Residents who were forced to leave their homes after a June oil spill in Red Butte Creek were offered a few hundred dollars for their troubles by Chevron, whose pipeline caused the leak. Oh, and accepting that money meant the residents were waiving their right to any further legal claims. Now, Salt Lake City officials are crying foul and talking tough to Chevron. Chevron spokesman Dan Johnson told The Salt Lake Tribune that the company is “retooling” its claim processes, and he isn’t sure how things got so “complicated.” Actually, it’s simple: Chevron was trying to wiggle its way out of a legal mess for a few hundred dollars and got caught. Surprise, surprise.
Although former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson has kept a relatively low profile since leaving office, he recently threw some jabs at his successor, Ralph Becker. During an interview on ABC 4’s On the Record, Anderson said that “we need leadership,” which Becker has not provided. He was specifically critical of Becker’s decision to charge for the Salt Lake City International Jazz Festival and the cancellation of youth arts programs, as well as flawed planning decisions such as permitting a skybridge across downtown’s Main Street, advancing the Northwest Quadrant project and the new public safety building.
Utah elections officials continue to throw new obstacles at Utahns for Ethical Government, which is trying to put an initiative on the 2012 ballot. Already, officials have prevented the group from using electronic signatures. Now, a one-year window for collecting signatures, which will close on Aug. 12, may actually be closer to 10 months. According to Paul Neuenschwander, the chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, who oversees elections law, clerks need at least six weeks to certify the signatures. Oh, and any of those signatures collected during their failed attempt to get on the 2010 ballot—even though it’s the same petition—are no longer valid. While Neuenschwander does say that “there are a lot of uncertainties ... the law has never been questioned,” elections officials seem intent on making it as difficult as possible for a citizen’s initiative simply to be put to a vote of the people.