Primary Election Issue: Yes, The 2018 Utah Legislature Raised Taxes On Middle Class Families

If you haven’t noticed yet, take a look at your recent paycheck. If you have a family and have a middle class income, you may notice that your take home pay went down. But how can this be? We were told the legislature (slightly) lowered the income tax rate from 5.00% to 4.95%. Yes, but they also knowingly did nothing about the removal of personal deductions. The Trib article,“Utahns with large families could be paying a lot more in state taxes next year”, and it’s associated impact table (be sure to look at it!) sum it up:

The Utah Legislature passed a 0.05 percent income tax cut this year but took no action on changes in federal tax law that eliminated personal deductions. The decision means most Utah taxpayers will pay more in state tax in 2019 even though their overall tax bills will be lower because of the federal cuts.

Legislators and he Governor were well aware of the need to address the changes and certainly better not claim ignorance:

For example, an $80,000-a-year family of seven with one disabled child might currently itemize deductions equal to about 20 percent of income and end up with a state tax bill of $2,200. Next year, that family will do better claiming the standard deduction. But they will lose $17,000 in other deductions, and their tax bill could jump by $1,000, or 45 percent.

Lawmakers knew all this back in January, when the state Tax Commission reported a potential $80 million windfall for the state thanks to federal tax changes and outlined the “average Joe” impacts. The cost of the income tax cut the Legislature eventually approved was about $55 million — an amount more than offset by that windfall.

But for about the same cost, lawmakers could have taken action to preserve the state personal exemption and pass along those savings to taxpayers — something that neighboring Idaho did this year by creating a state child tax credit.

House Bill 385 was such a bill. Introduced by first-termer Rep. Tim Quinn, R-Heber City, it didn’t even get out of committee, a victim of other priorities.

Yes, they had “other priorities”…like helping political cronies such as UTA with millions for a name change. Maybe another priority was creating a bridgehead for an education ‘head tax’ on children but they didn’t have the guts to debate it in the open. Instead, they chose to sneak one through on taxpayers and Governor Herbert went along with it.

Since it’s primary season and an election year, this issue would be a good one to bring up to incumbent state legislators (such as Ray Ward in South Davis County) and opposing candidates.

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!


UTA Joined By Governor Herbert To Fleece Taxpayers

Governor Herbert came out with another bright idea for his Utah Transit Authority (UTA) buddies: More money!

Utah’s governor proposes taking gas tax money to pay for transit improvements

Tucked into the governor’s annual budget recommendations is a proposal to dip into funds normally earmarked for road repairs to pay for improvements to mass transit…

…The gas tax that you pay when you fill up your vehicle is normally spent at the Utah Dept. of Transportation to fix roads. Shifting some of the funds toward improvements in bus and train service might help get people out of their cars.

The governor detailed his idea while speaking to the Salt Lake Chamber earlier this week…

So Herbert (while hanging out with his co-Governor, the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce) would like to pilfer road repair funds and funnel them to the UTA. The same UTA that comes with baggage such as travel and land deal scandals, waste highlighted by the State Auditor, and getting sweet tax-funded bailouts.

If they manage to pull off this stunt, the next ruse, when road repairs are delayed due to ‘lack of funding’, will be to cry about the desperate, unforeseeable need to raise the gas tax to fund the roads in critical need of repair. Of course, they’ll expect everyone will have forgotten the transfer to UTA by then.

It’s another episode of cronies paying off cronies.

*This post has received the Available Jones (TM) seal of approval.

Prop 1: Funding The UTA Money Pit With Government Kickbacks

Back in June, I warned that I would be surprised if city and county governments didn’t put the UTA tax on ballots because of the “incentive” the legislature gave them. It’s a fiscal incentive better known as a ‘kickback’ which would normally be highly unethical if not illegal but since the legislature did it, it’s ok…  Please read the above linked post for details on the kickback along with a list of the other tax increases this year and links to UTA’s bad financial audits. You can also go directly to the 2014 audit here or read a related article from the Salt Lake Tribute here “Audit blasts UTA, says it gave millions in sweetheart deals

Rather than reinvent the wheel and post my own summary on why we should oppose Proposition 1, let me paste in an excellent summary I was sent in an email (original author is Heather Williamson):

…Also, we are concerned that another tax is being considered against us. And I mean against, not FOR us. Taxes take more dollars out of our pockets which we can simply can not afford. Governments should be expected to work within their existing budgets just like my family and I have to.

