Saturday, April 29, 2006

Utah County Republican Convention Summary

The Utah County Republican Convention was both what I expected and not what I expected. For a first-time delegate, at first it was fairly confusing, and there were some things that might have been explained better. (I'm planning to write a letter to the convention planners, both to thank them and to make a few suggestions. I'll probably post the letter here also.) It was fun to "live-blog" it, also, with the help of my indispensable husband and my cell phone.

When I received my credentials, I was given a packet with my ballots (quarter-sized pieces of paper for each race, with two each for the three races with three candidates) and a schedule. I noted on the schedule that our Senate District caucus was scheduled to start in fifteen minutes, but as our district doesn't have a race this election cycle, I didn't figure it was going to be a crowded meeting. As Brad noted earlier, boy, was I wrong. The room was packed, and there was no way for me to get in, or even hear anything. So I gave up and went into the cafeteria to meet and talk with more candidates (and to get food! My goodness, there was a lot of sugar in that room. Almost every table had some kind of food--from candies to rolls from Magleby's to Krispy Kreme donuts. And lots of water bottles with candidates' information stuck on them. These came in very handy later in the very hot auditorium).

Our legislative caucus was much less crowded. I was able to spend a little time talking with our state representative (Mike Morley), and the leg (pronounced "ledge") chair totally recognized me and remembered that I live "right across from the park". That was cool. Other than that, though, the meeting was pretty boilerplate political speech, and I have to admit I got a little bored. And then it was time to go to the main meeting.

Of the 1205 county delegates elected at precinct meetings, only 61 were absent, meaning there was 96% attendance. We were packed into the auditorium, and just as I feared, it got pretty hot in there. Every seat, and then some, was filled. It was pretty exciting to be in a room with so many other political junkies--usually it's just me and my husband! Before the nominating session opened, I chatted with my seat-mates--it turned out we were all first-time delegates, and we had a good (and useful) time talking about why we favored one candidate over another. One of the women I spoke to works for the county, and she shared with me her concerns about some of the commissioners. I didn't end up changing my mind over anything she said, but it was good to get more information.

Once the opening ceremonies and introductions were over, the formal nomination process began. Each candidate had a friend or two come up to the microphone with him, and the friends would nominate and second the nomination. Then the candidate spoke briefly. By briefly, I mean really briefly. The whole process (from nomination to candidate speech) was allotted exactly three minutes. This was greatly appreciated by the crowd. Of course, less than three minutes doesn't allow much time to get to know the candidate. But hopefully most of the delegates had done that before the convention!

For myself, I am incredibly grateful for the Delegate Education Expo sponsored by Citizens' Resource. This afternoon-long event, held on April 8th, featured debates, questions and answer sessions, and meet-the-candidate time. Although I have received reams of election mail and many, many emails, I learned the most about the candidates and formed my main opinions from this event. It was a great idea, and one that I hope will be continued in the future.

The first ballot included both County Commission Seats (A & B) and County Attorney. These have been the most acrimonious races, at least at the county-wide level. After the ballots were taken out of the room to be counted, the nominations for Clerk/Auditor and Treasurer began. We voted on those, and while those ballots were taken out of the room, we were treated to a musical number by Cory Sorensen. It was a great song, but one where you wanted to clap along, but your hands were still stinging from all the other clapping you had done earlier. Oh well. Then the first results were announced:
County Commission Seat A
  • Howard Stone 4%
  • Jerry Grover 46%
  • Gary J. Anderson 50%
Because no candidate got more than 60%, another ballot was called for.

County Commission Seat B
  • Shirrel R. Young 2%
  • Bill Ellis 36%
  • Steve White 62%
Because Commissioner White polled more than 60%, there is no primary and he becomes the Republican party candidate for the general election.

County Attorney
  • Curtis Larson 19%
  • Kay Bryson 12%
  • Jeff Buhman 69%
When Kay Bryson's numbers were announced, there were cheers, boos, and clapping. Emotion has run pretty high over Kay Bryson this election season, and it was apparent not only in the numbers, but in the reaction.

While we were waiting for the rest of the election results, we were able to hear from our federal candidates--although we wouldn't be voting on these, many of the county delegates are state delegates as well. We heard from Orrin Hatch and one of his opponents, Brian Jenkins. We also heard from the 3rd and 2nd Congressional District candidates. There was also a bit of party constitutional business (pretty boring). And then, just before the meeting adjourned, the final results were announced:

County Commission Seat A
  • Jerry Grover 44%
  • Gary J Anderson 56%
Because neither polled 60% on the second round, this race will have a primary.

County Clerk/Auditor
  • Cary McConnell 42%
  • Bryan Thompson 58%
Because there are only two candidates, and neither polled 60%, we will have a primary in this race.

County Treasurer
  • Kim Jackson 28.5%
  • Robert Kirk 71.5%
Robert Kirk will be the Republican candidate for County Treasurer. (There's not a Democratic candidate, so basically he's the next treasurer.)

