There was a bill (HB 0362) http://le.utah.gov/~2013/bills/hbillint/HB0362S02.htm in the Utah House Operations Committee recently that had to do with transparency in the collective bargaining process. We all want transparency, right?
Well, apparently not everyone.
I recently heard a clip sent to me by a concerned citizen in Wasatch County, Utah about their representative and what he said regarding transparency. Kraig Powell, the current House Representative for District 54 is on record calling the tax-payers wimps, and comparing transparency in government to transparency in a private business. BIG DIFFERENCE!
Here is a portion of his remarks.
I have typed out this Representative’s statements for ease of reading if you don’t have access to the audio, below my remarks.
The discussion is on a bill that would allow public access to meetings when discussing reform of public pensions or salaries.
- A shareholder of a company and a tax-payer are two very different things. If a shareholder is not happy with a company he simply sells his shares or votes out the CEO or board of directors. If a tax payer isn’t happy, he can’t simply “sell” away his shares. He is taxed involuntarily and cannot simply “opt out.” Yes, he can vote out the current Representatives when unhappy, but taxation will always occur. And a CEO would have a fit if labor were dictating to the CEO what their pay scale had to be. This is why collective bargaining is often seen in a poor light. Employees don’t call the shots. It is the job of those footing the bills to call the shots. In the case of CEO’s, it is the board and the shareholders. In the case of the government, it is the elected representatives and the tax-payers.
- A CEO who has shareholders must make sure that whatever they are creating makes a profit. Government doesn’t actually “create” anything, but uses our money to do the bidding of the tax-payers, and should not be doing the bidding of the employed. Government employees have a right to negotiate, but the tax-payers have a right to listen to the process.
- To use the terms Republic and Democracy in the way Representative Powell used them, was a gross misrepresentation of what our founding fathers discussed. He made some true statements, but misrepresent the bill, by making it sound like if the public attends the meeting, they get to vote. Just because meetings are open and transparent does not give everyone a vote at the meeting. It is still a representative government (A Republic). It is only when each and every person has a VOTE that it becomes a Democracy. That is not at all what this bill would have done. It was simply to open up the process so that taxpayers could understand the bargaining that was taking place with “OUR” money.
- Mr. Powell was very upset with me and others when we went to the tax-payers and put forward a signature petition to stop a tax increase in Summit County. He claimed we were trying to legislate through a democracy. (I called this petitioning my government for redress). However, he feels getting signatures to put yourself on the Republican ballot somehow is not the same thing. I think we can clearly see that Mr. Powell uses these terms to fit his agenda, not to discuss the actual principles behind the words. For more information on a Republic vs. Democracy please click here .
- My next point would be that people are busy, Mr. Powell. We are not WIMPS as you called us. There are so many meetings. County Council meetings, School Board Meetings, City Council Meetings, Planning Commission Meetings, Rec. District Meetings, and on and on. There is no time for simple living anymore. To keep up with all the bills the legislature puts forward is more than a full-time job. This is why we have watchdog groups, like Utah Tax Payers Association, to watch the bills you vote on and give you a score. (Which was about a 50% I believe.) The “tax-payers” you chastise for not running for these positions simply want to attend their daughter’s piano recital, or coach their son’s baseball league. They simply want to keep the fruits of their labor and be left alone to govern themselves.
As you listened to the audio, I’m sure there are other points you know I could make. But it is left to you to decide. The point of this article? Know your representatives. Learn what they are saying when they think the “public” isn’t paying attention. You the tax-payer are not wimpy, you are busy. You want to trust these people with your money and your liberty. And maybe, sadly, you simply cannot.
I encourage you to vote for Wylder Smith, the person running for District 54, that simply wants to protect your money, protect your liberty, and allow you to govern yourself.
Transcript of audio:
(Vice Chairman) “Representative Powell”
(Kraig Powell) “Thanks very much Mr. Vice Chair, I will try to be brief. I have listened to the arguments, there are lots of good arguments on both sides. What we do here in public policy and government is usually balancing, so anybody who is on one side of this issue, please don’t think you have the complete truth. Um, we have to always find something somewhere in the middle. This has been a policy in Utah for a long time as near as I can tell. And what the Representative is proposing seems to be a major change. In order to make a major change I think that there needs to be a major justification.
Here are the problems that I have with what has been proposed today. First of all I think that the meetings will be unworkable. Because there will be different sections of the meeting and will be continuing going in and out and in and out, and …well wait a minute that’s not salary, that’s not benefits. Can we do that.. closed, … can we do that closed, I don’t know can we do that closed or not.
The analogy has been made that the taxpayers being as shareholders basically. I don’t think that corporations and CEO’s bring shareholders to every meeting when they are setting the employee salaries. In fact I think that the corporations and CEO’s would probably resist that. The shareholders certainly have a voice in the corporation but they don’t negotiate the salaries and benefits of the employees in the corporation.
Next, there has been this discussion that somehow the taxpayers have some right to be there in the room at every minute of these negotiations. What I want to remind the members of committee is our constitution set up a government form that’s called a Republic. A Republic is different than a Democracy. In a Democracy what you do is you get everybody and they come to all the meetings and they make all the decisions. And our constitutional founders made a very specific decision not to have a democracy. They thought there was some decisions that are better made by our elected representatives. And that those are things the elected representatives need to make.
Basically, I think what’s happening in this instance is the taxpayers are wimps. Taxpayers are not going to their local school boards and their not going to their city councils and getting elected to these bodies. If there are decisions that are being made there what is wrong? Why aren’t you going and stopping this from happening? I would suggest that you do that and go get elected there and make sure that these decisions that supposedly are not being made in the tax-payers interests.”
(Vice Chairman) “Representative, can I ask that you wrap up?”
(Kraig Powell) “I will be very quick. It’s a failing of our Democratic and Republican democracy system, not a failing of labor. In fact one way to make sure you do that is make sure they are not taking any campaign contributions from these types of organizations. I mean that is one of the biggest concerns right there. Maybe that’s the problem, I would make sure … try clean up the process. And run for the offices yourself.
This is my last point Mr. Vice Chairman.
The legislature is in complete control of our cities, our counties, and our school districts. We pass laws all the time here that change everything that our school districts do. We can pass a law and change the pensions, we could completely remove the pensions if we want to, so let’s just do that. Rather then get involved in very sensitive meetings that are going on and are working well, that we could change if we wanted to. Instead we are going to inject ourselves at the legislature. I think the legislature is wimps as well. If we are not passing the pension reform that we need to solve this problem and instead we say we are going to disrupt your meetings. For those reasons I just can’t support the bill.”
(Vice Chairman) “Thank you Representative, I didn’t realize your last point was going to be a planet instead of a dot.”