Monday, July 17, 2006

Separation of Powers Sources

[1] Edited by Mary E. Webster, The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language Indexed for Today’s Political Issues (Merril Press / Bellevue, Washington, 1999) (Federalist #51) p 211

[1] Edited by Mary E. Webster, The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language Indexed for Today’s Political Issues (Merril Press / Bellevue, Washington, 1999) (Federalist #47) p 197

[1] Edited by Mary E. Webster, The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language Indexed for Today’s Political Issues (Merril Press / Bellevue, Washington, 1999) (Federalist #51) p 211,212

[1] Edited by Mary E. Webster, The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language Indexed for Today’s Political Issues (Merril Press / Bellevue, Washington, 1999) (Federalist #51) p 212

[1] Edited by Mary E. Webster, The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language Indexed for Today’s Political Issues (Merril Press / Bellevue, Washington, 1999) (Federalist #51) p 212

[1] Edited by Mary E. Webster, The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language Indexed for Today’s Political Issues (Merril Press / Bellevue, Washington, 1999) (Federalist #46) p 192,193

[1] Edited by Mary E. Webster, The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language Indexed for Today’s Political Issues (Merril Press / Bellevue, Washington, 1999) (Federalist #45) p 190,191

[1] Edited by Mary E. Webster, The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language Indexed for Today’s Political Issues (Merril Press / Bellevue, Washington, 1999) (Federalist #41) p 169

[1] Ibid

[1] Ibid

[1] Bergh, Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 14:421, quoted in W. Cleon Skousen, The Five Thousand Year Leap (National Center for Constitutional Studies / Publisher, Washington D.C., 1981) p 238

[1] Alexis De Tocqueville, edited and abridged by Richard D. Heffner, Democracy in America (Penguin Books, New York, NY, 1984) p 151

[1] F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (The University of Chicago Press, 1944, 1994 by The University of Chicago) p 160

[1] W. Cleon Skousen, The Five Thousand Year Leap (National Center for Constitutional Studies / Publisher, Washington D.C., 1981) p 181

[1] F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (The University of Chicago Press, 1944, 1994 by The University of Chicago) p 258

[1] Hilaire Belloc, quoted in F.A. Hayek, Road to Serfdom (The University of Chicago Press, 1944, 1994 by The University of Chicago) p 97

[1] Berg, Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 10:342, quoted in W. Cleon Skousen, The Real Thomas Jefferson (National Center for Constitutional Studies / Publisher, Washington D.C., 1983) p 363

Horizontal & Vertical Separation of Powers

Horizontal Separation of Powers

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James Madison recognized that a horizontal separation of powers was absolutely essential to a free society. “The holding of all powers—legislative, executive, and judiciary – in the same hands, whether by one person, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed or elective, is the very definition of tyranny.”[i]

Today the separation of the Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary powers is recognized and accepted as political common sense.

The founders placed one other horizontal separation that is not as well recognized for its genius. The founders knew that being governed by elected representatives was no guarantee that the government would not become oppressive; however, they considered the Legislative as the most powerful branch of the three and were familiar with legislative tyranny from their own personal experience and their study of political history. Madison[ii] expressed this view in these words “Dependency on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government. But experience has taught mankind that auxiliary precautions are necessary.”

One of these “auxiliary precautions” was to split the legislative into two parts. Divide it against itself as an important check on its power as the most powerful of the three branches of government and as a check on the legislative ability to encroach on the executive and/or judicial branch.

In Madison’s own words: “In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates. The remedy for this is to divide the legislature into different houses and make them by different modes of election and different principles of action, as little connected with each other as the nature of their common functions and their common dependence on the society will allow. It may even be necessary to guard against encroachments with even further precautions.”[iii]

Vertical Separation of Powers

A vertical separation of powers is also essential to maintaining government in the balanced center between tyranny and anarchy.

Madison referred to America as a “compound republic” and described how vertical separation of powers would work with horizontal separation of powers to safeguard the liberty of the people. ”…the powers surrendered by the people are first divided between to distinct governments, state and federal. Then the portion allotted to each is subdivided among distinct and separate branches. Hence the rights of the people are doubly protected. The different governments [state & federal], will control each other, at the same time each will be controlled by itself.”[iv]

Vertical separation of powers between the federal and state governments is written into the Constitution. Article 1 section 9 lists prohibitions on congress to prevent encroachment on the states. Article 1 section 10 lists prohibitions on the states to prevent them from encroaching on the federal government.

