ON Kilter: What if it’s not about growth, but control?

OPINION – Welcome to the 2013 St. George election cycle. Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

The recent animal shelter debacle notwithstanding, there looms on the horizon matters of consequence for this community that will require an informed and participatory citizen if there is to be any meaningful change in our city.

The main thrust of most campaigns here locally focuses on economic growth and jobs under a loosely-adhered-to banner of Vision Dixie and the infamous Lake Powell Pipeline.

The Washington County Water Conservancy District is hard at work spending copious amounts of your hard earned tax dollars on film production to promote the project, as well as other side projects like paying a self-professed analyst – who swears he is not an advocate – to pitch the pipeline at meetings at the WCWCD headquarters, the Utah State Legislature, and the Chamber of Commerce in St. George.

The Water Conservancy District is also buying up land like the Pah Tempe Hot Springs Resort to the tune of $1.5 million and have gone on record stating they do not know what they plan to do with the place. Curious position given they have spent years in litigation, protecting their rights and positioning for the acquisition, and likely spent tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees to finally get the land, only to state they have “no idea” at this time what they will do with it.

I’d keep an eye on that one …

And here in the city, under a statement that defies logic, that is,”If we are not growing, we are dying,” proponents for the pipeline like St. George City Manager Gary Esplin hope the semblance of impending doom and draconian consequences if the pipeline fails will move a somewhat easily placated constituency to support the project with nary the facts on what it will cost, and who in fact will actually benefit from it – if the water is even there at all.

Mind if I assert something a little audacious here? I don’t think the powers-that-be in this community really want growth.

I think that growth, as it were, is the proverbial carrot on the stick the leaders here dangle in front of their constituency to get them to support huge projects; projects, that is, that bring less economic growth overall than they do contracts for local developers and sales for local “fortunate land owners.”

A recent letter to the editor in this publication indicates that some in our community might concur.

I have held this position for some time now, but something President Obama said in a Kindle Singles interview got me to thinking it may be more accurate than I previously thought. He said:

It used to be there were local newspapers everywhere. If you wanted to be a journalist, you could make a good living working for your hometown paper. Now you have a few newspapers that make a profit because they are national brands, and journalists are having to scramble to piece together a living, in some cases as freelancers and without the same benefits that they had in a regular job for a paper. What’s true in journalism is true in manufacturing and is true in retail. What we have to recognize is that those old times aren’t coming back.

Repeat that last line to yourself and let it really sink in. “What we have to recognize is that those old times aren’t coming back.” The President is right.

While here locally some indications such as a minuscule rise in new home construction give a glimmer of hope that the build and boom days of the economy of a decade ago is on its way back, energy prices and food prices locally indicate otherwise. So do wages and availability of viable work.

And while things like the Lake Powell Pipeline proposal promise such growth, have you ever considered the possibility that the only thing that project will do is price new growth out of the market with the outrageous impact fees it proposes? That those fees, as well as the likelihood that supply of that water is questionable at best, sets up a scenario consistent with the proposition that it is a project less about growth and jobs as it is about providing work and profits for a designated few?

The leadership needed in this community needs to reflect the coming age we are entering, where energy is becoming more and more expensive and water is becoming more and more scarce. This is a combination that does not support boom type growth but rather intelligent and well thought-out growth as well as sustainable living standards for those currently living here.

“If we are not growing, we are dying” is the mantra of the cancer cell as it continues to grow until it kills its host. Think about that.

We are the cancer cell and the place we live is the host. We can overdo it and I think the leadership here knows it.

This would validate my theory that growth is what they pitch, when it is control they are after. And at your expense.

Consider this when you are thinking about which box to check at the ballot in this year’s municipal primary.

See you out there.

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Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @dallashyland

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


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  • Doug August 4, 2013 at 7:37 am

    “While here locally some indications such as a minuscule rise in new home construction give a glimmer of hope that the build and boom days of the economy of a decade ago is on its way back, energy prices and food prices locally indicate otherwise. So do wages and availability of viable work.”

    Just a few days ago St. George News ran an article about how good the economy was doing when looking at new house builds and real estate sales. The article stated how much better it is, yet this opinion piece contradicts that. Which is it?

    • William Way, Jr. August 4, 2013 at 10:48 am

      Doug: may I draw your attention to the note that follows each of the opinion writers on the St. George News, “Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.”

  • RPMcMurphy August 4, 2013 at 10:25 am

    A question that needs to be asked of every candidate for public office at the municipal and county level is — Will you insist that the citizens of Washington County have an opportunity to vote on the pipeline?

  • Water is life August 4, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Am I the only one fed up with all the propaganda spewed out on the Lake Powell Pipeline? Dallas, continually speaks with a narrow perspective. The purchase of Pah Tempe and past litigation has been for the springs (water), not the land. The water pollutes the river and makes it unfit for fish and people. The district is interested in protecting the water supply. Treating the water is costly and with many environmental concerns as to where to put all the salts removed from the water.
    And one more thing, water is the only utility that has no other alternative. Without water, there is no survival. There is no margin for error. In addition water is volatile, unpredictable and limited. What is the price everyone will be willing to pay at that point when climate change or drought enters the picture? Who is willing to take the responsibility for not having enough water at that point? And don’t give me the argument that the Colorado River will dry up. I would rather have my life dependent on the Colorado River than the Virgin River. From a concerned citizen who would rather live with alternatives, but at least have water to grow food, drink and clean with.

