Friday, December 27, 2013

Bountiful City Managers Apparently have no clue what they are doing

I was stunned today to read today how Bountiful City Attorney Russell Mahan sent letters to four e-cigarette shops telling them on January 1st, they will no longer have a business license and must cease operations.  Why may you ask, because apparently HB95 changed the law regarding tobacco specialty shops and city managers and attorney's in Bountiful don't follow the news with regards to new laws and policies.

According to Tribune reporter Pamela Manson Bountiful's City Manager Gary Hill says they didn't know about the law after issuing licenses to the four locations for 2013.  Apparently the Davis County Health Department was so concerned about these shops for their amazing ability to give tobacco users an alternative to smoking actually cancer killing cigarettes and found these four locations in violation of law that Bountiful is apparently clueless about.  Assuming that because of the holidays everyone took the month of December off, city planners finally got around to issuing the letters with only few days left in the month.

With all four business looking at major losses and potential bankruptcy you can imagine how this is going to play out for Bountiful City.  Vapor Dreams, Vapor R Us, Utah Vapors, and Urban Vapor are getting together to discuss options this week.  Good luck team fighting this idiotic mismanagement of Bountiful City.  Most of them have long term leases and spent thousands in renovations.  Regardless if the HB95 is a good law, city officials are payed big bucks to know what laws need to be followed and help the community grow and instead they have crushed four employers and their families overnight.

I think it might be time for a Bountiful City to take some inservice days, so they can bone up on the laws from 2 years ago and make sure they are compliant.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Gay Marriage Legal in Utah - A Modern Day Mayflower.

Gay marriage is now legal in Utah.  The long battle has finally reached the inevitable solution that all Utahans have the right to marry whom they wish.  Friday a Federal Judge announced Amendment 3 to the Utah Constitution defining marriage between a man and a women and the state ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.  Immediately after the ruling hundreds of people flocked to the local city offices to obtain their marriage license.  This mass exodus to the city offices reminded me of the Mayflower and why people came to the new world in the first place.

The original Mayflower was full of non-religous settlers and religious separatists looking for a new home of liberty.  The separatists were particularly searching for a place where they could practice their beliefs without the oppression of King James.  In Bradford's History of the Plimouth Plantation, the Mayflower pilgrims discussed how they would be governed and felt they would, "...use their owne libertie; for none had power to comand them [sic]."  Meaning they were looking for a world of liberty and that no power could control them but their own.  From this simple idea, a world was born and eventually lead to these United States and a Constitution that grants freedoms to live and worship as we desire.

Those looking for the legalization of same-sex marriage are no different than those separatists, or as people in 1620 often called them--strangers, searching for a chance to have liberty and be under the command no one but themselves.

Where does this leave me and my thoughts.  I do not have same-sex attraction.  My religion, though moderately accepting of homosexuality, does believe it to be a sin to act upon these feelings and attractions.  I subscribe to these same beliefs and that marriage is between a man and a women and I have the freedom and liberty to choose to believe this way.  But this is irrelevant to the decision if someone has the right to marry or not.  My own religion says in it's Articles of Faith, "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." Just as a Muslim, or Jew, or a monk or a vegetarian lives a way I may not agree, I will respect their decision to live as they do and quietly disagree.  Now I know that same-sex attraction by most standards is considered not to be a choice; regardless it is something I don't agree with.  Still irrelevant to the decision of gay marriage.

As I do not agree with homosexual way of life, I do 100% agree everyone has earned those same liberties the pilgrims sought after.  Freedom to worship, freedom to live, freedom to disagree, and yes--freedom to marry.  Our U.S. Constitution enables us to worship and live how we want.  What the Constitution is not is a moral compass to decide what is right and wrong, it only guarantees that all can worship in a way to decide for themselves.  If Phil Robertson wants to be a jerk and only read the Old Testament to crudely criticize homosexuality then let him do it.  Let the world hold him accountable for it, he has that freedom.  If A&E wants to suspend or fire Phil, let them do it, they have that freedom and please remember A&E brought us Gene Simmons Family Jewels which had sexual commentary and crude language left and right.   Finally if gay couples want to be married in the State of Utah or anywhere else, they deserve that freedom.

