Friday, February 08, 2008

More Evidence of Ogden's Growing Reputation for Mayoral Skullduggery

Salt Lake City Weekly examines State Representive Neil Hansen's proposed 2008 election law reform legislation

By Curmudgeon

The current issue of the SL City Weekly has a longish article headlined: "Ballot Lessons: An Ogden election fiasco prompts proposals to overhaul voting in Utah’s Legislature."

There's much copy on Rep. Hansen's pending bill, on some proposed amendments, and the likelihood of passage, and a flattering photo of Rep. Hansen. Interesting reading. Just more evidence of Ogden's growing reputation for skullduggery under Hizzonah, Mayor Godfrey.

The article can be found here.

Please don't hesitate to chime in with your comments.

18 comments:

RudiZink said...

Thanks for the article, Curm.

Bring the curious type, we checked out the state legislature website; and it appears that Rep. Hansen has no fewer than four election-related bills now pending in the legislature:

HB-175 - Election Law Reforms
HB-283 - Compact Agreement among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote
HB-296 - Voting Machines Used by Municipalities
HB-317 - Election Day Voter Registration

Rep. Hansen's obviously been a busy fella.

Legal Eagle said...

I'm looking for a bill from Hansen (or any other legislator) to send Potato Nose and Shortdeck to Draper for the rest of their lives, for the crime of "felony stupidity".

Bill C. said...

Word is Valentine and Bramble are floating an idea to have all white male LDS votes counted twice due to changing statewide population demographics. Their concerns were hightened when Mitt got only 90% of republican votes and not 90% of all votes.

frank said...

Another article - this in the DNews - about Hansen wanting to make Legislators full time year round State employees.

Read it here:

Hansen wants a job

While I think Hansen is a good guy and adequate representative, sometime I think he just doesn't get it. I am particularly concerned about his wishy washy position on ethics in the State House. Seems like he likes those "perks" as well as the big dog in the Utah Demo Party - Dimitrich. Hansen is quoted in the DNews article as saying:

"I know some people believe that taking a gift from a lobbyist means undue influence on our decision-making. I don't believe that."

Makes one wonder if all the rumors about Hansen being mentally and ethically challenged might not be correct.

Curmudgeon said...

Frank:

On that point... taking gifts from lobbyists and people with business before the legislature... Rep. Hansen is wrong. As are, sadly, the overwhelming majority of the legislators, who vote down attempts to end such gifts every time they come up. You can fairly raise his stand on that as matter of ethics. But using a policy disagreement with a legislator to conclude that he is "mentally challenged" is exactly the kind of poisonous politics of personal destruction that makes public discussion of policy differences difficult.

On most matters, however, Hansen's voting record puts him on the right [as in correct] side of things, as opposed to the wrong [as in Wingnut Troika of Bramble, Curtis and Buttars] side of things.

Naturally, I wish my legislators agreed with me about everything. But I long ago gave up expecting to find perfect agreement with my views in any political leader or elected official. On balance, I will take Mr. Hansen as a rep. of the Weber County Democratic Party over his Republican opposition in a heart beat. And campaign for him. Occasional poor judgment and disagreement with me on a matter of policy nonetheless. His legislative judgment is much preferable to the steady diet of 19th century gilded age Social Darwinst babble and bumper-sticker patriotism we get from the other side, very nearly all the time. [All together now, can we say "school vouchers"? Or Mr. Christiansen's current urgent bill to require an American flag in every school classroom... especially the two or three that maybe don't have them now. Reason: because schoolchildren, K-12, "nedd to know that flag." Apparently Mr. Christiansen thinks one of the great problems facing Utah today is that elementary, middle and high school students don't recognize the American flag. And you're questioning Hansen's judgment?]]

As for making legislators full time state office holders: have to think about that some. Upsides and downsides. It does seem obvious, though, going in, that having law made in Utah by part-time legislators who are full-time developers, attorneys for developers, and others who have much to gain from the passage of the legislation they sponsor [charter school builders, nuke power project investors, etc.], has not worked, seems to me, very well. Maybe we ought to consider some alternative scheme of representation. Maybe Rep. Hansen's; maybe another. Worth thinking about at least.

Yes it would cost significantly more money. The question is, would the state get, as a result of that expenditure, significantly better laws. But I suspect probably the money saved not having to defend in court, year in an year out, the unconstitutional wackiness from Buttars & Co. that becomes law would pay for the increased legislative salaries. And then some.

frank said...

Curmudgeon

I didn't say that Hansen WAS "mentally challenged".

What I did say is: "Makes one wonder if all the rumors about Hansen being mentally and ethically challenged might not be correct."

If you have paid as much attention as I think you have, you know that there has been a lot of speculation in Ogden about Hansen's mental capacity as well as his ethics. I haven't necessarily agreed with this school of thought, but statements like his makes one wonder. That's all I said professor. Certainly not enough to justify you jumping on that high horse of yours.

