Wednesday, May 31, 2006

5/30/06 Council Notes

By Dian Woodhouse

The Main Issue: Notes From The Discussion

I attended the Council Meeting tonight because I thought that if any issue would show where the Council Members are coming from, this one would do it. And it did, but in a surprising way given the statements some candidates made during their campaigns. But be that as it may...

Here is the Main Issue, as it appeared on the Agenda for May 30th, 2006:

Mall Office Building Master Lease. Resolution 2006-16 consenting to the City Administration proposal that the City lease 31,500 square feet of a proposed office building to be built by Boyer Ogden Mall LC on the northwest corner of 24th Street and Washington Boulevard. (Adopt/Not adopt resolution -- roll call vote.)

Once again, David Harmer presented, and the opening had changed very little from what it was before. It was the Administration's stance that the leasing of this space by Ogden City and the construction of an extra two stories would be "beneficial to the city overall" because:

  • The six story building would be a Landmark.
  • Our agreement with Boyer has us sharing revenues with them, however:
  • We will recover all our costs before we begin to do so in this instance, and
  • We then share the revenue from this space 50-50 with Boyer.
Here Mr. Harmer illustrated the situation via use of projections. The first projection was entitled Optimistic Case, and said:

City cost: -0-

Meaning that the space would be leased immediately and the city would then be making $80 to $100 thousand a year.

The second, entitled, Pessimistic Case, had rows of figures from which Mr. Harmer concluded that we might run in the red for two years, but after that, probably not, and that the rate of return on this investment would be 14%. Mr. Harmer stated that the vacancy rate for Class A office space in Ogden is currently 5%, thereby providing an answer to one of the Council's previous questions.

Councilman Stephenson asked what the difference was between Class A office space and other kinds. The answer to this was that Mr. Harmer was not really qualified to speak to this, that perhaps Mr. Glasmann was better qualified, but that he assumed it had to do with location, parking, design, etc. Councilman Glasmann said that this was correct.

Councilman Stephens asked when the first payment would be due, and the answer was probably July of next year, when the building was finished.

Councilman Glasmann addressed the option of building a four story building now which would be constructed in such a way as to allow the addition of two more stories later on. Mr. Harmer's response was that this add-on would be a million dollars more. Councilman Glasmann stated that this was two years of $400,000. Mr. Harmer stated that others who have adopted this strategy have had building codes change on them in the interim, making the later addition even more costly.

Councilman Safsten asked about prospective tenants. Mr. Harmer stated that he could not "talk specifically about individual tenants," but perhaps the Mayor would care to address this. Mayor Godfrey stated that interest had been shown by a ski company, "governmental related employees," a title company and related businesses.

Councilman Safsten then asked why did Boyer not want a six story building? Answer here was that at the time this decision was being made, PRI announced its plans to construct office space. Boyer therefore did not want to duplicate these efforts. "We're willing to do that to reclaim a blighted area," Mr. Harmer said, not that this area was blighted, but that the difference between the city and Boyer is that the city will take on more risk for the sake of development. "I'm confident that the City would recover the costs," Mr. Harmer said.

Councilwoman Jeske stated that in the City Center, there are parts there that are never rented. She made it clear that we would be liable for areas that remained vacant. Mr. Harmer said again that this was "premiere office space," inferring that vacancy in such a space was unlikely. Councilwoman Jeske stated again that in the event the space was not filled, we would still be "on the hook" for it. Mr. Harmer said here that there would probably be no problem in "terminating the agreement and turning it over to Boyer," if it were only a matter of one or two thousand square feet.

Councilman Stephens stated that this would be a cash flow for the next 20 or 30 years, and Mr. Harmer agreed that it was compatible with the whole "mixed use" plan for the area. Stephens then said, "We're not competing with Boyer, we're working as a partner with them." Mr. Harmer said here that any time we are trying to work in areas like this, we will be somewhat in competition.

Councilman Glasmann stated that with the lease revenues from BDO, we have the money to do this. "I think it's time not to be timid," he said, "now that I've seen the big picture."

Councilwoman Jeske commented that, although it had been stated that we had the money to do this, Ogden City itself has "an awful lot of needs. Have we got the money to meet the needs that Ogden has?"

Mr. Harmer responded with the anecdote about the unemployed man who needs his house repaired. Does he hire a contractor, or does he go get a job to get money to hire a contractor? Explaining this further, he said that we have been losing revenue, and that currently, "there isn't any way we can get to where we need to get," without exploring options such as this one.

Councilwoman Jeske responded to this by asking rhetorically that weren't we spending money that could be spent on the infrastructure on this? Aren't we taking money away from the infrastructure? The answer was, not all of it. Mr. Harmer went on to say that if we are very successful in this endeavor, we will then have $100,000 more a year to spend on infrastructure, and that in his opinion, this was a case of "reasonable risk and reasonable return."

Councilwoman Wicks remarked that this was using taxpayer funds to make lease payments.

"We are making investments that a private investor won't do," Mr. Harmer said.

"Risk is subjective," Councilman Glasmann said. He went on to speak on favor of the project, stating that it had "location, location, location," and would attract such enterprises as The Gap and Old Navy. It has to be a building that is "majestic" and "eye-catching," and. "We absolutely have to make it a success."

Councilwoman Jeske remarked that the stock market in the last two weeks has not been the most favorable. Mr. Harmer responded that the stock-market fell because of "interest rate concerns," and that actually, performance indicators are good.

Councilman Stephens said that we need to be concerned with the needs of the people of Ogden. This project will be "providing creative revenue for our city."

