Sunday, December 31, 2006

Announcing Utah Bloghive

The people who blog at Ponder it and Hot Blava-two blogs I enjoy-have put their hat into the ring of the political blog aggregator.

I like it!

Utah Bloghive

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy New Years Eve, Eve

Since New Years eve falls on a Sunday this year, I'm certain that many will celebrate on Saturday night. Recognizing the large LDS population that exists in Davis County, I will assume that much of that partying will not include alcohol.

Or, people will see this as an opportunity to extend their drinking for one more day.

The Davis County Health Department is asking parents to keep their underage kids from drinking(PDF)--It should be obvious. Wear your seatbelt, and be careful out there.

Friday, December 29, 2006

2006: The Best and Worst ideas in Davis County



The jury is still out on whether a lawsuit against the school district was beneficial. I think the parents may have taken things too far with fake stories, and inflammatory comments, but it did shed some light on a government body that could do with some light.

Local officials pushing for road funds

My feeling on allotment caps, when we talk about tax revenue, is that they lead to waste. The legislature imposes caps on the amount of revenue that a particular area can utilize. Some of these sources of revenue vary, from year to year, in the amount of revenue that comes in, but the caps are fixed at an arbitrary level.

Some areas of government get too little money, and some get too much.

The Utah League of Cities and Towns(Deseret News) wants a sales tax cap removed that would allow municipalities to get more money from the State to spend on their roads.

I think it's a sound idea.

Rail Trumps Theory

Life, Liberty, and Property has a good take on evidence (graph) that light rail, or commuter rail can move more people, using less physical space.

Daniels argument could be summarized thus, 'So, what?'

Daniel counters that we don't have the population densities required, in the U.S., to fully utilize rail. Rail systems never operate at a profit.

Roads do, however, get sufficient funding from gas taxes, and tolls.

Is your car smoking?

The County has started distributing smoking vehicle car pamphlets so you can rat out your neighbor. Once reported, people are required to get emissions testing done on their vehicle. You don't need a card to report someone, simply call 546-8860, extension 12(pdf).

“Smoking Vehicle” cards can be picked up at the Kaysville Tech Center, all 15 city halls, and all Davis County Government offices, libraries, and senior activity centers. For more information, call 546-8860.
Smoking car like smoking gun in Davis

Free Citizen Lobbyist Training

Free Citizen Lobbyist Training

January 4, Bountiful Library, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

To reserve your place, send an e-mail

Directions to the Bountiful Library: Address: 725 South Main: Take the 500 South exit from I-15, go East on 500 South to Main Street, Turn right on Main Street. The library will be to your left after you pass the El Matador Restaurant.

Why Become a Citizen Lobbyist?

Recently, in spite of virtually unanimous opposition during a public hearing, Davis County increased property taxes by 37%.

In retrospect, it is obvious that the decision to approve the tax increase had been made well prior to the public hearing.

This is not an isolated incident. In fact it is the general rule with only very limited exceptions.

Therefore, if citizens wish to have an impact on policy decisions at either the state or local levels, they have to work with public officials during the policy formulation and decision-making process.

Special interests, bureaucrats and citizen activist groups that carry the most clout with policy makers understand this and they make sure they are actively engaged in lobbying for policies that they want and support throughout the year.

If we want our voices to be heard, the rest of us have to become engaged in the policy process. We can do this by becoming, for lack of a better term, Citizen Lobbyists.

In order to give citizens the skills they need to influence public policy, will hold a free training session for Citizen Lobbyists on January 4 at the Bountiful City Library from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Upon completion of this training session, participants will know: 1) what it means to be a Citizen Lobbyist, 2) how to get involved (based on time available and personal skills), 3) where and when to be involved, and 4) how to professionally influence public policy.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP at

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A, Belated, Merry Christmas

Most bloggers take Christmas off. I didn't give myself a hard time to stop blogging, so I neglected to wish the handful of Davis County Watchers a Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

So, there you have it. That's all you get.

Onto some other observations regarding government. After the expiring Commission voted in another ghastly tax hike, I noticed the Davis County government website went down. Now that it's back, I'm trying to see what has changed.

  • A list of delinquent property tax payers. A fine "Merry Christmas" from Davis County government.
  • An Animal Control Kennel Roster which tells us that somebody lost their goat. Also, this quote, "Davis County Animal Services management and staff reserve the right to make final decisions on the adoptability of animals, irregardless of how they are marked on this page." (Note: bolding is mine. Irregardless is not a word).
  • They continue to list the most popular links, but there needs to be a "What's New" link so they can say, "Here's your tax hike!"
  • There are some new pictures with snow in them.
I'm glad that government screeches to a halt on holidays. I wonder how much money is saved when they shut down operations?

Friday, December 22, 2006

SLTrib: NSL purchases land for open space

Naysayers of NSL's plans to develop land that falls within Salt Lake County boundaries, have implied that the city has no desire to create, or preserve, open spaces.

Recent actions of the city would counter that argument. The city recently purchased nearly 100 acres on which will be more trail head.

Several organizations have been credited with making some sizable charitable donations to allow the purchase of the land. Namely, Eaglepoint Development, Pace-Platt Investment Co., Plumb Development, B & E Pace Investment and Cordova Limited Partnership.

With land purchase, North S.L. moves dream closer to reality

Commuter Rail Plans-Bus Rapid Transit

Here(pdf) is the proposed rail line, and stations, for the Commuter rail that will weave its way through Davis County. Right now it consists of a thick black line with no specific route. When details get fleshed out, we'll have to see where the track gets laid.

Woods Cross is currently the first station(pdf) in Davis County, on the South, with a ten acre spot at 500 South, and 800 West. Its west of the I-15 ramp.

The next station to the north will be Farmington(pdf). It's twenty acres, and west of I-15, and South of Park Lane.

Another map of the corridor is here(gif), and here(gif).

Two lanes will be added to I-15 at 600 North in Salt Lake, and at Highway 89 in Farmington.

Also, Bus Rapid Transit "Light Rail on rubber tires" will go through South Davis County.

More sunshine for the Clipper

Another reason to cast some sunshine on the Clipper is this article on the 37% tax hike. The Clipper included no arguments against the tax.

Contrast the Clipper article with this in the Deseret News, and you'll see why the Clipper isn't getting any larger.

Centerville clears up Main Street confusion

Standard practice for the Clipper is to publish only a single perspective per article. They seldom query more than one individual or body when considering the facts.

Case in point, my appearance in the Clipper when their online poll was revealed to be accurate. I was never contact, but the Clipper copied wholesale from my blog in writing the story.

All this being said, makes me hesitant to even link to the Clipper at all, save that sunlight will only reveal the chinks, and defects in the paper.

The Clipper today considers the merits of creating a mass-transit corridor in Centerville's downtown and quote extensively from its proponents.

I wonder what Centerville Citizen blog thinks?

Davis residents groan over 37% tax hike

An article in the Deseret News has some free advertising for this blog, with a couple of quotes from yours truly.

(shameless self-promotion over)

""I don't know what good it did us to go out in pounding rain, when they paid no attention," Gulbransen said.

Gulbransen, a widow on a fixed income, said the tax increase, which amounts to $60 per year on the average home valued at $171,000, will make her rethink how she spends money. Since she lives in a home worth more than $171,000, her tax increase will be more than the average, she said.
"It just means that I will have to pay it, and I'll have to let something else go," she said.
That something might be some of the money she usually gives her grandchildren for Christmas, she said."
Davis residents groan over 37% tax hike

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Lessons learned from the School District

I visited with Superintendent Bryan Bowles of the Davis County School District on Tuesday, and I walked away with a couple of impressions.

First the facts.

The School board said that the Davis Parents Association lawsuit would have a chilling effect on transparency. (Note: we did not discuss the boundary dispute on Tuesday, but spent our time on the indictment of the Rosses and subsequent auditing measures)

Bowles told me that the two Davis employee's were indicted the same day that he, and the press, heard about the indictment. He did not, at the press conference, offer any hint to the press that the district had taken steps to prevent future fraud two years earlier.

I was assured on Tuesday that a list of security measures taken would be prepared on Wednesday morning.

Now onto the principle.

Transparency isn't just about having press conferences, open meetings, and involving parents in decisions. Transparency is about pro actively addressing obvious concerns to the public.

Obvious concerns like the citizens trusting the School District with the next 4 million.

Concerns about whether this consultant, who is part of the 'old boys network', will provide a better solution than the solution prompting a lawsuit.

Bowles should be commended for visiting with the Legislature, and others who are interested in the Districts well-being( i.e. myself and others). However, the Superintendent should have handed the press a timely notice of changes that had been implemented since they discovered a problem.

That has yet to happen.

Wanna lobby?

