Meet Doris Payne, Grand Larcenist

A Note to—or at Least a Note on, Since It’s Doubtful She’ll Ever See it—a Now-Elderly Woman Who’s Well Practiced in the Arts of Grand Theft and of Self-Justification, Respectively

By Ken K. Gourdin

Doris Payne is an 85-year-old Atlanta resident who made a career out of grand theft as a jewel thief. However, apparently, not only is she not remorseful for her crimes, she had the audacity to wear a (probably-purloined) pair of gaudy earrings to the interview that are probably among the . . . “fruits” . . . of her . . . “labors.”

To be sure, I do have my own flaws. They are legion in number, and many of them are gargantuan in size. Admittedly, I, myself, have engaged in more than my share of self-justification. That said, some of the commentary that Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, provided on the New Testament is interesting. BYU Professor Dan Peterson once commented that the trouble with us 21st-century moderns is that many of us have lost our respect, fear, and reverence for the Divine, coming to think of God, instead, as everyone’s ever-loving, ever-supportive, never-judgmental pal. In a related vein, interestingly, Joseph Smith slightly changed the King James rendering of Matthew 7:1: “Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged.”

I do believe the admonition of Jesus Christ, who invited anyone who was sinless in the crowd that took the woman in adultery to throw the first stone at her (see John 8:7). But the problem isn’t simply that people in the crowd wanted to pass judgment on her; the problem is that none of them could do so righteously. To the extent that I judge Ms. Payne unrighteously, I apologize and repent. The Salt Lake Tribune recently ran a story by Kate Brumback of the Associated Press about Ms. Payne. Even though it bothers me all of the time, I’m glad that, unlike Ms. Payne apparently, I actually grew a conscience. See here, last accessed February 8, 2016: http://www.sltrib.com/home/3482818-155/i-was-a-thief-jewel-pilfering-woman. I commented as follows:

I suppose, given the time in which you came up, Ms. Payne, you and those closest to you have seen (and perhaps have even received) some of the worst treatment of blacks many people in this country have to offer. Certainly, it has taken some time for the United States to live up to the ideal expressed in the Declaration of Independence that all are created equal.

Certainly, the country sometimes seems far from living up to the ideal I allude to above, and many of its individual inhabitants have a long, long, way to go yet before reaching that ideal on a personal level, the level at which which, to quote the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we judge people by the content of their character rather than by any invidious characteristic, such as the color of their skin.

To borrow and slightly alter Robert Frost, we all have miles to go before we sleep. But to deny what progress has been achieved on those fronts is to cheapen the sacrifices of those who worked so hard to move the country in that direction. As someone else once said, We’re not where we could be, we’re not where we should be, we’re not where we ought to be, but thank goodness we’re not where we were.

Perhaps, in your mind, you’re simply evening the scales or leveling the playing field at least a bit in the face of all of that injustice and maltreatment. If so, you ought to have paid more attention to what’s actually in that Bible to which you appealed for protection as a youngster: “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord; I will repay” (see Romans 12:19).

But here’s the thing: If it’s true that countless people have experienced everything you have and worse (and surely it is), why is it that they, unlike you, are not concerned with thoughts of evening the scales or of leveling the playing field—or at least, they’re willing to leave such ultimate justice to One whose perspective on what is just and whose power, ultimately, to achieve justice far outstrips their own?

Even if one accepts your premise that you never took anything someone else didn’t want you to have, Ms. Payne, “He wants me to have it” is different than “He doesn’t care if I pay for it,” just as it does not fall to you to level unjust playing fields or to even unjust scales. And someone has to pay for all of that jewelry you’ve stolen, even if you don’t.

It may not be fair that bona fide purchasers have the resources actually to pay for their wares (even when factoring in a premium for thievery such as yours) and you don’t, but your thievery does nothing to redress that; it simply adds to the problem. As most of us learned as children, two wrongs don’t make a right.

In response to another commenter, who opined that Ms. Payne belongs behind bars, I responded that the only way she’d ever see the inside of a correctional institution—even the comparatively-cushy confines of a “Club Fed”—would be if she happened to tour one.

