Posts Tagged ‘Utah’

Essential Primer for Candidates in Utah

December 12, 2011

So – you’re considering running for office in Utah. Congratulations! (Or condolences, as the case may be.) In order to help you in your quest, I have compiled an all-important list if you are to be taken seriously as a candidate. In no particular order, here are the absolute essentials you must know:

*That the people who live here are Utahns, not Utahans. I don’t care what the dictionary says.
*How to pronounce Tooele, Hurricane, Hooper and Oquirrh.
*That we take our college football VERY seriously. U and Y are not just letters in the alphabet. And the “Holy War” is not referencing the middle east.
*What a caucus is and why all your friends want to go there
*That Fetch, Flip and Freak are acceptable swear words – but the other one is not.
*The difference between a “Steak House” and a “Stake House”
*That if you want to win, you do NOT campaign on Sundays, Monday nights or when the Y plays the U. In any sport.
*That you actually can buy liquor in this state. From a state-run liquor store. With 25 forms of identification.
*That Utah drivers have NO problem passing on the right.
*That we also forget how to drive in snow, even though it’s on our roads 6 months out of the year.
*That we can go either 50 or 80 in the fast lane and wonder what’s wrong with all the other drivers.
*You must know how to make funeral potatoes and green Jell-O with carrots.
*The Legend of Timpanogos.
*That being a 10-cow wife is a compliment.
*That “election party” means plenty of Coke, Diet Coke and BYU brownies. And red licorice if it’s Rob Bishop’s party. Or water if it’s Jason Chaffetz’ party. And you bring it.
*That your convention displays must be designed by a Relief Society president and must include red, white and blue floral arrangements.
*That you must throw approximately 250 pounds of taffy at each parade you attend
*That if your opponent’s name is Lehi, Nephi, Moroni, Joseph or Emma, you automatically lose 20 points.
*That Utah is the only state you can NOT mention religion in your speeches. We’re not the Bible belt.
*But you might be OK slipping in some Book of Mormon references if you don’t name your source.

Now you know how to run in Utah. You’re welcome.


Senator Dan Liljenquist wins Legislator of the Year

November 2, 2011

Governing Magazine recently named Utah State Senator Dan Liljenquist (R-Bountiful) the legislative Public Official of the Year. Dubbed “The Change Agent” by Governing, Liljenquist was honored for his work as the architect of two of Utah’s most significant pieces of legislation in recent memory – pension and Medicaid reform.

The Public Officials of the Year awards – given out to a handful of national leaders every year since 1994 – have become the nation’s preeminent honor for state and local officials. Congratulatory messages came from all over the state and the nation, including Governor Gary Herbert, Senator Mike Lee and Congressmen Jason Chaffetz and Rob Bishop.

Senator Liljenquist was quick to praise his fellow legislators. “I’m proud of all my colleagues who put long term financial responsibility above short term concerns,” he said. “This is a victory for the State of Utah.”

His colleagues were equally quick to praise him. Senate President Michael Waddoups, (R-Taylorsville), who said “This recognition says a lot about Dan, but it also says a great deal about the State of Utah.  In other places, innovators like Dan are relegated to the back bench.  Here, smart ideas carry the day.” Senate Minority Leader Ross Romero offered his congratulations and remarked: “Senator Liljenquist’s leadership, attention to detail, and focus on fiscal sustainability has served the State of Utah well.”

Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins stated the obvious – that Senator Liljenquist was willing to tackle some of the “sacred cows” in today’s political arena. “Dan has crafted articulate solutions to intractable problems – said by some to be political suicide – and he has done so in a
way that has become model legislation for others to replicate,” said Senator Jenkins. “Fiscal responsibility is an issue that is at the forefront of every state in the nation right now. We can find solutions. All we need is the courage and good will to make them work.”

The Standard-Examiner ran a story with the headline “Sen. Liljenquist tabbed “Best and Brightest” while the Trib noted that “State Sen. Dan Liljenquist was named the top legislator in the United States.” The Deseret News ran a glowing editorial about Utah’s success story, saying in part that “Utah has managed to take care of long-term systemic problems in ways that make other states envious.”

It is this type of real reform and forward thinking that make Utah the best-managed state in the nation. It’s time we had that kind of political courage and leadership in DC.

