SALT LAKE CITY —
Some musings for a warm summer day:
The mayor’s muscle: People who criticize Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski for continuing to employ a full-time security detail should think hard. News that the mayor has lost her security may not be the message they want to send. Regardless of the mayor’s sexual orientation (Biskupski, who is gay, was assigned a detail after the Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre in 2016), mayors are vulnerable.
Former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill used to say all politics is local, and in my experience, local politics is the nastiest politics of all.
You don’t have to look too far into the past to find disturbing examples. Mike Swoboda was the mayor of Kirkwood, Missouri, when a man at a meeting shot him to death in 2008. Ed King was mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, when someone shot him to death during a City Council meeting because of a dispute over a clogged sewer line.
Political ideology is not a factor here. Utahns should support security for leaders regardless of their position on issues, especially prominent ones such as the mayor of Salt Lake City. Keeping political leaders safe is important for safeguarding and honoring democracy. The frequent recent assassinations of mayors in Mexico, for example, send a powerful message about groups that consider themselves in charge down there. Here, there should be no doubt the people rule.
Police Chief Mike Brown told the Deseret News “there are threats that come in and we have to deal with continually."
With that in mind, the roughly $163,000 cost so far for two bodyguards may seem high (maybe only one guard would do), but the cost of not protecting an important figurehead for local government in this state could be much higher.
Elected to do what? All three Republicans vying to win this month’s primary in the race to replace Jason Chaffetz in Congress have, to various degrees, talked about the need to get the nation’s fiscal house in order.
That’s not only reasonable, it’s downright necessary, if you have any real understanding of looming problems.
The trouble is the GOP’s recent collapse on health care reform will make any movement toward meaningful fiscal reform that much harder. Republicans couldn’t get rid of Obamacare after years of promising to do it. Why shouldn’t this embolden special interests who oppose reasonable tax reforms?
Larry Lindsey, former President George W. Bush’s economic adviser, told CNBC “ when you have a president who can't deliver his own caucus, then the president's position will be weakened on all issues."
None of the three Republicans has been able to adequately explain how to overcome this burden. But it may be unfair to even ask. Coming to Washington midterm right now is like getting thrown into a game where uniforms are hard to discern and the referees aren’t sure of the rules.
Ballots everywhere: Speaking of the 3rd Congressional District, how about Utah County’s mistake sending ballots to almost 70,000 unaffiliated voters?
You have to be a registered Republican to vote in Republican primaries in this state. The county is sending out follow-up notices to these folks telling them they can’t vote in the primary unless they register. Then it gives them instructions on how to do so on Election Day.
That raises some questions. How many Republicans left the party last year after Donald Trump’s nomination, and will they now be returning? I couldn’t find local stats, but the Pew Research Center released a survey earlier this year showing 23 percent of Republicans aged 18-29 became Democrats between December 2015 and March 2017.
I’m guessing those figures weren’t as high in Utah, although many may have become unaffiliated. How will that affect the outcome of the primary?
How will they spend it? Our Schools Now, the group formed by business leaders to put an education initiative on ballots in 2018, has changed plans. Instead of proposing a 17.5 percent increase in state income taxes, the group now wants about a 9 percent increase each in income and sales tax.
That would raise about $700 million more for public schools.
What the group hasn’t said, however, is exactly what voters would get for all that money.
Answering that question will be hard, considering spending is decided separately by each school district, based on needs. Still, as any business leader will tell you, simply spreading money evenly won’t accomplish much.