Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: No political turkeys to expose this Thanksgiving season

It’s Thanksgiving week, so the temptation is, of course, to expose political turkeys. Instead, we offer thoughts, even praise, regarding some Utah politicians.

It’s Thanksgiving week, so the temptation is, of course, to expose political turkeys. Instead, we offer thoughts, even praise, regarding some Utah politicians.

In contrast to all other Republican governors, Gov. Gary Herbert is keeping an open mind on Syrian refugees coming to Utah if they are properly vetted. Is this wise politically?

Pignanelli: "Life isn't easy, and leadership is harder still.” — Walter Russell

The American form of democracy possesses a superior quality, allowing for calm deliberation of the chief executive. Herbert’s stance is fulfilling this opportunity.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is an enemy of the United States focused to destroy our citizens and civilization. These violent Islamic Radicals (yep, I'm using the controversial “IR description”) are shrewd, tech savvy, fierce adversaries. Our nation's response must be more intelligent and cunning.

An ISIS objective is to stop the flow of refugees, so slamming the door only plays into their tactics. Further, refusing the entrants provides a false protection since terrorists use other means to effectuate their horrors.

Bone-headed decisions of Washington intelligentsia in the current and past administrations are partially responsible for this tragic situation. So, now the United States will engage a deeper role in defeating the terrorists on their soil. By playing in this arena, we need to deal with the consequences. Therefore, our nation and state should accept refugees who pass an appropriate and high degree of scrutiny.

Leadership demands such analysis and action, and our governor is providing it.

Webb: I appreciate the governor’s position, although he’s gotten a little squishy. It would be easy to follow all the other knee-jerk politicians trying to show how tough they are by bullying Syrian refugees — who have already suffered enough.

Any halfway intelligent person knows the chance of a Syrian refugee coming to Utah and committing a terrorist act is so infinitesimally tiny that it’s laughable. Plenty of scary things exist out there that endanger our families and are worth spending effort and money to fight. Such as: Drunken driving. Teen suicide. Drug, nicotine and alcohol addictions. Gang crime. Distracted driving. Cancer. Obesity. Home invasion robberies. And lots more.

Any one of those scourges is a thousand times more likely to hurt and kill Utahns and Americans than a Syrian refugee. Let’s spend our effort and political outrage on threats that really matter.

This silly debate demonstrates, once again, the old adage that Congress (and lots of other politicians) can do only two things well: nothing and overreact.

Is it noteworthy or routine that Salt Lake City, the capital of conservative Utah, has elected its first openly gay mayor?

Pignanelli: Jackie Biskupski managed the campaign in the same method as she did her successful legislative career. It was all about her skills — and a promise of a change to city hall.

More importantly, it's a credit to city residents and all Utahns that the sexual orientation of Mayor-elect Biskupski was never an issue — above or below the radar. The person who accuses our state of intolerance is the one guilty of bigotry.

Webb: It’s business as usual in Salt Lake City. We’re just exchanging a liberal mayor for an even more liberal mayor. Biskupski’s success will depend, in part, on whether she can develop positive relationships with the downtown business community, the LDS Church, and the conservative suburbs. She’s already saying the homeless problem is a regional problem. That will require working with regional government leaders. She can’t alienate other city and county leaders like former Mayor Rocky Anderson did. Biskupski’s administration will be defined more by those relationships than her sexual orientation.

Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauserrecently hosted a meeting of legislators from around the country to discuss rules and procedures for a possible state-led constitutional convention. Was this an important and substantive gathering, or just right-wing silliness?

Pignanelli: A constitutional convention ("Con-Con") was heavily debated in the early ’90s during my service in the Legislature. Back then as today, the far left and right despise the concept — which strongly suggests merit in the cause. This never-used process to amend the Constitution is extraordinarily difficult, but has revitalized because of intense frustration with the federal government. The paramount hope is for a balanced budget amendment — which promises fiscal integrity, practical protection of entitlement programs and prevention of government overreach. Please, let the discussions continue.

Webb: Sen. Niederhauser deserves praise for hosting this important meeting. The states absolutely need a smart and sensible way to apply appropriate leverage to the federal government — as the Founders intended.

The Founders gave the states the ability to propose constitutional amendments precisely because states need a tool to get the federal government’s attention, to push back against federal encroachment.

The worry about a runaway convention is vastly overwrought. Consider that members of Congress sit, in effect, as a constitutional convention every day they’re in session. With a two-thirds vote they can propose a constitutional amendment any time they wish.

An amendment proposed by a state-led convention would only be able to do the same thing. Three-fourths of states would have to ratify any amendment that came either from Congress or from a state-led convention. Why do some of the left and the right fear state leaders more than they fear the do-nothing, dysfunctional Congress? It makes no sense.

Amending the U.S. Constitution is incredibly difficult no matter the path used. But putting the 50 states on equal footing with Congress, as the Founders intended, gives the states a much-needed tool. This is not about politics or political ideology. It’s about good governance. It’s about making government work for citizens.

Pignanelli and Webb: We wish to express our condolences to the family of Randy Horiuchi. With his fun personality, Randy permanently impacted Utah politics.