However, I am equally concerned with where our tax dollars are going. Almost half of the tax proposal will go to the Utah Transit Authority. UTA has been less than frugal with their funds. I find it offensive that I am being asked to be more frugal with my money, so UTA doesn’t have to be with theirs.

At the end of 2010, UTA was millions of dollars in debt, and the debt continues to rise. The following year over $600,000 was spent on international travel, which an audit released called these ‘work trips’ unnecessary and a misuse of public funds. UTA also signed a deal with a contractor in Draper, which according to another audit, lacked the proper legal documentation and defied UTA’s own rules and regulations. After the deal experienced failure after failure, UTA lost roughly $2 million dollars and did not seek compensation. The auditors concluded that this put “tax dollars at an unnecessary risk.” According to the same audit, UTA legal counsel advised to recover the $2 million, however the executive board decided that the loss was acceptable.

UTA executive bonuses have totaled close to $2 million dollars a year, and that is not including the bonuses that UTA is withholding to report on. According to the same audit, UTA has not reported all compensation to Utah’s state transparency website. Two years ago, General Manager of UTA made over $400,000; General Counsel made over $350,000; and the Chief Operating Officer made over $300,000 and their compensation continues to rise. This government entity is asking for more money, because it has paid itself into debt. And now they are asking me and the other county residents to restrain our budgets even more to pay for their lack of basic budgeting skills. This sales tax, if approved, will increase UTA revenue by millions a year. However, when does it stop?

I have nothing further to add other than to ask you to please vote NO on Prop 1.

Early Warning: City Tax Increases For UTA And Kickbacks (Update)

The Bountiful City Council is poised to pursue recommending tax increase on the November ballot.  Likely they used this vapid, boilerplate resolution provided to them from the Utah League of Cities and Towns (ULCT – a tax-funded municipal lobbying group that lobbies the legislature to increase you taxes – go figure).

Basically, if they are able to pass the tax increase, UTA  (Utah Transit Authority) will get 40% of it for improving their service (…and free up funding for more outrageous executive bonuses). Meanwhile cities get 40% of the take and counties get 20%. Effectively, the legislature set this scheme up so everyone get’s a juicy kickback by getting this thing passed. As one person I know put it: Imagine if the city were to agree with Comcast to slap a fee on every homeowner for Comcast internet improvements under the agreement that Comcast will give the city/county 20-40% of the fee?

Of course, if Comcast and the city rigged a deal like this, there would be an investigation and things would not be pretty.  However, since government and a government-spronsored private organization (UTA) is involved, this is somehow kosher.

This tax will be on top of several new, and proposed 2015 taxes/fees (note there may be more, these are just off the top of my head):

  • Statewide property tax increase of $46/average home ($250K, I think) (SB97)
  • State gas tax increase (now 12% which also automatically increases the revenue as wholesale price increases up to a threshold of $0.40/gallon (HB362)
  • Directed by the Utah Legislature (SJR6) Chaffetz has proposed a law that would require all online businesses to collect Utah sales tax from Utah citizens

Fortunately for cities, ULCT (along with Utah Chamber of Crony Capitalists-afilliated groups and front organizations) is going to help cities with the get-out-the-vote campaign (see the “When” section). Based on the aforementioned resolution and linked document, cities are likely to make hay of their road maintenance shortfall to convince you to spit up 40% overhead to UTA. Quite frankly, the shortfall is of their own doing – if they would’ve focused on core government functions instead of pet projects like recreation centers, theater for plays, art displays/festivals, special-interest museums, etc (see the tags linked above). Maybe it’s time they check their priorities and adjust such first before further burdening families.

