Archive for the ‘Civics’ Category

Vineyard RDA Nightmare

DO YOU LIVE IN UTAH COUNTY? BE AT THE VINEYARD TOWN HALL AT 7 PM WEDNESDAY NIGHT UNLESS YOU WANT A 35 YEAR PROPERTY TAX INCREASE TO ENRICH SOME DEVELOPERS. (Vineyard meeting moved tonight due to expected size. Go to Vineyard Elementary School ; 620 East Holdaway Road (400 South) at 7 PM)

Last week at work, a co-worker handed me a few interesting news articles. There’s been some odd happenings with the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) in the past which triggered requests for an audit last year. A number things don’t make sense to me right now but some people are looking into this in the hopes of making sense of it.

Over a month ago there was a vote to approve a redevelopment agency in Vineyard. There were 2 parts: one to clean up Geneva’s site, and another for massive tax breaks for the developers over 35-40 years which would prevent (depending on who you talk to) perhaps $200 million from flowing into Alpine School District to cover costs of dealing with many students moving into Vineyard. As I previously blogged, I agree that the cleanup is probably appropriate, but tax breaks for developers after that is absolutely wrong. Let the market decide how that land gets developed.

Utah county commissioner Larry Ellertson was one of the members of this committee who voted in favor of giving huge tax breaks to the developers of the Vineyard RDA. I mention him in particular since he’s mentioned below in the news articles I’ve posted snips from below.

Vineyard is to receive a TRAX or FrontRunner station through UTA as part of this deal. Why UTA and these RDA’s are popping up together is something that I haven’t put the dots together on but I think it’s something we should all be interested in.

If any of you don’t really know what a “redevelopment” project is, Thomas Sowell recently wrote an article which the Deseret News carried explaining the problem with redevelopments which was really enlightening for me. I highly recommend you read this article and then look at the pictures below from the Sandy TRAX station redevelopment agency which is now just an eyesore. Based on Sandy’s TRAX project, and the fact below that some of the Geneva/Vineyard principals have defaulted on a loan in Vineyard and are trying to escape the personal guarantee’s of $36 million, and then in the next article saying if the project is approved they’ll put $600 million into the project, it all seems a bit fishy to me and not at all worth the risk. (not to mention the tax breaks)

Sandy TRAX RDA pics

Sandy TRAX RDA 1

Sandy TRAX RDA 2

Sandy TRAX RDA 3

Sandy TRAX RDA 4


Here are the articles:

April 29, 2010

UTA facing big cuts. Already made $11 million in budget cuts. However…

“UTA board chairman Larry Ellertson tells the Salt Lake Tribune the new CEO position being created for general manager John Inglish — for which he will be paid close to $300,000 a year — is in fact his severance after 32 years with the agency.”

That’s interesting…someone gets longevity severance??? How much does the Governor make? We can’t find a “public servant” for less than this?


May 19, 2010 (VIDEO NEWS CLIP)

This is interesting. Bruce Jones, UTA’s lawyer, is a member of the Cottonwood Heights city council. Jones lobbied on behalf of Terry Diehl for a TRAX stop next to a development owned by Diehl. Diehl is on the UTA board and determines Jone’s pay. Jones received an $80,000 raise in one year though I can’t tell from the article if it was before or after Jones’ lobbying efforts.


Jan 20, 2011

Anderson Geneva Development purchased the Geneva land in 2005 after Geneva closed in 2001. Anderson has spent $20 million to clean it up and another $4 million on improvements. A $300 million plan was approved for this site and is planned to have a UTA FrontRunner and TRAX transit hub located there.


Feb. 22, 2011

Anderson Development is walking away from a $36.4 million loan from America First Credit Union. AFCU isn’t happy about it and is suing Gerald Anderson and Michael Hutchings who personally guaranteed the loan. Anderson has a $10 million commitment to Vineyard to build an overpass, fire station and water tank.


Mar. 17, 2011 (VIDEO NEWS CLIP)

Hutchings says his company will pledge $600 million on the project if the URA deal goes through to raise taxes on Utah county residents.

My question is, if they’re walking away from a $36 million commitment, how do we have any proof they will follow through on a $600 million pledge? Just to be sure no one ties this into the Sandy TRAX RDA above, I have no idea if these people were involved on that project.


