Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Election Day: The Polls Are Open

A rare opportunity to elect a veto-proof majority of fiscally conservative council grownups

Here we go folks. Our sidebar countdown clock has clicked down to zero. The glorious day we've all been anxiously awaiting has now arrived. Your neighborhood polling places will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; and with a little diligence on our part... and if all goes well, we Emerald City lumpencitizens will show up en masse, repeat the same type of grass roots sweep we accomplished in the last non-mayoral municipal election in 2005, and elect a new slate of fiscally conservative grownups to reinforce the sensible council majority we already have.

With strong independent candidates like Bart Blair, Jesse Garcia, Doug Stephens and Susan Van Hooser on the ballot, we have an opportunity for the first time ever to elect a veto-proof majority to our already strong council. This is something we'll definitely need during the next two years, as our Big Spending Mayoral Administration cranks up its anticipated full court press to implement the long list of yet-undelivered projects Boss Godfrey promised his cash contributor cronies since at least as far back as 2007.

Once again, we strongly endorse Blair, Garcia, Stephens and Van Hooser. With community-minded citizens like these on the council, there's little danger that our wonderful town will be sold down the river to the greed-minded, fly-by-night real estate development hustlers, who've once again invested so many thousands of dollars in Boss Godfrey's "Bulldoze the Golf Course and Turn Ogden into a Giant Kiddie Amusement Park Ticket."

In closing, we'll highlight a fantastic photo sent to us yesterday by one our gentle readers. It shows an Ogden City-situated campaign lawnsign planted in the yard of one of our more creative Ogden neighbors. As you head off to the polls this morning (torches and pitchforks in hand,) we hope you'll all etch this image indelibly into your minds:


We'll keep this thread open through the day folks, for election day news and other election-topical updates. If problems arise during today's balloting, we hope our readers will check in with their real-time comments and reports. During the last election, Weber County Forum served as an online clearing-house for information relating to the dirty tricks which were being perpetrated by Godfrey campaign operatives; and we'll be happy to serve the same function again, if necessary, during today's election.

The polls are now open, people!

VOTE!

We'll also set up a separate thread later this evening, by the way (we've preset it to automatically post @ 7:30 p.m.) , with a link to Ogden City Recorder's Office live online vote tallies. In the meantime... the floor is open for your intra-day election comments.

67 comments:

Dan S. said...

It's not the dirtiest of tricks, but I've just been informed of a letter from Jeanette Ballantyne that was sent by U.S. Mail to an unknown number of addresses. The letter is an all-out attack on Susan Van Hooser, with a list of distorted allegations followed by "Please vote for any candidate but Suzie." The letter also says "I am not part of any campaign", so this was an independent expenditure on Ms. Ballantyne's part.

Ogden's campaign finance ordinance attempts to prohibit independent expenditures on behalf of any candidate, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that such prohibitions violate the First Amendment. Independent expenditures can be regulated, however. I wish the city council would require public disclosure of independent expenditures above a certain threshold, say $500.

Concerned Voter said...

Thanks, Rudi and Dan S.!

Thanks for the service you render to the community, Rudi.

Thanks for bringing to light the dirty politics going on in the Ogden City Council election, Dan. I sure hope this backfires on Ms. Ballantyne. I hope people consider the source. I've met her and her husband, and I don't believe I've ever met such close-minded people. Even when presented with the facts, their comment is, "Well, it sure doesn't seem that way to me."

Libby N. said...

Just got back from voting...no line, but a steady stream of voters at Polk School.

OgdenLover said...

Jeanette still thinks Mt Ogden Park is only the golf course.

I don't know if anyone has noticed, but in spite of some very nasty attacks, Susie has run a totally positive campaign. Don't take that to mean she's a wimp - she's eager to win so she can fight for the people. She just has scruples and ethics, qualities badly needed in our local government.

I think the Godfrey camp is running scared. What point is there to having Shurtliff and Bell endorse Hains? They don't live here - why not get Dick Cheney or Slobodan Milosevic? (Oh, he's dead, never mind.)

The people being targeted to vote for Hains would have voted that way anyway. As Dan wrote to the SE, just look at the videos on their website and decide who is the better candidate. There is a lot of anger out there at the way Godfrey is running things, at the way he has ignored campaign promises, and at the way necessary city services are being drastically cut. Anger votes.

Voter ID Clarification said...

