West Valley Chief Promises To Reach Out To Minority Communities
By Cristina Flores (KUTV) A group of prominent members of Utah’s Latino community met with West Valley Police Chief Anita Schwemmer and City Manager Wayne Pyle this week, to discuss concerns over potential racial profiling in regard to some of West Valley Police’s cases. The concerns were specifically tied to some 120 cases that have been thrown out of court by Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. West Valley Police Department has conceded that officers in the now disbanded narcotics unit failed to follow procedure in handling evidence from those cases. Latino leaders were initially concerned because almost every defendant in those cases is Latino. “It raised red flags,” said Tony Yapias of Proyecto Latino.
The community members met with Schwemmer and Pyle in a nearly four hour meeting which was moderated by a member of the U.S. Department of Justice. Afterward, the community members agreed it was a productive meeting, where concerns over racial profiling were quelled once Schwemmer explained the cases, saying most of the people arrested are not permanent members of West Valley’s community and are people brought to Utah to sell drugs from places south of the border. “Most of the Hispanic people who live in our community are good people who contribute greatly,” said Schwemmer.
Schwemmer told the group the police department will work harder to provide better customer service to members of West Valley’s minority communities – about 40 percent of the city’s population. She said officer complaint forms will soon be available in languages other than English – like Spanish and Vietnamese –and there will be an effort to give officers more cultural training. State Representative Angela Romero, who attended the private meeting, said the meeting is a first step in working with West Valley City leaders to ensure that everyone in the city feels safe and protected by its police officers. “This is not just a Latino issue, it’s a community issue,” she said.
Crime-Fighting Grandma Puts Stop To Vandalism Case
(KUTV) A senior citizen jumped into action Friday during a Draper vandalism case.
77-year-old Vanessa Nelson says she’s obsessed with making sure the old Draper elementary, a school she loves, stays safe. The school holds a fond place in her heart—it was where she got her first teaching job in 1954. Now, she maintains costumes for the Arts Council that are stored there.
The vacated school is a frequent target of vandals. She keeps an eye on it, sometimes protecting herself with a lead pipe or a hunk of PVC—she hasn’t had to use either, until one day last month.
Nelson stumbled upon a pair of 14-year-old girls breaking windows and shattering glass. She sprang into action and raised the PVC over her head. She corralled the girls into a room and called police. “I just said ‘sit.’ And I said to them, ‘what on earth possessed you to do such a thing,’” Nelson says.
By Dan Rascon (KUTV) Frances B. Monson, the wife of President of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints Thomas S. Monson, passed away at 6:35 Friday morning with family by her side. She was 85-years-old.
"A woman of patience and love. And this gift has been given to us every day of our lives,” said Ann Dibb, the daughter of Frances, as she remembers her mother’s life and legacy. "Today, I am grateful to have such a wonderful, giving mother,"
Dibb says her parents had a wonderful relationship and she says her father will dearly miss his wife.
"I think one of the greatest gifts she gave my father [was] that she recognized he was a great man,” said Dibb. "One time, not too long ago, I listened as she expressed, ‘I’m married to the most wonderful man in all the world.’"
Frances was not one for the spotlight, continually staying behind the scenes as her husband Thomas went from one high profile church calling to the next, eventually becoming the president of the LDS faith.
"You know there are some individuals who can't wait to be out in front of other individuals and it's almost as if we discount them who maybe that is not their desire. It may not be their gift, and yet, they are such amazing contributors,” said Dibb.
"The first day I saw Frances, I knew I'd found the right one,” said President Thomas S. Monson in a General Conference talk not long ago. President Monson met Frances while the two were attending school at the University of Utah.
"He adored her,” said Heidi Swinton, the author of "To the Rescue,” which is President Monson's biography. Swinton says Thomas first saw Frances at a school dance. "She danced passed him and he caught her eye and he looked for her the rest of the dance,” said Swinton.
The two would go on to get married at the LDS Salt Lake City Temple on October 7, 1948.
At Temple Square flags fly at half-staff.
