It is late and I really don’t feel like typing up a post, but this is important as I dislike inaccurate information which can mislead.
I was wrong and partially wrong (government is still raising the price of goods). The Davis and Weber County Commissioners were NOT complicit with the legislature (specifically, Speaker Curt Bramble) in the UTA tax grab.
I had a chance to talk to someone with the Standard Examiner who was present when the legislature voted in the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) tax. While the Standard’s article (which I based my comments and suspicions on) indicated complicity by the commissioners, it should not have and should have made the article clearer on the subject. To their credit, the Standard source I talked to was totally upfront and honest about this. They said, ‘we make mistakes sometimes and do make it a priority to present clear information’. Fair enough. So It is my turn to say the same.
Now for the full story to clear everything up:
Speaker Curtis Bramble got the UTA tax increase passed at the 11th hour of the legislative session. It completely caught the Commissioners off guard. They had zero foreknowledge of the plan.
Why would Bramble care? Here’s why:
The tax money is NOT kept in the county where it is collected. UTA distributes it as they desire – especially into areas they’re developing, expanding, etc. Areas like Utah County. Guess who Bramble represents…
By placing this tax on us, UTA gets their way and Bramble lets us pay for Utah County’s benefit (rather than they pay for it themselves). UTA also gets it’s way in the process. I would guess UTA came up with this and had Bramble carry it out, but I don’t know that for certain.
Frankly, Bramble has made a superb Machiavellian* political move for his ‘principality’ (negligible political cost and reap benefits for him). I don’t like it at all, and this think it was lousy – in many respects, it is as state version of earmarked pork, but it was a shrewd move.
As such, my appologies to the Commissions. While I’m still uncertain, it appears that they were holding the line against UTA’s tax lust and inaccountiblility. The editorial cartoon I posted should have omitted the Commissions.
Going forward, it would be best to focus scrutiny on UTA. I would encourage Weber and Davis Commissioner’s to team up and protest the move. I would also encourage them to expect strict accountability from UTA (especially after the “executive bonus” flap) and, since we’ve had the tax shoved down our throat, press UTA that the money be accounted for and spent in our respective counties.
*Note: Machiavelli gets a bad rap. He just wrote about what has worked historically. When I use “Machiavelli” it isn’t derogatory, usually it indicates political astuteness. However, such tactics can be misused with serious consequences.