November 5 editorial
As this editorial is being written, Summit County voters are still trudging to the polls in wet, snowy weather. The final tally of the local County Council and school board races won’t be added up until late tonight but, on at least one issue, Summit County citizens and even the council candidates have passed judgment.
All of the candidates questioned at the KPCW/Park Record debate Monday disavowed any connection to a last-minute anonymous mailer sent to residents throughout the county that slammed Democratic candidates Sally Elliott, Claudia McMullin and Chris Robinson. According to the mailer, the three would take away property rights, remove the "wealth created by the sweat of your brow," and would jeopardize the "east side way of life."
The mailer refers concerned voters to the Web site http://www.oursummitcounty.org which has been disseminating a similar message online and in advertisements in The Park Record throughout the campaign.
The diatribes accuse the current County Commission of favoring certain developers with more favorable development rights and then covering it up. Ironically, oursummitcounty.org also berates county officials for their "lack of transparency" while carefully disguising its own origins.
One of the original ads touting the Web site was purchased by an entity named Robert Benidetto. Efforts to confirm Benidetto’s identity hit a roadblock and the advertising agent was forced to put her own name on the advertisement. Similar ads have since been purchased by attorney Greg Ericksen who has been in a protracted battle with the county over development of his property along S.R. 248. Ericksen, however, has said that he is not responsible for creating oursummitcounty.com
Potential beneficiaries of the smear campaign, Republicans Bill Miles, Grant Richins and Alison Pitt and Constitution Party candidate Gary Shumway, who are running against Elliott, McMullin and Robinson respectively unanimously, distanced themselves from the site. Miles called the information "suspicious" and Richins added, "I have no idea where it came from." Shumway said he tried to identify the owners of the domain but was told they wanted to "hide."
Oursummitcounty.org does raise important questions about government accountability in general and the complicated issue of density transfers, in particular. Unfortunately the site’s author(s) discredit his(their) campaign with an unwillingness to own up to their statements.
Worst of all, the most recent mailer seeks to reopen and widen old rifts between diverse regions of the county.
The current candidates for the new County Council did a lot to help heal those rifts and the upcoming five-member council promises to go even further toward uniting Summit County.
Oursummitcounty.org represents a destructive, outdated type of shady backroom politics. Fortunately most Summit County residents are ready to move beyond those tactics.
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Park City officials are preparing to take what is considered to be an important step in protecting the Treasure land from wildfires. City Hall in early June requested proposals from firms interested in the work.