Thursday, March 30, 2006

Chris Peterson Spills the Beans

I was blue, just as blue as I could be
Ev’ry day was a cloudy day for me
Then good luck came a-knocking at my door
Skies were gray but they’re not gray anymore

Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see

Singing a song
Nothing but bluebirds
All day long

Irving Berlin
"Blue Skies"

Yesterday's rumor indeed proved correct, it seems. The Lift Ogden group apparently opened its door to intrepid reporter Scott Schwebke last night, who sat in on the group's previously announced "closed to the public" Chris Peterson east bench development presentation.

Thanks to reporter Schwebke's austere "just the facts, ma'am" reporting style, we are spared (perhaps mercifully) extraneous details of a gathering that most surely had the atmosphere of an old-time southern-style revival meeting.

For those who didn't catch Mr. Schwebke's report in this morning's Standard-Examiner edition, you can read up on the nuts and bolts of Mr. Peterson's "plan" right here.

In keeping with the reserved tone of reporter Schwebke's article, we will refrain, for the moment, from offering our own editorial comments on this. We wouldn't want to taint the discussion with our own analysis at this early juncture now, would we?

That however doesn't mean that our gentle readers must follow suit. Indeed, by linking this article, we invite our readers to offer their always-intelligent and gentle comments, in the free-wheeling manner that has become the hallmark of our perceptive and creative readership.

You are invited to "have at it," folks. Is it finally time to "cash in" our crown jewel east bench property, and thus convert our sleepy little town into a giant urban amusement park? Is Matt Godfrey right when he says Chris's plan is the biggest thing since the coming of the railroad? Will the citizens of Ogden gratefully embrace the "aesthetically interesting" cable contraption that will bisect our town? Will the paranoiac and xenophobic fat-cats who will reside in our new gated "fortress on the hill" ultimately blend into our community and become good citizens of Ogden? Will the townsfolk throw rose petals at Chris Peterson's feet, as they bask in their new economic prosperity?

So many questions -- so few answers.

Perhaps our gentle readers can clear up some of these questions. Lets hear it from the nay-sayers AND yea-sayers. Now that Chris Peterson has finally spilled the beans, does his ambitious plan actually have merit?

Who will be the first to comment?

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Update 3/31/06 8:35 a.m. MT: One of the Lift Ogden folks seems to have become a big fan of Weber County Forum. He likes our articles and comments so much he's spamming all his pals with quotes and excerpts. Weber County Forum offers Bob Geiger a tip of the hat for helping promote our little blog throughout the Ogden community! Every referral helps spread the word. Although I have my doubts whether Bob fully appreciates the nuance, humor and satire that saturates this place, I'm sure there are many on his email lists who will "get it." You can read two of his promotional emails here and here.

Thanks a bunch, Bob!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

“We Are Happy There” - City Council Notes, 29th March, ‘06

For those who follow ongoing events in the Ogden City Council, we have Dian Woodhouse's latest report of last night's council meeting:

We have offered her a long-term contract to provide weekly reports from here on out as a percentage share of the gross revenue from our ubiquitous "google ads." According to our calculations, that would work out to a fat 2 cents per week, more or less, which would take a big bite out of the WCF budget. Fortunately for all of us though, she's VERY community-minded, and has donated this latest fine report complimentarily, and will thus not bust this week's blog finances with this excellent example of great journalistic work-product:

“We Are Happy There.”

Click our Weber County Forum google ads now and often. We'd like to "sweeten the pot," and put this fine and dedicated local professional writer into a binding contract soon, at something like three cents/week, before "The Good in Ogden" grabs her up and puts her under contract, heheheh.

In the her fine & detailed article.


Weber State Should Not Sell its Birthright for "Lukewarm Mush"

By L. Mikel Vause -- Std Ex Guest commentary.

I read with interest Ed Allen’s March 22 letter to the editor headlined “Peterson’s plans include exciting venues.” I found his opening line — “I can hardly wait to hear more about the proposals by Chris Peterson and Ogden City” — a bit disingenuous, as Dr. Allen, a leader in the Lift Ogden organization as well as Mayor Godfrey’s father-in-law, likely knows more than anyone in the community, besides Chris and Matt, about the “plans” and has been part of sharing those plans with a few of Ogden’s select individuals.

Yet for one knowing so much, I find it interesting, not to mention a bit disconcerting, when he levels criticism at the layout of Mt. Ogden Golf Course when it appears he’s done so little research as to understand its purpose.

A number of years ago, Weber State University removed two small dirt parking lots in the area of campus that is now the Lindquist Plaza and the duck pond.

At the time, there was much concern and not a little criticism for such a move as, even then, parking was a premium. But what building the plaza and duck pond did for the university was allow it to expand east with the additional parking for the stadium, gym area and the health-sciences areas. Because WSU is built in the foothills of Ogden’s east bench, there is an inherent problem with storm water runoff, and every square yard of cement or asphalt exacerbates the problem and threatens homes and businesses that lie on the western and down-slope side of the campus.

The duck pond, while taking up some parking spaces, serves as a much-needed catch basin for the yearly run off.

Likewise the design of Mt. Ogden Golf Course, with its narrow, doglegged fairways, allowed designers to maintain much of the indigenous flora to protect the properties west of the course and park from runoff.

Over the years the design has had to be modified. A few years ago we experienced a very intense thunderstorm that put down an extraordinary amount of water and hail, which caused some flooding due to the inadequacy of the storm sewers. Several homes on the west side of Taylor Avenue, adjacent to the golf course and park, were damaged.

