not?)When did Vermont join the United States to become the 14th state?What is the state drink?Three vice presidents were born in Vermont, who were they (hint, two became prezEEdent)?Who are the three Olympic skiers from Stowe?Who was the first governor President Obama met with in the Oval Office?How many times has Douglas slept in the White House?Previous to Peter Shumlin, who was the last native-born governor?The area near the roundabout at the northern intersection of the Morrisville bypass is known as what (it’s got a Dunkin’ and all manner of development)?Answers:1) Russian, the Cold War was going on; 2) Dartmouth, but back then there weren’t any girls; 3) 225 years ago TODAY! March 4, 1791; 4) Milk; 5) Chester Arthur (1881), soon followed by Levi Morton (1889, former ambassador to France who drove the first rivet during the assembly of the Statue of Liberty) and Calvin Coolidge (1921); 6) Tiger Shaw, 1984, 1988; Billy Kidd, 1964; Marvin Moriarty was 17 in 1956; 7) Jim Douglas, who helped the president move back into place one of the famous striped couches after the press left; 8) George W Bush invited Mr & Mrs Douglas five consecutive years for a total of 10 nights, the last of which was in the Lincoln Bedroom, “I remember it was an uncomfortable bed;” 9) Deane Davis, 1969; 10) Little Williston; 11) Douglas’ only loss came against Patrick Leahy in a tight 1992 US Senate race; 12) Apparently when one has been in politics for more than 40 years the words “Yes” and “No” get scrubbed from one’s vocabulary. After going on for some time about the dysfunction in Washington and the lack of camaraderie among Senate colleagues, Governor Douglas indicated that he would not run for US Senate if it became available (at least that’s what we think he said, maybe.)Rusty DeWees’ Winter Star Series concludes this weekend, March 4 & 5 at the Stowe Town Hall with “The Logger and the Fellers.” The comedy and music program begins at 7:30; admission is $25.
Related Cycling Canada has launched its new brand and website, the end result of a process which was initiated in 2018 through funding support from the Canadian Olympic Committee’s National Sport Federation Enhancement Initiative.The development of a new brand and digital home for Canada’s national cycling federation marks another important milestone for an organization striving to modernize as it leads and develops a growing array of cycling disciplines and communities from coast-to-coast.“While the sport of cycling is complex and continues to evolve, we are an organization whose mission and purpose remain rather simple – to inspire Canadians through cycling,” said Cycling Canada Executive Director Matthew Jeffries.“Our sport is unique in its ability to enrich lives and build a happier and healthier nation. Cycling is a journey that unites us all. It is our shared passion and we want our brand to reflect this passion as well as our dedication towards developing the sport holistically and collaboratively across the country.”Originally founded in 1882 as the Canadian Wheelmen’s Association, Cycling Canada is among Canada’s oldest national sport organizations.“While a key objective with this project was to develop something modern and contemporary, we are proud of our rich history and we wanted to ensure that was reflected and acknowledged in the new brand,” noted Head of Performance Strategy Kevin Field.The development of the new Cycling Canada brand and website was achieved in collaboration with Toronto-based consulting and advertising agency theturnlab, known for its work with the Mattamy National Cycling Centre, Adidas, Cannondale, as well as and many other high-profile sport and lifestyle brands.The website and logo were designed by Montreal-based Leonardo Studio, Cycling Canada’s agency of record for graphic design, while La Cursive assisted with the content creation in both official languages (English and French).“Over the last few years, our marketing strategies have evolved to become more inclusive of all cycling disciplines and all levels of the sport,” said Cycling Canada Marketing & Communications Manager Karine Bedard. “With increasing focus on the development of consistent and quality content that reaches a broader audience, this new brand and website come at the right time.”Executive Director Matthew Jeffries added, “I want to extend our most sincere thanks and gratitude to all the partners who contributed towards this project, and particularly the Canadian Olympic Committee for the resources and funding support to make it all happen.”While the new website is now live, the new brand will come to life gradually over the coming months across Cycling Canada event properties, programs, digital platforms and apparel.www.cyclingcanada.ca/about/overview/
