Former members of polygamous groups say they aren’t about to be quiet so that Utah can continue to build its image nationally.
But the former polygamous wives who have formed the support group for others wishing to leave plural marriage communities say they aren’t going to keep quiet. Not when there are women and children being victimized by this lifestyle, Chapman said.
Since polygamy has again burst from the state’s neatly shut closet, many Utah leaders are scrambling to position themselves. Gov. Mike Leavitt tripped over his own tongue while others have pretended they knew nothing about the abuses perpetuated by polygamy.
Chapman said her group squared off recently against what she called open hostility at the Junior League-sponsored Care Fair held Aug. 7 and 8. The incident created a scene and pitted Junior League leaders against those of the TOP organization.
The Junior League has held the Care Fair for the past eight years as a social services event. Fair organizers make booths available to local service agencies like Utahns Against Hunger, the YWCA and People Helping People in a centralized outreach and education event for members of the community.
Justice, Economic Dignity and Independence for Women (J.E.D.I.) was one of the nearly 30 agencies that operated a booth at the fair. Since TOP operates under the umbrella of J.E.D.I., the former polygamous women were in attendance along with their homemade poster and other information.
CNN news happened to be in town the same weekend covering Utah’s polygamy stories and a camera crew wanted to interview the members of TOP about their activities. TOP organizers suggested the CNN news team interview them while they set up their space at the J.E.D.I. booth. But the women noted they arranged the interview to take place before the fair opened to the public.
As the CNN crew was packing up, Laurie Hofmann, Care Fair director, confronted the TOP leaders and demanded that the leave. Hofmann told the group that TOP was too political and she didn’t want the word polygamy associated with the fair, Chapman recalled.
It was getting ugly, Chapman said. Onlookers from other booths began trying to intervene on our behalf and they were told it was none of their business.
Hofmann wanted to confiscate TOP’s poster, Chapman said. But Lisa Mietchen, Junior League president convinced Hofmann that she couldn’t take the property of the TOP group. TOP was allowed to remain on the condition the poster was removed, Chapman explained.
By the time we got the poster into my car, my children were so upset at the treatment I was receiving that one was crying, Chapman remembered.
But Hofmann maintains she treated TOP with diplomacy and says the Junior League was blindsided by the former polygamous women, who had not been invited to the fair. No one spoke to me about this, she said.
Chris Jones, J.E.D.I. services director, however, says she told a Care Fair committee member that TOP would be part of J.E.D.I.’s booth at a planning meeting and requested extra chairs.
One witness, Marvin James, Salt Lake County Aging Services, continues to be upset about the incident. He accuses the Junior League of censorship and abusive tactics. It was right there in front of me. They were raising their voices and insulting those women with their children watching. And then they tried to confiscate their literature.
James says he wishes that he had had a video camera to give to news media. They were speaking with Channel 5 news later about what a service they provided and how they’re doing a good thing, he says of the Junior League representatives. I thought it was a bunch of hypocrisy.
He says he’s also incensed that the Junior League women used the issue of being political as a reason to expel TOP from the fair. All of us there were from a political organization of some kind.
TOP women maintain that they are more about service than politics, while J.E.D.I. director Tamara Baggett says that J.E.D.I. is more political than service oriented.
When asked how TOP is described as political, League president Mietchen replied, I don’t know how it is political.
Another witness who tried to intervene said the argument got physical. I was physically pushed away by Hofmann and then elbowed in the back, says Jennifer Trom. It got truly bizarre.
Raising voices against polygamy in Utah is not popular, says Chapman. This is an example of the kind of hostility we face in this community. Jr. League Official Squares Off Against Former Polygamous Wives DC75D755-1372-FCBB-8362E82BA0B3CF03 2007-09-06 14:14:44.0 1 1 0 1998-08-27 00:00:00.0 50 0
Critics have long been frustrated with the relaxed manner in which Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regulates the Magnesium Corporation of America (MagCorp), often cited as the nation’s number one chemical polluter, and the source of more than 80 percent of the nation’s airborne chlorine.
Suspicions have loomed large that the company’s facilities emit dioxins, which are known carcinogens, into Utah’s air. But attempts to test the plant for these substances have ended in deadlock between the company, DEQ, and environmental activists. Now, at long last, activists are about to get some assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency.
This is something we’ve been working on for two years, says Scott Endicott, a biochemist and member of Citizens Against Chlorine Contamination (CACC).
Chip Ward, a CACC member and resident of Grantsville near MagCorp’s plant, is also upbeat. We try to apply pressure where we can, he says. You start enough fires and one is bound to catch.
Nevertheless, the road toward securing decreased emissions from MagCorp will be a long one, mostly because federal regulations regarding chlorine are essentially nonexistant. The Clean Air Act makes no mention of chlorine pollution, and some find it shocking to learn that the E.P.A. leaves most forms of dioxin emissions unregulated. Taken together, this vacuum of federal regulations makes it difficult to ask MagCorp to tighten the caps on its stacks.
So, activists grow all the more puzzled when the state’s DEQ adds a seemingly lax attitude to an already dire situation. CACC charged that the DEQ buckled under MagCorp’s pressure when it came time to test for dioxins in the company’s plant. According to a state toxicologist, monitors near Grantsville have never detected chlorine levels high enough to affect human health, and the state’s Department of Health has reported that chlorine emissions in the area are no big deal.
Assertions like that seem suspect to Ward, whose own health survey of Grantsville residents two years ago found high rates of birth defects, cancer and respiratory problems among the population. And Endicott contends that measuring chlorine is not the real issue, it’s dioxin, the harmful product of chlorine’s union with other chemicals in the air.
Apparently, the E.P.A. thinks their concerns have merit, and has called for experimental tests for dioxin emissions at MagCorp’s plant. The agency is also concerned about the emission’s possible effects on the nearby Great Salt Lake. Natt Miullo, a community environmental coordinator with the E.P.A., is quick to point out that the agency is not performing tasks that should have been taken on by Utah’s DEQ. Dioxins testing is still a relatively new field, and requires careful expertise expertise that few agencies but the E.P.A. have.
We want to help the DEQ determine if dioxins can be tested for effectively, says Miullo, then we can look at pathways of exposure, where these emissions settle, evaporate, or their possible pathways to the Great Salt Lake through groundwater. The logical thing to do is take this step by step.
