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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce on Vouchers

From their website:

Salt Lake Chamber Position Statement on Education Vouchers

Utah businesses are huge stakeholders in public and private education. We depend on a high quality workforce to provide goods and services, and we help pay for the education of the workforce through corporate income, sales and property taxes. To remain competitive in an increasingly competitive global economy, we must continue to invest in our human capital.

Public education in Utah faces a severe funding challenge as the grandchildren of the baby boomers enter kindergarten through 12 grades. Private school vouchers will increase, in a voluntary way (e.g. private school tuition), the total amount of funding for education in our state. We view vouchers as one of several needed and innovative steps to reduce the likelihood of future tax increases.

After careful consideration of the financial concerns raised by both sides of the education voucher debate, a majority of the Salt Lake Chamber Board of Governors believes a vote FOR Citizen’s State Referendum Number 1 (H.B. 148, Education Vouchers) is the right choice for Utah businesses. This endorsement is made with the caveat that a sizable minority of our Board strongly opposes Referendum Number 1 and has asked not to be included with this endorsement. As a large and diverse business association, we respect and value this minority opinion. Indeed, all members of our Board are firmly committed to a high quality education for Utah children.

As a complement to the pro-voucher position of the majority of our Board, we stand prepared to improve public education in Utah by supporting these education priorities:

  1. Increased funding for public schools – Support legislative appropriations that will reduce class size, support full-day kindergarten, increase the portion of students who finish high school, expand after school programs, increase teacher salaries and provide additional books, supplies, and equipment.
  2. Public school/business community partnership – Improve the guidance and motivation that students get in school through an innovative, sustainable partnership to bring business expertise and experience to schools.
  3. Higher education access – Improve access to higher education through a scholarship program for Utah students who meet grade point and curriculum requirements.
  4. Voucher eligibility – We support and encourage the legislature to amend Utah’s voucher law so that high income families are NOT eligible for educational scholarships.
As Utah’s largest business association, we will use our extensive communication channels to encourage Utah voters to support Referendum 1 and enact further reforms to help fund education in Utah.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

KCPW: Voucher Ads

Julie Rose offers a fresh, impartial analysis of the voucher numbers.

Listen on-line or download the MP3.

Catch a Debate

Monday, October 29, 2007

Red Sox Victory

By Laura Barlow
Senate Staff

The Boston Red Sox have won the World Series for the second time in four years. They swept the Colorado Rockies in four games. Unfortunately, it did not seem as though the Rockies came out to play. The young Red Sox played hard until the end. Although I was hoping the Rockies would pull off a victory, I must tip my hat to those Red Sox who played great baseball during the Series.

Five months of an off-season then the Oakland A's can try again next year!

Friday, October 26, 2007

October 26th, 2007













Home stretch: we move back into the newly-renovated Capitol in December.

Education Funding

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Utah's Increasing Student Population

By Curt Bramble
Utah Senate Majority Leader

In this op-ed piece, I wrote that we will experience a tsunami in student population growth over the next ten years. The number of new students entering our system will increase by 450 percent.

One of the Tribune's less accurate writers tried to make people believe I was saying the entire student population will increase by four and one half times. That's not what I wrote and I don't believe anyone reading my comments in context would come to that conclusion.

Here is what is true:

From 1995 to 2005 we had an increase in enrollment of 34,423 students. Starting in 2005 we project enrollment over 10 years will grow by 154,752 students. That is a staggering 450 percent increase.

Here's what else is true:

From 1990 to 2005 we averaged a 7.3 percent increase in education spending per year. (In 2007 it was higher.) I think we should continue that march. However, according to a recent study, to continue increasing education funding at the current rate would require us to triple our income tax revenue. Increasing it five percent per year, would require us to double the income tax revenue.

You can begin to see why we are looking for innovative solutions.

Here's another factor to consider:

Your income tax pays teacher salaries, supplies and other operational costs, but new school construction is going to come out of your property taxes. If you have 150,000 more students, you're going to need to build schools to house them, which costs about $20,000 per student.

Do the math.

One way to try to avoid higher income and property taxes is to offer parents the option to have their children move into the private sector and take some pressure off our public schools.

