Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Racial profiling by Utah Highway Patrol? Maybe, but...

From a hospital bed (in true blogger spirit), VOU2 pointed out a story about Sherida Felders alleging racial profiling when a Utah Highway Patrol officer not only ticketed her for speeding, but had her get out of the car, asked her about drugs, made her wait for a drug-sniffing dog to arrive, and took a screwdriver to parts of her car, all for naught.

Was she profiled? Probably. Was it racial? Hard to say. We suspect it may have been a DUM stop - Driving while Unlike Me. One of us has a relative who supplements his regular income by transporting cars cross country. He is white, but has a pony tail. Not surprisingly for someone who drives 50,000+ miles a year, he sometimes gets stopped for speeding.

More often than not, he gets the same treatment as Ms. Felders: First, he is asked about drugs. Then he is asked for permission to search the car. Because these are other people's cars with unknown histories, he was advised by an attorney years ago not to consent to searches. Sometimes the cops, knowing they have nothing other than "pony-tail probable cause," begrudgingly let him go. Sometimes they make him wait for a drug dog. One time he was handcuffed and locked in the back of a cop car for hours while they waited. Nothing has ever been found.

He's not African American, but is he being profiled? Oh, yeah. One of us has been pulled over for speeding a few times, including the same drug alley where Ms. Felders was stopped, and has been sent off with nary a question about drugs or having to wait for Scooby Doober. Imagine that . . . .

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Zions, please kill the Boozer ad

How does it go? "Something, something, determination, something. Zions - We haven't forgotten who keeps us in business." Who? 'cause it ain't Carlos Boozer.

News flash: Carlos is going to have surgery and sit on his behind a few more months. What a shock. I admit it; I hopped on the "dump Boozer" wagon a while back. I listened to my brother call him "Wusser," "[----]er," "Loozer," and "that lazy --------------." I learned that Paul "double double" Millsap was the lowest-paid player on the team. I answered the phone when my mother called mid-game to say, "The Jazz shouldn't let Carlos do color commentary. He doesn't even pretend that he wants to play."

I heard the jokes about the Zions Bank commercial: "They used still photos because Boozer couldn't make it all the way through a layup." "Slow mo? That's live action." "They couldn't show the whole film; Boozer signed with Wells Fargo before they were done making it." Etc.

I have struggled with the Jazz-ticket concept for years. Each year (except for a Brokeback Mountain boycott), I signed up for shared tickets, but would feel a twinge as I walked past a homeless individual or realized what the Humane Society or the Red Cross could do with the ridiculous sums of money I was forking over. Unfortunately, I love the Jazz. I tape games. I rewatch close ones (when we win). I time my jogging so I can do it while watching a game or listening to Hot Rod. I went to Sloan's first game while recovering from surgery.

But I am sick of the "Oh, I stubbed my toe, I'd better sit out for six weeks" vibe we get from even our own players now. As someone who watched John Stockton and Karl Malone play through dislocations and everything else, I have a hard time when Andre Kirilenko rides the pine because of a sprained finger tip. It's the same trainer that Karl and John had -- what could be the difference? You say advice from agents; I say wussiness.

What does this have to do with Utah politics? OK, nothing. But I feel better.

Does this mean Oprah won't like my new heartwarming memoir?

I am hoping that the revelation that Oprah has been fooled multiple times by really cool books that turn out to be really bogus won't cause her to pass up other classic stories waiting to be told. For example, I have just finished my memoirs, revealing for the first time the true story of how I met my true love during a true weekend moon mission many years ago.

An excerpt:
Our eyes met. "Glurp," it said. I looked around, to be sure that no one would see us.

Of course, I could not speak its language, but I had to try. "Do you want some soup?" I gestured with my hands. "I have some Campbell Extra Chunky Vegetarian."
Yeah, I hear those NASA whiners. "There has never been a private lunar launch from Utah, nor could there be, because [scientific mumbo jumbo deleted]." "It is physically, geometrically, logistically, and scientifically impossible to get to the moon and back in one weekend, even if there is a holiday in there." "This seems nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to procure sponsorship of a major soup manufacturer," blah blah.

First of all, who made NASA the know-all of space travel? Jealous much? Second, I resent the implication that I am just trying to make money off an important subject like space travel. However, this is not the final draft, and my memory is starting to become clearer, Campbell. As I think more about it, it may have been a Pepsi . . .

The Matheson - Salt Lake Weekly feud makes Politico

Checking out Politico this morning, I see that they've picked up on Rep. Jim Matheson (R-Utah)'s 3-year boycott of the Salt Lake City Weekly. Having read the original Holly Mullen column and the comments -- whew, some bitter feelings there -- I have a few thoughts:

It seems silly for a Congressman to boycott an entire newspaper (and yes, I do consider the Weekly legitimate media) for three years for something that occurred before the new editor. But then I've been known to try previously disappointing businesses again when I see an "Under New Management" sign.

Mullen should have gone into more detail about what originally sparked the boycott. Midway through the comments, she provided a link to what she says is the tsk tsk article, but since the whole column was accusing Matheson of overreacting, she should have explored the cause of the alleged overreaction more.

Finally, Hey, Matheson, vote for any torture-indefinite-confinement bills lately?

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Ashley Sparks murder - both sides of the story

Two women were murdered in Salt Lake and Davis counties in the past few days. One was white, the other of Latin heritage. It didn't take long for a few of the nutties to declare Ashley Sparks' death a tragedy, and Noemi Rodriguez's death basically what she gets for having a boyfriend who was undoubtedly Mexican and (therefore) illegal.

It's not the fact that people make assumptions that amazes us (we all do that); it's that their assumptions are so blatantly racist. Neither woman deserved what happened to her, and we hope the perpetrators are caught and severely punished. But how about making assumptions based on something other than whether a victim is wearing a cute Santa hat in her photo?

From a reliable source, we know that a few months ago, Sparks and two others stole a car and went to a county rec facility. Pretending to be a patron, Sparks went into the locker room, where a group of senior women in a swimming class had changed clothes. Sparks changed clothes, but instead of working out, she instead went through all the purses and bags that she could find. Finding a set of electronic car keys, Sparks walked out with them, located the car via the flashing lights, and she and her companions stole the car. Sparks then changed clothes again and went to a bank, where she attempted to cash an $800 check on the senior's account. Fortunately, the victim had already called the bank, and Sparks was arrested. She also had drugs on her.

