Loser: It's the time of year again when temperature inversions make the air along the Wasatch Front difficult to breathe. Inversions are part of the geographical uniqueness of the area. The topography is perfect for trapping cold, stagnant air in the valleys while the warm, clear air remains aloft. The best local residents can do is to try to reduce their emissions by driving less and not using fireplaces or wood-burning stoves. They also can take precautions for the next week or so, avoiding strenuous activity and paying close attention to people already in bad health. Beyond that, we can all hope the smog lifts in time so Santa's reindeer can see where to land.
Winner: Utah will miss John Nixon. He's been the executive director of the Utah Governor's Office of Planning and Budget, but now the governor of Michigan has hired him away to do the same job there. This is quite a compliment. Michigan is mired in debt and its economy is in shambles. Utah's economy is relatively healthy. Part of that is due to elected officials who budget conservatively. But much of it is due to Nixon, as well, whose input and recommendations are relied on by policy makers.
Loser: Admittedly, its a gamble each year. Local governments try to guess how much money they will need for snow removal, and the state allocates some for the roads it owns. Then mother nature chimes in. Unfortunately, the recent snowstorms put some municipalities in a pickle. West Jordan has used up 75 percent of its snow budget already. Murray has already used up all the salt left over from last winter. And, officially, winter hasn't even started yet. Unless the rest of the season is dry, which is highly unlikely, cities will have to dip into other funds to keep traffic flowing smoothly, adding further pressure to already tight budgets.
Winner: Nobody really knows what the X-37B spacecraft is all about — well, nobody outside a few need-to-know military folks, that is. But the unmanned craft returned safely to earth this week after being in orbit since April, and that, everyone seems to agree, is a very good thing. The military insists the main reason for the mission was to test the vehicle itself, but of course, that's what they want us to believe. Regardless, any success of a new space vehicle with the help of NASA is worth applauding. Regardless of its purpose, we're fairly certain it's better for the United States to have it than the nation's enemies.
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