Stop the Secrecy
The most questionable aspect of the homeless shelter process is its secrecy. Has history taught us anything? Government's "just trust us" mentality has brought us Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and numerous other whistleblowers from both sides of the aisle. Then there's the prevalent attitude that government officials are elected because they are just sooo much smarter than everyone else. In this case, it was probably more about fear than egotism. Derek Kitchen called it a tough job, and, gee, there were so many opportunities to weigh in. In fact, the final decision on the sites was made behind closed doors, and the mayor has refused to answer questions about the effect. It was obvious no one wanted to face the inevitable public opposition. But that's their job. When a BYU professor wrote a letter to The Salt Lake Tribune, several of the comments went right to what Donald Trump, not Biskupski, will do with power.
Despite the fact that the mayor just wants the public to go sit in the corner, the shelter sites might have some worth. Let's face it—the Sugar House site is the most controversial and perhaps holds the most promise. That, of course, is why the city council and mayor should have made more of an effort to talk to potential neighbors before making their decision. They didn't, and now there's a petition to force that dialogue. Some are threatening to sell their homes, others are concerned about their businesses dying, and a few are welcoming the opportunity to interact with the less dangerous segment of the homeless population—such as single moms and their kids—according to the daily newspapers. Anna Brower Thomas was one: "Bring on our new homeless friends! I hope to have many breakfasts at Dee's with my new neighbors."
Take a deep breath and hold it until spring. Or you could hold it until 2019—the EPA compliance deadline for Logan, Provo and Salt Lake City's dirty air. These cities, as well as Anchorage, Alaska, have the distinction of failed compliance. In other words, we're still breathing all that "fine" particulate pollution. It's not for lack of trying, although Utah tries by "encouraging" people to do stuff. Next month, The Salt Lake Tribune notes, there's an initiative to ask employers—pretty please—to be more flexible with start times. And then there are all those people expected to grow the city by 2020. Maybe none of this will matter if Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt—a climate change denier and EPA opponent—is confirmed as head of that agency.