I also said: "While I think Hansen is a good guy and adequate representative, sometime I think he just doesn't get it. I am particularly concerned about his wishy washy position on ethics in the State House"

I also do not consider this whole ethics issue that is such a problem in Utah Politics as merely a "policy disagreement"

Bill C. said...

Curm, Neil may be on to something. Full time with a very modest salary,(see legislators historical treament of school teachers) they would have to weigh their current occupation against lesser income. It also makes some sense given that they have by law a requirement to vote in person on every bill, some 1200 of them. It could take a full year to read, let alone understand that much written jibberish.

Lester said...

I voted for Mike Huckabee in Tuesday's primary.

Here's why:

Sea Salt!

More

Curmudgeon said...

Frank:
Ok. Then it seems we are disagreeing about less than I thought. My apologies if I read more into your post than you intended.

Curmudgeon said...

Chris Buttars Strikes Again!

From a late posted story in the SL Trib:

Proposed amendments to the state's Government Records Access and Management Act would make information on police misconduct off limits to the public.
SB260, sponsored by Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, would among other things, classify information about charges or disciplinary action taken against police officers as private, unless officers grant written consent to make the data public.
The bill was introduced in the Senate Rules Committee meeting on Friday and is already raising eyebrows among those who support liberal open records laws.
Such limitations on police disciplinary records may mean journalists won't have access to information on police punished for using deadly force, involved in sexual misconduct or other questionable behavior, said Joel Campbell, a Brigham Young University professor and member of the Freedom of Information Committee for the national Society of Professional Journalists.
"Police are granted a lot of power in our society. It seems appropriate that the public has a right to know when police officers run afoul of department policy or the law," Campbell said.
Buttars couldn't be reached late Friday for comment on what prompted him to bring the amendment regarding police discipline records forward.


here.

ET said...

Here is a bill to get Hansen to vote down:
HB 139
This bill will force XMission to shut down free wifi in SLC.
It was XMISION who planned to wifi downtown Ogden.
Here is press release from Xmission site, 4.19.07:
XMission Unvails Plans for Free Wireless Service in Ogden:
http://wiki.xmission.com/index.php/XMission_Unveils_Plans_for_Free_Wireless_Service_in_Ogden

In Pete Ashdown's blog, from 1.24.08, Ashdown laments that he will be shutting down all of his free wifi in SLC, because of Utah House bill 139. The comments logged into this blog explain why Ogden will not get free wifi from the wonderful XMission Pete:

"The End of Free XMission Wireless":
http://peteashdown.org/journal/2008/01/24/the-end-of-free-xmission-wireless/

XMission fans are writing REP Brad DAW for introducing such a stupid bill.

googleboy said...

The Shame Of Utah’s Democrats: Rep. Neil Hansen

If you paid us more… we wouldn’t take bribes.

Myra said...

Neil Hansen is dumb! If you don't believe it, just ask some of those nattering nabobs that run Smart Growth Ogden. There were several of them that told every one that would listen about how dumb Hansen is. I didn't believe it until he knocked on my door during the election. After listening to him and looking at his literature I came to the conclusion he really is dumb. I am not surprised that he is pushing for the legislators to become full time state employees as he apparently is unemployed otherwise. Talk about using his elected position to pursue his own interests. He is every bit as corrupt as the republicans. I agree, he is the shame of the state democrats.

danny said...

In fairness, Xmission was only going to be free for 1 hour, then it would cost, or be slow. So it wasn't as good as it sounded. But still, it could get more folks connected.

But why make it illegal? To stop "children" from having Internet access and who might look at inappropriate material, and get themselves into trouble, because their loser parents (like state representative Brad Daw and his significant other) don't supervise or instruct them properly and so want the government to do it by law?

Curmudgeon said...

Dear Myra and Googleboy:

I was what you call a nattering nabob of SGO... still am. And I worked for Rep. Hansen's mayoral campaign. Other SGO supporters worked for other candidates and many worked for none at all. And supporters voted for every candidate running. Hardly surprising since the group is a non-partisan one.

Disparaging back chatter about candidates supported by others is, unhappily, a common occurrence these days. But I'd be hard put to think, in an election contest, of a source of information less likely to be unbiased and objective than gossip from one candidate's supporters about a rival candidate.

If you spoke to Rep. Hansen and read his campaign lit and concluded he was not the candidate for you, fair enough. But I notice that you identified nothing in his campaign lit that would support your claims about him. Just another bit of post-election name-calling it seems.

As for full time legislators, I don't know if it's a good idea or not. Haven't thought it through yet. I see both advantages and drawbacks. The key question I have to resolve, and haven't yet, is this: would full-time legislators produce better laws in Utah than the part timers we now employ the job? If so, it might be worth every penny and cheap at twice the price. Still thinking on it.