Help Salt Lake win $1 M to fight hunger

December 21, 2010

With just a click of the mouse, Utahns could help Salt Lake City win $1 million to help Utahns at risk of hunger. Walmart and GiftCard Bäks are working together to bring awareness to Walmart’s Fighting Hunger Together campaign which will award funds to non-profits fighting food insecurity in the city that records the most votes on Walmart’s Fighting Hunger Together website.

Walmart, GiftCard Bäks and Utah Food Bank are encouraging all Utahns to vote for Salt Lake City from a list of 100 communities where hunger rates are the highest. The city with the most support will receive $1 million in grants and the next five cities with the highest support will receive $100,000 each. Salt Lake City is currently in 4th place (up from 46th place only a few days ago).

Right now, 1 in 7 Utah children is at risk of hunger. Salt Lake City has a food hardship rate twice the national average with 18.2 percent of families not able to afford regular meals. Utah Food Bank, which serves 150 food pantries statewide, would receive a significant portion of the funding if Salt Lake City earned the most votes.

“We have increased our food distributed by over 30% in the last year in response to the growing need,” said Jim Pugh, CEO of Utah Food Bank. “Unfortunately, this is not a trend that we see reversing and the $1 million would go a long way to helping individuals and families in need. Utah Food Bank touches every county in Utah, so every vote for Salt Lake City is truly a vote for those we serve throughout Utah.”

Utah Food Bank provides food to a statewide network of 150 emergency food pantries and agencies statewide. Last fiscal year, Utah Food Bank distributed 30.8 million pounds of food, the equivalent of over 23 million meals for families and individuals in need. Utah Food Bank also served 221,237 Kids Cafe meals, delivered 26,472 senior food boxes and answered 114,994 calls through its 2-1-1 Information & Referral service. For more information about Utah Food Bank call (801) 978-2452 or visit Find us on Facebook at and on Twitter at

This holiday season, a simple click of the mouse can make a real difference. Get out there and do it, then spread the word and ask others to vote for Salt Lake too. Together, we can help make sure no one in Utah goes to bed hungry. The voting deadline is only 10 days away – so get ‘er done now while you are thinking about it. Let’s do it!

Meet Derek Miller, one of Utah’s best

December 7, 2010

One of the best parts about blogging is the opportunity to meet so many great people. Derek Miller is no exception. He is remarkably talented, very bright, has a super-impressive resume – and he’s not even 40 years old. In fact, earlier this year, he was named one of the top “40 Under 40” by Utah Business. He is currently the Deputy Director of GOED. He previously directed the Utah Division of Real Estate and spent several years in Washington DC rooting out waste, fraud and abuse and maximizing efficiency with a couple of different organizations. He advises the Governor on a number of issues related to the state’s economic well-being.

Derek graduated from BYU with a joint Law and Master’s of Public Administration degree in 1998. He had the opportunity to join Arthur Anderson in a brand-new office in Washington DC. While there, he focused on finding inefficiencies and making recommendations for improvement for a number of public sector clients.

After 9/11, wanted to do something different. He stepped outside his comfort zone and cold-called on a consulting job to make government better and more efficient. He got the job working with the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington DC. He acted as Counsel in all aspects of the legislative process: negotiating and drafting legislation, staff hearings, and providing policy and legal advice to Members of Congress. He also conducted congressional oversight of federal agencies, focusing on waste, fraud, abuse and inefficiencies.

When Jon Huntsman, Jr became Utah’s governor, Miller was heavily recruited to come work in Utah. At the time, Congress was in the midst of the transportation reauthorization bill, something that only happens once every seven years. He told the administration he needed to see that process through, but would be done some time in March. The last day of July, just before Congress left for the August recess, the bill finally passed. Miller got a phone call the next day, Friday, and was asked if he could be at work in Utah on Monday. Being swamped with the major undertaking of his job, he and his wife, Laura had not had much opportunity to discuss moving to Utah.  They spent the weekend talking about it and by Monday, had decided they would accept a position and make the move.

Miller accepted a job with the Department of Commerce and became the Director of the Division of Real Estate. He felt this would be the perfect opportunity to practice what he had been preaching – efficiency, reducing waste, and streamlining government. He believed that if you give employees a chance and the right environment, you’ll see some great results.