County Librarian Sean Casserley said the proposed lay out of the site on the community center grounds wasn’t ideal from the library’s perspective.Work exploring the prospect of rebuilding the dated Antioch library branch along Shawnee Mission Parkway on the site of the new Merriam Community Center a couple blocks away appears to have come to a hurdle.At the Johnson County Library Board meeting last week, County Librarian Sean Casserley recommended that staff begin to explore options in addition to the Merriam Community Center relocation for the replacement of the Antioch branch.Casserley said that initial design concepts provided to the library by Merriam’s community center design team raised concerns about accessibility. As envisioned by the community center team, the new community center would sit on the northern part of the site, which encompasses the current Merriam city pool and adjacent Varva Park. The potential location for the library would be on the southern part of the property, up a steep hill and separated from the community center by a parking lot, green space and road.Casserley told the board that library planners thought the separation between the two facilities and the grade would reduce the likelihood of spillover foot traffic from one building to another.“Johnson County was excited about this partnership because with preliminary discussions we believed that we would be in close proximity to the community center, and we could see a lot of synergies between the two organizations,” Casserley said. “But at this present location, it doesn’t allow for these joint activities.”Casserley recommended that the board direct staff to “continue to look at the site and work with the city, but also to look at other options that might be available to us. That means the present site that we’re located on.”He noted that the current site on the northeast corner of the intersection of Antioch and Shawnee Mission Parkway provides high visibility that would go away if the library relocated to the community center land. But choosing to rebuild on the current site would mean the library would not see proceeds from the sale of the current Antioch branch land — funds that the board believed would be available to them for the rebuilding process. Casserley said that loss of sales proceeds would be a factor in the considerations.Board member Bethany Griffith said she supported the idea of exploring other options.“I’m not going to sugar coat it — I think that this is a disappointment,” Griffith said of the design concept. “This is really a totally different animal than the original ideas when we were approached…That doesn’t change the fact that…we think Antioch needs to be done.”Merriam finalized its design-build contract for construction of the new $30 million aquatic and community center last month.Library board chair Nancy Hupp recused herself from the discussion and vote because she also sits on the Merriam City Council.A steep grade from the proposed community center site to the proposed library site could pose a barrier for people walking from one building to the other.
Norman L. Corbin Orlando _____________________ I was dismayed by the article in the February 15 News with regard to judicial retention. The article does not bother to relay the perspective of the side that sought removal of the three Iowa justices, except to impugn their motives, and merely provides a platform for former Justice Baker’s unceasing jeremiad against the people of his own state.It was a completely one-sided article that makes a mockery of impartiality and journalistic standards. A few facts are in order. There are approximately two million registered voters in Iowa. In each of the three retention elections at issue, nearly 900,000 voters cast their ballots, and each of those justices only garnered support of 46 percent of voters. Judicial retention elections were approved by Iowa voters in 1962 as a constitutional reform that replaced selecting judges by popular vote. It was a compromise reform intended to marry (pun intended) improved judicial appointments with continuing public oversight.More tailored public oversight does not mean there is no public oversight. Apparently, the constitutionally expressed will of Iowans to retain some public oversight of judicial appointees is unworthy of deference and offends Justice Baker. If he and other opponents of judicial retention don’t like the process, which intentionally retained public oversight, then amend the Iowa Constitution.He will find it a more cumbersome process than convincing a few colleagues to vote to overthrow established cultural and statutory precedent on a whim.James W. Lovely Lakeland ____________________ I found the article “Special interests target retention elections” very troubling. The story provides minimal information on the underlying issue that led to Justice Baker’s removal.All of Justice Baker’s assertions are accepted uncritically, including his representations about the beliefs, intentions, and motives of his opposition. But even more troubling are the quotes attributed to Justice Baker. If Justice Baker actually said: “The people who targeted us do not