Friday, June 01, 2007

Becker announces his fundraising numbers

According to a press release I just got, Ralph Becker (D-lower Aves) has raised "over $180,000, including more than $105,000 during the second reporting period,...over 50 percent of this cycle's campaign contributions came in May." The mayoral candidate's Coordinator for Fundraising Matt Lyon, claims "Our campaign currently has over $100,000 on hand."

Here's how the picture looked in February, courtesy of the Deseret News:

If someone could give me Wilson's or Buhler's or Christiansen's numbers, I would appreciate it. I don't care about the other folks numbers.

That should buy Ralph a few more nice lawn signs.

1101th post

I am beginning to think that the 2008 presidential race will turn out quite differently than I previously imagined.

On the Republican side, it seems that Giuliani may actually win it. Wingnuts are conspiring to try to take down the authoritarian, twice adulterous, cross-dressing ex-mayor of New York City. But they will fail in all likelihood. Romney has a lead now in Iowa, but his money may run out before people vote (like Howard Dean in 2003). Plus, I just don't think Southerners will hold their noses and vote for him, unlike Giuliani due his perceived bravery and toughness on terrorism/-ists. McCain is imploding, with Fred Thompson to essentially take his place in the horse race.

On the Democratic side, Obama is in a funk. The spark that was 2006 and the first quarter surprises in funding and crowds is slipping away with each over-consulted cautious move and speech. To make up the ground he has lost and to narrow the gap in key states (let alone to win) Obama needs to get back to what got him here: not listening to those Washington consultants. He wrote his own DNC keynote speech, and even though they tweaked it, it purposely did a 180 from his Democratic consultant based radio address that put people to sleep. He needs to unchain himself from consultants and put caution to the wind. Clinton is putting a sleeper hold on the rest of the nominees. John Edwards is flailing about, trying to pander to every Democratic group on everything. But I distrust him and doubt he will go much further than he did in 2004. Richardson's belly flop on Meet the Republicans was horrific. How can you be a Yankee fan and a Red Sox fan? I can respect Yankee players while still hating them and their team (I am a Red Sox fan). I hope Faux News does have its debate with Senator windbag, Representative whinny dwarf, and ex-Senator crazy Grandpa. It will really make Faux News the laughing stock that it is. Oh and Gore isn't going to run...or endorse.

UPDATE: insiders agree with me.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

connect the dots


Deseret News May 31, 2007:, a California-based nonpartisan group that says it seeks to illuminate connections between money and politics, looked at donations from payday lenders nationwide. But it focused on seven states where it said the percentage of overall donations that came from payday lenders was higher than elsewhere: Utah, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
"We found that during the last eight years, as total industry campaign contributions in these states increased, state laws allowed the industry to continue operating without significant restrictions," it said in a new study.
It said payday lenders gave $76,200 to state-level candidates in Utah between the 1996 and 2006 elections. ...a higher percentage than was given in most states.
...about a dozen bills were proposed but failed in the Utah Legislature in that time either to cap the high interest rates the industry charges or to more tightly regulate it.
(The study numbers may indeed have problems — but payday lenders may have actually given more than it said. The Deseret Morning News in a quick, noncomprehensive look at databases Tuesday, identified at least $95,000 that such lenders gave in Utah in the period. About 20 percent came of that from out of state. But the study identified only about $76,000, and said 85 percent of it came from out of state.)
The Morning News found in 2005 that Utah has more payday loan stores than 7-Elevens, McDonald's, Burger Kings and Subway stores — combined.