Two years ago I was a challenged voter in Ogden so I am very sensitive regarding attempts to block my vote. Now I live outside of the city in Weber County. I've been registered at my new address since before last years election. When presenting my ID to vote today I was told since my drivers license address didn't match the voter roles I would need to produce additional forms of identification. (I had handwritten my new address on the back per instructions from the DMV when I submitted a change of address.)

Utah law reads that a valid form of ID such as a drivers license, passport, concealed weapons permit, etc. must have a name and a photo for voting purposes. Nothing about address. The poll worker told me that the county election training instructed that additional proof of address must be obtained. This is interesting since a passport never has an address. For clarification I called the Lt. Govs. office. I was told that I was correct in that I need only a valid ID with photo and name. However anyone could challenge my vote for any reason (as we found out two years ago) including the poll worker and by extension the Weber County clerk through the training program.

The reason for my ramble is that I am concerned voters may take photo ID, that while accepted per state law, is not sufficient according to Weber County poll worker training necessitating the voter return home and bring back water bills or some other proof of address.

As I said if a poll worker or any other person requires additional proof of residence it seems to be entirely within the law. I would very much hope that future state legislation would address the current situation of being able to challenge voters with impunity on either a personal level or institutionally from the county clerk's office. Introducing any level of suspicion into the voting process, I believe leads to increased instance of fraud and manipulation. It is unfortunate that an increasingly complicate system is being constructed to insure voter honesty. Double check your ID before voting.

Curmudgeon said...

Voted at Polk, 8:10 this morning. The steel ballot box for the precincts at my table was already nearly full. Had to jam the ballot in to get it all the way in. Wondered if this suggested heavier voting than normal.

BAT_girl said...

Has anyone noticed that the SEonline has lead in its ASS today?

Curmudgeon said...

And elsewhere in the news, an outlet store has come to Ogden... but not to Washington Blvd.:

Amer Sports Winter and Outdoor Americas has opened a factory outlet store in the AmeriCan building at 2030 Lincoln Ave. in Ogden....

The company will use the store to sell products bearing its many outdoor brands -- Salomon and Atomic skiing goods, Suunto technology such as wrist-top computers, Arc'teryx outerwear, Bonfire winter apparel and Mavic cycling shoes and apparel.


The SL Trib has the story here.

RudiZink said...

Just got back from voting, also at the Polk School. Vote count from the judges' voter register just shortly prior to 10:00... a hair under 200!

I worked as a poll judge myself @ the Polk School for many years. Take it from me, 200 voters at ten a.m. for an off-year election signals a quite robust turnout!

Curmudgeon said...

BG:

Yes, it's slow today. But at least it's up. Could be high demand today is slowing it down, or it could be just the continuation of its recent troubles since bringing the new software on line.

I think the SE might consider a site that is less graphically rich but faster. Might generate more visits, since it's often now slow to the point of lumbering before the full page comes up.

Stephen M. Cook said...

Interesting:
I also was targeted with this junk mail. And, not coincidentally, I know of the sender, her being a back-fence neighbor of an old Weber County family of my acquaintance.

Mrs. Ballantyne is a kindly old shrew of a woman, in her late to mid 70s, who really believes in the Godfrey machine and all of the distortions and lies it generates.
And of course, she is entitled to her opinion on matters civic.

But as for her personal judgment, or from where her opinions spring...
She would not be surprised to hear that very modern persons agree with her Jim Crow, John Birch, Gail Rudzika, and Ozzie and Harriet stance on any issue you can name.

You can alway count on her telling you exactly why those "darkies don't know how to act civilized", or, "Bill Clinton is in bed with the N***ers of the south", or that "Jew Liberal Homos are taking over the world"

As I have not heard her diatribes in a few years, Im can only guess at her back-yard rant about Mr. Barak Obama, but I am guessing it uses similar rhetoric.
As for the mailer, I called her and asked to be removed from her junk mail list.

Really, Utah is a strange place.

Curmudgeon said...

On the Ballantyne hit mail:

Such last minute hit mail pieces can be a scurvy business if they're filled with distortion, dishonesty and dissembling, and the ethical do not stoop to sending them, I agree. But the Court was right in declaring such to be First Amendment protected speech.

And Ms. Ballantyne signed her letter, making plain its origins. I'm not sure she should be required to do more than that.

As for this --- "I wish the city council would require public disclosure of independent expenditures above a certain threshold, say $500." Who would have to disclose it? And how?

