No More City Secrets
How sad is it that the only champion of transparency in city government is a failed Republican candidate? Oh, let's not forget a Salt Lake Tribune editorial that pointed out just about everyone's errors except its own. The Trib didn't join community activist George Chapman to appeal Salt Lake City's decision to keep its records on potential homeless shelter sites secret. It was up to Chapman—whose GOP bona fides in a Democratic city doomed his campaigns to unseat state Sen. Jim Dabakis and later to replace Mayor Ralph Becker. The State Records Committee was pretty gutless in its refusal to release the documents, saying Chapman should have challenged the closed meeting itself—but said they knew they weren't doing the "right" thing. The law favors shielding real estate discussions, but this was more than that. Including the community should be a no-brainer. Now Chapman's off to the Legislature to clarify the records law. Let's hope it doesn't backfire.
Senators in the Spotlight
There are no surprises coming from the mouth of U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch these days. For instance, he dissed the 135,000 Utahns who are covered under Obamacare as "on the dole," a Utah Policy story said. And ThinkProgress quoted him calling the Native Americans around Bears Ears "Indians" who don't understand how their lands would be affected. Just trust him, he said. But in the old days, Hatch used to be a man of compromise and collaboration. Not that Sen. Mike Lee is a champion of the little man, but it's beginning to look like he's the senator to watch. Lee recently called for Judge Merrick Garland to be appointed FBI director. He's questioned Donald Trump's Afghanistan build-up, and isn't totally in lockstep with the GOP's blind love affair with its newfound power. Maybe he's just more politically secure than Hatch.
There's an interesting interactive map on the Mother Nature Network that shows where in the world plastic bags have been banned. Places like Pakistan and Nigeria have banned the bags, on which retailers spend about $4 billion a year. The map also shows many places where bans have failed—most of them in the United States. But Utah can raise a weak cheer that Park City has now passed the first such ban in the state, according to KCPW. This is great because only about 8 percent of those bags are recycled. A U.N. program estimates that 46,000 pieces of plastic litter are floating in every square-mile of the ocean. Plastic bags end up in trees, in sea animal stomachs and, of course, in landfills. Park City wants to stop that.