Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Missed Opportunity at The Junction


An indoor skiing facility in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Who said you can't snow ski in the Arabian Gulf?

Apparently, when you have unlimited oil dollars, this is one way you spend it.

This is what Oil Money can do for you!

During the construction phase...
Dubai , United Arab Emirates

Finished, notice the palm trees outside..........

Remember, this is in the middle of the desert.... The very
HOT desert where temperatures get up to 120 degrees.....
Unbelievable! But true.....

The INSIDE view:

Ever wonder why gasoline is $2.39 a gallon for regular unleaded?

(Graciously submitted by a another alert gentle reader.)

Comments, anyone?

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Good, the Bad, and the UGLY

I received an email this morning from one of our gentle readers providing a preliminary rundown on a few of the RDA/property rights bills that will be coming up on the 2006 Utah Legislative agenda. I'll incorporate the text from this email in full:
---------Good Bills this 2006 legislative session---------

Note: Wow! There are some very aggressive land use bills on the capital this go around. This should be a very very interesting legislative session. According to Craig call, there is some real hostility towards lobbyist on the capital this go around and the land use bills are plentiful.

Local Government Land Use and Impact Fee Revisions -- Mansell, L. A. SB 170

This bill is a bombshell to municipal land control. The professional land planners are trying to kill this bill and have named it the "let em sprawl bill" and is anti Gov. Huntsman's Envision Utah goals. It prohibits counties and municipalities from imposing stricter land use requirements or higher land use standards than required under statute. Today cities can take your freedom and pass any ordinance "more restrictive" than the state code. This bill clips the cities wings in effect. It also says the city must "protect property rights." What a radical concept.

"Local Government Land Use and Impact Fee Revisions"".

Bramble's Redevelopment overhaul looks like two different bills. No text yet. Just named. SB 0196 and SB 0245.

"Resolution Restricting Use of Eminent Domain" -- Dougall, J. HJR 029 -- No text.

"Eminent Domain Amendments" -- Stephenson, H. SB 0117 -- Requires vote by whole council and not just the mayor. And notification to affected property owners before the decision to use eminent domain.

"Limitation on Municipalities" -- Harper, W. HB 423 -- No text yet.

------------Bad Bill-----------

"Property Law Amendments" -- Jenkins, S. -- SB 0210. No text yet. This bill may expand the use of eminent domain to stop little old ladies from buying property to stop a city project.
This latter bill, which could be legitimately titled the "Closing the Barn Door After the Horses Have Escaped" bill is no doubt the result of the efforts of the Ogden City Administration's paid lobbyist, Mr. Jolley, to prevent one of our local citizen activists from raising any more hell with the Wal-Mart Superstore project, should the Ogden RDA ever miraculously (i.e., by divine intervention) have the condemnation power restored by the legislature.

As you will recall, it was our own Dorothy Littrell, retired CPA and frequent contributor to this blog, who garnered national attention, when she took on the neoCONS at Ogden City Hall and Uber-Corporate Land-grabber Wal-Mart and won:
Ogden, UT -- Fighting the world's largest retailer is an unenviable task. But a core group of concerned citizens in Ogden, Utah, led by 76-year-old retiree Dorothy Littrell, did just that--and won. In an act of both legal significance and brash defiance, Dorothy even purchased a parcel of property in the middle of Wal-Mart's proposed development, after the company's plans were revealed. Together with filing a pro se lawsuit, the group staged rallies, using materials provided by the Castle Coalition, wrote letters to the editor and exerted a vast amount of political pressure through the media and state legislature. In early 2005, a little over a year after the big-box was announced, the group's activism ultimately culminated in an eminent domain reform bill that was signed by the governor, effectively stopping the development and saving a neighborhood. Yet another victory against seemingly insurmountable odds. Castle Coalition

I spoke briefly with Ms. Littrell this morning by phone, and asked how it feels to have the local government's arrogance and hubris directed toward her through a Senate bill drafted specifically to strip away her civil rights with respect to the downtown parcel of property that she owns.

"I just want you to know that I have arrived. It is my own Senator from Weber County who is going after little old ladies to keep us at home and from buying property to stop the big bad government. I think this is a hoot," she said.

If you ever get a chance to meet her in person -- "little old lady" WON'T be a description that leaps to mind. the lady has fire; and she doesn't take crap from ANYONE.

Property owners of Ogden owe Dorothy Littrell a debt of gratitude for putting her money where her mouth was during our successful 2005 pro-property rights fight.

If any of our gentle readers who care about private property rights would care to deliver a few choice (but gentle) comments to the obviously-misguided Senator Jenkins, I'm inserting his email address here: sjenkins@utahsenate.org

The floor is now open for discussion.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Deadline for Renaming the Mallsite!

