This Week in Utah

Call it the winter blahs or January doldrums, but I must say here it is Friday and I’m just now writing a blog posting.  Not much happened  recently except sad, scary, or unfortunate news.  I thought it might be a downer if I shared those incidents, but not much else came along to save me from writing about them, so here goes.

Last week in the Jensen Nature Park right here in Syracuse a 13 year-old boy and his younger friend were playing out on the ice on the small lake.  (We know this park well, as we take Charlie there for walks.)  We’ve had a few warmish days recently, so they were risking a disaster on unstable ice and it happened.  The older boy fell through the ice and was rescued by an off-duty police office who happened to be jogging on the trails.  A few other folks pitched in to assist and there was a happy ending to the dunking in the icy water.  The boy was wet and cold and learned a valuable lesson, I hope.  His rescuer was also cold and wet, but earned the title of hero.

And just yesterday a police officer who stopped to assist a car parked along the Interstate, was shot and killed by some deranged man who sped off and who, in another county, shot and critically wounded yet another police officer.  Both gunshots were head wounds.  After a high-speed chase through a total of 4 counties, the suspect was shot himself and wounded.  This was on I-15, south of us about 2 hours away.  It’s really sad as the officer who was killed left a wife and 5 children.  So, Utah will have another police funeral to plan.  The injured officer was taken to emergency surgery and, though in critical condition, is expected to make a full recovery.

The unfortunate news actually made the national news and it’s embarrassing; sort of a “what were they thinking?” situation.  In a local elementary school, there was a snafu in notifying parents that their child’s lunch account was in arrears.  The kids, about 30 of them, weren’t aware of this and got through the lunch line with their trays to the cashier.  They were met at that point by a district lunchroom supervisor who promptly confiscated their food trays, dumped them in the trash–in front of the kids!–and substituted a piece of fruit and a carton of milk.  The kids were upset and crying and the adults unrepentant.  Later, the parents complained to the school principal as they were outraged.  The lunch supervisors have now been put on administrative leave and policies will be reviewed.  What a mess!

Let’s hope February is a nicer month and that the groundhog is wrong if he sees his shadow.  I’m done with winter as is the rest of the nation!  Am praying for a terror-free Olympics….

Published in: on January 31, 2014 at 6:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sundance In Full Swing

imagesCA84CXO8

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival out here in Utah has been in full swing since last January 16 and runs to the 26th, but the real action was the first weekend when most of the stars were strutting their stuff in Park City.

Robert Redford

Robert Redford

Showcasing  indy films, the festival has been around for a long time and really got traction when Robert Redford got behind it to save the festival.  It was Redford who said, “Let’s hold it in the middle of winter and in the middle of nowhere–Utah–and see what happens.”  It’s been an unqualified success and a lot of mainstream movies have gotten their legs there; one comes to mind: Three Weddings and  Funeral, but there have been others.

Venues to screen the films used to be solely in Park City, a popular ski resort, but have now expanded to other near-by cities like Salt Lake City and even Ogden.  Park City, a former mining community during the silver days went dormant once the silver veins ran out, but then skiing became popular and Park City reinvented itself.  It was a sleepy town, but skiing, and the boutiques, restaurants, and breweries that followed, along with the add-on of the film festival has made it a popular resort, all year round.

Main Street, Park City, Utah

Main Street, Park City, Utah

In fact, in a really unique way, one of the ski runs ends right behind the shops and buildings.  Convenient, huh?

On the opening weekend of Sundance, the stars jet in to Salt Lake City in their private jets and limo the hour trip to Park City.  There the media await them, along with fans eager for photo ops and autographs, catered parties, and screenings of the films they were in or helped produce.  It’s a big deal out here, as it brings in tourists and loads of money for the local economy.

The historic Egyptian Thearer

The historic Egyptian Theater

Tickets go on sale early and are getting to be scare as hen’s teeth.  For the more talked-about films tickets are really hard to get.

All the local TV stations trip over each other to snag interviews with stars and the best interview is one with the elusive Redford.

Now that the Festival is winding down for this year, it’s basically ignored and the TV stations have moved onto bridal fairs, outdoor sports equipment expos, and, this year, pre-Olympic coverage.  And as you all know, there’s plenty to talk about!  Besides the security concerns, the members of the first women’s ski jumping team to compete in the Olympics are all from Park City.  Another claim to fame.

Exit Hollywood; enter Sochi!

Published in: on January 23, 2014 at 8:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Shocking Headline in Today’s Paper

This sort of incident doesn’t happen in towns like quiet Syracuse.  It usually happens elsewhere, in rougher communities like West Valley City or Taylorsville.  I had heard a breaking TV report on the late news last night, but there weren’t any details.  But there it was, the lead headline in the morning Standard-Examiner: “3 found dead in Syracuse home.”

