Friday, August 12, 2011

Urban Forestry Commission Meeting 8/11/2011

Last night was our long awaited Urban Forestry Commission meeting.  The first one we've had since April.  As frustrating as the wait has been, we have only had one item on our agenda to even have a meeting--the tree inventory.  Over and over we have discussed this and in reality it has been the top priority since 2008.  We re-emphasized the priority again with Jon Andersen and asked that all measures be made to get this finished ASAP.  We have tasked him to certain goals and we need to report back on September 9th.  Mainly it is about finding someone to do this.  Someone one with either the knowledge or experience to go out and inventory the trees.  It is 3/4 done, but we need just a little more.

It is frustrating to see this not get done.  Especially when the Urban Forestry budget for tree maintenance currently is just a good guess.  If the inventory was done we could more actively manage and plan a successful budget to maintain South Ogden's trees.

For the first time we had someone from the public attend the meeting.  Immediately I assumed it was someone running for city council.  I was correct.  I will hold the name until the 14th, when campaigning can officially begin.  But we had a great discussion afterwards about the city.  Apparently he has been a reader of my blog and had lots of great ideas.

Elections are coming soon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Manti La Sal National Forest - Going Down Hill?

This past weekend my family took our annual camping trip up Manti La Sal National Forest.  I have been camping up there for as long as I can remember.  Coincidentally my wife also camped up there when she was a child as well.  It has been our slice of paradise our escape.  So much so, last year my wife and spent our entire anniversary up there in our favorite camping site.  I have had so many family reunions up there I can hardly count.

This year was different.  Our usually camp site is off the beaten path near a small reservoir called Gooseberry.  For years it was one of the most quite and secluded locations ever.  This year it was crawling with ATVs, fisherman, kids, dogs and criminals.  The bathroom was dirty and trashed.  Trash was everywhere.  Parties were held into the night.  It was so bad we decided to leave earlier than intended.  As we went to hook my father's trailer we realized his $600 trailer hitch had been stolen.  Seriously!  Who steals a trailer hitch!  Fortunately we were able to get a new one in Fairview, UT and pull the trailer home.  But it was so disappointing.

My childhood adventure location has now been spoiled.  Perhaps for good.  The rangers were no help either.  They promised to come and file a report, but forgot to come.  The spent most of their time writing tickers for unlicensed ATVs that drove by every 5 minutes.  Next year we will probably be looking for a new place.

What has happened to our society to care so less for nature and for those around us?


Comments Welcome

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dear Mr. Hatch - Please Resign.

Dear Mr. Hatch,

This week I received an email from you on why you voted "No" to the debt ceiling increase.  Your reasoning was two fold: No Balance Budget Amendment and No Improvement to Credit Rating.  It is obvious to everyone how hard you are trying to appeal to the new conservative Tea Party movement.  In reality your attempts come off as pathetic and disappointing.

In 1977 you became our senator, this was two years before I was born.  My first political campaign event I attended was walking in a Senator Orrin Hatch parade float in Nephi, Utah at age 12.  My mother wrote you a letter about issues when I was 10 and received a hand written response.  Needless to say, I have been a fan.   30 years ago you chose a path, a way of thinking, a style of leadership.  This style has served you and all of us well for many years.  You quickly rose to power and popularity, you were in your element.  Now you are trying to change who you are to stay in office.  Why change Orrin?  If you really believe in Utah, if you really believe in United States, leave with honor.  If you are defeated even half as bad as your colleague Bob Bennett your years of services will be remembered by my generation as the "guy who got kicked out," instead of the senator who served our state.

Senator, when you beat Senator Moss in 1977 your top campaign issue was that Moss had lost touch with his constituents having been in office nearly 18 years.  You are now double Moss's time in office and your constituents ideology has changed and beliefs have evolved.  You are now out of touch with your constituents.  Don't feel bad, when you are in office this long it happens.  Constituents change, realize you have been in office for more than two generations of constituents.  It was inevitable for these generations to change in thinking as each generation tends to do.  You have fallen victim to the same issues that plagued Senator Moss.  No one remembers Moss any more.   Don't let this happen to you.