Say I was an Ogden citizen, uninvolved with any campaign for the Council, and in sudden a fit of public spirit, I decided to write a letter either supporting a candidate, or opposing one, and I did it unknown to any candidate, and mailed copies out on my own nickel to voters during the last week of the campaign, and it cost me $501.

Who should have to disclose what? If no candidate was involved, no candidate would be able to disclose it on their campaign expenditure form. They wouldn't know about it and would have no information about costs.

Should I have to disclose it, beyond having signed the letter? How? And to who? I'm not sure the disclosure rules reasonably could be applied to an individual acting on his or her own to have letters mailed on their own dime to voters during the last week of an election.

Federal Bureaucrat said...

Just to reiterate what was written above. I did hear poll workers at Polk Elementary telling people if the address on their ID didn't match their address on file they would be required to fill out a provisional ballot. Good luck at the polls.

Jennifer Neil said...

Appropriate for voting day:

A friend just called and said he put my name in for the Write In for Seat B!

TLJ

sign counter said...

On the way to vote today I saw one yard with 4, count 'em FOUR, signs for Mr. Hains. It was a large corner lot, but still. The guy must be desperate, or have money to burn.

Mr. Bigglesworth said...

Call your friends and neighbors. Get them to vote! Bring an id with you the correct address! Or, a picture id with one of the listed alternate proofs of address! Vote Vote Vote!

Nothing New Here said...

Speaking of signs and voting at Polk School, did anyone notice the Van Hooser violations? "Susie" dear has several signs along the East side of Polk Avenue, just steps away from the polling place, which are not outside of the limit a campaign sign has to be from a polling place. Her name, on her signs, are about the last thing a voter sees before entering the building to cast a vote.

Interesting that there so much to say about Haines signs and other candidates that are not anti-mayorial, but not a word about the Van Hooser violations.

And to call the likes of Garcia and Van Hooser "independents," with a comparrison to Doug Stephens and hopefully Blair, is just downright laughable and disingenuous. You people are being no different than your opposition....you're trying to stack the Council just like they are and just like damn near any other block in any other town does, only you don't have the cajones to stand up and say so.

Curmudgeon said...

SMC:

Thanks for putting the Ballantyne missive in some much needed context.

Curmudgeon said...

Nothing New:

Saw the signs in private homes yards across the street and wondered. Still am wondering if the prohibition about campaign signs, etc. [none within so many feet from polling places] applies to the yards of private homes, or only to the public property on which the polling station is located. [I don't know. I'm asking.]

Seems to me there would a potential and serious first amendment problem in telling a homeowner who happened to have a polling station located in a school on his block that he could not place a candidate's sign on his own property.

So, anyone know? Is the limit on signs applicable to private homes as well, or just the property and public streets/sidewalks at the polling place?

As for the rest of your post.... if you mean by "stack the council" electing Council members who will question all proposals placed before them, and examine them against the evidence, and then reach a conclusion about how to vote, I plead guilty. Yes, I am definitely trying to stack the Council with Council members who will actually do the jobs they're elected to do. Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!

Van Hooser and Garcia are independents in this context. I suspect their independence is precisely what you don't like about them. Mr. Stephens has proven his independence over time, and I think Mr. Blair will as well.

We shall see. I hope.

bullet sponge said...

I've wondered myself about "independent" expenditures on behalf of a candidate. Seems like a loop-hole the size of the grand canyon. If I were a millionaire, what would be to stop me from running independent TV spots, billboards, etc on behalf of a candidate? And why don't we see it more often? This one seems like a no-brainer.

Googleguy said...

NNH: That's not a violation, as long as the signs are on private property.

Here's the applicable statute, which you'll note applies only to public areas:

20A-3-501. Polling place -- Prohibited activities.
(2) (a) A person may not, within a polling place or in any public area within 150 feet of the building where a polling place is located:
(i) do any electioneering; ...

[Also, I very much doubt that the signs across the street were within 150 feet of the school building.]

Curm: You really need to learn how to look up statutes. It's easy--just google "utah code".

Curmudgeon said...

BS:

The problem is, there may be no way to plug the loophole without doing way to much damage to the First Amendment. And it's not an unmixed blessing for candidates. Sometimes enthusiastic wingnuts put out stuff on their own nickel that embarrasses and hurts the candidates they think they are helping.

The key is that the individual has to be acting purely as an individual [i.e. having no input of any kind coming from the candidate's campaign]. As a practical matter, unless those involved are utterly stupid [and that happens occasionally], this is nearly impossible to enforce. Just as the loopholes are in the national law [McCain/Feingold] that restricts donations to campaigns, but allows PACs to spend unlimited amounts on "issue ads" [as opposed to candidate campaign ads], or parties to spend unlimited amounts on "party building" as opposed to campaigning.

