Archive for category Ralph Becker

Open Letter to Chief Burbank and Mayor Becker: Let OWS Campers Stay!

Mayor Becker and Chief Burbank,

Please don’t let the media put you in reactive mode. It won’t make us safer and might create issues where there were none before.

Its been a month, by your grace. Before booting everyone from Pioneer Park; think about how many homeless die in Salt Lake City every month? Certainly its more than one?  It must be more than one.

I don’t see the basis for attributing this death to the circumstances at Pioneer Park. Not without SOME numbers.

Chief Burbank, the media is telling us you can’t do your job and keep Pioneer Park safe with the OWS campers there.  Is that really true?

I think we all know, you couldn’t wish for a more cooperative group.  Heck, they all love you and you know it!  The DeChristopher group has nothing but high praise for you.

Is it possible that homeless deaths in SLC have gone down since the Occupy group started camping in Pioneer Park?

What are the numbers?

Is it possible Pioneer Park is actually a SAFER place for the homeless after hours as the result of the OWS campers.

Tell us the numbers?

Popular movements will always tax law enforcement disproportionately. But please, do not let this important movement and message from the people, be muzzled because of the inconvenience.  Don’t let them win.

Thank you both for your sincere efforts, patient service and generous wisdom.

My Sincere Regards,

Cliff Lyon

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Further Thoughts on the State of City Address

As I ponder my impressions from last night’s address, I have some thoughts.

Ralph Becker is a good public speaker but not a natural one – my impression has always been that he’s not terribly comfortable in behind the podium.  Last night’s speech reconfirmed my impression (if I had to guess, I’d say he’s pretty strongly introverted).

Ralph is a good mayor because he has a first rate mind.  Everything he’s done as mayor – from fostering collaborative decision making to building working coalitions within the city – demonstrates that he has a gift for organizing and coordinating groups. 

Finally, I like the way he has a vision for the city, he organized it in a simple, easy to remember way and then communicated it.

It makes me glad I spent months volunteering and knocking on doors and standing on street corners waving signs and generally working to get him elected.

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Live-blogging the Mayor’s State of the City Address (Part Four)

Let’s talk Open government.

I think he just put a nice face on the selection process for the public safety building and that’s not a bad thing since it passed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Live-blogging the Mayor’s State of the City (part three)

2010 = adopting a city wide sustainability ordinance – trees, curbs and gutters, and so on.

Increasing places and ways residents and business can get renewable energy, save water, and localvore movement to produce more food locally.

Efficiency:  “Decisions and actions deliberate, purposeful, respectful of time, dollars and resources.”  (Great line!)

Using software to improve processes, use less paper, create less need to drive, and make fewer phone calls. Obligatory shout out to city staff by name – nice touch but he stepped on it.

Other efficiency measures – employees and people doing business but also taking care of the city’s actual assets.

This is one of Bill Scher’s Three R’s of liberal government – be responsible with resources and demonstrate that you are being sound stewards of taxpayer resources. Read the rest of this entry »

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Live-blogging the Mayor’s State of the City Address (part two)

Okay, the City Council chamber is packed.  That’s a good sign and the sound system is crappy.

Nice pro-forma opening – welcoming his mother as a new resident of Salt Lake.  Congratulates JT Martin as the new chair and welcomes Stan Penfold as a new member (big round of applause).

More pro-forma stuff – energized by the job and the city’s potential and its citizens.  Nice move – acknowledges the bad economic times.

“The place holds the potential but it is the people who tap into it and make it happen.”  Nicely written line but he stepped on it.

Salt Lake City influences our neighboring cities – and that is part of how we have to govern; he points out that we are the centerpiece city of the region.  2009 accomplishments: livability.  2010 goal: livability.

“We all know what we have here . . . natural resources and scenery, world class university . . .”

“We model for our neighbors and surrounding states the kind of livability that makes a city great.”