Citizens For Tax Fairness is offering to teach laypeople to lobby the legislature in a 'Citizen Lobbyist Training' sometime in January. If you want to participate, please email

Davis County: Utah County's cousin

In terms of size and population Davis County is right in line with Utah County, yet when the County wishes to advertise its fiscal situation we are inevitably compared with a large, demographically distinct, Weber County.

The Salt Lake Tribune has compared a recent Jail expansion initiative in Utah County with what occurred in Davis County.

"But unlike their counterpart to the north - where commissioners voted Tuesday to raise taxes 37 percent to help fund the jail - Utah County isn't eyeing a tax hike.
"I'm not interested in having to be the Davis County Commission and raising taxes to open a jail," Commissioner Steve White said earlier this month after approving the 2007 Utah County budget. "The big winner is the taxpayer because we are able to do all this without raising property taxes.""
Utah County: No new taxes for this jail expansion

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Relocation of NSL's city hall

The gravel pit development that is visible when exiting I-15 from SL may be home to NSL's new City Hall.

The North Salt Lake Star (i.e. the city newsletter) also says that certain streets will be closed for "Commuter Rail" soon.

Main Street, January 15-29
1100 North, February
Center Street, February

I've got to check with the city. I'm not sure if they intend a rail line to run along Main Street, or Highway 89? I don't think Main street has the capacity at present. I'm aware of where the rail is supposed to be in Centerville, but Bountiful and North Salt Lake are still a mystery.

I haven't figured out how I'm going to get home between the 15th and the 29th, regardless.

Boundary change announcement afoot

The consultant hired to revisit the Davis School Districts boundary changes may be weeks away from a proposal.

Davis school boundary decision may be near

What does the Triumvirate teach us?

Moral: If you can't get away with 138% tax hike, then try one 24%, one 37%, and one jail expansion. Milk cities, and school districts for any additional funds.

Some are core functions, some aren't, but they are all excuses for higher taxes.

Death by a thousand cuts.



Deseret News

Quote of the Day: Dannie McConkie

"I enjoy the protection of the the county government just like every other citizen in the county."

Davis Property taxes to rise 37%

Triple-threat Tax increase

Yesterday, the County Commission voted to approve the 2007 budget. Included in the budget is a roughly $60 per $171,000 household tax increase. This, after tabling the vote at the public hearing where the commissioners heard a number of senior citizens and business owners decrying the tax.

The 37% tax increase went in when almost nobody was looking, Tuesday morning. Perhaps people thought that the Commissioners were going to reduce the tax, or defer it until the incoming group could consider its merits.

Not this commission!

I wonder what Commissioner McConkie meant at the Convention when he said, "I've learned my lesson"?

I wonder what Alan Hansen was thinking when he voted for the tax that will become his legacy?

Supply is demand, is supply, and our seniors who haven't 'needed' the aging services may now see a reason to start.

At the public hearing last week the Director of the Davis County Health Department said that the County could not meet the demand for these services. What is wrong with that? Many of these services are provided by the private sector, or volunteers, or are already funded by the Federal government. Many are of no cost to the County at all.

Steve Rawlings told me that the County had land, acquired to prevent flood issues that they could sell to get revenue.

Now we have a flood-tax increase, urged by Mr. Rawlings himself!

Citizens for Fax Fairness urged the County to slim the budget to make maintenance of the expanded Jail feasible without a tax increase.

The vote for the Jail was not a blank check for an additional tax.

This, lame-duck, Commission wants to go out with a bang.

Change to BETA Blogger

You may have noticed a change in the blog since last night. I made the jump to the new Blogger format, and in so doing, I've lost my old comments.

I used a different engine, Haloscan, for my comments than the average Blogspot user. I liked them, but I'm not sure if anyone else did. So, I'm doing a little poll. Vote and let me know if you prefer the vanilla comments, or if you want me to put in the bells and whistles?

Friday, December 15, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Creative Solutions] Politics is not that important

It's often bemoaned that so few people are interested in politics, or that so few participate in it. I've often felt that I would rather that many people were not attuned to politics, and that the engine that drives political action would not require constant vigilance.

Some people get a buzz from politics, a thrill from implementing change, or being part of the progress that is our government.

I do not feel this way.

I surprise people when I say this. After all I operate a political blog, and from time to time, I spend my own time at meetings. I speak to, and correspond with politicians. How could I not, also, derive some pleasure from it?

Years ago, it was all that I could do to get the latest writings and thoughts from *Hugh Nibley (more liberal politically than myself). He once identified a distinction between goods of the first, and second intent. The distinction he gave is this: goods of the first intent are things that are desirable intrinsically, but goods of the second intent only have value in that they may enable one to achieve those things that are inherently good.

Politics is not that important, or rather, it should not be that important. Or, put another way, the engine of government is best that operates with little or no attention.

Now, I've covered Bastiat a lot lately, and I won't make this post the exception. He said that there are two types of plunder-- legal, and illegal. He had little worry about the illegal variety in that it is obviously wrong. Legal plunder, however, is accomplished by the law itself. It is a perversion of the law, and can be operated by a majority. For, when people see what is gained by those in power through the act of plunder, they have two reactions. They, either, seek to join those who plunder, or they seek to stop the plunder from occurring. Bastiat felt that legal plunder led to an exaggerated emphasis on politics.

So, when I go to these public meetings, and hear an elected official, or a citizen complain that so few are present, I recognize in them the desire that more people would flock to stand behind their own special interest. They may be interested in stopping plunder, or they may be interested in furthering plunder for their group.

I wish that fewer would show an interest in politics that do. I wish that politics were relegated to the order, in the large picture, that it belongs. Politics belongs behind family, second to progress, and under economy. Those who have given sacrifice to this country have not done so to its politics, but to its right government.

Politics and government are not equivalent.

When we focus on goods of the first intent, we do not need to justify our expenditure on a ledger, or explain it to ourselves. It is simply good. Others may not understand why, but it is only our feeling that has any merit.

We should remember the difference between first and second.

*The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Volume 9: Approaching Zion

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Creative Solutions at 12/15/2006 03:00:00 PM

Thursday, December 14, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Citizenship] Commission to table the tax increase

I made it to the Public Meeting last night. I was able to arrange for the Scouting activity that night to be the meeting. I spoke, and so did about fifteen others. Most were Seniors and most opposed the tax increase because it would place a burden on them.

The Commission tabled the vote on the budget. They said they wanted to think about it.

That may be half of a victory. The fact still remains that they seemed to be very much in favor of the tax, and they may just vote it in in the next commission meeting when they don't have an audience.

Thanks to the citizens who came! This would have breezed by without the dissent.

More about the meeting can be found in the Deseret News and Standard Examiner.

Update: One more article in the Salt Lake Tribune with more comments of the public.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Citizenship at 12/14/2006 07:41:00 AM

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Taxes] The Spectrum: A prescription for saving money

An article published today confirms my statement of yesterday that the prescription drug program does not cost the county money and, therefore, does not belong in the column justifying a tax increase.

"There's absolutely no cost to the taxpayers at all."
--Alan Gardner
I'm just saying that when you look at all the small pieces of the proposed tax increase they do not justify an increase. Again, Federal programs, Volunteer work, and duplicate services do not justify a tax increase.

When you take a broader view of the proposal it is socialistic, and unnecessary.

The Spectrum: A prescription for saving money

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Taxes at 12/13/2006 10:35:00 AM

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Taxes] The shirt off our backs

I was having a conversation with some folks last night who were trying to describe the charitable character of their father (now deceased).

"He would have given you the shirt off your back."

That slip of the tongue caused some laughter, but on second inspection it is a universally true aspect of socialism.

The socialist will take from one party and give to another. They would argue that to have the everyday man do such a thing would be a crime, but to have the same act perpetrated by the government is not. Why?

Because those in the government cannot commit crime? Because of the rubber-stamp that is embossed with the word "law"?

This is a perversion of the law.

Those arguing in favor of the Senior Citizen tax are raising the socialist banner.

There is an alternative. Proponents of the tax increase would say that there is no other way. The director of the Davis County Health Department, Lewis Garrett says there is a "shortage" in these services. Here a a few examples where that statement is wrong, yet these are touted(pdf) as areas that will be covered by the tax increase.

