Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Holding Senators Accountable For Bad Legislative Behavior

How To Behave When Politicians Misbehave

  Some very respected Republican friends of mine just had a highly instructive discussion on social media about how to constructively deal with the behavior of Senator Anthony Sykes, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  One of the fellas expressed a difficult dilemma, brought about by the behavior of Senator Anthony Sykes', in his decision to refuse an important bill to be heard in his committee.
Senator Loveless details the lack of cooperation he has
dealt with, to get his bill heard in committee
  "Two things have disappointed me in this debate over Civil Asset Forfeiture reform. One, I have been disappointed that Senator Sykes has not taken a stronger stand on the issue (which I have talked about for 20 years as a huge concern for me), and secondly, the hateful comments made by many against Senator Sykes, who is clearly either the 1st or 2nd most conservative members of the Legislature. I think it is wrong to say some of the hateful things which have been said about him, simply because of one issue, while praising others on this one issue, who have a much less conservative voting record. 
I think the National Popular Vote and the Indian Cultural Center votes of Kyle Loveless are also very important, but I am not going to say those kinds of things about Loveless, either. I agree with him on something needs to be done about Civil Asset Forfeiture, but I don't agree with him on the other two issues I mentioned. But, I am not going to say the inappropriate things I have seen said about Sykes, about Loveless. I just don't get people sometimes. I really care about the issue of Civil Asset Forfeiture. I wrote something on this TWENTY YEARS AGO but some of the stuff said about Sykes is really out of line."
Some others chimed in with their own perspectives:
 "I'm just extremely disappointed that Anthony hung us out to dry on this one. His previous record really doesn't matter a whole lot if he'll stab us all in the back on an issue like this. I can have a good neighbor for twenty years, but if he one day intentionally burns my house down, all if our cookouts and borrowing each other's tools really won't mean that much. I believe this was a betrayal "
 "He wants to be AG, and doesn't want to upset DA's, law enforcement, judges or the Bar."
  "We have to 'call balls & strikes' the same regardless of which team is pitching. We need to assume that every politician will likely let us down eventually. We who call ourselves Christian, need to pray for them and look for opportunities to add our contributions to the healthy discourse.  But I will not look the other way when I see deliberate abuse of power. If we don't call out our own teams' missteps, the Democrats will return to power, and they'll deserve to. Because corruption is a constant threat. Again, we of faith should pray for our representatives and hold them accountable."
Anthony Sykes, Senate Judiciary Chairman
  "Do you think it is anywhere near appropriate for an elected official to turn his office phone totally off? No voicemail, no way for his constituents to call him. In my opinion, Anthony has a spectacular voting record, but to kill this good legislation for personal reasons and not allow it to go to another committee, and turn his phone off to his constituents and not return a message from his county chairman....well I'm not even sure what word is appropriate here."
 "This issue goes even deeper than conservatism. CAF is an egregious violation of a tenant of basic liberty. To not allow a vote on this is a direct act of oppression..."
 "The big talking point of the sheriffs and DAs is "this stuff doesn't happen in Oklahoma." Well, intuitively I know that is not true, because human nature is not better in Oklahoma. Power corrupts here, too. But, I need actual examples to make a difference."
Finally, Senator Kyle Loveless joined the discussion and added his perspective;
  "You are absolutely right - [I] have not nor will I call Chairman Sykes a traitor - however you predicated this thread on DEBATE - a debate is two persons discussing an issue and up until this point it has been a one sided discussion and no discussion from Chairman Sykes, so therefor, not a discussion.
  •  He could have easily given the bill to general government, rules, public safety, whatever, 
  • but he chose to not only kill the bill but 
  • kill the opportunity for the bill to go through the traditional committee process. 
You want examples, Ill send you some. I have tried and will continue to be respectful even when people get emotional and aren't respectful of me- the issue it too important."
  Sure enough, Senator Loveless did send plenty of examples of the abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture to the discussion leader.


  Kyle Loveless spent much of this past summer preparing his case for a scheduled interim study of the Judiciary Committee. He even scheduled for the former Reagan Administration official who helped design the federal statute to be a part of his presentation to the judiciary committee. But after all the airline tickets were purchased and all the long distance web conferencing was orchestrated, Chairman Sykes unexpectedly declared that the study would be moved hours away from the capitol, to a rural police academy in northern Tulsa County, where no internet would be provided for "Skyped" web conferencing.
  And then Chairman Sykes refused to answer any calls from even his colleagues on the committee. So the bill's author, Senator Loveless, held his presentation at the capitol. None of the committee's members attended the Loveless presentation, even though most of them live within 30 minutes of the capitol, and over 2 hours away from rural northern Tulsa County's police academy


Police Chief Stephen Mills calls for the Loveless Bill to be heard.
Are the common folk mad? Hell yeah! The peasants are about to storm the capitol with pitchforks in hand! I no longer believe it's feasible to expect all social discourse to have the congeniality of the senate chamber. The passive-aggressive tactics are unacceptable to plain-dealing Oklahomans. Some Libertarian bloggers have depicted this as civil asset forfeiture abuse as piracy. Posters are circulating which show Sykes and some law enforcement folks as the "Pirates of Route 66". And for those good citizens whose lives and fortunes and credit ratings are destroyed, the cops are legitimately regarded as the criminals whom the current law has made unaccountable for the misery they create.
One Oklahoma Police Chief is speaking up. Stephen Mills, of the Apache Police Department has personally been a victim of wrongful asset forfeiture. Forbes Magazine wrote a feature article on his subsequent activism for reform.
SoonerPolitics moderates a discussion group on facebook. Discussions similar to this one are a regular feature, and several responsive lawmakers have often joined in as they are able to.

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