Bountiful City Council Ready To Cloak Recycling Cost Rather Than Evaluate And Reform

Bountiful City already cloaks the cost of government via the power fund transfer to the general fund and the Mayor and City Council are poised to extend this practice to cloak the cost of recycling by transferring $120,000 from the landfill fund to the recycling fund. The vote on this is scheduled for 7PM Tuesday, June 25th at 255 South 100 West (Fire Station 81) and public comment will be taken.

It has been long known that recycling was inefficient with much being shifted to landfills. Ultimately, recyclers were middlemen that imposed additional cost for part of the waste stream to end up in a landfill. Many have been fooling themselves and imposing a ‘feelgood surcharge’ on their neighbors while ignoring reality for years. It’s time to come to terms that inviable recycling may emotionally feel good in ignorance but the reality is it is only adding and extra step and cost to trash going to a landfill. That special-interest cost is borne by the poor, young families on tight budgets and the elderly on fixed incomes. With the long anticipated market correction in recycling, this should be used as an opportunity to streamline programs to reflect reality and alleviate an undue burden.

While I’ve recycled for decades, I opposed the inefficient and wasteful curbside recycling mandate. If we’re serious about recycling, it would be better to return to and expand centralized recycling collection points where people can conveniently drop off their recyclables as part of their routine errands. Prior to the current government program, recycling points were located near Smith’s Marketplace (on city property), schools and some store parking lots. The city and recycling companies could join with businesses to cooperatively locate convenient collection points. These would have the several benefits:

  • Efficient recycling streams: better product segregation rather than mixed goods that require significant labor to sort
  • Cleaner, less contaminated recycling streams: partly due to better segregation and people are more careful/knowledgeable who voluntarily recycle
  • Glass collection: prior to the government mandate, glass was collected at the central locations
  • Helping air quality: lower emissions as far fewer trucks and fuel are needed to pick up from a few locations rather than every residential home/street. This is particularly the case as people can drop off their recycling as part of their existing weekly trips (grocery store etc.) thus requiring no additional gas consumption.
  • No or far lower cost to citizens
  • Alleviates the cost imposed on senior citizens who have few recyclables but are forced to pay for full-sized cans
  • Removes heavy hand of governmental force (fees)

Furthermore, some items may well still make sense and actually pay for themselves or provide revenue. Two things to consider are aluminum (and metals) and food waste – I understand the new biodigesters in North Salt Lake have the potential to make money.

The transfer should be rejected and the burdensome, inefficient program replaced with an efficient program that respects Bountiful family and fixed-income budgets. You may want to attend the meeting or reach out to the city council.

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Bountiful City Not Only Hides True Tax Burden And Overcharges You On Power, Now They’re Going To Cloak Recycling Costs

For years I’ve documented Bountiful City politicians’ game of manipulating power rates to avoid truth-in-taxation and then claim taxes are low. Using this scheme, they’ve enjoyed pulling the wool over residents’ eyes on the actual financial burden imposed on residents by city government. This year, they’re again transferring about $2.49 million from power charges to the general fund (see the insert in your city power bill). I’m not going into detail on it this time, click the above link for all posts on the issue to get background and how they use the tactic to cloak the true tax rate (it would roughly double property taxes – about $2.5 million was taken in per FY 2018 Financial Annual Report (pdf).

This year, someone concocted a new way to hide the cost of government and a failing program. If you look in the notice that came in your power bill, they’re planning to transferring $240,485* from the Landfill Fund to the Recycling Fund. Their raiding the functional landfill to subsidize the failing mandatory recycling program instead of raising the recycling fee. Thus, they hide the actual cost of the recycling program by “robbing Peter to pay Paul”. Rather than argue the merits of the program, they’ll just keep forcing it on us.

The recycling market has tanked and many cities are getting rid of the inefficient and costly program (see here too). Not Bountiful politicians. It’s awful hard to give up a pet project payed for by others (particularly an unwanted project they foisted on us).

