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The Salt Lake Tribune News Feed

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    Washington • The president, who might not be fully acquainted with the pertinent Supreme Court case law, says the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel was unconstitutional. The president’s opinion, because it is his, is prima facie evidence for the opposite conclusion. It is, however, not sufficient evidence. Consider the debate between two serious people who have immersed themselves in the history of the Appointments Clause, which says:

    ”[The president] shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.”

    The debate turns on the distinction the Supreme Court has drawn between “inferior” and “principal” officers. If Mueller is among the latter, his appointment was invalid because he was neither nominated by the president — he was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — nor confirmed by the Senate. Steven G. Calabresi, professor at Northwestern University Law School and co-founder of the Federalist Society, argues as follows:

    By “long-standing practice,” Congress and the executive branch give principal-officer status to all “important and powerful” officials, even those who have a boss who can fire them. In 1976, the Supreme Court invalidated the law that created the Federal Election Commission to be composed of two members nominated by the president, two by the speaker of the House and two by the president pro tempore of the Senate. The court held that all six must be nominated by the president as principal officers. Mueller, says Calabresi, is much more important and powerful than an FEC member. Congress has stipulated that the 93 U.S. attorneys are principal officers, and Mueller has, Calabresi says, “acted and has behaved like,” and is “much more powerful than,” any U.S. attorney. Compare, for example, Mueller’s job relative to that of the U.S. attorney for Wyoming. Mueller has “nationwide jurisdiction” and powers (e.g., to indict foreign citizens and corporations “without clearance from [the Justice Department]”) that have had “a major effect on” U.S. foreign policy, powers that “in effect and in practice” are “akin to” those exercised by an assistant attorney general, a principal officer. Mueller has been “without any real supervision” by Rosenstein, “who has treated Mueller as if he was ‘independent.’”

    Furthermore, Calabresi says Mueller cannot be an inferior officer because “Congress has not, by law vested in the attorney general, the power to appoint special counsels to investigate wrongdoing” by high officials. The Appointments Clause creates a “default rule” that all U.S. officers are principal officers and it takes an “affirmative action” — a statute — to empower the attorney general to appoint a special counsel as an inferior officer, which Congress has not passed. The 1978 law that vested in a special court the power to appoint independent counsels expired in 1999.

    Writing in vigorous rebuttal, George Conway, a New York lawyer (whose wife Kellyanne works for the president who hopes Calabresi is correct), argues that Calabresi incorrectly asserts that Mueller must be a principal officer because he does not have a supervising and directing boss. Conway says:

    Rosenstein has testified to Congress that he is “exercising my oversight responsibilities” concerning Mueller, with whom he has “ongoing discussion,” who “consults with me” about his investigation, and who has “received my permission regarding the scope of the investigation. So Mueller, like an inferior officer, has “a boss” by whom he is “directed and supervised,” and whose “orders” Mueller is “faithfully following.” No presidential power has been diminished because Mueller’s mission was defined by a regulation written within the supervising executive branch. And although U.S. attorneys are principal officers, vacancies in the 93 offices can be filled for 120 days by the attorney general without Senate involvement and then “indefinitely” by district courts. Calabresi replies: 100 senators would have conniptions were U.S. attorneys treated as inferior officers not requiring senatorial consent.

    Two intelligent lawyers disagree about this momentous matter, concerning which the Supreme Court’s nine justices might eventually be dispositive. If Mueller’s appointment is challenged, and the case gets to the court, and five justices reason as Calabresi does, Mueller’s subpoenas, indictments and other acts will be null and void.

    George F. Will | The Washington Post
    George F. Will | The Washington Post

    George F. Will writes a twice-weekly column on politics and domestic and foreign affairs. He began his column with The Washington Post in 1974, and he received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1977. //georgewill@washpost.com


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    Two of this summer’s most intriguing and controversial movies — both depicting racial tensions and class divides in Oakland, Calif. — each started with a small germ of an idea.

    “All I knew is it would take place in the world of telemarketing, and [the main character] would be in a struggle,” writer-director Boots Riley said about his absurdist comedy, “Sorry to Bother You.”

    For Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs, the writers and stars of the urban drama “Blindspotting,” the seed was a story from the headlines: the 2009 police shooting death of Oscar Grant at a Bay Area Rapid Transit station in Oakland. “[The movie] would be written by and starring Daveed and I, it would be in the Bay Area, and it would deal with a police shooting,” Casal said.

    (Annapurna Pictures via Associated Press) Lakeith Stanfield, left, and Armie Hammer in a scene from "Sorry to Bother You."
    (Annapurna Pictures via Associated Press) Lakeith Stanfield, left, and Armie Hammer in a scene from "Sorry to Bother You." (Annapurna Pictures/)

    Both movies won plaudits and distribution deals when they premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. And both movies are arriving in theaters nationwide this month: “Sorry to Bother You” debuts this Friday at the Broadway Centre Cinemas in Salt Lake City and the Megaplex Jordan Commons in Sandy, and “Blindspotting” lands in Utah theaters on July 27.

    “Anytime it feels like Oakland is having a moment, it’s a celebration,” said Casal, who noted that the two films were filming there at the same time. The economic benefit of shooting on location was “one of the big reasons we had to have ‘Blindspotting’ set in Oakland,” Casal said. “In many ways, that’s the catalyst for Boots as well.”

    It’s also a moment for thought-provoking, confrontational movies centering on African-American characters and themes. Besides the two Sundance hits, there are Spike Lee’s dark-humored crime drama “BlacKkKlansman” — which won the Grand Prix (second place) at this year’s Cannes Film Festival — hitting theaters in August, and “The Hate U Give,” an adaptation of a YA novel about a black teen (Amandla Stenberg) who witnesses the police shooting death of her best friend, arriving nationwide Oct. 19.

    Films that focus on issues like police shootings and economic differences “are hitting upon this kind of real-life situation, but from a storytelling perspective,” said Paul White, associate professor of psychology at the University of Utah.

    Where stories about African-American life once had limited audiences, White said, recent successes like “Get Out” and “Black Panther” have helped bring them into the mainstream.

    “That’s what’s causing some of the nervousness and tension” in this new crop of films, said White, who is African-American. “I think people believe they know about the police harassment and brutality, about the threat to black and brown bodies, … but I don’t think they truly get it.”

    (File photo by Taylor Jewell, Invision via Associated Press) Armie Hammer, from left, Tessa Thompson, director Boots Riley, Steven Yeun and Terry Crews pose for a portrait to promote "Sorry to Bother You"  during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in Park City.
    (File photo by Taylor Jewell, Invision via Associated Press) Armie Hammer, from left, Tessa Thompson, director Boots Riley, Steven Yeun and Terry Crews pose for a portrait to promote "Sorry to Bother You" during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in Park City. (Taylor Jewell/)

    For Riley, a rapper and the brains behind the hip-hop group The Coup, tackling big issues through satire was familiar territory. “It’s just part of my approach,” he said in a recent phone interview. “It took me a couple of [Coup] albums for me to realize they were humorous. … They’re full of humor. It’s not because I’m calculating that’s the best way. Humor is probably one of the reasons that I started understanding what I understand about the world.”

    With “Blindspotting,” it was Casal’s fiery spoken-word performances on YouTube that drew the attention of producer Jess Calder, who wanted to use that kind of heightened language in a screenplay.

    Casal teamed up with his longtime friend and collaborator Diggs, whose rapid-fire rap style has made him a star — after he played the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the original Broadway cast of “Hamilton,” winning a Tony for his efforts.

    Collaborating “makes the work stronger,” Diggs said in a phone interview. Casal agreed: “We were vibrating at a higher frequency when we worked together.”

    In both films, the notion of voice plays an important role.

    In “Sorry to Bother You,” the lead character, Cassius (played by Lakeith Stanfield), gets a job in telemarketing and soon learns that the key to success is to use his “white voice.” Riley picked “the whitest voice possible” to dub in as Cassius’ “white voice”: comedian David Cross, one of the stars of “Arrested Development.”

    The over-the-top humor wasn’t in Riley’s plan before he wrote the script. “I took the journey with Cassius,” he said. “I didn’t know it would be fantastical or absurd until I needed it to be.”

    (Lionsgate via Associated Press) Rafael Casal, right, and Daveed Diggs in a scene from "Blindspotting," in theaters on July 27.
    (Lionsgate via Associated Press) Rafael Casal, right, and Daveed Diggs in a scene from "Blindspotting," in theaters on July 27.

    Diggs’ character in “Blindspotting,” Collin, at first stays silent for his own protection. An ex-con with only a few days left on his parole, Collin one night witnesses a police officer (Ethan Embry) shoot a fleeing suspect in the back. His decision about whether to speak up about what he’s seen is complicated by his best friend, Miles (played by Casal), whose big talk has gotten Collin into trouble before and could do so again.

    Collin’s rage and heartache come together in the movie’s climax, as Diggs delivers a torrent of words — “this heightened language,” as Casal calls it — to reveal Collin’s frustrations at the death and oppression he has seen and experienced.

    White said he thinks “Blindspotting” and “Sorry to Bother You” both have a good chance of resonating with mainstream moviegoers this summer.

