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Utah Governor 'Honored' With Blackhole Award 161

Posted by samzenpus
from the prize-nobody-wants dept.
The national Society of Professional Journalists plans to 'honor' Utah's Gov. Gary Herbert with the first-ever Black Hole award for a restrictive new open records law. From the article: "David Cuillier, SPJ's Freedom of Information Committee chief and a journalism professor at the University of Arizona, said he'll try to present the award to Herbert on Wednesday. The award, Cuillier said, is part of Sunshine Week, an annual initiative begun in 2002 to promote greater transparency in government. Nominations were gathered from around the country, but Cuillier said 'there was no question' the award should go to Herbert as the chief executive of the state."
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Utah Governor 'Honored' With Blackhole Award

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  • by fishybell (516991) <fishybell.hotmail@com> on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @03:12PM (#35495100) Homepage Journal
    As a resident of Utah I can't help but notice that national news always seems to revolve around polygamists and bass-ackwards politics. Woo Utah!
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)
      Take out polygamists and that describes most states.

      Alaska: Palin, bridge to nowhere, and the internet described as a bunch of tubes. And it's ass-cold.
      Arizona: bass-ackwards, racist politics
      California I guess you have a little more, like mudslides, fires, and crime, but most news seems to be "Out of money" or "Pot smokers vote against legalizing pot."
      Delaware: ... I can't recall any national news from Delaware.
      Florida: just refused an assload of money. I guess they have more money than they can u
      • by Bucc5062 (856482)

        Seriously, you forget Christine O'Donnell? The Party hearty wiccan from New Castle County that put the republican party of DE under a spell and had them vote out a moderate candidate for her?

        There was the President allowing the media to document the unloading of KIA soldiers at Dover AFB, big stink when they couldn't do it, now not even a glance...such honor the news gives...

        Then there is Joseph Biden himself, the ex senator, now VP of the US of A who's humble comments proceed him...

        (ex Delawarean)

        • I did indeed successfully forget O'Donnell, and the country has successfully forgotten that there's that there's still a war with casualties. But I apologize. For those two things. Not for Biden though: he's not so much "Delaware politics" as he is "National political distraction."
          • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            I did indeed successfully forget O'Donnell

            I understand Christine O'Donnell is planning to run for president, this time under the name "Newt Gingrich".

        • by Locke2005 (849178)
          You need to remind people by using her full name: Chistine "I'm not a witch!" O'Donnell. ("And I'll put a curse on anyone who says I am!")
      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        California: home to more extremists on both the right and the left, and very few moderates. I guess that's balance, of a sort. But the old adage comparing California to granola still remains true: take away the fruits and the nuts, and all that's left is the flakes!
      • by Coren22 (1625475)

        Turns out that the "bridge to nowhere" is actually a bridge being built to an airport that is on an island. There is no population there as people don't tend to live at the airport...at least not by choice. The fact that this made national news without the supporting facts on the bridge shows the smear campaign for what it was.

        • But you admit it was messed up local politics, if not in the building of it, in the using it as a smear campaign. And, lets be honest, that's how most people know it.
        • by t2t10 (1909766)

          So what if it went to "an airport"? The airport is served--and served well--by a ferry.

          No, this wasn't a national "smear campaign", this was corruption in politics; it was an attempt by local developers to enrich themselves at the tax payer's expense. If the airport traffic and development of the island actually had justified building a bridge, then the bridge could have been paid for privately. That's something any red-blooded, free-market Republican should understand.

          • by Coren22 (1625475)

            I wouldn't know what a Republican would understand, as I am more Libritarian leaning. But in general, people don't finance bridges of this magnatude. Frankly, looking at the Google maps of the area, I can't see why they couldn't just build a normal bridge, the bridge that was proposed was enormous, and way too much for the need. Essentially, between the town and the airport is a river, just have the bridge on one side of the town, and push the huge ships to the other side of the island, or the other side

      • by Slur (61510)

        It's called "conventional wisdom" and it allows the media to readily program any person who identifies with a group. In other words, ~90% of our zombie populace.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        Florida: just refused an assload of money.

        They believe high-speed trains and a black man in the White House are signs of the fulfillment of Revelations.