The Principle of vertical separation of powers is in the Bill of Rights. Concern that the federal government might violate this principle and chip away at the rights that inherently belonged to the states or the people prompted the ratification or the ninth and tenth amendments. Amendment 9 states that the people’s rights are not limited to those specifically mentioned in the constitution. It makes clear that the people retain all their rights even though they may not be specifically mentioned in the Bill of Rights. “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Amendment 10 places a barrier between the powers delegated to the federal government by the people and the powers reserved for state or local jurisdictions. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

During the debates over ratification of the Constitution those opposed to ratification sought to paint the proposed federal government as an enemy of the state governments that would try to usurp their authority. Madison addressed their objection in these words. ”The federal and state governments are simply agents and trustees of the people with different powers designed for different purposes…the State governments have little to fear because federal powers are only applicable within a certain sphere where federal power can be advantageously administered.”[v]

Madison makes clear in this next quote that the federal government’s powers are limited to those specifically enumerated in the Constitution. “The Constitution delegates a few defined powers to the federal government. The remaining state powers are numerous and indefinite.

Federal powers will be principally exercised on external objects, like war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce. Taxation will be the primary federal power over foreign commerce.

The State powers extend to everything that, in the ordinary course of affairs, concerns the lives, liberties, property of the people, internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the state.”[vi]

Does the phrase “general welfare “found in Article 1 section 8 of the Constitution “…amount to an unlimited license to exercise any and every power that may be alleged to be necessary for the general welfare?”[vii]

That is what some of the critics of the Constitution charged during the ratification debates. It is also what liberals claim today as they try to sell voters on “Federal program’s” that require an unconstitutional expansion of power for their implementation.

Madison scolded the critics making this charge for “stooping to such a misconstruction.”[viii] He went on to say,”Why would specific powers be enumerated…? Nothing is more natural than to first use a general phrase and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars.”[ix] Again it is clear that the founder’s intent was that the federal government’s jurisdiction be limited to enumerated powers only.

It is important to remember that when government moves left of the balanced center on the line between tyranny and anarchy every increase in the size of government results in a decrease in the amount of your freedom. How do you tell if government is getting bigger? Your taxes keep going up.

The vertical separation of powers is not just between the State and federal government. This principle is meant to operate through all the levels of government all the way down to the most local level. Thomas Jefferson explained, “The way to have good and safe government is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to [perform best]. Let the national government be entrusted with the defense of the nation, and it’s foreign and federal relations; the state governments with the civil rights, laws, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward [township] direct the interest within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics, from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man’s farm by himself; by placing under everyone what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best. What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body….”[x]



[i] Edited by Mary E. Webster, The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language Indexed for Today’s Political Issues (Merril Press / Bellevue, Washington, 1999) (Federalist #47) p 197

[ii] Edited by Mary E. Webster, The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language Indexed for Today’s Political Issues (Merril Press / Bellevue, Washington, 1999) (Federalist #51) p 211,212

[iii] Edited by Mary E. Webster, The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language Indexed for Today’s Political Issues (Merril Press / Bellevue, Washington, 1999) (Federalist #51) p 212

[iv] Edited by Mary E. Webster, The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language Indexed for Today’s Political Issues (Merril Press / Bellevue, Washington, 1999) (Federalist #51) p 212

[v] Edited by Mary E. Webster, The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language Indexed for Today’s Political Issues (Merril Press / Bellevue, Washington, 1999) (Federalist #46) p 192,193

[vi] Edited by Mary E. Webster, The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language Indexed for Today’s Political Issues (Merril Press / Bellevue, Washington, 1999) (Federalist #45) p 190,191

[vii] Edited by Mary E. Webster, The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language Indexed for Today’s Political Issues (Merril Press / Bellevue, Washington, 1999) (Federalist #41) p 169

[viii] Ibid

[ix] Ibid

[x] Bergh, Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 14:421, quoted in W. Cleon Skousen, The Five Thousand Year Leap (National Center for Constitutional Studies / Publisher, Washington D.C., 1981) p 238

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Principle of Separation of Powers - Introduction

By Larry Lyon

The following is the first in a series of articles that will be posted each Monday

From earliest history men have organized themselves into societies for mutual protection and benefit. They have given authority to elected or appointed officials. The tragic common denominator of every government that has ever existed over a period of time whether decades or hundreds of years those entrusted by society as their elected leaders have turned against them. They have taken the power granted to them by the people and perverted that power from an instrument of protection to an instrument of oppression. Citizen’s lives have been put at risk. Their property has been taken at the whim of government officials, and their liberty has been turned into a joke. For thousands of years men of vision and courage have sought for the keys that would open the door of freedom and end the vicious cycle of tyranny. How could the practice by government of abusing power to oppress the people be mitigated? How could a government be set up that would be strong enough to protect the people’s lives, liberty, and property, yet still be kept small enough so as not to oppress them.

