Monday, May 30, 2005

Open Thread

Somebody suggested I open another Open Thread, which is a fine idea for a rainy Monday at the tail of the Memorial Day weekend. The floor's therefore open to discussion of any topic of your choosing. You can continue old discussions -- or start up new ones -- whatever the heck you like.

It was my intention in setting up this place, by the way, that you reporter-commentor citizens would become the "motor" that would drive the discussion through your own observations and comments. This place is intended to be your soapbox; not mine. If this forum is to develop as a true local gathering spot for the citizens of Weber County (Northern Utah, actually,) it'll only happen through wide reader participation.

I've been watching the statistics since I first fired up this place less than two weeks ago. There hasn't been a day within the last week when there were fewer than 99 visitors (it's been as high as 151.) This ain't half-bad for a brand-new local political site, especially one that only showed up on some of the major search engines just a couple of days ago. There are definitely people out there reading and listening, even though not too many of them have taken the next step, and begun to speak up. Maybe the cat's got their tongue; who knows?

Have at it. Tell the rest of our readers what's on your mind. We have thousands of potential reporters and commentators out there with news or pithy comments waiting to be heard.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

After the Oil is Gone

Suburbs will collapse into slums. Farmhand will be a more viable career choice than public relations executive. And avoiding starvation will replace avoiding boredom as the national pastime. Calling it the end of the world would be too easy. No, Kunstler believes the human race will survive as we slip down the other side of Hubbert's Oil Peak. But the high standard of living we've built by gorging on cheap oil will not. America, as a political entity, will be history too.

Those are just a few of the observations and predictions that James Howard Kunstler makes in his new book.

"The Long Emergency" paints a dystopic view of the United States in the wake of what Kunstler dubs the "cheap oil fiesta." It's a future the author insists is not apocalyptic. Calling it the end of the world would be too easy.

(Note: No registration needed - watch the three-page ad and then press "enter Salon" at bottom of last ad screen)

Full article

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Mysterious Court Filing

It's uncanny how often I stumble upon something really interesting, while actually searching for something on an entirely different subject. This happened to me this morning, as I was prowling the U.S. District Court (Utah) website, looking for the hearing date on the motion for preliminary injuction requested in the Ogden Airport case. What I inadvertantly found was this page, listing cases filed in the US District Court between May 5, 2005 and May 25, 2005, containing this mysterious information:

Cases Filed from 5/11/2005 to Wed May 25 23:12:00 MDT 2005
DATE FILED CASE TITLE DOCKET# *********************************************************
05/25/2005 Moyes et al v. Ogden City et al 1:05-cv-00071-TS
Judge: Stewart
Cause: 42:1983 Civil Rights Act
Nat Suit: Civil Rights: Other

There was talk of attorneys and hints of lawsuits in a Salt Lake Tribune article on May 17, in connection with the recently failed Anti-Recreation Center Bond petition drive :
The petition drive and a counter campaign by residents who want the center grew nasty in recent weeks, with accusations of harassment, stolen petitions, threats and a marketing blitz that included telemarketing and newspaper advertisements. It is those issues that attorneys want to explore for possible action, [Mitch] Moyes said.
Could it be that Mr. Moyes and his now-bloodied group have somehow picked themselves up off the mat, and are now reeling back into the center of the ring for Round Two?
Grab your popcorn and tilt back your barca-loungers, folks. It seems there's never a dull moment in Ogden City politics.
If any of you have any specific information about this lawsuit, please feel free to chime in with your comments. I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for our local newspaper of record to fill in the blanks.
How many lawsuits are now in the works, anyway? I lose count.
05/28 Update: I got my hands on a copy of the "complaint" in the above-mentioned Moyes v. Ogden lawsuit today. To call its draftsman inept and amateuturish would be a severe insult to inept and amateurish people. This lawsuit will get blown out of court, I predict, faster than a speeding snare roll.
I'm hoping, for the sake of one of the plaintiffs, a very decent man whom I hold in high regard, that US District Court Judge Stewart isn't in a bad mood when this case winds up on his court docket for the inevitable Motion to Dismiss. Federal Judges have a tendency to become grumpy over frivolous lawsuits; and I'd hate to see any of these plaintiffs suffer heavy sanctions because of their misapplied political passion.
This lawsuit is a true-life example of why there are some jobs that require the hiring of professionals. The plaintiffs' complaint is a do-it-yourself job; and it shows.

