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Staff editorial: What was the governor thinking?

Sun Advocate publisher

For many of us baby boomers, being able to ride down the rode in a nice car on a sunny afternoon listening to the Stones play "Satisfaction" is pretty good stuff. Even better, we might be able to take a trail ride on our ATV while listening to the same song on our IPOD.

But David Bonderman, a Texas born, $3.5 billion buyout equity king, wouldn't want you to do that. He'd apparently like us all to put our little machines in a garage somewhere and forget they ever existed. That's because with his money he can do things like spend $7 million on his own 60th birthday party at the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel where the Rolling Stones played for he and his guests live while Robin Williams hosted the show.

Regardless of their roots, most billionaires could care less about common people.

Bonderman, who apparently has an affinity for making money, listening to rock and roll and supporting such groups as the Wilderness Society, the Grand Canyon Trust, the World Wildlife Fund traveled to Moab a few weeks ago, taking with him another billionaire named Jon Huntsman who consequently insulted the over 80 percent of Utahns who own ATV's or dirt bikes.

The man we elected to protect and defend his constituency and their way of life called some areas around Moab that have been used by ATV's, jeeps and motorcycles for recreation an "embarrassment" to the state and an "abomination."

While there are places in the state where off road vehicles have caused damage, calling anyplace in Utah where off road people ride an abomination is just plain out of touch with what most of his constituents think.

I don't know what caused him to do this. He is usually a man who chooses his words carefully. Maybe it was traveling under the influence of one of the biggest money pockets behind the Southern Utah Wilderness Allilance on the trip he was referring to, or just maybe he is feeling invulnerable to public opinion because his approval ratings are so high and, based on polls that have been done, he believes he will win this falls election by a landslide.

But the people in this state need to let him know that just because he feels like Superman, doesn't mean there isn't some Kryptonite laying around the corner if he takes the wrong path. And taking a strong stance against off-road vehicles like he did could lead him right to the Phantom Zone.

The governor, who is a dirt biker himself, just looked like he was pandering to the environmental crowd with the statement. And I use the term dirt biker lightly, because you see he only rides on motocross tracks, never on open public land or on slick rock like many of us. So as far as I am concerned his motocross only experience is no credential for knowing what the hell he is talking about.

Consequently he asked that state officials are going to get tough on lawbreakers. Good. I have no problem with that and neither does most of the other riders I know. We all want to keep good relations with the state and in fact organizations like USA-ALL (Utah Shared Access Alliance) support keeping people on trails. That organization spends a lot of time educating people about this very thing; they also have groups that help build trails and repair damage.

USA-All has also repeatedly invited Huntsman to go on similar trips to look at the countryside, but he has ignored their invitations. I guess it's a lot more fun going with a billionaire.

But if we are going to discuss some abominations, let's talk about some others that government (and some other groups) are certainly a responsible a part of.

•Drive up Skyline Drive and look down on Blacks Canyon. There is hardly a tree alive below you for miles. Pines have succumbed to the power of drought and beetles and their stalks stand as shadows of the past. A fire that starts here will rage and burn into forests that are still alive but barely making it. Yet we can't have these dead trees cut down because environmentalists have stopped the forest service from doing that kind of logging.

•Highway 6 still continues to kill people every year. The record has gotten better since UDOT signage was put up a few years ago and they have been repairing the road and expanding it with what scraps of money they have been thrown by a legislature that is more interested in saving our morals instead of our lives.

•The state could help to build a good road up Nine Mile Canyon or could construct another way for gas exploration and maintenance vehicles to get into the West Tavaputs Plateau thus taking away the possibility of damage to antiquities. But instead it gathers in the money for the minerals produced and spends it in other ways like outlawing alchopops from grocery stores and defending stupid laws that the legislature makes in court.

•Each year jails around this state turn bad guys back out into the street rather than incarcerating them. Why? Because they don't have enough money to make room for them. Talk about an abomination.

•No rich people cried when billionaire himself Earl Holding destroyed Snow Basin by building a resort that continues to expand and expand. This is a development that took away fabulous hiking trails, a rich and lovely public campground and other natural beauty near the Ogden Valley, so the rich can have big houses nestled in a mountain valley and wealthy skiers can dine on the top of the mountain on crab and prime rib. Anyone really interested in "nature" surely should have said and done something about that. But the Olympics were coming, and dollar signs were in the eyes of the millionaires and billionaires who love these kinds of mountain stripping, erosion causing, pollution making developments.

I could go on and on. There are a lot of things more serious than some off road damage to areas near Moab that should concern the governor, but then they don't have billionaire champions on their side either.

Note that when this kind of crap gets stirred up it is usually started by someone or some group that is mostly from out-of-state, who thinks we in rural Utah should all live the way they want us to; hoveled in our little town enclaves, watching their super sports channels and not venturing forth to explore what they want as their kings forest preserve.

Special interests and the extreme rich have almost ruined this country. They are making us a second rate power, they have bankrupted our economy and now they want to put all of us in our place.

Isn't it time we said no?

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