Saturday, February 21, 2009

No wonder the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache forest service can't get firefighters

Recently, an acquaintance said he had been musing about Barack Obama's call for sacrifice. When he read that the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache forest service needed seasonal firefighters, he decided to bite the bullet, even though he would probably lose money being away from his regular job. He's an ex-military firefighter, in great physical shape, and I agreed they would be lucky to get him.

Later, he announced that he had given up on it. Was it the pay? No. The fitness test? No, lugging 45 pounds for 3 miles in less than 45 minutes would be child's play. It was the online application process.

Via Google, he found the website, and clicked on "Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest Seeks Seasonal Workers." That took him to... a press release. OK. Then he tried "Apply Now for Forest Service Firefighting Jobs" and got...another press release. Then he clicked on "for information on applying," and got actual information. It said applicants can apply online - yea! So he clicked on that, and got...a website where you have to register even to be able to apply. Like us, he hates having to register to use a website.

Also on that page was an announcement that those who registered online between Feb. 2-11 might have had their location preferences erased (oops). He registered, but "Search for Jobs" didn't work on his Mac. Via several more clicks, he eventually found 269 jobs in Utah (they use the same process for all jobs; nothing specific to the Forest Service), tried to click on one, and got...sent back to the main menu again to start over.

If you do eventually find a job to apply for, you have to open yet another account -- and choose a password containing a combination of both upper and lower case letters, a number, and at least one symbol. "How the [heck] am I supposed to remember that?" he asked. Soon afterward, he was advised, "There was an unexpected problem processing your application" - but it didn't tell him what the problem was or how to solve it. Oh, wait -- he had foolishly not "created a resume." Clicking on that link led to another long application form, etc., etc.

I was skeptical that it was as "[darn] complicated" as he said, but when I tried it, I couldn't even get that far. I didn't see "Job Map," so I tried "Apply for a Job," but that didn't have a job- or state-specific search. Another link sent me back to the earlier page, etc., etc.

This is a family blog, so I can't print the second password he chose. Suffice it to say that it ended with an exclamation mark.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Larry Miller's death - lessons may be learned

It is a tribute to a man's influence when co-worker after co-worker call or come into your office, stunned, to say, "Larry Miller died." The last time -- actually, the only time -- I remember anything like it was when Elizabeth Smart was found.

Others will comment on Miller's legacy as a business man, philanthropist, controversial figure, etc. We want to comment on his legacy as a man with Type 2 Diabetes. Ever since his serious medical condition was revealed, we have both wondered what steps he was taking to control his diabetes. It wasn't any of our business, but, prior disagreements aside, we cared about his health. One of us being diabetic, we asked ourselves if he had changed his diet, was he monitoring his levels, etc.

Christopher Reeves' tragic accident increased awareness of stem cell research. The death of Gail Ruzicka's son increased awareness of drug abuse. Larry Miller's premature death may increase awareness of the serious dangers of Type 2 diabetes. Meanwhile, Larry . . .

. . . with a gentle push and a mild arc, the cowhide globe hits home.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Why is Mitt Romney selling his Deer Valley mansion?

We've been mulling it over since we read earlier this month that Mitt Romney's 9,514 square foot Park City mancave is for sale. Is Romneybot McMoneybags (TM Comedy Central) unloading his extra mansions to avoid a multiple-house-stigma in his next presidential run? At least some reports last summer opined that any Romney hope for a V.P. slot was doomed by the uproar from John McCain's inability to remember how many houses he owned. (As if that doesn't happen to all of us on occasion.)

Like everyone else, we were tempted by the priced-to-sell $5,250,000 tag and the sales pitch . . .

But ultimately it didn't suit our needs.

Now we know who is *really* clogging Utah's courts

Some interesting stories recently involving the case load in Utah's court system. Yesterday, D-News columnist Lee Benson mentioned that lawsuits by payday lenders comprise more than half of the Small Claims Court filings in Salt Lake County, and three-quarters of the filings in Utah County. Wow.

And who is complaining the most about boosting court filing fees, according to the Tribune? Debt collectors - because the vast majority of lawsuits these days are commercial, not "tort" or personal injury, as Republican lawmakers sometimes imply. The same has been true historically: Two years ago, I reviewed an extended period of Utah state court filings and determined that only 16% of the cases filed involved "torts." (I put "torts" in quotes because many Business v. Business lawsuits actually involve tort claims, such as trade secret misappropriation, fraud, etc. But uninformed people like Mitt Romney use the word "tort" synonymously with personal injury.)

For your insomnia cure reading pleasure, here is an actual typical filing day in Utah, as summarized by a commercial company. (Incidentally, the hospital lien cases were filed by our own Utah Sen. Steve Urquhart.)

