Friday, August 6, 2004

Yeah, reach for more indeed...

What does it have to do with people outside of our little valley? Well, directly, nothing. But when one looks at the tactics and perspectives of the protagonists involved in this real-life drama, it has everything to do with American politics and economics in general. Onward, gentle reader...


Sanpete Messenger, 29 July 2004

The overwhelming majority of public officials, business people and residents along U.S. 89 support designation of the region as the National Mormon Pioneer Heritage Area, even if we aren’t out waving flags for the proposal.

The effort to derail Sen. Bob Bennett’s heritage area bill is primarily a one-man campaign by Brad VanDyke of Spring City, the titular head of an organization called Rural Utahns for Local Solutions (RUFLS).

Over the past couple of years, he’s attracted a few followers, perhaps a dozen. Most are people already known for their unconventional views.

VanDyke has made time-wasting appearance before county commissions, called for public hearings and spearheaded letters-to-the-editor campaigns.

We respect his constitutional right to petition government and to purvey his opinions through the press. But people need to understand that VanDyke’s goal is to ruffle enough feathers to create the misimpression that residents along U.S. 89 are sharply divided over the heritage area.

Since broad public support is one of the Department of Interior criteria for heritage area designation, VanDyke hopes, through what we regard as a disinformation campaign, to kill the heritage area bill.

Why? His opposition seems to be grounded in some eccentric ideas about rural economics. He seems to believe that if farmers adopted a different type of livestock manage-ment and if property tax law was changed so that tax was only levied on the value of land, not on buildings or other improvements, rural Utah’s economic problems would be solved. We could live in blissful isolation from metropolitan ills, and we wouldn’t need a heritage area to bring in dollars.

Such nonsense distracts attention from the fundamental purposes of the heritage area: honoring our Mormon pioneer ancestors. The designation would simply provide $10 million in federal funds to preserve, document and facilitate visitor access to artifacts of the greatest colonization movement in American history.

VanDyke also claims that heritage designation would lead to far-reaching control of local land use.

As Monte Bona, director of the Utah Heritage Highway 89 Alliance, has repeatedly pointed out, the proposed bill prohibits the heritage area governing body from interfering with local zoning. It also precludes the heritage organization from buying or altering property.

So let’s identify the anti-heritage area campaign for what it is—a one-man crusade built on fallacious premises. And let’s get word to Congress that the vast majority of us wholeheartedly support preservation of our heritage through designation of the National Mormon Pioneer Heritage Area

The responses:

Sanpete Messenger, 06 Aug 04


Our family was very saddened at the tone of your "ln Our Opinion" published Thursday. July 29th in the Sanpete Messenger. An editorial opinion should he a position on one or more is sues with reasoning and facts to support your view.

Your opinion headline telegraphed what was coining, “Anti-heritage crusade is one-man show”. Your opinion was not one taking issue with Brad VanDyke’s view but was a blatant personal attack on Mr. VanDyke himself. It was totally uncalled for and unprofessional.

Since the editorial was unsigned, we do not know who wrote it but whoever it was lessened the credibility of your entire staff.

And how do you know the “vast majority of us” wholeheartedly support the Heritage Highway designation? No information was given in the editorial to back up that view. As a matter of fact you do not know our families view nor our neighbors’ views since neither we, nor they were ever asked how we felt about that issue.

Next time you publish an opinion, do your homework and back up your views with research and reasoning. Not with personal vitriol.

Arleane C. Peterson

Kent Appleberry's Response, 06 Aug 04


I appreciate the editor's fairness in printing this response to last week's editorial, "Anti-heritage crusade is one-man show," about Brad VanDyke and Rural Utahns For Local Solutions (RUFLS), who oppose Senator Bennett's proposed National Mormon Pioneer Heritage Area Act(S916).

The editorial purported to "call a spade a spade." Let's call this bill what it really is: federal pork.

The editorial failed to recognize that the bill is a type of welfare program for tourism and other private "heritage businesses and products." Unfortunately, there's no real restriction on what counts as "heritage" or what portion of the money would go to so-called "heritage businesses" rather than true heritage preservation. Monte Bona, head of the "Heritage" Alliance that would give away the money, has said establishments whose menus include "heritage food," whatever that is--maybe a pioneer favorite like ham?--could get funds.

That isn't heritage preservation. That's pork.

The non-elected Alliance's only legal accountability would be to the federal Department of the Interior. Oversight provisions are weak.

Bona sees the bill as a way to help us move from agriculture to a service economy. That would be great for tourists and the influx of new summer residents, but it would only increase pressures on agriculture, a true heritage business. Emphasis on tourism generally does more harm than good to genuine heritage. It also tends to drive up property tax bills.

The editorial said the bill prohibits the Alliance from interfering with zoning. The bill doesn't prohibit them from requiring "voluntary" changes in zoning to get federal funds, which has already happened. The editorial claimed most of those working against the bill are "known for their unconventional views." Is it really unconventional to oppose a pork program that seeks to alter the character of the region without asking us what we want?

The editorial complained that RUFLS is small. The same is true of the Alliance, even though it's supported by public funds it can give away, while opponents have only the appeal to principles of good government. It's easy to build support for pork programs, and hard to fight them. The editorial said VanDyke is trying to create a false impression about the level of opposition. I've known Brad a few years. He's an honest man who says what he believes. If there's been any misleading, it's in wishfully claiming without evidence, as the editorial did, that there's overwhelming support for a bill that goes contrary to basic conservative Utah principles and that, in my experience, only a minority of locals know much, if anything, about.

Given the low level of awareness and high level of misinformation, I'd say the work of VanDyke and RUFLS is much needed, and that more discussion, not less, is called for. Express your views and ask questions at the public hearing, 6 pm August 24th at the County Commission chambers.

If you have concerns about this bill, please write your government representatives.

Kent Appleberry

Sanpete County

And yet another, Sanpete Messenger 06 Aug 04:


The Sanpete Messenger editorial of July 29, 2004, entitled “Anti-heritage crusade is one- man show,” has prompted me to respond with this letter.

Unlike the editorial’s assessment, I found Mr. VanDyke’s views refreshing and certainly consistent with the genuine story of those who pioneered these valleys. Those early people did not depend on big government to accomplish their desired goals. They rolled up their sleeves and went to work. They had great faith that with God’s help they could succeed.

Many of our early residents were descendants of stalwarts who had fought valiantly in the war for independence and/or had participated in other ways with the birth of this nation. Like their forebears, our pioneers championed George Washington and others associated with him. One evidence of their esteem can be commonly found in the names of pioneers. I myself have two George Washington grandpas.

Like the founders, our pioneers treasured liberty. They, too, understood from careful examination of the history of fallen nations and civilizations that if liberty is to be maintained governments must have a proper and principal role to play in the affairs of man. This role was wisely outlined as “protection from foreign and internal enemies.” It did not include the popular political mode of our day—often termed the redistribution of wealth.

Interestingly, on the same day that the editorial was printed, a column on socialism by Mr. Walter E. Williams appeared in the Desert News. He stated, “The essence of socialism is the attenuation and ultimate abolition of private property rights.

Attacks on private property include, but are not limited to, confiscating the rightful property of one person and giving it to another to whom it doesn’t belong. When this is done privately, we call it theft. When it’s done collectively, we use euphemisms:

income transfers or redistribution.”

Perhaps Emerson said it best: “In times of crisis man will turn either to God or government.”

Jane Anderson Braithwaite, Manti

Hm. Interesting groundswell from a 'one-man' show.

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