Niece: Family won't take in Elizabeth Smart's kidnapper

Elizabeth Smart receives a hug before speaking at a news conference Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Salt Lake City. Smart says it appears there is no viable, legal recourse she can take to stop the release of one of her kidnappers. Smart said that she only found out about 72-year-old Wanda Barzee's release shortly before the public did. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

By the Standard-Examiner

editorial board

Thumbs up & down: While it’s unfortunate that it’s taken as severe declines as Utah has seen, at least the governor and state are now paying attention to the problem of our teacher shortage. On Wednesday Gov. Herbert held a press conference with Envision Utah at the state Capitol to discuss ways to retain current teachers and recruit new professionals. Nearly 45 percent of teachers leave their classrooms after five years of teaching, Herbert said. That number increases after eight years to include at least half of teachers. It’s a complicated issue that includes pay, access to resources, needed improvements to teachers’ support system and stress. It will require more than just a questionnaire (www.returntoteaching.org) asking what it would take to get teachers to come back, but it is at least some form of action, however small.

Thumbs down: While new technology is definitely fun to play with, a new Apple iPhone costing $1,100 that will hardly last one to two years is ridiculous to the average American. As reported, by making more expensive phones, Apple has been able to boost its profits despite demand actually waning as people upgrade phones less frequently. This news comes at the same time income inequality worsens across the country with the wealthiest enjoying even larger pay increases. It was reported that income growth was strongest for the richest 5 percent of households, rising 3 percent to $237,034. For the poorest one-fifth of the population, incomes rose just 0.5 percent.

Thumbs down: Box Elder County is among five other counties throughout Utah that have declared states of emergency due to “exceptional drought.” Utah must do more to be water conscious amid such dire conditions.

Thumbs up: All who are excited construction on 12th Street and Washington Boulevard in Ogden is wrapped, raise your hand. We concur.

Thumbs down: Our hearts are with the thousands of fellow Utahns currently evacuated from their homes due to the largest active fire blazing in the nation. We also hope for the safety of those on the east coast facing the effects of Hurricane Florence. However, amid these natural disasters there has been an outpouring of generosity and help that we hope to see continue.

Thumbs down: The state of Utah was captivated less than two decades ago when Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped out of her Salt Lake City home. This week it was reported that one of her captors, Wanda Barzee, is expected to be released next week after 15 years in custody after a mix-up previously scheduled her to be released in 2024. According to the Associated Press, attorney Scott Williams has said Barzee has been diagnosed with several mental illnesses, but he’s not concerned about her being a danger to the community. Smart respectfully disagreed in a press conference Thursday. “She is a woman who had six children yet could co-conspire to kidnap a 14-year-old girl, and not only sit next to her while being raped but encourage her husband to continue to rape me,” Smart said. “So do I believe she’s dangerous? Yes.” Despite the mix-up, authorities should have alerted Smart sooner in the form of a warning about Barzee’s impending release. Doing otherwise just comes off as haphazard.

Thumbs up: We believe Weber County residents deserve a say in whether the county should pursue a study looking into the current form of government and if it is the most effective. We are not the only county in the state with the same three-person commission debating the changes. While it is a while out, the commissioners’ resolution approved Tuesday will allow the question to be put to the people on the Nov. 5, 2019 ballot.

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