I don't think this kind of thing can be effectively regulated without throwing the baby out with the bathwater and seriously limiting the First Amendment.

In the end, the simple fact is, democracy is messy. Always has been. Always will be, probably. But in the end, I'll have to go with Winston Churchill on this: "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

beaver said...

Nothing new...

Not to put too fine a point on it, but BULLSHIT.

I voted at Polk at about 8:15 this morning, parked right on the corner of Binford and Polk. There was a VanHooser sign in a yard on that corner. Guess what was directly across the street on the same intersection? You guessed it–a large Haines sign.

Is it any wonder you Godfreyites get accused of myopia?

Of course if both of these instances represent some breach, they pale in comparison to 2007 when Matty had his brother actively campaigning outside the entrance of Taylor Elementary, and Jo Packam at WSU as an observer with Godfrey propaganda spread out on her lap in the middle of the polling location.

As an aside, I had somewhat of a celebrity sighting as I entered Polk–none other than the crusading Dan S. Sorry to say I must have missed Curm by a few minutes. Damn, I could have made him take me to breakfast and bloody marys.

Curmudgeon said...

Google Guy:

Thanks for the info on the polling place law.

"Utah Code." Will remember that.

Biker Babe said...

whats with the viagra ad on here?

js

BB

get real godfreyites said...

Hains is a rotten SOB, and I hope Ogden voters hand him his ass today.

He still hasn't condemned or repudiated the thoroughly rotten anti-Van Hooser attack video that's been circulating through emails around Ogden City for the last couple of weeks, which proves he has no proper ethics or moral values.

And he's now tiptoeing in the grey area with respect to the massive amounts of campaign cash he's received from the mindless real estate lobby.

If you want to see Mt. Ogden Park bulldozed, vote for Mark "Stinky" Hains.

It's really that simple.

ozboy said...

So what's to keep the Godfreyites from just stealing the election?

They are in charge of it, aren't they?

They do have a history of election day hi-jinks, don't they?

Just wondering.

Stephen M. Cook said...

Damn it, I love this country; even Texas and Utah, and maybe South Carolina.

I just got back from Voting, that's right: Voting, in the Ogden City Municipal Elections.
I must be a total dork, but this brings an actual mist in my eyes and a lump in my throat.

I took my 2 year old son with me to the Union Station, my polling place for the last couple of elections, and demonstrated to the lad the obligation of One Who Agitates to also participate in the legitimate process on the day so designated.

I am not ashamed of the fact of my casting ballots this year for Bart "carhead" Blair, Jesse "lowkey" Garcia, and Susan "exhippie" VanHooser.

I do love this town.

beaver said...

get real...

Hains would condemn the video, but he's busy taking a nap. Watch the SE video interview for proof.

Jennifer Neil said...

bullet sponge - in re "I've wondered myself about "independent" expenditures on behalf of a candidate." Wasn't the money spent on missives mailed out AGAINST VanHooser? Vote for anyone BUT VanHooser and all that? Which candidate would the little old lady from Pascagoula be endorsing -- explicitly, no one in particular; implicitly, VanHooser's opponent .... I didn't get a mailer, so I don't know the exact wording ...

TLJ

Curmudgeon said...

SMC:

Yeah, I get a little misty too, dropping a ballot in the box. This is the day we make 'em sweat: all the candidates, officeholders, consultants, gurus, pollsters and predictors. They can't know for sure, for certain, what all of us teachers and waitresses and truck drivers and business owners and carpenters and students and welders and.... keep on going... are going to do. They think they know, and they're often right... but not always. And so this is the day we make 'em sweat.

I love it. Wouldn't miss voting for anything. And we always brought out kids along when they were young.

I hate, by the way, the idea of on line or mail voting. To me, the ritual matters... the going to the polls, the pulling the curtain on the booth, the dropping of a ballot into a box. Or pulling a lever. It ought to be a civic occasion, and not something you can do while the commercial is on before Dr. Phil or Oprah comes back on.

Ray Vaughn said...

In regard to Identifaction for voting. I voted at Carl Taylor elementary this morning(precints 18,19&20). I used my passport for valid identifaction. As others have stated it contains no street address.I was asked to verbally state my home address. I asked the poll worker if a retired employee badge from Hill AFB was valid. He stated that the retired employee identification card was good. It also does not have a street address.The poll worked said that because it was issued by a agency of the federal government it was acceptable.

bullet sponge said...

