Tom Williams

Program Director | Access Utah Host

Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996.  He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.)  He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah” and “Opera Saturday.”  He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.

Ways To Connect

utahstatetrooper.com

The 2015 session of the Utah Legislature reached the end of its constitutionally-mandated 45 days Thursday night. This year’s highlights included debates over Medicaid expansion, prison relocation, pay raises for teachers and state employees, the gas tax, anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community, religious freedom guarantees, the right to die, Utah’s caucus and convention system, medical marijuana, cock fighting and seat belts, among other issues.

On Friday’s AU we’ll recap the 2015 legislative session with Deseret News commentators Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb. We’ll feature comments from Governor Gary Herbert. And we’ll talk with Jason Stevenson, Education & Communications Director with the Utah Health Policy Project and Dan Bammes, Communications Director with the Utah Foundation.


pewforum.org

HB 391, the “Utah Death with Dignity Act,” would allow physicians to prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill persons, under certain circumstances. Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City says she sponsored the bill in response to the recent plight of Brittany Maynard, a California woman with a terminal brain tumor who moved to Oregon (which has had such a law in place since 1994) so she could die on her own terms. A poll by www.utahpolicy.com shows that 63% of Utahns support such legislation. On Wednesday’s AU we’ll ask you what you think.

 


We love our dogs and cats, but their behavior can be baffling. (Maybe they have the same thoughts about us!) On Tuesday's AU, our guest is veterinarian Gary Weitzman, President and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA, and author of "How to Speak Cat: A Guide to Decoding Cat Language" (published by National Geographic.). Dr. Weitzman is also author of "How to Speak Dog," and "Everything Dogs." We'll answer your dog and cat questions, and talk about the San Diego Humane Society's current effort called "Getting to Zero:" a comprehensive plan to save the life of every healthy and treatable animal in San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition shelters. 


Climate change has been a hard sell among some communities of faith. Katharine Hayhoe is a Climate Scientist and an Evangelical Christian. She has spent years trying to convince other Christians that climate change is real. She told NPR that "the people we trust, the people we respect, the people whose values we share, in the conservative community, in the Christian community, those people are telling us, many of them, that this isn't a real problem - that it's a hoax. Even worse, that you can't be a Christian and think that climate change is real. You can't be a conservative and agree with the science." Hayhoe says that caring about climate change is one of the most Christian things you can do. 


The Pentagon has said that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. U.S. intelligence and security leaders predict that resource scarcity will be our next big threat. The World Wildlife Fund's new initiative "In Pursuit of Prosperity" seeks to make sustainability a core component of U.S. foreign policy.

WWF says that scarcities in one country can spill over into relations with neighboring countries as governments try to access natural resources-such as timber, water and energy-through legal and illegal means. Tensions among neighbors, ranging from the US.-Mexico border to India and Pakistan, are on the rise. California, America's fruit and food basket, is currently experiencing one of the most severe droughts in over a century. The result is higher food prices and declining water stocks.


Penguin Books

The grid is everywhere, sending power to the light switch on the wall and water to the faucet in the kitchen. But is it essential? Must we depend on it and the corporate and government infrastructure behind it? Wednesday’s AU we’ll revisit our conversation, from August, with Nick Rosen, who has traveled the United States, spending time with all kinds of individuals and families striving to live their lives free from dependence on municipal power and amenities, and free from dependence on the government and its far-reaching tentacles.

Rosen’s book "Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America" profiles millionaires and foreclosure victims, survivalists and environmentalists, retirees and marijuana growers, and ordinary families--all chasing their off-grid dreams.


The firing squad, discontinued in Utah in 2004, would return as a method of execution under a bill (HB11) which has passed Utah's House of Representatives. The sponsor, Rep. Paul Ray R-Clearfield, says (according to the Associated Press) that "a team of trained marksmen is faster and more humane than the drawn-out deaths that have occurred in botched lethal injections." NPR reports that manufacturers of the drugs used in lethal injection executions, under increasing pressure from critics of the practice, have ceased making the toxic chemicals. James Clark writing on Amnesty International USA's "Human Rights Now" blog says this bill makes Utah appear willing to do just about anything to continue executions. 


