Friday, March 04, 2011

Standard-Examiner Editorial: OUR VIEW: Another Attempt to Gut GRAMA - Updated

For those citizen activists among us who'd like to contact your State Senators to put the last-minute brakes on this ill-conceived GRAMA-gutting legislation, we've helpfully provided the pertinent State Senate contact links

Fine editorial in this morning's Standard-Examiner, lambasting our "Republican-dominated Utah Legislature" for its latest heavy-handed effort to "restrict freedom of speech and transparency in government."

As a flurry of Utah Media sources reported yesterday, (See, e.g., (Deseret News, ABC 4, Tribune, Daily Herald, Fox 13, Standard Examiner), Utah neoCON Rep. John Dougall's GRAMA-gutting House Bill 477 sailed through the House yesterday with a 61-12 vote; and this morning our home town newspaper lets our secrecy-loving Utah legislature have it with both barrels:
This morning's editorial also make at least a decent effort to publicly identify a few of the "Top of Utah" legislators who voted to hide electronic communications behind a veil of secrecy, and to increase the cost to citizens who seek document production through GRAMA procedure. Unfortunately the Standard's list is incomplete. And it's in that connection we're pleased provide the full list of House members who voted for the latest GRAMA-gutting measure, straight from the Utah Legislative website:
And yes, gentle readers... the entire Weber County House Delegation voted in favor of HB 477. Remember... all of these House Reps will be telling you they're bulldogs for government transparency and enemies of big secretive government as they campaign in the upcoming 2012 elections:
In posting these names and contact information individually, we believe we need to give "credit" where it's due, (if you know what we mean, and we think you do.)

Who knows? Maybe some of you will decide to send them an email... you know... to let them know how proud you are of them?

Update 3/4/10 10:27 a.m.: Per his comment in the lower comment section, Dan S. provides a few other news items pertaining to this story:
As an added bonus we'll particularly highlight the above-linked KSL video, which we know our WCF readers (and multitudes of Dan Schroeder fans) will simply not want to miss:

Video Courtesy of

And for those citizen activists among us who'd like to contact your State Senators to put the last-minute brakes on this ill-conceived GRAMA-gutting legislation, here are the pertinent State Senate contact links, along with some excellent and additrional "talking points," submitted by one of our concerned and well-informed Gentle Readers:
Don't let your cat get your tongues, O Gentle Ones.


Curmudgeon said...

The question is, what are they afraid the press and voters are going to find out about if they don't gut GRAMA? What are they hiding?

Is Rep. Froerer busy looking the other way again while another Developers Dream Bill stripping his constituents of their right to vote for their own town government is being prepared?

What is Rep. Pitcher afraid he'll find on the front pages of the SL Trib or the Standard Examiner some morning if he doesn't gut GRAMA?

What are they so eager to hide? From the press and from the voters?

From Gage's last campaign said...


I will continue to support common-sense ethics reform that will revive the public's trust in our state government, including more transparency and a ban on gifts.

Curmudgeon said...

Nice catch, From. Nice catch.

Dan S. said...

More news links:

KSL (text and video)

Salt Lake Tribune article

Tribune editorial

Ray said...

Need to kill this bill now. If it passes good luck on getting it reversed. This is exactly the tactic employed on the original incorporation bill and it's supposed unintended consequences that allowed the Powder Mountain debacle.

ozboy said...

This is just one more example of why the Utah State Legislature is a national treasure trove for dishonest and incompetent politician jokes.

The saddest part is that the citizens of Utah are always on the short end of the jokes. That of course is the same citizens who keep returning these corrupt and incompetent people to office each election season.

The sheeple have spoken at the last election and that my friends is the end of democracy and the beginning of republic here in Republican land.

I would hope that the deluded non thinking voters in Utah would catch on and start voting for non-incumbents, but they won't and the whole state is stuck with this insane clown posse who rule us.

David R. Grant said...

Of course, the King does not want the people to know what he is up to...
People in Utah say they want a smaller and leaner government, and they elect a group of meddlesome pro-government suits who suggest more laws than any legislature in state history, many of the laws being pro-government in your face intrusions.
And then they have the temerity to make it more difficult to stay informed.

Ugh said...

I am disgusted by Gage Froerer's vote on this especially after he said he was for ethics in government and transparency. I let him know as much . . . that is if he even bothers to read the mail sent to him by his constituents.