Stop the Presses: Orrin Hatch Stands Up to Dubya

Orrin Hatch Doesn't stray from the Republican flock very often, but he's standing up to George Bush, at least for now:

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Orrin Hatch expressed support Wednesday for the controversial bill to expand federal support of embryonic stem cell research, making a clear break from President Bush who has vowed to veto the measure.

"I respect President Bush's views on this issue, and I fully support his efforts to promote embryo adoption in this country ..." the Utah Republican said at a news conference.

"But I know, as a long standing pro-life Senator, that it is possible to be both anti-abortion and pro-embryonic stem cell research. I am pleased that many Right-to-Life Congressmen reached the same conclusion when the House voted yesterday."

Hatch said after carefully considering the issue and praying about it, he determined "that human life does not begin in a Petri dish."
It seems, however, that our other federal legislators are getting mixed messages from the Almighty:

The House approved the legislation Tuesday. Utah's three representatives split, with Republicans Rob Bishop and Chris Cannon opposing the measure and Democrat Jim Matheson supporting it.
Every now in then, Senator-for-Life Hatch shows a little bit of a mysterious maverick streak. Let's all hope this doesn't adversely effect the BRAC process.

"Embryo adoption anyone, heheh?

Read the full Std-Ex article here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Imagine Life Without Them | Garth Portillo

In recent weeks I have read several letters in the Tribune concerning illegal aliens. With rare exception, the authors express indignation and even rage at the idea of illegal aliens receiving even basic public support - basic education for children, housing, a license to drive or even medical attention.

I alternate between being ashamed for the callous attitudes of my fellow citizens and being amused.

This morning I amused myself for a few minutes picturing our world if all of these good citizens got their wish, waking to a new dawn with all of the undocumented workers gone. All across the country, garment factories closed, thousands of restaurants unable to open for lack of staff, crops rotting in the fields and packing plants with no one to stoop, harvest or load. Construction
work slowed as masons, dry-wallers, plumbers, carpenters and other trades become short-handed overnight. Your gardener or landscaper faced with a client list that can't be served because there are no crews. No rooms available in Salt Lake hotels because there are no staff to clean the rooms or launder the linen. And my favorite, fast food chains becoming slow food chains with no one to cook, clean or run the cash register.

If you all think there are enough capable and unemployed citizens to fill the vacancies, think again. Especially in Utah, where the governor has signed a law prohibiting payment of a living wage to workers.

Garth Portillo
Guest Commentator

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Strange Happenings at the Airport

There was a report in the Standard-Examiner on Thursday, that a lawsuit has been filed regarding alleged misdeeds at the Ogden-Hinckley Airport:
Ogden -- A fixed-base operator at the Ogden-Hinckley Airport filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday, alleging the city has selectively enforced its airport ordinances to benefit competitors.

OK3AIR also alleges in the 47-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City that the Ogden Redevelopment Agency illegally awarded a $2.3 million subsidy to Kemp Development Inc. for the Ogden Gateway Center jetpark.

In addition to the city of Ogden and Kemp, others named as defendants in the suit include the airport, the Ogden Redevelopment Agency, Ogden Hinckley Airport Manager Edward Rich, MTK Holding LLC, and Fair Air LLC.
Today's Std-Ex edition now reports what seems to be a follow-up to Thurday's story:
OGDEN -- Ogden-Hinckley Airport Manager Ed Rich has sent letters to three fixed-base operators informing them they are prohibited from providing commercial services at the new Kemp Ogden Airport Gateway Center.

