Two Reluctant Farewells

It’s a sad week for American Fork. We lost two icons — one you probably know, another you might not.

Happily, they didn’t die. One retired, and the other resigned to pursue other opportunities.

Both have been public employees. Both have distinguished themselves in their professions. I have had the honor of knowing and working with both.

Yesterday, after 30 years as American Fork High School’s Director of Bands, Mr. John Miller conducted his last performance in that position, when the AFHS Wind Symphony played at commencement. Much praise has been heaped on him this year, whether he liked it or not, and he deserves all of it.

Wednesday was Chief Lance Call‘s last day at the head of the American Fork Police Department, after ten superb, understated years. He leaves more quietly, deserving but not wanting a lot more praise than he’ll get.

The two are very much alike. Both prefer to stand back and let others — staff or students — shine. Both have my gratitude and my admiration.

The Post I Never Finished Last Year (Updated)

For me 2015 was, among other things, a year in which I didn’t blog as much as I hoped to, and didn’t finish some of the writing I started.

I’m trying to avoid that this year, in part by scaling back my expectations, but also by doing a little better outside of election season. There are things other than politics and government about which I want to write — am writing — elsewhere, but these things matter too.

I have fragments of an unpublished post from last year in which I predicted some things for the coming year. I thought it might be interesting to look back, forward, and around on the same topics one year later.

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.

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:

One More School Boards Debate: This Time with My Candidates

Last night’s debate at Mt. Mahogany Elementary in Pleasant Grove was moderated by American Fork High School Students — who performed respectably — and attended by about 40 people who weren’t candidates and who behaved respectfully.

That is, the first half, with the the Alpine School Board candidates who will appear on my ballot, John Burton and Chris Jolley, was attended by 40 people. Half of those left before the second half of the debate, which featured state school board candidates.

First, briefly, the state candidates . . .

About PARC and the Larger Issue It Exposes

The PARC Proposal

My ballot in American Fork on Election Day — or whenever I get around to early voting — will include this proposition:

American Fork PARC referendum

They’re calling it the PARC tax, for Parks, Arts, Recreation, and Culture. If it passes, a committee of seven American Fork residents (whom the mayor will choose from among those who apply) will consider applications for funding and make recommendations to the city council.

This Candidate Respects the Voters

This post is a happy one, about a candidate who respects the voters. We’ll get to the details shortly, but first I have to tell you why this is noteworthy.

Long-time readers already know I’m often critical of candidates who show up for a race with little more than a head full of principles and a passionate conviction that their mission is to help fix everything that’s wrong with government — which to them is pretty much everything. They are convinced that their principles can beat up my principles and yours, and will be sufficient to see them through their revolution to a successful and glorious conclusion.

Too often, they haven’t done their homework. They haven’t worked in or with the government they seek to lead, or even watched it closely for an extended period. They don’t know how it really works — but they’re quite certain they know how it should work. They’ve read the US Constitution (which I love and to which I, too, am fiercely loyal), but they can’t read a budget or a craft a competent statute. When they file as candidates, some of them still have never attended a public meeting of the body to which they and their principles seek election.

Tonight’s School Boards Debate at Lone Peak High School

The Setting

About 15 minutes into tonight’s meet-the-candidates event — or was it a debate? — at Lone Peak High School, there were about 70 citizens in attendance. That’s a good turnout. About ten of them were children of various ages, including my very cooperative nine year old; this is also good.

Another dozen or so trickled in later. I didn’t see anyone leave early.

The debate was moderated by State Representative Mike Kennedy, who represents Highland, Alpine, and Cedar Hills, give or take. I wonder if he was nervous, sitting next to State Auditor John Dougall, who is very highly regarded locally as a moderator.

I won’t be attempting a play-by-play report or analysis of the event, but I will share some impressions and document my evolving evaluation of some candidates.

David’s Handy Little Election Guide (Updated)

[Note: I have updated this post since writing it, mostly with links to later posts about races and issues considered here — and three proposed state constitutional amendments I didn’t realize were on the ballot.]

In keeping with my long-established (but not perfectly consistent) tradition at LocalCommentary.com, my little election guide considers the races that are on my own ballot, and few if any others. So the interest is localized. As the man said, all politics is local.

This post includes notes, numerous links (mostly to candidate web sites), and my own commentary.

Early Voting

Early voting starts tomorrow in Utah. Fellow American Forkers may vote early at the American Fork library. Utah.gov lists early voting days, hours, and additional locations.

My Votes

Usually, I analyze candidates and issues, do some Q&A with candidates, and toss my opinions around for weeks or months. I generally report on meet-the-candidates events in considerable detail. Then, a day or two before Election Day, I list my votes, if I list them at all.

It’s an unusual year for me. I haven’t heard of a meet-the-candidates event in American Fork, which disappoints me. And I’m telling you my votes at the beginning of my (foreshortened) writing cycle this year. I’ll add more detailed treatment of some candidates and issues as time permits, between now and Election Day.