BWW Review: HIR at Salt Lake Acting Company

The title of the Salt Lake Acting Company mainstage production needs explanation. It is HIR, which is also a newly devised third-person singular, gender-neutral personal pronoun for a man or woman transitioning to the opposite sex. It combines him and her.

Pronounce it as "here" — but it’s not to be confused with a nearby location, a running gag of the show. (Ze is to be used in place of he and she.)

Hir is also the preferred pronoun of the play’s protagonist, Max, who has been known as Maxine.

"Max!" yells Paige, hir’s mother. "Come out here and explain your gender ambiguity to your brother."

Isaac, Max’s brother, opens the door upon his return home after three years and is completely mystified: "This place is a fucking disaster."

To explain the premise of the four-character piece, Isaac is returning from military service. "Domestic adversity," according to Paige, shouldn’t be discussed while servicemen are deployed oversea.

It’s not just the transition of his sibling that has Isaac shocked. The house resembles depictions of the A&E reality series "Hoarders," including Isaac not being able to use the front door and dayglow drawings on walls and furniture . Along with Max’s revelation, Isaac’s father Arnold has had a stroke, rendering him handicapped — nearly incoherent, mostly nonverbal and physically debilitated.

Also, the formerly abusive Arnold is dressed as a woman, force-fed blender-fresh pink-colored "shakey-shakes" — with estrogen, prescribed medications and assorted chemical cocktails. And he has white-faced clown makeup and a dime-store rainbow afro wig. To complete Arnold’s abuse, Paige squirts him with water as if he were a pesky pet when she considers him misbehaving.

Paige’s outlook on life has completely changed, although her "paradigm shift" doesn’t seem to alarm Isaac.

SLAC’s production of HIR is highly professional and top-notch, with three splendid performances under Tracy Callahan’s spirited, superb direction. The black comedy is great fun and deeply appreciated.

The playwright’s intent is fully realized in this staging. The company admirably continues its dedication to bold and brave new playwriting.

Along with the storyline, it would also help theatergoers to have an understanding of absurdist realism style of the HIR playwright, Taylor Mac. An acclaimed deconstructive performance artist (for the Obie-winning "The Lily’s Revenge"), Mac was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for "A 24-Decade History of Popular Music," a 24-hour-long production. Turning to Wikipedia to research the author, we learn of resisting "categorization by the press: After being described as Ziggy Stardust meets Tiny Tim, Mac created ‘Comparison Is Violence, or the Ziggy Stardust Meets Tiny Tim Songbook.’" His preferred gender pronoun is "judy" (lowercase).

The play is deeply challenging, by design. Perhaps due to its startling combination of absurdism and realism. Might Isaac’s frequent vomiting into the kitchen sink reference conservative theatergoers’ anticipated reaction of the playwright’s radical stance?

But the problem I had with HIR, after the fantastical fish-out-of-water premise established in the first act, is the play goes nowhere. Act 2 meanders, with no dramatic tension at intermission to anticipate a second act. HIR makes no valid point other than to humorously tweak transgenderism and indicate continuing spousal abuse. (But why is Arnold’s violence toward his family only mentioned by Paige?) Act 2 needs an enhancing Reason to Be, or raison d’être for the studious.

We do humorously learn that Noah was transphobic when selecting animals for the Ark. "Did he invite the snakes that don’t care about their gender and procreate by having massive snake orgies?" And the room temperature is altered with arguments whether the air conditioning should be on or off. The model for the Mona Lisa is again speculated.

The audience is left wondering that if HIR were written from a different perspective — to embrace Isaac’s warm acceptance of Max’s new role and the sympathy he feels toward Arnold — the play would have been more rewarding while still subversive, and gleefully insubordinate, absurdism.

Austin Archer is brilliant as the bewildered vet, continuing his impressive list of varied performances that includes twelve roles at SLAC and massively different characters in Pioneer Theatre Company’s "Newsies," "A Few Good Men" and "Spelling Bee," to name three.

The powerhouse Christy Summerhays is dazzling as Paige as she walks the thin line between monster and mother, while being self-aware of the two sides of the coin. We simultaneously love her and hate her. But it’s painful to watch Paige’s over-the-top horrific and dehumanizing debasement Arnold casually endures, perhaps because the role is so richly played by veteran actor Richard Scott.

Liggera Edmonds-Allen’s tongue-twisting lines — "joining a radical fairy commune where they have gender queers who have actual discourse and ideas and where they grow their own food and recycle and have heart circles and sexual freedom" — are clear. With only one previous stage role, the inexperience and stunt casting saps energy opposite the other actors’ excellence.

HIR is strives to be an audacious redefinition of mainstream theater programming. Audiences should come fully prepared to appreciate the production. Recognize the playwright’s intent and enjoy a fun night of theater.

