This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The circus has returned to town and I'm excited. I cherish the clowns, the elephants, the dazzling audiovisual effects, and even that good old circus smell. No, this is not your grandpa's circus. This is the annual general session of the Utah Legislature.
It's that time of year when our legislators get together at the State Capitol and wreak havoc on the lives, laws and general reputation of the state of Utah. It's 45 days that never bore, never make much sense, and confer stardom on people who later become senators or congressmen.
These keepers of the public purse always budget millions to cover the cost of litigation (almost always unsuccessful) trying to defend laws passed by a body heavily weighted with Republicans. As most of this money winds up flushed down the toilet, the legislators plan ahead by proposing a raise in the tax on food, even though the poor and elderly end up paying an unfair proportion of their limited incomes.
Perhaps the lawmakers' logic is to force the elderly to pass up their medications in order to buy enough food to survive. They then die earlier, saving on Medicare costs, a federal program much despised here. This creates jobs for the poor digging graves to get them off welfare. That in turn helps get the drugs out of their systems when they are forced to work 24/7 digging endless rows of final resting places.
And this takes the jobs away from illegals, who used to dig the graves, and probably stole jewelry from the dearly departed while they were at it. This forces them to go back where they belong … in Arizona! And if they don't, they get shot with the millions of guns circulating in and around Zion. This creates more grave digging for the poor, thus less Medicaid, welfare, food stamps and illegals.
See? Utah comes out a winner all around.
Let's not forget, though, the backstage helpers in the circus, the members of the Utah Eagle Forum. As followers of Gayle Ruzicka, they labor tirelessly behind the scenes, working what's been called "a phone tree campaign" that controls what the elephants and clowns can and can't do. Call it the underground, call it the Mob, call it what you will. It's very effective, as it produces, directs and writes a new screenplay for the circus performers each year. Ruzicka, our Bella of Twilight, basically rules the circus.
This year, there is the added drama of an attorney general who, while eating Krispy Kreme donuts we haven't been told what he was drinking (hopefully not coffee, or the game's over) discusses strategy with an individual charged with unlawful activities.
This individual, a Mr. Jeremy Johnson, had agreed to a 10-year prison sentence for his plea deal. But at the last second he decided to back out of the plea and talk about his pre-election meetings with soon-to-be Utah Attorney General John Swallow. One of these donut meetings was secretly recorded by Mr. Johnson, as The Salt Lake Tribune reported on Feb. 1.
The whole saga comes with a bonus chapter that features Mr. Swallow enjoying Mr. Johnson's houseboat at Lake Powell. Not your ordinary houseboat, mind you, but one with a heliport.
This sordid (but riveting!) tale is known in the circus business as a sideshow. But it's a good sideshow, one you won't want to miss.
Yes, the circus has returned to town and I'm excited. I've always loved the circus.
Tom Day was self-employed in the fast-food business, taught business as an adjunct at Salt Lake Community College, and is employed at the Utah Department of Motor Vehicles.