Author Archives: Free Provo

About Free Provo

We are Provo residents who strive to uphold all that's best in America's wonderful political heritage of rightful liberty under Constitutional law---and who feel deeply concerned that our city officers in recent years have not been doing likewise.

Municipal Socialism via Zoning, “Smart Growth,” and Urbanism

We should feel deeply concerned that many local Utah County politicians (including in both Provo and Orem) seek to implement so-called “smart growth” policies to redirect development from their town’s outskirts to its center in order to concentrate residents into walkable urbanesque mixed-use high-rises served by public mass-transit. It seems that these urbanization trends originated among socialists for ideological reasons, both to implement their practices and to encourage people to embrace their ideology, which we liberty-lovin’ Americans should both understand and oppose.

Enhanced urbanism was one of many techniques that the KGB used to subvert nations to embrace socialism. As KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov warned Americans in 1984 about this subject: “Very briefly on population distribution: urbanization and ‘delandization’ (the taking away of private land) is the greatest threat to American nationhood. Why? Because the poor farmer often is a greater PATRIOT than an affluent dweller of a large congested American city. Communists know this very well. The Soviets keep a very tight control over the size of their cities by the system of ‘police registration of residence’ called ‘propiska.’ They know perfectly well that the farmer will fight an invader until last bullet ON HIS LAND. ‘Underprivileged’ or urbanized masses on the other hand, may feel like meeting an invader with flowers and red banners. ALIENATION of people from privately-owned land is one of the very important methods of DEMORALIZATION.” And demoralization, by the way, is the first of the four stages of KGB subversion.

Such Soviet urbanization practices began gaining some popularity beyond the USSR during the 1970s, including in America under the label “smart growth.” “Smart growth” proponents advocated that their densification policies would increase choice, foster community, improve health, and protect nature, while opponents have criticized these policies’ tendencies to counterproductively exacerbate the same problems that they were purported to alleviate. “Smart growth” has since associated itself with the broader concept of “sustainable development,” which exploits radical environmentalism to falsely excuse socialism, including at the municipal level. And, aided by such excuses, socialists (whether overt or covert or unwitting) have striven to needlessly urbanize small-town America, and to incentivize their residents to needlessly abandon their privately-owned cars for inefficient public mass-transit. And these same collectivistic trends are now flourishing even in Utahn cities like Provo and Orem.

“Smart growth” policies rely upon central economic planning through municipal zoning ordinances, which originated among European socialists and (like “smart growth”) are innately counterproductive. Zoning overrides free markets as it curtails development, reduces competition, reduces housing supplies while raising housing costs, mandates false “order” and/or aesthetics over genuine human needs, excludes “undesirables,” wastes people’s valuable time with needless paperwork, retards economic progress, and lowers standards-of-living. Zoning is partly why Los Angeles’ skyrocketing housing prices are driving away residents while Houston’s highly-affordable housing is attracting them. Zoning originally focused on separating functions, but it has increasingly shifted to focus on regulating form also, and such form-based code is vital in helping cities to implement “smart growth” policies. Provo’s city council openly considered adding such form-based code to its zoning ordinances within this last decade.

Over this last decade or so, local municipal officers in both Provo (through its Vision 2030) and Orem (through its State Street Master Plan) have adopted some “smart growth” policies to attempt to gradually concentrate their residents into downtown areas served by public mass-transit. Provo’s officers have proven very successful at implementing their vision through central planning, while Orem’s officers are currently facing tremendous opposition about their attempts to redevelop a few intersections into urbanesque hubs. Perhaps liberty-lovin’ Provoans could learn a few things from their Oremite counterparts. And hopefully both will eventually learn to scrutinize their local candidates better and to only support those candidates who not only understand individual God-given (or natural) rights, including free markets over central planning, but who will also consistently champion those rights. Please start today to motivate, educate, inform, mobilize, and organize your liberty-lovin’ neighbors for victory.


