Best of Utah 2014: Media & Politics | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City

Best of Utah 2014: Media & Politics 

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Best Radio Station
Listeners can complain about Mumford & Sons all they wish, but the truth is that X96 is one of the few alternative destinations remaining on Utah’s dial now that oldies, classic-rock and community-radio stations alike have started playing the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin like they’re going out of style. X96’s mix of classic ’80s and ’90s alternative hits, blended with newer indie rock, has kept the station firmly secured in the hearts (and dashboard radios) of fans across northern Utah. And they get bonus points for still having a mostly local lineup of talent doing live broadcasts and keeping in touch with listeners.
96.3 FM,
2. KBER 101.1
3. 97.1 ZHT

FIRST WIN: David James
Best Humorous Sports Guy

In 2000 we wrote: James’ clever sense of humor really shines. He’s witty, he’s knowledgeable, and he makes the mundane fun without resorting to the banal rants taken by so many other talk jocks. He likes working his craft, and it shows. (Today we say: James is proof that good guys can succeed.)

Best Rivalry That Went Poof
University of Utah vs. BYU football
For the first time since World War II, the Utah vs. BYU football game will not be played this year. The reason for this unconscionable void in the college football schedule is so Utah can fit the likes of Idaho State, Fresno State and Michigan into its non-conference slots. Sure, Utah’s inclusion in the Pac-12 has been nice. It’s fun to watch good teams play. But at what cost? Dating back to 1896, the Holy War—with all of its alleged beer-pouring, interfamily hatred and strange comments during sacrament meeting—has been a rivalry that ranks with the storied traditions of other conferences. Idaho State, Michigan, USC, Stanford, whomever; they’re just a bunch of teams that play football. BYU, though—those blasted Cougars—are much, much more. Resume spilling beer on church-going relatives: 2016. Resume laughing in the face of beer-drinking relatives: 2016.

Best Group of Cat Lovers
Utah Cat Fanciers
Sure, you love your cat, but is your cat the best? The Utah Cat Fanciers is one of the biggest chapters for international cat lovers and professional cat competitors (catters?). In addition to monthly meetings, the Utah Cat Fanciers hosts a yearly cat show that attracts hundreds of cats from all over the globe. And the group isn’t just for purebreds—the Fanciers encourage and feature many competitions for rescue cats as well.

Best New LGBT Event
Provo Pride
The home of BYU, Provo is the epicenter of Utah’s conservative culture, so you might assume that the city’s first Pride event would have caused shock and consternation in the city. But the September 2013 event was largely supported and attended by members of the community who see change coming and welcome it with open arms. And the planning for the 2014 event is already underway.

FIRST WIN: Hope Woodside
Best News Anchor (Female)

In 1997 we wrote: She just may be the best candidate to move up to the networks. She embodies all the intangibles necessary for a good anchor: She’s serious, gritty, straightforward, but has a sense of humor. Who are we talking about? KSTU Channel 13’s Hope Woodside, who else? Woodside has the capacity to deliver news in a way that is both factual and humane all at the same time. Her delivery is captivating, but also shows depth that makes you feel like she’s more than just a pretty face. (Today we say: We couldn’t get away with a stupid line like that these days. Still, Hope never left us for bigger networks, and we’re sure glad.)

Best Social Scientist
Andrew Hales, LAHWF
In the past year, local filmmaker, comedian and YouTube personality Andrew Hales has successfully posed as Macklemore and snapped photos with fans at the Maverik Center, flown to London to awkwardly kiss the hands of various Brits, and purposely botched Christmas carols with people waiting for Trax. Many of his YouTube videos have well over a million views, but we’re mostly impressed that there are people down in Utah County who have a sense of humor.

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Best TV News Reporter
Chris Jones, KUTV 2
Every TV newscaster has a certain style when delivering the news. But none of the Utah pool of talent takes quite the same approach that Chris Jones—who typically covers the crime beat, along with general and investigative pieces—does to delivering his tidings of news, suffering and drama. It’s almost as if he’s the lead singer of a rock band: Every time the camera cuts back to him after his typically staccato yet soft-spoken account of a story, he stands, head hung down, intense eyes covered by a few locks of hair, all but set to toss his head back and launch into song. That mix of good looks, timing and investigative skills is no doubt why our readers love him.
KUTV 2, 10 p.m. weeknights,, Twitter: @JonesNews
2. Ben Winslow, Fox 13
3. Nineveh Dinha, Fox 13


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Best Utahn
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill
Salt Lake County’s District Attorney Sim Gill has had, by any account, an extraordinary first term. He waded into the political quagmire of Danielle Willard’s killing by undercover cops and effectively dragged the press-hating West Valley City Police Department into the light, raising questions about the agency’s narcotics unit and tossing out more than 100 cases. While many are still waiting to see what justice Willard’s family receives, Gill’s star has risen even higher as a result of his joint investigation with Davis County District Attorney Troy Rawlings into the Attorney General’s Office and allegations that Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow sold favors to a slew of unsavory characters. The latter investigation has been covered by The Washington Times and The New York Times, bringing Utah’s dirty secrets and Gill’s determination to air them out onto the national stage.
2. Judge Robert Shelby
3. Ralph Becker

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Best Governor of 30 Percent of Us
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams
While progressive Salt Lake County residents still have to suffer the Happy Valley politics of Governor Gary, in truth, our real governor is Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams. He’s conservative when it comes to tax dollars and progressive when it comes to vision. That’s how his most recent budget raised county employee salaries for the first time since 2009 without raising taxes for everyone else. And because he thinks the county can do more than it’s expected, he also expanded critical preschool services to 600 at-risk kids—again without raising taxes. Keep up the good work, Mr. Mayor, though we in the county might find it hard to share you with the rest of the state when the day comes that everyone else calls you governor, too.

Best Dad Joke
Scott Mackintosh’s Short Shorts
It’s not easy being a parent; sometimes, you have to make a fool of yourself on a national stage in order to get your kids to stop wearing jorts (jean shorts), which is exactly what Utah dad Scott Mackintosh did in September 2013. When his daughter refused to change out of her revealing jean shorts before going out for a family dinner, Mackintosh slipped into a pair of thigh-exposing daisy dukes and a T-shirt that said “Best.Dad.Ever.” The evening was documented on his wife’s blog and then posted to the social-media site Reddit. After that, it wasn’t long before dads around the globe started looking for scissors.

