Guest Post: Bruce Call – Let’s Start Acting Like Employers

Bruce Call

[Bruce Call is a former mayor of Pleasant Grove, Utah. I saw this on Facebook just before Election Day and thought it insightful and well written — and applicable to a lot more cities than just Pleasant Grove. He kindly gave permission to reprint it here. As you will see, he moves past the immediate issue very quickly, and on to a crucial lesson for all citizens.]

To my friends who haven’t yet decided on the public safety bond issue:

It won’t come as any surprise that I am 100% in favor of the bond. It was the right thing to do last year, and it’s still the right thing to do. But with all the information, misinformation, and disinformation out there, let me give you a perspective that most of us fail to consider.

I often hear citizens say, “The police and fire employees need to remember that they work for us.” I agree — and I know they do remember that every single day.

But I would like all of us to turn that concept around and understand what it means. The citizens need to remember that they employ the public safety personnel. You are their employer. And having employees comes with obligations.

One of the major obligations of any employer is providing a safe workplace. We do not do that. It is our obligation to provide a safe workplace, and we simply do not do that. If a private company delivered the working conditions that you do for your public safety employees, the world would hold that employer’s feet to the fire in a loud and public way until changes were made.

Imagine an employer who not only won’t fix deplorable conditions, but scoffs at his employees and calls them selfish.

Imagine an employer who doesn’t even know the extent of the miserable conditions of the work environment he supplies, because he’s never even visited.

Imagine an employer who can’t be bothered to talk to his employees or get to know them on any level before deciding that they’re just fine with what they already have.

We want the police and fire to remember who they work for. Okay. So if we want to be thought of as employers, let’s start acting like employers. Responsible employers.

It’s time to step it up and do what’s right by the people who work for us.

Please Welcome Two Guest Columnists (And Soon a Third)

I rolled FreedomHabit.com live five weeks ago, with the thought that, somewhere down the road, I might want to think about guest columnists. Then, in space of about four days, three of them fell into my lap. That is, I saw three pieces of writing which were related to the (now-recent) election, yes, but with broader, more lasting value, and I asked permission to publish or republish them. I’m three for three, permission-wise.

I posted two of the pieces on Election Day, since they had some bearing on the election and permission came that quickly, but I didn’t promote them. I didn’t want to distract from what I was promoting that day, and I didn’t want the writing lost in the whirlwind or dismissed as relevant only to that day’s election.

Heidi Rodeback of American Fork (formerly MFCC, My Favorite City Councilor, now MFGC, My Favorite Guest Columnist — apologies to other present and future guest columnists, but I trust you understand) writes in favor of local government funding for arts programs. She makes the argument better and more clearly than we usually do.

Joylin Lincoln of Saratoga Springs writes of education, and why she entered the state school board race. It’s less about politics than you’d think. After you’ve read and reread her column, I suspect you’ll begin to understand why I called her “utterly charming” as a candidate.

I hope both will favor us with their thoughts here again. And I’ll publish a gem from my third guest columnist very soon.

Thanks for reading.

Notes on Election Results (and Some Housekeeping)

Let’s review some election results and consider what we’ve learned and what we might foresee.

United States Senate

Republicans seized a majority in the US Senate, picking up at least seven seats. However, they don’t have a veto-proof or even filibuster-proof majority. So expect gridlock to shift around a little, and the President to have to trade his golf clubs for a pen now and then to veto some bills. But at least a lot more bills — substantive ones, I mean — passed by the House might get to the Senate floor for debate and a vote. That will be a nice change.

It appears that Senator Orrin Hatch will become chair of the Senate Finance Committee and President Pro Tem of the Senate. We’ll find out if that’s worth something (as I thought when I campaigned for him) or just a nice-sounding theory (as the opposition thought).

US House of Representatives

As I write this, we’re still waiting for some returns from the Western US, especially California, but it appears that the Republicans will increase their House majority by at least ten seats. They still won’t have a veto-proof majority, but with their different rules they don’t have filibusters, so 60% is not a meaningful threshold.

