Saturday, February 16, 2008

News Flash! SB 25S3 passed but allows Powderville

Greetings friends and neighbors,

Our Ogden friend, "Rudi", wrote this for the Weber County Forum. It is not specifically related to Property Tax Refrom, however; it is such an important issue to all of us in the Valley, I decided to repeat it here to make certain everyone has a chance to read it

Experiencing Another "Utah Epiphany"
A short essay on political cowardice: So-called "remedial legislation" will still leave aggreived Ogden Valley citizens politically disenfranchised.

“We don’t want to deal with retrospect. There are numerous incorporations already going forward, and to roll back the clock would put us in a litigious situation.”
Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal.Standard-ExaminerFebruary 16, 2008

“Lawsuits are likely regardless of what happens, and the potential fallout from House Bill 466 last year needs to be stopped. Just because we opened the door and the animals got out, that doesn’t mean we can’t gather up the animals and put them back in the barn,”
Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North OgdenStandard-ExaminerFebruary 16, 2008

Hoo-boy, gentle readers. After perusing the Standard-Examiner this morning, we're having one of those startling flashes of clarity that we call a "Utah Epiphany." Here we've been naively working like madmen over the past few weeks, trying to muster support for Senator Stowell's (R-Parowan) SB-25, which we believed to be curative legislation for the evils of last year's HB-466; and now we learn -- in this morning's Jeff Demoss story -- that the current version of this bill, which passed in the senate yesterday by a 26-1 vote, is not designed to operate retroactively. ("It becomes effective when the Governor signs the bill."MM)

Yesiree, folks, those gutless wonders in the senate passed a remedial bill alright; but it won't do anything to help those folks in Ogden Valley who stand to live for at least two years without elected town representation -- under the dictatorship of corporate Powder Mountain developer appointees. Senator Allen Christensen made a valiant effort to add a retroactive provision to the bill, according to today's story, but his cowardly Senate colleagues apparently turned him down flat.

(Senators pro developer and heavily "subsidized" by the Realtor Association and various construction and banking investment, development, and real estate money by the way. MM insert)

Our take on the solution to the current political predicament is of course very simple. It was the Utah State Legislature who caused this problem; and it's the responsibility of that same legislative body, (the entire body, including the senate,) to fix it. The solution seems fairly uncomplicated, we believe, if we can rely on the accuracy of today's story. The House of Representatives can pass one of the two other pending House bills which do contain retroactive provisions (HB-413 or HB-164,) and send one of them on to the Senate. Alternatively, the House could kick back a House-amended SB-25 (with retroactive provisions.) Whatever they do, we hope representatives like Gage Froerer (R-Huntsville) will have the courage to stick to their guns. Otherwise it will be, once again in Utah, the "little people" who are left holding the bag.

As to the threat of developer litigation, by the way, we'll offer that we are not impressed. And to our gentle readers we ask, in the event that litigation will be the inevitable result of the legislature's "doing the right thing," how, exactly will any developer prove damages? Will Utah developers with pending incorporation petitions argue that town incorporation is a vested property right? We believe it's pretty clear that town incorporation is a political "privilege," and not a "right." And even assuming that a pending incorporation petition is a vested and valuable property right entitled to protection in Utah courts, how would a court deal with the problem of the political disenfranchisement of those citizens who have been unwillingly dragged into new municipal entities at the whim of neighboring property owners, because of the unintended operation of an ill-conceived law that everyone (including legislators in the State Senate) seems to believe to have been flawed from the outset?

Senator Christensen is quite right, of course. There will be litigation regardless of the manner in which this situation shakes out in the legislature. And in the event of litigation we'll put our money on the litigants who have ALL the equities on their side, i.e., the 100 or so people of Ogden Valley, whose own property and political rights are being trampled by one greedy developer who readily admits its incorporation petition action is tactical, cynically intended to sidestep Weber County regulatory authority and "...take complete control of their own destiny". [Paragraph 4]If there is to be litigation, bring it on. In the meantime we call on all members of the Utah legislature to check out their own moral compasses. We think it's time to "gather up the animals and put them back in the barn," as Senator Christensen suggests.The State Senate's most recent inaction leaves your blogmeister with a profound sense of disgust this morning. It's difficult to believe that this situation is happening in America. Of course this really isn't America, good readers. It's Utah. We're again experiencing another Utah Epiphany, as we said.

And what say our the cyber-folks about all this?

Well done Rudi. The Machman and most in Ogden Valley salute you. I would be at the rally except for posting this to get the word out sooner.

If SB 25 is not amended to be retroactive, we as Ogden Valley need to consider pitching in with those who will be disenfranchised directly, using our resources to fight this in court. And we need to know exactly how such legislation was passed so blithely 66 to 0 in the first place? Where is the Ethics Commission? If they never meet nor do anything we need to demand an independent Ethics Commission which has the fortitude to actually do something for a change.


Minor Machman

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