Here’s an example: the Division of Real Estate has over 60,000 licensees and many renewals are processed every month. When Miller took over, all 60,000 licenses were being sent out and then returned through the “regular” mail. Each month, envelopes would be spread across a conference table, then painstakingly stuffed, closed, stamped and mailed. Miller immediately moved to digitize the process. When he asked about bringing it online, he was told it would be $15,000, could only be done on a certain type of scanner, with special kinds of software. So, he went to Staples, bought a scanner and a program that would import directly to the computer and they were in business – for a few hundred dollars. Almost overnight, turn-around time went from 3 weeks to 3 days.  It’s that ability to look past government bureaucracy and figure out a way to get things done that has earned him accolades around the country.

In Jan 2008, he joined GOED – the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Miller is now the Deputy Director and oversees all day-to-day operations, working with Director Spencer Eccles. Miller had previously been over international trade and diplomacy, as well as corporate recruitment.

“Use every arrow in your quiver.” Miller said, speaking about the many areas where GOED works. “We have lower taxes and a diverse economy,” he said, “unlike other states like Michigan who had all their eggs in one basket.” GOED does corporate recruitment in other states, works with Utah companies providing business assistance and training, has rural offices focused on helping those companies with their unique needs and works internationally as well.

Derek and his wife Laura live in Salt Lake with their three children. He is a real benefit to our state and one whose career is worth watching.

No, Mr. Matheson, Philpot did NOT quit on the job

November 1, 2010

(This was posted by Ray Matthews, avowed Democrat from Salt Lake county. Ray and I don’t agree on a lot politically, but we do agree on this. It’s time for Jim Matheson to come on home now. I am reposting it here with Ray’s permission. I have made no changes to the original.)

On Fox13 News last night, October 30, Rep. Jim Matheson said of Republican challenger Morgan Philpot, “He quit on the job. I have the sources to back it up.” He’s referring to his negative attack ad accusing Philpot of missing 233 votes while in the Utah state legislature and then quitting the legislature mid-term.

The clear take-away from Matheson’s advertising is that Philpot went AWOL during his stint in the Utah State Legislature and that voters should be wary because he’ll repeat this as your Congressman.

I did some fact-checking of the newspaper sources cited by Matheson and in the legislative record here’s what I found out:

Philpot was elected in 2000 and served from 2001 through 2004. This service includes four general sessions of the legislature, numerous special sessions, and service on interim committees. A representatives’ voting record is his or hers recorded votes during sessions as recorded in the House Journals.

Let’s examine his last year in the Legislature, the 55th Legislature 2003-04. He was present, accounted for, and voting every single day of the First Special Session, Second Special Session, 2004 General Session, First Veto Override Session, and the Third Special Session. His voting record was 100% in every session except for the General Session.

As most people realize, Legislators are very busy during sessions on and off the floor. They’re often with constituents, lobbyists and others when votes are taken and these are recorded as “absent or not voting” in the record. In 2004, on any given recorded vote, typically four to eight members were absent. During the General Session there were 607 recorded votes. Philpot voted in 465; he was absent or nonvoting in 142. In total for all sessions of the 55th Legislature, 2003-04, there were 620 recorded. Philpot voted 487 and was absent for 142 giving him a “batting average,” as it were, of 785/1000.

Philpot was clearly not AWOL. He probably missed more votes than the average representative, but his record was still likely higher than that of some others such as Representatives Bourdeaux, Dillree, Hendrickson, Christensen, and Dougall. I spot-checked the earlier years and my impression is that Philpot’s attendance rate in those years was even higher. Matheson’s implication that missing 233 votes during four years as a legislator is atypical and irresponsible is simply wrong. Any reasonable person going through the voting records for those four years will not single out Philpot from any other representative for a noteworthy record of absences.

The Office of Legislative Printing kindly sent me copies of the House Journals. I’ve loaded them online where you can download them and review Philpot’s voting record for yourself:

* House Journal 2004
* House Journal 2003
* House Journal 2002
* House Journal 2001

Now, what about Matheson’s accusation that he left the legislature “mid-term” to go to Michigan. I examined the newspaper sources that Matheson cites. Here is what the sources show:

The General Session of the 2004 Legislature began on January 19 and ended on March 3. Philpot was accepted to law school and announced to the legislature in March that he was leaving. He did this to give his successor time to meet the filing deadline to run for his seat. On or before March 17, four other Republicans filed as candidates for Philpot’s District 45.

