Bitch, bitch, grumble, grumble. It was with some disdain that Utah legislative leaders finally released 16,000 pages of documents related to the state’s redistricting. The state Democratic Party threatened to sue for release of the materials, which they were offered at the alleged rock-bottom price of $9,250. The Government Records Access Management Act allows entities to charge for time and copying, and also requires that release be in the “public interest.” But because the Dems want to prove shady dealings, legislative leaders were loathe to agree—at least until local media got involved. The real question is why these documents weren’t available electronically immediately, and why others can’t be put online, too. There’s something a little Dark Ages about hard copies, anyway. Wouldn’t it be cheaper and less painful to post documents as events happen? It’s the public’s business, and that means it’s in the public’s interest.
Oh, dang! Salt Lake City doesn’t have enough scofflaws to balance the budget. That’s right. The city was counting on revenue from parking violations to shore up its $205.8 million budget, but estimates fell short by $225,000. Oops. Apparently, parking-ticket dismissals have gone up 200 percent with the advent of the new parking kiosks. If it’s not bad enough that you have to pay $2 an hour up until 8 p.m., now you’re getting blamed for appealing your tickets. Now, as the holiday season approaches, the city dons its Grinch suit and cancels the free two-hour curbside parking that used to extend through the Christmas shopping season. So beware, if you want to shop downtown, just know that your parking tickets will be a gift to the budget.
Well, at least someone realizes that taking over federal lands isn’t just a matter of thumbing your nose at Washington, D.C. A deputy attorney general told legislators that they need to get their ducks in a row before flipping the bird to the feds. A big issue, a new study says, is assuring affected counties that they’ll still get the big bucks from management of the lands. The feds spend more than $200 million a year, and the state gets $141 million in mineral royalties and $34.7 million as payment in lieu of taxes. The Southern Utah Wilderness Association notes that transfer of the lands wouldn’t be a big money-maker. Duh. But Kathleen Clark, who oversees public lands for the state, wants a commission to further study the idea. After all, she notes, the “federal forests are infested with bugs.” Really?