The protest surrounding the exit of the Outdoor Recreation trade show expanded this week, as local Democrats took the state’s GOP leaders to task outside the Salt Palace Convention Center. They criticized Utah’s Republican leaders for the huge trade show’s decision to leave Salt Lake City when its contract runs out next year.
“So, my question to the people of Utah is: How much pain to our economy,” began State Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon, “how much pain to our education system, how much pain to our air quality, how much pain to our health care system are we willing to take as a state before we start considering how we vote in the state of Utah?”
Salt Lake County Councilman Jim Bradley blamed Republican opposition to national monuments for driving the trade show away. He says losing the twice-yearly conventions will mean thousands of local jobs and millions of dollars to area businesses.
“If we don’t review those policies and change those policies and change those attitudes,” he said, “many more millions will be lost to us.”
Sam Granato, a food importer, deli operator and Salt Lake County councilman, said Utah Republican leaders should do more to promote Utah’s extraordinary landscapes. He announced at the news conference that he’s quitting the Governor’s Economic Development Advisory Board over “antagonistic” policies on public lands, and addressed that decision in an interview after the news conference.
“I cannot serve with a clear conscience and promote economic development,” he said, “when we’re pretty much asking conventioneers, “Don’t come here ‘cause we’re going to do it our way.”
Meanwhile, a bill introduced in the state legislature on Tuesday would eventually give broad powers to a new state lands manager to oversee Utah’s public lands with guidance from counties.
CORRECTION: In a previous version of this story, Jim Bradley was misidentified. The story has been corrected. We regret the error.