Unfortunately, for those who expect some fiscal responsibility and oppose these intra-governmental kickback schemes, things will be tough. The above crony groups will use their coffers to swamp the media with ads etc as they will see a return on investment (at your expense) and attack opponents as ‘miserly’ for such a small increase (again, ignore the other increases this is heaped on).  Plus, they also have the advantage of  the “Concentrated versus Diffuse Interests” effect so eloquently identified by Milton & Rose Friedman many years ago.

Good times ahead, or something.

UPDATE (8/18): The Davis County Commission voted to stick the measure on the ballot:

The motion was unanimous with votes from Commissioners.
Milburn – on the UTA Board of Trustees.
Smith – CEO of  Davis Chamber of Commerce – Chambers are involved in PR for the tax increase (see my above link), I’m betting Davis Chamber will chip in too…
Petroff who stated: “putting the sales tax increase on the ballot is not a hard decision for me.”

UTA’s ‘not so dazzling’ State audit reports can also be found (via Evelyn Everton’s twitter) at the links:

UPDATE (10/17): The ballot proposal is known as Proposition 1 (“Prop 1”).  Please vote NO on this most recent piece of crony capitalism (see also today’s post: Prop 1: Funding The UTA Money Pit With Government Kickbacks).

UPDATE (2016): For historical reference, Bountiful’s City Council passed the “vapid resolution” unanimously on June 23, 2015.

Going For Broke: UTA Demands Tax Increase, Parties In Europe (UPDATE)

Just off the high of a sweat cloaked bailout from the 2013 Legialature, news came out that UTA wants a 66% increase in it’s share of sales tax. It seems they were unable to properly plan for and budget for their various high profile line (rail etc) expansions. The PR of new goodies is just too tempting, I suppose. Despite the apparently poor planning, UTA execs got large bonuses on your dime:

The Salt Lake Tribune reported this month that top UTA executives split $750,000 in bonuses last year by meeting goals that critics say are too easily met. Even former UTA Chief Executive Officer John Inglish received a $22,700 bonus even though his then-mostly advisory job had him mainly traveling to represent UTA at industry meetings, while receiving other compensation of $364,000 a year…

Better yet, Utah Transit Authority execs and their legislative supporters decided now would be a great time for a European vacation:

The day after the Utah Transit Authority began seeking a 66 percent increase in its share of sales taxes, four top UTA officials — including the same person who asked legislators for that increase — jetted off to Switzerland to look at mountain transportation systems.

They are spending $1,600 each for round-trip airfare and $200 each per night on hotel rooms for five nights, plus food and other incidentals, the UTA acknowledged in response to Tribune inquiries. They also took six legislators and a lobbyist with them — but UTA said they are paying their own way.

As for the “paying their own way” line, I can’t help wonder if the legislators (Representatives Greg Hughes, Brad Dee, Don Ipson, Brad Last and Johnny Anderson and Senator Evan Vickers) used campaign funds to ‘pay their own way’. Such funds are often provided by lobbyist donors such as Jeff Hartley, who is UTA’s lobbyist…and also on the trip.

Representative Janice Fisher summed it up well:

“I question their judgment on spending this kind of money on top of the firestorm that’s going on concerning bonuses and the cutting of services and the debt they are in…”

Just wait ’till she hears about how much UTA’s blowing on travel:

International travel has been among controversies UTA has faced recently. Last year, the Tribune reported that UTA had spent $600,000 in a year and half on travel. For example, former CEO John Inglish had traveled to Belgium, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Mexico, Spain (twice), Switzerland, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and 17 U.S. cities. He averaged 1.6 trips a month.

Hughes traveled for UTA to Switzerland, Hong Kong, Australia, San Antonio, Sacramento, Portland (three times) and Washington, D.C.

Not to worry though, we’re being so tough on them that UTA felt it necessary to petition their board to lower targets for bonuses.

UPDATE: Freshly back from their trip, UTA reps and legislators proudly declare blowing tax money and lobbyist funds on the junket was totally worth it. Note that this time the reporter did mention that ‘pay their own way’ really means lobbyists paid their way through legislators’ campaign funds:

…Accompanying them were six legislators — including Hughes, who is also the House Republican whip — who said they paid their own way, or used a mix of personal and campaign funds.

