Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rep. Froerer's HB 201: A Victim of Senate GOP Leadership's Parliamentary Dirty Tricks

Waddoups adjourns early, rather than risking a full Senate floor vote

The Standard-Examiner provides more detail this morning on House District 8 Gage Froerer's HB 201, which was unceremoniously killed by Senate GOP leaders during the last minutes of the 2009 legislative session. Reporter DeMoss adds a new wrinkle to the story, reporting that the bill was next in line for consideration by the full Senate, with an adequate number of Senate votes already lined up, when the Senate President Waddoups apparently brought down the gavel to adjourn the session. From this morning's story:
HB 201 passed the House on a vote of 52-to-17 on March 6. When the Senate ended its 2009 general session last Thursday, an hour before required, it was the next bill scheduled to be heard. [Emphasis added]
Eden resident and prospective "Powdervillian" Darla VanZeben was present in the Senate on Thursday night, (along with an entourage of concerned Ogden Valley residents.) She offers her own observations about the behavior of Senate GOP Leadership, and the last-minute parliamentary maneuvering;s which led to the killing of the bill. Without specifically naming names, Ms. VanZeben nevertheless lays the blame exactly where it belongs:
"We were terribly disappointed in some of the leadership of the Senate in particular," said Darla VanZeben, an Eden resident and outspoken opponent of Powder Mountain town. "There was a way to restore rights to the citizens, and they elected not to hear it."
Incorporating remarks from Representative Froerer, Mr. DeMoss's narrative alludes to "powerful lobbying interests" which, with the help of Senate GOP leadership, ultimately outmaneuvered HB 201 proponents on Thursday night:
Froerer said the same lobbying interests that brought the 2007 legislation "were heavily invested in me not being successful" with HB 201 this year.
"Some people worked very hard to ensure we had enough votes in the Senate," he said. "I felt comfortable we had the votes, but there were obviously some larger powers in play."
And exactly WHO were these "larger powers in play," whose main object amounted to leaving the folks of Powderville under the thumb of a prospective corporate dictatorship? Mr. Demoss provides the answer:
The Utah League of Cities and Towns, the only group to testify against the bill in a committee hearing this year, opposes removing the two-year waiting period.
"We've consistently supported the concept of a waiting period," said Roger Tew, a lobbyist for the group. "Before drastic changes are made to undo often contentious decisions, you need an opportunity to see the results of those decisions."
So there you have it folks. When well prepared advocates of American democracy were ready to square off on Thursday night against the lobby of the real estate development fatcats, Senate GOP leaders sided with the fatcats, closed off discussion of HB 201 and shut down the legislative session an hour early. Senate GOP leadership knows exactly which side of the bread gets the butter, after all.

And parenthetically, you just have to love the lower quote from GOP Senate Majority Whip Scott Jenkins. Jenkins is the single member of Senate GOP leadership elected from Weber County, and the one locally-elected member of the Senate who probably had the requisite political clout to move this matter to the forefront. Unfortunately Senator Jenkins instead chose to sit on his thumbs, rather than help restore the voting rights of a small group of Weber County citizens:
Senate Majority Whip Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, said it's easy to blame the Senate, but the House also delayed action on the bill until less than a week before the end of the session.
What the hell. The politically disenfranchized citizens of Ogden Valley aren't Jenkins's constituents anyway. Better to let Rep. Froerer and Sen. Allen Christensen take the political heat. Right?

Just for the record, we're informed by several Powderville citizens, by the way, that Rep. Froerer and Sen. Christensen had something like 18 or 19 Senate votes all lined up. That's why Waddoups pulled the plug and ended the session early.

The floor is open for our readers' reaction to these latest HB 201 revelations.


Curmudgeon said...

And yet all those Senate and House Republicans... a substantial majority in both bodies... raised Jenkins and Waddups, by their votes, to the leadership positions which enabled them to kill the legislation without a floor debate or vote.

From which facts some here will conclude the solution to such problems is to... continue to vote Republican in Utah legislative elections.

What was that definition of insanity usually attributed to Albert Einstein? Doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results?

And the beat goes on....

Curmudgeon said...

As has often been noted here, the SE is woefully unwilling to dig for news where the city's administration is concerned, and too often willing to content itself with doing press-release journalism.

It seems this is a problem not only here in Ogden but elsewhere as well, as newspapers, struggling to stay afloat, walk away from investigative reporting of any sort as too labor intensive and [therefor] too expensive for them in these parlous times. But a new model for investigative journalism is emerging on line in the west, called "crowdfunding," and I thought WCF might find it interesting.

"Crowdfunded" investigative journalism involves people on line contributing small sums each to collectively hire an investigative reporter to do one story, on commission, a story the local press cannot or will not cover. There's a description of a website set up in California to facilitate this in the latest High Country News [link here].

From the HCN story:

Imagine you live in a place dominated by a single industry: oil-and-gas drilling, say, or real estate, or a university, or just single-minded, intolerant politics. You see unfairness or corruption and think that a hard-hitting investigation might lead to improvements. The local news operations tend to favor the status quo because they rely on advertising from the dominant industry or aren't equipped to investigate.

So you go to a Web site and propose the investigation you have in mind. You figure it could be done for $2,000, which would cover a journalist's time and expenses. You use your credit card to pledge $50 toward the total. You tell other people, and they tell others. Eventually, enough people make pledges to cover the full $2,000.

Then the Web site boss hires the right journalist, who does the story –– and blows the lid off whatever injustice you targeted.

Sound far-fetched? A year ago, it was. But today it's possible, thanks to a 26-year-old San Francisco innovator named David Cohn.

Cohn's website is, HCN says,

one of many signs that journalism is changing. Daily newspapers, magazines and broadcast news shows are struggling financially as more people get their news online. But online news operations typically lack the staff or money for news-gathering.... The public has funded about a dozen Spot.us stories so far -- pitched by both journalists and ordinary citizens -- including investigations of the Oakland police and the problems of homeless people.

Would it work in Ogden or the top of Utah in general? Beats me, and the guy who set it up in California did get a fat grant from a foundation supporting local journalism to launch. But it still struck me as an intriguing idea. Especially for people who find themselves, as the article put it, living in a place where "you see unfairness or corruption and think that a hard-hitting investigation might lead to improvements" but where "the local news operations tend to favor the status quo... aren't equipped to investigate."

I don't think Ogdenites would have to strain too hard to imagine themselves living in a place like that....

Skeets said...

None of this nonsense in the Legislature and County Government is going to change unless we elect a political mix instead of these Republican robots. I feel Froerer acquitted himself well on most of these issues, but he is the only one.

Scott said...

Jenkins is Godfrey's cousin, no?


Nobody in the Godfrey family line seems to have any regard for the rights of the people.

And yet we keep re-electing these undemocratic corporo-fascist a-holes.

Go figure.

Get to work Democrats and honest Republicans alike.

The condition in our legislature, where a handfull of wingnuts kill obviosusly good legislation, needs to be changed.

It's Obvious said...

mayor godrey is a cult member

Ruthie said...

Cult of self adoration.

democrat said...

The people of Utah voted for these dumbasses. They got what they deserve.

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