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Provo’s Primary Election 2021

Provo, like other Utahn cities, is hosting its biennial primary election this August 10th (Tuesday), and we urge all liberty-lovin’ Provoans to please participate. Please strive to empower ONLY virtuous wise statespeople who will consistently defend our rightful liberty under Constitutional law rather than aggress against it.

Why bother with municipal elections? Local elections should ideally be our society’s most important elections. This is because political authority should ideally remain as decentralized as possible, with individuals remaining sovereign with respect to their fellow mortals, and individual households (as any society’s most basic political unit) retaining maximal authority for themselves, while contractually delegating minimal authority to larger jurisdictions to serve (not rule) the smaller jurisdictions within themselves, with their services limited almost exclusively to rights-defense. According to these principles, proper political systems should maintain an authority-structure that resembles an upside-down pyramid, in which authority is concentrated toward its massive top, from whence largely-self-governing people rule over the rest of it. Local offices sometimes serve as starting-points for political careers, and it’s important to screen-out unworthy candidates (like John Curtis as explained extensively our website) early before they gain significant influence and wealth and power.

Along with undervaluing the importance of local elections, too many American voters (including Provoans) also neglect to involve themselves in elections until Election Day, which comes after nearly all decisions about candidates have already been settled. By engaging in such procrastination, liberty-lovin’ voters essentially abdicate nominations to their statist adversaries, which is because politics naturally attracts corrupt cunning statists more readily than virtuous wise statespeople, who must be actively sought and encouraged to campaign. And this problem applies to both major American political parties, which have always been “big tents” that attract a wide variety of factions. In short, we who cherish our freedom should never assume that our fellow partisans share our values, nor should we depend upon them to nominate worthy candidates without our help.

This is true even in Provo with its high concentration of conservative voters, where political homogeneity has excused political complacency. Only maybe 10%-15% of Provoans normally participate in municipal elections, and over half of those voters seemingly favor candidates who uphold higher taxes and fees, multiplied city code, increased central planning, and insufficient respect for others’ equal God-given (or natural) rights, as detailed on our website. Such wanton statism has remained Provo’s sad status quo for at least 2 decades, as liberty-lovin’ candidates haven’t often sought municipal office and, whenever they’ve done so, they’ve been routinely defeated by their statist alternatives. Such statist victories have sometimes been incredibly slim, as even a dozen votes might have reversed them. Where were YOU then?

YOU have the power to help improve this sad status quo by participating in Provo’s biennial municipal elections, including its primary elections! And, since you can only do so much as one person, you can do more by multiplying your effects by helping your like-minded neighbors to do likewise. This may involve instilling their hearts with a passion for rightful liberty under Constitutional law, educating their minds about its principles, informing them how those timeless universal principles relate to current municipal politics, and organizing them for lasting political victory.

Political victory ideally begins by identifying worthy neighbors and then encouraging them to run. Sadly, it’s too late for anyone to enter this year’s election, but we can still examine our existing options, eliminate unworthy choices, and select the best options from among any that remain. As for judging worthiness, both personal virtue (especially honesty) and political wisdom are paramount (and normally don’t improve significantly in office), experience is a valuable added bonus but can always be gained, records are far more reliable than rhetoric, both partisan affiliations and labels don’t necessarily mean very much, and outward appearance is frivolous. As for who needs evaluation this year, Provoans are electing a mayor plus three new city councilors (one city-wide and two from city districts). Below are some initial impressions about each current candidate for each of these municipal offices.

