Thursday, June 30, 2005

Updated: Changing of the Guard at City Hall?

There's been a rumor circulating around Ogden in recent days, about the imminent departure of another Ogden City official, in the wake of the retirement of Ogden City Administrator Nate Pierce. I'd heard the rumor myself last month, but kept mum about it, at the request of a trusted source close to city hall. I did hint about it here, however, in an article where I whined about our seemingly top-heavy City government salary structure. Now that the "cat's out of the bag" with this morning's Standard-Examiner story though, I'll feel free to expand and expound upon it a little bit.

The news is that Ogden City's Economic Development Director, Stuart Reid, is leaving Mayor Godfrey's administration on July 15. As today's Scott Schwebke article reports, Mr. Reid considers his mission here in Ogden served, and he's moving on to greener pastures. Perhaps he has his eye on an economic development position in a state which still permits the use of eminent domain -- who knows? What the implications of this may be for the future course of Mayor Godfrey's administration is anyone's guess. My guess is that Mr. Reid's departure could be good news for Ogden City, depending on how Mayor Godfrey handles it. I'll try to briefly explain why that's the case.

As you'll recall, Mr. Reid was snapped up by Mayor Godfrey, after losing the Salt Lake Mayoral race, locally dubbed Rocky II, in 1999. Although he'd been the early favorite in that contest, Mayor Anderson the incumbent pulled off a late upset victory, after Mr. Reid's campaign "went negative." For those who've forgotten the details of that interesting electoral contest, you can take a little trip down memory lane right here and here. You can read more here, although you'll have to scroll down the page to the title "Uncommon Dissent," if you want the nitty-gritty about what the 1999 mayoral race was all about.

Prior to his defeat in the Salt Lake City mayoral election, Mr. Reid had served as Economic Development Director for SLC Mayor Corradini, during which time he developed a reputation for grandiose planning. Mr. Reid developed a true expertise in Utah's RDA law and related urban development, along with some expertise in municipal finance; and was an devoted proponent of "mixed-use" planning. There was, however, one glaring problem during his tenure as Salt Lake City's economic development director: Mr. Reid consistently demonstrated a pronounced bias against the inclusion of "affordable housing" in his vision for the mixed-use development of Salt Lake City. Mr. Reid, it seems, couldn't find a place in his vision for low income people. He was regularly criticized for this, and this indeed became an issue in his failed SLC mayoral contest.

Nevertheless, it's apparent that Mayor Godfrey's administration considered him an ideal candidate for the Economic Redevelopment Director slot in low income Ogden, and he was gleefully brought aboard in 2000, at a salary exceeding $100,000 per year. Ogden's economic situation was rapidly deteriorating at the time, and I'm sure he was regarded as a valued asset, if not a superhero in a cape.

Looking to the future, it will be interesting to observe the course that Ogden city takes toward redeveloping our downtown neighborhoods, now that Mr. Reid his headed out of the city hall door. In this connection, I think Mr. Reid's departure creates an ideal opporunity for Mayor Godfrey to chart a new and different course for his own vision for our downtown neighborhoods. Instead of ignoring and excluding the low-income folks who were just cluttering up Mr. Reid's version of "The vision," I'm hoping that Mayor Godfrey will adopt a more inclusive approach. Rather than doing everything according to a government-choreographed, grand and upscale master plan, maybe it's time for Mayor Godfrey to tone it down a little bit and reach out a little more to the private entrepreneurs in our own community.

The above remark leads to a topic that's been bugging me for almost a year now. Last summer, there were two Standard-Examiner articles announcing the refurbishment and re-opening of "Adams Place," the 165-unit residential complex at 25th and Adams Avenue, the old Ramada Inn, which had remained boarded-up and idle since its last closure in 1998.

As reported in a July 9, 2004 Jeff Demoss article, this property had been quietly acquired and remodeled by a local realtor/real estate investor, Carlos Herbon, for operation as a low-income apartment complex. As reported in the first Std-Ex story, this project received immediate accolades from the building owner, Woodbury Corporation, a big private investor in our community:

"It's nice to get someone in there again," said Mel Sowerby, Ogden leasing agent for Woodbury Corp., which has owned the building throughout its six-year tenant drought.

Herbon said 165 units equipped with a living room, bathroom and kitchenette, several of which are already complete, will be available starting in about six weeks. He said monthly rental rates will start around $250 to $275, with utilities included.

"We're just cleaning up the place now," he said. "We think it's going to add a lot to downtown." He expects the project will take nine months and nearly $400,000 to complete.

