Saturday, August 30, 2014

Weber County Forum Saturday Morning Backburner Cleanup

We'll rely upon our WCF readership this morning to wax on about the meaning of all this

Due to the dismal dearth of nutritious local red meat political news popping up on the web this morning, we've dredged up a couple of interesting items from the Weber County Forum back burner, both of which are worthy of our readers' attention, wethink:

1) The Salt Lake Tribune reported on Tuesday that "[t]he board of the Sutherland Institute, the state’s most prominent conservative 'think tank,' has asked its longtime president, Paul Mero, to resign after long-simmering disputes apparently reached a head":
"Stanford Swim, chairman of the board of the Sutherland Institute, will serve as acting CEO until a new president is chosen."

Mero's apparent defect:  Not quite wacky enough to suit the "extremists" of  the Sutherland Institute?

2) Following up on our 7/28/14 story, wherein we reported that Rocky Mountain Power was in the process of sticking thrifty Utah solar panel users with a $5/month "sun tax," we were delighted to learn yesterday from the Trib that  this lame-brained proposal has been at least temporarily deep-sixed.

"Utahns with rooftop solar panels won’t face a new fee from Rocky Mountain Power after the Utah Public Service Commission ruled Friday that the utility company failed to prove such a charge is "just and reasonable," the Trib's Matt Canham And Brian Maffly report:
Although "... this contentious debate pitting the state’s largest electric company against environmental groups isn’t going away, [inasmuch as] [t]he Commission is open to revisiting the issue as long as Rocky Mountain Power can provide some hard data proving these customers should be treated differently than others who just use less energy than the average family,[r]enewable energy advocates are [nevertheless] hailing the ruling as a major victory," and quite rightly wethink.

For the moment, at least, we'll also hail it as a victory for good old-fashioned common sense.

Have at it, O Gentle Ones.  We'll rely upon our WCF readership this morning to wax on about the meaning of all this.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Salt Lake Tribune: Audit Blasts UTA, Says It Gave Millions in Sweetheart Deals - Updated

Another reason we need this newspaper in our lives. Every day

Via Holly Mullen:

When clean air efforts and mass transit become a social class issue: Balancing UTA big salaries and profits (and sneakily) on the backs of the poor and working class--who have had bus routes continually cut and fares steadily raised.
Thanks to Lee Davidson, and The Salt Lake Tribune. Another reason we need this newspaper in our lives. Every day.

Update 8/28/14 7:10 a.m.:  Utah official are reeling from yesterday's state audit reporting:
The Trib reports that Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross is letting UTA management have it with both barrels:
[Weiler] tweeted online Wednesday, "I have two questions about the UTA audit: Who’s getting fired and who’s going to jail?"
He said in an interview that was not just a light-hearted tweet. "After all is said and done, we still have $1.7 million in taxpayer funds" not repaid from the questionable $10 million deal, and continued controversy over high pay and bonuses. "I don’t know how you turn a blind eye to that."
"You know, I still can't wrap my head around the fact that nobody ... and I mean NOBODY ... at UTA understands or comprehends the term Conflict of Interest," remarks one Trib reader.

UTA watchdog Chris Stout, of the Utah Transit Riders Union (UTRU) minces no words, and issues a call for strong citizen action:
One of the issues I raised at the meeting -- which was overlooked because of the sensational $10 million paid for a garage never built, $2.9 billion in unfunded maintenance costs, the debt to build the rail system and the decimation of the bus system in order to fund the rail service was the fact that customer satisfaction is essentially non-existent. The performance audit recommended that UTA begin "routine and consistent" customer satisfaction surveys that are taken to the highest level of UTA (the Board of Trustees). Myself or other members of UTRU will be attending these board meetings to personally deliver messages of customer satisfaction -- or in most cases, customer dissatisfaction. I encourage you to visit our website to get on our email list and/or visit and like our Facebook page.  Our next membership meeting will be in September and all are encouraged to attend.
Update 8/29/14 9:00 a.m.:  There's more politica blowback concerning this story, as Governor Herbert thinks UTA has already fixed most of the problems highlighted by a legislative audit raising questions about the organization's business practices; but Senator Todd Weiler will ask the State Attorney General's office to initiate a criminal investigation.
“I’m representing my constituents, and they’re angry and they want heads to roll,” Weiler said.

