40 Years of City Weekly—Volume 35: 2018 to 2019 | City Weekly REWIND | Salt Lake City Weekly

40 Years of City Weekly—Volume 35: 2018 to 2019 

City Weekly Rewind

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"When I began professionally writing on my old Model HH [typewriter]," Lance Gudmundsen related in April 2019, "my editors emphasized: Be accurate; be impartial; be aware; be truthful. Put another way: Don't screw up the basics; don't assume; don't be duped. And seek the truth. Good advice for anyone, writer or not."

In a time when hacks and fools styled themselves as reporters and commentators, when bloggers clogged the arterial paths with deranged bunkum, and when truth-seekers were dismissed with the rest of them as "enemies of the people" and purveyors of "fake news," Gudmundsen noted that power in any form and from any direction often has difficulty with the inconvenient reminders that good reporting fosters. "Truth, I find, especially bothers The Establishment, whether it's the brie-and-chardonnay crowd or the god-and-guns gang," he observed. "But isn't that the job of journalists: To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable? I'd like to think so."

This was a time when journalists like Jamal Khashoggi were murdered without consequence, when panics over nonexistent migrant "caravans" ran high, when another federal government shutdown took place and when the Trump administration's immigration policy of separating children from their families at the U.S./Mexico border really started gaining attention.

In Utah, the inland port project was developing behind closed doors, San Juan County was fighting court orders to realign its suppression of Navajo voters and, in a consequence affecting sensitive wetlands and air quality, the truck ban on Legacy Parkway was allowed to expire.

Three voter initiatives on Medicaid expansion, medical cannabis and redistricting made it to the goal post. But while lawmakers like former Sen. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, tried to repeal the Medicaid initiative in real time, his colleagues opted to gut or ignore all three measures after the fact.

Elsewhere, EnergySolutions was halted in its efforts to fast-track bringing depleted uranium into the state, Gov. Gary Herbert's office donated to LGBTQ organizations working to prevent suicide, and a pilot program began for local municipalities to use Ranked Choice Voting. Electric scooters were popping up around the downtown area, and Mitt Romney and Ben McAdams replaced, respectively, Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Mia Love in Utah's federal delegation.

As for City Weekly, we got new music editors with Nick McGregor and later Erin Moore, while John Saltas paid tribute to supporter and friend Terry Nish (1937-2018). Due to limited budgets, the paper was shrinking its page numbers, but that did not stop writers from covering unique topics. Emma Penrod looked at the damage wrought by an Illinois project similar to the inland port, Ray Howze examined the monarch butterfly population and Rich Kane explored the work of death doulas.

Greg Wilcox, meanwhile, raised awareness of the declining Great Salt Lake, Jordan Floyd profiled the Salty Bitches skater group and David Hampshire contemplated the fate of Allen Park's "Hobbitville." This doesn't even get to Alex Springer's work on local pinball, Matthew LaPlante's Japanese skiing trip or Daria Bachmann's report on Richfield's Pando forest.

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Amid an often complicated and troubled world, with limits on time and resources, did these writers (among others) pursue that elusive beacon called Truth? Did they maintain the standards that Gudmundsen learned so many years ago from his editors? Did they "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable?"

We'd like to think so.

Remembering Vol. 35: In detention
"Jonathan Paz looks like he's having a staring contest with his office desk," Kelan Lyons's Jan. 31 cover story began. "He interrupts his tense glaring with periodic Post-it note scribbling and computer scrolling as he grips his phone and listens to a Department of Homeland Security attorney argue that his client, Mackenley Montfleury, should stay locked up in the Aurora, Colorado, detention center until the federal government decides whether he should be deported."

With two of Montfleury's three drug charges dismissed or withdrawn, Paz argued, "Mr. Montfleury is now not even deportable. So, I'm not even sure why we're having a conversation about bond, because he, at this point, should just be released."