Madison explained the problem this way. “If men were angels no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government that is to be administered by men over men the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed and in the next place force it to control itself”[i]

A major problem that had to be addressed is the problem of “power”. An effective government had to be powerful enough or society would disintegrate into anarchy. Power has two terrible tendencies:

1) It seeks to concentrate itself.

2) Over time it almost always corrupts those entrusted with it.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the rest of the inspired men who founded this country discovered the answer to the problem of power. Their answer to the two terrible tendencies of power was to keep power separated, to provide checks and balances to inhibit power from concentrating and to limit the exercise of power to specifically enumerated areas. The focus of this paper will be on the first of these three principles—separation of powers.

Power was separated both horizontally and vertically. It was separated horizontally into branched government: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. It was separated vertically into separate jurisdictions: Federal, State, County, and City.



[i] Edited by Mary E. Webster, The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language Indexed for Today’s Political Issues (Merril Press / Bellevue, Washington, 1999) (Federalist #51) p 211

Please watch for next segment on July 17, 2006: Horizontal Separation of Powers

Friday, May 26, 2006

NOTICE OF SPECIAL MEETING

NOTICE is hereby given that on Tuesday, the 30th day of May, 2006, at 8:30 p.m., at the City Council Chambers, Idaho Falls Power Building, 140 South Capital Avenue, Idaho Falls, Idaho, the City Council of the City of Idaho Falls will meet in a special meeting.

The purpose of such meeting is to discuss MCDERMOTT FIELD STADIUM RENOVATION.
The public is invited to attend.

DATED this 24th day of May, 2006

Monday, May 01, 2006

“Politics of personal destruction” discourage public service

When Paul Menser called me on Friday June 17, 2005 the first thing he asked me was what I would do if I found out the mayor was not paying her bills. I asked if he meant city bills or personal bills. Paul said he meant personal bills.

I said that I wouldn’t do anything. I wouldn’t consider it to be any of my business. There is an important difference between City business and personal business.

I believe most people tend to go through ups and downs in their lives financially. They have seasons of success and seasons of struggle. They may be caught in corporate downsizing or have their business hurt by high gas prices or interest rates.

Many of our most competent political leaders have gone through periods of financial embarrassment, including Thomas Jefferson. I am no different than many others who have struggled at times with paying bills.

I understand what it is like to go through hard times. That is one reason I fight so hard for taxpayers.

Paul went on to tell me about the “dirt” the Post register had uncovered on me.

I talked with Paul about my own efforts to stay focused on issues affecting taxpayers and avoid attacks on people’s personal lives.

Whatever problems the Mayor may have in her personal life, financial or otherwise, are none of my business and I am not going to make an issue of them.

I asked Paul point blank if he was going to beat me up in the paper over this stuff. His answer as I recall was, “We were thinking about it, but I don’t think so.”

As our conversation ended I indicated to Paul that I am always happy to discuss and debate the issues related to any public policy position I take or vote I make on the city council.

All I was asking for was the same courtesy I am willing to extend to others in public service.

It was a courtesy I would not get.

I try to keep this kind of thing in perspective. If what the Post Register wrote about me on June 22 of this year is the worst thing that ever happens to me, I will have a pretty good life.


One problem with articles like this is that they distract from the real issues.

Why am I front page news when so many issues that affect taxpayers are left unreported by the Post Register?

Let me give you two examples.

  1. The police chief has asked for budget increases of almost $400,000 this year plus another $167,000 for new employees. How can this be justified when crime in the city is decreasing?
  2. At the April 14 city council meeting a number of citizens spoke out about what they felt were serious problems at our public library. Over forty separate questions, concerns and allegations were raised. The Mayor promised that the City Council would have a work session to discuss these issues. Over two months have past and there has been no meeting and no adequate response from the library board. Why not?

Isn’t it ironic that the Post Register prefers playing the “politics of personal destruction” to being the watchdog of government and using its influence to advocate for better value for the taxpayer?

The other thing that really troubles me about this type of S.A.D (Smear, Attack, and Defame) journalism is the chilling effect it can have on good, though imperfect people who may be contemplating public service.

