by Duane Cardall
The Computer Investment
December 18, 2002
Computers have dramatically impacted how today’s students spend their time in school. But, is the enormous investment taxpayers have been making to get schools wired resulting in better-educated students?
Because of the amount of money being spent, KSL believes finding definitive answers to that and related questions must be given priority status.
A recent series of news stories reported jointly by Channel Five and the Deseret News highlight some legitimate concerns.
For example, listen to this comment by 6th grader Jordan Ostmark:
"I know how to use the computer better than my teacher."
The young student’s comment begs the question, is enough attention being given to training teachers to use the costly and complicated new tools they’ve been given?
In days past, a chalkboard was only as helpful as the teacher who used it. And it could hardly be used without chalk.
In many ways, today’s chalk is computer software. Unfortunately there are indications effective software products are lagging behind the hardware capacity now available in most schools.
As schools continue the transition to the age of technology, KSL believes as much attention needs to be directed toward effectively using the expensive new tools as seems to be given to efforts to acquire them.
The Initiative Process
December 16, 2002
Utah citizens beware!
Some of your lawmakers are tinkering excessively with your constitutional right to directly enact laws through the citizens’ initiative process.
Now, don’t get us wrong. KSL isn’t a fan of the initiative process. Generally, it isn’t an effective way to make law. And it is a process that can be abused by well-heeled individuals and special interest groups. Still, it is a constitutional right! It offers a needed form of citizen redress when the legislature, for whatever reason, fails to address public concerns.
The latest assault on this constitutional right comes from the legislature’s Government Operations Interim Committee. At a meeting in November, committee members approved a number of measures that would make it more difficult for citizens’ initiatives to get on the ballot.
They range from modifying the number of signatures required to get an initiative approved, to requiring a series of unnecessary public hearings, to making criminals out of unregistered voters who sign petitions or citizens who sign a petition more than once.
The only redeeming change offered would require public disclosure on petitions if signature gatherers are paid for their efforts.
Because the Utah Supreme Court last summer struck down portions of the state’s initiative process, certain changes obviously need to be made. But the proposal coming out of the Government Operations Interim Committee is not the way to go.
Another Viewpoint: Healthcare
December 13, 2002
KSL’s recent editorial encouraging physicians to "re-enthrone basic humanitarian principles like empathy and compassion and understanding" into modern healthcare, prompted an outpouring of responses.
A common theme of the replies: blame insurance companies and HMO’s, not doctors for a system that seems preoccupied with "the bottom line."
From Brock L. Place, a healthcare administrator, came this:
"The fact of the matter is that healthcare providers are held ‘hostage’ by third party payers who are intent on preserving their profitability at the expense of healthcare providers."
A physician, Dr. Douglas C. Bankhead, wrote:
"Asking you ‘What kind of insurance do you have?’ is not an attempt to restrict your access to medical care or a demonstration of the lack of ‘empathy and compassion and understanding,’ but rather protects you from the unnecessary burden of having to pay out-of-pocket for medical services."
Karlene Ator, a doctor’s wife, reminded us of the long hours physicians work and the debt many incur during years of education:
"Do you know of any other profession where the person providing a service is told by someone who isn’t even trained in the profession what they can charge or what services and treatments they can provide?
KSL thanks these folks and the many others who responded on this hot-button issue. And we remind you that a more complete text of the replies can be found here.
A Case For Political Diversity
December 11, 2002
Residents of Davis County are hopping mad, as they should be.
In times like these, any hefty tax increase, let alone the 138 percent hike County Commissioners initially proposed is incredulous.
Yet, Davis County residents should be pointing some of their accusatory fingers in their own direction as well as at the three republican County Commissioners, two of who ran virtually unopposed for re-election in November.
Some residents complain they should have been told about a potential tax hike before the election. It’s a legitimate complaint.
But honestly, why would incumbent politicians raise such an explosive issue on their own?
Granted, the news media bears some of the blame for not performing its watchdog role. Some aggressive reporting could have exposed what was happening.
The bigger problem, though, is lack of political diversity in Davis County. Had there been some competition from candidates from other political parties, other than a lone Libertarian, the taxation issue likely would have surfaced. Voters, then, would have been more knowledgeable when they cast their ballots.
KSL firmly believes the political process in a free society is best served when divergent voices are heard, and conflicting views are openly debated and given serious consideration.
It didn’t happen in politically homogenous Davis County during the last election and residents there will be paying for the absence of election-time dialogue.
Paying For Water
December 9, 2002
The time has come for a fundamental shift in the way Utahns pay for the water they use.
As it now stands, most Utahns probably have no idea how much their water actually costs. They pay a regular bill to a local water company not realizing the relatively low amount charged is generously subsidized through some of the other taxes they pay.
In reality, water costs Utahns a lot more than they realize.
But a timely movement is afoot in Utah to have consumers pay more directly the actual cost of the water they use. The idea is to get away from using sales and property taxes to finance water projects.
It is an idea that makes sense, especially in our semi-arid climate where water is a most precious commodity.
Think about it. Low rates actually encourage use and in many instances, waste. On the other hand, what better way to "slow the flow" than to charge more by bringing water rates more in line with actual costs!
People will use as much or as little as they’re willing to pay for.
KSL agrees with those who argue that sales and property taxes are an inequitable way to pay for water development and delivery. While the abandonment of a system that has been in place for generations is wrought with controversy, we believe the shift from tax subsidies to user fees should be pursued.
December 6, 2002
Utah college students and their parents need to come to grips with an unfortunate fact of life: tuition, of necessity, is going up.
The Utah Board of Regents recently approved a 4.5% system-wide tuition hike. Before long, they’re also expected to authorize the various schools to tack on their own increases. Overall, next year’s tuition for Utah college students on average will likely be almost ten percent higher than this year. And that’s on top of this year’s 9.5% average increase statewide.
The Regents have little choice. With state revenues declining and the institutions struggling to accommodate growth, tuition increases are unavoidable, if programs are to be maintained.
If it’s any consolation - and it should be - higher education in Utah is still a relative bargain. Tuition for Beehive State schools is significantly below the national average. The gap, though, is gradually closing.
So, what does this mean for prospective students and their parents? In a word, prepare! Begin while children are young to save for their college education. Take advantage of special savings plans with their tax incentives. Don’t put it off.
And above all, don’t become discouraged. Surveys reveal college graduates can expect to make on average $1 million more during their working years than those who earn only a high school diploma.
So, despite the frustration of regular tuition hikes, a college education is worth the cost.
Never Ending Need
December 4, 2002
For the past few weeks, we’ve been hearing a lot about the need to donate food in order to restock depleted shelves at local food pantries and community dining rooms. In fact, the same message is sent out several times each year by the Utah Food Bank.
KSL encourages Utahns to respond favorably to the message every time it is issued because the need, indeed, is never ending!
Those who receive help from the Utah Food Bank, generally, are the working poor. Most often, they are families with meager incomes who struggle to put food on the table after paying the mortgage or rent and other requisite bills. A temporary supply of donated food often means the difference between children receiving life sustaining nourishment, or going hungry.
Hunger, especially among children in our affluent communities, should never be allowed.
Fortunately, and due largely to visionary leadership provided decades ago by foresighted local humanitarians, our communities have an effective system for collecting and distributing donated food.
Yes, the Utah Food Bank is once again asking for donations. And in months and years to come, they’ll do it again and again. The message may seem redundant, but as we said, the need is never ending.
Coach Mac Deserved Better
December 2, 2002
Coach Ron McBride deserved better!
His unceremonious firing belies the enormous contributions he made to University of Utah football and to the extended statewide community.
Think of what he accomplished!
Foremost, he restored honor and integrity to a program plagued by a succession of marginal programs under less successful coaches. And he did it with players who revered him.
His teams, for the most part, were winners – ten winning seasons in 13 years. Among all Utah coaches, his record is second best.
He brought the Utes national prominence. Remember the 8th place final national ranking in 1994? Before Coach Mac, the Utes had played in a total of three post-season bowls. McBride’s teams went bowling six times and won three of them.
He energized the love-hate rivalry with BYU. Before McBride the Utes could only muster two wins in two decades. He leveled the playing field between Salt Lake City and Provo and made the rivalry fun.
