Sunday, July 27, 2014

Standard-Examiner: Lessons Gained From Stewart Shooting Review

Ultimately, the buck stops with Weber County voters

As a followup to our Thursday, July 17 writeup, wherein we shined the spotlight on the recently released " Ogden Police Department internal shooting review report summary," The Standard's Ben Lockhart jumps aboard the bandwagon with this robust Sunday morning story, again putting the disastrous 1/4/12 blunders of local police agencies into sharp focus :
However belatedly, it's entirely fitting that this story would be splashed all over the SE front page this morning, we believe. Ultimately, the buck stops with Weber County voters, dunnit?

A Weber County Tip O' The Hat to Ben Lockhart, for providing this thoroughly well-researched report.

Sodden Question: Despite the headline, did anybody in authority truly learn any real lessons from this fiasco?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pioneer Day 2014 Songfest Special

The anthem of the Mormon pioneers, in the spirit of Pioneer Day

In the spirit of Pioneer Day, we'll embed this visually dramatized version of "Come, Come, Ye Saints" (originally "All is Well"), sometimes considered to be the anthem of the Mormon pioneers.

This hymn was written by William Clayton on April 15, 1846, as his Mormon pioneer caravan rested at Locust Creek, Iowa, over 100 miles west of its origin city of Nauvoo, Illinois.

This song has special meaning for your blogmeister and his family, folks, inasmuch as just prior to writing the lyrics, Clayton had received word that his wife, Diantha Farr Clayton, the sister of your blogmeister's great-great grandfather, Lorin Farr, had given birth to a healthy boy in Nauvoo, about which event Clayton stated in his journal that he "...composed a new song—'All is well.' I feel to thank my heavenly father for my boy and pray that he will spare and preserve his life and that of his mother and so order it so that we may soon meet again."

As an added bonus, we'll reprise another version of this stirring and uplifting hymn, performed by Texas gee-tar virtuoso Mark Patrick Abernathy. This version's our personal favorite; and frankly, we can't get enough of it:

Here are the lyrics, for those musically-inclined readers who might be compelled to sing (or strum ) along.

(And yes, long-time WCF readers with functioning memories, this is something of a re-run).

So which rendition do you prefer, O Gentle Ones?

You be the judge.

And have a safe and sane holiday, folks, whether you're celebrating this day as traditional Pioneer Day, or the more recently trendy Pie N' Beer Day.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Standard-Examiner Editorial: Our View: Put Limits On [Utah] Campaign Cash

Howbout you? ...are you "on the bus" with this, WCF Peeps?

Top-notch editorial in Sunday's edition of our WCF home town newspaper, (the Standard-Examiner.)

Here's the lede, WCF political wonks:
Honestly, is there any argument left against Utah setting limits on campaign donations?
Or, are we once again going to deal with the same pusillanimous arguments by our pols that Utah does not need campaign cash limits, that the idea that big dollars would influence our vote is insulting, and that everything is properly disclosed, ad nauseam, and so on?
After the several-years spectacle of the attorney general’s office being receptive to those with the biggest cash pockets, such enabling rhetoric is enough to make one clutch an air sick bag.
And here's the full editorial for your perusal:
More summary argument from the Standard-Examiner:
Utah is one of only four states that basically have no limits on money that can be stuffed in pols’ pockets for use in campaigns. Also, in the matter of disclosure, Utah falls behind most of the other states. This is a dysfunction that should have been corrected a long time ago. But it wasn’t. Pols, enjoying the access and cash of deep-pocket donors, have instead passed mostly meaningless “baby-step” reforms.
The embarrassing and sickening saga of Shurtleff and Swallow must change the mind set and break down the objections. It’s time to limit campaign cash.
Weber County Forum will be seriously (perhaps feverishly) on this bandwagon during the 2015 Legislative session, concerning the campaign finance reforms which the SE Editorial Board proposes.

Howbout you?

Are you "on the bus" with this, WCF Peeps?

