What of the Constitution and Freedom?; Stand with Hans; Oppose the CDA for the University Mall; Petition Deadline Approaching Fast


John Taylor of Caroline

[News update: The petition did fail for lack of signatures (according to Hans Andersen, by a small number). Source Here. One does find it interesting that this Daily Herald article quotes Mayor Brunst and Council member Macdonald as praising the failure of the petition as a sign of “the people having spoken” – when they opposed and are praising the failure of the very same petition that would have put the measure on the ballot for more of them to actually even be able to vote upon the measure at all.]

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John Taylor of Caroline, a close friend of Thomas Jefferson and even once a Senator of the United States, once remarked in his fascinating book, Tyranny Unmasked, that: “A policy for transferring property by exclusive privileges, pensions, bounties, monopolies and extravagance, constitutes the essence of the British monopoly, and is sustained by a conspiracy between the government and those who are enriched by it, for fleecing the people. This policy is the most efficacious system of tyranny, practicable over civilized nations.”

No other quote that comes to mind seems more apt in describing the horrendous decision by the Orem City Council, minus the vigilant Hans Andersen, in “granting” a CDA (community development area) to the University Mall – with which will come with Tax Increment Financing to the tune of what is being reported as approximately $63 million dollars! (see here, and here)

Essentially, this “tool” of Tax Increment Financing, even according to Wikipedia, is a “subsidy”, which, via the mechanism of the City (along with the power to tax), will benefit some at the expense of others. This issue of property taxes themselves aside, the price tag to the taxpayer will be a conditional “forgiveness” to the University Mall of a percentage (in this case, 75%) of the increase to the property tax bill that would come as part of the increase in property value as a result of the development.

Sure, as the City claims, there is no additional debt added, in monetary terms; but what of the “debt” owed to the people themselves (as well as whomever they swore the oath to) for abandoning the Utah Constitutional standard, in spite of their oaths in support of the document as is openly part of the “swearing in” process? Is this an open, or even subconscious (if you will), admittance to how little value these city officials put on the Rule of Law and the Constitution? Even Justice, itself?

Article 12, Section 20 of the Utah Constitution reads, in part that: “It is the policy of the state of Utah that a free market system shall govern trade and commerce in this state to promote the dispersion of economic and political power and the general welfare of all the people.

Notice: These incentives are not coming from natural market forces! It is not as if this development (when analysis includes the CDA, of course) is coming as a natural result of simply attracting more and more customers and saving portions of the profits to re-invest in the property with the hope of an upward cycle. Nope! If that were the case, then why is the City directly involved in the first place? It is because the City, as the corporate entity “with” the police power (along with many attributes that people attach to the term “government”) is able to wield that power for the benefit of the University Mall, regardless of the financial/moral consequences.

Instead of the good constitutional standard set for society set in that very defensible portion of the Utah Constitution, with the city merely playing referee as a means of more peaceful conflict resolution – they (i.e. the city council members who voted and/or supported this) have decided to abandon the principles of the proper role of government and give particular benefits to some and not others – essentially, picking winners and losers! They, instead of championing GENERAL welfare (only those things which never benefit some at the expense of others), they are choosing the path of the corrupt practice of PARTICULAR welfare! This, of course, is the very form of tyranny John Taylor of Caroline wisely warned against so long ago.

Unfortunately, in a sick case of irony, this is all while claiming to be operating “for the people”, and even sometimes presumptuously claiming “them” as their own. On this issue, they have sold out the heritage of freedom America used to be known for, and replaced it with the alleged value of the alluring – even the “essence of British monopoly”!

All the while, they have never shown why that 75% “discount” – even in the realm of future numbers – will not likewise be extended to the general public. Due, perhaps, to the budget issues that would stem from such a massive discount? (we suppose); Assuming as much, that would thus illustrate the brute fact that they, for some reason, feel perfectly comfortable abusing their position to benefit the University Mall at the expense of their neighbors.

Do they not see that it is the consumers who actually spend their, presumably, hard-earned money at the Mall that actually are the means of the illusory “financial progress for the City” they are championing? (notice: the City, not the people) Why don’t we, at least, hear their honesty in “forgiving” an equivalent percentage for the people that spend there, or the other businesses within the jurisdiction of the City of Orem, or even the people themselves? If this type of program is so beneficial, why not take it to the extreme? Why spare the public, generally, from these “benefits”?

Why? Because of budgetary issues?

Why? Because it is based on incorrect principle that “shouldn’t” be taken to extremes?