This led to the installation of a storm drain near the intersection of 32nd Street and Taylor Avenue, as well as a berm along the west edge of the park to direct runoff into the drain. Every square inch of development along Ogden’s east bench needs to be very carefully considered for several reasons:

  • Once our foothills and open space are developed, they are gone forever and will likely benefit only the developer and those few wellenough-off to afford new homes in pricey subdivisions.

  • And unless millions of dollars are spent to upgrade the city’s failing infrastructure, people living downhill will have their property threatened.
Like Dr. Allen, I, too, “hope Weber State University will look seriously at the proposals,” and do the responsible thing and not sell its birthright for some lukewarm mush.

Vause is a professor in the English Department at Weber State University, and a member of Smart Growth Ogden (

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cult Gathering and Another Tidbit -- Updated

It is reported in this morning's Std-Ex that the local "Ogden Gondola Cult" will be meeting behind closed doors tomorrow evening, for a revelation by cult-master Chris Peterson, presumably on the specifics of his inspired Golf Course, Gated Community and Gondola Proposal. Surprise of surprises -- the general public is not invited. Many arcane and secret rites are practiced at the Ogden Gondola Cult secret gatherings, which must not be divulged to the uninitiated, we suppose.

The Lift Ogden group's year-long "stealth marketing campaign" has been a true masterpiece of guerilla marketing psychology. The gondola "buzz" truly resounds throughout Ogden... or so we are told by those "in the know."

Can the scheme plan's actual public unveiling be forthcoming soon? We of the unwashed Ogden lumpenproletariat can only hope for an imminent breakthrough within our lifetimes. We're sitting on the edges of our seats for sure, waiting with abated breath. Perhaps there will even be a ticker-tape parade in downtown Ogden -- April 1 would be a fitting date -- as a possible prelude for the public announcement.

And another Std-Ex story this morning confirms what Weber County Forum regulars have known for almost a week. The City of Ogden is indeed the payee/beneficiary on a $2.5 million insurance policy, resulting from the Shupe-Williams fire. A tip of the hat to our gentle and intrepid readers, for breaking this story on our comments pages first.

An additional hat-tip to the Mayor's administration too, for having had the prescience to have insured the old building for five times what she was actually worth.

Who would have the audacity to argue now that the Ogden City administration is in any way lacking in the "vision" department?

The floor is now open, gentle readers.

What are your thoughts of today?

Update 3/29/06 12:32 p.m. MT: Rumor of the Day -- A group of people are going to the Lift Ogden Meeting this evening to inquire what it takes to attend it. As Dave Hardman, the President of the Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce, seems to be sponsoring it, some feel that it should be public. It also seems that some members of the Chamber were not even invited, and there is a question about the propriety of this.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A Community Excluded

By The Lovely Jennifer

Having just read M. Godfrey's "guest editorial" in yesterday's paper, I must express my dismay. Back in November, the very same Mr. Godfrey expressed rather vehemently his feelings on how "un-scientific" the Weber State University research project regarding Mr. Peterson's development proposal was. Is he now thinking that his method is more scientific?

If Mr. Peterson wants input from the community, and Mr. Godfrey wants to keep it scientific, then why on earth did they NOT randomly (this, scientifically) select members of the community for input? They instead opted for the very un-scientific "investigator-bias" method of choosing certain (known only to Mr. P and Mr. G) members of the community, who for sure do NOT represent a scientific – and representative – sampling of all the members of the community Mr. Godfrey represents - i.e. the ones who voted for him.

I fear most of the "Community" Godfrey refers to in his editorial have been dis-included: The Flores family, the Tollini Family, the McLaughlin family and the Jones family from the neighborhoods around Ogden High and Central; the Neil family, the Smith family, the Taylor family from the north end of the Ogden community; the Wells and the Watts families who live near the canyon. They are every bit a part of Mr. Godfrey's community as are the Lindquist family and the Marquardt family and the Hall family.

All these families and more might appreciate being chosen to contribute input to Mr. Peterson. Invitations to some sort of town meeting might have been appropriate.

Then the process could be continued, once the developer and the community feel comfortable with the plans and the wants and the needs of all concerned.

Comments, anyone?

Friday, March 24, 2006

One Danged Fine Editorial

Weber County Forum offers a hearty tip of the hat to the Standard-Examiner, for a danged fine editorial appearing in this morning's edition. Don Porter hammers some of the points our readers have argued here on this blog, and raises some interesting new issues as well. It's a relatively short article, so we'll incorporate it in full, for the benefit of those who don't have a hard-copy subscription:

The Mayor's Secret Plan

Midway through his second term as Ogden's mayor, Matthew Godfrey still has a lot to learn about consensus building.

No rational observer, we believe, could honestly accuse him of not wanting good things for his city. But he's so clumsy in the way he goes about making things happen that he invariably undercuts whatever public support he might otherwise have achieved.

His latest belly-flop-in-the-making is a hush-hush deal with Malan's basin owner Chris Peterson. Peterson has for the better part of a year teased about releasing plans for a west-facing four-season resort above Weber State University and the Mt. Ogden Golf Course, but whatever details there are have never been made public.

Fine. As others have noted, nobody elected Peterson to public office, and he can remain as cryptic and mysterious as he likes for as long as he wants to.

Godfrey, however, is an elected public official, beholden to the public. He's been quite open about his yearning for an intra-city gondola running between the Intermodal Transportation Hub and Weber State University. But lately he's retreated back into the mists, holding private meetings with other public officials, private business leaders and people he imagines to be opinion leaders inthe community.

It's been said that he's offering details of a plan that may or may not include the sale of the golf course to Peterson to help finance the gondola, and trading or buying land with Weber State University to facilitate Peterson's plans for luxury homes in the area.