Thanks should be given to Payson High School, for letting us use their school as well as treating us to a performance of the Payson HS Pipe Band--wow, they were amazing! I love bagpipe music, and they played very well indeed. The national anthem was sung by a member of the high school Trouveres (I can't remember her name), and she did a wonderful job.

I am so incredibly glad I was able to be a part of this. It was amazing to see how our government works (at this level), and it was a fun and diverting morning.

County Convention Update 6: More Voting

11:07 AM: I voted for Anderson, Ellis, Buhman.

11:31 AM: Voted for McConnell and Kirk. Lt. Gov speaks.

12:09 PM: Yes! County Commission seat B, White wins. [Steve White was running against Bill Ellis and Shirrel Robinson.] Bryson loses big to Buhman [for county attorney].

12:10 PM: County Commissioner seat A goes to 2nd ballot.

[Candidate list can be found here at the time of posting:]

Keryn will post a summary of her experience shortly.

County Convention Update 5: The Main Session

Keryn couldn't phone me during the main session. Here are the text messages from her as they arrived. My comments are in square brackets [].

9:47 AM: OK. In auditorium. Gonna be hot in here.

9:50 AM: We spent the time before talking about who we are voting for. [I think they were supposed to start the main session at 9:30, so it looks like the main session is already a bit behind schedule. So much for the earlier punctuality!]

9:58 AM: Wow. Payson High School Pipe Band is amazing.

10:06 AM: Attending, 1119. 94%

10:13 AM: Oooh. Hellewell lost! The nasty anon letter backlash got him. [More info. Someone started an anonymous note saying things about Margaret Dayton, one of Hellewell's opponent. It is too bad for Hellewell that something he probably had no part in had to end up biting him. But perhaps it will be a lesson to those who think they can help a candidate by sliming his opponent.]

County Convention Update 4: The Rookie dilemma

Keryn asked Gary Anderson, who is running for one of two seats on the County Commission, if there was a downside to electing two rookies to the commission at the same time. He responded that he wouldn't be a total rookie since he had served on the commission 20 years ago. So he has the experience to do the job and the distance to have a fresh perspective. Interesting argument.

I mentioned to Keryn that it is also useful to remember that the Commission probably has a semi-permanent staff that will understand the day-to-day working of the office.

I heard a similar concern from a prospective temple president for an LDS temple. Having never run a temple, he was nervous about the assignment. But he didn't need to be worried. Each temple has a "recorder" that is there on the long term that worries about the day to day operations while the temple president can see to the spiritual leadership.

So being a rookie shouldn't be too much of a problem as long as there are institutional supports to make it work.

County Convention Update 3: The Sqeeze

Keryn just tried to get into the senate district caucus meeting. There is no race in our district, so she figured it would be pretty empty. Wrong. The classroom was so full that people were pouring out the door. She could hear anything, so she won't be participating in that meeting.

Sounds like the planners didn't do a good job anticipating the needs in the various venues in this case. First of all, for any gathering of more than 40 people there should probably be some sort of amplification provided. Second, venues should be large enough to accomodate a large crowd without getting in trouble with the fire marshall.

We've seen this on a smaller scale with some of the local caucus meetings. When we lived in Orem for the community caucus meeting two years ago, they had the same thing where way too many people were crowded into a high school classroom.

County Convention Update 2

Keryn checks in on the cell phone again. She has her credentials. There could have been better signage pointing to the location of the sign-in, but fortunately there were lots of friendly people around.

Keryn just spoke to some police officers who are anxious to see some new blood in the county attorny's office. They want Kay Bryson out and Jeff Buhman in.

County Convention Update 1

Keryn just called from her cell phone on her way to the GOP Utah county convention. She is a little more than 20 minutes early and she feels late. There is hardly any parking at Payson High School where the convention is being held.

There were other meetings at earlier hours that weren't for all the delegates (as near as we could tell) but it is hard to believe that all of those cars would belong to the few people involved in those meetings. It looks like politically active Utahns are punctual!

Last Minute County Convention Prep

Last night, both Keryn and I were in bed. Keryn was busily making notes about the various county candidates in preparation for her participation in this morning's GOP Utah county convention.

She had mostly put away the big stack of papers that she had received and she was reviewing websites and emails. I started to encourage her to go to sleep, knowing that she had to get up to the convention before 8:00 AM.

At 10:53 pm, an email arrived from Jeff Buhman. In it he said, "For those who awake at this hour...." We both got a good chuckle. It sounds like Buhman wasn't all the way awake when he wrote it. It must be a difficult few weeks leading up to the convention for active candidates.

I wonder how many country delegates will get a chance to read that email before the votiong occurs. Probably not many. But luckily for Buhman, we're technology addicted and the laptop follows us into bed. I'll look forward to getting Keryn's report on the convention and what it is like.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

NIMBY and me

Tomorrow, April 28, Governor Huntsman of Utah and an impressive collection of high-ranking politicians are holding a rally and press conference over the proposed plan to temporarily store high-level nuclear waste in Utah. Called "“No Way Day"”, the public is invited to attend the events at the State Office Building Auditorium at noon. (More information can be found at The BLM is accepting public comment on this issue until May 8--the contact information for the BLM can be found at the bottom of this post.

