After Mayor Pengra’s surprising May 30th announcement that he would not seek reelection, Debbie Hooge filed to run for mayor of Eagle Mountain City, again. Her candidacy was announced by her close friend and confidant, Wendy Lojik, the publisher of The Crossroads Journal.
In case you don’t know who Hooge is, here’s a little tidbit to help you out: she was the first mayor of Eagle Mountain who signed an infamous 20-year master development agreement (MDA) that basically gave the city’s most notorious developer free reign to do whatever he wanted in the City Center area. This resulted in many sub-standard developments that residents have complained about for years.
Now that Pengra is on his way out, it appears that Eagle Mountain’s Deep State–controlled by the city’s oldest and most established developers–wants to get her back into office. Maybe it’s because they want her to renew the first MDA she signed that expires in a few months . . . .
Developers and the Deep State
Eagle Mountain has always been a developer town. What this means is that the city’s powerful developers have always used their money and influence to try and install friendly candidates into office. Sometimes they’ve succeeded, other times they’ve failed, but recently, they’ve done quite well.
In the past, developers have gotten all kinds of perks from having their friends in office. They’ve enjoyed lax building code enforcement. They’ve been able to negotiate generous master development agreements that largely bypass the citizen-controlled zoning process. They’ve even been able to get the city to foot the bill for expensive projects like the $13+ million megapark (or megapork) that benefits them more than the city’s existing residents.
Our developers are clearly experts at using other people’s money to make themselves rich. But in order to keep these benefits rolling, they’ve had to become extremely adept at manipulating the political and electoral process in the city.
In 2009 Mayor Heather Jackson was about to lose the general election to Regan Bolli, a local attorney who campaigned as an outsider. In a last minute bid to save her campaign the city’s most unpopular developer reportedly donated $1000 to Bolli’s campaign, which he stupidly accepted, so Jackson could then go around town during the last few days of the campaign claiming that Bolli was in this developer’s pocket.
It worked! She was able to win the election by a few dozen votes. (Later on voters learned that Jackson had actually been a title officer for this developer and had very close ties to him.)
In 2013 I published a widely-read report that documented just a small portion of Jackson’s corruption and she became instantly unelectable, although she refused to acknowledge this. As a result, the Deep State starting working on finding a replacement for her because it wanted to protect its interests. That replacement appears to have been Chris Pengra.
Pengra started off as a tough-as-nails political reformer in the city, who even helped manage this reform-minded website, but once the Deep State recognized the true level of his personal ambition, they quickly turned him into one of their own.
But in order to guarantee his electoral success against the true reform candidate, Robert Schermerhorn, the powers-that-be had to pull out all the stops. It appears they did this through election fraud.
According to a poll watcher’s statement about the 2013 Primary Election, Finn Kofoed, the city recorder and chief election officer, took the last uncounted ballot box of the evening into her private office while the poll watcher was in the bathroom, and proceeded to count it with her departmental employees who were not official poll judges.
Miraculously, when she announced the results Pengra and Jackson both survived the primary and Schermerhorn lost. It appears that about 145 votes were stolen from him and another council candidate, which was enough to cost him the election and guarantee that one of establishment’s candidates would become mayor in the general.
Pengra’s Mysterious Withdrawal
Now to Pengra’s withdrawal. To fully understand how strange an event it is, first you’ve got to understand the magnitude of his ego.
By most accounts, Pengra is the most popular political figure in the city’s history. The city’s Facebook pages are full of his fanatical groupies and the city’s local rag, The Crossroads Journal, gives him nothing but fawning press. (It also protects him by refusing to publish a “Letters to the Editor” section which would contain criticism from the city’s residents.) He’s even been profiled in the LA Times!
So it doesn’t make any sense that Pengra would voluntarily give up his job as mayor to go back to his previous life as a lowly call center supervisor, if that’s what he’s going to do.
What’s even more strange is that he stated in his public announcement that he was originally called of God by the Holy Spirit to run for mayor but that he no longer had that endorsement. (Yes, he really did say that.)
It makes me wonder whether this part of his statement was a Freudian slip.
Think about it for a minute: If you’re an Eagle Mountain politician who worships power, the city’s developers might very well seem like Gods to you. And since Pengra almost surely had their support during his first run for office, maybe he didn’t get it the second time around. Did they ask him to step aside so they could replace him with another candidate who had a better chance of getting elected?
Why would the city’s developers think he couldn’t get reelected? Could it have something to do with his record?
Here are two reports I wrote that document just a portion of his misdeeds in office:
About two months ago I started prepping for the upcoming election fight by compiling a long list of lesser known Pengra scandals that citizens ought to know about before they vote.