The University of Utah has also entered the MagCorp watch with its own survey of Grantsville residents to better gauge their health concerns where the plant’s emissions are concerned.
Endicott hopes this promising start might one day turn into a toxicology study, or highly detailed report on how MagCorp’s millions of pounds of chlorine gas effect not only the environment, but people’s health. Before that, though, the E.P.A. could set up computer simulated wind-pattern models to best guess where the emissions settle.
I think it’s appalling that this hasn’t been done yet, he says. This is the largest emitter of toxic chemicals in the country, and nobody seems to care where these emissions go.
Ward, however, is more interested in getting MagCorp to reduce its emissions, period. You have to get accountability at the front door, because once pollution has escaped out of the stacks there’s little you can do, Ward says. Health studies are notoriously inconclusive by design. Companies like MagCorp can always fall back on the fact the sample populations are too small to be meaningful, and that’s certainly the case in a rural town like Grantsville. I would be surprised if they find anything, but I’m open to them trying.
R.L. Thayer, vice president of operations at MagCorp, is confident that any test will turn up low dioxin levels at the plant. We don’t think we have a problem, but we’re willing to work with them to find out, Thayer says.
Besides, as noted earlier, the E.P.A. has no hard and fast rules where certain dioxin emissions are concerned. Should dioxins turn up at MagCorp, no one knows what the consequences, if any, will be.
For much of the past, the company has shown taciturn behavior toward the press and public. Still, Miullo feels the company is responding to E.P.A. requests. What must be understood is that they have reduced chlorine emissions dramatically since 1995, Miullo says. However, we believe they could go a lot further, and should go a lot further. They haven’t been very communicative with the community, but maybe the information we gather could help them change that policy. Hunt For MagCorp Dioxins Intensifies DC75D794-1372-FCBB-8314F20673A4C23D 2007-09-06 14:14:44.0 1 1 0 1998-09-03 00:00:00.0 68 0
In return, his owner, Provo fast-food worker Kimberly Marsh, made and pressed small clothes for his lithe, furry body.
But Bandit met his savage fate at the end of a push-broom handle. The reason? The two men allegedly wielding the push-broom didn’t like the fact that Bandit’s owner is a lesbian, says a witness.
Now, while Marsh mourns, the national and international ferret-owning community fires out letters, e-mail and phone calls demanding the only verdict of justice they see as fit: The death of Bandit must be prosecuted as a hate-crime.
It’s a story that fuses the agendas of animal rights with lesbian rights, and it’s ripe with small touches of high drama. Much like people in love, ferret owners are a passionate lot, but they have a clear eye when it comes to their long-term goal. Ferrets, they say, must be respected as pets on a level equal with cats and dogs. If it takes a boycott of Utah to drive that point home, as some angry letters from out of state suggest, then that’s just fine. These people mean business.
As Catherine Garcia, a Utah member of a national ferret organization, points out, ferrets are now the third most popular pet after cats. I have spoken with people in the Netherlands about this terrible event, Garcia says. This doesn’t look good for the Winter Olympics.
Marsh says signs of impending trouble started when the alleged perpetrators moved into the complex, then quickly proceeded to harass her on an almost daily basis. They grabbed their genitals in front of her as she unlocked her apartment door. One grabbed her, then tried to force a kiss. Taunts of Fucking dyke! were frequent, if not incessant.
Then, on the morning of Aug. 9, Marsh awoke to find Bandit missing. She later found her ferret with the help of Tammy Kerkhoff, a neighbor, who says he saw the animal beaten by the same men who harassed Marsh week after week.
They said, ’Kill it! It’s the dyke’s! Kill it!’ It was a hate crime, there’s no doubt about it, says Kerkhoff. I heard the most ungodly squeals from Bandit. After Kim found him beneath a bush he took two shallow breaths in her arms, and then died. The look on his face said, Ã”Help me, why do I have to suffer?’
Marsh minces no words when describing the effect of Bandit’s death on her life. I’ve had both my parents die in my arms, and this was more traumatic to me than that. There was no motive for this. My father had a heart condition, my mother had lung disease, so I knew they were going to die. Bandit was ripped away from me, she says.
Her despair cut into her financial situation, too. When her boss refused to give her a day off to grieve, Marsh turned in her work uniform.
Meanwhile, ferret enthusiasts and other animal rights activists vow to turn Provo, and even the state of Utah, over the coals if Bandit’s attackers are not charged with the third-degree felony of a hate crime, as opposed to the class-A misdemeanor of aggravated cruelty to animals.
I’ve been surprised at the number of letters addressing this case, says Rick Romney, a prosecutor with the Provo City Attorney’s Office. People have been angry that the ferret was mistreated in the manner that’s alleged.
But the chances of Bandit’s demise rising to the prosecutorial level of a felony are remote. The city of Provo has no jurisidiction in the realm of felonies. Counties, on the other hand, do. So Romney sent the case to Utah County Attorney Kay Bryson for review. After reading the police file, Bryson determined that evidence of a hate crime was scant.
Reading over the outrage that pours from a handful of letters and e-mails from Canada, Massachusetts and Minnesota, it’s difficult to tell what angers people most. Do they want Bandit’s death punished because Marsh is a lesbian, and homophobia is the issue? Or do they want the alleged attackers brought to justice under the harsher penalty of a hate crime because ferrets everywhere deserve more respect?
Marsh feels that the issues are inseparable. You really have to look at it from both points, she says. But what people have to realize is that animals aren’t just animals. In this case, Bandit was one of my children. Animals have feelings, they bleed, and they do almost everything a human does except talk. All’s Ferret In Love and War DC75D801-1372-FCBB-832EE7A471721CED 2007-09-06 14:14:44.0 1 1 0 1998-09-03 00:00:00.0 62 0
Ironically, in the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the U.S. Department of Justice and Salt Lake City that would establish the special deputization, there is no mention of an oversight board. It was one more misrepresentation that began to anger local Latino leaders.
The proposal was set to slide through after the City Council was briefed by Ortega and U.S. Attorney for Utah Paul Warner. But with an insider’s heads-up from someone close to the council, two Hispanic leaders, Pete Suazo and Lee Martinez, wrote impassioned letters questioning the pilot program.
Those letters were enough for Deeda Seed and Joanne Milner to convince fellow Councilmen Tom Rogan and Roger Thompson who both seemed ready to vote in the proposal that a decision without a public hearing on an important public policy measure could be seen as short-sighted, if not downright arrogant. By a margin of 4-3, a motion to hold a public hearing passed.
