Hits & Misses | Calilfornia Fires, Chinese Workers, Ski Patrol Lockout | News | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

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Hits & Misses | Calilfornia Fires, Chinese Workers, Ski Patrol Lockout

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A Hot Issue
The morning news reports from Southern California on Oct. 24 were devastating: Wind-whipped fires threatened to turn an area from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border into one long blaze. A quarter-million people (and counting) had been evacuated from their homes. Malibu had been relegated to a pile of embers. And what was the all-important local angle for Utahns? Whether BYU would play San Diego State Saturday in Qualcomm Stadium, of course! With the Left Coast burning into the Pacific Ocean, KSL radio led newscasts all morning with the specter of the Cougars’ missing a game. The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret Morning News lost bladder control, too, speculating over a blip in the football schedule. On the scale of human misery, it all amounted to a fart underwater.

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Dying in China
Just in time for the holiday frenzy of toy buying and amassing of Baby Jesus bric-a-brac, The Salt Lake Tribune distinguished itself the week of Oct. 21 with a four-part investigative report on the human cost of doing business with China. Ogden freelance writer Loretta Tofani, backed by several high-powered journalism grants, interviewed scores of sources, including Chinese factory workers dying of cancers, respiratory illnesses and other chronic diseases while making cheap crockery, furniture, barbecue grills and lead-laced action figures for Americans. Tofani was an Asian correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer in Beijing from 1992 to 1996. Lisa Carricaburu, assistant managing editor for features, gets credit for shepherding the series into print. It’s a must-read on SLTrib.com.

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Snow Job
The Canyons Professional Ski Patrol Association (CPSPA) is calling a breakdown in 2007-08 season contract talks a “lockout.” Ski resort management calls it merely a “waiting period” while the union mulls the company’s final offer. Meantime, The Canyons is advertising for scabs in City Weekly and planning to open on Nov. 17, apparently whether its ski patrol knows how to save an avalanche victim or not. The CPSPA is Utah’s only ski-patrol union. Management stopped negotiating with workers on Oct. 17 and has refused to send four patrollers to an avalanche rescue course. “We’re constantly being told we’re replaceable employees,” says patrolman Jeff Fericks. Todd Burnette, vice president of marketing for The Canyons, says, “It’s not in anyone’s best interest” to be at an impasse, and adds the resort will continue talks Oct. 27.

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