Morning must reads for Thursday, August 31, 2017


Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 243rd day of the year. There are 122 days remaining in 2017.

The clock:

  • 47 days until ballots for the 2017 general election are mailed to voters (10/17/2017)
  • 68 days until the 2017 election (11/7/2017)
  • 144 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 189 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 432 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,160 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today’s political TL; DR –

  • SCOOP: Gov. Gary Herbert will not use his emergency powers to shut down part of Rio Grande Street in downtown Salt Lake City to create a planned “safe space” as part of Operation Rio Grande. Instead, the decision is up to the Salt Lake City Council, who will vote on September 19 [Utah Policy].
  • Republican Chris Herrod, who lost to John Curtis in the 3rd CD GOP primary election, bemoans the trend where Republican candidates claim to be conservatives, but then campaign and govern in opposition to that political philosophy [Utah Policy].
  • Rich McKeown of Count My Vote says the constant attacks by Republicans on the SB54 compromise is the reason that organization is considering relaunching their ballot initiative to eliminate the caucus/convention system [Utah Policy].
  • Sen. Mike Lee says Republicans have “run out of excuses” to not make good on their promises to cut government spending now that the GOP controls both houses of Congress and the White House [Utah Policy].
  • Lawmakers are considering completely eliminating the sales tax on food, which might require a slight increase in other sales taxes to make up the difference in state coffers [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • The Jordan School Board votes to ban signature-gathering for ballot initiatives on school property [Deseret News].
  • Residents say the number of homeless people camping along the Jordan River Parkway has increased since Operation Rio Grande went into effect in downtown Salt Lake City [Fox 13].
  • Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein visits Salt Lake City to speak at an anti-terrorism conference [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • The future of the popular Twilight Concert Series is uncertain because the Salt Lake City Council hasn’t allocated funding for the program in next year’s budget [Tribune].

National headlines:

  • Bombshell! Special counsel Robert Mueller is working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as part of an investigation into the financial dealings of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The shift is significant because President Trump would be unable to pardon Manafort if criminal charges were brought by Schneiderman instead of Mueller [Politico].
  • Explosions have been reported at a flooded chemical plant near Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey [CNN].
  • Extraordinary! These pictures from the air over Houston show the extent of the incredible destruction wrought by Hurricane Harvey [Associated Press].
  • The death toll from Hurricane Harvey now stands at 30 people. Officials say that number will rise dramatically now that the flood waters are starting to recede [Houston Chronicle].
  • Hurricane Harvey will likely be the most expensive natural disaster in the history of the United States. The damage will cost an estimated $190 billion, which is an astonishing 1% of the nation’s GDP [AccuWeather].
  • The damage from Hurricane Harvey was magnified by poor urban planning in Houston where urban sprawl contributed to the devastation [Bloomberg].
  • Poll roundup: More than half of Americans disapprove of President Donald Trump‘s decision to grant a pardon to former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio [NBC News]. 70% of voters think President Trump dislikes the media more than white supremacists [Huffington Post]. 56% of Americans say Trump is tearing the country apart [Fox News].
  • President Donald Trump begins his push for tax overhaul, but so far the plan is light on specifics [NBC News].
  • The U.S. economy grew by 3% during the 2nd quarter of this year, which is the fastest pace in two years [New York Times].
  • The Russian lobbyist involved in a meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr. has testified in front of the grand jury used by special counsel Robert Mueller [Associated Press].
  • President Donald Trump’s lawyer is aggressively denying to Congressional investigators any collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government [New York Times].
  • Democratic U.S. Senator Robert Menendez is facing some very serious corruption charges. The feds are alleging Menendez used his position to help a doctor in South Florida who provided him with lavish gifts and expensive travel [Roll Call].
  • Ivanka Trump is supporting her father’s plan to roll back an Obama-era policy to help eliminate the gender pay gap. Trump’s daughter has been a vocal proponent of women in the workplace [The Guardian].
  • The US and South Korea flew several military jets over the Korean Peninsula in a show of force to counter North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile tests [CNN].
  • A federal judge has blocked a Texas law to outlaw so-called “sanctuary cities” [Associated Press].

On this day in history:

  • 1864 – Union forces led by General William T. Sherman launch an assault on Atlanta.
  • 1897 – Thomas Edison patents the Kinetoscope, the first movie projector.
  • 1980 – Poland’s Solidarity labor movement was born with an agreement that ended a 17-day strike at the Lenin shipyard in Gdansk.
  • 1997 – Diana, Princess of Wales, dies in a car crash in Paris.
  • 2010 – President Barack Obama ended the U.S. combat mission in Iraq, declaring no victory after seven years.