By the Standard-Examiner Editorial Board
Who deserves praise, criticism in Northern Utah this week?
THUMBS DOWN: This week we learned from experts in Utah about timber sales and whether or not this industry is underutilized in reducing the tinder for Utah’s wildfires.
According to Standard-Examiner reporting, big spruces and pine that loggers like are only one part of Utah’s wildfire problem. Wildfires are often fueled by overgrown shrubs and small-diameter trees and have little value to loggers. Pinyon and juniper trees also pose a problem as they grow fast, gobble up sagebrush habitat and burn like torches during dry summers. They don’t carry a lot of value for traditional sawmills, but, Dave Whittekiend, supervisor of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache-National Forest, has said, entrepreneurs are cooking up new ideas for the trees like turning them into fence posts or extracting essential oils from them.
In light of this information, we think it’s irresponsible for U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney to repeatedly calling for “substantially more and consistent logging” as one of his main strategies to prevent wildfires in the state. “That’s reducing fuel load,” Romney was reported as saying in an August roundtable. “That means thinning forests, being able to establish ... contracts with sawmills and so forth. We’ve lost sawmills because they don’t have a reliable supply of timber.”
Shame on politicians like Romney for posing unrealistic solutions they know nothing about in effort to capitalize on recent natural disasters in the state that have affected thousands of families, to capture a couple extra votes.
THUMBS UP: While we’re not in support of undermining voters’ work to obtain enough signatures to get Proposition 2 on the ballot in November, Utah did seem to be able to bring varying parties together to compromise on medical marijuana legislation should Proposition 2 fail on Nov. 6.
It’s no surprise that the LDS Church holds significant political influence, and otherwise, in Utah. It’s recent public statement supporting the use of medical marijuana — if prescribed by a doctor and dispensed by a pharmacy — spurred this collaboration this week that previously has not been successful. For years, the Utah Legislature proposed bill after bill that failed, and left voters frustrated for medical solutions.
The Associated Press reported that Gov. Gary Herbert said he’ll call lawmakers into a special session after the midterm election to pass the compromise into law regardless of how the initiative fares. If it passes, it will be revised under the terms of the deal. It if fails, the Legislature would consider a law under the new framework.
It’s time Utah residents struggling under the burden of pain and disease are able to get medical relief that is not impeded by our lawmakers.
THUMBS UP: Utah marked the one-year anniversary of the return of Project Safe Neighborhoods, and the 8 percent decrease in violent crime the state has seen in the last year. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was on hand at the Utah Capitol to mark the success, which included Ogden and its police department. Officials announced that Weber County will receive $260,000 from the federal government to keep up Project Safe Neighborhood efforts. Ogden Police Chief Randy Watt was thanked for his efforts in our community.
THUMBS DOWN: One of the more eye-rolling measures the Utah Legislature has managed to pass (and simultaneously waste Utahns’ time) was discussed this week: new rules restricting stores to only two beer displays — because one or two more signs will make Utah’s already weak beer apparently too attractive and confusing.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that lawmakers apparently restricted the display rules so as to prevent confusion between nonalcoholic beverages, flavored beers and hard ciders — because they all supposedly look too similar and Americans cannot read to tell the difference. Stores have to submit floor plans of where beer will be sold and stored and be required to post more signs in specific font sizes at all beer displays warning customers that it has alcohol — in case they were completely oblivious that Bud Light is indeed not soda.
Next thing you know, stores will be forced to post signs saying “THIS IS AN ALCOHOL-SELLING GROCERY STORE, NOT A BAR”.