Salt Lake Tribune Letter of the Week
This week I had the dubious distinction of penning the Salt Lake Tribune Letter of the Week. Titled Don’t forget transgender in marriage debate, I was inspired to write it after reading another article that referred to the Marriage Equality struggle as a gay and lesbian issue. Under that framing, I was feeling that my marriage and those of other transgender people were being left out of the equation. Marriage Equality benefits more than just the lesbian and gay community, and that's why so many people are fighting for it. It's a Human Rights issue which opens up the possibility of families redefining their marriages around love and commitment, instead of gender and procreation.
Meeting the Mayor of Midvale
I went to the Midvale Mining Restaurant on Monday with the intention of meeting JoAnn B. Seghini, the Mayor of Midvale, and the current Utah house representative for the district, Tim Cosgrove. My wife and I found our next home in Old Midvale, a quaint split-level cottage and will start moving in on August 1. Utah State Auditor Candidate Jeff Hatch was hosting his kickoff there and I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to meet those two distinguished guests. JoAnn was the first elected female council member of Midvale before being elected as its Mayor in 1998. I had a brief chat with her in which she asked what part of Midvale we were making our home. Also at the meeting were Lynn Hemingway, who had great advice for me, former legislator Janet Rose, and Christine Passey, who is the current Democratic Candidate for District 44.
My First City Council Meeting
I found out at the restaurant that the Midvale City Council was meeting the following day, with the topic being UTOPIA, the public broadband infrastructure that is being built for six Utah cities, including Midvale. I spent a few hours over the course of that evening and the next day learning as much as I could about UTOPIA, and spending quite a bit of that time in the 2012 audit report.
The meeting itself lasted from 6:30 pm to about 10 pm on Tuesday. I was surprised at how much it was about just running the business of the city, something we should be doing at all levels of our government. There was no bickering, only respectful consideration and conversation. Robert's Rules of Order weren't overused, but the members did make space in the conversation for one another.
It felt like a business meeting. The budget proposals were discussed, including the proposed salaries of city employees; current projects and the state of various developments; business licensing; and needs in the neighborhoods. And, yes, a couple of items that are in the works in preparing for UTOPIA were also discussed.
The mayor indicated in her welcome that she had paid a visit to our street, asking if our house was the one with all the concrete outside. I hope not, as it's supposed to be ready for move-in next Friday. I found the fact that she remembered that detail from our conversation and paid a visit to my street remarkable. I think it's a good thing if councilmembers can personally welcome people to their districts, and it's awesome when the mayor does so. I plan on attending as many of these meetings as possible to get a real feel for the issues addressing Midvale in general.
I want to wish everyone a Happy Pioneer Day, or Happy Pie and Beer Day, as this is a day that we should be recognizing that Utah was founded in its quest for diversity. I wonder what everyone's attitudes would be like if, instead of shooting fireworks for a solid week, they recreated a moment of the struggle of the people who came here, who famished on a journey across multiple states, pushing or pulling all their belongings in hand carts across the mountains, trying to beat the approaching winter storms. Would we as a state, be more welcome, if we spent one day fasting and pushed a cart to work and back home?
Simon Bolivar Festival
When we speak of welcoming, we need to also remember those people who have also made a great journey, travelling thousands of miles from South and Central America because their family economies were destroyed by the North American Free Trade Alliance (NAFTA). These people have braved unwelcoming climate and hostile people to seek shelter and opportunities within our borders. We need to throw our support behind the children and everyone else who comes here seeking political asylum at the border, welcoming them to protective families who can take care of them here instead of sending them back to almost certain death if they do not join gangs. We need to stop sending young adults back across the border simply because they graduated and turned 18. We need to celebrate the diverse culture and the diverse people who have braved so much to be with us, much as the pioneers of '47 did.
The Simon Bolivar festival is a celebration of the culture of five principle countries in South America. Simon Bolivar is recognized by those countries as the Great Liberator. He led Venezuela, Columbia (including Panama), Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia to independence from the Spanish Empire, laying the groundwork for democracy in Latin America. Born to a family that owned slaves, Simon was radical in his time by fighting for fairness for all. During my time in the US Navy, I visited both Panama and Ecuador, exchanging letters for a time with someone I had met in Quito, Ecuador.
The Simon Bolivar caucus has reached out to me and encourage me to have a table at this event. I am hoping to see you there. It is being held Saturday from Noon to 8 pm at the Westminster Courage Theater at Westminster College. Maria Conchita will also be there.
Please contact me if you would like to volunteer to help out at the table, especially if you are bilingual in Spanish and English.
Thanks in Love,