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Front Page » March 15, 2011 » Opinion » Staff column: Where is the proof to convict GRAMA ?
Published 1,229 days ago

Staff column: Where is the proof to convict GRAMA ?


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By RICHARD SHAW
Emery County Progress publisher

Where's the proof?

In the United States of America the law says a person is innocent until proven guilty.

Does that right apply to the law itself as well?

Case in point is Utah's GRAMA laws.

During the trial it went through in the last two weeks, it didn't get a chance to prove it was innocent. It was supposed from the beginning, by many legislators, that it was guilty...so it should be sent immedicatelly to the gallows.

But what is the truth in the case? What real evidence did those that cooked up this prosecution, those that framed GRAMA, have concerning its guilt?

During the little debate that took place in front of legislative committees and on the floor (and in the much more public debate where legislators defended their votes to approve the new law) a number of anecdotal incidents were cited by those who wanted this bill passed.

Did any of these stories hold water? Or do they have as many leaks in them as a containment structure at a nuclear plant in Japan after last week's great earthquake?

And why, with the defense mounting such a strong front, was there such a cavalier attitude about passing despite the opposition?

There are a lot of questions here...most of which have not been answered.

Is it true that the press and others have asked for the personal conversations that legislators have had between them and their spouses? What about the contention that when a constituent emails a legislator something personal what they say about their child being very sick, a family problem or a personal crisis could come out in the press? And what about the huge amount of time it take for capitol hill staff to go over and supply GRAMA requests to those wanting them? Is it true that by having to perform that process with the eight requests filed this past session they did not have time to prepare bills for the legislature and therefore a lot of good legislation was lost?

And what about the claims of cost. A story about a GRAMA request to West Valley City from the press that supposedly cost $60,000 was one of the top cases mentioned when refering to the problems with the law. It turned out the payment was $10,000 and it was remitted by the requester, who by the way was not a member of the press.The person was a land developer. The real question here is did it actually cost $60,000 to do the work and the developer was only asked to pay only a sixth of that?

These questions, amongst many others need to be answered. If we hold the guilt or innocence of this law based on the truth, as we are supposed to do with people, then questions, with no real substantial evidence from the prosecution (the legislature) should lead to an innocent verdict. That is especially true in the case of the death penalty, which is what GRAMA got, from both the prosecutor and the executioner (the governor).

Is GRAMA guilty of all these things? Or was it an anecdotal prosecution, with lots of circumstantial evidence included?

A lot of legislators also pointed out things that "could happen." I don't know, but to me, if the crime hasn't happened yet, then there is no guilt, unless there is conspiracy going on.

Oh wait? Maybe the conspiracy is there, but instead it can be found on the side of the prosecution.

Only the jury can make the final decision. That will come when that group of people, the voters, are polled in next years elections. Regardless of what happens in negotiations this spring/summer concerning HB477, the voters need to not look so much at the GRAMA laws and how they affect transparency in goverment, but how its intended demise was slipped so easily through a legislature and governor who have maintained they want open government again and again.

Will voters in 2012 just reinforce this propensity of legislators to run roughshod over process? Or will they take the horse by its reins and change out the people who did this, showing that while some in the legislature mayh think they can go against the peoples will and get away with it, it cannot be done?

Process and truth do go together.

I rest my case.

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