Best of Utah 2008 | Media & Politics | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
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Best of Utah 2008 | Media & Politics




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Mark Koelbel, KUTV 2
Well, certainly, you love his hair. It’s hard not to, what with that silver rush of a ‘do going on. (Remember: Gray hair makes men on TV look distinguished; women with gray hair simply look old.) The reason readers picked KUTV 2’s Mark Koelbel goes deeper than coiffure. He has that all-important rich baritone voice. He speaks and delivers the news each evening with authority and confidence, in the nearly forgotten Walter Cronkite style. Besides all this, Koelbel moonlights on the skins, sometimes with the governor’s band, The Politically Incorrects.
Weeknights, 5, 6 & 10 p.m.
2. Dan Evans, Fox 13
3. Bob Evans, Fox 13

Hope Woodside, Fox 13
This makes 11 wins in as many years. Is there no competition for Fox 13’s Hope Woodside? The News at Nine anchor keeps knocking down all comers, and it’s never a mystery why: She’s a journalist you know you can trust and a TV friend you feel you can knock back a few beers with—how many other local news personalities, female or male, can you say that about? Not enough.
Weeknights, 9 p.m.,
2. Kerri Cronk, Fox 13
3. Shauna Lake, KUTV 2

Anchor Retirements
In 2006, meteorologist Mark Eubank did the victory lap after more than 30 years at KSL 5. In 2007, it was veteran anchorman Dick Nourse’s turn to sign off after 43 years behind the KSL news desk, and KUTV 2’s Michelle King ended her 29-year run at the same time. We wish them well, but it’s curious how all of these beloved personalities happened to realize that November sweeps month was just the right time to be serenaded out the door.

Chris Vanocur, ABC 4
He rarely takes himself too seriously—witness his pie-smeared mug on the cover of our 2007 Best of Utah issue—but he still takes investigative journalism very seriously. The multi-award-winning reporter keeps a keen eye on the Utah political scene, anchoring his long-running Sunday morning interview program On the Record. And, while it would be easy to rest on the laurels of breaking the Olympic scandal story, Vanocur keeps working hard to grab his latest scoop—the perfect accompaniment for that slice of pie.
2. Big Budah, Fox 13
3. Katy Carlyle, Fox 13

Fox 13
A full hour ahead of the rest, Fox 13 delivers a walloping 60 minutes of news before bedtime. The nightly news is brought to you by the dynamic duo of Bob Evans and Hope Woodside. The longest-running anchor team in Utah boasts two Emmys and a whole mess of Best of Utah awards between them. Fox 13 has the rest of its bases covered with ace meteorologist Jodi Saeland and the only sports reporter veteran enough to declare any time he starts talking as “Runge time!” Of course, if you doubt this readers’ choice award, just read the other five readers’ choice awards that the Fox 13 team has scooped up—the people have spoken!
2. KUTV 2
3. KSL 5

Gay firearms advocate and Stonewall Shooting and Sports owner David Nelson was ejected from the Utah Pride Festival in June 2007 for carrying an unconcealed and unloaded firearm despite having a permit and knowledge of state law to do so. He was detained by police, questioned and then told to go home. He went on to file a complaint and a $25,000 claim against Salt Lake City Corp. So far, he's received only a verbal apology from the police chief. The lesson: If you don't want guns in holsters at your event, better say so on your ticket. Oh, and don't mess around with Nelson.

KJZZ Café, KJZZ 14
While any attempt at providing more locally produced TV programming should be applauded, KJZZ 14’s woefully inept KJZZ Café makes a strong case for another block of Dr. Phil and Frasier reruns in the morning. The set looks cheap, the hosts seem heavily medicated and every news or interview segment comes across like an unprepared run-through at a college broadcasting lab—not exactly what you’d expect from an otherwise pro station like KJZZ. Maybe it’s an elaborate cinema verite/improv gag, like a local-news version of The Office. Joke’s on us, then.
Weekdays, 7-9 a.m.

Kerri Cronk, Fox 13
Utah may be America’s blondest state, so perhaps it’s only fitting that our readers fell for the cascade of golden locks adorning Ms. Cronk. And they likely respond to more than follicles. Her natural warmth gives Fox 13’s Good Day Utah an appeal that strikes a balance between morning-show happy-talk and real news. The hair’s only part of the package—though a fitting match for such a sunny disposition.
Weekdays, 6-9 a.m.
2. Hope Woodside, Fox 13
3. Jodi Saeland, Fox 13
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Jodi Saeland, Fox 13
Contrary to local urban legend, Fox 13’s Jodi Saeland is not always pregnant; she just doesn’t have a belly-hiding news desk. She’s always been our favorite; she’s the only Utah weatherperson who doesn’t make us feel like we’re being sold a used car to go with those snow flurries. We’ve made mention before that the former Weather Channel meteorologist seemed none too thrilled with winning past awards like Best TV News Hair, so it’s our pleasure to present her with a legit Best of Utah nod from our readers—the reign of the White Coat is over! But we still do love the hair, Jodi.
Weeknights, 9 p.m.
2. Damon Yauney, Fox 13
3. Debbie Worthen, KUTV 2

SLC Random
Local filmmakers Alicia Garcia and David Alder cover more ground in five to six minutes than most documentarians manage with full features—and it’s not just an Internet limitation. Their fledgling SLC Random, true to its name, has produced brisk, entertaining online shorts on topics ranging from Spy Hop Productions to gay Mormons to the Conscientia artists’ collective, as well as a 36-minute doc on X96’s 2007 Big Ass Show. All are pro features produced on the cheap and turned around on a dime.

