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.