Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Congratulations and Thank You

Congratulations to George Stewart and Carina Wytiaz on their primary victories in the City-Wide race, and to Dave Knecht and Brian Smith for making it through to the general election in November in the District 3 race.

Hats off to Roger Brown, Jason Christensen, Stevan Davis, and Jeremy Friedbaum, for their love and concern for our community, and willingness to run for the Council. I hope they will continue to work for the future of Provo in whatever roles they find themselves.

Details of the election results (including our dismal voter turnout) can be found here:

Monday, August 10, 2015

Tour of the District

My daughters and I went for a bike ride this evening and I was a bit overwhelmed at what we experienced. Tomorrow evening Dixon neighbors are going on a field trip for our Neighborhood Meeting. We are going to tour the other Pioneer Neighborhoods to see what we can learn and find aspects that we want to emulate. My daughters and I went out this evening to plan our route. We biked through Timpanogos Neighborhood, and into Joaquin Neighborhood. We dropped down to Maeser Neighborhood and back through Franklin Neighborhood. We were looking for both the good and the bad, but came away with a greater appreciation for the special community that we live in. We were awed by the historic, stately homes, but admired the beautifully maintained yards of smaller, cute homes just as much. We were focused on our task to prepare for the neighborhood meeting, but at one point I commented to my oldest that everything we had seen this evening is the area that I hope to represent on the Council. "Whoa," she said, "I love our district." I couldn't have said it better myself.

I'll try to remember my camera tomorrow night.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Civics 101

So I'm brushing up on my civics. Here are some excerpts from documents that I've been considering. I'd love to get a conversation going, either in the comment section below or over at my Campaign Page on Facebook, where conversations seem to flow more freely. Particularly if you live in Provo, and particularly if you live in District 5, I'd like to know your thoughts on this subject, but I'll welcome thoughtful comments from anyone.

Let's start at the top with the federal government:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."--Declaration of Independence
It strikes me that "Happiness" is mentioned twice; we have an unalienable right to pursue Happiness, and the People have the right organize the Government as we see best to effect our Safety and Happiness. Government is instituted to secure our God-given, unalienable Rights. Governments derive legitimate authority from the consent of the People. What constitutes consent? Is it only active consent or does passive consent count? If a single individual doesn't consent, does that mean the government doesn't have authority over that individual? On the flip side, does majority consent bind all individuals?
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.--The Constitution of the United States

For what purpose was the Constitution established? And more broadly, what is the purpose of government at every level in the United States? I think the Preamble sets out a pretty good list.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. --Gettysburg Address
Liberty and equality.

It is pretty clear to me that our government exists to serve the people, and not the other way around. The government is the orderly process by which we govern ourselves. We are the people, and we are the government. While President Lincoln was speaking of our federal government, I feel this is most true at the local level.

Speaking of the local level, that just happens to be where I'm running. But before turning to the foundational principles in our city code, let's look at the state level. The local government also derives its legitimacy from the people, but it is authorized through the State government. So what does the State Constitution say?
Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we, the people of Utah, in order to secure and perpetuate the principles of free government, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION. --Preamble
The purpose statement is shorter and a bit more general in our state constitution. What exactly constitutes "free government"? Perhaps some of the following excerpts shed some light on this question.
All men have the inherent and inalienable right to enjoy and defend their lives and liberties; to acquire, possess and protect property; to worship according to the dictates of their consciences; to assemble peaceably, protest against wrongs, and petition for redress of grievances; to communicate freely their thoughts and opinions, being responsible for the abuse of that right. --Article I, Section 1
What does it mean to be responsible for the abuse of this right? At times our conversations about government focus solely on our rights and neglect to consider our responsibilities. Just because we have the right to do something doesn't necessarily mean that we should do it, or that it is laudable to do it. Sometimes it seems that our popular culture misses this point. We have the right to free speech, even if it is offensive, but that doesn't mean we should encourage people to be offensive or praise them when they are offensive.
Is this saying that we must be held responsible for our individual misuse of this right, or that we must be responsible (i.e. on guard) to ensure that this right isn't abused (i.e. denied)? Who decides what constitutes an abuse of free speech?
All political power is inherent in the people; and all free governments are founded on their authority for their equal protection and benefit, and they have the right to alter or reform their government as the public welfare may require. --Article I, Section 2
I love the reaffirmation that the power resides with the people. This is being addressed at the State level, but is clearly being directed at all levels. Alterations and reform is our right and public welfare is the stated aim.
Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation. --Article I, Section 22
I've heard some people argue that the money collected in taxes is private property. How does this view fit in with Section 22? Taxes are collected for public use. Do the services provided by the government constitute "compensation"? How can we ensure that this compensation is just?
Frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is essential to the security of individual rights and the perpetuity of free government. --Article I, Section 27
Any thoughts on the meaning of recurrence?

I am not aware of a City document comparable to our state or federal constitutions. The General Plan and Vision 2030 documents lay out a vision for our community, but don't necessarily lay out foundational principles of government. I figure these documents deserve a blog post of their own. From the City Code I did find this gem regarding the structure of the City government and the relationship of the two branches.
The municipal government of Provo City is vested in two (2) separate, independent and equal branches of municipal government; the executive branch consisting of a mayor, a chief administrative officer, and the administrative departments and officers; and the legislative branch consisting of a Municipal Council having seven (7) members. --2.01.010. Municipal Government.
So what are your thoughts?

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Multifaceted Transportation Systems

Creative routing gave me a 10-hour layover in Amsterdam last week while on a business trip. This is definitely not the prettiest picture I took, but if you look carefully you can see pedestrians, cyclists, automobiles and a trolley on rails, all on one street.

In Amsterdam I saw thousands of parked bicycles, perhaps tens of thousands. There were multilevel parking garages full of them. Bike racks were tucked into every nook of the city. I tried to imagine the space that would have been required to park so many automobiles. Many streets were filled with pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, and transit commuters. I tried to imagine how congested it would have been if they were all in automobiles.

It is easy to see that Amsterdam is still drivable, not in spite of the cyclists, pedestrians, and transit options, but because of the varied transportation options.

As Provo grows, we need to develop a multifaceted transportation system to give people options in how they get around and to keep our community mobile. If you are a driver, and you would like to keep convenient, efficient commutes, then please support the development of a complete transportation system, it is in your own best interest.