In summary, gay rights, marriage and more are all part of this same amazing thing that created the United States.  We live in a country where you can be free to be different and that is just fine. The voyagers of the Mayflower knew this and came here in search of it.  So I am encouraging these new modern day pilgrims to make their voyage and seek the rights they have deserved, for they deserve to be ruled by their own liberty to choose marriage and no one else.

"Bradford's History "Of Plimoth Plantation".  From the Original Manuscript.  With a Report on the Proceedings Incident to the Return of the Manuscript to Massachusetts.  Printed under the Direction of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, by Order of the General Court.  Boston:Wright and Potter Printing Co. (State Printers), 1901.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Review: College Fast Track - Essential Habits For Less Stress and More Success in College.

From time to time I get the opportunity to share a book review from authors who have sent me books or books I have found interesting.  One author named Derrick Hibbard, who wrote one of my favorite books of 2010 This Side of Eden, has also written a series of non-fiction books to help college student survive.  The first book is called, College Fast Track: Essential Habits for Less Stress and More Success in College.  I know a lot of people are headed back to school and are looking to make more money so grabbing this book for Christmas may be the perfect gift for that future college student.

College Fast Track is a quick "how to" manual that affectively hits the key areas of college academic life.  Everything from setting goals to effective reading and even taking exams.  Since I was a career college student and took what seemed forever to graduate, I appreciated the simple way Derrick approaches the subject matter.  At no point did I feel I was reading a text book or a complicated "how to" manual.  Instead it was fun and light hearted and kept me interested in the next chapter.  Even though I have graduated I found myself reading and wishing I had applied some of his ideas early on.

One chapter in particular stood out to me was about note taking.  I used to write notes for hours and hours when I was in college.  At some point I gave up and just tried to do quicker outlines for my notes and I found my comprehension level increased.  When Derrick mentions this same technique I felt validated in my skills.  I wish had known this for my first couple of years of college and could have saved a ton of time in studying.  All the more reason why this is a must have for any college student.  Filled with a number of examples, ideas, and concepts that is surely to get the college student thinking on how they can improve and even get the future student excited to attend school.  Developing these habits, as Derrick puts it, " doing things without thinking..." and will enhance the students ability to quickly make smart decisions in their college career.

Students will find this easy to read and may even use it as a reference guide as they are getting overwhelmed in school.  As the student prepares for a test they may want to reference the section on exam rituals and how it can stimulate the mind by listening to the same music or eating the same things they did while studying.  College Fast track will improve the average college students chances at success and prepare them for a rewarding career.

Well worth the this quick read!  He has a number of other books including the Fast Track book on Law School as well.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Libya is not El Salvador...People Remember When it Was.

In Libya News, we have seen the country is still has major issues with terrorism and violence in the street.  Recent news shows that the city was hit today with a car bomb killing an army colonel.  (See the Daily Star here) How ever it was not too long ago El Salvador faced similar issues.  The 1980s and 90s were filled with similar stories from both sides of the bloody civil war.

As I look to the situation of Libya and the past events of Benghazi, I am thankful El Salvador has been working through many of these past issues.  But just when they are almost forgotten; they are once again brought to people's memory.  Recently reported by many media agencies that the Pro-busqueda offices were ransacked by men looking destroy there work.  Tim's El Salvador Blog has a number of posts regarding the full story.  But to give a brief summary, during the civil war it was widely suspected that children were stolen from families and forced into adoption through out the country and abroad.  Pro-busqueda and other such groups has been determined to find this children and reunite them.  As they get closer and closer to the truth, terror has returned to quite the voices.

