We might have guessed. Utah’s Legislature is suddenly gung-ho to build nuclear power plants … and the company proposing the first N-plant is part-owned by a state lawmaker who chairs the committee that can make it happen. Rep. Aaron Tilton, R-Springville, didn’t think to tell anyone about his conflict during summer meetings on nuclear power. Neither did Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, director of a water district than has inked a deal with Tilton’s company worth $1 million per year if Utah goes nuclear. The most shocking part of the story is that it isn’t shocking at all, given lawmakers’ habit of mixing business and politics. Still, it makes the days when charter-school laws were passed by lawmakers launching charter-school building companies seem innocent.
Mayoral candidate Ralph Becker was late—very late—to a recent candidate forum set up to discuss housing issues in Salt Lake City (see “Buhler the Gentleman” in this week’s Letters). But Becker and fellow would-be-mayor contender Dave Buhler scored points with those who worry the city is becoming unaffordable for people with low incomes. Both candidates pledged, if elected, to launch a housing commission to review city housing stock and “oversee a new effort to house all of our residents safely, decently and affordably.” Residents living in squalor or being priced out of the city hope that isn’t just rhetoric, and that the new City Council in 2008 shares a commitment to affordable housing. Salt Lake City has been working on a housing plan for the past five years.
Who could be more out-of-touch than Utah’s Legislature? How about Utah’s congressional delegation? Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has his arms deftly around the situation of fellow GOP Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, picked up for soliciting sex from an undercover bathroom cop. Hatch concludes the problem with Craig’s behavior was that he pleaded guilty. (“It’s Craig’s story versus the policeman’s,” Hatch says.) More clueless is Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, one of just 30 House members to vote against allowing U.S. court trials for mercenary “security contractors” working in Iraq who murder innocent civilians. Cannon blasted the law in an article, writing, in part, “this war is well on its way to being won.”