Both SLAC and the playwright know that HIR will not be everyone’s cup of tea. But it might just be an energizing shakey-shake.

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Penn State’s Class of 2018 looks complete as legacy recruit, 4-star WR Solomon Enis picks Utah

Solomon Enis with dad, Curtis, at Penn State’s Beaver Stadium. (

Solomon Enis will not follow in his father’s footsteps.

The son of former Penn State running back great Curtis Enis and a four-star receiver from Phoenix, Ariz., picked Utah over the Lions, Arizona State, and USC during a ceremony at his high school on Wednesday.

Predictions from the 247Sports’ Crystal Ball flipped wildly into the Utes favor late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, which signaled a major shift in Solomon Enis’ recruitment considering the Lions had long been viewed as the favorite.

That said, things became dicey in recent week as the December signing period came and went, as did the month of January, and Enis did not commit to the Lions despite having them seemingly on top. He even attended the Fiesta Bowl in Penn State gear, but he won’t wear it in college.

The Lions are not empty handed at the position in this cycle, as they signed five-star Justin Shorter and four-stars Daniel George and Jahan Dotson back in December.

As of early Wednesday afternoon, Penn State has 23 Class of 2018 commitments and sits with a top-five class nationally, and the signing group now appears to be complete.

Penn State head coach James Franklin greets commit Nana Asiedu during the annual Blue-White game at Beaver Stadium on April 22, 2017.Joe Hermitt |
Penn State commits Nick Tarburton, Charlie Katshir, Justin Shorter, Ricky Slade and Jesse Luketa visit before the Pitt game at Beaver Stadium on Sept. 9, 2017. Joe Hermitt |

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Utah at Colorado Open Thread

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Utes are in Boulder looking for their 8th straight win over the Buffs, and to go a game above .500 in Pac-12 play. Winning on the road in the Pac-12 is tough, especially in Boulder, where the Buffs took down Arizona and ASU a couple weeks back, the same week that Utah got swept by both of those schools.

The recipe is simple for Utah, rebound and don’t turnover the ball. I don’t think Colorado has the talent to run away from a team, so the Utes just have to be smart and not let CU have a bunch of extra possessions. As always, we know Utah will go though some kind of offensive drought, but they have to find a way to minimize it, because things like that can kill you on the road. I’m very intereted to see how Utah handles Colorado’s size, because the size of other teams has given Utah fits.

Here’s hoping the Utes can get another W tonight.

Go Utes!

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Local officials urged to plan for Utah’s population boom

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A regional planning group told local leaders that Utah’s rapidly growing population could double commute times, ramp up housing costs and amplify air quality problems in the coming decades without careful planning along the Wasatch Front urban core.

Executive Director of the Wasatch Front Regional Council Andrew Gruber warned a crowd of mayors, city council members and other local officials of the looming population boom Tuesday at the Wasatch Choice 2050 + Mayor’s Metro-Solutions Symposium.

Utah’s population is projected to hit more than 5 million by 2050, the Deseret News reported .

"Growth. We keep hearing about it," Gruber said. "It’s this omnipresent issue. We have been growing, we are growing today, we will continue to grow in the future, and we have all that growth occurring here in the Wasatch Front — we’re bounded by the mountains on one side and then the lake and the mountains on the other.

Gruber said local leaders strategically working together to plan for the future and build smarter communities — with more housing options, prioritizing open space and more transit-oriented developments, with a variety of transportation choices.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams announced the Wasatch Choice for 2050 vision, an initiative to encourage cities and counties to work together to plan for the population boom along the Wasatch Front.

The Wasatch Choice 2050 vision is in draft form, Gruber said, so he’s hoping residents will give input on what they want for their communities.

"If we don’t coordinate with cities and counties, you’ll see wasted tax dollars first and foremost," McAdams said. "You’ll have an investment — maybe a road widening in one city that bottlenecks in the next city."

If cities and counties work to implement the goals of the Wasatch Choice 2050 vision, residents could have access to 57 percent more jobs within 30 minutes of their homes in the next 30 years, Gruber said.


Information from: Deseret News,

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Utah State University student hospitalized after eating Tide Pod

A Utah State University student was reportedly rushed to a hospital Saturday after ingesting a Tide Pod, which has become a dangerous trend on social media as teens dare each other to eat the miniature, neon, detergent-filled pods.

Campus police initially called the incident a “Tide Pod overdose,” but Eric Warren, director of media relations at USU, told FOX 13 Salt Lake City the female student ingested a Tide Pod.

Utah State University walked back on its claim the Tide Pod ingestion by a female student was related to the social media craze. The school said in a statement to FOX 13 Salt Lake City, “the incident was not in any way connected to a larger trend involving tide pods.”