Most distressing, though, was Godfrey's attempt to meet out of public view to brief members of the City Council on the whole gondola-golf course-Weber State scenario. He aparently wasn't paying attention to the Ogden School Board's carefully arranged closed meetings to discuss the public's business concerning a bond election.

Also troubling was Godfrey's recent trip to Italy and Austria with Peterson, where he accepted lodging and meals from gondola manufacturers. He didn't tell members of the City COuncil -- or at least not all of them -- beforehand.

We're on record supporting the notion of a privately financed gondola -- emphasis on the "privately financed" part. Others are, too, but the mayor's behavior of late is a legitimate cause for concern.

Godfrey hasn't asked for our opinion, but we'll give it to him anyway -- in public, where he should be dealing.

  • Before he left, he should have notified members of the City Council about his overseas trip. He should have solicited their support, and asked if they had questions or information he could retrieve from the gondola manufacturers. Then they might have supported a fact-finding trip, and encouraged him to use city funds to pay for his trip. Now, having accepted food and lodging from the gondola manufacturers, if one of them ever gets the contract to build Ogden's equipment, conflict-of-interest concerns could surface.
  • secrecy equals suspicion. Only talking to monied movers and shakers, and other Ogden elites, gives weight to oft-stated public fears that his plan is designed primarily to enrich those already blessed with wealth.
  • When discussing the sale of public land -- especially the vast acreage of a city golf course on the east bench -- it would seem prudent to put that land on the public auction block, where it goes to the highest bidder. (Ask the Weber County Commission about that one.)
  • There is also the question of selling off a public recreation asset like Mt. Ogden Golf Course. What about the trails and public access around the course? Will access be preserved?
The mayor may have answers to thse questions. But since he's keeping them so close to his vest, and not sharing them with the City Council in a public meeting, Ogdenites are left to speculate. And that, mayor Godfrey, is not the way to build support for your bold vision of Ogden's future.
    We gotta hand it to our old pal Don Porter on this one. We score this editorial a direct hit -- right between the eyes. Grondahl scores a clear bulls-eye too, wethinks. Porter and Grondahl -- quite the tag team, we say!

    And what say our gentle readers about all this?

    Thursday, March 23, 2006

    Dirty Tricks in Ogden Politics

    You can possibly file this story in your "truth is stranger than fiction" file, gentle readers. Judging from a shocking comedic email string that's been sent to us by several gentle readers (and which seems to be circulating widely by email within the Ogden community,) it appears that our loveable old friend, "Socrates" (aka Steve Larsen) may now be working in some capacity for Ron Atencio, a declared Democrat candidate/challenger for Neil Hansen's District 9 Utah House of Representatives seat.

    If these email missives are genuine, it could constitute evidence to support the deduction that Mr. Larson, one of the several "Gang of Six" losers in our recent municipal city council election campaign, may be working full-steam to beat Rep. Hansen at convention, in order to face a very fine (but purportedly politically-doomed) Republican Candidate, Ogden city firefighter Robert Miles.

    Whether Mr. Larsen is acting as Mr. Atencio's official campaign manager, or in any capacity at all, we do not know. Our investigation is continuing. Whatever his capacity though, if any, it's apparent that Mr. Larsen (or perhaps an imposter) has "pulled out all the stops," and launched a campaign on a foundation of political "dirty tricks" worthy of Donald Segretti.

    Rather than keep our readers in further suspense, we are linking a copy of the full email string here. We are inclined to believe, based on interviews we have completed to date, that it is authentic. We have also compared the email address of the original sender with Steve Larsen's address as it appears in our own email address book. They are identical. Still, the possibility of forgery cannot be ruled out. The original email could be entirely bogus.

    We are awaiting information from the Weber County Clerk's office, to determine whether any of the named recipients actually followed through with the original sender's solicitation.

    In the meantime, we've decided to start a new thread on this topic, and throw the raw data out for public discussion, without further editorial comment.

    So what do our gentle readers say about this?

    And what say you, Steve Larsen?

    The topic is wide open.

    Comments, anyone?

    Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    Get Thee to the Caucuses

    The Standard-Examiner has run two pieces within the past two days urging the townsfolk to attend their neighborhood caucus meetings. The first was a letter to the editor yesterday, (pan right and scroll down below the editorial cartoon,) touting Davis county Republican meetings. This morning there was this strong lead editorial, extolling the value of grass-roots citizen participation, as a remedy for extremist politics.

    In essence, both articles got it mainly right. The neighborhood caucuses are a very important part of the political process in the state of Utah. Because of the normally low attendance at these meetings, every attendee has political clout magnified well beyond "one man, one vote." As the Standard-Examiner points out, the caucus meetings are the initial step in the candidate culling process -- the initial proceedings in which the final candidates are separated from the also-rans.

    If you haven't attended your party's neighborhood caucus meetings in the past, we urge you give it a try tonight. It's a unique opportunity to gather with your friends and neighbors to discuss and debate the important political issues of the day at the grass-roots level. If you've been alienated from the political process; the caucuses present an opportunity for you to genuinely re-engage.

    For the convenience of our gentle Weber County Forum readers of all political stripes, you can find your local Democratic Party caucus locations at this link, and your local Republican caucus sites here. Both links are provided courtesy of the respective Weber County political parties, each of whose website is also linked in the Weber County Forum sidebar.

    If you don't know the designation of your respective Weber County voting precinct, you can find it here, simply by clicking the link and entering your home address.

    As an added convenience, we are also providing a link to the Weber County Clerk's website, for a complete list of all the candidates who are running for Weber County Offices, as well as other important 2006 election information.

    Get the to the caucuses we say, gentle readers. Let your voices be heard.

    Comments, anyone?

