Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Fast & Pray For Our Country

On March 30, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln Signed a resolution proclaiming a national day of fasting and prayer. Part of the proclamation mentions that the devastation of the civil war was a just punishment for the sins of the people. See this proclamation at
This was not the first day of fasting and prayer to be signed by a US President. On March 23, 1798, a similar day of fasting and prayer was proclaimed by President John Adams. Said John Adams: “As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and blessing of Almighty God; and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety, without which social happiness cannot exist, nor the blessings of a free government be enjoye” See this proclamation at:
Now, more than ever, we need the hand of God to guide our country and his forgiveness for our sins. There are several groups calling for a national day of fasting and prayer to be held on November 5th through November 6th. I am asking for those that love our country and love God to pray for our country each day leading up to November 5th and then to fast and pray for our country with many others on the 5th through the 6th of November.
 
Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 as part of his request for prayers at the convention stated:
 
"I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?"

 
Our Country cannot stand through the upcoming perilous times without His aid.
 
If you feel so inclined, please pass this message on to others. I know that God answers inspired prayers of those who love Him. The more people who participate in this day of sincere, humble fasting and prayer for our Country, the more powerful His blessings will be to help the future of our Country.
 
Sincerely,
Rob Crawley
Cedar Hills City Council Member

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Balance of Power Within the City


Sir John Dalber-Acton, 8th Baronet (Lord Acton) was an English historian, politician and writer.  In 1887 Lord Acton wrote a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in which he states:
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Great men are almost always bad men.”
You don’t need to look too far in the history books to find examples of power in one individual causing sorrow on a host of individuals.  To name a few, Hitler, Bonaparte, Nero, Mao, etc.

One of the main goals of the Constitution was to separate power into multiple bodies to ensure that power can never become too concentrated in one individual or in a small group of individuals.  State and city governments have used the Constitution as an example of how to fashion their charters and rules of governance.
In Cedar Hills we are considered to be a “Weak Mayor” form of city government.  This form of government puts strong administrative authority in the hands of the city manager and strong legislative power in the city council.  Many cities have switched to a “Strong Mayor” form of government.

In our city government there are 5 city council members who are unique individuals that are the final say in what happens in our city.  I have found this to be very healthy.  All 5 members come from unique backgrounds and have their own specialties of knowledge and experiences.  For an action to gain the acceptance of 3 out of the 5 Council Members, it needs to appeal to a broad spectrum of opinions.
If one council member gets off track, that council member cannot accomplish anything without the buy in from at least two other council members.  This is a huge protection to the city and has served Cedar Hills well.  The Mayor has the power to set the agenda of the meeting and also has a powerful influence through social persuasion.  The City Manager has quite a bit of autonomy on how he/she executes the actions proscribed by the City Council.  There are a few threats to this balance of power.

The threats that I will address in this newsletter are collusion within the city, and the threat of changing our form of government to a “strong mayor” form of government.
The first issue is collusion.  Over the last year, there is a group that has come together with the goal of ensuring that all elected officials will protect the golf course.  This group used the “Keep Cedar Hills Green” Facebook page and other Facebook pages to communicate and plan with each other.  The timing of the Golf Course Finance Committee report seems to have been influenced by this group as a majority of the members of this committee were also part of this group and were posting guidance regarding the timing of getting the report out for political purposes that appeared to have been followed by the committee and the City Council.  Additionally, the planning of how to make sure that two of the candidates for city council would not win the election was successfully laid out on this website.

This group has the most influence over the precinct CH03 that includes those that live by the golf course.  In the last election, those that were promoted by this group received 5 times as many votes as those that were not in precinct CH03.  This caused Angela Johnson who received more votes than any other candidate in all 4 other precincts combined to come in fourth place overall.  One falsehood that they used to convince this type of voting in a block in CH03 was that Angela wanted to get rid of the golf course, which was completely fabricated by this group.
A similar result happened in 2011 when Paul Sorenson and Jerry Dearinger received more votes than their contenders in all other precincts, but with the CH03 precinct, the “pro-golf course” group won.  The results were similar in 2013 when I won the election, but the difference that year was that a small percentage of CH03 residents came out to vote so their voice didn’t overcome the rest of the city and I was elected.

They have gained more influence over the years and have learned to communicate and organize better so that now it appears impossible for someone to win an election that is not willing to commit to putting the golf course as a priority.  This group only likes one voice on this issue in the council and therefore, I must go and they have chosen Brian Miller to replace me in the election next year.  All members of the current city council, 7 previous city council members, the current mayor, the previous mayor, a large percentage of those in city committees and many other influential people in Cedar Hills are part of this group.  This makes it so that an objective look at the golf course financials and other options regarding the golf course is nearly impossible.  All a candidate need say to have a chance to win an election is “I love the golf course”.  If a candidate says “I think it is good to look at the finances of the golf course and occasionally consider options with the golf course” it is the kiss of death in an election.


