Short takes on the news
Everybody talks about the weather • But nobody every does anything about it. Except, in the Uinta Basin, where local officials are laying the groundwork for refusing to do anything about rapidly rising levels of air pollution by blaming the elements. There is little doubt that the difference between the high-pollution winter of 2010 and the much lower-pollution winter of 2011 is due to the fact that the latter season included a lot less snow and sunshine. When those elements are absent, the mixture of emissions from cars and oil and gas drilling is less likely to hang around in the air and in people's lungs. But the area still needs to be about the crucial business of reducing pollutants, by such means as reducing auto emissions and setting higher standards for the drilling business. Some winters will be better than others, weather wise. But the only thing people can control is the amount of airborne gunk the weather might trap.
Confirming Judge Chon • A majority of the Utah Senate did the right thing last week in refusing to act as a simple rubber stamp for its own confirmation committee. That committee had voted 4-2 against Gov. Gary Herbert's nomination of attorney Su J. Chon for a seat on the state's 3rd District Court. Those voting against the nomination ignored her extensive legal experience and high ratings as a negotiator and mediator and raised some wan concerns about Chon's lack of trial experience. But that was such a thin reed to base an argument on that others raised questions about whether the nominee's minority status she was born in Korea was being held against her. Or whether she wasn't seen as a strong enough defender of property rights. But Herbert aggressively stuck by his choice and the full Senate confirmed her by a vote of 17-10. All seven Democrats voted to confirm. Republicans split, 10-10. It was the right decision.
It's who you know • There's one house in Draper's Corner Canyon Vista subdivision that has, instead of a small back yard that does not compete with the beauty of the canyon, a large yard with walls, fences and a red and blue basketball court. The house belongs to a son and daughter-in-law of Utah Sen. Margaret Dayton. Sen. Wayne Niederhauser and Rep. LaVar Christensen also came to the homeowners' aid in their dispute with the city council and several neighbors over whether the garish plan was legal. Legal it may well be. But fair? Try getting such a variance when you don't have so many powerful friends, and it is not likely you will be so successful.