Best beehive in the Behive?
Wasatch Faults—OK, Utah's not all butterflies, red balloons and bests.
If you love Mom Earth—drill ‘er
The Utah Department of Natural Resources held an Earth Day poster contest for kids. The green theme? “Where would we be without oil, gas and mining?” cosponsored by the Society of Petroleum Engineers, who pointed out that kids owe thanks to mining and drilling for things like skateboards. Stephen Colbert, who regularly mines the motherlode of comedy in Utah, pointed out the DNR Earth Day competition is the “equivalent of celebrating President’s Day by having kids dress up as John Wilkes Booth.”
Got guns? Get more.
Utah’s gun laws are so open that one of the state’s leading exports is concealed-weapon permits. Yet lawmakers reacted to December’s Sandy Hook massacre by introducing a bill to eliminate permits altogether. Another bill would have forced local cops to arrest federal G Men if they attempted to enforce stricter federal gun laws. Both were whacked but likely will be back next year.
Every year (suspiciously?) coinciding with the Legislative session, the Wasatch Front is enveloped by a evil, choking smog. It’s an atmospheric inversion, doctors say, poisonous to children, pregnant women and other intelligent life. In late-winter, Utah cities held the five top spots for worst air pollution. The filthy air has another effect—it somehow paralyzes the governor and Legislature from doing anything about it.
Keystone Cops noir
West Valley City Police Department aren’t anything like The Untouchables, but they could be cast in a very dark remake of Keystone Cops. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill tossed 100 or so drug cases due to West Valley PD’s incompetence and likely corruption. Several officers were put on leave in April.
Fortunately justice is blind
Salt Lake’s new wave of hideous buildings, most prominently the Public Safety center (conspicuous opposite the spectacular Main Library) and the new federal courthouse, went up in 2013 in an epic battle of ugly.
Refinery + fault line = ?
Fourteen died in West, Tex., after a fertilizer factory built next to the town exploded. Meanwhile, Salt Lake allows Tesoro to expand a refinery that is not only adjacent to a residential neighborhood but down the hill from the Capitol and cheek by jowl with the ticking time bomb of the Wasatch earthquake fault line.
Did Shurtleff Swallow?
Attorney General John Swallow found himself at the center of an ethics scandal—allegedly offering a pay-for-play deal to a payday loan company. Of course, Utah style, it showed every sign of blowing over. Then, the Trib’s Bob Gehrke began following the money back to Swallow’s old boss, former AG Mark Shurtleff. Stay tuned.
Laugh, cry or have a drink
Liquor laws proposed by Utah’s Legislature are always good for a laugh, unless they make you cry. This year, one proposal would have allowed restaurant owners to sample liquor before they decide to sell it in their restaurants. Could anything be more reasonable? The catch is, they would be able to taste, yes, but not swallow. Another proposal would have made it illegal to drink standing up. Not. Kidding.
Salt Lake urban planning
Circa 2002: Gateway mall opens amid predictions that it will “kill downtown.” Circa 2010: Downtown is dead. Circa 2012: City Creek mall opens downtown amid predictions that it will “kill Gateway.” Circa 2013: Gateway is dead.
Fade to black
A year after KSL adopts a values-based news strategy that includes content that “seeks to lift, inspire and help others,” it gets blown out of the water in its ratings war with KUTV. Church media strongman Mark Wiles gets canned—er, retires—for his goody two shoes business plan.
Gone in 60 seconds
Shortly after successfully lobbying the pants off lawmakers, gun-rights advocate Clark Aposhian had his 5.56x45mm assault rifle, complete with its thermal imaging scope, snatched out of his truck by the proverbial bad guys. It’s still out there. Somewhere.