Monday, October 31, 2005

Debate Aftermath - Part 2

City Council-members Kent Jorgensen and Donna Burdett have amused and enraged us, both at the Junior League Meet the Candidates night, and at last Wednesday's League of Women Voters Debate, in their clumsy attempts to defend Ogden city's hiring of a $45,000 lobbyist to overturn legislation passed in the last Utah legislature.

The legislation passed was Senate Bill 184 in March which stopped the use of eminent domain to seize private property to turn over to another private party under the guise of economic development. This was the legislation that stopped the Wal-mart Project on Wall Avenue which had been started through the use of eminent domain.

The seizure of property by eminent domain for the River Project and other RDA projects is still a dream of the current Ogden City administration and Chamber of Peoples' Deputies Jorgensen and Burdett. I suppose you can also add candidate Steve Larsen to that group, inasmuch as he'd been an outspoken advocate of the corporate-welfare intended Wal-mart landgrab. Ogden City has no respect for constitutional property rights even after passage of S. B. 184, and neither does Comrade Larsen.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the Kelo case that eminent domain could be used for so-called economic development. There is a movement across the U.S. to get that decision reversed or a Federal law passed making it illegal because the general public does not believe private property should be seized for another private person.

A noteworthy development has now occurred at the federal level. On October 27, Utah Congressman Chris Cannon (R-UT) and the full House Judiciary Committee approved H.R. 4128, the Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2005, sending the legislation to the House floor. This legislation will prevent the federal government from using eminent domain for economic purposes and will prevent states from using federal money in economic development projects where eminent domain has been used. Congressman Cannon has responded to the sentiment of his Utah constituents, and is paving the way to drive a stake through the heart of eminent domain abuse across the entire U.S. You can read all about it here.

Due to public sentiment, this popular legislation will no doubt sail through the House and Senate, and will resolve the issue regarding the use of eminent domain throughout the country. Ogden City's hiring of a lobbyist will become yet another bad financial decision by City Hall. As much as I hate to see the hearts of Comrades Jorgensen, Burdett and Larsen broken, it seems the citizens will have their way on this issue.

Here's Congressman Cannon's email addy, in case you'd like to offer your congratulations, and further cheer him on:

And what say our gentle readers about this?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

"Debate" Aftermath - Part 1

I mentioned in an earlier comments thread that I'd probably get around to commenting on Wednesday night's so-called candidate "debate." I've been talking to various event attendees, comparing notes, reading WCF comments, and trying to distill the important revelations that were revealed that night. Having done that, I think the important information falls into three distinct "clusters." I'll discuss the first of these now.

1) Pending Sewer Upgrade/Repairs. Dorothy Littrell got the ball rolling on Wednesday night, when she revealed that Chamber of People's Deputies Chairman Comrade Safsten, in apparent collusion with our Orwellian "Dear Leader" aka Comrade Godfrey, intentionally concealed a highly material and vital report that he and Safsten had gotten earlier on October 17 in a District Sewer Board meeting, (suggesting their might be an upcoming $120 million sewer upgrade coming up very soon,) in which meeting they'd been in attendance.

The Council voted on "starting the 30-day clock on the Wreck Center Project... absent that highly material and intentionally concealed information.

When this information was revealed by local Ogden Civil Rights Hero Dorothy Littrell, People's Chamber Deputy Jorgensen "blushed" noticeably; and People's Deputy Comrade Burdett gave Ms. Littrell a very angry look - a "if looks could kill" look -- if I may say so.

Until recently I'd thought Councilwoman Burdett was merely a decent and moral person who didn't have the spine to battle neoCON heavyweights like Godfrey, Safsten and Jorgensen. Seeing that angry facial expression (and accompanying body language) on Wednesday night, I'll confess I'm less willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. It's indeed possible that she isn't merely a dupe. I'm reconsidering right now whether she's an evil neoCON, just like Comrades Godfrey, Saftsten and Jorgensen.

One thing's for sure though, she's NOT the "brains" of the neoCON Godfrey gummint.

And she's certrainly NOT part of the "inner circle."

Nobody in the Ogden City Gummunt hierarchy bothered to tell her the truth.

I've done some research on this sewer problem, BTW. Councilman Wicks provided some clarifying comments on this too. My impression is that the sewer upgrade problem isn't as pressing as it seems, although nobody knows how much it will cost, and nobody can now predict the effect on Ogden taxpayers. It seems to me though, that prudent government officials would be keeping their eye on this, and wouldn't be pledging every available revenue dollar untii we're well into into the 21st century.

Of course "prudence" is not a word that's found in out neoCON extremist city council dictionary. Our current city government are the types who don't have the money it takes to fix the dilapidated infrastructure, but will take what few dollars we have for "capital maintenance," and drive out to Wendover, for a single "roll of the dice."

Nevertheless, I'll point my bony finger at Safsten and Godfrey, who embarrased two of the gang-of-six at Wednesday night's debate, and further demonstrated that Ogden city government operates on a top-down, need-to-know basis. It was plain from all the blushing and angry faces that Burdett and Jorgensen are just regarded by the current administration as compliant, easlily-manipulated dopes.

What we need in Ogden is a street-smart council. We're plainly not getting that with the band of culturally-illiterate inbread white-bread dopes who "represent" us now.

I'll get on to the next two important points that came out of the candidate debate in the next segment.

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Don't forget to chime in with your views.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Friday Potpourri.

There were two articles in this morning's Standard-Examiner which ought to be of particular interest to our gentle readers.

First, there's another John Wright article, under this deliciously creative headline, "Ogden rec site to get OK - Environmental tests show not too much risk." I'll incorporate the gist of the story:

OGDEN -- State environmental officials say they plan to sign off on construction of a high-adventure recreation center at the downtown Ogden mall site.

Stephen Thiriot, an environmental scientist with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, said Thursday he had reviewed the rec center area's latest round of soil and groundwater tests submitted by the city.

Although the tests show concentrations of tetrachloraethylene, a solvent, above the regulatory limit in groundwater, DEQ will not require remediation or further investigation because there are no drinking wells in the area, Thiriot said.

"I think we're on pretty safe ground with it," he said. "There are some slight exceedances [sic}there, but we don't think anybody's at risk. There's nobody in that area drinking the water, and it will break down over time (200 years.)

You can read the full article here.
It's certainly nice to know the Utah DEQ scientests are carefully looking after our interests, isn't it?

Perhaps Mr. Theriot hasn't gotten the word that the volatile neurotoxin TCE can penetrate concrete foundations and cause damage through inhalation. Perhaps, on the other hand, the Utah DEQ's "signoff" is the result of political expediency, as blog regular Dian suggested in an earlier thread.

What the heck! Who cares? There's a certain macho-style irony in locating a private health club atop an EPA-unqualified chemical waste site, I think. We gym-rats, rock-climbers and bowlers are hardy folk, and we all subscribe to the old axiom, "that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger," right? I'm sure the slighty risky prospect of inhaling carcinogenic chemicals
while doing extended aerobic exercise won't deter anyone who has "the right stuff." And don't forget we all drink our own bottled water anyway.

And then there was this remarkable "letter to the editor."

I'm not sure whether an endorsement from one of the gang-of-six (particularly Mr. Filiaga) is a benefit, or the "kiss of death," for a candidate in the current council race, given the current political climate. We'll find out in about 11 days, though won't we? This letter certainly clarifies the choices, though, for gentle readers who will vote in the Ward 3 race. If you're in favor of continuing and endless reckless borrowing, spending and central-scheming, Steve Larsen is definitely a "no brainer."

If you're looking for a level-headed, highly-competent, non-political-extremist, on the other hand, there's always Doug Stephens.

And you have to love Mr. Filiaga's rationale: Mr. Larsen has lots of time on his hands; thus he'd make a great council-member.

Gawd I love Ogden city politics!

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

An Open Letter to the Ogden City Council

Dorothy Littrell
228 West 3275 North
Ogden, Utah 84414

October 26, 2005

Ogden City Councilman Jesse Garcia
Ogden City Councilman Jorgenson
Ogden City Councilwoman Burdett

This is the engineering survey done for the Central Weber Sewer Improvement District by engineers, Montgomery Watson Harza (MWH), dated October 17, 2005, which was presented to the Sewer board members at the last Sewer District meeting.

Mayor Godfrey and Councilman Safsten, who are on the board of the Sewer District, were both present at that meeting and received a copy of the Survey as board members.

I find it unconscionable of them to have not divulged this to you who are City Council members prior to your vote Tuesday evening on the Rec Center Project which you confirmed at tonight's League of Women Voters' candidates' meeting was not done.

My understanding is that you knew the Sewer District Survey was in process and that the RDA tax increment from BDO was to be used to pay for the Sewer District's upgrade.

Now the BDO tax increment has been pledged for the Rec Center Project.

The amount of the Sewer District upgrade may amount to $120,000,000 million . It must be done as the District was shut down for 12 hours recently because of overflow.

It comes across to me as a CPA that you have been deliberately misled by the failure of the administration to have given each Council member a copy of the survey before last night's vote on the Rec Center.