"If there was ever a man who loved his wife it was Pres. Monson. My heart today is broken for him even though he knows where she is,” said BJ Warnick an LDS member.
Frances Monson will be remembered for her kindness, her sense of humor and her ability to stay true to her faith.
"The blessing that has been mine is to have a mother that I know has always adored me and strengthened me,” said Dibb.
The LDS Church says Frances had been hospitalized for the last several weeks.
Funeral arrangements are still pending at this time.
By Heidi Hatch (KUTV) A group of influential Utahan’s is pushing to get rid of the states caucus system in favor of a primary election. State Republicans and Democrats don't agree. They want to keep the caucus system, but make some changes to improve it along the way.
The GOP will meet Saturday at the South Towne Exposition Center where they will vote on three possible changes that would make the caucuses more inclusive. Right now the system is anything but inclusive. In fact, less than three percent of the state’s pollution gets involved on caucus night. That is not exactly a glowing report on a system that works. Many say the caucus system has become a way for either parties farthest leaning factions to control who makes it to the general election and who gets the boot before average voters get a chance to decide.
If you work nights, are a single parent, are serving an LDS mission, find yourself overseas in the military, can’t show up, don’t want to show up and talk politics with your neighbor, you’re not alone. Hinckley Institute of Politics Director Kirk Jowers notes that “We’re the only state that has a deciding election which is at one place at one time, which of course is problematic.” The system created by our fore fathers worked at the time, but has since been abandoned by 44 states in the union. Jowers says, “In 1896, our system had a lot of virtue to it and that’s why most of the other states had it.” Meeting with your neighbors was quite frankly the only option. Now we can call each other, go online to read about candidates etc.
Jowers, along with names like former Governor Mike Leavitt, formed the "Count My Vote" movement looking to overthrow a system they see as archaic and exclusionary. Jowers explains, “We don't empower our voters anymore. We don't engage anyone except for our few thousand delegates. It makes them by far the most powerful voters in the country.”
That power is exciting for the delegates like Zachary Hartman, who says, “It is the most grass roots level of politics you can find. I can convert 2-3 people in an afternoon. I can change my thought process by being educated by neighbors and different candidates.” While delegates feel empowered, Count My Vote backers believe it creates an easy avenue for candidates to change the minds of just a few, as opposed to garnering the backing of a majority. Count My Vote would like to get rid of the caucus all together, and is willing to go to the legislature or call for a vote to make it happen. The current caucus system allows candidates to slide past a primary straight to the general election. That could change in part this weekend at the Republican National Convention where the GOP has a three part plan to “improve” the caucus system. The GOP hybrid proposal would create an opportunity to vote by proxy, and increase the threshold for votes that currently allow Republicans to bypass a primary. GOP Party Chairman Thomas Wright says, “We need to improve it. It's not compromising the integrity, not gutting it—improving it.”
Democrats are set to vote on the caucus system next month when they meet for their convention. In the meantime Jowers will keep pushing for change.
By Christine McCarthy (KUTV) Thousands of Utahns have been flocking to a convenience store in the small border town of Franklin, Idaho, to pick up lottery tickets at a time when the jackpot is up to $600 million, the highest in Powerball history.
"We've had people from La Verkin, down by Hurricane. And we've had people from Tooele, and naturally Salt Lake and Ogden," said Kelly Spackman, owner of La Tienda, a gas station, convenience store and restaurant. "If they don't hit it tomorrow night we could have a billion-dollar jackpot."
Franklin is the oldest town in Idaho, with just one street light and a population of 673.
"We could do the population in an hour here," Spackman said.
About ninety five percent of the customers at La Tienda are Utah residents, Spackman estimated.
"I can only afford one. I'm poor. That's why I'm buying a ticket to the lottery," said elderly Logan resident Carol Zic, whose daughter sent her across the state border to buy a ticket.
Dozens waiting in three separate lines crowded the store, despite their knowledge of just how slim their odds are.
"Five hundred million to one I would assume," Zic said.
"You get struck by lightning, then you win the Powerball, or you get elected as president," said Brigitte Schultz, who traveled 70 miles for her ticket.
