Thursday, March 31, 2005

Voting Machine Clearinghouse

A lot going on regarding voting machines. The Tribune and the News both ran stories on it today. It's also worth it to check out utahpolitics.org and see the discussion going on there. Be sure to also look at the comments. Finally, a Democracy For Utah post on this topic generated an interesting comment from someone named Karen who claimed that when she asked to leave feedback at the voting machine test run, she was told by one of the workers "they got the response they wanted". Couple that with the Tribune's report that survey results won't be released publically, and I smell a conspiracy theory in the works.

The Right to Free Parking

The Downtown Alliance has developed a new plan for downtown parking tokens according to the Deseret News. They say they want to "alleviate fears that parking downtown is a hassle". Parking downtown is actually not a hassle at all, it's very, very easy. You just pay, then park. Cake. There is parking everywhere. Suburban Salt Lake complains downtown parking is "a hassle" but consider: Wal- Mart is free, Target is free, Costco is free, and the suburban malls are free, so the suburbs have internalized a "right to park for free". That's the real complaint.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A Reply from John Renteria

Two slcspin postings the other day prompted this reply from John M. Renteria. "Sorry 'bout the false prophet over use in a couple of writings.  Must be applying the icon wannabe status terminology too loosely when referring to religious and political humans in Utah.  Mea culpa." -jmrenteria 

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Requiem For the Hotsheet

I couldn't help but notice the Legacy Parkway Hotsheet hasn't moved in a while. Though I have been consistently against the (poorly named) Legacy Highway, I regret that the Hotsheet may have been hounded to death by ill- mannered hacks who never learned how to intelligently converse. Though we disagreed, I always admired and respected the guys behind the site and boosted them on slcspin when they were unfairly targeted. Or perhaps the debate itself is dead? The Daily Debate coverage of the Legacy Highway dispute garnered a whopping six comments. Two of the comments were my own and even I was bored with them. I suppose the average citizen has washed his hands of the entire thing.

KCPW Supports Bloggers Support KCPW

KCPW has provided support for the local blogging community through their news coverage and their “Blogger Friday” segment on Midday Edition. KCPW is now in the middle of their pledge drive and needs our support. KCPW is a community licensed radio station – meaning nobody owns it – so it’s truly an independent news organization. 85% of their operating budget comes from the public. Because KCPW has committed to the support and development of the local blogging community, we should return the favor. Visit kcpw.org or tune in to make a pledge. Pass it on.

Doomsday and the Democrats

UDCP vice chair Laura Bonham wrote in to the Deseret News today to defend the Progressive wing's candidacy of Craig Axford and herself for State Democratic chair and vice chair. That reminded me of this quote from Craig Axford. "The next Great Depression may well be upon us soon. Unlike the last large American economic failure, the next one will be far more global in scope and will come with the added baggage of environmental collapse, overpopulation, and a world already alienated from a United States that has shown disregard for their concerns and points of view. Progressives have begun to organize in the nick of time." Here's the link. Personally, I was never one for doomsday prophesies.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

John Renteria, False Prophet Sniffer- Outer

I just noticed what may be a political theme for John M. Renteria. Read this letter, and read this letter. Unfortunately, his ability to sniff out false prophets has not yet impressed voters. Personally, I think his "false prophets" references are suspiciously convenient when there is someone many believe to be an actual prophet living in the city. Religious taunting is poor politics.

Getting Fired

Whatever your opinion of the firing of Roger Ball, one aspect of the ongoing dialogue has me very annoyed. People constantly refer to the manner in which he was fired. He was given thirty minutes to clean out his desk and leave. That is standard practice. I feel bad for anyone that gets fired, BUT let's not feign offense at standard release procedures.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Race, Religion, and Hispanic Politics

John M. Renteria, sometimes political candidate and active local political figure: wrote a letter to the Deseret News today and accused Governor Huntsman of recruiting only: Non- Mexican Hispanics who are- Mormon, Republican, with only a few years residency. He may have also listed 'educated' but the letter is kind of confusing to read. You can tell it was written while in a very emotional state. That's not always a good idea. The allegation that Huntsman is "recruiting" based on ethnicity and religion is very serious. As a local public figure, he should not accuse the Governor of racism and bigotry unless he is willing to provide evidence so something may be done about it.

