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.”

I Almost Forgot the Proposed Amendments

For Utah voters, there are three proposed amendments to the state constitution on the ballot this election. I realized this a few days ago, having already published my quirky, opinionated voter’s guide.

Here is a brief account of all three, with some of my thoughts appended. For more information, see the Utah Voter Information Pamphlet for this election and this piece from the Deseret News.

Constitutional Amendment A: Qualifications of State Tax Commission Members

The Utah State Tax Commission is essentially a panel of administrative judges who hear appeals on tax matters. They also issue administrative rules related to Utah tax laws. Currently, the Utah Constitution provides that no more than two of the four commissioners may be of the same political party. Amendment A proposes to remove that limitation and to authorize the Utah Legislature to determine other qualifications for the positions.

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.