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Another run at Hill

Jan 6, 2014 - By Steven R. Peck

The superintendent's attackers are running out of time to make a legitimate case against her

This week the state investigation of Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill finally starts moving again with a hearing by the special legislative committee formed to examine her alleged wrongdoings that led the Wyoming Legislature to pass a hurriedly constructed bill almost a year ago that removed her as head of the Wyoming Department of Education and sparked what would become the biggest Wyoming news story of 2013.

Monday's hearing is the first action of any significance in the case for months, after the once fast-moving inquisition of Hill ground to a near-halt for the last third of the year.

This case has been backward from the beginning. Ie there were a time for a long, expensive, confusing investigation of the state superintendent, it would have been before the Legislature reshaped the basic form of government in Wyoming by removing Hill from power -- and treading on the will of the voters in the process.

Instead they shot first and only now are asking questions much later.

One possibility is the that the lawmakers who have lined up the cannons against Hill hoped she would resign. Instead, she appears to have turned the tables on her accusers, at least to a point. Unable to offer a true defense because no specific allegations of substance have ever been made, she has shown resilience under fire and effectiveness in calling the procedures, motivation and cost of the probe into question.

Since leaving Cheyenne after last year's legislative session and facing their constituents outside the insular bubble of Cheyenne, lawmakers statewide have heard a chorus of questions and complaints about the treatment of Hill.

They are finding out how this act is playing away from the Capitol, and the answer has been "not good." Lawmakers who had expected and hoped for a quick impeachment of Hill have been disappointed. They might well be looking for a way out at this point.

Elsewhere on this page is Superintendent Hill's letter to lawmakers on the eve of the coming hearing. She raises a series of questions regarding the process of the investigation, the substance of it, the cost and the fairness. It's worth reading. It also would be worth hearing what the legislators who have driven this curious, obsessive action against Hill would say in response.

What has been said many times before is worth saying again as Hill's inquisitors crank up for another go at her on Monday. In essence it is this: Where's the beef? Almost all the objections -- and there are many -- that have been raised in response to the Hill inquiry could be answered if the accusers would simply come up with something of sufficient substance to justify this long, costly, often incomprehensible campaign against her.

It has been a year since the lid first was pried off this can of worms. Now, with the new legislative session about to begin, with the 2014 election set to gear up right after that (Hill plans to run for governor, remember), and with voters who have never been given a plausible reason for the Hill fracas and whose curiosity rapidly is being replaced by boredom -- with all that as the stage setting, surely it is time, once and for all, for those who would oust Cindy Hill from office to do the thing she and everyone else have always wanted -- put up or shut up.

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