Thursday, October 30, 2008

More letters to the editor

Alder committed to protecting lands

I am excited for next Tuesday's elections. As Washington County residents we will head to the polls and cast our votes for the next leader of our nation. But just as important, we will head to the polls and choose the next leader of our county.

I am voting for Lin Alder for Washington County Commission because of his commitment to protect the public's right to use public lands, because of his commitment to develop solar and wind power energy as a way of diversifying and vitalizing our economy, and preventing dirty coal-fired power plants from polluting the air we breath.

I am voting for Alder because of his commitment to creating affordable, reliable and practical water supplies, and his belief that if we spend millions of dollars on an unreliable pipeline that the people paying for it should get a vote.

I am voting for Alder because of his past work and future plans to insure a Dixie with smart planning and development. Next Tuesday, vote for the man working for the people of Washington County. Vote for Lin Alder.

Sara Dykman

Candidate offers fresh perspective

First as an outsider, then a "snowbird," now a full-time resident, I have come to love Southern Utah and the diversity of people I meet here. Now, as one happily transplanted from "up north," I hope to share an opinion with your readers.

I've been greatly impressed during this political season to find someone of enormous integrity, commitment and intelligence willing to seek office as a Washington County commissioner. As we all know, a commissioner is no easy job. I refer, of course, to Mr. Lin Alder, homegrown, who is passionate about the land - its history, its people, its promise.

Washington County, now more than ever, stands in need of energetic leadership. These are not the times and this is not the election to be afraid of fresh ideas and solutions. Lin Alder impresses me as someone who would provide wise decision-making. Specifically, I mention his education in natural resources, his world exposure as a photographer, his unflagging commitment to the area - even unto bicycling the route of the Lake Powell pipeline in recent days.

I find him well-equipped for a job too big to trust those whose actions may impose heavy tax burdens on a county already challenged with a burgeoning population.

Ivy Ruckman

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lots of supportive editorial coverage

in the Oct. 28th Spectrum...

Don't let area become So. Calif.

I have just read an article about the Washington County Commission race. Lin's opposition has described how we should view Lin Alder. They have told us that, in part, because Lin has worked aggressively on the downwinder issues of Divine Strake and the Toquop power plant, we should question his loyalties. Further that because Lin has worked actively to promote implementation of the Vision Dixie goals through the local community organization Citizens for Dixie's Future, he is an "extreme environmentalist."

Lin Alder's opponent says the cost/benefit of the billion dollar Lake Powell pipeline is not an issue in the commission race. Four dollar a gallon gasoline is described by Lin's opponent as the more important issue in the race. I question whether the lobbying of our county commissioner can impact the price of oil. However, we do face many local issues where our county commissioner will have an impact on the future of our area.

As one who does not want the future of Washington County to look like Southern California and Southern Nevada, Lin Alder represents the future I want to see.

Dennis Kay

Alder supports a rational growth plan

I was just getting over the drop in the market value of my home and the evaporation of what used to be my retirement fund when I read Ron Thompson's plan for me - and you - to take on a couple of billion dollars in debt for a new water pipeline (Oct. 11 Spectrum).

His "cost-effective" claim is that costs will be borne by new residents through impact fees. That should be easy. Invite another 400,000 people to move in. The trouble is, the economy puts a damper on those plans, and who wants that many more people anyway when no one in charge of this county has a sustainable growth plan and resists defining one, with the exception of Lin Alder, the subject of Thompson's misdirected ire.

But not to worry. We're all signed on to legislation guaranteeing repayment "through a balance of impact fees, property taxes and fees." The last two revenue sources, which Thompson ignores, give me pause. So I'll be voting for Lin Alder, a champion of clean, renewable energy for Dixie and a rational approach to the problem of water in the desert.

Gene Gerstner

Local issues too important to vote straight party ticket

When I returned to Southern Utah a few years ago, I discovered an associate had been elected to a county office. When I congratulated him, he confessed his election had been a snap. Once he convinced "party leaders," the battle was won.

I could never understand how people could simply vote a straight party ticket, for either side, and then think they had performed their civic duty.

If you attend local party conventions, you know that nominees are often selected in a rather undemocratic fashion by a few party insiders and a sprinkling of the party faithful. Often, they are not the nominees you would have picked.

When you vote a straight ticket you are putting great faith in a few party insiders you probably don't even know. And when one party totally dominates a particular area, you are letting a few individuals determine the election.

This year we owe it to ourselves to become familiar with the candidates and issues, especially in county and state races. One race in particular will directly affect our future - the race for Washington County commissioner.

From all accounts, incumbent Alan Gardner is a decent and sincere man. Still, some are asking whether he recognizes that county residents' priorities have changed during his 12-year tenure. Does he still lean towards "quantity" rather than "quality" on issues concerning the county's future?

Gardner says he favors preserving the area's scenic beauty and quality of life. He wishes Washington Fields had been preserved as a green area. But do his actions for the past 12 years speak more loudly than his words and wishes today? Last year he supported the proposed coal-fired Toquop power plant until public opposition became too obvious to ignore. Located just upwind of Washington County, the plant would supply power to Nevada and California.