Deseret News May 27, 2007:
a Deseret Morning News review of all bills introduced in the 2007 Legislature shows, is that a fourth of the session's legislation came with clear or possible conflicts of interest involving the measures' sponsors.
Insurance agents sponsored bills on insurance regulation. Police officers carried bills on criminal penalties. Contractors sponsored bills on construction. Teachers carried bills on education.
The percentage of lawmakers' conflicts of interest may actually be even higher than 25 percent because some lawmakers reveal little of their real conflicts in their personal disclosure forms, using only broad or vague wording.
And Utah lawmakers can't escape their conflicts of interest when it comes to voting on bills. Unlike members of Congress or other state legislatures, Utah's legislators, due to internal rules, must vote on a bill even though they may have a clear conflict of interest.
Kirk Jowers, head of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics, says there is great value in having a part-time, citizen legislature.
But, he adds, there is a hidden conflict of interest on legislation that few people talk about: Legislators' legal ability to take cash out of their own campaign accounts and spend it any way they wish.
"It is almost legalized bribery," said Jowers, "if a lobbyist or special interest group gave money to a legislator's campaign account" in hopes of getting special treatment. "If they gave you $10,000 or $20,000, that is the ultimate conflict of interest."
At the very least, legislators should pass a law that says they can't use campaign cash for personal use, Jowers said.

Deseret News May 31, 2007:
It is "disingenuous" for Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to call a special session on vouchers before the Nov. 6 public vote, says House Speaker Greg Curtis, who vows to "vigorously" fight against repealing HB174 if such a session is called.

KSL April 12, 2007:
In the House there was a similar show of loyalty to the side that gave the money -- 96 percent who got money from the pro-voucher group voted for and 78 percent who got money from the other side voted against.
Pro-public school money generally went to Democrats. Pro-voucher donations generally went to Republicans, including GOP House Speaker Greg Curtis, who by many accounts used his considerable clout to pressure some members to vote Yes.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I am happy despite being a Democrat

(Photo Credit: © 2004 NASA)

Recently there was an article that did a study showing that GOPers are happier than Democrats (from Teagan Goddard's Political Wire)
A new Pew Research poll finds that Republicans are happier than Democrats. This finding has been consistent since the survey began in 1972.

"Republicans tend to have more money than Democrats, and -- as we've already discovered -- people who have more money tend to be happier. But even this explanation only goes so far. If one controls for household income, Republicans still hold a significant edge: that is, poor Republicans are happier than poor Democrats; middle-income Republicans are happier than middle-income Democrats, and rich Republicans are happier than rich Democrats."

"Might ideology be the key? It's true that conservatives, who are more likely to be Republican, are happier than liberals, who are more likely to be Democrats. But even controlling for this ideological factor, a significant partisan gap remains. Conservative Republicans are happier than conservative Democrats, and moderate/liberal Republicans are happier than liberal Democrats."

The jerky response would be that ignorance is bliss. Those who watch Faux News know far less about what is going on than those who watch the Daily Show. And the partisan make up of those audiences are skewed heavily.

But despite my anger about what Bush and his allies have done to my beloved country (and what local Republicans are doing to my beloved state), I am still personally happy. I am blessed to have a great marriage with a smart, caring and loving wife. I live comfortably with a nice job, nice house, nice car, and nice pet. I have support from great friends and family members. And generally speaking, I am in excellent health.

So while I am personally at peace, I cannot rest while I see injustices around me. That's why I rant on this and other blogs, why I contribute my time and treasure to candidates, and why I try to get other people to join me in this fight. It is why I went to law school, so that I would have the tools to fight back.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

the school board got it right

Today the state school board, after hearing from the Attorney General for hours, voted not to implement a vouchers program for the next school year. The ruling sets up a court battle at the Utah Supreme Court. Look for the court to avoid controversy and narrowly rule on the statutory interpretation, not the constitutionality of vouchers in Utah.

"This to me is the way to get it before a court and get it heard by somebody who can make a decision so we can go forward," said board member Dennis Morrill of Taylorsville. "Everybody ought to be cheering who wants this decided once and for all."
Shurtleff, of course, urged in his opinion letter that the Board should start "a voucher program based on a second law that was drafted to amend the original voucher act but accidentally re-enacted entire sections and completely omitted others."

The very title of the bill is "Education Voucher Amendments" meaning that it relates back to HB 148, which is subject to repeal this November. Mean that HB 174 will be mooted if the voters repeal 148. If that weren't enough, those who voted for 174 who didn't vote for 148 (those making it referendum-proof) did so thinking they were fixing 148, not creating a new bill.

