The Salt Lake Tribune
Oklahoma City • Asked pregame about how he would seek to control the Thunder’s pace, Jazz coach Quin Snyder said the key to the game would come down to his players’ ability to limit their own turnovers:
“The thing that’s really significant is us taking care of the basketball. If we turn the ball over, we’re not gonna slow ’em down,” Snyder said. “They force the most turnovers, they have the most steals in the league, and they do a great job of converting them. If that’s the case, it’s gonna be a long night for us.”
Utah committed 19 turnovers through the first three quarters of Monday night’s game at Chesapeake Energy Arena, and the Thunder took advantage, steadily building their lead to 29 points before ultimately cruising to a 122-113 victory.
After winning four out of five, the Jazz have suddenly dropped two straight and are now 13-15 on the season.
It didn’t help, of course, that both Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert were hampered by foul trouble throughout. It definitely didn’t help that no one seemed to have the faintest idea how to slow down OKC’s Paul George, who shot 8 of 10 from the field, 5 of 6 from deep, and 10 of 12 from the free-throw line for 31 points.
Mostly, though, what proved least helpful of all was the Jazz’s inability to not cough up the ball, to not commit a plethora of miscues throughout.
Quin: "We usually weren’t efficient offensively — either didn’t get a good shot or turned it over. … You put yourself behind the 8-ball, and you almost have to be lucky or perfect to get back in the game and win." pic.twitter.com/BKfy5gEUfy— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) December 11, 2018
“We usually weren’t efficient offensively — either didn’t get a good shot or turned it over,” Snyder said postgame. “… You put yourself behind the 8-ball, and you almost have to be lucky or perfect to get back in the game and win. And we didn’t play well enough to deserve that.”
They had six turnovers in the first quarter, and trailed by eight. Then came six more in the second quarter, and the deficit was 11. The third period yielded seven more turnovers, and OKC poured in 42 points and expanded its advantage to 24.
But then, this game went sideways from the outset.
Playing on the second half of a back-to-back set against a tough, physical, energetic Oklahoma City team, the Jazz fell behind 6-0 in the first 1 minute, 8 seconds of action, forcing Snyder to burn a timeout to try and get his team settled down.
Despite that, the Thunder never trailed.
“For the whole game they were like that — aggressive in the passing lanes,” said Donovan Mitchell, who scored a team-high 19 points but also committed a team-high six turnovers. “They started on that 6-0 run and they set the tone immediately. … We obviously responded like we always do, but you can’t give up that many points. You can’t turn the ball over.”
Donovan, on the team's turnover issues vs. the Thunder: "We didn’t play the way we wanted to in the first half. We obviously responded like we always do, but you can’t give up that many points. You can’t turn the ball over." pic.twitter.com/0iO6C0vt2h— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) December 11, 2018
A strong fourth-quarter performance by the bench unit with the game decided wound up boosting Utah’s field-goal percentage to 51.2 for the game, but that was a bit of fool’s gold.
The Jazz made just 8 of 29 attempts from deep — 27.6 percent — in the game, and every positive step was met with a fierce Thunder response.
Center Rudy Gobert, who totaled 13 points and 14 rebounds in 21 foul-plagued minutes, said OKC’s strength, length, and speed defensively proved problematic all night.
“They’re a physical team, they’re a good defensive team. We turned the ball over way too much. Our offense hurt our defense today. They were just more aggressive, more physical,” he said. “… And when you’re not as aggressive as them, they just swallow you up. They feed off those turnovers.”
A bench unit led by Ekpe Udoh’s 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting and Dante Exum’s nine points and three assists made the final score perhaps more respectable than it deserved to be.
Prior to that, though, too many of the little things simply went in the Thunder’s favor.
OKC big man Steven Adams, who finished with 22 points and seven rebounds, snared offensive boards over Gobert on consecutive possessions early in the third quarter. The Thunder converted both times, expanding their lead to 73-58.
That sequence was symptomatic of the whole game for the Jazz.
“Those little things add up, particularly when you turn the basketball over,” Snyder said. “It’s hard to defend against that.”
But an eagle-eyed hiker recognized that the background scenery in both videos may be the view from a popular overlook at Arches National Park — an image on which the exploding rock formations appear to be superimposed.
Meanwhile, multiple experts on southern Utah’s wild lands said they don’t recognize the formations themselves. Officials with the state and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said they are trying to learn if the sites are actually in Utah. And special-effects professionals who reviewed the videos say they were “very convincing,” but they could be digitally manipulated.
The biggest sign of a hoax appears to be the background scenery, which hiker Jamal Green recognized from his many long-distance treks across southern Utah as the view from the Petrified Dunes Viewpoint, just off the main park road at Arches.
“I’m fairly certain that elements of the background are shot from [the viewpoint],” Green said, providing a photo of the scenic view along with stills from the two videos:
(Photo courtesy of Jamal Green) A view from a popular overlook at Arches National Park appears to have been the backdrop for what likely are hoax videos purporting to show Utah rock formations being blown up.
The color is lighter and the image grainier on the video background — and there are elements to the video’s background scenery not in Green’s image from Petrified Dunes. But the silhouette of a landmass in each of the videos closely matches the view at Arches.
A 360-degree video shot from the spot shows neither the arch nor the hoodoos that appear to explode in the videos.
The seemingly-mismatched background scenery is not the only clue that the footage was altered, said Clark Schaffer, who owns Schaffer Studios in Spanish Fork and has worked for major studios in Hollywood, developing special effects for such blockbusters as the “Iron Man" and “Star Trek” movies.
In the hoodoo video, the camera jostles dramatically at the moment of explosion — too dramatically to be a natural reaction since the person holding the camera appears to know the explosion is coming, Schaffer said. That could “hide something in the blur of the motion,” he said.
In the video of the arch, a person's head inexplicably pops into the frame, sideways.
"If I were making an effects shot, I'd include something like that just to make the audience think it's real," Schaffer said.
Christian Madsen, an animation expert who has produced videos for Real Salt Lake and the Utah Jazz, noted the head’s strange path around the frame. He said he suspected the head was a still image “added in [post-production] with poor keyframing in the animation.”
Moments later, the camera bobbles, and the distant background moves a bit too “tightly in sync” with the foreground of the landscape, Schaffer added.
"I just would believe we'd see a little separation from the background mountain to the foreground mountain," Schaffer said.
"Fakers will shoot static on a tripod for easy compositing” — that is, layering video clips into a single image — “and then add camera wiggle in [post-production] to add realism," Madsen agreed.
At the moment of explosion, which appears to involve three charges, the middle charge "is just blasting straight through," Schaffer said.
"That almost seems like it'd need primer cord wrapped around it," he said. "The point of explosion is questionable to me."
The sound of the explosion also is “suspect,” Madsen said. “The report from the explosion is heard at the same time as the rock breaks, and the rubble seems oddly quiet,” he said.
Immediately after the explosion, a puff of smoke at the top of the arch disappears like vapor. And right before the explosion, the lower edge of the arch is “wiggling,” as if the image is affected by heat, while no other part of the landscape is, Schaffer said. Those quirks, he said, could be chalked up to poor image quality.
But that poor quality is itself suspicious, he said.
"It looks like old video," Schaffer said. "With everybody's camera shooting 4K now, I would think this would be a higher quality video. They could be hiding stuff in the poor quality of the video."
That said, Schaffer acknowledged, "If it's fake, it's incredibly done." The attention to the rockfall in both videos appears very natural, he said. The rocks interact with the surrounding landscape, moving shrubs and rolling at different speeds down the various slopes.
“The physics of the explosions and the falling rubble are extremely good,” Madsen agreed. “There is software for simulating rock destruction that’s widely available and fairly easy to use.”
"All that said," Madsen concluded, "I'd wager the videos have a 60 percent chance of turning out to be fake, a 30 percent chance of having been filmed overseas and real, and a 10 percent chance of being on the Colorado Plateau and being real."
Both Schaffer and Madsen said there was an even bigger reason than the characteristics of the videos to be dubious: As of Monday night, it appeared no one had credibly identified either rock formation or their general locations in Utah.
The Salt Lake Tribune forwarded the video to rangers at multiple southern Utah BLM offices, and none could immediately recognize the arch or hoodoos. BLM spokeswoman Kim Finch later said that land managers are seeking input from rangers to try to confirm or rule out Utah’s BLM land as home to the pictured formations.
As the videos circulated online, longtime explorers in the area urgently scanned through desert images, trying to confirm whether Utah's beloved landscape had been marred.
A group of about a dozen photographers, hikers and scientists with extensive travel experience in southern Utah reviewed the footage and could not identify either location. That's surprising, said Austrian photographer Martin Pi, who has captured scores of Utah's desert rock formations over many years of visits.
“The arch does look like it should be more popular ... and with the hoodoo [video], the spire in the background should be quite easy to identify — but it isn’t,” Pi said.
Videos that purport to show the destruction of the arch on the left and the hoodoos on the right recently appeared online.
As so many people with a passion for southern Utah’s desert landscape tried and failed to identify the formations, some doubted the video titles' claim that they were filmed in Utah.
"Someone here would instantly know [the locations]," said Dan Bjugstad, an administrator for the 16,000-strong "Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Adjacent" Facebook group. "We spend entire days hiking to every obscure feature we can find. Someone should know it, if it is down there, and if we don't know it, how the heck did some destructive schmuck get there?"
The origin of the videos also is in question. The arch video was posted Dec. 7 and the hoodoo video on Dec. 9, both on YouTube and on the website LiveLeak.com — and both by accounts that have posted no other videos. On YouTube, a poster under the name “Tobias Muir” claimed there are three videos in total, and that “sensitive information” is forthcoming. On LiveLeaks, a poster under the name desdu23419 wrote four days ago that “this was sent to a big news network this morning and leaked.”
Neither account has reported any updates.
The Utah Department of Natural Resources and Division of Parks and Recreation told FOX 13 that they were also trying to determine the authenticity of the videos, and noted that destroying natural rock formations on public land is a crime.
Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune is a content partner with FOX 13.
Seattle • Bobby Wagner leaped over the line of scrimmage, swatted Dan Bailey’s field goal attempt and sparked the Seattle Seahawks to two late touchdowns.
Whether or not what Wagner did was entirely legal, he frankly didn’t care.
“I’m not stressing about that. I made the play. They called what they called,” Wagner said. “There’s times in games where things happen all the time. I’m not stressing on it. It was a big block and we’ll definitely take it. It was amazing.”
Wagner’s block midway through the fourth quarter was the catalyst in a 21-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night that pushed Seattle to the brink of a playoff berth.
Chris Carson followed the blocked kick with a 2-yard TD run with 2:53 left, and Justin Coleman capped off the Seahawks’ fourth straight victory with a 29-yard fumble return for a touchdown 18 seconds later.
What was an ugly and mostly forgettable first three quarters turned into a Seattle party in the fourth as the Seahawks (8-5) moved to the brink of wrapping up a wild-card spot in the NFC. One win in Seattle’s final three games — including matchups with lowly San Francisco and Arizona — should be enough to put the Seahawks into the postseason.
“It’s really about the defense. I loved the way they played, they played so hard and so spirited,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “It was almost poetic after last week’s game that Bobby would get to block the field goal and he pulled it off and did it. That was an incredible play.”
Minnesota (6-6-1) twice had scoring chances in the fourth quarter when it was still a one-score game but was turned away each time. Minnesota’s chances of winning the NFC North took a major hit with its second straight loss, but the Vikings still hold the No. 6 spot in the NFC.
“Part of it is being better on third downs. We haven’t really done a good job there. Part of it is being better in the red zone,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “We had the ball on the 2-yard line and didn’t score.”
But much of the conversation centered on Wagner’s block of Bailey’s 47-yard attempt with 5:38 left and whether it was entirely legal. Wagner’s jump through a gap in Minnesota’s offensive line was fine, but it appeared he used his teammates to gain leverage, which allowed him to come through and block the kick. A flag was initially thrown but was picked up by the officials.
Wagner, from Utah State, said he attempted it four times in practice without a problem but acknowledged it could be tough to pull off the play during the fourth quarter of a tight game.
“When I did it in practice I was pretty fresh,” Wagner said.
Zimmer said he asked for an explanation of what happened but wasn’t given one. He was told he couldn’t challenge.
“Quite honestly, I didn’t see what happened. I was told what happened,” Zimmer said.
Seattle took possession and Russell Wilson immediately scrambled 40 yards deep into Minnesota territory. Five plays later, Carson scored and Seattle finally had a cushion. Two plays after that, Jacob Martin sacked Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins and the ball popped to Coleman, who weaved his way for the clinching touchdown.
Cousins threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Dalvin Cook with 1:10 remaining, but Seattle recovered the onside kick.
“I feel like all of our losses we, as an offense, we are so slow,” Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen said. “Our defense is keeping us in games. And we’re not pulling our side of the bargain.”
Wilson had one of the worst passing games of his career, completing 10 of 20 attempts for career-low 72 yards and a baffling interception late in the first half, one of the many mistakes by Seattle that allowed Minnesota to hang around. But Seattle’s ground game was outstanding against one of the better run defenses in the NFL. The Seahawks finished with 214 yards rushing, led by 90 yards from Carson.
Sebastian Janikowski hit field goals of 37 and 35 yards to account for all of Seattle’s scoring until the closing minutes.
“If you run it 40-something times, you ought to win. That was pretty good,” Carroll said.
FOURTH QUARTER WOES
Minnesota hung around despite failing to run a play in Seattle territory until there was 4:16 left in the third quarter. Cousins was 20 of 33 for 208 yards, most of that coming late. But he failed to get the Vikings into the end zone from inside the Seattle 5 while trailing 6-0 early in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings had first-and-goal at the Seattle 4 but turned the ball over on downs with 9:06 remaining. Two short runs and an incompletion brought up fourth-and-goal at the 1, and Cousins’ pass for Kyle Rudolph was knocked away by Bradley McDougald. Bailey’s field goal was blocked on Minnesota’s next drive.
Minnesota fell to 0-6 when allowing its opponents to run for at least 100 yards. The Vikings came in to the week giving up 99 yards per game on the ground, good for seventh-best in the NFL. Seattle had 136 yards rushing in the first half.
OTHER CENTURY MARK
Thielen tied Cris Carter as the fastest Minnesota player to reach 100 receptions in a season, both accomplishing the feat in 13 games. Carter did it in 1994 when he finished the year with 122 catches. Thielen is the first Minnesota receiver to get to 100 catches since Randy Moss in 2003. But Thielen didn’t get his first catch until midway through the third quarter. He finished with five catches for 70 yards.
Minnesota: The Vikings return home to host Miami on Sunday.
Seattle: The Seahawks play their final road game Sunday at San Francisco.
Oklahoma City • There are times — such as in the second half of Sunday’s game against the Spurs — that Donovan Michell is so dominant offensively as to be nearly unstoppable.
And then there have been some times this season — such as in the first half against the Spurs — when his struggles to score render him nearly invisible on the court at times.
Ahead of Monday’s game against the Thunder, Jazz coach Quin Snyder said the second-year guard needs to get out of his own head and simply go out there and be aggressive.
“If I wanna analyze it, that’s OK — I don’t want him to do it. And my analysis of it is Donovan just needs to attack and be instinctive,” Snyder said. “And he may make some mistakes, he may take a bad shot now and then, but the way that he’s gonna get better [is] making plays, making reads; his efficiency is if he attacks, and learns from that experience.”
The Louisville product went scoreless in the opening half against the Spurs before erupting for 27 points post-halftime. He got off to another rough start vs. Oklahoma City.
When he checked out for the first time with 3:20 left in the first quarter, he was scoreless on 0-for-3 shooting, and had committed three of the team’s four turnovers to that point.
He got his first points when he buried a halfcourt heave at the quarter buzzer.
Snyder said Mitchell simply needs to quit thinking and start just playing.
“He’s such a diligent, conscientious person that he wants to play well, and he just doesn’t need to overthink a lot of those situations,” he said. “’Cause when he’s attacking, he is unselfish, and he’s doing the right thing, and frankly that’s what our team needs.”
Mitchell did pick it up in the second quarter, scoring 11 points without committing a turnover.
Slow starts, going around
It’s not just Mitchell who’s having trouble getting going early.
After an early-season stretch of tough starts to games, Utah had been better of late. Then they managed just 36 first-half points vs. the Spurs.
Asked what his team needed to do to avoid poor starts, Snyder smiled an gave a succinct answer: “You play better at the beginning of the game.”
He went on to cite several actual specifics — turnovers, transition defense, lack of shot-making.
As for that latter one, reserve guard Dante Exum had some ideas on what the Jazz could do to improve.
“It’s important for us to break the paint, make sure everyone gets touches, make them defend. … I don’t think it’s a lack of aggression, it’s that we settle; we settle for that half-open shot,” Exum said. “… It’s maybe giving up those shots early in the possession so we can find a better shot later in the possession — make them defend even more.”
Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s 122-113 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder from Salt Lake Tribune Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen.
1. Jazz lose all four factors
In Dean Oliver’s seminal work, Basketball on Paper, he introduced the “Four Factors of Basketball Success." These are the four components of the game that go into winning, along with Oliver’s estimates of the relative value of each.Shooting, or effective field goal percentage (40%)Turnovers, or turnover percentage (25%)Rebounding, or defensive rebounding percentage (20%)Free Throws, or free-throw rate (15%)
More recent analysis, including this one done by Justin Jacobs, has suggested adjusting the weights some, to increase the importance of shooting (roughly 45 percent in Jacobs' work) and turnovers (roughly 35 percent) and decreasing the value of rebounding (15 percent) and free throws (about 5 percent).
The factors all play off each other. It may be difficult to get good shots without increasing the risk of throwing a turnover. Good shots are more likely to be offensively-rebounded than bad shots. And when shots are going down, a team is more likely to foul you in the quest to stop the shot.
But when you lose all four factors, like the Jazz did tonight, well, you’re going to have a bad time.
You can see that the shooting percentages were actually pretty close. The Jazz only shot a little bit worse than the Thunder, and ended up only forcing three fewer turnovers than they made themselves. The Thunder beat the Jazz 11-10 in offensive rebounds, and 20-15 in second chance points. And maybe the biggest factor was the least important of the four: the Thunder made 28 free throws, and the Jazz made just 19.
Regardless of the margins involved, the Jazz lost in every facet tonight. Some of that’s to be expected, given the Jazz were playing an excellent team on the second-night of a back to back.
“Some of those things are going to happen, but some of those things are in our control," Snyder said after the game.
You can’t eliminate all turnovers, but maybe you can get 10 percent better from everyone, especially your lead ballhandlers. You can’t completely eliminate offensive rebounds, but maybe you can show more focus on the glass. And you can’t get every call to go your way, but eliminating the mistake fouls can help, as well as being aggressive so you draw more on your side.
2. What Rudy Gobert can and can’t control
There’s no question who won the battle between two of the Western Conference’s premier centers on Monday: Steven Adams did for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Adams scored 22 points and had six offensive rebounds to key multiple big baskets for the Thunder as they fought off Utah in the third quarter.
Again, think about Snyder’s quote above. Right now, there are problems Gobert can control, and ones he can’t.
Early, the problem was Gobert found himself in foul trouble. At first, I was very confused by this call: this looked like a stock-standard over-the-back call on Adams, how did Gobert get the whistle? But look closer. Gobert actually grabs Adams' shorts going for the rebound. It’s a foul, and one Gobert could have avoided. He was in good position, anyway.
Gobert ended up getting a technical in the 3rd quarter. Two plays made him mad:
You can see Adams grabs Gobert’s arms a little, holds him back, and runs past him for the dunk. Now, was that a foul? Yeah, probably! But I get both sides of the argument: if the referees are going to call ticky-tack stuff, they should call it both ways. Regardless, though, Gobert has to play with more force so that he’s not so easily put off by small contact like that. In my opinion, he still could have gotten down court and impacted the play more than he did.
Finally, he gets his fifth foul here:
Adams grabs Gobert’s arm, and drags him to the ground. Foul Gobert. This one is out of his control, though the tech he earned was. (It’s worth noting, though, that courtside microphones caught Russell Westbrook screaming obscenities to the officials in the middle of the third quarter with no such punishment.)
But the Thunder’s third-quarter run came from their success on the offensive glass, and Gobert could have battled harder then, too. This is kind of a weird carom, but Gobert makes it possible for Adams to get the ball by not boxing him out in the first place.
Right now, Gobert seems a little bit too worried about improving the things outside of his control (refereeing) than improving the things he can do something about.
3. Joe Ingles' 3-point attempts down
I feel a little bit badly for my friends in the Jazz’s television broadcast: they’ve had graphics and talking points set up for two games now for Joe Ingles to hit a 3-point shot. After all, his next one will move him into 3rd place over Bryon Russell in all-time 3-point makes for the Jazz, a real accomplishment.
Unfortunately, Ingles hasn’t made any threes over the last two Jazz losses, going 0-2 in both nights. It’s weird, because Ingles has taken at least four 3-point shots in every other game this season, and on consecutive nights, he only takes only two?
I wonder if it’s due to an injury. We saw him re-taping his finger in San Antonio, and while it’s on his off-hand, I wonder if it’s affected the feel of the ball to him, that he doesn’t feel confident shooting as frequently as a result. It also could be simpler: both San Antonio and OKC understand just how important he is to the Jazz’s offense, and so they’ve spent significant defensive resources to shut him down.
It’s a big downer on the Jazz’s offense, though, when he declines to shoot the ball. Ingles is a good rim attacker, yes, but the Jazz are just so unlikely to get a better shot than a Jingles three, especially if it’s open. Without Ingles as a secondary threat, it’s put a ton of pressure on Mitchell to do everything for the Jazz’s offense, and he’s been up and down with that recently.
Millcreek • City leaders voted Monday to terminate a controversial study of blight across key neighborhoods in Millcreek after pushback from residents worried it would create new municipal powers to condemn private property.
Nearly 100 residents and business owners turned out Monday night for what was to be a final public hearing on the blight study, which Millcreek launched in May over a 164-acre area straddling Highland Drive and 3300 South between Highland and 900 East.
The crowd — overwhelmingly opposed by a show of hands to both the study and any added city powers of eminent domain it might have created — erupted in loud applause when the Millcreek City Council voted unanimously to defeat it.
“The witch is dead!” a sympathetic Mayor Jeff Silvestrini told the audience. “Our council has heard you loud and clear.”
Officials with the newly incorporated city south of Salt Lake City considered designating those neighborhoods as disused and needing improvement as part of a larger strategy aimed at encouraging redevelopment of portions of Millcreek and construction of a new downtown center.
The city is also creating three community reinvestment areas — including one focused on Millcreek’s core, along Highland Drive near Brickyard Plaza — in hopes of plowing millions of dollars in tax money into upgrading the new city’s roads, sidewalks and municipal services and creating conditions to encourage private developers to step in.
The blight study, officials said, was one more tool to that end. Under state law, a blight label would have granted Millcreek expanded powers over five years to condemn and buy out privately held parcels, a level of authority that Silvestrini and other officials said would have allowed the city to better help residents and businesses interested in relocating as the city improves.
But several groups of Millcreek homeowners and prominent businesses organized to actively fight the plan, fearing the city’s expanded powers of eminent domain left them vulnerable to being forced out and their properties taken by the city.
Opposition organizer Tina Grant also drew her own round of applause when she and another organizer, Aaron Walker, approached the podium to thank the council for abolishing the study. “I hope this is over and done for good,” Walker said, “and we don’t see another one of these in two years, five years or whatever."
Mike Gibson, representing Tres Hombres Mexican Grill & Cantina on Highland Drive, said since the study began, the well-known Millcreek eatery “felt like we had a big bull’s eye right on our head." He praised city leaders for reversing course.
“On behalf of business owners worried for their lives and homeowners worried for their homes, we thank you,” Gibson said. “We looked forward to working together with a plan that makes everybody happy.”
Some council members on Monday even offered their apologies for putting residents through worries that eminent domain might have left them vulnerable to eviction. City officials only considered using those powers in “rare, rare instances, if at all,” Councilwoman Silvia Catten said. “It was never our intention to take anybody’s property.”
“My sincerest apologies to anyone who has suffered sleepless nights over this,” Catten said.
Councilwoman Bev Uipi urged city staff and elected officials to be more thoughtful in vetting future policy proposals affecting property rights. “Let’s have a conversation and not cause this much heartache,” Uipi said.
Councilwoman Cheri Jackson said if there was “a silver lining” in the dispute, it was renewed evidence of the passion Millcreek residents feel for improving their community. Echoing that, Councilman Dwight Marchant, along with Silvestrini, encouraged residents to stay involved in planning Millcreek’s future, particularly the new reinvestment areas.
“It’s all of our goal to make our city better,” the mayor said. “But when we get told by a majority of people that we’re going in the wrong direction and you don’t like this, thank you for letting us know that. That’s why we’re here.”
With your indulgence, one more story about President George H.W. Bush.
I never worked for him, nor met him nor, certainly, voted for or endorsed him. But the 41st president of the United States was the subject of what is unquestionably the best newspaper headline of all time.
It didn’t write it. The guy one desk over did.
In the spring of 1990, the eyes of the world were riveted on Eastern Europe and what was soon to stop being the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The Berlin Wall had come down, the nations of the Warsaw Pact were slipping through the fingers of the Soviet empire and the whole thing was a little more than a year from total collapse.
Back in the USA, the Washington press corps, usually the center of the media universe, had nothing to match all of that. Except broccoli.
Bush had let it be known that he did not like vegetables, and the he really, really did not like broccoli. And that as a grown man, who also happened to be president of the United States, he did not wish to eat it, smell it or see it anywhere near his dinner plate. The headline in The New York Times of March 23, 1990, with the byline of not-yet columnist Maureen Dowd, " ‘I’m president’ so No More Broccoli!"
Not much point in achieving such power and prominence, after all, if you can’t decide for yourself what you will and will not eat.
The story had legs, at least for a few days. The situation was lampooned on, of course, “Saturday Night Live.” American reporters trying to steal some ink and air time from their rivals in Berlin were chasing down dietary experts to get quotes about how the president was a being a bad influence on the nation’s youth.
Some miles away, Stu Butcher, news editor of The Chanute Tribune, a tiny newspaper in a tiny southeast Kansas town, was putting the final touches on that evening’s front page. All that was left to be done was squeeze a brief headline on that day’s Bush vs Veggies article.
He thought for moment, grinned, and typed, “Broccoli rhubarb mushrooms.”
A lot of folks look at me quizzically when I go on about how wonderful a headline that is. I guess it doesn’t work if you don’t know that “rhubarb” is not just a vegetable, but also slang for a heated argument, usually applied in the context of a baseball game where the manager is kicking dirt on the umpire because he’s really cheesed off about that called third strike. And that, in this case, “mushrooms” is a verb.
It would be a lousy headline for an online article. No search engine optimization going on there. But for print, the point is to get the point into as few characters as possible. A tweet, by comparison, can be huge. And the idea is not to give away the story, necessarily, but pique a reader’s curiosity and draw people into the story.
I loved it.
A year ago, Gov. Gary Herbert dropped by to give us the annual brief on his proposed state budget. As I wrote at the time, I felt a bit used when he wanted to tell an old joke about the supposed uselessness of liberal arts degrees and set me up to deliver the punch line.
"The governor of Utah was going on, as he often does, about the importance of an educated workforce to the state’s economy. Especially, he said, the need for engineers and scientists and coders and diesel mechanics and dental assistants, which creates a need for a lot of state spending on both college-level learning and technical and vocational training.
"Then he looked at me and said, ‘You know what a philosophy major says, don’t you?’
"And I dutifully replied, ‘You want fries with that?’
"Har. Har. Har.
“If I had been thinking faster, I would have said that a true philosopher, tasked with rustling you up a hamburger, would more likely have said, ‘Let me make you one with everything.’”
This week, Herbert came by again. No jokes this time, though. He had just come from the funeral of a local police officer who was killed in the line of duty, so nobody was in a very jovial mood.
So I have another year to work on a better rejoinder. Nominations are welcome.
(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Tribune staff. George Pyle. (Francisco Kjolseth/)
Dear Senate colleagues,
As former members of the U.S. Senate, Democrats and Republicans, it is our shared view that we are entering a dangerous period, and we feel an obligation to speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security.
We are on the eve of the conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and the House's commencement of investigations of the president and his administration. The likely convergence of these two events will occur at a time when simmering regional conflicts and global power confrontations continue to threaten our security, economy and geopolitical stability.
It is a time, like other critical junctures in our history, when our nation must engage at every level with strategic precision and the hand of both the president and the Senate.
We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld.
During our service in the Senate, at times we were allies and at other times opponents, but never enemies. We all took an oath swearing allegiance to the Constitution. Whatever united or divided us, we did not veer from our unwavering and shared commitment to placing our country, democracy and national interest above all else.
At other critical moments in our history, when constitutional crises have threatened our foundations, it has been the Senate that has stood in defense of our democracy. Today is once again such a time.
Regardless of party affiliation, ideological leanings or geography, as former members of this great body, we urge current and future senators to be steadfast and zealous guardians of our democracy by ensuring that partisanship or self-interest not replace national interest.
Max Baucus, D-Mont.; Evan Bayh, D-Ind.; Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.; Bill Bradley, D-N.J.; Richard Bryan, D-Nev.; Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo.; Max Cleland, D-Ga.; William Cohen, R-Maine; Kent Conrad, D-N.D.; Al D’Amato, R-N.Y.; John Danforth, R-Mo.; Tom Daschle, D-S.D.; Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz.; Chris Dodd, D-Conn.; Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.; David Durenberger, R-Minn.; Russ Feingold, D-Wis.; Wyche Fowler, D-Ga.; Bob Graham, D-Fla.; Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.; Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; Gary Hart, D-Colo.; Bennett Johnston, D-La.; Bob Kerrey, D-Neb.; John Kerry, D-Mass.; Paul Kirk, D-Mass.; Mary Landrieu, D-La.; Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.; Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.; Richard Lugar, R-Ind.; Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.; Ben Nelson, D-Neb.; Sam Nunn, D-Ga.; Larry Pressler, R-S.D.; David Pryor, D-Ark.; Don Riegle, D-Mich.; Chuck Robb, D-Va.; Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.; Jim Sasser, D-Tenn.; Alan Simpson, R-Wyo.; Mark Udall, D-Colo.; John W. Warner, R-Va.; Lowell Weicker, I-Conn.; Tim Wirth, D-Colo.
Sen. Orrin Hatch on Monday dismissed new court papers directly implicating President Donald Trump in efforts to buy women's silence, saying the matter is irrelevant because the economy is booming and the payments were made before Trump was elected to the White House.
Hatch, R-Utah, who is retiring at the end of his current term, told CNN’s Manu Raju that the years before Trump became president are “another world."
"Since he's become president this economy has charged ahead," Hatch said, adding, "And I think we ought to judge him on that basis other than trying to drum up things from the past that may or may not be true."
Hatch also told me: “President Trump before he became president that’s another world. Since he’s become president this economy has charged ahead. ... And I think we ought to judge him on that basis other than trying to drum up things from the past that may or may not be true.”— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 10, 2018
The Republican also told Raju that "you can make anything a crime under the current laws" and that he believes Trump is doing a good job.
Earlier in his congressional career, during Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999, Hatch voted to convict the president, saying in a statement at the time that “committing crimes of moral turpitude such as perjury and obstruction of justice go to the heart of qualification for public office.”
"This great nation can tolerate a president who makes mistakes," Hatch said then. "But it cannot tolerate one who makes a mistake and then breaks the law to cover it up. Any other citizen would be prosecuted for these crimes."
As Trump's legal woes have mounted in the wake of the new court filings, Republicans have rallied to defend the president, playing down as a nonissue his efforts to silence the women. Federal prosecutors, meanwhile, argue that lawyer Michael Cohen's payments to the women on Trump's behalf were felony campaign-finance violations.
Some Democrats, such as Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., have mused that Trump could face jail time once he leaves the White House. Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del., said Monday night that Trump's legal woes are only deepening.
The Cohen case "really sharpens the president's legal risk here, and I agree with Congressman Schiff that that might well form the basis for an indictment after the president leaves office," Coons said on CNN.