All good things must come to an end, as the old saying goes. So ends the "rename the Mall Contest. And a VERY good thing this contest has been for the creative and gentle readership of Weber County Forum indeed. The denizens of this forum have dutifully submitted a grand total of 117 name entries, via 63 separate reader comment posts, demonstrating once again that our gentle readers are by far the most thoughtful and civic-minded readership of any blog in the entire blogosphere.

Today is the mallsite renaming deadline. All entries must be received by the name selection committee by close of business this afternoon. In this connection, the editors here at Weber County forum have completed a tedious cutting/pasting process, gleaning ALL of our most excellent name nominations, and compiling them in a single master list. For those who would like to examine this magnificent compilation, we are providing a handy link here.

In order to avoid blowing the deadline on this, our editors will be submitting this master list by modern 21st-century electronic email technology, transmitted over tiny wires at the speed of light, to THIS OFFICIAL OGDEN CITY EMAIL ADDRESS: lindafonnesbeck@ci.ogden.ut.us, just as soon as blogmeister Rudi finishes his lunch this afternoon.

In the event any of our gentle readers has an additional brainstorm before 5:00 p.m. today, they may submit last-minute entries themselves via the very same above email link.

Once again our readers have stepped up to the plate, and produced a name list worthy of the highest-priced public relations firm.

We thank our gentle readers for their enthusiastic support of this grass-roots contest project; and we express our confidence that any one of the 117 names submitted will surely be the worthy moniker which will be borne by wondrous project which will be blooming like a phoenix from the toxic mudflats this coming spring -- assuming Larry Miller ultimately signs the necessary so-far-unsigned documents.

Comments, anyone?

Which names are YOUR personal favorites?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Ogden RDA Board Bends Over

Ogden City's RDA board cowed to the pressure of the Godfrey Administration (and the recent St-Ex propaganda onslaught) at tonight's RDA meeting -- and voted 7-0 tonight to tap the city's $3 million credit line, exercise the about to expire River Property options, and to issue $4.5 million in new bond debt, contingent only upon Ernest Health Inc.'s signing of a purchase agreement, with performance obligations which are quite meager by any objective standard.

As Comrade Councilman Safsten noted, Ernest Health could sell their interest to a "Chinese Consortium" balloon manufacturer at any moment after the signing, and there's nothing the RDA Board could do about it.

The newly-elected council bent over just like the former gang-of-five, only much more painfully and obviously.

Forget U.S.M.C. veteran Glasmann's earlier "probative" questions asking who the principals are, and whether they have the financial capability to perform their contractual obligations. Forget attracting businesses that will stabilize our community. All that went out the window tonight. When the going gets tough, even novice politicians turn "pro."

Forget the RDA Board's asserting itself as the new power in Ogden City government. The new Board proved tonight that they have neither the brains nor the political guts to ever pull it off.

Two weeks ago, Ernest was asked a few questions, couldn't handle the heat, and then closed off negotiations. This is a standard bargaining ploy, of course.

This week, the RDA Board cowered, became weak-kneed under pressure, and offered to give away the store with no questions asked. It's what's called in Councilman Glasmann's beloved U.S. Marine CorPse a "slow surrender."

The RDA board meekly approved the new debt, relinquishing any claim that the new council/board will ever assert itself against a totalitarian mayoral administration that the people of Ogden voted to reject only two months ago. This -- in spite of a parade of Ogden citizen commentators tonight who advised the Board to "stand their ground."

It's the same old game, only with new political cowards sitting on the city council, I fear.

Three weeks on the job -- and they're already co-opted. It's enough to make honest people gag.

Comments, anyone?

Is there anyone more disgusted with our new council's most recent performance than I?

Back to the Future

In recent months, Weber County residents have been subjected to a veritable barrage of information from the local media and private entities, touting a gondola system as a preferred urban transit option. Weber County Forum has also devoted considerable bandwidth to the discussion, with articles here, here, here, here and elsewhere on this weblog. For a time there we were tempted to re-name this place the "All Gondola Discussion Blog."

In this connection, I've just received an email from one of our gentle readers, on the subject of a more traditional transportation alternative -- an urban streetcar system.

For readers interested in learning more about public transit alternatives, Weber County Forum is pleased to direct our gentle readers' attention to an upcoming community event. A public presentation" will be held on Monday, January 30th at 6:30 p.m. at the Lindquist Alumni Center, 1305 41st Street (East of WSU Credit Union.) The announced topic is "streetcars." Featured guest speakers will be John Sillito, (Professor of Library Science, Archivist and Curator of Special Collections at WSU,) and Jeffrey F. Boothe (Chairman and Executive Director of the "National" Community Streetcar Coalition.)

For more information on this event, just follow this link, to view a web brochure made available via the Smart Growth Ogden website.

Additional reader information or comments are invited, of course, as always.

Thank you very much.

