A recent article in the Deseret News, quotes Senator Howard Stephenson, on how he and other members of the legislature, are going on the attack, to challenge the media, to prove everything the media may say, which could be construed as negative, about the legislature and its members.
Perhaps, the good Senator and his fellow members of the legislature, have forgotten, that deeds in the past, have placed them in this ugly spot light and this jousting with the media, may turn into a run and hide exercise for the legislature.
Recent events in the Legislature by the leadership and others, have demonstrated, that in many cases, the Utah legislature, may be out of touch with the very citizens, they were elected to serve.
And the lack of connection, may be the reason, the Legislature feels picked on and disrespected.
Everyone realizes, that mistakes can be made . Some are by omission and confession on these indiscretions are soon forgotten. But the acts of co-mission, they are different. They should carry a heavy penalty. Those who participate in this activity, should not ask if, but how the media will expose them, along with all the participants. On this matter, the press should not leave any stone unturned in the exposure of who, when, what and how.
Instead of whipping up the members of the legislature to spend their time and energy in a cause that has been brought on by themselves, due to the lack of transparency, closed doors, and deals with lobbyists, there are much better pursuits. And one of those, would be to read the bills. And if the legislative process must go slower to accomplish this, and some of the pet projects do not get approval, then so be it.
A careful review of some of the actions in the past, with the resulting criticism, should offer to Senator Stephenson evidence, the plan to fight the press is ill conceived, and will just lead to more time wasting effort.
The press will do what the press does.
Here is a reminder of some bills passed, which have left a bad taste in the mouths of many and caused the media to snoop around in their microscopic review..
1. How can anyone forget, House Bill 466. Put together by a lobbyist and soul selling attorney.
Citizens in Garfield and Wasatch, have taken the brunt of this misstep. The town of Daniel, has and will be spending in the future, precious tax dollars to defend themselves, from fools, and legislative foolishness. With out going into detail, the biggest disappointment, is the Legislature, who are sworn to defend, to be honest, etc, etc., passed this bill without even a whimper. And when asked why, confessed they had not read it. But it passed unanimously. Enough said.
2. Senate Bill 81 a bill that would start a process of removing illegal activity. In reducing the financial pressures on citizens and the taxes they pay. The bill passed, but then panic set in. The legislature started to listen to some loud but obnoxious voices, who really were short on intelligence and long on words. The legislature decided to allow the bill not to become law until 2009. And in the mean time, a committee was selected to hold hearings through out the state. The Legislature instead of taking ownership, wanted to find excuses to make changes and modifications to placate the selected few. Towards this effort, a preponderance of groups opposed to the law, to start with, were allowed to wring their hands, and bleed their heart at hearings. Very little time was given to those who supported this bill. And in fact, experts, came to town to discuss the experiences in other areas, with similar problems, and they were given five to seven minutes to respond. It became obvious from the beginning, the legislature had no intention of allowing this bill to become law, until it could be changed and watered down.
Gee! Senator Stephenson, you are complaining about the press? What about the citizens, that will be left unprotected, from the horde of illegal’s, coming to our state and taking the benefits, that others have worked so hard to achieve. In this case, the press is your friend, and perhaps you should not bite the hand, that will give you support, from enforcing the important parts of this law.
3. There are many others, but this column would be remiss, if the subject of ethics was not mentioned. Ethic reforms have been on the mind of citizens for a number of years, but low and behold, not on the mind of the Legislature. The fact, that such a bill can not see the light of day, is telling. Gifts from lobbyists and others, seems to be the guiding light as to what laws are proposed. Influence from lobbyists seem to hold more sway than the feelings of the citizens.
So the legislature is unhappy with, what they believe are unfair attacks on their value as a whole, and the leadership? With what has taken place, could you expect anything less?
It seems that perhaps a house cleaning is in order in the next election.
Forget about the press. Represent the citizens. Return the gifts. Read the proposals before they are voted on. Become transparent. Stop the closed meetings. Do the right things for the right reasons. And remember, "just because you can, does not always translate," that you should"
So some still want to do battle with the press? Sometimes the best defense in dealing with the press is the silent treatment. Try it, before you spend too much time on the taxpayers nickle. The voters will be watching.