Fear or Frenzy | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Fear or Frenzy 

Education Watchdogs, All Powerful State of Utah

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Fear or Frenzy
The U.S. Constitution is alive and well—in the minds of people who've never read it or, like the Bible, take it out of context. This COVID-19 pandemic isn't the first time the Constitution has been cited as a reason to ignore the rights and lives of others. Enter Kaysville Mayor Katie Witt and her delightsome opening of her city park for a protest concert. "The Constitution's your permit," the Standard-Examiner quotes her as saying. You know, the freedom of assembly. It should be noted the Kaysville City Council is pushing back against the mayor and presumptive loser in her campaign for Congress. Organizers have also withdrawn their request to gather. But Mayor "T-Witt" parrots the freedom-thinkers' mantra: "Are you going to choose fear or freedom?" There are limits to all constitutional rights. "Examples of laws whichlimit freedom of assemblyare found in various riot acts, unlawfulassemblylaws and ordinances prohibiting the blocking of sidewalks," USLegal.com explains. But as to the fear point—it's not fear for yourself, but respect for others.

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Education Watchdogs
Is Chris Jones of KUTV-2 News the only reporter interested in education anymore? Sure, there's a pandemic going on, but there is more to this story than the fact that kids are out of school. Let's give the Deseret News some props, too, for noting that the state school board is recommending some $382 million in budget cuts to schools because, you know, lawmakers want to save money there while pouring it into the Inland Port. But Jones has been following Utah's 138 public charter schools, a few of which are raking in the taxpayer dollars despite their financial and academic issues. It comes down to the process, said state board member Carol Lear, who disputes how and why the board allows low-performing schools to expand. If you're going to throw money at education, why not do it wisely? We are 51st in per-pupil funding and facing revising school rooms and education to ensure the kids' safety—all with $382 million less.

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All Powerful State of Utah
Here's how the country works. The federal government takes no responsibility for anything, the states take it all, and local governments are at the mercy of their states. Got it? That's how it played out with the rural town of Bluff and its attempt to stay at a high-risk level during the virus outbreak. "It is a small, rural community of 262 residents, the majority of whom fall within the definition of 'senior,'" the mayor wrote in a request to Gov. Gary Herbert. Bluff residents also interact with the Navajo Nation, with one of the worst outbreaks in the country. The Deseret News reported on the terse and tone-deaf response from Adj. Gen. Jefferson Burton, the Utah Department of Health's acting executive director, who denied the high-risk designation, leaving it to local residents and businesses to develop their own precautionary strategies. Why? Because the state knows best.

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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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