Guest Post: Heidi Rodeback – A Case for Public Arts Funding

 

Heidi Rodeback

[Editor’s Note: This post holds some interest for today’s vote in American Fork on a proposed 0.10% sales tax increment to support parks, arts, recreation, and culture, but its lasting value is a cogent explanation of why and how government funding of the arts makes sense. Heidi Rodeback is a local musician and served on the American Fork City Council for eight years.]

At American Fork’s October 28, 2014, city council meeting, I was present for Carlton Bowen’s statement in opposition to the PARC tax, which has been reported by Barbara Christiansen at the Provo Daily Herald. I agree more than disagree with Mr. Bowen on the following, but the disagreement is significant.

“Funding of the arts isn’t a proper or primary role of government and is better done without government funding,” he said. “At the federal level, government funding of the arts has led to obscene and disturbing art that taxpayers would never voluntarily fund. Citizens shouldn’t be forced to fund art that they find offensive, through taxation. At the local level, funding of the arts can lead to the same problems as at the federal level, where art offensive to the community is funded with tax dollars because the rules allow it and the city gets threatened with a lawsuit if they play favorites.”

Yes, the road to public arts funding is fraught with peril. Still, good government must navigate this road successfully, as arts are essential to civil society. As a professional musician, I have given this subject a lot of study, and I believe that arts funding, while not a primary role of government, is nevertheless a proper role. A community can navigate successfully by remembering the following:

Guest Post: Joylin Lincoln – Why I Started This

Joylin-Lincoln

[Editor’s Note: This post started as a Facebook status. When I read it, I loved it, and I asked permission to reprint it here. Joylin Lincoln is a candidate for the Utah State Board of Education, but her words here reach far beyond Election Day.]

Yesterday I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post about the top 10 things I have learned while running for state school board.

Now I just want to cry . . .

Because nothing in that post is about why I started on this grand adventure. Why are we always so concerned about doing what is “politically right”? Education needs to be about each and every student who has been entrusted to the education system.

The goal of education should be to allow each student to rise to his or her full potential, whatever that is.

Students should come to school each day excited to be there because they are safe and have the whole world at their doorstep. I want students to see the world and ask: How does that work? Why does it work? Can I make it work better?

Students need to stand at the Grand Canyon in awe, because words cannot describe the majesty of what lies in front of them.

My Top Three Races Tomorrow

My top three races are also my top three reasons for hoping my neighbors will get out and vote tomorrow. Generally, the higher the turnout, the less radical the outcome — and I assert that two of these three races pit radicals against more sensible citizens.

(By the way, if you’re looking for my “handy election guide,” I’ve updated the early version a few times since I posted it, and it now has links to later discussion of some issues and races. So there’s no point in reposting it today as a “final edition” or whatever.)

Utah County Commission Seat A: Write-In Bill Freeze vs. Republican Greg Graves

Bill Freeze, whom I heartily recommend, is running very nearly a textbook write-in campaign against Republican Greg Graves — which is what it usually takes to win as a write-in candidate, even if the opportunity is ideal. I don’t expect Freeze to win in a landslide, because he is a write-in candidate, but I’m expecting him to win. That makes this a very unusual — and to me very interesting — race.

An Overdue Hat-Tip to the Utah Legislature

As I listened at a school board candidate debate the other day, I remembered a mental note I made months ago. At the time — as at other times, I freely confess — I was feeling a little cranky about what my party’s majority was doing and not doing in the Utah Legislature. (For a single, glaring sample, see “I Am Unfit for the Utah Legislature, from last February.)

The mental note was to blog the legislature an attaboy for HB 250, which both houses passed and Governor Herbert signed. (He gets an attaboy, too.) Having heard multiple Alpine School Board members speak of being trained rigorously to be something other than the people’s representatives, who function as a legislative body to govern the people’s public schools, and after hearing other board members and candidates defend the different, prevailing model, I appreciated this from the legislature:

Notwithstanding a local school board’s status as a body corporate, an elected member of a local school board serves and represents the residents of the local school board member’s district, and that service and representation may not be restricted or impaired by the local school board member’s membership on, or obligations to, the local school board.

What, if any, impact this will have on how school boards operate remains to be seen. At least those of us (if only a few) who care about this matter can now point to the law.

For some discussion of why this matters, see “The Importance of Not Being Unified.”