That begs the question, "What else has not been disclosed to you as Council members?"

Very truly yours,

Dorothy E. Littrell

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tonight's "League of Women" Debacle

I'm going to open up an open thread on tonight's "League of Women" "debate."

If this "Weber County League of Women" "debate" is the best the local chapter can do... the Weber County Chapter needs to be drummed out of the national chapter.

It was an uncontrolled "slug-fest." It was nothing better than a bar-room brawl. (I have some exprtise on this, believe me.) I was embarrased at how the council incumbents were treated, by a so-called "moderator" who assumed zero "control" over the event. Even though I obviously don't support most of the incumbents, I actually started to feel sorry for them at this bogus-debate. The only thing the highly partisan crowd didn't do was throw rotten fruit at the incumbents. (not to say they don't totally deserve it.)

Tonight's "debate" was a complete disgrace to the League of Women organization.

That's my take.

Let's have an open thread on this.

I'd like to hear others' takes on tonight's debate.

I'd love to hear from attendees what they thought about this ridiculous and clownish event.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Conventional Public transit, Gondolas -- and a "Spankin' New" Idea

There is serious dissension on the Ogden City Chamber of People's Deputies today, people. Comrade Deputy Safsten and Comrade Vice-Deputy Jorgensen are having something of a little spat. Whereas Slippery Rock College cheerleader lookalike Comrade Chairman Safsten, (the Autoliv Corporate council representative) likes gondolas, the ever-clueless and mendacious Yassar Arafat lookalike, Comrade Jorgensen (the UTA council representative) likes streetcars and express buses.

Uber-visionary Mayor Matt Godfrey says, of course, "We can do whatever we want, eh, Obie Wan Kinobie?"

Here's John Wright's article on this.

As usual, the constant neoCON "visionaries," Matt Godfrey, Kent Jorgensen, and Rick Safsten take the "Jimeny Cricket" approach and tell us "we can have it all, so long as we're willing to borrow deeply into the 23d Century and get rid of all the dark-skinned people in Ogden.

Go figure!

Anyway, I'm going to finish this leadup with a highly-detailed and intricate press release that one of our gentle engineer readers sent me, about ANOTHER PUBLIC TRANSIT SYSTEM that needs to be thrown into the mix. It's fairly short, so I'll incorporate the whole press release in full:


I would like to announce a new and revolutionary mode of mass transit that will not only solve the transportation problem in Ogden but will revolutionize the whole industry. This incredible new idea will finally put Ogden on the map and make us famous the world over. People will flock to our College and surely make it a World Famous University (WFU) with a fabulous football team. Companies from all over the world will rush to Ogden and our real estate values will sky rocket. Every current Ogden property owner will reap millions in the escalation of their property values as every clear thinking investor and future home owner on the globe will be hungering to own property here. The supply and demand equation will kick in and the demand side will be off the charts. Rich people from New York will be competing to send their kids to our WFU because we will be the only place in the world to have such a revolutionary system AND a world class restaurant named Roosters. The WFU will start a fabulous new course in this method and we will send out missionaries around the world to teach our exclusive techniques of people movement to the masses. Unimaginable wealth will poor into our city and our property taxes will become property rebates instead. Our city government will actually give us money instead of taking it!

The method will be known as the SLING and SLIDE Yokel mass transit system or SASYMASTS for short. The details are proprietary of course but a brief overview is as follows:

The "Slide" portion will be the easiest. (Think the "Matterhorn at Disney") It will consist of shoots or sluices running from the WFU terminal, located at the Football stadium, down to Harrison, then north to 25th street. From there it will run west to Washington where it will have a very thrilling hard right banked turn which will take the passenger to the first exit at the new Matt Godfrey Mall (MGM). At the MGM there will be an extraction device that will be similar to the old mail hooks that snagged the mail from stationary poles unto fast moving trains. It will be in reverse of course as the passenger will be in motion and the hook will be stationary. There will be shock absorbing devices built into the system so that the passengers will not undergo more than a 6G force upon extraction.

From the MGM the special built SASYMASTS cars will proceed on to 23rd where they will take another high speed turn, only this time to the left, and on to the terminal at the Intermodal HUB where it will be stopped by a large pool of water. The over all experience will be similar to the Log ride at Knotts only better and longer. It will be quite exhilarating and the world wide word of mouth will be all the advertising necessary to make it a resounding success.

The more difficult part from an engineering point will be the SLING portion of the SASYMASTS. It will also be the most exciting part. However, it will paradoxically be the least expensive to construct. The initial point of entry will consist of a special launch pads for each destination where the passenger will stand. The destination choices will be the MGM, the WFU Stadium (starting point for the Slide portion), and Malan’s Basin or Snow Basin (in spite of what Earl Holding wants) Additional locations will be added as the certain to come demand demands. This will be a distinct improvement over the antiquated notion of the old fashioned gondola movement.

The passenger will be hooked up to the launch device by a leather patch similar to, but larger than the pouch one finds in the classic sling shot. This patch will in turn be attached to very large rubber bands that will extend out and be anchored to high metal poles. The passenger will then be lifted up and moved back a calculated distance by two underprivileged, but now employed, Ogden minorities. At the right moment the passenger will be released and "slung" toward his destination - be it the MGM, the WFU, or either basin. The "flight" will be exhilarating to say the least, and will have the added bonus of instilling life long memories. At the destination end of this revolutionary new transportation system will be large nets to "catch and release" the passenger and send them onto class or slope.

There obviously will be some engineering difficulties to overcome and it is anticipated that we may suffer numerous casualties until we can perfect the complicated calculations to account for the different wind, weather and weight factors we will encounter. We do not anticipate this to be overly problematic however as we have a very large population of poor and ethnic inhabitants to draw from for "volunteers" to use as test subjects. Their sacrifice for the greater good will be appreciated by the community and we will memorialize them by putting their names in small letters on the the large rubber bands and leather pouches. Some consideration will also be given to placing small photo's of them on the roofs to be overflown for motivational purposes for future test subjects.

There are a few details to be worked out but we have full assurances from the Mayor and City Council that the plan is feasible and they are very excited to push forward with full scale development at the earliest possible time. Because of the revolutionary nature of this new system, the administration has deemed it unnecessary to entertain any public input and they have appointed Bishop Reid to be the administrator at an annual salary of $1,650,000.00 per year retroactively to 2001 when this wonderful idea first appeared to the Mayor in one of his classic mushroom dreams. In addition Stu will receive a generous signing, and resigning, bonus and will not actually be required to spend any of his valuable time being involved. This will allow him to pursue the numerous offers he receives daily from private companies all over the world.

At this time there will not be any private investment allowed as the city tax-payers will be picking up the development costs and Bishop Reid’s advance salary requirements.

From our now rich and famous Ogden family to yours, we wish you very

"Slinging and Sliding"


Monday, October 24, 2005

This Week's Ogden Political Events

Wednesday, October 26, 7:00 p.m.: Weber County League of Women Voters will host a debate for the General Election candidates for Ogden City Council seats. The debate will be held in the auditorium of the Weber County Main Library. The public is invited and encouraged to attend in order to make an informative choice on Election Day.

The WCLOWV website provides no information on the debate format -- whether it will follow a list of pre-submitted questions, audience-submitted queries, or a combination of the two. I'll sleuth around a little bit today to see what I can find out about this. Whatever the format, however, this will be the last time we'll be able to see all the candidates performing in the flesh prior to the November 8 election in an adversarial setting, so it might be a good idea to put this event on your calendars.

Thursday, October 27, 5:30 p.m.: Ogden City Mayor Matthew R. Godfrey will be appearing in a televised Call-in Show on Channel 17, Thursday, October 27 from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. The show will also be aired on Weber State University's student radio station, KWCR, 88.1. Channel 17 can also be viewed over the internet here, courtesy of the Ogden City website.

Mayor Godfrey has taken recent criticism over the alleged use of Channel 17 for crass political purposes. It will be interesting to observe whether he plays it straight in this broadcast, or whether he allows this program to devolve into an hour-long political ad for the nefarious Ogden Gang-of-Six. Either way, this program is a local "must see," for Ogden political junkies, I think.

Update 10/25/05 12:05 p.m. MT: This Call in show may prove to be a continuing gig for our politically-beleaguered Mayor, judging from the press release that I received this morning.

I'll add that I've long thought that a Channel 17 call in show could be useful to both the townsfolk and the government, if it were to follow a true two-way input-output format, and not to serve as a one-way propaganda outlet. I was actually urging mayor Godfrey to do the former six or eight months ago.

And what do our gentle readers think about this?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Courts, or Glorified Collection Agencies?

Kangaroo Justice Courts are headline news today, thanks to this morning's Standard-Examiner article. Ogden City has received approval from the state to open a justice court in July 2006, John Wright reports. The projected cost is now "about" $2.4 million, compared to the mere $600 thousand that was projected only four months ago. "Funding options" seem to be focused on (what else?) sales-tax revenue bonds to be repaid over 20 years, as opposed to the 15 years that were previously reported. This should come as no surprise at all for Ogden citizens or avid gang-of-six watchers. The gang-of-six are big-league schemers; and big league schemes always cost a whole lot more than minor-league schemes, and of course take a whole lot longer to pay off. Faithful readers will recall that this topic has been previously discussed here, of course.

