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Utah Governor 'Honored' With Blackhole Award 161

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 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.

    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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @03:24PM (#35495216)

    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's the LEGISLATURE leadership that needs the award!

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

    by dogmatixpsych ( 786818 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @03:34PM (#35495330) 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.
  • 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.

  • 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: []

    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: []

    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.


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