What he didn’t do consistently was sell tickets. But, was that his fault? To think a change in coaches will summarily fill the stands with rabid fans is an illusion.
A more likely scenario in future years will be a longing for the "good ‘ole days" when the lovable Ronnie Mac came along for a time to rejuvenate Utah football.
Yes, Coach McBride deserved better!
The Holiday Season
November 29, 2002
This day after Thanksgiving, traditionally, is the beginning of the Christmas holiday season.
So, why have stores had their holiday decorations up for weeks? Why have Christmas ads been hitting the airwaves? Why isn’t Santa Claus still at the North Pole?
Forgive our "bah humbug" attitude, but aren’t things getting a bit out of hand?
Sure, merchants generally do well at Christmas. So, they reason, why not add a few days, even weeks to the shopping season and do even better. Their desire to make an extra buck or two, of course, is fueled by the willingness of consumers to spend.
Society is getting to the point Thanksgiving is but an adjunct of Christmas. Even Halloween is hearing the jingle of cash register bells as goblins and ghosts mix with reindeer and elves. Next thing you know, the Easter Bunny will be sprouting antlers and a glowing red nose. And people will be dreaming of a white Fourth of July.
Perhaps all of this would be fine if peace and goodwill were an integral part of the equation. But in the hustle and bustle of every day encounters, the message of the Prince of Peace is becoming increasingly obscured by the crass commercialization of the sacred holiday designated to commemorate His birth.
Somehow, as the next few weeks speed by, KSL hopes our viewers and listeners will take time to look beyond what the holiday season has become and focus with genuine admiration on why it began.
Feelings Of Gratitude
November 27, 2002
As we approach tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday, a day of feasting as much as a day of giving thanks, consider some sobering statistics.
More than 840 million people in this world are suffering from hunger. For most of them, the problem is chronic and persistent. It is estimated that some 24,000 people die every day from hunger or hunger-related causes. Extreme poverty, not famine or war, is the primary reason suffering families cannot get enough to eat. Mostly this suffering is experienced in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
We call this to your attention not to generate feelings of guilt, but to enhance appreciation for the miracle of the American system where abundance is the rule rather than the exception. Even in the midst of war and with a struggling economy, life for most Americans proceeds routinely with uncanny calm. Food and shelter, generally, are plentiful. There is water to drink, clothing to wear and work to do. If anything the focus of American consumption is on luxuries, even extravagances, rather than life’s basic necessities.
So, enjoy tomorrow’s feast. Find satisfaction with family and friends in sitting around tables laden with food. In doing so, though, KSL urges you to pause briefly and consider what’s before you and how easily acquired most of it is.
And let feelings of gratitude fill your soul as you genuinely offer thanks for all that you have.
The Main Street Plaza
November 25, 2002
The battle over the Main Street Plaza is regrettable and needlessly divisive. It could be resolved quickly if Salt Lake City would simply cede its easement through the property to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Salt Lake City is fortunate to have a downtown anchor as stable, generous and committed to the area as the Church of Jesus Christ.
Consider, too, the popularity of Temple Square with visitors. The recent addition of a beautiful Plaza adjacent to the Square only enhances the peace and tranquility of a world-renowned attraction that brings more tourists to Utah than any other single facility.
It is what a broad coalition of community leaders envisioned more than 40-years ago when they developed a master plan for making Salt Lake City the top tourist destination in the Intermountain Region.
Let it be remembered the 1961 plan called for the city to give Main Street to the Church, not require the Church to buy it. As part of the ambitious plan, the Church, among other things, generously made available nine-acres of land on which to build the Salt Palace Convention Center and Symphony Hall.
The cost to taxpayers to this day - $1 per year!
If current community leaders could somehow recapture the cooperative vision of their counterparts from four-decades ago, this unfortunate matter could be resolved expeditiously for the good of all.
November 22, 2002
In West Wendover, Nevada and Wendover, Utah, the people have spoken. They made it clear on Election Day they favor combining their bordering communities.
Hopefully, key politicians are hearing the message!
The merger will require strong political support. Not since the Civil War has a state boundary in this country been changed. Moving some 10,000 acres of Tooele County, Utah into Elko County, Nevada won’t be easy.
But, it makes sense!
The adjoining towns are isolated. They should be one! No need for separate police, fire and other public services! And, it is nuts to have separate school systems, especially when one side of the arbitrary border flourishes and the other struggles to make ends meet.
KSL calls on Nevada Senators Harry Reid and John Ensign to drop their opposition to the merger and go along with enabling legislation now before Congress. And we urge members of Utah’s congressional delegation to aggressively shepherd the measure through the required process.
Then, both state legislatures and governors should move expeditiously to deal with the particulars of the border change and annexation.
Clearly, making Wendover one has the grass roots support of those citizens most directly affected by the change. Their voice should speak significantly louder than the selfish special interest groups that oppose it.
A Health Care Remedy
November 20, 2002
So you call up the doctor’s office for an appointment.
You’re ill or injured and in need of help. You likely hurt. And what’s the first thing out of the mouth of the person answering the phone? "What kind of insurance do you have?" "Who do we bill?"
Never mind you’re distraught with pain and worry. Forget about any need for urgency. By golly, you better be prepared to talk money and fill out the requisite forms before you can get in the door to get the help you need. In modern health care, the spreadsheet’s bottom line is given priority status!
And that, in KSL’s view, is one of the most unfortunate failures of America’s current health care system. Yet, we believe it could also be one of the easiest shortcomings to fix.
Yes, the system is in crisis. Costs are spiraling out of control. Prescription drugs are beyond the reach of many who need them. The ranks of the uninsured keep rising. The list goes on.
Solutions for such problems are complex and elusive.
But, when it comes to the most elementary aspect of health care, the doctor-patient relationship, no act of congress is needed. Physicians and their office personnel merely need to re-enthrone basic humanitarian principles like empathy and compassion and understanding.
KSL believes those physicians who’ve strayed from the altruistic roots of their noble profession must somehow return to the concept that the patient, not the bottom line, should be number one!
Follow Up Initiative One
November 18, 2002
The defeat of Initiative One on Election Day must not be interpreted as a green light for the dumping of more and hotter radioactive waste in Utah
The Radioactive Waste Restrictions Act was too complex to be decided at the ballot box. That’s mainly why KSL opposed it. It is largely why wise Utah voters overwhelmingly rejected the measure.
Still, Initiative One set forth a number of worthy objectives that ought to be pursued with vigor.
Foremost, Utah should not allow "hotter" radioactive waste than is currently accepted to be stored in Utah. Future attempts by Envirocare or any other entity to seek approval for so-called Class B and C waste should be rejected.
Secondly, taxes imposed on low-level Class A radioactive waste coming to Utah for disposal ought to be on the high side of industry standards. Lawmakers should move ahead expeditiously to evaluate current taxation levels and make adjustments without delay.
Finally, lawmakers need to enact reforms that would prevent employees of state regulatory agencies from accepting jobs for a reasonable period of time within industries they regulate. Such action would reduce the potential for impropriety.
It is time for lawmakers to do what they should have done before their inaction spawned the well-intentioned citizens initiative: they should vigorously address the key issues raised by Initiative One.
The Jordan River
November 15, 2002
The Jordan River is one of Northern Utah’s most important natural assets. The unique 44-mile waterway demands respectful attention and should not be neglected nor ignored.
That’s why it was encouraging to see a couple of dozen private and government organizations recently sign off on a renewed effort to promote and preserve the distinctive stream. The organizations have formed what they are calling the Jordan River Natural Areas Forum.
It doesn’t require much imagination or scientific knowledge to know that in prehistoric times the Jordan River must have been a haven for wildlife, and a veritable oasis of natural abundance. Early pioneer accounts refer to a clear, meandering stream filled with four-pound trout.
Then came civilization and generations of neglect and abuse. Even today portions of the river are so polluted fish cannot survive.
It must not continue!
KSL heartily supports the main goal of the Jordan River Natural Areas Forum: "to promote awareness, acquisition, management and restoration of natural areas along the Jordan River balanced with the human uses of the river corridor."
While its primitive grandeur may never be recovered, the Jordan River still can be a lifeline of riparian and avian abundance, as well as an impressive recreational resource for future generations of urbanites.
November 13, 2002
After more than a year of study, nursing experts in Utah have offered a possible blueprint for keeping a severe nursing shortage in the Beehive State from becoming a life-threatening healthcare crisis.
