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Election, Lessons Learned and Wild Ride

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Constitutional Election
Don't think too long about how to replace little Jason Chaffetz. Montana, as it looks at replacing former Rep. Ryan Zinke, is wrestling with that pesky U.S. Constitution right now. The state must hold an election because its election law—rewritten in 2015 to allow a gubernatorial appointment—is unconstitutional, notes the Missoulian. Of course, governors tend to appoint members of their own party, and once in office, incumbents are hard to beat. Montana's Courthouse News Service reported on efforts to ensure a Republican takes office. Now that they must hold an election, GOP chairman Jeff Essmann is railing against a Senate bill to allow a mail-in special election, which would save the state a lot of money. He believes that mail-in ballots favor Democrats, saying "vote-by-mail is designed to increase participation rates of lower-propensity voters."

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No Lessons Learned
Mayor Jackie Biskupski learned nothing from the recent Huntsman Cancer Institute debacle. Instead, she's probably taking a page from @realDonaldTrump. Last week, her spokesman Matthew Rojas sounded a lot like Sean Spicer as he fecklessly argued that UTA trustee Keith Bartholomew was dumped only because he'd served so dang long. Indeed, Bartholomew, an associate professor of city and metropolitan planning at the University of Utah, has served for 13 years because, you know, he's competent. However, he doesn't like Biskupski's expensive idea of putting a transit station on pylons. He recently received an ovation from Clearfield citizens when he bucked UTA itself, speaking against a manufacturing plan around a transit-oriented development there, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. But UTA likely only wants friendly members on its board—developers, perhaps. And Biskupski has helped them out by canning more than 30 employees, including longtime public utilities director Jeff Niermeyer.

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Wild Ride
Anyone who drives I-80 up Parley's Canyon knows it's a wild ride. What the Trib calls a "Bridge over Troubled Corridor," a UDOT plan could reduce traffic accidents and wildlife deaths. A $5 million project would erect a 45-by-345-foot bridge across the freeway just west of the Parley's Summit interchange. The Park City nonprofit Save People, Save Wildlife got the ball rolling by raising money to lengthen a wildlife fence. UDOT is also planning a semitrailer lane and fresh asphalt in other areas of the interstate. That's $17 million of other improvements. Now, if UTA would just extend Trax up the canyon, the drive might not be so knuckle-biting.

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