  • Prescription Drug Cards --Our cost for participation in this program is paid out of existing funds. Does the cost for these cards increase with our population? No. This program was piloted in Davis County under the direction of Dannie McConkie, and he has assured us that it is free, except for our membership dues to the National Association of Counties. Why should our membership dues increase with a natural growth in our aged population?
  • Senior Employment --No assessment has been made to determine whether more funds are required for this activity. Which of the growing Senior population will desire employment. Which will need it?
  • Aging Waiver is a program administered to those who meet existing Medicare guidelines. --This means it is federally funded. No local tax increase is required.
  • Title V --Again is Federally funded as per the CARE Act. No local dollars are required.
  • Volunteer Opportunities --They must be joking. Volunteers will continue to not be paid despite the growth of the aging population.
I could go on, but why should I? The argument that I'm making is sound, and is fully illustrated by these examples.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Taxes at 12/12/2006 01:40:00 PM

[Davis County Watch: Announcements] Proposed Tax increase: Public Meeting

Public Notice of Special Meeting of the Davis County Commission, Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 6:30 p.m.

At the Event Center (Fair Park), Building 2, 151 S. 1100 W, Farmington, Utah

The Commission thinks that this meeting will be well attended which is why they have chosen a venue that will hold a lot of people.

I cannot attend on Wednesday. Wednesday nights are difficult for those who participate in Scouting or Mutual activities that night.

Please attend and oppose the tax increase! Here is why.

Davis County continues to grow. Property values in the County continue to increase. The very people who would qualify for the relief in question (Senior Citizens) are, often, also property owners and pay the tax. Were these people not to have the burden of an additional tax, their money would be well spent on themselves. Growth can take care of itself based upon current tax levels. Those who do not qualify for relief volunteer in high numbers. The County assesses the value at $500,000 for the year of volunteer service between June 2005, and June 2006. These same people will not be equitably served to also pay an increase in addition to their volunteer service.

Bastiat calls this activity legal plunder.

"But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime."
This tax has been lumped in with a Jail maintenance, and flood control tax. These taxes should be considered on their own merits, not on the merits of the others. Again, the tax base grew this last year, and continues to grow. Revenues into Davis County have increased. New revenue could be put towards real needs.

Two-thirds of the Commissioners who represent our County, and will vote on this increase, are lame-ducks and will be out by the end of the year. One of these Commissioners(McConkie) was voted out because of his participation in a scheme to raise taxes on the County in a way that was seen as unnecessary by the electorate. The remaining, lame-duck, commissioner(Page), also supported this heavy tax increase. It is reasonable to assume that if Page were not retiring that she too would have lost on this basis. This kind of, weighty, decision should be left to the incoming group to decide.

One month is all I ask.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Announcements at 12/12/2006 07:56:00 AM

Friday, December 08, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Citizenship] The Special interests Modality

A call to a more vigilant citizenry.

"Special interest, as the history of tariffs reminds us, can think of the most ingenious reasons why they should be the objects of special solicitude. Their spokesmen present a plan in their favor; and it seems at first so absurd that disinterested writers do not trouble to expose it. But the special interests keep on insisting on the scheme. Its enactment would make so much difference to their own immediate welfare that they can afford to hire trained economists and "public relations experts" to propagate it in their behalf. The public hears the argument so often repeated, and accompanied by such a wealth of imposing statistics, charts, curves, and pie-slices, that it is soon taken in. When at last disinterested writers recognize that the danger of the scheme's enactment is real, they are usually too late. They cannot in a few weeks acquaint themselves with the subject as thoroughly as the hired brains who have been devoting their full time to it for years; they are accused of being uninformed, and they have the air of men who presume to dispute axioms."

--Henry Hazlitt, 1946

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Citizenship at 12/08/2006 03:49:00 PM

[Davis County Watch: Creative Solutions] More reading by Classic Economists

I'm reading Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt. First published in 1946, its principles are still, largely, true today.

One example is a discussion that Hazlitt has on why public policy should be based on production and not employment.

"It would be far better, if that were the choice--which it isn't--to have maximum production with part of the population supported in idleness by undisguised relief than to provide "full employment" by so many forms of disguised make-work that production is disorganized. The progress of civilization has meant the reduction of employment, not its increase. It is because we have become increasingly wealthy as a nation that we have been able virtually to eliminate child labor, to remove the necessity of work for many of the aged and to make it unnecessary for millions of women to take jobs."
Another I like is Bastiat's, Economic Sophisms. A pamphlet written to discuss the fallacies that have led to restrictive trade policies.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Creative Solutions at 12/08/2006 02:34:00 PM

Thursday, December 07, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Citizenship] Utah Policy: Not all things to all "political junkies"

Anyone that is considered a "political junkie", and that lives in Davis County, should realize that not all local issues figure into the calculus of those that publish Utah Just like any subjective media they get their pet issues and run with them.

For example, I almost never get a mention on Utah Policy--Blog Watch. I'm not hurt by it, but I have paid attention to the fact that Davis County has been all over the two largest papers in the State, with two School District controversies going on simultaneously, and yet we haven't heard a peep from Utah Policy.

I should give some background, as much as I know. The Exoro group actually runs Utah They are a group of political consultants whose main objective is to market themselves as "communicators". In fact, they tout their ability to " anyone become an effective communicator."

So, if you're a blogger, and want a mention on Utah Policy, then your objective will be to pickup one of those pet issues that Utah Policy is currently running, and blog it to death.

Blog the issue until it's dead in the ground and then blog about it some more. Utah Policy will love you!

I should mention that writing about dead issues is something for which bloggers always get high marks.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Citizenship at 12/07/2006 11:10:00 AM

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Creative Solutions] The Law: Bastiat-What is the Law?

This solution harks from 1850. Yes, it can still count as creative, though it is over 150 years old.

It was pointed out to me in a conversation last night, that Ronald Reagan drew much of his inspiration from an economist by the name of Frederick Bastiat.

Bastiat was the Deputy to the Legislative Assembly in France and took it upon himself to expose each fallacy being perpetrated by socialist factions within the government.

Recommended by Reagan. Portending the danger of Socialism to France and to the world. The pamphlet.

The Law

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Creative Solutions at 12/05/2006 07:25:00 PM

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Announcements] Fake news story riles Davis District

The newly formed Davis Parents Association have done their best to create a three-ring circus on their new website

Hat tip to the Deseret News, although they did their best to obscure the actual location of DPA's website. (i.e. they followed the common news media practice of not publishing it.)

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Announcements at 12/05/2006 09:10:00 PM

[Davis County Watch: Taxes] Is Tax deferral wise?

The suggestion is floating around the legislature that Senior Citizens over the age of 65 should be 'allowed' to defer their property taxes until they move or die. When paid, the taxes would have interest added.

Citizens for Tax has made an effort to expose the fallacies inherent in the deferred-tax proposal. It reminds me of an experiment, often perpetuated on children, in which they are offered fifty cents now, or five dollars later.

The children, unwisely, choose the fifty cents.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Taxes at 12/05/2006 05:28:00 PM

[Davis County Watch: Taxes] Flood control foresight

I remember a conversation that I had in May, 2005 with Steve Rawlings. He intimated that the County owned land, purchased subsequent to the 1983 floods, to allow for natural run-off. If Rawlings were to have his way much of this land would be sold, to developers, for revenue for the County.

I don't know how much land has been sold, and what pressure has been placed on the flood-control infrastructure? Where have the revenues gone from these sales? Should they have gone towards the repairs that now require 1.5 Million per year?

Now we're faced with the prospect of a tax increase for flood control, and I wonder if Rawlings was wise to encourage the sale of land, while ignoring the protection against flooding that these lands represent.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Taxes at 12/05/2006 05:10:00 PM

Monday, December 04, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste] Desnews: Is Davis District liable for funds?

Davis School District may need to repay some, or all, of the 4 million dollars that were misused by the Rosses.

The Federal government is known to have recouped amounts of thousands from other Districts in Utah, but we've never seen the refund amount to millions.

This could be a first.

This is so unprecedented that we shouldn't jump into oncoming traffic yet.

Let's wait and see if the District is able to recover money from frozen accounts. Let's wait for the final price tag.

Is Davis District liable for funds?

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste at 12/04/2006 10:56:00 AM

Sunday, December 03, 2006

[Davis County Watch:Taxes] Selling a tax increase: Behind the curtain

The Davis County Commission is concerned about the proposed tax increase. They're worried that we might not like it. They're probably worried that we don't trust them.

I have some good evidence to support this claim.

Could it be because two out of three commissioners are out-a-here come January?

Not really, although that is true.

Now, this next part is going to sound pedantic at first. Stay with me.

Davis County's website it touting one page among its most "popular" links. That is supposed to mean, I think, that a lot of people have clicked on this link. Frankly, the County wanted this particular link to be popular. It was strategically placed so to influence a decision that will be ours to make. It's sitting out, in full view, in the middle of the page. You know, so people will click on it.

Let's break down this page into its most basic elements.

Its title is: " Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting (PDF)

That sounds innocuous enough. Impressive, actually.

Now the rub.

The URL, (that's the location of the file), for the page exposes the Commissions real intent. Here it is.