KWCH-TV reported the female was taken to a local hospital, but her condition was not immediately made available.

Tide Pod challenge: What is it?

The incident comes after doctors warned people earlier this month not to eat the laundry pods due to health concerns. The warning was sparked by social media posts and online videos of people participating in the "#TidePodChallenge" that involves eating the pods and filming the reaction.

The challenge appeared to begin as a joke in an article in The Onion, a satirical news organization. In 2017, College Humor posted a satirical video of a man eating the pods because they looked inviting and delicious, USA Today reported.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, which compiles numbers on poison control calls, poison control centers in 2016 and 2017 handled 39 and 53 cases of intentional exposures, respectively, among 13- to 19-year-olds.

In the first 15 days of 2018 alone, the AAPCC said poison centers have already handled 39 such intentional cases among the same age demographic.

“The ‘laundry packet challenge’ is neither funny nor without serious health implications,” AAPCC’s CEO and Executive Director Stephen Kaminski said in a statement. “The intentional misuse of these products poses a real threat to the health of individuals. We have seen a large spike in single-load laundry packet exposures among teenagers since these videos have been uploaded.”

Social media trend has teens chewing Tide Pods

As the challenge picked up traction earlier this year on social media, Tide’s parent company Procter & Gamble quickly took action. On Jan. 12, they released a cautionary video starring New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski scolding viewers of even thinking of snacking on Tide Pods.

A P&G spokesperson told Fox Business they are working with leading social media networks to remove harmful content from the web, and detailed actions taken to reduce accidental exposure to the product since its debut in 2012.

“Each year laundry pacs have been on the market, we’ve taken meaningful steps to reduce accidental exposure," the spokesperson said. "We have co-led the development of industry standard since its initiation and taken actions including adding child resistant closures to the bags and tubs and adding bittering substances to the packets to deter accidental ingestion. We’ve also worked with organizations like Safe Kids Worldwide to educate parents and caregivers on safe use and storage."

YouTube has also stepped up, banning all challenge videos as they violate community guidelines.

‘Tide pod challenge’ draws warnings from doctors

“YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibit content that’s intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm,” a YouTube spokesperson told The Daily Meal on Jan. 18. “We work to quickly remove flagged videos that violate our policies.”

Fox News’ Kathleen Joyce and Jeanine Puhak contributed to this report.

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CalAtlantic Homes Acquires Utah-based Candlelight Homes

Acquisition Provides Ownership and or Control of 2,500 Homesites Across 19 New Communities

SALT LAKE CITY, Jan. 18, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — CalAtlantic Homes, one of the nation’s leading homebuilders, today announced the acquisition of homebuilding operations of Utah-based Candlelight Homes, one of the largest privately held homebuilders in the Utah market. As a result of the transaction, CalAtlantic now owns or controls an additional 2,500 homesites across 19 communities, ten of which are actively selling. The balance of the communities are expected to open in 2019. In connection with the acquisition, CalAtlantic has extended offers of employment to all employees of Candlelight Homes who were engaged in the company’s homebuilding business. Zelman Partners served as exclusive investment banker to Candlelight Homes.

The Home Builders Association (HBA) of Greater Austin awarded CalAtlantic Homes with the Grand MAX Large Volume Builder of the Year Award for the second consecutive year at their annual Marketing and Advertising Excellence (MAX) Awards and Gala. (PRNewsfoto/CalAtlantic Homes)

"Candlelight Homes has built a reputation for offering innovative, beautiful home designs in locations where discerning homebuyers want to live," said Dave Prolo, Utah Division President for CalAtlantic Homes. "This acquisition provides CalAtlantic with a diverse portfolio of homesites, which accommodate homes ranging from 1,100 to 4,000 square feet located throughout northern Utah County, Salt Lake County and southern Davis County. This exciting acquisition aligns with CalAtlantic’s commitment to provide exceptional homeownership opportunities to buyers across the home buying spectrum."

"Utah’s strong economy offers a tremendous opportunity for CalAtlantic to expand upon the success Candlelight Homes has already achieved in the Salt Lake City market," said Joe Salisbury, Partner of Candlelight Homes. "We are confident CalAtlantic’s core values and resources will enhance the value and expand opportunities available to Utah homebuyers."

