Editorial: After LMD resignations, Moffat County stands at crossroads
We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.
We were reminded last week of the foregoing quotation from Benjamin Franklin when we learned of the abrupt and, frankly, contentious resignations of four of the seven members of the Moffat County Local Marketing District.
The departure of the four board members — city of Craig appointees Victor Updike and Roger Richmond and Moffat County appointees Dave DeRose and Dave Fleming — is concerning for a few reasons, not the least of which is the contentious circumstances of their sudden exodus.
In their letters of resignation and in subsequent interviews with the Craig Press, the four departing members all suggested that interference from Moffat County Commissioner Frank Moe had convinced them that the mission identified by the LMD upon its formation a little more than two years ago had become an impossible undertaking.
We feel it important to say from the outset that we have nothing but respect for the departing board members. All are deeply respected members of the community —deservedly so — and we thank them for their commitment to the betterment of our community and their willingness to turn that commitment into action by serving on the board. At the same time, we believe that Commissioner Moe is equally dedicated to the work of making Moffat County a better place to live for all its residents.
And that’s one of the reasons the circumstances leading up to the resignations and the resignations themselves are so disappointing. It is unfortunate, indeed, when good people of good conscience and good intent — people who are essentially working toward the same goal — can find no path to forward.
But the main reason for our disappointment and concern is that the resignations, and the very public fallout from those resignations, can hardly help but have a chilling effect on the prospect of recruiting replacement board appointees and will linger long after the fact as a dark shadow over the vital work the LMD was trying to accomplish.
That point brings us back to the Benjamin Franklin quote with which we opened this editorial. “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
Moffat County stands at a crossroads. The lingering effects of the Great Recession have already forced both city and county government to enact deep budget cuts, and we’ve reached a point at which there’s very little fat left to trim. And while coal and gas remain our economic strength and are likely to continue as such for the next few decades, the handwriting is on the wall. If we don’t begin working now to find ways of diversifying our economy, we stand to pay a terrible price down the road.
That said, we respectfully offer the following advice to city and county leaders. Move forward. Learn from the mistakes that precipitated the decimation of the LMD board and take steps to ensure those mistakes are not repeated once the board has been reconstituted. And the board must be reconstituted. The work must go on. All our livelihoods depend upon it.
The LMD’s mission statement reads as follows: “The MCLMD will support, enhance, encourage and develop programs that lead to economic diversification by increasing business retention, development and recruitment in Moffat County that will in turn increase tourism, including funding for special events.”
These are lofty goals, and we will only reach them if we can find the wisdom and humility to work through our differences in the knowledge that, essentially, we all want the same thing: a viable, thriving, diverse local economy that will provide well-paying jobs and economic strength and security.
Hang together or hang separately.
The choice is ours.