"This prospective vote is killing me," Councilman Safsten said. "What we have now isn't going to cut it....What do you do?...This is not the catalyst that the rec center was...This is a revenue question...Are we building ourselves a revenue stream or not?

Councilwoman Jeske stated that we will have a revenue stream. Inference from the completed Junction, rec center, etc. "Are we getting greedy?" she asked.

Mr. Harmer stated here that The Junction project has gone on so long that the benefit of the tax increments from it are of not as long a duration as other RDA projects---in fact, they will cease in 2014.

Councilman Stephenson said that he remembered that when the old Ogden City Mall was built, it was seen as a "save all, end all." Whereas actually, creative investment is an ongoing process. Mr. Harmer said here that in investment, diversification was important.

Councilman Stephens said that we do need to create other revenues. We are now reaping the benefits of a previous council's decision to develop BDO--this is the same thing.

"We've invested a lot of money," Councilman Stephenson said. "We don't have a choice." He went on to say that adding two floors to this four story building shows leadership, and that the building would be a symbol, and moved to pass the resolution. There was a second.

Chairman Garcia stated that a previous council had also resolved to use the BDO lease money for infrastructure. If we do this, what will be left for infrastructure?

They ran the vote. There was an agonizing pause before Councilman Safsten's No.

And jumping to the end of the meeting, here are snippets of council comments about the vote:

Councilman Stephens: "We missed a great opportunity to create revenue for our city..."

Councilman Glasmann: "As a realtor, we did indeed miss an opportunity..."

Councilman Safsten: "I am not excited about the vote tonight. The negatives outweigh the positives to me...I just did not like the risk of it...It was an extremely close call for me..."

Chairman Garcia: "I echo what Rick said..."

Councilman Stephenson: "Tonight, we've sent a message that even we are not optimistic..." (about Ogden's future.)

Councilwoman Jeske: "We've sent a message that we care about our citizens and our infrastructure..." She mentioned the long time it took to repair Country Hills Drive because the city didn't have the money to do it, (Dian: I believe the money for those repairs was taken from the snow removal fund,) and ended by saying, "We can't operate that way."

Councilwoman Wicks: "We've sent a friendly message to businesses..." (that we will not compete with them.)

End of Main Issue. Stay tuned. And as always, if there are errors or misinterpretations, please correct them.


You can read Ace reporter Schwebke's Standard-Examiner headline story here.

And even your humble Blogmeister feels compelled to get into the act, by offering his own $.02.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Elevator Shoes for Short Buildings

Tonight is the night that the Ogden City Council will consider leasing the upper two floors of a downtown office building that doesn't even exist -- not even on the developer's blueprints.

The mayor (Mr. G) and his million-dollar "A-Team" have decided that the originally-contemplated four-story building will be too short, in comparison to some of the surrounding structures. It's giving them all a prospective inferiority complex. We suspect that are some amongst the mayor's "brain trust" who would know more than a little bit about that psychological dilemma; so maybe they have something of a point.

The Boyer Company, who was presumably ready to begin construction imminently, isn't crazy about the idea of adding an extra two stories at the eleventh hour. They don't believe the market will support a six-story structure. What do they know anyway, though? They're mere professional builders and developers. They get all balled up with facts and figures -- and obviously aren't privy to the "vision," and don't sit at the right hand of Gawd hisself.

They're willing to go along with the mayor's revised plan though, apparently, so long as the lumpen taxpayers can be dragged along at the tune of $400,000/ year until the end of time -- or until the bulding is 100% leased out -- whichever happens sooner.

And it's reported that some on the council are actually taking this proposal seriously.

We swear we couldn't make something like this up.

Two of our regular contributors will be in attendance at tonight's "can't miss" event. It's bound to be a real "hoot." We'll do our level best to have a full report for our gentle readers on tonight's council hijinks in time for tomorrow's morning coffee.

In the meantime, consider this an open thread.

Feel free to chime in with your gentle comments.

Update 5/30/06 8:20 p.m. MT: The vote is in. The motion to enter into lease agreement with Boyer Company, as a guarantee for the construction of the two additional floors, failed this evening by a 4-3 City Council vote. Voting in opposition to the motion were councilpersons Garcia, Wicks, Jeske and...



That's right gentle readers... Safsten.

All-in-all, it was a very interesting council meeting. We'll provide a play-by-play narrative later.


Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day Special -- The Glory of Old Glory

By Dorrene Jeske
City Council-member

Ogden City

In the history of our flag, there have been many moments of glory. Naturally the colonists used at first the flags of their home-land. The first flag to have any resemblance to the present stars and stripes was the Grand Union Flag. It consisted of thirteen red and white stripes, representing the thirteen colonies, with a blue field in the upper left-hand corner bearing the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew, signifying union with the mother country.

Conflicts were inevitable with Great Britain under the heavy hand of the British Parliament, and finally the thirteen colonies declared their independence from the mother country July 4th, 1776.

On June 14th, 1777, the following resolution was presented to the second Continental Congress and passed: "The flag of the United States be 13 stripes alternate red and white, and the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellations."

This was a memorable day in the history of America! Into being emerged a genuinely American flag, destined to earn the respect of all the powers on earth and become the emblem of more glorious deeds than any other flag in the history of the world. Born in the midst of battle, the first Stars and Stripes, also known as the Betsy Ross flag, proudly announced to the world the birth of a new nation!

In August of 1777, a small volunteer army engaged the Royal Army of England in battle at Fort Bennington, under the Bennington Flag.

Vermont and Kentucky joined the United States and congress passed a bill increasing the number of stars and stripes to 15.

