Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Morning HB477 News Roundup

Looks as if the currently raging HB477 controversy ain't goin' away anytime soon

We'll briefly set forth the following list of this morning's HB477-topical stories, which represent, wethinks, a quite thorough survey of new stories appearing in the public press since our last WCF article on this topic:

The controversial HB477, which delivers a GRAMA-gutting blow against Utah citizens' access to most electronic government communications and many other electronic records, may be headed to the ballot as a group of citizens file an initiative petition to force a public vote:

Protestors briefly took over the Capitol building Thursday night as part of a rally against HB477:

Joel Campbell, a BYU professor and lobbyist for the Utah Press Association, goes on record with this morning's Standard-Examiner guest editorial, denying that members of the Utah media "were unavailable or unwilling to talk," and spilling the beans that HB477 sponsors closed media opponents entirely out of the discussion, despite numerous earlier attempts to help educate legislators about the existing GRAMA process:
And here's a hard-hitting Tribune editorial you're definitely not gonna wanna miss:
Looks as if the currently raging controversy ain't goin' away anytime soon; and something tells us the the legislature's anti-public information kook faction may have a made a major tactical mistake, in going toe-to-toe with the Utah media in this instance.

(A hat tip to our friends at Utah Policy Daily, btw, for helping us round up a fair portion of our fairly fancy collection of helpful morning links.)


Moroni McConkie said...

Let's be honest. Is anyone in Utah surprised that Herbert signed HB477? Of course he was going to. Herbert is Herbert. No courage, no class. No point in focusing on him. H. L. Mencken's astonishment - that of all the eligible males in the country, voters elected a nothing like Cal Coolidge - applies in Utah in 2011.

By the same token, there's no point in lamenting Elder Godfrey's intended veto of the nondiscrimination ordinance. Of course he will. Godfrey is Godfrey, a Danite born one century too late. No courage, no class.

Are scruples and political ambition mutually exclusive in Utah?

Utah Legislature is stupid said...

Weber County Bar Association is having their monthly lunch at Jasoh on March 25. Sen. Hillyard is giving a "legislative update" Any lawyers want to show up and ask the fun questions?

AnonyMoose said...

HB477: Continuing Coverage

Hundreds Sing in Utah Capitol at Govt Secrecy Protest-Videos

Curmudgeon said...

The number of state legislators who are explaining their vote for the first passage of HB477 as a mistake caused by getting bad information about the bill from colleagues [and for Republicans from their caucus leadership] is growing. Add House Rep. John Wheatley, Democrat of Murray, who told John Saltas of the Salt Lake City Weekly that "he regretted his vote, which he admitted was made in haste after some bad advice and cast without a proper vetting."

Salta's column, which deals at length with the HB 477 mess, can be found here.

Monotreme said...

My representative, Dixon Pitcher (Leg 10) claimed the same: he voted for HB 477 originally, then voted against the bill with Senate amendments.

However, I did not get a coherent explanation of his voting behavior from him. I do appreciate that he took time to respond to my query.

Dan S. said...

The Standard-Examiner article includes some local response at the end. Here's what I sent Mr. Schwebke when he emailed me asking for a quote on the subject of "fishing expeditions":

I think GRAMA already contains adequate protections to discourage overly broad "fishing expeditions". If there are examples to the contrary, I'd like to hear about them (in detail). The government can charge fees for copying records and for direct administrative costs for searching and segregating records. Whenever the city has charged me such fees, I've happily paid. Sometimes I've modified my requests, once I learned that they would be harder to fulfill than I had initially hoped.

What we shouldn't have to pay for, which HB 477 would permit, is the time that a city attorney spends determining which records are public and which can be withheld. That's an open-ended legal research process that would allow the government to charge almost unlimited fees for all but the simplest requests. It's the government's job to classify records as public or nonpublic, not the requester's. The government should already have procedures in place to handle classification of the vast majority of records without the direct involvement of an attorney. But for some reason, Ogden sends most of my requests through the city attorney's office, including requests for obviously public information such as consultants' reports and financial records.

