Budge Slide: questions remain

Judd Grossman, candidate for town council, wrote the following on his Facebook page. We reprint here only because we at Save Historic Jackson Hole have been asking ourselves the same questions.

Regarding the Budge Slide, Town needs to do a better job of answering the following questions:

  • Who’s fault is the slide?
  • Do we understand what went wrong and have we taken steps to make sure that the errors aren’t being repeated?
  • Why should the taxpayers foot the bill?
  • If the taxpayers pay up front to fix the slide will Town be able to clawback the money once the courts decide who is liable?
  • Is the Town legal team aggressively fighting for the taxpayer’s interests?
  • What are the real odds of the slide creating catastrophic damage to Broadway?
Judd Grossman
Judd Grossman

Often public safety is used as an unassailable argument for government initiatives. Public safety is a core government responsibility, but needs to be tempered with return on investment based on real actuarial math, and a careful analysis of who is actually liable for the remediation. I’m reminded of the Great Recession bank bail out where the taxpayers were cajoled into bailing out the private sector in the name of impending economic disaster.

The SPET ballot process is the perfect venue for these concerns to be discussed and resolved. Which begs the question: Why are the Town and County killing SPET after August, and replacing it with their own unaccountable, blank check, money grab in the form of a General Excise Tax Increase? Are they expecting that we won’t have any more unexpected (or preplanned) big ticket capital expenses in the future?

2016 Candidate field set

The deadline to file for Town and County offices has passed.

As of 5pm today, the official list of candidates for Mayor, Town Council and board of County Commissioners is as follows:



Sara Flitner    (sara@flitner.net)

Mark Obringer    (mobringer@bresnan.net)

Stephen McDonald   (stephen.mcdonald@jacksonhole.com)

Pete Muldoon   (jacksonholepete@gmail.com)




Hailey Morton Levinson   (hailey@haileyforcouncil.com)

Jim Stanford   (jamesestanford@gmail.com)

Judd Grossman   (campaign@juddgrossman.com)

Jessica Sell Chambers   (jessica.s.chambers@gmail.com)

Anne Schuler   (a.schuler@bresnan.net)



Natalia Duncan Macker-D   (mackerforwyo@gmail.com)

Lisa daCosta-R   (lisa.dacosta@gmail.com)

Sandy Shuptrine-D   (sandyshuptrine@wyom.net)

Greg Epstein-D   (info@gregepstein.com)

Nikki Gill-R   (nikki@jhherefordranch.com)

Marvin “Trey” Davis III-R   (audreyntrey@gmail.com)


Labor camps shot down

The town discussion on a potential campsite for temporary laborers derailed before it ever got going. Councilman Jim Stanford appeared to be the only one interested in exploring the idea but he was not joined by his colleagues.

Don Frank said, “I have to ask the philosophical question: Is it the government’s job to house employees…or private businesses that should take the lead to house their own employees?”

Both Frank and Bob Lenz had no appetite for using the Home Ranch lot as a temporary camping site. They said that belongs to parking guests of downtown Jackson.

Mayor Sara Flitner, on the verge of tears, said she feels for the families currently living out of their cars or on the brink of being homeless.

“I’m disappointed. I’m a mom. The backseat of a car is nowhere for a family to live,” Flitner said. “I know our community is facing pressure, but I am going to encourage this council to focus on permanent, longterm solutions for the people who are cleaning our toilets, cleaning our schools, [etc]…”

Flitner called some solutions well-intentioned (“Like the father and son who put the baby bison in the back of their Tahoe,” she said) but without sensibility. The mayor said she was particularly dismayed by a call she received last night informing her that one family in the valley may be asking their 15-year-old daughter to drop out of high school so she can get a job and help the family make rent on their studio apartment.

Stanford blamed online social media discussions earlier today for derailing the discussion before it could even get going.

“It’s unfortunate that before we could even have this discussion there was an online ‘arms race’ that seeks to distort this issue,” Stanford said.

He added that he was willing to “take the bullet on this” if that’s what it took to “show a little bit of compassion for folks being squeezed right now.”

The council decided to take no further action on the possibility of temporary camping facilities within town limits but did agree to let Stanford explore potential options with county leaders on possible suitable sites for temporary housing.



Come, Work, Camp…(tent not provided)

We will be watching with great interest this afternoon’s town workshop where discussion will take place about creating possible camping areas for Jackson’s peon workforce.

Councilman Jim Stanford has led the charge to create temporary man camps where 90-day wonders could come and toast marshmallows around the campfire in between their shifts schlepping food and folding sheets for tourists.

These labor camps have been proposed at various public parks, including Phil Baux Park, Miller Park, and Powderhorn Park. There is also slated for discussion the possibility of using Karns Meadow as place to plop as many as 150 tent sites.

Tent city

Really? This is where we are headed?

Instead of turning to government for expensive and radical solutions to our housing crisis, perhaps we should step back and take a hard look at what kind of labor force it takes to support our current lifestyle and economy in Jackson Hole. Maybe we should learn—as a lot of Americans have had to—to live within our means. Sure, we are the wealthiest county in the nation measured by the almighty dollar, but what of the dismal state of our labor capital?

