Monday, September 14, 2009

Standard-Examiner: Panic Over Ethics Reform - UPDATED

Our home town newspaper issues a strong citizen call to action

By Curmudgeon

In all the discussion over the Standard-Examiner's less than stellar reporting on the campaign, don't want to lose sight of the fact that the paper ran another good strong editorial yesterday morning on the drive for a citizens' ethics reform initiative:
OUR VIEW: Panic over ethics reform
From the editorial:
Some Utah legislators are already screaming that the sky will fall if voters decide next year to take matters into their own hands and implement tough legislative ethics reform.
House Majority Leader Kevin Garn, R-Layton, claims that lives and reputations can be ruined if the initiative is passed. He adds that if the initiative is passed, it will be tied up in the courts for years.
That sounds to us more like a threat. Witness the hysteria from state Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, who calls the initiative an attempt to suspend free speech and basic rights.
The editorial provides a link to the referendum proposal by Utahns For Ethical Government and summarizes the proposed ethics reforms. And the SE concludes:
We support these measures.... To sum up the initiative's goals, it only requires that legislators not use their political clout to receive gifts or personal, political and business advantages. In other words, it requires our elected officials to conduct themselves with high ethical standards.... Unfortunately, in the Legislature, these standards have been replaced by a favortism and trading system where privilege trumps common sense.
It was... necessary for Utah citizens to do what the Legislature simply won't do: enact serious ethics reform.
We urge Utahns to sign the initiative petition when they have the opportunity to do so.
The whole editorial --- and the petition --- are worth a serious read.

Update 9/15/09 7:30 a.m.: In response to Curmudgeon's earlier query, the Std-Ex provides a Utahns For Ethical Government press release online this morning, informing its readers that the UFEG will be holding a number of public hearings within the next several weeks, including this one in Ogden:
Tuesday, September 29, 2009--7-9 p.m. (An optional 8th hearing)
Weber County
Mound Fort Middle School, Media Center
1400 Mound Fort Drive
Ogden, UT 84404
We urge all WCF readers to mark their calenders and plan to be in attendance.

7 comments:

history tells all said...

curm,
The whole ethics resolution is full of loop hole and bad language. I spoke to several former legislators and they told me of just a few loop holes, that if the measure goes though it will make for even bigger corruption than it will for better government. Who knows for sure who is behind the measure.

to every one else. do you remember when 6 years ago there was another godfreeite that blew 4 grand on his race and had signs every where. and he lost to a person that didn't even spend a dime. yep that was Amy wicks race. so don't get so hot over this race, lets wait till the vote on Tuesday and then start to cry foul. but i believe that when Mr Phipps says that he wants more transparency in government he should start with himself in is own report. so some call the press and put them on to this real issue.

Curmudgeon said...

History:

Sounds like you've got the makin's of an op ed in reply to the editorial....

I'd just point out that one of the editorial's points was that if the legislature had done just a reasonably decent job of enacting the ethical reform the public was demanding last session, no referendum [flawed or otherwise] would have made it to the starting line.

And one clarification: in noting the well-documented impact money can [not must, but often does] have on local races, I was not "crying foul." It's part of the way election campaigns are run in the US. I'd prefer tax supported campaigns [with every candidate receiving, and limited to spending, a fixed amount] to eliminate the impact of Big Money on elections, but there are other issues involved in that, and not trivial ones --- constitutional issues. I'm not certain they can be resolved. [I'm not certain they can't be, either.] There's no chance of it coming about in any case. The point I want to make here is that donating big bucks to candidates trade association lobby groups think will serve their interests is not [under our system] dirty pool. If I were as awash in campaign money as the realtors, I'd be donating big bucks too.

Donating anonymously under the guise of some opaque acronym like BOBCO or WAPWOM or LS/MFT or whathaveyou --- well, that's another matter entirely.

Ray Vaughn said...