I wish you luck when you try out all of your excuses for your behavior on your Maker, Ms. Payne. You’re going to need it. (Luckily for you, He’s more merciful than the rest of us.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Hammonds, the Bundys, the Tenth Amendment, and the Oregon Wildlife Refuge Building Occupation

The Hammonds, the Bundy’s the Tenth Amendment, and the Oregon Wildlife Refuge Building Occupation

By Ken K. Gourdin

In no way do I support the actions of the Hammond or Bundy families, who led the effort to protest what they see as unwarranted intrusion onto federal lands by leading the occupation of a federal building on an Oregon wildlife refuge. In response to a question from a friend of mine, who is a member of the Bar in another country, I wrote the following:

None of this should be read as my endorsing the actions of the Hammonds or the Bundys. Perhaps it will simply help to frame the issues or the debate. There will be a wide variety of opinions as to whether any given assertion of federal power is appropriate, and debate over such questions certainly is in no danger of abating any time soon.

The United States Constitution (at least in a historical or ideal sense) creates a dual-sovereignty system, in which some powers are left to the states and others are left to the federal (national) government. This concept largely has fallen into disfavor in recent decades and years, as courts have allowed the federal government to expand its powers in ways never dreamed of by the Constitution’s framers.

The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” The seeming limits imposed on federal power by the Tenth Amendment have, however, faced increasing erosion in recent years, in two ways.

One way the federal government has expanded its powers in recent years is by declaring more and more things “fundamental rights” which are not subject to state control. Perhaps the best recent example of this is with respect to the recent United States Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges, which held that gay marriage, as a fundamental right, is now legal in all 50 states.

Another way in which the federal government recently has expanded its powers is through the Commerce Clause. The Constitution grants the federal government the right to regulate “commerce” among the several states. In recent decades, courts, including the United States Supreme Court, has read this concept extremely broadly, allowing the federal government to impose expansive regulations on conduct, even when that conduct does not involve “commerce” in any of the usual meanings of that word, and even when it occurs entirely within one state.

Those who favor these (and other) expansions in federal power are quick to point out that those who favored the racial discrimination and segregation of blacks in the “Jim Crow” southern U.S. also appealed to the Tenth Amendment as support for maintaining that status quo. While I think there are reasons good and sound for government to, e.g., privilege opposite-sex marriage over its same-sex counterpart, it’s difficult to explain that position without escaping being tarred as someone who engages in, or who favors, allegedly-invidious discrimination.

Personally, while I think there are numerous meaningful differences between appealing to the Tenth Amendment as part of an argument against gay marriage, on the one hand, and appealing to it to maintain racial segregation and discrimination, on the other hand, that’s a challenging case to make: no one wants to be tarred as a racist, as a segregationist, or as someone who opposes gay marriage because he wants to deny rights to gays.

Again, I don’t support the actions of the Hammonds or of the Bundys. Nevertheless, if the Tenth Amendment really has become a dead letter in modern U.S. politics and jurisprudence, let those who favor its repeal “stand up on their hind legs,” as a law professor of mine likes to say, and set in motion the process necessary to repeal it. As long as it’s still on the books, though, it ought to mean something—and that meaning ought to be far weightier than that attributed to it by courts in recent years.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

State of Utah v. Robert Cameron Houston

Should Robert Cameron Houston, Murderer of Raechaele Elton, Ever Walk Free Again? I Don’t Think So

By Ken K. Gourdin

Robert Cameron Houston, as a juvenile, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after he raped and heinously murdered Raechele Elton, a staff member at the facility where he was receiving treatment when she agreed, against her employer’s policy, to give him a ride from that facility to the secure facility where he then was confined. Nor is that the extent of his criminal record, which also includes sexual assualts or attempted sexual assaults on two relatives.

The United States Supreme Court previously barred imposition of the death penalty against juveniles in Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), available at the following address, last accessed January 31, 2015: https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/03-633.ZS.html. Mr. Houston appealed his sentence to the Utah Supreme Court, which upheld it. See State v. Houston, 2015 UT 36, available on line at the following address, last accessed January 31, 2016: http://cases.justia.com/utah/supreme-court/2015-20120683.pdf?ts=1423498586. Mr. Houston has appealed his sentence to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has agreed to hear the case.

