Hurray! The Utah State Legislature passed and the Governor signed HB164! From this point on, no longer will aggressive developers be allowed to corral 100 to 1000 unwilling and innocent citizens to incorporate their own private, corporate towns.
Unfortunately they left a few of us, namely the residents of the Town of Powder Mountain, embroiled in a battle to have a say in whether we want to be part of the town and to be given a vote in the selection of our own representatives. These rights are guaranteed by the constitution: the right to equal protection under the law and the right to elect our own representatives to bodies authorized to levy taxes upon us. According to insiders at the Utah State House and Senate, the House leadership refused to have the full House consider any bill which included a retroactive clause to repair existing damage, saying they felt it was “unfair to the developers” who applied for incorporation under the old laws. Unfair to the developers, who rushed to take advantage of a law the legislature admits was a mistake? Or unfair to the developers, who contribute large sums to their political campaigns and lobbied mightily to keep this law on the books?
So they are afraid of being unfair to the developers, what about us? Last year’s law, according to many politicians, was one of the worst laws they have ever passed. They didn’t read the law, they didn’t debate the law, and no one voted against the law. Because there was no debate, the State Attorney General’s office didn’t review the law. In anyone’s judgment, allowing rich corporations to draft 100 unwilling citizens into a town and then appoint the puppet town council to draft law and tax policy in their favor is immoral, unconstitutional and downright reprehensible.
What are our options now that we have appealed to our legislators and they have refused to help us? We could roll over, accept our plight and live as pawns under our illegitimate town council. Or we can fight. We held a meeting with a majority of citizens from our little “town” and agreed that we will fight for our rights as free citizens of this great country. Our first appeal is to the Weber County Commissioners, who can either approve the incorporation or stand up for their constituents and refuse to sign because the law is so blatantly unconstitutional. We believe they will have the courage to do this, for when they took the oath of office they swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.
If not, we will to take our fight to the State of Utah, who ironically has rushed to correct this law our representatives all thought was so wrong. We will be forced to raise money, hire a lawyer, and sue the state for our constitutional rights. The state will in turn use OUR (i.e., the state taxpayers’) money to defend a law which they have already said was a very bad law indeed. How did it come to this?
James P. Halay, Deja Mitchell, Ryan Bushell, Bill and Kathy Dowell
Currently of Eden, Utah