Thursday, June 04, 2015

Standard-Examiner: Officials Support Utah Public LandsTransfer, But at What Cost?

Perhaps its time for our Weber County Commission to cease wasting taxpayer money, no?

As a followup to our recent coverage of Utah State Representative Ken Ivory's feverish efforts to facilitate his quixotic federal land-grab, we'll cast the spotlight on this morning's Standard-Examiner hard-copy edition story, wherein veteran reporter Cathy McKitrick delves into the multiplicity if issues which led up to the lodging of multiple complaints against Rep. Ivory and his American Lands Council (ALC) non-profit lobbying entity during the past week.

Here's the lede, folks:
OGDEN — Four northern Utah counties are paying members of the American Lands Council (ALC), a nonprofit formed in 2012 to help western states regain control of federally owned lands within their borders.
So far, 21 of Utah’s 29 counties have joined the organization — including Box Elder, Cache, Morgan and Weber, counties that each subscribe at the “silver level” of $5,000 per year.
Now the ALC and its president — Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan — have come under fire for allegedly engaging in a scheme to defraud local governments of taxpayer dollars.
On Monday, the Washington D.C.-based Campaign for Accountability filed a complaint with Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, calling Ivory’s claims “spurious” that contributions to ALC would result in federal lands getting transferred back to the states.
Here's full story, WCF readers.  We invite you to read up:
Ms. McKitrick has done a yeoman's job of framing the issues for her Standard-Examiner readership, wethink; but we'll highlight this story element which particularly caught our attention.  In her typical investigative thoroughness, she's managed to interview two of our three Weber County Commisssioners, who are coughing up $5000 anually to support Mr. Ivory's ALC. Specifically we found this section of her story, containing remarks from Weber County Commissioner Kerry Gibson, to be particularly enlightening:
“We live in a state where nearly three-fourths of the land is federal land, and that has a huge impact on all of us — our schoolchildren, our families, our recreation, our economic development — all of those things are critical to us,” Weber County Commission Chairman Kerry Gibson said of the dilemma states west of the so-called “fault line” face because so much of their ground produces no property tax.
The ALC website,, displays a map of the United States showing the dividing line between eastern states that have very little federally owned land and those in the west that are drenched in red (signifying federal ownership) — Nevada being the biggest loser, with Utah ranking a close second.
By joining with other counties, Gibson said the western problem is finally beginning to gain some traction.
“This is an issue that’s discussed at every single National Association of Counties meeting we attend,” Gibson said.
That separation of east and west shows where the federal government reneged on its promise, Gibson believes.
“They [the federal government] stopped in the 1970s ... and did not fulfill the commitment that they made through the enabling act and through the Constitution to return those lands to state ownership,” Gibson said. (Emphasis added.]
Significantly, Commissioner Gibson twice refers to the federal government's "reneg[ing] on its promise," and failure to " fulfill the commitment that they made through the enabling act and through the Constitution to return those lands to state ownership,”

Sadly, Mr. Gibson's assertions find no legal support. In that connection, check out this scholarly legal analysis from the Univerity of Vermont Law Review (of all places) , which soundly and thoroughly refutes the claim that ill-conceived state laws, such as Representive Ivory's H.B. 148 (Transfer of Public Lands Act and Related Study (the same statutory mechanism he's proposing for other states,) is a constitutional way for Utah (or other states) to compel Congress to fulfill an ostensible promise in the Utah Enabling Act (or similar acts) to dispose of public lands. This article reveals that Congress never made such a promise and concludes that the TPLA and other such legislation is, and would be, unconstitutional.

Read up folks:
Here's more from Ms. McKitrick's story, folks:
Anne Weismann, executive director of Campaign for Accountability, said her nonprofit opened its doors about a month ago as a watchdog organization that uses research, litigation and aggressive communications “to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.”
Weismann had harsh words for Ivory, likening his marketing tactics to trying to sell people the Brooklyn Bridge.
“He’s been going around to the western states selling the idea that if you give money to his organization, states can pass laws to restore federal lands to states,” Weismann said of the land transfers she and others believe would be unconstitutional.
Our take? Even with the best of intentions, Commissioner Gibson and his gullible Commission colleagues have bought Rep. Ivory's flim-flam "hook, line and sinker." 

Perhaps its time for our Weber County Commission to cease wasting taxpayer money, no?

No comments:

Post a Comment

© 2005 - 2014 Weber County Forum™ -- All Rights Reserved