Wednesday, February 20, 2013

By Mike Nelson


On the Level
Rep. Bishop’s response to State of the Union full of obstructionist language
“Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.”
—Charley Reese, March 1995, Orlando Sentinel
Children are funny. Last week, the managing editor of the Box Elder News Journal, Sean Hales, relayed a story about his kids. They had been asked to clean up their toys in a cooperative effort as they both had been playing with them, but the older boy refused to help pick up the toys which belonged to the younger boy. Clearly this is evidence of an ideological partisan stalemate. In a similar—but more adult and important version of this story— Utah’s First District congressman, Rob Bishop, released a statement in response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address last Tuesday which conveyed his general disappointment with the speech and was indicative of the obstructionism that has become a hallmark of the congressman’s work in Washington, D.C. Last fall, Bishop made a campaign stop in Brigham City where the congressman stumped for Utah gubernatorial candidate, Gary Herbert. At the town hall-style meeting, Bishop suggested to the crowd of constituents that if they want him to get anything done, they’ll need to get him a new president. (So, no new president, no work?) Perhaps predictably, Bishop focused most of his response to the State of the Union Address on the issue of defense sequestration and the spending cuts that would be felt across the Department of Defense (DOD) and certainly inside every single American household. If lawmakers on Capitol Hill cannot dodge sequestration, it would mean that the DOD would be forced to subtract $46 billion—with a B—from the funds that had been projected for the remainder of the fiscal year. “Instead of introducing a feasible plan to halt sequestration, especially the cuts to national defense, the president is using this financial crisis to raise taxes on hard-working Americans and businesses in order to generate new revenue,” said Bishop. There’s the roadblock. Is it the president’s job, to introduce legislation to Congress? Absolutely not. It is the task of the legislative branch—the House and the Senate—to introduce bills. Congress should be proposing the “feasible plans” to halt the seemingly inevitable sequester that so many vehemently oppose but voted for nonetheless. “In the last election, President Obama told us that sequestration ‘will not happen,’ and he should be held accountable to that statement,” said Bishop. The sequester—an idea created by either the president and his advisers or congressional Republicans, depending on who you ask— looms ominously on the horizon and unless the political gridlock surrounding the issue is addressed it will become a harsh reality. The Department of Defense, which is already operating on a continued resolution that only takes the nation deeper into debt, will not have the necessary funds to adequately train or equip service members and would be forced to furlough a huge number of civilian employees. Soldiers count on the continued resolution for more than training and equipment. Thousands of National Guard and Reserve service members on short or long tour active duty orders draw their pay checks from those accounts and many would have to be released from active duty. “We have already cut $487 billion from our budget plans over the next 10 years,” Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told members of the House Armed Service Committee in Washington, D.C. last Wednesday. Carter suggests that further defense cuts would be devastating. Apparently the Senate Democrats have put on their big boy pants and have taken action themselves, according to a presentation before their caucus leaders last Thursday addressing the sequester. But it will take both sides working together to replace the 10-year sequester by evenly splitting spending cuts and new tax revenue, they say. Sequestration is an example of a problem that can be laid at the feet of the very people we have elected to represent us and who have created the conditions in which these problems not only thrive, but are nourished, by the very politicians that stand in opposition to them. Bishop said last week that he was impressed when President Obama indicated that the federal government doesn’t need to solve every problem. However, the federal government—Congress in particular—is too often let off the hook and not held accountable to solve the problems that they helped to create. Regardless of who came up with the idea of an automatic sequester, it took votes from both sides of the aisle to make it happen. Ultimately it will depend on the political will of Congress—through the demand of the citizens that voted them into those positions—to play nicely and to pick up their toys when they’re asked.

Brigham City should remove council member from consideration for city administrator post
If Brigham City mayor pro tem, Tyler Vincent, wants to cast a shadow of doubt over anything else he might do as a city council member or future mayor, he is well on his way. His support—and nearly single-handed appointment—of Scott Ericson to the city administrator position, a post from which current administrator Bruce Leonard will retire in July, certainly puts him on that road. It would be in Vincent’s—and the city’s— best interest to remove Ericson as a possible candidate for the position, if for no other reason than adherence to the old adage: avoid even the appearance of evil. Maybe “evil” is too strong of a word, but at best, this deal certainly reeks of cronyism. All the things leading up to last week’s closed city council session about filling the vacancy, and the resulting announcement that the position would be opened and advertised for applications, gives us pause. The fact that handing the position over to a city council member was the first consideration, instead of conspicuously posting the position, should trouble any citizen concerned with transparent government, due process, and any other number of values upon which our democracy is based. We urge residents to voice their discontent over this breach of public trust. But let’s start at the beginning, which, for the News Journal, was several weeks ago when a concerned party within the city called and offered a prediction that Vincent would run for mayor, after which, Leonard would be let go and Ericson would be installed in his place. Following a few calls to city officials, it became clear that the scenario wasn’t that far-fetched. Leonard was already planning on announcing his retirement, and Ericson and Vincent had already started getting

