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Friday, February 26, 2010

Guest Post From Frank C - HB 218 questions - UPDATED - an overview of the latest happenings on the hill

With HB 218 stalled in the Senate Government Operations & Political Subdivions Committee, we received this from Frank C.

He brings up some excellent points and asks some difficult questions:
I listened to the recording of the Senate Committee meeting this morning on Gage Froerer's HB218. One particular thing jumped out at me. Lobbyist/lawyer Curtis, I think it was, stated toward the end of the meeting that those who are negotiating have created four drafts, or are working on the fourth draft of the agreement, or words to that effect. I have participated in enough negotiations in my career to know that parties do not get as far as working on the fourth draft of an agreement until and unless there exists the guts of an agreement in principle. There may be some number of minor terms to be worked out, or some differences of opinion about language or other minutiae, but by the fourth draft, the parties have clearly reached agreement and it only remains for the lawyers to huff and puff and wordsmith to create or maintain an advantage over the adversary in the course of memorializing the agreement to which the parties have already agreed.

So who's kidding whom, here? Or put another way, who's hiding what from those of us who, while we may not be parties to the litigation, have been intimately involved and will be directly affected by the settlement as residents of and property owners in this Valley? Are we wasting our time and emotions supporting a piece of legislation that will be rendered moot by an agreement that has already been reached, without our knowledge and participation? Have we wasted our time and our money supporting a cause when those whom we support have bargained away that cause for the sake of cutting their losses, or getting the matter behind them? Are we in the process of sacrificing principle and creating dangerous precedent without even knowing that we are doing so, because our elected and non-elected representatives are tired of dealing with it, or are getting cold feet, or whatever their motivation might be, to the point at which they are making deals they want no one else to know?

Once again, I have been involved in enough negotiations to know that they typically are conducted in private, lest those who have no real stake in the outcome have the chance to intermeddle just because they can, whether they know the real issues or not. In this case, an end to this controversy will directly affect all of us who live here, no matter how it ends. I would like for that end to be the product not of secret, back room deals struck perhaps as a result of less-than-universal interests, but rather the product either of the judicial system, or the legislative system, or that of an informed and affected public given adequate time to study any proposed agreement
and an opportunity to meaningfully provide input concerning it.

This is no social studies exercise; this is real. So, those of you in the know: how about it? What's really going on?
We remain concerned about the back room negotiations, but will keep a watchful eye out in the coming days. Now is not the time to be blindsided!


Transparency said...

Well said Frank. Who has ever heard of transparency in government? Anyone in Utah??

deja said...

i can see frank's point of view and lucid concerns.
from my point of view the very best outcome is bringing the powder mountain developers back to the proper process, which should have happened in the first place--going through the county, having public input and inspection, meeting the requirements of feasibility, etc.
the town incorporation was a loophole to avoid all that.
if the incorporation is dropped and they come back to the public process, we will all be able to scrutinize the zoning and plan.
this "negotiation" is a baby step in the right direction. powder mountain developers need to see that the best way forward is working WITH the community and not trying to go around them.

Zipper said...

One can hope that any deal with Powder Mountain will not endanger the density numbers for Ogden Valley. There are also considerations regarding traffic, road safety, pollution, wild life and water usage.

We think the Weber County commissioners should go back to the 19 conditions set forth by the Ogden Valley Planning Commission and work from there with Powder Mountain.

If the deal here is to just stop the incorporation, then both sides have lost sight of the primary reasons the Powder Mountain rezone petition
was opposed by most Ogden Valley residents.

frankc said...

Having started all this by asking some possibly impertinent questions, let me ask another:

Why would the developers (hereinafter "the perps") even consider dropping the incorporation at this point unless they have been or will shortly be promised VERY significant concessions by the county, most probably in the form of significantly increased density and abandonment of conditions on the grant of that density?

From the perps' point of view, they stand a very good chance of beating Froerer's instant disincorporation bill, and also stand a pretty good chance of prevailing before the Utah Supremes. Even if Froerer's bill passes, there are other problems with instant disincorporation. Accordingly, there is virtually no reason, unless they lose on all these fronts, to drop the incorporation without more. To again place themselves at the mercy of the Ogden Valley Planning Commission without an advance deal that they will get what they want would be suicide. The OVPC has already spoken, and the perps didn't like what they said the first time, so why would the perps do it again, even if just for the three new properties now constituting part of the development? They wouldn't. Notwithstanding the commissioners' proven inclination to ignore the OVPC, they would have a hard time doing so after all this water has gone under the bridge.

My money is on the existence of a really stinky deal that has already been reached, and that the county and the captives (or those of the captives who know about it )don't want to acknowledge for fear of being pilloried by the rest of us for selling out Ogden Valley. Any takers?

It will be interesting to see how the agreement will be presented when it can't be kept under wraps any more.

frankc said...

Jim Halay just answered my question by discovering SB 269, from that cretin legislator of negotiable loyalties, J. Stuart Adams of Layton. SB 269 proposes that lawsuits may be settled by county officials by means of a development agreement without consultation with or approval by planning commissions.

There you have it. The Legos are in place as soon as Pronaia and ULCT grease the skids, and the Weber County Commissioners can give the perps whatever they want without regard to the hard work and good sense of the Ogden Valley Planning Commission.

Thanks, Stuart; you serve your pimps well.

RudiZink said...

Frank, I emailed Gage earlier this morning about SB 269; and here's his response:

"I understand it is dead. We told him we would kill it in the House. He won't run it."

He also added this in a followup email:

We do pay attention down there, believe or not.

Numbers said...

Well "pay attention to this":

1. Fact: nonelected Governor Herbert, past President of the Utah Ass. of Realtors (UAR).

2. Fact: non elected Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, Realtor Developer, UAR member. Appointed by 1.

3. Fact: non elected J. Stuart Adams, politically active Realtor and Developer. Appointed by 1. & 2.

#3. with no doubt advice and consent of #'s 1. & 2. introduces a bill to off set # 4's (Gage Froerer, past President of the Utah Ass. of Realtors and active politically Realtor & Developer) HB 218 (the quick disincorporation bill). #3.'s Bill would authorize only two people (two of the three County Commissioners or Councils, without any other checks or balances, to make development and real estate deals with developers. Only two (2) people! Think about it...

So #'s 1,2,3, and 4. are all Realtor's who are "politically active". And very likely working together to finesse around the HB 466 (the developer's dream bill) which was slipped beneath the radar of "asleep at the switch legislators" in the last hour of the 2007 session or maybe it was the 2008 session.

The whole enchilada stinks to high heavens of collusion, conspiracy, and racketeering. And now the Powdervillians or "Perks" are "negotiating with the Commissioners" and awaiting the outcome of the new counterbalancing Senate Bill sponsored by the Utah Ass. of Realtors...the same ones who ran Froerer's campaign. And so many others it makes an honest person want to puke through their nose, no longer physically able to hold it.

Hello! Anyone for major Ethics Reforms? Independent and transparent Ethics Commissions?

It is your State. And it is in a very bad state of affairs.