UTA Threatening to Sue UTOPIA and Brigham City

Hot off of their misinformation campaign to residents, the Utah Taxpayers Association is now rattling their legal sabers at UTOPIA and Brigham City over the Special Assessment Area (SAA). The UTA is claiming that participants were deprived of due process because the terms were not explained properly and that there wasn’t a public hearing. These claims, however, are a matter of pure fiction. Many of the comments I’ve read indicate that the terms were explained and paper copies of the agreement provided via mail by the city. The initial meeting held in November to form the SAA was a public hearing and was well-attended.

What’s interesting, however, is that it was Qwest that initially filed FOIA requests with Brigham City to see the terms of the SAA, yet the UTA is the one making legal threats. My suspicion is that, after getting their butts kicked in court, Qwest wants to use the UTA as their proxy in these fights. The UTA refuses to disclose how much money individual members contribute or what influence any members exercise, ironic considering that they are protesting that there hasn’t been enough sunshine in the process.

The most galling part isn’t the lying and misrepresentation. At this point, it appears to be par for the course. No, what irks me the most is the UTA characterization of Brigham City residents as simple-minded fools just waiting to be duped by the first slick salesman that appears on their doorstep. I’ve met many residents and city employees from Brigham and I can tell you with complete certainty that they’re no dummies. They go to city council meetings, read the papers, and get informed on issues in a way that I wish their urban counterparts would consider trying out. (Seriously, I’ve found rural voters to be some of the sharpest tacks out there, especially when it comes to local politics.) How the UTA thinks it can simultaneously insult the intelligence of and purport to represent taxpayers is beyond me.

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10 Responses to UTA Threatening to Sue UTOPIA and Brigham City

  1. u235sentinel says:

    With soo many people fighting for fiber to the home, it’s a wonder the government hasn’t figured it out yet.

    Private sector services are not cutting it and we need alternatives.

  2. Andrew Parker says:

    UTOPIA is nothing more than a publically underwritten ponzi scheme. I live in West Valley and have impatiently waited for UTOPIA to fulfill its promises. The last time I inquired about a timetable for service for my neighborhood, I was told that it was not even on the schedule. In the meantime, I read about UTOPIA chasing contracts with other cities in Utah, using my tax money to expand into new markets while nothing has been done here in years. WVC politicians should be thrown out, its city manager should be fired, and UTOPIA management — current and previous — should be thrown in jail. Too much to hope for, I suppose. In the meantime, I await the announcement of a WVC monorail and marching band (at least we still have a mall and not just a hole in the ground — but there is still time to fix that).

  3. luminous says:

    using my tax money to expand into new markets while nothing has been done here in years.

    Utopia has yet to touch a single red cent of your tax payer dollars. The other area’s they have been pursuing will keep the amount they have to hit the city’s for in the tax pledges to a minimum.

    The real criminals are the lobbyists and legislators that tied Utopia’s hands and prevent them from being able to fully bond the network build out so that utopia wouldn’t generate enough revenue to avoid hitting the tax payer.

    Utopia is prevented from being able to bond out more then 50% the cost of the network due to a state law passed just before the city’s started Utopia. After Utopia’s initial bonding Qwest sued Utopia over their legal right to use utility poles they leased from Pacificorp delaying them for 18 months and costing them millions.

    Their is nothing wrong with the Politicians that brought their city’s into Utopia, Their is a problem with the incredible amount of graft and corruption in the State legislature and the incumbent Telephone company that has actively used every legal and sometimes illegal means to stop the city’s from using their right to self determination.

  4. Capt. Video says:

    There may be a little truth in what each of you say.

    Yes, the politicians passed a bad law at the request of the incumbents to protect them…but UTOPIA was fully aware of the law before they bonded. Their plan showed much higher take rates than anyone should have expected.

    …and yes, Qwest played hardball (as you would expect them to do to protect their business). In my opinion UTOPIA should have known enough to secure pole rights long before they were ready to build. That would be standard operating procedure for anyone that was ever involved in a cable TV build (they have a long history of pole attachment problems with phone and power companies)…but now I remember…UTOPIA didn’t hire any old cable dogs or old phone dogs…they hired all smart young “data” guys. When was the last time an ISP built any outside plant?

