Sunday, June 30, 2013

Salt Lake Tribune: Judge Blocks Utah Law Limiting Federal Authority on Public Lands

Added bonus: Another timely reminder of exactly which "fiscally conservative" Weber County legislators voted in favor of this hare-brained and facially unconstitutional bill

Well... we hate to say "we told you so..." but we told you so, when we reported that U.S District Judge David Nuffer on May 14 had "signed a temporary restraining order blocking Rep. Mike Noel's HB155  from taking effect until a June hearing on a longer-term injunction," and accurately predicted that this "temporary order would be the first of several federal injunctions coming up over the next few months":

Here's the gist of the latest development  this case, via the Salt Lake Tribune, folks:
A federal judge on Friday blocked Utah’s latest anti-federal law, saying HB155 appears to impose the state’s will on federal land management and "creates irreparable harm to the constitutional order."
After fielding arguments on the law that seeks to limit federal police powers on public lands, U.S. District Judge David Nuffer issued a preliminary injunction pending a final ruling at trial.
And here's the full story for those who'd like to read up:
"Well there goes another million or so tax dollars down the drain that could have been better use[d] like the Utah education system....," sez one astute SLTrib reader.

"So much for the chest-puffing," says another.

And here's a reminder of exactly which "fiscally conservative" Weber County legislators voted in favor of this hare-brained and facially unconstitutional bill, which will most certainly go down in permanent injunction flames, if it ever does make its way to trial in Judge Nuffer's federal trial court:
Something for all Weber County voters to think about when our 2014 Utah General elections roll around a little less than 1-1/2 years from now, yes?

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results," said the wise old perfesser, if ya know what we mean, and we think you do...

Saturday, June 29, 2013

John Swallow Political Corruption Update: Episode XXXII - House Speaker Becky Lockhart Gets Her Formal Impeachment "Ducks" Lined Up

New poll:  Utah public’s lack of confidence "leaks" into other areas of the democratic process

Surprise of surprises, we have more this morning concerning Utah Attorney General John Swallow's mind-bending legal morass:

1) With a July 3, 2013 House Session already calendered to consider a resolution to investigate allegations against Utah Attorney General John Swallow,  various web sources report on the "nuts and bolts" of  the "unprecedented" Utah House impeachment process which "formally" commences on Wednesday:
Added bonus: Check out this boffo Fox13 News video, wherein House Speaker Lockhart explains how rules will be established and a commission created to launch the formal House investigation, a process which is likely to gobble up 2-3 months and $2-3 million in taxpayer treasure:

2) Alliance for a Better Utah has just released the results of a new poll, which may possibly shed some light on the reasons House leadership is pressing forward so aggressively in re this matter:

"No Confidence!" "Get TF Out Now!"
 "There are numerous polls that demonstrate the public’s shattered confidence in the Attorney General. Now, there is evidence that the public’s lack of confidence is starting to leak into other areas of the democratic process. Our own informal polling, the results of which are similar to BYU’s recent poll, demonstrate this breakdown in public confidence":
Yup. Even House Republicans are apparently experiencing their own personal political blowback, we guess.

That's it for now, folks.

Different Strokes: Different Folks
Update 6/29/13 12:27 p.m.:  Very interesting info received from Utah Policy's Lavarr Webb a couple minutes ago, which dives into the depths of Utahns' reactions to the John Swallow scandals, and additionally includes this interesting chart graphic, which we've now embedded at the right of your screen.

Read the full Utah Policy writeup here, folks:
Yep.  This John Sawllow alleged political corruption story grows ever more interesting by the moment, dunnit?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

WCF Morning News Roundup: Utah Reacts to Yesterday's SCOTUS Same-Sex Marriage Rulings - Updated

Tempest in a teapot... or are big changes in Utah law looming in the forefront?

Surprise of surprises, there's been a predictably frenzied Utah reaction to yesterday's twin U.S. Supreme Court rulings, which "lit up" the web from coast to coast and beyond.  For the benefit of any WCF readers who may have been hiding under a rock, the Standard-Examiner this morning carries this explanatory Associated Press story:
And, referring to this above story,  here's the gist:
WASHINGTON — In a major victory for gay rights, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples and cleared the way for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California.
The justices issued two 5-4 rulings in their final session of the term. One decision wiped away part of a federal anti-gay marriage law (Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA]) that has kept legally married same-sex couples from receiving tax, health and pension benefits.
The other was a technical ruling that said nothing at all about same-sex marriage, but left in place a trial court’s declaration that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. That outcome probably will allow state officials to order the resumption of same-sex weddings in the nation’s most populous state in about a month.
The ever-staid Standard treats the story in the morning "hard copy" edition, reporting that Utahns’ reactions were "mixed":
Click to enlarge image
The Trib however reports that Utahns' reactions leaned more in the direction of "joyful":
Utahns basically say "ah'm confused," according to the Deseret News:
And also via the DNews (who else?) we get the "whistling in the dark" reaction of one of Utah's more prominent religious sects:
And not to be outdone on the "church angle" by the church-owned paper up north, the Happy Valley Herald chimes in with the question that's on the minds and tongues of Gentle Mormon faithful everywhere:
The harsh critique of yesterday's Supreme Court decisions isn't confined to the lay clergy of the LDS Church, of course:
The Trib plays the bean-counter inquisitor role and asks a practical question: 
A University of Utah law perfesser chimes in with the "legal angle":
Attorney General John Swallow, perhaps concerned that his name might not be plastered all over Utah print media front pages for at least one day, did a live interview on ABC4 News and offered his own assurances that Utah will still be allowed to blithely discriminate (as God intended) against same-sex couples in the future:

The Trib reports on yesterday's Utah’s Celebration of Marriage "rally" at  South Towne Expo Center in Sandy, where proponents of traditional marriage (and advocates of the crackpot "White Horse Prophesy", perhaps) waved American flags and bravely patted each other on the back:
Even Utah polygamists got into the act:
Will Utah Senator Jim Dabakis and his longtime partner be the first to file a federal equal protection-based Utah "test case"?
Yup, Justice Kennedy and the Supremes definitely opened up a large can of worms in Utah when they knocked down DOMA and kicked Prop. 8 back to the lower court.

So what do our Gentle Weber County Forum readers think about all this?

Tempest in a teapot... or are big changes in Utah law looming in the forefront?

Update 6/27/13 12:07 p.m.: Utah Policy's Lavarr Web asks, "What will the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage mean for Utah? Vote in Utah Policy's survey...":
Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Standard-Examiner: Weber Residents Say 'Yes' to Libraries, Pools - Updated

As a followup to yesterday's special bond election deadline reminder, the Standard carries two hot-off the-press stories this morning, reporting that Weber County voters approved both the pool and library measures by 57.58% and 54.3%, respectively:
How happy are Ogden/Weber pool and library boosters this morning?

Update 6/27/13 5:30 a.m.: The Standard reminds us that the "official" vote counts are not yet in, and that the celebrations might therefore be a mite premature; although in truth, the realistic odds of still-uncounted votes upending these preliminary reported tallies are somewhere between "slim to none":

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Standard-Examiner: Residents Voting Today on Bonds for Weber Libraries, Ogden Pools

Don't vote? Don't complain, folks

Here's a quick reminder for Ogden and Weber County residents, who may have forgotten to vote:
OGDEN — Many Weber County voters may have already cast their ballots by mail for today’s bond elections, but officials want to emphasize that people who have not yet voted still have the opportunity to add their votes traditionally at the polls today.
Poll stations are set up in the North Ogden and Marriott-Slaterville city offices; the South Ogden and Roy municipal buildings; the Weber Center; and the Ogden Valley Branch Library, with the voting from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Get the full lowdown here, via the Standard-Examiner:
You don't vote? Then don't complain, folks.

John Swallow Political Corruption Update: Episode XXXI - "Veiled Threats" and Recusals

The bad news continues unabated

Here's the latest in the John Swallow saga, folks:

Say what???
1) "An attorney for Marc Sessions Jenson says he received a 'veiled threat'  from embattled Utah Attorney General John Swallow's chief deputy over  the weekend":
2) "At least one state senator is considering recusing himself from any  Senate impeachment trial of embattled Attorney General John Swallow,  saying considering how Swallow is acting these days he questions whether  he can remain impartial. Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, who faces  re-election in 2014, in a memo to fellow senators and legislative staff,  said over the weekend that Swallow’s demeanor and his disregard (as  Reid sees it) of public opinion is greatly testing Reid’s ability to  stay truly neutral on Swallow":
Effete political posturing on Reid's part? You be the judge.

Monday, June 24, 2013

John Swallow Political Corruption Update: Episode XXX - The Plot "Sickens"

Never a dull moment in the life of our (allegedly) ethically-challenged and "alleged" Utah Attorney General, no?

Here's the latest on the ever-fascinating John Swallow topic, folks:

NOT... a Crook! Says me!
1) House Impeachment Proceedings: "Utah Attorney General John Swallow appeared before state Republican Party leaders Saturday to proclaim his innocence, thank them for hanging with him against a barrage of allegations and investigations and to ask them to be patient for two or three more months":
"While Utah lawmakers’ decision to create a special committee to investigate Attorney General John Swallow is a major milestone, hurdles, hardships and possibly heartache lie ahead, warn those who have been through similar ordeals":
2) Other Pending Investigations: Rebounding from a disappointing earlier request for "special counsel" applicants, State Elections Director Mark Thomas now reportedly has fourteen (count'em, 14) bids for a special counsel will no doubt "get rich quick" investigating alleged election-law violations against Swallow:
"A letter and brief statement from prosecutors suggests two others in the Attorney General's Office may be key witnesses, or under investigation---in connection with the on-going probe into Attorney General John Swallow and his predecessor, Mark Shurtleff;"  and it appears that "Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill and Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings wrote the letter granting 'use immunity' to convicted "fraudster" Marc Jenson, in exchange for his cooperation in their [pending] Swallow-Shurtleff investigation(s)":
In the above connection however, "Attorney General John Swallow [sez] [Mark Jensen] is using forged documents against him.":
Never a dull moment in the life of our (allegedly) ethically-challenged, and "alleged" Utah Attorney General, no?

