Congratulations, Mayor-elect Becker

by Senator Mike Dmitrich
Senate Minority Leader

It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? MAYOR BECKER

Congratulations to House Minority Leader Ralph Becker on snagging a new office in the City & County Building down the street from the Capitol. Ralph brings to the office many years of experience in public service. Although he will be missed on Capitol Hill, we look forward to working with him on issues pertaining to Utah’s highly regarded capital city. Way to go, Ralph.

Congratulations, Karen!

Senator Karen HaleOur former caucus member, State Senator Karen Hale, has been chosen by the Utah State Democratic Party as this year’s recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Award. Karen will be recognized October 26, 2007, for exemplifying the high standards and compassionate philosophy of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

In the Utah Legislature, Karen led the way on many education and social issues and was well-liked on both sides of the aisle. Karen continues to demonstrate her dedication to public service and the Democratic Party.

Congratulations, Karen! You are certainly deserving of this prestigious award.

A Fitting Tribute: The Calvin L. Rampton International Airport

by Senator Scott McCoy
District Two

Senator Scott McCoyToday I read an article in the Salt Lake Tribune suggesting that the Salt Palace Convention Center be named in honor and tribute to the late Governor Cal Rampton. While Governor Rampton surely deserves a lasting tribute, I don’t think the Salt Palace is the right fit. Sure there seems to be a natural alignment between Governor Rampton’s legacy as the champion of economic development and the Salt Palace as an engine of economic development for our state, but when I heard it, it just didn’t seem to ring true.

There is another option for a fitting tribute to this great man and civic leader. Our impressive international airport, the gateway to Utah, should be renamed the Calvin L. Rampton International Airport. The airport is as much a symbol of Utah’s modern economic ascendancy as the Salt Palace. I also think it simply has a better ring to it. It might also be easier to accomplish since the name of the airport falls under the purview of Salt Lake City.

Thank you, Governor Rampton, for your leadership and example. God Speed.

Way to go, Ralph!

by Senator Mike Dmitrich
Senate Minority Leader

Congratulations to House Minority Leader Ralph Becker on Tuesday’s victory in the Salt Lake City mayoral primary. Representative Becker and Dave Buhler are the final two in the race to be decided on election day, November 6. The upside is that if Ralph is elected mayor, Salt Lake City will benefit from his knowledge and expertise. The downside is that if Ralph is elected mayor, Capitol Hill will lose an outstanding legislator.

On behalf of the Senate Democrats, I congratulate Ralph and his fine election team. As I mentioned to Ralph yesterday in my congratulatory phone call, I wish him luck in representing the second best city in Utah!

How Community Planning Can Benefit Health

by Senator Ross Romero
Senate District 7

Senator RomeroI am writing to address the problems of obesity and to offer some solutions. Nearly 2/3 of the American population is overweight or obese, and physical inactivity is responsible for an estimated 200,000 deaths per year. I contend some of the solutions to obesity lie with community planners in designing communities which are walkable, have trail opportunities, bike lanes, parks, schools and retail space. There are other solutions which require parents and other community participants. Parents and lawmakers can insist on having healthy snack alternatives in vending machines in our schools, encourage walking to and from school and talking with our youth about why it is important to eat healthy. Just as we condition our children to buckle their seatbelts when they first get into the car, we should be encouraging our children to think about eating more healthy and spending some time during the day exercising.

I was reminded about the importance of developing an active living community when I recently participated in the Salt Lake County tour which included visiting the Daybreak community. The Daybreak community is a good example of integrating healthy living and exercise into the development of a community. I would encourage you to consider looking at opportunities to add your voice to creating more active living places to work and live as the Daybreak community has done.

Finally, I encourage you to review the website www.activeliving.org. This website was brought to my attention as a state legislator, and I thought it was worth passing on to encourage further discussion about how to make our communities more active and healthy.

TOP SECRET

Last month, Senator Mike Dmitrich attended the Utah Mining Association’s 92nd Annual Convention in Park City. At the request of the Association, he presented two awards to legislators, one to Senator Howard Stephenson and one to Representative Wayne Harper.

