Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Poor Paul Mero

Paul Mero, the head gasbag at the Sutherland Institute for Gasbag Policy, was just recently heard on KCPW lamenting the fact that no cities seem to be takers on his prized "families first" (or something to that effect) initiative. "It troubles me. There seems to be a cognitive dissonance [due to the fact that Amendment 3 passed].."

It seems that when something that seeks to limit the rights of "those people," more ruminative and more accountable bodies seem to reject this "family values" garbage than private, confidential voters.

Who will take the courageous stand for bigotry?

Downtown

Before I get into this, I wanna get out the last bit of gratitude left over from the last holiday so I can make room for the greed of the next one. Ethan's been kind enough to link to this lame blog and I often do bite the hand that feeds me, so props to Ethan and his magnanimity.

Okay, the Downtown thing.

As tempting as it is to lay the current state of Downtown at the feet of the sitting Mayor, the Downtown issue is more attributable to things demographic and things economic. As for the Mayor's hand in things, you've got to consider that Downtown was not exactly booming in 1998 or ten years previous. The real issues, which unfortunately cannot be resolved in an election cycle, are growth in suburbs that used to be exurbs and that Utah-sized families are not apt to living in a noisy, two-bedroom flat. As the Salt Lake Valley and the Utah Valley continue on their way to morph into each other, the economics of geography will inevitably lead to a shift in the location of jobs, shopping (IKEA!), housing, and institutional facilities. Yes, there are ways to mitigate this, and, in the case of Canadian cities and Portland, Oregon, ways to eliminate it altogether, but the fact of the matter is that in this state growth is occurring where the land is and there's nothing a 70-square-mile municipality 15 miles away can do about it. Over the hill in Denver, however, we are seeing a booming downtown coinciding with suburbs hell-bent on reaching Kansas City. But Denver has two things that SLC considerably lacks: transplants and childless professionals. Although there is a trickle of transplants and a handful of hipsters here, it's nothing compared to what you'll find in states like Arizona or Colorado. Salt Lake is growing, but Denver and Phoenix are exploding.

It is possible to see a silver lining (except during inversions) for Downtown, as it is currently experiencing a small revitalization. We just have to accept the fact that it's not gonna turn itself around at the breakneck speed that corresponds to mega-growth cities. The transplants and the yuppies will come, but alot of other things - slow, slow things that I'll reserve comment on - will likely have to come first.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

What I was getting at with the roads

Utah is ridiculously wasteful when it comes to spending on roads. The Legacy Highway debacle, which we all have been instructed to blame the environmentalists for, is testament to this. Legacy was never meant to be just a transportation solution but a catalyst for land development. The use of belt routes for the suburbs-on-steroids growth is as old as the hills, and in the misguided supply-side economics approach to improve this state's schools, roads - and the unsustainable development they bring - have been hailed as the ticket to economic prosperity. Somehow, someway, the Lege has determined that more strip malls and more subdivisions will equal unprecendented prosperity that will line Utah's public schools with the cash to fund us into educational utopia.

We're now seeing Legacy II played out in Southern Utah. The proposed St. George belt route, according to the Purpose and Need statement in the EIS, is needed to provide a reliable transportation connection between the cities of St. George, Washington, & Hurricane. What's interesting, though, is that this "connection" includes a detour way out into the desert. There are a thousand ways to meet the needs of Washington County that are alot cheaper than a brand-new, limited-access highway. An access road to the new airport, a beefed up SR 9 through Washington & Hurricane ( a limited access parallel perhaps?) , and a modest increase on I-15 would certainly fill the demand in the next 30 years, during which time the needed density increases could occur to hand the transportation issue over to mass transit. But the solution always has to be a new freeway and when it comes to UDOT's project management, the Lege is always gracious enough to give them carte blanche.

Rolly fails to follow the script

His piece today outlines the various policy initiatives near and dear to the Mayor and the lack of substantive criticisms of the actual policies. It's all about that bleeding heart bastard of a Democrat who dares challenge conventional wisdon.

