A group called Citizens for Better Leadership and Planning have taken a last minute stand against the projected new $125 million Salt Lake City cop shop on the ballot as Proposition 1, to be decided during the November 3rd, 2009 general election. Media story published by KSL Channel 5. Previous posts HERE and HERE.
-- Official information about Proposition 1 HERE.
-- General Salt Lake City November 3rd election information HERE.
In their press release, the citizens group acknowledges that a majority of voters do favor replacing the existing Public Safety Building simply because the existing facility is becoming more decrepit, but that a growing number of supporters oppose the preferred site at the Barnes Bank Block on 300 East, diagonally across from Library Square. The most recent Dan Jones poll shows the bond would pass if the election took place now, with 60 percent of respondents either definitely or probably in favor of it (a September Dan Jones poll also showed 60 percent support). The citizens group claims the city is trying to get voters to buy a pig in a poke by refusing to release all the details of the project before the election. They want the selection process to be conducted with full transparency, public discourse, and, above all, full disclosure of the possible alternatives and lower cost options before a vote. Eight other prospective locations for the proposed facility previously discussed and highlighted on this Salt Lake Tribune map were rejected; they are listed below:
-- 7/11 northeast corner of 300 South and 400 East (this has been considered the primary alternative)
-- Burger King northeast corner of 300 South and 200 East
-- State Office of Education 500 South midway between 200 East and 300 East
-- Garff dealership 500 South midway between State St and 200 East
-- Chamber of Commerce parking lot southwest corner of 400 South and State St
-- Health Department property 600 South halfway between State St and 200 East
-- Youth City southeast corner of 2100 South and 700 East (near Sugar House)
-- Holding parking lot Main Street halfway between 400 South and 500 South
Consequently, Citizens for Better Leadership and Planning is calling for the elimination of the 300 East location from consideration for the new public safety compound, a new and transparent selection process, consideration of other alternate sites already identified, and a more cost-effective solution for an Emergency Operations Center that places less tax burden on the average Salt Lake resident and small business.
Proposition 1 has picked up another high-profile opponent; former mayor Rocky Anderson. The City Weekly reported on October 28th that Anderson opposes the bond for two reasons. First, he says that government buildings are dead and dreary at night, and that the corner would better be used for condos, restaurants, boutiques and other things that bring life to downtown. Second, if Proposition 1 passes, Anderson contends that many large beneficiaries of public safety won’t have to pay for their share. Although the average owner of a $250,000 home will pay about $75 in taxes per year toward the bond and the average business owner will pay $522 per year, nonprofits, hospitals and churches will pay zero. To correct this disparity, Anderson recommends the creation of a special service district to more uniformly spread the obligation. Special-service districts can charge fees for services to entities that are otherwise tax exempt. Current mayor Ralph Becker considered this idea, but rejected it because he was unsure of the legality. He claims the city can’t create a special-service district only to fund the bond because “the building of the [facility] is not a ‘service’ unto itself”.
On the other hand, two other former Salt Lake mayors, Palmer DePaulis and Deedee Corandini, have both expressed public support for Prop 1, although it should be noted that Corandini had a reputation for being a bit of a fruitcake when she was mayor.
But there's also another reason to oppose Prop 1. Back in April, Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank said his department was going to refuse to enforce the controversial SB81 immigration bill. However, his objection wasn't merely economic; there was also political correctness involved. Burbank was concerned that illegal aliens might be scared to report crimes against them to the police. Later on, Rep. Chris Herrod (R-Provo) accused SLCPD of providing misleading information on Salt Lake crime; follow-up indicated that SLCPD was trying to under-represent Hispanic crime. This means Chris Burbank may be unfit to serve as police chief for deliberately refusing to enforce the law. A "No" vote on Prop 1 will tell Ralph Becker that he can either have Chris Burbank OR a new cop shop, but he can't have both.