Opinionated @ CFE

What Peter Corroon Can Do For Rich County


It’s one thing to talk about the big picture of what a candidate’s approach can do for the state as a whole, or even for the ambiguous “rural areas”. The real question is what any of it means in terms of real action in real places. For example, look at Rich County. With a population hovering around 2,000, it is the epitome of rural. On the surface it may seem like the only future this remote area could have is maintaining a 5-to-1 cows-to-people ratio. Think again.

For instance, did you know that the areas just west of Rudolph, the county seat, have been identified as a plentiful source of wind power? Not only is that potential there, a high-capacity power line passes right through it. Combined with a population eager to get back to work and a climate friendly to developing the area, Rich County could easily add hundreds or thousands of jobs to an area hard-hit by the current economic downturn.

Now this isn’t to say that the cows don’t have any value. In fact, improving the food processing industry in Utah would add significant value to our agricultural sector. Advanced economies cannot exist solely by selling or exporting raw materials. The true mark of a well-diversified and balanced economy consists in taking our raw materials and creating finished products. Even if such manufacturing isn’t immediately in Rich County, it creates demand for the raw materials.

Peter Corroon has publicly stated his commitment to developing these sectors of the economy by being a partner with private industry. His strategies for rural development can help ensure that we don’t get too invested in a single industry or region. For this reason, I encourage you to support Peter Corroon for Utah Governor.

Peter Corroon is the Better Choice for Rural Jobs


All too often, the focus in a state such as ours is on the urban population centers. This often means that rural areas get either ignored or neglected. Just witness how Nevada has been treating its rural population with Las Vegas trying to suck up all of the rural water for its own uses regardless of the farmers or ranchers. This attitude continues the patterns of urban flight and neglects to tap our state’s valuable resources.

Consider which states have been weathering this economy. Most of them are primarily agriculture-based, but they’ve been making significant investments in both the technology and energy industries. Much of this development is occurring outside of major cities. North Dakota, for example, has been working overtime to build up the oil industry and construct hundreds of wind turbines, most of which are out in the boonies. As a result, they have an impressively low unemployment rate and have successfully insulated themselves against any one industry bringing the state down.


Where I Stand 2010: State Constitutional Amendments and Salt Lake County Ballot Question


Every year, I spend a considerable amount of time studying each candidate and, if needed, attempting to contact them to get answers to specific questions. I would strongly encourage each of you to do the same. Here are my picks for the constitutional amendments and county ballot questions.

State Constitutional Amendment A: This amendment is supposed to clarify that all union elections should also be by secret ballot, not just public elections. That said, I see a couple of problems. First off, the current wording should already cover union elections and require a secret ballot. Second, I’m reasonably sure that federal labor regulations via the National Labor Relations Board would end up trumping it (not that I’m particularly fond of said regulations, but you get the point). There’s also no particular current issue abuses by unions that I see going on right now. Basically, it’s another message amendment intended to act as a counter to eliminating the secret ballot at the federal level should the ironically-named Employee Free Choice Act pass. I’m voting YES on Amendment A, but only because I like secret ballots and I think it’s something worth picking a fight over.

State Constitutional Amendment B: This amendment clarifies residency requirements for anyone appointed to fill the remainder of a term of office. Given the recent resignations plaguing the legislature, it’s no wonder such an issue came up. It seems like a reasonable change, so I’m voting YES on Amendment B.

State Constitutional Amendment C: This amendment provides additional tax exemptions to water supply equipment. Apparently it would expand it from irrigation to include selling water to a municipal entity (or at least that’s how I understand it). I guess it’s intended to create incentives for private water rights holders to sell their excess to thirsty cities. Water’s pretty important, though I’m not entirely okay with crafting out special tax rules. I’m voting YES on Amendment C, but with reservations.

State Constitutional Amendment D: This amendment will create a new ethics panel to vet complaints against legislators. Honestly, it’s kind of weak sauce since their only purpose is to investigate a complaint and, if cause is found, refer it back to the House or Senate for action. Either chamber could just sit on it, not a terribly uncommon outcome. All the same, it’s a move in the right direction, and finding cause for the complaint is enough noise to put pressure on the House or Senate to do something. I’m voting YES on Amendment D since it beats the everliving snot out of the UEG petition and moves in the right direction.

Salt Lake County Proposition 1: Really, Salt Lake County? In a year where you hit us with a tax increase AND a police services bill, you come to us asking to pony up a couple more bucks a head for 15 years to build a museum? Doesn’t that seem like asking for a lot? I know, we approved the new Canyons School District bond, so you figure we’re suckers for raising our own taxes at every turn. Here’s a better idea: find the money elsewhere and avoid paying the interest. It’s not that I don’t think that a natural history museum is important, just that I don’t think that it’s important enough to pull out the county credit card. I’m voting NO on Proposition 1 to encourage the county to avoid debt except for essentials.

