Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Revealing conversation while gathering initiative signatures

One afternoon, I was gathering signatures for both the Utahns for Ethical Government initiative and the Fair Boundaries initiative. I ran into two professionally dressed people wearing real estate nametags. I explained the Fair Boundaries petition to polite interest and nods, and then I started explaining the ethics petition.

"If this were to pass, next year state legislators could not take any gifts from lobbyists, period. Including meals."

One of their eyes lit up and the person said "I'll sign that" while grabbing a pen. I continued to explain that it would prevent a person from being a lobbyist while serving in the legislature and that one of our state senators representing Utah Valley is a lobbyist. They nodded and grinned. But as the person started to print their name, they paused.

"Wait. Maybe we shouldn't. Don't we do this?"

"Lobby? Yes. The realtors' associations are the biggest lobbyists in the state."

They discussed if anyone would be mad they signed the petition. I told them that they should be aware that Taylor Oldroyd is strongly opposed to the initiative and in fact had mixed his Republican Party interests with his County Realtor Association position and gotten signature gatherers kicked out from in front of the Home Expo. I also explained SB 275 and the GOP plan to call people after the fact and convince them they should remove their names from the petition because it is anti-Mormon.

"So yes. If this gets enough signatures to get on the ballot, you probably will get a call from Taylor Oldroyd."

"Listen. These are both good. But we're both new in the profession."

"Yea. We can't afford to get on the wrong side of Taylor right now."

I told them it was sad, but I understood that they didn't want to risk their livelihoods. I explained the rest of the leadership arguments about supposed loss of free speech, invasion of privacy, and their twisting to pull the anti-Mormon stuff out of the bill, and why I thought they were good provisions that improved the political process. They both said they agreed, but didn't want to antagonize Oldroyd. I thanked them and sent them home with information to give to others they knew.

I spoke with some other realtors I knew about the incident, and they laughed. They explained that Taylor is not even a realtor, but merely their hired gun to lobby and administrate.

(I hope some of you comment, but I may not respond for a couple days. It's not you; it's me. I'll respond when I can in a few days.)

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