Thursday, June 18, 2009

Courting Redemption

Today's the day for the court review of Judge Griesa's decision to halt implementation of the amended-bigger and better?-deposit law. In our view, the court could limit the scope of the original ruling, but we're not sure what the rationale would be for doing that-the fact that the state needs the money?

But the Schenectady Daily Gazette feels differently: "It wasn’t quite what state Sen. Hiram Monserrate is alleged to have done to his girlfriend with a broken bottle, but U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa’s decision last month stopping implementation of the newly adopted Bigger, Better Bottle Bill until next year was a serious blow to the state’s environment and treasury. We are glad to see that a judge other than Griesa (who is on vacation) has agreed to rehear the case Thursday. There’s a good argument to be made that Griesa went too far in his decision, causing real hardship for the state."

Closed fire houses? Homeless on the streets? But the paper feels that the court wasn't fair: "After the beverage companies raised a fuss, the governor and legislative leaders made clear that they were willing to delay implementation, and perhaps even eliminate the state-specific bar code provision. But Griesa’s decision took it out of their hands, delaying implementation until next April. And that’s not all — he went beyond implementation and labeling to issues the beverage companies weren’t even contesting, like the handling fee for grocery stores and recycling centers and the state’s taking 80 percent of unclaimed water bottle deposits."

The governor and legislative leaders, "made it clear," that they were willing to amend the bill? Oh, please! Nothing was made clear-and Senator Kruger drafted a bill that would have done just what the Daily Gazette has asked; yet no movement on the legislation was seen. How clear is that?

The facts contradict, however inconveniently. Nestle's filed its lawsuit, and Griesa ruled precisely because there was no evidence that the state would take any action before the June 1st deadline. And now we reap the whirlwind-and the Daily Gazette avoids the due process issues that were also raised in the suit; an indication, perhaps, that the bill's defects were crippling.

So we don't believe that the judicial review of the bottle deposit law will be successful. Knowing what we do about the uncertainty of the court system, however, we suppose that any thing's possible.