believe in the rule of law or even that the constitution is the supreme law of the land,” then I think the Iowa voters probably got it right when they voted not to retain him.The people opposed to Justice Baker didn’t arrive at the courthouse steps with pitchforks and torches. They exercised their right to vote. If Justice Baker really fears “politicization of the process,” then maybe he shouldn’t be making disparaging statements about the motives and intentions of people who disagree with him.I suspect that there may be another side to this story. There are organizations, some of them national organizations, that support the ruling in Varnum, and they raise money from all over the country and use that money in local and state elections to promote their causes. Is it possible that some of those organizations spent money to support Justice Baker’s retention? Maybe the voters of Iowa heard from both sides and maybe the people who opposed Justice Baker had a rational and compelling basis for their opposition. Unfortunately, the article didn’t ask any critical questions of Justice Baker and presented only a caricature of the people who opposed retention.The Bar should avoid involvement in retention elections. We don’t need to be “educated.” We don’t need statements from the Bar or the judiciary encouraging or discouraging retention elections. And we don’t need a PR campaign. Members of the Bar and judiciary have no corner on wisdom.Jerome Hurtak North Miami____________________Former Iowa Supreme Court Justice David L. Baker’s portrait of his and two other Iowa Supreme Court justices’ ouster in 2010 is nothing more than that of an extremely sore loser now reaping speaking fees and/or costs from state bars across this country in an attempt to cry wolf. The only thing remotely truthful in former Justice Baker’s remarks before the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society’s annual dinner in Tallahassee in January was the voting citizenry of Iowa threw him and his fellow jurists off the bench.In this great country, which as a veteran I defended, we have three distinct branches of government with checks and balances to restrain nonconstitutional and nondemocratic power grabs, but by far the greatest of those checks and balances is the voting booth. Characterizing these justices’ defeat as “a perfect storm, a freak occurrence not likely to happen again,” as a preface to statements that such campaigns to remove judges “will resonate across the country as special interests target judges for decisions they just don’t like” and “the opponents of the judiciary feel empowered now” is nothing more than cannon fodder for ending the oversight of misinformed and ignorant voters, and I, for one, am against my Bar and our state’s Supreme Court getting any more involved in this fracas than to continue stripping away the obstacles that prevent informed voter choices just as in the legislative and executive branches of our government.Former Justice Baker and his two ousted colleages are no longer on the bench because voters decided they weren’t doing their jobs responsibly.To take these justices’ ouster as an attack on the judiciary is just plain wrong; it was and will continue to be by a more informed voter an act of holding each and every judicial office-holder accountable and responsible for what they do and who they are. Well-financed campaigns alone do not guarantee job security, and those among us who preach otherwise sorely underestimate the voting citizenry of this great nation.J.D. Hadsall St. Charles, Iowa Of Cuba and Foreclosures In the February 15 News, it was reported that “special interests target retention elections.” This was lamented by Justice David L. Baker, recently ousted from the Iowa Supreme Court, because “special interests target judges for decisions they just don’t like.” He stated further: “They were there to send a warning shot over the bow of every judge in the country that if you vote contrary to us, we are coming after you.”Forgive me if I am not as dismayed as Justice Baker. “Politics” very frequently has played a role in selection of judges. Even at the federal level, the president usually appoints people from his own party or believed to be of a similar mindset to himself. Is that a coincidence? Also, the Senate certainly considers policies or politics in its “advise and consent” role. Remember Judge Bork?Could the uproar be over the particular “policy” based on which “special interests” targeted the justices in the Iowa instance? According to the article, “troubles began” when the court issued a decision “striking the language from Iowa Code §595.2 limiting civil marriage to a man and a woman.” Baker says, “These people do not want the rule of law; they want majority rule — as they view it — on everything.” Perhaps I misunderstood the import of, “We, the People,” which begins our Constitution of the United States.It strains credulity to argue that judges are “above the