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    Privatizing Marshall White

    As is almost always the case, our gentle readers were ahead of the curve again on the latest Marshall White Center story, which was reported in this morning's Standard-Examiner. We were "tipped off" by email about this late last week; and there were comments on other threads earlier this week.

    In a nutshell, The Ogden City Administration is reportedly preparing to entertain an offer from the Salvation Army, to receive "in swap" a parcel of downtown property at 26th and Grant, in exchange for Ogden City's Marshall White Center property.

    Inasmuch as the Marshall White Center topic seems to be of interest to Weber County Forum readers, even at this early stage of the proceedings, we thought it appropriate to now set up a separate discussion thread.

    What say our gentle readers? Is it a good idea to consider "swapping" Marshall White for a plot of land closer to Ogden's central business district? Would the Salvation Army, a well-respected (and well-heeled) charitable organization, be a good and appropriate steward for this important Ogden city cultural institution? Is "privatization" a good idea here, given the heavy financial burden the city bears in operating this "landmark" cultural amenity? Do any of our gentle readers have additional information on this transaction that goes beyond the paltry fact-set that has become public information to date?

    Have at it, gentle readers.

    Let's hear your gentle and thoughtful comments on this subject.

    Saturday, March 18, 2006

    Evil Godfreyites Attempt to Contaminate State Legislature With Multiple Grand Schemers

    This is interesting. The Ogden city neoCON administration seems to have the stalwart Utah Republican Senator David Thomas surrounded by neoCON challengers for his senate seat in the upcoming elections.

    We have the universally-despised Stuart Reid challenging him from the left, and the Godfreyite Ogden Chief Cop John Greiner coming in from neoCON political nowhere.

    Senator Thomas's sin? He voted against S.B. 229, and stood up for rank and file firefighters and police. He's a thorn in the side of the Godfreyites, which is more a virtue than a sin, wethinks.

    Beware of the "RINO" politicians who have deceitfully traded in their "donkey" lapel pins for Elephant ones.

    Attend your caucus meetings on March 21, 2006, all good Republicans.

    We can most efficiently oust the these Big Government poseurs at the grass roots level.

    Good Republicans should attend their caucus meetings next Tuesday night, and keep the Godfreyites from gaining any foothold in the Utah Legislature.

    The little guy will be voted out in 2007. Until then, it's time we all acted to prevent our errant Mayor from inflicting any further political damage to the Utah body politic.

    Friday, March 17, 2006

    Friday Afternoon Open Thread

    As we move into the weekend this St. Padraic's Day, we thought it would be appropriate to set up a Friday open thread, since most of us will be Down at the Pub, this St. Paddy's after Church, of course. Before we open the floor for discussion however, there are a couple of announcements we'd like to make:

    Ogden Council Rules of Procedure. Many of our gentle readers have been clamoring for an online version of the written rules and procedures that govern city council and RDA Board meetings. Until now, such a resource was unavailable. This pesky little problem has now been resolved. Earlier this week a friend of Weber County Forum scanned and digitized a hard-copy version which we had obtained from the Ogden City Council office. The electronic version is now available in our Weber County Forum archives. It's a pared-down version of Robert's Rules -- sort of a Robert's Rules Lite. You can view the document via this link for the time being. When time permits, we'll add a permanent link to our sidebar.

    The Voices reprise. And we are pleased to announce that gentle reader Dian Woodhouse's wonderful one-act theatrical reading, The Voices, has been brought back to the Ogden front-stage by popular demand, and has been re-scheduled for a couple of return engagements. You can read the press release here . If you missed the performance the first time around, you have the opportunity to catch its reprise.

    With that, the floor is now open to you all.

    Erin go bragh!

    'sup, gentle readers?

    Thursday, March 16, 2006

    Family Vacation -- Yeah, That's the Ticket!

    Mayor Matthew Godfrey’s vision for an Ogden gondola system received a lift during a recent trip to Italy and Austria to meet with the world’s leading manufacturers of aerial tramways. "I learned more than I ever expected," said Godfrey, who returned Tuesday from a weeklong visit to Europe. "We took them our plans. They had huge insight."
    Godfrey visits expert tram works
    March 16, 2006

    City Council Chairman Jesse Garcia said he was unaware of the purpose of Godfrey’s trip to Europe. “I was told it was a family vacation,” he said. “What bothers me is that the gondola is not a done deal.”
    Godfrey visits expert tram works
    March 16, 2006

    Hello, my name is Tommy Flanagan, and I'm a member of Pathological Liars Anonymous. In fact.. I'm the president of the organization! I didn't always lie. No, when I was a kid, I told the truth. But then one day, I got caught stealing money out of my mother's purse. I lied. I told her it was homework -that my teacher told me to do it. And she got fired! Yeah, that's what happened! After that, lying was easy for me... Yeah, that's the ticket!
    SNL Transcripts
    Pathological Liars Anonymous
    OK! Maybe that was a "little over the top." Frankly, though, it's hard to tell truth from fiction in Ogden City government these days. The point is simple, however. Mayor Godfret LOVES secrecy and stealth. He's the Ogden City "secret government man," after all.

    He told everyone he was going on a "family vacation." Then he arrives back, triumphantly announcing he was actually cruising Europe with Chris Peterson.


    Ask yourselves why Mayor Godfrey chose to tell a "little white lie" at the outset, about the nature and purpose of his European trip.
    Everyone knows he's a gondola-freak. Who could fault him if he'd just told us up front that he was going to Europe to check out gondolas?
    But, no...

    I don't know about our gentle readers, but I'd feel a hell of a lot better about this if he'd been straight with everybody about this. When somebody lies once, how can they expect anybody to believe a word they say again?

    Seems to me there's something "fishy" here (sniff, sniff).

    Comments, anyone?