Powerhouse, KJZZ 14
An AM radio dial spilling over with sports talk should tell you that this market can’t get enough of athletic chatter. But what is on the TV box for those who want a more visual approach to their local sports coverage? Nothing as substantial as this new Monday-through-Friday program, a compendium of conversation, interviews and highlights hosted by Alema Harrington. Jazz, Blaze, colleges and the occasional national story all get attention at the end of your busy sports day.
Weeknights, 9:35 p.m.,

Mike Runge, Fox 13
If it seems like it’s been “Runge Time” on Fox 13 for as long as the network has been broadcasting news … well, that just means you’ve been paying attention. Since 1991, the Salt Lake City native has been part of the KSTU news team. There’s a place for slick guys who grew up watching SportsCenter, and there’s a place for guys who cover local sports with cheerful home-team enthusiasm. Our readers this year picked a dose of the latter.
Weeknights, 9 p.m.
2. David James, KUTV 2
3. Wesley Ruff, ABC 4

Deena Marie Manzanares
At the current rate of exchange in entertainment, 15 minutes could actually be considered a long career in the biz. Thankfully, local actress Deena Marie Manzanares has only used up a portion of her allotted minutes with her short clip “The Joke,” a two-minute ditty that made the front page of YouTube and has since garnered about 250,000 views. Compared to most things that make it onto the Internet these days, Manzanares’ video is very well put-together and darkly comical. (For those who haven’t seen it, it involves cat humor.) Hopefully, Manzanares will continue to crank out her gems so she doesn’t go the way of the “don’t tase me, bro!” guy.

Where else on the dial can you turn to hear Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge” without hopping in a time machine? We kid! X96 is like your best friend from high school—the one with undying commitment to ’90s artists and the groundbreaking bands of today. Boasting some of the airwaves best DJs, X96 sticks to its vision of alternative by shaking up the format with Todd NukeEm’s iPod, Portia’s Live & Local, Corey O’Brien’s Xposed (way to get Nick Cave on the mainstream radio!) not to mention the fearless and funny Radio From Hell morning crew.
2. KRCL 90.9
3. Movin’ 100.7

KUER 90.1
If it’s news talk—rather than blather—you want, then the University of Utah’s station is locked into your dial. All news during daytimes, KUER boasts Morning Edition host Dan Bammes and news director Jenny Brundin, named 2007 best radio reporter by Utah’s Society of Professional Journalists. KUER’s reporters provide daily coverage of unfolding news, like Utah’s Legislature, while producing thoughtful features. The station is probably best known for the work of Doug Fabrizio and his producer Elaine Clark, whose RadioWest program was syndicated last year on satellite. The wide-ranging program has recently explored the gospel of Judas and American music.
2. KCPW 88.3
3. KSL 102.7/1160

KCPW 88.3’s “Poetry Is Wanted Here,” Lara Jones, Ken Sanders and Alex Caldiero
Every third Thursday of the month, KCPW pipes to its listeners of the Midday Metro program a half hour of poetry presented by wordshaking, sonosopher Alex Caldiero of Utah Valley State College, and Ken Sanders of Ken Sanders’ Rare Books fame. With Sanders reciting Robinson Jeffers “Hurt Hawks”: “The broken pillar of the wing jags from the clotted shoulder, the wing trails like a banner in defeat,” or Caldiero chanting Ezra Pound’s Canto XLV like an angry sermon “with usura hath no man a painted paradise on his church wall …” The duo, reined in (somewhat) by producer Lara Jones excitedly deliver a much-needed injection of fine poetry readings in the midday, making for a pleasant boost to the 9-to-5 drudgery, as well as advertising local poetry events in the community.
KCPW 88.3, every third Thursday, 10:30-11 a.m.

Radio From Hell, X96
We knew it was coming, you knew it was coming, they knew it was coming—X96’s Radio From Hell is omnipresent. Even your snooty NPR friends who “don’t listen to commercial radio” know all about it. Those of us who’ve seen how the show works in the studio, however, know that RFH isn’t quite the free-form four-hour gabfest it seems to be: Bill Allred is the consummate newsreader trapped in the shorts of a rock-radio dude, while Gina Barberi is not at all the dim sidekick she often plays. The show’s starship captain is Kerry Jackson, a persnickety perfectionist who guides the flow and calls up a bottomless array of sounds and comic bits on a dime. But if you think all they do is bitch about their company, that’s cool, too.
Weekdays, 5:30-10 a.m.
2. RadioWest, KUER 90.1
3. Maximum Distortion, KRCL 90.9