I attended a town meeting in Springville tonight. The same thing happened there that is happening everywhere vouchers are given an honest hearing. A significant number of people who started the evening opposed to vouchers discussed the numbers and the reasoning and left with a different point of view.

I hope ALL voters will arm themselves with the facts, determine what is true and what is false, and join us in voting yes on Referendum One.

Bloggy Commentary

Today the Deseret Morning News editorialized about political blogs. It's a decent little piece that features Michael Leavitt's new blog. What really captured my attention, however, are comments posted by someone within the hallowed halls of the journalism industry.

Interesting stuff. Here it is:
Reporters Fear Blogs | 9:14 a.m. Oct. 24, 2007

It has been fascinating to listen to fellow journalists anytime someone dares bring up newspaper "blogs" such as this one. You can see them physically stiffen, and then they speak with anger.

"I NEVER read the blogs!" says one Morning News reporter. "That's the stupidest thing the paper has ever done."

A few blocks away, in a conversation with a Tribune reporter regarding a controversial current topic, I asked, "But have your read what your readers are saying about that?"

"No!" she blurts. "No reporter pays any attention to those."

Why the emotional reactions? The answer goes back 500 years. Ever since the first printing press was put to work, the publishers owned a true mass medium. According to Marshall McLuhan, a mass medium is one which produces the maximum message and the minimum feedback.

So it was with Guttenberg; so it used to be with newspapers and TV stations.

In the past, only occasional letters to the editor have been published that rebutted a journalist’s view of reality. Now, newspapers and broadcasters alike have virtually given the public access to the largest press in the world – the Internet. And, it’s on the publisher’s own website, no less.

And that’s what is leaving my journalistic friends so uneasy. Now readers and viewers can publicly question, criticize, debate, correct, and castigate journalists. What’s more, the critiques appear attached directly to the reporter’s work.

That’s a very uncomfortable experience for someone who has made a living sheltered by the man who buys his ink by the barrel.

But are the news blogs of any use? In their early days in Utah there was a great deal of abuse of the space given to news consumers. Bloggers love their anonymity, and they abused it to name-call and falsify. I think, however, there is a sea change in the morass of opinions flowing out of the hot topics of the day. The differences of opinion seem to be more on point, and though diametrically opposed, arguments have become more logical and less vitriolic.

So what do reporters have to fear? Only the points of view that they were not aware of or opinions that contradict their own biases.

After all, doesn’t this new public discussion forum provide what the Supreme Court called a “free and robust debate?”

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Raspberries!

By Lyle Hillyard
Utah State Senator, Cache Valley

Last Saturday after the rain, I went to the garden to pick some apples. I had given up on the raspberries because with the recent frosts, everything that is vulnerable to a freeze had been killed. Most raspberry crops in the valley had produced only about 50% of a normal crop (according to the Utah Farm Bureau News). As I was working, I checked down in the raspberry bushes and, to my surprise, those raspberries were still growing and ripening. With the help of my son-in-law, we picked almost an entire case. I can’t believe how much we have harvested from the raspberries this year but it was a nice surprise to see that the good harvest has not yet ended.

Crandall Canyon Memorial

Plans are underway for a memorial to honor those who lost their lives at the Crandall Canyon mine.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Revenue Report

By Lyle Hillyard
Senate Chair of Executive Appropriations

Last Tuesday, at Executive Appropriations, we heard a report on Utah’s economy and the impact it will have on state revenues come January when the session begins. According to our analyst, we can expect from $250.0 M and $400.0 M in new ongoing revenue beginning in FY 2009, due to economic expansion in the current fiscal year.

Collections from personal income tax continues to grow, which means more people are working and generating more personal income. Sales tax has also increased. Home sales have slowed but that loss has been compensated by the growth in commercial building. Commercial buildings do not have the 45% discount in value like homes, which bodes well for future property tax payments thus helping local schools with building needs. The Governor and our Fiscal Analyst will announce the exact figures for sales and income tax revenues in the middle of December.