Added bonus:  Be sure to click the Sutherland Institute graphic image below, for a truly remarkable (suitable for printing out, framing and hanging on your wall) breakdown of the full sea of legal troubles engulfing poor old John Swallow:

"You can't tell the players without a program."  Right, folks?

Friday, June 21, 2013

John Swallow Political Corruption Update: Episode XXIX - Grinding the Impeachment Gears

The impeachment process moves full speed ahead in top gear

There's plenty more in the way of news blowback from Wednesday's Utah House GOP impeachment caucus, wherein the House GOP started down the road to impeachment of Attorney General John Swallow:

1) Gov. Gary Herbert applauds the decision by the Utah House to investigate Swallow, and adds that he'll "absolutely" call lawmakers into special session if needed":
2) The Standard reports that "House Speaker Becky Lockhart will convene a special meeting of the Utah House of Representatives on July 3 to initiate the investigative process against the state’s attorney general":
3) Lockhart still has not decided on the political composition of the House investigative committee, but (surprize of surprises) House Democrats are jockeying to be included on a bipartisan panel:
4) The tight-fisted beancounters within the GOP House faction are racking their brains over the possible, ultimate "price tag" for these proceedings, which some estimates peg at between "$2 million to $5 million":
5) Utah Policy's Bob Bernick reports that Ogden's own ever-buttoned-down Senator Stuart Reid (R) says Swallow’s “flippant” and “insolent” press conference following the House decision to investigate has "damaged his impartiality in the case":
That's the latest as of now, folks.

So wants to throw in their own 2¢?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

John Swallow Political Corruption Update: Episode XXVIII - The Post-Caucus Post-Mortem - Updated

The Democrats are of course absolutely tickled by results; even Swallow is giddy with excitement

The Utah news and political media are awash in stories this morning, reporting the House GOP has decided to start the process to investigate Attorney General John Swallow, which could be the first step down the road to impeachment:
The Democrats are of course absolutely tickled by yesterdays results, although they would like to play a greater role the next time the impeachment topic comes up on the Utah House agenda:
Even Swallow is giddy with excitement:
In an interesting sideshow to yesterday's caucus proceedings both City Weekly and the Trib report about a small group of protesters who were milling around the capitol yesterday, demanding Swallow’s ouster
That's it, folks.  So who'll be the first to offer your own John Swallow impeachment post-caucus post-mortem?

Update 6/20/13 11:22 a.m.:  Check out this SL-Trib video, showing the completely out-of-touch (read clueless) Attorney General John Swallow, dissembling and withering under (shall we say intense) the intense  questioning by "our" assembled and ever-diligent Utah press, upon conclusion of yesterday's House GOP "impeachment caucus":

Comments anyone? Ferris?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

John Swallow Political Corruption Update: Episode XXVII - Impeachment Caucus One-ring Circus - Updated

Stay tuned, as we expect to do real-time news updates throughout the day

There's more interesting news to highlight on the John Swallow political corruption topic, of course, as Utah House Republicans prepare to meet today to discuss possible impeachment proceedings against our embattled and ethically-challenged Utah Attorney General:

1) Regarding today's state legislative GOP meetup, which UtahPolicy.Com breathlessly describes as "THE MOST IMPORTANT CAUCUS OF ALL TIME," we'll put the spotlight on these new Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News stories, setting the stage for today's "historic" state legislative vs. executive branch showdown:
In response to Gentle Reader Daniel Burton's earlier comment, here's an encouraging quote from the Trib story. We'll be keeping our fingers crossed, of course, that today's unprecedented Utah legislative event will be conducted in full public view:
The caucus is expected to be open — as is typically the case in the House — and likely will be crowded with reporters, photographers and spectators, but House Republicans could close the meeting with a majority vote.
Will House GOP caucus attendees have the "guts" to conduct these "politically uncomfortable" proceedings out in the open?  Within a few hours, folks, we'll soon find out.

2) Utah Policy heavyweight editorialist Bob Bernick warns, "Don’t expect any final decision to be made today, as House Speaker Becky Lockhart says she has not decided on any timeline for possible action against Swallow":
The Utah impeachment process is certainly nuanced and complicated, ainnit, folks?

3) And speaking of "timelines," check out this "Holly on the Hill magnum opus," wherein veteran Utah blogger and former GOP state legislator Holly Richardson reels off, in a most impressively footnoted blog post, "[Swallow's] decade-long pattern of questionable, unethical behavior which has led to a complete rupture in the public trust":
This latter one is a real doozy, folks, something which WCF political wonks might want to bookmark as this matter progresses.

