By Ken K. Gourdin
This is in response to Tribune Editorial Page Editor Tim Fitzpatrick’s decision to publish West Valley City resident Allan Ayoub’s "dream headline," "Utah sells Tooele County to Nevada" (Opinion, Jan. 1).
While it’s true that I grew up in Tooele, have spent a significant portion of my life here, have many friends here, and have family members who have lived here for many years, my objection to the "hypothetical headline" is not driven by simple provincialism or local pride.
Perhaps Fitzpatrick should have been reminded that potentially alienating at least a few thousand prospective Tribune readers simply to score a few cheap rhetorical or satirical points wasn’t such a good idea in an era of declining readership, advertising revenue and staff levels.
It’s easy to shrug off many of the opinions that appear on its editorial pages as those of writers rather than those of the Tribune itself, but decisions about which opinions are published are made neither in a vacuum nor autonomously. One wonders what Fitzpatrick was thinking.
One would hope that a periodical that bills itself as "Utah’s Independent Voice" would have equal respect for all of the state’s inhabitants. The ill-considered decision to publish such a mean-spirited hypothetical headline, however, seems to indicate that such respect is lacking.
Further, Ayoub employs faulty logic. Political boundaries such as state and county lines are artificial constructs which exist only on maps. Usually, the only way a traveler realizes one has been crossed is by passing a sign telling him he has entered a different state or county.
Because most all such boundaries are denoted only by lines on maps rather than by walls or other physical barriers, merely selling territory to another state won’t do anything to limit the potential negative effects of possibly hazardous industries that Ayoub and Fitzpatrick apparently are so concerned about.
Whether it’s part of Nevada or part of Utah, Tooele County maintains its proximity to Salt Lake and to the Wasatch Front, so simply selling territory to Nevada wouldn’t protect the surrounding area if a mishap were to occur at one of the county’s potentially hazardous sites, nor is Tooele County the only place where such sites are located.
If Ayoub’s point, instead, is that Nevada officials would have made better decisions about where to allow potentially hazardous industries to locate, one need only consider the ongoing battle between the two states’ officials over the fate of the Snake Valley aquifer, which straddles the border between them, to realize that this is not necessarily the case.
The decision to locate potentially hazardous industries in Tooele County wasn’t simply a local one. If Ayoub is unhappy about that decision, he should realize that there is plenty of blame to go around: The companies had to decide where to locate, and state and federal regulators, along with other state officials, had to approve that decision.
And once commuters discovered that the trip from several of Salt Lake County’s southern suburbs to downtown Salt Lake for work didn’t take any longer than the commute from Tooele, more than a few former Salt Lake County residents decided to move here.
Perhaps they know something that Ayoub and Fitzpatrick don’t.
Ken K. Gourdin, Tooele, is a certified paralegal.
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