Mar. 17, 2011

“The Alpine School District and Utah Taxpayers Association don’t want to see public money used to fund part of the $900 million-plus makeover planned for the former Geneva Steel property.

And they may take legal action to keep it from happening.

…If the project is approved next week by the town RDA, homeowners living within the Alpine School District boundaries would see a property tax increase of between $14 and $17 per year — based on the average home price of $230,000 — for 35 years.

School district officials also are worried about the 400-plus acres of residential construction in Anderson Development’s plans. Property taxes on the homes, Bromley says, would not pay for the full cost of educating the number of students such growth would bring.”

I would support ASD doing this.


***AMEN*** Mar. 19, 2011 (Editorial)

“[Vineyard] City leaders ought to reject this, at least at the amount proposed, for a variety of reasons. While it may be legitimate to use tax money to clean the blighted site of the old steel mill, or to attract businesses that bring new people to the state, the free market, not tax subsidies, ought to determine most of what goes on that site.

Instead, the proposal would leave the Alpine School District shortchanged. That is because part of the subsidy would come from money that normally goes to schools. It would be tied up for 35 years while new housing adds to the burden of students who need to be taught.

…If Utah County has a demand for housing, shopping or businesses, the market should decide where they go, and they should contribute taxes to the programs and agencies that serve them. For Vineyard to give any more than what it would take to clean the Geneva Steel site would be wrong.”


In summary, there are a lot of odd things happening here and although I don’t have the connections crystal clear, it’s troubling enough that some investigations ought to happen and at a minimum, the previous vote needs overturned Wednesday night.



“Papers please” in Provo

Someone forwarded me this letter from Sterling Beck on Provo’s council. If you live in Provo you’d better get your voice heard quick before this meeting on March 1st. Read below and email Sterling with your thoughts. Be sure to let others in the Provo area know about this too.

Dear Neighbors,
During next Tuesday’s Council Meetings there will be a vote to consider implementing a ‘Daytime Curfew Ordinance’. (At 7pm in the council chambers at 351 West Center St. Provo)
I have already heard from parents of children that attend various public schools, as well as charter schools and home school.  They have all expressed concern about an ordinance which will cause children to be detained any time they are outside school during the day regardless of the reason.
This proposed ordinance will require our already overworked police department to stop, search, and detain any child that appears to be under the age of 18 that is outside during normal school hours.  For example, under this ordinance a home schooled child riding his bike to his grandmother’s house could be arrested, searched, and fined simply for being outside (its happened in other cities).
This ordinance has been widely criticized, the local paper has taken a stand against it, the tribune has questioned its constitutionality, and several council members and school board members have expressed concern over an ordinance that will essentially force every one in Provo that happens to look under 18 to carry an ID at all times or face possible arrest. This type of an ordinance has directly targeted and harmed homeschooling and charter school programs in other cities.
While the actual ordinance language has not yet been made public, past discussion indicates that home schoolers will be required to request a pass from the school district in order to be permitted to go outside without being arrested or fined.
I am writing this because unfortunately, there is still a strong push to pass this ordinance.  Consideration of this ordinance has spanned the course of nearly a dozen meetings making it impossible for the public to adequately follow what has been happening. We need more residents to make their opinions known to the municipal council!
Please take the time to forward this via email to other concerned residents, to contact me at with your thoughts on this ordinance, as well as contact all of the municipal council members by clicking this link.
Please also consider attending the council meeting on Tuesday March 1st to speak against it.

Sterling Beck
Provo City Council District 5
801-472-3160 :

Dear Mr. Beck,

I was a homeschool kid in California and I was often stopped by police and harassed and interrogated for being out and about during school hours. We would ride our bikes from one side of town to the other to attend orchestra at the junior high. My parents made us school id cards and still this was not enough. We were told it looked homemade and not official enough. We then had to get a state issued id and a letter from the school district, both of which we had to keep on us at all times. To this day I still have an anxiety attack every time a cop pulls up behind me. Every time we were stopped it made me feel like I was a bad kid and heaven forbid is someone I knew saw me being questioned by a cop. There is already a system put in place to deal with truant kids. Lets enforce the system we have. I don’t think any kid, especially if they are not breaking the law, should be subject to or treated as a second class citizen. I know there are many kids who, like me, graduate early at 16 or 17 years and go on to attend college. This is a college town what about those kids. This is a bad idea! We have truant officers assigned to every school, we pay them, so let’s use them. Yes, there needs to be consequences for delinquent children but lets not make a sweeping assumption that all children who are not in school during school hours are delinquents. I want my kids to trust and respect the police and I don’t see this proposed ordinance as helping me to do that. Why does the city feel they need this ordinace? Are we really having a problem with delinquent kids running a muck all over Provo? I live downtown, and I’ve not see anything like that in my neighborhood. So if this is happening, where is it happening? I’m strongly opposed to this ordinance and I want my voice to be heard. Unfortunately, Tuesday night is the one night a week that I work, so, I will not be able to attend the council meeting. Thank you for informing me of this situation and for giving me the opprotunity to make my voice heard.


