Mayor Jackie and the Secret to Bad Luck

In one of the most misguided approaches to civic leadership that Salt Lake City has endured, Mayor Jackie Biscupski and her staff made the most controversial decision in a decade—the siting of four homeless shelters—virtually unilaterally and without, she claims, any avenue for change.

Already NIMBY has reared its uncharitable head, which isn’t surprising because Sugarhouse, in particular, is not used to having stuff shoved down its throat.


Jackie promised the siting decision will be followed by a series of public “workshops,” at which citizens will allegedly have input on the design of the centers. But NO input will be accepted on changing the location of the shelters. The decision, made behind closed doors, we are to believe, is irreversible.

Biscupski’s entourage claims the public has had input on the shelter locations in four “workshops” last spring and summer. I participated in one of the workshops and the only thing that was clear was that the outcome was pre-ordained. The teams of citizens were “guided” by mayor’s office “facilitators.” Jackie was not present.

Here’s an excerpt from that June blog:

It soon became apparent that the workshop’s parameters were going to be controlled. For one thing, the participants were issued a pre-determined list of “Criteria for Success” to prioritize. The list was developed by the city’s Homeless Services Site Commission

The team at my table took the exercise at face value rather than a charade of public involvement. For instance, we emphasized an effective staff-to-client ratio (not listed as a “success criteria”) over “aesthetically pleasing” architecture.

It wasn’t until the workshop’s end that frustration with the new mayor’s office’s capacity to deal with the issue emerged.

A couple weeks later, we all got an email that told us what our consensus was–eerily similar to the original “success criteria” we had been given, which was a pretty good list–proximity to services and public transit, etc. But no staff-ratio priority—but we got M&M chocolate-chip cookies at the workshop, so who’s complaining?

Oddly, Jackie’s dictatorial approach is exactly the opposite of what former Mayor Palmer DePaulis, who is a co-chair of the city’s Homeless Services Site Evaluation Commission, recommended to city officials last summer.


“The secret to all this is to ‘stay lucky,’ ” DePaulis said, quoting Gov. Scott Matheson. “When you are open and you are transparent—you are creating your own luck and you are going to stay lucky and stay on top of it.”

By choosing opacity over openess, Jackie—and the Salt Lake City Council that backed her—are creating an epic bad-luck streak.

Here’s the schedule for condescension workshops:

Jan. 11, 1-3 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

Jan. 18, and 6-8 p.m.

Public Safety Building, 475 S. 300 East,

Glen Warchol
Glen Warchol
The late, great Glen Warchol passed away in 2018. His last billet was on the editorial staff here at Salt Lake magazine but his storied career included stops at The Salt Lake Tribune, The Desert News, The New Times and others. His stories haunt this website like ghosts in a machine and we're always happy to see them. RIP Papa Warchol.

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