Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Presidential politics, theater debate heat up dog days

Published: Sunday, Aug. 21 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

Pignanelli: The proposed Broadway-style theater is more than just a really big building — it is an event center that will impact Utah's arts and culture (positively and negatively). This bipartisan questioning of the project reflects the new era of austerity in our society and begs the question, "Is this something we need, or just want?"

If the county continues to refuse support, the momentum behind the theater is likely to drive the issue to the Legislature and possibly to a ballot action that would allow county voters to express their opinion. Indeed, this issue may be a precursor of political controversies in the future.

Recent newspaper polls indicate that Utahns are downright grumpy about the ability of government to correct the economy. How will this impact local politics?

Webb: Utahns are thoroughly disgusted with politics in general, but individual politicians are adept at deflecting the anger toward the other party or some amorphous political force out there. We're really mad at Congress, but we're much more forgiving toward our own members of Congress. Politicians are skilled at telling voters what they want to hear, even if they're doing little to contribute to real solutions. Things won't improve much in Congress until we hold each member personally accountable for the country's woes.

Pignanelli: The actions and statements by political activists in recent party functions reflect this sentiment. Thus, savvy incumbents will not highlight their experience but paint themselves as "outsiders" to the system.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: frankp@xmission.com.

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