Apparently, the Summit County Commissioners believe that operating in the "gray area" equals integrity and honesty in government. Gray area is simply a euphemism for "cover up." The county commissioners’ public statements regarding Mountain Regional’s illegal diversions on the Weber River are just the latest example of the "gray area" doctrine adopted by the current commissioners.
In an attempt at damage control, the county commissioners and other spokespersons have dodged direct questions and used the "gray area" approach to cloud the issues and cover up illegal activities. Here is a sampling of those statements taken from transcripts of KPCW radio interviews covering the period from July 14, 2006 through Oct.19, 2006:
Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme — "We haven’t done a thing with those wells since we started importing water." July 13, 2006.
Andrew Armstrong — "This gray zone is kind of what Summit Water has put their foot in the door to you know, just stir things up." July 14, 2006.
Commissioner Sally Elliott — "Well, my understanding, of course we haven’t discussed it fully, but my understanding is that we had some spring run-off and the trenching was an attempt to bring water back into the channel and get it out of the meadow." July 18, 2006.
Commissioner Bob Richer — "Mountain Regional did have conversations with the state engineer. The state had sent mixed signals and there was room for interpretation one way or the other." July 20, 2006.
Commissioner Bob Richer — "The issue, the gray zone, is to how we are taking the water." October 19, 2006.
The county commissioners have admitted to the illegal diversions and there is no "gray area" under the law. Utah law governing water rights is crystal clear. Section 73-3-3(9) of Utah’s water law states: Any person who changes or who attempts to change a point of diversion, place of use, or purpose of use, either permanently or temporarily, without first applying to the state engineer obtains no right; is guilty of a crime punishable under Section 73-2-27 if the change or attempted change is made knowingly or intentionally; and is guilty of a separately punishable offense for each day of the unlawful change.
It is time to get rid of elected officials who refuse to be open and honest with the public and elect those candidates with integrity and those who will dignify their public calling.
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“We would also agree that the way Hideout is going about its business is not creating harmony within our community,” writes Jeff Sterling in a guest editorial. “There must be a better way. Hideout, the choice is yours.”