‘Gov. Herbert has created his own rock and hard place’ (Rhett Wilkinson, in USA TODAY)

I wrote the following op-ed and it was picked up by USA TODAY:

USA TODAY

Gov. Gary Herbert used the term “let us reason together” when suggesting that the outdoor retailer shows were in the wrong in leaving over Herbert and Utah politicians’ land grab efforts.

One must wonder if he realized that Utahns might find it reasonable for the shows to leave given that the land grab efforts, in one case, would have cost $14 million (a lawsuit); in another, was not considerate enough of tribal concerns (the Public Lands Initiative); and in a third, were trying to undo something that had already been done (a resolution to President Trump — from a different level of government — to rescind former President Obama’s Bears Ears designation) when that act of undoing (reversing national monument designations) has never even been done before.

Or at the least, Herbert realized that Utahns would frown on a major economic driver leaving town, one that brought 40,000 visitors and $45 million to the state each year.

The cards against him, Herbert did what tyrants have done: Deploy religious rhetoric to manipulate deep convictions for political gain. “Let us reason together” comes from Isaiah 1 of the Judeo-Christian world and a form of that phrase is found in Mormon scripture (D&C 50). Surely, he must have known that even if Utahns generally weren’t going to absolutely hammer him, the highest-profile and most influential of business leaders would.

This must certainly include Scott Anderson, the Zions Bank CEO, so powerful in Utah that he may as well be another powerful politician. But Anderson is also a devout Latter-day Saint — those close to him have said that he will leave his Zions post only after he is assigned as an LDS mission president. Anderson runs a bank that has had church association.

Gary Herbert trying to manipulate the Scott Andersons. Boy. I’d say that’s sad for Herbert, except in his policy approach and communications on this affair, he created his own rock and hard place.

Rhett Wilkinson lives in Centerville. He was a staffer on Herbert’s 2012 re-election campaign and interned in the governor’s communications office.

Maher’s Mormon motive? My question in The Salt Lake Tribune

maher

Self-proclaimed secularist celebrity Bill Maher said that he would become Mormon if Mitt Romney became president. Why did he say that?

As I wrote in The Salt Lake Tribune:

“Bill Maher said that he would consider becoming Mormon if Mitt Romney was president. Convenient that he said that on the eve of performing in Mormon haven Utah. Get the crowd invested?

Rhett Wilkinson

Centerville”

Political burnings in Utah: check out what happened, live-tweet style

(Twitter: @rhettrites)

Would you like to know what happened at the

– Village Square Utah “Climate on Climate” “Living Room Conversation?”
– Utah climate change resolution in a House committee?
– Mental health rally at the Utah Capitol?
– Food tax press conference from Crossroads Urban Center?
– Utah’s Trailblazing Women event?
– Standing Rock eviction rally at the City & County building?
– HEAL Utah/Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment clean air meeting at Westminster College?
– Envision Utah public feedback forum at Thanksgiving Point?
– HEAL Utah annual board meeting?
– Salt Lake Oasis event in which folks heard Mormon Stories founder John Dehlin’s confessions?
– Committee hearings on Utah bills that arguably handcuff OBGYNs, would “ban the box” for convicts looking for work and remove weapons out of the hands of domestic abusers?
– Decriminalization of polygamy rally at Utah’s Capitol?
– U.S. Army general presentation for a Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy lecture?

All of this happened in roughly the past two weeks, and I live-tweeted at each!

I would share screenshots of my live tweets at these events, but WordPress isn’t letting me.

So, I invite you to check out @rhettrites on Twitter to learn what happened!

Thank you!

Rhett

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I heard them on NPR. Then I realized: I’d interviewed all of them myself.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CeKFELjWwAEByzK.jpg

This guy, a top business executive in America, joined a U.S. senator and former CIA director as stakeholders I have interviewed in the past and now have enjoyed attention on National Public Radio or an affiliate. (Traeger Grills)

A whole lot has been written about Jeremy Andrus since the turn of the calendar year, what with his success leading Traeger Grills after building Skullcandy. (Read: for example, he was named the Utah Business CEO of the Year after being featured in Forbes.)

I’ll humbly say that I was one of the first to report on his leadership of the innovative grill company, when its global headquarters were established in one of the cities that I covered as a reporter for a Salt Lake City-based newspaper.

That was just the beginning in terms of folks I have interviewed who have recently rode the biggest airwaves.

Andrus was referenced last week in a story by the National Public Radio affiliate of Salt Lake. I also enjoyed hearing on NPR last week from Leon Panetta and Steve Daines. Panetta is the former is a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and Daines is a U.S. senator. It was awesome for me to realize that I had interviewed all three just more than a year apart in my journalism career.