Why Corroon's Charges are Sticking


A lot of people, including the governor, don’t seem to understand why Corroon’s charges are sticking. It’s so simple, though. Not only did Gary Herbert not deny the factual basis of Corroon’s attacks in a recent KSL debate, he has continually failed to provide any kind of alternate explanation beyond “no I didn’t”. It doesn’t make for a very compelling argument, especially with how flustered the guv has gotten when confronted on those issues.

So what’s the deal, Gary? Is there some other story other than the one Peter tells? If so, do you want to share it with us? Until you do, the accusations have legs.

Where I Stand 2010: County and Local Offices


Every year, I spend a considerable amount of time studying each candidate and, if needed, attempting to contact them to get answers to specific questions. I would strongly encourage each of you to do the same. Here are my picks for the county and local offices.

Salt Lake County Council At-Large B: I was thankfully able to eliminate one candidate in this race almost immediately. Warren T. Rogers spends his entire campaign website talking about federal issues, but not one lick of anything about local things like the townships, transportation, the Unified Police Department and it’s fee… nothing. That kind of gross ignorance cannot be allowed in local governance. It comes down to a race between a well-known (and somewhat combative) journalist, Holly Mullen, and a Republican Party insider, Richard Snelgrove. I e-mailed both candidates some questions and didn’t initially get a response. After a public upbraiding and second round of e-mails, I had received responses from both candidates within a couple of days.


Where I Stand 2010: State Offices


Every year, I spend a considerable amount of time studying each candidate and, if needed, attempting to contact them to get answers to specific questions. I would strongly encourage each of you to do the same. Here are my picks for the state offices.

Governor: In the short time that Gary Herbert has been in the governor’s seat, he’s managed to create a long trail of blunders and screw-ups that are inexcusable. Remember when Las Vegas wanted to siphon off water from Snake Valley? Herbert almost signed a deal to make it happen until it became public and there was an outcry from around the state. How about accepting a $10,000 donation the same day the state grants a first of it’s kind strip-mining permit? Maybe trying to both accept and refuse radioactive waste rings a bell? And how about that $13M payout from UDOT to a losing bidder that he was “virtually unaware” of?  This doesn’t sound like someone who has the best interests of the state in mind.

Peter Corroon isn’t without his faults (cash for clunkers? Really?), but he has been a very effective administrator in Salt Lake County and I don’t feel like he would be running around selling of the state to the highest bidder. He cut the county budget when he had to and wasn’t afraid to raise taxes when he felt it necessary. I want that kind of even-keel leadership, even if his running mate, Sheryl Allen, is a giant yawn. But boring is good. It usually means we can expect a lack of shenanigans.

I’m proud to support Peter Corroon as our next governor.

State Senate 9: Wayne Niederhauser is seeking a second term in the State Senate, and I see little reason to think he doesn’t deserve it. He’s done a lot of grunt work with updating the tax code using his background as a CPA and has been extremely responsive when I e-mail him with a concern, a critical feature in any elected official. My only quibble is his vote for HB150 to expand administrative subpoenas, but every candidate will, sooner or later, make a vote I don’t like.

With a lot in the plus column, Tyler Ayres has an uphill fight to convince me to switch horses. While he ordinarily would be a reasonably good candidate (albeit one I’m not particularly excited about), there’s just not enough reason to vote for him over Niederhauser. Most of his issues read like boilerplate Republican talking points despite being a Democrat, and it makes me feel like he’s taking the Trisha Beck approach to running on and yet away from his party. I don’t much like pandering, and this particular bit doesn’t do much for me.

I’m confident that Wayne Niederhauser will do a fine job with a second term.

State House 48: Two years ago, I expressed concerns at how unresponsive Trisha Beck seemed when I e-mailed her my list of candidate questions. Today, I can see that my concerns were well-founded. Any time I have e-mailed her on an issue of importance to me, I would hear nothing back. Ever. Not even a courtesy “thank you for contacting me” form letter. Look, I know part-time legislators are busy folks, but responding to constituents is part of the territory. If you don’t do that, what good are you?

Lavar Christensen is seeking a re-match of 2008 and is seeking the seat again. I feel that his positions are much more in-line with mine, and, more importantly, he’s always been responsive to communication. If there’s an issue I care about, at least I know he’ll be listening. That counts for a lot.

I’ll be voting to replace Trisha Beck with Lavar Christensen.

