Saturday, September 29, 2007

Becker is crushing Buhler

Today the Deseret News came out with a poll with unsurprising but happy results:
The Deseret Morning News/KSL-TV poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates shows that if the Nov. 6 final election were held today, Becker would be favored by 51 percent of Salt Lake City registered voters; Buhler has 33 percent support. Eleven percent didn't know, while 5 percent mentioned someone else.
[...]
The survey of 403 registered voters in the city has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.0 percent. So, even within the ranges of the margin of error, Becker still holds a healthy lead.
So if even all 11 percent who are undecided go for Buhler, and we chip in 5 percent for the margin of error, Becker still beats Buhler by 3%. And that doomsday scenario isn't going to happen.

To be over fifty percent already is pretty devastating news in a open seat race for a challenger. If you take Becker's 38.48 and add it to Wilson's 23.46, you get a bit over 62 percent. If you take that number and minus it by the 51 Dan Jones found support Becker, you get a difference of 11.94%...about 1 percent more than the undecided number. So those undecideds could be Wilson supporters who aren't sold on Ralph and/or Christensen supporters, or more likely people who aren't going to vote.

I guess people prefer Dreamers who have big plans for this city rather than Doers who help pass legislation that harms cities and are against Salt Lake City values. So much for that attack line.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Romney's latest Tribune aided lie

Another day, another dishonest Thomas Burr article from the Salt Lake Tribune. Yesterday, he was part of two hit pieces on Ralph Becker [he only wrote one of them -Ed.], today, he lies for Mitt Romney. This can't be explained away merely by lazy journalism. Here's the offending paragraph burried deep in Burr's puff piece on some kid from Provo who supplicated himself for Willard Mitt Romney.
The Romney campaign did not choose another video for its finalists list even though at one point it was the most watched on its site. That video, by the editors of Slate, poked fun at a comment Romney made earlier this year in response to whether his sons had served in the military or would join.
Romney responded that his five sons are serving their country by helping him get elected.
In the Slate ad, called "Five Brothers" - in a takeoff on the military series "Band of Brothers" - shows the sacrifices the sons are making on the campaign trail, including hitting golf balls, seeing the world's largest catfish and pulling over to see a field buzzing with lightning bugs.
Burr forgot to metion the key fact that the ad that Idaho Rhodes Scholar and former White House Advisor Bruce Reed made beat the pants off of the ad Romney selected (and it wasn't the ad Burr mentioned in his piece. In fact Burr claimed the opposite
Ryan Whitaker, 23, of Provo, received the most views for his "Ready for Action" video and received nearly half the votes cast among the nine finalists. Whitaker, a junior at Brigham Young University, was stoked to learn he won the contest out of 129 entries.

Reed fired back on his Slate column
"Ready for Action" is a disappointing choice, and not just because it collected a paltry 20,000 votes to the 80,000+ votes for "Way!". A more apt title for it would be "Above the Fruited Plain." Stock video clips of flags, mountains, and the Golden Gate Bridge rush to keep up with Romney's favorite political clich├ęs. The words "Strength," "Innovation," and "Experience" appear in subliminal blips, then give way to the tagline, "Strong. New. Leadership."

Team Mitt no doubt liked the ad because it so closely resembles the ads from Romney's consultants. "Ready for Action" says nothing about what Romney would do as President. One viewer complained that it doesn't even mention that Romney's running for President:

"Remember that the average person seeing the add on network television will have no clue who he is or that there is even an election going on. Network television is targeted to the lowest common denominator which when you look at what they show on network tv these days doesn't say much for the aptitude of our country."
We already have one Mitt propagana paper, it is the LDS church owned Deseret Morning News, we don't need another.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Buhler goes negative