But Trump's congressional allies rejected that possibility.
"As long as Cohen's a liar, I shouldn't give much credibility to what he says," Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Monday when asked about the new court filings. After a reporter pointed out that federal prosecutors were the ones making the allegations, Grassley replied, "He got his information from a liar."
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., contended that Trump and his team were "new to this at the time" and thus might not have been aware of campaign finance law.
"Most of us have made mistakes when it comes to campaign finance issues," Thune said, according to Jonathan Weisman of The New York Times. "In many cases, campaigns end up paying fines and penalties."
Some Republicans sought to dodge the issue entirely.
Asked whether he is satisfied with Trump's defense of the alleged campaign finance violations, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he did not know enough about the matter.
"I think that's a matter for the special counsel and for the president and the Department of Justice, not Congress," he said.
The Washington Post’s Erica Werner and Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.
Three years before the impoundment of Cliven Bundy’s cattle turned into an armed confrontation between anti-government groups and federal agents, the FBI made an assessment that the Nevada rancher personally was unlikely to be violent in the event of conflict. The agency suggested a novel solution to Bundy’s 20 years of unpaid bills, one designed to put the dispute to rest: drop the fines he owed altogether.
The FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, based in Quantico, Va., determined in 2011 that the rancher was unlikely to comply with federal court orders to move his 900 animals off federal land, where they had been illegally grazing, because “he only has enough land to handle less than 100 head of cattle.” Although the Bureau of Land Management was concerned that allowing Bundy to avoid paying federal grazing fees and fines could lead to violence, the FBI thought otherwise.
“BLM may wish to consider waiving the existing fines, as a gesture of willingness to participate in discussions geared toward negotiations,” the FBI wrote in the classified analysis, obtained by The Washington Post. The unit concluded that any alternatives the government could offer Bundy might reduce the rancher’s stress and “in turn, reduce the risk of a violent act.”
The government did not heed that advice.
‘I don’t want any of my friends to get hurt over a damn cow’
In April 2014, when BLM officers attempted to take possession of Bundy’s cattle, they were met by the gun barrels of hundreds of protesters and militia members who had come to Bundy’s aid in the desert. That, in turn, gave momentum to anti-government militias in the west and spawned conflicts such as the deadly standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January 2016.
The FBI’s threat assessment was one of several pieces of evidence that led to a mistrial of Bundy and his sons Ammon and Ryan, a case that centered on their actions during the standoff. A judge ruled that the FBI document, as well as threat assessments conducted by the Las Vegas Metro Police Department and the Southern Nevada Counter Terrorism Center (SNCTC), were improperly kept from the defendants during discovery.
The FBI report shows that the agency saw Bundy’s disavowal of federal authority in Nevada as in line with his affiliation with the Patriot Movement — a group “centered on a belief that individual liberties are in jeopardy due to unconstitutional actions taken by federal government officials, to illegally accumulate power and control over U.S. land,” it reads.
But the report also noted that he didn’t want the situation to come to a head: “He mentioned on several occasions that he wanted to avoid violence if possible, and stated ‘I’m not figuring on hurting anybody, and I don’t want any of my friends to get hurt over a damn cow either.’ ”
While the FBI wrote in its report that it didn’t conclude that Bundy would become violent, it did consider him to be paranoid.
“He appears to believe that many individuals or organizations are aligned against him in a grand conspiracy to infringe upon his perceived constitutional rights,” the report said.
The FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit declined to comment on the assessment due to the potential for more litigation related to the case, a bureau spokeswoman said.
Track record of paranoia
The Nevada assessment, in March 2012, echoed that concern, saying that he suspected the government was going to “wipe him out after the incidents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho and Waco, Texas, and that the only reason this did not occur was because of the Oklahoma City bombing.”
Other agencies that conducted threat assessments concurred that while the elder Bundy wouldn’t be violent, his eldest son, Ryan, might be.
A memorandum detailing a February 2014 meeting between Las Vegas Sheriff Doug Gillespie, Cliven Bundy and several of his children to discuss an impoundment of the cattle said that Ryan Bundy “stated that they were not going to let this happen and they would do whatever is necessary to protect their father’s property.”
“The Sheriff realized there would be no reasoning with Ryan,” the memo said. “If anyone in the family would be involved in a confrontation with the BLM or contractor it would probably be Ryan.”
Cliven Bundy did not respond to requests for comment. Ryan Bundy also declined to comment fully, saying only that such reports and findings are part of a smear campaign against his family that is “dishonest and misleading” and full of “lies.”
In an interview Saturday, Ammon Bundy said the family has long been frustrated that there is a narrative about violence associated with them, alleging that the BLM has been provoking the Bundys to react violently as part of a strategy to display power and authority.
“Never once were we ever violent, never once were we professing violence or acting violent,” Ammon Bundy said. “And yet they continue to go with the narrative that we were violent.”
Bob Abbey, who served as director of the BLM when the assessments were conducted, said he cannot recall anyone suggesting Bundy was not a threat or that the government should waive Bundy’s fines.
“If that’s true, that message was never communicated to me when I was director of the BLM,” he said. “We would have certainly taken into account what the FBI had recommended. But, again, none of that information was shared with me.”
Before helming the federal land management agency, Abbey also served as the BLM’s Nevada state director — and when he left that post, he says Bundy was the only rancher with trespassing cattle in the state.
“Cliven Bundy was always confrontational. He had strong beliefs that his philosophy was based upon the United States Constitution and the federal government had absolutely no legit role to play in natural resource management, and had no authority for owning and managing public lands,” Abbey said.
The Nevada terrorism center’s threat assessment found widespread support for the Bundy family and its beliefs about the federal government.
“Mr. Bundy believes the BLM’s actions have nothing to do with cattle or the desert tortoise, but rather that it is an attempt by the federal government to take land from the state and the citizens who live there,” the report says. “This sentiment is held by almost every individual who was interviewed.”
Grazing permits gone unpaid
Cliven Bundy, now 72, inherited his 160-acre ranch from his father, David Bundy, who legally grazed his cattle on the federal lands surrounding the desert ranch with the use of a grazing permit. Those public lands now include Gold Butte National Monument, which is filled with cultural artifacts, and sensitive desert areas where threatened tortoise species live and water and food is scarce.
But by the 1990s, when Cliven Bundy took the reins of the operation, those grazing permits went unpaid and eventually expired. Cliven Bundy became active in the states‘ rights movement and clung to Sagebrush Rebellion-era leaders who advocated for federal lands to be transferred back to the states.
He often claims that his family holds “ancestral” rights to the public land. In late August 2018, his lawyers filed a lawsuit asking for a judge to declare federal lands within the state as property of Nevada.
The Bundy family often says it will do “whatever it takes” to keep its cattle on public land, and the Nevada terrorism report saw that as a veiled threat of violence — even if Cliven Bundy, himself, was not violent: “Several individuals stated that they would not initiate any violent actions against BLM personnel, but they would defend themselves and return fire if fired upon,” it read. “Additionally, a couple of Mr. Bundy’s relatives stated that they would do anything asked of them, including taking up arms.”
The Nevada officials anticipated that resistance to a cattle impoundment on Bundy Ranch could take the form of organized protests — which did, in fact, occur in the days before the Bundy Ranch standoff.
But when a video of Ammon Bundy being tased by BLM agents went viral, it served as a recruitment video that attracted anti-government groups from around the country.
Authorities saw that coming, too, according to the Nevada report: “There is the potential that the use of a nonlethal weapon or instrument could be misinterpreted as being fired upon and quickly escalate the violence of any confrontation.”
In its report, Nevada authorities wondered why it took 20 years to impound Cliven Bundy’s cattle — something Abbey said was the result of state budgeting. He said the Bundy impoundment was estimated to cost up to $1 million, and take as long as 30 days, involving several agencies and requiring helicopters and enough staff to capture the herd.
That all comes out of the state budget, Abbey said, money that could be used to rehabilitate public lands after wildfires rage across the western landscape.
Today, Cliven Bundy continues to graze his herd across public lands without a permit. Abbey said that is “an action that can no longer been ignored.”
Ammon Bundy said Saturday that his father has been right all along — not paranoid, as the government suggested — noting that federal authorities came after him exactly as he thought they would, leading to the standoff.
Would the Bundys support another standoff or federal lands occupation?
“I certainly would if there was an individual or family that I felt would benefit from it,” Ammon Bundy said.
The Centerville Police Department wants some wayward teenage boys to quit harassing homeowners. And they’re hoping someone can identify the boys so that police can “help persuade them to knock it off and grow up.”
According to a post on Facebook, a home in the southeast part of Centerville has been under siege because “for some crazy reason, teenage boys like to harass the nice people who live there.” The teens have reportedly been shutting off power to the home and throwing water balloons at the windows late at night, causing the homeowners “alarm and fear.”
The harassment has been going on “way too long,” and it’s a “sad situation that we would like to help stop,” CPD posted on Facebook, along with a couple of pictures of one of the boys — albeit pictures of him with his hoodie pulled up.
(Photo courtesy Centerville Police Department) Police released this photo of a teenager who has been harassing homeowners.
Police ask anyone who recognizes the teen or who knows anything about this to do two things: “First, tell those responsible to knock it off and grow up. Secondly, please contact us so we can help persuade them to knock it off and grow up.”
You can call the Centerville Police Department at 801-292-8441.
One of America’s richest cities — Park City, Utah — also has one of the highest levels of credit card debt, according to a new study.
The median credit card debt for a Park City resident is $5,376, according to a study by the personal-finance website WalletHub. The site calculates it would take someone earning the median income in Park City 21 months and 5 days to pay off that much debt — the third-longest payoff period in the country.
Topping that list is Coleyville, Texas, between Dallas and Fort Worth. In second place is Darien, Conn., just east of New York City.
Of the 2,500 cities in the WalletHub study, Park City was in the 99th percentile in terms of length to pay off credit card debt.
The study calculates the payoff time by taking the median income in each city, then calculating 3 percent of each month’s paycheck set aside to pay off the debt and accumulated interest. Because the median income varies from city from city, a higher level of debt may take less time to pay off.
A recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis found that Summit County, where Park City is located, is one of only 12 counties in the United States with a per-capita income over $100,000.
Here are how much median debt is being carried in Utah cities, according to the study, and how long it would take a resident there to pay off that debt, listed from longest payoff period to shortest:Park City • $5,376 • 21 months, 5 days.South Jordan • $3,245 • 15 months, 20 days.Herriman • $4,548 • 15 months, 4 days.Lehi • $3,071 • 15 months, 1 day.Riverton • $3,037 • 14 months, 14 days.Layton • $2,750 • 14 months, 12 days.Salt Lake City • $2,614 • 14 months, 12 days.Spanish Fork • $2,526 • 14 months, 10 days.Kaysville • $3,044 • 14 months, 2 days.Sandy • $2,915 • 13 months, 26 days.Draper • $3,484 • 13 months, 24 days.St. George • $2,403 • 13 months, 23 days.Murray • $2,484 • 13 months, 22 days.Pleasant Grove • $2,390 • 13 months, 14 days.West Jordan • $2,482 • 13 months, 13 days.Orem • $2,203 • 13 months, 6 days.American Fork • $2,654 • 13 months, 1 days.Cedar City • $2,222 • 13 months, 1 day.Bountiful • $2,605 • 12 months, 28 days.Midvale • $1,928 • 12 months, 18 days.Roy • $2,270 • 12 months, 14 days.Taylorsville • $2,059 • 12 months, 14 days.Tooele • $2,156 • 12 months, 11 days.Ogden • $2,060 • 11 months, 30 days.West Valley City • $1,942 • 11 months, 29 days.Springville • $2,350 • 11 months, 21 days.Magna • $1,942 • 11 months, 14 days.Logan • $1,596 • 11 months, 11 days.Provo • $1,554 • 10 months, 21 days.Clearfield • $1,905 • 10 months, 19 days.Vernal • $1,718 • 9 months, 23 days.
Washington • The United States this week will begin withdrawing many of the active duty troops sent to the border with Mexico by President Donald Trump just before the midterm election in response to a caravan of Central American migrants, U.S. officials said Monday.
About 2,200 of the active duty troops will be pulled out before the holidays, the officials said, shrinking an unusual domestic deployment that was viewed by critics as a political stunt and a waste of military resources.
That will leave about 3,000 active duty troops in Texas, Arizona and California, mainly comprised of military police and helicopter transport crews who are assisting border patrol agents. There also will still be about 2,300 members of the National Guard who were sent to the border region as part of a separate deployment that started in April.
The active duty troops, numbering about 5,200 as of Monday, were initially scheduled to stay until Dec. 15. Late last month, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis extended the mission to the end of January at the request of the Department of Homeland Security. It’s unclear if it will be extended again.
The U.S. forces have installed vast amounts of razor wire and provided transportation and protection for the Border Patrol. The troops are not there to directly deal with the Central American migrants, many of whom eventually made their way to Tijuana, just south of California.
One of the officials said that some of the military police and helicopter crews will stay in the border region so they can quickly respond if they are needed by border agents. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal plans not yet made public.
Active duty troops began arriving at the border in early November for an initial 45-day deployment, in response to the caravan, which at one point numbered about 7,000 people, including many families with children.
On Monday, Col. Rob Manning said there are 2,200 active duty troops in Texas, 1,350 in Arizona and 1,650 in California.
“Some units have completed their mission and they have already started to partially redeploy. Other units have been identified to rotate home and will be returning home over the next several weeks,” Manning said.
He declined to say how low the number of troops will go in coming weeks or provide details on any changes. He added, “the numbers of troops that we have will be commensurate with the support” that Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection request.
Headquarters forces for U.S. Army North will remain in Texas, and the troops in California and Arizona include engineers, military police, logisticians, aviation personnel and medical personnel.
The bulk of the active duty troops in California are Marines based at Camp Pendleton, near San Diego, so many can easily move back and forth from the border to their home base.
A report to Congress last month estimated the cost of the military deployment to the border at $210 million, including $72 million for the active-duty troops and $138 million so far for the National Guard forces. The Guard troops have been performing their separate border mission since April. There have been no updated estimates released.
Sione Pouha will always remember coaching in the Army-Navy football game, experiencing a major part of America's sports culture. The 48 hours that followed that event may be equally unforgettable.
The former Utah and NFL defensive lineman spent an agonizing Saturday night after fielding coach Kyle Whittingham’s offer to join the Ute staff after one season at Navy. The decision required “a lot of choice-making skills that I had to resurrect and use,” Pouha said Monday, after being named to replace Gary Andersen, who’s now Utah State’s head coach.
Whittingham’s history of dealing with staff vacancies is either to fill them immediately or wait until recruiting ends in early February. He acted more quickly than ever this past weekend.
Pouha mainly will coach the defensive tackles, after holding that position on Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo's staff during the Midshipmen's 2018 season that ended Saturday with a 17-10 loss to Army in Philadelphia. He will share the overall line responsibilities with Lewis Powell, who specializes with the defensive ends, and help the Utes prepare for the Dec. 31 Holiday Bowl vs. Northwestern.
An eight-year NFL veteran with the New York Jets, Pouha coached as a student assistant for the Utes in 2015-16 and was the program’s director of football player development in 2017. The East High School graduate was a mainstay of Utah’s 12-0 team in 2004 as a defensive tackle.
“Sione Pouha, he's like a guru for defensive linemen,” said Ute end Bradlee Anae.
“It's great to have Sione back in our program,” Whittingham said in a statement, citing “the impact he will have in our recruiting.”
Sione Pouha, Utah's new defensive line coach, on his Navy recruiting plans being redirected. pic.twitter.com/8fqAz6JgmA— Kurt Kragthorpe (@tribkurt) December 11, 2018
That started Monday night. Pouha was scheduled to fly to Hawaii this week to recruit for Navy, with a layover in Salt Lake City. As it turned out, he landed in his hometown to stay. “I’ve already had the mantra to be opportunity-ready,” he said. “You never know what opportunities come your way … The fact that it’s home is a pretty sweet deal.”
Now that he's working again for Utah State, Gary Andersen will resume his status as the only coach outside of the Pac-12 who has beaten Utah during the school's eight seasons of conference membership.
Because the Aggies and Utes are not currently scheduled to meet in the future, that 1-0 record will remain intact. Andersen also will have a legacy at Utah after his one-season return to the program, having aided in the development of two All-Pac-12 defensive tackles, both juniors: first-team selection Leki Fotu and second-team pick John Penisini.
Andersen worked directly with the two tackle positions, with productive players Hauati Pututau and Pita Tonga also in the rotation. Fotu is tied for fourth on the team with three sacks and has made 5½ tackles for loss. All season, Penisini was listed among the Pac-12′s highest-graded defensive players by Pro Football Focus. He ranks fifth on the team with seven tackles for loss (including two sacks) and blocked a Washington field goal in the Pac-12 championship game.
“It's just crazy, because I didn't think I was going to do all this, but [Andersen] taught us a lot,” Penisini said.
“His knowledge and his coaching experience helped us a lot, especially in the D-tackle area,” Fotu said.
The linemen were disappointed Saturday when Andersen told a few of them in person that he was headed to USU, but they’re looking forward to working with Pouha. Former teammates such as Lowell Lotulelei and Filipo Mokofisi endorsed Pouha, who learned from that experience as a student coach. “Football’s in my DNA,” Pouha said, “but coaching and playing football are two different things. It’s the same field, but it’s a different career. That’s an art that I continue to strive to learn, but with coach Whittingham and coach Niumatalolo, I don’t think you could ask for two better mentors.”
Utah punter Mitch Wishnowsky was named to the AP All-America second team and kicker Matt Gay made the third team, announced Monday.
Wishnowsky has averaged 45.1 yards as a senior and Gay has made 24 of 29 field goals, including a school-record 6-of-6 game against Oregon.
The Utes will oppose Northwestern linebacker Paddy Fisher, a third-team selection, in the Holiday Bowl. Utah faced two first-team picks in a combined three games, producing a total of two offensive touchdowns. Washington linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven made 11 tackles in a 21-7 win in September and 10 tackles in a 10-3 victory in the Pac-12 championship game. Northern Illinois defensive end Sutton Smith posted eight tackles, including two sacks, in the Huskies' 17-6 loss to Utah in September.
Several Utah voters are asking the Utah Supreme Court to restore Proposition 2, declaring a “constitutional crisis” over the Legislature’s decision to pass a bill replacing the medical cannabis initiative.
The political issues committee, The People’s Right, claims in a motion filed Monday that the state Legislature overstepped by approving the Prop 2 replacement in a special session earlier this month. The group is also frustrated that, because the bill passed by more than a two-thirds majority, the state contends the act is immune from a challenge at the ballot box.
Steven Maxfield, a Kanosh resident who previously has led fights for access to government records, is chairing The People’s Right and is filing the motion along with a couple of other Utah voters. The listed defendants are Gov. Gary Herbert, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, the state’s election director and members of the Utah Legislature.
The plaintiffs are asking the state’s highest court to declare the special session unconstitutional and vacate the bill passed by lawmakers, reinstating Prop 2.
The ballot initiative had been in effect for only two days when lawmakers voted to supplant it with the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, a measure hammered out as a compromise between Prop 2 supporters and opponents.
Connor Boyack, a medical cannabis advocate who helped design the replacement bill, said it would be bad public policy to handcuff state legislators so they could not adjust a law that they or Utah voters approved.
“It would actually be fairly problematic to permanently lock in place what voters have done because, often, issues are overlooked and there are unintended consequences that need to be dealt with," said Boyack, who was part of the Utah Patients Coalition, the group that brought Prop 2 to the ballot.
The People’s Right also charged Cox’s office with wrongly rejecting its application seeking to bring the newly approved Utah Medical Cannabis Act to a statewide vote.
Laws that have passed by at least a two-thirds majority in the Legislature can’t be referred to voters for acceptance or rejection, Justin Lee, the state’s election director, explained in a letter. The new cannabis act did receive this level of support and is, therefore, ineligible for a referendum, he wrote.
Lee declined to comment on the specifics of the legal challenge filed by The People’s Right.
Melvin Dummar, a Utah gas station owner who became the stuff of legend, punchlines, a Hollywood Oscar winner and years of litigation over a chunk of Howard Hughes' estate that was supposedly left to Dummar, died Saturday. He was 74.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal, which reported Dummar’s death, quoted Ray Dummar as saying his brother had been battling cancer for the third time. Dummar had been living in recent years near Pahrump, Nev.
Melvin Dummar insisted he gave Hughes, one of the greatest yet most reclusive business magnates of his day, a ride in a pickup truck on a cold night in the Nevada desert on Dec. 29, 1967. Before dropping him off in Las Vegas, the man identified himself as Howard Hughes, though Dummar didn’t believe him, he said years later.
Hughes died in 1976. Three weeks later, April 27, Dummar said he received an envelope at his gas station in Willard, Utah. It purported to be Hughes’ will.
The handwritten document left assets to medical institutes, charities, the Boy Scouts of America, relatives and executives at Hughes' companies. It also left one-sixteenth of the estate each to Dummar and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because of that last supposed beneficiary, the document became known as the “Mormon Will.”
Dummar estimated his share at $156 million. He never got a cent.
A Las Vegas jury in 1978 found the will to be a forgery. There also were court cases in California, Texas and Utah. Dummar lost them all.
He sold the rights to his story to Hollywood. “Melvin and Howard” was one of the best-reviewed films of 1980. It won two Academy Awards, including best supporting actress for Mary Steenburgen.
Dummar later would say the $90,000 he received from the film were absorbed by his legal fees. In a 2005 interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, Dummar and his wife, Bonnie Dummar, recounted the hurt they felt from the decades of ridicule.
"You've just got to learn to turn the other cheek," Melvin Dummar sighed.
“Yeah, but we’re running out of cheeks,” Bonnie Dummar quipped.
Melvin Earl Dummar was born Aug. 28, 1944, in Cedar City. Various sources say he was one of either eight or 10 children born into a family that moved around. He largely grew up in Fallon, Nev.
In 1963, Dummar enlisted in the Air Force. He was discharged after nine months due to his “emotional makeup,” according to the book “Empire: The Life, Legend, and Madness of Howard Hughes,” by legendary investigative reporters Donald Barlett and James Steele.
That book also recounts how, in 1968, Dummar was arrested and charged with forging a $251 payroll check from his employer, Basic Refractories Inc., in Gabbs, Nev. A jury would not reach a verdict, and the charge was dismissed.
Dummar held a series of odd jobs and appeared on game shows. He won a car, a freezer and a range over multiple appearances on “Let’s Make a Deal.” He won another car on “Hollywood Squares.” He also appeared on “The Price Is Right.”
He had split from his first wife when he was driving on U.S. Highway 95 between Gabbs and Las Vegas the night in late 1967, when he said he found Hughes. Dummar said he pulled onto a dirt road to stop and urinate. He saw a man facedown. Dummar was about to contact the sheriff when the man regained consciousness.
“I couldn’t leave him there,” Dummar told The Tribune in 2006. “He would have died of exposure.”
The man asked for a ride to the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas, in Dummar’s telling. Dummar said he left Hughes at the back door of the hotel and gave him some pocket change.
Dummar had bought the gas station in Willard by the time the “Mormon Will” emerged. His story became a national sensation. Wire services spread it all over the world.
Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon joked on “The Tonight Show" about Dummar and Hughes — Carson struggled to pronounce Dummar’s name — and pondered whether the story could be true.
“There’s going to be people picking up hitchhikers all over the country now,” Carson quipped.
There were multiple problems with Dummar’s assertions. The document had misspellings, contradictions and misstatements about Hughes’ businesses and assets.
First, Dummar told reporters he didn’t know how a copy of the will arrived at the church’s Salt Lake City headquarters, but he later acknowledged that was a lie. Dummar resealed the envelope and dropped it off at the headquarters. He explained his actions later by saying he thought someone was playing a joke on him, and he was confused.
Publicity also muddied Dummar’s claims. There were crank calls and visitors. In one example, two weeks after Dummar received the envelope, an Edmonton, Alberta, man arrived at the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office, with a newspaper article about Dummar in hand, and said he was riding with Dummar when they picked up Hughes. The Canadian said it was he, not Dummar, who gave Hughes 25 cents when he asked for money. His claims went nowhere.
At the Las Vegas trial in 1978, Bonnie Dummar had to answer questions about how she had pleaded guilty to welfare fraud in Orange County, Calif., in 1973, before she had married Melvin Dummar. She was sentenced to 90 days in jail and ordered to repay the money.
But the couple never wavered from Melvin Dummar’s assertion he gave Hughes that ride.
“If I had to do it over again," Melvin Dummar told The Tribune in 2006, “I’d pick up Mr. Hughes.”
Washington - President Trump was up early Monday morning, tweeting falsely that investigators have found “No Smocking Gun” that proves he did anything wrong. He meant “smoking,” of course. His vision must be clouded by the haze.
In a sentencing memorandum for the president's one-time personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, federal prosecutors in Manhattan wrote Friday that Cohen violated campaign finance laws "in coordination with and at the direction of" Trump. In layman's terms, Trump's own Justice Department has accused him of instructing his attorney to commit two felonies.
These crimes, which Cohen confesses, involve six-figure payments of hush money to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels — women whose silence about alleged sexual encounters with Trump was expensively purchased in the weeks before the 2016 election.
On Twitter, the president called all of this "a simple private transaction." I'm tempted to ask what he's been "smocking."
According to Cohen — and common sense — the purpose of paying $150,000 to McDougal (via American Media Inc. chairman David Pecker) and $130,000 to Daniels was to keep their accounts of their alleged relationships with Trump from being made public before the election. That means the payments have to be considered illegal, unreported campaign contributions.
Trump suggests these were mere technical violations of the kind that every campaign inadvertently commits and is fined for. That is a lie. Permit me to quote the prosecutors' memo at length on this point:
"Cohen's commission of two campaign finance crimes on the eve of the 2016 election for president of the United States struck a blow to one of the core goals of the federal campaign finance laws: transparency. While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows. He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with [Trump]. In the process, Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election. It is this type of harm that Congress sought to prevent when it imposed limits on individual contributions to candidates."
And Cohen committed these crimes, prosecutors say, on Trump's orders. Trump has not credibly denied the allegation — and, indeed, Cohen made a recording of at least one conversation in which he discussed the payments with Trump.
"NO COLLUSION," Trump claimed once again in his Monday tweets. He has spent months trying to convince the nation of two false premises: that special counsel Robert Mueller's "witch hunt" has found no evidence of a conspiracy between his campaign and the Russian government to tilt the 2016 election in his favor; and that any other alleged crimes that investigators might come across are somehow irrelevant.
Wrong on both counts.
There was, of course, the infamous Trump Tower meeting arranged so that Trump's son, son-in-law and campaign chairman could receive damaging information about Hillary Clinton from an emissary of the Kremlin. But investigators have also learned of more than a dozen additional contacts between the campaign and well-connected Russians.
A memo filed Friday by Mueller reveals a previously unknown approach by "a Russian national who claimed to be a 'trusted person' in the Russian Federation" and who offered the campaign "synergy on a government level." The filing also states that Cohen helpfully provided "useful information regarding certain discrete Russia-related matters" that was obtained through "regular contact" with Trump Organization executives.
None of this is normal. I know people who have run both Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns, and not one reports ever experiencing or even hearing of such dealings with a foreign government, much less an adversarial power such as Russia. When Trump says this sort of thing is common practice, he is lying.
No, Mueller has not tipped his hand to reveal all the evidence he might have of a full-fledged plot between his campaign and Vladimir Putin's government. But given how tight-lipped the Mueller team has been, it is ridiculous for anyone to assert with confidence that no such evidence exists.
We know that Mueller is looking into the Trump Organization's business dealings with Russians who have close links to the Kremlin. We know he is looking into potential obstruction of justice by the president.
And now we know, for the first time, that prosecutors have directly implicated Trump in a federal crime. It may be a bit premature to start chanting, "Lock him up!" But stay tuned.
Eugene Robinson’s email address is email@example.com.
An initial survey into recent faculty dismissals at Dixie State University found the school’s termination policy meets best practices and that it had adequately documented policy violations on the part of tenured faculty, according to a report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor General.
But more work would need to be done to determine whether the university had responded appropriately to those policy violations, the report concludes, and to find out what impact the terminations have had on student and faculty morale.
“The issue in question is whether the specific policy violations by some tenured faculty rise to the level of immediate termination without prior recourse to DSU’s lesser disciplinary measures,” the report concludes. “To answer the question, a more detailed audit would examine all DSU terminations/discipline in recent years as well as tenured faculty terminations at other USHE institutions in recent years.”
Lawmakers did not address the survey at a Legislative Audit Subcommittee meeting held Monday morning, except to unanimously forward discussion of it on to the next committee, which will determine whether to conduct a full audit.
“Dixie State University strives to employ policies and procedures that meet the highest industry standards,” the university said in a statement. "We support the state’s role in ensuring such standards and are pleased to learn the survey found DSU’s termination policy did meet best practices and offered adequate documentation.”
The report, requested in September by Democratic lawmakers, comes after at least four tenured professors have been terminated or put on extended administrative leave at Dixie over the last four years. One of those professors and at least two other former employees have filed suit against the school over the last two years, alleging they were terminated unfairly.
“It’s worth a look at what’s going on,” said Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City. "My question is ... do the professors have the same opportunities and advantages as professors at all the other state institutions of higher ed?”
A faculty review board recently rejected the two most recent of those firings. Ken Peterson, a former music teacher, and Glenn Webb, the music department chair, were terminated on the same day in the middle of the semester and had appealed the decisions.
Peterson’s March 2 termination letter, which he made public on Facebook, contended he had disclosed confidential information about another faculty member’s tenure hearing, which the university’s Retention, Promotion and Tenure Policy notes could result in disciplinary action. Webb had declined to comment on the details of his dismissal.
Webb returned to teach at Dixie State University this fall but Peterson did not. The former music teacher had refused to sign the agreement he would have needed to return to work, calling its conditions “punitive” and “vindictive.”
Peterson, reached Monday for comment on the report, said he was grateful to state auditors for looking into the conditions at Dixie State and hopes legislators will decide to approve a full audit of termination practices.
“I’m not surprised that the policies are in line with best practices,” he said of the report’s findings. “The policies themselves I don’t particularly find fault with. I argue that — and I’ve stated this from the beginning — they didn’t follow their own policies.”
And while the state auditor’s report notes that measuring the impact of the terminations on morale “would likely be difficult,” Peterson continues to contend there’s “no question” morale has been damaged not only among students but also faculty, who he says have told him they’re afraid for their own jobs.
“The terminations should be a deep concern, I think, for anyone who loves the university and anyone who loves this community,” he said.
Washington • Rep.-elect Ben McAdams has hired his former deputy mayor Nichole Dunn as his new chief of staff as he prepares to join Congress.
McAdams, who is resigning his post as Salt Lake County mayor, announced Monday he picked Dunn, a longtime trusted aide, to lead his new congressional office. She previously served as McAdams' deputy and the county’s chief administrative officer from 2013 through 2015 and had also worked as then-Mayor Peter Corroon’s top aide from 2009 through 2013.
“Nichole is the finest example I know of a public servant who contributes to her community with tireless enthusiasm and a deep commitment to working across the political aisle to solve problems and achieve progress,” McAdams said in a statement. “She is an accomplished leader and will be very effective in this position.”
Dunn is currently the vice president of innovation and community impact for Results for America, a bipartisan nonprofit aimed at urging policy leaders to use data to solve problems.
McAdams, a Democrat who pitched himself as a moderate to voters, touted Dunn’s ability to work across the aisle in her past positions, a skill that he says will come in handy in his office.
“I am thrilled to hear Nichole will be serving Utah again,” said GOP Salt Lake County Councilman Richard Snelgrove. “She was an asset to Salt Lake County and always great to work with. I am confident that Nichole will serve the residents of the 4th Congressional District with the same level of intelligence, diplomacy, and efficiency.”
Dunn lives in the Washington area with her husband, Donald Dunn, a former Utah Democratic Party chairman and member of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign finance team, and their two children.
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is adding two new air quality monitoring stations — one in Murray and one in Magna, officials said Monday.
