See below for update.
It appears that astroturfing isn’t just for the Utah Taxpayers Association anymore. The Utah County Association of Realtors, a very powerful lobbying group, has been organizing a “public forum” entitled “What does UTOPIA mean for your home?” and has been using robocalls to promote attendance at it. The call says that UTOPIA will be in attendance, but they never extended an invitation to them, or to commercial real estate agents or brokers. They did, however, extend an invitation to the Utah Taxpayers Association and two anti-UTOPIA candidates for city council. Unsurprisingly, the low-scruples ousted Utah County GOP Chairman Taylor Oldroyd is the prime organizer.
I’d advise UTOPIA supporters in or around Orem to show up to the meeting at 1031 W. Center St. Orem on Tuesday October 25 at 2PM. There will no doubt be disinformation by the truckload that will have to be countered.
UPDATE: Per Chris Nichols, the president of the Utah County Association of Realtors, the Utah Taxpayers Association has been un-invited from the event. He stated that his goal is strictly to discuss the implications of transfer of title when a homebuyer has chosen to finance the installation including how it appears when doing a search on the property. He also made it clear that any attempts to derail the discussion beyond that would be thoroughly unwelcome.
Chris also stated that UTOPIA was invited, but the person whom he named as “someone who has done work for UTOPIA” was not a name I’m familiar with. Granted, I don’t know everyone on their payroll, but if the PR department doesn’t know anything about it, it kind of maybe didn’t exactly go to the right person. Sounds like they both had their wires crossed on that one.
For the record, he was pretty mad at me and spent over 10 minutes chewing me out on the phone. I tried to explain why I formed the opinion I did, but he had no interest in hearing it. The website for the event links straight to the light-on-facts UTA website and lists a smattering of candidates for city council in Orem, both of whom are anti-UTOPIA (though one of them is being a realist about the situation). These combined with questions that appear to imply that the UTOPIA contract causes significant real estate sale issues created a very bad public face. The website itself also has no contact information as to who the responsible party would be.
My take? He wasn’t holding a tight enough leash on his employee Oldroyd who then worked with the UTA to try and sneakily co-opt the event for his own political purposes. My publicizing of it was very embarassing (and understandably so) and he needed to take it out on someone right then and there. Hey Chris? No hard feelings this time, but maybe try to be a bit more understanding of where someone else is coming from next time around. A lot of bloggers wouldn’t be as gracious as I am to heavily update an article to show both sides.
UPDATE 2: For those who are interested, I have a copy of the robocall used to publicize the event. Link is below.
UCAR UTOPIA Robocall