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    Thursday, July 18, 2019-9:30:28A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Variations | Gluten-free popcorn please

THE administration’s critics say that the Legislature should summon the governor and his finance and budget officials so they can answer questions under oath. Why? Because I think “grilling” someone in a court-like setting works so well especially in the movies and TV shows.

Congressman Tom Cruise: Governor, did you order runaway government spending?

Committee chairman: You don’t have to answer that question.

Gov. Jack Nicholson: I’ll answer the question. You want answers?

Congressman Tom Cruise: I think I’m entitled!

Gov. Jack Nicholson: You want answers?!

Congressman Tom Cruise: I want the truth!

Gov. Jack Nicholson: You can’t handle the truth! Dude, we live in a world that has voters, and those voters have to be kept happy with jobs, pension checks, bonuses, pay raises, OT pay, medical referrals, scholarships, free this and that, affordable this and that, subsidized this and that. Who’s gonna do it? You? I have a far greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for the pay cuts and you curse the austerity measures. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that the budget cuts, while tragic, save jobs. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves jobs! You don’t want the truth, because deep down in places you don’t talk about online you want me in the governor’s office. You need me in that office. We use words like “FTEs” “retroactive pay,” “within-grade increase.” We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something that most voters want. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to someone who rises and sleeps under the blanket of a political system that me (and my predecessors and successors) will have to perpetuate, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said “thank you,” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you stand for election against me. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!

Congressman Tom Cruise: Did you order the Code Red?

Gov. Jack Nicholson: I did the job that —

Congressman Tom Cruise: Did you order the Code Red?!!

Gov. Jack Nicholson: YOU’RE GODDAMN RIGHT I DID!!

But speaking as someone who had to sit through many legislative and court hearings or have edited stories about them, I’ve to say that they can be quite interesting (watching-paint-dry interesting) provided that you do not fall asleep.

And this may come as a surprise to many of us, but there are so many ways to answer questions under oath without perjuring oneself and/or ending in a dramatic and conclusive the butler-did-it court-room scene.

The only “value” of an oversight hearing with the governor as the primary witness is political. It could be an opportunity to gather enough footage edited in a way that would make him look what the opposition and his critics say he is. “Striking visuals,” in short, for the opposition’s campaign materials in the 2020 and 2022 elections. But this is assuming that the administration would actually walk into a barely concealed political trap.

To be sure, teachers, other government employees and other members of the public who want to know more about their government finances are entitled to such information. It can and should be obtained in the form of official documents. The public can and should ask other questions directly to the governor and other administration officials who should answer them.

This is not as dramatic as (insert title of your favorite court-room movie/show here), but possibly more informative.

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