Put on the Red Light | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Put on the Red Light 

Hookers, tax breaks and disconnected legislators.

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Put on the Red Light
Bring it on, Daily Mail! If it weren't for the British tabloid, Utahns would still be feeling sad and sorry for Rep. Jon Stanard, whose sudden departure from the Legislature was off-limits to the media. Why? Because House Speaker Greg Hughes told them not to speculate about it. And you know Utahns. We like to be nice and obedient. The thing is that Hughes "is not the boss of us" and wrongly hid the facts from a public, which, according to later reports, footed the bill for Stanard's liaisons with his hooker friend. As is so Utah, this is all about avoiding embarrassment, and that kind of avoidance always comes at a cost. Still, there were hints in the local media—some from Utah Policy and a headline in The Salt Lake Tribune, "Lawmaker 'unexpectedly' quits." The Daily Mail went for facts rather than innuendo.

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Big Breaks, Big Donors
Remember all the indignation over the national bank bailout? "Too big to fail" was the maxim of the day as the nation bickered over the bank bailout of 2008. Now, we have something alike in the massive EnergySolutions financial parachute. The Utah House voted to give a yearly fee break of $1.72 million to ES, which The Salt Lake Tribune noted was the biggest donor to legislators last year. Even more stunning was the argument that competition is hurting the industry. Wait, what? As if the monetary giveaway isn't enough, Utah continues to site dumps and welcome wastes to the state. Let's think this through. What caused the financial crisis? What caused ES woes, if any? Many economists think it was a lack of regulation, according to Economic and Political Weekly. But regulation is hardly on the minds of our legislators.

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Impaired and Distracted
As long as we're talking about political disconnects, how about those impaired drivers? Sometimes we care; sometimes we don't. "It's a difficult balance to strike between public safety and personal rights and liberties," The Salt Lake Tribune quoted Rep. Justin Fawson, R-North Ogden, as saying. Let's test that theory. Fawson was one of the committee members who doomed a bill to restrict hand-held cell phones while driving. Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, noted that distracted driving kills almost as many people as drunk driving. Never mind. In Utah, alcohol impairs, but texting does not. Another legislator is trying to delay the .05 percent blood alcohol content law. In 2016, 2,017 people nationwide died in crashes involving BACs of less than .08, according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Website Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks says 3,450 people were killed by distracted drivers that same year.

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