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Environmentalists, students to present governor with ‘Green Hole’ award

March 25th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

LOGAN—Lisa Tobias works in a recycling center, so presenting Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and state lawmakers with a “Green Hole” Award during Friday’s Save GRAMA rally at the state Capitol was a natural.

Tobias, a December Utah State University graduate, got the idea for the award from the ongoing petition campaign to repeal House Bill 477, a last-minute legislative measure that guts the state’s open-records law, the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA).

Herbert signed that bill, which among other things makes it more difficult for citizens to learn what their elected representatives are doing when they conduct business electronically—online and using government-owned cell phones. The legislature and governor also adopted SB 165, a law requiring citizen petition drives—such as the campaign to repeal HB 477—gather signatures on paper petition forms, instead of using electronic technologies.

“It’s ironic that the Legislature doesn’t want us to access their electronic records, yet we can’t get electronic signatures to repeal bills,” Tobias said “If they don’t think we can trust them, they don’t seem to trust us. They are are forcing us to waste paper in the 21st century.”

Supporters of a movement to repeal HB 477, the restrictive government records law, are trying to gather 95,000 signatures using ink and paper.

The “Green Hole” award creators say Herbert receives the award because he signed SB165, which outlaws e-signatures.

“Because of this,” the group says, “literally tons of paper are being used. HB477 referendum petitioners have said they have printed 6,000 packets of signature sheets. Each packet has 50 pages, which equals a total of 3,000 pounds of paper and the equivalent of about 39 trees.”

Tobias, a December USU graduate in liberal arts, and her friends used materials from a local recycling center to create a “green” wreath, which they hope to deliver to Herbert at today’s anti-HB477 rally at the state Capitol in Salt Lake City. The wreath is created with leaves cut from soda cans and other recycled materials.

Tobias said Thursday that the group hadn’t thought of adding shredded “leaves” of HB477, but “there’s still room to add more” pieces to the green award.

Herbert, stung by national criticism over the changes to the state’s open-records law—which lawmakers apparently concocted during closed caucus meetings during the recent legislative session—has called the Legislature back into special session today to reconsider HB477.

The governor was recently presented with a national “Black Hole” award from the Society of Professional Journalists because of his support of HB477. Herbert has said Utah’s image has suffered because of passage of the law, and this week called for its repeal.

“Last week, Governor Herbert received the ‘Black Hole’ award for signing HB 477,” the group said. “This week he will get the ‘Green Hole’ award for signing SB 165.”


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  1. One Response to “Environmentalists, students to present governor with ‘Green Hole’ award”

  2. By Bee Zee on Mar 25, 2011

    Misplaced prepositional phrase, but otherwise a good and inspiring article: The governor was recently presented with a national “Black Hole” award because of his support of HB477 from the Society of Professional Journalists.

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