NOTE: 3/28/14 – Cheyenne. On Thursday, March 27, 2014, The Cheyenne Tribune Eagle, a liberal Democrat daily, to my surprise, published a Letter to the Editor, in which I wrote the following article:
“It’s been two full months since Wyoming’s Supreme Court, in a 3-2 decision on or about January 28th, ruled Senate File 104 unconstitutional. Yet, Wyoming-raised Superintendent of Public Education, Cindy Joe Hill, statewide winner of that position in the 2010 election, holder of a Master’s Degree in educational policy and administration from the University of Michigan, has not been allowed to return to her job. Her attempt to do so on March 10th, was thwarted by Richard Crandall, whom Governor Mead had appointed as Director of Education, after the passage of SF 104.
In fact, Attorney General Peter Michael, citing a flimsy excuse of “severability issues,” has continued to challenge the will of the voters and the decision of the State’s Supreme Court.
In November 2010, Republican candidate Hill was elected superintendent by the voters of this state after a Republican primary battle which ousted former Superintendent Jim McBride.
But, in 2013, the Legislature, led by state Senator Hank Coe (R-Cody), and state Cheyenne), and a few others, perhaps without the benefit of legal counsel, pushed SF 104 through the Legislature. They pointed to vague accusations against Hill, probably stemming from her campaign promises to remove unqualified teachers from our classrooms, something which the educator’s union diligently opposes, and which understandably, had many teachers running scared. The law stripped Hill of most of her duties.
To the surprise of many, Wyoming’s 32nd governor, Republican Matt Mead, sided with the ill-advised act of the legislators and signed this obviously unconstitutional bill, overturning the will of the majority of Wyoming voters.
Why Mr. Mead, a former practicing attorney, did this is anybody’s guess. Philosophical differences between Mr. Mead, a liberal, and Ms. Hill, a Conservative, could be blamed, although there’s probably more to it than that, such as their obvious difference of opinion regarding President Obama’s Common Core initiative.
Reasons aside, Mead’s act of signing that bill, which concentrates a lot of power in his office, has insured that Ms. Hill has been unable for over a year as this fiasco played out, to fulfill campaign promises and make the changes to the education system in this state which she had stated she wanted to do in her campaign, and for which she was elected by a vast majority of voters of both parties.
It has also made it more difficult for Mr. Mead to retain his base of supporters among Conservative Republicans who make up a majority of voters here, but who have been confused by this and several other of his actions during the past year.
But, perhaps, in an unintended consequence, which many such actions tend to spawn, his act has made it less difficult for Wyoming’s Democrats, better organized than in the recent past, to mount an effective challenge to Mr. Mead in November 2014, and a bit harder for Republicans to retain control of that office.