And stay tuned, Weber County Forum readers, as we expect to do real-time article updates, as news of today's once-in-a-lifetime "impeachment caucus" breaks throughout the day.

Oh. And one more thing...

Update 6/19/13 12:30 pm: Swallow's annoying high-priced lawyers attempt to "flummox" today's GOP Caucus with obtuse and impenetrable "legalese." Added bonus, a timely (real-time) SL-Trib video podcast:
LOL. Pull up your LA-Z-BOYS, pop-up your "Orville Redenbachers," and watch and listen to the real-time Trib video podcast, folks.

Update 6/19/13 4:25 pm.: Breaking news from the Salt Lake Tribune, for those amongst us who did not already view the above-embedded "real-time" Trib video podcast:
The floor's open for your comments, O Gentle Ones...

Standard-Examiner: Watchdog Groups Vow to Keep Pressure on Ogden School District

A Weber County Forum Tip 'O The Hat to the fine folks of Focus Ogden and the Democratic Education Caucus of Weber County, inasmuch as we Ogden City lumpencitizens have been far too complacent for far too long

Notable development concerning the Ogden School District topic, with this morning's Nancy Van Valkenburg story reporting that "two local groups that sprung up in reaction to controversial decisions by the Ogden School District are pledging to make their voices heard, on both the district and state levels":
For our readers convenience, here are the web links for these community-minded groups, for those who'd like to "stay in the loop":
Within this morning's story, Ms Van Valkenburg also mentions "a June 12 letter to the Ogden board, seeking information." Inasmuch as we believe the information requests contained in this letter may have important significance as these two groups move forward, we've uploaded and linked it for future reference:
Notably, among other things, this letter obliquely refers to certain School Board "fiduciary competency" questions which we've previously raised here on Weber County County Forum, so far without much real public consternation:
A Weber County Forum Tip 'O The Hat to the fine folks of Focus Ogden and the Democratic Education Caucus of Weber County for perking up their ears, fine-tuning the issues and vowing to keep our "esteemed" Ogden School Board's feet to the fire, inasmuch as, in our belief at least, we Ogden City lumpencitizens have been far too complacent for far too long.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

John Swallow Political Corruption Update: Episode XXVI - Updated

It's a regular John Swallow Utah press free-for-all this morning, we do swear

Utah press free-for-all
Trudging ever-forward with our dogged coverage of the raging John Swallow political corruption topic, we present an array of new material gleaned this morning from KSL News, the Salt Lake Tribune, UtahPolicy.Com, Utah Political Capitol and Utah bloggers Daniel Burton, Bryan Schott, and Holly Richardson, as tomorrow's top-secret, closed GOP Utah legislative "impeachment" caucus fast approaches. Looks like dang near everyone in the Utah webosphere is getting into the act. It's a regular John Swallow press free-for-all this morning we do swear.
1) A newly-released "Utah Data Points"-conducted poll finds an overwhelming number of Utah voters want Attorney General John Swallow to resign or be impeached:
Interestingly, Utah Political Capitol's Eric Etherington also reports on what appear to be the same polling results with a slightly different twist, i.e., attributing the above-described polling not to Utah Data Points, but to BYU’s Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy:
"BYU Polling? Seems that is a poll result linked with a not so subtle hint from the messenger," said one sage Gentle WCF Reader in a private conversation.

2) House Speaker Becky Lockhart says we may be heading toward a point where impeaching Swallow is inevitable:
The above-linked story includes this informative video:

3) Utah blogger Daniel Burton argues Swallow should return any campaign donations that appear to create a conflict of interest:
Kinda like "closing the barn door after the livestock has already escaped," don'tcha think?
    4) Holly Richardson follows up on our own 6/15/13 WCF writeup and discusses Utah’s standard for impeachment,  what  the "magic words" "high crimes and misdemeanors" actually means, and pretty much makes mincemeat of  the hollow contention of Swallow's lawyers that grounds for Utah impeachment proceedings should be limited to convicted criminal acts:
    Who "the heck" cares anyway???
    5) UPC blogger Bryan Schott delves into the question "What's up with Gayle Ruzicka and her Eagle Forum?"
    Additional sodden question: "Who the hell cares what Gayle Ruzicka "thinks" in the first place?"

    (And yes, gentle readers.. We do know all about Ruzicka's "Ultra-Right-Wing "Phone Tree 'O Terror".)

    That's it for now folks!

    Update 6/18/13 10:23 a.m.:  Interesting and informative blog commentary concerning Eagle Forum's involvement in the John Swallow impeachment debate:
    Don't let the cat get your tongues, folks! 

