Cox's Honeymoon Phase
Gov. Spencer Cox is doing a bang-up job. Two-thirds of Utahns are just gaga over their rural-rooted, fun-loving governor, according to the Deseret News. All the media made much of his first 100 days in office, and indeed he did have some highlights. But let's talk about the one-third who are not that happy with Cox. First, let's remember how much he "likes" the inland port. As governor of a great economy, he simply hopes for more and is pretty sure that pollution and traffic issues will just disappear. Concealed carry? What's not to like? Fewer regulations and more freedom just make him giddy. Bears Ears? He's ready to sue the feds if they try to restore it to pre-Trump levels. Cox also signed a bill to require "certain" presidential executive orders (read: Biden's) be reviewed and maybe deemed unconstitutional. And no, he won't order a mask mandate, while he equivocates that Utah has this tradition of "respecting private property rights." Respect for public rights, however, is sorely missing.
Hey, Let's Hire a Czar!
The homeless issue is Utah's border crisis, and it looks like we may be ready to "build that wall." Well, not a wall, but maybe "border security." Yes, homelessness is a complicated and nearly unresolvable problem, but it's one that Utah continues to make worse by bad decisions and sporadic police interventions. Remember Operation Rio Grande? How'd that go, other than dispersing the homeless from the Road Home area to neighborhoods from which they bounced back to congregate around the library or the be-muraled Fleet Block area. Then they were again dispersed. Previous ideas of a walled compound failed, and now Mayor Erin Mendenhall thinks a tiny home village will be the answer. There were 3,131 individuals experiencing homelessness in a single night in 2020, HUD reports.* Smaller homeless resource centers in Salt Lake County have been ineffective and now the governor has appointed Wayne Niederhauser, a real estate magnate and politically connected Republican as homeless czar. Does he have any ideas or know what he's doing? Maybe he should tackle the border issue, too.
Navajo Nation Looks Ahead
Hand it to the Navajo Nation to attack climate change. While it's not a priority for the state of Utah, the residents of San Juan County are thinking ahead to a future of renewable energy and tax benefits. The Salt Lake Tribune reported on a new solar project near Red Mesa that could produce revenue for the tribe. It's also where unemployment has reached almost 50 percent during the pandemic. In addition, there's a proposal for a Navajo Energy Storage Station near Lake Powell. Unlike the Lake Powell pipeline, criticized for permanently diverting water from the Colorado River, the station "would be capable of producing more power than all the wind and solar projects currently operating in Utah combined," the Tribune reports.
* Clarification: An earlier version of this story noted there were 3,131 unsheltered in a single night in 2020. DeAnn Zebelean with the Utah Department of Workforce Services clarified the 2020 Point-In-Time Count, noting that on one night, 704 individuals were unsheltered in Utah while another 2,427 individuals were sheltered in programs that include the Homeless Resource Centers.