This wasn't Sparks' first rodeo. What happened to her was horrible, but please, KSL.commenters, no more "From her picture, she seems so innocent" comments.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Utah vegetarians, beware the "egg-free" flu shot

Recently, a full-page ad in the Tribune offered free no-egg flu shots to Utahns as part of a test program. To a vegetarian, it sounded great. Presently, flu shots are grown in fertilized eggs, which is incompatible with some Utahns' personal beliefs. If you are one of those vegetarians, just an fyi: The free shot does not contain egg, but it does contain monkey cells. Hmm...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The latest failed adoption in Utah

It seems as though every month we read about some adoption that has gone awry. The latest is a couple who has to return a 6-month-old child to his Native American tribe.

I'm sure the prospective parents are distraught, but I would be surprised if this result was really a surprise. There is a relatively clear, 30-year-old federal law: You have to have consent of the tribe to adopt a Native American child. This issue is usually not a close call, unlike, for example, the more complicated issue of whether an out-of-state biological father has met the statutory requirements for challenging an adoption.

While many adoption-related problems are created by adoption agencies who cut corners, lazy lawyers, and Johnny-come-lately biological fathers, some adoptive parents are also willing to subject a child to months or even years of fighting when they know they are likely to lose. (I'm not saying that these parents fall within that category; I have no idea what they were told or when.) Perhaps it is making lemonade out of a lemon, but at least this dispute was resolved in a matter of months, rather than years.

Note: Once again, the "law is the law" contingent on are demonstrating that they don't really mean it. Yeah, it's a clear federal law. Yeah, it's been on the books since 1978. So what? We don't like this law; ergo, it need not be enforced.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Utah political humor: the Constitutional Convention's greatest hits

For anyone who likes political humor, you can't beat Utah's own state constitutional framers. Thanks to Ric Cantrell, who pointed us to the online 1895 Constitutional Convention proceedings, I spent some time this evening enjoying clever and passionate dialogue about pressing issues of the day. Tonight, I want to share some of the funniest bits.

* * * * * *

First, they addressed procedural issues, such as beginning each session with roll call and prayer:

Mr. VARIAN. Don't you mean “prayer and roll call?” Transpose that.

Mr. WHITNEY. No; I think the roll call should be first, because until the roll call, we do not know whether there is a quorum present.

Mr. VARIAN. The minority needs the prayer as much as the quorum.

Mr. CANNON. I would suggest that the prayer usually comes first.

Mr. WHITNEY. My impression is, the roll call should come first.

Mr. EVANS (Weber). Suppose we should have divine exercises and after that the roll were called and there was found not to be a quorum present, the question would be, would the prayer avail anything? [Laughter.]

* * * * * * *

More shenanigans ensued as they discussed the proposed state militia, defined as male citizens aged 18-45:

Mr. MACKINTOSH. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike out the word “male” in the section. [Laughter.]

Mr. CHIDESTER. Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask the gentleman a question, who makes that motion? I want to ask if you belong to the militia?

Mr. MACKINTOSH. Now? Oh, no. I am exempt by the color of my hair.

Mr. CHIDESTER. I am going to say that if he did, for the purpose of improving the militia, I would support his motion. [Laughter.]

* * * * * *

While most participants favored giving women the right to vote, Brigham H. Roberts was a staunch and persistent opponent. In truth, most of his humor appeared to be inadvertent, but this one was intentional:

Mr. ROBERTS. . . . I hold to the doctrine that each man who is married, in the exercise of his privilege of suffrage, is the representative in that act, not only of himself, but of the little group with which he is connected. He acts for his family, and gentlemen must not be carried away with the idea that they act independently of the influence of the wife in that case either. It may suit the fancy of man, it may be accorded by the shrewdness of woman to let him think that that is the case, but as a matter of fact, it is not the case. I think before I get through I shall be able to show you that women already have an influence in politics, and though indirect, it is none the less real, and that when a man who is married casts his vote, it is the expression of the mentality of the group with whom he is connected. The hobo and the bachelor may each for himself cast his ballot with no other consideration than how it affects him; but, gentlemen, the man who is a head of the family does not do it and he cannot do it, because there stands by his side a counsellor and he cannot escape hearing her. [Laughter.]

* * * * * *

So was this witty rebuttal to Roberts' lengthy oratory against suffrage:

Mr. WHITNEY. . . . While he was speaking my mind scanned the pages of history in quest of some hero with whom to compare him. I thought of Horatius at the Roman bridge, standing single-handed and alone, beating back the Tuscan legions advancing to attack the Eternal City; and I fain would have compared my friend to that hero of antiquity. But I could not; because Horatius was fighting for freedom, and in my opinion my eloquent but mistaken friend was fighting against it. [Applause].

I went back farther into the past. I thought of Leonidas and his three hundred Spartans, defending the pass of Thermopylae against the overwhelming hordes of Persians, sweeping down like an avalanche upon his native land. I wanted to compare him to that hero_one of the noblest in history_but again I was met by the reflection that Leonidas fought and fell in a battle for liberty, and I was convinced that my friend from Davis County was taking part in no such engagement. [Applause.]

Then I remembered a little anecdote, one that is doubtless trite and common-place to you all. A bull was feeding in a pasture through which a railway track extended, along which an express train was advancing at lightning speed. The bull got upon the track and tried to prevent the train from passing. He did not seem to know what was coming, and “preferring his free thought to a throne” [laughter], planted himself squarely in the way of the invincible power that came rushing and roaring on. The bull, I say, did not seem to know what was coming, but the farmer, his owner, did [laughter], and with a gasp of astonishment, mingled with admiration he exclaimed: “Well I admire your courage, but d--n your judgment.” [Laughter and applause.]

But I did not like to compare my friend to a dumb animal; he had given convincing proof that he was not dumb; and though there was once an animal that spake [laughter], the property of one Balaam [renewed laughter], it spake by inspiration from on high, so that I could not compare it to the gentleman from Davis County. [Laughter and applause.]

