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Mitt Romney Announces 2018 Senate Run

On February 16, 2018, Mitt Romney announced that he is running for the Utah Senate seat being vacated by Orrin Hatch who is retiring at the end of his term. Romney posted a video announcing his campaign for the seat saying, “I am running for United States Senate to serve the people of Utah and bring Utah’s values to Washington.”

While many have viewed Romneys running a foregone conclusion, with polls showing him far and away the favored candidate, some have expressed concerns regarding the perceived inevitability of Romney winning the seat. Some criticism has even come from the Utah Republican Party Chairman, Rob Anderson. In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune Anderson stated, “I think he’s keeping out candidates that I think would be a better fit for Utah because, let’s face it, Mitt Romney doesn’t live here, his kids weren’t born here, he doesn’t shop here.” In addition to that, Anderson noted Romney’s history of criticizing President Trump.

These comments reflect the fact that Romney has a long history in the national political spotlight. His political career includes a run for the Massachusetts Senate seat that was held by Ted Kennedy, a stint as governor of that state, and two failed bids for the presidency, one of which he clinched the Republican nomination and lost to President Obama. Some have even drawn parallels between Romney and Hillary Clinton, noting similarities in their political ascendancy. Both ran for Senate seats in states where they hadn’t historically lived.

Quickly after the statements came to light, Anderson released a statement apologizing for the tone of his comments saying, “Pursuant to an article today in the Salt Lake Tribune, I regret that my comments about potential Senatorial candidate, Mitt Romney, came across as disparaging or unsupportive.” He may have faced some backlash from Romney supporters in the state. Some polls show him having a nearly 70 percent approval rating.

Chairman Anderson is not the only one criticizing Romney’s decision to run. State Auditor John Dougall said, “We need to talk about what we want out U.S. senator to be rather than talk about who it should be. As an auditor, I know that single-source bidding is no way to do business.” Dougall too notes the tense relationship between Trump and Romney and has suggested that Utah requires representatives that will work with Trump to fulfill his agenda.

Swedish Meatball Recipe

Meatballs, while seemingly simple, require a degree of skill to bring to the level of sublime. I have tried many times (ending in failure) and have finally found the way to make them sublime. Instead of throwing dry breadcrumbs into the meat mixture, this method soaks bread in milk, creating a somewhat undesirable looking slurry that binds and locks in moisture. The texture of these meatballs blew me away, and this template could be used to create any style of meatball whether that be Italian, Middle Eastern, Asian, etc.

I should say a word about blending different ground meats. I am a proponent of this, for a few reasons. Darker meats such as beef, lamb, and venison, can make the meatballs too strongly flavored. Most recipes call for the addition of pork or veal. I have found that pork, while adding volume for less money, balances the flavors as well. The addition of pork fat is helpful too because it is a cleaner flavor. With the Swedish meatballs recipe, I think it is important to add a fair amount of pork or veal due to the richness of the cream sauce. Otherwise, it would be a little too much. I utilized a three-part mixture of beef, lamb, and pork.

 

½ lb ground beef

½ lb ground lamb

½ lb of ground pork

1 medum onion minced

4 cloves garlic minced

1 cup of milk

2 eggs

2-3 slices of crusty bread

½ tsp allspice

Pinch nutmeg

Parsley

Salt and pepper

1 cup cream

3 cups beef stock

¼ cup flour

Olive oil

2-3 dashes Worcestershire

Egg noodles

 

Start by combining bread and milk. In a separate bowl, combine the meat along with the onion, garlic, allspice, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Mix well to incorporate seasonings fully. Make a small patty to cook and taste for seasoning; adjust accordingly. Crush the bread and milk mixture into a slurry and combine with the meat mixture, along with the eggs. Mix well and form into large meatballs.

In a large pan, add olive oil and place over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the meatballs in a counter-clockwise fashion to better gauge timing. Brown evenly in batches, moving seared meatballs to a baking tray. When finished browning, remove any excess fat (there should be a couple of tablespoons). Add flour and incorporate into the fat, adding broth soon after and stirring to remove any bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the meatballs back into the pan along with any juices that have accumulated on the tray. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until they are cooked through.

When the meatballs are finished, pour the cream along with a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce into the pan. Stir to incorporate the sauce. Be sure that the sauce is not boiling. Otherwise, the cream may curdle. Add parsley and serve, along with a couple spoonful’s of sauce over egg noodles.

 

Water Impact Fees to be Reduced

The councils of Colorado City Arizona and Hildale Utah have adopted resolutions to reduce water impact fees by 180 dollars. This action was in response to the court order in the case of United States of America v. Town of Colorado City, Arizona, et al., which found that the Twin Cities had illegally discriminated based on religion.

The court ordered that the Twin Cities modify their water development impact fees if an independent review found that they were too high. The review was undertaken by Alpha Engineering, based upon water usage data from 2011 to 2013, a Water Rights Purchase Analysis, and meetings with local government officials and the UEP Trust.

