February 2016

February 2016

The Salt Lake Tribune

Our speaker at the January 14th meeting, Terry Orme, Editor and Publisher of the Salt Lake Tribune, thinks Utahans, and even Mormons, want their news from a broad arena of sources, including their church. He says, “They get enough from their church on Sundays.”

The beginning of the Legislative session, this year on January 25th, gets the Tribune writers excited. They feel that reporting on the Legislature is the most important thing they do. Pat Bagley has said that it will be “like shooting fish in a barrel.”

For this upcoming session, the Tribune is taking polls to ask questions to decide what we, the readers find pertinent to the work of the Legislature. Examples of these questions are:

  1. Do we want the state to try to take over millions of acres of Federal land? Are we willing to lose $14 million in the resulting lawsuit?
  2. What issues should we be considering associated with Medicaid expansion? The Legislature is entering its 4th year having failed to act concerning expanding Medicaid. It seems to be frustrating at best and inhuman and cruel at worst.
  3. What is the Legislature’s roll in solving the problem of homelessness? Homelessness is being dealt with in SLC. But it’s a regional or even a state-wide problem.
  4. There are at least a couple of questions related to the prison. Is the relocation of the prison a settled question? Is there a part in providing Medicaid coverage to the prison population that helps with recidivism?
  5. Should the state fund a water pipeline from Lake Powell to St. George?
  6. What is our best use of education resources? Utahans want more money spent on education and don’t like being last in the nation in terms of spending. But year after year, the legislature does not change the amount the state spends on education. Does the state need computers for every child in school?
  7. Should the state be in charge of an alcohol sales program?
  8. What are the issues concerning Senator Lee, and Governor Herbert attempting to cut funding for Planned Parenthood?
  9. Is the economy really doing better? Are the Tribune’s readers getting raises?
  10. Who is responsible for the air in Salt Lake? It seems to be getting worse. Nothing has been done so far. What do we have to do to get clean air?
  11. What position do we take concerning medical marijuana and why?
  12. Do we maintain the death penalty, even with the limited availability of the required drug cocktail?
  13. What should be done with the “literally miles” of video camera footage from police body cams? Should it be available to the public? Last year there were 14 people killed by firearms which were controlled by police. In 2015, of the first three Utah homicides, all were officer involved homicides.
  14. How can gerrymandering be dealt with? Salt Lake County has been cut into so many legislative districts that the voters are disenfranchised. Mr. Orme thinks this is the biggest issue in our state.

The Tribune will have poll results of these questions in the paper for the legislature to see. Then after the session, the Tribune wants to discuss what happened at the session. Did lawmakers follow the wills of their constituents? The goal of the Tribune is to give people enough information to hold the legislature and governor accountable.

The question, however, always is, “Will they listen?”

Accountability is a big issue with our legislature. Decisions are made behind closed doors. The legislature can’t meet with their constituents because they are hidden away. The public may never know how their representatives vote on an issue. Last year the legislature passed the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA). This bill restricts access to public information and was rushed through. The Tribune tried to get open meetings and formed a group to push all together for accountability. After the public strongly demonstrated against it, the GRAMA bill was repealed.

Editorial note: We need the Tribune to continue to help us keep our Legislature responsive to our community. We are grateful to Mr. Orme for his discussion with us and his work at the paper of record.

—Lauren Florence, MD


February 2016

Magic of Reality
~Book Review~

I have been a Richard Dawkins for a long time having read Ancestors Tale, Greatest Show on Earth, Unweaving the Rainbow, etc. Some of my friends find these bookMagic of Realitys too filled with Biology jargon.

Along comes Magic of Reality which Dawkins seems to have written to a different target audience, people with little or no background in the natural sciences. The message is the same, only the language has changed.

This is a powerful book emphasizing the overwhelming evidence that could/should be used to change calling the “Theory of Evolution” to the “Law of Evolution.”

If you have tried Dawkins before but found the language difficult I highly recommend this book!

—Wayne Wilson


February 2016

Chapter Happenings

Humanists of Utah is ready to start up a 2016 Discussion Group! To be held the last Sunday of every month—beginning February 27—at 1:30 p.m. Our first discussion will be led by Board Member and Humanist Minister Elaine Stehel, at Mestizo Coffeehouse (631 W North Temple in Salt Lake) on the topic of Humanist Ethics. Please e-mail elaine@humanistsofutah.org with questions, comments, or suggestions for upcoming discussion topics.

Calling all lovers of everything Darwin! We need your expertise on our 10th Annual Darwin Day Planning Committee. If you are interested in meeting periodically throughout this year to make our 2017 event spectacular and memorable, please send a letter of interest to the Board at board@humanistsofutah.org. We will try to have our first planning meeting in March 2016.

–Elaine Stehel


February 2016

President’s Report

Greetings freethinkers, now that it’s February, I’m already getting anxious for spring. I know it doesn’t look very promising outside right now with all the snow we have. But I’m starting to notice the daylight hours getting a little longer and that’s encouraging. Plus Home Depot is tempting me now that they have this year’s seeds already out. As I may have mentioned before, I’m going to get more active in supporting the grow local/buy local concept. But for now my focus needs to be on our Darwin Day celebration.

This February’s Darwin Day will be the ninth. You have probably already received a message or two from other board members regarding Darwin Day and other matters. Please take the time to respond to our Survey and let us know what kind of programs you would like to see. We are hoping your feedback will help us make improvements that will increase attendance and membership and make for a more enjoyable schedule of events. So your input will be very helpful.

Also in the messages will be calls for volunteers for the various projects we will be planning. Bob Mayhew is planning a bus trip to the Cleveland Lloyd Quarry for later in the year, plus Elaine Stehel is planning to get a monthly discussion group going again. Plus, during the year we will be participating in the Pride Festival and hopefully some of the street fairs this summer. So we could use a few volunteers to help out.

Getting back to Darwin Day, the fact that it is the ninth has made us mindful that next year will be a sort of a milestone being the TENTH annual celebration. So the Board is planning to make this event extra special. To accomplish that we will be forming a committee soon after this year’s Darwin Day to plan the “Tenth Annual Darwin Day with Humanists of Utah”, and we’d love to have you join us in the planning.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself here with talk of the tenth Darwin Day.

We will be hosting the Ninth Annual Darwin Day on Thursday February 11th. We will start at 6:30 with a reception with some finger foods to munch while we mingle. There will be a literature table and a table with some Evolve Fish items for sale. At 7:30 we will present Dr. Alan R. Rogers, Professor of biology and anthropology at the University of Utah as our speaker (See more details elsewhere in the newsletter.) Then after Professor Rogers gives his presentation, we will serve our traditional birthday cake with Darwin’s image on it. I’m looking forward to our annual celebration of science and hope to see you there.

I can’t sign off though without saying something about the Ranchers and their occupation up in Oregon. I don’t want to spend a lot of time right now deriding their actions and goofy thinking (I could write a tome). But it does kind of make me laugh when I think of what they really want. They want free resources to run their business. I mean, what business wouldn’t like free resources? They want free forage for their animals, but I’m sorry, there are no free rides folks. When I had a cabinet shop years ago, it would have been great if ANY of the “resources” I needed to run the business were free. But it just doesn’t work that way.

I’m not sure, but it may be that the rangeland cattle business is on its way out, especially during drought years when forage gets pretty scarce. Perhaps the scarcity of forage due to the drought is what’s driving them to want more access to areas where there’s still something for their cattle eat.

Anyway, bye for now, and I hope to see you next Thursday, where the thinking should be a bit more rational.

—Robert Lane
President, HoU