OK, we get sequestration—sort of. It’s all about forcing Congress to do something about the budget, and when it won’t, making everyone else suffer. We’ve seen air-traffic-control towers close, the backed-up federal courts trimmed and, now, two Salt Lake County food pantries close—one directly because of sequestration. The Salt Lake Community Action Program closed its Neighborhood Food Center in Murray, sending its clients to other pantries. Catholic Community Services also closed the food pantry at its St. Vincent de Paul Resource Center. Political conservatives believe that volunteerism can fill the gaps in service, but volunteers are not only strapped themselves, but also unpredictable in the long term. Still, some are trying to help. Salt Lake Community College, Home Depot and Apple Spice Junction have opened a new Tuesday-only food bank in South Salt Lake.
Gov. Gary Herbert is being urged to sign the Snake Valley water pact. You know the rationale: You have to have a seat at the table to make a difference. But if the table is stacked with water-sucking advocates, then what good is it? The idea is to allow Nevada to pump water in the Snake Valley aquifer through a 385-mile pipeline to Las Vegas, where water fountains spring eternal. Bright lights aside, Vegas could start sucking the West Desert dry, creating a toxic dust bowl that would blow all the way north to Salt Lake City. Estimates of how much water would be drained are suspect. Herbert needs to just say no, even if it means a court fight with Nevada. Hey, Utah doesn’t mind legal wrangling with the feds, does it?
Ever wondered what goes on in a courtroom or why Utah judges keep getting re-elected with 80-plus percent of the vote? Wonder no more. Utah courts are about to let the sunshine in by allowing proceedings to be videotaped or other-wise recorded on a host of devices. This instantly transforms Utah courtrooms into some of the most open in the country. Only 14 states still ban television news cameras from trials. A few Utah judges worried that they’d lose control of their courtrooms, but most don’t think it will be a problem. And judges can still ban recording in special circumstances. Utah is ahead of the pack by allowing smartphones, too, at least when intimidation or gang violence isn’t an issue.