Open Anxiety | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Open Anxiety 

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Open Anxiety
Anxiety. That is what we want our public officials to avoid—at all costs, even the cost of public discourse. Just imagine, says Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, that you're walking down the hall and want to drop in on a colleague. Damn. You can't talk business, or at least the people's business. "It causes confusion, inefficiency and a lot of anxiety," Greene told a legislative committee. In fact, he used the word anxiety over and over, being relatively anxious himself. Greene was proposing a change to the Open and Public Meetings Act to exempt three-person commissions from talking privately because, you know, two of them constitute a quorum. One problem: They could exclude that third commissioner—and of course, the public. Oh, and who's been complaining about these inevitable and unavoidable secret meetings? Not the public. The very anxious commissioners. The committee saw fit to pass on this one.

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A Costly Fix
Wait, what? Utah's going to need how many more prison beds by 2022? This, even after the Justice Reinvestment Initiative? Even after the determination to rehabilitate prisoners? Well, that was a lot of hot air blowing from a Legislature bent on clearing out Point of the Mountain for the gold ring of development. A legislative hearing detailed in a Salt Lake Tribune story showed the sorry state of affairs that inevitably led to cost overruns. Oh, but don't forget that the first number thrown out was $550 million (not $860 million), roundly dismissed by the eagerness to get it done. Meanwhile, the recidivism rate is about 70 percent and there appears to be no will to address anything but bricks and mortar. Just watch. The Legislature will OK more prison-building money while refusing to expand Medicaid because it's too expensive.

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'Political Pornography'
Let's talk public lands again since the Outdoor Retailers are whooping it up in Denver. U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop has started Twitter-bashing Patagonia, which is suing the president over Bears Ears, for not testifying at a hearing, while polls like one from Conservation of the West still show most westerners oppose the administration's attack on public lands. A New York Times opinion writer called it "the political pornography of our time: revealing but distorting, exciting but dulling, debasing to its users, and, well, ejaculatory." And Rob, it's actually against House rules to disparage someone on Twitter. But hey, the president does it. It may not look good for the "public" in public lands, and environmentalists know it. They've developed a mobile app for people to report damage to public lands, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. It's not Twitter, but it flies.

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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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