VIP Voter Randy Horiuchi
Best Local Politician

In 1995 we wrote: A man whose body is as big as his heart, and one of the sole survivors of the Republican tsunami. His best quality is an ability to laugh at himself (rare in a politician). It’s also a quality which leads many of his opponents to underestimate him (a big mistake). He gets occasional flack from his fellow Democrats for being pro-development, but to survive as a Democrat on the County Commission, and in this state, you have to know which way the wind blows. (Today we say: Good health to you always, Randy.)

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Best Anchorman
Mark Koelbel, KUTV 2
Early in his Best of Utah winning streak, we suggested that KUTV 2’s Mark Koelbel may very well be the new Dick Nourse, the revered face of Utah news for decades. It was a flattering comparison but, with this many BOU victories (seven, to be exact), it’s time to declare Koelbel his own (anchor)man. The voice, the hair, the delivery, the subtle swagger—he’s an original in a sea of suit & tie clones, and we don’t expect him to hand off this crown anytime soon.
KUTV 2, 5 p.m., 6 p.m. & 10 p.m. weeknights,
2. Ron Bird, KUTV 2
3. Bob Evans, Fox 13

Best Locally Shot Ski Film
4Bi9’s All Damn Day
Some call them “the gangstas of skiing,” but really, 4Bi9 (which stands for 40s, blunts, ice and 9s) is just a group of punk urban skiers, most of whom call Utah home. The past year was highlighted by some great edits, including their full-length All Damn Day, which featured plenty of top-notch urban skiing in downtown—yes, downtown—Salt Lake City and surrounding areas.

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Best Nonprofit
Best Friends Animal Society
What began as an animal sanctuary in Southern Utah has expanded to a nationally recognized group that partners with other animal organizations to work toward the ultimate goal of keeping pets alive and getting them adopted. Best Friends plays online matchmaker between humans and animals in search of a home and also has an adoption center in Sugar House—naturally, all animals are spayed or neutered and microchipped before adoption. And in 2013, Best Friends launched a bottle-feeding nursery for orphan kittens as well as a pet-food pantry that offers discounted or free pet food to low-income Utahns struggling to keep the four-legged members of their family fed. It seems like a lofty goal to “save them all,” but if anyone can do it, it’s Best Friends.
Adoption Center: 2005 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-432-2124,
2. The Road Home
3. The Utah Food Bank

Best Parkour Master
Ronnie Street Stunts

Though much of 2013 was spent recovering from a horrendous back injury, Ronnie Shalvis was still able to produce some of Utah’s best parkour edits. You may remember his extreme Santa video, his Super Mario Brothers clip at the University of Utah campus, or his winter run through the Gallivan Center. To top it all off, Shalvis’ skills got him recruited in November by Italian car company Alfa Romeo for a television commercial.

Best Newspaper Phoenix
Reinaldo Escobar
What journalists do when their employer casts them out on the street has become an unfortunate topic of interest in Salt Lake City, particularly following the staff reduction at The Salt Lake Tribune in 2013. While most turn to writing books or try to reinvent themselves, the erudite and always nattily dressed Colombian reporter Reinaldo Escobar—formerly an excellent writer for the Deseret News’ defunct OK Espanol—decided to go it on his own after he was let go and launch The Spanish Times. Its mission is both to report the news and offer the opportunity for returned LDS missionaries to bone up on their Spanish, and is distributed to public libraries, Latino markets, cultural centers, schools and churches. It’s admirable that rather than join the gloomy mourning for a dying trade, Escobar instead resolved to keep it going.


Best Draft Decision
Trey Burke, the Utah Jazz
Since the days of Stockton, the Utah Jazz have always had a place on the roster for quality guards. And in the 2013 NBA draft, they had to do some serious maneuvering to secure Michigan’s Trey Burke. Drafted ninth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves and then immediately traded for Utah’s 14th and 21st picks, Burke missed the first month of the season with a broken index finger. But since that injury, Burke’s been living up to the hype. He was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month in December and January—the first for the Jazz since Karl Malone—and participated in the Rising Stars Challenge at 2014’s All-Star Weekend.

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Best Utah Ambassador
Frank Layden
Yes, former Utah Jazz coach Frank Layden won the NBA’s Coach of the Year award, hired Jerry Sloan, and drew up plays for the likes of Karl Malone and John Stockton (he also drafted both), but his legacy in the franchise and the wider Utah community stretches far beyond his 1989 retirement from coaching and his 2012 retirement from his Jazz management role. He’s remained an unofficial ambassador for the Jazz—hosting golf tournaments, making goofy commercials, giving pep talks to the Jazz coaching stuff—always with a laugh and a big heart, and recently narrated an audiobook, Doin’ Hard Work, about the Wheelin’ Jazz wheelchair basketball team. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Layden says that his home is Salt Lake City; it’s where he and his wife, Barbara, brought up their children to love basketball and the state—son Scott is the assistant general manager for the San Antonio Spurs, and son Michael manages the Midvale Iggy’s, where the Layden family often goes to watch games (rooting for the Utes over BYU, but cheering for both against any out-of-state team). “What we love about Utah is the people,” Layden says. “They’re wonderful people that have taken us in, and we couldn’t live in a better place.” He hopes to spread the word: “I wish I could get on TV and say to the whole country, the whole world, ‘Hey, I live in Salt Lake City, Utah, because I choose to live there, because of the great people, because of the great weather, because of the great sports, because of the wonderful schools and facilities, the colleges ...’ I think it would be a great selling point.” We think so, too.

Best Sports Podcast
The Taxi Squad

The Taxi Squad love everything local and provide their audience with a perspective on sports that’s not based on arguing for the sake of arguing or fielding listener questions that were screened for air. Their infectious passion is enough to transform lackluster listeners into lifelong supporters.

VIP Voter
Charles Frost/Sister Dottie S. Dixon

Charles Frost is a quiet middle-age man with a twinkle in his eye and a stubbly dome. But when he’s onstage, that dome is usually hidden far beneath the Mormon “big hair” wig of Sister Dottie S. Dixon, the alter-ego he conceptualized as “a counter-culture child of the culture”—in essence, a Mormon mother who understands, Frost says, that at the heart of Mormonism “is love.”

Frost has staged two one-man shows for Sister Dottie. The first, The Passion of Sister Dottie S. Dixon, was about coming out, its main message being “never choose church over your child.” In the second play, Sister Dottie’s gay son married his partner and had a child through a surrogate—or “surrogoat” as the malapropism-prone Dottie says. “I try to keep her really connected to the issues,” Frost says. “I write her just ahead of the next big shift.”