This is the flag that flew over Fort McHenry, Maryland, during the bombardment of September 13th and 14th, 1814, and inspired Francis Scott Key to write the "Star-spangled Banner," which was later adopted as our national anthem. The American Flag, symbol of the new nation, had already won its place in the heart of all Americans. Soon the stirring words and music of the new anthem swept across the land.

As the nation grew, the flag first called the star-spangled banner, with its stars, soon gave way to a 28-star flag... the flag that scaled the heights of Chapultapec and Cerro Gordo in the Mexican War.

Then 36 stars... and beneath them, the Union Blue at Fort Sumpter and Appomatox won freedom for all Americans! Under 36 stars the west was won, and the nation extended from coast to coast!

Then 45 Stars... the Spanish-American War , where the flag was victoriously raised at San Juan Hill.

Then 48 stars... the flag and the "Dough boys" took "Over There" at Chateau-Thierry and Saint Mihiel. Again under 48 stars, World War II... the flag proved a glorious sight on Iwo Jima and at Guadalcanal ... and then later at Korea!

Today, under a flag of 50 stars... this nation has grown into the leadership of the free world! Under 50 stars man saw his dream come true -- when Neil Armstrong took one giant leap for mankind -- and planted "Old Glory," the first and only flag on the moon!

Each star in "Old Glory" is an emblem that records a great event in the history of our country. Each tells the story of a great sovereign state which has entered the Union. The red stripes proclaim Courage... the white stripes, Liberty, and the field of blue stands for Loyalty.

How many heros its folds have covered in death! How many have died for it! How many have lived for it! And wherever "Old Glory" has gone, it has been the herald of a better day! It has been the pledge of freedom and justice! We have a great heritage and "Old Glory" is truly a symbol of Liberty!


The foregoing piece is a compilation drawn from original sources in 1975 as a boy scout flag ceremony, in honor of our nation's 1976 bi-centennial celebration. Ms. Jeske has been involved in scouting as an adult leader since 1970; and this ceremony has been used in various other places around the state in the intervening years.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Damning a Proposed Land-Grab with Faint Praise?

The Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce is "ringingly" on-board with the Peterson/Godfrey landgrab -- or so ace reporter Scott Schwebke says this morning -- in his truly odd Top of Utah headline article.

"Chamber backs gondola plan," the screaming headline declares. "Project, resort touted a "unique economic development opportunity," the Standard-Examiner editors would lead us to believe.

We dunno about that. The following text incorporates the actual language that the Chamber Board reportedly adopted. Somehow we don't see it as exactly coming off as a "ringing endorsement:"

The board adopted a position statement Thursday in support of Peterson’s concept and initial proposal, describing it as a “work in progress.”

“We are committed to continued review and input on the project to ensure the best possible results for all concerned,” the statement says. “The Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce pledges to provide accurate and updated information as the project develops and details are refined based on community input.” [Emphasis added.]
What the Chamber Board appears to have done, based on the language provided in the article, is to merely to endorse the fact-gathering public process which the Ogden City Council has previously endorsed. That appears though, gentle readers, to be "just about it. "

What the Chamber Board seems to be saying here is that they're keeping their eyes and ears open just like the rest of the rational citizens of Ogden City and environs. Like the rest of us, they're obviously still awaiting the nuts-and-bolts details, such as how much it will all cost, and who will be expected to pay for it.

Careful readers will notice that the only ringing endorsements actually found in this ridiculous article are those that come from the pack of usual suspects, -- and NOT from the Chamber Board itself.

Dave Hardman is clearly in love with the proposal. Of course, we already knew that. Nowhere is there a mind-numbed gondola lemming more committed to the Peterson/Godfrey landgrab than the slavish Godfreyite Dave Hardman. No well-attended landgrab promotional event ever occurs without Dave Hardman standing up in front of the crowd, with that big "good-ole-boy" grin plastered on his face, preaching about the sheer wonderfulness of the gondola "silver bullet. "

Just for laughs, we hope our gentle readers will read today's Schwebke spin-masterpiece, and carefully compare and contrast the extremely cautious language of the Chamber Board statement with the hyperbolic and frenzied pronouncements of Dave Hardman, Matt Godfrey and Chris Peterson.

If anything, we believe the Chamber Board's own statement actually operates as nothing more than a damnation by faint praise, at this early juncture at least, notwithstanding the mendacious and wholly transparent efforts of some people to spin this story another way.

And what do our gentle readers think this morning?

What is your take on all this?

Update 5/27/06 1:24 p.m. MT: We thank gentle reader Dian a second time today for her diligent contributions to this community blog. The Ogden-Weber Chamber has indeed posted the full text of their Thursday "position statement" on their website, although it is functionally invisible to readers with screen resolutions set to 800x600 and lower (50% of our readers and our humble blogger included.) To read the full text, you may go to their site, and scroll to the right. There you will find a graphic image link.

We've reviewed the full text "statement," and stand by our initial assessment, BTW. Although the statement refers to and incorporates a series of assumptions that might as well have been cut & pasted from the Lift Ogden site, the thrust of the Chamber Board's position remains clear:

They're obviously okay with the basic concept (as are many of our gentle readers,) assuming the assumptions can be proved-out. Still, the Chamber Directors await the all-important details with bated breath, most of which have been INTENTIONALLY withheld to date.

The call for much more information couldn't be more clear -- even from the Ogden-Weber Chamber Directors, who've been mercilessly pushed for weeks by their dipshit "Director," to issue some kind of pro-Godfrey "statement."

Sidebar question: Who the hell is Godfrey-shill Dave Hardman anyway? And how the hell did THIS GUY wind up as the ostensible spokesman for a group of pragmatic Ogden City/Weber County business entrepreneurs like me who put their own money on the line every day, and slave away to make their small businesses work?

