Cautious tone in first GRAMA working group meeting

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  • Bruce Edward Walker Midland, MI
    March 25, 2011 11:16 a.m.

    Why this great expenditure of time, effort and money to examine a piece of legislation that has no place in any corner of the universe much less inside the United States? It's baffling that this bill was introduced, passed, and (perhaps more understandable)not vetoed by the Governor. This is not a liberal, conservative, libertarian, progressive or Republican vs. Democrat issue. It's an issue of keeping elected officials and their respective staffs honest and, failing that, accountable.

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    March 25, 2011 7:07 a.m.

    Is it just me?...or do other people find it disconcerting that Elder Ballard, Bishop Wester and the elite Alliance are wading into the waters again?
    I agree with their position here; it just gives me the willies whenever they throw their weight around.
    In our democratic republic, their opinion should have no more validity than 15 voters chosen at random from the Panguitch phone book.

  • NorthStream Salt Lake City, Utah
    March 24, 2011 7:27 p.m.

    To our lawmakers, just repeal HB477.

    To those of us who vote, please give some consideration to voting out those who pushed HB477 thru in the first place.

    Because we can't trust the lawmakers, be sure to sign the petition.

  • phgreek Hooper, UT
    March 24, 2011 5:22 p.m.

    @ Considering

    You raise one concern at least worth visiting...and clearly thought about it some. I understand folks just want to be heard, and don't necessarily want to stand up for something...not my style but I cede the need to protect that.

    Rural logisitics are more inconvenient, but representatives need to understand what it takes to fully represent their people when they take the job. As well GRAMA provides some ability to protect your constituents.

    I would do the following...In an e-mail request, I would redact the name and addresses and leave all the comments...then let the requestor ask for more specific information related toa specific email...whats the big deal? As far as cell phone records, redact the last 4 digits of the phone number if providing itemized phone records...if you need to provide a voicemail message, use a voice to text converter and provide transcripts...and black out names. This is all very easy stuff to do. No court is going to order you to provide more unless your constituent happens to have an interest in government business.

    Convenience is not reason to create a GRAMA that opens the door to cooruption.

  • Danish American Payson, UT
    March 24, 2011 3:27 p.m.

    I wish the press would have cared as much about HB116 as they have this issue. They really hyped HP477 and blew it way out of proportion. HB116 has much greater potential for damage to the State.

  • Considering Stockton, UT
    March 24, 2011 1:35 p.m.

    So I trust everyone who demands 100% access to every phone call a legislator makes on State issued blackberry are also ok with the name, address, and salary of EVERY State employee being posted on the internet. You all are good with making every email sent between teachers and students (or the students' parents) open to public review, right? After all, it is all done on taxpayer provided equipment.

    Or are those cases "different" somehow?

    I've yet to hear anyone give a specific line item, or specific section of code that presents a serious problem.

    I've also yet to see any of you urban folks address the reality of rural living. It is easy to drive 5 minutes and have a private, face-to-face conversation with your legislator when his district is all of 5 miles across.

    But when a leg district includes the better part of two full counties and it is a 2 hour drive to your legislator's home, a phone call, email, or text is far more practical. Why should rural (conservative) constituents' conversations with legislators be less private than urban (liberal) constituents' simply because geography necessitates the use of electronics?

  • Dektol Powell, OH
    March 24, 2011 1:24 p.m.

    Are these people mentally ill? They pass legislation their constituents overwhelmingly say NO to. Now the collect pay to re-visit their stupidity?

    Yes, the public is entitled to the letters, emails and notes of ALL communication that pertains to legislative business. If they want personal correspondence exempted, do it at home on their own dime, not on taxpayer money.

    Every meeting and communication as a legislator belongs to the voters. Hiding it looks like you are hiding something you are ashamed of - like this asinine bill.

  • frelsi Salt Lake City, UT
    March 24, 2011 12:46 p.m.

    They should adopt West Valley City's approach of "How can we serve the Public better? Make the process more accessible? Reduce costs?" That's the right attitude.

  • no fit in SG St.George, Utah
    March 24, 2011 11:18 a.m.