Did you see that? (I tried to make it obvious by making it bold) It's in a folder called "tax_increase". Someone must think that this particular document will influence the citizens of this county to vote for a tax increase.

The reality is that this certificate has nothing to do with whether this particular tax increase is
good or bad. It has everything to do with how good Steve Rawlings is at his job.

Where would our Commissioners be without Rawlings?

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Taxes at 12/03/2006 9:19:00 PM

Friday, December 01, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste]Clippertoday: Skate park gets the ax once again

Mayor Joe Johnson is upset that people show up to later meetings in droves, but the initial meetings have low to no attendance. This is a long-standing belief that the Mayor has expressed that citizens who come late should not have a say in government. He expressed this when opposition was raised to the Recreation Center.

"The reason you’re not informed is your fault."

Okay, Mayor, I think people can accept your theorem, but not the corollary.

"We do know what makes a successful park."

The Mayor has demonstrated time and again that he is impervious to public input. Fortunately, this time, the city council chose, another way, to vote against the skate park at Tolman (Rocket part).

Skate park gets the ax once again.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Announcements] Transportation problems

I got in a car accident yesterday. Everyone is okay. Maybe I'll feel like writing about it one day, but now....

One glimpse, though. That commercial was on the radio, when the accident happened, in which Burt Bacharach is singing, "I hope I never get hit in the rear...again".

I was laughing at those lyrics, until...Well.

Today, I don't like irony.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Announcements at 11/30/2006 12:38:00 PM

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste] Legislature to audit schools

I don't have a category for criminal activity. That is because we don't generally see criminal activity in local government.

(insert laughter here)

No, I'm serious. I think that most problems in government come from incompetence, or ignorance. Not intent to do wrong.

I also don't consider myself to be someone who accuses others. We're all passengers on this ship, and as such should consider it our responsibility to point out the iceberg when we see one.

So, I'm relieved to hear that the legislature wants to work with school boards to audit school districts accounting, and budgeting, practices. Not because they will find more fraud, but that they will find more waste.

Legislators may home in on Davis funds scandal

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste at 11/29/2006 09:34:00 AM

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Creative Solutions] Mountain Peaks of debate

There are certain issues that have become untouchable by ordinary logic. These fall under the broad head of what is called 'political correctness'. All that need be done to squelch discussion on any topic is to mention one of these code-words. In print these ciphers can be easily recognized because they are often bolded, capitalized, or italicized. When these key words are given in a sound it is appropriate to wear earmuffs.

Some sounds can still be heard with earmuffs.

When code-words are ignored by either party, which is rare since it is so deeply ingrained in our psyche, then the code can be escalated to another level.

A label.

Labels can define who the offender is without the inconvenience of a presumption of innocence. There is no longer a need to listen once a label has been successfully applied.

These key words start having their effect on us when we are very young, but they don't take full hold until we gain some experience in dealing with them.

Our programming can be reversed, but not without some conscious effort on our part. It takes two things.

Air, and exposure to ordinarily offensive materials (Not pornographic, but something that elicits a bolded response in our minds).

Listen to someone with whom you might presumably disagree, and then instead of cutting them off with a code-word, breath deep.

Take another breath.

Now for an example that could try even the most practiced of this art. The issue is now moot, which is a fantastic reason to entertain another perspective.

Moot arguments carry no inherent risk to the status quo.

In 1895, Utah was being considered for statehood, and delegations gathered to decide upon the drafting of a state constitution. One, unexpected, wedge issue was suffrage for women.

B.H. Roberts had been sent with another to represent Davis County.

When word got back to his party that he had taken the lead in opposing suffrage then the following was sent.
"DEAR SIR:_Our attention has been called to the position you are taking in the Convention, regarding woman suffrage, and we are informed, in fact the Herald says as much, that you are looked upon as a leader of the opposition on the floor of the Convention. This position is not in line with the sentiments of your constituents, and further, in the county convention that nominated you, a resolution was presented and adopted, favoring equal suffrage, and requesting our delegates to work for it. Our campaign, locally and territorially, was conducted with this as an important plank in the platform.In view of these facts, and the further fact that Davis County is so overwhelmingly in favor of an equal suffrage provision in the Constitution, we feel it our duty to ask you to not oppose this suffrage plank. If your convictions will not permit you to vote in favor of it, you might at least, remain inactive in the matter, and thus save our party the humiliation of having their pledges broken."
Roberts was asked to resign if he could not restrain himself. His Co-delegate chose to read the above letter to the entire body. (A little aside: the letter was signed by a man that, later, had Roberts speak at his funeral.)

Now what is interesting about the proceedings is that Roberts was given some time to speak, and after his time was cut short, he negotiated with the body to be allowed the final word.

The delegates opposed to Roberts spoke for an additional two days. On the third day, Roberts was finally given the opportunity to close the debate, knowing full well, that he would be buried under the votes against him for suffrage.

I find Roberts closing remarks to show tremendous courage and his arguments to be logical. I find I can't help but agree with him on some of his points, and yet the argument is moot.

It's clear that Roberts knew what could be done to him by invoking just a few code-words.
"I know, sir, for announcing this doctrine in such cool terms that I shall be anathematized perchance as a tyrant to women, a man unfeeling and tyrannical in his disposition towards the fair sex, but I shall trust to those who know me and my life not to take any serious consideration of that accusation, and I shall try to convince this Convention by an expression of my views on that subject, that I do not believe that leadership, headship, responsibility of precedency, is necessarily accompanied by tyranny and by oppression."
The main part of Roberts remarks took place on April 2, 1895.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Creative Solutions at 11/28/2006 11:31:00 AM

[Davis County Watch: Citizenship] Standard Examiner:Davis boundaries, reloaded

The Standard Examiner hopes that the School Board will truly display some transparency in its boundary decisions.

"For that reason, we hope the Bountiful parents who filed suit over the closed meetings do not yet drop their legal action. Obtaining a judge's ruling in favor of the open-meetings requirement will force Davis education officials to debate this and future boundary adjustments in the open."
In other words, don't stop punching until the board says 'Uncle!'

Davis boundaries, reloaded

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Citizenship at 11/27/2006 10:19:00 PM

Monday, November 27, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste] Utah Planner's Corner: What a View... for Me!

Wilf Sommerkorn has a thoughtful piece on the NSL/SL land dispute. He's attempting to be balanced on the issue, and so doesn't let loose with any sort of conclusion. I have to concur with his feelings about the place, though.

"No question, this is a great area. The views are fantastic! Given the rapid pace of development in Davis County and all along the Wasatch Front, it is nice to have some areas that stay undeveloped. But...but, to some degree, it does strike me as more of the Gangplank syndrome (you know, "I'm aboard, now hoist up the gangplank and don't let anyone else on board!")"
I must say that NSL wants to preserve the land and they have a plan to do so. Starting by building some trailhead. If the land isn't going to be trampled by naturists, then we should lay some groundwork for them.

What a View...For Me!

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste at 11/27/2006 09:06:00 PM

[Davis County Watch: Creative Solutions] Word of the Day: Logomachy

Main Entry: lo·gom·a·chy
Pronunciation: lO-'gä-m&-kE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -chies
Etymology: Greek logomachia, from log- + machesthai to fight
1 : a dispute over or about words
2 : a controversy marked by verbiage

This is the type of argument I wish to avoid for a number of reasons.

First, I like to play with words a little, and if I have to be overly concerned that my words will be misinterpreted, then some of my joy leaves me.

Second, I'm more than happy to interpret meaning based upon contextual clues, and purists who insist that a word must mean a certain thing, only complicate the argument for me.

Third, I like to discuss the issues, and words are merely a vehicle to carry the debate forward.

So, if I say I meant something a certain way, don't get too hung up in what you thought I meant.

This blog is not a battle-ground for logomachies.

Now, I never thought I'd ever say that!

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Creative Solutions at 11/27/2006 04:05:00 PM

[Davis County Watch: Guest Bloggers] Why I yelled at Tyler yesterday

by Natalie

Let's say there is an honest, hardworking family, living below the poverty limit, because the head-of-household works somewhere that refuses to pay a living wage. Unbeknownst to this family, someone has accessed their bank accounts and is taking $25 a week from them.

When it is discovered, some people get angry that this poor family has not been receiving enough, and has then had money stolen from them. They believe that we should continue to fight for a living wage, so hardworking families can achieve their full potential. Others believe that this money being stolen from this family just goes to show how they really were receiving enough, and now, with that extra $25 a week,they should be able to do a lot more - maybe they're actually receiving too much? If they survived without that $25 a week, maybe they don't need it.

The situation regarding the embezzlement from the Davis School District is much like the analogy above. It depends on your perspective. I think Tyler's perspective is wrong.

