Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Golf Course Financial Update and Farewell to Cedar Hills


My last day as a City Council Member in Cedar Hills will be June 4th as my family is moving out of the city.  I will miss being a part of this great city.  My last newsletter entry will be an update regarding the golf course financials, which is the same topic which started my involvement in Cedar Hills politics.  Following is a chart of financial investments from the city residents through taxes and through fund transfers since the inception of the golf course:



Note>The numbers added for the Pro Shop in 2012 only included a pro-rata portion of the approximate $2.9 Million to build the Community Rec Center/Pro Shop.

These numbers come directly from the city audited financial statements.  In addition to the investment in the golf course by residents through other fund transfers and through property tax payments, the city, at the end of fiscal year 2016 had golf debt of $5,350,000.  The total investment in the golf course including the above numbers and debt is $12,915,713.  If anyone says the total investment/spending on the golf course is significantly more or less than this number, they are probably trying to manipulate you.  If they will not tell you the number they think it is and will not tell you what they are excluding or including and only say this number is wrong, they are being dishonest.  You can't say a number is wrong unless you know what that number should be and are willing to explain how it is wrong and what it should be.

During our golf course committee meetings in 2015, the city prepared a schedule of cash investments into the golf course through fiscal year 2015 that totaled $12,600,180.  This shows that the city calculations from the audited financial statements and my calculations based on the audited financial statements tell a similar story.  The city forecast provided during the golf course committee meetings showed that for 2017 through 2021 an additional average investment of $572,380 per year is expected.  These are the raw facts regarding the golf course.  These facts do show that there is significant investment placed in the golf course and significant investment required in the future.  However, through looking into the financial statements of the golf course there are also some positive things to point out.

The golf course is comprised of 166 acres.  The total investment in the golf course through 2016 was approximately $12.9 Million.  If you divide the total investment by the number of acres, the average price per acre is about $78,000 per acre.  This is much lower than the market price per acre currently and the value of land will only increase as land becomes more and more scarce in our city.  The initial investment in the golf course was approximately $7,000,000 and was funded mostly by a bond.  We are paying for this investment yearly by an amount of approximately $360,000 for which the city taxes the residents to pay for most of this.  This equates to about $140 per year per household.

In addition to the initial investment in the golf course that was funded by the bond debt, the golf course operating losses have required a subsidy from other funds in order to keep the golf course financially viable.  The average per year subsidy since the building of the clubhouse/community rec center has been between $140,000 and $184,000 (Between $54 and $70 per residence).  The city has started development of a maintenance shed and office for the golf course that will cost between $350,000 and $400,000, which will increase the yearly subsidy for the year in which this is built.

Some good news is that the golf revenues have been about $50,000 higher since 2014 when compared to prior to 2014.  This appears to be from more corporate golf events being scheduled as the golf manager (Wade) has worked really hard to get more of these scheduled at the golf course.  As a result, without a significant increase in the subsidy for 2015 and 2016, the golf cash balance has increased from $61,386 in 2014 to $166,590 in 2015 and then to $233,496 in 2016.  It appears that after the golf maintenance shed is built, the subsidy from other funds may be able to be reduce to under $100,000 per year.

Do residents get $200+ in value per year from this investment?  That depends on your perspective.  Some feel that living next to a golf course is worth more than this amount to them.  Some go for walks through the golf course trails and enjoy this and consider the $200 per year well worth this investment. Some who live close to the golf course feel that the golf course props up their property values and is therefore worth the continuous investment into the golf course.  Others feel that the golf course does not increase their property values and does not provide any day to day value to them, but only represents a cost to them.  Both points are valid for both sides and both sides should respect the opinions of the other.

