Saturday, November 25, 2006

Romney's failure as governor

The Washington Post's Sunday paper reviews Romney's 4-year stint as governor of Massachusetts and generously calls it a "mixed" record. It reality, it was an utter failure. As a legislative aide from 2003-04 in the Massachusetts State House, I speak from experience.

Here are a list of his duds:
  • raising taxes-- by "closing what he called 'loopholes' in the corporate tax code...along with higher local property taxes..." and hiked fees for essential state services.

  • "Romney failed to develop the warm personal relationships with Democratic leaders that Weld had enjoyed with some of their predecessors. The Democrats had no compunction about rejecting Romney's initiatives, including his push to reduce the state's top income tax rate." He had no clout on Beacon Hill, the Democratic legislature overrode daily and did whatever they wanted.

  • "Romney mounted a major his midterm election in 2004. He campaigned and financed races in dozens of districts, spending $3 million, and when the returns came in, Republicans had two fewer seats than before." And don't forget his handpicked successor was creamed by Deval Patrick who campaigned against the Romney legacy

  • "left the state politically polarized" on key issues of Abortion, Death Penalty, Gay Marriage, Stem Cell Research, etc. He governed like he was governor of a Southern Red State rather that a Northeastern Blue State.

  • "His plan for health care...was tweaked and substantially expanded by the legislature, and in the final analysis, the negotiations that led to success were managed more by the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate than by the governor."

He never would have been famous to those the-Church-should-be-the-State GOPers had he not been governor when the SJC ruled on Goodridge so he could be against it. He was a loser from day one in office. The whole governorship was a big PR spin, like his "cleanup" of SLC's Olympics. Everyone but him worked their butt off to make it a great games. And he takes all the credit?

I dream of Romney being the Presidential nominee. Too bad it won't happen. He will get crushed in the SBC belt.

much to do about nothing

Another story about Utah's "congressionally mandated" reredistricting, another slow news day burial.

According to the Tribune"The day after the hearings, the committee expects to select a final map to be debated by the full Legislature during a special session Dec. 1."

Now the G proposal will be presented to the public after all, because get this, Utah Democrats think that the public should have input on the map process. What a riot. Utah Democrats also think claims that rural-urban mixed districts are better should be vetted by Utahns; crazy huh?

Meanwhile, Matheson is calling for an independant commission to draft these maps rather than a hyper-partisan legislature. Enid replies with a not so veiled threat: "Jim Matheson's never going to get a better district than he is going to get under these circumstances," said the acting Utah GOP party chairwoman.

Sources close to Matheson tell this blogger that Jim, like Sen. Bennett, doubt that the Davis bill will pass before the lame duck expires. So I may have been front-paged on MyDD for nothing. Oh well, them's the brakes.

I hope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving weekend. And come home safe.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

plan G from outer space

As expected, the committee assigned with the task of drawing a 4-seat map released those maps when they were sure no one was looking--the day before Thanksgiving.

(Graphic credit: Salt Lake Tribune for more detail, click on this PDF by the paper)

All four plans share common elements. Sandy, parts of West Jordan, and most of Southern Salt Lake County not be part of the new 2nd district. Proposals I and J include Park City into the 2nd district. Davis and Weber Counties remain the "heart" of the redrawn 1st, although Proposal A gives the new 2nd district a tiny piece of Bountiful. All but Proposal G place Southern Salt Lake County in the new 4th District, and even then G places half in the new 4th and half in the new 3rd.

So which map would be the best for Democrats? Proposals A and G would allow Jim Matheson to run in the new 4th district and allow a Peter Carroon-type Democrat to run in the new 2nd district. Proposals I and J would be more difficult for Jim to run in their 4ths because of the inclusion of Washington County (St. George). Similarly, Jim would have a tough time running in their new 3rds because the parts of Salt Lake County, along with Carbon and San Juan (Moab) Counties would some how have to overcome Utah County (Provo). Thus, if I or J are adopted, I would expect Jim to stay in the 2nd district. But if A or G passed, I would press Jim to run in the new 4th and find a suitable Democratic candidate for the new 2nd.

Here are the redistricting hearing times and locations. If you live nearby, please attend. (Graphic credit: Deseret News)

So what are the chances of each proposal? The Deseret News gives us the scoop:
Senate Republicans, however, have insisted that the 2001 proposal known as "Plan A" continue to be considered. The committee's other two proposals, "Plan I" and "Plan J," were put together behind closed doors during a break in Tuesday's meeting.
The committee rejected a proposal by the minority Democrats, "Plan G," that would have created two largely urban districts from most of Salt Lake and Utah counties and two largely rural districts from the rest of the state.
"This really is a snapshot of what the state is," said Senate Minority Whip Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake. But Republicans disagreed, arguing that the state is better served when all members of Congress represent rural constituents.

