23 December 2008

Never go to war against someone that buys ink by the barrel.....

Getting into an arguement with a newspaper is not something that I recomend as a rule. And while the Tooele Transcript Bulletin was good enough to print my opposing opinion (although I can't seem to find it in the online addition) I've been asked by several local business owners to publish what I actually wrote in it's entirety. The original editorial is available online. Sorry for the length of this post!

Dear Editor,

We don’t make it a rule to write regarding the editorial content of the Transcript, but in the instance of the editorial regarding the County’s “transformation”, we would like to offer a couple of observations to hopefully give your readers a bit better perspective. We are people involved in this issue on a day to day basis, while most of the statistics you quoted were generated nearly a decade ago.  I won’t dwell on the positives that you started with, but rather with some of your negative “conclusions”, most of them having to do with the housing and employment issues.  

You are correct in what you say regarding the age of our population.  However, to intimate that we are somehow alone in this is to assume that Utah as a State is significantly different, when in fact it’s not.  While much of it can be attributed to the family related culture of the State, for the first half of the decade, Tooele enjoyed an affordability advantage over most of the State.  Notice I said “affordable” not “cheap”. That advantage has virtually disappeared in the last couple of years, not just because of the demand of people wanting to move to our beautiful area, but also because of the attitude of our cities and towns regarding growth.  They have seemed to think that commercial is the key to residential growth, when in fact companies look for residential rooftops before they locate in an area.  Ask Costco, Lowes, Kohls, etc. Your own paper reported earlier in the year that companies such as these would not come here until we had thousands of new residents, and yet you also seem to think that “if we build it, they will come”.  The companies with the high paying jobs we want are no different, they need a workforce.  For that we actually need MORE affordable housing, not less!  

However, I’ve read that we have plenty of affordable housing.  In fact, I was told by a member of the Tooele City planning commission a couple of years ago, that Tooele didn’t want to be known as a place with affordable housing.  I don’t know about you, but I’d like for my kids to be able to live here when they grow up.  I have looked high and low for the “cheap” homes you seem to think are prevalent in the County and I can’t find them!  As of the last quarter, the average sales price for a home in Tooele County is over $200,000.  While that may appear cheap to the editorial staff, let me break it down further.  That price means that to purchase the average home in Tooele County the single wage earner you are bragging about needs to earn between $25-28 dollars an hour to make the payment, and that’s if he has NO other debt, like a car payment!  Not too many of those jobs are out here.  So I guess my kids will commute. You know, 27.6 minutes, worst in the State.  In 2008, I challenge you to leave West Jordan, Sandy, Draper, or Bluffdale, not to mention anywhere in Utah County, at the same time as I leave Tooele and I will meet you downtown.  I’ll have time for breakfast before you get there.  I wish I didn’t have to comment on your opinion that we are dunces or that “cheap” housing leads to “social ills”. The world has changed in the last decade. A degree is not the measure of success or employability it once was. Many of the best paying jobs out there these days require an education that USU can’t provide as simply or affordably as the new Applied Technical College can, and will.  There is more to life these days than a University degree.  Also, I’d bet that the same studies you are quoting mention home ownership as a leading cause of neighborhood unity and pride, not just “social ills”. 

It is our hope that in the future, the Transcript Bulletin can once again find some benefit in being a supporter of what Tooele County is and can be, rather than the voice of doom  for what may never come.  We live here and we work here, because of the quality of life and that’s not by accident!



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