Gardner supports the sale of public lands in Washington County to allow more private development. He also supports the billion dollar (plus interest) pipeline from Lake Powell to the Sand Hollow Reservoir. Without it, most experts agree Washington County could "only" double or even triple its current population. With the pipeline, the county would have to grow much larger in order to pay for the costliest public project in Utah's history.

To Gardner's credit, he protected pictographs and some scenic views when he sold his family land for The Ledges development. In the end, however, there were Ledges houses visible from the floor of once-pristine Snow Canyon.

Gardner's opponent, Lin Alder, has been executive director of Citizens for Dixie's Future and a leader in the Vision Dixie process. Alder wants a community vote on the pipeline, rather than giving authority for such a major decision to the non-elected Washington County Water Conservancy District. Alder also wants to diversify the local economy, gradually weaning it from dependence on rapid population growth.

If you are happy with the direction the incumbent commissioners are taking us, vote for Alan Gardner. If you think the commission needs a fresh voice, vote for Lin Alder.

Art Porter is a Washington City resident and a member of The Spectrum & Daily News Writers Group.

Candidates' debate now available online

The Spectrum website now has a videotaped version of the October 28th debates between Brooks Pace & Steve Urquhart and Lin Alder & Alan Gardner.

Here's the link...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Great new Pipeline Trek coverage

Adventure photographer/videographer Blake Gordon has teamed up with Patagonia, the outdoor gear manufacturer, to post outstanding coverage of the Lake Powell Pipeline Trek. This includes links to the 9 minute trek video, 30 previously unseen photographs and Blake's perspective on how the Trek fits into the bigger picture of the Southwest's drive towards an unsustainable future and our local attempt to choose a different path.

Will state taxpayers pay $2 - $9 billion for Pipeline?

Representative Steve Urquhart responded in Saturday's SL Trib to the charge that he's lying about Lake Powell Pipeline financing (see below). He's now claiming that state taxpayers will pay interest on at least $1 billion in loans on the project. With an expected 50 year payback, that adds up to $2 billion or more.

It's good that Steve has made this statement publically. It is the same claim that my opponent Alan Gardner has recently made. Now all fiscal conservatives in Utah, like me, who oppose the endless expansion of government bureaucracy through unaffordable, unnecessary pork barrel projects have a reason to convince their friends in Washington County to vote for Brooks Pace (Urquhart's opponent) and Lin Alder.

I disagree with Steve's interpretation of the State's pipeline financing plan as described in Senate Bill 27 authorizing the Pipeline (in 2006). The law clearly states that the State Board of Water Resources "shall establish prices for the developed water sold to the districts and electricity sufficient to: recover the reimbursable preconstruction costs, construction costs, and INTEREST on those cost" (emphasis added). This makes it clear that the state has the authority to charge whatever it considers reasonable for water and electricity to cover interest costs when the time comes.

Here's the catch: Urquhart can claim today that the State will cover $2 billion of interest costs when the project would start delivering water sometime between 2015 and 2020. But according to S.B 27, the State is under no obligation to do so.

The truth is that Pipeline construction costs will likely at least double, if not triple, by the time the project is completed. So the State will likely face $4 to $9 billion of interest and refuse to "eat it" (Urquhart's term). Steve can then say "Sorry, Washington County taxpayers. It was my understanding in 2008 that the State would cover the interest."

S.B. 27 says that the State will determine water and power rates when water starts flowing. What condition will the State budget be in if/when that happens 7 to 12 years from now? If the economy is weak, the State will have $2 to $9 billion of interest payments that must be paid, no matter what. The State will do its best to extract the most from Washington County taxpayers, but the rest must come from Utah's other taxpayers. This would cut into hard-fought education and transportation budgets.

Now that Urquhart has let the cat out of the bag, how likely is it that the majority of State legislators will go along with this new burden on the state's future budget? Again, I don't believe that Urquhart is interpreting the law correctly, but now that he says all Utah taxpayers will pay a large portion of southwest Utah's Pipeline project, how will northern, central and eastern Utah legislators respond?

This is one more reason why Washington County and Utah water officials need to get very serious about studying three Pipeline alternatives: surface water (Virgin & Santa Clara rivers), groundwater (Navajo aquifer) and water conservation. I'm not a betting man, but if I were, I'd put $1,000 on the Pipeline not being built, due to either funding problems, political issues with downstream users or concerns about Lake Powell being too unreliable.

Regardless of the reason, if the Pipeline is not built, Washington County sure better have a solid plan B, C and D to pursue in its place. Since 1991, Utah water officials have been so single-mindedly pursued the Pipeline as southern Utah's sole future water source that we're dangerously far behind with a back up plan if/when the Pipeline gets the official thumbs down.

In case you need extra encouragement to vote for me (or convince your friends to do so), here is my promise. As Washington County Commissioner, I'll make sure the Pipeline Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) objectively studies surface water, groundwater and conservation with equal vigor to studies of the Pipeline. When this EIS is finished in 2012 (hopefully), I'll make sure citizens are informed about all realistic water options. I'll then support an initative or referendum so citizens can select the water option they prefer for Washington County's future.

--Lin Alder

Here's Steve Urquhart's response fron the Trib...

