Thursday, August 28, 2008

Answers - Question 5

This is the fifth in a series of questions posed to the candidates in the State Senate District 23 race. To see the previous questions in this series, please go to

5) In the 2008 legislative session, Senator Dan Eastman sponsored a bill (SB46 that limits the decisions that the government of a municipality in Utah can make in regards to it's municipal waste. Do you feel such decisions are rightly made by the Utah Legislature, or the government of the municipality? Why?

Republican - Dan Liljenquist:

I am glad that you asked this question because it highlights a specific situation where I think the State Legislature appropriately intervened at the local level. In this instance, the State Legislature decided that city governments cannot force commercial entities to use a specific solid waste disposal facility, except under certain circumstances. I would have voted for Senator Eastman’s bill – the best way to explain why is to propose a hypothetical.

One might argue that it would make sense for Centerville to mandate that all broadband services in Centerville be provided through the UTOPIA network. First, it would help ensure that UTOPIA remains solvent, thereby limiting taxpayer liabilities. Second, it would provide lower costs to individual consumers for broadband services because UTOPIA could charge much higher fees for commercial service. These are the exact arguments given in support for granting exclusive solid waste disposal contracts. On the surface, these arguments make some sense, however, if Centerville passed such an ordinance mandating UTOPIA use, most Utahns would expect the State Legislature to aggressively intervene to ensure that Centerville does not unnecessarily interfere with competitive markets.

I believe that it is appropriate for the State Legislature to ensure that city governments help facilitate free markets, and not restrict them unnecessarily. After studying this issue, I believe that the Legislature acted appropriately.

Democrat - Richard Watson:

Again, local governments should have the authority and power to solve local problems. Municipal governments understand local problems better than our state lawmakers do. The only outside laws that should be enforced on municipal waste are federal environmental laws regarding pollution. After all, most people, like me, enjoy clean air and clean water, but, we don't want a bunch of state lawmakers in Salt Lake City telling us how to run our neighborhoods in Davis County.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Answers - Question 4

4) In the 2008 legislative session, Representative Brad Daw sponsored a bill (HB139, that would have placed certain restrictions on anyone providing wireless internet access. Pete Ashdown, owner of Xmission, has publicly opposed this type of legislation and has said that he will shut down the free wireless provided by Xmission in downtown Salt Lake City if such legislation passes. (see Would you support or oppose this type of legislation? Why?

Democrat - Richard Watson:
I oppose this bill. This bill falls in the line of "big brother" legislation and I believe Utah lawmakers should concentrate on bigger issues, like public schools, transportation, taxes and healthcare. In addition, this bill, had it passed, might have had some constitutional challenges later on.

Republican - Dan Liljenquist:
I would have opposed the bill proposed by Rep. Daw. While I believe an appropriate role of government is to ensure that community standards of morality and decency are upheld, such considerations must be balanced by the costs of achieving a desired results with the benefits that arise in doing so. In this instance, it is difficult to make the case that an unquantifiable benefit (for example, we have no indication that Rep. Daw’s bill will materially decrease the number of minors who actually access harmful materials) outweighs the significant, measurable costs (the shutdown of the Xmission free wireless project is only one such example) of such a measure. I would have opposed this bill on these grounds.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Dan Liljenquist survives plane crash.

According to KSL (see story here), Dan Liljenquist, the Republican candidate for State Senate District 23 survived a plane crash that killed 11 people in Guatemala. I'm glad that he survived this horrific ordeal. I wish him a speedy recovery from his injuries. I'll keep him and his family in my prayers. I'm sure it is traumatic for his wife and children to go through something like this.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Answers - Question 3

3) What are your feelings about the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency, better known as UTOPIA? What about other similar entities?

Republican - Dan Liljenquist:
UTOPIA is the perfect battle ground to debate the first two questions posed. I have spent much of the last month studying the issues surrounding UTOPIA. The intent of UTOPIA is to facilitate economic development by providing world class broadband infrastructure to third party service providers, enabling them to provide affordable broadband services to citizens of the 16 participant cities.

In my opinion, one of the primary roles of government is to facilitate free markets. Investments in infrastructure, whether they be highways, power grids, rail-roads, sewer systems, or telecommunications platforms, are appropriate for governments to make in behalf of their citizens. The benefits of infrastructure investments, on the balance, have outweighed the costs of such investments.