Rudi has now left the building.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Time to Hamstring the Give-Away Artists

The Utah legislature is about to have a corrective bill before it. Its sponsor is Rep. Neil Hansen (D-Ogden). It's an important bill, methinks:

What it will do is require local Utah entities, like the Ogden RDA, to rigorously 'check out" prospective lessees who are designated to pay down lease revenue bond debt, under formal auspices of generally-recognized accounting principles.

We have a class of "annointed" but inexperienced and financially-reckless "rogue lay clergymen" still thinking they're running Ogden because they believe "God" "ordained" them.

What we need, I think, is a bill like Neil Hansen has on the table.
Here's the prefacatory text to Rep. Hansen's bill:

This bill modifies the Local Government Bonding Act to require certain contract clauses related to the financial condition of a private entity that is making principal or interest payments on lease for revenue bonds. Highlighted Provisions: to this is bill:

Requires any pledge, contract, or agreement between a local political subdivision and a private entity to include provisions that allow the local political subdivision to: independently assess the ability of the private entity to meet its financial obligations if the pledge, contract, or agreement involves lease payments for the repayment of a revenue bond; and rescind or amend the pledge, contract, or agreement if the assessment finds that the private entity is unable to meet its financial obligations and the local political subdivision determines it is necessary to protect its financial interests;

Requires the local political subdivision to ensure the independent assessment is complete prior to entering into a pledge, contract, or agreement and at least annually;

Requires independent assessment to be performed using audited financial statements provided by the private entity;

Requires the audited financial statements to include an opinion by an independent certified public accountant indicating the financial statements are fairly stated in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America;

And requires that the independent assessment shall determine whether there are adequate available net assets or a reasonable expectation of sufficient future cash flows and revenues in excess of expenses to provide for the lease payments during the next reporting period.
And here's a full link to the text of the bill on the Utah State Legislative site.

Rep. Hansen needs concerned Ogden citizens' active support on this.

E-mail your legislator now.

This should be a bi-partisan effort, BTW. Everybody who knows anybody knows Rep. Hansen and I usually work the opposite sides of the political-party-partisan aisle.

Nevertheless, I throw my whole-hearted support to Neil Hansen on this.

This is just another way to hamstring the local neoCON giveaway artists, and require them to behave as conscient adults.

TIME IS SHORT ON THIS. The House committee votes on this tomorrow,January 23, 2006, at around 2:30 p.m.

We need to inundadate them with emails. Better yet... get thee down to the Capitol Building.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Alternate Reality Department

Recently some members of our City Council, through their own actions, caused a large company (Ernest Health, Inc.) that was willing to build a $17 million hospital to change its mind about locating in Ogden. Sadly, this appears to be nothing more than an attempt to show the mayor who is in charge of the city.

Ogden Standard-Examiner
Letters to the Editor

Political Struggle Ultimately Hurts Residents
Dustin Chapman
January 21, 2006

Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey and City Council Chairman Jesse Garcia said Brockette has informed them he will resume discussions with the council in the next few weeks regarding the possibility of the hospital being built in Ogden.

Ogden Standard-Examiner
Cities fighting for Ernest
January 21, 2006

The little mayor needs to be "brought to lead," as we lumpen-townsfolk often say about dumb livestock and dumber politicians in our little local berg. The council adults are now taking charge of municipal matters, pursuant to the recently-expressed will of the voters.

Godfrey has two choices: Either play ball cooperatively; or suffer the new council's continuing bitchslaps, as they bring him into line.

The latest info is that Chairman Garcia is primarily responsible for bringing Ernest back to the table. He apparently engineered it all by phone. For that, Councilman Garcia deserves a Weber County Forum tip o' the hat.

Councilman Glasmann, a real estate broker by profession, is also searching alternate Ogden Ernest-friendly sites. One of Mr. Brockette's objections to the River Project, apparently, was its physical isolation from other existing medical facilities. There's nothing engraved in granite that says the River Project site was in any way the best site for them.

Go, Glasmann, go.

Comments. anyone????

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ernest Comes Back to the Table

You heard it here first, gentle readers.

Ernest Health, Inc. is back to the bargaining table, thanks to the efforts of Councilmembers Garcia and Glasmann, according to a reliable source.

Details to follow...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Last Night's Council Hijinks

I suppose it's time to offer a few more words about the ongoing Ernest Health flap, which has driven certain elements of our community into a complete tizzy. As you'll all recall, our new city council asked Ernest Health's front-man, Darby Brockette, a few basic questions during the January 10 RDA session -- simple stuff like "Who are you?" and "Does your company have the financial capacity to justify the RDA Board's going out on a $7 million limb?"

Our extremely well-paid city administrative staff had somehow "neglected" to ask the fundamental qualifying questions that any prospective partner, lender or investor would ask in any normal prospective business relationship, even though they'd been been negotiating for almost a year. When the RDA Board spoke up and exercised their sworn duties like actual adults two Tuesdays ago, all hell broke loose.