These two new stations, when they come online next year, will bring to 20 the number of such monitors across the state, DEQ spokesman Jared Mendenhall said. They will be the fifth and sixth stations in the Salt Lake Valley.
The Magna station, atop the Salt Lake County Senior Center on Main Street, is replacing a station that has been inoperable for some time and is expected to come online in January. The one in Murray, near Interstate 15 and about 50th South, while be operational later in the year.
(courtesy Department of Environmental Quality) This photo shows one of the air quality monitors DEQ is bringing on line.
The monitoring stations allow scientists to study air quality but also allow residents easy online access to data in their areas. The data is near real time as it is updated every hour, said Mendenhall. Find the information at deq.utah.gov/division-air-quality and click on current conditions.
Congratulations! This month, Utah Department of Environmental Quality's Division of #AirQuality added two new members to it's family of air monitors.
For the latest conditions, visit https://t.co/rz5IK3fCF4. pic.twitter.com/2IAkW35PDM
The DEQ website also allows users to see trends and forecasts so they can make decisions about outdoor activities. "You can even dig down deeper for [information on] each pollutant,” Mendenhall said.
All of the Salt Lake Valley monitors collect data on PM 2.5, particulate matter that is small enough to be inhaled and is linked to health and respiratory problems, Mendenhall said, while some in outlying areas are calibrated to measure other kinds of pollution, such as ozone.
(Courtesy Utah Department of Environmental Quality) This new air quality monitoring station near I-15 in Murray will be online sometime next year.
Real Salt Lake protected 11 of players for Tuesday’s MLS expansion draft, the team announced Monday. An additional five players are exempt from selection due to their homegrown status.
The protected players are as follows: Nick Rimando, Justen Glad, Nedum Onuoha, Marcelo Silva, Kyle Beckerman, Damir Kreilach, Pablo Ruiz, Albert Rusnák, Sebastian Saucedo, Joao Plata and Jefferson Savarino.
The five homegrown players are Danilo Acosta, Corey Baird, Jose Hernandez, Aaron Herrera and Brooks Lennon.
With the players RSL protected, there are a host of them that are unprotected, meaning they are available to be acquired by FC Cincinnati through the draft. Those players are Alex Horwath, Andrew Putna, Connor Sparrow, Shawn Barry, Tony Beltran, Nick Besler, Adam Henley, David Horst, Taylor Peay, Demar Phillips, Luke Mulholland, Sunday Stephen, Jordan Allen, Ricky Lopez-Espin and Luis Silva.
FC Cincinnati will start its inaugural season in 2019. Expansion draft rules dictate that an expansion team can only take one player from the other MLS teams in the five-round draft. If a player is taken in the draft, the team that loses a player will receive $50,000 in General Allocation Money.
The Utah gymnastics team opened at No. 5 Monday in the first Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association (WCGA) poll of the season.
UCLA was picked to defend its NCAA title followed by Oklahoma, Florida, LSU and the Utes. Not so coincidentally, that was the final order of finish at last spring’s NCAA women’s gymnastics championships.
Utah has finished fifth at nationals for the last two seasons as Super Six finalists. The NCAA Championship moves to a four-team format this season. Utah’s last top-four finish was in 2015 when the Utes finished second to Florida by five hundredths of a point.
Junior two-time NCAA champion MyKayla Skinner headlines a team that returns 20-of-24 routines from its 2018 NCAA lineup. She is one of five returning All-Americans along with seniors Kari Lee and MaKenna Merrell-Giles, junior Missy Reinstadtler and sophomore Sydney Soloski. The freshman class showcases a pair of Junior Olympic champions and J.O. National Team members in Cristal Isa and Adrienne Randall.
BYU was the only other in-state team to surface in the poll, checking in at No. 24.
Murray ∙ As Arlyn Bradshaw launched his bid for Salt Lake County mayor on Monday, it seemed only fitting his announcement would take place in a barn at Wheeler Historic Farm.
His father was born down the street from here in Murray, but Bradshaw grew up on a farm in Idaho. He pivoted from potatoes to politics, and this farm, he said, represents not only his own formative experiences but also the best county government has to offer: blending history, open space, family events and educational opportunities.
“I entered politics because I want to serve our community,” he said at the news conference announcing his candidacy. “I saw the impact that local government has on our lives and that the choices made on the local level impact communities for years. I also believe in the need for more voices to be heard. As a member of a minority group, I thought it was important to be one of those voices, to see what I can offer, how I can serve.”
Bradshaw became the first first openly gay councilman in Salt Lake County in 2010. He serves as the mountain west regional director of Best Friends Animal Society and has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s of public administration from the University of Utah.
Surrounded by more than 30 supporters holding apple green signs embellished with his name, Bradshaw painted himself as a “bridge builder” with the experience and the vision needed to best fill the seat being vacated by Rep.-elect Ben McAdams.
“My eight years serving on the county council have given me the experience necessary to lead an organization the size of the county government,” he said. “I also have the experience of being an executive in the private sector, leading a staff to ensure that goals are met, programs are executed properly and budgets adhered to.”
McAdams has said he intends to remain in the seat until the beginning of January. After he resigns, state law directs the County Council to notify Democratic Party leadership about the vacancy, triggering a 30-day timeline for the county party’s central committee to vote on a replacement mayor.
The central committee will meet on Jan. 26 at 10 a.m. at Corner Canyon High School to make that decision.
There, Bradshaw will face two candidates fresh off congressional races: Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson, who lost her Senate bid against Mitt Romney, and Shireen Ghorbani, who ran unsuccessfully against Rep. Chris Stewart in the 2nd Congressional District. McAdams hasn’t indicated whether he’ll support any particular candidate in the race for his seat.
Bradshaw said he plans to reach out to each member of the central committee in an effort to earn their support. If elected, he committed to running for the seat in 2020 and said that in the meantime he would focus on improving air quality, preserving open space and implementing criminal justice reform.
“Every decision must be made with the next generation in mind,” he said. “We must not pursue policy that provides us immediate gratification but instead we must choose the path that ensures the next generation continues to enjoy the quality of life we have today.”
Public leaders from across the county came to support Bradshaw at his announcement, including District Attorney Sim Gill, County Councilman Jim Bradley, Equality Utah Director Troy Williams and city council members from multiple municipalities.
Bradley, who works with both Wilson and Bradshaw, praised all the candidates in the race. But he said he’s supporting Bradshaw because he has "a far greater depth in understanding the issues and has the personality to work with people who get things done that need to be done.”
Murray City Council Chair Diane Turner said her city, situated in the “shadow” of Salt Lake City, often gets “forgotten and overlooked" by county leaders. But she expects Bradshaw, who helped run her campaign for the seat 13 years ago, will bring something different.
“He will be a mayor for all of the county,” she said.
If you’re a Utahn facing criminal charges and can’t afford to hire an attorney, you’ll likely be assigned a public defender who is overworked and underpaid — and state officials know it.
Now, the governor is trying to help solve this problem by more than quadrupling the funding for a state organization that oversees Utah’s public defender services.
Gov. Gary Herbert earmarked $5 million in ongoing funding for Utah’s Indigent Defense Commission, created in 2016 to tackle a series of problems that places Utah’s system behind those in the vast majority of states.
The commission, which currently has a $1.3 million annual budget, doles out state funds to help counties and cities cover the cost of public defenders for poor Utahns.
Critics have said Utah’s patchwork public defender system is inadequate, underfunded and unfair to Utahns who rely on these attorneys to represent them in court.
Executive Director Joanna Landau wrote in a Monday news release that the governor’s increase in funding is aligned with many of his other public safety and cost-saving budget recommendations.
It impacts taxpayers, Landau said, if defense attorneys don’t have the time or resources to advocate for indigent clients, particularly when it comes to things like bailing out of jail, seeking probation instead of jail time or accessing mental health and substance abuse treatment.
“Unnecessary incarceration and recidivism are both detrimental to public safety and incredibly expensive,” Landau said. “Consider that around $710 million of the governor’s budget is dedicated to corrections, public safety and justice.”
With this additional funding, the state would be chipping in $6.3 million each year to help fund indigent defense. Cities and counties are already spending about $36 million each year, according to the commission.
Anyone who is charged with a crime that includes the possibility of jail time — in Utah, that’s anything above an infraction — is entitled to an attorney, even if the person can’t afford one.
Prior to the creation and funding of the Indigent Defense Commission, Utah was one of two states in the nation that delegated the responsibility to fund defense costs entirely to individual counties and cities. Now, Pennsylvania is the only state with this model. Utah’s commission was created in 2016 after four years of study by a task force, marking the first time there has been state oversight on how indigent people are being represented in court.
How each county handles this responsibility differs. In Salt Lake and Utah counties, a nonprofit public-defender office provides services, but other counties contract with public defenders or private attorneys — often for a flat-fee, regardless of caseload. This can lead to a crushing number of cases, and public defenders often can’t ask for funds for experts or private investigators.
So far, the Indigent Defense Commission has provided money to several Utah counties, including to Salt Lake County to pay for more public defenders needed for those arrested in Operation Rio Grande — an effort to reduce lawlessness around Salt Lake City’s downtown homeless shelter.
The commission also has granted money to Uintah County to hire more attorneys, defense investigators and experts. Juab County began receiving state funding in 2016 to hire the nonprofit public-defender association in Utah County to handle its cases. Previously, one lawyer represented all indigent defendants in that county for a flat-fee contract.
When the commission was created in 2016, the Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers estimated it would cost between $8 million and $10 million to be able to address Utah’s most pressing problems with public defense.
The organization was one of a number of critics who said the state was not meeting its constitutional requirement to provide legal help to those who can’t afford it.
Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, detailed some of the issues in Utah’s system during a 2016 legislative hearing, saying that public defenders have no incentive to take cases to trial or put in more work on cases because of flat-fee contracts that are typical in more rural areas. He also said it was problematic that some county attorneys were advising commissioners on whom to give public defender contracts — essentially picking the opponents they will face in court.
The governor’s budget is largely advisory, and Utah lawmakers will craft their own budget when the legislative session begins next month.
Logan • In the span of a week, the Utah State football team has seen one head coach leave and another get hired. Caught in the midst of that transition has been Frank Maile, who was named the interim head coach after Matt Wells bolted for Texas Tech two weeks ago.
Maile, an alumnus of Utah State who has coached at USU in some capacity since the 2009-2010 season, has been charged with preparing the Aggies for Saturday’s bowl game against North Texas while also being the steady rock they need for a smooth coaching hand-over.
The Aggies believe Maile has been just that.
“Since everything has went down, there’s been no change in him, and that’s been the best for our program,” senior safety Jontrell Rocquemore said Monday. " We just needed stability, and that’s what Frank gives."
With Wells gone and having taken many coaches with him to Texas Tech, various coaches and graduate assistants have had to wear different hats during practices, Maile said. The interim head coach added that organizing practices has been “a little tricky.”
But Maile has since chosen who will coordinate the three phases of the game on Saturday, and also who will coach some of the specialty positions. He said David Yost — who is going to Texas Tech with Wells — will run the offense; Stacy Collins, who coached the inside linebackers this season, will coordinate the defense; and Jason Shumaker, a special teams analyst, will run special teams.
All the shuffling aside, Maile is confident that the individuals he chose to step up as full-time coaches will shine in their new roles. He also reminded the team that no matter who is coaching, the expectations remain the same.
“I don’t think we’re going to skip a beat,” Maile said. “Not at all.”
During a Nov. 30 conference call with reporters announcing Maile’s interim status, USU athletic director John Hartwell said Wells would be “heavily involved in the practice planning and game plan.” But that seems to have changed. When asked how involved Wells has been in bowl preparation, Maile said did not know how to answer the question.
“Matt is the head coach of Texas Tech and he’s in charge of those guys there,” Maile said. “The only thing that matters to me are the kids here and now. That is my No. 1 responsibility is what’s going on in this building.”
Wells will also not be on the sidelines in New Mexico. Hartwell said Wells requested to be at the game as a fan, but a USU spokesperson said the former Aggies head coach will not be in attendance after all.
Maile credited the tutelage he received from Wells, and said the transition has been smooth as a result.
Aggies senior lineman Quin Ficklin praised how Maile has handled all the changes. He added that Maile’s biggest leadership characteristic is “that of love.”
“Frank has been exactly what we’ve needed these few weeks,” Ficklin said. “He’s a great coach and I’d follow him anywhere.”
Ficklin echoed Rocquemore’s sentiment that Maile being named as the interim coach helped preserve the team’s sense of continuity.
“It’s not like the whole old guard is gone,” Ficklin said. “Frank’s put on the pads and helmet inside the locker room just like we have here. Here’s been a Utah State Aggie. He’s coached here and he loves this program and he loves Logan and he loves us. So that’s been really smooth for this transition period.”
Yahoo Lifestyle has published a story headlined “NBA dancers reveal decades-long culture of ‘brainwashing,’ unfair pay and eating disorders” — and the story includes several comments from three former Utah Jazz dancers.
Sydney Sorenson, a member of the Jazz Dancers from 2009 to 2012, said monthly weigh-ins “messed with me the most,” and that leading up to them, “I came up with all these methods to weigh in smaller, like not eat anything solid for a week.”
“Point blank, I would say that I definitely had an eating disorder — especially the last year.”
Madison Murray, who danced for both the Jazz and the Phoenix Suns, told Yahoo her weight was a constant issue with the Utah team, and that when she arrived in Phoenix, “Right after I made the team, they told me I had to lose 10 pounds.... I never felt good enough.”
Chenelle Young, who danced for the Jazz from 2010-13 and is now directing the NBA's international dance team, said, “I don’t think everyone thinks a tiny, 90-pound girl is sexy. … So I don’t understand why [the NBA] thinks everyone needs to be that.”
Reporter Abby Haglage wrote that many of the 15 women she talked to from several team said dancing was “a part-time job with a full-time commitment,” and Sorensen was among them.
“It basically felt like they owned us,” she said.
In response to the Yahoo story, the Utah Jazz issued this statement: “The Jazz dancers are valued employees for their work as part of the game night experience and many hours spent as community ambassadors. In 2012, our organization reevaluated the program to ensure that it creates a positive and healthy work environment, adheres to the law for fair wages and aligns with our company culture of integrity. Leadership changes also resulted in our dance troupe now being under the direction of a former Jazz dancer.”
The full story is online at yahoo.com/lifestyle.
Growing up, I watched my mom successfully work a full-time job while being the utmost supportive parent to my brother and me. In elementary school, I learned about women like Amelia Earhart and Susan B. Anthony, who broke through the sexist barriers of their time. In high school, I admired women like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Malala Yousafzai, who have not only fought for women’s rights but have also, with odds against them, showed how strong and successful women can be.
Because of this I have always taken for granted the idea that women were entitled to the same opportunities as men. But now, as a college student, I am becoming more aware of efforts to not only stop our progress, but to reverse it. Women throughout history have fought and earned the right to control their own lives and make their own choices, including reproductive and abortion rights, and those hard earned rights are not to be taken away.
The 2016 election brought with it an administration full of people who have taken a hard line on women’s reproductive rights by being outspoken and adamant in threatening women’s access to comprehensive healthcare. The Trump administration is blatantly politicizing women’s bodies by using reproductive issues as a partisan wedge to drive the country apart and thereby impacting the protections and benefits that women have fought for for so long.
Vice President Mike Pence is known for his staunch opposition to abortion and newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh poses a new threat to women’s healthcare with the potential overturning of Roe vs. Wade. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi explained, “Judge Kavanaugh’s [past] comments make abundantly clear that he will expansively rule against women’s reproductive rights and freedoms and move to destroy Roe v. Wade.”
Rolling back this ruling could be detrimental to women’s health. The Guttmacher Institute explains, “It is easy for Americans to forget that illegal abortion was common before the 1973 Supreme Court decision. ... denying women access to legal abortion does not prevent them from having abortions, but just increases the likelihood that they will resort to an illegal abortion carried out under unsafe conditions.”
The Center for Disease Control also examined national abortion data from three years surrounding the rulings and estimated that the number of illegal procedures in the country plummeted from around 130,000 to 17,000 between 1972 and 1974. The number of deaths associated with illegal abortion decreased from 39 to five in that same time period. The Trump administration’s aim to overturn Roe v. Wade will only produce costly and detrimental results to society.
Here in Utah, we are experiencing similar measures, with conservative lawmakers and anti-abortion groups aiming to make access to safe abortion even harder by proposing the HB205 bill back in March of 2018. This bill would have essentially criminalized doctors who perform an abortion if the sole reason for the abortion was Down syndrome. Although this bill was deemed unconstitutional, this is an indication of efforts to undermine access to safe abortion services to women.
Along with attacks on abortion, women’s reproductive rights are also threatened with Trump’s dedication of undoing the work of the Obama administration. Trump’s attacks on women’s health care coverage started with the signing of a bill to overturn protections from Title X. This takes funding away from critical reproductive, educational and counseling services related to family planning and contraception to 4 million people each year. The Trump administration also rescinded the part of Obamacare that required employers to provide contraception coverage. This would allow private businesses to opt out of covering reproductive health care, such as birth control, to their employees. These initiatives blatantly attack the health care rights for women and reverse the progress we have made.
While women have made great strides, we must remain vigilant and encourage our political leaders to be well informed about women’s health issues and to have the courage to create and protect policies that further our well being. We as young women can support this by continuing to advocate for these rights.
Emily Higgins is a student at the University of Utah and a communications intern at Alliance for a Better Utah.
Utah maintains a wealth of information on its programs for the homeless, according to a new audit, but that information is of little use to evaluate whether the programs are actually working.
In a report released Monday, the Legislative Auditor General’s Office wrote that poor data management, unclear goals, uncorrected errors and inconsistent methods for counting the number of chronically homeless in the state left auditors unable to answer the questions they set out to study — such as which state programs are successful at placing individuals in housing.
“Although we found no shortage of information about client activities and the services provided to them,” the audit states, “we did not find the data to be of much use in terms of monitoring program outcomes.”
House and Senate leaders heard a presentation on the audit Monday during a meeting of the Legislative Audit Subcommittee. Their debate focused on potential improvements in data tracking, with Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, suggesting that funding could be cut off or reduced until service providers change their ways.
“Maybe this has to come back to the Legislature stopping fund flow until we get the answers and the outcomes — or diminish[ing] the fund flow," Niederhauser said. “Those are some of the things that I think this calls for.”
Monday’s audit is the third in a series requested by lawmakers on the subject of homelessness in Utah. If follows an October 2017 report on the cost of Utah’s homeless programs and another in May on the security and management of shelters operated by The Road Home.
The first report on costs found a price tag of $81 million for homeless services in Utah, with the bulk of that paid by the federal government. And roughly half that figure was indirect expenses on programs like policing and jails, auditors wrote, which are inflated by homelessness.
The May report on facilities management by The Road Home flagged issues of lax security and drug use at shelters, which endangered residents and deterred members of the homeless community from participating in support services.
In the latest audit, researchers frequently cited errors and confusion within the state’s data and an overall lack of coordination between the various agencies and entities involved with the homeless population. Enrollment and exit information for various programs was also misleading or misreported, the audit states, frustrating the researchers' attempts to track recidivism of homeless individuals.
“After finding significant problems with the data, we lost confidence in the accuracy of our results,” the auditors wrote. “Therefore, we could not complete the Legislature’s request for program-level performance data.”
The audit recommends that clear and measurable goals be established for homeless services, that data be regularly audited and that providers be trained to better manage information. It also calls for a state coordinating council on homelessness to be empowered for oversight, planning and accountability.
“Before Utah can evaluate the success of its homeless-service system," the audit states, “it must first define what success is.”
James Behunin, the audit supervisor, told lawmakers Monday that the efficacy of homeless services has likely improved with the coordination of the state’s Operation Rio Grande program and ongoing efforts to decentralize and relocate the state’s primary shelters. But the inconsistency of records — which he said previously focused more on payment reimbursement than client success — impede long-term comparisons.
“I would venture to say that today it’s much better than it was a couple years ago,” Behunin said. “The problem is, as auditors, we’ve got to look at the history.”
In a response included in the audit, Jonathan Hardy, housing and community development director for the Department of Workforce Services, agreed with the audit’s recommendations and said steps have been taken to implement performance measures and monitor service providers.
Hardy said the department is committed to working toward continual improvements and would prioritize discussion of the audit’s findings at upcoming meetings.
“We stand ready to help in the policy discussion to align all stakeholders to common objectives of addressing homelessness in Utah,” Hardy wrote.
Spencer Cox, Utah’s lieutenant governor, said he welcomed the audit’s findings. The state has taken a more active role in homeless services, he said, and is in a position to make changes ahead of the launch of new resource centers next year.
“We want to know what’s working and what’s not working,” Cox said. “We feel like we have this six-month window to start over, to reimagine, and to recalibrate what we do.”
I am appalled by Rep. Chris Stewart’s lack of basic human decency. “Journalists disappear” all the time, he says, as if the kidnapping and brutal torture until dead of a Washington Post journalist is something we should all accept with a ho-hum “these things happen” attitude. There is apparently no depth too low for Stewart to sink to in his efforts to defend the corrupt and fascist policies of the current occupant of the White House.
Kendra Houser, Millcreek
The U.S. Olympic Committee fired chief of sport performance Alan Ashley in the wake of an independent report released Monday that said neither he nor former CEO Scott Blackmun elevated concerns about the Larry Nassar sexual abuse allegations when they were first reported to them.
The 233-page independent report detailed an overall lack of response when the USOC leaders first heard about the Nassar allegations from the then-president of USA Gymnastics, Steve Penny.
Blackmun resigned in February because of health concerns.
The report says the USOC took no action between first hearing of the allegations in July 2015 and September 2016, when the Indianapolis Star published an account of Nassar's sex abuse. The report concludes that lack of action allowed Nassar to abuse dozens more girls over the 14 months of silence.
Nassar is serving decades in prison on charges of child pornography and for molesting young women and girls under the guise of medical treatment; many of his accusers testified in heart-wrenching detail at his sentencing hearing.
Though Ashley was the only one to get fired in the immediate aftermath of its release, the report paints a harsh picture of leadership of the entire U.S. Olympic movement, from the offices of the USOC to what it portrays as an essentially rogue, unchecked operation at the Karolyi Ranch in Texas — the training center run by Bela and Martha Karolyi where some of the abuse occurred.
The report concludes that one of Penny's key objectives was to keep the allegations under wraps, to avoid "sending shockwaves through the community," as he said in a conversation with an FBI agent.
Meanwhile, Penny is portrayed as repeatedly trying to get the FBI to investigate Nassar, but the report concludes "the investigation appears to have languished ... for over seven months" in the FBI's Detroit office. USAG took the allegations to the FBI's Los Angeles office, but not until the newspaper report came out did that office take action.
The report says Penny notified Blackmun and Ashley that Nassar had retired in September 2015, but that both leaders had deleted the email, which referenced Nassar by name.
The report details the USOC's relationships with the sports organizations it oversees as too deferential and not involved enough in policymaking to ensure athlete safety.
“In this governance model, the USOC exerted its broad statutory authority and monetary influence over individual sports primarily for the purpose of encouraging success at the Olympic Games, effectively outsourcing any decisions regarding on-the-ground child-protective practices to the NGBs,” the report states.
I serve on the board of Wasatch Forensic Nurses, the organization in Salt Lake and Utah counties that performs most of the forensic exams when someone reports being sexually assaulted. Forensic exams are performed by nurses with extensive training and experience in trauma care and evidence collection.
During WFN board meetings, we discuss various organization matters, including the number of individuals served by our team of nurses. At our last meeting, we reviewed the #MeToo movement and its history since the term was coined in 2006. In October 2017, actress Ashley Judd asserted that producer Harvey Weinstein had sexually harassed her. This was followed by allegations against Kevin Spacey, Olympics team doctor Lawrence Nassar and others. Even the rich and powerful were being held accountable.
In October 2017, 84 individuals were treated by our nurses. That was the largest number of individuals served by our nurses in a single month since WFN was founded in 2001.
One year later, we witnessed the contentious Kavanaugh hearings. On Oct. 6, 2018, Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate, amid blistering allegations that Christine Blasey Ford was lying and was motivated only by politics. In October 2018, only 57 individuals were served by our nurses. This was the smallest number of individuals treated by our nurses in a single month this year.
It is reasonable to wonder whether a consequence of the Kavanaugh confirmation is that sexual assault victims have concluded, once again, that they will be humiliated and disbelieved should they decide to report. If so, this is tragic.
Ken Roach, Salt Lake City
This Pat Bagley cartoon appears in The Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018. You can check out the past 10 Bagley editorial cartoons below:The Utah WayMr. MurderbritchesRed HatLDS Buyer BewareCluelessMoney is the Root of All RepublicansNine Lives to LiveTeam TrumpPilgrim’s ProgressBackstabbing Brexiteers
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A “highly intoxicated” houseguest ran into a Christmas tree and was apparently so upset that he got a handgun and fired at his hosts — 15 times.
Fortunately for the victims, he missed.
Randal Weed Dickinson, 57, was jailed for investigation of two counts of a felony discharge of a firearm, first-degree felonies; criminal mischief, a second-degree felony; two counts of assault, third-degree felonies; carrying a dangerous weapon under the influence of alcohol, a Class-B misdemeanor; and intoxication, a Class-C misdemeanor.
According to a probable cause statement, Dickinson was “highly intoxicated” and he “fell onto the Christmas tree while attempting to cross the living room” of a Summit County home. The homeowner then helped Dickinson to the room where he was staying and “told him to sleep it off.”
But Dickinson came back into the living room with a gun and fired 15 times at the homeowner and his son. No one was injured, but bullets struck cabinets, counters, appliances and walls.
The homeowner and his son disarmed Dickinson and held him until police arrived.
Oxford, Miss. • Mississippi has hired former Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre to be its new defensive coordinator.
Ole Miss announced MacIntyre’s hiring on Monday. School spokesman Kyle Campbell says MacIntyre received a three-year contract that will pay him $1.5 million annually.
The 53-year-old MacIntyre arrives at Ole Miss after six seasons as Colorado's coach, where he finished with a 30-44 record, including a 14-39 mark in the Pac-12. He was named the AP coach of the year in 2016, when he led the Buffaloes to a 10-4 record, including an 8-1 conference record and a spot in the conference championship game.
But Colorado couldn't match that success over the next two seasons and he was fired in November.
MacIntyre will try to improve an Ole Miss defense that ranked at or near the bottom of the Southeastern Conference in most major statistical categories. Ole Miss finished this season with a 5-7 record.
Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s 110-97 loss to the San Antonio Spurs from Salt Lake Tribune beat writer Andy Larsen.
1. Spurs dominate the mid-range
If you hate analytics, this was your kind of game.
The Spurs just killed the Jazz by taking and making midrange shots, while the Jazz missed their “good” shots, leading to a relatively easy victory for the Spurs at home. Here’s the shot chart:
This looks like a mid-90s shot chart. If you don’t want to count up all of those Xs and Os, the Spurs shot 29-56 from mid-range against the Jazz, or 52 percent. Overall, they took 64 percent of their shots from the midrange, the highest percentage of such shots from the midrange-heavy Spurs this season.
Early, the Jazz could have done a better job. In particular, in the second quarter, the Jazz were torched time and time again by LaMarcus Aldridge hitting open 20-footers off of pick and pop action, the kind of play that they just didn’t do well enough to stop. Rudy Gobert didn’t get out to close out, but in his defense, the guards got downhill too easily, forcing him in the paint to prevent layups.
Then in the second half, the Spurs just started making really tough shots in the midrange, especially Rudy Gay over Thabo Sefolosha. Gay is capable of that, but these are the kinds of shots that the Jazz want teams to take: contested tough looks with a hand from a long defender in the face.
But the math only goes so far when your opponent is hitting those, while you’re missing shots like these off the side of the backboard:
So yes, corner threes are worth 1.15 points per possession, while midrange ones are worth 0.8 on average. But corner three misses are worth 0, and midrange makes are worth 2, and well, that’s a bigger difference.
The Jazz’s approach worked really well in their game against the Spurs on Tuesday, but with the shotmaking going in a different direction Sunday it was a different story.
2. Donovan Mitchell’s tale of two halves
Donovan Mitchell had two very different halves in Sunday’s game. In the first half, he shot 0-6 from the field and scored zero points. In the second half, Mitchell scored 27 points on 8-10 shooting.
For Mitchell, it was his third consecutive low-scoring half, having only scored six in all of the Jazz’s big win over the Rockets. But at home against Houston, the Jazz didn’t need Mitchell; against the Spurs, they did.
I thought it was interesting how Mitchell got his points, too: of his eight made shots, six of them were pull-up jumpers. Mitchell did get to the free-throw line 10 times, so it’s not that he wasn’t really attacking the rim, but he took the pull-up shots the rest of the Jazz’s offense — save Ricky Rubio — wasn’t willing to take (or make).
How Mitchell finds that balance between taking over the game and allowing his teammates to do their thing is something that’s still developing. Sometimes, it seems like Mitchell’s scoring engagement is a switch: if he’s on, he’s one of the most impressive scoring threats in the league, but when he’s off, it’s hard to find him in the game.
The truth is more complex, though. How Mitchell gets his points is really dependent on how much attention he’s getting from the defense. Check out that video from point No. 1 again: Crowder is wide open because Mitchell draws two temporarily, forcing the defense to rotate over to stop Favors' roll.
I would like to see more from Mitchell defensively, though. There were a couple of times late in the game when Mitchell applied ball-pressure high up the court, but just got beat on straight line drives as a result. That’s the same strategy that the Jazz used to defend James Harden on Thursday, but the Spurs don’t have that kind of pull-up 3-point threat.
3. Bench unit allows big first-half run, again
It was the second game in four in which the Jazz allowed a massive, game-changing run at the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second while the bench unit played. Just as the Jazz allowed a 20-0 run against the Heat last Sunday, the second string gave up a 17-0 run seven days later against the Spurs. The run came just after Rubio and Gobert left the game.
Some of the problem is again, what you saw in point No. 1: the Jazz just missing shots they should make. But truthfully, Quin Snyder’s done a lot to juice that second unit already. Mitchell comes out early so he can play with the second string, being their lead offensive option by far. But it seems like it’s not enough at times, and the Jazz can’t figure out a way to break the paint.
When these runs happen, I see people tweeting angrily to Snyder. Tweets like “put the starters back in to stop the bleeding!” rule the day. But it simply doesn’t make sense to play your starters 48 minutes, or really, anywhere close: even 38 minutes begins to feel very Tom Thibodeau-ish very quickly. That’s especially true in the first game of a back-to-back.
So the bench has to come in at some point, and when it does, it has to perform better.
“We got stagnant,” Snyder explained. “We started the game pretty well defensively and then went through a period when we didn’t score. When that happens, your defense has to hold them.” But getting out to a 36-point first half puts the defense under a ton of pressure.
To the 25 honorees at Saturday’s Self-Reliance Award ceremony at the Salt Lake County Government Center, the recognition was more valuable — and more personal — than an Oscar.
The refugees hailed from Afghanistan and Iraq, Sudan and Somalia, Kuwait and India, Congo and the Central African Republic, but what they had in common was the ability to persevere amid almost insurmountable obstacles.
Each framed certificate honored an individual accomplishment — from learning English, to finishing high school, to finding and holding a job, to supporting a family, and lifting others out of poverty.
This is the ninth such awards ceremony sponsored by Women of the World, a nonprofit organization founded by Utahn Samira Harnish “to support refugee women to achieve self-reliance, a voice in the community, and economic success.”
The foundation helps refugees by providing training in conversational English, ensuring physical and mental health, developing job skills in language, service or creative industries, offering educational opportunities, and advocating for them at every stage of their resettlement.
At the first ceremony, WOW gave out two awards. This time, it was 10 times that many.
“We give awards to recognize these women’s accomplishments,” Harnish said Saturday, “and to motivate others to be independent.”
Many refugee women suffer from PTSD from living in war-torn countries and observing (as well as experiencing) violence. Some say they would like to collect Social Security or other government aid.
But Harnish doesn’t think that is a long-term solution — she wants them to be independent and able to stand on their own.
And some in their home country didn’t work outside the home because their husbands made enough money to support the family.