For what it’s worth, I actually like legitimate recycling and reducing trash (I don’t like waste, Neo reflects my thoughts well ). Recycle your cans (give the funds to charity) and paper/cardboard can be conveniently dropped off at schools (they get money for it) while you run errands. Feel good ineffectual recycling programs imposing a burden on struggling families and folks on fixed incomes isn’t the way to do it.

If you’re interested, Bountiful City Council will hold a public hearing on both transfers on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 7:00PM at the fire station on 255 S 100 W. You can also email city council members if you can’t make it but have a comment.

For all posts related to recycling, click here.

*Update: As of June 22, the figure appears to have been updated to a $120,000 transfer. See: Bountiful City Council Ready To Cloak Recycling Cost Rather Than Evaluate And Reform

Hillbilly Elegy, The Utah Republican Party And The Salt Lake Chamber Of Commerce

I wrote about political insiders effectively consolidating their take over of the Utah GOP. The outgoing party Chair then told conservatives and other grassroots folks they are not welcome and to get out and find another party. The GOP entrenched elites headed by Governor Gary Herbert have some fellow travelers, most prominent of which is the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. These select groups have formed various policy front groups which they control and employ to provide a false veneer of neutral analysis to champion/justify their political goals/policies; a self-licking ice cream cone. The roll up of the GOP will certainly strengthen the local oligarchy they have formed.

They operate under the premise that what is good for business and GDP is good for everyone. They seem to believe in a one-size-fits-all silver bullet that stock values and business profits and growth equate to a healthy society. But that’s a lazy half truth that they (and many conservatives) fall for. To wit, with the power consolidation, we’ll likely see further business costs/risks being pushed onto the backs of of struggling families, onto low and middle income Utahns and onto small businesses — socializing the costs and privatizing profits. This will be done to improve the (big) business environment and to ensure the continued growth of government by broadening the tax base.

Certainly, having jobs is important to society but business success doesn’t always translate into jobs (e.g. automation and outsourcing) nor does it mean jobs are created where they’re needed (such as the rust belt and the vacating of rural Utah and especially where there is a seemingly blind focus on the Wasatch Front for government-assisted economic development measures). Nor can business success serve as a surrogate for the health of the foundational unit of society – the family and it certainly does not ensure a higher quality of life.

At the beginning of this year, Tucker Carlson gave a monologue on this issue which should be considered by everyone. I was going to quote part of his talk to capture his main point but decided against it because it is too important. It really must be considered at in full. Watch the segment or read the transcript here: Mitt Romney supports the status quo. But for everyone else, it’s infuriating.

I also just finished J.D. Vance’s book Hillbilly Elegy. I can’t recommend a better book. Just read it. It is a must for anyone who cares about their neighbors and community (and for those involved in politics/policy) or preparing for a church mission*.

Vance also took note of Carlson’s monologue (The Health Of Nations: Conservatives should heed Tucker Carlson’s advice. We shouldn’t assume that what is good for markets is good for all of us). He notes:

This raises a fundamental question with which so many of Tucker’s critics refuse to even engage: What happens when the companies that drive the market economy — and all of its benefits — don’t care about the American nation’s social fabric? What happens when, as in the case of a few massive narcotics sellers, they profit by destroying that fabric?

Surely our response can’t be: “Well, the market will take care of it.” The market is not a Platonic deity, floating in the sky and imposing goodness and prosperity from on high. It is the creation of our choices, our laws, and our democratic process. We know, for instance, that pornography has radically altered how young boys perceive their relationships with women and sex, and that the pornography industry has acquired a lot of wealth…

Again, please read the entire article (AND his book). It is true that both parties have rejected the social aspect of policy. National Republican economic elites have basically cast out and silenced social conservatives. We’re told the way to win elections is to limit ourselves to economic issues and definitely avoid anything about morality or “traditional family values”.

Meanwhile, in his book, JD Vance refers to family values with strong church and community support as part of the remedy to the situations he was faced as a youth:

…So I wasn’t surprised that Mormon Utah—with its strong church, integrated communities, and intact families—wiped the floor with Rust Belt Ohio.