In the forefront was the local neoCON propaganda organ, which has been on a misinformation blitz all week, spinning the facts and flailing the new council members in the manner of an deranged angry nanny. For examples of true blistering one-sided journalism, you can check out the Std-Ex articles here, here and here . And according to the Standard-Examiner, Ernest Health is the best thing since sliced bread, as is "reported" in this reportorial hack-job, and this airheaded Std-Ex piece. Of course we assume that neither ace reporter Scott Schwebke nor the Std-Ex editors have actually had the opportunity to review the actual Ernest Inc. financials and bios either.

Remember: Wayne Ogden looked good to Ogdenites, until his house of cards came toppling down. Outward appearances can certainly decieve.

For sheer editorial snarkiness, today's lead editorial takes the cake. And the Std-Ex doesn't stop there. For an example of journalistic "piling-on," (ten yard penalty to the Std-Ex,) be sure to read Scott Schwebke's latest tall tale, also straight from today's edition. Schwebke is still hammering the meme that the RDA board was overly-aggresive at the 1/10/06 RDA session.

Anyone with the fortitude to plow throw the preceding barrage of Std-Ex rubbish will no doubt emerge with the distinct impression that the local newspaper of record has embarked on a mission from God -- GODfrey, that is. The propaganda spin machine is running full-tilt -- and the new council will be put in its rightful place -- at the foot of the throne of Matt Godfrey.

On another note, I attended last night's council session; and I have to give due credit to Bill Glasmann. He apologized last night for any offense that might have been taken by Mr. Brockette, real or perceived, without backing down on the need for more information. He conducted himself as a gentleman, and not a politician, and tried to make public amends for whatever feathers might have been ruffled. He didn't need to apologize, but he did so anyway. I believe that's the mark of a true gentleman, a man worthy of the Glasmann name. For the full text of Councilman Glasmann's comments, mouseclick the following link.

Last night's council meeting was quite the event, by the way, so I'll give you a quick rundown of the facts which are germane to this article .

Prior to the public comments session, Councilman Glasmann lightened the mood, holding up a kevlar flak vest which he'd no doubt borrowed from one of his friends in the Ogden Police Department. Being aware that he and the other new council members were about to endure a public grilling as a result of the stories spun all week by the Standard-Examiner, he used this simple prop effectively, drawing laughter from the crowd in the council chamber, thus setting a lighter tone for the evening.

Among the citizens who addressed the council were four women from the Ogden business community, each of whom has a significant financial stake in the redevelopment of downtown Ogden. Their comments were thoughtful and gentle. Their tone was non-hostile and non-confrontational. In a nutshell, they advised the new council to keep their minds open, and their eyes on the object of building a better Ogden. Curiously, each of them prefaced their comments with the disclaimer -- "you can't always believe what you read in the Standard-Examiner."

Also taking their place before the council podium were three city council election also-rans, Steve Prisbrey, Dori Moshure and Steve Larsen. This parade of defeated Godfrey lackeys were obviously Mayor Godfrey's "chosen" proxies for the evening, and their message naturally boiled down to the philosophy of taking the mayor's word for everything -- with no questions asked.

Gold's Gym's Gary Nielsen took his three minutes at the council podium, reminding the council that top corporate executives like Mr. Brockette are actually fragile and timid folk, little flowers who wither like schoolgirls when subjected to any form of questioning. The best tactic, Mr. Nielsen advised, with a completely straight face, is "grovelling." Dori Moshure also chimed in on this theme, to the utter amusement of almost everyone in the room.

The highlight of last night's session, was Mayor Godfrey's short statement. Responding to charges that his administration had failed to provide all the information requested by Board members prior to the January 10 RDA Board debacle, he forthrightly announced that he and his well-paid staff had indeed responded to every information request that the council had sought -- everything that had been put into writing, that is.

That's right, folks. Mayor Godfrey seems now to be hiding behind an obscure council procedure which was practiced on the former "gang of six." The administration only responds to written information requests. Verbal requests will apparently be ignored completely. Rather than step forward and voluntarily offer all the pertinent information to a "green" council, in order to actively promote his latest pet project, Mayor Godfrey honors a bureaucratic rule of procedure plainly designed to isolate the council from the administration. And there we have it: bureaucracy at its best. Two branches of a city government operating inside the same downtown building, who will only exchange information via chains of written communication. Somehow the whole posture has an other-worldly quality to it, like something from a bizarre inside-out sci-fi universe, I think -- or maybe an old Monty Python skit.

As councilman Glasmann wryly remarked last night, our local busybodies at the local ski apparel company seem to have ready round the clock access to every business that Mayor Godfrey is courting. Yet Godfrey wouldn't even schedule a private meeting with council leadership. Something's rotten in the land of Oz, I believe. The new council obviously has plenty of work on its hands. This procedural rule (which none of the new council knew about, despite months of intensive "training") is something that needs to be addressed forthwith. Lots of changes need to be made here in MattGodfreyWorld, I think.

