Five Things About Utah that Keep Me Awake at Night
1. Salt Lake City is blowing it. The City has allowed the land-grabbing Legislature (and Governor) to walk away, scott-free, with 20% of our city land! As Salt Lake City’s leaders dither--the state quietly plots. Trust me, the next step is for the GOP to grab their real target--our renowned International Airport! It is one great thing in our state--not under their control. They covet our airport. Unless SLC wakes up--we are going to lose both the NW and the AIRPORT! It’s gonna happen. SLC, get to court now! Negotiate WITH a lawsuit filed. Get some leverage! The judicial branch is the only place the City can get redress.
2. Rural Utah is getting ripped-off. There are hundreds of millions of dollars in the CIB Fund (Community Impact Board). The fund is collected as the state’s share from the tax on extraction from federal lands in Utah (mostly minerals). In recent years, the money has shifted from helping compensate local communities with help for local water projects, roads, public safety, buildings and sewer to massive infrastructure projects meant to encourage more resource extraction. The change in the way the millions are handed out has been a great personal boom to some CIB members. But not so much for struggling rural Utah families.
3. Utah is the 2nd driest state--but we are #1 (or very close to it) in per capita use of water. The state’s water establishment has billions of dollars in unnecessary plans percolating. The very powerful water districts statewide love to build big grandiose billion dollar projects. Add in a legislature full of real estate barons eager to build, build, build. And so on we have Rube-Goldberg Projects like the insane Lake Powell Pipeline and ‘dry up the Great Salt Lake’ Bear River Diversion. These projects are NOT necessary for the long-term benefit of Utah. But, the fix is in. The Boondoggle Water Fund is set-up. Small amounts of tax dollars are flowing in (and getting ready to ramp-up). Quietly. Without a debate. Without a statewide serious discussion. Without the science.
4. With the death of Jon Huntsman, I worry about the Salt Lake Tribune dying, or becoming a twice-a-week insert in the Deseret News. Last fall, Sr. told me quietly at a dinner (City Weekly, Person of the Year Award) that he was losing two and a half million dollars a year on the Tribune. Later, Sr. said (before the TV cameras) that ’keeping the Deseret News from killing the Tribune’ was one of his proudest achievements.
I hope the rest of the family has the same passionate commitment to keeping two strong voices alive in Utah.
Giving the Deseret News its long sought after goal of silencing its generational competitor--would have a devastating consequence on Utah's future.
5. I worry that Democrats in Utah will let a generational electoral opportunity go unfulfilled. It happens now and then (1963, 1972, 1980, 1994, 2010) when the electorate stands up and demands huge change. There is every indication that we are facing such an election in 2018. With the utter disintegration of the Utah GOP, this should be the year for Utah Democrats to make huge state gains. But, it will only come if Utah Democrats stand for something. Tell the truth about the problems in the state and have a coherent plan to solve the state’s problems. The jury is out---can a party out of power for 30 years even imagine a governing policy?