I Am Still Here

“I know without a doubt, I will be there when you meet your end.”

Heather looked me straight in the eye when she said that and I felt the air shake. It was in the early months of our relationship. It has a completely different context now.

Gnostics, dual-slits, Max Planck, flatworms, whirlpools, eleven dimensions, and random number generators. “There are no atheists in foxholes,” and the foxhole I’ve been in over the last year has been so very dark and deep. I would have counted myself more in the materialist camp before my reality exploded, and now it isn’t my imagination has taken over, it is I pity those with no imagination. Believing in only what we can hold is a very small port-hole to look out of.

I faced the fire of the last year without alcohol or drugs. I selected a therapist out of an online line-up not by his qualifications but by the appearance of a bearded lumberjack, he could kick my ass, and kick my ass he did. I scattered Heather’s ashes in her favorite places and where we were supposed to be together. I drove across the country with the dog to celebrate Marlo & Leta at their camp in New Jersey. I found a tribe of people who have lost their partners and loved ones in awful and unexpected ways. Our loss informs us as we prop each other up. I meditated daily and started reconstituting myself from the inside out.

I am still here.

“You are half of me, and when I cause you pain I feel it on this side, over here, the other half of you.” – Heather, January 10th, 2019.

I am still here.

She comes to me in dreams and shows me signs. She is unburdened of the drugs, the alcohol, the depression, and the genetics. I miss the **** out of her, but my life goes on in wondrous and amazing ways. She wants me to live and be happy. She will be there when I meet my end.

If a tree falls

My questions for mayoral candidates continues to be irrelevant, and boy, do I hunger for those halcyon days when I cared so much about city government.

Yes, if you’re wondering, it is awful. Yes, every day sucks. Yes, I’m still getting up, feeding and walking the dog, cleaning the (empty) house, and wondering what just happened to me, and who I am.

I have a lot to be thankful for. I know that. I am grateful, but the searing pain of loss is a constant thunderstorm over the dog putting her paw on my knee to see if I’m OK.

Many suggested I should write. So I did.

Questions for Mayoral Candidates

On April 12th, I emailed/submitted/Facebooked every declared Salt Lake City Mayoral candidate a list of questions regarding issues that are important to me. As of May 14th, I have received three responses, which I have posted below, but as of today, no mayoral candidate has answered a single question. I will continue to update this blog post along with Reddit if I receive any actual answers.

  1. It is commonly known, and felt, that Salt Lake City has an air quality problem. Especially in the winters when the inversion takes effect. What concrete, specific plans do you have to address this? How will you motivate the state legislature to support your goals?
  2. The Inland Port and the new prison are good examples of the state legislature railroading over city interests while ignoring environmental impact. Do you believe anything can be done to reverse these projects, and how will you prevent these kinds of actions from taking place in the future?
  3. How can the city humanely help the homeless, 24 hours a day? Should libraries double as day shelters for the indigent? How can the city treat mental illness and drug addiction properly?
  4. Many cities are abandoning plastic recycling due to Chinese recyclers refusing exports. How can Salt Lake City lead on recycling? How can the city best deal with non-recyclable waste? Do you believe in regulating the use of single-use plastics?
  5. Can climate change can be addressed on a city level? If so, how?
  6. Was the elimination of “Big Trash” days in exchange for “Call and Haul” a positive change?
  7. Is the 300 South bike-lane a work of planning art, or a disaster? How can streets be apportioned safely between cars, bikes, parking, and first-responder services?
  8. The city has owned the historic Utah Theater (formerly Pantages) at 140 Main Street since 2010. Do you believe Salt Lake City needs a grand 70mm-capable movie theater, and if so, where do you place it, if not the Utah Theater? What do you believe should be done with this property?
  9. What is your opinion of The Leonardo? Do you have plans for Library Square?
  10. Are city parking meters intuitive and functional? Do you think paid street parking is viable in the long-term?
  11. Do you believe a vibrant and functioning downtown is vital to Salt Lake City? How will you prevent institutions like Lambs and Cinegrill from closing in the future? How will you encourage local businesses to locate downtown?
  12. I believe the Ben McAdams (while working for Mayor Becker) $100M+ financing of the Eccles Theater should have gone to vote. What project threshold do you believe requires voter approval?
  13. Is historic preservation important for retaining the character of a city? When does historic preservation override development?
  14. Is the drive for residential density with six-storey apartment complexes good for the long-term health of Salt Lake City? What will you do to make housing affordable?
  15. What incentives are appropriate for property developers to conduct business in Salt Lake City? What will you do to prevent development disasters like the Granite Furniture hole and the stalled structure on 253 S State Street?
  16. How independent of the city should the Redevelopment Agency be? Should they retain their own coffers separate from city budgets?
  17. Mayor Becker heralded the arrival of Google Fiber to Salt Lake City in 2015. Four years on, coverage is poor, expansion is slow, and Google is pulling resources from other cities. How can Salt Lake City get to 100% fiber-optic coverage that allows robust competition between Internet Service Providers?
  18. Mayor Biskupski has not responded to my questions regarding signing onto the Open Internet Pledge. Until there is robust ISP competition, do you believe in protecting Net-Neutrality?
  19. Recently, a major snowstorm knocked out power for much of the city due stringing lines overhead. How can we protect this necessary infrastructure?
  20. What is an appropriate limit, of their own money, for a candidate to spend in this mayoral race? What is the appropriate contribution limit for individuals to give to a candidate? Do you agree or disagree with the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United?
  21. While Stan Penfold represented my council district, I emailed him a number of times on city issues. He never responded. Many of you do not have email addresses on your campaign websites, instead relying on a restrictive form for input, or nothing at all. How will you utilize technology to stay in contact with city residents?
  22. Penfold, Dabakis, Garbett, and Ibarra all thought enough of their campaigns to subscribe me to their email lists without asking first. What is your opinion of unsolicited email sent by political campaigns? Have you ever used political robocalls? Are you working with consultants or agencies who have ever used political robocalls or unsolicited email?

