Sunday, September 28, 2014

Committee chooses superintendent finalists, names still secret. Lisa Schencker | The Salt Lake Tribune. Sept. 15, 2014.

Education • 
Some members argue for transparency; others say they want to protect privacy of candidates.

A state school board committee chose four finalists for Utah’s top education spot Monday night — but they’re keeping their names a secret for a little longer.
The board’s superintendent selection committee went into closed session twice Monday before taking a public vote on their top candidates for the job of state superintendent. But they assigned the candidates numbers and voted on those numbers rather than revealing their names.
Committee members then voted to publicly release the names three days before interviews are conducted, possibly in October, giving candidates who don’t want their names released time to drop out of the running if they wish.
“If they don’t want their names released, they should be able to exit this process privately without their name being released,” said board and committee member Leslie Castle.
The last time the board chose a superintendent, it revealed the finalists’ names, and interviews with the finalists were public.
Nothing in Utah law prohibits the board from keeping the finalists’ names private, said Austin J. Riter, a First Amendment attorney with Parr, Brown, Gee, and Loveless, which does some work for The Salt Lake Tribune. But he said he believes voting on the finalists in public, yet keeping their names confidential, violates the spirit of the law.
“Under [The Open and Public Meetings Act] the public has a right to attend, but government officials are speaking in a way they all understand but in a way that keeps that key information from the public,” Riter said, “and that defeats the purposes of the act, which is to make those processes transparent and keep those officials accountable.”
Riter said if the committee is going to release names later, there’s no reason not to do it immediately.
“If it’s public information, it’s public information,” he said.
Committee chairman Jefferson Moss said it’s not yet been decided whether the interviews will be public.
The committee’s decision Monday night followed a discussion about the merits of revealing versus concealing the names.
Board and committee member Jennifer Johnson said she worried that releasing names will discourage applicants — who might not want their employers to know they’re looking for another job — from applying in the future.
“I think we should keep it closed, not because I don’t want to be transparent, but because I really want the very, very best possible candidates and as many of the best candidates as possible,” Johnson said.
Castle also said she believes the board’s primary obligation to the public isn’t transparency but rather choosing the best possible superintendent. She did, however, vote to publicly release the names this year three days before the interviews.
Board and committee member Kim Burningham, however, favored releasing candidates’ names without necessarily seeking permission from them first.
“This, after all, is not our personal decision,” Burningham said. “It really is the public’s decision, No. 1, and because it is the public’s, they need to be involved in it.”
And board and committee member Dave Thomas said he might not want a candidate who is afraid of his employer finding out.
“If you’re scared of your employer knowing you applied for this, maybe I don’t want you because that doesn’t show any kind of political courage at all,” Thomas said.
It’s not known exactly who or how many candidates have applied for the position of superintendent. But at least one candidate, House Speaker Becky Lockhart, has confirmed that she applied for the job. Lockhart has declined to give detailed comments about her reasons for seeking the job, saying she wants to respect the board’s hiring process.
Her candidacy has already proved somewhat controversial with some, such as Utah Education Association President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, who said she’d rather see an educator take the post; Lockhart is a nurse by profession. Others, such as Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, say she’d bring important knowledge about the inner workings of the Legislature to the job.
Gibson worked with Lockhart on an initiative to put a digital device in the hands of every Utah student this past legislative session. That push ultimately failed, with many lawmakers saying it was too expensive.
A recent poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates also showed that about 52 percent of those surveyed either somewhat or strongly opposed the idea of Lockhart becoming the next state superintendent. The margin of error on that poll was 4.9 percent.
The state superintendent spot is open after former State Superintendent Martell Menlove retired in recent weeks.
The board’s decision on a new superintendent comes amid allegations of dysfunction among board members and the departures of both Menlove and Deputy Superintendent Brenda Hales. Last month, Hales stopped working, saying she would use vacation and other leave until her retirement becomes official at the end of the year.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

University Place announces new tenants. Sept. 12, 2014. Daily Herald.

                                                  Charming Charlie in Great Lakes Crossing Outlets.
                                            Pizza Studio in San Diego
The first in a lineup of tenants will open Monday including Charming Charlie and Torrid.
Anyone who has driven around University Mall or on 800 East has seen construction crews working on the first phase of the Ivory Apartments complex that will include 235 units. That complex should be ready by next summer.

Opening in November is the Pizza Studio. In the spring expect to see the doors open for R.C. Willey, Visionworks, Chipotle, Potbelly and a Starbucks relocation that will add a drive-through.

The amount determined for the CDA will subsequently determine how many office buildings will be built and whether the location will be home to a new hotel according to Kathy Olson, director of development for the Woodbury Corporation.
"We will also be upgrading the inside of the mall," Olson said. "We expect to start that in January. It will include new flooring and paint."

If the CDA goes through as anticipated, up to one-third of the Mervyns wing will come down and be replaced with mixed-use buildings and a large parkland area. The park will feature an entertainment stage, dancing area, playground equipment, benches and extensive landscaping.

                                 Potbelly Sandwich Shop.

Orem CDA with University Place to move forward. Daily Herald. Sept. 23, 2014.

