Story of the week
End of the legislative session
2008 session ends quietly
It was a lawmaking session that started with a gigantic budget surplus and mammoth ambitions. Both were whittled down dramatically by the time legislators limped to the finish line at midnight Wednesday. Still, they managed in the final hours to come up with a $2.6 billion I-15 rebuild in Utah County, a finance plan to build the TRAX line to Salt Lake City International Airport and raises for the state's thousands of public school teachers. Along the way, they abandoned plans for a tax cut and a massive overhaul of Utah's health care and an attempt at legislative ethics reform. They passed a watered-down immigration bill, but delayed the effective date to next year.
WHAT THEY DID
* The budget È Starting out flush with cash - $1 billion-plus in surplus revenues - lawmakers were forced to slim it down. February revenue projections showed the national recession has caught up with Utah and took a $340 million bite out of the budget pie.
* Teacher pay È Teachers will get $1,700 raises - more for math and science teachers. Lawmakers approved a 2.5 percent increase in per-pupil funding for schools and moved to better equalize school building funds statewide.
* Liquor laws È Flavored malt beverages will be sold in liquor stores, and alcohol in cocktails will increase to 1.5 ounces.
WHAT THEY DIDN'T DO
* Health care È A push to insure all Utahns was shuffled off to a task force.
* Taxes È Promises of a $100 million tax cut were dashed by lower revenue projections. Instead, the general sales tax will jump by an average of $9 per person.
* Class sizes È No funding for a program to further reduce class sizes in K-3, give teachers $2,500 raises or boost per-pupil funding by 7 percent as first recommended by the governor.
* Immigration È An omnibus immigration bill sailed through. But, with amendments, the legislation's impacts won't be felt until at least 2009.
* Ethics reform È Sen. Curtis Bramble wanted to do something about legislative conflicts of interest, but abandoned the effort.
We can't go on with business as usual. I don't think it will work, no matter how ingenious we are.
- Famed anthropologist and environmental champion
Jane Goodall, who visited Salt Lake City on Monday to promote her Roots & Shoots environmental program for youth.
"The Portland Iditarod is crazy and lots of fun so we thought it might work in Salt Lake City, too. And if we don't get into trouble, I'll give you my last name when we have another race next year."
- Salt Lake Urban Iditarod event organizer Laurie, commenting on the teams of mushers and their human ''dog'' teams marking Saturday's ceremonial start to the grueling sled dog race by guiding shopping carts through Salt Lake City's urban frontier. The athletic homage is a multi-city event.
Number of Utahns who had been hospitalized for the flu as of Wednesday, up 117 from the same time last year.
As seen on CNN
Investigators swarm home in ricin scandal
A substance found in Roger Von Bergendorff's Las Vegas hotel room and tested Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was confirmed to be the deadly toxin ricin. Police found vials of ricin, firearms and an anarchist-type textbook tabbed to a section on ricin and castor seeds in Bergendorff's Las Vegas motel room on Feb. 22. He remains hospitalized in Las Vegas, but authorities have not yet linked his illness to exposure to ricin. On day four of their inquiry, Salt Lake City FBI agents were still investigating who Bergendorff is and what connection, if any, his cousin's home in Riverton played in the discovery of the ricin.
Picked to finish fifth in MWC, Utah wins title
They were picked to finish fifth in the Mountain West Conference by the same prognosticators who picked Wyoming to win it all. But with Sunday's 67-53 win over No. 24 Wyoming, the No. 16 Utah women have won 20 consecutive games and locked up the regular season league championship and the top seed in the conference tournament.
Pink slips in SLC
Becker axes two city planners
(has mug of Becker)Tagging the planning division "a shambles" on the stump, new Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker retooled it Monday by ousting director George Shaw. He also stripped multiple layers of management, created one-stop shopping for permit needs at City Hall and appointed a new team to oversee the reorganization, which will include community advisers. Economic Development Director Louis Zunguze, in limbo after earlier being removed from the role, has also been dismissed.
"I hope this will relieve much of the frustration many city residents have expressed to me over the past year," Becker said.
Mormon Tabernacle director's sudden departure unsettling to members
The abrupt resignation of longtime Mormon Tabernacle Choir director Craig Jessop just two weeks before a major Easter concert and a month before LDS General Conference left many grasping for an explanation Wednesday.
Jessop's surprise move late Tuesday fueled speculation but few answers about the reasons for his departure.
LDS officials declined to comment, beyond what Jessop said in his resignation letter. Jessop did not return calls.
Rather than conducting the choir's rehearsal Tuesday, Je]ssop, 58, arrived around 9 p.m. and read a short letter that said he was "at a major crossroads of life." He said he intended to "keep active in the musical world, including teaching" and to spend more time with his family. He then walked out.
SATURDAY, MARCH 8, 2008
Swimming diaper required?
Babies in diapers will likely remain welcome in public pools this summer - rather than banned to prevent the spread of cryptosporidium, the diarrhea-causing parasite that plagued Utah pools last year. But their parents may be required to buy special, tighter-fitting swim diapers. And if there is another outbreak, tots in diapers will likely be banned.
Talovics heading back to Bosnia
Suljo and Sabira Talovic brought their children to Utah for a better life, where they could try to forget the ethnic civil war they suffered in the former Yugoslavia. But after years of striving for a new life, their hopes were shattered in February 2007, when their son Sulejman Talovic gunned down five Valentine's Day shoppers before being shot by police. Now a year later, the Talovic family has packed up and moved back to Bosnia.
"Suljo's life has changed. Everything has changed for the whole family," says brother-in-law Sadik Omerovic. Sabira was sick. Suljo was tired of the frenetic American pace. "He said he wants to try in Bosnia."
Police: Youth died from self-inflicted gunshot
Salt Lake City police say a 14-year-old boy found dead by his parents at home on Monday died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Investigators determined the cause of death after examining a scene that police initially said showed indications of a suspicious death, police spokesman Jeff Bedard said Tuesday. Relatives on Monday reported the teenager, Ramon "Cito" Morales , had been stabbed to death. Bedard said he was unsure why the family originally believed the boy was stabbed.
Burglary, suspicion of rape charged in arrest
A 26-year-old Orem man has been arrested for burglary and suspicion of rape after allegedly sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl in her home Sunday. Police said the girl told them she was awakened at 2 a.m. to find a man lying on top of her as she slept on a bed next to her younger sister. Her underclothes had been removed. She said she recognized the man as having been in the home with her older brother. She said she demanded he leave, and he ran from the home.
Ute coach: Wyoming coach lied about play
Utah boys basketball coach Jim Boylen accused Wyoming's Heath Schroyer of lying about his directions to his players at the end of the a 72-64 victory over the Utes in Laramie in which the Cowboys threw an alley-oop pass for a dunk at the final horn.
The play infuriated Boylen, who confronted Schroyer in an angry and profane shouting match after the game.
Committee says MSHA caved first
A critical report from a Senate committee this week suggests Mine Safety and Health Administration officials yielded to pressure from officials within the mining company, and appear to have sped up approval of mining in Crandall Canyon and backed off on safety enforcement actions, records obtained by the committee appear to show.
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