their ducks in a row. It was apparently no big secret among the city council or the administration that Ericson was bucking for Leonard’s position. Also about this time, Ericson—who had once been employed by Congressman Rob Bishop and had left his employ to manage the campaign of gubernatorial shoo-in, Gary Herbert—found out that he would not be installed on Herbert’s cabinet as he had allegedly been promised. Two weeks ago, during the closed session of the Brigham City Council meeting, it was only a few vocal council members and Mayor Dennis Fife—who had been previously stripped of administrative personnel duties by the same city council, headed by Vincent as pro tem—who stopped the immediate appointment of Ericson as city administrator and called for the position to be advertised. Two seemingly simple and potentially insignificant facts would seem to indicate that Ericson fully expected to be appointed that night. The first, is that Ericson was excused from the council chambers for the closed session, indicating that he was the subject of the discussion. The second is that he waited for nearly an hour outside the chambers with his wife, who does not regularly attend council meetings. It is also telling that, according to sources within the city who attended the meeting, Vincent openly apologized to Ericson for not being able to appoint him on the spot. As if all that isn’t suspicious enough, the city opened the job posting at the end of the day on February 12, and it closed on Feb-

ruary 19. With the weekend and a Monday holiday, the position was open for a grand total of three business days. What’s more, Human Resources Coordinator Rick Bosworth, who was listed as the sole point of contact for applicants, was out of the office for the entirety of those days. But wait, there’s more. The listing, as it was posted on the city’s and DWS websites, indicated the position was for an “assistant” city administrator, with no language indicating it was a fourmonth training period, after which the person would become city administrator. We believe the language of the job posting might deter highly-qualified candidates, but also creates a scenario where the council could appoint whomever they council desired at a later date. All things considered, it looks as though Ericson’s appointment is a done deal, and the city is simply doing what it has to do to “check the boxes.” In an interview, Vincent said “I think Scott is highly qualified and he would do a great job. I can’t imagine anyone more qualified than him,” and suggested that Ericson’s connections in Salt Lake and beyond—which Ericson built as an employee of both Rep. Bishop and Gov. Herbert— would make him an effective lobbyist for the city. We would suggest that if the city needs a lobbyist, Ericson might well be a prime candidate, but the city needs an administrator, not another politician. No matter what color of lipstick you put on this pig, it looks ugly. At no point should an acting city council member ever be considered for an appointed position, if for no other reason than for appearance’s sake. In fact, we believe the city should pass an ordinance prohibiting such actions in the future.

Rep. Perry pushes intrusive government
I feel compelled to write what is the second letter to the editor I have ever written in my life. Representative Lee Perry (R-Dist. 29) is sponsoring or co-sponsoring three pieces of legislation that are heavy handed, intrusive, and expensive. HB 13, “Protection of Children Riding in Motor Vehicles.” would make it a crime to smoke a cigarette in a car when children under 15 years are present. What this is, is government using the power of law to criminalize a currently legal behavior. It is a stark example of lifestyle policing. The title masks the fact that it is government intrusion to impose its will on a weak minority. Utah’s founders certainly understood what it was like to be a disliked minority, and that is where smokers in Utah find themselves today. The Centers for Disease control states that childhood obesity is the number one health concern for America’s children. If Rep. Perry is sincere about his desire to save our kids, then he must confront the parents of obese children. Not such an easy target as smokers, to be sure. I won’t hold my breath for a law criminalizing having obese kids to be put forth by Mr. Perry. HB 308, “Indoor Clean Air Act Amendments” expands Utah’s Indoor Air Quality act to include a company’s vehicles. Business owners will now find themselves regulated, subject to fines and civil action, for allowing smoking in their vehicle fleet. They could be writing some very large checks if they or an employee smokes in one of the firm’s vehicles. I think most of us would like for government to make business easier, not more regulated. If I owned a business, I might be dialing up the good Mr. Perry to tell him my views on this. HB 283, “Safety Belt Enforcement Amendments” would allow officers to pull over drivers for not wearing seat belts on any road with a speed limit over 45 mph. Currently a driver can only be cited if they are pulled over for something else and are found not wearing a seatbelt. What a nice present for the tourists. Welcome to Utah. Here’s your ticket. I for one, would hope law enforcement is spending time on more important things. Law enforcement is always stretched thin; do we want them to be spending time pulling over drivers for not having on a seatbelt? Rep. Perry’s phone number on the state web site is listed as 435-7207838. I’d encourage anyone interested to give him a call. Maybe he is serving the people here and I’m the one who is mistaken, let him know one way or the other. For the record, none of these laws will affect me, I just think Utah believes in minimal government, and Rep. Perry seems to think we need a whole lot more. Robert J. Rossberg Perry In a related matter, I’m not sure Scott Ericson is the kind of person to trust with government power. At the last city council meeting, DeAnna Hardy told of her experience with Scott at the last Republican County Convention when she ran to become a delegate to the State Republican Convention. After the balloting was over, DeAnna’s husband asked Scott Ericson twice to see the ballots, and was denied twice. He then asked Ben Ferry, a former Utah legislator, for assistance. Ben told Scott all the Bear River East delegate candidates needed to see the ballots. When the candidates looked at the ballots, DeAnna had won after all. We need to pay attention and not take shortcuts in politics – it can lead to serious intended or unintended consequences. Becky Maddox Brigham City