    Update 3/17/06 10:59 a.m. MT: The Standard-Examiner has a followup story this morning, in which Mayor Godfrey defends his secret European gondola expedition.

    "It’s never been a practice in this form of government to need permission of the other body to conduct business," Godfrey said.

    Translation: "I'll do anything I damn well want; and I don't have to inform anybody -- especially the Council, nya-nya-nya; and so there." (Sticks out tongue)

    Alas, there's no longer such thing as common courtesy in our Brave New MattGodfreyworld.

    Well? What say our gentle readers about this?

    Monday, March 13, 2006

    Write it Down So You Don't Forget It

    As Per Usual, the neoCON Standard-Examiner editors were all weepy-eyed and bawling around March 6 of this year, bemoaning their constantly-declining and increasingly-illiterate readership, and the prospective Wal-Mart advertising money that was suddenly snatched from their grasp when Senator Curt Bramble ushered in last year's Senate Bill 184. This legislation clipped the wings of the socialist municipal land-grabbers, and brought to a sudden halt the evil practice of taking people's homes and businesses away, and transferring their properties to giant multinational corporations like Wal-Mart.

    The shameless lackeys of the "Suits from Sanduskey" published a petulant editorial on March 6, 2006, which brought tears of joy and redemption to the eyes of all statist central planners and schemers. Big Government Socialist Lackeys all over Weber County were passing around the kleenexes, sniffling, boo-hoo-hooing, and accusing Senator Bramble of rank hypocrisy with this year's SB 245 -- patting the neoCON Std-Ex editors on the back all the while.

    Here's the naive and preposterous Std-Ex piece, just in case you missed it.

    Senator Bramble contributed his common-sense retort to the "local rag" today, and set the record straight. You can read the whole article here.

    And the answer is NO! Senator Curt Bramble IS NOT a hypocrite, as you'll conclude when you read his article. On the contrary, he's a hero to property rights advocates and all true Americans everywhere.

    As usual, the business-inexperienced and ad revenue-grubbing Std-Ex editors over-generalized, missed the point and set up a mendacious strawman.

    Hello Standard-Examiner editors: Taking away people's homes and businesses, and giving them to giant multinational corporations is morally wrong!

    Curt Bramble knows that. Over 95% of the American people know that, according to national polls. The Ogden townsfolk know that too.

    So WTF is wrong with the Standard-Examiner editors, we ask?

    Here it is again: Seizing people's homes and businesses and giving them to Wal-Mart is morally wrong. The Std-Ex editors should write this down so they don't forget it.

    So should the botched "little Napoleon on nine."

    Comments, anyone?

    Sunday, March 12, 2006

    Shupe-Williams Building Destroyed By Suspicious Fire

    By Robert Cato

    On Saturday night March 11, 2006 at approximately 10pm a massive fire of suspicious origin consumed the historic Shupe-Williams Candy Factory Building (SWCFB) located at 26th St. and Wall Avenue. The building was built in 1905. Flames, sometimes shooting 100 feet in the air, could be seen all over the Ogden area.

    According to the Ogden Fire Department, a small fire was discovered in the basement area. Residents of St. Ann’s Shelter had alerted authorities about the fire. First responders gained access to the building and searched the entire structure for any possible trespassers. By the time they completed their search the building was becoming fully engulfed by flames. The under staffed and poorly paid Ogden City Fire Department Professionals attempted to fight the fire following standard large structures fire policies. However, due to the amazingly rapid spread of the fire, it quickly became apparent that no amount of firefighters and equipment could halt the fire. Jessie Garcia, as Acting Mayor, (Godfrey is conveniently in London, England) instructed OCFD Command to do the only thing they could do, just let it burn itself out.

    The Ogden City Fire Department, who Mayor Godfrey refuses to fully staff, then began to try and prevent other buildings in the area from spontaneous combustion. Un-manned fire hoses were set in strategic locations to spray water on the Laundry Building at Union Station and on business structures on the east side of wall avenue at 26th Street. Some rolling stock belonging to the Union Station Foundation stored at the back of the SWCFB was destroyed.

    The fire is of suspicious origin because the building was not currently in use. Had no electrical wiring, as someone stole it all in December, and the fire spread so quickly. This was a commercial structure built at a time when fire suppression systems were rare. For a fire to have engulfed the entire building that quickly, fire enhancement materials were most likely used. I can guarantee you that His Majesty will have his road dogs spin this as a “I told you the building wasn’t safe” presentation.

    Hundreds of onlookers were drawn to the fire which was visible from Layton to North Ogden. Despite the best efforts of the OCPD gridlock ensued on the surrounding streets. Reserve Officers were called out to assist in crowd control. Spectators were kept a full block away to prevent possible injuries by flying debris. As various parts of the structure collapsed great plumes of sparks and ash soared into the air. Some small brush fires in the Union Pacific Rail Yards were quickly extinguished. By 11:30 pm exterior walls began to fall into the streets and city crews with wrecking equipment began to prepare to pull the rest of the structure down as soon as it cooled enough for them to do so.

    A proposal by a group of volunteers to create a museum for the Ogden - Weber County area has been trying for four months to convince the Lord High Mayor and the new city council to allow them to accept responsibility for the SWCFB. While the City Council/RDA Board members have expressed their support for that proposal, our Little King has refused to seriously consider the idea. Our short sighted leader has wanted the building torn down so he could give the land away to one of his co-whore-ts for next to nothing. He had an offer and really wanted to let a movie company burn the building to the ground in exchange for $300K. While the cameras were not visible don’t be surprised to see this fire at a move theater not near you (Larry Miller still has not signed on to the “Junk-son” deal yet).

