Dolly Parton receives $100 million Courage and Civility Award from Jeff Bezos

(CNN) — Dolly Parton is the latest recipient of Jeff Bezos’ Courage and Civility Award recipient.

“Jeff and I are so proud to share that we have a new Bezos Courage and Civility Award winner — a woman who gives with her heart and leads with love and compassion in every aspect of her work,” Bezos’ girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, posted on Instagram alongside a video of their speech Friday before awarding the grant to the country music legend. “We can’t wait to see all the good that you’re going to do with this $100 million award, @DollyParton.”

Parton is also known for her philanthropy. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s vaccine research efforts. It was partly used to fund Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine.

She said in an interview at the time with BBC’s “The One Show,” that she felt “honored and proud.”

“I just felt so proud to have been part of that little seed money that will hopefully grow into something great and help to heal this world,” she said. “I’m a very proud girl today to know I had anything at all to do with something that’s going to help us through this crazy pandemic.”

In 1988, Parton established the Dollywood Foundation, and eventually The Imagination Library, a program that helps children across the world access books.

Among her philanthropic efforts in her home state of Tennessee, Parton also created the Dolly Parton Scholarship, which provides $15,000 to recipients towards a college education.

Last year, Bezos awarded $100 million each to CNN contributor Van Jones and chef José Andrés.

Bezos, the founder and former head of, said at a press conference at the time that the grant had no string attached.

“They can give it all to their own charity,” Bezos said last year. “Or they can share the wealth. It is up to them.”

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Political Opponents For Utah Governor Release Joint Ads Calling For Civility

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It’s not something you’ll usually see during an election year: political opponents have joined forces for an ad campaign.

But that’s exactly what’s happening this year as two of the candidates vying to be Utah’s next governor are calling for decency during the election.

Republican candidate Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and Democratic candidate Chris Peterson are releasing a series of joint public announcements to support civility.

“The time-honored values of a peaceful transition of power and working with those with whom we differ are an integral part of what it means to be an American,” Peterson said in a statement. “It is time to reforge a national commitment to decency and our democratic republic.”

“While our national political dialogue continues to decline, Chris and I agree that it’s time we expect more of our leaders and more of each other,” according to Cox. “Utah has an opportunity to lead the charge against rank tribalism and commit to treating each other with dignity and respect.”

In the ads, the two politicians say they will support the results of the presidential election and they will commit to a peaceful transfer of power.

“We can debate issues without degrading each other’s character,” Peterson says in one of ads.

“And we can disagree without hating each other,” Cox adds.

In a joint interview on KSL 5 TV’s News at Noon, the candidates spoke about their motivation for the ad campaign.

“We were talking and just had this crazy idea: ‘What if we did something to try to show that even though we disagree we don’t have to hate each other?’ And it came together really quickly,” Cox said.

“People on the political left, people on the political right, we’re both part of the same country and neither of us are going away,” Peterson said. “So we can either get along and fix problems or we can fight and continue to have division and gridlock.”

While calling for civility, the candidates acknowledge that there will still be differences of opinion and approach on how to solve problems.

“We should have debate. We should protest. We should disagree vehemently,” Cox said. “But we don’t have to degrade each other and we can actually solve problems working together.”

KSL 5 TV Live

McCain’s Family Fights To Define Legacy Of Civility, Service

WASHINGTON (AP) — Cindy McCain stood on a knoll in Tempe, Arizona, last year and looked out over the Rio Salado.

The spot where she stood, on 26 acres (11 hectares), is where she and her ailing husband, Sen. John McCain, had discussed building a “gathering place” for his archives, hiking and perhaps candidate debates — but especially for listening.

“We had planned a library,” the senator’s widow said in a telephone interview this week. “But it will also be a focal point for gathering to talk about these issues to have honest and real discussions about them.”

A year after McCain’s death from brain cancer, the library is one way his family members are fighting to shape how the world remembers the Vietnam War hero and veteran senator and to prevent President Donald Trump from doing it for them. The counterprogramming also includes videos and its own Twitter hashtag, #ActsofCivility, in which the McCains ask Americans to perform and post affirmative acts of listening to one another and agreeing to disagree.

The campaign is a rejoinder to Trump’s smash mouth style and his one-man feud against the late senator. As a candidate, Trump derided McCain, a prisoner of war for five years during Vietnam, saying that he preferred heroes who weren’t captured. Even now in campaign rallies, Trump complains about how McCain turned a thumb down in 2017 and sank the GOP’s effort to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

The grudge continued. In May, the White House told the Navy to keep the USS John S. McCain out of sight to avoid offending the president during a trip to Japan. Trump said he knew nothing about moving the warship and blamed the move on a “well-meaning” official aware of the president’s dislike for the late senator.

Cindy McCain last month attended the ship’s recommissioning in Yokosuka, Japan, an event she said was scheduled before “the controversy.”

Defining McCain’s legacy poses challenges in the Trump era, especially for the family of a man who never became a president. Trump has the bully pulpit, a passionate Twitter following of tens of millions and a talent for branding opponents. History also will give him some say in the way McCain is remembered.

“I was never a fan of John McCain, and I never will be,” Trump said in March.

A presidential spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

The McCains and their allies have the senator’s story, told by former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush at his funeral and preserved already in papers being collected by Arizona State University, which donated the land for the library. They’ve also got plans and a determination to direct the storytelling.

“The only person that defines John McCain’s legacy is John McCain,” said his son Jack McCain.

John McCain, who wrote a book about the end of his life, planned his funeral and even wrote a post-mortem statement read by a longtime aide, showed his surviving friends and family how he wanted to be remembered and how he did not.

“John McCain did not define himself by any losses,” said Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who commiserated with McCain after the two GOP presidential nominees lost to Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Like the library, McCain’s legacy is still somewhat aspirational. Upcoming books and other materials are likely to flesh it out. So will The McCain Institute, a nonprofit aimed at leadership development, human rights and combating human trafficking.

“He’s only been dead a year, and legacy is something that’s built over a great deal of time,” the senator’s son said in an interview. “I personally hope that his legacy is defined by his civility.”

In that year, McCain’s peers especially have given thought to what sticks with them and what it means.

Retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, who served in Vietnam while McCain was imprisoned and who worked under him and later with him, said McCain’s reconciliation with Vietnam helped Jones forgive his enemies of war.

“He had more reason than I did to carry a burning hatred for his captors for the rest of his life,” said Jones, who served in leadership positions under Republican and Democratic presidents while McCain was in the Senate. “When he essentially extended the hand of peace, that caused me to do the same thing. I got rid of my demons.”

For now, the McCains say they are still grappling with his absence. Cindy McCain said she is focused on her family and on the impending birth of a grandchild. But grief, she says, sometimes washes over her.

Jack McCain, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, was in Afghanistan before and after his father’s death and insulated from much of the aftermath. He’s moved from active duty to the Navy Reserves and is home in Maryland now, with a 2-year-old son and his wife, Renee, trying to figure out what comes next.

“I’m attempting to find a way to reorder my life without the person who had been basically my role model, my leader, the person I turned to when I needed sound advice,” he said.

Running for public office, he said, is not part of the plan.

As for legacy building in the Trump era, McCain’s allies say it’s a long game.

“When the president talks about John McCain, and the way he does, I think people just click off,” Jones said. “They just turn him off.”

Romney, who’s had his own battles with the president, said McCain’s public life is too long for one president to define.

“I don’t think the family’s going to worry too much what President Trump has to say about Senator McCain,” he said Tuesday. “It’s a 50-year-plus legacy that is not going to be changed or obstructed by virtue of some tweets.”

Said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.: “I do think that in the long run what John stood for aligns so much better with our American values, and he will have the last laugh over Trumpism.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Governor Calls For Civility After ‘Violent’ Protest In Downtown Building

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Following a protest of the Inland Port that erupted into violence, Governor Gary Herbert held a press conference Wednesday to call for civility on all sides.

Herbert and the Salt Lake City Police Chief called the incident the most violent protest they had ever seen in Utah.

The protest started peacefully at Washington Square, outside the City County Building, and then spilled across the street into the offices of the Salt Lake Chamber.

In a press release, protesters characterized their actions as non-violent, and the police response as a violent escalation of force. The governor and the police chief disagreed.

This was not just a protest; this was borderline terrorism. This was bullying, intimidation, and violence, and will not be tolerated.

“I observed something yesterday that I’ve never seen before in the State of Utah,” said Governor Gary.

It was a level of violence that made him worry.

“I’ve never seen that before,” he said. “I’m just here to say that we need to stop it now. We need to nip it in the bud.”

WATCH: Raw Video of Protesters’ Clash With Police

“We need to distinguish between peaceful protest and what happened in the chamber office, at a private place of business yesterday,” said Derek Miller, who serves as the volunteer chairman of the Inland Port Authority, separate from his job as the president of the Salt Lake Chamber.

Employees of the chamber told him the group entered the building quickly, yelling and screaming, some of them wearing masks. They reportedly started to destroy property, breaking security cameras in the lobby.

“Including urinating in some of the offices,” said Miller.

Gov. Gary Herbert calls for civility after violent protests over the Inland Port yesterday.

Posted by KSL Newsradio on Wednesday, July 10, 2019

It was frightening for employees, he said, who felt “Under attack by a violent mob.”

“I have never seen anything that violent,” said Chief Brown.

His department was investigating, and gathering video evidence to identify offenders.

Eight people were arrested. Five were taken to jail and three others were cited and released.

“None of our community will be allowed to be victimized in these events,” said Brown.

The governor was also concerned that some in the group of protesters were self-proclaimed anarchists, and their actions amount to acts of terrorism.

“We the people of Utah ought to rise up and say that is not acceptable in Utah,” said Governor Herbert. “So, a call for civility, and a call for respect for those who have a different opinion.”

Protest organizers did not return calls to KSL TV for comment as the time of this report.

Salt Lake Mayor Speaks About Downtown Protest

Salt Lake Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Police Chief Mike Brown hold their own press conference after the governor's call for civility.

Posted by KSL Newsradio on Wednesday, July 10, 2019



KSL 5 TV Live

Orrin Hatch Laments Loss Of Civility For US Senate In ‘Crisis’

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) — Outgoing U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah bemoaned the disappearance of political civility, kinship and cross-party collaboration during a farewell speech Wednesday where he called the Senate a legislative body in “crisis.”

Hatch, 84, will step down next month as the longest-serving Republican senator in history after serving 42 years. After helping pass a sweeping overhaul of the tax code and persuading President Donald Trump to downsize two sprawling national monuments in Utah, Hatch announced in January he wouldn’t seek an eighth term.

Speaking on the Senate floor in Washington, Hatch said he felt sadness about the state of the U.S. Senate and longingly remembered when lawmakers from both political parties “worked constructively” together for the “good of the country.’ He called for greater unity.

“The Senate I’ve describe is not some fairly tale, but the reality we once knew,” said Hatch, who joined the Senate in 1977. “Things weren’t always as they are now. I was here when this body was at its best.”

He added: “Our challenge is to rise above the din and divisiveness of today’s politics. It is to tune out the noise and tune into reason. It is to choose a patience over impulse, and fact over feeling.”

Hatch has long been a staunch conservative, but worked across the aisle with the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. He also authored landmark bipartisan legislation, increasing access to generic-drugs.

“Teddy and I were a case study in contradictions. He was a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat; I was a resolute Republican,” Hatch said. “But by choosing friendship over party loyalty, we were able to pass some of the most significant bipartisan achievements of modern times. . . .Nine years after Teddy’s passing, it’s worth asking: Could a relationship like this even exist in today’s Senate? Or are we too busy attacking each other to even consider friendship with the other side?”

Hatch has also clashed with opponents in recent years. During a tax-cut debate with Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio last year, Hatch said he was tired of the Democrat’s “bull crap.” Earlier this year, Hatch used an expletive during a speech to describe supporters of former President Barack Obama’s health care law, though he later apologized.

Hatch also became an ally of President Trump, who has repeatedly fought with Democrats. Hatch used his role as chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee to get a major rewrite of the U.S. tax codes to the president’s desk while Trump helped Hatch downsize the monuments and get a Utah man freed from a Venezuelan prison.

The theme of Hatch’s speech dovetails with the goal of using a future library and think tank named after him in Utah to lead a movement toward bipartisanship and civility in politics.

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who won the election to fill Hatch’s seat, highlighted Hatch’s call for “mutual respect, pluralism, dignity, comity and unity” in a Tweet where he said Hatch’s call for greatness is “characteristic of this man of vision.”

Hatch said of all the legislation he worked on, he’s most proud of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was passed by Congress in 1993 to protect people whose religious observances come in conflict with government laws or agency rules.

He called on the Senate to find ways to protect people’s right to practice their faith while also shielding LGBTQ people from discrimination.

“We must honor the rights both of believers and LGBTQ individuals,” Hatch said. “We must, in short, find a path forward that promotes fairness for all.”

After his speech, Senate colleagues took turns giving quick tributes to Hatch. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah called him “a towering political figure” who made “an indelible mark on our state, on the United States Senate and on this nation.”

(Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

KSL 5 TV Live

Weber State students, Ogden City leaders promote civility

OGDEN, Utah — Students at Weber State University are partnering with the city of Ogden on a campaign to, put it simply, make the world a better place. Each year, the students take on a cause or topic of public concern, and promote the idea with various events and activities.

This year’s theme: civility — being nice to people and doing nice things. One way the students are spreading that idea is with a series of cards, about the size of playing cards, with special messages or “Civility Quests” on them. For example, one reads: “Pick up 10 pieces of trash in your community,” and another says, “Introduce yourself to three random people today.” There are 20 messages in all.

“So basically, we’re just trying to get people to think about what civility means to you, and there are these quests on these cards and they’re really easy to do,” Civility Quest organizer Teresa Martinez said Friday.

Each year, the university takes on a specific topic that’s of public interest to promote and to raise awareness. “Civility” just seemed like a natural fit this time.

“It kind of seemed to fit for the upcoming year,” Martinez said. “Not necessarily what was happening in the political arena, but more because we are noticing behaviors that needed to be introduced again.”

During the past year, the campaign also featured various signs posted across the Weber State University campus with messages re-enforcing the “civility” theme.

“It’s getting people out there and doing little tiny acts of civility to make the world a better place,” Weber State student Jessica Cairo said. “Whether that’s picking up trash, or opening a door for someone, saying thank you, saying you’re welcome. It doesn’t take much. It may seem silly, but it can make a difference to someone. It can make a difference to your world, because you know that change begins with you,” she said.

After a person does what’s listed on the card, the cards are then passed along to someone else and so on. Over time, those cards and those messages will spread throughout the entire community. We all do nice things for others on a daily basis without even thinking about it. This “Civility Quest” campaign is designed to make sure we all continue to do that.

“The point is to learn about what civility is. What it is to you, for the community, for the environment,” Martinez said.

Participants in the challenge can collect and complete Civility Quest Challenge cards from local businesses around Ogden, download them online from or follow @wsuccel on social media for daily updates.

The City of Ogden will also issue a proclamation on April 12, to mark “World Civility Day.”

KSL 5 TV Live


Siegfried & JensenThis General Conference documentary titled “Civility: Changing the Conversations” is sponsored by Siegfried & Jensen – Utah’s personal injury attorneys. Helping Utah residents since 1990. Contact us today for help and answers, free.

Civility Still Has Champions

This documentary highlights the positive voices in our community.  Vitriol and caustic comments sometimes drown out civility, but it’s still important.

No doubt, discussions in online comment boards, on social media sites, and in public gatherings have become increasingly more hostile. These disagreements affect our families, our schools, and our workplaces. Even still, there are voices working to change the communication — to make it more civil.

General Conference Documentaries

You can watch more General Conference documentaries like this one with the KSL-TV app. The app is free, with no cable subscription required, and available for a variety of Connected TV and smartphone platforms including Amazon Fire, Roku, iOS, Android and fourth-generation Apple TV boxes.

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‘Hope is on the way’: Mike Pence tells Utahns an ‘American comeback’ is on the horizon

SALT LAKE CITY — Former Vice President Mike Pence told several Utah lawmakers and business leaders he believes the Biden administration has “weakened America at home and abroad,” but hinted that change is coming.

He repeatedly took aim at President Joe Biden during a luncheon in the Zions Bank Head Office in Salt Lake City Friday afternoon, blaming the president for crime, illegal immigration, energy prices and the chaotic removal of troops from Afghanistan.

“I’m here to tell you, hope is on the way,” he said. “I truly believe we are 18 months away from a great American comeback, and it will start right here.”

Pence, Donald Trump’s two-time running mate and vice president, has long been rumored as a potential challenger to his former boss in the 2024 Republican presidential primary. Although Pence has yet to announce a formal campaign, he is reportedly planning to launch a political action committee to back his candidacy, according to Politico.

Projecting a difference in tone and style to the former president, Pence called for a return to civility and respect in political discourse in the country.

“I believe there’s a hunger in this country to restore civility to the public debate,” he said. “Our politics is more divided today than any time in my lifetime, (but) I’m not convinced the American people are as divided.”

The closed-door roundtable was hosted by the Utah Valley University Gary R. Herbert Institute for Public Policy. Former Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and philanthropist Scott Keller, whose name adorns the Scott C. Keller business building at UVU, joined Pence for a luncheon that was open to the media.

Pence is the second potential 2024 candidate to visit Utah in as many weeks, after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed delegates at Utah’s Republican Party convention Saturday at UVU.

Pence’s visit to Utah comes a day after he testified before a grand jury in Washington, D.C., that is investigating Trump’s role in efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Trump supporters had pressured Pence during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection to reject electoral votes cast for then-President-elect Joe Biden, though legal experts — and Pence himself — have said the vice president doesn’t have that power.

Since then, Pence has had a complicated relationship with the former president and his supporters, and has emerged as a potential challenger to Trump. Last month, Pence said Trump’s “reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable.”

This story will be updated.


KSL 5 TV Live

Montana trans lawmaker silenced 3rd day; protestors arrested

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — As Republican leaders in the Montana legislature doubled down on forbidding Rep. Zooey Zephyr from participating in debate for a second week, her supporters interrupted proceedings in the House by chanting, “Let her speak!”

Zephyr, a first-term Democrat from Missoula, had aimed to speak on a proposal that would have restricted when children could change the names and pronouns they use in school and required their parents’ consent.

When lawmakers voted to continue subjecting Zephyr to a gag order, denying her the chance to speak, the gallery made up mostly of her supporters erupted, forcing legislative leaders to pause proceedings and clear the room.

The ordeal is the latest development in a three-day fight over Zephyr’s remarks against lawmakers who support of a ban on gender-affirming care. Zephyr, who is transgender and a first-term Democrat from Missoula, hasn’t been allowed to speak on the statehouse floor since Thursday because she told her Republican colleagues last week they would have “blood on their hands” if they banned gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth.

Supporters were escorted from the gallery above the state House floor, including several by force. Leaders cut the sound on the video feed and Zephyr remained on the floor holding her microphone.

The display followed a promise Zephyr made earlier on Monday, when she defiantly told supporters on the statehouse steps that she planned to continue to speak forcefully against legislation that members of the transgender community, including herself, consider matters of life and death.

“I was sent here to speak on behalf of my constituents and to speak on behalf of my community. It’s the promise I made when I got elected and it’s a promise that I will continue to keep every single day,” Zephyr said before walking into the House chamber.

Supporters waved pride flags and chanted “Let her Speak!” while she connected the transgender community’s plight against gender-affirming care bans to the political fights animating other marginalized groups throughout the United States.

“When those communities who see the repercussions of those bills have the audacity to stand up and say, ‘This legislation gets us killed,’ those in power aren’t content with just passing those hateful harmful bills,” she said. “What they are demanding is silence. We will not be complicit in our eradication.”

Ban proponents see Zephyr’s remarks as unprecedented and personal in nature. She and her supporters say they accurately illustrate the stakes of the legislation under discussion, arguing that restricting gender-affirming care endangers transgender youth, who many studies suggest suffer disproportionately from depression and suicidality.

The standoff is the latest example of emergent discussions around civility, decorum and how to discuss political issues many perceive as life and death.

Zephyr was silenced and deliberately misgendered by some Republican lawmakers in response to her charge last week. She planned to keep trying to speak on the House floor Monday despite Republican leaders insisting that won’t happen until she apologizes. House Speaker Matt Regier and his Republican colleagues had indicated they have no plans to back down. Near the start of the proceedings Monday, they pushed an item Zephyr requested to speak on to the end of the agenda.

After speaking and before the House convened, Zephyr entered the crowd gathered at the statehouse to support her stand. A 21-year-old from a small southwest Montana town teared up as he told her about his fears of coming out as trans in his community. Others hugged her, thanked her for fighting and apologized that she had to do so.

Katy Spence, a constituent of Zephyr’s who drove to the Capitol from Missoula on Monday, said the standoff was about censoring ideas, not decorum.

“She’s been silenced because she spoke the truth about what these anti-trans bills are doing in Montana — to trans youth especially,” she said of Zephyr.

Months after Zephyr became the first openly transgender woman elected to the Montana Legislature, the state joined a longer list of legislatures in passing new restrictions on transgender kids. Legislation this year has addressed issues ranging from the health care they can access to the sports teams they can play on, to the names they can go by. Though proceedings have been subjected to heated debate in more than a dozen statehouses, Zephyr’s standoff with Republican leaders has given the legislative battles over transgender kids newfound attention.

The dispute started last Tuesday when the House was debating Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte’s proposed amendments to a measure banning gender-affirming care for minors. Zephyr spoke up in reference to the body’s opening prayer.

“I hope the next time there’s an invocation, when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands,” she said.

House Majority Leader Sue Vinton, a Republican, immediately called Zephyr’s comments inappropriate and disrespectful. That evening, a group of conservative lawmakers known as the Montana Freedom Caucus demanded Zephyr’s censure and deliberately referred to her using male pronouns in their letter and a Tweet. That’s known as misgendering — using pronouns that don’t match a person’s gender identity.

Zephyr previously upset legislative leaders with emotional testimony earlier this session.

The bill banning gender-affirming care for minors is awaiting Gianforte’s signature. He has indicated he will sign it. The bill calls for it to take effect on Oct. 1, but the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal have said they will challenge it in court.

Montana’s Republican-controlled Legislature is expected to finish for the year sometime next week.


Metz reported from Salt Lake City.

KSL 5 TV Live

Transgender lawmaker silenced by Montana House speaker

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana’s House speaker refused to allow a transgender lawmaker to speak on a bill Thursday, two days after a conservative group of lawmakers deliberately misgendered her and called for her to be censured for emotional testimony against a bill seeking to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

“It is up to me to maintain decorum here on the House floor, to protect the dignity and integrity,” Republican Speaker Matt Regier said. “And any representative that I don’t feel can do that will not be recognized,”

Regier said he decision came after “multiple discussions” with other lawmakers and that previously there have been similar problems.

The Democratic caucus objected, but the House Rules committee upheld Regier’s decision on a party-line vote. As a result, Rep. Zooey Zephyr was not allowed to speak Thursday on a measure that would put a binary definition of male and female into state code.

The issue came to a head when Zephyr, a Democrat and the first transgender woman to hold a position in the Montana legislature, told lawmakers on Tuesday they would have “blood on their hands” if they voted in favor of a bill to ban gender-affirming medical care for minors. She had made a similar comment when the bill was debated in the House the first time.

House Majority Leader Sue Vinton rebuked Zephyr on Tuesday, calling her comments inappropriate, disrespectful and uncalled for.

Later Tuesday, a small group of conservative Republicans known as the Montana Freedom Caucus issued a demand for the House to censure Zephyr. Their letter called for a “commitment to civil discourse” in the same sentence in which they deliberately misgendered Zephyr. The caucus also misgendered Zephyr in a Tweet while posting the letter online.

“It is disheartening that the Montana Freedom Caucus would stoop so low as to misgender me in their letter, further demonstrating their disregard for the dignity and humanity of transgender individuals,” Zephyr said in a statement Wednesday. “Their call for ‘civility and respect’ is hypocritical given their actions.”

Zephyr said Wednesday that she stood by what she said Tuesday “of the devastating consequences of banning essential medical care for transgender youth. The gender-affirming care ban “is part of an alarming trend of anti-trans legislation in our state, which includes over a dozen unconstitutional bills. These bills ban our art forms, our stories, our healthcare, and our very existence in Montana code.”

She also spoke emotionally and directly to transgender Montanans in February in opposing a bill to ban minors from attending drag shows.

“I have one request for you: Please stay alive,” Zephyr said.

She also assured them she and others would keep fighting and challenge the bills in court.

The legislature has also passed a bill stating a student misgendering or deadnaming a fellow student is not illegal discrimination, unless it rises to the level of bullying.

At the end of Thursday’s House session, Democratic Rep. Marilyn Marler asked that the House majority allow Zephyr to speak on the floor going forward.

“This body is denying the representative … the chance to do her job,” Marler said.

Majority Leader Vinton, before moving for adjournment, said: “I will let the body know that the representative … has every opportunity to rectify the situation.”

KSL 5 TV Live

5 Memphis officers plead not guilty in death of Tyre Nichols

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Five former Memphis police officers pleaded not guilty Friday to second-degree murder and other charges in the violent arrest and death of Tyre Nichols, with the judge urging patience in a case that could “take some time.”

Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith made their first court appearances with their lawyers before a judge in Shelby County Criminal Court. The officers were fired after an internal police investigation into the Jan. 7 arrest of Nichols, who died in a hospital three days later.

The officers pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression. They are all out on bond. Their next hearing has been scheduled for May 1.

Addressing the courtroom, Judge James Jones Jr. asked for everyone’s “continued patience” and ”continued civility,” stressing that “this case can take some time.”

“We understand that there may be some high emotions in this case, but we ask that you continue to be patient with us,” Jones said. “Everyone involved wants this case to be concluded as quickly as possible. But it’s important for you all to understand that the state of Tennessee, as well as each one of these defendants, have an absolute right to a fair trial.”

Blake Ballin, the attorney for Mills, said the process must be “based on the facts and the law, and not the raw emotions that our country is experiencing.” The public should be patient and cautious in judging his client, he said.

“Justice for Mr. Nichols will not be achieved at the expense of justice for Mr. Mills,” Ballin said.

Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, and stepfather, Rodney Wells, were in court along with their lawyer, civil rights attorney Ben Crump.

The police killing of Nichols is the latest to prompt nationwide protests and renew an intense public discussion about police brutality. Nichols, 29, was Black. All five officers charged in his death also are Black.

Nichols was stopped by police for an alleged traffic violation and was pulled out of his car by officers who used profanity, with at least one brandishing a gun. An officer hit Nichols with a stun gun, but Nichols ran away toward his nearby home, according to video footage released by the city.

Officers who were part of a crime-suppression team known as Scorpion caught up with Nichols and punched him, kicked him and slugged him with a baton as he yelled for his mother.

After the beating, officers stood by and talked with one another as Nichols struggled with his injuries on the ground, video showed. One officer took photos of Nichols as he was propped up against an unmarked police car, video and records showed.

Nichols was taken to a hospital in an ambulance that left the site of the beating 27 minutes after emergency medical technicians arrived, authorities said.

Police said Nichols had been suspected of reckless driving, but no verified evidence of a traffic violation has emerged in public documents or in video footage. Memphis Police Director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis has said she has seen no evidence justifying the stop or the officers’ response. She disbanded the Scorpion unit, which she created in November 2021, after Nichols’ death.

One other white officer who was involved in the initial traffic stop has been fired. An additional officer who has not been identified has been suspended.

Three Memphis Fire Department employees who were present at the site of the arrest have been fired. Two Shelby County sheriff’s deputies who also were there have been suspended without pay.

Nichols’ family, their lawyers, community leaders and activists have called for changes within the Memphis Police Department on issues related to traffic stops, use of force, transparency and other policies.

Some of the relatives and lawyers have praised Davis and the department for the swiftness of their response and said it should be the standard for other investigations into police brutality.

KSL 5 TV Live

Youth football referee punched over call in Layton shares message

LAYTON, Utah — A youth football referee is speaking out, saying a player punched him in the neck at a game last weekend, and he is sharing a larger message for parents in the youth football community. It’s the latest reported incident of bad behavior around the field in one weekend.

Nate Lewis said he’s been coaching and refereeing youth football games for over a decade.

For him, the love of the game is really about the love of the kids.

He said he enjoys “watching the kids celebrate successes and watching them grow and develop.”

The first group of kids he ever coached, Lewis said, graduated high school last year. He said he likes to watch them have fun and succeed.

This season so far, Lewis explained noticing that passion on the sidelines during youth football games has been turning into tension.

“The emotion and the verbal attacks and the things they’re saying are different. It’s more personal, and it’s focused more on what call was made or wasn’t made. And I’m noticing that a lot more this year,” he said.

On Saturday in Layton, Lewis recounted how he was refereeing a Ute Conference game, when he said a 15-year-old player was ejected from the game for unsportsmanlike behavior.

“I had mentioned to him that he needed to calm down and let the adult help him. And his behavior just continued to escalate,” Lewis explained.

The player said he had calmed down, and Lewis said, at that point, the adult let the player go.

“He took two steps and punched me,” Lewis said, describing what happened next. “And then luckily, other adults were there and stepped in and were able to intervene and escorted him away from the field.”

Lewis said he was punched in the neck/throat area, and that Ute Conference was great in their quick response and couldn’t have handled the situation any better post-incident.

But he has concerns over what led up to it.

Lewis said the game had become emotional, and referees were warning coaches that it was becoming emotional, but he didn’t see enough intervention to calm those emotions.

“It’s more about the behavior that led to this and the adult interaction,” he said. “As things were escalating, the adults could have stepped in and de-escalated it quicker. As officials, we were left out there on our own and there wasn’t a lot of help.”

KSL reported how a situation boiled over in Herriman Saturday at a Ute Conference Football game, also involving rising tensions. Witnesses said it appeared coaches and parents rushed the field. A couple attending a different game to watch a grandson play said they saw punches thrown and a third witness described the fight as a “brawl.”

Herriman police investigating parent brawl on field during youth football game

A video sent to KSL by two sources who wanted to remain anonymous shows the entirety of the fight. Adults are seen running onto the field after a referee’s call. Several more start sprinting onto the field, and then people begin pushing each other with arms flailing in some cases. At one point, a crowd of people is pushing each other around with referees caught up in the chaos.
People are screaming profanities, as other adults attempt to break up the instigators and move people away from each other.

Ute Conference investigated the fight and reviewed footage of the game. On Monday, the organization determined that no punches were thrown and no brawl ensued, but that coaches and parents were on the field “acting in an unruly and unsportsmanlike manner.”

“The UC will act swiftly with ejections and suspensions for violating our code of conduct and rules of civility.  Unfortunately, people should never act like this at any sporting event, especially a 9-year-old football game,” Ute Conference Executive Director Jeff Gorringe wrote in a statement.

As far as the incident with Lewis in Layton, Gorringe wrote in a message that they will not discuss situations that pertain to minors.

“We do not condone bad behavior of any kind and will deal with appropriately,” he wrote.

The incident in Herriman, paired with what Lewis experienced, is why he’s urging parents, coaches and other adults at youth football games not to fuel tensions or let emotions escalate.

He said the kids are having fun and seeing emotions off the sideline and feeding off of it. He firmly believes that sideline behavior is what can trigger situations like the one he ended up in with the player.

Lewis is asking parents to do their best to focus on the game and not emotions around the game.

“The volatility in the parents and the coaches is where this starts,” he said. “It’s about coaches helping us control the sidelines, and parents realizing if you can’t be there to support and cheer on your children, then there’s something to be looked at there.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Herriman police investigating parent brawl on field during youth football game

HERRIMAN, Utah –– A youth football league is responding to a brawl between team parents caught on camera, that led to the cancellation of a football game in Herriman and is now part of a police investigation.

Witnesses say it appeared that parents got upset over a call a referee made at one of the Saturday Ute Conference Football games at Butterfield Park, and they described seeing those parents storm the field and throw fists while police pulled out tasers.

Melynda and Dave Epperson said they were attending a different game with their five grandchildren, to watch one of their grandsons play when they saw the fight break out on the next field over.

The grandmother explained that many parents suddenly rushed the field, screaming. She said it looked like 30 to 40 people, and some of them started to fist fight.

“Watching parents attacking each other, I saw fists. I saw people pulling people apart,” Epperson recounted. “I saw two police officers come onto the field pulling people apart. Coaches, refs pulling people apart.”

Melynda began to film a couple minutes in, and people are heard screaming profanities in her video. A large group is gathered on the field. Melynda indicated that the two police officers who intervened pulled out their tasers as they tried to get parents under control.

A coach began yelling at the kids to run away.

“The kids ran in front of me. You could see the terror in their face, and you could see that they we unsure of what was happening,” she said.

Then just minutes later on the other field, Melynda described seeing more unsettling behavior.

“The referee was screaming profanities at the coach,” she explained. “And so that game was abruptly ended. So, both these games ended in the fourth quarter, without being completed.”

Beau Neville, a Ute Conference Football parent and coach, said the referee yelled profanities at them after they tried to calmly point out a questionable play.

“I got my wife and my children also there and they’re seeing a brawl going on, and they’re hearing bad language and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “They’re just things that seven/eight-year-olds shouldn’t be seeing.”

He said coaches and Ute Conference league leaders were quick to step in and resolve both situations. Melynda said police escorted families who were fighting to the parking lot and made them leave.

Ute Conference Football Executive Director Jeff Gorringe said Sunday evening that they’re aware of the incident with the parent fight and will review the video footage once they have it all Monday.

“The Ute Conference is in process of supplying cameras to the majority of our games with full panoramic view of the entire field. The Ute conference also has police officers present at all games for the safety of our referees, coaches and players,” he wrote, in a text message.

Gorringe expressed appreciation and thanked Herriman City police officers for their work on Saturday, as well as the referees for doing an amazing job during a children’s football game.

“The UC has zero tolerance for bad behavior and suspensions to all unruly parents and coaches entering the fields will be forthcoming,” Gorringe wrote.

They also just released updated rules regarding parent behavior that they sent out Friday, to announce the updates and remind parents that behavior like entering the field or going after a referee will result in a three-game minimum suspension.

Gorringe said they are going to start enforcing the rules without exception.

Herriman Police confirmed the incident, said they are actively investigating, and couldn’t release any other information.

Melynda and Beau are frustrated that the parents’ bad behavior ended up ruining the entire game for the kids.

“As a parent, be a better example for your kids. They don’t need to see that,” Beau said. “Show them how they need to behave when they’re at their sporting events.”

“If you can’t be encouraging and a positive experience and a positive influence on those kids, don’t come to the games,” Melynda said. “Stay home.”

On Monday, Gorringe sent in an updated statement that reads in full:

The Ute Conference has reviewed the video that took place out at the Mountain Ridge fields on Saturday 09/10/2022.  With our camera system that is set up on our fields we were able to see the entire incident from beginning to end. We are happy to report that the actions of Herriman City police department and the Mountain Ridge Board de-escalated the situation where no brawl ensued and no punches were thrown as originally reported.  There were a lot of coaches and parents on the field that were acting in an unruly and unsportsmanlike manner.  The UC will act swiftly with ejections and suspensions for violating our code of conduct and rules of civility.  Unfortunately, people should never act like this at any sporting event, especially a 9 year old football game.

KSL 5 TV Live

BYU reverses ban on fan after investigation into volleyball match with Duke

PROVO, Utah — BYU said it had found no evidence to corroborate allegations of racist heckling at the women’s volleyball match with Duke University Friday, capping off an internal investigation into the incident.

The findings prompted the school to reverse its decision on the fan in question. BYU said it had lifted the ban and apologized to the person who was accused of shouting racial slurs from the student section.

“We have not found any evidence that that individual engaged in such an activity,” a statement posted to their site said. “BYU sincerely apologizes to that fan for any hardship the ban has caused.”

Lex Scott, who founded the Utah chapter of Black Lives Matter commented on BYU’s reaction.

“Just because they couldn’t find footage doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen,” she said. “The player said it happened. Her teammates said it happened.”

Scott, who now lives out of state, said she would like to see a full investigation by the NCAA.

“We are asked to provide DNA evidence and mounds of evidence to prove that something that we experienced happened to us. This is the playbook of racism.”

In the two weeks since a Duke volleyball player alleged she was targeted with racial slurs during the Aug. 26 match, BYU said it reviewed all available video and audio recordings from the match, including security footage and raw video from BYUtv. The private university said it also reached out to more than 50 people who attended – including fans, BYU and Duke staff, and students and event staff. It said they did not find evidence to support the allegations.

Duke volleyball player: BYU response slow to racial slurs


“That’s a great thing but it doesn’t rule out that there’s racism at BYU,” Sierra Herlevi, a junior at BYU said.

“I think a lot of people aren’t going to believe that it didn’t happen still, but I think it’s good to know that it was investigated and—at least for now—there hasn’t been any concrete evidence,” sophomore Carson Bailey said.

BYU Athletics said it will not tolerate any conduct that makes a student-athlete feel unsafe.

“That is the reason for our immediate response and our thorough investigation,” BYU said.

“I hope that if that was actually happening that other students would stand up to it,” Bailey said. “I don’t like to think that anybody would lie about those kinds of things, but I think it’s really easy to paint BYU in a bad light when it comes to race.”

“Our fight is against racism, not against any individual or any institution,” BYU said. “Each person impacted has strong feelings and experiences, which we honor, and we encourage others to show similar civility and respect. We remain committed to rooting out racism wherever it is found. We hope we can all join together in that important fight.”

The incident stole the headlines during the first couple of weeks of the semester, Herlevi hopes some good will come out of it.

“Even just it coming out has brought a lot of conversations at BYU. And I feel like it’s a really important conversation that we’re having,” she said. “And I feel like it’s my job as a white student to stand with Black students at BYU.”

“There will be some who assume we are being selective in our review,” BYU’s statement said. “To the contrary, we have tried to be as thorough as possible in our investigation, and we renew our invitation for anyone with evidence contrary to our findings to come forward and share it.”

Duke University’s Athletic Director Nina King released a statement after BYU’s statement:

“The 18 members of the Duke University volleyball team are exceptionally strong women who represent themselves, their families, and Duke University with the utmost integrity.  We unequivocally stand with and champion them, especially when their character is called into question.  Duke Athletics believes in respect, equality and inclusiveness, and we do not tolerate hate and bias.” #HateWontLiveHere

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox faced criticism in the wake of the announcement from BYU, because of his immediate reaction to the allegations when he condemned the fan. In response he tweeted out a statement that said in part:

“I will always speak out strongly against racism. I also believe it is important to step back and acknowledge new facts as they come to light and speak publicly about them as well. Part of that requires patience, something I could have done better in this situation. I apologize to the fan who apparently was unfairly singled out.”

Here is the full statement from BYU Athletics:

“As part of our commitment to take any claims of racism seriously, BYU has completed its investigation into the allegation that racial heckling and slurs took place at the Duke vs. BYU women’s volleyball match on August 26. We reviewed all available video and audio recordings, including security footage and raw footage from all camera angles taken by BYUtv of the match, with broadcasting audio removed (to ensure that the noise from the stands could be heard more clearly). We also reached out to more than 50 individuals who attended the event: Duke athletic department personnel and student-athletes, BYU athletic department personnel and student-athletes, event security and management and fans who were in the arena that evening, including many of the fans in the on-court student section.

“From our extensive review, we have not found any evidence to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event. As we stated earlier, we would not tolerate any conduct that would make a student-athlete feel unsafe. That is the reason for our immediate response and our thorough investigation.

“As a result of our investigation, we have lifted the ban on the fan who was identified as having uttered racial slurs during the match. We have not found any evidence that that individual engaged in such an activity. BYU sincerely apologizes to that fan for any hardship the ban has caused.

“Our fight is against racism, not against any individual or any institution. Each person impacted has strong feelings and experiences, which we honor, and we encourage others to show similar civility and respect. We remain committed to rooting out racism wherever it is found. We hope we can all join together in that important fight.

There will be some who assume we are being selective in our review. To the contrary, we have tried to be as thorough as possible in our investigation, and we renew our invitation for anyone with evidence contrary to our findings to come forward and share it.

Despite being unable to find supporting evidence of racial slurs in the many recordings and interviews, we hope that all those involved will understand our sincere efforts to ensure that all student-athletes competing at BYU feel safe. As stated by Athletics Director Tom Holmoe, BYU and BYU Athletics are committed to zero-tolerance of racism, and we strive to provide a positive experience for everyone who attends our athletic events, including student-athletes, coaches and fans, where they are valued and respected.

KSL 5 TV Live

Elected officials, police chiefs on leaked Oath Keepers list

The names of hundreds of U.S. law enforcement officers, elected officials and military members appear on the leaked membership rolls of a far-right extremist group that’s accused of playing a key role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, according to a report released Wednesday.

The Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism pored over more than 38,000 names on leaked Oath Keepers membership lists and identified more than 370 people it believes currently work in law enforcement agencies — including as police chiefs and sheriffs — and more than 100 people who are currently members of the military.

It also identified more than 80 people who were running for or served in public office as of early August. The membership information was compiled into a database published by the transparency collective Distributed Denial of Secrets.

In Utah, a total of 326 people were registered to the Oath Keepers list from June 2020 to Sept. 2021, according to the ADL.  Out of the 326 registered, five were listed as law enforcement and four were employed by the military. No Utah elected officials or first responders were listed on the leaked membership list.

Utah is also the 11th state with the least registered Oath Keeper members, according to the leak, with Iowa being 12th with 330 members and New Hampshire placing 10th with 312 registered members.

The data raises fresh concerns about the presence of extremists in law enforcement and the military who are tasked with enforcing laws and protecting the U.S. It’s especially problematic for public servants to be associated with extremists at a time when lies about the 2020 election are fueling threats of violence against lawmakers and institutions.

“Even for those who claimed to have left the organization when it began to employ more aggressive tactics in 2014, it is important to remember that the Oath Keepers have espoused extremism since their founding, and this fact was not enough to deter these individuals from signing up,” the report says.

Appearing in the Oath Keepers’ database doesn’t prove that a person was ever an active member of the group or shares its ideology. Some people on the list contacted by The Associated Press said they were briefly members years ago and are no longer affiliated with the group. Some said they were never dues-paying members.

“Their views are far too extreme for me,” said Shawn Mobley, sheriff of Otero County, Colorado. Mobley told the AP in an email that he distanced himself from the Oath Keepers years ago over concerns about its involvement in the standoff against the federal government at Bundy Ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada, among other things.

The Oath Keepers, founded in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, is a loosely organized conspiracy theory-fueled group that recruits current and former military, police and first responders. It asks its members to vow to defend the Constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” promotes the belief that the federal government is out to strip citizens of their civil liberties and paints its followers as defenders against tyranny.

More than two dozen people associated with the Oath Keepers — including Rhodes — have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack. Rhodes and four other Oath Keeper members or associates are heading to trial this month on seditious conspiracy charges for what prosecutors have described as a weekslong plot to keep then-President Donald Trump in power. Rhodes and the other Oath Keepers say that they are innocent and that there was no plan to attack the Capitol.

The Oath Keepers has grown quickly along with the wider anti-government movement and used the tools of the internet to spread their message during Barack Obama’s presidency, said Rachel Carroll Rivas, interim deputy director of research with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project. But since Jan. 6 and Rhodes’ arrest, the group has struggled to keep members, she said.

That’s partly because Oath Keepers had been associated so strongly with Rhodes that the removal of the central figure had an outsized impact, and partly because many associated with the group were often those who wanted to be considered respectable in their communities, she said.

“The image of being associated with Jan. 6 was too much for many of those folks,” she said.

Among the elected officials whose name appears on the membership lists is South Dakota state Rep. Phil Jensen, who won a June Republican primary in his bid for reelection. Jensen told the AP he paid for a one-year membership in 2014 but never received any Oath Keepers’ literature, attended any meetings or renewed his membership.

Jensen said he felt compelled to join because he “believed in the oath that we took to support the US Constitution and to defend it against enemies foreign and domestic.” He wouldn’t say whether he now disavows the Oath Keepers, saying he doesn’t have enough information about the group today.

“Back in 2014, they appeared to be a pretty solid conservative group, I can’t speak to them now,” he said.

ADL said it found the names of at least 10 people who now work as police chiefs and 11 sheriffs. All of the police chiefs and sheriffs who responded to the AP said they no longer have any ties to the group.

“I don’t even know what they’re posting. I never get any updates,” said Mike Hollinshead, sheriff of Idaho’s Elmore County. “I’m not paying dues or membership fees or anything.”

Hollinshead, a Republican, said he was campaigning for sheriff several years ago when voters asked him if he was familiar with the Oath Keepers. Hollinshead said he wanted to learn about the group and recalls paying for access to content on the Oath Keepers’ website, but that was the extent of his involvement.

Benjamin Boeke, police chief in Oskaloosa, Iowa, recalled getting emails from the group years ago and said he believes a friend may have signed him up. But he said he never paid to become a member and doesn’t know anything about the group.

Eric Williams, police chief in Idalou, Texas, also said in an email that he hasn’t been a member or had any interaction with the Oath Keepers in over 10 years. He called the storming of the Capitol “terrible in every way.”

“I pray this country finds its way back to civility and peace in discourse with one another,” he said.



Associated Press writer Lindsay Whitehurst in Washington contributed to this report.


KSL TV digital producer Michael Houck in Salt Lake City added Utah statistics to the original AP story.

KSL 5 TV Live

Woman behind ‘Sharon Says So’ podcast explains how we stop screaming at each other

SALT LAKE CITY — If you haven’t heard of Sharon McMahon, it’s a good bet you know someone who follows her on Instagram.

The former high school teacher cuts through misinformation with straightforward facts to educate her nearly 1 million ‘Sharon Says So’ Instagram followers.

KSL NewsRadio’s Boyd Matheson got some great advice from her about civility for our series: “A More Perfect Union.”

Boyd Matheson: ‘Sharon Says So’ is really about an invitation to have a different kind of conversation about the Constitution, about our country and about our society. Tell us about it.

Sharon McMahon: Well, turns out that I really feel like the American public is hungry to learn how to think and not be told what to think. And there’s not a lot of that available on the internet, or, frankly, in a lot of the media people consume. There’s just sort of a big gaping hole in this conversation about how can we work together? How can we work side by side instead of screaming at each other all day long? Ultimately, most Americans want very similar things.

They want good schools for their children, they want safe communities, they want opportunity, they want prosperity for their neighbors, most Americans want very similar things. And they differ on how to get there. But if we can reframe the conversation about what needs to happen in America to be more about how can we work together to achieve those things, then spend all of our time screaming at each other on the internet, I think we would have a very different political landscape.

Boyd Matheson: And we’ve probably believe that we’re not nearly as divided as many and the extremes of the left and the right want us to believe that we are. We also know that that common ground is always found on higher ground, which you’re not going to get from yelling, angry things back and forth at each other. How do we change that and get to that higher ground/common ground?

Sharon McMahon: I like what you just said that common ground is found on higher ground. Because once you are down slinging mud, you know the race to the bottom is not a race you want to win, right? Like what happens when you’ve gotten to the bottom what is down there? It’s not something that is pretty, I can tell you that.

So, getting to that higher ground or that common ground requires each one of us. And I think this is one of the challenges that perhaps, maybe Americans could reframe how they think about this, instead of waiting for somebody else to come along. And to be the white knight on a horse, instead of waiting for a politician, or you know, a media pundit to come save us–we’re the ones we’ve been waiting for. It’s up to all of us to do that job. And if we want a less divided country, we need to be less divided. That’s up to us to do that. We cannot wait for somebody else to come and save us.

So, it starts with truly each one of us in our own homes. And the way we speak to our children, the way we frame conversations around the dinner table. That is truly where it begins. And then it ripples outward into our workplaces, into our schools, into our government but it begins with a decision made by each individual.

Boyd Matheson: I really believe in this idea that you’re talking about that community and culture lead and the politicians actually follow. And I think from a history standpoint, you share that often in terms of how we’re really grounded in community and culture first, and that politics is downstream from all of that.

Sharon McMahon: Hmm, I mean, you can see here my constitution, it says what at the beginning, it says ‘We the People’, right? It doesn’t say, ‘Oh, great government leaders, please save us from ourselves.’ Right? That’s it. I feel like so many Americans have adopted that mindset that it’s up to somebody else. And so, it is absolutely true that the way that we act is reflected in who we vote for. And if we want better candidates, we have to step up and start being better people. And I don’t mean to say that we’re all doing it wrong. But this is something that is going to require a concerted effort to shift. If we want change, we have to do something different.

We can’t keep doing exactly what we’re doing, and just cross our fingers that this time, it’s going to be different. If we want things to be better, we have to have hope for the future, we have to have hope that things will improve. And then we have to get our hands dirty, cannot just sit around crossing our fingers, we have to use our hands and feet to be the change that we want to see.

Boyd Matheson: As you look at the application of the principles of the Constitution, what’s the one thing we should be thinking about? Or what’s the one thing we ought to all be shouting for Washington to hear in terms of doing what it actually says in the document?

Sharon McMahon: I mean, the principles of democracy are beautifully laid out in this document. And a lot of Americans will say things like, well, we don’t have a democracy, we have a constitutional republic. I’ll just remind people that yes, a constitutional republic is the structure of government that we have. But democracy is a type of government is a concept in which people have a say in their government. And so, we are a constitutional republic that has democracy, we have a government of the people so that citizens have a right to participate in their government. I think some of the enduring principles that I love to come back to and that I think all Americans should sort of hide in their hearts are things like the rule of law.

The principles of democracy must be upheld, not just because it’s a good thing, not just because we want to vote, not just because people should have a say, but because truly America’s place in the world, is what it is because of America’s enduring democracy. And if we want to maintain that position moving forward, democracy has to be one of our highest ideals.

Boyd Matheson: How do we rebuild or strengthen that trust both between each other as individuals and with our institutions?

Sharon McMahon: In the case of government, that requires perhaps even more transparency than they are giving people now, even if they are giving more transparency now than we had 50 years ago. Even if that is true, perhaps even more is necessary in order to establish trust. And the same is true of things like institutions, like the media. Humans are human beings they get things wrong sometimes. And as much as we try not to get things wrong sometimes, we have to say, “You know what, I misspoke on that. I’m gonna correct what I said I misspoke. And what I what I should have said, was x.” And there’s lots of studies that show that somebody is actually more credible, when they say, “Oh, please accept my apologies, I misspoke. What I should have said was x.” That actually establishes credibility. But if you try to hide or you try to pretend that it didn’t happen, or you try to say like, “well, I never said that.” That damages credibility.

So, we need more honest transparency from our institutions. And we need the same thing, between us as citizens, we need to be willing to think, again, we need to be willing to say, “You know, I’ve given that some thought and I, you know, I think you might have been right,” and being willing to have the humility, as leaders and as citizens, the humility to say, “I’ve thought about that a second time. And I think I might have been wrong,” or “I can really see where you’re coming from,” even just the phrase, “I’ve thought about it some more, I can really see where you’re coming from,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that you were wrong, and they were right, it just means that you’ve thought about it again, and you have reconsidered their point of view.

That doesn’t mean you necessarily have to agree with it. But just that phrase,” you know, I’ve given it some time, I can really see where you’re coming from,” Wouldn’t that feel amazing from somebody that you’re having a disagreement with? So, I think those are just a few ideas of how we can work to establish more trust between us and more trust amongst our institutions.

Read and watch Part 1 of the “A More Perfect Union” series here.

Why Utahns may need a refresher course in civics education

KSL 5 TV Live

Why Utahns may need a refresher course in civics education

SALT LAKE CITY — Civic knowledge is alarmingly low in Utah and across the country. Only nine states require a full year of civics or government studies, and 10 states have no requirement at all.

Utah students must pass a basic civics test to receive a high school diploma, but Utah adults earned a letter grade D on civics knowledge, according to the results of a survey conducted by the Department of History and Political Science and Center for Constitutional Studies at Utah Valley University.

A second survey looked at how Utah’s kindergarten through high school senior educators teach civics.

“For the last 50 years, we have really emphasized STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math. Social studies have become a little bit of the ugly stepchild,” said Lisa Halverson, civics education fellow at the Center for Constitutional Studies at UVU.

“We discovered that teachers are committed but they lack resources.”

A heated political climate is also having an impact on teachers. Halverson said teachers made comments in the survey that they try to teach the basic standards, but even that can sometimes be controversial. Both surveys were part of the new Civic Thought & Leadership Initiative at UVU’s Center for Constitutional Studies. The legislature created the initiative in 2021 to help solve the problem of the swift decline in civility and civic awareness.

“We believe that civics education isn’t just the factual knowledge, but also the civics skills, the civic dispositions,” Halverson said.

Early initiative efforts with K-12 civics teachers are already producing positive results. So far nearly 200 civics educators have attended. These teachers represent around 20,000 students influenced in one semester.

The goal is to expand those efforts to reach the general public.

“I think what will really save us is when we the people understand the basic principles and ideas that animate our constitutional system, that we take the time to listen carefully and think about what’s going on in politics, rather than just focusing on the headlines and that we actually participate meaningfully in civic life,” said Robert Burton, civic education fellow with the Center for Constitutional Studies.

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators reintroduced a bill to improve American students’ understanding of civics and history. It would direct $1 billion in federal investment across five years to school districts, nonprofits and education centers to develop curricula and opportunities throughout K-12 education.

According to The Bipartisan Policy Center While the federal government invests five cents per K-12 student — $4 million total — in civic education, around $54 per K-12 student is invested to support STEM teaching.

Read and watch Part 2 of the “A More Perfect Union” series here.

Woman behind ‘Sharon Says So’ podcast explains how we stop screaming at each other

KSL 5 TV Live

Senator Hatch lies in state at the Utah Capitol

SALT LAKE CITY — Family, state officials and everyday Utahns paid their respects to Orrin G. Hatch on Wednesday, as the late senator lay in state at the Utah Capitol rotunda.

“It’s been unbelievable the outpouring of love from people not just in Utah but all over the world,” Brent Hatch said, son of Orrin Hatch. “I can’t keep up with the text messages and emails. It’s just amazing.”

Since his father’s passing on April 23, Brent said the number one call he’s received from people who knew Sen. Hatch in Washington is, “Why aren’t we doing this in D.C.?”

But for Brent, there was never a question of where his father should lie in state. It was always Utah, “because it meant everything to him to represent the people of Utah. He was not a D.C. politician. He was a Utah politician, and he lived that right to end.”

Hatch ran for his Senate seat in 1976, launching a career in politics that would span 42 years. When he retired in 2019, he was the longest-serving senator in Utah history and the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history.

Hatch’s last chief of staff was Matt Sandgren, who got his start working in D.C. in Hatch’s office more than 15 years ago.

Sandgren said “it’s hard to quantify” Hatch’s legacy. He described him as being exactly the same person on the Senate floor and in front of cameras as he was behind closed doors.

“He’s God-fearing. He’s a family man. And most importantly, he loved Utahns. He loved people,” Sandgren said.

“He was that real genuine person. The kindest person you’d ever meet. He inspired you to be better. That’s the kind of person you want to be around.”

Sandgren is also the executive director of the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation.

“He wanted to have his legacy continue. And in today’s political world, it is needed more than ever. The bipartisan solutions, the civility that we advocate for.”

Before his retirement, Hatch received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. But Brent said his father did not serve as a senator for the honors—but to make a difference in people’s lives.

“There will be a lot of tears shed because he made a difference in their personal life,” Brent said. “That’s a great legacy to leave, and I’m proud that he did that.”

The love people had for him was evident Wednesday, as hundreds lined up in the Capitol rotunda to pay their respects.

A painting of the late senator stood near his open casket. That painting will soon greet students from the University of Utah who will live and intern at the Orrin G. Hatch Center in Washington.

“We will miss him tremendously. But his legacy will continue,” Sandgren said.

Funeral services will begin at 1 p.m. Friday, and KSL TV will broadcast those services in their entirety.

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Orrin Hatch, Utah’s longest-serving senator, dies at age 88

SALT LAKE CITY — The longest-serving senator in Utah history, Orrin G. Hatch, has died at the age of 88, according to the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation.

According to the press release, Hatch passed away at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in Salt Lake City, with his family.

Hatch represented Utah in the Senate for 42 years, according to his website. He ended his last term in the Senate on Jan. 19, 2019, as the sixth-longest serving senator in U.S. history.

Hatch served during the administrations of seven presidents — four Republicans and three Democrats — and alongside nine Senate majority leaders — four Democrats and five Republicans.

He began his Senate tenure in 1977 as a member of the 95th Congress. Vice President Nelson Rockefeller swore in Hatch.

“Senator Orrin G. Hatch personified the American Dream,” said Matt Sandgren, executive director of the Hatch Foundation. “Born the son of a carpenter and plaster lather, he overcame the poverty of his youth to become a United States Senator. With the hardships of his upbringing always fresh in his mind, he made it his life’s mission to expand freedom and opportunity for others—and the results speak for themselves.”

The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement on Twitter  that said in part: “Senator Hatch’s tireless efforts on behalf of his country have benefitted countless lives and his strength in promoting religious freedom will be a blessing to all people of faith for generations to come.”

Multiple Utah government officials have expressed their condolences through social media.

This breaks my heart. Abby and I are so grateful for the opportunities we had to spend time with this incredible public servant. He was always so kind and generous with his time and wisdom. Utah mourns with the Hatch family.