Their suggestions warrant the serious attention of lawmakers and leaders in higher education!
The Nursing Leadership Forum says an annual infusion of $6 million would allow the six state-funded nursing education programs to expand. More nurses could be trained.
As it now stands, Utah’s nursing shortage in terms of nurses per thousand people reportedly is third worst in the country.
That should alarm every Utahn, especially in the wake of a new national study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study concluded some 20,000 people nationally die each year because they check into a hospital with overworked nurses.
Fortunately, Utah has plenty of young people who desire to become nurses. Sadly, hundreds of them are turned away each year because the nursing programs are full.
With additional funding, faculty can be hired and programs expanded to meet the demand. KSL believes the prospects of such a long-term solution to a pending crisis must be given the highest priority.
November 11, 2002
Once again on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, our nation celebrates Veterans Day.
It is good to recognize the sacrifices made by the 26.4 million living veterans of America’s wars. Those who have served and fought to protect freedom deserve our appreciation and admiration.
While acknowledging the veterans of past conflicts, though, we can’t help thinking this day of those now serving in the world’s hot spots. And in view of the ongoing war on terrorism, Americans are appropriately uneasy over prospects that within months, if not weeks, more young soldiers may find themselves in the heat of battle.
Indeed, the ranks of the nation’s veterans are likely to swell.
In the proclamation declaring the nation’s first Veterans Day – then it was called Armistice Day – Congress said the day should be "commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations."
On this Veterans Day in 2002, KSL believes thanksgiving is still in order for this land that stands as a beacon for freedom. And as much as ever, prayers and other exercises to perpetuate peace should be central to the day’s commemorations. Especially, though, let prayerful pleas be offered for those who are preparing for battle and will likely become the veterans of tomorrow.
November 8, 2002
Look around Salt Lake City’s downtown area. Is there anything that adequately tells the story of the initial days and months of the city’s founding?
Oh, there’s a log cabin nestled between two modern buildings across from Temple Square. There’s a plaque or two near historic locations. There’s Brother Brigham overlooking the city he founded. But, what outdoor display or venue tells the tale of 1847, and the subsequent winter of depravation and near starvation?
Fortunately, a large portion of the area where the pioneers made their initial settlement is still preserved as open space.
In recent years much attention has turned to Pioneer Park. A perfect spot for an aquarium, said one special interest group. A great location for the city’s Olympic legacy amphitheater, said another.
Wisely, these and other similar ideas have been rejected in favor of preserving an important piece of historic real estate.
KSL, though, sees a potential use for Pioneer Park.
As the site of the area’s first settlement, why not erect a modest replica of the original fort, with a few simple cabins. Nothing elaborate. No need for lots of on-site care and docent attention; just a few wooden structures, appropriately landscaped and decorated with self-guided interpretive markers.
Such a simple display on part of the ten-acre block would preserve the integrity of Pioneer Park, attract interested visitors to that part of the city and offer a modest, yet meaningful explanation of Salt Lake City’s first days.
November 6, 2002
Can a wrecking ball and a $20 million investment bring tranquility to Harvey Street?
West Valley City officials say yes. Their multi-million dollar redevelopment effort is worth watching.
Something dramatic had to happen to Harvey Street.
As one city official said earlier this year, a 20-year struggle to make Harvey Street a decent place to live "has been a bottomless effort." Despite almost constant police patrols, violent crime flourished! Homicide, prostitution, drugs! Name the crime - it probably happened on Harvey Street. Absentee landlords lost control of their properties.
Sometimes such severe problems demand drastic solutions.
That’s why Harvey Street is being demolished, literally. In the place of dilapidated apartments and rundown homes will come a new 88-unit affordable housing development and a 79-unit senior citizens complex.
Within a year a new and hopefully safer Harvey Street will rise from the rubble.
But, it should be remembered, the neglected buildings of Harvey Street may have aggravated the problem, but they didn’t cause it. People, not structures, are the ones that defied the law.
The real test of the new Harvey Street will be with the people who’ll reside there and their commitment to being law-abiding citizens. City officials are banking on finding those kinds of residents.
As we said, it is a crime-fighting and redevelopment experiment that is worth watching.
November 4, 2002
That, in a word, is what KSL encourages all registered voters in Utah to do tomorrow.
In the absence of any major national or statewide races, some might complain this year’s election lacks some of the pizzazz of other years. And it is shameful that 24 candidates for the State legislature are running unopposed.
Still, there is enough happening throughout the State to warrant citizen interest and voter involvement. Those races that are closest to them should especially energize voters. School boards are a prime example. No one has more direct impact on neighborhood classrooms than those elected to serve on local school boards.
Besides, one vote – your vote – really does count.
In the last off-year election, in 1998, at least four races in Utah communities were decided by a margin of less than one vote per precinct. Just one more person going to the polls and casting a ballot could have changed the outcome of a county council seat in Grand County, a county commissioner race in Wasatch County, a controversial zoning ordinance in Manti and a tax proposal in Elk Meadows.
If you’re wavering about voting, resurrect some of the patriotic feelings you’ve had in the year since 9-11. Let those emotions drive you to do something tangible to express your love for America and your appreciation for freedom.
Go to the polls and vote!
Amending The Constitution
November 1, 2002
At the polls November 5, Utah voters will be asked to approve six proposed amendments to the Utah State Constitution.
KSL encourages a yes vote on all six amendments!
Amending the State’s constitution is a serious matter. And though it has been done dozens of times since statehood, the process isn’t easy. It shouldn’t be. Before a proposed amendment is placed on the ballot it must receive the support of two-thirds of the legislature. Then the people, with their vote, have a say.
Utah has the added benefit of a Constitutional Revision Commission, comprised of citizens, elected officials and notable public servants, who carefully and thoughtfully evaluate possible changes to the constitution.
This year, especially, the commission deserves commendation for the work it did on the proposal known as Constitutional Amendment Number 3. It represents three years of effort to clarify, simplify and modernize the revenue and taxation provisions of the Utah Constitution. With passage of Amendment 3, the substance of the provisions won’t change, but they will be much more readable and understandable. For any government operation, that has to be considered a major plus.
Because such care is taken in drafting the proposed amendments, and in the absence of widespread or organized opposition to any of them, KSL feels comfortable in encouraging approval of all six amendments at the polls next Tuesday.
Salt Lake County's Propositions
October 30, 2002
Voters in Salt Lake County will be asked on Tuesday to decide the fate of two bonding propositions. KSL believes both measures ought to be approved.
Proposition One would allow the County to restructure its bonded indebtedness, much like a home owner would refinance to take advantage of lower interest rates. It is a good idea and ought to get a yes vote.
Proposition Two would give The Children’s Museum of Utah an enormous financial boost. A yes vote would authorize the County to purchase the building at the Gateway where the museum is planning to set up shop. The County would bond for the $15 million price tag and make the building available to the museum.
But, it would only do so, if – and this is the most important point – if the Children’s Museum comes up with $7.5 million in private donations to establish and run the proposed programs. Wisely, the County won’t spend a dime unless the museum comes up with money to match.
KSL believes an expanded Children’s Museum at the Gateway has the potential to become a world-class facility. It could set the standard for similar institutions in other communities. The benefits that would result to Utah’s children through such a dynamic public-private partnership would be worth taxpayer involvement.
Vote yes on County Proposition Number 1.
Vote yes on County Proposition Number 2.
KSL believes both measures warrant the support of voters in Salt Lake County.
Vote No On Initiative One!
October 28, 2002
Initiative One, the Radioactive Waste Restrictions Act, ought to be defeated at the polls next Tuesday. KSL takes that position even though we agree with some of the initiative’s main objectives.
The initiative seeks to prevent higher levels of radioactive waste from being dumped in Utah. KSL heartily agrees. Any waste shipped here should be limited to so-called Class A waste, the lowest level.
The initiative would reform regulatory oversight of radioactive waste in Utah. KSL agrees such reforms are long overdue and should be enacted.
The initiative directs that taxes from radioactive waste go toward education, the homeless and other notable needs. This is where the initiative’s goal’s become cloudy and it is why KSL cannot support it.
