Best of Utah 2002: People | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
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Best of Utah

Best of Utah 2002: People





Zach Frankel

For most water district officials, and Central Utah Project (CUP) officials especially, Frankel is water torture personified. As Utah Rivers Council executive director, he exposes their vast, outrageously expensive projects for what they really are: unnecessary pork projects that only temporarily delay water conservation efforts. This year, seven years of work by his staff finally killed an ill-conceived CUP plan to send water to Juab County rather than fast-growing Salt Lake County. Frankel and crew also halted prospective construction of dams along the Bear River. The man is a river of activist energy and common sense. Even Groenewold at Families Against Incinerator Risk wanted to kindly defer his award to Frankel.


Poplar Grove community

Led by Community Council Chairwoman Edie Trimmer, this West Side community really combined forces and passion to fight the corporate empire of Union Pacific. UP decided to reactivate a long-unused line, despite the fact that it ran smack dab through the middle of residential neighborhoods. The community solicited support from Mayor Rocky Anderson, who sued to stop the railroad’s plans, and then, along with the Salt Lake School District, began looking into whether to complain about inadequate crossing signals. If it’s a lost cause, it was, at least, a good one.

Readers’ Choice


Save Our Canyons

Well, wouldn’t you know it. On their 30th anniversary, Save Our Canyons, the group of citizens that banded together to “save our canyons,” gets top nod for their work to protect the environment from big developers and the lackeys in federal and state government that would hand over our precious mountains on a platter. Alexis Kelner and Gale Dick launched the movement 30 years ago and have made a significant difference, including the designation of the Lone Peak Wilderness Area. The battles have been long and not easy. Save Our Canyons has gone head-to-head with Snowbird, Snowbasin, Solitude, Alta and others in an effort to protect the environment and the quality of life for each individual. Thank you, Save Our Canyons.

2. Liquor Laws

3. Education


July 24 Liquor Ruling

On July 24 last year, the justices of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver handed down their finding that Utah’s liquor laws concerning the advertising of wine and liquor were “illogical.” The 10th Circuit Court said that allowing the advertising of beer and not wine and liquor didn’t make sense. Both, after all, are alcohol. Whether the justices knew July 24 is the “Mormon Holiday” is suspect, but we may never know. There may be another boot to drop, however. With the Olympics over, the Legislature is sure to eye up this issue come January. Cheers.

Readers’ Choice


Mitt Romney

Well, it was his job, wasn’t it? Besides, admit it: You’ve always wanted to throw a “Mitt fit” and unload a few F-bombs on some teenagers, too.

2. Mike Leavitt

3. Rocky Anderson


State Vegetable

The battle looked to be a tense one—would it be the Spanish sweet onion or the sugar beet that would come out on top in the legislative contest over which one would be named “state vegetable?” But prudent lawmakers came up with a carefully-considered middle ground. The Spanish sweet onion would draw state vegetable honors, but the sugar beet would be dubbed “historic state vegetable.” Lobbyists on both sides walked away happy, and the general public was left to puzzle over why a minute of their tax-supported time was wasted on pondering this weighty matter.


Orrin Hatch dethroned as Senate Judiciary Chairman

If there was one thing you could count on during the Clinton administration, it was the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Utah’s own Orrin Hatch, stalling confirmation hearings for Clinton’s appointments to the federal bench. But when Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont defected from Republican ranks to swing the Senate majority, Hatch got the boot in favor of Patrick Leahy. Hatch suddenly woke up and proclaimed in January that the nearly 100 vacant seats in the federal judiciary needed prompt filling—but that’s somebody else’s worry now, ain’t it, Orrin?


U of U President Bernie Machen

Taking on Utah’s gun lobby, not to mention our gun-lusting Legislature, takes an extra measure of courage any day. Given that the Legislature likes to sink its teeth into the University of Utah on a regular basis, the fact that Machen found enough fortitude to challenge Utah gun law is even more remarkable. At long last, someone finally told Utah lawmakers in no uncertain terms that concealed weapons have no rational purpose in an educational atmosphere. Unless, of course, our lawmakers want to give students the ability to intimidate alleged “anti-Mormon” professors. Of course, these same lawmakers rarely mention the fact that BYU also prohibits concealed weapons from its classrooms.

