2019 Legislative Lesson: Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, Swamp Consolidates Stranglehold On Utah

The general session of the Utah legislature ended on Thursday and it was a major win for the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and the elite swamp.

Let’s start with some temporary good news. Outcry stopped, for now, the Chamber’s HB441 tax reform which would have further socialized costs and privatized profits. Again, this is temporary as the legislature is planning a special session to address tax reform. I expect they will basically run HB441 with a bit more lipstick and stick residents with a larger portion of government/infrastructure cost while minimizing big businesses’ contribution (businesses represented by the Chamber), thus maximizing their profits.

Teachers were also unhappy with HB441 and should be reminded that it was the Chamber’s past president, Lane Beattie, who screwed up school funding in the first place. Senator Howard Stephenson also picked up on this as well on his March 9th radio show where he called out those behind this mess.

Stephenson: I believe they created a crisis to then have a solution that was basically cooked up behind closed doors and sprung on the legislature with only two weeks left in the legislature.
Dougall: So when you say “they”, you don’t mean the legislature created the crisis, others created the crisis was responding to…
Stephenson: Well we know who was involved in it: The Salt Lake Chamber, the Kem Gardner Institute and Natalie Gochnour, and the uh Representative Quinn and some others, who, nobody really knows who was part of this brain trust and when they were meeting or anything…

Next, the Chamber and politicians made another big step in pulling political power from citizens and into the hands of political power brokers and political elites (“the swamp”). HB119 modifies the rules on citizen intiatives/referendum to greatly increase the logistics (and cost) by carving cities up into separate districts and requiring signatures come from 75% of those districts along with having to hold town hall meetings. The bill also lets cities spend money to fight such initiatives (thus, they get to use citizens’ tax money to fight citizen initiatives). The bill was sponsored by none other than Brad Daw and chief Utah swamp creature (imported from Chicago), Curt Bramble. This junk comes on the heels of SB54 which shifted candidate selection from the neighborhood caucus (advantageous to citizens) to big money political campaigns and lobbyists/consultants. SB54 also resulted in candidates being selected with less than a majority. Somewhere, Kurt Jowers, his Alta Club posse and his “California friend” are smiling…

The Chamber and Legislature (BIRM) also pushed more high density housing onto local cities. This will make the Chamber’s developers very happy and will not help housing affordability – likely the opposite (note: read the op-ed but then read the author’s (Justin S) comments in the comment section, they are key). The Chamber is also behind the propaganda ads on this issue and note that the Chamber cites the Kem Gardner Institute in the article (you’ll never guess who sits on the board of the Kem Gardner Center…).

More cronyism is glaringly obvious with HB290 where the legislature decided to dish out your sensitive personal information (including SSN, mother’s maiden name, place and date of birth, physical characteristics, medical information, etc.) to the University of Utah (UofU) for their health and epidemiology studies. As I said when I highlighted this abuse of power:

I’ve been part of medical studies but voluntarily participated. The UofU is no better than any other university or other medical research group when it comes to this. They should adhere to the same standards as the rest. They should be ashamed for engaging in political cronyism and trying to get this type of preferential treatment to take our driver license information without asking. It’s another example of Bastiat’s “legal plunder”.

Our so-called elites continue their path of power consolidation and legal plunder. Unfortunately, we’ll be left holding the consequences these ignorant elites foist upon us.

Addendum: the Chamber also had limited success with their support of the irrigation water metering bill. They used the guise of water conservation for this bill but it was bunk – water operators stated it was easy to conserve water by simply limiting irrigation to certain days (turning of the system on ‘non-water’ days) etc. What they had attempted (pushing expensive water meters onto everyone) was likely to result in cheaper, smaller water operators being forced out and effectively creating water monopolies and to favor developers. That danger still exists and there’s a question if Utah’s aquifers will be harmed (irrigation water significantly replenishes the aquifer).

Advertisements

Thanks To Count My Vote And SB54, Primary Election Nominees Are Elected By The Minority

Just one more data point in the junk that is Count My Vote (2014’s SB54). I’m limiting this to Davis County but anticipate the same thing occurred or will occur in other counties/cities as well and will continue to do so.