State taxpayers big contributors to Lake Powell pipeline
Stephen Urquhart
Article Last Updated: 10/25/2008 12:05:52 PM MDT

A Tribune op-ed by Bruce Wilson under the title: "Urquhart joins Powell Pipeline Liar's Club" states I enter the liar's club when I say, "The state will pay for a big chunk of this [Lake Powell] pipeline."
The bill at issue is SB 27 - Lake Powell Pipeline Financing (2006). Section 201 specifies that the Legislature will fund the project - to be paid back by the districts using the water.
However, Section 401 of the bill reads, "The state shall pay the nonreimbursable project costs allocated to recreation and fish and wildlife." That provision, of course, means that the state will pay some costs of the project.
Section 402 specifies that the Washington, Iron and Kane water conservancy districts (the "Districts") must pay back the state within 50 years of the date of the delivery of developed water. The key trigger date for the districts' financial commitment is not the project's completion date; rather, it is when developed water is actually taken by the districts.
I'll explain the financing with an analogy. Let's say Capital Finance covers construction costs for a new five-story building that Company X eventually will own. Company X will repay Capital Finance the actual construction cost for each floor, only when it occupies each floor.
If Company X grows to occupy all five floors within 50 years, and it pays cash for each floor as it occupies that floor, it won't pay any interest on the original construction costs. Capital Finance will cover those costs, thereby contributing significantly to the financing and overall cost of the building.
Likewise, if the districts pay cash for each block of water they take, at the time they actually take each block, the districts won't pay any interest. The state will cover the interest costs of the pipeline project. That, clearly, is "a big chunk."
Wilson and other project opponents tend to significantly exaggerate the financing costs of the project, then they happily trot out those costs as a reason that Washington County cannot afford the pipeline.
Let's hope that those project opponents, when it is pointed out that those same costs actually will be picked up by the state, won't try to say that those costs suddenly constitute something less than "a big chunk."
This is an important project to southern Utah and to the entire state of Utah. As such, local residents will pick up a good portion of the tab and the citizens of Utah also will help - just as we've done, and will do, with water projects and infrastructure items in other parts of the state.

* STEPHEN URQUHART, a Republican, represents St. George in the Utah House.

Republicans voting for Alder

Our campaign has heard from thousands of people who usually vote Republican that they're voting for Lin because he supports a vote on the Lake Powell Pipeline, because he's young and full of energy to accomplish his new ideas, because he's not an incumbent or some other reason. Many of these people also say they're voting for Brooks Pace because he shares Lin's views on the Pipeline and Jim Matheson because he's proven that he cares about southern Utah.

We're grateful for these stories and now the Spectrum has confirmed that these Republican voters are actually doing what they say. Here's the story:

Debates in the news

With 8 days to go, the local Spectrum newspaper has zeroed in on the unusual kind of campaign we're putting on. Not only are we debating our opponent (unusual for southern Utah campaigns), we're doing it a total of 18 times! Two Spectrum stories on Oct. 25th and Oct 23rd are pasted below.

This week's debate schedule is below. Please either attend or convince your undecided friends to show up! Thanks. :-)

Monday 10/27, Debate w/ Alan Gardner, 8 p.m., Dixie State College Dunford Auditorium, The Spectrum and Utah Public Radio (live statewide broadcast on KUSU FM 90.7) Brooks Pace and Steve Urquhart will debate at 7 p.m.

Wednesday 10/29, Debate w/ Alan Gardner, Noon, Dixie State College Gardner Center, St. George Chamber of Commerce

Wednesday 10/29, Debate w/ Alan Gardner, Brooks Pace and Steve Urquhart, 7 p.m., Red Mountain Elementary, 263 E 200 S, Ivins

Thursday 10/30, Debate w/ Alan Gardner, Brooks Pace, Steve Urquhart, Brad Last and Lyman Whitaker, 7 p.m., Coral Canyon Elementary, 3435 Canyon Crest Ave., Washington

Debates still to come
BY PATRICE ST. GERMAIN • • October 25, 2008

ST. GEORGE - Washington County Commissioner Alan Gardner-R. said this year's county commission race has been hectic but he has got the chance to meet a lot of people and get a lot of good input.

"Lin (Alder-D.) has been running hard and put forth a good campaign," Gardner said. "But it has been hectic with sometimes three different events on one day."

Alder said in the last three months, he has been busy almost every night and has talked to abut 7,000 people directly during that time period.

"It's been a different kind of election than Washington County has ever seen," Alder said.

Gardner, who is running for this third term as county commissioner on the Republican ticket said people have told him this has been the busiest county commission race.

Four years ago, Gardner ran unopposed and eight years ago, ran against Seth Stinson, but even that election didn't generate the number of public debates Alder and Gardner have been engaged in.

In addition to the 18 debates, both candidates have made appearances around the county. Alder said he has done about 40 meet-the-candidate nights and Gardner said he had about 30 appearances.

Although the schedules have been challenging at times, both candidates feel it has been a good race and speak highly of their opponent.

Today at l p.m. Gardner and Alder will debate at the SunRiver Community Center. Also scheduled to debate are Brooks Pace-D and Rep. Steve Urquhart-R. who are running for the Utah State Senate in District 29.

