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PM News Brief: Utah Pride Center Lawsuit, Carnival Trafficking & SCOTUS Voting Ruling

UtahPrideCenter.jpg
Andrea Smardon
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Five former staffers at the Utah Pride Center have filed a lawsuit against the organization. This story and more in Friday evening's news brief.

Friday evening, July 2, 2021

State

Four New Members Appointed To Utah Homeless Council

Gov. Spencer Cox appointed four voting members to the Utah Homelessness Council this week. The group is tasked with approving a services budget and creating a strategic plan to address the problem. Brian Higgins is one of the nearly 30 people on the council. He was chosen in part because he lived for 18 months without permanent housing. Higgins said he wants to bring stories of people experiencing homelessness to the council. Some of the other members include Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and representatives from service providers. Read the full story.Emily Means

Former Utah Pride Center Staffers File Lawsuit

Five former staffers at the Utah Pride Center have filed a lawsuit against the organization. They allege the LGBTQ resource center discriminated and retaliated against them when they were laid off last year. The group of five said they had raised complaints about management and the center’s accounting practices prior to their employment being terminated. Pride Center leadership responded by saying a recent audit of their finances found no irregularities. The center said they would be “open … and accountable” for all of their actions. — Emily Means

Northern Utah

Traveling Carnival Operator Arrested For Human Trafficking

A strike force team with the Utah Attorney General’s Office has arrested the owner of a traveling carnival for human trafficking crimes. Jordan Jensen from Gilbert, Arizona owns parent company Midway West Amusements. The AG’s office alleges the company was illegally making 20 Mexican citizens work for it. Two people escaped from the carnival and contacted the local Mexican consulate and that led authorities to an operation in Ogden. All the employees were in the country legally. The victims said their visas and passports were being kept from them so they couldn’t leave. Jensen is being charged with three counts of human trafficking and nine counts of possession of another’s identity documents. — Ross Terrell

Region

Fireworks And Fire Season Create Dangerous Mix

Fire season and fireworks don’t mix. At least, that’s what more than 150 scientists said in a recent letter asking people to avoid fireworks this Fourth of July. Record heat waves and drought are converging on a day when we see the most human-caused wildfires anyway and while some fires can be good, those set near houses generally aren’t. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

Native American Advocates Address SCOTUS Ruling

Native American advocates say a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in an Arizona voting rights case will impact tribes broadly. The high court's conservative majority said Thursday that Arizona's interest in the integrity of elections justified not counting ballots cast in the wrong precinct and returning early ballots on behalf of others. They said voters faced "modest burdens" at most. Tribes disagreed. They said the decision was another notch in a long history of voting discrimination and that it will impact Indigenous people who don't have residential mail service or who have to drive long distances to vote. — Associated Press

Ute Water Conservancy Pulling From Colorado River

Severe, ongoing drought is forcing the Ute Water Conservancy District to make changes to how it provides water to residents. The district serves Grand Junction and Mesa County. For 65 years, it has let the Colorado River flow by. Instead, it draws its drinking water from runoff on Grand Mesa. Now, for the first time, the utility has begun to mix Colorado River water into its Grand Mesa reservoir releases to meet demand. Ute Water said it must protect supplies in its reservoirs. — Associated Press