You go, girl! Francine Giani is no one to mess with—at least that’s what it looks like from the videotaped meeting where she gave Utah liquor commissioners a piece of her mind. Giani is executive director of the Department of Commerce and has a long history in Republican administrations, going back to Gov. Norm Bangerter. She got thrown into the liquor fray after a scathing legislative audit alleged incompetence and possible bid-rigging. Commissioners called for a closed-door meeting, which they got over Giani’s objections. She doesn’t “do” closed-door meetings and wouldn’t care if the public heard their exchange, which was later released. In the ongoing turf battle, Giani ultimately said, “Dr. [Richard] Sperry, you don’t know me very well. You ought to talk to some people who do. I’ve been in bigger fights with bigger people than you.”
Politics is a guy thing, right? In Utah, that’s certainly the case. This year, the state ranked 43rd in the number of women serving as state legislators. That’s 5 of 29 state senators and 13 of 75 representatives. Ouch! Back when the state was celebrating its Centennial, a bipartisan group of women started the 100 Years 100 Women campaign to recruit women to run for office. Statistics show that women win at the same rate as men, but fewer actually run. The effort was successful—women ran for school boards, the Legislature and just about everything. But it didn’t stick. Now, the YWCA of Salt Lake City and the Hinckley Institute of Politics are spearheading “Real Women Run,” a campaign to put women in office. Public-leadership training starts in January.
So much for the Bureau of Land Management protecting Utah public lands. It issued a draft environmental study saying it’s probably OK to lease 3,500 acres of federal land near Bryce Canyon National Park. That means an existing 635-acre coal mine could expand its operations, and the city of Panguitch could see coal trucks barreling down Main Street. The lure of jobs—no matter how few (160)—just tickles politicians. Environmentalists object because coal is “dirty” and the mine could discourage tourism. The issue brings forward the tension between heavy industry and tourism, as well as the ongoing fight over “clean” energy. And it recalls the displeasure over Gov. Gary Herbert’s apparent attraction to the state’s mining interests, not to mention the campaign donations he’s received from them.