When I read this, it was a source of pride. But it vanished quickly and I was chilled when I realized that I know kids and families much like JD’s in my own neighborhood and in our classrooms*. Utah is not immune. We all know someone or a family just like JD’s. It’s already here and we’re not talking about it. Nor is it helpful when local churches waver on foundational moral principles that give the stability cited by Vance to Utah and, most importantly, its families.

I hope we’ll wake to this and not continue to be lead by the nose by the Salt Lake Chamber and that we will recognize that gross economic growth does not ensure a thriving society and economy. As individuals, we don’t get absolution by blaming our oligarchs and doing nothing. We need to get ourselves together, inculcate religious values in our children, take political action, and reach out to those like JD.

*If you want to understand those near you and those you teach or will serve. Read Hillbilly Elegy. His was an Appalachian family but the experience, consequences, and ‘enduring monsters’ that JD faces transcend Appalachia and exist next door, sit in an elementary school, and can be found behind the door missionaries knock on as they proclaim Christ’s gospel. There’s plenty of swearing but it isn’t gratuitous – it’s the way they talk. Get passed it and look at the heart and lessons, and act!

2019 Legislative Lesson: Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, Swamp Consolidates Stranglehold On Utah

The general session of the Utah legislature ended on Thursday and it was a major win for the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and the elite swamp.

Let’s start with some temporary good news. Outcry stopped, for now, the Chamber’s HB441 tax reform which would have further socialized costs and privatized profits. Again, this is temporary as the legislature is planning a special session to address tax reform. I expect they will basically run HB441 with a bit more lipstick and stick residents with a larger portion of government/infrastructure cost while minimizing big businesses’ contribution (businesses represented by the Chamber), thus maximizing their profits.

Teachers were also unhappy with HB441 and should be reminded that it was the Chamber’s past president, Lane Beattie, who screwed up school funding in the first place. Senator Howard Stephenson also picked up on this as well on his March 9th radio show where he called out those behind this mess.

Stephenson: I believe they created a crisis to then have a solution that was basically cooked up behind closed doors and sprung on the legislature with only two weeks left in the legislature.
Dougall: So when you say “they”, you don’t mean the legislature created the crisis, others created the crisis was responding to…
Stephenson: Well we know who was involved in it: The Salt Lake Chamber, the Kem Gardner Institute and Natalie Gochnour, and the uh Representative Quinn and some others, who, nobody really knows who was part of this brain trust and when they were meeting or anything…

Next, the Chamber and politicians made another big step in pulling political power from citizens and into the hands of political power brokers and political elites (“the swamp”). HB119 modifies the rules on citizen intiatives/referendum to greatly increase the logistics (and cost) by carving cities up into separate districts and requiring signatures come from 75% of those districts along with having to hold town hall meetings. The bill also lets cities spend money to fight such initiatives (thus, they get to use citizens’ tax money to fight citizen initiatives). The bill was sponsored by none other than Brad Daw and chief Utah swamp creature (imported from Chicago), Curt Bramble. This junk comes on the heels of SB54 which shifted candidate selection from the neighborhood caucus (advantageous to citizens) to big money political campaigns and lobbyists/consultants. SB54 also resulted in candidates being selected with less than a majority. Somewhere, Kurt Jowers, his Alta Club posse and his “California friend” are smiling…

The Chamber and Legislature (BIRM) also pushed more high density housing onto local cities. This will make the Chamber’s developers very happy and will not help housing affordability – likely the opposite (note: read the op-ed but then read the author’s (Justin S) comments in the comment section, they are key). The Chamber is also behind the propaganda ads on this issue and note that the Chamber cites the Kem Gardner Institute in the article (you’ll never guess who sits on the board of the Kem Gardner Center…).

