Thursday, June 28, 2007

This is good. The State School Board has their organization. Now legislators have one too.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

This November we'll get a chance to vote on a 25 cent tax increase earmarked for transportation. The Utah Taxpayer has already come out against it. Not surprisingly, the County Commission of Davis County has been heard giving such illuminating pearls as follows.

Well, with informational quotations such as this, I'm glad that Utah Taxpayer is weighing in with some logic.
"Raising sales taxes for transportation is a bad idea. Increased sales taxes do not encourage commuters to change driving habits by telecommuting, carpooling or living closer to work."

When Local Bloggers Attack...

Fight back.

Mark Towner rarely comes up with any original content on his site, meaning he copies wholesale from other sources, but when he does can you say "lawsuit"?

He plans to sue another local blogger, Jesse Harris for "slander"(Does he mean libel?). Jesse isn't taking this sitting down, and plans to fight back.

Is it any wonder that Towner has garnered so many enemies, both liberal and conservative?

Voter's Shoot Down Pool

Right now I'm pining for an alternate universe in which the citizens in this County base decisions on what makes a better government, instead of a bigger pool. Recently, North Ogden residents voted no on an initiative to expand the swimming facility for the city.

Rightly so.

That being said, I'm still the go-to place if you want information on the South Davis Recreation Center. I beg of anyone to tell me whether a used boondoggle is a better boondoggle. I'm not sure I can wrap my head around that concept.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Voucher Proponents Playbook

The Coolest Family Ever picked up on my voucher end-game post and elaborated on some key ideas pertinent to vouchers.

I point you to this, not because I have proven to be the fastest draw in the west on the Jonah Goldberg piece, but because Jesse has been extremely thoughtful and detailed in his post.

It's a good read.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Use For The Second Amendment

It's time to be like Mitt and get out your varmint gun.

See, the county is going to start charging residents to euthenize raccoons and the like.

It'll be cheaper to just do 'em in yourself.

Please, please leave the Guatemalans alone! They worked hard to get to your front lawn. They've been through enough.

One More Bigot

After I learned of my own bigotry regarding skaters, I took comfort in one thing.

I'm only one skater bigot.

Now there are at least two such bigots. The other is Mayor Tom Dolan, who bears a certain resemblance to a Mr. Moneybags. He has shut down a skate park in Sandy until its patrons can show more "discipline".

See that's bigoted to call skaters 'undisciplined' like that.

The Mayor should know that, but he's gone and crossed a minority group anyway. What's even more disconcerting is the photo showing Sandy's skate park is behind a fence.

That concerns me because North Salt Lake wants to fence in the skate park to improve the situation and ease tensions between skaters and other groups. It would ease my mind just knowing that a cage like this existed.

Or would it?

Now I understand that Dolan isn't satisfied with a cage, I probably won't be either.

People with prejudices simply cannot be appeased.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Steering County Growth

SL Trib on County growing pains.

"Being Painted Strange"

An interview with Steve Urquhart has been posted on The Blau Exchange. One thing that Urquhart knows, despite how he has been 'painted' by opponents, is how to employ technology to make the legislative process more transparent to all.

Hat tip: Steve Urquhart

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Foul, Reeking, Pollution

My family went to Hatch park last night and encountered a foul-mouthed teenager that made me cringe. Those were not words I wanted to teach my kids.

How many times does approaching a person and asking them kindly to stop just lead to more profanity, or ridicule?

I didn't ever find out if my politely asking would have ended the infraction because the kids stopped swearing before I could get over to them.

On a similar note, the Davis County Health Department has banned smoking in public. (Golfers remain unprotected by Daddy-County Health).

We don't ban the exhaust from automobiles, and we don't ban refineries.

What do you think?

The Pitfalls Of Democracies Vs. Republics

There were two dissenting votes to a resolution urging the implementation of a $10 transportation fee. Both the Mayor of North Salt Lake and Clinton argued against the fee.

I wonder how they would feel about a vote on a .25 cent sales tax hike coming in November?

I don't, frankly, know how I feel about these votes--Referendum or Initiative that take accountability from the elected and place it squarely no one.

I mean, are we supposed to hold the anonymous voter accountable?

Voucher Supporters: Court Ruling Could Have Been Worse

Freshman Legislator, Kay McIff(R) isn't off to the most conservative start at the Utah House of Representatives. McIff is lockstep with another Republican of questionable conservative credentials, Sheryl Allen, and ranks under the top three most conservative Democrats.