The second threat to the balance of power is the potential changing of our form of government from a “weak mayor” form to a “strong mayor” form of government.  The municipality of Cedar Hills, as a political subdivision of the State of Utah, operates as a Six-Member Council Form of Municipal Government.  Referred to as a “weak Mayor” form of city government due to the fact that the Mayor, as a member of the council, does not vote on matters before the legislative body, except in certain instances.  Cedar Hills’ form of government puts strong day to day administrative authority in the hands of the city manager and strong legislative and executive power in the hands of the six-member council.
Nine cities out of the 243 cities and towns in Utah (3.7%), have elected to adopt the Council-Mayor form of government.  Also referred o as the “strong mayor” form of government where the mayor operates a separate, independent and equal branch of government apart from the City council.  Cities with this form of government are typically larger in population, such as Salt Lake, Provo, and Ogden.  Any city with a form of government adopted by ordinance before 2008 is grandfathered in that form.  I have heard of councils that have had to go to extreme measures to hold back mayors that start running their cities in ways that are against the majority of the councils.  There is wisdom in numbers. 

It is no wonder that so many governments throughout the world have changed from dictatorships to assemblies and councils.  This is because if one person is in charge, this perceived or real power will inevitably go to their head and they begin to do their will instead of the will of the people.
Towards the end of 2015, Mayor Gygi met with me briefly and told me that we need to change to a strong mayor form of government.  I told him I completely disagreed with him and felt that the power to make decisions for the city should stay where it is, in the hands of 6 elected officials.  I have one question for those that are convinced of the need to make this change.  Would you want to give more power to the mayor if someone you disagreed with politically was mayor?
Rob Crawley
Cedar Hills City Council

PS-My official position on the golf course it as follows:
-It is important that the residents understand the costs of the golf course.  I plan on updating my analysis on the golf course finances yearly.
-The golf course contention has been ugly in the past.  I have suggested that we only go into deep analysis of options for the golf course once every 5 years.  Since we just looked at it in 2015, we should not take a deep look again until 2020.
-The personal attacks against me and others that support being responsible and looking at options with the golf course needs to stop.  "Keep Cedar Hills Green" Facebook page needs to take a break until 2020 when the golf course will be looked at again.  The business of making sure only "Pro-Golf" people get elected is ridiculous as this is only one issue among hundreds of important issues the city faces.
-I voted against moving forward on any options with the golf course while on the finance committee because those that would rather have parks, cemetery, etc. are much less passionate about their position than those that want to keep the golf course.
-We should all stop bickering and blaming each other and try to help the golf course be as profitable as possible so that in 2020 when we analyze things again, there will be a continually improving picture to show.

Follow Up to Olive Branch

I tried to hold a "Facebook meeting" with those of the "Keep Cedar Hills Green" group.  Although most of those I wanted to communicate were at their computers and aware of the meeting, they didn't join in the conversation and left me hanging.  I tried to communicate with them in a constructive way, but nobody wanted to communicate that way.  As soon as I became frustrated (after 1 hour of being ignored), then they all jumped in to attack me.  It appeared that when I was talking about finding peace nobody was interested in talking, but when it became confrontationall many jumped in.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Olive Branch To Members of the Cedars


I lived in Cedar Hills for about 4 years before becoming involved in politics here in any way.  I saw constant bickering about the golf course.  It was mostly centered on whether it was profitable or not.  One group said it was “operationally profitable”, the other said it was losing hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.  One group said that the original purchase price was $5 Million and that it has been covering costs ever since.  The other group said that we have sunk $15 Million into it.

I felt guilty for a couple of years because I knew that I had the financial background to understand the source of the confusion and clarify things to try to help there be peace in our city.

I did get involved and I understood the source of confusion within about 3 hours of working on the financials.  It was an accounting error that accounted for $5 Million of the difference and what appeared to be purposeful disregard of facts by some contributing to the other $5 million difference.

The net result was that the true cost was right in between the two presented sides (about $10 Million).  The side that thought it cost $15 Million accepted my numbers immediately upon asking good questions to understand them.  The other side (the city) told the employees they couldn’t speak to me.  Nobody wanted to know details from the city side and I began to be attacked personally.

I had no opinion on what to do with the golf course then.  In fact I like golf.  But, the more I see the manipulation and twisting of facts, the more I think that the golf course has been an irreparable source of anger between two groups.

My original goal was to help bring peace to the city and as you all can see I have failed miserably on this account.  I am sure I share some of the blame, but I have felt that there has been cooperative efforts to undermine my efforts from the beginning and now I have proof that nearly all of city leadership has been working behind the scenes to control elections and manipulate the golf course finance committee and try to disparage my credibility at every turn.

I could go to the press.  I could file a lawsuit.  I could call Ken Cromar on the phone and try to get him all riled up.  I have never gone to the press because my goal has been peace.  I don’t want to do any of these things.  But deep down I feel that there has been intentional damage done to me and my family while we have been going through our own hard times.

I have an olive branch I want to extend.  I would like to make an offer of peace and working together to the Cedars and those who love the golf course.  I would like to work together on a solution for our city that can result in both sides working together going forward.

The way I suggest to do this is for me to get on this Facebook page around 9:00 PM tomorrow and offer some suggestions of solutions that I have thought of.  I suggest the Cedars go to their two websites (that I am aware of) where they have all worked together, the Keep Cedar Hills Green Facebook page or the Cedars West Facebook Page and discuss ways that we can work together also and present them tomorrow night also on this Facebook page.  

I will commit that I will not look at either page (in above paragraph) during this negotiation (starting now) so you can all speak freely amongst yourselves.  Then I suggest that you delete the entire discussion when you are done so that I or others can’t see it later.  This way you can freely talk about if you can accept my olive branch for peace.

All who want to join in on this Cedar Hills Chat Room page can at that time.