So many questions...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

What happened to Our Promised Tax Cut?

By ARCritic

Back in the November election Weber County residents voted to allow the consolidated dispatch center to become an independent taxing entity and levy a property tax to fund themselves. This is outside of the county and cities that had been previuosly supporting it. The cities of Weber county all supported the creation of the taxing authority and promised to lower their taxes by what the new tax the dispatch center proposed.

Now that all the cities have adopted their tentative budgets, I have not heard word one from the Standard about how all these cities are proposing significant property tax cuts. The center was proposing something like a 0.00036 tax rate. This would be little less than a 10% rate reduction that Ogden City would have to propose and since all other cities have lower rates than Ogden, their rate reductions would all be higher.

I would think budgets that included that sizable of Property tax rate reductions would be BIG NEWS. So what gives?


Editorial note: This thoughful query was submitted to us by one of our long-time gentle readers, for which we offer our thanks. Where, exactly are our promised tax reductions anyway?

A tip o' the hat to gentle reader ARCritic for reminding us of this issue.

We think this is something that ought not fall "between the cracks."

It's a 10+% tax reduction we're talking about here.

Comments, anyone?

Pinnacle Marketing WILL Survive the Little Mayor


We just got off the phone with Pinnacle Marketing's Head Honcho, Larry Hansen.

We had a fine conversation!

He takes the position that he considers his "polling data" to be "private and confidential," which is quite alright by us. It's the First Amendment Right of every special interest group, the Mind-Numbed Zombie Gondola at Any Cost Cult included, to collect data any way they want, and propagandize to their hearts' content -- so long as all the "collected" data remains "internal."

What would be unethical, of course, would be to have anyone publish a rigged/privately designed marketing push-poll in the guise of being a legitimate public opinion survey.

Mr. Hansen agrees totally on this, we think.

We believe Mr. Hansen recognizes the above point, although he frankly admits: "I'm no mathematician."

He makes no pretension to being a "scientific pollster," either.

Mr. Hansen assures us that all details of this so-called "phone poll," which were compiled entirely for a private analysis, will be made publicly available, in the event this poll is ever published as a purported public opinion survey:

Here are the things Mr. Hansen graciously agreed to provide, in the event his company's private "poll results" are ever publicly disseminated, and in the event his "clients" violate the terms of their express or implied agreement with Pinnacle Marketing, and release any portion of this "internal survey" publicly.

*Complete Poll Methodology
*Exact Text of the "Polling questionnaire."
*Identities of his so-far un-divulged clients.

We applaud Mr. Hansen and give him a hat-tip for his honesty and integrity.

And we know we can trust him at his word. This is Utah, afterall, where most everything still works on promises, "a handshake" and a secret "highsign." It's re-assuring to be such a righteous State, innit?

Not only that: Ogden's Own Pinnacle Marketing will long survive the "Blessed Matt Godfrey" era -- hopefully -- we predict.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Ace Reporter Adds Grist to the Mill

We're not making decisions based on sticking our finger in the wind. We're making decisions based on what we think is in the best interests of the community.

Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey
November 10, 2005

I look forward to having their data. It’s great to find out where people are at on the issue.

Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey
May 23, 2006

A tip of the hat goes out to ace reporter Schwebke this morning, for getting to the heart of the matter re the recent Mt. Ogden Landgrab Telephone poll. Yesterday, we discussed James Freed's letter to the editor, complaining about a suspect "poll."

This morning's front-page story provides helpful follow-up, and reels off a list of the usual suspects -- Lift Ogden, Matt Godfrey, Bob Geiger and Pinnacle Marketing -- most of whom admit to knowing "nuttin' from nuttin'" about this so-called poll. And what they do know -- they ain't tellin'. A new character is also added to the suspects list -- an outfit called Focus Communications, an Ogden telemarketing company. That's right -- a telemarketing company.

Our gentle readers can read this morning's sad Standard-Examiner story here .

As an added bonus, and for our readers' enlightenment, we are linking to an article entitled "20 Questions A Journalist Should Ask About Poll Results." It's obvious from Mr. Schwebke's story that he asked at least a few of these questions, although he obviously received very little in the way of satisfactory answers. Be sure to read this latter article. When you do, don't forget to read between the lines. After that... gulp down a strong dose of Pepto-Bismol.

So what say our gentle readers now? Does anyone recall ever witnessing the antics of a more inept and pathetic pack of clowns?

Comments... anyone?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Council Cat Prepares to Use Up Life # 2

And there we have have it, gentle readers. The feline's now outta the bag. Blessed Matt Godfrey's right-hand-man for four years - neoCON Comrade Kent Jorgensen -- has arched his back, gotten his tail up and bitten his master -- Blessed Matthew Godfrey - Hosanna -- The Annointed Dwarf With the Big Vision!

Yikes! Horrors!

It comes as no surprise that Comrade Kent wants to run for mayor. He's been putting out feelers for months. We commented on this very recently here, in fact.

Our old buddy Kent, who got elected in 2002 on a platform of saving the downtown mall, and then summarily did a 180 and voted to tear it down -- and then cheered and TAUNTED people like me who voted for him -- now has the gall to intimate that he would or could ever get elected to an Ogden city office again.

Too weird, we say.

How can Ogden voters EVER trust him ever again?

We're going to have to hear a lot of repentance on Kent Jorgensen's part before we ever consider him a candidate for anything in this city.

For our own part... we are willing to offer our Christian foregiveness, so long as Former Councilman Jorgensen is willing to do his mayoral campaigning with a polygraph cuff constantly strapped to his arm.