I could go on and on, but I believe it's time to turn this thread over to our gentle readers, who always know what's best. Is there anyone out there who attended last night's event who'd like to fill in all the information that I've left out? Do any non-attendees have any comments or questions?

The floor is open for your gentle comments.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Ogden - Weber Museum Proposal & Invitation

By: Robert Cato

A proposal by a diverse group of volunteers to create a museum for the Ogden - Weber County area has been announced. The goal is to establish a depository for items, photographs and information about the Ogden - Weber County and surrounding area. The group hopes to convince both the Ogden City Council and the Ogden RDA Board to allow the Ogden - Weber Museum Inc. (OWMI) to accept responsibility for the old Shupe Williams Candy Factory building at 26th St and Wall Avenue.

The Shupe Williams Building, which has been vacant now for a number of years, would meet the goals and mission statement requirements for the OWMI. The location of the building, next to Union Station and in the immediate area of Historic 25th Street, would add another venue to the attractions available for visitors. Museums by themselves are not large money makers but attract patrons for other business such as restaurants, hotels, antique stores and shopping areas in their proximity. With this in mind the OWMI is in the process of being established as a non-profit (501 c 3 tax exempt) organization.

The need for a museum for this area grows on a daily basis. Many of the residents who are currently in their 80's and 90's are passing on. Many of these individuals have items of a historical nature that they received in their younger years as family heirlooms or curiosities from people in their lives that recognized the importance of such things. Many of the items are not wanted by the heirs of these elderly folks. Some of the items are difficult to move and/or store. Consequently they end up in antique stores or sold on E-Bay and disappear into private collections. Having a local museum here where such articles could be preserved and shared with the public would allow us to keep our heritage available for generations to come.

The Shupe Williams Building is in danger of being lost because of many disputed facts about current structural problems. The Ogden City Mayor, Matthew Godfrey, claims that the building is not worth saving and would like to see it torn down so the land could be used for a parking lot. In fact a structural survey done in November of 2005 by Donald Hartley, a Historical Architect with The State Of Utah Department of Community and Culture, Division of State History / Utah State Historical Society, states that the building can be restored and is of significant enough historical importance that it should be saved.

The Shupe Williams Building is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, although not on the “local historic register”. In fact, the cost of demolishing the building, 200 to 400 thousand dollars, would cover a great deal of the expense of stabilizing the building. The OWMI is not requesting funds from the City of Ogden for this purpose. If they are granted use of the building the OWMI will seek grants and donations for this work.

In the past three decades Ogden has lost most of the historical commercial structures that made Ogden a people friendly environment. The current city administration does not recognize the need for historical structures and is promoting buildings such as the new rec center which leave most individuals with a cold uninviting appearance. The new Ogden City Mall as it was originally proposed was designed using a “retro Art-Deco” look that was both pleasing to the viewer and offered a welcoming attitude.

The proposed use of the Shupe Williams Building for the OWMI would allow the building to also serve the community through other purposes including traveling museum exhibits, meeting rooms and archival libraries.

The OWMI Group will present a brief overview to the Ogden City Council on Tuesday January 17th at 5:00pm in the Council Chambers on the 3rd Floor of the Municipal Building located at 2549 Washington Boulevard. Those interested in saving Ogden’s History are invited to attend.

For more information about the proposed museum and how to participate in its inception contact Robert Chugg at (435) 782-6561 or Jason Rusch at (801) 394-6729

And what of our gentle readers?

Isn't this the kind of project that can bring our now-squabbling community together?

Update 1/16/06 5:44 p.m. MT: The address typo noted earlier in the comments section has now been corrected. The true address is:

Ogden City Council Chambers
Municipal Building
2549 Washington Boulevard
3rd floor
Ogden, UT 84401

Be there or be square.

Comments anyone?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Naming of the Old Mall Site

By Dian Woodhouse

The Ogden City Redevelopment Agency (RDA) has directed that there Will be citizen input into the naming of the Old Mall Site.

To this end, it established a selection team made up of people from the community. This team, of which I am a member, will select five top choices from all the proposed names submitted, to be passed onto Boyer.

The Boyer Company will then mull this over and select One name, and incorporate this name into its final proposal to the Redevelopment Agency, which will then decide whether or not to approve the proposal.

It's good because, for once, we will not be pitted against each other. We're not on sides. It's not about winning or losing. We are simply invited, as an entire community, to participate. The names are to be submitted anonymously. And the whole point is that it is an opportunity for all of us in the community to get creative and be a part of this process.

