Who deserves praise and criticism this week in Northern Utah?

Monday , July 10, 2017 - 5:15 AM1 comment


The Standard-Examiner Editorial Board hashes out the positions we take on the Opinion page. Here’s what members recommended last week for praise and criticism.

THUMBS UP: To cracking down on distracted driving. 

Utah Highway Patrol started an experimental program about a month ago, putting troopers in large, black passenger vans to scout for texting or otherwise distracted drivers, according to reporting by the Salt Lake Tribune. They spot the offenders, then alert troopers up the highway so they can make a traffic stop

Distracted driving — texting, fiddling with a radio, whatever the case may be — was the direct cause of 19 crashes that killed 21 people in Utah during 2016, according to the Utah Highway Safety Office. 

It causes countless other less serious crashes. It’s hard to patrol for, but it’s clear that enforcement must be more aggressive, even if it means officers have to get a little bit creative. 

And drivers need to do their part too and keep their phones down while behind the wheel. 

THUMBS DOWN: To a Salt Lake City anti-panhandling campaign.

Billboards going up this week will bear sayings like “Support panhandlers, and you support alcoholism.” They’re intended to convey a complex message but instead criminalize the needy. 

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski is likely right when she says giving money to a panhandler might help feed an addiction for another day. The Salt Lake City Downtown Alliance is right when it says, instead of handing out loose change, donating to a homeless service provider or volunteering would be better. 

But instead of advertising to help by giving in a different way, the signs instead say “ignore the need in front of you” and “it’s their fault.”

As panhandling is an issue throughout Northern Utah as well, it’s important to remember to actually help the needy escape a desperate situation and not get bogged down in the blame game. 

THUMBS UP: To the city of Ogden for taking a different approach to addressing upgrades in an Adams Avenue neighborhood. 

The “Adams Survey Area” includes 20th and 28th streets, from Washington Boulevard to Jefferson Avenue. The city is proposing designating the area as a “Community Reinvestment Area” in order to siphon tax dollars into improving development in the neighborhood. 

Last year, the city began a similar effort in a smaller but similar area of the city. Their proposed “Urban Renewal Area” included eminent domain. It was hotly protested by residents, who made it clear the chance of the city taking over property was not something they would bargain with.

The city listened — the CRA doesn’t include the possibility of eminent domain — without giving up on the area altogether. The neighborhood has many great homes and people, but with the empty former Dee Elementary School building and other outdated structures, it needs a boost. 

The city is doing the right thing by taking another run at it by using a different tool.

THUMBS DOWN: to those who blamed a good Samaritan for getting attacked in Parley’s Canyon. 

A woman saw what appeared to be a man stranded on the side of Interstate 80 late at night last week. When she stopped to offer help, he viciously attacked her. She got away with her life, but the man is still on the loose, prompting law enforcement to alert the media. 

Under a Facebook post by the Standard-Examiner, commenters said things like, “Why would she stop at that time of night to help a stranger? That is just asking for trouble.”

The number of readers who held the same opinion — and unhelpfully voiced it in the comments — was shameful. 

She was trying to do the right thing. She is not to blame for what happened to her. The attacker is. End of story.

Instead of focusing on criticizing her actions, contribute to helping police find the perpetrator. 

And here’s another idea: get off Facebook and go commit a random act of kindness instead.

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