Utah’s governor has reached an agreement with the Obama administration that could get Utah’s national parks open again, though many details are still being worked out.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told Governor Gary Herbert the state of Utah will be allowed to use its own money to pay for operations of Utah’s five national parks and another eight national monuments. They’ve been closed since the federal government was shut down October 1st.
Ally Isom, the governor’s spokesperson, says there’s still a lot of work to do before the gates are unlocked.
Several counties in southern Utah have declared a state of emergency over the closure of the state’s national parks and monuments. And Utah’s governor is among those demanding action now to get them open again.
Iron County Commissioner Dave Miller says the federal government shutdown is causing economic hardship in southern Utah. If nothing happens in Washington DC to re-open the parks, he says local sheriffs may take action on their own. Miller doesn’t think federal park rangers will stand in the way.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert introduced Representative Spencer Cox as his nominee to replace Lt. Governor Greg Bell today at the State Capitol. Cox is a lawyer and currently a member of the Utah House of Representatives. He has also served as the mayor of Fairview and is the CEO of a rural telecommunications company. Cox says he is humbled by the opportunity to serve and hopes to live up as best as he can to the legacy of Greg Bell.
The government shutdown is already having a big impact on businesses that serve visitors in rural Utah – and on local governments.
Garfield County depends on tourism for 70-percent of its annual revenue – mostly from visitors to Bryce Canyon National Park. With the park closed, Commissioner Leland Pollock is hoping visitors won’t cancel their trips – and he says the shutdown underscores the conflict with federal authorities over roads across public land.
A group that wants to change Utah’s caucus-convention system for nominating candidates began its campaign this morning. Count My Vote wants to allow candidates to qualify for primary election ballots using petitions signed by voters.
The group’s leaders include former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt and Norma Matheson, the wife of Utah’s last Democratic governor and the mother of Congressman Jim Matheson. She says the current system leaves too many voters out of the nomination process.
Utah Lieutenant Governor Greg Bell announced his resignation Monday. Bell says financial pressures are making it tough to stay in the job he’s held since 2009.
Bell told reporters he’s about to turn 65 and he needs to save money for retirement. He was in the real estate business before he was appointed Lieutenant Governor, and he says the recession was pretty tough.
A week before their second meeting, the House Special Investigative Committee is already collecting documents and creating a list of potential witnesses as it looks into allegations against Utah Attorney General John Swallow.
There was a packed house for Utah Congressman Chris Stewart’s Town Hall in Salt Lake City last night. In fact, there were many who didn’t get into the small library conference room in the Avenues neighborhood. Constituents had questions about the Congressman’s stance on environmental protection, immigration reform, and military action in Syria, but a number of people left feeling they did not have their voices heard.
In the wake of Murray mayoral candidate David Wilde withdrawing from the race for health reasons, voters in Murray will have only one box to check on in November. The primary’s third place finisher says he won’t mount a ballot write-in campaign.
City Attorney Frank Nakamura says state law prohibits the third place finisher in a non-partisan race from moving up. City Councilman Jim Brass placed a very close third to Wilde. Brass says his campaign was shocked at first by the announcement of a third place finish but he’s fine with it now.
The state auditor’s office released a report this week showing that many agencies don’t have internal auditors even when the law requires them.
State law requires 11 state departments to have internal auditors, and a new report from the state auditor’s office says four of them do not – Agriculture, Commerce, Environmental Quality and Public Safety.
Salt Lake City Councilman Charlie Luke is moving forward with what he says is a broad scoped inquiry into the death of Jerry the draft horse. The Carriage for Hire horse collapsed on a downtown street nearly a week and a half ago and several days later died. The owners didn't announce the death until Monday. Luke says he met with the owners and horses of the Carriage for Hire Tuesday. He says he’s looking at many factors related to the horse collapse including the specific incident itself and even best practices around the country.
Dr. Lobsang Sangay is the Prime Minister of Tibet, but he oversees his country from India as an exile while China continues its Tibetan occupation. He landed in Salt Lake City on Tuesday and spoke at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law. In the evening the Utah Tibetan Association and Zions Bank hosted a reception for him in downtown Salt Lake. KUER’s Terry Gildea caught up with Dr. Sangay at the Grand America Hotel to ask him about his role as an exiled leader and about his relationship with Utah’s Tibetan Community.
Utah Republican Party chairman James Evans addressed the media today about inflammatory comments made by Salt Lake County GOP Chairman Chad Bennion. Evans’ comments come more than a week after Bennion first said that District Attorney Sim Gill might be a cop hater and then helped promote a rally aimed against him.
This week, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean attended two rallies in Utah in an effort to get more voters to register as Democrats. The former chairman of the Democratic National Committee says he’s not discouraged by the numbers: only 25% of voters in Utah cast ballots as Democrats. KUER’s Terry Gildea sat down with Dean to talk about the challenges of cultivating Democrats in a red state and about his own political future.
Former Vermont Governor and presidential hopeful Howard Dean will be in Utah today hoping to motivate Democrats more than a year ahead of midterm elections. KUER’s Terry Gildea reports.
Dean served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009. His visit to Utah on Monday isn’t under the official banner of the party, but he does hope to get grassroots volunteers excited about recruiting more Democratic voters in a state many believe to be held strongly by Republicans.
Seven candidates for Mayor of West Valley City are now running campaigns. That long list may be a good sign the city is set to put an equa lly long list of struggles behind it. From where I’m standing near the new Fairbourne TRAX station in West Valley City, on the water stairs in the park next to the TRAX station, facing east I see the newly restored Valley Fair Mall bustling with shoppers, right in front of me the City Offices and the beautiful new Embassy Suites Hotel is to my left just beyond the TRAX line.
Last week Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill determined that two West Valley City detectives were not justified in their shooting of an unarmed woman. In response, the County’s GOP Chairman Chad Bennion offered some harsh criticism of Gill that isn’t sitting well with some.
Cities and towns across Utah, from Big Water to Smithfield, are holding primary elections August 13th, narrowing the field of candidates for mayor and city council positions. There’s one town in Sanpete County where the mayoral primary has drawn intense interest this year.
About a hundred people gathered in the Wasatch Academy gymnasium in Mount Pleasant for a ‘Meet the Candidates’ night on July 31st. It was another indication of the intense interest in this year’s municipal election – something this town of 28-hundred hasn’t always shown in the past.
Governor Gary Herbert’s Senior Environmental Advisor, Alan Matheson, is adding the duties of the State Planning Coordinator to his job in the governor’s office. The governor’s communications deputy Ally Isom says demand for Matheson’s experience in balanced resource management will be important in his added role.