Friday, November 30, 2007

When is a taser appropriate?

Taser use by police officers has received a lot of attention recently due to Jared Massey posting a video on YouTube of himself getting tasered by a Utah Highway Patrol trooper after being pulled over for allegedly speeding. I have watched the entire video that was posted on YouTube. I can honestly say that there were some bad decisions made by both individuals. I can also say that if this were to be fought in court with a jury, there is no way, in my opinion, that they could find Jared Massey guilty of speeding. It is clearly shown in the video that the Trooper's cruiser could have been hiding the speed limit sign as Jared's vehicle passed. That's not what this post is intended to be about.

The trooper could have easily defused the situation early on by answering Jared's questions. I thought law enforcement officers were trained to defuse situations as quickly as possible. That didn't happen in this case. This trooper also lied to the backup officer that arrived on the scene. He claimed that he told Jared to put his hands behind his back or else he would get tasered. In the video, you can clearly hear that he never said that. That's also not what this post is about.

This post is about when it is appropriate to use a taser. The manufacturer of the X26 tasers used by Woods Cross Police Officers states on their website "It is properly the responsibility of each agency to set their own policy based upon their community standards and the totality of the circumstances for any use-of-force." How convenient for them. I'm sure this removes a great deal of liability from them as a company.

So when should a taser be used? I was on the City Council when Woods Cross decided to purchase the X26 tasers, we were told by our Police Chief, Paul Howard, that a taser offers a good alternative to an officer using their firearm. If that is the case, the UHP Trooper should not have used the taser on Jared Massey. Would the trooper have been justified in killing Mr. Massey in that instance? I don't believe so. From what I have seen on the video, it seems to me that Jared Massey was just trying to get a simple explanation about his alleged crime. Remember, in this country, you are supposedly innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Unfortunately, I think some in the law enforcement community have forgotten that fact.

In my opinion, a taser should not be used as a substitute for using pepper spray or a nightstick. A taser should be used in cases where the alternative is the officer using his firearm. During my tenure as a city council member, I was shocked and saddened to be watching the news one day and learned that we had a Woods Cross Police Officer shoot and kill a suspect of a violent crime. The suspect was unarmed, however, he was attempting to get at the officer's firearm. In that case, it would have been a good argument to use a taser and the suspect may have lived to have his day in court. Unfortunately, our officers didn't carry tasers at the time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Woods Cross could learn a lot from West Valley City

I was recently looking at West Valley City's re-designed web site. I was quite impressed by it. You may look at the first page and think "That's not much better than what Woods Cross has." I thought the same thing when just looking at the front page, but, then I dug deeper. One place where their web site leaves Woods Cross City's in the dust is in their City Council Agendas and Minutes page. If you click on one of the dates at that page, it has a "Supporting Documents" area. This is great stuff! It gives the public more information than just an agenda item.

Another thing that is great about West Valley's web site that I've previously mentioned wanting to see Woods Cross do, is West Valley posts their budget online for the residents to see. Why doesn't Woods Cross post the budget for all to see? It makes you wonder if there is something they are wanting to hide. E-mail your mayor and city council members and let them know you want to see the budget posted on the web site.

These are two great things that West Valley has done with their web site. Woods Cross could serve our citizens much better by doing similar things with our web site.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Is it too early for Christmas Hymns?

The Christmas season officially kicked off on Friday, except at my church. I attended my church, as I usually do, on Sunday and we sang one Christmas song in three hours of meetings. What I found very interesting about this is that one of the footnotes of our Priesthood lesson on Sunday said, "Just as hymns are essential to Sabbath and family worship, so are hymns and carols to Christmas."

Is it too early to begin singing Christmas hymns in November? Do we have to actually be in the month of December to sing Christmas hymns? If that were the theory, then one would think we would sing patriotic hymns the whole month of July, but, we usually sing patriotic hymns only if Independence Day falls on a Sunday.

