nCongratulations, Utah, you’ve finally done it. National maps of pollution put together by the federal Environmental Protection Agency showed portions of the Wasatch Front with the worst air in the country in recent weeks. Hopefully, the Sundance visitors stayed in Park City and didn’t have to experience what wintertime means in the Salt Lake Valley.
A Tell-All Plea
nFormer state Rep. Mark Walker, R-Sandy, entered a “plea in abeyance” to allegations he offered a $50,000-plus bribe to get his opponent to drop out of the state treasurer’s race. The plea, which lets Walker maintain his innocence, could easily have been the unsatisfactory end to Utah’s biggest political hot potato. But it won’t be. Prosecutors are requiring that Walker answer lingering questions under oath about whether other powerful politicians were involved. After his plea, Walker told the gathered press there “was no Mr. Big.” Now we’ll know.
nNew leaders of Utah’s Senate have returned Sen. Chris Buttars to the legislative committee charged with selecting the state’s judges. Buttars, R-West Jordan, was stripped of his seat on the Judicial Confirmation Committee last year after revelations that Buttars had written a scathing letter to a judge who dared to rule against one of Buttars’ developer buddies. In the meantime, former-Senate President John Valentine is drafting a bill encouraging lawmakers to report future improper communications with judges to an ethics panel.
Bread and Buttars
nIt makes you feel a little fuzzy inside: Sen. Chris Buttars sitting down over a loaf of pumpkin bread with the gays. It happened recently when gay activists stopped by Buttars’ West Jordan home while canvassing door-to-door in the heart of the lion’s den. Buttars, a fierce opponent of past year’s gay rights initiatives, reportedly invited the activists inside for a little bread and lobbying. Following California’s recent banning of gay marriage, with backing from the LDS Church, Utah rights organizations are lobbying this year’s Utah Legislature for a slate of bills to add protections for homosexuals.