Is Utah On The Verge Of Eliminating Homelessness?

Secular Talk

According to Nationswell in 2013, Utah has reduced its rate of homelessness by 74 percent over the past eight years, moving 2000 people off the street and putting the state on track to eradicate homelessness altogether by 2015.

How did they do it? They furnished apartments to the homeless, because they claim the costs are cheaper because it saves jail costs and E.R. costs.


“The state is giving away apartments, no strings attached. In 2005, Utah calculated the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for an average homeless person was $16,670, while the cost of providing an apartment and social worker would be $11,000. Each participant works with a caseworker to become self-sufficient, but if they fail, they still get to keep their apartment.”

Is the change in the Utah homeless rate just cyclical?

The Huffington Post states that in 2011, the Utah homeless rate was decreasing, even when the national poverty rate was increasing:

“Though a recent congressional report announced recession-driven rises in poverty rates in 46 states, Utah is coming close to achieving its 10-year goal of eliminating chronic homelessness. The solution of the state is simple: give homes to the homeless,” states The Huffington Post.

(Updated article)


Utah Looks At Bringing Back Firing Squads

World War 1 Firing Squad – Serbia

Wouldn’t it make sense just to eliminate the death penalty altogether?

Utah Representative Paul Ray, a Republican, sponsored a bill passed this week by the Utah Legislature that would reinstate firing squads if the state cannot track down lethal injection drugs.

Lethal injection drugs have been hard to come by, since European nations have banned their sale to the U.S. The E.U. has abolished the death penalty.

The Chicago Tribune says that Pharmaceutical companies such as Lake Forest-based Hospira have been pushed by activists and overseas regulators to move to keep their drugs from being co-opted in the executioners’ cocktails. “The well is running dry,” states the Tribune.

According to The Tribune, just in the last week:

•Texas’ pantry is quite nearly bare. The state reportedly is left with a single dose of pentobarbital because European manufacturers of the anesthetic are prohibited from allowing it to be used by prisons.

•Georgia postponed its first execution of a woman in 70 years because the blend to be injected appeared unusually cloudy.

•And, of course, Utah’s legislature sent the governor a bill that would authorize the return of firing squads when the state can’t get its hands on the requisite toxins.

A woman who was married to a bailiff who was injured during a courthouse shooting three decades ago in Utah says she supports Utah’s efforts to bring back the firing squad, writes

VelDean Kirk witnessed the 2010 firing squad execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner. He was convicted of killing two men and wounding Kirk’s husband, Nick Kirk, during a courthouse escape attempt in 1985 in Salt Lake City.

VelDean Kirk says the firing squad wasn’t inhumane at all.

She shares the opinion of state Representative Ray, who introduced the bill.

Obviously, there are no shortage of ways to end a life and there are various drug cocktails that that can be administered to do so.

But according to the Chicago Tribune, American executions must meet certain standards or run afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

More here

(Updated post)

How Has Chris Christie Dealt With Previous Natural Disasters?

With a nasty blizzard heading towards New Jersey on Monday, Chris Christie declared the 15th weather-related state of emergency since he took office in January, 2010.

Utah radio station KVNU looks at five key weather-related events during Christie’s tenure:

1. The Disney World Blizzard – 2010

Christie came under fire when he stayed on vacation at Florida’s Disney World during a brutal December snowstorm, rather than coming home to lead his state’s response. His lieutenant governor Kim Guadagno was also vacationing at the time, leaving Steve Sweeney, the Democratic state Senate president, in charge.

2. “Get the hell off the beach” – 2011

Christie flaunted his signature tough-talking style when he called for a mandatory evacuation of points on the Jersey Shore in the run-up to Hurricane Irene. “Do not waste any more time working on your tan. Get off the beach, get out of your beach houses and get to safer lands,” he said, expressing frustration over news coverage of people catching rays despite severe weather warnings.

3. Sandy bipartisanship – 2012

The devastating late-October hurricane, which killed 117 people per a CDC analysis and destroyed thousands of homes, will likely remain one of the most defining periods in Christie’s administration.