* * * * * *

And this one was just funny:

Mr. GOODWIN. May I ask the gentleman a question? If your amendment passes, suppose an emergency should arise in the Territory that the farmers throughout the Territory would need fifty thousand dollars to buy seed, wheat, and food, to carry them over until another harvest, how could they get the money if your amendment passes?

Mr. HALLIDAY. Get it out of the Tithing Office. [Laughter.]

Why do fire trucks show up when there's no fire?

The other day I was driving down 500 South when I saw a large fire truck and an ambulance at the corner of 300 West. I wondered if the Alberto's was on fire, but as I approached the red light, I saw that they were attending to a guy lying on the ground. I don't know if he was the victim of Car v. Pedestrian, heart attack, .28 BAC, or what.

I wondered why a full-blown fire truck had been summoned, and later mentioned it to an acquaintance, who said that one time years ago, she had passed out at a bus stop in the downtown area due to a temporary medical condition. A huge fire truck along with multiple ambulances had arrived on the scene then, too. "I think they just have to show X number of runs to justify their budget," she speculated.

This morning's D-News mentioned that South Salt Lake is considering buying its own ambulances, rather than contracting with Gold Cross. The fire truck question arose again when I read: "Councilman John Weaver has said that having both paramedics and firefighters responding to emergency scenes will mean that all personnel are trained in both jobs."

Does he mean all emergency scenes? Do they not have adequate equipment in other vehicles for a guy lying on the ground? If it's a good use of taxpayer money, that's fine; inquiring minds just want to know.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

This Layton guy gets the Best Mugshot Award

This pizza parlor proprietor from Layton is a tax cheat who was just sentenced to 90 days in jail and restitution. But doesn't he look like a nice guy?

Utah's economy: It's Rep. Carol Spackman Moss's fault for not going to China

A year and a half ago, Utah House majority leader Dave Clark (R-Santa Clara) told Utahns it was essential to Utah's economy that he and 13 other legislator-types spend taxpayer money gallivanting around China. His argument was so persuasive that we lambasted Rep. Carol Spackman Moss (D-SLC) for deciding not to go just because she couldn't think of a legitimate reason to go:

Now we are really ticked at ex-teacher Carol Spackman Moss, who decided that the whole thing was a bunch of hooey and that she could not in good conscience go. "If I couldn't justify it to myself or my friends, then it wasn't worth it," Moss said in the Tribune article. Not everything is about you and your conscience, Rep. Moss. If Utah's economy goes straight to the toilet, we'll be pointing a finger at you and that empty seat on the China Fun Bus.

We warned you, Moss. If you had just done your boondoggling duty, we wouldn't be in this mess. That must be the reason why all that China business isn't flowing in yet. Otherwise, one might think those "It'll bring business to Utah" claims in '07 were indeed a pile of hooey.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Utah's schizophrenic legislative openness (& a request to Ric Cantrell)

In some ways, public access to our state legislative process is remarkable. In just the past few years, we have been able to follow our legislature much more closely. Utahns have gone from "What are the SOBs doing?" to "What are those SOBs doing?!"

The state website has searchable bills, agendas, audio of public hearings and now, as of yesterday, house bills from 1896. It is a legislature/history geek's heaven. (One request to Ric Cantrell, whose (in)famous Senate Site provides more information from GOP senators' perspective, but who we hope is all-powerful: Any chance you can get them to post the 2-volume proceedings of the 1895 Constitutional Convention online? If you can, we pledge to forego "Chris Buttars is _______" posts for an entire week.)

After all that, though, the most important legislative work -- the one in which the real legislating occurs -- remains totally secret: GOP caucus meetings. Come on, guys; you were doing so well! You don't like it when courts don't follow your intent, but you don't tell them what your real intent is. Come on, now, open up . . .

Blackwater guards: Utahns won't mind a little babykilling

I find it interesting that five Blackwater guards accused of improperly killing 17 Iraqi civilians have surrendered in Utah in the hope of being tried here. The Department of Justice can't complaint about forum shopping - it did the same thing a few years ago, choosing Utah as its favorite porn-prosecution venue. Are Utahns really that predictable? What am I saying? Of course we are (although apparently someone yelled "babykiller" at the guards as they surrendered; hence the subject line).

These Blackwater guards may not get their wish, but judging by initial comments on the D-News story, it's worth a try. The same people who usually assume that all charges brought against anyone must be true are taking the opposite approach here: Aw, shucks, the shooters were just doing their jobs, and these charges are just "Monday morning quarterbacking." (Yes, someone actually compared alleged civilian massacre to a sporting event.)

Wherever held, this will be an interesting trial. Unlike people we have imprisoned at Guantanamo, these men will actually have a right to defend themselves in a court of law. Of course, there is a difference: Those guys at Guantanamo are all guilty. They must be, right? Because our government says they are. Or is that just a bit of Monday-morning quarterbacking?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sen. Buttars, please do something about the LDS Family History Library

Yesterday, patrons of the LDS Family History Library were slapped in the face repeatedly as the Church repeatedly refused to recognize Christmas as the only legitimate Decemberish holiday. "It totally ruined genealogy for me," said Voice of Utah 2. "I could barely force myself to eat the free cookies and cocoa up on the third floor."

Every hour at the :45, a non-Christian-loving announcer came on with her indoctrinating voice and said, "As part of our holiday celebration, the Library will hold a class at 2 p.m. on Tongan holiday traditions," or Mexican "holiday" traditions, or English "holiday" traditions.

Patrons were enraged. "I've lost him after the 1820 census but I know he didn't die until 1834," declared one genealogist in response to the barrage of anti-Christian announcements.

"Have you tried tax lists?" another agreed.

Clearly, something must be done. Sen. Buttars, there is time to rewrite your nationally renowned resolution telling business owners to quit ruining the Christmas holiday by using the word holiday. Could you please include the Church in that?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sen. John Valentine: I didn't want a position, I just had a temper tantrum

I used to think that Sen. John Valentine (R-Utah County) was one of the better ones, and that I might actually support him if I ever lived in his district (in other words, if he ran for statewide office). But then he completely sold out on the Hilder / Court of Appeals issue. As a lawyer, he knew that Hilder was qualified for the position, but he still joined 15 torch-carrying colleagues in voting No. This morning, four senators have a totally persuasive letter in the Trib insisting that no one -- naught one, I tell you! -- voted against Hilder in exchange for committee positions.