(Photo Credit: Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News)
Remember when Republican Dave Buhler claimed he was "nice guy?" Well, now that it has been a little over two weeks since he made it into the runoff with Democrat Ralph Becker, it seems Buhler's attacks have started.
Calling himself a doer, not a dreamer, Buhler stood in the shadow of the Utah Capitol to outline a "to-do list" of reforms he needs state help to tackle, if elected.
[...]
Buhler also assailed the legislative record of his opponent Ralph Becker, whom he questioned for passing just 15 bills during 11 years in the Utah House.
"Some years he didn't seem to make much of an effort," the Republican Buhler said about his Democratic opponent. "The race is between two nice guys," but "one's focus is on results. The other is focused on planning and blueprints."
Becker could not immediately be reached for reaction.
Buhler, a two-term city councilman who finished 11 percentage points behind Becker in the Sept. 11 primary, says he relishes the role of the underdog.
Suggesting Becker has been ineffective on Capitol Hill, Buhler pointed to his four-year Utah Senate term (when he passed 36 bills) and eight years at City Hall as tenures more full of results.
I guess that argument would make sense if you forgot that Buhler was in the Republican leadership in the Utah state legislure and Becker was in the Democratic leadership in the state legislature. Since the Republicans have a super majority in the state legislature, why would they let someone like Becker pass any bills and look good? In fact, it wasn't until Becker was practically gone on the campaign trail that they passed an ethics bill, something Becker has introduced year and after year.

In fact, one of the main reasons Becker probably decided to run for mayor was that he was tired of being stymied by the Republicans in the legislature. With the blue tilt of Salt Lake, he knew he would finally be able to get stuff done as mayor rather than as minority leader.

While we are comparing records of what each candidate has done in the state legislature, many of the things Buhler did weren't good for cities.
As a state senator, he repeatedly tried to limit the power of cities to govern themselves. In the Senate, Buhler tacked a rider onto a bill governing city incorporation. It allowed businesses that owned land in newly formed cities Kearns and Magna to opt out, escaping from new taxes. One company benefiting from Buhler’s changes was Kennecott Copper. Also, as state senator, he limited the power of cities in Utah to regulate rental units.
Maybe Buhler should more careful about throwing rocks out of his glass house.

UPDATE: Becker responds.
"My role is to help formulate and present the Democratic position on state policy and on the state budget, to work to make sure I represent my constituents well, to help our caucus be successful with its legislation," he said.

Becker also touted his perfect attendance record in legislative sessions for the past 11 years — "I've never missed a day," he said.

As for being labeled a dreamer by the Buhler campaign, Becker said he doesn't have a problem with that.

"I don't apologize for thinking about the future or working toward the future, engaging the community and achieving the community that we want," he said. "I think it's important that the mayor not only be someone who's managing city government well but develops and leads this city toward the future we want as a community."

butt biters for election stealing


(Photo Credit: Chilly Willy Fan.com)

The lede of the day:
Until this week, Missouri attorney Charles "Chep" Hurth III was best known for a headline-grabbing incident a decade ago in which he bit a young female law student on the butt in a bar.

Now Hurth, the city attorney for New Haven, Mo. (population 1,800), is the agent for a deep-pocketed group that donated $175,000 to fund a Republican-backed effort that would reshape the landscape of presidential politics in California.

Hurth has emerged as an unlikely lead player in connection with the ballot measure that seeks to change the way California allocates its Electoral College votes in the presidential election. His actions on behalf of the group Take Initiative America are being examined by the state's Fair Political Practices Commission after accusations from Democrats that the group is hiding the source of its money.

It's not the first time Hurth has been part of an effort that Democrats say has been aimed at changing the outcome of a presidential election. In 2004, he was the legal agent behind a GOP-funded group called Choices for America, which solicited donations from Republicans for another controversial signature drive - to help independent candidate Ralph Nader get on the presidential election ballot in key states, documents show.
It follows all the rules of sham front groups, have a vaugue name, make sure that name has words that every American loves like "America" "Choice" "Freedom" "United" "Future" "Senior" "[a state or citizens of a state]", and couple that with the exact opposite of its actual purpose. And you thought election law was boring.

