Oh, they’re at it again, and no, lawmakers can’t seem to settle on just how they want the state Board of Education to meet its demise. The latest salvo came at a redistricting meeting where Rep. Ken Sumsion, R-American Fork, wanted to reduce the number of board members from 15 to nine. This comes after the defeat of another legislative idea—to make board elections partisan and send them through the convention system. Now candidates are vetted through a committee that sends nominees to the governor, who puts two on the ballot. They’ve also been elected in nonpartisan primaries before. Few people know who their school-board reps are, much less what they stand for or what they do. Maybe it’s time for an informational campaign—before it’s too late.
Speaking of getting to know you, there’s a lesson in board-staff relations that needs to be revisited. Sam Granato, the ousted chair of the Utah Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, was sorely disappointed when he learned that his buddy of 40 years had lied to him. That bud, Dennis Kellen, recently resigned as department head after documents surfaced showing questionable financial dealings to the tune of $272,000 with Kellen’s son. Once again, Utahns have been taken in by that old-boy trust factor. Professionalism demands that you leave friendship behind and insist on documentation if you’re in a position of public trust. Granato unfortunately took Kellen at his word rather than exercising his fiduciary duty. But this is Utah, where trust in friendship frequently trumps ethics and the law.
Remember when we were struggling with the whole idea of mass transit? When Utahns for Responsible Public Spending railed at the rails? No one will use it; it’s too danged expensive—that sort of thing. Now TRAX has extended its tentacles south, west and east, with FrontRunner to the north—and there are plenty of riders. But Ogden can’t seem to see the benefit of financial pain for transit gain. Weber State University is crying for a $156 million streetcar system to connect FrontRunner and the downtown to the university and its 24,000 commuting students. It’s a “critical” project for the university, officials say. But whoa, the Ogden City Council has put a hold on it and the Standard-Examiner has editorialized against it. What could be a hit may end up missing the opportunity.