Less Talk | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City Weekly

Less Talk 

Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott; media's declining interest in health care; school lunch-shaming.

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Time to Tackle the Issue
Pul-eeze, people. Stop it with the "will of the people" business when you talk about a mentally unfit office-holder. Regarding news about poor old Gary Ott, Salt Lake County's mentally compromised recorder: Really? All we can do is ask him to resign—despite a legislative effort by Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck to create a process. The Deseret News spent considerable personal capital following Ott's sad path to dementia. It was one of those "everyone knows" things that no one, even the Legislature, is willing to tackle. Salt Lake County Council Chairman Steve DeBry made the absurd argument that a legal process would put an elected official's privacy at constitutional risk—even though elected officials no longer are private citizens. Surely, the 22,000 people who voted for Ott would not expect him to continue in such diminished capacity. And they didn't vote for his deputies, either.


Health Care Interest
Maybe everyone's tired of hearing about marches by the, you know, non-Republicans. And health care—doesn't everyone in Utah think it's been just terrible under the Affordable Care Act? Repeal, repeal—that's the mantra. Only a handful of news outlets felt it was important to cover the recent rally for health care. Deseret News ran an article saying "scores of people" participated, and KTVX Channel 4 ran a very brief item. Maybe the lack of media interest is because of the inevitability of the GOP effort. Salon did an in-depth report on "9 of the most staggeringly awful statements Republicans have made about health care just this year," prominently featuring little Jason Chaffetz' iPhone comment. Lawmakers can't feel your pain if they have none themselves.


Stop the Lunch-Shaming
It's a start, but not much. Lunch-shaming is definitely a thing, and not just in Utah. The State Board of Education is about to start an audit of school fees statewide, a Deseret News report said, and it will cover a lot more than lunch. This is an issue with philosophical, political and financial implications. The philosophical: What does a free, appropriate public education really entail? The political: The Trump administration proposed a 21-percent reduction to the USDA program. The financial: If parents don't pay for lunches, uniforms and programs, who does? The New Mexico governor recently signed a Hunger-Free Students' Bill of Rights Act, CNNMoney said. And a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced the Anti-Lunch Shaming Act of 2017 to curb the worst of these practices. No matter what the audit comes up with, Utah needs to act.

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About The Author

Katharine Biele

Katharine Biele

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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