Done-Finished-NOT!

Unbeknownst to Senator Dmitrich, a surprise was in the works! He was not allowed to exit the stage. He learned he was not only a presenter of awards but a recipient, as well. The Utah Mining Association awarded him a Prazen bronze statue (by renowned sculptor Gary Prazen) entitled “Coal in My Veins” for lifetime legislative achievement. He extends his sincere appreciation to the Utah Mining Association for acknowledging his contribution to Utah’s mining industry and government.

Congratulations, Senator Dmitrich!

UMA Award (Coal in My Veins)

“Coal in My Veins” by Gary Prazen

“Coal in My Veins”

P.S. Click here for info about Gary Prazen, the sculptor.

Statement on the Crandall Canyon Mine Incident

by Senator Mike Dmitrich
Senate Minority Leader

Senator Mike DmitrichThe month of August in Utah’s coal country has been disconcerting. On August 6, 2007, a collapse occurred at the Crandall Canyon mine near Huntington, Utah. Six miners are trapped. During the underground rescue attempt, another collapse occurred on August 16 killing three rescue workers and injuring six others. (Underground rescue efforts have now been suspended.) Six boreholes have been drilled near the area where the miners were working August 6, but no signs of life have been detected. A seventh hole is now being drilled, and a robotic camera will be lowered into an earlier hole to search for signs of life.

The past three weeks have been grueling for the residents of Carbon and Emery counties. I have personally met with many of the residents, Governor Huntsman, Robert Murray, co-owner of the Crandall Canyon mine, Richard Stickler, assistant secretary of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, and many other key personnel. Sincere efforts have been made to rescue the trapped miners, but to no avail.

At this time of angst, I would like to express my concern for the trapped miners and their families. They have experienced emotions that none of us can fathom, and I certainly hope for a positive outcome. Also at this time of tragedy, I would like to extend my condolences to the families of the three rescuers who perished and my appreciation to the six rescuers and their families who were injured in their courageous attempt to locate the trapped miners. I hope those who were injured will soon return to good health.

The severity of this tragedy has prompted four congressional investigations, and a fifth may materialize. Governor Huntsman has appointed a Utah Mine Safety Commission chaired by Scott Matheson, former dean of the University of Utah Law School and United States Attorney. The governor has asked me to serve on the Commission, along with former U.S. Senator Jake Garn, Huntington’s Mayor Hilary Gordon, Price’s Mayor Joe Piccolo, Representative Kay McIff, Dennis O’Dell, Safety and Health Director of the United Mine Workers of America, and David Litvin of the Utah Mining Association. Governor Huntsman states, “A significant part of this review will be an assessment of the role of state and local government relative to the federal government and private industry in ensuring mine safety. My objective is to promote mine safety, without partisanship and without oppressive regulation of free enterprise.

Coal mining provides a livelihood for many miners and their families in my Senate district. It should be noted that other coal mines in eastern Utah continue to operate safely. The safety record of Utah’s coal mines has been good until the Crandall incident. I hope this incident demands increased emphasis on safety for our miners. Coal production is a vital component of Utah’s economy. The Utah coal mining industry employs nearly 2,000 people. In 2006, 25.5 million short tons of coal were mined at a value of over $570 million. Coal provides more than 50 percent of our nation’s electrical generation, validating the immediate requirement for high levels of safety for miners.

In the past century, great strides have been made in mine safety. Unfortunately, our progress can be diminished when accidents occur resulting in death and/or injury. J. Brett Harvey, president and CEO of CONSOL Energy Inc., delivered the keynote address at last week’s Utah Mining Association convention, and referring to his operation, he stated succinctly, “…safety trumps everything else we do. It trumps production, it trumps profits, it trumps all other rules, policies, and procedures. (CONSOL operates 20 mining sites, including the small underground Emery Mine in Utah.)

I look forward to working with the governor on the Utah Mine Safety Commission and also offer my services to other investigative entities to accomplish our safety ambitions.