Uh-oh! American Fork could be dishing out a whole lot of trouble by erecting barriers to the homeless. They don’t like “aggressive” beggars down there, so they’ve put up some concrete barriers to keep them out of the medians and away from motorists at red lights. Of course, it’s not the end of begging altogether. But the American Civil Liberties Union just filed suit against a similar ordinance in Worcester, Mass. Both cities are citing public-safety issues, with beggars jaywalking and standing in the midst of traffic. Neither city has banned begging outright, but there is an underlying disdain for the homeless. This at a time when hate crimes against the homeless are on the rise even as homeless numbers drop in Utah, purportedly because of good services. In 2011, 105 attacks on homeless people nationally resulted in 32 deaths, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless.
It’s enough to make you want to throw the tea in the bay, except we don’t do tea in Utah and there’s a lake here, not a bay. Anyway: Property taxes are going to go up. Start with Kennecott and its unfortunate landslide and layoffs. Because the company’s taxes depend on its profits, taxpayers will have to pick up the slack pretty soon. Then there’s Salt Lake City School District, which is finding that the Legislature’s 2 percent handout this year will barely be enough to cover retirement, cost-of-living raises, federal cutbacks and academic programs. Meanwhile, property-tax relief for seniors and the disabled is going unused. Perhaps some coordination, if not good communication, is needed, because certainly these two groups deserve help in highly taxing times.
Utah’s Academy Award-winning producer Geralyn Dreyfous may not have won this year, but she’s certainly got some winners in the wings. One is about Utah’s own Jon Huntsman Jr. and his work in China. Of course, he’s not there anymore, but the film gives insight to a complex and charismatic ex-governor who may be on the road to the presidential nomination. Dreyfous, founder of the Utah Film Center, was also instrumental in KUED’s airing of The Invisible War, which illuminated the predicament military personnel face when raped in the service. It was nominated for an Oscar this year. Two other films are promising: One in a Billion, a comedic documentary about cultures colliding over marriage, and Midway, a moving documentary about the world’s propensity for plastic imperiling wildlife.