Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Barnes News

The hearing in the Barnes case yesterday seems like it was a non-event:  the Judge set a briefing schedule; the Barnes and the Attorney General have until mid-April, then the Friends have until the beginning of May to respond.  Stephan Salisbury has a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He also reports that yet another petition opposing the move was filed this week, this one by Richard Ralph Feudale, a lawyer and the author of Barnes Rune 2012 (Decoding the Mysteries of Pennsylvania's Barnes Foundation, A Special American Place).

Salisbury also has this quote from someone from the attorney general's office:

"He argued that his office, charged with protecting the public interest in regard to nonprofit charitable organizations, was not a neutral observer.  'We determine the public interest,' he said. 'We're an advocate. In this case, we advocated along with the Barnes Foundation [for the move], because we thought it was the best way . . . to maintain the Barnes.'"

I think that's exactly right.  I've never understood this notion that it was somehow wrong for the AG to push for the move.  Once he decided that, all things considered, that was the best outcome, what was he supposed to do?  When Lee Rosenbaum calls, for example, for "Super Cooper" to block the Fisk deal, isn't she calling on him to take a side in the dispute?  Does his having done so open the court's decision up to challenge on the ground that the attorney general favored one side in the dispute over the other?  The Friends petition accuses the AG of "forfeit[ing] his neutrality" (e.g., paragraph 22), but, if he has, then hasn't Super Cooper done so as well?  It's just a fundamental misunderstanding of the attorney general's role.