Who deserves praise and criticism this week in Northern Utah?

Monday , December 04, 2017 - 4:30 AM2 comments

Standard-Examiner Editorial Board

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 former Utah Supreme Court Justice Christine Durham for her service on the bench and blazing a trail for Utah women.

Appointed in 1982, she was the first woman to sit on the state’s Supreme Court and she became the first woman to head up the state’s judiciary as chief justice of the Utah Supreme Court in 2002. She retired last week. 

Without contributions from Durham, many women in the Utah legal and judicial system would not be where they are today. The Salt Lake Tribune noted in August that women judges hold a majority on the Utah Court of Appeals for the first time.

But there is still plenty of work to do. According to facts provided by the Utah State Courts to the Salt Lake Tribune, men on the bench still outnumber women 151 to 48, including a 68-to-17 ratio in justice courts and a 59-to-12 ratio in district courts.

THUMBS DOWN: To school board members and the recently formed Ogden Education group for so far failing to come to the table after the failure of the bond initiative.

It’s fair to say the bond initiative was poorly communicated and voters should not be compelled to give the district a blank check. But here we are, almost a month after the vote, and the reality is that these schools still need more funding and a plan to renovate or rebuild the oldest buildings.

The Ogden Board of Education needs to get back to the drawing board, even if the loss on Nov. 7 still stings. And their critics now have a responsibility to contribute to the solution, too.

Ogden Education sent very clear messages about what it didn’t want and voter data shows the precincts around Polk carried the “no” vote, while precincts around T.O. Smith and Horace Mann were in favor of the bond.

Ogden Education did a great job of communicating what it didn’t like but now it’s fair to call on it to help figure out how to maintain the Polk building and improve it for students. It’s not acceptable to have kids learning under a leaky roof, without wheelchair accessibility.

THUMBS UP: To Jim and Linda Crismer of Fruit Heights for stepping up to adopt Mazzie, a 7-year-old retired contracted war dog. The German shepherd was raised and used as a drug-sniffing K9 at the Kuwait Airport.

Once they’re too old to work, many are abandoned or abused. Such seemed to be the case with Mazzie.

The Crismers have worked hard to give the dog a better life and overcoming his anxieties hasn’t been easy. But take a look at Mazzie playing in his first snow and it’s clear Jim and Linda are doing things right.

In return, the dog has made a special connection with other veterans, earning an honorary title with the Utah chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

“They’re a veteran, they just happen to walk on four legs instead of two,” Dennis Howland, a Vietnam Veteran and pal of Mazzie’s, said. “Biggest thing we can do is love them and care for them and bring them home.”

THUMBS DOWN: To the Utah State Board of Education for not employing a universal reporting system for unsafe school incidents committed by students.

Annual reports released by the state show just a handful of incidents involving drugs, bullying and assault in Weber and Ogden districts. But looking at the data the districts maintain, it’s clear there’s an alarming disparity — only eight incidents were reported by the state in Ogden’s district, for example, while the district officials recorded more than 1,500.

It’s important to be able to track trends on a school-by-school and statewide basis, especially when it comes to safety. Parents and educators should be looking at bullying, violence and drug use reports as key indicators of social and behavioral trends, and to measure if their preventative tactics are working.

Legislators and educators should invest in making these reports accurate and useful.

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