Frost finds it ironic that Utah, typically asleep at the wheel as far as gay rights are concerned, “pulled the boulder out of the dam when it came to same-sex marriage.” Indeed, he says, “I believe Utah is at the epicenter of national change of LGBT rights.”

But while he praises Salt Lake’s younger generation for being engaged in their future, he says he wishes he saw “more of that in the LGBT community.” He says he and other activists ask one another, “Who is going to replace us, where are the LGBT leaders of the future?”

There are still battles to be fought, he says. “There’s discrimination in work, in housing. It’s subtle, it’s dark and ugly.”

With two other writers, he’s just finished Sister Dottie’s third play, where the redoubtable Mormon mother “collides literally with Charles Dickens” in Frost’s very particular take on A Christmas Carol. A broader comedy than his previous two efforts, it will run during the 2014 holiday season.

When his friends in other states ask why he chooses to live in a state that many see as backward when it comes to gay rights, he replies, “Someone has to be there in the frontline trenches, throwing the grenades back as they get lobbed in. Someone has to live there to call out discrimination in unique ways, to call it out with humor.”

And that someone, in the form of the big-haired Sister Dottie, meets a thirst, a need, Frost says. Young gay men and women come up to him time and again and tell him, “I wish you were my mom.”

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Best Local Blog
Gavin’s Underground
No one can ever claim they didn’t get their say in a Gavin’s Underground feature; the sprawling Q&As with Utah artists, musicians, podcasters, comedians, actors and more are nothing if not comprehensive, taking full advantage of digital space for information overloads we could never fit in print (well, we could, but we’d have to rename the paper Gavins Weekly). Gavin Sheehan covers and discovers more creatives in a month than all local publications combined, earning him the nickname The King of the Underground.
2. Indie Ogden

3. Big Shiny Robot

Best On-Air Recovery
Brooke Graham, KUTV 2
When KUTV 2’s Brooke Graham passed out during a live broadcast in December 2013—and by passed out, we mean a full-on, eyes-rolled-back, knee-bucklin’ back-slapper—no one expected the young reporter to immediately snap out of it, sit up and finish the broadcast. It was an amazing achievement. And when the clip went viral, we became even more impressed by how she handled the aftermath with humor and poise., Twitter: @Brooke_Graham_

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Worst Utahn
Gov. Gary Herbert
It’s not that Gov. Gary Herbert is a politician prone to constant policy blunders. In fact, Herbert will often do the right thing—but only after waiting until the last possible moment. Environmental advocates have been calling on “Dirty Herbert” to do something about air quality for years, but it wasn’t until public outrage came to a boil and thousands rallied at the Capitol that he started acting as though cleaner air was his mandate all along. And since the Supreme Court ruled that it was up to states to decide whether they will expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Herbert has been content to “study” the issue for almost two years while Utahns without coverage fall through the cracks. This time it wasn’t until a political opponent called Herbert an “inaction figure” that he suddenly announced his Medicaid plan. Too little care, too late to act—not exactly a winning campaign slogan, now is it?
2. U.S. Sen. Mike Lee

3. John Swallow

VIP Voter Robert Kirby
Best New Age Mormon Columnist

In 1995 we wrote: Maybe Kirby isn’t really a New Age Mormon (we’re not being derisive, we just don’t know how to define Mr. Kirby), but the fellow certainly is a clever and entertaining writer. You know he knows and believes his religion and you know you wish all of your Mormon neighbors were like him. But, they’re not. (Today we say: We still wish Kirby were our neighbor.)

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Best TV News Station
It’s a sweet deal to be affiliated with CBS, the ratings juggernaut of network TV—but it means nothing unless you have the local-news firepower to keep those eyeballs after Elementary. KUTV 2 has more than stepped up in the past several years, with top personalities like Shauna Lake, a relentless around-the-clock news schedule balanced with just the right amount of fun and fluff, all wrapped up in a slick, inviting package that would make news stations in “bigger” markets envious. It even makes those idiots outside the news-desk window on Main Street tolerable.
2. Fox 13

3. KSL 5

Best Local Film Company
ReelBoy Productions
Utah-based film company Reelboy Productions had a massive 2013. Owner Jonathan Adamson and his crew spearheaded a slew of popular videos, including “A Day in the Life,” about the hardships of a lesbian couple raising a family, and the ridiculously viral “Spencer’s Home Depot Marriage Proposal,” which was filmed at a Home Depot in Salt Lake City and racked up more than 11 million views.

Best Comeback
Miss Utah Marissa Powell
When Marissa Powell’s answer to a question about the wage gap at the 2013 Miss USA pageant included the phrase “create education better,” the entire nation came together with a collective face-palm. But even though she wasn’t crowned Miss USA, Powell ended up the big winner of the evening. After life gave her lemons, she immediately appeared on the Today show and Jimmy Kimmel Live and used those opportunities to speak more eloquently on issues of workplace inequality.

VIP Voter
Fox 13 anchor Hope Woodside

Hope Woodside cut her reporting teeth in the mid-’80s, covering cops and courts in Odessa, Texas—at the time, the murder capital of the United States. To test her mettle, the cops had her do a live report standing next to two bodies infested with maggots. She sailed through without problem—but her cameraman was sick.

She traces that fortitude and adaptability back to growing up in a family of independent, strong, career-orientated women. After her father lost everything when she was 14, she had four jobs, including teaching disco-dancing and working as a grocery checker and a bank teller.

In 1995, she left a 24-hour news channel in Chicago to come work for Fox 13. Salt Lake City “was a bit of a culture shock,” she says. She moved to Utah shortly after losing one of her closest friends to AIDS. “It was hard for me to understand, I didn’t get it that people in Utah had a problem with people who were gay.”

One of her most cherished stories was reporting on a woman whose baby had died from AIDS, a disease the woman had gotten from her partner. Up until that piece, Woodside says, many in the community had viewed AIDS as something that heterosexual women couldn’t contract.

City Weekly readers have voted Woodside as Best Female Anchor for 17 years—an astonishing number in the frenetic, neurotic world of TV news, filled with endless worries about relevance, looks, age, and questions like, “Will people still like me?” she says. “At the end of it all, you just push on, cross your fingers. I really like people, I like their stories; I’m very lucky to get to do what I do.”

And Utahns also feel lucky that she does what she does. The votes in our VIP poll also showed a strong love for Woodside, including from Fox 13 colleague Ben Winlsow, who reveals that she “sings in the newsroom between shows, and she has a lovely voice.”

