Draper City’s Abuse of Power that would make Washington proud!

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The Draper City council steamrolled it’s citizens last night with an abusive display of power and disdain for its own residents with a series of political moves that one would expect from Washington, not your city council.

I was able to attend the city council meeting last night in Draper, Utah.   I am not a resident of this city, however circumstances brought me to this meeting that I had previously not planned to attend.  While sitting in this room I listened as one resident after another stood to speak in regards to a proposed street project along a rural and historical stretch of Draper City. 

The common theme throughout this meeting from the residents, one they were all in agreement with, was that this stretch of roadway needed to be widened with a sidewalk, curb and gutter.  Apparently with a new elementary school nearby, many children were forced to walk along a section of this street with no sidewalk on their way to and from school.

The issue the residents were raising with Mayor Troy Walker (who was elected in November and had served as a city council member since 2008) and the city council was the amount of widening the city wanted to perform upon this section of roadway. Here are the bullet points of the meeting that I gathered while listening to this debate:

  • The City Council wants to widen the road wider than any other in the neighborhood, removing very old trees that line the roadway,  destroying historical integrity of the area and taking residents property through eminent domain.
  • Many residents in the area expressed concern that the wider project would make it impossible to park in their own driveways as the roadway would encroach to their front door.
  • Every resident who spoke out in this meeting that live along this area would prefer the street be widened to match others in the neighborhood.  This proposal would keep the trees and help preserve the historical integrity in this community.
  • Last October PRIOR to the elections the city council voted to place a citizens advisory and review board over this project to gain input and solutions from the residents.  The review board and residents unanimously approved of the project with the same size streets as currently within the neighborhood and preserving the integrity of the community.
  • The Citizens also raised the issue that with a wider road in a residential neighborhood that it would create an increased speeding problem in the area adjacent to the elementary school.
  • The city council has not taken any of the citizens concerns into consideration since the vote in October PRIOR to the elections was taken
  • The city council voted UNANIMOUSLY to move forward with the wider project, destroying the neighborhood, its trees and it’s residents property values.
  • The City attorney was admonished by the city council to begin litigation against any resident who stood in the way of this project beginning immediately.

The gamesmanship of this Mayor and it’s city council to appear cooperative in this issue with its residents simply to win the election and then steamroll this project through WITHOUT approval from it’s residents whom they are supposed to represent is appalling. 

From an outsiders viewpoint, yet one who has wonderful fond memories of Draper as a child, the proposal from the residents is far more logical, appealing and reasonable. The proposal from the residents is much safer for the children, preserves the community and comes with a lesser cost to widen as well as maintain the roadway and increased greenbelt in the long term.

The vile this city council showed towards it’s residents left me wondering what do these individual city council members stand to gain in this process.  What is the personal payoff for these elected officials to so boldly violate the trust and the will of the residents who elected them?  Why the admonition of the city council to the city attorney to begin litigation against those residents opposed to this project who will be directly impacted from the despicable actions of this city council?

I believe that the residents of Draper should unite in a recall election of these individuals and remove them from office immediately.  If these individuals are willing to violate the trust they have been given, what will be their next abuse of power?  All Draper residents should be deeply worried.

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31 thoughts on “Draper City’s Abuse of Power that would make Washington proud!

  1. I am a long-time Draper resident and have deep family roots here. I have attended only a couple of city council meetings over the years and have become very disheartened for the exact reasons that you have listed here. I am convinced that once the City of Draper decides they are going to do something, there is no changing their minds. They hold a meeting and pretend to listen to the residents concerns, but it is only a technicality. They have NO intention of changing their minds at that point. It has made me become jaded to the political process and quite honestly it has made me stop caring about all things Draper. I grew up here and it absolutely breaks my heart to see what has happened here. I know the stretch of road you are referring to – I drive up it everyday. That road IS old Draper! What a shame it would be to year down those trees and houses for a wider road. I have heard that during peak times of the day (school drop-off and pick-up), traffic is an absolute nightmare on that road. But during the other 23 hours of the day, it’s very quiet and peaceful there. Is it really worth destroying this piece of history for the ‘convenience’ of a few hundred carpool drivers? Apparently it is. Shame on Draper City!