    I believe we all have just about had enough of the condescending attitude the Legislators display towards those who have elected them into political office.
    Why has this become so prevalent?
    Who or what has convinced those who believe themselves to be "Elite", that they are living on a level that is so far superior than their constituents?
    Every so often we hear of "those Elite shadowy figures" who are "really running the world".
    Is the quest for money and power so strong at this time, that there truly is a possibility of the disappearance of the middle class?

  • JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt Beverly Hills, CA
    March 24, 2011 10:04 a.m.

    To quote many many many many Republicans and conservatives that are fine with destroying our civil rights and curb the Constitution, "If you have nothing to hide then what is the problem?"

    Those who voted for this bill, If you have nothing to hide.....

    Oh silly me to question how you use tax payer money. Go ahead and give away another 13 million $ consolation prize for NOT building a road.

  • JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt Beverly Hills, CA
    March 24, 2011 9:42 a.m.

    None of this REWORK or READJUST garbage, REPEAL. There was nothing wrong with the law to begin with. If you have shady business that cannot be conducted with the glare of the public on the public's dime, do not run for elected office.

    DO NOT let them try and pass some other garbage.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    March 24, 2011 9:09 a.m.

    My email at work is open to review.

    My phone at work is recorded.

    My property can be searched without warrent due to the Patriot Act.

    I won't even TELL you what happens to me with the TSA on flights.

    And the Utah legislator is 'above' all these things?

    I, disagree.

    I agree with THM.

    CONTINUE to contact your senators. CONTINUE to sign petitions.

    We cannot allow this.

  • THM Cedar City, UT
    March 24, 2011 9:02 a.m.

    Everyone - don't let down your guard. Keep contacting all senators today. 477 must be repealed and not repelaced. Keep signing petitions too.

  • Joe Bauman Salt Lake City, UT
    March 24, 2011 8:46 a.m.

    I have two comments:
    1, Repeal is the only acceptable choice. There's no reason the Legislature can't live with the simple requirements that they conduct official business on state equipment and that their actions concerning official business are subject to oversight by the public.
    2, News media representatives SHOULD NOT be involved in any legislative working group. Their presence co-opts them, makes them part of the process. How can they objectively report on a bill they helped craft? It is unbecoming and it's an assault on journalistic impartiality. Of course they were invited. That is the best way to get them all puffed up with their own importance -- while they help abridge freedom of information.

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    March 24, 2011 8:16 a.m.

    If a "work group" is needed to understand that this bill is wrong, then our "leaders" have clearly lost their way.

  • phgreek Hooper, UT
    March 24, 2011 8:02 a.m.

    @JMT...actually, allowing the changes to GRAMA would be the sovietification. FOIA and GRAMA are companions, and force government accountability at all levels, which is the opposite of the type of government found in the soviet union today, and historically speaking.

    So...not sure what else to make of your statements, I assume you were trying to say something, but since your opening line was off 180 degrees, I'm lost.

    Always interested in hearing different points of view, although I've yet to see a well thought out, reasoned approach for supporting the proposed changes to GRAMA.

    I have seen silly justifications that fail the reasonable man test.

    Even the "Cost" justification blows up when you realize that Utah legislature just made their communications "important" to the type of wiki-leaks mentality that is prevalent today. Do you have any idea what cyber-security infrastructure and personnel will cost to protect this now "priveleged" information...I'll help'll be 5X what the taxpayer is burdened with due to supposed fishing expeditions.

    If by Sovietification, you mean reasoned, rational thought...I guess I'll take your label and wear it proudly.

  • Yorkshire City, Ut
    March 24, 2011 7:50 a.m.

    Is it just me--or are they wasting a WHOLE LOT OF TIME on this?

    First to get it talked to death and passed, and now to get it talked to death and repealed.

    There are so many more REAL problems that should be being dealt with instead.

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    March 24, 2011 7:45 a.m.

    With apologies to "freedomforthepeople" I offer a different perspective:

    We cannot have freedom and a representative government if the people treat public education with such contempt and hatred as legislators thus far have treated them.

