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PM News Brief: White Farmers Sue, Utah Democratic Party Chair & Looking Glass Rock Development

A photo of Looking Glass Rock.
Jimmy Emerson, DVM
Over 2,000 people have signed a petition opposing development near a popular arch called Looking Glass Rock outside of Moab. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, June 24, 2021


Debate For Next Chair Of Utah’s Democratic Party

The two candidates vying to be the next chair of the Utah Democratic Party faced off in a debate Thursday night. Daniel Hicken is the former head of the Utah County Democratic Party. He’s challenging the current state party chair Jeff Merchant. Hicken says he wants to focus on grassroots efforts to increase democratic voter turnout, while Merchant says his goals are to invest in data systems and get more diverse candidates elected. State delegates will pick the winner during the virtual party convention this weekend. — Sonja Hutson

Northern/Central Utah

Salt Lake City Police Release Body Cam From Officer Involved Shooting

The Salt Lake City Police Department released body cam footage Thursday from a police shooting two weeks ago. The incident happened in Pioneer Park in downtown Salt Lake. Two policemen showed up at the park after receiving a call that a woman had been stabbed. Video shows the officers approaching a man holding a knife and asking him to drop it. The man started walking toward them prompting one of the officers to yell “taser” — though it was never deployed. That’s when the man, still holding a knife, sprinted toward one of them. Both officers fired their guns, hitting the man, who later died. The officers’ names were not released as the incident is still under investigation. — Ross Terrell

Moving To Stage 2 Fire Restrictions

Dinosaur National Monument and the Manti La-Sal National Forest are upping their fire restrictions. Both entities will begin Stage 2 fire restrictions just after midnight Thursday. Those prohibit smoking outside and all campfires — even within designated fire pits. Fireworks are always prohibited on federal lands. Violators could be subject to a fine of up to $5,000 or a six month prison sentence. The measures are a response to critical drought and fire conditions around the state. South Weber and South Salt Lake also became the latest cities Thursday to ban fireworks citywide. — Caroline Ballard

Southern Utah

Dixie State Students Protest Against “Utah Polytechnic”

Students and community members rallied Wednesday night against Dixie State University’s new recommended name. Some want to keep Dixie while others just don’t feel Utah Polytechnic State represents them. Stephanie Meeks is a junior at DSU and hopes to become a social worker. She said she supports a name change but she doesn’t like this name. Ryan Whipple, a sophomore studying emergency medical services, said Utah Polytechnic State University is just too generic for him. Dixie State officials said they chose Utah Polytechnic because it highlights their academic mission. Now, the university board of trustees has to vote on it. Read the full story.Lexi Peery, St. George

More Than 2,000 People Sign Petition Against Development Near Looking Glass Rock

Over 2,000 people have signed a petition opposing development near a popular arch called Looking Glass Rock outside of Moab. An upscale resort developer plans to build 75 glamping tents on land leased from the State Institutional Trust Land Administration. “The point of going [to Looking Glass Rock] is for the untouched landscape, the expansive vista [and] the quiet,” said Dailey Haren, the petition organizer. “With this development, the place will become a zoo.” San Juan County’s planning and zoning board approved a conditional use permit for the development on June 10. The Trust Land Administration said the lease is not yet final. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff


White Farmers Sue To Block Relief Meant To Help Farmers Of Color

A federal judge has temporarily blocked part of the federal stimulus package that would provide debt relief to non-white farmers. The $4 billion debt forgiveness program was meant to address decades of racial discrimination by the USDA and banks. Advocates in the region said the impacts of that discrimination were made worse by the pandemic and debt relief would help Mountain West farmers of color stay afloat. But five lawsuits from white farmers say the program unfairly discriminates based on race. A federal judge agreed, and blocked the USDA from forgiving any debts until those suits are resolved. — Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau

Sen. Mitt Romney Helps Unveil $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, helped negotiate a bipartisan federal infrastructure bill that was unveiled Thursday. It would designate $1.2 trillion over eight years for things like highways and broadband access. It’s a watered down version of President Joe Biden’s original proposal. Romney said collaboration across the aisle has to continue if they want to get things done. Biden endorsed the plan and touted the major investment in public transit, internet access and replacing lead pipes. Romney is also working with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-AZ, on a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage. — Sonja Hutson

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