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Nonprofit awards progressive political efforts

Published December 31, 2012 9:28 pm

Better Beehive Award • An act of frustration over bill to ban sex-ed vaults couple into activism.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sandy and Paul Krueger got fed up with politicians.

So the Murray residents started their first online petition last spring, hoping to convince Gov. Gary Herbert to veto HB363, the abstinence-only, sex-education bill.

Their effort snowballed: Their online petition garnered about 30,000 Utah signatures (an additional 10,000 from out of state) and a rally of hundreds of protesters on March 15 at the state Capitol.

Two days later, Herbert vetoed the bill.

"I had one of those moments: This [HB363] is so stupid," Paul Krueger said Monday. "I thought, I'm going to start a petition and try to get 1,000 signatures. ... It was mostly for personal satisfaction."

The Kruegers' effort provided satisfaction to others as well, and they have been acknowledged for it.

For the first time, the Alliance for a Better Utah, a progressive advocacy group, named them the recipients of its Better Beehive Award. The award recognizes five notable Utahns and groups for their "progressive efforts" in 2012:

• The group recognized state Sen. Ross Romero. "As a member of the state Legislature's records committee, Romero was the only member of the committee to vote to release Utah's 2010 redistricting records for the public's benefit — a position ultimately adopted by the Legislature after a long and unnecessary series of battles over the question of the public's interest in the records," alliance officials wrote.

• The cities of Springdale(a town of 500 residents outside Zion National Park) and Harrisville (a town of 5,500 north of Ogden) were chosen for passing ordinances this year that bar employment and housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

• The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board was picked for its decision to retract a poll that had originally erred in its prediction of the results for the Salt Lake County mayoral race. 

• The group HEAL (Healthy Environmental Alliance of Utah) was chosen for "successfully preventing an EnergySolutions executive [Dan Shrum] from being appointed to the state board that oversees nuclear waste regulation in Utah," alliance officials wrote.

• Sandy and Paul Krueger were picked for "their efforts in starting a petition rallying against the Legislature's passage of a so-called 'abstinence-only' bill in the 2012 legislative session that ultimately led to Herbert's veto " alliance officials wrote.

"We joke tongue-in-cheek that our informal motto is 'Building a Better Beehive,' " alliance founder Josh Kanter said in a statement. "But, consistent with our mission, we're trying to make Utah a better place to live while respecting the sometimes quirky culture that makes Utah a great place to live."

Maryann Martindale, alliance executive director, said the group deliberately kept the award qualifications fluid this first year.

"It's nice to take time and focus on things that people are doing right," Martindale said. "We didn't want to restrict anyone or anything."

The alliance for a Better Utah started in spring 2011. Martindale said the nonprofit advocacy group is affiliated with a national organization, Progress Now, but that it remains independent.

Martindale said Paul Krueger was chosen because "He was this great guy who had just had it."

In March, the state Legislature passed HB363, which would have allowed school districts to drop sex education and required abstinence-only instruction for those that kept it.

Afterward, Utahns flooded the governor's office with thousands of letters against the bill, and a variety of groups took public stands.

Krueger started an online petition, through Signon.org, resulting in about 40,000 signatures against the bill.

Herbert announced he would veto the bill on his Twitter account.

"I just vetoed HB363," he wrote. "I cannot sign a bill that deprives parents of their choice."

Paul Krueger said he does not consider himself a political activist.

"I had never done anything like this," Krueger, 55, said. "I did it mostly out of frustration. ... I'm not sure the governor would have vetoed it if the political winds had been in the other direction but he did it."

The retired firefighter, who now drives a school bus, said his petition experience has helped spur his political involvement.

"Now I'm trying to be active as much as I should be," Krueger said.

rparker@sltrib.com

Twitter@rayutah —

The new Better Beehive Award

O The Alliance for a Better Utah named five individuals and groups as the first recipients of its Better Beehive Award. > betterutah.org/better-beehive-awards-2012