(H/T Prof. Hansen)

Tribune creating a close race out of thin air

The Salt Lake Tribune after being embarressed by supporting distant fourth-place finisher Keith Christensen, is going after Ralph Becker by claiming Buhler can win the westside.
From Rose Park to Glendale, primary voters on Salt Lake City's west flank sidestepped the Ralph Becker cascade on Sept. 11. Instead, the area broke convincingly for Dave Buhler - and Jenny Wilson.
Becker, who swept a vast swath of neighborhoods across the rest of Utah's capital, did not carry a single precinct west of Interstate 15.
[...]
Even so, the west-end shutout - Buhler and Wilson dominated Fairpark, Rose Park, Poplar Grove and Glendale, leaving Becker in third - dropped some jaws.
"It's surprising," said Archie Archuleta, a Glendale resident and the city's former administrator of minority affairs. "The City Council members on the west side are Republican, and their constituencies came out very heavy."
Indeed, Buhler was endorsed by those council colleagues, Van Turner and Carlton Christensen. But the self-professed "underdog" argues his support runs deeper.
"I'm very encouraged by it," Buhler said, noting he pushed for the Pioneer police precinct and still has ties to fellow South High School alums. "This shows how this is a not a partisan race."
[...]
In one case, between 600 North and 1000 North just east of Redwood Road, Buhler bested Becker 111 votes to 38. Buhler is counting on that trend to continue to make up the overall margin.
[...]
In the four precincts that comprise the heart of Glendale, for example, Buhler outpolled Becker by roughly 100 votes combined. By comparison, Becker beat Buhler by 100 votes - and sometimes 200 - in each of six Avenues precincts and in two Harvard-Yale precincts.
Buhler topped Becker by more than 100 votes in a single precinct - Buhler's east-bench neighborhood.
So let me get this straight, Becker cleaned everyone's clock on September 11, getting nearly 39% in a 6-way race and thousands of more votes than Buhler, and the Trib is focuing on random low turnout precincts where Buhler got a couple dozen more votes than Becker did? There is also a hint of racist subtext here: that Becker purportedly ignored the west side, where more minorities live, to placate his white liberal base. Thankfully Wayne Holland sets the record straight.
"Their general strategy was to take Ralph to areas where he could get to know people that had a history of good turnout," said Wayne Holland, chairman of the Utah Democratic Party. "Primary voting being a low-turnout game, it was a very, very good strategy."
[...]
Holland notes the Becker camp researched voting hot spots from the 1999 and 2003 mayoral primaries and determined the west sector simply was not worth it.
"It just doesn't produce in a primary," Holland said. "He was spending his time and resources on higher-turnout precincts."
Becker says he initially tried to hit every west-side doorstep. Later, after realizing the dearth of registered voters there, he scaled back.
"It's really unfortunate," Becker said. "There is a really large percentage who don't vote regularly."
That said, Archuleta expects to see a bigger Becker brigade west of the freeway over the next month.
"Becker did not do as well on the west side in terms of his volunteer force," he said. "But without Wilson in the race, that will change."
[...]
Becker, who bristles at being labeled the favorite, says he is recruiting still more volunteers to work every part of the city.
"I can tell from walking door to door on the west side, a lot of people didn't know me," he said. "I'm hoping to spend more time getting to know voters over there, but also letting them get to know me."
If you know you are running in a low turn out race and you know certain areas haven't voted in the last two elections for your office you seek, why would you dedicate resources and time there? Oh that's right, you would if you were Jenny Wilson.

Make no mistake about it, Ralph is going to barn storm the entire city with volunteers knocking on doors. He is going to raise money from people looking to make a safe bet without much effort. He is going to be organized and disciplined. And he is going to win the race by 15-20 points. Becker 2, Tribune 0. Thanks for playing.