In the U.S., their husbands often don’t have that kind of income, she said. But even if they do, staying home without speaking the language or having a support group can be isolating. The women often become too dependent on their children, who are learning English in schools.
The awards ceremony, Harnish said, provides a powerful platform to “celebrate women’s success.”
Take Masagid Abdalla, originally from Sudan, whose certificate noted that her “persistence, determination and hard work are inspiring.”
The graceful 21-year-old fled that war-ravaged country with her parents and sibling when she was a child. They lived for five years in Libya before moving to a refugee camp in Egypt and then finally to Utah.
Here, Abdalla watched her mother work hard to build a life, which now includes a flourishing catering business. The daughter finished her secondary education at Cottonwood High School and is now studying at Salt Lake Community College and working at nursing home. She hopes to become a dentist.
“It’s been a dream,” she said, “to come to America.”
Rosette Rwamigiho of the Congo was recognized for “keeping her family fed, clothed and sheltered … [for providing] the strength of love and the power of the female at the front of the family.”
The ebullient mother spent five years with her children in Uganda after losing her husband, sister and business to the war back home. About five years ago, she arrived in Utah, speaking very little English and with no idea how to navigate this country.
Not long after arriving, Rwamigiho lost her personal documents and so turned to Harnish for help.
She went to the WOW office and before she knew it, Harnish helped her find the papers and much more. She signed up for English lessons, got a job at LDS Humanitarian Services, and now is working on an assembly line for Merit Medical.
“God sent her to us,” the energetic woman said with emotion.
Pamela Atkinson, looking out at more than 150 attendees, many in multicolored dresses and hijabs (Muslim head-coverings), some with children in tow, celebrated their accomplishments.
But also just their presence.
“Refugees [like you],” the tireless Salt Lake City-based activist declared, “enrich our country.”
Many followed the speeches with a recognizably American act — they took selfies with their award.
And then there was dancing.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., in a letter to the editor published in the Wall Street Journal blasted the paper’s editorial board for dismissing concerns about Thomas Farr, a judicial nominee with a track record of support for voter suppression schemes:
“I am saddened that in the editorial ‘Democrats and Racial Division’ (Dec. 1) you attempt to deflect the concerns regarding Thomas Farr’s nomination to the federal bench. While you are right that his nomination should be seen through a wider lens, the solution isn’t simply to decry ‘racial attacks.’”
(As an aside, it is quite a statement about an editorial page that has become more akin to Fox News apologists than a defender of conservative principles.)
Scott makes a key point that should go well beyond Farr or judicial nominees: "(W)e should stop bringing candidates with questionable track records on race before the full Senate for a vote."
That raises a broader question: Why is the Senate bringing and confirming candidates with questionable track records - on race or otherwise - to a vote on the floor?
Consider the people brought to the floor and confirmed: Judges rated "not qualified" by the American Bar Association; an oil executive, Rex Tillerson, with no government experience as secretary of state; a lawyer, Alex Acosta, whose supervision of DOJ's civil rights division was roundly criticized and who participated in the atrociously lenient plea deal for serial child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein; Ben Carson, a man utterly lacking in government experience of housing expertise, as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development; former congressman Tom Price for HHS despite his record of trading "shares worth more than $300,000 in about 40 health-related companies" while sitting on the House Ways and Means Committee and "working on measures that could affect his investments" (according to USA Today) ; Steven Mnuchin, who had no government experience and had failed to disclose $100 million in assets, as treasury secretary; Wilbur Ross, who also lacked government experience and had been (according to CNN) "forced to pay fines to the government several times, including as recently as August of 2016 to the SEC for failing to disclose fees his firm was charging. In 2013 ... (and had) sat on the board of a company that agreed to pay over $2 billion in a settlement over its handling of subprime loans"; Scott Pruitt, who repeatedly had sued the EPA and collaborated secretly with private industry to defeat federal regulations; and a hodgepodge of unqualified cronies for ambassadorships (a sin other administrations have been guilty of as well).
Now, when Trump nominates Heather Nauert for ambassador to the United Nations - a woman who was until a year ago a Fox News personality and as a spokesperson had zero experience in diplomacy - we can expect that once more the Republican-controlled Senate will issue its stamp of approval.
We shouldn't be surprised that the least qualified president in history - with a history of bankruptcies, refusal to pay his bills and schemes like Trump University - should select unqualified and ethically challenged advisers and/or keep on those whose ethical misdeeds and incompetence become apparent once in office. However, we cannot blame Trump alone for lousy appointments and staffing the government with unfit characters. The Constitution provides a check on the president's ability to put shady characters in position of power. It's the current Republican Party that rejects that role and decides its job description is to enable his worst instincts.
The GOP would do well to heed Scott’s advice not only with regard to judges and not only with respect to race. It shouldn’t be so hard to reject unqualified nominees and those whose records suggest they’ll be poster boys for corruption in government. Moreover, if they started dinging just a few of the lousy nominees the White House would get the message and be compelled to find more qualified people. They’d do themselves a favor (diminishing the perception they are invertebrates) as well as Trump if they started saying “no” once in a while.
Jennifer Rubin | The Washington Post
Jennifer Rubin writes reported opinion for The Washington Post.
Video: Federal prosecutors filed new court papers on Dec. 7 that revealed a previously unreported contact from a Russian to Trump’s inner circle during the campaign. (Melissa Macaya, Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)
WASHINGTON -- “Individual-1” has a singular problem: His own Justice Department says he directed a crime.
Late Friday, U.S. prosecutors -- ordinary prosecutors, not the ones working for Robert Mueller's supposed rogue witch hunt -- filed papers in court saying President Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen admitted "he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1."
This means that it is the considered view of Individual-1's Justice Department that Individual-1 participated in a felony violation of campaign finance law by directing, in order to influence the presidential election, the payoff of two women who alleged affairs with Individual-1.
Mueller and his team will decide in the coming months whether to accuse Trump of crimes. But in one sense, these are just details. That Trump is fundamentally lawless can no longer be seriously disputed. His own prosecutors now say he took part in a crime -- and his former secretary of state says Trump had little concern about what was legal.
"So often," Rex Tillerson said in a talk Thursday, "the president would say, 'Here's what I want you to do, and here's how I want you to do it.' And I would have to say to him, 'Mr. President, I understand what you want to do. But you can't do it that way. It violates the law.'"
To this, Trump responded with a well-reasoned legal defense: Tillerson "was dumb as a rock" and "lazy as hell."
Tillerson didn't detail his allegations of Trump's illegal impulses, but many such views by Trump are already in the public domain.
During the campaign, Trump said he would have no trouble getting the military to follow his orders, even if they were illegal, such as torture or the deliberate targeting of innocents.
"If I say do it, they're gonna do it," Trump said. And, "They're not gonna refuse me. Believe me."
As Bob Woodward reported in his book "Fear," Trump wanted the military to assassinate Syrian President Bashar Assad, which would be illegal (unless Trump has issued secret orders stating otherwise). "Let's f---ing kill him!" was Trump's proposal.
In April, The Washington Post's Greg Jaffe reported that Trump watched a recording of a CIA drone strike in which the agency held off on firing until the target was away from his family. Trump asked: "Why did you wait?" Doing otherwise would have been a war crime.
More recently, Trump has suggested troops could fire on unarmed migrants on the border (he later qualified this), and CNN reported that the Pentagon rebuffed instructions for the military to engage in law enforcement on the border, which is normally not allowed.
Trump has floated the idea that he could unilaterally end the constitutional protection of birthright citizenship, and his administration has toyed with implementing a $100 billion capital-gains tax cut without Congress, and sharing census citizenship information with law enforcement officials.
When courts push back on his lawlessness, Trump treats judges as political opponents. He tried to disqualify the Trump University judge, saying his Mexican ancestry meant he couldn't be fair to Trump. He rebuked the "so-called judge" who ruled against his travel ban, widely seen as unconstitutional before it was revised. And he earned a rebuke from Chief Justice John Roberts for blaming an "Obama judge" for a ruling that his administration must process asylum claims.
Meanwhile, five former Trump aides have pleaded guilty in Mueller's Russia probe, and others seem to regard it as perfectly plausible that Trump himself, as former aide Sam Nunberg put it, "may very well have done something during the election with the Russians."
On Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the latest filings "tell us nothing of value that wasn't already known." That's true in the sense that recent findings essentially corroborate much of the 2016 "dossier" by former spy Christopher Steele -- declared fraudulent by Trump -- and its reports of extensive, compromising interactions between the Trump campaign and cronies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The dossier's assertion of Michael Cohen's "ongoing secret liaison relationship" with Russian leadership has been confirmed by his now-exposed work on a Moscow Trump Tower well into 2016, which he lied about to Congress. The new revelations about Cohen also show that the dossier correctly identified Putin lieutenants Dmitry Peskov and Sergei Ivanov as the ones managing the Trump campaign for the Russian government.
Trump on Friday nominated William Barr to be attorney general, citing his "unwavering adherence to the rule of law."
If he's right about Barr, Individual-1, whose own adherence to the rule of law is wavering at best, will be deeply disappointed.
Dana Milbank | The Washington Post
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.
Alfonso Cuarón’s luminous memory play “Roma” may be the purest example of what the snobs call “cinema” — applying a filmmaker’s skills to show life as it is, in black and white, with no musical score or other artificial tricks.
But because of how the production was financed — and how that has determined where viewers are likely to see it, in a theater or on a TV screen — a debate is raging among those same snobs about whether “Roma” should count as a movie at all.
When one watches “Roma,” whether on a big screen or a small one, there is no debate: “Roma” should not only count as a movie, but as one of the year’s best.
Cuarón is the director, screenwriter, cinematographer and (with Adam Gough) editor on this highly personal story, based on his childhood growing up in Mexico City’s middle-class Roma neighborhood in the 1970s. The story is told from the vantage point of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), the family’s dutiful and shy housekeeper.
In the movie’s opening shot, Cuarón shows us water lapping across a tile floor, reflecting the skylight above and an airliner flying overhead. As the camera pulls back, we see that the water is from Cleo’s mop bucket, as she cleans up the dog poop left in the driveway. In a single shot, Cuarón beautifully captures the distance between Cleo’s unspoken dreams and her reality.
Cleo spends her day cleaning the house for Sra. Sofia (Marina de Tavira) and her four children: Teen son Toño (Diego Cortina Autrey), younger sons Paco (Carlos Peralta) and Pepe (Marco Graf), and the daughter, Sofi (Daniela Demesa). In the evening, the patriarch, Señor Antonio (Fernando Grediaga) comes home, his fancy car barely fitting in the driveway without scraping the walls.
When Sr. Antonio tells the family he’s going on a business trip to Quebec, Sra. Sofia is unusually emotional about his departure. Cuarón drops the clues of marital discord gradually, as if this is how he as a child might have experienced them.
( Photo courtesy of Netflix | Carlos Somonte ) Sra. Sofia (Marina de Tavira) holds her husband, Señor Antonio (Fernando Grediaga), before he leaves on a trip, in a scene from Alfonso Cuarón's "Roma." (Carlos Somonte/)
Cleo has her own personal problems, though. A short romance with Fermin (Jorge Antonio Guerrero), a young man obsessed with martial arts, leads to a pregnancy. Fermin soon disappears, and Cleo must rely on the help of Sra. Sofia, herself suffering from the heartbreak inflicted by an unfaithful man.
Cuarón captures tiny moments in exceptional detail, finding the humor and tears in the everyday. Sometimes outside events dovetail with personal milestones. The most harrowing is when Cleo and Sra. Sofia are shopping for a crib when a street riot breaks out nearby, and the ensuing violence and panic put Cleo in premature labor.
Cuarón, the director of “Y Tu Mama Tambien” and “Gravity,” got the funding for this deeply personal story by making a deal with the streaming service Netflix. The movie has screened in some theaters, and will open for a limited run this Friday at Salt Lake City’s Broadway Centre Cinemas — the same day it debuts on Netflix.
The Netflix link brought controversy when “Roma” premiered in late August at the Venice Film Festival — where it won the Golden Lion, the festival’s top prize. Some theater operators complained that Venice was giving a forum to a movie that would bypass their screens for the small screens at home. (A similar debate kept “Roma” from premiering at Cannes in May, when Netflix pulled all its titles over the French festival’s blanket ban on non-theatrical films.)
Certainly “Roma” would best be experienced in a theater, where Cuarón’s carefully shot images and precise sound design will land on the viewer with minimum distractions. But the truth is that many people don’t have easy access to a downtown art-house movie theater, but they do have Netflix hooked into their TVs. It’s not fair for the movie snobs to shame them.
If you have the chance to see “Roma” in a theater, the effort is worth it. If the choice is between seeing “Roma” on Netflix or not seeing it at all, watch it at home and let your TV become a window into Cleo’s life.
Alfonso Cuarón’s memory tale — looking at the life of his family’s housekeeper in 1970s Mexico City — is a beautiful document of life’s struggles, enjoyable on a big screen or a small one.
Where • Broadway Centre Cinemas; also debuts on Netflix.
When • Opens Friday, Dec. 14.
Rated • R for graphic nudity, some disturbing images, and language.
Running time • 135 minutes; in Spanish with subtitles.
A Utah insurance company has made headlines by giving its public sector enrollees – approximately 160,000 state residents – travel money and cash to go to Tijuana, Mexico, where they can buy prescription drugs cheaper than they can get them in the United States. As retired DEA agents who worked extensively in Latin America on illicit drug trafficking issues for more than 30 years, we can’t honestly think of a worse idea.
Some would call this an innovative way of getting around federal laws that prohibit the importation of prescription drugs from other countries. Anyone, though, with an awareness of what is happening in the world of counterfeit drug manufacturing and trafficking, particularly where Mexico is concerned, realizes that this insurance company is engaging in an extremely risky enterprise with potentially tragic consequences.
Earlier this year, Homeland Security officials and other police agencies concluded an operation that resulted in the seizure of counterfeit medications that originated in Mexico and were sold in the United States – enough drugs to fill multiple self-storage units. The ringleader of this operation wasn’t some notorious drug lord on most wanted lists. He had been a registered pharmacist in Tijuana.
This is far from an isolated example. In fact, in 2017, Mexico was ranked fifth internationally in the volume of counterfeit drugs seized by law enforcement. So, when American consumers cross the border in search of inexpensive medicines, they are literally heading into one of the world’s most active criminal markets in terms of the development and distribution of fake pills.
These are not, by any means, victimless crimes. Our nation has already seen too many deaths from counterfeit medications. In some cases, patients have seen their diseases worsen because they’re taking fake medicines that lack the necessary active ingredients. In others, death and disability comes more rapidly because these counterfeits are laced with lethal doses of fentanyl.
In fact, the Sinaloa Cartel is the leading drug trafficking syndicate in the Western Hemisphere and is a leading source of counterfeit pain medicines containing synthetic fentanyl. Other traffickers such as the Zetas paramilitary crime syndicate are also active in making sure these drugs find their way to American patients.
Amidst these clear and present dangers, we can’t ensure the safety of Utah citizens who are being encouraged and subsidized to get critically-important medicines from Tijuana. The insurer insists that the Tijuana medical facility with which it is working is perfectly safe (they even compared it to the Mayo Clinic), but one has to be concerned that an influx of 160,000 cash-laden American customers will make this destination a particularly inviting target for counterfeiters and traffickers. The State Department has also repeatedly warned Americans traveling to Mexico of the rampant crime and increased homicides.
Finally, it’s not as if counterfeiting activity is limited to Mexico’s criminal underworld. The former governor of Vera Cruz is currently charged with purchasing counterfeit anti-cancer drugs for government hospitals. Pediatric cancer patients in a Vera Cruz hospital died after receiving these fake medicines that had no therapeutic ingredients.
There is a reason why Congress and multiple Food and Drug Administration commissioners from both Democratic and Republican administrations have insisted for years that it is not safe to bring drugs from other countries into the United States. Because we see, time and again, how medicines that aren’t subject to strict FDA rules on manufacturing, labeling, and distribution carry a definite risk. Given the deaths our nation has already absorbed from counterfeit drugs and fentanyl-doctored medications, it’s not worth risking the health and safety of Utahns or Americans overall.
Steve Murphy and Javier Peña actively investigated and pursued illegal international drug traffickers during their decades-long careers in the Drug Enforcement Administration. They served as inspiration and consultants for the Netflix show “Narcos,” now in its fourth season.
In vexillology — or the study of flags — there are five basic principles that guide good design: simplicity, meaningful symbolism, limited use of colors, no lettering or seals and distinction from other flags.
Utah’s official state flag violates essentially every one of these principles.
“The Utah flag is considered by these vexillologists to be an ‘S.O.B.’ — seal on a bedsheet,” said Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton. “It really is a mess. They’ve thrown everything in there but the kitchen sink.”
Handy said he was recently introduced to the topic of flag design by constituents who advocated for a redesign. Over time, he said, he was convinced that a new flag would be good for the state, and he’s preparing legislation to create a flag review commission.
If approved by lawmakers next year, the commission would seek input and design ideas from the public, Handy said, before making a recommendation to lawmakers ahead of the 2020 legislative session.
“This will be one of those things where people say, ‘Oh, Legislature, you’re wasting time and money again,’” Handy said. “As I have thought about it, I think it’s an important discussion. We pride ourselves on so many good things that are happening in the state of Utah, why not have something that’s a very powerful symbol of our state?”
The general design of Utah’s flag is more than 100 years old, with the state seal emblazoned upon a blue background. It has gone through various updates, including adoption of its current design in 2011, and includes images of an American bald eagle, arrows, sego lilies and a beehive on a white shield, the words “Industry” and “Utah," the dates 1847 and 1896, and two United States flags, all ringed in a gold circle.
(Jeremy Harmon | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah's first flag sits on a work table in the basement at the Rio Grande Depot, home of the Utah state historical offices, on Feb. 15, 2018. Archivists are concerned about the current storage facility and the potential for serious damage from water to the collection of artifacts and documents it houses.
While many of those symbols are tied to specific elements of Utah history and culture, they effectively blend into incomprehension when the flag is displayed high in the air.
Chance Hammock, a Utah resident and self-described “armchair amateur vexillologist,” said the state’s flag would be difficult to pick out of a lineup of U.S. state banners, many of which are also blue-backgrounded S.O.B.s.
“Right now," he said, “Utah’s flag looks like 30 other state flags.”
Hammock, who previously worked for Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, said he pitched the idea of a new Utah flag to Handy after bumping into the lawmaker last summer.
He gave Handy the example of the Four Corners region, where the borders of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico touch at a single point. There you have three of the best-designed flags in the country, Hammock said.
“Then you’ve got Utah,” he said, “which is a seal on a bedsheet.”
Handy was also encouraged by Joseph Shelton, who runs the website UtahFlag.org as co-director of the Utah Flag Group. The website includes a brief primer on the principles of flag design and invites visitors to submit their own vision for a new Utah flag.
Shelton said his interest in flag design grew while serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and a friend on the mission would regularly design their own flags, which led them to seek out Handy after their missionary service.
He said the issue may not be as dire as other topics lawmakers face. But he added that residents of states like Colorado and Arizona will often display their state flags on clothing or other items, and it bolsters a sense of pride and camaraderie.
That doesn’t happen, he said, in Utah.
“We absolutely need to change the flag,” Shelton said. “There is something to be said for having a good flag.”
Handy emphasized that his bill would not affect the state seal. And any potential redesign would follow and incorporate feedback from Utahns.
“It’s not a mandate to change the flag,” he said. “It’s a mandate to say, ‘Let’s review it.’”
His bill also comes during a time when Salt Lake City leaders are considering a redesign of the city’s flag. Mayor Jackie Biskupski last month announced the launch of a survey that will be followed by a call for design submissions.
According to vexillologists (people who study flags), #SLC's flag leaves much to be desired. What do you think? Does #SLC need a new design? If so, what would you like to see included. Take our survey to learn more and share your opinion --> https://t.co/x7kQyxWBlP #NewFlagSLC pic.twitter.com/uSRK3fi2pL— Mayor J. Biskupski (@slcmayor) November 28, 2018
Attempts to redesign flags in other states have proved to be controversial, like the debate over Confederate symbols on the flag of Georgia, or the use of an unofficial “people’s flag” in Milwaukee.
Hammock said he’s encouraged, but also “a little bit scared” that Handy is sponsoring legislation aimed at reviewing the flag. A successful redesign must include and incorporate public opinion, he said, but there’s still the potential for disagreement.
“If you’re going to change the flag,” he said, “people need to have buy-in.”
When Utah lawmakers voted this week to override a publicly-approved medical marijuana initiative, a common argument raised was that while a majority of voters statewide had approved Proposition 2, the initiative had actually failed in many or most House and Senate districts.
Those voting trends muddied a clear mandate of the public, lawmakers said, as individual representatives and senators answer primarily to their respective voters — rather than the entire state.
“The fact that a majority voted in the state of Utah is an important factor,” said Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo. “But we represent our districts.”
The marijuana debate highlighted the complex and sometimes counterintuitive dynamics at play in electoral math, in which artificial political boundaries can lead to large voting blocs being minimized or even canceled out by opposition in neighboring areas.
Utah’s voting maps typically exaggerate the state’s Republican majority, to the detriment of Democrats and third-party voters. In 2018, Democratic candidates received one out of every three votes in state House elections, but the party will hold only one in five House seats next year, according to a Salt Lake Tribune analysis of election results.
Marcus Stevenson, political director for the Utah Democratic Party, said he was not surprised by the disparity between the popular vote and the party’s representation in state government. He said state lawmakers have intentionally condensed liberal-leaning areas like Salt Lake City into as few voting districts as possible to dilute the Democratic vote, a practice known commonly as “packing and cracking.”
“I don’t think the party has been cheated out of representation, I think the people of Utah have been cheated out of representation,” Stevenson said. “Their voice, their votes, aren’t being counted the way that they should be.”
That could potentially change under Proposition 4, which seeks to mitigate the power of incumbent lawmakers to draw their own districts by empaneling an independent redistricting commission. The initiative passed with a razor-thin majority of votes — winning without winning everywhere, like Prop 2 — and despite vocal opposition by legislators.
Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said much of the debate around Utah’s voting maps are “after-the-fact sour grapes.” He has previously described the redistricting power as the spoils of victory, and told The Tribune this week that elections have winners and losers and our system of government has never been expected to enshrine losing votes.
“We could rip up the state constitution and the federal Constitution and we could start over and we could try to write something that would be more pluralistic,” Weiler said. “That is certainly achievable. But that’s not our system and I don’t think it should be.”
Crunching the numbers
Last month, Utahns cast a combined 624,450 votes for Republican state House candidates, 344,736 votes for Democratic House candidates, and 43,074 votes for third-party House candidates. Those numbers translate to 62 percent of the popular House vote for Republicans, 34 percent for Democrats and 4 percent for third-party candidates.
But Republicans will hold 59 House seats next year — or 79 percent— compared with 16 seats — 21 percent — for Democrats. No third-party candidates won election.
If Utah’s House districts perfectly represented the state’s popular vote, Democrats could expect to hold at least nine additional seats. That scenario would bring their total representation in the chamber to roughly 25 seats, potentially jeopardizing the Republican party’s veto-proof House supermajority.
“Our Democratic Party wants to see the most fair representation in the state,” Stevenson said. “Whatever the will of the people is, we accept that. We just want to make sure that voices are heard equitably.”
(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)
A similar dynamic is at play in this year’s popular vote for Utah Senate, albeit with less clear implications for representation within the chamber. While all House seats come up for election every two years — providing an analogous snapshot of the statewide electorate — Senate elections are staggered so that roughly half of the members' four-year terms conclude during each election cycle.
This year, the map of Senate districts up for election ran through Democratic-leaning Salt Lake County, with all but one of the minority party-held seats on the ballot. But even with that dynamic in play, Utah Republicans won 67 percent of Senate seats on the ballot with only 57 percent of the Senate popular vote, a swing of 10 percentage points in favor of the state’s dominant party.
Weiler said that if those fortunes were reversed, with the Utah Republican Party winning fewer seats than its vote share, or if it became the state’s minority party, it would be up to individual conservatives whether to cry foul over representation. But he added that he would not join them in that criticism.
“I grew up Republican just outside of Chicago,” Weiler said. “I know what it feels like to be in the minority and I never adopted this proportionality argument that is being floated.”
Defending Prop 4
Jeff Wright, co-chairman of the Proposition 4 campaign with former Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, said his team always saw the initiative as having three parts: getting on the ballot, winning in November, and advocating against legislative attempts to undo or alter the independent redistricting commission.
“We’re going to defend this,” Wright said. “We’re going to look at every district. We’re going to look at every representative’s home area and make sure that we make a case to them on why this is important.”
(Steve Griffin | Tribune file photo) Former SLC Mayor Ralph Becker, right, and Jeff Wright talk about the formal launch of the Better Boundaries initiative, which will ask voters to create an independent commission to redraw political districts . The pair spoke from the Cicero Group offices in Salt Lake City Thursday July 20, 2017.
Wright prefers to not speculate on how the commission’s maps will change who wins in the state. Instead, he emphasizes the map-drawing guidelines included in Prop 4, such as the preservation — to the degree possible — of existing geographical, city, county and community boundaries.
That may or may not make Utah’s districts more competitive, he said, but it should lead to more natural and common-sense groupings of voters.
“I just think you’re going to have a better, representative map of the state of Utah,” Wright said.
Redistricting occurs every decade, with the next round of map-drawing expected in 2021 after completion of the 2020 census. Under Proposition 4, lawmakers retain their constitutional power to vote on district boundaries, but after consideration of the independent panel’s recommendations.
Because voting districts must be equal in population, it is inevitable that some cities, counties and communities will be divided among representatives. And some of the “packing” described by Stevenson occurs naturally, as like-minded voters tend to reside near each other.
Stevenson said a level of disparity between the popular vote and chamber representation is to be expected, particularly in the Senate where fewer seats mean larger districts. But he suggested the Democratic Party’s deficit of 13 percentage points in the Utah House is excessive.
“The reality is that we should be in the realm of [the popular vote],” he said. “This is why Prop 4 is so important."
Paul Edwards, spokesman for Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, said the governor would not encourage any “tinkering” with the redistricting initiative by lawmakers.
“If the topic were to come up during the general session,” Edwards said, “the governor would work with legislative leaders to ensure that the voice of the people in support of Proposition 4 be upheld.”
‘Potholes are not partisan’
Weiler acknowledged that map-drawing can determine the outcome of an election, and that there is potential that the redistricting power could be abused. But he said he rejects the premise that election outcomes must or should reflect the state’s partisan makeup.
“That’s not how we do it in America," he said.
Weiler said all of government, including redistricting, is increasingly seen through a partisan lens. But the U.S. Constitution does not mention political parties, he said, as they were not seen as a priority by the Founding Fathers.
Divisive, controversial debate may get the most attention, Weiler said, but much of government is bipartisan — or even nonpartisan. He gave the example of potholes, which need to be filled whether a city council is majority Republican or majority Democrat. (Municipal elections in the state are nonpartisan.)
“Potholes are not partisan,” Weiler said. “Most of the work we do at the Legislature is more analogous to filling potholes than trying to solve the abortion issue.”
(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake, and Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, discuss SB27 and HB125, that help survivors of domestic violence during a press event at the Utah Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. (Francisco Kjolseth/)
But Stevenson said gerrymandering goes beyond a partisan advantage. The maps have traditionally been drawn and voted on by incumbents in both parties, he said, and Prop 4 could lead to more competition in urban areas of Utah that are currently Democratic strongholds.
“Whether it be the state House or the state Senate, these communities are sliced and diced into the way that best helps those incumbents in that area,” he said.
Wright said Prop 4 is aimed at structural reform, indifferent to which party holds a majority in the state in any given decade.
“I’m a Republican,” Wright said. “I want to see Republicans win. But I want to see them win at the ballot box based on ideas that they have and based on their policies and who they are, and not [based] on backroom dealing.”
He said his group, Better Boundaries, has not been approached by lawmakers about any potential compromise reforms, as happened with supporters and opponents of medical marijuana legalization before Prop 2 was replaced with negotiated legislation in special session.
“We are prepared for the long haul here," Wright said, “to make sure that this is implemented and the will of the people is respected.”
Las Vegas • With drought entering a second decade and reservoirs continuing to shrink, seven Southwestern U.S. states that depend on the overtaxed Colorado River for crop irrigation and drinking water had been expected to ink a crucial share-the-pain contingency plan by the end of 2018.
They're not going to make it — at least not in time for upcoming meetings in Las Vegas involving representatives from Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the U.S. government, officials say.
Arizona has been the holdout, with farmers, cities, Indian tribes and lawmakers in the state set to be first to feel the pinch still negotiating how to deal with water cutbacks when a shortage is declared, probably in 2020.
"There will be cuts. We all know the clock is ticking. That's what a lot of the difficult negotiations have been around," said Kim Mitchell, Western Resource Advocates water policy adviser and a delegate to ongoing meetings involving the Arizona Department of Water Resources, Central Arizona Project, agricultural, industrial and business interests, the governor, state lawmakers and cities including Tucson and Phoenix.
In Arizona, unlike other states, a final drought contingency plan must pass the state Legislature when it convenes in January.
Federal water managers wanted a deal to sign at the annual Colorado River Water Users Association conference beginning Wednesday in Las Vegas, and threatened earlier this year to impose unspecified measures from Washington if a voluntary drought contingency plan wasn't reached.
However, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman is signaling that the agency that controls the levers on the river is willing to wait. She is scheduled to talk to the conference on Thursday.
"Reclamation remains cautiously optimistic that the parties will find a path forward," the bureau said in a statement on Friday, "because finding a consensus deal recognizing the risks of continuing drought and the benefits of a drought contingency plan is in each state's best interest."
Colorado River water supports about 40 million people and millions of acres of farmland in the U.S. and Mexico.
After 19 years of drought and increasing demand, federal water managers project a 52 percent chance that the river’s biggest reservoir, Lake Mead behind Hoover Dam, will fall low enough to trigger cutbacks under agreements governing the system.
The seven states saw this coming years ago, and used Colorado River Water Users Association meetings in December 2007 to sign a 20-year "guidelines" plan to share the burden of a shortage.
Contingency agreements would update that pact, running through 2026. They call for voluntarily using less to keep more water in the system's two main reservoirs, lakes Powell and Mead.
Lake Powell upstream from of the Grand Canyon is currently at 43 percent capacity; Lake Mead, downstream, is at 38 percent.
Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, the river's Upper Basin states, aim to keep the surface of Lake Powell above a target level to continue water deliveries to irrigation districts and cities and also keep hydroelectric turbines humming at Glen Canyon Dam.
The Lower Basin states of California, Arizona and Nevada aim to keep Lake Mead above a shortage declaration trigger point by using less water than they're legally entitled to.
If Lake Mead falls below that level, Arizona will face a 9 percent reduction in water supply, Nevada a 3 percent cut and California up to 8 percent. Mexico's share of river water would also be reduced.
Water officials in most states — from the Southern Nevada Water Authority in Las Vegas to the Colorado River Water Conservation District in Glenwood Springs, Colorado — have signed off on plans in recent weeks.
In Arizona, the board governing the Central Arizona Project irrigation system approved the Lower Basin plan on Thursday.
In California, the sprawling Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves some 19 million people, is set to approve it Tuesday.
Board members there were reminded the agreements are only a short-term fix.
According to a board briefing, the Bureau of Reclamation, seven basin states and water contractors will begin negotiating again beginning no later than 2020.
“That process is expected to result in new rules for management and operation of the Colorado River after 2026,” the board briefing said.
Almost exactly two-thirds of land in Utah, 66.5 percent, is federally owned. We have easy access to those lands.
In the 59 years since I first entered Utah, I have enjoyed land the United States owns and federal employees manage. Sometimes it was a family outing or hunting with friends. Other times it was to save my sanity. After skyscrapers fell on 9-11, I went alone and sat by a stream on Cache National Forest.
I have been fortunate to work with good people who dedicate their lives to taking care of our public land. Some were ranchers whose grandparents settled there. Others were college-educated land specialists. Many were my ex-students, charged with managing our land. Still others were scientists doing research to unlock secrets of the Earth; others applied their research results to keep our land healthy.
