Friday, June 29, 2007

Paris Hilton Plug with a Local Government Twist

Due to overwhelming public comment on one of my recent Blog Posts I have decided to give a quick Paris Hilton update. (Okay, so maybe it was only one recent anonymous comment, but hey, I take my readers input seriously.)

Anyway, due to this input I have decided that a Ms. Hilton update is not only timely, but relevant to local government. So, in order to stay true to this Blog's topic (Local Government), and because I am a municipal government "hack" I will try to draw the inextricable link between the recent escapades of Ms. Hilton and role local government has played in this public love affair with "America's Heiress"

A chronicle of Paris Hilton's Recent Events:

Sept. 7: Officers arrest Paris Hilton in Hollywood for investigation of driving under the influence after she was spotted "driving erratically." -- DUI Enforcement -- Local Government Making our Streets Safer -- Hooray!!

Sept. 26: Hilton is charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence. -- Book Her!!! -- Local Government Justice Court Hard at Work.

Jan. 15: Hilton is pulled over by California Highway Patrol and informed that her license is suspended. She signs a document acknowledging she is not to drive. -- Okay so CHIPS gets her this time, but usually it is a local government Peace Officer -- anyway again we are keeping our streets safe -- whew!!!

Jan. 22: Hilton pleads no contest to a reduced charge of alcohol-related reckless driving. She is placed on three years probation, ordered to enroll in alcohol education and pay $1,500 in fines. -- Back in Court, These justice courts sure are hard at work.

Feb. 27: Hilton is ticketed for misdemeanor driving with a suspended license. A copy of the document signed Jan. 15 is found in her glove compartment. -- Whoops --Probation violation, look at local law enforcement keeping their eye on these criminals.

March 29: The city attorney's office says it will ask a judge to revoke Hilton's probation. -- The long arm of the law belongs to local government again, boy are we getting our money's worth from our local government taxes -- keep it up guys!!

May 3: Prosecutors recommend Hilton serve 45 days in jail for a probation violation. -- The Justice Court AGAIN.

May 16: Sheriff's officials say Hilton will serve 23 days in a special unit away from the general population. -- So we went light on the sentencing, but hey the jails are just plumb-full with hardened criminals. Hey, did I mention the jails are also run by local government..

June 3: Hilton reports to the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood after attending the MTV Movie Awards and saying she's ready to serve her sentence. -- In the "Clinker" for Ms. Hilton. I guess local government will house, feed, and provide all the amenities a heiress needs for the next 23 days.

June 7: Hilton is released from jail because of an undisclosed medical problem and is ordered serve the rest of her sentence in home confinement. Judge Sauer later orders Hilton to appear in his courtroom to determine whether she should return to jail. -- Wouldn't you know it, local government now we have to pay for medical examinations too.

June 8: Hilton appears in Los Angeles County Superior Court, where she is sent back to jail. -- Looks like the double whammy for local government this time; both the local government justice court and jailhouse are reengaged.

June 26: Hilton is released from jail. -- Looks like this long "love affair" with local government services is over for Ms. Hilton, but hey we always have Lindsey Lohan to pick up where Paris left off.

Well, I think after this chronicle of events it is clear that the real star here is the local government with the outstanding services they provide. We often say that not a day goes by that you are not helped by your local government, and I think if one thing has come from Paris' recent drama is a greater appreciation for the role of local government. Thanks Paris -- The Utah League of Cities and Towns appreciates your attempts to help with our Local Government Public Awareness Campaign.



Friday, June 22, 2007

June Utah Legislative Interim Update

It was another busy interim day for Utah’s 242 cities and towns, with several legislative concepts being discussed in the various committees. Let’s first begin with the Political Subdivisions committee.

While the original agenda for the Political Subdivisions committee appeared more daunting than it actually proved to be, the committee did still spend a good portion of their time discussing the difficult issue of eminent domain. The issue at hand was whether or not governing entities should have to pay above the appraised value of property to offset the potential emotional and non-pecuniary tie to a condemned parcel of property. As was pointed out by both the Utah DOT and representatives from the Utah League of Cities, the major issue is and will always be what constitutes “fair and just” compensation. In essence saying the “appraised” value that is assigned to a given parcel of property will always be in questions during condemnation proceedings, and by adding an additional amount above appraised value, we will do nothing to address disagreements that are inevitably associated with underlying appraisal. By the end of the long discussion, the committee appeared to understand the issue well and took no further action on the issue. Even though this concept may be well understood we still expect additional scrutiny of its use in the coming months because of the inherent emotion that surrounds the use of condemnation authority.