The commercial side of Christmas begins on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Why shouldn't the spiritual side of Christmas begin on the Sunday after Thanksgiving with singing Christmas hymns in church? Did you sing Christmas hymns in your ward on Sunday? If so, are there nice homes for sale in your ward boundaries?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! Notice I said Thanksgiving and not turkey day. This is a day designated to give thanks to God for all the many blessings we enjoy.

I am thankful for my good health and my family. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Newscast or hour-long commercial?

I watched Fox 13 News at Nine the other night and got the feeling that it was an hour-long commercial instead of a newscast. It seemed like the anchors were giving teasers to stories for most of the program and then telling viewers, "To see more on this story visit our website, MyFoxUtah and enter the keywords..." This happened with at least the first five stories on the newscast that night. It was really annoying.

So what should a newscast use their website for? In my opinion, they should use their website for extra information that can't fit in the newscast. For example, they do an interview of someone and then have to edit that interview down to fit in a 3 - 4 minute piece. They could easily have the full interview on the website. Or they have a poll done and then in the newscast, give the highlights of the poll and then have the full results of the poll on the website. It lessens the value of the newscast though to just have it be a teaser for the website.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Today in 1863

President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address on Nov. 19th 1863. In it he said, "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here." The world does remember what President Lincoln said there that day, but, let us also never forget what the occasion was.

President Lincoln gave the speech at the dedication of the Gettysburg Cemetery. The civil war was still in progress and many soldiers would still lose their lives. I have been to that great battlefield in Gettysburg. There is a special feeling there where so many gave their lives. Let us, on this day, remember the sacrifices that those soldiers made to make this country great. Let us never forget the final words of the Gettysburg Address, "that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What do you long for?

Those of you who know me, know that I enjoy geocaching. I recently read about a new geocache that was placed called B.E.R.R. - Bountiful. This cache has some history about the Bamberger Railroad. This got me thinking about how things were in the Woods Cross that I grew up in.

I remember walking to Irv's Market to spend my allowance. I remember riding my bike on many dirt trails that wound through the city. I remember watching one of the farmers drive his tractor up and down 800 West after his farm had been turned into a subdivision. I long for those days when time really didn't matter as long as you made it home in time for dinner. Many times I long for the "good ol' days."

What do you long for?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Who really makes the Boy Scouts of America work?

In yesterday's Deseret Morning News there was a lengthy article about the salaries of the executives of the Boy Scouts of America organization. I personally had no idea that the executives of an organization that I was personally involved in made so much money. The Great Salt Lake Council's Scout executive, Paul Moore, pulls in a salary of $194,458.00 and benefits of $19,544.00, according to the article. The money isn't what bothered me the most about the article, though. What bothered me the most about this article was the seemingly pompous attitude of the executives that were quoted. Mr. Moore was quoted as saying, "If I were not making that salary here, I would probably be making a larger salary in the BSA somewhere else." Mr. Moore, I'm more than convinced that there are several just as qualified individuals here in Utah that would do your job at half the salary.

Now maybe it's time for a wake-up call to Mr. Moore. I think he needs to realize that if it weren't for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Boy Scouts of America would never have 3 districts in the state of Utah. Maybe it's time for the LDS Church to implement it's own scouting program in the USA like they do in other countries.

The article also goes on to note that the Friends of Scouting fund-raising drive pays for a majority of the large salaries. I found it interesting that Utah is the only place where units have quotas. I know that I personally will adjust my contributions in the future in light of this article. I will give to my own troop directly, instead of contributing to the Friends of Scouting.

To my original question, the Boy Scouts of America would fail miserably if it weren't for the dedication and support of the thousands of volunteers who give so much of their time to help boys.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Woods Cross Council must act on UTOPIA

