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With proposals ranging from the status quo to the controversial, an independent redistricting commission submitted plans this week to redraw Salt Lake County Council districts.
The council provided plenty of thank yous to the panel Tuesday but offered no discussion about a proposed redistricting overhaul that could force two council members longtime District 3 Republican David Wilde and District 4 Democrat Jani Iwamoto into the same district.
"This is a good, good model for other governments in our state," Democratic Councilman Jim Bradley said.
What makes the commission uncommon is its balance. The council formed the independent board in 2009 to make a historically hyperpartisan process less political.
With three Democrats, three Republicans and one independent, the commission has spent months reconfiguring the council's six districts. It came up with three proposals, two of which move Wilde into neighboring District 4.
The panel's preferred plan divides the county geometrically. Another follows city boundaries to preserve "communities of interest." And the third which is the only one not to pit Wilde and Iwamoto against each other sticks as closely as possible to the council's existing districts.
Mayor Peter Corroon, a Democrat, considers the redistricting plans well-crafted.
"The nonpartisan commission presented three viable options," Corroon said, "a true demonstration of working for people not politics."
The council voted Tuesday to accept the commission's work, giving no indication of which plan it prefers.
But Iwamoto jokingly asked redistricting commissioner Tim Chambless, who lives in her district, what she had done to deserve a prospective electoral showdown with a fellow council member.
Wilde, who previously questioned the plans removing him from his district, remained silent.
Chambless characterized the redistricting process as an "experiment in democracy."
"After nine months," he told the council, "I feel like we are giving birth and handing it off to you."
The council will pick a plan by year's end, but Chairman Max Burdick, a Republican, provided no specific time frame.
Democratic Councilman Arlyn Bradshaw described the process as "untainted." He then appealed to his colleagues. "Hopefully we will be equally as fair in our decision making."
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County may help Holladay project
Salt Lake County is working out the details of a $450,000 loan to Holladay for stream diversion at the site of a proposed hotel.
It's a governmental incentive for the so-called Canyon Slopes Square development, which includes a 121-room hotel, restaurants and other amenities. The project is expected to generate more than $250,000 a year in new tax revenue for the county.
Republicans Steve DeBry and Richard Snelgrove were the only County Council members to vote against moving forward with the loan, calling it an improper governmental subsidy, especially when the county is strapped for cash.
"I'm all for economic development in its proper place," Snelgrove said. "But this is a poster child for a bad use of taxpayer funds."
Councilman Randy Horiuchi, a Democrat, defended the loan as an "investment" and said it makes long-term financial sense for the county.