Political elites and the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce felt a threat to their power base so they teamed with the media and foisted “Count My Vote” drive on us which culminated in their swampy legislative cronies (Senator Bramble, naturally) shoving SB 54 down or throats in 2014. It allows candidates to circumvent the accountability of the neighborhood caucus system and pay cash to gather signatures to go directly to the primary ballot where their money provides them a key advantage over otherwise good candidates from the “great unwashed” (see video at above link).

They used the sophistry of ‘every vote counting’ and not wanting ‘anyone to be disenfranchised’ to justify their power grab while also being certain to…not provide for a run off election in the event a candidate doesn’t get over 50% of the vote. We’ll here are some nominee* vote totals we now have thanks to their dumb scheme:

Utah House of Reps, District 20 – Melissa Ballard 41% (59% did not vote for her).

Davis County Commission – Lorene Miner Kamalu 41% (59% did not vote for her).

So, who feels their vote “counted” now…do we all have a warm enfranchised feeling? No? Maybe we should tell the elites to stuff it, support restoring our voices and return to a level playing field with KeepMyVoice.

UPDATE: I changed the post title after I looked at a Salt Lake race near Davis County. This one shows the CMV/SB54 impact for the Democrat Party:

Utah House of Reps, District 24 – Jen Dailey-Provost 35% (65% did not vote for her).

*Note: Be aware that this isn’t a hit on the nominees. They may well have been able to pull the majority in a run-off but we’ll never know thanks to SB54/Count My Vote effectively muzzling the majority’s voice.

Gov. Herbert: Thou Shalt Be Duped And Like It

Ok. The title is somewhat facetious but it’s the best I could come up with in a rush.

It seems that Governor Herbert thinks that if you are tricked or pushed into signing onto a ballot initiative which you don’t agree with or no longer support after researching it, you shouldn’t correct the error (Governor Herbert weighs in on more ballot initiatives, says people shouldn’t remove signatures from petitions):

The governor chastised those now pushing to get people who signed petitions to remove their signatures ahead of the May 15 deadline to validate and qualify the initiatives for the ballot.

I’ve seen the initiative signature drives and rarely do people pause to ask details. Frankly, many of those collecting the signatures are clueless themselves (especially if they are paid collectors – usually by well funded interests/political elites). Most of those who later learn more and regret adding their signature, are unaware that the can correct the record, so I have no problem with other folks providing the other side of the issue and informing them that, yes, you aren’t stuck with your mistake (especially when it can have legal implications if the measure is successful).

Herbert says “Let’s hear the pros and cons and vote and let the people speak.” Well there’s nothing wrong with letting signers hear the cons and letting “people speak” isn’t limited to signing a petition – not signing is an equally valid form of speech.

Besides this, I think the Governor is employing this sophistry because he’s really a closet supporter of “Count My Vote” which benefits incumbents (him), the entrenched political elite and big donors (his friends, like the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce). They really don’t like neighborhood caucuses where candidates from the ‘great unwashed’ have an equal chance at election as one of their politically-connected anointed candidates. Count My Vote undermines the system (and co-opts party sovereignty) to favor the highly-funded political elites.

Please get informed on Count My Vote and the caucus system before signing anything. If you want an alternative to Count My Vote and make sure folks “hear the pros and cons”, support the competing initiative, Keep My Voice.

Again, get informed prior to signing onto a petition. If you messed up (all of us do), correct the mistake. That’s how you make your real voice heard.

Addendum: I understand Kirk Jowers and Doug Wright are whining about people removing their names and Wright is going on about Dan Jones polls being gospel or something. No surprise, since Jowers, Wright, and Jones where at the initial meeting in 2011 that our political ‘betters’ plotted out destroying the caucus system (eventually settling on Plan C which is in effect right now).

Addendum II: Doug Wright’s whining is even funnier: He got all flustered on his radio show and kept cutting off, talking over and filibustering a Keep My Voice representative he invited onto his show. Wright tried casting his guest as right wing (maybe it never occurred to Wright that he’s on the leftwing side of the party, thus everyone else is “rightwing” to him). Funniest was Wright kept guffawing that anyone would ignore polls, especially a Dan Jones poll! Not that Dan Jones wouldn’t have a conflict of interest when polling on the caucus system or anything….