We should all rest assured that this scheme will be a big *money-maker" for the city, thanks to revenue from fines, fees and security surcharges that will be mercilessly extracted from we townsfolk -- a virtual "cash cow" according to Ogden City Administrator Mark Johnson.

Approval was actually granted in July, but for some unknown reason the matter has been kept on the "back burner" until November 10, two days after the Ogden City municipal election, wherein three of the six gang of six council seats are up for grabs. The inopportune scheduling has nothing at all to do with election politics, Council Administrator Bill Cook assures us, presumably with a completely straight face.

There are also several interesting story subcurrents.

First, it seems that Standard-Examiner, normally the slavish apologist for everything the gang-of-six says and does, has taken action resembling something actual professional journalists would do. The Std-Ex, it is reported, has lodged a formal GRAMA request, seeking public release of the Administration's "secret" working papers. I know I'll be sitting on the edge of my seat, wondering how vigorously the Std-Ex editors will pursue this formal process. They're making sounds as if they're at least trying to fulfill their journalistic obligation as our home-town newspaper. It will be interesting to monitor their follow-though. We should all cheer them on from the sidelines, I think.

Secondly, it seems that the entire legal foundation of Municipal Municipal Justice Courts remains in some doubt. Mike Martinez, a Salt Lake City attorney, argued a case before the Utah Supreme Court on October 3, asserting that Utah's municipal courts exist in violation of the Utah Constitution, because they are not independent of local government officials, and are not a part of the state judicial branch of government. The case has been taken under advisement, and a Supreme Court decision is now pending. For a great write-up on this interesting legal wrinkle, our gentle readers can click right here. For eye-opening reading on how this justice court scam works in the real world, you can check this article out.

And our gentle readers may ask, "What are justice courts anyway?"

They're operated by cities and counties They handle class B and C misdemeanors - including the majority of the state's drunken-driving charges, ordinance violations, small-claims cases and infractions, such as traffic tickets. Municipal Justice Courts operate under the direction and control of city government -- NOT under the supervision of the Utah Supreme Court, unlike "real courts" in this state.

And "Who are the judges?"

County justice court judges are hired by a county commission, but go before voters in retention elections every four years. City judges are appointed by city officials to serve four-year terms, and never face voters. The judges are not required to be attorneys, either. Only one-quarter of the state's justice court judges are lawyers. All justice court judges must attend 30 hours of judicial education each year to remain certified though. According to attorney Martinez's research, municipal justice courts boast a conviction rate of 99% -- CASH COWS INDEED!

Municipal Justice Courts: Kangaroo Courts or Real Courts?

Is this really something we want in Ogden City?

What say our gentle readers about this?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Blundering Toward Municipal Bankruptcy With The Gang of Six Leading the Charge

John Wright's article in today's Standard-Examiner fairly well encapsulates what has been said re the Rec Center project, in Wednesday's article, as updated, here on Weber County Forum. For those who missed it, you can read today's John Wright's article here.

Just to simplify matters, I've put together a series of tables, to show what the proposed upcoming refinancing and new financing looks like. You can check out my tables here.

The truly bizarre fact of these transactions, as has been pointed out preciously in our reader comments sections, is that the whole "house of economic cards" depends entirely upon the financial capacity of the Gold's and Fatcats' principals. No lender seems to have confidence in them. That's why the Gang of Six is forced to give them the taxpayers' public guarantee.

In the event of their default, the Rec Center will become a purely public project, funded by every last penny of tax increment and lease revenue that flows into our city projects, for quite a long time to come. 20+ years, to be exact.

As the Std-Ex article points out, public comments on this topic will be entertained in upcoming days, both in regular council sessions, and special citizen forums. If you give a half a damn about this city, I trust you'll all be there, speaking your minds.

The notoriously mendacious and oleaginous Comrade Jorgensen says we still have time to put the brakes on this madness:

Councilman Kent Jorgenson noted that while the public hearings are required by law, the open houses are not. He also denied that the rec center proposal already has been decided.

"Each council member has their own opinion of the project. However, it has not been formally put to a vote," he said. "Therefore, the issue has not been predetermined."

We should avail ourselves of every opportunity, I think, fellow citizens, to prove Comrade Jorgensen right for at least one time in his life. So please attend these meetings, and tell the reckless folks in city hall that we won't have this recipe for bankruptcy deftly shoved down our throats.

Failing that, we can always vote these bums out in November, I guess.

In the meantime though, we need to put our objections loudly on the record.

Comments, anyone?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Air Force to Build 4-Season Park City

More good news for Ogden's Ski Hub Visionaries:
Air Force to build resort in Park City
by G. A. Volb
Ogden ALC Public Affairs

Members of Team Hill will be some of the people who will enjoy reduced lodging costs and recreation opportunities in a future world-class, four-season military resort in Park City, Utah.

The Park City project would be the first Air Force lodging, recreation and conference facility funded, developed and managed by the private sector, with Department of Defense employees “reaping the benefits,” according to Jim Sutton, Ogden Air Logistics Center Director of Plans and Programs.

The project incorporates the use of 26.61 acres that has been deeded to the Air Force, known as the Silver Mountain site. The acreage is on the north side of State Highway 248 in Park City. When constructed, the facility will offer active duty and retired military persons and Department of Defense civilian employees a year-round recreational opportunity.

"The authorization to trade the Air Force land at Snowbasin for another parcel in Park City was included in the 2002 DOD Authorization Act. "


"'While the Army’s Armed Forces Recreation Center provides a four-season Morale, Welfare and Recreation facility in Garmish, Germany, there is no parallel capability stateside adjacent to a major metropolitan area and airport,' Mr. Sutton said. Other facilities that offer similar discounted military lodging are in Hawaii and near Disney World in Orlando, Florida"

Here's more on the Garmisch facility.


Did another Big Fish just get away?"

And what's this about Uber Ogden Lift Ogden/Weber Chamber ostensible booster Wynn Covieo, aka "program manager" for Hill AFB’s "Partnering and Business Development division," acting as eager spokesman for this deal that delivers the goods to Park City and screws Ogden over? Is he saying he's happy about this? Say it ain't so, Mr. Covieo! The least you could have done is bitch about it a little bit. I guess it all depends on which group you're sucking up to at the moment though, eh?

And what say our gentle readers about this?

Update 10/24/05 8:26 a.m. MT: The Salt Lake Tribune had some harsh words about this plan in this Saturday morning editorial.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The October Surprise -- Updated Twice

I've received several crabby emails from normally-gentle Weber County Forum readers, asking "Where's the beef today, dang-it."

I'll explain that I've been on the phone all day, gentle readers. Even though today's Standard-Examiner delivered a week's worth of news discussion red meat today, I've spent hours today dialing out and talking to my many secret but will-informed sources close to city hall on and about the most important one -- the empty downtown mall site.

The most important news story today, in my not so humble opinion, was this one that John Wright logged today. The title was ominous"... "Ogden Puts Up Collateral for Rec Center."

Yes, gentle readers, the lender who's been found, even though we didn't know he was lost, is asking for additional security, as a further condition to serving as the issuer of the essential letter of credit.

I'm going to break a real blockbuster story here. No, it's not about sidewalks. You'll remember when I warned you that Ogden City voters would receive an October Surprise, shortly before the November 8, 2005 municipal election.

This coming Friday, October 22, 2005, the Ogden City Council will conduct a special session, with the sole object of setting the thirty-day public comment period going into the Rec Center Project.

My sources reveal that:

• The "toxics" problem has been resolved;
• The construction materials price problems have been resolved;
• The financing problems have been solved, now we've thrown a public guarantee into the financial pot;
• The project is thus almost ready to go;
• The only remaining obstacle is the free-thinking Ogden townsfolk;
• the gang of six considers Ogden citizens to be morons; and,
• This election IS NOW regarded, even within Ogden City government inner circles, as a public referendum on the Rec Center project.

The gang of six will try to characterize this completion of the project arrangements as an accomplishment, whereas rational people will see it for what it is -- putting all the revenue eggs into an insubstantial and risky basket -- and delivering an October surpise to continue our hellbent-to-debt present napoleonic government into another two years in the direction of municipal bankruptcy.

What had been sold to the Ogden city taxpayers as a public-private partnership, which would stand or fall on its own merit, has now been transformed into a deal that's guaranteed by the taxpayers -- us.

It's the old "bait and switch" folks. The central-planning schemers promised the taxpayers we wouldn't be "on the hook," even in the event of the default of the Fatcats and Golds principals. That's all changed, changed utterly. As a practical matter, the administration might as well be financing this project with government obligation (GO) bonds, because the present "publicly-guaranteed" financing structure is about as close to that as you can get.

If you don't vote out the neoCON gang of five brain-dead Godfrey-zombie incumbents in this general election, I don't want to hear anybody whining or complaining about it again.