I would share the Panetta and Daines stories, but they are archived only in print. But here’s the digital Andrus story:

Company led by former Skullcandy CEO moves global headquarters to Sugar House

By Rhett Wilkinson

Traeger Pellet Grills is about creativity. So is Sugar House.

But the commonality is merely one reason why the counter-culture city is a “great place” for the innovative grill company to relocate its global headquarters, a Treager executive said.

“Traeger is an outdoor cooking brand, and outdoor cooking, by nature, is about creativity and in particular, the outdoors,” Vice President of Marketing Sean Laughlin said. “We felt that Sugar House is a great place for us to be located based upon the diversity, the creativity, and the value placed in outdoor spaces that this neighborhood provides.”

The company made the move from Portland this week into a 28,000-square foot location in the 1215 Wilmington Building, where more than 100 employees will be based, according to a press release.

The decision-maker was Jeremy Andrus, Traeger CEO and former top man at Skullcandy.

“We’re thrilled to be relocating our company’s global headquarters from Oregon to the great state of Utah,” Andrus said. “We’re looking forward to building another great brand right here at home and to being a contributing member of the community. We’ve been hard at work building a new, unique office in Sugar House that will reflect the DNA of our brand and inspire our team and our customers alike. The design concept connects people to our product with elements of reclaimed wood from both of our homes – Oregon and now Utah – fire, steel, and sophisticated electronics.”

Read more at ValleyJournals.com.

Pontifications at Utah’s independent newspaper

city-weekly

I’m admittedly proud to have been featured in the Staff Box for City Weekly, Utah’s independent newspaper, for seven straight weeks. Staff Box usually features commentary on contemporary issues!

Links to other staff comments and companion articles are below:

“What are your plans for January 20?” http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/trumps-words/Content?oid=3583149

“If you got invited to sing at Trump’s inauguration, which song would you perform?” http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/singin-in-the-rain/Content?oid=3579930

“What’s the worst thing that could happen if Utah legalized marijuana?” http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/gone-to-pot/Content?oid=3572461

“What is your New Year’s wish for our country?” http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/voting-in-the-past-election/Content?oid=3566787

“Let’s flip the switch. What would you gift Santa Claus?” http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/odds-and-ends/Content?oid=3561173

“Who would you award a Nobel Prize to and for what?” http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/ignoble/Content?oid=3553987

“What would you give President-elect Donald Trump for Christmas?” http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/im-dreaming-of-a-white-supremacist-christmas/Content?oid=3548801

I wrote press releases about Linda McMahon. Now, she leads U.S. Small Business Administration

linda-mcmahon

Linda McMahon, presidential appointee and someone I promoted. (Twitter)

Linda McMahon has been selected by the president-elect as head of the United States Small Business Administration. I am proud to say that, thank you to contracting with Linda Rawson’s Big Sexy Words, I wrote and edited press releases about her and her organization, Women’s Leadership LIVE. In October, he spoke in Utah, where I live and work, as part of the initiative.

Here’s the release I edited:

womens-leadership-live

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 6, 2016

CONTACT: Linda Rawson, 801-791-9222, linda@bigsexywords.com  

Women’s Leadership LIVE reels in a Shark for Salt Lake City

Women’s Leadership LIVE (WLL) is excited to announce that Kevin Harrington, an original Shark Tank Investor, will moderate WLL’s Success in a Dress, Shark-Tank business pitch event showcasing women inventors and entrepreneurs presenting their products and businesses as part of THE Different CONFERENCE©. The event is hosted by WLL’s founders Linda McMahon, Stacey Schieffelin, Debbie Saviano, distinguished panelists and, of course, Kevin Harrington!

So join us Oct. 13-15, 2016 in Salt Lake City, at Women’s Leadership LIVE’s THE Different CONFERENCE©. We’re committed – and we’re in this TOGETHER! We hold one another accountable as we evolve in ways that allow us to become unforgettable. We like to think differently and grow with optimism. When women support each other, incredible things happen.

For more information go to www.WomensLeadershipLIVE.com and hit Register Now.

Attend WLL’s Salt Lake City event, where you can submit your company and product. Then, listen to the four finalists, chosen from all Salt Lake City entries, give their four-minute pitches.  The panel and audience will determine which of the four finalists or companies they believe has the most thought-out plan and potential for long term success! The winner will receive a cash award and one-on-one time with a CEO who built a publicly traded Billion Dollar Business and the opportunity to appear behind the scene. Also, you can be a guest on a LIVE TV shopping channel set and learn how to multiply your Personal Return on Influence (ROI) from an acclaimed Social Media Strategist.

