May 19, 2007

Oklahoma’s Brand of Immigration Reform Barely Makes News; Guess Why?

The Formerly Mainstream Media is favorably transfixed on the proposed immigration “reforms” being whipped through Congress — legislation that opponents characterize as “amnesty.”

“Somehow,” they have managed to virtually ignore immigration-related legislation that has actually become law in Oklahoma.

Perhaps it’s because Oklahoma’s reforms have nothing to do with “amnesty,” and everything to do with enforcement.

Specifically, from a May 8 Associated Press story on the bill’s passage:

Governor Henry today signed a sweeping immigration reform bill that was passed overwhelmingly by the Oklahoma Legislature, but described it as a stopgap measure until the federal government takes action on the issue.

Among other things, the bill contains employment, labor law and civil rights provisions to protect citizens and legal immigrants who lose their jobs at companies that employ illegal immigrants to perform the same or similar work.

Beginning in November, public agencies will be required to use a program that screens Social Security numbers to make sure they are real and that they match up with a job applicant’s name.

A One News Now story provided more detail. It also makes it clear that the sponsor of the legislation believes that the states have more power to enforce immigration law than the “it’s the Feds’ problem” types would like us to believe (bold is mine):

House Bill 1804 was passed by overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate of the Oklahoma Legislature. The measure’s sponsor, State Representative Randy Terrill, says the bill has four main topical areas: it deals with identity theft; it terminates public assistance benefits to illegals; it empowers state and local police to enforce federal immigration laws; and it punishes employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens.

Oklahoma is no longer “O.K.” for illegal aliens, Terrill observes. “When you put everything together in context,” he contends, “the bottom line is illegal aliens will not come here if there are no jobs waiting for them, they will not stay here if there is no government subsidy, and they certainly won’t stay here if they know that if they ever encounter our state and local law enforcement officers, they will be physically detained until they’re deported. And that’s exactly what House Bill 1804 does.”

The Oklahoma legislator is pleased the bill he sponsored into law was signed by Governor Henry and believes it will go a long way to curb the illegal immigration problem in the state. “I would remind people that states are separate sovereigns in our federal system,” Terrill points out. “Anyone who doesn’t understand that needs to go back and take an American federal government class in college,” he says.

It should be noted that Governor Brad Henry, a Democrat, at first waffled, but did sign. But he attempted to downplay the legislation’s significance, especially the state-sovreignty issue brought up by Representative Terrill, saying that “States can take some actions on their own, but until the U.S. Congress enacts a comprehensive, national immigration policy, citizens will see little progress on this issue.”

Press coverage of the news from Oklahoma has ranged from non-existent to barely concealing writers’ opposition to what has taken place:

  • The New York Times had no story (search is on “Oklahoma immigration” without quotes).
  • A Houston Chronicle report by Kim Cobb fretted over “the ripples it may cast,” including a worry that it might “provide a license to discriminate against anyone who appears Hispanic.”
  • A longer version of the AP story cited above said that immigration groups “are considering a challenge to the new law’s constitutionality, saying that immigration policy is the domain of the federal government, not the state.”

Representative Terrill’s bold assertion of states’ rights may explain why federal government-favoring Old Media and the Washington establishment are virtually ignoring what has just happened in Oklahoma (the AP story made relatively few appearances outside the Southwest). I would suggest that politicians ignore it at their peril.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Kelo-New London Aftermath: The Fort Trumbull Crumble Gets No Old Media Attention

Although the Kelo v. New London Supreme Court ruling almost two years ago caused an outpouring of outrage that still resonates nationwide, what has happened in New London itself in the wake of the decision has, with rare exception, received relatively little coverage outside of the state of Connecticut or, in a few instances, New England.

It isn’t as if there haven’t been many noteworthy developments after the decision was handed down. To start, here is a rundown of events that ultimately led to last summer’s settlement:

