The United Effort Plan continues to hurtle toward a conclusion, but not everyone is convinced it will work.
Last week I wrote about the deadline to apply to the board of the controversial polygamous trust. That deadline came and went Thursday.
Tuesday afternoon, I called attorney Roger Hoole to see if he thought the process was going to work. He wasn’t optimistic.
Hoole, who represents several people who have left the FLDS church, has long favored distributing the trust’s assets. Tuesday, he expressed skepticism that authorities would be able to find enough qualified people to fill a governing board.
“I can’t imagine why any person who is truly independent would be willing to serve,” he said.
In light of the recent deadline, Hoole’s concerns may be justified; only six people applied to serve on board, according to Utah State Courts spokeswoman Nancy Volmer. Those people will be vetted by the judge in the case, the attorneys general offices from Utah and Arizona and Bruce Wisan, the accountant appointed in 2005 to oversee the trust.
In other words, not everyone who applies is a shoo-in, which could be a problem because authorities want five people on the board.
Neither Volmer nor Hoole knew of plans to extend the application deadline so more people could apply.
Hoole also argued Tuesday that many of the homes owned by the trust could be easily distributed to people who want them. Hoole said he wished Wisan, in his role as special fiduciary, would hand out those homes.
The UEP owns much of the property in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. Many of the homes are occupied by both current and former FLDS members, but matters are complicated because in some cases both current and past occupants may want a property.
Hoole said he continues to speak out in favor of distributing the less-complicated properties, though he added that he is apparently the only person advocating for alternative solutions. He also said the state has a duty to the people living on UEP land, but that officials seem most interested in disentangling themselves from the case.
“The state of Utah is putting expediency over duty,” he said.
Judge Denise Lindberg, who is overseeing the UEP case, is not bound by the plan to appoint a board. Court documents reveal that if the effort to find and appoint a board doesn’t work, she still can opt for a different solution.
Jim Dalrymple II