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Showing posts from 2014

On Mistakes Made

Twenty minutes can make a pretty big difference. The problem is that you don't always know how bad your decisions are until you experience their consequences.

Such principles were presented to me in stark relief at the beginning of this summer when I was scouting out a location for our annual wilderness survival camp out.

I had recently learned that there was a canyon nearby that wasn't super-high in elevation and had access to water. It was on BLM land. Score.

I didn't have to be to work until 11am, so I decided I'd wake up early, drive to the canyon and check it out. I arrived at 7am to a dirt road inside the canyon that led to the spot I'd located on Google Maps. I was in my Expedition, so the road wasn't a problem until I reached this rocky section that looked like someone had scraped all the dirt part of the road off. I'd seen this at scout camps where rocks filled in gaps in the trail. Very bumpy, but manageable.  It took about 30 seconds to cross.

Af…

I don't know you from Adam OR How to Tie Yourself Back to Adam in 150 Easy Steps

Last Sunday, I was working on my genealogy on familysearch.org, a free site provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for doing pretty extensive family history. While looking for information about a Thomas Neal, I found an individual who had done a bunch of work on his family including is tie into the Garland family, which tied in through Thomas's wife.

So, while I was pondering what to do about Thomas Neal (who's parents I still haven't found), I clicked up the Garland line. It was pretty cool because it went really far back; it's always fun to see that there were real people who you are really related to back in the 14th century or what not.
As I worked my way back through the tree, I noticed it dead-ended at Sir Thomas Morieux, who, according to the chart, was the maternal grandfather-in-law of Humphy Garland (b. 1376).  The name sounded pretty official, so I thought I'd Google him. I learned from Wikipedia that Sir Thomas Morieux married Blanc…

Useful Truth

This morning our stake got a new stake president.  In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, local congregations are presided by a lay minister (not professionally trained, unpaid) called a bishop and several congregations are presided by a lay leader called a stake president.  IMHO, lay leadership is one of the amazing parts of the LDS faith, and it is always cool to be part of a transition that happens in each stake about every 10 years.
Our now-released stake president, President Nielsen, was a man that I came to look up to over the years.  He was a staff in a changing landscape that I could always look to for a reference.  Specifically, my appreciation for him grew when I received a personal email from him about a month ago.

Back in August 2012, I sent the stake presidency an email with a question:
Dear Presidents -I've been pondering a question for a long time, but haven't come up with a good answer.  Elder Jensen recently said that more people are leaving the C…

Greg Hawkins - County Auditor

No meetings

Greg Hawkins and I never met.  I went to four county-level meet-the-candidates meetings, and he did not attend any of them.  I suppose that he felt, being an incumbent, that it was unnecessary.  Unfortunately, this meant that I have yet to be able to discuss issues with him in person.

I will try and meet with him at convention this morning.

More detail soon, but I've got to run!

Mel Nimer - Candidate for County Council at Large

First Meeting, 25 March 2014

My first meeting with Mel lasted about 2 minutes and unfortunately contained very little information about what he would do as a county council member.  Essentially I had time enough to hear him state that he is currently an accountant and as such would bring additional fiscal discipline to the table.

Second Meeting, 31 March 2014

After listening to several very predictable speeches from other candidates, Mel was a surprise.  He is a very amiable fellow and an engaging public speaker.  He is very approachable.  These traits alone place him higher on my list.

He stated that his first item of business was to clean up the budget by prioritizing

He also said that he asks three questions when deciding whether or not he will give his vote for adding an item to the budget:  Can we afford it? Do we need it? Should the county be providing it?  He stated that if he gets a "no" on any one of those items, then he is not for adding it to the budget.

On those gr…

Scott Tingley - County Auditor

First Meeting - 31 March 2014

Actually, my very first encounter with Scott Tingley was to read a brief fire fight between him and his opponent, Greg Hawkins.

Mr. Hawkins first sent an email to county delegates with the somewhat cryptic subject of "Unfortunate Intrigue".  I had Mr. Hawkins as a high school teacher many (not so many...) years ago, and I recognized this as just part of his personality.  Its contents, however, disappointed me as it contained a tired and worn out political strategy that claims Mr. Hawkins opponent is not a genuine Republican and is running only to make it easier for the Democratic candidate to get elected.  His justification was that he learned that Mr. Tingley had registered as a Republican for the first time in order to run for this race and was previously a Democrat.

Mr. Tingley replied also with an email to county delegates.  He first stated that he was not a career politician like Mr. Hawkins who has "run for political office over and o…

Micah Bruner - County Council At Large "A"

First Meeting - 31 March 2014

Micah Bruner's background is as an attorney, he currently serves as general counsel for a local small business.

In the few minutes that I had to talk with Mr. Bruner, he spoke on a handful of items:

First, he talked about the county council's approval of improvements made to the South Towne Expo Center.  There was $500,000 worth of signage improvements approved to convert an existing sign into a digital sign and also add a new sign on another corner of the property.  Mr. Bruner stated first that he believes the county government shouldn't be in the business of owning and maintaining an expo center.  Regarding signage, he disagreed that a digital sign was necessary to attract more patrons since the conferences that the Expo Center hosts are niche enough to not require it.  He said something to the effect of "Those who were going to attend the Gem Faire already all knew about it." He stated that he would liquidate the center given an o…

Brett Helsten - County Council At Large "A"

First Meeting - 31 March 2014

Brett Helsten is a distribution manager for a welding supply company.  He lives in Kearns and currently serves on the Kearns community council.

Unfortunately, I had the least amount of time with Brett, but I did have a chance to talk about a few items.

