Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Caucus Meeting Roundup

We had the privilege of holding the local precinct caucus meeting out our home yesterday.  I have to say that we had quite a turnout.  Sixteen of our neighbors showed up to participated.  Last time we held a precinct caucus meeting we had only seven folks showed up and I was elected Precinct Chair, County Delgate, and State Delegate while also running for office.  Fortunately, we were able to get other neighbors to participate and elected several different folks to the Chair and Delegate positions this year.

It was great to see democracy work at the grass roots level.  The State delegate position was contested by three individuals.  We had a tie between two of them on our first round of voting.  I offered the candidates an opportunity for a 30 second stump speech.  One of them prevailed in the final vote. 

These meetings are so important to the foundations of our government and community.  I would encourage everyone to participate in their neighborhood caucus meetings in 2012.

FYI: Nobody in our meeting supported Bob Bennett. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rugged Individualism: Refusing Uncle Sam's Debilitating Handouts

My heart grieves this morning as I hear that our national government will soon make the "healthcare reform" bill law.

Rather than bemoan this issue today though, I want to talk about things that we can do to make our lives independent of government meddling. I am not talking about communes or refusing to pay taxes. What I am talking about today is exercising our individual rights to refuse government assistance.

Every time the government creates an entitlement program, it alters human behavior. For instance, when Social Security was instituted, people began to save less as they anticipated the government would pay for their future income when retirement came. With medicare and medicaid, people have become less conscious about their personal health habits because it is anticipated that the government will pay for their medical bills when they get old and bad health habits catch up to them. The same is true now for yet another national health insurance program.

These programs all create a diffusion of personal responsibility. Why would we choose to behave in a responsible way when the cost of our behavior is paid for by everyone else? It's the same reason that individual people drop wrappers, cigarette butts and other trash on the streets. "The public" owns the streets, they will take care of it, and they do!

Personally, I refuse to live in such a manner that makes my personal actions the responsibility of another. I live my life, and I am teaching my children to live their lives, in a world without Social Security, Medicare, and now National Healtcare. I am not wanting to be pessimistic or alarmist, but, the reality is that these institutions will likely not exist in their current form in the next 30 years. It's a mathematical certainty.

So how to we live "off the nanny-state grid" with this lifestyle of rugged individualism? It's quite simple. To plan for our retirement, my wife and I are saving and investing in things that will provide income for us when we are old. I am not counting on Social Security at all. To help us in medical needs, we purchased a HSA (Health Savings Account) that has a $6000 dedecutible. Premiums and this high deductible are LESS than what premiums for our old 80% coverage policy was. Since we are now paying as we go for health care, we are much more mindful about our personal health decisions. We eat much healthier and we are careful about what the children do while playing. When we were younger, my wife and I qualified for WIC. Despite my family pleading for us to use the state assistance, we refused...and we survived to tell the story.

During this period of growing government dependency, we all need to become more independent of government assistance. If we allow ourselves to become dependent on a system that is unsustainable, who shall we turn to the day the system fails us? We can only turn to ourselves. And by that time, it may be too late.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Neil Hansen: Clanking Pans and Pointing Fingers

My opponent in the race to represent District 9, Mr. Neil Hansen, called a press conference by himself yesterday to raise a clamor.  Here is KSL's report:

Video Courtesy of

Mr. Hansen's comments are unfortunate. He appears to be trying to make political hay out of Mr. Garn's painful and personal circumstances. I am with David Litvak, the House Minority leader, when he says that Mr. Garns confession was so "unprecedented" that pointing fingers is "a bit unfair".

Mr. Hansen does make an excellent point. When he is not called on to the floor to comment, his voice, and therefore those of his constituents, is not heard. It is sad commentary indeed to see that his relationships with House leadership are so strained. I don't know of any other lawmakers that are ignored by leadership. Clearly, they must find his comments of little value to the body. It is a representative's responsibility to foster relationships, even with those he may disagree with, so that work can be accomplished in behalf of his constituents.

In any case, I look forward to being heard often when elected. I certainly will work with leadership to get things done for the people I will represent.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Its time to announce my candidacy for Utah's House District 9.  I look forward to another exciting and invigorating campaign.  With your help and smart work on my campaign's part, I am confident we will prevail.

Many people ask me why I am running.  I honestly feel that I have been blessed with a unique set of talents and that putting those to work for the public is an appropriate way for me to give back for the gifts I have been given.

I look forward to dealing with the issues that are confronting the constituents of downtown Ogden.  I anticipate that State budget cuts, economic stress, and other issues will likely be on the forefront of people's minds as we move into this election season.  However, I will be visiting one-on-one with my constituents to discover which issues are most important to them. 

If you would like to volunteer or make a contribution to my campaign, please contact me directly at 801-390-1480 or

Let's make it a great campaign season!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Kevin Garn: Nudity, Extortion, and Confession - Does Any of This Really Matter?