Sincerely,

 

Rob Crawley

City Council Member (for all 5 precincts)

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Caucus System Gives Power to the People


For years as I observed politics and politicians, both local and national, I was very skeptical about everything in politics.  There was so little that I observed that was good.  It seemed that grass roots efforts of the people were usually ignored by the political leaders of our state and every state.  I can’t remember exactly what year it was, but for the first time in my life, I decided to go to a caucus meeting here in Cedar Hills.  For the first time, I saw something in politics that was good.  Neighbors getting together and discussing issues and choosing people to represent them who can truly make a difference.  I was inspired!  This process actually gave a voice to the people and gave the people the ability to work together to make a change in the political landscape where needed.  The caucus system allows a safety valve to help remove a politician that has lost touch with the people.  On May 8, 2010, this safety valve was used in ousting Bob Bennett despite the glowing endorsements from the Republican Party establishment in Utah and nationwide.  This proved that the people can make a difference when needed.  Unfortunately, the political insiders did not like the people having more power than them and this began the war against the caucus system. 

I remember the days leading up to the caucus in 2010 where KSL and Doug Wright constantly were putting ads and positive comments out for Bob Bennett, while mostly ignoring Mike Lee.  But, as I observed the voting record of Bob Bennett, it was not quite the conservative record that most Republicans in the state wanted from their representative.  With the advertising funds that most incumbents can garner, and the support in high places, it is almost impossible to remove an incumbent from office.  However, when politicians lose touch with their base, the caucus system can allow for removal.  Despite so much support and advertising, Bob Bennett lost in the caucus.

The very day he lost, KSL posted an editorial online saying the caucus system was broken.  Au contraire, it was not broken, but performed the very task that it was designed to perform.  Neighbors all got together and chose those whom they trusted to make a decision on this candidate.  Those trusted residents did their homework.  They looked at Bennett’s voting record.  They called him and his office, they attending meetings where Bob Bennett and Mike Lee spoke and as a whole, they decided that Mike Lee best represented the values that their neighbors chose them to uphold.  A bitter Bob Bennett showed his true colors when as a lame duck Senator in his final days as a Senator he voted the opposite of what his conservative supporters would have wanted.

The threat to KSL is that all the advertising money and all the promotion they could do for Bob Bennett didn’t give him the win.  That can’t be good for future advertising revenue and from that moment on, KSL and Doug Wright began their all-out attack on the caucus system because what had happened is the power was in the hands of the people where it belonged, not in the hands of a radio program or an ad campaign.

Big Republican Party insiders soon joined the chorus about the broken caucus system.  Mike Leavitt (Who George W. Bush chose as his Administrator of the EPA), the ultimate insider, was one of the leading voices in saying that the caucus system needed to change.  Some of the top insiders in Utah joined in.  Many from the Democratic Party joined in.  Ultimately, after 5 years of attacking the system that has worked for decades in Utah was being threatened because it threatened those in power.

These insiders started a movement called “Count My Vote” that claims to be against the Republican Party insiders, yet it was started by the ultimate insiders that feel threatened in their positions by the caucus system.  It is a true example of the kettle calling the pot black.  They then support the candidates that they feel will support this attack on the caucus system.  Sometimes they even support candidates and publish flyers without candidate’s permission as was the case for the local Republican Party candidate Dan Hemmert.  He told me that when he said they shouldn’t be publishing things as if he had endorsed “County My Vote”, they told him that they have the right to publish what they want.  The ads for this group have been very deceptive pretending to be a grass roots group against insiders when in reality it was started by the insiders to fight against the grass roots based caucus system.

Finally, Curt Bramble, a Utah State Senator representing Provo proposed a “compromise” that reduced the power of the caucuses by forcing political parties to put on the ballot for a primary vote those that did not pass the test at the caucus system.  Curt narrowly won the party nomination for his seat this year due to being contested by those that felt he had lost touch with his conservative base and this proposal passed severely crippling the power of the people through the caucus system.

Now some say the caucus system does not give the voice to the people.  This is not true.  The biggest influence you can have is at your caucus meetings choosing the delegates that will represent you.  Chances are, if you have the desire, YOU can be a delegate and help choose who will be our next Republican Party nominee.  You can get to know those running for office first hand.  You can study their voting record as a delegate and attend meetings and talk to others that are diligently trying to do their job as the chosen delegate by their neighbors.  You may say “I don’t have time for that”.  Well, if you don’t, then don’t you think that you should trust a neighbor that does have time to represent you and others that don’t have time for that depth of research? 

The problem with the system without a caucus system to qualify candidates is that too many people don’t have time to do the work required to make an educated decision.  Many base their decision from the barrage of ads that are sent to our mailboxes around election time.  They base their decision off of the subtle verbal twists offered by the media positive or negative regarding candidates.  Without a strong caucus system, those that are in office (incumbents) almost invariably stay in office until our trusted news media becomes disenfranchised with one of them and pulls a subtle attack on them.  In other words, elections without a strong caucus are decided by the media, the party establishment and the pocketbook of candidates.  With a caucus system, you throw in the voice of the people influenced by real research of voting records and personal experiences observing the candidates.

Did their homework pay off?  Yes, it did.  Mike Lee has done more to fight against the establishment than any US Senator from Utah in a long time.  Last fall when the US Senate voted to move $150,000,000,000 ($150 Billion) out of an already struggling social security system, his was one of the leading voices informing the public of this very wrong act.  He has been fighting to get Utah lands back in the hands of the state rather than in the hands of the federal government.  If you don’t like the direction the US has gone with the national debt and increased social programs and extension of federal government power vs state power, he is exactly who you want in office.

