Friday, March 05, 2004

Coach Karl?

Latest entry into UNLV basketball coaching rumor mill: George Karl, whose often under-talented NBA teams won 59 percent of their games in his 16 years as a head coach, and who cut his teeth coaching professionally in Spain, and then with the CBA. Oh yeah, and he played point guard at my alma mater, the University of North Carolina, in the early '70s. Karl has local grass-roots support, as Review-Journal columnist Joe Hawk points out, and there was some interest in bringing him here before Coach Spoonhour was hired three years ago. Hawk also notes that some boosters are uneasy with the presumed coronation of front-runner Lon Kruger, who "never stayed at a school longer than five years and won less than 60 percent of his games."

Of course, Karl hasn't exactly set down firm roots anyplace he's gone, either. His longest tenure was with Milwaukee, where he coached seven seasons; but he went through three other franchises along the way. Must be something in the water at Chapel Hill. None of the former Carolina point guards seem to stay put (Karl, Eddie Fogler, Jeff Lebo). Call it the Larry Brown Syndrome.

Anyway, Karl isn't really lobbying for the job. He says he'd just like to "talk about it." Because the only job he really did lobby for was the opening in Chapel Hill, four years ago -- throughout his NBA career, whenever Karl was being interviewed, it was a sure bet he was wearing a Carolina baseball cap or shirt or some Tar Heel paraphernalia -- but Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl refused to give him permission to pursue the job. After Roy Williams said no the first time, George was my favorite for the post, but things turned out all right in Chapel Hill. Even so, George Karl can coach. He's only 52, and if he doesn't get this job, he's going to win a lot of games at a major college someday soon.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Cautious approach

Attorney General Brian Sandoval is confident in the correctness of his ruling that state employees can't serve in the Legislature, but isn't sure how to force the issue. In a meeting with Review-Journal editors on Tuesday, Sandoval said he would move forward cautiously because he did not want to bring a legal action before the state courts, only to have it bounced on a technicality (as happened decades ago to the last AG who tried to remove an executive branch employee from the Legislature). Given the haphazard jurisprudence we've received from the current batch of justices, a deft touch may be in order.

Still, five of the six affected lawmakers say it's business as usual: They'll keep their tax-financed jobs and their legislative seats and run for re-election ... after which, they'll keep double-dipping in violation of the constitution. (State Sen. Ray Rawson, who faces an uphill primary re-election battle against Assemblyman Bob Beers, has scheduled a news conference for today in which he could announce he will not seek another senate term after all.)

Secretary of State Dean Heller, who has something to say about the qualifications of office-holders, appears willing to allow the six to keep their seats and their jobs until the next Legislature convenes. Which makes the timing of any resolution important. If the six continue to sit on legislative panels (including committees which are disbursing tax dollars) in violation of the constitution, I would think any of their constituents (or any state resident, for that matter) would have standing to file suit and have them removed from office immediately. At the very least, the issue ought to be resolved before the filing date for the 2005 Legislature closes in June. Otherwise, we face the prospect of a handful of lawmakers being re-elected, refusing to resign their state jobs, and then being thrown out of office early next year, necessitating special elections to fill the seats.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Splitting the baby

Nevada Attorney General Brian Sandoval ruled today that some public employees were eligible to sit in the Legislature, but others weren't. Sandoval was responding to a request from Secretary of State Dean Heller to clarify whether the separation of powers clause in the state constitution prevented government workers from legislative service. Employees of state agencies (including the university system) cannot hold seats in the Legislature, Sandoval decided, but the separation of powers concerns did not apply to local governments.

If the decision holds, six members of the 2003 Legislature, three Democrats and three Republicans, are no longer constitutionally eligible to hold office. The big losers are Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, who teaches political science at UNLV, Sen. Ray Rawson, who makes a gajillion bucks teaching dentistry (that's right) at the community college, and Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, who gets paid $70,000 a year to do something or another for the community college.

It would be easy to give Sandoval a hard time for splitting the baby. After all, he had to perform some impressive intellectual contortionism to dismiss the separation concerns that apply to local workers. (The reasoning is that Nevada's constitution is based on California's, and court decisions from the early days of the Republic stated that separation of powers didn't apply to local governments. Of course, this doesn't address the issue of home rule, which I've posted about before.) On the other hand, no one in the state's political, business or labor establishments was pushing Sandoval to do anything other than leave the status quo in place. It took courage to move as far as he did. And besides, the decision (when it's up, I'll post a link) offers a ringing endorsement of why separation of powers is important. All in all, it's a pleasant surprise. (Sandoval also did a fine job eviscerating several opinions by the Legislative Counsel Bureau, the Legislature's lawyers, which had rendered separation concerns meaningless.)

That said, the ruling has no legal force behind it. It can be used as ammunition in litigation, which I hope starts quickly. Of course, if Sandoval really wanted to cause trouble, he could aggressively enforce the opinion, and basically kick the illegal double-dippers out of office immediately ... cut off their telephones ... change the locks on their offices ... deny them access to legislative e-mails. Won't happen, but it's an inviting thought.

UPDATE: The link the opinion (PDF) is here.

Decisions, decisions

Mickey Kaus (a Democrat, in case you're unaware) makes the case against John Kerry. (Hat tip to Instapundit.) Meantime, Virginia Postrel (still a registered Republican, AFAIK) links to the case against George W. Bush. (Again, Instapundit's involved.)

What's a mother to do?

Addendum: Virginia points out that she hasn't been a registered Republican since California switched to open primaries.