Dear Gov. Herbert (aka Available Jones),

Having lived in Utah my entire life, I never really thought we would ever be No. 1 in anything.

We Utahns have languished in the high 40s in this country for many years now. We have been among the lowest in education funding, health and human services for the needy and poor, housing for the needy and poor, living wages for everyone except the “upper crust” (you know the ones, Available Jones’ buddies), the right to organize and join free and fair labor unions and a whole host of other services and privileges for lower income and less fortunate residents of our state.

We have watched as our elected officials, including you, ignored the voices of the public, changed the rules to make it more difficult for residents to have a voice in their governance and, when they managed to break through the laborious restrictions, obtain enough signatures, and prevail on ballot measures you (our elected officials) change or completely do away with them.

And now, because of your timid response and inaction at a pandemic that has been raging in this world for almost a year now, congratulations. Because of you and others with your political mindset, Utah is finally No. 1 in the nation.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, “With 11 new deaths, Tuesday (Nov. 10) also marked the end of the virus’s deadliest 14-day stretch since the pandemic began; more than 90 Utahns have died from COVID-19 in the past two weeks. Utah’s death toll from the coronavirus stood at 62 on Tuesday, with 11 fatalities reported since Monday (Nov. 9).”

So, as you wait out your final days as governor of Utah and get ready to waltz out the door with your lifetime state-paid-for health insurance, state-paid-for retirement and a sizable campaign slush fund to carry you through those tough retirement years, your legacy will be split into two separate sections.

The first section includes timid inaction, little decisive leadership, ducking and dodging, photo ops and ignoring the needs of Utahns who needed it the most.

The second will include favoring “dirty” industries and their owners, ignoring increasing climate issues, hobnobbing with your wealthy friends, no-bid state contracts being awarded to your cronies, figuring out where you could get the most money for your favors and all those tiresome fundraisers.

Finally, now that you have ensconced your hand-picked successor as the next governor, we can only hope that he will offer a change in the way Utah views its residents and those things that are important to them, and not just a different “For Sale” sign on the door.

Enjoy your retirement. I know I will.

Steve Booth

Steve Booth, Bountiful, is a retired certified pharmacy technician, former president/business agent for the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 382, former vice president of the Utah AFL-CIO.