“Befuddling, not Convincing”

The SLC mayoral race is a bit cathartic for me. It is the one election here in Utah where I feel I can be on the winning side, where the best possible candidate might actually win. This year, I’ve been a fan of Becker from the get go. He has a background in urban planning, a good foundation for making decisions regarding the city, and was by far the most progressive candidate within a reasonably progressive pool.

Buhler, on the other hand, was my least favorite candidate. I don’t like the idea of a major who seems interested in pandering to the whim of any given private entity—even if that entity is the Church to which I belong. He is more interested in running against the current mayor than any candidate actually in the race (much as Lavar Christensen was more interested in running against Nancy Pelosi than the congressman whose seat he was seeking). And he was far and away the most conservative of the mayoral pool. Luckily, this is SLC, and Becker has a substantial lead over the conservative Buhler.

Unless I’m missing something big, I don’t see how Buhler’s marketing will help him. His primary message is to promote his career efficiency. “A Doer, not a Dreamer.” Call me a cynic, but I am not impressed that a legislator solidly within the overwhelming majority of the legislature was able to accomplish things. If he wants that to mean something to me, he needs to provide specific examples where he did something which wasn’t handed to him on a silver platter by the rest of the dittoheads in The Leg. Did he ever do anything which wasn’t blessed by the Republican majority, which involved some diplomacy and negotiation with significant opposition. So far, I haven’t heard of any. And what is wrong with being a dreamer? Once again, the conservative tries to shaft the liberal for being idealistic and thinking big.

The day we came home from our trip to Boston, we passed a billboard for Dave Buhler for SLC Mayor. After seeing that ad and its two taglines, we were even more perplexed. The taglines? “A Doer, not a Crusader.” Dave, Rocky isn’t running. Your opponent is Ralph Becker. if you can’t distinguish between Ralph and Rocky, how in the world do you expect me to believe you will be able to see the distinctions in the issues and challenges you’ll face in the office? You can’t just solve things by wailing “Crusader! Rocky! Pelosi! Gay Marriage”—especially when many of your constituents (including yours truly) like Rocky.

And the other catchphrase? “An Underdog, not a Blueprint Man.” Okay, now he’s contradicting himself, or at least his previous favorite slogan. Isn’t an undog by definition a dreamer? Regarding the second part, what in the world is wrong with an executive officer who is comfortable using blueprints? A blueprint is, after all, simply a plan; a vision which has been thought out, realistically considered, and prepared for implementation. Sounds like a good thing in an executive to me. And how in the world is being an underdog related to blueprints for the purpose of comparison and contrast?

I smell desperation in the air.

22 Responses to ““Befuddling, not Convincing””

  1. lamonte Says:

    I just discovered your blog and what a great present for Monday morning. I’m glad to know there is at least one more soul out there who is willing to admit to being a Mormon and a liberal.

    Although I no longer live in the Salt Lake Valley or the state of Utah, I follow the happenings there by reading the Deseret News every morning and reading the comments from bloggers who reside there.

    Your comments about Dave Buhler are right on the mark. In true Republican fashion, he has set up the straw man (Rocky Anderson) and then tries to convince the voters that Rocky is the one they are voting for or against, not Ralph Becker. And I wouldn’t doubt of the majority of the Republican voters will go along with that line of thinking. Wouldn’t it be great to have a mayor that is not only interested in, but also an expert in matters of urban planning? I’ll keep a good thought for Ralph come the first Tuesday in November.

    By the way, I’m interested that your wife is “an aspiring architect.” I have been a registered architect in Utah since 1981 (probably about the time the two of you were born.) My career has morphed into a different path than I imagined because I now work on “the owner’s side of the table” managing the work of architects and contractors on behalf of my owner/employer. Best of luck to her as she progresses in the profession.

  2. Misty Fowler Says:

    I’m with you on this one. I think yesterday it clicked as to why I don’t like Buhler, especially since the primaries. He’s not running for mayor, he’s running against Becker and Rocky. He doesn’t want to be mayor, he just wants to beat Becker and Rocky.

  3. andrewsmiracledrug Says:

    The “crusader” one is what really gets me. Buhler spent much of his time on the Council arguing against Mayor Anderson’s crusades. Isn’t a counter-crusade still a crusade?
    And I just don’t get what’s so bad about being “a blueprint man” (or blueprint woman). Being a mayor requires planning, one hopes.
    And the implication that one would act and not plan sounds like a recipe for disaster. One only need look at our President for proof.