  • For mayor, Michelle Kaufusi (the incumbent) represents the sad statist status quo described above, Neil Mitchell seems highly competent but shows no indications of changing the status quo, Caleb Reeve seems like a political-outsider centrist with some libertarianish leanings but perhaps not enough, M David Gedo Sanchez has expressed some concerns about big government and may be a good option, and Ken Dudley is saying many things right and therefore may also be a good option.
  • For city councilor (city-wide), Aaron Skabelund is very competent and civic-minded but strongly leans liberal, neither Katrice MacKay nor Landon Johnson seem to favor the principles of both limited government and individual rights, Tom Sitake has disclosed little about himself so far, and Hoc Vu is the only candidate who is expressing the right principles consistently.
  • For city councilor in district 2, Dave Handley (the incumbent) represents the status quo and currently runs unchallenged.
  • For city councilor in district 5, both Coy Porter and Rachel Whipple seem poised to perpetuate the status quo of both central planning and sustainable development, and Zac Green does not seem significantly better.

So, we encourage further investigation into David Sanchez, Ken Dudley, and Hoc Vu as possibly-worthy candidates who may merit endorsement, donations, and votes. Please scrutinize their principles pertaining to God-given (or natural) rights, free speech versus censorship, gun rights versus gun control, both property rights and contractual rights, free markets versus central economic planning (including zoning), so-called sustainable development with so-called smart growth, Valley Visioning, privatization versus city-run businesses, borrow-and-tax-and-spend policies, efforts to militarize and nationalize and dumb-down our local police officers, et cetera, all of which are featured on this website. And please pose such questions to the other candidates, as well. And please share their answers with anyone who would benefit from knowing them, including as a comment below, if you wouldn’t mind. Whereas ignorance invites tyranny/slavery, a well-educated well-informed citizenry is essential for self-government.

We can do far better than we’re presently doing, and we need to do far better in order to reverse Provo’s slow political degeneracy. If you want to enjoy a greater selection of worthy candidates in 2023, then please commit yourself over these next two years to slowly-but-steadily find them (or become them), encourage them to campaign, and build support for them among your neighbors. If you find our website helpful for this purpose, then please feel free to use it. Thanks!


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Provo’s Ballooning Budget for FY 2022

Provo’s city council recently approved a budget for the 2022 fiscal year, which will total about $304,140,333. Provo’s budget only 2 years ago was about $254,000,000, which indicates a 20% increase over 2 years, which is significantly more than inflation, even as Provo’s total population has shrunk slightly over this same time-frame. Yes, that’s right, most of Utah County’s flood of new move-ins are avoiding Provo! Thankfully, Provoans are not yet fleeing in droves, like over-governed Detroitans or Californians have done, but they might start to flee eventually if present trends continue unabated.

Since Provo is now home to approximately 116,594 (and falling) residents, this means that each Provo resident’s share of this newest municipal budget is about $2,609/year (or $217/month), which is surprisingly close to the $2,812 that socialist-dominated Los Angeles spends per year per resident. In fact, Provo budgeted more spending per resident than Los Angeles budgeted only two years ago, as we previously reported. However, Provo’s residents include a higher percentage of children than LA’s—and, considering that Provo’s average household size is still something close to 3.24, this means that each Provoan household’s share of Provo’s newest municipal budget will average about $8,452/year (or $704/month).

Along with spending profligately, Provo also ranks among Utah’s most indebted cities, owing about $99,236,398 total (partly for various boondoggles), which averages to about $851 per resident or $2,758 per household. And this is sad because it’s generally bad policy to burden future generations (or residents) with present expenses. If Provo’s budget were perfectly balanced, and if Provo’s revenue came only from taxing its own residents rather than from outside sources (such as from state and/or federal taxes of citizens who don’t even live here), then this would mean that each Provoan household would be paying an average of $704/month, as well. Thankfully, Provo isn’t sending such huge bills every year to every household—but, even so, that’s still a LOT of hard-earned money to be told what to do!