So as I look at Libya and I am thankful those day are behind this country, I can't help but wonder if they are really around the corner with such obvious lawlessness and lack of respect.  So far no one has been charged nor does it seem to be of a major concern this has happened.  There was a few simple stories in the paper and one or to mentions on national TV.  U.S. media I feel covered the story more than El Salvador did.

Could a country like El Salvador take such a step back or can't it learn to heal and move forward?  One blogger from El Salvador did a detailed post denouncing the destruction at HUACAL including photos of the attack.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

When Government Gets Involved with Private Business

In the United States we are constantly discussing the limits of government in the free market system.  Without defining the differences between liberal and conservatives we can see there are two sides of the argument.  More involvement and regulation to maintain a certain level of "fairness" and less involvement and allow the market to regulate and police itself.

In the next three weeks, El Salvador will pass a law that has been passed in many other Latin America countries.  (See Here in Spanish - La Pagina) This law requires employers to pay severance to any tenured (2 years) employee and equates to two months worth of pay.   Of course there are some rules, like you must give 15 days notice, etc.  But essentially if an employee wants to leave they can and you have to pay for it.  El Salvador already has many laws that complement this new one, like required christmas bonuses for all employees, severance for employees who are terminated, etc.    Though the cost to operate here maybe lower than the United States, it is filled with rules and laws that actually can make it more expensive.

Tonight at a party I had a discussion with a local business owner, he has offices in Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.  His father started the business 37 years ago and it is still going strong today.  I asked his opinion on this new law and he immediately explained he was all for it.  Stating that El Salvador is behind, everyone else already is doing this and it isn't fair to not give people money for there time.  He talked how this would inspire people to work harder or to quit the job they hate and get paid for it so they can go to a new job.

Then I asked him a simple question that changed his mind, I said, "If your father was here today, starting his business for the first time and then three of his tenured employees decides to quit just when he starts making money, what would have happened to his business?"  He replied, "He would have closed down."

This was the lightbulb moment for him realizing having government tell him how needs to run his business and how needs to pay people may seem fair upfront, if we are looking to make things fair for everyone (even the bad employees) but it creates a situation for the employer where they could lose everything just because someone isn't happy at work.  Why take a risk on a new venture if in two years your employees can run away with everything.  I predict this will hurt overall investments and small business in this country.  Employers will start looking for ways to avoid employees even reaching tenure status and keeping wages low to avoid higher payouts.

Seeing how a socialistic government operates and how a country that is essentially one big union functions has given me the chance to really reflect on the blessing of freedom and the free market system.  It also hurts to see when government constantly thinks it knows better how to run business in the United States, Latin America or any country.  Venezuela is now moving towards profit caps and price caps placed on everything to control what is considered too much greed.  (See Wall Street Journal Here).

I say keep government out as much as possible, work together to pass meaningful laws that are win/win for both side; but let business operate and grow as freely as possible.  Regulations that keep things sanitary and free of discrimination I understand, but don't tell me how to handle my employees when they quit or that I have to pay for their insurance.  That should be my decision to make as a company not the governments.

Comments welcome.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Utah Attorney General John Swallow Needed to Step Down.

John Swallow resigned today and though I am obviously not in Utah these days; I pay close attention to what is happening in my home state and country. The John Swallow saga has been at the top of my news feed for weeks. If you are unsure what is happening Former State Senator Dan Liljenquist has a great op-ed in the Deseret News: (See Here).

But in a nut shell is suspected of a whole slew of misdeeds but I wanted to focus my comments on my own personal experiences and observations of Mr. Swallow.

For the few years I was heavily involved in Utah politics starting around 2001, I had the chance to casually meet John Swallow, but I definitely got to know his campaign staffers and those around him.  You see, campaign staffers know a lot more than people realize; but we are often sworn to secrecy if we want a job after.  However we are not immune to telling each other the dirt.  In a nut shell John Swallow is an ambitious person who would stop at nothing to get elected to office.  But as Oscar Wilde once said, "ambition is the last refuge of the failure."