Where I Stand 2010: Federal Offices


Every year, I spend a considerable amount of time studying each candidate and, if needed, attempting to contact them to get answers to specific questions. I would strongly encourage each of you to do the same. Here are my picks for the federal offices.

U.S. Senate: Like many Utahns, I wasn’t very happy with Bob Bennett. Unlike many Utahns, I’m not terribly happy with the choices placed before me. Every day, Mike Lee is looking more and more like a panderer that said what needed to be said to get his way into office. I have no doubts that within a couple of terms (if we hold out that long), he’ll be Bennett with better PR.

I’d like to like Sam Granato, but his campaign has, quite frankly, been insulting. He spent months not posting any issues on his website and is running on a “Mike is a loony” platform. Charging along with a textbook case of negative campaigning is not the way to go. Had the Democrats actually nominated Christopher Stout, I would have considered voting for him.

I can’t say that I think too highly of Scott Bradley either. He has about the same platform as Mike Lee, but without the phoniness. Unfortunately, most of his “positions” are rambling and say very little about how he wants to achieve his vision.

In this election, I plan on voting None of the Above. I truly do not feel that any candidate deserves my support at the ballot box. (I’m open to creative write-in suggestions if you have a good one.)

U.S. House of Representatives #2: I’m going to say what most people already know: Jim Matheson is a spineless coward. He thought he pulled off an artful dodge by not voting for the health care “reform” bill before Congress, but we all know that had it come down to needing his vote, he would have given it. Then he spends all of his time dodging angry constituents from both sides, refusing to actually face the consequences for his decisions. I’m sorry, Jim, but you can’t get away with that in any elected position.

While I agree with a large part of Morgan Philpot’s campaign platform, his highly partisan “Matheson is Pelosi” attitude is very off-putting. I don’t feel like that will be very productive, nor do I feel like he’s putting forward much message of his own. I agree much more with Randall Hinton’s platform and have found his positions to be both logical and well-worded. Unsurprisingly, Randall Hinton has my support as the best choice in this race.

Next installment: state races.

A Lack of Communication in the Salt Lake County Council At-Large Race


As a resident of an unincorporated township, I have a special interest in who gets elected to the Salt Lake County Council. After all, I depend on the county for police, fire, garbage, plow, and a host of other municipal services. Sadly, I’m finding that the two candidates I’d like to choose from don’t appear to be very interested in my vote.

On September 30, I e-mailed both Holly Mullen and Richard Snelgrove a series of questions about their candidacy. (I had already eliminated the Constitution Party candidate as entirely unqualified for the office.) As of this writing, I have received no response from either of them. Did I send offensive questions? Did I ask too many? Are they not relevant to the office which they seek? Check them out for yourself and you decide:

1) I currently reside in White City Township, an island surrounded by Sandy. Because of the close geographical proximity to Sandy and dependence on city businesses for darn near everything (gas, groceries, etc.), it almost feels as if we’re a non-voting part of the city. What role do you see the council playing in working with Sandy to insure that the needs of White City are being met?

2) Do you have any opinions about UTOPIA? If residents wanted to form a Special Assessment Area to bring UTOPIA services to their neighborhood, would you support or promote it?

3) While I appreciate the novel way in which the Unified Police District fee is being used to collect revenue in a level way from all property owners, I have concerns that this kind of creativity could provoke a negative response from the Legislature. Do you think any changes need to happen regarding the service fee? If so, what would you propose to augment or replace it?

4) As mentioned above, the legislature can sometimes pass bills targeted at restricting actions by local governments that they do not approve of. Do you currently have a working relationship with anyone in the Legislature so that the county is better heard?

5) It appears that most mass transit in Salt Lake County takes an “all roads lead to downtown” approach. I’m concerned that while this may maximize ridership, it sharply reduces usability for anyone not going there. At the same time, it seems like there’s a news story every few months about how money is being spent unwisely on personnel costs, primarily at the top. What kinds of measures will you propose to improve the operations of UTA?

Huh. Those seem like perfectly reasonable questions to me, but neither Mullen nor Snelgrove will respond. That leaves me to figure out what kind of elected official they would be based on their campaign websites and public profile. This, however, doesn’t end up being helpful at all.

Mullen doesn’t even bother to have an issue section on her website. No, I’m not making that up; go see for yourself. How can a candidate seeking an office to represent over 1M people not even be bothered to state her policy priorities? Combing through the blog on her site yields very little in the way of tangible positions. Most of it is thanking her supporters (who I can only imagine are either hardcore partisans or have the magic decoder ring required to see where she stands) or touting her various endorsements. Occasionally, you’ll find something about a relatively small portion of the job of running the county like old age services or open spaces. There’s nothing on townships, nothing on the policing fee, and nothing on any of the other core services managed by the county. Is Mullen expecting to coast to victory on her name recognition or party identification? It sure seems like it.

