Monday, February 28, 2005

Failed Image. Failed Message.

Mayor Anderson in the Tribune : "My message is simple: We can clean up our air, improve the public health, save open spaces, increase the amount of time commuters spend in social and leisure activities, and save significant amounts of money per month for households along the Wasatch Front by providing more mass-transit options and decreasing dependence on the automobile." That is simple. And reasonable. And I agree with it. But where was this "simple message" Mayor Anderson when his State of the City Speech became a moronic bumper sticker war with Davis County, his work on legislation affecting the city became petty feuding with the legislature, and replacing unfriendly council members became a bizarre new religious divide? Mayor Anderson's image and message are out of control and it's his own office's fault.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Terrorists and Communists

Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper , was accused of aiding terrorists. This was reported in Friday's Tribune This is not the first time the "terrorist" label has been tossed about this session. I posted a while ago about Rep. David N. Cox, R-Lehi , who also identified terrorists among us. His terrorists were conducting financial terrorism against the United States by opposing the (poorly named) Legacy Highway. I guess terrorists are the new communists.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Senator Chicken Little

 "I don't think he has a respect for democracy" That is what Sen. Fred Fife, D-Salt Lake City, said about Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Provo, in today's Tribune after being outmaneuvered in the Senate. Senator Fife deserves some slack considering this is his first session, but still: Senator Fife, being politically outmaneuvered by your opponents does not prove they have no respect for democracy. I'm sure you'll have your moments in the sun when you are able to parliamentarily shut down your own political enemies. And when you do, will it really mean you don't have respect for democracy? Or will it actually mean you politically outmaneuvered them.

Dying to Get Paid

In today's Deseret News, Utah Hospitality Association spokesman Steve Barth said this in defense of smoking in clubs and bars: "You have to sign up, you have to pay membership fees. You have to choose to be there." The problem here, though isn't the rights of the patrons as Barth and others insist, it's the rights of the workers. No worker should ever be forced to choose between their health and a paycheck. We now know the harmful effects of coal dust, asbestos, and many other problems that plagued American workers. We have acted on all of them on behalf of workers. Now we understand the effects of cigarette smoking, and once again we must act on behalf of the health and safety of workers.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Give Them Dignity

The peyote debate may get sticky. Here's something to consider: Non- Native Americans who want to make a true life commitment to new religious ideals should be allowed to do so. Non- Native Americans who are looking to these important and historic ceremonies to "score" some peyote should be completely ashamed of themselves. You know who you are, because a number of years ago you stopped me downtown to sign some petition to protect your right to participate in peyote ceremonies under the thin disguise of "interest in other religions". I am saddened by the fact that after so many years of suffering, Native American traditional ceremonies are being disrespected by people who are drawn by the crass potential of a hallucinogenic drug. Shame. You know who you are.

A Red Herring and a Supermajority

No one paid any attention to Senator Davis' attempt to make SB227 a race issue as I posted Sunday. None of his fellow Democrats followed him into the racial breach. Senator Waddoups was correct when he told me : "I think Davis crossed the line, but I don't think anyone else will cross with him. The race issue is a red herring." SB227 passed the Senate with a supermajority.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

A Full House of Race Cards

Tonight on Fox News, Assistant Minority Whip Senator Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake, had this to say about SB227: "Statements on the phone to me lead me to believe that the people who really want it [SB227] are the ones who have a very strong racist feeling." SB227 will replace driving licenses with "driver privilege cards" for Utah residents who do not have a social security number. SB227 passed a preliminary senate vote along party lines. All Republicans for, all Democrats against. Governor Huntsman also supports SB227.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

KCPW and Blogging

I thought the KCPW conversation on blogging went well. I had never been on the radio before so it was fun sitting in the station. Beyond that, many interesting points were made. We really needed more time. As I was leaving, Jonathan Brown (KCPW producer) expressed his interest in keeping up with local bloggers. Hopefully, in the future there will be more opportunities to discuss blogging and examine what role it plays (and will play) in the local political scene.