In more local news, Bountiful feels icky about it but decided to drop $15,000 to UTA anyway.  At least that will pay for one Swiss trip costs.

Utah’s Clean Air Dupe: Endless Tax Increases, CNG Monopoly, And UTA’s Stealth Bailout

UPDATE: Herbert has signed the bill.  He’s bailed out his buddies and created a new, cloaked and uncontrolled taxation vehicle.  Progressives rejoice.

Who can say they don’t want clean air?  So that should justify any action that would creates a government-ordained monopoly and open a larger avenue for tax increases that entirely undermine truth-in-taxation?  Apparently.  Just look at the end result of SB275 (“Energy Amendments”).

The legislation gives Questar (“a gas corporation”) a virtual monopoly on CNG (natural gas) stations and infrastructure.  CNG vehicles are an increasing market and prime for expansion.  Rather than allow free enterprise and businesses (small and large) to enter the market and ensure competition, the legislation will strangle the market and provide significant advantage for what will amount to a state utility company (Questar).  Instead of using a competitive process for infrastructure and allowing gas stations meet CNG demands,  the legislature and Governor Herbert are primed to severely restrict entry in the market.    All this amounts to is a juicy shade of big government intervention and crony capitalism.

As a “double whammy”, the legislation allows all layers of government to increase gas rates (“in the public interest”, of course) when they feel like it.  As I’ve well documented Utah cities with a municipal power company are notorious for manipulating rates (overcharging) and transferring the excess into their general funds (see here too).  They then turn around and speciously tout low property taxes (without factoring in the rate manipulation).  If signed by Governor Herbert, the barn door will be thrown wide open for not only cities but also counties, special districts, and the quasi-private Utah Transit Authority (UTA). This action will also surreptitiously help bail-out a financially foundering Utah Transit Authority.

The end result is and end run around truth-in-taxation requirements, gas rates for your home as well as CNG vehicles will rise, and government runs on the Questar bank (while claiming your taxes are low)…with the added bonus of a constriction of market entry and competition.  Milton Friedman in “Free To Choose” warned about the unintended consequences of government-corporate regulatory development.  This is just another case study in the making.

Please call Governor Herbert (801-538-1000) immediately and ask him to veto SB 275 (this is your last chance). Too late – see the update at the top.

For more detailed background information, see this post.

South Davis County And UTA: Preparing For Streetcar Tax Increases

Overpriced Art Center Pet Project: Check.  Next local politicians’ pet project with your money: the erstwhile nixed streetcar project.  In 2010, I warned that the issue could raise it’s head again, especially as we view how politicians and special interests pushed the RAP tax over and over again ultimately employing a divide and conquer strategy to get it passed.  Looks like they going to keep pushing on this one too.  From the Salt Lake Tribune article:

Those communities and the Utah Transit Authority are taking a step toward making that a reality — but probably far in the future, and after conversion from an initial, cheaper-to-build “bus rapid transit” (BRT) line, sort of a TRAX on rubber wheels.

Officials are working out details to join in a $450,000 study on whether to build such a line, where the alignment should be, whether it should be a streetcar, TRAX or BRT — and what kind of economic impacts it could have. That “alternatives analysis,” assisted by a $360,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration, is expected to be completed next year.

Now they can dump $450K of pork (your money) into a study plus the future potential cost of their project.  However, this politicians trough comes with a cherry on top…a tax increase:

What could delay a streetcar or TRAX — and force longer use of the cheaper BRT — is that Davis County has a lower sales tax rate for transit than does Salt Lake County, so less money is available for such projects…

…”In order for Davis County to be a player,” Millburn said, increasing the transit sales tax likely will likely have to be addressed “some time.”

I suppose Commissioners Millburn and Downs forgot they were elected due to a tax revolt or figure increasing by drips and drabs will go unnoticed.  The end result is the same: more tax burdens on families.