More cronyism is glaringly obvious with HB290 where the legislature decided to dish out your sensitive personal information (including SSN, mother’s maiden name, place and date of birth, physical characteristics, medical information, etc.) to the University of Utah (UofU) for their health and epidemiology studies. As I said when I highlighted this abuse of power:

I’ve been part of medical studies but voluntarily participated. The UofU is no better than any other university or other medical research group when it comes to this. They should adhere to the same standards as the rest. They should be ashamed for engaging in political cronyism and trying to get this type of preferential treatment to take our driver license information without asking. It’s another example of Bastiat’s “legal plunder”.

Our so-called elites continue their path of power consolidation and legal plunder. Unfortunately, we’ll be left holding the consequences these ignorant elites foist upon us.

Addendum: the Chamber also had limited success with their support of the irrigation water metering bill. They used the guise of water conservation for this bill but it was bunk – water operators stated it was easy to conserve water by simply limiting irrigation to certain days (turning of the system on ‘non-water’ days) etc. What they had attempted (pushing expensive water meters onto everyone) was likely to result in cheaper, smaller water operators being forced out and effectively creating water monopolies and to favor developers. That danger still exists and there’s a question if Utah’s aquifers will be harmed (irrigation water significantly replenishes the aquifer).

Bountiful Power Pamphlet Shorts Out

This month a pamphlet was included in the city power bill. Overall, the pamphlet is a good representation of Bountiful City Light & Power. It includes several factual statistics (customer number, kilowatt hours sold etc.) and discuses their employees.

First, I do want to point out that the section on their crews’ dedication and service is right on the money:

…crews are available to respond when required: day or night, on sunny days, and snowy days…Bountiful Power crews work quickly and safely to get the power back on so your life can go back to normal.”

I can attest, first hand, that the power department folks are courteous and dedicated and I appreciate their outstanding crews. If you’ve dealt with them, I’m sure you’ve found the same (tip: it’s always a good idea to call HQ and with feedback and ask that they recognize a good employee).

Anyway, I didn’t know how to title this post and, with scant time as usual, I just went with the above. So how does the pamphlet ‘short out’? It’s the line that “public power results in…reduced taxes”.

As demonstrated here, it does not. At best, it transfers who collects the revenue. At worst, it is used as a defacto taxing entity by city politicians manipulating and over-charging customers on their power rates to collect additional revenue and thus also cloak the true tax/government burden on citizens. Bountiful City politicians employ the latter tactic, unfortunately. This tax hiding results in a higher overall burden, in my estimation, as most citizens aren’t aware of the revenue transfer from power department to the city and don’t realize how much government actually costs them, particularly for political crony/pet projects.

I don’t know who decided to add the last page with the “reduced taxes” sophistry but it’s too bad as it detracted from the rest of the message.

Local Swamp: Bountiful City Not Only Wastes Citizens Tax Money But Surrounding Cities’ As Well

A few months ago, Bountiful city council politicians voted to go forward with yet another “revitalization” project for Main Street. That’s code for blowing tax money on some pet project they like or special interests lobby for (AKA, pork). These projects are usually well outside the scope of core and appropriate government function but rationalized away. Once approved, the funding schemes begin.

In this case, Bountiful City is going to put in some unnecessary plaza and has decided to include an “ice ribbon” (narrow outdoor skating area) which will double as a roller skating facility once the ice is off. So, the city is taking your money to pay for someone else’s hobby/fun.

Now the funding scheme. Besides blowing Bountiful families’ and fixed income residents’ money on this, the Mayor (Randy Lewis) has managed to secure money from Centerville, West Bountiful, Woods Cross and North Salt Lake residents. He was able to do this because he serves on the recreation district board with other mayors (this is key). The board voted to have the recreation district pay half of the operation, maintenance and repair costs for the ice ribbon (that includes a Zamboni to resurface the ice) for the next 30 years. Thus they voted to use the recreation district’s taxpayer funds for Bountiful’s benefit.

