April 20, 2010

Is there no end in sight to the constant UTOPIA pitch? By the time this laughable exercise in chasing after good money for bad purposes ends, whatever “high-speed fiber-optic network” of Internet service UTOPIA is supposed to provide will probably be in most homes and businesses already.

Frankly, we think there’s a better shot of the rapture occurring before UTOPIA meets its high-speed goals.

Consider the mess several Top of Utah cities that have committed to UTOPIA are already in. Brigham City, Perry, Tremonton, Layton and Centerville already have very long commitments to the moribund project. Now UTOPIA, having completed very little, wants another $20 million to be shared among the 11 contributing cities.

Even though the cities feel they are in too deep to pull out now, we don’t believe they should continue to throw good money after bad results.

The problem, as we mentioned, is that virtually nothing has been accomplished, yet cities such as Layton and Brigham City are being forced to pay lots of money in tough economic times for a project that has nothing to show for it, and worse, doesn’t appear to have anything to offer for the foreseeable future.

Yet, Layton Mayor Steve Curtis and Brigham City community and economic development director, Paul Larsen remain stubbornly committed to the UTOPIA fairy tale. “The system is not going to be put in for free,” Larsen said.

We agree, but can’t something be accomplished for the scores of millions already spent?

The fact is, the UTOPIA fiasco and its recurring begathon provides a common-sense lesson for municipalities: High-speed Internet service is something that is better done in the private sector instead of the public sector. The bumbling performance of UTOPIA so far underscores every criticism of poor government service, money wasting and bureaucratic inefficiency.

The Top of Utah cities embroiled in the never-ending UTOPIA soap opera would be better served looking for a way out of the hopeless project than pouring more money down the rabbit hole.