Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Harriet ! you got some 'Xplaining to do!: Miers' shady deal and nomination killer?

Poor Poor Harriet, she's been W's faithful "work wife for all these years, and even sent him all those Cute little Puppy cards to show him she thought he was the "best governor ever". And all she ever wanted in return was a lifetime appointment to the highest and most prestigious judicial body in the land. Really was that so much to ask?


Well apparently, some ungrateful Wingnuts think so. ( Who do they think shut that Guy up about the president's TANG admission anyway?) For some reason they are pissed off that W didn't nominate Attila the Hun (don't try telling them he's dead ) or at the very least Judge Roy Moore


Fortunately for them and sadly for her , Sunday's Philly Inquirer digs up the scandal that will allow W to try again:



Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers collected more than 10 times the market value for a small slice of family-owned land in a large Superfund pollution cleanup site in Dallas where the state wanted to build a highway off-ramp.


and that's just the beginning of this deliciously ironic story:
You see, in proof that there is poetic (or at least ironic) justice in this world; it seems that Harriet got this sweetheart deal thanks to a healthy dose of cronyism courtesy of the Texas bench:




The payment came after a judge, who received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Miers' law firm, appointed a professional associate of Miers and an outspoken property-rights activist to the three-member panel that determined how much the state should pay.



Now mind, you thanks to Texas' uniquely politcal system of selecting judges these sorts of conflicts of interest are so common that it's nearly impossible to refer to the Texas "justice" system without reverting to air quotes. However, even Texas-style judical corruption is rarely this blatant:




The resulting six-figure payout to the Miers family in 2000 came despite the state's objections to the "excessive" amount and to the process used to set the price. The panel recommended paying nearly $5 a square foot for land that was valued at less than 30 cents a square foot.


for those of you playing along at home, that's a mark-up of nearly 1500%. And 50x the state's initial offer for the land:



The condemnation case in Dallas began in April 1999, after the Miers family rejected the state's initial offer of $5,900 for a half-acre of their land and a subsequent offer of $27,000.

The land, at North Westmoreland Road and Interstate 30 in west Dallas, was one of several parcels that Miers' father purchased in the area after World War II. The market value for the entire 18.74-acre lot, according to state tax records, was $244,890. It is vacant and brush-covered. ....

Commercial real estate experts in the area say the nearly $107,000 awarded in court for the land was unusually high.

"Industrial land in that area is generally sold around $1 or $2 per square foot," said George Roddy, owner of Roddy Informational Services, which has researched commercial real estate in Texas for 35 years. What Miers was paid was closer to $5 per square foot.....



which is pretty good Considering the land was also contaminated with toxic chemicals:



The market value of the Mierses' land may have been depressed because it is located within a federal Superfund site that was contaminated by an old lead smelter. The smelter crushed and recycled batteries - and spewed toxic lead dust on surrounding properties - for 50 years until it closed in 1984.

The Mierses' property is about a mile away from the site of the smelter, which has since been torn down.



So the state was looking for a small slice of completely empty unusable, land and even increased their initial offer by 1000% to try to get the land by consent. However, then City Councilwoman Harriet decided to take her chances in Court instead. But the record shows it really wasn't much of risk after all:

First she'd paid good money for the Judge:



Campaign finance reports in Dallas show that Miers' law firm, Locke Purnell Rain & Harrell, had contributed at least $5,000 to Evans' political campaigns between 1993 and 2001. That included a $3,000 contribution in 1998, the year before the Miers condemnation case landed in Evans' court.



And she was pretty tight with the "independent commissioner" he appointed:



Texas law says that in condemnation cases, a judge must appoint three "disinterested" special commissioners to hear evidence, determine the "injury or benefit" of the state's action to the property owner, and rule on what, if anything, the state should pay for the property.

But there was an accumulation of shared interests - dating back years - among several of the parties that assembled in state District Judge David Evans' courtroom to settle the Miers case.

One of the three commissioners whom Evans appointed to hear the case was Peggy Lundy, a professional associate and political ally of Miers.

In an interview Thursday, Lundy said she and Miers worked closely together on a commission set up to restructure Dallas' municipal court system.

"That's where I got to see her up close and see how terrific she is," Lundy said. {the Best Lawyer ever?-ed.}...

"I had a nice, professional relationship with her," Lundy said.


Lundy added that she recruited Evans to run for judge and served as the treasurer of his first campaign and as an adviser to several others.

Evans also appointed one of his campaign contributors, Cathie Adams, to work on Miers' case. At the time, she was president of the Dallas Eagle Forum, a politically active conservative organization that touts its "pro-family" agenda.

Adams said in an interview Thursday that she believed Evans picked her as a commissioner because of her strong views against the government's "taking of land."

"I don't like it," she said of condemnation, or eminent domain, proceedings. Such cases should be "rare," Adams added, and only if the government is willing to pay a stiff price


Now to be fair that award was later reduced somewhat, But it seems that Just like her Texas and DC bar dues Harriet clean forgot to send the money back:




Mediation in 2003 reduced the award from $106,915 to $80,915, but Miers, who controls the family's interest in the land, has not reimbursed the state for the $26,000 difference, even after Bush nominated her for the Supreme Court.

...

Scott Young, the Dallas lawyer who represented the Miers family in the case, never signed the settlement papers, and Miers never repaid the difference.

