News roundup: Rice steps aside, John Kerry steps forward
Herbert neglects FLDS payment. Utah's federal lawmakers sidelined in fiscal cliff debate. S.L. County Council votes on tax hike tonight.
Happy Friday. Mired in a partisan fight over Bengazi, Susan Rice ended her bid to be the next secretary of state. Rice, who is now the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said "the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive, and costly." [CNN] [NYTimes] [WaPost]
-> She also spelled out her decision in an editorial. [WaPost]
-> Now all eyes are on Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., seen as a logical replacement for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. [CNN]
Topping the news: Utah's members of Congress expect little to no holiday break as President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner continue to privately negotiate a solution to the fiscal cliff. [DNews]
-> Obama and Boehner met for 50 minutes Thursday but apparently made little ground. [WaPost] [LATimes]
-> The Salt Lake County Council faced a barrage of negative comments over its proposed tax increase. The council members will vote today at 7 p.m [Trib] [DNews]
Tweets of the day: From @elforesto: "I totally get the appeal of partisan politics. It doesn't take much effort to reflexively hate on 'the other side.'"
Happy birthday: To Jennifer Scott, Chaffetz's district director.
In other news: The governor's proposed budget left out a $5.6 million payment owed to the administrator of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. [Trib]
-> Against all odds: New voting data shows that Rep. Jim Matheson won 49 percent of the vote in his new district, the same boundaries that only awarded 30 percent to Obama. [Politico]
-> Chevron pays the Utah government a $1.8 million settlement following claims that the company unnecessarily took money from a state fund for underground maintenance. [Trib]
-> Western governors warned about continued drought at a national drought forum. Gov. Gary Herbert addressed the need for new strategies prior to the conference: "We can't make it rain, but we can do a better job of preparing for drought conditions and mitigating the impacts of drought." [WestGov]
-> As is, Utah law doesn't grant council members the ability to force Brigham City Mayor Dennis Fife to resign after having confessed of an affair to his constituents. State Rep. Lee Perry wants to change that. [Trib]
-> The new TRAX lines in West Valley City and Mid-Jordan still aren't carrying as many riders, nearly a year and a half later, as was predicted they would when they first opened. [Trib]
-> John Swallow, attorney general-elect, announced two top staffers, including former Utah National Guard Adj. Gen. Brian Tarbet. [Trib]
-> The Sierra Club wants to stop the expansion of Alton Coal's operation near Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park and so do 67,000 petition signers. [Trib]
-> One Utah entrepreneur would like to see a federal health exchange in Utah. [Trib]
-> State leaders are looking forward to the results of a review on whether they should accept the Medicaid expansion that's part of health reform. [DNews]
-> Paul Rolly weighs in on crazy Democrats, an unidentified communications director and a potential factor in Mia Love's loss. [Trib]
-> Pat Bagley starts the countdown to doomsday. [Trib]
-> And just for fun, a Christmas poem courtesy of the White House press: [BuzzFeed].
Where are they?
Utah Governor Gary Herbert holds an energy discussion and later meets with former Wyoming Governor David Freudenthal.
SLC Mayor Ralph Becker joins a National League of Cities conference call and eats at a Salt Lake City employee holiday lunch.
President Barack Obama will sign H.R. 6156, the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act.
Got a tip? A birthday, wedding or anniversary to announce? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you haven't already, sign up for our weekday email and get this sent directly to your inbox. [Trib]
Matt Canham and Betsy Blanchard Twitter.com/mattcanham and Twitter.com/betsyblanchard