Our public lands provide temporary storage of water, held as snow, that is legally claimed by individuals, towns, farms and businesses downstream. They are habitat for wildlife and fish. They provide rights-of-way for roads, highways and utility lines to connect cities and land owned by private individuals. They offer hunting, camping and unique recreational opportunities for all Americans. Some are in Utah, but they belong to you and me.
Public lands provide livelihood, mainly through grazing and tourism, for people living in some of the most remote and poorest communities in our country. The vast majority of people depending on public lands are those of us who live near them. It makes sense that the owners of the land, we-the-people of the United States, should provide our hired managers (Forest Service, BLM, etc.) adequate funds to manage them.
Utahns have a birdnest on the ground. We only provide a tiny bit of funding for public lands that lie within our state. People in all 49 other states provide funds for care of our lands in Utah. The federal government pays Utah counties with public lands in their borders funds in lieu of taxes. What a deal!
Instead of appreciating benefits our federal lands bring to Utah, some officials want state control of public lands. Gov. Gary Herbert is pushing a “roadless issue” petition that would encourage access roads and other activities to control fires on public land. Some fear it would attract houses and development of in-holdings. Opponents say it is a step toward control of federal land. Whatever the proposal, expansion of state activities on public lands should be initiated by the landowner (federal government), not the state.
There are roughly 325 million people in our United States. About 3.1 million are Utahns. Apparently our governor wants fewer than 1 percent of Americans to dictate land use on federal land jointly owned by the other 99 percent.
Utah people wanting control of the American people’s lands should realize global warming is real. A new report issued by the World Meteorological Organization says 2018 will be the fourth-warmest year on record. Most increasing temperatures come from densely populated, privately owned areas, not publicly owned wildlands.
We expect state officials to spend their time managing land Utahns own: concentrating housing, building up instead of out, decreasing use of fossil fuels, increasing public transportation, adjusting utility rates to reward efficient use, punishing wasteful activities, etc. There’s more to gain by improving Utah than meddling with Americans’ public lands. We Americans do better when we tackle problems in our jurisdiction and depend on science rather than beliefs.
Thad Box is professor emeritus in the Quinney College of Natural Resources at Utah State University, serving as dean of the college from 1970 to 1990.
During my generation’s lifetime, environmental protection has seemingly been the sole province of the far left. They are the ones we see on television ranting about environmental problems. They are the ones we pass on the street screaming their alarm about environmental impacts. They are the ones we see on the internet advocating policy solutions.
History books tell me that there was a time, not too long ago, when Americans engaged in reasonable and effective conversations on this very topic. Leaders across geographic and political divides searched for solutions that would support the environment and enhance the economy. One organization leading the charge was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Under the direction of then-President Spencer W. Kimball, the church highlighted the fact that the environment is a creation of God and it is our responsibility to protect that creation.
But then this productive environmental movement came to a halt. Extremist groups co-opted the issue and very quickly turned the word “environmentalist” into a radical term. These extremist groups likely had pure motives — to help the environment — but proved to be an impatient lot. Their tactics were aggressive, and their “solutions” would have effectively shut down the U.S. economy. As a result, all of the groups that were effectively pushing for reasonable solutions to U.S. environmental policy, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, quickly distanced themselves from this now radical environmental movement.
It is fascinating that, through all of this change, the church’s doctrines on environmentalism have remained consistent. In contrast to the screams of the outside world, its teachings have been based on common-sense understandings of humanity’s divine purpose on this planet.
Many years ago, now-President and then-apostle Russell M. Nelson wrote, “As beneficiaries of the divine Creation, what shall we do? We should care for the earth, be wise stewards over it, and preserve it for future generations. And we are to love and care for one another.”
This is more than a nice thought. It is a command from God regarding humanity’s responsibilities over God’s creations.
Fast forward to today, and the church’s current statement regarding environmental stewardship is virtually the same and only strengthens the church’s commitment to our being wise stewards over the environment:
“As beneficiaries of this divine creation, we should care for the earth, be wise stewards over it, and preserve it for future generations. The earth and all things on it are part of God’s plan for the redemption of His children and should be used responsibly to sustain the human family (see 1 Nephi 17:36; Moses 1:39; Abraham 3:24–25). However, all are stewards — not owners — over this earth and its bounty and will be accountable before God for what they do with His creations (see D&C 104:13–15).”
Latter-day Saints have been consistent and steadfast in recognizing that we must actively protect this Earth from harm. So, what does that mean in this increasingly tribalized and hyperpartisan culture? First, we must not take reactionary positions that do nothing more than oppose proposals from extremists. That will get us nowhere.
The church’s doctrine on environmental stewardship is a call to action for members to reject false solutions from the right and left and remain focused on sound policies that improve the environment while allowing all of Heavenly Father’s children to flourish. The church is clear that we have an obligation to protect the Earth as God’s creation.
Second, we must craft proposals ourselves. The sad reality is that there are too few reasonable, fact-based environmental solutions in this country. The church and its members have an opportunity to serve as bold leaders on this issue by demonstrating what it means to be wise stewards of the Earth. This requires identifying, developing and implementing actual solutions to real problems facing our planet. These reasonable solutions will not only honor our faith and our country but will preserve this world’s resources and beauty for future generations.
Steven T. Collis chairs the nationwide religious institutions and First Amendment practice group of Holland & Hart LLP and is a fellow of The Western Way, a nonpartisan organization focused on sound solutions to environmental challenges. His book “Deep Conviction” will be released in June 2019 from Shadow Mountain Publishing.
San Antonio • After setting a franchise record for 3-pointers made when they faced the Spurs last Tuesday in Salt Lake City, the Jazz seemingly couldn’t have thrown the ball in the San Antonio River in the first half on Sunday evening.
And while Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio rallied the team late, its early errors proved too much to overcome.
Arguably the Spurs’ best defensive effort of the season, combined with Utah’s inability to generate any easy, early offense or stop San Antonio’s lethal midrange attack, resulted in a 110-97 Spurs victory.
The loss snapped the Jazz’s modest two-game winning streak, and dropped the team to 13-14 on the season.
“They’re the same team; they were just a lot better, and we weren’t as good as we needed to be,” said coach Quin Snyder. “We got stagnant. We started the game pretty well defensively, and then went through a period where we didn’t score for a long time. When that happens, your defense has to hold you in the game, and it can only hold you for so long.”
Indeed, with both teams struggling to convert shots in the game’s opening minutes, Utah’s defense was the better at the outset, and staked the Jazz to an 18-13 lead. However, over the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second, San Antonio’s defense swarmed Utah’s shooters, and the Jazz offense went from cold to frigid.
The Spurs then capitalized on the other end, and the resulting 17-0 run put them ahead to stay. The Jazz were outscored 31-18 in the second quarter, as San Antonio built an 18-point advantage at the break.
Ricky: "We stopped moving the ball, and we missed some open shots. … When you can’t get a bucket, it’s hard to get stops, and vice versa. … We ran out of gas at the end." pic.twitter.com/z2LWiKeem6— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) December 10, 2018
“We stopped moving the ball, and we missed some open shots. … When you can’t get a bucket, it’s hard to get stops, and vice versa,” said Rubio. “It was a tough stretch — a [17-0] run, and we can’t play that way.”
Center Rudy Gobert, who totaled 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, agreed that was the pivotal stretch of the contest.
“We should be concerned about the second quarter more than anything,” Gobert said. “We gave them a fight, we came back, but it was not enough.”
Rudy: "We should be concerned about the second quarter more than anything. We gave them a fight, we came back, but it was not enough." And in the second half, "We played with more force." pic.twitter.com/BiTCqhi778— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) December 10, 2018
True enough. After a positively anemic opening 24 minutes, the third quarter was a revelation. Utah scored a combined 36 points in the first and second periods — it matched that total in the third alone.
Mitchell and Rubio powered the rally. The former started drilling shots from the perimeter; the latter continually snaked his way into the lane. Together, they whittled down San Antonio’s advantage, scoring 13 apiece in the third, as the Jazz knocked eight points off their deficit.
The backcourt kept it up in the fourth. Mitchell and Rubio wound up with 27 and 26, respectively, for the game — and 46 of their combined 53 points came after halftime.
However, too many little plays gone awry negated the comeback effort.
The Jazz got within five points in the fourth quarter, only to commit two straight turnovers and see the deficit balloon back to 11. They forced a stop on defense, then fumbled the rebound away to Rudy Gay, whose inside fadeaway further solidified San Antonio’s lead. Mitchell got Spurs big man Jakob Poeltl switched onto him on the perimeter, but committed a turnover.
Donovan, on his 27-point second half: "I didn’t pay attention to it. What I did pay attention to was the fact that I kept getting blown by on defense. If I score, I score; if I don’t, I don’t — it’s not the end of the world to me." pic.twitter.com/YoY58tFpxj— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) December 10, 2018
“Just little things — whether it was losing a man, offensive rebounds, turnovers, our offense,” said Mitchell. “Every little thing matters when it’s a five-point lead, and we just didn’t execute down the stretch.”
His 27-point second-half explosion mattered little to him, he added, considering “the fact that I kept getting blown by on defense.”
Mitchell’s primary matchup, DeMar DeRozan, totaled 26 points, eight assists, and six rebounds. Gay, who started at the four, made one clutch play after another down the stretch, grabbing loose balls, hitting tough shots, and finishing with 23 points and 15 rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge was an efficient 10 for 15 from near the rim and in the deep midrange, and he totaled 20 points.
Rubio lamented that the Jazz overcame their awful start to get so close, only to have it all go wrong again late.
“We ran out of gas at the end,” he said. “… It sucks. We fought. … The San Antonio Spurs, they know how to play, too. An offensive rebound, a couple mistakes, and they make you pay.”
Quin, first on the impact of Rudy Gay; then on the comeback not being able to totally make up for the poor second quarter: "Our guys responded; you put yourself in a position where sometimes a response isn’t enough to win a game." pic.twitter.com/bHGd6TWA47— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) December 10, 2018
Snyder, meanwhile, lamented that the poor play early made the furious comeback try necessary at all.
“Our guys responded,” he said, “[but] you put yourself in a position where sometimes a response isn’t enough to win a game.”
San Antonio • Jazz assistant coach Mike Wells dashed out of the locker room pregame, on his way to turn in the team’s official list of active and inactive players.
As he passed rookie guard Grayson Allen stretching out in the hallway, Wells slowed momentarily to tell him, “You’re active tonight!”
“Really?” the Duke guard asked in response.
“You like that, don’t you?” Wells retorted, before resuming his sprint.
Allen liked it.
Of course, Allen wound up getting only 22 meaningless seconds at the end of Sunday’s 110-97 loss. His minutes with the Jazz have been similarly minute of late, and so he’s recently been assigned to the G League affiliate Salt Lake Stars for a pair of games.
Asked which was more helpful for him at this point, to get regular playing time with the Stars, or to be around the Jazz, even if getting sporadic playing time, Allen said there were positives to both.
“Even when I’m not playing, or I might get in for a few minutes, I still learn a lot from getting up and getting scouting reports and watching the game up close and watching the preparation up close and being with the team,” Allen said. “Also, I think it’s good to get out there — both the [G League] games I played, I think I played 35 minutes. It’s good for me to play extended minutes at a time like that, to get out there and work on some of the stuff I’ve been trying to improve on throughout the year. Because once you get going, we don’t have a lot of time to practice — so it’s nice for me to get some time.”
Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said he closely reviews the Stars’ game film to see how players are doing.
Allen confirmed as much, noting that he’d reviewed the tape with Jazz assistant Johnnie Bryant, and that Snyder had also passed along some notes: “He’s told me he has more that he’s gonna give me, that we’re gonna go through when we have time.”
The feedback mirrors what Allen had already been told — mostly that he needs to continue to work on defense.
The Duke product said he’s mostly focusing on small details and attempting to get them ingrained — defensive shifts; determining when to stay at home and when to help on pick-and-rolls; even simply maintaining a proper stance for the duration of a defensive possession.
“It’s just getting those habits and footwork down,” Allen said. “… That’s where my focus is right now.”
Utahns’ recent vote approved medical marijuana. But now that measure has been supplanted by a “compromise” in order to bow to the LDS Church! It matters not that the people have spoken loud and clear.
The First Amendment was written to erect "a wall of separation between church and state." This, of course, is Utah, the only state where "separation of church and state" doesn't apply. The Constitution in Thomas Jeffersons time established this. Now the LDS Church, which came along in the mid-1800s, is telling our legislators what to do to make sure the bill gets watered down enough to make it good for us.
Koola A. Ventura, Layton
June 12, 1989, as I was listening to newscaster Morton Dean deliver the news of the day, he mentioned that it was President George H.W. Bush’s birthday, his 65th. I was celebrating my 40th — both monumental milestones that receive special attention.
Needless to say, a smile broke out on my face, and I decided to send the president a birthday card, realizing that the chance of him receiving it was very slim, and mentioning the coincidence of our sharing the date.
Lo and behold, several weeks later, I received, on White House stationery, a very nice letter from President Bush stating that Barbara joined him in wishing me a very happy 40th birthday. Now, granted, it wasn’t a signed letter from Washington or Lincoln, but special indeed in its own right. It is framed and sits in proud display in my home to this day.
As we, as a nation, pay our respects to this very fine man, who spoke of gentleness and kindness to one another, tears well in my eyes. Thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership of civility and artful articulation of the American Dream.
Anne Stringham, Salt Lake City
The relatively unimportant judicial action over CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press credentials passed without notice of its truly vital issue.
Putting aside politics, parties you may prefer or presidents you love or hate, a lawyer sitting on a bench simply decided what another branch of government could do.
The White House can hold news conferences or not as it chooses. Invitations (“credentials” are merely an administrative convenience) are its own concern and do not even involve law or rights. No court in the land has any business ordering around of another branch of government. The appropriate response to CNN’s lawsuit would have been “This is an executive branch matter and none of the judiciary’s concern. Filing dismissed.”
There are some 657 federal district courts where court-shopping has long facilitated reliance on the calamitous 1803 Marbury v. Madison ruling as an excuse to justify unconstitutional judicial interference. Lawyers scream “independent” judiciary, but what they really mean is supreme and unaccountable judiciary. To even dream that the Founding Fathers envisioned “their nine supreme majesties,” let alone 675 other single lawyers or various appellate courts, monarchically ruling the other branches, is patently absurd.
The concept is a time bomb portending a future constitutional crisis.
Paul Sharp, Salt Lake City
Sen. Mike Lee's single-handed blockage of legislation to protect the Mueller investigation is almost farcical, because he said the proposed protection threatens government's “separation of powers.”
His justification was a dissent concocted by Justice Antonin Scalia against an old 7-1 Supreme Court decision saying a law that creates an independent counsel is constitutional. Furthermore, the excuses used by the present Republican leadership, that legislation for protection of Mueller's work is not needed, is equally farcical. As we know, despite assurances otherwise, Trump can change his mind on issues quicker than a flag changes direction in a hurricane.
My impressions of the first two years under Trump are quite different. I've been shocked at what power and influence this authoritarian wannabe apparently has. To single-handedly trash vital regulation, impose tariffs, stifle investigations, violate the Emoluments Clause, separate families, withdraw from treaties and, without repercussion, demonize the press, his opponents and many other world leaders, and outright lie constantly, my question is: Where are the guardrails on this guy? How can this happen in our democracy?
The new Congress should get busy and strengthen the “separation of powers,” or the awful stink of authoritarianism and extreme corruption could overcome us.
John Kennington, Cottonwood Heights
Gov. Gary Herbert’s proposal to increase the sales tax and to add a tax on services like haircuts and home repair raises revenue but hurts consumers and many small businesses.
However, a tax on carbon pollution could be a win-win for everyone. A carbon tax could generate revenue for the state while allowing a reduction in some other taxes and also help protect our environment by incentivizing a market-based solution to greenhouse gas emissions.
As a pioneering state, let’s take an innovative approach to raising revenue. A carbon tax will protect our economy, consumers, businesses and our environment.
Robert T. Peterson, South Jordan
I read the letter that David Haughey wrote and said to myself, don't write back. But then I have to tell myself that this guy is a nutcase.
I'm not a red or a blue guy, but if I voted in the presidential election for a Democrat, my vote wouldn't be counted. I could go on and on, but let’s get to the last part of his letter.
The charge is that the Democratic Party has morphed into extreme hatred. This is simply untrue.
If this guy wants to look at real lies, civil liberties, socialism, reasonable debate, big money, he might look into the present president. This guy lies every day, bullies every day and is a racist.
He also wants to change the Constitution at will.
Last: I have not read the Federalist Papers, but will look it up. I do ask Haughey to find any Democrat who wants open borders, and call me.
Michal J. Hughes, Taylorsville
Fact-checkers at The Washington Post create a new “Bottomless Pinocchio” designation for repeated dishonesty. A Tribune analysis indicates Democrats may be getting shortchanged on their representation in the Utah Legislature. And the things that make Legacy Parkway unique may be disappearing.
Happy Monday. One industry that President Donald Trump has unquestionably spurred to full employment is news media fact-checking. In fact, The Washington Post on Monday announced a new category in its fact-checking, “the Bottomless Pinocchio.” The Post explained that its previous worst designation -- a Four Pinocchio -- just wasn’t sufficient to describe the level of dishonesty that is reflected in some of the president’s false claims repeated over and over. One example: Trump’s campaign promise to build a border wall. In fact, it hasn’t happened. [WaPost]
Topping the news: A Tribune analysis shows a significant gap between the percentage of votes won by Democrats in recent legislative elections and the seats they captured — a disparity that could indicate gerrymandering. [Trib]
-> Salt Lake County’s population is now minority Mormon. Some 48.91 percent of residents are LDS, marking the smallest percentage since at least the 1930s. [Trib]
-> Recently ousted Republican Rep. Mia Love said on national television on Friday that President Donald Trump is not racist, but Democrats are. [Trib]
Tweets of the Day: From @joshgondelman: “My pettiest conspiracy theory is that I don’t believe pilots when they say they’re flying faster because of the wind.”
-> From @ConanOBrien: “Aaa yes, that time of year again when we all break out the word ‘Tis.”
-> From @Sam_Baker: “Some people who should rethink their beards: Jack Dorsey LeBron James Ted Cruz. This has been the beard update. Thank you.”
In other news: Utah’s Legacy Parkway is a unique freeway which doesn’t allow trucks, limits speed to 55 mph, and has rubberized pavement designed to dampen sound for environmental protection purposes. In January 2020, these restrictions will end without legislative action. [Trib]
-> The Herriman City mayor won’t face any criminal charges for his alleged “unauthorized spending,” but the city isn’t ready to forget his actions. A meeting will be held Wednesday to discuss Mayor David Watts’ spending. [Trib]
-> Rep.-Elect Ben McAdam’s campaign staff was promised a combined $80,000 in bonuses if he won the midterm election. Thus far the payments are listed as “owed” but not yet paid. [Trib]
-> The last vestiges of a polygamist sect of was evicted from its meetinghouse in Colorado City, Ariz., on Thursday. The owner of the property said it would like to reallocate the use of the building to benefit the entire community. [Trib]
-> Rep. Mia Love outspent Rep.-Elect Ben McAdams by $2.2 million in her re-election bid. [DNews]
-> The Salt Lake Valley has two new air quality monitors, one in Murray and one in Magna. [KSL]
-> A Midvale neighborhood is upset about a surge in crime and vandalism — something they blame on transients being attracted to 32 empty houses vacated for a planned transportation project. [KUTV]
-> Tribune columnist Robert Gehrke described George H.W. Bush’s kindness in a note he wrote for a Utah girl, referencing it for what it says about politics today. [Trib]
-> Pat Bagley illustrates lawmaking the Utah Way. [Trib]
Nationally: Top House Democrats say President Donald Trump faces the real prospect of impeachment or, once he leaves office, indictment, if its proven that he directed hush payments to women who said they had extramarital affairs with him. [APviaTrib]
-> Whether a sitting president can be indicted is a matter of dispute. [AP]
-> Former FBI Director James Comey says Americans should use every breath they have to end the lies in January 2021 and elect a new president. [CNN]
-> Tourists are loving U.S. national parks to death, swarming wild places that used to be lonely and serene. [GuardianviaTrib]
President Trump said he plans to nominate William Barr as his next attorney general, taking over for Jeff Sessions some time in the next few months. Barr was attorney general under President George H.W. Bush. [BloombergviaTrib][Fox13][NYTimes][CNN]
-> Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke is emerging as a prominent wildcard in the 2020 presidential primaries, which currently lacks a Democratic frontrunner. [NYTimes]
-- Dan Harrie and Cara MacDonald
Early in the third quarter, Megan Huff decided it was her time. She blocked a shot on the defensive end, controlled it and ended up with a layup on the other end. On the next possession, the senior forward grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back in.
Those four points were just as many as Huff had in the entire first half, and set the tone for a dominant second half that lifted the Utah Utes to a 78-67 win over the BYU Cougars on Saturday at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
Huff score 24 of her 28 points and made 10 of 13 shots in the second half for the Utes, who stayed undefeated on the season (8-0). Huff finished the game shooting 52.1 percent from the field and added eight rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal.
Huffy said she felt under the weather before the game, but settled in as the game went on. Utes head coach Lynne Roberts said she tried to get Huff the ball more often in the second half.
“With Huffy, she just has to stay confident and stay with it,” Roberts said.
Utah freshman guard Dru Gylten contributed 17 points and eight assists, many of them to Huff. She is Utah’s best passer statistically, averaging 6.7 assists coming into Saturday.
“I could care less how many points I score in game,” Gylten said. “I love passing and I have great teammates that knock down shots. It’s just fun that way.”
But Gylten found herself in an offensive rhythm from the opening seconds of the game. The first play call was for her to get a 3-pointer from the left corner, which she made. About a minute later, she swished another 3-pointer from the opposite corner.
“I think our first couple of games here [at home], I’ve kind of been struggling with shooting,” Gylten said. “So I think being passed the first ball and I made it, that just instantly gave me confidence.”
Huff and Gylten ignited a 7-0 run to close the third quarter that finally gave the Utes some momentum after struggling in the first half. Gylten made three free throws after BYU sophomore guard Paisley Johnson fouled her on a 3-point attempt. Huff made two free throws of her own right after that.
Utah ignited a fast break moments later and Gylten set up Huff for a layup to give the Utes a 58-47 lead going into the fourth. Before the run, the Utes led by only four.
“That was the difference,” Cougars head coach Jeff Judkins said.
Utes reshman Dre’una Edwards added a double-double of 12 points and 15 rebounds, eight of which were on the offensive end.
Paisley Johnson tallied 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting for the Cougars, who fell to 6-3. Junior guard Brenna Chase had 17 points on 4 of 8 from the 3-point line, and freshman guard Shaylee Gonzales added 11 points.
Utah started the fourth quarter on a 7-2 run to break the game open and take a 65-49 lead. The Utes coasted the rest of the game.
Despite poor shooting from the Utes in the first half, they managed to take a three-point lead into halftime due to an advantage in 3-pointers and second-chance points. Utah attempted 10 more shots than BYU due to 13 offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes.
The Utes got going early with two consecutive 3-pointers from Gylten en route to an 8-2 lead. The Cougars tied the game at 12 on a fast-break layup and took a two-point lead. Utah scored the last four points of the frame for an 18-16 advantage.
Seattle • Bobby Wagner walked to his locker and noticed there was perhaps a bit too much noise and laughter less than 24 hours after a loss. Wagner didn’t raise his voice. He respectfully said a few words and the noise immediately died down.
“His voice is bigger than ever and he’s taken to it,” Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s embellished the role to become - he’s really the voice of our guys. He’s done a great job with handling that.”
If possible, Wagner — drafted in the second round out of Utah State in 2012 — may be having the best season of his career heading into Monday night’s key NFC game against the Minnesota Vikings. It’s not the numbers that stand out about Wagner’s season — although they are pretty impressive — but the context.
Yes, he’s one of the best middle linebackers in football. But he’s doing it for an almost entirely rebuilt defense without a number of the stars that helped make Seattle such a defensive powerhouse. Wagner is one of only a few holdovers, yet Seattle is on the cusp of a playoff berth with its middle linebacker leading the way.
“I really think it’s extraordinary when guys continue to be really good,” Carroll said of Wagner. “It’s not that it has to be better than or have some other things happen that have never happened before — although it did. It’s just that they continue to be great. That’s really the mark of a great competitor and a great player and performer and all that, not just show once in a while that they can.”
A victory by Seattle (7-5) won’t lock up a postseason spot, but would put the Seahawks in great position entering the final three weeks with games remaining against lowly San Francisco and Arizona. A win by the Vikings (6-5-1) might be their only way of staying in the NFC North race.
Last week against San Francisco, Wagner managed to fill every column on the NFL’s official defensive stat sheet: Tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, quarterback hits, forced fumbles, fumble recovery and an interception — the first pick-six of his career on a 98-yard touchdown return.
“Stats-wise, I had everything that you could have, so I think that’s dope. But I think there’s — I don’t know how to say what game is what,” Wagner said. “It kind of just depends on the game and how important of a game it was or the magnitude of the game, so it’s kind of hard to compare games.”
It was no surprise he was the NFC defensive player of the week for his performance against the 49ers, but it also drew attention to his season as a whole. He’s likely to be an All-Pro again, and if not for the seasons being had by the likes of Aaron Donald and J.J. Watt, would possibly be in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year conversation.
“It’s a combination of a lot of things,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “He has great speed. I think he sees things really well. He is very instinctual. You know, with that position and their defense, it gives them a lot of flexibility to run and get to the football.”
It wasn’t a case of Wagner being overlooked or undervalued in the past. Some of his biggest supporters were the loudest of teammates whose voices regularly grabbed the attention.
But with the likes of Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor no longer around for a variety of reasons, there seems to be a new appreciation for what Wagner is doing in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season for the Seahawks.
Add in the other two holdovers from Seattle’s years as the best defense in the NFL — K.J. Wright and Earl Thomas — have missed large portions of the season due to injuries, and Wagner’s performance becomes more notable.
Seattle’s defense might not be up to the standard of those Super Bowl seasons. But with Wagner leading the way, they still might be good enough to find their way into the postseason.
“I think he’s the total package when you talk about being a smart player, being instinctual, athletic, playing fast, doing a good job recognizing plays, recognizing what the offense is trying to do,” Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “He’s good against the run, good against the pass, a good blitzer. He’s probably — I think I told him this after the preseason game — one of the best, if not the best linebackers in the NFL.”
Santa Clara, Calif. • Kyle Shanahan pulled aside his star tight end and apologized to George Kittle for not getting him more opportunities in the second half to set an NFL record.
The coach even said sorry a second time.
Quarterback Nick Mullens placed the blame on himself after Kittle fell 4 yards short of Shannon Sharpe’s NFL record by a tight end of 214 yards receiving.
Kittle still had a brilliant Sunday afternoon, making an 85-yard touchdown reception on the way to 210 yards receiving and becoming the 49ers’ first tight end to reach the 1,000-yard milestone to lead San Francisco past the sluggish, injury-plagued Denver Broncos 20-14.
“Four yards, ahhh, it’s all right,” Kittle shrugged nonchalantly, unfazed by a near miss. “Next time. Just talk to Nick and Coach Shanahan, they’ll figure it out.”
Kittle’s long TD reception on a pass from Mullens early in the second quarter put the Niners up 13-0 — “George flashed in my eyes,” his QB said — and Denver (6-7) never found a groove in seeing its three-game winning streak snapped.
Kittle had all of his yards and seven receptions in the first half and was targeted just once after halftime. Again, no big deal.
“We won. That’s about all that matters,” Kittle said.
Broncos quarterback Case Keenum struggled to find any rhythm after the Broncos lost top wideout Emmanuel Sanders to a torn Achilles tendon in practice during the week.
Dante Pettis added a 1-yard touchdown reception just before halftime for the Niners (3-10).
But this was Kittle’s sparkling afternoon from the very start. He has provided a major lift for an offense that dealt with the blow of losing starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Week 3 at Kansas City.
“We had one blown coverage, and a couple where we just didn’t cover him,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said.
Mullens connected on eight of his first 12 throws for 124 yards and wound up 20 of 33 for 332 yards and a 102.1 rating.
“George had one heck of a day, 4 yards short of the record. You can blame that on me, I guess,” Mullens said.
Denver (6-7), which sought its first four-game winning streak since starting the 2016 season 4-0, fell behind 20-0 at halftime then managed two second-half touchdowns to make things interesting.
Phillip Lindsay ran for a 3-yard score in the third then Case Keenum hit DaeSean Hamilton on a 1-yard TD toss with 3:53 remaining. Keenum went 24 of 42 for 186 yards.
San Francisco ended a three-game skid. The 49ers had lost their previous two games by 18 and 27 points, including a 43-16 defeat at rival Seattle last week.
Denver’s Von Miller sacked Mullens for a 9-yard loss late in the second quarter. Including the postseason, Miller’s 103½ sacks matched the franchise record held by Simon Fletcher.
Meanwhile, linebacker Bradley Chubb had two more sacks for 12 on the season to break Miller’s franchise rookie record of 11½ set in 2011.
The previous time any 49ers player had 1,000 yards was in 2014, when Anquan Boldin had 1,062 yards receiving and Frank Gore 1,106 yards rushing.
In addition, Kittle’s 52-yard catch and run to end the first quarter moved him past Vernon Davis for the 49ers franchise record for yards receiving by a tight end in a season.
Kittle came in needing 73 yards to top Davis’ mark of 965 yards set in 2009.
“It’s an honor. ... He set the standard,” Kittle said.
On San Francisco’s nine-play opening scoring drive — capped by Robbie Gould’s 40-yard field goal — Kittle made receptions of 31 and 5 yards.
Gould made a 29-yarder early in the second.
Niners left tackle Joe Staley celebrated a rare catch, the third of his 12-year career, late in the first half when he got his hands on a tipped pass by a defender for a 5-yard loss.
He will be fined for it, Shanahan insisted. Because of the chance of injury on such plays, trying for the ball isn’t advised. Staley called it a “dumb decision,” but explained it like this: “It’s like telling me ‘Hey, there’s pizza here, don’t have slice.’ I’m going to have a slice.”
“Joe refuses to believe he’s an O-lineman,” Shanahan said. “... It was not a smart play.”
Broncos: Cornerback Isaac Yiadom suffered a shoulder injury. Wideout Courtland Sutton nursed a thigh injury.
49ers: Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon was able to return after landing hard on his left ankle late in the game when he went down defending a pass on the sideline.
Broncos: Host Cleveland on Saturday.
49ers: Host Seattle on Sunday.
Millcreek • Leaders of Salt Lake County’s newest city say they are all but sure to abandon the most controversial element of a plan to redevelop their community and create a new and appealing downtown.
After months of study and at least six public hearings, Mayor Jeff Silvestrini said Friday the Millcreek City Council was on track to reject a study declaring key sections of the city spanning Highland Drive and 3300 South as blighted.
Millcreek’s leaders had pursued the blight study as a part of a larger strategy that also includes creating new community reinvestment areas in the city, a tool that allows them to potentially plow millions of dollars of new tax revenues into urban renewal over the next 20 years. City officials hope that reinvestment plan will help spur development of a new city center and fuel economic growth.
Under state law, the additional blight designation on some of the homes and businesses in those reinvestment areas would have given Millcreek expanded powers to condemn and force a sale, known as eminent domain — beyond the typical authority Utah cities have when pursuing public projects.
Silvestrini, along with Mike Winder, Millcreek’s economic development director, and other officials, had argued the added authority offered new ways to aid private development and let the city buy out residents whose homes blocked key projects.
Yet after hearing vigorous opposition from residents and business owners worried about eminent domain over their properties, Silvestrini said the reinvestment areas would go ahead, but informal polling of council members indicated they would vote unanimously to reject the blight study, as soon as Monday night.
“We get the sense that the people of Millcreek don’t want us to do this,” Silvestrini said Friday. “The bottom line is, if people think this is a tool they don’t want us to have, and they feel strongly enough about it, our council feels the need to respect that. We represent them.”
