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As 2013 wanes, it’s fun (for me) to recap some of the people and stories that made headlines in our great and sometimes dysfunctional state. With fire-throwing beauty queens, the DABC’s ongoing antics and residents still mourning Mitt Romney’s presidential loss, there’s no end of topics to choose from. But I’ve whittled the list down to a few deserving candidates.
Remember, these opinions are my own, and are in no way meant to demonstrate accuracy or truth.
Best Scandal No One Understands
With a cast of quirky characters worthy of a Broadway musical, The Ballad of John Swallow has played out in the news for months … and months … and months. Swallow, Utah’s much-maligned attorney general, faces a boatload of accusations ranging from eating at Krispy Kreme to squatting on a luxurious houseboat. A local newspaper even printed a handy-dandy scandal guide of The Swallow Saga for those who want to follow along at home.
From what I understand (not much), Swallow allegedly got payback on a bribe he helped arrange involving an assortment of politicians and businessmen. He possibly asked for payoffs from various people who might be criminals, finagled a $1.5 million cabin and ordered a really expensive meal at Mimi’s Café. And I think he was the ghostwriter for a book by former attorney general Mark Shurtleff.
A bajillion investigations are ongoing to determine if Swallow & Co. broke state laws, violated election laws, breached ethics rules, failed to disclose a variety of benefits and defied the law of gravity.
In a strong showing of self-support, Swallow denies any wrong-doing with the paraphrased statement, “Nobody can prove anything because I wore an invisibility cloak at the time.”
Most Utahns are surprised the AG is still in office, and the Utah House authorized an investigative committee to start impeachment proceedings for the misunderstood Swallow, which should cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Basically, politics as usual.
Best Way to Google Yourself
In an April announcement that devastated all Utah cities invested in the UTOPIA high-speed network, Google proclaimed its intention to purchase the fiber-optic headache iProvo. Many people in Utah hoped Google would buy the entire city of Provo and relocate it to Thailand (think of the missionary opportunities!) but instead, the multi-universal internet company just bought the fiber-optic network.
In an interesting twist on a “purchase,” Provo City will pay Google Fiber nearly $3 million to join the ranks of metropolis kings Kansas City, Kan. and Mo., and Austin, Texas. These three cities were plucked out of obscurity to receive the Google Fiber system.
Some might ask why.
According to made-up source Orion Bauval, an expert in pyramidology (not made up), the three cities create an arrow-shaped triangle, pointing directly at California, home of the Google Kingdom.
Anyway, since Provo residents are not allowed to Google themselves (at high or low speeds), the new lightning-fast network will be utilized to research visiting teaching messages, modest clothing and Jell-O recipes.
Best Abuse of Power
Mention the West Valley City Police Department in everyday conversation and the most frequent response is, “Now what did they do?” I’m sure they’ve heard all the jokes and references to Keystone Kops, Mayberry’s Barney Fife and The Simpsons’ Police Chief Clancy Wiggum.
But have they heard this one? How many WVPD officers does it take to change a light bulb? Ten. Five to kick the door in, one to shoot out the bulb, one to misplace the new bulb and three to cover it up.
Accusations of stolen drugs, an unjustifiable shooting, missing money, abuse of power, mishandled evidence and overall corruption hasn’t stopped West Valley’s finest from still making headlines. Actions by the department even garnered interest from The New York Times. And this was after the WVPD searched the entire Intermountain region looking for the still-missing Susan Powell.
To address the embarrassing situation, the whole narcotics unit in West Valley was shut down, scores of criminal cases were tossed and dozens of convictions might be re-examined. But don’t suggest the city join forces with the valley-wide Unified Police Department. That only offends them.
However, if things improve, remaining officers might be allowed to carry ammo for their weapons.
Best End of a Toxic Era
In July, employees at the Deseret Chemical Depot in Tooele County dusted off their contaminated hands and closed the facility’s doors after disposing more than 2 million pounds of hazardous waste. At one time, the depot stored nearly half of the nation’s chemical weapons including mustard gas, sarin and other nerve agents.