As for your implication that any legislator even suggesting full time legislators is necessarily corrupt: well, I'm sorry you think that way about the American Founding Fathers. Because following independence, in their own states and in the first US Congress, they debated the matter Hansen raised in his quip [and it was a quip] about better pay yielding fewer bribes quite seriously. They worried about a government staffed only by the rich [who would presumably be beyond the reach of petty bribery] on the one hand, and they worried about legislators being paid a decent salary so that the non-rich could afford to serve being susceptible to petty bribery on the other. So, guys, the issues you scoff at Hansen for raising were taken seriously by the Founders, were debated seriously by them, and for a long time. The issues are as serious today, God knows, with the papers being filled with endless tales of [mostly but not exclusively] Republican legislative corruption. I say good for Hansen for at least raising the question of a possible fix... whether I end up agreeing that his idea is a good one or not.

disgusted said...

myra
its good to know youre the smartest person in the room.

Curmudgeon said...

SL Trib this morning has more on Hansen's proposal here including some important elements of his plan strangely not mentioned by those disparaging his proposal on WCF. From the Trib article:

One Utah lawmaker suggests banning all lobbyist gifts on one condition - that senators and representatives receive an annual salary rather than the current pay per day in session. At present, Utah's legislators get paid $130 per day in session or interim meetings plus an allowance of $54 for meals, $94 to $107 for hotel (depending on time of year) and 48.5 cents per mile.

Rep. Neil Hansen, D-Ogden, presented HJR15 to the Constitutional Revision Commission Friday, saying he got the idea from a newspaper editorial urging a gift ban and pay raise. Hansen's joint resolution also would require that, if approved by two-thirds majority in the Legislature, the question be put to voters this November, when the presidential election would draw a large turnout.


Still not sure the idea is a good one, but kudos to Rep. Hansen for proposing that the annual salary provision go before the voters as a referendum. A proposal to shift to full time legislators should go before the people first. [Compare, for example, the Republican majority in the last session ramming through a school voucher bill that the public did not want, and forcing voters to mount a difficult and expensive petition campaign simply to get the right to vote on the matter. Which when the public got enough signatures to put the voucher plan on a referendum ballot over the annoyed opposition of the legislature, they voted down resoundingly.]

Why does it not surprise me that it's a Democratic member of the Utah legislature who wants the people to decide, in the end, if the basis for legislators' pay should change or not?

I have to disagree with Hansen on this though: his tying an annual legislative salary to a ban on lobbyists' gifts. I understand the tactical advantage of doing that -- it increases the odds of a gift ban passing significantly. But they really are, or ought to be, separate issues. The legislature ought to pass a gift ban straight up, now, with no strings attached. And it should send Hansen's plan to the voters for their decision, straight up as a stand alone referendum. Each proposal should be considered on its merits, independent of the other.

Do what is right said...

Maybe all you know it all's should read the standard editoral first and see just where Hansen is coming from.
Read it and then open your mouths.


Legislative swag baggers



After perusing the state’s online lobbyist disclosure forms, the first question that springs to mind is: Do our state lawmakers ever pay for their own meals?

Have a look for yourself at https://secure.utah.gov/lobbyist/lobbysearch. It’s enough to make you gasp — immediately followed by an involuntary deepening of your cynicism regarding our elected leaders. More than half of the $279,000

gifts, , , etc., given to lawmakers during 2007 is listed without the names of recipients attached. That’s because lobbyists don’t have to identify the receiver if the freebie is under $50.

You’ll notice, as we did, that lots of gifts are listed as being worth $49.

Our opinion on this issue has been consistent over the : Lawmakers and state executives should ban gifts, period. But since that’s not likely to happen soon — at least one lawmaker in an open meeting has tearfully defended the free meals and event tickets and rounds of golf as deserved compensation for time spent on state business and away from a loving family at home — we have repeatedly requested that all gifts be reported, no matter the value.

But lawmakers are so wedded to their gifts — along with their own anonymity — that they refuse to do even this.

It’s difficult to believe lawmakers when they say the gifts don’t influence them. Of course they do. If they didn’t, they’d give them up.

Who takes them? Just about everybody’s mentioned in the reports as having received at least one freebie over the $50 reporting threshold. Some have even taken trips, and lots of them are wined and dined with spouses in tow — maybe the way to a legislator’s heart is through his or her spouse.

If lawmakers really don’t

up to where it should be, they should ban the gifts and raise their own pay.

This won’t happen in an election year, so don’t look for anyone outside a newspaper editorial page to suggest such a thing in 2008, but this suggestion should be seriously considered

Unfortunately, we are at a time in our state’s history where people running for office — local, county and state — really don’t do it just because they want to serve; almost everyone seems always to be asking for a little bit more return for the time they spend performing the public’s business.

OK, then. If that’s the way it has to be, give up the gifts and raise the pay. At least that way the only thing voters can complain about is incompetence — graft, the situation we have right now, is a lot worse than being overpaid.

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