You Can't Have It Both Ways

Today's Tribune editorial makes some great points about the ethics reform the legislature is so wary of. Basically, the Tribune says the legislature contradicts itself. By passing term limits for the governor, they say voters are not smart enough to know when a governor has stayed too long in office. Then, by refusing ethics reform for themselves, they insist voters are smart enough to know when a legislator has become damagingly close to lobbyists and then vote him out of office. Problem: Legislators expect voters to judge their relationships with lobbyists, but without full disclosure of gifts, the voters have no information with which to pass judgement. "I would hope the people who elected me trust me. If I abuse that trust, I would hope that they would throw me out on my ear." Sen. Bill Hickman, R-St. George "I see nothing wrong with [accepting lobbyist gifts] and would encourage others to participate." Rep. Brent Goodfellow, D-West Valley City Both of the above quotes appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Cultural Competition

Last night I caught the final round of a Family Feud. A nice hispanic family was competing. Here are two of the questions given to the family representative, and her answers. Question: Name a sport that requires a lot of running. Her answer: Football Number 1 answer: Soccer Question: Name a woman's name that begins with the letter 'M'. Her answer: Maria Number 1 anser: Mary I could tell the host was uncomfortable.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

HB17 Film Incentive Fund

The Motion Picture Incentive Fund gives money to filmmakers in exchange for bringing their production to Utah. Here are some facts: The motion picture industry has spent over 1.2 BILLION dollars in Utah the last 12 years. Using the film incentive fund, Utah’s production increased from $5.3 million in summer of 2003 to $9.2 million in summer 2004. A modest investment produced a 74% increase in production. The incentive fund generates huge amounts of cash and high paying jobs. If we don't offer the money, the industry will go elsewhere and we'll lose out big time. Fully funding HB17 is a good economic move for the state. The information above was provided by the Utah Film Commission.

KCPW Update

According to KCPW, the best way to participate in tommorrow's discussion on blogging is to email comments and questions to midday@kcpw.org. Remember, 10:30am KCPW. The other guest is John Tehranian, a law expert. Should be fun.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Circling the Wagons at the Hotsheet

Okay, I'm against the (unfortunately named) Legacy Highway. That much should be clear by now. It's time, however to stick up for our beleaguered blogging brethren at the Legacy Parkway Hotsheet. Their recent publicity has brought some dissenting opinions, and I know the Hotsheet guys are fine with that. Unfortunately, it has also brought out some major jackasses. Here's the story: The two most demeaning and vocal repeat visitors to the site are "Justin" and "Michael". They have just been outed on the site as living in Portland and Washington D.C.. They accidentally reinforced one of the Hotsheet's claims that much of the major opposition to the highway comes from out of staters. And that those out of staters are jerks. The internet is open to all, and the Hotsheet is open to all, but just because we don't talk face to face doesn't mean we should leave behind polite society.

Remind Me Why You're Doing This

Regarding the Granite School District Police. In today's Tribune, Rep. Sheryl Allen, R-Bountiful had this to say: "Should education dollars be going to law enforcement? I've come to the conclusion that the public is probably better served if they contract with local law enforcement." Problem: Rep. Allen's idea of contracting with local law enforcement means education dollars will still go to law enforcement. So, is she carrying this bill truly over objections to resource allocation? Or is this more of a way to solve conflicts with the department itself? Maybe we should ask the boy's- er, I mean- bill's father, Rep. Kory Holdaway, R- Taylorsville.

KCPW

KCPW is hosting a discussion on blogging Friday during their "Midday Edition". It will be 10:30- 10:45am. I'll be there as a guest, but it's a call in show so I hope to hear from the other local bloggers. In fact, I'm begging you to call in (or email), because how can one blogger accurately represent the blog community. www.kcpw.org

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Film Funding

Now that the legislature has some extra cash, I offer the following for their consideration. Last year, a $500,000 grant was offered to a new Anthony Hopkins film called "World's Fastest Indian". The film company had originally planned a 7 day shoot in Utah. They stayed and shot 37. The film's producer, Garry Hannam, said this about our incentive grants, "The outcome is a magnificent promotion of your state. Your film incentive programme offers a win/win outcome for producers/investors and the state." The legislature must fully fund HB17. That means all $3 million. Remember, Maryland is spending $6 million. If we're not careful, we'll lose some lucrative business opportunities.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Lobby Talk

Quotes from today's Tribune. All of these are from a story on lobbyist gifts. "I'm just a poor coal miner who gets tired of eating at McDonald's." Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich, D-Price "I see nothing wrong with [accepting lobbyist gifts] and would encourage others to participate." Rep. Brent Goodfellow, D-West Valley City "We are guided by our conscience and no amount of money is going to buy anyone's vote." Senate Majority Leader Peter Knudson, R-Brigham City Aside from being horrified by these comments, I see the Republicans might not be Rep. Beckers scapegoate this time. He's the House Minority leader, it's his job to keep the House Democrats in line. A couple of years ago, the Democrats were dissatisfied with Rep. Beckers leadership and replaced him. Now he's back, but if he doesn't step up, he won't be for long.