On Sunday, Grace Episcopal Church will host Alder during its fall service, "The Spiritual Side of Nature," which addresses personal stewardship and the environment. The meeting is at 10:30 a.m. at 1072 E. 900 South, St. George.

On Monday, The Spectrum & Daily News and Utah Public Radio from Utah State University will host a radio show, "Meet the Candidates." The statewide live broadcast is at 7 p.m. with Pace and Urquhart and at 8 p.m. with Alder and Gardner. Both forums are in the Dunford Auditorium of the Browning Building on the DSC campus.

On Wednesday at 7 p.m. the four candidates will debate at Red Mountain Elementary School, 263 E. 200 South, Ivins. They will be joined by Terence W. "Terry" Moore-D. and Rep. David Clark-R. running for the Utah House of Representatives from District 74

A "Meet the Candidates" noon forum on Oct. 30 at Dixie State College will host Alder and Gardner at the Dunford Auditorium in the Browning Center.

That day at 7 p.m., Coral Canyon Elementary School, 3435 Canyon Crest Avenue, Washington City, will host a debate with Alder, Gardner, Pace and Urquhart, who will be joined by Lyman Whitaker and Brad Last, candidates for state representative for the eastern part of the county.

All events are free and open to the public.

Candidates share views in public debates
October 23, 2008
For The Spectrum Daily News

ST. GEORGE - As the Nov. 4 election nears, Washington County residents are invited to participate in local debates among the candidates. This is a new experience for many voters and the first year they have been available at so many locations.

Speakers include Brooks Pace and Steve Urquhart, running for state senator, and Lin Alder and Alan Gardner, running for Washington County Commissioner.

Today at noon in the IHC Auditorium of Coral Desert Rehabilitation, 1424 E. Foremaster Drive, the candidates, along with Rep. David Clark and his opponent Terry Moore, will answer questions in an hour-long forum.

At 7 p.m. today, the Citizens Committee on Illegal Immigration will host a debate between Alder and Gardner, and Pace and Urquhart at the Washington County Chambers, 197 E. Tabernacle St.

Saturday at l p.m. the same four will debate at the Sun River Community Center.

On Sunday, Grace Episcopal Church will host Alder and Gardner during its fall service, "The Spiritual Side of Nature," which addresses personal stewardship and the environment. The meeting is at 10:30 a.m. at 1072 E. 900 South, St. George.

On Monday, The Spectrum & Daily News and Utah Public Radio from Utah State University will host a radio show, "Meet the Candidates." The statewide live broadcast is at 7 p.m. with Pace and Urquhart and at 8 p.m. with Alder and Gardner. Both forums are in the Dunford Auditorium of the Browning Building on the DSC campus.

On Wednesday at 7 p.m. the four candidates will debate at Red Mountain Elementary School, 263 E. 200 South, Ivins. They will be joined by Moore and Clark.

A "Meet the Candidates" noon forum on Oct. 30 at Dixie State College will host Alder and Gardner at the Dunford Auditorium in the Browning Center.

That day at 7 p.m., Coral Canyon Elementary School, 3435 Canyon Crest Avenue, Washington City, will host a debate with Alder, Gardner, Pace and Urquhart, who will be joined by Lyman Whitaker and Brad Last, candidates for state representative for the eastern part of the county.

All events are free and open to the public.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hi Friends,

This campaign is getting downright exciting! Positive change in Washington County is looking more and more likely as we get closer to Election Day. Lots of positive press coverage is appearing and the signs are showing that Alan Gardner and the Good Ol' Boys are quite nervous (see press clippings below).

You can help the campaign get even more exciting by spreading the word about the dozens of events (including 9 more debates) listed below and either showing up with your friends/family/neighbors or encouraging them to go. Items in bold are those we're sending out a call for volunteers (if you can help, please reply to this email or call Joyce Spinelli at 668-3509 for details)

Remember that we need to earn the vote of at least 18,000 voters who usually vote Republican in addition to getting every single Democrat to vote--especially if they're jaded about their vote for President not counting in Utah. If you help us get people to these events to meet Lin and/or hear a debate, we will win!

Please feel free to forward this message to anyone you think would be interested. Just be sure to check the events calendar at before heading to an event in case of any schedule changes.

The Line-up:

Friday 10/17, Free concert (Josh Warburton & friends) & free appetizers by Painted Pony,
6 – 9 p.m., Ancestor Square courtyard

Friday 10/17, Free concert (Desert Heat) & festivities,
6 – 9 p.m., Downtown Friday Night, St. George Town Square, co-sponsored by our campaign

Saturday, 10/18, 8 a.m., Ride for Dixie's Future: 30, 65 or 100 mile bicycle ride, Team Win With Lin, Main and Tabernacle, St. George

Monday, 10/20, Campaign Committee meeting, 1:30 p.m., Ancestor Square office, Main Street & St. George Boulevard

Monday, 10/20, Dixie State College Get Out The Vote Dorm Storm, 4 p.m., meet
@ DSC parking lot directly North of Library building, 850 East 100 South

Monday 10/18, Brooks Pace fund raising dinner, 6 p.m., Painted Pony Restaurant, Ancestor Square, RSVP to 435.619.2929