As a matter of fact, I'll dun you for your complacency here from Nov 8 onward if we don't kick out these rubber-stamping dopes on November 8.

There will be scheduled a series of public comments sessions during the 30-day period after Friday, pursuant to the thirty-day plan, according to my information. I'm also told these proceedings will be recorded, pursuant to the Utah Open and Public Meetings Act. Concerned citizens should attend these meetings en masse, and put their objections on the record.

It's much simpler than that though, really.

If you like the rec center project, and its enormous debt, which ties up virtually every spare dime in Ogden city cash-flow, vote for People's Deputies Comrades Jorgensen, Burdett and Larsen.

If not, vote for the common sense choices of the people of Ogden -- Glasmann, Jeske, Stevens and Garcia.

Many Ogdenites demanded a Rec Center Referendum. It's comin' right up now.

Weber County Forum recommends cool-headed, business-minded Ogdenites to run Ogden City government.

Weber County Forum recommends against voting for mind-numbed, financially-reckless pro-Godfrey big-government extremists.

Don't be flummoxed by the October surprise B.S, which you'll probably read about in the Godfrey-Std-Ex around Friday. They'll try to tell you its good news.

It's time to say "good-bye" to the outta-town carpetbaggers who are trying to turn our wonderful cultural "melting pot city" into a backwater "whitebread" abomination -- like Provo.

Say "no" to Godfrey and his brain-dead zombies.

Etch that into your brains.

There are important political implications here. What for instance should happen if Godfrey-zombies Jorgensen and Burdett are voted out on November 8 -- and then cast their pro-rec center votes in favor or the rec center project anyway, as brain-numbed pre-programmed lame ducks?

Not a very pretty picture.

Comments, anyone?

Update 10/20/05 12:50 p.m. MT: Three public notices appeared this morning on the Ogden City website, which refer to a "contribution agreement," and appear to relate to the "additional collateral" reported in yesterday's John Wright story. You can read them here, here and here.

You can also read another concurrently-posted public notice, which pertains generally to the rec center project bonding here.

Each of these notices seems to bear an October 21, 2005 publication date, so it's likely that the thirty-day clock begins running tomorrow, regardless of whether a special council meeting is set, as a reader downthread has already suggested.

Update 10/20/4:30 p.m. MT: Councilwoman Wicks has kindly provided to this board the Ogden RDA's press release, which you'll probably read about in tomorrow's Slavish Matt Godfrey News er.. I mean the Standard-Examiner.

Public venues have been scheduled. Please take your minds off the kids' soccer practice, Ogden citizens! Pay attention ye "unwashed" city towns-folk! We need to have the public input of people who recognize the ridiculousness of the administration's latest flip-flop. What started out as a public-private partnership, has now become a public-resource-draining publicly-financed boondoggle which will ultimately RAISE YOUR TAXES!

Email this article to your friends. Use the little email icon at the bottom of this article.

Comments are welcome here, as always.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Hearty Thanks to Councilman Kent!

Well, it's been a mere two months, gentle readers; and the Ogden City taxpayers are already getting big results. Why it seems like only yesterday that we were discussing the new $28,700/yr. public relations "communications specialist" who'd been employed by Veteran Public Relations Guru Kent Jorgensen, to put a happy face on our otherwise un-lovable Ogden City "gang of six."

And here it's only been a little over two months, and I've already received a blockbuster public relations story via email just this morning! Believe me; it was worth the wait.

It's a true "man bites dog" story, folks! Ogden City is planning to spend a little bit of dough again -- to fix up dilapidated infrastructure -- of all unpredictable things!

I am not making this up! You can read about it all here folks.

And I'm sure all of our gentle readers will join me in offering our hearty thanks to good, bold, daring "New Kid," Kent Jorgensen, whose ideas are always the best! He always knows the best ways to spend our money! He doesn't even need to ask us what we think! Why bother anyway? After all, Kent's a helluva lot smarter than us.


Would anybody else like to join me in thanking Kent for getting the council's priorities right, at least this time -- and for hiring a professional PR person to get this important story out?

Your comments are always welcome, gentle readers.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Possible Insight Into The Mind of the Likely Gondola Moneyman

As most regular Weber County Forum readers know, it's my pet theory that Snow Basin "ski mogul" Earl Holding (or his Sinclair Oil trustee) is the "secret" money pushing the ongoing gondola projects discussion here in Ogden. He's the Lift Ogden "go-to-guy," who can pay for the whole shebang out of "walking-around-money," five-star hotel included, if the LO plan to continue "fishing" for public money ultimately fails -- at least that's my theory.

Being the "curious" type, I googled a little bit until I came up with this excellent 2002 Ski Magazine interview . It's my impression that Mr. Holding has never been exactly the sort of fellow who gets up and bares his soul at "testimony meetings," religious revivals or even the local coffee shop; so I found the information in this seemingly candid and forthright interview quite revealing.

There's been a lot of local talk about the Lift Ogden folks playing it a little "too close to the vest," and being too "stingy" with the facts.

Perhaps these folks are merely following the guidance of the seemingly paranoid moneyman.

He's been "screwed over" a lot -- at least from his perspective. And he's right, assuming he's telling the truth in this remarkable interview.

I'll just invoke the old folk axiom and say, "Just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they're not out to get you."

Particularly attentive readers will also note I've had this interview in the sidebar for about 48 hours. Read the sidebar, folks. It changes almost every day.

It's a slow news day though, so I thought I'd invite some comments.

I think Earl Holding may have a legitimate point... assuming he's the money guy.

And NO! This is not the Weber County Pro-Gondola Blog! We have NO ax to grind on this. We want the truth to come out, and the cream of the discussion to come out on top, as it usually does in the marketplace of ideas..

And some people think Ogden is boring! HAHAHA!

And what think our gentle readers about all this?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Gondolas and Other Important Matters

In yesterday's Weber County Forum article, we discussed an Standard-Examiner "viewpoint" piece by Weber State University President Ann Millner, addressing the ongoing gondola topic, and suggesting that any discussion of the twin gondola projects is entirely premature, inasmuch as gondola advocates have not to date presented anything resembling a coherent and detailed business plan. Like many of us, Dr. Millner has many unanswered questions, of course.

Today's Std-Ex contains what amounts to a "companion piece" to Dr. Millner's article. In today's editorial page "guest commentary," former Mecham administration assistant for special projects, Jay Hudson, takes the discussion a step further, reeling off a series of probing questions that obviously need to be asked of gondola proponents, before public decision-makers or citizens should be called upon to make any serious choices. While Mr. Hudson's queries cannot be necessarily regarded as exhaustive, I believe they illustrate the kinds of questions that are being asked by the Ogden townsfolk. These are some of the things that should be addressed by gondola proponents, in they ever get around to drafting a formal business plan.

Two other Std-Ex articles are also worthy of note, today, I believe.

In the first of these, John Wright highlights the confusion that yet persists over whether the proposed WSU-Malan's Basin gondola leg is intended to connect with the Snow Basin 2002 Olympic venue, or whether it would merely serve Chris Peterson's far more modest Malan's Basin 4-season resort. Some proponents say "yes," and some say "no," while our always-visionary Mayor Godfrey says "maybe." One thing I'll say for the Lift Ogden folks on this question -- they've consistently and scrupulously denied that Chris Peterson's Malan's Basin project is in any way connected with his father-in-law's Snow Basin plans. Of course some of them wink and nod a little bit when they tell us that in face-to-face settings, so who knows what they really believe?

And last but not least, and lest our gentle readers falsely conclude that Weber County Forum has now morphed into some strange "Gondola Forum," I'll now abruptly change the subject back to the upcoming municipal election. In this connection, please take note that the Junior League of Ogden, one of Ogden City's premiere volunteer community institutions, has scheduled a "Meet the Candidates Night," for this coming Tuesday. You can read all about it here. Tuesday night's event is a political must for all Ogden city political junkies, I think. Hopefully, concerned citizens will pack the house, and give our council candidates a good old-fashioned Ogden grilling. Some of the candidates have already come out four-square in favor of both gondola projects. Perhaps somebody in the audience will ask how they've managed to do that, in the absense of a detailed or coherent plan. Don't forget to bring your popcorn. This should be a highly-entertaining event. I've also included a link to the Std-Ex announcement in the right sidebar, within the 2005 election capsule.

So what about our gentle readers? Do any of you have thoughts or comments on any of the articles I've just linked?

And I'm going out to "play" for a little while; so feel free to use this space as an 'open thread," for anything and everything you'd like to discuss.

Comments, anyone?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Toward a Detailed Gondola Project Business Plan

Don Porter has placed an excellent guest editorial in this morning's Standard-Examiner edition, "Waiting for details on gondola," by WSU President Ann Millner. Dr. Millner has received some general criticism of late for being "silent" in the ongoing "gondola debate;" and there's also been some innuendo that a hand-full of campus professors have been speaking against the gondola project as her quasi-official proxy.

