Quick Hits

Another Quick Hits post today following up on some stories we talked about before and a Rule 5 lady as well.

We posted how difficult it is to get fired from a federal job and has further proof. When it comes to the FAA, “‘You’re Fired’ Doesn’t Mean Fired to Four of 10 Air Controllers.”

Moments before a single-engine aircraft and a helicopter collided over the Hudson River near Manhattan in 2009, an air-traffic controller who should have been advising the plane’s pilot was on the phone, joking with an airport worker about a dead cat.

Nine people, including three teenage boys, died. The Teterboro, New Jersey, controller, whom safety investigators said was distracted and partly to blame for the accident, still works for the Federal Aviation Administration. Although the agency tried to fire him, his punishment was reduced to a suspension, a transfer and a demotion.

What happened to the controller isn’t surprising, according to data obtained by Bloomberg News under the Freedom of Information Act. More than four of every 10 air-traffic workers the FAA tried to fire over almost two years kept their jobs or were allowed to retire, the data show. That included two-thirds of those targeted for firing over drug or alcohol violations.

Whether it is sleeping on the job, violations of protocols, or substance abuse, it takes almost two years to terminate an air traffic controller.

Managers who crack down on bad employees often receive harassment, discrimination or whistle-blower complaints, said Mary Schiavo, a former Transportation Department inspector general.

“Federal managers take the easy way out and let some underperformers or troublemakers retire, or they transfer them,” said Schiavo, now an attorney with Motley Rice LLC in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. “It is just easier to go with the flow than weed out underperformers.”

Think about that the next time you step onto a plane.

Last month we talked about BROWN v. ENTERTAINMENT MERCHANTS ASSOCIATION where the Supreme Court correctly ruled that the state of California does not have the right to restrict free speech because they don’t like what is being said or portrayed. Californians may be on the hook for some cash for the misguided legislature attempting to be more of a “nanny state.”

In a highly unusual plea in the Supreme Court, the two trade groups for the video game industry asked the Justices on Monday to require the state of California to reimburse industry lawyers for $1,144,602.24 (a figure that may later be increased) for legal fees and expenses — the professional costs of winning a major First Amendment victory in the Court.

The actual motion for the fees can be read here.

The fees may or may not be inflated. We aren’t in a position to discern that. What the figure does show is how expensive taking a case to the Supreme Court to protect the rights of people can be. And remember, this is a request for fees for the winning side. Californians have to pay the cost of the state pursuing this no matter what.

We were outraged that the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled a voter approved Michigan law making discrimination illegal was un-Constitutional. The case may be appealed. In what observers are saying is an unusual move, the state is asking for the entire 15 judge 6th Circuit to hear the case again, instead of just the 3 judge panel that originally decided it.

Michigan’s overturned ban on affirmative action in college admissions may get 2nd look from court

Facing a deadline this week, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has pledged to ask an entire federal appeals court to suspend and re-examine a landmark decision that overturned the state’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions.

Go get ’em.

Lastly, we great joy, we can report that Julie Bass, who was cited for a code violation by the city of Oak Park for growing vegetables in her front yard, only to then see the town threaten to take her to court over what appeared to be a trumped up charges on the licensing of her dogs, has won her battle with the city.

On Tuesday, a district court judge cleared Bass of all charges relating to the garden. Bass was also cleared on charges for failing to properly license her dogs.

We salute Bass for her determination and courage in standing up to the city’s ridiculous and petty actions. We hope her veggies taste all the more sweet knowing she did the right thing and won.

We also hope that the city of Oak Park learned something, but we aren’t holding our breath on that one.

See ya next time for more “Quick Hits.”

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