Many of us believe that our system of public education in Utah is being slowly starved to death. The powers-that-be believe that our teachers are worth less than teachers in neighboring states, and should teach here without leaving or complaining, because they love to teach. And that we should have only the highest qualified people teaching, when the wages in Utah are so low, comparably. They believe that sharing textbooks and not being able to bring them home to do homework is acceptable, and that children can learn to read in a class with 28 other children, or can learn trigonometry in a class with 44 other students.

This is why I took offense at Tyler's comments - the question isn't that we can do more with less - we already know we can. Our luck is running out. We shouldn't have to do more with less. Those are OUR CHILDREN in those classrooms. And the accused embezzling is bad, and it makes me angry. But the attempt to starve my children's school in the name of unfunded federal and state mandates, getting even with the teacher's union, competition, so-called parent choice, or even asking the school district to do more with less is wrong. Should the district be responsible and accountable for the money it is given? Yes. Is the district given enough? No.

The days where Utah could have a great education system, regardless of the amount spent per-pupil, because of dedicated teachers and involved parents are coming to an end. There is a crisis on the horizon. It cannot be solved only with money, but money is definitely part of the solution. To imply that it is not is naive. And offensive.

Posted by NatGo to Davis County Watch: Guest Bloggers at 11/27/2006 08:20:00 AM

Saturday, November 25, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Citizenship] Thanksgiving: A week in review

We've had quite a bit going on this week, so I'd like to take a moment and review what has past.

Davis Lawsuit

The Davis County School District floated the idea earlier this week that the continuing lawsuit could lead to even less transparency than before.

Of course, it did.

By paying a consultant to evaluate the situation, it's anyones guess what this single individual will decide. When is the District going to involve parents?

I'm worried this lawsuit won't go away.

Charter Schools -Yea, or Nay

The Deseret News has suggested that lawmakers show restraint in the creation of new Charter Schools. A 200 page report put out by the Utah Education Policy Center suggests that this is the consensus of most parents.

Land Dispute

SL County has backed SL City in the ongoing lawsuit with North Salt Lake.

No Surprise.

Fraud in Davis County-Not a good month for the School District

Two former Davis County Employees (actually, there is another minor player) are indicted for allegedly defrauding the School District out of $4 Million dollars in five years. They likely have been doing this for 21 years, but won't be prosecuted for it. Who knows how much has been stolen in two decades?

A poorly worded post of mine prompted the suggestion that I would support continued felonious activities to be enacted upon the school district, and that I am a public school critic. This may suggest that I am anti-public school.

I, merely, intended to point out that the School District were given shoddy books at grossly inflated prices, not that we should continue to purchase "crummy" books and have someone pocket the money. I would recommend that the District take special care to implement better auditing and that it should be possible to spend much less and get much more.

As to the label, 'public school critic'. I prefer to be called a school critic. If my not being anti-private school equates me with being anti-public school, then I could be labeled as such. However, I think you can appreciate the benefits of both systems.

I do.

Is it too soon for a blogger, such as myself, to talk about reforms that could be enacted to prevent future criminal acts?

Frankly, no, but am I capitalizing on this news to make my point?

Yes. When I make 4 million dollars from 'proving my points', then talk to me about my ethics. I intend to continue drawing lessons out of situations that I encounter--good and bad.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Citizenship at 11/25/2006 10:07:00 PM

Friday, November 24, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste] Lessons learned from 4 Million stolen

The embezzlement of 4 Million dollars from Davis County School District can teach us a valuable lesson. When the feelings of betrayal have past, and the District is forced to contend with its books for next year, then we may learn that we can do more with less.

Yes, you read that correctly. The Rosses allegedly kept up this fraud for Twenty-one years! And, what were they doing in that time? They were trumpeting to the District the need for more money to supply the schools with what they needed. They were, in essence, inflating the existing budget to pay for their own exorbitant lifestyle.

True, the Rosses cut many more corners than is prudent for thieves. For example, they dealt out xerox copies of many textbooks. The materials were described as "crummy" by Superintendent Bowles. Yet, the fact that must not be overlooked when we address the new problem of replacing all these books is that the budget must be revised to meet the realistic needs of the District. For, many of the books, under the Rosses stewardship, were sold to the District for as much as seven times the amount charged by the publishers!

The Rosses are, of course, saying that they are innocent. They may be innocent, but if they are, they were incompetent fools with the Districts money.

When criminals, or alleged criminals, get to be in charge of budgets, then budgets grow. Now that these budgets will be returned to responsible hands, those in charge must remember in what ways they were duped. It wasn't just with "crummy" materials, but it was also in high prices.

Couple accused of $4M school scam

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste at 11/24/2006 11:22:00 AM

[Davis County Watch: Announcements] Salt Lake County ‘betrays’ NSL in open space vote

Salt Lake County has voted to side with its own. If the disputed 80 acres gets disconnected from Salt Lake City, then North Salt Lake will still have to contend with Salt Lake County in order to use the land. North Salt Lake plans to fight for annexation from Salt Lake County if things progress that far.

This David now has to fight two Goliath's.

Salt Lake County ‘betrays’ NSL in open space vote

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Announcements at 11/24/2006 10:29:00 AM

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Citizenship] SL County to vote on open space

SL County intends on backing SL Cities decision to zone NSL's 80 acres of land as open space. They make that stance official in a vote today.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Citizenship at 11/21/2006 09:40:00 AM

[Davis County Watch: Citizenship] The best policy: School boundary panel should operate in open

The Tribune editorial board has weighed in against the Davis County School District asking for more transparency. My favorite quote is this.

"The district counters that the 39 committee members included parents and that there had been ample opportunity for them to have their say."

My first chortle of the day.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Citizenship at 11/21/2006 11:02:00 AM

[Davis County Watch: Citizenship] SL County to vote on open space

SL County intends on backing SL Cities decision to zone NSL's 80 acres of land as open space. They make that stance official in a vote today.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Citizenship at 11/21/2006 11:01:00 AM

Monday, November 20, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Creative Solutions] Solve Congestion first

The Utah Taxpayer Association has suggested that only "real congestion" should be addressed with dollars, not "pretend congestion". The question I have for those who advocate expanding the roads along Centerville is this. Is congestion a real problem along Main Street? It seems the influx of funds coming from the Legacy Highway fight has turned to a disadvantage for those who want thinking to be tied to spending.

The Utah Taxpayer Association blog elaborates further on this principle, as well as asserting more, in this post. It discusses the flawed thinking that has led the idea of extending TRAX to the airport.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Creative Solutions at 11/20/2006 08:17:00 PM

[Davis County Watch: Taxes]This is NOT a hard pill to swallow...

My property taxes going down.

Vitamin firm expands in North Salt Lake

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Taxes at 11/20/2006 08:01:00 PM

[Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste]Centerville Citizen: Mayor Russell response on Main Street

Centerville seems intent upon creating a faster way through town-as opposed to a faster way to town. The word, 'transportation', has become such a buzzword this election cycle that it has been assumed that any solution presented in which this word can be invoked, must be a good one.

Centerville Citizen has posted a letter from Mayor Russell in which it is urged that Centerville needs to develop its "heart". The way to this 'heart' is said to be an expansion of Main Street. Well, if Main Street is already at the center of town. If it is the heart, I would ask Mayor Russell where this new artery will lead, but out of the City.

The only way this could succeed is if Main Street were almost entirely zoned as commercial. There is a certain point at which residents want to drive slowly, and that point begins and ends at home.

This plan seems ill conceived. More still, it will lead to neighboring cities expanding adjoining streets to accommodate this action, carving it's swath throughout South Davis. Truly, this is a plan that favors commuters out of Davis County, not those who reside along the corridor.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste at 11/20/2006 07:11:00 PM

[Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste] Center offers report on charter schools

Utah Education Policy Center has released its findings on Charter Schools. The Legislature will have this 200 page report(pdf), as well as an audit performed by the Office of the Legislative Auditor General before it makes it's decision on what to do about Charter Schools.

Center offers report on charter schools

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste at 11/20/2006 05:31:00 PM

[Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste] Scrutinize charter schools

This post falls under the category of Waste, because we're not quite sure if Charter schools are wasteful. No criteria exist to measure their actual benefit. Charter Schools are still experimental

Here are the Charter Schools that exist in South Davis County. Two were added this year.

All other Schools in the state are listed below.

Utah Charter Schools

The measure put in place to protect our investment is to cap the creation of new Charter Schools. Five new schools per year for the State. The Deseret News Editorial board has urged lawmakers to continue to curb growth of these schools until we can measure their effectiveness.

That is good advice.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste at 11/20/2006 05:13:00 PM

[Davis County Watch: Citizenship] Davis School District takes off the gloves.