The 2012 Bountiful City Power Rate Overcharge

Another year goes by and Bountiful City continues to use it’s power company (Bountiful Light and Power) to intentionally overcharge customers in order to secure over two million dollars for it’s general fund…and conveniently avoid any truth-in-taxation rules.  The taxation rule is avoided by manipulating power rates to increase the transfer to city coffers.  Later, the city will crow about it’s low tax rate despite the cloaked tax in the power rates.  When that is added in, the tax rate is not much to crow about – past calculations adding in the the power transfer effectively doubles the tax rate.

This year the transfer comes to $2.28 million. That’s about an $80,000 increase from last year and may take into account last year’s rate hike they imposed and could also include the mandatory recycling fee increase (depends on how that fee can be used – the recycling firm may have demanded more money).

Previous years’ analyses have consistently shown that Bountiful residents are charged significantly higher electric rates and “customer charges” compared to the private (and heavily regulated) Rocky Mountain Power.  I don’t have time to crunch numbers this year (rates or taxes)…maybe I’ll try next week…or the week after.

Republican Delegates Beware II: Consolidated Post On Davis County Candidates (Liljenquist Senate Seat)

Full Disclosure: Friend(s) may also officially enter the race and my father (Ron) is now on the ballot.  I will also put up my gripes (to include my father) if/when they enter the race.  Also be aware that this blog is maintained separate from my father’s campaign and is not affiliated with his campaign.  His campaign items can be found at the referenced site.

UPDATE(1/2/12): Added several updates and made this a sticky post.  Also, I recommend delegates read “Introspection: Legislator Ethics Versus Delegates and Voters – The Double Standard” and consider if they are falling into the trap (particularly with Mr. Shumway).

I decided to write a consolidated post on the various candidates which I will keep a running update on as more, if any, candidates definitively run for Senator Dan Liljenquist’s vacated Utah Senate seat.  Right now there are three who are definitely running.  I, personally, liked Dan Liljenquist.  While not always in agreement with his positions, he was a fairly dependable conservative on the issues I followed.  It would be nice to have someone like him fill the seat and not wind down to a liberal republican.

Before anyone freaks out about being negative on candidates, understand that the candidates will cover all the positive spin stuff on their sites and I don’t need to regurgitate it here.  My decision is also based on a Michelle Malkin’s “nose clips” post on the presidential candidates – I found it to be an excellent means of disclosure and clarity in knowing what you are getting with your vote (the political ‘truth in advertising’ equivalent).  Caveat emptor, in alphabetical order:

Greg Ericksen

I trust him on defending the neighborhood caucus/delegate system (his thoughts and mine are similar).  But…on illegal immigration, I see a red flag (from his site):

I support Utah legislation passed in 2011 as a stopgap measure rather than an ultimate solution…I support work permits that require accountability for undocumented immigrants…

He’s referring to HB116 which is undeniably unconstitutional (the bill even had a constitutional note attached), passed in the same late session as HB477 with negligible debate (I called it Utah’s Obamacare Legislature).  Unsurprisingly, the rammed ‘down your throat’ legislation ended up having a litany of expected and unexpected flaws (including for the illegal immigrant beneficiaries).  Mr. Ericksen is also involved in Orbit Irrigation products which had a lot of workers walk out to the 2006 May illegal immigrant amnesty rally (indicating Orbit hired plenty of illegal workers).  At the time they pledged action would be taken but who knows if any was.  Hopefully, Mr. Ericksen will reconsider the effects and process employed for this legislation – right now he seems prime for pressure from the illegal worker use protection lobby (which includes the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce).

Update (12/28): I’ve been hearing that he does seem fairly conservative but doesn’t yet have a grasp of the issues (he’s still on the learning curve but progressing).  I messed up and failed to ask about impressions on his stance regarding illegal immigration.

Timothy Hawkes

Here’s what I know for now: He’s pledged to support the caucus system and wants greater participation but doesn’t include any specifics on how he would do so (that can be very important).

His site is ethics heavy but doesn’t have many specifics other than promising only to run for two terms.  I hope by ethics he doesn’t mean the Utahns for Ethical Government scheme which is much more about power than ethics.  Note: Mr. Hawkes has elaborated on this in the comments section.