It's true that I've submitted quite a few GRAMA requests over the years. These requests have helped uncover two instances where Ogden City misspent grant money and two instances where a contractor was hired without competitive bidding and the mayor signed a retroactive waiver after people found out about it. The most recent of these was for the field house feasibility study. The funds involved in these incidents totaled more than $100,000. If GRAMA didn't work the way it does now, we probably would never have learned those things; even the city council would have stayed in the dark. How much more of our tax money would this administration misspend if they knew we could never find out about it?

So yeah, complying with GRAMA requests can be inconvenient and expensive. But a government that conducts business in secret would be far more expensive because of the corruption it would breed.

Curmudgeon said...


I'm willing to give a legislator who looked at evidence that what he thought about a bill was incorrect, and changed his mind on that basis some credit. It's a quality I value in legislators at every level --- city council, state legislature and Congress: willingness to change their views in light of convincing evidence when they'e made aware of it.

The Wizard said...

What these dumbell's in the legislature and Governor's office have overlooked is the impact this will have on the credibility of the State of Utah. This kind of stupid legislation will draw serious attention to the folly of the Utah leadership and most of our elected officials.

It won't be long before the civil rights marchers will be here in their laps because of our elected official's neanderthal view about public access into their activities.

Jennifer said...

watch the news at 10:

How much did Gov Herbert Know about HB477 and when did he know it?

ignorance is no excuse ... besides, he would have known plenty by the rash of emails and phone calls and the rallies the most important thing: the people he serves DO NOT want it!



Curmudgeon said...

TLJ : which channel?

Jennifer said...

actually, it was advertised on the local Fox News at 9, but I'm sure the other networks will pick it up ...


Monotreme said...


I don't think that's the case, but I will reproduce our communications below (without editing or comment) and let you make your own decision.


Me: Mr. Pitcher,
I am angered and disgusted by your vote for HB 477. The people's
business needs to be done in the light of day.

Rep. Pitcher: Dear XXX, if you follow HB 477 further you will notice that I indeed voted no on the final bill with senate amendments. When it came to my attention that the information passed on by leadership was incorrect and that Private wire messages E mail ect.from voters Would must likely be already. Covered, I moved to kill the. bill Thank You for the. contact.Dixon

Me: Thank you for your response. Now that the bill is passed and signed, perhaps individual legislators such as yourself can work with constituents to craft a final bill to be passed in special session.

Rep. Pitcher: Dear XXX, This bill has not been signed (HB 477) by the Gov. Going to be studied during summer. Thanks. Dixon

Curmudgeon said...


Pitcher voted "nay" on passing the amended version of the bill and sending it to the Gov.

Jim Bridger said...

If anyone cares to study the history of Facist governments, you will find that the first thing they did was restrict public input and oversight of their government operation.

The sad part of this is the word of Utah's folly will be passed out of Utah to many other parts of America. Any candidate with roots in Utah will be splashed with this foolishness and will never be seriously considered for higher government office in Washington.

The 800 pound gorilla is the sub text of the LDS church. It is clear to outsiders that the church has a tremendous influence on political decisions in Utah and that that will be noted and exploited to defeat any national candidate from Utah. If we ignore that fact, we have our head in the sand.

Waldo Lydecker said...

Mr. Bridger has it right. This is a regressive movement by the State Legislature and Governor. We are marching backward with banners flying to the dark ages.

Left of Center said...

Delta Airlines Sky magazine had a good write up on Utah, almost looked like an advertizing promotion, even mentioned Ogden and what a fine city it was since Ameri-Sports moved here with such a great mayor. All the glowing stats about the business climate, City Creek, younger work force.

It also mentioned the one party rule just as a side note.

I'm hoping anyone reading that does their research and see the oppressive freedom that pervails in the state. Liquor controlled and sin taxed, stores closed on Sunday, not a good public transit system, arogant politicians who seem they feel above the law.

How many companies move here then have their transfered employees leave for adult states? Secret handshakes, secret meetings, back room deals, no public transpancy seems to be the norm.

F. Lee Bailey said...

Earlier, in another thread about the "contributors," I has asked Dan S. what he planned to do with the list of velodome donors. He replied something akin to, "RELEASE the list to the public."

Sounds wonderful, but how will he do that and once done, what will that accomplish? Fewer invites to this Summer's Sierra Club bar-b-ques or something? Non donors pointing and staring at the donors?

I just don't understand where the guy's going with all of this and why it really matters?