KUDOS to ASD’s Board

To the Alpine School District Board,

I know we periodically find ourselves at odds but I am very pleased to find us on the same side in the issue of the Vineyard Urban Redevelopment Agency. I understand that in the recent vote, your position was outvoted by others who would financially benefit by the arrangement. I also understand that taxpayers within the school district will be on the hook for a couple hundred million dollars over the next 35 years. This is the classic case of democratic majority rule where 2 wolves and a sheep vote on what to have for dinner. The rest of the committee appears to benefit by saddling the rest of the district taxpayers with their development. I was quite surprised to hear that the representative from the state office of education didn’t vote with the school district. That seems quite odd and opens up questions into how they arrived at their position.

Short of a successful legal challenge, there may not be a lot that can be done to prevent this injustice. However, I would like to suggest something for your consideration.

Vineyard voted to pass their hundreds of millions of dollars of development costs and developer tax breaks on to the school district taxpayers’ while we continue to pay for their children to be educated. It seems appropriate to return the favor and publicly announce that at your next board meeting you will be discussing the possibility of splitting Vineyard off as a separate school district. This doesn’t have to be a serious consideration, just a warning shot across the bow that help Vineyard realize they’re affecting the lives of many citizens outside their town. Taxation without proportional representation has a downside when others choose to dissociate themselves from them.

The County may have *some* limited responsibility to clean up the site but giving massive tax breaks to the developer after that is entirely inappropriate.

Taxpayers aren’t going to be excited about cleaning up Vineyard, giving massive tax breaks to a developer, and paying for a brand new bond in ASD.  Thank you for standing for fiscal responsibility and not taking important future revenue from the ASD.


Oak Norton, Utah’s Republic

Special thanks to Wendy Hart’s excellent writeup on her blog. Please read it here:

George Soros on American Sovereignty

If you missed Glenn Beck’s shows this week on “The Puppet Master” George Soros, you really missed out seeing the man behind hundreds of left wing organizations working together toward a one world government. However, this clip should sum things up for you. Our great flaw? Only Americans have a vote in congress.

It was also lovely to see Soros’ new touchy-feeley ad where he proclaims how he loves democracy and how he helped topple communism in Eastern Europe. This from the man working toward global communism.

Click this George Soros link if you want the research Beck produced exposing Soros’ god-complex and the rest of his “philanthropy.” If you want to catch up on the shows you missed, I’d guess most of it is on YouTube if you search for “Glenn Beck Puppet Master.”

Election Results 2010

2 of our 4 endorsed candidates for Alpine School District won. Wendy Hart beat Chrissy Hannemann and Paula Hill beat Donna Barnes. Congratulations to both of them.

In the other two races, Tim Osborn lost to ASD sponsored John Burton in the American Fork race. This was a case of the district wanting Tim off the board since he’s the lone voice of the parents and Burton is a former district administrator. Tim has done an awesome job on the board advocating for better math and parent’s rights and he will certainly be missed.

In another unfortunate loss marred by scare tactics, JoDee Sundberg supporters put out a flier calling JoDee the “conservative” candidate and announcing that Scott would essentially defund public schools. Scott handled all the charges leveled at him very well, but unfortunately the public bought into the lies and re-elected JoDee, the establishment choice.

JoDee Sundberg Campaign Sign

JoDee Sundberg Campaign Sign

Sunlight Foundation

This is a cool organization. They are all about transparency in government and they have a couple of cool apps for handheld devices. I have a Motorola Droid and love it and my favorite app is “Congress” by this Foundation. Congress lets me “favorite” senators and representatives and keep tabs on everything they sponsor, vote on, what they tweet, when they’re on YouTube, etc… I can also get ill reading a general listing of all the insane bills being put before congress and how they turn out. It’s cool to also see the full history of a bill, when it was introduced and how it moved through the system.

