Friday, February 29, 2008

The Salt Lake Tribune Comes Out Swinging

Senators Valentine and Buttars take some severe editorial heat
Added bonus: "Good stuff" from the Utah blogosphere

We'd like to put the spotlight on this scathing editorial in this morning's Salt Lake Tribune, on the subject of ethics in the state legislature. Here are the blistering opening 'graphs:

If anyone in Utah still believes that there's nothing rotten in the state of Utah's legislative branch, then they haven't been paying attention for a long, long time. Perhaps they'd rather hold to the belief that their lawmakers are as ethical and honorable as they keep claiming they are.
Well, many of them aren't, folks, and we take no pleasure in saying so.
But the stench of corruption around the Capitol from all the self-dealing, bullying, power-grabbing, hate-mongering, lavish lobbying and slavish payback, is strong enough to make the eyes smart and the nostrils burn.
Strong words, we grant you. But after it was revealed that Senate President John Valentine had ignored a gross ethical breach by Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, until, many months later, it was reported in this newspaper, we believe we're in no danger of overstating the ethical vacuum and sense of entitlement that pervade Capitol Hill today.
Yes, once again the bumbling Senator Chris Buttars is at the center of the controversy du-jour. State Senate President John Valentine's in the thick of it too. Read the full editorial here.

Senator Valentine can't imagine what the problem is. All Buttars did, after all, was send a threatening letter to a sitting Utah District Court Judge who'd ruled unfavorably against one of Buttars' cronies... on official Utah Legislature stationary... while serving as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee... you know, the committee which screens judges who are appointed to the Utah bench. This was no big deal to Valentine of course, who takes the remarkable position (with a completely straight face) that Buttars can shield his egregious misconduct behind the protections of the First Amendment. Hoo-boy.

And for some background on Senator Buttars' most recently-exposed political blunder, which the ethics-challenged Senate President John Valentine reportedly kept buried for at least two months, check out this short article collection from the The Third Avenue, where you'll find some exceptional analysis and commentary on the subject.

So how about it gentle readers? Anyone want to comment on ethics in the State Legislature (if any,) this bright Weber County Friday morning?

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Update 2/29/08 3:35 MT: Another good update from The Third Avenue. The young Utah lawyer who runs this blog is very politically astute, we think. And he's definitely on a roll, in re this story.


I told you so said...

Well I guess that when the capitol was reopened this year and everything is so new. Maybe it is time to bring in a new show of real representation form the democrats and sweep out all the dirt and crap that is walking around the halls of the ivory tower.

Curmudgeon said...

Interesting to note, that while Buttars no longer chairs the Sen. Judiciary Committee, he still sits on it as a voting member. If his ethical breech was significant enough for Sen. Valentine to remove him as chair, I have to wonder why he's still on the committee at all.

The most interesting part of the SL Trib piece was Valentine's [I am sure inadvertent] revelation that what Buttars did was only a problem because the SL Trib found out about it and made it public. A fairly breathtaking admission, seems to me. Valentine seems to think what Buttars did was just fine, so long as the press and public didn't know he did it.

Valentine is what passes for ethical "leadership" [politely so called] in Utah's Republican-dominated legislature.

RudiZink said...

Precisely right, Curm. Bad as it was that Valentine (and others) apparently concealed the problem for a number of months, the admission that these guys thought it was ethically OK, so long as the matter was not made public, is the Franz Kafkan frosting on the cake.

Rebel With a Cause said...

(After the scoldings by the Salt Lake Tribune's editorials concerning misdeeds of the Utah State Legisslators, it would appropriate and helpful if President Valentine of the Senate and Speaker Curtis of the House would attempt to improve their images by mollifying their obvious biases in favor of their real-estate buddies for once and vote for SB25 when it comes up in their jurisdictions, or refrain from voting because of their conflicts of interest. The people of Ogden Valley have suffered enough from tyranny and deliberate circumvention of the wise rulings made by the County Planning Committee,(which are being imposed on them by the determined self-serving developers.)

lassus said...

The influence of developers, realtors, and the ilk on the State Legislature has been appalling over the recent past. Last year's HB 466 is one of only several over the past few years that have taken rights and safeguards away from the general public and have put more power into the hands of private developers.

These bills being rubber stamped through the legislature will have irrevocable consequences for not only the general public today but for future generations to come, developers will reap while the public will pay for their shortsightedness. It is absolutely out of control. It seems as if any wing-nut Republican can be elected in this state. Half the people elected do not have a clue! Listening to some of them on the house and senate floor and in interviews is unbelievable, they cannot string together more than 2 thoughts, and the thoughts they can rub together are insane. And they're representing us and making serious policy decisions that will help decide our future?

Sorry for the rant, but thanks to the WCF for highlighting this one bill and the reaction against it. More newspapers and media outlets need to start grilling these arrogant close-minded representatives of ours and make them more responsible, especially when it comes to matter such as land-use (I would like to see a tally on how many legislators have personally benefited from pro-development-related bills they have helped pass.) Ethics, Schmethics.

RudiZink said...

Thanks for the good rant, Lassus. Rants are the lifeblood of Weber County Forum, BTW.

Welcome... and don't be a stranger.

danny said...

I read the Buttars letter.

Now, what was the ruling he was so upset about?

Buttar's letter does not seem so bad except that:

1. What was he hoping to accomplish other than to vent?
2. Given 1, it seems imprudent of him at the least.

I would like to know more about the ruling in question. It sounds like an activist judge preserved a trail. Bully for him!

Fill us in, Dan S.

dan s. said...


Huh? What makes you think I keep up with Buttars' exploits? There's plenty to keep me busy closer to home.

danny said...

Dan S:

I was unclear.

I meant has there been a court ruling saying trails are right of ways and have to be maintained, in the face of Buttars' statements that the legislature outlawed that?

That is something important for us to know about here in Ogden and which I assumed you would be very familiar with.

danny said...

Hard times ahead for Ogden's borrow and spend mayor:,1,6650142.story?ctrack=4&cset=true

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