Jennifer - I didn't get one either so I can't say. But I'd have to agree that (nearly) anything that stifles my first amendment right just isn't worth it. I can think of an awful lots of things that do besides this. Like the DMCA.

I notice people lumping in Dean with the other "Godfrey" candidates. My impression of him wasn't that he was Godfreyite. At least not from the "meet the candidates" night I saw where he came out strongly against the Gondola and development of Mount Ogden Park. I admit he could be a wolf in sheep's clothing but he seemed genuine.

Jennifer Neil said...

bs -- I also didn't get the impression he belonged to that group. He doesn't have the same contributors and is pretty open about his ideas (specificity is always good) and qualifications.

TLJ

Curmudgeon said...

JN:

No did I. I'm backing Stephens because he's shown his independence on several key votes, particularly ones involving the Mayor's lack of respect for the authority and function of the Ogden City Council. And Mr. Stephens tries to position himself to be a broker of compromise where it is possible, as someone looking for middle ground as a way to resolve differences between the Mayor's office and the Council. Sometimes I think he's willing to bend farther for the sake of avoiding confrontation than is prudent, but having someone with experience on the Council who sees himself as a broker of compromises when they are advisable and achievable [they aren't always] is I think a good thing.

So for me, giving up a known independent in Stephens for an unknown in Dean didn't seem wise. Had Dean been running against someone who was not an incumbent and for whom we did not have a record in office to draw conclusions from, I might well have been for him. I do think it wrong at this point to dismiss him as a merely a Godfrey sycophant. I've seen no evidence that he is.

Of course, G-Train putting out a yard sign for him does give one pause....

Dale C said...

here is a link to the Utah State where to go vote website, just in case anyone needs it. I couldn't download the PDF from Ogden City's election website. In my case, the place I usually vote changes for a municipal election, vs a state or county election.

And to those who take the civic responsibility of voting so seriously, my hat is off to you. I think it's the most overlooked responsibility and privilege we enjoy as Americans, one which so many have fought and died to preserve for us.

I heard an interesting comment in a movie, I forget which one, from a British politician. He was comparing the Government in America to the European Governments. He said something to the effect that in America people are afraid of the government, and in Europe the government is afraid of the people. So, I would agree with Mr. Curmudgeon that today is the day we have the chance to make the politicians scared.

As for voting in Utah, I'd like to pass along this little story: I used to live in Murray, and during the 1990 presidential election, I saw an election judge ask one of the voters if she "did the right thing". I thought I was doing the right thing by showing up and casting my ballot. I must have missed a meeting somewhere.

Dale C said...

oops, I meant the 2000 presidential election. My bad.

Angelo J. Roma said...

I've heard some rumors about a write-in campaign/effort for Phipps. When you go vote, don't forget to cast your vote for Blair even though Phipps has been disqualified!

COULD, COULD, COULD, said...

rudi.
can you get a copy of the ballentine letter and post it. I and others would really like to see it.
thanks

bullet sponge said...

Curm - I think Dean would probably be doing himself a favor asking any big time Godfrey supporters to remove their signs lol. He may be getting painted as something he is not. I don't get a vote between the two but I'd have to say if I DID I would take a chance on Dean. This might be a no-lose situation though which is nice. I hope Dean isn't the world's greatest actor. You could see right through Phipps. Not so with Dean if he is in fact a Godfreyite.

Jeff said...

Even though I left Ogden this Summer for greener pastures I still comment here and watch the locals. Good luck to Garcia, VanHooser and Blair. I also want to congradulate them for not sinking to sneaky tricks and will work for the best interests of all of Ogden.

I recieved a postcard to my out of state address to vote for Hains. I assume they are even trying to get votes even from those who left.

Dan S. said...

Curm:

Regarding the (proposed) regulation of independent expenditures...

My proposal would be that when any legal "person" (i.e., natural person or organization) makes election-related independent expenditures totaling over $500, that person would have to register with the city recorder (if it's a municipal election) and file disclosure statements similar to those filed by candidates.

Utah already regulates PACs, which are defined as any organization that has political activity as a "major purpose". (This language also comes from the U.S. Supreme Court.) However, there is currently no disclosure of political expenditures by individuals; nor would it be necessary for organizations or companies to register if they think they can demonstrate that political activity is not a "major purpose" of the entity. Also, as I've mentioned before, the state law on PACs doesn't require them to file any disclosure statements after August in odd-numbered years.