Questionable ethics?
Since becoming involved in politics, I have had some rude awakenings. When I first ran for a Republican state delegate position at the county convention a couple of years ago, I was wrongfully eliminated from the Bear River East precinct, after officials said I received fewer votes than others. My husband went to the then Box Elder County Republican Chairman, Scott Ericson, and requested twice to see the paper ballots. Scott denied both requests. My husband spoke with former Representative Ben Ferry about the situation and Ben told Scott to let us all see the ballots. The paper ballots verified that I had been wrongfully eliminated. We have ethical problems within our city leadership. Scott Ericson is presently on both the Brigham City Council and is a member of the Republican Party State Central Committee as well as worked on Governor Herbert’s re-election campaign, and security detail. Scott violated a citizen’s right to audit the county state delegate voting process. If it weren’t for Ben Ferry, the truth wouldn’t have been revealed and I would have missed the opportunity to serve as a state delegate. I feel there is an inner circle built into our local political system, and within the state. This is not right. We need leaders who are honest, trustworthy and have the highest moral character. Those who have violated these ethics should voluntarily step down and not be given further government positions. DeAnna Hardy Brigham City

BC hospital a fine facility
Many people say that Brigham Hospital is just a first aid station. I have heard it over and over, but I think it is not. I have had two surgeries there in less than six months, and the care I had there was excellent. The surgeries both went exceptionally well and the care after was great as well. We have some really awesome nurses that work there. Dr. Higbee did my knee replacement. He has “magic fingers” and did an unbelievable job. I have had others tell me the same thing. I don’t understand why people think they have to go out of town for this surgery. We have great medical options right here in town. Diane Zundel Brigham City

A weekly newspaper established in 1896, published every Wednesday by the Box Elder News Journal, 55 South 100 West, Brigham City, Utah, 84302. Periodicals postage paid at Brigham City, Utah 84302. Postmaster, send change of address to P.O. Box 370, Brigham City, Utah 84302-0370. 435-723-3471 or Fax number 435-723-5247.

Elected officials should not be appointed
Thanks, Brigham City council members, for tabling the decision to appoint a new city administrator. I agree with Mayor Dennis Fife that the job should be posted and resumes and qualifications need to be considered so the best candidate with the proper training and experience can be hired. However, I have a major concern with the process of replacing the city administrator as reported in the Box Elder News Journal. It is unethical for someone from the city council or any other elected office to be appointed or hired to a paid position. I suggest the city council pass an ordinance prohibiting any elected official from serving in a paid, appointed position for a minimum of 2-3 years after they leave office. It’s too easy for a person in an elected position to be appointed to office by their “friends.” This method ignores anyone else who may be as well or better qualified by training or experience from being considered. Even if the elected official is the best person for the job, the relationship would just be too cozy. People on both sides would expect special favors from each other, and decisions by both parties would always be suspect. We don’t elect people to office for their benefit, but for the community’s benefit.

Publisher/General Manager ............................................Casey Claybaugh Managing Editor ............................ Sean Hales - Associate Editor .........................Michael Nelson - Staff Writer ................................ Lori Hewlett - Ad Graphic Design ............................................................ Darrell Murphy Graphic Design/Webmaster ..................................................... Erin Young Advertising Manager ...................... Katie Cook - Office Manager .................................................................... Bell Navarro Production Manager ............................................................... Terri Owens
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Thanks for celebrating the Year of the Snake
Foothill Elementary PTA would like to thank the very generous contributors who supported the 2nd Annual Children’s Chinese New Year Celebration, including Hunan Village Chinese Restaurant, and many other local businesses! Also appreciated are the Administration, Faculty and Staff of Foothill Elementary, and the many Volunteers who donated their time and services to the success of this event. Xie, Xie! Gong Xi Fa Cai / Xin Nian Kuai Le! Calista Jennings, Ayako Warner, Deanna Weeks, Angie Cefalo, and Committee Members Foothill Elementary PTA

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