She pursued improvisational humor for a while, she says, and her sense of humor is a useful defense when colleagues tease her deeper feelings. She chokes up whenever Fox 13 runs a story about veterans returning home, and the camera somehow always ends up cutting over to her, revealing her dewy eyes. “They think that’s hilarious.”

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Best Scandal
John Swallow
You often hear phrases like “pay to play” in casual conversation or online comments about a politician. But it’s not often that you hear phrases like that in official government documents, like the report prepared by the House Special Investigative Committee that was tasked with investigating the slippery dealings of former Utah Attorney General John Swallow. The report not only said that the office was too close to special interests who’d made hefty donations to Swallow’s campaign, but also that the office essentially hung a “for sale” sign on the door. Though it was an allegation of facilitating a six-figure bribe of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., for indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson that brought Swallow’s sins under the harsh glare of public scrutiny, the scandal didn’t stop there. Investigators also found that he’d used deception and dummy corporations to hide hundreds of thousands in campaign dollars, fabricated evidence given to investigators and even “lost” laptops, hard drives, and scores of e-mails that investigators were after. Criminal probes are still ongoing, but after the legislative investigation, the diagnosis is clear: Swallow was a political animal born without the ethics chromosome.
2. Gay Marriage in Utah

3. West Valley Police Department

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Best Unsinkable Mary
Mary Nickles, KUTV 2
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2011 following a story she did about mammograms, Channel 2 News anchor Mary Nickles missed just four days of work during her months of treatment. More impressively, she let viewers into her story through a personal blog and continuing TV coverage. Letting strangers witness her vulnerable, painful moments couldn’t have been easy, but Nickles handled it with grace and the hope that her story might save someone else’s life. Now almost two years after finishing treatment, Nickles is living life at full steam, donating her time to charities, coaching high school volleyball and, of course, holding down the morning news desk with her now-trademark stylish short ’do.
KUTV 2, 6-8 a.m. & noon weekdays,, Twitter: @KUTVMary
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Best Local Rap Advocate
Planit Ra Hotep
In the past 10 years, KRCL’s only hip-hop program has changed hosts, formats and timeslots, but it wasn’t until Tri Taylor, aka Planit Ra Hotep, took the reins nearly two years ago that the Friday Night Fallout finally found its voice. Every Friday, Planit shines a light on local producers, DJs and emcees, while consistently bringing that boom-bap sound. And if he’s not in the studio, Planit can be found behind the decks at many of Salt Lake City’s underground rap shows.
KRCL 90.9 FM, Fridays 10:30 p.m.-1 a.m.,

Best New Event
Salt Lake Comic Con
With headliners like Stan Lee and William Shatner, the inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con in September 2013 exceeded expectations when more than 72,000 nerds converged on the Salt Palace Convention Center, making it the largest first year for a comic-book convention. Founder Dan Farr has announced that 2014’s convention will be even bigger, and has added the April FanX event—featuring folks from The Walking Dead and Dr. Who, among others—to keep pop-culture fans satisfied till fall.

Best Latina Challenger
Luz Robles

As the Senate’s only Latina, Democrat Luz Robles has proven a valuable voice on immigration, while developing a powerful presence in the media and politics as a leading LDS Democrat—who also happens to be a vice president at Zions Bank. Robles’ decision to run for the heavily Republican 2nd Congressional District against GOP first-term incumbent Sen. Chris Stewart—not known for his sympathy for immigration reform—was something we can’t help but applaud, both for its ambition and the welcome sign that Utah can still field Democratic contenders who have passion and name recognition.

VIP Voter Brad Rock
Best Local Sportswriter

In 1998 we wrote: This D-News sports-hack’s consistently lively prose is sadly buried in an afternoon paper. Rock brings craftsmanship and a joie de vivre to his writing which consistently delights and informs his readers. His well-researched, deftly written piece on John Stockton shone a light on a local and national star whose reclusive manner has made him the Howard Hughes of the National Basketball Association. (Today we say: He’s still the best—a good sport, a great guy, and the best thing the D-News has going for it.)

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Best Elected Official
Ralph Becker
Air quality is a tough political problem, but where other politicos simply shrug their shoulders, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker has declared war. Besides adding miles of bike lanes in the city, Becker, by recent executive order, required that all future municipal buildings qualify for Gold LEED certification. He also made public transit affordable for city residents by partnering with the Utah Transit Authority to offer Salt Lake City residents the all-the-transit-you-can-ride Hive pass for just $30 a month. It’s this kind of focus on the problems affecting all of us that has won Becker support and votes from City Weekly readers.
2. Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams

3. Sen. Jim Dabakis

Best Voice on Religion
Peggy Fletcher
Stack The past year was a reminder that longtime Salt Lake Tribune reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack is a valued touchstone in Utah’s cultural landscape. Her stories, like that of a University of Utah professor’s embrace of his own death or a profile of the preeminent Mormon historian D. Michael Quinn—rejected by the church he loves for asking too many questions—show a sure, gentle hand that heralds both the humanity of her subjects and the wealth they have to share., Twitter: @ReligionGal

VIP Voters say the biggest sign that Utah’s progressed in 25 years is
Same-sex Marriage

Realtor Babs DeLay identifies Utah’s progress with the date Dec. 20, 2013. That’s the date printed on her and her wife’s Salt Lake County marriage certificate.

The images of smiling and laughing members of the LGBT community filling the halls of the Salt Lake County Government Building while patiently queuing or noisily celebrating their new matrimonial status made front pages and home pages of national and international news outlets at the end of 2013. Among those getting married was Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, who wed his longtime partner, Stephen.

Dabakis, who resigned due to health reasons March 24 as chairman of the Utah Democratic Party, was an instrument of change for the party, which before his tenure had been stifled into near-silence by the Republican super-majority. Dabakis never accepted that. When he isn’t loudly going head-to-head with Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, on the weekly KRCL 90.9 FM show Both Sides of the Aisle, he’s “exposing hypocrisy, offering alternative solutions,” says actor and LGBT activist Charles Lynn Frost, and “trying to make a dent in the Utah GOP entrenchment.”

While same-sex marriage was legal in Utah for only 17 days, attitudes toward it are shifting. Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson points to “polls showing that the majority favors protections for gays and lesbians” as a sign of progress in Utah, while Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Kirby says his favorite sign of progress is “the LDS Church supporting legislation to prevent employment and housing discrimination” against members of the LGBT community.