I believe today's commentary should set these accusations to rest. Her very compact but information-rich article demonstrates that she's as familiar with the gondola project details as anyone can be, given the paucity of information that gondola advocates have revealed. Not only that, Dr. Millner reveals that she fully appreciates her solemn responsibility to make fully-informed decisions on issues which will fundamentally effect our very important Weber State University institution, now and in the future.

Dr. Millner is like many of us in this community. She needs more information before she makes up her mind. I'll incorporate here what I consider to be the "gist" of Dr. Millner's commentary:

As we consider the urban-gondola project, we need to learn more details of the proposal so we can understand the potential impact on the development of our university and the transportation needs of our students. How will these plans affect our students? What will this mean for our campus community, including our neighbors who live in the area surrounding campus? So what's the next step? After we understand Mr. Peterson's development plans for his property, we need to see a detailed business plan that outlines financing strategies, economic impact, timetables, etc., for the urban gondola project. With this type of information, the university community will be able to consider this project within the context of campus master planning.

In that spirit, I look forward to continued discussions with all these groups about what the future holds. We have an opportunity to engage in a discussion that allows the free and open exchange of ideas to debate the pros and cons of these issues in a civil and productive manner. That's one of the fundamental principles of a strong democracy.

Yes Dr. Millner; I agree. It's a detailed business plan we've all been waiting for.

Thank you Dr. Millner. Bingo! Damn, you're good.

This document is not a detailed business plan, by the way. It's a sales brochure -- and not a very good one at that.

President Millner has issued your dissertation assignment; and it's time Lift Ogden folks set off to work. Enough of the inspirational happy talk. What the smart folks want to see is the beef!

This might be a good starting point.

And before my Lift Ogden friends jump all over me; I'll just say this. Sooner or later gondola advocates will have to come up with the kinds of information our decision-makers and the concerned general public want to see. Why not put it together sooner, rather than later? Once the necessary information has been made available, then -- and only then -- the real discussion can begin.

The strategy of doling out bits of information in dribbles and dabs -- on an ad-hoc basis -- isn't working out at all. It seriously compromises credibility, in fact.

Yes. It's a detailed business plan that's needed here, I think.

Am I right about this, gentle readers?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Portland Aerial Tram -- Excerpts, Comments & Links

Over the course of the past few days I've received numerous reader requests for a compilation of some of the comments and research contributed by board regular Dian Woodhouse to Weber County Forum in connection with this recent WCF article, Anti-Gondola Event & Open Thread.

I've spoken with Dian about this, and she has thus very graciously produced a separate article, incorporating her excerpts, comments and links, on the subject of the The Portland Aerial Tram.

This is an interesting compilation, I think; and it should be food for thought for those of us who are contemplating a similarly-financed project in our own area.

If you'd like to offer your comments, simply hit the back button after you've read the archived article. It would be interesting to know what our gentle readers are thinking on this subject, I believe.

Particularly attentive readers will have already noticed that this article was also placed in the right sidebar, under the heading, "Hot Topics," a couple of days ago.

Comments, anyone?

Update 10/20/05 10:40 a.m. MT: WCF readers should take note that Dian has distilled her research into a very nice and concise print media version, which was published as a "guest commentary" in yesterday's Standard-Examiner. You can read it here.

Dealing With Dorsey and WSU

Lift Ogden's Bob Geiger has been carefully tracking the events and discussion following a Std-Ex September 21 guest commentary, “Streetcar deemed most appropriate transit system for Ogden.", by Professor Bryan Dorsey, Associate Professor and Coordinator of Urban and Regional Planning at WSU.

Mr. Geiger has submitted a detailed rebuttal piece, offering his own analysis, and updating developments since the original publication of the Dorsey article. In the interest of conserving front-page space, I've placed Mr. Geiger's article in the WCF archives. You can read the full article here.

Click the link to read this thoughtful Bob Geiger analysis, gentle readers; and if you have comments, press the back button to return to this page, and offer them here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Another Letter the Std-Ex Refused to Print

Contrary to what the Mayor says, Stuart has been an extremely incompetent asset to Ogden

Matt & Stuey Histerical Archives
From: Tom Owens

To: Don Porter
editorial page editor

I am writing in response to the Sunday op-ed piece written by Mayor Godfrey wherein he defends the indefensible giving of forty some thousand tax payer dollars to his failed economic director Stuart Read as a going away present, and his subsequent re-hiring of him at big dollars to "manage" the already privately and competently managed business depot.

Stuart, after being rejected by the Salt Lake City voters, came to Ogden with the great promise of turning our city around economically. He had been turned away, in his ill fated attempt to become mayor, by the capital city voters in favor of Ogden's own Rocky Anderson. This after his controversial tenure as the Salt Lake economic director. Had he actually been successful in SLC he most likely would have become mayor there or found his way up the development career latter to a larger city with expanded duties and pay. That not being the case, he landed here on our door step as the proverbial big fish in the little pond.

The Mayor's implications that Reid was somehow responsible for Salt Lake's light rail, American Stores and Gateway is really quite laughable. Sam Skaggs, Utah's legendary grocery and drug store giant, was the force behind the American Stores building. Gateway was the product of the Boyer company and DeDee Corridini, and the light rail was a long term undertaking spearheaded by several generations of Salt Lake mayors and UTA chiefs. Stuart Reid had very little to do with any of them other than being around when they finally came to fruition. Seems like the Mayor never lets the truth get in the way of his fanciful stories.

The Mayor would also have us believe that Stuart was turning down big paying jobs so he could come to Ogden for far less money because he could see all the potential here. This is very illogical in the real business world as the position he took here was a government job that did not involve him participating in any potential profits. So even if he did have any success here, which of course he didn't, how could he have any potential of making up the difference of what he allegedly was supposed to make in the private sector? If Reid actually had any big paying offers why didn't the Mayor give us any specifics as to who made those offers and how much they were for?

If Stuart's original agreement with Ogden really did contain a provision for a generous severance package why was it a verbal side deal and not part of his written contract? Why was the city council not informed or involved with this so called "verbal deal"? How many of the other highly paid members of the Mayor's "brain trust" have these verbal side deals to waltz out the door with tens of thousands of public dollars? The Mayor seems to be saying that "there are others with the same package".

The Mayor says that "There is a price that has to be paid if we are going to get the best. We could choose to hire the second rate people for less money and we can expect that kind of performance" I submit that the citizens of Ogden have indeed paid the price for the best but in fact got second rate performance as evidenced by the sorry string of losing projects that he and Stuart have been responsible for. Examples include but are not limited to: The 25th street condo fiasco that Ogden citizens most likely will lose two million dollars on, The American Can fiasco that has cost tax payers eight million dollars so far with not a dollar of profit in sight, The immoral attempted land grab to benefit Wal-Mart which failed, The two condo developments that have done nothing but lose money, and of course the notorious Mall scheme that has gone on for many years and twenty plus millions with no end in sight and nothing to show for it but a toxic mud hole in the middle of town. There are many more examples, but the bottom line is that the Mayor and Stuart, in their incompetence, have failed at most every thing they have touched, and have driven the city of Ogden to the brink of financial ruin.

Mayor Godfrey goes on to compare his failed team to the private sector in his attempt at justifying his gifting of forty some thousand Ogden tax payer dollars to Reid. I don't think there is any real comparison here. If this team was in the private sector they all would have been fired three or four years ago for incompetence. Private enterprise requires profitable results. This group cannot point to one single profitable project that they have been the authors of.

Contrary to what the Mayor says, Stuart has been an extremely incompetent asset to Ogden. Under their leadership we have deteriorated and languished and the city is near bankrupt with all of the unfinished and failed projects. Meanwhile the infrastructure is falling apart under our feet; the fire fighters are under-staffed, under-equipped and under-paid; the police are under-appreciated, under-paid and over-worked; and the maintenance department doesn't have the money to keep the pigeon droppings off the streets and the shoes of the tourists.

If the Mayor was really telling us the truth he would give us specifics, not general platitudes. He would tell us what each of these projects cost and how much money they are making. He would show us a real balance sheet and P&L on each project. He would tell us just exactly what project of Stuart's made the phantom three point two million dollars. Instead he gives us a bunch of mumbo jumbo ending with the biggest joke of all:

"I hope this community will realize how fortunate we have been to have Stuart Reid working for Ogden. He earned every penny we paid him many times over, but as importantly as remuneration, we owe him our appreciation for his competent, dedicated service and amazing results".

With lines like that I think these guys could make it on TV as a comedy actS.


Editor's note: This is just another instance, in a long line of instances, where the Standard-Examiner editors have started off the discussion of an issue, and then abruptly shut discussion off, once they've given their preferred editorial position "the last word."

Mr. Owens made numerous attempts to persuade Ogden city government house propagandist, Don Porter, to publish a legitimate retort. I've seen all the emails. Don Porter is one stubborn neoCON b****d.

The Standard-Examiner editors are a disgrace to journalism, in my not so humble opinion. They're barely fit to publish a monthly church newsletter, I think. Turn in your journalist cards, Don Porter, Ron Thornburg and Andy Howell, before your fellow journalists bring out the tar and feathers.