We hold hearings on the closure of an alley. But we can’t hold a hearing on something that will affect people’s civil rights? asked Milner, rhetorically.
The best spin-doctoring in the world wouldn’t change the reality that this was aimed at the Hispanic community in a very negative way, Seed said in an interview. My colleagues understood that public hearings are important democracy-building episodes.
That gave Hispanic leaders one week to marshal their forces. It also gave Ortega another week to get his ducks in a row, or shore up at least four votes on the council.
The pilot program was aimed at fighting crimes committed by illegal aliens, most notably drug dealing. Ortega had put forward the notion that 75 to 80 percent of felony drug arrests in Salt Lake City were of undocumented Mexicans who continued to be let out of the Salt Lake County Jail for lack of space. The program would rid Salt Lake City’s streets of the vermin.
During a five-hour pressure-packed public hearing, Ortega told the council that undocumented aliens, so-called mules, are coming into the United States and Salt Lake City at the behest of Mexican drug cartels. They are told not to worry about being arrested Ã‰ We have arrested hundreds, if not thousands. INS does not have the staffing to respond Ã‰ They are released from jail and go right back to the street.
But one by one, Hispanic leaders made impassioned pleas. Michael Martinez, an attorney in Salt Lake City, ask the council why they are so willing to believe that 80 percent of drug arrests are undocumented Mexican nationals. No one has asked the basis for these numbers, he told them. Why is everyone so willing to believe that Hispanics are criminals?
Martinez pointed to Salt Lake Tribune reports by Shawn Foster, who quoted police Capt. Roger Winkler as saying he would estimate that only 10 to 15 percent of felony drug arrests were illegal aliens.
No one really knows what the numbers are, Martinez said later in an interview. When they are arrested, the police officers don’t check citizenship.
Martinez told the council that the inter-agency agreement did not define how success was to be measured. And that although other representations had been made falsely, only the police chief or the U.S. Attorney could cancel the program.
Rather than giving local police authority to transport illegals to a special facility in Tucson, Ariz., Martinez said they should be prosecuted.
The solution from the Hispanic community is arrest people who commit crimes, prosecute them, and put them in prison.
Beyond politics, what was driving the proposal, Martinez contended, was Salt Lake City’s desire for more immigration agents. Under federal immigration law, it says in order to qualify for INS agents, you have to have a high concentration of illegal aliens. In that regard, 80 percent sounds a lot more impressive than 10 percent, he noted.
Ortega would be seen as a hero across the country, Matinez said because suddenly the 75 to 80 percent alien arrest rate would go down to 10 to 15 percent, but in reality nothing would have changed.
The special agreement would allow police officers to stop Latinos and demand proof of citizenship simply because of their color, Lee Martinez (no relation to Michael Martinez) told the council at the hearing.
Illegal immigration has always been a problem. Just ask Native Americans, he said with a note or irony.
Lee Martinez explained to the all-white council that the Hispanic community already was subject to discrimination by police and other authorities. He asked council members to try and relate to the discrimination with a Mexican proverb: Ojos que no ven, corazon que no siente Eyes that can’t see, hearts that can’t feel.
You can’t see it, you don’t feel it. It isn’t your kids who are being stopped, Lee Martinez said.
Once Salt Lake City police are identified as INS agents, no one in the Hispanic community will call police when a crime is committed, he told the council.
Citizens of Salt Lake City don’t have to look far to see the abuse Latinos suffer at the hands of police, already, said Pete Suazo, who also serves as a state senator.
In impassioned tones, Suazo told the council of the multi-agency raid last year at La Diana, a Westside restaurant owned and operated by Rafael Gomez, who recently earned American citizenship.
The raid, by a 60-member SWAT team including Salt Lake City and INS agents was conducted on the pretense of illegal drug trafficking, Suazo told the council. But there were no street drugs and no illegal aliens. Heavily armed officers violated their rights, ordered them to the floor, put guns to their heads and detained them.
In the end, all charges were dropped. In an interview, Suazo said that Gomez had only been a citizen for two months at the time of the raid. He still cries about it.
Suazo told the council that he wanted to set the record straight after Ortega had called him a detractor for penning a letter to the council critical of the proposed pilot program. I’m no detractor, the state senator said. I’m a contributor Ã‰ I know my grandparents would be proud of me, he said, as though to Ortega, who also carries an Hispanic surname.
In the end, the same four council members who voted to allow the public hearing, voted the proposal down. Seen as the swing vote, Thompson said he couldn’t endorse a program that would divide the community.
A visibly peeved Council Chairman Keith Christensen said allowing police sweeping federal authority wasn’t about discrimination, it was about law enforcement. Also voting in favor were Charlton Christensen (no relation), and Bryce Jolley.
In interviews, both Michael Martinez and Lee Martinez said that Ortega tried to coerce their cooperation by threatening to leave them off the so-called oversight panel.
Members of the Hispanic community had asked repeatedly for the statistical information that Ortega had used to come up with his 75 to 80 percent illegal arrest rate figure, Michael Martinez said in an interview. But he and Lee Martinez were told that if they didn’t embrace both the program and the police chief’s statistics they would be barred from the oversight committee.
When public officials won’t give you public information and then say they will cut you out of the political process, there is something morally wrong, Michael Martinez said. It really comes down to the mayor not being able to control her chief.
A spokesman for the mayor, Ken Connaughton, denied the allegations. He said no one was threatened with being pushed out of the process and that statistics were made available to members of the Hispanic community. Tables Turned: Corradini and Ortega Spurned DC75D85F-1372-FCBB-8301362D79DB9431 2007-09-06 14:14:44.0 1 1 0 1998-09-10 00:00:00.0 65 0
Move over polygamy. Salt Lake City’s militant vegan Straight Edge movement is quickly becoming the topic of choice for the international press, second only to the state’s pre-eminent public relations problem of multiple wives.
Abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, drugs and sex is par for the course in Utah. Straight Edge adherents take clean living one step further by swearing off all animal products. More militant practitioners have been known to turn belligerent in the face of people who live differently.
Vandalism, fights, and even the firebombings of fast-food restaurants and a fur feed plant by suspected militant Straight Edgers over the years have formed a record so long and intriguing that calls to the Salt Lake Area Gang Project from London and other overseas capitals have become increasingly common.
