Short takes on issues
Soaring technology • Utah State University has a long tradition of excellent aerospace education and research, and now a USU-affiliated lab will be sending some of USU's advanced weather-sensing equipment into space. It won't be the first time USU has been a source of orbiting satellite payloads, but this one, to be launched on an Asian satellite, has the potential to predict weather events much earlier for people all over the globe. USU's Space Dynamics Lab began developing the weather sensor more than 15 years ago but ran out of federal funding to complete it. Partnering with the private GeoMetWatch, a company started by some of the project scientists, the lab fortunately will see the project bear fruit in 2016.
Declining day care • Working mothers in Utah have a more difficult time than most other moms in American in finding a safe and affordable place for their children while they are on the job. That's a real problem, since the percentage of Utah mothers who work and also have young children is higher than the national average. The number of child-care facilities in the Beehive State dropped from 34.5 per 1,000 Utah children in 1997 to 23.1 per 1,000 in 2007. Nationally, child care facilities increased from 28.8 per 1,000 children in 1997 to 37.1 a decade later. While more working parents are getting child-care help from relatives, the situation points to the need for more government-subsidized after-school and preschool programs at a time of declining funding. The Utah Legislature shies away from any allocation for such programs, and the attitude is bolstered by the conservative culture and an archaic belief that children should be at home with their mothers. Obviously, they aren't, and high-quality day care and preschools are much needed.
Persistent watchdog • Ogden residents should be grateful to activist Dan Schroeder, who spent many hours and not a little of his own money to put the city's budget online. It took two months of wrangling to get the line-by-line records for the past three budget years, and the city charged Schroeder 25 cents per printed page, for a total bill of $169. He then scanned the 676 pages, created an electronic document and posted it online. While not many Ogdenites will read through the entire document, Schroeder's odyssey likely will prompt some changes in how the data is made available. Already, some City Council members are voicing support for making the documents electronic, as not even they get the data as an e-document. It's always good for elected officials to know someone is watching.