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UTOPIA – Utah’s latest government "investment" scheme…

Lately, here in Utah, there has been a lot of discussion around a new telecom scheme in which fiber optic lines will be run from one of the “I-15 corridor” (where all the population is) to the other. This, of course, will cost millions of dollars.

The company that wants to do this is not a major telecom like AT&T or Comcast. Nope. It’s a little startup. Their problem? They can’t get a good interest rate with a standard loan and they can’t find venture capitalists who’re willing to caugh up the money without taking over the business. So what have they done? They’ve approached Utah’s city governments asking them to pony up the cash for the future payoffs…

Anyway, there’s an excellent article about it in todays Salt Lake Tribune: showing the possible corruption that goes along with this scheme… You can read that article here: http://www.sltrib.com/2004/Apr/04072004/opinion/154754.asp

In response to articles appearing in both the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune, I sent letters to the editor in yesterday. They read:

To the Deseret News:

Dear Editor,

In your paper today (4/6/04), one of your lead opinion stories is about UTOPIA-the fiber-optic network proposed to be funded by Utah cities.

I am appalled that such an idea is even being considered. Not only is it being considered, but some cities have already backed the plan with astounding amounts of money.

The questions raised by this are many and are fundamental to our way of thinking as Utahns and Americans…Why is government involved in this, a private enterprise-amounting to nothing more than becoming venture capitalists for a telecom scheme? Why are tax dollars being used to give advantages to some businesses (those who “win contracts”) in the private sector? Finally, the biggest question of all: why are tax dollars (especially in the form of bonds, which carry a heavy interest burden over time) being put up for grabs for what is essentially a private enterprise??

I find it extremely disgusting that, during a time of fiscal shakiness all over the state, some cities are willing to take the bond credit card out of their wallet and recklessly “charge it” for a scheme like this.

Let this private enterprise do as all entrepreneurial ventures do and find funding from private interests, not our limited tax dollars!


Aaron Turpen

…and to the Salt Lake Tribune:

Dear Editor,

In today’s edition, “Rocky not sold on UTOPIA,” I found myself to be in agreement with Mayor Anderson: a rare occurrence.

The Mayor isn’t so sure about the telecom scheme UTOPIA and doesn’t think Salt Lake City should be putting up money (in the form of bonds) to fund it.

I completely agree with Mr. Anderson, though it may be for differing reasons. While it is true that Salt Lake City already has most of the services promised by UTOPIA, that is not my reasoning for disagreeing with the proponents of the idea.

I oppose it for the fundamental reason that hard-earned tax dollars should never be spent to finance private enterprise…for any reason. What UTOPIA amounts to, in so many words, is corporate welfare on the local level. We hate it when we see Washington do it, why don’t we hate it when we see Utah’s cities doing the same?

Let private enterprise do as all entrepreneurial ventures do and find funding from private interests, NOT our limited tax dollars!


Aaron Turpen

I’ll let you know if either is published.


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