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Foster kids, like the feds and environmentalists, can’t buy a break in Blanding

Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune Staff photos of the Salt Lake Tribune staff. Paul Rolly.

Blanding has been the epicenter of anti-Bears Ears National Monument sentiment and a hotbed for vitriol against environmentalists and the federal government promoting public land protections.

A common refrain from that San Juan County community is that “outsiders” are ruining their lives and preventing them from getting good jobs.

Now, unlike its southeastern Utah neighbors of Monticello and Moab, the Blanding City Council has denied a request to allow families taking in foster children to include those kids on their annual passes to use the city’s public swimming pool.

Can’t be giving handouts to foster kids without giving the same benefit to everybody else. That would be giving unfair special treatment to a certain class, the City Council surmised in a public hearing last month.

There are about 40 foster children needing home placements in the Blanding area on any given day, according to a story in the San Juan Record about the council’s denial of the request.

About eight families regularly house foster children.

Residents can buy an annual family pass that covers the parents and two children. Families must pay $50 a year for any additional child to use the pool.

Foster family advocates had requested a waiver for foster kids, so they could be added to the pass at no extra cost.

But that would be a government handout, according to most council members. The proposal fell short, with the two women on the council voting for it and the three men siding against it.

For the record, San Juan County residents received $54.9 million in federal farm subsidies between 1995 and 2014, according to the Farm Subsidy Database. In Blanding, 114 individuals and businesses received farm subsidies.

The equality state? The recently publicized proposal to replace the statue of early television pioneer Philo T. Farnsworth with one depicting the nation’s first state senator, Martha Hughes Cannon, at the U.S. Capitol has an interesting twist.

It’s the timing of the idea.

Farnsworth has been at the Capitol as one of Utah’s allotted two statues, along with Brigham Young, since 1990.

But now, all of a sudden, we need the change.

Rep. Adam Gardiner, R-West Jordan, told The Salt Lake Tribune last week that Farnsworth is too obscure, noting that when his former boss, Congressman Rob Bishop, would take tours through the Capitol and come across the inventor’s statue, he would scoff that it is a man holding a sausage.

Actually, as was pointed out in a Tribune op-ed by my former University of Utah journalism professor Don Gale, Farnsworth is holding a representation of an “image dissector tube,” the first device to translate images into electronic signals.

Bishop, as the old prof noted, has missed great opportunities to tell visitors about Utah’s contribution to the invention of the TV.

So, now there is a push to replace Farnsworth with a woman — a notable woman, by the way.

But why now?

Utah has been shamed recently in stories about its low grades when it comes to giving women equal opportunities. The Beehive State has been called out for having one of the largest wage gaps between men and women in the country. And its female representation in elective offices is one of the nation’s lowest.

As has been pointed out, Utah’s six-member congressional delegation includes one woman, the five statewide elected officials are all men and there are just 20 women in the 104-member Utah Legislature.

But, hey, if Cannon joins Young as the second Utah statue in the nation’s Capitol, Bishop can tell his visitors that Utah has an equal representation of men and women — at least among dead people.

Idling away at the U • I wrote recently about the frustration of Jim Webster, who lives near the University of Utah, when he saw up to 40 buses idling their diesel engines for hours at the tailgate parking lot near the football stadium during a three-day conference on campus.

Well, he’s frustrated again.

He was strolling along Guardsman Way last week, when he noticed four chartered buses idling their engines behind the U.’s indoor football facility. One of the drivers told him they were waiting for the team to finish practice before taking the players to a dinner and movie with the coaches.

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