April 18th, Erin Mendenhall:
Hi Pete! I’m working on typing my answers and I’ll get back to you soon. Thanks for reaching out!

April 22nd, David Ibara:

Thank you for your questionnaire. Over the last three months, I started my campaign meeting with community leaders and residents. I have attended at least one of each of the community council meetings. I have met with most of the community council chairs and walk their neighborhoods to listen and learn. We have knock on 44,000 homes and had 10,000 conversations. I believe good solutions start with meeting as many people as possible and asking what issues are important to them. As a leader and problem solver it is important to me – to gain an understanding before developing a course of action and plan. This rule has served me well in my performance improvement work in the hundreds of companies that have engaged my services to fix and/or improve the performance of their companies.

I am able to answer most of the questions you have asked but there are several that I simply cannot at this time. And there are a couple that I would not, by design, complete to a “concrete specific plan” stage without enlisting the specialize knowledge Team Leader to help complete the how and when details. It has been my practice to create the purpose (Why or Goal) and then develop the Specialize Talent Team and then create the “concrete specific plans”. I believe it is important for every leader to know what specialize skills/talent are needed in order to create and finalize their action plan and path. I have spent a career doing just that. One could take my belief as me side stepping an answer but I firmly believe it is a good leadership characteristic.

I am working 70 plus hours a week campaigning and developing my platform. I have resigned from 90% of my duties from the four companies I own. Offering my leadership skills and talent to improve Salt Lake City (my home town) is my top priority. I look forward to answering you questionnaire as soon a I can.

Pete – my personal cell number is [deleted] and my personal email is [deleted]. Please feel free to call me anytime between 7:00 AM and 11:00 PM.

May 10th, Jim Dabakis:
Hi Pete,

Thanks for the thoughtful questions.

While this link won’t answer all of your questions Jim has published a series of white papers on many of the topics you listed: https://www.dabakisformayor.com/issues

He is doing a regular podcast that goes into some of these issues and will be posting video addressing these issues as well. In addition, he will be on Facebook Live over the next few weeks, speaking topic by topic, taking questions, and going deep on solutions.

Jim (and his team) are working to understand and craft solutions to the varied issues addressing Salt Lake citizens. We’d love to have your support. If you’d like to meet with Jim, let me know and I’ll line something up.

Sara Urquhart
Campaign Manager



I remember her waking me up while I was in my sleeping bag. My mother sat on the edge of my motorhome bunk and looked out the window with a cup of tea in her hand. She told me the lunar eclipse had started. I peered out and saw a blurry red shadow move over the face of the moon. In her company, she showed me the rocks that came back from the first mission to the moon, Comet Kohoutek, Halley’s Comet, and many partial, but never full eclipses. My mother opened the sky to me.

