‘Political Insiders’ say Biskupski is wrong to shun inland port negotiations

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski is on the opposite side of the Salt Lake City Council over the controversial inland port issue.

The city council struck a deal with state leaders over the port after negotiations between Biskupski and Gov. Gary Herbert broke down in May. During the second round of talks, Biskupski refused to participate saying the process was rushed and needed more public input. City council leaders said the state was going to move forward with or without the city on board, so they felt it was best to take part in the process. Biskupski further angered the council by refusing to allow city employees to participate in the negotiations.

Our “Political Insiders” say the city council’s willingness to engage in the process is the right approach, and Biskupski is in the wrong.

94% of the Republicans on our panel, 76% of the Democrats and 80% of our readers say the Salt Lake City Council is taking the correct approach over negotiations on the inland port. 


Selected anonymous comments

I continue to be amazed at how someone who was a remarkably effective Democrat legislator can be such an ineffective Mayor. Mayor Biskupski lost this fight at the Legislature but also failed ever to articulate a coherent public message. The average SLC voter doesn’t care about the insider baseball between her and the council. The whole issue just made her look like an obstructionist who can’t move an issue past the finish line. The Mayor lost on this issue bigly.

Let’s get this straight: Biskupski handled the closed-door negotiations during the legislative session. She did not bring in other potential allies like the council, and the legislature screwed them. Didn’t she hire Ken Bullock to save the day on the inland port bill? She then pushed hard for a special session in May only to back out at the last minute. Yet now she claims that she was not invited to participate and that the process needed more public input? Wow. Thankfully the city council has responsible adults who recognized the need to negotiate a deal on behalf of city residents. Unfortunately, the council was in a tough spot because of the Mayor’s failures earlier. No wonder Democrats are politically irrelevant in this state.

The legislature was moving forward with this with or without the City’s input. Biskupski’s refusal to participate is just another example of her egocentric leadership style. She believes she was elected queen rather than the mayor in a mayor, council form of government. She is a one-term mayor, and the city will be better when she’s gone. Kudos to the council for stepping in and showing the leadership Biskupski is incapable of showing.

Right or wrong, the state has the power. The mayor’s failure to engage in negotiations demonstrates poor leadership. It’s better to be on the train helping to drive it than being run over by it.

A combination of both was needed: good cop/bad cop. I think the Mayor (having more experience with legislative players than the Council) understood this.

The mayor’s approach was myopic and foolish.

The mayor and council members were elected to represent the residents of SLC. If they aren’t present at the bargaining table, how can they represent their constituents’ interests?

The mayor came off as really petty.

Governing requires the willingness to be involved in negotiations and plans that you may be opposed to in order to make the outcomes more acceptable to you your position. The Mayor is ducking her responsibility to provide insight into the planning for the port.

Just watching the hearing today it was clear that Erin Mendenhall understood better what was at stake and showed real leadership. Jackie wanted it her way or no way and got rolled; Erin saw the writing on the wall and made sure that the Council was part of the process.

If the people of SLC elect this woman again as Mayor, they are crazy.

The inability or unwillingness to compromise on important matters is a prime cause of the dysfunction in Washington right now; I would hate to see it spread to Salt Lake City.

When you sleep with dogs, you get fleas. Biskupski is rightfully biding her time. I suspect she’s hoping some flea powder will be sprinkled around before she joins the pack.

The Mayor’s competence took a huge hit when the Council so nimbly and effectively circumvented her. They demonstrated it’s easier to do a deal with them than to try to deal with this Mayor. And that is damning.

Mayor Biskupski is a disgrace. I can’t wait until 2019.

The council is the governing body of the city. They are responsible for the budget and therefore the negotiations. It is in the best interest of the residents for the council to have a voice at the table with regards to the proposed inland port.

Cities are subdivisions of the state. Therefore the state has authority to do what they are doing. I think the council understands that and are trying to make a deal. It feels like Mayor Biskupski is just posturing.

People elect leaders to tackle tough issues not to hide from them. It’s another reason this mayor will not win a second term. She isn’t interested in doing the job.

This legislative overreach into local govt land use impacts is misguided and will only set a precedent for other takeovers of city ownership i.e, Airport. One party governance, you have to love it.

Being a part of a solution is always better than opposing it even if you don’t get all you want.

The mayor abdicated her role in the inland port discussions. The mayor has made it clear; she is not a negotiator. Salt Lake City’s Council did its best to get the Governor and the state legislature to address the Council’s concerns.

It’s all about give and take. The city council did this. Jackie did not.

Mayor Biskupski had more than enough time and opportunities to make this work with the Legislature, City Council and other interested parties. The only reason I can see why she did this is to gain favor with west side residents as she is going into a reelection.

