RS-2477 Continues to Fuel Controversy
A vote cast by Congressman Jim Matheson involving RS-2477 roads raised the ire of a number of county commissioners in the rural part of the state.
But the Carbon County commissioners did not share the reaction.
"Some thought that was a vote against rural Utah," pointed out Commissioner Steve Burge. "But the fact is that Matheson had thought the whole thing out very carefully and saw some problems with the way the measure would work."
"Based on our conversations with him, he just thought it was best to follow another path to solve the problem. We looked at and have no problem with that vote," commented Burge.
However, Carbon lawmakers voiced serveral concerns about a letter regarding RS-2477 that was drafted by the Utah Association of Counties.
After completing the document, the association sent the letter to Matheson before the United States House of Representatives conducted a vote on the federal legislation.
The names of all three Carbon lawmakers were listed on the letter, along with commissioners from 11 other counties.
"No one contacted me at all," explained Commissioner Mike Milovich. "I had no idea my name was on that until much later."
Topped with the Iron County letterhead, the document from the association asked Matheson to withdraw an amendment that he had sponsored on the issue.
The letter also asked Matheson to support a different amendment co-sponsored by U.S. representatives Rob Bishop from Utah's first congressional district and Chris Cannon from the third district.
Burge and Carbon Commissioner Bill Krompel also questioned whether the association had received authorization to list several of the other names included on the letter.
"One commissioner I talked with said he supported what the letter said, but also stated that he had never been asked if his name could be added," pointed out Krompel.
The controversy caps a two-week period in which an amendment Matheson sponsored was thrown out on a point of order that he voted against and other Utah congressmen sponsored.
Consequently some of the commissioners that signed the letter that named the Carbon commissioners on it, had a telephone press conference where they voiced their displeasure with the vote.
"There was a number of people at a meeting that I attended right after the vote who wanted to send a letter out that said Matheson had betrayed the rural counties and Utah," states Krompel.
Many state newspapers carried the story, based on press releases and hastily organized telephone conferences that was conducted July 23.
While commissioners from several counties were to be present on the line for the conference, only five were available including two from Washington County.
Based on the conference, many thought the feeling about Matheson's vote was unanimous amongst county commissions, but that was not the case.
"I asked for an apology for using our names and received it on e-mail," stated Burge. "I think there was some partisan politics being played with some of this."
Most upsetting to the county officials was not only the fact that their names were on the letter, but that it stated that they had "expressly authorized their signature" to be included.
Only one actual signature appeared on the letter and was that of the composer, Iron County Commissioner Dennis Stowell.
"What that means is we gave our permission and we did not," indicated Burge. "The way we see it Matheson just has different means to get to the end we all want to achieve."