fray” when it comes to “public policy” because they rely on the “Constitution.” As it happens, justices and judges have “interpreted” the Constitution in various and sundry ways over the course of our some 235 years as a nation. Courts have even reversed themselves from time-to-time when “new blood” has arrived. To argue that predilections and mindsets have nothing to do with these various interpretations is naïve.Is it the public opposition to “gay marriage” in particular which is unsupportable as a constitutional matter, thereby in that instance relegating those who oppose same to the status of “ruffians” who want no part of “the rule of law,” as Justice Baker seems to indicate? I suggest not.First, as it turns out, some judges in some states which have considered that issue have found such laws as that in Iowa to be constitutional. Are they mere ruffians too?Second, I don’t believe I noticed any “right to marriage” in the Constitution. That is something which traditionally has been provided either by states or churches. With respect to states, the constitutional question, absent some fundamental constitutional right (which isn’t there), the question is a rational basis for the distinction. Could it be that some states believe that children may be best nurtured by having a mother and a father, rather than two fathers or two mothers, and have restricted marriages to the former as a consequence? Are we supposed to elevate Justice Baker’s view on that subject over that of, “We, the People”?Thomas F. Harkins, Jr. Fort Worth, Texas ______________________Your article on former Justice Baker roused me to read the Varnum case. As I know nothing of Iowa politics, I accept arguendo the premise that the decision was the motivation behind the failure of the former justice to achieve merit retention.In that decision the court wrote “Our responsibility, however, is to protect constitutional rights of individuals from legislative enactments that have denied those rights, even when the rights have not yet been broadly accepted, were at one time unimagined, or challenge a deeply ingrained practice or law viewed to be impervious to the passage of time.” 763 NW. 2d at 876 (emphasis supplied). As this appears a foundation of the opinion, I wonder what it can possibly mean. It implies that the justices considered it their obligation to declare rights which did not exist before the pronouncement. If a right had not been at one time imagined — the court has the obligation to declare its existence and enforce it.For the former justice to protest his loss of a retention election seems wholly inappropriate. As the court also wrote: “While the constitution is the supreme law and cannot be altered by the enactment of an ordinary statute, the power of the constitution flows from the people, and the people of Iowa retain the ultimate power to shape it over time.” Id. The constitution is alterable, not by elected representatives, but by seven appointed judiciary. How may the people express their authority if not to relieve themselves of judges who read into their constitution ideas that are admittedly never conceived of and not broadly accepted? A justice, at the least, should accept the consequences of his decisions, even if that mean his rejection by the people.The issue raised is not separation of powers, nor the supposed insulation of the judiciary from the concerns of mere mortals. The issue is whether judges are, pursuant to their oaths, to accept the constitution or draft onto it such meaning as seems good to them. The former justice takes the position that his court could create an entitlement (effectively taking the constitution from the people) and that he should be immune from recall at a scheduled election.For the former justice to dismiss the electorate’s rejection as mere “decisions they just don’t like” is condescension. His only job was to apply the constitution. Most jobs have repercussions in the event of failure. The simple solution to the former justice’s problem? Apply the constitution rather than create it. If the people wish to create a change, it is within their power to do so.While I admit some trepidation for the independence of the judiciary, perhaps the solution is the same. Reliable application of the existing law, rather than the creation of new law and pretending that it existed before. Alternatively, perhaps a fixed term of office, without prospect of retention, would suffice to keep the judiciary insulated from mere political concern.A question for the editor arises that is a bit afield from the main — does the concern about money pouring in to elections such as this apply equally in the context of the special recall elections in Wisconsin? I have seen no article in defense of the governor. Though the parallel is apparent, I suspect the position asserted would be inapposite.I do not presume to the former justice what the law of Iowa is or should be. Neither have I stated a position as to the