Rep. Jackie Biskupski, D-Salt Lake City, stormed out of a meeting after G lost according to the Salt Lake Tribune "They always say they want input from the Democrats. Why have Democrats on the committee if you are going to ignore what we have to say?" "The governor said this was going to be a fair and nonpartisan process or he would use his veto," Biskupski said. ''He can't pretend this was nonpartisan.''

"If you are going to take three plans on the road for public hearings that are the same and not include the option from the minority party, it's obviously a partisan process," Biskupski said. Newsflash! Redistricting is a partisan political process, News at 10. Even though no political affiliation data was inputed into the mapping program, everyone on that committee knows where Democrats do well, where Jim's base of support is, and where Republicans do well. Let's not kid ourselves with this "non-partisan process" crap.

The interesting thing will be if Biskupski is correct and Huntsman indeed vetoes ones of these other plans for being overtly partisan.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Utah Republicans carve up map like Turkey

Sorry for the lack of posting yesterday. I have been writing a paper for a class and my topic is the Allen-Webb senate race. Boy, did Allen have some great quotes. "For folks to think I would know what sorts of genus of monkeys are in eastern Asia ascribe a lot more intelligence to me than I actually have."--August 17. Now to the Turkey meat, thanks to the Salt Lake Tribune:
"With such a large population concentrated in Salt Lake County, it is very difficult to do it in two parts," [State Rep. Dave]Clark said. "Every possible division into four districts will be considered."

That is the biggest hint I can think of that the legislature doesn't like Huntsman's proposed map. And here was Huntsman's retort:
"We are allowing the Legislature to do its work," said Huntsman spokesman Mike Mower. "But the governor will have the final say. Our goal is to make sure it is fair."

The Deseret News provides a helpful graphic showing when open hearings will be held for this ultra-important process involving democracy

That's right, when no one will be able to attend. I am sure this is the bare minimum required under open meetings laws. So if they do make a map that both a GOP legislature and a GOP governor like, what happens next? The Deseret News explains:
"It would be a clean slate," said Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, the co-chairman of a special legislative redistricting committee. "We'd have to elect four new congressional representatives."
Just how that election would be structured, though, remains to be seen. Bramble, the incoming Senate majority leader, said lawmakers would likely wait until the 2007 Legislature meets in January to figure out the special election process.
But Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, said he wanted to see candidates go through the regular nominating process at political party conventions. Committee members were told, however, that Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. could speed up that process.

Meanwhile, leaders in both parties are pouring over 6 year old census data (which the state argued was inaccurate to begin with to the Supreme Court) to draw up their own fantasy maps. With a special election next year, Salt Lake City will have a "non-partisan" mayoral race and two to three Congresscritters to vote on. It seems like it won't be such an "off year" after all.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

more like this please

The the Salt Lake Tribune has a fantastic headline, and I want to reward good behavior: "Reid proof that good Mormons can also be Democrats"

Many folks think Democrat and Mormons don't belong in the same sentence, except with "hate" or "aren't" in between. Well, Majority Leader Harry Reid seeks to change all that, but first he has to overcome the culture of the church members themselves.
Despite the fact that Reid held weekly Family Home Evenings and sent three sons on two-year missions for the church, and all five of his children were married in LDS temples, some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints question his faith because of his politics.

What more can the guy do? He is pro-life, but votes for against anti-choice judges out of party loyalty. He drinks neither alcohol, coffee, tea, or soda. The Democratic Party has lots of religious diversity and religiosity.
Same for Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who noted that Reid is a Mormon, Majority Whip-elect Richard Durbin is a Catholic and Charles Schumer, head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, is Jewish.

Abortion and gay rights are the big two 'values' issues that tend to keep Latter-Day Saints opposed to the Democratic Party. But the party is home to many pro-lifers, like Senator-Elect Bob Casey, and many pro-traditional marriage members too, like Tennessee's U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis. True, these folks are in the minority in the party and that the presidential candidates must be pro-choice and pro-gay rights to be the nominee, but it doesn't mean these folks can't be proud Democrats in the State House, the Governor's Mansions, the House and the Senate. The reverse can't be said for Republicans who are much more homogenized.

What unites Democrats is caring for people: raising the minimum wage, supporting the right to organize labor, improving health care, reducing taxes on the poor and middle class, caring for the elderly, equal rights for racial/ethnic minorities, and so on.

What unites Republicans is lower taxes. It used to be smaller government, but then congressional Bush Republicans decided to pork their way into "permanent power." I guess it is still smaller government social programs, but it also includes eliminating premarital sex, no gay sex, no gay marriage, no division between church and state, and no social welfare for the poor, the elderly, the young.

Since there are 3 Casey's for every one Rudy G's, and Democrats love to squabble between themselves, I say welcome to my LDS brethern who are tired of giving their social services away to tax cuts for the rich, who are tired of politicians professing their 'faith' in order to humor you for votes but never deliver, who talk about gay marriage and abortion all day long, but never address the root cause of abortion (poverty, lack of sex education, lack of contraception, rape, incest, abuse, misfortune).