Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The little foxes

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column in the Democrat-Gazette concerning the Special Masters role in overseeing the ongoing session of the General Assembly. Since everybody has been playing nice and things have been going well, it probably seemed a bit irrelevant. If everything ends all right, who cares about the little nitpicking technicalities of the separation of powers?

At the time, it looked as if the Masters would gather information for the judicial branch while the legislative was still at work, and no real harm would be done. Things may very well turn out perfectly and the Lake View case may end with a thud. I hope so more than anybody.

The sticking point is this. The Special Masters have expressed guarded concern about the funding for improvements for school facilities. Big counties, like Pulaski, Washington, and Sebastian, do not get much under the so-called wealth formula, but each has enormous needs for repairs and new buildings. Now, there will be a temptation to consult with the Masters, who work at the will of our State Supreme Court, to give guidance during the process. That is bound to make somebody angry and open this ugly wound. Courts, and their surrogates, do not make laws.

(Broadcast March 20, 2007)

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