A front-page article in the Los Angeles Times on Salt Lake City’s violent straight-edge youth made it all the way to syndicated publication in an English-language Japanese newspaper, and rocked Olympic delegates in Nagano gearing up for Salt Lake City’s 2002 Winter Games. An article in the British Daily Telegraph followed.
So did a scornful profile of the issue in this month’s edition of The Face, a glossy style and music magazine out of London. Salt Lake City is the town where you can be beaten with chains for having a fag [cigarette], or have your skin branded with an Ã”X’ for tucking into [eating] a burger, the magazine’s table of contents reads. The Mormon capital where the moshpit at punk gigs is the powerbase for teenagers who have vowed never to have sex and will go to jail to protect animals is the American city where clean living is very definitely healthy living. Thanks for visiting: you’d better have a nice day.
Gang Project community coordinator Michelle Arciaga says it’s only 10 to 20 percent of the local Straight Edge movement that espouses violence and mayhem, but they’re a very fierce minority.
I would guess we’ve gotten 15 or 20 media calls regarding Straight Edge over the past six months, says Arciaga. People are fascinated by it because kids who don’t drink or use drugs usually flies in the face of what you’d call gang behavior.
The event culminating in all of this publicity was an alleged Straight Edge attack on members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity for smoking cigarettes outside the Pie Pizzeria this April. After spraying mace over the small crowd gathered at the restaurant, fraternity member Michael Larsen says a gang of about 30 Straight Edgers went after people with tire irons, bats, chains and brass knuckles.
They maced even the women, then they attacked while everyone’s eyes were out, says Larsen, who suffered a black eye after the incident. While some escaped with only bruises and knots, one person suffered a broken foot, while another spent the night at a hospital, Larsen says.
They came at us from all sides, then they were gone in their cars just as fast as they were there. This was not just criminal mischief, these guys planned this out. People don’t just come out of the shadows for no reason.
Arrested in June for his suspected role in the attack was Clinton Marvin, a 24-year-old sporting a Maori-like tattoo on his chin. Det. Brent Larsen (no relation to the victim), an officer with the Gang Project specially assigned to Straight Edge-related crime, could not speak on the case without permission of his supervising officer, but said he was familiar with Marvin as a suspect in the case.
A preliminary hearing regarding the Pie Pizzeria incident is set for October at Third Circuit Court. Back at the fraternity house, Michael Larsen is somewhat surprised there haven’t been more arrests in the case. I would never attack someone for not smoking a cigarette, Larsen, an occasional smoker, says. I might just shake their hand instead. Militant Straight Edge Goes International DC75D8CC-1372-FCBB-83F001533AA828C4 2007-09-06 14:14:44.0 1 1 0 1998-09-17 00:00:00.0 64 0
Is the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) being locked out of a joint state-federal advisory board on public lands because its politics are just too hard for Gov. Mike Leavitt to swallow?
The question itself reveals that SUWA trusts the governor about as far as they can throw him, despite Leavitt’s new program he calls Enlibra a made-up word that he says means to find balance on environmental issues between various interests, commercial and environmental.
Leavitt and his Enlibra partner, Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat from Oregon, paraded their new philosophy around Washington D.C. in July and caught the attention of the National Press Club and folks like well-respected Washington Post columnist David Broder. But is it all just public relations or does the man responsible for gutting the regulation arm of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, who also set the stage for a minimal federal wilderness designation on the Colorado Plateau, really mean it?
What is clear is that SUWA won’t be taking a seat on the federal Bureau of Land Management Resource Advisory Council any time soon. The 15-member board considers a host of issues surrounding BLM lands in Utah. In the past, SUWA has refrained from joining such groups. But times have changed and organization leaders want a seat at the table, said Heidi McIntosh, SUWA’s legal director.
Recently, Scott Groene, the former SUWA issues director, applied for one of two open seats on the BLM advisory council. But Leavitt did not forward Groene’s name to the BLM for consideration.
SUWA cried foul. Enlibra turns out to be politician speak for Ã”only friends of the governor need apply,’ said a SUWA press release.
As the state’s largest environmental organization, SUWA deserves a seat at the table, McIntosh said. When they didn’t greet Scott’s application with enthusiasm, we began to get pessimistic, even though he was the most qualified applicant, she said in a City Weekly interview.
It was the second time in recent memory that Leavitt failed to name an environmentalist to public boards, SUWA officers say, pointing to the appointment of real estate developers to the Central Utah Water Conservancy District board.
But Gov. Leavitt’s office said current openings on the BLM advisory council didn’t include positions for environmentalist. Second, SUWA’s own policies preclude such membership, said Vicki Varela. You will see from the policy that they have a stated policy of not taking part in consensus-building groups.
McIntosh, however, calls that nonsense. We wouldn’t have applied if that was the case, she said. But their reliance on why we don’t usually take part in these groups is really telling Ã‰ They want someone to be a Ã”yes-man.’ We will bring up legitimate concerns they don’t want to talk about... They’re afraid we’ll rock the RAC, McIntosh said.
It is true, however, that in the past SUWA has not wanted to participate on such boards because, McIntosh said, single environmentalists are often verbally attacked by more numerous industry representatives. In this case we wanted a seat because it is one of the most important advisory boards in the state. We wanted a voice to influence decisions early-on, rather than having to react after decisions are made.
A spokesman for the BLM said he welcomed SUWA’s interest in the advisory council but that when the board was instituted in 1995 SUWA was not interested in participating. One year later, SUWA still declined, said Don Banks.
We asked them to be on a subcommittee in 1996. They wrote back and said they were not interested, Banks said.
The 15-member panel is made up of disparate interests from livestock, mineral exploration, motorized off-road recreation, archaeology, as well as conservation.
Banks noted that two of the 15 seats are presently held by representatives from environmental groups, the Audubon Society and the Grand Canyon Trust. If we’re going to have a council representative of the many different interests, having two seats out of 15 from environmental/conservation organizations is a good, fair slice of that pie. SUWA Snubbed For Seat On State-Federal Board DC75D91A-1372-FCBB-83263E37DC03E358 2007-09-06 14:14:44.0 1 1 0 1998-09-17 00:00:00.0 24 0
Maybe the Salt Lake City Police Department should hold a summit before calling a summit.