Why would the other mayors take taxpayer money from the district to, in effect, supplement Bountiful’s budget? It comes down to back scratching and the time-tested political stunt of accountability dilution (spreading the blame). The other mayors know that Mayor Lewis will vote to cough up recreation district taxpayer money for their future pet projects (back scratching). Since ‘the board members’ voted for the wasteful spending and to supplement another city’s tax revenues, each mayor can say it was a board decision and dilute their culpability when citizens question the spending.

Not only are Bountiful residents on the hook for this project but surrounding cities’ residents are also tied to it for the next 30 years. Now that’s what I call government efficiency!

For what it’s worth, this is the same recreation district board also recently voted themselves a “salary” (politicians who pushed for the recreation center “promised” the board would be an unpaid position) and gave their whole household free annual recreation center passes.

Finally, I’m tired of hearing all the conservative virtue signalling about fiscal responsibility, respect of families, and individual accountability in Bountiful. It’s bunk. When push comes to shove, many are happy to turn to government and demand you pay for something they think is cool but don’t want to pay for or are too lazy/entitled to or ask for voluntary donations/cooperation. It’s that voluntary cooperation that creates a true community that cares – not rationalizing and forcing people to pay for fun perks. Bountiful definitely isn’t conservative. It’s all hat, no cattle.

Davis School District Violated Their Policy And State Code During March School Walkout

This refers to the walkout that was organized by gun control groups to advocate for gun control in schools (back in the spring of 2018) after the Parkland shooting.

The Davis School District, told principals to inform (not ask) parents that their children would be walking out of schools. The District, Principals and Superintendent Newby decided to tacitly sponsor and provide logistical resources for the obvious political advocacy and disrupt school. They also figured parents weren’t worthy to be consulted on their child’s participation but just do as they were told.

On that day, school administrators and some teachers were also required to attend the protest to “observe” and ‘keep kids safe’. Several teachers also made statements in support of the protest including to students who opposed it and stayed in class.

Besides violating basic ethical standards, they also violated the following:

Utah Code 62A-4a-201(1)(a)&(d)( and 78A-6-503(10) along with the district’s own policy by the definitions in Section 3.2.2 subsections [b] and [c] (School Attendance and Truancy Intervention, Section 5 of the District’s policy manual):

[b] “Unexcused absence”
means an absence charged to a student when the student was not physically present in the assigned class or class period at any of the times attendance checks were made and the student’s absence could not be accounted for by evidence of a valid excuse in accordance with this policy or the school’s attendance procedures

[c] ““Excused absence”
means a student’s absence from school which has been verified by a parent/guardian or school administrator in accordance with school level procedures and is for a reason identified by state law or District policy as valid including:
(i) Illness, which may be either mental or physical;
(ii) a scheduled family event if the parent/guardian submits a written statement at least one school day before the scheduled absence;
(iii) medical appointment;
(iv) family emergency;
(v) death of family member or close friend;
(vi) preapproved extended absences in compliance with Section 3.4; and
(vii) approved school activity.

Although an absence may be identified as “excused”, the student is responsible to make up course work for the days missed in accordance with the school level procedures.

The protest resulted in students not being “physically present in the assigned class”. Thus the only way for the District to allow them to protest is an option in the “Excused absence” subsection which only parents or a school administrator can provide. Obviously parents were never consulted so that’s out. That only leaves official sanction from a “school administrator” and the only criteria they could use would be “approved school activity”.

When I contacted Superintendent Newby months ago, he claimed it the protest wasn’t an approved school activity and “No school personnel authorized students to leave class.” No participating students were marked as truant. So under what authority could Newby et al. provide official notification (the letter) and logistics for the political activism without official sanction (“approved school activity”)?
Answer: None. They just straight-up violated state parental primacy code as well as district attendance/truancy policy and effectively official sanctioned a political protest.

A note: Yes – this happened months ago. There’s lots of stuff I would like to write but don’t have time so sometimes I catch up on a few when I get some time. I doubt many people (if any) read this blog anyway so I use this as a way to document stuff for my own reference and maybe someone will be looking up stuff and be able to find background or resources on an issue. If you’re that someone, hopefully it helped.