Hits & Misses | Mine Investigation, Commuter Blues & Legislative Protesting | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Hits & Misses | Mine Investigation, Commuter Blues & Legislative Protesting 

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Mine Investigation
With federal mine regulators in bed with the mine bosses, it’s up to Congress to seek justice for the nine men killed in the Crandall Canyon Mine disaster. A Senate oversight committee has stepped up to the plate with a blistering investigation that paints a damning picture of both mine owner Murray Energy and the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. The Senate investigation shows Murray forging ahead with a cave-in coal mining technique that company engineers knew to be dangerous. It says compliant federal safety authorities gave in to company pressure, despite analysis by their own experts showing the company’s plan wasn’t safe. The Senate committee’s call for prosecution by the Department of Justice appears more than justified.

Commuter Blues
Nine-year old TRAX is beginning to show wear and tear just as Utah Transit Authority gears up to expand its commuter train service. Morning commuters inbound to Salt Lake City on March 10 found north-south trains stopped near Murray after a cable that feeds power to trains snapped near an Interstate-80 overpass. UTA was better prepared for the breakdown than it was two weeks ago when TRAX was stopped by a nearly identical cable break. Caught off guard then, the transit authority didn’t have enough buses lined up to shuttle riders to running trains. This time, UTA dispatched staff to train platforms to help confused commuters. But the information handed out wasn’t always correct, leaving some poor suckers waiting for trains that never came.

Silencing Protest
Chalk up yet another win for free speech on Utah’s Capitol Hill. A federal judge has ruled citizens have a right to protest at the Legislature. The ruling comes just two years after Utah Highway Patrol troopers were set on advocates lobbying at the “people’s house” for poor people and animal rights. The groups won their lawsuit then. But this year, troopers were again shooing members of the Utah Animal Rights Coalition away from the doors of the Utah House. Protesters were told it was OK to hand out leaflets, but they needed a permit to hold signs. U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell didn’t see the difference. Hopefully, the same lawsuit won’t have to be filed many more times before Utah lawmakers get the First Amendment.

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More by Ted McDonough

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