Learn BEFORE you vote. (Not an official website of American Fork City.)

Tag: AFCitizens

David’s Handy Little Election Guide, 2015 Edition

Unless I’ve missed something, there are two things on my ballot tomorrow in American Fork: the local city council race and Proposition 1, with funding for streets and transportation (including UTA, in counties where UTA exists).

Here’s how I’m voting and a brief account of the reasons why. More discussion of American Fork city issues is at afelection.info; I won’t repeat it all here. But tell your friends.

American Fork City Council

David RodebackI get three votes in the American Fork City Council election, because there are three available seats. There are four candidates.

I’m voting for incumbents Robert Shelton and Brad Frost. Both are fine city councilors — hard working, intelligent, with their heads in the details. Both have a healthy respect for the complexity of the job and for the need to hear and balance competing interests. They play well with others — which is not universal on the council. Both of them have been eager to talk and listen and explain, on the many occasions when I’ve turned to them for information or to offer my own thoughts.

Councilman Shelton has mastered the numbers. He’s a huge asset in financial matters — as good as former Councilman Dale Gunther, perhaps, though less prone to entertain with exotic aphorisms.

Councilman Frost is as concerned for public communication and for American Fork’s image in and out of the city as anyone I know, and as determined to protect and improve both. He’s doing dogged work to protect our interests in American Fork Canyon. And when he says he loves the city, he’s not just blowing political smoke. He loves it as much as anyone I know — in deed, not just word.

In the last few years, these two and their compatriots on the council and the staff have managed to cut the City budget by $1.8 million. They’ve demonstrated a healthy willingness to reduce staff in some areas in order to add needed staff in other areas without raising taxes. And they have dramatically increased funding for roads. (Rebounding sales tax revenues have helped.) There is careful management of road projects in conjunction with things which need to happen with the pipes under the roads. (Some challengers always suggests this, as if it’s a new idea we should try.) And they’ve helped the City quiet to restructured some departments to solve problems and improve services. We’re making progress in the transition from large town to small city.

Which brings us to the challengers. I have one vote left.

Allen Simpson seems like a good man, and he’s been personable when I’ve spoken with him. His past service to the City well exceeds that of one of the last election’s challengers (and victors), and he’s been open to correction when he gets the numbers wrong, which puts him far ahead of the other 2013 challenger (and victor).

However, AFCitizens endorses him. He’s passing out their flier. And he’s still parroting some of their bad numbers and bad logic.

I judge him more harshly for the numbers, because he calls himself a statistician.

Worst of all, when I listen to him at length on diverse issues, I find that the plow of information and understanding is set too shallow (forgive the agrarian metaphor in suburbia). I judge him more harshly for this, even as a challenger, because he says he has attended city council meetings for 20 years.

Worse, the ideological plow seems to be set a little deeper, but not by much. It’s bad that it’s deeper than the practical plow, and it’s not good that it’s still not very deep. As a result, the connections between his opinions and the realities of governance are only intermittent.

He’s not an ideal candidate, but he could probably navigate the learning curve and become a competent and useful legislator over time.

Kevin Barnes served (without pay) on the Planning Commission, which is huge. The people I know who have worked with him at the City speak very highly of him. AFCitizens has halfheartedly supported him, because he’s not an incumbent, but he certainly does not endorse them. He knows some important parts of the City’s operations deeply, and he has a healthy respect for the complexity of the organization and many of the issues we face. He doesn’t throw ideological bombs at quality-of-life programs. He comes across as a warm, intelligent, sensible, witty bundle of cheerful leadership.

You saw this coming. My third vote goes to Kevin Barnes. A few weeks ago, I thought it might be close. It’s not.

Proposition 1

Proposition 1 proposes to raise sales taxes by one-quarter of one percent (a penny on four dollars). In counties where UTA exists, 40 percent of the revenue will go to UTA. The rest will go to roads and such.