First, it essentially targets a single business, Envirocare, for the tax. Despite KSL’s misgivings about the Envirocare operation, we feel it is blatantly wrong to single the firm out for such a hefty tax.
Second, the initiative’s proponents claim the tax would raise more than $100 million for the intended causes. KSL believes that figure is inflated and would never be realized.
Our third objection deals with the complexity of the issue. Should citizens in the voting booth be deciding the fate of a 53-page legislative act few of them have read and even fewer understand?
Although KSL, generally, is sympathetic to some of the initiative’s main objectives, we say vote no on Initiative One.
The Zoo And The Park
October 25, 2002
An idea is in the works that makes sense.
Hogle Zoo wants to expand. This is the Place Heritage Park, located across Sunnyside Avenue from the zoo at the mouth of Emigration Canyon, has a lot of acreage not currently in use.
There is serious talk of the zoo acquiring some of that land. Indeed, it seems like a great idea!
Instead of moving the entire zoo operation lock, stock and elephant pen to another location, as some are proposing, it could stay where it has been since 1931. It could continue to capitalize on the tradition of its long-time home. Besides, the cost of staying put and remodeling would likely be considerably less than relocating across the valley or into another county.
Consider, too, the possibilities of a synergistic relationship with This is the Place Heritage Park. The park is steadily growing in popularity. As years pass, it will become a "must-see" attraction for tourists and a popular place of respite for locals. Surely, the zoo and the park would complement each other.
Then there is the opportunity of developing some unique and innovative shared attractions such as exhibits of animals that inhabited the area during pioneer times.
As always, "the devil is in the details." Still, the very real prospect of some sort of cooperative venture between the zoo and the park reinforces KSL's long held view that the existing site is still the best location for the zoo.
Ambulance Service In Salt Lake County
October 23, 2002
In the event of an emergency, the citizens of Salt Lake County deserve to have the best possible ambulance service available to them.
Some County officials, led by Mayor Nancy Workman, say the County ought to provide the service. They contend it is a core responsibility of government. Besides, Workman claims the County could make money at it - a million dollars a year. That, says the Mayor, would bring much needed cash into County coffers and would "stave off" possibilities of a property tax increase.
"Wait a minute," says Gold Cross, the private enterprise that currently provides ambulance service throughout much of the County, "we've been down this road before."
They remind people that back in the early 1980s, the County kept losing money and couldn't wait to get private industry to take on the task. Besides, says Gold Cross, if it isn't broken, it doesn't need to be fixed!
It is a compelling argument.
But, so, too, is the argument emanating from Mayor Workman's office. A corps of highly trained emergency personnel staffs the County's fire stations. They respond to 9-1-1 calls, often arriving first, but then can't transport patients to hospitals because they're not in the ambulance business.
The bottom line on this one - a lot more study and evaluation is needed before a final decision is made.
When lives are on the line, the citizens of Salt Lake County deserve to know their emergency services are, indeed, the very best.
Is The Message Getting Through?
October 21, 2002
Is the message getting through?
Sexual abuse of children perpetrated under the cloak of religion within polygamist communities or elsewhere is intolerable and deserving of prosecution and punishment.
Polygamist David Ortell Kingston is in prison after being convicted in 1999 of having sex with his 16-year-old niece. She was identified as his 15th wife.
Polygamist Tom Green is serving time for marrying and impregnating a 13-year-old girl.
Now, comes the case of a Southern Utah police officer from the twin polygamist towns of Colorado City and Hilldale. Rodney Holm is charged with bigamy and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. Court records reveal Holm was 32 when he took Ruth Stubbs as his third wife. She was just 16.
In Utah, bigamy is illegal. And it is against the law for a person to have sex with a 16- or 17-year old, if that person is 10 or more years older than the minor.
This law and others are on the books for good reason. The main intent is to protect malleable young people from physical and sexual abuse. The prosecution of these cases is not religious persecution, as defense attorneys have charged, but a matter of upholding reasonable and meaningful laws.
It is about time those who think they can, with impunity, ignore such laws to start getting the message.
October 18, 2002
We’ve received replies to several recent KSL editorials we’d like to share with you.
Our editorial reaffirming KSL’s support for the Legacy Parkway brought agreement from Will McGregor of Bountiful. However, he took us to task for saying, "now is not the time for the blame game."
"Such an outrageous waste of taxpayer money requires that someone bear some blame. This is more than a small mistake . . . You need to have the courage and integrity to say that the Governor bears responsibility."
In another editorial, KSL said a burgeoning public school population "means taking a serious look at the State’s budget priorities." From John E. Barnhill of Salt Lake City came this response:
"Unfortunately, your editorial ignores the problem . . .
Why doesn’t KSL advocate a responsible approach towards helping people determine family sizes that are appropriate for their economic situation and for our educational system? It’s called family planning."
In yet another editorial, KSL called on the Republican Party in Utah to "abandon the incongruity of a closed primary" election. From Lynn Price, a former Salt Lake County Party Chair, came this response:
"I, too, am concerned about more and more people being shut out of the political process. However, without a closed primary, even more are going to be shut out of the political process."
You can read Price’s argument for a closed primary, along with a more complete text of the other editorials here.
October 16, 2002
For their water conservation efforts, KSL believes Utahns deserve a collective pat-on-the-back. They proved this year they can get by with less water.
Think of it. The drought persisted. A poor spring runoff left reservoirs unfilled. The summer was long and hot and dry. Yet, Utahns responded magnificently to pleas for conservation and cut their water usage by 11-percent or 9 billion gallons.
To put it in perspective, the experts tell us 9 billion gallons would be enough water to meet the needs of the city of St. George for over ten months.
That, in a word, is commendable!
And it has taught all of us that we can get by with less. Aside from agriculture, few suffered unduly. Lawns, for the most part, remained green. Gardens grew. Cars got washed. Indoor uses were met. With only a minor blip here and there, life proceeded as usual.
It’s an important lesson. The state is about to enter a period of dramatic population growth. The demand for water will increase significantly in coming decades. Yet, in this semi-arid climate, the precious resource will remain limited to what Mother Nature graciously provides.
In short, using water wisely and getting by with less somehow needs to become the mindset. KSL calls on Utahns to let the conservation experience of 2002 become a foundation for adopting and maintaining wise water use habits in the future.
Get The Message
October 14, 2002
You’d think Hollywood would get the message.
Based on the success of companies that offer sanitized versions of popular movies, you’d think moviemakers would see another opportunity to turn a buck and do it themselves.
But, no! Hollywood has chosen to fight. Directors say they put all of that profanity, nudity and gore in their flicks for good reason, and they don’t want anyone messing with it.
Never mind those high-minded moviemakers already provide edited versions of their films for the airlines, television and overseas consumption. It defies reason for them not to do the same thing for an audience that obviously exists among those who rent and buy for home consumption.
So, it’s off to court for a battle that will make a lot of attorneys rich along a likely path to the Supreme Court.
Because a few enterprising entrepreneurs are cutting crud so families can view top-notch movies without worrying about what they’ll see and hear, the movie moguls say their artistic rights are being violated. They may very well be right. Clipping and snipping for profit raises legitimate First Amendment issues along with serious concerns about censorship.
But, the issue would be moot if Hollywood would simply swallow its collective pride and make available for rental and home sale, edited down versions of their movies. The demand exists, and there is money to be made.
Yes, you’d think they’d get the message.
October 11, 2002
It was good to see two men with strong Utah ties recently recognized for the enormous impact each of them has had on our world. We speak of Philo T. Farnsworth and Dr. Willem Kolff.
Farnsworth, of course, was the man who invented television.
For many years, though, his role in TV’s beginnings went unrecognized. Others got the credit. He died in relative obscurity in 1971 in Salt Lake County.
At the Emmy Awards, a few weeks ago, the television industry finally stood up and identified Farnsworth as the "Father of Television." It was a proud moment for his wife, Pem, who took his bow and received his applause. She, after all, played a role too, as the first women ever to appear on a television screen.
Then there is Dr. Kolff. Some call him "the father of artificial internal organs."
The other day in New York he received the Lasker Award, America’s version of the Nobel Prize. His invention of a kidney dialysis machine literally changed kidney disease from a fatal to a treatable illness.
During his 30-years at the University of Utah, Dr. Kolff also played a significant role in research on artificial hearts, eyes and ears.
