County Council hopes Jensen stays on water board
There's a little message tucked into the Salt Lake County Council's picks to fill two of the county's five seats on the Central Utah Water Conservancy District board.
But it's not the message Democratic County Councilman Randy Horiuchi wanted to send.
Horiuchi tried over and over again Tuesday to get his colleagues to support another term on the board for former Councilwoman Jani Iwamoto. Her term expires at year's end, as does that of Councilman Michael Jensen, a Republican who also is serving an extended chairmanship of the board overseeing the Central Utah Project, which brings water from the Uinta Mountains to the Wasatch Front.
"As a Salt Lake County resident, I would like some diversity on the [CUP] board. â¦ She's the only woman, only minority, she's from Salt Lake County, she works hard and the rural guys like her," Horiuchi said of Iwamoto, a Japanese-American from Millcreek who then-Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. appointed to the water board in 2005.
Iwamoto then was elected to the County Council in 2008, but opted not to seek re-election last year.
That's why Jensen and seven other council members, on both sides of the political aisle, rebuffed Horiuchi's repeated arguments and voted not to include Iwamoto's name among six nominees sent to Gov. Gary Herbert, who will make the two appointments. They would join Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan, water attorney Dallin Jensen and water broker Claude Hicken as the county's representatives.
"I like Jani. She's done a fabulous job on the board," Jensen said. "But to stay in compliance with [state law], we have to have more elected officials on the board."
At least half of the 16 board positions must be held by elected officials, he added.
"Let's make Uintah [County] send an elected official," Horiuchi argued so Iwamoto could retain her seat.
But Democratic Councilman Arlyn Bradshaw said he felt it was more appropriate for the council to nominate current members to represent county interests in the massive water project.
So on an 8-1 vote, the council is nominating Jensen, Richard Snelgrove and Steve DeBry for the "Republican" seat and Jim Bradley, Sam Granato and Bradshaw for the "Democratic" seat.
The council's nomination letter will note that Jensen and Bradley are its two preferred appointees.
In supporting Jensen, the council is sending Gov. Herbert a message that it disagrees with his plan to restrict board members to two terms.
Just finishing his second term, Jensen noted that the CUP board extended his tenure as chairman into a fifth year "to make a statement to the governor that his two-term limit isn't the smartest move for water boards."
He argued that the long-range nature of water planning is best served by veteran trustees well versed in the intricacies of water law.
The council delivered the same message in September when the names it sent Herbert for two openings on the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District board included incumbents Royce Gibson and Richard McDonald. Both have served at least two terms on that board.
Zach Frankel, executive director of Utah Rivers Council, took umbrage at the idea elected officials are more competent to serve on a water board than civilians.
"This arrogance explains why Utahns are the most wasteful water users in the country, pay property taxes to encourage the school across the street to spray water on hot sidewalks in August and," he added, "are forced to pay $25 million to prepare an [environmental impact study] for the Lake Powell pipeline boondoggle."
Without hesitation, the Salt Lake County Council agreed unanimously Tuesday to issue a $105 million "conduit bond" on behalf of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation to expand its cancer research.
"This is a privilege and an honor to be able to help with something like this, especially for cancer research for children," Council Chairman Steve DeBry said, setting the stage for a vote that took place before the foundation team arrived to make its presentation.
County Chief Financial Officer Darrin Casper noted that a conduit bond does not obligate county taxpayers in any way. "We're not pledging our credit or money," he said. "We just put our name on the bond to get the low interest rate."
In a letter asking the county for the bond, Foundation President David Huntsman said the 220,000-square-foot facility will be dedicated to studying children's cancer, the genetics of cancer, cancer risk and prevention, advanced therapeutics and molecular imaging, and wellness and survivorship.
Huntsman said the foundation has received pledges so far for $80.5 million, and is expecting the Legislature to come up with $20 million (lawmakers set aside $2.5 million of that last year) for what will be a state-owned building south of the existing cancer institute.
Issuance of a tax-exempt bond would allow construction to begin next year, before many pledges are fulfilled over the next decade.