    “There is an audience for these stories,” he said. “These stories are more than just entertaining. I think they are very informative, if people are willing to allow themselves to learn.”


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    Keith Urban may have been raised on country music while growing up in New Zealand and Australia, but he didn’t become one of its biggest stars by divining inspiration solely from old Merle Haggard and Dolly Parton records.

    Ahead of his Friday show at USANA Amphitheatre in West Valley City, Urban told The Salt Lake Tribune that he’s currently digesting tracks from Drake’s new album, “Scorpion”; he’s obsessed with UK grime/punk/EDM duo Sleaford Mods; he loves Post Malone, whose laconic hip-hop is infused with everything from grunge to country to electric folk; and he counts himself a big fan of the “gorgeous sonic landscape” painted in “Ocean,” a one-off collaboration between Dutch DJ Martin Garrix and Texas R&B star Khalid.

    Of course, anyone who’s listened to Urban’s latest album, “Graffiti U,” likely isn’t surprised by the range of his play list.

    “This record — the phrase I sort of used while I was creating it was ‘genre-fluid.’ I think I’ve become very genre-fluid!” Urban said with a laugh. “Yeah! I’ve realized that’s what I am.”

    Indeed, “Graffiti U” opener “Coming Home” features a Haggard sample given the loop treatment; “Drop Top” is propelled by a bouncy dance beat and a Kassi Ashton vocal feature stacked on EDM synths and bass lines; and the Ed Sheeran-written “Parallel Line” could hardly have come out poppier if the Englishman had sung it himself.

    Which isn’t to say Urban doesn’t keep country at the heart of what does. Rather, he has zero interest in limiting his audio augmentations to lap steel and fiddle and banjo — even if he never eschews them altogether.

    “I don’t observe any sort of lines — that’s what it is. So there aren’t any boundaries. It’s just pure creativity,” he said. “… This is a completely expressive record, as far as there being no genre criteria, no anything criteria — just, ‘I’m gonna go in the studio and create, whatever mood I’m in, whatever I’m feeling, and not question it, not filter it.’”

    But then, that’s not really a new development for him, either.

    Urban has long dabbled with other styles. He’s cited Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham as a big influence on his own guitar playing. And he’s acknowledged the impact that listening to Madonna and Fall Out Boy nonstop had on him while he was recording his 2013 album, “Fuse.”

    But it was 2016’s “Ripcord” that most amplified his experimentation. That album featured unforced mixtures of country with club synths and rock ’n’ roll power chords, but was most notable for Urban’s collaboration with disco impresario Nile Rodgers and feature-rapper du jour Pitbull on the summer-drenched “Sun Don’t Let Me Down.”

    His rationale is simple — if you’re not moving forward, you’re never really getting anywhere.

    “I push my own center to a new place. Hopefully that’s all of us, just evolving as people. Hopefully, we can look back to 10 years previously and go, ‘Man, I’ve moved my center a long way!’ — on many issues and subjects and tastes and art and music and fashion; all of it,” Urban said. “I don’t think of it in terms of pushing anything, I think of it just in terms of not stopping it from naturally moving in other directions.”

    Sometimes even in the wrong ones.

    A big part of his musical evolution, Urban said, has been the realization that sticking to the plan is often overrated.

    “I’ve gone into the studio sometimes with a very clear idea of what I’ve wanted to do, and somewhere along the line the whole thing starts to move in some other direction, either because of who I’m collaborating with or because some accident happens, some instrument doesn’t work. And there was a time when I’d probably stop that and go, ‘No, no — that wasn’t what I intended; let’s stop there immediately,’” he said. “And what I did with this record, when those things happened, I went, ‘OK, let’s go down this road. It isn’t what I intended, but it might be something way better. I don’t know.’”

    Meanwhile, Urban is glad to take a road back to Utah. Acknowledging that it’s been two years or so since his last trip here, he said he was “looking forward to it” and “just jonesing to get out there and play.”

    Asked if he had any connections to the Beehive State aside from his longtime songwriting collaborator Monty Powell being a part-time resident, Urban burst out laughing as he invoked a “jonesing” of a completely different kind.

    “I went to rehab in Utah! Does that count?!” he said, straining to stop a sudden fit of giggles. “Yeah, that was my second attempt at all of that, in 2003 I think it was. I have, strangely enough, good memories about that. I had my demons I was trying to learn how to get through and live life a different way. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t ready back then. It didn’t take. But it was a fantastic place up there.”

    It’s got some gorgeous landscapes, too — though it’ll be up to Urban to bring those of the sonic variety on Friday night.

    Keith Urban<br>With Kelsea Ballerini<br>When • Friday; doors at 6 p.m., show at 7:30<br>Where • USANA Amphitheatre, 5150 Upper Ridge Road, West Valley City<br>Tickets • $30-$110; Smith’s Tix


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    Trailer fire near Grantsville

    A trailer carrying radioactive dirt has caught fire on westbound I-80 near Grantsville. Updates here: via.fox13now.com/FsRkS

    Posted by Fox 13 News on Thursday, July 12, 2018

    A semi-trailer hauling 82,000 pounds of radioactive waste dirt burst into flames Thursday morning on I−80 near Tooele, but no one was injured and there was “no threat to the public,” according to the North Tooele Fire District.

    The fire was reported at 7:17 a.m. on I-80 westbound at mile post 93. The driver escaped injury and the fire was extinguished.

    The tractor was destroyed, but the fire did not reach the trailer loaded with 40 containers filled with the radioactive material. After a brief shutdown, I−80 was re-opened in both directions by about 8:17 a.m.


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    Porn actress Stormy Daniels was arrested at an Ohio strip club and accused of letting patrons touch her in violation of a state law, and her attorney said Thursday she was set up in a sting operation.

    While Daniels was performing Wednesday night at Sirens, a strip club in Columbus, some patrons touched her in a “non-sexual” way, her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, told The Associated Press.

    He told MSNBC later Thursday that police had prepared a sting operation with multiple officers. He said female undercover officers asked Daniels if they could place their face between her breasts.

    "It was an absurd use of law enforcement resources," Avenatti said.

    A message left for the city attorney spokeswoman wasn't immediately returned.

    An Ohio law known as the Community Defense Act prohibits anyone who isn't a family member to touch a nude or semi-nude dancer.

    According to charging documents obtained by WSYX-TV in Columbus, Daniels, who was semi-nude, allegedly touched some of the patrons' breasts and allowed them to touch her. She allegedly performed the same act with several officers who approached the stage and forced one officer's head into her bare chest.

    She was released on bail before 6 a.m. Thursday. Court records show Daniels posted $6,000.

    In this frame from video, porn actress Stormy Daniels is led into jail in Columbus, Ohio., after being taken into custody during a Wednesday evening, July 11, 2018, show. Daniels was arrested at a strip club and is accused of letting patrons touch her in violation of a state law, her attorney said early Thursday, July 12. (WBNS via AP)
    In this frame from video, porn actress Stormy Daniels is led into jail in Columbus, Ohio., after being taken into custody during a Wednesday evening, July 11, 2018, show. Daniels was arrested at a strip club and is accused of letting patrons touch her in violation of a state law, her attorney said early Thursday, July 12. (WBNS via AP)


    Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was set for arraignment Friday on three misdemeanor counts of touching a patron at a "sexually oriented" business in violation of an Ohio strip club law.

    Avenatti said that a not guilty plea to all counts would be entered on his client's behalf on Thursday, so she wouldn't have to make a court appearance Friday.

    Avenatti posted on Twitter a statement by Daniels that said she apologized to her fans in Columbus, but she would not perform her previously scheduled Thursday night show.

    A Columbus police spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment. A person who answered the phone at the strip club declined to comment.

    Daniels has said she had sex with President Donald Trump in 2006, when he was married, which Trump has denied. She’s suing Trump and his former longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and seeking to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement that she signed days before the 2016 presidential election.

    Associated Press writers Lisa Cornwell in Cincinnati, Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus and Bob Lentz in Philadelphia contributed to this report.


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    Provo • Train bells sound from a Highland home as Jim Smeltzer cruises on railroad tracks through his driveway atop a green locomotive. Though having many bells and whistles of its own, the train is far from full size — roughly 13 percent as big as the real deal.

    Since 2004, the Smeltzers’ land surrounding their home has been a model railyard. Jim’s love of trains, however, spans much further back than that.

    “I’ve always had a love of trains,” said Jim, 84, who was born and raised in Fresno, Calif. “Back when I was a little kid, every day my grandfather would take me for a walk. It was two blocks to the train tracks, and a train came back every morning and went out every evening. He’d take me down there and we’d watch the train go by.”

    Today, Smeltzer is a trustee of Utah Live Steamers Railroad Club, a group of model-railroad enthusiasts based in Utah County. The group typically builds trains and track the same size as Jim’s, a scale of 1.6 inches to 1 foot or a ratio of 1:8 the size of a full-size train.