(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) Millcreek Mayor Jeff Silvestrini, as seen during a Millcreek City Council meeting on Monday, July 10, 2017. (Rick Egan/)
That news was greeted happily by several groups in Millcreek that had organized to oppose the expanded eminent domain powers. Tina Grant, a resident on Elgin Avenue who banded with neighbors to fight the blight designation, said Friday she received a personal email from Silvestrini, saying the council appeared poised to kill the study.
“We achieved our ultimate goal,” said Grant, who, with other Millcreek residents, hired an attorney to legally challenge aspects of the blight designation, which had been set for a final city review Monday.
Aaron Walker, who also fought the study along with six others in his Millcreek homeowners association, attended city meetings through the summer and fall, pressing for his neighborhood to be removed from the blight area. Walker called the prospect of eliminating the study “great news. That’s what we really wanted.”
Several prominent Millcreek business owners whose properties fell within the boundaries of the city’s blight designation also expressed relief, but declined to comment until the council voted.
‘Our ultimate goal’
Since Millcreek voted to incorporate in late 2016, the city has pushed on several fronts to spruce up its image, encourage economic vitality and lure more residents. The amorphous area south of Salt Lake City and north of Holladay also has drawn avid interest from developers hoping to build new townhomes and apartment projects in the east bench community.
That led Millcreek’s fledgling City Council to adopt initial guidelines in April on housing construction and permitted land uses for the city’s center, an area spanned roughly by Highland Drive and 1300 East between 3000 South and 3300 South. Those rules will govern while Millcreek fleshes out a more detailed master plan and secures grants to pay for a top-to-bottom study of the city’s transportation options.
And as it pursued the community reinvestment areas, the city also launched a study in May of a 164-acre area straddling 3300 South between Highland Drive and 900 East, detailing elements of blight such as crumbling sidewalks, missing curbs and gutters, deteriorating exteriors, unsanitary conditions, tall weeds or other signs of disuse.
(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) The Millcreek City Council in Millcreek, incorporated in Dec. 28, 2016 and the newest city in Salt Lake County. (Rick Egan/)
To meet the state’s definition as a blighted area, more than half of all properties and over 60 percent of the total acreage would have to show elements of blight, Silvestrini said.
Utah cities already have eminent domain powers for public-sector projects, such as roads or a new police station, but a blight designation would give Millcreek similar powers in situations involving private developments for up to five years. Those added powers, according to the mayor and other city officials, would have helped Millcreek in its broader redevelopment efforts.
In meetings with residents, city leaders vowed to limit use of eminent domain, focusing on absentee property owners and offering financial aid to willing residents and businesses wanting to relocate as Millcreek develops.
“We would, in every instance, try to buy that property for a very fair price and give them more than what it’s worth,” Silvestrini explained at a town hall meeting. “If we don’t have eminent domain power, the city is really not in a position to help that person.”
Councilman Dwight Marchant, whose district includes portions of the blight study area, insisted in public meetings that Millcreek would only deploy eminent domain to assist residents, not displace them. “It just isn’t going to happen — not on my watch — that they get pushed out of their house,” Marchant said.
But in spite of such assurances, some opponents in Millcreek called the blight move “a land grab” and enlisted assistance from a nonprofit legal advocacy firm from the Washington, D.C., area, Institute for Justice, which specializes in fighting eminent domain. The institute sent an organizer to Utah in October to help Millcreek residents.
Eminent domain, Walker said, “seemed a shady way to get property at below market prices. The arguments in favor of it were really weak.”
City officials shrank the boundaries of the blight area several times, in reaction to public concerns. Just two weeks ago, Silvestrini and the council agreed in a straw poll to reduce the area’s boundaries further. But the mayor, who under Millcreek law is also a member of its five-person council, said concerns over eminent domain grew as more comments came in.
Marchant said Saturday that he and fellow council members were responding to prevailing community sentiment. “There could be benefits [to eminent domain]," he said, "but it seemed like we were creating a lot of grief for something we will never use. Why fight that battle?”
“I feel pretty good about it,” Marchant said of halting the study.
Big plans ahead
Meanwhile, other efforts in Millcreek for redeveloping parts of what is Utah’s 10th largest city are rolling ahead.
The city has approved initial plans and budgets for creating three community reinvestment areas, one in Olympus Hills, another in Canyon Rim and a third focused on Millcreek’s commercial center, east and south of Brickyard Plaza and running along Highland Drive. When solidified, those areas will let Millcreek divert millions of dollars in new property tax revenues for upgrades and improved city services — without raising taxes for the city’s existing 60,192 residents.
The new reinvestment areas, along with stepped up city planning efforts and other measures, will help Millcreek grow and provide services and amenities that its residents deserve, Silvestrini said. The city will use reinvestment area funds to upgrade city infrastructure — such as roads, sidewalks, storm drains and burying power lines — as a way to entice private developers, he said.
“We want to do the things that need to be done: better streets, better sidewalks, crossings on key streets, possibly redesigning traffic flows on 13th East and Highland Drive,” the mayor said. “The idea is to use tax money to do things like that rather than to subsidize development projects.”
The reinvestment area centered on Millcreek’s commercial core is expected to free up an estimated $24 million or more for improvements over the next two decades, as Millcreek and other layers of government forgo much of their share of new property tax money and devote that increment instead to urban redevelopment.
According to Winder, that increment money can also be used to help existing businesses, build more affordable housing, reduce crime, boost transit options, bring in more jobs — and even help build a real downtown that could serve as Millcreek’s community center.
(Photo courtesy of the city of Millcreek) A rendering of a proposed park and city center envisioned as part of efforts to redevelop the commercial center of Millcreek, Utah's newest city.
This walkable city center to be tucked into redeveloped areas between Highland Drive and Richmond Street, Winder said, is envisioned as mixed-use civic and public gathering space for Millcreek, with tree-lined plazas, splash pads and a linear park.
“It would be not only an attribute for the neighborhood but really, an amenity for the entire city of Millcreek,” Winder said.
Part of Millcreek’s quandary with regard to a city center stems from the 1978 annexation by Salt Lake City of Brickyard Plaza shopping center, located near 3200 S. 1300 East. Though it happened 40 years ago, Silvestrini calls the Brickyard move “an annexation crime,” noting that it pointedly carved the Brickyard retail center now at the core of Millcreek out of then-unincorporated Salt Lake County.
The mayor said Millcreek is now in talks with Salt Lake City on the possibility of sharing some of Brickyard’s sales tax revenues.
But Salt Lake City Councilman Charlie Luke countered on Saturday that Millcreek incorporated just short of two years ago, in full knowledge of the boundary issues it faced. Calling the Brickyard annexation a “crime,” Luke said, is “pretty silly” given that it was fully legal — and he said it was unlikely Utah’s capital city would share sales-tax revenues.
“I just don’t see what kind of offer they’re going to be able to come up with that is of benefit to the residents of Salt Lake City," Luke said of Millcreek’s leaders. He also tweeted on Saturday that “Millcreek should focus on developing its city center somewhere within its two-year-old boundaries.”
In the meantime, Silvistrini said city leaders are optimistic the newly created reinvestment areas will indeed spur private investors to help Millcreek fill the new city’s commercial and community void. Millcreek officials hope to create the right conditions, the mayor said, and then let the private sector drive redevelopment at its own pace.
Gary Andersen will return as head football coach of the Utah State Aggies, the university announced Sunday. Andersen was the associate head coach and defensive line assistant for the Utah Utes football team this season.
“Stacey and I are thrilled to be back at Utah State University,” Andersen said in a news release. “This is a special place and we are excited to meet these young men and play a part in seeing them succeed off and on the field academically, socially and athletically.”
The Salt Lake Tribune learned of Andersen’s potential hire on Saturday. One source, who asked to remain anonymous because of his relationship with Andersen, indicated that it was “a done deal” barring a last-minute change of heart.
Andersen is replacing Matt Wells, who recently took a job at Texas Tech. Wells replaced Andersen in 2012 and led the Aggies to four bowl games in five seasons. Frank Maile was named the interim head coach late last month, and has been running practices with the team in preparation for its bowl game against North Texas.
Andersen coached the Aggies from 2009 to 2012 before spending time at Wisconsin and Oregon State. In his first go-round with Utah State, he took the Aggies to their first bowl game in 14 years in 2011. He is credited for reviving the Utah State football program.
“His care-factor for his players, coupled with his recruiting philosophy and plan to win, are keys to the continued success of Aggie football,” Utah State Vice President and Director of Athletics John Hartwell said of Andersen in the release. “His knowledge of the state of Utah and our program are unparalleled and we feel those attributes will greatly aid in the continued growth and success of Aggie football.”
Hartwell said last month that he hired a search firm to help fill the coaching vacancy. He said at the time that the search would be national in scope, and would take about two weeks to complete.
In the end, it appears Hartwell did not have to look far to find his next leading man for the Aggies.
Washington - Donald Trump’s critics have good reason to focus on the threats he poses to democracy and the rule of law. But the president is not alone in his party.
In case after case, Republicans have demonstrated an eagerness to undercut democracy and tilt the rules of the game if doing so serves their ideological interests. The quiet coup by the GOP-controlled Legislature in Wisconsin is designed to defy the voters' wishes. It reflects an abandonment of the disciplines self-government requires.
Last month, Wisconsin's electorate ended eight years of Republican dominance in state government by choosing Democrats Tony Evers as governor and Josh Kaul as attorney general. Democrats also won races for secretary of state and state treasurer.
There was nothing unnatural about this. Voters often tire of one party and decide to try the other side. It's the beautiful thing about constitutional democracies: There are no final victories, so there are no final defeats. We all agree to rules that apply uniformly whether those we favor win or lose because this protects our right to fight another day and perhaps prevail the next time.
Not so the Republicans in Wisconsin. Having lost the governorship, they're using a lame-duck session of the legislature to strip Evers of many powers they were perfectly content to see Republican Gov. Scott Walker exercise. Why are they doing this now? Because Walker, who was defeated by Evers, is still in office to sign their bills.
Among other things, the legislation would stop Evers from taking control of a state economic development agency that the Democrat has pledged to abolish, and it would make it harder for him to overturn restrictions Walker imposed on social benefits. It would also limit early voting (which helped the Democrats win by expanding turnout). For good measure, the legislature wants to prevent Kaul from withdrawing the state from a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act — even though that’s exactly what Kaul told voters he would do.
It won't surprise you to learn that Republicans are shifting power to the state legislature because radically gerrymandered district boundaries helped the GOP maintain their majorities in the state Senate and Assembly despite the Democrats' performance at the top of the ticket.
In rationalizing their move, Robin Vos, the Republican speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly, and Scott Fitzgerald, the Senate majority leader, had the nerve to issue a statement declaring: "The legislature is the most representative branch in government."
Well, no. The Democrats won the popular vote in State Assembly contests by a 54 percent to 46 percent margin, but emerged with only 36 seats to the GOP's 63.
Republican indifference to democratic norms is not confined to Wisconsin. Republicans in Michigan (which also replaced a Republican governor with a Democrat this year) are working on a similar effort.
One Michigan GOP target: incoming Democratic secretary of state Jocelyn Benson, who, like other Democratic secretaries of state this year, was elected on an ambitious reform agenda. This includes greater transparency when it comes to political money. Republicans don't like this. So they introduced a bill to restrict her oversight of campaign finance issues.
Both states are borrowing from a playbook by North Carolina Republicans who moved to hamper Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper soon after he was elected in 2016. And as Michael Hobbes reported in The Huffington Post, GOP legislators are also trying to dilute progressive referendum victories in states such as Florida and Utah.
And, no, this is not about "polarization" in general. When Republicans won governorships in Massachusetts and Maryland in 2014 and Vermont in 2016, Democratic legislatures made no power-grabs like those Republicans are undertaking. Democrats chose to battle them in traditional ways — and to work with them, too.
The GOP's anti-democratic impulse has far more in common with the old segregationist Democrats of the South than with the best Republican traditions that led to the rights-conferring 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. The party's efforts to lock in power regardless of election outcomes also eerily echo some of the behaviors of anti-democratic politicians abroad.
At least a few anti-Trump Republicans are facing up to how extensively their party is undermining democracy's golden rules. "I'm old enough to remember when it wasn't a key part of Republican strategy to try, in effect, to nullify election results," Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol tweeted last week.
But most in the party are either complicit or silent. Is it any wonder, then, that most Republicans are also willing to go right along with Trump?
E.J. Dionne is on Twitter: @EJDionne.
Washington • Top House Democrats on Sunday raised the prospect of impeachment or almost-certain prison time for President Donald Trump if it’s proved that he directed illegal hush-money payments to women, adding to the legal pressure on the president over the Russia investigation and other scandals.
“There’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him, that he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming chairman of the House intelligence committee. “The bigger pardon question may come down the road as the next president has to determine whether to pardon Donald Trump.”
Rep. Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, described the details in prosecutors' filings Friday in the case of Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, as evidence that Trump was "at the center of a massive fraud."
"They would be impeachable offenses," Nadler said.
In the filings, prosecutors in New York for the first time link Trump to a federal crime of illegal payments to buy the silence of two women during the 2016 campaign. Special counsel Robert Mueller's office also laid out previously undisclosed contacts between Trump associates and Russian intermediaries and suggested the Kremlin aimed early on to influence Trump and his Republican campaign by playing to both his political and personal business interests.
Trump has denied wrongdoing and has compared the investigations to a “witch hunt.”
Nadler, D-N.Y., said it was too early to say whether Congress would pursue impeachment proceedings based on the illegal payments alone because lawmakers would need to weigh the gravity of the offense to justify "overturning" the 2016 election. Nadler and other lawmakers said Sunday they would await additional details from Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference and possible coordination with the Trump campaign to determine the extent of Trump's misconduct.
Regarding the illegal payments, "whether they are important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question, but certainly they'd be impeachable offenses because even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office," Nadler said.
Mueller has not said when he will complete a report of any findings, and it isn't clear that any such report would be made available to Congress. That would be up to the attorney general. Trump on Friday said he would nominate former Attorney General William Barr to the post to succeed Jeff Sessions.
Nadler indicated that Democrats, who will control the House in January, will step up their own investigations. He said Congress, the Justice Department and the special counsel need to dig deeper into the allegations, which include questions about whether Trump lied about his business arrangements with Russians and about possible obstruction of justice.
"The new Congress will not try to shield the president," he said. "We will try to get to the bottom of this, in order to serve the American people and to stop this massive conspiracy — this massive fraud on the American people."
Schiff, D-Calif., also stressed a need to wait "until we see the full picture." He has previously indicated his panel would seek to look into the Trump family's business ties with Russia.
"I think we also need to see this as a part of a broader pattern of potential misconduct by the president, and it's that broad pattern, I think, that will lead us to a conclusion about whether it rises to the level to warrant removal from office," Schiff said.
In the legal filings, the Justice Department stopped short of accusing Trump of directly committing a crime. But it said Trump told Cohen to make illegal payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of whom claimed to have had affairs with Trump more than a decade ago.
In separate filings, Mueller’s team detail how Cohen spoke to a Russian who “claimed to be a ‘trusted person’ in the Russian Federation who could offer the campaign ‘political synergy’ and ‘synergy on a government level.’” Cohen said he never followed up on that meeting. Mueller’s team also said former campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied to them about his contacts with a Russian associate and Trump administration officials, including in 2018.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida called the latest filings "relevant" in judging Trump's fitness for office but said lawmakers need more information to render judgment. He also warned the White House about considering a pardon for Manafort, saying such a step could trigger congressional debate about limiting a president's pardon powers.
Such a move would be "a terrible mistake," Rubio said. "Pardons should be used judiciously. They're used for cases with extraordinary circumstances."
Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine and a member of the Senate intelligence committee, cautioned against a rush to impeachment, which he said citizens could interpret as "political revenge and a coup against the president."
"The best way to solve a problem like this, to me, is elections," King said. "I'm a conservative when it comes to impeachment. I think it's a last resort and only when the evidence is clear of a really substantial legal violation. We may get there, but we're not there now."
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut urged Mueller to "show his cards soon" so that Congress can make a determination early next year on whether to act on impeachment.
"Let's be clear: We have reached a new level in the investigation," Murphy said. "It's important for Congress to get all of the underlying facts and data and evidence that the special counsel has."
Nadler spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Rubio was on CNN and ABC’s “This Week,” and Schiff appeared on CBS' “Face the Nation.” Murphy spoke on ABC, and King was on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel has been accused of killing German politics with her boa constrictor-like dominance and her contempt for electioneering fireworks. But on Friday, as she handed over the leadership of the Christian Democratic Union, it was clear that exciting political competition is alive even within the CDU, and that Germany’s next chancellor and Europe’s next de facto leader will be a star politician.
That star is Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a Merkel disciple and chosen successor, who wiped tears from her eyes when the chancellor finished her farewell speech with a heartfelt "It was a joy and an honor." That doesn't mean a heated debate over the direction of German conservatism and Germany itself is over.
The 1,000 delegates assembled in a cavernous hangar-like hall at the Hamburg Fair picked Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is known as AKK, over the corporate lawyer Friedrich Merz and Health Minister Jens Spahn. AKK won as much thanks to her convincingly emotional delivery as to her deep knowledge of the party and her weeks of tirelessly canvassing local CDU organizations.
Post-World War II German politics have rarely been a show, especially in the Merkel era. The last competitive CDU election was in 1971. On Friday, though, party members enjoyed a rare spectacle.
First, Merkel delivered a farewell speech. It was low-key; she even joked about “typical Merkel — bone dry and to the point.” The point was her pride that the conservative party she took over in 2000 has changed beyond recognition, taking on a broader outlook (the leadership candidacy of Spahn, who is openly gay, would have been all but impossible at the turn of the century). The chancellor, who has helped make the party a consistent election winner, was rewarded with an almost-10 minute standing ovation as delegates waved signs saying “Danke, Chefin” (“Thank you, boss”). She was presented with a conductor’s baton as a farewell gift and shown a touching clip of her historic moments, set to The Kinks' “Days” (“And though you’re gone, you’re with me every single day, believe me.”)
The sentimental part over, it was time for the three candidates to try to win over the delegates. Both AKK, who spoke first, and Spahn, who took the floor last, used rhetorical devices: AKK's theme was "courage" (to leave one's comfort zone), Spahn's refrain was "I care" (about what Germany will be like in 2040: At age 38, Spahn was the youngest candidate). Merz scorned oratory and was true to his image as a prickly truth-teller, pointing out that the CDU was losing voters to the right-wing populists from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and not doing enough to differentiate itself from its Green and Social Democratic rivals on the left.
All three, however, agreed about one thing: The CDU, they said, is the last remaining Volkspartei (people's party, the German term for a centrist umbrella party) in Germany, perhaps even in Europe. These moderates, both on the center left and the center right, have been losing elections from France to Poland, and the potential CDU leaders stressed they couldn't allow that to happen to their party.
Most of the delegates were already familiar with the candidates' positions on the issues: The trio had been campaigning since early November at regional CDU conferences, in TV appearances and newspaper interviews. The differences between the two leading contenders were clear ahead of time. AKK, the former minister president of the small state of Saarland and CDU general secretary, is more socially conscious; Merz more of a business-friendly libertarian. AKK inherits Merkel's focus on tolerance, while Merz leans toward identity politics. AKK is in favor of forging compromises; Merz aims to show strength. AKK is softer on immigration, though she is tougher that Merkel. Merz has questioned the necessity of the constitutional provision spelling out the right to asylum and has proposed kicking out immigrants who commit crimes and banning them from the European Union.
These differences are important for the future direction of the CDU and even the future of German conservatism. But the lively debate and the cliffhanger leadership election — none of the candidates won convincingly in the first round, and Spahn's original voters ended up deciding the outcome narrowly in favor of AKK — are more important for Germany as a whole.
The CDU is a deeply traditional party; only 6 percent of members are younger than 30 and only 15 percent are under 40. At the beginning of the conference, it took Merkel several minutes to read the list of prominent CDU members who died in the last few months. And yet the party has shaken off the mothballs. It looks alive again, and that's helping with voters: Just before the conference, a poll showed the CDU at 30 percent after months of lounging in the 20s.
It’s still Germany’s biggest political force, by far, and the internal debate is a rehearsal for the next election, which isn’t likely before 2021 because AKK won’t try to unseat Merkel as chancellor and the CDU’s coalition partners need time to try to recover public support. The race should reawaken Germans' interests in politics as a spectacle, as something of a sports competition that’s more fun than the Merkel-era snoozefests, even though voters shouldn’t expect an American-style smackdown, given the traditional importance of a wonkish command of policy issues .
AKK, with her honest emotions, her oratorial skill and her mastery of Merkel-like backroom politics, has the potential to be an even stronger leader for the party and for Germany than her mentor has been. She's as forceful, but not as boring, and won't dominate her party the way Merkel did. If big-tent politics still has a fighting chance in today's fragmented landscape, she just may be the leader to seize this chance.
| Bloomberg News Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg News. (BLOOMBERG NEWS/)
Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering European politics and business. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.
Hale Centre Theatre offered 80 performances of the musical “The Scarlet Pimpernel” this fall; many were sold out. All of the tickets to its 50 planned performances of “A Christmas Carol” were claimed by Thanksgiving, “the quickest sellout” its holiday staple has ever had.
The theater’s final tally for ticket sales in 2018 will top a half-million — its current estimate is more than 551,000.
Is Hale’s splashy new two-theater complex in Sandy the key to success for the long-running nonprofit company? Executive producer and vice president Sally Dietlein has another theory — she boasts that Hale Centre Theatre has the best audiences anywhere.
“People will call and say, ‘Can you get us a couple of tickets for Friday night? By the way, what’s playing?’” Dietlein said with a laugh recently, as the Mountain America Performing Arts Centre marked the first anniversary of its opening.
The technical wizardry of the complex’s 907-seat Centre Stage is clearly part of the draw. The newest production to put it to the test: “The Wizard of Oz,” with 16-year-old Utah phenom Lexi Walker in her first stage role, starts Monday.
“Yes, we can fly the monkeys,” Dietlein said. “Yes, the house does spin. Yes, Miss Gulch does ride her bike around in the air. … It’s really fun.”
The Centre Stage is a theater in the round, with 10 concentric circles of seating on a steep slope toward the middle, so even the back row feels close to the action. The stage is a marvel, with a floor platform that slides out to allow a massive rotating platform to rise from below. That platform has sections that rise and descend depending on the need. More sets are lowered from above on cables. And it’s all practically silent, any mechanical noise usually covered by music.
“The technology exists nowhere else in the world,” Dietlein boasted. “But you add to that the costumes, all made in-house; the sets, all made in-house. And the caliber of actors here in Utah are so superb. It is a total experience.”
And Hale Centre fans are enjoying it.
“It’s fun to be in the round,” said Kami Pollock, from Lehi, who attended a recent performance of “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” “There’s no upstage or downstage. It feels more intimate.”
Pollock’s “bestie,” Karena Lapray, also from Lehi, agreed. “They’re able to adjust to the audience. It’s more off the cuff.”
‘The community’s theater’
Hale Centre is usually billed as a “community theater,” a designation associated with smaller, homegrown, sometimes amateur productions. Its fare is routinely family-friendly. Nothing with blood, strong sexuality or swear words will cross the Hale stage.
The theater does hire performers who are in the Actor’s Equity Association, the stage actors’ union that requires livable wages and benefits for its members, but not many.
Though Hale Centre is a member of the American Association of Community Theatre, Dietlein isn’t comfortable with the label.
“We’re not a community theater, but we are the community’s theater,” she said. ”We have 62 full-time employees as costumers, lighting designers and technicians. And we employ about 500 actors and technicians [part-time] every year.”
As a nonprofit, Hale Centre is eligible for Salt Lake County’s Zoo, Arts & Parks funding, raised through sales taxes. This year, Hale Centre received just over $1 million in ZAP money. Next year’s figures have not yet been announced, but Dietlein expected Hale’s funding to increase, considering the increased ticket sales.
(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)
In the last year the company performed at its old theater, across the street from the Maverik Center in West Valley City, it sold 344,182 tickets. This year, nearly that many — 332,960, or 60 percent — were bought by the theater’s 29,078 season-ticket holders.
For many, Hale Centre is a family tradition.
Emily Becker, a professional home organizer in Millcreek, started going to Hale Centre Theatre when she was 7 or 8 years old and her parents took her. (She’s 25 now.)
“My sister and I would go through the programs and pick out the same actors from different shows,” Becker said. “The actors were like movie stars to us.”
“We say that we play from 5 to 105,” Dietlein said of Hale Centre’s repertoire. “We can pick what’s just out of New York. We can also pick the ones that didn’t make it from Broadway. And we can cherry-pick from the jewels of past years.”
For 2019, the Centre Stage will house big musicals such as “An American in Paris,” “Matilda,” “Phantom” (not the Andrew Lloyd Webber version), “Seussical” and a to-be-announced blockbuster this summer.
‘Kind of unique’
Hale Centre’s second theater, the 467-seat Jewel Box Stage, has a traditional proscenium stage with a massive LED screen behind it to show animated backdrops.
The Jewel Box will offer slightly — emphasis on slightly — edgier fare in 2019, like the comedy “Steel Magnolias,” the musicals “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” and “The Addams Family,” and a new musical version of Disney’s “Freaky Friday.”
Inside the smaller theater, “when you’re in the audience and you’re looking at [the screen], the depth and dimension on these images are pretty breathtaking,” said Stephen Kerr, one of the two actors portraying Ebenezer Scrooge in Hale’s sold-out production of “A Christmas Carol.”
With so many performances, the actors’ schedules can be grueling, said Josh Richardson, who is playing Jacob Marley opposite Kerr’s Scrooge.
His cast is performing twice on Mondays, twice on Wednesdays, once on Fridays and twice on Saturdays; the alternate cast performs twice a night on Tuesdays and Thursdays, once on Fridays and twice on Saturdays. (The theater goes dark on Sundays.)
“You have to kind of plot your life around your time onstage,” Richardson said. “But it’s so worth it. I’ve been able to do shows with my best friends. And the people I’ve worked with have become my best friends.”
That sense of family permeates Hale Centre’s productions, said Kerr, now in his eighth year as Scrooge.
“There is a real sense of community there with the actors, and with the production staff,” Kerr said, adding that some cast members have been doing “A Christmas Carol” for 20 or 30 years.
Recently, Kerr said, an actor who had played a charwoman in “A Christmas Carol” for many years was dying. With her family’s permission, some 50 of her castmates, past and present, gathered outside her home to sing Christmas carols to her. She died shortly thereafter.
“They’re a community of people who care about each other,” Kerr said. “It’s kind of unique in that respect.”
(Photo courtesy Hale Centre Theatre) Utah singer and YouTube star Lexi Walker will make her stage acting debut as Dorothy in Hale Centre Theatre's production of "The Wizard of Oz," which runs at Hale's Centre Stage from Dec. 10 to Feb. 2.
Dorothy, meet Scrooge
Hale Centre Theatre is running two productions this month at the Mountain America Performing Arts Centre, Sandy:
• “The Wizard of Oz,” starring teen Utah singer Lexi Walker, runs Dec. 10 to Feb. 2 on the Centre Stage. Tickets are available at hct.org.
• “A Christmas Carol,” Hale’s holiday tradition, is running through Dec. 24 on the Jewel Box Stage. The show’s run is sold out.
In its first meeting since the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges against Herriman City’s top elected official, the City Council on Wednesday will discuss Mayor David Watts’ unauthorized spending on travel and failure to repay several hundred dollars.
Some Herriman residents have called on the first-term mayor to step down, while the City Council has referred the matter for criminal investigation.
At issue is around $740 that Watts allegedly charged on the city credit card this summer during a trip to Washington, D.C., unrelated to city business. The money has yet to be reimbursed.
The meeting Watts attended in the nation’s capital involved a mosquito abatement district, officials said.
“Not only were there unapproved transactions but his actions put the travel account over budget,” Alan Rae, city finance director, said. “For a regular employee, our policy would be to take the purchasing card privilege away and discipline up to and including termination.”
Rae also pointed out that Watts had been reimbursed by the mosquito abatement district for his travel expenses. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill reviewed the charges and came out with a statement this past week.
Watts did not return several calls and emails seeking comment. Elected last year over then-Councilwoman Coralee Wessman-Moser, Watts has touted himself being financially responsible and transparent in his dealings.
“I have a proven record of fiscal discipline, community focus and transparency. I am willing and ready to continue to serve the residents of Herriman,” says his biography on the city website.
Gill, the district attorney, said there wasn’t enough to bring criminal charges in the case.
“We believe the nature of the claims and allegations involved can be addressed and probably resolved in a forum other than by means of a criminal charge in the criminal justice system,” Gill concluded in a letter released publicly.
“To the extent that we believe some of the facts tend to raise a reasonable doubt whether the mayor possessed criminal intent when he purchased the airfare, we believe the interests of justice are not served by filing a criminal charge.”
In the wake of the controversy, the city has “changed our policy so that the mayor and council no longer have purchasing cards,” Rae said. “They will be required to submit for reimbursement and will only receive reimbursement for transactions that meet our policy and are within our budget.”
Members of a Facebook group called Herriman Happenings have voiced outrage from city residents over the issue. Heather Fife Shay, administrator of the group, said, “I personally think he should resign. During his campaign he was very active and verbal but as soon as he was elected he went quiet. I don’t think he has the general population’s best interests [in mind] anymore.”
West Wendover, Nev. • A driver who led police on a short pursuit Saturday in West Wendover was killed by an officer when he pulled a knife after crashing the vehicle, authorities said.
The chase started about 12:45 p.m., when West Wendover officers tried to pull over a reckless driver, identified by Lt. Kevin McKinney as 41-year-old James N. Robertson of Francis, Utah, on Wendover Boulevard in the city, FOX 13 reports.
Robertson fled police but crashed near a gas station and tried to run away, according to a news release. Officers followed, and shot Robertson when he pulled a knife.
See more at FOX 13.
Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune and FOX 13 are content-sharing partners.
Utah athletic director Mark Harlan stood on the Levi's Stadium sideline during the Pac-12 football championship game, with several thousand Ute fans behind him. In the third quarter of a tie game with Washington, Harlan could picture those people following the team to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
An hour later, his thoughts turned fully to a destination farther south.
Harlan had spent an awkward final week of November hoping Utah would qualify for the Rose Bowl as conference champion, while knowing his job required making backup plans. The campaign that ended with the Holiday Bowl giving the Utes their most prestigious postseason invitation of the school’s Pac-12 era required some effort.
Harlan was “a superstar through this whole process,” Ute coach Kyle Whittingham said. “It's awesome that he was able to get that done, because there was some talk of us sliding down the chain.”
More work remains between now and New Year’s Eve. With an official allotment of 7,000 tickets, Harlan’s department has an ambitious target of 14,000 fans in San Diego, where the Utes will meet the Big Ten’s Northwestern at SDCCU Stadium.
Harlan believes a big response would help the Utes in bowl selections and possibly season-kickoff games in the future. Even in an era of conference tie-ins for bowl games, an element of the old system remains intact, with schools having to market themselves. In Utah's case, conversations that week with Holiday Bowl CEO Mark Neville surprised Harlan, who said, “I realized that we had an uphill battle.”
In a Pac-12 bowl structure that offers no protection for a division champion (something Harlan is determined to address), the Holiday Bowl initially favored Oregon. “When you’re in these situations, all you need is honesty. Tell me the truth,” Harlan said, praising Neville’s direct approach. But “was there a pause on the phone between San Diego and Salt Lake? Yes. It told me what we needed to do, which was fire up the Ute army.”
Harlan succeeded in stopping what he labeled a “free fall” in the bowl landscape, with the potential for Utah’s dropping to the Pac-12′s No. 5 game, the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. The Utes' problem stemmed from the Pac-12′s failing to land a second team in New Year’s Six games, beyond Washington’s advancement to the Rose Bowl via a 10-3 win over Utah. That made Washington State an obvious choice for the Alamo Bowl and gave the Holiday Bowl multiple choices, with “so many variables,” Neville said. “Every year, the priority could be different.”
The constant is the bowl's mission to drive tourism in San Diego, and organizers had reason to wonder about Utah's level of support. As a Mountain West member, Utah played in the 2007 and '09 Poinsettia Bowls, formerly staged by the same group. The Utes sold fewer than 5,000 tickets for each of those games. Fans stayed home, citing reasons that included a date too close to Christmas, the disappointment of losses to BYU to end those regular seasons and the absence of glamour, compared with the Fiesta and Sugar Bowls of that decade.