Farnsworth’s recognition came more than 30 years after his death; Kolff’s honor at the age of 91, after a lifetime of creative biomedical tinkering.
In KSL’s view, the honors were well deserved . . . and long over due.
Employers' Education Coalition
October 9, 2002
Identifying a problem, most often, is easier than solving it.
So far, it appears the coalition of business leaders Governor Leavitt called together last June to do an independent, critical evaluation of the State’s educational system has, indeed, identified the problem, and it isn’t pretty.
KSL appreciates the coalition’s first conclusion: teachers are not the problem. In fact, considering what they’re given to work with, teachers, generally, are heroes.
Still, the coalition, led by Fraser Bullock, has concluded Utah students, generally, are not adequately trained in basic academic skills and are not prepared to enter the workforce. In short, the State is paying a hefty price for a low investment in education.
With current growth projections, along with national and local requirements to achieve certain standards, the problem will only get worse unless the State alters its priorities and begins directing more resources toward meeting the educational needs of her children.
That is the essence of the coalition’s findings.
Now comes the challenge for the coalition members of developing, as charged, "strategic recommendations to ensure a quality education system."
KSL, along with all Utahns concerned about children will be anxiously awaiting the coalition’s report due by year’s end. It has the potential to be a milestone in the history of Utah education.
Public Enemy Number One
October 7, 2002
Give credit to the Salt Lake Metro Gang Task Force for launching a crime-fighting program that is proving to be remarkably successful.
They call it Public Enemy Number One.
The idea is so simple, it’s a wonder no one in Utah implemented it sooner. Each week authorities publicize the name, photograph and background of someone they say poses a significant local public safety threat. They’re considered Utah’s most dangerous gangsters:
"The public, the people that live in these communities, they’re the eyes and ears for us." (Sgt. Bill Robertson, Metro Gang Taskforce)
So far, the community’s "eyes and ears" have been well tuned. Since the program’s launch in mid-August, a half-dozen of those featured as a Public Enemy Number One have been captured and are back behind bars. Thousands more, though, are out there. As one investigator put it, "with 3700 documented gang members in the Salt Lake area, the well won’t run dry on this program for a long time."
KSL commends the leadership of the Metro Gang Task Force for giving the traditional "most wanted" concept a new twist. Along with involving the community in a significant crime-fighting effort, it serves as a timely reminder that the area still has an insidiously dangerous and volatile gang problem.
A Resounding Success
October 4, 2002
Think of it!
A surplus for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee approaching a hundred million dollars! That, in a word, is phenomenal. Why not add a few more superlatives. Commendable! Laudable! Praiseworthy!
Instead of Utah taxpayers holding the bag, as many worried when the scandal erupted a few years ago, they are reaping the rewards of one of the most successful Winter Olympics ever.
Kudos to Mitt Romney, Fraser Bullock and the entire SLOC team for pulling off something many thought virtually impossible. To break even would have been a major accomplishment. To have millions left over for building legacies and endowing ongoing operation of valued facilities warrants the profound gratitude of all Utahns and future generations of potential Olympians.
Along with the money came even more recognition recently with the awarding of seven Emmy Awards for NBC’s outstanding television coverage of the Games. One or two awards would have been nice, but to win in almost every category entered underscores the excellence of the ceremonies viewed by a worldwide audience.
State and local business interests still have the challenge of capitalizing on the residual impact of what took place here last February. That, of course, is a work in progress.
Based on these latest developments, though, the Salt Lake Games truly were a resounding success!
Domestic Violence Awareness
October 2, 2002
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
We call it to your attention because KSL is concerned about the ongoing problem of domestic violence in our communities. And we raise the issue because KSL believes awareness is, indeed, a key to combating such an insidious problem.
It would be wonderful if a magic wand could wave and summarily put an end to domestic violence. The reality, though, is stunningly alarming. Nearly half of all women murdered in our state meet death at the hands of an intimate partner. Far too many more innocent victims suffer all sorts of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of supposed loved ones.
Regrettably, there is no simple solution.
Giving more teeth to protective order laws would help. For example, mechanisms should be implemented to keep violent perpetrators who ignore protective orders behind bars.
Foremost, though, Utahns need to be aware of the many community resources available to deal with domestic violence situations. Twenty-three domestic violence coalitions have been set up across the state. Safe places are available. Counseling can be provided. Victim advocates are there to help.
A person can call the Domestic Violence Link Line to get in touch with expert help. The number is 1-800-897-5465.
Indeed, help is out there. It is readily available. Of that, KSL hopes all Utahns will become aware.
Legacy Is Needed
September 30, 2002
In the two weeks since the 10th Circuit Court ruling on the Legacy Parkway came down, the ultimate need for an alternative highway through southern Davis County has not diminished one bit!
Indeed, travel demand projections for coming decades mean a variety of options, including an additional highway through Davis County, will be required to meet transportation needs through the busy corridor.
Because of that need, the court’s ruling is regrettable. Still, the decision must be respected.
It is regrettable that a vital safety valve for motor vehicle traffic through the congested area has been delayed. At the same time, though, and since the court’s opinion was unanimous, KSL respects the requirement that a more thorough evaluation of alternatives be made.
It would be easy to point fingers of blame, especially since the delays have wasted millions of taxpayer dollars.
But now is not the time for the blame game.
An additional highway is needed through southern Davis County. That’s the bottom line! The fact population and travel demands along the Wasatch Front will increase more than 60 percent by 2020 is beyond dispute.
It is why KSL continues to endorse the idea of shared solutions to meet those needs. It is why we encourage expansion of mass transit and better use of the existing I-15 corridor, along with construction of the Legacy Parkway.
Growth Is Coming
September 27, 2002
The challenge of educating Utah’s children never gets easier!
Yet another study has reaffirmed that the State’s school-age population is about to soar beginning in 2004. It is possible 300,000 more kids will be in Utah’s schools by 2020. That would be a huge increase considering today’s school age population is just over a half-million.
This latest report from the University of Utah’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research shows the growth won’t happen from in-migration, but primarily from Utah women having babies. And it’s not the result of a rising fertility rate, but because of the shear size of the number of young women of childbearing years.
Simply put, significant growth is coming – no if, ands or buts.
It means dozens of schools must be built and thousands of teachers trained and hired. And, of course, it means finding a way to somehow pay for it in a state that already has a relatively high tax burden while spending the least per student in the country.
In KSL’s view, it means taking a serious look at the State’s budget priorities. Highways, for example, are not nearly as important as the education of children. And what of sharing some of the growth burden with the private sector through offering tuition tax credits to accelerate the availability of private schools? Even tax increases must be considered.
Yes, growth is coming, and it is going to be challenging and costly.
September 25, 2002
The city of Ogden is on a commendable redevelopment roll.
The latest volley in the city’s revitalization effort came earlier this month when the Ogden City Council gave a green light to what’s called the Riverfront Project.
Plans call for turning 51 acres of blighted land and buildings along the Ogden River near downtown into a mixed-use urban residential neighborhood and business/research park.
In the words of Ogden’s Mayor, "this is the largest project ever to take place downtown."
As with any redevelopment project, there are voices of objection from those who will be displaced. But the city is taking pains to follow federal law and make the transition for those affected as painless as possible. With the benefits provided, many will be better off than before.
And certainly, the city of Ogden will receive a much-needed boost.
What once was Utah’s second largest city has been in a tailspin for decades and languishing in mediocrity.
The ambitious Riverfront Project, along with
construction of a redesigned downtown Mall and several
other planned projects won’t guarantee the city’s
reemergence as a first-rate municipality. The risks, after
all, are self-evident. But KSL believes Ogden city leaders
are on the right track for restoring vitality to their
Support United Way
September 23, 2002
Utahns, overall, are generous. No doubt about it!
Few people, collectively, give away more of their hard-earned cash. The desire to help those in need, it seems, is second nature for Utahns. Such generosity is an attribute worthy of the highest praise.
And it is why, KSL holds out hope that local charities will fair better than some are projecting during this year when traditional sources of funding are drying up.
The aftermath of 9-11, the stock market’s woes, drops in corporate earnings and increasing joblessness have all had an impact on the amount of money available for distribution to local charities. Yet, for many of the same reasons, the need for charitable assistance is as great, if not greater, than ever.
Simply put, during these challenging times, it is important for those who can afford to give more to charity to do it!