    ADVANCE FOR USE WITH WEEKEND EDITIONS JULY 7-8, 2018 AND THEREAFTER In this Saturday, June 16, 2018 photo, Mike Hansen, co-founder of the Utah Live Steamers Railroad Club, corrects a heat kink in a section of track during public train rides held by Utah Live Steamers at Shay Park in Saratoga Springs, Utah. Shay Park's name has to do with the history of railroads in the area. "A lot of these communities were built because of the railroad," explained Hansen. "At one point, you could get on a train here and go anywhere in the country."  (Isaac Hale/The Daily Herald via AP)
    ADVANCE FOR USE WITH WEEKEND EDITIONS JULY 7-8, 2018 AND THEREAFTER In this Saturday, June 16, 2018 photo, Mike Hansen, co-founder of the Utah Live Steamers Railroad Club, corrects a heat kink in a section of track during public train rides held by Utah Live Steamers at Shay Park in Saratoga Springs, Utah. Shay Park's name has to do with the history of railroads in the area. "A lot of these communities were built because of the railroad," explained Hansen. "At one point, you could get on a train here and go anywhere in the country." (Isaac Hale/The Daily Herald via AP) (Isaac Hale/)

    Mike Hansen, who co-founded the club in 2007, said the train-loving group was initially created with the intent of building a train park within Utah Valley.

    Hansen’s passion for locomotives also began young. “It started at the age of 5 with my parents and my brother, Jeff, riding the Heber Creeper,” he said. At age 8, he began cultivating a dream to open a train park himself. Hansen continued to fuel his love of trains through later becoming a locomotive engineer, fireman, conductor and brakeman for today’s Heber Valley Railroad.

    Upon co-founding Utah Live Steamers and beginning the search for a place to open a train park, Hansen encountered mixed interest from cities. Around that time, Saratoga Springs was in the midst of the eight-year process of creating Shay Park, a railroad-themed community park. Hansen had heard of the park and eagerly pitched his idea to the city.

    “We basically came in at the last inning,” Hansen laughed .

    Shay Park’s name has to do with the history of railroads in the area. “A lot of these communities were built because of the railroad,” Hansen said. “At one point, you could get on a train here and go anywhere in the country.”

    The Salt Lake and Western Railway, one of several area railroads settled by Mormon pioneers, once went directly through where Shay Park now stands. The sloping grade for the former railroad in the middle of the park is now a walking path with a bridge above the model-railroad tracks. Steam-powered Shay locomotives were often found running along the Salt Lake and Western Railway, hence the park’s name.

    Now visitors can ride on a train where a railway once stood — albeit a much smaller train and a much shorter ride.

    Hansen said his dream could not have come true without the efforts of sponsors, especially the Bank of American Fork, contributors, donors, club members and support of the city of Saratoga Springs, especially its mayor, City Council and employees. The model railway, however, is still in need of additional sponsors.

    ADVANCE FOR USE WITH WEEKEND EDITIONS JULY 7-8, 2018 AND THEREAFTER In this Tuesday, June 19, 2018 photo, Jim Smeltzer welds a miniature ladder which will eventually attach to the back of the caboose in his workshop at his home in Highland, Utah. Since 2004, the Smeltzers' land surrounding their home has been a model railyard.  (Isaac Hale/The Daily Herald via AP)
    ADVANCE FOR USE WITH WEEKEND EDITIONS JULY 7-8, 2018 AND THEREAFTER In this Tuesday, June 19, 2018 photo, Jim Smeltzer welds a miniature ladder which will eventually attach to the back of the caboose in his workshop at his home in Highland, Utah. Since 2004, the Smeltzers' land surrounding their home has been a model railyard. (Isaac Hale/The Daily Herald via AP) (Isaac Hale/)

    One person who helped Hansen realize his dream was Jim Smeltzer, who goes by his first name, Paul, to those in the group. Although he explained with a laugh, “I go by Paul, Jim, PJ, hey you, whatever.”

    Some of the group’s railroad switches and stands, railcars and safety cars have been crafted by Smeltzer, who has a metalworking shop of his own at home.

    Despite having an affinity for trains at a young age, he trained his hands in metalworking on things with more firepower rather than horsepower.

    In 1946, 13-year-old Smeltzer passed for 16 when he was hired to sweep the floors and put finish on gun stocks at a local gunsmith in his hometown of Fresno, Calif. His knowledge progressed as he worked, and he eventually learned how to create a firearm from scratch.

    “The day I turned 16, I joined the California National Guard — I told them I was 18,” Smeltzer said . “They didn’t check anything. It was no problem, until Korea broke out.” Then, officials checked his age and kicked him out of the Guard. However, he rejoined at 17 with his father’s permission and put his metalworking skills to use as an armorer for the 49th Division of the California National Guard.

    “The day I graduated from high school, I quit and went to work for a foundry,” Smeltzer said . “I learned a good bit about foundry practices. I made parts for Korea.” Not long after, he volunteered for the draft and joined the 82nd Airborne Division.

    At age 23, Smeltzer got married and opened a metalworking shop of his own.

    In February 1960, Smeltzer joined the Fresno Police Department. In April of that year, his father took him to see an old friend of Jim’s who had just opened a gun shop.

    “As we walked in the front door, Elmer looked up, opened a drawer, pulled something out, threw it and I caught it. It was a set of keys, he says, ‘Come back to work for me.’”

    So, Smeltzer began making guns again in the day and working for the police department at night. Working two jobs, Smeltzer recalled, “In my free time, I could work on things at home.” In addition to guns, Smeltzer had the know-how to make a plethora of equipment from metal.

    After 14 years, Smeltzer quit the police force and moved his family and metalworking shop to Highland.

    Once in Utah Valley, Smeltzer began working for a local company and made fewer guns and a more of a little bit of everything.

    “I like to build stuff,” said Smeltzer simply. “I don’t care much what it is. If it’s interesting, I’ll do it. If it’s not interesting, you can take it someplace else. If I can learn something from it and make it worthwhile, then I’ll do it,”

    Smeltzer does not have a degree related to metalworking, but holds degrees in criminalistics and criminology and certificates in refrigeration and welding. He’s primarily learned his craft through hands-on experience.

    “I was doing what I wanted to do. I never figured I’d make a lot of money. I never have made a lot of money, but I’ve enjoyed my life,” he said.

    Throughout the years, Smeltzer worked for various companies and built countless creations. He later retired, deciding that he would take in work as it came in his own shop to pass the time.

    However, in 2004, a trip to Tooele opened up new projects for Smeltzer.

    That year, he and his wife attended the annual railroad museum opening in the city. The museum had several small-scale railroads for visitors to enjoy, so his wife said, “If you build all this other stuff, why don’t you build a train?”

    And so, Smeltzer came to pair his childhood love of trains with his skills as a metalworker.

    Now, Smeltzer spends his time with his family, reading, working on the computer, riding his train on the tracks he built in 2004 and of course, working in his shop — though he admits he works slower than he used to. “Spend an hour or so in the morning, an hour or so in the afternoon, and do what I want to do,” he said. “I’m going to keep my hands in the shop.”


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    After discussing it for nearly a year, the Utah Department of Transportation is doubling the maximum toll for express lanes on Interstate 15 beginning Saturday.

    The maximum for drivers using electronic transponders has been $1. It now will rise to $2 for segments of about 10 miles in length. Tolls vary according to how heavy traffic is. The minimum toll during light-traffic times is 25 cents per segment.

    The primary purpose of express lanes is to encourage people to carpool. Use of those lanes is free to vehicles with at least two passengers, and UDOT strives to maintain speeds of at least 55 mph there as an incentive for people to double up.

    It has, however, allowed 20,000 people to buy access for single-occupant vehicles. The program, using transponders to collect electronic charges, originally was designed to utilize excess capacity. The trouble is too many people are now enrolled — and the $1 maximum toll isn’t enough to keep the express lanes congestion-free.

    Legislators this year questioned whether even doubling maximum tolls will be enough to reduce congestion in the express lanes.

    Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, chairman of the Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee, last year suggested “charging the maximum the market will bear” not only to reduce congestion but also to raise some money for highways.

    Members of the Utah Transportation Commission also said a $2 maximum is not enough to reduce congestion and suggested making it $4 or more.

    Amid such concerns, the Legislature this year approved raising the tolls to as much as $4.

    But UDOT said in a news release this week that it has decided to raise the maximum to $2 for now and to study how well that works before possibly raising them higher.

    The agency also said that all toll revenues will continue to be used only to maintain the express lanes, and to improve technology and law enforcement associated with their operation.

    The change comes after UDOT studies last year showed that express lanes are not exactly expresslike lately. Average speeds have dropped to 31 mph during peak drive times in Salt Lake County. Federal regulations require keeping average speeds in them at no less than 45 mph.

    For example, every afternoon in Salt Lake County between 1300 South and the Utah County line, speeds start to drop below the 55 mph goal by about 4 p.m. They bottom out at 31 mph on average by 5:15 p.m. and don’t rebound past 55 mph again until nearly 6:30 p.m.

    UDOT has said tolls are now about 10 cents per mile on average and would double to 20 cents.

    It said that is far less than the 87 cents toll per mile charged on average in other Western states. Some examples range from a low of 43 cents a mile on Interstate 880 in California to $1.10 a mile on California’s Interstates 10 and 110.

    UDOT has said that boosting tolls is just one of many steps that it has taken or plans to take to reduce crowding in express lanes.