Fully Fund Films

Maryland has put up $6 million in incentive money for film and television projects. This is bad news for Utah because: The legislature considers our incentive fund of $3 million as frivolous and is ready to raid it to fund other projects. The legislature should fully fund HB 17 for the simple reason that it is guaranteed to immediately bring in high paying jobs and plenty of deep pockets. Really, we should actually be looking at more than the $3 million considering we are competing with the rest of the planet on this.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Kevin Anderson, The Man

Kevin Anderson of utahpolitics.org put the pieces together. I commented on Kevin's post the other day. Today, the Tribune hit the story at the same exact angle Kevin did. Now, I'm not insinuating the Tribune took its cues from Kevin's blog, but I think Kevin deserve a pat on the back if not for inspiring, at least for predicting a future print story. Lavarr Webb, on today's Utah Policy, wrote "Blogs will become another channel in the communications game, and they will be taken seriously." I think he's right.

Today's "Gay Question" Tomorrow

I know Spencer Tinker, and I know he's not crazy. Still, he wrote a letter to the Deseret News this week that I know ruffled a few feathers. I think his overall point of the "rising generation" is well- taken. Every generation grows up in a world slightly different than their parents. Some differences are more cosmetic, some more fundamental. Experiences of youth help create the values and opinions of adulthood. Today's generation of youth, even conservatively raised youth, have more contact with openly gay citizens than previous generations. So this begs the question: In twenty years, what will be the conservative platform response to the "gay question"? Right or wrong, it will be very different from today's.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Transportation Two- Step

Josh Loftin in today's Deseret News deftly tackles the increasingly complicated debate over transportation funding. This debate brings up some questions. House Republicans have threatened to raise taxes next year if transportation is not "fully funded" this year. So what does "fully funded" mean? House Republicans say it means $85 million annually. But wait a second, the Senate Republicans are considering even different numbers to "fully fund" transportation. They have considered numbers as high as $95 million and numbers far lower than $85 million. Governor Hunstsman has suggested a one time sum of $33 million would be enough. While Democrats prefer to tackle the issue of transportation funds by talking about teacher salaries (a much used trick that helps keep them in the perma- minority), their number is certainly lower than the Republican's. The House Republican's use of the term "fully funded" and their threat of taxes is meaningless. It creates a false impression that a Republican wish list is an approprate or mandatory minimum budget. The House and Senate should go with Governor Huntsman's number of $33 million. It's a considerable amount of money that still leaves room to fund other priorities. If the amount ends up being too little, we can talk about it next time. Until then, I'm sure the Republic will stand.

Rocky's Rubber Stamp

Mayor Anderson said he wants Salt Lake City to stop electing Mormons to the city council. What he really means is that he wants a rubber stamp council. Every mayor wants that. No mayor should ever get it. This isn't about religion, it's about politics. Politics is about power.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Bumper to Bumper

Bumper stickers are the crudest form of political debate. In response to Mayor Anderson's State of the City Speech, Davis County passed out bumper stickers that read "I (heart) Davis County"- Very lame. In response to those stickers, Mayor Anderson has upped the antie- straight into the dumpster. His newly released "I (heart) Salt Lake City" bumper sticker is meant to be a four word slap in the face to Davis County. Mayor Anderson should remember that we all need to live together, so let's bring the debate back up to the human level.

Two Too Many

Rebecca Walsh in today's Tribune followed up on a story first broken by the Deseret News. It seems the son of Rep. Kory Holdaway, R- Taylorsville, was arrested by the Granite School District Police. The youth allegedly threatened the officers that they would regret arresting him. This legislative session, Rep. Holdaway sponsored HB153 that will abolish the school district's police force. To his credit, once the story broke, Rep. Holdaway removed his name from the bill. Not a big deal unless you consider... Today on utahpolitics.org, Kevin Anderson wrote of an unrelated but very similar story. Today's Tribune reported that the Joint Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee voted to trim the Department of Natural Resources budget at the expense of ten law enforcement officers. All this sounds like standard boring legislative stuff until you see what Kevin saw. The brother of Sen. Thomas Hatch, R-Panguitch, was arrested and charged with poaching, according to the Tribune. Senator Hatch himself was briefly a suspect in the unfortunate and contentious situation. Senator Hatch is also the co- chair of the subcommittee responsible for cutting the DNR budget. DNR Director Michael Styler had this to say in the Tribune: "We have sportsmen complain that we don't have enough law enforcement officers out looking for poachers; now there will be four less." Both men would insist their political moves are unrelated to their personal lives. In this situation, I frankly believe them. However, publicly elected officials need to remember that the voters can never read their minds and know their true intent. True intent is understood by the public only through actions. Rep. Holdaway and Sen. Hatch should never have involved themselves in those legislative actions. Senator Hatch should follow the example of Rep. Holdaway and recuse himself from the committee.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Utah is Not a Former Soviet Republic

