Wrapping up 2012
December 28, 2012
Well, that’s it for 2012. The Mayans were wrong and Ann Coulter was right. She predicted the Republicans would nominate Romney and lose. The GOP primary process was a full year of one unelectable candidate after another becoming the front-runner, mostly by running against Romney. After a full year of ripping him apart, they nominated him. The Republicans were shocked that he didn’t win. Meanwhile, Obama struggled to win a Democratic primary in West Virginia, where the other candidate was a mullet-wearing man in prison.
Despite having consistently demonstrated that the job is too big for them, we reelected members of Congress overwhelmingly. The legislative accomplishments of Congressman Bishop have yet to be discovered after all these years, but we sent him back with 80 percent of the vote.
This was a year of abnormal weather. There was no snow to speak of. Sundance didn’t bring snow. The Ute Indians couldn’t bring snow. The National Weather Service kept predicting snow that never came. Ski season was terrible. The redwing blackbirds showed up at my house a month early in the spring.
Summer hit, only to be interrupted with a hard freeze in June. That wrecked the first hay crop. It was hotter than blazes in July, and that caused the second hay crop to blossom and quit growing. It was a summer marked by dry rivers, withered crops, and forest fires too close for comfort. Guests of the St. Regis were evacuated for a 5-star night on the gym floor. The wind shifted and they were spared. The raspberries came on a full month later than normal, just in time to freeze in September.
We sort of noted the 10th anniversary of the Winter Olympics. It had the feel of an obligation rather than celebration. The lame effort of marking the anniversary was proof positive that once the circus has left town, it’s over. There are serious discussions about trying to bring the Olympics back, and anybody who experienced it, even a skeptic like me, has to think it’s worth pursuing.
There were some big news stories with lasting impact. The dispute between Talisker and Park City Mountain Resort over the renewal of the lease on most of the PCMR ski terrain erupted into litigation. They will eventually have to find a solution because neither party can operate without property owned by the other. PCMR owns the base and parking lots; Talisker owns the mountain. Without both, it’s grazing land. But while this grinds through the litigation process, on-mountain improvements will be at a standstill.
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To stay in the top tier of resorts, PCMR needs to expand its on-mountain restaurants, and could use some lift improvements in a few places. That won’t happen with the uncertainty of the litigation, and if they end up with a radically different business deal in the end, it might be hard to make it work. That’s not good for the town as a whole.
The city, county, and the developer of the proposed movie studio at Quinn’s Junction ended a 10-year legal battle this year. We were told that the movie studio would be under construction as quickly as the ink on the settlement agreement dried. But to nobody’s surprise, it is apparently difficult to get a bank to finance a gigantic movie studio here. Go figure. So after an epic battle that sometimes involved the state legislature and even Congress, it’s still a hay field. It can join the Sweeney/Treasure Hill project in the museum of frightening projects that are so uneconomic they will never be built.
In that vein, the current most alarming project is the Kimball Art Center’s expansion. They brought in a rock-star/Viking architect who has hypnotized the city planning department into thinking that an 80-foot-tall pile of scrap lumber is at least worth discussing. The city could have politely pointed to the existing codes and said no. Instead, there is a long process underway looking at whether to amend codes in ways that would make filing the application plausible. Given the chipping away at the integrity of the historic district over the last decade, anything could happen on this one.
The county seems to have found a way around the anti-tax petition, and raised taxes to cover the cost of snowplowing in Service Area 6. The unreported story here is that the county’s bookkeeping is so bad that for years it has been underfunding Service Area 6 by about half and nobody noticed it. Cannibalism in the unplowed cul-de-sacs has been averted, but I’m not sure they have figured out which bills to pay with the green checkbook and which to pay from the blue one. Maybe we should start a petition to hire an accountant.
In my household, 2012 added a new dog and another old tractor. Both were completely unplanned, and now seem absolutely essential. Funny how that works.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.