So how would Utah’s fan base respond to a loss in the Pac-12 title game, with an estimated 8,000-plus supporters having gone to Levi’s Stadium? Harlan made that show of support a selling point, and some key figures he describes as “Utah angels” joined in the lobbying effort, along with university President Ruth V. Watkins.
So did hundreds of rank-and-file fans, who sent emails. In an ESPN 700 interview, Neville labeled some of them “entertaining,” acknowledging the grass-roots effort “didn’t hurt.”
The Holiday Bowl's board picked Utah in a close vote, Neville has said, noting that the Utes' football credentials gave them a “pretty clear” advantage. Yet that part alone was insufficient, and Harlan intends to pursue that subject within the Pac-12. He believes there should be more value in a division title, with one bowl or another becoming a guaranteed, lowest landing spot for the loser of the championship game.
Winning the division, Harlan said, is “an incredible accomplishment.”
Whittingham's team will be rewarded with a top-tier bowl appearance, after a process that made Harlan agonize to the end. He was told to expect a call between 1:25 and 1:35 p.m. MST on Dec. 2, if the Holiday Bowl had chosen his school. The minutes slowly ticked by, and he worried the Utes had been overlooked. And then the call came from a Pac-12 administrator, with Neville on the line. Harlan's phone dropped the call, but only after he had heard what he need to hear.
He called back, accepting the invitation.
Recently released climate assessment reports by the United States government and the United Nations verify that we are already experiencing incredibly destructive and disruptive impacts of global warming, over 90 percent of which is caused by human activity. We will see increased impacts in the future, many of which are now inevitable and irreversible. These impacts will continue to intensify in the near future. By our current actions and personal choices and current actions, we can choose to help mitigate future impacts and reduce the scale of future carnage.
In recent years, the U.S. has seen intensified hurricanes and wildfires, record heat and drought in the West. Continuing warming trends will exacerbate climate-related events and make them more frequent, intense and disruptive. For instance, high temperatures can intensify wildfires, and wildfires can provoke mudslides, which can disrupt roads and transportation, interrupting the flow of goods and services. Impacts, such as ice-sheet melting — leading to rising oceans and flooded coastal areas — may be irreversible for thousands of years. Others, such as species extinctions, will be permanent.
Large declines in snowpack have occurred since 1955 in the Western U.S. Sea levels across U.S. coastlines have risen by about 9 inches since 1900 as oceans have warmed and ice has melted. The world’s oceans have absorbed about 93 percent of the excess heat from human-induced warming and more than one-quarter of the CO2 emitted to the atmosphere, making oceans warmer and more acidic. Oceans have warmed by about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1900 and are expected to increase by as much as 5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 and to rise an additional 1-4 feet. These changes, combined with changing patterns of wind, precipitation, nutrients and ocean circulation, have and will also continue to contribute to major declines in oxygen concentrations in the ocean, inland seas and estuaries.
The Paris Agreement set a goal of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit as the cap for temperature increases in order to avoid the most dire consequences of global warming. Slowing down or even halting the growth in annual CO2 emissions will not go nearly far enough. To avoid the most severe consequences, the world economy will require quick and drastic transformation, including cutting carbon emissions by half before 2030 and going totally carbon free by 2050. Politically, this seems very unlikely. With leadership lacking at the national level, cities and counties across the U.S. have stepped up and pledged to move to 100 percent renewable energy within next 15 years. Salt Lake City, Park City, Moab and Summit County have already made this commitment.
Building-code upgrades should instigate a green revolution for new construction. Buildings currently account for 39 percent of CO2 emissions in the U.S., while industry accounts for 29 percent. Transportation accounts for the remaining 33 percent, which can be reduced by creating incentives to electrify. Many countries — including Norway, Ireland, India and Israel — will start banning the sale of non-electric cars within 10-15 years. And many cities around the world will soon ban non-electric cars from their downtown.
Scientists are studying various potential technologies, hoping to “geo-engineer” CO2 levels, such as spraying reflective aerosols into the atmosphere to reflect more of the sun’s light. While these proposals may offer some hope for reversing CO2 buildup, they are risky and currently unproven.
On a personal level, we all need to do more. To reduce our individual carbon footprint, we can: reduce or eliminate meat and dairy from our diet, drive a fuel-efficient or electric vehicle and drive less, plant a garden, eat local and organic, install solar panels, insulate, reuse and recycle and use energy-efficient appliances. We can also organize to urge more cities to commit to renewable energy, to pressure our power company to replace coal plants with renewable energy and to vote for candidates and initiatives that reduce carbon emissions.
Michael Budig, Salt Lake City, is a volunteer for the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign.
Moab, in the heart of Utah’s redrock canyon country, is the gateway to world-renowned Arches and Canyonlands national parks and local gems such as Dead Horse Point State Park, the Colorado and Green rivers and the extensive Bureau of Land Management lands they border.
Unrivaled access to outdoor activities in these breathtaking landscapes drives Moab’s economy and draws employees, business owners, families and retirees to call Moab home. Our community’s resilient economy is inextricably linked to the health of the public lands surrounding us — something that is gravely threatened by the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” agenda.
As longtime Moab residents and current city council members, we have witnessed the economic benefits of the recreation economy and the excitement of visitors discovering the beautiful places surrounding Moab. It is critical that the BLM listen to the voices of our residents and guests when managing our lands.
In Utah, 110,000 jobs and $3.9 billion in wages can be attributed to outdoor recreation. Recreation on BLM lands near Moab alone is forecasted to generate upwards of $761 million in economic activity over the next 15 years and support more than 1,000 jobs. Decisions regarding the use of public lands that do not account for our thriving outdoor economy are short-sighted and detrimental to our community.
The Moab City Council supported the BLM’s Moab Master Leasing Plan, which was developed in a collaborative manner and balances oil and gas development with other conservation and recreational values. The area around Dead Horse Point State Park has been industrialized by a patchwork of drill pads and pipelines.The MLP was intended to consider those types of impacts to not further damage Moab’s image and landscape. Due to the “energy dominance” agenda, iconic landscapes like Canyonlands National Park and Labyrinth Canyon are at risk.
Next week, the BLM is poised to auction off 105 parcels in Utah, totaling 154,226 acres, for oil and gas development. A number of these parcels are within the Moab MLP and near the site of a 2014 oil spill that contaminated the Green River and Labyrinth Canyon from a remote but allegedly properly maintained well.
Many proposed lease sales across the West have been temporarily deferred until February/March 2019 thanks to a ruling from Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald E. Bush of the District of Idaho. Unfortunately, parcels surrounding beloved Utah destinations are still on the chopping block with significantly reduced opportunity for public comment.
Despite Bush’s declaration that the current administration is unlawfully circumventing public participation opportunities of several bedrock environmental laws, we are still seeing preferential treatment for oil and gas companies operating on public lands.
The community in and around Moab understands the importance of public lands recreation and conservation to our culture and economy. It is imperative that we have an opportunity to speak up about land use that affects our way of life. It is critical that the BLM listen to all stakeholders and take a hard look at the consequences increased oil and gas drilling will have on our public lands and communities. Any drilling proposals must factor in the increased impacts to our air and water quality, climate and economic prosperity.
The December lease sale undermines the collaboration, compromise and local participation that went into the Moab MLP. The sale’s Determination of NEPA Adequacy ignores the MLP’s clear directive that additional site-specific analysis be done for new leases within its boundary.
The BLM should listen to the public when managing public lands and defer these proposed December leases until thorough public participation and environmental analyses are conducted.
Kalen Jones has lived in Moab for 27 years, and Rani Derasary has lived in Moab for a mere 18 years. Both are members of the Moab City Council. Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not intended to represent the council as a whole.
While raising my now-21-year-old daughter, I told her that people were genuinely good, but to follow her instincts because there could be a bad apple out there. Even in today’s world, I believe that the ratio remains the same. If there are 100 apples, one is bound to be bad.
While watching the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody,” I was amazed at the lack of security with a crowd of 72,000 at Wembley Stadium at the 1985 Live Aid concert. Are people really worse, and are there more bad apples, than before? I do not think so. The problem is that many more people now carry guns.
I remember visiting London about the time of Live Aid and noticing that the police only carried clubs. I know we can never go back to that place or return to the time of Andy Griffith’s Mayberry, but I do believe that we can make responsible gun laws. We can eliminate automatic weapons, require background checks and revise existing laws to make our country safer.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is a movie that reminds us of the power of people coming together to help others. Let’s make laws to keep guns out of the hands of bad apples!
Christine Davison, Salt Lake City
On Dec. 10, we will mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In the aftermath of World War II, as the full horrors of the Holocaust committed by Germany’s fascist regime became apparent, the international community came together to create a new institution — the United Nations — to prevent violence and promote peace throughout the world. The newly created United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the declaration recognizing the inherent dignity and equal inalienable rights of all members of the human family. The declaration remains as important today as it was in 1948.
Crafted under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt, who headed the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, the Universal Declaration recognizes that human rights must be protected through the rule of law. The declaration also calls on every “organ of society,” from individuals to institutions, to promote respect for the recognition of fundamental rights and freedoms.
The declaration’s 30 articles contain a range of substantive civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights and procedural protections. The declaration protects freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as well as the rights to education and health, freedom of movement and the right to seek asylum from persecution. It prohibits slavery, torture and arbitrary arrests. All the protections provided for in the declaration start from the premise that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
Many of the internationally recognized rights listed in the declaration now appear in the domestic laws of several nations. It is the world’s most translated document and can be found in more than 500 languages.
Speaking on the importance of locating human rights in our daily lives, Eleanor Roosevelt urged future generations to look in “small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world.”
She invited us to look in the neighborhoods where we live; the schools or colleges we attend; and the factories, farms or offices where we work. These are often the places that make up our world. It is in these places that we are also likely to find men, women and children who are seeking equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Roosevelt believed that unless human rights have meaning everywhere, they have little meaning anywhere.
We invite you to join us here at the Tanner Center for Human Rights at the University of Utah to explore the meaning of human rights. This year we are recording members of our community reading different articles of the declaration in diverse languages to celebrate the universality of human rights at home and abroad. We at the Tanner Center, as human rights educators and advocates, realize that too often silence serves to embolden actors who would abuse human rights. We encourage you to speak up for human rights for everyone, everywhere.
Erika George | University of Utah
Erika George, formerly of Human Rights Watch, is the interim director of the Tanner Center for Human Rights and the Samuel D. Thurman Professor of Law at the University of Utah S. J. Quinney College of Law. Learn more: https://humanrights.utah.edu
Hours after winning the Heisman Trophy, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray apologized for anti-gay tweets he made as a teenager, saying they don’t “reflect who I am or what I believe.”
"I apologize for the tweets that have come to light tonight from when I was 14 and 15," he tweeted Sunday morning. "I used a poor choice of word that doesn't reflect who I am or what I believe. I did not intend to single out any individual or group."
I apologize for the tweets that have come to light tonight from when I was 14 and 15. I used a poor choice of word that doesn’t reflect who I am or what I believe. I did not intend to single out any individual or group.— Kyler Murray (@TheKylerMurray) December 9, 2018
The offensive tweets were deleted from his account late Saturday night, but screenshots of the tweets show Murray repeatedly using the word "queer" in conversations.
Murray, who passed for more than 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns, followed in the footsteps of Baker Mayfield, the Oklahoma quarterback who won the Heisman last December and now plays for the Cleveland Browns. Murray’s Sooners play Alabama in the College Football Playoff on Dec. 29.
Murray, a junior, is the Sooners' seventh Heisman winner, which ties Notre Dame and Ohio State for the most all-time. Oklahoma is the first team to win consecutive Heismans with different players since Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis of Army in 1945 and 1946. Southern California’s Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush won the award in 2004 and 2005, but Bush later had to forfeit the award due to NCAA violations.
John Dean, a White House counsel under President Richard Nixon who received jail time for his role in the Watergate scandal, said Friday that allegations against President Donald Trump detailed in new court filings give Congress "little choice" other than to begin impeachment proceedings.
Dean's comments, made during CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" segment, follow the release of a legal memo from federal prosecutors in New York regarding Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. Prosecutors wrote that Cohen had implicated Trump in the arrangement of hush-money payments to women during the 2016 election.
"I don't know that this will forever disappear into some dark hole of unprosecutable presidents," Dean said. "I think it will resurface in the Congress. I think what this totality of today's filings show that the House is going to have little choice, the way this is going, other than to start impeachment proceedings."
Dean, who served as Nixon's counsel from 1970 to 1973, was chosen by the president to lead a special investigation into the Watergate scandal. He would go on to accuse Nixon of having direct involvement in the coverup, even implicating himself while detailing the ways various White House officials attempted to block investigations into the incident. He was charged with obstruction of justice, eventually serving four months in prison.
The Cohen memo prosecutors released Friday lists three people at an August 2014 meeting: Cohen, "Individual-1" and "Chairman-1." Based on statements in the memo, it can be determined that Individual-1 is Trump, and people familiar with the case told The Washington Post's Matt Devin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky that Chairman-1 is David Pecker of the National Enquirer.
"In August 2014, Chairman-1 had met with Cohen and Individual-1, and had offered to help deal with negative stories about Individual-1's relationships with women by identifying such stories so that they could be purchased and 'killed,' " the prosecutors' memorandum says.
Payments were made to two women who alleged they had sexual relationships with Trump before he ran for president: Playboy model Karen McDougal — who reached an agreement with the publishers of the National Enquirer that she wouldn’t share her story of the relationship — and adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, who received $130,000 to remain silent about a liaison involving Trump.
In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law in making the arranged payments. He also pleaded guilty to other crimes including making a false statement to a bank and later to lying to Congress about a Trump-branded real estate project in Moscow.
Cohen, citing the fact he has cooperated with investigators, had requested a sentence of no prison time. However, in the nearly 40-page memo, New York prosecutors recommended Cohen receive a "substantial" sentence, possibly 3 1/2 years.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Friday that the Cohen filings "tell us nothing of value that wasn't already known."
Dean, who was a star witness of the 1973 congressional hearings on the Watergate scandal, has been critical of Trump in the past. In a November tweet, he compared Trump and Nixon, stating simply, “Trump=evil.”
The vehicle we use to elect the president is more like an Electoral Bus than a College, because its purpose isn’t to educate, but to arrive at a destination: the selection of the president.
To get there, let’s say every state has its own Electoral Bus, District of Columbia too, so it’s a pretend fleet of 51. On election night, each state’s electors board their own bus and head out, but as long as they end up at the presidency, how they get tickets to ride is up to their legislature. That’s an exclusive state right granted by the Constitution.
D.C. and 48 states (including Utah) choose electors using a method called winner-take-all where the candidate with the most popular votes in each state gets all of its electoral votes. Winner-take-all has been around since the 1800s, so most people think it’s part of the Constitution. It’s not. It’s state legislation not requiring a constitutional amendment to be replaced.
In our two-tiered Electoral College, technically, regular voters choose electors and electors (the ones riding the aforementioned buses) elect the president. People get to be electors simply by knowing the right person in their party’s political hierarchy, and each party chooses a set of electors hoping to get on the bus.
One reason the Electoral College was designed that way was an attempt to more evenly balance power between smaller and larger states. Back then, with fewer than 4 million people nationwide, a single vote in small Delaware equaled almost three votes in big Virginia. Today, with 326 million people nationwide, a single vote in small Wyoming equals almost four votes in big California. However, as the smallest state, Wyoming still has the fewest electoral votes possible (three), while the biggest state, California, has 55 — and candidates ignore both. Why? Because both are predictable.
Any power smaller states gained under the original system has been lost to unpredictable battleground states, of any size. In 2016, why did Iowa (after primary season), with 3 million people, a strong rural component and six electoral votes (all like Utah), get 21 campaign events and Utah only one? Because Iowa’s a battleground state.
In Utah, we had 10 presidential contenders. The Republican won the statewide popular vote with only 46 percent of the total. The other nine candidates combined won 54 percent. The result? The six electors chosen by winner-take-all to ride our Electoral Bus to its destination represented fewer than half of our voters. That’s how Utah contributed to the infamous popular vote/electoral vote split, and with margins in presidential contests growing tighter every cycle, keeping these state winner-take-all laws makes the possibility of more splits loom over every future election.
When candidates and their campaign managers plan routes to the presidency, they look at a map of the United States and simply take for granted every state that’s predictable, zeroing in on those that aren’t: 10-12 battleground states where all the candidates, their surrogates, money and promises go. The election for the only national office we have is determined not by the entire nation, but by a handful of fickle states with overblown electoral power that we other states surrender to them by keeping winner-take-all to elect the president.
Newer legislation to choose riders for our Electoral Buses is the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Recent passage in Connecticut brings membership in the compact to 11 states plus D.C. adding up to 172 electoral votes. Down the road, when states equaling another 98 join, membership will reach the 270 votes required to win the presidency. In the election that follows, participating states agree to appoint electors not from the party of the statewide winner, but the nationwide winner.
When that happens, big states, small states, big cities, small cities, rural communities nationwide — where you vote won’t matter, that you vote will. Every vote in states like Utah will be as powerful as every vote in states like Florida, and candidates must go everywhere to get them. On that election night, for the first time in American history, finally, electors representing the nation’s entire vote will ride Electoral Buses to their destination: the selection of the president.
Bunnie Keen grew up in Idaho, attended college in Utah and invites all fellow Utahns to go to nationalpopularvote.com and learn about how to make Utah, Idaho and all other ignored states matter in presidential elections.
Several recent articles in The Salt Lake Tribune have dealt with President Russell Nelson's dictum of the proper name use for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
We have several acronyms such as CIA, FANG and POTUS in general use that reference familiar entities with longer-sounding names. Heaven help the above-named church if the acronym CJCLDS (pronounced: sea-jay-cluds) becomes in use with the followers known as Cludites.
I much prefer to be known as a Mormon.
Milo (Mike) Calder, Salt Lake City
While climate leaders gather in Poland for COP24, the 24th annual global climate summit, the Bureau of Land Management will ignore the warnings of science and conclude 2018 by leasing hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands for fossil fuel extraction.
On Dec. 11, the Utah Bureau of Land Management will auction more than 150,000 acres to the oil and gas industry. The December auction will top off a year in which we already saw the largest lease sale since the Bush administration. In total, the Utah BLM will have offered over 420,000 acres in 2018.
The agency’s prioritization of fossil fuel extraction is immoral and irresponsible in the face of climate crisis. In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report that says society must transition off fossil fuels in the next 12 years to prevent catastrophic warming. The National Climate Assessment, which the Trump administration tried to release quietly on Black Friday, predicts a devastating future for the U.S., including mass wildfires and dramatic decreases in crop yields.
Projected megadrought for the Southwest has already hit Utah, as 2018 was the state’s driest year on record. Foreseeing this crisis in late winter, Gov. Gary Herbert responded by asking faith leaders to pray for snow. We need more than prayers. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
Taking action to prevent climate catastrophe must include an immediate end to fossil fuel leasing on public lands. A recent report from the U.S. Geological Survey — also released on Black Friday — says that fossil fuels extracted from public lands contribute to one-quarter of U.S. carbon emissions. By ramping up extraction on public lands, the BLM is not just selling land; it’s selling my generation’s future.
While sacrificing our future, the BLM also has made it increasingly difficult for the public to comment or participate in the auction process. In 2016, the BLM moved the leasing process online to prevent the public from protesting the auctions in person. Since then, public participation has been increasingly eroded. For the December auction, the BLM failed to hold a meaningful or adequate public commenting period. The official “protest” period was shortened to 10 days and includes prohibitive requirements. To write a letter, one must represent an official organization, fax or hand deliver the letter, and reference specific parcels. Most young people aren’t part of official organizations and we don’t have issues with single parcels—we oppose the entire process.
By ignoring science and failing to provide accessible ways for people to voice their concerns, the BLM has acted in service of the fossil fuel industry above all else. Rather than finding a pathway to transition off fossil fuels, the BLM has sacrificed unprecedented acreages of public lands for oil and gas extraction. It is taking us backward while accelerating the warming of our climate at a deadly pace.
However, the agency’s attempt to silence the public and sell away our future behind closed doors will not succeed. We already saw some success with the December 2018 sale. A lawsuit challenging the BLM’s oil and gas leasing in greater sage grouse habitat led to the removal of 174,986 acres from December’s original 329,212-acre sale. These parcels have been moved to the March 2019 sale, but the public will have increased opportunity to comment thanks to a preliminary injunction that forces the BLM to hold 30-day public commenting and administrative protest periods.
The actions taken on our public lands will determine the health and safety of the current generation and all generations to come. We deserve a livable future.
Brooke Larsen, Salt Lake City, is organizer of Uplift, a youth-led movement for climate justice on the Colorado Plateau.
Dear Ann Cannon • Early last year, my best friend of many years asked if I would hire her daughter at my place of employment where I’m a midlevel manager. I did so happily. I’ve known this girl (a woman now) since she was a baby. She’s creative, bright and well-educated. But it turns out that she’s a bad employee — never on time, always pushing deadlines, etc. And she doesn’t take correction well, either. She’s been known to sit in my office and cry when I talk to her about her performance, then refuses to respond to emails or texts afterward. Because she’s very good at her specific job, my boss would like to keep her onboard. But he’s putting a lot of pressure on me to fix things — as though I’m the one not doing my job. Help! What should I do?
Dear Babysitter • Wow. An already difficult situation — dealing with an employee who isn’t doing her job — is made more difficult because of the deeply personal connection you have with her family. No doubt about it. You are in a really tough position. So what can you do? These options come to mind.Hope she quits.Quit yourself.Pick up the slack and cover for her.Talk to her about her lackluster performance. Then help her set goals for improvement and follow through with regular one-on-one conferences.Fire (gulp!) her.
OK. I don’t really advise the first three options. Hoping she quits would just be wishful thinking on your part, sort of like hoping the folks at the IRS were just joking when they said they’re coming after you for all those back taxes you owe. And unless you really hate your job and have another employment opportunity lined up for yourself, why should you be the one who quits? As for the third option? Yeah. You’re right. It’s stupid and unrealistic. And did I also mention stupid?
The fourth option can be a good one. But it sounds as if you’re already doing this and that it’s not working. Furthermore, it’s not a sustainable solution. Which brings us to the dreaded fifth option: fire her.
I know if I were in your position I’d want to do anything BUT fire the daughter of my best friend. I’d justifiably worry about the consequences. Will my friend understand why I took this action? Will our friendship remain the same? Will our friendship even survive? Gah! So much to worry about!
However. I think you need to ask yourself this question: Bottom line, is this employee harming or helping the overall health of the company — a company made up of many individuals and not just this single employee who, by her unprofessional behavior, is demanding special favors? Sometimes loyalty to one person makes us blind to the well-being of a larger community whose members depend on it for their own well-being.
In the long run, losing a job may actually be a good thing for your friend’s daughter, frankly. It could be a much-needed wakeup call for a clearly talented young woman who still needs basic lessons in “adulting.”
I’m sorry. You’re probably in for some stormy weather. But, as Led Zeppelin (and also my dad) used to say, good times, bad times — they too shall pass. Hang in there.
Dear Tribune Readers • Meanwhile, I heard from readers about Underwear Man. Here’s a sample response.
If this guy is hanging out on his front porch in his underwear, he needs to be called on it. Tell his wife? Do you think she doesn’t know? Tell him, “If you want to talk to me put some damn pants on, you pervert!” Why do women think they need to pussyfoot around with these idiots? He knows very well that he’s causing her some discomfort and he loves every minute of it! Just sayin’.
Rep. Rob Bishop has been called a lot of things by the environmental community, but late this session of Congress he defied labels and voiced his support for reauthorizing one of the most important, if underappreciated, conservation laws, the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Bishop’s pursuit of a bipartisan deal to sustain this important program was a watershed moment for a town renowned for gridlock and on an issue that had previously and repeatedly died on the vine due to the congressman’s past opposition.
This important program, which leverages fees on offshore oil and gas development — at zero cost to taxpayers — has invested in and protected more than 41,000 urban parks, open spaces, wilderness areas and other public lands throughout the United States.
Recognizing this, Bishop and his peer across the aisle and conservation champion, Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, found common ground and passed out of their committee a deal to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
This moment — heralded as a miracle in some circles — was as brilliant as it was brief, with the deal languishing in the House and the Land and Water Conservation Fund expiring several short days later.
Congress then recessed for the election and the Land and Water Conservation Fund has remained in limbo even as Congress reconvened this week for the lame-duck session of Congress.
It’s time for Utah’s elected leaders to keep fighting for the bipartisan deal Bishop stands behind.
After all, Utah has been blessed with some of the most spectacular public lands in our nation. They’re the envy of the other states and countries around the world. That’s why awe-inspiring places like Arches National Park, Lake Powell and Goblin Valley State Park bring thousands of tourists each year to Utah.
But these natural wonders aren’t the only way Utahns engage with the outdoors. Enjoying our wildlife heritage and enjoying nature don’t always require a visit to the backcountry. Often these activities occur at the places families go on weeknights or weekends.
These playgrounds, community trails and ballfields are some of the most important places to introduce kids to nature and to enjoy the outdoors. Many of these community resources have only been possible thanks to the now-expired Land and Water Conservation Fund.
For example, it invested more than $200,000 in 2011 in the development of the Fairview City Sports Park. This park, in Fairview, includes a playground, basketball and tennis courts, and other facilities aimed at getting families outdoors. The same goes for Salt Hollow Park, which the Land and Water Conservation Fund invested $150,000 in 2012 into Salt Hollow Park in Hyrum to build fields, install playground and construct picnic pavilions. The Land and Water Conservation Fund also invested $15.3 million in the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, which Salt Lake City-area families use to get outdoors and enjoy nature within reach of their communities.
These community resources and common-sense investments are just the tip of iceberg for the immense impact this 50-year-old conservation program has had in Utah and across the nation. Given this impact, you would think that the future of the Land and Water Conservation Fund would be certain — but it has been anything but.
Lawmakers, including Bishop, have at times wrongly targeted the program as a slush fund, when the only “special interest” the Land and Water Conservation Fund serves is that of everyday Utahns.
This common-sense program has had real impacts throughout Utah — and Bishop acknowledged as much to The Salt Lake Tribune in describing why he acted: “This bill … ensures that Congress adequately funds the lands it already owns and realigns the fund back to its original goal of ensuring that hunters, fishermen and families have access to recreational activities.”
That’s something the rest of Utah’s delegation can agree upon — and why they all should resolve to get the Land and Water Conservation Fund permanently reauthorized and fully funded this year.
State Rep. Mark Archuleta Wheatley represents House District 35 in the Utah Legislature. He also serves as an advisory board member of Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO).
It is true that one person's illegal or uncaring behavior can spoil another person's rights.
If you walk your dog in a nice park, and then neglect to pick up the dog's waste, the park may be closed to all dog owners. Because one person was inconsiderate and unthinking about consequences, every dog owner suffers. That is how laws and rules often come about sometimes.
If a gun owner loans someone their gun and it is used in an illegal act, that gun owner should to some degree be held responsible. If you loan your car to someone not inquiring whether that driver has a driver's license, and they have an accident, who is held responsible? The car owner!
Jill McCluskey, mother of slain Lauren McCluskey, has a point in the Nov. 14 article “Mother of slain U. student wants charges against the gun owner.”
The right to bear arms is a wonderful freedom for those who require a gun for a legitimate reason. Law enforcement, hunting, protection and target shooting are legal, I believe. All very nice, but unfortunately there are not enough laws, restrictions or codes in place to help guide and protect people in our country.
Other countries, smaller than the USA, have gun laws and requirements in place, and they are enforced. England and Australia have good gun laws.
How heartbreaking for the loved ones of Lauren McCluskey to not be able to find some kind of justice, or at least some kind of future assurance that guns and some people who own them will be found accountable in the future. To at least find laws in place soon that would prevent so many more killings by guns.
Marlene Lundquist, Sandy
Many of us who travel in and out of the Salt Lake City International Airport stop at the restrooms on the way to our boarding gates. When we come back from all of those long flights, we stop in again.
Last year, during the holiday season, I waited in a long line to get into the restroom. As I stood there, I watched a lone woman with a large cart, going from stall to stall, cleaning, scrubbing, trying to keep up with the hordes of international travelers who entered the stalls, flushed the toilets and then walked by her without a nod. She was invisible.
When I left, I reached into my purse and took out a $20 bill and handed it to her. She burst into tears. I walked out of the restroom and thought, to me that was nothing — a trip to the ATM, one bill out of 10, to carry me through the next few months where I might need cash. To her, that was probably the equivalent of two hours working at a job that none of us would want.
Please, I ask of you, as we enter the holidays, think of that woman and hand a $5, $10 or $20 bill, whatever you can afford, to the person cleaning the restroom you and thousands of others are using that day. It’s a tough job, and I think many of us who fly in and out of SLC can well afford to acknowledge and reward the work put into one of the least-appreciated, but most important segments of our travel.
Mary Dillon, Park City
Nine years after Susan Powell was last seen at her home in West Valley City, she’s the subject of a two-hour TV documentary.
“Susan Powell: An ID Murder Mystery” premieres Wednesday at 7 p.m. on the Investigation Discovery channel. And the big new is — there is no news. Her body still hasn’t been found. No additional evidence has been discovered linking her husband, Josh Powell, to her disappearance.
So what’s the continuing fascination with the crime?
“There is something about that nagging desire to have closure that kind of sparks people’s imaginations more than a cut-and-dried, solved case,” said executive producer Pamela Deutsch.
There’s not a lot of mystery remaining in the Powell case. Josh Powell was a person of interest as soon as his wife disappeared on Dec. 6, 2009. On Feb. 5, 2012, he killed himself and his two young sons by hitting them with a hatchet and then setting off an explosion that destroyed his home in Graham, Wash. And Josh’s father and brother — suspected of knowing what happened to Susan — are both dead.
( Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune ) In this 2009 file photo, Joshua Powell listened as Kirk Graves, his brother-in-law, spoke during a news conference at West View Park. His wife, Susan Powell, 28, had last been seen days earlier and had been reported missing by her relatives. (Chris Detrick/)
But Susan’s body has never been found.
Deutsch believes continuing interest in the case is fueled by the fact that the Powells looked like the average family next door. “I think the people who knew them were shocked to hear what was really going on in that household and in that marriage,” she said.
On top of that came revelations about the dysfunction in Josh Powell’s family, centering on revelations about his father, Steve, who went to prison for voyeurism when the investigation into Susan’s death uncovered evidence that Steve had been photographing naked pre-teen neighbor girls through the windows of their home.
“There’s something very interesting about people who maintain a very perfect façade, and there’s obviously lots of skeletons,” Deutsch said. “But then to realize that it had probably gone on for a couple of generations just makes it that much more interesting for us to do.”
The goal was to tell the whole story in two hours for people who weren’t paying attention to every detail as it played out over years.
“We try to give that bird’s-eye view, so it pulls all of the pieces together in one fell swoop,” Deutsch said. “Most people didn’t follow it from beginning to end.”
The program features interviews with Chuck Cox and Denise Cox Ernest, Susan’s father and sister; several of Susan’s friends; the Coxes’ attorney; police detectives from Utah and Washington; and more. There are photos and video of Susan and Josh Powell and their children. And there are actors playing the principals in re-creations.
While the program might be of interest to people in Utah, it’s clearly not intended for us. At least not for those of us who remember the case — who were inundated with all the media coverage — because, again, there’s nothing new.
And there’s nothing unusual about that. Utahns are among the millions who tune in to shows like “48 Hours,” “Dateline NBC” (which did an hour about Josh Powell in 2012) and “20/20” (which did two hours about him in 2012) as they retell the stories of crimes in other parts of the country, spinning them as if they’re mysteries when they are in fact — more often than not — long-since solved. If you live in the town where the crimes were committed, there’s a good chance there will be nothing surprising in the TV retellings.
