Utah Lt. Gov. Greg Bell might have inadvertently shed some light on why the Utah Legislature has voted to cut funding, close stores and lay off employees of Utah's monopoly liquor store business, which could cause a reduction in the $28 million in liquor revenues diverted each year to the state's public school lunch program. He may also have revealed why Utah remains last among the states in per-pupil funding for schools.
Bell spoke Wednesday at the Wasatch Front Economic Forum at the Alta Club, and was asked by a forum member why the Legislature continues to lavish state funds on roads while remaining relatively stingy toward public education.
Bell told the group that ever since voters in 2007 repealed by referendum the legislatively passed voucher bill to use public money to aid in private school tuition costs, a group of lawmakers in his Republican Party has been "hardened against public education." He said those lawmakers believe in a philosophy of "starving the beast [public education]."
Well, now it all makes sense.
Freudian slip • The Utah Liquor Commission meeting was highly charged on Thursday when commissioners voted unanimously to urge Gov. Gary Herbert to veto the liquor reform bill that, among other things, calls for closed meetings and strips the board of its authority to elect its own chairman. (Herbert signed the bill on Friday.)
Liquor commission attorney Earl Dorius was still clearly on edge from the intensity of the meeting when he addressed an applicant for a liquor license as "brother."
A red-faced Dorius acknowledged that his inadvertent use of the Mormon moniker for other church members in a public meeting was "a first" in his long career.
Not to be outdone, Commission Chairman Sam Granato, also a Mormon, asked Dorius if his mishap had to do with a senior moment. Granato used Mormon terminology in calling that instance an "elder" mistake.
Speak when spoken to? • During that same high-profile meeting, which was broadly covered by the media, Fox-13 reporter Nineveh Dinha arrived late and was seeking information about the budget cuts from Division of Alcohol Beverage Control communications director Vickie Ashby.
Ashby, during the questioning, attempted to interject that the commission called for the repeal of the liquor reform bill, but was cut off when Dinha, surrounded by other reporters, said, "I'll do the interviewing, honey."
So Ashby halted her explanation and just let Dinha ask her questions. Dinha, when filing her live report that morning, missed that important part of the story.
That topped off quite a week for Dinha.
Earlier, when Utah House members and Gov. Gary Herbert called for the repeal of the controversial HB477, known as the "kill GRAMA" bill, Dinha tweeted: "Today is proof the media is more powerful than the Utah Legislature. As we should be."
That ought to help the news media's collective public image.
Yo Bro Fredette • When a marvelous talent like BYU basketball player Jimmer Fredette comes along, that star quality can attract a wide variety of fan interest.
Thursday night, at the Barbary Coast Saloon, a popular biker bar in South Salt Lake, basketball was featured on the several television sets. Some bikers were watching the Utah Jazz game on one TV.
But the vast majority of the tattooed, bandana-wearing, hairy-armed rowdies whose very appearance would violate several sections of the BYU honor code were riveted by the NCAA tournament. They were screaming, and yelling and cheering.
For the Cougars.