As wildlife populations increase, so does the potential for human-wildlife conflicts, which can be seen in in economic losses, regulatory conflicts, and sometimes, physical encounters. Terry Messmer, Director of the Berryman Institute at USU, says that wildlife managers may need to change their traditional emphasis from sustaining or increasing wildlife populations to mitigating conflicts. On Monday's AU we'll talk about potential effects of listing the Sage-grouse as an endangered species and of delisting the wolf. We'll also consider the phenomenon of urban deer and the management of wild horses and burros. We'll ask you what you think about these issues and we'd also like to know if you've had an encounter with, say, a mountain lion or a bear. Joining the discussion today is Terry Messmer and Michael Wolfe, Emeritus professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management at Utah State University.


Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune

State Department of Corrections Executive Director Rollin Cook said Utah's "tough on crime approach" has been costly and has led to mass incarceration, overcrowded prisons and unacceptable recidivism rates. Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, said his criminal justice reform bill (HB 348) will result in an "epic shift" in how the state treats offenders.  The Salt Lake Tribune reports that under HB 348, drug offenses would carry a smaller penalty, probation officers could reward as well as punish, and whenever possible, the mentally ill and drug addicted would be shuttled into treatment rather than to jail. Prosecutors worry that reducing charges and sentences would be counterproductive. 

Utah State University

Every year about this time "Evening in Brazil" presents concerts in Salt Lake City and Logan; this year's concerts are on Thursday and Friday. And each year, we gather members of the musical group in UPR's studio C to enjoy some great Bossa Nova and Samba on Access Utah. Linda Ferreira Linford, Christopher Neale, Mike Christiansen & Eric Nelson will join us for Wednesday's AU and we hope you will too, beginning at 9:00 a.m. 


This is an Encore Presentation of Access Utah,which originally aired in September 2014.

 

Pulitzer-prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin returns to AU on Friday. She is author of several books including “The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism,“ “No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt - The Home Front in World War II” and “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.” And she’s one of the experts featured in Ken Burns’ new documentary “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History,” which airs on KUED over seven nights beginning on Sunday.


Ryan Padriac

The Deseret News reports that opposing bills on Medicaid expansion have passed a state Senate committee.  Sen. Allen Christensen says that his SB 153 would cover Utahns who earn up to 100% of the federal poverty level and who are medically frail. He says his plan would leave money available for other needy groups. Sen. Brian Shiozawa’ SB 164 would implement many elements of Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah plan, which would help provide coverage for those who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level. Sen. Shiozawa says that Sen. Christensen’s plan would not return enough Utah tax dollars from the federal government to the state.


energy.utah.gov

Oil prices across the nation have dropped dramatically over the past few months. Economists have described the money that consumers are saving as a kind of tax break, but not everyone is seeing green. In a series of reports this month titled “The Costs of Oil,” UPR reporters Elaine Taylor, Justin Prather and Evan Hall have looked into how falling prices are affecting places like eastern Utah, where oil is a major industry.

    

Harper Collins

Amity Shlaes is author of four New York Times bestsellers, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression; The Forgotten Man: Graphic, an illustrated version of the same book drawn by Paul Rivoche; Coolidge, a biography of the thirtieth president; and The Greedy Hand: How Taxes Drive Americas Crazy. Shlaes chairs the board of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation.


Amity Shlaes gave a presentation in Logan on February 18, hosted by Strata, a Logan-based public policy think tank, and by USU’s Center for the Study of American Constitutionalism. Shlaes writes for Forbes and National Review and spent more than 10 years as a columnist for the Financial Times and Bloomberg.

zzyw.co

Our guest for the hour on Wednesday's Access Utah is Jennifer Jacquet, author of the new book "Is Shame Necessary? New Uses for an Old Tool." Robert Sapolsky (author of Monkeyluv) says: "In the age of Anthony Weiner and Miley Cyrus, shame seems an antiquated concept-a quaint tool of conformity-obsessed collectivist societies, replete with scarlet letters and loss of face ..." Jacquet says that in recent years, we as consumers have sought to assuage our guilt about flawed social and environmental practices and policies by, for example, buying organic foods or fair-trade products. Unless nearly everyone participates, however, the impact of individual consumer consciousness is ineffective. 