Right!~ Because, at the end of the day, whether today or years down the road, the aggregate amount of money “coming in” to the city is, let’s say, “X” amount of dollars. And whenever there is a systematic “forgiveness” to any particular entity of their current portion of owed tax monies – it necessarily burdens the rest that are upholding their share. On this point, it does not matter when that current moment in time is, since the principle remains the same.

Right! The City’s main priority seems to be money, and is definitely not Freedom. It’s goals are currently at odds with the entire purpose for civil government, in the first place. They are violating the very rights of which it is their sole purpose to help protect. They are destroying the very free and just marketplace of which they are supposed to aid in upholding. For the Declaration of Independence to lose it’s explicitly direct applicability in our time, that mindset must change in the minds of those presumptuous enough to claim they represent the people of Orem. But, perhaps, the current city council (minus Hans) believes they have discovered principles that are superior to those found by the author of the Declaration? – Which document, at the very least, defined the shape of the American Experiment.

Right!~ Because the city, although implicitly claiming to act for the good of “Orem” – as the alleged “impartial arbiter of justice” – is actually acting in the spirit of faction, which was so warned about by some of the Founders (see here, and here). They are acting in the interest of some (whether the City itself, or the politically connected), and not in the general welfare of the people. Instead of being a referee, they act as a player in the game! And not only do they act as a player – they do it with the people’s money!

In fact, when City Councilman Hans Andersen actually initiates a petition to force this decision, via a referendum, on to the ballot for the people to vote upon – they all unite to protect those whom they ACTUALLY represent! (Note: NOT the people) (see here). Apparently attempting to bully Hans was not enough – since there was then a move by many to bully and scare the people of Orem away from the petition as well. (see here)

Isn’t it interesting that “the City” itself (whatever that means) will take a stand on the issue, using the resources of the people to do so, of course? Through what means were those resources acquired? Largely – taxation, of course.

The public smear campaign against Hans, and the misinformation campaign (with some, ironically, claiming to be arguing in the name of the “indecency” of, “in uniform” taking a public stand on the issue) has been largely successful thus far.

The deadline is within the next two days!

So, if you, or anyone you know is living within the jurisdiction of Orem – please contact one of the following people (both of which are owed a great deal of gratitude for trying to stand up for what is right):

 

Hans Andersen
1724 S 165 W Orem UT 84058
(801-225-0396)

 

Wayne Burr
142 S 400 W Orem, UT  84058
(801-224-6992)

 

At the end of the day, regardless of whether or not the petition succeeds or fails, and regardless of superficial arguments clothed in underpinnings of practicality and popularity – signing the petition and standing with Hans on this issue is the right thing to do! I encourage it with all that I am able!

To end near where we started, John Taylor of Caroline, following his expression against the use of the state as a player had this to say:

It is able to subject the rights of man, if men have any rights, to ambition and avarice. It can as easily deprive nations of the right of self-government as it can rob individuals of their property. It can make revolutions reorganizers of the very abuses they overturn, and merely a wheel for turning up or down combinations equally oppressive. What is the difference between recommending the form or the substance of the European monarchies? Would it not be better, like the Lacedemonians, to adopt the form of monarchy without its substance, than to adopt its substance without its form?

What good is having representation at all, or any other form of “free government” – if the substance of tyranny is merely clothed in the robes of legality as a result of that process?

That is a question to which all freedom-minded people must contemplate and at least attempt to answer.

 

 

The City’s page on the University Place CDA is found here.

 

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Here is a portion of an e-mail I received as a forward from Sharon Anderson that I thought was worth including as an appendix of sorts:

What are the facts about the CDA Petition for Orem Mall?

 

The Mall and those who believe it should be subsidized are going to great expense and effort to promote the Orem CDA (Community Development Agency) with its tax incremental financing and to stop the referendum petitions which would allow the voters to decide (instead of Woodbury Corporation and 5 city council members.)

 

Why are they so concerned?

 

Answer: The voters could slow down the CDA or stop it all together . 

 

Why does the MALL want the CDA so badly? 

 

Answer:  It will give them $63 million they wouldn’t have otherwise. With this in mind, they are trying to educate citizens so we can see things their way. However, just as it is possible to lie with statistics, it is also possible to mislead with the “facts.”  

 

So let’s take a closer look at some of the things we are being told about the Mall.

 

[Myth #1] “The tax incentive is not a subsidy.”  