  4. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Amen to almost every comment so far. Becker will be a great mayor, and much more pragmatic and diplomatic than Rocky. I look forward to this in much the same way I look forward to a new president. Bush and Rocky are so similar in their temperaments and stubbornness, it’s almost comical. I have to give props to both for sticking to their beliefs, but major, MAJOR demerits for the other side of that coin.

    The only comment that grated was the “conservative shafting the liberal for being idealist” comment. Idealism is not the exclusive domain of liberalism. Anyone can stick to a set of ideals or sell out. Michael Moore, for one, has sold out just as much as any corporate evildoer out there.

  5. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Lamonte, you will be relieved to know that we aren’t the isolated anomalies some might think. We may still be a minority, but there are more than a few faithful LDSaints in the blogosphere and in our communities. And more and more of us are coming out of the closet every day.

    You’re right, Misty. Buhler isn’t so much “I’d make a good mayor” as he is “Don’t put another liberal in who won’t jump every time the LDS Church says so.”

    Very good point about the counter-crusade, AMD.

    And you are absolutely right, Aaron. Aside from the facts that Rocky hasn’t displayed a consistent pattern of deception and dishonesty in his administration, hasn’t shown evidence of any effort to wildly expand his office’s authority outside of its legal limits, and seems to base his opinions and decisions on science, reason, and facts instead of gut feelings and digma, the two seem exactly the same!

  6. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Derek, I’m going to take a page out of your book and ask you to read my words, for goodness’ sake. I said only that they’re similar in their temperaments and stubbornness, not in their ideals or morality. Good grief.

  7. Derek Staffanson Says:

    No, their temperments aren’t really the same. Illegal and surreptitious abuse of power and irrational unwillingness to look at facts are part of temperment or character. Bush’s characteristic of trying to put on a jovial, “good ol’ country boy” front is also nothing like Rocky. Rocky will tell you you’re “a major league ass-hole” to your face, not accidentally get caught whispering it to his cronies in front of a live mike.

    If you want to compare Rocky to a national political figure from the Republican party, Giuliani is a much more accurate comparison (outspoken, abrasive, and even obnoxious, but still largely rational and with a willingness to look outside the box and take bold steps that astound others).

  8. Christina Says:

    I have to admit to being sad at seeing Rocky go, though I’m glad he’s pursuing national politics. I recently saw a screening of Desert Bayou (http://www.desertbayoumovie.com), which will be opening in Salt Lake City on the 26th. The film focuses on 600 Katrina evacuees flown to Utah after the storm, and prominently features Rocky, who is a constant voice of reason and compassion for the evacuees, even in the face of some mishandling at the state level. The film is also interesting as it uses the evacuees in Utah as a microcosm of some of the racial issues still alive in America…though ultimately it shows just how welcoming Utah was for the evacuees.

  9. Derek Staffanson Says:

    I’ll have to check that movie out, Christina. Sounds very interesting. Thanks for the heads up.

  10. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Dude, I’m probably wasting my breath, but what is with your crush on Rocky? His temperament is EXACTLY the same as Bush. Stubborn, arrogant, and defiant of all who dare disagree. But hey, Giuliani is a good comparison too.

    I find it telling that if you’re talking about the Bush Administration, they’re always “cronies”. What is with everybody’s uninhibited hatred of Bush and everything connected to it? I hate his foreign policy, but he has his good points. He was right on about immigration, and the idiots from his own party that are congratulating themselves today will be gnashing their teeth in two or three years when it’s revisited again and goes the other way. And he’s totally right about social security going down the toilet. I have been against Iraq from Day One, but for goodness’ sake, the man has had unprecedented burdens put on his shoulders since 9/11. If you want to believe the caricatures, that’s fine. But don’t let me catch you preaching about liberals who are given an inaccurate image.

  11. Derek Staffanson Says:

    As I’ve demonstrated, Rocky’s temperament is very different from Bush’s. I have no “crush” on Rocky. He has many flaws (obnoxious, can be deliberately offensive, poorly treats his subordinates, etc), but also has been very good for the city, and I have great respect for the manner in which he has taken very adamant stands on very important issues (Legacy Highway, community activism, environmentalism). On the balance, I highly appreciate his service as mayor.

