Best of Utah 2013: Media & Politics | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City

Best of Utah 2013: Media & Politics 

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Best Eccentric
Conde Kieateen Teargon

Many people might recognize Conde Kieateen Teargon from the Utah Arts Festival, where he sits in the middle of the festival looking like a hippie Santa Claus, wearing colorful, eccentric garb as he shakes a noisemaker and holds up his ornate cane. Or from, as legend has it, the No. 2 UTA bus. He told City Weekly in 2012 that he’s a 756-month-old Sufi mystic from the land of Kookamunga. Wherever he comes from and whatever he might do besides go to festivals and ride buses, we thank him for adding a little color to downtown.

Best Unsung Advocates
Disability Law Center

Before two attorneys from the Disability Law Center did the first health & welfare check on Jeremy Haas, a mentally ill inmate in the Utah State Prison, in 2012, it had been some time since anyone had made such an effort to address inmates’ mental health. It’s no surprise that it’s the DLC that’s now carrying this torch; the organization is made up of people who work tirelessly to advocate for those with disabilities, whether that means tracking pertinent bills in the Legislature and encouraging the community to speak up about issues like traumatic brain injuries, or representing people who’ve been fired, abused, denied medical care or discriminated against. The passion and perseverance of these attorneys keep a light on for the disabled that, we hope, won’t ever go out.
205 N. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-363-1347,

Best Way to Rule the Planets
Christopher Renstrom

Utah may be the mothership to Mormondom, but it also boasts a big-shot astrologer. Since being named Best Astrologer by City Weekly in 2012, this Salt Lake City-based stargazer has become a TV star himself. Renstrom recently appeared on Patti Stanger’s Millionaire Matchmaker TV show, counseling a lovelorn millionaire. He’s also the official astrologer for Stanger’s site,, where he writes a weekly column, plus three others at Not one to put down his pen, Renstrom’s daily horoscopes show up in the San Francisco Chronicle, and he is busy writing a second book about the history of astrology in America.

Best City Council Coverage
The Valley Journals

As more and more newspapers tighten their belts, there are fewer reporters covering public meetings where tax dollars are assigned to various projects and services. Without a reporter in the room, decisions could be made to benefit friends and associates of those serving on the board or council—and taxpayers would never hear about it. One group of newspapers still dedicated to covering city councils is The Valley Journals. With 12 papers in The Valley Journal group, that means at least 12 city councils in the Salt Lake Valley are being given a closer journalistic look when they meet. Thanks, Valley Journals, for keeping an eye on the public’s business.

Best Use of Lungs
Salt Lake Scots

St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, but the effect of Salt Lake’s premier pipe band resonates throughout the year. Touting some of the region’s best pipers, you can find the Salt Lake Scots at local parades and community events, plus national competitions, where these wind-blowers proudly represent Utah. When you watch their performances, keep an ear out for their impressive rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

Best Language Powwow
Shoshone/Goshute Youth Language Apprenticeship Program

For the past four summers, during six magical weeks, Shoshone and Goshute high school students have come to a house on the edge of a grassy park near the University of Utah and marinate themselves in the language of their ancestors. Under the direction of associate professor Marianna Di Paolo and The Center of American Indian Languages, the students work on projects for the Shoshone/Goshute Youth Language Apprenticeship Program, such as creating a Shoshone/Goshute & English bilingual dictionary. At a time when the day-to-day use of the Goshute language has sharply declined, this program sends young minds enriched by the linguistic and cultural treasures of their past back to their tribes in Utah and Nevada to help revitalize and even teach their language.
1995 A De Trobriand St., Salt Lake City, 801-587-0720,

Best Care For Those in Need
Fourth Street Clinic/Volunteers of America Outreach Program

A walk in the shoes of the Fourth Street Clinic’s team is an eye-opening journey into homelessness and the struggles of Utah’s indigent population simply trying to survive. “Dr. Joel” (as his patients call him) Hunt is more than a medic, he’s a friend. He’ll go to the side of the road with tweezers and a magnifying glass to aid someone who’s gotten a burr stuck in his ear after sleeping in a field for a night. Hunt, his assistant Leticia Vasquez and the legendary Ed Snoddy, a 10-year veteran of these mean streets, have patched up countless grateful souls, found them a roof to live under and, if nothing else, shared smiles, warmth and snack bars with folks whom most of us don’t even bother to see.
404 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-364-0058,

Best Political Scandal
John Swallow
Utahns learned this year of a scandal that involved an alleged six-figure bribe, Utah Attorney General John Swallow, an Internet-marketing wheeler-dealer and a fateful meeting held, of all places, at an Orem donut shop. Swallow, while chief deputy attorney general, allegedly counseled businessman Jeremy Johnson to pay as much as $600,000 to get Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, to halt an FTC investigation into Johnson’s business. Swallow says the money—of which Johnson paid only $250,000—was sent through a third party to “lobby” Reid on Johnson’s behalf and was not any kind of bribe. There’s a federal investigation under way to determine the true scope of the scandal, but what is certain right now is that, guilty or not of the allegations, Swallow has started his first term as attorney general hobbled by controversy.
2. Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control
3. Greg Peterson

Best Take on Mitt Romney’s “Bane” Capital
Bane Capital
—The Dark Knight Rises (and Election 2012)
Timed with the release of The Dark Knight Rises, the Utah County filmmakers of the YouTube channel Warialasky released three minutes of delicious political satire casting Batman’s foe Bane—complete with sinister voice, gas mask and expensive suit—as the head of “Bane Capital.” It’s League of Shadows meets Fortune 500 as Bane doles out ruthless business advice to some terror-stricken suits at a board meeting, including a choice moment when Bane punishes a lackey for bringing him coffee—”When this economy is in ashes, you have permission to die.”

Best Political Tough Talk
"Uncle Joe" Fabiano for Congress

While many conservative Utah politicians talk tough when it comes to fighting the federal government, “Uncle Joe” Fabiano’s campaign took tough talk to borderline threats of violence. The campaign website for Fabiano’s failed bid for Utah’s 1st Congressional seat features a photo of Fabiano, baseball bat in hand, along with talking points like, “Congress is in for a thrashing” and “When I see the violation of my liberty, my children’s liberty and my countrymen’s liberty, you better believe my hand tightens into a fist.” And last, but not least: “To the members of Congress, I’m bringing a clear message from We The People ... ’Get out of our way, or we’re coming for you!’”

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