His campaigns were always dirty, his staffers often talked about him as someone demanded to be pampered and treated like a king.  From nice cars, food and gifts.  It appears to me he has burned a lot of bridges and was limited in friends.

His press conference today was worthless and I am disappointed he couldn't even come forward.  If he really was innocent push forward and make a case, but instead he just keeps digging a hole deeper and deeper.  I love he said that because he stood strong through this he experienced the greatest blessings of his life.  Not sure how resigning shows that especially since he has tried to run for office so many times.  It is too bad, his ambition got the best of him and brought him down.

He said in the end today was a truly sad day because he was innocent, I disagree.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Substandard Candidates Should Get Less Money from the GOP

The AP had a big story today on GOP candidates getting less money from big donors because of substandard candidates losing in 2012.  (See Here)

Heading into next year's congressional elections the GOP is 6 senate seats away form a majority but spending is way down from the previous election.  With things so close to edge why isn't the GOP in full swing?  Typically a year out we would be attacking big time, especially with the issues regarding ObamaCare leaving Democrats vulnerable.

The GOP is going through a serious identity crises, with people all over the map from hard core tea-partiers to almost Democrats.  The GOP is trying hard to find a way to appeal to the masses and re-energize the party. Having been a moderate and willing to vote for whom ever is best for the job I can understand being underwhelmed by the current field of GOP candidates across the country.  So many are trying to be the voice of the GOP but I feel the GOP has splintered too much to even know what it is anymore.

Through this I have had to think are any of the Utah GOP legislators someone who represents my values and ideas 100%.  I would have to say no.  Are any of us on the GOP side, moderate or extremely right wing finding ourselves represented or have we settled for the next best thing since we are have been so against the Democrat way of view?

Well obviously a number of big players are feeling the same way and are holding the purse strings until a real candidate that can really strike chord with the GOP rises to the top.  But can the GOP even survive in its current form or will need it need to make a full swing one way or the other?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

El Salvador Elections 2014

In the next few months the El Salvador elections will be heating up here in the country.  I was interested to see former El Salvador finance minister and World Bank managing director, Dr. Juan Jose Daboub, held a meeting in Washington D.C. to discuss what to expect. The discussion was posted on PanAmPost last week (See Here).

Essentially we have three candidates:

  • Salvador Sánchez Cerén, representing the current ruling party, the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN)
  • Norman Quijano, current mayor of San Salvador, representing the Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (ARENA)
  • Tony Saca, former president (2004-2009), representing the Unidad coalition.

  • Tony Saca has relatively no chance of winning this election and with new info regarding his previous administrations corruption issues with the Monsignor Romero Highway; So I feel the concerns are justified.  In fact his meager 15% of the vote is simply stealing votes from Quijano, which might be the whole reason he is in the election to begin because of his outage from the ARENA party.  But in a race between Ceren and Quijano the choice comes down to who will really make changes for the country.

    Daboub says that there is no clear favorite but feels Quijano has a good chance of winning. His comment is a little concerning because of a recent poll showing Ceren finally gaining a two point lead over Quijano, as reported by the Prensa Graphica and reposted on Tim's El Salvador Blog (See Here).

    In addition Daboub says the following about ARENA and Quijano:
    Between ARENA and FMLN, Daboub said, ARENA would create a healthier environment for investment and be more likely to strengthen El Salvador’s judicial system. Governing El Salvador won’t be easy, he said, but ARENA gives him more optimism. This includes controlling the fiscal debt — almost double that of previous years — strengthening weak governmental institutions, and addressing security. Right now, he contends, innocent people must protect themselves by hiding inside their homes, while drug cartels and gangs have license to operate freely in certain areas and do whatever they want.
    Interesting that Daboub is bold to call this out as to who should win, he later goes on to say what is most important is to have an individual who will work with the United States as a partner.  Having met Quijano I could see this as a potential; however in talking to some state department officials they have told me their concerns that neither candidate is likely to be a friend to United States.