Opponents say Prop 1 is just a gimmick to shovel money to UTA, which is notoriously wasteful. The same people tend to say we’ll need mass transit in the future, but we don’t need it now. They say the trains and buses are often nearly empty. (When I ride, they’re almost always nearly full, but there or other times and routes, I know.) Here’s why I’m voting for Prop 1 anyway.

First, I’m biased. I like public transit and have relied on it when I have traveled to or lived in Washington, DC; New York City and Long Island; Pittsburgh; Chicago; Boston; San Diego; Portland; and Moscow. I’ve also been riding Frontrunner to work for the last six months. I love Frontrunner. I usually get 40 minutes of some sort of work done while sitting on the train, at the beginning and end of the work day. It’s very productive. And when I drive to work every so often — usually, when I’m driving home — I wish I were on the train getting some work done, instead of sitting unproductively in traffic.

We could debate our present need for mass transit. I think the need exists, and even now the system helps a lot of people who don’t necessarily have to own a car to live here. But it’s not the slam dunk it will be in a decade or two or three, when the population of these valleys has doubled.

Sure, we’ll need it then, they say. But where do they think it will come from then, if we’re not building the system now? I don’t mean grabbing up right-of-ways and building things. I also see us on a learning curve, learning not only how to operate an extensive mass transit system, but also how to govern it. The sooner we learn these lessons, the better and the cheaper they will be.

As to governance, there have been some major growing pains. But I am much encouraged by a conversation I had the other day with Utah State Auditor Dougall, who is not known as one of the Utah Transit Authority’s most devoted fans. He told me a number of very encouraging things which have been implemented in response to past troubles, to increase transparency, to give local governments more influence over UTA, and to encourage and enforce greater fiscal accountability.

So I’m comfortable with the learning curve we’re on, and I favor building more mass transit now instead of later, and I think a sales tax increment is a good way to raise funds for both mass transit and roads. Our roads need the help. Our local governments need the help.

One more thing. They say it’s wrong to subsidize mass transit, and we should let the market decide what is needed. Quite apart from large externalities (apologies for intruding economics into politics), please look around you today at the roads, bridges, traffic signals, public parking lots, traffic enforcement, and multi-billion dollar freeway reconstructions which surround us. Think about the government mechanisms to license drivers and register cars. Consider the cost of measures we take to promote air quality, which is a problem largely due to cars.

Now tell me we’re not already subsidizing automobile transit far more than we’ll ever subsidize mass transit.

Opponents want the legislature to take UTA funding out of the proposal. Then maybe they’ll vote for it. Call me a commie (you wouldn’t be the first, but you wouldn’t be right either); I prefer it with UTA funding built in.

Vote as you think best, but vote!

That Pesky Third Vote

We’ve documented here — in part — local PAC AFCitizens’ casual relationship with the truth and their well-established tendency to get the numbers wrong. It seems reasonable to wonder, why would I ever vote for a candidate they endorse?

(Bad numbers seem like an odd problem from a group which considers itself the real fiscal conservatives in the room and which includes a CPA in its leadership, but sometimes our passionate ideologies get the better of us.)

For the record, their flier endorses two candidates: Kevin Barnes and Allen Simpson.

AFCitizens flier, Kevin Barnes

The back side of the AFCitizens flier


Here’s why their support should not disqualify Kevin Barnes for a responsible citizens’ vote.

  • He’s not passing out their flier. (Allen Simpson is.)
  • They didn’t ask for his permission to put his name on their flier, and he didn’t know they had done it until he saw it.
  • Some of the fliers have been going out with his name crossed out — so someone is having second thoughts.
  • He’s not toeing their inflamed anti-incumbent line, and he’s not using or endorsing their bad numbers.

All I knew of Kevin Barnes before the first meet-the-candidates event I attended was this: he served on the City Planning Commission (a fine incubator for good city councilors), and those who watch such things say he served intelligently and well; he is highly regarded in the community; and his son has a street named after him in American Fork, which is one small way we honor some of our war dead. (I don’t present the last of those as a qualification for public office, just as one of the few things I knew.)