Exhibit "A" for Utah Campaign Finance Reform:

Swallow/Shurtleff Booking Photos
Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Salt Lake Tribune: Police Detail What Went Wrong in Fatal Shootout With Matthew David Stewart - Updated

Internal review says officers made mistakes before and during the fatal drug raid on Matthew David Stewart’s home.

As a followup our earlier reporting on the January 4, 2012 Matthew Stewart matter, we'll direct our readers' attention to this morning's Salt Lake Tribune story, focusing on "[a] summary of the Ogden Police Department’s internal shooting review report, released this week as part of a Salt Lake Tribune open-records request, showing that many policy violations..."  contributed to the carnage which occurred on that fateful night in 2012.

Notably, The Trib has expended substantial effort in prying this information loose. "The Tribune requested internal police reviews in May 2013, shortly after Matthew David Stewart, who was charged with shooting the officers, committed suicide at the Weber County jail and his criminal case was closed. The police department denied the request, citing privacy issues.
The Tribune appealed the decision to Ogden’s records review board — which also denied the request.
In February of this year, The Tribune filed a lawsuit in 2nd District Court seeking the report.
The release of the report — actually an eight-page summary of the internal reviews— was the result of out-of-court negotiations between the two parties after the lawsuit was filed," according to this story's sidebar note.

Read up, folks.  This story of massive across-the board police incompetence is a real doozy -- a major screwup which ultimately cost two human lives:
Here's the scathing full summary, for those readers who'd like to go to the direct source material:
We'd label it a "comedy of errors," folks, but frankly, this story ain't the least bit funny.

Among "the policy changes [that] have helped remedy issues of conflicting policies between police agencies that serve on the strike force, and also helped make officers safer."  And in that connection, and the wake of this horribly botched police raid, we'll make note of this:
It [has now become] a requirement that all officers must wear "full entry gear" when entering a home during search warrant service, and that supervisors must do a gear check before entry.
Seems that the "macho" cops of Ogden haven't even learned even the first lesson from this fiasco, No?

Which lesson ought to be.... you don't place human lives in danger to bust a so-called "low-level marijuana guy"  in the first place.

Bonus Question: Isn't it about time for the Utah legislature to weigh in on this? Seems major Utah legislation limiting these door-busting home invasions to situations where human life is already at risk would be good start.

Update 7/18/14 8:00 a.m.: Police reform advocate Radley Balko is now all over this story; and he's pulling no punches at all:
"One might suggest that the fact that Stewart was a “low-level marijuana guy” would be a good reason to leave the battering ram at the police station. Had they done a little more investigating, they might have learned that Stewart worked at Walmart. Perhaps they could have sent a couple uniformed cops to arrest him at his job. Better yet, a little more investigation might have revealed the fact that Stewart wasn’t selling or distributing his pot to anyone — that it was for his own personal use — and concluded that it would be best to just leave him alone. God forbid. [Sadly,] [t]hat isn’t how [Ogden Police Chief] Ashment sees it."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Breaking: Swallow, Shurtleff Taken Into Custody - Updated

Needless to say, we'll update this page as the story develops

Via KSL News. This, folks is the news that all WCF political wonks have been ever-so-eagerly awaiting:
SALT LAKE CITY — Former Attorneys General John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff were arrested and taken into custody Tuesday, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill confirmed.

The FBI planned a 9 a.m. news conference in regards to the state arrest warrants issued Tuesday morning. The arrests come after search warrants were served at both men's homes in June.

More information will be posted as it becomes available.
Here's the story link, folks:
Needless to say, we'll update this page as the story develops.

