Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Big Liquor Law Flip-Flop

[Liquor Laws, Again] While driving to work this morning, I heard Salt Lake Tribune political reporter Robert Gehrke  on KSL radio's Doug Wright Show. Wright had invited Gehrke to defend his reporting on this story, dated Feb. 3. Why? Because the night before, on KSL's Nightside Project, Senate President Michael Waddoups did a 180-degree reversal on his earlier position supporting a bill to establish a statewide database of information culled from bar patrons' drivers licenses. 

Waddoups told Nightside Project co-host Ethan Millard the notion of scanning bar codes on drivers' licenses and storing personal data on people for law enforcement purposes is something "we're not even talking about yet," and that "no one's even buying into it at this point."


It was a complete flip from his comments two days earlier to the Trib's Gehrke. In that interview, Waddoups discussed the possibility of even extending the data base to restaurants--so they could cross-check information with bars and private clubs to help regulate overserving liquor.

When asked about the varying accounts of his position in the Salt Lake media, Waddoups responded: "Let me give you a bit of advice. Don't believe everything you hear in the press."

Today the public learned that both Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, and Waddoups have dropped their as-yet unwritten proposals on establishing a drinkers' database.

With KSL's Wright, Gehrke stood by his work on the liquor law stories, and said he quoted Waddoups accurately earlier in the week. 


What I like most about all of this chaos in the past few days is that the watchdog role of the press on this issue worked. It worked like a charm. Valentine and Waddoups conjured up a very bad idea for a law. Members of the local press found out about it early enough in the legislative session to write about it and write some more. The idea that government would have private information on where citizens choose to spend their legal, free time on some database gave people the creeps. It enraged them. Because if there's one common thread between the left and the right, it's that government has no right to snoop into people's personal lives while they're behaving legally.

This is exactly how the press is supposed to do its job. The legislators saw this thing for the potential quagmire it is. They flipped. (BTW, Waddoups has a record for doing so on liquor laws.) Thank god it happened early in the session, when citizens could actually express their rage with it all. Otherwise, we'd have the thing crammed down our throats.

One final note: Gehrke is one of the most thorough and professional reporters in this state, and it's quite clear that Waddoups hung him out to dry. (Holly Mullen)


  1. Now if we could quiet Gayle Razika. I got sick last night watching her with Sen. McCoy. This old hag makes my ass ache.

  2. Hopefully, it will turn out to be that Gehrke hung Waddoups out to dry. Waddoups, a liar? It's something of much more worthy report.

  3. maybe they'll end up wanting a database to see how many people take shits in public restrooms. I am so glad we have reporters to keep these bullshit artists honest.

  4. But could it be that some reporters simply over-reacted to some comments made by a few legislators?

    Perhaps all the Chicken Littles who write these stories should check their facts first and clearly state the status of such legislation before they announce that the sky is falling down.

  5. Shoot, I was hoping they would put me in their database so I could get all those coupons for free booze from the liquor vendors they would be sure to sell my name to.

  6. I doubt that a reporter is going to ruin his career and reputation, he just happened to report something that has the public's attention...legislators count on people to not pay attention to politics, so that they can push their agenda without a lot of controversy.

  7. It is good to hear that Waddoups has now flip-flopped on this at the moment, but I am sure the legislature will find some other way to follow their pattern of "1 step forward, 2 steps back" legislation regarding Utah liquor laws.

  8. This spin about a "flip flop" by the legislators is just a reporter's way of covering her own mistakes.

    Not only did reporters for the Tribune report the ID program as imminent, but Holly Mullen of this paper vented her spleen over it as well.

    So now that we discover there was nothing to it in the first place, the reporters are quick to invent a cover up for their own errors.

  9. The part that gets me is how much energy has been poured into using this as an example to not trust the press.

  10. I'm sure the flip flop is due to certain church goers worried about the bishop finding out...than it is about the enormous infringement of our rights to fucking privacy

  11. I agree with previous post. Some people are worried that others will find out that they are a church goer and still drink, im surprised that they don't have a database at starbucks, to figure out which church goer is legally drinking caffeine... It is an infringment on our rights!


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