substance of the case. My call is for realism — let the courts not pretend to find words in our foundational documents that are not there, nor impose ideas that were not considered. As the court said, the constitution belongs to the people.Terrence L. Lavy Ft. Myers_____________________It was with some interest and some dismay that I read the article about former Iowa Supreme Court Justice David L. Baker. As an Iowa and Florida lawyer, I would suggest that both sides of this issue be represented rather than the “cry me a river” episode of Justice Baker.While there was a concerted effort to vote Justice Baker out of his position, my response is, “So what?” It took quite a few voters to unseat Justice Baker and not by a 5-4 decision.Whether one agrees with the concept of having a justice stand for re-election to the position they hold or not is still the law, not unlike a vote of a nine-member panel to reverse the will of the people of Iowa.Justices are not untouchable. So do some investigative work before assuming that whatever a justice may say is the full dispositive truth because, like any contested issue, there just may be another side to the story. March 15, 2012 Letters LettersMerit Retention March 15, 2012 Letters William Hodes Lady LakeDamage Caps I read the letter from Richard J. Wiley in the February 1 News, after having just read on page 1 of that same issue about the hundreds of thousands of backlogged foreclosures. Poor Mr. Wiley. A 70-year-old man who thought he had a right to private property, simply because he worked hard all his life to build a portfolio of investments to assist him to live his remaining years enjoying the fruits of his labor. Don’t worry, Rick, help is on the way.All you needed to do to make you feel better was to turn to the upper right hand corner of page 17 of the February 1 issue. Apparently, three sections of the ABA are sending delegations to Cuba to “learn about the legal justice system in Cuba.” I am certain they will come back with some really keen ideas about how to ameliorate the foreclosure problem here in the USA.Compare the following quotes: “If history could teach us anything, it would be that private property is inextricably linked with civilization.” ~ Ludwig von Mises ; and, “As man is said to have a right to his property, he may equally be said to have a property in his rights” ~ James Madison, with, “I find capitalism repugnant. It is filthy, it is gross, it is alienating. . . because it causes war, hypocrisy, and competition.” ~ Fidel Castro. When the ABA delegations come back from their excursions, let’s ask for a report. No, not about the child prostitutes, or the countless prisoners of conscience, or even about how much of your money (not mine, I left that organization long ago) they spent on their fact-finding mission. Let’s ask about how they deal with foreclosures in the land “ donde crece la palma. ” I bet there’s no backlog.Mr. Wiley, the people who are causing the backlog here mean well, I’m sure. If a few 70-year-olds get in the way, that’s the price to pay for being “good” and “fair.” Egg shells, omelets, and all that. And when your investments are gone to hell, there’s always Social Security and Medicare. Always. You hear?Raul A. Cuervo Falls Church, VA__________________I read with some interest the article in the February 15 News about HB 213.The housing bubble was a result of failed government policy, but the backlog of foreclosures results from a lack of emphasis by the bench and Bar on stringent adherence to the Rules of Court and Rules of Professional Conduct.If judges cannot or will not enforce discipline in their courts using the Rules of Court and their inherent contempt power, and if the Bar will not punish attorneys for putting on false evidence, then adding another layer of legislation on top of this steaming pile will do nothing. Giving judges the power to weigh evidence at summary judgment offends due process and constitutional protections of the right to a trial.Instead, the Supreme Court should direct judges who find robo-filed documents to assess sanctions against offending plaintiffs and to refer offending counsel for discipline by the Bar.John Charles Heekin Port CharlotteCourt Funding During the 2010 legislative session, the chief justice of the Supreme Court was forced to roam the halls of the Florida Legislature and beg for a loan — not once, but twice.The first time, he received a $54 million loan to prevent Florida courts from shutting their doors. However, this wasn’t enough. The chief justice had to go back to the Legislature a second time and ask for an additional $45.6 million loan to cover the projected shortfall in the state’s courts revenue trust fund.Due to the revenue shortfalls and decline in the number of foreclosure filings, the Florida court system has an outstanding loan obligation of $99.6 million.This is our court system. The chief justice should not have to beg another co-equal branch of government