I had known about the total eclipse of 2017 for what seemed like all of my life. On that date, I knew I would be there to see it, no matter the cost or the struggle. I was hesitant to make any reservations prior to the week before August 21st, because I didn’t want to be sitting under a sky of clouds while it happened. Last Thursday, I was made aware of a rancher who had cut up his fields into lots for cars, tents, and recreational vehicles. His property included an extinct volcano that provided excellent views of not only the sky but the horizon. I wanted see as much as I could when it happened. The location in Menan, Idaho had a forecast of 1% chance of cloudiness in the days before the eclipse. I secured my reservation on Thursday the 17th.

The 1973 Superior Motorhome that I used and painted for my 2006 campaign had reverted back to its sky blue color and was mostly functional. I had taken it on trips to Moab and Zion National Park and aside from a broken water heater, which had since been repaired, it fared well. Although the drive from Salt Lake City to Menan was only 3.5 hours, I planned to leave 24 hours in advance to make certain nothing was left to chance. Frankly, my biggest fear was congested traffic. My fears were misdirected. Outside of Brigham City, the mothorhome transmission started to slip. I pulled over to the side of the road and my sister and I went across the freeway and loaded up on transmission fluid. As I was walking back, I noticed the drip and splash of fluid on the road leading up to the back of the vehicle. It was as if the beast had been harpooned in its underbelly. Nevertheless, I filled the transmission with fluid and an additive that supposedly stops leaks and it shuddered back into service. Ten miles later, it gave up again.

I stayed with the motorhome until the tow truck arrived, while the other adults went back to Salt Lake City to fetch cars to make the journey. Six hours later, we were all back on the road to Idaho again.

The next morning, I packed up the tent in anticipation of a quick evacuation. As soon as the the moon started to move over the sun, we all started the hike up the side of the volcano. At the top, we found a secluded edge overlooking the valley with a prominent view of the sun. Then over the course of an hour we counted down and took pictures.

In the final ten minutes, the northern part of the valley had an ominous darkness that was closing in on us. The temperature dropped, and the birds stopped flying. From the top of the volcano, we couldn’t hear any insect or animal activity. The sun went from a crescent to a sliver to an edge. In the final ten seconds, the crowd of about a thousand people started to count down. We looked through our solar glasses for the Bailey’s beads and watched the sun disappear into darkness. With the glasses on, it was as if we were blindfolded.

As I lifted the glasses to view the total eclipse I gasped. The tears streamed down my face and I grabbed my gaping mouth. Never had I witnessed such beauty. The sky was an alien blue grey, and the horizon was illuminated with a sunset-like glow in all directions. I saw no stars, and Venus was the only planet that peeked out of the firmament. I was transported and transformed. Like I was staring into the sun’s soul and it was staring back at mine. All the complications, heartbreak, struggles, and complaints of life gave way to simply being alive. Simply feeling the amazing fortune of being on an isolated planet, in an isolated solar system, in an isolated galaxy that has the perfect mathematical ratios between its moon and the distance to the sun to present such a spectacle. The audience on that hill had similar reactions as you could hear them joyfully proclaiming their astonishment along the mile long ridge. Their humanity was palpable and overwhelming. For a short period, we were one, not only with each other, but with the planet and the universe.

I continued to watch until the sun exploded out of the edge like a diamond ring. The earth regained its normal appearance quickly.

There is no comparison that a total eclipse has with a partial eclipse. Yes, you may have seen 90%, but the totality is not 10% more, it is a million, billion times more. The light of the sun’s corona left my spirit opened and bare.

My mother died in 1990 having never seen a total eclipse. If you are reading this and you are alive, you had a chance that she didn’t. People told me they weren’t going because of traffic, work, school, and that they had a bad week prior. These aren’t reasons, they are excuses. After what I witnessed, I would walk the 200 mile distance sick and naked to see it again. If you didn’t see it this time around, and you get another chance, don’t let it slip by. It will stay with you forever.