    President Bush, on the other hand, I do not. He has proven to lack integrity, and while there have been some issues he has done some modest good, the vast majority of his decisions (and those of his party/ideology generally) are those which are harmful to U.S. security, economic health, and social well being. The idea notion that 9/11 put “unprecedented burdens” on the president is hardly accurate; had he chosen to deal with the issue in manner more wise, it would have imposed no “burdens.” Instead, he and his cronies (the manner in which he chooses to surround himself most assuredly qualifies as “cronyism”) chose to take advantage of the catastrophe to push forward their agendas of an unconstitutional unitary executive and U.S. adventurism/imperialism. I hate what he and his supporters have done and are doing to our nation–which is different than your accused hatred of the individual. I will continue both to warn about the extensive damage his neo-conservative policies are doing to our society and denounce the wildly inaccurate slander of liberalism by the Right. You are certainly free to do the opposite or whatever variation of you wish on your own blog.

  12. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Legacy Highway was a principled stand? Speaking of major league assholes, that is exactly what Rocky was when he stalled a deal for years. As far as he’s concerned, anyone who doesn’t live in the city limits is crap on his shoe. Like it or not, another route is needed. Becker will be such a breath of fresh air just to have someone who isn’t so abrasive and dictatorial. Exactly like Bush, only from the opposite end of the political spectrum. Good riddance to them both.

    Bush did have unprecedented burdens put on him. Are you so blind that you can’t acknowledge that. I’ve stated repeatedly that much of what has come since has been of his own creation, but 9/11 set off a powder keg that had been ready to go off for years, and I think Bush deserves the consideration that the Middle East is an incomprehensible situation and God only knows what Gore or anyone else would have done in his place.

    You’re going to write what you’re going to write. Some of it I actually appreciate. When I say “don’t let me catch you,” I just mean you’re full of crap, because you choose to succumb to the delusion that the left is viciously slandered, while the right really are a bunch of hateful, uncaring corporate sellouts. Get me a violin.

  13. mfranti Says:


    who’s paying for the mayor?

    He has many flaws (obnoxious, can be deliberately offensive, poorly treats his subordinates, etc), but also has been very good for the city, and I have great respect for the manner in which he has taken very adamant stands on very important issues (Legacy Highway, community activism, environmentalism). On the balance, I highly appreciate his service as mayor.


    Read dereks words above. His opinion of Rocky is similar to many of us in the city. Why are you hostile?

    Rocky: got things done for the City of Salt Lake.
    Bush: made big messes for the United States.

  14. WP Says:

    Bush, by any measurement with the exception of Collin Powell, has surrounded himself with lackies, sycophants, political hacks and contributors. Condi Rice enjoyed no respect from her predecessor in the Bush 41 regime, namely, Brent Scowcroft. W was an aberration and was not supposed to be but we have Karl Rove to thank for this. Jeb B was the anointed by 41.

    Both Gore and Kerry would have performed better given their choices for administration heavy weights. How about that FEMA director and Katrina?

    A petition has been circulated at Stanford among a number of faculty members there is no place for Condi there. Any sophomore who would take Poli Sci 144 at the U of U would learn more about the Middle East in a semester than Sec. Rice unfortunately.

  15. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Mfranti, why am I hostile? I’m not, really. I started out by saying that Bush and Rocky are two of the most stubborn, non-diplomatic politicians in the country, and that is where the comparison ended. I never even implied that their politics were similar, or compared the effects they’ve had on people. I do dislike Rocky’s disregard for anyone living outside his city, and the grandstanding against Bush, but overall he’s well-liked in his city, and that says a lot, and I can respect the job he’s done.

    WP, you have no idea what Gore or Kerry would have done in the emotional aftermath of 9/11. And you’re a fool if you really believe that a U of U sophomore knows more about the Middle East than Condi Rice. Say what you will about the Bush Administration and her role there, but she’s a smart, accomplished lady, and she’s got a pretty amazing story.

  16. Aaron Orgill Says:

    While I’m on my soapbox, I notice that every single last one of the Democratic field takes every opportunity to run against Bush, which is the same thing you’re griping about with Buhler. I realize you’re not defending Hillary or anyone else, but it’s probably a common practice when you’re campaigning at the end of a controversial figure’s administration.

  17. Tyson Wray Says:

    Greetings, blogger.

    As you are undoubtedly aware, the race for the Fourth City Council
    District is an interesting one. You may have also heard that the
    candidates, Nancy Saxton and Luke Garrott have agreed to appear in a
    public debate, to be hosted at the Salt Lake County Library, in the main
    auditorium on Friday, 2 November 2007, at 12 noon.