About CalAtlantic Group, Inc.
CalAtlantic Group, Inc. (CAA), one of the nation’s largest and most respected homebuilders, offers well-crafted homes in thoughtfully designed communities that meet the desires of customers across the homebuilding spectrum, from entry level to luxury, in 43 Metropolitan Statistical Areas spanning 19 states. With a trusted reputation for quality craftsmanship, an outstanding customer experience and exceptional architectural design earned over its 50-year history, CalAtlantic Group, Inc. utilizes its over five decades of land acquisition, development and homebuilding expertise to acquire and build desirable communities in locations that meet the high expectations of the company’s homebuyers. We invite you to learn more about us by visiting

About Candlelight Homes
Candlelight Homes is one of the largest privately held homebuilders in Utah. This award-winning company offers a diverse range of single-family and townhome options with a geographic concentration spanning northern Utah County, Salt Lake County and southern Davis County. Beautiful elevations and desirable communities are why Candlelight Homes is recognized as one of the top homebuilders in Utah. For more information, visit

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Salt Lake City’s Kelsey Chugg is taking on the golf world, thanks to a national victory

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Kelsey Chugg recently won a national golf title, the U.S. Mid-Amateur. She plays the Salt Lake City courses seen here at Forest Dale Golf Course.

Not long afterward, the message arrived in her in-box. Lewis was inviting her to play a practice round during the U.S. Women’s Open in May. Chugg had forgotten that Lewis’ husband, Gerrod Chadwell, coached her for a year in junior college.

That’s just another sign of how everything came together perfectly for Chugg during her week in Houston, with the latest United States Golf Association championship for a Utah golfer creating all kinds of possibilities for her in 2018. Chugg’s schedule of major events starts Saturday in the South American Amateur in Argentina, as one of four players representing the USGA.

It will be a year filled with big-time golf for Chugg, 26, who works as the Utah Golf Association’s membership director. Her USGA victory created those opportunities, with performance that stemmed from her experience in Utah golf.

As a four-time winner of the Utah Women’s State Amateur, Chugg becomes “like a different person” in match play, said Lynsey Myers, her coach. “I’d put her up against anyone.”

The summary of the Women’s Mid-Am, for golfers 25 and older, is how Chugg dominated her six opponents in match play. The back story is even better – how she opened the stroke-play portion of the tournament with an 85, cried in the parking lot, then practiced for a while and drove to the home where the tournament provided her housing.

In that setting, Chugg regrouped. She posted an even-par 72 in the second round and thrived in match play, never having to play the 18th hole of Champions Golf Club in Houston in those six matches.

(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Anna Kennedy (BYU) tees off on 18 during the 111th Utah WomenÕs State Amateur Championship held at Davis Park Golf Course in Fruit Heights, Friday, August 4, 2017. Kennedy finished second to Kelsey Chugg of Weber State.

Utah’s history of USGA winners now covers 91 years, dating to George Von Elm’s defeat of Bobby Jones in the 1926 U.S. Amateur. Other victories for Utah-born golfers have come more recently. In the 1995 U.S. Junior Amateur in North Dakota, West Bountiful’s Scott Hailes defeated future PGA Tour winner James Driscoll in the finals. Annie Thurman Young of Alpine, then an Oklahoma State golfer, claimed the 2002 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links title. And in 2005, former Davis High School golfer Clay Ogden defeated Michelle Wie in the quarterfinals on his way to victory in the U.S. Amateur Public Links in Ohio.

Chugg is a self-described “blue-collar person” and “golf nerd.” Raised by a mother who moved frequently, she grew up mainly in California and Arizona and spent summers with her grandparents in the Ogden area. Merlin Judkins, a relative, would take her to Davis Park Golf Course and Schneiter’s Riverside. “That’s how we sort of bonded,” Judkins said. “You could tell she was athletic; you could tell she loved the game.”

Judkins is one of many strong influences in Chugg’s golf development. She worked at a semi-private course in Arizona, where noted instructor Kene Bensel took an interest in her. She became a junior college star at Redlands, becoming even more devoted to the game, and thrived for two years in Weber State’s program, coached by the late Jeff Smith.

People like to help her. In Houston, where Myers counseled her by phone after that poor opening round, Chugg benefitted from having Don Goldberg, the husband of Utah golfer Annette Gaiotti, caddy for her in the second round. As the father of an Olympic skier, “He knows a lot about the mental game,” Chugg said. “He definitely kept me calm.”

Kelsey’s MajorsNational and international tournaments in 2018 for Salt Lake City’s Kelsey Chugg, stemming from her 2017 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur victory:South American Amateur – Saturday-Tuesday, Martindale Country Club, Buenos Aires, Argentina.U.S. Women’s Open – May 31-June 3, Shoal Creek Country Club, Shoal Creek, Ala.U.S. Open (exhibition of USGA champions) – June 12, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, N.Y.U.S. Women’s Amateur – Aug. 6-12, The Golf Club of Tennessee, Kingston Springs, Tenn.U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur – Sept. 22-27, Norwood Hills Country Club, St. Louis, Mo.

