Goodbye Rocky, Hello Ralph

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.

13 Responses to “Goodbye Rocky, Hello Ralph”

  1. Thom Says:

    Egad! A rail line to the airport? Then any bum or carless person could catch a flight!

    Nice to see you back after a couple weeks hiatus. I look forward to future updates on Becker’s work.

  2. Obi wan liberali Says:

    There is a difference between being aggressive and assertive. Rocky never learned that distinction. Ralph on the other hand does. He will provide an enlightened, liberal, leadership to Salt Lake City. I have known Ralph since 1995 and have been impressed by his commitment to liberal ideals, but also to his civil and articulate way of expressing those ideals. Ralph was a great choice for Mayor and though I’m a Tooele resident, I think SLC sure picked a good one for Mayor.

  3. Aaron Orgill Says:

    No, the accusations of being anti-Mormon are not groundless. I can appreciate Rocky’s dedicated service to and love for his city, but it’s foolish to suggest there weren’t times when he was hostile, and even downright antagonistic to the Church. Often the people at the top of the hierarchy, who we revere as prophets and apostles, were very involved in the fights Rocky was vehemently opposing, and very much on the side of those you accuse of exercising so-called “unrighteous dominion”. Which brings me to a much more important question.

    What does “true freedom of conscience regarding marriage” mean? Are you actually suggesting that the Brethren are wrong? I looked back at a post you made in 2006 questioning the Marriage Amendment, and I found myself shocked. You and I have had a number of disagreements, but I’ve never had cause to question your dedication to the gospel which you claim gives you your far-left perspective. As a comment from that post says, it is no trifling thing to second-guess the Brethren. They don’t make political statements every day, so when they do, even if you don’t have a testimony of the position they are taking yourself, you can bet it’s important, and our duty is to fall in line with those we believe to have more complete knowledge and direct inspiration than we do. Otherwise the whole house of cards falls apart, and we are left to say, “yeah, they’re men of God, but not on that”.

  4. Jeremy Says:


    You’re wrong. When the church pursues a course of action that is perceived by an elected public leader as being harmful in any way to the city or district that leader serves it isn’t anti-Mormon for him or her to oppose the church…even if its most revered leaders are responsible for the offending action.

    The leaders of our church have been wrong before and they’ll be wrong again. We can sustain our church leaders while disagreeing with them.

  5. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Jeremy, I’m not saying they can’t be wrong. But there are numerous instances of Rocky making thinly veiled comments about the “Utah Taliban” and other such things just to push buttons. It’s not that he couldn’t tell the difference between aggressive and assertive, he just plain didn’t care, and WANTED to offend people. And my larger point is completely valid. If you support gay marriage, you are in direct conflict with the teachings of the Church, right up to Gordon B. Hinckley. I’m sorry if you don’t like it, but it’s what’s so. I’m not even making a judgment about it, just pointing out that you don’t get to pick and choose what to follow. There are instances of that in the early Church too numerous to mention. Sometimes the lesson we are supposed to learn is obedience. Often people think us narrow-minded or bigoted to follow something we don’t completely understand, but the right course is to accept a prophet either completely or not at all. Prophet, of necessity, means of God. I’m not sure what other definition you could have than that. The correct course would be to look closer, try to understand better, and try to obtain a testimony of whatever is giving you trouble.

  6. mfranti Says:

    Egad! A rail line to the airport? Then any bum or carless person could catch a flight!

    are you serious? please do share.

    >You and I have had a number of disagreements, but I’ve never had cause to question your dedication to the gospel…


    are you questioning a strangers worthiness, dedication, righteousness?tread carefully….

  7. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Mfranti, questioning someone’s position who writes a blog primarily intended to be from a religious perspective, but has an opinion you see as inconsistent, then asking him to explain what he means is far different than casting stones, which you seem to be accusing me of. If we can’t exchange ideas here, then I had the wrong idea what this was, and I’ll move on. And I wouldn’t call Derek a “stranger,” exactly. I’ve been participating on his blog for about seven months, and think I’ve gotten to know him on a far deeper level than some who know him by face but have only superficial conversations.

  8. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Mfranti, Thom was joking. He and I share a very dry sense of humor.

    Aaron, I believe the “Utah Taliban” references referred not to the Church leadership, but rather to the rabid conservative Mormons in the legislature and other political positions who would force their ethics (to use the term loosely) on others.