      Monday, June 17, 2013

      John Swallow Political Corruption Update: Episode XXV

      It's been a real weekend feeding frenzy, to say the very least

      Feeding Frenzy
      To kick off the Monday morning discussion we'll refer to a further flurry of John Swallow Scandal stories which popped up over the weekend.  It's been a real feeding frenzy, to say the very least. And suffice it to say that Utah Attorney General John Swallow probably did not spend a leisurely and care-free Father's Day relaxing at home yesterday:

      1) Both the Tribune and Deseret News report that convicted felon Mark Sessions Jenson says he was the victim of a “shakedown” by Swallow and his predecessor Mark Shurtleff, a claim that's reportedly corroborated by two of Jenson’s former employees:
      2) A review of campaign filings shows Swallow took more than $100,000 from donors who had run afoul of state or federal regulators.  Read up, folks, this Tom Harvey SL-Trib piece is quite well-researched and thorough:
      3) House Speaker Becky Lockhart "says" she wants a “robust discussion” on Wednesday when House Republicans meet (privately in "closed" causus) to consider taking action against Swallow:
      Rep. Brian King however wants Democrats and the general public to be included in Wednesday's discussion about what to do with Swallow... while (surprise of surprises) the Utah Eagle Forum rallies to Swallow’s defense:
      4) Utah Policy.Com's Bryan Schott opines that "It looks like Swallow plans to lay the blame on [who else?] the media for the growing impeachment talk":
      5) "Our scandal-laden Attorney General has been accused of just about every type of corruption under the sun, from bribing others and taking bribes, to shaking down those he was prosecuting, to filing false campaign disclosures, to abuse while in office. But while everyone is talking about the various allegations, we’re not hearing much about the worst thing John Swallow has done. And this one isn’t a [mere] allegation—it’s fact," says Utah Political Capitol, in its tantalizing lead paragraph prefacing Sunday's blockbuster editorial:
      A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to Utah and Utah Political Capitol for slaving away over the weekend and providing material contributions to this morning's WCF post-weekend John Swallow News Roundup.

      That's it for now, O Gentle Ones, although we're getting a strong psychic vibe that there are certainly more interesting news stories soon to come [wink-wink].

      Saturday, June 15, 2013

      Experts Disagree About Whether Legislature Has Legal Basis to Impeach Attorney General Swallow

      Despite the legal obfuscation, here's hoping our state legislature's up to the task at hand

      We'll highlight this interesting story concerning Utah Attorney General John Swallow's ever-escalating legal troubles this afternoon from newcomer web heavyweight Utah Political Capitol (UPC), reporting that "John Swallow’s attorneys have sent a letter to the Utah Legislature, claiming that they do not have the authority under the law to impeach him":
      Here's the relevant text:
      The letter, dated June 5, 2013, points to the Utah code outlining that grounds for impeachment include “high crimes, misdemeanors, or malfeasance in office,” and says that those words directly mean convicted criminal acts.
      And here's the full referenced letter,containing Swallow's legal arguments and code citations, such as they are:
      So here's the "setup" of this important issue, wherein House Speaker Becky Lochart contends that impeachment proceedings are not limited to convicted criminal acts, Swallow's high-priced lawyers argue just the opposite.

      Digging in a little bit deeper, we'll also note that the above UPC article also refers to this June 1, 2013 UPC story, reporting that "Speaker Becky Lockhart has... sent out a mass email to legislators with instructions on how to impeach John Swallow," containing these useful links. The following attachments were reportedly sent with Speaker Lockhart’s above-linked email to legislators, according to the last-linked UPC story.
      “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” memo from Legislative Counsel.
      “Federalist No. 65″ on impeachment, as written by Alexander Hamilton.
      Congressional Research Service – Impeachment Overview.
      Congressional Research Service – Various discussions on impeachment.
      Comparison of impeachment language between the US and Utah constitutions.
      Click to enlarge image
      So, the UPC article sets the stage for the upcoming legislative proceedings:
      Most legislators and lawyers, to this point, have said that high crimes, misdemeanors and malfeasance in office are not necessarily limited to crimes, but may also include abuses of office, corruption, or unethical behavior which leaves the office unable to complete its duties.

      But according to Swallow and his attorneys, impeaching him for unethical behavior is illegal. “[t]he belief than an officeholder is no longer effective, or even proof than an officeholder is no longer effective, is not grounds for impeachment. Removal for such a reason not only violates Utah law, but presents a dangerous precedent that undermines the fundamental principle that the decision of the voters is paramount.”
      Here's one more most-excellent web source for your consumption, O Gentle Ones, which demonstrates just how "fuzzy" the rules really are concerning "high crimes and misdemeanor-based" impeachments":
      As one above-cited "governmental legal authority" who knows the score said within the last-linked article, however,"impeachable offenses are whatever Congress [i.e. the state Legislature in this instance] says they are."

      So once again we'll repeat what we said in our last discussion of the John Swallow impeachment topic:
      Sadly, it looks like the State legislature's going to be forced to drag him (Swallow) out of office "kicking and screaming," more or less. Here's hoping our state legislature's up to the task.
      So what say you, O Gentle Ones?