NBC

Our guest for the hour is Matthew LaPlante, USU Assistant Professor of Journalism. LaPlante served a tour of duty in the Persian Gulf as an enlisted military intelligence specialist in the U.S. Navy, and returned to the Middle East as a war correspondent for The Salt Lake Tribune. He also covered veterans affairs for the Tribune.  In an Op Ed piece in the Logan Herald Journal he says that in the wake of revelations that NBC anchor Brian Williams has long been telling an apparently fictitious story about being in a helicopter that was struck by a rocket in Iraq, he got thinking about issues of memory and war.

For Valentine’s Day, Access Utah Brings you the story of four engineers with one problem: How to find the right woman in real life?

 

In his previous documentary RULES OF SINGLE LIFE, Bulgaria-born, Helsinki-based engineer-turned-director Tonislav Hristov examined his own divorce and that of four friends – wondering what had gone wrong. His latest film, Love & Engineering takes this concept one step further, as it follows Atanas, a Bulgarian 3D engineer living in Finland.


publiclands.utah.gov

  Some say that federal control of public lands in Utah has resulted in stunted economic development, an imbalance in access, and increased fire danger in national forests. A new study from the University of Utah Law School’s Wallace Stegner Center argues that a Utah takeover of 31 million acres of public lands could lead to less public access and less public involvement in land-use decisions. Utah Assistant Attorney General Tony Rampton, Director of Public Lands Litigation, is our guest in the first half of Wednesday’s AU. House Minority Leader, Rep. Brian King D-Salt Lake City will join us in the second half of the program. 


Some say that federal control of public lands in Utah has resulted in stunted economic development, an imbalance in access, and increased fire danger in national forests. A new study from the University of Utah Law School's Wallace Stegner Center argues that a Utah takeover of 31 million acres of public lands could lead to less public access and less public involvement in land-use decisions. 


Simon and Schuster

Today we revisit a conversation from August, 2014 with Jeff Guinn, author of "Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson" says he wanted to answer two questions with the book: "Why does Manson's name still resonate with us, all these years after those famous murders? And what happened in his life to make him the way he turned out?" Guinn says that in answering those questions "it was really like a trip across American history because Manson represents so many aspects of American society." More than 40 years ago Charles Manson and his mostly female commune killed nine people, among them the pregnant actress Sharon Tate. 


Utah State University Press

Luisa A. Igloria  is winner of the May Swenson Poetry Award, a competitive prize granted annually to an outstanding collection of poetry in English, named for Logan Utah native May Swenson, one of America's most vital and provocative twentieth-century poets. Igloria's collection "Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser" is published by Utah State University Press. Originally from Baguio City in the Philippines, Igloria is Professor of Creative Writing and English, and Director of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University. Since November 20, 2010 she has written a poem every day. 


Professional speaker, storyteller and writer Janice Brooks will join Tom Williams for the hour on Thursday's AU   Brooks is performing her one-woman show "Traveling Shoes"Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. in the Caine Performance Hall on the USU campus in Logan. "Traveling Shoes" depicts eight women of American history: Sojourner Truth, Barbara Jordan, Harriet Tubman, Shirley Chisholm, Buffalo Soldier Cathay Williams, Rosa Parks, Biddy Mason, and Jane Manning. The show is presented by UPR and is part of the USU Provost's Series on Instructional Excellence in celebration of Black History Month. 


Christian Rudder

Seventy percent of the country uses Facebook each month-50 percent of Americans under 35 check it first thing every morning. By 2015, people will have tweeted more words than in every book ever printed. A third of all marriages in the United States now begin online-meaning one in three children in the class of 2032 will have been facilitated by an algorithm. Social media has become essential to the fabric of our society. 


In the 1960s, Mormon housewife Helen Andelin countered the second wave feminist movement by preaching family values and urging women not to have careers, but to become good wives, mothers, and homemakers instead. Andelin, who sparked a large movement herself, taught that a woman's true happiness could only be realized if she admired, cared for, and obeyed her husband. In December, many listeners joined our Access Utah conversation with Julie Neuffer prompted by her book "Helen Andelin and the Fascinating Womanhood Movement" It was clear from that discussion that many women are thinking through their roles in today's shifting environment. 


Rick Bowmer, AP

This week high-ranking officials from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held a news conference to address of religious freedom, and discrimination against the LGBT community.
On Monday's AU we'll look at legislation being proposed this year regarding these issues. We'll hear from Governor Gary Herbert, Senator Stephen Urquhart and Representative Jacob Anderegg. 


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