THUMB UP: Saving our institutional memory • Those of us who were sad to see Sen. Bob Bennett's decades of Capitol Hill experience and policy savvy cast aside in a fit of tea party anger earlier this year can take some comfort in the news that all that institutional memory isn't going away altogether. After his term ends next month, Bennett will take up a post at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics as its first resident scholar. There he will teach classes in politics and government and help manage an internship program that will place students in inside positions in Washington. While one may rightly worry that all the know-how and connections Bennett accumulated while on the public payroll will also be put to private use at the soon-to-be-former senator's new lobbying shop, it is good to know that the public in general, and U students in particular, will also continue to get a return on that investment.
THUMB DOWN: Women in business • Economic development suffers when half the population is lagging behind their potential for success in business. That's the case in Utah, where only a quarter of all businesses were owned by women in 2007. That's the sixth-lowest rate in the nation, according to a five-year report from the Census Bureau, and that statistic isn't doing anything to improve the state's economy. Worse still, the report shows Salt Lake County at the bottom among the 50 most populous counties in the nation. Small businesses are the economic engine of the country, and in 2007, businesses owned by women employed more than 7.6 million Americans nationwide. The LDS Church encourages women to focus on raising families, but that shouldn't deter women from taking the plunge into business ownership, as some suggest, since the dominant church also encourages all its members to be educated and to be self-sufficient.
THUMB UP: Embracing tolerance • The Salt Lake City School Board took a stand for tolerance and justice when it approved a policy outlawing discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The 4-3 board vote will extend protection to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students and staff in the Salt Lake City School District. The new policy is the first of its kind adopted by a school district in Utah, but other districts would do well to follow suit. Nationally, harassment of gay students has led to a number of high-profile suicides this year, and there's evidence that Utah's rate of teen suicide among gay and lesbian students has been rising. It's a duty of schools to prevent all forms of mistreatment.