Welcome home, Tim DeChristopher • Utah's best-known political prisoner is a significant step closer to freedom. Tim DeChristopher, pronounced a felon for bidding on federal oil leases he couldn't pay for in a 2008 auction, was sent to prison for two years by Federal District Judge Dee Benson. The prosecution was absurd overkill for a trivial prank and the sentence was a travesty of justice. DeChristopher, who only wanted to call attention to what he thought were acts that would damage the Utah environment, caused no major harm to anyone. And Benson made no bones about the fact that the prison term, as opposed to the probation that would have been appropriate for a first-time, nonviolent offender, was not for the act itself, but to punish DeChristopher for continuing to speak out against federal policy. The other day, DeChristopher was released from prison and moved to a halfway house in Salt Lake City. If his good behavior continues, which was never much of a question, he could be freed from this unwarranted federal custody in April. About time.
Not going (back) to the hospital • It costs everyone, from individuals to Medicare, enough money to send people to the hospital. It costs even more to send them back when they didn't get well properly after a previous visit. But new figures reported by Kaiser Health News show that Utah is the second-best state in the nation for avoiding costly, and often painful, instances of readmission. Idaho is the best. Experts note that Utah hospitals seem to do a good job of laying out exactly what patients should do when they go home from the hospital. And Utah patients, many of them obedient sorts with lots of family support, are good at doing it. People are watching numbers like this because a low level of readmissions indicates a high level of care. And because Medicare is going to start penalizing hospitals financially if they have unacceptably high readmission rates. It's all part of an approach designed to reward health care providers for providing, well, health, and not just more procedures.
A ride to the polls • Two Salt Lake City taxi operators are offering free rides to the polls this election season. Utah Eagle Transport (801-982-1010) and Grillos Transport (801-973-8080) have been hauling folks to early voting sites since Tuesday, and will do so again on Election Day, Nov. 6. Eagle Transport owner Raul Ramirez told The Tribune he'll more than make up in a democratic society what he loses in fares. It's the kind of public-spirited business that every community needs more of.