Clean the Slate | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Clean the Slate 

Loosen the Regs, Diversity Shuffle

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Clean the Slate
At least Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, is working on something. In the wake of demonstrations over police killings, he is looking at things like banning chokeholds and making information public, part of a wish list from the NAACP, according to the Deseret News. But that's not good enough, is it? A Georgetown Law School professor told the Washington Post "reform is not enough. Making sure that police follow the rule of law is not enough. Even changing the laws is not enough." She calls for defunding the police. If it sounds like "Abolish ICE," it's not. It just means starting over and recognizing that we need a new culture of police. A lone Marine recently protested at the Utah Capitol, and Sen. Mitt Romney marched with Black Lives Matter in Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, The Salt Lake Tribune notes a lack of civilian oversight, but that's only part of it. Good optics, well-meaning people are too little, too late. We need a clean slate.

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Loosen the Regs
Watch out! Here comes another executive order, propagating like the president's Twitter feed and mostly designed to eviscerate those pesky public protections. The headline from Outside magazine says it all: "The Trump Presidency Is the Worst Ever for Public Lands." A Center for American Progress analysis finds that the administration has removed protections from public lands the size of Florida. We're lucky we don't live in Alaska. They've lost millions more acres than Utah with our measly Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. Trump is also tossing protections for wild birds. Now, The Salt Lake Tribune reports an executive order seeking to "lower regulatory hurdles for major infrastructure and energy projects," defying the National Environmental Policy Act along with the Endangered Species Act. Not that the president even cares about Utah's economy, but this is a spoiler in the fight against what is euphemistically called the "polluting" Inland Port, not to mention a big save for the caustic coal industry. What's not to love about all this live free and die economy?

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Diversity Shuffle
Everyone's talking diversity: Utah Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson and Ute football coach Kyle Whittingham, for example. Sounds good, doesn't it? Yet the effort backfires if an important step is skipped, as Salt Lake County just learned. And that's inclusion. Mayor Jenny Wilson wants everyone to know she's on top of this diversity thing and wants "the community" to help, but just wait to learn her plan. In April, Wilson moved Emma Houston, director of the Council on Diversity Affairs, to Human Resources, which was seen as a smack-down. Community leaders were so upset by the lack of communication that they sent a letter to the Deseret News. Ostensibly, Wilson's shuffle had to do with the county's COVID-19 response, which showed the county's 7,000 employees need more training on how to assist diverse communities.That seems to be a top-down administrative issue of coordination—something Salt Lake City has grappled with, too. Still, it's not a good time for the county to be without a diversity leader.

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About The Author

Katharine Biele

Katharine Biele

Bio:
A City Weekly contributor since 1992, Biele is the informed voice behind our Hits & Misses and Citizen Revolt columns. When not writing, you can catch her working to empower voters and defend democracy alongside the League of Women Voters.

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