A statement recently posted at the LDS Church’s official Webpage holds good news for those who think the time has come to chuck Utah’s ridiculous private club law: It doesn’t say “No.” The statement makes clear church fathers don’t like alcohol, but calls for working with clubs for “laws and regulations that allow individual freedom of choice,” while boosting health and safety. Alcohol regulation, the church argues, should aim to limit overconsumption, reduce drunken driving and stop underage drinking. Those are goals all can agree on. And the church statement leaves the door open for the tourism industry to argue that “a focus on health and safety” can be improved by heaving over an anachronistic and confusing private club law that only succeeds in pissing off tourists.
It would be easier to feel for state agencies suffering from high fuel costs if government bureaucrats weren’t all driving around in SUVs. A new report from the Legislative Fiscal Analyst’s Office finds Utah is spending twice as much on fuel as it did four years ago. That’s $18 million on vehicle fuel, despite the same number of cars in the state fleet. A key difference over the four years is that more and more state officials are driving around in SUVs, the number of gas guzzlers having increased 12 percent during the years studied. The state Legislature authorized bigger cars after state agencies argued they could get more for them at trade-in time. Plus, SUVs make you look important.
Not everyone in Utah is a bigot. WordPerfect co-founder Bruce Bastian sent that message loud and clear by writing out a $1 million check to the campaign opposing California’s Proposition 8. The proposed ballot question aims to ban gay marriage in the Golden State. But it threatens to give Utah a black eye. Since a call from the LDS Church for members to work for passage of Proposition 8, the initiative has taken on a Mormon hue. By some estimates, Mormons are the single largest source of funding for California’s anti-gay forces. The call for support from the church inspired Bastian, a former Mormon himself. In making his $1 million donation to the Human Rights Campaign, he said the church should keep its nose out of politics.