Partners on the land • It seems Gov. Gary Herbert and Utah's Rep. Rob Bishop are in sync about what they really want for the federal lands in the Beehive State. Bishop likes to call his concept a "grand bargain," while Herbert and his cohorts in the Legislature refer to their initiative, incorrectly, as "taking back" title to federal lands. But, when it comes right down to it, their ends are the same, or as Herbert puts it, "complementary." Bishop says he wants to bring together all sides of the land management issue: environmentalists, local officials, ranchers, extractive industries, members of Congress. Herbert and legislators avoid the niceties and simply demand Congress turn over title. No matter the means, all like-minded Republicans in Utah, in the end, want to turn over most of the land to developers a shortsighted goal that ignores the best long-term land uses, including outdoor recreation and tourism.
Partners in law • Salt Lake County rightly recognizes that there are many types of committed relationships beyond the traditional ones involving husband, wife and children. Of course, there are same-sex couples, but there are also partnerships between other related individuals and unrelated people. To provide those who share a "mutual commitment" with access to county services, the County Council is considering a "registry for adult relationships of financial dependence or interdependence." The idea is to make services like family passes to recreation centers available to more people. To be listed on the registry, two people would have to prove they have entered into financial contracts, have awarded mutual power of attorney, joint bank accounts and other documents. A thusly "codified" relationship would benefit both partners and help create a more stable community.
Partners on the river • How do you say "I can't be friends with you anymore"? Utah House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Ogden, asks a very good question. Nobody is insisting he cut off all contact with his buddy, former House Speaker Greg Curtis, now a lobbyist. But joining Curtis and other lobbyists on a trip to Europe crosses a line that all elected representatives should be careful to avoid if they want to maintain credibility with their constituents. Dee and Rob Jolley, Dave Stewart, Curtis and their wives spent eight days on the Rhine River. We believe, as Dee says, that each couple paid their own way, and specific policy issues were not discussed. Still, several clients of these lobbyists were cities that received millions in earmarks for road projects through a major bill that Dee sponsored the past two years. While none of the Legislature's soft ethics rules were broken, this just smells bad.