Friday, March 25, 2005

James Evans II

Yesterday, I mentioned James Evans. There's new information. According to LaVarr Webb at Utah Policy, James Evans has decided to run regardless of what Steve Harmsen might want to do. Good for him.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

James Evans

Steve Harmsen and James Evans both wish to be SLCounty GOP Chair. But according to LaVarr Webb, they won't run against each other, instead one will withdraw. Steve Harmsen should withdraw. Though Harmsen is very experienced in Salt Lake Republican politics, that history may be a liability in Salt Lake County among Republican voters who are restive and dabbling in cross- party voting. James Evans lost his senate seat to Fred Fife in November. Fife's narrow win came only after a full frontal assault by Democrats against Evans, a Republican interloper in what is considered a Democratic Safe Zone. James Evans' strengths are shown in the bi- partisan support he enjoyed on the west side and the many minority voters who crossed to his side of the polls.

Pete Ashdown Announced Candidacy

Pete Ashdown has announced he's looking for the Democratic nomination against Senator Orrin Hatch. Pete Ashdown is the CEO of XMission. This no doubt led to his primary announcement appearing exclusively online. John Yewell at New West had the privilege of making the announcement earlier today. pashdown.org

New Chairperson for the Democrats

In his Sunday column, Frank Pignanelli said this about the race for State Democratic Party Chairperson: "Although their names will not be on the ballot, the election for chairman will be a clear choice for where Democrats want to go — Rocky or Matheson — and their well-known differences of personality and priorities." The two candidates he is referring to are- Craig Axford representing the Rocky side, And Wayne Holland Jr. on the Matheson side. Frank was also critical of Axfod's Green Party past, which prompted this response from Craig Axford. Craig Axford has also appeared in slcspin here, here, and here. So far, Wayne Holland Jr. has been quiet in cyberspace. I wasn't able to track down a website for him.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

For Hire: Progressive Mayor Seeks Bigger Stage

According to Heather May at the Tribune: "[Spokesperson Deeda]Seed said [SLC Mayor]Anderson is 'stepping into a leadership vacuum' left by President Bush." Wow. Of all the criticism Mayor Anderson has faced, he has never once been accused of having a poor self- image. Heather May's story sheds some new light on the still mysterious topic of Mayor Anderson's plans for the future. Perhaps he is travelling the world setting himself up for a new job in the international environmental game. That would explain the lack of energy surrounding a potential Rocky III. Maybe he's moving on.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Definition of 'Several'

Today's Tribune numbered yesterday's war protest participants at "several hundred". Today's Deseret News credited them with only two hundred. So how many were there?

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Senator Hatch and the Silver Bullet

In this post, I joined others in laughing at Dave Hansen's sabre rattling on behalf of Senator Orrin Hatch. This week, however, I'm beginning to see things in a different light. We may be catching a glimpse of Senator Hatch's achilles heel. This week, the press has extensively covered the collapse of Utah's efforts at avoiding nuclear waste and the egg that has appeared on Senator Hatch's face. But it wasn't until I saw State Rep. Steve Urquhart blog this subject that I began to wonder if Hatch isn't as bulletproof as we assumed. Hansens warned Congressman Matheson against running against Hatch and we all laughed. But the nuclear issue is Matheson's silver bullet. LaVarr Webb said Hansen is the Republican's top operative, so should we give him credit for seeing this coming around the bend and launching a pre- emptive strike? Or will this fallout give rise to a (serious?) primary challenger?

Friday, March 18, 2005

Dog Advocates Should Not Read This

Today's Deseret News reports a Provo police officer shot and killed two pit bulls. Good for him. Remember a couple of years ago when that little girl had her face torn off by someone's rottweiler in Liberty Park? If only that were an isolated case. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 18 of the 27 dog- bite related fatalities in the U.S. in 1996- 1997 were thanks to rottweilers and pitt bulls. The remaining 9 fatalities were spread out over all the other breeds and mixes. I wonder what the figures for injuries are There is no right to own pit bulls and rottweilers.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Real Big Day

Real Salt Lake had a big day today. Congratulations to Governor Huntsman, RSL's newest fan. Senator Curtis Bramble has also jumped on the goodwill bandwagon according to the Deseret News. To show his support, I urge Senator Bramble to purchase season tickets here. Today's Tribune declared Murray to be the frontrunner in the race for the new stadium. It's well known that Dave Checketts favors Salt Lake City for the location, and I believe RSL has maintained talks with Murray to keep a fire lit under SLC and Mayor Anderson. With that said, I do think the team will not hesitate to go to Murray if Mayor Anderson isn't able to keep it together in SLC. After all, they've got a business to run.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Mayor Anderson

In today's Deseret News, a poll made the exact same point I made twice in the last few months. Salt Lake City is willing to back Mayor Anderson. Not a shocker. BUT- They won't give him the farm. That's why the voters of SLC elected the present council of political moderates. When I helped Councilman Eric Jergensen campaign, one of the assurances voters frequently sought is that he would be willing to stand up to Mayor Anderson. (Remember this is in the Avenues and Capitol Hill, not at all conservative neighborhoods) So, even before the major controversies, voters in a liberal district wanted a city council that wouldn't cave to what they recognized as a very ambitious and unpredictable mayor. This year, expect little change on the city council. Mayor Anderson will not get his rubber stamp council. No mayor ever should. I can't believe he asked for one.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Bramble's Spin Gamble

