Bountiful Raising Power Taxes Again (2018)

Bountiful City (via the city power company, Bountiful Power & Light) is moving to raise your power bill again on top of last year’s customer charge increase (a 67% jump from $6 to $10/month). As I’ve documented for years, Bountiful city politicians use the municipal power company to raise money while skirting truth-in-taxation requirements. This method provides a significant fund transfer (about $2.5 million this year) and lets city leaders speciously claim the city has lower taxes than others its size.

Now we’re all on the hook for a $2/month/account increase for a “street light fee”. Normally, cities pay the power company for street light electricity. However, if I recall correctly (please correct me if wrong), about 10 years or so ago, Bountiful Power made some bad decisions and played the wholesale market (something a government-owned entity shouldn’t do)* and they lost. Due to the loss, some deal was struck that the power company would cover electricity for street lights and the city wouldn’t pay for it.

Now, city politicians have decided to exploit this abnormal street light cost line item as another avenue to raise funds and cloak actual tax burden. This may also lead to an increase in the power transfer from the current $2.5 million/year.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to get treated to letters patting residents on the head about being unwitting “investors” and getting ghost “dividends” (and zero SEC protections). The shtick used to be funny but now it’s just insulting.

*The loss may have had something to do with this, but I’m not positive: Bountiful Power “Call-Backs and Resales”.

Edit: I had written FTC rather than SEC. I just realized it and corrected it (so many federal acronyms…). As an aside, these municipal power companies really should also be brought under the jurisdiction of the Utah Public Service Commission.

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How To Make Your Utah Voter Registration Information Private

As I’ve explained in the past, the state of Utah and Utah’s county clerks are required by law to sell the personal information of more than 1.5 million registered voters for $1,050—voter identification number; first, middle, and last name; voter status (active or inactive); absentee status; original registration date; party affiliation; phone number (if provided by voter); mailing and residence address, voter participation history; and method of participation (absentee, by mail, normal, etc.).  Of course, some of the elites, such as the governor have managed to have their personal information protected.

If that weren’t bad enough, certain entities including political parties, or an agent, employee, or independent contractor of a political party, candidates for office, financial institutions, health care providers, researchers and insurance companies are authorized to purchase the month and year of birth of registered voters along with all of their other personal information.

Once purchasers have the voters’ information, they can do whatever they want with it including tracking down the victims of domestic violence who may have changed their addresses, accessing teenagers’ private information or even posting the entire list, less the month and year of birth, to the Internet.  In fact, the personal information of roughly 1.8 million Utah registered voters can already be found on voterrecords.com.

2018 legislature finally made it possible for registered voters to protect their personal information.

For over five years, my father worked with Representative Becky Edwards (R), who unsuccessfully ran bill after bill designed to protect voters’ personal information.  Their efforts were always stymied by the state’s two major political parties and powerful business interests who insisted that if voters wanted to exercise their right to vote, they had to give them their personal information.

Finally, in 2018, two election related bills, SB74 and HB218 were passed with provisions making it possible for Utah voters to request that their voter registration records be made private.  Both bills passed the House and the Senate unanimously and were signed by the governor.

In addition to Representative Edwards, the following legislators played a key role in making it possible for Utah voters to exercise both their right to vote and their right to privacy:  Senator Karen Mayne (D), Senator Deidre Henderson (R), Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D), Representative Sue Duckworth (D), Representative Karianne Lisonbee (R), and Representative Norm Thurston (R).

Salt Lake County Clerk, Sherrie Swensen (D) also worked diligently to give voters the right to make their voter registration a private record.

So, how do I make my voter registration record private?

If you are NOT already registered to vote, go to the state website and register to vote. When asked “Would you like to make your record private,” click on “Yes.”

If you are already registered to vote go to the state website, update your voter registration information and make your record private by clicking on “Yes.”

If you are completing a paper form to register to vote, when asked on the form “Would you like to make your record private, check “Yes.”

How do I remove my records that were previously sold by the state from voterrecords.com?

According to voterrecords.com:

We respect your privacy and have a simple way for those wishing to remove some of their public records data from appearing on VoterRecords.com.

Step 1: Search for a person [by clicking here and then entering your info in the Search Filters on the left.]

Step 2: Click on the person’s name in the search results, this will take you to the individual’s detailed record page.

Step 3: Scroll to the very bottom of the page and click the Record Opt-Out link. This will take you to the opt-out form specific to that record.

Step 4: Once the form is submitted we will send you an email with a verification link that you will need to click to verify your opt-out request. (Not everyone will receive the verification email. If you do not receive the email this typically means your record was successfully processed without additional verification being needed.)

Once you have done this, data such as: house number, phone, and email address should no longer appear. Make sure to refresh the page and clear your browser cache if you are still seeing the data after you have completed these steps.

Please remember that all voter records appearing on VoterRecords.com are public record and can be obtained directly from the government by anyone at anytime. Removing information from VoterRecords.com has no effect on the official records the government maintains and releases.  [Therefore, unless you make your voter record private, the state will sell it to voterrecords.com and voterrecords.com may add it to their list even if you have previously removed it.]