Senate Joint Resolution 11 will give voters the opportunity to decide whether Utah Governors will be limited to two terms. It's an interesting idea but the arguments for it are getting a bit weird. Governor Huntsman's legal advisor Mike Lee "noted" in today's Tribune that in support of this resolution, we should consider political abuses in former Soviet republics as they constantly re- elect candidates. First, it should be known that corruption in the former republics is not caused by the absence of term limits. Rather, the non- prosecution of corruption, weak checks and balances, and an underdeveloped free press leads to corrupt candidates being easily re- elected. Also, those republics are barely 13 years old. That is two U.S. Senate terms. We have elected officials in the U.S. who have more time accumulated taking mid-day naps in their offices than those countries even have as independent democracies. And finally, Utah is not a former Soviet republic.

The Windmill Tilt

House Minority LeaderRalph Becker, D- Salt Lake City, deserves to be complimented for his committment to legislative ethics reform. However, his obsession with a total gift ban as represented this session by HB144 is misspent energy. There are other reform ideas that have a real chance at passing and will have a tremendous impact on the transparency of Utah politics. Full disclosure of all gifts of any value should be immediately enacted. Politicians want the public's trust but real trust can only be obtained when the public has all the information. Also, leftover campaign money should not be available for post- election personal use for the obvious reason that donations are made to the campaign, not the candidate personally. In speaking against this idea, Provo GOP Sen. Parley Hellewell complained that "We're going to make it really hard for legislators to decide what they're going to spend their money on." I think that's the point. If the Senator feels that sort of change would require guidelines on proper spending, then give him guidelines on spending. Next year, I hope Representative Becker will drop his annual windmill tilt and spend that energy on something more helpful.

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Blair Witch Reception

Best part about last night's Chamber of Commerce Legislative Reception: Various attendees recreated an important scene from the Blair Witch Project as they took turns standing in corners with their heads down and pressed against the wall- -trying to hear their cell phones.

Scooped?

Today's Tribune: "Huntsman, lawmakers rocking boat" Today's News: "Curtis may back off on bill that disturbs Huntsman" Two articles, one topic, very different content. According to the Deseret News, House Speaker Greg Curtis and Governor Huntsman may have come to an understanding on HB97, the bill that would extend the previous years budget into the present in the event of a legislative/executive budget stalemate. Now, Speaker Curtis is having regrets about the way the bill was handled and may put it off until another time. Where was the Tribune on this? The Tribune does make one important point: The Republican super- majority lets them override the Governor's vetos. If this is true, why does the legislature feel they need HB97? I guess the super- majority doesn't always coalesce into an override vote. Anyway, if Speaker Curtis is willing to postpone the bill, he should drop it all together. Although HB97 is not a total power- grab, it does represent a change in the balance of power. There is no clear, compelling reason for doing this, so it should not be done.

Terrorists Among Us!

"This is financial terrorism against America, they are using environmental issues to make a direct attack against our country's financial stability." That is a quote from Rep. David N. Cox, R-Lehi as reported in today's Tribune. Rep. Cox, any potential lawsuit (it should be remembered that the Sierra Club has not filed one) is not financial terrorism. Action taken in a court of law is the excercising of basic rights, not terrorism. And how has the fight over the (crappily named) Legacy Highway suddenly become a issue central to "our country's financial stability"? With that said, being against the (crappily named) Legacy Highway myself, I believe fighting the highway on environmental grounds was a fatal mistake. There is no group of people this state distrusts more than environmentalists. The all- star team of Rocky Anderson and the Sierra Club spells disaster for any issue being considered outside Salt Lake City. The (crappily named) Legacy Highway poses a risk to our quality of life and sets an incorrect direction for future planning. As I have said before, I believe mass transit should be built first. Unfortunately, I believe the (crappily named) Legacy Highway will be built, thanks largely to its opposition.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

City Weekly Fact Checker

Ben Fulton needs better sources. In the City Weekly, he quotes Bush at a "Republican fund- raiser" as depicted by "Fahrenheit 9/11". Problem: Fulton only assumed it was a Republican fund- raiser. It in fact was not. That was a scene from the Al Smith Dinner. It is held before the presidential election and is attended by BOTH candidates. While a formal setting, the Al Smith Dinner is actually famous for its humor. It is something like a political roast. Here is a CBS story about the dinner the year Fulton has referenced. If you'd like to read the speeches, they are both very funny, you can find them here. I"m sorry it is the Free Republic I've linked to, but they were the most available transcripts. Journalism is serious business. Movies are not very good sources.