Don't let the cat get your tongues, O Gentle WCF Readers.

Monday, August 25, 2014

2014 Weber County General Election Candidate Roster

Check our election sidebar module for periodic updates

Greetings, O Weber County Forum Readers. As Labor day approaches on September 1, the drop-dead date for serious 2014 General election campaigning, we're delighted to offer the latest feature to our right sidebar 2014 Election Module at least a week early.  So far we've invested +/-13 hours in googling and coding toward this project.  So we hereby cheerfully invite you to check it out::
This page remains still under construction folks, inasmuch as it still presently lacks the Local School Board and Weber County Elected Officials'  Campaign Finance Disclosure numbers, which we'll fill in around Tuesday, October 28th, when the these first financial reports come due.  As for the Federal Election Commission numbers for the First Congressional District... trust us...they'll be coming up soon.

Click the link above, for the very best (and most complete) 2014 Weber County Candidate roster in the meantime.

If you're a Weber County candidate, or a supporter of a good Weber County political candidate, by the way, we hereby invite you to send your candidate links here:
If you snooze, you lose, BTW.

And yes, Weber County Forum readers, we've also planted this phenomenal web feature in our right sidebar 2014 Election Module, of course.  You know... for future reference.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Funnies: Weber County's Form of Government at Issue - Updated

Time to lift up the bonnet, and look under the hood?

Interesting story in this morning's Standard-Examiner. Here's Cathy McKitrick's  tantalizing lede:
OGDEN — Has Weber County outgrown its three-member commission form of government?
That question will be explored in a Sept. 3 forum hosted by the Weber County League of Women Voters and Weber State University’s Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service.
Read Ms. McKitrick's full story, peeps, wherein she does a aboslutely marvellous job of rounding up and sharing many of the predictably contradictory and sundry viewpoints:
Here are the Time/Space coordinates, folks:
Public Forum: A Study of Weber County Government
When: Wed, September 3, 7pm – 8pm
Where: Shepherd Union Building, Ballroom A (map)
Description: Should we change the form of Weber County Government? Co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters.
During recent months it's become painfully apparent to many of us that our antiquated three-member commission form of government has been plagued with more than a mite of serious dysfunction.

We hope you'll all mark your calenders and be in attendance at the September 3 public forum, folks, as the best political minds in Weber County gather up, roll up their sleeves and take a gander under the Weber County Commission political "hood.".

A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat goes out to yeoman reporter Cathy McKitrick for the early heads-up.

Update 9/4/14 10:00 p.m.:  The Standard's Cathy McKitrick provides the post-event story:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Standard-Examiner: Our View: Utah, Get Medicaid Expansion!

This folks, is an editorial board firing on all cylinders
Utah is losing out on the benefits of Medicaid expansion. Our state leaders are denying tens of thousands of our residents the opportunity to have affordable health care.
It’s time for Utah to get on board with Medicaid expansion. While we have no objection to Governor Gary Herbert’s efforts to receive expansion via an alternative Medicaid expansion plan, if details can’t be worked out with the feds soon, Utah should just accept the expansion as defined by the Affordable Care Act.
Standard-Examiner Editorial
Our View: Utah, get Medicaid expansion!
August 19, 2014

In all, the 24 states that have rejected -- so far -- Medicaid expansion will lose $423.6 billion in federal funds through 2022, according to the Urban Institute. That’s not a smart move, and Utah should not be in such undistinguished company.
Standard-Examiner Editorial
Our View: Utah, get Medicaid expansion!
August 19, 2014

Humdinger of an editorial in this morning'a Standard-Examiner hard-copy edition. The SE editorial board gets it exactly right, in our never humble opinion:
"To reject funds that were intended to make the Affordable Care Act a means for millions to finally have health insurance is deeply insulting to those persons denied health care because of the stubborn foolishness of 24 states, including Utah. Get Medicaid expansion, Utah, sooner rather than later" the SE adds.

