Author Archives: Colin McEnroe

So Does Connecticut Have a RFRA Like Indiana’s?

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

1855 Colton Map of Indiana - Geographicus - Indiana-colton-1855
Yes and no. Mostly no.

You’re going to read this often in the commentary about Malloy’s travel ban. It’s in the comments to this article.  And it’s in this disingenuously worded piece of commentary. The argument made is: how can Malloy object to Indiana when Connecticut has essentially the same law?

Believe me, I came to this question with an open mind.  It would have amused me if Connecticut were caught in an act of ahistorical hypocrisy, and I like being amused. In a different way, it would please me to say that our law is not like Indiana’s. I’m happy either way. So let’s look at the facts.

Connecticut’s law is relatively old. It dates back to 1993.  You can read the text here. The law is restricted to interactions between the government and a person, and it says that the government can’t burden the person’s “exercise of religion” except in furtherance of a compelling government interest and even then only when the burden is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. That’s the whole law. You could say it screams out for court cases that will define terms like “exercise of religion” and “compelling government interest.” You could not say that it goes out of its way to define those terms on one side’s behalf. I was halfway into writing this post when Dan Klau, an actual lawyer, published his own take on it. He gives you some of the 1993 history here. 

The Indiana law — read it here –is, of course, the modern, updated version.  But that does not, in this case, mean “sleek.” The Indiana law is clunked up with new language, and most of that language is based on lawsuits from the intervening years. The purpose of the new language is almost invariably to make it easier for the party claiming religious injury to prove its case. Let’s pull this out of the realm of the abstract. Let us imagine that I am a communicant of the Church of the Giant White Serpent (CGWS). My church believes that blacks are inferior and that physically disabled people bear the mark of Cain. The First Amendment allows me to belong to such a distasteful church, provided I don’t go around inciting wrath. But now I would like to go a little further. I would like to open a lunch counter, and I would like to run it along the lines of my beliefs. What does the new Indiana law do for me?

1. Perhaps the biggest difference between Indiana and Connecticut is that the Indiana law does not restrict itself to state vs. person conflict. Instead it says I may make my argument  “as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding, regardless of whether the state or a political subdivision of the state is a party to the judicial proceeding.”  At my CGWS lunch counter, I make blacks sit separately and I don’t let disabled people in at all. It’s my religion! The Connecticut law deals only with my rights vis a vis the state, but the Indiana law arms me against complaints from private parties. I can kick out the guy in the wheelchair, and I’m on firmer legal ground, even if he sues me. In Connecticut, I don’t really have any spelled out rights until the Attorney General shows up and tells me I have to seat African-Americans and blind people alongside my regular customers.

2.   But wait. There’s more. Indiana’s law affirms that I can assert that my exercise of religion has been burdened “whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.” So I don’t even have to prove that my intolerance toward blacks and the disabled is a central tenet of the CGWS, just that it’s in the mix somewhere. (So don’t fall for the argument that Indiana’s law has a higher burden of proof because it uses the phrase “substantially burdened” while Connecticut’s does not. The Indiana law is in other respects explicit about how insubstantial the burden can be. Also, see item 3. )

3. What else can Indiana do for me? Well, it can say that I don’t have to prove a burden to seek relief. I can claim I am “likely to be substantially burdened.” What does that mean? I have no idea, but I hope my CGWS attorneys will argue that even the possibility that someone — a government agent or a private party — will show up and claim I’m in the wrong is more than my pretty little white head should have to bear.

4. The Indiana law spells out four forms of relief.  Go ask Klau what that means.  It’s certainly different from the CT law.

5. Is that it, Indiana?  I mean, I’m just a little guy, a lunch counter owner whose religion contains important teachings about the pernicious nature of blacks and disabled people. What chance do I have if the government shows up claiming that it has a compelling interest in making me serve these children of a lesser god?

In Connecticut, that killjoy George Jepsen is probably going to shut down my racist lunch counter with the argument that it is not an exercise of religion. It’s just a damn lunch counter. George would say I’m not exercising my religion when I’m making and selling sandwiches.

But the new Indiana law includes, in its definition of a (possibly burdened) person “a partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation, a company, a firm, a society, a joint-stock company, an unincorporated association, or another entity that: (A) may sue and be sued; and (B) exercises practices that are compelled or limited by a system of religious belief held by: (i) an individual; or (ii) the individuals; who have control and substantial ownership of the entity, regardless of whether the entity is organized and operated for profit or nonprofit purposes.” Whoa!  This is certainly not in the Connecticut statute. I am engaging in protected religious exercises when I’m making and selling (or refusing to sell) liverwurst sandwiches. Who knew?

In conclusion, anybody who tells you Indiana and Connecticut have the same RFRA law is a big fat liar.