Senator Curtis Bramble claims the sole purpose of his RDA bill was to protect education funding. (Tribune) This "for the children" defense is misleading. Senator Bramble's comments create the false impression that the RDA money earmarked for projects like the RSL stadium will now be used in education. The reality is the public education budget seems to have reached its maximum potential. The RDA money would not be directed into education, it would only be diverted to other projects. Disclosure: I am an RSL season ticket holder.

Monday, March 14, 2005

For All the Morrissey Fans Out There -or- A New Reason to Excercise

The Deseret News editorialists are taking on obesity. They're not the only ones. Just today I listened to Morrissey's "You Are the Quarry". One of his songs really hit me in the gut. He sings a song about America, stating emphatically that he loves America, but Americans should consider (among other things), "why in Estonia they say 'hey you, you big fat pig, you fat pig, you fat pig." Ouch. Guilty. Disclosure: I recently purchased a larger sized pant. Sorry, Morrissey.

Taking the Initiative

An interesting article in today's Tribune talks about ballot initiatives. There will always be tension between advocates for initiatives and elected representatives. This is because they represent two systems that are naturally very suspicious of each other: Representative Democracy and Direct Democracy. The tension is good. Neither side should give in.

Politics and Hypocrisy

In today's Tribune, Paul Rolly talks about political hypocrisy. His column has two major problems. First: What Paul Rolly describes is standard political practice. His indignance is disengenuous; surely he understands the games ALL politicians play. Second: The column singles out Republicans to blame for a system of politics that have left few, if any, participants with clean hands.

Women and Awards

In Sunday's Tribune, Holly Mullen talks about women being shut out of awards in Salt Lake City. That's her main point, but strangely she does not really argue it. She gives no evidence for her assertion other than the "Giant in Our City" awards. Consider, however the last two people that won that award. Jon Huntsman Sr, and Gordon B. Hinckley are two local citizens who truly have no real peers in this city. So who was overlooked for this award? I don't know enough about local awards to know whether women are systematically overlooked. Holly assumes we will believe that they are, but she should offer some actual evidence. That would make an interesting story.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Dave Hansen, The Best There Is?

This bizarre Dave Hansen quote is making the rounds. “I just hope Congressman (Jim) Matheson takes a look at this and gets the idea that staying in the House where he will most likely be re-elected is much preferable to running against a ‘sure winner’ and ending his political career.” You can see the quote and LaVarr Webb's comments on it at utahpolicy.com. The Third Avenue has some more commentary on it. I'd like to echo the current online commentary and wonder aloud if Dave Hansen might have made a stupid joke that everyone is taking seriously. In August, LaVarr Webb said Hansen was probably the most experience Republican operative in the state. But if Hansen is so experienced, why did he send a threatening messages to Matheson through the press when Hatch is such a sure thing? What about the long, long, long odds of Matheson even joining the race?

Fatalism

"Significant social change only arrives following significant social turmoil. I do not wish in any way for turmoil and all the suffering and distress it brings; but we must move beyond any hope we may individually and collectively be clinging to that it can be avoided." -Craig Axford See the full text here. I've always been interested in the way the extreme ends of both left and right share the same fatalism when they don't get their way. Craig Axford is a candidate for State Democratic Chair. His campaign website is axfordforchair.org.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

KCPW and Blogging

Fellow local blogger Phil Windley will be featured on KCPW during tomorrow's Midday Edition. Phil is the blogger behind utahpolitics.org. KCPW has made a commitment to local blogging, so I hope the blogging community will support KCPW in return.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A Healthy Diet of News and Blogs

Blogs are becoming an increasingly important part of a healthy and balanced news diet. Here are two examples. Charley Foster's legal background adds an interesting element to the blog State of the Beehive. This blog regularly posts snippets of actual legal code pertinent to current events. Charley also includes links to source material relevent to issues being discussed in the news. Recently, State of the Beehive spent time covering legal questions in the world of polygamy. When it comes to legislative news, why not get your information from the source. State Representative and House Majority Whip Steve Urquhart runs a blog in which he talks candidly about politics and the legislature. Today, the value of his site is particularly clear considering the media coverage of the fallout to SB227. Go to Rep. Urquhart's blog to read about 227 from an actual lawmaker who participated in the debate. Whatever your opinions, you would be well served to visit these blogs in addition to your normal media intake.