The letter was sent earlier this month to Ogden Jet Center, Kemp Jet Services, and OK3 Air. All are located at the airport.

"I'm trying to be proactive so there is not a major problem," Rich said, explaining the purpose of the letter.

The three companies are not permitted to provide commercial services at the Gateway airpark, which adjoins the airport, because the Federal Aviation Administration generally doesn't allow "through the fence" FBO operations, said Rich.
It had been rumored that there were "problems" at the airport, but I'd previously written them off as the sort of petty squabbles that often occur at small municipal airports, where large egos tend to collide, in the usual atmosphere of extreme machismo which is seldom demonstrated anywhere else to such a degree as ...well, small municipal airports.
Reading between the lines though, it would appear that's something "odd" seems to be going on -- something beyond normal "airport politics." Otherwise there wouldn't be a federal lawsuit -- or a "cease and desist" letter.
Can anyone explain, concisely and dispassionately, what in the world is going on out at Hinkley Field? I only know what I read in the paper, and it seems so far that the Std-Ex's new star reporter certainly isn't giving us anything more than the very "bare bones."
Comments, anyone?
4:55 p.m. Update: The SL Trib discusses the airport situation in a short article on their website, and adds new information for interested readers.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

BRAC: Red States v. Blue?

There was much local consternation and gnashing of teeth last week on the question of whether the BRAC commission would deliver a killing blow to Hill AFB -- a very mighty economic engine in Northern Utah, indeed. Our local daily newspaper went darned near apoplectic about it, publishing dire daily front-page articles designed to stir up the emotions of the reader public, create public anxiety, and sell more newspapers.

A sage friend of mine reminded me of a few facts when I spoke with him about this problem a few days ago. He reminded me that Hill AFB is on the edge of the western desert, and is an ideal test range for a nation that's hellbent to wage continuing war in desert regions. He reminded me that the base personnel in the "beehive state" are very culturally dedicated to the work ethic and extremely efficient, compared to other bases. He also reminded me that the policies of the current Presidential administration are now being run by a very smart fellow from Utah named Karl Rove... a graduate of Olympus High School in SLC (and very devout in his religion, I understand) ... and that the national government is now firmly under "local" control.

What he forgot to mention was plain old partisan party politics.

Seems he was right, at least as far as his predicted result. In that connection ... check this out. Interesting "bar-chart," by the way.
So much for the story that the BRAC process is politically unmotivated; and so much for the story that HAFB will be sacrificed in the political bickering that will occur down the road.

Comments, Please!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Duelling Comments - Setting the Record Straight?

Every now and then I'll be elevating particularly provocative comments from the "comments sections" to lead articles. Here's one that fits the bill:

This one is from Socrates:

"It makes me sad that there are people who can do nothing more with the beauty of the English Language, than rail, and cuss and spite and hate and criticize those who make and do. Someone needs to explain it on their level, so I'll try.

You see, Timmy, if the Mayor can get some of those well-heeled people that you hate, to come and spend some of their excess money in our town, then part of the sales taxes paid will come to Ogden. Eventually even commercial property taxes will be added to the city, of which 50% will go to schools and 25% to the city.

When the city gets this extra money, then the nice mayor can fix the potholes in your streets and improve the water system. Even if you could not afford to go to the "Wreck Center" yourself, don't you think it would be nice to have better streets, water and schools?

When the city voted to buy the mall, Timmy, the city didn't lose property taxes, because a previous mayor made it exempt to get it built. [Emphasis added - ed.] It was losing money for four successive owners, and the best tenants had moved out, because it was a local mall, without a "wreck center", and couldn't draw the people west of the freeway, north of second street or south of 36th street downtown.

Timmy, our nice mayor didn't want to make the same mistake again, and you wouldn't want him to, would you Timmy.

There, I hope that makes you feel better, it isn't good for you to go around hating people. If you make that angry face often enough, it will get stuck that way. You don't want that do you? Try to smile and be happy Timmy, not everyone is out to hurt you dear. "




Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Is Mayor Godfrey Now Exonerated?