Chinese Radio, KRCL 90.9
KRCL’s eclectic daytime programming may be threatened with extinction, but at least there are great unique programs on in the evening—programs like Chinese Radio every Wednesday night from 7 to 8:30 pm. The hour and half of popular Chinese music and Chinese news hosted by Jennifer, Yen and Rachel also takes time out to give a little Chinese lesson to Westerners trying to brush up on our Zhonguo. The adorable hosts will help you master tricky pronunciations like number 2 in Chinese, er, “It’s kind of pronounced like a lion making a little roar—aar!” Jennifer says. It might sound a little silly, but just wait until you find yourself counting to 10 in Chinese alone in your car on the way home from work.
Wednesdays, 7-8:30 p.m.,

Ted McDonough, City Weekly
Hmm. Seems a little convenient. City Weekly hands out media awards and takes home several for itself. (Note “columnist” Bill Frost’s second-place prize.) No one is using the word “fixed” here. Let’s just say McDonough, whose award-wining news and cover features have graced these pages since 2004, lost this year’s office pool. That, and we thought it would be a bit much to have one of our employees win “Best News Hair.” Maybe next year, Ted.
2. Thomas Burr, Salt Lake Tribune
3. Derek Jensen, Salt Lake Tribune

Robert Kirby, Salt Lake Tribune
If you are to believe what he writes about his e-mails, you love Kirby. No, you hate him. No, you really love him. Former Salt Lake Tribune editor Jay Shelledy hired Kirby in the early ’90s because he knew just how badly his newspaper, and more importantly, this state, needed a shot of humor in religion-and-culture coverage. And, why mince words? We’re talking about the Mormon culture and religion. In print three times weekly in the Trib’s feature section, Kirby is the king of self-deprecation and allows people of faith, especially, the freedom to laugh at themselves. And, last we heard, even with all the good-natured barbs he shoots at the abundantly stuffy elements of his religion, Kirby’s Mormon membership card has yet to be revoked.
2. Bill Frost, City Weekly
3. Rebecca Walsh, Salt Lake Tribune

The Provo Daily Herald
Most newspaper polls are borrrrring. “Which candidate do you think would …” “Do you agree or disagree that …” “Should gays be allowed to …” blah, blah, blah. But, in May 2007, the Herald asked its readers a question which, in all its daffy earnestness, made us ponder all kinds of strange and metaphysical questions:
Which statement best describes your view on cremation?
[ ] Makes resurrection difficult; cremation should be avoided;
[ ] Cremation should be encouraged; God doesn’t care.

Making a Scene, SLUG Magazine
The roots of Salt Lake City’s current music scene aren’t completely gone, much less forgotten. SLUG Magazine went the extra mile to ensure that the next generation of punks, rockers and free thinkers recognizes its predecessors with Making a Scene, a 30-minute documentary which only failed in its brevity. The film, shot around SLUG’s 18th anniversary show featuring four reunited SLC legends—Clear, Iceburn, The Stench, The Corleones—includes trips down memory lane with local musicians, fans, members of the media, and of course Brad Collins of now-defunct Raunch Records. Scene also features cool footage from old concerts and the Club Vegas reunion gig. It’s one lesson you don’t want to miss.

Sunstone Magazine
Despite the Deseret Morning News breaking ground with its “Mormon Times” (serving the poor underrepresented LDS in the margins), Salt Lake City’s thoughtful LDS-issues magazine Sunstone remains a stalwart testament of how to walk the line between faithful apologia and candid examination of LDS Church issues. The magazine’s features range from philosophical analyses of Joseph Smith’s world view to confronting Mormon urban myths of the war on terror to timely interviews with figures like Helen Whitney, creator of the controversial PBS Frontline documentary series The Mormons. When the religious divide between the Momo lovers and haters seems wider than the gap between the Terrestrial and Celestial kingdoms, it’s good to know the folks at Sunstone are working hard at keeping religious news real in the land of Zion.

As far as we can tell, the word, used to describe an area of town with a predominant GLBT population, was introduced by QSaltLake editor Michael Aaron. Having more positive connotations than “gay ghetto” or “enclave,” it was eventually picked up by The Salt Lake Tribune in an article about Salt Lake City’s up-and-coming Marmalade district. Soon it was on the lips of developers, city planners and even a few people who couldn’t figure out how such a word could be allowed in Utah.n n n

Circus Brown’s Not a Sideshow, KRCL 90.9
Thanks to Circus Brown, keeping up on local music is as easy as turning your radio dial to KRCL 90.9 FM. Every Saturday night, the Salt Lake City DJ/Seth Rogen impersonator whips up a fresh playlist featuring tunes by national acts and Utah bands (Mercury Rev or Vampire Weekend, say, followed by Cavedoll and The Furs). Brown frequently invites local groups to perform live in the studio, and featured acts often debut brand-spankin’ new material. Best of all, the resulting recordings are surprisingly tight—crisp, raw and good enough to package. Once a year, Brown does just that with his Snackbox compilation featuring choice cuts from former Sideshow guests. The 2007 edition included tasty gems by Blackhole, Elbo Finn, Vile Blue Shades, The High Beams and others—enough to hold us over until the forthcoming 2008 release. Stay hungry.
Saturdays, 10 p.m.-1 a.m.,

Deseret Morning News: “The Nasty Taint of Porn”
A July 10, 2007, Deseret Morning News editorial about the evils of adult on-demand movies available on Marriott hotel TVs probably had the best of intentions, but the unfortunate (and hilarious) choice of headline undercut the gravitas of the message. Slang-wise, “taint” just ain’t what it used to be, D-News editorial board—Wiki it sometime. Or, better yet, don’t.

