High and Dry | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City Weekly

High and Dry 

Cutting the Mics, Bailed Out

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High and Dry
We're not alone. At least as terminal lakes go, the Great Salt Lake is in good company. In the most recent terrifying news, The Washington Post reported that climate change is drying up lakes faster than scientists thought. "A warming climate and human water consumption drove at least half of the decline in natural lakes, the study found." Meanwhile, GSL is still kicking up toxic dust despite having risen about 5 feet since the doomsday shrinkage, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. But with dust clouds and existing pollution in the valley, EPA is conducting an "environmental justice study" to determine the effects on the west side of the valley. What's out there to make things worse? The information-murky Utah inland port, with its idling trains and busy warehouses. Even if lawmakers are skeptical of climate change, they should take heed of the deadly pollution their development-friendly policies are creating.

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Cutting the Mics
Most Utahns wouldn't think of St. George as a communist stronghold, but that type of wild accusation is what caused the mayor to call a halt to free speech at council meetings. At one April meeting, a crowd accused some council members of a secret agenda to make "St. George the drag queen hub of the West," The Salt Lake Tribune reports. The problem was that drag shows weren't even on the agenda. If you're wondering why this is happening, so does Utah's governor. The New Yorker Radio Hour had an explanation of sorts. Politics has been nationalized and in the United States, the culture war is unique around the world. In order to get back to business, governments may have to tell audiences to shut up. To those who say it's un-American, they should know that freedom of speech is not absolute. Unless, of course, it's on Twitter.

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Bailed Out
While the anti-federal government movement is alive and well in Utah, there are some bright spots—if only people would quit screaming "socialism." During the COVID pandemic—not counting all the grim deaths—education was the big loser. Online learning was often the only option, but everyone suffered as a result. "It's a national tragedy. And its impact will be felt for generations." Kathleen Brown, director of the University of Utah Reading Clinic told The Salt Lake Tribune. And because money often makes the difference between success and failure, Utah was awarded more than $1 billion to shore up K-12 education. In total, the federal government spent more than $4.2 trillion to keep the economy afloat, and sadly many states have yet to use those funds. The good news is that many Utah recipients have benefitted, and Utah is just barely below the national average of spending before the September 2024 deadline. One problem, if you care about education, is the GOP insistence on rescinding the unspent money as part of its debt ceiling negotiations.

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About The Author

Katharine Biele

Katharine Biele

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

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