The process only lasts two weeks--the deadline for submissions is January 27th. Surely those reading and participating on this blog can come up with novel and breathtaking names. The criteria for names being submitted is:

1. One, two, or three words.

2. Recognizes Ogden's History

3. Significance of the railroad in that history

4. Anything unique or distinctive to Ogden

5. Suggests a place rather than an activity or event.

6. A progressive or modern sounding name

We at WCF do positive things once in awhile, and this one doesn't even cost anything. So fire away. Let's see how many we can come up with from WCF, and Rudi can send them in.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

No Longer Slavish and Dysfunctional - Updated

Last night's Ogden RDA meeting was VERY encouraging.

What was formally on the agenda was what STD-Ex reporter Cub reporter Scott Schwebke said in today's Std-Ex backpage story.

Yeah. They set the "bonding" hearing for 1/24/06. No big deal.

That's the MINOR story.

The BIG story is this. The Ogden City RDA board basically begged Mayor Godfrey all last week, prior to last night's RDA meeting, for basic "qualification" information on Ernest Health, Inc. This happened ALL WEEK.

Godfrey's administration "clammed up," and even had a private meeting with Ernest, Inc. execs early last Tuesday, hours before Tuesday night's RDA Board meeting, and barred council leadership from attending.

Last Friday afternoon, the message was delivered to RDA Board members that emperor Godfrey (who doesn't have even a vote on the RDA Board) hadn't supplied the requested information... and that he didn't intend to supply any requested information to the governing body of the Ogden RDA, the state-delegated governing board.

Matt Godfrey basically told the voting members (the governing body of the Ogden RDA) to "stick it."

Thus they asked the Ernest Health, Inc. rep a few basic questions Tuesday night, during a public meeting. That was their last resort, I believe, given Emporer Godfrey's juvenile and decidedly machiavellian machinations.

And Yes! The new RDA Board voted to set a hearing for new bonding and a loan for 1/24/06.

The beauty of it is that in doing this, the RDA board commanded Mayor Godfrey to produce all the fundamental audited financials on Ernest Health, and resumes of all the Ernest Health Officers and Directors, just as any prudent prospective partner, lessor or lender would do.

Rumors are circulating that Ernest Health has already "pulled the plug," even after agreeing publicly to furnish the information. This is reportedly happening even though The slick Texan in the well-tailored $1500 suit said he was still doing his "Due Diligence" on Ogden City.

If they don't want to produce basic financials...that should tell us all something very important.

I've disagreed a lot at various time with Ogden activist Sharon Beech, and her tactics.

Nevertheless, I agree with her every comment at last night's RDA session, wherein she said she'd be giving a hat-tip to the new council, for asking necessary questions, and restoring active discussion to City Council/RDA sessions.

I'll give lavish credit where it's due: Bingo, Sharon Beech!

Our city council is no longer slavish and dysfunctional. It'll get lots better, I predict, once our new councilpeople "learn the procedural ropes."

Update 1/12/06 11:50 a.m. MT: The Standard-Examiner reports this morning on the Ernest Health brou-ha-ha. Mayor Godfrey is "appalled," Scott Schwebke dutifully reports. He's never seen anything like it. "Maybe the council didn't understand what they were doing," Emperor Godfrey muses.

“I’m very disappointed,” Godfrey said. ‘“We’ve been working for a year on that (hospital) project. To see it go up in smoke in one meeting is sad.”

I'll tell you what's appalling. Our "visionary" can-do Mayor -- and his high-priced "can-do" economic development team -- have apparently been in negotiations with Ernest Health for a year, and yet have failed to obtain information so elementary and fundamental to the transaction as to make a rookie realtor blush. It's beyond dissapointing. It goes well beyond appalling, too.

That the Ogden RDA Board was forced into the position of having to ask all the necessary qualifying questions at the very last minute, in a public forum, demonstrates a degree of administrative incompetence and hubris that's shocking to the conscience.

It raises serious questions about the judgment of the folks who've been minding the Economic Development shop in Ogden for the past few years. How they could have gotten so deeply into this project without obtaining the the most basic and foundational financial statements and insider information simply boggles the mind.

Thank God the voters of Ogden had the good sense to install a new slate of citizen representatives to look after their interests. The current administration and its crew of "experts" obviously need to be closely watched.

And a hint to the Mayor and his well-paid crew: It might be a good idea to intimately involve the new council and RDA Board in the process from now on, since they're the folks who control the votes. Learn to co-operate and and share information with the TRUE decision makers in the future, and nobody will wind up with egg on their face. The gang of six mentality is a thing of the past. Sooner or later you'll have to learn to work with the OTHER branch of city government... the legislative one that resides on the city hall third floor.

Just a helpul hint from yer old pal Rudi...

Update 1/17/06 12:30 p.m. MT: The plot thickens, it seems. The Local Albuquerque, New Mexico press has now picked up on the Ernest Hospitals "jilted suitor" story. Where will it ever end?