It's easy to imagine scenarios where you would definitely want someone to plug the existing loophole, at least in part. For example, a wealthy individual might want to contribute more than the $1500 maximum to a city council candidate's campaign. To avoid the limit, this individual simply borrows some material from the candidate's web site, puts together a mailed card or brochure, and spends $4000 having it printed and mailed to voters. Or perhaps this individual wishes to attack a candidate and spends a similar amount on a mailed piece that pretends to be from the candidate but contains offensive material that would alienate most voters. In an extreme case, a wealthy individual could hire a political consulting firm to handle essentially all of the candidate's campaign (yard signs, advertising, polling, canvassing). Under current law, there is no regulation of this activity and no way even to learn who is responsible. The activity is technically in violation of Ogden's ordinance, but that ordinance is unenforceable as written, thanks to the Supreme Court.

I agree, however, that there's no way to close the loophole entirely and it's important to keep the First Amendment in mind when attempting to regulate independent expenditures.

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:

You wrote: My proposal would be that when any legal "person" (i.e., natural person or organization) makes election-related independent expenditures totaling over $500, that person would have to register with the city recorder (if it's a municipal election) and file disclosure statements similar to those filed by candidates.

Ah, there's where we disagree. I think that would have far too much of a chilling effect on the free speech, to have to register with the city recorder and file disclosure statements similar to what a candidate has to file, merely to write a letter and have it sent to voters on someone's own dime.

As for you other examples, I don't think an individual could get away with, even under current rules, paying a consultant to handle all of a candidates' yard signs, publicity, etc. without the candidate having to include it as a donation in kind of some sort. Nor could an individual copy campaign lit, brochures, etc., circulate them on his own and claim not to be donating to the campaign.

But his own stuff, written by him, sent out on his own nickel? No. He should not have to file disclosures on that. Way too much of a chilling effect on free political speech.

And nearly impossible to monitor and enforce in any case.

Dan S. said...

Curm:

Before we can continue this discussion, I guess we need to sort out what the current law allows and doesn't allow. You seem to think that my hypothetical examples are already illegal. I claim that while they are technically in violation of the city's ordinance, that particular provision of the ordinance is unenforceable because it's far too broad--it attempts to completely prohibit independent expenditures.

So let's take my first hypothetical example: I obtain some publicly available text and images, plus perhaps a little of my own writing, to produce a professional looking piece of campaign mail urging voters to support my candidate of choice. I have it printed and mailed at my own expense (say $4000), without the candidate's knowledge. On exactly what basis do you claim that this is not permitted, or that the candidate would have to report it as an in-kind donation? Please cite chapter and verse. (The Ogden Municipal Code is here; campaign finance disclosure is Title 1, Chapter 8. The unenforceable provision is 1-8-2(A).)

Dan S. said...

Meanwhile, the city recorder has not responded to my follow-up email regarding the Hains contributions from the Utah Association of Realtors (UAR) and the Northern Wasatch Association of Realtors (NWAR). As explained on another thread, the recorder maintains that UAR and NWAR are separate legal "persons" and therefore each can separately contribute $1500 to Mr. Hains. However, the recorder has not acknowledged that 100% of NWAR's funds come from UAR. Nor has the recorder responded to my contention that if they are separate legal persons, then both are in violation of the provision that prohibits one person from contributing in the name of another, or with the funds of another.

Curmudgeon said...

On turnout:

At Wasatch Elementary site, turn out at 2 PM had already surpassed total turnout for the primary. So turnout seems to be up at at least some locations.

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:

My comments were based mostly on what I know of federal campaign rules regarding whether something is too closely involved with a candidate's campaign or not to count as part of his campaign spending limits. And inclusion of the candidate's literature in a supposedly "independent" piece would definitely create problems, as I understand it.

Whether the same definitions, fuzzy though they are, apply in Utah municipal elections, I can't say. I can say that damn near any attempt to closely define and differentiate "individual" vis-a-vis "campaign"spending will be as a practical matter hellishly difficult to monitor and enforce.

RudiZink said...

Exactly right, Dan/

Here's the applicable Ogden Ogden City Code Section:

Ogden City Code section 1-8-3: CONTRIBUTIONS TO CANDIDATES...

And here's the pertinent code prohibition:

E. In Name Of Another: No person shall make a contribution in the name of another person or make a contribution with another person's funds in his or her own name, and no candidate, member of a personal campaign committee, or political action committee shall knowingly accept a contribution made by one person in the name of another person or made by one person with the funds of another person.

