Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lawmakers make tough calls – Now it is our turn – Standard Editorial

Today's Standard Examiner editorial praised the legislature for most of the tough calls it had to make regarding the budget. As I have mentioned numerous times we were facing a 15 percent budget cuts and have now rested at 9 percent. Our beloved Weber State has been spared part of the damage that was foretold in the early days of this legislative session. Yesterday we spent quality time with Sen. Hillyard from Logan, regarding these cuts and how it has affected the state.

I agree with the editorial staff about these tough calls, though I don't agree with all of them, they did a good job none the less. Here are some of the editorials points regarding the tough calls this session have produced:

Lawmakers were able to stave off cuts that would have reduced prison beds as well as a parole violation center.

Education has taken about a 5 percent hit. That's a better result than many were hoping for.

School districts will have a tough responsibility in deciding what to do and what to trim with the smaller funds.

Borrowing $2.2 billion via bonds for road construction and building projects - is another good idea. Utah has boasted a good financial record, and these work projects will keep many people employed in these tough economic times. Lawmakers won't touch the $414 million that is in the state's rainy day fund.

I would like to highlight a simple phrase found near the end of the editorial:

Legislators are concerned that this recession will get worse and Utah will need the cash when the fiscal year ends July 1, 2010, or sooner.

Lawmakers have made tough calls this year. However the reason we didn't see 15 percent cuts is because of one time stimulus money and backfills. As Sen. Killpack made clear in our bloggerpress yesterday, "this is one-time money." Once this money is gone, it is gone! If our economy hasn't rebounded by 2010-2011 we will be faced with the same cuts. 2009 needs to be a year of efficiency in our government. I was impressed during the Higher Education Sub-Committee meetings with Snow College President Scott Wyatt (who is a blogger). He mentioned a process his school had gone through to trim their budget. They had late night meetings, sometimes until midnight, talking with all parties involved in how to trim their budgets and be more efficient. We are currently doing this same thing in my company. Not to find reasons to lay off workers, but to make sure we are doing things efficiently and cost effectively.

Now is not the time to spend as you have in the past. Now is the time review your processes and how you are doing business. Your company can still expand, but only after you have reviewed your efficiency and are sure you have the capital to do so. No one should come to 2010 and be surprised if we have to trim the budget again. Instead you should come prepared to do so with a plan. Protests of shock and awe announcing you were caught unprepared, will not hold water in 2010. If your company can save money, start savings for a 9 percent cut now.

The legislature has made tough calls, now it is our turn.

Read the editorial here

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bloggerpress #2

Today was our second bloggerpress put together by Ric Cantrell and the  It was an opportunity to rub shoulders with bloggers such as David Miller - Pursuit of Liberty, Holly on the Hill and Misty Fowler - Saintless.  It was an interesting experience, being their live, and not online.  As bloggers we tend to find ourselves behind our computers and cellphones.  To be in front of the legislators and ask questions was a great experience.  Though I just observed this round, I feel there is a real future for political bloggers and communication with the legislature.  

A number of issues were discussed ranging from transportation, alchole, vehicle registration, and lobbying.  Senate President Waddups, Sen Killpack, Sen. Hillyard, Sen. Valentine and more attended the event. It appeared they we're not quite sure what to think of us.  Perhaps they haven't really read our blogs or haven't made up their minds as to our usefulness. It was always good to have Glen Warchol barking behind us and attempting to get a rise out of the legislators.

As I was leaving Ric and I spoke about the future of the bloggerpress and were we go from here. We agreed our current format works well and the Utah's Political bloggers are very keen and intelligent in their blogging.    I was very excited with what we are working on with the future of blogging.  

As bloggers, some of us are caught in the middle of being a blogger/reporter or just writing down our thoughts about issues as a past time. Either way, I feel bloggers are and will be the new wave of reporters and with the efforts of the Utah State Senate this reality will come sooner than later.  Bloggers are beginning to make a real difference in Utah.  During this past session hundreds of people came to the From Where I Sit blog wanting to know about SB 199 and 208.  My fellow bloggers had similar and even greater success in influencing politics in Utah. People don't go to the Tribune website and search a topic, they Google it!  Our blogs come up first; our opinions, research and links to news articles are what they find.  A new era in Utah news and political blogging is in the works.  I am happy to play a small part in it.

Blogger Press - Meeting Today

After taking another week off from blogging, I am happy to back at it.  Starting today I am blogging from the Utah State Legislature.  I am catching the afternoon piece of House and Senate debates.  Later I will be attending a Blogger Press Meeting,  I am sure we will have some live tweets. 

I will have a summary of the bills I have been following soon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Weber County Lincoln Day Dinner

Last night was the annual Weber County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner. This was my first time attending as a paying customer of the GOP. Usually I have attended as a guest or staff member of some campaign. So instead of running around talking to people about our candidate I was able to sit and enjoy the evening. Besides getting started late, the dinner was great and the evening was well planned. My wife and I have had the privilege of sitting next to Noall Knighton and his wife.
Vice Chair Christie Moore conducted the meeting since Chari Matt Bell was out sick.  National Commiteman Bruce Hough spoke on the election of Michael Steele.  Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert spoke for about 20 minutes on some topic that went on for a long time. Then finally our keynote speaker was Jeff Thredgold. He did a great job speaking on the economy and kept it simple for everyone to understand.  I left feeling positive about the Republican Party and the economy. Jeff did a great job explaining where we are and where we are headed.