It seems it was some sort of domestic argument that had spilled over from yesterday when police were called to the home.  A woman owned the home–and it’s close-by to us, around the area of Ethan’s elementary school, which is only about 4 blocks away.  She lived there with her fiancé who was apparently moving out after a break-up and had a do-it-yourself moving van in the driveway.  Other neighbors said he looked agitated and distraught.  Not many other facts are known, but the police say there’s no danger to the neighbors and they are not looking for a suspect or have someone in custody.  The morning news is just coming on and there’s now more information, hot off the wires:  The victims are the mother and her 2 daughters, aged 13 and 7.  The police are calling it a murder-suicide.  The police have spoken with the fiancé and it sounds like he’s not a suspect.  Does that mean the mother shot her daughters and then killed herself?  Yikes!  That’s so sad.

Talking about news updates, as you are probably aware, the US Supreme Court has put on hold any more same-sex marriages in Utah until the case can be heard and a similar situation has now happened in Oklahoma.  Back in Utah, following the Supreme Court’s stay, our governor, Gary Herbert, personally made a decision to invalidate all marriages that took place while the law was overturned for the few days around Christmas.  The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals told him he couldn’t do that, so now those couples who tied the knot truly are in limbo: are their marriages valid or not?  What about benefits, taxes, and property?  It’s a mess.  There’s also a petition signed by 10s of thousands of people that has been presented to the governor protesting the use of $2 million dollars of state taxpayer’s money to fight same-sex marriages in court.  Our schools are in desperate need of money (as always) and in the winter, weather inversions trap polluted air in the Salt Lake Valley and the money could be earmarked for that clean-up, too.   People are up in arms over this and informal polls now show a majority of Utahns are no longer against same-sex marriages.

As I said before, this could get interesting, so brace yourselves.

Published in: on January 15, 2014 at 6:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Same-Sex Marriage Situation in Utah

[Disclaimer: this is my take on the situation as I understand it.  Just sharing.]

As you are probably already aware of (you’ve been under a rock somewhere), just prior to Christmas, a district judge struck down an article in Utah’s state constitution limiting marriage in Utah to between a man and a woman as being unconstitutional.  There was a run on the county clerks’ offices and a lot of marriages were held in hallways to take advantage of what might be a narrow window of time.

Of course, the ruling was appealed and subsequently upheld.  Then it was appealed to the US Supreme Court where it was put on hold.  So the marriages have ceased for the moment and even the recent marriages are now in legal limbo (not my word; it’s Utah’s new Attorney’s General term).

The original overturning of the article was a real shock and most Utahns–who happen to be LDS–were mortified.  And this in the state where polygamy was once legal and it is still practiced, not so quietly.  The way polygamous families get around it is this: there’s one wife who actually has a state marriage license and the other(s) are spiritual wives.  So it’s actually group living.  Polygamy “officially” ended in 1896 as a trade-off to get statehood.  The church prophet/president at the time had a “revelation” from God that polygamy would now be outlawed.  Talk about people in glass houses throwing stones!

Now that the state has its stay, Gov. Herbert is hell bent to spend upwards of 2 million dollars of tax-payer money to hire an outside legal firm to win this case and return the article back to being valid in the constitution.  I’m unsure as to why they want to hire an out-of-state legal firm, but a good guess would be to remove the possibility that the church has its interests in the outcome, but you can bet it does.

In fact, whenever the TV news reports covered this story, from the start in December up until last evening, the reporters–who are supposed to maintain neutrality–could hardly mask their horror at the marriages and absolutely gloated when the stay order came down from the Supreme Court.  It was fascinating to watch.  The most blatant coverage was on our ABC affiliate, which was a surprise to me.  I would have predicted KSL, which is owned by the LDS church.  (Yes, the church is wealthy and has a for-profit side.  Besides most of the property in downtown Salt Lake City, the church owns the KSL TV/radio station, Deseret Publishing and Bookstores, Seagull Discount Bookstores, the Deseret News [chief competition for the Salt Lake Tribune], the City Creek Mall, Ancestry.com, controlling interests in the Marriott Hotel chain, Burger King, the list goes on…). In other words, the church has a lot of clout.

It will be interesting to see where this goes.  Will Utah, of all places, be the state that brings the challenge to the US Supreme Court so this is decided once and for all?  Keep your eyes to the west and watch the news.

Published in: on January 8, 2014 at 6:32 pm  Leave a Comment