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Hold 'em or fold 'em, Gov. Herbert?



Several weeks ago, I poked my head out of my hiding hole, saw my shadow and rushed back inside to avoid the most recent session of the Utah Legislature. This year, for the first time since I was messing my diapers, I paid nearly no mind at all to events on Utah’s Capitol Hill. Never read a single story about what was taking place. Never wrote a single word about it. My only sources for any legislative news at all were from newspaper headlines, television teasers, and from bits and pieces of office chatter here at City Weekly, where I still maintain a cot.

I didn’t miss a thing. There’s nothing I could have written or said that would have changed a thing, either. Actually, I already knew that—outside of perhaps three occasions in 27 years I have never seen a direct cause and effect resulting in a legislative bill being changed or killed due to something that was written by myself or published in this newspaper. I’m not being self-deprecating. Three is actually a very good number because, by my scorecard, it’s about the same amount of influence peddled by The Salt Lake Tribune. However, we score higher than the Deseret News, which has never changed the course of a single piece of legislation but, as always, does a yeoman job of cheerleading for the majority. Geez, anybody can fall downhill, and the Deseret News is really good at that.

When the session ended, however, I did wake up to what had taken place. In nearly all media, including this week’s edition of City Weekly, there were exclamations that this session of the Legislature was one of the least contentious in memory, that in the end, many bills were passed that will be of great benefit to all Utahns. As for the Legislature being less contentious, if I read between the lines, that means that the Utah Republican Party has not yet found an adequately obnoxious replacement for Sen. Chris “Pig Sex” Buttars, who retired from the Legislature with the respect, honor and full health benefits he so famously denied persons in same-sex relationships.

Regarding the sentiment that many bills were passed that will benefit all Utahns, I’m a little mixed. I can’t wait for the day when Utah finally lays claim to the 67 percent of state lands currently under federal-government stewardship. I’m happy because I’ve always wanted to open an ATV franchise, and now’s my chance. Who’s not pleased (besides me) that our legislators came down swift and hard on the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for managing to misplace about $300,000 dollars while making the state tens of millions of dollars in pure profit? Now that they’ve set the tone for tackling alleged corruption and favoritism, I can’t wait for next year when they continue the trend by going nuclear on UDOT and the magically misplaced $13 million or so taxpayer dollars, lost to the wheels of insider corruption.

Uh, no, wait—they probably won’t do that. Doing so requires doing the right thing, which not only means defying all three of Newton’s Laws of Motion, but also requires a drop kick upon some of their own (like most of the representation from Utah County, plus Governor Herbert). But one hopes.

Happy doesn’t do justice to the LMAO hilarity of the AgGag bill that would prohibit the taking of photographs of farm animals, ostensibly because certain photos of abused animals may embarrass certain farmers and ranchers. Ah, Utah, you make me smile. It’s wrong to mount photos of farm animals “under false pretenses,” but it remains OK for a farmhand to mount a lamb, photographed or otherwise?

Since I’ve never conceived a child out of wedlock (despite trying) and was never impregnated during a violent rape (I’m big enough to fend off most attackers, but grant that I could succumb to a date-rape drug), I can’t speak to what women in that situation are going through or thinking of, abortion among those thoughts. However, I can relate to pregnancies that threaten the life of the mother or child—it was only after a hasty amniocentesis that we learned a close family member was not suffering from some impossible-to-pronounce birth defect. Prior to that test, the options were not good. My son Pete was born placenta previa after spending the three weeks before his premature birth in a hospital bed inside his mother. She was losing white blood cells faster than the brain cells draining from the Utah legislators who voted for a 72-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion, pretty much to prove we’re stricter than North Dakota. In those three days, Pete or Paula could have died, Gov. Herbert. Just so you know, sir.

But, heck, kids will be kids and they have sex. Just like good old mom and pop. Even in the way-back machine that was mostly rural and fairly pious Bingham High School in the late 1960s and early ’70s, there was plenty of sex going on among more than one future local religious leader. I was in junior high when one schoolmate died giving birth. That’s one too many, but let that young girl have access to information that could have prevented her death, and perhaps her pregnancy in the first place? That’s just too much to ask of our legislators. Let them die, they say, let them die.

The Legislature is playing the same sexual-morality hand it always plays. But remember, sex is like playing bridge—if you don’t have a good partner, you’d better have a good hand.

Are you going to hold ’em or fold ’em, Gov. Herbert?

Twitter: @JohnSaltas

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