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More Dogs on Main Street

Tom Clyde, Record columnist

For the last couple of years, Sundance has been pretty lame. Normally, we can count on them to bring some serious snow. Last year, with their budget cutbacks, things really went to pot. I don’t think they came through with a single flake. If it’s not going to snow during Sundance, what’s the point?

This year, though, things look different. Early in the week, when Sundance was only a faint haze of cigar smoke over Main Street and the traffic was barely choked, we got snow. It was the first snow in so long that I had to jump-start the tractor to plow it. We may have gone a month with nothing to speak of, and then, with only the advance team of black-clad mourners here, and before anybody could even say "milieu," winter returned. It’s about time. Things were so bad that I was afraid I might have to go to a movie. The skiing got substantially better immediately, and the new skis that I bought at the end of last season will finally see the light of day, or at least the white of powder.

Sundance isn’t the only carnival in town. We’ve got the Utah Legislature gearing up for another year’s malfeasance. If some screenwriter wanted to, there are a couple of pretty good movies to be made at the legislature. For starters, Sheldon Killpack, the Senate majority leader, got busted for DUI and had the sense to resign. I don’t know about you, but I call that a pretty good start. The more of these guys we can put in jail, the less damage they can do.

Killpack is from a very conservative district in Davis County. It’s one thing for him to sponsor all kinds of legislation that shovels state money to proprietary charter schools while being in the business of building proprietary charter schools. But it’s quite another to partake of demon liquor. The good people of Davis County are not going to sit still for that I mean the part about the liquor.

Not that they should. Drunk driving is not a trifling matter. But neither is using his legislative position to more or less create his private business. Booze is a non-starter. The self-serving legislation about charter schools is perfectly OK.

Then we have another legislator, whose name I forget but is surely a Republican because they pretty much all are (and they let the Democrats sponsor bills), who has decided that the only way to resolve the question about wolf reintroduction is to kill all the wolves. He has introduced a bill to that effect. With the state’s budget in trouble and revenue collapsing, wolves seem like something that could be on the back burner for a while. The issue is fully covered by federal law, and there isn’t a whole lot Utah is going to do about wolves. But they will surely spend days on the issue, primarily as a way to rail against the federal government’s jack-booted intrusion on state’s rights. Meanwhile, they will be working as hard as they can to milk every federal dime out of the dreaded stimulus bill.

Not all of the legislative action is in the capitol. One of the representatives covering the much-gerrymandered Summit County is Christine Johnson, who I believe is the only openly gay member of the legislature. She may also be the only Democrat. She’s made news announcing that she is acting as a surrogate mother for a couple of gay friends who were stymied by the adoption process. That’s a story that would have people all over the state spewing their morning Postum, if they still made Postum. While that may not fit the traditional definition of being in the family way, she said on the radio that, so far, her legislative colleagues have been supportive. It’s very hard to take a stand against motherhood in Utah. But it would make a great documentary.

And then there is school equalization. The instructional side of school budgets has been equalized statewide for years. A school in Piute County gets the same state funding per pupil that Park City does. Now they want to do the same with the capital budgets. It sounds like socialism to me. In the long run, it’s probably not a bad idea. A lot of the pupils in school districts adjacent to Park City are there because their parents work in Park City. The neighboring districts don’t benefit from Park City property taxes but are forced to build new buildings.

The down side is that the wealthy school districts (which is a list of one Park City) have borrowed money based on their tax base. If Davis County schools want to share in the Park City district’s property-tax revenue, maybe they should be sharing in the bond payments, too.

It promises to be an entertaining session.

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.


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