It is no wonder the establishment doesn’t want the caucus system to survive.  Power is everything to some politicians and the last thing they want is power in the people.  We are being deceived into thinking that the greatest grass roots system that helps us all participate in the political process is a bad thing.  DON’T BE DECEIVED!

Friday, July 29, 2016

More On The Alcohol Issue

Last week at the city council meeting, there was an agenda item #15 of 20 agenda items that was listed as "Review/Action to amend the Cedar Hills Grill Concession Agreement". This ammendment to the agreement changes the wording on the concessions contract with Sumting Asian LCC from "Tenant may not serve alcohol on the premises" to "Tenant may serve alcohol on the premises".

With this small change in wording, the city rec center grill will now be serving alcohol to the general public. Also, this changes the golf course to where golfers now have the stamp of approval of the city to drink alcohol on the golf course and can buy it from the grill.
The city council voted 4-1 to approve this change with my vote as the dissenting vote. The interesting thing about this item is there was not a single resident comment before the vote. There are several residents that said that they wanted to be there if they only knew the change was about alcohol. Although the main topic was alcohol, the word alcohol is not mentioned in the agenda until page 27. It is clear that the subject of alcohol should have been mentioned in the agenda. Here is the link to the agenda:

For historical perspective, back in 2001 when the city was trying to decide whether to issue a revenue bond to finance the golf course, Mayor Sears circulated a flyer listing several inaccuracies that had been communicated to residents. One of those inaccuracies was titled, "Alochol and Sunday Operation". He said "City ownership of the course is the only way to insure control of hours of operation, types of beverages sold or other activities at the golf course." Those that were against alcohol being sold at the course were assured that the city would not sell alcohol. This is one of the reasons why it has been 15 years since this vote until it has finally been approved to sell alcohol at the golf course.

Another historical perspective is that in April 2013 a similar measure came up in the city council meeting which was titled "Review/Action on Policy for Event Center Rental Contract and Supplemental Agreement", item number 19 of 22. Similarly, it was complained about that the title didn't give proper notice of the true topic of alcohol being served. This was acknowledged by Mayor Gygi and others that this was a legitimate concern. This policy change made it so that those having an event at the rec center may serve alcohol to their private guests with the proper licenses, etc. This passed 4-1 with Jenney Rees being the one dissenting vote. On the audio part of her reasoning was that she was concerned that serving of alcohol could contribute to a "party atmosphere".


Before the 2013 meeting, discussions were had on facebook and other places informing some residents of the topic. There was a full room of residents at the meeting, many of which voiced their opinion almost entirely against the proposal. This time, there was no talk on social media that in time to allow anyone that hadn't read through page 27 to realize that the discussion of alcohol was going to happen. With my wife's chemo treatment the a few days before the meeting and the Controller at the company that I work for being out of town, I didn't get through the packet as early as I wanted to and I assumed when I read a contract change that it must be pretty benign because it wasn't being discussed as I would expect on social media. Only 1/2 hour before the meeting did I realize that it was about alcohol so I quickly posted on Facebook the topic, but it was too late for anyone to really make plans to be there to give their opinion.

In the meeting I suggested that we postpone the topic until the next meeting because I knew this would be a sore spot for some residents if they didn't have the chance to comment. This was rejected by the rest of the city council and the measure passed.

After a few days of sharing opinions online, I felt I had exhausted my efforts, but then several of my supporters encouraged me to see if there was anything I could do to reverse this decision. I wasn't really excited about doing anything about it because I understand the backlash that I would get, so I decided to go door to door to see what my neighbors thought.

I visited 22 neighbors in sequence and found that of the 22 registered voters that I visited 17 didn't want alcohol served in the rec center and 5 did want it served. All of those that I asked and who didn't want alcohol wanted me to do what I could to overturn the vote.

I called our attorney to see if there was anything I could do. He told me that there is not much I could do to overturn a vote. I could have gotten a petition going, but because it wasn't a resolution or an ordinance, it was questionable whether it would hold up to legal review even with the required signatures. With that, I decided that the signature route was not going to help anything.

In the meantime, Ken Cromar sent an email titled "Mayor Gygi Deceives Cedar Hills Residents". In this email he asked that the vote be re-taken after proper notification be posted at the next council meeting. If 3 of 5 city council members voted to do this, it could be done. I sent an email saying that I would support taking a re-vote so that residents that wanted to, could https://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/alcohol/crimes/express their opinion. The other 4 council members disagreed so the issue is resolved at this point. Unless 3 city council members decide to reverse this decision in the future, there will be alcohol served to the public from our rec center.

Following are the reasons I disagree with it:

1) It was promised (or at least insinuated) that alcohol would not be served to golf course patrons if the city owned the golf course. The vote by residents to have the golf course was 54% "yes" to 46% "no". As the margin was small enough that this one issue could have affected the vote, the city should not go back on that "promise".

2) Many of societies ills are caused from drinking.



Governments have a responsibility to "promote the general welfare". I believe that allowing alcohol to be served in our rec center goes against this principle.

3) When the rec center was built, it was used with funds that were assumed would be for a traditional rec center (i.e. exercise facility). I don't think this type of "recreation" is what most residents had in mind.