I have become aware of a bill that will be discussed during the upcoming state legislative session. The bill is titled "MUNICIPAL ENTITIES AND CABLE OR TELECOMMUNICATION SERVICES." This bill in its current form would cause some major hurtles for any city that wanted to join UTOPIA. It was supposed to be discussed in the Government Competition and Privatization Subcommittee interim meeting yesterday. The committee decided to "have staff work on modifying this bill so that it is more acceptable to all parties involved." They also said that they will discuss it again during the legislative session.
The major issue that I see with this proposed bill as it's currently written is that it takes decision making powers away from our local elected officials. It says that a municipality must hold two public hearings, instead of the one currently required. It also says that the city must hold an election to let the voters decide on whether to join the entity. Currently, the law says that a council may hold an election.
The changes to the bill also place limits on cities joining a municipal entity such as UTOPIA. Any city that has not joined UTOPIA by May 5, 2008, will have to pay for the state auditor to issue an audit report of UTOPIA stating that UTOPIA has had a positive net operating income for at least one year, among other things.
I have two major questions about the changes to this bill.
1) How would our City Council members feel if similar restrictions had been placed on the formation of the South Davis Recreation District? (I've already mentioned in a previous post, that the South Davis Recreation Center competes with private industry.)
2) How would our State Legislature feel if our national government leaders placed similar restrictions on their actions?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The citizens have spoken!

If somebody felt like this blog actually influences things in Woods Cross, yesterday's election results should convince them otherwise. The results from the 2007 Woods Cross City Council election are listed below. The top three will be members of the City Council beginning 01 January 2008.

Rick Earnshaw1029
Jill Hadley Evans895
David C Hill855
Ryan Westergard840
Gary A Sharp826
Cory Green332
Write-in Votes31

You'll notice that two of my bottom three choices made it in. Congratulations to all the winners. Keep doing those things that have made Woods Cross the great city that it is today. I'd also like to repeat something I said on this blog almost two years ago. The city of Woods Cross has some of the lowest taxes and fees in Davis County, however, they did not get this way without a lot of hard work. Previous city leaders made decisions that would keep these taxes and fees low. The taxes and fees will not stay low if the only thing the Council Members do is toot their own horn about how low they are! They must also work to keep them the lowest.

I also found it interesting that the RAP tax passed in Bountiful and Centerville, but, failed in Woods Cross and West Bountiful. What does this mean? It means you may want to buy your next new car in Woods Cross or West Bountiful. If you buy it at a Bountiful dealership, you'll pay more in taxes.

The county transportation tax failed to pass as did the state referendum on vouchers.

The county election results can be found here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It's decision day! I already voted!

Today is election day. Tomorrow at this time we will know if the Statewide Referendum 1 has passed or failed. We will know if our sales tax in Davis County is going up to fund transportation or the arts. We will also know who will represent our views on our local city council. It is exciting for me to watch the wheels of democracy roll forward. As you go to the polls today, (you are going, aren't you?) remember the valuable gift it is to be able to vote. Many people in many countries don't have the right that many of our own residents don't appreciate.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Choose the bottom three, vote for the others?

On Thursday the Davis County Clipper published what they called "Your guide to the November 6 elections." This article is not in their on-line edition. In this article they asked each candidate for Woods Cross City Council three questions.
1) What are your top three priorities?
2) What is your position on the RAP tax?
3) Do you support the transportation tax?

Unfortunately this piece left me with more questions than answers. I'll go over my thoughts on each candidate's responses and maybe at the end of it all, I will have figured out who to vote for. I will list them in the same order that they appeared in the Clipper article.

Rick Earnshaw - It would seem to me that Rick can't count. He listed several items in his answer to the "three top priorities." He's for curbside recycling, broadband (though he doesn't say UTOPIA), as well as better safe and diverse transportation (whatever that means). He also states that we need to insure economic growth and "above all, continue to make Woods Cross a safe, united and healthy place to live." I hope by united, he doesn't mean that we all have to agree. As you know, if you've read previous posts, I'm against forced curbside recycling. Rick is for the RAP tax and against the 1/4 cent sales tax for transportation.

