Tag Archives: central planning

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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Property Rights, Provo Grocers, and Zoning Laws

We each have equal God-given (or natural) rights that end where the rights of others begin. All of our rights can arguably be derived from a few basic ones, which may be categorized as rights (1) over our bodies, (2) over the fruits of our labors, (3) over our children within reason as they mature, (4) to interact contractually via mutual voluntary informed consent, and (5) to defend ourselves against others’ aggression. Those last two rights justify us in chartering political systems, to which we contractually delegate limited authority to assist us in defending our rights from others’ aggression so that we may remain free.

It’s sad when our public officers reject their proper role as rights-defending servants to become rights-violating masters, instead, even to the point of behaving like Earthly monarchs to rule over us, dictating how we citizens will exercise our rights as if we exist merely to serve their interests. This is not only immoral but also impractical, as the grandiose central plans that a few mere mortals arrogantly devise to coerce upon the rest of us are generally inferior to the plans that many mere mortals (especially with divine guidance) freely work out amongst themselves through persuasion coupled with voluntary cooperation.

This is also true of zoning, which originated among European socialists. This municipal variety of central economic planning curtails development, reduces competition, promotes false “order” and/or aesthetics over genuine needs, reduces housing supply while raising housing costs, excludes “undesirables,” wastes people’s valuable time with needless paperwork, retards economic progress, and lowers standards-of-living. Every one of its alleged benefits is provided better within genuinely-free markets, which allow the most economical allocation of resources. Houston developed well with hardly any zoning laws and, as a result, enjoys exceptionally affordable housing, while California’s zoning laws (combined with other regulations) have rendered housing so unaffordable that prices are driving residents away.

People often migrate in the direction of greater freedom, which is one reason why many Californians are currently migrating to Utah County, although they are mostly bypassing Provo for now. Their reasons for avoiding Provo remain unclear to us at present in the absence of any professional survey results. However, it’s possible that Provo is repelling new move-ins with its own proliferating regulations, as Provo’s city code more-than-doubled from 2001 to 2021.

Provo’s regulation explosion is partly guided by Provo’s Vision 2030 (or Vision 2050), which is a grandiose central economic plan that mayor John Curtis instigated in 2011, and that Provo’s city councilors have since attempted to translate (as they’ve openly admitted) from abstract vision statement into concrete city code. These efforts have included city council discussions about enhancing Provo’s existing mostly-1970s-era zoning laws that regulate buildings’ function with additional laws that regulate their form. At one Vision 2030 discussion in 2016, Provo’s city councilors even discussed the possibility of requiring all Provo homeowners to landscape their yards in a manner dictated by municipal law. During this surreal discussion, one attendee remarked something about how, if Provo residents didn’t like their local aesthetics, then they could fire their mayor for a successor with better taste.

Such form-based code, like traditional zoning, originated among socialists and has been touted as a means to implement “Smart Growth” policies. These are an attempt to forcibly redirect municipal development away from a city’s outskirts toward its center in the guise of “saving the natural environment.” Such overt environmentalism arguably conceals socialism, as socialists have long understood that rural landowners tend to be more patriotic and conservative than urban dwellers—so, by forcibly confining a town’s growth so that its city center develops in an urbanesque manner, socialists can perhaps help their ideas to flourish more easily within it. Such “Smart Growth” policies are also blatantly part of Provo’s Vision 2030, along with its successor Vision 2050.

Even without such form-based enhancements, Provo’s existing zoning laws still violate our equal God-given (or natural) rights to both property and contract, which form the basis of genuine free markets. For example, Smith’s bought some land long ago in west Provo with the intent to construct a shopping center on that land someday, and Smith’s management has since been waiting for it to make financial sense to do so. But Provo’s city councilors recently decided to forcibly hasten this process by rezoning this land so that Smith’s could no longer use its property to construct what it intended, while hoping that this impediment to competition will encourage other grocers to build stores in that same area. And those city councilors have also been examining alternative locations in west Provo on which competitors might build. Their primary motivation is reportedly to prevent west Provo residents from leaving town to buy their groceries, as this reduces city tax revenue.

Whenever the state forcibly overrides the market, the results are invariably detrimental. Frederic Bastiat wrote expertly about the persistent difference between the overt intent of public policy and what those same policies unintentionally achieve through indirect effects upon a complex system. For those same reasons that he stated so eloquently, forcing a grocery store into existence where it does not (yet) make economic sense for it to exist causes economic inefficiencies that hurt every consumer generally. Rather than centrally control or manipulate markets, it’s better to allow free people to freely work out such things amongst themselves. And, more importantly, it’s also the right thing to respect everyone’s property rights.

The “bottom line” is that zoning must end, including in Provo. Zoning violates rights and it does more harm than good. But zoning won’t end without significant changes in the sort of municipal politicians that Provoans have been electing. And those politicians won’t change unless/until more liberty-lovin’ Provoans involve themselves in municipal politics. And involvement won’t increase unless residents like YOU choose to engage in precinct-level activism by engaging your neighbors, motivating them, educating them, informing them, organizing them, mobilizing them, et cetera. Please choose to do so. And you’re welcome to use this website if it help any.


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Envision Utah’s Statist Vision Debuts

Although Free Provo focuses mostly upon municipal issues, city issues are sometimes closely connected with broader trends in Utah County. This site’s previous blog entry warned about attempts by local politicians to reorganize Utah County’s commission, arguably so that it can shoulder greater responsibilities for centrally-planning Utah County’s economy. These efforts roughly coincided with related efforts to devise some central planning guidelines, as composed by Envision Utah.