LDS Anarchy Blog
There’s a growing mass of LDS faithful out there who miss the ol’ time religion of the day when Brigham Young and early church founders dabbled in experimental communities based on quasi-socialist principles of the United Order and the Law of Consecration. The LDS Anarchy blog creator, a proud church member and anarchist, posts regular entries challenging the usual orthodox perception of the church by advocating the anarchistic heritage of the LDS scriptures. A tribute on the blog to the late church President Gordon B. Hinckley, for example, commended Hinckley for his adherence to scripture in the 1995 decentralizing of church authority by dismantling regional representatives and creating more localized area authorities. The LDS Anarchy blog is taking a proud part in the revolution to put the “radical” back into CTR.

In response to a Dec. 6, 2007, Hits & Misses item “Taco Talks,” about a City Council proposal to tighten regulations on downtown food carts, one eloquent (if unhinged) member of the Weberati had this response for a City Weekly reporter: “FUCK YOU YA MEXICAN LOVING TACO FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT.”

Sheena McFarland, Salt Lake Tribune
Few of us would dare post our weight online, much less chronicle each and every moment of weakness en route to “skinny jeans.” That’s why our hats are off to Salt Lake Tribune reporter Sheena McFarland, who bares all but her physical naked self in the newspaper-hosted blog “The Incredibly Shrinking Sheena.” McFarland didn’t quite reach her goal of shedding 130 pounds by her 25th birthday, but she came a long way, baby. She learned to recognize her weaknesses and cope with failure; she joined a gym and began attending Food Addicts Recovery meetings, maintained a diet log and fessed up when she fell off the wagon. Her brutal honesty is impressive and reassuring. This is what it truly means to “get real.”

Heather Armstrong,
Unlike 80 percent of blogs littering the Internet, the “About Me” section of Heather B. Armstrong’s alone is a great read: From her top-of-class high school graduation (“No one ever hired me because I was valedictorian. The lesson to be learned from this is: AIM LOW”) to her BYU days and disillusionment (“I am no longer a practicing Mormon or someone who believes that Rush Limbaugh speaks to God. My family is understandably disappointed.”) to her rise and fall as a Los Angeles Web designer to Salt Lake City domesticity and motherhood, she riffs as effortlessly as a novelist. The daily-ish meat of is everything bloggers should aspire to: Well-written, personal, tastefully illustrated and witty (upon discovering that MTV’s Rob & Big is her new guilty TV pleasure, Armstrong notes “I totally wanted to break up with me”). A Best of Utah win may pale in comparison to the four awards she took home in the 2008 Bloggies (it’s a big deal, off-liners), but at least, she’ll have something new to write about today.
2. Atropos, X96
SPC Zack Campbell, Utah National Guard
Never heard of him? X96 Radio From Hell show re-capper/blogger Atropos, who suggested the nomination for air, explains: “I met Zack over e-mail through RFH. He’s currently stationed in Iraq at Camp Bucca, performing Iraqi detainee operations. He enjoys loud punk music, Radio From Hell podcasts and good coffee. I sent the suggestion because I feel that he and Utah National Guard deserve some kind of positive recognition for what they’re doing. I, like most liberal, God-hating hippies who read City Weekly, think it’s a bullshit war. I don’t know how Zack feels about it, because I haven’t asked. I don’t think it matters right now. After writing back and forth with Zack, I tried to imagine myself doing what he’s doing, where he’s doing it. I couldn’t. He and the rest of the Guard in Iraq have brass balls the size of church bells.”
2. Rocky Anderson
3. Pamela Atkinson

Dick Cheney Protest, April 2007
Many of us were surprised to hear that good, old-fashioned campus protests are alive and well at BYU—for a few students, anyway, during a certain time frame within the bounds of a so-called “free-speech zone.” But even the squeaky-clean Cougars couldn’t just stand by silently when Vice President Dick Cheney, party to so many of the wrong turns this country has taken over the past seven years, was invited as 2007 commencement speaker. A group of students pulled together a polite protest, which went off without a hitch until the free-speech zone disappeared at the allotted time—then, as the students tried to leave, they were hassled by campus security.

Out-of-State School-Voucher Advocates
When the Legislature voted against Utahns’ will to funnel scarce public-education money into private religious schools, it sparked the most bitter and polarizing political battle Utah has seen since Amendment 3. A pro-voucher organization calling itself “Parents for Choice in Education” funneled $4 million into the state, much of it coming from tacky-rich sources like Amway and Wal-Mart. The money was a boon for Utah media outlets and, judging by the Oreo ad campaign, a godsend for the kind of marketing geniuses who think condescension sells.