    I myself am unaware of any illegal means used to stop UTOPIA. With more than one attorney on the UTOPIA payroll and on all the city payrolls I would expect someone would have files suit if illegal action was taken?

    That all said, I believe UTOPIA’s MAIN problem was (and still is) the failure of a sufficient number of customers (30-40%), taking a sufficient number of services (2-3). UTOPIA’s failure was in large part due to a lack of support from the public in buying the products they offered.

    I think no more than 10% or so took all three services. Their video service never got off the ground as only 1 provider offered it. Too few customers signed up and took “data only”. You can’t pay for a fiber network with customers taking data only.

    UTOPIA made some big mistakes, but I don’t think they did things calling for jail time.

    UTOPIA’s failure should not be blamed on Qwest, they made all efforts to protect their business as they are required to do, or on the Utah legislature that passed a stupid law to protect their big campaign contributing companies, that’s the way politics works and it’s legal.

    UTOPIA failed to convince the majority of the public that they were offering a product they wanted at a price they were willing to pay. Sort of business basics??
    I believe that is where one should look.

    …and let’s not forget UTOPIA’s belief that they would be BIG…really BIG…so sure of their future that they would buy large numbers of things like set top boxes for video. Perhaps 90% were never used and are today worthless? Waste a million here and a million there and before you know it your talking real money.

  5. Jesse says:

    With more than one attorney on the UTOPIA payroll and on all the city payrolls I would expect someone would have files suit if illegal action was taken?

    Actually, UTOPIA feels that they would have a very strong case against Qwest. They feel, however, that their time, energy, and very limited money is better spent on building a network than suing a powerful ILEC.

  6. luminous says:

    In my opinion UTOPIA should have known enough to secure pole rights long before they were ready to build.

    They did the poles in question where owned by Pacificorp not Qwest.

    This is like John deer suing you because you used your neighbors snapper mower(with your neighbors permission), Its a ridicules abuse of the legal system that delayed Utopia 18 months and cost them Millions of dollars. I believe this behavior is illegal but Utopia is 100% right Qwest could drag this nonsense out for years and cost Utopia even more if they tried to litigate it.

  7. Andrew Parker says:

    My tax dollars may not have been spent yet, but a one year share of UTOPIA’s bond debt is in this year’s WVC budget.

    I can’t pay for a service that I can’t access. UTOPIA chose not to complete their network in WVC, but instead used their time and money to cherry pick and hook more cities. They have behaved like a disreputable contractor.

    UTOPIA seemes to have been flawed from the start. If the State was not on board they should have known that they would not have sufficient leverage against QWEST and the cable companies.

    I agree that the Legislature can be frustrating — to say the least. The reality, however, is that a project as complex as this cannot succeed without the Legislature’s blessing. As unfair as it may seem, to proceed without it is folly.

  8. Capt. Video says:

    I’ve seen from a Council packet from the last Orem Council meeting where an interlocal agreement was approved that transferred $65k from the City to UTOPIA to go toward settlement of a legal dispute. I’m not sure which lawsuit this is as I’ve heard of 2 that are afoot — RUS and the Taxpayers Association. I heard there was an executive session a month or so ago where the Board decided to pursue a lawsuit against RUS with the expectation that it may take 2 yrs and $2-3M to execute. I’m not sure if this money is intended for that or for the other lawsuit that I’ve heard rumor about — UTA suing on behalf of Tremonton residents “duped” into participating in the SAA. Maybe it’s something different altogether.

    Either way it looks like the cities have officially launched themselves down the slippery slope of subsidizing UTOPIA operations beyond just the bond guarantee.

    Not sure it will be much longer before we start seeing additional requests for transfers to UTOPIA for other operating costs. The budget did show operating costs above and beyond revenues and that difference has to come from somewhere.

  9. Dirk Poulsen says:

    Does anyone know of an internet service provider that can give service?

    Forest Street, Brigham City, Utah.

    If you do know of a real internet service provider please let me know.

    I need a 24/7 connection that is reliable.

    Preferably 50mb


    Dirk Poulsen

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