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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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Editorials: Fire about earth, wind and water ...

- Resort snake oil: The Canyons selling a bill of goods - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, along with Salt Lake City, is opposed to legislation in Congress to sell 30 acres of public forest land to Talisker Co., a Canadian ski-resort corporation, for a gondola linking Solitude in Big Cottonwood Canyon with The Canyons Resort, which Talisker owns.

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U.S. forest managers, under the Agriculture Department, rightly argue that the resort expansion would result in damage to protected areas and Salt Lake City’s watershed and create a private land island in the middle of a national forest. We hope other members of Congress are listening, because the Utah Republican congressional delegation is trying to sell them a bill of goods.

Promoted disingenuously as "a transportation alternative," the SkiLink project is, quite simply, an expansion of The Canyons Resort into Big Cottonwood Canyon. Any resort expansion in the sensitive watershed of the central Wasatch has been consistently opposed by the Forest Service, Salt Lake City and the residents of Salt Lake Valley.

But Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz and Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee want Congress to ignore the wishes and needs of local government and the public and make an end run around the normal processes in place to protect the environment and water resources, ignoring the years already invested in long-range planning for the area.

In arguing for the sale of public land for ski resort expansion, The Canyons and Talisker have tossed about statistics about jobs and economic impact. They have been less forthcoming, however, about where they get those numbers.

A chart on the SkiLink website provides as the source Robert Charles Lesser & Co., which is a real estate development consultant commissioned by Talisker. On its website, RCLC explains its mission as: "We strive to add value to our clients’ real estate activities and provide ways for them to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace."

That hardly strikes us as "independent economic research," as Salt Lake County Councilman Michael H. Jensen and Canyons Resort Managing Director Mike Goar described it in their testimony before the U.S. House. ...

- An ill wind: Storm brings out good, and bad - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

Disasters can bring out the best in people. And the worst. Last week’s violent windstorm, which focused most of its fury on the communities of Davis County, has provided a lot of the former and just enough of the latter to warrant some concern.

First, the good. It didn’t take long after the high winds blew through the area — toppling trees, downing power lines and ripping away everything from roof shingles to Christmas decorations — for neighbors to start helping neighbors. City crews, volunteers organized by local wards of the LDS Church, and volunteers organized by no one in particular, joined power company workers and members of the Utah National Guard in widespread efforts to remove downed tree limbs and other debris. ...

... Meanwhile, just so we won’t all get too comfortable, the word went out that there were at least a few scam artists circling over the damaged communities.

Officials of the Utah Department of Commerce were warning residents whose property had suffered significant wind damage to be cautious when selecting contractors to repair their homes. Over the weekend, the department received several complaints from residents that they had been approached by people who claimed to be contractors who offered to do necessary repairs for a fee.

Officials were warning homeowners to be wary of such offers, to insist on checking out contractor’s licenses (at www.dopl.utah.gov) or credentials and, above all, not to pay up-front in cash.

Even with all that good-neighborliness going on, sadly, there are still reasons to take care.

- Spirit of voluntarism - Deseret News Editorial

The storm never materialized, but that hardly mattered. The residents of Davis County proved something to themselves Sunday, and they united communities in the process. They learned about their own capacity to love and to engage in the lives of others through impressive voluntary service. ...

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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