I returned well rested from a vacation in Colorado to a small group of angry readers responding to this past Friday's front page article, "Who's building Payson now."
Through e-mail, site feedback and on our Your Roundup forum, readers were liberally using the word "bias" and "Roundup" in the same sentence. One man wrote, "I hope you got paid for that." One reader canceled her subscription.
The article was a feature piece focusing on the personal lives of the three local developers who have dominated our headlines for the better part of a year. Attend any Town Council meeting and you'll note the agenda is full of large and small developments in various stages of the planning process. While most of Payson's growth is still happening only on paper, our community has already been affected by the potential -- not the least of which was the formation of an entire new town in backlash.
As your editor, I have approached my time at the Roundup with one philosophy: "Humanize, don't demonize." I believe that by understanding the personalities, we can better understand their decisions and motivations. I arrived in this town during a contentious election and the two chairs in my office were constantly filled with a parade of people offering me contradictory conspiracy theories.
While one visitor explained to me the sinister motivations of the person who had visited me an hour earlier claiming he or she just wanted what was best for the community. As I listened, I couldn't help but think there was some value in stripping people of their politics long enough for them to see each other again.
This belief has spurred me to run a monthly column by members of the Payson Town Council to explain, firsthand, the decisions that were made in the past month. I have encouraged local leaders from county supervisor Tommie Martin to school superintendent Sue Myers to Star Valley town manager Lanny Sloan to "humanize" themselves with columns in the Roundup.
And this was the motivation behind the article, "Who's building Payson now."
I have never lived in a town where there was not a villain developer character among the local lore. Read any John Nichols novel and you'll see that the evil, land-raping developer is a modern, bad guy archetype.
But this is simplistic thinking. Vilify as you like, but there's always more to the story.
I would like to ask that those who read Friday's article and jumped to the conclusion that "the Roundup is in bed with developers," instead re-read the article and glean from it a different perspective. The article was meant to inform, not promote.
Use the information in the article to enlighten your opinions -- whatever they may be.
Archetypes are good for novels, but not for the educated, carefully steered future of our town.
As always, feel free to call me at 474-5251 ext. 115 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.