Two hundred and six years ago, guests at a political dinner party in Boston let their creative juices flow as they talked of how upset they were at a new state senate district map that was drawn by the Democratic-Republican majority and signed into law by Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry.
The way Smithsonian.com describes it, an illustrator at the party by the name of Elkanah Tisdale sketched a map of one district and attached claws and a head to it (making this an appropriate story for Halloween). Someone said it looked like a salamander. Someone else said no, call it a “Gerry-mander,” after the governor.
You can imagine the laughter and merriment.
Nations do not trade with other nations. That’s a truth that often gets lost in all the shouting about trade wars and tariffs in Washington these days.
Trade is personal. It begins with a handshake, maybe a meal. Deals are struck when two sides find it mutually beneficial.
Which is why, while the Trump administration ramps up its trade war with China, and while the South China Morning Post breathlessly reported Wednesday that the price of a baseball cap may rise by 25 percent while the World Series is underway, states are carrying on as if nothing is happening.
By the time you read this, someone in the nation may be an instant billionaire, winner of the record $1.6 billion Mega Millions lottery that was to hold another drawing late Tuesday night. If so, he or she will be smiling and a bit giddy over an instant fortune that would make even Jed Clampett envious.
Or maybe a lucky group of coworkers will be in the winner’s circle at the press conference, wondering whether they can split the winnings the way they promised in the beginning and still remain friends.
Election Day is here, or not.
It may be tomorrow, or the day after that. It might have been last week. It’s up to you, really.
Actually, the word “day” is obsolete in this context. “Voting season” might be a better way to put it, and it’s changing democracy. Exactly how remains a mystery, however.
Yes, Election Day officially is Nov. 6, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. But that’s now more a deadline than an event.
Audits seldom harbor literary gems or pearls of wisdom, but when it comes to cutting to the heart of a matter, you could do worse than this sentence, buried on page 17 of a Legislative Auditor General’s report on the performance of the state Board of Regents, which governs higher education in Utah:
“Comparatively low tuition does not absolve the Board of Regents of its oversight responsibilities.”
It ain’t Shakespeare, but it sounds like poetic justice.
It shouldn’t sound as difficult as it does.
During his recent visit to Provo to speak to the International Law and Religious Symposium at Brigham Young University, Sam Brownback seemed to wonder why the plight of people being persecuted, tortured and killed worldwide for their beliefs hasn’t generated more outrage in the United States.
Human trafficking, after all, has developed a grass-roots synergy in recent years that raised awareness, changed laws and put a spotlight on problems worldwide.
But religious freedom?
Utahns may not get to vote both early and often, the way Chicago’s election hucksters once urged, but beginning with next year’s municipal elections they could get to vote early and for more than one candidate.
No kidding. Ranked-choice voting could be coming to a race near you.
This would be an attempt to answer the age-old question of American democracy:
If you live in Salt Lake City, you probably don’t think homelessness is being solved.
A new poll commissioned by Utahpolicy.com found that 45 percent say homelessness and panhandling are about the same today as when a coalition of state, county and city leaders began a concerted crackdown a little more than a year ago.
Another 24 percent said the problem has gotten worse. That’s a combined 69 percent of city residents who say, regardless of what official crime figures might indicate, the plan isn’t working.
Consider a few recent news stories. Then ask yourself how each one made you feel.
The first is a Utahjazz.com report about former Jazz guard Deron Williams, who met with former coach Jerry Sloan at Sloan’s house during the summer and apologized for the way he acted when he was with the team.
Sloan retired from coaching suddenly back in 2011 after a simmering feud between the two men climaxed during halftime of a game. He left the next day, and the team traded Williams a few days later.
Sometime today the prison doors will open, and Wanda Barzee, the woman who supported her husband, Brian David Mitchell, as he kidnapped and repeatedly, cruelly abused a then-teenaged Elizabeth Smart, will walk free.
This was supposed to happen about six years from now, which would have seemed too soon, but Barzee has completed her federal prison sentence, and the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole said it mistakenly didn’t give her credit for time served in federal prison or the fact her federal and state sentences (she pleaded guilty and mentally ill to kidnapping in state court) were supposed to run concurrently. All of that shortened her date of release from state prison to Sept. 19 of this year.
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Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist of the Deseret News. He has 32 years experience as a reporter, editor and editorial writer in Oklahoma, New York City, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. He also has been an adjunct journalism professor at Brigham Young and Weber State universities.