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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended April 30, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 02May00

Summarized by Lena Booth

LDS Council Chair Will Sit Out Of Mall Decisions To Avoid Conflict
Salt Lake Tribune 26Apr00 P2
By Rebecca Walsh: Salt Lake Tribune

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- In an opinion released Tuesday, City Attorney Roger Cutler advised Salt Lake City Council Chairman Carlton Christensen to avoid discussions and a final vote on a proposed Grand Mall west of Salt Lake City International Airport in order to avoid a perceived conflict of interests.

Christensen works in the land development division of Zions Securities Corp., a subsidiary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his brother works for Property Reserve Inc., a nonprofit investment corporation affiliated with the church.

Property Reserve owns land at 5600 West and Interstate 80 where KFR Utah and Forest City Enterprises propose building a "value-oriented megamall." And Zions Securities manages some of Property Reserve's buildings. Christensen and his brother don't own the property, however their jobs connect them to the sale. Christensen will not benefit financially, but Cutler figures the councilman could feel pressure to approve the deal his brother worked on."It is likely he is very interested in the rezoning and consequent sale succeeding, and a person in your position could be torn between feelings of familial loyalty and public duty," Cutler wrote. "The close connection of your brother to this project would be viewed by the court as creating psychological pressures that would draw into serious question your ability to vote objectively.

"A public official should not be put in that position," he added. Last week, Christensen voluntarily left a discussion of KFR's request for a zoning change.

Mayor Rocky Anderson and other council members are concerned that downtown and Gateway businesses will suffer if the mall opens. KFR is asking for $14.5 million in public subsidies in exchange for $234 million in annual sales.

Christensen was one of the project's few wholehearted supporters. He says he now will schedule any mall discussions for the end of council meetings and leave early.

"I feel comfortable with this process," he said Tuesday.

Cutler decided Christensen has not misused his office, despite the councilman's last-minute lobbying of legislators to scrape together funding for a freeway interchange that would feed the mall.


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