By dodging the accusation that UAR and NWAR are the same legal entity, the dodgy Mr. Hains has painted himself and his real estate lobbyist donor(s) into a corner, whereby all of them appear to be in violation of pertinent prohibitions of the above municipal code section, inasmuch as all donated NWAR funds can be traced directly through public filings to UAR.

RudiZink said...

And here's one more thing, folks...

Now that Mark Shurtleff, the Attorney General of the State of Utah has chimed in with his boneheaded endorsement of the low-life Mr. Hains, the State Attorney General's office should from this point on recuse itself from any further comment on the Hains financial disclosure problem, inasmuch as Shurtleff and his office now have an irreconcilable conflict of interest.

Dan S. said...

Curm:

All campaign finance disclosure laws are hellishly difficult to monitor and enforce. Assuming that we agree on the benefit to having such laws, we're going to have to live with that and find the best solution we can.

There is nothing in the Ogden Municipal Code (or in any applicable state law that I know of) that parallels the federal regulations on independent expenditures. In fact, the Ogden Municipal Code doesn't use the term "independent expenditure" or any synonym.

So my question to you is this: Are you happy leaving it this way, or do you think the city should try to regulate independent expenditures?

Dan S. said...

Rudi,

Conflicts of interest in the attorney general's office are an enormous can of worms. Because the office is fairly large and some conflicts are unavoidable (and even created by statute), the Utah Supreme Court allows the attorneys to work on some matters even when this would constitute a conflict for any other law office or firm. How well it all works out in practice, I can't say.

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:

You ask: "So my question to you is this: Are you happy leaving it this way, or do you think the city should try to regulate independent expenditures?"

My answer is, as it was earlier: I doubt individual "independent" expenditures can be effectively regulated without doing unacceptable damage to First Amendment free speech rights. If someone can show me a regulation that does not, I'll be glad to reconsider my opinion on the matter.

RudiZink said...

I think we have a special case here, Dan, Where Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has himself created the conflict by unnecessarily intervening in a local, non-partisan local political matter.

I don't see how under the Utah rules of professional conduct, anyone from his office can hereafter render legal advice advice on this matter.

This is much worse than a can of worms. It's in fact a bag of poisonous snakes.

Curmudgeon said...

Rudi [and I guess Dan]:

I gather the City Recorder's position is, once money went from the state Real Estate Pac to the local one, it ceased being the state PAC's money, and became the local organization's money. Hence, when the local PAC donated it to Hains, it was donating its own funds, and not making the donation the name of an other. [I presume this would not be so if you could show that the UAR directed NWAR to give the money to Hains. But if the local PAC decided where it would go, and it was no longer the state PACS money, no foul, no violation.] As I read the clip of the ordinance you posted, what it bans is NWAR saying to Mr. Hains, "here's this money from UAR and we're giving we're passing it on to you from them." I presume that's the plain meaning of "in the name of another."

What NWAR seems to have said instead was "We have some money. It's ours, and we get to decide who to give it to, and we're giving it to you."

Yes, of course it's a way to get around the intent of the ordinance. That doesn't make it a violation of the ordinance. The ordinance may have made it a little more cumbersome for the deep pockets to funnel big bucks to candidates, but not stopped it, or made it actually illegal.

Would the City Recorder's interpretation of the Ordinance stand up in court? Can't say. We'd have to see. But I wouldn't bet the baby's new shoes that it wouldn't.

Curmudgeon said...

SE Website down again. On election night.

Stephen M. Cook said...

Note to those who won, and a word to those who lost: no one in power of the current generation, or their children, will sell the Ogden bench land to pay for public debt or to fund the pet projects of whomever is in power.

Thank you for your understanding in this matter.

Bill C. said...

Well folks, we have to allow Ballentines ploy in order to protect our own rights, sad but true.
But we can recall that this is the person that allowed Brown and geiger to park that ridiculus gondola car in her yard next to the west parking lot of Ogden Stadium for over a week during the rodeo one year.
Fortunately the large ticket quota van was parked so near that not many paid attention to the silly gondola car.
In hind sight I see the mayor and griener showed their true colors and selective enforcement to the benefit of one of their supporters on that one.
Many residents in Ogden have recieved tickets and big fines for parking vehicles on their lawns, which is exactly what Ballentyne did.
The quota van was always parked legally, to the dismay of the lying little gondola clan.
Let's just hope the public is smart enough not to fall prey to these desperate last minute shenanigans.