Readers’ Choice


The Legacy Highway

If the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver decides that indeed, government officials did lie and break the law in the frenzied effort to get the Legacy Highway approved, using any other word to describe it would be just plain wrong. It is a scandal. The court case cuts to the heart of the issue: instead of a simple initiative to alleviate traffic congestion, is the Legacy Highway really a ruse to help land speculators and developers cash in on some expensive turf? And did state officials lie about potential costs of an environmentally-friendly option so they could build as far west as possible and further enrich those who hope to finance northwest sprawl? A lot has been said about the evil mayor and activists who brought these questions up. But if there is any validity at all to their accusations, a lot more will be said about how breaking the law cost Utah taxpayers millions.

2. Tom Green

3. Redistricting


Redistricting 2001

After the 2000 Census showed lots of growth in the state, but not a whole lot of it in the Big City, the Republican Legislature went about carving up the state’s capital like so much chopped liver. That, in fact, is what the Democrats look like now. Members of the minority party have been combined in districts throughout the Wasatch Front, assuring them of an even more diminutive spot in the state’s hierarchy. Criticism came from almost every level—from Republican Sen. Bob Bennett down to city councils—but the huge minority growth in Salt Lake City was ignored anyway.

Readers’ Choice


Rocky Anderson

Even though the mayor of Torino, Italy showed a little more muscle waving the Olympic flag, Salt Lakers were still proud of their mayor. Ballot after ballot named Rocky Anderson (or just plain Rocky) the best elected official. It was a landslide—evidence of how favorably people respond to resolute leadership. Time and time again, Rocky has taken a principled stand on issues that his community holds dear. The only complaint that has stung him at all was that he worked too hard. Needless to say, Salt Lakers have forgiven him that egregious sin.

2. Jim Matheson

3. Mike Leavitt


Mitt Romney

As Olympic traffic backs up and comes to a standstill near Snowbasin, Erik Estrada look-alike Willard “Mitt” Romney leaps out of his vintage Rambler and gets things moving again. A young volunteer later claims that Trooper Romney resorted to highly vernacular language (including the all-purpose Anglo-Saxon “F-word”) to motivate the laggard motorists. Later, Mr. Romney revealed that he was actually speaking in tongues, and that the word in question was in fact the Reformed Egyptian “phuck.”



Repeat any word often enough and it soon loses its meaning. Can we think of no other noun for something grand, important, and long lasting? Well, after New Yorkers, Utahns are known for their overriding sense of self-importance. Actually, the only other institution that uses this word with the same sort of regularity is the Greek fraternity. Do we really want to follow that example? LDS church promotional films, Utah highway projects, the Winter Olympics afterglow, legislative speeches, funeral speeches, political interviews and on and on and on. What we really need is an astrophysicist to remind us that nothing lasts forever. But even when our sun runs out of fuel, explodes and takes the rest of our universe with it, this now meaningless word will no doubt echo on into the nether regions of another galaxy.


Rep. Jim Hansen

It still remains to be seen whether Jim Matheson, Utah’s Democratic representative in Washington, will be able to win a reelection. The district he represents now includes faraway conservative towns like La Verkin and Virgin. But what isn’t in doubt is that Matheson’s Republican colleague Jim Hansen was too scared to run in his new district. Republicans can probably still retain the seat, but they will have to actually build a campaign. Ever reluctant to answer critics, that’s something Hansen just wasn’t prepared to do. Adios, amigo.

Readers’ Choice


Gayle Ruzicka

We should just retire this category in Gayle’s honor—as the local media’s go-to source for a ranting sound bite, she has too many opportunities every year to sound ridiculous. This year, she opposed Porn Czar Paula Houston’s proposed amendment to the state’s indecency statute, fearing that it might protect “anybody who calls their work artistic.” This is the same woman, incidentally, who lamented on the Eagle Forum website that “government seems to think it should be in control of our lives and dictate what we can do.” Apparently that’s only a problem when government disagrees with you, Gayle.