That's right. According to Sen. Lyle Hillyard, Valentine actually voted against Hilder because Valentine was in a snit, or, as my mother would have said, having a maddy. In a recent Senate Site post, Hillyard said that Valentine was going to vote for Hilder, but then Hilder went and ticked him off.

So Valentine would have voted for the qualified guy, except that he was insulted? That's the best he can come up with? "I didn't do it for power, I was just pouting." That's even worse than saying he did it to curry favor with the gun nuts. It reminds me of something a lawyer friend once said: "If the best your client can argue is 'I didn't do it intentionally, I was just stupid,' you've got problems."

Nutter Buttars: "Happy Hanukkah" or else

A few years ago, while chatting with an acquaintance, I asked if her company had a Sub-for-Santa program. Yes, she said, but "We call it something else. Two of our partners are Jewish." Oh, yeah. There is more than one religion in Utah. I forget sometimes.

So does Sen. Chris Buttars (R-Outer Space), who feels it is a worthy use of taxpayer time and money to have the State of Utah tell private retailers how to word their ads. (Forget about Church and State, how about separation of Private Business and State?) "I'm sick of this "Merry Christmas" stuff," Buttars said. "Not everyone is Christian. I insist that retailers say 'Happy Hanukkah,' at least every fifth time or so, or face the wrath of the Legislature. Also, I don't like '2-for-1.' Retailers should say 'half-off.' In fact, just fax me your proposed ad copy."

I may be confused about the details, but as a non-Jew, I just don't see why I should be forced to run ads that say "Happy Hanukkah." Where's the respect for my faith?

More fundamentally, don't our state legislators have better things to do than doofy message bills? Oh, wait--I forgot who we were talking about.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sen. Howard Stephenson: Micro-manager or what?

If you wander over to the website of Sen. Howard Stephenson (R-Business Taxpayers Association) and click on "Proper Role of Government," you get a 1968 speech by Ezra Taft Benson that ends by urging Americans to take a stand against communism. That's it.

Frankly, it doesn't surprise us that Stephenson's ideas about the proper role of government are 40 years old. Forty years ago, a legislator coercing a state agency to give millions in taxpayer dollars to a specific vendor might have garnered a wink, but nowadays nosy parkers like the Tribune have to go and make a big deal out of it. (Stephenson has a ready-made response to such scrutiny, though, judging by the section of his website called "Media Baloney and Bias.")

Stephenson says he just wants to save taxpayers money by, er, spending taxpayer money to have a private business review textbooks instead of school officials who have been doing it well for decades. Considering the generally high level of education in Utah, it's hard to see why this is a priority for Stephenson -- a huge priority, apparently, if he threatened to cut funding and fire people if they didn't sign up ProCert Labs forthwith. But as they say, "if it ain't broke, break it."

Hey, Senator, we have a suggestion: If you're going to micromanage the school system, how about monitoring the lunch menus? Obesity is a bigger concern to Utahns these days then putting the fix in on textbooks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

School board "winner" Bateman: I forgot where I was going to live

The winner of today's "Yeah, Right" Award: State School Board sort-of-member Kyle Bateman, who suddenly realized he wasn't qualified, residence-wise, to actually be on the board. "Is my face red," Bateman says. "It never occurred to me to think about whether I lived in the right district before I swore under oath that I lived in the right district."

For someone who has been on a Planning Commission, he sure doesn't plan very well (unless you listen to skeptics who think he planned it perfectly: Stay on the ballot until after the election, resign at the last possible moment, and thereby keep a bona fide candidate off the list).

You know how it goes - sometimes there's just something niggling at the back of your mind. "What was it . . . what was it . . . oh, yeah - I'm running for an office I'm not qualified for! Oh, well, I'll think about that tomorrow..."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Oddities of the Judge Hilder confirmation fight

Rumors are swirling around the legal community about the odd behavior of one member of the committee that recommended the confirmation of Judge Robert Hilder to the Court of Appeals last week -- and, for once, they're not about Sen. Chris Buttars. This time, the rumors are about Sen. Lyle Hillyard, a lawyer. Hillyard made the motion to recommend Hilder, but then launched into a 10-minute diatribe that ranged from whether Hilder is active LDS to the reasons for Hilder's divorce years ago. Hillyard's rambling speech was said to be so eye-opening that fellow lawyer and committee chair Sen. Greg Bell immediately had to "remind the committee" that judicial appointments are supposed to be based on legal qualifications and not certain things like religion, etc.

It seems too bizarre to be true, but a couple of clicks on the legislature's nifty audio links confirmed it. (By the way, leg-webbers, thank you for breaking the audio down now by speaker - it's very convenient.) Last year, we jokingly offered $100 to anyone who could prove inappropriate conduct by Buttars, a la Larry Flynt. But if senators are going to start sticking their noses into judicial candidates' religion and marriages, we will make the offer real, and extend it to all senators, figuring it's fair game now.

Hilder has been endorsed by 13 recent Utah State Bar presidents, but what do they know? Ironically, according to the Tribune, Hilder may not get confirmed because senators such as Buttars think that Hilder should have delved into the Second Amendment in a ruling several years ago instead of confining his ruling to an interpretation of statute. In other words, Sen. Buttars wishes that Hilder had been -- yes -- an activist judge. There's just no pleasing these guys.

P.S. No picture today. Note to the Trib: Bigger pictures, please...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Is Buttars about to be Buttars again?

Rumor buzzing around Utah's legal community (well, the Salt Lake community at least) is that some GOP legislators didn't learn anything from razor-thin re-election margins and are going to continue their old ways tomorrow.

On Friday morning, Gov. Huntsman's appointee to the Court of Appeals vacancy, Robert K. Hilder, is going before the Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee. Hilder is widely regarded as one of the best judges in the 3rd District Court, a smart guy. But in a series of emails that have been circulating, some prominent lawyers have expressed concern that Buttars and etc. will ignore Hilder's qualifications, and instead punish him for one or two rulings it didn't like, such as the one five years ago when Hilder opined that state law allowed the University of Utah to exclude guns from its campus (which, incidentally, was also consistent with public sentiment).

