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Editor column: What topics interest you for future town halls?

By Terry Orme

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Aug 01 2014 06:29 pm • Last Updated Aug 02 2014 06:26 pm

A perceptive friend, who also happens to be a former Tribune reporter, calls newspapers "the place where a community meets to talk about itself."

For The Tribune, that conversation over the past year has included air quality, affordable and accessible health care, alleged corruption in the highest echelons of the Utah attorney general’s office, the roles of women in the LDS Church and control and use of Utah’s vast open lands.

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On four occasions The Tribune has provided live forums where we, as a community, met to talk about the issues we all face. As we approach the last days of summer, and gear up for a busy fall of elections, back to school, and the beginning of the prosecution of two former attorneys general, we want you to join us again. And we want your input on what topics to tackle.

Over the last year, Tribune reporters and editors have invited panels of experts and Utah residents to gather at the Salt Lake City Main Library and the Viridian Event Center in West Jordan to ask and answer questions and express points of view.

Last fall, it was the Affordable Care Act and what its implementation means to Utahns. In the winter, it was the state’s deteriorating air quality and what can be, and is being, done about it. In spring came a discussion about the emotional issue of local versus federal control of public lands, in the aftermath of the armed confrontation at Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch.

Earlier this summer, we took the discussion to the Viridian Center, where the topic was law enforcement’s investigation of Susan Powell’s disappearance, and the ensuing tragedy that destroyed her family. That event was part of an initiative by The Tribune called Utah Lit, a book club focusing on works about Utah and, often, written by Utahns.

All these events were hosted by Jennifer Napier-Pearce, The Tribune’s multimedia specialist. Besides those in attendance, there was an online audience as we live streamed on sltrib.com and archived the presentations for future viewing. The forums at the Main Library were broadcast live on KCPW public radio.

Some issues deserve revisiting. Air quality, for one. But what about others? Right now there’s a passionate debate roiling about solar energy and its role in Utah’s energy future. That’s a possibility.

We here in the newsroom want to hear from you. What topics do you think are worth exploring in depth in a town hall setting?

We aim to engage a broad audience in the issues Utahns face, to foster constructive dialogue that informs and offers solutions. Our endeavors include the weekday Trib Talks, video discussions hosted by Napier-Pearce with sources on important topics and presented at sltrib.com.

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So, consider this a solicitation for your feedback, which is critical in determining where we go with these events. After all, you are the community, and we provide the forum where the discussion takes place. We need to get together and talk things over. We’d love to hear from you.

Send suggestions to me at orme@sltrib.com, or 90 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84101.

Terry Orme is editor and publisher.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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