Herbert to Weber: Find a paddle

People in Weber County know one thing for sure today: Gov. Gary Herbert won’t be standing in the sandbag line with them.

Herbert could have stayed in his Capitol office Tuesday to deliver his message to the people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps as flood waters threaten. Why did he bother traveling north for a lame photo op? … Oh, perhaps because it was a photo op.

“We can’t do anything for you, and we won’t” seems to be the talking point for Republican governors elected in 2010. They’ll serve you a cup of tea, but the first thing Herbert said was that flooding is a matter for local governments, and you’d also better get your neighbors to help.

Herbert talked about a state emergency response operation, but it’s not clear how useful that might be if, as he said, local governments and your neighbors are your best hope.

Truly, I have no quarrel with Herbert if he’s genuinely acting as a conservative governor who isn’t going to spend more money, even in disaster times, and honestly believes that he’s holding the line on a limited state role. People understand that, and it’s a popular position in these tea-soaked times. The discordant part is that Herbert felt compelled to travel to the scene to lecture the locals in person about how to practice self-dependence during calamities. The footage won’t make a good campaign ad in 2012 – “Governor Herbert rushes to the scene to tell flooded residents they’re totally screwed.” Unless the trip was to build cover for the blowback the state probably will get when the floods rip apart Utah this month and Herbert can’t or won’t do anything meaningful about it.

Meantime, Sen. Orrin Hatch, who’s been sucking up to the Tea Party like a wino in a booze storeroom, nevertheless has turned to the federal government. He’s sent a stern letter to FEMA to make sure the feds will help. That part of the federal government must be OK to tap for funds.

In January, in a deftly written press release, Hatch’s staff claimed credit for getting FEMA to help after flooding hit southern Utah. FEMA’s help costs actual money — federal money, taxpayers’ money — but the release mentioned nothing about the expense.

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11 Responses to Herbert to Weber: Find a paddle

  1. laytonian says:


    Herbert’s “ask your city, county, neighbors or the Feds” statement was mind-numbing.

    “We’ve been asking people for over a month, ‘If you don’t have flood insurance, get it,’ ” Herbert said.

    FIRST of all, Dear Gov: you don’t “ask” a statement.
    SECONDLY, just try getting flood insurance when floods are headed in. That’s like calling your homeowners’ insurance company when your house in on fire, asking to buy a new policy.

    “We need to make sure there is a spirit of community here,” he said. Yes, there is, Herbert. For SOME of you. The rest of us are definitely not “the community”.

  2. Owain says:

    Exactly what do you expect him to do?

    If the rivers rise, then they rise. Are you expecting Gov. Herbert to pull a King Canute, and try to command the tides? As I remember it, that was Canute’s way of showing his foolish courtiers that “the deeds of kings might appear ‘great’ in the minds of men, they were as nothing in the face of God’s power.”

    Looks like that is a lesson that modern day foolish courtiers (and journalists) should be reminded of.

  3. Mark Shenefelt says:

    I suggested he skip the dog and pony show.

    • Owain says:

      OK, I understand. And if he had not made the trip north, you would be writing today instead about how Gov Herbert couldn’t even be bothered to poke his nose out of his office to see for himself the conditions in Weber or Davis counties, or anywhere farther north than Woods Cross.

      Since he’s already in a ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ situation with you, again, what do you think he SHOULD do under the current conditions?

      • Mark Shenefelt says:

        1) Propose to the Legislature, in a special session, consideration of “rainy day fund” (pardon the bad but accurate pun) program to help fund the inevitable large recovery.

        3) Get ready to hound FEMA for federal help.

        Neither of those steps would make him many points with the fundamentalist tea guzzling and local control crowds — except for those with flooded lands and homes.

        • Owain says:

          What happened to 2)?

          I expect that 3) is underway, and since we have already paid for funding FEMA with our taxes, I don’t see how all those nasty tea guzzlers will object to getting their own back when we need it (And who are you to accuse others of ‘cheap shots’, I might ask. As I mentioned to someone else at the SE once today, ‘Physician, Heal Thyself’).

          As far as 1) is concerned, I tend to agree with Gov. Herbert. If you live in an area subject to flooding, you should have gotten flood insurance. It’s not like the SE and everyone else up and down the Wasatch Front hasn’t been warning sincJanuary that there is a high risk of flooding connected with the snow melt this year. If people can’t be concerned with providing for their own needs, I’m not altogether convinced that I as a tax payer should be on the hook for their lack of responsibility.

          Personal responsibility. It’s a virtue, you know.

  4. Maybe Herbert could ask his highway construction friends to donate some of the $13 million that was given to them to NOT build a highway. Yes, the “little people” are the ones who get lectured about being frugal with taxpayer dollars. The big fish get the million-dollar worms.

    • kent coleman says:

      The Gov said he was investigating the 13 million bribe not to sue udot.

      That was last September.

      The people of Utah have short memories and the Gov has moved on to bigger and better things.

  5. Jay Hartwell says:

    Personal responsibility Owain?
    Like having 7 kids and expecting childless taxpayers to pay extra, while the replenishers get the tax credit? Thank kind of personal responsibility?

    • Owain says:

      If you mean the earned income tax credit (an Orwellian term if there ever was one), then yes, I agree entirely. Thanks for the example.

      Further, I think the entire tax code should be overhauled so that the 51% of the population who currently pay no taxes get to share in the burden and the responsibility of the current costs of oversize government. If more people had ‘skin in the game’, there would be far less eagerness for an ever expanding size of government, along with ever expanding government spending.

  6. Jan says:

    A couple of points: 1. FEMA does not enter any state unless specifically asked to do so by the governor of that state; and 2. the governor must ask President Obama for a presidential disaster declaration. What Orrin Hatch does nor doesn’t do has little or no bearing on what happens, his political posturing notwithstanding.

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