This will, again, raise the issue of our spending cap. The cap was enacted in the mid-90's to insure that government does not grow faster than inflation and population. We don’t know the new spending cap but the Governor and our Fiscal Analyst will make estimates mid-November, with final figures determined at the first of February. This always raises the question of whether or not we need a spending cap. Revenue expended in public education or one-time spending for roads and buildings are excluded from consideration. I will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Red Sox Roll

"As it turned out, the big innings would come later, the hits and runs beginning as a trickle, then exploding in a stream and finally, at the end, a gushing river, sweeping everyone away to the streets to celebrate. A Game 7 of an ALCS at Fenway Park is a thing to behold, and so, to be sure, is a World Series."
- Dave Sheinin, Washington Post


*Commentary from Laura (avid Oakland A's and baseball-in-general fan):
It’s never over with the Boston Red Sox. Even if the Indians had one little game to win to go to the World Series, they should have known that it is never over with those Red Sox. In the past, they have shown that they play hard until the end (we all remember 2004). Now, Boston will face the Colorado Rockies, who, in only their second trip to the post-season, swept the Diamondbacks to get to their first World Series...ever. Personally, I am rooting for the Rockies. Either way, it should be a great series.

TWO VIEWS: Senators Bramble and Dmitrich on vouchers

Friday, October 19, 2007

Saying Goodbye to Kyrgyzstan

By John Valentine
President of the Utah Senate

One of the high points in our visit to Kyrgyzstan was a visit with the U.S. Ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch in the U.S. Embassy. She shared a number of insights on our relationship with the Kyrgyzees, and reflected on the importance of the Constitutional referendum to be held on October 21, 2007. The real test will be to watch how the President of Kyrgyzstan handles the aftermath of either passage or defeat of the referendum. (Maybe a bit analogous to the issues we face as elected officials with the aftermath of the passage or defeat of the voucher referendum.)


The free press is alive and well in Kyrgyzstan. In fact, we were constantly followed by the press in our visit. It seems that U.S. visitors to this area are still unique, especially elected officials. So what did they ask about? Other than the need to have everything translated, the questions could well have been posed by our own local media. Issues regarding educational opportunities, economic development, environmental issues and U.S. relations with their country, were constantly being discussed by the print, television and radio media.

In addition to the official visits I discussed in my last blog, we also visited a couple of universities; we had previously negotiated MOUs with Utah Valley State College (UVSC) and two Kyrgyzee Universities. After the formal meetings with University officials, we were able to break out into informal discussions with students, where we learned about their attitudes and perceptions of America. America is still regarded as the premier country in which to obtain an education. Almost all of the students want to study in our country, especially to learn English. (The primary languages spoken here are Russian and Kyrgyzees.) They regard English as the language of business and want to be part of the business world. They of course have major problems with our presence in Iraq, but willingly overlook it if given an opportunity to study in America or have American professors teach in Kyrgyzstan.

A surprise and an honor: While visiting the International University of Kyrgyzstan (IUK), I addressed an assembly of students on the relationship between UVSC and IUK. I had previously been asked to prepare these remarks to them. Just before I was to give my remarks, I was informed that the students, faculty and trustees of the International University of Kyrgyzstan were going to award me an honorary professorship (equivalent to a U.S. honorary doctorate) of International Law! I quickly changed the last line of my speech, and remain grateful and humbled by the honor.

As I said goodbye to this land and its friendly people, I could not help but think of the fond feelings I have for them, especially Speaker Sultanov. He is a remarkable leader in a very interesting part of the world. We are one world and one human family, with similar goals and desires. Trips like this give Karen and I a better understanding of the problems and trials of other people. It gives us hope for them . . . and for us.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Truth Test

Referendum One. Wouldn't it be nice if someone without a dog in the fight would analyze the various voucher advertisements and offer an independent perspective?

Well, the world is your oyster. Tonight KSL aired The Truth Test.
Read the story (good).

Watch the video (better).



Tidal Wave

By Howard Stephenson
Utah State Senator, District 11

For the past several years, Utah demographers have predicted 150,000 new students would be entering Utah schools between 2004 and 2015. They were wrong. The numbers are proving to be much larger.