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    • I hope that all of you that are disgusted with your mayor and council get off or your duff and do something about it rather than roll over and play dead. Evil wins when good men do nothing. Don’t be deceived into thinking you are powerless.

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  2. Just the thought of any people’s representative abusing the power this obviously is bothersome. Where do I sign up?? Makes me want to run for City Council. I wouldn’t put up with this kind of behavior no matter what my bribe or pay-off is. It’s OBVIOUSLY a case of being paid off somehow… somewhere. Makes me want to step in and shake things up with straight on common sense and demand that the citizens make the choices… NO MATTER WHAT!!!

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    • This is the email I just sent to the Mayor…
      ———————————————————–
      Mayor,

      I’ve just read a very troubling blog concerning you and the city council… found at https://jisbell22.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/draper-citys-abuse-of-power-that-would-make-washington-proud/

      I’m beyond disappointed as a resident of Draper, Utah. Obviously there is something going on with some type of mislead and probably very illegal agenda. To not hear one damn thing or take it under consideration from the obvious masses (Draper residents living in the area concerned) and go ahead with such pathetic actions without license by way of “the people” is sad to say the least.

      Please respond to me and let me know what I’m missing here. It’s your obligation to listen to us all. It’s your duty! Don’t forget that!

      Regards,
      Christian Jensen

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      • I would just simply add… That as I have been a Draperite my whole life, I put your ass in office and I will vote it OUT!!!!! Just wait and see what happens next election if we can’t recall your ass first!!! THUMBS DOWN!!!!

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  3. Just like the government, all they care about is money. They expand draper to increase the population within the city, the more people the more money. What their main focus comes down to is not about preserving but increase in growth and expansion for more people and their money. They may see it as progression but I see it as destroying. Those who have lived in draper for a while are well aware of how fast it has grown but that doesn’t mean the history of draper can’t grow with its new residences. People have a hard time with change and I can understand that it’s hard to accept some of the changes that occur. Life is not always fair but these are people’s properties and memories! The city does not see their citizens opinions as a concern and are putting their own priorities first. Compare this situation to boss and his/her employees. If you take care of your employees, they will do the same in return. You do not disrespect your older employees for potential of new employees. Their priorities show based upon their actions. I do not know all of the facts but there seems to be an alternative option they could try to negotiate on, if they are willing, instead of making a harsh decision. … This situation reminds me of the movie Up in a certain way.

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  4. Sounds like the problem the citizens of Draper (myself included) had when trax came through our neighborhoods and backyards. Reading this post made my blood boil! It’s the exact same way we were treated when trying to get any action, negotiation or resolution to happen. We were completely disregarded. They did exactly as they wanted without the least bit of care or concern for the residents. And I’m sure the case is the same with this city council, if trax or a hugely widened street affected their home- it would NOT happen. And don’t even get me started on the removal of trees. Disgraceful!

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  5. Good luck Draper citizens. We had a situation in Pleasant Grove where the mayor and council wanted to build a new Fire Station. The citizens got so upset that it was put on a Ballot, and eventually the majority of the citizens won and the city council lost per se. Hopefully you can get this issue on a ballot.
    Good Luck

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  6. Sounds like the same problem we have here in Sandy. I live behind the Walmart of off 90 th south and instead of a regional park we now have three big boxes and the largest parking lot in the state. Im sure the major and the city council are profiting of if it. Most of them are developers, in fact there was a study done that showed that the majority of city councils in america are land developers and they are only interested in lining their pockets . Fight for your community , if you dont it will be changed forever.

