Well, you know, Utahns like a drink now and then, and, for the most part, we abide by Utah’s draconian laws—the Zion curtain, the use of euphemisms like “spirits,” stuff like that. But now we’re sure there’s some kind of conspiracy afoot to smear Utah’s fun-loving reputation and send the Sundance Film Festival to a friendlier state. The new director of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control says no-no to a drink at the bar while waiting for a restaurant table. The question is why—really. But on the heels of enforcement, the conservative Sutherland Institute suggests the state stop supporting Sundance because of “the amount of sexual promiscuity” it brings. “It seems similarly indecent that Utah’s major economic development agencies basically endorsed the event.” Yes, this sounds like an agenda to get rid of Sundance.
For the Deseret News and its faith-based news model, marriage is a front-page story. And that’s OK, until you consider the lack of balance. A recent one-source story highlighted the Sutherland Institute’s report on the state of marriage here and concluded that Utah could do better—like, say, they do in Utah County, where they have “the highest and most positive key family indicators.” And “aside from the slightly higher divorce rates, Utah maintains low abortion, cohabitation and unwed-birth rates, as well as low child-poverty rates.” Bottom line is that Sutherland wants ideas on strengthening marriage (between one man and one woman, in this life), and it looks like they already have some. The Eagle Forum talked about a public school course on the monetary benefits of marriage. Meanwhile, the state is giving up federal bucks for its Healthy Marriage Initiative—for needy families.
Now that the iconic Leigh von der Esch has retired as managing director of Tourism, Film & Global Branding at the Utah Office of Tourism, it will be up to new appointee Vicki Varela to make sure Utah remains a prime destination for film production. This could be a huge challenge given the aforesaid attacks on the Sundance Festival, but Varela is a shrewd and competent facilitator. She was former Gov. Mike Leavitt’s spokeswoman during his popular terms in office, worked on the Winter Olympics campaign and helped make Kennecott look like a hero with its Daybreak development. Varela is always professional and persuasive, so we hope she can move the state forward despite the recent rash of craziness.