Senator Hatch you should retire.  Endorse a candidate and help this person and Senator Mike Lee get the most out of their time in office.  Stop making a fool of yourself pretending to be a Tea Party originator and stick to your guns of who you are and having been in office for 30+ years, then bow out gracefully.  I don't agree with all the Tea Party ideals, but I would hate to see what happened Senator Bennett and Senator Moss happen to you.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Debt Ceiling and Is Mike Lee Really a Tea Party Member

Just recently Congress approved the plan to raise the debt ceiling.  What does this mean?  Well essentially the U.S. Government, by constitutional law, is allowed to borrow money.  Article I, Section 8 empowers Congress to tax and borrow money and the use of this section has put us in a crazy situation today.  Essentially over many years (at least going back 12 years) the U.S. Government reduced the amount of revenue it collects or cut taxes and in return borrowed money to pay for things like, national defense, infrastructure projects to the tune of 14 trillion dollars.  To break it down in more simple terms we quit a good paying job and then borrowed money to buy a house and a car. Don't get me wrong, I don't agree with either decision.

President Obama found himself in a difficult situation being pinned to the wall by angry Republicans that wanted to cut spending on government. Never mind the fact they voted for most of these tax cuts and spending increases over the past 12 years, but now it is suddenly a big issue.

In the end, no one has really won.  GOP Republicans settled, but alienated tea party voters for failure to cut, cap and balance.  President Obama lost political capital that if he had better advisers, he should have seen this coming 7 months ago when they renewed the tax cuts.  (Then again this seems to be a trend for him)

The only people who really won in this fight is the factioned tea party.  They now have a new cause to re-unify themselves.  For awhile tea party activists have been finding themselves divided and lost.  The idea of cut. cap and balance has focused them again on a single cause. But you need to look closer into the So-Called Tea Party Members.  Some are playing the fence very closely.  Senator Orrin Hatch is clearly one of those.  He voted for the last five debt ceiling raises but now all of the sudden he cares about balanced budgets.  But I want to also point my attention to Senator Mike Lee.

Senator Mike Lee's new book, The Freedom Agenda: Why a Balanced Budget Amendment is Necessary to Restore Constitutional Government, talks about the debt ceiling and how it should be raised.  Essentially making the argument the debt ceiling must be raised but only if congress is willing to make spending changes, which they have done, for example:
"Congress has been far too willing to increase the debt ceiling, a maneuver that presidents and legislative leaders regularly secure through their jeremiads that failing to do so will lead to catastrophe. These claims, in fact, have an element of truth, in that uncertainty and disorder would likely ensue if Congress refused to raise the debt ceiling without first changing the way it spends money."
Lee, Mike (2011-07-18). The Freedom Agenda: Why a Balanced Budget Amendment is Necessary to Restore Constitutional Government (pp. 70-71). Regnery Publishing.  
However the main stream Tea Party philosophy has evolved to this cut, cap and balance idea.  Meaning Cut the spending, Cap the deficit and Balance the budget.  Many Tea Party legislators voted against the new debt plan including Senator Mike Lee.  However later in his book he says the following regarding such a vote:
"Thus, it would be risky and even irresponsible for Congress to refuse to raise the debt ceiling as a means of “forcing” a balanced budget overnight. In addition to causing countless practical problems affecting hundreds of millions of Americans..."
Lee, Mike (2011-07-18). The Freedom Agenda: Why a Balanced Budget Amendment is Necessary to Restore Constitutional Government (p. 71). Regnery Publishing.
In addition to this he said:
"The most risky aspect of not raising the debt ceiling is this: at a time when 43 percent of our annual budget relies on borrowed money, no one knows exactly what would happen if the government suddenly had to stop borrowing. This helps to explain why Congress routinely votes to raise the debt ceiling: though irresponsible, the decision is perceived as less irresponsible than refusing to raise the debt ceiling and potentially plunging the entire federal government into chaos."
Lee, Mike (2011-07-18). The Freedom Agenda: Why a Balanced Budget Amendment is Necessary to Restore Constitutional Government (p. 71-72). Regnery Publishing. 
To his fairness he goes on to explain that we would be irresponsible to borrow because it would make us look bad, even though he has also said to not borrow would make us look bad.


I will break it down.  On one side of his mouth he says, It would be bad because it could hurt millions of Americans, on the other side he says it would be bad because it will hurt our credit.

You choose which one to follow?

Either way, his final vote was no, because spending cuts are not good enough, he said. This was his way of playing the fence but not 100 percent agreeing with his Tea Party folks.  Remember, he said forcing a balance budget amendment with the debt ceiling is the wrong way to go and voting against would be bad for millions of Americans.  Yet he voted against it, because his New Reunified Tea Party told him so. In reality he got nearly $3 trillion in cuts but it wasn't enough.  Why?  Because the tea party told him so.  Watch him closely, he is bending with the wind as the tea party movement continues to shape itself.

Comments always welcome.