KSL believes one of the most viable vehicles for receiving and distributing charitable contributions is the United Way. The local organization’s track record is superb and worthy of support. Therefore, we vigorously encourage our viewers and listeners to take part in United Way’s annual fund raising campaign now underway.
Yes, the needs are enormous, but we trust they’ll be met because of traditional generosity of the people of Utah.
Weber State's Ann Millner
September 20, 2002
With the appointment of a new university president in Utah, editorials often welcome the person to the State, as well as the job.
In the case of Ann Millner, though, it is gratifying to report that she is a long-time resident of Utah who came up through the administrative ranks at Weber State University to now lead the Ogden institution. Indeed, for the first time in nearly 20 years, the Utah Board of Regents went within an institution to choose a new leader.
In KSL's view, they made an excellent choice!
That she would be chosen after an extensive national search of highly capable individuals speaks volumes about her qualifications. Especially notable is the support she has within the Weber State community where she has been employed since 1982.
In her most recent stint as vice president of university relations, she had an intimate role in the school's successful capital fund raising campaign. Undoubtedly, that experience will serve her and Weber State well during these tight economic times.
Unlike an outsider who's first challenge would be to build relationships on campus and within the community, Millner already knows the ropes. She can hit the street running, as it were, immediately focusing her skills on the university's major challenge, which is budgetary.
As she assumes her new duties October 1, KSL joins all Utahns in wishing Ann Millner well as the 11th President of Weber State University.
The Initiative Process
September 18, 2002
To hear some Utah legislators and policy makers lately, the State is on the verge of political chaos now that the Utah Supreme Court has reaffirmed the right of citizens to legislate through initiative and referenda.
Sure, there's a chance things could get out of hand . . . that future ballots could be flooded with initiatives promoted by well-funded special interest groups, as well as issues raised by honest citizens who are genuinely concerned.
But, politics in Utah doesn't have to go that direction.
To those who are concerned the initiative process will run amok, especially to legislators, KSL offers a solution: simply listen more to the people you represent.
Be more responsive to the majority view of mainstream Utahns on issues as diverse as funding education and limited gun restrictions and legislative ethics!
Open up state government! Move out from behind closed doors! Conduct the public's business where it ought to be done: on the floors of the House and Senate, in full view of the people! No more caucus contrivance and backroom bullying!
With its ruling on August 26, the Utah Supreme Court made it absolutely clear the initiative process is an inviolate right of citizens. It is a tool that is available for Utahns to use should those elected to public office arrogantly choose to isolate the people rather than truly represent them.
Utah County's Par Tax
September 16, 2002
It seems an exercise in futility!
We speak of the decision made by the Utah County Commission on a 2-1 vote to let voters during November's election express their view on a proposed Parks, Arts and Recreation (PAR) tax.
The so-called PAR tax idea is patterned after the widely acclaimed ZAP tax that sustains the zoo, arts and parks in Salt Lake County.
The Utah County vote, though, appears pointless since all three commissioners have made it absolutely clear they oppose the tax and will never impose it . . . even if voters say they want it.
So why put it to a vote? Why ask the people if they'd be willing to fork over a penny for every $10 spent to bring what proponents say would be financial stability to Utah County's parks, arts and recreation programs?
In one breath, the two commissioners who voted to place the issue on the ballot say it needs to be debated and the people need to be heard, but in another breath they voice their disdain for the tax and say it won't be authorized on their watch.
If the issue is going to be on the ballot, KSL believes the three members of the Utah County Commission ought to be willing to follow the voice of the people. Otherwise, get it off the ballot and avoid getting people all worked up over an issue the commissioners have already decided against.
Keep Driver Education
September 13, 2002
Utah lawmakers may face an ongoing struggle to make ends meet, but doing away with driver education in the public schools won’t do much to ease the State’s budget woes.
The State subsidizes driver education to the tune of about $4.2 million per year. The money comes from a very specific $2.50 driver education fee levied annually upon each motor vehicle registered in the state. In essence, those who’ve benefited from driver education over the years support the program through ongoing vehicle registrations.
If lawmakers, indeed, privatize driver education, are they prepared to stop charging motorists the fee?
In KSL’s view, it wouldn’t be right to redirect the money to other uses.
Of greater concern, though, is the impact driver education privatization would have on rural Utah.
In populated areas, private driver education schools would likely flourish, but could such businesses justify the cost of operating in smaller communities? Unlikely! The economic law of supply and demand would undoubtedly leave rural students without the benefit of readily accessible driver education.
For good reason, lawmakers in 1955 made the decision to include driving instruction in the public school curriculum. It was a good decision then, and there’s no compelling reason to make a change now.
September 9, 2002
On September 11, it will be easy to recall images of the attacks of a year ago. The horrible fiery scenes will be virtually impossible to miss on the day of commemoration.
But what of the emotions each American felt that fateful day and in the weeks that followed? Will they be as easily recalled?
What of patriotism? Flags flew everywhere. Anthems were sung. Tears of appreciation flowed unabashedly for this land of freedom.
What of non-partisan political cooperation? The culture of contention softened. Statesmanship for the common good helped unify the nation.
What of society’s crassness? Violent movies were withdrawn. Biting, sarcastic humor was softened. Radio stations cut back on songs with lyrics that might offend. Indeed, self-indulgence gave way to humble introspection.
What of faith? Americans flocked to churches, synagogues and mosques. They petitioned God for solace and help. For a time, the modern religion of secularism took a back seat to traditional values like faith, hope and charity.
Yes, the horrific images will be easy to recall. But, KSL believes the September 11 commemoration will mean much more if the feelings and emotions and resolutions of a year ago are remembered and somehow made a continuous part of our lives.
Dialogue On Freedom
September 6, 2002
As an American, do you support the rule of law? Are you committed to the principle of individual rights? Do you understand the value of each individual citizen and the responsibility each person has, in a democracy, to be informed and involved?
Next week, in what promises to be an exceptional statewide civics lesson, attorneys, judges and politicians will go into Utah's junior and senior high schools to discuss these thought provoking questions.
Their "Dialogue on Freedom," as it is called, is the brainchild of US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. In the wake of September 11, he saw a need for young people to better understand and appreciate our democratic system and associated values.
The American Bar Association accepted his challenge and the Utah Bar Association adapted the program for Utah, with the caveat that parents become involved.
At school next week, the volunteer experts will be leading young people in discussions about democracy.
But for the program to be most effective, parents need to continue the dialogue at home. An impressive insert available in newspapers across the state is offered as source material.
KSL encourages Utah parents and children to use the material and follow through with the program. Liberty thrives when a knowledgeable and involved populace supports the rule of law, whereas freedom is fragile when an uninformed citizenry languishes in apathy.
A Fairpark Centennial
September 4, 2002
A hundred years ago, Utah government leaders found an outstanding location for the annual Utah State Fair. Tomorrow, the traditional event, appropriately, will get underway once again at the same site. The establishment of a permanent home for the fair on 64 acres along the Jordan River at North Temple in 1902 included construction of a horticulture building. This year's fair will celebrate the centennial of that building, now called Promontory Hall. It is a tangible reminder of the Fairpark's historic significance.
Despite the decision of lawmakers in 1995 to privatize the fair, the State still provides a relatively small amount of money each year to keep it going. That apparently bothers some lawmakers who think the fair ought to be totally self-sufficient and independent. Over the years a number of studies have explored alternatives, including the idea of selling the Fairpark and possibly leasing space elsewhere for the annual exposition.
And with each study, as happened again during the most recent legislative session, the recommendation given is to keep the fair where it is. Very simply, it is the best site available.
KSL believes all concerned should keep looking for ways to make the annual fair, along with the investment in the Fairpark, more economically viable. But, put an end to trying to find another location for the fair. The Fairpark has served Utahns well for a hundred years and there is no valid reason to move it elsewhere.
The DTV Mandate
September 2, 2002
The Federal Communications Commission did the right thing August 8 when it voted to require digital TV tuners on nearly all new television sets by 2007.
Some would prefer to delay the expansion of digital television until the market place motivates broadcasters, manufacturers and consumers to make the change. But, in this instance, a boost from Uncle Sam, clearly, was in order.