Projections have been consistently low. This tidal wave of students means increased costs on two fronts: buildings and teachers. Assuming 1,500 students per school, Utah will need more than 100 new school buildings. And with buildings costing approximately $20,000 per student, taxpayers will have to find more than $3 billion more just for these new students.

All those students will also need teachers. To preserve the current average class size of 22.1, Utah will need another 7,240 teachers. With an average starting teacher's salary and benefits package costing $27,437, these additional teachers will cost another $198 million per year. With more than half our teachers expected to retire in the next 10 years, just hiring teachers at any price will be difficult.

The districts already confronting this explosive growth have moved to or are considering year-round school. However, year-round school can only cut these numbers by 25 percent to 30 percent. Another $2.25 billion in schools and $149 million per year in salaries and benefits is still a tremendous increase.

How will we pay for all these new students?


This is the first half of my op-ed piece published in today's Deseret Morning News. Read the rest at http://deseretnews.com/article/content/mobile/0,5223,695219211,00.html.

The Buck Stops Here

In today's New York Times. This is why we need a voucher program; they are letting deer roam the halls of public schools.

So much for tighter standards and accreditation.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Room for New Students

By Lyle Hillyard
Co-chair of Executive Appropriations

I am becoming more and more concerned about the high emotions the voucher debate is creating. I am not pleased with misinformation on which I believe both sides are capitalizing. I support what we did in the Legislature and believe it will not only create an option currently unavailable for some children, but will help stretch the unprecedented money being put into education.

Last year, the number of students in Utah schools increased by 15,000. The price tag was over $80.0 M., just to maintain then-current per student funding levels.

We fully funded that new growth and we'll fund some similar amount this year. Vouchers could help. If we had, say, 10,000 students move to private schools under the voucher program the cost for additional students would be reduced by over $50.0 M (2/3’s of the 15,000 students).

15,000 students is larger than the entire Cache County School District. The cost to build schools to house these new students are about $20,000 per child, primarily funded through property taxes. Anyone concerned about rising property tax rates should think about that.

Judging by the nasty E-mails and comments I have received from the anti-voucher people, I believe they either don’t fully understand the problem or don’t care about it.

In hindsight, maybe we should have made the voucher program, part of the final bill. That way, voters -- now deputized as citizen legislators -- could really understand that it is not fair to single out one part of a negotiated program without including all parts. At the very least least the people who send me the angry E-mails could also include a thank you for my small part in helping Public and Higher Ed receive (by almost 2 times) the largest increase in funding ever.

Just a few thoughts.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Hidden Island of Democracy

By John Valentine
President of the Utah Senate

Kyrgyzstan (the Kyrgyz Republic) is an island of emerging democracy in the heart of central Asia. It is a landlocked country about the size of South Dakota, with a population about the size of Utah. It is a mountainous land with 40 percent of its landmass above 3000 meters (9,900 feet). Needless to say, I felt right at home in the mountains and at the lakes of this jewel of central Asia.

It took me nearly two full days to reach Kyrgyzstan. Why did we go? As I believe I indicated previously, the Speaker of the Kyrgyz’s Parliament, H.E. Marat Sultanov, was our guest in Utah during the last legislative session. Dr. Rusty Butler of Utah Valley State College’s Russian Institute, contacted me before the start of the session about inviting their delegation to Utah as part of their visit to the United States. Dr. Butler’s wife, Dr. Daniell Butler, is the honorary Consulate General of Kyrgyzstan for Utah; they felt it would be an important link between two mountain states. When they were here, Speaker Sultanov extended the invitation to visit his country. I accepted. We were joined by Senator Carol Williams, Majority Leader of the Montana State Senate.

From the moment we flew into the capitol city, Bishkek, we were greeted warmly and with class. Pictured here is the Deputy Speaker of Parliament who met us at the airport at 2:00 a.m. and stayed with us for the entire trip.

While in Bishkek, we met with not only Speaker Sultanov, but also Mr. Almaz Atambayev, Prime Minister, Mr. E. Ibraimov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. K. Osmonaliev, Minister of Education, and numerous Members of Parliament, Mayors, District (County) leaders, educators and students. We also met with our “old” friends from the Kyrgyz’s Judicial branch which we had in the Senate Chambers about a month ago (here and here). Here's a picutre taken in an “Urta”.

