Wednesday, April 09, 2008

THE NEED FOR A CITIZENS LEGISLATURE

The founding fathers of America, like the founding fathers of the state of Utah, believed that citizens, should have no entanglements, and if that was the fact, they would and should provide the answers and the solutions associated with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that would come before the legislature.

But as government continued, a few groups discovered, their potential service in the legislature, could be a means, to personal enrichment. They also discovered, their actions could produce influence and acceptance for future use for themselves and a selected group of friends. And stepping over the line between what should be done, and what was eventually done, did not pose any serious problems for them.

Much of this unseemly behind the scenes manipulation in the beginning, was done in secret. Meetings in back rooms, were conducted, and sweetheart deals were struck. Associations were formed and secret societies were constituted. Of course later, and as in our day, these associations came out of the closets, showed themselves, and after extensive public relation projects, were accepted by the citizens. It became obvious, that first, these groups were abhorred, later they were tolerated, then accepted, and now we find people from all walks of life, fully accepting and embracing their agendas and methods.
Surprisingly, this acceptance has been done in a blinding, look the other way configuration, that allows wrong doing to be winked at, with the hope, that even with all the wrong, there may be some good that will fall from the table, and allow citizens to have some participatory expressions, in all the wrangling.

In the Federalist Paper Number 25, Alexander Hamilton wrote: “For it is a truth, which experience of ages has attested that the people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those with whom they entertain the lest suspicion.”

In the legislature, there are people that are well known, and very respected. But even such fondness, must not become a toleration or an acceptance of any questionable action that may take place. In many cases, there is a need to be suspicious of actions, conditions, and some of the compromising that may be seen. Suspicions need to be enlightened by asking the right questions, and educating oneself on the issues. Realizing the potential for deal making, posturing due to position and the increases of advantage while injuring a people in a process that was created by the founding fathers of the State, who knew and believed it was inspired by a higher power is very real.

Abuse of power, of specific groups, has continued and seems to have, not only been more acceptable, but more devious and destructive.
What are the groups, that people should shun as elected representatives? There are not many, but those who fall in these groups, destroy the process, the honesty of the process, and the outcome. These groups take it upon themselves to make decisions and support the decisions, not based on what is best for the people, but what is best for the associates of these groups. And of course, what would be the best out come for “ME”.

A Large group, that over the years, has caused suffering and loss is the Attorneys that are sent to the legislature as representatives and lobbyists. Many times people believe, because one of the groups are Attorneys, they would practice fair play, and seek outcomes that would be in the best interest of the people. Nothing can be further from the truth. Attorneys, for the most part, and there are some exceptions, measure their action, not in goodness, not in fair results, but in dollars and cents. Those of this group, that brag they are part of the Trial Lawyers Association, always look at every law, in the light, as, what it will bring, in terms of money in litigation.

Have we seen tort reform? Have we seen ease for regular citizens being able to use the courts and the law? Of course not. Attorneys are not for ease, but for making it hard and costly to seek a solution to misunderstandings between people.

The Law that was created in a previous legislature, HB 466, was the product of three players, and one just happen to be an attorney.
The people can not afford, to send such, to represent them. And doing so, places citizens in jeopardy of losing rights, representation and generally being cast aside in a process that should be pure and unadulterated.

Another group that has caused so much grief and cost, some hidden until later, and in some cases, costs that must born upfront, are educators and those who profess to be the friends or the fair-haired supporters of education.

A careful review, of the union goals for education, shows, of everything they list, the top is the money, the bottom are the students.

When citizens, although in good faith, send educators to the legislative process and ask them to serve, like the attorneys, they seem to loose sight as to why they were sent and who they represent. They start participating in a process, that sends money, in most cases without strings, to associates and friends of education. They will not support substantial changes in many issues, unless they can attach conditions to pending legislation, that will benefit education, regardless, if it will work or not. Usually it is not the end result, that is the most important to the product, but the spending and the allowance of those to spend the funds of the taxpayer without adequate checks and balances.

Sending this group to represent the average citizen in the legislature, has created unsupported drains, acceptance of increase power, and private deal making, ever making the education unions a lot stronger, with less and less transparency.

Like the Attorneys, educators and their friends, have created more problems, than have been solved. It is not that education is wrong or that spending the money on education does not value, but the people need to know really what is happening and understand how their taxes are being spent and by whom. And there is always the need for transparency.

Another group, are the developers and their associates. Unlike the groups of attorneys and educators, the developers hide little, but spend big dollars, in support of votes for their particular legislation, that in many cases is overriding what seems to be the will of the people. This group has produced legislation that Interferes in competent land use referendums and generally ignores the needs of people as it pertains to zoning, and the implementation of growth restrictions in particular areas.

In the last legislative process, as in times past, the people have been short changed, deceived, and led down the garden path. The many outcomes of developer sponsored legislation, has proven to be costly, without merit, and dangerous to current and future citizens alike.
The final group, that seems to be more dangerous, more deceitful, and more ominous than the other three groups, are the lobbyists. This group is without conscience, usually with out integrity and morality.
When they do what they do, it is with the idea, that all things are “fair in love and war”. They have a tendency to give even smoky room deal making a bad reputation.
Money to this group is just a means to the final result. Anything goes seems to be their motto. But the point must be made, that without the support of the members of the legislature, lobbyists would be out of a job.

The need for a citizen legislature, is more important today, than at any time in our history.
In 1855, in writing a treatise on government, John Taylor wrote:
“We believe that legislators ought to be chosen on account of their intelligence, honor, integrity, and virtue and not because they belong to some particular.. Clique.”

When citizens go to the polls, there is a need for intelligence, understanding of the problems that are being faced. There is a need to send a citizen to be our representative from Wasatch County, without entanglements, without promises, believing that transparency in service is not just a talking point, but a reality.

Wasatch County may never have another opportunity, like this.
We need a citizen legislature not business as usual. If people really want change in the legislature, then citizens must be sent, not those groups that put themselves first. Give citizens a chance to represent citizens.

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