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  7. Draper citizens and businesses banded together in a united effort to remove building a $40 million “recreation center” bond off the ballot. Before we “won” the battle, I was told by Troy Walker, “You’re just lucky you get to vote on it.” I wish Phil Shell would have won the election for Mayor, for many reason, but simply because he … isn’t Troy Walker or anything like Troy Walker. The citizens and the businesses that stood together were successful in taking the unnecessary $40 million bond off the ballot. I’m willing to join the charge. Tell me when and where.

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    • You have obviously missed the point of this blog.
      This blog is not about a side of the story. This blog is about the absolute abuse of power that happened during that city council meeting. The Draper City Council and Mayor failed to act upon or listen to the very citizens board that they put in place and then used to Gestapo like tactics to threaten to the citizens of their own city in hopes of intimidating them with the threat of legal action. The cities attempts to intimidate its residents is absolutely appalling. There is absolutely no other side that could ever make sense of that type of threats and harassment. its intimidation and bullying at its finest by elected officials.

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    • Maybe Wanderer67 can explain the other side of the story, because believe me we researched that Bond and all the information – we had to act swiftly and boldly for the City Council and Mayor (Smith) to get the message. I was shocked then at Walker’s arrogance, but nothing from him will shock me now. During a “Meet the Candidates Night,” before the election, Mr. Walker took credit for removing the Bond from the ballot. Like jisbell22 said, it’s appalling what this City Council and Mayor are doing to Draper. If only a few more people had voted for Phil Shell we would have a Mayor with integrity and sincere concern for Draper. In regards to this new issue, I’m all for helping stop the abuse.

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    • The other side of the story is that the Engineer works for the city council, not the People of Draper, and has done and will do whatever he is told to do. The city Engineer met with a group of residents and agreed with them on a major compromise – then the Council ignored the new proposal because they couldn’t come to an agreement about which things they wanted to narrow or do away with, separate from the agreement reached by the residents and the engineer. Jeff Stenquist said in a meeting with these residents things like, “we’re gonna’ do it anyway, and there’s nothing you can do about it”. When asked why a park strip was needed he said, “I just think they’re important”, and when pressed he admitted, “I don’t want to drive down a street without a park strip.” This isn’t about a need for a wider road because the residents agree that certain amenities are needed and they have never fought the idea that a sidewalk is a great idea; a curb and gutter – likewise. This is about how public servants are serving themselves, not the public.
      The other side of the story is that the city council knows they can get away with just about whatever they want because there is virtually no recourse for the People and the People tend to have very short memories – we can only handle so much cognitive dissonance at a time, so we forget to keep fighting and the corrupt get re-elected, again, and again, and again.

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  8. I live a block away from the street discussed. The city has looked at this street for a long time, studying and discussing what to do. We were surprised that something wasn’t done last year. when the middle and high school opened. Perhaps it was because they were studying the issue more completely. There is traffic backed up for a full block or two everyday in the morning as kids are dropped off and every afternoon as parents pick up kids from school. It is the only street giving access to the drop off for a charter elementary and a charter middle school and one of the only access streets to the public middle school and on the way to the high school. Elementary through high school students walk along the street in the morning and the afternoon. I think the only citizens who showed up were the one who were very upset with the ruling. The rest of us in the neighborhood know that things need to be improved for the safety of our children and for traffic and air quality. It’s tough to be in leadership. When it’s a unanimous decision it makes me think they have studied it long enough and feel there’s only one solution.

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    • You’re forgetting – the orignal vote to condemn the eastern portion of the street wasn’t unanimous. There are other options which the City Council is ignoring even after they submitted a letter to the residents saying that it would be done before construction began on their street. One member of the council owns land adjacent to, or with frontage on, this very alternative. The Draper City Council very duplicitous.

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  9. Very well said, I might add. And I agree with you that safety is important. I wonder why they don’t fix Pioneer Road from the roundabout eastward. That road scares me daily. There is something to be said for keeping things more narrow to discourage speeding, but we do need sidewalks. However, I still agree that some on this City Council and especially the Major do abuse their power, which is what the primary point of this person’s blog was. We all need to be more involved in keeping in check those we elect to represent us.