“Invisible No More: Latinos’ Dignity March in Utah”
University of Utah professor Armando Solorzano knew exactly why he had to put together the photo exhibit of Utah’s largest political march in history, from the April 2006 dignity march. “We had 43,000 people marching peacefully in the streets of Salt Lake City,” Solorzano says. “It was the largest democratic march in our history, but after a year and a half, everybody forgot about it.” Solorzano decided to gather news clippings and speeches from political and religious leaders from the event along with stunning photos taken by five Latino photographers to create an unforgettable exhibit of this epic moment in Utah’s civil rights history. On display throughout the state for the next year, the exhibit is stopping in Moab during May, then Dixie State College through the summer before making its way back to Salt Lake City’s Marriott Library in September.n n n

Standard Examiner
Most people don’t really think about where they get their news, much less how that news ended up in the paper. Sure, there are the obvious writers, editors and photographers working their magic, but once they click on “save” and head home, the news has a few more pit stops to hit before the paper lands in the news racks. That’s right, we’re talking about the printers, specifically the folks at Ogden’s Standard Examiner who take care of City Weekly every Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. Known simply as “the press guys,” Eddie, Randy, Dennis and Mitch do their jobs with precision and care. Four of the nicest fellas you’ll ever meet, they’re always on the lookout for bad registration and messed-up color. Covered head-to-toe in ink, these guys are a class act.

Utah State Government
A 2008 Pew study this March has rated Utah the best governed state, “Utah manages itself with savvy business acumen” says the report, giving the Utah cabalists of the “let’s inject everything with market forces” philosophy reason for high-fives all around. The Pew Report noted off-handedly that it might have something to do with the “homogenous” makeup of the Legislature but thinks that’s not the only reason. Of course, in Utah—whether it’s Kanab Republican Rep. Mike Noel’s witch hunt against the “terrorism” of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance for its criticism of his personal nuclear-power business, or House Speaker Greg Curtis’ law client Anderson Development landing a $44 million bid to buy the old St. George airport thanks, no doubt, to loans of state money to help sweeten the deal for St. George—there’s definitely a reason why Utah governs itself with “business acumen.” It’s because Utah politics is always good business.

Rocky vs. Dell Loy Hansen
It was the belly bump heard round the state. Developer Dell Loy Hansen, upset that Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson wouldn’t support his bid for additional city building subsidies, challenged Rocky outside City Council chambers. Hansen cornered the mayor and tried to get in Rocky’s face, but his belly got in the way. Rocky, true to his pugilist nickname, didn’t back down. A later legal probe of the fracas noted the mayor “did state that he would kick Mr. Hansen’s ‘ass,’ but this was a result of his being touched.” For his part, Hansen, “invaded Mr. Anderson’s personal space.” No charges resulted.

Dr. Brian Moench
This Salt Lake City anesthesiologist hit the political scene like gangbusters during the nasty 2007 winter inversion with his grass-roots advocacy group, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. He’s kept the heat on ever since. Armed with statistics about the public-health threat—especially to children—stemming from our addiction to fossil fuels, Moench has hammered away at legislators for more transit funding and continues to remind everyone that leaving dangerously dirty air for future generations to deal with is pure cowardice. Last winter, in an address at a Salt Lake County library, Moench put it simply: “What is the morality of knowing thousands of people will die because you won’t clean up the air?”

Rocky Anderson
Take one part anti-Bush rhetoric and five parts environmental championing. Add a dash of bombast and whip with rabble-rousing and intellectual verve. Pour mixture into a thick crust of self-righteous, ministerial zeal; bake with the outrage of the Utah Legislature and conservative Mormon Republicans, and you end up with what local sculptor and architect Steven Goldsmith calls, in a Nation profile, “a folk hero of the American West,” aka Ross “Rocky” Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City. While he may not be everyone’s slice o’ pie, Anderson’s activism, dating back to the ’70s, has become one hell of an acquired taste and made Utah famous for something besides Mormons and green Jell-O.
2. Pamela Atkinson
3. Betsy Burton

The Mormon Worker
Run for cover, all of you pyramid-scheme lovin,’ war-hawk Mormons! There’s a new voice in the LDS community speaking loud about old doctrine, and that doctrine is culled from the oft-overlooked scriptural references to Mormon socialism, anarchy and pacifism. The Mormon Worker seeks to remind fellow saints that scriptural tenets like the law of consecration and the United Order aren’t served well by the culture’s current mindset of wealth = blessings. The Worker challenges this notion while refraining from criticizing the church itself. Check these guys out while you still can before they get the apostate-kiss-of-death from the same church they lovingly try to reawaken to its forgotten radical roots.

“You wanna another hit of this?”
Utah Highway Patrolman John Gardner gained YouTube notoriety this fall for the clip of him Tasering 28-year-old Jared Massey in the back after Massey refused to sign a speeding citation. After 50,000 volts knocked Massey to the ground, he was handcuffed on the ground and soon taken to the back of the trooper’s car. Massey is heard telling the officer, “Read me my rights!” to which Officer Gardner, with some swagger, responds “Look, you wanna another hit of this?” How does one respond to that? “Oh, yes, please, this time a little to the left …”

Rep. Chris Cannon
Considering the thrills of looking at Senate President John Valentine’s vacation/junket photos of a trip to Kyrgyzstan or the bland expanses of the Utah House blog, it wasn’t too hard to award Chris Cannon’s blog, for being the most user-friendly. All politics aside, our chosen son in D.C. gets props for his postings, use of video clips (including CNN House coverage and segments from the Late Show With David Letterman) and an overall Web-pretty aesthetic. He also has a cool link to a Library of Congress database where you can check all of Cannon’s and any other national reps’ voting records. Well done, Rep. Cannon, you’ve got our vote … er, your blog does at least. n n