Who are these good people who may be caught in the Post Registers political “chill out?” Have you had a divorce, business failure, bankruptcy, legal problem over ten years ago, or been fired from a job. Do you have years of sobriety, but a police record before you got into recovery? If so you could be the subject of the next S.A.D article in the Post Register.

I think that Mary Haley made a good point in her Talk Back article on June 14 of this year. Allow me to paraphrase. “And who is willing to run for office when they know any of their past mistakes may end up on the front page of the Post Register. Heaven forbid a Constitutional Conservative should run. By creating a climate of intimidation they decrease the choices the voters have and thus decrease democracy itself.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Standing Up for My Husband

By Carrie Lyn Lyon

My name is Carrie Lyn Lyon. I’ve been married to Larry Lyon for the past 2 ½ years, and he happens to be on the Idaho Falls City Council. I was married to Larry Lyon in June 2003, and a few months later we were busy campaigning as he ran for a seat on the Idaho Falls City Council. After being elected to the Council in November 2003, Larry started his four-year term in January 2004, and he is now in his third year. Because I am Larry’s wife, I believe I have a unique insight/perspective that no one else has with respect to Larry’s being on the City Council.

I want to make it clear that writing this letter is something I want to do. I have wanted to speak out before to say what I think about Larry’s work on the council, especially when people, including the media, have made derogatory remarks or insinuated things about Larry that are simply not true and/or are misleading. It seems like some people and the media are quick to find fault in people. I believe it is better to find the good in others.

Larry has courage. I appreciate his willingness to stand up for what he believes is right in the face of not always being popular. He has been willing to stand up for what is right in the face of being criticized, demeaned, and even ignored. Larry has gone the extra mile for some people who have needed his help. Larry has been a strong believer in having integrity in how he votes on the council. He has voted honestly, basing his votes on what he believes is right.

Larry has put a lot of heart, time and energy into his council work. No one understands this better than I do. I have seen him spend several hours doing work on the computer, making phone calls, reading books and materials and doing research. He has taken initiative and gone out in the city to personally meet business owners and individual tax-paying citizens. I have been with him on occasions when he has visited with local businessmen about different issues. I’ve been with him when he has gone to the library to do research. He attended extra committee meetings in the beginning of his term to give himself a better foundation.

Larry is a very dedicated councilman who has never lost sight of who he works for—the citizens and taxpayers of the city who elected him into office. I’ve seen several “Thank You” notes and letters that have come to us from different people. Ideally, Larry wants to be a voice for the voiceless, and I admire that quality in him.

Larry is also very patriotic. He loves his country, America. His late father retired from the United States Navy. He looks up to his Dad for his service in the Navy. We both share a great love for our country and for those who serve or who have served in the armed forces. We appreciate all they do for us and for the cause of freedom.

So now as I write my letter, I’m letting my voice be heard. I’m standing up publicly for my husband, Larry. Even though he and I have been through some tough times personally, I still want to share the truth about Larry and his work in office. I believe Larry is probably one of the most dedicated councilmen that the city of Idaho Falls has ever had. I love Larry more than words alone can say. I am very proud of all his hard work on the council and his example to me of commitment to the service he is doing. He is doing it for all of you. He is doing it for me.

May God bless us all to lift each other up, especially through the hard times, and may we be more kind. May we look for the good in each other. Thank you for listening to me.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Runoff elections

Larry Lyon

8/2/04

This is a piece I wrote in favor of Runoff elections back in August of 2004. In 2005 the Idaho Falls city council voted unanimously for runoff elections for the Mayor. In November 2005 a provision for runoff elections for the city council was on the ballot. It passed by 68 %.

Runoff elections

In our representative form of government it is critical to elect representatives who represent the will of the majority of the people. The only way to ensure the will of the majority is represented is to have an electoral process that requires a candidate get at least 50% + 1 vote to win the election.

Here is Idaho Falls the possibility of the mayor and city council being elected by a minority of voters has become a serious concern for many people, including myself.

This is how an Idaho Falls city election breaks down in general terms. Only about 30% of registered voters will end up voting in a city election. This equates to around 7000 people. The incumbent starts out with approximately a 2000 vote head start over any challengers. This is simply the “incumbent’s advantage”. This leaves 5000 votes to be split between all the candidates. If the incumbent can pull another 1000 votes out of the 5000 remaining he or she will have 3000 of the 7000 votes expected to be cast; or 43% of the total. With an incumbent getting 3000 of the 7000 votes likely to be caste, a challenger must get at least 75% +1 of the remaining 4000 votes to win. In an election with two or more candidates challenging the incumbent; it does not take a genius to realize that getting 75% of the remaining votes will be nearly impossible. The more candidates challenging the incumbent, the less likely it will be for one of them to get enough votes to overcome the incumbents lead.

