UPDATED 11/7/2023 1:36 PM – see below
If you’ve been paying attention to this city council race, it’s really brought to light that the concept of “rules for thee but not for me” is strong here in St. George. Most people are aware this mentality exists and is enforced on the national stage. We’re also told that to fix things politically, you have to start local. Well, the best antiseptic is the light.
A few weeks back, signs started popping up all over St. George, supporting the G.O. Bond.
You notice, this sign does not say who paid for it. It’s illegal for the City to advertise for the bond, so I don’t think they did it. Most likely, it was paid for by the St. George Quality of Life Coalition (I did some digging, and they are registered with the state as a Political Action Committee, but as “SG Quality of Life Coalition PAC”. Here’s the thing. Utah code 20A-11-803 (https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title20A/Chapter11/20A-11-S901.html) requires all political material to clearly state who paid for it (I don’t doubt that a lot of citizens assume this was put up by the city, and that there is no law against that happening).
I brought this to the attention of the Lieutenant Governors Office, who is over election law enforcement. After a bit of back and forth, they said they “reached out” the coalition. Didn’t say what was said, or any actions that would occur, and the signs haven’t been adjusted in any way.
Last week I sent the following: ‘Something I realized was never actually answered: regardless of who put these signs up, does the absence of identification of who paid for these signs put them in conflict with state code? If they do not meet code, what can actually be done about them? What exactly was the intent of “reaching out to them”?’. The silence has been deafening.
After last weeks City Council Debate, and St. George New’s article (https://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2023/11/02/mgk-civility-in-campaign-among-topics-st-george-city-council-candidates-address-at-debate/), I reached out to the “reporter”, Mori Kessler. I’ve noticed his “reporting” over the last two years by St. George News has had a very strong slant in support of Danielle Larkin. Case in point, an article by David Dudley on November 3, 2022 (https://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2022/11/03/ddy-weve-never-done-that-as-officials-talk-taxes-playground-equipment-is-removed-from-st-george-park/) about the removal of playground equipment after the tax increase in 2022 was denied included a few remarks by Danielle, but no other council members.
The headline for the article on the City Council Debate is as follows: “Civility in campaign among topics St. George City Council candidates address at debate”. This wasn’t a topic included in the debate. This was a point that Danielle brought up. After I reached out to Mr. Kessler, asking whether this slant I’ve noticed is a personal choice, or a push or requirement by the editorial staff. Again crickets. To be fair, Mr. Kessler has done other political reporting, not related to the City Council, that has actually been unbiased reporting (rare in the US today).
Today, I sent a complaint to the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission. According to campaign financial disclosures, Keith & Nina Barnes donated $400.00 on 7/4/2023 to Danielle Larkin’s campaign, and $300.00 on 9/14/2023 to Steve Kemp’s campaign. Keith C. Barnes is a fifth district court judge. Nina Barnes used to be on the State Board of Higher Education, and voted to remove the name Dixie from Dixie State University. According to Utah Code of Judicial Administration, Canon 4, Rule 4.1.A.4, Utah judges shall not “… make a contribution to a political organization or a candidate for public office”. Some might say his wife, Nina, made the contribution in his name. Except Nina alone donated $300.00 to Wendi Bulkley on 7/14/2023. We’ll see if my crickets get more exercise.
In the United States, the law is supposed to be blind. The laws are supposed to exist and be enforced to all. This government, locally and nationally is supposed to be “government of the people, by the people, for the people”. There is supposed to be no ruling class in America. It would seem a strong, minority in this city see things in another light. Please study out the candidates. Please vote conservative. Please bring decency and law back to our city.
UPDATE 11/7/2023 1:36 PM
Within an hour of posting this article, I received a response from the Lieutenant Governor’s office. It turns out that in the code, “lawn signs” that are 4′ X 8′ or smaller does not require information on who paid for them. I stand corrected on the code.
I do have to ask who considers a 4′ X 8′ a lawn sign? I’m sure whatever state legislature member who crafted and voted for this code. They still didn’t answer what was said when their office “reached out” to the coalition.