Global economic figure slated to visit
Ryan Summerlin April 28, 2009
The organizers of the Western Governors’ Association’s upcoming meeting in Deer Valley have invited the president of the World Bank and two members of President Obama’s Cabinet to the three-day gathering at Stein Eriksen Lodge, adding cachet names to what was already anticipated to be a top-shelf political event.
According to a draft agenda released by the Denver-based association, Ken Salazar, the secretary of interior, is scheduled to deliver remarks on June 14. The next day, Steven Chu, the secretary of energy, is slated to speak to the governors. Robert Zoellick, the president of the World Bank, is also scheduled to speak on June 15. The event is scheduled June 14-16.
The association acknowledged this week that there is a good chance Zoellick will attend, but the Cabinet members have not confirmed their appearances. Chris McKinnon, one of the organizers, said commitments typically are not made until three or four weeks before the event. If they appear, McKinnon expects people in the sessions will listen to issues-oriented discussions.
"I think they would hear a different conversation, much better informed," he said.
Others who might speak during the gathering include Carol Browner, who is Obama’s environmental chief, a high-ranking figure in the Israeli government and representatives from the Chinese government.
There has been speculation that Obama could visit Park City for the gathering, but it is unlikely that an appearance by the president would be publicized until just beforehand.
The annual meetings of the association typically draw between 10 and 12 governors as well, according to McKinnon. Well-known governors of states in the West include Sarah Palin of Alaska and Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, both Republicans.
McKinnon said the World Bank leader might provide an "in-depth view" of the obstacles to international agreements to combat global warming, "the larger world response to climate change," he said. McKinnon said he also anticipates Zoellick will address the global economy. The World Bank provides assistance to developing countries.
Meanwhile, he said the group would listen to the interior secretary’s assessment of the Obama administration’s efforts to advance cleaner-burning energies, sometimes called renewable energies, and to improve the nation’s electricity grid. The West, McKinnon said, holds some of the nation’s most promising resources for cleaner-burning energies.
There has not been widespread talk around Park City about the upcoming meeting, and it has not received much publicity elsewhere in Utah. But local law enforcement leaders said they will prepare for the possibility of demonstrations. The World Bank has been especially targeted. McKinnon said the association during past meetings has drawn small groups of demonstrators outside the hotels where the meetings are held.
"It’s concerning from a security standpoint, certainly," said Dave Edmunds, the Summit County sheriff and one of the key figures who will draft a security plan for the association meeting. "All of what (Zoellick) represents attracts protesters."
The Sheriff’s Office and the Park City Police Department expect to cooperate, and early talks between the two have started. Edmunds said reinforcements from Wasatch Front agencies might be needed if the World Bank leader visits.
Edmunds said his deputies will use "reasonable and necessary force" if it is needed to keep the event peaceful. He said the Sheriff’s Office has a "variety of civil disobedience tools at my disposal," including tear gas, stun grenades and bean bags that can be fired from shotguns.
"We have the ability to deal with violent protesters if need be," the sheriff said.