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Staff column

Sun Advocate publisher

Governor's Narrows state of mind

Last week Governor Gary Herbert was wrapping up his tour of rural Utah when he stopped at a few venues in Sanpete County. According to an article in the Sanpete Messenger he talked with people, gave a speech to some community leaders at the Peterson Dance Hall in Fairview and then visited some businesses in the area.

He also did something else. While it was unclear from a sidebar article in that paper whether he told a reporter his thoughts or he told a group of people, he said he was in favor of building the Gooseberry Narrows project. According to the article by Suzzanne Dean, the Sanpete Messenger's publisher, he said, "I know the issue. You don't have to convince me."

Dean also went on to report that Herbert went further by saying that it was clear the water that the dam would capture belongs to Sanpete County.

There you go; we have it. We now know where the governor stands. I have heard some people in this county say they really like him. Well I have to ask, how do you feel now?

Last year he spoke at USU Eastern to a large group of people, mostly community leaders, during a luncheon sponsored by the Carbon Chamber of Commerce and Zions Bank. He talked about the economy and how well Utah is doing. He then took questions.

Everyone asked him pretty nice questions, except me. I asked him what I knew was a loaded one; one about how he felt about the Gooseberry Dam.

He never answer the question, but instead fled into some kind of folksy story about his father and a neighbor who had a dispute over irrigation water and how they resolved and on, and on, and on...

He knew if he said how he felt he would get booed right off the podium. After he answered that he quickly left and got out of there, whereas before the meeting he was all into patting backs and telling everyone how much he loved being in Carbon County.

Now we know his true thoughts because he was unequivical about what he said in Sanpete County.

But I already I knew how he's the same way most of the Republican state office holders feel. Sanpete is a bastion (as if there aren't many of them in the state) of their party's loyal followers. All the congressmen (except Jim Matheson) and both senators from this state give us lip service when it comes to this issue. Herbert and and the others are all running for re-election, and most of them know they won't get the support they really want out of Carbon residents, but they will play to their base.

What bothered me more about his statement than anything though was another paragraph in which he had told Dean that Carbon native and former State Senator Mike Dmitrich had told him privately that the water did belong to Sanpete County. Dean is an excellent journalist and I know her personally. She would not put that in an article unless he really said it. So I called up Mike and asked him if he ever did say the things the governor related to her.

"I never told him I thought that it was Sanpete's water," said Dmitrich in phone interview on Friday morning. "I told him that we might be willing to compensate them for the water in some way, and I guess he could have misconstrued that as me saying that I thought it was theirs."

He also went onto say that he would never have said that it was Sanpete's even in confidence.

So now you have it; you know how the governor stands and you know how he even justifies it. I have never been a person to vote for or against someone because of one issue, but in this case I think I will certainly make an exception.

The water that flows out of that basin has literally always flowed this way and has been Carbon's lifeblood for 130 years. The approach the governor has taken shows that he would serve one segment of the people he represents over another, one region over another and one county over another. That's nothing new; he has been doing that for a long time.

The fact is, it's just more out in the open now.

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