In the case of UTOPIA, the 16 cities that banded together on the project made a determination that the existing infrastructure in their cities was inadequate for their citizens. The decision to proceed with UTOPIA, in my opinion, was an appropriate exercise of city authority.

That said, it is clear now that the UTOPIA build-out has been mismanaged, requiring a rework of the business plan and a refinance of the debt instruments required to fund the project. Only time will tell if the revised business plan will work, but, at the very least, there should be useable broadband infrastructure in these cities for many years to come.

On a personal note, I did not think that the investment in UTOPIA was necessary for the 16 cities involved, especially given the rapid advancements in wireless broadband technology. On this basis, I probably would have voted against participating in the UTOPIA project had I been on a city council at the time. Early on, I was also concerned that UTOPIA was intended to compete directly against Qwest and Comcast. I later learned that the UTOPIA network is open to both Qwest and Comcast, but they have chosen not to provide service over the UTOPIA network. Knowing this, I would not have voted against UTOPIA on the grounds that government was in direct competition with private enterprise, even though this was my original inclination.

Democrat - Richard Watson:
What started out as a great idea has turned into a bureaucratic nightmare. Unfortunately, UTOPIA is a prime example of under funded programs the legislature has passed over the years.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Answers - Question 2

2) As a state senator, would you vote to make it more or less difficult for cities to create such entities as those listed in Question 1? (see Question 1 here)

Democrat - Richard Watson:
I definitely would work at making it less difficult for cities to create any entities. What's more, I would look at reversing some of the "Big Brother" laws that restrict cities to govern responsibly and give cities more autonomy. After all, residents voted for their local leaders to solve local problems.

Republican - Dan Liljenquist:
As a Utah State Senator, I would not vote to make it more difficult for cities to create such entities. I believe that one of my primary roles in the Utah Legislature would be to run interference for our cities, helping preserve as much flexibility as possible at the local level. I already have a solid working relationship with Mayors Johnson, Russell, Behunin, Schaefermeyer, and Parry. I have committed to them that we will meet quarterly so that I can stay attuned to the needs of the cities in Senate District 23.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Democrat wants electoral college abolished...

In Sunday's Pignanelli and Webb column (see here), Frank argues to have the Electoral College abolished. He uses the argument that Utah hasn't seen a presidential contender in any recent campaign. Utah is an anomaly. If the Electoral College is done away with, states like Nevada will never see a presidential contender. How many times has a presidential contender visited Nevada, Missouri, and several other "small" states in the past two presidential elections, Frank? How many times would Nevada and Missouri have seen presidential candidates in the past two presidential elections if the electoral college didn't exist?

The Electoral College still makes since for the United States of America.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Answers - Question 1

1) Do you support or oppose cities coming together to create certain entities such as the South Davis Recreation District, South Davis Metro Fire District, United Fire Authority, etc.? Why?

Republican - Dan Liljenquist:
I support cities coming together to create partnerships that benefit their citizens. I believe that it is good policy to allow this type of inter-city partnering for a few simple reasons.

First, I believe the principles of federalism apply to local government. As long as city governments do not interfere with rights specifically enumerated to federal and state governments, cities should be able to partner together on projects that would be mutually beneficial to their citizens.

Second, I believe that city governments are much more in tune with the specific needs of their citizens and are in a better position to make the necessary decisions to meet their citizens’ needs. There are very few barriers to involvement in city government, and, as a result, our mayors and city councils tend to be the most responsive to the will of the citizens in their communities.

Finally, as a matter of practicality, I do not believe that the State Legislature has the time to effectively understand and address the specific needs of each city.

Democrat - Richard Watson:
I strongly support cities working together in solving local problems. As a result, local citizens are more confident of having control of issues that are close to their neighborhoods. The South Davis Recreation Center is a great example of helping residents with local needs.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Answer posts coming...

I mentioned in a previous post that I have received answers to my questions for the Senate District 23 candidates. Due to the length of the responses, I have decided to post the answers in 13 separate posts. I will post two questions with answers each week. Look for the posts beginning this Thursday.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

5 Years

It was 5 years ago today that I wrote my first post on this blog. This blog has gone through periods of slowness (especially 2004) and periods where there were regular postings. It is interesting for me to go back and read some of my early posts. I've also noticed that some of my views have changed in the past 5 years. If nothing else, this blog has served as an outlet for me to post random thoughts. If no one reads them, that is fine by me. It's fun for me to write them and then later go back and read them.