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UTOPIA, the financially troubled fiber-optic network with more than a dozen Utah cities as members, recently asked advertising firms to submit bids for a new marketing campaign.

Among the 10 companies that bid on the project was the Summit Group, which sent a four-person team to make its presentation to UTOPIA's board.

One member of that team was Mike Winder, who also happens to be the mayor of West Valley City, the largest member city of UTOPIA that recently agreed to spend $82,000 from its general fund to help fund some litigation on behalf of the network. Winder also has been a vocal cheerleader for UTOPIA's efforts to get bond approvals from its member cities.

Other bidders, who noticed Winder in the presentation for Summit Group, wondered if the mayor of the network's largest member would give his company an advantage in getting the contract.

In the end, the Summit Group did not get the contract and Winder said he has always been open about his potential conflicts.

It's not the first time being an elected official has created a sticky situation for Winder, whose job as mayor is just part-time, so he needs another career to make a living.

Winder, you may recall, wrote a public apology after he penned a testimonial to the greatness of the radioactive waste company EnergySolutions that appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune as a paid advertisement. The Summit Group has a contract to provide advertising and marketing for EnergySolutions and Winder's use of his title as mayor of West Valley City, while also working as an advertising agent for EnergySolutions, looked a little awkward.

When he was a member of the West Valley City Council a few years ago, Winder used the city's e-mail system to promote his new book, Presidents and Prophets: The Story of America's Presidents and the LDS Church. He encouraged city employees to tell all their friends about the book.

He later admitted that was a mistake as well.

As for the potential conflict with UTOPIA, Winder said he has always publicly declared his employment with the advertising firm and has been diligent to avoid conflicts. He has told his city manager, Wayne Pyle, who sits on UTOPIA's board, to recuse himself from any board votes that might create a conflict because of Winder's employment.

Winder, by all accounts, is a rising star in the Utah Republican Party and has been mentioned as a possible GOP candidate for Salt Lake County mayor in 2012.

Core values • Before Rep. Craig Frank finally gave up the fight to keep his House seat, he had a small group of allies who tried to find ways to keep him in the Legislature, even while the majority of his fellow Republicans were not willing to circumvent the Utah constitutional requirement that a legislator live in his or her district.

The group of supporters were the core members of the conservative "states-rights" advocacy group, the Patrick Henry Caucus, of which Frank was a founding member.

They might not have known it, but the Patrick Henry Caucus devotees were staying true to the name. Their aim was to have a special session and redraw the district's boundaries to include Frank, then have a special election to reinstate him.

That would have taken gerrymandering to a new level and guess who was one of the pioneers of gerrymandering:

Why Patrick Henry, of course.

In 1788, with Patrick Henry in control of the Virginia Assembly, he and his anti-federalist party drew the boundaries of Virginia's 5th Congressional District in an attempt to try to keep James Madison from winning a seat in Congress.

That was before the term gerrymandering was coined in 1812 in commemoration of Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry, who signed into law a redistricting plan designed to benefit his own party.

Patrick Henry's gerrymandering plan, alas, did not work. Madison was elected and, the next thing anybody knew, we had a Constitution.