Friday, December 04, 2009

Standard-Examiner Guest Commentary: "The Pendulum Has Swung Too Far On Ethics Reform Movement"

If we're ever to have comprehensive legislative ethics reform in Utah, the lumpencitizens will obviously have to do the job themselves

We'll kickstart this morning's discussion by directing our readers attention to this morning's Standard-Examiner "Viewpoints" guest commentary, wherein Layton attorney Bruce Barton offers the facially-preposterous proposition that Utah citizens should refrain from passing the pending UEG Legislative ethics reform initiative because... "[y]ou can't legislate morality":
The pendulum has swung too far on ethics reform movement
Strangely, this morning's commentary ignores the fact that the vast body of western law consists almost entirely of regulations proscribing individual conduct which violates moral and ethical principles. A truly strange argument indeed, from a licensed Utah attorney, who presumably derives his livelihood enforcing or interpreting the rules of conduct which society enacts to protect us from the pernicious acts of those who don't know the difference between right and wrong.

To the extent that Mr. Barton's assertion can be interpreted to mean that "you can't legislate men's hearts," we'll concede that Mr. Barton is probably narrowly correct. Nevertheless, Mr. Barton takes a giant leap into faulty logic, and is plainly wrong in suggesting that we as a society ought not at least attempt to to regulate the conduct of elected officials who lack their own built-in ethical and moral constraints. Yes, our society will always be plagued by unethical and immoral men. And there will always be those who break the rules. These facts however don't mean that we should refrain from diligent effort to enact rules which provide negative sanctions for bad conduct.

In the wake of the Standard's strong November 29 editorial, we expected to see an opposition guest commentary or two. But having now read Mr. Barton's weak attempt to obfuscate the issues, all we can say is this: So-called legislative leaders, who are fighting like badgers to preserve their legislative privileges and perks, are going to have to come up with something more persuasive than the hogwash which Mr. Barton tried to hand us this morning.

Hopefully this morning's guest commentary will tick off a few more WCF and Std-Ex readers, and motivate them to sign the petition, which awaits their signatures here:
UEG Petition Locations
If we're ever to have comprehensive legislative ethics reform in Utah, the lumpencizens will obviously have to do the job themselves. Folks like the mendacious Mr. Barton certainly aren't going to lend any help.

Remember, we have only four months remaining to gather 97,000 signatures.

Let's get crackin', folks!


Me thinks he doth protest too much . . . said...

If these sleazeballs can't be bought for a Jazz ticket, then why don't they give them up?

Barton argues that these gratuities are meaningless, but he sure does fight to keep them.

What a steaming pile this guy is!

Bruce Barton: Clean up the system! Separate yourself from it!

althepal said...

I'm awaiting some opposition commentary from a sitting legislator like Brad Dee.

Will those in legislative leadership who oppose the inititive continue to hide in the background, and make their arguments through surrogate shills like Mr. Barton; or will they stand up themselves to assert their constitutional right to mooch free meals and Jazz tickets?

So far, it appears that they've adopted the latter, more cowardly course.

The ensuing discussion will be most interesting to watch.

Anonymous said...

Great article, RudiZ.

Elected official said...

If I had any ethics I would take all the jazz tickets there are. this would show that i have the most integrity in the room. i'm just following my leader matt godfrey. there is nothing wrong with going to jazz games with the little pay that the legislature makes. pay the legislature a 80,000.00 a year and then they would be willing to buy there own jazz tickets, but when they make less than 6,000.00 a year who could blame them. this issue is not about jazz tickets or a free meal, it is about just compensation for the work they do. did any one run for this office to get rich. lets have all elected official get paid only when they are sitting behind a desk and you would have anyone running for office. could the commissioners work for that little of pay, could the mayor, could the governor, could the treasurer? no. do they take jazz tickets? yes. but no one is talking about that, are they. so lets make it fair for all and then lets see where the ethics lie. how many of you would not take a gift from your neighbor because he wants to thank you for help raking the leafs, or putting his garbage can away. to many people are just so envious that it makes me sick to see how they judge each other.
many people will say that legislators knew what the pay was going into their jobs, well they would say and we knew that free jazz tickets were part of that as well. it has been going on for along time. I remember reading that Rep. Hansen had a bill a few years ago to do away with gifts and at the same time make the legislature salaried. I feel this is what needs to happen but I don't know if Hansen would run the bill this year or not. This issue is one of those damn if you do, and damned if you don't. so how many of you would call him and see if this is the right thing to do? He is the only one I know that would do the right thing. but i'm sure he needs to hear it from some of you. so quit cryng about it and do something about it. call him and let him know that you would support that kind of bill. enough said.

Jim Hutchins said...


If you look through the archives of this here blog, you'll see that I've been advocating for a living wage for our state legislators for some time.

It should be a full-time job. The colonial idea of a citizen-legislator is long since been rendered obsolete. Let's figure out what they should be paid, based on job responsibilities, and pay them that.

If you really want the ideal of public service for the public good, pull five candidates from the jury pool and have them stand for election. Otherwise, pay legislators like the professionals they are.

OgdenLover said...

If legislators were full-time employees, they'd have to stop being realtors, developers, and construction company owners. How would the poor things ever manage?

Elected official said...

as i have looked up the legislative pay. they are paid 107 a day times that by 365 days that equates to 39,055.00 a year, that is still a far cry from what the ogden mayor is paid which is 80,000.00 plus a year.

usherette said...

A full time state lawmaker would make about 185 a day.

tiny dancer said...

85 k, plus a reasonable per diem.

blackrulon said...

The pendlum on ethics reform has "not swung too far". It has not moved at all. Unless and until reform is made the pendulum is not moving. The members of the legislature are just trying to avoid change.

Rasputin said...

Consider the common denominator among the people that oppose ethics reform. Almost all are members of the same religion. These are the people who go to church to pray and talk of love of mankind and then starting Monday, they shaft and cheat the rest of the citizens.

It is bad enough when business people do this, but when they are elected or appointed people responsible for protecting the public, it is reprehensible. Only in Utah can these people exist. In other areas of our country, cities and counties may be dominated by a culture,but this is the only place where it is statewide! Wake up Utah citizens and vote these people out of office.

Danny said...

I'm a Mormon and I feel that I'm honest.

But I've lived outside Utah. When I came to Utah, I was surprised at the corruption.

We have a term we use for it. We call these people "Utah Mormons." They spend hours serving the church, but they seem to be ethically challenged oftentimes.

The church could fix it, by having conference talks and lessons on honesty so people know what it is. I don't know why they don't. It seems all the talks and lessons are on church service, so that's what the people do. Then they go their way being dishonest.

Godfrey is a prime example of a Utah Mormon.

ozboy said...

"Elected Official"

You may be right on the $107 per day for legislator's pay, however they only get that pay for days they are in session (45 per year I think), plus the days they have to attend committee meetings. They also get a per diem for hotel and meals while legislation is in session. I think all total they make more in the range of 10 thousand per year or so.

Big Dawg said...

Dang I love this blog!

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