Rolly's failure to follow the script is disturbing because he is breaking ranks with his own newspaper. Heather May, along with her counterpart Brady Snyder at the D-News, has consistently delivered us the juvenile, craptacular articles on the Mayor that seek to plunge the debate into a Melrose Place style of name-calling and eye-poking. We know that food fight articles sell papers, but is a fat bottom line for the NAC worth the fact that, when it comes to Rocky, the public is woefully uninformed?

Meanwhile, you have Republican legislators like Bill Hickman who say "we get to pollute his air, clog his roads, those are great treats for us." When Republican puts his foot in his mouth solely to be mean-spirited, that gets ignored. A Democrat, however, whose confrontational style is arguably a product of his convictions, is portrayed as a loon and an enemy of Utahns. It's what's necessary to sell the script.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Support System

A Trib editorial today attributes the dropping minority enrollment numbers at the U. to the failing of Utah public schools. Unfortunately, this is where the much-vaunted family "support-system" is showing cracks. When confronted with the lowest per-pupil funding in the country, most legislators proclaim that Utah's strong families are there to fill the void. That's great when you've got two parents who themselves are high school graduates and have the wherewithall to navigate the public education system. However, as many other cities before us that have experienced growth, leaving the disadvantaged behind results in ghettos and crime.

Utah is at an advantageous situation because we don't have whole lot of rich people and not a whole lot of poor folks, either. We're decidedly middle-class. That's why we have low crime rates, that's why our State government is more competent than other states (because the salaries in the public sector are somewhat competitive to those in the private), and that's why we basically avoid many of the social ills that other states have. Unfortunately, an emerging underclass has been showing up on the radar lately and we can't just keep relying on the family, young men's/young women's, and a familiarity with Utah society to keep filling the void. Surely someone will come up with the rhetoric of how it doesn't matter if you're black, white, brown, green, we're all the same, blah, blah, blah, but we've seen what a do-nothing approach does. The French for a generation have relied on fraternitè to bring the non-white underclasses into mainstream French society and we know what the results have been. The longer we wait, the bigger the problem gets, then the more difficult - and draconian - the solution will be.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Oversensitivity

Political discourse in this town often gets dicey when you point out the obvious. Over at Ethan's I had to respond to responses to what I thought was a pretty tepid post about the Dist. 3 Council race. My point: people who go to church together establish personal relationships. People who have personal relationships with a particular candidate often vote for them.

However, when thrown into hyper-drive hyper-sensitivity, I somehow become Dick Boggs. The whole thing reminded me of a gem of a quote from then-D-News columnist LaVar Webb:

“This is about people who hate the church finding an opportunity to kick the shins, gouge an eye and thumb their noses at the biggest, most powerful institution in the state … Unfortunately for the mayor, he’s now the champion of the ACLU and the Mormon haters.”

No, the quote above was not referring to Mayor Anderson's assault on the Saints at Haun's Mill. It was referring to the months of compromise-searching that resulted from the 10th Circuit's decision on the complicated and poorly-lawyered Main Street Plaza case. The plaza deal, no matter how you slice it, was, at least from a strictly legal standpoint, a precarious thing to begin with. It was obvious that it was back to the drawing board and the Mayor's office is charged with making sure that the City's interests are protected. Unfortunately, what's good for the Presiding Bishopric is not always what's good for the City. A reasonable view, I'd submit. However, in over-sensitivity hysteria, this view somehow is construed to be one of "mormon-hating."

The point is that over-sensitivity, not bigotry, is often the root of this so-called divide that we face here in this state. It's pretty ludicrous to think that if someone is a member of a church that happens to have business before a civic body that one is a member of, that person will have absolutely no bias towards that church. Even if it isn't overt, there is a trust factor there that doesn't necessarily exist for non-members. However, just because it's there doesn't mean it isn't benign to the point of irrelevance. In any case, if we don't acknowledge the elephant in the room, then we can't be assured that the bridge over the divide can support its weight.

My Right to a Cigar Bar in the Moss Courthouse

I've always thought a cigar & whiskey bar in the Frank Moss courthouse would be a lucrative endeavor. However, my entrepreneurial desires have been unduly restricted by the fact that the Courthouse is the property of the United States Government. It has also been mentioned to me that cigar smoke could conceivably create adverse impacts on those that use and own the courthouse.