Ralph Becker
Rocky Anderson trails Ralph Becker in this year’s readers’ poll. Which is good, since Rocky is no longer Salt Lake City mayor, and Ralph is. (Still, Rocky’s third-place showing ain’t bad, considering he no longer qualifies for the category.) If Rocky paved the way for the idea that a progressive capital city in the middle of Utah should have a progressive mayor, Becker may be the embodiment. His first official act as mayor was to set up a domestic-partner registry to help gays get insurance. That brought the predictable knee-jerk attack from the Utah Legislature’s right wing. But Becker, with his steady demeanor, won. He’s Rocky, without the rockiness.
2. Jon Huntsman Jr.
3. Rocky Anderson

Chris Buttars
Here’s something any Utah Republican politician can understand—a landslide victory! It became kind of perversely entertaining watching the West Jordan legislator insert so many feet every time he opened his mouth that it seemed he must have metamorphosed into a millipede. “This baby is black,” “lynching,” “those people”—you name the racially insensitive gaffe, and he was rocking it. Here’s hoping that come re-election time, most of his constituents are sporting the same “your very existence offends me” scowl Buttars locked on an advocate for gay rights in that infamous Salt Lake Tribune photo.
2. Gayle Ruzicka
3. Rocky Anderson

J.T. Martin’s “Rubber Penis” Quote
It’s not often that a newly elected city councilman can make a splash before even taking office. But, when Sugar House residents started protesting the Blue Boutique’s relocation from its doomed ancestral digs across from the obelisk on 2100 South to the “nice” neighborhood east of 1300 East, Councilman J.T. Martin stepped in to fan the flames. “I don’t care if you have one rubber penis or you have 15,” Martin famously said … and nobody now can remember what he said after that. The fact that a councilman was willing to say the words “rubber penis” was enough. We were in love.

Crandall Canyon Mine Disaster
When upper management gets the upper hand in any industry, you can pretty much predict that working conditions, wages and benefits will go downhill fast. The absence of meaningful government regulation means the foxes are guarding the henhouse and profits will naturally come before the people by whose sweat the foxes are making a comfortable living. But there are few industries in which unfettered laissez-faire labor policies are as dangerous as in coal mining. What union would have approved the unsafe extraction techniques used in the Crandall Canyon Mine? No amount of profits can bring back six dead miners and three rescue workers to provide for their families.

Utah Moms for Clean Air
You know that the problem’s serious when it invokes the wrath of Utah moms, first with drunken driving and now with global warming. Seriously, these suburban moms are sick of pollution in our fair state in every form it takes. Whether it’s lobbying for school buses to stop choking school kids out with their idling exhausts or rallying against the proposed Mountain View Corridor running next to school playgrounds—we salute these Utah moms for kicking ass and taking names, and we hope to see more of it to come!

Pastor France A. Davis
Utah was still reeling from West Jordan Republican Sen. Chris Buttars’ double whammy of the “this baby is black” remark followed by referring to the NAACP as a “hate lynch mob.” When it looked like no one could forgive the curmudgeonly senator’s 19th-century sensibilities, Pastor France A. Davis of Salt Lake City’s predominantly black Calvary Baptist Church extended Buttars the olive branch. Davis met the senator behind closed doors and explained man-to-man the depths of Buttars’ thoughtless remarks and got the old crank to apologize to Davis’ congregation. Cynics might’ve considered the apology a trite publicity stunt had it not been brokered by Davis, a pillar in Utah’s African-American community whose plea for forgiveness did not fall on deaf ears. Now might be the time to forgive, but just don’t forget—especially come next election.

Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective
The good folks behind Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective have been promoting pedal power since 2002, but with ongoing winter inversions, massive road construction and ever-soaring gas prices, the nonprofit organization visibly stepped up its outreach efforts. In May 2007, the collective hosted the national Pedal Pusher Festival, with cycling-themed film screenings, performances by local bands and track-stand competitions. Serious cyclists, casual enthusiasts and music lovers parked their rides with the bike valet and learned something new that night. The collective also offers several in-store workshops so that newcomers won’t get stranded when the tire finally blows.

Liquor Laws
Any true Utahn knows that despite our Byzantine liquor laws, it is still possible in our fair state to get good and hammered or, for that matter, to just enjoy a casual beer or cocktail. But that’s not to say that we’re cozy with the way things are under this booze dictatorship. While in 2008, we may have gotten rid of the sidecar (at the expense of the Long Island Iced Tea), the teetotalers in the Legislature still oughta realize that, as far as high-falutin’ moralistic legislating goes, they’re cut off! It’s bad enough explaining to out-of-state acquaintances that “yes, you physically can carry more than two drinks at a time but legally, you can’t” or trying to pass off private memberships as an exclusive club as opposed to a badge of shame that it is to carry a wad of dirty membership receipts in your wallet. Yeah, this mess of liquor laws may only affect a “private club” of drinkers in Utah—but we’re all in it together … or we at least have a friend who is.
2. Domestic Partner Registration
3. Immigration