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Biskupski at midterm: What’s accomplished, what’s ahead for Salt Lake City

By the calendar, Mayor Jackie Biskupski is at the midpoint of her term leading Salt Lake City government, but she sees both more, and less.

More, because, in her calculation, she’s achieved more, and in less time, than she anticipated — or that her detractors might concede.

Biskupski, who turns 52 on Thursday, was speaking on one of the last days of a bumpy year that ended on a high note: In its final meetings of 2017, the City Council approved, with some tweaks, her administration’s proposals for creating a faster, cleaner transit system, as well as plans to subsidize and support affordable housing development in a city confronting a huge shortage of it.

“We set a course that in my mind was really for eight years, and so you look at it, we have accomplished our clean energy plan, we have our transit plan, we have our housing plan,” Biskupski said. “We created the Department of Economic Development, and they’ve brought 4,000 jobs into our economy since a year ago July. We have really bolstered our role in the state of Utah and are taking on the leadership as a capital city as we should be and that is very exciting.”

Add to that, she mentions, a utility agreement that puts the city on course to meet her goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving 100 percent clean energy use by 2032.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski reflects on the past year and looks ahead during a sit down interview in her office at the Salt Lake City and County Building on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017.

The Economic Development office, in a year-end announcement, upped the projected jobs number to more than 6,000, along with a projected $483 million in new capital investment, including economic activity generated by new distribution centers Amazon and UPS are bringing to the city’s northwest quadrant.

And yet, Biskupski, who has gained national attention as an outspoken climate-change fighter, not to mention as the progressive lesbian mayor of crimson-red Utah’s capital, still contends with criticism at home — thinly veiled and, at times, out in the open.

Two years after her close win over two-term Mayor Ralph Becker — the first loss by an incumbent mayor since the 1979 introduction of mayor-council government — detractors grumble that she remains thin-skinned, combative and defensive, with a habit of claiming all credit for initiatives or successes that aren’t fully hers, and a governing style that puts her frequently in conflict with others — primarily, the City Council.

An end-of-year bonhomie between council and mayor’s office rode on the transit and housing plan approvals, not to mention an approved plan to hire dozens more police officers. But the good feelings on display seemed to mask lingering antagonism: At year‘s end, two departing council members had tough parting words about their difficulties working with her administration.

The mayor’s office gave a measured response, praising the council members for their service and blaming friction on a tough and busy two years for everyone. That de-escalation was taken as a promising harbinger, a hint that relations between mayor and council might be heading for a thaw — if the mayor’s office, as skeptics predict, doesn’t try to dominate.

Though their paths have often diverged, the mayor and council “ultimately want the same thing,” said council member Erin Mendenhall, elected last week by her colleagues as chairwoman.

“It’s just not efficient for the branches of government to be battling,” she said. “It is inefficient for us to work separately and expect that we will come together at the end on big issues. We’re building those opportunities to work together already.”

Mayor Jackie Biskupski signs an executive memo on housing policy Tuesday night, Dec. 12, 2017, moments after the City Council approved a new comprehensive housing policy for the city to guide development over the next five years.

“It’s been an interesting time for me,” she said. “When I first came into office, mayors across the country took note of my election. They were surprised and curious: ‘Who is this lesbian in a red state that is a single mom’” — she has since married — “’and became mayor of a capital city?’”

“What’s unique for me is that there are other organizations out there that have taken notice,” she said, citing former New York City Michael Bloomberg’s What Works Cities philanthropic initiative that helps cities run better.

“Those kinds of opportunities are happening because of me being recognized as a leader, but also, as we were working with the experts in our departments, it became very clear that there is capacity and capability to make the most of the opportunity.”

There have been a fair share of unscripted events that put her in the national news, or set her up for criticism. Take, for example, last summer’s police manhandling and arrest of a University of Utah hospital nurse, which brought an emphatic, but delayed response. For another, the city’s effort to deal with rising homelessness, including the August launch of the Operation Rio Grande enforcement initiative it prompted, was not universally supported and created its own moments of friction.

Biskupski was not the pick of the six of seven council members who endorsed a candidate in the 2015 mayor’s race, and her early moves on staffing her administration drew criticism, both coming and going. She let go of the city’s public services director, who had served more than 30 years. Her first choice to replace him didn’t last 30 days.

Those and other early missteps are almost two years behind her. She now praises a “very conscientious” and diverse administration — members of her immediate staff together speak a half-dozen languages — that is “driven by a strong moral code. They truly care about the people in this city, and they want to be proud of the work they do.”

Working with a council that endorsed her election opponent, she acknowledged, engendered “some hard feelings coming in as the new mayor.” But with changes in council leadership, “I can already feel a difference in the working relationship.”