Tuesday 10/21, Debate w/ Alan Gardner, 6 p.m., Winchester Hills Firehouse, 1090 West 5830 North

Wednesday 10/22, Debate w/ Alan Gardner, Brooks Pace & Steve Urquhart, Association of Planned Communities, St. George Holiday Inn

Thursday 10/23, Debate w/ Alan Gardner, Brooks Pace, Steve Urquhart, Dave Clark & Terry Moore, Noon, Intermountain Health Care, Coral Desert Amphitheater, 1424 East Foremaster Drive, St. George

Thursday 10/23, Debate w/ Alan Gardner, Brooks Pace & Steve Urquhart, 7 p.m., Citizens Council on Illegal Immigration, Washington County Chambers, 197 East Tabernacle, St. George

Friday 10/24, Free concert w/ Dave Kreitzer & The Embrace, 6 - 9 p.m., Dixie State College Amphitheater at the fountain

Friday 10/24, Bestor's Best of Utah Singer Search
with Kurt Bestor, 6 - 9 p.m., Downtown Friday Night, St. George Town Square, co-sponsored by our campaign

Saturday 10/25, Meet & Greet, 11 a.m., New Harmony Library

Saturday 10/25, Washington County Candidates Debate, 1 p.m., Sun River Community Center

Saturday 10/25, Meet & Greet, 4 p.m., The Legacy community building,

Sunday 10/26, The Spiritual Side of Nature, conversation with Lin Alder and Alan Gardner, 10:30 a.m., Grace Episcopal Church, 1072 E 900 S

Monday 10/27, Debate w/ Alan Gardner, 8 p.m., Dixie State College Dunford Auditorium, The Spectrum and Utah Public Radio (live statewide broadcast)

Tuesday 10/28, Meet & Greet, 7:30, Leeds

Wednesday 10/29, Debate w/ Alan Gardner, Noon, Dixie State College Gardner Center, St. George Chamber of Commerce

Wednesday 10/29, Meet & Greet, 4 p.m., Sun River

Wednesday 10/29, Debate w/ Alan Gardner, Brooks Pace and Steve Urquhart, 7 p.m., Red Mountain Elementary, 263 E 200 S, Ivins

Thursday 10/30, Debate w/ Alan Gardner, noon, Dixie State College Dunford Auditorium, Dixie State College Forum Series

Thursday 10/30, Debate w/ Alan Gardner, Brooks Pace and Steve Urquhart, 7 p.m., Coral Canyon Elementary, 3435 Canyon Crest Ave., Washington

Friday 10/31, Trunk or Treat festival with Van Goh, 6 - 10 p.m., Downtown Friday Night, St. George Town Square, co-sponsored by our campaign

Saturday 11/1, Butch Cassidy 10K fun run

Monday 11/2 and 11/3, Get Out The Vote

Tuesday 11/4, Voting Day!

Tuesday 11/4, Celebration, 7 p.m., Location TBA

Wednesday 11/5 and 11/6, Take down the signs

Our campaign is in the press:

Debates center around economy, The Spectrum, 10/8/08
(text below)

How will Washington County face hard economic times? The Spectrum, 10/8/08
(text below)

Candidates spar over Vision Dixie, The Spectrum, 10/13/08
(text below)

Water District takes cost effective steps to ensure water supply, The Spectrum, 10/11/08
(text below)

Urquhart joins Powell Pipeline Liar's Club, The Salt Lake Tribune, 10/12/08

Debates center around economy

BY SCOTT KERBS • • October 8, 2008

ST.GEORGE - The financial future of Southern Utah was emphasized Tuesday as Washington County Commission and state senate candidates debated and presented their plans for stabilizing the local economy in the midst of a nationwide downturn.

The County Commission candidates, Democrat Lin Alder and incumbent Republican Alan Gardner, opened the Southern Utah Home Builders Association luncheon debate, followed by Utah State Senate candidates Steve Urquhart and Brooks Pace.

After brief introductions from both County Commission candidates, Alder identified his campaign platforms, focusing on the reduction of energy costs.

Alder emphasized the need to limit Southern Utah's dependence on foreign oil, suggesting a shift in focus to accommodate large solar farm projects in the area.

He did not detail a solar project proposal during the debate, but Alder explained his plans briefly after the event.

"My proposal is a major, 750-megawatt solar plant in the southwest corner of our county," Alder said.

With economic uncertainty looming throughout the county, Alder said he expects the financial situation to worsen in the near future.

"2008 has been tough," Alder said. "2009 is going to be a lot tougher. We need to begin the process of worst-case scenario planning."

He recommended the temporary suspension of impact fees imposed on local developers by the Washington County Water Conservancy District as a means of stimulating the county economy.

"I would recommend we consider a six-month hiatus," he said.

Gardner focused on limiting fuel costs and cutting taxes as he outlined his economic platform.

"Four-dollar gas has crippled us," Gardner said. "The only thing that is going to bring the price of oil down is availability."

Gardner said he plans to continue working with other county commissioners from across the country in urging the federal government to allow the mining of oil shale resources near eastern Utah, Colorado and Wyoming.

Chemicals found within oil shale rocks can be mined and synthesized to create a substitute for crude oil.

Following the debate, Gardner said the region contains enough oil to support the nation's fuel requirements for 100 years.