I'm not going to lay blame on the Suits from Sanduskey this time, either. I seriously doubt they care a whit about who fills the Ogden council seats for the upcoming council sessions. All they want to do is book advertizing and sell newspapers.

Well, it's the Std-Ex editors who shut off the debate. It's they who will have to account to the Sandusky Suits, when they try to mealy-mouth and explain their shutting-down of the debate, for the sake of "protecting" our present extremist government.

As always, Weber County Forum will remain an open conduit for ALL THE INFORMATION THAT'S FIT TO PRINT, though, without regard to the question of where the chips may fall.

GOOD STUFF, TOM OWENS! I'm hoping other outraged citizens will similarly speak up!

Reader-submitted articles are welcome here as always. Submit yours via my contact address. You too can become a published writer, with a returning readership numbering in the thousands, and running coast-to-coast.

And don't forget to use the little email icon at the bottom of the page, to email this article to all your friends.

Unlike Don Porter, all my readers can read and write and actually think for themselves.

Email this, and any other articles you like to ALL your email friends.

It's time to take our wonderful city back.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

WCForum Housekeeping Note

Our gentle readers who make comments will note that I've added a "word verification" feature to Weber County Forum.

Internet spammers have very recently discovered blogs as a new place to spew their garbage. The numbers are increasing fast enough that it's finally reached the point where I simply can't keep up with them all manually.

Adding this feature means that WCF readers leaving comments will be required to complete a word verification step, before actually entering comments. The entry screen looks like this:

What this does is prevent automated systems from adding comments to WCF, since it takes a human being to read the word and pass this step. If you've ever seen a comment that looked like an advertisement or a random link to an unrelated site, then you've encountered comment spam. A lot of this is done automatically by software which can't pass the word verification, so enabling this option is a good way to prevent many such unwanted comments.

Sorry about the hassle. I'm going to try it for a while to see whether it does what it's supposed to do. Please don't hesitate to let me know if this presents an unnecessary obstacle to participating in this board.

Thanks for your patience and continuing support O gentle readers.

Just How Broke Is Ogden?

On September 28, I ran this article, lamenting the current administration's seeming pattern of putting "first things last," and leaving infrastructure maintenance and repair projects on the back burner, until they deteriorate to the point of dire emergency.

In this case, I referred to belatedly-initiated repairs on Ogden's Country Hills Drive, in the foothills area around Beus's Park, which had been reported in this John Wright story. The road had washed out in a landslide in the spring, and had remained unrepaired and neglected all summer, much to the chagrin of some local folks, who could barely access their own residential properties. The city administration only got around to fixing it when gas and water mains came under threat from the continuing soil slippage, and then only quite begrudgingly.

"We just don't have an extra $400,000 sitting around anywhere," Community and Economic Development Director David Harmer said. So to pay for the now-emergency repairs, Harmer and the city administration "diverted" $300,000 from other infrastructure projects (snow removal among them;) and drew down $100,000 from the city's "contingency fund, leaving about $5,000.00 in the kitty.

I wondered at the time: "just how broke is Ogden city?"

And then last week we got this bit of bad-news information, delivered by John Wright, phrased in a strangely upbeat tone. Here are a few of the more choice excerpts:

OGDEN -- Those attending conventions at the Ogden Eccles Conference Center often stay at the Marriott and walk along 24th Street twice a day.

But many of the buildings on the street are vacant, and there is no one to clean the sidewalks.

This resulted in complaints during one recent convention, according to Dave Hardman, director of the Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce.

"The bird droppings were all along 24th Street, and it was unsightly," he said. "Those things are critical to having an impression that people leave our community with."

Hardman contacted the Ogden Public Services Department, which cleaned 24th Street before the next convention.

But the city doesn't have the resources to clean sidewalks throughout the city, said Public Services Director George Benford. It also is hard-pressed to stay on top of parks, trails and vacant lots.

That is why Public Services is launching a community service and involvement program, called CSI Ogden, that will allow residents and groups to adopt and maintain areas such as sidewalks, streets, parks and trails.

"There's no way that the city can take care of all that," Benford said. "We need the citizens to help out."

So let me see if I have this right. Ogden city, the "progressive" and "pro-tourism" "big-time development" city that's managed to scrape up every necessary dime for luxuries like full-time legislative lobbyists, do-nothing city council public relations people, bonus-rich grand scheming SLC-reject planning gurus, bankrupt 25th street taj mahals and $30 million downtown toxic waste-sites... can't dig up the few bucks that it would take to employ a couple of minimum-wage streetsweepers to clean up the pigeon doo off the sidewalk between the convention center and the Marriot Hotel so that tourists won't have to wade through bird-crap to and from the hotel?

Too funny!

Don't get me wrong. I think it's great that some of our citizens -- "Chamber" types especially -- are willing to roll up their sleeves a little bit and put some "sweat equity" into our community. If some citizens are willing to perform the tasks that their hard-earned tax dollars are designed to pay for, then I have no problem with that.

There's a sucker born every minute. -- P.T. Barnum.

It will all be a good thing though, I think, to give some of our community "cheerleader" types a taste of sweeping up the daily pigeon refuse. Perhaps it will give them an opportunity to take their minds off the the mindless central-planned "vision" that's scaring away private developers like Citiventure and Boyer left and right. Perhaps they'll contemplate, in a more down-to-earth context than a "chamber mixer," the proper priorities of municipal government.

And after a few early winter snowfalls, and after these community-minded citizens have shown up downtown a few times early in the morning, snow shovels in hand, maybe the smarter amongst them willl ask themselves the same question I've been asking: "Just how broke is Ogden?"

And another question may possibly arise: "Just how morally bankrupt is this "gang of six" who run this Ogden city economic development dog-and-pony show?

And I can't help wondering how many honest and competent streetsweepers could be hired for the forty-three thousand buck windfall that Mayor Godfrey dropped into the lap of the bumbling Stuart Reid, via a secret, undocumented "oral agreement."

In the case of streetsweepers, though, at least we'd get some palpable results. And at the very least, our visiting conventioneers wouldn't have to pack galoshes for every weekend Ogden convention gig.

Comments anyone?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

More Questions Than Answers?

Did everybody catch this letter to the editor that appeared in this morning's Standard-Examiner?

Fly on the wall tells it all
Sunday, October 9, 2005

I recently had the good fortune to speak to the "fly" on the wall that was present at the meeting between Ogden Mayor Godfrey and Stuart Reid.

The meeting went something like this:

Godfrey: "Hey, Stuart, come on in. I've got a deal for you that's really good and will dupe the City Council and the public."

Reid: "I'll be right in."

Godfrey: "You can resign or I'll terminate you. We'll pay $43,561 in severance and hire you as a contractor for $77,828. Your first-year compensation will be $121,389 instead of your current salary of $104,547."

Reid: "You've got my attention, Mayor. I'll resign -- it looks better."

Godfrey: "I hear you, Stuart. I agree."

Reid: "But, mayor, I don't think I'm entitled to severance unless you terminate me, and how can we get around the City Council?"

Godfrey: "Well, Stuart, if it comes to that, I'll change the paperwork to 'termination.' The City Council will whine, but they can't do anything about it."

Reid: "I'm in. It's an early Christmas. Thanks, Santa."

My conclusions follow:

* Mayor Godfrey looked at the decision as, "What can I legally get away with?" instead of, "What is morally correct for those paying the bills (the public)?"

* The process smacks of cronyism.

* We need to elect officials who view public revenue as a sacred trust.

* Is this the tip of the iceberg in the behavior of Ogden's public servants?

Don L. Owens

And if you caught the letter, you probably read the other side of the story,"" on the right side of the editorial page, written by none other than Mayor Godfrey himself.

For my own part, I'm growing sick of this story, and I don't feel like ruining a perfectly enjoyable weekend by dissecting it further today. If you're a glutton for punishment, though, you can read more about it here, here and here.

It's probably a little early to draw conclusions about the technical legal merits of this transaction; inasmuch as the city council's independent attorney hasn't issued his own opinion yet.

While we await the verdict of learned counsel, though, I'm going to apply a few of the facts we do know, and ask a few peripheral questions.

Inasmuch as we know that Stuart Reid's term of employment as Ogden City Economic Development Director was covered by a written agreement, why wasn't his purported prior oral severance agreement incorporated and integrated into it too? It was an integral part of his employment agreement with Ogden City, so why did Mayor Godfrey and Mr. Reid choose leave it out? Was it supposed to be a secret? If so, Why? And from whom was the secret to be kept? The city council? The taxpayers?

Mayor Godfrey's guest commentary also contains this slightly disturbing revelation: "Stuart received exactly what is allowed for under Ordinance 99-46, just as other Ogden employees have over the years. "

Are we understand from this that there exist other similar secret oral severance agreements ready to spring forth upon the voluntary terminations of other highly-paid city employees within Ogden city's current employ? If so, who else will be receiving a secret severance bonus?

