In the earliest days of this nation, James Madison warned of the ultimate fate of citizens who neglect their responsibility to remain vigilant, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations.” Clearly, the actions of the Annapolis City Council represent just such an overreach.
A recent outrage committed against the people of Annapolis Maryland embodies a looming threat to the entire American way of self-governance, and should serve as a clarion call to the people of that quaint East Coast city, as well as every other jurisdiction across this land. An inexcusable affront to the traditions and values of America, it is alarmingly reflective of an increasing pattern of corruption and abuses of power occurring at all levels of government, and corrosively trickling down into the lives of ordinary people. Worse yet, it is only the latest example of such public sector putrefaction, and is unlikely to be the last.
On Tuesday, November 5, Mike Pantelides became the first Republican Mayor elected since 1997 in Annapolis, the very “blue” capital of the very “blue” state of Maryland. Like so much of the state, Annapolis has been under the uncontested control of Democrats for almost two decades. Nevertheless, the majority of voters had officially shown their preference for Pantelides, who should then be able to fulfill the purposes for which he was elected.
Unfortunately, sixteen years of unchallenged liberal dominance created a prevailing mindset among those in authority that the wishes of the peasantry should not be allowed to interfere with their quest for power. So in the immediate aftermath of the Pantelides victory, the Democrat City Council is advancing a measure that will strip Pantelides of his official duties and authority, leaving him in an office that is ceremonial and inconsequential. In typical “Ruling Class” fashion, Democrat Alderman Ross Arnett has attempted to rationalize the move on the grounds that overruling the will of the voters would “stabilize” management of the city. With glaring arrogance, Arnett essentially contends that the ability of the common people to determine how they will be represented by public office holders constitutes an annoyance to those in power who know better how to direct the affairs of the lowly masses. As such it must simply be overridden, and the voices of “We the People” swatted away like so many flies.
The occasions of governmental overreach continue to multiply, and with each such incident the liberties enjoyed by Americans face a burgeoning threat. It is imperative that the citizenry recognize the precarious nature of their position, and take decisive action to avert the encroaching danger. In the earliest days of this nation, James Madison warned of the ultimate fate of citizens who neglect their responsibility to remain vigilant, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations.” Clearly, the actions of the Annapolis City Council represent just such an overreach.
As ominous as the Annapolis City Council power grab may be, it is not nearly as flagrant, as orchestrated, as costly to the taxpayers, or as damaging to the rightful functions of government as an ominously similar transgression that has been ongoing in the State of Wyoming. And for those who might presume that Democrats hold a monopoly on such political atrocities, in the Cowboy State the entire debacle is occurring within the Republican Party. Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill continues to be the target of a massive effort by high level state officials, whose end game is to remove her from public office under a wholly fabricated pretext, in order to prevent her from running against incumbent Governor Matt Mead in next year’s Republican Primary.
Hill steadfastly refused to accommodate the rampant cronyism that for far too long has siphoned exorbitant sums of money from the public trough, and channeled it to recipients who happen to have the right connections. From her perspective, the foremost priority of office is to address the issues necessary to improve schooling for Wyoming children and to eliminate any unnecessary distractions and expenses that would not serve that goal. It bears repeating that the results of her efforts have been phenomenal. During her term as education chief, academic scores soared. But although the worthiness of such an approach may seem self-evident, it has made her a mortal enemy of the “business as usual” crowd in Wyoming government who regard the state’s education funds (the single largest item of the budget) as their personal bankroll.
However, Hill’s offenses against the Wyoming political aristocracy reach beyond education. A project to upgrade the State Capitol facilities has mushroomed from an initial estimate of $55 million to $197 million. In the process, the likelihood of lavish “good ‘ol boy” contracts to friends and cronies has escalated beyond imagination. As a member of the state executive board, Hill has frequently cast the singular vote against such shameless wallowing in the public trough. So despite winning her election with an overwhelming majority three years ago, she has become a political target of the “insiders.” And the ongoing efforts to negate her presence have been nothing short of criminal.
From her earliest days in office Hill has had to contend with multiple “audits,” which proved costly to the state while undermining the ability of her staff to perform the necessary duties of her department. Yet despite the intensity of the scrutiny she received, the audits invariably confirmed that the financial activities of her office were conducted to the highest standards. Nevertheless, the state legislature, in coordination with the governor’s office, introduced and quickly passed Senate File 104 during the early days of the 2013 Wyoming legislative session. This brazen power grab transferred most of the responsibilities of her office to an appointee of the governor. The position is currently held by Richard Crandall, who has no educational background, was brought into Wyoming from Arizona, and currently earns a salary twice that paid to Hill. Does anyone really contend that this move has anything to do with the betterment of academics in Wyoming?
In a manner as deceitful as Barack Obama’s infamous pledge of “If you like your insurance you can keep it.” Legislators and State Senators who collaborated to pass SF 104 assured the people of Wyoming that the measure had nothing personally to do with Hill, but was only intended to make state government more efficient. Yet all of their actions since its passage prove unequivocally that from the beginning, it has been entirely about taking down Cindy Hill. In the wake of its passage last winter, the surprising levels of public anger stunned legislators, who then felt compelled to engage in damage control. This has invariably meant continued desperate efforts to discredit Hill, all of which have failed miserably.
The latest of these is the empanelment of a legislative committee, headed by State Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau, which is clearly intended to lead to her impeachment. If the real purpose of SF 104 was only to restructure state government and increase its efficiency, Governor Mead, Speaker Lubnau, and their cronies ought to be content at this point, and could stop spending all the money (soaring well past the million dollar mark so far, with no end in sight), in hopes of sullying Hill’s reputation. But with their own credibility in tatters, and the looming possibility that if Hill is indeed elected as Wyoming’s next Governor, the rampant corruption in Wyoming government might be properly investigated and come to light. So they clearly intend to continue squandering the state treasury in hopes of finding anything on which they can pin their empty claims of wrongdoing on her part.
It is chilling to consider, at this point, just how far the sordid goings on in the state of Wyoming or the city of Annapolis have strayed from any consideration of the people, and their inherent right to be properly represented in government. And only by holding accountable all those who have violated the public trust can Americans hope to see governing institutions restored to their proper role and function.
Christopher G. Adamo is a resident of southeastern Wyoming and has been involved in state and local politics for many years. He writes for several prominent conservative websites, as has written for regional and national magazines. His contact information and article archives can be found at www.chrisadamo.com, and he can be followed on Twitter @CGAdamo.