Monday, June 18, 2007

Shurtleff: "The buck stops there"

KCPW has an interesting story this morning about an open letter sent by Mark Shurtleff to Utah educators (on his own nickel, I doubt hope, or perhaps out of his exploratory senate campaign fund). The letter clears up a few things. For one thing, it was just a harmless old "opinion" that he gave the state School Board about the voucher bills:

Neither I, nor my office, was involved in the voucher debate until Governor Huntsman asked for an opinion on the effect of House Bill 174 and whether it could stand on its own should HB 148, the other voucher bill, be rejected on a referendum vote. State law required me to give my legal opinion, and to begin with the presumption that HB 174 was valid.
Guess all those quotes about him insisting, demanding, mandating compliance by the State Board with his "opinion" were wrong. Oh, that's another thing Shurtleff cleared up. Remember when he said, "I have given them my opinion, I am the attorney general, and until a court stays the implementation of that law you have a duty as a public agency to obey the law." Well, it wasn't so much "his" opinion as, like, other people's:

With the help of several attorneys within our office (Democrats and Republicans, voucher proponents and opponents) we arrived at the conclusion that HB 174 was imperfect, but it still contained enough information to be considered a valid law. It was passed as a separate bill and signed by the governor and was not challenged by the referendum process. The Utah Supreme Court reached a different conclusion. I respect the judicial process and am pleased there is clarity for voters.
Remember, there's no I in We!

Yep, those other people in his office really screwed up. It takes all the fun out of press conferences and getting one's picture in the paper if the people who come up with your opinions are just going to make you look silly. Because we all know that Shurtleff would have welcomed contrary opinions with open arms, would happily have rendered any random opinion that his underlings came up with, even one that irritated a conservative base that is already mad at him for being an illegal immigrant coddler. Thank goodness they came up with one that would fly well at, say, a GOP convention in which senatorial candidates are chosen...

The rest of Shurtleff's letter is on KCPW's site. Our executive summary: "Don't be mad at me. I might make it through the GOP convention, but I'll still need your votes in the general election."


Part of the Plan said...

I had much the same reaction as you after reading his letter. Sounded to me like he was shifting responsibility for his incorrect "opinion" to his staff. Which is not something you want to see in an alleged "leader". In the Army we had a saying: You can delegate authority, but you can never delegate responsibility.

Shurtleff has assumed the position of my Number One Least Respected Utah Politician.

Voice of Utah said...

Shurtleff is happy to accept responsibility if it means his name/picture in the paper, but not when he actually gets called on something.