A Special Meeting has been called to ask the State Central Committee to re-vote on a proposal that was already presented and voted on at our April meeting. At issue is a Constitution and Bylaws proposal that would raise the convention threshold vote required for a candidate to avoid a primary -- the proposal in question would raise the threshold from 60% to 2/3 (view the agenda and read the proposal…
Republicans and Democrats agree. Even if the caucus system (neighborhood meeting) is not perfect, changing it too much according to many Republicans, and even the Chair of the Utah Democrats, will not be a good thing. Jim Debakis said,
“Maybe the Utah caucus system needs to be changed or revised. Maybe not. But the recently announced initiative proposal to reconfigure the way Utah’s political parties pick candidates, is certainly NOT a good idea.”
Ask yourself the question, who benefits from the primary? We can answer that later.
Sure, we need to streamline credentialing and check in. Knocking an hour or more off the time-frame for the night is seen by a positive for all. But many of the so-called proposals have not been well-thought out for their long-term consequences. Gutting the system will be the same as eliminating it.
Why exactly do we have a neighborhood meeting? Let’s answer the first question, by quoting the LDS Church on this meeting for their answer. http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/first-presidency-issues-letter-utah-precinct-caucus-meetings
“Precinct caucuses are the most fundamental grassroots level of political involvement. They are best served by a broad representation of Utah citizens. Those who attend play a critical role in selecting candidates for public office.”
Are many of Utah’s Republican and Democratic voices being heard? The answer can be seen by the enormous growth of caucus attendance over the last (four) 4 years. Let’s look at one precinct in one tiny place, mine, in Wanship. For years when I first moved here, the big secret was the caucus night. A select few individuals showed up. They held all of the positions for that precinct; Precinct Chair, Vice Chair, County Delegate and State Delegate were all voted on, or assigned. You see, only three (3) people ever showed up. But in 2010 things changed in American politics. Americans began to wake up, and began to re-energize their ideas of liberty from the days of our founders and beyond. They started studying the votes of their Senators and Congressman; they started watching their State Legislators with more vigor. Therefore, in 2010, the people of Utah, came forward, and attended their meetings. My little precinct had 68 people in attendance. It mattered, and so, people showed up. Then in 2012, they did it again. 48 people showed up. Two years of record-breaking attendance. And yet, the naysayers of the caucus system cried that no one was participating.
In Utah, many showed up to their caucus meetings without a full understanding of the process. They had a strong agenda to see Orrin Hatch re-elected, since the last time it was to see Bob Bennett ousted. The job of a delegate is bigger than just one office. There were many good candidates running in a variety of offices, from Auditor, to Governor, to State Legislator and Utah State Senator, as well as the Senate and Congressional candidates.
The delegates should only choose to run, if indeed they are going to participate. This is what sets Utah apart from every other state – the caucus system. Even when a no name, like me, ran for Congress against the well-liked Congressman Rob Bishop, I had a chance. (Not a big chance, but a chance.) The caucus system is the only place in the world that can happen. And winning or losing isn’t always what makes it so great. It is the fact that the delegates become very educated in the issues of the day. Let’s look at the issue in my race, specifically.
The NDAA 2012 was a virtual unknown to many delegates until there was a challenge in the Rob Bishop campaign. Once the dangers of this bill were made public, many people began to understand our liberty is more important than our safety. This is a basic tenet set out by Benjamin Franklin when he said,
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
This wasn’t a Republican or Democrat issue, but an issue of civil liberty.
The delegates received letters from Rob Bishop explaining his vote. I explained why he was mistaken. This became a national issue, and was even the source of the 13-hour filibuster with Rand Paul. You see, the little clause known as 1022, and 1023 in the NDAA 2012 language gives the president too much power over our citizens. Rand Paul’s stance was to get clarification from our president that non-combatants who may be deemed by this language as terrorists could not be fired upon on American soil. These are our liberties and they are at stake. Thank you Rand Paul, and our own Senator Mike Lee for standing up for our liberty on this day. It was nice to have this threat under NDAA 2012 and the Patriot Act brought to the forefront of the American people’s minds again.
