The Gerrymandering Post – Part 2

Yesterday in Part 1, I wrote that Utah shouldn’t get its hopes up for an additional House of Representatives seat after the 2020 Census. After completing some additional number crunching this morning, I have confirmed that to be true, with Utah’s projected 2020 population appearing about 200,000 citizens short of making the cut for a fifth congressional district. So unless Utah’s growth rate dramatically increases because California falls into the ocean, we will probably be stuck at four Representatives until 2032.

At the end of yesterday’s post, I teased a bit what this post was going to be about, which is what I view as the major criticism of the gerrymandering argument, at least as it applies to Utah. The argument by many “anti-gerrymandering” types is that the Democratic Party is vastly underrepresented by our elected officials, both at the federal and state levels. This post will focus primarily on the federal offices, primarily Utah’s four congressional districts, and I hope to illustrate that gerrymandering should be the much lower on the priority scale. Continue reading

The Gerrymandering Post – Part 1

Note: I was just going to do one post, but instead of making this one post a 2,000 word monstrosity, I’m going to break it into at least two posts instead. This post will cover (re)apportionment and the Census, while Part 2 will talk more about gerrymandering and other reasons why Democrats are underrepresented in Utah.

Gerrymandering in Utah is something that has been on my mind for a while, and I go back and forth on writing to actual put my thoughts down about it because I personally don’t think it is the reason why Democrats fail to get representation in our state, at least at the federal level. There may be a case to be made at the state level, but as I will cover in a bit, it may not be that big of a problem there either. Nevertheless, a certain political candidate seems to make it a big issue every time they open their mouth to talk about the uphill climb they will have while running against a Republican incumbent in a pretty solidly “red” Congressional District – Utah’s CD-3, currently represented by Jason Chaffetz. I hope this post can illustrate why gerrymandering is not as big a problem as they and other candidates seem to think.

First, a quick tutorial on gerrymandering:

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13 Reasons Why – A Review

Note: This post contains mild spoilers from the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” as well as some talk of suicide and sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised.

“13 Reasons Why” is the latest Original Series from Netflix. Based on the novel of the same name, the series begins after the “unexpected” suicide of high school junior Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) and follows Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) after he receives a box of 13 tapes anonymously. The tapes outline the “13 reasons why” Hannah committed suicide, with Hannah narrating 13 distinct events, perpetrated by classmates and others, over the previous year that led to her taking her own life.

The subject person of each tape has listened to the series and passed them on to the next person, mainly because of unspoken consequences enforced by Tony (Christian Navarro), a friend of Hannah’s with promises to keep. Whereas the previous recipients of the tapes had simply listened and passed them on, Clay takes a special interest in the tapes in an effort to eliminate some of his own feelings of loss over the death of Hannah, but also in an attempt to hold the others accountable for their actions. This doesn’t make him very popular with the other folks on the tapes, who pressure him to just get through them and get to the end and put it all behind him. This culminates in a conclusion that is just, yet open-ended enough to potentially lead to future seasons of the show. The true fallout is just beginning to be felt by the end of the 13th episode, and many loose strings are left untied.  Continue reading

Let’s Talk About the Trump Tax Return

Just in case you’ve been living in a cave without internet or access to Twitter for the past 18 hours or so, a copy of President Donald Trump’s Form 1040 from 2005 was somehow made available, with the first reporting done on The Rachel Maddow Show last night. The return was sent anonymously to the home of journalist and professor David Cay Johnson, who made the return available on his website and discussed what the return means on air for over an hour. There are plenty of takes out there on the coverage of this media “event,” and I don’t really want to rehash that right now. What I’d like to talk about is what this return actually says about Trump’s finances – at least what we can parse from this actual 1040 – and what it means in the grander scheme of things surrounding our president.

As a means of disclosure and why you might want to read this from me, I don’t claim to be an expert on taxes. I am currently a student completing a Masters of Accounting with a Taxation emphasis from Southern Utah University, and I own and operate a very small tax business – RonStel Financial – that prepares tax returns every year for a (small) group of loyal clients. I hesitate to mention that, but I also don’t want anyone to read this to think that I’m just a crazy person ranting on the internet like I usually do. Taxes are a passion of mine, and in a perfect world, would be the way that I earned my living. There are also plenty of other smarter people about taxes out there that can fill in some of the gaps about what I am going to talk about here, so I urge you to find those sources as well, especially if you want to nerd out over presidential taxes.* Continue reading