Situational awareness – May 24, 2018

Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City.

Utah’s dual-track system to the ballot isn’t going anywhere. The UTA reaffirms a big severance package for its fired boss. North Korea may ditch the planned summit with President Trump.


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  • 5 days until the last day to register to vote by mail for the 2018 primary election (5/29/2018)
  • 6 days until the last day to change your party affiliation before the primary election (5/30/2018)
  • 12 days until primary election mail-in ballots are sent to voters (6/5/2018)
  • 19 days until in-person early primary voting begins (6/12/2018)
  • 26 days until the final day to register to vote online or in person before the primary election (6/19/2018)
  • 29 days until in-person early primary voting ends (6/22/2018)
  • 33 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 166 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 249 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 894 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)


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SB54 fight

If Count My Vote fails to make the November ballot, what will that mean for Utah’s current dual-path to the primary ballot? Probably not much, since Gov. Herbert has said he would veto any attempt to repeal that law [Utah Policy].

Another SCOTUS pick for Trump?

Sen. Mike Lee says there’s a “very real possibility” Justice Anthony Kennedy retires from the Supreme Court this year [Utah Policy].

Medical marijuana battle

Two staffers for the Alliance for a Better Utah say the Sutherland Institute is not being honest about their role in the fight against legalizing medical marijuana [Utah Policy].

A call for civic engagement

Utah House candidate Jon Hawkins argues that the only way to fight factionalism in politics is for everyone to get involved [Utah Policy].


  • The Utah Transit Authority reaffirmed the severance package for Jerry Benson valued at more than $200,000 [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • GOP U.S. Senate candidate Mike Kennedy shares a snippet of a phone call he made to controversial pastor Robert Jeffress that shows he did not apologize on behalf of all Utahns for Mitt Romney calling him a “religious bigot” [Deseret News].
  • Negotiations between Gov. Gary Herbert’s office and Salt Lake City officials over the controversial inland port authority are still at an impasse [Deseret News].
  • Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams is demanding changes after a state audit found widespread drug use at the Road Home shelter [Deseret News].
  • An audit finds no evidence that South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood diverted city funds to her re-election campaign [Tribune].
  • The final two agencies have signed off on tax breaks to build a data center in Eagle Mountain for a still unnamed company [Deseret News].
  • State lawyers are fighting a lawsuit from former A.G. John Swallow who wants Utah to pay his $1.6 million in legal fees following his acquittal on public corruption charges [Tribune].
  • Draper’s former police chief is suing that city claiming he was fired after complaining about city employees spreading false information about him that hurt his chances of taking another job elsewhere [Fox 13, Tribune].
  • The Census Bureau says Salt Lake City’s population is over 200,000 for the first time, but local experts say that’s probably not accurate [Tribune].
  • Utah is adding new housing faster than any other state over the past year [Deseret News].
  • UDOT is warning of delays up to 90 minutes on I-15 during the Memorial Day weekend [Fox 13].


  • President Trump said during a Thursday morning interview with “Fox & Friends” that he would be open to a gradual phase-in of North Korean denuclearization [Axios].
  • North Korean officials rip Vice President Mike Pence, saying he is a “political idiot” and threatened to back out of a planned summit with President Trump after Pence warned North Korea’s leadership could end up like former Libyan leader Muammar el Qaddafi [New York Times].
  • North Korea announced Thursday morning that they’ve permanently shut down their nuclear test site [New York Times].
  • Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s lawyer in the Russia investigation, has reversed himself and now says the president should sit down for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller [Washington Post].
  • Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, received a secret payment of at least $400,000 to arrange a White House meeting between President Trump and Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko [BBC].
  • Republicans in the House who signed on to the effort to force a vote on immigration measures are fearful they could face retribution from leadership [The Hill]. House GOP leaders are making a last-ditch attempt to come up with a compromise immigration bill, but there’s not much optimism that they’ll be able to find common ground [Washington Post].
  • Republicans in Congress are pushing back hard against President Trump’s plan to ease sanctions on Chinese phone maker ZTE [The Hill].
  • The Trump administration is exploring tariffs on vehicle and auto-parts imports. Trump is asking for tariffs of as much as 25% [Wall Street Journal].
  • White House adviser Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, finally gets a permanent security clearance after more than a year [New York Times].
  • Families of children killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting are suing Alex Jones for spreading conspiracy theories about the massacre [New York Times].
  • A federal judge rules President Trump cannot block his critics on Twitter because he uses the platform as a public forum [Washington Post].
  • Elon Musk is proposing a new website to rate the credibility of media organizations and individual reporters. The website will be named “Pravda,” which is the name of the former Soviet Union’s main propaganda outlet [Wall Street Journal].
  • Troops on a nuclear missile base in Wyoming bought, distributed and used the hallucinogen LSD for months. Once investigators closed in on the ring, one airman deserted to Mexico [Associated Press].


  • 1607 – 100 English settlers disembark in Jamestown, the first English colony in America.
  • 1626 – Peter Minuit buys Manhattan.
  • 1844 – Samuel Morse sends the message “What hath God wrought” from the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the United States Capitol to his assistant in Baltimore, Maryland, to inaugurate a commercial telegraph line between Baltimore and Washington D.C.
  • 1856 – John Brown and his men kill five slavery supporters at Pottawatomie Creek, Kansas.
  • 1883 – The Brooklyn Bridge in New York City is opened to traffic after 14 years of construction.
  • 1935 – The first night game in Major League Baseball history is played in Cincinnati, Ohio with the Cincinnati Reds beating the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 at Crosley Field.
  • 1962 – American astronaut Scott Carpenter orbits the Earth three times in the Aurora 7 space capsule.
  • 2007 – Congress voted to increase the minimum wage for the first time in 10 years — from $5.15 an hour to $7.25.