I made the effort to Twitter the entire event and you can see my updates below, they are in reverse order so you will have to start from the bottom and work your way up.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Standard Examiner and SB 208 - Editorial

This mornings Standard Examiner editorial attempts to explain why newspapers should be the distributors of the coveted Legal Notices. (See Here)  They lay out a set of unorganized scare tactics to encourage older readers to write their legislators and vote against this money saving piece of legislation.  Where many cities will be savings $10,000 to $50,000, the Standard Examiner would ask you keep the money flowing to them because "newspapers are the best, most efficient place to publish these notices."  

Std-X claims more people than ever read the newspaper:  - True nearly 70 percent of Internet users in America go online to read the news (See Pew Research Center).  Their next claim is they already recognize legal notices need to go online, so they publish their notices online to the Standard Examiner Website.  They failed to mention they charge you a subscription fee to go online and read them. If legal notices are on their free site, I did a search and couldn't find them.  

Next, the editorial staff makes an interesting claim regarding Internet usage: 

"A third of all people will lose access to the notices"

Where did this statistic come from?  Did they really just make this up?  This argument makes no sense. Yes, nearly a third of Americans do not log on to the Internet for news.  But does that mean they read the newspaper too.  The Deseret News has report only 12 out 100 residents receive the print newspaper.  That is 202,000 people.  Moving notices online would give access to a lot more people nearly 498,000 people. (See Here)

One of my favorite lines was in reference to the future state website:
 If by legislative fiat, legal notices are relegated to a clunky, non-user friendly government Web site, fewer Utahns will have access to the notices.

I am sorry, have you seen UtahLegalNotices.Com.  If this isn't a clunky, non-user friendly website, I don't know what is.  They website isn't even formatted right for regular browsers and some of the info on it is from 2005.  There is a six step guide on how to log on, which was last updated in 2006.  I will admit they are working on a new beta site which is supposed to be much better, but they have been trying to use their web technology for nearly four years and all they have come up with is a clunky, non-user friendly website.    The infrastructure for a legal notices website is already in place and to get a good idea of what the state-run website would look like check out Utah Public Meeting Notices. Then feel free to compare the two websites.

The Standard calls SB 208 a loser because it will not reach enough people, but by their own statements people go online to read the news. If we can make the comparison of 498,000 Internet users in Utah and 70 percent go online for the news, that is 348,000 people. In comparison to 202,000 newspaper subscribers, I am not worried about reaching everyone.  The real worry is people who only subscribe for legal notices possibly will leave stop subscribing, but don't worry that Standard will still charge you for their website.  

They call SB 208 a loser because there will now be political influence on legal notices. I can see it now, Sen. Urquhart is looking for a good foreclosure because he will soon have the power to hold up the publishing of a notice so he can get his hands on it.  Seriously, is this really an argument.  

SB 208 is a loser because it will cost the state money to house these notices.  Lets not forget the $100,000 SLC will SAVE in the first year.  Lets not forget hundreds of thousands of dollars local cities will save or the hundreds of dollars local residents will save by this effort.  

Finally the Standard claims media is - free of bias.  To believe any of us are free of bias is absurd and ignorant.  The Standard Editorials are always the bias of the editorial staff, how can one claim they are free of bias.  That is like saying Fox News caters to republicans and democrats alike.

I thoroughly enjoy reading Standard Editorials; however not only was this the worst written editorial, but they are completely wrong.

To see more posts and actually facts read the following:

Oh and here is the editorial:

Monday, March 2, 2009

What is going on in South Ogden?

It has been nearly a week since we have had a quality post on the From Where I Sit blog. That is no guarantee this post will be of top caliber. I took a hiatus from posting last week to accomplish some personal goals around the home. However it is time for a summary of what is happening:

SB 208 - We have been following this piece of legislation closely with a number of posts an quality debate between Joel Campbell and myself. The idea is to move public legal notices to an online website managed by the State of Utah.  This would essentially pull it from newspapers whom are understandably hesitant to the change.  Today the Utah League of City and Towns has endorsed the legislation giving it a huge boost. Of course they would, the savings to SLC alone would be $100,000. Lincoln's Legislative Blog (blog of ULCT) has a nice post explaining some more details of the bill. You can check out their post here (See Here).

HB 274 - Our Esteemed Rep. Wallis has been trying to push his first piece of legislation through.  It seems to have been bounced around the legislature.  During the House Political Subdivisions Standing Committee they discussed the bill regarding some of the issues.  It appears Mr. Wallis has done some good work to update the bill to make it an effective piece of legislation.    Rep. Wallis gave a great presentation with some guest speakers explaining how better use of the impact fees will protect and save the state money.  Everyone agrees impact fees is very confusing and this legislation will help clarify some of the confusion.  Mr. Wallis was praised for taking the time to work with everyone involved make the bill a top quality piece of legislation. The bill passed through committee with a favorable recommendation.   The overall feeling was Rep. Wallis has done such a great job on his first bill and people are very impressed at his work ethic. We made a great decision voting him to the legislature.

HB 66 - A funky property tax bill that threatened public education was defeated today.  No worries there. I have been receiving great emails about this as of lately.  People were passionate about this one.

$2.5 Million South Ogden Basketball Court - As far as we know this is a go, even thought South Ogden City Council admits the majority of South Ogden will not use the dang thing.  I hope we don't come back and wish we had done more on this one.  With the Municipal Elections coming up, it will be interesting to see what issues are brought up.  Raising taxes in election year is usually not popular.  

South Ogden City is having a short city council meeting to discuss the 2008-2009 fiscal budget.  I am excited to hear how we are doing fiscally going into this year.  Will Council member Bradly and Scott Darrington stick to their methodology that South Ogden is not in trouble financially? We will see tomorrow, however I will not be in attendance for tomorrows meeting.  I will be relying on the minutes and blog readers to fill me in on the conversation.  I will be attending our Weber County Lincoln Day Dinner and hope to Twitter and Blog about the night.

We will keep you posted soon.