Happy New Year. Here is my list for the 10 best and the worst of 2013.
10 • Brian Tarbet. The former adjutant general of the Utah National Guard came in as acting attorney general upon the resignation of an embattled John Swallow and brought order to the office.
9 • Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George. His bill protecting gays and lesbians from employment and housing discrimination was the first of its kind to pass favorably out of a state legislative committee.
8 • Mormons Building Bridges. This group continues to build understanding and love between the LDS and gay communities.
7 • Sal Petilos. The new executive director of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s ill-conceived interpretation of the law that restaurant patrons could not order a drink until they ordered food caused such a backlash it spurred a more reasonable policy.
6 • Carl Wimmer. In past years, Wimmer would have been on my worst list for his combative and unyielding approach as a legislator. But after losing the Republican congressional nomination to Mia Love and then getting jilted by the Nevada Republican Party, Wimmer has mellowed. He is now a high school resource officer in Sanpete County committed to helping troubled youths. And he is studying to become an evangelical Christian minister.
5 • LDS Church leaders. Their pronouncement that the faith’s past policy banning blacks from its all-male priesthood was based on 19th-century racial attitudes and not revelation represented a bold step toward honestly assessing Mormon history and hopefully building more trust from non-Mormons.
4 • Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings. As a Republican, he has worked diligently with Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, a Democrat, investigating former Attorney General John Swallow and his predecessor Mark Shurtleff, both Republicans.
3 • Jeremy Johnson. It’s sad when an alleged white-collar criminal who has admitted to being part of an alleged bribery scheme looks good compared to the elected officials with whom he associated.
2 • House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, and Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville. Lockhart’s support made the House probe of Swallow possible and Dunnigan, head of the investigative committee, gave it the leadership it needed in the face of political opposition.
1 • U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby. His controversial decision declaring Utah’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional was well-argued in his opinion and based on sound legal reasoning.
10 • Former Boy Scout leaders David Hall and Glenn Taylor. For toppling an ancient rock formation in Goblin Valley then posting their action on YouTube, acting like heroes.
9 • Boy Scouts of America. For its awkward approach of finally allowing gay Scouts but continuing its ban on gay Scout leaders.
8 • West Valley City Police Department. It took Gill to finally do a proper probe of the police shooting of a 21-year-old woman, which Gill found was unjustified.
7 • Chad Bennion. The Salt Lake County Republican chairman made a fool of himself and his party when he chastised Gill for his well-explained findings in the West Valley City police shooting and made wild and unsubstantiated accusations against the Democratic district attorney.
6 • The Utah Education Association. For firing its lobbyist, Kory Holdaway, for what appeared to be petty turf jealousies. Holdaway, a former legislator, had good relationships with lawmakers and was an effective UEA spokesman.
5 • Gov. Gary Herbert. For an utter lack of leadership. No position on Medicaid expansion. No position on Swallow. But at least he said Shelby’s ruling on same-sex marriage caused chaos. That’s a position, sort of.
4 • Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan. First he suggested we do away with compulsory education. Now he wants parents who put their children in public schools to sign a contract and face possible prosecution for violating it. He obviously has decided he needs the Eagle Forum’s support if he wants to seek higher office.
3 • Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, Bob Fuehr and similar commentators. These folks can only echo Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka’s “activist judge” shrieks to denounce Shelby’s decision, because they don’t have a good legal argument.
2 • John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff. Need I say more?
1 • The payday-lending industry. This group should get the lifetime achievement award.