Further comments, anyone?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

A Mortal Enemy to Arbitrary Government

Click image to enlarge

By Steve Huntsman

Never before in the history of man have a people been so free, so prosperous and, yes, even so blessed by the hand of providence as we are in America today. We have the ability to freely communicate over the internet, via cell phone or computer with almost anyone. We have transportation choices beyond imagination from ultra light bicycles to space shuttles. We can own our homes and businesses and even vote in elections.

I feel grateful to be part of such a free and blessed people. I comprehend it is because we have a national Constitution in America, inspired in its conception by a free people under God which has promoted these blessings.

After the signing of the Constitution, as the delegates were filing from Independence Hall in 1787, an anxious woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well Doctor, what have we got ¾ a republic or a monarchy?”

“A republic,” said Franklin, “if you can keep it.”

If you can keep it! What wise words from the sage of Philadelphia. This, then, I comprehend is our mission, to keep the republic or to keep the (democratic) republic free from corrupt laws and protecting the house of order established by our wise founders.

We need to begin a conscious habit of jealously guarding our rights and liberties if we are to preserve these freedoms.

The method used in America today to defend our freedom is to establish laws with a sound moral basis, which allow for the common good of the people to be maintained. I ascertain that common good in a society can be accomplished in two ways.

One method is to pass laws which protect individual rights and allows for free enterprise.

A second method is to pass laws which impose or force the common good. This means giving a leader broad discretion on a case-by-case basis to decide what is best for the common good of someone beside himself. I hope the reader will decide to choose the first reactive method rather than the second proactive method as these two are indeed opposites.

Let us scrutinize an example of each.

Many years ago our judicious legislators empowered state and local municipalities with the ability to pass regulation to prohibit individuals from stealing life and property from one another. Now both killing and thieving in Utah are considered to be punishable crimes. Law enforcers, as well as private citizens, are authorized to not only stop a crime but also to use lethal force in some cases to prevent the theft of another’s life or property. Thus the robbery laws follow the outline of being a sound constitutional code based upon a moral principle. These laws reactively promote our welfare by empowering the judicial system (and the people) to the maintaining of the common good. Law breakers are punished reactively for thievery. Thus the popular phrase: Do the crime, Do the time, but not vise versa.

Let us now look at a proactive law.

Remember a proactive law can give discretion to one to promote the common good for another where no crime has been committed. That might be the case with a new law revised in the 2005 legislative session (SB60, U.C.A. 10-9a-102). A close reading of this law allows city planners to dictate at will the, “height and location of vegetation, trees and landscaping … to protect the tax base and (to) secure the economy … and (to) provide for the health, safety, and welfare … of the municipality.”

Trying to plant a tree in your yard without a permit could be considered a class B misdemeanor if it is not the right size and exactly in the spot where the planner told you to plant it. Or vise versa, that is you could be fined for not planting a certain tree which you were told to plant. This is a proactive law, which imposes the promotion of good before any crime is committed.

What is wrong with this? Nothing, except this is what our founding fathers fought a revolutionary war over. That being arbitrary government.

When any official using the basis of law is allowed such broad discretion by applying their own personal judgments on a case-by-case basis with such non-formal guidelines as listed above, then that law is arbitrary and capricious and is of no moral value, and as such, unworthy of a society’s respect. Law cannot randomly harm one to promote the good of another.

Are we not all equals? Have we not all been endowed by our Creator with the ability to think, to plan ahead and to act on our own? Or have our legislators been blessed from above with the ability to decide what location, diameter and height of any tree, shrub or flower arrangement is best in our yard before we plant it?

Shall we not all be mortal enemies of arbitrary government as were our fathers and oppose any seeds of tyranny? Or have we let professional planning lobbyists and activists corrupt our legislator’s tables to now proactively force one’s idea of good upon another before any crime is committed? We do this when we promote a city planner above the property ownership of another man with a non-legitimate purpose.

Let us begin today to follow the prudent maxim, “Would you live with ease, do what you ought and not what you please.” While we still can lawfully, let us stand tall and do what we ought and oppose this baseless law. As Orwell’s “Animal Farm” fable now has freshing meaning — “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Via: Weber Sentinel News, by express invitation and permission of the author and publisher, for which courtesy we thank them.

Illustration by Stephanie Cole

Well...? Have any of our gentle readers ever tried to run a project by Ogden City's Stalinesque Aparatchik Central Planning apparatus without being "dinged" for badly-drawn trees on a site map?

Tell us your planning approval horror stories, gentle readers, please... oh pretty please.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Thursday Evening Open Thread

I'm busy with a little RL business and a little bit of research. News is slow, lately; so I'll open up another Open Thread.

Suggested topics:

These are just suggested topics.

Let your consciences be your guide... but please don't let the cat get your gentle Weber County Forum Reader tongues!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Non Gang-of-Six Council Sworn In

By Gentle Reader Dian, whose report I've unabashedly gleaned and edited from today's comments threads:

Attended the swearing-in ceremony today for our new [Ogden, Utah] Council members. They have all now sworn to uphold their positions with fidelity.