About Women’s Leadership LIVE

Women’s Leadership LIVE (WLL) creates a place for learning, collaboration, guidance and understanding called THE Different CONFERENCE©. WLL’s attendees are business leaders who get things done – inspired and empowered women who are catalysts for change. Those who won’t settle for less and stand in their power with the will to persevere in business – and in life. The CEOs are Linda McMahon, Stacey Schieffelin and Debbie Saviano. McMahon is the co-founder and former CEO of WWE. Schieffelin a former FORD model and founder of ybf (your best friend) beauty, #1 selling color cosmetics line offered on TV shopping channels worldwide. Saviano is a former school principal turned social media strategist. They have created a space for women to connect, learn, and thrive. www.WomensLeadershipLIVE.com

About Kevin Harrington

Kevin Harrington has been a successful entrepreneur over the last 40 years. He is an Original Shark on the ABC hit and Emmy winning TV show “Shark Tank.” He is also the Inventor of the Infomercial, As Seen On TV Pioneer, Co-Founder of the Electronic Retailers Association (ERA) and one of the founding board members of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). Kevin has launched more than 20 businesses that have grown to more than $100 million in sales each, has been involved in more than a dozen public companies and has launched more than 500 products, generating more than $5 billion in sales worldwide with iconic brands and celebrities. Kevin has extensive experience in business all over the world, opening distribution outlets in more than 100 countries worldwide. His success led Mark Burnett to hand-pick Kevin to become an Original Shark on Shark Tank, where he was filmed in more than 175 segments.

Kevin currently operates a private consulting firm, where he works with companies to increase distribution; analyze electronic retailing opportunities; effectively market on digital, social media, TV, radio, and print; source manufacturing; and to create celebrity relationships. In today’s competitive world, companies cannot operate the way they have in the past because of the advancements in technology and the digital marketplace. Kevin provides the advice and expertise on how to navigate the constant changing distribution and marketing outlets. He also brings his Rolodex and relationships to all companies he works with.  www.kevinharrigton.tv

###

Here are the releases I wrote:

release #1:

 womens-leadership-live

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 6, 2016

CONTACT: Linda Rawson, 801-791-9222, linda@bigsexywords.com  

 WWE founder, former Ford model, acclaimed social media strategist converge on Salt Lake City, championing women in leadership 

What: Linda McMahon, Stacey Schiefflin and Debbie Saviano, three titans all in various industries, will be in the Salt Lake City area in advance of their initiative passing through Salt Lake City as seen in their game-changing organization, Women’s Leadership LIVE.

Where:
Contact Linda Rawson for media availability at 801-791-9222 or linda.rawson@gmail.com

The tour thus far will include Ancestry.com, Thanksgiving Point, Martizcx, Adobe, filming of “What’s Your Story?” with David Muecke at Salt Lake Community College, a dinner and breakfast with influential women in technology and politics, TV spots with Good Day Utah on KSTU, KUED, KRCL, a Holodeck mix-and-mingle and luncheon with Jo Packham

When:
Wednesday through Sunday, Sept. 14-17, 2016

Who:
Linda McMahon, co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE); two-time U.S. Senate nominee
Stacey Schieffelin, former Ford model and founder of ybf beauty, a number one-selling color cosmetics line
Debbie Saviano, former school principal turned acclaimed social media strategist

Background:
Women’s Leadership LIVE creates a place for learning, collaboration, guidance and understanding called THE Different CONFERENCE©. WLL’s attendees are business leaders who get things done – inspired and empowered women who are catalysts for change. Those who won’t settle for less and stand in their power with the will to persevere in business – and in life. Learn more at www.WomensLeadershipLIVE.com.

###

release #2:

womens-leadership-live

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 6, 2016

CONTACT: Linda Rawson, 801-791-9222, linda@bigsexywords.com

WWE founder, former Ford model and social media strategist to champion women’s leadership in Utah, offering press conference at Access Salt Lake

What: Linda McMahon, Stacey Schiefflin and Debbie Saviano, three titans all in various industries, will be giving a press conference at Holodeck in downtown Salt Lake City to announce an initiative to come through Utah’s capital city. They will also be available for media interviews afterwards. The event marks part of their tour of the Salt Lake area with business leaders and media as the co-founders and CEOs of Women’s Leadership LIVE.

Where:
Access Salt Lake (formerly Holodeck)
175 West 200 South, Suite #100
Salt Lake City, Utah 84101

Contact Linda Rawson for media availability at 801-791-9222 or linda.rawson@gmail.com

When:
Thursday, September 15, 2016, 5:30 p.m.