        I guess the Antichrist had planned to arrive via a supertrain. Or something.

        But they won't have to worry about that now, because they've made damn sure nobody's going to make them get their teeth fixed and the government's going to keep its hands off their God-given Medicare.

    • by Gohtar (1829140)
      As a resident of Utah also, I noticed we have appeared on Slashdot more than normal the past 2 - 3 weeks. Herbert deserves this award.
    • You forgot about the LDS (Mormon) church.

      As a former resident of Utah, I've lost count of how many Mormon jokes I've had to hear out here whenever folks ask me where I moved here from (in spite of the fact that I'm not Mormon). Kinda gets old sometimes... :/

      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        "He's harmless! Back in the sixties he was part of the Free Speech movement at Berkeley. I think he did a little too much LDS."
    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Since you are a resident, I can't help but blame you for helping to elect these Neanderthals into office...
    • "As a resident of Utah I can't help but notice that national news always seems to revolve around polygamists and bass-ackwards politics. Woo Utah!"

      After reading comments following this...

      "As a resident of Utah I can't help but notice that Slashdot news always seems to revolve around polygamists and bass-ackwards politics. Woo Utah!"

      Fixed THAT for ya!

  • most restrictive government official/entity in the whole world regarding information openness?

    Not the people reportedly torturing PFC Manning prior to trial? Or angling to extradite Julian Assange? Or any of the Arab dictators?

  • by dogmatixpsych (786818) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @03:17PM (#35495146) Homepage Journal
    I have yet to meet someone in Utah (other than politicians) who likes this law that was passed. Utah politics gets a lot of things right (IMO) but this was not one of them. This bill will not last long as passed. It should not have been passed but it will be changed or removed later.
    • Do the citizens of Utah have the ability to repeal bad laws via ballot initiative?
      • Re:Bad Bill (Score:4, Informative)

        by dogmatixpsych (786818) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @03:34PM (#35495330) Homepage Journal
        Yes. It's already in the works as are court challenges and a lot of contact of representatives. Why this even passed baffles me but politicians do inexplicable things all the time.
        • I don't agree with the law but from what I understand the main issue was the cost of storing all the data and accessing it. The governor signed the bill to deal with the cost cutting but then promised a few months of public hearings before June in order to modify it. But the way it has been defended is as a budget issue. I admit I'm skeptical but then I'm surprised it got so much support which makes me think there was a lot of hassle to the prior bill but that politicians hadn't thought through this bill
          • Re:Bad Bill (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Sponge Bath (413667) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @04:27PM (#35495986)

            "...the main issue was the cost of storing all the data and accessing it"

            Funny, politicians never consider that when imposing (usually surveillance related) requirements on private business.

            • by retchdog (1319261)

              are you sure, or do you just disagree with their conclusion about the cost-benefit analysis?

          • by BergZ (1680594)
            Why can't one of the cost cutting measures (since we're all so worried about pinching pennies) be ending the war on drugs?
            • by Cwix (1671282)

              Because the politicians are paid well by the pharmaceutical companies, and the private prison industries to keep it illegal.

              The budget works like this, if you send money (aka bribe) to a politician then they protect all the budget items that are good for you. The problem is all the big players have paid their protection monies to the government, the only place to cut is from the little man. The government is actively trying to cut the little people out of the budget, why not they havn't paid their bribe.

              E

      • Re:Bad Bill (Score:4, Informative)

        by dweller_below (136040) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @05:47PM (#35497088)

        In theory, the citizens of Utah could repeal this bad law via ballot initiative. Here is a good summary of the current law concerning Utah Ballot initiatives: http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Laws_governing_the_initiative_process_in_Utah [ballotpedia.org]

        In practice, we haven't seen a ballot initiative in years. In the last decade, we have seen a constant stream of state legislation tightening the restrictions on ballot initiatives.

