Streetcar apathy

This is an archived article that was published on in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In "The public and SLC projects" (Opinion, May 14), Salt Lake City Councilman Charlie Luke says the city government's failure to engage the public caused the outcry about the streetcar proposal. That is incorrect.

For almost two years, Salt Lake City and its consultants diligently sought public comment on the streetcar route. But, paraphrasing Yogi Berra, if the people don't want to participate, nobody's gonna stop 'em. Limited participation was not government's fault; it was the public's choice.

Standing as champion for protesters at city hall may be politically canny, but it will only encourage citizens to continue to opt out of participation, to skip the boring meetings and tedious evaluation, and only to exert their influence by protesting the outcome.

The council members who voted to adopt the recommendation of the public process in the face of a mob of protesters showed courage and maturity, much like parents declining to defend a child who slept through class, skipped the exam, and then screamed "Unfair!"

Salt Lake City should simply continue to muddle through public decisions by using a thoughtful public process as step one and a city hall sideshow as step two. Although messy, it has proven effective.

George A. Sumner

Salt Lake City