Sunday, August 22, 2010

The 'Mormon Mosque' flap wasn't just in 1903

This morning's Tribune has a piece about how fear-driven religious prejudice of the short aimed at Muslims these days was also aimed at Mormons back in 1903.

While the article is interesting, if it implies that LDS Temples haven't been subjected to protests since then, it's behind the times. Ask anyone associated with the building of new Temples for the Church - many, if not most, are protested. I remember hearing of one a few years back that eventually had to be relocated, local resistance was so strong.

Any Utah Mormons inclined to be prejudiced toward New York Muslims (or Tennessee Muslims, etc.) should spend some time out of state first. It's not just in the South that Mormons are viewed are still viewed with distrust by a significant portion of the public. Thank goodness for America's long history of religious tolerance, which makes this whole 2-Blocks-From-Ground-Zero-Mosque flap a sad day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The "gender bias" Utah legal profession survey

We read yesterday's article in the Tribune titled Gender bias taints Utah legal profession, which gave us a chance to raise a few questions. Months ago, while the blog was on hiatus, one of us received an e-mail that included the questions from this survey, which seem a bit . . . problematic.

We know someone who started to fill out the survey, but discovered to her dismay that the "anonymous" survey requested enough information that it would not have been difficult to identify her. Years out, position in firm, number of attorneys in firm -- when you're talking female attorneys in a state with relatively few firms, that pretty much narrows it down.

The survey also asked questions that were literally impossible for her to answer. Are you satisifed with the nature of your "assignments," it asked. Assignments? At her firm at least, partners' work is self-generated and/or voluntarily accepted; the question could only be appropriate for a junior attorney.

The survey was further weighted because -- for reasons not identified in the article -- it was limited to attorneys who have been out 25 years or less. Often, with seniority comes power and autonomy, and we suspect that answers would have reflected that. How recent were the anecdotes about discrimination? This particular attorney has some lulus from early in her career, but nothing recent. Times (may) have changed.

We'll reserve judgment until we see the final report, if it ends upposted somewhere. To be continued...

Friday, July 09, 2010

Where's Utah's money from the China 14 "trade" trip?

Quickpost today: It's been three years now since Utah tax dollars sent some 14 legislators and staff on a controversial vacation trade trip to China, including some legislators who had already announced their retirement (Mike Dmitri, Dan Eastman), and Sen. Howard "Utah Taxpayers-For-My-China-Trip Association" Stephenson.

This trip was essential for our economy, House leader David Clark assured taxpayers. It would generate contracts, trade deals, etc. We hope it panned out. Did it? We've wondered. How about a list of those contracts we've scored, Sen. Bramble?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

"Highlights" of Sen. Hatch's Town Hall Meeting last night

Many moons ago, my mother called me while watching the Iran-Contra hearings on TV. "You should see this," she reported. "Hatch is sounding reasonable." At times last night, I could have returned the call. At others, not so much.

Hatch continued to appeal -- try to, anyway -- to the Tea Party /Convention crowd, filling long answers with lots of commiseration about how "they" have ruined everything, "they" are in cahoots with mainsteam media ("Thank goodness for Fox News"), "they" are would-be socialists, etc. Rather patent pandering, I thought.

But I have to give him credit: He didn't kowtow on everything. He defended his TARP vote. He defended the DREAM Act and didn't use the term "illegals," as many questioners did (he said "persons who are here illegally as undocumented workers"). He suggested that reaching across the aisle can be appropriate. He praised adversaries before stating that he simply disagrees with them. He expressed regret that Bob Bennett is out.

In short, except for one yelling match that seemed a bit staged (but effective), he was civil. When the rather rabid crowd attempted to drown out a Democrat's question about health care, he pointed out that she has a right to express her views. He didn't point out the inconsistencies of demanding no more "charity" spending while simultaneously requesting better benefits under Medicare, more spending on Utah projects, etc.

Several questioners thanked Hatch for his service, but said it's time for him to go. And perhaps he sealed his fate when he disagreed with the owner of a transportation company who demanded dramatically that President Obama be impeached (to much hooting and hollering from the 'out-there' crowd). Then again, he did win some attendees over, and voters have short memories. Either way, it's great theater.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Utah conservatives, repeal the car dealer blue law

Yesterday, as I drove past a car dealership, I saw a couple of prospective buyers navigate the barrier to check out a car. Of course, they couldn't buy the car, thanks to our all-wise legislature.

We are often told by the conservative wing of our legislature that the government should not unduly interfere with private business, let the market decide, etc. I will never believe this is a sincere view unless our legislature repeals the un-conservative law it passed several years ago barring car dealerships from being open on Sunday. Oh, technically the dealership must be closed on Saturday or Sunday, but realistically, which one are 99.9% of dealers going to choose? The statute (Utah Code sect. 41-3-210) reads:
(11) (a) Except as provided in Subsection (11)(c) [trade shows], or in cases of undue hardship or emergency as provided by rule by the division, a dealer or salesperson licensed under this chapter may not, on consecutive days of Saturday and Sunday, sell, offer for sale, lease, or offer for lease a motor vehicle.
That's right; you can't even offer to sell a car - so much for that free speech thing. At the time, I asked a senator what in the world was going on, and received the candid response that the legislator pushing the law - a Democrat, if I recall - had done so as a favor to Larry H. Miller. Good grief.

That was then, this is now. Car dealers should be able to decide for themselves whether to be open 7 days a week. What's next - movie theaters can't show movies on consecutive Saturday-Sundays? Realtors can't show houses on Saturday and Sunday?

This is a bad law. Conservative up, Legislature, and get rid of it.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

UHP's illegal-fireworks checks shows how Arizona's law could allow racial profiling

KSL had a rather illuminating story yesterday on how our tax dollars are spent busting Utahns who bring illegal fireworks back from that fireworks-coddling Wyoming. Perhaps most enlightening was the way that the UHP cop blithely seemed to admit making pretext stops in order to check for fireworks.

"Between the 4th and the 24th of July you could almost patrol the entire month and you're going to find something," the trooper was quoted.

According to the ride-along reporter, his first stop was for "a tailgating infraction." Seriously? The next stop was "suspected drowsy driving." (Apparently he wasn't driving poorly enough to suspect drunk driving.) No fireworks found, darn it. Finally, the trooper lucked out with a speeder who, for reasons unknown, fessed up information about his fireworks stash that he had no obligation to volunteer.

This is what I believe opponents of Arizona's new immigration law fear. Under the law (which I have read, including the House amendment), there does have to be an initial unrelated stop, but it can be for anything, including infractions and violation of local ordinances. As we can see from these fireworks busters, that leaves a lot of room for "unrelated" stops.