4) This is a tenant/landlord relationship. The city has a right to restrict alcohol with this tenant, which it did in the original contract. There are enough residents that don't want alcohol served that we should have waited until enough information was gathered from residents regarding this issue. After all, the residents are the owners of the city and all its property. It ultimately is up to the "shareholders" of the city to decide what they want.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Golf Course Grill Now Allowed To Sell Alcohol

On Tuesday the City Council voted to amend the Cedar Hills Concessions Agreement to allow alcohol sales in our rec center.  There was a good debate among City Council members, but no public comment.  The vote was 4 to 1 in favor of allowing the sale of alcohol at the grill.

I was disappointed that fewer residents were not aware of this issue.  I was in charge of the meeting in the absence of the Mayor and I strongly encouraged the Council to postpone a vote until it was noticed in a manner that informed the public regarding the true nature of the change.  It was listed as item number 15 in the agenda as "Review/Action to Amend the Cedar Hills Grill Concessions Agreement".  There was no reference to alcohol that could have informed the residents of the nature of the change in the agreement.  Unfortunately very few residents were aware of such an important topic early enough before the meeting to allow them time to make it to the meeting.  I was disappointed that it passed, but even more disappointed that it passed under the radar of most residents.

Friday, July 1, 2016

America is Exceptional Because of the Constitution, Let's Defend It!


There is a real battle going on in our city, state, country. The battle is over whether the United States of America will continue to be exceptional or will fall to mediocrity amongst the throng of other nations.

Is America's exceptionalism even a question? I don't think so. America has been a beacon of freedom and prosperity to the world ever since it became a nation. Is there any room to doubt that the freedom we have recognized as a result of the Constitution and the goodness, hard work and moral character of the citizens are what led to this exceptionalism? I don't think so.

After the revolution, the individual states were in need of a stronger coalition than the Articles of Confederation could provide. However, the states needed assurance that the newly formed government would not become as invasive and demanding as the English government had become. The creators of the Constitution were very careful to put strong language limiting the power and scope of the federal government and keeping the power with the individual states, while also protecting individual rights and freedoms.

The 10th Amendment was one of the strongest statements protecting the rights of the states and therefore the people. It states "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

This was important to the founders because they had seen how government left unchecked will grow in power and magnitude, fed, involuntarily, off the fruits of the labors of its constituents until it sucks the freedom and the life out of itself.

As expected, The US government has grown to the point that it has left the 10th amendment long behind and its programs and influences span into almost every area of our life. To fund this unconstitutional outreach, it has had to borrow money because funding it as incurred would cause such a large increase in taxes that the people would see it for what it is and rebel against it. The outreach has accelerated in recent years in unprecedented amounts. To illustrate, the national debt when I was born was under $500 Billion. It is now approaching $20 Trillion. A multiple of nearly 40 times.

Most of those that benefit from this increase in federal spending (which is all of us one way or another) tend to only see the decrease in benefits to them personally if the government stops providing the benefit that they have become addicted to. The book "Animal Farm" comes to mind.

The problem is that eventually the independence, hard work, freedom, etc. that made America great are eroding away. Most don't take time to see the trends and project out to the future the ultimate cost that will have to be paid if we don't change the direction the country is heading. But there are a few that do.

As an example, last fall the government decided to move $150 Billion from our retirement funds through Social Security to fund its current needs. There are two Senators that stood up and said this is unacceptable, Mike Lee (our representative) and Rand Paul.

Like crabs that will not allow one to take a higher ground, these two are constantly pulled down by the masses that have been indoctrinated against any deviance from the crowd mentality.

Even in our city, anybody who tries to stand for principles that were common in America years ago such as less government spending, lower taxes, lower government debt, etc., will be labeled as a "tea party" member and marginalized.
 
Many that believe in the Constitution are willing to stand by and watch the legal sophistries of some marginalize the principles taught by the Constitution.  Their silence makes these degraders of the Constitution appear to be the majority opinion.

It is time to take a stand folks. Do you believe in the Constitution? Do you believe that the 10th Amendment meant what it said about limiting the powers of the Federal Government? Then it is time to state your opinion and stand up for what you believe. If even in our great city of Cedar Hills, if there are not enough people that believe in true principles of freedom enough to use their rights guaranteed through the Bill of Rights and earned by the blood of their ancestors to speak up, then I fear for us and our children.

It is time to support those that risk their reputations and sometimes their livelihood to support the Constitution and to speak out against our government extending its reach. If we don't take the opportunity while we can, I believe the time will come that we can't state our opinion without fear of harassment and being put in jail as it was prior to the Constitution.

Exceptionalism comes with a cost. The price of which is hard work, belief in a true cause, courage to take a stand for right and not accepting mediocracy. Are we exceptional or are we doomed to take our place among the many nations as mediocre in freedom, economics, goodness, creativity, etc., or even a possible worse fate?

Let's Have Peace Regarding the Golf Course

One thing everyone on the golf committee agreed upon (including me) was that we should only take a serious look at other options with the golf course once in a great while. There was so much contention and emotion in this process. I was very happy that I didn't have to spend a lot of my time dealing with this issue since last year. I believe that we have options with the golf course, but I believe it is unhealthy looking at these options any more often than once every 5 ye...ars.
I propose that we save our remarks on public forums and in meetings until 5 years from the last committee meeting. In 2020 I think it would be wise to delve into the topic and see if anything has changed and see if it still appears to be the best option to continue status quo with the golf course. I am proposing 4 plus years of peace.