Other than that, his site lacks specifics (see update below) but may be in development.  I’ll add more as time permits.

Update (12/28): I’ve been heard him speak recently and he does seem fairly conservative but also is still gaining a grasp of the issues (also on the learning curve).  It was nice to hear that Mr. Hawkes has joined in running a shoe string campaign and not trying to influence votes by buying delegates lunches and dinners etc.  Note that also brings some challenges (see Ron Mortensen section).

Ken Holman

UPDATE (1/2/12): I have been told that Ken Holman has exited the race and is no longer a candidate.

***Under Construction***

So far, I know he’s a former Centerville Councilman and is heavily involved in real estate and appears to partner with the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.  The Realtors are a major lobbying/special interest force as is the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.  The Chamber and Realtors lobbied for HB116 (illegal immigrant amnesty – see Ericksen section) and both have a track history for corporate welfare (like the Utah new home purchase credit).

I have no idea on his personal stance regarding preserving the neighborhood caucus but the SL Chamber had plenty in attendance at the exclusive meeting where Jowers et al launched their effort to kill Utah’s caucus system (see Shumway section) and consolidating influence for political elites and big donors.

Update (12/28): The only feedback I’ve heard was that some delegates felt lukewarm about him as a conservative.  Sorry – it’s not much to go on.  Hopefully more will arise – as a former councilman he must have a record.  I’m not sure if he was on the council when the tax-raising recreation center, RAP tax, theater, and recycling votes took place.

Glen Jenkins

***Under Construction ***

On his site he is reasonably specific on education but appears to be still developing positions on some other issues.  He didn’t list anything on the caucus system, illegal immigration, or ethics.  As I previously stated, he’s a semi-late entry and is either still getting his issues up or on the learning curve.  He does, otherwise, appear reasonably conservative.  One caution, similar to Holman is his service on the Woods Cross City Council – what was his record there regarding the recreation center, RAP tax, theater, and recycling along with any private property restricting ordinances (if any).

Ben Lusty

***Under Construction***

12/28 – I found out he is a ‘late entry’ into the race.  I understand several delegates did like him and believe he’s also conservative but they also noted that he was a bit shaky on issues and is on a learning curve right now.  No surprise, since he just started.

I’ll try to update if/when I have time.

Ron Mortensen

Disclosure: Ron is my father.

Well I guess you can say this is now a festivus post and we’re at the family “airing of grievances”.

First, he is fully committed to defending the neighborhood caucus and has played significant role in identity theft, illegal immigration, and legal immigration legislation*.

In keeping with his belief in governmental fiscal responsibility, citizen representation, and avoiding special interest influence, he runs low budget campaigns eschewing lobbyist/big donor money.  That means he relies on an engaged electorate willing to accept detailed pamphlets etc over expensive colorful, puff piece cards with bullet two ‘policy’ bullet points.  That works for the caucus/convention system but is tougher during primary/general elections when many (disengaged) voters ultimately prefer the expensive puff card (face it, voters say they hate $$ in politics but they like the product).  It also means he is targeted by big donors and lobbying groups who see a potential loss of influence.

Along with the above, in the past he’s pledged not to attend closed legislative caucus sessions sponsored by an interest group (they usually provide lunch) as it provides an exclusive perk to the sponsors unavailable to regular citizens (shuts out Joe Blow).  He’s said he’ll be happy to sit out in the hall eating his peanut butter sandwich and meeting with constituents.  That can also mean that he will miss out on some tactical strategy talk by colleagues (they could fill him in later, but that assumes time is available to do so).

He is quite analytical.  He doesn’t go into paralysis by analysis but just dumping something on him and expecting an immediate answer (unless it’s something he’s already knowledgeable about), you’ll have to wait.  He will take some time to study the issue and it can be longer than impatient folks like me want.  Snap decisions are not something he likes to do.

*Regarding the recent legal immigration legislation (HB469) he, to my knowledge, still supports, I supported it too but have since retracted my support and called for its repeal due to Constitutional issues I did not realize (I doubt many do) exist with the legislation.  Please read the linked post for details on why the 10th Amendment does not apply.  Note: he may be re-evaluating his position on HB469 but I can’t confirm that until he returns, sorry.