Davis School District officials now contend that a ruling against them in an up-coming lawsuit could lead to even less transparency. Let me say that again. School district officials are arguing that the District will have to become more secretive if they don't get their way.

Fear, uncertainty, doubt?

Other school districts in Utah, including Jordan, have almost every meeting open to the public.

It looks like the coalition of parents bringing this lawsuit deserve a win.

School official: Ruling against Davis' closed door may stifle; others say no

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Citizenship at 11/20/2006 04:48:00 PM

[Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste] D.A.R.E.: On the Chopping Block

During the Republican Convention, Sheriff Bud Cox, pledged his support for the D.A.R.E. program. Meaning he intends to continue to use the Federal money he receives for it. Because, it turns out that this program depends upon the Byrne Grants. The Byrne grants are dollars given to local law enforcement to assist in fighting against drugs, and drug related crimes.

Up to now, funding for local drug education efforts have been given with no strings attached. Since 2004, however, the Whitehouse has made a continuous recommendation that the program either be cut, or that metrics be put in place to provide justification for the grants. The Whitehouse tried to cut them from the 2005 budget, but they were saved by the Legislature, funding them, at the previous years levels.

The Byrne Grants could be in jeopardy, again, unless local law enforcement can provide better metrics of their performance. Orrin Hatch, as recently as March 2004 has pledged his support for these grants but the Whitehouse has continued to identify these grants as 'Not performing'. To date no one has suggested how the success, or failure of these programs should be determined.

Accusations have been leveled at this Administration for overspending Federal dollars. Yet, we can't seem to stop begging for more from the same Government. How do we hold ourselves accountable for money we receive from the Federal Government? The answer is that we don't, unless it is required of us. If the Federal government does require that we report back on D.A.R.E, would Bud Cox think it is worth saving? Could we wean ourselves off of Federal handouts?

P.S. I had this post completely written when I came across this article echoing my sentiments. It gives, much better than I have here, some background on the Byrne grants, and reasons why they should only be given with the requirement of accountability. Now that the balance of power has shifted, so drastically, towards the Democrats, it is incumbent upon them to prove they can live without earmarks.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste at 11/20/2006 02:29:00 PM

Friday, November 17, 2006

Up to $10,000 REWARD




Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Announcements at 11/17/2006 08:06:00 AM

[Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste] Bountiful: City Council: Various and sundry items

Bountiful's City Council met on Tuesday to discuss the following.

  • A crosswalk will be added at 200 East and 1200 North for better student access to Tolman Elementary.
  • A recommendation to paint no parking zones on 500 West and 2700 South at Colonial Square.
  • A skate park at Tolman Park, also known as Rocket Park.
Who knew about the skate park beforehand?
What are the Pro's to adding to Rocket Park?
  • A place for skaters to congregate off of the roads.
  • "10 foot park style bowl and then an 8 foot pool, with pool cope and all. a good flow section and nice street."
  • A skate park at the Rec Center may not be built, saving the County residents money.
What are the Con's to building at Rocket Park?
  • The area is secluded and may attract child predators and crime. (The park is secluded, so this argument may hold no water)
  • No supervision, pointing to safety concerns.
  • The Park is not centrally located, and is uphill.
  • No venues are close, and buses are scarce.
Hat tip: Clippertoday

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Spending and Waste at 11/17/2006 02:22:00 PM

[Davis County Watch: Citizenship] Centerville wants to widen Main Street

WP, who posts at the Centerville Citizen blog, is helping to form the Main Street Property Owners Association to fight the widening of Main Street.

Main Street in Centerville.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Citizenship at 11/17/2006 08:56:00 AM

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Citizenship] Davis Parents sue School Board

A group of Davis Parents have sued the County School board for convening six closed door meetings surrounding a proposed boundary change. The board says the meetings were not of a 'public body', and so can be closed.

This lawsuit should clarify whether a 'special committee' is considered a 'public body', or not.

Davis Parents sue District

Update: A judge has issued a restraining order to prevent the boundary change from occurring. The court will reconvene in December.

My thoughts: The School District needs to settle out of court-take whatever hit is required, and move on. This could have, rather should have, been handled without a lawsuit.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Citizenship at 11/15/2006 02:38:00 PM

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Guest Bloggers] North Salt Lake is going High Tech...

I've read some controversy about the new electronic sign that is going in in the roundabout as you head up the hill. The controversy was over having something so distracting in the center of an already confusing non-intersection.

My concern is also with placement. Why in the world would the city put a sign that is supposed to announce important city-related things in an area where huge portions of the city will never see it, or even possibly be aware that it exists?

It's not something that you could see easily (or read at all) from highway 89, if you happened to be coming into the city that way. It's obvious that no location would ideal for all city residents, but placing it at the CITY BUILDING sure would have made a lot more sense.

I hate to get into "the hill people" versus "us low landers" types of arguments, but this seems a case where the city council was not thinking about all of the people they represent. I know there are good, honest people on our city council, but it is interesting that there are no city council members living below orchard drive. Seems like "us low landers" need to get a little more involved...

Posted by Allie to Davis County Watch: Guest Bloggers at 11/14/2006 02:17:00 PM

Monday, November 13, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Creative Solutions] Is Blogging a Perfect Fit?

I've come up with a list of circumstances which might make blogging a good outlet. You might consider becoming a blogger if you are:

A reformed, non-profit, spammer. Do you forward unsolicited email to your family, or friends, because you think it your duty to 'set them straight'? Blogging can save your friendships! All those people who thought you'd become too obnoxious, or annoying, will now love you. How could they feel otherwise, they hardly hear from you anymore. They don't read your blog, and they never read your emails.

Disenfranchised. Vote not counted? Crushed by your city manager? Don't have a voice? Is nobody listening? People who blog can, at least, pretend that they are being heard because, after all, you're on google aren't you? Are you a politician that recently lost an election? Instead of sending emails, and letters to all the people that ruined your life, start blogging. Soon that warm feeling you got when you thought everybody loved you will slowly return.

Unable to make enough time in the day. Blogging will, actually, free up more time in the day. This might be a surprise, until you realize that blogging will save you from having to send that letter to the editor. It will help you to organize your thoughts. In fact, blogging is such a noble enterprise, that you'll feel totally justified saying, "I know I should have patched that hole in my roof, but I was blogging."

Far too important to be blogging. You are, in fact, the perfect candidate to become a blogger, because you have already mastered the thing to which all bloggers aspire--The huge ego. Rant, rave, blast the, so called, establishment. Bring everybody down a notch. Arbitrarily delete comments. Belittle, berate, and people will recognize you for what you are. Best of all, you get to keep your superiority complex.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Creative Solutions at 11/13/2006 09:29:00 AM

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Announcements] Blogging without a name (Not even a fake one)

A new, anonymous, blogger has started writing about South Davis County. Here is what I can surmise about them.

  • They've, likely, tried blogging before.
  • They probably live in Bountiful now.
  • They grew up in Bountiful, attended Bountiful High School, and were taught by, one, Kim Burningham.
I always have a hard time swallowing the concept of someone who posts anonymously, but this guy(yes, I think they are male) doesn't even use a handle! How shall I refer to them? S.D. Dude? As far as I'm concerned, someone, who can't even be identified, won't get much attention. Even I've been lambasted by the Clipper's editorial page.

Little, old, me.

Mr. S.D. Guy's website

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Announcements at 11/07/2006 03:39:00 PM

Monday, November 06, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Elections]Christening the New Government

Whatever happens on Tuesday, we can be sure that a sizable chunk of the populace will be disappointed in the results. Just as we are certain that, many will be indifferent, although they weighed in for one candidate, or one ballot initiative-perhaps, without thinking, in the booth.

For those of us who care about whom is elected, let me offer this one positive outlook. No matter which individual takes office in January. No matter which party marks the win, or which special interest group, our government is never divorced from our influence. It isn't some Cruise ship that comes ashore, only, every two years for a visit. We are in this government. It is a part of us, not we of it.

Think of what could have happened, in recent years, if certain elected officials got their way.

  • 138% tax increase
  • NSL becomes Orchard Hills
  • No "Legacy Highway"
  • Constitutional Flag burning amendment
Now what about the future? What more could we, the electorate, do?

[Davis County Watch: Creative Solutions] Another Check and Balance for Diebold

I Just had a thought regarding the accuracy of the vote on Tuesday. Much has been said about whether the vote could actually be hacked, and I want to pile onto that discussion.

What happens if, I, the voter become momentarily, insane, or ill, while voting? Consider the following scenario, and tell me where I'm wrong. What if, in the midst of voting for my candidate I have a stroke, and my left arm goes limp? Since I'm right-handed, I might never know that I just stroked out! Is my vote still good? Now I've, recently, learned that a good way to tell if you are having a stroke is to raise both arms high above the head, speak a sentence out loud, and smile. If you can do those three things, then you're not having a stroke.

