To the Editor:
Recently there has been considerable angst and uproar within the aviation community regarding proposed legislation authored by Massachusetts state Sen. Julian Cyr. He recently proposed levying a $1,000 fee on any private aircraft landing at a public airport in Massachusetts; purportedly to generate funds to mitigate the impact of climate change.
The senator’s cause may be viewed as noble and well-intentioned, however frightfully flawed in its failure to foresee even the most basic collateral damage. It is akin to a frivolous and vexatious lawsuit. It’s been said: A case is frivolous if it has no reasonable chance of succeeding, and vexatious if it would bring hardship on the opposite party to defend something which cannot succeed.
We have laws that enable subjects of frivolous lawsuits to sue the offending party for “malicious prosecution,” and a court may award attorney fees for the underlying litigation, and even punitive damages. For example, in the U.S. Tax Court, frivolous arguments may result in a penalty of up to $25,000 under 26 U.S.C. § 6673(a)(1).
The astonishment and backlash from the aviation community was immediate. Various well-known Federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations opposing Sen. Cyr’s proposal have been cited. Clearly the senator’s casual notion lacked thorough analysis.
In essence, Sen. Cyr is guilty of having filed frivolous and vexatious legislation, for which, unlike a comparable lawsuit, there is no enforceable penalty.
The consternation and visceral reactions generated by the senator’s lack of forethought have wasted, by virtue of their diversion of intellectual resources, countless hours of otherwise productive time (including mine). Why have we no legal or administrative mechanism to hold him to account, or any other legislator for that matter?
The public expects steadfast fiduciary responsibility from those who wield governmental, and particularly legislative, power. We must insist on it, or unfailingly express our displeasure at the ballot box.