Aside from a second Demoss story, there was no public fanfare when the project opened for business; and Mayor Godfrey's administration has remained silent as a stone on the subject:

Unlike most projects under way downtown, the city is not involved in the Adams Place project. Mayor Matthew Godfrey said he has not been in the building since it reopened, and declined to comment on its potential value to downtown.
Somebody from the Ogden city administration ought to hang a medal on Carlos Herbon, as far as I'm concerned. We hear a lot of talk from the administration about "partnering" with private business for the improvement of Ogden, but most of this "partnering" seems bold and grandiose, in the style of the departing Mr. Reid. The administration's "cold shoulder" attitude has Mr. Reid's fingerprints all over it, I think. Instead of focusing on building Ogden by luring the Wal-marts of the world into town, perhaps it's time for Mayor Godfrey and his administration to chart a course toward facilitating and promoting "home grown" projects such as those of Mr. Herbon. Mr. Herbon is a community hero in my eyes. He's added a valuable asset to our downtown community, which is intended to serve a neglected segment of our community, and it's high time he received the public acclamation for doing it all himself, on his own dime, without a penny of public money.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I won't miss Stuart Reid even a little bit. Mr. Reid's departure could be good news for Ogden city... provided he's not replaced with a clone.

07/01/05 9:08 Update: The Salt Lake Tribune's Kristen Moulton adds more information to this story with this article on Mr. Reid's departure, within which Ms. Moulten offers this interesting quote from Mr. Reid, re the current business climate in Ogden:

"Reid said he's more optimistic about Ogden's future than ever because the business community is finally paying attention to its role in reviving Ogden. 'They're fully engaged now,' he said. "

I'm not sure I can decipher what Mr. Reid meant by this comment, but you can bet your bottom dollar he wasn't thinking of Carlos Herbon, or other members of the local business community, who would independently build on the existing infrastructure, rather than march in lockstep to the beat of Ogden city's central-planning drum.

15 comments:

Bill Glasmann said...

So, amid some consternation and congratulations for a job well done, Stuart departs our fair city to seek employment in the private sector. We'll surive this, as we have survived other departures, both in personel and business. What I want to do, at this time, is to show my appreciation to the Raptors and maybe shed some light on their example being a model for downtown:

To wit:
Great crowds, great games, and the Raptors own a 6 game winning streak. Lindquist Field is doing its part in creating an initial winning streak for Ogden. It could be the beginning of great things to come with progress and growth flourishing in downtown Ogden.

Our city has tremendous potential. It is time to channel our resources and energy and regain our former status. Sadly, the railroad is now history, and I don't speak lightly about it: my grandfather and I both worked on the Railroad and those were good times, precious to me and the City. But with its departure, a new opportunity has opened up, an opportunity to use foresight and vision in creating something new and filing the gap left behind.

It's time to proceed positively into the future, with "caution" and "risk" through reason, because both are elements of growth. Identify and overcome, or, as we say in the Marine Corps, "adapt and improvise."

This post has already been posted in another thread, but since it's an older one, and mostly worn out, I wnated to post here and get some feedback. Thanks.

Curly Richards said...

The reason the little twerp won't have anything to do with this Herbon fellow and his housing project is that it wasn't his idea. If it didn't come from the Mayor and his million dollar brain trust it ain't shit!

Beside, he only wants upper middle class and rich folks living in "HIS" downtown. The little dude's ego is way bigger than he is.

These two jokers that are leaving like rats from a sinking ship should absolutely not be replaced. That will save the city close to three hundred grand a year!! Seems like this Reid fella is claiming he is leaving after a successful mission accomplished. The redevelopement "brain trust" heavy lifting for down town Ogden has apparently been done - if you listen to these known stretchers of the truth. So why the hell even talk about replacing them? That still leaves seven or eight more public trough sloppers in so called development positions hogging up seven or eight hundred thousand dollars of our taxes per year. Maybe they ought to think about cutting four or five more of them off the dole. Then the two or so remaining will have to pick it up to maybe four hours a day each of actual work to do what is really necessary in that whole inflated arena of Ogden City government.

viktor said...

There is a whole lot more of them worthless rascals that need to be tossed out of city hall. The damn place is crawllin with them like a bunch of cockroaches that scatter when you open the fridge down the hall. That skinny little pecker wood that seems to be the top dog needs to be throwed clean out of town if you ask me. Aint none of them that gives a fiddler's damn for us common folks. They are only down there taking advantage to line them and their developer buddies pockets with the public's money. Then they look us in the eye and with a straight face say it is for our own good. One thing about it, they are pretty gutty that way. To bad they aint got the guts to do the job they were elected for.

althepal said...

I was just thinking, after they pin the medal on that Herbon guy, maybe they ought to appoint him the new exonomic development director. He seems to know how to get results without bonding millions of $$$s into the next century. Heck, if some of that tax increment haircut money ever got kicked back to us taxpayers, maybe we'd even be able to afford a haircut and some snazzy new clothes, and Calvin Grondahl wouldn't be making fun of us all the time.

Bonnie Lee said...

They should adopt a couple of monkeys and put them in these two positions. They wouldn't cost anything but monkey chow and they couldn't screw the city up any worse.

Steve Larsen said...

I have never read a more thought provoking thread or article. Kudos. It set me to wondering. Two opposing visions of an Improved Ogden seem to have been presented:
One vision involves bringing up the level of Ogden’s economy and average income level by importing people and businesses with more money, and higher wages; and building bigger and better buildings, and facilities. This would appear to be the vision of the “current administration”.

