State ducks responsibility, hides behind immunity
Peter Blake / Colorado News Agency
Governmental immunity was created because the state can’t be expected to do anything right and thus shouldn’t be held liable when the inevitable disasters occur.
No, just kidding! It was originally an outgrowth of the philosophy that the king can do no wrong. Kings have been replaced by mere mortals in positions of power, but the doctrine survives because government needs an excuse not to be overly generous with other people’s money when there are so many programs it wants to fund. Legal settlements play havoc with a budget.
It is certainly tempting to be generous when one is listening to compelling testimony from the victims of the Lower North Fork Fire in late March. Three people dead, two dozen homes destroyed and 4,000 acres burned all because of what appears to have been gross negligence by the Colorado state forest service after setting a “controlled” burn.
“Insurance can’t replace dreams, memories, lives,” Kristen Moeller told the House
Judiciary Committee last week after showing members pictures on her tablet computer of what she lost. “The state can get away with killing people and not being penalized.”
Scott Appel reminded the Senate State Affairs Committee Monday that the state foresters had broken their own rules by not monitoring the fire on Sunday, March 25; running out of water Monday when it blew up and being late to issue evacuation orders. He showed members a picture of his wifeAnn, who died in the fire. “Best looking boss I ever had,” he said before choking up. “If citizens took the same action, there would be an immediate and exhaustive investigation into the fire,” he said. “The responsible parties would be dealt with to the full extent of the law.” …read full column
Veteran Colorado political columnist Peter Blake writes weekly on state issues for the Colorado News Agency.
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