We were ensured it was cleanup legislation — there was confusion among senators and representatives," said Rep. Rosalind McGee, D-Salt Lake. "HB174 is a muddle policy fragment— please don't make state policy based on muddled policy."

For those of you doubt my legal reasoning, here is a primer from the most recent Utah Supreme Court case I can find:
When interpreting statutes, we look first to the statute's plain language with the primary objective of giving effect to the legislature's intent. Savage v. Utah Youth Vill., 2004 UT 102, P18, 104 P.3d 1242. "We presume that the legislature used each word advisedly" and read "each term according to its ordinary and accepted meaning." State v. Barrett, 2005 UT 88, P29, 127 P.3d 682 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Statutes should be read as a whole and their provisions interpreted in harmony with related provisions and statutes. Miller v. Weaver, 2003 UT 12, P17, 66 P.3d 592.

When the language of the statute is plain, other interpretive tools are not needed. Adams v. Swensen, 2005 UT 8, P8, 108 P.3d 725. However, if the language is ambiguous, the court may look beyond the statute to legislative history and public policy to ascertain the statute's intent. Utah Pub. Employees Ass'n v. State, 2006 UT 9, P59, 131 P.3d 208 (Parrish, J., concurring). When viewed holistically, a statute is ambiguous if duplicative, yet plausible meanings are not eliminated from possibility. Id. P60. Martinez v. Media-Paymaster Plus/Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 2007 UT 42, PP46-47

"My duty to my client is to tell them to obey the law ... sometimes what we say our client doesn't want to hear," Shurtleff said. However Shurtleff didn't do that, because his ultimate client is the Utah GOP, and their out-of-state donors want this bill to be valid, even if the people of Utah don't.

darned whippersnappers

Now I know I am a few years yet from Thirty, but I feel old when I begin today's rant:
Longboarders -- who get their thrills on extended, low-riding, speed-designed skateboards -- say they can share the streets with motorists and pedestrians.
Drivers "get really pissed when they get scared," rider Nic Adams says. "They're just not used to people moving on a longboard on the street with them."
But valley police officers and city officials fear the fad -- illegal in some locations -- threatens public safety.
"Some of the boarders come down that hill [SunCrest Drive] pretty quick, and it's surprising drivers," Draper City Councilman Bill Colbert says. "They have to take evasive action or are afraid they're going to hit one of these kids. I'm worried someone is going to get hurt or killed."
Lynn Rohland, spokeswoman for the University of Utah Police, says longboarding has been rampant across campus for years. Boarders often start at the U. and pick up speed heading downhill on 100 South and into downtown.
"This is everywhere on our campus," Rohland says. "It's a big issue, and we take it seriously."

(photo credit Keith Jacobs)

Note the lack of helmet or any other protective padding. Also note that these idiots tend to weave down a lane to slow down and because they want to go as fast as possible (without cars in the way), they ride down steep streets in the dark with no reflectors or lights in the middle of the lane.

I am sure it is fun to ride, but under those circumstances it is incredibly dangerous. Riders get going up to 60 MPH and have no real brakes other than their feet and if a car driver cannot see them (and riders rarely slow down let alone stop at stop signs or lights), they could very well hit and kill them.

Of course, almost all of these morons are male, teens to 30s. I see them on my street that is quite hilly and South Temple all the time, including well after dark. I can't count the number of times people have almost hit them.

If you want a similar thrill, go skiing or surfing. Or go on a private road. Join an X-games type league that closes off the streets when you long board. But get the heck off public roads, day and especially night. And wear a freaking helmet and reflectors. Ridiculously large headphones don't count.

Monday, May 28, 2007

never forget

while you are out having a nice iced tea and doing your gardening or putting together IKEA furniture like I did this weekend, remember why you aren't at work/school today:

America's armed forces are losing their lives for a failed policy and failed war. But their lives cannot be lost in vain, even if Iraq becomes worse than 2001 Afghanistan.

We must remember their sacrifices and pledge never to let any more lives be lost for one man's pride and another man's greed.