  1. Environment
  2. Efficiency
  3. Equality
  4. Engagement

Highlights: Read the rest of this entry »

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Live-blogging the Mayor’s State of the City Address

Okay so I’m not great at this liveblogging thing but I hope you’ll bear with me.

in 2007, I volunteered for Ralph’s campaign for mayor – I knocked doors and walked almost every neighborhood in the city – two days a week, almost every week for months.  Through that experience I met the very talented Curtis Haring and the mayor’s equally talented chief of staff, David Everitt.

According to KTVX, Becker will address:

This year’s theme is livability.  During his speech to the City Council, Mayor Becker is expected to discuss the environment, equality and efficiency in government.

Last week’s Trib article said:

More specifically, his spokeswoman says, Salt Lake City’s mayor will focus his initiatives under “four E’s”: environment, engagement, equality and efficiency.

“There will be some revelations that are exciting,” Lisa Harrison Smith says about Becker’s third annual speech, scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. “There will be a big announcement on sustainability that will happen in the first part of the year.”

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2009 Election Results – Stan’s the Man!

Stan Penfold by 226 votes for City Council District 3. The Trib described the effect “edging left” which is probably not accurate. Although Eric Jergensen was no Eagle Forum conservative, he wasn’t a progressive – Stan Penfold is probably to left of Mayor Becker on a wide array of issues.

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Thoughts on Leadership and Ralph Becker and Barack Obama

In Margaret Wheatley’s Leadership and the New Science, she says that successful organizations share something in common – they know who they are, they know their strengths and they know what they’re trying to accomplish. Successful leadership lies not in giving orders or in making decisions but in helping an organization discern its vision, keep that vision in front of everyone and empowering people to enact that vision individually. A successful leader in this model is charged with consistently casting the vision.

Ralph Becker’s 07 mayoral campaign was an excellent model of this leadership. Becker and his campaign cast a vision of Salt Lake as a world class city. Volunteers weren’t trying to get Ralph elected – his election was a means to the end of transforming Salt Lake. The campaign’s Blueprints were another key part of the model; each blueprint spoke to a different way in which the city become world class, they were comprehensive – covering most key areas of leading a city. It was easy to get excited about Ralph as mayor and to say excited. The results speak for themselves – the real race was the primary from which Ralph emerged as the strongest candidate by a surprising margin. The campaign, however, did something even smarter; they trusted their volunteers to do and say the right things. In essence, they said, “Here’s our vision, go share it with people.” It worked.

In 08, Barack Obama’s campaign used the same model. They framed the race simply as “change versus more of the same.” They cast the vision again and again and again. They inspired volunteers the trusted them. Obama won a clear victory – both popular and electoral votes were clearly in his favor.

Paradoxically, in both cases, both Becker and Obama have as elected officials failed to capitalize on their campaign victories. FDR once said to a voter that he would do the right thing but she had to make him do it. That’s the key concept. Becker has a huge email list, one he could and should easily be using to get things done. He could drive reform of our planning commission through emailing supporters and getting them to push the city council to m ove. He could use his supporters to push through a number of initiatives. Instead, Becker has gotten bogged down. Understand, that Ralph is a good mayor; his administration reflects very much is personality – he is a serious, thoughtful person who works methodically which has greatly reduced the drama from the Rocky Anderson years and been, overall, a boon to the city.

Obama has only recently begun using his massive email list to support his initiatives. The Obama administration has gotten bogged down in governing, enmeshed in an unresponsive system. They’re off their game. I think Barack Obama and Ralph Becker have similar orientations toward the world – serious, methodical, thoughtful. Obama has lost track of the desire for “change versus more of the same” that got him elected.

Both campaigns for both Becker and Obama should have taught valuable lessons – Americans want to be involved in the process and we’re hungry for something better than we’ve had for decades. Government has consistently failed us; we want government to serve us. If our leaders inspire us – if they will cast a consistent coherent vision, we will get inspired, we will work tirelessly to make the change real. We need our leaders to do more than govern; we need them hear what we’re saying, to discern the vision, and to engage us in making it real.