Update 7/15/14 9:42 a.m.:  The Tribune carries a very robust post- news conference story on this topic, which, among other things, details the nature of the multiple felony and misdemeanor charges so far lodged against Shurtleff and Swallow. The Trib's Robert Gehrke is doing a yeoman's job keeping this story regularly updated, btw:
Update 7/16/14 8:30 a.m.:  This story is grabbing national attention, of course. Here's yesterday's New York Times writeup, for example:
  • Shurtleff holds a news conference accusing Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill of conducting a political witch hunt [Utah Policy, Tribune, Deseret News].
  • Here's video of Shurtleff's arrest [KUTV].
  • Utah political leaders react to the arrests [Tribune, Daily Herald].
  • There may be more arrests tied to the Swallow/Shurtleff scandal [Tribune].
  • The Department of Justice is getting a black eye for ending their probe into Swallow and Shurtleff [Tribune].
  • Where does the Swallow/Shurtleff scandal rank among Utah's history of political wrongdoing? [Tribune]
Update 7/16/14 9:44 a.m.: With considerable delight, we'll highlight this poignant Paul Rolly piece, dripping with Utah politico-cultural irony:
Update 7/17/14 10:00 a.m.:  Added bonus... This morning's Bagley cartoon:

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Salt Lake Tribune: Texts Reveal Raw Tensions Between Shurtleff, Former Aide

Torgeson: "pissed about the damn stupid things John [Swallow] did"

Thanks to yesterday's story from intrepid Salt Lake Tribune journalist Robert Gherke, check out these amazing internal email messages, recently revealed, concerning our Utah Attorney General's Office, which was obviously in the proceess of "melting down" even during the years of the Mark Shurltleff Utah Attorney General Administration, long prior to the even more didastrous John Swallow administration, a situation which  one savvy social media correspondent descibes thusly:

"It's so special when power-mad Utah politicos/alleged criminals text back and forth like snippy lovers. Dontcha think?"

Here's Mr. Gehrke's lede:
This story and accompanying graphics contain unedited text messages with sometimes-offensive language.
In a frank, pointed exchange last year, Mark Shurtleff’s former top deputy scolded his ex-boss in a series of heated text messages for his "stupid" actions that cast the entire Utah attorney general’s office in a bad light.
"I have spent the last 4 months listening to people shred our offices and [sic] integrity. It has been hell," Kirk Torgensen, Shurtleff’s former top deputy, wrote to the former attorney general in April 2013 as the scandal engulfed the office. "I am pissed about that and the damn stupid things John [Swallow] did. … Shit John made 24 grand on the side and hardly came to work for an entire year."

The sporadic and spirited text exchanges span eight months, during which time Torgensen rails against his former boss for exercising poor judgment and Shurtleff acknowledges making serious mistakes in not taking Torgensen’s advice.
Read the full Trib story here:
Good catch, Mr,. Gehrke, we say. Enightening, to say the least.

Read up, folks.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Kearns-Tribune, Deseret News Ask Judge to Toss Antitrust Lawsuit

Our take?  This patently frivolous lawsuit will be "dumped" before the end of the month

Following up on our earlier story on this topic, we learn this morning from The Standard-Examiner, the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News that "[t]he Deseret News’ top managers and The Salt Lake Tribune’s corporate owners are asking a federal judge to reject claims that a new business arrangement between Utah’s two largest newspapers violates the law and should be undone. U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups has scheduled a July 21 hearing on the lawsuit, filed last month by a nonprofit group called Citizens for Two Voices (also known as the Utah Newspaper Project)":
The appellant newspaper owners "argue that the Utah Newspaper Project lacks proper legal standing to pursue the case, primarily because its members haven’t shown how they are injured by the JOA changes, beyond "hypothetical" and "conjectural" allegations of how they or others in Utah might suffer from losing The Tribune’s editorial voice if the paper shut down," according the the above-linked Trib story, among other things.

"Claims that the new JOA is ultimately intended to put The Tribune out of business are baseless, [appellants] have [affimatively] contended, saying there are no plans to shut down the paper — 'not this week, this month, this year, or ever'"

Our take? This patently frivolous (but well-meaning) lawsuit will be "dumped" before the end of the month.

Comments, anyone?

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