Lame Bill G.'s logical detractors said...

You realize that we realize that your're NOT actually "F. Lee Bailey?" Eh "Dumb" Bill G?

blackrulon said...

F. lee Bailey?-You ask what Dan S. will accomplish when he releases the list of secret donors to the veledrone? He will inform the public about secret backroom deals our Mayor seeks to hide. The local paper should print the list of alleged secret donors but will do their best not to embarass the Mayor. However I suspect that some if not most of the donors? on the list will be surprised to discover that the Mayor had them listed as a resource. Releasing the names will allow the public to investigate any special favors granted to the Friends Of Matt.

Dan S. said...

F. Lee:

You didn't quote the rest of my earlier response:

It's also possible that I, or a professional journalist, will contact some of the prospective donors to ask whether it's likely that they will actually donate. The overall goal is to assess whether the mayor's promise of $10 million in private donations is realistic.

Curmudgeon said...

F. Lee:

Let me add this to Dan's comment above. The Mayor has a history of claiming large money donors are waiting in the wings to support whatever his mega-bucks obsession of the moment is, if only some public body [City Council, Weber County Commission, etc.] will pony up public funds first as an indication of support for the project.

He did that with his Year Round Outdoor Downtown Ice Climbing Tower project. He told the Council and the Weber County Commission that he had private donors waiting to rain money on the project, just as soon as they had a commitment of public money up front. The Weber County Commission, believed him, and committed substantial RAMP funds to the project.

It turned out, though, that there were not in fact private donors eager to give major money and the project tanked. The RAMP Committee also discovered that the Administration had mis-used the funds it had granted, and forced the city to return the RAMP funds in full.

Now the Mayor is trying the same gambit, waving his Godfrey Wonder Dome Donors list [which no one is allowed to see], asking RAMP for money for the project on the basis of having all these private investors lined up ready to go. He just can't name them, he says. [Happily, the RAMP committee wasn't falling for the same trick this time.]

So long as the Mayor is using his [alleged] donors list for a public purpose --- to convince public bodies to allocate public money to the project --- then it is a public document and we [the public, the press, the Council, the RAMP Committee, whoever] should be able to see it.

Back in the Brooklyn of my Yout, we'd have told the Mayor to "put up or shut up." You claim to have all these private investors lined up, and are using that claim to ask for public money? Fine. Then tell us who they are and how much they've committed. Put up or shut up.

The GRAMA request makes a great deal of sense to me, then. It asks for a public document that the Mayor is attempting to use for an unquestionably public purpose. Though I can certainly understand why the Mayor doesn't want to release the list, particularly if it's as bogus as the list of megabucks donors he told RAMP was ready to fund the ice climbing tower.

Dan S. said...

The Utah chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the League of Women Voters are sponsoring two HB477 events in Salt Lake City.

March 16, City Library, 7 p.m.
HB477 Might As Well Be Law. Now What?

March 30, City Library, 7 p.m.
Get To Know our GRAMA

BOBBO said...

Bill G the Third.:
Your name is probably on the list, jackass. Do you have a half-mill to donate?

BLOGGO said...

I can provide you with Godfrey's ten million. Only two people on this list have been contacted:

William Glasmann III: $500,000
The Moore/Brownings: $500,000
Carolyn Nebeker: $1 million
Curt Geiger: 50 cents
Bob Geiger: 50 cents
O. Marvin Lewis: $500,000
Dr. Doug Felt: $500,000
Homer Cutrubus: $500,000
Phidia Cutrubus: $500,000
The Lindquists: $2 million

The Marquardts: $1 million
The Eccles: $2 million
Abe Schreve, Blake Fowers, Jeff Lucas, Sue Wilkerson, Ed Allen, Bernie Allen, Christy Shaw, John Patterson, FATASS MARK JOHNSON, Mike Dowse, et al: $999 thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine dollars and fifty cents.

Thomas Paine said...

Where is the Utah ACLU on this? Why do they always disappear when issues that don't involve Gays or Minorities are front and center? Why have't more of you demanded that they get involved on these free access and oversight questions? Wake up!!!!!!!!!

Dan S. said...

TP: The ACLU is involved in this. What makes you think they're not? The coalition fighting HB477 is extremely broad, and not all the participants get named in every news story. Deal with it.

