Friday, June 19, 2015

Moving the Prison and the PRC vs Keep it in Draper

A recent response to someone writing me:

Thanks for writing. I understand some of the frustration, but some of it could be misplaced.

For example, I wrote/asked 3 questions at the PRC meeting at Salt Lake City, but only one was asked. A moderator tried to interpret the questions and sometimes did better than other times. Because there was not an opportunity at any of the 3 public meetings or 1 public hearing to ask questions directly or have follow up question or statements to clarify, many felt like their question was never really asked, let alone answered. Many of the answers were very good, even some I didn't agree with.

The good news is the Utah Legislature can read the questions here, as most of them were not able to be able to attend all 4 meetings. I am glad I was there.

At the Grantsville PRC meeting, I only asked one question. The question was given to one of the outside consultants who had no clue what the answer was, even though it was covered on page 172 in the final report and so he avoided the question. I don't think he did it to be mean.

Someone else asked the same question at Eagle Mountain. Rep. Wilson took the question head on and did a great job of answering it. Basically, the $95 Million in taxes that are expected to be generated each year from a fully developed Commercial Draper site will not be used to pay back the cost of moving the prison as it is likely the development would be commercial office and not retail, so the taxes would be Property Taxes benefiting the city and the local school district and Income Taxes, that benefit education.

Someone else did a good job in answering and pointing out the $1.8 Billion economic effect per year was similar to GDP per year where Utah is doing almost $150 Billion currently (so a small percentage wise) and Utah can now grow more than that in a year now not over the 10 years or 20 years it would take to hit that level after someone invests a $1 Billion of private money at Draper. The person asking the question had argued that 700 Acres couldn't generate 1/10th of our GDP. The good news it can't and won't, (closer to 1%) but it isn't claimed that it will.  (I understand both of those numbers are being looked at by staff).

I was impressed with some of the public questions at PRC meetings. You could tell that many had done their homework and knew the reports, etc. in many cases better than the hired consultants. Some questions were not as helpful as they seemed to target a person not an issue. Some included personal attacks. Most were civil however.

I also understand your frustration, as today I texted KSL radio two questions for the Governor and neither were read, but were combined and changed and then given to the Governor with my name.

I asked:

"From Rep. Fred Cox For the SLC location wetlands will dramatically increase the cost of that location. The other locations have water, sewer and transportation issues. Will you veto any bill to move the prison if those initial reports hold. There are hundreds of acres in Draper to begin rebuilding the prison there."

"From Rep. Fred Cox. Governor Herbert, it appears based on comments from the PRC meetings that transportation, water and sewer costs make the current Draper Prison Site the best to replace the prison. If that remains the case will you veto any bill to move the Draper Prison"

What was asked the Governor was simply if he was going to veto any move to relocate the prison. Not what I asked at all, so how do I fault the Governor for his non certain, too early to tell, answer.?

I do hope the PRC posts the audio/video/statements from the public hearing on Tuesday. I also hope the public Q&A is posted. Perhaps they are.

The first statements from the Public hearing on Tuesday that included the Salt Lake City representatives and other locations were very specific, prepared, and in my opinion, destroyed any reason to move the prison.

The PRC members are pretty smart and will have in the future clarifications and other reasons and answers to back up the non-binding decision to move the prison from the resolution last year.

Remember no one is perfect. We all have strengths and weaknesses. While the public meetings and hearing were not perfect, I know our staff spent many long hours to make them as best as they could.

Again, thank you for your passion.  I believe Rep. Wilson held his temper really well and did a good job of answering the moderated questions he got.  Even though I don't agree with him on a few issues, he has my respect, as do the other PRC members.

The couple of architects that I know that have experience in this area are more interested in designing the buildings if they win the future RFP and didn't want to be involved in this phase. I am sure that limits the choices for consultants.

Fred C. Cox
House District 30
West Valley City