        I believe that the Utah legislature is attempting to avoid a repeat of the 2000 Civil Forfeiture Initiative. In 2000, Utah voters voted overwhelmingly for a initiative that placed common-sense limits on Civil Forfeiture. The most important reform required that income from seized assets be delivered to the School funds. It took the Legislature 4 years to repeal it and return Utah to the business of Policing for Profit: http://www.instituteforjustice.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3289&Itemid=165 [instituteforjustice.org]

        In recent years, attempts to achieve ethics reform by Utah ballot initiative have been blocked by the many hurtles imposed by current law. They include:
        1) You have to get more signatures than 10% of the vote cast for Governor IN 26 of the 29 counties. Miss that total in one county, and you are blocked.
        2) You have 1 year to collect signatures. If your 10% in 26 counties is not certified by the end of the year, you have to start over.
        3) You are blocked if the Lieutenant Governor thinks your initiative is patently unconstitutional; nonsensical; or if he determines that the Initiative contains more than one subject.

        So, years since we have seen a ballot initiative. Don't expect to see another one in my lifetime.

        Miles

    • Yes but it's blatantly obvious that the citizens of Utah don't know what's good for them, and they're protesting a necessary initiative to take some load off the government and put sane policies in place.

      That the government is doing something only it favors doens't indicate that it shouldn't be doing something. What it indicates is that something is wrong and needs to be fixed. The fact that the people don't agree with it doesn't necessarily indicate that they know what's good for them; however, it doe

      • Most of the protests are over the fact that the bill was introduced, passed, and signed within a few days before anyone else really was able to read it. Plus, you add on top of that the fact that the bill looks like a "secrecy bill" and it's a recipe for people protesting what looks like the heavy hand of government trying to hide its actions. You don't, as the governor said, pass a bill then sort it out. Sort it out first, then pass it, then tweak it as needed. Give time for people to engage in dialogue. I
  • the current law was written 20 years ago when such informal modes of communication as text messaging and e-mail were not widely used.

    Did people just meet in person instead? A quick 'phone call? The first problem with recording official communication is that anything devious is communicated off the record.

  • by deweyhewson (1323623) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @03:18PM (#35495162)

    It is worth noting here that one Republican legislator in Utah has come out so far and talked about being blackmailed by the leadership in the Legislature to vote for the bill without even considering or debating it.

    http://www.ksl.com/?nid=960&sid=14729423&s_cid=rss-960

    The Utah Legislature is representative in name only, and have barely attempted to make any secret of their disdain and disregard for the Utahn people for years. Why do they keep getting elected then? That's the power of the (R) in this state.

    The more national shame they receive, the better.

    • by Bucc5062 (856482)

      I am not buying this line of bull:

      “I think it was too much one-party control in our state,” Powell answered.

      “That's the way the Legislature runs,” he added, when asked to clarify. “It's terrible. It's an atrocious law,” he continued without prodding.

      “It's the worst thing I've ever seen, not just in the time I've served, but in my lifetime in the Utah Legislature, but it's because of the way the party controls the Legislature.”

      “So you voted against it?” Powell was asked.

      “No. I'm a Republican,” he replied.

      So if i understand this convoluted thought process,

      1. The legislature runs via blackmail
      2. He's think bi-partisan politics is better
      3. This was a horrible, bad bill
      4. --- (wtf???)
      5. I voted for it because I'm republican (profit)

      yeah, sure beats doing the right thing up front. So he's on record being against it, even though he voted for it (great for campaign sound bites), he doesn't have to lift a finger to change it because only the leadership can "do something" for

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
      Now hold on, I have received it on good authority, right here on Slashdot, that there is no difference between the two parties. This typically happens when there is a story about (D). Now, the story is about (R), which have been concluded to be uniquely evil? It can't be both, man, make up your mind.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ummm....if you knew the whole story, you would realize the Governor did what he did so that in the end the bill would be defeated....it's the LEGISLATURE leadership that needs the award!

    • He could have just vetoed the bill. But yeah, the way it is being portrayed makes it appear like the governor was behind it when he wasn't and he is trying to get it modified.
      • The legislature had enough votes to overcome the veto. The legislature leadership truly is to blame in this instance.
  • by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @03:27PM (#35495248)
    Why not President Obama? Unlike his Nobel Prize, he's actually done something to deserve this one.

