Count My Vote is a Tale of Two Candidates—one who's in office and the other who's likely to be. Big sigh from Democrats for whom this initiative makes no difference at all. First, there's U.S. Rep. John Curtis who may or may not be conservative or progressive, but who definitely is political. He got a lot of flak from the far right for beating their preferred ideologue Chris Herrod by gathering signatures to get on the ballot. And now we have Mitt Romney, who, like Curtis, is called a stealth Democrat and worse, a carpetbagger. The Salt Lake Tribune has run several stories about his carpet bagging, whether he's a socialist or whatever. And Romney is gathering signatures, too, as Count My Vote wends its way to the ballot box. The initiative only highlights the deep division in Utah's GOP. But it's not about purity in politics. The Trump factor has shown the GOP to be anything but pure.
So tell us again about this small-government idea. Isn't this what Republicans and Libertarians adore—privatizing everything, dispensing with regulations, oh, and health care and "entitlements." Then comes along HB175—Oversight Committee Creation. It's no secret that the Legislature has enormous contempt for the city and county of Salt Lake, but somebody's got to get over themselves. The Legislature is there to, well, legislate, not to manage every entity in the state. Even the governor was worried that the bill was micromanaging. A Deseret News article suggested the idea grew from a Utah League of Cities and Towns scandal revealed through an audit. Apparently, another layer of government would make things like that more efficient and transparent. Look, if the Legislature needs a special counsel to investigate improprieties, they could just hire one. Or wait until Robert Mueller is free.
A Glimmer of Hope
While nothing is really dead until after the legislative session, there is always hope. And citizen activism created a lot of that by stopping HB135—Extraterritorial Jurisdictional Amendments in committee. This was the brainchild of Wild West darling Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, who set up a fight over development and water issues in the Wasatch canyons. In brief, it would add state control over municipal water, its collection and distribution. Laura Briefer, Salt Lake City's public utilities director, told the Deseret News that she was puzzled because it puts authority under an agency without accountability. Some 3,000 emails later, legislators were convinced to go no further. Environmental groups, for now, won with a campaign saturated with facts.