Mr. Houston had a brutal, horrific childhood. He was born with a slightly deformed ear and without full hearing, which made it difficult for him to learn to talk. At school, he was ridiculed and bullied by his classmates for these differences. He was abused by his father, and he was raped repeatedly over a period of months by a friend of his brother.

I would never deign to compare Mr. Houston’s experiences to my own: clearly, they are very different, and I had many advantages growing up that he did not. However, we do have certain things in common. He was different from his classmates; so was I. because of those differences, many of his classmates taunted and bullied him; so did many of mine.

Notwithstanding the fact that I have Cerebral Palsy and I have walked with some sort of ambulatory device or devices for most of my life (or with a severe limp without them), I was mainstreamed in school from day one. It proved to be a blessing in the long run because it forced me to engage the world on its terms rather than demanding or expecting that the world engage me on my terms. But it did cost me, both in the short run and in the long run. Just as Mr. Houston was, I was different. Just as Mr. Houston was, I was also taunted and bullied by some of my classmates because of those differences. Just as I suspect is the case with Mr. Houston, I did not emerge unscathed from those experiences.

No one should have to go through what Mr. Houston went through as a child and as a youth. There’s no way I could possibly understand or relate to what he went through. But at some point, we all have to decide whether we’re going to allow the awful things that happen to us to become justifications for victimizing others, or whether we’re going to do the best we can to rise above them. Mr. Houston chose the former course. As unfair as it might be for society to force him to pay for that choice by spending the rest of his life in confinement, it would be even more unfair to his past victims (not to mention his potential future victims) if he ever were to walk free again.

In response to Deseret News coverage of the case, I wrote:

The brief of counsel for petitioner seems to imply that it is, I gather, “cruel and unusual” to hold Mr. Houston accountable for “a decision he made” as a juvenile by imprisoning him for life without parole. Granted, I’d like to read the brief because that particular passage cries out for context, but, “a decision he made”? Have cereal for breakfast that day, wear jeans and a t-shirt, get a tattoo . . . rape and heinously murder Raechale Elton? “A decision he made”? The usual mitigating factors likely to be found in offenses involving young offenders seem conspicuously absent in this case. Mr. Houston’s crimes aren’t simply the youthful indiscretions of someone who is young and stupid. They aren’t even the crimes of someone who is young and hot-headed. Mr. Houston is fortunate to still be alive. Had he been just a couple years older, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I don’t care how old he was at the time he committed his crimes: society needs and deserves to be protected from him permanently.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dispatchers and Police Chiefs Behaving Badly

Observations on Utah Police Chiefs and Dispatchers Behaving Badly

By Ken K. Gourdin

Part I Myton, Utah Chief Wade Butterfield:  Justifiably Harsh Words About an Especially Egregious Violation of the Public Trust

Former Myton, Utah police chief Wade Butterfield was charged with stalking and other offenses for alleged conduct in which he engaged toward several women.  While he was just acquitted in one case, he does face others.  I can’t find a source for it, but at least one local media outlet reported that when one of his victims allegedly woke to find him sitting at the foot of her bed and asked him how he got into her home, he said, “I’m a cop, Holly.  We know how to do these kinds of things.”

In comments on media coverage, I addressed Mr. Butterfield directly:

I’ll leave ultimate earthy proof to a prosecutor, and the decision about whether that prosecutor has met his burden to a jury. That said, if others’ allegations of what you told them are true, such statements, even standing alone, prove that yours, sir, were especially egregious violations of the public trust. Not only should you lose your badge and pension, you should serve significant time in jail. To me, you seem to be the very personification of that old adage about how power corrupts. And if I were the judge in the case, that’s exactly what I would tell you when I imposed such a sentence upon you. (And I would make the sentences for a couple of those misdemeanor charges consecutive rather than concurrent to give you a little extra time to think about what you’ve done.)

Good luck getting a job at Wal-Mart when you get out.

