People immunized at Salt Lake City-County Health Department clinics are finding that attached to papers detailing the possible side effects of shots is a noticewarning about side effects of the proposed tax-limitation initiatives.
Greg Beesley, chairman of the Utah Tax Limitation Coalition, said that information is "full of lies" spread in an objectionable manner "by damnable liars" in the county bureaucracy.But Health Department Director Harry Gibbons said the paper contains the truth, is being paid for by employees - not by taxes - and might just help immunize residents against voting for the initiatives.
And Deputy Salt Lake County Attorney Gavin J. Anderson said the papers are legal and proper - barely - because they walk a tightrope in the way they are worded.
The small slips of paper are stapled to the front of information spread by the Health Department and say, "This service is supported by your tax dollars. The tax-limitation initiatives will eliminate or greatly reduce this health service. The only other way it can be maintained is through very large fees." It adds in all capital letters, "THIS NOTE WAS NOT PAID FOR BY TAX DOLLARS."
Anderson said the notes do not violate county policy because they do not actually tell people how they should vote, and are considered to be simply spreading facts. "They didn't actually say to vote for or vote against. I think it's probably OK, but it's getting close to the line."
He said laws prohibit use of tax dollars from being used to influence pro or con about a political issue, but spreading factual information by employees is allowed.
Gibbons said the information in the sheets is factual. He said if the initiatives pass, the resulting budget cuts would force his department to cut all programs not required by law. He said subsidies for many shots and immunizations would cease, and large fees for them would likely result.
He added that the Utah Public Employees Association and individual employees are paying for the notices. "I paid for the first 300 out of my own pocket."
But Beesley said he doubts that no taxes are being used. "They may have paid for the paper, but they didn't pay for the time of employees and the facilities used to distribute it," he said.
Even if the method of distribution is legal, Beesley said it is unfair and objectionable. "It is also full of lies. They don't know where the cuts are going to come."
He added, "This was put together by the damnable hands of bureaucrats in the county. They are a bunch of damnable liars."