2. Mike Leavitt

3. Porn Czar


Mayor Matt Godfrey vs. the Ogden City Council

Take one well-meaning but annoyingly energetic young mayor, add a stunted, backward-thinking coalition of erstwhile business people and mid-echelon public servants, and what do you get? Constant infighting that, we’re reasonably sure, will lead to a hair-pulling, face-scratching fight. In the past two years, the mayor and city council have clashed over everything from the future of the Ogden City Mall to city logos. And in the meantime, Ogden is still wallowing in a deepening blight.



Scott Carrier

Scott Carrier is known for his stories in Esquire magazine, he’s a producer for public radio and Hearing His stories have appeared on This American Life and he is the author of the book Running After Antelope. Recently his story about Afghanistan, “Over There,” appeared in Harper’s. Scott lives in the Avenues and writes often about life in and around Salt Lake City. Read his book, but please don’t stalk him.

Readers’ Choice


Robert Kirby (Salt Lake Tribune)

He is the Chris Rock of Mormonism. OK, he’s not as acidic or raunchy as Rock. But where Rock can tell black jokes because he is black, Kirby can point up foibles in the Mormon culture and not be called anti-Mormon. After all, he is LDS. And if anyone ever doubted that Mormons have a funny bone, Kirby may be living proof that they do. Unless, of course, he’s displaying the effect of some double-recessive gene that makes him a tiny minority among his more buttoned-down brethren. Too much analysis, of course, isn’t a good thing. Let’s just put it this way: If Kirby is the one, true barometer of Utah culture, there may be hope after all.

2. Rolly & Wells (Salt Lake Tribune)

3. Bill Frost (Salt Lake City Weekly)

Readers’ Choice


Fox 13

As sure as Best of Utah rolls around every year, our readers vote Fox 13 the Best TV News Station. Why? Is it because they can’t stay up till 10 p.m.? We doubt it. It has more to do with the genuine way that Fox brings its newscast to those who don’t care to watch another Law & Order rerun. It also has a lot to do with Hope Woodside’s million-dollar smile, Bob Evans solid demeanor, Jodi Saeland’s knowledgeable weather forecasts and Bob Runge’s historic view of sports. This is the fourth year running that Fox 13 has led our balloting. And in the world of TV news, that is no fluke.

2. KSL 5

3. KUTV 2


Sterling Poulson (KUTV 2)

We always knew weatherman Sterling Poulson was cool, but we had no idea he was into music. No, he doesn’t front some weekend cover band, belting out Kool & The Gang tunes at Club 90 for three sets a night and drinking his pay in Hefeweizen—that’s Scott “White Chocolate” Swan from KTVX 4, ain’t it? Poulson’s calling is much more highbrow than that: He’s the founder and music director of the Choral Arts Society of Utah, wielding a conductor’s baton over a 100-voice choir for up to six concerts a year. Bravissimo!


Jodi Saeland

Some are convinced she has a locker full of wigs. But we think Fox 13’s Jodi Saeland’s locks are the real deal. True, her ’dos seem to fluctuate from one week to the next. Recent styles included a mussed-up Angie Dickinson morning-after look and a snappy David Bowie hairdo circa Aladdin Sane. But whether there’s a Sinead O’Connor skull lurking underneath or not, we’ll take Saeland’s styles over Dan Pope’s or Mark Eubank’s any day.


Tom Welch

Do those fancy-pants New York TV guys think they can outsmart the yokels in Utah? No way. For best performance by a Utahn in a defend-your-ass role, Tom Welch narrowly beat out Gordon B. Hinckley, who viewers remember for his cagey responses to fellow old codger Mike Wallace. Mr. Welch’s engaging down-home Utah drawl clearly was more appealing than the evasive and nervous-looking Mike Leavitt, who was also interviewed.

Readers’ Choice


Allie MacKay (Fox 13)

Love her or hate her (pick one), Fox 13 Good Day Utah features reporter Allie MacKay is quicker-witted than any blonde has a right to be so early in the morning. Just imagine having to find something vaguely interesting locally to work with for the morning newscast five days a week, 52 weeks a year, and yet still manage to maintain a sharp comic edge and a news-hottie image—yes, Allie also placed quite high in the Sexiest TV Anchorwoman voting. She’s far too spirited to be shackled to an anchor chair, as much as the humor-challenged would love to strap her down.