OK! We already know he's probably the new choice of the 800 Pound gorilla -- now that Blessed Matthew Godfrey is obvious political dead meat. Even 800# gorillas need to deal in political reality tough, afterall.

Whether Kent can ever get elected to any public office again on his own merit in Ogden City remains an open question.

One thing's sure: Rudi wouldn't ever vote for him again, at least not until he's publicly confessed his sins, self-flaggelated and sincerely begged for the voters' foregivance.

Meanwhile let's dwell on this:

"A cat like Kent has nine lives."

"The citizens have the memory of elephants."

Which old folk axiom will prevail?

How many "Cat Lives" has Kent Jorgensen already used up anyway that we don't know about?

How really big and memory-adept big are elephants?

Too funny!

Comments, please.

Push Polling from the Mayor's Office?

A letter to the editor in today's Standard-Examiner caught our attention this morning. Although we'd heard rumors that Mayor Godfrey had been conducting some sort of ongoing "telephone poll," this was the first time we're aware of this having been mentioned in the local print media. Until now, there had been little information about this "poll," or the manner in which it is being "conducted."

Among other things, Ogden resident James Freed provides this helpful information and commentary:
I was contacted for a phone poll concerning the land sale and gondola for Ogden. I asked who commissioned the poll and confirmed that it was the mayor.
Upon completion, I was asked to go to Lift Ogden for more information -- the pro-gondola-at-any-cost group.
I object to the mayor having a poll of registered voters only having one point of view presented.
Are taxpayers' funds used for this poll and meetings that have been set up to show off the gondola proposal?
We'll offer a hat tip to the canny Mr. Freed, who instinctively sensed that something "wasn't quite right" about this so-called "poll." What Mr. Freed describes, if we are not mistaken, has the odor of a highly disreputable form of telemarketing known as "push polling."

Broadly defined, a push poll is a political campaign technique in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll. The Center for Media and Democracy provides a slightly narrower definition: "A push poll is where, using the guise of opinion polling, disinformation about a candidate or issue is planted in the minds of those being 'surveyed'. Push-polls are designed to shape, rather than measure, public opinion." Notably, legitimate pollsters regard push polling as "unethical," at least in its more aggressive manifestations.

Regretfully, this morning's letter fails to provide detailed information about the kinds of questions that were asked, or the specific "methodology" of this so-called "poll." It's thus impossible to determine whether Blessed Matt Godfrey actually seeks to compile real data, or whether he's merely indulging in more deceitful project marketing. That this poll was concluded by a referral to the Lift Ogden group seems highly suspicious though.

We therefore thought it might be interesting this morning to kick off the discussion with a few queries. We're wondering how many of our gentle readers were similarly contacted by the mayor's "pollsters?" If so, what kinds of questions were asked? Were the questions detailed? Did the pollster ask questions about your demographics? Was the poll short in length, with "only a handful of questions," as if to allow a telemarketer to make as many calls as possible? Did it seem to you that the pollster was actually attempting to compile legitimate scientific data... or did it seem that the caller was merely trying to sell you something?

If you "participated" in this "poll," please don't hesitate to chime in. We're certain our gentle readers would be interested in your filling in the "polling details" that Mr. Freed's brief letter left out.

And for those who weren't privileged to find their names on Mayor Godfrey's calling list, Mr. Freed also asks a series of other probative questions. Mr. Freed's letter provides ample fodder for discussion, even for those who weren't "pollster-bait," we think, so please feel free to comment, if you choose.

The Weber County Forum floor is now open for new discussion, after a relaxing weekend's hiatus.

What exactly is on our gentle readers' keen minds today?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Godfrey a Salesman in Proposed Land Scheme

By Jason Wood
Via Standard/Net
Std-Ex Guest Commentary

The full-time, publicly paid mayor of my town is a spokesperson for a private developer. Or so it would seem, if you were to read anything about the antics of Matt Godfrey the last few months.

As a taxpayer and homeowner in Ogden, I expect the mayor to serve as a protector of the people's trust, one who safeguards our shared resources and acts an administrator of city government. Instead, Godfrey fancies himself a private-venture entrepreneur, who spends an inordinate amount of his time as the point man for a questionable land deal.

I've covered county and municipal government for many years and, from what I can gather, the elected chief executive should attempt to shepherd development according to how a community has been planned, or to improve its collective welfare without overextending it financially.

Never have I seen a mayor act like a carnival barker in an attempt to trade a public asset for a personal fantasy.

Our land is the most valuable thing we own in Ogden, and there is likely no acreage worth more than the east bench. Mt. Ogden Golf Course and the trails that surround it belong to us, the taxpayers in Ogden city, not to the mayor. In his attempt to fund what he thinks will revitalize a depressed economic center, Godfrey is proposing to give our golf course and highly trafficked trails away to a business person whom he fondly refers to by his first name. And he is using every available public pulpit to preach the gospel of this golf-for-gondola idea that is doomed to fail -- at our expense.

Not only is he taking on the unenviable role of corporate shill when he should be representing our interests, Godfrey and his administrators are spending city time and money to create the very proposal that would rob us of our golf course and our mountains.

Neither Godfrey nor Peterson can explain why the course wouldn't lose money if it's privately operated, they only say it will be reconfigured and improved. No one can detail these nebulous "improvements" to the course; no one has hired an experienced golf course architect to redesign the holes around these half-million-dollar homes that are sure to flood every spring; no one has looked at the feasibility of extending this mountain course farther east; no one can offer a reasonable explanation of how Peterson's going to get water to fairways and greens above the walking paths that cannot be serviced by any conceivable pump or drainage system; and no one has bothered to raise the issue that once the golf course is zoned for residential uses, there's little to stop this so-called developer from ruining the property or plowing the whole thing under after a year or two when it's found that revamping it is an untenable business proposition.