And, speaking of being told what to do, Provo’s city code has also more-than-doubled since 2001, which may constitute one reason why it budgets are ballooning also. In fact, about 2011, Provo’s mayor supervised the development of Vision 2030 to serve as a central-planning guide for Provo’s city council, whose members have openly admitted their intentions of gradually translating its abstract vision into concrete code. This statist vision originally included provisions like “sustainable” development, “smart” growth, impeded traffic, public transit, Internet censorship, business subsidies, a municipal Obamacare, improving residents’ diet-and-exercise, and more. During a “checkup” of Vision 2030 in 2016, which was then deemed more successful than expected, Provo’s city council even discussed implementing mandatory city-regulated landscaping for every single-family home!

Do you like Provo’s ever-increasing centralized command-and-control? Are these “services” truly worth the $704/month that your household is paying for them? Perhaps liberty-lovin’ Provoans should give a bit more scrutiny to how politicians are spending their money! Ideally, a municipal government (like any other political system) should focus on rights-defense, and perhaps on some basic infrastructure like roads, but it shouldn’t be running either our economy or our lives, nor managing a vast array of business operations that are better left in the hands of private entrepreneurs. As noted previously, such municipally-owned-and-operated business ventures currently include a redevelopment agency, a power company, an airport, a television channel, a library, a performing arts center, a recreation center, a fitness center, a golf course, an ice rink, a water park, a beach, a park service, a gun range, a garbage-collection service, a recycling service, and a cemetery.

Such ongoing statist trends are unworthy of Provo’s relatively freedom-loving residents, and they can only be thwarted by replacing Provo’s mayor and entire city council with liberty-lovin’ alternatives, not only in this year’s municipal elections but lastingly. So, if you want to keep Provo free and, therefore, both prosperous and progressing (unlike Detroit), then please involve yourself NOW to scrutinize this year’s city candidates and to actively promote any worthy ones that you can find!


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Provo Municipal Elections and Voting System Reform

American elections, since their inception, have used plurality (or “first-past-the-post”) voting as their standard, but we should reconsider this default.

Plurality voting naturally encourages all political parties to consolidate into two major ones of roughly equal strength, which means that it renders a bipartisan duopoly nearly inevitable. America’s founders rightly worried about the rise of two major political parties that would alternately dominate our political system, and they warned us about this eventuality, although they apparently didn’t realize then that plurality voting would render this development almost inevitable.

Plurality voting also facilitates an array of other election problems like strategic voting (including voting against unworthy candidates rather than for worthy candidates), along with the “spoiler effect,” the possibility of minority rule, and increased susceptibility to gerrymandering. The “spoiler effect” is especially egregious, as it can incentivize citizens to vote against their true preferences, while punishing conscientious voters who ignore such pressure with worse results. This should ideally never happen.

The only way to alleviate these many problems is through reforming elections to use better voting methods.

Ranked-choice voting (which is also called instant-runoff voting) is a popular alternative to plurality voting in which voters rank their respective choices from first to last, after which the least-favored candidates are eliminated through multiple rounds of vote-tallying until one candidate prevails with majority support. This voting system is already a longstanding standard in political conventions. Ranked-choice voting replaces the “spoiler effect” with a milder “center-squeeze effect” that hurts centrist candidates, but it still promotes a bipartisan duopoly and it still allows gerrymandering.

Score voting alleviates these electoral problems even better (except for a negligible “chicken dilemma”) than ranked-choice voting. Score voting involves voters ranking each candidate on a scale (like 0-9 or 1-100), rather like schools grade students, such that the candidate who earns the highest average score wins. Score voting allows third parties (like the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, and the Independent American Party) to thrive, which is perhaps its greatest benefit. One study indicates that score voting minimizes Bayesian regret, meaning that its results are (statistically) more satisfying than either plurality voting or ranked-choice voting.

Approval voting is the simplest form of score voting, as voter rank each candidate as either acceptable or not, such that the most-widely-accepted candidate wins. Approval voting can use existing plurality ballots, which is an advantage. Approval voting may also operate in tandem with proportional representation, which allows multiple winners in proportion to their degree of approval, which divides political power among a greater diversity of factions. And mitigating the effects of factions is a worthy goal, as America’s founders noted.

