U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop has a searing sense of humor to complement his ultra- conservative reputation, and whether you like him or not, he knows how to ask the right question: “Why would anyone want their name attached to that thing?” By “thing,” Bishop means the glassy new federal courthouse, an ode to geometric mundanity. Well, the answer is admirers of George Sutherland, a conservative who sat on the U.S. Supreme Court until 1938; and fans of Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has long dreamed of a high-court appointment. Hatch would have to wait until he retires from the Senate for his name to be attached, but he wouldn’t have to be dead. What is it about naming, anyway? The Capitol Theatre will soon be the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre for more than $4 million.
Speaking of Sutherland, the institute named after him wants to change the way state school-board members are elected. Sutherland has the right idea, but the wrong direction. Currently, a nominating committee sends three names to the governor, who appoints members. Sutherland thinks partisan elections would be more transparent and accountable. While that may be true, education should be a subject that distances itself from politics. Yes, personal philosophies always come into play, but adding a partisan overlay to elections would only serve to increase the expense and the polarization of electioneering. The process has been changed multiple times since 1992, moving closer to gubernatorial control. The idea was that the public doesn’t know squat about education candidates. But good sense isn’t a criterion for voting, and party politics certainly won’t change that.
As if it weren’t hard enough already to run a ballot initiative in Utah, now the Republican Party wants to confuse the matter, just to make sure voters have no freaking idea what the issue is. Simply put, it’s about whether Utah should trash the caucus/mass-meeting system in favor of some kind of party primary. The GOP doesn’t like the idea because the present system allows a small number of conservative fanatics to vet the candidates. Some mainstream Republicans are moving ahead with a Count My Vote initiative to get the question on the 2014 ballot. But state GOP chair James Evans has the go-ahead now to run a My Vote Counts initiative to “educate” citizens about the wisdom of the caucus system. Right. It’s more about leading cattle into muddy waters.