This brings us to my proposal for stroke free vote. Let's redesign the voting machines to require the voter to raise both arms, and turn two keys simultaneously, while smiling, and saying the words, "My voice is my password". This should, forever, cure the world of stroke-based voting errors.

Now if we could only come up with a way to check for insanity-based voting.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Creative Solutions at 11/06/2006 12:56:00 PM

Thursday, November 02, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Guest Bloggers] Can't decide who to support for State School Board?

Well, you're not alone. Chris Barden's campaign director wasn't sure, even after he'd taken the job with the Barden campaign.

Ben Horsely (who, incidentally, is a staffer for Rob Bishop) received a payment of $1,400 from Barden on September 22nd for his campaign director duties. On September 28th, he came to a meet the candidate event I had organized for Kim. I asked him if he supported Kim. He said he wasn't sure - that he'd just come to get some information to help him decide which candidate to support. I hope he's figured it out. Kim Burningham is the best choice for Utah's schools.

Posted by NatGo to Davis County Watch: Guest Bloggers at 11/02/2006 08:35:00 AM

Monday, October 30, 2006

[Davis County Watch: Announcements] The Blog that wouldn't post

I've discovered a defect in my little hack to post topically on DCW (that's short for Davis County Watch). If I save a draft of my post, or the blog automatically saves a draft, then it doesn't get put up on the parent blog. So, I'm ditching this scheme, and I'm going to try the Blogger Beta. Give me a week or so to work up the guts to take the plunge, and we'll be back, and better than ever.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Announcements at 10/30/2006 10:11:00 AM

[Davis County Watch: Election] Question the Candidates

I have been asked to post the following Q&A's on several of our County and State Candidates. The submitter asked that I keep them anonymous, and I'll respect that. For those of you, my readers, that have an insight into whom this might be, please keep it to yourselves.

I've modified the format, slightly, for stylistic purposes.

Candidates, feel free to offer corrections, and additions in the comments. If I were subject to the same rules as the MSM, I would, probably, not post the comments from candidates that came unanswered by the opposition, but I am not subject to those rules. Therefore, one Commission Candidate(Miller) gets a free ride. I invite his opponent(Millburn) to respond, as is his right. Anyway, I've covered a lot on Millburn, and Miller on this blog, so I don't feel terrible about this post. As it stands, this late in the game, it's a little unfair to expect an immediate response from anyone, if we also expect the candidates to be hitting the pavement, and knocking on doors. A week before the election, all good candidates should be very hard to reach, open-door policies notwithstanding.

Submitted by: Anonymous



1. There will be quite a bit of pressure from many groups regarding projects/programs which would require tax monies. How, as commissioner, would you do to determine when to place a proposition on the ballot vs. when to tell the group to go out to the community to either collect the funds necessary themselves or gather the requisite signatures to place the initiative on the ballot themselves? Feelings on a RAP tax?

2. What do you consider/define “core functions of government”?

3. When should tax increases be considered? What criteria would you use to cut spending/programs? Are there any you would cut now?

4. How would you address the senior center/flood control issues?

Identity Theft (this also, somewhat, ties into illegal immigration)

5. Would you support requiring the county to verify (using free Federal Programs) the SSN of new hires as well as requiring those to whom the county contracts to?

STATE HOUSE: Questions


1. What would you propose to do with a tax surplus?

2. What do you consider/define “core functions of government”?


3. What do you propose to do regarding granting of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants?

4. What do you propose to do regarding granting of driver privilege cards?

ID Theft

5. Would you support requiring the State/Businesses to verify the SSN of those they hire (using free Federal programs)?


6. What are your attitudes regarding the funding of public education and tuition tax credits/vouchers?

Gas Prices

7. Do you feel price gouging is occurring? Why/Why not?


8. What are you feelings regarding concealed weapons permit issues (in schools etc etc)


Bret Millburn (Seat A – Republican)

***Unable to reach. Bad luck on my part (whenever I called, no one was home!)?***

Rob Miller (Seat A – Democrat)

Q1. There will be quite a bit of pressure from many groups regarding projects/programs which would require tax monies. How, as commissioner, would you do to determine when to place a proposition on the ballot vs. when to tell the group to go out to the community to either collect the funds necessary themselves or gather the requisite signatures to place the initiative on the ballot themselves? Feelings on a RAP tax?

A1. There is an established procedure for ballot issues. Not sure of details but current commission follows it. However, if it is an issue with strong support it is worth studying. RAP tax isn't necessary but is a quality of life issue and would support placing it on the ballot. Emphasized that he doesn't want to raise taxes but taxes are needed for certain issues. Doesn't believe taxes are the answer to everything. Noted that he went into a business that was losing $40K/month – he cut the waste and turned it into a profitable operation. Would bring that same mentality to the commission. Trim fat first before looking at taxes.

Q2. What do you consider/define “core functions of government”?

A2. Flood control, infrastructure, roads, Dept of Health, corridor preservation. Shouldn't legislate morality nor be anti-business. Some social services are appropriate: meth is a growing problem and treatment would be cheaper and more effective than simply housing a prisoner (noted SL Co. found it cost $10/day? in a recovery program rather than $80/day? in prison. Obviously not all meth users etc would qualify for recovery – certain criteria would have to be met.

Q3. When should tax increases be considered? What criteria would you use to cut spending/programs? Are there any you would cut now?

A3. Doesn't believe in protecting people from themselves – RAP is Ok if people are happy with it and willing to pay. Go back East to see how high property taxes can be. Pledged that he would NOT vote for new property taxes during his 4 year term.

Q4. How would you address the senior center/flood control issues?

A4. ***My bad – I forgot to ask him about the flood control/senior issues – Sorry!!!***

Q5. Would you support requiring the county to verify (using free Federal Programs) the SSN of new hires as well as requiring those to whom the county contracts to?

A5. Fully supports requiring county and contractor SSN verification.

Louenda Downs (Seat B – Republican)

Q1. There will be quite a bit of pressure from many groups regarding projects/programs which would require tax monies. How, as commissioner, would you do to determine when to place a proposition on the ballot vs. when to tell the group to go out to the community to either collect the funds necessary themselves or gather the requisite signatures to place the initiative on the ballot themselves? Feelings on a RAP tax?

A1. [Specifically addressed RAP tax as an example]. First ask, do citizens want it and is great interest expressed – if so support placing on ballot, but would understand that commission must be willing to 'take heat' for doing so. Wouldn't support placing every request on a ballot. Also, proposals must demonstrate that they wouldn't over-burden taxpayers.

Q2. What do you consider/define “core functions of government”?

A2. State/Fed constitutions define to a point. Essentially represent the people and provide services necessary spelled out by policy/statute. Stated RAP wouldn't fit her definition but depends on how it is pursued (some could argue it relates to tourism), nevertheless after defining 'core functions', she may have to reconsider RAP and it must be more clearly defined as to how it would meet these criteria.

Q3. When should tax increases be considered? What criteria would you use to cut spending/programs? Are there any you would cut now?

A3. Taxes should be a last resort. There are many ways to take care of services rather than immediately turning to taxes. Every option should be explored first. Commissioners must remember they represent the people including their pocketbooks. Taxes are crushing to many. Better planning is needed as the commission appeared to avoid addressing cost increases leading to the large tax increase proposal. People should initially be brought together to find an alternative solution to taxation. Worthy to look at cutting programs and fat in programs, although this can be limited by statutory requirements (eg. mandated funding levels etc).

Q4. How would you address the senior center/flood control issues?

A4. Bring a group together that understands the problem and is tied to the community. Initially look for sources of alternative funding. Wonders why plan for flood control infrastructure wasn't addressed until now. Believes grants could help as well as pursuing other funding options other than taxes.

Q5. Would you support requiring the county to verify (using free Federal Programs) the SSN of new hires as well as requiring those to whom the county contracts to?

A5. Feels inclined to support, but hasn't heard enough about the programs etc and would like to garner more information prior to taking a strong stance on SSN verification.

Chris Martinez (Seat B – Democrat)

Q1. There will be quite a bit of pressure from many groups regarding projects/programs which would require tax monies. How, as commissioner, would you do to determine when to place a proposition on the ballot vs. when to tell the group to go out to the community to either collect the funds necessary themselves or gather the requisite signatures to place the initiative on the ballot themselves? Feelings on a RAP tax?

A1. Initiate a complete study of the project/program. Meet with citizens for their opinion remembering it is your money we're dealing with. Felt it is fine for the commission to place a RAP tax on the ballot.

Q2. What do you consider/define “core functions of government”?