Marty Kasteler
When a delivery van intentionally plowed down Salt Lake City cyclist Marty Kasteler last summer, the horrifying news hit home with even those who didn’t personally know the amiable Koi piercer. Anyone who rides a bike for pleasure, exercise, work commute or vehicle of choice could imagine being a victim of similar road rage. The incident inspired an outpouring of support, from benefit concerts to yard sales and a Wells Fargo fund, while sparking an overdue conversation between motorists, cyclists and lawmakers. Through it all, Kasteler maintained an infectiously positive attitude, worrying more about his wife Nikki’s wellbeing and the safety of fellow riders. While the hit-and-run driver is still out there, Kasteler continues to make progress, re-learning to walk. Fortunately, he never forgot how to live.

Anything Chris Buttars Says
Few thought it possible to actually stick your foot in your mouth so far that you could actually kick your own ass with it—that was, until Rep. Chris Buttars (R-West Jordan) followed up his infamous black-baby remark by describing critics as a “hate lynch mob.” Apparently, the filter between Buttars’ brain and mouth hasn’t been serviced since his first stint in politics in 1876. In a Tribune interview, Buttars later defended himself with, “How do I know what words I’m supposed to use in front of those people?” Amazingly, Buttars is running for re-election this November, in which case if “those people” and everybody else fails to do something about it, we’ll just save ourselves some work and keep Buttars’ name on the list for Best Scandal of ‘09.
2. Blue Boutique Relocation
3. KRCL Format Change

Planned Parenthood Association of Utah
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, approximately 20 million Americans are infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV) and another 6.2 million become newly infected each year. If the numbers are surprising, consider this: Condoms are not 100 percent effective in preventing genital HPV, and if you’re sexually active, you have a good chance of getting it—whether you have one or myriad partners. Women can now protect themselves against all four HPV strains with a new vaccine (which prevents 70 percent of cervical cancer and 90 percent of genital warts), but, at $150 a shot in a three-dose series, few can afford it. Thanks to a generous grant from the state, PPAU is able to offer the vaccine to uninsured and underinsured patients up to age 26 for as low as $14 a shot. Now that’s progress.
654 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-532-1586,

No More Homeless Pets
In theory, it shouldn’t take much to convince people to rescue cats and dogs from euthanasia. One look at Fido’s adorable mug, and he’s yours forever, right? No More Homeless Pets understands that, while people’s hearts go out to abandoned animals, it takes more than sympathy to save lives. The local nonprofit organization goes out of its way to find furry creatures a new home not just by posting cute photos on its Website but also throwing fabulous fund-raising and social networking events. Past parties include the annual Yappy Hour (now Summer Event) featuring the Doggie Diva runway show, and Rock the Dog, an outdoor concert with all-ages band Wonderdog. Next up: Strut Your Mutt in May at SugarHouse Park.

Junior League of Salt Lake City
Not every socialite is Paris Hilton. In 1901, the social conscience of 19-year-old New York City debutante Mary Harriman led her to rally 80 other young women (hence the name “Junior”) to help the city’s immigrants with child health, nutrition and literacy. Eleanor Roosevelt, inspired by the volunteerism of her friend, would later join the league as would other future first ladies, a Supreme Court Justice and numerous elected officials. Our local chapter is known for hosting the largest free health fair in Utah (CARE Fair) as well as RISE, a program that assists refugee women, and the Women Helping Women self-sufficiency project. With no religious strings attached, this organization is volunteerism through and through, helping to build a better community. So, hats off, Leaguettes!
526 E. 300 South, 801-328-1019,
2. Neighborhood House
3. No More Homeless Pets

Teen Lobby Day
Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. While we’re at it, let’s address the lack of information kids these days receive about hooking up and staying safe. That was the message 40 teenagers took to their legislators during the 2008 session. Encouraged to speak out by the Planned Parenthood Action Council, Equality Utah and Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, participants in February’s Teen Lobby Day made a powerful case for comprehensive sex-ed in Utah’s public schools. While no immediate bills were passed, students deemed the experience positive and hopeful. Here’s to a stronger, even more effective Teen Lobby Day in 2009.

Rocky vs. Hannity
It was the self-absorbed blowhard with a political ax to grind against … the other guy. In May 2007, then-Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and Fox News’ agitator Sean Hannity finally took their war of words to the U’s Kingsbury Hall stage, and we all watched breathlessly. Anderson diligently stayed on (Power)point; Hannity countered with snide personal remarks and empty wordplay. And, as is true of nearly every exchange of political views in contemporary America, everyone who paid attention really only expected to watch sparks fly, cheer for the guy they already agreed with and learn nothing new.n n n

Scott McCoy
While each of the eight Democrats in the Utah state Senate fights the good fight, Scott McCoy, representing Senate District 2 in Salt Lake City, has grabbed more than his share of the limelight since his appointment to the Senate in 2005 and re-election in 2006. Name a controversial bill and McCoy is likely to have weighed in or been sought out for the contrarian’s position. McCoy got four of his bills through in 2008, including one that allowed private clubs and restaurants to serve alcohol on Election Day. What didn’t make it to the guv’s desk? Fining parents for smoking in their cars with young children present. Can’t win ‘em all, Scott—but readers seem to want you to keep questioning authority.
2. Jackie Biskupski
3. Ross Romero


