My View: Try ‘We the People’ instead of ‘You People’

We urban-transplant eco-socialist Thanos-emulating city council members have been seeing more “You people…” and “What were you thinking…” letters lately. Kerri Bertwell and Marjorie Haun, writing earlier this month, may not know they have much in common with the political left. Everyone is unhappy about the congestion. Everyone wants more economic diversity. And more than a few blame the city council.

Well, do we deserve it? Consider what would have happened if we had tried to stop hotels in their tracks six years ago when the Mighty Five campaign started, when it would have headed off the mess we have now? We’d been run outta’ town, that’s what. Now, we’re about to do just that, and it’s nearly universally “Hurray, it’s about time!”

If I may respond to Ms. Bertwell and Ms. Haun’s assertions:

We typically have five city council members, mayor, city manager, city attorney and recorder at the dais in meetings. Three is the minimum number required on county commissions or councils.

Even had we not mandated a plastic bag ban, City Market has done exactly that per direction of their parent, Kroger.

Single-stream recycling is not and never was mandatory.

State statute permits UTVs on city streets. We’ve always fought it and are still fighting it, this time with more lobbying at the state legislature.

The big box argument was more active years ago. It seems to have lost steam, I’m guessing because of Amazon.

Unusually in Utah, you don’t pay any city property taxes because sales taxes, largely from visitors, largely funds city government. This is one upside of hotels and the reason we’ve permitted them in the past.

The city just spent $2 million buying a trailer park to redevelop it to provide deed-restricted affordable housing for the poorest residents/workforce in town. Several other efforts target housing for median income or below residents/workforce. We’ve disallowed short-term overnight rentals in residential zones to encourage long-term rentals for residents and are considering extending the ban to mixed commercial-residential zones.

Unless we wish to forfeit TRT revenues that fund essential services, such as emergency medical services, state statute prevents us from “stopping” advertising Moab. We’re fighting it; the county takes the lead role.

If Johnnie-Come-Lately (I’m the latest at 17 years) progressives have been successful in winning local government seats, it’s because voters thought they had the best candidates. I know the I’ve-shoveled-s..t-for-five-generations party has expressed regret that they could not always find candidates. That’s unfortunate, because no one political party has a monopoly on good ideas.

Everyone wants to broaden Moab’s economy. The county has an active office trying to do exactly that, and the city a filmmaking office. That’s also why the city built a road to a USU campus that doesn’t yet exist – the hope that someday an educated workforce will spin off great non-tourist businesses.

But let’s get real. Ranching – in a desert, with heavily subsidized grazing leases, really? Hay farmers here are barely getting by, water is tight and expensive. Yellowcake and potash is cheaper from Europe. Oil and gas – what there is is already being exploited on Big Flats. Logging – really, in the La Sals? Brilliant.

The community needs fun; Ms. Bertwell is absolutely correct. I hope the town turns out for a Fourth of July dance at Swanny Park, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to a terrific band from Salt Lake. Show off your moves to the eco-socialist or fifth-gen-old-Moabite next to you.

Finally, I encourage residents of all political stripes to run for local office. Three city council seats are up for grabs; you’ll have to declare an intention to run in the next month or so. Local government is not a partisan affair despite what HB224 says. What counts is an interest in good government, energy and a good head. As the League of Women Voters says, the country is run by people who show up. So show up. It’s so much more satisfying than writing “You people” letters.

Mike Duncan is a Moab City Council member. The opinions herein are his own.