We should all focus on helping the golf course increase its revenue as much as possible and cut out the constant biccering about the finances of the golf course. The residents were given the opportunity to learn every detail they wanted about the finances of the golf course. They had the opportunity to state their opinions on either side. The residents could have chosen to petition for an initiative to change the golf course this year and chose not to. The subject is closed in my mind until 2020. By then the golf course should be much more financially independent with everyone's positive thoughts and help.

If anyone is interested in looking at my golf course financial analyses and truly wants to understand it between now and then, they can email me at rcrawley@cedarhills.org or call my cell at (801) 830-3353 and I would be happy to share with them the information I have learned and compiled.
We have a lot of important things to work on with the city council and we gave plenty of time to this topic last year to last for at least 5 years. The only justification in my mind for the trauma last year caused was that we would be able to put the issue to bed for several years and finally have peace on this topic. Now that the time frame for having an initiative this year has passed peacefully, I am happy to report that I have nothing to say regarding this publicly until 2020 besides a yearly financial update regarding the progress of the golf course.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Should We Pay Dues to Utah League of Cities and Towns?


The Utah League of Cities & Towns.  Sounds like a great group to be involved with right?  Maybe not.  This year our city has to decide whether or not to pay our yearly dues of approximately $5,000 to be a part of this group.  While I don’t doubt there are some benefits to membership in the Utah League of Cities & Towns, I believe we are supporting everything that is wrong with government when we send this money to them.  Why?  Because rather than helping us as a city be "By the people, of the people and for the people”, I believe this group is "by the government of the government and for big business".  Let me explain

I don’t doubt that there were good intentions by those who started this group, however, I believe it has turned into a propaganda arm for non-conservative principles.

Last year I attended the Salt Lake City convention.  In one of the meetings I attended, the speakers at the Utah League of Cities & Towns conference talked about how they had changed the outcome of the state-wide vote on the gas tax.  They said that before they got involved it appeared that the measure wouldn’t pass.  However, they mobilized the cities and got the city leaders involved in “educating” the public on what a great thing this would be.

As some background, the reason that the gas tax was a bad idea in my opinion was, first of all, that it raised taxes.  Secondly, it funneled money from the residents through tax contributions and the contribution mostly end up in the hands of the State of Utah and therefore to projects like UTA.  UTA has had its fair share of scandals over the last few years from corruption at the top levels and provides little benefit to our city and county.  Thirdly, the gas tax gave a small percentage of the funds raised to the cities.

Now whether or not the gas tax was a good idea or not, the problem I have with this system is that the tail is wagging the dog here.  City governments should look to the people to direct them on how to vote and spend funds not the other way around.  On a state-wide level, city leaders should not be getting together discussing how to convince the residents to give them more tax money.  City leaders should not be looking to a self-appointed elite group of city leaders for direction on how to influence the people.  When you have groups like this, it leaves wide open the possibility for special interest groups to get their fingers in politics throughout the state.  All it takes is one donation from a big business to this group and the whole state political system is tainted.  If you go to their website, you will find plenty of big businesses that are sponsors of ULCT.

In this same meeting these leaders then started training the city councils, city managers, city mayors, etc. on how to make sure that proposition 1 passed last fall.  This proposition increased taxes further and gave more money (40%) to the behemoth UTA and very little to the cities.  There was a small percentage (20%) of the money that went to the cities for improving their roads and this incentive was the piece that was used to try to get the support of all cities.  Fortunately Utah County voted no to this piece of legislation despite the extensive advertising used to promote this legislation.

One of the ways that the Utah League of Cities and Towns encouraged cities to influence its residents to vote for Proposition 1 was by suggesting that all cities pass a resolution in support of this.  This was proposed in our city last year prior to the election.  I am glad that our city had the foresight to reject this backwards way of trying to influence our residents to support a piece of (in my mind) bad legislation.  County Commissioner, Bill Lee attend our meeting that month to remind us of the problems with Proposition 1.  He talked about how there is better legislation that was being drafted to help raise money for our local roads that would leave more of the money in the hands of the cities.

I have spoken to several conservative leaders from other local cities and have found that the Utah League of Cities and Towns almost always has supported tax increases and liberal agenda items rather than conservative principles that I feel our county and our city espouse.  They also have a large portfolio of corporate sponsors.  The Utah League of Cities and Towns is basically known as a very effective lobbying group.  The problem is that their lobbying efforts go against principles that I believe of lower taxes and less, but more efficient government.

I would like to propose that rather than paying $5,000 this year to the Utah League of Cities & towns, we use those funds to increase the budget for our Parks, Trails & Beautification Committee.  I have served on that committee in the past and feel that this committee uses their small budget more efficiently to serve our community and to bring our residents together than any other group.  Rather than give away our money to a group that caters to big business and the liberal state agendas, let’s support local community.

