Short takes on the news
Principle over party • It is not often that division among members of Congress breaks down along any line other than just the political party they belong to. But sometimes, it happens. And it is happening now as members of the House and Senate react to the revelations about the extent to which the National Security Agency has been gathering data on the telephone records and Internet use of millions of Americans. This list of those whose reaction ranges from concerned to angry includes both Republicans, such as Utah's Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Jason Chaffetz; Democrats, including Oregon's Sen. Ron Wyden and Colorado's Rep. Jared Polis; and one independent and self-described socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. On the other hand, Utah's other senator, Republican Orrin Hatch, has passed up a golden opportunity to bash the Democratic Obama administration and taken a stand in support of the surveillance operations. The NSA revelations are frightening and deserve a hard look from Congress. It is thus good news that such oversight might be forthcoming, and from members of both parties.
Drowning in neglect • The University of Utah Athletic Department was clearly negligent in the matter of its former swim coach, Greg Winslow, according to the results of an investigation the U. called on itself. The report, released last week, concluded that Winslow was an abusive thug who terrorized the very student athletes he was supposed to be molding. And it concluded that Winslow's behavior, specifically a bar fight with one of his own assistants, was reason enough to sack him as far back as July 2011. The former coach's alcohol abuse problem should not have been missed or ignored by the university, specifically by Athletic Director Chris Hill, and allowed to go on as long as it did. U. President David Pershing has decided not to fire or otherwise discipline Hill, but he is directing some overdue changes in how the athletic department does business. They include rules of conduct for coaches and an order that such conduct be overseen by the department. It's about time.
Poor left behind, again • Advocates for Utah's poorest families are rightly outraged that the eternal budget gridlock in Washington has led to a looming decline in the number of Section 8 vouchers that help low-income families find decent housing. The so-called sequester seems to have become the new normal for politicians and pundits. But, out in the real world, real people are being hurt.