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  10. What KA, and Wanderer seem to be forgetting, is the citizens, who showed up and were completely ignored, and threatened with legal action, are for widening the streets as well. Just not to the point of tearing down decades old, and older, beautiful trees. Also not to the point of, stealing peoples property, and driveways. I guarantee if you were a resident on the street in question, instead of a block over, you would feel differently.
    Also, a lot of this is for the good of the kids, walking along that street to school and back. Whether you agree or not it is a fact, that adding width and lanes to a street, result in significantly higher average speeds. Regardless of the speed limit. If you’ve ever done a traffic study, they’re very enlightening. Unfortunately, the only study that could be done right now, can only indicate what traffic and pedestrians are doing at this time. However, their are plenty of studies one can look up, to verify what I’m mentioning. Take a look.
    Overall though, if you feel that the strong-arm tactics, and total disregard of those residents directly involved, that took the time to show up, that the city council has demonstrated in this matter is merited. You might be more happy moving to a country, matching Stalin Era Russia. Personally, I am living in a Democracy for a reason.

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    • We live in neither Stalin era Russia nor in a democracy. We elect our representatives to study the issues and make the best decision for the long term benefit of the entire community which is what they’ve done in this case. Unfortunately sometimes that has a negative impact on a few. The vast majority of property owners on this street have reached agreements with the city but only a small handful have dug in their heels and are trying to stop or significantly delay the project. This is why the power of eminent domain was established and seems justified in this circumstance.

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      • Why not ask those who have settled with the city why they settled? The city Attorney never disclosed the full process nor the full rights of the Residents to them when he met with them – the city made drastically under-valued offers to the residents. “It’s a good business strategy”, I’ll admit, but the Constitution mandates just compensation, not 1/3 valued compensation based on incomparable properties.
        It’s not a question of whether the street should be improved, it’s a question of what those improvements should be – as I have demonstrated above, the city council ignored the amended recommendation of their own engineer and the People affected and went with what admittedly, they wanted, not what was needed for safety and ease of travel – and in the process they are taking private property. That used to be called stealing at the point of a gun (because the Police will enforce it with guns), now it’s called Eminent Domain.

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  11. It’s truly sad about those beautiful trees, but I think this street definitely needs to be widened as there are significant safety issues for all the children attending the schools on and near those streets.

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    • There are HUGE safety problems in SunCrest where three bus stops of kids are dropped off without crosswalks etc. and not only did Bill Colbert tell a resident the city was not liable, he went further to say that the city would have liability looking into a safety concern! All of it I saw on Facebook! The city had a meeting to inform SunCrest residents that they are building a $1Million+ Salt Dome sub-station with taxes ONLY SunCrest residents pay, and questions that were brought by residents were not answered but they told residents to e-mail them.

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  12. There are HUGE safety problems in SunCrest where three bus stops of kids are dropped off without crosswalks etc. and not only did Bill Colbert tell a resident the city was not liable, he went further to say that the city would have liability looking into a safety concern! All of it I saw on Facebook! The city had a meeting to inform SunCrest residents that they are building a $1Million+ Salt Dome sub-station with taxes ONLY SunCrest residents pay, and questions that were brought by residents at the meeting were not answered. They told residents to e-mail them to the City. The Special Service District money is burning a hole in their pocket!

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  13. This is water under the bridge at this point. The money is spent and the roads are done…but in all the comments to this post I was surprised that nobody mentioned the fact that Mayor Walker (former city council member) has also been a member of the Summit Academy (SA) Board of Directors for many years. SA benefitted from this taxpayer funded carpool expansion more than any other entity in the city of Draper. SA navigates with exceptional political precision. In part the SA board consists of: Greg Hughes a member of the state legislature, Dave Crandall Chairman of the State Board of Education and brother of the school’s Executive Director amd Troy Walker mayor of Draper. They don’t float anything publically before the issue is a done deal behind closed doors. Don’t feel robbed that the residents couldn’t influence the outcome of this issue…it was never in play in the first place.

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