…but, c’mon, leftwing Doug is right. Polls from our elite SmartSet™  are gospel. After all, Hillary won by a landslide and Evan McMullin only lost Utah to Trump by a point (courtesy, Dan Jones polling, naturally).

Utah’s Neighborhood Caucus System And Democracy In America

I was reading Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy In America. In a section on public officials, de Tocqueville observed the need for paying those in public office as unpaid offices creates “a class of wealthy and independent officials, to form the core of aristocracy.” He further concludes:

I regard the complete absence of unpaid offices as one of the most visible signs of the absolute empire that democracy exercises in America. Services rendered to the public, whatever they are, are paid: thus, each has not only the right, but the possibility, of rendering them. [Emphasis added]

It struck me that while we don’t have unpaid offices per se, we are headed to ‘bought offices’ and a new form of aristocracy/oligarchy on the electoral side of government. Part of this is perpetuated by the political-media elites in the form of “Count My Vote”/SB54 sophistry and their ongoing 2011 war to crush the neighborhood caucus system. If they succeed, we may retain the right of public office but will virtually lose the possibility of public office.

Through County My Vote and 2014’s SB54 (by State Sen. Curt Bramble), private political parties’ rights were usurped and the state (run by the politically entrenched) dictate how they will conduct business. Now candidates are strongly pushed to circumvent the neighborhood caucus and gather signatures to get on the ballot. This takes large sums of money which the candidate must already have or be aligned with political and media elites.

Furthermore, these elites bank on the fact that bypassing caucuses (where they may fail your neighbor delegates’ vetting), they will automatically trigger a primary race. Primaries cost more money and, again, the advantage goes to the elites with their access to funding and large media backing, particularly if you don’t have a significantly engaged electorate (in contrast to a neighbor delegate). Essentially, they fiscally steamroll better candidates.

Facing a caucus with engaged delegates, the ‘little guy’ without a big saving account who is honest and upholds local area principles and values has the possibility to defeat the big-money backed guy who may have splashy handouts and kitsch but no depth. This happened enough that the rejected political entrenched and Chamber of Commerce got upset. See my post on the neighborhood caucus for specifics on why it is the equalizer and best means of electing good men/women to lead in a republic.

Please don’t fall for their flattering sophistry. Support Keep My Voice and your neighborhood caucus. Let’s keep the possibility alive!

If you’re a delegate, thank you for the time and research you put in to selecting the candidates who best represent your neighborhood. Please consider voting for those candidates who did not gather signatures and stayed with the caucus only – if the signature gatherers’ are so darned keen on a primary, make sure they get one and have an opponent.

For all caucus posts, click here.

Utah Swamp?: The Buckshot Caucus (Sen. Todd Weiler, a member), Daryl Acumen, GOP Chair Rob Anderson, And GOPe Elites

This came into my inbox and I’m printing it below. It describes some ‘very swampy’ and possibly illegal personal-destruction tactics used by those within the local GOP establishment (and deep state within the courts?) against those fighting to retain the caucus (and draw power back from elite power brokers). Those reportedly involved include Daryl Acumen and The Buckshot Caucus which includes GOP Chair Rob Anderson (see link below), local pol Todd Weiler, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, and Utah’s part of Chicago swamp politics, Curt Bramble (naturally):

“GOP Chairman Rob Anderson, Rep. Mike Mckell, Senator Curt Bramble, Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox, and Senator Todd Weiler are members–as well as other prominent political figures in Utah” [Links added and Bramble’s first name spelling corrected].

I have a pretty good suspicion as to who the “political attorney” mentioned in the report likely is but will keep that to myself (UPDATE: Weiler is that attorney) . The email copy/paste is below the fold (click on Continue reading). I’m not holding my breath on any local media reporting since they financially benefit from getting rid of a caucus system.