A2. Wouldn't include 'nice to haves'. Conference Center likely shouldn't be considered a core function but we're not really paying for it. Senior's don't need a 'nice to have building' but should have something they can freely move around in. A RAP tax would be ok assuming the moneys were used for their defined purpose and not siphoned off to other areas of government – then again, RAP would be mostly city administered rather than county.

Q3. When should tax increases be considered? What criteria would you use to cut spending/programs? Are there any you would cut now?

A3. Study the project first and invite citizens to comment upon it. Should cut spending by first conducting a wage study as the Commissioner's salaries appear very high. Cut COLAs for the commissioners. Conduct a wage study for the entire county. Include a study on current spending – doesn't feel that we have full fiscal accountability in all county depts (ie waste). We should have a surplus, but don't.

Q4. How would you address the senior center/flood control issues?

A4. Supports senior center and flood controls but believes that available state/fed/other grants could fund the projects. Wonders why the county hadn't planned for the eventual maintenance/repairs of the flood controls.

Q5. Would you support requiring the county to verify (using free Federal Programs) the SSN of new hires as well as requiring those to whom the county contracts to?

A5. Issue is mostly federal but runs to lowest level. Wouldn't allow false SSNs to be used – favors the proposal to verify SSNs prior to employment etc.


Beth Holbrook (Democrat)

Q1. What would you propose to do with a tax surplus?

A1. Should look at better funding for education. Doesn't believe their needs are adequately funded. Should also look at funding for transportation to give people as many options as possible. Also consider a 'rainy day fund'.

Q2. What do you consider/define “core functions of government”?

A2. Basic functions such as police functions etc. Obviously we shouldn't throw money at everything. Some gray areas such as the $2 mil Emergency Medicaid Fund shortfall that was covered by private individuals last session may be in government's interest. RAP/Open space could also be a gray area depending on circumstances – need to look at it in a long term perspective, if we only have 50 acres left, do we allow them to be developed or maintain them as an open space?

Q3. What do you propose to do regarding granting of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants?

A3. Attended UofU President's event. Only 27 students are using the benefit and working to citizenship. So far there is no comprehensive national solution. At least we could create citizens who are a value to society.

Q4. What do you propose to do regarding granting of driver privilege cards?

A4. Shouldn't issue the licenses. People from other states are coming here for them. Fraud seems to be rampant as the current system stands and it needs to be fixed.

Q5. Would you support requiring the State/Businesses to verify the SSN of those they hire (using free Federal programs)?

A5. ID theft/fraud is rampant. There is easy availability via computer programs/thefts etc. Hasn't heard much about the SSN verification systems and would have to look into it further. Grey area of government intervention. Employers should be allowed to run businesses as they wish but they do have repercussions and affect others by their practices. SSN verification is something that should be studied.

Q6. What are your attitudes regarding the funding of public education and tuition tax credits/vouchers?

A6. Touchy subject. Many feel their children aren't getting the education they should and want control. However, public ed. Is funded by society as a whole and allow government scrutiny (sometimes too much). Concerned private wouldn't have the same scrutiny as public ed schools thereby not allowing a good comparison. Theoretically, we could pay for Johnny to learn to paint a fence (NOTE: she, strongly, specified that she doesn't believe that actually occurs). Worth looking at certain aspects of education, but taking $2200 out no wouldn't be helpful.

Q7. Do you feel price gouging is occurring? Why/Why not?

A7. Believes some sort of investigation is in order. Large corps making huge profits may need more scrutiny to avoid any more ENRON-type issues. Ultimately, a gray area where government intervention could be overbearing, but oil is a limited market dealing with a commodity everyone depends on (affects every part of our lives). If investigation reveals prices are simple supply and demand, then let the subject go.

Q8. What are you feelings regarding concealed weapons permit issues (in schools etc etc)

A8. Supports with the current guidelines in place. Doesn't feel well informed about the issue. Possibly schools could ban them. [Asked for more info. - specifically if there are any legal/vigilante issues with concealed permit holders and if I, as a parent would be comfortable with a teacher having a firearm. I noted that permit holders have much lower crime rates than the general population and have regular background checks run on them by the regulating agency. Personally know several permit holders and you would never know it unless they told you. Also noted that I do have a child in school and that I would feel much more comfortable if they had something to defend my child with should a lock down occur and an assailant attempt to harm anyone in their class]. She noted that my comments eased her concern and that my armed teacher point did make sense. Additionally noted that an armed teacher may also aid in avoiding any confrontation whatsoever as most criminals etc prefer to be unopposed (ie initially keeping them away or resulting in their withdrawal from the venue prior to any conflict.

Robert Moultrie (Constitution)

Q1. What would you propose to do with a tax surplus?

A1. Return the surplus to the tax payers.

Q2. What do you consider/define “core functions of government”?

A2. Core functions mean bare bones – public safety, protection of freedom of expression, religion. Laws framed to protect and maintain property rights etc. If it's not in the UT constitution it is not necessary. Programs would have to be looked at in a case-by-case basis.

Q3. What do you propose to do regarding granting of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants?

A3. End the in-state tuition program for illegal immigrants.

Q4. What do you propose to do regarding granting of driver privilege cards?

A4. End the driver privilege card program.

Q5. Would you support requiring the State/Businesses to verify the SSN of those they hire (using free Federal programs)?

A5. Fully supports SSN verification

Q6. What are your attitudes regarding the funding of public education and tuition tax credits/vouchers?

A6. Initially, vouchers may be good (short term). However, is concerned that private schools could become dependent upon them and, over the long term, the government would begin to attach strings to the vouchers thereby creating a new class of public schools under government control. Would prefer ending public education system altogether, but that is unlikely to occur.

Q7. Do you feel price gouging is occurring? Why/Why not?

A7. Support the free market but thinks it worthy of an investigation. If investigation indicates it is free market at work, then so be it. Believes that consumers have responsibility in where they purchase fuel from however also feels that long established oil companies may be suppressing competition (and full free market effects). Cited example that many of these oil companies are the largest/chief funding sources of environmental groups. The environmental groups lobby/sue etc to create stricter controls and more red tape for startup oil companies making it virtually impossible to build new refineries etc resulting in a hindrance to free market forces. [note: he never cast the impression that this was some kind of 'conspiracy' and should not be taken as such. Essentially, he was stating a potential tactic used by the established oil companies to suppress startups from entering the market].

Q8. What are you feelings regarding concealed weapons permit issues (in schools etc etc)

A8. Fully supports permit holder's rights to carry. Fully supports the 2nd Amendment.

Paul Neuenschwander (Republican)

Q1. What would you propose to do with a tax surplus?

A1. There is a spending limit of $80 million with the exception of Education and Transportation. It would require the legislature to raise the cap or exempt other areas of the cap. With surpluses, we should consider all opportunities first. It might be wise to look at a 0.25% tax increase for transportation corridors. Favors returning as much as possible to taxpayers – taking into consideration what government can do with it.

Q2. What do you consider/define “core functions of government”?

A2. Public safety, public education, constitutionally defined items, assistance with drug/alcohol abuse – would like to see more programs as he believes they assist in public safety. [Asked if RAP/open space tax proposals would fall in as a core function]. Is it government responsibility? No. But he has supported both and will continue to do so – will also consider how they might affect his district.

Q3. What do you propose to do regarding granting of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants?

A3. Feels opposed to in-state tuition but under a hundred people are using it right now (attended a UofU President's event on the matter). UofU event argued that we put them through high school – do we continue to improve their way of life?

Q4. What do you propose to do regarding granting of driver privilege cards?

A4. Opposed driver privilege cards – it entices them and others to the state.

Q5. Would you support requiring the State/Businesses to verify the SSN of those they hire (using free Federal programs)?

A5. May be hard for small business – why place burden on them [I noted the programs were free and returned results in short time frames – oftentimes minutes, depending on the program]. Understands how it could help but what do we do if they don't verify? Fine them? Businesses shouldn't have to do it but supports the idea/goal.

Q6. What are your attitudes regarding the funding of public education and tuition tax credits/vouchers?

A6. Hasn't accepted money form the UEA or tax credit/voucher folks. Education has been given a $245 mil. Increase last year and 300% increase over the last 10 years. What should we expect for that money? Not willing to commit to either side until he can study issue/proposals and get further answers to questions.

Q7. Do you feel price gouging is occurring? Why/Why not?

A7. Believes the free market system is at work. Noted that there is some recent interest in opening a refinery in Vernal. Government shouldn't come along and ask businesses regarding their costs and products as may open up their trade secrets.

Q8. What are you feelings regarding concealed weapons permit issues (in schools etc etc)

A8. Supports the 2nd Amendment, but believes some restrictions are appropriate – such as a ban firearms (including concealed weapons permit holders) in schools and churches.

Posted by Tyler Farrer to Davis County Watch: Election at 10/30/2006 08:33:00 AM