  • Within a month of the decision, the New London Development Corporation (NLDC) notified the Kelo holdouts that since they had been living on land that they didn’t own during the duration of the lawsuit, they were liable for back rents during that entire time, in some cases amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. This outrage, originally noted in local Connecticut weekly whose article link is no longer available, got no national attention until bloggers took note of it (here, here, and here, to name a few) and percolated it to the higher levels of the blogosphere (examples here [f-bomb warning] and here). Even then, Old Media, with few exceptions, one of them being this USA Today editorial, gave this shocking example of bureaucratic chutzpah little notice.
  • In mid-September 2005, apparently emboldened by the relative lack of outcry, and in defiance of Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell (with whom they had, according to the Associated Press, agreed to halt eminent domain actions while the state’s General Assembly reviewed relevant state law), the NLDC issued eviction notices to the holdouts. Within days, the Governor, threatening to withhold state money, forced a rescission of the eviction notices.
  • The backlash to the Supreme Court’s decision in New London led to the formation of a new political party, One New London. In November 2005, within just a few months of its creation, the party took two seats on the city’s seven-seat City Council and came within 19 votes of gaining a third seat that would have left no political party with a majority (Imagine how much attention a far-left party would get if it ever had such a stunning debut). Perhaps the only thing that prevented One New London from gaining a third seat was Council’s severing of its ties with the NLDC. Those ties were restored just days later, apparently after Council was assured that NLDC’s president would step down. This made it appear as if Council was unhappy with NLDC’s actions during the previous months. One local letter writer in effect characterized this series of actions as a charade, calling it a “sorry spectacle,” noting that “The same city councilors who for years actively worked with NLDC members and contractors (and have accepted many thousands of their campaign contribution dollars), now pretend they are really, really mad at NLDC for making a mess of our city.”
  • That letter writer was vindicated six months later. During May and June of 2006, One New London’s new council members were forced to sit by helplessly as the other five Council members (four Democrats, one Republican) rejected a proposal to move the holdouts’ homes to a nearby unused area, again threatened eviction (winnowing the number of holdouts down in the process), and ultimately voted to evict the final two holdouts, Susette Kelo and the Cristofaro family. Though the eviction vote gained some national attention, no one in the press ever took note of the fact that one building would be allowed to remain (the high-powered, politically-connected Italian Dramatic Club; you must see the map at the link to understand just how outrageous the IDC’s exemption from eminent domain was), and that Council had voted to impose the same odious back-rent and other financial penalties the NLDC had threatened the holdouts with the previous summer.
  • Finally, Governor Rell intervened by extending the deadline for Kelo and the Cristofaros to respond and sending a negotiator to the city. The final settlement in late June 2006 allowed Kelo to keep her home but forced her to move it (she has until June 15, 2007 to do that), and gave the Cristofaros what family spokesman Mike Cristofaro in essence felt was a dignified conclusion. What went unnoticed outside of New London is that in the meantime, the One New London Party had gathered enough signatures on a petition to put the issue of seizing the final two properties to a referendum. It is not unreasonable to believe that the Council majority softened its stance in response to the prospect of what would likely have been a humiliating repudiation at the hands of New London voters.

* * * * *

Almost two years since the Supreme Court ruling, and nearly one year after the final settlement, what has happened at Fort Trumbull? Well, nothing much of substance:

  • The NLDC has asked the state for yet more money.
  • The Coast Guard has apparently surprised and disappointed at least one person by deciding to locate its national museum at “Parcel 1″ in the Fort Trumbull area, and not at Parcel 4A, where the homes of Kelo and other residents once were. Unless I’m mistaken, this means that there is no active development taking place on 4A, leading one to wonder why the homes had to be taken in the first place.
  • The NLDC’s president, Mike Joplin, has betrayed a mind-boggling lack of urgency in getting anything accomplished, telling the local New London Day (excerpted at New London Calling; quoted items are what The Day wrote, and are not exactly what Joplin said) that “it will probably be five years, or more, before visitors step foot in the museum,” and that “the master development plan for the site has always been a 30-year-project.”

To my knowledge, there has never been any mention of a “30-year project” until now. New London Calling, who is closer to the situation, also cannot recall any reference to 30 years. Imagine if someone in the Bush Administration reminded the press that the War on Terror has always been expected to be a “lengthy campaign,” even though it has, unlike Joplin’s out-of-the-blue statement, been portrayed as such from the very beginning.

On one level, it’s hard to understand why there has been so little Old Media interest in what has happened to the real people involved in the New London-Fort Trumbull situation since the Kelo ruling. After all, it has been a David-Goliath situation from the start.

But it seems that when expansion of government power is the ultimate issue, Goliath gets a pass — even on the “development” project that may someday be known as “The Fort Trumbull Crumble.”

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: 41-year-old N.Y. doc answers Air Force’s call

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 12:01 am

From New York City (HT Free Republic):

Little else is audible above the sounds of construction and traffic. Although it’s been nearly six years, a constant flow of onlookers still gather on the breezeway above to view the site of one of the most tragic events in American history — 9/11.

Passersby pause at the “Ten House” long enough to admire the bronze wall sculpture that memorializes the firefighters lost on that day. Others, on their daily commutes, steal a glance at the bright, red fire trucks parked just inside the open garage of the firehouse that faces the fenced perimeter of Ground Zero.

It is here that a 41-year-old physician and volunteer firefighter took an oath that will change his life for years to come. On May 10, Dr. Alan Flower, a 14-year physician and native New Yorker, crossed into the blue.

“We stand here in the shadows and surrounded by the spirits of great heroes,” said Maj. Gen. Rick Rosborg, childhood friend and officiator of Dr. Flower’s commissioning ceremony. “The great heroes who rolled out of Ten House on that horrible September morning; who ended up sacrificing their lives and their futures for their families and their communities and for this country.

“As we stand in the shadows, surrounded by the spirits of those tremendous men and women of the U.S. military fighting the war on terrorism who are suffering and, in fact dying, for our country, I couldn’t think of a more fitting place or a better time to swear in and commission Dr. Alan Flower into the U.S. Air Force medical corps,” General Rosborg said. “It is truly a great, great afternoon.”

Go here for the rest of the story.