Another option is to simply remove it from the budget and save money for the city and for taxpayers.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Higher Nets Needed at the Golf Course

Tonight at the city council meeting there will be a vote from the council members regarding what to do with the netting at the driving range. For several months we have been getting complaints from residents accross the street about how many balls are clearing the current nets and landing in their yard, hitting their house, landing in Mesquite Park, either hitting or almost hitting pedestrians, etc.
Two years ago, the city paid to have the nets raised just South of the tee boxes at the driving range. There were about 6 larger poles put in. However, the taller poles only extend for a portion of the driving range. The problem is that when a golfer slices and the ball curves to the right, most of the balls clear further East where the shorter poles and netting are.
Several of the city council members have met with the homeowners in this area to discuss how to resolve this. Many methods have been discussed including moving the targets further north (which has been done); putting in cameras and warning golfers of their personal liability for errant balls (which has not been done). However, it seems that the only effective way to reduce this risk of liability is to raise the nets again.
On Saturday I went and walked down the sidewalk accross the street and also looked for golf balls at Mesquite park and found 16 balls. Some of them were very far into the playing field at the park. I watched the golfers for about 15 minutes and didn't see anything clear while I was there. Then I took my boys to hit balls there Saturday night. No balls cleared the nets while I was there. Then I looked again Saturday night and found 6 more balls along the sidewalk accross the street.
Monday Morning I came back and found a few more balls accross the street. I then met with one of the homeowners there and found that last Saturday he and his kids picked up 120 balls. He showed me the large bag full of balls he collected. He and I walked up on the park and found 5 more balls well into the playing area of the soccer field.
I am not a fan of continuing to spend money on the golf course. However, when it comes to safety and common sense, I believe we need to do something about this and the sooner the better. We will be reviewing the options today. One of the options presented has been to add a section of netting that extends about 7 sections of the taller netting. This has been quoted at $33,000 plus $13,000 of gold trade for the poles and netting.
I don't feel comfortable not raising the nets when the potential for damage or injury is so high.  What are your feelings?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Citizens Must Hold Representatives Accountable
 
“Corruption” and “Government” are two words that seem to go hand in hand.  This has been true since the beginning of time.  Some say that this is only true for national politics.  However, as much as I would like to believe that our state, county or city leaders are exempt from wrongdoing, experience has shown that all levels of government are susceptible to inappropriate actions.  It is the duty of all residents to maintain a healthy skepticism of those in office in order to help those serving remain true servants of the people rather than servants of themselves or beholden to a cause that may be contrary to the will of the people.
I recently read an article about the Israeli prime minister from 2006-2009 named Ehud Olmert.  While he was mayor of Jerusalem he accepted a large bribe and will now be in jail for nearly two years.  This person was the equivalent of the United States President for the country of Israel.  See article here:


It is interesting to note that the first law regarding bribery that we have on record was written for the Israeli people by Moses nearly 3,500 years ago.  Following is the text of this law written in Deuteronomy 16:18-19:
18 Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment.

 19 Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous
This doesn’t say that only bad people take gifts.  It says that the wise and the righteous are compromised by gifts.

Recently there has been a large uproar in Northern Utah County due to Snowbird trying to expand their operations in the Mineral Basin and Mary-Ellen Gulch up American Fork Canyon.  They own a lot of land up there and were working on doing a land swap with the US Forrest Service to complete the footprint they wanted.  Last summer this land swap plan was abandoned by Snowbird, but they are still trying to get a permit for expansion into the areas they own.
Although this may be something that many residents of Utah County are against, Snowbird does own the property and have certain rights.  However, with the rights of ownership also come certain obligations.  There are hundreds of abandoned mines on their property and their property is part of the watershed that feeds into American Fork River that supplies irrigation and drinking water to a large area of Northern Utah County, including Cedar Hills which uses a portion of this water to feed our pressurized irrigation system.  This watershed also drains water into our underground water supply, which supplies the wells in the city that provide drinking water to our residents.  There is a risk that if Snowbird does not manage its mine tailings responsibly, the water quality could be compromised.

The problem that has arisen is Snowbird has given many “gifts” to people that are in positions of trust in our state, county and city.  There have been trips to Europe given to mayors, county commissioners, and other influential people with their wives.  There have been helicopter rides given.  There have been tickets to black tie events with celebrities.  There have been large campaign donations.  There have been free ski passes given.
We have laws today, 3,500 years after the law cited above, that also limit bribes and gifts for elected officials.  The law specifies that anything over $50 in value is not allowed without proper disclosure of the gift.  Although many have received benefits from Snowbird, there has been very little proper disclosure of these items.

All mayors, city council members, county commissioners, governors, legislators etc. should be very careful not only to avoid accepting anything of value from those that our decisions and actions may affect, but we should avoid the appearance of taking anything from any groups that our decisions may have influence over.
May I suggest that at least once a year (maybe in January) we ask all elected officials to report in a city council meeting all of the gifts or benefits they were given during the past year just so that we go beyond what the law says and stay as far away from the cliff as we can be as a city.  I would suggest that the residents demand this from their elected officials not only to protect the city from potential conflicts of interest, but to help elected officials avoid temptation to take gifts or benefits that may be inappropriate.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Freedom of the Press In Cedar Hills Meetings

There has been conflict between Ken Cromar and the city leadership over whether Ken can video our meetings on the side or front area of the room or if he needs to be behind the crowd.  He has complained that in the back, he can't see faces or record the audio as clearly.  In a previous meeting he was recording at the side of the meeting and Mayor Gygi cited our city code that says that the press must be in the back of the room.  Ken refused to move to the back citing his Constitutional right to freedom of the press.  Mayor Gygi stopped the meeting and there was some discussion with advisors after which Mayor Gygi proceeded with the meeting with Ken continuing to video from the side after making some threats to Ken Cromar.