    For example, it has placed a cap of 6,650 “C decals” for purchase to allow clean-fuel, single-passenger cars into the express lanes. UDOT has already hit that limit and has a waiting list of more than 1,000 people hoping to buy a C decal someday if current holders sell their cars or decide not to renew them.

    UDOT also funds occasional blitzes by the Utah Highway Patrol to ticket drivers who are in the express lanes illegally. Past studies by UDOT consistently found that about one of every five cars there were violators.


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    (Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Police close off access to where activists stage a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Activists Psarah Johnson talks about locking herself alongside other activists in the lobby of a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville. Johnson was released after being charged with disorderly conduct, trespassing and resisting arrest and believes she was let go while others were arrested because "the police is not ADA compliant." (Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Activists Psarah Johnson talks about locking herself alongside other activists in the lobby of a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville. Johnson was released after being charged with disorderly conduct, trespassing and resisting arrest and believes she was let go while others were arrested because "the police is not ADA compliant." (Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Activists are escorted out of a building where they staged a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Law enforcement leaves the building where activists staged a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Activists stage a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, after locking themselves in the lobby at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Police gather evidence, including arm lock tubes with the words "ABOLISH ICE" after activists staged a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Activists stage a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Activists stage a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Activists stage a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, after locking themselves in the lobby at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Police gather at the scene where activists staged a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Police gather outside where activists stage a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, after locking themselves in the lobby at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Police gather evidence, including arm lock tubes with the words "ABOLISH ICE" after activists staged a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Activists are escorted out of a building where they staged a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Activists are escorted out of a building where they staged a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Activists stage a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, after locking themselves in the lobby at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Activists are escorted out of a building where they staged a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Activist Lesley Ann Shaw is escorted out of a building where they staged a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Activists stage a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, after locking themselves in the lobby at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Activists are escorted out of a building where they staged a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Law enforcement covers up the windows where ctivists staged a protest against a private prison company with contracts to hold undocumented immigrants on Thursday, July 12, 2018, after locking themselves in the lobby at the headquarters of Management and Training Corporation in Centerville.

    Centerville • Police arrested eight protesters who disrupted the offices of a Utah-based business that operates private prisons that hold undocumented immigrants, demanding the Management and Training Corporation withdraw from its contracts with the government immediately.

    About 25 protesters entered the building at Marketplace Business Park at 500 North and 400 West at 7:45 a.m. Thursday, some chaining themselves to the structure and to each other. When Centerville police arrived and told the protesters to leave, about 15 of them did.

    Centerville Police Lt. Zan Robinson said officers waited about two hours before making arrests. He said remaining protesters used restraint devices to attach themselves to the building and to each other; some connected themselves to a wheelchair used by a member of the group. Officers worked slowly to take the protesters into custody without hurting them, he said.

    “There’s one with a device around her neck, so it’s very tricky,” he said.

    Taylor Goldstein, the group’s designated spokesperson, said before the arrests that the protestors felt a moral responsibility to act.

    Management and Training Corporation is “operating immigrant detention centers,” Goldstein said, and “they say that they do not house children, but they are still separating families by taking mothers and fathers away from their children. Even if they’re not detaining children, it’s not OK. They’re still separating children.”

    The company released a statement acknowledging it operates Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers in Calexico, Calif., Chaparral, New Mexico, and Livingston, Texas, adding “None have children or minors, only adults" and asserting it is “only a contractor for ICE” and is “not involved in any way in policies.”

    According to a statement on its website, MTC the facilities provide adult detainees access to medical and legal resources and voluntary recreation and other activities.

    MTC said it “would have been happy to meet" with protesters and decried their refusal "to comply with police and leave private property. The group is advocating to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement which they have the right to do. But they don’t have the right to break the law.

    Five protesters stood outside the building during the arrests, holding signs proclaiming “Stop separating families” and chanting, “No justice, no peace.” A middle-aged man drove by, stuck his head out his car window and shouted, “Hurray for ICE.” Another driver shouted, “Go home.”

    Among those carried out by police was Psarah Johnson, who uses a wheelchair. She said police “really don’t know what to do” with a person in a wheelchair, and “for that reason, I was not held.”

    Johnson said officers were “very polite” to the protesters. “They really did want to come to an agreement. They gave us many chances to leave of our own volition,” she said.

    “We all came out today with the full intention of being arrested," she said. “And the reason we were all willing to do this is what we were seeing, so many families being taken away from their children; we’re seeing children being put into detention centers.”

    Robinson had earlier said the group did not do anything violent. “They’ve been intimidating people as they come in and out of the building,” he said. “But they have not put their hands on anybody." And there were no physical confrontations until the arrests began.

    Officers and protesters had “a good dialogue," Robinson said before the arrests. “We’ve told them that they can be charged with trespassing. But, ultimately, we just hope that they’ll leave and take their protest to a public location where it’s lawful.”

    Robinson added: “We do encourage protests, but not at private places that don’t want you there. There’s a time and a place to protest, and it’s not in somebody’s business.”

    The protesters were on the first and second floor of the building; workers in the upper floors were told to “shelter in place” to “keep everybody separated," Robinson said.

    Goldstein read a statement that said Management and Training Corporation, headquartered in Centerville and owned by Utah residents Scott and Jane Marquardt, is the third-largest private prison company in the United States. It has proposed opening a new immigrant detention facility in Evanston, Wyo., she added.

    Goldstein said the protesters banded together after the recent Family Belongs Together rally in Salt Lake City and had been discussing this protest for several weeks.

    “We don't have a name. We're just a group of concerned community members,” she said. “We just couldn't take it anymore. We felt that we had to do something.

    “I’m Mexican-American and Jewish, and that’s why this is important to me,” said Goldstein, 26, who lives in Salt Lake City.

    And much of the group's anger is focused on the owners of MTC.

    “I think it’s really important to hold the Marquardts accountable,” Goldstein said. “They call themselves activists. They donate to a lot of progressive causes. And I think that needs to be called out. There’s no amount of money you can throw at progressive causes that will undo the damage caused by profitting off of private prisons.”

    The group is demanding that MTC drop its plans for the Evanston facility; stop profitting from private prisons; and support decriminalizing immigrants.

    The Tribune is continuing to update this developing story.



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    Many people have criticized BYU football’s move to independence, as other sports at the school were stashed — and in some cases, left to suffer — in the West Coast Conference.

    That questioning/commentary is nothing new.

    Former football coach Bronco Mendenhall championed the move initially, talking about winning national titles and other nonsense, and then later, when the Cougars struggled to consistently win games against far-flung teams with superior talent, said the status was unsustainable over the long haul.

    Others have blamed the program’s cratering last season on independence, claiming it has hampered recruiting, caused the Cougars to over-schedule in the early parts of seasons, tearing the heart and soul out of the players once they repeatedly get beat, and sometimes drubbed, and provided little incentive for athletes to continue to fight through the back half, languishing without tangible motivation to play for something — say, a league championship — and to reach for greatly diminished goals.

    Last month, Kalani Sitake said he likes the notion of his players being challenged early in the season against Power 5 teams. He asked: “How can you know what you need to do to improve, to be the best, if you don’t play those kinds of teams?”

    BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe repeatedly has said he and his school have no plans to bail on independence, all the while hoping some P5 league comes along at some point with an invitation. In the meantime, he has said he’s optimistic that BYU will renew its television contract with ESPN, and enjoy the opportunity to showcase — such as it is — Cougars football on that network’s various channels.

    It should be noted that since BYU became an independent, it has been shown on numerous telecasts, on some occasions not in much of a winning way. Exposure is one thing, positive exposure is another. BYU has not sniffed a New Year’s Day bowl, neither has it gotten much run as any kind of a national program, which is one of the reasons administrators gave for going independent, way back in the beginning.

    They wanted a higher profile.

    Providing a chance for a national audience to witness the Cougars getting beat likely isn’t what the powers that be, BYU’s board of trustees, had in mind under this model.

    While critics have been loud, I’ve never had much of a problem with BYU taking its shot at independence. The school got considerably more money out of its ESPN deal than it was receiving as a member of the Mountain West. And it wanted to see how it would do against a greater number of big-name opponents.

    It shouldn’t be forgotten that the year before last, in Sitake’s first season, the Cougars beat three P5 teams — Arizona, Mississippi State and Michigan State — en route to a 9–4 record.

    Last season, that record was flipped in the negative, as the Cougars not only lost to P5 opponents, but also to teams such as UMass and East Carolina. It was ugly, and the latter part of the schedule, as usual, featured an uninspiring slate.

    There might be middle ground, though, for BYU to consider as it moves forward. This is a change of opinion in this corner, still nothing revolutionary, and based on Holmoe’s remarks of the past, it probably won’t pursue this, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t.

    What if BYU rejoined the Mountain West, allowing its teams in other sports to face what typically would be better, more compelling competition, some of it against more regional, traditional rivals, while football gained the advantage of playing for a league championship, even if/after it lost early games against P5 teams?

    If the Cougars played that league schedule, it still would leave room for a minimum of four games against marquee programs in the country’s far reaches, enabling BYU to legitimize itself, if it were good enough, against the biggies.

