Hits & Misses | Utah: Less Red, Drilling Canyonlands & Fighting Gangs 

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We’re No. 3
nOklahoma and Wyoming now rank ahead of Utah in the competition for most red state, following the Nov. 4 election. Both states gave a greater share of votes to McCain than Utah. The Republican presidential candidate won Utah with a paltry 29 percent margin. That compares to the 45.5 victory Utah gave George W. in his last go-round. It takes a magnifying glass to see it, but the Utah map is turning a little bluer. In Salt Lake County, Democrats now control the County Council after the election victory of Jani Iwamoto. The post-election shakeup of the GOP leadership in the Legislature suggests moderates are gaining ground. Signs, perhaps, that the Beehive State can look forward to something like two-party democracy in the future.

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Drill, Baby, Drill
nCould there be a sight more lovely than oil rigs dotting the entrances of Utah’s National Parks? (And a brochure explaining rock formations through Bible verse?) That may have been Sarah Palin’s idea of a great family vacation, but post election, the feds should take a second look at recently released plans for oil and gas leases on park borders. The National Parks Service wants to do just that. It has asked the Bureau of Land Management to hold off on the leases pending study of scenic and environmental impacts. The Parks Service only learned about the BLM’s plans from a conservation group that located the leases in a footnote. The BLM said the oversight was a mistake—a mistake that hopefully can be reversed by the Obama administration.

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Ganging Up
nThis summer’s death of a 7-year-old in a drive-by gang shooting might have been allowed to fade away. Instead, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker has assembled an advisory group on the city’s gang problem. It wasn’t a knee-jerk law-and-order reaction (advisers include community groups in addition to police) and begins with the assumption the city isn’t doing enough. Becker has moved too slowly for some. His call for talk has brought criticism from activists who rightly call for urgent action. They are probably correct that the city will need to pony up money if it really wants to put a dent in the problem. But the fact that the issue is on City Hall’s agenda is a positive sign. tttt

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