After seeing his photograph, I added, “It just dawned on me: We’re the same age. From the looks of things, your 45 have been a helluva lot harder on you than my 45 have been on me.” And in response to quips about his appearance, I added, “And you guys are being too hard on him with those wisecracks about his hair. Using an animal pelt as a toupee is a lot cheaper than buying the real thing!”

One of the charges he faced was unlawful detention.  His alleged victim was not under arrest and was not being detained pending investigation of any offense.  Butterfield had taken her for a ride in his patrol car, ostensibly to search for her missing vehicle.  She reportedly told him several times she wanted him to let her out, and he did not comply.  

The Utah unlawful detention statute, Utah Code Annotated, Title 76, Chapter 5, § 304, reads in part: “ An actor commits unlawful detention if the actor intentionally or knowingly, without authority of law, and against the will of the victim, detains or restrains the victim under circumstances not constituting a violation of [Utah’s kidnapping, child kidnapping, or aggravated kidnapping statutes, respectively].”

Upon news of his acquittal, I wrote:

It’s been awhile since I’ve read the unlawful detention statute, and I don’t have access to cases construing it, but, to me, it seems that if she says, “Please pull over, I’d like to get out now,” and he doesn’t, that’s a prima facie case that he violated that statute. On those facts, the only way the jurors could acquit him is if they don’t believe her. And if I were [Butterfield’s attorney] Mr. [Earl] Xaiz, there’s no way I would let Mr. Butterfield within ten miles of the stand unless I’m concerned about whether the witnesses against him are credible.

Part II – Monticello Utah Chief Kent Adair and a Dispatcher Laugh About an Incident Involving a Now-Former Monticello Police Sergeant

Monticello, Utah, P.D. Sergeant Cole Young was suspended pending investigation of assault on a man he found in his estranged wife’s home while Young was off-duty. Young was later fired over the incident When Young’s wife reported the incident, the dispatcher—no doubt hoping for grist to feed the small-town community rumor mill—wanted to know who the victim was.

The dispatcher called another Monticello officer, who did no investigation beyond determining that Young’s truck was parked at his residence. Then she called Monticello Police Chief Kent Adair, and they are heard laughing about the incident on dispatch recordings. Chief Adair told the dispatcher to pass the report on to the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office in the morning. In response to news coverage of the incident, I wrote:

So, let me get this straight, Chief Adair: It is a conflict of interest for your agency to investigate the report because one of your officers was involved in the incident, but it’s not a conflict of interest for you to decide to sit on the call overnight before passing it on to the agency responsible for investigating it? And I was a dispatcher only long enough to realize how badly I sucked at it, but everyone, including dispatchers and officers in Hole-in-the-Wall, Nowhere, needs to approach every call as though everyone on earth eventually will be able to listen in on how it was handled because, essentially, that opportunity will be available to anyone who chooses to avail himself of it and who has the resources (i.e., the equipment) necessary to do so.

Update, January 8, 2015: Now comes word that the sheriff has recommended the firing of the dispatcher who had the above-described conversation with the chief, the sheriff’s deputy who confined his “investigation” of this reported incident to verifying the location of the former Monticello officer’s truck has been fired, and the chief has been placed on leave.  See here, last accessed today:

http://www.sltrib.com/news/3395755-155/utah-officer-disciplined-dispatcher-on-leave

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dating Web Site is Utah’s Shame

Idiotic Dating Site Brings Shame on My Home State

By Ken K. Gourdin

Much to my shame, one of my fellow Utahns has started the Web site Wherewhitepeoplemeet.com. (You’ll note that I did not turn the preceeding address into an active link: that’s deliberate). See Salt Lake Tribune coverage of this abomination here, last accessed January 5, 2015: http://www.sltrib.com/home/3366844-155/utah-based-dating-site-provides-a-place.

I responded:

Oh, Phhhhhhh! If someone wants to miss out on meeting some great people by confining his or her dating pool to those only within his or her own race, too bad! I’ve dated Filipina, Latina, Black, White, Brown … Not to mention girls of every size and shape. There’s only one reason I might trade my experiences for those of someone else, and that’s that I haven’t yet met Ms. Right. I’m sure the people who use this … Ahem! … service … will get exactly what they deserve!