2. Mitch English (KUWB 30)

3. Rod Decker (KUTV 2)


Terry Wood

A time-tested pro who is as unflappable as he is articulate, KSL’s Terry Wood is one cool cat. The rock-steady foundation of KSL’s morning and noon Eyewitness News, Wood even makes his dead weight co-anchor look good. More than ready-for-prime-time, you gotta wonder why KSL keeps Terry hidden in their daytime lineup. He’s smoooooooth.

Readers’ Choice


Radio From Hell (X96)

“Our listeners will never know how much we appreciate them,” says a sincerely moved Bill Allred—and there’s plenty more where that came from. Allred and longtime partners Kerry Jackson and Gina Barberi have recently re-upped with X96 for another three years of Radio From Hell, the morning radio show that subtly (and sometimes not-so-subtly) spits in the faux-laughing face of the morning radio show concept. Counting up RFH’s Best of Utah wins, along with the competing morning shows that have fallen by the wayside in the past year alone, you’d think Jackson would be more confident. “They’re going to start advertising us on the sides of buses,” he says. “So it’s pretty much all over now.”

2. Kickin’ Judy (KRCL 90.9)

3. Chunga & Mister (The End 107.5)


Cael Sanderson

Wrestling has traditionally been a Midwest sporting phenomenon in the popularity stakes. But Heber City native Cael Sanderson astounding—nay, near superhuman—record at Iowa State was enough to make the entire nation stand up and take notice. Sanderson already had the spotlight after 154 victories in a row. Then he bettered it with five more wins, for 159. This year, he clinched his fourth NCAA wrestling title. Few thought he could maintain his streak when he switched from the 184-pound division to 197 pounds. But that was simply another move up, as it were. Our man remained undefeated. Did we already mention that Sanderson is an astounding—nay, superhuman—athlete? Would someone please remind us who Rulon Gardner is?


Andrei “The Russian Czar” Kirilenko

Move over, “Mailman”—there’s a new nickname in town. Veteran Jazz play-by-play man “Hot Rod” Hundley came up with the moniker for the 20-year-old Russian rookie Kirilenko, and has apparently determined that he’s going to make it stick if he has to use it every single time Kirilenko touches the ball. It may not warrant a place in the Nickname Hall of Fame alongside Iceman, Magic and Chocolate Thunder, but it’s good to know that whenever Karl Malone finally does retire, there’s a next nicknamed generation.


Andrei “AK-47” Kirilenko

Vietnam era veterans remember the Russian-made AK-47 for its distinctive “pop-pop-pop” and its lethal versatility as a jungle warfare weapon. So much so that some American troops used captured ones in favor of the CAR-15 or M-16. During Utah Jazz training camp, someone gave Andrei Kirilinko the nickname of “AK-47” for his initials and jersey number. It didn’t seem to stick, and Hot Rod was using his own favorite, “The Russian Czar.” While neither nickname is particularly warm and fuzzy, AK-47 does boast some cleverness. After falling out of general usage, sports reporter Carl Arky referred to Kirilenko as AK-47 during a recent broadcast summary. So, which will it be?


The Singles Ward

It’s not like they created an imaginary critic or anything, but the Utah-based producers of The Singles Ward still need to do some thinking about taking creative license with quotes. In a move Halestorm Entertainment called a joke, they cobbled together quotes from negative reviews by local critics such that they appeared laudatory—”Cameos … equal laughs … fresh-faced cast … amusing” read the comments attributed to Deseret News critic Jeff Vice. The ads were quickly pulled, though City Weekly’s own 2-star review somehow became praise for “Plenty of charm!” in a subsequent ad.



Eric Snider’s “Snide Remarks”

Who says no one in Utah County has a sense of humor? Well, we have on occasion, but never mind. Provo’s Daily Herald employs one of the state’s funniest writers in Eric Snider, a Renaissance man who also co-founded the now-defunct Garrens comedy troupe and doubles quite capably as the Herald’s film critic. His satirical insider takes on Utah culture—including his brilliant series of Olympics columns—are often hilariously caustic, enough to inspire plenty of humorless angry responses from Utah County readers. OK, so maybe Eric’s the one exception.