And isn't reader Don Owens Right? Doesn't morality enter into the question here? Disregarding legal technicalities, doesn't this boil down to a question of right and wrong? And am I the only one who finds the adoption of a highly legalistic posture in this situation, adverse to the taxpayer interest, to be, well, more than slightly inelegant?

And what, if anything, did the other members of the "gang of six" (Jorgensen, Safsten, Burdett, Filiaga, and Stephenson) know about this; and when did they know it?

So many questions; so few answers.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Std-Ex Editors - Completely Wrong Again

By Marko Shreevo

On Thursday last, the Standard-Examiner published this indignant Standard-Examiner editorial, complaining about the mayor of Salt Lake City. Once again, the Std-Ex editors are piling-on Ogden home-boy Rocky Anderson. This is apparently what they like to do on a "slow news day."

The latest beef? He wined and dined some out-of town businessmen who were interested in Salt Lake City, and then billed the tab to the city. He did the same thing corporate executives and city mayors do all across the country, except, apparently, in places like Denver, San Jose and Las Vegas, says the Std-Ex editorial board. I say "big deal," and "so what?"

I don't know what's happening in "happening" places like those; but I'll tell you Mayor Anderson has a special burden. He's dealing with out-of-town people who perceive we L.D.S. people as something close to Mennonites or Amish; so he has a special obstacle to overcome. This is something that the mayors of cities like Denver, San Jose and Las Vegas don't have to deal with. What Mayor Anderson has to do is convince newcomers and business prospects to our culture that we're not a nineteenth-century backwater, with a population who ride around town in horse-drawn buggies. And that's not an easy thing to do.

So I say we all ought to cut him a little slack on this. It's not as if he took his prospects to some downtown club and picked up the tab for tequila shots and lap-dances. He wined them and dined them. That's it.

And if you believe the Mayor of Las Vegas doesn't wine and dine visitors to Las Vegas in a roundabout and more robust way to attract business, you probably are the provincial buffoons the Std-Ex editors suggest you aren't.

I don't agree with everything Mayor Anderson does; and I believe he sometimes tends to "showboat" a little bit for his liberal constituency. Nevertheless, everyone ought to appreciate the impediment he faces in a place where a vocal minority of the population thinks it's mandatory that the "Word of Wisdom" be aggressively enforced for everybody who visits this place.

It's time to abandon our xenophobic cultural "escaping from Nauvoo" mentality and get involved in the 21st century. Outsiders consider us insular, cultish and out-of touch; and they're probably right -- at least from the perspective of the rest of America.

There are plenty of good reasons to criticize Mayor Anderson.

This ain't one of them.


Editorial Note: This is a reader-submitted article from one of our long-time board regulars. I think it has an interesting slant. Is it possible that Rocky Anderson may actually be serving his city's economic interests positively, notwithstanding the criticism he's received? This story has been discussed all over the Utah blogosphere. You can read a couple of other Utah blogger "takes" here and here.

I've been working back and forth with him on this via email over the past two days to set up his html and links; and the above is now the final draft.

Once again, gentle readers, I'm always open to reader-submitted articles. I thank Marko for this one.

Comments, anyone?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Rec Center Lender Found

I'm sure many Standard-Examiner subscribers breathed a deep sigh of relief this morning, as I did, upon reading this encouraging front-page headline: "Rec Center Lender Found." Although many of us didn't actually know that our rec center lender had been missing, I'm sure I speak for all Ogdenites in expressing gratitude that this un-named lender of ours has been returned to us safe and unharmed.

Seriously though, this John Wright article reports that Ogden city officials have received some kind of a lender "commitment," one of the heretofore unresolved crucial steps in moving our downtown recreation center project forward. My initial impression, upon reading the article was that Ogden had perhaps changed its financing approach, inasmuch as the story didn't say anything about bonding. This however is not the case at all

I put in a call this morning to Scott Brown, Ogden City Economic Development Manager, to try to flesh out the story a little bit. Scott is Ogden city's financial guru; the man who's putting the deal together. Scott indeed informs me that a general written lender commitment has been obtained, for the issuance of the letter of credit that will allow the issuance of the bond certificates that will be sold to pay for the rec center's construction. The only loose end of the letter of credit agreement is the precise interest rate and terms; and Scott is still working on this. It's a task easier said than done in the current commercial credit environment, where interest rates and commodities prices move wildly hour-by hour. Scott assures me though, that the final deal is imminent. The bonding arrangements are already set up, Scott also assures me. I believe him. He and I have a track record. He's NEVER lied to me.

In addition to this, Scott is working on finalizing an extension agreement with the project contractor, and attempting to nail down construction materials and labor costs. This aspect of the project is a thorny one. Steel and concrete prices have escalated through the summer, as we've previously noted; and the twin hurricanes in the Gulf Coast region have made some materials entirely unavailable. Scott is confident however that the project can be brought in at the current $18.5 million estimated price, (which reflects a $2 million "fudge factor over the original $16.5 million estimate,) although he confides that this aspect of the project is causing him intermittent "heart pains."

And then of course, there's the lingering question of TCE contamination. Nobody really knows how that's going to shake out, notwithstanding Dave Harmer's constant incessant optimism.

I for one hope that Scott's efforts are not in vain, and that he's able to pull the rabbit out of the hat. Scott is a brilliant, hard-working and decent guy, and a pre-2006 groundbreaking would be a real feather in his cap.

Once again, and for the record, I'll reiterate that I am in favor of the rec center project. I'm an inveterate gym rat. I can't wait to start pumping iron at a new flagship Gold's Gym.

And while we're on the subject, I think it's time for a new poll. I've had a poll running since September 26, and it's time now to close it out.

Here's the question I asked, and the results to date:

"Will all necessary legal prerequisites for the Recreation Center project be fulfilled prior to the January 1, 2006 "drop-dead date?"

Yes (18) 19%

No (76) 81%

Total Votes: 94

I'm going to zero out the results and leave the same poll query in the right sidebar. I think it will be interesting to see how our readers react to the new information we've received today. Don't forget to cast your votes.

And isn't it great to embark on the weekend with just a little bit of positive news?

Comments, anyone?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Anti-Gondola Event & Open Thread

It's something of a slow news day, in the Tuesday primary aftermath, so I devoted myself this morning to dismantling the trusty desktop computer and adding a couple of electronic gizmos, rather than scratching through today's news stories for a main article. It's therefore doubtful that I'll be putting up a substantive article before late this afternoon at best, so I've decided to set up an open thread instead.

Pick your topic, folks. Talk about whatever you want to talk about on this thread.

As an aside, I've received word from Descente's Bob Geiger that a student event has been scheduled for today at Weber State University, to discuss the gondola issue; and I'm planning to drop in on it myself.

Here's the skinny, as provided by Mr. Geiger:

Again, in the face of overwhelming community support, WSU Professors and Administrators are holding an Anti-Gondola presentation for their Student Body. Don’t be fooled, the Administration is backing this presentation.

12:00 Noon
Room 255 – Wildcat Auditorium
Main Floor of Student Union Building

The presentation has been publicized to the students, but not the community. It is however, open for us to drop in.

The speaker will be Professor Dorsey, Associate Professor and Head of Urban Planning and Development Program for WSU. He is the professor that wrote the “misinformation” article about the UTA study. (By the way, UTA was at the Gondola vote last night as well. They are supportive of putting the Gondola in across the city.)
I'll be there, with my trusty notebook in hand.

I apologize for the late notice. I obviously need to check my email a little more often than I do.

Pick your topic folks. I won't be back until later on today.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Primary Election Post-Mortem

Now that the smoke has cleared from yesterday's primary election, I suppose it's time to offer a few comments about yesterday's results, which were reported in real-time last night on this board. My web stats software registered over 500 page-loads between the hours of 7-11:30 p.m. last night, so I know many of you were following closely. Weber County Forum was really hopping as the vote tally rolled in.

First, however, I'd like to thank all the candidates who participated in this race. It was heartening, to say the least, to have observed so many citizens step up to the plate, and involve themselves in the municipal election, the most basic level of grass-roots politics.

I'd also like to give special thanks to those council candidates who took the extra time and effort to submit candidate statements and questionaire responses to this forum. I've received many reader responses, thanking me for the information that you folks provided here. WCF has also been linked by other websites too, for this reason. I believe the voters of Ogden city went into this primary election with more available information than ever before, in no small part because of your willingness to put forth your information on Weber County Forum.

And of course I'd like to congratulate the candidates who made the final cut: Jesse Garcia, Dori Mosher, Doug Stephens, Steve Larsen, Bill Glasmann, Kent Jorgensen, Dorrene Jeske and Donna Burdett.

And once again, I'd like to offer my hearty thanks to Bill Glasmann, who did not hesitate at my late-afternoon request that he phone in the vote tally from the council chamber at regular intervals last night. It was a lot to ask of Bill, I thought, as he sat amidst the pandemonium of last night's vote-counting; but he perfomed admirably, demonstrating that he does indeed have the blood of a true newspaperman flowing through his arteries.

For a nutshell wrap-up of the primary election, you can read John Wright's excellent report here.