Jackie is correct. The project was moving ahead with or without her. Regardless, she owed a duty to her constituents to negotiate for compromises and improvements in terms. I heard her testimony in Business and Labor. She bemoaned the lack of process, yet she admittedly chose out of the available process that clearly improved the position of her constituents. While some will applaud that, it is the stuff that modern ideological politics is made of. No accommodation, no compromise, no effort.

If you are invited to a seat at the table and refuse, you lose all right to complain about the outcome. If Biskupski had participated in the process, she might have learned something as well as had the opportunity to influence decisions. Her decision not to participate will resonate with the voters in the next election, for good or bad.

The Mayor is acting like a child, while the Council is acting in a responsible manner.

The Inland Port can be very polluting. It is land that belongs to Salt Lake City. I am glad the Mayor didn’t cooperate with “the powers that be” to implement this project. It takes guts to stand up for the West Side residents, and I am glad she did.

By choosing to go it alone and step away from the process, the Mayor hurt herself and her constituents. It would be one thing if the city council (or even a part of the city council) stood with her, but where they unanimously chose to engage with the process and improved the deal (from the City’s perspective) while she stood on the sidelines, she came across as inflexible, ineffective, and short-sighted. It reflects poor leadership on her part.

It is unconstitutional for the state to take over city land and most especially the revenue from that land. Salt Lake City should file litigation to get their land and all the revenues back.

I’m so sad our Mayor went into hiding on this issue. She had a chance to be the hero, and then she disappeared. The City Council stepped up and saved the day for Salt Lake City residents big time.

What is the Mayor trying to accomplish? She comes off looking foolish. The Inland Port will proceed whether or not she is the table.

The seven-member council essentially issued a strong and unanimous vote of no confidence in Mayor Biskupski’s leadership (or lack thereof) when they became involved. She abrogated her duties as an elected official, displaying her gross incompetence for all to see. How anyone can defend or even seek to explain her actions is likewise a sign of gross incompetence.

The rushed bill, closed public process, and items in the bill are unacceptable. Also, the major flaw in the port thinking is that product will be shipped to UT to distribute yet they cannot get the product off the ships. And, west coast ports are losing market share while east coast ports gain. The proponents are ignoring market changes.

It’ll increase job opportunities to the valley in what is already a booming economy, which is good. But it’ll also result in increased traffic and air pollution from semi trucks and other commercial vehicles I side with the city council, but I have enormous concerns about the health of our community.

Biskupski’s incompetence makes me glad that I voted for Becker. I’ll vote for her opponent in 2019, too.

If it’s gonna happen, might as well have some input rather than have the whole thing crammed down your throat without any improvements.

The process wasn’t worthy of participation. Mayor Biskupski pledged during the campaign that she wouldn’t ignore the west side like a stepchild. Once again, the west side gets the raw deal and severely limited their voices.

Mayor Biskupski was not willing to negotiate. We need problem solvers who are looking for logical solutions, not those who are trying to score political points.

I can’t believe this amateur behavior from Jackie and her administration. Points are scored behind closed doors, but you won’t score if you don’t go in the room. That’s some pretty high-level naivete from someone who ran on the fact that she had been a former legislator and could better represent SLC at the state capitol. Jackie is toast next election.

It’s great that we have interest groups to oppose bad policy and try to affect change. But, in Utah, is deadly for liberal/progressive to oppose the Legislature in an aggressive, finger-jabbing way. Despite years as a state legislator, Biskupski is surprisingly tone-deaf about how to navigate working with folks (legislators, City Council Members, other mayors, everyone else) who see through her bullying and chose not to engage with her childish, aimless antics. Standing up to our state overlords and championing environmental issues are typically winning issues for City voters, but people are waking up to the fact that she is a change we don’t need any more of. That said, a lot can happen between now and next year’s election.

Having watched Biskupski as a legislator, what is playing out now is quite predictable. From the beginning, I pegged her as a one-termer.

There’s only one approach that Utah’s largest and capital city can take in regards to the GOP-controlled legislature: beg and grovel for table scraps. That’s what the council is, rightly, doing. There’s some respectability to the mayor’s quixotic attempt. She’s unquestionably in the right and the Legislature in the wrong. But her moral victory won’t translate to much in actual gains.

Mayor is executing her constitutional authority and representing residents who have had little if any input.

Biskupski’s version of leadership is abdication. Homelessness, inland port, even the TRAX line for the airport expansion. Everyone else solves problems. She makes a stink. Then try to take credit. She’ll probably want the freeway exit for the port named after her in 20 years.