Now, if my lunch counter refuses to serve gay couples, yet another difference kicks in which is not contained in the two laws. Connecticut affords specific protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation — oh God, please, don’t make me explain “quasi suspect classification!” — whereas Indiana does not.  I suppose you could say that the new Indiana RFRA strengthens the capacity of business to discriminate against gays, as opposed to creating a whole new capacity. (Klau, any thoughts?)

What you cannot say, however, is that our beloved Porcupine has failed to note the similarities between the Connecticut and Indiana laws. They are not the same laws — in intent or letter.

 

Alta Tensione!

by Categorized: Colin's Theories of Culture, sports Date:

altaYou know what the Courant should do to John Altavilla?  Basically nothing.*

And I don’t say this as his chum. I worked onsite at the Courant for 20 years, but that was, um, 20 years ago. I’m not in the building now. I don’t know him.

And is it great that he informed the world about the way the skimpily dressed Texas cheerleaders delighted him? No. It is not great. But neither is it dastardly. Just kind of bad judgment. The Altavilla story, which has been sitting out there as the center lead at Ct Capital Report for half a day now, is more a story about the world of online Pecksniffs who have never outgrown the habit of telling the teacher what the other boys were doing. Thus we have somebody named Andy Hutchins who, were he a different person, could easily have confronted Altavilla, at least on Twitter, and suggested he tone it down. This is what big boys do. You got a problem with somebody? Tell him. He might even thank you for the nudge. If he won’t straighten out, see the light, take the hint, maybe you go upstairs at that point. But Hutchins’ first instinct was to drag Altavilla’s employer into the fray.

As a caustic political columnist, I may have no standing to complain about this. And I get that the internet is often about counting coup and maybe even loading your belt with scalps. But what I can’t forgive is a piece written by AA Locker.  If you’re going to write a takedown on your Deadspin wannabe website, use a real name, please.

I started thinking a lot about the culture of digital ostracism last week while preparing for this show. I was struck anew by how much trouble you can get in these days, and how little it takes. This seemed especially true in the case of Andrew Pessin.  Let me preface this by saying I sit on the other side of the aisle from this guy. I’m more likely to think that the Palestinian case is under-represented in the American debate and that the actions and rhetoric of Israel are often too easily waved off. So the last thing I need is another armchair Likkudist professor, and I was prepared to be thoroughly outraged by his comments.

And then. I wasn’t.

I mean, I didn’t agree with them.  Or like them. I would have welcomed a chance to tell him he was off base. But I would not have needed to do it with my hands around his throat, nor would I have had to retreat to my fainting coach and reset my trigger warning light.

So, John. Eyes off the pom poms. Eyes on the court. I realize that part of the problem may have been how boring most UConn women’s games are. My idea of hell is to be stuck at a 105-54 blowout (and with a 1 seed playing a 5, for heaven’s sake). Attentions are bound to wander. Don’t do it again. Bygones.

* I’m reserving one escape clause. I had to think about the “urban sportswriter” tweet for a while before I realized it was a reference to the Boz Scaggs song in “Urban Cowboy.” Did I miss something else. Is there some more profoundly carnal meme in these tweets?

Still Rubble-utionary!

by Categorized: Uncategorized, Year in Review Date:

Here is a new idea.

With no money for staff and upkeep of our once-proud state park system, why not knock things down and market the faux ruins?

A second concept, called an “ecological park,” would involve restoration of a historic building as a visitor center, while other buildings may be demolished or restored to a ruined state to preserve the spirit of the history of the property.

The great thing about this is idea is that when the park falls into neglect, nobody will be able to tell!

An “attractive ruin” is a building left intentionally in a ruined state intended to be evocative of the structure’s historical uses.

I like the name Pam Award.

 

Ogrodzieniec widok z wi?y obronnej.jpg
Ogrodzieniec widok z wi?y obronnej” by AisogOwn work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 pl via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Not In My Name, Please

by Categorized: Politix, Uncategorized Date:

Last year I wrote about the unsightly danger of Dan Malloy turning into a hockey goon for the national Democratic party.

Twelve months passed and — guess what? – here he is in full goon mode, lining up the same spindly opposition player.

“He must have been beaten up really bad on the playground. Really bad, I think,” Malloy told BuzzFeed News when describing Jindal’s demeanor and what he said was a similar sharp-elbowed persona on and off camera.

I cannot tell you how distasteful I find this. First, the smirking suggestion that kids who get bullied on the playground grow up to be men who merit our disdain is repellent coming from anybody  but especially from a man who has whined ad nauseam about the treatment he received as a misunderstood, disability-laden boy.  Make up your mind, Governor. Do wretched little creatures deserve our scorn or our understanding?

I also fail to see how this serves the people who elected Malloy. We elected him to do a job, and in no way does that job involve kicking Bobby Jindal around or carrying water for politicos in the other 49 states. In particular, I expect him to make at least some effort to work cooperatively with Republicans and forge compromises that serve everybody’s best interests.