In response, someone compared me to some fool Lothario who allegedly is an expert in—to borrow a movie title—What Women Want, asking, “Roosh V, is that you?” I replied:

I have no idea why you would confuse us: “Mister V’s” motto seems to be “Bed ’em, bang ’em, and bolt,” and he seems only interested in “Ms. Right … for tonight.” If he thinks he’s God’s gift to women, more power to him, but I’ve never suffered under that delusion.

Later, I couldn’t resist borrowing (and slightly altering) the slogan used by the nation’s pork producers: “Utahns: the other white meat.”

Now comes word that, according to its founder (who really ought to know), the site isn’t about race, after all. See here, last accessed January 5, 2015: http://www.sltrib.com/news/3378638-155/utah-based-dating-site-for-white-people?page=2. I responded: “Right. The site’s not motivated by race at all. That’s why you waited to make any mention of race … all the way until the site’s Web address. Go ahead, Mr. Russell: Tell us how many black or minority friends you have.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Child Abuse, Justice and Mercy

Judge Shows Alleged Child Abuser More Mercy Than Alleged Abuser Showed His Victim

By Ken K. Gourdin

A judge postponed a defendant’s sentencing on a child abuse charge in light of the fact that the defendant was in obvious pain from a hip injury sustained several years before. For Deseret News coverage of the postponement, see here (last accessed December 15, 2015):

http://www.deseretnews.com/user/comments/865643804/Sentencing-delayed-for-Vernal-man-who-kicked-son-7-in-the-face.html#cId_29002285.

I commented:

I don’t doubt that the male defendant in this case was in pain during the hearing, nor that his injury is longstanding (I have no reason to doubt the reporting on the matter). One would think that these experiences would sensitize him to the prospect of inflicting injury and pain on other people, particularly when those people are as vulnerable as young children are. The fact that, apparently, his own experiences with pain have not done so is very troubling.

The article does not state the offense with which the man was charged, but Utah Code Annotated, Title 76, Chapter 5, Section 109 is the state’s child abuse statute. Subsection 2 reads as follows:

(2) Any person who inflicts upon a child serious physical injury or, having the care or custody of such child, causes or permits another to inflict serious physical injury upon a child is guilty of an offense as follows:
(a) if done intentionally or knowingly, the offense is a felony of the second degree . . .

A second-degree felony in Utah is punishable by anywhere from one to ten years in prison. The man’s prior injury and resulting limitations complicate the prospect of incarcerating him for an extended period of time, especially given the fact that he may well be persona non grata even among his fellow inmates and may be unhousable in the general population, given the nature of his offense. Any sympathy I might feel for him in that regard, however, is severely limited.

The sadist in me says that if I were the judge, I would’ve told this man, “I don’t care how much pain you’re in: you’ll stand in front of me while I sentence you, or I’ll hold you in contempt.” Of course, the judge’s postponement of the hearing was driven less by the desire to show the defendant a kind and degree of mercy he failed to show his victim than it was driven simply by practical considerations of not wanting a sentence overturned on appeal because the man’s pain had a material adverse effect on his ability to understand the proceedings against him and to participate in his defense.

Of course, there would have been a sort of poetic, cosmic justice at work if the man’s injury had resulted somehow while he was kicking his young victim in the face—if, say, he’d lost his balance and had fallen, thus injuring his hip. I don’t support corporal punishment of any kind, but at least there’s a certain logic to it. If nothing else, fear of such punishment might cause someone subject to it to modify his behavior so as to avoid it.

Here, though, the tepid rationale I offer above for corporal punishment seems to be completely lacking. Whipping someone as punishment, for example, is one thing; kicking him in the face is entirely another. There seems to be an element of sadism involved in the latter that makes it a special case.

If this man’s parenting skills are lacking simply because he attempted to discipline in the same way he, himself, was disciplined as a child, at some point, someone who finds himself caught in that cycle has to stand up and say, “It was wrong when my parents did it to me, and that’s tragic, but it would be just as wrong if I were to do it to my child, so I am where it ends.”

Sadly, many parents who find themselves in that situation are not self-aware enough, or don’t have the other tools necessary, to do that.

