Crandall Canyon Mine Disaster
When upper management gets the upper hand in any industry, you can pretty much predict that working conditions, wages and benefits will go downhill fast. The absence of meaningful government regulation means the foxes are guarding the henhouse and profits will naturally come before the people by whose sweat the foxes are making a comfortable living. But there are few industries in which unfettered laissez-faire labor policies are as dangerous as in coal mining. What union would have approved the unsafe extraction techniques used in the Crandall Canyon Mine? No amount of profits can bring back six dead miners and three rescue workers to provide for their families.
BEST GRASS ROOTS
Utah Moms for Clean Air
You know that the problem’s serious when it invokes the wrath of Utah moms, first with drunken driving and now with global warming. Seriously, these suburban moms are sick of pollution in our fair state in every form it takes. Whether it’s lobbying for school buses to stop choking school kids out with their idling exhausts or rallying against the proposed Mountain View Corridor running next to school playgrounds—we salute these Utah moms for kicking ass and taking names, and we hope to see more of it to come!
Pastor France A. Davis
Utah was still reeling from West Jordan Republican Sen. Chris Buttars’ double whammy of the “this baby is black” remark followed by referring to the NAACP as a “hate lynch mob.” When it looked like no one could forgive the curmudgeonly senator’s 19th-century sensibilities, Pastor France A. Davis of Salt Lake City’s predominantly black Calvary Baptist Church extended Buttars the olive branch. Davis met the senator behind closed doors and explained man-to-man the depths of Buttars’ thoughtless remarks and got the old crank to apologize to Davis’ congregation. Cynics might’ve considered the apology a trite publicity stunt had it not been brokered by Davis, a pillar in Utah’s African-American community whose plea for forgiveness did not fall on deaf ears. Now might be the time to forgive, but just don’t forget—especially come next election.
BEST TWO-WHEELED ACTIVISM
Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective
The good folks behind Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective have been promoting pedal power since 2002, but with ongoing winter inversions, massive road construction and ever-soaring gas prices, the nonprofit organization visibly stepped up its outreach efforts. In May 2007, the collective hosted the national Pedal Pusher Festival, with cycling-themed film screenings, performances by local bands and track-stand competitions. Serious cyclists, casual enthusiasts and music lovers parked their rides with the bike valet and learned something new that night. The collective also offers several in-store workshops so that newcomers won’t get stranded when the tire finally blows.
BEST LOCAL ISSUE
Any true Utahn knows that despite our Byzantine liquor laws, it is still possible in our fair state to get good and hammered or, for that matter, to just enjoy a casual beer or cocktail. But that’s not to say that we’re cozy with the way things are under this booze dictatorship. While in 2008, we may have gotten rid of the sidecar (at the expense of the Long Island Iced Tea), the teetotalers in the Legislature still oughta realize that, as far as high-falutin’ moralistic legislating goes, they’re cut off! It’s bad enough explaining to out-of-state acquaintances that “yes, you physically can carry more than two drinks at a time but legally, you can’t” or trying to pass off private memberships as an exclusive club as opposed to a badge of shame that it is to carry a wad of dirty membership receipts in your wallet. Yeah, this mess of liquor laws may only affect a “private club” of drinkers in Utah—but we’re all in it together … or we at least have a friend who is.
2. Domestic Partner Registration
When a delivery van intentionally plowed down Salt Lake City cyclist Marty Kasteler last summer, the horrifying news hit home with even those who didn’t personally know the amiable Koi piercer. Anyone who rides a bike for pleasure, exercise, work commute or vehicle of choice could imagine being a victim of similar road rage. The incident inspired an outpouring of support, from benefit concerts to yard sales and a Wells Fargo fund, while sparking an overdue conversation between motorists, cyclists and lawmakers. Through it all, Kasteler maintained an infectiously positive attitude, worrying more about his wife Nikki’s wellbeing and the safety of fellow riders. While the hit-and-run driver is still out there, Kasteler continues to make progress, re-learning to walk. Fortunately, he never forgot how to live.
BEST LOCAL SCANDAL
Anything Chris Buttars Says
Few thought it possible to actually stick your foot in your mouth so far that you could actually kick your own ass with it—that was, until Rep. Chris Buttars (R-West Jordan) followed up his infamous black-baby remark by describing critics as a “hate lynch mob.” Apparently, the filter between Buttars’ brain and mouth hasn’t been serviced since his first stint in politics in 1876. In a Tribune interview, Buttars later defended himself with, “How do I know what words I’m supposed to use in front of those people?” Amazingly, Buttars is running for re-election this November, in which case if “those people” and everybody else fails to do something about it, we’ll just save ourselves some work and keep Buttars’ name on the list for Best Scandal of ‘09.