As this morning's Tribune (and Huntsman's 77% vote) pointed out, Utahns want moderation these days, not more of the same ol'. Perhaps these lawyers are just paranoid. But with Chris Buttars involved, this may be one of those times when being paranoid doesn't mean that someone isn't out to get you.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wow - Trisha Beck pulls it off against Lavar Christensen

The last time Trisha Beck and Lavar Christensen clashed in District 48, Christensen won by 34 votes. Heady with his landslide victory, Christensen offered himself up to Jim Matheson in the 2006 Congressional election, in which, coincidentally, he received about 34 votes.

Tonight, Round 2 went to Beck, a tireless campaigner who defeated He-Of-the-Great-Lung-Capacity by 243 votes in a gerrymandered Republican district. Yippee!

Not to take anything away from Beck, but we figured Christensen had an uphill battle once it was discovered that he was single-handedly responsible for global warming.

Still, good job, Beck. All you need now is a quote book...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Hey, Curtis, maybe Checketts has an opening

Now that King Greg has been dethroned, I can't help but worry about the poor guy's future. Doesn't Parents for Choice in Education owe him a favor? Or how about parking attendant at a soccer stadium? Meanwhile, I guess he can live off that $300,000+ campaign chest for a few years.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sorry, Horiuchi, you're just too - what is the word?

'Corrupt' is probably too strong. And 'special-interestized' doesn't get past my spell check. I guess we'll borrow the characterization made by a Democratic lunch companion the other day: "In the pocket of developers."

This lifelong Democrat was a little chagrined at admitting that he had voted for Horiuchi, but he had a specific reason he couldn't get out of. We understand. We used to vote for Horiuchi, enthusiastically in fact, but the list of questionable transactions just got too tiresome.

We would prefer a 5-4 Democratic majority on the council, but we can't vote for someone whose integrity we seriously question. This DeBry guy might be a novice, but right now, Horiuchi's experience is the bigger problem.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

KSL radio 1-4 p.m. -- required listening (for some)

When it comes to political pundits, VoU2 and I agree on a lot: Neither one of us can stand Keith Olbermann or Bill O'Reilly. We both like Rachel Maddow. But one area where we don't see eye to eye is listening to KSL Radio (102.7 FM) in the afternoon.

Sitting in my office this afternoon, I am enjoying my daily Sean Hannity. I love listening to him as he gets more and more panicked. It makes me laugh. VoU2, on the other hand, can't abide one syllable of his grating voice.

I have tried to explain:

VoU1: "It's pretty funny; he's just flailing around because
there's nothing he can do."

VoU2: "I don't care."

Some of today's gems:
  • An African American expresses concern that he does not feel welcome by the Republican Party, and Hannity is incredulous. After all, he says, the GOP is "the party of Lincoln."
  • A woman can't figure out why the American people "don't seem to care about Obama's past associations." Hannity admits that it's because this stuff is all b.s. Ok, not really - he agrees with her that it's "obvious" and is mystified as to why "thinking people" don't seem to agree.
  • He tells an Obama supporter that he is "getting off track" and needs to "focus with me here" when the caller starts praising Obama's tax plan.
  • Says Obama "wants to turn America into France or worse." Worse than France? Like what, Sweden?
  • Played the song "More than a woman, more than a woman to me" after a call from a male Obama supporter. See, that's why I listen--intelligent debate.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The most ironic headline for a Utahn to see

Wandering over to Google News instead of while working diligently, I had to laugh out loud at a Washington Post headline:

GOP candidates warn voters about perils of one-party rule

I look forward to Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz sounding that alarm here in Utah...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Early voting in Utah: Where are the hecklers?

We're so dull. Early voters in North Carolina get heckled as "cheaters" and ungodly and such. But when I voted early yesterday, all I got was an "Excuse me" as someone passed by on the stairs in the parking garage. Lines around the block, and not a "Nobama, ya Commie!" among them.

Lots of stuff to vote on today. Straight ticket? No, thanks. Yes, Obama . . . Yes, Matheson (pressing screen with one hand while holding nose with the other) . . . Where's the guy running against Horiuchi--there he is. Yes, Not-Horiuchi. . . . Should these 500 judges be retained? . . . Oops, didn't study that issue, but the legislature apparently wants it so better vote no . . . .

Is this your vote? Are you sure? If you change your mind more than twice, we will take away your card and vote for you. Would you like us to vote for you?

Your vote has been cast. Would you like to be heckled? Yes/No.

"You vote like a girl! My great-grandmother can press the screen harder than that!" "Took you long enough--did you stop for lunch?" "You have the fingerprint of a sex god--Give it back!"

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hillary! (in Utah)

Well, we didn't get her during the primary, but on Saturday we will, apparently. Here is the website to sign up. Speaking as a couple of Clinton Supporters for Obama, we're looking forward to her appearance -- a bit mystified, but looking forward to it. We can hear it now:

"I was thrilled when I heard about this opportunity to visit Utah..."

"I know Bill wishes he were here, too."

". . . to address issues important to the voters in this state."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bill Dew: the GOP's latest wink at Matheson

A while back, local media mentioned that the GOP isn't helping much with the campaign of Jim Matheson's opponent, Bill Something. Granted, Matheson has so much cash and such a huge lead that writing checks to TheGOPGuy would be a waste. But let's face it: Jim "I Heart Guantanamo" Matheson is close enough to a Republican already, they don't need to replace him.

That's VOU2's theory for why the Republicans keep running, let's say, "unexciting" candidates against Matheson. LaVar Christensen gave up his spot as a state legislator, but was too obsessed with gay sex and Nancy Pelosi even for Utah Republicans, got wiped out in the general, and is now trying to go back to being a big fish in a little pond.

Christensen was at least noticed. Dew is just . . . out there, somewhere. We think. And we do mean out there. Check out his campaign video. His daughter says that they used to get up at 6 a.m. and "read the Constitution" together. Okaaaay.... I'm all about constitutions -- we have more than one, by the way -- but that sounds a little weird.