After listening to Mr. Barnes’ balanced, reasonable approach to government, and his abundance of common sense, and his respect for the complexity of even a small city’s government, I began to wonder: What had he done to earn AFCitizens’ endorsement? He didn’t sound like someone they would like. So I asked him point-blank about these things.

I’ve already told you some of what he said. My general conclusion is, he’s not one of them. They endorsed him because he’s not one of the evil incumbents who studied our road dilemma, judged that jump-starting reconstruction with a bond issue was the best deal for the taxpayers, and asked the voters whether we should do that. I can vote for Kevin Barnes, and he’ll be an excellent city councilor.

Notably, Barnes has stated that the proper level of debt and taxation for a city depends on what its residents want. This is at odds with AFCitizens’ vitriol. He doesn’t denounce publicly-funded quality-of-life programs, such as a library, a recreation center, and arts and sports programs. By contrast, the far right in Utah (including the Utah Taxpayers Association, the source of the bizarre study which badly misreports American Fork residents’ tax burden) tends to argue that these things are not legitimate uses for public funds.

In fits of pre-remedial economics, they like to declare that if there’s a demand for these things, the private sector will step up and meet it, and the public sector shouldn’t. In many cases that’s sound thinking, but sometimes it stumbles and falls over something called large externalities. Those are a longer discussion for another day, but the idea is that the overall benefits of some things are much greater than the personal benefits to individuals using those things, so the free market tends to underserve demand or need. For example, robust arts and recreation programs may be a major factor in fostering economic growth in a city, but only a small fraction of that benefit goes to people who use the programs. So the level of those programs individuals will fund directly through ticket sales and through use or membership fees is far below the level of maximum benefit — which is a good case for public funding.

In any case, it seems reasonable to conclude that Kevin Barnes’ name really doesn’t fit on AFCitizens’ flier — I mean that as high praise — and to vote accordingly.

If you agree, how about telling your friends? Share this graphic (or this post) on social media. Help them learn before they vote.

Learn before you vote 6

Water Rates, Debt, and That Cash Reserve


One of the numbers AFCitizens gets right in its campaign to take down city council incumbents is American Fork’s debt. The number is inherently a moving target, but according to the 2016 American Fork City budget (page 68), the City’s total debt as of July 1, 2015 (the beginning of the fiscal year), was about $52.3 million. That number is projected to be less than $49 million by the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2016.

On one hand, these are big numbers. Whether that’s too much debt for us is a judgment call. AFCitizens says it is, and we should blame the incumbents. I readily agree that much of it was avoidable, but blaming the incumbents is a bit too convenient and quite historically absurd.

On the other hand, the City is legally allowed to carry almost $200 million more debt than it has. That limit is not a single, universal number, and not all of the City’s debt is counted toward the limit (most is), but officially we’re at about 16 percent of our statutory debt limit. I am not saying we should borrow as much as we’re allowed, though I did favor borrowing a small fraction of that remaining margin for roads two years ago. (Most voters felt otherwise, though some now say they would vote differently.)

More than $41 million — over 75 percent — of our current debt relates to water, which brings us to our water bills. AFCitizens says they’re too high. That is also a judgment call, but I agree that they could have been lower, and I wish they were.

Kicking the Can Down the Road, 1990s Style

Several years ago, city leaders studied our increasingly poor water situation at great length and decided that the wisest and least expensive course of action was to borrow to install a pressurized irrigation system. They proposed a bond issue, which the voters overwhelming passed. Here’s the essential bit of history: had City leaders in the 1990s been willing to face the problem, the cost of the system would have been less than $10 million, instead of almost $50 million dollars. Instead, they did the “fiscally conservative” thing, kept taxes and rates low . . . and effectively borrowed $40 million from us in what was then the future. (They did much the same with roads, but that’s a separate discussion.)