3rd Judicial District Court Salt Lake County

Ronald C. Barker
JPMorgam Case Bank NA
1/22/2009 090901122 Fratto
Action for negligence and failure to act. The plaintiff deposited a check for $194,000 and the wired the money into two overseas accounts. One of the overseas banks said the money was part of a fraud and that the check was probably forged. The defendants should have spotted the fake check. The plaintiff asks for $124,000. Paid download

Colonial Pacific Leasing Corp.
Black Ridge Homes Inc.; Jaren D. Spencer
1/22/2009 090901149 Barrett
Account action. The defendants owe $99,000 for leased equipment.

Thor Construction LLC
D&F Construction LLC
1/22/2009 090901143 Faust
Account action. The defendant owes $25,000 for unspecified materials and labor.

Michael Landes
The Lodge at Snowbird Owners Association Inc.; Wayne G. Petty; Bob Bonar; Exchange Holdings Corp. VII; Ed Davies; Robert P. Shockley; Gippsland Basin Company LLC, a Florida company; Bass Straight Company LLC; Does
1/22/2009 090901145 Iwasaki
Deprivation without due process complaint. A lien for $10,000 was placed on the plaintiff's vacation home without adequate notification.

Aspen Press Company LC
Agape Printing; Kenneth Anderson; Shelby K. Duran
1/22/2009 090901152 McCleve
Open account action. The defendants owe $7,000 on an open account.

Sysco Intermountain Food Services Inc.
Jon Matonis dba Gandolfo's of Centerville; Patrick Hobbs
1/22/2009 090901144 Fratto
Open account action. The defendants owe $4,000 on an open account.

IHC Health Services Inc. dba Cottonwood Hospital
Progressive Direct; Jose Loyaza
1/22/2009 090901153 Peuler
Hospital lien violation. Cottonwood Hospital treated a patient who was injured in a car accident, and not covered by workers compensation.

IHC Health Services Inc. dba LDS Hospital
Property & Casualty Insurance of Hartford
1/22/2009 090901155 McCleve
Hospital lien violation. Cottonwood Hospital treated a patient who was injured in a car accident, and not covered by workers compensation.

IHC Health Services Inc. dba Intermountain Medical Center
Victoria Insurance Company
1/22/2009 090901156 Dever
Hospital lien violation. Cottonwood Hospital treated a patient who was injured in a car accident, and not covered by workers compensation.

Thomas Snow Removal LLC, a division of D. Thomas Companies LLC
Bennion Care Center
1/22/2009 090901146 Medley
Contract complaint. The plaintiff provided snow removal services to the defendant and has not been compensated.

Collin Van Kleeck
Mark Wisniewski; Dwell Properties LLC
1/22/2009 090901150 Medley
Contract lawsuit. The plaintiff purchased property from the defendant with the promise certain improvements would be made before the sale was finalized. Those improvements were not made.

Donita P. Smith
Aimco/Brandywine LP dba Somerset Village Apartments; Does
1/22/2009 090901137 Quinn
Slip and fall complaint. The plaintiff tripped while taking trash out to the dumpster in the dimly lit parking lot of the apartment complex.

4th Judicial District Court Utah County

Bryan Call; Call Auto Enterprises Inc.; Private Capital Group Inc.
BBP Alta LLC; BBP Makaha LLC; Does
1/20/2009 090400123 Taylor
Collection action. The defendants owe $1.3 million on a loan.

Vollkommen Construction LLC
Cody Heward; CK Holdings LLC
1/21/2009 090400170 Davis
Loan action. The defendants owe $218,000 on a loan.

John Marcum
J Ballard Homes Inc.
1/5/2009 090400086 Mortensen
Notice of transfer. The defendant sold a piece of property to the plaintiff with the intention of leasing it back. J Ballard Homes owes $38,000.

Granite LLC
Jason L. Holt; Kelli Holt; Wasatch Homes LLC; Wasatch Home Construction LLC; Jason and Kelli Holt Family LP; Jason Holt Construction Inc.; Wasatch Homes at Sand Dunes LLC; Wasatch Homes at Suncrest LLC; Wasatch Homes at County South LLC; Todd Heaps; Danielle Heaps; Steven P. Yandura; Jill E. Yandura; M&T Bank; Hartland Mortgage Centers Inc.; Citimortgage Inc.; Citibank NA; Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc.; Zions First National Bank; Does
1/16/2009 090400154 Taylor
Mechanic's lien. The defendants owe $25,000 for labor and materials on three different properties.

AFCC Limited
It's About Time Inc. dba My Girlfriend's Kitchen; Darlene Madison ; Brea Mefford; The Scenic Life LLC; Kevin Winder; Melissa Winder
1/8/2009 090100042 Maetani
Lease action. The defendant owes $19,000 in back rent.

