There’s a television commercial where you see a doctor playing her patient’s violin badly, and the message is that you shouldn’t try to do someone else’s job. West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder, in his venture into stealth journalism, must not have seen it. Winder perceived the Deseret News’ coverage of municipal issues was unbalanced. No longer allowed to submit articles as an elected official, he started using the pseudonym Richard Burwash, even sending in a photo of a man named Burwash from California. Winder, using his title as mayor, had already run into trouble after writing favorable paid advertising for EnergySolutions. But he still didn’t get the ethical disconnect. University of Utah political-science professor Matthew Burbank doesn’t think Winder will suffer politically from this. After all, Utah thrives on its ethical lapses.
The new Natural History Museum of Utah—aka the Rio Tinto Center—is opening amid high anticipation and amazement at what was accomplished. It took 15 long years, not to mention more than $100 million, but it was worth it. Near Red Butte Garden, the museum blends in seamlessly with its natural surroundings, despite past concerns from naturalists. It also had to fight for its spot in Research Park after Salt Lake County terminated its contract with the then-Hansen Planetarium and tried to insist that the museum move to The Gateway. Meanwhile, the museum endured layoffs and ongoing PR snafus. It was accused of using public funds for its ultimately successful bond campaign. But in the end, the museum triumphed with something you can see, smell and experience.
The Legislature’s Water Issues Task Force may be about to pull one over on property owners around the state. It has to do with the Lake Powell Pipeline project and the Legislature’s attempt to streamline the way water policy is made. Never mind who’s taking water from where, but focus on the money. At first, the task force looked at putting back the tax on food, and using that for water. Then, they talked about allocating one-third of future sales-tax growth to water. (Remember, Utah already allocates one-third to highways.) Now, it’s looking at creating a statewide water district and funding it with property taxes. That would add $46 to every property-tax bill for the next 40 years. However it’s funded, the pipeline is going to cost and someone is going to lose.