Archive for January, 2008

Rep. Donnelson Takes on Illegal Immigration

January 29, 2008

Thank goodness that representative Donnelson is sponsoring the Immigration Enforcement Act in the Utah legislature this year. We have to do something about the hordes of Godless, Marxist plundering our pretty, great state. The local police are a perfect solution. They have loads of extra time on their hands with which they can take on extra responsibilities. And what would amount to racial profiling is sure to help cement relations with the local Latin communities. Brilliant idea.

I wish the majority party in Utah would concern themselves less with shadowboxing, and more with creating legislation dealing with real issues. Yes, illegal immigrants are technically criminals. Might I suggest that if we are going to get tough on crime, we should concern ourselves first with those whose illegal activities have been more destructive to our nation than those of families sneaking into the country in search of a better life?

The maniacal pursuit of illegal immigrants smells more of bullying (to say nothing of racism) than anything remotely related to justice.

Positive School Ideas in the Utah Legislature

January 24, 2008

It is refreshing (and frankly pleasantly surprising) to see that the Utah legislative leaders have (seemingly) finally given up on their school voucher fetish and begun to look at more productive and sensible methods of improving our school system. I’m particularly pleased to see year-round school being proposed, both by Senator Howard Stephenson in SB-41 and by Governor Romney Huntsman (guess the presidential coverage is getting to me…) in his 2008 State of the State address.

I’ve long been a fan of year-round school. The traditional school schedule was fashioned to meet the needs of rural/agrarian communities and family farms—a community type and lifestyle which describes a smaller minority of Utahns each year. This antiquated system provides no real benefits to our students. The smaller breaks would aid retention and make smoother the transition between grade levels. With significant breaks every couple months, students would experience less scholastic burnout. On the other hand, the lack of any one monolithic break would reduce the summer doldrums, that time a few weeks into summer vacation when mothers start to hear that dreaded “I’m bored.” From a financial perspective, year-round school system would enable more efficient use of our school facilities and alleviate some of the problems with overcrowding—which, in a state challenged to educate an enormous student population in as cost-effective a manner as possible, should be a paramount consideration.

No system is perfect, and year-round school does have its disadvantages. Accommodating a family’s need to keep all their children on the same track can be tricky. Traditionally summer events (summer jobs, family vacations) are compromised. Various extra-curricular programs would experience challenges. But I believe that the drawbacks pale in comparison to the educational benefits. Year-round school is not the only nor final answer to the dilemma in education (increasing funding is still crucial). But it can and should play a key role in improving the quality of education in Utah.

Michigan Schemes

January 15, 2008

There are a number of serious problems in the system with which we elect our President. I’ve discussed a couple of the big ones before. But the worst problem with elections is that people keep playing politics with them.

I just learned that the Daily Kos has been encouraging Democrats in Michigan to tamper with the Republican primary. Kos wants voters to cross-over and help Romney win Michigan; not because he respects Romney, but so that the Republican primary remains an open battle without a frontrunner, forcing them to continue spending their money and wearing each other down. He figures that the Democrats can only benefit from a prolonged war within the Republican primary.

Kos justifies this sort of shenanigan because the Republican party has monkeyed with Democratic primaries many times over the past forty years. I doubt the Democrats have been pristine over the same period, it doesn’t matter even if they were heretofore innocent of such political games. Kos should remember the words which his mother, like all mothers, must surely have spoken when he was a child: “two wrongs don’t make a right.” I don’t care what the foes of liberalism have done; I’m concerned with what we liberals do. I’d rather lose with honor than win by betraying the very principles of a liberal democracy.

I have no problem with the concept of cross-over voting itself. As a liberal (though not a registered Democrat), I’ve done it myself. I was rather impress with Bill Bradley during the Democratic race, but felt that Gore had an insurmountable lead. So I chose to vote in the Republican primary (back before the Utah Republican cabal closed their primary). I voted for McCain, because I felt he was the best remaining candidate among the Republicans. I was not committed to voting for him, but I wanted the best possible choices on either ticket, so that no matter who won, the nation would be in good hands.

Why can’t politics be conducted with integrity? Why must so many plot and connive? Democracy is about strategyThat sort of cynical approach is what corrupts a party in the first place. Call me naive, but I truly do believe in the goal of a nation where we participate in the Democratic process in good faith, whether voting or campaigning, and fulfill the potential of democracy.

Goodbye Rocky, Hello Ralph

January 14, 2008

Out with the Old, in with the New. Rocky has moved on to other things, and Ralph Becker is now mayor of SLC.

A grateful adieu to Rocky. The pugnacious and passionate mayor really earned my respect for his vision and determination to improve the quality of life in SLC and to stand for principle over the course of his administration.

No, Rocky isn’t a perfect human being. We’ve all heard the news reports about turnover in his office. I’ve had the chance to meet several people who have worked in his administration and in politics. Rocky is apparently incredibly demanding. He is abrasive, even abusive, with his subordinates as well as those who oppose his agenda. I’m disappointed that he has hurt several people who supported him, and do not endorse such behavior. Everyone deserves to be treated civilly, and those who are helping you deserve respect. It is disappointing that he couldn’t find a way to nurture those who rallied around him.

Many of my faith criticized him as anti-Mormon. Those accusations are groundless; he fought against over-zealous conservative members who sought to take advantage of the power of the LDS Church to exert unrighteous dominion over the rest of the population. But that is not the same thing as persecution. I felt he handled the Main Street Plaza situation, bungled by the lawyers of the city and church, as fairly as he could.

Whatever his flaws, he deserves respect for his accomplishments as mayor. He promoted a strong liberal agenda with zeal and enthusiasm, to great effect. He gave hope and a voice to the strong progressive element in SLC. He helped energize them. He fought the good fight against the intrusions of the legislature, as he did against those in the surrounding counties who selfishly placed their convenience over the environmental and social well-being of our communities. He aggressively promoted a reinvigoration of the SLC social and cultural scene. His administration made SLC a far greener city. He boldly encouraged some unorthodox yet very creative initiatives, such as the ban on bottled water (a move I wholehearted endorse; just pack a thermos and fill it for free!). He leaves the city in great condition for his efforts.

This was probably a good time for Rocky to step down. It seems that while firebrands are often critical to catalyzing great accomplishments (John Adams and the Revolution, Teddy Roosevelt and progressive trust-busting, Ralph Nader and the consumer protection movement), the effectiveness of their caustic methods may diminish with time. Better to leave at the top of his game than find himself impotent.

In leaving now, Rocky has handed the city over to a person who seems imminently capable of running with the baton handed to him. I’ve been impressed with Becker since my wife took a class from him. She shared stories of the ideas he’d shared, ones very similar to those I’d studied and admired. I was impressed by his entire campaign. And with only a few days past in his administration, he’s already begun to impress with his efforts to establish a domestic partnership registry (not a good as allowing true freedom of conscience regarding marriage, but the best he could do with our state legislature watching over his shoulder) and to greatly expand public transportation.

Best wishes to Rocky as he promotes our liberal agenda, and to Becker as he builds on the great foundation Rocky left.