The same timid City leaders allowed water rates to remain well below the cost of actually delivering water, so that our water bills were in effect subsidized by tax revenues. Meanwhile, nothing was being tucked away to help replace infrastructure (which is known to have a finite lifespan). Again, several years ago, later City leaders prudently raised water rates to a level that covers current costs and a good portion of known replacement costs.

As if this didn’t make our water rates high enough, most or all of the water bond payments could have come from impact fees from new construction, but then the economy tanked, and those fees dried up. So the debt the voters voted to incur has had to be paid through higher water rates.

Had City leaders and voters acted prudently in the 1990s, our water bills would be a lot lower. Fiscal conservatism is fine, and I don’t like high taxes and fees either. But sometimes saving a penny today costs us a dime down the road.

For what it’s worth, City leaders recently were able to find enough economies elsewhere to avoid passing on to the residents a sewer rate increase imposed by the sewer district.

The Rainy Day Fund

AFCitizens wants to blame the incumbents, so they keep saying — and candidate Allen Simpson has said — that the City has lots of money lying around that could be used to lower our rates. The none-too-subtle implications are these: current City leaders want the rates to be higher than they need to be, and water rates themselves, rather than being sensibly tied to real costs, can be whatever the city council wants them to be.

Which brings us to the City’s cash reserves. According to official sources, the statutory limit is 25 percent of the City’s annual budgeted revenue. Right now the City chooses to keep that between about 14 and 18 percent. (It fluctuates during the fiscal year.) It was 9 percent when the Great Recession hit, and more would have been a very good thing then.

AFCitizens says the City is at its statutory limit, when it doesn’t need to be. Their number is off by one-third or so, based on the FY2016 budget.

How large our cash reserves should be is a judgment call. Economic downturns, fighting a refinery fire which destroys much of the City’s firefighting equipment, or a natural disaster could suck up even the maximum allowable reserve very quickly — and two of those things have happened in recent years. To my mind, the prudent thing to do is to keep a generous reserve against the unpredictable, so we don’t have to go begging, borrowing, or taxing when a major, unbudgeted need arises.

Councilman Rob Shelton, the council’s resident financial guru, wrote this to me:

“I believe a true conservative plans a budget with revenue conservatively (thinking less income will come in) and expenses conservatively (thinking there would be an increase). At the end of the year, we use the excess to fund capital improvement projects like roads, waterlines, sewer, etc.

“This approach allows us to use the ‘plan for the worst and hope for the best’ type of budgeting. This last year we came close to the 25% reserve amount, due mainly to an increase in sales tax revenues. Good budgeting allows us to be pleasantly surprised at the end of the year with excess, rather than a shortfall. You take the excess and then apply it to one-time projects in the capital improvement plans.

“So this last year we took the excess and put it to work in the budget, and that dropped [the rainy day fund] down to just under 18%.”

That’s conservative enough for me, thank you.

With Fiscal Conservatives Like These, Who Needs Liberals?

We are in the bizarre position of hearing self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives argue that we’re preparing too well for a rainy day, and that the price of a thing (here, water) should be below the cost of actually delivering that thing in the short term and (when we consider infrastructure) in the long term as well. Are they making sense to you?

Even if they are, they’re getting some of the numbers badly wrong, as usual, and misplacing the blame for the numbers they’re getting right.

Learn before you vote — and please share the facts with your neighbors and friends.

Note: this blog post and the infographic were edited after publication to correct an error.

learn before you vote 5

Did American Fork Road Cut Its Road Budget by $450,000 This Year?

There is widespread agreement that American Fork’s roads are crumbling, and that rebuilding them should be a high priority in the City budget. Beyond this the rhetoric diverges.


For most of the campaign, one candidate and the local PAC which supports him – and whose flier he’s been distributing – have been telling people that, in the face of this great need, and despite having $10 million in cash for which they have no specific plans, city leaders cut the road budget by $450,000 from Fiscal Year 2015 to Fiscal Year 2016.

That supposed $10 million surplus is a tale we’ll consider soon. Today, we’re looking at the road budget. Here’s what official documents from the City say.