"It lowers our gas prices so we can get our economy going again," he said. "Until we increase the oil supply, our gas prices are not going to come down," he said.

Cutting taxes is also an essential tool in stabilizing the economy, Gardner said,

"One thing we can do is keep our taxes as low as we can," he said "We are not going to have an increase."

As the District 29 Senate candidates, Republican Urquhart and Democrat Pace, addressed the crowd, much of their discussion focused on the pervasive economic downturn.

Urquhart said a strong partnership between Dixie State College and University of Utah would provide expanded research capabilities and faculty.

"It brings unprecedented opportunities to our area," he said. "We can build a future that is far better than the present,"

Urquhart conveyed a message similar to Gardner's as he also said cutting taxes is required to restore the local economy.

Pace said there are few short-term solutions to the economic decline.

"I don't know anything that can be done for it right now," he said.

While he acknowledged the scarcity of quick fixes, Pace described his long-term goals to ensure the area's future.

He focused on sustaining tourism in Washington County, and said efforts must be made to maintain the area's natural beauty.

"We are steward of one of the most incredible economic machines that we could possibly imagine," Pace said "We cannot ruin our tourism industry by over-developing," Pace said.

Solar energy was also a concern for Pace as he underscored the need to create renewable energy resources.

He pointed to the falling costs associated with solar power generation, calling the prospect of a large solar plant "a real possibility."

"I think that can be an incredible industry for Southern Utah," he said.

How will Washington County face hard economic times?

The Spectrum Opinion page
October 8, 2008

This month's news from Wall Street means we have difficult times ahead. When it comes to the economic stability of
Washington County's government, 2008 has been tough. Our predicted revenue fell short, and property taxes increased.
In 2009, our traditional population growth rate may go way down. Will property taxes increase in 2009?

For more than three decades, the local housing industry has grown the county's property tax base. But the economy is
shifting very quickly. Our county government now needs to focus on economic survival and stimulus. The county needs
to become agile and rethink its revenue expectations from the troubled housing market in 2009.

Local developers are facing the additional challenge of paying the Water Conservancy District's impact fees of
basically $5,000 per quarter-acre lot. That's a big enough challenge, but the price tag for the Lake Powell Pipeline
recently increased from $585 million to $1.064 billion. In 2009, the impact fees on new lots will need to double to
accommodate this price increase. This means $10,000 per quarter-acre lot. Quite frankly, with the Dow below 10,000,
I think we need to rethink this impact fee, at least for the short term.

If elected, I would work to engage the county commission in a worst-case scenario planning process. The commission
should consider shifting revenue expectations away from impact fees and growth-related property tax increases for at
least part of 2009. We would also identify economic stimulus options. The biggest stimulus to consider is a
six-month suspension of the Water Conservancy District's impact fee. This short-term stimulus could help keep food
on the tables for many of us.

As commissioner, I would also enthusiastically work to attract more than $500 million of private investment from
solar power companies to build a 750 megawatt solar-power plant in the southwest corner of our county.
My inspiration for this solar-powered economic stimulus plan comes from oilman T. Boone Pickens. His plan to produce
20 percent of America's power from renewable energy by 2020 will produce hundreds of billions of dollars in new
wealth. We should earn our solar-powered share of that economic boon here in the desert.

Today's troubled economy also raises new questions about the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline. I think it is only one
of four alternatives to develop water for our county's future water needs. It is certainly the most expensive. The
other options are additional development of surface water - the Santa Clara and Virgin rivers, groundwater in the
Navajo sandstone below us and more efficiently using the water we've already developed.

I have studied all water reports dating back to 1991 when the pipeline was first proposed. It's clear that the
pipeline has been studied very seriously, but the alternatives have not. I suggest that we don't have enough
information to write off any alternative yet - especially ones that are more reliable and affordable. But the
four-year-long environmental impact statement is just now starting and should address all alternatives equally.

Why does this matter? Because it will soon cost a minimum of $10,000 per water hook-up. It is also the straw that
has broken the back of some developers who are now in bankruptcy. I hope we can learn a lesson from the mortgage
meltdown caused by people getting in avoidable debt that they couldn't afford when the economy changed. If you think
about it, the pipeline could be Washington County's mortgage meltdown waiting to happen: avoidable debt we can't

Regardless of your perspective on the pipeline, I ask that you elect me to the county commission so I can be a
balancing voice that ensures that the EIS produces a fair analysis of four alternatives. Once the studies are
finished, you should vote on the best option. In today's economy, you should have a say before the government puts
you deeper into debt.

Lin Alder is a Democratic candidate for the Washington County Commission.

Candidates spar over Vision Dixie

BY PATRICE ST. GERMAIN • • October 13, 2008

ST. GEORGE - In 2006 following an outcry from local residents about the Lands Bill proposed by Utah Sen. Robert Bennett and Congressman Jim Matheson, Vision Dixie was born.

The purpose of Vision Dixie is to create a long-term vision that will ensure a high quality of life in the county for years to come by engaging citizens to take part in meetings about growth, gathering ideas and to ultimately outline a publicly supported principle to guide future land use and transportation decisions.

