More Dogs on Main Street |

More Dogs on Main Street

Tom Clyde, Record columnist

My father was something of a fanatic about turning out the lights around the house. It was a little ironic. He would put a couple of thousand Christmas lights in the big spruce tree on the front lawn, then have a fit if somebody left the bathroom light on. The acorn doesn’t fall too far from the tree, as they say, and I have to admit to being cheap when it comes to the power bill. Even in the dead of winter, with the hot tub fired up to a slow boil, my power bill never breaks $75 bucks. That’s got some extra for wind power in there, the water pump, and all the normal stuff you have around the house. In the summer, it’s usually under $25.

This fixation with turning off the lights sort of bleeds over the property lines, and I will admit to paying attention to things like street lights and parking-lot lights that are on in the middle of the day, or on for no reason. The one that I watch most closely is a street light in Woodland. You could make a pretty reasonable argument that there is no reason to have any street lights in Woodland. But there are two, maybe three. That’s about one street light per hundred people.

The one at the intersection by church, in the tough urban core of Woodland, shines brightly right up until the time a car approaches the intersection. As soon as the car’s headlights shine in the general direction of the street light, the sensor decides it must be noon and shuts the light off. So it dutifully lights the intersection when there is nobody there, but plunges into darkness at the only time the light might be of any value at all. It’s been doing that for at least the 25 years I’ve lived here full time. Since the intersection is dark whenever there is traffic (which isn’t very often), we might as well just turn it off completely.

There is a similar situation at the intersection on Hwy 248 and Jordanelle Parkway/Browns Canyon. It switches off when a car approaches. Of course there are a couple of hundred street lights illuminating the eerie, vacant streets of the newly constructed ghost towns around Jordanelle. Whole hillsides are lit up, showing the fire hydrants and cul-de-sacs of vacant lots and abandoned condo projects. I suppose the lights perform some security function around the buildings, but surely we don’t need to be burning coal to light up the streets in front of all those vacant lots. I’m not sure who picks up the power bill on those, but somebody is paying to light up deserted streets.

It’s not just street lights. For a couple of weeks, the City’s parking lot on the prairie, out there in the tailings pond, was shining bright all night long, despite being unfinished. I mentioned that to a friend at City Hall and she fixed it the next day. There were a bunch of lights in Swede Alley that stayed on all day. The parking-lot lights at the Park City High School are on in the middle of the afternoon. Nobody got around to adjusting the timer on the system after the last power failure, so in the darkest hours of the night, when the security function is probably justified, they would be off. The same is true of the church in Francis.

There are a whole lot of those lights that don’t need to be on, ever. But we really ought to be able to figure out a way to shut them off during daylight hours.

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Changing gears, I recently talked to an old friend who lives in New York. He admits to knowing a bunch of Wall Street people, though he is not one of them. I asked what happened to these folks when the financial system imploded. I wanted to know what the consequences were to a 30-year-old who was trading billions of dollars a day with a speed and verve that comes from years of playing video games. Transactions that used to involve months of due diligence were being flipped three times before the morning coffee break. Most places I’ve worked, if you lost the company $100 million or so, there would be consequences. You would at least lose your parking space.

So what was happening to employees at Citi, BofA, or Merrill? Well, according to my friend, it was just terrible. Some of their bonuses were cut by 10 or 15 percent, and in the case of one guy he knew of, who was personally responsible for trading losses of close to a billion (with a "B"), there was a negative comment added to his personnel file.

Tom Clyde served as Park City attorney in the 1980s and is the author of "More Dogs On Main Street." He has been a columnist at The Park Record for more than 20 years.