If there is news about the Susan Powell case at some point — if her body is found — ID will update this program online at InvestigationDiscovery.com. That’s standard operating procedure at the channel, where they’re updating the status of cases two or three times a week, Deutsch said. “Not always so dramatic as finding a body, but we’re always on top of that.”
And the odds of repeating this “ID Murder Mystery” with a new ending would be high.
“This is just one of the most twisted, fascinating stories that really will grip our audience,” Deutsch said.
With major implications on everything from the classroom to the church pews, from the Capitol to the dinner table, an unrelenting demographic shift has hit a major milestone: Fewer than half the people living in Salt Lake County are on the rolls of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The membership numbers come from the church itself, initially handed over to state officials to assist in making population estimates. The Utah-based faith provided the same numbers to The Salt Lake Tribune.
They show Salt Lake County’s population is now 48.91 percent Latter-day Saint, the lowest since at least the 1930s, according to the available records. There are 558,607 people on the church membership rolls in the state’s largest county, which has an estimated population of 1,142,077.
In Utah overall, the percentage of Latter-day Saints is 61.55 percent, a figure that has also inched down as the state’s hot job market has attracted new residents who are less likely to be members of the predominant faith than the state’s homegrown population.
(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)
This shift, decades in the making, has tangible impacts, such as Salt Lake County becoming more politically liberal. It also changes the dynamic in many neighborhoods and schools.
“When I grew up in Davis County, almost all of my classmates were members. My kids have only a few Latter-day Saint classmates in their school,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, who is a member of the faith and lives in Sugar House. “I hope they learn respect for the uniqueness of others and learn a little bit about themselves in the process. I don’t think that one experience is better or worse than the other, but it is a perspective that will shape who they are as adults.”
McAdams, who was elected to the U.S. House in November, added: “I know that sometimes it can be hard to live in a predominantly Latter-day Saint community if you don’t belong to the faith. I hope we all can learn to be more inclusive of others and break down some of the barriers that separate us.”
At the same time, for those Latter-day Saints who find themselves the minority in the community, McAdams said it can have a psychological impact, as it did for him when he lived in New York City.
“It made me more sensitive to the different perspectives of others, and my faith became something more personal to me.”
(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ben McAdams in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. (Trent Nelson/)
Salt Lake County is now the fifth minority-LDS county in the state, joining Carbon (47.53 percent), San Juan (36.08 percent), Summit (28.69 percent) and Grand (25.27 percent). The next closest to the 50 percent threshold is Weber at 52.72 percent, a decline from 2017, when it was at 53.5 percent.
The most LDS counties are Rich (83.86 percent), Morgan (83.18 percent) and Utah, the state’s second most populous county, at 82.18 percent.
These numbers provided by the church include everyone listed on the membership rolls, including those who no longer participate in the faith.
Independent Latter-day Saint demographer Matt Martinich has estimated that about 40 percent of Latter-day Saints in the United States are “active,” and he guesses that roughly half of Salt Lake County’s members go to church, or roughly 24 percent of the county’s population.
Martinich has been tracking congregations worldwide and believes the data seen in Utah match what he’s seen elsewhere.
He has said Salt Lake County “has become increasingly more cosmopolitan, housing has become more expensive, and the church has overall really struggled in urban areas.”
For members deciding where to put down roots, Salt Lake County “is just culturally less attractive, economically less attractive, socially less attractive,” said Martinich, who lives in Colorado.
That depends, of course, on the Latter-day Saint.
Paul Augenstein, his wife and two sons moved to American Fork in the mid-1990s. They stayed for a year.
“It was just too homogenous for me,” said Augenstein, who grew up in Sandy.
The family moved to Riverton. They had another son and then adopted three children. Through the years, Augenstein has watched as the percentage of his neighbors who are fellow Latter-day Saints has declined. He says it is now 70 percent to 30 percent, maybe closer to 60-40.
“It has increased the diversity and the camaraderie and the ability of us to come together as a neighborhood, not a ward [LDS congregation],” said Augenstein, who was previously the bishop in his area. “It allows people to come out of their comfort zones, to come out of the bubble, so to speak.”
Derek Miller grew up in Provo, home to church-owned Brigham Young University and where he knew only one kid who wasn’t a member of his Latter-day Saint faith. He then moved to Washington, D.C., where religion was never the dominant issue. When he returned to Utah, he and his wife made the choice to relocate to Salt Lake City, moving into the east side’s Harvard-Yale neighborhood.
“It was a very strange experience,” he said. “It seemed like everything devolved into pro-church or anti-church, and I had never experienced that before.”
That was 13 years ago, before he was named a bishop, before he became the governor’s chief of staff and then the president of the Salt Lake Chamber. He’s seen the neighborhood become more diverse. He’s seen two wards combine into one. And he’s seen the tension dissipate some.
“With that increased diversity,” he said, “comes this feeling that it doesn’t have to divide us.”
(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Derek Miller, president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah, hosts an immigration roundtable with community leaders to discuss how immigrants make essential contributions to the Utah economy. The event marked the launch of the iMarch for Immigration Campaign, a national day of action in all 50 states on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in an effort to push forward with a solution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the so-called "DREAMers" who came to the U.S. as children. (Francisco Kjolseth/)
Miller’s three children have grown up in an area where about half their friends are members and half are not. Religious affiliation isn’t the driving factor when they meet people, and they don’t reflexively view issues through a “pro-church or anti-church” lens.
“That is what I hope for them and that is what I hope for our community.”
Salt Lake County has not only become less LDS over time, it also has added more people from various racial or ethnic backgrounds, noted Pam Perlich, the director of demographic research at the University of Utah’s Gardner Policy Institute, which puts out the state’s population estimates.
“The place is just becoming much more diverse,” she said. “It is not just that data set that is indicating it, there are many data sets showing that.”
As an example, the Utah State Board of Education reported that more than half the new students are minorities and the Salt Lake City School District is majority-minority.
Perlich called Salt Lake County the state’s “economic heart,” which attracts people, and that leads to ethnic enclaves seen in west Salt Lake City, Kearns and West Valley City. Some of those newcomers are Latter-day Saints, but many are not.
Researchers like Perlich consider Latter-day Saints as not only members of a faith, but also an ethnic group. And, like Utah’s Latino or Asian populations, it goes to reason that there would remain LDS ethnic enclaves.
As she said, “People like to live around people who are like them.”
Photo courtesy of LDS Newsroom The Jordan River LDS Temple. (Stan Macbean/)
In Salt Lake County, those LDS enclaves tend to be in the southwestern portions of the county — places such as South Jordan, West Jordan and Herriman — though the stronger enclaves are in cities like American Fork, Alpine and Provo.
Salt Lake County actually saw a decrease in not just the percentage of Latter-day Saints, but also in the raw number of members. The county added 13,800 residents at the same time it saw its LDS population drop by 4,700 people. That’s most likely a combination of Latter-day Saints moving out of the county or people who were once on the membership rolls requesting that their names be removed. And, in the state, the church added 9,067 members. In the past 10 years, the previous low was 23,500.
Because of the declining Latter-day Saint populations in parts of Salt Lake City, Murray and West Valley City, Martinich, the demographer, said: “We’ll probably see five to 10 stakes discontinued in the old areas of Salt Lake County in the next five years or so.”
Church officials declined to comment for this story, though in 2017, spokesman Eric Hawkins said: “Many people with families (including church members) have moved to areas where the cost of living may be more affordable or to be closer to new employment centers or schools. Obviously, this impacts the number of church members in both areas. So you’ll see a decrease in [Latter-day Saint congregations] in one area and an increase in another.”
That has taken place in Salt Lake County, where wards have been combined and some meetinghouses moved or even bulldozed as the population shifts away from Salt Lake City and surrounding communities to the north or south.
A Buddhist temple in Salt Lake City is in an old LDS meetinghouse; so is the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Kearns, which has a mostly Vietnamese congregation. In Salt Lake City’s Highland Park neighborhood, an LDS chapel was bulldozed and turned into a community park.
At the same time, South Jordan now has two Latter-day Saint temples and Utah County has four, with plans for a fifth. This year, church leaders announced another in southwestern Utah’s Washington County, where the LDS population is at 61.30 percent.
Latter-day Saints are one of the most consistent Republican voting blocs in the country, and that is true in Utah as well. There’s a correlation between the more politically moderate or even liberal parts of the state and those with smaller percentages of Latter-day Saint residents.
Morgan Lyon Cotti, a political scientist at the University of Utah, said the 2018 midterm elections show the clout an increasingly blue-tinged Salt Lake County can have, pointing to the ballot initiatives on issues like medical marijuana, which was opposed by the church, and an independent redistricting commission, as well as Democrat McAdams’ close victory in the 4th Congressional District.
If the religious diversification continues to lead to a more liberal voting population, “that could have an impact on the state moving forward,” she said.
Even with McAdams joining the state’s previously all-Republican delegation, all of Utah’s federal representatives are Latter-day Saints, as are all of the statewide elected officials and the vast majority of the Legislature. Even though Salt Lake County makes up a third of the state’s population, it will have no member in the Legislature’s Republican leadership come January. All of the Democratic members of the Legislature live in Salt Lake County, except for one, Rep.-elect LaWanna Shurtliff, who hails from Ogden.
It leads to “the push and pull between Salt Lake County and the rest of the Legislature,” Lyon Cotti said.
The divide is particularly stark between Salt Lake County and its southern neighbor, conservative Utah County, but economic opportunities may change that, according to Miller, the Chamber president.
He expects the growth of tech companies along the Point of the Mountain separating the two counties to spur even more religious diversification. That would reduce the cultural divide if these new employees and executives choose to live in these still predominantly Latter-day Saint neighborhoods in Utah County, rather than commuting from Salt Lake County or Park City, though that doesn’t appear to be happening in large numbers just yet.
Either way, Utah won’t stop changing, not while the economy remains robust. The persistent swing toward a less-LDS Utah is expected to continue with every new group of children starting kindergarten and with every new business advertising for open positions.
Katie Gallivan was splashing in the pool with her brother when the two finagled a way to finally get her loose tooth to fall out.
They tied a string around it and jerked it loose and just like that, the tooth sank to the bottom, lost forever.
The 7-year-old was distressed. Now how would the Tooth Fairy figure it out?
Fortunately for Katie, the pool they were at belonged to George H.W. Bush, and as they were leaving the Kennebunkport home, Bush, then in his first year as president, asked the little girl if she had had a good time.
Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune The Salt Lake Tribune staff portraits. Robert Gehrke. (Francisco Kjolseth/)
It was fine, Katie said, before briefing the president on the tale of woe surrounding her lost tooth.
Now Bush was distressed, and he had an aide fetch a notecard and pen because, as leader of the free world, the president has a little pull with the Tooth Fairy. It’s in the Constitution. Somewhere near the middle. Trust me, I’m a Constitutional scholar.
He dated it Sept. 2, ’89, put a little “X” in the top left corner near the logo that said Walkers’ Point and then, dispensing with ceremony, cut to the chase. “To the Tooth Fairy,” he wrote. “Katie’s tooth came out where the ‘X’ is. It really did — I promise.”
(Photo courtesy of Jack Gallivan Jr.) Former President George H.W. Bush wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy for 7-year-old Katie Gallivan, a Utahn who lost her tooth in Bush's pool in 1989.
He signed it “George Bush,” just as his wife, Barbara Bush, strolled up. George handed Barbara the note, and she signed it as the second witness.
Now it was ironclad. And Katie was relieved. That night, the Tooth Fairy left her a dollar under her pillow.
It was an encounter that Katie’s father, Jack Gallivan Jr. (son of the former Salt Lake Tribune publisher), looked back on fondly this week after the passing of the former president.
“With all of the stories that have been told over the last week, it was just so typical,” Gallivan told me Friday. “His kindness and his compassion, his sort of desire to have everybody happy.”
Now I don’t want to get too carried away in praising 41. He wasn’t an angel or a saint. He wasn’t even regarded by most as a particularly good president.
But the eulogies and remembrances over the past week always kept coming back to the same trait, a basic humility and kindness, a love for his children and grandchildren, and his respect for the office.
“I think we were all just sort of smacked in the face by how far we’ve fallen as we watched his funeral,” Gallivan said. “Where are those people that populated Washington? The people who have gone through the United States Senate? There were some giants in there. Where are they today?”
Indeed, it is a far cry from where we find ourselves today, where decency takes a backseat to winning at all costs, and corrosive, nasty attacks are the norm.
Last week, there was a piece that ran in this news outlet about another note that Bush wrote, not to a 7-year-old, but a note he wrote a little over three years later for incoming President Bill Clinton.
“When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too,” Bush wrote. “Your success now is our country's success. I am rooting hard for you.”
The two former adversaries would later become close friends. Clinton reflected on what that note said about Bush and the state of the country, as well.
“Given what politics looks like in America and around the world today, it’s easy to sigh and say George H.W. Bush belonged to an era that is gone and never coming back,” Clinton wrote. “I know what he would say: ‘Nonsense. It’s your duty to get that America back.’”
We can do it, I hope, if we try harder to disagree without disparaging, by standing for what we think is right without tearing down others’ beliefs, and if we take a little time to comfort and help those who might need it — including a 7-year-old girl with a missing tooth.
(Photo courtesy of Jack Gallivan Jr.) Former President George H.W. Bush wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy for 7-year-old Katie Gallivan, a Utahn who lost her tooth in Bush's pool in 1989.
Legacy Parkway in Davis County is a different sort of freeway.
It bans trucks. The speed limit is just 55 mph. Its mere two lanes in each direction have rubberized pavement to dampen sound — all designed to help adjacent wetlands and wildlife.
But that could change dramatically in a little more than a year, on Jan. 1, 2020.
That is when a 15-year deal expires, initially drawn up to end lawsuits by environmental groups against the highway. The truck ban will disappear that day, and the state is then free to raise the speed limit or look at widening the roadway.
But the Legislature could extend the deal, or parts of it, and preserve existing conditions. Some cities along the 11.5-mile route and environmental groups are pushing for the extension when the Legislature convenes next month.
Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, is drafting legislation to extend the truck ban. But he says, “I expect it will face significant opposition because of the new inland port” in northwest Salt Lake City likely creating more truck traffic and a need to handle it.
The Utah Trucking Association says it has been waiting patiently for the expiration of the deal that it opposed. It views Legacy as a route that could greatly help truckers, especially many firms with yards at its North Salt Lake end.
The Sierra Club of Utah, which led out on lawsuits that helped create Legacy’s design, says it is not ruling out new legal challenges if needed to protect the area — but it hopes to work with the Legislature to avoid them.
After a 15-year truce, fierce legal and political battles over Legacy could reignite.
They began when the state started building the highway in 2001 only to have legal challenges from environmental groups force a halt to construction.
The plaintiffs contended, and courts agreed, that environmental impact studies for the project and its effect on adjacent Great Salt Lake wetlands were insufficient.
Environmental groups and the state eventually pounded out a compromise in 2005 with a 15-year life that expires next year. This deal ending the bitter fight allowed construction to restart. Converted from a highway into a parkway, the road was completed and opened in 2008.
‘A civilized way to drive’
“Legacy created a more civilized way to drive,” says Roger Borgenicht, co-chairman of Utahns for Better Transportation, which joined environmental groups in early lawsuits against the highway.
“People have expressed to me all the time that they get home less stressed” using Legacy, Borgenicht says. That has a lot to do with the absence of trucks and commercial traffic and lower speeds. These combine with the views of wild wetlands unencumbered by billboards to make the drive more akin to traveling a less-crowded country lane than an urban freeway.
“Most communities build walls and turn their backs to highways,” he says. “But when Legacy became a parkway instead of a highway … the community said, ‘Let’s embrace it.’ The new subdivisions that came turned their front doors toward Legacy” and the pedestrian and bike trail system that parallels it.
Concerns of nearby cities
Woods Cross City Administrator Gary Uresk worries that many buyers in those new subdivisions did not know that Legacy’s truck ban and other characteristics were temporary.
“I’d hate to have them wake up on Jan. 1, 2020, and all of the sudden big trucks are coming by,” he says.
“I think we need to pause and ask ourselves, ‘Do we just want to turn it into another I-15, or do we want to keep it a special place?’”
His City Council last month passed a resolution calling for the state Legislature to extend the truck ban. Otherwise, it said residents near the parkway and those who use its trails “will experience diminished qualify of life due to the increased noise and air pollution created by the trucks.” Farmington has passed a similar resolution.
Both cities also worry about the effect on adjacent nature preserves, some of which were formed as part of the compromise to allow the parkway. Woods Cross’ resolution notes that the truck ban was created to help protect the wildlands, and that need has not changed.
Brigham Mellor, economic director for Farmington, says his city also has concerns about safety.
Farmington looked at 2015-17 accident data from the Utah Department of Transportation for Legacy and the 14-mile portion of Interstate 15 that parallels it nearby, he says. The findings? About 100 accidents on Legacy compared with more than 2,200 on the corresponding stretch of I-15.
“We believe that trucks have a lot to do with that,” Mellor says. “Granted, I-15 is used a lot more than Legacy, but it’s not used 2,500 percent more.”
UDOT position, plans
John Gleason, spokesman for UDOT, says his agency takes no position on extending the truck ban or other conditions of the 2005 deal, and that the issue is a matter for the Legislature.
But if it is not extended, he says the truck ban would automatically be lifted on Jan. 1, 2020. “We generally don’t have truck bans on any of our highways. Legacy is the only one.”
He adds that UDOT likely would start an engineering study to determine whether Legacy speed limits should be raised and, if so, how high. He says UDOT has no near-term plans to widen Legacy, but the end of the deal would give it the option to do so to handle future growth or congestion.
One thing that will not change is the current ban on billboards. The state designated the route as a scenic byway, prohibiting signs, says Gleason.
Truckers past ‘patiently waiting’
Rick Clasby, executive director of the Utah Trucking Association, says truckers are counting on getting access to Legacy.
“Our position is that an agreement was made. We opposed the agreement. Now that we’ve been patiently waiting for 10 years, we expect to be able to use Legacy as one of the options to minimize congestion and more efficiently use the highways,” he says. Legacy “would not necessarily become a major artery for trucking, but it’s a nice option for us.”
That is especially true for many trucking companies based in North Salt Lake. “They would love to be able to use it to access their yards. It absolutely would help.”
He says such a change also could help improve traffic on I-15.
“Any time two routes are available, it’s going to minimize congestion on one or the other or both. Legacy has done that. It’s notably made congestion less,” Clasby says. “But as we grow, we continue to see congestion and bottlenecks at certain times of the day” on I-15, and trucks being able to use Legacy could reduce that.
Sierra Club seeks deal extension
Ashley Soltysiak, chapter director for the Utah Sierra Club, sees the situation differently.
The conditions on Legacy may be needed to be extended to protect wildlife and wetlands — and that is exactly why they were put in place initially.
“We would like to see no increase in heavy trucks, no widening of the highway,” she says. “Ultimately, we want a healthy ecosystem and environment. We do not want massive amounts of air pollution” from trucks.
“We have really grave concern about what lifting the moratorium would do to wetlands and wildlife habitat on the Great Salt Lake, and do plan to engage very actively with the Legislature on this.”
Soltysiak says she is optimistic protections may be extended. But, she adds, she wouldn’t rule out litigation if needed.
Truck ban or more?
For now, Weiler, the state senator, is looking at trying to extend only the truck ban — and says that will be difficult. He is not proposing to keep the speed limit low, or ban future road widening.
That’s mostly fine with Uresk, the Woods Cross city administrator, who says the speed limit is often ignored now. “If you drive Legacy Parkway and do 55 mph, you get dirty looks from people as they speed by you.”
But he says continuing a ban on widening deserves more discussion as it could make Legacy akin to I-15.
In Woods Cross, “We’ve got refineries all around us. We’ve got two sets of railroad tracks. Now we’ve got Legacy on the west side. We kind of view Legacy as an asset for the community because of the parkway status. Part of our concern is, are we just going to have another I-15 on the west side?”
Environmental groups would like to see the entire Legacy agreement extended.
“I think 55 is safer. I think it makes sense,” Borgenicht says.
“We introduced a new kind of road that has been very successful,” he says, adding that the state should look at preserving that winning formula.
New York • A Guatemalan living in the U.S. illegally who says she faced abusive working conditions as a maid at Donald Trump’s New Jersey golf club doesn’t regret speaking out, even though she might lose her job and be deported.
Victorina Morales told The Associated Press in an interview Friday that she can't go back to Guatemala because her family has received death threats, but that she had to stand up for other workers without legal documents at the club who have been ridiculed by a supervisor as "donkeys" and "dogs."
"We need to come out and defend ourselves," said 47-year-old Morales, brushing away tears. "I had enough with suffering."
Morales, who said she has not been told definitively that she's been fired, said that at least a dozen other workers at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster did not have legal documentation.
Morales and another cleaning woman at the club, Sandra Diaz, said that they used phony Social Security and permanent residency documents to get hired, their supervisors knew it and that many employees there also lack legal documents. They both said they worked at Trump's house at the club cleaning his clothes and making his bed and were angered by his remarks describing immigrants in the U.S. illegally as violent.
They said his comments may have encouraged what they describe as rampant verbal abuse at the resort.
"The president says that in the places he owns he does not hire any undocumented workers. ...It is a lie," said Diaz, 46, a native of Costa Rica who worked at the club in 2010 to 2013.
The two women’s account was first reported by The New York Times on Thursday. The Times subsequently reported that two other immigrants who worked at the club came forward Friday to say that they lived illegally in the U.S. when they hired.
The Trump Organization said in emailed statement that it has strict hiring practices and that any workers with false papers will be terminated. A spokesman for the White House did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
Morales said that a supervisor at the club helped her get phony working papers. She said another supervisor pushed her against a wall three times, told her to stop speaking Spanish and threatened her with deportation if she complained.
"Every morning I would tell myself, 'Just ignore whatever they yell at you. I need this job,'" said Morales, a mother of three in their 20s, all living in the U.S.
Diaz said she once witnessed a manager pull the hair of a worker without legal papers.
The two women are now considering a lawsuit against the Trump Organization for workplace abuse and discrimination. Morales said she is also seeking asylum.
Trump has called for a crackdown on immigrants living in the country illegally. In addition to demanding funding for a wall on the Mexican border, his administration has stepped up workplace raids and urged companies to screen workers more carefully.
He has also funded an expansion of E-Verify, a federal database that allows employers to check electronically whether people are authorized to work in the U.S.
The Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster is not on a list of employers that have registered to use E-Verify. A few other Trump properties such as Mar-a-Lago in Florida are registered.
Morales said that during Trump's presidential campaign, hours for workers at the resort whom she thought were in the country illegally were cut. She was told she couldn't clean Trump's house anymore.
After Trump was elected, Morales said a manager told her she needed new Social Security and green cards showing permanent residency, and the manager helped her procure them with help from a maintenance worker.
Morales said that she witnessed the murder of her father when she was 7. Her father-in-law was also killed back home after she crossed the border into the U.S. in 1999. She said her mother-in-law called her in the U.S. to say she couldn't come back because of death threats against the family.
For her part, Diaz said she arrived in the U.S. in 2009 and ended up staying after her visitor's visa ran out. She said she now has legal documents to work.
The women’s lawyer, Anibal Romero, has called for federal and state investigations into what he describes as a “toxic environment” that was used to intimidate the two women, “leaving them fearful for their safety and the safety of their families.”
Washington • A growing number of Republicans fear that a battery of new revelations in the far-reaching Russia investigation has dramatically heightened the legal and political danger to Donald Trump’s presidency - and threatens to consume the rest of the party as well.
President Donald Trump added to the tumult Saturday by announcing the abrupt exit of his chief of staff, John Kelly, whom he sees as lacking the political judgment and finesse to steer the White House through the treacherous months to come.
Trump remains headstrong in his belief that he can outsmart adversaries and weather any threats, according to advisers. In the Russia probe, he continues to roar denials, dubiously proclaiming that the latest allegations of wrongdoing by his former associates "totally clear" him.
But anxiety is spiking among Republican allies, who complain that Trump and the White House have no real plan for dealing with the Russia crisis while confronting a host of other troubles at home and abroad.
Facing the dawn of his third year in office and his bid for re-election, Trump is stepping into a political hailstorm. Democrats are preparing to seize control of the House in January with subpoena power to investigate corruption. Global markets are reeling from his trade war. The United States is isolated from its traditional partners. The investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference is intensifying. And court filings Friday in a separate federal case implicated Trump in a felony.
The White House is adopting what one official termed a "shrugged shoulders" strategy for the Mueller findings, calculating that most GOP base voters will believe whatever the president tells them to believe.
But some allies fret that the president's coalition could crack apart under the growing pressure. Stephen Bannon, the former Trump strategist who helped him navigate the most arduous phase of his 2016 campaign, predicted 2019 would be a year of "siege warfare" and cast the president's inner circle as naively optimistic and unsophisticated.
"The Democrats are going to weaponize the Mueller report and the president needs a team that can go to the mattresses," Bannon said. "The president can't trust the GOP to be there when it counts. . . . They don't feel any sense of duty or responsibility to stand with Trump."
This portrait of the Trump White House at a precarious juncture is based on interviews with 14 administration officials, presidential confidants and allies, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss private exchanges.
Rather than building a war room to manage the intersecting crises as past administration's have done, the Trump White House is understaffed, stuck in a bunker mentality and largely resigned to a plan to wing it. Political and communications operatives are mostly taking their cues from the president and letting him drive the message with his spontaneous broadsides.
"A war room? You serious?" one former White House official said when asked about internal preparations. "They've never had one, will never have one. They don't know how to do one."
Trump's decision to change his chief of staff, however, appears to be a recognition that he needs a strong political team in place for the remainder of his first term. The leading candidate for the job is Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff and an experienced campaign operative known for his political acumen and deep network in the party.
Throughout the 18-month special counsel investigation, Trump has single-handedly spun his own deceptive reality, seeking to sully the reputations of Mueller's operation and federal law enforcement in an attempt to preemptively discredit their eventual conclusions.
The president has been telling friends that he believes the special counsel is flailing and has found nothing meaningful. "It's all games and trying to connect dots that don't really make sense," one friend said in describing Trump's view of Mueller's progress. "Trump is angry, but he's not really worried."
But Mueller's latest court filings offer new evidence of Russian efforts to forge a political alliance with Trump before he became president and detail the extent to which his former aides are cooperating with prosecutors.
Some GOP senators were particularly shaken by last week's revelation that former national security adviser Michael Flynn had met with Mueller's team 19 separate times - a distressing signal to them that the probe may be more serious than they had been led to assume, according to senior Republican officials.
Even in the friendliest quarters, there are fresh hints of trouble. Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson, a reliable prime-time booster of the president, faulted Trump in an interview last week for failing to keep his main campaign promises, understand the legislative process and learn how to govern effectively.
For now, Republicans on Capitol Hill are still inclined to stand by Trump and give the president the benefit of the doubt. But one pro-Trump senator said privately that a breaking point would be if Mueller documents conspiracy with Russians.
"Then they've lost me," said the senator, noting that several Republican lawmakers have been willing to publicly break with Trump when they believe it is in their interests - as many did over Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's role in the brutal murder and dismemberment of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., an outspoken Trump critic and a frequent subject of his ire, said, "The president's situation is fraught with mounting peril, and that's apparent to everyone who's paying any attention, which is all of my Republican colleagues."
Another possible breaking point could come if Trump pardons his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who has elicited the president's sympathy as he sits in solitary confinement in a Virginia prison following the collapse of his plea agreement with Mueller's team, White House aides and Republican lawmakers said. Trump advisers said they understand that a pardon of Manafort could be difficult to defend and could prompt rebukes from Republican allies.
The special counsel on Friday accused Manafort of telling “multiple discernible lies” during interviews with prosecutors. Manafort was convicted of tax and bank fraud crimes and has pleaded guilty to additional charges as well, including conspiring to defraud the United States by hiding years of income and failing to disclose lobbying work for a pro-Russian political party and politician in Ukraine.
Trump's legal team, meanwhile, is bracing not only for new Mueller developments, but also for an onslaught of congressional requests. New White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his associate, Emmet Flood, are the leaders inside, although both have taken pains to stay out of the spotlight.
Cipollone has been scouring the resumes of congressional Republican staffers with experience handling investigations and trying to recruit them to the White House, officials said. Meanwhile, Flood, who advised former president Bill Clinton during his impeachment, has been prepping for months to forcefully exert executive privilege once House Democrats assume the majority.
Yet hiring remains difficult as potential staffers worry about whether they will need to hire a personal lawyer if they join and express uncertainty about the constant turmoil within the White House hierarchy, as illustrated by Kelly's announced departure Saturday.
Bannon said he and others were urging contacts in the White House to enlist David Bossie, Trump's former deputy campaign manager and a former congressional investigator who was known for his hard-edge tactics.
Trump's lead outside attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said he and his team are busy writing a defiant "counter report" to Mueller, which the president boasted this week was 87 pages long. Giuliani described the effort as a collaboration in which he, Jay Sekulow, Jane Raskin and other lawyers draft different sections and then trade them among the group, debating how to frame various passages on the president's conduct and Russian interference.
"We're writing out a lot and will pick and choose what to include. We're trying to think through every possibility," Giuliani said. "I'm sure we'll take the lead in defending [Trump] publicly, if he needs defense, like we always do."
Some of Trump's allies have been encouraging him to bolster his legal team. One confidant recalled telling the president, "You need to get you an army of lawyers who know what the hell they're doing."
So far, Trump's public relations strategy mostly has been to attack Mueller as opposed to countering the facts of his investigation. But Lanny Davis, a former Clinton lawyer, said that approach has limits.
"No matter what your client says, if you're not ready with factual messages to rebut charges, you'll fail," said Davis, who now advises former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who faces possible prison time for crimes including lying to Congress about his Russia contacts. "Even if you think the Trump strategy of attacking the messenger can continue to work, it will not work once the Mueller report is done."
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich said Clinton's experience in 1998, when the embattled president questioned the special prosecutor and warned of GOP overreach, is instructive for Trump and Republicans, showing them how to be both combative and confident amid chaos.
"You can't have that many smart lawyers, with the full power of the government, and not have something bad come out," Gingrich said of the special counsel's team. "Mueller has to find something, like Trump jaywalked 11 times. The media will go crazy for three days, screaming, 'Oh, my God! Oh, my God!'"
But, Gingrich said, "This isn't a crisis moment for Trump or the party. Remember, we thought we had Clinton on the ropes, but Clinton kept smiling and his popularity went up."
The White House is looking to its hard-right supporters on Capitol Hill to serve as its political flank, in particular House Republicans such as Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Jim Jordan of Ohio, and Devin Nunes of California, who are frequent guests on Fox News Channel. In January, Jordan and Nunes will be the top-ranking Republicans on the House Oversight Committee and the House Select Committee on Intelligence respectively, positioning them as public faces of the Trump defense and antagonists of the Justice Department's leadership.
Republicans close to incoming House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said there is an implicit understanding that Jordan and Meadows and others in their orbit will be most vocal, but many rank-and-file Republicans, looking to hold onto their seats, will attempt to avoid becoming swept up in the standoff over the probe, as they have for over a year.
"Among most House Republicans, the feeling is, 'We're ready for this to be over with. We're not nervous, but we're having Mueller fatigue,' " Meadows said.
But Democrats say they are determined not to let the investigation end prematurely. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., who sits on the intelligence committee as well as the House Judiciary Committee, said, "Our job is to protect the investigation from the president - whether it's firing Mueller, intimidating witnesses or obstructing the investigation."
Trump critics, like retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. - who has sponsored legislation that would protect Mueller but has been largely ignored by his colleagues - warned that the drumbeat of Trump loyalists in Congress, along with the president's relentless clashes with Mueller, have lulled Republicans into a dangerous place.
"It's like the party is a frog slowly boiling in water, being conditioned to not be worried, to not think too hard about what's happening around them," Flake said. "They feel at a loss about what to do because it's the president's party, without any doubt. So, there's a lot of whistling by the graveyard these days."
Giuliani dismissed Flake's criticism in much the same way he and the president have taken on Mueller - with a barbed character attack rather than a measured rebuttal.
“He’s a bitter, bitter man,” Giuliani said of Flake. “It’s sick. Nobody likes him and they would like him gone.”