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Preserve Utah 

Transparency Trials and Renters Beware

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Transparency Trials
Despite attempts to ensure that public business is just that, the quest for transparency in government is a long-shot at best. The good news is that, after decades of cloak-and-dagger business at Dugway Proving Ground, the U.S. Army recently released logs of thousands of experiments there. Fox News reporter Ben Winslow's story revealed curious experiments involving "weaponized mosquitoes" and others that reveal what activist Steve Erickson calls a "long legacy of human experimentation." On the immediate front, the Utah Transit Authority was outed by its nemesis, The Salt Lake Tribune. UTA admitted closing its committee doors to the public because "you screw us up." And the State Records Committee agreed with the Utah Rivers Council that the Washington County Water Conservancy District should release documents on the repayment plan for the Lake Powell Pipeline, St. George's The Spectrum reports. Transparency is a never-ending battle.

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Renters Beware
If you're looking to rent in Salt Lake City, you'd better be ready to pay. Apartment complexes are springing up to meet the perceived population boom coming by 2020, but that population had better be flush with cash. A University of Utah report shows vacancy rates now at a mere 3 percent, sending developers into a building frenzy. But a two-bedroom unit could cost you $1,400 a month. The Deseret News, which reported on the trend, editorialized about the increasing homelessness, quoting Mike Akerlow, Salt Lake City's director of housing and neighborhood development, saying "if Salt Lake City were to get every tax credit in the state, it would still take us 15 years to fill that gap of 8,000 units." Policy makers need to see that government intervention is critical.

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Preserve Utah
While many Utahns would prefer mandates for conservation, they can at least see some willingness to tackle the problems. St. George's The Spectrum reported on the "Petroglyph Patrol," a volunteer effort to protect some of Utah's amazing ancient rock sites. During the busiest visitation days, volunteers will monitor the sites, talk to visitors and report vandalism or looting. The state has not been big on preservation efforts, but there's a growing realization that historic treasures cannot be replaced. Whether people's health can be preserved is another problem. Utahns have long been asked to be aware of air pollution, and now the Utah Division of Water Resources has launched a water conservation initiative, H2Oath, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. Residents, though, need to do more than promise.

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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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