“I’m very grateful for that because I think it’s time to let go and be moving forward and working together in a very collaborative way,” Biskupski said. “We all have the same goals. We all want these same issues to be at the forefront, and we have a real opportunity now to really work very closely together to effect change.”

A conversation tangent brings up the subject of 2017’s emergent #MeToo movement — social media’s branding for the year’s transformational response to sexual aggression against women. The mayor applauded the efforts that put the spotlight on the issue and said they must continue, “because the oppression that comes with sexual assault or sexual harassment really has an impact on women in our society in a very negative way.”

“I certainly can say that I have felt judged more harshly as a leader than my male peers,” she added when asked for her personal experience. “Consistently, ever since I’ve been elected, I’ve always had to work harder and smarter to make sure that my goals could be achieved.”

“Because if you look at it, my budgets have been passed with very little change. We’ve been very fiscally responsible. We have taken action on just about everything that I talked about in my State of the City address. We’re at about an A-minus,” she said.

“We haven’t gotten everything done or launched,” she added. “But again, that vision I laid out in my State of the City [address] was something that I felt was an eight-year plan, but almost all of it happened in the first two years. That’s pretty amazing.”

As for the public’s assessment, the latest poll on her popularity is nearly a year old: The Salt Lake Tribune/Hinckley Institute survey, conducted amid a public hue and cry over the announcement of new homeless shelter sites, put her approval/disapproval rating at 51-43. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

That middling result, if it persists, could play into how she governs this year — hiring new police officers is likely to require a property tax hike, never a favorite option for a politician facing re-election — not to mention who might step up to challenge her in 2019. Stan Penfold, who left the council this month after two terms, deflected questions last month about whether he planned to run.

Biskupski said she wants “very much to have a strong partnership” with the city’s school system. The district is fully independent, but the mayor speaks of partnering to support and respond to unmet needs, like pre-K education for all city children and a new elementary school. She mentions her move to name a new top-level adviser for education, Angela Doan, a former teacher turned lawyer.

“There’s really a desire by the city, and I believe by the council as well, to help on education, and we have community partners that are in the wings waiting also to be helpful,” she said. “What we’re trying to say to the school district is ‘you are doing great things but there are still needs we are being told about by people who live in this community and we want to be able to help. We’re not trying to tell you how to do your jobs. We’re showing up and saying we have partners with resources.‘“

She said the city’s slow-burn housing crisis “weighs on me” and that she wants “more truly affordable housing coming online very quickly.” Projects put forward by a mayor-appointed commission — four in all, with a total 262 affordable units — got tax-credit funding in December. The first units built under those projects could be occupied by June 2019, she said.

Besides affordable housing, which also counts toward alleviating homelessness, the city has an overall shortage of 8,000 homes and also needs to create the transitional housing required for those who will be moving out of new planned homeless resource centers on their way to permanent housing.

Work on implementing the initial stages of the new transit master plan will get underway, she said. Besides transit, she wants the city to take advantage of an upcoming opening in its borrowing capacity to invest in long-overdue road and streetscape improvements.

“We’re looking at a potential bond,” she said. “We have a bonding capacity of up to $87 million, and the cost per household is less than $4.50 per year.”

Biskupski said she would offer more detail in her Jan. 31 State of the City address. But her plans clearly carry past the horizon of her current term.

“I definitely came in wanting two terms,” she said. “I want to make sure that all the plans that we are getting passed through the council get implemented, that we make real progress, that we create foundational shifts that the next leadership that comes in can just springboard from and continue to make progress.”

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Great Salt Lake boat patrol added to search for missing plane out of Ogden

Image by: Photo supplied/Adobe Stock/janifest/Fotolia

This story was updated at 4:28 p.m. with additional information.

BOX ELDER COUNTY — No new leads had developed in the search for two men and a missing aircraft out of Ogden as of Sunday afternoon, but family is asking for photos from people who were at the Golden Spike Historical Site Friday.

The search for pilot Denny Mansell, 71, and passenger Peter Ellis, 74, continued Sunday morning, with an added boat patrol from the Utah Department of Parks and Recreation checking the Great Salt Lake, according to a news release from the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office.

“There have been several tips that have come in and all have been investigated, however no definitive leads have developed. Search efforts will continue until nightfall,” Box Elder Chief Deputy Dale Ward said in the release.

The search area has been covered from the air at least once and, in some areas, multiple times, Ward said.

Search efforts will begin to scale back, starting with the dismissal of the Department of Public Safety helicopter and the Civil Air Patrol. A joint meeting was held with ground and air search units and search track records were compared.

Ground search efforts will be also scaled back, the release said, but the sheriff’s office, Box Elder Search and Rescue, and the Utah Division of Natural Resources will continue to search on the lake.