A series of meetings took place throughout the county and numerous people participated in the Vision Dixie meeting before the information was complied in a report in 2007.

Given the enormous response by the citizens of the county, the Vision Dixieprocess was important to everyone from elected officials, business owners and residents and is still important to the candidates running for Washington County Commissioner.

Democratic candidate for County Commissioner Lin Alder said that in order to make the Vision Dixie implementation successful, he believes the business community and the citizens need to be more prominently involved in the implementation committee and process.

"Vision Dixie can not succeed as long as it remains primarily a government driven process," Alder said.

Alder's proposal is to expand the implantation committee from five members to a 15 member board with five members each representing business, citizens and government

County Commission incumbent Alan Gardner said Alder's been pushing the 15 member implementation committee and he doesn't agree with that.

Gardner said Alder has a heavy-handed approach with the implementation committee that Gardner said will be met with resistance by a number of the cities.

"The county doesn't have the authority nor does the implementation committee to go to towns and say 'do this,'" Gardner said. "You will turn off the towns is you come in with a heavy hand."

While Gardner said the individual communities need to make decisions about implementing the principles of Vision Dixie he also said that the wheels of government turn a lot slower than some would like.

"We have given it to the cities to implement in each city as they see the needs in the community," Gardner said. "It will take some time to go through the process."

Alder, however, said many citizens in the community are wondering what happened to Vision Dixie, Adler added that although Gardner claims to be fully committed to Vision Dixie, he wonders where all the enthusiasm went since it was unveiled to the public in January.

"I fully recognize that these processes take time but I question the amount of time that has been taken simply to introduce the principles to the cities," Alder said. "I know that many city councils and planning commissions in Washington County want more help in the work now required which includes rewriting zoning ordinances and general plans.

Alder said that work requires assistance from experts in the field, participation from citizens and careful consideration by the planning and city councils.

"Why has the county not answered the calls for help?" Alder said. "Why has the county not asked more business leaders to answer those calls for help?"

Alder said he believes the majority of citizens want the implementation to succeed and as a community, invested $500,000 designing Vision Dixie.

Gardner said he doesn't feel like there is any resistance to adopt Vision Dixie but the county or committee has no authority to push it down the throats of the cities.

As far as some of the principles about sensitive lands, Gardner feels that it's a little unfortunate some of that could not have happened earlier.

"One of the issues raised is the public lands out there," Gardner said. "To me, some of the public lands would have been better to develop and some of the private lands not develop."

Gardner said in particular, he would have liked to seen the Washington and St. George fields undeveloped and left as green space and developed into sagebrush flats rather than agriculture fields.

"That has been a concern for me in the Pine Valley (area) as well," Gardner said.

Gardner's family has property in Pine Valley and said the family has worked on conservation easements to preserve that property.

Alder said he believes the majority of the citizens want Vision Dixie to address additional key questions, of which the first is how large of a population can local water supplies support Ð 300,000; 600,000; 900,000; and once there is reliable evidence to supply that number, asks ourselves the next and absolutely crucial question of how big do we want to grow.

"Vision Dixie can help us answer the question that we absolutely must answer and how gracefully we will run out of water because we know that someday we will not be able to provide more water for more residents at some point," Alder said. "Will we hit that brick wall running at full speed or will we slide into that wall like sliding safely into home plate?"

Gardner said, like the conservation easement his family has done, there are other similar efforts being done around the county.

"We need to be careful as we grow," Gardner said. "We live in spectacular country and we need to preserve the quality of life and the view shed that we have."

Water District takes cost effective steps to ensure water supply

The Spectrum Opinion page
October 11, 2008

Lin Alder has written an opinion suggesting policies that would halt water development for Washington County. I hope residents understand the problems that would occur if you follow his lead.

We can all understand that it costs money to develop water resources. Wells must be drilled, pumps installed, water tanks built and pipelines constructed. Surface water must be diverted, stored in reservoirs and treated to safe standards.

The Washington County Water Conservancy District has adopted a policy that new growth must pay for the new water needed to serve that growth. Impact fees are the legal mechanism to allocate the cost of water for new growth. WCWCD impact fees are paid for by developers, builders or new lot owners in order to receive the water needed for their use. If water development costs weren't covered by impact fees, they would be added to your water rates. Existing customers would be paying to develop water for future customers.

The WCWCD impact fees pay for available capacity in existing water storage, treatment and delivery systems. Impact fees being collected now also pay for the systems that will be constructed in the next few years, such as the Crystal Creek Pipeline, Ash Creek system and Warner Valley Reservoir project, along with wells, treatment plants and other capital facilities. If these projects are not built, we will run out of water in the very near future.

Only after these projects have been built would impact fees go to pay for the Lake Powell Pipeline. The WCWCD impact fees do not include a cost for water rights, which can be as high as $40,000 to supply a household. By eliminating the cost of water rights and by blending the cost of all these projects, impact fees are kept at the lowest possible level.

The WCWCD has consulted with water experts over many years to ensure that the best available data are used in planning for water development. The United States Geological Survey has conducted extensive studies of the Navajo Sandstone Aquifer to identify the amount of water available. The Utah state water engineer has placed limits to match the available supply. The WCWCD will not rely upon a groundwater supply that will run out, leaving homes and businesses with no water.

