So “Mike” was a homeless guy, he was in Pioneer Park and there probably was illegal drug use. Mike’s death during the Occupy Salt Lake City movement sparked the eviction of the occupiers and set up the fraught relationship between police and the camp. What started as a peaceful protest turned sour—and curious. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker intoned that the city needed to take action to protect the community. He talked about the death and the deplorable health conditions. But homeless people have long populated the park without such intervention. Thanks to The Salt Lake Tribune, we at least know that Mike was Michael W. Manhard, 42, chronically homeless and with a criminal record. But what else was he—besides a catalyst for eviction?
Developers and legislators again have their eyes on the Cottonwood canyons. It really rankled Utah’s Republican congressional delegation that The Salt Lake Tribune, Save Our Canyons or a number of other entities didn’t like their plan—and now a representative from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees forest use, has testified against it as well. The idea, according to the Wasatch Range Recreation Access Enhancement Act, is to sell national forest land to Talisker Mountain Inc.—the Canadian company that owns Canyons Resort—which would develop a gondola from Canyons to Solitude. The delegation says it’s a way to cut down on traffic up the canyons. This from the same people who claim public transit has no real effect on air pollution. Will it indeed “diversify” the transportation infrastructure, or just enhance a private company’s portfolio?
You know something’s a bad political idea when even the most conservative officials cry foul. That’s what happened with Sen. Mike Lee’s effort to buy influence through his own personal super PAC. Lee and his lawyer, Dan Backer, have been working on the concept since the Supreme Court issued its Citizens United ruling that accords personhood to corporations. Lee wanted to personally control his leadership PAC. This caused the Federal Election Commission’s Donald McGahn to come uncorked. McGahn is generally in favor of eliminating most campaign finance laws, but said that Lee’s request was too much even for him. This is not the end, of course. The Supreme Court is waiting.