Snelgrove at least has the courtesy to list some issues, but it’s a somewhat incomplete list as well. Yes, I’d rather not see a county-funded hotel either and I like open spaces, but what about transportations, townships, and getting along with the legislature? There’s also the partisan attacks and constant complaining about liberals. News flash: not everyone is a partisan, and slamming a party with a thin majority in the county isn’t exactly a winning strategy. I’m also not impressed that Snelgrove goes on the attack about tax increases, yet fails to mention the deep cuts that the county made just the year before. Selective truth-picking isn’t a good quality.

For both of them, I have little hope that constituents will be heard after the election. They appear to both be content with the close supporters calling the shots. Failing to respond to an inquiry from a voter does not bode well for the future of the seat.

UPDATE: Both of them got back to me after a second e-mailing. I know campaigns are busy, but I don’t like how this bodes for future communications attempts.

Endorsement: Steve Wrigley for Canyons School Board #5


School board is one of those positions that, like city council, not enough voters pay attention to. When they do pay attention, it is all to often a reaction to an unpopular policy, not proactive involvement. I don’t yet have any children enrolled in a public school, but that means now is the time to get involved, before the bad decisions get made.

I want to preface this with saying that I think all of the four candidates vying for the seat are good candidates. I did not dismiss any one of them out-of-hand because they all sound like reasonable people that won’t do anything too rash. (Of course, how do you know until they are there?) Each of them responded to my e-mail inquiries within 24 hours, so responsiveness is not an issue. Each of them provided detailed answers to my questions either via phone or e-mail and it appears that they have all put some thought into running for this position.

Even though all of them are good candidates, one stands apart from the rest: Steve Wrigley. I feel that he has both a good understanding of how the district is currently operating combined with a willingness to try out new things to see if they will work, but not without doing some research ahead of time. Some of his main planks include moving 9th grade to high school and 6th grade to junior high to better utilize existing facilities, increasing building energy efficiency with an eye towards a reasonable ROI, better partnerships with local governments and businesses, and exploring the use of ebooks to replace costly textbooks. Despite his plethora of ideas, I came away with the feeling that he will not grow complacent with the status quo and always be looking for ways to improve how the district operates.

I would encourage each of you who can to vote for Steve Wrigley in the Tuesday primary for Canyons School Board #5.

Note: below is contact information for all of the candidates currently running. The Salt Lake County Clerk doesn’t list this information online, but will happily e-mail most of it to you on request.

Steven J. Morrison
(801) 842-4303

Steve Wrigley
(801) 598-3894

Melody Shock
(801) 596-0416

C. Grant Hurst
(801) 942-4832

Endorsement: Jeremy Votaw for Salt Lake County Clerk


Four years ago, I was absolutely aghast that Sherrie Swenson would claim that there was nothing wrong with the Diebold voting machines in use by the county despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Her constant denials of any problems rather than taking ownership of the issue demonstrated a lack of real leadership and put me off from ever considering her for public office. It is especially disconcerting that Ms. Swenson is so cavalier about one of her most basic responsibilities, ensuring fair and honest elections.

These problems with our current County Clerk do not automatically guarantee an endorsement for her opponent. I’m perfectly happy to vote “none of the above” when it suits me. (I’m seriously considering it for the US Senate race.) Jeremy Votaw, a web designer, is currently running to replace Sherrie Swenson and I e-mailed him to find out a bit more about why he thinks he should be the new County Clerk.

I’m pleased to report that Mr. Votaw is very well-acquainted with the issues facing Diebold voting machines generally and electronic voting machines in particular, but is also realistic in accepting that the decision to purchase said machines can’t be undone due to the sunk cost. As a fellow technologist, I’m also confident that he can use technology to improve operations at the Clerk’s office; I was appalled that I could not find candidate information on their website, but instead had to e-mail to get it. It’s only slightly inconvenient, but why have a person do the job of a machine? I think that belies a need to better modernize the office, something that the current Clerk has had ample time to do.

Is this a perfect choice? No. The snarky exchanges between the two on Twitter over the age of their campaign photos, while hilarious, also made me wince a little at the lack of decorum. (But still, super funny, so I can let it slide.) Given how strongly I feel about Sherrie Swenson’s ignorance on electronic voting machines and the contrasting familiarity with them on the part of  her opponent, I fully endorse Jeremy Votaw to replace her this November.

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