The fact is that there are other options than having a golf course.  Selling some of the land that is in Highland and a couple of small areas in Cedar Hills, could provide the funds to pay off the debt and still allow most of the open space in Cedar Hills to remain open space as parks.  This option would have some positive results including having more park space and allowing residents to use the open space whether they enjoy golf or not.  However, this will not happen in the near term as those that feel that the golf course increases their property values and those that love to golf are much more passionate about keeping the status quo than those that would prefer to not pay for the golf course they don’t use.  The golf course is here to stay barring any unforeseen political movement in the city by those who would rather have parks.

The pro-golf course group has become very organized, to the point that they can determine and have determined nearly each election period who gets in office over the last 10+ years.  They choose those that will protect the golf course and not ask serious questions about its profitability or cash requirements.

My goal through getting to the truth about the golf course financials was to help the city come to a position of peace through knowledge of the facts.  I believe the solution is for the city to analyze the golf course financials through a golf course committee once every 5 years.  This committee needs to be a fresh group that does not come in with biases and an honest discussion needs to be had each time.  Good arguments need to be presented and then the discussion needs to be put to bed for 5 years, except for a yearly update of the numbers as the financials come out each year (such as this one).  There needs to be less pressure from the organized pro-golf course political party in the city during these meetings to allow the truth to be discussed openly without shaming for those that ask legitimate questions.

This is my last week as a city council member.  I am happy with my service and feel that adding clarity to golf course financial information was a small portion of my service.  I feel that we need a good conservative council member to be appointed and then elected that will try to keep our debt down as a city.  In a 5-member Council, changing one conservative voice can have a drastic change on the outcome on certain issues.  Following are some of the unnecessary spending items that I hope the city will avoid in the future:

1)  Pressurized irrigation metering

2)  Library

3)  Taking ownership or partial ownership of Canyon Road

4)  Swimming pool/rec center

5)  Extending our sewer service across canyon road to service a small number of residences

Following are some things I would have liked to accomplish, but lacked the support of the council:

1)      Put a stop to paying dues to the liberal lobbying efforts of Utah League of Cities and Towns.

2)      Make it so that the Council/Mayor don’t get unlimited free golf.

Following are some of the accomplishments that I feel I have had:

1)      Helped to make sure that Blue Line did not get approved to build a large building that didn’t conform to our code.

2)      Helped to switch to Kirton McConkie law firm, which has the resources we need in our city.

3)      Helped to curtail the spending of approximately $2,000,000 on an unnecessary pressurized irrigation metering system.

4)      Helped to add clarity to the financial situation of the golf course.

5)      Helped to make sure there was more balance between what benefits the residents get from the golf course and what the city council/mayor get from the golf course.  Residents now receive a free gift certificate to golf one round yearly and are allowed free golf when bringing two to three paying customers.

6)      Helped to deter the city from spending approximately $400,000 in extending our sewer service across canyon road which would only “help” a small handful of residents, some of whom are happy on septic tanks.

7)      On the North Pointe Solid Waste Special Service District, I helped to ensure that a process of expanding the size and reach of the government into a private industry through the creation of a government entity named NUERA was not done secretly behind closed doors.

8)      Wrote the arguments on the voting ballot against the CARE Tax which ultimately was rejected as it represented an additional tax. (This next year it will be rebranded and presented again as the PARC Tax and put up for a vote).

9)      Helped to make sure there was more openness and transparency in our city government.

10)   Asked the hard questions that needed to be asked.

11)   Served for a year on the beautification committee.

I have accomplished most of what I wanted to as a Cedar Hills City Council Member.  Thank you for allowing me to serve our great city.

As a final thought, I want peace in Cedar Hills as most of us do.  Here are some suggestions for having peace in the future:

1)      City Count/Mayor-Always be forthright and honest, especially with difficult information.  Over-communicate if necessary to make sure that all sides of an argument feel that their voice has been heard and considered.  Publish a yearly update of the golf course financials (like this one).

2)      Those Who Love the Golf Course-Disband your secret Facebook groups and stop vilifying those who feel it is important to occasionally analyze the golf course.  Sure defend your positions vigorously, but stop spreading rumors about candidates wanting to get rid of the golf course that do not explicitly state that themselves.