 

That all depends on how you define subsidy. www.investopedia.com/terms/s/subsidy.asp  DEFINITION of ‘Subsidy’ A benefit given by the government to groups or individuals usually in the form of a cash payment or tax reduction.  The Mall IS asking for an incentive, a rebate.  This is money that the Mall will not have to pay, money that they will be able to use to increase the value of their property by $63 million.

 

[Myth #2] “The Mall needs this tax break (subsidy) in order to build out its development. ” 

 

The Mall is about making money.  If the profit is sufficient, then they will make the improvements whether or not they get a CDA.  Of course the CDA will maximize their profits to the tune of $63 million, but if the Mall’s plan is not viable without a CDA, then why should it be subsidized?  Construction is already underway.  Do you think they will stop building and go somewhere else if there is no CDA?  Many are anxious for the Mall to be built out as soon as possible, but if there is a high demand for business spaces, retail products, rentals, etc, which they plan to make available, then the Mall will develop quickly even without the CDA.

 

[Myth #4] “Taxes will not be increased on any citizen or business in Orem because of this incentive.”

 

The Mall says it will not raise our taxes, however, more than $63 million in tax revenues will be forfeited by Utah County, Alpine School District, City of Orem, Orem Metropolitan Water District and Central Utah Water Conservancy District.  This is money that these entities will not have to meet THEIR expenses. Are we supposed to believe that NONE of these taxing entities will increase our taxes for the next twenty years?  The mall might not directly increase our taxes, but what about the five entities who have given away $63 million to the mall?  We can expect tax increases will come i the Mall pays only 25% instead of the 100% that everyone else is expected to pay.

 

[Myth #5] “The Mall project will provide more money for the schools.”

 

 The plan is that the Mall will continue to pay property taxes at its current rate, plus additional amounts as the property values increase.  From the 25% in additional property tax that the Mall WILL pay, about $14. 8 million will go to Alpine School District. HOWEVER, if the mall paid 100% on the increased value of its project, it would be paying over $59 million.  So which is better for Alpine School, $14 million or $59 million?

[Myth #6] “The mall project will benefit all of Orem.”  

 

Tell that to the other landlords and 2500 other businesses that will receive no subsidies but will have to compete with businesses at the Mall, not to mention the owners of businesses who have had to shut their doors in the past because their competitors were subsidized.  Tell it to the small developers, the businesses and home owners who will get no subsidy.  Why should they have to pay 100% if they increase the value of their properties, while the Mall asks to pay only 25%?  

While the increased population and employees might increase the number of potential customers, remember that one of the goals of the Mall is to make the project walkable  (i.e. sustainable, as in Agenda 21) so that people will shop where they live and work.  Almost every business imaginable will be permitted at the Mall and the Mall is designed so that people will not need to drive to other areas of the city for shopping or services.   Furthermore, the Utah Taxpayers Association has concluded that almost all of the economic activity that would occur on the redeveloped property would otherwise occur in the greater community without a subsidy.    

 

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[Note: Below is a copy+paste from facebook post from one of the people of Orem, namely Ben Jenkins, which I found to be informative enough to be worth posting. This is an angle of disagreement that is too seldom pursued by the politically minded. Thanks for sharing, Ben!]

Below is an examination of the Utah code that the city is currently using (possibly misusing) to justify it’s actions/involvement with the Mall deal.

There are two main issues that I address in this examination:

1. Whether or not the Redevelopment Agency mentioned was created legally and inline with the Utah code.

2. Whether the economic activities listed by the city include the ability to provide tax exemptions to select private businesses.

I do not know if the Redevelopment Agency was formed legally. I would need to get public records from the city to show that these things were done prior to engaging in talks or making deals.

But what I am pretty sure of is that the authority explicitly given to the Redevelopment agency (legally formed) does not include providing tax exemptions to select private businesses.

Below is my examination:

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Their first slide in their presentation says:

“Utah’s local governments have the authority to conduct economic development activities within their communities through their Redevelopment Agencies.”

The link below provides the rules by which such an agency is to be legally created. I’m hoping to that someone on the city council or a representative of the city can provide the public with documentation showing that the agency formed was done so in accordance with these requirements.

http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE17C/htm/17C01_020100.htm

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Once we’ve established that this agency was legally formed, the next question is what actual authority does this agency have.

17C-1-201 states:

“…that is created to undertake or promote urban renewal, economic development, or community development, or any combination of them, as provided in this title…”

So in order to fully understand the authority of this agency we need to define the following:

• Urban Renewal
• Economic Development
• Community Development

1) Urban Renewal “means “redevelopment,” as defined under the law in effect before May 1, 2006, if the context requires.”