During the 2004 session, Philpot’s prized legislation that he sponsored was the Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarships (H.B. 115). It had passed both houses, but on March 23, Governor Walker vetoed it, but she left the $1.4 million funding intact for the Legislature to re-authorize. Just prior to Walker’s announcing this in the veto session on April 26, Mark Walker won won 70% of the vote at the Salt Lake County Convention to get the Republican nomination for District 45.

Philpot continued acting his duties through The Third Special Session on June 28. In mid-August the Philpot family moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan for Morgan to attend the Ave Maria Law School where classes began on August 23.

Why did he not resign before he moved?

The Salt Lake Tribune explained the reason:

“Anticipating that his vetoed Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship bill would resurface for debate at a special legislative session in September, Philpot opted to wait before severing all Utah ties. ‘That bill is important to me,’ said Philpot, who, upon learning that Republican legislative leaders failed to drum up enough support to revive it, added, ‘I’ll probably resign soon.'” (Trib Aug 22).

The Tribune noted in that same article, “Philpot isn’t drawing a salary and has yet to miss a vote.”

The special session that Philpot expected wasn’t called. Philpot missed the Interim Committee Day on September 15; not much more. By September 15 Mark Walker filed to run for District 45 and the following day Philpot officially resigned by sending a letter to House Speaker Marty Stephens with his resignation effective September 30. By September 21, Walker had already raised $8,335 for the race and in October Mark Walker was formally appointed by Governor Olene Walker to replace Philpot.

In moving to Michigan to attend law school Philpot only missed a few inconsequential meetings and those were just in the weeks prior to the November election. The accusation that Philpot quit on the job mid-term is a real stretch of the truth. It remains to be seen if the negative smears by the Matheson campaign will sway the electorate.

# JOURNAL of the House of Representatives of the State of Utah. FIFTY−FIFTH LEGISLATURE 2004 GENERAL SESSION.
# “Here are candidates who beat Utah filing deadline.” (18 Mar 2004). Deseret News.
# Bernick, Bob Jr. and Spangler, Jerry D. (19 Mar 2004). “1/3 of lawmakers facing a contest in own parties.” Deseret News.
# “Republican county conventions.” (25 April 2004). Salt Lake Tribune.
# “Lawmakers are assured they’re not that popular – On the Stump: Political Briefs.” (22 Aug 2004). Salt Lake Tribune.
# Rolly, Paul and Jacobsen-Wlls, JoAnn. (30 August 2004). “Flag Flag-abuse law under fire, again.” Salt Lake Tribune.
# Warburton, Nicole and Stewart, Kirsten (16 Sep 2004). “Candidate lists change at deadline.” Salt Lake Tribune.
# “Legislator resigns to attend law school” (16 Sep 2004). Deseret News.
# “Candidate lists change at deadline.” (16 Sep 2004). Salt Lake Tribune.
# Loftin, Josh. “Incumbents outraise and outspend.” Deseret News.
# “Vacant seat filled in the Utah House” (21 Oct 2004). Salt Lake Tribune.
# “GOP replacement set after legislator resigns.” (23 Oct 2004). Deseret News.

Protecting the secret ballot – Utah’s Amendment A

October 11, 2010

Consisting of just a few words, Utah’s Amendment A – to paraphrase Joe Biden – is a big effing deal. The amendment reads:

Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to specify that elections currently required to be by secret ballot include elections under state or federal law for public office, on an initiative or referendum, or to designate or authorize employee or individual representation?

The right to a secret ballot is an essential and fundamental principle in our society. When the right to a secret ballot is removed, individual liberties and freedom decline.

This type of amendment has garnered national attention over many months. It originally passed out of the Utah legislature in March of 2009.  Nationally, the “card check” or “majority sign-up” movement is being promoted by Obama, the Democrats and big labor. Card check is a method for American employees to organize into a labor union simply by signing a card, rather than by vote. Instead of holding a secret ballot election where employees can vote anonymously, card check would mean that the employees would unionize as soon as they reached 50%+1 of the employees signed the card. Opponents argue that signers could be coerced into signing through intimidation and pressure and that private ballots are a basic American right. A 2004 Zogby study showed that 78% of union members supported keeping the secret ballot system.

