Best of Utah 2010: Media & Politics | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
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Best of Utah

Best of Utah 2010: Media & Politics



Page 5 of 5

Best Campaign Indecision
AG Mark Shurtleff

First, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff danced around the question of whether or not he would challenge Sen. Bob Bennett. Then, he accidentally tweeted he was going to announce, then quasi-retracted the tweet. Then he announced, and quasi-campaigned with a few speeches and delegate meetings. Finally, he got out of the race for family reasons, but since then, has continued to point out all of the reasons why Bennett should not be re-elected. It’s an impressive political tango.

Best War Hypocrite
Rep. Jason Chaffetz

We’d hoped Rep. Jason Chaffetz, media whore though he may be, could fashion himself into a contrarian, principled Republican. He now seems every bit as slimy and untrustworthy as the rest of Congress. In November, he said, “Mr. President, it’s time to bring our troops home” from Afghanistan, a war that has cost $3.6 billion per month and killed more than 1,000 American soldiers. Just three months later, he voted against a resolution that would direct the president to do exactly that. His pro-war vote came less than a week after attending the funeral of Carlos A. Aragon, 19, of Orem, and just before attending the funeral of Nigel K. Olsen, 21, of Salem, both of whom died in Afghanistan.

Best Tattooed Judge
Judge John Baxter

Salt Lake City Justice Court Judge John Baxter has an impressive reputation among both victim advocates and defense lawyers, two groups that are hard to impress when it comes to the judiciary. He’s even got a good rep among the homeless who find themselves in front of him. But who knew the man on the bench—a former Marine who served in Saigon in the early ’70s—also sports some wicked tattoos, one courtesy of his time in the military, the other from a local tattoo convention. Way to keep some attitude going under the robes, Judge.

Best Finger to the State

In 2009, the company made nice about working with state officials to reduce the amount and type of nuclear waste being stored just outside Utah’s capital city. But in 2010, emboldened by court rulings and a governor who couldn’t make up his mind on the glowing garbage, EnergySolutions started loading the trains and simply bringing the stuff to its Tooele dump. Yes, some trains got diverted, but with ES’s newfound aggression and ceaseless political donations, those diversions are likely temporary.

Best Presto-Chango
Holly Mullen et al

It’s not unheard of for a journalist to feel the itch to run for office. Think Citizen Kane. Thus, we didn’t faint when Holly Mullen, City Weekly editor from 2007-09 and a Salt Lake Tribune columnist for five years before that, let it be known on Facebook that she was entertaining a 2010 bid for a Salt Lake County Council at-large seat. Mullen hopes to take over the seat currently occupied by her stepdaughter, Jenny Wilson. Wilson is stepping off after beginning a new job at the University of Utah’s Moran Eye Center. Meanwhile, in late 2009, Mullen’s husband, Ted Wilson, former Salt Lake City Democratic mayor and outgoing executive director of the Utah Rivers Council, showed up to work as Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s environmental czar. A bunch of rolling stones, that bunch.

Best Networking Idealists
Salt Lake City Bioneers Chapter

Housed at Westminster College, the Salt Lake City Bioneers chapter hosts an annual fall conference focusing on organic gardening, alternative transportation, buying locally, transitioning from oil dependence to local resilience, creating fulfilling work, and supporting human rights. The “biological pioneers” also teamed up in 2009 with Citizens for Sustainability and the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City’s Environmental Ministry to present a “Sustainable Solutions” film series and discussions on Fridays at the church. Bringing these groups together helped create a sum greater than its parts, a veritable green movement—not easy to do in a state where just advocating for green building practices can earn you sideways glances. They may have stirred up the compost pile today, but it was all for chunk-free air tomorrow.

Best at Transforming Lives
Detective Break Merino

Like something out of a Disney movie, Salt Lake City Police Detective Break Merino reached a point in his career where measuring his success in law enforcement had to be more than just arrests. After being approached by reformed gang members who were looking to build more positive relationships with other gang members, Merino became a volunteer football coach. Team members took lessons they learned from the field and went on to apply for college and the military. Merino is one who understands that community policing starts first in the community.

Best Date for Utah Tipplers
July 1, 2009

That is, of course, the historic day the Utah Legislature let private clubs put on their big-boy pants and operate bars like they’re operated everywhere else. Years of nutty regulations have taken their toll; it still takes some effort to convince visitors they can easily enter a nightclub and have a drink. And, it doesn’t help that there is now a shortage of liquor licenses for new players. But it was a huge step forward, and we’ll drink to it.

Best Peek at Where Tithing $ Goes
8: The Mormon Proposition

The LDS Church, under pressure, admitted it spent $189,903 in nonmonetary in-kind contributions to help pass California’s Proposition 8 in 2008. However, it’s estimated that individual Mormons gave more than $20 million, plus offered to beat the streets to get out the vote. The church’s involvement in the political fight triggered an instant backlash by gays. Former Utahn Reed Cowan, now a Florida TV reporter, captured the LGBT outrage at Mormondom in his film 8: The Mormon Proposition, which screened to sell-out crowds at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. In the grand scheme, the church’s $190K wasn’t huge. But for both Mormons and non, seeing the extent of ecclesiastical time and energy spent in support of a political cause is disconcerting. We all are told to render unto Caesar and to the Lord in different envelopes, but for church leaders, it’s just not black and white.

Best Waste of Space
Earl Holding’s 400 South & Main parking lot

The parking lot at 400 South and Main takes up an entire city block of downtown. It is so misplaced and unfortunate, it makes one want to reconsider private-land ownership rights. In 2009, land owner Earl Holding’s company made the bizarre suggestion that the county should place a new mega-hotel and convention center on this lot to replace the Salt Palace. Does the owner of Sinclair, Little and Grand America hotels as well as Snowbasin and Sun Valley ski resorts have any better ideas, or will the city forever live with this giant obstruction to downtown development? Oh, right, his “better” idea was to sell the property to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in January, which also has no immediate plans for development. Brilliant.

Best Slippery Metaphor
Gov. Gary Herbert

Any recognition of gay couples was said repeatedly to be a slippery slope toward full gay marriage during 2008, but Gov. Gary Herbert mangled the idiom during his first press conference as governor in August 2009. Herbert said a proposed Salt Lake City anti-discrimination ordinance that would protect gay and transgender Utahns was a “slippery road” toward all kinds of ridiculous protections like, “a special law for blue-eyed blonds.” Why is it that “slippery” objects are only mentioned metaphorically by Utah conservatives when LGBT issues are discussed?

Best Relocation Gamble
Odd Fellows Hall

After the many delays and setbacks involved with moving the 117-year-old Odd Fellows Hall across Market Street and turn it around, few believed it could actually be done. Even Layton Construction, the firm that inched it across the street, had its doubts, going so far as to take its banner off the building while moving it. Now, who will be brave enough, to put it charitably, to occupy space there?

Best Write-In Campaign
Dan Young & PC Laptops

At the onset of Best of Utah 2010 voting, Dan the Laptop Man (aka Dan Young) orchestrated a Facebook write-in campaign for his fledgling little computer business: PC Laptops (; perhaps you’ve heard of it. Aside from promoting his own business, Young is also a fervent supporter of other locals—he reminded his fans to vote in 10 categories, not just for PC Laptops, promising everyone “hugs” for doing so. Before he starts giving those few thousand hugs, we asked Young to impart a few of his own Best of Utah picks:
Best Late Night Dining: Belgian Waffle & Omelet Inn
Best Buffet: Rodizio Grill
Best News Guy: Bill Gephardt, KUTV 2
Best Radio Show: Radio From Hell, X96