2. Blue Boutique Relocation
3. KRCL Format Change
BEST ANTI-HPV CRUSADERS
Planned Parenthood Association of Utah
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, approximately 20 million Americans are infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV) and another 6.2 million become newly infected each year. If the numbers are surprising, consider this: Condoms are not 100 percent effective in preventing genital HPV, and if you’re sexually active, you have a good chance of getting it—whether you have one or myriad partners. Women can now protect themselves against all four HPV strains with a new vaccine (which prevents 70 percent of cervical cancer and 90 percent of genital warts), but, at $150 a shot in a three-dose series, few can afford it. Thanks to a generous grant from the state, PPAU is able to offer the vaccine to uninsured and underinsured patients up to age 26 for as low as $14 a shot. Now that’s progress.
654 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-532-1586, PlannedParenthood.org/utah
BEST PARTIES FOR THE DOGS
No More Homeless Pets
In theory, it shouldn’t take much to convince people to rescue cats and dogs from euthanasia. One look at Fido’s adorable mug, and he’s yours forever, right? No More Homeless Pets understands that, while people’s hearts go out to abandoned animals, it takes more than sympathy to save lives. The local nonprofit organization goes out of its way to find furry creatures a new home not just by posting cute photos on its Website but also throwing fabulous fund-raising and social networking events. Past parties include the annual Yappy Hour (now Summer Event) featuring the Doggie Diva runway show, and Rock the Dog, an outdoor concert with all-ages band Wonderdog. Next up: Strut Your Mutt in May at SugarHouse Park.
BEST NONPROFIT GROUP
Junior League of Salt Lake City
Not every socialite is Paris Hilton. In 1901, the social conscience of 19-year-old New York City debutante Mary Harriman led her to rally 80 other young women (hence the name “Junior”) to help the city’s immigrants with child health, nutrition and literacy. Eleanor Roosevelt, inspired by the volunteerism of her friend, would later join the league as would other future first ladies, a Supreme Court Justice and numerous elected officials. Our local chapter is known for hosting the largest free health fair in Utah (CARE Fair) as well as RISE, a program that assists refugee women, and the Women Helping Women self-sufficiency project. With no religious strings attached, this organization is volunteerism through and through, helping to build a better community. So, hats off, Leaguettes!
526 E. 300 South, 801-328-1019, JLSLC.org
2. Neighborhood House
3. No More Homeless Pets
BEST POWER TO THE (YOUNG) PEOPLE
Teen Lobby Day
Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. While we’re at it, let’s address the lack of information kids these days receive about hooking up and staying safe. That was the message 40 teenagers took to their legislators during the 2008 session. Encouraged to speak out by the Planned Parenthood Action Council, Equality Utah and Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, participants in February’s Teen Lobby Day made a powerful case for comprehensive sex-ed in Utah’s public schools. While no immediate bills were passed, students deemed the experience positive and hopeful. Here’s to a stronger, even more effective Teen Lobby Day in 2009.
BEST LEFT-VS.-RIGHT SMACKDOWN
Rocky vs. Hannity
It was the self-absorbed blowhard with a political ax to grind against … the other guy. In May 2007, then-Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and Fox News’ agitator Sean Hannity finally took their war of words to the U’s Kingsbury Hall stage, and we all watched breathlessly. Anderson diligently stayed on (Power)point; Hannity countered with snide personal remarks and empty wordplay. And, as is true of nearly every exchange of political views in contemporary America, everyone who paid attention really only expected to watch sparks fly, cheer for the guy they already agreed with and learn nothing new.
|BEST STATE LEGISLATOR
While each of the eight Democrats in the Utah state Senate fights the good fight, Scott McCoy, representing Senate District 2 in Salt Lake City, has grabbed more than his share of the limelight since his appointment to the Senate in 2005 and re-election in 2006. Name a controversial bill and McCoy is likely to have weighed in or been sought out for the contrarian’s position. McCoy got four of his bills through in 2008, including one that allowed private clubs and restaurants to serve alcohol on Election Day. What didn’t make it to the guv’s desk? Fining parents for smoking in their cars with young children present. Can’t win ‘em all, Scott—but readers seem to want you to keep questioning authority.
2. Jackie Biskupski
3. Ross Romero