UPDATE: Bateman has released audio of a voicemail from Weiler related to the lawsuit/$1 mil offer. I also have a list of names who are purportedly members of the Buckshot Caucus (from their facebook group so bear in mind some folks may have been ‘added’ to the group and may not be active participants):

Daryl Acumen, Kathleen Anderson, Rob Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, Bart Barker, Doran Barton, Todd Bauerie, Kelsey Berg, Aaron Bludworth, Curt Bramble, Daniel Burton, David Butterfield, Terry Camp, Brian Chapman, Diane Christensen, Kim Coleman, Joel Coleman, Jon Cox, Spencer Cox, David Damschen, Brad Daw, Mike Deaver, Sophia DiCaro, Dana Dickson, Carl Downing, Tani Downing, Sue Duckworth, Heather Duel, Dan Duel, Kitty Dunn, Nic Dunn, Steve Eliason, Clair Ellis, John English, Scott Ericson, Chase Everton, Lincoln Fillmore, Adam Gardiner, Wade Garrett, BJ Griffin, Heather Groom, Keith Grover, Eric Hafen, Craig Hall, Dave Hansen, Jeff Hartley, Greg Hartley, Timothy Hawkes, Daniel Hemmert, Gabe Henderson, Deidre Henderson, Carolina Herrin, Casey Hill, Kory Holdaway, Greg Hughes, Sean Hullngr, Joe Hunter, Don Ipson, Nathan Ivie, Richard Jaussi, Leslie Jones, Chris Kantil, DeAnn Shmalz Kelly, John Knotwell III, Steve Lockhart, Hannah Lockhart, Stan Lockhart, Jeremy Lyman, Kari Malkovich, Nicole Martin, Boyd Matheson, Brian Maxwell, Dan McKay, Mike McKell, Jeff McNeil, Mike Mendenhall, Ronda Menlove, Enid Mickelsen, Bret Milburn, Raphael Millet, Shawn Milne, Jefferson Moss, Mike Mower, Aimee Newton, Kyle Palmer, Jake Parkinson, Lee Perry, Jeremy Peterson, Erin Preston, Amber Pugmire Johnson, Susan Pulsipher, Joe Pyrah, Holly Richardson, Jeremy Roberts, Jeff Rogers, Michelle Scharf, Mike Schultz, Jacob Scott, Rusty Scott, Jennifer Scott, Doug Short, Richard Snelgrove, Lowry Snow, Robert Spendlove, Howard Stephenson, David Stewart, Jeff Strain, Becky Strain, Stan Summers, Brent Taylor, Dan Thatcher, Barbara Thatcher-Stallone, Norm Thurston, DeLaina Tonks, Natalie Tonks, Paul Tonks, Evan Vickers, Russ Wall, Chuck Warren, David Watts, Hyrum Weibling, Todd Weiler, Nathan Whiting, Ryan Wilcox, Brad Wilson, Mike Winder

Read More »

2018: Utah’s Tax And Spend Legislature, Governor, Our Schools Now and the Salt Lake Chamber Of Commerce

Next time someone wants to tell me Utah has a conservative legislature, they can shove it. They’re either GOP(e) party hacks or entirely clueless.

At the end of the legislative session, the GOP-Governor-Chamber of Commerce group managed to jack up your taxes and enable a flimflam scheme to trick people into raising them further…all during a year of budget surpluses (because it’s not your money and labor, it’s really their money to play with).

Here’s what they did: The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce created yet another front group (Our Schools Now) led by a group of Utah’s wealthy elites. They started a ballot initiative pushing for another big tax increase on everyone but themselves. Then they could count on  their “Available Jones” (aka Governor Herbert) along with their shills in the legislature to cut a deal with them – much like the tactic used to begin to crush Utah’s neighborhood caucus system (in the form of SB54 a few years ago). Herbert is now out there on some dog-and-pony show about how he ‘saved’ everyone from some big tax increase. It’s total baloney.

What Herbert and the legislature did (again) is save the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce from spending their own money to run a ballot initiative that was likely to fail. Instead, they passed a couple of increases and will also use your money to fund a tax increase question for the next election. C’mon, when you’re a special interest group tied with the political elite, someone else pays for your initiatives.