Sierra Forest Products Inc.
Black Rock Building Group LLC dba Valley Mill Works LLC
1/7/2009 090100027 Maetani
Account action. The defendant owes $17,000 for wood products.

AFCC Limited
Rycorp Inc. dba Contours Express; Stephen D. Rollins; The Seven C's LLC
1/8/2009 090100043 Maetani
Lease action. The defendant owes $17,000 in back rent.

Sherwood Hockey Inc.
Norquay Investments LLC dba Crazzy Canuck Inc.
1/21/2009 090100160
Contract lawsuit. The defendant owes $12,000 for goods and services.

AFCC Limited
RedQ Inc. dba Sunglasses Only; Jay R. Bean
1/14/2009 090100122 Maetani
Lease action. The defendants owe $10,000 in back rent.

Mountainland Supply LLC
J Noyes Plumbing LLC; Justin Noyes
1/20/2009 090400159 Taylor
Account complaint. The defendant owes $8,000 for goods or services.

Sandra Harris
STN Inc.
1/12/2009 090100092 Maetani
Lease agreement. The defendant owes $6,000 in back rent.

Western Chain Link Fence Company Inc. dba Western Fence Company
C&B Concrete and Construction Company dba Wadsworth Custom Homes; David Garstin; Does
1/20/2009 090100143 Maetani
Account action. The defendants owe $6,000 in labor and supplies.

Moutainland Supply LLC
Lone Star Excavation Inc. Ron Wyatt aka Ronald O. Wyatt
1/16/2009 090400133 Taylor
Contract action. The defendants owe $6,000 for goods and services.

Western Chain Link Fence Company Inc. dba Western Fence Company
C&B Concrete and Construction Company dba Wadsworth Custom Homes; Augie Bove; Does
1/20/2009 090100144 Maetani
Account action. The defendants owe $4,000 in labor and supplies.

El Mexicano Market Inc.
Los Pericos Mexican Restaurant LLC
1/9/2009 090100041 Maetani
Bad check action. The defendant bounced several checks totaling $3,000.

Peachtree Estates Condominium Owners Association Inc.
Red Point Land & Development LLC
1/14/2009 090100039 Maetani
Account action. The defendant owes $2,000 for unspecified services.

Western Chain Link Fence Company Inc. dba Western Fence Company
C&B Concrete and Construction Company dba Wadsworth Custom Homes; Francois Rodriquez; Does
1/20/2009 090100142 Maetani
Account action. The defendants owe $2,000 in labor and supplies.

Department of Workforce Services
Susan Hayes; Primrose Retreat LLC
1/16/2009 090400140 Howard
Civil enforcement action. The defendant failed to deposit. $2,000.

Mountainland Supply LLC
Kasey King dba King Ranch
1/16/2009 090400142 Taylor
Account complaint. The defendant owes $2,000 for goods or services.

Urg Inc.
Ted Hansen; Rockpoint Holding LLC
1/20/2009 090100154 Maetani
Account action. The defendants owe $1,000 on an outstanding account.

Contractors Heating-Cooling Supply LLC
Rocky Ridge Air LLC; Richard Bunker
1/16/2009 090400144 Howard
Contract complaint. The defendants owe $1,000 for goods or services.

2nd Judicial District Court Davis County

Staker & Parson Companies
Maestro Builders LLC; Luke Watkins; Jared Barnes; Fitz Roy LLC; Sean D. Nelson; Sheri B. Nelson; Does
1/23/2009 090800091 Dawson
Contracts complaint.

3rd Judicial District Court Tooele County

Colonial Pacific Leasing Corporation
Double D. Excavation LLC
1/23/2009 090300120 Henriod
Contracts complaint.

3rd Judicial District Court Summit County

Business Commons III LLC
Ciralight Inc. dba Nature's Lighting; Jacqueline Stevens
1/23/2009 090500061 Lubeck
Contracts complaint.

George Fleming; Janis Fleming
DST Homes Inc.
1/23/2009 090500062 Hilder
Miscellaneous complaint.

Lynn Luke dba Rock Mountain Logs LLC
First Western Capital Co.; Century Windows & Doors LLC; Country Wood Homes LLC; Clayton W. Thorn
1/23/2009 090500063 Lubeck
Miscellaneous complaint.

5th Judicial District Court Washington County

Tracy L. Zachwieja
American Family Mutual Insurance dba American Family Insurance Group; Does; Roe Corporations
1/20/2009 090500251 Ludlow
Personal injury complaint.

8th Judicial District Court Duchesne County

Premier Bank
Tabby Mountain Ranch LLC; Gary Stringham; William W. Wall; Ray Schoenfelder
1/23/2009 090800018 Payne
Contracts complaint.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Why are Utah's GOP legislators singling out autism?