Fortunately for this man, ultimate justice lies in the hands of Someone who is far more capable of considering and of balancing all relevant factors when deciding his ultimate punishment, and of perfectly balancing justice and mercy, than you are, than I am, or even than the (no doubt very wise) judge in this case is. Nonetheless, the Holy Bible’s Matthew 18:6 does come to mind.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Olene Walker for President

Olene Walker for President

By Ken K. Gourdin

Olene Walker was Utah’s first woman governor for the all-too-brief period between the time former Governor Mike Leavitt vacated the office to accept a position as director of the Environmental Protection Agency in the administration of President George W. Bush and his successor, Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., took office. (The younger President Bush later named Leavitt Secretary of Health and Human Services.)

Alas, the dream expressed in my title is unlikely to come to pass, for two very obvious reasons: (1) While many politicians pay lip service to the notion that they seek office to further the public good, that notion wasn’t merely “service” when it came from Governor Walker’s lips respecting the state of Utah and its inhabitants: while I didn’t know the Governor personally, by all accounts, everything she did in public service was motivated by a sincere love for the state of Utah and for its people, so there was no reason for her to an seek office that took her off of even the state’s comparatively much smaller stage (and, in contrast so some other candidates for president, especially including one particular high-profile GOP notable, she was comparatively humble, modest, and unassuming); and (2) Governor Walker passed away November 28 at the age of 85. Her much-too-short tenure as governor followed the nearly 12 years she spent as Governor Leavitt’s Lieutenant Governor.

Salt Lake Tribune columnist Paul Rolly notes a crucial difference between Governor Walker and her successor, Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. Governor Walker openly and actively opposed publicly-funded vouchers that would allow parents, with state funding, to send children to the school of the parents’ choice. I’m not sure how I feel about school vouchers (and I’m not sure it matters, since I have no children and it’s unlikely I ever will). I do know that it’s hard enough to find funding for Utah’s burgeoning school population as it is, so I understand, appreciate, and respect Governor Walker’s position completely. By contrast, while Mr. Rolly notes that Governor Huntsman was no fan of vouchers in practice, since they were a hot-button issue, Mr. Huntsman was willing to play those cards as close to the vest as he had to in order to get elected. See Mr. Rolly’s commentary here, last accessed December 6, 2015: http://www.sltrib.com/home/3260638-155/rolly-remembering-olene-walker-a-governor.

Utah’s caucus-convention system of nominating candidates for public office also has been much in the news of late. Proponents of a more open, inclusive process spawned an initiative known as “Count My Vote,” through which candidates could forego the caucus-convention process in favor of gathering a specified minimum number of signatures in order to qualify to appear on the ballot. The contention is that the caucus-convention system often is hijacked by those on the extreme right wing. While I do favor a more open, inclusive process, I’ve never seen anyone kicked out of a caucus or of a convention meeting. Though I know enough to avoid saying it has never happened, or that the reason for it isn’t simply because someone refused to toe the party line, such occurrences are very rare. Most of the Republicans I know would be willing to listen even to someone who supports a candidate or position that is at odds with the views of most others in attendance—provided the individual seeking to air his views is not uncivil or disruptive.

Whatever ultimately happens to “Count My Vote,” my advice to anyone wishing to have more of a voice in the process is to go to a caucus meeting and/or volunteer to attend a convention as a delegate. If employment or other weighty commitments conflict, ask someone who shares your views to attend in your place. If you disagree with what happens there, feel absolutely free to disagree; just do so civilly and nondisruptively. And after the meeting, feel free to comment on what happened, preferably truthfully and with at least a modicum of decorum and objectivity, to anyone who will listen. (Paul Rolly probably has more than just a few such gadflies on speed-dial.) On the other hand, if you can’t be bothered to TiVo the game, put down the bag of chips, and get your butt off of the couch to go to a meeting for an hour or two, why bother to complain?