    The independent schedule that commences in a little over seven weeks includes Arizona, Cal, Wisconsin, Washington and Utah. It also features McNeese State, Northern Illinois, UMass, and New Mexico State, as well as MWC members Utah State, Hawaii, and Boise State.

    That schedule isn’t that much different or favorably varied or better than what BYU could schedule as a member of the Mountain West. In the latter case, it might be a difference of one less P5 opponent.

    The competitive advantages are, as mentioned, that the Cougars would have something to play for — and fans would have a reason to come to the stadium for league games — in seasons where they couldn’t take out the larger programs. The players could still stay focused on winning a trophy. In seasons where BYU beat a few of those P5 teams, and then rolled through its league schedule, now it would have not only a chance for a championship, it would have a better shot at qualifying for a major bowl game.

    That makes some major sense.

    Even if the total TV payout were somewhat diminished.

    Taking that route might require the swallowing of some pride.

    But it might also breathe some life back into a football program that is suffocating in an environment where it, temporarily at least, and maybe not so temporarily, is unprepared to capitalize on plans of ambition laid for it eight years ago, back when the coach leading the effort spoke in highfalutin absolutes, without a hint of a single chortle, about conquering all of college football.

    Things have changed.

    Independence, and all its goals of glory, might have seemed a bridge too far back then. Now, it, and they, seem a blown bridge too far, with little left lingering but the smoke of delusion.

    GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” weekdays from 3–7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.


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    The Utah men’s basketball team will host Maine on Nov. 8, launching what coach Larry Krystkowiak labeled a “grueling” nonconference schedule in 2018–19, the school announced Thursday.

    The Utes' marquee games already had been publicized, including home games vs. Tulsa and Nevada, road games with Minnesota and Kentucky and a meeting with BYU at Vivint Smart Home Arena in the Beehive Classic.

    “I believe our program is at a place where we are up for the challenge and we are very motivated to play a grueling nonconference schedule,” Krystkowiak said in a news release.

    The Pac-12 schedule, yet to be announced, will begin Jan. 2.

    The biggest takeaways from Thursday's news were the season-opening opponent and date and the pairings of the Wooden Legacy, scheduled Nov. 22-25 at Fullerton, Calif. The Utes will open the eight-team tournament against Hawaii, then face Grand Canyon or Seton Hall in the second round. Potential opponents in the final round include Fresno State, La Salle, Miami and Northwestern.

    The other notable development is the absence of Missouri, which visited the Huntsman Center last November to begin a scheduled home-and-home series.

    Utah's schedule is balanced, in terms of having its high-profile opponents interspersed from Nov. 12 (at Minnesota) to Dec. 29 (Nevada). In addition to Maine, Tulsa and Nevada, Utah's home opponents include Mississippi Valley State, Florida A&M and Northern Arizona.

    The Utes, coming off a 23–12 season that included an 11–7 record in the Pac−12, will meet College Idaho in an exhibition game on Nov. 1.

    This story will be updated.


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    Race car driver Terry Nish, known as “Terrible Terry” for his aggressive nature on the track and described as the patriarch of the “World's Fastest Family,” died recently at his home in Salt Lake City. He was 80.

    A celebration of Nish's life and racing career will be held Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. at the Nish Motorsports Race Shop, 818 W. South Temple.

    In 2007, Nish became only the second auto racing figure inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame, following Bonneville Salt Flats legend Ab Jenkins, a member of the charter class of 1970.

    A graduate of West High School, Nish initially made his mark as a driver at the Fairgrounds Speedway. He became a consistent performer at Bonneville Raceways and expanded his racing interests to the Salt Flats as a driver and team owner. Nish set a world record of 338 mph in 1997 and his sons Mike, Jeff and TJ joined him in Bonneville's 200 mph club, leading to the “World's Fastest Family” designation. Nish's Royal Purple streamliner became one of the most renowned Salt Flats vehicles and he later teamed with racer Rick Vesco as one of the primary forces behind the Save the Salt effort.

    On the oval track, Nish was proud of his “Terrible Terry” nickname. His family used it this week as the headline for his obituary, which included the explanation that “race fans around the world cheered or booed” for him.

    Nish was known as a tenacious competitor, according to former SaltLake Tribune sports columnist Dick Rosetta, who thoroughly covered Nish’s driving exploits in an era when Salt Lake City newspapers treated weekly auto races as major events in the summer.

    Nish also was known for helping others in the racing community. In 1999, he created the Utah Motorsports Foundation that has raised $1 million to distribute to racing families in need, Mike Nish said.

    Terry Nish once resented the media attention given to driver “Wild Bill” Madsen, Rosetta said, but he enlisted his former rival to help him in his captaincy of the U.S. Sprint Car team that enjoyed considerable success in Durban, South Africa.

    Aside from auto racing, Nish founded Servi-Tech in 1969, building a successful food products machinery business.


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    State and Salt Lake City officials are working to see if they can reach an agreement on changes to a controversial international trading hub planned for the city’s northwest corner, but the mayor’s office is unhappy with the shadowy nature of the negotiations.

    City Council members have been talking with state leaders about changes to the law that was passed in the eleventh hour of the legislative session in March, when lawmakers agreed to set up what will be one of the world’s largest landlocked ports built on about 24,000 acres of city land.

    It is billed as the biggest economic development project in Utah history. It also has been among the most hotly disputed political topics this year, with conflicts over how the law was created, landownership by board members, impacts of international tariffs and, now, the closed-door negotiations before a possible special session next week.

    State and city officials will meet Thursday afternoon at the Capitol to determine whether negotiations that have taken place over the past four months have resulted in a compromise with which City Council members can agree.

    “We are making good progress in a working group on the critical issues outlined by the city,” Councilman Derek Kitchen said Thursday. “There’s potential that we’ll come to agreement on these issues. If so, then I imagine [the governor] will call a special session.”

    Lawmakers are already scheduled to meet next week for interim hearings. When he calls the Legislature into special session, Gov. Gary Herbert typically likes to piggyback on interim hearings, when most of legislators are already on Capitol Hill to cut down on costs of a midyear session.

    “There are no firm plans to call a special session,” Paul Edwards wrote in an email Wednesday. “Discussions with the Salt Lake City Council and legislative leadership have been productive, but there is not yet consensus about the need for a special session this month.”

    Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski isn’t part of the group. While she’s been working with local officials and Sen. Jerry Stevenson, the Layton Republican whose bill created the port, she won’t be at Thursday’s meeting and has called for more transparency and time to discuss the port.

    It’s unclear whether that opposition could derail negotiations, as they did in June, when Herbert nearly called lawmakers together to amend the law before he held off because of opposition by Biskupski and City Council members.

    There are indications that legislators are preparing for floor sessions, possibly next week.

    Members of the Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee held a lengthy meeting Thursday during which they discussed 11 potential tax policy bills that could be considered if Herbert called a special session, which several members said could happen next week.

    House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, met with legislators this week and talked about possible upcoming changes to the port, according to Reps. Joel Briscoe and Marie Poulson, two Salt Lake County Democrats. They said Hughes discussed changes to the port’s sprawling boundaries as well as the conflict-of-interest barrier for landownership by board members.

    Hughes, who had used his appointment authority to put himself on the board, resigned after The Salt Lake Tribune found he owned several apartment buildings within five miles of the port boundaries, which the law sought to prevent. City Councilman James Rogers, who is also on the board, also owns a building within that boundary.

    Hughes and Salt Lake City Democratic Sen. Jim Dabakis previously said lawmakers should agree not to take control of the city’s internatinal airport, make clear Great Salt Lake wetlands aren’t part of the boundaries, and require the covering of coal as part of negotiations.

    City Council members and the mayor also wanted changes to the tax-and-spend authority by the port authority and shifts in the way the port handles land use disputes.

    Biskupski and others said the governor, lawmakers and City Council members should hold off on a meeting and wait until next year.

    “While I understand there is a desire to move expeditiously, it is clear to me that in order to gain public trust and truly protect Salt Lake City’s interests, this process must be more deliberate, cooperative, and guided by a clear understanding of long-term goals,” Biskupski wrote in a letter Wedneday to Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall.

    “Given the current acrimony, now is not the time for us as city leaders to participate in a rushed special session,” she added. “Rather it is time for us to choose to support the requests of our community partners.”

    The port’s boundaries created by SB234 include much of the existing warehousing district, plus the area around the international airport and close to the Great Salt Lake’s southern shore and parts of West Valley City.

    Residents near the boundaries sent a letter opposing any special session.

    “We must improve the transparency and public input aspects of this project,” said Richard Holman, a member of the Westside Action Coalition. “We object to the lack of open public participation and knowledge of port-related issues, leaving citizens to feel overlooked or, worse, disregarded.”


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    Washington • Be prepared for a festival of hypocrisy, evasion and misdirection from supporters of the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

    Begin with the idea that because Kavanaugh is qualified, well-educated, intelligent and likable, senators should fall in line behind him.

    Sorry, but Senate Republicans have already demonstrated that none of these characteristics matters. If they did, Judge Merrick Garland would be a Supreme Court justice. In blocking Garland, conservatives made clear that personal qualities have nothing to do with confirmation battles. They are struggles for power.