While the report did find that the impact fees could be lowered by $180, one glaring element is the Water Rights Purchase Analysis. According to the report, “In our meetings with the UEP, it was reported that additional water rights for the City of Hildale could be provided at no cost to the community provided the impact fee was reduced to an amount agreeable to the UEP. It was also reported that water rights could be obtained in Arizona for no cost, which the IFFP [original analysis] considered.”

Documentation provided to the review team showed that there were meetings between the UEP and city officials in 2015 but that no agreement could be reached on, what appears to be, free water rights offered by the UEP. The UEP’s only stipulations were legal assurances that those water rights would not be sold by the cities so that the benefit would go to residents in the form of lower fees.

The city of Hildale then acquired water rights elsewhere, for a price tag of $355,600.00 which increased impact fees. The report says, “From our discussions with the UEP, it is our understanding that they maintain the position that they are willing to provide the water rights needed as part of the IFFP at no cost, provided the impact fee is reduced an amount proportionate to the credit given.”

The second point in the summary of the report says, “Water rights held by the UEP may be available at no cost, but the Client has already purchased water rights which were within the limits of the costs provided in the IFFP.” According to statements made at the meeting, there were no impact fees before 2014.   

The cities will be required to undertake a new analysis within the next few years. That process will consider new data, perhaps giving a clearer picture of where the communities water needs are and may head if current trends persist. Many of the council members and the mayor expressed their desire to bring those fees down as much as possible.

 

Hiking Cottonwood Point

The Cottonwood Point Wilderness Area is another one of the lesser known and traveled spaces in the Short Creek Area. It borders the better-known Canaan Mountain Wilderness Area, which is where the Water Canyon and Squirrel Creek Hikes are. Due to the rugged terrain and limited trail or road access, few venture into the area, except for the occasional horseback rider or hiker. The easiest way to access Cottonwood Point is by an old stock trail. From a distance, it doesn’t appear that there is a way up, but with minimal route finding, you can make it up top where a tremendous view of the surrounding area awaits.

Reaching the trailhead is quite easy, although you may need a high clearance vehicle depending on the condition of the road. From Highway 389, take Canebeds Road heading east. There are a gate and trail off to the left about a quarter mile in. Take this road north until it reaches the foothills of Cottonwood Point. Head up the sandy hill. The trail diverges but leads to the same place. Once you reach the top, it is better defined. Again, the path splits only to connect again as you continue heading north.  This portion of the hike is less than a quarter mile. Your destination is visible and will serve as a guide and you will begin to see cairns (stacks of rocks), which mark the way.

About half a mile into the hike, you begin the ascent to the peak. This portion of the trek gets very steep in some places, so be sure to bring good hiking boots. There are portions of the trail that are comprised of loose gravel. Along the way, keep a close eye out for the direction of the trail and cairns. There are a couple of spots where the trail seemingly disappears. When I am doing this hike, I tend to stop at the cairns and look for another to ensure that I have not missed the way.

Another feature of this trek is a lone petroglyph of a man. I have walked past this petroglyph multiple times. It is weathered, and the orientation of the rock doesn’t allow light to cast shadows bringing it into relief. Its positioning suggests to me that it may have marked the trail for Native American hunters. It is the easiest way to get up on top of the mountain and there are always mule deer up there. I have seen herds of 30 or more on multiple occasions. The BLM website information says that it is prime habitat for mountain lion and lynx as well.

Once on top, you will be able to see a staggering variety of features.  To the south, you will see the volcanic formations near the Grand Canyon and the Kaibab Plateau. To the west are Lost Springs Mesa, Little Creek Mesa (where the Cinder Knoll is), and the Hurricane Cliffs. Pine Valley Mountain and Canaan Mountain can be seen to the north. You can even spot portions of Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Elephant Buttes, Pink Cliffs and more. The rock formations of Cottonwood Point Wilderness Area are varied and worthwhile viewing in themselves. Many of them resemble beehives or Indian temples.  

It is rare to see any signs of travel, aside from animals. If you wander away from the cliffside, there is an overwhelming stillness, seldom broken except by wind or overhead air travel. From this point, one could adventure further or simply head back down. There is cell service for much of the hike, but it becomes patchy as you go along. Any adventure in this terrain should be had with the utmost precaution. Not long ago, a woman nearly lost her life after falling into a slot canyon. Search, and rescue would not have found her had she not had a whistle to alert them as to her whereabouts. As always be careful, follow safety protocol, and enjoy.

 

Hildale Government Nominations and Retirements

Hildale has recently seen several city employees retire after the new city council members and Mayor took their positions in city government. Among those positions, are the City Recorder and City Treasurer, along with various other support positions. The hiring process requires a considerable degree of cooperation between both city governments due to an intergovernmental relationship that has evolved between the two cities. Many constituents who voted for the new council members and mayor for Hildale have long expressed concerns about nepotism in municipal government.