Other debates began to emerge as campaigns announced. School trust lands became a hot topic of the Governor’s race in Utah. Morgan Philpot and Ken Sumsion each giving their ideas on how best to handle our land.
We heard about social security reform, debt ceilings, the war on drugs, the wars overseas, ending of federal departments, etc. This is what makes the caucus system work. People that have very little knowledge of government and the “great debate” begin to be involved in that great debate. They begin to see that the media (the ones that make the money) aren’t always truthful. They realize that just being a voter at the end of the day isn’t where the real decisions get made. They also realize that being a delegate (especially a state delegate) requires a lot of focused time, consideration, and effort on their parts to do their precinct justice in being represented. Not everyone can do this job. Not everyone has the time to give to it. Not everyone wants to do it. Not everyone is educated in government enough to do the job. But at your neighborhood caucus you can talk to your friends and neighbors and find out who in your neighborhood is qualified, has the time, and will be fair to all the candidates for office. Each candidate deserves to be taken seriously and treated with real respect. Even if you love your representative, the ideas that are brought forward for discussion make the system work that much better. Citizens become informed directly from their representatives as they vie for votes.
Do not water-down the caucus system with proposals that make it possible for coercion at any level. The votes need to take place in person. The votes need to be by secret paper ballot. The only thing that needs to change is check in. It should be electronic and quick.
So let’s go back to our original question, who benefits from a water-down or elimination of the caucus system? The media, and the wealthy. They win, and you lose. The people that make radio ads, TV commercials, and newspaper ads win. They want you, the people, to be persuaded by sound bites. There is big money in campaigns. People spend hundreds of thousands of dollars before it ever gets to a primary and then millions at the primary level. Follow the money. The primary election does not create a more informed voter, just a voter that has been marketed to the most.
In the Lincoln-Douglas debates, it was hours of discussion on a topic to be rebutted for hours. We must stop asking our society to make important decisions about the future of our state or country, based on sound bites. If we are in a primary mentality only, that is all we have left, and the guy with the most money, most of the time, will always come out on top, principles be damned. This will end our Republic, and we will become a straight democracy. Ask anyone who has studied history, a democracy is the first step toward socialism.
Save our caucus system, and maintain our republic.
A bill passed the legislature this session, that sadly shouldn’t even need to be passed, but alas, we must tell the government where it’s boundaries lie, over and over again.
This bill now sits on the Governor’s desk waiting for a signature, or a veto. I have personally called the Governor’s office asking him to sign the bill, but I have heard a few arguments as to why the state government should require a license to carry a firearm concealed. I would like to show you the fallacies of the argument that the government needs to be involved.
A great guy and good conservative sent me an email stating that while he supports the 2nd amendment, feels that
“…all gun owners need to get a license just as for driving a car. There needs to be a test passed to show you know how to handle a gun safely just like a car. I think the NRA should provide the training and administer the test for a fee. Then the government would issue the license.”
I really respect other people’s opinions, and I do not fault my friend for his views, however, I want to point out some things, that maybe he hadn’t thought about to the blogosphere, since others may feel the same way, and hadn’t thought about some of these things before.
Driving a car and carrying a gun are not the same at all. Do I agree that every responsible gun owner should take a class or two (or ten) on gun safety and gun use? Of course. That just seems like common sense. I would never let my teenager just jump behind the wheel of a car without teaching her how to drive, just as I would never allow my child to handle a gun without proper instruction. But that is about where the similarities end. Truthfully, I don’t even think a driver’s license should be necessary, but let’s save that for another day. Let’s just pretend that I do believe a driver’s license is necessary for today’s example.
Driving a car is a privilege. While you can argue that driving may help you “pursue your happiness”, it does not have the “right to life” attached to it. On the other hand, your right to life, is enabled by your ability to protect yourself. This is a right, and not a privilege. This is fundamental to our living in a free, civilized society. And this right does not come from government, so one cannot be granted that right by government.
