Mug Shots Shot Down
Maybe you think the Legislature has your best interests at heart when it ventures into the realm of personal privacy. Let's look at it another way. Lawmakers might only be interested in protecting the lawless and keeping watchdog journalists out of their hair. This is a complicated issue, and who knew there's a whole mug-shot publishing industry out there that tends to serve the tabloid news? The Standard Examiner noted the passage of House Bill 228, sponsored by Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, which protects those booked but later found innocent who then have to pay ransom to some website to take down their mug shot. Good luck with that in a digital age where trolls and Russians are better at hacking than your teenager. And Stratton is not the only one. This is a national effort with New York looking at legislation, too. The better idea might have been for Stratton to penalize the so-called "publish-for-pay" websites. But that would be too hard, and the local news media are an easier target.
Tiny 'Opt-Out' Bubbles
That was a close one! It was also a strange one. Parents at North Ogden's Maria Montessori Academy were told they could opt out their kids from Black History Month curriculum. Well, not so much. Turns out that Black history is part of the social studies curriculum, but the new principal of the charter school likely reluctantly acquiesced to some parents wanting to spare their children from the country's problematic racial history. Only three of the 322 students are Black, according to the Standard-Examiner, and maybe they like living in their little bubble. Fox13 noted that Utah law allows parents to opt their children out of portions of curriculum based on religious beliefs or right of conscience. Black history does not qualify. The opt-out offer was wisely rescinded because the law would have had to add racism as a reason to decline instruction.
Gentrify and Die
Affordable housing. It's a nice term that no one knows how to define. The Legislature appears to be focused on "accessory dwelling units"—mainly mother-in-law apartments, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. Easing regulations might ease demand a little but wouldn't address things like parking issues. Some 30 percent of renters need affordable housing and that requires bigger thinking. If you look around the Capital City, you'll see high-rises everywhere. Some of these developments are pushing out iconic small businesses like the Tavernacle, featured on Fox13 News. Remember the Sugar Hole? That scar sat vacant for years after throwing out the mom-and-pop businesses that defined the area. The latest dust-up is between state lawmakers and municipalities over who's in charge. The real question is who do you trust? Where is the systemic plan amid all the understandable anxiety?