3)      Those Who Don’t Want the Golf Course-Save your arguments until a golf course committee meeting is organized (I suggest once every 5 years, the last one was in 2015) so those who want to keep the golf course don’t constantly feel threatened.

4)      Remember we are all neighbors and recognize that everyone has valid points in their opinions and it is ok to agree to disagree and still be friends.  Love one another.

I feel happy to have given service in Cedar Hills.  I wish the best to all in the city and hope and pray for a bright future for Cedar Hills.

PS--Just in case any rumors have started or will start regarding why I resigned.  I resigned because my family is moving to a home in Highland that is just right for our family.  I am sad to not finish my term and explored all possible ways that I might continue on the City Council while doing what is best for my family and found there are no possible ways to remain on the Council while not living in the city of Cedar Hills.  My family took precedence. God first, then family, then country/community.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Should Cedar Hills Have a Pool, Library, Bowling Alley, Etc...?


Governments are instituted to protect the life, liberty and property of its citizens.  These are God-given rights that governments at all levels have a duty to safeguard.  Examples of things that may be provided by governments but are certainly not God-given rights are healthcare, internet service, entertainment, exercise facilities, etc.  The state of Utah gives a lot of autonomy to the individual cities, which leaves each city the responsibility of deciding to what extent it should provide additional services to its residents and correspondingly increase the property taxes to its residents.  We need to think through some important issues as we consider whether to increase taxes for a pool, library or recreation center.

There are two schools of thought regarding government providing ancillary services.  One school of thought is that only those services necessary should be provided by government.  Generally government is less efficient and provides worse customer service than industry.  Necessary services would include utilities, roads, fire and police services.  I don’t know of anyone who says these types of services shouldn’t be provided by governments.

The other school of thought is that governments should provide ancillary services that fulfil the social, physical and mental needs of its residents.  Examples of these services include parks, recreation centers, golf courses, swimming pools, meeting centers, libraries, non-profit organizations, etc.  The effect of this philosophy is that services that may not be provided by businesses (usually because of lack of profits in the venture) may be provided by government at the expense of all.

From a philosophical standpoint, a city subsidizing an ancillary business/venture means that in instances where there are not enough customers willing to pay enough to sustain a business, those that don’t use the services are required to subsidize that business to the point that it can be afforded by those that use that service.

Let’s take a swimming pool for instance.  If a swimming pool provided enough benefit to members of the community to be worth building, an entrepreneur would build the pool and be able to cover costs of building, staffing operations and servicing the pool.  I would argue that besides protecting the life, liberty and property of residents, and also to protect against natural monopolies, generally the default should be that government shouldn’t provide these types services, but should leave it up to industry.

An exception to this is park space.  It is a generally accepted principle that open space, usually in the form of parks, is desirable in a community.  There are open space laws in our community that require a certain amount of open space to be designated before a development is approved.  Each home built is then charged an impact fee of several thousand dollars to pay for the development of parks ensuring that each neighborhood has a nice park for the health, entertainment and pleasure of its residents.  I think this is a good program as long as it is used correctly.  There is only one instance in our city where this system did not work out well for a part of our community.

On the Northeastern corner of our city, is a section of that is not serviced with a park for the children of the area to play in.  The residents in this area have come to city council meetings with emotional pleas for the city to expedite the development of Bayhill Park as their kids have had to play sports in the street rather than in parks.  The cause for this lack of servicing this area is that the open space requirements were filled by the golf course.  The impact fees for this area were used up in the golf course/clubhouse leaving this area truly lacking in areas for the children to play.  This is a rare exception to a generally well-functioning program and was clearly not well planned for these residents.