Data also have been collected for the Virgin and Santa Clara rivers. Alder is suggesting we use water resources that flow only three out of every 10 years. No responsible water manager would choose to provide you with such an unreliable water supply. Furthermore, Alder's proposal would never succeed because it would take water away from endangered fish in violation of federal law.

Water planning and development must be adaptable. If growth slows, water development can be slowed. However, large water projects take years to plan and construct. If you postpone these actions too long, the water won't be there when needed. If we don't pay for projects needed until Lake Powell water is delivered, we will run out of water. Residents will be harmed, not by the cost of water, but by the lack of water for their homes and businesses.

All of the studies and considerations relied upon by the WCWCD have been addressed in open and public meetings of the WCWCD, the county, cities and state water agencies. The studies have been published and are publicly available. Nobody who has read and understood these studies would agree with Lin Alder's plans for Washington County's future.

As one wise person said, when you have water, you have many problems; when you have no water, you have only one problem. The WCWCD has a duty to solve that one problem, and we believe we have done so in a cost-effective manner, allocating costs to those who create the demand.

Ronald W. Thompson is general manager of the Washington County Water Conservancy District.

Urquhart joins Powell Pipeline Liar's Club

Salt Lake Tribune Opinion page
Bruce Wilson

Do you remember the Liar's Club, a TV game show that appeared in several different incarnations over the years? If so, and you're feeling a bit nostalgic, you might want to get tuned in to politics in Washington County. We've got our own incarnation of the show going on, known locally as the Lake Powell Pipeline Liar's Club.
Recently, Rep. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, joined the club, stating in the October issue of Today In Dixie magazine, "The residents in Southern Utah aren't going to have to take this on by themselves. The state will pay for a big chunk of this pipeline."
Either Urquhart had a case of temporary amnesia or he wasn't paying attention in 2006 when he voted for legislation authorizing the pipeline project. The legislation creating the pipeline organization clearly states on the Legislature's Web site: "All costs of the project will then be repaid by the three subscribing water districts . . . through a balance of impact fees, property taxes and fees."
It isn't a shock to anyone who follows Washington County politics that Urquhart - now running for state Senate - is a member of the club. Several of Urquhart's political associates - including all three members of the Washington County Commission - are already members, having previously made their own misleading statements concerning the pipeline, as in the following examples:
"The pipeline will only cost $500 million." That's not even close to true. The state recently re-estimated construction costs, concluding it would require nearly $1 billion to build the pipeline and nearly another billion in interest payments to finance it.
The state will issue bonds to build it - in essence take out a mortgage for 30 or 40 years - and the entire $2 billion of cost, principal and interest, will be repaid by the local water districts. And is there anyone who really believes the current $2 billion estimate is high enough when it's already doubled in just the past year?
"The pipeline will be a redundant water supply." That's impossible when you understand that the only way to pay for the pipeline is through fees paid by newcomers who will move to Washington County and consume the pipeline water. To add insult to injury, if newcomers fail to come in sufficient numbers the residents of southern Utah will be stuck with the balance of the $2 billion bill.
"We have to build it because they are coming." This is the biggest scam of all. The truth is that Washington County will certainly run out of water for newcomers at some point and they will have to stop coming. Nobody is stupid enough to come if there isn't sufficient access to water.
With finite water supplies, the question is when will southern Utah shut off the growth, not if it will shut off the growth. And there are only two possible growth scenarios. Washington County officials can manage growth within the existing water supplies - enough for 500,000 people if reasonable conservation practices are put in place - or they can spend $2 billion to build a pipeline that will accommodate 785,000 people.
Personally, I think more than tripling the current Washington County population to 500,000 is more than enough and we ought to forget about the pipeline. Spending $2 billion to pack 785,000 people into the county would make it a pretty lousy place to live.
I've been a pretty reliable Republican voter over the years but this time around in local elections I'm going against my party where necessary and voting for honesty on the pipeline. I hope many of my neighbors in Washington County will do the same.
I also hope that many of you from around the state who enjoy visiting Washington County and have friends and relatives living here will encourage them to do the same. It might help preserve Washington County as both a great place to live and to visit.
* BRUCE WILSON lives in Washington County. He is a writer.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Candidates Spar over Vision Dixie

Read about Lin and Alan Gardner's views in this article from the Spectrum:

Vision Dixie

"Vision Dixie can not succeed as long as it remains primarily a government driven process"

Urquhart joins Powell Pipeline Liar's Club

Here's an interesting article from the Salt Lake Tribune on the Lake Powell Pipeline:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Lin's in the news!

This week has seen a flurry of news coverage about a debate between Lin and Alan Gardner, an OpEd from Lin and a supportive letter to the editor. Here's the scoop...

Alder qualified for County Commission

A supportive letter to the editor in The Spectrum from a retired diplomat.

How will Washington County face hard economic times?

Here's Lin's OpEd piece linking the need for new economic strategies and stimulus to opportunities to develop new wealth from solar power and re-think funding for the Lake Powell Pipeline.

Candidates debate about the economy

Here's the Spectrum's report from the debate sponsored by the Southern Utah Homebuilders Association and the Washington County Board of Realtors.