Some friends of mine have land up in the mountains. They keep their animals up there. Every day their two young daughters travel by four-wheeler up the mountain to feed the animals. They have chickens and goats, and a few other small animals. This mountain country, especially in the winter has been known for cougars. These girls have the RIGHT, to protect themselves, and should carry a gun with them each time they travel there. Responsible parents, have taught these two daughters how to shoot and handle guns. Yes, they are dangerous if used improperly, but it is much more dangerous to leave them unarmed. They are prepared in case there is any danger. Should they have to get a permit and be 18 years old to protect themselves?
Guns are a part of our heritage. While society isn’t like it was in the days of the wild west, we still have dangers all around us. Our society will actually be safer if we are armed. I feel safer when I see someone carrying a sidearm in public. I know they understand their responsibility as a member of society to only use it when real danger exists, and I know they would use it if necessary, or they wouldn’t be carrying it.
I met a girl the other day at my Republican Women’s meeting. She is a rape victim. She now always carries a gun. She was attacked again, and she grabbed her gun. Her would-be attacker said, “Wrong (expletive) girl.” She replied, “You got that right.” Should she have to go to a class or pay a fee and get a license to have that right to protect herself? It’s called “The Bill of Rights” for a reason.
Utah does have open carry laws, but many people stare or are even scared if they see open carry as our gun culture, sadly, is slowly eroding. Being able to conceal carry, without the government sticking their hand in your wallet or putting you on a list, is a natural right. You have the right to life. You have the right to protect yourself and your family.
It is important that we re-engage the gun culture of our society. It is important that we not treat guns as something to fear, but as something that empowers us, and our communities. I live in a very rural area. Everyone has a gun. I love it.
I hope that Governor Herbert will do the right thing and sign this bill. I can see no reason why he would not. A free people, an armed people, have nothing to fear. So unless the Governor is afraid of us, he would sign it.
Freedom can win.
Jacqueline Smith is going to run as a write in Candidate for County Council Seat C. Please visit the website www.WriteInSmith.com and help us put this county on track.
Thanks to the Park Record for writing two stories (one here and one here) on our efforts to get the two recent tax increases in the County on the ballot in 2014. Sometimes “We the People” must show our elected officials who is boss. As Councilwoman Elliott pointed out, the tax amounts are relatively small on an inexpensive home. Motivation behind the referendum was the ease at which the Council moved forward to pass the tax increase, for a few to bear, and the fact the money was spent before the tax was even finalized.
Mssrs. Hanrahan, Elliott, Robinson, and McMullen (Dave Ure voted no) fail to understand that increasing taxes has a long-term impact on several aspects of our County development. This tax increase comes on top of a school tax increase, and unless the Council balances the budget, we will likely see more County tax increases in the future. Property values normally go down as tax rates go up, because new buyers are reluctant to purchase homes in areas where taxes are increasing. That will discourage companies from moving to Park City, as it becomes a higher cost place to live. The people of Summit County have had to tighten their belts. It’s time the County Council do the same.
Here is a picture of a Summit County Truck that is parked in front of the Boot Barn in Evanston, Wyoming where the County employee drove a heavy-duty vehicle at the expense of the County (translated the tax-payer) to Evanston to go shopping. The picture illustrates that the County Council could do a better job of cracking down on waste in their budget before they start raising taxes.
I got a call from Sheriffintimated to me that the County was planning to cut a number of his deputies if the tax increase did not go through. As a County, I hope everyone comes out to sign my petition so we can send the message to our tax-and-spend Council to take care of waste before they fire police officers. We have plenty of places to cut from non-essential services before we take from the “proper role of government.”
Stay tuned to a bit more on this story in the next few days. The next story just might make your blood boil.
If you would like to help and cannot take around petitions, you can help by sending a check to a PAC helping with this effort to the address below. (This PAC is registered with the State of Utah.)
Citizens for Fiscally Responsible Government, c/o Jacqueline Smith, 1965 S Hoytsville Road, Coalville, UT 84017
You can also contact me by email and I will get you set up to help. You might even be able to earn some money. We have a few weeks left to make this happen.