Renting himself out as a Chris Christie-style jerk-provocateur, he is unlikely to do this.  He already has pushed the drama button — which is a mile wide and set on a hair trigger — of Minority Leader Themis Klarides. How does this help us, here in Connecticut.

Malloy and Klarides photos by Chion Wolf for WNPR

Malloy and Klarides photos by Chion Wolf for WNPR

themis_klarides

Well That Clears THAT Up

by Categorized: Politix, Words and phrases Date:

Statement By OPM Secretary Ben Barnes –

OPM has informed the legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis of a potential discrepancy in its calculation of the expenditure cap growth rate for FY 2016. The growth rate that was included in the Governor’s budget proposal, 2.98%, was inadvertently calculated using personal income data beginning with the fourth calendar quarter of 2008 and ending with the third calendar quarter of 2014. The usual practice of OFA in calculating these growth rates is to use a range beginning with the third quarter personal income data in the relevant years. The statute is silent as to the exact data to use.

The discrepancy occurred when data was pulled from an outside vendor in January, 2015. A feature of this new vendor’s reporting system resulted in a one-quarter shift which was not recognized by OPM until after the Governor’s budget had been prepared and submitted.

Calculation of the expenditure cap using the 3rd quarter data would result in an expenditure cap growth rate of 2.58%, which would then result in a spending cap approximately $60 million lower than the cap presented in the Governor’s budget for FY 2016. The magnitude of this change is due in part to the fact that the quarters in question occurred in the midst of the the Great Recession, thereby leading to a lower rate of growth than in the period shifted one quarter later. Using the revised data, the Governor’s budget would be below the cap by $80 million in FY 2017.

On behalf of the agency, I personally apologize for this discrepancy, and commit to working with OFA and the legislature to identify the adjustments necessary to ensure compliance with the expenditure cap.

confusedBen Barnes

Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management

Northern Courage

by Categorized: Colin's Theories of Culture, Deep thoughts, Show ideas, Uncategorized Date:

Johan Christian Claussen Dahl - Nordiske landskapet
On days like the one we’re having here, it’s not uncommon to see one of us northerners post something on social media and see, in response, a comment from a transplant: “I wouldn’t know. It’s 76 today here in South Carogeorgialorida. So glad I’ll be out on my boat today instead of shiviering with the rest of you!”

And I reflexively think: I’d rather be freezing my cheeks off up here than wedged up against a d****ebag frothing with self-congratulation because he figured out it gets warmer as you approach the equator. I’d like to be warmer too, but not if it means being surrounded by people with no sense of irony, people who are more likely to be depicted in than entertained by Coen Brothers movies. To re-phrase “Repo Man,” sometimes it seems like the more you drive South, the stupider you get.

But that’s too easy, and it’s probably wrong to exalt one’s choices at the expense of a whole region of people many of whom are perfectly nice. Why the hell ARE we here? And then somebody sent me this essay, which feels more like the beginning of a conversation — and therefore a radio show idea! — than a solid answer.

Could northmanship be a thing? I mean, is there a connection that we make to truth and beauty here in the north? Of course, the north itself is retreating from us. One of McEnroe’s Immutable Theories of Culture is that the more we celebrate a thing, the more likely it is that it’s dying. And right now, we celebrate the north. I mean Joakim Zander is the new Henning Mankell who is the new Stieg Larsson. Iceland is hip. Cultural conservatives are shook about Lady Thor. Nordic pop and Canadian comedy. Holla!

I stray from my point. I wonder if there’s something mystical and meaningful about the cold and the darkness and the starkness. In which case, we should embrace it, rather than curse it. We should be content with the notion that Rilke is cooler than Jimmy Buffet. And not — as one voice in the Gould piece says — not throw away our North for a mess of pottage.

Often when I imagine you your wholeness cascades into many shapes. You run like a herd of luminous deer and I am dark, I am forest.

Malloy: I Look Better Through Beer Goggles

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duoche

Dan Malloy has adopted a peculiar strategy for the roll-out of his new fiscal plan. He shows up for his interviews armed with booze to press into the hands of the press.

This week, he visited Crazy Ira and the Douche, excuse me, the Chaz and AJ show and brought them tequila in celebration of his new vision: cheap booze, longer hours, free hookers and firecrackers. 

Pander much?

But wait, there’s more. Malloy then showed up for his “Face the State” appearance with a sixpack, and he and Dennis House proceeded to spend the entire telecast pounding brews and checking out babes discussing his budget plan.

Would any other CT governor whose name did not rhyme with Don Schmoland contemplate such a strategery?  I covered Bill O’Neill, who owned a dive bar, and he would not have done this.

I fear it’s part of the changing of the guard.  Malloy is no longer advised by Roy Occhiogrosso, his shrewd, transactional and sometimes excessively Sicilian vizier of yore. In place of Mr. O — at the Capitol and state central — is bunch of pop-collared frat-molded bros. It’s as if Malloy swapped out Vizzini for Otter and Bluto. So you get: “Dude, bring some beer.”

vizzini bluto