Construction costs for Salt Lake to Sandy light-rail line were $312 million, while it was $118.5 million for the University line and $89.4 million for the Medical Center extension—veritable chump change as far as taxpayers are concerned. They were only too happy to vote for Proposition 3 in November 2006 which entailed a quarter-cent sales-tax hike to raise $2.5 billion to finance the design, construction and operation of 70 miles of transit projects including the FrontRunner commuter rail between Salt Lake City and Provo and light-rail for the airport, West Valley, Draper and an area it calls the mid-Jordan area. While the jury is still out as to how many riders utilize our Cadillac of mass transit and how much pollution and traffic congestion are offset by our sleek, modern trains, it’s clear readers love to see their tax dollars go toward this moving target.
2. Education
3. Legacy Highway

As serfs, we expect our corporate overlords to act like overlords—sadistic, condescending bastards who know that the only purpose of us little people is to serve our master’s every whim. Their imperious swagger makes it easier to aim when the revolution comes. That’s why we love Patrick Byrne. When Utah voters trounced a school-voucher law, Byrne flew into a narcissistic rage, saying we didn’t care about our kids and that the referendum was an IQ test—which we failed. Ooh, ouch! We would have felt insulted if we weren’t so busy celebrating our massive victory against those undemocratic privatization freaks.

Bear Attacks
We have nothing but sympathy for victims of the recent surge in bear maulings. But, as human development continues to encroach on bear habitat, attacks will likely increase. You could blame the bear, if you weren’t a guest in its home. There are only two solutions: Wipe out the bear population or give bears a place to live—and only one of these options will allow us to sleep at night and look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning.

Rampant Taserings
The Taser is fast becoming standard-issue equipment for cops—the ability to safely and quickly incapacitate a 200-pound man seems like a huge boon for law enforcement. But is the Taser’s safety overrated? Cops now think nothing of dropping suspects with these potentially deadly electrical devices—even in routine cases, like speeding tickets, where shooting would never be considered. At least with guns, cops think twice—more training or fewer Tasers might make us all safer.

Mario R. Capecchi
Dr. Capecchi received a Nobel Prize for his work with two other physiologists figuring out how to “knock out”—or deactivate—targeted sets of genes in mice. We always get the creeps when we think about genetically engineered Frankenmice—and you’ve got to feel sorry for them, poor things—but Capecchi’s work may allow scientists to discover all kinds of cures for diseases plaguing humans and mice alike. Plus, it’s just cool that somebody from the U of U won a Nobel. Congrats, Dr. Mario!

Ken Jennings
In the midst of Mormon-mania when Mitt Romney was too busy dodging questions about the LDS faith, it was left up to the luminous Latter-day Saint and Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings to address the world’s Momo curiosity. “Being a Mormon [once] was like being a Canadian, or a vegetarian or unicyclist,” said Jennings in a December 2007 New York Daily News editorial. “It made you a bit of a conversation piece at dinner, but you didn’t come up for any lip curling contempt.” Jennings wittily went for a true Daily Double calling out presidential candidate Mike Huckabee over his jab at the Mormon belief that Jesus and Satan being brothers: “The truth, Huck, is that Mormons believe that God is the Father of us all, which does, I guess, in some sense, make Jesus and Satan brothers. And, by the same logic, we also believe that Moses and Orville Redenbacher and Attila the Hun and Neil Diamond are brothers. Happy now?”

Taylor D’Shaw Salon
Lord knows, hair stylists make good confidants—and an affordable alternative to licensed therapists—but few take their tender loving care to the streets quite like Taylor D’Shaw. For years, the Murray salon’s compassionate employees have gone out of their way to improve the quality of life for Utah residents—paying customers or otherwise. Past outreach efforts include several Women Helping Women Cut-a-Thons (for battered and abused women), an autism benefit, Locks of Love (donating locks to produce wigs for cancer survivors) and a major role in the Junior League’s Black & White Ball to benefit battered and recovering women. Our hats are off to owners Jennifer Taylor and Dustin Shaw for going the extra distance.
388 W. Winchester, Salt Lake City, 801-281-2444

Lynn Hemingway
Not all politicians are bad apples, sucking on the teat of big government and making shady deals to further pad their beefy wallets. In fact, some public figures not only do their jobs and tell the truth but actually engage in honest-to-goodness selfless acts. Case in point: Lynn Hemingway, a Utah Democrat whose primary focus was on saving the kids by improving public education. The Holladay leader was inspired to donate his entire salary for the Legislative session to the Parent Teacher Associations presiding over schools in his district. Perhaps there’s hope for politics after all.

Reagan Outdoor Advertising “John Tyler” Billboards
Inquiring minds wanted to know: Why were billboards around town arbitrarily touting John Tyler, the 10th president of the United States? Turns out Reagan Outdoor Advertising was conducting a little experiment in the effectiveness of its placements to prove to potential advertisers that Utahns were paying attention and would know the identity of the 10th president in larger numbers after the launch of the campaign. Will they now turn our thirst for knowledge about Millard Fillmore to their own ends?