Letter to Hurricane mayor: Commissioner statements don’t accurately represent opposition to development

Hurricane City Council members during a meeting and public hearing about the "Lost Trails at the Cove" development, Feb. 7, 2019 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

OPINION — The following letter was submitted by a Hurricane resident to Mayor John Bramall regarding statements made at the Feb. 7 Hurricane City Council meeting regarding the proposed Lost Trails at the Cove development.

Read more: Hurricane City Council postpones decision on controversial development

Dear Mayor Bramall,

I am a proud resident of Sky Mountain, I speak in my capacity as a private citizen, not on behalf any one in the community. I wanted to thank you for your effort to try to keep the Hurricane City Council meeting from February 10, 2019 on the Cove project as fair as possible. There are pros and cons to a project like this that need to be balanced. I, like some other, just believe that the balance is on the negative and risky side.

While your fairness is appreciated, your influence unfortunately did reach some of the City officials present at the meeting. I am referring here particularly to a member of the Planning Commission, Ms.Bronemann, who spoke at Public Hearing, but clearly identified herself as a member of the City Government.

I do take issue playing down the importance of 1100 hand signed petitions as being only a small fraction of Hurricane’s population, calculated by her as approximately 6%. This reflects a flawed and biased analysis that renders her statement meaningless if not misleading. Unfortunately her statement has been picked up in the St George News, so damage control will be more difficult.

First, the total population is the wrong denominator because it includes all ages of from newborn to the elderly. While Hurricane’s children might be exceptionally bright, I have a hard time seeing many two years old filling out a and signing a petition form!

Second, the underlying assumption that the city has been exhaustively canvassed with petitions and the number of residents is the appropriate denominator, is again wrong. Door to door canvassing was done only in a handful of neighborhoods and only a fraction of the households were reached, yet petitions were received from many more neighborhoods.

The result is that no meaningful conclusion can been drawn from her analysis. Since all the petitioners were of voting age (some admittedly quite a bit into it), a more appropriate denominator might have been population of voting age, but lets not over interpret the data. Rather, lets appreciate the fact that over 1100 residents stepped out of anonymity to be counted, rather than treat them as an inconvenience that should be dismissed.

I have not been involved in canvassing, ringing doorbells is not my cup of tee. But, I spent a good hour on a sunny Friday morning in the Fox Hollow neighborhood talking to residents who were picking up mail, walking their dog, mowing the lawn, as people were outside after several days of our dreaded Hurricane winds.

Frankly, I was surprised by the overwhelming positive response to our petition. I collected over a dozen petitions, with only two people declining. One was a young lady walking with her children who was afraid to put down her name on paper that was to be submitted the government. The other, was a gentlemen who mowed the front lawn. It turned out it was the house of his parents who were away traveling and he was a resident of Cedar City.

Now these numbers have little statistical power and inherent bias, so I will not calculate a percentage. For some, especially the elderly, it takes an effort and for some also courage to put their name on a piece of paper that will be submitted to the government, so lets make sure our City Officials do not belittle them!

City Officials voicing an opinion are more likely to be listen to and be quoted in the press, as we mere mortals (the proof is in this case the St George News). Hence a higher standard for accuracy needs to be applied, as any misinformation (intended or not) reflects badly not only on the official, but also on the City Government they represent.

At the Council meeting, I debated if I should point out Ms Bronemann’s flawed and biased statement at the public hearing, but felt it would not be appropriate, and should be handled privately. In hindsight the wrong decision, because her quote ended up in the News, and now we are forced to stop the spread of her severely flawed and biased analysis!

Given the publicity Ms Bronemann’s statement has received I feel the City needs to set the record straight. I count on your sense for fairness to make this happen, maybe a statement to that effect at the next (and hopefully last) City Council meeting?

I understand that you have received some of this information on the cc list of some, but wanted to give you the courtesy of addressing you personally, not just as carbon copy! I do apologize for the slight delay in response, but I was out of town yesterday.

Thank you for taking your time!

Submitted by THOMAS ECKHARDT.

Ed. note: While St. George News did not directly quote Rebecca Bronemann in our coverage of the Feb. 7 City Council meeting, a clarification has been added regarding her paraphrased statements.

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.

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