In addition to the eminent domain issue, the legislature also spent time discussing local government transportation funding. The Transportation Committee requested a review of the local government B&C road funding allocation, and invited the Utah League of Cities and Towns and Association of Counties to address any concerns that may exist with the current formula. There was general consensus that the current formula lacks any scientific basis, but both the Counties and Cities agreed that there is not much appetite to change the current formula because of the possibility of creating categories of “winners” and “losers” with any proposed modification.

Both groups agreed that additional funding will be an imperative component of any change and encourage the legislature to reexamine the state/local split of funds to ensure that we are not creating a separate and distinct state system apart from the local system.

The committee expressed interest in continuing the dialog and looking at both the state and local transportation funding paradigms.

Lastly, Lieutenant Governor Herbert and representatives from the ULCT and Counties visited the caucus lunches to explain the election procedures that have been discussed in previous BLOG posts. All of the legislative caucus felt comfortable with the election administration model, and encouraged the counties and cities to work closely together to ensure a successful November election. In addition, all caucuses expressed a willingness to cover a large portion of the election costs ($2.3 million), which was being requested by the Lt. Governor, ULCT and Association of Counties.

That about did it for this interim. As things continue to progress we will be sure to provide additional updates.

Until next time …. Enjoy

Thursday, June 07, 2007

2007 Election Administration Update

On Wednesday, June 6, 2007, the Utah League of Cities and Towns participated in an additional meeting with the counties and Lieutenant Governor regarding the upcoming municipal election and the addition of the school voucher referendum issue to the statewide ballot in November.
This meeting served as a follow-up to a similar meeting held two weeks ago, and while the last meeting was spent going over the issue of election finances, this meeting focused primarily on the administration of the upcoming elections.

So, here is the “scoop” on what Utah cities and towns can expect for the 2007 municipal primary (September 11, 2007) AND general election (November 6, 2007):

• It is anticipated that the total cost of administering the GENERAL election will be approximately $3.665 Million.

• Preliminary discussion intimate that the state will pick up approximately $2.3 Million and local government (cities, counties, SSD) will pick up the remaining $1.3 Million.

• It was again made clear that the cities and towns will ONLY be held responsible for the anticipated costs that had already been included in the municipal budgets to conduct MUNICIPAL elections. Based on a recent survey of municipal budget outlays for the upcoming election, it appears that cities and towns have more than adequately budgeted for the $1.3 Million in outstanding costs that must be picked up by local government. (We now have survey results in for 140 of the 242 cities and already have general election budget figures of $1.26 Million allocated that will be used toward the $1.3 Million requested of local government)

• An executive directive will be issued by the Lieutenant Governor that will direct that counties administer ALL November 6, 2007 elections to include the early voting requirements, absentee ballots, and Help America Vote Act requirements. In order to comply with Help America Vote Act, the counties are required to utilize the DRE electronic voting equipment.

• The Lieutenant Governor will contract with the counties to provide technical support from Diebold Election Systems Inc. to assist in elections administration, and will provide the state allocated funds to the counties to offset some of the election costs.

• Cities/Towns will only be solely responsible for the municipal PRIMARY elections. The cities/towns will also be responsible for declarations of candidacy, municipal election financial disclosures, Board of Canvassers (municipal races) and will contribute the municipal BUDGETED costs associated with the GENERAL election to the county/state to help underwrite the election costs. Any additional costs other than those which were budgeted will be picked up by the state appropriation that was discussed earlier.


• Counties will be responsible for general election absentee ballots, early voting, Election Day ballot programming, and general election day “rovers”. The counties will serve as the Board of Canvassers for the statewide referendum and will pay any costs not covered by cities/towns, special districts, and state contributions.

• The State will be responsible for the voter information pamphlet, statewide technical support, voter rights posters/stickers and will put up state funds for the election.

It will be imperative that all cities and towns begin working closely with the counties to ensure that the elections run smoothly. We would certainly encourage such coordination to begin sooner than later. The details that are not covered in this synopsis are essentially left up to the counties and cities. Coordination on polling locations, possible contracting to run municipal primaries, precinct consolidation and other such details are sure to come up. Both the legislature and the Lt. Governor will likely defer on such issues and assume that the counties and respective cities will “work it out”.

Until Next Time...Enjoy