Better mental health care • The Salt Lake County Council has done the right thing in ordering an audit of its mental health care system. Valley Mental Health, a key provider for county patients, cut as many as 2,000 clients from its rolls. Many of those who struggle with mental illness now also must struggle to find care. That is unacceptable. Providing care for the mentally ill has been and should continue to be a primary function of county government. Finding the best possible way to deliver that service should be a top priority for the council and Mayor Ben McAdams. The proposed audit also rightly includes a directive to get county representatives – either elected officials or staff members – on the board of directors of the nonprofit Valley Mental. More direct oversight could help prevent future situations like this one.
A peaceful protest • It was a peaceful protest that made a point without anyone getting hurt. And local law enforcers deserve credit for allowing it to happen. Dozens of protesters from the groups Canyon Country Rising Tide and Peaceful Uprising, along with others, stopped road building on Seep Ridge Road in the Book Cliffs area, a road that will serve a tar sands strip mine to be operated by Calgary-based U.S. Oil Sands. The groups also interrupted mining at the East Tavaputs Plateau site. Protesters surrounded heavy equipment, and some chained themselves to bulldozers and earthmovers. Uintah County Chief Deputy Sheriff John Laursen said the sheriff's department just tried to keep the 50 to 60 protesters and workers safe during the demonstration. The protesters are right: Tar-sands development is a threat to pristine and fragile land like the Book Cliffs. The sheriff's department was also right: The message should be made peacefully.