First order of business after the swearing in was to appoint a new council chair and vice chair. They are...

Jesse Garcia: Chair

Amy Wicks: Vice- Chair

Thought you'd like to know that.

The room was really quite full--some people were standing in the back, including Representative Neil Hansen. The speeches were courteous with those stepping down thanking the people for giving them the opportunity to serve, and those being sworn in thanking their predecessors for serving. The firefighters were highly visible--in fact, Jorgensen, in his speech, produced a piece of firefighting equipment that went with a hose, I think, and stated that it was the council's responsibility to regulate the flow of the water.

Wondered if this were in response to Glasmann's comment on this board that council work was sort of like trying to take a drink out of a fire hose:

It's been said that our job is like drinking from a fire hose, and from what I've seen, they're right. But I'm ready, so pass me the nozzle on 3 Jan., 06.

Well, Bill, the nozzle has been passed.

Doug Stevens talked about the need for stewardship of the city and its future, and that he wished to work toward making Ogden a great place to live. He gave a call to all of us to think of how we can support Ogden, not simply what we can get out of it.

Bill Glasmann especially thanked the current and outgoing council members, some of whom he had gotten to know well. Said there was a lot to do, and that having a lot to do was a sign that the city was in a phase of vitality, soon to be a "shining city on the hill."

Dorrene Jeske concentrated on the need to make Ogden City Government accessible to the citizens, and, as she put it, "let some light in." And to this end, she produced flashlights for all the council members, to remind them that the local government's dealings should be out in the light.

The event was not without its emotional moments--Jorgensen became a bit choked up, as did Glasmann, which I draw attention to because of Rudi's comment about Women On The Council. Have you noticed that women in these positions really try Not to choke up, for fear of being thought too emotional? Interesting that the men are freely expressing emotion now without fear of gender prejudice rearing its head. A new day has indeed dawned.

Food Note: There was a reception afterwards with hot meatballs, sandwiches, stuffed croissants, fruit and cheese, a vegetable plate, and punch.

New Council Fashion Note: Stevens and Glasmann wore impeccably tailored charcoal gray suits. Dorrene Jeske was stunning in a cream colored suit with a heavy gold necklace.

All in all, an auspicious occasion. Gorgeous day, too.


Editor's Note: I'd like to thank Dian for providing a full and accurate description of today's momentous Ogden city council event. I couldn't have done any better in my own description; and I'll only augent this with one comment. The guy sitting next to me in the audience commented to me: "Mayor Godfrey has the look on his face like he's attenting his own funeral."

Monday, January 02, 2006

Time is ALWAYS "of the Essence"

Is it just me, or does anybody else have the nagging sensation that the Ogden city administration does almost everything at the very last minute? We read in this morning's paper that the Ogden RDA board is scheduled on Tuesday evening to consider approval of an administration-drafted "development agreement" with New Mexico-based Ernest Health, Inc., for construction of a 40-bed long-term acute care facility, within the Ogden River Project.

Although the River Project has been on the drawing board for some four years, administration officials are only now getting around to submitting this proposed contract before the RDA Board for approval, a mere thirty days before some of the purchase options begin expiring. "Time is of the essence," says Chief Administrative Officer John Patterson.

Time is of the essence, indeed, chimes in Rudi. The timeline is terribly short. It has a very particular odoriferous essence about it, methinks.

Assuming at least a 15-day public notice requirement prior to RDA Board approval of terms for the required $3.6 million dollar loan, this would leave the RDA Board only about two weeks to start and complete their "due diligence," and digest and analyze the proposed contract document, even if they were to "table" the matter for consideration in a future RDA session.

It seems a "bit much," to expect the new RDA board to make a rushed decision on such a proposal, a mere five hours after they're sworn in. The Ernest contract may well be the best thing for Ogden since the coming of the railroad, but it seems to me that the RDA board needs a little more time for adequate study and deliberation.

I'd suggest that the matter be "put over" for at least another week; and I'll add that it would be nice if the RDA Board could "run the agreement by" an independent attorney for a private opinion. The City Attorney's office has a conflict of interest here, as far as I'm concerned. City Attorney Norm Ashton and his crew simply can't adequately serve two masters -- the RDA and the administration.

I'd also urge the new RDA Board to order up a complete RDA accounting at the earliest possible moment, just to determine exactly where the RDA stands financially. This is uniform practice any time new management takes the helm in private business; and there's no reason that the new RDA Board shouldn't follow the lead of private industry, as long as they're 'dabbling" in that area.

Maybe it would be better, for the administration to start negotiating option extensions, in fact.

I'll also add, parenthetically, that this rush scenario presents yet more evidence that public bodies like RDAs DO NOT BELONG in the property development arena. Commercial realities are such, in projects like these, that they do not promote the ideals of good government. Perhaps the Utah legislature will do something about this in the upcoming 2006 legislative session.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

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