FY 2015: $3,051,000

FY 2016: $6,296,200

In other words, there is no $450,000 decrease. There is no decrease at all. There is more than a $3.2 million increase. The road budget more than doubled.

Even without a $2.55 million grant to fund the 900 West project, the road budget would have increased by $697,200 – that is, about 23 percent.

In fairness to candidate Allen Simpson, I note that after he spoke of this imaginary cut at a meet-the-candidates event ten days ago, one of the incumbents took him aside and gave him (and also explained) the real data. He didn’t make the same mistake a few days later, at last Saturday’s event.

On the other hand, the PAC whose flier he’s distributing doesn’t back down from its numbers, even when they’re provably false. They’re just using the City’s numbers, they say. If they’re wrong, it’s the City’s fault.

I’m using the City’s numbers too. Here are links to two documents the City provided me last week. This summary is clear and sufficient for today’s point. This spreadsheet has more detail.


Two years ago, the same PAC told voters that the City had no plan for the proposed bond funds, when there was a very detailed, carefully prioritized, very public plan.

They supported a candidate who said that it would be better to drive on gravel streets than to borrow one dime to rebuild roads.

They supported another candidate who threw all sorts of crazy numbers and accusations around, and who would not be moved even when City financial experts took great pains to explain things to him. He also claimed to have studied the City budget and found $3 million in obvious cuts that could be made right away, but then he couldn’t identify them – during or in the months after his successful campaign.

Both of these candidates won in 2013. One of them grew into the job quite respectably. The other, well . . . Word on the street is that even AFCitizens is embarrassed by him now. It puts one in mind of an adage which seems appropriate to Halloween: People with knowledge know that Dr. Frankstein was not the monster; he was the man who created the monster. People with wisdom understand that Dr. Frankenstein was the monster.

Allen Simpson is not a monster. He comes to the campaign with a much better resume of volunteer service to the city than one of these candidates I mentioned, and with a willingness to learn that the other 2013 AFCitizens darling has not shown. But Mr. Simpson still the PAC’s favorite, and he’s still passing out their stuff.

Meanwhile, the voters are learning too. In 2013, awash in a small flood of bad data, they defeated the road bond proposal. Two years later, a lot of them are saying they wish they’d voted for it.

This story has several morals. Here are two.

If AFCitizens bets the political farm on a number, it’s probably wrong. (But there’s nothing you or I can do to persuade them of that, because they know that they are nice, honest people who are not wrong.)

And learn before you vote.

If you want to help counteract the misinformation some folks are spreading to sway voters, please tell your friends and neighbors, and post this infographic on social media.

American Fork road budget

They Want You to Think American Fork Has the Highest Property Tax Rate

What Utah Football Has to Do with It

Suppose you’re a University of Utah football fan (as I am, when they aren’t playing BYU, and I’m sad about the USC thing last week). But your grandfather is a died-in-the wool Cougar. You know the type. In his mind, it is a holy war, and you don’t remember the last time he was willing to concede that the Utes made a good play or got a good win. When the Utes beat the Cougars, as often happens, he blames the referees. If he cannot find the slightest cause to blame them for enforcing the rules unevenly or ignoring the rules when it’s to Utah’s advantage, he complains that the rules themselves are stupid and skewed, and blames the refs for enforcing bad rules.

Suppose that in a small fit of hubris and wrath, he said to you, “If the Utes are ever ranked first in the polls, I’ll give you $25,000.”

Fortunately, his eyesight is failing. So when the Utes were ranked #4 the other week, you dropped by (as you often do, because you’re a good, devoted grandchild). This time, you said, “Grandpa, I’m going to read to you from the college football poll in order, as usual. By the way, BYU got a few votes, but didn’t make the top 25. As always, I’ll start with the last of the ten on my list and work up, because I know you like the suspense.”