      Friday, June 14, 2013

      Survey: Utah’s Economy Strong Compared to Other States'

      But relatively sound financial management ain't the same as good leadership, says renowned business and economic analyst 

      In the aftermath of yesterday's Weber County Forum writeup, putting the focus on a recent Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) study "which rates Utah dead-last in the nation when it comes to economic security for families," we'll direct our readers' attention to this morning's Standard-Examiner guest editorial "puff piece," touting "Utah’s economy [which] continues to project a more stable picture economically than most of the nation’s 50 states":
      This morning's Antone Clark piece is of course the latest edition in a seemingly never ending flow of local media "hype," which constantly and serially trumpets the shop-worn "strong Utah economy" meme, and by implication, of course, the "wisdom" of the state’s (elected) fiscal managers.

      At risk of playing the part of the naysayer however, here are a couple of recent Deseret News items which will hopefully bring some of Utah's frenzied economic cheerleader/politicians "back down to earth." Relatively sound financial management ain't the same as good leadership, says Salt Lake Chamber chief economist and U. of U. David Eccles School of Business Associate Dean Natalie Gochnour:
      Nope; Dean Gochnour is correct, wethinks. “Utah is not the best-managed state; it is among the best-managed states.” "While Utah has performed well economically over the years compared with other states, there is still work to do." "If we are not careful [the "best-managed" claim] gets confused with leadership, creates complacency and stands in the way of needed improvements." "Utah's [broken] education system is the perfect example," Gochnour says, quite rightly, we believe.

      So what about it O Gentle Ones?  Is your blogmeister the only one who grows weary of our local media's incessant barrage of these infernal  "best managed state" puff pieces?

      Are there others out there in Weber County Forum Land looking forward to that day somewhere in the dim future when Utah legislative "leaders" will be boasting about Utah's number 1 public education and health care systems?

      The floor's open for your ever-savvy comments, O Gentle Readers.

      Thursday, June 13, 2013

      Standard-Examiner: Will Massive Data Center Make Utah Spy Central?

      Write it down so you don't forget it, folks...  "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear"

      Click to enlarge image
      Amidst all the hullabaloo surrounding last week's National Security Agency (NSA) "leak" matter, wherein "off-the-reservation" 29-year-old NSA "analyst" Edward J. Snowden "spilled the beans" concerning our federal government's ongoing action of indiscriminately vacuuming-up, collecting and "warehousing" the massive electronic data of each and every U.S. citizen, friend or foe, it stands to reason that a discussion of our own locally-situated Utah Data Center would find its way to the news media front burner, and with this morning's Standard-Examiner story, our home-town newspaper provides just that.  It's a chewy AP story, well worthy of a good read, wethinks:
      All-in-all, a well-researched and highly informative story, wethinks.

      Gotta admit that as a University of Utah grad, your blogmeister was fascinated by this interesting story angle (among others) too:
      At the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, educators are creating a certificate program that they hope will produce students ready to work at big data centers such as the Bluffdale facility. The NSA helped reviewed the curriculum, offering suggestions, and plans to offer internships to students, said Valerio Pascucci, director of the Center for Extreme Data, Management, Analysis and Visualization.
      Imagine that. An academic certificate in spyin' on your neighbors.

      There is one important fact element this story did leave out, however.  Although AP reporter Brady Combs does mention "...a spoof website that even includes a phony code name for the facility: "Bumblehive," a play on Utah's nickname of the "Beehive State," our usually fastidious Standard-Examiner editors committed what we believe to be dang near a "cardinal sin" for anyone who publishes stories on the net....  Yep, gentle readers, the S-E editors omitted the spoof website link. 

      No hay problema, O Gentle Ones.  We managed to find it this morning after extensive Googling:
      Pretty hilarious knock-off of the original NSA site, don'tcha think?

      And remember, folks...  "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear." Mebbe you should write that down so you don't forget it.

      Study: Utah Dead Last in the Nation in Economic Security for Families

      The fact that Utah is actually tied with states like Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, who all share D+ ratings will provide at least some consolation to we struggling Utahns, we suppose... at least in the sense that misery loves company, right?

      We'll shine the spotlight this morning on an eye-opening heads-up story from, reporting on a recent Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) study "which rates Utah dead-last in the nation when it comes to economic security for families. The analysis took into account 85 areas including income, job quality, education, public supports and how much families save."

      Here's the full story, from the 24/7 Wall St. website:
      And here's the Utah data and rating in a nutshell, for those who'd just like to cut to the chase:
      1. Utah
      > Economic security grade: D+
      > Median household income: $55,869 (14th highest)
      > Gov’t spending per capita, 2011: $5,922 (20th lowest)
      > Tax collections per capita, FY 2011: $1,958 (13th lowest)
      No state offers its residents fewer benefits than Utah. The state is among the nation’s worst at providing public support programs. A worker going on unemployment insurance in May 2012 was eligible for 60 weeks of benefits, much less than most other states. Worse, just 40% of unemployed workers were even on this program, among the lowest in the nation. Utah was also rated among the nation’s worst states at providing policies that encouraged residents to build their savings and assets. The state is among the worst at providing consumer protections against payday lending. Utah’s limits for TANF, SNAP and Medicaid eligibility were all considered to be stringent by WOW.
      The fact that Utah is technically tied with states like Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama, who all share D+ ratings, will provide at least some consolation to cash-strapped Utahns, we suppose... at least in the sense that misery loves company, right?

