When Gov. Gary Herbert went into LDS Hospital last week for surgery to remove kidney stones, he got a surprise.
The anesthesiologist wound up being none other than Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and one of Herbert’s most ardent critics over the state’s environmental policies.
“When I greeted him, he was clearly taken aback that it was me,” Moench said. “But we quickly dispensed with the tension and ended up talking about air pollution and President Trump prior to his surgery.”
Still, Moench had a little fun with his patient.
“Later that night, before I signed off on releasing him from the hospital, I told him that I had given him a special kind of anesthesia, and that tomorrow morning he would wake up to find himself shocked at how passionate he was about clean air and would be asking to join our group.”
The only problem with the jest was that it made Herbert laugh, not a pleasant thing to do right after surgery.
But Moench had this observation about Utah’s governor:
“In sharp contrast to the nation’s current chief executive, our state’s chief executive did not feel the need to exaggerate his height, did not claim to be the healthiest, most intelligent, best looking, most amazing athlete of all the 50 governors. Nor did he claim to be passing the best kidney stones ever. I found that refreshing.”
A not-so-pleasing court • One of the 36 jurors who received a summons for failing to show up for jury duty in Summit County feels like she was victimized twice — once by a vicious assault years ago and then by the courts.
Clerical errors and misunderstandings were blamed for some of the no-shows when those receiving the summons appeared Thursday before 3rd District Judge Kent Holmberg. Another judge had declared a mistrial in the case of three men accused of gang-raping a 9-year-old girl because of the small juror pool and had ordered the no-shows to come to court and explain their absences.
After the explanations, Holmberg excused most of the jurors without penalty but ordered community service for eight of them.
For the woman who feels twice victimized, though, the process was especially personal.
Now in her 70s, the Park City woman had been brutally tied up, gagged and raped at knifepoint many years ago — an ordeal that left deep emotional scars.
When she received the letter ordering her to jury duty in December, she filled out the questionnaire with care. One question was whether she had been the victim of a crime.
“I answered that question truthfully and, in answer to the question as to whether I would be biased, indicated that, yes, I would indeed be biased in this particular case,” she says. “There was no mention of having to appear on 12 December. I interpreted the letter and form as telling me I would either be excused — which I expected — or called to serve.”
When she didn’t hear back from the court, she assumed she had been excused because of her experience.
“To verify that,” she said, “I showed the mailing to two lawyers, one of whom is my husband.”
She then got the notice from the Summit County sheriff making her feel like a criminal.
Geoff Fattah, state court spokesman, said the woman should have appeared on the designated date, and she would have been excused. But he acknowledged that there might be room for better communication with potential jurors.
More GOP troubles • While most Republicans never have to worry about losing an election in Utah, the party’s infrastructure seems to be imploding.
After critics scolded the state GOP’s Central Committee for passing a resolution they say was aimed at getting rid of the Black Republican Assembly, Dave Bateman, the donor who pledged more than $400,000 to help the party pay for its lawsuit against the state’s candidate-nominating law, posted a video on a GOP Facebook page of a shirtless black man walking in a clownish manner while holding his ankles.
When party officials challenged Bateman over that post, he said it was a joke intended for a particular individual and the contortionist was representing that individual’s “mental gymnastics.” The contortionist, he added, just happened to be black.
But the timing was interesting.