It’s clear that the impact of a federal judge striking down a state amendment that outlawed same-sex marriage extended far beyond the LGBT community. As The Salt Lake Tribune’s Sean Means says, “Judge Robert Shelby’s ruling striking down Amendment 3 prompted the most joyous Christmas for hundreds of couples and anyone who knows them—which turns out to be a lot of us.”

Best Veteran Newsprint
Moab’s Times-Independent
In the age of family-values blogging at the Deseret News and death-by-a-thousand-cuts at The Salt Lake Tribune, the fact that Moab’s Times-Independent continues to survive on a no-doubt-shoestring budget is something to be both admired and celebrated. The family newspaper has gone through its sagas and dramas, but its pages still boast solid reporting, well-written features and a bright, informative opinion page. Its offices exude the glorious smell of ink and paper, of old-fashioned values that, in these digital times, make journalists’ and readers’ hearts feel glad.

Best Advocate For Those With Depression
Elder Jeffrey Holland
At the LDS Church’s fall 2013 session of General Conference, amid the usual speeches enshrining conservative values, a talk by Elder Jeffrey Holland stood out for its compassion and empathy. Holland not only acknowledged his own battles with depression, but also spoke at length about how an LDS blogger disfigured by a crash had struggled with thoughts of suicide. Holland issued a passionate plea for LDS Church members to seek spiritual and medical counseling, a subtle reminder about the need to address Utah’s high suicide rates in the land of perfect families.

Best Friendly Face on Main
Dennis Gray
For the past couple of years on the corner of Main Street and 300 South, a man with a gray beard and beaming smile can be found asking, “How we doing today?” Dennis Gray’s got a simple message as he sells copies of the Salt Lake Street News, produced by homeless folks and the Salt Lake City Mission, to passersby for $2 an issue. The paper, he says, “gets people off the street.” Whether the day is sunlit or

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inversion-clogged, Gray cheerfully works long hours, and his polite, friendly manner earns him sales, conversation and our respect.

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Best Radio Show
Radio From Hell, X96
There’s no better way to describe the alternative morning show’s streak of wins in this category than to call it what it is: Two Decades of Dominance. No one, not even the second-place winners, ever comes close to dethroning Kerry Jackson, Bill Allred (right) and Gina Barberi and the four hours of daily entertainment and news they’ve given listeners since October ’93. We pity those who battle against “The Lords of Morning Radio,” for only they know the humiliation of losing ratings to a show that once featured a farting monkey.
96.3 FM, 6-10 a.m. weekdays,
2. RadioWest, KUER 90.1
3. Jon & Amanda, The Eagle 101.5

Best Quiche & Questionable Political Meetings
Mimi’s Cafe
There must be something about the fun and funky New Orleans kitsch décor of Mimi’s Cafe in Sandy that appeals to Utah’s attorneys general when they’re in the mood for a questionable breakfast meeting. In 2007, former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff met here with Rick Koerber, who was under investigation for fraud. Shurtleff’s office later declined to press charges, but the feds eventually charged Koerber with running a $100 million Ponzi scheme. Shurtleff also met here for a power breakfast in spring 2009 to try to silence a man wanting to recover money from a controversial developer who had fled the state owing creditors more than $2 million. While campaigning in 2012, former Attorney General John Swallow also had a breakfast fundraiser here that was not disclosed on his campaign records. That fundraiser was bankrolled by an ex-con businessman, and donors in attendance represented the telemarketing industry, which has faced near-constant fraud complaints. Come for the quiche, stay for the scandal-watching.
10470 S. State, Sandy, 801-572-5451,

VIP Voter Tom Barberi
Best Radio Personality

In 1991 we wrote: Utah’s top-gun DJ for nearly two decades still commands a following. Barberi lends his name to just about any cause, major or minor, and he remains the definitive Ute fan, a clever humorist, and nemesis to the Utah State Legislator. Author of one of the very few columns that gives reason to buy the Salt Lake Tribune, the only downside to listening to Barberi is the KALL playlist. Please, Tom, legalize adulthood—no more Barry Manilow! (Today we say: Tom—the father of Gina Barberi, herself a longtime radio winner—set the tone for talk radio in Utah. Except the DJs used to play music, too. Can you believe it?)

Best Utah Faux News
The Beehive Bugle
Like The Onion, The Beehive Bugle knows how to deliver the satiriffic, one-two punch of a joke in its headlines. The site digs into faux local news, featuring both political pieces like “Rep. Jason Chaffetz Legally Changes Last Name to Benghazi” as well as important features like “Area Harlot Seen Holding Hands at 7-Eleven.” Religion junkies also will be satisfied thanks to pieces like “Dead Mormons Surprised to Find Selves in Same Kingdom as Awful Mormons.” Hark the call of the Bugle—it’s news you can use when you need a laugh.

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Best Sports Reporter
David James, KUTV 2
Nice work if you can get it: spending the weekends Talkin Sports on KUTV 2 and the rest of the week in The Zone (97.5 FM/1280 AM), well, talkin’ more sports. He may be living the dream of every couch-spud sports fan, but it’s still very much work, and David James puts in the sweat to make it look like no sweat at all. His command of stats and trivia, combined with his interviewing skills (it can’t be easy to find new ways to ask athletes to expound on how they handled a rubber ball better than the other guys handled the rubber ball game after game), make James The Man.
KUTV 2, 10 p.m. weekends,, Twitter: @DavidDJJames
2. Wesley Ruff, ABC 4

3. Dave Fox, KUTV 2

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Best Local Podcast
Geek Show Podcast

Securing this award for the fifth time in a row, the geeky roundtable of local experts proves that experience and passion keep listeners coming. Kerry Jackson, Jeff Vice, Scott Pierce, Shannon Barnson, Leigh George Kade, Jimmy Martin and Tony Eccles were already a mighty force to be reckoned with when it came to pop-culture news and reviews, and this past year, they added a new comedic voice to the mix. Jay Whittaker has joined the ensemble, introducing new phrases like “Dat Ass Doe” and “Serving The D!” to the local geek vernacular.
2. Hello, Sweetie!