Jill Hadley Evans - She also seems to have trouble counting, but, her problem seems to be that she can't count to three. I only counted two items that she lists as priorities. She wants to grow the sales tax base by encouraging businesses to locate here. She is also concerned about traffic congestion.
The most troubling thing to me about Jill's answers is that she says that she is for the RAP tax because "the increase is minimal and will be for a good cause." She also says that the RAP tax won't affect Woods Cross as much because we don't have any grocery stores in our city. She does realize that the tax will be on other items that are sold as well, doesn't she? Last time I checked, we have a few car dealerships in our city that would be affected by this tax. All our residents go to grocery stores and shop, don't they? I don't see how "this doesn't impact us directly." She also goes on to say that she is against the transportation tax because "we have had enough tax increases recently." So which is it Jill? I would say if you are against one tax because "we have had enough tax increases," then you shouldn't be for another tax increase because it's "increase is minimal."

Cory Green - He can at least count to three. His top three priorities: 1) Limiting Heavy Industrial uses in our city. 2) Striving for economic growth. 3) Fully fund the Woods Cross Police Department.
He is for the RAP tax because he feels the impact is small and would help several local issues. He is against the transportation tax because he'd "like to see on paper just how much funding Woods Cross would see."

David C. Hill - His top three priorities: 1) Impact of Legacy Parkway and how that gateway into our city is developed. 2) Providing services to a level we have come to expect. 3) Plan how the residential, commercial and industrial areas come together.
From the article it is hard for me to tell if he is for or against the RAP tax. He says he is for increasing our arts and recreation programs, but, is not sure that the RAP tax is the best way to fund that. Is that the political way of saying "I'm against it?" I'll assume it is. On the transportation tax issue, he says he is "not comfortable with the sales tax increase." Again I'll assume that's a vote against.

Gary Sharp - His three priorities: 1) Actively manage growth and it's impact. 2) Improve traffic flow on 500 South, 1500 South and 2600 South. 3) Encourage new commercial development along Redwood Road and 500 South. He's against both the RAP tax and transportation tax.
One issue that I strongly disagree with Gary on is his position on sending council members and the mayor to Washington D.C. According to his website, he doesn't have a problem with spending $18,000.00 per year to send the entire council and the mayor to Washington D.C. every year for the National League of Cities conference. I have been to this conference myself, and I feel that the city could gain the same benefits by sending just two people to this conference. That would only cost the city about $6,000.00 per year. Also from his website, he is against funding a UTOPIA feasibility study this year. So he's for $18,000.00 to take a trip, but against $15,000.00 for a feasibility study? Sounds to me like he wants to go to D.C.

Ryan Westergard - His three priorities: 1) Future Growth 2) Environmental Issues 3) Traffic Safety.
Ryan is for the RAP tax because of "the additional cultural and recreational opportunities for our community." He's against the transportation tax because he feels it "is of limited benefit to South Davis County."

Now I feel more confused then ever. My top issues are UTOPIA, commercially developing the area around the new 500 South and Legacy Parkway interchange, and managing how residential, commercial, and industrial areas come together. I'm against the RAP tax and the transportation tax. We already increased our property taxes just a few years ago to pay for the new South Davis Recreation Center. To me that amounts to a "recreation" tax. We also pay more for our car registration to pay for corridor preservation, which is the same thing that the new transportation tax is to go for.

As you can see my opinions don't match up with anyone. As you know from a previous post, I'm against Jill Hadley Evans. I strongly disagree with Gary Sharp on the National League of Cities conference issue. I also feel like Rick Earnshaw has been involved in city politics for too long now. I feel if you can't accomplish everything that you wanted to get done after being on the council for more than 12 years, it's time to step aside and give somebody else a chance. I guess that would be my bottom three.

Friday, November 02, 2007

UTOPIA, what's the next step?

So what's the next step in getting UTOPIA to come to Woods Cross? Well in the Utah State Code, it states that a city must do the following:

(1) hold a preliminary public hearing;
(2) if the legislative body elects to proceed after holding the preliminary public hearing required by Subsection (1), approve the hiring of a feasibility consultant to conduct a feasibility study in accordance with Section 10-18-203.

So it seems to me that the next step is to hold a preliminary public hearing. This preliminary public hearing won't cost the city anything other than time. So we need to contact our elected City Council Members and get them to hold a preliminary public hearing. I highly doubt that election night is a good night to hold a public hearing, but, I see no reason why one can't be scheduled for November 20th.