Daily Archives: Dec. 10, 2010

Pachyderms applaud California constitutional lawyer



One seldom hears Kansas Republicans applaud judicial activism, but it happened at Friday’s meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Although “activist judge” is usually a conservative code word for liberal, Pachyderm guest speaker Timothy Sandefur tore into the nation’s judges for not being activist enough in ensuring Americans’ right to work and start a business.

Sandefur is principal attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation in California and an adjunct scholar to the libertarian-oriented Washington think tank Cato Institute.

Sandefur said courts should do more to protect individuals’ constitutional rights — particularly “the right to earn an honest living without being unduly interfered with by government.”

“The founding fathers agreed with that and they called it the pursuit of happiness,” he said.

In an hour-long speech long on history and humor, Sandefur outlined cases through the years where judges declined to overturn laws, even those that states admitted were irrational or designed simply to protect established businesses from startup competitors.

He assailed liberals for pushing to “make society nice” through efforts such as minimum wages and protection of union jobs.

He also lashed big business for using its lobbying clout to get laws passed to strangle potential competition.

His key contemporary example was Munie v. Skouby, a case he’s working on now.

Munie is a St. Louis-area mover challenging a Missouri law that has prevented him from expanding to other markets in the state.

Sandefur said the law gives existing moving companies near-veto power over attempts by competitors to get licensed.

In Missouri, when a company applies for a license for a moving company, the state is required to contact all other moving companies in the area to see if they object, Sandefur said.

If even one does, the applicant “has to go before a board of bureaucrats and prove there’s a ‘need’ for a new moving company,” he said.

He said that is nearly impossible and compared it to forcing Starbucks to prove there was a need for new coffee shops in Seattle when that company first opened its doors.

In addition, Sandefur was harshly critical of the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo vs. City of New London, a Connecticut case that upheld the right of local governments to use eminent domain to seize property for private-sector redevelopment activity.

The case — in which New London forced a woman to give up her oceanfront home for a developer’s proposed project — sparked a flurry of state laws to prohibit government from doing that.

But Sandefur said that “Kelo backlash” was largely unsuccessful because most of the new state laws are riddled with loopholes. A builder-backed California initiative actually expanded government’s power to take property, he said.

But he did say the backlash has made local politicians think twice about seizing property for redevelopment.

“I’m always happy when politicians are scared of anything, because that’s what they’re supposed to be,” he said.

Pompeo lands spot on House Energy and Commerce Committee

Mike Pompeo, the congressman-elect for Kansas’ 4th District, has been appointed to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. In addition, Kevin Yoder of the 3rd District has been appointed to the Appropriations Committee and Lynn Jenkins of the 2nd District to the Ways and Means Committee.

The appointments for the three Republicans are considered key for the state during a year of high turnover in the House. Pompeo and Yoder are freshmen members, while Jenkins is going into her second term.

Energy and Commerce’s jurisdiction includes energy, telecommunications, public health and interstate commerce. It also deals with some aviation issues.

“The appointment gives me an opportunity to be directly involved in a wide range of legislative issues, including the most important issues facing Kansans,” Pompeo said in a statement.

Treasurer-Elect Ron Estes announces top staff picks

TOPEKA – Treasurer-elect Ron Estes announced his top staff picks on Friday, including one from the current administration.

Aaron Otto is currently the assistant state treasurer for Treasurer Dennis McKinney, a Democrat. Otto will stay on as the deputy assistant state treasurer.

“His institutional knowledge will be vital to ensure that there are no gaps in the high quality of service Kansans have come to expect from their state treasurer’s office,” Estes said.

Other top picks were Derek Kreifels, assistant state treasurer; Travis Couture-Lovelady as director of communications; and Alyson Rodee as director of scheduling.

“I have worked to assemble a team that ensures a seamless transition and will allow me to hit the ground running upon assuming office in January,” said Estes in a written statement.

Gov.-elect Brownback announces two public safety picks

TOPEKA – Gov.-elect Sam Brownback announced his picks for the Kansas adjutant general and the superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol on Friday.

GarciaBrownback, a Republican, tapped retired Lt. Col. Ernie Garcia, 64, to lead the highway patrol. Garcia retired from the U.S. Marines, served as the U.S. Senate sergeant at arms and doorkeeper and was senior assistant to Wichita’s city manager from 2000 to 2003.

To lead the Kansas adjutant general’s office, Brownback selected state Rep. Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie. Tafanelli, 49, is a colonel in the Kansas Army National Guard, the Kansas assistant adjutant general – Army and commander of the state’s Army National Guard. Tafanelli

“These are two of the of most qualified people I think in America to lead these positions,” said Brownback during Friday’s announcement.

Both nominees must be confirmed by the Kansas Senate when the Legislature convenes in January.

Parkinson says goodbye to four cabinet officials

TOPEKA – Gov. Mark Parkinson said farewell to his cabinet secretaries for administration, the state police, social services and corrections today.

Friday is the last day in their jobs for Duane Goossen of the Department of Administration, Don Jordan with Social and Rehabilitation Services, Col. Terry Maple with the Kansas Highway Patrol and Roger Werholtz with the Department of Corrections.

Parkinson, a Democrat, praised his outgoing secretaries in a written statement: “Duane, Don, Terry and Roger have served multiple governors and performed their duties admirably. They are all extraordinary individuals with a wealth of knowledge in their respective subject matters. I wish them all the best in their future endeavors.”

Gov.-elect Sen. Sam Brownback, a Republican, is in the process of announcing his own cabinet picks. He is scheduled to reveal his choices for superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol and Kansas adjutant general today.