Fresh from the defeat of a plan to cross-deputize officers with INS powers in order to detain undocumented aliens, the Police Department has called for a Hispanic Crime Summit. Set for Oct. 6 at Little America Hotel, this brain-storming session between 15 specifically invited community leaders and public officials was designed with apparent good intentions. But based on the summit’s name alone, and without even a peek at the proposed agenda, the outcry has been fierce.
This is like throwing gas onto my fire, says City Council member Joanne Milner. I’m incited by the whole prospect of this.
The problem with the name, critics say, is that it paints the Hispanic community as more prone to crime and criminals than other groups. It also reeks of condescension, they say.
For its part, the Police Department stands flabbergasted. The summit is merely an attempt to generate dialogue and healing between Hispanic leaders and the department, all while searching for solutions to crime, says police spokesman Lt. Phil Kirk. That’s hardly a sinister agenda.
We’re willing to do anything and everything we can to help the community, says Kirk, who points out that his mother is Hispanic. Why people would find fault with that is a little hard to fathom. Would people prefer we ignore these problems? I doubt that.
The current environment of distrust can be traced to the City Council’s 4-3 vote early this month to scrap the INS cross-deputization proposal. If passed, it would have been the first program of its kind in the nation, and an opportunity for the Salt Lake City Police Department and Chief Ruben Ortega to set the standard for how other cities might do the same.
To say that the Hispanic community was wary of the plan is something of an understatement. Latinos packed City Hall during a Sept. 1 hearing before the vote, telling City Council members that such a plan would only lead to more profiling, or a tendency on the part of law enforcement to place certain groups of people usually those with darker skin above others as crime suspects. This, in turn, would only exacerbate tensions between the minority community and police.
Ortega argued that the proposed program was urgently needed to help facilitate the arrest and deportation of undocumented Mexicans selling drugs on city streets. He had the figures to back his case, too, stating that 87 percent of his department’s drug arrests were detained by federal Immigration and Naturalization Service agents as undocumented aliens.
Even before the vote, however, conflicting reports began to muddy the waters. One figure quoted by police Capt. Roger Winkler put the number of felony drug arrests involving undocumented aliens as low as 10 and 15 percent.
Never mind whose figures are more accurate. Matched with the Police Department’s advocacy of the INS program, the suspect numbers have soured the Hispanic community’s already poor image of the Police Department. Councilwoman Milner, who, not surprisingly, voted against the plan, contends that the summit is Ortega’s attempt to save face in the wake of the 4-3 vote.
They’re wiping the mud off their faces, Milner says. This is a very deliberate way to assemble a forum very undemocratic. Have they ever thought of empowering people in an issue-oriented community gathering?
Chris Seguro, executive director of the Utah Coalition of La Raza, holds to a more mild brand of concern over the issue. Diplomatic, he phoned Lt. Kirk regarding the summit. I said, Ã”Man, I don’t think you’re aware of the problems this is going to create when it hits.’ He told me he had already sent out the invitations, Seguro says.
Michael Martinez, a local attorney, points out that had INS cross-deputization passed, it would have been a major feather in the cap of Ortega, who could boast of its imminent implementation before a scheduled visit by U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno Sept. 26. Cross-deputizing police officers was an idea sparked during Sen. Orrin Hatch’s crime summit hosted in Salt Lake City last year, which was attended by Corradini, Reno and Ortega.
I’ve been told that I wasn’t invited to this gathering because I ask too many questions, says Martinez, a highly vocal critic of cross-deputization. True to his reputation, Martinez does have a lot of questions, and a lot to say about the Hispanic Crime Summit.
Basically, what this summit is saying is that Hispanics cannot work with other groups, which is ridiculous, he says. There is a cycle of mistrust here that no one wants to hurtle. For some reason the department doesn’t seem to want Hispanics involved in existing crime-fighting programs, like Neighborhood Watch. Why reinvent the wheel when we have solutions that already exist? Until we all come together we won’t fully realize that there are a lot of different elements to crime.
The fact that Ortega recently turned down an invitation to attend the annual Cesar Chavez Peace and Justice Awards, the Hispanic community’s most prestigious event, is a sign of how badly dialogue has deteriorated, says Martinez.
Clearly frustrated at being misunderstood, Lt. Kirk refutes allegations that the Hispanic Crime Summit was timed for damage control. Even before the City Council vote we recognized that we needed to meet on this issue because the community was divided.
As for the summit’s name, well, consider department statistics from 1995 to 1997. They show that 56 percent of all homicide victims were Hispanic. Of that number, half were undocumented aliens. Clearly then, the Hispanic community suffers from more than its share of crime. And if it’s the Hispanic community who is most sensitive to the way solutions for crime are proposed, as made clear by the cross-deputization uproar, why not involve the Hispanic community specifically?
This isn’t the end of the issue. We’re still faced with a problem, Lt. Kirk says. Hispanic Crime Summit Generates Steam DC75D968-1372-FCBB-8396AEDD3A643D0A 2007-09-06 14:14:44.0 1 1 0 1998-09-24 00:00:00.0 20 0
Remember the hallway monitors of old? History. Remember the days when high school graffiti amounted to amateurish scrawls on desktops and bathroom walls? Also history.
It’s no coincidence that the two are connected. Vandalism at Salt Lake Valley high schools, along with the age-old problem of truancy, has been an expensive nuisance long enough. So much so, that, one-by-one, schools are adding high-tech camera surveillance systems to monitor areas both inside and outside areas. Outside cameras, which look almost like Art Deco lamps perched atop school roofs, can even zoom in on license plates as suspect cars peel out of parking lots.
But vandalism aside, these surveillance systems will also keep an eye on student behavior, and guard buildings during the summer off-season and against late-night break-ins. A complete system with 15 interior cameras, four exterior cameras, and 16-frame television monitor displaying each camera’s view has already been installed at Highland High School. Identical systems will soon follow with installations at East and West high schools. Over at the Jordan School District, exterior cameras monitoring parking lots are already in place at Hillcrest, Copper Hills and Jordan high schools.
For some students, it all smacks of sinister intrusion a la Big Brother, or the more embarrassing Candid Camera television series. The real complaint, however, is that school district money wasn’t spent on air conditioning first. Everybody says it’s lame; nobody likes it, said a Highland High student who requested anonymity. A lot of my friends think we’re older than that and should be trusted more. We don’t need to be watched constantly. My only problem is that they could have used the money for things we need more.
