Sunday, March 18, 2007

SB 83 Follies

My wife is slowly improving at St. Mary's, and yesterday took a big step forward by gaining enough control over her swallowing to be able to start eating again. Very soft, pureed food (and not badly prepared at that), but eating on her own nonetheless. She has also started to become more aware and communicative, and is starting to try to talk in sentences. She is currently awaiting a bed in the hospital's Rehab unit, and will hopefully come home after that. Lots of work to do on several fronts before then.

In the meantime I couldn't help but notice all of the hubris and concern over an amendment to Senate Bill 83 that would extend voting rights to parolees. Many bloggers and media outlets, including the Sentinel, have come out in opposition to the amendment and in favor of Senator Josh Penry for trying to block its' passage. Senator Penry has succeeded in sending the bill back to committee for additional deliberation with the parolee provision included.

I belong to the ACLU, mainly to support their involvement in First Amendment cases. They've done some great work, but were sort of deserving of some of the local media criticism they received for their somewhat ham-handed involvement in the public display area controversy at the Mesa County Public Library. I'm not sure about this parolee thing, but because I belong to the ACLU I received several e-mails about an Action Alert by the ACLU of Colorado, pertaining to supporting the parolee voting amendment that was eventually attached to SB 83.

With all of the local media and blogger activity regarding the parolee voting amendment, and a local legislator spearheading the opposition effort, you'd think that the Sentinel and local bloggers would see this as another opportunity to skewer the ACLU over their support for and lobbying attempts on behalf of the parolee voting amendment. This hasn't been the case, though. I wonder why.

Criticism of the ACLU's motives and actions in these two local examples is not entirely without merit, although there are two valid schools of thought hard at work here. It seems that the ACLU has a hard time establishing itself on the Western Slope because it picks the wrong battles, or attempts to interject itself into places where it isn't welcome. They were interested in getting involved in the Bass Lake sign controversy from last year, but the residents involved apparently weren't interested. That case, combined with the City Hall Ten Commandments issue from 2001, show that partnerships and creative thinking can sometimes trump litigation, or the threat thereof.

I still would love one of those Bass Lake bumper stickers. I can see many of them creatively placed on the next batch of election signs bearing Janet Rowland's name.

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