Tag Archives: corporate greed

H.B. 218: Municipal Disincorporation and Powder Mountain

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Powder Mountain residents are up in arms. As well they should be. A developer has created and incorporated “Powderville” without surrounding resident’s input, resulting in a lawsuit that has reached the Utah Supreme Court. Established residents and legislators are speaking out and taking action.

House Legislative District 8 Representative Gage Froerer will be soon introduce legislation (Senator Allen Christensen is the Senate co-sponsor) designed to remove the requirement for a 24-month waiting period prior to a municipal disincorporation election, allowing the voters of the town to decide immediately whether or not a town is in the best interest of the majority of citizens and property owners. This may prove to be the best solution for prospective ”Powderville” citizens in a practical sense, provided that Mssrs. Froerer and Christensen can rustle up the necessary votes. For those readers who’d like to chime in with their support for this legislation, we’ll offer several avenues by which our readers can take action.

Read the rest of the story in the Weber County Forum here

Foreign Nuclear Waste: House members now being touted as “anti-American jobs”

Never mind the fact that nuclear waste poses a serious health threat to everyone and everything on our planet. If the U.S. does not accept the 20,000 tons of N-waste to Tennessee wtih 1600 of it coming to Utah, the entire economy will be undermined.

So says Energy Solutions and its advocates in the U.S. House, according to an article in today’s Salt Lake Tribune, reporting the overwhelming vote by the House to keep the waste out of the U.S.

"We are not surprised by today’s vote," EnergySolutions President Val Christensen said in a statement. "We are disappointed that the House of Representatives voted to place American jobs at risk."

I think what they meant to say was that it will hurt their corporate profits.

The next move will be from the Senate…..if they ever move to get a co-sponsor and take action. Neither Utah Senators have made any such moves.

Makes sense since, according to the article, Senator Bennett has ties to Energy Solutions Pollutions.

Vanessa Pierce, executive director of the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah, says the Senate was likely just waiting for the House to give its nod before moving on its waste importation bill. Pierce and others now want Utah Sens. Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch, both Repubicans, to lend their support to the measure.
Neither Utahn is a cosponsor of the bill. And Bennett, up for reelection in 2010, already has accepted about $50,000 in campaign donations from EnergySolutions.

Opponents of the bill say that it is anti-American jobs and trade.

Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida argued against the bill during a brief House debate Wednesday. He called it an "anti-jobs, anti-trade" bill that would undermine economic recovery.

"In effect, this bill is going to hurt businesses in their area of trying to create jobs and promote economic growth," Stearns said.

But Congressman Matheson, D-Utah, says otherwise:

Matheson disputed that premise, noting that it would actually preserve disposal space for domestic businesses.

"I don’t know of any other country that takes imported waste," Matheson said. "For trade to exist, you have goods and services going in both directions. Not just in one. I don’t understand how this in any way can be described as a restraint of trade."

The fight isn’t over. It will be interesting to see how the Senate addresses this bill, if it does. If the corporations profiting from the potential influx of foreign waste get their way, what’s to stop them from pushing for higher levels of waste being imported? Where will the line be drawn? What has to happen for all of our politicians to wake up? In the meantime, engage in the comments on the Tribune site, lobby your legislators, write letters, take a stand and have your voice heard. Don’t let the corporate monsters scare you into thinking, with their greedy spin, that accepting the foreign waste will further hurt America’s economy. What it will do is further hurt Americans with more health risks. Who will pay for the care, then of those that get ill from more potential exposure?

The New Generation of College Republicans

On The Seventh Anniversary of 9/11

This came across my email desk from the group Peaceful Tomorrows, a group of families of victims in the World Trade Center Bombings on September 11, 2001, that formed just after that horrific tragedy to turn their grief into action.  Here is there message today on teh 7th anniversary of that incident:

September 11, 2008

Dear Members, Friends and Supporters of Peaceful Tomorrows,

The experience of yet another anniversary of 9/11 provides an occasion to reflect upon the hopes and beliefs that brought the members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows together. In response to the terrorist attacks that killed our family members, we never wanted wars of retaliation that would cause the deaths of innocent civilians in other nations. We never wanted hunger for revenge to lead America to violate international law, abandon Constitutional rights, or engage in torture.

We united to turn our grief into action for peace, believing that it is possible to break the cycles of violence caused by terrorism and war.  And over the past months, from Capitol Hill to Iraqi Kurdistan and beyond we have raised our voices in support of nonviolence, human rights and the rule of law.