A second vision criticizes certain people in the current administration because they “couldn't find a place in his vision for low-income people.” This vision includes commending a developer for “building low income housing”, without needing the city to partner with him, at the taxpayers expense. But are these units really going to rent for “$250 to $275, with utilities included”, or will the taxpayers be required to subsidize rents on these units with federal or state money, every month. As taxpayers, do we really revolt at city partnering to build initially, and embrace ongoing federal and state rent subsidies at our expense?

Is there not a Third Vision? One that will stimulate current Ogdenites to develop our own businesses, supply our own needs, and do business only with our own businesses, as far as possible. We have resources in Ogden. We have people, we have ideas, and we have land, both on Business Depot Ogden, and elsewhere.

We cannot look backward to when the railroads were a primary employer, because they were an outside firm paying wages to Ogdenites and rolling profits into other cities and states. We cannot look back to Defense Depot Ogden, to bring government jobs to Ogden. Business Depot Ogden will soon employ more people than it did as Defense Depot Ogden, and without needing a war to keep it alive. I worked there, during the Vietnam War. When than was over our employment level fell from 6,500 to 1,200 and eventually phased out.

We need to look forward to a day when we will employ our people with our own jobs and businesses. Perhaps they will not be world-class jobs and businesses, but they will be ours, and both the wages and the profits will be spent here in Ogden.

UTmorMAN said...

Having a good acquaintance with Mr. Herbon and his family, I can recognize what he has done in this community. He and his wife are truly a success story. They came to the U.S. from Argentina with nothing. They own property all over downtown Ogden. They are the "good land-lords" that the city is looking for. I can also see that the city has not made a big deal out of other private projects that weren't theirs. I did not see the city beat their drums and give awards to Mr. Tabbish and Mr. Van Dyke for their ownership and development of the Ben Lomand Hotel. The city has to make a big deal out of their projects, it is done with taxpayer money and needs to succeed. I'm sure the city is very gratefull for what Mr. Herbon has done for them. Again, it comes back to the fact that the city has had to take on somewhat the role of a land developer and, of course, their projects are going to get more attention from them.

Bill Glasmann said...

I chastized the City Council, during a Winter council meeting, for their position and lack of comments regarding Carlos Hebron. Having associated myself, through real estate transactions, with Carlos and his son, Harold, it came as no surprise to me to see the progress they have made on the deteriorated Ramada Inn that sits on the corner of 24th & Adams. There was plenty of press saluting a job well done, as approximately half of the units were occupied and several support business had sprung up on or around their site.

The Mayor's comments, when asked about Hebron's accomplishments, was that he "had no comment," as he "hadn't been in the building." Another comment, from somebody affiliated with the Old Ben Lomond Hotel, now turned into a downtown, "pre-sold condominium" project, was that Carlos' place didn't fit-in with their "vision" of downtown Ogden.

I was amazed at the lack of respect for Carlos Hebron and the not-wanting-to-investigate-to-see- how-he-had-accomplished-this attitude of our City Administration. Carlos Hebron, in the space of 4 to 6 months, had accomplished something that Stuart Reid and the Mayor have failed to do in a couple of years, and that is to put families living in downtown Ogden. Maybe they were too busy, fending off the foreclosure of Union Square, another downtown, "pre-sold condo" project that is floundering and stalled, to notice.

UTmorMAN said...

...which just goes to show that private business can do things much better than city governments can; and I'm sure that when there is a market for business to actually do things in Ogden, they will do an excellent job of selling the city. Until then we haven't got many real alternatives

Enthused citizen said...

Utmorman, there is a market for private business to do things in Ogden....all it takes is a little creativity. That and some cooperation from the City officials. Hebron did it, without the City falling all over itself like they're doing in the case of Fat Katz and Gold's Gym.

UTmorMAN said...

That was my point, thank you for confirming it for me.

RudiZink said...

LOL, Enthused Citizen!

You're pretty much on the same page as UtmorMan, but you don't seem to know it

Blogs are great. They sometimes reveal how really close together we are on issues, even though we perceive ourselves to be widely divided.

Keep on talkin' boyz!!!!

HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

Enthused Citizen said...

Hey Rudi, I'm aware of the common ground that Utmorman and I share, more than you think. Being a person of "detail," I analyze it all and point out the subtle discrepencies between us. For a young one, he's coming along just fine and I look forward to reading his posts, most of which are well thought out and crafted. Still wonder where he was going with the recreation center and Lindquist Field thing, though. But, time to move forward, as there's much work to do. Viva Ogden!

Enthused Citizen said...

So Stuart accomplished his mission, huh? Bankrupt projects, stalled projects, failed projects, and all it cost us taxpayers was time, 100+ Grand a year, and the time and money needed to re-do the stuff he "accomplished." Can't get him outta town fast enough for me. Maybe a few others on the City Council, too! Why is Godfrey so quick to hire these "rejects" from neighboring towns (Patterson, Reid, et al)? Is he running for office again this year? Sure hope so.

Anonymous said...

I guess this doesn't matter much to the story but when Rocky beat Reid it was Rocky I not Rocky II. Rocky is currently in his second 4 year term which began in January 2004.

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