History, if the proposed reform is so bad and full of loopholes why does the legislative leadership oppose it? They can prefile their own bill to reform ethics before the session starts. This is just another example of legislators saying anything to oppose any serious reform. The former legislators should point out the flaws in the proposed iniative at the public hearings and rework the proposal to correct alleged problems. They do not want any tough reform of any kind.

Ray said...

Having seen the results of the "free lunch" in Utah, the inordinate power of a few well funded cartels (PACS) on the legislature (realtors, developers, Eagle Forum to name a few)I say this citizen ethics reform is way overdue! This is the Tea Party I support! Sign me up-in fact if anyone knows where I can get a copy of the petition to circulate myself please post here.

Curmudgeon said...

Ray:

That's a good question. Where in Ogden can people find the petition? Or more broadly, in Weber County? Anyone know?

George K said...

Please bear with me, as I am posting again what I posted on the previous thread. But it is an important issue and we don't need to just sit idlely by -- WE NEED TO TAKE ACTION IN ORDER TO AFFECT THE ELECTION TOMORROW!

As Rocksford J points out: "As name recognition trumps almost every other factor in city elections, it already looks like Phipps for the win." I've had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I've watched campaign efforts roll out this last weekend. My thoughts were that the SE article about campaign donations sounded more like a candidate's news release announcing his candidacy than a news article. In an effort to keep it a news article, the reporter reported what Dan Schroeder donated to other candidates. Phipps has the money and is running the primary election as it were a general race – phone calls telling people to vote for him, mailings etc.,

We, on WCF, can have an impact on this primary election, if we really care and get off our duffs. We have not lost until all the votes have been counted and David Phipps has been declared a candidate for the general election in November. So, GET ON THE PHONE AND CALL ALL YOUR FRIENDS! Tell them to be sure to vote
Tuesday and to vote for either Morris, Blair or Neil. I have seen the effect that endorsing phone calls can have on a campaign. They are very influential, so please don't let this opportunity pass you by without giving an honest effort to do your part to save Ogden. All three of these candidates are independent thinkers and will vote for what is best for Ogden. Blair, being a partner in a business, has had experience dealing with the Godfrey administration. He believes that economic development should be downtown, not in our beautiful foothills and he’s young and energetic, dedicated to Ogden and committed to doing what is best for Ogden. Morris works for Weber County and has knowledge and experience in land use and politics. He, also, believes that economic development should be downtown, not in our beautiful foothills. Like Blair, he is young and energetic, dedicated to Ogden and committed to doing what is best for Ogden. Neil has a few years of experience on all of the young men. She has a great sense of ethics and has a degree in economics. She is a strong person and will be able to handle whatever Godfrey dishes out. She is committed to doing what is best for Ogden, and in time, will realize that you cannot work with an ethic deprived individual.
You now have some talking points for three good candidates for at-large seat B. If anyone asks you about Phipps, tell them that is a Godfrey supporter and will be another Brandon Stephenson on the Council. Let’s make those telephone calls and show the money people that grass root efforts works better than their money.

Curmudgeon said...

The nice thing about history is that so much has happened, you can almost always find an inspiring example in it for practically any occasion. Like, for example, tomorrow's election.

In the election of 1800 [T. Jefferson vs. J. Adams], Adams the Federalist incumbent, was in trouble. In New Jersey, his party's attorneys noticed that the New Jersey constitution did not specifically ban women from voting. So on election day, the Federalists [party, supposedly, of Tradition and Conservatism] turned up at the polls with their grandmothers, mothers, daughters, aunts and nieces in tow, and voted them all for Adams, over the outraged objections of the Jeffersonian National Republicans [allegedly the party of Progress and Democracy]. Adams carried the state.

Tomorrow, time to make sure all available right-thinking relatives --- grandmas, grandpas, children, grandchildren, spouses, nieces and nephews --- get to the polls. Offer rides if need be. An hour's baby sitting to free folks to vote. Whatever it takes.

PS: in case you were wondering, New Jersey soon altered its constitution to make sure nothing so un-American as permitting women to vote would happen in that state again.

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