Guantanamo Bay Detention Center

In July, Peaceful Tomorrows members traveled to DC to lobby Congress about the need to end the abuses at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center and rededicate the U.S. to principles of international justice. We are currently working with human rights allies at Witness Against Torture and Center for Constitutional Rights to craft a multi-faceted campaign to shut down Guantánamo within the first 100 days of the new administration.  We believe it can be done!

Perhaps the most hopeful work we are doing is our campaign to support the courageous and inspiring Iraqi peace and nonviolence activists of LaOnf.  LaOnf (which roughly translates as "nonviolence" in Arabic) is a network of over 100 Iraqi civil society organizations working to promote "nonviolence as the most effective way to struggle for an independent, democratic, and peaceful Iraq."

In August Peaceful Tomorrows members Terry Rockefeller and Adele Welty met with LaOnf members in Erbil, Kurdistan as they planned activities for their 2008 Week of Nonviolence.  In support of LaOnf’s efforts, Peaceful Tomorrows has launched a public education campaign to inform American citizens and policymakers about these Iraqi women and men who have endured repression, invasion and occupation yet remain committed to nonviolence. In October, Peaceful Tomorrows will help communities across the U.S. to show solidarity with the LaOnf activists.  You can find out more at www.peacefultomorrows.org, where you can sign up to organize or attend a screening of a documentary about LaOnf in your area.

Military Commissions

Peaceful Tomorrows members have been featured in news stories about the controversy surrounding the U.S. government’s prosecution of 9/11 suspects in military tribunals. As a partner in the American Civil Liberties Union’s John Adams Project, Peaceful Tomorrows supports fair trials for all people, regardless of the charges they face. We will continue to speak out against the military commissions, making clear how they embody a legal process that has been compromised by political interference and stripped of the minimum of defendants’ rights and protections that define fair trials.

As support for war in Iraq decreases, there are disturbing calls to increase U.S. troops to Afghanistan. Peaceful Tomorrows is categorically opposed to the idea that we can win a "War on Terror." War IS terror. We need instead to invest in programs that address the root causes of violence and terrorism. Peaceful Tomorrows has been actively working to bring Afghanistan to the forefront of the U.S. peace movement. With our allies at United for Peace and Justice, we are developing web-based materials that will prepare U.S. peace activists to effectively challenge the calls for increased military engagement in Afghanistan.

As we prepare ourselves for the work ahead, we are grateful for your loyal support.  Please help us to continue our work by making a generous donation to Peaceful Tomorrows today.  You can donate online at this link.

And please, go to our website at http://www.peacefultomorrows.org where you will find more information about the projects of  Peaceful Tomorrows and our members, including a link to the newly launched website of the International Network for Peace, a global network of victims of terrorism, genocide, atomic weapons, occupation and war who have chosen to work for nonviolent solutions to conflict.

We look forward to hearing from you.

In peace and hope,

September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Halliburton poisoning US occupation forces in Iraq

This 4 minute video describes how Halliburton is poisoning the troops in Iraq through their water supply.

The Voucher saga

The Utah Supreme court recently determined that an amendment to the voucher bill was not enough to stand alone as the law which would dictate that Utah schools distribute tax-supported vouchers to parents to want to send their children to private schools.  In other words, the people will determine that in a vote in November.

I find it interesting that pro-voucher groups like Parents for Choice in Education spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to push the voucher bill through this past year’s legislature and to oppose the petition drive for a referendum allowing the people to vote in November on the issue.   Why would anyone or any group oppose having the vote and voice of the people making the decisions?

According to an editorial in the Salt Lake City Weekly by Holly Mullen, a good chunk of the money for this group’s efforts came from out of state interests connected to Amway and WalMart. 

Hmmm….vouchers don’t have anything to do with the interests of right-wing rich people, do they?  Right….

Voucher post on Dee’s Dotes
Fall election will decide fate of Utah vouchers
Voters will decide fate of school vouchers, court says
Vouch for Us (opinion)

Next time somone callse me a Hippie….

….I’m going to say, “Damn right!” and hand them this article:

In his piece, The Hippies Were Right, Mark Morford explains how the ’60’s counterculture values laid the groundwork for much of the “to-do” nowadays over our planet:

There is but one conclusion you can draw from the astonishing (albeit fitful, bittersweet) pro-environment sea change now happening in the culture and (reluctantly, nervously) in the halls of power in D.C., one thing we must all acknowledge in our wary, jaded, globally warmed universe: The hippies had it right all along. Oh yes they did.

You know it’s true. All this hot enthusiasm for healing the planet and eating whole foods and avoiding chemicals and working with nature and developing the self? Came from the hippies. Alternative health? Hippies. Green cotton? Hippies. Reclaimed wood? Recycling? Humane treatment of animals? Medical pot? Alternative energy? Natural childbirth? Non-GMA seeds? It came from the granola types (who, of course, absorbed much of it from ancient cultures), from the alternative worldviews, from the underground and the sidelines and from far off the goddamn grid and it’s about time the media, the politicians, the culture as a whole sent out a big, wet, hemp-covered apology.