Schultz said she would give a chunk of her winnings to her church and the rest would be set aside to take care of family, if she were to win.
"I'd buy a house on the coast," said Mike Duncan.
Waiting in a long lunchtime line, Luke Meyers dreamed of "retiring early."
A sign in La Tienda advertises that the store has sold $1 million tickets in the past.
"I think it would be neat for someone on the border to [win]," Spackman said. "The right person to do some good with the money."
The drawing will be on Saturday night at 8 o'clock. La Tienda customers can buy their tickets up to a few minutes before the drawing, Spackman said.
By Brian Mullahy (KUTV) One may be the establishment candidate—one may be the Tea Party favorite—and one, perhaps the long shot, could reach Latinos.
Utah Republican Party delegates meet Saturday for their state convention, and they will elect a new party chair.
Out-going chair Thomas Wright called the race for his successor "hotly contested."
All three—James Evans, Aaron Gabrielson, and Marco Diaz—seem to have business experience. All have sought to burnish their credentials among party faithful. And all may come with potential hurdles in the hunt for delegate votes.
Gabrielson, who is said to have Tea Party backing, supported GOP candidates who opposed Senator Orrin Hatch and Governor Herbert—both survived party challenges to win by huge margins.
Diaz, who calls for broadening the party base, was arrested for allegedly violating a stalking injunction, involving his ex-wife. He said it ended with a plea in abeyance.
Evans, described by one GOP activist as an "insider," is the registered agent for so-called 'payday' lending outlets, where interest rates can soar into the triple digits.
The convention is Saturday at the South Towne Expo in Sandy. Delegate turnout may be important to the outcome.
Former Republican Party executive director Jeff Hartley told 2News the "excitable fringe" shows up to conventions in off-election years, not as many "mainstream" Republicans who elected Hatch.
By Ladd Egan (KUTV)Two Southern Utah principals are preparing for a month-long physical challenge of riding their bikes across the country.
“Just over 3,000 miles from San Diego to St. Augustine, Florida,” said Dr. Roy Hoyt, principal of Hurricane Middle School. “We’re planning on doing just over 100 miles a day.”
Longtime friends Dr. Hoyt, 53, and Hurricane High School Principal Jody Rich, 50, decided to pedal from sea to shining sea as part of a “bucket list” adventure to celebrate Rich’s 50th birthday.
“He said: ‘Whenever you’re ready, I’m on board,’” Rich said of his initial invitation to Hoyt.
“I thought, ‘hey, this sounds like it will be a lot of fun,’” Hoyt said of when he was approached about the cross-country trek.
The two principals turned their journey into a fundraiser for their schools by forming PAACE: Principals Across America For Computers in Education. They hope to raise $30,000 to purchase iPads and Chrome Books for their schools.
“We want to get more technology in the hands of our students,” Hoyt said.
“I love these kids at the high school,” Rich said. “That’s why we do what we do.”
More than the fundraising, Hoyt and Rich say their ride is to show students perseverance in the face of adversity.
“Especially with middle school kids, sometimes it’s easy for them to give up,” Hoyt said. “We want to show them as leaders that you can do some things that are difficult.”
Hoyt, an avid cyclist, has acted as a coach and mentor to Rich, who was only acquainted with the sport recreationally and found the training very challenging.
“It’s tough for a high school principal to find the time to train,” Hoyt said of Rich.
“The guy believes in me; he’s probably the one guy that does,” Rich said of Hoyt. “Some people don’t think that I can do it. I just pray that I can.”
“Honestly, I have my doubts but if I have to crawl I’m going to make it across America,” Rich said. “I’ve got to do it for these kids now. They’re all on board. They’re all cheering for me.”
“It’s just showing the kids that you can do anything if you put your mind to it,” said Shellie Singleton, attendance secretary and Hurricane High School.
“He really does care about the students,” said Hurricane Middle School attendance secretary Paula Beatty of Hoyt.
The principals are about halfway to their fundraising goal and encourage people to donate just one penny per mile, which would equal $30. For information on how to donate, visit: www.facebook.com/h.town.paace