More dishonest pro-voucher claims

Supports of subsidizing private (and potentially religious) schools with taxpayer dollars make up numbers on the cost of said private schools.
Bobby Porter, a minister and director of student development at Layton Christian Academy who chairs Minorities for Vouchers.
Porter's group estimates the average tuition for Utah private schools is about $4,500, a figure far lower than the roughly $8,000 quoted by the anti-voucher group Utahns for Public Schools. He said his number excludes Utah's most expensive private schools because they skewed the number much higher. Voucher opponents say an average should include all schools.
He said a few thousand dollars would go a long way toward helping make private education affordable to minority students, who as groups often lag behind their white peers in terms of academic performance.
The voucher law, if it passes in a November referendum, would give most interested Utah students $500 to $3,000 toward private school tuition, depending on income.
What a concept, that number claiming to be the average cost of tutition should include al of the tutions in the state. of course, people like Porter were the same ones who used the "average" trick the other way to make Bush's tax cuts seem pro-middle class (when in fac thte vast majority of the benefits skewed to the wealthiest few). There is no secret that he chery picked data to get closer to the top end of the voucher. Paying $1,500 out of pocket for school sounds reasonable, $5,000 sounds as unattainable for working class folks as it is.

Oh and Porter fails to address the fact that NCAAP says vouchers will lead to seggregation, or at least did in the past. I just hope he isn't teaching those kids math.

novel concept for Shurtleff

If you read or watch the news in Utah, I think you have heard of two things, Warren Jeffs was convicted accomplise to rape by forcing a 14 year old to marry her cousin, and that Utah's AG Mark Shurtleff was in a motorcycle accident that requires multiple surgeries on his leg.

Shurtleff is a partisan hack. He goes around making dishonest claims and attacks on Rep. Jim Matheson in Southern Utah, were he knows Jim is most vulnerable politically.

While Shurtleff gets waves of free sympathy publicity about his injuries, something which he could use to run for Governor if Huntsman joins a Republican cabinet in 2009, doctors have the timerity to ask him to do something for the people of Utah.
Shurtleff says his motorcycle helmet may have saved his life. He says doctors are giving him a hard time about it.
Shurtleff says every doctor says: "You're a politician, right? You were wearing a helmet, now help us pass a helmet law."
He's not just a politican, he's the chief law enforcement officer in the state. He knows or should know how many people die in Utah annually because they are not wearing a motorcycle or bicycle helmet. [Warning the last three links are PDFs]

Helping Utahns comes second to Shurtleff, first is his political career. He wouldn't want to offend those libertarian types in rural Utah. Maybe this is part IV of Utah Republicans against health care.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Utah Republicans against Health Care, part III

I never dreamt (or "nightmared") that there would be enough material on Utah Republicans who opposed health care for their citizens, especially poor children, to write about. Alas, there is at least three posts' worth.

Part I dealt with fmr.-Gov. Leavitt's crusade to keep more poor children from getting health care, and our Senators Hatch and Bennett's halfhearted attempt to do anything about it(getting quoted in the paper and co-sponsoring a bill you know will never see the light of day doesn't count gentlemen). Part II was our Republican state legislature's lust for subsidizing private schools with taxpayer dollars overwhelming a public-private effort to give the poorest of the poor health care in Utah. And now part III, wherein our Republican US House members vote with Bush rather than the children of their district.

The compromised SCHIP bill passed the US House 265-159 yesterday, with 220 Democrats and 45 Republicans voting for it. Among the 151 Republicans who voted with Bush and against expanding health care coverage for poor children were Chris Cannon and Rob Bishop.

An overwhelming majority of Americans (and Utahns), conservatives, moderates and liberals alike, support this bill. Here's Cannon's excuse for voting against it:
Congress would raise the cigarette tax by 61 cents a pack to pay for the program.
Cannon criticizes the tax increase and CHIP, while at the same time pushing health reform that includes tax credits and health savings accounts.
"Forcing Congress to tackle real reform and market solutions will be a far better gift to posterity than a broken system run from Washington," he said in a statement.
He is against cigarette tax increases? Increasing such taxes discourages people from starting to smoke, not only saving lives and money, but also preventing what Rep. Cannon's religion believes to be a sin. So why is he against it again? And not a peep out of Rep. Bishop, the school teacher that seems to hate poor children.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Utah GOP legislators hold Utahn's lives hostage for vouchers

I am not going to sugarcoat it, nor am I exaggerating. People die while insurance companies deny treatments that would save lives if done in time.
A high-powered group of Utah businessmen and health experts put forward Monday a plan providing affordable health insurance to an estimated 360,000 Utahns...
[...]
According to [Rep. Phil] Riesen [(D-Milcreek) and former local news anchor], [House Majority Leader Dave] Clark, [(R-Santa Clara)] when asked about the political chances in the Legislature of the broad health-insurance plan, told the health subcommittee that if local businesses don't support the voucher plan, there would be little chance of the health-insurance plan passing the GOP-dominated Legislature.
[...]
"I don't recall exactly" what he said at the subcommittee, but no connection was meant, Clark added.