The poorer the incumbent’s performance has been since they were elected the more likely it is that they will face multiple opponents, and the more likely that the vote will be split and a mayor or councilman that a majority of voters want out of office will be put right back in office because the majority vote is divided between a number of challengers.

Requiring a candidate for public office to get a majority of the vote’s caste to be elected is a common sense concept that a child can understand. So why would the mayor and last years city council not even allow a runoff election to be put on the ballot for the people to decide the issue? I believe it is because without a provision for a runoff election it is simply easier for those in city government who have power to hold on to that power; even if a majority of the people wants them out of office.

Even though no runoff provision would make it easier for me to be re-elected (if I were to run again) with less than 50% of the vote I am happy to tie my tenure in office to the will of the majority and through the runoff process be required to get more that 50% of the vote.


I believe that requiring a simple majority of the votes to be elected is based on sound republican (not the political party) principles. It is the right thing to do.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Lyon and the GOP. Who cares

Below is the response I wrote to an opinion piece by Marty Trillhaase that appeared in the Post Register January 26, 2006.

My response appeared in the Post Register last week

Lyon and the GOP. Who cares!

I was surprised by Marty’s opinion piece scolding me for being appointed to the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee. Marty starts out with this statement. “By law and custom, we keep partisan politics out of city hall.”

What! You’ve got to be kidding! Just because city politicians don’t have a major political party designation by their name does not mean that politics here in Idaho Falls are non-partisan. Politics is partisan by its very nature. Thomas Jefferson explained:

“Men have differed in opinion, and been divided into parties by these opinions, from the first origin of societies, and in all governments where they have been permitted freely to think and to speak.”

The only place’s politics are truly non-partisan is where one party has a lock on political power and differing opinions are not allowed to be expressed. For example the Baath party in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or the Communist party in North Korea.

Years later Jefferson went on to explain that:

“Men by their constitutions are divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, [and] consider them the most honest and safe…depository of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist…”

In Idaho Falls these two parties exist. They are just called by other names, or sometimes they have no name at all; but there is a very real and deep philosophical divide in this city between those who think government should be more like a parent and those who believe government should be more like a servant.

Marty states that “…progressives got partisan politics thrown out of City Hall.”

Apparently they didn’t do a very good job because Marty also says that:

“…it’s not unique for non partisan elected officials to don a partisan hat. Several Idaho mayors have simultaneously been elected as Republican and Democratic members of the legislature. In 1990-92, then-Boise City Councilman Mike Wetherell served as Idaho Democratic Chairman. The occupant of that position today, former Congressman Richard Stallings, also sits on the Pocatello City Council.”

Let me get this straight. We have had people serving as Mayor and in the state legislature at the same time. People have served as State Chairman for the Democratic Party and been on City Councils at the same time. The current Mayor of Idaho Falls campaigned for and won a seat on the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee. Then ran for Mayor on a blatantly Republican platform that would have made Ronald Reagan proud, promising to cut taxes and audit city divisions for waste.

As far as I know Marty has not written a negative word about any of this. Then when I get appointed to the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee suddenly it is a problem that needs to be addressed.

I called Marty to ask for space in the paper to respond to his article. He reassured me that his article was fair because he had mentioned Pocatello City Councilman Richard Stallings being the State Chairman of the Democratic Party. I asked Marty, “If I had not been appointed to the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee when were you going to write about Richard Stalling?” He replied, “Probably never.”

To make the whole point of his article; that elected city officials should not be actively involved in any political party because it is a conflict of interest, Marty is forced to apply a double standard that is basically unfair.

Let me say that I do not vote the way I do because I am a Republican. I am a Republican because I believe that the Republican Party platform is more closely aligned with the principles that I believe in.

My first loyalty is to the Constitution and any political party has to take a back seat to that.

For Marty to suggest that I should not advocate for political principles that I consider wise and just simply because they happen to be embodied in a political party platform is to ask me to voluntarily give up a fundamental freedom that so many American soldiers have given their “last full measure of devotion” to preserve.

The political freedom we all enjoy was bought with the blood of patriots, past and present. The only way Marty will ever get me to give up that freedom is to pry it out of my cold, dead hands.