MoveOn.GOP

The Salt Lake County Republican Party Executive Committee passed a resolution to remove Mike Ridgeway from his state party position. Mike Ridgeway had already been removed from his county party position. If you remember, Mike Ridgeway was critical of the way the his party handled the County Mayor's election. Ridgeway was right, the Republicans lost big and for his trouble, Ridgeway was given the boot. To be fair, Ridgeway has made plenty of enemies over the years thanks to his nutty intransigence. Anyway, Chairperson Tiani Coleman correctly called the resolution out of order. Now it's Ms. Coleman who is in trouble with the Executive Committee. She's been called before the Executive Committee to: "Discuss the chair's defiance of a directive from the executive committee, explore course of action available to committee, and possibly adopt one or more motions of a consequence of the discussion."Reported in the Deseret News. I believe the best thing the Salt Lake GOP can do is drop the whole thing and move on. This is fallout from the stressfull and embarrassing Mayor's race and they should just put it behind them. The County GOP will find no answers in sacking Ridgeway and picking on Ms. Coleman.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Trust Me, I'm a Senator

Senators want your trust, not ethics law (Tribune) I believe a trustworthy politician would back ethics laws. This would reassure the voters that he can be trusted and is working to protect the public and the democratic process. Just because a person holds a political office doesn't mean they should be implicitely trusted. This is a religious idea (you all know exactly what I'm talking about) that should be eradicated from the political sphere.

With Wondering Daw

A new bill that just passed the house will make money available to attract film and tv shows to Utah for production. According to Rebecca Walsh of the Tribune, this bill led Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, to "wonder" whether there was a way to guarantee the projects would not be offensive or embarrassing to Utahns. Question for Mr. Daw: Which Utahns are you referring to? The Mormons who don't watch R rated films or the Mormons that do? Or are they the large number of people who fall into neither of those categories? Question for Ms. Walsh: Why did you even print that quote? It was only the silly ramblings of a silly county. You should have left it out. It served no purpose in the story but to make a person (and/or party? and/or religion?) look bad. There are other columns (and blogs) for that. I suppose the bright side of the rise of Utah County in State politics is that it will not be boring.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

New MVP

Cute, Ed. Nothing like a good old fashioned stereotype to liven things up on the hill. Two posts in two days about Sen. Ed Mayne, D-West Valley City, means he's this site's MVP. Keep up the good work.

Oh, Puhleez!

Nazi Germany comparisons never ever make sense. This genious, instead of participating in a rational, open- minded debate over legislative minority reports has decided silly zingers work best. Gil, Gil, Gil, can't we all just stay cool? Also, why would the News even print such a letter?

Tribune's Traffic Travails

This Tribune editorial missed a major point. The editorial advocated tax hikes now to fund new roads. It then ends with this quote: "Obviously, as a comprehensive package, these tax hikes are DOA on Capitol Hill. But legislators are going to have to do something beyond the status quo, or their constituents are going to find themselves spending more hours every day in traffic jams. Isn't that why we don't all want to live in Denver or Los Angeles?" The Tribune mistakenly assumes that to avoid the traffic travails of Denver or Los Angeles, we need to raise taxes to build new roads. The Tribune ignores the fact that Los Angeles has constant traffic problems because only new roads were built to alleviate transportation problems. Mass transit must be a part of long term planning. I'm not talking about the kind of "we're planning on doing it someday" talk that Davis County loves. The Wasatch Front needs to be considering the minimum number of roads they can build and the maximum amount of mass transit. This takes careful planning. The kind of planning I'm sure a number of large cities wish they could go back and redo. If we continue to fund transportation in the traditional manner, we will end up with a large Wasatch Front urban area (like L.A.) that has no more room for highways and is so disorganized that public transportation will be too expensive to execute properly. Then we will be living in permanent L.A. traffic and wishing we could go back to 2005 and do it all over again.