      So can we see by a show of hands, folks, how many of you are surprised by these results?

      Wednesday, June 12, 2013

      Fox News 13: Gov. Herbert Says He Would Have Fired Swallow By Now, Swallow Responds - Updated

      Sodden query: Does the Governor's slightly-softened statement nevertheless amount to the "kiss of death?"
      I can tell you from my own viewpoint, I’m increasingly alarmed at the stuff that’s bubbling out. What I consider ethical challenges, ethical violations I can only say if he worked for me before with all this coming up, he wouldn’t be working for me today.
      Utah Governor Gary Herbert - Fox 13 News
      Gov. Herbert says he would have fired Swallow by now
      June 11, 2013

      The plot sickens for poor old beleaguered Utah Attorney General John Swallow, as yet another Utah GOP elected official, Utah Governor Gary Herbert, essentially throws Swallow "under the bus":

      So what do you think, folks? With members of the House Republican caucus meeting on June 19 to consider options against embattled Attorney General John Swallow, including impeachment, does the Governor's strong statement, (which does fall short of an outright demand for resignation,) nevertheless amount to the "kiss of death" for our ethically challenged Utah Attorney General?

      And at risk of short-circuiting any possible WCF reader discussion concerning this topic, we'll go out on a limb and offer our own "take" on this latest development:

      The floor's open O Gentle Ones...

      Update 6/12/13 10:47 p.m.  Gotta hand it to the folks of Fox 13 News.  Hot off the press, here's Swallow's response to the above linked video story:
      Sadly, it looks like the State legislature's going to be forced to drag him out of office "kicking and screaming," more or less.  Here's hoping our state legislature's up to the task.

      Tuesday, June 11, 2013

      Standard-Examiner: Ogden District Finds Funds to Hire 7 Librarians

      We should chalk this up as "progress," we guess

      In the wake of all the anger and angst over the Ogden School Board's axing of all 20 of the Ogden School District’s teacher librarian/media specialists, we find this encouraging story plastered right there at the top of the Standard-Examiner front page this morning:
      Amazing how creative these school district bureaucrats can be when angry local lumpencitizens are raising holy hell and breathing down their necks, innit?

      We should chalk this up as "progress," we guess, although when the next Ogden School Board election rolls around in November of 2014, we shouldn't forget the names of the folks who ushered in this crisis, yes? 

      Monday, June 10, 2013

      Dueling Editorials: Dang Near Everything You Need to Know About The Pending Weber County Library Bonding Measure

      Time to make up your minds, O Gentle Ones, as your mail-in ballots must be postmarked by June 24, and individual voting must be done by June 25

      We'll put the focus this morning on an important issue looming this month, as Weber County lumpencitizens prepare to vote on proposed renovations and expansion of the Weber County Library system.

      In a nutsell, the library bond would enable "changes to the Weber County Library System’s branches, including a larger parking lot for the Huntsville branch and upgrades to Ogden’s historic Main Library. The cost breaks down to $2.63 per month for a $161,000 residence and $4.77 per month on a business property of the same value," according to this June 3, 2013 Standard-Examiner story.

      The Standard plays the role of the naysayer regarding this ballot measure, rejecting bond proponents' "all or nothing" approach, while encouraging future efforts to "pass a bond that would allocate money to repair the main library in Ogden."
      Taking on the role of the "yeasayers" this morning are a couple of well-known local commentators whose scribblings have prominently appeared on the pages of the Standard over the years, namely frequent guest editorialist Bob Sawatzki and long-time "Wasatch Rambler" columnist Charlie Trentelman: 
      The Weber County Library System also offers its own strong "pro bond" sales-pitch via the below-linked Special Bond Election Information page, which additionally provides you dang near everything you need to know about this pending ballot measure, including details about the deadline for submission of your mail-in ballots and instruction on how to individually vote on this measure by machine at 6 designated Weber County polling places:
      Time to make up your minds, O Gentle Ones, as your mail-in ballots must be postmarked by June 24, and in-person machine voting must be done by June 25.

      The floor's now open, WCF readers, to anyone who'd like to throw in your own 2¢ on this issue.