And I'll hold off on my own analysis for now, except to say that I believe yesterday's results did reflect the strong grass-roots anti-incumbent sentiment that I've been writing about on this blog.

Although incumbents led in the vote-count in each of the contested races, none of them managed even to approach 50% of the tallied votes. Here's the breakdown of incumbents by council seat. Even Councilman Garcia, who can by no means be characterized as a member of the "gang of six," failed to receive a majority of the cast votes:

Ward 1 - Garcia 45%
At Large A - Jorgensen 40%
At Large B - Burdett 38%

Interestingly, Steve Larsen, Councilman Filiaga's hand-picked Ward 3 successor, (also the administration's favorite 'gang of six" replacement,) garnered only 29% of the votes.

And last night's "Cinderella story" was Doug Stephens, who "came out of nowhere" in Ward 3, besting Steve Larsen, who's been campaigning for over a year, in the ward that Mr. Larsen believed he "owned." I spoke by phone with candidate Stephens late last night. It appears he's been working quietly "behind the scenes" in Ward 3, and has managed to muster significant grass-roots support. Doug Stephens has solid credentials, and now appears to be the candidate to beat -- for Filiaga's seat. Check out his candidate information in the right sidebar, if you'd like to learn more about this strong contender.

All-in-all, It's going to be an interesting race, as we now move into the final sprint. I'll have more commentary on the general election as the horses run down the stretch, so keep on checking back.

Does anybody else have any thoughts or observations on what yesterday's primary results mean?

It's your forum, people. So please don't hesitate to chime in.

Don't let the cat get your tongue.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Final Ogden Council Votes

Final tally as reported to the City Council Chamber as of 10:49 p.m.:

Municipal Ward 1
David Berghout - 78
Jesse M. Garcia* - 157
Dori Mosher* - 112

Municipal Ward 3
Ronald L. Hale - 115
Stephen J. Larsen* - 245
Mitch Moyes - 174
Doug Stephens* - 285

At Large Seat A
Daryl S. Andersen - 261
James E. Carrell - 87
Bill Glasmann* - 1,099
Kent W. Jorgenson* - 1,329
Jack McWain Sr. - 171
Kori Munns - 312

At Large Seat B
Joshua Belka - 268
Donna S. Burdett* - 1,252
Dorrene E. Jeske* - 872
Jeff LeFevre - 210
Steven M. Prisbrey - 317
John H. Thompson - 384

*Finalist - all votes counted

I'd like to personally thank council candidate Bill Glasmann for graciously phoning in these vote tallies through the evening, as they became available. It was a hectic scene tonight at city hall, and we're very grateful for his efforts in this regard.

Get Thee to the Polls!

So, gentlemen,
With all my love I do commend me to you:
And what so poor a man as Hamlet is
May do, to express his love and friending to you,
God willing, shall not lack. Let us go in together;
And still your fingers on your lips, I pray.
The time is out of joint: O cursed spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!
Nay, come, let's go together.

-Hamlet Act 1. Scene V
William Shakespeare

We Ogdenites face a very sobering responsibility today. We are the only thing standing between Matt Godfrey and another two years of one-man rule. And Ogdenites simply cannot afford two more years of failure and drift, two more years of alibis but no answers.

I believe Ogdenites are fed up with six years of reckless borrowing and spending, tunnel-vision, council block-voting and machine politics. And I believe Ogden is desperate for leadership determined to involve citizens in finding new ways to revive Ogden city from her present economic doldrums.

That's why there are an unprecedented fifteen challengers running for four city council seats. I strongly believe that the city council -- in the right hands and with the right plans -- can be an effective force for the change Ogden so desperately needs.

We've got to be willing to shed the idea that one single small clique of single-minded and arrogant individuals holds a monopoly on all the good ideas, and recognize that tapping the "wisdom of the crowd" is the key to answering the great challenges we face in this city.

On economic development in particular, we Ogdenites can no longer blindly entrust and delegate the responsibility of improving our economic viability and quality of life to a single clique of individuals. By the same token, we know that we must actively participate in our government, by electing council members who will listen to us.

After all, we, too, have parents, spouses, children and siblings we love very much. We, too, care deeply about our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors and our city.

And we must not be reticent about communicating to "the powers that be" that we are dissatisfied with the present course of our city government, and that we will not idly stand by for another two years of grand failed schemes, cronyism and excuses.

Together -- and with your help -- we will fight to bring Ogden back!

The polls are now open. This is the most important primary in many years. It's time for the citizens of Ogden to take back our city.

The time is out of joint: O cursed spite, That ever you were born to set it right!

Aye, come, let's go to the polls together.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Another Story the Std-Ex Refused to Print

I received this press release over the weekend from the Ogden Firefighters' Association, announcing their four Ogden city council endorsements. Following up on this, I phoned Dirk Youngberg, to flesh out a little more detail.

What he told me is quite alarming. He tells me he's had conversation with the Std-Ex editors; and get this: they've refused to run the story because they didn't want to influence the upcoming primary.

Yeah! That statement nearly rendered me speechless too.

I notice they didn't hesitate to run this story though. As per usual, the citizens of the Std-Ex's home town are fully informed of the intricate political nuances in places like Roy, Layton and Fruit Heights; but for the local Ogden townsfolk -- the Standard-Examiner election news blackout yet persists.

Of course the Roy firefighters endorsed all the incumbents, unlike the situation here. Then again, Roy firefighters are probably treated much better there in Roy.

I'd placed the news release in the right sidebar on Friday; but I suppose it deserves front page treatment here -- under the circumstances. I only wonder what else the Standard-Examiner editors aren't telling us about.

Is there anybody left in our fair town who still believes the Standard-Examiner even marginally fulfills its proper First Amendment role of informing the citizens of the facts?

Gawd do we native Ogdenites ever miss Abe Glasmann's home-town newspaper.

The Standard-Examiner Defends Reid "Good Ole Boy" Windfall

The Standard-Examiner, constant and slavish proponent of all things Ogden city "Godfreyesque" (rhymes with Kafka-esque) government does, ran a story in yesterday's edition, adamantly defending the Mayor's actions in the ongoing Stuart Reid severance bonus situation. In the interest of saving WCF front-page space in the two days remaining in the primary election, I'll simply link the full story here.

In a nutshell, the Standard-Examiner has taken the position that Mr. Reid's severance windfall was all nice and legal, inasmuch as the secret Godfrey-Reid severance agreement purportedly pre-dated the current version of the ordinance. The Std-Ex position thus seems to be that the ordinance in effect at the time of Mr. Reid's original hiring permitted the Mayor to award severance packages in its discretion irrespective of whether the termination was voluntary or involuntary.

Whether this is true or not is anybody's guess at this point. I visited what's left of the Weber County Law Library yesterday though, and am presently unable to determine what the ordinance said at the time of Mr. Reid's hiring. The only version there is the current ordinance. Prior versions are unavailable. Nor are they available on the internet.

Consider this an ongoing story folks. I'm definitely going to look into this ordinance authority question further, once the primary election has been concluded.

Suffice it to say that I'm not going to take the Standard-Examiner's word for it though, because the ordinance in question, Ogden City Code Section 2-6-9 was first enacted in 1979, well before Mr. Reid's 2002 hiring. It has however been amended numerous times. I'm thus going to leave this question open until I'm able to get my hands on a copy of the ordinance that was in effect at the time that Mr. Reid was first hired by Ogden city. When that happens, I will publish a copy of that ordinance here.

The most interesting feature of this story is a second "wrinkle" that the Std-Ex editors decided to "throw in."

The John Wright article says, "Stephen Schwendiman, a Utah assistant attorney general, said the state Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that verbal agreements are as valid as written ones, meaning Reid could have sued the city if he had not received the severance pay."

It then goes on to make a logical leap and attribute this non-sequitur to Mr. Schwendiman: "A court would undoubtedly find that binding," Schwendiman said of the agreement."

Being the curious type, I put in a call this morning to Mr. Schwendiman, to verify his quote. He very graciously returned my call; and we spoke for a few minutes about the telephone interview he'd had early with Mr. Wright.

He explained that Mr. Wright had merely asked him a general question, "Are verbal employment agreements enforceable under Utah law?" Mr. Schwendiman provided the obvious and correct answer. Yes they are, of course.

Mr. Schwendiman makes it very clear however, that he did not render any opinion as to whether the Reid-contract was legal under its particular factual circumstances. Mr. Schwendiman informs me that he hasn't read the written employment agreement, nor has he reviewed the applicable ordinance, nor investigated or examined any other facts particular to the transaction, to determine whether Mayor Godfrey had the authority to enter into the agreement in the first place. As to that, that's an open question in Mr. Schwendiman's mind, as in the minds of numerous others among us.

I told you the Std-Ex "fudged" on the facts. What they did was try to bootstrap an off-the-cuff informal statement about general Utah law into an Attorney General Opinion. Tsk, tsk, tsk...

Is the Standard-Examiner a great newspaper, or what?

Incidentally, there was an articulate and perceptive Std-Ex guest editorial on the general subject in yesterday's edition, for anybody who'd like to take a look.

Comments, anyone?

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