Mansell and Ellis left the Ogden-Hinckley Airport around 3:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 29, in a red and white Cessna 172 to fly to the Promontory area to watch the trains during the Steam Festival at the Golden Spike Historical Site. The two planned to return around 4:30 p.m. the same day.

The family of the missing men asks that anyone who was at the festival on Friday afternoon and has evidence that the plane was there, such as photos, to send them to The plane was likely in the area between 3-5 p.m.

“If we can establish that they flew the Golden Spike Site, it will help narrow the search area,” Ward said in the release.

The search for the missing men began Friday night with sheriff’s deputies searching at ground-level and a helicopter from the Utah Department of Public Safety searching from the skies, the release said.

Reach digital producer Jessica Kokesh at 801-625-4229 or You can also follow her on Twitter at @JessicaKokesh or

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It’s time to take note of Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell

SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell turned off his phones, crawled into bed and stared at the ceiling for what felt like forever, still in a giddy sense of shock.

He had about as good of a chance of getting a good night of sleep as the New Orleans Pelicans did of stopping him hours earlier.

The 21-year-old was fresh off breaking the Utah Jazz’s franchise rookie record for points in a game. Mitchell had poured in 41 points in the win, including 17 in the fourth quarter, picking apart the Pelicans with a combination of 3-pointers and drives that made Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey think, "That’s what it feels like [when] Damian Lillard gets it going against us."

PLAYERTEAMPTSSEASONLeBron James*CLE412003-04Carmelo AnthonyDEN412003-04Kevin Durant*SEA422007-08Eric GordonLAC412008-09Stephen CurryGS422009-10Blake Griffin*LAC44, 472010-11Donovan MitchellUTA412017-18* won Rookie of the Year

"I don’t think I stopped smiling from the time I had 35 points until 3:30 in the morning," Mitchell says. "The whole thing is just crazy to me. This whole experience is just a whirlwind. The fact that I’m doing what I’m doing is just amazing to me, and I just want to keep it going."

You didn’t see Donovan Mitchell coming? Neither did he.

Mitchell didn’t expect to emerge as the go-to guy the Jazz desperately needed after Gordon Hayward’s summer departure in free agency. He didn’t anticipate leading all rookies in scoring. Mitchell, the No. 13 overall pick, certainly didn’t think that he’d be building a convincing case that he’s the best player in his draft class.

Heck, Mitchell didn’t even plan on being part of this draft class. He paid all of his expenses when he traveled to Thousand Oaks, California, in the spring to participate in the Creative Artists Agency pre-draft camp because he wanted to maintain his eligibility at Louisville.

He figured he’d measure himself against legitimate draft prospects, get a feel for what aspects of his game needed development and head back to school for his junior season.

"When I left school, my room was still clean, full of stuff," Mitchell said. "I never packed. I was coming back for a third year. In my head, 100 percent, coming back."

Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George, a couple of CAA clients who worked out with Mitchell at the camp, changed his mind. They convinced Mitchell that he belonged in the NBA. Mitchell didn’t trust agents when they told him he should enter the draft. It was different to hear it from established All-Stars.

"He’s really good," George told reporters recently, calling Mitchell the steal of the draft. "He’s a tough, fearless kid. We all saw that working out with him this past summer. I knew he was going to blossom."

Paul, who invited Mitchell to his summer camp in North Carolina and still talks to him several times a week, scoffs when it’s suggested that the Jazz guard’s success is surprising.

"He can really, really play," Paul said. "I’m not surprised by it at all. He can play. He’s strong, and he loves the game — both ends, whether it’s offense or defense. I don’t know if it’s because he’s in Utah, everybody’s surprised by it. I’m not."

So what’s Mitchell’s ceiling?

"He controls it," Paul says. "He’s that good."

Lindsey listened intently when he was invited to sit in on the pregame scouting report for his son Jake’s Baylor team when it faced Louisville during a Thanksgiving tournament in the Bahamas last year.

"The whole game plan was Donovan Mitchell," Lindsey said. And the more he learned about Mitchell, the more he liked him.

Mitchell impressed the Jazz brass when he interviewed with them at the Chicago pre-draft camp. Lindsey loved the makeup of Mitchell, the son of a school teacher and the New York Mets’ director of player relations, believing that he developed a "competitive etiquette" by growing up around baseball, a sport Mitchell also played into high school.

"This whole experience is just a whirlwind. The fact that I’m doing what I’m doing is just amazing to me, and I just want to keep it going."

Lindsey came away with the feeling that Mitchell would be a cultural fit with the Jazz due to his character, competitiveness and desire to be developed.

The 6-foot-3 Mitchell, whose 6-foot-10 wingspan factored into his nickname of "Spider," wowed the Jazz with his workout in Utah weeks later, adding to Lindsey’s urgency to trade up to get the guard.

