Letters to the Editor
May 1, 2009
This past Tuesday the Park City High School Senior class observed the annual docudrama that took place in the LDS church parking lot following their class photo. With the cooperation of our Park City Police and Fire Departments, students and local businesses, the well-choreographed event showed the devastating results that can happen when you make that decision to drink and drive. With Prom this weekend (editor’s note: now postponed until May 30) and graduation in just a few weeks, this is an opportune time to remind them to think about the choices they make when celebrating.
I would like to recognize and thank the many people involved in making this event happen, including the docudrama actors, Park City police and firefighters, Air Med, Belchers Towing, Olpin Hoopes Funeral Home, Lifetouch, Maika Taylor (makeup), David Hallock, Bret Hughes and Nick Lattmer (audio), Laura Maurer and parent volunteers, and Suze Weir for her dedication in organizing everyone year after year.
Have a wonderful Prom, Seniors, and a long and happy future.
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Mandatory sentencing is not the answer
In regards to HR 1475 (Good Time Bill) reintroduced to Congress by Rep. Danny Davis (Ill.) on March 12, 2009, to reinstate federal parole, to amend Title 18, restore the former system of good-time allowances toward service of federal prison terms and other purposes:
Americans want results, not stiffer sentencing. Increased good time will save the U.S. taxpayers a minimum of $2 billion per year by taking offenders out of the system earlier and reducing inmate populations. Currently the BOP (Bureau of Prisons) is approaching 40% over capacity. Good time rewards inmates who show positive behavior. Early release would not be a guarantee, but would allow a 2nd chance to those who prove they are deserving of such.
The cost of housing an inmate for 12 months is roughly $40,000 and nearly doubles for inmates with medical issues. Since inmates earned to be in prison, they should earn the right to be out. There are over 203,000 federal inmates; the majority are first-time and/or nonviolent offenders. The BOP is going to triple-bunking due to lack of bed space. This only heightens tension and in turn makes it more dangerous for staff and inmates. We can change the way the judicial system enforces punishment. Federal inmates need incentive to strive to better themselves for earlier release. Our society will benefit, the families of inmates will benefit. The USA locks up more people than any other country.
I urge our leaders to cosponsor HR 1475. I personally write to the Utah representatives on a regular basis regarding HR 1475. The "Cuff ’em & Stuff ’em" attitude IS NOT WORKING. Mandatory minimum sentencing is not the answer. The organization Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) has just recently been given the go-ahead to present to the U.S. Sentencing Commission the facts and figures and supporters of this cause. Anyone who is interested in HR 1475 can go to http://www.change.org and show support, or not.
Judge candidates were kept in the dark
Regarding the County’s appointment of a new county judge and whether that appointment was fair, I know two very qualified people who completed and submitted an application form – a very detailed fourteen-page document – and neither received invitations to interview. In fact, they didn’t even receive letters acknowledging their applications, thanking them for applying, or informing them that someone else had been chosen. Perhaps we should forgive members of the nominating commission for their lack of courtesy, but they ought to at least tell us how many applicants they actually interviewed.
Only one qualified local applicant?
I have questions about how Summit County appointed Ms. Shauna Kerr as the new Justice Court judge.
It used to be that local mayors or county officials chose justices of the peace without outside input, which resulted in many abuses. Recently, however, the legislature has made some changes in the appointment process. Now, a five-member nominating commission reviews applications and conducts interviews, then gives the "county executive" (in our case, the county manager) a short list of qualified applicants, and the county appoints a new judge from the names on that list.
The new procedure’s purpose is to make the appointment process impartial. However, in my opinion, Ms. Kerr’s appointment leaves an appearance of impropriety. There were too many of her friends and colleagues on the nominating commission: a former county commissioner who served with her when she was a county commissioner, two of her fellow lawyers, and a Park City developer who has had many dealings with Ms. Kerr and other county commissioners. Also, because the final list of three nominees included Ms. Kerr and two residents of Salt Lake County, it appears that the nominating commission wedged Ms. Kerr between the two nonresidents in order to ensure her selection.
In other words, something seems very wrong here, and I think we deserve an explanation. Was there really only one qualified applicant from all of Summit County?