Where Are the Voters? 

Also: Info for All, Troubled Waters

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Where Are the Voters?
As November nears, you can only wonder why no one in the state is really interested in voting. But maybe it’s not such a mystery. Even Hinckley Institute of Politics director Kirk Jowers says voters just think the outcome is a forgone conclusion, so why vote? Check out the depressing map at http://1.usa.gov/RVzEI1 if you want to know just how low we go. Four years ago, the national voting rate was 46 percent, but Utah’s was only 39 percent, and has been falling steadily since at least the ’60s. It’s no wonder, then, that Utah parents have been switching from the politically active Parent Teacher Association to the independent and politically impotent Parent Teacher Organization. It’s interesting, though, that Parents for Choice in Education—the voucher folks—are helping schools switch.

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Information for Everyone
Well, thank you, Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, for an idea that could give the public’s right to know a boost. It’s been discouraging at best to watch how the updated Government Records Access Management law is shaking out. Governments are charging $25 an hour to search databases that should be available to the public. Most recently, the Democratic Party was charged $14,000 for records related to redistricting. Ouch! Of course, they’re protesting. Bramble, according to UtahPolicy.com, is talking about creating a big ol’ database where most legislative documents could be placed. Anyone with Internet access could search the documents. Of course, this idea relies on legislators’ discretion in releasing information to the public, but hey, it’s a step in the right direction.

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Troubled Waters
You can’t compare Utah to the Gulf of Mexico except that the urban dwellers in the state get their fair share of oil accidents. Two years ago, a hole in a Chevron pipeline leaked 54,600 gallons of crude oil into Red Butte Creek, meandering to Liberty Park. Chevron is still finding oil hidden along the creek, and a lawsuit against the company lurks, despite a settlement with the city. Meanwhile, Woods Cross area residents are dealing with an oil spray of about 300 barrels from the HollyFrontier Oil Corp. The Salt Lake Tribune recently reported on the numbers of refinery incidents since 1995, and it doesn’t look good. But that’s life in the ’hood. You can’t economically relocate pipelines or refineries, and there aren’t enough state compliance inspectors to go around.

Twitter: @KathyBiele

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