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Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

Speak up! Comment on the WORD at


Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Single-person appeal idea gets nowhere with Smithfield council

By Blaze Bullock

March 16, 2009 | SMITHFIELD -- The City Council didn't even have a motion for a vote on adopting a single-person appeal authority at Wednesday's meeting.

Just weeks after the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend a single-person appeal authority to the council, the idea went nowhere. There was a lot of tension at the meeting and as each person expressed what they felt was best, the tension seemed to grow. During the meeting it seemed as though no one could agree on just about anything.

Local resident Jeff Gittins said he liked some aspects of the idea but in general he was very against it. He also warned the council against voting for it because the new authority plan wasn't specific enough. "Be aware that there are some vague things," said Gittins.

Gittins also said the document lacks definitions, which means it could be used for "strategem." He also told the council "approving this ordinance, the way it is... would essentially be endorsing your own blank check."

Councilwoman Kris Monson said she didn't like the idea of one person being the appeal authority, but likes the idea of the power being given to a board of people. Currently, the city has a board for appeals.

"I would personally rather have three or four people making decisions together," she said.

Councilman Mike Oliverson said he shared the same concern as Monson.

Smithfield would not be the first city in Cache Valley to have a single-person appeal authority said City Manager James Gass. Hyrum, Nibley and North Logan all have a single-person appeal authority and it is the same person, said Gass.

Christian Wilson, a member of the Board of Appeal, said he likes the current system. "I do like what we have right now," said Wilson. "I do like that it's not one person making the decisions. I think it works really well the way it is now."

Councilman Brent Buttars said it's a lot to ask members of the community to go to a number of training meetings for board meetings that usually happen only about one time each year.

None of the council members said which system they thought should be implemented. Instead, each one of them that spoke said they thought both ideas had good and bad things about them.

Gass, at one point, even said "Everything we talk about has pros and cons." He also said he likes the people that are currently serving on the board of appeal but thinks they need to "tighten quality" of people on the board. He said that one of the qualifications could be that each person have some experience in land development.

Councilman William "Dee" Wood said he thought the council should hold off on voting until another meeting. Gass later said the same thing, which is ultimately what happened.


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