GOP leaders admit that they met with local business lobbyists this summer to ask for financial contributions to the pro-voucher PIC [political issue committee].

Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, who helped form the PIC, said GOP leaders brought together lobbyists and government liaison officials from businesses and/or trade associations that had previously backed a public education reform plan, which included vouchers. Because the businesses had backed vouchers previously, GOP leaders figure they should now put their money where their mouths are.
I think Rep. Hughes means that businesses should put their money where GOP state legislature's mouths are. This PICs goal is to raise at least $300,000 to push for vouchers. According to the LG's website, "There are no laws that restrict the amount of money political issues committees can spend or receive in Utah." This means that one rich ideologue like the Overstock.com guy can buy himself a bunch of misleading nasty ads about vouchers. Oh and while PICs must file disclosure reports, LG Gary Herbert (R-Provo), ex-Utah County Commission Chairman, doesn't bother to make these reports easy to get or find. You will notice that they are not available even to print off of the internet. Rather, one must make a GRAMA request and then go to the LG's office and get more runaround. And I am sure you can't get copies, but only look at them and take notes. So much for accountability for his GOP buddies.

I hope that voters wake up to the fact that the Republicans they have voted for are supporting things they don't want (vouchers, ethics loopholes) and killing things they want (money for education, health care, banning puppy torture). Utahns, these guys are scared of you, but think they can con you into supporting them again because some Democrats are gay. What that has to do with anything is beyond me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

On Judge Paul G. Cassell's retirement


This weekend I saw that the Professor who taught me Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure is leaving from the bench already, after only five years in the federal judiciary. No one will disagree with me that he is a brilliant, ethical, and fair man. Moreover, even though he was only a district court judge in Utah (and the youngest federal judge ever from that state at 42), he was highly influential.
In his 2004 decision in the United States v. Croxford, he became the first judge in the country to hold that the federal sentencing guidelines were unconstitutional based on prior Supreme Court decisions. In 2005, Cassell became the first judge to interpret the meaning of the Supreme Court Booker decision on the new advisory nature of the guidelines, and in 2004, defense attorneys applauded Cassell for authoring a lengthy opinion decrying a 55-year mandatory minimum sentence he was required to impose on young marijuana dealer Weldon Angelos. Also in 2005, Chief Justice William Rehnquist appointed Judge Cassell to be the chairman of the Judicial Conference Committee on Criminal Law.
He would miss classes to teach the rule of law to judges and attorneys in central Asia. I know his wife from the Salt Lake County DA's office and she is smart tough and funny too.

However, the thing that now Professor Cassell is most famous for is something I disagree with him highly on. In Dickerson v. U.S., he argued before the Supreme Court that Congress had overturned Miranda in the 1960s and that forcing police officers to read the famous "you have the right to remain silent..." statement was "handcuffing the cops". Thankfully, the court disagreed with him 7-2, including even the late Chief Justice Rehnquist, who authored the opinion.

Most scholars, police officers, prosecutors, judges, and criminal defense attorneys recognize that Miranda has become a largely pro forma statement that fails to deter the stupid criminals from waiving their rights and confessing to their crimes. It has become the equivalent of asking airline passengers if some one else packed their luggage.

In addition to his return to teaching students, which he does an excellent job, he will return to advocacy of Victim's Rights. He believes they should have a bigger role in the court proceedings and that a constitutional amendment is necessary to do so. I wish him and his family all the best in their future endeavours, so long as that doesn't involve overturning Miranda or getting his amendment passed.