I was amazed at the ability of this nation to function on very limited resources. The national budget is about a tenth of the budget of Utah. Wages, especially in the rural area, are also about a tenth of average wages in Utah. You could clearly see that the county had limited resources in the quality of its roads and other public infrastructure. Almost all buildings were Soviet era construction, with many factories shut down and abandoned.

Most men and women in the cities wore Western-style clothing. It changed slightly in the rural area where the clothing was more traditional, especially for women where we saw more head scarfs and traditional Muslim dress. Kyrgyzstan is about 80% Muslim, mostly Sunni.

Men in the rural area wore a while wool pointed hat called a kalpak. On a cold, snowy and windy day by Lake Inyl’chek, wearing a kalpak was very comfortable and almost a necessity. Incidently, beautiful Lake Inyl’chek (pictured here) is the second largest fresh water lake in the world.

Kyrgyzstan has been fighting for a democratically elected parliament since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. They have adopted 3 Constitutions since that time and were involved in a great debate during our stay on yet another Constitution, set for a country wide vote on October 21. If it passes, the President of Kyrgyzstan will dissolve the Parliament and new elections would occur. Keep them in your thoughts. It makes our vote on vouchers this November look very small.


Old friends.





Addressing the Kyrgyz Parliament.

.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Golden Oldies

The voucher discussion has become a little . . . unsavory. Is anyone out there nostalgic for the old days when the debate was reasoned and statesmanlike?

Well, the original recordings of the chamber discussions on voucher policy are available online. . .
Here (HB 148)

and Here (HB 174).
Put them on the phonograph this weekend and enjoy.

Word from the Voucher Debates

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Workers Safety Award

By Curt Bramble
Utah Senate Majority Leader

This morning Senator Ed Mayne received some well-deserved recognition at the Utah Conference on Safety and Industrial Hygiene.

The Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational & Environmental Health selected him for the Award of Excellence in Workplace Safety and Health. Senator Mayne richly deserves this honor for the time he has devoted to this area and the success he has achieved. He is a great public servant and a good friend.

Congratulations Senator.



Two New Judges

The Guv's Office issued this press release yesterday.

In the Tribune:
Gov. Jon Huntsman has appointed Kevin Fife - a private attorney in Logan - as a 1st District Court judge, and David Connors - a private attorney in Salt Lake City - as a 2nd District Court judge. The Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee will now hold a public meeting, prior to a vote by the full Senate.

To assist in determining the scope of the public meeting, comments may be submitted to Jerry Howe at the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, Utah State Capitol Complex, W210 House Building, Salt Lake City, UT 84114-5210, by 5 p.m. on Oct. 22.

The 1st District encompasses Box Elder, Cache and Rich counties.

The 2nd District encompasses Davis, Morgan and Weber counties.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Turkey: The Road Forward

By John Valentine
President of the Utah State Senate

“It is indeed time to rejuvenate and restore American’s relationship with Turkey.”

- Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs at the U.S. Department of State

In the past, Turkey was an unwavering alley of the United States. During the cold war, the main threats to Turkish security came almost exclusively from the Soviet Union. Times are different today; Turkey faces diverse challenges such as Kurdish separatism in its Southern region, violence spill-over from Iraq, the rise of Iran and continued problems in Lebanon fanned by Syria. Turkey’s relations with the U.S. have also become strained, largely because of the invasion of Iraq. 7% approved of the U.S. invasion. 81% disapproved. Only 12% of Turks “admire Americans,” making our group of senate presidents somewhat unpopular visitors to the region. For the most part, Turks believe the same as the rest of the Arabic world: that this is a war on Islam, not terrorism and that the invasion of Iraq was more about oil than it was of spreading democracy.

