It seems like the Mountain Accord is just so huge, with so many angles, that it just doesn’t let people get out of their own way. Yep, another case of potential conflicts of interest has appeared surrounding Mountain Accord.
A reader sent in an article from KUTV (Channel 2) about a 2013 Snowbird sponsored trip where three mayors and two Utah County Council Members were flown on a private jet to Switzerland. KUTV asks the question we all want to know:
Who paid for Utah elected officials involved with Mountain Accord to go on private jet?
Essentially the trip appears to have been a fact finding mission on the Mountain Accord. Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said, “We looked to make major decisions, generational decisions on the future of the Wasatch.” So, they didn’t really do much on that trip? Next question… So, who’s jet did the fly on? Ian Cumming’s jet… who would later take a significant portion in Snowbird.
So, let’s summarize. Critical people within the Mountain Accord process, which will decide the future of the Wasatch, took a private jet from Salt Lake to Geneva to, I guess, learn more about Switzerland’s mountains. Each participant says that either their local government, political donations, or they themselves paid for the trip. Of course, my favorite quote from the article is: “‘Who paid? I’m not sure who actually participated,’ said Utah County commissioner Larry Ellertson, who participated in the trip.”
This whole Mountain Accord process frankly stinks.
Imagine that you worked in Accounting at Park City Municipal and you were trying to decide on a new computer system for the city. One of the potential software vendors offers to fly you out via their private G4 (jet) to San Diego to visit their headquarters for a week . Is there any conflict of interest? People involved with Mountain Accord would likely say “No. What are you even talking about?”
The final question I’ll ask is, do you know what it costs to fly a private jet? I didn’t, so I looked it up. That’s about $9,000 per hour, if you were to rent it. So, we’ll call that fair value. The flight to Geneva is about 11 hours… or 22 hours round trip. That’s basically $200,000 of value, divided amongst those riding. I’m sure that those costs were reimbursed from each of the mayors and council persons. Otherwise, it would look like local government officials were working hand in hand with, and receiving benefits from, the future owner of Snowbird… in order to determine the future of the Wasatch. That would never happen, would it?
I know Park City and Summit County think they are doing the right thing by maintaining a seat at the Mountain Accord table. The more I learn, the more I wonder if certain city and county officials are going to end up on the wrong side of history.
h/t to the individual who sent this article in