Letter: Regarding the gondola, it’s important for the public to be privy to who is paying for what

(Utah Department of Transportation) A rendering of a proposed gondola near Snowbird Resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Having legally represented many of the media outlets in Utah over the last three decades, I am familiar with what I call “paid routing.”

Some of the larger advertising firms specialize in getting a segment, an article or social media about their paying client. To the viewer/reader it appears as if it is just another news story that they as the viewer/reader/listener can decide the merits or demerits on their own.

I believe I spotted such a “paid routing” in the July 17 edition of The Salt Lake Tribune — under the headline, “UDOT’s gondola rendering changing opinions in Little Cottonwood Canyon.”

UDOT didn’t pay for the renderings, Gondola Works did. The Gondola Works (Snowbird, Alta, Ski Utah and other Winter Olympic promoters) is a group of financially interested business entities that have hired Love Communication to do their advertising, and they are certainly entitled to do so.

However, from the news about the public square, I believe the media needs to go below the surface, determine who is paying for what and then inform the public. In my opinion the proposed gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon is the first of three steps, each step being paid mostly by the Utah taxpayer.

First, the gondola goes to Alta/Snowbird, then to Brighton/Solitude and then on to Park City/Deer Valley/Canyons. Having served on the Olympic Bid Executive Committee, which started the process to win the 2002 Winter Olympics, a problem we had to face is that no winter Olympic venue could be held in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Why? Because there is only one entrance and one exit.

Arguably, but still uncertain, a gondola interconnect would solve that problem. Of course, with the jet setting International Olympic Committee norm of secrecy, Utah will not know until after construction is started on the three-destination gondola whether the IOC will accept it.

Basically, before UDOT and their friends in the Utah Legislature spend $1.4 billion of your tax dollars, there should be a public referendum about investing billions of dollars for a two week fair.

Pat Shea, Salt Lake City

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