Who deserves praise and criticism this week in Northern Utah?

Monday , April 17, 2017 - 4:30 AM


The Standard-Examiner editorial board meets weekly to hash out issues large and small. Here’s what it recommended last week for praise and criticism:

THUMBS UP: To Ogden City officials for listening to residents of Oak Den and changing course, despite their disagreements.

Last summer, the city began exploring the idea of designating the nine-block neighborhood as an Urban Renewal Area, which would have provided a means to direct tax revenue to address blighted properties in the area.

But the URA left a door open for the city to use eminent domain. As “blight” covers a broad range of things — from a cracked sidewalk to total dilapidation — many residents were left deeply skeptical of how the city would choose which structures to obtain and raze.

Community members were vocal about their disapproval of the URA, and almost a year after the dustup, the city says it’s dropping its original plans to instead take a longer way around to address blight and revitalize the area.

It’s clear Ogden Community and Economic Development Director Tom Christopulos and Mayor Mike Caldwell, among many others, never believed in a plan to haphazardly raze houses with minor issues, but they did the right thing by acknowledging people’s concerns and finding another solution.

THUMBS DOWN: To people who don’t get their kids vaccinated.

Utah is far outpacing last year’s reported whooping cough cases. We’re 14 weeks into 2017 and already 108 cases of pertussis have been reported to the Utah Department of Health. That’s up from just 78 cases at the same time last year.

A major contributor to this year’s climbing numbers is from the American International School of Utah, a charter school in Murray. Earlier this month they reported 14 confirmed student cases of whooping cough. Another 30 kids were quarantined as a safety precaution against the highly contagious disease.

Scientists and doctors say the best way to prevent this painful respiratory disease is to get kids vaccinated. There is no widely accepted evidence to show these immunizations are anything but life-saving.

The Murray school has an 11 percent exemption rate from vaccinations and the quarantined children are among those without it, according to a report from Fox 13.

When parents decide they know more than an entire field of highly trained scientists, it’s not an exercise of freedom. It’s well-intentioned recklessness.

This sickness can be deadly for children under a year old. By opting not to protect your kids against a communicable disease, you’re not just endangering their lives — it’s a risk to our entire community.

THUMBS DOWN: To the deportation of Betty Ramos Castro.

The word “tragic” can’t begin to paint the depth of her story.

After more than 20 years in the country and various communications with government agencies about her illegal status in the country, immigration officials cut off all options that would’ve allowed the Draper woman to extend her stay in the U.S.

Despite protests by Mormon Women for Ethical Government, among others, and frantic last-minute attempts to prolong the decision, she was sent back to Colombia Friday, April 7.

She left behind her 86-year-old mother and 18-year-old son with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, for whom she was the primary caretaker, according to the Deseret News.

President Donald Trump said he only wanted to deport the worst of the worst. It’s hard to imagine how Castro could possibly fit that bill.

Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee made last-minute attempts to delay the deportation. It must be said this was a nice gesture, but both have had years to intervene on behalf of people like Castro.

Hatch has a long record of saying he supports undocumented immigrants who are living by the law in the U.S. But in February, a Deseret News article also quoted Hatch supporting Trump’s deportation efforts, saying the president "has the best interest of our country at heart." Hatch said Trump is "a real doer. He's not a guy that sits back and waits for us to do it."

That’s true. As for Hatch, he did too little, too late.

THUMBS UP: To Jon “Sticks” Platten, the cancer survivor who later this month is attempting to climb to the base camp of Mount Everest and the doctor who is helping to make it happen, Brandon Fisher.

Platten, of Layton, had a malignant tumor in his colon. He faced 28 days of radiation and another 43 days of chemotherapy. Just seven months ago, he got the “all clear.”

If all goes well, he and 69 other hikers will leave nearly 3,000 Tibetan prayer flags at an elevation of over 17,000 feet. Each flag is dedicated to a particular cancer patient. The flags are part of the Prayer Flag Project, an effort to honor and strengthen those with cancer.

While surviving cancer (and Platten also survived homelessness and suicidal depression earlier in life) is the feat of a lifetime in its own right, Platten’s appreciation of life is inspiring. He returns April 28.

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