All of that is my long-winded prelude to saying that Governor Walker deserved far more support than she got at the caucuses and at the Utah Republican Convention, where she could (and probably should) have been nominated for her own term(s) as governor. The fact that she was not does not speak well of this state, of its politics, and of at least some of its people. Perhaps the high degree of political homogeneity that prevails in Utah has lulled many people into thinking that since everyone on their block thinks just as they do anyway (or at least, so the perception goes) why bother getting personally involved? The answer to that question is, so that more people like Governor Walker can do more of what’s right for Utah and for as many of its citizens as possible.

In response to news of her passing, I wrote:

As someone who leans conservative, nonetheless, I must say that one of the biggest mistakes the Utah Goofy Old Party made is kicking her to the curb in favor of the next pretty-boy heir apparent and not allowing her on the ballot to run for her own term(s) as governor. Even though, for a person whose day-to-day involvement in politics is limited, I’m something of a political junkie, that’s one of the things I don’t particularly like about politics. Too often, it’s less about what’s best for the jurisdiction (city, county, state, etc.) and more about what’s best for the particular person or party under discussion.

In more than a few ways, she was probably the best governor Utah’s ever had, so her [all-too-]short term in office doesn’t speak well of the state or of her party.

Thank you for your service, Ma’am. RIP [rest in peace]. Condolences to family and friends.

In response to someone who wrote that Utah will never have another governor of her calibre, I responded, “Maybe, but one thing’s for sure: No one will ever be the worse for trying [to emulate her]!”

Salt Lake Tribune political reporter Dan Harrie asked Governor Walker what she would like people to say about her when she’s gone, and she responded thus: “That I was kind and caring and somewhat intelligent. That I was willing to listen. And that I was not only willing to talk, but I was willing to do. That I worked my best to improve conditions for everyone in the state.” See Harrie’s full story here, accessed December 5, 2015: Dan Harrie (November 28, 2015) “’Sweet,’ ‘tough’ Olene Walker was a pioneer and an advocate for bettering lives in Utah,” The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com/home/2992498-155/olene-walker-a-utah-original-and. My take? Mission accomplished, Your Honor! (In response to that deferential form of address, even though I would argue that it is well deserved, she might demur: “I’m just Olene.”)

I commented further:

No matter how much respect I might have for any politician or pundit (including Governor Walker, whom I esteem as highly as any public official I’ve ever known), I doubt there’s a politician or a pundit who’s ever lived with whom I agree about absolutely everything. Once someone assumes office, I expect her to demonstrate backbone and brains, even if it means coming to conclusions with which I disagree. That’s why, generally, I don’t think its useful to have litmus tests for candidates, a situation I think is illustrated perfectly by Utah’s Goofy Old Party’s kicking Governor Walker to the curb. (And I apply that appellation to the party as someone who leans conservative.) She was, and would have continued to be, one of the most outstanding chief executives the state of Utah has ever had.

According to the (faulty) memory of at least one commenter, it wasn’t Governor Walker’s opposition to school vouchers that caused the Utah Republican Party to withhold its support from Walker and to support her successor, Governor Huntsman, in the next gubernatorial race, instead. No, no. Since everyone knows what misogynistic neanderthals Utahns are, it was the fact that she was a woman that drew their ire and petulance. This commenter opined that “Utah conservatives” were so upset by Governor Walker’s gender when she took office that they threatened a lawsuit. I responded:

In comments on news of her passing, I, too, have decried the way Governor Walker was treated by Utah’s Goofy Old Party. However, as someone who does lean conservative, I can tell you that I was far from upset when Governor Walker took office, as were many conservatives outside the Goofy Old Party’s “mover-and-shaker” set. While, again, I believe Governor Walker was treated deplorably, and while I could be mistaken and am open to correction, I believe the Utah Constitution provides for the Lieutenant Governor to assume the office of Governor if the latter vacates that office. It wouldn’t make sense (even for the Goofy Old Party) to threaten a lawsuit when succession to the governorship functions in exactly the manner the Utah Constitution prescribes. I would be keenly interested if you have a reference for your allegation that it prompted threats of a lawsuit.

At a campaign rally, presumptive 2016 Democrat presidential nominee, former Secretary of State, and former Senator from New York Hillary Clinton asked her supporters, “Don’t you someday want to see a woman president?” Yes, I do: I think Olene Walker would have fit that bill nicely. Would that there were more just like her.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment