The winners and the losers

Published: Saturday, May 28 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

Winner: It didn't take officers from the Unified Police Department long. Only a few weeks ago, Gov. Gary Herbert signed a law that makes the synthetic drugs Spice and bath salts illegal. This week, police served search warrants on businesses and recovered 14 pounds of each substance, worth a combined $74,000 or so. Until now, the substances had fallen through the cracks in state law because they were not specifically covered. But they are dangerous, they are a threat to orderly society, and now they are illegal, as well.

Loser: A harmless game among friends? That's how one man tried to describe a poker game that was raided in Salt Lake City this week. Police think otherwise, and their theory was bolstered by the discovery of drugs, a gun with ammunition and possible evidence of money laundering. Add all that to the poker tables and chips. Yes, gambling remains illegal in Utah, and for good reason.

Winner: The arrest this week of Ratko Mladic, after 10 years on the run, was a victory for the rule of law and for the notion that the world will not relent in its pursuit of scoundrels. Mladic stands accused of executing more than 7,000 Muslims in Srbrenica in 1995, among other murderous crimes. Significantly, it also was an important victory for Serbia, whose bid to join the European Union had snagged on accusations authorities were not seriously pursuing Mladic's whereabouts.

Loser: The Fourth of July will be a bit darker this year. Organizers of the Sugarhouse Park fireworks display announced this week they are canceling this year's event after more than two decades. Two years ago, when the Sugar House Park Authority announced it couldn't afford to keep the show going, donations came in amounts large enough to cover costs for awhile. But there are limits to what community giving can bring. We understand that a lot of fun little events — the frills of community life — can succumb to a tough economy. But this one once drew as many as 35,000 people and, come Independence Day, will be missed.

Winner? Loser? We all will find out fairly soon which it is when it comes to flood control. A trustee for the Weber Basin Water conservancy District put it best this week when he said, "When all else fails, you get on your knees and pray and get up and go to work in the morning." Parleys Summit has 607 percent of average snowpack, Chalk Creek is at 947 percent and Smith-Morehouse is at 1,286 percent. All of that water has to go somewhere when warm temperatures come. A lot of infrastructure has been built since the floods of 1983, but will it be enough?

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