Link to draft: http://eagleshare.org/pdfs/Pengra-list-of-sins.pdf
When I emailed this draft to some of my political friends in the city, I also sent them a quick note explaining my intentions to create daily Facebook posts about these items on the city’s political pages for at least a full month before the election.
I was confident that the constant revelations and reminders about Pengra’s true record (with links to backup documentation, of course) would result in his electoral loss. Also, I was pretty sure that the silent majority would not want him back in office even though the press and his political groupies in social media would try to protect him.
A few weeks after I emailed this list to my friends, Pengra unexpectedly withdrew from the race.
I think it’s safe to say that the Deep State already knew that Pengra’s record was so bad that he might very well lose the race, and they would lose their control of the mayor’s office. That’s why I think it probably asked or ordered him not to run for re-election, and why he subsequently endorsed Tom Westmoreland, a favorite of the city’s employees. Pengra is an emotional kind of guy and probably felt jilted after all he did for the city’s developers and wanted to get back at them by running his own candidate.
What’s kind of funny is that the Deep State appears to have been laying the groundwork for his replacement for quite some time even though he may have been completely unaware of it until recently. Earlier this year The Crossroads Journal published an extremely fluffy puff piece on Hooge which was so obsequious it was actually a little embarrassing.
(I can’t find the original article online; it may have been removed to make it look like Hooge wasn’t getting preferential treatment from the paper during the election. The Crossroads Journal receives much of its advertising revenue from the real estate community that has a vested interest in keeping Eagle Mountain developer-friendly, if you know what I mean.)
In essence, Eagle Mountain’s Deep State seems like it’s doing what it does best: playing whack-a-mole with local voters. When we remove or discredit one of their crooked officials at the ballot box, they put up another in its place, over and over again. First, it was with Jackson, then with Pengra, and now with Hooge.
The Debbie Hooge Record
If you have any doubt about Hooge being the Deep State’s preferred candidate this election cycle, take a look at the following excerpt from page 12 of, “A Ride from the Past on a Road to the Future: A History of Eagle Mountain.” (Pay attention to the italicized sections.)
In December 1996, the County Commission appointed Debbie Hooge as the first Mayor of Eagle Mountain. The first council consisted of Nick Berg, John Jacob, Cyril Watt and Diane Bradshaw. Until this time Debbie had been working as the real estate agent for the area north of Walden’s property which was known as Cedar Pass Ranch. She worked with Scott Kirkland, their managing partner, to sell lots in this five-acre-lot subdivision. Nick Berg was one of John Walden’s key employees and had initially brought the Fitzgerald property to his attention. John Jacob, a water developer, and Diane Bradshaw were residents of Cedar Pass Ranch and Cyril Watt was a leader of the CUAB in the Harvest Haven subdivision on the north side of Hwy 73 across from Cedar Pass Ranch. As there were some who asserted that certain leaders may have conflicts of interest, and the “commissioners, saying that they wanted to avoid stacking the deck in favor of Walden’s development company, they rejected Dave Conine, who was a key land planner for Walden, as one of the council members and appointed resident John Jacob instead.”14
Shortly after incorporation, a lawsuit was filed by a Cedar Valley resident who challenged the legitimacy of the town, since the mayor did not yet actually reside in the community at the time of incorporation. There were also questions of conflict of interest raised by residents concerned about members of the council approving developments from which they would personally benefit. After several months, the courts agreed the law was based on “intent” and that Mayor Hooge and the town were legal.
Mayor Hooge, who had been working with the Cedar Pass LLC and Scott Kirkland, left and began working with John Walden, only later to leave John Walden to work with Bob Lynds on developing the land to the east of Cedar Pass Ranch and north of the current Pony Express Pkwy. They would work closely with Cedar Pass LLC and Scott Kirkland again with their recent purchase of the land south of Pony Express Pkwy.
Link to book source: http://eagleshare.org/pdfs/EMC-History-low-res.pdf
Also, check out this link to an excerpt of the city’s infamous master development agreement with its main developer that contains Hooge’s signature.
First page of MDA and signature pages: http://eagleshare.org/pdfs/walden-MDA-sig-pages.pdf
The most unconscionable part of this entire master development agreement is that it basically gave the developer the legal right to plan, inspect and approve his own developments without needing any city approval. This almost completely bypassed the normal checks and balances of local government, which are designed to ensure that developers follow building codes so residents have safe and sound homes.
See pages 7-13 for more details: http://eagleshare.org/pdfs/dev-utopia/DEVELOPER-UTOPIA-2016-10-13.pdf
Do you really want “Deep State Debbie” to be your mayor, again?
(Update: Mayor Pengra just announced his resignation effective August 18th so he can accept a job with Rocky Mountain Power as an economic development director. This is the same company that bought our city’s electrical grid from him while he was mayor. Some would speculate (yes, that means me and a few friends) that he just got a Deep State buyout package.)