2) Community Development is defined in 17C-4-201 (16) as “…development activities within a community, including the encouragement, promotion, or provision of development.

3) Economic Development is defined in 17C-4-201 (18):

“(18) “Economic development” means to promote the creation or retention of public or private jobs within the state through:
(a) planning, design, development, construction, rehabilitation, business relocation, or any combination of these, within a community; and
(b) the provision of office, industrial, manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, parking, public, or other facilities, or other improvements that benefit the state or a community.

————-

I haven’t seen any definition of these activities that include providing tax breaks. The only language in regards to tax increments is in regards to how tax revenue will be used…but nothing that explicitly gives Orem city or the redevelopment agency authority to provide tax exemptions to a private company.

In order for this action to be in accordance with the specific 17C law, we have to prove that the “Redevelopment agency” was created in accordance with Title 17C Chapter 1 Section 201. And then…if those rules/guidelines were followed…we will need to address the serious lack of explicit permission for the Redevelopment agency…or the city municipality to provide a tax exemption…especially one so large and for so long…to a private company.

Ultimately, even if there was some technical way to find justification for this tax exemption (which I doubt), the main issue is and always has been the fact that doing this is a direct attack on local small businesses who are already struggling to compete with the mall.

Providing this large of a tax break puts the mall businesses and properties at a higher advantage destroying the playing field. Small businesses will have to spend even more money and time trying to market in order to not lose business…and spend even more to grow their business.

I’m not sure if any of the City Council members have ever owned a small business, but anyone who has owned or currently owns a small business will realize just how damaging an attack, like this, from the city can be.

"BelowThere are two main issues that I address in this examination:1. Whether or not the Redevelopment Agency mentioned was created legally and inline with the Utah code.2. Whether the economic activities listed by the city include the ability to provide tax exemptions to select private businesses.I do not know if the Redevelopment Agency was formed legally. I would need to get public records from the city to show that these things were done prior to engaging in talks or making deals.But what I am pretty sure of is that the authority explicitly given to the Redevelopment agency (legally formed) does not include providing tax exemptions to select private businesses.Below is my examination:

———————————————————
Their first slide in their presentation says:

“Utah’s local governments have the authority to conduct economic development activities within their communities through their Redevelopment Agencies.”

The link below provides the rules by which such an agency is to be legally created. I’m hoping to that someone on the city council or a representative of the city can provide the public with documentation showing that the agency formed was done so in accordance with these requirements.

http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE17C/htm/17C01_020100.htm

—-

Once we’ve established that this agency was legally formed, the next question is what actual authority does this agency have.

17C-1-201 states:

“…that is created to undertake or promote urban renewal, economic development, or community development, or any combination of them, as provided in this title…”

So in order to fully understand the authority of this agency we need to define the following:

• Urban Renewal
• Economic Development
• Community Development

1) Urban Renewal “means “redevelopment,” as defined under the law in effect before May 1, 2006, if the context requires.”

2) Community Development is defined in 17C-4-201 (16) as “…development activities within a community, including the encouragement, promotion, or provision of development.

3) Economic Development is defined in 17C-4-201 (18):

“(18) “Economic development” means to promote the creation or retention of public or private jobs within the state through:
(a) planning, design, development, construction, rehabilitation, business relocation, or any combination of these, within a community; and
(b) the provision of office, industrial, manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, parking, public, or other facilities, or other improvements that benefit the state or a community.

————-

I haven’t seen any definition of these activities that include providing tax breaks. The only language in regards to tax increments is in regards to how tax revenue will be used…but nothing that explicitly gives Orem city or the redevelopment agency authority to provide tax exemptions to a private company.

In order for this action to be in accordance with the specific 17C law, we have to prove that the “Redevelopment agency” was created in accordance with Title 17C Chapter 1 Section 201. And then…if those rules/guidelines were followed…we will need to address the serious lack of explicit permission for the Redevelopment agency…or the city municipality to provide a tax exemption…especially one so large and for so long…to a private company.

Ultimately, even if there was some technical way to find justification for this tax exemption (which I doubt), the main issue is and always has been the fact that doing this is a direct attack on local small businesses who are already struggling to compete with the mall.

Providing this large of a tax break puts the mall businesses and properties at a higher advantage destroying the playing field. Small businesses will have to spend even more money and time trying to market in order to not lose business…and spend even more to grow their business.

I’m not sure if any of the City Council members have ever owned a small business, but anyone who has owned or currently owns a small business will realize just how damaging an attack, like this, from the city can be.” width=”470″ height=”284″ />

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