At the same time, Turkey’s ties with the West have also deteriorated. Their application for membership in the European Union has been blocked by Germany and France, over the sheer size of the Turkish economy and issues such as Cyprus and immigration. Turkey has suffered a upsurge of violence by the PKK, a Kurdish separatist group. In fact in the last decade, over 30,000 Turkish civilians and military have died in attacks in the Southern region of the country, 600 to date in this year alone. A bombing occurred in the marketplace just after we got onto the bus. Fortunately, we only suffered being caught in the traffic jam that occurred in the aftermath. I've posted three pictures of the market here, before it was hit by the bomb. I hope the people we met were unhurt.

Our speaker for dinner that night was Ross Wilson, the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey. His comments were "off the record" but very insightful into the present situation in which the U.S. finds itself. He did observe something that was becoming evident to all of us: The ruling elite are in direct conflict with fundamental Islam, but the opposition represented by the fundamentalist were so conservative that they have little chance of becoming the ruling party by election.

What does that mean for us? We have some work to do. We need to earn back the moral high ground with this country and in the entire Middle East. To do this, we must understand and respect the people of this land. We have to change the nature of the debate on the war on terrorism so it is clear we are fighting Al-Qaida not Islam, as most in this part of the world believe. We need to be prepared to send strong and meaningful signals that were are not going to be in Iraq for the long haul. Finally, we need the world’s help, in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian impasse.



I hope these brief reports are helpful. My next post will be about the Kyrgyz Republic, a world untouched by McDonald’s, Burger King or KFC.

Senate Eye for the Straight Guy

We moved the SenateCam to the shelf above Laura's cubicle.

Yes, she's single.

Word from Nevada

Editorial in the Ely Times:
. . . We get much of our power from Deseret Power in Utah. Mt. Wheeler Power gets hydropower from the Glen Canyon Dam and coal-fired power from Deseret's Bonanza plant in Utah.

The Utah Legislature is deliberating CO2 emission levels, and whatever limit the Bee Hive State adopts, the Bonanza plant will have to conform.

That could mean the cost of our power in Eastern Nevada could skyrocket if Deseret must pay to include more green power in its mix.

We could easily face a situation, where we are surrounded by green-power generation, while having to pay a carbon surcharge because our power includes too much fossil fuels and not enough green power.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Modern Turkey: Land of Paradox

By John Valentine
Utah State Senate President

I just returned from an absolutely amazing two week visit to the Republic of Turkey and the Kyrgyz Republic.

Hoping that it might be of some interest to the citizens I represent, I'm going to offer a couple blog installments on the people and places in this region of the world that may have an impact here in Utah.

The visit to Turkey was sponsored by an organization of the nation's Senate Presidents. Twenty two of the United States' Senate President's and their spouses participated in intense discussions about the ongoing relationship between the United States and this influential nation of the Middle-East, and what it means to our home-states. (To answer the question before it is asked: No taxpayer money was used for either trip.)

Speakers included the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, representatives from the U.S. State Department, university professors who specialize on Turkey-U.S. relations, representatives from the Turkish media, Turkey Chamber of Commerce leaders and other business leaders in that nation. We were also honored to visit Kyrgyzstan, in response to an invitation extended by the Speaker of the Parliament, H.E. Marat Sultanov, when he led a delegation to the United States (and accepted my invitation to visit Utah). I'll write more about the Kyrgyzstan trip in future installments.

So what did I learn, what were the "take-aways" from these meetings? Well, I filled two notebooks with my notes and brought back an overweight suitcase of information, including local press coverage of the meetings. It would be an understatement to say there is a growing schism between the U.S. and most of the Islamic world. By way of contrast, Turkey is a western-oriented, democratizing Muslim Country, that has been a steadfast alley of ours in the region since the creation of Republic of Turkey in 1923 from of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. It is strategically more important to the United States than ever, helping to bridge major gaps between us and much of the Middle East.

A brief history lesson: In A.D. 330, Constantine, Emperor of Rome, founded Constantinople which today is called Istanbul. It became the center of the Byzantine Empire, dominating Eastern Europe for over a thousand years. In 1453 the Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople and created an even larger empire, surviving until World War I. It chose the Central Powers as its allies and was broken up after the end of the War. Although most of the Republic of Turkey is in Asia it has - since the end of the First World War - been tied more closely to Europe. It joined NATO in 1952, was a major alley during the Korean War and is now attempting to gain full membership in the European Union. The historian Disraeli observed: “Turkey is the land of the future and will remain so.”

