Tuesday notes

Jan 28, 2014 By Steven R. Peck

Court sides with Hill

There was thunder from the chambers of the Wyoming Supreme Court on Tuesday morning. Senate File 104, the hurriedly passed and hotly controversial law that stripped authority from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill, was struck down as unconstitutional.

The Ranger is the first paper in Wyoming to go to press with this story, and we have the first interview with Hill. See our coverage on page 1.

Exactly what this means in terms of who will run the Wyoming Department of Education hasn't been spelled out, but past experience says that when a law is declared unconstitutional, then it is no longer a law. The Legislature's ill-advised impeachment investigation could continue, but Hill could be back in charge of the WDE almost immediately.

Not so snowy after all

Despite all the snowstorms we've had this fall and winter (they started couple of days after summer, remember), it's odd to learn that snowpack in the Wind River Basin is both below last year's level at the same time of year and now is slightly below the 30-year average.

There are no drought concerns in the middle of winter, and the wettest months of the year are ahead, but the new figures show how perceptions and statistics don't always match up.

Cover boy Uden

We've hit the big time, for the wrong reasons. This week's People Magazine has Gerald and Alice Uden on the cover. Gerald Uden recently was packed off to state prison after confessing to the triple murder of his ex-wife and her two sons -- his adopted children -- eventually sinking them to the bottom of Fremont Lake. His testimony solved a mystery that had simmered for more than 30 years. His wife, Alice, has her own lurid history, confessing to killing her first husband nearly 40 years ago.

The story doesn't say much about Riverton or Fremont County, concentrating mostly on the 41-year-old daughter of the Udens who grew up with them in Missouri.

There is a strangeness reading about the Udens in a national magazine, which gives it the detached, simplistic treatment demanded by the magazine's format. It almost doesn't seem like the same case.

President and the podium

It's State of the Union day in Washington. President Obama delivers his fifth "SOTU" Tuesday night. As viewers of the old TV show "The West Wing" surely recall (perhaps there is other evidence as well), the sixth year of a presidency commonly is seen as the last, best chance for a president to govern most effectively before lame-duck considerations begin to lessen his relevance. Expect an ambitious series of proposals from Obama to be carried by the promise of executive order rather than legislation. It's a congressional election year, and the already crippled relationship between the president and Congress isn't going to get better before November.

Wolverine girls

Make it five straight wins for the Riverton High School girls basketball team. The girls got a buzzer-beater against Rock Springs. Five straight is a nice win streak for anybody, but it's a giant leap forward for the Wolverine girls, who haven't rung up this many wins in a row for a decade. And they also can enjoy this: first place in the Class 4-A West. It's early in the conference year, but that doesn't dim the happy development that exists today.

Super chilly

Question: How in the world was it ever determined that the Super Bowl, that game of sunshine, palm trees or, at least, the domed stadium, ought to be played in New Jersey in the middle of winter -- outdoors?

Luckily, the weather Sunday is predicted to be no worse than usual for the date, meaning the temperature at kickoff might -- might -- still be a bit warmer than 30 degrees.

That's no Polar Vortex, and if the forecast holds up it shouldn't be too big a deal. But it almost certainly will be in the 20s by halftime. That's too cold for the Super Bowl, which ought to be played in conditions that are chosen in order to come as close as possible to guaranteeing ideal playing conditions so that each team can play to its strengths without having to adjust for cold, wind, rain and snow.

As for the game, Seattle has the league's best defense. Often that is enough to win a playoff game. But the Seattle offense isn't all that explosive, and Denver shut down two of the best offenses in the NFL during its two playoff wins (except for meaningless scores when the game had been decided).

From the other side of the ledger, the Broncos have the best offense in the history of the league. It's hard to see them being held down significantly. Only one team managed to do it all year, and Denver avenged that defeat in the playoffs.

Cold or not, if Peyton Manning stays on the field, then he will find the way. Broncos 30, Seahawks 20.

Here's to a good week.

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