All we have are Godfrey's platitudes, his patronizing about how change is painful, and that he and his magnanimous partner will change our fortunes with a golden gondola from Wall Avenue to Weber State University.

As a professional skeptic, I have my doubts. But I do have an idea of two people this deal will benefit. And they like to call each other Matthew and Chris.

Wood, an Ogden native, works in marketing. He is a freelance correspondent for the Standard-Examiner covering Farmington and Hooper. He is a member of the Mt. Ogden Golf Course Men's Association.

What about it, gentle readers?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Council Meeting Overview: 5/17/06

By Dian Woodhouse

They ran out of seating at the Ogden City Council meeting last night. Former Councilman Kent Jorgenson was sitting against the wall, and, upon seeing an elderly lady standing in the back, carried his chair over to her so as to enable her to sit. It has been said that more simple courtesy is needed in that room, and there we had some. Thank you, Mr. Jorgenson.

Mikel Vause from Smart Growth Ogden formally presented a petition signed by 282 residents of the Mount Ogden Neighborhood regarding the formation of a Mount Ogden neighborhood plan to the Ogden City Council. There is an article in this morning's Standard Examiner recounting what transpired next, entitled: "Godfrey Accused of 'End Run.'" In a nutshell, it seems that Mount Ogden residents wish to formulate their plan and have it included in the city's General Plan, where it should be. (As we all know, the city's General Plan has to be amended if the Peterson project is to proceed.) The administration's proposal is to amend the general plan first, it seems, from this in today's Standard by Scott Schwebke:

"Godfrey's proposal calls for amendments to the General Plan, which would be needed before Peterson could purchase the Mount Ogden Golf Course, to be addressed first, followed by efforts to develop the community plan."

Mr. Cook's point was that the Council has already put a public process in place which prioritizes the formulation of a Mount Ogden Neighborhood plan as a first step.

Despite the heat and the crowded room, our Council members were fully engaged in the business at hand. One highlight was the action of Chairman Garcia in allowing concerned members of the public to speak to an issue before the vote. This issue concerned the rezoning portions of 21st and 22nd Streets from Manufacturing and Industrial Zone, (M-2,) to Central Business District Zone, (CBD.) Of this issue, Councilwoman Jeske remarked that it had been discussed in the work session, and that she felt that the rezoning would protect residential owners from having manufacturing near their homes. Three people concerned with this issue spoke briefly, and the motion to rezone passed.

The next item was a proposal presented by Dave Harmer regarding a change in the Junction plan requested by the administration. It seems that, although the site plan has been approved and The Junction named, Mayor Godfrey wishes to have a building on the northeast corner of the site expanded to six stories instead of four. Stated reasons were:

*Will provide increased density downtown, which is what we want.

*The intersection at 24th and Washington has long been viewed as the center of downtown, and we need a Landmark there. A four story building will not be a Landmark. A six story one will be.

*It will give us more office space. These two floors will be premiere office space, thereby providing more lease revenue to the city, because....

The city will be responsible for leasing these two floors. We will be so much responsible that we will agree, if this proposal goes through, to pay Boyer for the leasing of them ourselves until we find tenants. This will cost a little under $400,000 a year. We will allegedly get money to do this from, (you guessed it--BDO lease revenues.) Boyer doesn't want to take this on because it does not think six stories there makes economic sense from its point of view, and therefore, if we want six, we will pay to lease them if we wish Boyer to build them.

Mr. Harmer stated that this was a "now or never" decision, and that if we did not build a six story building there now, it might be another 50 years before the city gets another opportunity. He addressed the obvious question, which is---Why would we wish to do this if Boyer, which is, after all in the business, thinks it not profitable--by stating that Boyer and Ogden City have different views and goals on things of this nature, and the city is perhaps more interested in long term benefits than Boyer is.

Councilwoman Wicks asked what the current vacancy rate for office space was in Ogden. The answer was that this is unknown, but that this office space will be different, being "premiere space." Some council members pointed out that The Junction and the PRI projects included office space, but the rejoinder indicated that there was really not that much being built, and little of this nature.

Councilwoman Wicks also asked, What about the space in the American Can Company? The answer here was that that area is not currently delegated for office space.

As part of this proposal, Mr. Harmer also suggested that the BDO lease revenues be placed in what he called a "Debt Obligation Clearing House" account. This would, one assumes, be an interest bearing account and would ensure that we had money for the site when we needed it. In this context, he mentioned that a major tenant, had left BDO and subsequently had caused a decrease in lease revenues, and such an account would hedge against losses should these things occur.

There was also discussion concerning---Would these plans then have to go back to the Plannng Commission? Would many already agreed upon processes between the city and Boyer have to be sent back and revised? These things would have to be looked into.

Councilwoman Jeske stated that this was one of the issues she had campaigned upon, that the city should not be acting as a developer. Heads nodded at this. The response to this was that "it is not possible to do what we have been charged to do" without acting as a developer.

The issue ended by being tabled for two weeks partially, it seemed, because the ramifications of agreeing to this proposal had not been presented to the Council's satisfaction. The proposal had been presented as having Boyer wishing an answer by today or it was going to start on the previously approved plan. Evidently the project has been held up by the request for these extra floors, and Boyer wishes to get going. So we shall see how it turns out.

(My question here is---Is it possible that these two floors are being proposed to be built with a prospective tenant already in mind? And if so, who would that be?)