If we can’t support a bountiful summer season of tourism—if we can’t staff the hotels and restaurants, keep traffic moving, and pay for the public services demanded—maybe we should go back to the drawing board and ask ourselves some deeper questions. We can’t go on like this.

Private citizens in South Park said they don’t want to live next to more housing. Private citizens in JH Golf & Tennis said they don’t want to live next to more housing. Private citizens near the Bar J Wrangler property said they don’t want to live next to more housing.

Fine, that’s their right as a property owner. But our rights as “The Public” is to have our parks be parks. Places of refuge where we can escape the big city rush and trade concrete for grass. Guess what? We don’t want major employers’ workers living on “our” land either. That’s not a solution. Either pay them more or house them.

And it’s doubtful the Karns family envisioned their beloved meadow would become the home of a bus depot and then a labor camp. They sold Karns Meadow to the town for pennies on the dollar with the understanding that it would be forever protected. Now the town is contemplating buying their way out of that conservation deal.

It is a sad and dire state of affairs when these types of drastic measures are proposed. We can’t just keep flogging the oxen. At some point we need to take responsibility for the boundless greed and growth machine we’ve created.

Enough will never be enough for some. It’s time to step off this treadmill and stop this madness.

To be clear, Save Historic is not opposed to personal opinions and private property rights. We respect any individual’s right to maintain/retain their property value. Proposed housing solutions and developments should have to adhere to the expressed desires of the community as stated in the 2012 Comp Plan and governed by current land development regulations with respect to wildlife, natural resources, and areas where denser housing has been zoned appropriate. 

Our intent is simply to point out instances that underscore the obvious: We are a community at maximum carrying capacity. Building and bussing our way out of our housing problems is not a solution. 

No Guest Shot

At Save Historic Jackson Hole we are always trying to get our message to the community in the most cost-effective manner. Big developments are taking place in the LDR revisions following the 2012 Comp Plan and we want citizens to know what these growth-enabling changes will bring to the valley: more people, more hotels, more businesses, more traffic.

We believe there is a finite carrying capacity for this valley and we are rapidly approaching it as lack of housing, traffic jams, and other indicators would suggest. Our latest message was denied free publication in a timely manner by the News&Guide. After consecutive Guest Shots by pro-growth individuals (the current mayor Sara Flitner and the former mayor Mark Barron) we thought it only right that an alternative voice of reason be heard. We could not get in under the Guest Shot for the 5-11-16 issue of the News&Guide so we decided to take out a paid ad.

Find it on page A22 in this week’s paper.



Spending spree on housing begins

housing moneyThe town council has decided they will wait no longer. They will not wait on whether or not a Housing Authority ever reshapes into anything trustworthy. They will not wait to see if voters will decide to tax themselves so government can build subsidized housing for the less fortunate in JH which includes (by the mayor’s definition) $500,000 homes for lawyers who make a million dollars a year.
The town council has already forked over $1.65 million to the Housing Trust for the workforce rental project slated for Redmond and Hall. Town leaders said they could scrape up another $2 million from the budget. The Trust said thanks, but that’s still not enough. They want a total of $6 million from the town and/or county by next summer before they will begin construction on what Mayor Sara Flitner called a “top priority” project.

At a budgeted $12 million, total, the 27 units would work out to a subsidized $444,444 each.

We enjoyed Cody Brinton’s response to the news story on this in the News&Guide.

We reprint here:

Cody Brinton takes aim at taxpayer waste.
Cody Brinton takes aim at taxpayer waste.

“Mayor Flitnor I’d like to remind you this is the USA and not france and not socialism—The government has no business in the housing industry– a couple of points— If the politicos where serious about solving the housing shortage they would remove much regulation– they would allow trailer parks so Juan- Jane and Jerry could buy there own homes- have pride in ownership and some skin in the tax paying game– I promise you this—you are running folks out by raising taxes to cover others housing– It is not my responsibility as a tax payer to help the resorts and tomahawk shops have employees— cut regulation so they build their own employee housing. Your bed tax is working your driving more people here and not using the money for the services needed. If you raise my sales tax— I wont buy anything but groceries and when our defunct legislators put a food tax on I will commute to purchase it— Your like a bunch of pick pocketing horse thieves stealing tax dollars to create housing that devalues my home– Not one more penny of my tax dollar to house ANYONE– The resorts can block out rooms for their employees but your not going to reach into my pocket to help them attain high profits! In matter of a few weeks utilities could be laid for mobile homes– easily several hundred spots could be open for people fill- the problem is you think these ugly poorly constructed homes your putting up are superior to modern mobil homes— and your wrong.”

— Cody Brinton


Editorial War!

An all-out war is being waged over your community. It will be vital in the months ahead to stay informed and flesh out truths amongst the lies. As you head to the polls this summer/fall, you will be asked to make some big decisions regarding the future of this valley. Until then, expect to be marketed to. Often.

It’s already begun. Two opposing viewpoints are running this week as guest opinions in Jackson’s two newspapers.