    It is very popular in Utah to hate public education no matter what it does. The uneducated among us (many of whom seem to elected to public office) open their full hatred upon volunteer citizen teachers who are trying to serve their fellow citizens.

    Why all the hatred? Is it the classic envy? Is it the uneducated class warfare perpetrated by arm-chair quarterbacks?

    Teachers are volunteers. They were hired by the school boards we elected and follow the curriculum guidance given by our elected state school board and legislature. They are doing the job as best they can. They should have privacy and you strip them of it, we will all pay the price. Capable, smart high school graduates, seeing the risks will refuse to major in education.

    Teachers have other lives, too, Senator Bramble. They sign an annual agreement that they expect NO privacy using school email, and that they can be fired for political advocacy using email on school computers.

  • Furry1993 Somewhere in Utah, UT
    March 24, 2011 7:11 a.m.

    To freedomforthepeople | 7:04 p.m.

    We cannot have freedom and a representative government if the people treat their volunteer legislators with such contempt and hatred as posters thus far have treated them.

    You've got things backward. The legislators aren't being treated with contempt and hatred. The legislators, though bills like HB477, are treating US with contempt. They are our employees, and we have every right to know what they're up to. They have no right to hide their maschinations from us. The people of Utah are just holding them accountable for what they are trying to do.

  • JMT Springville, UT
    March 24, 2011 2:42 a.m.

    Ah, the Sovietification of America....the progressives and their marching drum beat of populism. Does anyone on this board even know the history of GRAMA and FOIA? You think you own these legislators? Do you think you are entitled to their every communication?

    Sadly, a little history and truth will never last the great fantasy being lived out by the radicals. But by all means, enjoy your pitchfork party.

  • benlistening Cedar City, UT
    March 23, 2011 11:48 p.m.

    I would venture a guess that not one of our elected officials campaigned on their intention to make Utah the most secretive state in the union, or do away with e-signatures, or import guest workers to take our jobs. Make a list of everyone who voted for these bills and vote for the other candidate next election.

  • phgreek Hooper, UT
    March 23, 2011 11:38 p.m.

    @ freedom

    trying to remain tactful here. I heard about HB477 through the media, and read it myself...I sought out folks who can interpret these poorly written "Bills", and they confirmed my suspicions...also all of them happened to be Republicans...again no bias. I will admit, in addition to my research the local papers alerted me to additional issues in the bill...their job I'd say...but I don't need an editorial to tell me a dead Carp stinks.

    This privacy thing is a complete farse...if you are organized and thoughtful, and take the time as a legislator to define your own communications policy, you should never have an issue where personal communications are in jeopardy. And spare me the goofy excuse that constituents might be compromised. There are already laws and provisions in GRAMA to protect that stuff. If those are inadequate, then address them...thats not at all what we have in HB477.

    This was DC politics, and some Chicago style in there based on the Heber Rep's. comments. "Volunteers" in any endeavor who are self-serving need not apply. You can pick them out because they use their volunteerism as a shield.

  • freedomforthepeople Sandy, UT
    March 23, 2011 10:14 p.m.

    Fred - the legislators are willing to give up SOME of their privacy and always have. Things are evolving now so they are not safe from voyeuristic media. You cannot tell me that you don't agree the media has demonstrated over and over that they are not concerned about people's personal welfare when compared with the opportunity for a story. Many innocents have been tried and convicted in the media, and the media doesn't bother to retract, or even have the decency to run the story when they are acquitted or the charges are dropped.

    If it were happening to you, I believe the story would quickly change. Currently, the media can request whatever they choose at the expense of the taxpayer, and go on a "hunt" for juicy gossip.

    Of course that is not the story you get from the media itself - why would they present that view?

    JWB - you are being tricked by one of the oldest tricks in the book - "it isn't the bill, it's the process". This is a tried and true strategy, used for ages. Take the focus off the issue and accuse people of something less tangible.

  • utahprincipal801 Sandy, UT
    March 23, 2011 9:36 p.m.