    While that’s exciting enough on its own, what’s going to make this event
    completely unique is that RunPolitics.com will be providing a new way
    for regular people to interact with the candidates. In addition to
    attending the debate in person, you can also watch the event live online
    from anywhere you have an internet connection, submit questions for the
    candidates, and vote on which questions to ask the candidates. At
    RunPolitics.com, you can also rate and comment on each candidate’s

    You can find this debate on our Events page, and once you’ve registered
    on the website, you can begin posting and voting on questions of your

    To register, you can use either an OpenID or create a username and
    password for the site. The process is quick and standard, and begins by
    clicking on the “Create Account” link in the top right corner of the

    If you have any questions about our involvement in this upcoming event,
    please contact our Operations Expert, Brady Uselman at

    We look forward to seeing you at the event, either at the library, or
    online at RunPolitics.com.

    Tyson Wray

  18. James Says:

    While I have been privileged being a constituent of both gentlemen running for Salt Lake City mayor, I am disturbed by recent developments characterized as chaotic and organizational atrophy by some observations. Is Ralph Becker overwhelmed by his yearlong responsibility as a candidate for Salt Lake City Mayor? Or, is this a final swagger symptomatic of presumed victory and the real cause for his lethargic campaign performance?

    Mr. Becker missed one debate and arrived late at another campaign appearance because of an unraveling office and an organizational nightmare. Curiously, he snubbed an event sponsored by his peers in the legal profession and expressed more irritation over the inconvenience of interrupting his schedule than support for the issue of affordable housing in Salt Lake City.

    In over two decades of community service, Dave Buhler exemplifies conscientious and tireless service as Cabinet member for the Governor, state senator, city councilman, professor, and commissioner of higher education. By his actions of enthusiastic advocacy, he reveals the sacred obligation he has for his fellow citizens as students, constituents, or colleagues in working above and beyond his duty to honor the trust bestowed on him by us.

    Mr. Becker has many fine qualities and a legacy of principled commitment throughout his career as statesman and environmental advocate. Unfortunately, his election as mayor will very likely hazard his sterling reputation and his record of achievement for the public good. While Mr. Becker is a worthy adversary and competent legislator, these attributes are not acceptable substitutes for executive skills and administrative mastery. In government, creative inertia is the animating agent and guiding principle for all bureaucratic activity. If he cannot tame his own campaign apparatus, then how could he possibly hope to master the serpentine layers of city hall?

  19. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Last word on this post from me.

    Aaron, the Legacy Highway stand was absolutely principled. And, ironically, it has to do with community models, so it ties into another recent dispute. I may explore the issue in more depth in a future post, so I’ll sum it up very briefly here. Rocky was absolutely right in pointing out that Davis County (to speak very broadly about the population of that county) wants it both ways. They have chosen to move away from the urban center, to take advantage of what they see as the benefits of the suburbs. But Davis County refuses to accept the consequences of their decision: primarily, the consequences of commuting. They insist that more highways should be built to accommodate them and alleviate the consequence of their decisions. They mistakenly believe that more highways will reduce the congestion (it won’t; every time a highway is built in the U.S, auto use increases rapidly to clog the new roads), and aren’t bothered by the side-effects of highway expansion: further sprawl, environmental degradation, increased pollution)—consequences that are not paid by the Davis County residents, but are largely externalized on SLC. In pursuing this course, Davis County is being selfish and myopic. Rocky is right to tell them that they can’t have their cake and eat it to. Rather than petulantly expect the rest of us to cater to their needs, they need to make more mature, reasonable decisions regarding their choices: either 1) develop economic entities within their communities to provide employment and commerce within their communities, thereby reducing the need to commute, or 2) accept the fact that gridlock and long commutes are the consequence of the lifestyle and community model they’ve chosen. It is a principled stand for Rocky to try to force Davis County to accept the price for their choices.

    Is Rocky stubborn? Certainly. So what? So is Nader, one of my modern social heroes. So was Teddy Roosevelt, who may have been reprehensible in his foreign policy, but was a very good domestic president. So was John Adams, one of the most influential of the Revolutionary thinkers. So was James Madison. You act as if being stubborn is innately a bad quality. Being stubborn can be very beneficial, when it comes in defense of a valuable principle. Stubbornly defending a well-reasoned, rational, and logically-sound opinions is entirely different from stubbornly defending ignorant, ill-conceived, assumptions.