Highland High School principal Ken Powell politely, but firmly disagrees. While local school districts work to secure eventual funding for air conditioning systems, he relishes the chance to demonstrate features of his school’s new security system, zooming in on student scenes on the track field, parking lots, hallways, and even the outskirts of nearby Sugarhouse Park. Let’s look in the park and see who’s lounging around, he says, aiming the camera toward a spot of trees and bushes.
Sluffing class aside, the new system is more about maintaining a safe environment for students and school property, he says. No one watches the camera’s monitor on a 24-hour basis, but a recording system does. If vandalism or a break-in occurs, the school’s security officer may simply play the tape back for time of occurrence and a profile of the suspects.
Two recent examples of vandalism point to a need for the system: an especially violent trashing of a men’s room last spring, and the looting of a car parked in back of the school. These are sad affairs, says Powell. If a student has complaints about the cameras, I’ll just have to tell him life’s going to be that way while he’s in high school.
There are limits as to how far the camera eye can see, of course. Bathrooms and locker rooms are off limits. As for the hallways, Highland High School Police Officer Lamar Ewell says a strategically-placed camera simply compensates for what he can’t keep track of. It’d be no different than if I was standing in the hall 10 feet away from a student, Ewell said.
While not cheap, these systems are still far less expensive than new air-conditioning systems in every Salt Lake City School District high school. They’re also less expensive than the amount of vandalism schools are expected to incur over the years. From July of ’97 to July of this year, for example, East, West and Highland high schools paid for an estimated $65,000 in vandalism, says Randy Johns, a building inspector for the district.
There is one caveat in this new urge to keep a closer eye on schools, however. No one can guarantee that the systems will actually prevent vandalism. Later down the line we can really look to see if it’s curtailing the problem, Johns said. Big Brother Comes to Highland High DC75D997-1372-FCBB-83B6ACF6C770B350 2007-09-06 14:14:44.0 1 1 0 1998-09-24 00:00:00.0 23 0
The website of Kappa Sigma’s national headquarters in Charlottesville, Va., wastes little time in spelling out a mission statement for its various chapters: Kappa Sigmas are expected to act as gentlemen at all times, and the Fraternity must demand the highest standards of personal conduct, it reads. The Fraternity should instill a sense of responsibility and integrity. The dignity of all persons shall always be respected; intolerant or abusive behavior cannot be tolerated.
Based on recent reports and a host of nasty, horrific allegations, that mission probably went unread by some members of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity house at the University of Utah.
In fact, if first- and second-hand accounts are anything to go by, a few Kappa Sigs can be pushy, arrogant, and ethically-challenged. What led the U.’s Dean of Students to place the fraternity house on probation? Why did the fraternity’s national headquarters suspend all activities with the U. chapter?
It’s no small matter when an 18-year-old woman attends your fraternity’s Sept. 4 party and blacks out after only two mixed drinks, then wakes up the next morning in the fraternity house wearing someone else’s clothes not to mention some bruises and apparent carpet burns. Questions become more urgent when a medical test of her most private parts turns up positive for semen. And matters get worse still when another woman comes forward to police, alleging she too was sexually assaulted at the fraternity during a party last July.
Initial investigations into the incident weren’t easy. The stonewalling attitude of fraternity members frustrated Salt Lake City police detective Heather Stringfellow to such an extent, she threatened to gather blood samples from the entire house unless cooperation became evident. Now she has two fraternity members as suspects, and awaits test results that might determine if the young woman at the Sept. 4 party was drugged. Rohypnol, a legal sleeping pill in Latin America, has been increasingly used as a date-rape drug in the United States. Slipped into a drink, it can render people unconscious long enough for sexual activity without knowledge or consent.
Since the story broke in the U.’s student newspaper, the Daily Utah Chronicle, the young woman has reluctantly come forward in an anonymous letter: Somebody knows what happened that night, and that’s what I want to know. I’m not out to cause hell for the Kappa Sigs. All I know is that whatever happened wasn’t right, she wrote.
Phone calls to fraternity president Jason Ellis regarding this case and other questions about the Kappa Sigma house were not returned.
If the young woman’s urine test returns positive for date-rape drugs, Stringfellow’s suspects could face charges of rape as a federal offense. If negative, possible charges could be reduced to a state offense. Based on her investigation so far, Stringfellow suspects the woman was driven up to the parking lot of Primary Children’s Hospital where a fraternity member had sex with her, then taken back to the Kappa Sigma house where a second fraternity member took his turn. The woman has no memory of either event.
State statute says that if you’re intoxicated to the point of unconsciousness or unaware that the act is occurring, it doesn’t constitute consent, Stringfellow said.
Fraternity president Ellis was very cooperative in trying to find out who might have been with the woman, said Stringfellow, but shocked when he learned both suspects were Kappa Sigs. The first was named by two men attending the party that night. The second suspect, who allegedly had sex with the woman later that night inside the house, phoned Stringfellow, then talked with her at the police station.
It wasn’t a bad conscience that led the second suspect to talk with police, though. Stringellow told Kappa Sigma members beforehand that she had DNA samples from semen, and would squeeze out a suspect by matching them with blood samples if need be. Following that, the suspect came forward.
Even before a second suspect entered the scene, Kappa Sigma hosted parties just days after the incident made headlines. They were partying down while this victim is going through pure hell, Stringfellow said. I was disappointed with that.
But a check with staffers at the Daily Utah Chronicle shows that manners and cordial behavior aren’t exactly strong points with Kappa Sigma members of recent years. Soon after a Chronicle reporter completed a story about the serious injury a Kappa Sigma member suffered while jumping roofs during a party, Ellis and two other fraternity brothers marched to the newspaper offices, demanding the story be pulled.
They said we couldn’t run it because this guy’s family contributed a lot of money to the university, said Shawn P. Bailey, the paper’s opinion page editor.
Bailey told Ellis he would have to talk to the paper’s Editor in Chief Stephen Spencer. Otherwise, there was nothing he could do. Then, says Bailey, Ellis invited him to go outside, hinting that violence was imminent. He told me, ’You have a bad attitude and a stupid smirk.’ When I declined to go outside he told me he was sick of people like me people who have nothing better to do than research cool people like him. Then he left. He was a natural P.R. guy, Bailey said.
