Paul Rolly: Are some constituents more equal than others?

By PAUL ROLLY

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: May 21, 2014 08:06AM
Updated: May 20, 2014 11:01PM
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Paul Rolly

When the volunteer board of the nonprofit Sugar House Farmers Market began whittling down the 90-plus applications for booths to the 30 vendors it has room for, the panel didn’t think the governor’s office would get involved.

Board Chairwoman Kim Zarkin says she was aghast recently when she received an email from Mike Mower, deputy chief of staff to Gov. Gary Herbert, wanting to know why the board was excluding Chads Produce from the market.

“They are constituents of Governor Herbert [aren’t all Utahns?] and neighbors of mine,” Mower wrote. “Would you mind contacting me to discuss concerns they have with their exclusion from the Sugar House Farmers Market?”

Actually, Zarkin did mind contacting Mower in the governor’s office. She doesn’t feel like it’s his or the governor’s business how the board decides whom to accept in the privately run market.

Asked Zarkin: “This attempt to bully a small nonprofit over the selection of vendors is not really in the vein of small government staying out of our business, is it?”

Mower said he had no intention of demanding the market include his neighbors. He said Chads had contacted him and was frustrated, alleging the board members were not returning calls.

Zarkin said she has no record of phone calls or emails from Chads Produce up to the time Mower sent the email. She believes it was inappropriate for Mower to use his title in the email, which was sent from his government account.

Mower said he uses his title in all his correspondences and that it was not meant to intimidate the board.

Don’t tread on Ivory • Last Wednesday, when former Bureau of Land Management Director Pat Shea teamed up with University of Utah political scientist Dan McCool to debate Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, and Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, about who should control public lands inside the state, Shea got a stern rebuke.

Shea, whose debate side favored continued federal control, had found a book containing ‘The Federalist Papers” at a bookstore near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and thought Ivory could be inspired by the writings of James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay.

At one point, he handed Ivory the book, but Ivory gave it back. He said he had read “The Federalist Papers” and, besides, as a legislator, he couldn’t accept the gift.

Shea argued that the cost was below the dollar threshold of disallowed gifts, but Ivory was firm. After all, no self-respecting tea-party-loving, 10th Amendment-touting American is going to be schooled on the Founding Fathers by a liberal like Shea. Accepting the book could be a slippery slope. What’s next? A science book?

At least it wasn’t Rep. “Cowboy” Mike Noel, R-Kanab, who might have challenged Shea to step outside and settle their differences like men.

Picture says a thousand words? • With U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball’s ruling that Utah must recognize all same-sex marriages performed in the state, the bureaucrats once again are forced into a struggle between the law and their inner demons.

Kimball stayed his order for 21 days to give the state time to appeal, and Gov. Gary Herbert’s office issued a statement saying it is reviewing the options.

Herbert and other state officials have been wishy-washy on the issue. When Judge Robert Shelby deemed Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, Herbert ordered county clerks to obey the judge’s order and issue marriage licenses. Then, when the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the decision, he refused to recognize the marriages.

The Utah Tax Commission seemed to have a similar inner war. When tax day loomed last month, the commission’s website led off with a notice that same-sex couples who were eligible to file a joint federal income tax return could also file a joint 2013 state tax return if they were married as of the close of the tax year.

An altruistic gesture, right?

But the picture accompanying the notice was of a man and a woman filling out their return. I guess tolerance goes only so far in Utah.

prolly@sltrib.com