Montfleury, a native of Haiti, relocated with his family to Orem after state-sponsored violence against critics of the Haitian government—including his father, Joseph Montfleury—became too much. "Now, the couple work at a local grocery store," Lyons wrote, describing the change to the family's once-posh circumstances. "They drive themselves everywhere. There are no more servants. They've created proud, modest lives in a strikingly different country than the one in which they were born."

The children grew older, and with that came rebelliousness in Mackenley Montfleury. He experimented with marijuana, moved out and was at odds with his father. He then got into an altercation with his dad and ran away. "We didn't even think about that because we know he is here legally," the elder Montfleury said of his decision to contact police, "and we [didn't] even think ICE will get involved."

Mackenley Montfleury was detained for months awaiting federal decisionmaking on deportation. All this, Paz wondered at the time, over minor drug charges. "Simply violating the law does not make someone a danger to their community," Paz asserted during a phone conference with the DHS attorney and judge in Colorado. His client had been charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession, not theft, and had not threatened or attacked anyone with a weapon. "This isn't someone that's hurting anyone."

Such a state of affairs had largely come about, Lyons observed, due to shifting federal priorities. The Obama administration—which deported more than 2 million people—focused on those "who'd been convicted of violent crimes, joined a 'criminal street gang' or posed a threat to national security." With the arrival of the Trump administration, the focus was vastly widened.

Montfleury was not even an undocumented immigrant, having received his lawful permanent residency (LPR)—or green card—in 2005. While the standard for deporting LPRs is higher than those without papers, the new administration stripped DHS lawyers of prosecutorial discretion regardless of mitigating circumstances.

Awaiting the prolonged legal morass to clear at the detention center, Mackenley Montfleury told Lyons that he hoped to eventually return to school and finish the degree he started in engineering technology at Utah Valley University. "I just see myself as a young man trying to find myself in this world," he said. "I've made a lot of mistakes, a lot of bad decisions, but I don't think that I'm a bad person."

After months of legal battles, Montfleury was finally released from immigration detention in March 2019, his deportation proceedings officially dismissed.

In the debate
"What is most interesting about religious intolerance today is that it is the last socially acceptable form of intolerance. ...

"Even more surprising is that some of the most intolerant are the ones who often call for tolerance. The Broadway community not only accepted intolerance, they gave it a Tony Award in 2011 when it awarded The Book of Mormon as best musical. The show, which still draws large crowds, including many Christians, mocks belief in God in general, but specifically LDS believers. Granted, the Broadway community has always felt under attack from religious groups and might be justified for their acceptance of this play, yet it still seems wrong.

"What we see is that religious intolerance has always been part of the American experience, and that is without even investigating the non-Christian religions. We also see that intolerance is not only of others outside your personal belief system, but from within as well. We are doing better in so many other areas today. There is no reason we cannot hope we can do better here as well." (James Finck, May 16, 2019)

In hindsight
Having spent 42 years as a Senator, Orrin Hatch's imminent departure from public office was neither lacking in flowery tributes nor barbed retrospectives. John Saltas, for one, recalled when Utah had leaders like Calvin Rampton (1913-2007), Scott Matheson (1929-1990) and Frank Moss (1911-2003), and compared Hatch's record unfavorably with these earlier public servants.

"Since Hatch first took office, Utah changed politically," Saltas wrote in January 2019. "We became as insane as he is; as double-faced; as mean and narrow-minded. Democrats became hated. I hold Hatch in no high favor whatsoever, I cannot wait for him to leave office, and I wish that for even small pieces of his conspicuously vacant Senate career, he would have risen to more than an escort for financial absconders, bookended by [convicted swindler] George Norman and Donald Trump."

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About The Author

Wes Long

Wes Long

Bio:
Wes Long's writing first appeared in City Weekly in 2021 and in 2023, he was named Listings Desk manager. Long majored in history at the University of Utah and enjoys a good book or film, an excursion into nature or the nearest historic district, or simply basking in the company of animals.

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