Recently in Laws Category

As I'm sure you have heard, John Allen Muhammad, the DC Sniper, was executed yesterday.  And frankly, I'm glad.  Before some of you think I'm a death penalty supporter, let me tell you I'm not.  Indifference is the best description for me.  I have not supported it, nor am I against it.

In the case of Muhammad however, I feel this is justice deserved.  Crime occurs every day, every minute.  Many times there is a reason, a motive.  Then sometimes, like here, there isn't a real explanation.  Crimes happen because of opportunity, need, emotion.  Only opportunity applied in the DC Sniper case and that's a stretch, since the opportunity was that anyone who went out in public was a target.

This series of crimes paralyzed the DC region for weeks.  While I did not personally know any of the victims, the locations of most of the crimes occurred in or near the neighborhood I grew up, worked, or frequented.  Most disturbing for me was October 14, 2002 when Linda Franklin was killed outside the Home Depot in the Seven Corners area of Falls Church, Virginia.  I was at work nearby and drove by there just an hour before she was killed.  During the spree, I had co-workers from the Philadelphia area ask me the best way to drive to avoid the sniper when they were headed to Virginia.  I worried for my parents, brother, and sister who still lived in my childhood neighborhood.

When Muhammad, and his accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, were finally captured, we could all rest a little better.  With his execution last night, it seems we can all rest even smoother now.  Sometimes the death penalty may feel right, even if you have no opinion.
The first one.  The Maryland State Senate passed a bill that would ban texting while driving.  It heads to the House of Delegates soon.  While forms of this bill have been killed in committee in recent years, there appears to be a better chance of passing it this time.

I have mixed feelings about this.  I will admit, I've read a text message while driving.  I have probably written one as well.  But it is bad for attention.  I do have however think there are a million other things that could be as distracting.  Still probably a step in the right direction.  Let's hope they don't go the route DC took of banning use of mobile phones without a headset.  I know I see it everyday I'm in the city where someone is driving with their phone in one hand.  I have even seen a very well known technology writer for a national newspaper do it on the Whitehurst Freeway in afternoon rush hour.
Councilman Barry, give me a call, I'll take care of your taxes.

Apparently Marion Barry does not understand tax law or court orders.  I'm an accountant and I don't understand all of the tax law, so I don't blame him on that part.  But I'm fairly sure I know that if I was told by the courts to file on time, I'd file on time.  But not filing his 2007 taxes, prosecutors are asking a judge to jail Barry because he is violating the terms of his agreement from the last bought with taxes.  Barry told NBC4 yesterday that he has not been served with notice of his tax issue.  Really?  You need to be notified?  Can't call your CPA?  Apparently he is taking the "Mayor for Life" title too seriously.  It does not make you exempt from court orders.

Not to be bashing Barry.  I think he did much good for the city.  In fact, if he were still mayor when Jack Kent Cooke built Fedex Field in Maryland, I don't think the Redskins would have moved.  And everyone has their faults.

His fellow council member, Jim Graham, defends Barry by stating he should not be locked up.  He references Timothy Geithner, the new Treasury Secretary, by not filing accurate tax statements.  I'm not dismissing that charge, but Geithner filed his taxes.  He failed to properly report some tax items and essentially underpaid.  That is different from Barry, who apparently has not filed his 2007 taxes.

If Barry really wants to avoid the hassle, hire a tax accountant and get the 2007 taxes filed ASAP.  I don't know how complex his issues are, but I'm guessing it won't take too long.  I'm not a regular tax return preparer, but if he can't afford it on his DC Council salary, I'll do it free for him.  Hit me up!  Then again, if he is making what this old Post article quotes, I think he afford to pay a trained tax professional.
It seems odd that after commenting last week that he would not push the envelope, Roland Burris would actually try to get seated at the Senate.  I don't have a strong opinion either way, but I would respect what the law/rules state.

I am NOT a Constitutional Scholar, nor do I have a JD behind my name.  Never attended law school either.  But I am an educated American citizen.  From what I read, given that the Illinois Secretary of State has not signed off on Burris' appointment by Governor Rod Blagojevich.  Some say the role of the Sec of State is administrative and symbolic.  If that's the case, Illinois should do away with the ceremony.  Let's be green!  Save a tree (or sheet of paper).

From the point of the Senate, and particularly leader Harry Reid, the Senate has the right to accept/deny seating of any person.  Given all of this, it appears to be that Burris should not be seated at this time.

There are a few questions.
  • Why does Burris feel he needs to be seated today?  Another symbolic gesture?  Governor Patterson of New York has yet to appoint Caroline Kennedy or another person to the Senate yet.
  • Which law/rule holds true?  Each state has their own rules regarding filling an empty seat. In most situations, federal law supersedes state law.  But there is a difference between appointment and actual seating, so both may be right.  However, there is a question of whether a Senate rule is stronger than state law.
  • Beyond my first question, why does Burris feel he is the appropriate person to fill the vacancy?  He said he had nothing to do with Blagojevich's prior dealings.  Even if true, he could wait until Illinois settles the debate.  Whoever is ultimately given the power to appoint will choose Burris if he is the best person for the job.
Interesting that just a few months ago, the Democrats were looking for a filibuster-proof pool, yet they are short a few heads at the moment and that looks unlikely to change.

Voter Mis-Registration

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I live in the great state of Maryland.  The voter registration deadline was October 14 and I've been a registered voter since November 1992, when I was first eligible.  Confident that I was registered, for some reason today I remembered that I was still incorrectly registered at my parents old address in 2006.  I'm a part-time voter, so 2007 wasn't all that important to me and I didn't bother to check.  Today, I checked my registration and I'm still registered at the parents house in Montgomery County.  Polling station is my old elementary school.  Go Road Runners!

The problem is that I live in an entirely different county, Frederick.  I changed my drivers license and vehicle registrations to reflect that within a week of moving.  When filling out that form, I checked off the little box that says something about notifying voter registration.  That was 2005.  In 2006, I voted only for statewide elections and left the local politics to the real Montgomery locals.

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