nSome Utah legislators have joined Utah’s Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates in calling for ethics reform next year. The request comes after a frustrating, weeklong House Ethics Committee hearing that ended with the committee dropping all charges against Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, but penning a letter calling him a naughty boy. In the bizarre letter, the committee wrote that some of Hughes’ actions were “unbecoming” but added the Legislature’s rules on proper behavior are so vague that lawmakers can’t be expected to know “whether certain behavior is ethical or not.” Apparently, Utah lawmakers can’t recognize a bribe unless there is a written rule against it. Until new rules are written, the committee recommends “ongoing ethics training for all members as quickly as possible.”
nHold off on those end-of-Bush celebrations. As the president packs bags full of White House-monogrammed bath towels, Bush administration officials are preparing a last gift basket for the oil and gas industry—at Utah’s expense. Bush’s Bureau of Land Management recently released six new plans for the future management of 11 million acres of public land in Utah. Out the window go “areas of critical environmental concern,” replaced with a new ethic of “drill, baby drill.” Environmentalists have just a few weeks to register objections before the plans—guiding BLM lands for decades—become final, opening roadless areas to ATVs and opening sensitive land to oil and gas drilling. And Dick Cheney’s finger is still hovering over the big red button marked “Iran.”
nWith political hacks and their lawyers doing all they can before Nov. 4 to block Americans from the ballot box, it’s refreshing to see Utah election officials doing their part for democracy. Salt Lake County has spread 15 early voting locations through the county where residents can cast a ballot before Election Day. Before the voter registration deadline passed on Oct. 20, the county clerk even set up drive-through voter registration in the parking lot of the county government center to make it as easy as possible for an expected crush of new voters to sign up. Hopefully, such efforts will counteract a Utah polling system that a recent New York University study found was more likely to experience meltdown than Florida’s.