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Some state bureaucrats and apparently the governor are wringing their hands over the possibility that if Utah takes ownership of public lands within its borders, it may cost some money.

Forget the cost. Is Utah going to grow up to be a state or is it not? How can a state be worthy of the name if it hasn't the gumption to accept responsibility to govern within its own borders?As long as the federal government owns and legislates on 67 percent of the land base of the "state of Utah," there is no "state of Utah." There are only islands of private land immersed within a sea of conquered federal territory.

Leaders in the "state of Utah" are being offered an opportunity with Congressman Jim Hansen's legislation. Its passage would make Utah truly a state and not a federal territory governed, as before the charade of "statehood," by Washington.

Any state "leader" who does not rise to support Hansen in his effort to make Utah a true state does not deserve his or her position or the term "leader." This charge begins with Gov. Mike Leavitt, who is noticeably "absent without leadership" on the issue.

Certainly Leavitt will lose stature among his gubernatorial peers when he campaigns for his "conference of states" while at the same time acquiescing to federal hegemony over the majority of his so-called state. Utah is in need of true leadership at a critical time in the history of federal-state relations.

Paul L. Young

St. George