Isolate the Virus | Private Eye | Salt Lake City Weekly
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News » Private Eye

Isolate the Virus



Nothing makes me feel better about a politician than when he or she lives up to my minimalist expectations of good and honest behavior. Unfortunately, after four decades of voting for politicians and dogcatchers all, I've found it's mostly the dogcatchers who've exceeded my minimalist threshold. That's partly because I've voted mostly Democrat in Utah, so my votes have primarily gone for naught, leaving me only the dogcatchers on whom to hang my hopes. I've seldom voted for a winner in a Utah election.

Utah's mom and pop businesses are drowning in the shallow puddle of political talk and no action. There really is nowhere for a local businessperson to turn. From barbers to manicurists to delivery truck drivers, from waitresses to musicians to artists, from cooks to salespeople to Uber drivers—people are hurting and are learning fast that their government leaders are the last ones they can depend upon in a crisis.

Our local governments have universally combined to wreak havoc and confusion among their business community constituents. And in that vacuum, individuals—as always—are stepping up to fill the void left by local governments that are basically sitting on the sidelines right now. Here are few of them:

Young Automotive Group—It's been said by me privately, written about in this space, and announced publicly at numerous City Weekly events that if not for the generosity and kindness of a very small group of companies and individuals, there might not even be a City Weekly newspaper. The Young Automotive Group (YAG) is one of them. Led by the calm and confident Spencer Young with his three talented sons—Spencer Jr., Oliver and Winslow—YAG quietly has become Utah's third-largest automotive dealership.

Look at virtually any cause or program with a special social resonance, and you'll find the Young name. Stepping up during COVID-19 is natural to them. On April 10, they coordinated eight Pantry Parades, collecting more than 5 tons of goods that were used to restock local food pantries. This coming Friday, on April 24, the YAG will conduct their Pantry Parade in North Logan, Providence and Smithfield. Please give to a company that always gives back.

Ty Burrell—You know Burrell as the sly, smiling realtor Phil Dunphy from the long-running television program Modern Family (and also from an array of funny commercials such as that for Gain detergent, in which he sits on a forlorn beach, unable to move on after losing a sweetheart who wore a scarf that he rubs against his nose. C'mon!). You may know him from Broadway or minor film and TV roles, but probably not if you're reading this derelict newspaper.

You might even know Burrell spent a minute as a bartender, which might explain his passion for the club business and his ninth inning, walk-off home run in support of area bartenders and waitresses, the "Tip Your Server" program. Over several years, Burrell (who has family ties to Utah) and other investors bought Park City's famed Eating Establishment, opened the Beer Bar on Second South in Salt Lake City, and remade the old males-only beer matron Bar-X next to the Beer Bar into a classic cocktail club. Their group will also expand—and preserve—the iconic Cotton Bottom, home of the famous Garlic Burger.

Burrell and his wife Holly started the "Tip Your Server" crowdsource program with a $100,000 donation of their own money. Those funds will go to Utah's hospitality workers displaced by COVID-19. Consider this: Salt Lake City has only created a single $1,000,000 fund for all businesses affected by industry shutdowns. When you realize how much one citizen can do, you realize how much we all can do—and you also get the perspective of how little governments really do when it matters most. You can bet they will pose for pictures, though.

More: Ogden's Own Distillery has stepped to the plate, converting its alcoholic spirits capacity into the making of hand sanitizer. In just a month, they've made thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer and are taking calls for the product as far away as New York City, as one of the singular products methods to stop COVID-19 is in short supply, even at the heart of the crisis. Meanwhile, Odgen's Own is donating profits during April and May to Utah's hospitality industry workers. Between them and Burrell, who needs a government?

Also, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort donated 10,000 pounds of food to their employees. Presto Print on 400 South printed and distributed thousands of plastic face covers for hospital health workers. And, thousands of individuals are making ever more thousands of protective face masks. It was estimated there were only 1% of Americans had access to a mask a week ago, so there's only 300 million more masks to go. It will happen.

That's how it's done. In the 1983 Salt Lake City floods, citizens from all over the valley filled and dropped sandbags to lessen flood damage. After tornados, fires or other disasters, it's our family, friends and neighbors who help each other. Now, more than ever, it will be up to all of us and all of them because, simply, no other disaster or need in the past has been so politicized, even to the point that our federal government is playing poker against the states with vital, life-saving materials. It's made easier when our local governments just roll over and acquiesce so long as regional ambitions are met.

While the effects of the pandemic linger, we will vote. My vote will be for people like those above, not those who do little more than cite stats and feel none of the pain felt by displaced workers and small businesses. Isolate the virus and vote them out.

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