Holly in the Air
As the second Clean Air, No Excuses Rally approaches, so does permitting HollyFrontier refinery's request to expand. HollyFrontier is building another refinery in the Salt Lake Valley, and the Sierra Club believes this will increase emissions dramatically. HollyFrontier says no, those emissions will decrease. You might recall that HollyFrontier already violated emissions levels and installed new equipment under a consent decree. But a new refinery can only add to the problem. The Sierra Club then took a swipe at Gov. Gary Herbert, who advocates individual voluntary measures to clean the air. This all came after his campaign accepted donations from oil, gas, oil shale and other energy companies—"nearly $1 out of every $6," according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Maybe in New Orleans, charter schools were the logical answer after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the education infrastructure. And we'll give New York City a pass on some of its charters for low-income kids. But here in Utah, the original idea was to provide innovative ideas in a parent-driven environment so that all public education might benefit. That has morphed largely into a movement ultimately seeking vouchers to privatize education. Now, Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, comes along wanting to turn failing schools into charters. Who will run these? He thinks the state board of education, which can barely oversee the charters now, can do it. The schools likely will be turned over to management companies whose real goal is revenue generation. Albert Shanker, the father of the movement, thought charters could "promote social mobility for working-class children and social cohesion among America's increasingly diverse populations." Now we just want them to test better.
Priming the Pump
Gas taxes have never been popular in freewheeling Utah, and the latest poll from Utah State University and the Exoro Group proves that. Most of those polled gave a thumbs up to an income-tax increase for public schools—an issue they say is the most pressing for the state. Only a little more than a third of those polled favored a gas tax. It's always troubling when more money goes to roads than to kids, but that's the way it's been in the past. Frankly, the gas tax hasn't been raised since 1997, and there's probably a need. But it might go over better if Utah were to invest in cleaner gas. Just sayin'.