                                          Spenser Heaps.  Daily Herald.  University Mall construction.
                                         Spenser Heaps.  Daily Herald.  Construction on the University
                                              Mall.  Sept. 23, 2014.
The city council voted 5-1 Tuesday to adopt a Community Development Project Area Plan (CDA) to provide a tax credit for the redevelopment of University Mall.
Approximately $63 million will aid the redevelopment of infrastructure, building and other necessities.
The project includes 400,000 square feet of new retail space, 700,000 square feet of new office space, 1.25 million square feet of new multi-family residential space and 70,000 square feet of new hotel space.
Eighteen residents spoke against the ordinance during Tuesday's council meeting, saying it was unfair to provide a tax credit to some developing businesses and not others. Two residents spoke in support of the CDA, including former Orem mayor James Evans.
Becky Caldwell, who owns class-A office space in Orem, said she is concerned the development of new office space will negatively impact her business. The council said it hopes University Place office space will attract startup companies, because of big businesses such as Adobe, Xactware and doTerra, which have all recently relocated from Orem to northern Utah County.
 “I agree with both sides of the issue,” Caldwell said. “But I don’t agree with the equitability of it. I don’t see how they justify being unfair.”
Councilman Hans Andersen opposed the ordinance, and made 6,000 robocalls to Orem residents prior to the meeting. The call from Andersen said, “Hi, fellow Orem citizen. The Orem City Council will give the mall $63 million. That’s not right. Please sign the petition to stop the $63 million subsidy. Paid for by Hans Andersen, Orem City Council,” according to a resident who received the call. 
Councilwoman Margaret Black said she was concerned about the calls conducted by Andersen, calling them “simplistic, misleading and inflammatory.”
“I just want people to know the facts,” Black said. “(People) only got one piece of the information.”
Black said she encourages Orem residents to look at the information on The information was provided by an independent firm contracted by the city, which estimated that 2,500 jobs will be created with the development. The information online will be the same presented by the city in the meeting, she said.
While the total tax increment credit will be $63 million, Orem will pay only $9.6 million of that. The rest of the money will come from Utah County, the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, Orem Metropolitan Water District and the Alpine School District.
Members of the city council emphasized that the money is a post-performance tax increment subsidy, meaning the money will only come from property tax on new growth from the mall and surrounding developments, said Mayor Richard Brunst.
Councilman Andersen stood alone on the council in his opposition to the development.

“Orem has 2,533 storefronts in the city,” he said. “We are giving one business $63 million. If you’re a small business trying to compete with the big guy, what does that mean to you?”

Orem City Council set to approve CDA for University Place. Daily Herald. Sept. 19, 2014

                                            Provided by Orem City

                                       Orem City Economic Development
The Orem City Council is set to approve and adopt a city ordinance Tuesday night in preparation for the Community Development Project Area plan (CDA) for University Place.
The money, approximately $62 million, will help with a variety of infrastructure, building and other necessities on and off site.
The CDA will help with the redevelopment of 120 acres that will include the mall proper, minus a portion of the former Mervyns wing. It covers 400,000 square feet of new retail space, 700,000 square feet of new office space, 1.25 million square feet of new multi-family residential space and 70,000 square feet of new hotel space.
The move does not come without some caution and criticism, but according to city officials all taxing agencies are on board. Orem is still waiting to hear from the Alpine School District as to how much it will contribute. The city is set to give $10 million over 22 years.
That said, Mayor Richard Brunst has made it very clear this is not just a carte blanche arrangement. There are benchmarks for Woodbury Corporation, which owns University Place, to get the money. It is a post-performance property tax increment subsidy.
"This is a 22-year CDA. The money will only come from property tax on new growth and if they perform," Brunst said. "This will lift all the boats. It is a post-performance tax credit. We're not spending any money."
"We're not just taking money out of the bank and writing a check," said Steven Downs, city spokesman.
Brunst said the money would come only after Woodbury Corporation has proven itself. That still doesn't sit well with folks like Councilman Hans Andersen, who remembers the 1999 subsidy debacle over keeping ZCMI at and luring Nordstrom to the mall. A two-year lawsuit ensued between John Price, owner of the Provo Towne Center, and Woodbury.
Andersen, who also has his own weekly radio show, is not happy about the CDA and has campaigned hard against it. He has devoted many of his shows to the subject, and has threatened to petition for a referendum.
He said the city has spent too much time and money on the big guys, and has asked what Orem will do to help keep established businesses from leaving or going under.
"There are 2,533 business storefronts in Orem," Andersen said earlier this summer. "What makes Woodbury any better than them?"
While some businesses might feel cheated by the big boys, Downs said it is the big boys that bring a large portion of the sales tax revenue to the city. That sales tax revenue will be the money ultimately going to the little guys as the city develops its new State Street Master Plan.
The trickle down could include grants, projects and other options to spruce up existing buildings and business, and help draw customers to them.
"This is the same tool [CDA] that Lehi and other cities are using to bring businesses like Adobe and Xactware to their cities," Downs said. "We want to keep these businesses here. This will be a net benefit to the city."
City Council meetings are open to the public. The next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the City Council chambers at 50 N. State Street.
For a complete look at the agenda items visit and click on "city government."