    Elected Officials and Government Workers: Use the phone, computer or other electronic device I pay for, and I have the right to expect access to the communication on it. The public provided these tools to you to do the public's business. Do your private business on your own devices. How hard is that? There are plenty of perks that you elected people receive beyond the financial. I don't think any of you are so pure to serve strictly for altruistic reasons. You all receive many kinds of rewards for serving. I have a right to check up on you, because you all take money and other various perks from people who want to influence you (and do). Most of you won't allow ethical regulations that folks in other states now operate under. Am I, the average citizen out there, skeptical about how much we can trust you? Yeah, I am. Especially since you hold a whole lot of communication behind our backs in closed causes now. Get off your arrogant high horses, repeal this bill, and stop patronizing the public.

  • Fred44 Grantsville, Utah
    March 23, 2011 8:47 p.m.


    Lets be truthful here. These folks ran for an office, volunteering is working in your local little league concession stand or the food bank. These folks are compensated. No they are not getting rich but $15-20,000 a year with a very good health insurance plan is not a bad part-time job. Ten years in the legislature buys you lifetime insurance, that is not a bad perk. No one is taking away their privacy. If they use their own phones and computers not state supplied phones and computers they have all the privacy they want. Do the business of the state in the open and their will be no problems.

    I will grant you that the newspapers and tv stations have jumped on this one hard because it impacts them, but it doesn't make what the legislature did right. When you CHOOSE to run for office you give up some of your privacy, that is simply reality. If they want to maintain complete privacy I would suggest they get out of politics.

  • EJM Herriman, UT
    March 23, 2011 8:36 p.m.

    @Freedom: with all due respect I can only hope that you are trying pull a" funny". I don't know where to begin refuting your postings. Let's start with volunteer legislators. They receive compensation,benefits,gas mileage,and free phones with all the bells and whistles.

    The uneducated class warfare? So these individuals are educated and everyone else should just go blindly obedient because they are smarter than the rest of us? Sounds like we should just have a ruling class and then everyone else. I would love to serve as a legislator but unfortunately I am not an R. I am an American. We tend to forget that that is more important than the D or the R.

    The Desnews is serving the people. All the people. Not just the R's or the D's or the LDS or the Catholics or whomever. Their agenda is to do exactly what they are doing. It would be shameful if they did anything less.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    March 23, 2011 8:11 p.m.

    To freedomforthepeople 7:04 p.m. I believe may be missing the point with HB477. It is not really the bill, per se. It is the process they took to move it through in hours and days from beginning to end. I don't believe there is a feeling like you are expressing. Legislators know what they are getting into when they run for elected office. That process culls people out. Legislators are smart but also listen and feel for the people in the bills that go through the process. DNews and KSL and the SLTribune are not tricking people. People are the government and want to ensure their rights and interests are considered in the governmental process. The legislators that understand now that this specific bill was fast-track understand they might have been misled or persuaded unduly to vote in a certain way. Voters take that into consideration when they county and state conventions meet the next time we have elections. As you know, not everyone votes for elected officials but that is what they should do. People become more involved and the Senators or Representatives that didn't have an opposition may have one next time

  • freedomforthepeople Sandy, UT
    March 23, 2011 7:04 p.m.

    We cannot have freedom and a representative government if the people treat their volunteer legislators with such contempt and hatred as posters thus far have treated them.

    It is very popular in Utah to hate the legislature, no matter what they do. The non-thinking among us (many whom seem to post on these comment sections) open their full hatred upon volunteer citizen legislators who are trying to serve their fellow citizens.

    Why all the hatred? Is it the classic envy? Is it the uneducated class warfare perpetrated by arm-chair quarterbacks?

    It certainly is harming our community, and the press is responsible for it.

    Legislators are volunteers. They were elected by US. They are doing their job as best they can. They should have privacy and if you strip them of it, we will all pay the price. Capable, smart people, seeing the risks will refuse to serve.

    Our legislators will then be less capable and less smart. We will all suffer.

    I cannot believe the DNews and KSL and other media outlets are so unashamedly promoting their own agenda and tricking people into believing HB477 is a problem for the people. Shameless.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    March 23, 2011 7:03 p.m.

