Friday, March 13, 2009

SL Trib: HB 122 Falters for Lack of Consensus

Chalk it up as a hard-fought citizen victory for open and transparent government in Utah

Good news for advocates of open and transparent government in Utah. The Salt Lake Tribune reports this morning that Rep. Aagard's HB 122, which had been the subject of severe criticism here at Weber County Forum, died in the House last night, upon expiration of the 2009 legislative session:
Government records bill falters for lack of consensus
We'd like to believe that our own gentle readers had a hand in this. We've spoken recently with several members of the State House of Representatives, who've reported that citizen opposition emails have been substantial.

A Weber County Forum Tip O' The Hat to all readers who responded to our repeated calls to action and contacted their legislators to express their opposition to this potentially GRAMA gutting Bill.

We'll chalk it up as a hard-fought citizen victory for open and transparent government in Utah.

24 comments:

dan s. said...

Looks like HB 362 also died. That's the bill that would have imposed extra fees on someone who submits more than 12 GRAMA requests per year.

fra hoffelmeyer said...

chalk one up for us peons.

Wm M said...

Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on

-The late,great John Lennon

Curmudgeon said...

Very good news, particularly for Ogden, though I suspect Hizzonah is not pleased.

Did the bill that would have required environmental groups to post bonds for all potential costs before bring suits against the state or companies fail too? Couldn't find anything this morning about that in the papers. A similar "get even for Legacy Highway" bill passed a couple of sessions ago, was signed by the governor and was declared unconstitutional by the courts. There were similar concerns that this one too was unconstitutional, not that that slowed down in the least its sponsors in their campaign against allegedly "frivolous" environmental lawsuits... meaning of course, ones likely to be successful.

Anyone know what happened to the bill in the end?

dan s. said...

Curm: I'll check. But meanwhile, here's a link you might appreciate:

Utah Sierra Club bill tracker

dan s. said...

Nope, HB 379 (environmental litigation bond) never came up for a vote in the Senate.

RudiZink said...

Thanks for the updates, Dan. Indeed, the fact that many of these bad bills failed due to the "running of the clock" provides further support for the argument that the Utah legislature's opportunity for mischief should be confined to a very short 45 day session.

dan s. said...

Rudi,

Unfortunately, HB 201 (to fix the Powder Mountain problem) also died before coming up for a vote in the Senate.

Ya win a few, ya lose a few.

RudiZink said...

Yeah, Dan. That was the first bill I checked out early this morning. Time permitting, this will be the subject of an upcoming weekend rant.

danny said...

Very good news.

danny said...

I fear I must translate this quote from the corrupt and incompetent Attorney General Mark Surtluff.

"This bill was supposed to protect investigations and preserve attorney-client relationships when tax dollars were at stake," Shurtleff said in a statement. " We also hammered out a way to address the concerns of the media and keep open access to the government. I walked away when some legislators weakened the bill to the point it was meaningless."

Translation:
"This bill was supposed to use attorney client privilege as a front for a bill to gut GRAMA. When our captive, suck up cronies in the media complained, we offered them an exemption. That way it would still look like we have open government so it was a win-win. But once the stupid public caught wind and started complaining the whole thing came off the rails so we had to dump it."

RudiZink said...

Brilliant translation, Danny.

You've nailed it.

Thanks.

RJ Svengali said...

We note: "HB 201...died before coming up for a vote in the Senate", and: "Time permitting, this will be the subject of an upcoming weekend rant".

This, fellow awake citizens, is why we read this blog daily.

Where else could we aquire this information with so little effort. Click. Thank you, all.

We love this town.

Curmudgeon said...

So, on the Powder Mt. Bill, Rep. Gage "Asleep At The Wheel" Froer got to make a grand public show of opposing the developers and standing up for democracy, and his Republican cronies made sure in the end that his fence-mending histrionics wouldn't actually impact the developers at all.

Gotta take my hat off to the legislative Republicans. Politically speaking, this was very nicely played. In the end, Froer's bill was merely another of the political "message bills," introduced solely to massage public opinion on behalf of a particular legislator without actually doing anything. It achieved both its purposes.

As I said, very nicely played.

dan s. said...

Curm, do you have any evidence whatsoever to back up your insinuation that Froerer knew his bill would fail in the senate--or perhaps even wanted it to fail? Why don't you say the same thing about Rep. Aagard and HB 122? Have you ever even talked to Froerer or Aagard or Wallis or any other Republican legislator? Did you even contact your own senator and ask him to support HB 201?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:

Well, let's see. There's what several here have pointed out is Froer's fairly extensive history of backing pro-realtor, pro-development legislation, to which his loud trumpeting of this latest Powder Mt. bill is somewhat of an exception.

There's the fact that he... along with very nearly every other legislator... was asleep at the switch on the original Developer's Dream Bill, and the fact that his constituents stood to lose more by it, and were angrier about it [so far as we can tell] than any others.

Then there is the long history, in Utah and in Congress [involving both parties] of permitting members in trouble with their constituents on an issue to be sponsors or co-sponsors of bills aimed at repairing their constituent problems.

There's the fact that the Senate, according to news reports [I was not there personally of course] shut down early last night, not making use of all the time it had to consider still pending bills, like Froer's.

And so I congratulated him and his colleagues on a neatly crafted gambit nicely played.

As for interviewing the rep: I'm curious what you think I might expect to hear him say? "Yes, you got me. It was all PR. Mea culpa mea culpa!" Not bloody likely, is it.

And no, Dan, I haven't talked to any of the gentlemen you mention directly in regard to these bills. I am not, as you are, an experienced, accomplished and highly effective lobbyist. One of the best I've ever seen. I am not very effective face to face or on the phone. Never have been. I freeze up or get mad. And so I let legislators [in Congress, in the Utah legislature, on the Council] know where I stand on issues I care about in writing. We, all of us, Dan, go with what we think, rightly or wrongly, are our strengths in such matters.

danny said...

