Wednesday, February 13, 2008
On this day:

Alabama legislator indicted for "performing little or no work"

Damn, I thought that's what we paid them to do.

But seriously...

The Huntsville Times reports:

The attorney for indicted state Rep. Sue Schmitz [D.-Toney] vows to "aggressively and vigorously" fight the charges the government has levied against the Toney Democrat.

Schmitz [D., Toney], 63, pleaded not guilty Friday to a nine-count federal indictment charging her with mail fraud and theft.

Federal prosecutors say the charges stem from Schmitz's involvement with the Community Intensive Training for Youth (CITY) Program, a federally funded program, in Huntsville.

"We think the indictment is hollow and not worth the paper it is written on," attorney Jake Watson said Monday. "Sue Schmitz [D., Toney] is completely innocent of these charges."

The CITY Program operated in 10 locations throughout Alabama and sought to develop social, behavioral, and academic skills possessed by at-risk youth. Students were referred to the CITY Program through the juvenile court system.

The federal charges state that Schmitz [D., Toney] held the title of program coordinator for community and external affairs at the CITY Program from January 2003 to October 2006. Schmitz [D., Toney] received about $177,251.82 in salary and benefits, despite performing little or no work, according to the indictment.

The government also seeks forfeiture of the gains Schmitz [D., Toney] received through her alleged criminal conduct.

Is it really all that surprising (or unusual) that someone like Rep. Schmitz - the coordinator of a federally-funded social program - would do "little or no work"? If so, then we may have to indict half of the federal bureaucracy. Perhaps if Mrs. Schmitz had merely attended the right meetings and looked over the right shoulders, she would have avoided the gaze of an overzealous federal prosecutor.

But all of that is trivial. It doesn't matter one hair on a gnat's heinie whether employees of the U.S. Department of Manure-Spreading do their jobs or not. The real issue is that they were given jobs with the federal government in the first place.

Which brings me to Mrs. Schmitz's role with the CITY Program. What business is it of the federal government "to develop the social, behavioral, and academic skills possessed by at-risk youth?" What provision of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress that responsibility? If government at any level is to be involved in helping to civilize ill-behaved youngsters, shouldn't states and local governments take the lead?

But, when members of Congress are asked to fund extraconstitutional programs like the one Mrs. Schmitz didn't work on, more often than not they reply, "Yes, we can." If they were serious about their own jobs and faithful to their oath of office, they would answer, "No, we can't."