I have mixed feelings about the proposed Goshute Indian Reservation (Skull Valley) temporary storage plan. Obviously nobody really relishes the idea of storing dangerous materials less than an hour'’s drive from their home. But I have to guard against a knee-jerk reaction to a serious issue such as this. A "not-in-my-backyard" (NIMBY) attitude is not unexpected, but neither is it appropriate.

I grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, and along with most of my fellow state citizens, I was firmly against the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. Many of the same arguments against Yucca Mountain are being used against Skull Valley:

  • Nevada and Utah don'’t even generate high level nuclear waste, so why should we have to clean up after the "other"” states?
  • This radioactive material is going to remain dangerous for thousands and thousands of years--how can anyone be sure it will be safe even in the short term?
  • The states' citizens have not been asked in any meaningful way what they think about the storage (be it temporary or permanent).
  • What about transporting the fuel to the sites--near or even through some of our major population centers?
However, as my understanding of the politics and science of the situation have broadened, I have slowly changed my mind regarding Yucca Mountain. Even though we don't produce nuclear waste, we are part of a nation that does, and we can't "stick it" to the "other" states. We have to be willing to do our share. Yes, the material is dangerous, and likely to remain so for a very very very long time. But I feel that we have done as much as our present technology allows to mitigate this danger. Ditto for the transportation issue. It's sad and frustrating that we don't have as loud a voice as we would like in this issue, but our states are small in numbers--the way our government works, it counts against us, and that's the way it is. So I can't in good conscience oppose Yucca Mountain or Skull Valley on those points.

However, the Skull Valley situation offers one potential problem that I don't have an answer for. The nature of the Goshute Valley plan is that it is temporary. We aren't prepared for, and haven't studied the impact of, long-term storage at that site. Eventually, the waste stored there will be moved to a permanent storage site (presumably Yucca). There's one problem with this--Yucca Mountain was chosen as the nation's permanent storage site nearly 20 years ago (the "Screw Nevada" Bill of 1987), and according to the government website on Yucca Mountain, the project has not even begun to construct the repository. So forgive me if I feel doubtful that Yucca Mountain will ever be ready.

If my (rather pessimistic) scenario comes true, what happens to the waste stored at Skull Valley? With all the uproar about transporting it here in the first place, I somehow doubt anyone will want to try to move it again. And so, Skull Valley becomes a permanent site simply by default. And I don't think that's a good idea. Unless I can be convinced that this is highly unlikely to happen, I have to "vote" against Skull Valley.

Contact: Pam Schuller
E-mail address:
Fax number: (801) 977-4397

Send letters to:
Bureau of Land Management
Salt Lake Field Office
2370 South 2300 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84119

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Immigration Conflation

A big challenge that we face in the debate over immigration policy is the fact that different parties mean different things with the same words. Often, we are conflating several issues together.

If a person opposes illegal immigration, they do not automatically oppose legal immigration. Nor do they automatically dislike the race of the majority of illegal immigrants. I just read Phil Windley make this mistake. He writes:

Frankly, I’ve never understood why some conservatives consider being tough on immigration a conservative issue. I consider myself politically conservative and think that the future of our economy and well-being rests of liberal (small “l”) immigration policy.

You see what I mean? Windley doesn't draw any distinction between "immigration" and "illegal immigration." The tough talk I'm hearing about immigration has to do with the violation of law and process. I'm just not hearing much in the way of anti-immigration talk in general. (I know it is out there. I just don't think it is a major voice.)

I think it is a shame that it is so difficult to get into this country legally. There are people spending lots of money and time to go through the legal process. I think that legal process should be cheap and simple. If we need to limit the absolute numbers we admit in a given year for stability and assimilation purposes, that is reasonable, but let's keep the process simple.

If a person chooses to skip the immigration process and instead just shows up, as apparently 11 or 12 million have done, what are we going to do with them? The number is huge and I don't know the answer. Mass deportation just doesn't seem feasible. But I don't condone the untruthful methods those people have used to arrive here and maintain a presense here.

I am very much in favor of immigration. But I believe that it should be done "in wisdom and in order." The exploitation that happens to those that are here illegally should be one of the biggest motivators to stop that scenario somehow!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Iraq War Coalition Fatalities

Silus Grok pointed me to this graphically simply, yet emotionally powerful Flash animation showing coalition fatalities in Iraq.

Still, I can't help but wonder if we'd have lost WWII if animations like this had existed back them.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Micro-credit Documentary

Today on BYU-TV, between sessions of LDS General Conference, they played a documentary about micro-credit in Bangladesh and elsewhere. It is a remarkable innovation for helping the poor to help themselves. They are given very small loans, perhaps as small as $10. The borrowers have no collateral--they only have their word that they will repay the loan. Repayment rates over 90% are typical for programs around the world that are implementing the program.

If you'd like to watch the documentary, it will be available online at for a couple of weeks. Open the website in Internet Explorer on Windows and, after the viewer gets installed, click the "on-demand" link to the right of the video. You can navigate to April 1, 12:00 pm.

A more permanent resource is the BYU Center for Economic Self-Reliance.