So, once again, it's Torture-Bill vs. The Head Scratcher if we stick to the usual suspects. Time to get out the Voter Information Pamphlet...p. 8...Matthew Arndt, Libertarian. College teacher, good...liberty brings more peace and prosperity, good..."Government's only proper role is to protect property, enforce contracts and settle property disputes"--What? Government is just a big courtroom? Glad you're not in charge of regulating our retirement funds.

Guess that leaves Dennis Ray Emery, Constitution Party.... "No Statement Provided." You had us at No...

What is with Comcast's nightly Daily Show interruption?

Utah viewers of Jon Stewart's The Daily Show may have noticed that our "weekly" Emergency Alert System test seems to have become a nightly EAS test, repeating several times a week lately. Last night, both the 9 p.m. and midnight airings were interrupted by the "weekly" test, cutting off up to a minute of timely fake news. A conspiracy? Probably not. Annoying as heck and inexplicable? Definitely.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mayor Becker sticks his nose into my lunch

Being a creature of habit -- and surrounded by fast-disappearing restaurants in the downtown area -- I tend to eat lunch at the same place most days. But can I do that tomorrow? Nooooooo, because Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker says I can't. Well, I could, but then I might feel guilty.

Not content with taking on breathable air, bicycle safety, and other non-gay-marriage issues, now Becker apparently has a problem with hunger and poverty. He has signed a proclamation declaring tomorrow World Food Day in the City. I don't quite grasp the details, but I figure participating restaurants will know what I'm talking about:
Each participating restaurant will offer a special food item that can be ordered at a reduced portion size that patrons may price themselves. A portion of the profits collected from the sale of the item will go to each restaurant’s favorite food-related charity.

In Utah, 9.7 percent of the population lives in poverty and the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 5.1 percent of residents are dealing with hunger. Observing World Food Day in Salt Lake City will be an opportunity for local restaurants to give back to community members and raise awareness about hunger and poverty in Utah.
Okay, it benefits the Utah Food Bank, etc. That's great, but the key issue, of course, is where can I eat lunch tomorrow? Options are listed below.

147 West 300 South

657 South Main Street

365 West 400 South

779 East 300 South

249 East 400 South Suite 100

390 East 1700 South

2148 South Highland Drive

315 East 300 South

473 East Broadway

2280 South West Temple

[no address given]

41 South 300 East

154 East 200 South

249 East 400 South

151 South 500 East

300 South 345 EAST

150 SOUTH 400 EAST

(so that's where these guys went!)

Mm mm good.

Carlene Walker vs. Karen Morgan in Senate 8: bummer of a race

It is unfortunate that two capable, likeable women who want to be a state senator both happen to live in District 8. Most other senate races that we're following don't have two candidates for whom we could comfortably vote.

Carlene Walker is relatively moderate, and sometimes does nutty things like focus on practical issues such as identity theft and drunk driving rather than peeking in bedroom windows. She runs a good committee meeting, doesn't automatically dismiss competing views, and is intelligent.

Karen Walker is also smart and focuses on issues that actually matter, such as education. She is compassionate but practical, and is not afraid to think outside party lines on issues such as immigration.

The tie-breaker for us? Vouchers. Walker caved to party or other political pressure and voted for vouchers, even though it was directly contrary to Utahns' wishes and detrimental for public education. Still, she says she won't do it again, and we believe her.

So basically, this bites. Senate 8 has two good candidates and only one slot. We have an idea, though: Morgan wins the race. The legislature then gerrymanders Walker into another district. The current senator in District X is caught buying "Nailin' Palin" with a state credit card, resigns in disgrace, and moves to Sandy. Gov. Huntsman appoints Walker to fill out his term. Voila! Election gods, please make it so.

Did Sandy get outmaneuvered on the "Broadway" theater?

Noticed two interesting things in the news today:

In the first article, Sandy City council member Steve Smith dared to buck Mayor Tom "almost lost my last election" Dolan, suggesting that maybe Sandy should admit that "calling the theater privately funded is 'just semantics' because ultimately Sandy would be paying off the developer's loan," while another councilman suggested that maybe the city should figure out how much it's going to cost city residents before adding more parking problems to the city.

In the second article, the Deseret News announced that Salt Lake City will announce tomorrow that a 2,400-seat Broadway-style theater is to be built downtown on Regent Street. Expected at Mayor Becker's press conference are Governor Huntsman and Bishop Burton with the LDS Church. Hmm... Did Salt Lake City finally get one over on Dolan? Can Greg Curtis intervene in time? Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Dr. James Brinton - keeping Utah medicine interesting

Noticed a familiar name in a KSL story this evening: Dr. James A. Brinton, a Utah County physician. This guy is a walking headline. Ten years ago, the Utah Supreme Court upheld IHC's decision to revoke his hospital privileges based on concerns about his health care, including questions involving the death of a child. He continued to deliver babies at a less persnickety place, and branched out into laser hair removal. One of those patients suffered 2nd-degree burns, sued him and won, as verified by court records. As of a 2007 D-News article, he was the medical director of a spa that does laser hair removal and such.

A woman once told one of us that, while she was choosing an adoptive family for her newborn child, her physician Dr. Brinton told her, "I know you're going to do the right thing and give this baby to a Mormon family," and that he arranged for a priesthood blessing for her in her hospital room. (She was not LDS.) Wasn't there, can't confirm it, but ever since then, his name in the paper always catches our eye.

The latest: He was indicted this morning, along with 17 others, for an alleged illegal online prescription drug ring. But apparently he's innocent. "We talked to Dr. Brinton on the phone this afternoon," KSL writes. "He says he only supported advertising Phentermine on the Web site and would help with quality control." Well, sure, because when one thinks of "quality control," who doesn't think of Dr. Brinton?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Those false burglar alarms in Draper

Interesting article today about police in Cottonwood Heights, Draper, and elsewhere having to respond to a lot of false burglar alarms. According to the article, 98 percent of burglar alarm activations are false, caused by human error, weather, pets, etc. On average, owners have one false alarm per year (according to the burglar alarm sellers; we'd like to see independent stats). Private businesses get money from selling alarms, and police get stuck responding to them.