This folks, is an editorial board firing on all cylinders.

So what say our Gentle Readers about all this?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Salt Lake Tribune: UTA Pay High? Real Numbers Are Higher Yet

Utah: the best managed state?

Hold onto your hats, folks. IT'S OFFICIAL! Thanks to the re-juggling of Utah Transit Authority reported data, we learn from the Salt Lake Tribune that the heads of the UTA are now making DOUBLE the salary of the heads of both New York's and Boston's public transportation systems. And that's merely the tip of the iceberg.

Read the "good" news here:
Sodden Queries:
A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to Utah political watchdog eric Etherington for the mind-bending heads-up.

Comments anyone?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Standard-Examiner: Ogden Council Approves (Loosened) Food Truck Restrictions

Yep, folks, the Council has adopted a cautious "wait and see" approach -- They'll be hunkering down to find out whether any aggrieved Food Truck vendor eventually files a lawsuit.

The Standard-Examiner reported Thursday on an interesting development on the Ogden City Council regulatory front.  Here's the lede:
OGDEN — The Ogden City Council will take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to deciding whether to loosen restrictions on the newly allowed mobile food trucks in downtown Ogden.
On Tuesday, the council voted to approve an ordinance that allows mobile food trucks to operate in commercial areas throughout Ogden, and most notably, the Central Business District, which is considered the area between 20th and 27th streets between Adams Avenue and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.
Prior to the ordinance being passed, food trucks were allowed only in manufacturing zones.
Here's the full Mitch Shaw story:
And here's the agenda item from Tuesday's Special City Council Meeting calender:
6. Reports from the Planning Commission:
b. Mobile Food Trucks. Proposed Ordinance 2014-34 amending Section 15-2 of the Ogden City Code to define and provide uniform standards for mobile food trucks, and to allow mobile food trucks to operate in certain zones. (Accept public input; adopt/not adopt ordinance)
We've also linked the full council packet, for those who require the full nitty-gritty (scroll to page 32):
Mr. Shaw refers to the Council's Tuesday action as one characterized as a "wait-and-see approach," which is probably entirely accurate, in view of a line of recent federal court decisions which seem to lean toward a fast-developing rule of  federal constitutional law providing that "the economic protection of a discrete interest group [existing 'brick and mortar' restauraunts in this instance] does not constitute a legitimate state interest under 'rational basis' [federal constitutional] review":
As an added bonus, we'll link a couple of robust Institute for Justice informational pamphlets, providing a broad overview and guidance, concerning the direction which U.S. Food Truck and Street Vendor Regulation seems to be moving, within the current multi-jurisdictional American landscape:
Yep, folks, the Council has adopted a cautious "wait and see" approach, alright.  They'll no doubt  be hunkering down to find out whether any aggrieved Food Truck vendor eventually files a lawsuit, we suspect.

We'll also point out that our sympathies lie with our existing "brick and mortar" Ogden restaurateur entrepreneurs, who are the real investors in our community.

So what say out Gentle Readers about all this?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Utah Legislative Update: Will Sen. John Valentine's "Batty Brainchild," the Notorious Zion's Curtain, Be an Early Casualty of the 2015 Utah Legislature?

So what about it, Gentle Readers? Will it soon be "curtains" for Utah's hilarious and embarrassing "Zion's Curtain"?