Today Turkey is the 20th largest world economy, exporting goods worth $400 billion annually. It is at the center of most transportation routes between Europe and Asia. Her growing economy is more robust than France or Germany - in fact, if Turkey were admitted into the European Union, it would be the strongest single-country economy in the Union.

When we flew into Istanbul, the harbor was dotted with literally thousands of ships making their way between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. If one measures the economic vitality of a country by its traffic, then Turkey’s economy is very healthy. Click this picture to enlarge it. You'll see the buildings are old, the cars are new and the streets are clean. A fascinating, beautiful nation.

Tomorrow I'll post an overview of some of the primary issues in the relationship between our nation and Turkey.

[Update: here it is.]

Monday, October 08, 2007

The End of the Season

By Lyle Hillyard
Utah State Senator, District 25

With the frosts in Cache Valley this past week, the garden is ready to be plowed under for the year. We've had a great harvest despite the lack of rain. I was able to rent water from a neighbor who decided not to grow a garden this year so double watering during the week when it was needed really paid off. I still have some potatoes and carrots to dig (they were planted so late that they will still taste like new potatoes) and they will be shared and enjoyed over the next few weeks.

I really picked a lot of raspberries and squash this year. I did not plant enough carrots to cover with leaves this fall. I still have the apples to make apple cider and Concord grapes to pick for the great juice and jam. The apples really grew well this year – both in number and size. I especially like the golden delicious after they have been touched with the frost and have the sugar set. There is nothing better than one freshly picked from the tree and eaten. I will spend the next few nights picking the apples and grapes and then work the next few weekends, completing the plowing and preparation for the spring work that waits next year.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sardine Canyon

By Lyle Hillyard
Utah State Senator, District 25

Sardine Canyon is beyond belief with the beautiful leaves. I don’t believe I have ever seen it more spectacular with the reds, golds, greens, black and now the snow. It was snowing hard when I drove to Salt Lake early Saturday morning but the roads were clear when I came home this afternoon.

If you want to see a great sight, take some time this week and drive to Logan through Sardine, go up Logan Canyon to Bear Lake and then drive south to Woodruff and drive through Monte Cristo into Huntsville and home through Snow Basin. Take a camera and be prepared to stop and look.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

"A No-Lose Proposition"

"... vouchers will draw students out of overcrowded classrooms while leaving money behind to make things better. Vouchers will spark genuine free-market competition that will inspire public schools to improve."
Clipped from last Sunday's Daily Herald. Click here to read the entire editorial.

Boeing v. Airbus

This op-ed, written by Senator Ed Mayne, was published in yesterday's Spectrum:

Airbus Attempts to Cheat

" . . . a high stakes competition between Boeing and French aerospace company Airbus, who are both vying to win a critical defense contract worth more than $40 billion for building aircraft that refuel our Air Force planes in mid-flight.

"There's a lot riding on this contract, including thousands of good-paying American jobs to build the Air Force's next fleet of refueling tanker planes - critical support aircraft for U.S. troops spread across the world. But Airbus is playing the game with a sleight of hand . . . . If the scheme works, we could lose thousands of jobs as a result, and put a critical defense item under foreign control."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Happy Thursday



Blue Skies...for now. A wet weekend ahead.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Word from Vermont. (And Oregon in 1922.)

Op-ed in The New York Sun, by Libby Sternberg:

Utah Leads the Way

". . . the child is not the mere creature of the state."
- U.S. Supreme Court, 1925

KSL on NCLB

KSL Editorial, 10/2/07:
"NCLB is a classic example of Washington trying to do the right thing, but floundering, as is often the case, because one size simply doesn't fit all. Every state, every community, every school is different.

"With the measure coming up for reauthorization this fall, KSL realizes the chances of dumping it altogether, as it probably should be in favor of a state-based program, are virtually nil. But, it can and should be modified to correct its most glaring deficiencies. Let NCLB continue to focus on the need for improvement in education, while giving more latitude to the states. Washington shouldn't be micromanaging education at the local level."

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