Digital television -- DTV -- with its exceptional picture and high-quality sound, is the way of the future! The limited analogue spectrum, used by broadcasters for a half-century, now is needed for other modern communications needs. Cell phones are one example. That's why Congress, in 1997, ordered the switch from analogue to digital.
But, the broadcasting industry has found itself in a classic "chicken and egg" logjam: why should broadcasters generate costly DTV programming when so few sets are out there to receive the higher quality broadcast? And why should consumers spend money to purchase DTV sets when so little digital programming is available? Furthermore, why should manufacturers build the sets if the masses aren't going to buy them? Now, they'll have to build them.
In KSL's view, the FCC's decision appropriately breaks the logjam and clears the way for television viewers to soon get what they deserve . . . the highest quality television transmission possible.
August 30, 2002
The recent destruction of an improvised marijuana farm in the mountains east of Salt Lake City provides a graphic reminder of the ongoing need to combat the insidious drug.
In a remote canyon accessible only by foot, lawmen dug up thousands of plants and removed hundreds of feet of irrigation piping. Fortunately, millions of dollars worth of marijuana won't make it onto local streets.
One national study estimates Americans spent $10.4 billion on marijuana and consumed 1,009 metric tons of the stuff in 2000. In fact, it is said some 11 million Americans are regular users of marijuana.
With that kind of demand, no wonder some misguided people take great effort to grow the plant, undoubtedly with designs of making a lot of money.
Some in society even argue, because of its popularity and what they claim is its relative harmless nature, marijuana ought to be decriminalized. Our Nevada neighbors, for example, will vote in November on a citizen's initiative to legalize marijuana.
Hopefully, the measure will be soundly defeated.
KSL believes nothing good comes to individuals or society from smoking marijuana. With vigilance, concerned Americans should continually battle to reduce its illicit availability and eliminate its many harmful effects.
Building For Attorneys?
August 28, 2002
News reports say Salt Lake County is formulating plans to build a new six-story, $22-million criminal justice building to house the District Attorney's office and public defenders.
Now, is it just us, or does that seem like overkill? Are there that many attorneys on the county payroll? Is the staff so large it requires a six-story office building to house it?
It reminds us of a light bulb joke . . . how many lawyers does it take to do the job? Fifty-four. Eight to argue, one to get a continuance, one to object, one to demur, two to research precedents, one to dictate a letter, one to stipulate, five to turn in their time cards, one to depose, one to write interrogatories, two to settle, one to order a secretary to change the bulb, and twenty-eight to bill for professional services.
Lawyer jokes aside, the fact Salt Lake County is even considering a building of that scope for its requisite legal services speaks volumes about today's litigious culture and the legal complexities of modern life. It causes us to long for a simpler Utopian world where a few essential laws govern a congenial populace who settle disputes with uncomplicated Solomon-like wisdom.
Oh, by the way, with all the vacant office space in Salt Lake County, is it wise for taxpayers to invest in another new building? Shouldn't leasing existing space be at the top of the list of options for housing the County's legal staff?
Just a thought!
West Nile Virus
August 26, 2002
By all accounts, the highly publicized West Nile virus is approaching Utah. As it spreads westward, carried by migrating birds and borne by mosquitoes, it is bound to eventually infect a few Utahns.
Is there cause for concern? Absolutely! What about panic? Absolutely not!
As the virus spreads across the land, much of the media attention is focusing on the few deaths it is causing. Indeed, a number of people have become severely ill after contracting the virus through mosquito bites. And sadly, a few, mostly elderly victims, have succumbed to the virus.
When compared to the populace as a whole, though, the mortality rate is exceptionally small.
From the National Centers for Disease Control, come these comforting facts:
Approve Dino Track Bill
August 23, 2002
A committee of the United States Senate finally got its act together and advanced a measure that will provide funding to help preserve acres of precious dinosaur tracks in St. George.
KSL now encourages the full Senate to give quick final approval to the bill so the President can sign it and the work of safeguarding the astonishing fossils can proceed.
In this matter, time is critical!
Ironically, what has been preserved in sandstone for about 200-million years could vanish in no time at all if left exposed to the elements. Already, some of the extraordinary specimens, tragically, are breaking down.
They were uncovered about two-and-a-half years ago when Sheldon Johnson was leveling land on his farm. Commendably, the Johnson family voluntarily made the site available for research and visitation, and provided a temporary, though inadequate covering.
Without formal publicity, hundreds of thousands of curious visitors have found the site, making it one of the area’s top tourist attractions.
The half-million dollar appropriation will allow the city of St. George to purchase the ten-acre site, and to proceed with plans to fence the property and begin construction of a shelter and museum.
The more adequate protection is absolutely essential considering the scope of the discovery with its semi-urban location and magnetic popularity among tourists.
In KSL’s view, the money will come none too soon.
Reducing Light Pollution
August 21, 2002
A significant movement is afoot in Utah as well as many other states and nations to reduce so-called light pollution and re-enthrone the majesty of the night sky.
Salt Lake City, for example, is in the process of developing an impressive master plan for all street and public lighting.
They're talking of using more efficient bulbs and lower wattage to reduce energy costs. They're proposing the gradual installation of street fixtures with shielded tops so that light is directed toward the ground and not beamed needlessly upward.
They would encourage everyone in the community to evaluate their outdoor lighting needs with an eye to changing wasteful practices.
KSL commends the capitol city for its leadership on this issue.
As pointed out during a recent national convention of astronomers held in Salt Lake, in the typical modern city fewer than a dozen stars may shine through the artificially lit sky. Because of light pollution, one in five people on earth are unable to see the Milky Way.
Astronomers are rightfully concerned: "Our goal is really not to put people in the dark, but put people into better quality lighting so the end result is they'll see better, save energy and protect the environment." (Robert Gent, International Dark-Sky Association)
KSL shares their concern and supports reasonable approaches to reducing light pollution. With a little effort, nighttime commerce and safety needs can be met, while making it possible for more people to enjoy the wonder of a star-filled sky.
Water Rate Study
August 19, 2002
The Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District recently hired an independent consulting firm to perform a comprehensive financial review and water rate study.
In other words, the state's largest water broker is seriously thinking about increasing the cost of the precious commodity to consumers along the Wasatch Front.
That may sound ominous, but in view of the area's burgeoning population and limited water supply, underscored by the current drought, KSL thinks it is a study the Conservancy District would be derelict not to undertake.
As it now stands, Utahns use more water per capita and pay less for it than residents of most other states in the nation. That's quite a benefit to the residents of this second driest state.
Yet, something's got to give!
The population in the area serviced by the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District is expected to grow 85 percent over the next 30 years. Unless it snows and rains a lot more than it has in recent years, and unless consumers cut back their usage, serious water shortages could be the norm.
No one wants to pay more for water, but if higher rates will encourage conservation and wiser consumer use of the precious resource, then perhaps an increase is justified.
That's what the consultants will be evaluating.
KSL believes it is a timely study and Utahns should begin preparing themselves for the results.
Another Viewpoint - Mother Nature's Message
August 16, 2002
In view of the summer's devastating wildfires, a recent KSL editorial called for better management of the nation's vast forests. Among other things, we expressed concern about reports the Forest Service spends 40 percent of its annual budget defending itself against environmental groups.
Marc Heileson of the Sierra Club called the 40 percent figure, as quoted by several prominent politicians, "a gargantuan stretch."
"It is simply not true," wrote Heileson.
"The truth is environmental groups are not obstructing Forest Service efforts to reduce fire danger. In fact, a recent General Accounting Office report demonstrated that last year environmental groups only appealed one-percent of the Forest Service's fire danger reducing projects and had not taken any of them to court. The real problem is that we are suffering from the past century's Forest Service policies of extinguishing every fire and allowing timber companies to cut the older, fire-resistant trees instead of the younger ones."
"To restore forest health," Heileson wrote, "fire must be returned and included in managing forest ecosystems. Environmental groups are not standing in the way of this effort."
As always, a more complete text of this reply can be found here.
August 14, 2002
It pays to get an education!
That fact is clearer than ever in the wake of a report released last month by the U.S. Census Bureau. Researchers found the average person who enters the workforce with a high school degree will earn $1.2 million in a lifetime. Someone with a college degree will make a million more. A professional degree ups the lifetime earning power four-fold.