I have saved mention of the OPD for last. Many were there last night, in uniform. A brief statement was read concerning current negotiations between our police department and Ogden City. It is to be hoped that we can provide more information on this, perhaps in a separate article, because this issue is a very important one, deserving at least as much, if not more, coverage, as Mark Johnson's Hummer.

As always, if there is anything in the above that needs correction, please do so.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Various Monday Morning Reportorial Oddities

We're greeted by a pair of reportorial oddities in this morning's Standard-Examiner.

First, on the section B front page we read that a world-renowned Olympic gold medalist will be in town tomorrow, to promote the Peterson/Godfrey land-grab. Tomorrow morning, Park City's own Jim Shea "get a close-up look at the location of the proposed multimillion-dollar 'resort' at Malan's Basin." In addition to looking over our legacy Mt. Ogden parkland, he'll hobnob for a while with Chris Peterson, on Chris's via ferrata (Italian: rock-climbing for pansies.) Later on (6:30 p.m.,) ace reporter Schwebke reports, Shea will be on hand to deliver a motivational speech at the Ogden amphitheater. In the unlikely case you've forgotten, gentle readers, Shea medalled in 2002, in our personal favorite Olympic sport --- skeleton.

Standard-Examiner news sleuth Schwebke also managed somehow to get a couple of classic pre-speech "teaser" quotes out of gold-medalist Shea:

"I want to be supportive of all visionaries in Utah," Shea said in a phone interview. "Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. There is a lot of smoke coming out of Ogden... " Shea said.

Shea definitely said a mouthful there, we think. He apparently knows a lot already... about Ogden city politics.

In the event that a few of our gentle readers may have inexplicably lost track of Jim Shea in the intervening years since his stirring 2002 Olympic triumph, they can rest assured that he's let no grass grow under his feet. A quick google search reveals he's now earning a little extra cash in the twilight of his Olympic career, milking a few extra bucks as a featured speaker for Brooks International, a haven for washed-up genuine sports stars and athletic also-rans-for-hire, on the lucrative American motivational speech stump-circuit. Yep, he's right there on their 'medal-winner" speakers' list.

Anybody wanna hazard a wild guess about who will be ultimately picking up the tab on this?

A Standard-Examiner page A-1 oddity also caught our attention. Ogden City's own management director, Mark Johnson, commutes to work at City Hall in a 8500-lb+ 10 mpg City-owned HumVee H2, we learn this morning. We won't belabor the point, but we think it fitting and proper that at least one member of Mayor Godfrey's "million dollar brain trust" is "upfront" enough to drive a car that truly reflects the city administration's mega-big-government, mega-big-spending, resource-wasteful spirit and mentality. We won't however say a word about possible personal psychological implications of this personal transportation choice, although we cannot resist incorporating this pithy quote from the preceding link:

"I too assume that someone driving them is an ass or compensating for something. A friend of mine wanted to put a note "Dude, sorry about your p****" on the windshield of a Hummer, but she was only 5 ft tall. I boosted her up :)."

Finally, we're linking to a thought-provocative Deseret News opinion piece, which quite rightly asks the question: how is it possible that the original golden spike, a rendition of which will soon circulate around the world, impressed on the newest commemorative U.S. quarter, remains languishing in some obscure California museum? Now that the State of Utah will be getting all this free publicity, shouldn't we be agitating support to bring the spike back home? What a fine centerpiece it would be for a new railroad museum, as the DNews's Lee Benson seems to suggest. Isn't it really time for us to get moving forward on this?

The floor is open, gentle readers.

What's on your gentle minds today?

Update 5/15/06 1:17 p.m. MT: In the most recent development, the odd story about Mark Johnson's odd vehicular prosthesis has now been apparently picked up by the AP wire service.

Update 5/18/06 9:58 p.m. MT: We had a sneaking suspicion that the Standard-Examiner editors would make additional hay with the Mark Johnson HumVee story. In the event any of our readers in out-of-the-way places missed today's editorial, you can check it out here.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Kent Jorgenson Rises From the Dead

Option B – A Shared Solution.

By Kent Jorgenson

I’ve worked in marketing and public relations the majority of my professional life and always provided clients a variety of options when trying to sell an idea. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have a favorite idea but at least I gave them options. Why don’t we have any options when it comes to the Malan’s Basin, Mt. Ogden Golf Course and Gondola development? Why does it have to Option A or nothing?

The reality is that Chris Peterson, the proposed developer of the project is in a position of power because he owns a lot of the land we use for our trails. He is also in a position to become our friend or foe. Why not work with him and build a development that benefits all parties.

Why not allow Chris Peterson to purchase and build a “small” resort development on the south end of the golf course on city land and then link it to Malan’s Basin via Gondola? The development would be privately funded and managed; therefore it would create no risk for the city or its taxpayers. As part of the deal we can require no motorized vehicles be allowed or roads be developed on the property. Mr. Peterson can also continue to fund the development and preservation of our trails.

Mr. Peterson, on his own dime, can develop phase one of the project and that will allow the city and its residents the opportunity to see if the concept really attracts outside business investment and tourism to Ogden. If they can justify building the gondola from downtown to the university with hard data, then we can proceed at that time.

A shared solution development would allow Ogden to benefit from a multi-million dollar investment from Chris Peterson, provide Ogden the ability to market something that is unique (an urban gondola), and allow its citizens to retain our highly valued open space and trail network. To me this seems like a win-win solution.