Back to the other ancillary services.  Should residents that don’t use a golf course be forced to subsidize the golf games of those that do through property taxes?  How about bowling, tennis, basketball, ping pong, skiing.  Where does it end?  What rules if any should be used to determine whether to force all residents to subsidize the hobbies of other residents?  How much should a resident be forced to pay to subsidize entertainment options that don’t appeal to them?  What percent of residents should be anticipated to use a service before it becomes the duty of all those that don’t use the service to subsidize those who do?  If I, and two other councilmembers, wanted to have a laser tag facility down the street from where I live, is it acceptable for us to force the whole city to pay for this?  If we can convince greater than 50 percentage of the city that everyone will be happier and the city will be better off if we had this facility should the city build a laser tag facility?  Obviously not! Then what criteria should be used to determine what is for the general welfare and benefit of ALL residents and should be subsidized by ALL residents.

I would propose the following questions:

1)      Will this service benefit all residents and if not, what percent of residents will it benefit?

2)      What is the estimated cost range for providing the service and for what time period?

3)      Can this service reasonably be provided by a private institution?

4)      Is this service necessary for the wellbeing of the community?

5)      Does this service increase the protection of life, liberty or property?

To address the first two questions, I will tell of an experience I had last week.  I was asked to attend a merit badge event for the scouts in my church area (“stake”) as the elected official representative required for getting the Citizenship in the Community merit badge.  After completing the requirements we had some extra time for each of the three groups of scouts that I was privileged to help with the requirements.  I told them that they were going to role-play as if they were the City Council of Cedar Hills and had to decide if they were to vote in favor of the construction of a community swimming pool.  This was fun for me and them!  I had them take a preliminary vote and it was almost always unanimous for the pool.

However, I then explained that the goal of government is to protect the property of individuals.  This includes their money that they have earned.  This pool will necessitate taking through property taxes money from some residents that may not need or use a pool, which would go against government’s role of protecting the property of residents.  On the other hand, each community is allowed by law to engage in the subsidizing of these types of facilities and that people are free to move to the city of their choice.

We reviewed the number of households (approximately 2,500), the potential costs of different sizes of pools and how that cost would be shared among residents.  I discussed bonding and how this allows the costs to be spread over up to 20 years.  Then we took another vote based on all of this information, what criteria we should use to decide if this is something the class “City Council” should approve.

The three classes voted that in order to do any ancillary service, at least 70%, 65%, and 80% of the residents must utilize the service in question a minimum of once a year to justify charging all residents for the service through property taxes. 

The three classes voted that in order to justify charging residents for a services that benefits the above percentage of residents, the yearly costs could not be more than $100, $150, and $75 per residence.  I thought this was an interesting exercise and I believe helped the kids to see that just because kids their age would love a swimming pool, it may not be justified to charge all residents to give them this privilege.

For me, if I were to consider a swimming pool for our city and were to apply the 5 criteria above, I would give the following answers:

1)      Will this service benefit all residents and if not, what percent of residents will it benefit? 
       No, it would not benefit all residents.  My guess would be that 40-50% of residents would use this service yearly.

2)      What is the estimated cost range for providing the service and for what time period? 
 
      This is currently being looked into, but building and maintaining swimming pools is quite costly for those cities that have these services.

3)      Can this service reasonably be provided by a private institution? 
 
       If it was of benefit to the whole community and was worth the price people would have to pay to sustain it, then private enterprise would be providing one in our city already.

4)      Is this service necessary for the wellbeing of the community? 
 
       No, we can drive 10-20 to 3 surrounding communities to utilize their existing swimming pools and help them cover their costs.

5)      Does this service increase the protection of life, liberty or property? 
       No, it does not, but rather will require giving up of property (money through property taxes) of those that will not benefit from this service.

My vision for the city would be that we look at every way we can to bring the debt down for the city.  We have been decreasing our debt over the last few years and I would love to see that continue.  When comparing our debt with other cities, we are pretty close to average.  American Fork City has very high debt per residence, and Alpine City has very low debt per residence.  Cedar Hills falls right in between those two.  I would like to see us move closer to the debt per residence figure that Alpine City has as this will allow us to reduce our taxes for our residents fulfilling one of the roles of government to protect the property of its residents.

Rob Crawley

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.