Elected official said...

Ok even if Hains did wrong, the penalty is an infraction, $500.00
so pay that and he is good to go.
see below


1-8-8: PENALTY:

A. It shall be an infraction, punishable as provided by section 1-4A-1 of this title, or its successor, for any person to violate any provision of this chapter or to fail to file when due any required campaign finance statement or report specified in this chapter or to knowingly or wilfully falsify or omit any information required by any of the provisions of this chapter.

B. A private party in interest may bring a civil action in district court to enforce the provisions of this chapter. In accordance with section 10-3-208, Utah Code Annotated, in such a civil action, the court may award costs and attorney fees to the prevailing party.

(Ord. 2009-39, 6-9-2009)

c. In the case of an infraction, by a fine in any sum not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500.00).

Dan S. said...

Curm:

You're not making it easy to tell exactly what your position is. But let me try. You believe there should be no regulation at all of independent expenditures by individuals, and therefore you believe that my hypothetical scenario (paying as an individual for a professional-looking campaign mailer, in support of my favorite candidate, which costs more than I'd be allowed to contribute to that candidate) should be completely legal. However, for PACs you would prefer something similar to the federal regulations, which do require disclosure and prohibit cooperation between candidates' campaigns and independent spenders.

That about right?

Dan S. said...

Curm: I meant to say "completely legal and unregulated, with no disclosure requirements". That's pertaining to the hypothetical scenario.

Dan S. said...

Elected official: I know. Even so, if I were a candidate and had to choose between returning a $1500 contribution and being found guilty of an infraction, I'd return the contribution.

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:

Your summary of my POV: "You believe there should be no regulation at all of independent expenditures by individuals." Not quite. I said I don't see how independent expenditures by individuals not part of a campaign can be regulated without doing unacceptable damage to First Amendment free speech liberties.

As for this --- "and therefore you believe that my hypothetical scenario (paying as an individual for a professional-looking campaign mailer, in support of my favorite candidate, which costs more than I'd be allowed to contribute to that candidate) should be completely legal." --- if it were a completely independent operation, in no way informed by or financed by the candidate or his campaign, probably yes. Any consultation with or input by the candidate or his campaign staff would make it a different matter.

PACS regulations are difficult, but workable. The problem [for me] comes in trying to regulate truly independent action not connected with, informed by or financed by a candidate or his campaign. By way of example, if Ms. Ballantyne wanted to shell out a couple of K to have her letter edited by someone with at least a nodding acquaintance with proper English, and printed up on slick paper and mailed to every address in the city, I think she should be able to do that. I can't think of how to tell her she can't, or how to require her to undergo an extensive reporting and registration process without chilling free speech unacceptably.

Dan S. said...

Curm:

I understand you up to a point, but what if an individual's efforts are informed by, or coordinated with, a candidate's campaign? Should that be regulated?

Another question: What if an individual wants to send out election-related mail anonymously? Should that be permitted?

I guess I don't see why the rules for large independent expenditures by individuals should be any different from the rules for large independent expenditures by PACs.

By the way, the reporting and registration process needn't be "extensive". Just go down to the city recorder's office and fill out a form with your name and address, saying how much you spent. If you're spending over $500, then the additional burden of filling out a form shouldn't be a concern.

Stephen M. Cook said...

Anyone person should be able to do whatever they wish with their money, unencumbered: this includes using it for speech.

Corporations should not enjoy the same free speech rights as individuals, and should simply be levied a mandatory fee, spread evenly between candidates and parties.
Interest Groups and the labyrinthine legal code that always accompanies their participation are contrary to a democracy, and like lobbyists, should not be allowed to interfere in law making, elections, or governance.
Perhaps nail their intestines to a tree.

Dan S. said...

Curm:

I just looked up the federal rules on independent expenditures. For the most part, these rules do not distinguish between independent expenditures by individuals and independent expenditures by PACs. The threshhold for reporting is $250.

In other words, the federal rules are much more stringent than you apparently believe they should be, and even more stringent than what I'm advocating.

Would you care to reconsider your position?

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:
From the document you referenced:

When financing communications in connection with federal elections, it is important to understand that the rules differ significantly depending on whether the communication is coordinated with a candidate or party committee or is produced and distributed independently. In general, amounts spent for coordinated communications are limited, but independent expenditures are unlimited.

Dan S. said...

Curm: Right. So?

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