Thanks to Mark Habbeshaw, I now believe that the above-state limitations on the Casserole Bar Cigar Bar are an illegitimate intrusion of the Federal government into my local, country-boy affairs. And the fact that I live near the courthouse and the fat cats in Washington didn't seek my comments before they outlawed a Cigar-smoking enterprise chaps my hide even further. I am sick and tired of East Coast liberals telling me what I can and can't do in my own backyard.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Rocky Gets Props from Franken

The Al Franken Show is broadcasting from Boulder, CO today. Franken and Boulder Mayor Mark Ruzzin just had a somewhat lengthy conversation about Rocky Anderson and his environmental initiatives. Ruzzin had nothing but nice words about Rocky's greening acheivements and commented on how they are all the more commendable given the political climate Rocky has to operate in.

What in the world does Ruzzin mean by that?

It couldn't be, say

-Legislative Republicans calling the Sierra Club and Utahns for Better Transportation "terrorists;"

-The Mormon majority, who controls all levers of power in Utah and can't help themselves to complain about how much they are discriminated against, all the while seeking to oppress gays, lesbians, women, and anyone else who doesn't fit the new-and-improved Mormon version of "the family" (apparently now it features just one wife!);

-The Mormon newspaper going after the Mayor's expense account solely because it contained charges for alcoholic beverages (meanwhile, no other politician's expenses are scrutinized because they presumably stick to Diet Cokes);

-The Republican-orchestrated kangaroo court that tried to paint the (privately funded) traditional diplomatic activities between Olympic host cities as corrupt;

-The highest approval rating in the country for a President that has committed some of the most grave errors in American history;

-A senior Senator who admonishes everyone who holds different views than him as being "immoral" yet gleefully votes for the torture of non-convicted detainees.

Hmmm, torture. Stamping out dissent and labeling it as immoral. Attacking those who challenge the status quo. Sounds pretty Talibany to me.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Contemporary Standards of Decency

Political hysteria claims countless victims and mandatory sentencing laws for drug violations are no exception. Weldon Angelenos, the poor bastard who got nailed with a statutory minimum of 55 years in a federal prison for selling pot while in possession (and "brandishing") of a handgun, really makes one wonder what kind of society we're living in. Apparently we're living in a contemporary society, as the quote from U.S Atty for Utah Paul Warner below lays out:

"Addressing the epidemic social problem of armed drug distribution with increased punishment and deterrence is consistent with contemporary standards of decency."

The funny thing is that this "contemporary" standard seems more fitting to pre-revolutionary France or Draco's Athens. Hopefully a decision from the 10th Circuit will give us somewhat of a post-17th Century definition of what a contemporary standard of decency is.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Urq's Out?

That's what Paul Rolly says. Was it because he was cowed by Hatch's bold stance on torture? Or was it, possibly, that it was made clear to him that life within the Republican party would be much easier if he set his sights on Speaker of the House?

It looks like Ashdown is the our only hope of taking down the torture-king.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Rocky's Letter

This letter, for me, sums it all up.

Everyone knows that Eric Jergensen is a big weiner. It's not just that he looks like one, but publicly lambasting the city's book club because a book (the type we like to burn) contained the fuck-w_rd is the height of self-righteous weinerdom.

But the bigger issue is that the Council is made up mostly of weiners. We have screech-hag Nancy Saxton, pussy Dale Lambert, and other council members that apparently have forgot that Salt Lake City has a strong-mayor system. Let the Mayor do his damn job - after all, he ran for the office and got elected. He's the executive branch so let him have his sword and please, please, stop with the tripe of having to temper the Mayor's actions in order to please the legislature. The legislature will always be the primate house in state politics and no amount of city council pussyfooting will change that.

And Ethan, seriously man. You're in one of the most breathtaking cities in the world. Shilling for Weiner Jergensen should be the last of your concerns right now. Take it all in and gain a new perspective. You'll be a better man for it.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Word to Democrats

Remember how opposing the Iraq war made you O'Reilly's bitch? Yeah, we anti-war freaks were just crazy weren't we?