      Saturday, June 08, 2013

      Salt Lake Tribune Editorial: Keep the Matthew Stewart Case Open

      Let the independent investigation begin... the sooner the better
      All along, people who were not involved in the case have looked on and wondered whether a military-style assault on the home of a man credibly suspected of nothing more than raising a few marijuana plants was justified in any way, shape or form. Militarizing minor drug investigations, it would seem, vastly increases the risk to suspects, police and innocent bystanders. The result of the raid on Stewart’s home certainly does nothing to undermine that concern.
      Salt Lake Tribune Editorial
      Keep the case open
      June 6, 2013
      The lives of one police officer and, indirectly, one other human being were lost due to the decision of the powers that be in Weber County to conduct a military-style attack on a small-time weed grower. If there is not a full and expert investigation into the decisions that led to the raid and the conduct of law enforcement officers during the attack, then two men will have died in vain.
      Salt Lake Tribune Editorial
      Keep the case open
      June 6, 2013

      Top notch editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune, urging Weber County law enforcement authorities that "[t]he case of Matthew David Stewart must not be allowed to die with him":
      "Upping" the ante
      We've been closely following Weber County law enforcement's response to the Matthew Stewart case, and we're not favorably impressed... not so far, at least.  As we opined here just last week, "it's apparent (to us) that Weber police agencies have learned absolutely "nuttin" from either the Stewart incident..., and that the local law enforcement response will be to merely "up the ante," and further escalate the potential violence, by, among other things, adopting policies dictating the donning of full combat gear in all confrontational police-citizen encounters, even in the most trivial of circumstances."

      At least one reader on the Trib comments board "gets it":
      Dare I say, a complete and thorough investigation of the entire process by qualified experts completely independent of Weber County law enforcement is long past due. This is bound to happen again if meaningful changes aren't put it place.
      Rather than using the Matthew Stewart incident as an opportunity for a learning experience, our local law enforcement authorities instead take to their bunkers, "up the ante" and cling to the same flawed practices which which resulted in the Stewart tragedy in the first place.

      Howbout applying a little less testosterone-driven "machismo" and a little more rational brainpower, O Weber County police agencies?

      Let the independent investigation begin... the sooner the better, we say.

      2013 Ogden City Municipal Elections Council Candidates List

      All four seats will be contested, and thus nobody will walk onto the Ogden City Council by default

      Following up on yesterday's WCF article, we're happy to provide, via the Ogden City Election webpage, the full list of Ogden City Council hopefuls who've declared their candidacies for the 2013 Ogden City Municipal election races.  To our great delight, all four seats will be contested, and thus nobody will walk onto the Ogden City Council by default:
      As of June 7, 2013 @ 5:00 p.m.
      (All seats are Four-Year Term)

      Municipal Ward 1

      Neil K. Garner
      3184 Madison
      Ogden, UT 84401

      Pamela Shupe Stevens
      987 Patterson
      Ogden, UT 84403

      Municipal Ward 3

      Turner C. Bitton
      960 East 21st Street
      Ogden, UT 84401

      Doug Stephens
      1131 16th Street
      Ogden, UT 84404

      At-Large Seat “A”

      Sheri Morreale
      1352 29th Street
      Ogden, UT 84403

      Stephen D. Thompson
      729 25th Street
      Ogden, UT 84401

      Marcia L. White
      1575 29th Street
      Ogden, UT 84403

      Michelle Williams
      1453 28th Street
      Ogden, UT 84403

      At-Large Seat “B”

      Bart Blair
      4225 College Drive
      Ogden, UT 84403

      Courtney Jon White
      702 Polk Avenue
      Ogden, UT 84404

      Primary Election to be held August 13, 2013
      General Election to be held November 5, 2013
      Keep your eyes on Weber County Forum as the campaign season has now been launched. As per usual, we're militantly resolved to provide the most robust 2013 Municipal Election coverage in the whole danged webosphere.

      Update 7/19/13 9:00 a.m.: For more detailed information on these candidates, check out our 2013 Ogden Municipal election module, which is embedded in our right blog sidebar.

      Friday, June 07, 2013

      Ogden City City City Council Filings Update

      OK, Folks.  One more dunning reminder about Ogden City's 2013 election "Declaration of Candidacy" Ogden City council filing expiry, which happens a short under five four three two hours hence.

      Here's the list of candidates who have declared for city council seats as of 9:45, which info we've gleaned from the Ogden City website:
      Municipal Ward 1
      Neil K. Garner
      3184 Madison
      Ogden, UT 84401

      Municipal Ward 3
      Turner C. Bitton
      960 East 21st Street
      Ogden, UT 84401

      Doug Stephens
      1131 16th Street
      Ogden, UT 84404
      At-Large Seat “A”
      Sheri Morreale
      1352 29th Street
      Ogden, UT 84403

      Stephen D. Thompson
      729 25th Street
      Ogden, UT 84401

      At-Large Seat “B”
      Bart Blair
      4225 College Drive
      Ogden, UT 84403
      Courtney Jon White
      702 Polk Avenue
      Ogden, UT 84404
      Time's running short, people:

      Howbout one or more of our gentle readers steppin' up and declaring within the next four two remaining hours at the last minute for municipal Ward 1, we ask?

      Update 7/19/13 9:00 a.m.: For more detailed information on these candidates, check out our 2013 Ogden Municipal election module, which is embedded in our right blog sidebar.

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