Morford goes on to point out the many, many issues and issue-based projects that are rooted in the hippie culture. He has a very enlightening (is that a hippie term?) way of bringing to light what hippies have done for our world today.

It was, always and forever, about connectedness. It was about how we are all in this together. It was about resisting the status quo and fighting tyrannical corporate/political power and it was about opening your consciousness and seeing new possibilities of how we can all live with something resembling actual respect for the planet, for alternative cultures, for each other. You know, all that typical hippie crap no one believes in anymore. Right?

Yup. Peace. Love. Planetary respect. Resisting corporate power. I’m a hippie. And proud of it.
(And yes, I have a job!)

Sugarhouse, continued

 I have been posting about the demise of Sugarhouse’s Granite Block.  Today’s Deseret news continues reporting about this saga in its post, Redevelopment worries Sugar House:  Residents ask City Council to save area’s eclectic feel
Councilman Sorensen is an advocate for saving the businesses and look and feel of that block, I’m not sure how that will help the businesses currently located there, because.they have all been given eviction notices and will have to be out by around July 1st. 
By Doug Smeath
Deseret Morning News

      SUGAR HOUSE ? Sugar House fans on Tuesday begged the Salt Lake City Council to save their eclectic neighborhood from a development they worry will bring a dulling down of a vibrant community.
      The council, meeting at Sugar House’s Nibley Park Elementary School for its monthly neighborhood outreach meeting, heard from about a dozen people Tuesday evening ? and received a thick stack of comment cards from scores more. Most wanted to talk about the intersection of 2100 South and Highland Drive.
      The block to the southwest of that intersection, known as the Granite block, is home to several unique local businesses ? the Free Speech Zone, Artopia, Blue Boutique, Orion’s Music, Sugar House Coffee, Pib’s Exchange and others ? but many residents and business owners worry plans for a redevelopment of the area will do away with its funky feel.
      In December 2005, the council approved a zoning change on the block to allow for buildings as tall as seven or eight stories. Landowners, including Craig Mecham Management and California-based Red Mountain Retail Group, say they have plans to upgrade the area, though details have not yet been announced. In February, businesses on the block began receiving eviction notices.
      Orion’s Music owner Andrew Fletcher on Tuesday said the zoning change “steamrolled over the wishes of the neighborhood.”
      One woman, who lives farther west in Salt Lake City but said she regularly shops on the Granite block, asked, “Why do we need to rip down that nice little Haight-Ashbury-type of street to put up more office space and more retail space that is not going to be used?”
      Landowners hoping to redevelop the Granite block have told the Deseret Morning News they have no intention to change the area’s mood ? in fact, they hope to enhance it ? and that they need to give it a face-lift because some buildings are out of shape.
      Eric Nelson of Red Mountain said his plans would see “90 to 95 percent” of the area’s buildings renovated but remaining where they are.
      The developers say the local businesses currently located there could be part of the new development, but many business owners say they doubt they’ll be able to afford it.
      Simonsen, who tried unsuccessfully to revisit the zoning change shortly after taking office a little more than a year ago, has said he doubts the redevelopment can be stopped. But that doesn’t mean the city can’t guide it in a way that would preserve its character.
      On Tuesday, he asked the council to consider a handful of possible actions and received tentative support for his ideas.
      Among them would be looking into ways to make use of a citywide study of historical areas currently under way. The study, expected to be finished in about a year, will point out areas that need protection as historic, and Simonsen wants to be ready with ways to respond if the Granite block is named one of those historic areas.
      The council was generally receptive to the idea, and it will be addressed in more detail at a future meeting.
      Simonsen also wants the city to consider aiding local businesses currently on the block with loans or grants that would help them reopen on the block once it is redeveloped.
      He said “various elements” of that idea will be presented to the council in the coming months.
      Councilman Dave Buhler said money similarly doled out in the past was typically to help offset city action, such as light-rail construction work, so the idea in this case might be a little unusual. Still, he said he was supportive of the concept.
      “Sugar House is vital, not just to the neighborhood but to our city,” Councilman Eric Jergensen said, adding the city will find ways to protect it.

E-mail: dsmeath@desnews.com

(Heel of Hand to Head)It’ Not Community, Stupid – It’s All About the Money! (Sugarhouse, cont’d)

Owner/Developer Craig Meachum is evicting local merchant tenants from their building in a matter of months.  Meachum owns the building outright, yet claims it’s “his turn” since he supposedly has given these businesses “a break” (see article below).  His “turn” for what?  He not only owns that block, he also owns high rise buildings east of that block.  This seems to me like the same old story – the rich getting richer at the expense of those who strive to build small, local-based community.    So…….