Maybe psychos like Rocky Anderson are the ticket, eh?

The Weiner Factor

SLC's got a reputation that it doesn't necessarily deserve. No, what people usually think of SLC is really more like Provo. And that's unfortunate because people who pay $300K to live in a 2,100 sq. ft. bungalow deserve more.

Now let's factor out the, um, issues and stuff and let's cast a vote based purely on the candidate's looks!






"Preesheeyate ya."










"I can do things you've only dreamed about. I'll rock your world."







That should settle it.

Simonsen for District 7

Thundering from the mountaintops, The Bar hereby endorses Soren Simonsen for City Council District 7. As many of you in the fan club know, The Bar is located in Sugarhouse (not to be confused with The Bar in Sugarhouse, the official name of what otherwise is known as the Tap Room, which is not to be confused with the official Tap Room, which is often referred to as the NEW Tap Room) and the day-to-day functions of our staff make decision-making in Sugarhouse hit close to home.

Simonsen is the planning candidate and Gordon Poulsen is the law and order candidate. Sugarhouse has become something of a Valhalla for petty thugs and the neighborhood, with its high levels of petty crime, has the highest incidents of reported crimes in the City (take that Glendale!). However, crime in Sugarhouse is an annoyance rather than a true threat. Furthermore, increasing the police presence will not adequately reduce crime here because petty thugs operate safely below the surface. If you want to break into a car, chances are you can. Even if you were to double the number of officers in the neighborhood, petty thugs then would, what, be reduced to having a partner to provide the "lookout?" The best defense against petty crime is, well, insurance, but beyond that, it's creating a stable neighborhood in which we all look out for each other. As Sugarhouse continues along its path to gentrification, it is crucial that development becoming of the neighborhood triumphs any ill-conceived attempt at economic development. And housing. God, we need housing in downtown Sugarhouse. Not only will more housing increase the modest street activity, but it will likely deter any non-drug-related criminal activity. Only then will be people be able to buy and sell weed with piece-of-mind.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Challengers are so cute.

"However, we hope House will make another run for public office in a few years."

Ah, Janneke, you cutie. You're only 23 and you're running for office! Thanks to the Trib, you now know that you doesn't have enough "life experience" to be a City Councilgirl. You know, my nephew the other day - he, he was wearing a stethescope 'round is neck and he said that he'd make Uncle Shawn's cough go away! Oh, it was so fuhreakin cute. I responded, "I'm sure you can, m' boy. You'll make a great doctor - when you add a few feet!"

Oh, did I mention that Carlton Christensen is a business analyst? I know, I know, I, too was like what the freakin heck is that? You must have to have a PhD from Harvard or something to do something like that. That other lady - maybe she could bring cookies to the Council meetings!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Religion and Why It Matters

The script tells us that religion should never enter into who you should vote for.

Defenders of Eric Jergensen say that we should not consider his religion when considering which candidate to vote for because religion doesn't matter in day-to-day City Council business. If this is true, why did Jergensen and the other active Mormons on the council seek to undermine the Mayor's office in negotiations with Church following the 10th District Court ruling? Is it because Jergensen honestly believed that giving up the city's easment on Main St. free and clear was the best thing for the District that arguably will be the most affected by it? I have no clue. But one thing I know is the Church requires loyalty of its members, especially those who hold or have held ecclesiastical leadership positions.

In the sacred temple endowment ceremony, members make a covenant with God in which, among other things, they promise to devote their lives to building the Kingdom of Zion (aka the LDS Church). This is held as one of the most important things a Member can do, far eclipsing any matters of a temporal nature. My point here is not to embarrass the church or its members, nor is it to expose the sacrosanct ritual of temple endowments. Rather, it is to cast a critical eye on the belief that members of the Church will always - always - vote in accordance with the interests of their constituents when those interests are in conflict with the building of the Kingdom.

Many have said that agreeing with the Mayor on key issues is tantamount to being his lackey. I'll withhold comment on whether that is true with Janneke House. But it seems to me, as an advocate of separation of church and state, it is better for a candidate to align oneself with ideas that stand on their own merits rather than those that flow from religious doctrine.