3. I Am Salt Lake

Best Scoop
Robert Gehrke’s & Tom Harvey’s Swallow Coverage
Former Attorney General John Swallow closed out his first and last (sorta) year in office under a torrential downpour of scathing news reports about allegations of attempted bribery, accepting gifts and hanging on the beach with a convicted white-collar criminal. The dark cloud over Swallow and his office first formed at the beginning of 2013 when Salt Lake Tribune reporters Robert Gehrke and Tom Harvey broke the story of indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson’s allegations that Swallow had played middle-man in a plot to bribe Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., to put the kibosh on a federal investigation into Johnson’s business. City Weekly has been writing about these kinds of shenanigans at the AG’s Office for years, but there’s no shame in saying that story was one hell of a scoop, and that the dynamic Gehrke-Harvey duo is a journalistic force to be reckoned with.

VIP Voters say their reporter crush is
KUTV 2 reporter Rod Decker

The competition for Reporter Crush among our VIP voters came down to a narrow race between (naturally) Hope Woodside and ... wait, Rod Decker? That old curmudgeon?

It’s apparently that very quality that has captured the hearts of Utahns for more than 30 years. “I’ve always carried a torch for Rod Decker,” says Holly Mullen, a former City Weekly editor and director of the Rape Recovery Center. “And he knows it, too.”

Butsy Burton, owner of The King’s English, agreed. “Rod Decker—he’s such a curmudgeon,” she gushed. Well.

The Channel 2 mainstay credits his unique delivery to high-school debate. “I think I high-school-debate on TV,” he says. “I’m loud and I argue. I don’t know if that would have worked in a bigger market.” But that brash style has served him well in his coverage of Utah politics and government.

Decker is renowned among his colleagues for being able to write a news script in his head and then reel it off, word-perfect, to camera. The 73-year-old has cut down his schedule to four days, but his news-gathering is still prolific. “My stories aren’t as good, pound for pound, but they’re good enough.”

He served two years in Vietnam as an intelligence officer in Saigon. He prepared reports estimating the numbers of Viet Cong from CIA reports and monthly hamlet evaluations that soldiers had to fill out in the field. “It was all entirely useless,” he says.

Decker joined the Deseret News as a columnist in 1972, but found the paper “very churchy. You couldn’t say anything that flouted church policy.” Eight years later, Decker left for Channel 2. Its owner, George Hatch, “wanted journalism to serve the community,” Decker says. Whereas local TV stations in other markets are dominated by the philosophy of “if it bleeds, it leads,” Hatch, Decker says, “was interested in us covering government and civic issues.”

More than a few things have changed over the years, he says—like drinking. The State Liquor Stores were dreary linoleum-floored rooms with bulletproof windows. To purchase liquor, you needed a liquor license and had to fill out a form. Under wine, the choices were simply a bottle of red, a bottle of white, or a bottle of rosé. An attendant would bring you what you’d ordered from a back room.

These days, Decker and his wife, juvenile judge Kristine Decker, live less than two miles from where Decker grew up as a child in Federal Heights, and Decker has no plans to change that. “I’m a Utah boy, I like it. I don’t want to move.”

Best Neighborhood Watch for the Have-Nots
The Legacy Initiative
Since 2012, the Legacy Initiative has been filling backpacks with bottled water and burritos and doing one-on-one outreach with Salt Lake City’s homeless residents. The group started simply as a band of friends who decided to help the less fortunate with food and, more importantly, friendship. In 2013, they began doing night patrols near the downtown shelters and around Pioneer Park to help prevent crime and assist those who’ve passed out or are in need of medical attention. The Utah County group’s mission has always been service, not sermonizing, and lifting up those in desperate circumstances, not looking down on them.

Best Female Power
Real Women Run
Ready for some bummer stats? How about the fact that women make up half of all Utahns, but none hold federal or statewide office? Or the fact that only seven states rank lower than Utah in terms of the number of female legislators? The numbers get worse, but the good news is that, thanks to a partnership between several groups—including Salt Lake Community College and the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics—there are folks actively encouraging and helping women to organize runs for office. Hosting numerous training events where women can learn everything from fundraising to campaign strategy, Real Women Run is working hard to bring gender equality to Utah’s stuffy patriarchal power establishment.

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Best Anchorwoman

Hope Woodside, Fox 13
Seventeen years—that’s how long Fox 13’s Hope Woodside has been your favorite female anchor in these hallowed Best of Utah pages. Her natural warmth and confidence translates through the screen effortlessly every weeknight, and if Woodside reported that hundreds of sasquatches had swarmed the Capitol to protest the criminalization of Bigfoot unions, you’d believe her (and we’d love to see that lead the newscasts on April Fools’ Day, please). Here’s to the most trusted woman on Fox 13—after Marge Simpson, that is.
Fox 13, 5 p.m. & 9 p.m. weeknights,, Twitter: @HopeWoodside
2. Mary Nickles, KUTV 2

3. Shauna Lake, KUTV 2

Best Connections

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Susen Sawatzki
For more than 30 years, she’s known everybody—everybody who matters, that is. The founder of AdNews magazine, Susen Sawatzki is the Kevin Bacon of Salt Lake City—her connections span the ranks of everything cool and creative, and we’re at the one-degree level. AdNews brings together talented people in the marketing, communication and media sectors—we should know, having had the benefit of her bright ideas in the early days of City Weekly, when founder and executive editor John Saltas, Sawatzki and Greta Belanger deJong of Catalyst spent many hours “sitting in dark bars trying to figure it out on napkins how this might work,” as Sawatzki puts it now. Well, work it did, and the Salt Lake City media landscape is better for Sawatzki and her influence.

Best Place to Teach and Be Taught
Glendale & Mountain View Community Learning Center

A project of the University of Utah’s Office of Engagement, the Glendale Community Learning Center provides classes and services to help the community members gain access to education and connect with the people, places and opportunities around them. The center offers medical services, English-language classes and more, and those who want to be involved in building a stronger community can also help teach classes or assist those who are applying for scholarships. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes collaboration to make our city the best it can be.
1388 S. Navajo St., Room 155, Salt Lake City, 801-974-1902,

VIP Voter
Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman

During Kyle Beckerman’s first years with Real Salt Lake—he moved to Utah in 2007 from the Colorado Rapids—he’d usually take off for wilder climes once the season ended, heading to surf off the coast of Peru and engage in other faraway adventures.

But Real’s dreadlocked captain has calmed down a bit, becoming a fan of hiking and fly-fishing. “Some of the best fishing in the world is right in our backyard,” Beckerman says. He’ll go to the Provo River and stand in the shallows for hours, flicking a line out over the water in search of rainbow trout.

