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Paul Rolly: Utah lawmakers want fiscal transparency for schools, but not themselves

Published February 10, 2013 5:05 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Utah Senate unanimously passed a bill that would require school districts to report their expenses on a public site.

While the bill's sponsor, Sen. Daniel Thatcher, said on the Senate floor it is "the greatest bill of all time," there was concern expressed by the education community that the numbers do not tell the whole story of what is happening in the schools. Simply reporting raw expenditure data could create public misunderstandings.

No matter. The "greatest bill of all time" seems to have no resistance from Republicans or Democrats, and it is now in the House of Representatives.

But when former Sen. Ben McAdams, Salt Lake County's new Democratic mayor, last year introduced SB117, which would have required the Legislature to publish on its website when money was taken from the Education Fund, the response from his colleagues was a resounding "Nooooooooo."

In fact, the bill didn't even make it out of the Senate Education Committee. In that committee hearing, Thatcher said people aren't going to understand why money is taken from education for research or other purposes that would bring a return of "ten-fold over the next few years. People are not going to know that. They are going to say you are taking $400 million from education. And then the emails start coming and phone calls start coming. Are we still going to make wise economic policies when they are unpopular?"

Gee. That's exactly what education officials said about Thatcher's bill.

My new BFF • I didn't know this, but I'm apparently a good friend and supporter of Joe Arpaio, the sheriff in Arizona famous for his tent prisons in the desert, making inmates wear pink underwear, sending a posse to Hawaii to investigate President Barack Obama's birth certificate and, of course, accusations that he violates civil rights through racial profiling.

But hey, Joe and I are pretty tight, evidently.

I received an email from Arpaio, starting with "Dear Paul," letting me know he needs my help again.

Again?

"Just three weeks after I was sworn into office for a sixth term as Maricopa County Sheriff, a group of radical extremists filed a recall campaign to forcibly remove me from office," he told me.

Poor Joe!

"This is very serious," he added. "These left-wing groups of agitators are the same ones who spent millions against me in last year's campaign in an effort to defeat me. Because they didn't like the outcome of that election they are now going to spend millions of dollars to force a recall election this coming fall. "

After going on about the "sore losers" hating him because he enforces the law and upholds the Constitution, my new best friend Joe wrote: "You were such an important part of my victory last year even though we faced insurmountable odds. (I was?) I certainly did not plan on this recall, but I have to ask you again for your support."

Well, Joe, you can count on me. I'll give you the same amount of support I gave you the last time.

Suspicious timing • Friday morning, the day Sutherland Institute President Paul Mero was quoted in The Salt Lake Tribune opposing the proposed anti-bias law that would protect gays and lesbians from housing and job discrimination, Mero's house was egged.

Not cool. But perhaps he now knows how many gays and lesbians, who have been targets of bullies, feel.

Due diligence • I recently wrote about CenturyLink's critical eye for expenses when it settled an account with the brothers of an attorney who had died by noticing the brother had overpaid, so the company sent a refund — 58 cents.

Well, Mike Beaudoin can beat that one.

He recently received a refund in the mail from CenturyLink for 13 cents, which doesn't even come close to covering the cost of the stamp.

prolly@sltrib.com