Friday, August 6, 2010

Harassment of ethics petition gatherers in Utah County and an old story from Washington County about Dave Clark abusing authority

An elderly couple from Salt Lake County has been working hard to gather signatures for the Utahns for Ethical Government initiative petition since last year. They worked many hours personally and helped organize others in their Senate District, achieving the necessary number of signatures in that district some time ago. In all that time and after speaking to hundreds of people, they had some polite disagreements, but no bad experiences with anyone.

This afternoon, they volunteered to drive to Utah County to help in the last county where the initiative needs enough signatures to qualify. The couple knocked on doors in northern Utah County very successfully for a few hours. The wife was discussing the initiative in Pleasant Grove with a man on the sidewalk who had a pen in his hand to sign the petition. Another man pulled up in his car, rolled down his window, and began loudly yelling to not sign the petition. The woman gathering signatures didn't catch everything he said, but the man was apparently repeating the unique Utah County Republican Party lie that the initiative restricts local Mormon leaders such as bishops and Relief Society presidents from serving in the legislature. The woman had not ever heard this argument in Salt Lake County and tried to tell both men it wasn't true. The man about to sign quietly told the woman that he didn't want to anger his neighbor and walked away without signing. The woman started down the street to knock on more doors, but the man in the car followed her, continuing to yell arguments about the initiative, and calling her "evil." The woman rejoined her husband and they were both shaken by the man in the car continuing to harass them. He didn't stop until they finally got in their car and drove away.

I think the incident speaks for itself.

Another interesting incident happened in Washington County back on April 15th when Utahns for Ethical Government volunteers were turning in signatures in an attempt to qualify in time for this year's ballot. Remember, the legislature had also recently passed the openly biased SB 275, allowing them to track down signature signers for an extra month and pressure them to remove their names from the petition. Carmen Snow walked into the Washington County Clerk's office that afternoon with a stack of petition booklets. Speaker of the House, Dave Clark, was behind the counter at the County Clerk's office as the employees accepted the submission of the petition booklets, just waiting to get hold of those names and start tracking them down. As I recall, the temporary injunction barring the names of the signers from being released was issued that afternoon, but UEG still does not know if Dave Clark got copies of those names before word reached Washington County.

The legislators want to us to believe they never abuse their power, but why was this non-county employee in the work space at the county office? Does anyone believe that "ordinary" citizens are allowed behind the counter at government offices when it is convenient to them?

I heard both of these stories secondhand from others who had spoken directly with the people involved.

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