Senator Bramble and Stan Lockhart In News Over Suspicious Political Behavior (Update)

Every once in a while, I check out Utah Standard News. This week I caught a report about some possible unethical, if not criminal intrigue at the Utah County and State GOP conventions.

Some of the actors are the “usual suspects” for me. I’ve written before on the cozy relationship between State Senator Curt Bramble and Stan Lockhart. I’ve also noted Bramble’s Chicago-style political ‘tactics’ (click here for all posts on Bramble). This may well be another example of such.

I’m only going to put a very small excerpt of the article here as it would be best to read the entire article (read to the end for the big stuff). Ultimately, the charges should be investigated and verified as what may have occurred strikes to the heart of the caucus system (which I’m a big proponent of) and integrity of the Utah County and State GOP as a whole.

Caucus Obstruction, Delegate Tampering & Voter Fraud in Utah County

In what could be the biggest scandal in the Utah GOP of the past decade, this tale of corruption involves two sitting Utah State Senators (Curt Bramble & Deidre Henderson), the new Utah County GOP Chair Robert Craig, legislative district officers, precinct chairs, and state delegates. Their activities include clear and blatant infractions of the GOP Constitution and Bylaws and could result in a multiple criminal investigations and charges of voter fraud.

EDIT: I just finished typing up the above and checked back on the USN website and there’s a follow-up article: UPDATE Part 2 : Caucus, Delegate & Voter Tampering. New info. Evidence. YAK info. Be sure to read it in full too – it includes some additional information along with some more personal reports of ‘anomalies’ along the lines of the first article and some possible better perspective on Sen. Henderson. Again, this stuff should be investigated and verified.

Obviously, some are having conniptions about it and State Senator Todd Weiler (Davis County) is on threatening the publisher with libel:

I know you’re the messenger, Ed Wallace. At least one of the people you lied about called me tonight for legal advice on a libel lawsuit. Hope you’ve got good insurance!

While I’ve found Weiler to be nice and polite in person (the couple of times I’ve met him), I’ve noticed he’s disrespectful, derisive and condescending online. Par for the course.

UPDATE: USN has posted another follow-up: FINAL UPDATE Caucus, Delegate & Voter Tampering. INCLUDING EVIDENCE.

UPDATE II: This is exactly why the caucus is so important and any potential corruption thereof must be investigated. Chris Herrod probably wouldn’t have had a prayer as he isn’t an establishment/donor class favorite. Thanks to the caucus and neighbors representing their areas and vetting candidates, he now has a chance:
Utah GOP delegates pick candidate to replace Congressman Jason Chaffetz

He still has to make it through a primary and I doubt he’ll be favored by the establishment GOP. Check him out and consider helping him out.

Bountiful City Raising Your Power Rate To Maintain Politician Play Fund (Update)

About a week ago, I noted the city had come out with its annual spin on bilking you on your power rates. This week, they doubled down and are sending you a glossy four page ad (with more ridiculous “investing” spin) about your rates going up $4/month. As I noted last week, the city is already transferring $2.45 Million from the city power department (by overcharging you on power). So what does $4/month come out to per year in extra cash the city politicians can play with?

Well, per the 2010 census, Bountiful had 14,504 households in it (since that’s seven years ago, but I’ll be conservative and stick with that number). Therefore, $4/month X 12 months X 14,504 households = $696,192 extra cash flowing to the city.

That’s a minimum figure as the city has grown since 2010 and I believe rates will also go up for churches, charities, and businesses in Bountiful. Supposedly, the increase will go to infrastructure improvements but don’t be surprised if next year’s transfer from the city power dept. magically increases as well. So rather than use part of their $2.45 annual fund, they’ll take at least $696K more from families, churches, small businesses…etc. Priorities, priorities.

The city admits they use the power company in lieu of taxes for a revenue stream. Thus, by playing with rates, they can do two things: 1) Evade truth-in-taxation law and 2) Claim the city has the lowest taxes for its size the state (AKA bait-and-switch).

If the city wants to continue to manipulate your power rate, they should be brought under Public Service Commission oversight and if they want to continue the laughable claim that you’re an “investor” and this is a “dividend” they should also comply with SEC filings just as Rocky Mountain Power must. Personally, I would rather see this entire ‘municipal power as de facto taxing entity’ practice banned.

For all posts related to Bountiful Power, click here.

