Monday, January 30, 2006

Get paid to murder?

So HB63 is sailing through approvals, as it should. This bill would make it so that a person who commits murder would not have claim to the estate of the victim. An article in yesterday's Deseret Morning News states "The potential is huge. Such a loophole could be used by a convicted murderer to heap even more pain on a victim's family by dragging them through yet another trial." I agree. This loophole needs to be closed. It appears that this is going to happen as the bill has received no opposition so far.

Remove Sales Tax on Food?

Why are some people in the State Senate so hesitant to remove the sales tax on food? Maybe it's because the municipal governments of Utah are a powerful lobbying force. The ULCT (among others) raised concerns recently that removing the sales tax on food might hurt bond ratings in some cities. My opinion on this matter is that cities are afraid to raise property taxes. They would much rather keep the sales tax on food, then give up the money and go to property owners and say we need x amount of dollars to function. Some other ways that cities make these increases without raising property taxes is to implement other taxes (for example a telecommunications tax). Why does it seem like local officials in Utah are afraid to go to their residents and say "We have this amount budgeted for the following services. In order to accomplish this, we have to cut back some of these services or raise your property taxes by X%." I believe that Utah residents are well educated enough to know whether they should cut back on certain services or pay more in property taxes to fund those services that they deem important. It has been said by many people recently that Utah's tax system is in need of an overhaul. An overhaul to me doesn't mean change a little here and a little there. An overhaul means major changes all across the board.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Show some Skin, get a link!

Utah Policy Daily today linked to a post by another blogger. What struck me as interesting is this post is about an event that happened three years ago. This wasn't an event that everbody remembers where they were when they heard about it (except those involved). It was a peace demonstration with naked women. So why did UPD think it was interesting enough to post in their blog watch? Who knows. Maybe peace is an interesting topic. Or maybe it's because naked people and their pictures seem to attract attention.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Government Employment is Great

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune talks about West Bountiful's new mayor firing the police chief, Mike Wright. Wright is quoted in the article as saying: "I asked for an explanation, and he didn't give me one," [Wright] said. "I'm 52 and I've never been fired before." Welcome to being a department head in the government realm. There are mayoral elections at least every four years in every Utah city. With those elections comes the chance of an administration change. With that administration change comes the chance of a department head being replaced. If you don't like this, then maybe you're better suited for a job in the private sector. Keep in mind though, even in the private sector, job changes are made and department heads are replaced.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Trust the Voters!

Why do elected officials not trust the voters that elected them? There are currently two Senate Bills at the state legislature that deal with, in my opinion, not trusting the voters. S.B. 47 and S.B. 156 both remove rights from the general populace. Apparently our Senators trust us enough to elect THEM, but not enough to believe we will elect the right person in the future.
My belief is if somebody wants to be elected to a position, ANY position, they should get out and campaign amongst their constituents. Knock on doors. Talk to people. Hold cottage meetings. I know these may be novel ideas to many elected officials, but, guess what people? IT WORKS!
In the meantime, the people who at one time trusted their constituents to elect them, should trust their constituents to elect others.
Senators, say NO to S.B. 47 and S.B. 156!

Friday, January 20, 2006

HB101 small step in right direction

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune discusses House Bill 101, titled "Lobbyist Gift Limits and Disclosure." This bill would require lobbyists (which is not a four-letter word) to disclose any gift over $5 given to legislators. As I mentioned in a previous post, if the public perception is that lobbyists have more influence than constituents, then changes must be made. This bill takes a small step in that direction. Rep. Dave Cox (R) - Lehi is quoted in the article as saying: "I have not seen a problem up here in this state at all." I wonder what state he was in when he said that.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

GRAMA's fine

I read through HB0012 and I don't think it's a good piece of legislation. Having been on a City Council previously, I've personally seen GRAMA (Government Records Access and Management Act) in real world use. I think that the way GRAMA is currently written, is just fine. Currently it provides the proper protection to government with also allowing the public to know what is going on in "their" government. Remember we are supposed to have a government "for the people". The changes suggested by this legislation will, in my opinion, only provide more protection for government officials that may want to hide things from the public.
Some things such as GRAMA are best left the way they are. Would you really want to change your grandma?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Make Budgets Easily Available

So I've been looking at Centerville's website and noticed that they make their budget available on-line. What a great idea! The copy of their budget that is there is not current, however, it shows that it is easily doable. I strongly encourage all City Councils in this state to put their city budget in electronic format on their website. What better way to give residents easy access to know what you are spending taxpayer's money on? This is not complicated to do. I know that Woods Cross could do this fairly easily and with little or no additional cost. The City Council approved buying a printer which includes a scanner for the City Administrator on November 1st, 2005. With this scanner, the City Administrator should easily be able to scan in the current city budget and put it on the website. This would give easy access to many residents who have no idea where their tax money is spent.
Speaking of updating the website...
I noticed on the Woods Cross City website, it says to contact Janet at if you need a copy of the minutes prior to those listed on the minutes archive page. Janet Beecher passed away from cancer more than a year ago.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Dogs in the Parks

While I served on the City Council, there was a time when dogs were allowed in the parks. People (I believe mainly non-residents) did not take care of cleaning up after their dogs and so the policy was changed. I don't think we've heard the last of this issue. An article in the Salt Lake Tribune, discusses some of the issues that Taylorsville is having with a dog park. I would encourage any City Council that may be considering dogs in parks to seriously study the issues that Taylorsville is having. This way the issues can be taken care of up-front instead of after-the-fact. A wise rancher once told me it's a lot easier to catch a horse before he gets out of the barn.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Commuter Rail needed despite pains

In an article from the Davis County Clipper, it is noted that some residents don't like the idea of commuter rail possibly increasing traffic on 500 South in Woods Cross. I can understand this sentiment. With the recent opening of Costco in West Bountiful, 500 South is a nightmare. I try to avoid it anytime I can. Let me say though, even with the pains that may be associated with commuter rail, such as increased traffic on 500 South and closing a portion of 800 West, we need to have commuter rail put in. The advantages far outweigh any disadvantages that may come.