Last night (March 1, 2016) I stated my opinion on the matter as follows:


I would like to make a statement regarding the controversial subject of Mr. Cromar and video taping the meetings.  Clearly the city was wrong in trying to limit his rights to video tape the meetings at the side of the room.  I am glad that we have loosened up the resolution limiting the press and where they can be.  I think that the city was wrong, first of all, to have the resolution on the books that it had.  I also think the city was wrong to stop a meeting and threaten Mr. Cromar. 

You know the Constitution is under fire and has been since it was passed by those that would prefer that government had more power over the people.  I believe certain sections of the Constitution are completely ignored such as the 10th Amendment.  We have a duty to speak up not only when we see a violation of the Constitution, but even when we see government skirting the line or getting into gray areas regarding the Constitution.

I would like to read the 1st Amendment to the Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

To abridge means to curtail, shorten or lessen.  If Congress doesn’t have the power to lessen the freedom of the press, then certainly Cedar Hills City does not.

I know that Mr. Cromar wanted an apology for trying to curtail his freedom of the press.  I applaud the Mayor for admitting that Mr. Cromar was 100% correct.  However, we failed to give him an apology.  I don’t always agree with Mr. Cromar and he doesn’t always agree with me.  However, there is one thing that he and I wholeheartedly agree on and that is the upholding of the Constitution.  I have seen Mr. Cromar harassed for exercising his freedom of the press on more than one occasion and I have remained silent.  I want to give him my sincere apology for not standing up for his Constitutional right at these times.  I do not have the authority to speak for the city to apologize on behalf of the city for this, but I will say that my 20% vote would be to offer him an official apology from the City as well.

I am going to try to do better at first recognizing when an issue of Constitutionality exists and second standing up for the Constitution. 
After this statement, I also stated my opinion that Ken Cromar was disorderly in the meeting last night because he approached the podium and argued with Mayor Gygi when he wasn't called to the podium.  In his defense, Mayor Gygi did initiate the conversation with him during Mayor Gygi's update time.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I Support A Citizen's Initiative On The Future Of The Golf Course


This past year has been an intense one for me on the City Council because of the controversial subject of the golf course.  I believe I have a unique perspective of the golf course and of the process that has been followed by the city as I have discussed how the golf course came to be with as many people involved as possible and I have researched into the finances of the golf course for approximately four years.

Following are the conclusions that can be drawn from this research:

1)      The first year of operations in the golf course the city invested $7,114,000 into the golf course fund.  This included the initial purchase price of the golf course and other cash needs to begin operation of the course.  This was funded mostly by debt.

2)      Since the first year, through 2014, the city averaged $520,000 of investment into the golf course yearly.

3)      The total investment into the golf course after 10 years (through 2014) was a little over $12 Million.

4)      The city will continue to need to invest in the golf course an average of approximately $500,000 ($200 per household) per year until the golf course bond is paid off in over 20 years unless the city decides to sell some property to developers to pay off the bond earlier.

5)      Contrary to what some would have you believe, the city/residents do have options regarding the golf course, including changing the use to parks.

6)      If the residents chose to change the golf course to parks through an initiative process, I estimate over $4 Million in savings for the city.  This is after investing $4 Million to convert the golf course into parks, which would allow the city to have nice park amenities.

7)      The legal obligations and hurdles are manageable when considering changing the use of the golf course.

8)      Home values of those very close to the golf course could be negatively affected by changing the use from a golf course to parks.

9)      Changing the use of the golf course would require selling holes 1-9 of the golf course that are located in Highland.  It would also require selling 30 of the approximately 100 acres of golf course space located in Cedar Hills to a developer.  This is the area East of Canyon road.

Those that live close to the golf course have made it very clear that they would like to keep the golf course and continue having the city invest in maintaining the golf course.  This will continue to cost all residents in the city, whether they benefit directly from having the golf course or not.  If the majority of city residents want to continue to subsidize the golf course, then the golf course should stay.  If the majority do not want to continue to subsidize the golf course and would rather subsidize parks, the golf course should be converted.

I suggest that a resident initiative process be started and that the future of the golf course be voted on in the next election period (2016).  The residents have been given a lot of truth regarding the golf course that they had previously been lacking.  They are now in a position to make a very intelligent decision regarding the golf course.  This issue has been a difficult issue in the city for many years causing much conflict and anger among the residents.  I feel that we are finally in a position to end the conflict through a vote and then live with our choice after this.

Many have said that we have had votes regarding this issue.  I would agree that we have had a vote, but the information presented by the city prior to this vote was very inaccurate.  We now have accurate historical information on which to base a future decision and I believe that everyone in the city would stand by the majority of a vote at this point.

The reason I have chosen this past year (2015) to focus on this issue is because there are some real needs on the golf course.  For instance, if we are to continue operating the course indefinitely, we will need a golf course maintenance shed for our equipment.  This will cost between $300,000 and $380,000.  We also have an issue where many stray golf balls from the driving range threaten damage and injury to residents and those passing by the golf course.  This will take money to resolve.  We need to be united as a city before we continue to spend large amounts of money on the golf course.
In order to have a citizen's initiative and a vote on the next ballot, a resident of Cedar Hills would need to initiate the process and obtain a required amount of signatures from registered voters.  Personally, I would support this process and will support the decision of the residents, I only want peace and unity in the city regarding this issue.