No big surprise here: Money talks. Utah’s School & Institutional Trust Lands Administration has decided to ignore concerns from the governor, wildlife officials and partners working with Rep. Rob Bishop to preserve land from drilling in the Book Cliffs. SITLA hammered out its deal with Andarko behind closed doors, allowing the company to look for oil and gas for the next five years in the highly prized Book Cliffs. The drilling could take place on 18,000 acres in the lower south section, and could bring in $6 million per well to SITLA, which then distributes it to local school districts. Sure, schools need the money. But what message does this send during sensitive talks on conservation and land exchanges? The priority is not wildlife or pristine panoramas that cannot be restored. It’s money.
At least there’s some discussion of an issue that puts citizens’ lives in jeopardy. The sad case of Matthew David Stewart highlighted tragedy from both sides—the shooting death of an officer and the subsequent jailhouse suicide of Stewart, all because of a questionable search warrant. Both the Libertas Institute and the American Civil Liberties Union are lobbying for a legislative debate on the proper use of search warrants. Was it necessary to send an armed contingent of tactical officers to serve a warrant on a marijuana charge? No doubt the whole marijuana question will come into play, especially in light of the recent call by a sick child’s mother to approve medical marijuana in Utah. But drugs are not the issue. The reasonable use of force is.
Maybe you’ve seen some of the dark-blue yard signs blaring, “Corporations Are Not People.” While the U.S. Supreme Court thinks they are, Salt Lake City voters can now weigh in through a Sept. 9 opinion vote. Utah has been an outlier in the efforts to overturn the 2010 Citizens United decision that gave corporations the unfettered ability to use money to influence elections. The Move to Amend movement is spanning the nation, and has already had major victories. In 2012, a supermajority of Illinois voters said they want to amend the Constitution. Justice John Paul Stevens called corporate personhood a “useful legal fiction.” Two hundred and five municipalities have already passed resolutions in favor of an amendment. Now it’s Salt Lake’s turn.