Obama has been off his game for months. He needs to get back into campaign mode. Same for Ralph.

I’m not talking about the much and rightly maligned permanent campaign. I’m talking about reconfiguring the methods of leadership. It requires some of the same tactics as campaigning, but it rises above them; it is a very different strategic goal as well. In this case, the strategic vision isn’t “Pass a stimulus package” or “Pass health care reform” the strategic vision is “Making America better through policy that betters people’s lives.” Each particular bill or initiative is either part of that vision or it’s not included in major pushes. It can be allowed to go to the wayside. The campaign processes that need to follow are constant communication, casting and recasting the vision and reconfiguring how we get public input.

Leadership in this case means empowering the public to communicate so elected officials can discern and articulate a vision that the public can then support. It’s time for our elected officials to stop being enmeshed in an unresponsive governmental structure and to start leading a government of, for and by the people. This would actually lead to not only better policy but actually more progressive policy; on an issue by issue basis, the American people actually support far from liberal policies than our government has delivered for a long time. It’s time for change versus more of the same.


White Privilege and Black Man 101: A study in contrasts

Two of my favorite bloggers – Hugo Schwyzer and Terrance at Republic of T – have posts up that are worth reading and contrasting. Read the rest of this entry »


The Kiss-In was cute but it’s time to get serious

Part One: Private Property Does Not Excuse Prejudice or Discrimination

Defenders of the Mormon Church claim that the church has the right to police and kick people off Main Street Plaza on the grounds that it is private property. Read the rest of this entry »


Mayor Becker’s Transparency Initiative

Last week I had the opportunity, along with a half dozen other local bloggers, of sitting down with Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker for a casual discussion of city issues – truly informal and no holds barred. I thought it an unusual opportunity and was pleased to be included, even after I disclosed I actually lived in Davis County. But after all, as goes Salt Lake City, so go many surrounding communities. And for the bedroom communities, Salt Lake is where many of us work and play and we are greatly affected by the things that happen there.

A couple of other bloggers (here, here, just for example) have provided a good rundown on the topics discussed and resources available. Rather than repeat what others have written, I want to focus on what I think is a new important development; that is, Salt Lake City’s Government Transparency Initiative.

The initiative is still very new, but the web site supporting it is well-developed with many resources already in place. The Scope of Work is laid out in detail. The site has a Wiki, a blog, and a forum where visitors can enter comments or questions. And there’s a survey where they invite specific input from citizens.

It’s a work in progress and the city hopes to tap input from citizens in order to develop its transparency policy. I think they’ve made a good start. A significant amount of work has gone into the development of the web site so far, and the information provided is helpful. Salt Lakers should take a look.

Transparency has become a buzz word in government from the U.S. president on down. Salt Lake City seems to be taking this issue seriously. The real test will come in the implementation.

Bloggers or Journalists?

The above post is really more informational than opinion. But I thought it worthy of a mention here. But it also reminds me of one other topic from our meeting. The question arose as to whether bloggers were investigating and writing original news, or if we were simply commenting on news from media resources. We pretty much had to agree we got our sources from other media and our role tends to be as commenters to the news. Most bloggers do not have access to newsmakers. This is why a sit-down with the mayor was a unique opportunity for us. Still, I don’t see bloggers becoming the journalists of the new century–the decline of print media notwithstanding. I see journalists and bloggers as having very different roles. One being to report the news objectively, the other to attempt to keep everyone honest in the process.

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State of the City

I have a confession to make. I dislike listening to political speeches; I don’t think I’ve sat through an entire State of Union – ever. I was going to attend last night’s State of City address and I just could not make myself do it. This may seem like an odd confession given my passionate interest in politics, but it’s a sad fact. Chances are good I won’t listen to Obama’s inaugural address from beginning to end.

That said, Ralph Becker’s 2009 State of City has some good stuff: Read the rest of this entry »

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