Some cities are considering charging for the second false alarm in a year, or requiring private guards to respond first, and then, if an actual crime is occurring, the cops will come. Supposedly that would be unpopular, sayeth the alarm sellers:

According to a 2006 study sponsored by the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, that would be a bad idea. A telephone survey of Salt Lake residents found that two-thirds of voters disapprove of their city's policy and that 60 percent would vote against a candidate that supported such a rule.
The D-News didn't say how the study was worded, but one can imagine questioning a la a Utah Dem push poll: "Do you favor or oppose a rule that puts people at risk of being robbed and murdered in their own homes?"

Let's face it: If you can afford a burglar alarm system, you can probably afford to put something in the till if you waste the cops' time with two or more false alarms in one year. And if 98 percent are false, it seems to make some sense for a private guard to respond first, as Salt Lake City and West Valley require. A qualified guard could do some good in the other 2 percent in which something is actually happening.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Back from hiatus - Utah politics as usual

Geez, you go on hiatus for a few months, and all heck breaks out in local politics. Where to start...

  • Former TV news anchor Phil Riesen (D-Salt Lake) leaks a story to TV news that Greg Hughes (R-Draper) told another representative that, wink wink, if she would vote for vouchers, she might, you know, notice a few extra OOOs in her campaign account. The unusual part: Riesen leaked it to KSL, rather than his former employer KTVX.
  • Hughes gets into a "So's your mother" with the House speaker's chief of staff, and is escorted out of a parking lot by the Highway Patrol. He also hires an attorney to defend the ethics complaint and maybe sue Riesen, KSL, and anyone who watched the news or thought about it. Re-elect Greg Hughes: He's job security for law enforcement (and ethics investigators, and attorneys...).
  • Earlier, Hughes (is this guy hogging all the ink or what?) suggested that Voices for Utah Children, Roz McGee's old organization and now Karen Crompton's, had endorsed him. Turns out that the letter he was quoting had been sent to every legislator who voted for a certain bill. But maybe Crompton sealed his with a kiss...
  • Utah Democrats launched an irritating push poll that basically asked, "Would you rather vote for Republican X, who kicks puppies, or Democrat Y, who thinks you're cute?" Well, since you put it so objectively . . . .
  • Democrat Jay Seegmiller, who is giving Greg Curtis (R-Real Salt Lake) another run for his considerable money, was also victimized by push pollers, who suggested that Seegmiller wants government to pay for abortions performed by illegal immigrants. Too little too late: looks like Curtis's days might be numbered.

  • And last: Genealogists ruin everything! According to a security expert and KSL commenters, and genealogists who post things on the interweb are promoting identity theft. Forget those letters we get monthly from our banks, investment brokers, hospitals, retailers, and internet providers telling us that they've, um, mislaid our personal data -- we were fine until Aunt Betty posted grandma's obituary.

Monday, May 26, 2008


We've already been on a quasi-hiatus, but now it's official. VoU1 is busy on a several-month project, and VoU2 is helping. So you won't have VoU1 to kick around any more (for a while, anyway).

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

From two Hillary supporters: Give it up

The time has come. Extract your price (Secretary of State?) and bow out.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Matheson: Unlabeled dishes No, torture Yes

Taking time out from voting to torture people and detain them indefinitely without charges, Congressman Jim Matheson has taken another hard stance, this time on dishware. Matheson is hitting China hard for adding extra mineral to our diets, insisting that lead-happy dishmakers label the leadware that they ship over here by the millions. Take that! And if you don't shape up, we might make you underline some of the words! You have been warned.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

How high is Sandy's cost of living if the city administrator can't live on $151,000?

Thanks to the Trib's persistence in prying bonus figures out of Sandy City administrators' cold undead fingers, we now know that Mayor Tom Dolan and his 12 buddies sit around giving each other bonuses on a regular basis. (Boy, won't the Utah Taxpayers Association be all over that!)

For other city officials who are behind the curve, The Trib offers an instructional diagram, roughly translated as: "You approve my bonus, I'll approve your bonus."

The most impressive yield is by Sandy City Administrator Byron Jorgenson. For administering a city of 100,000, Mr. Jorgenson makes a salary of $151,000, plus (so far this year) $12,500 in bonus money. Sandy residents can't really complain about that. I mean, his salary is only 150 percent of the governor's salary, and he's worth way more than that, especially since, according to Sandy City,

"A large part of Mr. Jorgenson’s leadership strength comes from his high standards of personal ethics and integrity, which he exemplifies himself and demands in those around him."

And that's why Mr. Jorgenson deserves such a huge bonus -- because he spends so much time demanding integrity from others.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Should Harmon's provide armed guards?

$7.64--"For these?" It offended my sensibilities, but I didn't have the juevos (sorry, Minutemen) to tell the Harmon's checker, "Nevermind. I declare these grapes to be overpriced." Instead, I carried my purchase to my car, clutching it to my side lest someone try to nab my booty. And when I got home, I went straight to the Huffington Post, scanning headlines for that article I skipped the first time. Let's see . . .

21 Reasons To Hate Hillary . . .

Why Hillary Should Die . . .

Drop Out Already, Hillary . . .

One thing I already learned? Skip the grapes.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Texas: We're taking good care of all 416 -- er, 425 -- er, 437 kids

The State of Texas continues to impress with the individualized attention it is paying all them FLDS types. Today, Texas officials disclosed that they were only off 21 in the number of kids they have in custody. 437, 416, who's counting? (Not Texas, apparently.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

$1,000+ hookup fee for UTOPIA? That's insane!

I've largely been a proponent of the UTOPIA concept, and was optimistic that it might become available in my new home, but this quote from this morning's Trib is enough to make anyone slam on the brakes:

Utopia's board of directors is developing a new business model it hopes finally will place the struggling, municipally owned network onto a solid financial footing. As part of that plan, it wants to require each new customer to pay a hefty fee upfront.

"We've identified a range of around $1,000, but eventually it could be two to three times that amount," said Utopia's chairman Alex Jensen.

