It's official. Utah is a Libertarian state. On the tax front, Utahns voted against taxing themselves just a little to fund education and, of course, roads. And then they decided it would be a great idea to allow developers to avoid taxes in new developments—probably the Inland Port. They also apparently thought, yeah, the Legislature should be able to call itself into session "in an emergency." And it looks like about half of Utahns are happy to let legislators draw voting districts around the voters they like. After all, a Dan Jones & Associates poll in January showed that 62 percent of Utahns approve of the job legislators are doing. It wasn't enough that the governor can do the same. "The Libertarian Party is fundamentally opposed to the use of force to coerce people into doing anything," the party says. That mostly means taxes. We're just fine letting the Legislature do whatever it wants to us.
A Win for San Juan
There's good news and bad news in San Juan County. The good news is for people who believe in fair voting that does not intentionally exclude people of color—in this case, Navajos. A federal judge ordered districts realigned and thus placed Willie Grayeyes on the ballot and another Navajo Democrat in an unopposed seat, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. That means the county commission has a Navajo majority. The bad news has to do with the rule of law and how the newly elected state representative plans to defy it. Phil Lyman, the powerful county commissioner and convicted anti-federal champion, won the open seat left by Rep. Mike Noel of Cowboy Caucus fame. He told Four Corners Free Press in May he would not comply with the redistricting order and would be "happy to be held in contempt."
Have we learned nothing from the intense pushback over siting homeless shelters in Salt Lake County? Suddenly, the shelters were in "my backyard," and people didn't like it. Now we have a fight for the future of the old Cottonwood Mall site as voters rejected a $500-million mixed-use development. Meanwhile, the Utah Supreme Court is considering the matter, you know, because the housing shortage is so damned critical. Developer Ivory Homes is threatening to walk, according to the Deseret News, and everyone's upset. Yes, Utah is facing a housing crisis, maybe more for lack of affordable housing than anything else. But we live in a world of authoritarian governing. Perhaps a little persuasion, education and compromise would work better than histrionics.