Patronize the businesses that are being forced to move from historic Sugarhouse!

Beginning the first Saturday in April, the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month there will be a merchant festival until July when the businesses have to leave.

“We are going to make this a Wake instead of a Funeral” – Andy Fletcher of Orion’s Music

Here are links to recent articles and interviews:


Bottomline Rewind: Master Plan and Zoning at Odds in Sugar House

Mar 12, 2007 by Lara Jones

Successful Small Biz Fall Victim to Redevelopment

(KCPW News) Today’s Bottomline panel talked about changes in the Sugar House business district. Concentrated on the southwest corner of 2100 S. and 1100 E., a new round of redevelopment may see neighborhood favorites like Orion’s Music, Luna’s Italian Ice and the Free Speech Zone close as property owners demolish and rebuild a mixed-use project featuring ground-floor retail with offices and residential condominiums in their place. While the old merchants are welcome in the new project, the higher rents owners will be able to charge will most likely prevent them from staying. Salt Lake City Councilman Soren Simonsen, whose district includes Sugar House, says the area suffers from a disconnect between master plan goals and current zoning — with small businesses paying the price:


Sugar House Developer Says ‘It’s My Turn’

Mar 13, 2007 by Lara Jones

Media Unfairly Painting Him Unsympathetic to Small Biz

(KCPW News) The Sugar House business district is experiencing another wave of redevelopment, which means small locally-owned businesses clustered at the intersection of 2100 South and 1100 East face expulsion as property owners and real estate investors take advantage of a hot economy. In the process, developer Craig Meacham says he’s been unfairly portrayed by the media as someone out to make a buck at the expense of small businesses:

“I’ve tried to be very fair and equitable with these tenants; many of these tenants have been there for an extended period of time at a reduced rate,” says Meacham. “I think that I’ve been more than fair with these tenants and if their business plan is going to work, they know by now. So I kind of feel that it’s my turn, frankly.”

Meacham has owned a stretch of buildings on the west side of 1100 East, south of 2100 South, for the last 15 years. He says he’s seen business go through several up and down cycles, and now is the right time to redevelop his property:

“We anticipate taking down this property – which is very old, very dilapidated and frankly needs to come down – and we want to replace it with something much nicer. It would be an office complex and some condominiums, and retail on the ground floor.”

Rents will be much higher, Meacham admits, meaning many current tenants won’t be able to afford it. He still needs to finalize construction plans and go through the city permitting process, but Meacham says he hopes to begin demolishing property by summer or fall of this year. As a result, many merchants are getting eviction notices.

The Eviction of Sugarhouse Shops – Support the “Buy-cot”

They knew it was coming.

About a month ago the Craig Mecham of Mecham Management, owner of a building that houses the heart of Sugharhouse businesses, dropped off eviction notices to those businesses and then left town for two weeks. The area is being redevloped to allow for chain stores to barge their way in and 8 story high buildings to be built, changing the entire look and feel of Sugarhouse as we know it.

In the Deseret News articleSugar House shops forced out, Orion Music Store, Andy Fletcher, owner and other Sugarhouse business owners say this was inevitable and is devastating, but shop owners are facing the music: It’s time to move on. It is likely that some businesses will not be able to survive this change. Fletcher has indicated that Orion Music is facing an end to its business.

To that end, Fletcher has called for a “buy-cot” of these businesses.

“Rather than having a funeral for Sugar House and bemoaning the fact that it’s going away — because it is going away, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it now. The decisions have been made, and the wheels are in motion — I’m advocating a ‘buy-cot,”‘ Fletcher said. “We’re inviting the public to come down, and we’ll have live music and information available so that people understand not just what happened, but where people are moving. It’ll be a festival, not a funeral. “If people want to help, if they want to do something, they should come down and buy that CD they’ve been wanting. They should buy that cup of coffee or that Italian ice, or that card from Blue Boutique. Because if it’s not financially a possibility for these businesses to move, they’ll close. But if they have some money in their pocket, and they know that the people around them will support them when they move, I’d say that most of them will continue to look very hard at finding a solution.”

I spend a lot of time in that area since my friend and sister radical cheerleader owns the radical infoshop, Free Speech Zone there, where we have are practices and where I help organize film showings and other events. I’m still having a hard time knowing that in a matter of months we will no longer have that place to do these things. I really like Fletcher’s call to action to make a bad situation into a good one for the affected businesses.