    And no, since you tend to misread rather than read my posts, I doubt you do know me all that well. For instance, I never said that I supported gay marriage. I very specifically said I’m willing to accept (if not understand) the doctrinal position that homosexual marriages are not sanctioned by God. I will not lobby the Church to perform homosexual marriages. But, as I showed in the post on gay marriage, it is morally contrary to the doctrine of our Gospel to use the government to force all other faiths and groups to abide by that belief. If people believe they are lead by their consciences to participate in homosexual marriage, then we have no moral right whatsoever to prevent them from doing so through legal coercion. While I accept their revelation on doctrinal matters, I have no reservations in my belief that the leaders of our faith made an error in that policy (seeking a marriage amendment on either the state or federal level).

  9. mfranti Says:


    exchanging ideas is good. disagreement is good and asking one to clarify a position you disagree with is also good. but it is never good to question another individuals righteousness or dedication to the gospel.

    I don’t believe there is only one right way to believe in the lds version of the gospel. (and thank god!) this is where personal testimony and revelation play a part in our day to day lives.

    The Savior taught us to have charity and love and to treat all [wo]men equally. this should be the starting point for our views and opinions. Unfortunately sometimes what is taught from he pulpit conflicts with what we personally believe to be true about the gospel of Jesus Christ and it is our responsibility to take it up with God and let his spirit guide our decisions. And since each on of us is different, and at various stages within mormonism, i think it’s possible that we can get different answers.

  10. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Derek, it’s amazing to me how you tell me in almost every post that I am misreading you, then you refuse to be fair to me. FI never claimed to be your best friend, just that I think that on a blog like this one you can get pretty well acquainted with people even if you can’t pick them out of a lineup, while other people you bump into regularly may recognize your face but know nothing about you. If you want to distance yourself from me in that way, fine. Apparently you don’t think much of me to react in that way, but I have never had the problem of accepting you as a brother in the faith, and someone I’d have no problem having as a friend. I’m serious. I’ve been frustrated by your viewpoint at times, but there have been others where I’ve changed my mind because of something you’ve said, and almost always you have something for me to chew on; I rarely have been able to just dismiss your thoughts without some real pondering. If my politics get in the way of remembering that we should be able to overcome heated debate (and I’m not saying it is; I’m just asking you to consider), perhaps we need to stop taking it so deathly seriously and start over.

  11. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Mfranti, I’m sorry you didn’t like the way I phrased things, but I disagree that it’s “never good to question another individuals righteousness or dedication to the gospel”. This is primarily a religious post. I would hope that someone would call me on it if they felt my priorities were out of whack. It’s happened on a number of occasions on this very blog. All I was doing was asking the man to clarify, and expressing surprise that someone who, although very different from me, has consistently shown himself to be sound in doctrine and very devoted, would take a position that is contrary to the gospel as I understand it.

    I agree with you, there are millions of individuals taking different paths to the same place through the same gospel, and I think it’s one of the beautiful things that we are given so much more leeway by our leaders to govern ourselves and do the best with what we have and know rather than be subject to constant babysitting. However, I stick to my guns on the gay marriage topic because it is a question I’ve struggled with myself. My default position for almost everything is libertarianism, and I have known a number of homosexuals, and the association with most of them have been pleasant. I differ from you in the belief that the Brethren are not guided only in matters of doctrine, and if they are coming out and saying we are for this amendment, we should strongly consider the possibility that there is a reason for that and that they see the big picture much more clearly than we.

  12. Derek Staffanson Says:

    It has nothing to do with distancing myself from you, Aaron; nor whether I like you, hate you, find you amusing, annoying, etc. It simply has to do with the fact that you seem to have an incredible capacity to misunderstand my statements, no matter how clearly I present them. Your misinterpretation of my statement on homosexual marriage is a fine example. Don’t take it so personally. I just can’t see how someone who so frequently misunderstands me can claim to know me, no matter how much they enjoy my blog.

  13. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Okay, fair enough. I stick with what I said before. I really didn’t misinterpret anything. I asked what you meant by your statement, went back to a previous post you wrote in 2006 that expanded greatly on your views, and called into question how you reconciled the two. I don’t know if you bothered reading my last response to mfranti, but my basic argument with both of you comes down to this: we should strongly consider the possibility that the Brethren are guided not only in matters of doctrine, but matters of politics, on the rare occasions they feel it necessary to make their voices heard. And that has come into conflict with my own libertarian feelings, so it’s not as if it’s just a gospel hobby-horse or that I have some kind of axe to grind with homosexuals.

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