Saturday, April 04, 2009

2009 Legislative Ethics Reform: A Good Start?

Something akin to saying that hitting the snooze button is a good start on a Monday morning

Several interesting morning articles in the northern Utah news print media, on one of our favorite and constant topics, legislative ethics reform. The Standard-Examiner comes out with yet another strong editorial this morning, bemoaning the meager and weak ethics legislation which trickled out of the 2009 legislative session, and posing the simple query: "... we shake our heads and wonder, why can't you legislators keep ethics reform simple and to the point?"

The Salt Lake Tribune also gets into the act with this story, incorporating the recent remarks of Governor Huntsman, about the Utah legislature's lightweight 2009 ethics reform work product:
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said Friday that the ethics measures passed by the Legislature are a good first step, but he hopes the process leads to campaign finance reform and a "serious cooling-off period" before lawmakers can become lobbyists.
"The good thing is the dialogue has started," Huntsman said. "Now we build upon the foundation of this Legislature's success, and I hope it goes to things like a serious cooling-off period. I hope it goes to serious campaign finance reform."
In classic journalistic he said/she said style, Tribune reporter Gehrke provides one House Republican's mealy-mouthed retort:
Rep. John Dougall, R-Highland, took issue with Huntsman characterizing the Legislature's actions as a beginning of ethics reform.
"I contend it's not a start, it's just a continuation of the ongoing process," said Dougall, who is chairman of the House Ethics Committee. "Do I think that process needs to continue? Absolutely."
A distinction without a difference? You bet. Talk about putting lipstick on a pig. We think one lumpencitizen commentator under the Trib article sums it up quite elegantly however:
Huntsman's own Lt. Governor declares the law toothless and filled with loopholes, so Huntsman declares it a good start? That's like saying that hitting the snooze button is a good start on a Monday morning!
As an added bonus, we'll link to another ethics-topical story which popped up on the Std-Ex website this morning, reporting on Friday's kickoff ceremony for WSU's brand spankin' new Richard Richards Institute for Politics, Decency and Ethical Conduct. This event was also briefly mentioned in the Trib story too. We'll comment at this juncture that we're delighted to observe Utah academics rolling up their sleeves and delving into the study of such topics; and at risk of jinxing The Institute at its inception, we'll nevertheless label it a good first step.

So what about it, gentle readers? Did the laughably toothless ethics reform legislation which emerged from the legislature this year constitute "a good start?" Is it a continuation of an "ongoing process," as Rep. Dougall suggests? Is it reasonable to assume that our GOP controlled legislature will act in "good faith" and ultimately deliver the robust brand of legislative ethics reform that high double-digit percentages of the Utah lumpencitizens demand? If so, will this happen within our lifetimes? Would it make better sense for Utah voters to simply throw out the bums who merely threw us a few hollow ethics reform bones (chicken bones to be exact,) and select a more citizen-friendly batch of new legislators in 2010? Or will we just keep mindlessly re-electing the same bums again?

In closing, we'll snarkily invoke that well-worn Albert Einstein ax: "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Don't let the cat get your tongues, O Gentle Ones.


History is truth! said...

Richard Richards new school of ethics, Wow, Who would of thought that a Guy that was going to have all the old ladies that were election judges back in 1974, Have them commit perjury on the stand to make sure that his candidate would win the Election of a state Senator.
This is a guy that used Money from a robbery to pay the court fees, of another case.

Boy if this is the best the republicans can come up with as a person of ethics, I would not want to be part of there party.

Would it be interesting to ask him about all the scandals that he has been associated with.

Would it be nice if the Standard examiner would do a search of the history of the person that they think so highly of.

Remember History is truth and you can't run from it.

So lets tell the truth of the history of this guy.

History is truth! said...

If I remember Boss Godfrey had the advice and help of Dick Richards for his transition team, no wonder this city is so messed up.

tom said...

Interesting choice to name an ethics institute after.

When I was a student at Weber College in the early 60's Richards was a young, eager and on the move political operator who made a living teaching car salesmen how to be enthusiastic and aggressive.

I was active with the Young Republicans at Weber and Richards was a frequent presence at their activities, always promoting the whole hustle aspect of politics.

I also worked part time at Peterson Motors on Washington selling new ramblers and assorted used cars. Peterson hired Richards to come in and pump us budding car salesmen up with enthusiasm and hot air.

I do not recall anything about him that would be at odds with good ethics, however I do wonder how a guy that taught car salesman how to hustle, and then went on to a very successful career teaching Republicans (Erlichman, Halderman, Atwater etc) how to hustle, could be the gold standard for ethics.

Just wondering, not accusin.

Anonymous said...

You would like to elect a citizen who could win a state legislative seat, and not become corrupted thereby; we tell you that person would be soon branded by the power elite as an ineffective legislator, and would come down with either a fatal and rare illness, die in an accident (usually small plane), or be "framed" of the same corruption they were elected to address.

It is not in ones rational self interest to go to any state capitol, and attempt to right long standing wrongs.
People who do it, nationwide, become toast.

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