Who:
Linda McMahon, co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE); two-time U.S. Senate nominee
Stacey Schieffelin, former Ford model and founder of ybf beauty, a number one-selling color cosmetics line
Debbie Saviano, former school principal turned acclaimed social media strategist

Background:
Women’s Leadership LIVE creates a place for learning, collaboration, guidance and understanding called THE Different CONFERENCE©. WLL’s attendees are business leaders who get things done – inspired and empowered women who are catalysts for change. Those who won’t settle for less and stand in their power with the will to persevere in business – and in life. Learn more at www.WomensLeadershipLIVE.com.

###

…and media coverage they generated:

daily-herald

Women’s Leadership LIVE comes to SLC (The Daily Herald)

Women’s Leadership LIVE, or WLL, will be held Oct. 13-15 in Salt Lake City. The conference is targeted to business leaders and will include Success in a Dress, a “Shark Tank” business pitch event showcasing women inventors and entrepreneurs presenting their products and businesses. The pitch event will be hosted by Kevin Harrington, an original “Shark Tank” investor.

WLL’s mission is to reflect and amplify the voices of career and entrepreneurial women — to share their stories of risk and success, to chronicle their growing political, economic and social influence and power, to celebrate their triumphs, to provide solutions to their problems and to identify and empower a new wave of women leaders..

This woman was one of many sexually assaulted at BYU. Now she’s a student at rival Utah — and rooted against the Cougars

byu_rape_honor_code

Madeline MacDonald now attends the University of Utah and rooted against her former school, BYU, after the Mormon church-owned school pointed fingers at her after she was sexually assaulted. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Editor’s note: this story was written in advance of the 2016 Utah-BYU football game.
Madeline MacDonald attended Brigham Young University.
Then, she was sexually assaulted at the school.
Now, she goes to the University of Utah.
So she’ll be wearing red this Saturday, as the Utes and Cougars clash in football in Salt Lake City.
So will her family. It is a rather big change for them considering that her mom sang the Cougar fight song to MacDonald in their Seattle home, to wake her for school.
“You know that part where they sang ‘rah, rah, rah, rah, rah, rah — gggoooo… Cougars!?” Madeline asked. “She sang that while rubbing my shoulders.”
The sexual assault revelations from BYU since the spring may be just one reason why this year’s version of the rivalry is the biggest BYU-Utah game in some time. This matchup is the rivalry’s biggest since the Utes showed that they could compete against the Cougars in 1993, according to Jorge Iber, a history professor at Texas Tech University who specializes in United States sports. That year marked when a 55-yard field goal from Chris Yergensen at game’s end concluded a stretch in which Utah, in 21 prior consecutive contests, had lost 19 times. (In the next 21, it won 15.)
 
A conversion
At first, MacDonald thought that the rapists and BYU’s honor code were merely bad apples in the Mormon church-owned school. Then she learned the issues went to the top – even to president Kevin Worthen, who knew about sexual assaults at his school for years but kept quiet about it, she said.
“I didn’t even make it a year before I was sexually assaulted,” she said. “And I thought I was getting this special unique thing (in attending BYU). It was worth going to the school with a program that wasn’t the best for my major or going into a desert – I don’t like deserts – and then I learned like it was anything else.”
MacDonald is especially disgusted that, in her mind, BYU put football over people. Over women, since potential lost funding for BYU over a violation of Title IX rules could inversely affect its athletic programs, including football; over the LGBTQIA community, because of the Big 12’s possible concern about an LGBTQIA non-discrimination policy. BYU does not have one and it may keep them from being invited to the Big 12, one of a handful of titanic football leagues in American known as the Power 5.
“They want the publicity (through football) so that everyone can become Mormons,” MacDonald said. “It was shocking to me… there was no deeper morals. It came to protecting the public image.”
The Washington native transferred to the U. largely because she wanted to stay in the state, where she has a strong support group. She applied late, but the admissions office made special exceptions for her. They almost hung up the phone but pulled an end-around, she said, after she told them her story. Many personnel have helped her with getting as many resources as possible, a major difference from at BYU.
“There, they said ‘wait, wait. We are going to investigate you,” she said. “(At the U.), even people I didn’t know sought where they could help and have really gone the extra mile to see that I’m comfortable at the U., and that’s been really special.”
MacDonald feels bad that the student-athletes in Provo, including Taysom Hill, the starting quarterback who has fought back from repeated serious injuries, must represent a school so problematic.
“It’s funny – it feels so strange to be seeing all of these things on Facebook and not have it be my team anymore,” she said a month after being admitted to the U. “Who cared about the Utes?”