Kevin Garn dropped a bombshell on the State Legislature last night with his confession of sins committed 25 years ago and the subsequent extortion that occurred in 2002 related to his conduct.  Here is his statement:

"Twenty five years ago I made a mistake that has now come back to haunt me. I was 28-yrs old and I foolishly went hot-tubbing with a young woman nearly half my age. Although we did not have any sexual contact, it was still clearly inappropriate -- and it was my fault.
One of the consequences of that decision was the negative impact it had on this young person's life. Years later, when I was running for Congress, she decided to bring this incident to the attention of the media. Shortly thereafter, my wife and I met with her, and at her demand, I paid her $150,000. While this payment felt like extortion, I also felt like I should take her word that the money would help her heal. She agreed to keep this 25-year-old incident confidential. Now that this issue is coming up again, it is apparent to me that this payment was also a mistake.

Today, she went to the press and reported all of these events. There will be a story. I expect to suffer public humiliation and embarrassment, but I also want you to know that I cannot allow one foolish mistake to continue to shadow my life. At this point, I would rather be open and honest about this than continue to live in fear. Some lessons are hard to learn. This is something I should have done back in 2002. But I was scared. I did not want to be publicly judged by one of my life's worst decisions.

I told my wife about this incident years ago, as well as my children. I may not deserve their forgiveness, but they have given it. My primary concern at this point is that my wife and the rest of my family know how much I love them. I am sorry for this incident. And I am sorry I ever responded to the financial demands.

I also wish to publicly apologize to this young lady for this incident. And I apologize to you, my colleagues, for any shame this brings to the Utah State Legislature. I have tried my best to serve my constituents in a way that brings honor to them and makes this great State better than the way I found it. I hope to continue to do that.

Thank you."

I take Mr. Garn's apology at face value.  He made a mistake.  He then made another mistake.  He is sorry for those mistakes.

I am a believer in redemption.  Given the length of time between his first misdeed and the present time, I believe that we can move on from that.  The extortion that occurred on the other hand is another matter.  As Mr. Garn admits, in 2002 he was scared and "did not want to be publicly judged" for his misbehavior. Hence his payment of money to keep this story quiet. 

This is where I take issue.  As a public servant, public scrutiny is warranted.  It is this very scrutiny that protects the public form electing those who are unworthy to serve.  Now, we may have our own definition of what "worthiness" is when serving in public office.  My opinion is that public service is an honor and that those who serve in such a capacity should live a life beyond reproach.  Issues of morality and faithfulness are of a particular concern to me because of the implications they have on the character and integrity of a person.  If a man will lie to his spouse, what will keep him from lying to the people he serves.

Mr. Garn's transgression though appears to be less of infidelity and more of obfuscation and misrepresentation.  Would he have been elected had the voters known then what they know now?  Likely not.  Would another noble candidate arisen at that time to serve the people of David County? Likely so.   What I am saying is that public servants are disposable.  In the event that one becomes unworthy to serve, there are many honorable and capable men available to fill his shoes.

I forgive Mr. Garn and wish he and his family the best. Mr. Garn's confession is honorable.  But, the most honorable thing for him to do now would be to step aside and open the door for a worthy candidate to represent his district. It's time to move on.    

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Book Review: The Dog Poop Initative

My mother emailed me a week ago saying she was sending me "the best book" and to look for it in the mail.  I got it today.  

Let me tell you that everyone needs to get a copy of The Dog Poop Initiative by Kirk Weisler.  Don't judge a book by its cover.  Its a lesson on leadership, self-reliance, and initiative.  The illustrations are quite amusing and the story is one we have all experienced before but never had it told to us in children's book form.  Great for kids and adults. A must kidding.

However, I do question what made my mother see the cover and then think of me. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Leadership: Doing the Tough Thing

The state of New Jersey is in dire straits.  Governor Chris Christie lays it all on the table.  Here is a portion of his speech to a large group of city mayors:

In the time we got here, of the approximately $29 billion budget there was only $14 billion left. Of the $14 billion, $8 billion could not be touched because of contracts with public worker unions, because of bond covenants, because of commitments we made accepting stimulus money. So we had to find a way to save $2.3 billion in a $6 billion pool of money.

When I went into the treasurer's off in the first two weeks of my term, there was no happy meetings. They presented me with 378 possible freezes and lapses to be able to balance the budget. I accepted 375 of them.

There is a great deal of discussion about me doing that by executive action. Every day that went by was a day where money was going out the door such that the $6 billion pool was getting less and less. So something needed to be done.

People did not send me here to talk, the people sent me here to do. So we took the executive action we did to stop the bleeding.

As we move forward, and we evaluate what we need to do three weeks from now in our fiscal year 2011 budget address, you all need to understand the context from which we operate.

Our citizens are already the most overtaxed in America. US mayors hear it all the time. You know that the public appetite for ever increasing taxes has reached an end.

So when we freeze $475 million in school aid, I am hearing the reverberations from school boards saying now you are just going to force us to raise taxes.

Well there is a 4% cap in place as you all know, yet school boards continue to give out raises which exceed that cap, just on salary. Not to mention the fact that most of them get no contribution towards the spiraling increase in health care benefits.

Now, we are going to reduce spending at the state level. And we are going to continue to reduce it because we have no choice but to do so. Our obligation to you is twofold. One, is to let you know that. So I'm' letting you know that.

