My View.
Keep Grand County ‘quirky,’ stay out of the seven county coalition....M
by Steve Russell
Aug 21, 2014 | 1807 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The juxtaposition of citizen letters and Grand County Council chairman Lynn Jackson’s “My View” column in last week’s T-I was striking. It appears that chairman Jackson needs to get his hearing checked. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t want ordinary folks interrupting the agenda of the county council. Why let the people speak if you can’t hear them?

Try turning up the volume a little, chairman Jackson. OK — testing 1, 2 — most of the people of Grand County do not want to join a coalition of dead-end one-industry counties that are hell-bent on pillaging their and our fragile lands for development, especially dirty energy.

With all due respect chairman, getting elected unopposed in an at-large district does not give you a mandate to impose your view on the county. Quite to the contrary, the only mandate you have is to listen to all of your constituents and take your marching orders from them.

Councilmember Gene Ciarus, who sees no need to even think about the issue, is fossilized into the good-old-boy mining era, and not likely to emerge from it. Weren’t those Atlas boom times great? Man, you could make a ton of money if you were lucky!

Those were the days, all right — until they stopped. It only took 20 years to recover from that bust. It’ll only be another 10 or 20 years before we’re finished paying the tab for cleaning up the mountain of poisonous s**t they left us with on the banks of the Colorado River.

But don’t worry, chairman Jackson and his coalition are already making plans for the tailings site, such as a passenger rail terminal. (So there’s a bone for all you folks in the tourist industry.) Really? And where do we envision these passenger trains will come from? Maybe our coalition partners’ oil shale and tar sands field hands will zip down to Moab for a little R&R. Hey, that would be a huge shot in the arm for our law enforcement industry! Or perhaps scenic tours from the old tailings site to the new one. Or maybe the idea is to export our tourists to coalition partners off the beaten path, once that path gets thoroughly beaten.

Chairman Jackson can’t imagine that joining the coalition could be a bad thing, especially when it appears to him that it has so many positive aspects.

Well, what are they? Other than the usual vague platitudes (job growth, more diversified economy, etc.), we are left to wonder. Surely, the coalition has been talking about something specific over the last 20 months. Tell us please, chairman Jackson, if the coalition were formed today, what are the first three big things on the list that it wants to accomplish?

Then, of course, chairman Jackson is obliged to drag out that big, bad bogeyman, the dreaded federal government. You just know that those darn feds will run roughshod over us — that is, unless we beat them to it and run roughshod over ourselves, dad-gummit. It’s our god-given right to cede our sovereignty. Get out your pocket Constitution people, it has got to be in there somewhere. Why, at any moment our dark-skinned, liberal president might plunge a dagger into the heart of Grand County by preserving 1.8 million acres of Greater Canyonlands. One shudders to think.

Apparently, moving in the higher echelons as a “playa” in the Utah Association of Counties and the proposed coalition, chairman Jackson has learned that Grand County is seen as (gasp) “a bit quirky.”

I, for one, think we ought to be proud of being seen as quirky, especially in this most un-quirky state. But let’s not stop there. We should go for completely bonkers. There are several good reasons why the moniker Grand fits this county. Let’s keep it that way.

Stay out of the coalition. If the other eastern Utah counties want to form a Big-6, let them go for it. If it turns out to be the best idea to ever come down the pike, I’m sure they’ll let us sneak in. Meanwhile, if the coalition wants something that could impact Grand County, let them come to us with a proposal that clearly benefits Grand County and has the support of its citizens. If that means we miss out on the filthy water-sucking development going on in the Uintah Basin, so be it.

Steve Russell runs a general law practice in Grand and San Juan counties, and tries to stay on the good side of former Grand County Council chairwoman Joette Langianese.

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