to keep Florida’s judicial system open for business.The judicial branch is the division of government that works directly with our constituents on a day-to-day basis to ensure that state laws are executed in a fair and just manner for our constituents. Yet, the judicial branch only obtains 0.6 percent of the state’s operating budget.This fall, I joined forces with Palm Beach County Chief Judge Peter Blanc, Florida Bar President Scott Hawkins, and Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff to meet with local judges and lawyers of the 15th Circuit to discuss the importance of court funding. I led the discussions in five separate conferences to address the South Palm Beach County Bar, the Palm Beach County Bar, the North Palm Beach County Bar, the Hispanic Bar Association, and the Commercial Litigators and Economic Council.The state has provided a new recommendation for court funding. The new funding recommendation would shift the court’s budget from the current unstable foreclosure filing fee funding source to a recurring general revenue funding source. I agree with this new recommendation, and I have high hopes that this new funding mechanism will stabilize the court’s budget. We cannot have a happy group of constituents without a healthy, well-funded court system.Sen. Maria Sachs Delray BeachMajor General Stanley In a continuing discussion of the diminishing number of jury trials, in the February 1 News, reader Charles Tiffany likened himself to the Modern Major General of HMS Pinafore. Shame, sir, shame. The Major General is an endearing character from The Pirates of Penzance, and one accomplishment he lists in his famous patter song about his encyclopedic knowledge is that he can “Whistle All the Airs from that Infernal Nonsense Pinafore!” On February 9, Florida’s Supreme Court heard oral argument in McCall v. United States of America on the hotly debated issue of limitations (caps) on the amount of money (damages) that can be awarded in Florida medical malpractice cases. The case arose from a woman who had just given birth to her child at a military hospital. Brought in federal court, the judge awarded damages, finding that the death resulted from medical malpractice. But because Florida’s Legislature passed a law in 2003 capping damages in medical malpractice cases as part of a “tort reform” agenda, the judge reduced the award by $1 million.The McCall family argued that the Legislature disregarded the Florida Constitution by capping noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. The case made it to Florida’s Supreme Court. During the hearing, the Supreme Court justices seemed not to understand some of the arguments, including that the cap violates the equal protection clause of the Florida Constitution.The current medical malpractice damages cap is an aggregate cap and must be shared by all survivors. This discriminates against family members of large families. In fact, Florida’s Supreme Court already found this type of cap unconstitutional in another medical malpractice case in 2000. The court determined it would be an equal protection violation.Additionally, the current cap irrationally segregates wrongful death survivors from less-harmed victims of medical malpractice, meaning that the less-harmed victims get full compensation, while those who have lost a mother, spouse, or child will receive less than full recovery. The cap also irrationally treats medical malpractice death victims differently from all other wrongful death victims. A mother who dies in a car accident gets better protection than one who dies due to medical neglect.Another argument is that the cap infringes on the constitutional right to access to courts. Limiting noneconomic damages in catastrophic cases limits the amount of potential recovery. Therefore, it limits the money available to pay a contingency fee lawyer, who is the only type of lawyer most medical malpractice plaintiffs can afford. Most medical malpractice cases, incredibly expensive and risky to begin with, become less and less appealing to most lawyers. This is the tort reformers’ plan.Furthermore, caps are no solution for frivolous lawsuits. Frivolous cases are worthless and a waste of time. Catastrophic injury cases are the target of damage caps.The Legislature had no right to decide, in 2003, what Ms. McCall’s death is worth years before it happened. A federal judge is eminently more qualified to assess the damages. So is a jury. Our constitution should protect the judicial system from the overbearing, politically charged Legislature.Damage caps are not the reason for stability in the medical malpractice premium markets. Insurance companies propagate the myths of runaway juries, frivolous lawsuits, and greedy trial lawyers as the causes of rate increases. Then, they benefit from legislation that does nothing but enhance insurance profits. When will we learn?Stuart N. Ratzan Miami
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