UPDATE (August 24, 2012): The STAR Forum has gathered some citizens for an application for a Referendum Vote on this tax increase. Please contact me to help gather signatures of Summit County Voters, so we can show this county council we are tired of tax and spend policies in this county.
What would be the best way to get a tax increase through? Can you imagine setting a budget that includes a tax increase, spending the money, and THEN having a final public hearing? Well, that’s pretty much how it’s done. And it’s okay under Utah law.
Wednesday, August 15, a number of residents attended the “public hearing” for the tax rate increase on their municipal taxes in unincorporated Summit County. This tax increase was a 51.7% increase. This was the second public hearing. The first public hearing was not well-attended, because it wasn’t until people got their tax notices and saw the increase that they were up in arms. Let’s just say, the council sees Summit County homes as their money machine.
The council chambers were packed. It was standing room only. Chairs were brought in from other areas of the building. Residents came from all over Summit County frustrated by the seemingly lackadaisical attitude of the council.
For ½ an hour, the council “sold” us their reasons for the tax increase and how important it was for the roads. One of the main points I got out of their sale was, we held one public hearing and no one was there, so we moved forward and already spent all the money because it was construction time and we had to fix all the roads. So, this was nothing more than a “dog and pony show” as one Wanship resident put it, and the public hearing meant absolutely nothing.
I personally stood and asked what items were CUT from the budget in order to make up some of this difference. Were there non-essential services cut? Were salaries brought down to a level in line with the private sector? One gentlemen, Mr. Callahan, lauded the work done by the new machines purchased that save us so much money but cost more man hours to run. I looked up his salary while I was sitting there. In 2010 this guy made $147,000 per year. I doubt he’s taken a pay cut, and I’ll bet he’s seen a pay increase since then. Our county employees are making much better than the private sector, while the private sector has had to tighten their belts significantly. Please remember council, it’s those private citizens that are paying those public employees’ salaries.
With blank stares the council looked at me, until John Hanarhan stepped in to say that the budget has been cut year over year because of less tax revenue. While parts of the budget may have been cut, overall, this is not true according to the counties own records. Carston Mortensen quoted to the council all of their revenues over the last five (5) years or so and it shows either an increase or a leveling of revenue, not a decrease.
Sally Elliot when on to say they have not wanted to let people go in such a tough economy, and so they have cut budgets by attrition. WHAT? This is such a horrible way to handle the public’s money. No one wants to let people go in their business. When the construction business took a turn for the worse, that’s what we had to do. These were people with families, and mortgages. It eats me up inside to let someone go, but the survival of the company has to be considered, just as the survival of the people of the county must be considered. Either a few people were let go or the whole thing goes down. Here is the problem with the “ruling class” thinking of the council: They think that it’s okay to “keep people” because they can just raise your taxes and mine to make up the difference. It matters not at all to them if YOU “need” these people to work for YOU. Or have they forgotten, that YOU are paying the bills?
John Hanarhan and Chris Robinson simply quote Utah code to say they complied by having a public hearing. I pose a question to my council: Is it good practice to comply with the law and simply ignore the public, or is it a better practice to be responsible with the public’s money and be sure the public is heard when their money is being taken through legal plunder? Speaking of roads, Granite did most of the road repair. The road in front of Chris Robinson’s home was done, even though it wasn’t due for repaving yet. And imagine that, money found it’s way into Chris’s election fund from none other than Granite.
Then Bob Jasper, the county manager, actually said it was either the roads get fixed with a tax increase, or the roads get fixed and we lose services from our Sherriff’s department. Really? These kind of scare tactics are tired, and old, and we simply don’t buy it anymore. Either you won’t be safe, or it’s for the children. Can’t the council come up with something new?
I have no respect for Bob Jasper’s position. I didn’t vote him in, and neither did any of you. This position is the rubber stamp of the council. He doesn’t answer to the people, only to the council. Also, for a guy who’s running our county, I for one would like to be able to vote him out if needed. The recommendation to “spend the money” during construction season before a final hearing shows me where his allegiance lies, and it isn’t with the people. Also, I can’t tell you how many times Sally Elliot, looked over to the county manager, or the county attorney for help with her answers. Sometimes she even verbally said, “help me.”