    The SWCFB which has been vacant now for a number of years. The location of the building, next to Union Station and in the immediate area of Historic 25th Street, would have been a perfect location for a museum. The SWCFB was the subject of many disputed facts about current structural problems. The Emperor of Ogden and Protector of vacant lots claimed building was not worth saving and wanted 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, stated that the building was structurally sound, could be restored and was of significant enough historical importance that it should have been saved. Of course Godfery’s Goons insisted it was about to collapse and wasn’t worth saving.

    The SWCFB was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, although not on the "local historic register."


    Ed. Note: Councilman Bill Glasmann has graciously transmitted to us a series of photos documenting the intensity of last night's fire. They are available for viewing here.

    Our regular readers will recall that Mr. Cato also authored an earlier article here, on the subject of the now moot Shupe-Williams museum conversion proposal.

    Update 3/13/06 9:35 a.m MT: The Standard-Examiner has a followup piece this morning, highlighting the "laments" of the museum proponents, Ogden-Weber Museum Inc.

    And this Std-Ex companion story reports on the fire's aftermath, and fills in telling details of the events just prior to the conflagration:

    Ogden police had responded to a call of suspicious activity at the building about 40 minutes before the fire, Owens said.

    Tarran said Ogden police met an Ogden City property maintenance manager at the building because an alarm had sounded in the building.

    He said officers and the city employee walked around the building and checked that all entrances were secure.

    If all the locks were secure and there were no signs of forced entry 40 minutes before the second alarm, this would seemingly reduce the likelihood that the fire was a result of a transient break-in.

    The plot sickens.

    Comments, gentle readers?

    Saturday, March 11, 2006

    Residents Have Their Own Vision for Ogden

    Great letter in the Standard-Examiner letters section today:

    As usual, it's not downloadable from the Std-Ex website, so we're entering it manually, in full:

    Residents have their own vision for Ogden

    I'm tired of hearing of Curt Geiger's vision for Ogden, which is to run a tram down Harrison Boulevard (Feb 27 news story, "Snow business: Ogden's "ski hub" plan picks up speed") What's worse is the characterization that his is the only vision, and that people who don't share it are defective. Worse still is that its the most stupid idea to ever come out of city government, and that's saying something.

    Perhaps Curt has only stated his opininion. Perhaps Curt appreciates that others have a different vision for Ogden, and that we live here, too. In the last election, we shared our collective vision with those politicians we dumped.

    Like him, I and others choose where we live, and we chose Ogden. We like it here. And for most of us, happiness does not depend on the latest socialist scheme being cooked up at City Hall by the self-important idlers who continually swarm there. Any good idea is not good because some political jade thought it up.

    But giving Curt the benefit of the doubt here, let me remind him of something. While we appreciate his business being here, our city was a nice place already. If he would now tend to his business and shut up, the city could even be better.

    "Shut up and take better care of your own business."

    How's that for an exciting vision for Ogden?

    -David Smith

    We belive David makes a very good point.

    As an aside, here's an interesting web aberration BTW. They're trying to sell friggin t-shits, jerseys and coffee mugs:

    And how figgin stupid is this?

    WE say again: They're trying to cash in by selling t-shirts and coffe mugs. Sheesh!

    Are these people dumber than bags full of hammers?

    Nevermind. The question was merely rhetorical.

    Comments, anyone?

    Let's discuss this NOW!

    Friday, March 10, 2006

    Gates, Golf, Gondolas & Greed

    Well, the rumor's out in the open now, thanks to reporters at the Salt Lake Tribune and Standard-Examiner. A plan is indeed afoot to build a gated luxury residential "community," champion golf course, and gondola terminal, at the present site of the Mt. Ogden golf course. We are pressed for time this morning, so we won't indulge in our usual narcissistic micro-analysis. You can read the Kristen Moulton story here. We'll post the Scott Schwebke story, if the Standard-Examiner EVER gets its website's act together. For now, you'll have to refer to your-hard-copy edition, if you're interested in ace reporter Schwebke's latest magnum opus.

    We'll open up the floor for discussion of these stories. Alternatively, feel free to treat this space as an open thread.

    Update 3/11/06 9:55 a.m. MT: We at Weber County Forum are proud to offer yesterday's News Today! The Standard-Ex never got around to making yesterday's Scott Schwebke article on this topic available in downloadable form on its website, so we've finally found the time to key it in, the old-fashioned way. You can feast your eyes on ace reporter Schwebke's Friday investigative journalism master-work right here.

    As an added bonus, Mr. Schwebke fleshes out the story a little more, with today's headline front page article.

    And a final, final tidbit: Kip Van Dyke, the Mt. Ogden Golf Course "Pro" has suddenly resigned, the Std-Ex reports this morning. And Ogden City isn't planning to hire a replacement. Is this strangely-timed development merely a coincidence, or a subtle indication that certain Ogden City insiders aleady privately consider the Mt. Ogden Golf Course "privatization" to be "a done deal?"

    Comments, anyone?

    Don't let the cat get your tongues.

    Cowboy Ranchers and the Sierra Club Team Up to Protect Individual Private Property Rights.

    In what amounts to the true "man bites dog" anti-cliche of the year, Box Elder County ranchers and the Ogden Sierra Club have teamed up to fight statist government drones who would prosecute and summarily strip ranchers of their fundamental private property rights.

    Welcome to the fight, Ogden Sierra Club. My fellow ranchers and I salute you. It's high time we were all fighting on the same side in the war to defeat the communalist, socialist land-grabbers, together with their vague, subjective and bassackwards notions of what constitutes "the greater good."

    Comments, anyone?