Before I'm accused of breaking the eleventh commandment, I'll take a divergent course and talk about vouchers and which tactics are intellectually honest. McIff had suggested, before the Supreme Court offered clarification, that the legislature ought to take care of the voucher issue by forgetting that they ever had passed an amendment.

Reasonable people, have, and will disagree about this idea. The ultimate result of the court decision accomplished nearly what McIff had suggested. I say nearly, because the amendment comes back if the voters support the primary voucher law in November. Under McIff's proposal it would not. But, the court's motives and purpose were also different than McIff and his cohorts. The court argued that the amendment could not stand alone due to a question of process, not a question of outcome. The Supreme Court did not, or should not, care whether or not vouchers are ultimately passed. The court ought not to consider whether the law is nice, but only whether it is constitutional.

McIff, it appears, had a different idea about why the second amendment bill should be eliminated. His reason, it seems clear, was to make the voucher law a better target for those who wish to kill it.

I have two reasons that support the above assertion. One, the amendment bill was passed to satisfy the demands of those now opposed to the voucher law. (Suddenly they want to get rid of it?) Two, under McIff's plan, the voucher law would have been less palatable then it is now under the courts ruling. McIff is openly opposed to the voucher law, and wants its repeal.

So, despite what some might say, the supreme court decision was not a clear win for voucher opponents. The next battle will be decided, very clearly, at the ballot box in November.

Note: I have previously praised McIff for taking the high road, and I'm open to the possibility of praising him once again.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Do Away With Public Schools?

Of all places, I found a conservative article in the L.A. Times, and by noted columnist Jonah Goldberg to boot!

That being said, what Goldberg is suggesting may not make it into your particular medicine bag. I give it here as food for thought, without commentary. (Though, you've had much commentary from me on the subject before, so you might...might guess my view. But, then again, you've been wrong before.)

L.A. Times: Do away with public schools

Monday, June 11, 2007

Legacy Highway Moving

Legacy Highway is progressing, beginning in North Salt Lake.

Hat tip: Deseret News"

And That Means What?

"We talked about several concerns in [closed] executive session"

--Councilman Lynn Ballard on why he dissented on Gravel Pit development.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Vouchers: Back To The Nitty Gritty

Now that we know the effect of an up or down vote on Vouchers, it's back to the Pro's and Con's.

Representative Dougall has a nice rebuttal of some common anti-voucher arguments. Although, his parenthetical comments on number five shed more heat than light.

Clarity (From Me) On Vouchers

Let me make my feelings clear on the courts voucher ruling.

  1. The Utah Supreme Court was right to rule in the way that they did, although I favor vouchers.
  2. The Supreme Court ought to be originalist in their reading of the law, not activist.
  3. The Governor showed no spine in pushing the decision on the wrong branch of government. (The right branch would be the Legislature)
  4. Blame for the voucher law confusion falls upon the heads of the legislature, not those that produced the referendum. Initiative, or referendum, do not a clear, or murky, law make.
  5. As many as can vote should vote in November.

Clearing The Air On Judicial Activism

It has been said that it is the pro-voucher folks who favor judicial activism, but I have cited one case of an anti-voucher person, Earl Christenson, who asked the Utah Supreme Court in testimony to be activist.

Please tell me who on the pro-voucher side is also pro-judicial activism?

Judical Activism: Who is Earl Christensen?

  • He has clients who initiated the voucher referendum process.
  • He spoke to the Utah Supreme Court as a 'party of interest'.
  • He wanted the Court to be Activist by changing the ballot language when two Justices said the Court had no authority to do so.
  • He said, "I don't think that the Legislature is the appropriate place to correct this".

Listen and decide, but he doesn't sound pro-voucher to me.

Utah Supreme Court Dismisses Judicial Activism Request

Please take careful note of this exchange between Mr. Christenson, and Justice Wilkins. (My apologies on my spelling, I transcribed this myself).

Justice Wilkins: "Mister Christenson, the difficulty that we face, obviously, is that the ballot title statute limits our legal authority to modify ballot title to 'patent falsehood, or bias'. Is there something about the ballot title that is either 'patently false, or biased'?"

