Short takes on issues
Goofy on alcohol • Zealous enforcement of a goofy law only underlines its goofiness. That's what happened at the end of 2012 when compliance officers for the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control cracked down on restaurants that serve patrons an alcoholic beverage before they order their meals. The DABC officers wanted evidence that diners were going to be eating a meal before they could be served a drink. Serving a glass of wine to diners as they look over the menu, or allowing diners who are waiting for a table to enjoy a drink, were both declared a no-no. The rules had not been stringently enforced until December, when officers issued nine citations, which can carry hefty fines and license suspensions. But, faced with protests by restaurant owners, the DABC recognized the silliness, and now says it will only cite an establishment if patrons do not order food. Good thing, as tens of thousands of visitors are about to arrive in Utah for the Sundance Film Festival and the Outdoor Retailers Winter Market. Utah would have been a laughingstock.
Pollution posse • Utah's Uinta Basin is as rural as it gets, but it has worse wintertime ozone pollution than many big cities. One of the hottest regions for oil and gas drilling in the country, the basin means big bucks to the energy industry, which doesn't want the federal Environmental Protection Agency imposing limits on its polluting activities. So the Western Energy Alliance is teaming up with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Utah State University, the University of Utah and other organizations to figure out how to reduce the pollution. Regardless of the motivation, the effort to reduce pollution is important to protect the health of basin residents. That's what's important.
SUU audit • An audit of Southern Utah University's English as a Second Language program concluded that plagiarism was not endemic. Well, that's a relief. But the audit conducted by Utah State University ESL professors seems to lack depth. The auditors interviewed eight of the ESL faculty members, four students, the curriculum coordinator and the dean of SUU's School of Continuing and Professional Studies, who are hardly objective evaluators. But the original complaint from an ESL instructor and the resulting audit have started a process of reform that should be helpful and is necessary to end what the auditors called a system in which "many students were passed through ... largely on attendance-based assessment." That kind of system is no good to the students or the university.