Opinionated @ CFE

SB38 Could Bring Some Sanity to HOV Lanes

Jan
21

I was perusing through the list of bills filed so far up at the hill and came across SB38, Restrictions on High Occupancy Vehicle Lane. This adopts a practice used in many other states that turns HOV lanes into normal lanes outside of peak traffic hours defined in the bill as 6AM to 9AM and 4PM to 7PM. This would certainly be a welcome change to help lessen congestion outside of the morning and evening commutes.

Even so, I see a few tweaks worth considering before it hits the final version. The lane restrictions would remain in effect all days of the week, not just on weekdays. Given the low traffic on Saturdays and Sundays, it would make sense to amend the bill so that HOV restrictions are only in effect Monday through Friday. I also question the wisdom of removing the double white lines and restricted lane access. I could see suspending the rules of lane entry and exit during non-peak hours, but during peak hours you have crazy drivers darting in and out to make a quick pass, even if they are ineligible to use the lane at that time. That’s why they were put there in the first place.

I’ve already e-mailed Sen. Karen Morgan to provide this feedback. Even without modification, I think this is a good common-sense bill that should be passed.

A Double Standard on the Base

Jan
21

Just so I’m clear: In the wake of electoral defeat, Republicans decide to do more to appease their base and Democrats start the meme that they’re “doubling down on crazy”. Now when Democrats are in the wake of electoral defeat, they decide the solution is to… do more to appear their base, yet this isn’t also “doubling down on crazy”? Help me understand the disconnect on this double standard. I really don’t get it.

The Real Massachusetts Lesson

Jan
20

There’s a lot of buzz now that Republican Scott Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley for the US Senate seat in Massachusetts left vacant after Sen. Ted Kennedy’s death. Both sides are trying to find the hidden meaning behind such an upset. Was it a referendum on President Obama’s job performance? Maybe a signal that voters are unhappy with the direction that health care reform has taken? General anger at Congress or specific anger at Democrats? While I’m sure these were mitigating factors, they completely ignore the real lesson to be learned, a lesson straight out of Political Science 101. And what lesson might that be?

All it takes is one word to define the campaign: arrogance, as in Coakley had plenty of it. She made an assumption that after winning the Democratic primary for the special election, she could coast to an easy victory on the wide margin of registered Democrats and endorsements from the late Sen. Kennedy’s relatives. As a result, she didn’t actively campaign for the office until polls showed that the race was very close. By then, it was far too late. Brown had positioned himself as a moderate and had taken control of the narrative. It also didn’t help that Coakley was about as personable as a stereotypical movie high school nurse. This wasn’t helped by her now infamous “Yankee fan”, “World Trade Center”, and “emergency room” flubs, none of which helped to make her appear more personable or in-touch with the state.

This was basically a perfect storm: a personable hard campaigner went head-to-head with an arrogant and lazy foot-in-mouth candidate and won the day. The lesson to be learned here is that running a strong campaign can make any seat unsafe, especially when the opponent is more-or-less asleep at the wheel. An advantage in registered voters means nothing if you do not retain that advantage at the polls. Reading any further than that into this special election may be fun or personally satisfying, but it distracts from the real lesson to be learned.

On a more local note, Utahns should be taking note. Republicans used to coasting to an easy victory can still lose races. Just look at what happened to Greg Curtis.

Why I Support Peter Corroon for Governor

Jan
11

As of late last week, the field for governor shaped up as a battle between sorta incumbent Gov. Gary Herbert and Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon. Herbert hasn’t been at the helm for very long, but I already have a pretty good feel for where he’s heading, and I’m not entirely sure I like it. Like many other Utahns, I’m pretty ticked off about rolling over to the Southern Nevada Water Authority and totally hosing rural ranchers and farmers in Snake Valley. I’m also not very impressed that he’s decided to more-or-less give EnergySolutions the green light to truck in whatever the heck it is they want to from whatever state they want to. It remains to be seen if he can truly pull a rabbit out of hat to balance this year’s budget (I have a feeling he’ll pull it off), but he seems to be a bit too wary of tax increases, even if they end up being necessary.

Mayor Corroon, on the other hand, has proven himself a very capable executive in the largest county in the state. He stood fast on opposing tax increases when they weren’t necessary and proposing raising taxes when it was. I don’t feel like Salt Lake County is rolling in excess and I’m glad we have a mayor who’s willing and able to call those shots, even when it may be politically unpopular. I like taxes as low as possible just like the next guy, but I also realistically understand when things are more expensive and that you will always reach a point at which you can’t cut any more. (This in no way insinuates that there can’t be more belt-tightening at the county level, but the effort required to find more cuts may not be worth the final amount.) I’m also confident that if Corroon was governor, we wouldn’t be hand-wringing about Las Vegas water grabs or depleted uranium.

That’s what I want from a governor, someone who defines quality of life as something greater than tax revenues. I don’t feel like Gov. Herbert has done a good job in that regard, but Mayor Corroon has already proven himself by fighting the soccer stadium handout to millionaire crybaby Dave Checketts (who somehow found the money to later buy the Rams), opposing taxes when they weren’t necessary, supporting them when they are, and generally being a good manager, just what we need in the executive branch. I hope you’ll join me in supporting Mayor Corroon’s bid for higher office.

Populism and Opportunism

Jan
06

One inevitable side effect of any wave of populism is that you’re going to have opportunists looking to latch onto that wave as quickly as they can. With the recent wave of anti-federal sentiment courtesy of the tea party movement, the hollow rings of opportunism have reached a similar crescendo. They range from the somewhat plausible to the laughably transparent (I’m looking at you, Orrin Hatch). To those of us with a track record of opposing the never-ending reach of federal power, it’s galling to find a bunch of wannabes and hypocrites attaching themselves to these ideals while simultaneously stoking the bonfire of crazy that seems to accompany it. It doesn’t just insult our intelligence, it makes us look bad.

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