Beckerman has led Real from the days when former head coach Jason Kreis switched him from being a goal-scoring forward to a midfielder who still has moments when he can sizzle in a scorcher from outside the penalty box. And he’s also absorbed Kreis’ mantra that the team comes first. That philosophy, Beckerman says, saw the core of talented young players that Kreis and general manager Garth Lagerwey put together win the Major League Soccer cup final in 2009. Every year since, Beckerman says, Real has been “a steady part of the elite in the league, always at the top of the table.”

Beckerman is at a point in his professional soccer career that while, he says, “I will play professional as long as possible,” he knows it will eventually end. He recently married a Salt Lake City woman—a former City Weekly intern—and whether or not he settles in Utah for good, he intends to keep a home here. He’s a fan of the local dining scene, usually stopping at the Park Café for game-day breakfasts.

His pride in his team and its achievements, even as Real enters a new era under head coach Jeff Cassar, remains undaunted. “If you are going to win a championship, you’re going to have to go through Salt Lake.”

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Best Public Radio Station
KRCL 90.9 FM
KRCL 90.9 is still the only real choice for local music lovers who’re not yet ready to turn their playlist needs over to DJ Spotify. Overnight programs like Vagabond Radio and Thursday Night Psyche-Out and weekenders like Afternoon Delight and Loud & Clear Youth Radio keep KRCL’s original freak-flag fire alive, and Bad Brad Wheeler’s weekday-closer A Little Bit Louder Now is the only drive-time soundtrack you need.
2. KUER 90.1

3. KCPW 88.3

Best Hardest-Working Man In Sports Radio
Bill Riley, KALL 700
Being a program director for a radio station sounds like it would be a full-time job on its own. Yet given Bill Riley’s omnipresence behind a microphone, his behind-the-scenes job for ESPN 700 might seem like it’s just a hobby. When he’s not co-hosting the afternoon-drive Bill & Hans Show, he’s calling play-by-play for University of Utah football and basketball. And when he’s not calling games for the Utes, he’s calling games for Real Salt Lake. It’s amazing he ever has a moment to catch his breath, let alone rest his voice.
AM 700,, Twitter: @ESPNBillRiley

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Best Local on Twitter
Ben Winslow
Whenever Fox 13 reporter Ben Winslow disappears from your Twitter feed for a day or so, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out on some important information—breaking news, a legislative update, what mood music he’s listening to at the moment, etc. Winslow’s sent out more than 80,000 tweets since discovering his other medium, and yet unconsidered throwaways are a rarity (even his tunes are solid picks). Don’t let some “social media guru” sell you some cheap Twitter tricks; just follow this guy and learn.
Twitter: @BenWinslow
2. Chris Jones, @JonesNews

3. Bill Frost, @Bill_Frost

Best Legal Reading
Justice Matthew Durrant’s decision on Debra Brown
Many saw the Attorney General’s Office’s decision to take its challenge of Debra Brown’s factual innocence in a 1993 killing to the Utah Supreme Court as a dubious last-ditch attempt to slam the door on Brown, who’d already served 17 years in prison. Justice Matthew Durrant’s magnificent 29-page opinion on why the original finding was correct, handed down in July 2013, is gripping, beautifully written prose, a seemingly effortless demolition of the AG’s hollow arguments. Legal briefs can be dry as dust, but this one has the very lifeblood of justice flowing through its veins.


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Best Political Movement
Same-sex Marriage in Utah
For a short, beautiful moment, same-sex marriage in Utah was an incredible win-win for the state. It provided people who love each other the legal recognition and protection to take care of each other, raise families, and have their feelings validated—and it provided conservatives with a reason to roll around on the ground in fits. Even though same-sex marriage didn’t cause heterosexual couples to spontaneously combust, the state has persisted in appealing the case to higher courts and shelling out major taxpayer dollars to fund the case for state-sanctioned discrimination. That’s why it’s been amazing seeing the support thrown behind the folks of Restore Our Humanity, who are raising funds to cover the legal bills in the fight for marriage equality.
2. Clean Air

3. Count My Vote

Best Reinventor
Mark Eaton
You might think legendary Jazz baller Mark Eaton’s path toward basketball glory became clear the moment he shot up past 7 feet. But that’s not the way Eaton rolls. He worked as an auto mechanic post-high school until a customer encouraged him to try out for the local junior-college basketball team. He made it and was eventually drafted by the Phoenix Suns, but elected to instead return to college ball, where he rode the bench at UCLA. Still, he was drafted by the Utah Jazz, where he challenged the thinking that “the best defense is a good offense.” The best defense was Mark Eaton. He still holds the NBA record for most blocked shots in a season and the record for the highest career average blocked shots per game. Post-retirement, Eaton reinvented himself yet again—as a restaurateur. After a couple of promising starts that eventually fizzled, he struck gold with the award-winning Tuscany and Franck’s restaurants. Now, in his latest reinvention, Eaton is mining those stories of struggles and successes to make a big impact on the motivational-speaker circuit.

VIP Voters say their favorite political maverick of the past 25 years is
Jon Huntsman Jr.

Though he may have lost his long-held grip on the reader-voted Best Utahn category, our VIP voters still named Jon Huntsman Jr. as their favorite political maverick. It makes sense, considering he never does what you expect.

In 2008, he endorsed John McCain for president rather than Mormon homeboy Mitt Romney. In 2009, as governor of one of the reddest states in the Union, he leapt onto the national stage with an endorsement of civil unions, arguably sowing a crucial seed for Utah’s (albeit brief) embrace of gay marriage at the end of 2013. And perhaps his greatest gift to Utah—at least from our perspective—was liberalizing the liquor laws, even if you still can’t get a bottle of wine on a Sunday.

Huntsman has had trouble finding a political home that suits his maverick style. President Obama appointing Huntsman to serve as ambassador to China in 2008 was a classic and effective political move to spoil Huntsman’s presidential ambitions. Huntsman came back to the national stage in 2012 for a bid for the presidency against Obama that sputtered out seemingly before it began.

Most recently, Huntsman’s been part of a group called No Labels that’s attempting to tackle the partisan gridlock that has paralyzed Washington, D.C., for so long. He even signed up in 2013 to host a satellite radio show to urge compromise between the two political parties.

Some argue that City Weekly played a role in Huntsman’s ascendancy to political power. Local real-estate developer Vasilios Priskos recalls an interview Huntsman did with City Weekly “in a seedy bar, where he ordered a glass of milk. His opponent was a no-show. Great interview that I believe helped him win the governor’s office.”