So, that’s it.  Take five minutes now and protect your personal information.  And, pass the word on to your family and friends.  After all, if the state won’t do its job and protect our information, then we will have to do it ourselves.  At least, we can now vote without being forced to let the state sell our personal information to the world, political operatives and a bunch of businesses and health care providers.

Note: This post was co-written with Ron Mortensen (hey, there’s a first time for everything).

Must Watch: I’m The Majority

Just watch, there’s not much I can add.

“We’re the first ones taxed, and the last ones considered, and the first ones punished when things like this happen. Because our rights are the ones being taken away.”

Enough with leftists blaming good citizens and treading on rights of the law-abiding. I too am fed up with all the politicians coddling to the “loonies from the left”. We must start to fight and “raise hell” with the schools, city councils, legislatures, and organizations who bow down to the leftist minority who are either ignorant to realities and God-given rights or malevolently seek to deny them for their own power. I’m done with unprincipled politicians and organizations (including churches) who say we always have to compromise our natural and constitutional rights to speech and defense (among others) to some squeamish leftist social justice warrior when we’ve done nothing wrong and obey the law. They can take their despotic social justice and shove it.

2018: Utah’s Tax And Spend Legislature, Governor, Our Schools Now and the Salt Lake Chamber Of Commerce

Next time someone wants to tell me Utah has a conservative legislature, they can shove it. They’re either GOP(e) party hacks or entirely clueless.

At the end of the legislative session, the GOP-Governor-Chamber of Commerce group managed to jack up your taxes and enable a flimflam scheme to trick people into raising them further…all during a year of budget surpluses (because it’s not your money and labor, it’s really their money to play with).

Here’s what they did: The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce created yet another front group (Our Schools Now) led by a group of Utah’s wealthy elites. They started a ballot initiative pushing for another big tax increase on everyone but themselves. Then they could count on  their “Available Jones” (aka Governor Herbert) along with their shills in the legislature to cut a deal with them – much like the tactic used to begin to crush Utah’s neighborhood caucus system (in the form of SB54 a few years ago). Herbert is now out there on some dog-and-pony show about how he ‘saved’ everyone from some big tax increase. It’s total baloney.

What Herbert and the legislature did (again) is save the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce from spending their own money to run a ballot initiative that was likely to fail. Instead, they passed a couple of increases and will also use your money to fund a tax increase question for the next election. C’mon, when you’re a special interest group tied with the political elite, someone else pays for your initiatives.

So here’s the damage:

  1. They will encourage local governments to further raise the sales tax to dish more cash to the corrupt and fiscally irresponsible Utah Transit Authority (UTA) or its new name, the Transit District of Utah. UTA is (surprise!) promoted by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and politically well connected.
  2. They “froze” the rate of the state property tax dedicated to education for five years thereby exempting it from truth-in-taxation hearings . Sounds good, right? Nope. Normally counties drop the tax rate as your home valuation increases as they have a cap on how much they can collect each year. This ‘freeze’ holds the rate regardless of valuation which will result in a surplus (of your money) they will harvest.
    Tip: Be on guard for them extending the freeze in perpetuity and expanding it to other entities that take property taxes. Also watch for an increased tempo of home value evaluations to further boost their take. Face it, property taxes combined with spendthrift politicians mean you never really own you home.
  3. They will shove a question on the next election ballot asking for a 33% increase in the gas tax from $0.29/gallon to $0.39/gallon.
    Here’s the flimflam: A few actual conservative legislators asked that they phrase the ballot question to include the percent increase (33%) or the old/new rate (0.29-0.39/gallon), thus giving voters clarity and context. Niet! said our liberal GOPe legislators and blocked the motion. Now the Chamber et al. can try to pull the wool over naive voters and spin the increase as ‘just a small 10 cent increase’. It’s a significant increase ($2.00 per fill-up) and will impact family budgets. In addition, it will not add even one penny to road funds since the amount going to roads from the general fund will be reduced by the amount of the increased fuel tax.
  4. There’s no guarantee the Chamber/Our Schools Now won’t press for more tax increases…which their politicians can then again cave on to ‘save us all from a bigger tax increase’.

I will acknowledge that there was a small decrease in the income tax but overall the average citizen came out on the losing end since all this, along with the last few years of tax increases, is going to hit your family budget. But so long as our political betters and their buddies can continue to spend your cash like drunken sailors, we totally have the most fiscally conservative politicians….ever!

 

Government Intrusion In Private Sector Claims Another Local Business Scalp (RDAs)

A local South Davis County business (in Bountiful) is closing it’s doors. Winegars, run by a local family, has been in the area for just over 100 years (since 1917). Unfortunately, government fooling around with things best left to the private sector dealt a blow they couldn’t overcome. You see, local governments used redevelopment agencies (RDAs) which provided a significant tax and competitive advantage to competitors (including a large chain/corporate grocer) which Winegars didn’t have (Winegars to close Bountiful store after decades in the community):

Existing stores have often been negatively impacted when redevelopment agencies or community development agencies are established, said Winegar, giving tax breaks to new businesses. The Smith’s on 2600 South in Woods Cross is in a redevelopment agency area and the Lee’s on Redwood Road in North Salt Lake is in community development agency area. Lonny and his brother, Weston, are the fourth-generation owners of the business. They bought it from their father, Dee, some years ago. The first store owned by the family was the Woods Cross Mercantile, which was opened in Woods Cross in 1917 by Thomas E. Winegar.

