Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Electing a Federal Attorney General and a Chief Inspector General | Expanding Democracy

Today's Washington Post reports ("DHS watchdog declined to pursue investigations into Secret Service during Trump administration, documents show") that the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security rejected calls for some investigations of the US Secret Service.  

While the IG said they had limited resources and other priorities, it is also alleged that they didn't want to do the investigations because it would implicate the Trump Administration.

A big problem with the Inspector General process, and this is true of both Democratic and Republican administrations, although Trump took the abuse to new heights ("The internal watchdogs Trump has fired or replaced," CBS News) is that the positions are appointed by the President and the Executive Branch isn't fond of criticism and investigations of what it does ("Congress may not like when Trump fires an inspector general — but it can’t stop him," Federal Times).

Actually this is true at all levels of government.  They don't like oversight.  In fact I wrote about this wrt education test scandals in DC in 2013:

-- "Why inspector generals often don't seek the whole truth..."

For than a decade, I've argued that the Federal Attorney General, to whom reports the Department of Justice, including the FBI, should be popularly elected, because the law and criminal justice system belongs to and derives from "the people," not the President.

-- "Ideally, the Federal Attorney General would be separately elected," 2017

Note though in response, some people argue with justification that this could politicize the legal process and the Department of Justice even more than can occur currently.  

Again, Trump took the politicization of the Department of Justice to new heights, with his chief henchman William Barr, who has always pushed an "Executive Power" agenda ("What to do with an attorney general who disdains justice?," Washington Post).

I have to believe my alternative would be better.  The campaign would definitely raise the profile of law, Constitutional Law, and the federal criminal justice system.

My concept, although just like with locally and state elected Attorney Generals, it's possible this wouldn't work out the way I want it to, is that this would provide an independent check on the abuse of Executive power of the President and the Executive Branch.

What I would do is have this position elected in the off Presidential election cycle, with the idea that this could boost voter turnout in the election cycle that usually suffers a reduction in voting.

Like with the President, there should be a two term limit.

2.  Federal Inspector Generals.  After reading today's article, it occurs to me the same thing should happen with the Inspector General position.  Create a Chief Inspector General and directorate.  Have that person popularly elected, in the off-year election cycle, with a two term limit.

And have all the various Inspector Generals report to the Chief Inspector General, not to their specific agency, and by extension, the President.

-- Association of Inspectors General
-- Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency

The model of oversight would be the various cities that have Public Advocate or Comptroller or similar positions that take their responsibilities for oversight super seriously.

Another model is the California Civil Grand Jury process, where county-specific civil grand juries are appointed for a one year term to investigate local government functioning.  This is a process different from the grand juries convened to consider criminal matters.

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At 10:07 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Investigation suppressed by Trump administration reveals obstacles to hurricane aid for Puerto Rico
By Tracy Jan and Lisa Rein


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