Utah packaged power forward Trey Lyles, a 2015 lottery pick who had fallen out of Utah’s rotation, with the No. 24 overall pick to get the No. 13 overall pick from the Denver Nuggets. The hope was that Mitchell could contribute right away as a defensive-minded role player who complemented Hayward and steadily develop as an offensive threat.

But Hayward, who steadily developed into an All-Star during his seven seasons in Utah, bolted for the Boston Celtics in free agency. Suddenly, the Jazz offense had a massive void to fill. Hayward’s departure has been a huge blow, but Mitchell’s production (17.9 points, 3.4 assists per game) has provided long-term hope and allowed the Jazz to compete for a playoff spot.

"Necessity is the mother of invention here," Lindsey said. "We’re down a very significant player here in Gordon Hayward, and we’re just trying to fight to figure out what’s next.

"We’re sure glad to have the kid."

The kid keeps getting better. Mitchell has developed in subtle ways, such as learning how to finish off of one foot in traffic after always leaping off two feet in college, and made dramatic statistical jumps.

Mitchell got off to a slow start, averaging only 9.3 points and shooting poorly (32.9 percent from the floor) in seven October games. He was much better in November (18.1 points on 41.3 percent shooting). The rookie has been a bona fide star in December, which started with his 41-point performance. Mitchell has averaged 23.1 points this month, shooting 51.3 percent from the floor and 37.7 percent from 3-point range.

Mitchell, an explosive leaper on pace to break Lillard’s rookie record for 3-pointers made in a season, has started next to Ricky Rubio since mid-November but also plays a lot of point guard. Jazz head coach Quin Snyder calls Mitchell "just a guard," adding that labeling him as one particular position does a disservice to Mitchell’s game.

It’s notable that Snyder increasingly hands Mitchell the keys to the Jazz offense late in close games, a wise decision considering Mitchell’s ability to create and his clutch production (27 points on 10-of-18 shooting in 32 minutes). He’s the only rookie leading his team in clutch scoring this season, although Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons and Boston’s Jayson Tatum have also been remarkably productive and efficient in such situations.

"You trust him because he cares and he wants to improve," Snyder said. "When he makes a mistake, we’re coaching him hard, and he’s willing to accept that. As a result, his teammates respect him. That’s how you grow — not just your game, but your contribution to the team. We haven’t been concerned about him being a rookie. He’s just a player, and we try to help him, use him the best way we can to help our team. It’s evolved into that.

"He’s pretty selfless. He has a leadership component because of his commitment to the team that for a young guy is unique. Usually, you find that over time. He has not asked for that, he’s not trying to become that, but the way he plays and the fact that he’s able to create for other people allows guys to embrace him."

PLAYERTEAMPTS/36FG%3P%Donovan MitchellUTA30.755.633.3Jayson TatumBOS20.966.775.0Lauri MarkkanenCHI19.735.733.3Ben SimmonsPHI16.372.20.0Frank NtilikinaNYK16.240.042.9De’Aaron FoxSAC14.841.70.0Kyle KuzmaLAL14.733.329.4* Among rookies with at least30 clutch time minutes

Mitchell is probably more proud that his assists average has increased from 2.3 in October to 3.6 this month. He said it was embarrassing watching the film of his first big scoring night — a 22-point, two-assist outing in an Oct. 28 win over the Los Angeles Lakers — because of all the open teammates he missed. Mitchell cringes when he mentions his awful outing in a Nov. 7 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, when he was 3-of-21 from the floor and had only one assist.

Mitchell and Snyder have daily film sessions focused on reads, teaching him how to see the whole floor instead of focusing solely on getting a shot.

"Stuff like that, that’s who I am," Mitchell says. "Scoring has just started. I’ve never been a scorer in my life. Maybe last year a little, but I was just a great teammate who played defense and made the right plays. I realized that’s who I need to get back to. That’s who I’ve always strived to be."

That’s an attitude that endears Mitchell to his teammates.

"We’re happy he’s learning, and he wants to make the right play at the right time," said center Rudy Gobert, the Jazz’s franchise player, who it currently sidelined with a PCL sprain. "He doesn’t think the world revolves around him. He’s trying to win, and he’s also trying to fit on the team. He’s a good kid. He’s listening, and he’s learning."

And Mitchell is starring, much to his surprise.

"I didn’t expect any of this at all," Mitchell said. "There’s so many things that are like taking me by surprise. I’m honored to have this opportunity. I think that’s the biggest thing — staying humble, because the story you hear a lot of times is that guys who have success let it get to their head.

"I just try to be the same kid from New York and Greenwich, Connecticut, who is just lame and watches TV and Netflix."

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