UPDATE: It just sunk in that this power rate hike is permanent (I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed…). The increased revenue is an annual income to the city. That means the city is really effectively raising taxes on everyone (to the tune of at least $696K per year). With that juicy new revenue stream, I find it much harder to believe we won’t see the power fund transfer to city coffers jump (even if the funds are initially used for infrastructure improvements).

Next, on the pamphlet, under the new solar customer rates section (bottom of last page), it appears solar customers will have a 9.25 cents/kWh rate when they use power. The concern that raises for me is 9.25 cents/kWh is the current rate. Does that mean everyone else will face a higher rate (due to the increase) while solar folks get the old (current) rate? That sounds like they’re getting an additional subsidy. I am not cool with that at all IF that is the case but the pamphlet unclear.

Finally, I find it a ironic and annoying that I got the information which encourages citizen feedback after the city council meeting (on Tuesday) was held and the vote taken. I’m willing to bet the rate increase was approved. I’ll update this post when I find out.

Chamber Of Commerce Front Group “OurSchoolsNow” Employs Math Spin For Tax Increase (Update)

I’ll keep this brief. First, OurSchoolsNow is yet another in the litanny of Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce political front groups bent on raising economic burdens on Utah families. The latest gambit will be yet another “why do you hate school children?” guilt trip against those opposed to the tax increase. They’ll couple this with a quiet bit of math spin on the actual percent tax increase and neglect to mention the increase doesn’t apply to them (surprise!). They spin it as a 7/8% increase on you. No it’s not:

The first shot in this effort to raise individual income taxes by a whopping 18% from 5% to 5.875% while leaving all business taxes, including the 5% corporate income tax, unchanged was fired when the elites formally announced a petition drive to raise the individual income tax…

The real math equates to: 5.875/5 = 18% increase in rate. Again, note that the Chamber was sure to exempt the business tax rates*. People caught on to that and now they’ve moved on to a “1/2% increase” on two taxes (sales and income) still exempting themselves from an increase. The 1/2% is, yet again, a misnomer. Here’s the breakdown:

Income tax rate increase: 5.5/5 = 10% increase
Sales tax increase (5.95% is the State base rate and 6.45% would be the new rate) = 6.45/5.95 = 8.4% increase

Interestingly, added together thats about 18% again, however, the actual burden of the sales tax increase depend on how much you spend. Futhermore besides exempting themselves from the tax, Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) caught on that the Chamber didn’t appear all that willing to get rid of tax subsidies they gorge on…funds that could’ve gone to schools (#ourschoolsnow stop campaigning to increase tax burden & focus on multiple subsidies robbing Ed budget”):

All this does is heap additional burdens on Utah families to keep the crony capital trough full, while virtue signalling they caaaare so much about children. The Utah swamp could use some draining.

UPDATE: Libertas is also calling out the Our Schools Now bunk and Libetas’ Connor Boyack also makes note of the “politically connected insiders” pushing this boondogle.

*FWIW: I’m not a big fan of raising corporate rates – those are essentially just passed on to consumers anyway via increased product cost which can reduces sales (hence why the Chamber of Crony Capitalists exempt themselves).

KUTV Serves Up FakeNews By Way Of Omission

In a glowing newscast report, KUTV heralds a proud DACA recipient’s app designed to stymie law enforcement. He’s here illegally and KUTV is certain to omit that fact in their report. It’s omission propaganda dressed up as news.

Viewers should have, at very least, been given the context that he’s here flouting the law and assisting others to continue to do the same. That’s just the mild part of it as further context would note the relatively routine commission of felony identity theft and document fraud by illegal immigrats, let alone other heinous crimes. Not once was it asked/address if his app would also enable criminal illegal aliens to thwart law enforcement and leave victims in their wake. But that wouldn’t fit the narrative.

Happy Anniversary! Its Time For Bountiful City To Spin Ripping You Off On Power

Good news: Your anniversary present comes dressed in a beautiful evening gown with stunning lipstick…too bad it’s a pig.

Exactly a year ago, I posted my annual note about Bountiful flimflamming residents on residents getting overcharged for power. This year, the city sent out the same, boiled over sophistry ($2.45 Million in overcharges the city keeps = a “dividend”/”investment”) in a letter that came with your power bill. [Edit: Be sure to look at my 2015 post on the investor/dividend distortion]

This year I’m going to save my limited free time and not rehash how the city’s spin is phony. For that, look at last year’s post (and the year before that…and the year before that…) or click on the Bountiful Power tag for all things related to the city’s (ab)use of their power department as a surrogate taxing entity to skirt truth-in-taxation (and yes, even in the letter, the city admits “…what otherwise would be a significant increase in property taxes”).

