High-profile local media guru and ad-agency owner Tom Love has been caught up in the escalating war of words, signs and wagging fingers over Tuesday's vote on whether Millcreek township becomes a city or not.
In a press release, the Future of Millcreek Association's Sue Astle accused "corporate interests and big money" as fueling the "no" campaign against incorporation.
The press release states that Love and his agency, Love Communications, have contributed "cash and in-kind donations" totaling $18,000 to the "no" effort, which "represent more than 72 percent of the total donations" to the cause.
The release goes on to paint Love's agency as "closely affiliated with Salt Lake County," claiming that "lucrative communications contracts for the company are at stake, along with the management of Salt Lake County political campaigns." The group cited the agency's handling of the ad campaign for the transition from the police fee to the new SLVLESA district tax as an example of its work for the county.
City Weekly asked Love for a comment. His response, tongue-in-cheek, is the following: "Because of Citizens United, I decided to form my own super PAC. As there were already a host of people involved in many national elections, I decided to focus on something closer to home. And since I live in Millcreek and fear the leadership of the many, of the people pushing incorporation, I decided to get involved."
However, Love also wrote an e-mail to Lamont Tyler, treasurer of the pro-incorporation group the Future of Millcreek, in which he responded in more serious tones to Tyler's posting of the same information on the group's website.
He noted that "While we do have a
small contract with SLVESA, neither the County nor UPD is a client at
all, let alone a 'principal client,' as you assert. I, personally, and
the firm are very active in county politics, as you have come to find
out, so I make it a point not to seek out county business or RFPs."
Love pointed out in the e-mail that he is a Millcreek resident of 16 years. "My motivation is a personal one, as a resident, who fears you and the potential leadership involvement with a new city you and some others in your group might play. Thus, I got involved, have committed many hours, walked almost 1,000 homes, attended many meetings, and have donated, both personally and professionally, to fight what I think is an unnecessary intrusion into my life. That's democracy."
He concluded, "For you to try and portray me and my company as something that it isn't, to insinuate that my interest is financial and to be misleading with facts, is something that shall not go unchallenged."
Love acknowledged that he was "an enormous fan" of the Unified Police Department/Unified Fire Authority model of shared police and fire services across the valley, rather than the city model that Cottonwood Heights' Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore and Salt Lake County mayoral candidate Mark Crockett both advocate for.
Incorporation of Millcreek, Love argues, threatens the UPD/UFA model, since, according to documents produced by the incorporators, they have a significant interest in self-policing, although what kind of model that might be—signing up with a neighboring city's police department, for example—is still unclear.