    After promising us the most transparent Administration ever, he's actually (hard as it is to believe) racked up a worse record on FOIA requests than the Bush43 administration, set new records in cracking down on whistleblowers, and (to top it off) actually taken to torturing a political prisoner to fudge up a case against WikiLeaks for doing the exact same thing that the New York Times did [1].

    [1] No, not the whole bit about knowingly publishing Administration lies -- that's totally cool and the fact that Wiki doesn't play that kind of ball may be part of the reason that they're in the Administration black book.

    • by mr1911 (1942298) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @03:44PM (#35495420)
      The only thing different about Obama is that his worshipers bought his load of BS hook, line, and sinker. He is a career politician who will say or do whatever it takes to further himself. Those that believed his "hope and change" story probably send money to Nigerian princes too.
      • by rotide (1015173)

        "The only thing different about Obama is that his worshipers bought his load of BS hook, line, and sinker. He is a career politician who will say or do whatever it takes to further himself."

        News flash, it's the same on the other side of the isle. If you're willing to do what it takes to get elected, you're probably not worth voting for.

        • by overshoot (39700)

          If you're willing to do what it takes to get elected, you're probably not worth voting for.

          And if you're not, you won't be elected.

          Life's a bitch.

    • by vux984 (928602)

      After promising us the most transparent Administration ever, he's actually (hard as it is to believe) racked up a worse record on FOIA requests than the Bush43 administration,

      Yes and No.

      "Obamaâ(TM)s directive, memorialized in written instructions from the Justice Department, appears to have been widely ignored."

      Yes, the foia situation is getting worse. But the real question is why?

      Clearly he's not reviewing all the FOIA requests personally... so who is reviewing them and why are the seemingly clear ins

      • by Scutter (18425)

        I give his administration a failing grade on this too, but I'd like to give Obama himself the benefit of the doubt on this one. I don't think he's the problem. Whereas in the Bush years, both Cheney and Bush were part of the problem.

        LOL WUT

        • by vux984 (928602)

          LOL WUT

          Did I stutter?

          1) Obama personally gave instructions to improve transparency
          2) Obama administration fails at transparency
          3) I'm not convinced Obama is the reason transparency is the problem.

          4) Bush / Cheney administration also failed at transparency.
          5) Bush / Cheney were personally part of that failure, having personally publicly and repeatedly defended the lack of transparency.
          6) I see Bush / Cheney as part of the problem causing lack of transparency.

          What part didn't make sense?

          • by Scutter (18425)

            If he gave specific instructions then why weren't they followed? He's the President of the United States. The buck stops with him. It's his job to take responsibility for the departments under his control. Giving him a pass and saying it's someone else's fault that his personal and specific instructions were completely ignored is disingenuous at best.

            • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @07:45PM (#35498308)

              If he gave specific instructions then why weren't they followed? He's the President of the United States.

              The President is not God-Emperor.

              A CEO typically has far more direct power over their organization.

              The buck stops with him.

              Its great rhetoric, but not much else.

              You can blame one man for all that is wrong in the United States all you like but its absurd on its face.

              The President is a figurehead. He has power, but it pretty limited.

              It's his job to take responsibility for the departments under his control.

              Fair enough. Just exactly how under his control is it exactly? And what exactly would you have him do?

              Giving him a pass and saying it's someone else's fault that his personal and specific instructions were completely ignored is disingenuous at best.

              Its "insincere"? Its "lacking in candor"? Are you sure you know what "disingenous" means?

              That said, I'm not giving him a pass, but I do recognize there is a substantial difference between being ineffective at fixing a problem, and enthusiastically perpetrating a problem.

          • by spxero (782496)

            I think the part that doesn't make sense is that Bush is responsible for the actions of those under him but Obama isn't. Bush never comes out and says "hey, we've got an open thing going on here!" and then continues to stall or deny FOIA requests. He just never says transparent in the first place and you liken that to them being the problem.

            On the flip side of that coin, Obama says "Hey, we're going to make things transparent" and _nothing_ changed. The difference is you think Obama is not responsible for h

            • by vux984 (928602)

              He just never says transparent in the first place and you liken that to them being the problem.