Envision Utah is a group of prominent Utahns who dislike free-market-driven growth for being too “chaotic” and “accidental” (as they’ve been quoted in the local news) and, as such, prefer our political system to assert control over that growth in order to start centrally-planning it. Envision Utah has devised central plans for other parts of Utah and, now, it’s apparently Utah County’s turn.

Envision Utah started a “Valley Visioning” initiative about two years ago under the excuse of managing Utah County’s rapid population growth. Its carefully-refined visioning process has involved (1) hosting various surveys and workshops and such to determine Utah County residents’ wants and values and priorities, then (2) using this input to develop a communal vision for Utah County’s future that will serve to guide county-level central planning in the coming years, and finally (3) leveraging Utah County values to sell this central plan to residents after it’s finished.

Envision Utah’s statist vision of Utah County is apparently finished now, and it will be presented publicly on November 17th (Tuesday) at 2PM during a news conference. It will then coordinate/guide local statist politicians in planning where new move-ins will live, what sort of homes they’ll inhabit, how they’ll landscape their yards, et cetera, rather than leaving such decisions to free people in free markets.

Central economic planning has devastated both entire nations like the USSR and great cities like Detroit, and it will innately do likewise here. It will greet Californian move-ins with the same sort of heavy-handed state policies that created the terrible conditions from which they’re currently fleeing in droves. The plans of the few, no matter how expert, are always inferior to the plans of the many. Some may denigrate free societies as “chaotic” and “disorderly” and “selfish,” but others perceive the beauty of virtuous free people spontaneously creating order amongst themselves.

So, let’s keep our politicians focused on defending our rights (and maybe maintaining our infrastructure) and NOT expect them to exercise their coercive powers to guarantee us the future that we think that we want, which would be counterproductive. It’s better for us to work out out our county’s future amongst ourselves as free people, while our politicians defend our rightful liberty (NOT carefully limit it). So, let’s please regularly scrutinize our politicians’ actions, including whether-or-not they’re complying with this central plan, and then elect ONLY those who will fully respect our rights.

Sadly, it shouldn’t surprise us if Provo’s current city council embraces this central plan, since they’ve already endured a similar process at a city level. About a decade ago, mayor John Curtis initiated a similar citywide visioning process, soliciting input from residents that he used to create Vision 2030, which Provo’s city council openly admitted to using as a guide for centrally-planning the city, gradually transforming its abstract vision into concrete city code. Vision 2030 proved so successful that they began to replace it with an updated version called Vision 2050. You can read more about these vision statements elsewhere on this site.

We endure such municipal politicians not because most Provoans love statism, one might argue, but because most Provoans abdicate to it because they don’t bother to participate in municipal politics. Again, let’s please motivate, educate, inform, and organize our like-minded neighbors to involve themselves in municipal elections to help replace Provo’s central planners with free-marketeers. And why not make a plan for such activism today? If this website helps you at all, then please use it.



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Please Vote Against Utah Ballot Proposition 9

Although the 2020 general election will choose both federal and state officers, rather than local officers, this year’s ballot still includes an issue of pressing local concern, which is ballot proposition 9. Proposition 9, if enacted, would expand Utah County’s current county commission from 3 commissioners (currently Nathan Ivie and Tanner Ainge and Bill Lee) to 5 councilors plus a mayor.

This proposition is being sold primarily on the basis that it would separate our county commission’s legislative and executive powers from each other. This reasoning may sound great to Utahn patriots on the surface, but such executive power is already separated, and (moreover) dispersed among seven separately-elected county officers, which include county attorney, county sheriff, county clerk/auditor, county treasurer, county assessor, county surveyor, and county recorder. So, what’s the real reason for this proposed reorganization of our Utah County commission?

To uncover the real reason, it may help to consider the source. This reorganization was instigated recently by county commissioner Nathan Ivie, who (with support from fellow commissioner Tanner Ainge) has consistently voted for both higher taxes and increased central economic planning. And it has also coincided with efforts by Envision Utah to devise a grandiose central plan for Utah County, including where new residents will live, what sort of homes they will own, how they will landscape their yards, et cetera. And it’s arguably more than coincidence that such developments are occurring simultaneously.

These facts together suggest that Proposition 9 is (in reality) likely an effort to unjustly expand our county government to shoulder greater responsibilities (as recommended to it by Envision Utah) that will violate our equal God-given (or natural) rights, including our rights to both property and contract. If our county commission were to respect our rightful liberty as fully as it should, then it would lack any need to expand. Especially considering that the Utah County commission oversees only unincorporated land, which has shrunk over time. With ever-less land within their jurisdiction, why needlessly multiply the officers involved?

This expansion’s opponents include county commissioner Bill Lee, who has heroically stood firmly against Ivie’s and Ainge’s tax hikes and such, but without much success as a minority of one. Lee is warning that Salt Lake County endured a similar reorganization about 20 years ago that resulted in higher taxes, bigger government, and an all-too-powerful mayor. Lee also notes that Utah County’s proposed reorganization would likewise consolidate the executive power currently wielded by seven separate officers into a single kinglike county mayor who would likely usurp legislative power from the county council. We would do well to heed his warnings. And to reelect him.

So, please vote against ballot proposition 9. We don’t need to expand our county government to more-effectively violate our equal God-given (or natural) rights to property and contract and such.


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