However, passing the “Employee Free Choice Act” (another name for card check), has been a key plank for the Obama administration. Not surprisingly, the effort has been actively supported by the AFL-CIO. Earlier this year, the national president, Richard Trumka, said “”I think we’ll get health care done and I think we’ll get labor law reform done before the year’s up.” Just a couple of days ago, he hinted that there might be a vote on this bill during the lame duck session.

By voting YES on this amendment to the Utah Constitution, Utah will maintain the right to a secret ballot. The Utah Taxpayers Association held a press conference yesterday where they announced their support for Amendment A, and the pledge they sent to every candidate in Utah. The pledge simply states:

By signing below, I declare my support for Constitutional Amendment A, SOS Ballot. My signature also authorizes the Utah Taxpayers Association to publicize my support FOR Constitutional Amendment A, on the November 2010 ballot.

On October 20th, the Taxpayer’s Association will announce which candidates have signed the pledge – and which have not. Expect to see a majority – a super-majority, even – of supporters.

Corroon and Utah’s economy

October 11, 2010

Oh, Peter.  Please.  Just stop talking now.  Utah actually got voted the state LEAST LIKE California.  Hint: That’s a good thing.

Matheson’s desperation is showing

October 11, 2010

Congressman Jim Matheson is finally facing a potentially tight election- the first one since 2002 – and he’s getting desperate. He has been trying to fly under the radar, with zero town halls and only one live debate, held at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon in St George. He avoids letting anyone know he’s a Democrat. (Try finding the letter D, a donkey, or any other symbol on his signs. Or his website. Not there.)

His votes finally have scrutiny, the blogosphere is paying attention and the price of ignoring the Internet is catching up with him. (Seriously – check out and see what I mean!)

In an amazing coincidence, pro-Philpot and anti-Matheson signs have been disappearing all over the district. Intersections have signs for local candidates, Senate candidates from both parties and plenty of Matheson signs – but no Philpot signs, even though they are replaced regularly. The prime targets for these illegal removals are the very visible Matheson=Pelosi signs that Utah volunteers have been placing all over the second district.

Last night, 4 separate groups of people, in 4 separate cities, were caught in the act of removing signs and with startling similarity, all told the very same story – they were doing it for the good of the community since they didn’t think they complied with city ordinances. St George, Lehi, Sandy and Murray and they all with the exact same story. What are the odds?!

Oh, and speaking of desperate freefall…….


Jim Matheson, king of spin

October 8, 2010

If you can’t run on your record of voting for the stimulus, for Cash for Clunkers, and for Nancy Pelosi, then by golly, spin, spin, spin.

Congressman Jim Matheson is deflecting and twisting when he tells Utah Policy Daily that his GOP opponent, Morgan Philpot “is saying things that are just not true – like his ad that says I’ve only sponsored two bills” in 10 years in the U.S. House. “That is demonstratively false – I’ve done a lot more than that.” Except what the ad actually said was that he had only PASSED two bills while in the US House.

Matheson also has a new ad out that says he knows “Every penny counts” – so surely that’s why he voted to raise the debt ceiling twice in the last year, or why he has twice earned the “Big Spender” rating from NTU. He also asserts that he didn’t vote for a bailout and while it’s true he didn’t vote for TARP, he DID vote for the stimulus package. And son of stimulus. And son of stimulus 2……

Matheson – whose campaign is almost completely funded by outside PACS – also sent out fundraising letters decrying FreedomWorks “coming to Utah.” These are people “who know nothing about what matters to Utah families.” Really? Really?!*I* am FreedomWorks in Utah, Mr. Matheson. I DO know what matters to Utah families. I write about what matters to Utah families. I advocate for what matters to Utah families – and guess what – it’s not more debt and failed stimulus programs. It’s surely not the Pelosi/Reid/Obama debacle Matheson so clearly favors. Larry Jensen is FreedomWorks in Utah. He lives in Salt Lake County and works for Utah families and their rights every single day. Darcy Van Orden is FreedomWorks in Utah. Becky Pirente is FreedomWorks in Utah. All Utah residents, all here, on the ground working to keep the freedoms you and your fellow Democrats seem so intent on wrenching from us. WE are the ones placing signs, walking neighborhoods and talking to people. And we do know Utah.

Corroon hearts Obama

September 23, 2010

Gee, I wonder why Corroon is not using this clip for one of his campaign ads.

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