    • Leighla August 4, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      Getting rid of the numerous sprawling golf courses, splash pads, fountains, green lawns and English gardens not to mention water intensive alfalfa farming would be a first step to acknowledging that water supply is actually finite.

      • Barbara Strisand August 4, 2013 at 6:12 pm

        Pay attention, Doug.

      • Ain't gonna happen! August 4, 2013 at 7:42 pm

        But this IS DESERT! WE NEED all that stuff that wastes water so we can live here!

    • Barbara Strisand August 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm

      A point your missing with your way of thinking is St George is NOT the only city in the region looking to get water from Powell, larger regional metro areas are eyeballing it as well.
      My thinking is we build more local reservoirs on our rivers, enforce new development to landscape mostly xeriscape, with very minimal lawn only in backyards (like tot lots for kids/pets); stricter conservation measures such as what’s implemented in Las Vegas, Tucson or Phoenix with fines imposed to violators; put a cap on building more golf courses, we have plenty to take us well into the future. This may seem like a little more than we’re conditioned to, but face it folks, we are every bit as much the desert as the above listed cities. It should be no different here just because we’re smaller.

  • Orbit August 4, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    you know, there’s only about some 40,000 tax paying entities in the county.
    not good if you are trying to pay off a 2-3 billion dollar construction project in 30 years. that’s some heavy lifting.
    (especially when it runs dry)

  • Boot licker August 4, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    As always, thanks for being the much-needed edgy, sometimes provocative, but always real news source in the land of the sheople. 😉

  • Tyler August 4, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    ….And how many other southwest desert cities are after Lake Powell for future water? Why fuss about the price tag? It will be empty by the time STG gets to it!

  • Matthew Sevald August 4, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Spot on Dallas, yet again.
    Control is absolutely what the oligarchy wants, and they’ll have it through our tax dollars and mindless adherence to the local cult. If there were real growth then their power over the masses would be broken, but it is not what they want, and they pull the strings in a myriad of ways.
    Firstly, it is rather evident that they intend to keep the number of jobs and living wages down to impinge being truly independent. They’d rather everyone work service jobs at minimum wage, shuffling along with their head down in the daily grind, to cater to the snow birds, elderly, and transient college students/tourists than build industry or tech jobs. If a populace can’t afford to live on its own without getting handouts from the cult or gub’mint teat, then they can’t afford to stand up for themselves, lest they go without.
    Secondly, and more diabolically in my opinion, they make the area unattractive (more so than it already is as the Devil’s furnace in this god forsaken desert) for young people wishing to stay and raise families and enrich the area with their diversity by enforcing Mormon doctrine and bizarre interpretations of morality through laws. Look at the ‘footloose’ laws pertaining to alcohol and dancing. They are the resurrection of Puritanism incarnate, befitting the 1820’s rather than the 2010’s. But that’s the intent, isn’t it? Keep ‘evil’, ‘different’, ‘Lamanite’, and ‘sons of perdition’-type people away out of the Mormon bubble so that only those who want to live like a mindless drone and can stomach the theocratic dictates of old, white men will be left.
    Plato said it best in Book VIII of ‘The Republic’, firstly, “The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness. …This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector” which leads to its logical conclusion, “When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.” As long as the reigning oligarchy of landed, elite Mormons can make things uncomfortable at the least for the ‘undesirables’ through legislation, the people will have their scapegoat enemy and the disgusting social snobbery of the cult members will do its part to ensure that anyone wanting to live their lives as they see fit in a manner opposing the Mormon cult morality won’t stay here long. When there’s no dissent, the mindlessness and vacant contentment can be allowed to flourish, and the sheeple will not stand up for themselves so long as they are provided their breads and circuses. It reminds me greatly of the original series ‘Star Trek’ episode ‘Return of the Archons’.
    The responsible loosening business regulations and abolishing the hold of religion on the public sector will allow true growth, money, diversity, and independent living in a way never before seen here in southern Utah. Imagine, a people truly free to live their lives and responsible unto themselves without fear of intimidation, retaliation, or ostracization. It would be a microcosm of what this country used to be. It is well beyond the time to vote out the incumbents, establish term limits, and hold the elected and their entourage culpable when appropriate for their crimes.

  • Derrick Young August 4, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Wow, this article gave me goosebumps – especially at the end talking about the cancer cell scenario. Excellent piece, could not be more accurate!

  • Big @$$ Bob August 4, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    There needs to be a citizen vote on this ridiculousness! That will get this thing thrown out

  • Gertrude August 4, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    What has this town come to? Heaven help us.

  • Pablo August 5, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    We Demand a Vote on that *** pipeline…..do you hear me Ron Thompson? Or are the walls you built at the new Taj Mahal too thick for you to hear the Citizens of Washington County? I see there is a new water surcharge added to washington city residents starting next month for the potential loss of impact fees? What a waste of our money to keep you all in office, oh, that’s right, you were appointed!
    *** Ed. ellipsis.

  • Lisa August 7, 2013 at 10:10 am

    “Water is Life”, please read the Ceres report “The Ripple Effect” to learn how investors are viewing major water projects such as the LPP. Then learn how much better other desert cities are doing with their water usage than we are. And, as far as running out of water goes, the end of the Lake Powell Pipeline water will come, too. As so often happens, leaders (and citizens too) are kicking the can down the road so all the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren they want living here will have to deal with it. Doesn’t seem like a fair way to deal with it. Let’s face the music, and grow reasonably but sustainably.

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