Hits & Misses | Nice Judges, Gay Rights Reform & BLM Improvement 

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Judge Not
nAfter Utah’s Senate shot down Judge Robert Hilder’s nomination for the Utah Court of Appeals, the outpouring from the legal community was deafening. One lawyer told City Weekly the only time he’d seen Hilder angry was when the judge had a tooth abscess—and Hilder called afterwards to apologize. Lawyers used words like “brilliant” describing Hilder, but the Legislature’s gun nuts believed—wrongly—the judge meddled with their plans for arming the University of Utah. His only crime was applying the law instead of politics. Among those most critical of Hilder was Sen. Chris “Black Baby” Buttars who got into hot water earlier this year for writing a threatening letter to another judge who dared rule against the senator’s developer pal.

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Good PR
nA committee of Utah’s Legislature wasted no time in giving a preliminary nod to a bill offering gays equal standing to sue for the wrongful death of a partner. It’s the first of several gay-rights bills lawmakers are being challenged to pass next year as a sort of act of contrition for Utah’s help passing Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California. Bills on medical insurance, housing and employment will test public statements made by lawmakers and the LDS Church that being anti-gay marriage doesn’t mean they are pro-discrimination. If legislators don’t see the civil-rights argument, they should at least recognize the PR value. Utah’s mass tourism marketing dollars threaten to be overwhelmed by Proposition 8 opponents branding Utah “the hate state.”

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Making Nice
nThe Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service—two federal agencies that sit in the same Interior Department—have decided to talk to each other. The result just might be a decision not to set up oil or gas rigs next to Delicate Arch. Relations between to the two got steamy when parks directors discovered BLM plans to auction oil and gas leases at the gates of Arches and Canyonlands national parks and near Dinosaur National Monument. Meetings already have resulted in an agreement for the BLM to inform parks directors of any similar plans in the future. The BLM also has withdrawn plans to let the drilling start on a Moab golf course. Hopefully, they will see that mining the national parks is just as silly.

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Ted McDonough

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