Ratzo said...

Dan S. get off your high horse. The ACLU is a phony organization in Utah that only responds when it involves sure fire wins for them. The average WASP in Utah has two chances of support from the ACLU, slim and none.

Dan S. said...

Sounds like Ratso once asked the ACLU for help with something and got upset when they declined. Poor Ratso.

Curmudgeon said...


It is involved against HB 477, as has been noted here in earlier threads.

Curious why you are urging people to ask it to get involved when you think its a "bogus organization" anyway.

Among the WASPS the ACLU has helped defend their constitutionally protected rights are Rush Limbaugh and Ollie North. Just by way of illustration. That you're much more likely to read of ACLU involvement protecting those in the underclass [minorities, the poor, etc.] comes from the fact that it's the relatively powerless [poor, minorities, etc] who are more likely to have government ignore their rights than others.

But your claim that the ACLU, in Utah or nationally only gets involved when non-white minorities are involved is flat out wrong and cannot be sustained on the evidence.

Ratzo said...

Crum, it is very difficult to see any evidence in Utah of the ACLU doing anything for the non gay or non minority people of Utah. There have been several cases over the years where they were asked to intervene, and they did not even respond, yet when a minority or gay issue is involved, up pops the ACLU.

Dan S. said...

I wonder if Ratzo will ever tell us what it was he/she went crying to the ACLU for.

F. Lee Bailey said...

Black, it seems as if your needle is stuck in the groove. All you people claim back, smoke filled room deals and your words are the same as they've always been. Nothing new here, just the constant gripping.

Curmudgeon, as usual, a very profound and logical post. However, I would prescribe that it leans more toward a slap at the Mayor than the alleged donors.

Bloggo, that's a nice list of wealthy folk you've posted. Appreciate your assumptions but were I one of them, I assure you I sure as hell wouldn't throw in a 1/2 mil toward the velodrome or whatever. Thanks for the credit but I'll contribute my money for other things and spend it in other places.

Dan, I read what your overall goal is but I was just curious as to how you would "release" the names to the public and what releasing said names was for. Your exercise seems redundant, for it's well known that the Mayor always has a list of donors he won't disclose, etc., etc., and they are usually the same people. Is your intention to have the lawn cutting guys and local merchants boycott these people for buying into the Mayor's projects?

Lame detractor, I wonder how a guy as dumb as you claim got himself elected and then put together 4 or 5 major projects that earn Ogden several million dollars over the next few years? Duh. What have you done for the City, other than carp on BG?

Dan S. said...

F. Lee:

The "how" is easy: I would probably just give the list to Rudi and ask him to post it here on this blog. I would also provide copies to any professional reporters who ask nicely. (However, Mr. Schwebke at the S-E seems to prefer to get his documents directly from the city, which he could easily do with this document once they decide to release it.) It's possible I'll decide not to post the whole list, depending on how long it is and what information it contains. If it's especially short, I could just type its contents into a comment like this one. So the details will depend on the specific contents of the list, which I don't yet know. But there will be no technical difficulty in making it available to the public.

The reason to release the list to the public is, once again, to allow the public to assess the likelihood of the city raising the promised $10 million in private donations for the field house.

It's certainly not my intention to advocate any sort of boycott or other punishment aimed at anyone who appears on the list. Private philanthropists can spend their money however they like. I'll be surprised, however, if these philanthropists have any intention to donate $10 million to the field house.

F. Lee said...

Pretty much agree, Dan. I too doubt that the public will pony up 10 mil toward the Field-house. But publishing a list of names will most likely not accomplish much. I wonder, does anyone really care about the supposed donors? Or is it just another whack at the Mayor? I doubt he'll change his ways, nor will you and his other detractors, which is too bad because of the immense amount of wasted time snipping at one another instead of using that time trying to move Ogden forward. And it's been going on for what, 10 years?

Both parties seem to be responsible for this and it's a shame, because the time spent is pretty much wasted. I'm amazed at how some people continue to harbor resentment, like this "Lame Detractor" guy. If he wants lame, he should look in the mirror. Too many years have passed and he's still posting his assumptive BS. The guy should get a life and move on.

Oh well, this is Ogden and apparently, this is what we do. I do appreciate your work in the accountability forum.

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