Whew! I never knew the mere anticipation of my door hangers being distributed throughout the city could cause so much angst on Facebook!
If you want to see what all the hullaballoo is about, check out the scanned copy of the door hanger below and then read on about why this door hanger is the absolute best way to help clean up the corruption in our city.
While I’ve made it a policy to never respond to personal attacks against me, especially on Facebook, I feel compelled to make a few remarks in defense of the work I’ve been doing to clean up the city’s corruption over the last few years.
When I first started getting involved in city politics in late 2011 I quickly learned that consulting with the city’s officials politely and in private doesn’t work. During this time I contacted our public officials to request that our utility rates be published on our bills, but I was quickly blown off by Mayor Heather Jackson and her administrators who claimed it would cost too much to make this simple change.
Of course, their response was complete hogwash and it made me suspect that they were cheating us somehow by playing fast and loose with our bills. After all, no other utility in the nation that I knew of hid their rates the way Eagle Mountain did.
After this initial failure to bring transparency to our utility bills I decided to change my approach with the city. I decided to get a little snarky and ridicule their lack of transparency in a very public way via my website. But first, I wanted to perform a real analysis of the city’s utility rates to see if I could find out what was really going on.
To my surprise, city residents were paying about 20 percent more for their combined utilities (gas, electric, sewer, water, etc.) than the average Utah County resident. And the natural gas rates they paid were far above the price the city paid for natural gas on the wholesale market. These enormous price differentials amounted to a HUGE stealth tax that made it so the city had lots of extra money rolling in, which government bureaucracies always like.
When I wrote about this and publicly ridiculed the city for its scam, what do you think happened? City residents went online and publicly complained about their high bills for weeks and the city got scared. Shortly after, Mayor Jackson lowered the natural gas rates she charged residents to more accurately reflect the wholesale rates the city actually paid. This saved every one of us hundreds of dollars a year and collectively saved the city’s residents millions. Ifo Pili, the city’s administrator, also reversed course and announced that he would start publishing the utility rates on our bills as soon as possible.
This experience taught me a very important lesson about dealing with corrupt government officials: it’s important to publicly express how you think AND feel when you communicate with them. If you talk to them in private and only do so in a dispassionate way, they will generally blow you off. But if you communicate with them in public and you are passionate about your positions, you can be amazingly effective.
During this current election cycle I decided to try and make even more improvements to the city, but this time around things turned out differently because the crooks were prepared for my assault.
When I finally published my analysis of the city’s credit card spending online in April 2015, the city’s supporters instantly went on the offensive and spent days attacking my character in the “Eagle Mountain City Citizens” Facebook group while almost never discussing the 78 pages of facts and backup documentation that I had published. After this torrid offensive no one else in the city thought it would be productive to publicly discuss the city’s spending online lest they also become the subject of a harassment campaign.
Even though Mayor Pengra has reduced the amount of pork in the city’s budgets since he took office, there are still thousands of dollars left in it for employee food and clothing purchases. And when I asked the city council to remove all of the food money from the city’s budgets–which I thought would be the least controversial request I could make–every single council member declined despite the overwhelming evidence that the city’s employees were still abusing the city’s credit cards. Why?
The answer: no one else but me has publicly and loudly complained about the pork. And without a strong public response against it, Pengra and the council rightly concluded that they could keep eating our money without any consequences, literally. (The council gets free meals too.)
While I totally agree with the silent majority that going online and engaging in a war of words with Pengra’s peanut gallery is totally pointless, we still have to fight them in order to stop their spending. And the best way to do that is to educate voters about the true scope of the problems so they can vote for the toughest council candidates this election cycle.
Since none of our local newspapers have seen fit to cover this massive spending scandal and the following cover-up, the only way we can really influence the election is to bypass them completely and communicate directly with our neighbors. The cheapest and easiest way to do this is with door hangers but they require a lot of work to pass out.
So far, I’ve spent about $1,500 of my own money obtaining copies of the city’s credit card statements and printing up door hangers. I’ve also spent about 1,000 man-hours over the last 18 months compiling all the data and appealing through the state’s law enforcement hierarchy to get some accountability. But so far, we’ve been completely abandoned by the state’s Republican establishment. They don’t want to prosecute any fraud in our city. What this means is that we can’t rely on any outside authority to clean up Eagle Mountain for us; we must win this election and clean it up ourselves.
If you would like to help educate your neighbors about the city’s ongoing corruption by passing out door hangers, please send me an email. If we can get enough people to help, we can quickly cover the whole city and make sure that every voter can make an informed choice on August 11th.
If you do decide to help, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the reaction you’ll get from most of your neighbors. Our city is full of honest people who really want to get rid of the corruption; they just don’t know what to do about it. These door hangers give them something to do and they are usually very grateful for it.
But if you decide to do nothing–as most of the city has done for the last 18 years–this city will continue to remain a cesspool of political corruption and Mayor Pengra and his peanut gallery will continue to dole out your money as pork to the city’s employees and his favorite political constituencies.
It’s your choice.