Chris Bliss is a comedian and juggler (turn on audio). A fairly successful one. A very funny one. He even writes his own material. It is unclear to me when the first seed sprouted in his head of what I am about to tell you.
Perhaps it was viewing the monument to the Ten Commandments that was placed in the park across the street from the Arizona Capitol building. The history behind this is, Director Cecil B. Demille, when he was releasing his latest epic, The Ten Commandments, thought of a rather classy publicity stunt. He had a representation of the Ten Commandments made in black granite for every State in the nation. So that is how Wesley Bolin Plaza ultimately received its monument.
Feeling inordinately chatty, might I—as an aside—point out that Wesley Bolin was Arizona’s greatest governor. Following along the executive management style of his Whitehouse predecessor, President William Henry Harrison, Governor Bolin had the good graces to die some weeks after taking office, having caused little harm. I only wish all governor’s would act as fast.
I have no idea, but I suspect Chris Bliss is a liberal. I also don’t care. What he thought of is one of the greatest monuments I can imagine. He looked around and asked why there was no celebration of the Bill of Rights (the first ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution), and no monument either?
The Declaration of Independence gets the 4th of July. Though regrettably, little mention of the Declaration occurs on this date.
We have had our dog and pony show (there is even another one) for the CONstitution’s bi-centennial.
But where the heck was the tribute to the basic statement of our human rights that supersede government power, and the declared and specified limitations on that power? The Bill of Rights. [Actually, Dec 15th.]
Mr. Bliss wanted a small group that would focus exclusively on getting private funding, of a maximum of $100 per individual contributor to build monuments to the BOR in all 50 states. To that end, they created a web site to promote the cause: MyBillOfRights.org. He wanted a tasteful, lasting stone monument. He found a willing partner in Archaic, stone masons extraordinaire. Then he started promoting it, and asking other to spread the word.
Since he lives in Arizona, he figured that was as good a place to start as any. He contacted a Representative, Kyrsten Sinema, as liberal a Democrat as they come. He contacted a Senator, Karen Johnson, as conservative a Republican as they come. Both have eagerly embraced the idea, and agreed to guide the authorizing legislation through the legislature.
ALL 90 members of both houses signed on as co-sponsors of the legislation, HB2682. In late February it passed the House. It has languished in the Senate, despite ostensibly unanimous support of the members of the Senate as co-sponsors. Gee, how does this happen? ;-)
Who has been sitting on passing this bill, and why?
Sen. Ken Bennett. Who is leaving office, decided to carry the water of those Senators who overtly support the monument, but covertly are blocking its passage. There is honor amongst thieves, but none reserved for their bosses.
Now Ken Bennett would tell you the Bill was passed and attached to the Appropriation bill. This is true. It is also true that this is a legislative maneuver, of attaching it to a bill the Governor has already indicated she will veto. She will then call for a special session for the appropriation bill, and the BOR memorial WILL NOT be part of it.
This is motive number one: It gives the Republican legiscritters the ability to point to the Democrat governor and say, “She vetoed the Bill of Rights monument.”
It is inappropriate for the BOR bill to be attached to an appropriations bill, as there will be no public money appropriated for this monument (as specified by law in HR2682). It is 100% privately funded.
This is reason number two: Many legislators would like to feather the nests of one or more developers to build and install the memorial. Without their oversight, who gets to receive that money is determined by MyBillOfRights.org, not the crony legislators.
What’s in it for me? If the answer is not much, the legislature isn’t interested.
The final reason, I am aware of for the Senate kibosh on the BOR monument, is the chief sponsor is a liberal activist democrat, Kyrsten Sinema, and not one of their own. They wish they had been the original sponsor, and do not wish a democrat to get credit.
Yes they are that petty. Actually they are more petty than that.
Sen. Bennett has said since the legislature is coming to a close, they simply do not have time to hear a bill (that has sat in a hopper for three months) that has unanimous support before the legislature adjourns. Unfortunately for his veracity, SB1112 passed on June 1, and was sent to the governor’s desk. What is SB1112? A monument for the Battle of the Bulge, for goodness sake, to be placed in Wesley Bolin Plaza. I didn’t know there was such a strong link between Arizona and the Battle of the Bulge.
So why don’t you go check out My Bill of Rights for yourself. If you agree it is a good idea think about contributing some money [avg. donation is $40, so don’t be afraid if you can only afford $5 or so dollars.], some time, and some e-mails immediately to your state legiscritters.
And if you live in Arizona, and want to have some fun:
What district am I in? (Maricopa Co.)
For other counties ... best of luck.
Who are my legislators, and what are their e-mail and phone numbers?
Who are my senators, and what are their e-mail and phone numbers?
And to Chris, hopefully the Preamble will be included. There is nothing like stating up front what the BOR is required for support to ratify the Constitution.
“The Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added:”
The left's E.J. Montini (Arizona Republic) wrote a column on the BOR monument legislative shenanigans published 6-6-2006.
The right's very lovely Becky Fenger (Sonoran News) has published a column on this issue.
The Arizona Republic finally ran a piece on the controversy. This article resulted in a phone call from Mr. Bennett to Mr. Bliss assuring him that if the governor vetoes the budget bill, he will submit the bill as a standalone bill before the legislative session ends. Of course, if Bennett has time to do that (which seems unlikely too me) then he has time to do it now. And of course, since this is Bennett's last hurrah as a legiscritter, does he really care?
So you see, this issue is of concern to both sides of the political spectrum, which I find comforting. In the end, most people desire personal liberty. They sometimes need to be reminded of that fact.
And to reiterate, here is yet another example of where one man can make a proposal, that snowballs as others take up the call into a successful, voluntary, non-coersive project that exposes the statists who stand in the way. Beautiful! Or to quote our boastful emperor, "Bring 'em on!"