Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A LETTER TO THE WASATCH COUNTY COUNCIL

Dear Honorable Council Members,
During the last few years, it has become increasingly apparent, that problems involving "Conflicts of Interests" seems to have grown and now are more public than ever. As you govern, perhaps you also have seen this growth in Conflicts and the struggle involved in keeping those with Conflicts from participating in decisions that affect their holdings in the County or the holdings of their family.

In reviewing some of the interviews that have been conducted on the IMPACT program, on KTMP, the local radio station, there seems to be some agreement, that conflicts exists. But so far, no one, has stepped forward with a plan to remove the most egregious ones.
It would seem, that all conflicts should be scrutinized for their long term implications on decisions as well as their effect on the public perception. Many of our leaders should be cognizant of the feelings of the public regarding government in general and conflicts in particular.
The public has spoken many times in polls and letters, making the point, that confidence in public officials as well as those appointed, is at an-all time low.
There seems to be the need to address this issue of "conflicts of Interest’,so that public confidence can be restored to the process of governing.

One would hope, no public official would try and marginalize the issue with statements that everyone in a leadership position has a conflict. Because a careful review, will show that some conflicts are more devious than others and some are perception rather than real.

It is refreshing to be able to congratulate some of our leaders that recognize the problem in themselves and are quick to point out, where conflicts exist. And in doing so, have informed the public of the conflict and have either removed themselves from the meeting or continued based on advice and consent of those involved in the process or on the commission or committee and in some cases even discussion with the audience. This type of confession goes along way, in restoring confidence.

Citizens of Wasatch County, are asking that you implement a plan of action to reduce and eventually eliminate "conflicts of Interests", in the public process.
The following from the Washington State Supreme Court in the matter of "Buell v. City of Bremerton could be a good measuring rod regarding this issue.

"Members of commissions with the role of conducting fair and impartial fact-finding hearings must, as far as practicable, be open-minded, objective, impartial, free of entangling influences and capable of hearing the weak voices as well as the strong. The importance of the appearance of fairness has resulted in the recognition that it is necessary only to show an interest which might have influenced a member of the commission and not that it actually so affected him."

There seems to be a need to train those who serve, to realize, the service they render, must be free of entanglements and Conflicts of Interests. The public deserves their best approach and complete honesty. Perhaps, it might not be too bold, to suggest, those who serve and continue to make decisions where obvious conflicts are apparent, that seeking their resignation might be in order.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

WHAT DO WASATCH HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS THINK ABOUT CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES?

After all the interviews, all the public meetings and all the discussion in the class room, we wonder how our High School Students feel about the current crop of candidates for the Heber City Council. Here is what we found out.

The students, based on interviews, seem to believe it is time for a change. They are tired of the good ole boy system, even though some are part of the that system, through Grandparents, or marriage of their parents.

They are worried, that life, as they know it, is somehow changing for the worse. They are concerned about housing, growth and open space. They feel that dragging main street, will no longer be an option for fun, due to uncontrolled traffic. They fear, that based on the present course of the City of Heber, Midway, and Wasatch County, lifestyles, the ability to have farm animals, shoot a gun, or hike in the hills is going away. They do not understand why there is an obsession on development. In general, they fear a change in lifestyle and the home town feeling and they blame the currrent crop of elected leaders for the various ills.

Based on their observations and attendance at various public gatherings, they were asked to rate the current candidates with what they believe about each one.

1. Erick Straddeck-He is for change. He seems to have a plan. He is not afraid to speak his mind.

2. Terry Lange- He has health problems that might interfere with his service, but he seems to be in-touch with the issues. (many students were not happy with some of his answers) There may yet be some service he can render.

3. Robert Patterson- He was my former teacher. He seems to want to keep what we have. He is interested in controlling traffic.

4. Nile Horner- He is looking for change. He is part of the good ole boy problem? I know his family. Is that his wife, that is on the School Board?

5. Mike Thurber- Does he have a plan? Is there a problem with his wife working for Heber City? Is he a team player? Would he vote to slow things down or speed things up?

6. Kieth Rawlings- We like him. We want him to win, but now we are not sure. Did the Boyer Company buy him or did he accept money from them? He is chairman of the Planning Commission, is he going to be the same on the council. We wonder if he can do the work, since he is taking money from developers.(this has not been proven. Mr. Rawlings say no.)(Mr. Rawlings went from second place in the students selections, to sixth place based on this issue)
The High School Students, placed the candidates in the order as they appear.

The interviews and discussions with our High School Students, show they understand three things very well:

1. In some cases, they may be too young to vote, but they are in-touch with what is happening in this valley.

2. They have put some real thought in the responses, and they have an understanding of the issues.

3. They are not afraid to voice their opinions on the issues, and state how they really feel.

(We have some great thinkers in our high school classes. We can thank their teachers, their parents, and each student, for having a desire to learn and understand the world around them)