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News » Hits & Misses

Housing Disconnect

Utah's housing crunch and its misplaced priorities, the fight to ban conversion therapy, and is ranked-choice voting something else in disguise?



Housing Disconnect
Here's what's happened in the last week or so: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced plans to build a colossal glass building in downtown Salt Lake City. At least one city councilman expressed delight at the thought of a rising skyline. Meanwhile, two proposed developments—one at the old Cottonwood Mall site and the other atop Emigration Canyon—were met with intense neighborhood pushback. All this while Utah's public school enrollment is bubbling into the 660,000 range and nonprofit organization Utah Foundation notes one in five Salt Lake residents say housing is not affordable. There is a huge disconnect—a fevered rush to build big, expensive developments, an expectation that suburban areas can fill the lower-end gap, but no real plan for mixed-use, affordable buildings that communities can get behind.


Convert This
Who knew conversion therapy was even a thing anymore? Then again, we thought white supremacy was a thing of the past, too. But Utah has the unique distinction of not only mentally exiling the LGBTQ community, but also encouraging this controversial, extreme and debunked method of turning the gay straight. Since Boy Erased hit theaters, a renewed awareness—and stunned disbelief—has emerged. Now, Equality Utah is hoping to drive a stake into the practice and lobby for a law banning conversion therapy, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Suicide prevention will be the hallmark strategy, not only because it affects this community disproportionately, but also because the "Mormon" church has disavowed the practice. Still, Utahns understand that disavowing practices doesn't always work and fundamentalism often survives official pronouncements.


Utah's Trojan Horse
The Deseret News' Jay Evensen keeps warning the people of Utah that ranked-choice voting is a Trojan horse, hiding an unwanted candidate who wins in the nation's reddest state. The Legislature has set up an eight-year pilot project for municipal elections with multiple candidates, but so far there are no takers. This apparently delights Evensen, who pointed to Maine's experiment as just too damned complicated and fraught with unintended consequences. He gives it a small advantage—civility—but, hey, you could end up with someone new. USA Today suggests we should use it in presidential elections. The Boston Globe and even Esquire gave it high praise. So Utah is worried about electing someone they didn't really want. Like that could ever happen.