Christenson: "I do understand that limitation, but I think this case is so unique, and so unusual, that to simply submit the form of 148 to the voters without their knowing the effect of their vote--that of course could come later in a subsequent proceeding-- but, it will chill the enthusiasm for people involved in this vital issue. It will probably limit the voter out turn, and I think this court has the power. It's been given this task by the legislature. This court has the power to say that under these very unusual circumstances--uh, I have not seen a case like this--"

Justice: "Uh, we have! Not..not with this many folks. But, everyone that comes to us with a ballot title concern feels just as vitally concerned as you and your folks do. And, um, the legislature has given us authority by statute to address it, but they have severely limited that authority, and if you want us to do something that's outside that authority you better help us find a way to do it!"
The Justice is right that it is not the courts place to legislate. Of course, the court has subsequently found that HB 174 does not stand on its own. Go here to listen to the whole exchange yourself.

I agree with the court that the legislature has created this mess by not being clear in the two bills. The Governor should have jumped in and called a special session for the purpose of clearing the air.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Do Unions Help Anyone?

17 out of 900 Davis County employees have joined a union, the U.A.G.E. which represents government employees from Salt Lake through Ogden. The question is, is this helpful to county employees and the county itself?

Unions seem to be a dinosaur that has outlived its usefulness. Of course, government can be antediluvian too. My reading says that unions can save a persons job if it is in jeopardy, raising the point that some jobs may not be worth saving--a government job worth saving? Unions can negotiate higher wages, or it can do what it has done for unionized teachers and pit the administrations best interests against those of the teachers. Which is why school administrators count themselves among the number of teachers, when the legislature is passing out 'teacher' raises.

Unions participate in politics in a very partisan way, entrenching its members in political movements that may not enrich anyone but the union.

I'll say it again. Who is helped by unions?

Contact Info: South Davis Recreation Center

550 North 200 West
Bountiful, UT 84010
Phone: 801-298-6220 (redirects to

Office Hours:
Mon.-Fri. 5am-9pm
Sat. 6am-9pm
Sun. 11am-4pm

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Keeping Tabs On Vouchers

How many of you are reeling, as I am, from the slings and arrows cast in the last week on the voucher imbroglio?

This is the problem with the 24 hour news cycle. There is often no time to sort things out. Well, consider this moment, an eddy on the river of the news from which you can rest your paddles, and long for the days of yore when the news blackened your fingers instead of your thoughts.

The Players

  • Steve Urquhart -- Legislator, Attorney, and Sponsor of the Voucher Bills/Laws
  • Kim Burningham --Not only the Chairman of the State School Board, but a founding member of Utahns for Public Schools. Burningham presided over the board on a controversial decision to hold the Voucher law implementation until answers could be given to the board.
  • Parents For Choice in Education--Non-profit, funded from outside of Utah, but founded by two Utah entrepreneurs, and heavy contributer to the campaigns of voucher supporters. Most notably, Kim Burningham's opponent in this last election. Clearly, if they are conspiring, they were not very good at ousting the entrenched Burningham, although they have waxed the proverbial floor with others.
  • Utah Supreme Court (less Chief Justice Christine Durham) will hear arguments from both sides on June 8th.
  • Democratic Legislature--A group unanimously opposed, not only to vouchers, but to those who promote them.
  • The Senate Site--Not the Republicans majority caucus-proper, but the anonymous version of the same. Supporters of all things voucher.
  • Mark Shurtleff --Attorney General of Utah, and advisor to the State School Board and Governors Office. The A.G. has advised the State School Board to implement HB.174.
The Timeline

2/12/2007: HB148-Voucher Bill narrowly passed by one vote, exposing it to the threat of a referendum, is signed by the Governor.
3/6/07 : HB174-Bill intended to "fix" the first voucher bill passes by a much larger margin, 2/3rds majority, and signed into law making it "referendum-proof".
4/30/07: Voucher Referendum Certified by the Lt. Governor
5/15/07: Ballot language written and mailed to the Lt. Governor. Language has HB148 in the title.


Before you ask, I can't say that Governor Huntsman is a player, although he's jumped in and out on this issue. He just hasn't demonstrated strong leadership, one way or another. He doesn't seem to like to play 'hot potato'. Neither am I trying to be predictive about if, or when we do get to vote on this, or another bill. It seems that we might have a special session to clarify, and we might just leave this for the courts to sort out.

Update: My apologies. I neglected to mention Mark Shurtleff as a player in the voucher dispute. Although this list was never intended to be comprehensive, it was to include the 'major' players. For the same reason that I leave off the Governor, I must remember to include the A.G. Shurtleff has been a stand up guy in all of this. Giving his views, and sticking by them. Some will call him 'arrogant' for this, but he is taking a legal viewpoint, which is his job. The news today reveals that he has fired two Attorneys for misrepresenting the view of the Attorney Generals Office, and giving contrary advice.