Biker Babe said...

"It’s obvious that the real intent of HB477 is for legislators to have a weapon to swat away inquiries from the "little people" who annoy Utah’s lawmakers. In other words, taxpayers."

I would change the word taxpayers to VOTERS or CONSTITUENTS ... because it is the constituents & voters who get a voice [or are S'POSED to get a voice] in what these ELECTED lawmakers do.

It is a ripe pile of horse biscuits that those we elect, deep down don't want us to know what it is they do and how, when, where & why they do it ....


Curmudgeon said...

And WSU's The SignPost has an editorial up as well, link here.

Here's the lead: "Utah media lawyer Jeff Hunt appeared at Weber State University on Thursday and said that a bill that would change the way the public can access government information is one of the worst bills he has seen in his 20 years of work."

Rudi Vallee said...

Don't you wonder where the ACLU is on this? They manage to stay silent on issues like this because
they are intimidated by the Utah power structure.

They are only interested in the Gang member's plight and not the rest of us.

Ogden_Blimp said...

Looks like it has passed. At least I can still look in your windows. Follow me on Twitter. @Ogden_Blimp

Curmudgeon said...

Rudi Vallee:

The ACLU of Utah sent an Action Alert email to its members earlier today urging them to contact members of the Senate to oppose passage of the bill. Here's how the Action Alert message opened:

Keep Government Transparent and Accountable
Vote No On H.B. 477

Senate Rules Committee Hearing Will Review
H.B. 477, "Government Records Amendments,"
That Would Reduce Transparency In Government

Show your support for open government that is accountable to the people by coming to the hearing this afternoon, Friday, March 4, at 3:00 p.m.
in Room 415 at the State Capitol!
Information about the Senate Rules Committee Hearing >>

It included a general description of the bill, a list of arguments against its passage, and information on how to contact Senate members of the Senate Committee in charge of handling it.

You can apologize any time, Mr. Vallee.

Curmudgeon said...

The bill has passed and is on its way to the governor's desk. It contained a very unusual provision. Instead of going into effect 60 days after the governor signs it, it goes into effect immediately upon his signature. [Even if he vetoes it, it won't matter. It passed by veto proof majorities in both houses, I think.]

Predictions: Because of the "takes effect immediately" provision, I think the Godfrey administration will absolutely appeal the decision of the Revue Board regarding his alleged donoars list Dan S. filed a GRAMA request to see. It can delay filing that appeal thirty days, by which time the governor will have signed and the bill will be in effect. Once it appeals, after the bill has become law, the Administration can argue that all its legal research costs in prep for the judicial hearing on Dan's GRAMA request can be billed to Dan S. which will probably force him to not to take his GRAMA request for the documents to the court.

We shall see.

HB477 really should have been entitled "The Matthew Godfrey Protection Bill."

Waddups, when asked about the rush to pass it [text wasn't know to anyone until 48 hours ago. It went through a phoney House committee hearing, no Senate committee hearing, and passage by both houses in two days], he said if there are problems with it, we can fix them next year.

Sound familiar? Think Developers Dream Bill that created the Powder Mountain Town mess. Passed in haste with no scrutiny, they "fixed" it two years later, when the damage was done.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is government Utah Republican style. And two years from now, when they run for office again, they will all be re-elected, even though the poll taken yesterday after the Bill's contents became known, indicated something north of 80% of the public opposed it.

South Bench said...

80 percent opposing in a statewide poll means very little in a general election where only political wonkies and old folk vote.

This is one of those bills where you go, what?, hardly believing both reps and dems are not marching on the capital with pitchforks.

No time, of course. They now have to work 3 jobs to have the same earning power as their dad did with one.

This false scarcity brought to you by the committee to elect satan.

Curmudgeon said...

South bench:

Nope. This is a single issue poll, and won't translate a year and a half from now into party line votes.

But these are the same legislators who will point to polls constantly saying "the people of the state want this bill." They've done it already this session and will again.

Dan S. said...

Curm: I don't think the bill would allow the government to charge for legal work done after a case goes to court. Of course, that's all the more reason, in future cases, for them to do extensive legal research up front, when they can charge the requester for it.

Curmudgeon said...


Perhaps you're right Dan. But I'm well past the point where I'd be surprised by anything Utah elected officials would claim without shame to keep what they're doing from becoming known to the press or the general public.

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