He’s also out of the country filling in on a humanitarian mission with limited contact capability on this.  Delegate contact will be negligible until his return.  His timing totally sucks but no one knew when Liljenquist would resign and the schedule thereafter.  Murphy’s Law.

Now, on to the feats of strength…

Randy Shumway

He gets a staunch “no way” from me.  He’s aligned with those who seek to kill the neighborhood caucus system, thereby shifting power to the political elites and big donors.  Delegates and neighborhoods would be effectively locked out of the process.  Shumway not only attended Jower’s Alta Club meeting which initiated the effort to neutralize caucuses, but is also part of the Dan Jones and Cicero Group and serves on the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Governors.  These groups had multiple attendees at Jowers’ meeting. He is also part of the Chamber’s Capitol Club which recently hosted a meeting on neutralizing the neighborhood caucus with Kirk Jowers and LaVarr Webb presenting.

He’s also received what I called a reverse endorsement from Republican turned Democrat, Sheryl Allen.

Update (12/28): Mr. Shumway contacted me and stated that he is supportive of the caucus system and would like to see “greater consistency in the system” but it is not a campaign priority at this time and should be handled within the party (Note: my above concerns about his actions toward the caucus system remain – especially given his financial backers – see 1/2/12 update).  He didn’t remember much from the aforementioned meeting and believed it had more to do with education than the caucus system.  I maintain that the meeting was the launchpad for the Jowers’ push on the caucuses.  He stated that he’s not part of the Capitol Club but part of the SL Chamber’s Board of Governors.  I didn’t follow up but just took another look at the linked Capitol Club roster and he’s on it (is it a typo?).  We very briefly discussed the SL Chamber on illegal immigration/identity theft and he did not take  a position.  The SL Chamber has consistently opposed enforcement measures, identity theft prevention via E-verify and was a driving force behind HB116.

UPDATE (1/2/12): Phill Wright on his blog, related to a meet the candidates event, noted that Mr. Shumway came out against HB116 but ultimately gave him a “D-” grade.  I’m also left scratching my head given those who will soon financially support a potential war chest for him are folks behind the effort to neutralise the caucus system and a major force behind HB116.  I hope delegates do not fall for the smooth talk and focus on the issues and who is supporting him and why [edits made on 1/5/12].

Richard Siddoway

***Under Construction***

I just heard a rumor that he is running and would, likely, be a last-minute entry.  I would guage him as the UEA-backed candidate given his past associations.  As I recall, he was a Utah House Representative and I think would be reminicent of Sheryl Allen (not something I’m keen on).  I don’t have any other specific information on his positions at this time.

Todd Weiler

He has stated that he’s supportive of the caucus system and will fight to preserve it.  I wasn’t able to turn up any links to formal articles or statements on caucuses. He’s been in the party leadership structure since 2003.  Mr. Weiler is not supportive and derisive of the Tea Party movement going as far as implying supporters are not “normal people” (also taking a jab a Mike Lee).  I believe he was a Senator Bennett supporter and received $2000 from Bennett in 2009-2010.

Mr. Weiler, however, has had some ethical bumps in the road as recent as this year.  The most recent (this year at the Davis County Republican Convention) was breaking Convention rules and speaking on a resolution despite not being a delegate.  I knew a complaint was lodged at the time.  Then he brushed it aside when asked. Recently, however, I found out that action appears to have been taken in the matter as both he and then Chair Bouwhuis issued apology letters to the current chair.  While trying to turn up references on the caucus system, I stumbled onto a post on cronysim exhibited by party leadership (2008) in which Weiler was also mentioned.  The issue raised in the post was also corroborated by a Deseret News article.

He was a staunch supporter of HB116 (see Ericksen’s section) at the recent County Convention and spoke (the above mentioned violation) to oppose a resolution calling for the flawed legislation to be repealed and replaced.  Hopefully he will reconsider his support of the bill and the process enacted for passage.

That’s all for now.  As noted, if others officially join the race, I will try to keep up.