With or without good media relations, the situation isn’t getting better for Kappa Sigma. Nor is it getting any worse, really. Allegations of rape are notoriously hard to prove.
All the same, another woman has talked to detective Stringfellow after reporting to police in July that she was sexually assaulted during a Kappa Sigma party. Unlike the 12-hour stretch in which the 18-year-old slipped in and out of consciousness, this second woman alleges she was taken advantage of after several drinks. She didn’t want to follow up criminal charges with it, she just wanted her report filed and on record in case other people came forward. My impression was that she was apprehensive about doing anything against the fraternity, Stringfellow said.
For now, the fraternity’s probationary status has nothing to do with the allegations and everything to do with reports that the 18-year-old woman was served alcohol inside Kappa Sigma. Cherry Ridges, the U.’s fraternity and sorority coordinator, said probation status can last up to 180 days, but doesn’t necessarily have to. A whole lot of ifs can happen here, Ridges said.
Mitchell Wilson, executive director of Kappa Sigma Fraternity’s national headquarters in Charlottesville, Va., takes a larger view of the fraternity house. We suspended the charter because of these allegations and some incidents earlier this year, Wilson, in staid tones, said. We are reviewing the entire situation, and fully cooperating with those involved in the investigation.
The incidents earlier this year involve the aforementioned roof-top tomfoolery, and what Wilson calls violations regarding recruitment practices. Wilson declined to elaborate on the nature of those violations, but said they had nothing to do with hazing.
While it’s important to remember that no charges have been filed in the case, don’t think that certain forces aren’t falling into place on both sides. One Kappa Sigma suspect has already retained an attorney, Wally Bugden, who wasted no time in zeroing in on the 18-year-old woman’s account of events.
Why isn’t anyone wondering if her selective memory is not a function of being embarrassed by her own behavior make that promiscuous behavior, Bugden said. What you have here is morning-after regret over consensual behavior the night before.
Detective Stringfellow said Bugden even phoned to say the alleged victim’s parents should give their daughter a spanking.
Denise Clark, executive director at Utah’s Coalition Against Sexual Assault, bristles at his words. Clark has had face-to-face conversations with the woman, and has confidence in her accounts. If this woman was so ashamed and embarrassed by this, why on earth would she tell people about it? Clark asked.
Alcohol alone would not have caused the woman to lose consciousness, and the chance she was drugged is very likely, Clark said. I would be really surprised if the state she described was due to alcohol. She’s said she knows her own alcohol tolerance level very well, and I believe her.
Whether careless mishaps or calculated plans, reckless allegations or true events, there’s plenty to learn from all this. Namely, alcohol adds confusion to already confusing events. Secondly, be careful with whom you party. The responsibility of the rape falls squarely on the rapist, Clark said. But there’s a responsibility to understand what circumstances and situations can increase or reduce our risk of being raped. Being at a wild party with large amounts of alcohol can increase your risk, but it still doesn’t give anyone a license to rape. There’s a good chance that this woman at Kappa Sigma was targeted. Fraternity House of Ill Repute DC75D9E5-1372-FCBB-83861E0112FFBE96 2007-09-06 14:14:45.0 1 1 0 1998-10-01 00:00:00.0 22 0
Since our report last week on mentally ill prisoners at the Utah State Prison, inmate David Montoya, who suffers from schizophrenia, was moved from medium security to the mental health unit at C Block in the Wasatch Unit.
Montoya has now served more than 10 years for an attempted rape conviction. He spent one year in the Utah State Mental Hospital and if the Utah Board of Pardons sticks by its decision, Montoya could actually serve 16 years of a 1- to 15-year sentence.
In the past several years, Montoya has received little or no therapy or programs to ready him for his eventual release.
Last week, we reported that Montoya was given the cold shoulder by the Disability Law Center, the agency charged with representing disabled inmates. But Frazier Nelson, the agency’s executive director, says that isn’t true. She said the agency has been working with the Utah Department of Corrections and Montoya’s court appointed attorney to get the inmate into a more appropriate setting.
Nelson said the Disability Law Center visits the prison weekly in an effort to aid mentally ill inmates. Update: Montoya Moved to Mental Health Unit DC75DD60-1372-FCBB-83459EF00345EDDD 2007-09-06 14:14:45.0 1 1 0 1998-10-01 00:00:00.0 31 0
The arrest of two petition signature gatherers in September unfolded in a small drama involving police and a court hearing. It also shed light on a political tool Americans have become all too familiar with money.
Traveling professional signature gatherers, John Guido and John Slevin, descended on Murray’s Salt Lake County Fairgrounds in August to collect voter signatures in favor of a measure making English Utah’s official language. Cited for trespassing, they were later released after attorney Brian Barnard reached a compromise with the county.
Events took a different turn when the pair collected signatures at the Utah State Fairpark. Although Guido and Slevin had a paid booth inside the fair, courtesy of their employer, National Voter Outreach, they opted to work an area with more foot traffic near the parking area lot. Police protested; Guido and Slevin refused to desist; and a miniature melee broke out, ending in Slevin being booked into Salt Lake County Jail.
Barnard, a cooperating attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, took their cause into court a second time. Guido and Slevin, who could not be contacted for this story, have since taken their signature boards to California for other petitions. Left in their wake, however, are some facts about voter-petition machinery that may shock everyday people, a lesson in First Amendment rights, and another ironic twist in the ACLU agenda.
For Barnard, the First Amendment issues are self-evident: While the state can regulate political activities and public forums on its property, it cannot ban them based on content. Public property is fair game for political activity, so long as it’s conducted civilly. In the State Fairpark incident, Slevin and Guido were cited for trespassing and obstructing what Barnard contends is clearly a state road inside the fairpark. It was simply a way of punishing and intimidating him, Barnard says of Slevin’s arrest. That road is 50-feet wide. One person cannot block a road that wide.
Blocking or not, it was Rep. Tammy Rowan’s (R-Orem) English-only bill which died earlier this year with a 10-8 House committee vote that started it all. Insistent ’til the end, she hopes this current petition drive will put the issue squarely before the Legislature for a vote during next year’s session. The only way to do that, though, is by way of voter signatures. With more than 50,000 signatures gathered so far, that prospect looks extremely likely. So, too, does the prospect of bitter opposition from minority groups, who see the bill as condescending, and driven by a thinly-disguised motive of racism.
