Suddenly, there’s a whole lot of interest in an association that’s been around since 1973. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is coming to Salt Lake City in July for a summer conference, and Utah’s conservative majority is beside itself with glee. Not so the Democrats, who fear the monumental influence of this well-funded, highly connected game changer. While ALEC says it doesn’t lobby, it claims victory for legislation across the nation. Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Utah, is on ALEC’s board, which also backs voter-identification laws and Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” statute. Of itself, ALEC says, “No other organization in America today can claim as many valuable assets—both people and ideas—that have influence on as many key decision-making centers.” Still, Coca-Cola recently severed ties with ALEC. After decades under the radar, it’s good to see some light shed on ALEC.
Wondering why the Deseret News ran a front-page story about the concept of an elite online university? The D-News and its CEO, Clark Gilbert, are totally invested in what is called “disruptive innovation,” and that’s what the story about the Minerva Project was all about. While Minerva would create this “Ivy League”-type university for brilliant minds, the back story here is that the D-News wants readers to see it in the same category as innovators who used technology to change the way things work. With that in mind, the D-News got rid of more than a third of its staff and focused on the Internet to disseminate its values-based news. It’s worth noting that the risks of innovation often presuppose failure. So, the D-News needs to remind you that it’s still part of a movement.
With the ski resorts, developers and environmentalists sparring over Salt Lake City’s canyon areas, it’s good to see officials looking to the future. They haven’t revised the Foothills and Canyons Overlay Zone since 1997, and now they’ve started anew. County Mayor Peter Corroon has formed a Blue Ribbon Commission focused on watershed. The goal is to finish by year’s end, with a lot of compromise, so developers and preservationists have an idea of where they’re going over the next 20 years. For the time being, projects like SkiLink, a tram-like connector between Solitude and Canyons resorts, are on hold while everyone dukes it out, showing off competing studies and philosophies. A real plan could only help.