Land Rush? No Rush
The most important take-away from the public-lands debate is that it isn't going to end soon. You may think it's all about Recapture Canyon critic Phil Lyman asking the public to pay his legal bills— and, who knows? The anti-federalist Utah Legislature just may do that. "What is [the state's] motive behind a land grab that's sure to cost millions in legal fees, and millions more in management?" writes Spencer Durrant in the Standard-Examiner. "One word: energy." And energy means money for businesses, and mounting costs for the state. Montana's governor recently vetoed a Utah-inspired bill to create a land-transfer task force. Former forest ranger Jerry Covault notes that "this same destructive story was beginning to happen in the American West in the late 1800s. At that time, short-sighted land policies were primarily to produce profits from logging and grazing." It's never a done deal.
Count Their Vote
While the Republicans can't seem to get enough of lawsuits, the Utah GOP seemed to acquiesce to reality and voted to comply with Senate Bill 54, the compromise bill letting candidates gather signatures to get on the ballot. It's not like that would strip the party of its already overwhelming power in the state, but at least it would give those few rebellious Republicans an electioneering chance. Of course, state party Chairman James Evans is none too happy, and Gov. Gary Herbert and GOP Convention Selection Chairwoman Enid Greene Mickelsen just want to stop the pain. But the pain is all in the minds of the central committee. Everyone knows that the party is the place to play.
O Ye of Little Funds
There is nothing more Utah than the phrase "have faith." So why was it surprising to hear the superintendent of education call on Utahns to have faith "that we can change this very big, very complex system in a way that benefits our kids?" Don't look for money or even resources to get this done. Superintendent Brad Smith was speaking to the choir at the conservative Utah Taxes Now conference. He's already labeled Utah teachers whiners for seeking more money for classrooms, and now he's on the record saying there's no great shame in being dead last in the nation for student funding. That these statements came after his April apology and clarification about funding and teachers makes you question the chief school administrator who comes to the position with no particular credentials.