Free Kittens, Ambulance Monopoly & Democratic Majority 

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1,800 Lives Saved
Faced with a growing population of homeless cats, Salt Lake County Animal Services decided to entice people with everyone’s favorite F word: Free. Anyone who adopts a cat over six months old does not have to pay the $65 fee for neutering, vaccinating, and putting a microchip in the animal. Since the county began the program in the spring of 2009, director Shawni Larrabee says that compared to previous years, more than 200 additional cats have been adopted. The success of the program has them looking at extending it to other animals that are harder to get adopted and, as a result, must be euthanized. Christmas shopping for a new family pet just got a lot easier.

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Emergency Monopoly
On Dec. 20, Southwest Ambulance will end its service contract with Salt Lake City, leaving only one private ambulance provider in Salt Lake County, Gold Cross. The problem, says Southwest official Boo Heffner, is that the current state-regulated system creates a de facto monopoly. Under current law, individual service districts—a city or a fire district like the Unified Fire Authority—can choose one provider for emergency transports and one for ferrying patients between facilities, known as nonemergency transfers. Currently, Gold Cross is the provider for those nonemergency transfers in almost every service area. Because state law only permits competitive bids every four years, Heffner says it is too costly for any other company to challenge Gold Cross. For three years, Southwest tried to change the exclusive-contract policy through the supposedly free-market Legislature but failed. Now, even when come up for bid, it will likely come down to one company.

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Starting Local
Essentially operating like a third party statewide, Democrats are now the majority party in Salt Lake County. It’s a slim margin and one the party hopes to maintain by building goodwill at the precinct level. This is done through community service projects and by encouraging the party faithful to get evangelical with their neighbors. To organize those efforts, the Salt Lake County Democratic Party has hired a full-time executive director, Jeremy Slaughter, who holds a master’s degree from the U of U and has campaign experience in a half-dozen states. At long last, the Salt Lake County Democrats seem to be taking themselves seriously—which is a good place to start.

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Josh Loftin

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