Defending Free Speech vs. Giving you a Megaphone

As the Internet was taking off and organizations were coming to grips with its openness, I had a few customers and organizations that were under consistent attack. I was repeatedly asked to kick them off XMission because of their thoughts and ideals. This ranged from someone who was exposing the Church of Scientology, to an organization that advocated for preserving Utah wilderness, to The Best Page in the Universe. My response to everyone who asked me to do this was that if they wanted an account to broadcast their opposing opinion, I would give them one too.

In recent days, the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer lost hosting from from GoDaddy and protection from Cloudflare. They then tried to find hosting in Russia, but it appears they have been blocked there too.

I would have refused them service as well.

The famous quote “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” which has been attributed to Voltare, but is actually an English female author, Beatrice Evelyn Hall, has guided me in the past on these decisions. However, I may defend your free speech, but if I sell you access or a website, I’m giving you amplification and a megaphone on the Internet.

I will not support such blatant hate through XMission. American ideals and blood (and a whole lot of Russian blood) is what defeated the Nazis in World War II. It is a stain on our nation that there are American idiots who revere Adolph Hitler and flap their arms in the air. The only response is rejection.

Turncoats and Tilting at Windmills

Yesterday, one of my Facebook friends angrily denounced Indivisible Utah as being turncoats. This was due to a recent meeting or announcement that they were going to support moderate Republicans. Want to know a secret?

I agonized over the same idea.

My belief is that Democrats will not elect a candidate to statewide office over the next twenty years. It doesn’t matter how well financed, how well organized, how well spoken, or how robust or fair their platform is, I do not believe a Democrat can cross that line in Utah. After being rejected by the Democratic party when I ran in 2012, I felt the next logical step was to try running as a Republican. After all, who can argue with an automatic 40 point boost just because you’re in God’s party? I rationalized this by looking at the great Republican presidents. Abraham Lincoln, of course, who abolished slavery against industry interests, advocated for women’s suffrage, and held the union together. Theodore Roosevelt, who busted up monopolies and trusts and spoke truth against power. Dwight Eisenhower, who initiated the largest infrastructure project in our nation’s history, the Interstate Highway system, and warned us against the military industrial complex. Even Ronald Reagan holds my admiration for striving for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. These Republican presidents shared my ideals, why couldn’t I share their party?

When I ran in 2006, one of the first people I talked to was former Representative Bill Orton. I asked him the same question. Why run as a Democrat? Why not just give in and make it easy on yourself, and run as a Republican? His response was typical Bill, “I couldn’t get myself clean in the morning.” “I couldn’t get the stink off my body.”

In the end, I have decided not to switch parties. My mother, who was an avowed Democrat for all of my life, and did things like wear T-Shirts with the dictionary definition of “Liberal” to the ward 4th of July breakfasts, would have never forgiven me. I was reminded of her persistence when I saw the documentary Political Animals. It is about the first four open lesbian women elected to the California legislature in the early 1990’s. Throughout their tenure, they were the vanguard for LGBT equality laws in California. Although every law they fought for was not easily won, they persisted, they worked, and they endured harassment, ridicule, and threats to advance justice for all. Their efforts undoubtedly caused a ripple effect throughout the nation for equality. How would our country be different if they had given into cynicism?

Why waste my money on a candidate that will inevitably lose? I know that answer better than most. The money that was spent on my campaigns was not wasted. It changed minds. I remember one incident at a Heber City Rotary meeting. It was well after most people had filtered out of the restaurant, when a man returned back in. He told me that he was driving back to work, and one thing I said had stuck in his mind. I asserted, and I still assert, that it is not the business of government to be regulating marriage. Aside from my belief that it should only be available above the age of 18, consenting adults shouldn’t be told by the government whether they can marry or not. The man returning to the restaurant came back to thank me for that perspective. It had changed his mind. Tiny stones can make large ripples. Giving into cynicism does nothing but create bitterness.

Since reaching this conclusion, I’ve supported a number of Democrats running in Utah and elsewhere. Want to know another secret? If you ask, I give. It may not be much, but it is something. In 2006, I received a check for $7.50 from a 90-year-old woman in New Jersey who told me she was living on social-security. She said she supported Democrats all over the country because she believed in the fundamental ideals of the party. The fundamental ideals that were espoused by Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. In spite of the catastrophic failure of the national Democratic party and the lack of wins locally, these ideals still ring true.

I will continue to fight for them.