    What this country needs is a clear winner, no fraud and strong leadership to change things.  Quijano has shown the best potential of doing this as mayor of San Salvador.  From an investor stand point this country has grown more difficult and new laws have not been on the side of employer or investor.  Current president Mauricio Funes is not a solid FMLN party member and has been more of a moderate, but Sanchez Ceren is as far left as you can get.  In his new book "El Pais Que Quiero" he clearly defines a better democracy for El Salvador as country with strong redistribution of wealth and other socialistic ideas (Sanchez Ceren, 2012)  His ideas are popular because he spends more time in the poor regions of the country and is quick to show these photos in his book.

    Elections are not the same as they are in the United States.  No nominating convention (they are chosen by party leadership), no real public debate like we see and the advertisement is about half of what we are used to.  Candidates will give away food and kiss babies.  The large turnout and voter pride will be a great post from another day.

    Comments welcome.

    Sanchez Ceren, S. (2012). El pais que quiero 2014:elecciones presidenciales en el salvador. (Primero ed., p. 24). Mexico : Ocean Sur.

    Monday, November 11, 2013

    From Where I Sit Returns

    Nearly 2 years ago I put a serious pause on my blogging due to the fact my hard earned URL was stolen by a squatter while I was moving to Latin America.  Now thanks to some hard work and patience I was able to win back my URL and begin posting again.  I am excited to have my old website back; I had thought about moving to Wordpress, but I am too comfortable with Blogger these we will see where this new adventure really takes me.

    What all this being said, my blog before reflected mostly on a few random views and a lot about the politics of South Ogden City, now I feel it is more about what I see in the world and help me to make sense of it all.  I had the great opportunity to visit the country of Nicaragua last week.  I have spent nearly 5 years in El Salvador over the past 12 and this was my first time to another Central America Country.  I was shocked at the stark differences:

    • nobody carried a gun
    • everyone dropped their s
    • cultural dances and traditions were stronger
    • not nearly as developed or americanized

    Yet with all the differences and lack of resources, these seemed to be doing better than El Salvador.  The economy was more stable, GDP more diverse, and every eager to make things happen to bring more investors to the country.  I didn't notice one of the more prevalent realities is the still lack of understanding of family and responsibility.  Over my years here in El Salvador I often run into young boys and girls who already have children at the age of 15 or younger.  My cab driver in Nicaragua was no exception to this rule.  31 years old, had 3 children the oldest was 17.  His 17 year old would have been born when he was 14 years old, and she already had two kids.  This made him a 31 year old grandfather.  Not married, but driving a taxi and proud of it.

    Tough reality of what is going in the world, not just here in Latin America but in the world in general.

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

    Management and Power

    A scripture and saying that is often quoted in my church is "39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. (D&C 121:39),"  This phrase often surprises me when I see it in action.  Being someone who is a management position I often have to remind my self of this very thing--Power Corrupts.  

    Part of my job is developing new managers and leaders and then have them do the same.  But I find often when someone gets a little power things change.  They have a concept that they are entitled to certain liberties or rights over others.  Things that if they saw their employees do they would freak out.  For example one employee I had pushed hard a policy on the floor and even watch as we terminated employees for violating the policy.  When all along she was violating the policy!  She was shocked when I terminated her on the spot.  

    We are tempted to always take advantage of what have.  Why?  Why are we so easily corrupted when we receive even a little power?

    Tuesday, August 27, 2013

    It has been a long time since I have jumped on to the blog.  My original life plan was to be out of the country for maybe a year and in about two weeks it will be two years in the country.  From where I sit has gone through some changes.  A squatter stole my URL and I scraped up some money to try and win it back thanks to some donations but never was able to get them to negotiate.  So here I am, where I sit.

    So after some thinking and taking some time away; I remember how much I enjoyed the process of blogging and reviewing things.  Also I see politics and life in a different way now seeing how a third world country runs things.

    So I hope start some new posts, ideas and changes in my blogging in the coming future.  We shall see, but my view has definitely changed.