    Thursday, March 09, 2006

    Deja Vu All Over Again

    Std-Ex Cartoon by Calvin Grondahl

    For some odd reason we're experiencing a profound case of deja vu here at Weber County Forum this morning. The grand schemers down at city hall have promised they'll bring jobs to Ogden; and they seem to be delivering on that. Surely employment prospects around Ogden are improving, for members of the legal profession, at least.

    As Scott Schwebke reports this morning, Ogden City is mired in yet another lawsuit. This time the City is a plaintiff. At issue is the alleged failure of the named defendant, a New York demolition company, to have adequately performed the demolition work on the old mall structure, and the failure to have discovered and removed the leaking underground fuel tank which one of our sharp-eyed gentle readers tipped us about last week.

    Where this will all end is anyone's guess; but here's one prediction that we can all take to the bank. Additional demolition work and the mitigation of the toxic spill will result in further delay and increased project costs. To top it all off, everybody will have to wait for the State Department of Environmental Quality to investigate and work out a mitigatory plan. And we already know the State DEQ moves like molasses. The eneluctable delay cost spiral begins (or continues.) This project, conceived and approved on an already strained budget, again devolves into the great unknown.

    So what say our gentle readers about all this? Are these the kinds of things that would have been foreseen and prevented by competent and experienced real estate developers? Are these new problems the natural and probable result of the incompetence of our claque of "visionary amateurs" at city hall? Where is Stuart Reid when we need his reassurance? Isn't he the one who got us into this mess? Is there room for the incessant optimism we hear from the boy geniuses at city hall, or is this latest glitch the first glimmering of the proverbial "straw" that will "break the camel's back?"

    So many questrions; so few answers.

    Let's hear our gentle readers' two-cents on this!

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    3/7/06 Ogden Council Meeting Notes

    At risk of sounding like a broken record, we'll remark once again about how lucky we are, having Dian Woodhouse as a regular contributor.

    Here's her latest most excellent city counsel meeting report, which she's submitted without pecuniary remuneration -- out of the sheer goodness of her heart.

    I've been on the phone with Dian about this article. The only element of last night's event that she mentions having left out, is the fact that Matt Godfrey was NOT present at last night's council meeting.

    Interesting, isn't it? The new Ogden City Council behaves quite functionally, when Matt Godfrey isn't there glaring at everybody.

    And NO! Contrary to recent rumors and manifestos... this is NOT an anti-Godfrey Blog.

    We analyze the little guy's fuckups on an ad hoc basis.

    When he does something right, we'll be the first blog to offer kudos -- if that ever happens.

    Comments, oh ye gentle readers?

    Monday, March 06, 2006

    More Kick-ass Talent in Ogden!

    Click to enlarge

    We received several press releases over the weekend, one of which we're posting here, concerning an important cultural event that's happening in Ogden this coming weekend.

    No. This has nothing to do with Chris Peterson or gondolas. What a relief, eh?

    The "BIG GONDOLA SALES JOB" will be coming up from the "Cool and Sexy" Barney Fife lookalike guy in about two weeks. We'll also get on to discussion of Comrade Dear Leader Godfrey's secret city council meetings VERY SOON.

    And we can hardly wait to tell Our gentle readers about Mayor Peewee's widely rumored plan to sell the Mt. Ogden Golf course to Chris Peterson -- for guess what purpose.

    For now though, let's just talk "Culture."

    • Who: Universe City, Women’s Emphasis Month
    • What: Readers’ Theatre: The Voices, written and directed by Dian Woodhouse
    • When: Saturday, March 11 • 6:00 pm
    • Where: 2556 Washington Boulevard, Ogden

    Press Release:

    Universe City, 2556 Washington Blvd., presents a readers’ theatre performance of "The Voices," written and directed by Dian Woodhouse, at 6:00 pm on Saturday, March 11th. The performance is recommended for all ages. The performance is free, although donations will be gladly accepted to support our non-profit art center. The voices indicated by the title are Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave who made a name for herself as the dressmaker of Mary Todd Lincoln; and Mary Todd Lincoln, former first lady and widow of Abraham Lincoln. The two women speak about their lives as the audience hears and compares the two women.

    Keckley was an accomplished seamstress and actually purchased her freedom with her dressmaking skills. She eventually established herself as a successful businesswoman, author and faculty member of Wilberforce College. “Lizzie” was Mary Todd Lincoln’s best friend and confidante. She seemed to be the only person who understood and tolerated Mary’s unstable temperament and sharp tongue. Keckley wrote a book, “Behind the Scenes,” about the life of Mary Todd Lincoln, and the happenings in the White House during Lincoln’s tenure.

    Many things about Mary Todd Lincoln are well-known today. Born a child of relative privilege, she had her choice of successful men to marry but chose a relatively unknown lawyer. Perhaps she saw in him the way to her dream: to become the first lady of the United States of America. However, gaining her dream did not bring her happiness. The loss of two of her children, the death of relatives in the Civil War and the constant fear that her husband would be assassinated contributed to the failing of her physical and mental health. After the death of her husband, her steady decline was exacerbated by her commitment to an asylum by her own son.

    Dian Woodhouse, the author of this work in progress, said she knew immediately that she wanted to dramatize this story after reading a biography of Keckley. She explains, “The story of these two women’s lives, lived simultaneously with such different backgrounds and outcomes, was compelling to me. The opportunity to ‘workshop’ this script in a readers’ theatre situation was a perfect start. My ultimate goal is to develop this script into a fully-staged play, but seeing these characters live through this performance has been a thrill.”