Even after reading lots of press on Sen. Howard Stephenson's bill mandating coverage in private insurance policies for autism treatment, questions still arise:

  • Why just autism? Yes, early treatment is (or may be) beneficial and save cost later, but the same is true of many medical conditions.

  • Is it not incongruous for the president of the Utah Taxpayers Assocation to sponsor this bill? Isn't this basically a disguised tax, imposed on a limited segment of Utah businesses and employees?

  • If autism treatment is sufficiently beneficial to Utahns generally to overcome the usual GOP presumption against mandates, why not make it available to all Utahns through a statewide program, rather than only those with private insurance?

  • Are Utah legislators supporting this bill because, unlike other, less "popular" conditions, they happen to know more people affected by this condition than other conditions? (And, by the way, why is that?)

  • Should legislators apply the same analysis -- benefits of treatment + later cost savings -- to mandated coverage of other conditions? (For example: treatment of morbid obesity or coverage of prosthetics, which went nowhere.)

  • I'm not necessarily opposed to the bill; I often support mandated coverages. And I have no idea how VOU2 feels about the subject. I just can't figure out why Utah's Republican senators are singing the mandate tune on this one -- and only this one.

    Dear Utah cops: Fewer prostitution busts, more theft prevention, please

    Yesterday's D-News brought us news of another prostitution bust. Earlier this month, Salt Lake City cops snared dozens of would-be johns near North Temple and State Street, and State Street between 1300 South and 2100 South. On Wednesday, Murray police arrested four employees of The Pampered Male at 772 W. Spanish Oak Way (6130 South), for allegedly offering massage customers a happy ending to their visit.

    We know the exact addresses at which these services were offered because the News helpfully provides them every time they run a story about prostitution. (Coming soon: A Map This button on their website.) What we don't know is where my video camera is. Or my laptop. Or my digital camera with the photos of Chris Buttars pinching Scott McCoy's bottom.

    Crime -- the kind with actual victims -- is soaring in Utah. Recently, one relative had a car stolen. Another lost hundreds of dollars of inventory. A friend's car was ransacked. In addition to my departed electronics, copper pipes have been snipped right out of my new house.

    So it's with a bit of annoyance that we read about police officers spending an entire day trolling for disappointed johns on State Street. How many streets could have been patrolled in that time? How much faster could response time be on stolen groceries in Wal-Mart parking lots? Priorities, please...

    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    I have finally figured out Chris Buttars' role in the Senate

    Years ago, I attended a social function with an eclectic group of invitees, including a member of an activist environmental group called Earth First! Chatting with him, he said something that put his group's "monkey wrenching" efforts into perspective: "Our job is to make the Sierra Club look reasonable."

    That observation came back to me this morning when I read another mystifying statement by Sen. Chris Buttars (R-West Pluto). Urging a state constitutional amendment to basically put the legislature in charge of death penalty appeals, Buttars told his fellow senators that there have been no executions in Utah for 20 years.

    When I read that, I thought, "Didn't we have that firing squad guy? And the guy after that? What about the hi-fi killer?" Granted, it took an entire 45 seconds on the computer to find the facts (these senators are so busy), but yes, we have indeed had three executions within the past 20 years: William Andrews, John Albert Taylor, and Joseph Mitchell Parsons.

    Could Buttars really be that clueless? I mused. Then it hit me: That's his job! His job is to make the other members of the Senate look reasonable by being a complete buffoon! All we can say is, you are very good at your job, Senator.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    Sen. Valentine starts to redeem himself

    Some of us who followed the Senate's torch-and-pitchfork confirmation hearings with Judge Robert Hilder were rather dismayed with Sen. John "He Hurt My Feelings" Valentine, who acknowledged that Hilder was qualified for the position, but voted no because Hilder had supposedly been disrespectful to the villagers.

    Valentine is partially redeeming himself by proposing a well-needed regulation of communications with judges by senators. Last year, for example, Sen. Chris Buttars sent a rant on Senate letterhead to a Fourth District Court judge who ruled against a friend of Buttars'. As described in the Trib, Valentine's resolution would set parameters, such as requiring such contact to be done openly and after the resolution of the case.

    These restrictions would preserve the integrity of the judicial system, respect the concept of separation of powers doctrine, and make sense. Ergo, they are doomed.

    Tuesday, February 03, 2009

    The incredible shrinking ethics bill

    We noticed in today's Deseret Morning News that -- prepare yourself -- Sen. John Valentine's ethics bill is getting smaller, and smaller, and smaller (kind of like Valentine's influence).

    According to the News, Valentine started out banning gifts over $10-15 to legislators. Then they could take the gifts, but would have to disclose it. In the latest version, they could accept gifts of up to $25, and no one would have to disclose it. At this rate, Valentine will be requiring gifts by the end of the session.