    What makes our current administration so tragic is not that it is stubborn, but that it is stubborn in defence of illegitimate decisions, unethical agendas, and lies.

    9/11 changed nothing. Again, this is something on which I intend to blog more specifically about later, so I’ll discuss it only briefly. The president’s role is exactly the same. The problems are exactly the same (the terrorists were there long before they set into motion their obviously carefully laid plan). The solutions are exactly the same (and here’s a hint: those solutions don’t involve beating chests, brandishing armies, or invading countries). The fact that some of the chickens finally came home to roost makes no difference in the international scene–or at least it wouldn’t have had this administration not absolutely botched the response. I’d suggest that the blind ones are those who believe that the world somehow fundamentally changed, that this was the opening of some apocalyptic chapter when the towers fell.

    Would Gore have botched it? I think it is very possible. The Democrats largely have been just as conservative as the Republicans in their foreign policy decisions over the past century (had they been more liberal in foreign policy, there might not have been a powderkeg to explode). But it is that it is Bush who took the presidency, Bush who did make these disasterous decisions, and therefore Bush who deserves the criticism for his decisions.

  20. Aaron Orgill Says:

    You don’t have to respond, but you’re totally wrong. The commute is every bit as nasty in suburban Salt Lake County as it is in Davis County (and in some cases, just as long a commute as commuting to Farmington or Bountiful). It’s as if you think everyone can live in downtown Salt Lake. There need to be options. And it’s not right to say “you chose the lifestyle; deal with the commute”.

    I don’t think being stubborn is of itself a terrible thing. But it can be obnoxious and grating, and often has been with Rocky, as well as Bush. I find stubborn admirable in some, but there is always a flip side. Nader running for president may have been done on principle, but you could certainly say doing so in ’04 was idiotic if he really wanted to make the world better.

    You are right that our problems are the same as they were before 9/11. But at the same time, it’s not realistic to say the world is exactly the same. It changed because of the way we reacted to it, appropriately or not. Have people overreacted about it? Sure, but in a theological sense, it could be the opening of some apocalyptic chapter, if only because, again, we make it so. At the very least, I think it’s foolish for you to say that it would have made no difference had we not botched it. But anyway, we have some disagreements. Nothing new there.

  21. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Okay, I changed my mind. I’ll go ahead and respond, because it isn’t really about Rocky and Bush anymore, and because I sometimes can’t help being abrasive and stubborn (which explains my fondness of people like John Adams, Nader, and Rocky).

    You’re right Aaron. Not everyone can live in SLC. That is why Davis County, S. SL County, Utah County, Morgan County should develop urban cores of their own. Build your own local commercial/industrial centers. Give people the option to stay local and reduce the cars on I-15. That is the “option” they have. If they don’t want to pursue that option, they can deal with the traffic and commutes. The rest of us have no ethical obligation to take on ourselves the cost of their decision to subscribe to the exurban, bedroom community model of living. You make that choice, you live with the tradeoffs. To try to make the rest of us suffer (more roads, more sprawl, more pollution) so you don’t have to live with the tradeoffs of your decision is wrong. We certainly can say this, because it is the principled position.

    Not only the principled position, but the realistic one. Look at the history. Building roads does not alleviate congestion, but merely increase the number of autos running. The legislature, Davis County, S. SL County, et al, (again, speaking very broadly) are ignorant to believe otherwise.

    Speaking of options, I wonder how much more quickly the commuter rail would have been finished had legislators put the money on the moronic and other resources into the project and other alternative transportation options than pursuing the idiotic parkway.

  22. Aaron Orgill Says:

    I am going to be abrasive and stubborn too. No offense taken. You have to be pragmatic sometimes. I’m not saying I shouldn’t have to deal with the commute if I choose to live in suburbia. That’s part of the deal. But we need to be prepared for congestion. It would be ridiculous to just let the situation get worse and worse. I don’t like it much, but people love their cars, and if we’re going to look at statistics, public transport doesn’t do all that much to alleviate the problem either. And more importantly, you are being a real drama queen to suggest that my decision to commute is making YOU suffer. How does another road or more sprawl make you suffer? I am adamant that the pollution isn’t going to get any better if you just allow the state to continue to grow and keep only the I-15.

    On a side note, I find it kind of funny that you are such a fan of John Adams. Most liberals I have met don’t much care for the man who essentially founded much of the ideology of the Republican party.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: