Andy’s Newspaper column archive

Title: Is it law or  Rule of Law? ©

Do you believe in the rule of law? Is it clear to you what that really means? Is there a difference between laws and rules? Do those two words belong in the same sentence? Are the laws written clearly? Just what rules are in place to apply the laws? Can you follow those rules? Best question of all, do you care or even give a damn?

First, have you ever considered what the rule of law really means to you? I ponder this question often and to me I have an expectation that a law is written to create and maintain a civil society. To me that encompasses trust in the way a law is written so it is clear for people to follow. Ideally there should be no provision for exceptions or at least strong limitations on any exemptions to the law.

That is not an easy task. To have a law there first has to be a genuine need for it. This usually comes from citizens requesting a legislator to submit what is called a Bill draft Request to the legislature for consideration. It is then reviewed by committee to see if it passes muster, (sometimes known as the smell test). So is there a problem with this? Maybe. The major component of members in the legislature are lawyers. Who reviews the laws, lawyers, and who represents you in court? Lawyers, who are skilled at bending the law, even to being double jointed? Last but not least, who are the judges? Lawyers.  

How about the O J Simpson trial or the latest excuse for bad behavior, the invention of a new disease known as being too rich, now known in legal circles as Affluenza. Not Guilty due to having so much wealth you cannot comprehend the difference between right and wrong.  

Youre free to go.

Did you even wonder how O J went free along with Mr Affluenza. There must be a list of rules to follow that says how stuff is evaluated for trial. Just what kind of rules exist that says how guilt or innocence is applied. Is it dependent on money or the lack of it? Your friends network, the way you received service to appear in court? If you appear in court were you not served?

As an observation, typically conservatives seem to think using logic and liberals think with their emotions as evidenced by opinion columns in newspapers. Logic says there is a law about immigration and emotion says so what, think of those families who are here by sneaking across the borders in violation of the law. How does the rule of law work in this case.

Youre probably thinking Andy is knowledgeable or you might be thinking he is such a jerk. Either way one of my rules is always ask questions and see what pops out on the table.

OK, what are some of the Ordinances and rules in Nye County. I can recall a rule that no prison could be closer than 9.5 miles from a residence in Nye County. However there was another unwritten rule that we need more tax money so we can have more bloat in government. The way this was applied was to set aside the ordinance which has the effect of law, build a prison in the middle of town, and then put the ordinance back in place. Now beg forgiveness and declare it will never happen again. Do you wonder what rule was used to do that or where it was written? Was it the law or the rule of law?

What if the County job description for a meeting requires certain qualities?  OK, for some people that isnt necessary because youre connected, or have enough influence? I guess the rule is verbal and you can just make it up. This conversation actually happened with a county elected official. She said it is policy and we cant do that. I asked, can I read the rule and the answer was, its not written, its just my rule. Now my guess at the time was that she just made it up at the moment I asked to see it in writing. My friend Dave, a popular well known figure in town, was there when it happened.

There is a law on ethics. A commission exists to rule on ethical behavior. Theres that word again. Rule! A recent decision from the State Ethics commission and in their formal written report, two Clark County school officials were absolved of any wrong doing even though they violated Nevada law, because when they were caught they gave the money back and that made everything OK.

The Ethics complaint about Joni Eastleys hiring issues was dismissed. The consideration of events leading up to and including the hiring was absolved because she received the job after leaving office even though she applied for the job before leaving her position as a Commissioner. So this rule must be, get connected and everything will be OK.

Now why do we need rules to enforce laws. The laws if well written should be clear, but lawyers will tell you laws are written poorly so lawyers can fix them by use of court decisions. I guess the rule there is to maximize your grief and their income.

Oh, I just recalled another rule, deny, deny, deny. Does the County have an organization chart? NO? Both John Bosta and I each have an older official chart. So why did my formal written request receive a phone call and a verbal answer of, we dont have one. I guess

thats the deny rule.

So I now presume the difference between law and rule is that law is written poorly so anyone can declare or make a rule about their interpretation of the law based on their feelings. Perhaps based on whether they like you or not. Is that how you want to run your government? If not, then there needs to be some changes around here, and it cant be fast enough for me.

Andrew Alberti Jr