Other officials have sent statements to KSL TV, including the 45th President of the United States of America, Donald Trump.

“I want to extend my deepest condolences to the family of the great Senator Orrin Hatch, his wife Elaine, and his six children. Orrin was a true warrior for our Country, for liberty, and for his beloved state of Utah. He was as wise as he was kind, and as tough as he was smart—he loved America and his contributions to our Country were tremendous. His legacy will surely live on through the many lives he impacted. May God bless Orrin Hatch.” – 45th President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump


“Sen. Orrin Hatch was a titan for Utah and our country. I am deeply saddened to learn of his passing. He valued building consensus over political combat, devoting time and energy to work together to provide answers that would better our state. Sen. Hatch played an indispensable role in passing some of the most significant bipartisan achievements in recent history and was a passionate defender of religious liberty. He has done immeasurable good for our state and lived an amazing life. Today Utah lost an exemplary leader. My prayers are with his family during this time of grieving.” – Utah State Senate, President J. Stuart Adams 


“Having run against Orrin Hatch twice for the U.S. Senate, I always appreciated the candor and respect we had for each other. Orrin was a tough competitor and a very talented politician.

My deepest condolences to his wonderful wife Elaine and family at this very tender time.

Rest In Peace Senator.” – Scott N. Howell; Former Utah State Senate Minority Leader and Candidate for the U.S. Senate

Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber also posted a statement on Twitter.

Gail Miller and Kim Wilson released the following statement Saturday night.

Senator Hatch, a dear friend, was an incredible leader who exemplified the principles of bi-partisanship, civility and respect. He represented not only his constituents, but our nation, as he helped to defend our precious constitution and reshape our federal judicial bench. He fought for freedom and worked tirelessly to ensure future generations would benefit from legislation that would reform taxes, improve health care, and promote technology and innovation, among many other issues. We will dearly miss our association with Senator Hatch and send our our love and prayers to his family.

Senator Hatch is survived by his wife, Elaine, and their six children. Info on funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date according to the press release.

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Alaska man gets 32 months for threatening to kill senators

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A rural Alaska man who threatened to assassinate both of Alaska’s U.S. senators in a series of profane messages left at their congressional offices was sentenced Friday to 32 months in prison.

Jay Allen Johnson was also fined $5,000, ordered to serve three years of supervised release after his prison sentence, and is barred by a protective order from contacting U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, their family and staff members for three years.

“Nothing excuses this conduct, threatening our elected officials, an act that attacks our very system of governance,” U.S. Attorney John E. Kuhn Jr. of the District of Alaska said in a statement. “The erosion of civility in our political discourse will never justify threats or acts of violence. Johnson’s actions must be punished, and the Department of Justice will always work to ensure our elected officials can serve without fear of harm.”

Johnson, who said he was too old and ill to carry out his threats, partially blamed his behavior on a mixture of pain medications and alcohol along with the isolation during the pandemic prevalent during the five-month span of 2021 when he left 17 threatening voicemails.

Johnson, 65, of Delta Junction, pleaded guilty in January to two counts of threatening to kill a U.S. official in January. Sentencing was carried out at U.S. District Court in Fairbanks.

The government sought a sentence of 37 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release along with the protective order.

Johnson sought a 30-month term or supervised release.

“The defendant’s conduct is simply unacceptable in a democracy” U.S. Assistant Attorney Ryan Tansey wrote in the government’s sentencing memo filed before the sentencing hearing. “As political violence and domestic extremism grow, violent intimidation of public officials must result in serious criminal consequences.”

In one message left at Murkowski’s office, Johnson asked, “.50 caliber shell … you ever see what that does to a human head? Yeah, well….”

In another message to Murkowski, he said: “I will find out all your properties, and I will burn everything you hope to have, and I will burn everything you hope to own.”

Johnson also blamed her for the undocumented workers who have come into the country.

“Your life is worth $5,000, that’s all it’s worth,” he said on message to Murkowski’s office. “And as you let in these terrorists, and assassins, guess what, I’m going to use them. … I’m going to use them to come and assassinate your f——— a—.”

In a message left for Sullivan, Johnson said he was tired of politicians destroying the country. He claimed he would get out his .50 caliber and start a GoFundMe page for the shells. “And I’m coming with a vengeance, motherf——-,” he said.

“Sadly, political violence of all stripes has become a clear and present danger to public safety and the functioning of our democracy,” the government memo states. “The defendant’s conduct showed his rejection of that democracy and his willingness to resort to repeated violent threats when duly elected representatives take actions with which he disagrees.”

Johnson, who has had six driving under the influence convictions, is not allowed to possess firearms because he is a felon. However, law enforcement seized seven unsecured firearms at his home when executing a search warrant.

The defense said the weapons belonged to Johnson’s wife, Catherine Pousson-Johnson. In October, when pleading that her husband be released from jail while the legal case proceeded, she was asked if she was aware if her husband was making threats against the two senators.

“Who hasn’t?” she replied.

At the same hearing, she said, “My husband is an old man, and he gets very angry listening to politics on the news.”

In the defense’s sentencing memo, attorney Jason Weiner describes Johnson as being in poor health, suffering from osteoarthritis and other ailments. He has had a series of surgeries over the years, including twice on knees, back and shoulder procedures. He has been prescribed pain medications.

He has also been diagnosed with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, the latter due to a turbulent childhood. Because of his health problems, he retired from working physical labor jobs at age 55, when his drinking began, the memo says.

He takes full responsibility for his conduct and realizes that while he never intended to carry out the verbal threats, the senators did not know that, the memo says.

“Between the prescribed narcotics, pain and self-medicating, Mr. Johnson was not himself,” the memo says.

“If anything, Mr. Johnson could use supervision not continued incarceration,” the defense memo says when asking the judge to consider three years of supervised release as an option instead of further incarceration.

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Senate panel deadlocks on Jackson; confirmation on track

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked, 11-11, Monday on whether to send Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination to the Senate floor. But President Joe Biden’s nominee was still on track to be confirmed this week as the first Black woman on the high court.

The committee’s tie vote was expected. There is an even party split on the panel, and all of the Republicans are opposing Jackson’s nomination to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer. But it was still a blow to Democrats who had hoped for robust bipartisan support. It was the first time the committee has deadlocked on a Supreme Court nomination in three decades.

In order to move forward, Democrats planned a vote to “discharge” Jackson’s nomination from committee Monday evening and then a series of procedural steps in coming days to wind it through the 50-50 Senate. With the support of at least one Republican, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Jackson is on a glidepath toward confirmation by the end of the week.

“Judge Jackson will bring extraordinary qualifications, deep experience and intellect, and a rigorous judicial record to the Supreme Court,” Biden tweeted Monday. “She deserves to be confirmed as the next justice.”

After more than 30 hours of hearings and interrogation from Republicans over her record, Jackson is on the brink of making history as the third Black justice and only the sixth woman in the court’s more than 200-year history. Democrats cite her deep experience in her nine years on the federal bench and the chance for her to become the first former public defender on the court.

The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said at Monday’s meeting that Jackson has “the highest level of skill, integrity, civility and grace.”

“This committee’s action today in nothing less than making history,” Durbin said. “I’m honored to be a part of it. I will strongly and proudly support Judge Jackson’s nomination.”

The committee’s top Republican, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, said he was opposing Jackson’s nomination because “she and I have fundamental, different views on the role of judges and the role that they should play in our system of government.”

The committee hadn’t deadlocked since 1991, when Biden was chairman and a motion to send the nomination of current Justice Clarence Thomas to the floor with a “favorable” recommendation failed on a 7-7 vote. The committee then voted to send the nomination to the floor without a recommendation, meaning it could still be brought up for a vote.

Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat on the committee, said last week that a panel tie vote on Jackson would be “a truly unfortunate signal of the continued descent into dysfunction of our confirmation process,”

So far, Democrats know they will have at least one GOP vote in the full Senate — Collins, who announced last week that she would support the nominee. Collins said that though they may not always agree, Jackson “possesses the experience, qualifications and integrity to serve as an associate justice on the Supreme Court.”

It’s unclear whether any other Republicans will join her. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky set the tone for the party last week when he said he “cannot and will not” support Jackson, citing GOP concerns raised in the hearing about her sentencing record and her backing from liberal advocacy groups.

Republicans on the Judiciary panel continued their push Monday to paint Jackson as soft on crime, defending their repeated questions about her sentencing on sex crimes.

“Questions are not attacks,” said Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, one of several GOP senators on the panel who hammered the point in the hearings two weeks ago.

Jackson pushed back on the GOP narrative, declaring that “nothing could be further from the truth.” Democrats said she was in line with other judges in her decisions. And on Monday they criticized their GOP counterparts’ questioning.

“You could try and create a straw man here, but it does not hold,” said New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

The questioning was filled with “absurdities of disrespect,” said Booker, who also is Black, and he said he will “rejoice” when she is confirmed.

Derrick Johnson, president and chief executive officer of the NAACP, expressed disappointment with the tie, even as he noted that Jackson had cleared an important hurdle. He said “history will be watching” during the full Senate vote later this week.

“It’s a stain on the committee that this vote was not unanimous but instead was a tied vote along party lines,” Johnson said.

Collins and Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were the only three to vote for Jackson when the Senate confirmed her as an appeals court judge last year. Graham said Thursday he won’t support her this time around; Murkowski said she was still deciding.

Collins’ support likely saves the Democrats from having to use Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote to confirm Biden’s pick, and the president called Collins on Wednesday to thank her. Biden had called her at least three times before the hearings, part of a major effort to win a bipartisan vote for his historic nominee.

It is expected that all 50 Democrats will support Jackson, though one notable moderate Democrat, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, hasn’t yet said how she will vote.


Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed.

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Justice Thomas slams cancel culture, ‘packing’ Supreme Court

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said he’s concerned efforts to politicize the court or add additional justices may erode the institution’s credibility, speaking Friday in Utah at an event hosted by former Republican U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch’s foundation.

Thomas, the most senior justice on the nine-member court, said he often worries about the long-term repercussions of trends such as “cancel culture” and a lack of civil debate.

“You can cavalierly talk about packing or stacking the court. You can cavalierly talk about doing this or doing that. At some point the institution is going to be compromised,” he told an audience of about 500 people at an upscale hotel in Salt Lake City.

“By doing this, you continue to chip away at the respect of the institutions that the next generation is going to need if they’re going to have civil society,” Thomas said.

Rulings this year will set laws on hot-button political issues, including abortionguns and voting rights.

The court has leaned increasingly conservative since three justices nominated by former President Donald Trump joined its ranks. Progressives have in turn called to expand the number of justices on the court, including during the 2020 presidential primary. Democrats in Congress introduced a bill last year to add four justices to the bench, and President Joe Biden has convened a commission to study expanding the court.

“I’m afraid, particularly in this world of cancel culture attack, I don’t know where you’re going to learn to engage as we did when I grew up,” he said. “If you don’t learn at that level in high school, in grammar school, in your neighborhood, or in civic organizations, then how do you have it when you’re making decisions in government, in the legislature, or in the courts?”

In addition to condemning “cancel culture,” Thomas also blasted the media for cultivating inaccurate impressions about public figures — including himself, his wife and late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Ginni Thomas, Justice Thomas’s wife and a longtime conservative activist, has faced scrutiny this year for her political activity and involvement in groups that file briefs about cases in front of the Supreme Court, as well as using her Facebook page to amplify partisan attacks.

As Congress prepares to hold confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Thomas recalled his 1991 confirmation process as a humiliating and embarrassing experience that taught him not to be overly prideful. During congressional hearings, lawmakers grilled Thomas about sexual harassment allegations from Anita Hill, a former employee, leading him to call the experience a “high tech lynching.”

If confirmed, Jackson would be the first Black woman on the court, and would join Thomas as the current court’s second Black justice.

Thomas, who grew up in Georgia during segregation, said he held civility as one of his highest values. He said he learned to respect institutions and debate civilly with those who disagreed with him during his years in school. Based on conversations he’s had with students at his university lectures in recent years, he said he doesn’t believe colleges are welcoming places for productive debate, particularly for students who support what he described as traditional families or oppose abortion.

Thomas did not reference the future of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that extended abortion rights throughout the country. The court this year is scheduled to rule on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and whether Mississippi can ban abortions at 15 weeks. While the court deliberates over the case, lawmakers in FloridaWest Virginia and Kentucky are advancing similar legislation hoping the court overturns Roe and establishes new precedent.

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Realtors luring people to areas by political ideology, including Idaho

SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) — Linda Navarre moved to Sandpoint, Idaho, from Cleveland in 1978, when the town consisted of people in the timber industry and hippies “and they all got along.”

Now she barely recognizes the small resort community near the Canadian border that is quickly growing as people disenchanted with big city life move there. Many are conservatives fed up with liberal politics in blue states.

“The division gets wider and wider,” Navarre said, adding many of the new arrivals are changing the civility of the community. “My concern is there are so many people who are not nice.”

Sandpoint is a four-season resort town built along the shores of scenic Lake Pend Oreille. It had 7,300 residents in the 2010 Census, but grew 21% in the decade to about 8,900 in the 2020 Census. In addition to the natural beauty, “people come here because it’s a red state,” said longtime resident Gail Cameron, 67.

To capitalize on that trend, a growing number of real estate companies are advertising themselves to people on the right, saying they can take them out of liberal bastions like Seattle and San Francisco and find them homes in places like rural Idaho.

Sandpoint-based Flee The City is a consortium of four businesses which specialize in selling property to conservatives in northern Idaho and western Montana. The company calls itself “a real estate firm for the vigilant.”

Flee the City has partnered with a company that provides “sustainable homes design with integrated ballistic and defensive capabilities.”
Todd Savage, whose Black Rifle Real Estate firm is part of Flee The City, said in a brief email exchange that his business is booming, thanks to “insane” left wing politics.

One of the bigger players among right-leaning real estate companies is Conservative Move, based in a suburb of Dallas. Founder and chief executive Paul Chabot said blue states have only themselves to blame for driving out conservatives.

“People are tired of out-of-control crime and forced masking,” Chabot said.

Idaho has been the fastest growing state in the nation for five years running, growing 2.9% in 2021, mostly from in-migration. But the influx of people to places like Idaho has made it harder for some long-time residents. People struggle to find housing in Sandpoint, with many houses sold the same day they are listed, after bidding wars, Cameron said.

Many of those homes are converted into vacation rentals, which tightens the market for people who live in the area, Cameron said.

Carolyn Knaack, associate director of the Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper conservation group, has lived in town for a year.

She said the confluence of the coronavirus pandemic and politics “has created a divisiveness among folks.”

“I’ve been applauded and belittled for wearing a mask,” she said. “I have friends who refused to get vaxxed.”

Savage was asked if it was desirable for people to segregate themselves by political ideology.

“I don’t agree with the term ‘segregate,'” he wrote. “Folks simply ‘vote with their feet’ relating to issues such as crime, taxes, homeschooling, gun laws, mask and vaccine mandates, Orwellian laws and out of control tyranny in the sanctuary states.”

Not everyone is a fan of what Savage and conservative realtors are doing in Sandpoint and elsewhere.

Mayor Shelby Rognstad, a Democrat, worries real estate firms that serve only conservatives “pushes Idaho more and more into a playground for extremism.
“It doesn’t bode well for our sense of community here,” said Rognstad, who is mounting a campaign for governor. “It’s a challenge to civility.”

Barbara Russell, who lives in nearby Bonners Ferry, Idaho, expressed similar concerns.

Bonners Ferry feels like it’s been overrun with white nationalists, said Russell, who owns a dance studio in the town of 2,600 residents.

“What they are doing is preparing for war,” Russell said of new arrivals, who often carry guns when in town.

“New people are moving in and they go to City Council meetings and tell people who grew up here to go back to California,” Russell said. “They are selling fear is what they are doing.”

The National Association of Realtors does not keep records of if any of its members market themselves by political ideology, spokesman Quintin Simmons said. And not all real estate agents are members of the Realtors. So it’s tough to determine if the trend of targeting conservative customers is widespread.

The Western States Center, a human rights group based in Portland, Oregon, is keeping an eye on right-leaning real estate firms, said member Kate Bitz.
“It’s just the latest of several waves of politically motivated relocation to the inland Northwest,” Bitz said.

Indeed, in past decades a variety of extremist groups, most prominently the Aryan Nations, sought to create a white homeland in northern Idaho because of the region’s small number of minorities.

“People in the United States relocate all the time,” Bitz said. “What concerns us is when white nationalists and anti-democracy actors relocate to the region with the aim of organizing, recruiting and seizing control of local institutions.”

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Trudeau revokes emergency powers after Canada blockades end

TORONTO (AP) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday he is removing emergency powers police can use after authorities ended the border blockades by those opposed to COVID-19 restrictions as well as the occupation of downtown Ottawa.

Trudeau invoked the powers last week and lawmakers affirmed the powers late Monday. Trudeau said then the powers were still needed but noted they would not stay in place a day longer than necessary.

“The situation is no longer an emergency, therefore the federal government will be ending the use of the emergencies act,” Trudeau said. “We are confident that existing laws and bylaws are sufficient to keep people safe.”

The emergencies act allows authorities to declare certain areas as no-go zones. It also allows police to freeze truckers’ personal and corporate bank accounts and compel tow truck companies to haul away vehicles.

The trucker protest grew until it closed a handful of Canada-U.S. border posts and shut down key parts of the capital for more than three weeks. But all border blockades have now ended and the streets around the Canadian Parliament are quiet.

“We were very clear that the use of the emergencies act would be limited in time,” Trudeau said. “We said we would lift it as soon as possible.”

Trudeau had warned earlier this week there were some truckers just outside Ottawa who might be planning further blockades or occupations. His public safety minister also said there was an attempt to block a border crossing in British Columbia over the weekend.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said those who had their bank accounts frozen were “influencers in the illegal protest in Ottawa, and owners and/or drivers of vehicles who did not want to leave the area.”

The protests, which were first aimed at a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers but also encompassed fury over the range of COVID-19 restrictions and hatred of Trudeau, reflected the spread of disinformation in Canada and simmering populist and right-wing anger.

The self-styled Freedom Convoy shook Canada’s reputation for civility, inspired convoys in France, New Zealand and the Netherlands and interrupted trade, causing economic damage on both sides of the border. Hundreds of trucks eventually occupied the streets around Parliament, a display that was part protest and part carnival.

For almost a week the busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing, the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, was blocked. The crossing sees more than 25% of the trade between the two countries.

Authorities moved to reopen the border posts, but police in Ottawa did little but issue warnings until Friday, even as hundreds and sometimes thousands of protesters clogged the streets of the city and besieged Parliament Hill.

On Friday, authorities launched the largest police operation in Canadian history, arresting a string of Ottawa protesters and increasing that pressure on Saturday until the streets in front of Parliament were clear. Eventually, police arrested at least 191 people and towed away 79 vehicles. Many protesters retreated as the pressure increased.

A small convoy of truckers demanding an end to coronavirus mandates began a cross-country drive from California to the Washington, D.C., area on Wednesday.

Several hundred people rallied in a parking lot in the cold, windswept Mojave Desert town of Adelanto before about two dozen trucks and a number of other vehicles hit the road. It wasn’t clear how many intended to go all the way.

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