Utah lawmakers approached recent summertime tours of Salt Lake and Davis counties as if they were visitors to a foreign land, riding through town on a $100,000-plus bus tour bankrolled by big businesses, and eliminating past years’ public meetings in apparent fear the locals would be restless. Four legislators even felt the need to come armed. They had to whip pistols from various body nooks (including one ankle holster) when the bus pulled up to a Chevron refinery—a national security site that doesn’t allow gunslingers. Citizens were allowed to send legislators online questions that lawmakers received via taxpayer purchased Blackberrys. One man asked, “Wouldn’t people be safer and better protected if all weapons were worn in holsters and in full view?” No lawmaker answered.
It’s too late for the rescue workers injured or killed while trying to dig out miners trapped underground near Huntington, but state and federal politicians are beginning to make noises about reexamining how mining is regulated in Utah. One day after three would-be rescue workers lost their lives at the Crandall Canyon mine, Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. announced plans to assemble a panel to study the disaster and decide whether Utah should be in the mining-safety business. The answer is obvious, given the attitude of the federal government, where George W. Bush cronies in charge of mine safety have backed off inspections and where Congress has delayed laws mandating homing beacons that might have sped a rescue at Crandall Canyon.
According to the geniuses at Parents for Choice in Education—who, by the way, want to educate children—a vote against vouchers is a vote for gay marriage, abortion and higher taxes. Pro-voucher forces pushing this year’s referendum to give taxpayer funds to private schools have been running barely disguised telephone “push polls” in Utah asking residents such leading questions as, “If you knew that the same group that opposes vouchers, the liberal national teacher’s union, aggressively supports same-sex unions, higher taxes and more government involvement, would you be very or somewhat more or less likely to vote for or against the Utah referendum?” Well, if you put it that way … sign us up.