Curm.

Perfect.

I believe many of us predicted Froerer's "fixit" bills were staged for the sole benefit of appearances to his constituents.

I said, that if he actually got his bills passed I would gladly eat crow and praise him, but if he didn't I would reiterate my concerns regarding him, which I now do.

Froerer's fixit bills were a sham. Like I said, watch what Froerer DOES and pay no attention to what he SAYS.

His realty cronies get passed laws that put money in their pockets. In contrast, you Froerer voters get "hard work" and "sensitivity".

Find a bank that takes deposits of hot air and you will finally be able to cash all the good Froerer has ever done you.

(Of course, sometimes Neil Hansen fails to get his bills passed also. But you can tell the difference. Behind the scenes Neil tries, while Froerer scuttles.)

Wm M said...

3 years ago, I watched in 2nd District Court, Froerer perjure himself on behalf of his good buddy, Lynn Wardley ...

He knew he was lying, he knew I knew he was lying, and I even wondered if he thought I might surface during his election campaign ...

I thought the voters would see him as he is - another flippin' real estater with only greed as an incentive ...

Man, I'm a dumb ass ...

what will it cost us said...

Can we lump citizens see what bills the cities lobbyist worked on. Might be interesting what we pay a lobbyist to do for us.

dan s. said...

Curm:

So your evidence against Froerer, in this specific matter, is based entirely on his background and on your understanding of how these things generally work.

And your excuse for not calling legislators yourself is that you don't think you're very good at it.

Here's some free advice on how you can be better at lobbying: Criticize legislators for what they do wrong, and praise them for what they do right. Do not attack them even when they do something right! When you do that, they'll conclude that they can't make you happy no matter what they do, and ignore you henceforth.

You want to attack Froerer for all the bad things he's done? Be my guest--but be fair. When you attack him for being one of a hundred legislators who voted for HB466 two years ago, also praise him for being the driving force behind getting HB466 repealed a year later (so at least the Powder Mountain fiasco won't be repeated elsewhere). Or attack him for something else--there are plenty of examples to be found. For instance, the Trib had a story on his conflict of interest with respect to the stream access restriction bill. Froerer voted for the bill anyway, but fortunately it was defeated.

The fault for the failure of HB201, however, lies not with Froerer but with the Senate leadership. Froerer got it through the house and put a lot of energy into lobbying for it in the Senate, but without success.

danny said...

Dan,

You criticize Curm, yet your primary example (stream bill) shows Froerer is a self-serving scumbag. You gratuitously say he was the "driving force" behind the repeal of HB466 - something that was approved overwhelmingly and sponsored by almost everyone in the Utah State Legislative Whore House. Yet, somehow, the bill left Powder Mountain off, so his local realty cronies can still lick their lips while the common folk (his voters) keep getting screwed. So this time around, he introduced a "fix" to undo the last "fix", but it DIDN'T pass. Surprise! (Insert Froerer crocodile tears here.)

Assuming you could show that there was an instance where he showed integrity, would that offset that he has demonstrated his venality?

As far as the Senate leadership pimps, given that Froerer is a member of their party, why do you think they ignored him, rather than thinking they did exactly what he wanted?

Are the wheels on his pimpmobile really that shiny? Is this guy Froerer a smooth talker, or what?

dan s. said...

danny,

For the moment I'm not interested in judging Froerer's overall merits or lack thereof. Plenty of time for that before the next election. Meanwhile what's more important is that Froerer and I agree on some things but disagree on others--and that he has consistently returned my phone calls and answered my emails.

The senate leadership is another matter, but I very much doubt that they take their orders from Froerer.

For Decent Representation for a change said...

If you bother to attend committee meetings where Froerer sits along with 20 to 25 others, you will note that what he says, the way he says it, and how he says what he says are pure incompetence.

And if you can judge anything or anyone by watching and listening to what the others say and how they react to Froerer, you must come away thinking to yourself...this guy is not all there, he has had a stroke or something...but this guy does not in any way command any respect from his colleagues.

He is ill informed, sadly prepared - if at all and inarticulate...a bumbling baffoon.

Yet District 8, Ogden and Ogden Valley barely elected him twice. His opponents without virtually ANY name recognition nor advertising strengths, damn near beat him both elections. Which speaks well for this blog and people with a brain capable of seeing through his shameless grand standing and pandering.

Froerer's bills, unless written by the Realty Association lawyers and lobbyists (the same people), are all defeated. Check the record.

And that says it all.

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:

We're probably not going to agree on this. From lmy experience with legislative politics, I think it naive to ignore what is, in certain circumstances, common practice by political parties in legislatures. This seems to me very likely to be one of those instances where one of their number is permitted to bring forth a bill to mend fences with his constituents that the party caucus does not intend to see to completion.

As for the general policy of praising officeholders when they do good things, and criticizing them when they do the opposite: I've been advocating that, here, for a long time, and often taking some heat for it. I think it applies to the Mayor, and his usual allies on the Council as well. I haven't changed my views on that. It's just that in the Froerer instance, this time, his stand on this bill seemed to me, still does, out of line with his past performance on development bills, and designed largely to take the heat off him with his electorate. And it was done at no cost to the developers thanks to his own caucus burying the bill without a floor debate, even though time remained to bring it to the floor before the senate shut down. So I congratulated him and his party for a nice gambit skillfully played. Even home team fans can, and in baseball often do, applaud a nice play skillfully executed by the visiting team.

You've interpreted the same series of events differently than I have. Fair enough. And I'm glad Froerer returns your calls, but that seems to me largely irrelevant to the matter we're disagreeing about.

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