‘Till next year.

Gab Open To All (No Invite Required)

Last time I posted about Gab, I was offering invites that I had. About two weeks ago, Gab came out of beta and went public (delayed update but life has been busy). Thus, you don’t need an invite any longer just head over to Gab.ai and setup an account.

Be sure to review last month’s post about the platform if you want to see some initial impressions. Note: going public will likely greatly help bring viewpoints into balance.

Finally, with Gab’s public release, this is likely the last post I’ll write on the platform. Check it out, bring a thick skin and enjoy!

Impressions of Gab

I was an early adopter of Gab.ai and have been on it for about eight months now. Twitter’s Orwellian SJW policies prompted me to leave their platform. I left happily never to return and toyed with my own microblog (on WordPress) as a means to keep track of articles etc. that interested me. Somewhere along the way, I read something about a platform truly dedicated to free speech (with expected exceptions about threats, illegal activities, and fraudulently impersonating another). I took the leap and gave it a whirl.

The Good

Gab.ai really does adhere to full free speech. No opinion is censored. Rather than the staff flunkies (ala Twitter) dictating what you can or cannot say or view, you are entirely in control of that (you can mute/filter users, subjects, hashes, keywords).

Discussion is very open and allows as much engagement as you want. I have also appreciated the larger character count (300). That allows users to put a few more specific thoughts and tends to allow posting of full URLs (rather than the shortened ones) so you know what you’re clicking on.

The platform is clean, easy to read and interact with others. It is continually improving and becoming more user friendly. Developers are very responsive to user suggestions as well.

I’ve had much more engagement on Gab than I ever did on Twitter. Overall, I’ve enjoyed my time there despite not agreeing with many other users (more on that below).

Room For Improvement

I’m not going to go into any technical bugs/dislikes as the platform is still in beta and changing rapidly enough that whatever gripe I put up now will soon be moot or outdated. Rather, I’m going to address potential threats to the success of Gab.

Ironically, the adherence to free speech may be, for now, Gab’s greatest obstacle to overcome. The dominant user group is ‘alt-right’. There is also a contingent of vocal racists (note: some are ‘false flag racists’ who want to discredit Gab) as well as a contingent of Russia-apologists and/or propagandists. Frankly, that is expected as several of those folks are those who’ve been chased off/banned on other sites so, of course, they’ve gravitated where they won’t get kicked off. Thus, a greater than normal user proportion of them are on Gab.

Meh, their presence doesn’t really bother me – Gab allows people to be fully open about who they are so you don’t have to guess (they don’t need to put on a fake veneer to avoid getting booted). As a result, you know who your are talking to, who to avoid and filter out, and who to engage with. Clarity is a good thing and I see that as an potential opportunity to change minds and outlooks (even if it is a long shot).

During my time on Gab I’ve noted other viewpoints joining and slowly beginning to balance the other groups out. However, this influx seems to have plateaued a bit and needs to continue for Gab t have longterm sustainability instead of only being able to draw a niche audience. Plenty of Gab users have noted this and the developers are certainly aware.

Basically, the aforementioned groups can ‘poison the watering hole’ for new users who don’t understand Gab’s mission nor make the connection as to why there currently is a larger than normal proportion of these groups on the site. It’s easy to see the problem but solving it may be a tough nut to crack (I wish I had a suggestion here). If developers can find a solution and entice greater numbers of users, we’ll see the proportion of the above groups dwindle to typical levels.

End Notes

That briefly sums up my current impression. If free speech appeals to you and nanny organizations controlling content you view/post does not, click here and request an invite. I’ve got plenty right now but give me a couple of days to get it to you as I admittedly stink at checking my inbox.

Final note: I am biased in that I am not a big fan of social media and limit my time on it. I like topic related discussions but even those are best done in person. Real relationships are personal, not digital. I understand that social media may be waning (another possible problem for Gab). That’s a good thing. Hopefully, we all will put priorities where they belong, set aside the gadgets and take the time to actually talk and interact in person family (and friends). There is simply no substitute for such.

UPDATE: Here’s another perspective from a Gab user: Why You Should Join and Use Gab.