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Rolly: Commentators throwing stones from a glass house
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Commentators on K-TALK's conservative Red Meat Radio have spent a lot of time talking about the Solyndra scandal, involving the alternative energy technology company given a $500 million loan guarantee by the Obama administration and then went bankrupt, leaving the U.S. government holding the bag.

It's an issue repeated time and again by conservative talk shows.

But I bet you won't hear local conservative commentators talking about Digital Bridge.

That's the company given a $5 million contract by the Utah State Office of Education to develop technology to assess the progress of students in public schools. That company also went bankrupt, leaving the state holding the bag for about $3 million.

Digital Bridge initially was eliminated by the Office of Education in the bidding process, but Republican state senators put pressure on education officials, who then re-opened the bidding process and eventually awarded the contract.

One technology expert in the Box Elder County School District contacted his senator, expressing concerns about Digital Bridge. But instead of getting a response from any legislators, he got a call at home that night from an executive of Digital Bridge who chastised him for his unfavorable comments.

In other words, somebody in the Senate tattled on him.

By the way, the $500 million loss over the Solyndra deal represents .013 percent of the $3.8 trillion federal budget.

Utah's budget is about $13 billion, but much of that is dedicated federal funds and grants.

The budget that represents dispersible income is about $5 billion and the $3 million Digital Bridge loss represents .06 percent of that.

In other words, the Digital Bridge fiasco, thanks in large part to our conservative legislators, had nearly five times the impact on the state budget that Solyndra had on the federal budget.

Above and beyond • After I wrote in Friday's column about Salt Lake City Parking Services issuing tickets to motorists whose defective registration stickers had faded, I received emails from Salt Lake City residents who say the enforcers actually prowl neighborhoods looking for the faded sticker.

One woman got a ticket on her car that was parked in front of her house in a residential neighborhood. The stickers fade because of a defective dye, and the Division of Motor Vehicles has taken responsibility for it. But Salt Lake City is the only jurisdiction enforcing it, necessitating residents to go to Salt Lake City Justice Court with their new stickers to have the ticket dismissed.

From state to federal issues • Gov. Gary Herbert has lost a speech writer to Republican rising star, 4th Congressional District candidate Mia Love.

Brian Somers, who has been the governor's associate communications director, is the new director of communications for the Love campaign.

He has been replaced in Herbert's office by Nic Dunn, who previously had worked on Republican Sean Reyes' attorney general campaign.

"Mia has stolen a true talent, gifted writer and solid strategist in Brian Somers," said Ally Isom, Herbert's director of communications. "If she can withstand his sartorial elitism (the man must own at least a thousand very nice ties), she'll find him a tireless workhorse and a savant when it comes to the Who's Who of D.C. He eats, sleeps and breathes politics."

Gesture of atonement • I mentioned in Friday's column the surly email Nanette Billings, wife of Washington County Republican Chairman Willie Billings, sent to openly gay Republican presidential candidate Fred Karver.

Nanette Billings distributed an email to news agencies Friday apologizing. "My choice of words were not kind from one human being to another. I sincerely apologize to Fred Karger for my insulting comments," she wrote.

prolly@sltrib.com

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