    Everything we know about Kavanaugh demonstrates he would cement a right-wing majority on the court on social issues as well as regulatory and economic questions. (That’s why he was picked.) The environment, gun safety and health care are all at stake. So are civil, voting and labor rights. Kavanaugh may be as lovely a human being as Garland is, but he would behave very differently as a justice. That’s the point.

    Progressives are told they should get over the shameful treatment of Garland. What an astonishing exercise in hypocrisy from conservatives who have been reliving the defeat of Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court for 31 years. And unlike Garland, Bork got a hearing and a vote.

    Kavanaugh will try to duck questions on Roe v. Wade, new challenges to the Affordable Care Act and President Trump’s efforts to escape the investigation of Russian influence on our election. His defenders will pretend that his ideology is not a legitimate matter for senatorial examination.

    But these same people made conservative ideology central to their case to Trump on Kavanaugh’s behalf. As Ashley Parker and Robert Costa reported in The Washington Post, “Former clerks fended off criticism that his record on abortion was squishy and that his rulings were too deferential to government agencies.”

    Kavanaugh’s champions can’t have it both ways — and neither can Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, or Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who are supporters of abortion rights. Kavanaugh can’t simultaneously be un-squishy on abortion for Trump and squishy enough for Collins and Murkowski.

    Don’t count on the good judge to help us unravel these mysteries. Kavanaugh kicked off his confirmation campaign with a statement that lacked all credibility. “No president,” he said, “has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.”

    Good grief! Trump’s list of potential appointees was formulated in consultation with right-wing groups. Period. Civil rights groups, women’s organizations, labor unions and countless other sectors of our society had no part in this. Remember Kavanaugh’s wholly unnecessary whopper when he addresses other subjects.

    And given that the president who named him is facing legal scrutiny, the would-be justice’s sweeping views about presidential immunity are highly relevant to whether he should be put in a position to adjudicate Trump’s future.

    Kavanaugh can’t be let off the hook just because his now widely read 2009 Minnesota Law Review article suggested that presidents should be protected by congressional action, not the courts. Nowhere does he say explicitly that the courts couldn’t act. His only statement on the matter is that the Supreme Court’s decision in Clinton v. Jones requiring former President Bill Clinton to testify in a civil lawsuit “may well have been entirely correct.” Hmm. That may well have been is one heck of a verbal loophole.

    His passion is plainly on the side of presidential power. Imagine Trump’s grin in response to these words from Kavanaugh:

    “The indictment and trial of a sitting president, moreover, would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the international or domestic arenas. Such an outcome would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis. Even the lesser burdens of a criminal investigation — including preparing for questioning by criminal investigators — are time-consuming and distracting.”

    Rudy Giuliani couldn’t have said it better, meaning that senators have every reason to demand that Kavanaugh promise (under oath) to recuse himself on any case involving the Trump inquiry.

    As for Republican efforts to rush Kavanaugh through, the judge wrote in that law review article that the Senate “should consider a rule ensuring that every judicial nominee receives a vote by the Senate within 180 days of being nominated by the president.”

    It’s interesting that going the full 180 days would take us well past November’s election. And according to the Kavanaugh Doctrine, Garland ought to have been given a vote. Senators should ask him about that, too.

    E.J. Dionne
    E.J. Dionne

    E.J. Dionne writes about politics in a twice-weekly column and on the PostPartisan blog. He is a government professor at Georgetown University, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution and a frequent commentator on politics for National Public Radio and MSNBC. He is most recently a co-author of “One Nation After Trump.” ejdionne@washpost.com. Twitter: @EJDionne


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    The Mormon Land newsletter is a weekly highlight reel of developments in and about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whether heralded in headlines, preached from the pulpit or buzzed about on the back benches. Want Mormon Land in your inbox? Subscribe here.

    Less is more in Mexico

    Mexico boasts the second largest population of Mormons of any nation (behind the United States) but the number of LDS congregations there is shrinking.

    In the past month or two, the Utah-based faith has eliminated seven stakes and 53 wards and branches (many with only 40 to 100 active members), independent LDS demographer Matt Martinich reports in a recent blog post.

    This restructuring “does not indicate a sudden drop in church attendance or member activity/convert retention rates,” Martinich writes. “Rather, these changes were likely many months or years in planning due to many wards in these cities with few active members and emphasis from the area presidency for better utilization of meetinghouse space.”

    Still, this “significant” reduction, he adds, shows the church in Mexico “has appeared to experience the lowest ‘real growth’ productivity of any country in the world with a significant LDS presence (more than 100,000 members) during [this decade].”

    Mexico, with more than 1.4 million Mormons, now has 1,933 wards and branches, down from 1,987 at the end of 2017, a 2.7 percent drop.

    Such congregational consolidations can pay off in the long run. After the church discontinued two stakes and 17 wards and branches about seven years ago in Guadalajara, Martinich notes, that area sprouted four new wards/branches and saw stronger, more fully functioning congregations take root.

    In addition, pockets of Mexico still report solid LDS growth. The Colorado-based Martinich points, for instance, to Cancún, Querétaro, Mérida, Orizaba and Xalapa.

    Young basketball star benched for his beliefs?

    Mosiah MacDonald chose hymns over hoops, prayers over picks and sermons over scrimmages — and the decision apparently cost the 15-year-old Mormon a spot in New Zealand’s basketball championships.

    According to a Stuff.com news report, MacDonald parted ways with his Manawatū team after the coach doubled the Sunday practice schedule from one workout at 4 p.m. to two sessions — at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. — for two full months.

    That regimen would amount to too much Sabbath time on the hardwoods and not enough in the pews, MacDonald’s family said, so the budding star, with dreams of playing college hoops in the U.S., found himself sitting on the sidelines during New Zealand’s big tourney.

    “Now he has no opportunity to go to the nationals,” his father, Jared MacDonald, told Stuff, “not because of lack of talent or ability, but because he chooses to go to church.”

    New proselytizing hurdles in Europe?

    Mormon missionaries in Europe soon may need to go about their record keeping a bit differently to comply with privacy laws.

    The European Court of Justice declared this week that Jehovah’s Witnesses must obtain consent from people before they take down their personal details during door-to-door preaching, Reuters reports.

    Longtime Mormon Wilfried Decoo, a retired Brigham Young University professor who lives in Belgium, believes this ruling inevitably will apply to Mormon missionaries.

    “The implementation as such seems simple: Whenever missionaries make a promising contact and want to record name, address and other data, they should ask permission,” DeCoo writes in a blog for Times and Seasons. “ … To what extent would this complication affect Mormon missionary work, since it may be assumed that the church will obey the law, but also that many people would not want their name and address to be recorded in the data of a ‘sect’?”

    Decoo suggests new European privacy laws may have other impacts on Mormon membership records as well.

    Scott Sommerdorf   |  The Salt Lake Tribune  
Affirmation LGBT Mormons march during the 2016 Pride Parade on Sunday, June 5, 2016, in Salt Lake City.
    Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Affirmation LGBT Mormons march during the 2016 Pride Parade on Sunday, June 5, 2016, in Salt Lake City. (Scott Sommerdorf/)

    Church makes historic LGBTQ contribution

    Affirmation and the LDS Church don’t see eye to eye on every issue, but they do share the same vision in the battle against suicide.

    To that end, the LDS Foundation, the church’s charity division, donated $25,000 to the LGBTQ support group to help pay for suicide-prevention training for Affirmation’s leaders.

    In some ways, though, the grant was about more than money. It marked the first significant collaboration between the LDS Church and Affirmation, an independent organization for LGBTQ Mormons and ex-Mormons.

    It also marked yet another effort by the church to combat the growing problem of suicide, especially among young people. Just last week, the faith released a new series of videos calling for compassion and love for those experiencing suicidal thoughts and feeling marginalized. Mormon apostle Dale G. Renlund also denounced as “totally false” the “old sectarian notion that suicide is a sin and that someone who commits suicide is banished to hell forever.”

    (Photo courtesy of Blue Fox Entertainment) The plaintiffs in Kitchen v. Herbert, the legal case that made same-sex marriage legal in Utah, gather outside the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver in 2014, in a scene from the documentary "Church & State." The plaintiffs are (from left): Laurie Wood, Kody Partridge, Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity.
    (Photo courtesy of Blue Fox Entertainment) The plaintiffs in Kitchen v. Herbert, the legal case that made same-sex marriage legal in Utah, gather outside the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver in 2014, in a scene from the documentary "Church & State." The plaintiffs are (from left): Laurie Wood, Kody Partridge, Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity. (Holly Tuckett/)

    Now showing: ‘Church & State’

    The lawsuit made headlines. The ruling made history. Now the film is making its theatrical premiere.

    Church & State,” the award-winning documentary about the Kitchen v. Herbert legal case that paved the way for same-sex marriage in Utah, is launching a weeklong debut in Salt Lake City before it becomes available via online streaming later this summer.

    The movie, from co-directors Holly Tuckett and Kendall Wilcox, offers a behind-the-scenes peek at the landmark lawsuit that took on the LDS Church, Utah and the overwhelming majority of Beehive State voters who years before had endorsed a ban on gay marriage — one that a federal judge eventually struck down, saying it demean[ed] the dignity of same-sex couples for no rational reason.”

