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Diamon Flip-Flops

 Letters to the Portland Editor, January 15, 2010
By PORTLAND PHOENIX LETTERS  |  January 13, 2010

If Al Diamon wants to break down the political and other mistakes of the 21st century, he could include a few of his own.

On January 8, in “21st Century Breakdown,” Diamon said that the latest bit of boobery from Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap was his decision not to review signatures on people’s veto petitions, because he was “dealing with more pressing matters.”

Dunlap claimed, to Maine Public Radio, that he was in “material compliance” with the law, but, now that he’s been overturned, he thinks the petitioners “have a pretty valid point.”

Apparently, Diamon agrees with the latest ruling against Dunlap; on December 21 the Kennebec Superior Court decided to overturn the previous ruling, which Dunlap had used to justify his procrastination. The new ruling states that if election officials take longer than the time allowed to check petition signatures, then the petition must be deemed valid. (The decision is called Webster v Dunlap, AP 09-55.) The justice found that, “by missing the deadline, Dunlap had actually forfeited his authority to certify the signatures.”

I’m not in disagreement with Diamon; the previous decision needed reversing. In fact, according to Ballot Access News, it was “one of the worst ballot access decisions ever issued by a federal judge.” The ruling had actually made it possible for the Secretary of State’s office to consider it voluntary on the part of municipal clerks to certify and return petitions in time to qualify for the ballot.
What Diamon fails to mention, however, is that he found that previous decision to his liking when it was issued back in 2008. It was named Dobson v Dunlap. It invalidated my independent candidacy for the US Senate by denying me a place on the 2008 ballot.

The ruling on December 21, overturning the ruling that ended my 2008 campaign, was a vindication of the terrible ruling by Judge Woodcock, who blamed me for procrastinating even though I fulfilled my obligation on time and the delay was on the part of the clerks.

This was what Dunlap referred to when he claimed to be within his rights to delay the certification of signatures on the petition for tax-reform. The reversal was written about in Independent Political Report.

IPR says this new ruling, which Diamon now approves, “appears to substantially weaken a very bad Maine precedent set in 2008, which said that even though an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate submitted her petitions on time to the county clerks, she should not be on the ballot because the town clerks didn’t check her signatures in time. That case is reported at 576 F.Supp.2d 181.

“That decision opens, ‘There is no constitutional right to procrastinate. Laurie Dobson, an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate, waited until the last minute to deliver her nomination petitions to the municipal registrars and when they failed to promptly certify all of her petitions, she failed to meet the statutory deadline to file 4,000 certified voter signatures with the Secretary of State.’”

According to the 2008 decision, even though I followed the law and met the deadline (which I did), I should have realized that the towns would have a difficult time checking the signatures and so should have turned the signatures in earlier than the deadline.

So if I have this right, Diamon celebrated the reversal of the law which invalidated my campaign. Nevertheless, he seemed to consider this “bad” law fitting enough for his purposes when, in June 2008, he said this:

“The It-Turns-Out-I-Was-Right-Not-To-Take-You-Seriously Award is presented to Laurie Dobson, the would-be independent US Senate candidate who — after six months of wacky ranting — failed to turn in enough signatures to qualify for the fall ballot. Her campaign is now in subliminal mode.” (See “And The Award Goes To...,” June 11, 2008.)

I guess it’s only a bad law if it doesn’t support your own pet projects. It’s a good law if it eliminates a candidate who, as Bill Slavick wrote to Diamon (“Don’t Diss Dobson,” June 27, 2008), “managed to gain attention for critical issues the corporate media studiously ignores and to collect more than 4000 valid signatures — a requirement designed by smug major parties to monopolize the ballot, only to have town clerks return too few in time although they are, I understand, required to do so by law. Anyone who has collected 5000 signatures altogether and been denied the ballot merits honor and sympathy, not an insult.”

What did Diamon consider my “wacky ranting?” On January 6, 2008 (see “Life in Cartoon Motion”) he said that the really stupid thing that I did in my US Senate campaign, when I ran as an independent, was to call for a new law to protect homeowners from the banking crisis.

He fictitiously quoted the Family Guy dad, saying “Homer, a lot of people think we’re dopes, but we’d look pretty smart if we stood next to Dobson. She wants Congress to pass a law making it a federal crime to foreclose on anybody’s home for any reason. She says the sub-prime mortgage crisis is all the fault of Wall Street weasels, banking creeps, and, naturally, George W. Bush. So, they should bear the pain.”

Was I wrong? Ben Bernanke, voted “Man of the Year” by Time magazine, agreed with me. In fact, it made the front page of the New York Times last week, that banking deregulation was the root of the crisis, not low-interest loans. Nevertheless, when I targeted Wall Street as the cause, Diamon said that I was stupid. Really? Wall Street is not to blame? Really?

He also said, no kidding, that it didn’t make a “lick of sense” for me to target Tom Allen for supporting the Iraq War (although he did credit me with honesty and humor).

I guess, when it comes to boobery and wacky rantings, it only depends on which side of the law you want to be on, and when it works in your own favor to write a column. That’s called punditry, not journalism.

It also appears, sadly, that the law can be cut to fit the cloth; it can be used to dismiss an independent campaign and then later reversed to support a tax-reform petition. So much for justice being blind.

Diamon said that I should try journalism, since I was out of luck in running for office. Not a bad idea; I’ve done it before. So here’s some help for Diamon so he can get his stories straight in 2010. As for the courts, I wish I could say that my faith in the system has been restored. The people of Maine deserve more consistency in journalism as well as in the justice system, not to mention from their legislators.

Why does this matter now? If I had qualified for the ballot, and had I won the race, we would not have a senator who sided with Joe Lieberman in favor of permanent war, tailoring health care for the pharmaceuticals, and handing the economy to Wall Street crooks. Independent candidates need better consideration, starting with the political writers who cover their campaigns.

Laurie Dobson

Related: Rhode Island’s own stab at health reform, Does Scott Brown’s victory mean doom for RI Democrats?, Department of conjecture, More more >
  Topics: Letters , U.S. Government, Elections and Voting, Congressional and Parliamentary Elections,  More more >
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