Coverage in the court • The journey toward modern media coverage and public understanding of our state courts took a step forward the other day when the Utah Judicial Council approved and sent out for public comment a new set of rules for the use of video cameras, smartphones and tablet computers in the state's courtrooms. When such technology is so common to so much of modern life, keeping those devices out of courtrooms does not protect the decorum of proceedings so much as it mystifies them and leaves average citizens unaware and confused about what the judicial branch is doing, with our money and in our name. Judges must maintain control in their courtrooms. But wise use of modern communications devices in our courts can only help people understand the important business that goes on there.
A new bartender in town • Welcome to the new director-designate of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Salvador Petilos. Petilos, whose appointment was approved Tuesday by the ABC board and Gov. Gary Herbert, must still be confirmed by the state Senate. Petilos is not a retailer or a restaurateur. He is an experienced rules-and-compliance guy, most recently deputy director of the Utah Department of Administrative Services. Given that the state's $300 million liquor monopoly lost its last director in a scandal about lax purchasing rules and inside deals, such a stickler for following procedure may be just what Utah needs. Faith that the department is being properly run will be necessary if there is to be any chance that the mostly teetotaling Legislature might keep up with increasing demand for liquor stores and liquor licenses.
Reservations about downtown hotel • Not that $25,000 is all that much money in the grand scheme of things. It is still more than the Salt Lake County Council, or the Salt Lake City Council, should each be putting into a study of whether the downtown area around the Salt Palace Convention Center area needs a giant new headquarters hotel for conventions. If the private sector is ready to create such a business, that would be wonderful. The entrepreneurs could then approach local government with a plan and with any requests they might have for help with streets, sidewalks, parking facilities or other normally public infrastructure. The study that the city and county are launching, prodded by the Downtown Alliance, has the cart before the horse. This should not be a government-driven project. Private developers should take the first step.