"I don't know why... it has been as long as it has," Young said. And, he said, "the state hasn't been pressing us" for the money.


And that of course seems totally normal. Why I know when I owe the government money, they are totally lackadaisical about getting to from me as well:


"Your taxes? Do you owe us money?, Oh I guess you do! . Gee we'd totally spaced on that, thanks though"


So why should we care about a decades old land deal ?(haven't I heard that phrase somewhere before?) well see:



Supreme Court justices, unlike other government officials, define potential conflicts of interest for themselves and are responsible for policing their own ethics.

"If Harriet Miers is confirmed, she'll be entrusted to make a large number of unreviewable decisions about which cases to sit on," said Douglas T. Kendall, executive director of Community Rights Counsel, a public-interest law firm in Washington. Kendall said the fact that Miers raised no red flags in the face of "clearly disturbing facts" in the land-condemnation case doesn't say much for her ethical acumen.



So there we have it. The silver bullet that kills the Miers Nomination with a minimal loss of face for the administration. A few horrified looks, a few declarations of how "shocked" they were to discover that Harriet "failed to use better judgment" , and out the door she goes. The only question is, who fires it first: the Left or the Right?

2 Comments:

Blogger A Christian Prophet said...

It seems that Harriet Miers is already defeated. See The Christian Prophet blog:

http://christianprophecy.blogspot.com/

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

State of U.S. Courts. . .

Consider the following:

Open Letter

October 23, 2005

United States Judicial Conference
Administrative Office
of the United States Courts
Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building
One Columbus Circle, N.E.
Washington D.C. 20544

Mr. Albert N. Moskowitz
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530

Mrs. Mary Beth Buchanan
U.S. Attorney Western Pennsylvania
United States Department of Justice
U.S. Post Office and Court House
700 Grant Street, Suite 4000
Pittsburgh, Pa 15219

United States Judicial Conference
Chief Justice United States Supreme Court
c/o Mr. William K. Sutter, Clerk
Office of the Clerk
c/o Mrs. Pamala Talkin
Marshall of the Court
No. 1 First Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20543

Third Circuit Judicial Council
United States Court of Appeals
c/o Toby D. Slawsky, Esq.
Circuit Executive
22409 U.S. Courthouse
601 Market Street
Philadelphia, Pa 19106-1790

Chief Justice
United States Court of Appeals
for the Third Circuit
c/o Toby D. Slawsky, Esq.
Circuit Executive
22409 U.S. Courthouse
601 Market Street
Philadelphia, Pa 19106-1790

RE: Formal Complaint (filed under the Judicial Improvements Act of 2002
28 U.C.S. Sections 351-364); Formal Complaint (filed under 28 U.S.C.
Section 372(c)); and Request for Investigation (pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 604)

Dear All:

Please be advise of the following criminal activity.

On or about October 11, 2005, Marcia M. Waldron, Clerk for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals forwarded a copy of an Order (No. 05-3702) that, among other, requested a copy of the district court docket entries. On October 21, 2005, I purchased a copy of the docket entries (No. 03-1400) and forwarded such to the Third Circuit. However, I noticed the August 16, 2005, entry entered by JSP that advised the clerk’s office couldn’t locate documents #16, #64 and #86. That is, the clerk office wasn’t able to transmitted the complete record (No. 03-1400) to the Third Circuit.

In short, previously I submitted unequivocal evidence of perjury (violation of Section 1746 Title 28, United States Code) to the Department of Justice, federal court and others. Since my request for a formal investigation, the evidence (documents #64 and #86) was somehow removed from the official court file.

At issue is an affidavit submitted to the court by Cassandra Colchagoff (an attorney). With the November 10, 2004 affidavit Mrs. Colchagoff attempted to change her testimony (December 2003 affidavit). That is, the district court specifically cited her December 2003 testimony as its reason for dismissing the constitutional claims in the matter No. 03-1400.
Mrs. Colchagoff had testified (made a material false declaration) that there was “no link to Kaplan Higher Education Corporation (Kaplan College) and no link to federal funding.”
The district court ruled that “without a link to federal funding” I couldn’t pursue my constitutional claims against Kaplan.

The only difference between the two Colchagoff affidavits is the November 10, 2004, testimony no longer suggested, “no link to Kaplan Higher Education Corporation (Kaplan College) and no link to federal funding.” Likewise, her attorneys, Sara Shubert, Laurence Shtasel, and Blank Rome appears to have changed their representation to the court. Her attorneys now acknowledged my October 15, 2000, Kaplan College enrollment letter and admitted in footnote 2 “certain colleges operated by Kaplan Higher Education Corporation, such as Kaplan College, received federal funding.”

Because this information (Document # 64 and #86) is “fatal” to the court’s decision at No. 03-1400, it has been unlawfully removed and withheld from the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The unexplained disappearance of document #64 and #86 is further proof of criminal activity (obstruction of justice and intentional violation of my civil rights).

Please note, the November 10, 2004, Cassandra Colchagoff affidavit (Document #64 and #86) now missing from the court record, at paragraph 23, specifically admitted malfeasance.

In conclusion, the missing affidavit (Document #64 and #86) not submitted to the Third Circuit is decisive for all factual issues related to this matter and directly contradicts Judge David S. Cercone’s Memorandum opinions (May 14, 2004 and June 29, 2005).

I demand an immediate investigation.

Respectfully,
(Name Removed)

5:13 AM  

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