As Utah Republicans become more and more self-righteous, it’s refreshing to hear that some actually listen to their constituents with a—dare we say—open mind. First, it was Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, who took the ever-sanctimonious Chris Buttars’ seat. Osmond proposed a bill, Public Education Employment Reform, that would have made teachers “at will” employees, putting them all under performance pay, among other things. He asked for feedback, revised his bill and passed it with overwhelming support from its original detractors. Now, we have Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, once the darling of the illegal immigration hard line, shrinking from public shoe-pounding and professing a desire to address the needs of those living in the United States without documents. This “compassionate” stand has lost him support among right-wingers. While he lost the nomination at convention, he’s won a battle for open-mindedness.
Well, at least the governor didn’t appoint as his energy adviser former legislator and nuclear champion Aaron Tilton. Or did he? Gov. Gary Herbert tapped Cody Stewart for the job. Stewart is Mr. Connected. His daddy is U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart, he’s related to the 2nd Congressional District Republican nominee, he worked for former U.S. Rep. Jim Hansen and Rep. Rob Bishop and he lobbied for energy companies, including one for which Tilton was vice chair. But Herbert maintains that Stewart can be fair-minded, even though the people who think so all think from the right.
When Ralph Becker took office as Salt Lake City mayor, he went about creating bike lanes with rules of the road to keep cyclists safe amid a torrent of traffic. Mildly annoying to motorists, the bike lanes nonetheless showed a commitment to clean air and healthy living. Even Becker rides a bike. Now, he has allowed his chief of staff to inform the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee by letter that they’re kaput, the thought being that this will streamline government. Hey, the committee is voluntary, informal and advisory, according to the city website. How threatening is this? Sure, it takes some staff time to listen, but it must save something by deferring to expertise. We don’t get it. If Becker wants a perfectly efficient government, maybe he should try a constitutional monarchy—or socialism. It’s not as messy as democracy.