Best of Utah 2012: Media & Politics | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City

Best of Utah 2012: Media & Politics 

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Best Poetic Injustice
Jesse Parent’s Second Place
In October 2011, Jesse Parent—computer programmer by day, improv comic and slam poet by night—attended the Individual World Poetry Slam in Cleveland, Ohio, and took second place overall, for the second year in a row. Yeah, it was second place. But not too shabby for a guy whose first slam performance took place in 2006 in a downtown SLC coffee house. Since arriving in Utah with his wife, Julia, in 1997 for what was envisioned to be a short stay, Parent has honed the craft of storytelling and audience engagement through his animated use of language and metaphor. Beating out more than 75 international competitors over a three-day period to garner second place two years in a row? That makes him the best in our eyes.

Best Utah Politician


Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker
Ralph Becker’s living the charmed life of a re-elected Democratic Salt Lake City mayor. With a more-than-80 percent approval rating prior to his election, Becker’s low-key way of getting work done makes him quite likable. His new public-safety building is under construction, and he continues to get ducks in a row for a new downtown theater. When he realized the city’s watershed could be threatened by the proposed SkiLink connection between Canyons and Solitude ski resorts, he rattled more than a few cages in Washington, D.C., where the idea was being considered. Downtown is rising on Becker’s watch, and that means fortune (and sales-tax revenues) will smile upon him. What Utah politician wouldn’t envy Becker’s political track record and the trust he inspires in voters?
2. Ben McAdams
3. Jim Matheson

Best Political Insider
Bob Bernick,
You can take the reporter away from the Hill, but you can’t take the Hill away from the reporter, a lesson learned when the Deseret News took veteran Legislature and politics reporter Bob Bernick off his beat in 2010, prompting his retirement from the paper shortly before it shed almost half of its staff. Now Bernick’s byline appears on, where he provides political junkies an insider’s look at not just the substance of proposed bills and budget cuts, but also the politicking and power plays behind them—he’s covered redistricting in the state since ’91. From congressional maps to the Legislature to the 2012 elections, Bernick has the institutional memory to know what the next moves are and why they’re being made, and he’s finally got a forum where he can just tell it like it is.

Best Departing Anchor
Bruce Lindsay, KSL 5
His impending June retirement from KSL 5 probably won’t be met with the same hype that Dick Nourse received when he stepped down from the anchor chair in 2007, but the departure of 34-year Utah-news vet Bruce Lindsay will be noticed. Few TV viewers in the West wouldn’t know the dignified anchor and his authoritative delivery. He’s the last of a breed—not just here, but on newscasts across the country—and his experience will be missed on the local airwaves.
KSL 5, weeknights, 5, 6 and 10 p.m.


Bruce Lindsay, KSL 5

Best Political Shoeshine
Johnny Peppinger
As the adage goes, you can tell a lot about a man by his shoes. If that’s the case, Johnny Peppinger has more dirt on Utah’s politicians than anyone around. But that’s not why he shines legislators’ shoes with his Capitol Hill drop-off bag service. For him, it’s therapeutic. By day, Peppinger works as a counselor; by night, he decompresses at home by Zen-ing out with some shoes—it’s his own therapy. Peppinger’s drop-off is located in the Capitol Hill Association in the basement of the Capitol.

Best Bridge-Burning Resignation
Brett Clifford, State Wine Coordinator
Brett Clifford spent 37 years navigating the murky waters of Utah liquor laws to create a top-notch wine selection in the state’s government-owned stores. When he saw new Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control administrators aiming for cuts in Utah’s fine-wine collection and haphazardly (in his view) firing quality employees, Clifford just couldn’t take it anymore. In his resignation letter, which he helpfully also sent to media outlets, Clifford cited “secret interrogations, closed meetings, forced retirements, layoffs and firings” as demoralizing the staff, and he worried that the quality of wines offered in Utah will suffer, negatively affecting tourism as well.

Best Architect of Hispanic Youths’ Future
Jose Enriquez, Latinos In Action
In 2010, Mountain View High School’s vice principal Jose Enriquez was awarded Volunteer Administrator of the Year by the Utah Commission on Volunteers, an award that was richly deserved. As director of service group Latinos in Utah, Enriquez has spearheaded and developed a program to train bilingual Latino teens to mentor kids in elementary and junior high schools. Latinos in Action already covers more than 35 schools in the Beehive State. The mentors earn community-service hours while breaking down barriers with Latino youth, proving that Latino youth, while sometimes needing help, can be inspirational leaders.

Best Political Stick-to-It-ness
Occupy Gallivan Center
Things weren’t looking good for the Occupy SLC movement after the Salt Lake City police gave occupiers the boot from Pioneer Park. But while many in the movement decided to address their goals via meetings at the library or protests on Capitol Hill, a small group wasn’t dissuaded from sticking out the winter, setting up camp at the Gallivan Center and staying there through the holidays and winter months. They’re still there, ready to educate any passersby who want to know what this whole 99-percenter thing is all about.

Best North Temple Stewards
Stacy & Witbeck
During the years-long upheaval that the North Temple development imposed on local businesses, the speed, care and professionalism shown by public-transit contractors Stacy & Witbeck resulted in those same businessowners acknowledging through gritted teeth that, whatever else, the contractors have done a good job. While the jury’s still out as to whether North Temple will evolve into a upscale district of warehouse-converted apartments, stores and restaurants, Stacy & Witbeck have done its best to ensure the new North Temple’s transportation will be ahead of schedule and live up to the dreams touted by Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker of hooking up the city with the airport in “grand boulevard” style.

Best Utahn


Jon Huntsman Jr.
Widely regarded among reasonable folk as the only sane choice for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Jon Huntsman Jr. never stood a chance, of course. In a season of wacky-ass GOP politics, the Newt Gingriches and Rick Santorums and Mitt Romneys made quick work of that common-sense candidacy. But good for him for trying! Huntsman was a decent Utah governor, with a talent for bridging harsh political divides—a skill that would have come in handy for any potential White House occupant, considering the polarized state of Congress these days. Hell, even China likes him. And that’s saying something.
2. Rocky Anderson
3. Tim DeChristopher
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