I Declare Amnesty (No, Not That Amnesty)

We’ve entered the post-Labor Day season, during which, by tradition, many voters will begin taking our presidential race seriously.

Meanwhile, many of us have already been paying attention, and we like what we see far less than usual. We’re doing things like leaving our political parties and wondering if our deluded country isn’t worth our political exertions any more.

It’s time for me to make an announcement.

My friends, I am neither God nor the government, so I don’t expect you to think this is earthshaking, but . . .

I hereby grant you amnesty.

Perhaps I should explain.

To Whom and for What?

Yes, amnesty.

To all of you.

No, not for everything you may have done lately. For example, some of you primary voters got us a choice between Trump and Clinton. I’m not presently offering amnesty for that.

Today’s amnesty is mostly preemptive. It’s for your vote or lack thereof in the presidential race this November — and for any reasons, opinions, or gut feelings you may have or offer in support of that vote (or nonvote).

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.

Learn Before You Vote: afelection.info

Folks, if you’re in American Fork, you’ll want to check out afelection.info for information about candidates and issues in next week’s municipal election. We keep adding more, so keep going back. You’ll find infographics, audio and notes from meet-the-candidate events, explanations of some of the popular misinformation coming from AFCitizens (again) and their pet candidate (but less, as he learns that their numbers are often bad).

This weekend will also bring the 2015 edition of David’s Handy Little Election Guide. Stay tuned.

American Fork: 4 Candidates, 3 Seats, 2 Public Events, 1 Friendly Request

Election Day is two weeks away, early voting starts today, and this is my first blog post about the American Fork City Council election. Granted, there was no primary, but I’ve still been slow doing my homework this year.

This post is informational (except, arguably, for the “1 Friendly Request” at the end). I’ll post some event notes, commentary, and recommendations after this week’s candidate events.

4 Candidates, 3 Seats

We’ll be choosing three candidates to serve four-year terms on the American Fork City Council. Each voter may vote for up to three on the ballot, and the three with the highest vote counts win. There is no districting in this race; all candidates run citywide.

There is no substitute, in terms of conscientious voting, for personal contact with local candidates. Here are the candidates, with the contact information I have for each. (If I’m missing something, please let me know, and I’ll add it ASAP.) They’re in alphabetical order by last name, not necessarily in the order of my preference.

Why I’m Walking Tomorrow

[Slightly revised after first posting. I do that.]

A couple of weeks ago, student-leaders at American Fork High School latched onto the idea of honoring Sergeant Cory Wride on the first anniversary of his death. That anniversary is tomorrow, Friday, January 30, 2015.

They immediately began to think big.

I helped last year with some press releases and a smaller, more permanent piece of writing, when American Fork City undertook to honor and remember Sgt. Wride. So I suppose it made sense to invite me to help with this too. Soon I was meeting with student-leaders, other adult volunteers, and City officials whose assistance is essential, even though the Wride Memorial Walk is not a City-sponsored event.

Before we were done — and we’re not quite done — there was a web site (wridewalk.com); a six-minute, professionally-produced video about the people and the event; two hash tags (#wridewalk and, for tomorrow night, #irangthebell); a Facebook event; a videotaped statement of support from the President Pro Tem of the United States Senate (with more endorsements still on the way, we think); numerous inquiries and expressions of support from other schools around the state; and growing buzz about the event on social media. I don’t deserve credit for most of that; these students and the other adults who are helping are amazing. And this isn’t about credit anyway.

What you and I are doing here — and thanks for being here, as in reading — is noting the reasons why I’m attending the Wride Memorial Walk tomorrow evening, and the reasons why I should attend. I leave it to you to ponder the reasons why you should join the Walk, whatever they may be.

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:

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.