Friday, October 20, 2006

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A Letter to the Editor...


A recent news story about Rob Miller, a Democratic candidate for the Davis County Commission mentioned my endorsement of his candidacy. Since then, our County Clerk, Mr. Steve Rawlings, has asserted to various and sundry folks, based on that endorsement, that I am not really a Republican. I’m not aware that the County Clerk determines who is or isn’t a Republican, but I believe his concern about that story to be symptomatic of a larger and more serious problem which afflicts Davis County government.

It was not so long ago that our County Commission proposed an unnecessary 138 percent property tax increase, for which the head cheerleader was (and still is) – Steve Rawlings, the County Clerk. I lent my name to Rob Miller’s campaign, because that proposed 138 percent property tax increase was the product of three things: arrogance, hubris, and too many years of one-party government. That tax increase was reduced, but I note a 45 percent county tax increase announced for this year.

Most Utahns – and most Davis County voters – vote a split ticket now and then. I was a Republican legislator in the 1970s, which was a different political age. It was an age of bi-partisanship and cross-party political cordiality, and I think Utah was better-served by that mutual respect than it has been by the hard-edged, personalized, one-party variety of politics that has come to replace it. One of the Cal Rampton Democrats, whose political cordiality I valued, was Michael Miller – Rob Miller’s father. By a twist of family destiny, Rob’s grandparents were two memorably prominent Republicans – Vernon and Helen Romney.

The Republican Party for which I was the Davis County Chairman (in the Jurassic Age) stood for limited government, balanced budgets, and efficiency. That Republican Party would have been mortified at a single year’s 138 property tax increase. It would have been embarrassed at the disparity between the growth rate of commissioners’ salaries (now at $96,000 and a $7,000 vehicle allowance) and the disappearance rate of unincorporated area within the County to virtually zero.

Perhaps adding one Democrat to the County Commission would make it easier for city mayors to reach some meaningful agreements with the County Commission on elimination of duplicative services. It might invite a new assessment of the way necessary county services are provided, and it might even make the commission more concerned about whether all sides of an issue have been sufficiently worked through to assure a balanced and sensible policy decision. Certainly, the sky would not fall, and we might just get better government.

Neither political party has a monopoly on either virtue, vice, or wise policies. Decades of single-party domination tend to produce stagnation and hubris. And 138 percent tax increases.

David R. Irvine


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