Conveniently — and so you couldn’t accused of lying — you had typed up a list with ten teams in order, starting with Utah at #4. You left off the top three, but you were careful to get the next ten in the right order, because accuracy matters. You started reading at the bottom, as you said, and you didn’t give their numerical rankings. You left him thinking that Utah was ranked #1.

“I guess I’d better write you a check,” he said, because his eyes are failing, but his memory’s fine. “Better yet, you write the check, and I’ll sign it.”

Grand Larceny

You would never try to put the wrong amount on the check — say, $125,000 — even though he’ll never notice. After all, you balance his checkbook too, and there’s plenty of money in his accounts. You could probably get away with it — and if he caught you, you could say it was a mistake, and he’d likely believe you. But you would never do any of that. It would be immoral. It would be criminal.

Come to think of it, you would never deceive Grandpa with bad data, so he’d give you $25,000 on a false pretense. Not only would that also be a felony. It would be piling a sin on top of a sin. (The one on the bottom is loving money so much you’re willing to deceive people to get more of it.)

property tax ratesHere’s my question. If you wouldn’t do any of those things, why in the world would you publish a flier with a graphic showing that American Fork has the highest property tax rate among Utah County cities, when three cities have higher rates?

You could protest that all the numbers you put in the graph are true. And you could point out that the graph would be unreadably crowded if it showed all 25 Utah cities. So you had to leave them out. And you could protest that you never actually said that American Fork’s rate was the highest. And all of that would be true.

Do you really expect me to believe that you left out all the cities with higher tax rates just for the sake of readability? It looks like you’re trying to fool the voters, tricking them with partial truths so they’ll give you political power. (I’m sure it’s for their own good.)

You might argue, even if you did skew the visual results, the higher point you’re making is God’s Honest Truth: our taxes are too high. So that justifies taking some liberties with your graphics.

So I guess I have two more questions.

First, if it’s God’s Honest Truth, why do you have to deceive people so they’ll agree with you?

Second, would you ever trust someone like you with political power, control over tens of millions of dollars of tax revenues, and your freedom?

So You’re Not Really One of Those People

Gentle reader, I assume you’re not one them. So what can you do to help? Post the graphic below (or this one) on Facebook or somewhere, or e-mail it to your friends and neighbors. Talk to your friends, in person and on social media. Tell them what you know. Some of them will listen. And if you want the raw data, it’s here at Utah.gov: 2015 Utah Tax Areas with Tax Rates.

Learn before you vote.

Do American Forkers Really Have the 4th or 5th Highest City Taxes in Utah?

The short answer is no.

Yes, there’s a study that came out this summer, saying that the municipal tax burden on American Fork residents is the fourth or fifth highest in Utah. It used two different methodologies, which is why there are two different answers. Yes, AFCitizens and candidate Allen Simpson are passing out fliers around town touting that study.

But no, the study’s methodology is fatally flawed. And no, it’s not hard to explain.

American Fork tax burden deception

In this section of the AFCitizens flier Allen Simpson is distributing, the thought bubble cites the bad study.

The study calculated the tax burden on residents of various cities by adding the total property and sales tax revenues in the city, then dividing that amount by the number of residents in the city. See the problem? Among other things, it assumes that the bulk of sales tax revenue collected in American Fork is paid by residents of American Fork. A little common sense should be enough to make us reject those results. Why it wasn’t enough to make the folks who are quoting it in the current city council campaign reject the study is a fair question.

I’ve talked with American Fork City and Utah State officials, and none of them knows of a credible recent study of these things, but it is widely estimated that well more than half of the sales tax revenue collected in American Fork comes from shoppers who live elsewhere. The City’s largest single source of sales tax revenue, a large auto dealership — which collects customer addresses — has reported that about 90 percent of the sales tax it collects in American Fork comes from nonresidents.

This means at least two things: The study has grossly overreported American Fork residents’ tax burden. — unless, of course, you believe that American Forkers pay as much sales tax in other cities as nonresidents pay in ours. And the candidate who is passing out the flier, Allen Simpson, either doesn’t care about the facts (because the falsehood serves his political purposes) or is not disposed to dive deeply enough into them to understand them. Either way, we have here a temperament that may be poorly suited to service on the city council.

