Short takes on the news

This is an archived article that was published on in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A need for compassion • Banning smoking inside government-subsidized housing units is a reasonable way to cut the costs of maintenance and cleaning, and it could prevent fires. But a Layton housing manager is going too far by banning smoking anywhere inside, or outside, in the apartment complex for low-income people. Other subsidized-housing managers in Utah have provided places outside where residents can smoke and be sheltered from the weather, but apparently the Slyline View Apartments manager hopes to induce residents to quit smoking by forcing them out of their homes. That isn't likely to work, and a forced move will be expensive for people who can't afford more expenses. Compassion may be more in line.

A matter of responsibility • People driving Utah highways with improperly secured loads have left everything — including a kitchen sink — in traffic lanes where they cause sometimes fatal accidents for other motorists. In 2012, items that had fallen from vehicles caused 710 accidents and one death — a motorcyclist who hit a mattress on Interstate 15 in Box Elder County. That destruction is utterly preventable as well as illegal. Those who throw litter onto the highways or fail to adequately secure loads of trash or other items are liable for at least a $200 fine on a first offense. Commercial drivers can be fined at least $500. The debris can damage vehicles, whether or not it causes an accident. And it's a dangerous proposition for officers to remove it from a highway where vehicles are hurtling past at 80 mph. If you think something will somehow stay in a truck or trailer without being tied down, you're wrong.

A state of drought • Utah's reservoirs are at a low water level that's more commonly seen in late August. Streams carrying runoff from a second winter of skimpy mountain snowpack peaked long before the usual date. The Beehive State is likely to see temperatures hitting July-like highs this weekend. All that bodes ill for Utah farmers and ranchers. In some areas, irrigation water is already gone, and in others it will evaporate at least a month early. The Weber Basin Conservancy District has decided to reduce its promised irrigation delivery by 20 percent. Some farmers are hoping for rain to augment disappearing irrigation water, but that's a thin hope. Climate change is already bringing the heat, wildfires, drought and reduced snowpack that scientists have predicted for years. Legislators and Congress members continue to ignore it and hope that will make it go away, even though the consequences are there to see.