John Thompson lost my vote for mayor of Ogden when he backtracked Wednesday on an earlier promise that his first action, if elected, would be to hold a giant block party. I really liked that idea.
Sadly, at Wednesday's forum, Thompson was just like the other seven candidates for mayor. If elected, he said, he'd meet with the council, coordinate efforts and blah blah blah.
So, sorry: No party.
The forum was at Union Station. The room got really warm and while it is tempting to blame hot air from the candidates, the heat really came from the hundreds of residents packing the place.
The turnout was amazing. Political activism is in the air. Hundreds of people jammed a North Ogden meeting last week over a building to house the city's trucks. Dozens of people are running for office all over the place.
This is odd because, to hear the Tea Party screamers, or some of our legislative representatives, government is evil, does everything wrong and needs to be made so small it can be drowned in the nearest bathtub.
I heard none of that Wednesday night.
People wanted to know what the mayor could do about jobs, business, schools, streets and utilities. They want a wonderful city in which to live and they want to know what the mayor will do to provide it.
They are asking the right questions. Government can't be eliminated. Try and you will fail. Want proof?
Wander over to Nevada's western desert this week and observe the Burning Man festival.
Burning Man started with a bunch of artists on a beach near San Francisco in 1986. It was completely free of law, restriction and regulation.
The event grew, morphed, changed hands and ended up on Black Rock Desert. Attendance bloomed from dozens to the point where, this year, it will have an average daily attendance of 50,000 very weird people, every one of whom hates laws, rules, regulations and restrictions on their freedoms. Pictures of Burning Man show it is a haven of art, nudity and insane public behavior.
Burning Man has a police department, a fire department, a health department, a governing board, a corporate entity that operates year-around and more rules and regulations than Great Salt Lake has brine flies. It even regulates who owns the pictures you take there, and it is not you.
Burning Man is a textbook example of why growth means more rules and more cost.
It started out free, but as it grew, infrastructure and organizational costs expanded exponentially, so the admission -- the tax -- had to go up to pay for all that.
In 1995, with attendance nudging 4,000, it cost $35. This year Burning Man costs $360 a head -- nearly double my Ogden property taxes for the year -- and operates on a $17 million budget, including a $7 million payroll.
Why all the rules and organization?
They allow everyone to be free. Without them there would be anarchy. People would die. The operators, and attendees, know this and accept it.
Which is why attendance at Wednesday's debate in Ogden was so gratifying.
People realize that as we grow as a community, we need more good government, not less. People realize the value of politicians who like government and use it to get something done. We need to be part of government because it is us.
And yet, I still hear some people say they hate government.
Maybe what we need is something like Burning Man: A huge bonfire, a massive party, one giant blowout.