Marriage Equality

In 2012, I was defeated in convention by a man who refused to stand up for an individual’s right to marry whom they wish. The Democratic candidate for governor in the same year also had the same stand. In this week, we have also seen Utah’s only Democrat in congress announce he would not seek another term. Jim Matheson has also shied away from marriage equality, and voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, of which a key provision was struck down by the Supreme Court earlier this year.
For many years, I’ve been dismayed to see prominent Democrats cower and waffle when faced with the marriage question. Before the tide began to change in this country, when I ran in 2006, I was unapologetic in my support for individual marriage liberty. I asserted that demanding marriage licenses on a very private decision was not only wrong, but a benefit only to insurance companies as to whom you could claim as a partner.
What the court upheld this week was not an infringement on religious practice, but an affirmation of individual freedom. I hope that now and in the future, anyone seeking office, of any party, will stand for the rights of the individual and not fear saying so.

Anti-UTOPIA House Bill 60

To the members of the House Government Operations Committee,

We the undersigned believe that HB60 is a bad bill for business for the following reasons.

1) It restricts UTOPIA as an entity from expanding, regardless of whether its member cities are served or not, or whether other cities would like to join. This is a punitive effort executed by the Utah Legislature that takes control away from city members and management.

2) It hobbles one of UTOPIA’s necessary needs to interconnect member cities through backbone service. These fiber optic links currently under UTOPIA ownership allow service providers who may not have facilities in a UTOPIA member city to provide services throughout UTOPIA, increasing member city choice and competition. How are these interconnections supposed to happen under HB60?

3) It limits UTOPIA from collecting funds from potentially high take-rate areas outside member cities. Funds that could otherwise be used for payback of UTOPIA member city debt.

4) It limits UTOPIA from venturing into unincorporated municipalities, with no governing entity that would otherwise join.

5) It is discriminatory against advanced services. Municipal electrical line services are exempt from these restrictions as long as they have been in operation for over 50 years. Fiber optics have only been in broad deployment since the early 1980’s.

6) UTOPIA is under consideration for a dramatic ubiquitous expansion financed by a private entity. This is the wrong time for the Utah Legislature to throw down potential restrictions that could negatively influence their consideration. If the Utah Legislature wishes cities to be enabled to pay off their UTOPIA bonds, they will welcome all potential offers and take a “hands-off” approach.

Pete Ashdown – XMission
David Burr – Sumo Fiber
Randy Cosby – Infowest
Lane Livingston – Fibernet
Dan McComas – Reddit

I Get Letters

Sent to support@xmission.com:

[********@msn.com – Tue Nov 19 11:57:28 2013]:
Well there wasn’t a direct email link to Pete Ashdown so I guess I
have to go through support to reach him. I am letting you know that
I am going to start another petition in favor of dropping Xmission
internet services because their founder and owner supports
pornography. It’s people like you Pete that have the power in our
country to make a difference, but you choose to be a victim.
Pornography destroys lives no different than drug abuse. But I’m
sure you’re a big advocate for free crack Mondays at school lunch
(as long as the parent didn’t block their child In participating).
How ridiculous does that sound? Well that’s what you’re doing by
your principles in your internet service you provide. Wake up Pete
you provide service in Utah, I’m not so sure your participation in
a KSL news article was the brightest idea if you are going to take
the stand that you are.

(Name deleted)

Sent from my iPhone

My response:

Googling “Pete Ashdown” has my website as the second link: https://peteashdown.org/ –> email is on the right side –> pashdown@xmission.com

Freedom isn’t only about doing whatever you want, it is about your neighbor doing something you hate. I support individual freedom and privacy. Two ideals that that are not mutually exclusive.

My policy is to not monitor or police my customers as to what they do on the Internet. XMission cooperates with law-enforcement agencies when they serve us a proper warrant signed by a court, but otherwise we do not monitor, sell, or give access to the government or the NSA so they can monitor your activities on the Internet. That applies to all activities.

If it was technically possible to stop pornography from crossing the Internet, I would use that ability to stop trojans, viruses, fraud, and malware first. Unfortunately, it is technically impossible. No amount of petitions or angry accusations will change that. If you don’t want the potential for porn coming into your house, I suggest you throw your computer in the dumpster. If not, you may also want to dump your email provider, msn.com as well, since their policy is not to monitor or control what their subscribers email. In fact, I don’t know of any email provider who has such a policy because it is technically impossible to enforce.


Pete Ashdown