Short takes on issues
A mayor's tight ship • Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker introduced his proposed budget with a warning. While he offers no property tax hike this year, he doesn't guarantee the same will be true next budget year. It's a testament to the mayor's popularity that he feels comfortable suggesting an entire year in advance that residents might see their taxes rise to keep their city not only operating well, but improving. The warning was accompanied by an invitation for the public to get involved in creating a budget in 2014 that maintains the services they want and need most. Such openness deserves a positive response: Residents should participate. Becker has not increased taxes during the recession years despite precipitous drops in revenue. He hopes to see some new or expanded revenue streams, including some from Internet sales tax if Congress passes the Marketplace Fairness Act. The capital city's daytime population of commuters dwarfs its permanent resident count, and the city budget must include services for the many people who don't contribute tax money to the city coffers. Becker has done very well managing all the challenges his city poses for its leaders. Salt Lakers should support him by getting involved in the process.
A DA's correct choice • Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill rightly was honored by the local chapter of the International Footprint Association as law enforcement Officer of the Year. Gill's role in rooting out alleged misconduct and bungling by officers in West Valley City's narcotics unit deserves recognition. As the award presenters noted, Gill did the right thing in dismissing 88 cases handled by the unit, since he was convinced they couldn't be successfully prosecuted. The DA knew he was going out on a limb and would be criticized, especially by West Valley officials and some residents, but to go ahead with cases that were tainted would have been a waste of taxpayer money. As Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder said, "Mr. Gill's done what's right under a great deal of scrutiny." The job of Gill's staff is to determine the validity and strength of cases brought to them by police in their jurisdiction. His response to the award was simply that he tries to do that job as thoroughly as he can. As association president Stan Jacobson rightly summed up, Gill "has been fair and thorough and has exhibited courage and brilliance."