Monday, March 07, 2005

LaVarr V. John

John Yewell accused LaVarr Webb of personally attacking him in his daily update. The reality is, Mr. Yewell is the only one taking this personally. Here's the deal. LaVarr Webb was basically correct about John Yewell's online column. It was dripping with condescension, generalizations, and overall it was not a good piece of journalism. I should say that I don't know if Mr. Yewell considers what he wrote journalism, or just writing. I, for example, don't consider slcspin to be journalism. It's just writing. Anyway, I will back up Mr. Yewell on one point of his column. He talked about the legislature's reaction to ethics reform in the same terms I did a while back in the post "Trust me, I'm a Senator". Hey John, toughen up.

Our First Hooligans

Where there is soccer, there are hooligans. Just ask Senator Bramble. Thanks to his RDA legislation, the future of RSL is in doubt and according to the Tribune, Salt Lake's young soccer movement has already paid him a visit. While I would never condone their vandalism (as mild as it is), I do understand their frustration. I myself am an RSL season- ticket holder. I even have a sticker on my car. Loyal.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Dueling Headlines

Anyone notice this today? "RDA bill DOOMS soccer stadium deal, Rocky says"- Deseret News Headline (emphasis added) "Passage of RDA bill DOESN'T kill plan for soccer stadium"- Tribune Headline (emphasis added)

Deseret News Fact Checker

I've seen this too often to not say something Today in the Deseret News, political editor Bob Bernick talked about the Governor's idea to phase out corporate income tax. He described the cut like this: "a repeal that by 2012 would be costing Utah public schools more than $200 million a year." Interesting comment, but FALSE. The education budget recieves some money from that source, but a phase out of the source does not necessarily equal a public school budget cut of $200 million. Unfortunately, he's not the first journalist to bat that ball of yarn.

The Salt Lake City Council

So, the Salt Lake City Council wants a new face for their legislative agenda. They should look in the mirror. The Salt Lake City Council is a group of intelligent and respected citizens. More importantly, they make good decisions. They have been maligned recently by the Mayor but everyone should remember one episode from the recent past. Remember when Mayor Anderson lost his nerve when Nordstrom threatened to leave downtown? The City Council stayed cool and now Nordstrom is staying on Main Street. The City Council should save their money and work with the legislature themselves. The City Council should be the new face of Salt Lake City. Disclosure: I worked for Councilman Eric Jergensen's election campaign in 2001.

Failed Image. Failed Message.- II

In today's Deseret News: "There's a different face to Salt Lake City than just Rocky, there has to be a different face put on these legislative issues."- SL Councilman Eric Jergensen "It would be terrible for him to go out after two terms and only be a legend in his own mind and not have really accomplished anything."- SL Councilwoman Nancy Saxton As I argued in "Failed Image. Failed Message.", Mayor Anderson has lost control of his own image and agenda. His office has to get this under control. The question is not whether they can, but whether they will.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Response From Craig Axford

In response to yesterday's post, Craig Axford had this to say via email. "My past activity in the Green Party is well known, and in truth a progressive does have only two choices, organize within the party or outside of it.  I have clearly stated since the founding of the Utah Democratic Progressive Caucus in 2003 that my experience within the Green Party makes clear to me organizing within the Democratic Party is clearly the better choice."

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Craig Axford and the Democratic Party

"The long and the short of it is, organize first. Do this and you have you[r] best shot at taking back the Democratic Party or, if that fails, forming an entirely new effort outside the Democratic Party that can actually succeed in the long-term." -Craig Axford This doesn't sound like the kind of party committment the Democrats are looking for. You can visit his campaign website here. The above quote is found at the blog on progressivevote.org. You can view the post here.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Governor Huntsman's Spokesperson(s)

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. has "always been supportive of the program," his chief of staff, Jason Chaffetz, said.- Deseret News March 1 ''We've got some very, very good lawyers on this,'' added Mike Lee, Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s general counsel.- Tribune Feb. 24 He is "watching with interest," Huntsman's spokeswoman Tammy Kikuchi said.- Tribune Feb. 6 So, who speaks for Governor Huntsman? He should probably be careful.

Source Material

Much has been said about bloggers as media watchdogs. While it's true, some bloggers are out headhunting, blogging may impact the media in a more direct way. Lawmakers had problems with the way the Tribune covered their resolution recognizing the U football team. Instead of just taking up their grievance with the newspaper, Majority Leader Jeff Alexander went directly to the public here and here. Thanks to blogging, newsmakers can completely bypass traditional media and communicate directly with the public. Hopefully, increased participation in the blogosphere by newsmakers will help keep journalists on their toes, much like journalists keep newsmakers on their toes.