• Winner? We were glad to see that Rocky Mountain Power decided this week to back off its earlier threat to reduce customer service because it didn't get as big a rate increase from the Public Service Commission as it had requested. But we were far less excited about news that power company officials had met with legislative leaders to discuss concerns about the PSC decision.
The PSC exists to even-handedly evaluate the rates of companies, such as Rocky Mountain Power, that are not subject to competitive market forces. That even-handedness would disappear if politicians got involved, especially considering Utah's lax campaign-donation laws allow the power company to donate generously to politicians.
• Loser: After all the debates in legislatures nationwide over whether to outlaw cell phones while driving, it was frightening to learn that a massive train collision in California happened after the engineer of one of the trains had texted someone on a cell phone. The engineer ran through a red light and did not apply the train's brakes before the accident, an Associated Press report said.
Laws can trigger appropriate penalties to punish bad behavior. In this case, unfortunately, texting cost the engineer and 24 other people their lives. Truly ending this distracting problem will require a cultural change.
• Loser: Laws that require mandatory minimum sentences are bad for democracy. They take away the power a judge or jury has to set an appropriate punishment for a crime, taking all factors into consideration.
Weldon Angelos deserved to be punished for selling marijuana and for possessing a gun while he committed the crime. But he probably didn't deserve a blanket 55-year sentence in federal prison. This week, after five years in prison, he filed papers asking a judge to vacate his sentence. While that request works its way through court, we suggest Congress change the law to return the power of sentencing where it belongs.
• Winner? We're not sure what to make of the House passing an energy bill this week that allows oil shale development in Utah. Last time it was tried, shale extraction proved to be a huge loser. While some people claim technology has improved enough since then to make it a winner, Utahns probably should be hopeful, but skeptical.