Provo’s city council is considering transitioning its municipal elections from plurality voting to ranked-choice voting. Provo’s Open City Hall is currently surveying Provoans about this matter, and Provo’s city council will vote on it in May. I’m surprised that this proposed reform is enjoying support from some corrupt Establishment politicians, so I’m feeling a bit suspicious about it—so, if you have any theories about why they may favor it, then please share them. In the absence of clear reasons otherwise, though, please consider supporting such election reform, perhaps as an initial step toward something even better like score voting.

Even more importantly than improving voting systems, though, is ensuring that our elections remain both honest and accurate. Please consider lobbying your state and federal legislators regularly for election reforms (like these) that will restore election integrity—and please do so until they finally relent!

UPDATE 07/28: This election reform is enjoying great support from corrupt Establishment politicians because, as Defending Utah has revealed, it is part of an ongoing effort to replace Utah’s longstanding caucus-convention-primary system with ranked-choice “jungle” primary elections, which have already proven very effective in California at facilitating victory for corrupt Establishment politicians. Please watch the Defending Utah video before for details, and please support reinstatement of Utah’s caucus-convention-primary system.



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What Made Provo Great and What Will Keep Provo Great

We sometimes focus so much on fixing everything that’s going wrong that we may forget to acknowledge everything that’s going right. So, considering this, here are my thoughts about Provo for its 172nd birthday, for whatever they may be worth.

Provo was colonized in 1849 in April as 33 pioneer families from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arrived from 2-year-old Salt Lake City to build Fort Utah near the Provo River that flows from the Wasatch mountains to the east side of Utah Lake. They rebuilt Fort Utah one year later where Provo’s Pioneer Park now stands, and they renamed their new settlement Provo in honor of explorer Etienne Provost. Provo was officially chartered in 1851 shortly before its first Church stake was organized. It quickly flourished with the nickname “The Garden City” due to its many orchards and gardens, and it has since thrived to become Utah’s third-largest city, the hub of Utah’s second-largest metropolitan area, and the seat of Utah’s fastest-growing county.

Provo today enjoys one of the highest concentration of Latter-day Saints, and is one of the few cities to enjoy TWO beautiful Church temples. The Church’s influence has helped it to enjoy high rates of volunteerism, marriage, and birth. Within Provo, the Church operates Brigham Young University, which is one of America’s largest (and most sober) private universities, along with a huge Missionary Training Center, which sends zillions of missionaries worldwide every year to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. This gives Provo an unusual global reach, and perhaps an unusually-high concentration of fantastic foreign restaurants for its size. Provo is also ranked among America’s best cities for entrepreneurship and business and jobs. It employs many residents in health and media and telecommunications, and is part of the so-called Silicon Slopes that are helping to foster the Information Age. And it’s one of America’s conservative cities, with unusually low rates of crime, and it annually hosts one of America’s largest and longest Independence Day celebrations. It’s also a good place to live for people who enjoy the outdoors. Its only significant lack may be its nightlife. Altogether, Provoans rank high statistically in being young and healthy and attractive and happy and optimistic. Please feel free to peruse the articles referenced below for more information about some of these rankings. I’m among many who feel blessed to live in this area.

I believe that Provo’s “secret to success,” like that of any state or nation, is rooted in both commonplace virtue and relative freedom. Free people can achieve amazing things when guided by virtue. Sadly, it’s sometimes when societies are flourishing that they sow the seeds of their own demise. Since 2001, Provo has enduring worrisome trends toward increased debt, taxation, spending, central planning, city code, et cetera, which all need to be reversed lest Provo in 2050 resembles Detroit in 2010. Let’s please prevent such a decline by perpetuating all that’s best in our heritage. And this should include mobilizing our neighbors to involve themselves in local politics to effectively uphold all that’s best in America’s wonderful political heritage of rightful liberty under Constitutional law.



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