    The Governor, House and Senate are forgetting the reason people are upset over this bill. HB477 addresses an important subject. It is not just the specific bill but the whole shortcut process of the Senate and House trying to ramrod this through. Two hours in the Senate and a little more in the House after the Legislature General Counsel had it for a month. The Governor knew what had happened in the process before he signed it. The Governor speaks from both sides of his mouth by stating, "This should be the most open, deliberative, transparent discussion on any issue maybe in recent memory here in the state of Utah." The outcome he already decided when he signed the bill, which was not any of the words above in that process. This group of people are a just a sounding board with some few selected Senators and Representatives. These individuals were civil today with David Kirkham stating everything is great, that is not what the meeting is about. It is about making sure government in Utah is open on all issues, not just this small piece which stymies all the rest of the process with immigration, budget or education.

  • RShackleford Saint George, UT
    March 23, 2011 6:09 p.m.

    I am going to guess that the Legislators will tame down The Bill so "We The People" will drop the full repeal referendum on a November ballot.

    Then, next year, they can add a little more to hide their shenanigansns and in about three years we will have the same thing as bill 477...or worse!

    Even if our legislators repeal and drop the complete bill; We know what they are up to! I Hope that "We The People" will put a referendum on the ballot to stop any further manipulation of the GRAMA records law.

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    March 23, 2011 6:05 p.m.

    Life races on as we get older, so forgive me if I am mistaken.
    Didn't our elected leaders just meet recently to discuss and debate state laws? It seems like just a couple of weeks ago that they were all together up on the hill.
    I sure hope we're not paying for this little production of political theater.

  • Fred44 Grantsville, Utah
    March 23, 2011 5:55 p.m.

    This is really simple. If you want your conversations private, don't use your state issued cellphone, your state issued computer, or have the conversation in your state issued office. Really is it that complicated?

  • dave Park City, UT
    March 23, 2011 5:40 p.m.

    phgreek | 4:23 p.m. March 23, 2011

    You beat me to it. Perfect summation of the two incongruous quotes by Waddoups and Bramble.

    The arrogance of these people is appalling.

  • Kimball Woodruff Salt Lake City, UT
    March 23, 2011 5:08 p.m.

    I prefer that the legislature not repeal HB477. The citizens can then show them what democracy means.

  • phgreek Hooper, UT
    March 23, 2011 4:23 p.m.

    The 4th amendment stuff is just ridiculous...

    "We all have rights, Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, told the panel. "People have a right to privacy in their private and business dealings."

    ...and we have a right to ask you to be organized and keep that stuff separated if you feel violated. I'm not, as of yet, thinking we need to be Draconian in enforcing separation of personal and Gov. business...I'm sure family calls, emails, and sends text messages...but you are taking our good will in allowing you some flexibility and clobbering us with is enfuriating

    Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said he has four different lives his public life as a part-time legislator, his private life, his professional life as an accountant and his ecclesiastical life as a church leader and only records from the first should be available.

    ...And I can argue that 1 of 4 belong on accounts I pay for Mr. Bramble. Again if you are going to whine about the flexibility we allow, and club us with it, then keep separate accounts...

    Where does this mentality come from?

  • Reasonable Person Layton, UT
    March 23, 2011 4:04 p.m.

    Violation of their Fourth Amendment Rights.....when they are using OUR internet connections, devices, and/or email addresses?

    Use your own darned phone on your own internet connection AND NEVER use your personal device for state work. If you even do it once, the cross-polination means your personal device is now OUR device.

    Look, legislators: the only reason you should be fighting this, is because there's something you are hiding.

    Utahns need to start looking at the candidates, rather than the pa(R)ty.

  • Furry1993 Somewhere in Utah, UT
    March 23, 2011 3:16 p.m.

    The ONLY appropriate thing to do is repeal HB477.

    People -- please -- don't stop working on the referendum to repeal. I don't trust these legislators to follow through, and get the job done.

  • Aspiring Theist Sandy, UT
    March 23, 2011 2:30 p.m.

    Whether you are against or for HB477 it seems to me the leadership on this issue has be terrible. I am embarressed for them.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    March 23, 2011 1:43 p.m.

    Repeal HB477