I'm sorry; did I read that correctly? Apparently so:
Utopia's board is negotiating with several banks about providing financing for the connection fee so that customers who don't want to pay upfront can make payments over time. "If that [financing] is what customers want, it would be like going down to RC Willey and buying a piece of furniture," said Jensen, the Layton city manager.
Financing a hookup fee? Up to $3,000 just to be allowed to pay a monthly internet fee? Right. Maybe if it's superfast, makes breakfast every morning, and picks up my dry cleaning. Holy smokes.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sutherland Institute to host flat earth conference

The Sutherland Institute is celebrating Earth Day by hosting a week-long conference urging more oil dependency and nuclear waste. A booming green industry hurts the economy and hurts the poor, says Institute president Paul Mero. "I mean, just think about it: global warming could mean having to buy one less winter coat," he said. "We're all about the poor people, you know."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Voting against one's economic interests: Dumb when you're poor, principled when you're wealthy?

This is not a comment on the recent Obama/bitter controversy, but the context in which that arose did bring to mind a conversation I had with a Utah acquaintance a while back. Musing about some low-income friends who consistently vote Republican solely because of their passion for guns, he wondered, "Why are they so stupid? They're voting against their economic interests."

I thought about it. Assuming -- as we did -- that Democrats are more likely to help low- and middle-income people, and assuming -- as we did -- that Republicans are more likely to help upper-income people, that meant . . . .

"I'm voting against my economic interests," I said. "I should be voting for Republicans."

Well, that's different, he seemed to suggest; it wasn't stupid for me to vote principle over pocketbook. But it was for his lower-income friends? Hmm . . .

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It's not easy remodeling green - recommendations for green contractors, architects, engineers?

Either my Google skills are deteriorating, or there aren't that many green-oriented contractors, architects, and engineers for residences in the Salt Lake area. I found several for businesses, but not many for homes, and some of those just do new construction, not remodeling. Does anyone have personal experience with any, or with project managers they would recommend?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Those Tanner Transmission ads

I've just been subjected to seen my 5,000th Tanner Transmission commercial -- you know, the one where the guy turns toward the camera and scowls, "Leadership: It comes from acting by doing." Sheesh, you'd think he was leading the Great Raid on Cabanatuan or something instead of offering us all a power flush.

Anyway, I just have to say: Tanner Transmission, how do you pay for all that advertising? I see your face almost as often as Siegfried & Jensen's. And how about a new one once in a while? The only ad I want to see over and over for 20 years is this one:

Thank you.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Qwest says, "What's this fiber thing?"

First, Qwest actively campaigned against UTOPIA and its lightning-fast fiber. That didn't kill it. Then it sued UTOPIA, but that didn't kill it either. So now Qwest has announced that maybe it will have to consider, sigh, actually offering fiber to those annoying customers who like their internet speedy.

"Qwest later this month will reveal how much it intends to spend in Utah and where the new service will be available," the Trib reported. So what was the point of issuing a press release with no information in the first place? Could it be related to the current hearings on additional bonding for the UTOPIA fiber project? Nah, must be a coincidence.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

'Sexually suggestive ads' on D-News site - ironic ad placement?

In this morning's D-News, a letter writer complains of the "sexually suggestive" advertising on the News' website. Wonder how she liked seeing her letter:

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Horiuchi's developer buddies fill up the trough

First, a laugh-out-loud moment from the Trib this morning:

Salt Lake County mayor Peter Corroon has raised nearly $148,000 for his re-election campaign. GOP opponent Michael Renckert has raised $700. That roughly resembles the anticipated margin of Corroon's victory.

Now, a groan-out-loud moment:

Randy "Never met a conflict of interest I didn't like" Horiuchi is up to his old tricks, racking up $63,000 toward his re-election campaign. The primary donors are--do we even need to say?

More than half the incumbent's contributions ($35,900) came from home builders and real estate management firms, including North Star Builders, Wasatch Pacific and Cottonwood Development.

Well, you know what they say: Developers are a girl's best friend. And being a councilman means never having to say you're sorry.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Hundreds detained, 400 children removed--can't wait to see *that* warrant!

A lot of the court filings are still under seal, but there must have been something really amazing about the anonymous call that sparked the FLDS raids in Texas. Otherwise, we're having a hard time figuring out how one report of one underage marriage (which should be fully prosecuted) would justify the wholesale rounding up and detaining of an entire community. If a call went out that someone in a Sandy neighborhood was a child molester, would all of the kids in the neighborhood be taken, all the men confined, and all the women "relocated"?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Silliest spin of the quarter (Utah's flat tax)

One of those laugh-out-loud moments (not in a good way): The Trib ran an article this morning about how everyone except rich people will pay significantly higher taxes under Utah's new flat-tax option, but the State hasn't publicized that little fact. Governor Huntsman's spokesperson Lisa Roskelley then gave the silliest quote possible on the subject:

"It's not fair to say they will be [negatively affected]. They could say, 'I would rather pay more taxes,' and choose the flat tax this year," she said. "The reason it's optional is they can choose which is best for them."
Nice to know that Huntsman's spokesperson has a finger on the pulse of the people.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sen. Howard Stephenson rates himself perfect

Sen. Howard Stephenson's organization, the Utah (Business-)Taxpayers Association, has rated Sen. Howard Stephenson perfect when it comes to (business-friendly) tax issues. According to the trib, Stephenson denied having input into the bills his organization considered in rating legislators, but the employee didn't get the memo, apparently: He said Stephenson did have input into both the bills chosen and the Association's position on them.

Stephenson apparently also decided not to consider other tax expenditures -- he was one of the legislators who went on a taxpayer-funded boondoggle to China last year.

In an unrelated story, Voice of Utah has rated itself as 100% Perfect on the subject of political blogging. "We are honored to receive this award from ourselves," said Voice of Utah spokesperson Voice of Utah. "Other than writing the posts, choosing the posts we wanted to include, and evaluating the posts, we had no involvement in this award."

Saturday, March 22, 2008

For the record, I have the Lady Utes beating Tennessee

Yeah, the University of Utah women's team got royally screwed by the NCAA tournament selection committee. And yeah, most of my upset predictions in the men's tourney haven't come true (curse you, Duke!). But hey, I'm an optimist. Elaine Elliott's Lady Utes have to beat Purdue at home first, and Tennessee is a No. 1 seed, and it's sort of like David's little brother versus Goliath, but if you don't aim high, you don't get high. No, that's not right. I'm sure there's some saying that fits. Go Utes!