    An Ogden native, Dian Woodhouse received a BA in English and Philosophy from Westminster College and an MFA in Theatre, Directing and Playwriting emphasis, from the University of Utah. She is a former winner of the Utah State Fine Arts Short Story Contest and has written news articles, poetry, screenplays, stage plays, and radio news scripts. She has appeared in professional and directed semi-professional theatre, working with Salt Lake’s Theatre 138 and Pioneer Theatre Company among others, and served three terms as President of the Utah Branch of Screen Actors Guild. She is the daughter of Irene Woodhouse, the author of Standard-Examiner newspaper columns and a book about Ogden in the early days, “Ogden Anecdotes.”

    Rita Martin is playing the role of Keckley. She has been seen as one of the dynamic emcees for the WSU Gospel Festival for the past three years and has worked in a number of plays presented by her church. This is her first time working in readers’ theatre.

    Caril Jennings is playing the role of Mary Lincoln. She has been a promoter of readers’ theatre at Weber State University for several years, including annual productions in conjunction with the WSU Greek Festival.


    The Salt Lake Tribune featured this event in its Coming Up: Theater article.

    The Deseret News did the same here.

    Strangely, The Standard-Examiner, our supposedly "local" newspaper... is totally silent on the subject of this notable Ogden theatrical event. They're probably too busy promoting the "Suits from Sanduskey" neocon agenda, and pleading -- teary-eyed and on bended knees -- for the return of the eminent domain power to the Ogden neoCONS, we guess.

    Maybe the story will come out in that dorky Std-Ex special on Friday: "The What's Hap'nin' Edition," a day before the event. If there's anything wrong with Ogden -- besides her tyrannnical mayor -- its our Sanduskey-owned Standard-Examiner. Weber County Forum recommends that ALL gentle Weber County Forum readers attend and contribute to this notable event, notwithstanding the inattention of our local newspaper -- so-called.

    We at Weber County Forum plan to attend this performance, support local theatrical culture, and drop some cash into the donation hopper. After that, we can all meet at Brewski's for a few "pops."

    And what about our gentle readers about this?

    Saturday, March 04, 2006

    Spicing Up Ogden City's Soul

    Speaking of Cool and Sexy, howbout checking today's intriguing Salt Lake Trib article? Not to worry. I'll post the link in the next paragraph.

    Rudi spent the early part of the day communing with the gods on the mountain, worshipping the Norse god ULLR mainly, but giving due deference to the ancient Greek god Dionysus (aka Bacchus.) Rudi was skiing the part of the mountain that belongs to Chris Peterson's father-in-law, BTW. But upon Rudi's return to his mundane office @ Weber County Forum Central, Rudi found his email inbox clogged with this article.

    Our gentle readers always do the "heavy lifting" here, Rudi is convinced. Rudi spends the morning and early afternoon "screwing off," narcissistically, and today's topic is yet delivered on a silver platter, by watchful and alert gentle readers. Karmic law is turned inside-out.

    And now... on to today's main topic:

    Ogden's always been charged with having a soul, unlike other Utah whitebread cities.

    I think it is very nice that our Ogden culture is being augmented by the latest flood of immigrants. This has always been how Ogden -- and America -- has developed.

    And it seems we and the "newest arrivals" have some significant capitalist support.

    I hope these companies' plans come to fruition. I kinda like Ogden's soul being spiced up with a little latin flavor.

    And what say our gentle readers about this?

    Friday, March 03, 2006

    More on "Cool & Sexy" -- Completely Updated

    Here's another gem from one of our constant and attentive gentle readers. This cool and very sexy lady sez in an email:

    "Maybe he's sexy and cool in a Barney Fife sort of way."


    "Ever notice the resemblance before?"

    She submits these images.

    Hmmmm... Maybe there's more than a slight resemblance. I dunno. The noses seem different, Rudi thinks. They both seem to prefer "flyaway collars" though.

    Tough call.

    One thing's fer sure. Neither of them is this guy .

    Perhaps our always intelligent and perscipacious readers will chime in on the "coolness" and "sexiness" of all this.

    Update 3/4/06 3:48 p.m MT: For the sake of the lovely and hormone-charged college co-ed Jennifer, and as a testament to my own sheer idleness, I've created a Weber County Forum "Cool and Sexy" gallery here, which now includes a photo of Clint Eastwood. Additional nominations will be accepted by email.

    Update 3/5/06 9:35 p.m. MT: I've been getting emails that the multiple graphics were locking up the computers of some of our gentle readers with dialup connections, so we moved most of them to an archive page.

    We've also removed that noisy and annoying headline banner, which appears to have been the main technical problem. Our gentle readers are politely requested to notify us, if they experience further technical problems.

    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    New Toxic Spill at the Junction?

    Our sources have been repeateadly revealing the story that construction personnel very recently and inadvertantly unearthed and punctured an old undergound fuel tank (reports vary between 1500 and 5,000 gallons,) thereby leaking significant amounts of toxic contaminents into the soil, and that most of this tank's contents drained into the ground at the "Junction" site.

    The consistent report is that the Ogden City Administration is keeping a lid on this news; and that State Environmental Quality Authorities have not been notified about this possible hazard.

    Rudi has spent a fair amount of time in the past few days investigating this situation, to no avail. Usually reliable local sources have seemed frightened and tight-lipped, to say the least.

    If any of our gentle readers have information about this little problem, we would all appreciate hearing about it here.

    Chime in on this, if you like, gentle readers.

    Your names will always remain anonymous.

    Wednesday, March 01, 2006

    Last Night's Ogden City Council Wrap-up Available Here.

    For those Gentle Readers waiting breathlessly for a report on last night's Ogden City Council happenings, gentle reader and frequent contributor Dian has graciously provided a detailed write-up for our entertainment and enlightenment. Yes, thanks to the diligent and tireless efforts of our own Dian, Ogden city political junkies can again get their political fix right here.

    Don't forget to chime in with your ever-perceptive and thoughtful comments.

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