Fen-Phen Attorneys

Law firms that focus on personal injury always face a tricky balance between concerns for clients’ interests and the stench of opportunism. But there’s something particularly icky about the way some legal firms have promoted their quest for those who took the potentially dangerous diet drug Fen-Phen and are due compensation from a settlement with the drug’s manufacturers. Hurry, make that call today, because they want their 33 percent.



Hawaii 72, BYU 45

“Hey, we should be considered for a Bowl Championship Series game! Here it is early December and we’re still undefeated. Sure, we give up a million points and we haven’t actually beaten a good team, but that’s a whole lot of money we’re not getting a good look at. It’s discrimination, we tell ya. We’re going to sue somebody if we don’t get a shot at … ow ow ow ow ow, hey, you Hawaii players, stop kicking our asses! We give up!”


Jane Dope (SLUG Magazine)

You’da thought an atom bomb had gone off, or the kindergarten teacher had told the whole class it was OK for Johnny to gossip. It is OK to gossip. If you’re a columnist. Got it? People love reading about themselves. The only real thing that’s getting under everyone’s skin is this: They don’t know who Jane Dope is. How ultra-new and refreshing—even if Helen Wolf did it five years earlier.


The Pulse

The Student Review, Provo’s underground, independent student newspaper, struck fear in the heart of BYU administrators and was one of the only outlets available for student body outcasts to express their discomfort with BYU policies and culture for well over a decade. When the Student Review finally died in the fall of 2000, Suvi Hynynen, a former Student Review staffer, decided to open up another independent rag, The Pulse. Now it too, has seemingly disappeared from the Provo landscape. Rumor has it that yet another group has tentative hopes of reviving the corpse of the old Student Review. Best of luck, comrades.


Kiaora Bohlool (Fox 13)

Our readers seem to like Fox 13’s Kiaora Bohlool, but they have no idea how to spell her name. The exotic-for-local-news reporter (Kiora is New Zealander for “Hello,” Bohlool is Iranian) scored a healthy handful of votes in the 2002 Best of Utah—at least we think she did: Do the entries Kiora Beyol, Kyoria Bayall, Ciarra Boyle, Kayorna Beyule and Carrie Buhler (!) count?


The Unspoken Divide

The Salt Lake Tribune published a special report on the perpetual conflict between the Mormons and the Gentiles. They called their tedious and cliché-ridden snoozer, “The Unspoken Divide.” Unspoken? The divide is anything but “unspoken.” People speak about it all the time. In fact, the divide is spoken about too much.


John Hughes

This year, the award named in honor of Tribune Editor James E. Shelledy, whose Sunday column is used in schools and newsrooms around the world as the perfect example of how to make your readers go nuts struggling to figure out what you’re trying to say, goes to Deseret News Editor John Hughes for his “Letters From the Editor” columns that make readers go nuts struggling to figure out what he’s, well, trying to say.


Woody Paige (Denver Post)

When Denver Post columnist ripped up the local culture in the early days of the Olympics, spit really hit the fans. He said his patently unfair column was an attempt at humor, but few laughed, and faster that you can say “anti-Mormon bias,” his column was yanked from the online version of the Denver Post. Censoring a complete article is not becoming of a newspaper. But, consider this: The Denver Post is owned by Dean Singleton, who is apparently also owner of the Salt Lake Tribune. Singleton is alleged to also be beholden to the LDS church, thanks in no small measure to their help in his bid for the Tribune. That connection is suspicious, especially relative to censorship—see what’s coming regarding ownership of the Trib, folks? But, Paige a hero? Certainly. After the maelstrom created by his piece, hardly a single negative word was written about our fair city—no one dared. Thanks, Woody. You helped more than you hurt.


Deseret News vs. The Salt Lake Tribune

Talk about insider information! If they know anything, the public mostly thinks this is a church-related free speech issue-or just a bald-faced effort to keep the Deseret News in second place. But most people really have no idea what tangled webs have been woven between the two daily newspapers. And few dare to read the lengthy and tedious news stories written by either paper.


WB A.M. (KUWB 30)

It’s wacky WB 30 weatherman Mitch English, broadcasting WB A.M. from what appears to be a storage room in the basement every weekday morning between 5:30 and 8 a.m.—does the boss know about this? While not flashy or graphics-heavy (except for those keen weather patterns), English is game and up to the challenge of making what’s essentially a radio show work on TV. Most of the budget went toward those sweaters, right, Mitch?