Yet another example of government actions deciding winners and losers along with some corporate welfare.

Note: Smith’s is part of the Kroger chain.

Bonus read: See the bottom of this post for links on what RDAs are along with the post on another example of abuse of RDA authority.

Organizational Vs Individual Freedom: Elder M. Russell Ballard And Utah’s LGBT Law

In the LDS Church’s monthly publication, Ensign, which I recommend if you want some uplifting inspiration, I read through an article titled “The Eternal Importance of Family” written by M. Russell Ballard. The article was good as it related to traditional families and respecting those who disagree and/or don’t share those values. However, a portion caught my attention and caused some dismay. In reference to Utah’s 2015 LGBT non-discrimination law supported by the church, he states:

At the same time, religious conscience and the right to practice deeply held religious beliefs are protected by this robust legislation.

Back when the bill was developed and debated, I caught the discrepancy in the church’s justification to support the proposal:

Good For The Gander: LDS Church And LGBT Non-Discrimination Laws

LDS Church And LGBT Non-Discrimination Law Credibility

The disconnect is that the law protects organizations to practice deeply held religious beliefs via specific exemptions (see above links or the footnote 12 in the Ensign article). Individuals are not exempted; only certain organizations are.  It does not protect individual freedom, quite the contrary.

Individual freedom is the basis for freedom. Basically, it would be like saying there is only freedom of speech for specific organizations and if you aren’t working on behalf of it, you have no right and may be legally sanctioned for what you say; only specific organizations have protection from unreasonable search and seizure but you don’t and so forth.

While the church received an exemption and retained their right, individual members and non-members alike were thrown under the bus and lost their freedom. Meanwhile, we hear of Oregon upholding the fine against the cake bakers under the guise of non-discrimination. I don’t think Utah’s law is as bad as Oregon’s and, hopefully, won’t be construed or form the basis for similar actions here. Nevertheless, it doesn’t protect individual religious freedom and may open the door to exploitation in the future.

Disclaimer: I don’t advocate denying basic services – that sort of stuff isn’t my thing and goes against my beliefs. However, if there are plenty of alternative, willing sources for a basic need, then no law should be made and no freedom intruded upon (the issue is moot). Furthermore, economic and peer/societal consequences will be brought to bear as others use their free association to not conduct business  etc. with those denying the service. For fluff stuff like cakes, I think it absurd and unconstitutional to restrict freedom of the business or consumer.

Mayor Lewis’ Definition Of A Positive Campaign (Bountiful 2017 Election)

I understand that the current Mayor (Randy Lewis) insists that he’s running a positive campaign and his October 18 email (written by Councilman John Pitt) is ironically titled “Why is there so much negativity this election?”. Why indeed. Pitt’s email is a negative hit on the Mayor’s opponent. The irony of a negative email decrying negativity borders on humorous satire.

I suppose Mayor Lewis has a very interesting definition of ‘positive’ given the personal attacks from David Irvine certainly appear to be hosted on his mailing list. One such David Irvine email entitled “Truth in Bountiful”* and begins with “WHY I’M VOTING FOR KENDALYN HARRIS and CHRIS SIMONSEN”. The attack email focused on Kenny Knighton’s religious preference (or lack thereof – he’s an atheist). The hit resulted in Knighton deciding it wasn’t worth putting up with personal attacks and dropped out.


It looks like Mr. Lewis may be using a surrogate attack dog while pretending to be running a positive campaign. He may have assumed no one would bother checking his email list archive or email footers to notice the…ahem…’not so positive’ emails he’s hosting.

Several of the emails promote current Councilwoman Kendalyn Harris and Mr. Simonsen. I don’t know if either have agreed to the emails and sharing the list (maybe it’s incumbents helping each other stay in power). I wonder if they are running as a team. If so, I guess Harris and Simonsen condone the emails (especially since they resulted in an opponent dropping out). If they aren’t a team, the Mayor is going out on a limb by insinuating some affiliation via these emails.

Between the very ‘positive’ attacks and apparent feigning of Harris/Simonsen affiliation it’s quite the spin cycle. Wag the dog, Mayor Lewis/David Irvine/Truth in Bountiful, wag that dog.

*Note: Truth in Bountiful also appears to be Mr. Irvine’s group moniker to veil their affiliation with Mayor Lewis’ campaign. Emails are either copyrighted to David Irvine or “Truth in Bountiful” (particularly the negative emails) or “Mayor Randy Lewis” (more positively oriented emails).

For what it’s worth, some folks have also asked where the above got their email address. I found out Senator Todd Weiler is the source for the email addresses.