              Bush and especially Cheney both repeatedly spoke out in favor of extending government secrecy. Cheney wouldn't even disclose how many people worked for him, he invented a new classification "treated as secret" for the stuff he wrote that wasn't actually even classified, he personally ordered secret service logs destroyed, and so on... he was about as anti-transparency as it gets.

              If Bush & Cheney were simply si

        • Exactly my thoughts. Logic, logic, logic, then throw all that logic out the window.
      • I give his administration a failing grade on this too, but I'd like to give Obama himself the benefit of the doubt on this one.

        Bradley Manning.

        • by vux984 (928602)

          Bradley Manning.

          is really a separate issue.

          And for the record, I think Obama is wrong on this issue.

          That said, I don't really think Manning would be better off under Bush, McCain, Hilary Clinton, Ron Paul, or whoever was running the Green Party...

    • Not to mention his disgraceful attacks on the internet, the very thing that arguably helped north-African countries overthrow their repressive governments...
    • The right spends so much time going on about how Obama is some kind of super liberal that is totally indistinguishable from a socialist, when in fact he is largely indistinguishable from Bush. Hell, his much-maligned health care bill was almost a note-for-note copy of a Republican health care proposal from the 1990s. He has proved to be exactly the kind of conservative appeaser/collaborator that I expected him to be.
      • by Shotgun (30919)

        And the left spends so much time going on about the right spending so much time going on about how Obama is some kind of super liberal that is totally indistinguishable from a socialist, when in fact they were equally disgusted with Bush43. The right also got fed up with the previous Bush, what with his read-my-lips turncoat and running all over the world to fight other peoples wars. Clinton and Obama were elected in part, because many on the right said, "What the hell is the difference" and stayed home o

  • You idiots! He probably read the slashdot article. Now the surprise is ruined!
  • by slycrel (610300) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @03:43PM (#35495396)

    As a resident of Utah, I've been casually following this Bill. I was very perturbed to find out that it had passed, but I think I understand after hearing the governor's explanation. He gave an interview the day after and said basically that even had he vetoed it it would have passed. So he instead amended it, calling a special session so that there would be time for public debate and changes. I don't know all of the nuts and bolts of the process, but as a casual interested party that was good enough for me. In fact I respect the fact that he told the public why he voted for it and why he amended it -- it was in everyone's best interest (except Utah's congress maybe) for him to do what he did. He was handed a crap sandwitch and he sent it back to the kitchen, even if he's still sitting in the restauraunt that served it. In the end basically it's a law that will be re-voted on before it goes into effect, with public participation and transparency. The fact that the governor is being given this award over those who pushed the bill through in the first place is fairly disgraceful, assuming that it would have gotten through regardless of what he did.

    I'm cautiously optimistic, and I know enough people involved in the political process here in Utah that I expect this won't stand for long even if it goes through in a bad state.

    • by slycrel (610300)

      Interview l heard on the radio to come to these conclusions:
      http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=14661633 [ksl.com]
      (click the "Interview with Gov Herbert" link on the right side of the video pane)

    • Thanks for sharing that. I hadn't heard his reasoning and I admit I was in the group who was criticizing him. His solution does seem like the only reasonable one in light of the legislature's actions. Thanks again for sharing that explanation.
    • by Shotgun (30919)

      Doesn't matter. He's a Republican, right? OFF WITH HIS HEAD!!

  • Well that sucks!

    .
  • As a Utahn, I've followed a lot of Gary Herbert's exploits. The man's a huge piece of shit, to say the least. It was amazing (if not infuriating) watching him get elected despite the fact that he never ever ever gave a straight answer to a question, was publicly proven to be the corrupt pawn of several different industries, and not having a single valid point against the challenging candidate.

    I really wish Huntsman hadn't resigned to become ambassador to China. Even for a Republican he was a good governor.

    • by Shotgun (30919)

      watching him get elected despite:
      - the fact that he never ever ever gave a straight answer to a question,
      - was publicly proven to be the corrupt pawn of several different industries,
      - and not having a single valid point against the challenging candidate

      Do you know what they call candidates that do not follow that game-plan?

      Losers.

  • They teach you that in Utah huh?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoMspJqqVcA [youtube.com]

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