The lesson for young people is obvious. The more education one gets, the more money that person is likely to earn over the course of a life. So, stay in school long enough to get good, marketable skills.
There is also a clear lesson in the results of the survey for those lawmakers who are sometimes reluctant to adequately fund higher education.
The more money people earn, the more they contribute to the overall economy, including the payment of taxes. In the long run, the ultimate return to the state in terms of economic contributions and taxes paid far outweighs the few dollars per student invested by the state to educate her children.
As lawmakers grapple with budgetary matters, especially as they consider how much money to direct toward higher education, they need to remember whatever is invested in the education of the young, ultimately will be returned many times over.
Yes, it pays to get an education, but KSL believes it also pays society to educate her children.
The Blame Game
August 12, 2002
Caesar Barber has decided to play the blame game.
He's the 55-year-old, 272-pound man who has sued four major fast food chains, claiming their products contribute to his obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Never mind, he showed up at McDonald's of his own volition. They get the blame! Forget, he voluntarily ordered each caloric feast at Wendy's, freely plopped down the money to pay for his KFC, and willingly consumed each Whopper as his waistline expanded and his health gradually declined. In Barber's mind, the ‘big four" are the culprits.
Barber's lawsuit is but another sorry attempt in this nation to shift responsibility for one's own ill-advised actions to another.
Like millions of other Americans, he's dangerously overweight. In fact, obesity is a declared public health crisis. Nearly 50-million adults between the ages of 20 and 74, and 12.5 percent of American children are obese. The deterioration of diet, including an unhealthy obsession with junk food, likely plays a role. In reality, though, people like Caesar Barber, generally, have no one to blame but themselves.
KSL believes it is time for Barber and all Americans to take stock of their eating and lifestyle habits. Instead of filing frivolous lawsuits, the battle of the bulge should be attacked with good diet, augmented by exercise and the virtues of moderation and self-discipline.
Another Viewpoint - Closed Primary
August 9, 2002
In a recent editorial, KSL urged the Republican Party of Utah to abandon its closed primary. The editorial generated an outpouring of responses.
JoAnn Bennett of Layton says a closed primary "makes perfect sense and is constitutional and reasonable. Too many people would like to have a voice to interfere in a party they have not chosen. The closed primary is protection from fraud."
Todd Starley of Santaquin asks, "Does it make any sense to allow those parties or individuals bent on decreasing the power of the Republican Party to vote for our candidates? I would say not! It is a ‘Republican' primary and it should stay that way."
Maryann Christensen of Murray claims "it makes perfect sense for Republicans (or Democrats) to hold a primary which is untainted by members of other parties. We don't invite them to our convention – why should we invite them to our primary."
Not every response KSL received opposed our view. In fact, J. Powers of Draper thanked us for the position we took. "Many of us in the party were and still are against the ‘closed primary' as established," wrote Powers. "We are quickly and significantly growing in strength. Your getting the message out helps."
As always, a more complete text of these replies can be found here.
Safety Belt Use
August 7, 2002
Way to go Utah motorists!
You're getting the message. More than ever before, you're using safety belts as you drive or ride in motor vehicles. As a result, lives have been saved and injuries prevented . . . and that's what its all about.
The latest figures from the Utah Highway Safety Office show the state's overall safety belt use rate at 80.1 percent. That's up almost three-percent over last year. The statistic is even more remarkable when you consider that not many years ago, in 1986, seat belt use in Utah was only 18 percent.
Give credit for such dramatic improvement to a safety belt use law passed in 1986 and subsequent legislation, a series of effective media campaigns, and a variety of educational programs conducted throughout the state.
Clearly, the message is getting through.
Still, far too many Utahns ignore the laws of the state and of nature.
A couple of facts from the Highway Safety Office survey:
-"The majority of crash-related fatalities (in Utah) were unbelted."
-"An estimated $7 million were spent on inpatient and emergency department hospital charges for unbelted Utahns. Of those charges, $6 million could have been saved if unbelted Utahns had been belted."
KSL thinks it is terrific that 8 of every 10 Utahns are buckling up. For the 20 percent who don't, we say, wise up and get with the program.
A Vision for Downtown?
August 5, 2002
Where is the vision for Salt Lake City's Main Street? A lot of people have talked about doing what's good for the capitol city's core business district, but no one, so far, has offered a clear definition what "good" is.
During a recent visit to Salt Lake, Blake Nordstrom made it clear his store will be leaving Crossroads Mall. Whether he's allowed to go a few blocks west to Gateway, or set up shop in a suburban mall is problematic. Nordstrom's, according to the owner, is leaving Main Street.
Nordstrom's firm stance, along with the growing number of boarded up storefronts, sends a gloomy and discouraging message.
On a brighter note, though, Meier and Frank is spending millions to upgrade its downtown store, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is expected to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to downtown's core area with a multi-million dollar renovation of the ZCMI Mall.
On one hand gloom, and on the other, a glimmer of hope!
Still, what KSL sees lacking is clear leadership and an overall vision for reenergizing the traditional retail district at the core of the city. Various voices have spoken out, suggestions have been made and a few things tried, but no one seems to be stepping forward with a decisive and visionary plan to restore vibrancy to Main Street.
As long as that's the case, Main Street will continue to struggle in the search for its 21st century identity.
August 2, 2002
Utah schools, along with parents, need to do a better job of teaching young people about money matters. A recent local survey, coming on the heels of an identical national study, underscores KSL's concern.
The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy found high school seniors across the nation could answer only about half of some very rudimentary questions about basic personal finance. Utah students scored 3.3 percent lower than their national counterparts. When compared to previous surveys, the problem is getting worse.
Simply put, most high school seniors are financially illiterate. The average student can't balance a checkbook and knows very little about the basic modern survival principles of earning, spending, saving and investing.
The results of the studies are alarming. Also distressing, though, is the fact personal finance is virtually ignored in Utah's schools.
KSL believes that should change.
Teaching kids how to balance a checkbook should be as much a part of the curriculum as reading, writing and arithmetic. And, parents, obviously, share the responsibility.
In our consumer driven world where so much of what we do evolves around money, it is essential young people be given the skills needed to make sound financial decisions. With more effort, they can avoid the many pitfalls associated with uninformed money management.
Progress on DUI
July 31, 2002
The swift, unanimous passage of an important DUI measure during the July 8 special session of the Utah Legislature adds a vital component to the state's battle against the scourge of drunken driving.
Because of the legislative action, there'll now be a single, statewide database within the Utah Department of Public Safety to store DUI records and data. It will be readily accessible to all agencies that deal with the DUI problem.
To resolve another glaring shortcoming in the system, all justice courts in cities and counties throughout the state will be required to collect and report the same DUI data currently collected by state courts.
Additionally, to establish accountability, lawmakers will be given an annual report based on information received from the courts.
KSL applauds lawmakers for their decisive action.
Until now, far too many repeat DUI offenders have fallen through gaping cracks in the judicial system. In terms of lost lives and enduring injuries, the results have been tragic. People who drink and drive, get caught, then do it again and again need to be punished quickly and without much mercy.
The new law will help!
In KSL's view, it represents a major step forward in the ongoing effort to keep drunken drivers, especially repeat offenders, from maiming and killing more innocent victims.
July 29, 2002
The mayors of six cities in south Davis County make a good point: as TRAX is expanded during coming decades, their area should not be overlooked.
As it now stands, a light-rail line into the cities of Bountiful, Farmington, West Bountiful, North Salt Lake, Centerville and Woods Cross is not specifically part of the 2030 Transit Plan adopted by the Wasatch Front Regional Council. What is included through Davis County is a commuter rail line that would run from Salt Lake City to Ogden.
The mayors aren't opposed to commuter rail. In fact, they welcome it. But, once built, it likely will pass by most of their communities en route to points north. And, since their constituents are paying a sales tax for mass transit, just like most taxpayers along the Wasatch Front, the mayors argue light rail for their area at least ought to be on the drawing board.
The six cities of south Davis County should have as much right to vie for a light rail line as West Valley City, West Jordan-South Jordan, Draper and the Airport; the four areas now included in the 30-year plan for possible TRAX extensions. Because light rail is costly to build and funding is limited, future lines obviously ought to go where they can do the most good.
KSL believes the burgeoning bedroom communities immediately north of downtown Salt Lake deserve the opportunity to make their case.
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