As a followup to Friday's WCF story, reporting on Senator John Valentine's announced retirement from the state legislature, we asked the compound questions:
So what do you think, folks? Will Valentine's "batty brainchild," the notorious Zion's Curtain, be an early casualty of the 2015 Utah Legislature? Or does the 800 lb Gorilla already have another legislative lackey lined up to fill Valentine's shoes?
Seems we're not the only online source asking these questions.  Here's yesterday's strong Standard-Examiner editorial, wherein the editorial board recognises the opportunity, and urges the state legislature to seize the moment:
Our hope is that with Valentine’s leaving, the Zion curtain will be opened and Utah’s liquor laws will be appropriately liberalized. It makes no sense to target law-abiding persons who wish to enjoy a drink in Utah with overly moralistic restrictions that make them appear to be unsavory folks. We urge legislators to tear down the curtain and make liquor laws here reflect the rest of the nation.
Read up, folks:
And here's a little something from the Deseret News, wherein DNews reporter Dennis Romboy presents a fairly decent thumbnail overview of the possibilities in a 2015 post-John Valentine Utah legislature:
According to the above DNews story, Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City offers a proposal which appears promising, we think, something which ought to appease competing legislative interests:
[Powell] intends to re-introduce a bill in 2015 that gives restaurants the option to keep the partition or post a sign that reads: "This establishment dispenses and serves alcoholic products in public view."
So what about it, Gentle Readers?

Will it soon be "curtains" for Utah's hilarious and embarrassing "Zion's Curtain"?

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Salt Lake Tribune: Host of Swallow Fundraiser Jailed, Awaits Possible Federal Charges

"They're gonna have to build extra cells onto the not yet built new prison by the time all this is done."

There's more "collateral damage" surrounding the John Swallow scandal, according to this morning's Robert Gehrke story, as federal authorities widen the prosecutorial net:
A businessman with a checkered past and ties to former Attorney General John Swallow is in custody in the Salt Lake County Jail along with his two brothers, awaiting transfer to U.S. marshals, potentially to face unknown federal charges.
Robert Montgomery, owner of Emmediate Credit Solutions, was arrested Friday morning, along with brothers Michael Chase Montgomery and J.D. Montgomery.
Jail records do not reflect what charges the Montgomery brothers face. Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Utah, said she could not provide any information about the case. A message left with the U.S. Marshals Service was not returned Friday [...]
In April 2012, Montgomery and then-Attorney General Mark Shurtleff co-hosted a fundraiser for Swallow, Shurtleff’s chief deputy who was running for attorney general, at Mimi’s Cafe in Murray. Attendees included a number of members of the online-business opportunities, or BizOps, industry.
Read up, folks:
As one Trib reader wryly comments, "They're gonna have to build extra cells onto the not yet built new prison by the time all this is done."

Comments, anyone?

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Salt Lake Tribune: Utah’s ‘Mr. Liquor’ Leaving Legislature to Head Tax Commission -Updated

Sodden Question: Does the 800 lb Gorilla already have another legislative lackey lined up to fill Valentine's shoes?

Tantalizing story in this morning's Salt Lake Trib, which we'll file under our ongoing topic heading, Utah Liquor Law. Here's the lede, folks:
Sen. John Valentine, a fixture in the Utah Legislature since 1988 and the major force behind Utah’s liquor laws for the past decade, will leave the Senate to head the Utah Tax Commission.
The Utah County tax attorney, who is the second-longest-serving active lawmaker and was president of the Senate for four years, technically still must be confirmed by the Senate, but approval by his colleagues is almost certain.
We'll link the full story, for those who'd like to read up:
Does Mr. Valentine's legislative departure signal an opportunity for "normalization" of Utah liquor policy? Mr. Valentine himself hints that changes may be potentially on the table:
"I’m sure there will be a lot of people celebrating that Mr. Liquor is leaving the Legislature," Valentine joked. "I’ll still be interested as a citizen to see what we do, because I think those policy balances are really important. I think the balance between the hospitality we show people who want to drink alcohol versus the social cost, I think we have to keep that balance."
This is of course a development is one which we'll be watching like a hawk.

So what do you think, folks?  Will Valentine's "batty brainchild,"  the notorious Zion's Curtain, be an early casualty of the 2015 Utah Legislature? Or does the 800 lb Gorilla already have another legislative lackey lined up to fill Valentine's shoes?

Update 8/5/14 9:00 a.m.:  Utah Political Hub provides a fairly decent list of those political hopefuls who are already jockeying to fill Sen. John Valentine's soon-to-be-vacated Utah Senate slot:

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