So here’s the damage:

  1. They will encourage local governments to further raise the sales tax to dish more cash to the corrupt and fiscally irresponsible Utah Transit Authority (UTA) or its new name, the Transit District of Utah. UTA is (surprise!) promoted by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and politically well connected.
  2. They “froze” the rate of the state property tax dedicated to education for five years thereby exempting it from truth-in-taxation hearings . Sounds good, right? Nope. Normally counties drop the tax rate as your home valuation increases as they have a cap on how much they can collect each year. This ‘freeze’ holds the rate regardless of valuation which will result in a surplus (of your money) they will harvest.
    Tip: Be on guard for them extending the freeze in perpetuity and expanding it to other entities that take property taxes. Also watch for an increased tempo of home value evaluations to further boost their take. Face it, property taxes combined with spendthrift politicians mean you never really own you home.
  3. They will shove a question on the next election ballot asking for a 33% increase in the gas tax from $0.29/gallon to $0.39/gallon.
    Here’s the flimflam: A few actual conservative legislators asked that they phrase the ballot question to include the percent increase (33%) or the old/new rate (0.29-0.39/gallon), thus giving voters clarity and context. Niet! said our liberal GOPe legislators and blocked the motion. Now the Chamber et al. can try to pull the wool over naive voters and spin the increase as ‘just a small 10 cent increase’. It’s a significant increase ($2.00 per fill-up) and will impact family budgets. In addition, it will not add even one penny to road funds since the amount going to roads from the general fund will be reduced by the amount of the increased fuel tax.
  4. There’s no guarantee the Chamber/Our Schools Now won’t press for more tax increases…which their politicians can then again cave on to ‘save us all from a bigger tax increase’.

I will acknowledge that there was a small decrease in the income tax but overall the average citizen came out on the losing end since all this, along with the last few years of tax increases, is going to hit your family budget. But so long as our political betters and their buddies can continue to spend your cash like drunken sailors, we totally have the most fiscally conservative politicians….ever!

 

Bigger Swamp Playground? Rob Anderson, Count My Vote, And The Utah Republican Party

Earlier this month, I ran across a scathing report on Rob Anderson’s time with the Davis County Republican Party. He’s now Chair of the Utah Republican Party (GOP). I concluded the post with:

Will the state party (or media) address this at all or did Chairman Anderson find a bigger swamp to play in?

I may already have my answer. Two reports are out. A short KUTV blurb (Activist says “Civil War” in Utah GOP, special meeting Saturday). In this, a familiar tone is sounded:

“This disagreement with the governing body, and it’s rogue chair will end up in the courts,” said Bill Olson, retired CEO and Utah transplant, who immersed himself in state Republican politics. “He’s a rogue chair.”

For a more in depth report on what is going on, see the op-ed at Utah Standard News (NewsOp: Anderson Flips Again). The report gives much more background and was helpful for me. It notes that Anderson is attempting to usurp authority and may well be a plant by the Count My Vote folks:

Rather, his actions lend immense credibility to those who suspect he’s colluding with Count My Vote to bankrupt the Party, undermine the Caucus System, and silence the SCC.

As noted in the article, Count My Vote was pushed by high power political-media elites, many of whom stand to benefit from it:

If CMV passes, Utah’s media outlets will make a killing on primary campaign advertising. One political consultant stated “So much of this [CMV] has always been about lining the pockets of the consultant class. As a former (and sometimes current) member of the political consulting class, I can tell you that primaries are money makers for “campaign professionals”, and that mostly means media/ad buys.

Per KUTV, attendees include Teena Horlacher who is very familiar with Anderson’s (and his attorney’s) ‘ethical’ behavior while at the Davis County GOP. Let’s face it, the behavior was very swampy.

Better yet, it seems Anderson will be appointing an attorney for the SCC:

Anderson is also complaining about the special SCC meeting called for this Saturday. He says that the GOP attorney, who hasn’t been confirmed yet, has the opinion that the meeting is outside of GOP Bylaws.

If I were on the Utah GOP’s State Central Committee, I would be extremely careful about the attorney he appoints based on what went down at the Davis GOP. If it turns out to be his Davis County GOP days attorney, David Irvine, it only lends even more credibility to his association with Count My Vote since Irvine was (surprise!) a big proponent of it (just run a web search).

I haven’t heard what came of the Saturday meeting but I’ll try to update this if I find a summary somewhere. In the meantime, the SCC may want to keep an extraordinarily close watch on their indemnification protection…

UPDATE: Here’s a write up on the meeting which includes a link to a video of the entire meeting: UTGOP Chair Fails to Sabotage Successful Special SCC Meeting