21st century breakdown

By AL DIAMON  |  January 6, 2010

Around the same time, Dunlap was outspoken about efforts to tighten up Maine's requirements for handing out driver's licenses (repeat after me: I promise I am not an illegal alien), amid reports that criminals were bringing vanloads of undocumented foreign nationals into the state to sign up, even though many of them didn't have Social Security numbers (apparently, no one told them about the Dumpster behind the State Archives). Dunlap was opposed to stricter regulations, saying they'd put too much responsibility on his overburdened office.

In 2009, Dunlap discovered the reason he'd been having trouble paying the expenses incurred in elections over the previous two years was that he'd neglected in 2007 to file a routine form that would have directed $125,000 from a bond issue to balloting costs. The Legislature, already dealing with massive budget shortfalls, had to bail him out.

And as last year came to a close, Dunlap celebrated by not meeting the constitutionally mandated 30-day deadline for reviewing signatures on petitions seeking a people's veto of a new tax-reform law. He blamed the delay on staff cuts, told the Portland Press Herald he was exercising "common sense" in dealing with more pressing matters first, and anyway, he told Maine Public Radio, he was in "material compliance" with the law.

In December, a Superior Court justice interpreted that statute somewhat differently, finding that by missing the deadline, Dunlap had forfeited his authority to certify the signatures. The secretary's reaction to his latest bit of boobery: "Well," he told public radio, "I think [the petition-drive organizers] have a pretty valid point."

So does Dunlap. On his head.

If you e-mail me at aldiamon@herniahill.net, I promise to respond within 30 days.

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