    (Photo courtesy of the LDS Church) U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, July 6, 2018, in Germany.
    (Photo courtesy of the LDS Church) U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, July 6, 2018, in Germany.

    Uchtdorf back in Germany

    As the LDS Church’s chief point person for Europe, apostle Dieter F. Uchtdorf sure is making a point of being in Europe.

    He and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a fellow Mormon, met last week with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    The three discussed a host of global issues, according to an LDS Church news release, including the refugee crisis gripping Europe and the state of U.S.-German relations.

    “The chancellor welcomed us warmly and expressed her thoughts about the things that Germany is currently moving with care and very vividly [on],” Uchtdorf said in the release.

    It marked the first official meeting between a German chancellor and a top LDS leader.

    On the refugee front — an issue that hits home with Uchtdorf — the release noted that German Latter-day Saints have been actively involved in 69 projects since 2015 and have supported the work with almost $3 million (2.5 million euros).

    The 77-year-old apostle, whose family converted to the LDS Church while living in Germany, was a refugee twice — once while leaving Czechoslovakia, where he was born, and again when fleeing then-East Germany to West Germany.

    “The exercise of one’s faith,” Uchtdorf said in the release, “is inextricably linked to the fundamental right of all — whether religious or not — to think, express, and act upon, and, of course, in our Christian faith always includes practical help for one’s fellow man in need.”

    During their visit, Uchtdorf and Hatch also laid a wreath at the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp to honor those who perished under Nazi rule.

    In May, Uchtdorf trekked to Eastern Europe, visiting Moscow; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Tallinn, Estonia.

    Kirby chimes in on hymns

    Tribune columnist Robert Kirby may be tone-deaf, but he knows a snappy tune when he hears one — and he wants more of them at church.

    So his prescription for curing the sacrament meeting blahs and blues — after the LDS Church announced plans to publish a new hymnal — calls for more, well, blues, along with a healthy dose of bongos, bagpipes or whatever else to liven up services.

    Scripture study gets a boost

    Mormons soon will receive new words to help them study the Word.

    A new manual, “Come, Follow Me — For Individuals and Families,” will be provided to every LDS household to assist members in studying the scriptures at home.

    “Living by and reading the word of God,” the governing First Presidency wrote in a June 29 letter, “will build faith in Heavenly Father and his plan of salvation and in the savior Jesus Christ and his atonement.”

    This first batch of manuals will cover the New Testament, which Mormons will study in Sunday school and children’s Primary classes next year.

    Starting in January, new teaching materials (“Come, Follow Me — For Primary” and “Come, Follow Me — For Sunday School”) also will be used.

    Eventually, these new resources, including digital versions, will cover the four main books of LDS scripture: the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price.

    Quote of the week

    “Every community has different challenges and different reasons for their resilience in facing them. For many, especially a tightly knit faith-based community like the Yazidis [in northern Iraq], their faith is the one crucial resource that will allow them to pull deeply from the wellsprings of life that are sacred to their tradition. It is just as precious to them as water, food and air. By preserving a person’s faith, we help preserve their future.”LDS apostle Jeffrey R. Holland on the persecution faced by northern Iraq’s Yazidis

    Mormon Land is a weekly newsletter written by David Noyce and Peggy Fletcher Stack. Subscribe here.


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    Boston • Anticipating renewed fights over abortion, some governors and state lawmakers already are searching for ways to enhance or dismantle the right in their constitutions and laws.

    President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court has raised the possibility that a conservative court majority could weaken or overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which created a nationwide right to abortion. That could fan an already raging battle in states over what should and should not be legal.

    While a complete reversal of Roe remains a longshot, some Democratic elected officials want to enact new abortion protections and repeal dormant laws that criminalize abortion. While those laws have been ignored for decades, some stretching back to the 19th century, Democrats want to erase them so they cannot be revived in the future.

    "As long as they are enshrined in statute, they can be picked up and used by people who do not feel the same way about women and their bodies that I would say most people in this state feel," said Massachusetts state Senate President Harriette Chandler, a Democrat.

    Chandler is pushing to repeal an abortion ban from the 1800s that has remained unenforced, in part because of a 1981 state court ruling protecting access to abortion.

    The Massachusetts Senate approved the bill unanimously in January. The House speaker, also a Democrat, said that chamber will take it up before the end of the formal legislative session July 31.

    In New York, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been holding rallies after Kavanaugh's nomination this week urging the state Senate to reconvene. He wants it to strengthen the right to an abortion, a seemingly unlikely event in the Republican-led chamber.

    Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the state law legalizing abortion, passed three years before the Roe ruling, includes a ban on third-trimester abortions and offers very limited exceptions. The Assembly has passed legislation codifying Roe six consecutive times, but the Senate has repeatedly blocked it.

    "There may have once been a time when we felt comfortable with the protections Roe v. Wade offered," Heastie said. "But that time has passed, and now these fundamental rights are threatened like never before. We cannot afford to take this right for granted."

    Seventeen states already have laws that could be used to restrict the legal status of abortions if Roe is overturned or severely limited. Of those, Massachusetts is one of 10 states that still have pre-Roe abortion bans on the books, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a national research group that supports abortion rights.

    The institute says nine other states have laws specifically protecting abortion rights.

    Lawmakers in some Republican-led states have been attempting for decades to chip away at the Roe ruling by restricting when, where and how abortions can be provided. Kavanaugh's appointment could lead to a surge in such measures.

    "The time is right. We need to act on it," said Missouri Rep. Mike Moon, who is hoping Trump's Supreme Court appointment breathes new life into an anti-abortion state constitutional amendment that stalled earlier this year.

    The Missouri proposal states that "nothing in this constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion." It mirrors one first adopted by Tennessee voters in 2014 and placed on this November's ballot by Republican-led legislatures in Alabama and West Virginia.

    The Tennessee measure was intended to overturn a state Supreme Court determination that the state constitution provided an even greater protection for abortion than the federal one. If the Roe precedent is reversed or weakened, similar constitutional amendments in other states could erect a shield against lawsuits asserting state-based abortion rights.

    At the time of the Roe v. Wade decision, just four states — Alaska, Hawaii, New York and Washington — allowed abortion on demand prior to fetal viability. California also broadly interpreted a woman's "mental health" exception to allow many abortions, according to the National Right to Life Committee. Most states had strict bans.

    David O'Steen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee, said the high court's 1973 ruling "bottled up the discussion" and imposed a nationwide policy at a time when there was no public consensus in favor of abortion rights.

    "We've had the subsequent 45 years where (the) pro-life movement has been seeking one way or the other to bring this back to the domain of elected representatives, rather than the courts," he said.

    If Roe is overturned, O'Steen anticipates that some states would swiftly implement sweeping bans on abortion, some would maintain broad access to the procedure and others would plunge into legislative debate over what types of abortion laws they should have.

    "The idea that a reversal of Roe would end abortion — that's simply not correct," he said.

    Assertions that Kavanaugh could sway Supreme Court opinion to allow states to ban abortion are "a lot of hyperbole coming out of the left," Florida Republican Party Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said Wednesday in a media conference call with Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.

    Gaetz said some abortion limitations "could receive more favorable treatment, bringing our country a more pro-life position, but it wouldn't necessarily have to fundamentally alter the holding in Roe."

    Florida politics are dominated by Republicans, yet the state also has dozens of clinics that provide abortions.

    Earlier this year, before Anthony Kennedy announced he was retiring from the court, Rhode Island Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello called concerns about Roe being overturned "irrelevant" and "not founded in reality." But now, Rhode Island Democratic Rep. Edie Ajello, a longtime abortion rights advocate, said it's important to codify the Roe decision into state law before it is further eroded at the federal level.

    Ajello has sponsored unsuccessful legislation that would strike several old state laws. One of those, passed shortly after the Roe decision, imposed prison sentences on those who provide aid or counsel "to procure a miscarriage" unless necessary to save a woman's life.

    Ajello said such laws are insulting and demeaning to women.

    "For that reason, they ought to be off the books," she said.

    ___

    Lieb reported from Jefferson City, Missouri. Contributing were Associated Press writers David Crary in New York City; David Klepper in Albany, New York; Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida; and Michelle R. Smith in Providence, Rhode Island.


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    The Utah Highway Patrol has identified the man who was hit and killed by a vehicle weeks ago on U.S. Interstate 215 in Salt Lake City and is asking for the public's help to track down suspects in the possible hit-and-run.

    The highway patrol said Wednesday state investigators had a difficult time positively identifying the victim as 29-year-old Brennon Robert Day of Salt Lake City because of advanced body decomposition.

    Lt. Todd Royce says the body likely had been there for one to three weeks before it was discovered on July 7 on the southbound interstate in the 2100 North area.

    Royce says damage to the vehicle that hit him likely would be in the right front corner of the vehicle with a possible broken headlight.

    Anyone with information should call the patrol at 801–887–3800.


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    St. George • Flash floods in southern Utah have closed several roads and trails at Zion National Park.

    The National Park Service said Thursday that the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway from Canyon Junction to the East Entrance is closed indefinitely due to damage overnight from flooding and rock falls.

    No injuries have been reported.

    Officials say the national park near St. George north of the Arizona line received 3 inches of rain in a short amount of time Wednesday night.