That’s Huntsman all over, willing to reach out, cross divides; a man who thinks outside the box. He’s also a risk-taker who loves motorbikes and perhaps still mourns his days in a short-lived band called Wizard, but has sadly left Utah—politically, at least—in the dust long ago.

And that’s something a few Utahns can’t quite forgive. Saturday’s Voyeur playwright Nancy Borgenicht cites Huntsman as her favorite love-to-hate/hate-to-love politician: “He gave us hope, then left us with Gary Herbert.”

Best High School Dance Company
Judge Memorial Catholic High School
At many high schools, anything that doesn’t include a ball or bleachers—like dance, band, drama or debate—is given the short shrift. Not so at Judge Memorial, where all things academic and art thrive. That’s especially so in the dance department, particularly with the laudable addition of Nathan Shaw, who melds his Repertory Dance Theatre experience with Jeanette Sawaya, a former National Dance Teacher of the Year. Last season’s modern-dance performance of No Boundaries was worthy of a downtown Salt Lake City stage. No less is expected from the 2014 performance of Walls this May 1-3. And get this—25 percent percent of Judge students take a dance class—there’s even one class of all males.
650 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-517-2100,

Best Force for Change
Greta Belanger DeJong
It’s hard to believe, but Greta Belanger deJong’s Catalyst magazine is even older than we are. Launched in 1982, the alternative monthly magazine is celebrating its 33rd year—a feat that deJong credits to “stubbornness.” That trait almost goes without saying in the publishing business, but deJong is also a powerful, passionate advocate for—and example of—creativity, environmental awareness, spirituality and making Utah, and the world in general, a better place. For many reasons—some, like tequila and cigarettes, left best unsaid—we’ll always be enamored of deJong; she’s a real publishing “sister.”

Best Friend
John Paul Brophy

In the very first Best of Utah issue, this paper—then called Private Eye—received an award for Best Typos. It’s likely that that’s an award we would have earned for all 25 years if it weren’t for John Paul Brophy, who first cast his sharp eyes over John Saltas’ prose in the Midvale press shop where City Weekly was born. Loved by everyone who’s been lucky enough to work with him, Brophy wrote columns and restaurant reviews under a pseudonym for the paper in the years that followed and continued to make these pages better with his thoughtful edits. And his knowledge extends beyond the dictionary—he’s a veritable encyclopedia of music. He’s the best friend of the blues that this town’s got, and enriched the city via his music reviews in The Salt Lake Tribune and his ownership of the much-missed Dead Goat Saloon. Brophy hung up his hat as City Weekly line editor earlier this year in order to have more much-deserved time enjoying life (and live music, we imagine), so this might be the first Best of Utah issue that Brophy hasn’t improved. We’re more then a litttle nervoous.

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Best Weatherman

Brett Benson, Fox 13
Back for a second Best of Utah win, the artist sometimes known as Frankenweather (more correctly, he’d be Frankenweather’s Monster) remains as relatable as he is physically imposing. Brett Benson is obviously a pro, but his aw-shucks demeanor and quick wit make him just one of the dudes, even when he’s turning in some of the most technically demanding climate reports this state has seen in years. (Do meteorologists get secretly giddy over bad weather? We’d bet Benson does a little dance before every winter newscast.)
Fox 13, 5 p.m. & 9 p.m. weeknights,, Twitter: @BensonWeather
2. Sterling Poulson, KUTV 2

3. Debbie Worthen, KUTV 2

Best Local NSA Agitator
Pete Ashdown, Xmission
When whistleblower Edward Snowden let the world know all about the National Security Agency’s widespread surveillance of Americans’ e-mails and phone records, a local hero suddenly emerged to explain how he’s been refusing for years to hand us over to Big Brother’s prying eyes. In January, Pete Ashdown, the owner of XMission, explained that his Internet service provider outright refuses to honor government-issued administrative subpoenas for clients’ data. If law enforcement presents a warrant, usually for clients’ e-mails or the content of their Internet communications, Ashdown’s company complies, but when it comes to subpoenas, which don’t require warrants showing probable cause, XMission tells the guv’ment to beat it. Over the years, XMission has refused subpoenas from agencies ranging from the Utah Attorney General’s Office to the FBI and the Department of Justice. Ashdown has previously mounted two unsuccessful campaigns against Sen. Orrin Hatch, but he does understand that Utahns don’t take kindly to Uncle Fed being all up in their business—including their digital business.

VIP Voters say their favorite political scandal of the past 25 years is
John Swallow

When asked about their favorite political scandal from the past 25 years, our VIPs almost unanimously chose the most recent—”that dipshit that recently resigned as attorney general,” as Sound Warehouse owner Dean Magnesen succinctly puts it.

Though some echo that disdain—”hate Swallow and Shurtleff,” Wasatch Beers founder Greg Schirf says—others found the scandal of former Attorneys General Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow irresistible because of its quirkier details, like “secret recordings and a Krispy Kreme doughnut,” Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says. Even the name of the key player provided some yuks: “Great name, great reading,” notes local real-estate developer Vasilios Priskos.

City Weekly‘s coverage of Swallow also nabbed votes from our VIPs. Popular political blogger Holly Richardson voted “Eric Peterson’s work on the John Swallow debacle” as her favorite City Weekly feature, and The King’s English co-owner Betsy Burton seconded it. “All your coverage of the Swallow scandal has been good, but [2013 story] ‘Hard to Swallow’—and the accompanying picture of Swallow with his Pinocchio-proboscis—is hard to forget.”

Peterson was one of the first to delve into the murky dealings of Shurtleff and later Swallow, Shurtleff’s chosen heir. But it’s not over yet—as former Utah football coach Ron McBride notes, Shurtleff and Swallow is “an ongoing saga with a lot of different twists and turns. There was a lot of ink on that deal, and they still haven’t figured that out yet.”

And though bookstore owner Ken Sanders says that Shurtleff/Swallow “has set the bar pretty high” for scandal, Swallow is just the latest Utahn whose name is synonymous with the s-word. Sister Dottie S. Dixon suggests reading the following lines to the tune of “My Favorite Things”:

“Swallow and Shurtleff/ the Olympics bribing/ Enid and Joe and their Waldholtz conniving/ Sheldon Killpack and his driving so drunk/ being bad Mormons can really suck./ Horny Kevin Garn and his hot-tub carousing/ foot-in-mouth Buttars, his brain unarousing/ Ethics and standards—oh not in this space/ time quickly passes in this holier-than-thou place.”

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