Second to work with the legislature to give you the tools helping you to reduce spending at the municipal level. Now the pension and benefit reform package that was passed unanimously in the senate this week begins to give you some of those tools.

But it is only a beginning.

Do we need to change some of the rules of arbitration to level the playing field to allow municipalities and school boards to have a more level sense of collective bargaining?

I think the evidence of ever increasing raises being given to public sector workers as a result of the arbitration system tells us that we do. [Applause From Mayors]

But you have to stand up and give the support to the legislators in this building to get them to do that. I can guarantee you this, that more pension and benefit reforms which I will consider arbitration reform to be one of them, are things that when they come to my desk, they will be signed. [Applause From Mayors]

Because we can no longer continue on a path where we say we are going to reduce spending at the state level but we are not going to give you any tools to do that at the municipal level and the school board level.

By the same token I am tired of hearing school superintendents and school board members complain that there are no other options than raising property taxes. There are other options.

You know, Marlboro, after a two year negotiation, they give a five year contract giving 4.5% annual salary increases to the teachers, with no contribution, zero contribution to health care benefits.

But I am sure there are people in Marlboro who have lost their jobs, who have had their homes foreclosed on, and who cannot keep a roof over their family's head there is something wrong.

You know, at some point there has to be parity. There has to be parity between what is happening in the real world, and what is happening in the public sector world. The money does not grow on trees outside this building or outside your municipal building. It comes from the hard working people of our communities who are suffering and are hurting right now.

I heard someone in the legislature say two days ago that they wanted no fare hike in New Jersey Transit, no cuts in service, and no cuts in subsidy. And I was thinking to myself, man I should have made this guy treasurer. [Laughter] Because if you can pull that one off, you're obviously magic.

This is the type of awful political rhetoric that people sent me to this city to stop.

I would love to be able to do that, but I can't. I would love to tell you that municipal aid will stay level, but it's not. And it's not because we don't have the money. So you need to prepare. You need to prepare for what's coming down the line because we have no choice but to do these things.

And so we need to get honest with each other. In this instance, the political class,for which unfortunately all of us are a member of, the political class is lagging behind the public on this. The public is ready to hear that tough choices have to be made. They're not going to like it. Don't confuse the two. But they are ready to hear the truth.

In fact, they find it refreshing to hear the truth.

They are tired of hearing, don't worry I can spare you from the pain, because they have been hearing that for a decade, as we have borrowed and spent and taxed our way into oblivion.

We have done every quick fix in the book that you can do. And now we are left, literally holding the bag.

Leadership should be about making tough decisions. I'm not hear to tell you that anything you are going to have to do as mayors, council people will be easy. But I firmly believe after spending the last year traveling around the state of New Jersey, talking to regular citizens, that this is what they are expecting us to do.

They are also expecting us to ferret out waste and abuse. But they also know that old song that waste and abuse is going to balance the budget is an old and tired one, and it's not going to.

Now we are going to have a fight about COAH. And I have engaged in that fight and I have engaged in it directly. Not only will I be fighting COAH, I will be fighting the courts too. [Applause From Mayors]

That's OK.

We need to understand we are all in this together. And you know, all of you know in your heart, what I am saying is true. You all know that these raises that are being given to public employees of all stripes, we cannot afford. You all know the state cannot continue to spend money it does not have. And you all know that the appetite for tax increases among our constituents has come to an end.

And so the path to reform and success is clear. We know what it is. We just have to have the courage to go there. What we are doing is showing people that government can work again for them, not for us. Government has worked for the political class for much too long.

There's no time left. We have no room left to borrow. We have no room left to tax. So we merely have room left now, to do this. We are all reaching the edge of a cliff. And it reminds me a bit of that part of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid where the had a seminal decision to make. So what did they do? They held hands and they jumped off the cliff.

We have to hold hands at every level of government, state county, municipal, school board. We have to hold hands and jump off the cliff.

I firmly believe we will land and we will be fine. It does not mean it will not be a scary ride on the way down. And it does not mean there won't be moments of fear and moments of apprehension.

But for certain, the troops of the decades of overspending and overborrowing and overtaxing have gained on us. So the ruination of New Jersey's economy, and of the quality of life we want all our citizens to have, is certain if we do not take this course.

It's time for us to hold hands and jump off the cliff. It's time for us to do the difficult things that need to be done and to stop playing the petty politics of yesterday, of lying to the people telling them they do not have to pay for it because someone else will.

We are going to make the leap because that's what people elected me to do. We are going to make the leap because it is the responsible thing to do. We are going to make the leap and we are going to do it together because that is what leadership demands for us. That is what the responsibility of the offices we hold requires of us.

Forget about the next election. Forget about the next editorial in the newspaper, and forget about the next angry letter or phone call you are going to get from someone who wants something for nothing.

One thing is certain. The alternative will lead to certain defeat. And so it is time for us to show courage, and resolve. And we can do it because we are from New Jersey. And I have never, in all my travels around the country, met a group of tougher people than we all have the opportunity to lead.

An absolutely remarkable speech.  This is leadership.