He is a strong advocate of revive volunteerism at the county level.  He states that today the county spends money on hiring service providers where volunteers could do the job just as well.  Specifically, he mentioned the aging and elder care services that the county provides.  He didn't offer a lot of detail on the viability of getting a reliable stream of volunteers for any service, but simply stated that the county isn't trying that route at all in the first place.

In this regard, he reminds me of Jake Parkinson who wants to "go back" to more old-fashioned ways.  Maybe it will work, maybe it won't.  I failed to ask him what kind of success he has had in rounding up volunteers at th…

Jake Parkinson - Candidate for the Salt Lake County Assessor

First Meeting, 25 March 2014

Jake Parkinson is currently serving as the Appraisal Supervisor in Tooele County.  He has worked as an appraiser in public and private positions for about the last 10 years.  You can read more about his background on his website.

Mr. Parkinson's general position seems to be that the existing management structure in the Salt Lake County Assessor office has been around for too long (he cites that it has been in place for 18 years) and that this longevity is stifling change.

He, like Mr. Jacobs, cites that appraisals in new growth areas in Salt Lake County are currently of inconsistent quality.  While Mr. Jacobs feels that appraisers with regional expertise will fix the problem, Mr. Parkinson feels that revising the statistical model used to appraise homes is a better approach.  At the risk of oversimplifying, Mr. Parkinson believes that more trust in data will fix the appraisal issue while Mr. Jacobs believes that less trust in data will fix it.

Mr. Park…

Kevin Jacobs - Candidate for Salt Lake County Assessor

First Meeting, 25 March 2014

Kevin Jacobs and Jake Parkinson are both vying to be the Republican candidate for Salt Lake County Assessor.  A few months ago (September if my memory serves), the former county assessor, Lee Gardner resigned.  There were four names that were being considered and both Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Parkinson were on the short list.  Mr. Jacobs was appointed by the Republican party and has been serving there for the last 6-7 months.

Lee Gardner served in that position for 19 years preceding his resignation; Mr. Jacobs worked in the assessor's office during that entire time (23 years total).

I only had a few minutes to talk with Mr. Jacobs, and I'm planning on going to a second meet-the-candidates so that I can get more time with him.  However, here is what I was able to learn in those few minutes:

Mr. Jacobs believes he is the better pick due to his experience in the office.  Having worked in the largest county for the last 23 years including 7 months in the po…

Wanda Amann - Candidate for Salt Lake County Clerk

First Meeting, 25 March 2014

I met Wanda Amann at the same time as Steve Nelson and Jake Petersen.

I don't have a lot to say except that I am disappointed that this is the best the Republican party could come up with to challenge Sherrie Swensen.

Wanda is very new to politics and as far as I can tell worked very hard on the Romney campaign.  Other than that, she hasn't worked in the County Clerk's office or any other government position that would help her to understand what the job would entail.

She gave a short pitch about herself as a candidate which amounted to her stating that she was a Republican several times over and that she would bring innovation to an office that hasn't seen a change in over 20 years.  She (perhaps inaccurately) came off as reasoning that she deserved the position because she was not a democrat.

She half-heartedly mentioned that she felt there needed to be more automation in voting, but failed to describe what that meant.

Delegates at the …

Jake Petersen - Candidate for Salt Lake County Sheriff

First Meeting, 25 March 2014

I met Jake Petersen at the same meeting that I met Steve Nelson.  They both strongly endorse one another, and honestly, Steve's endorsement of Jake is what keeps my ears open.  I was very impressed with Steve, but I remain unsure about Jake.

For the most part, Jake comes off as a bit naive and idealistic.  Throughout the evening, he fell back onto stories of his childhood regarding hard work, e.g. his mother making him dig trenches, to outline his principals of small government, a more personalized police force, and more efficient use of funds.

There wasn't much discussion of what Jim Winder is doing "wrong" or what Jake could do better.  The only comparisons were offered by the delegates and they were all ad hominem in nature.

Mr. Petersen did express some ideas that I'd like to hear him elaborate on somewhere down the road.  The first he mentioned was that public in-person contact between officers and citizens needs to be increased.…

Steve Nelson - Candidate for Salt Lake County District Attorney

I've pondered how I'm going to organize all this information, and I've decided to have a post for each person that I meet.  Whenever I get more information about each person, I'll add it to the end of the corresponding post with the date attached.

First Meeting, 25 March 2014

I regret to say that my very first impression of Steve was that his picture looked a little "aristocratic".  When I went to the meeting, I thought I'd be hearing from someone that had a high opinion of himself, etc.

Boy, was I surprised.  Within a few seconds, I realized that I had just met a fervent, well-spoken, thoughtful, hard-working servant of the people.  He is currently employed by the SLC District Attorney's Office as the Unit Chief of Violent Felonies, having worked as a prosecutor overall for 11 years.  He is directly involved in a number of drug-endangered children initiatives and is endorsed by the Federated Brotherhood of Police Officers as well as the SLC Police Ass…

Caucus

Last Thursday, I did my civic duty by attending caucus.

My job, as I perceived it, was to sit with a few dozen politically-far-right citizens and vote for the ones that appeared to be the most open-minded and closest to center.  This has been difficult in past years since caucus typically attracts the most politically convicted among us; however, I hoped to find several atypical attendees due to President Thomas Monson's request that LDS church members attend caucus.

In our area, they announced the starting time as 6pm.  Caucus actually started at 7pm, so those of us who were told the incorrect time had a lot of time to get to know each other.  (By the way, Fort Herriman Middle School's band room is way better than I ever had!)

My first foray into the conversation was a bit of a microcosm for how the night was going to go for me.  The current Precinct Secretary said, "I wonder how the democratic caucus went."  Of course, I can't be sure whether she really wanted …