The board of directors for the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control met dozens of times in inappropriate closed-door meetings between January 2009 and April 2010, according to a new legislative audit (PDF). Many of those meetings were held to determine which applicants were awarded one of the extremely limited club licenses. Commissioners used the exemption in open-meetings laws for discussions about “character or professional competence,” yet many of the discussions were actually related to the club’s proximity to church buildings and schools. Dennis Kellen, in the DABC response published in the audit, said the closed meetings were legal because votes were taken in open meetings. Except, as anyone who has watched a DABC meeting can attest, those votes usually came with little explanation for the club owners. That’s unfair, especially when most of these clubs are locally owned. Then again, maybe that’s what is to be expected when a state-owned monopoly is running things.
Ballet West is planning to continue calling downtown Salt Lake City home. On Oct. 25, the dance company announced its intention to build a $32 million facility on a currently empty lot adjacent to the Capitol Theatre. The new building will house six studios, as well as meeting and banquet rooms. Ballet West committed to remain in the downtown area after Salt Lake County stepped in with more than $10 million in funding assistance, including the purchase of the land. The new center further strengthens the Capitol Theatre’s viability, which is arguably the gem of whatever arts district evolves in downtown.
Slash & Burn
In the final days before the election, Mike Lee is starting to fly his extremely freaky conservative flag. During a town hall meeting in Orem on Oct. 22, Lee—who is favored to replace ousted Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, in the U.S. Senate—said that balancing the federal budget would require cuts of 40 percent or more. While that may sound extreme, the thought of a showdown with President Barack Obama over those kinds of cuts made him “giddy.” In a response, Democratic candidate Sam Granato called the cuts “ridiculously irresponsible” and said they would “cripple the economy for years to come.” That pretty much sums it up. Yes, the federal budget can probably use some trimming, but slashing it almost in half would go well beyond getting rid of waste.