There were several articles of extreme interest for Ogdenites in today's Std-Ex -- all of them "hidden" on the front page of the "C" section, which for inexplicable reasons is third-rate to the "Sports Section"....

The first was a Scott Schwebke report entitled "Task Force: RDAs Ok, need scrutiny".

What's happening with this "task force" is that they want to dismantle Tax Increment Financing for RDAs, and reallocate it to the other Big Spending beauracracies and taxing entities who are "champing at the bit" to find more money to spend. Without protected RDA TIF funding, Ogden folks...expect Ogden City to remain a deteriorating community forever. Now that the power of "Eminent Domain" is gone, TIF financing is the only powerful tool left to reconstruct our Ogden downtown area. Good riddence to Eminent Domain, I say, BTW. It was a nuclear device that stepped too hard on Individual liberty.

As for Tax Increment Financing -- It's a useful and powerful tool that doesn't hurt anybody. It only attracts private development, and reduces and mitigates property owners' tax bite.

The second Schwebke article: "Cinema complex next for mall site?" Our Mayor has been telling us there are developers waiting in the wings. Seems he's been telling the truth, contrary to the dire warnings from the "oppose everything" camp. At least one experienced private developer has now gone public, it seems:

"OGDEN -- The head of the company that developed the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City said he is working to line up tenants for a proposed complex that would include restaurants, shops, offices, housing and a multiscreen cinema at the site of the former Ogden City Mall.
Steve Ostler, chief executive officer of the Boyer Co., discussed his firm's plans during a work session with Ogden's Municipal Building Authority regarding efforts to revitalize the downtown mall site.
Ostler did not divulge the identities of the prospective tenants or offer specific details on the proposed complex, but he said the multiplex theater would have stadium-type seating and a state-of-the-art sound system.
Construction on the first phase of the facility could begin this summer, he said...."


Full article

Rumor also has it that Larry Miller is ready to make an announcement today, regarding his proposed investment in Ogden's downtown center.

Could it be true that Mayor Godfrey was right all along?

What a blow that would be to the naysayer camp.

Comments, please!

Update: 5/18/05 SL Tribune article.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Open Thread

There were two front page stories in this morning's Standard-Examiner which no doubt lifted spirits at Ogden City hall this a.m.

First, it appears that the ongoing petition drive has failed.

Second, it's reported that a SLC private developer would like to open negotiations with the Ogden RDA for purchase of a lot at the old mall site, for construction of a six-story condo tower.

It's gotta be "all smiles" on the "ninth floor" today.

I'll be out for a while, so please feel free to discuss either of these stories or any other topic that suits your fancy.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Tonight's the Night

Tonight's the night, people. Tonight's the "drop-dead date" for the citizens' petition in Ogden.

Will Mayor Godfrey's Bonding proposal go to a vote in November?

Give us your predictions. folks. I plan to put some polling software on this site later this week.

In the meantime -- what are your predictions?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Welcome to Weber County Forum

About Weber County Forum

This venue is intended to serve as a non-partisan public community forum, providing citizens of Northern Utah a cyber focal point within which to discuss, debate and rant about any and all local governmental policies and issues in and around Weber County, Utah.

Users are invited to visit, chat, argue, bicker, promote and co-ordinate political events, post, link and read articles, and whatever else -- so long as they observe a reasonable level of civility and decorum.

For those folks new to blogging, consider this blog a cyber "letters-to-editor" venue, with a lot more of a free-wheeling attitude than you'll find in your hometown newspaper. If you want to put in your $.02, just post your own comments with the comments button. The comments interface is similar to the one you probably use for regular email.

For those of you more familiar with the ways of the blogosphere, you already know the drill, so have at it.

Although I'll initially limit original articles to those of my own composition, the invitation's immediately open for the submission of "guest editorials," which can be sent via the email address located in my "Profile."

If this web project pans out, I'll no doubt add "guest bloggers" to the team on an ongoing basis.

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