Barnard’s involvement in the case is all the more interesting based on his, and the ACLU’s, firm denouncement of the petition Slevin and Guido were pushing. I wouldn’t sign it, Barnard says. I think the proposed legislation is offensive, unwise, and probably unconstitutional. But, they have a right to circulate that petition.
Such an attitude dovetails nicely into one similarly held by Carson City, Nev.-based National Voter Outreach (NVO). Like Barnard, this professional petition-management firm also believes in the integrity of the American political process. In fact, it will take on just about any political cause hoping to make it to ballot or state legislature for a price. Without disclosing his firm’s exact fee for the Utah petition drive which is jointly sponsored by Utahns For a Common Language and the D.C.-based U.S. English National Voter Outreach owner and CEO Rick Arnold says his firm’s billing is in the millions.
It’s another installment in the business of politics, and NVO isn’t the only company in the business. Some half dozen petition-management firms nationwide will walk political action groups through the maze of forms and requirements for filing petitions, then enlist a shock troop of petition gathers who might earn up to $1.50 per signature. A simple call to the answering machine of NVO Utah coordinator will tell you just how much money plays into the drive to make English the state’s official language: Good morning, good afternoon and good day people! This is a great way to make great money! Just leave your name and number and I’ll get back with you!
Where, exactly, does the profit-motive end and democracy begin? It’s a legitimate question, but one Arnold says side-steps the real issue, which is recent government attempts to make the petition process more difficult. That’s especially true in Utah, where two November ballots will ask voters to decide if more signatures should be required before petitions are allowed inside the voting booth.
Voters are discerning enough to decide these issues for themselves once they make it to ballot. Our job is to simply give people a chance to vote on these issues, Arnold says. The method used to collect signatures is virtually irrelevant. What matters are the restrictions and limitations put on the process which limit people’s access to ballot measures. In my opinion, it ought to be easier.
NVO Utah coordinator Ed Cardwell wouldn’t disclose how much his petition collectors make per signature, but admitted that some volunteers for English as Utah’s official language wince at the thought of being paid. They feel that strongly about this issue, Cardwell said.
In Orem, Rowan views the Guido-Slevin affair with regret. The drive for English-only isn’t about in-your-face tactics she says. As for the profit-motive currently driving her bill for the Legislature, well, that’s just politics. I think the whole system is that way, she says. You either have to have someone big backing you or a large consortium backing you. I do think it’s tragic that even if you have volunteers you still have to have a lot of money to get started. The Language of English-Only Is Money DC75DDDD-1372-FCBB-83DA9241EDF1A119 2007-09-06 14:14:45.0 1 1 0 1998-10-08 00:00:00.0 20 0
For all the political and religious rhetoric, it is sometimes difficult in Utah to remember that abortion is legal.
In the United States, a woman has the right to choose. Right? Well, not exactly.
On April 1, Tina Wedlake, with an 8-month-old infant in her arms, found out that her pregnancy test was positive. It wasn’t good news.
As Tina would soon discover, for a Mormon woman on Medicaid, getting an abortion can be a good trick.
Tina and husband, Eric, also have a 14-year-old daughter. They weren’t ready for another child. After much discussion, Tina sought out her obstetrician for an abortion. She knew, however, that her physician, Dr. Scott Rallison, was a member of the LDS Church and would not perform abortions.
I said I need to know if I can get a referral for an abortion. The doctor’s receptionist said no, we won’t give you one, Tina said.
Tina followed up with an office visit and asked Dr. Rallison for the referral in person. But in a City Weekly interview, she said the doctor, knowing she was LDS, turned her down for religious reasons.
When I went in to talk to Dr. Rallison, he said, no. Ã”If you approach me again on this, I will have you excommunicated.’
Dr. Rallison disputes Tina’s claim and said he did not deny her an abortion referral. He said that although he doesn’t perform abortions, he believes a woman should have the right to choose.
But Tina stands by her story. He denied doing that? That’s odd, because he wouldn’t give me one, she said with a note of surprise. I told him I really didn’t want to carry this baby. But I was told by him that without a referral, I couldn’t get an abortion.
Tina was in a spot, because as a Medicaid recipient she must have a referral before Medicaid will pay for the abortion. Beyond that, it is difficult to cut through the federal bureaucracy to change care providers in a short time frame the time frame necessary for a late first trimester or even a second trimester abortion.
And the Wedlake’s could not afford $400 for an abortion and have enough money left for rent, Tina noted.
This baby was an accident, explains Eric. This is a child that we really didn’t want and really can’t afford.
And then there was the shame factor. Tina informed her bishop of the pregnancy and the problem she was having seeking an abortion. The bishop said that I had to carry the baby.
In Tina’s Relief Society meeting, the subject of abortion was coincidentally on the front burner. The following week in Relief Society, the topic was abortion. They said anyone having an abortion would go to Satan and be damned.
Eric got the same lesson in his priesthood meeting, accompanied by LDS pamphlets on the evils of abortion.
Between the doctor and the church, the Wedlake’s accepted the pregnancy. But now eight months pregnant, Tina’s resignation has turned to anger. I feel discriminated against. Just because I’m on Medicaid, I don’t have the same rights as everyone else.
She’s miffed at the LDS Church, too. I knew if I did (get an abortion), I would be excommunicated. Whenever we have needed a helping hand, the church has been great. But what they don’t tell you is that women don’t have any free agency.
A spokesman for the LDS Church said abortion is taken very seriously and could, in fact, be grounds for excommunication. President (Gordon B.) Hinckley made it clear that abortion is an ugly thing that eventually brings sorrow and regret, said Dan Rascone, the LDS manager of media relations.
Reading from the church guidelines, Rascone said: Formal discipline may be necessary for church members who submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for abortion.
We hope any LDS doctor would abide by these standards, Rascone added. But we don’t tell them how to do their business. Mormon Woman on Medicaid: I Wasn’t Allowed to Get an Abortion DC75DE79-1372-FCBB-8306330B4DF0A204 2007-09-06 14:14:45.0 1 1 0 1998-10-15 00:00:00.0 22 0
Andrea Moore Emmett
Anyone who worried there might be a new crack-down on polygamists, can rest assured that the cushy arrangement polygamists enjoy in Utah isn’t going to change much, if at all.
When Gov. Mike Leavitt made his now infamous guffaw concerning plural marriage perhaps being an expres