Bob Lonsberry (K-News 570 AM)

He’s shrill, annoying and mighty opinionated on what goes on here in “our town”—thing is, he ain’t here. Talk radio “personality”/Ned Flanders impersonator Bob Lonsberry and K-News 570 AM like to put on the vague front that his daily morning show is local, but Lonsberry actually does his pontificating via satellite from Rochester, New York. Naturally, among other things, Bob thinks chemical weapons testing here in Tooele is cool and, by God, our American duty to tolerate. What does he care? He’s 3,000 miles away. Thanks, Bob.


The Deseret News’ “Survivor Watch”

Every Friday, D-News TV critic Scott Pierce devotes an entire yawn-inducing column to what happened on the yawn-inducing Survivor: Marquesas the night before—more specifically, that Layton cutie Neleh Dennis hasn’t yet been voted off the island. The local angle aside, Pierce could very well be the only TV critic left in America who gives a flying Rotu about Survivor anymore. That pop-culture raft has sailed, Scotty—time to move on.

Readers’ Choice


Gina Barberi (X96)

She remains “stunned and confused” as to why X96 listeners would vote her into this category for a second year, but Radio From Hell’s Gina Barberi is nonetheless grateful to her constituents. This is just the kind of positive reinforcement she needs to continue her radio career, even though the bright lights of Broadway are calling after her stage stint in The Vagina Monologues. Weird, ain’t it? Locals have been offering to pay the dulcet-toned Ms. Barberi to talk dirty to them for years, but it took a New York playwright to seal the deal.

2. Andrea (KJQ 103.1)

3. Bill Allred (X96)



Utahns doubted they’d ever see Smackdown or Buffy again, but scrappy KPNZ 24 (which picked up UPN affiliation after Larry Miller’s KJZZ dumped it) finally emerged from the static after an iffy signal period last year to become one of the sassiest local TV stations around—at least, as sassy as you can be under the aegis of UPN. Now if we could just get someone to launch a decent NBC affiliate …

Readers’ Choice


Hope Woodside (Fox 13)

You’d think after winning this category for the past five years straight, News at Nine co-anchor Hope Woodside would be a bit blasé about the whole thing. Not so: Ms. Woodside’s screams of joy filled the Fox 13 newsroom upon being informed of her latest victory, and it’s no less valid in her famously smoky brown eyes that we switched it from “Best” to “Sexiest” TV Anchorwoman last year. “Actually, it’s even better,” she says. Paula Zahn could learn a thing or two from our Hope.

2. Megan Henderson (Fox 13)

3. Shauna Lake (KUTV 2)

Readers’ Choice


Mark Koelbel (KUTV 2)

That’s right, Mark, you know how we like it. Give tonight’s top story a special something with a nod from that sweep of salt-and-pepper hair. Strike just the right note of everyman accessibility as you smile at those human interest stories, but set that superhero jaw with a look of determination while covering the hard news. Banter playfully with Michelle or Shauna after that crazy piece about an animal-noise contest in Japan, perhaps even showing your wild sense of humor by imitating an elephant yourself. Work it, Mark … work it.

2. Dick Nourse (KSL 5)

3. Mark Wright (Fox 13)


Merrill Cook’s Politics Unpeeled (K-Talk 630 AM)

Hard to believe this guy used to do a real talk show on KALL 910 years ago. Cook’s weekday afternoon Politics Unpeeled is a hysterical train wreck of missed breaks, badly ad-libbed commercials, fumbled audio carts (yes, in 2002, there’s still a radio station using 1970s tape cartridges) and the host’s own stammering analysis. Throw in a co-host who sounds like KSL’s Amanda Dickson mainlining Xanax and a numbingly consistent stable of about eight total callers, and you’ll be laughing yourself stupid the entire drive home.


Tom Barberi (KALL 910 AM)

When it got to the point of ridiculousness, City Weekly retired the Best Talk-Show Host category from the Best of Utah because it always went by landslides to 30-year SLC yakker Tom Barberi. The Voice of Reason’s fans, howev