For Woods Cross history, contact...

For Woods Cross history, apparently the person to contact is Jennifer Decker. In an article from Tuesday's Davis County Clipper she notes how former Council Member Darin Hicks served on the board of the Wasatch Integrated Waste District. This is interesting given the fact that she didn't live in Woods Cross at the time that he served on that board. I'm glad to see that she was so interested in Woods Cross Politics even before she moved into our fine city. Another interesting note is that at the time that Mr. Hicks served on that board, it wasn't unusual for a city to have a council member appointed to that particular board. The first time that Jerry Larrabee was appointed to serve on that board was due to a letter from the Wasatch Integrated Waste District stating that they would like to have the mayors of the cities serve on their board.
Another quote from the article is Ms. Decker saying Rick Earnshaw "had such depth of experience." I guess Ms. Decker should be glad that "depth of experience" was not a requirement when she was appointed to the council. There were other people that applied that had much more "depth of experience."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Perception is what matters

An article in today's Deseret Morning News says the following:

"Pollster Dan Jones & Associates found in an early January survey that more than 75 percent of Utahns want to ban, not just see disclosure of, all but the smallest gifts to legislators.
Failing an all-out ban, more than two-thirds of citizens favor disclosure of all gifts to legislators valued at $10 or more, Jones found.
And lobbyists have more of an impact on lawmaking, citizens believe, than do lawmakers' own constituents, the new survey shows. Nearly 60 percent of Utahns say lobbyists representing special interests have "a great deal" of influence on lawmakers' votes.
Only 24 percent of citizens say legislators' own constituents have "a great deal" of influence on legislative decision-making, Jones found in a Dec. 26-Jan. 3 survey."

This is a real problem. If the perception of constituents is that they can't influence the lawmakers, there needs to be a change. Not a little change but a massive change like what Senator Greg Bell is proposing. It won't help things to have lawmakers say "But our constituents do influence us more than lobbyists." They have to do something to get the perception changed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

What should require a conditional use permit?

So on the agenda for tonight's Planning Commission meeting is a Conditional Use Request for Pacific Painting to be located at 1569 West 2225 South. Due to this being in the Skypark Industrial area, it requires Planning Commission approval. So my question is this, what businesses should be required to get a conditional use permit and in what areas? I know you can rarely apply one standard to an entire city when it comes to land use. It seems to me, however, that requiring nearly every small business to go before the Planning Commission for approval makes our city appear to be against small businesses. Unfortunately, in the past, the conditional use permits in Woods Cross have been used to scare businesses into doing what the city wants them to do. For example, in nearly every conditional use permit issued in Woods Cross there is a condition that there be no outside storage. Now, in most cases I can understand this need, however, to put it on every conditional use permit seems extreme.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Revenge is sweet...

Or is it? Some of the current council members believe that Mayor Parry intentionally deceived people to get elected to office. Due to this belief, it would appear that they are intent on getting revenge. At the City Council meeting held on Tuesday the council didn't appoint Mayor Parry to represent the city on any board. This despite the fact that Mayor Larrabee served on at least three boards while he was mayor. It looks like a majority of the citizens of Woods Cross feel like Kent Parry would do a good job to represent the city as Mayor, but, the council feels like he shouldn't represent the city as a board member.

I've also found out that they decided not to remove Jerry Larrabee from the South Davis Recreation District Board. I wish now that I had made a big deal about the appointment going beyond the end of Jerry's term. Since he gave his word that he would resign from the South Davis Metro Fire District Board if he wasn't re-elected, I assumed that he would do the same for the Recreation Board. I personally feel like the Woods Cross representative on the Recreation Board should be a Woods Cross elected official.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

My New Years resolution...

This blog has not gotten a lot of attention from me in the past. I hope to change that now that I have more time. I really like the Centerville Citizen blog. I hope to make this blog more like that one.

Six months ago I would tell people that I would probably run again when my kids are older. After going through this last election cycle, however, I can say now that I'm turned off from politics. It has been amazing to me to see how people can act towards you when you disagree with them publicly on policy issues. The animosity has been frightening. For the most part I enjoyed the one term that I served on the council. One of the happiest times of my life this past year has been leaving the City Council. ALL the decisions I made because I felt I was doing what was best for the residents of Woods Cross.

I really wonder how many Woods Cross residents know that Mayor Larrabee received a stipend for being on various boards such as the Wasatch Integrated Waste District Board. I also didn't realize that Don Moore received a stipend for being on the Davis County Mosquito Abatement Board, albeit a smaller amount than the previously mentioned board.

To the current City Council:
May I remind you that yes the city of Woods Cross has some of the lowest taxes and fees in Davis County, however, they are not the lowest without a lot of hard work. Previous city leaders (before all of you) made decisions that would keep these taxes and fees low. The taxes and fees will not stay low if all you do is toot your own horn about how low they are! You must also work to keep them the lowest.

To my fellow citizens of Woods Cross:
Be involved in the political process. Don't believe everything you hear, no matter who you hear it from without doing your own research. You will have people tell you that the city is in great shape financially. Is it? Would it be if Menlove Dodge moved to Bountiful? What has the city done to make sure it always remains in great shape financially?

We should never just sit back and say all is well in our little community. The moment we do, things will not be well and we won't know it!

Thank you to those who elected me to serve our great city. I never took lightly the trust you put in me.