Cuts can be made everywhere, and in a $47 million budget, I’m pretty sure we could have trimmed more than half of this “needed” money from someplace else. Friends of Animals, where Claudia McMullen is making quite a chunk of change is supported by our county tax dollars. Is that necessary, or should the funds be coming from private sources? If FOA is saving the county money, maybe the county should look at privatizing the Animal Control and get their monies worth.
There is money that can be saved even in the Sherriff’s office. We (the tax payer) replace vehicles not on time in the field, but on mileage. All of our officers are taking their vehicles home and many do not live in Summit County. Summit County has the highest paid wages in the state of Utah, and our prisoners are the highest paid prisoners in the state. (Don’t even get me started on the prison pay.) But this is just one department and it is an essential one.
[Since this article was printed I received a call from Summit County Sherrif, Dave Edmonds. This issue of driving vehicles home, after studies have been done, actually saves the county money when officers are assigned a vehicle, because they tend to take better care of their vehicles. Also, we need to remember that there are essential services and non-essential services. Our county is spending WAY TOO MUCH on non-essential services. We can put this tax on as a referendum, and then help the county council cut non-essential services to balance their budget.]
While I’m sure the people on the county council are well-intentioned, they are misguided, and I believe do not understand the proper role of government, nor the great responsibility that comes with handling the public treasury. I need to be clear that one council member did NOT vote for this tax increase. That was Dave Ure.
I bet most of the people that pay taxes in Summit County would be okay with a much more streamlined government in this county. Fewer so-called perks, and more appropriate government, where government does what it is supposed to do, instead of being everything to everyone. Then we could ease the tax burden on our county’s citizens.
- I was frustrated over TARP in 2008. HATCH VOTED YES! I believed that vote under Bush (and I am a Republican) could eventually create the downfall of our economic system. I was trading the stock market that day and AIG was getting the $80 Billion bailout. I knew this was a direct violation of free-market principles, and I also understood history. Anytime a government tries to artificially manipulate the free-market system it either creates a deeper recession or depression, or complete collapse of an economy. It rarely if ever turns out good. That was a Pandora’s Box.
- I began looking into Hatch’s record. There is a website where you can see many of his votes that have been in direct violation with smaller government, or the constitution in and of itself. www.hatchrecord.com This is a page with accurate information.
- Medicare Part D was THE BIGGEST entitlement before Obamacare occurred in this country.
- NDAA 2012 is another huge violation of our civil liberties. (See post)
- SCHIP — bad legislation
- In May he voted against an amendment put forward by Senator Rand Paul that would STOP allowing the FDA to do armed raids against people who drink raw milk, and sell goat cheese without a warrant. Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Mike Crapo (the guy who will be the finance chair from Idaho if Hatch does not return.) all voted in favor of this amendment. This amendment would have put back in place our 4th amendment rights that we are not to be improperly searched or seized without a written warrant from a judge.
- He has voted to raise the debt ceiling $7.6 Trillion dollars (almost 1/2 of our current national debt)
- He has been in office longer than a dictator.
- He is using the same tactics that got us into the mess to try to get us out. It won’t work.
- His son works as a lobbyist for a pharmaceutical company and much of his donation money comes from that industry.
- I’ve heard him publicly say the FDA deserves more money and more power.
- He approved Cass Sunstein as regulatory czar.
- He approved Ruth Bader Ginsberg to the supreme court.
- The Senate Finance Chair should not be someone who has been fiscally irresponsible over the last 36 years.
- Dan Liljenquist worked at Bain Capitol (Mitt Romney‘s company) and I’m sure he’ll get along just fine if he is the president.
- Hill AFB is not in danger. BRAC determines which bases close and which don’t. Hill is getting tons of money dumped into it right now, and we are building the NSA right here in Utah, so it will need close defense of that BILLION dollar building.
- Voted for the Federal Department of Education (and took away the ability for states to have control over education)