And this isn’t even one of the hard ones.

If you have a few minutes, read the study yourself, and decide for yourself. It’s a lot longer than this post, but it’s still not long.

There’s another problem with this part of the AFCitizens flier. It’s more technical. They’re mixing numbers from two studies — adding them together — and we have no way of knowing (did they check?) whether the two studies used compatible methodologies, similar definitions, the same time frame, etc. This is almost certain to lead to unreliable results.

I agree that some things are more costly in American Fork than they should be — water rates, for one thing. We’ll talk about those, and one faction’s misrepresentation of them, very soon.

Oh, and one more thing. If you’re so inclined, please post this graphic on Facebook or link to it on Twitter. Or e-mail it to your friends in American Fork. Or all of the above.

Help us spread the word. Because good people with bad data make bad decisions.

Learn before you vote.

Learn before you vote.

AFelection.info: Who We Are, What We Want, and What We’ll Be Doing

We realize this isn’t what everyone does in politics, but if you’re going to read the information and analysis you find here at afelection.info, we want you to know who we are, what we want, and what we’ll be doing here, so you can evaluate it properly.

Who We Are

We are David Rodeback, who’s doing most or all of the writing; and Rod Martin, who paid for the signs you’ll probably see around town, which say “Learn BEFORE you vote – afelection.info,” and who weighs in on the content and approach of these posts, among other things. Several other helpful folks have provided facts, opinions, and encouragement.

We are not affiliated with or funded by any candidate or campaign. No candidate approves what we post here. Some candidates may like it, but probably not all of them.

What We Want

What we want is simple: good local government. We think this depends on blowing away the chaff — the deception and misinformation which sometimes spreads systematically about key issues — and electing the best available candidates to the American Fork City Council and as as Mayor of American Fork.

For example, in the 2015 election cycle we want you to be able to evaluate the truth and accuracy of a report that American Fork residents have the fourth or fifth highest tax municipal tax burden in Utah. The study is fatally flawed, and the flaw is pretty obvious, but one PAC doesn’t care, and one candidate is passing around their fliers. We won’t just explain; we’ll give you a link to the study, so you can check it yourself.

When you see a graph showing (but carefully not actually saying) that American Fork has the highest property tax rate among cities in Utah County, we want you to know the full picture before you vote — because good people with bad information make bad decisions. We want you to realize that they left cities with higher rates off the graph. We’ll leave it to you to wonder why. We ‘ll give you a link to official documents with the needed information.

When they complain that water rates are unnecessarily high and blame this on the incumbents, we want you to understand the truth, which is . . . well, different.

And if you just feel like you don’t know the candidates very well, we’ll give you bite-size audio chunks of the candidates answering questions at public meet-the-candidates events. We won’t hide any of the audio — though we’ll delete some of the housekeeping, the Pledge of Allegiance, and so on. We’ll provide some notes to help you keep track of what’s going on in each chunk, such as a list of questions and the order in which the candidates answered each question.

What You Can Do

Learn before you vote. Then vote as you think best. (If you voted early, we’ll assume you knew the candidates already, at least well enough to pick three of the four with confidence. But you’re still welcome here.)

You have the opportunity to comment on virtually anything at this site. Comments are moderated to avoid spam, but you don’t have to agree with anything here to have your comment approved. You just have to be civil and relevant — and the test for relevancy is pretty generous.

If you like what you find here — or just want to discuss it more widely — please post links on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. We’ll give you some graphics to help with that.

Back to Where We Started

If you want more chatter from the same people, David Rodeback’s old blog about politics and everything else is still at LocalCommentary.com. He blogs occasionally about politics and government (not specific to American Fork) at FreedomHabit.com and about books, writing, religion, and other topics — also occasionally — at BendableLight.com.

Or drop by Rod Martin’s business, World Class Auto Repair, on Main Street in American Fork.