With the departure of high-level administrative positions, there was a need to fill the positions quickly and transparently. Mayor Donia Jessop organized hiring boards using a defined ranking criterion to narrow her nomination decisions to bring before the city council. The hiring board consisted of municipal officers from surrounding cities as well as current and former Hildale city officials.

In the February 13, 2018, council meeting, Mayor Donia brought a nomination before the council. Some council members had concerns about the hiring process. They requested more time to review the criteria used and an opportunity to contemplate the decision. They tabled the decision until February 15, 2018, to understand the process better.

After a lengthy executive session in the latter meeting, Mayor Donia put forth nominations for the positions of Treasurer and Recorder. Vinson Barlow was nominated to be the City Recorder. Mayor Donia cited his previous experience in various municipal capacities in the past. John Barlow was nominated to be the City Treasurer. Both nominees were confirmed by the council with Doran Jessop abstaining and Brian Jessop not present.

The nominees then came before the Colorado City Council for approval. The salaries for Hildale City employees are run through various Inter-Governmental Associations. As the cities have grown together, relying on much of the same infrastructure, they have worked very closely in nearly every aspect of governance.  

Edit: A previous version of this article stated that Colorado City subsidizes the pay of Hildale Employees. That was inaccurate. They pay for services rendered by those employees.

 

Utah Teachers May See Pay Increase

Utah teachers may see an increase in their salaries as Utah legislators deliberate on the best use for funds trimmed from state budget spending. The cuts amount to $69 million and many lawmakers favor allocating around half of those funds to teacher pay, a potential $2000 raise. On average, Utah teacher salaries ranged from $33,852 to $48,291 according to 2013-2014 data from the Utah Education Association.

Additionally, lawmakers are considering an increase in what is called the Weighted Pupil Unit—the primary funding formula for Utah’s education system. This could bring further increases, amounting to hundreds or thousands in teacher pay depending on how local school districts decide to allocate the funds.

The subject of education is at the forefront of issues this legislative session. Utah has been ranked among the lowest in the nation in the pupil to teacher ratio. Half of new teachers quit within their first five years.

Utah is last in the nation for per-pupil funding. There is also a shortage in STEM and Special Education teachers. Some believe those issues could, in part, be attributed to teacher pay. Without competitive pay, much of the talent is drawn to other more lucrative fields.

There is also a movement to bring a ballot initiative before voters in November to consider increasing sales and income taxes to pay for a $700 million a year increase in education funding. It would provide each Utah school nearly $1000 more per enrolled student.

 

Colorado City Seeks New Chief Marshal

The Colorado City Town Council voted to replace Chief Marshal Jerry Darger on February 11, 2018, Town Council meeting. Mayor Joseph Allred suggested during the meeting that, although Chief Darger has done an “overall good job” performing his duties and working to fulfill the requirements of the court injunction, he felt that the Marshals office would be better off to seek a new Chief Marshal.  

Mayor Allred cited comments from the court monitor and the police consultant that the police departments progress has been slow. He also said that there had been some negative reporting to the court regarding the police departments progress toward meeting the court’s requirements.

“I wanted to discuss this item with the council and see if maybe the time has come for us to have somebody else, maybe somebody who has more experience, who can bring the department forward,” said Mayor Allred. “I know that Jerry has done a good job within his scope and abilities.” He suggested to the council that they consider bringing in somebody from an outside police force to lead the department, someone with more leadership and managerial experience.

Some comments in defense of Chief Darger were brought forth by Hildale Councilmembers Jared Nicol and JVar Dutson. Nicol stated, “I feel like he’s doing a wonderful job. He’s shown a willingness to take the recommendations from the judge and move forward in a positive direction.”

Dutson said, “I know there was a DOJ case and there were things he was asked to do. I have only heard that he has done nothing but try to the best of his ability to bring the department up to standard. I have not heard anything negative.” City Manager David Darger suggested during the meeting that the Hildale council had expressed concern with Chief Darger’s performance.

Chief Darger was asked to comment and said, “I got into law enforcement for the community. I took on the position of Police Chief for the community. If it’s the best thing for the community, I’ll respect your decision on it.” The council replaced Chief Darger with Sam Johnson, pending a 30-day transition period and a letter of accommodation. The vote was unanimous.

Based on comments by City Manager David Darger, discussions with the police consultant led to the conclusion that none of the current members of the Colorado City Marshals office have the supervisory skills required for the Chiefs position. The council then went on to consider advertising for a Sergeant’s and a Chief Marshal position. The reasoning behind this move was to beef up the administrative side of the Marshal’s office as many of the patrol and administrative functions were mixed. Sam Johnson would retain his post as a sergeant but would be considered a patrol sergeant. The council voted unanimously to advertise for the two positions.