I’m speaking now, of course, of the latest blunt head trauma suffered by Gov. Gary Herbert: New legislative audits of the alcohol department and the Radiation Control Board and the Department of Environmental Quality.
First, remember back to 2010 when Herbert had to run to serve out the last two years of former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
Just before that election the Utah Department of Transportation announced (with an uninformed Herbert standing right next to the UDOT executive director) that it had paid the loser in the huge I-15 rebuild in Utah County $13 million so the loser wouldn’t sue over the bidding process.
About nine months earlier several audits showed the initial mismanagement in the DABC, which lead to the then director being forced out and perhaps criminal legal action, as well.
Now comes the latest legislative audits that show the DEQ and the Radiation Control Board didn’t know that Class C radiation waste has been improperly buried in the West Desert’s EnergySolutions site.
This just after Herbert had nominated to the RCB a top executive of EnergySolutions.
Herbert on Wednesday told The Salt Lake Tribune he was postponing that appointee; then later the man stepped aside himself.
Another new audit says that a recently retired DABC executive may have taken improper free lunches and other perks from people he was supposed to be overseeing.
This gives Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Cooke another shot at the question of management of state government by Herbert and his top administrators.
Yet Herbert, who truly is a nice guy, went through the DABC and UDOT firestorms of 2010 unburned.
And one wonders if he can escape these audits in 2012, as well.
Nationally, Republicans are laying at the feet of President Barack Obama every bad thing that has happened over the last four years.
Obama is even being blamed – by Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain – for the deaths of four U.S. State Department employees, including our ambassador, in Libya.
While all the anger by Muslims is over a badly made movie in Los Angeles criticizing the prophet Mohammed.
How is Obama responsible for that?
Well, is Herbert responsible for more mismanagement at the DABC and improperly handled waste by EnergySolutions?
How can Utah Republicans join in against Obama yet deflect responsibility by Herbert?
Now, in talking pure politics, Utahns have not elected a Democratic governor since the late Scott M. Matheson won re-election in 1980.
And Utahns have not voted for a Democrat for president since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
So I don’t see Obama winning here, nor do I see Herbert losing here.
Still, Herbert may well be staggering to the finish line this Nov. 6, rather than sprinting through the tape with his head held high.
And Herbert may well be asking quietly behind the scenes (or maybe not so quietly) why GOP legislative leaders were conducting audits of sensitive state departments with release dates just before the 2012 elections.
I mean, who are these Republican leaders trying to help in this race – Cooke or Herbert?
Yes, Utah state government has been, and continues, to win all kinds of accolades for fiscal good management, the best place to do business, and so on.
But it takes EnergySolutions itself to announce it stored improperly Class C radioactive waste?
It takes another audit to find that a top DABC official, recently retired, was taking free lunches and other goodies from the folks he was supposed to be watchdogging?
There’s an old saying about waiting with baited breath for the other shoe to drop.
In the case of Herbert and bad news just before his re-elections, not only has the other shoe dropped, the whole closet has been tilted and shoes are all over the bedroom.
Not that it will mean much in Republican Utah, whose citizens no doubt will put the GOP gubernatorial candidate in office again come November.