Other than the letter telling Salt Lake County commissioners to trade places with local radio personalities and make their theme song "Circus of the Clowns," Randy Horiuchi is enthused by the mail he's been getting lately.
A newly elected Democratic commissioner, Horiuchi recently offered to give free Utah Jazz tickets to the people who send him the best ideas for improving county government."This is great," Horiuchi said Monday, noting the idea is catching on. "I'm walking around the grocery store and people come up to me with ideas."
So far, the winning ideas have dealt with things like using data processing to develop a proper county billing system and teaching kids more about the political process.
Nine-year-old Richard Lee Mason won tickets for suggesting the county set aside 10 percent of its budget for emergencies.
Horiuchi said he has about 30 pairs of tickets to give away, and he may acquire 20 more. The tickets are those county commissioners receive as a courtesy from the team. So far, he has received about 75-80 letters. He wants to get up to 150 before the contest ends Feb. 28.
Most of the letters he has received are serious. Some contain interesting ideas. One person wrote to suggest the county randomly pick a non-polluter each day - such as a bus rider or a carpooler - and give them a reward.
One man included a list of 44 qualities he thought elected officials should possess. Another suggested issuing citations to local residents who drive with out-of-state license plates.
But some of the letters are humorous and sarcastic.
"My first idea is to require state, county and city employees to complete a defensive driving/courtesy course prior to being issued any state vehicle," one woman wrote.
Another letter said, "We suggest that Randy Horiuchi name the first new golf course built on a toxic waste site `glowing acres.' They should be able to save the taxpayers a lot of money in electric bills since the course will probably light itself." The letter referred to the commissioner's plans to build golf courses on sites in South Salt Lake and Midvale that used to be contaminated with toxic waste.
Some of the contributors asked that, should they win, their tickets be donated to charities. Horiuchi said he has honored those wishes, giving tickets to a recent game against the Sacramento Kings to a homeless shelter.
Horiuchi vowed to put some of the winning ideas into practice. "I am convinced that we will get suggestions that might save us millions of dollars or ideas that will make us a more effective government," he said.