Politically, it was memorable in part because Christie warmly welcomed President Obama to tour storm damage on the Jersey Shore, praising him for his rapid mobilization of federal assets and coordination with the state. While Christie’s overture earned him bipartisan praise for seeming to put politics aside in the interest of his state (and some state polls had his approval rating soaring) he upset many national Republicans, some of whom later suggested his harmony with the president might have contributed to Romney’s ballot box loss just four days later.  Iowa political operative Doug Gross was quoted by the New York Times as saying it might hurt Christie with Iowa caucus voters, who, Gross said, “don’t forget things like this.”

4. Swiping at other leaders – 2010, 2012

Christie has never shied from defending himself against criticism, especially coming from fellow tri-state leaders over his response to a storm.

After former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani tweaked Christie for staying in Florida during a 2010 blizzard (see #1), the New Jersey governor shot back on Fox News. “It’s easy when you are out of office to be shooting from the peanut gallery when you no longer have any responsibility, but I have a responsibility to my family…I’m just going to chalk it off to a bad morning for the mayor. Maybe he didn’t have a good breakfast or something like that,” Christie said

5. Canceling the party – 2014, 2015

Perhaps as a result of the backlash over his Disney trip in 2010, Christie has recently bowed out of several political events due to winter storms.

The governor canceled his own re-election celebration in January 2014 over concerns that bad weather could lead to road hazards.  He also skipped ceremonies in Ohio and Illinois this month as part of a tour congratulating Republican governors.

University Of Utah fraternity Says It Wants To Help Curb Sexual Assault

Few fraternities are known for helping prevent sexual assault.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, a University of Utah chapter is hoping to buck that trend, and it just won $3,200 to dedicate to the effort.

Beta Theta Pi recently received the grant to put toward its campaign against rape on campus and in Salt Lake City.  The Robin McGraw Revelation Foundation, Students of the World and Pivot Television awarded the money to the chapter.

“Unfortunately, it is an issue that happens on our campus.” said Mitchell Cox, president of the University of Utah chapter and a psychology major graduating in December. “Men have to be the ones to step up and stop it.”

Tiffany Thorne, the director of SlutWalk SLC, agrees.

“You guys have a really important and huge task on campus,” she said in a panel on sexual assault hosted by the fraternity Thursday. And it starts, Thorne said, with the guys rethinking how they use the word “rape” in casual conversation.

When Thorne admonishes men, saying “No, you didn’t just get ‘raped’ in that video game,” she said, it has little effect. “But if I have a male friend stepping in and saying, ‘You can’t do that. That’s not cool,’ ” she said, “it immediately shuts down.”

Five of the sexual assaults reported 2013 at the university took place in on-campus housing, the most recent crime report shows. Six more occurred either on campus or on “public property.”

Cox and other chapter leaders started working with Salt Lake City’s Rape Recovery Center about a year ago, when a Beta alum suggested they focus their philanthropic efforts there.

In years past, much talk of preventing rape has focused on what women should do — watching how much they drink or avoiding attending parties alone, for example.

Cox says he and his fraternity brothers are trying to get the word out that it’s up to men to curb sexual assault. Their message echoes a national chorus from a White House task force: If she doesn’t consent, or if she’s too drunk to consent, it’s rape. If you think someone is in danger of being assaulted, step in.

University of Utah President David Pershing says he tells students to look out for one another.

“The big thing I say to every student I talk to is: Go to parties with a friend. Do not leave your friend at a party,” he said recently.

In talking with men on campus, “I say, watch what your friends are doing.”

Holly Mullen, executive director of the Rape Recovery Center, praises the Betas’ effort.

“I think they’re trying to be proactive about some of this stuff and get ahead of it before it becomes a problem,” she said. “We have to just keep sending this message out: It has to be enthusiastic consent.”

Are Firing Squads Making A Return In Utah?

Last Wednesday, the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee in Utah voted 9-2 to approve legislation that would bring back firing squads for executions.

The bill, which will likely head to the full legislature early next year, would mandate a court hearing prior to an execution, in which a judge would determine whether the state had sufficient drugs to carry out a lethal injection. If the judge ruled that there were insufficient drugs, a firing squad would be mandated.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, State Rep. Paul Ray says the state currently doesn’t use them.

TYT video.