    Zion Canyon Scenic Drive also is closed to traffic but shuttles are traveling as far as the Grotto trail head. All trails north of the Grotto are closed.

    A flash flood warning expired at 11 p.m. Wednesday. But the national Weather service says the North Fork of the Virgin River will continue to run high on Thursday.


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    When the Alliance of American Football makes its first snap next February, there could be lots of familiar names playing for each of the eight teams.

    Makes sense, too, because a brand new league needs as many hooks to attract fans as it can find. The Alliance is going with a geographic allocation system that takes advantage of where players attended college, or where they performed in the NFL.

    For example, if former Alabama standout running back Trent Richardson opts to join the Alliance, he would be placed on Birmingham's roster. Players who attended Arizona or Arizona State would wind up with the Phoenix franchise. Anyone who played for one of the major Florida schools would be placed with the Orlando team.

    "We think this will disperse the talent in a way that will be logical," says Bill Polian, whose work as an NFL personnel man with Buffalo, Carolina and Indianapolis got him voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "We borrowed that from the USFL."

    Polian, Alliance CEO Charlie Ebersol and the other league founders hope to be far more successful and have more longevity than that league, which lasted three seasons in the 1980s before folding. Unquestionably, players to fill out the 75-man rosters — other franchises will be in San Diego, Memphis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and Atlanta — are available. Now, the Alliance has a system for distributing them, particularly once NFL teams make their roster cuts at the beginning of September.

    Basically, players from any schools in the SEC, ACC and Pac-12 power conferences will wind up with a franchise in their region. Polian says because the Alliance has no markets in Big Ten and Big 12 areas, "we left them largely unallocated." Players from such schools as Penn State or Kansas State likely will be apportioned based on which NFL club cut them. But the league plans to distribute four NFL teams' cuts to each of the Alliance squads.

    "In addition, we gave each team a CFL team, again based on rough geography," Polian says. "The West CFL teams would go to the West Alliance teams ...

    "When a player is cut or he is not in the NFL or CFL, the first thing is we look for a college affiliation. His rights are your property if he is affiliated with one of your colleges. If his college is not assigned, we go to his pro team. If the NFL team does not work, and he is in the CFL, we go to that. Finally, if he is completely unallocated, he can be put on rights list first-come, first-serve."

    Most smaller schools have not been allocated, nor have any from the lower levels of college ball.

    Should a player draw interest from an NFL club after being cut in September and allocated to an Alliance team, he would be free to return to the NFL. But not once the Alliance begins play the weekend after the Super Bowl.

    "They can go at any time except from the start of our training camp to our championship game," says Polian, whose league will play a 10-game season, with four teams making the playoffs. "The reason we set our calendar the way we did, our season ends just as OTAs are beginning (in the NFL). They won't miss a heck of a lot, if anything at all, and they will be in shape in late April. They can go right back to the NFL and not miss a beat."

    Or they could head back to college. The Alliance will be offering players post-secondary education assistance, as well as health and wellness benefits.

    "In addition," Polian explains "every player completing a full (Alliance) season will receive a scholarship of a significant amount of money and we will provide counseling if they want to go back to school."

    Each player will be signed to a three-year contract with a minimum base gross salary of $250,000 over three years. But they can earn more.

    "With bonuses related to skill, statistical levels and even some fan engagement," Polian says, "they can earn considerably more than their base minimum. We think it's very competitive and a decent wage for basically a 10-game season."

    Now that the Alliance has established how it will distribute players and has scheduled scouting combines for August for players not in NFL camps, the next big step comes Sept. 1: cutdown day in the NFL.

    “The large push will come at the cut to 53 when a great many players will come on the market,” Polian says. “Our big challenge will be getting the right players.”


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    Milwaukee• Overnight in dozens of cities across the U.S., the electric scooters arrive, often without warning to public officials, parked along sidewalks and ready to be taken for a spin with a few taps on a smartphone.

    It's not long before they attract attention — and it's not always positive: Lawsuits and cease-and-desist orders have sometimes followed the arrival of California-based companies Bird Rides Inc., LimeBike and Spin, with city officials saying the scooters aren't legal to operate on streets or the sidewalks where they get dangerously close to pedestrians. And because the scooters are dockless, they're parked anywhere when a ride is over, causing cities heartburn over blocked sidewalks.

    On Friday, Milwaukee will ask a judge to order Bird to remove its scooters from the city. It will be the first time a complaint against Bird will be argued in court, potentially providing the first judicial opinion for the cities scrambling to figure out how to deal with the startups.

    Milwaukee sued after sending Bird a cease-and-desist letter on June 28, a day after 100 scooters arrived "in a similar, overnight, surprise fashion" other places have experienced, according to the lawsuit. Bird, which operates in 18 cities and is also refusing to comply with a cease-and-desist order from Indianapolis, contends their scooters are legal for street use, just like bicycles and other "mobility devices." It says the company wants to work with Milwaukee "to create and enforce common sense rules encouraging the safe use" of the scooters that residents "have begun to adopt enthusiastically."

    Bird was founded by Travis VanderZanden, a former top executive at Uber and Lyft. The clashes over the scooters are reminiscent of the early days of those ridesharing companies, which launched in places with no regulatory framework before building public support and triggering a flurry of legislative activity that ultimately legitimized their businesses.

    "It's a very defiant position they're taking as if laws don't matter, they don't apply to us, we're going to do what we please, when we please," said Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman.

    Nashville, Tennessee, sued last month before impounding all of Bird's scooters. The city since dropped its lawsuit and is working on regulations for the scooters. In San Francisco, the city banned the scooters on June 4, requiring Bird and other companies, to apply for permits before returning.

    The scooters can go up to 15 mph (24 kph). Picking one up is a simple process. The Bird app shows where they're available. Riders, who must scan in their driver's license, unlock one by scanning a bar code for an initial charge of $1. It then costs 15 cents a minute to ride one. Once done, riders take a picture of where they left the scooter to make sure it's properly parked. Bird picks up the scooters each night and inspects them before putting them back the next day.

    "It's really fun, super fast," said Kirby Bridges, a 28-year-old Milwaukee resident who was taking one of her first rides downtown Wednesday. "But I can also see how it can potentially be really pretty dangerous so I totally understand why there would be a lawsuit."

    Although the app advises customers not to ride on sidewalks, that hasn't stopped them, and cities have complained the scooters are sometimes left in places where they obstruct sidewalks. In Denver, for example, public works officials removed Bird scooters because they were taking up space on public rights of way, said Nancy Kuhn, a spokeswoman for the agency. Denver also ordered LimeBike, which is in 30 cities, to cease operations until regulations are in place.

    In Milwaukee, Bauman said he's willing to consider regulations for the scooters if Wisconsin law is changed so they can be deemed legal vehicles that can then be registered. But he said they should be used only on streets, not sidewalks.

    Riders "can take their chances with dump trucks and cement trucks and buses and street cars and motor vehicles of all sorts. Have at it," he said.

    Other places have been more welcoming to the scooter companies. In Minneapolis, officials moved to regulate the scooters after they appeared, with the City Council giving initial approval this week to an ordinance to license them and establish parking rules. Memphis, Tennessee, last month set up an agreement with Bird that includes parking regulations.

    A June 29 column in The Commercial Appeal in Memphis in support of the scooters saidthey "can help riders zip to those final blocks where the bus stopped short."

    ___

    Associated Press reporter Brinley Hineman contributed from Atlanta.


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    Utah could collect another $60 million in online sales tax revenue after a key U.S. Supreme Court decision, but most of that money is expected go to an already promised tax break for manufacturers, officials said Thursday.

    The revenue would come on top of about $140 million the state takes in from online businesses like Airbnb and Amazon that already agreed to pay last year. A special legislative session could soon be called where lawmakers would hammer out exactly how sales tax will be collected.

    For consumers, the change means paying about 5 to 8 percent more for things they buy online, like the sales tax charged on items bought in bricks-and-mortar stores.

    State leaders had long bemoaned the loss of sales-tax revenue as people started buying more online and cheered the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month.

    "We're a fiscally conservative state, yet we believe these taxes should be collected because we don't want to prefer online, out-of-state sellers over bricks and mortar sellers," said Republican Sen. Howard Stephenson. "We believe all sellers should be treated equally and we shouldn't be choosing winners and losers."

    With that in mind, lawmakers earlier this year earmarked $55 million of any online sales tax collected in Utah for a tax break for manufacturers. After that, any cash leftover could go toward lowering the overall sales tax.

    The changes come after the U.S. Supreme Court overruled a pair of decades-old decisions that said if a business was shipping a customer's purchase to a state where the business didn't have a physical presence such as a warehouse or office, the business didn't have to collect sales tax for the state.

    People were supposed to pay sales tax to the state themselves, but most didn't realize they owed it and few paid. In Utah, the portion was about 1 percent.

    Though Utah was working on the online sales tax issue long before the decision came down, some questions remain. One is how the state will deal with online platforms like the handmade-marketplace Etsy, which doesn't sell things directly but gives people an online platform to make their own sales.

    Though Utah exempts people whose sales total less than $100,000 a year, Utah State Tax Commission Chair John Valentine said the platform question is still being debated around the country.


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