There is also an iPhone app called “RealTimeCongress” which sounds somewhat similar but doesn’t indicate it’s the same so perhaps one of you with an iPhone can leave a comment if it seems to function like the Congress app for Android.

Here’s a link to the company page full of projects they’re engaged in:

I also emailed the company to ask if they were doing a similar app for states and they said they are but it’s not going to be ready any time soon. If you’re a programmer, it looks like you may be able to join some of their projects and help out.

Socialism is NOT the United Order

This is mostly for those of you that are LDS, but of course, if you’re not, you’re still welcome to read it. :) The talk by Marion G. Romney I reference below, is one of the greatest sermons ever given exposing the evils of socialism and how it destroys the agency and freedom of man. It contains an excellent lesson in the background of socialism and the extreme importance of the U.S. Constitution. I believe all people would be benefited by reading it regardless of religious preference.

A couple weeks ago when my op-ed reply to Brian Jackson appeared in the Deseret News, someone posting under the name “LDS Liberal” responded to someone with this statement advocating socialism:

Do you live in a Family?
City of Enoch was what?
1st Century Christians practiced what?
Nephites/Lamanites had what in common?
The problem I see is that Religion actually teaches Socialism.
Do unto others….
Give to the poor and the needy.
etc., etc., etc.
Too bad we can’t recognize Religion and the Bible as History — you’d really blow a gasket.”

I tried to post a comment but it never got to the board. What I posted was essentially this.

First of all, these 3 scriptural societies did not practice socialism, they practiced what was called the United Order and it was fundamentally different from socialism. How important is this distinction? So important, that at the 1966 April General Conference of the LDS church, Elder Marion G. Romney of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles started his talk on this subject by saying this:

“What I am going to give you now is a statement I have prepared in answer to the question, “Is Socialism the United Order?” Some of you may have already heard it. This is the first time I have ever attempted to give a talk a second time. My excuse is that the Brethren have asked me to give this talk here tonight.”

Elder Romney’s talk is much longer than a normal conference talk which also shows the high value the leadership of the church placed on ensuring these doctrines were taught. I am going to post a pdf of his talk here with my own highlighting for those that want to just skim it, but I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing. One relevant quote I found in the talk is:

“We have much to do, and fortunately for us the Lord has definitely prescribed the course we should follow with respect to socialism and the United Order.

Constitution God-inspired

He has told us that in preparation for the restoration of the gospel, he himself established the Constitution of the United States, and he has plainly told us why he established it. I hope I can get this point over to you. He said he established the Constitution to preserve to men their free agency, because the whole gospel of Jesus Christ presupposes man’s untrammeled exercise of free agency.”

…[quotes scriptures]…

“These scriptures declare the Constitution to be a divine document.”

There you go folks, the official position of the LDS church is that the U.S. Constitution is a divine document.

Oh, and as for the comment from “LDS Liberal” about families practicing socialism, that would mean nobody in the family has any private property. Try to tell your teenager that his iPod really belongs to everyone. :)

“Socialism is not the United Order” by Marion G Romney (click to open PDF, right-click to save PDF to your desktop)

Congratulations to Primary Winners

I would like to congratulate the candidates that made it through the primary election and thank all those who felt strongly enough about the issues to run. Putting your name into “the hat” and making the commitment to run is a big endeavor and nobody can take that effort and experience away from you. Thank you all for making the effort.

Election results can be viewed at this link for Utah:

For Utah county and ASD, you can view them here:

For those that have returned to gloat that the incumbents I was not in favor of all made it through, have at it.  The area below is just for you. :)

Fantastic Piece on our Veterans

I got this email last night from a friend and watched the 16 minute video.  My friend was right about it being a momentous piece. The video is about helping veterans and others and Salt Lake City gets a prominent mention for the LDS church’s Welfare Square that helps so many people. In the latter half, a disfigured veteran is interviewed and after that I think the interviewer does a great job summarizing his experience. Please watch it at lunch or with your family tonight.


Dear Friends,

You may want to gather your family and loved ones around and watch this 16 minutes together. It could very well change the life of everyone in your sphere of influence.


PS  Don’t miss the final one minute.

John Wayne on Republics and Rights

Someone sent me this great clip of John Wayne. Makes me want to watch some of his movies. What a great American.