Development Debacle, Conflicts of Interest and Fixing the System | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Development Debacle, Conflicts of Interest and Fixing the System 

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Development Debacle
Surprise! Sugar House is about to grow in a large Fort Union-ish way. While residents are happy that the parking sea once fronting Shopko will be relocated, they are less than thrilled about the urban boxes being planned. Former Salt Lake Councilman Soren Simonsen railed the design on Facebook, calling it "suburban" and not keeping with residents' desires. An architect in the comments called for a development of "tight roads, pedestrian-friendly and oriented around small shops and restaurants. Two-stories maximum." Instead, the plan has three buildings—two commercial and one residential—and a large parking structure. If you're looking for low-income housing, look elsewhere.

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Conflicts of Interest
Speaking of development, The Salt Lake Tribune and the Utah Investigative Journalism Project offered another story about legislators and conflicts of interest. Duh. House Majority Leader Brad Wilson and Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams both have financial interests tied to the 20-mile long West Davis Corridor in northern Utah. How lucrative those interests will be is debatable. But Utah is asking the wrong questions when it comes to conflicts. The state has long deemed them unavoidable and meaningless, and the general public seems to agree. What needs to happen is a change of focus. Voters need to elect people of larger vision. Utahns for Better Transportation look at population growth and see boulevards, bikes and pedestrians. Adams and Wilson see cars on highways surrounded by transit developments. Their narrow perspectives will never change. Their constituents need to realize that.

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Fixing the System
One of the stated reasons for building a new prison was to create new solutions to a growing problem, and that's where the Justice Reinvestment Initiative came in. But while the goals were to increase public safety, reduce recidivism and the prison population, the initiative didn't specifically focus on solitary confinement and its psychological effects. Now, according to The Salt Lake Tribune, prison officials are looking for alternatives to a system that resulted in one of the nation's highest rates of suicides. For 13 years until 2013, Utah had the highest number in the U.S., and is only slightly below that now. Solitary confinement was the most significant factor. Officials are looking at more mental evaluations and less restrictive policies, and the Standard-Examiner reports that lawmakers are examining jail policies, too. Imprisonment should not unintentionally carry a death sentence.

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