Good idea gone bad • Gov. Gary Herbert's new Utah Clean Air Partnership is gathering a heavy cloud of secrecy and possibly nefarious relationships that can't help the Beehive State's unhealthy air quality. The original idea was to bring people with different perspectives together to brainstorm about how to clean up the air, mostly by voluntarily reducing industrial and tailpipe emissions. Herbert said the discussion would involve ordinary Utahns, as well as government leaders, advocacy groups and representatives of industry. But somehow the group has evolved into a nonprofit group, led by the heads of state agencies, seeking donations to support its work, sometimes from the very businesses that are the biggest contributors to pollution in the Salt Lake Valley. That seems wrong. Attorney David Irvine of Utahns for Ethical Government is rightly concerned about potential conflicts of interest and lack of transparency in a nonprofit. Irvine is correct in saying that people with "a regulatory or policy responsibility on the same issues" should not be serving on the board. The governor had a good idea, but he needs to bring the committee back to its original framework and mission.
A workable system • Utah's Sen. Orrin Hatch is doing the right thing in saying he will vote for an immigration-reform bill pending in the U.S. Senate. Unlike the inflexible ideologue Sen. Mike Lee, Hatch is taking a statesman's approach to this critical legislation. He understands the immigration system is broken and that only compromise can fix it. By dropping his demand that the bill require unauthorized immigrants to pay back taxes, Hatch is recognizing the reality of the burden under which 11 million people live. The senior senator explained in an op-ed column published Tuesday in The Tribune that while the bill isn't perfect, its focus on border security should help break the waves of illegal immigration and provide unauthorized immigrants already in the United States a path to citizenship. The bill as it stands requires an immigrant to pay a fine, pass background checks, stay current on taxes and wait at least 10 years to get a green card, and it beefs up the Border Patrol. As Hatch rightly noted, "That's hardly amnesty."