In the meantime, why not follow our current twenty-year transportation plan and recommendations of the recent corridor study (downtown to WSU/McKay-Dee Hospital) and develop an efficient, well used transit corridor using Bus Rapid Transit or vintage/modern street car technology. The third party study indicates the corridor is justified and is a top priority for residents throughout Weber and Davis Counties. The plan already has a funding source in place and federal dollars can be used to help defray the cost.

What if we wanted the system sooner rather than later? Then county residents would need to step up like they have before and develop an additional source of funding. A project like this is absolutely possible to complete in a shorter timeframe than ten, fifteen or twenty years.

The tourists who won’t use a bus or street car to get from downtown to Mr. Peterson’s resort development can be shuttled by private carrier (i.e. limousine or shuttle service).

Everyone knows we need more economic development in Ogden, but we don’t want to sell our souls in the process. We also have to deal with reality and understand compromise is better than nothing. Let’s work together instead of focusing on our differences to create a community we can be proud of and call our own.

Kent Jorgenson, Mt. Ogden Neighbor and Ogden City Resident

Comments, anyone?

Did his short bio leave out his 4-year-tour as a Godfreyite Rubber Stamp... or voter promise flip-flopper?

Would anybody in their right mind trust Jorgenson around the corner with their wallet?

(It's no secret the lyin' sack's running for Mayor, BTW.)

Have at it, gentle readers... heheh!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Gondolas Redux, Etc.

For those who may have missed the announcement in an earlier comments section, another Chris Peterson "information" session has been scheduled for this afternoon at Ogden's Union Station. Our Lift Ogden pal Bob Geiger took the trouble to notify us of this yesterday via a multi-hued email, which we've copied to our archives session. We've made a semi-conscientious extra effort to preserve the elaborate original formatting; and you can read all about it here.

From the tone of Bob's announcement, reminding everyone "YA GOTTA BELIEVE," it might be reasonably inferred that the Lift Ogden folks are once again appealing to emotion, and trying to turn this event into another pod-people pep-rally. Imagine that.

On another note, another of our gentle readers tipped us last night to a new Salt Lake City Weekly story, which examines the proposed Godfrey/Peterson gondola-fantasy land-grab, through the eyes of a very talented SLCW writer, Shane Johnson.

Inferiority-complex-laden Ogdenites are duly forewarned that the dreaded term "arm-pit of Utah" does come up in this article, so the faint-hearted and civically-insecure should be sure to be seated before they click on this SLCW link. For a couple of added bonuses, click on the SLCW main page, where you'll find a priceless Matt Godfrey caricature, along with another fine off-topic article discussing Huntville's Trappist-Cistercian Monestary.

Shane Johnson's article is a danged fine one though, we think, despite the hackneyed "armpit" (term of endearment) reference.

We're now turning this forum over to our gentle readers for the rest of the day. You can comment about any of the above, or simply treat this space as an open thread.

Who will be the first gentle reader to bare his/her soul today?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Zero to a Hero

Ever since the original publication of this April 27, 2006 article, we've been "ribbing" our visionary "little but loveable," "radiant but rabid" Mayor about "the big one that got away."

You remember the story line... "'Pleasant View lands 500 job meat-packing plant... meanwhile Godfrey fiddles 24/7 with a nit-witted gondola/parkland neoCON 'Welfare to the Wealthy' giveaway scheme that's doomed to be our fair mayor's most extravagant political blunder so far. "

Well now, it seems there's been a little "glitch" even in the well-designed Pleasant View Plan. It would appear, according to this Deseret News article of today's dateline, that the Pleasant View meat-packing plant is as dead in its inception as the turkey carcasses that would have been processed there. Something about "wetlands."

The Standard-Examiner and ace reporter Schwebke are scooped again... as is all to often the case for our so-called home-town newspaper. Oh for the days when The rag from Sanduskey employed and ran the stories of a stable of REAL reporters.

This time the Std-Ex got caught out-to-lunch by the 800 Lb. Gorilla house organ , the Deseret Morning News, and now...the humble plagiarising and copyright infringing Weber County Forum (Proposed Official Motto: The Voice of truth in the face of hegegemous, oppressive and news-monopolist Standard-Examiner)

If Matt Godfrey Godfrey had the sense that God gave a goose, he'd be cancelling this week's personal invitation-only condo-style gondola sales jobs (one per night every night until eternity,) and would start pitching this Iowa meat processing company to consider bringing those five-friggin'-hundred REAL jobs to Ogden city, as the "Plan B" fallback situation.

We'll concede that meat-packing jobs probably ain't all that "Cool & Sexy."

We are old enough to remember though, a recent time in Ogden when Ogden City was famous for meat-packing! One of our sitting City council members even had a good, high-paying job at Swift's during Ogden's "Golden Age," he admits privately.

No crude Cool & Sexy meat-packing jokes please, gentle readers. We're talking about Swift's & Co, and Wilson Meats, plus a few others we temporarily forget.

Godfrey has the opportunity to turn himself from a zero to a hero here. All he needs to do, is bring that plant to Ogden.

Comments are requested.

They are DEMANDED, in fact, in this case.

This is your forum, afterall.


Update 5/10/06 9:41 a.m. MT: One of our gentle readers just posted this 5/4/06 Weber Sentinel News article in the comments section below. It appears that even the Deseret News got seriously scooped on this story. Kudos to the Sentinel News. Many of us are hoping that the Mackleys will one day up the ante, go into daily production, and run the Suits from Sandusky back to the Ohio neoCON haven from whence they came.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Pleasant & Informative Saturday Morning Hikes

A couple of posts ago, our friend the always-gentle Curmudgeon dropped this tantalising and useful information in the reader comments section:

Just learned that this Saturday, 6 May, beginning at 9 AM, Smart Growth Ogden guides will lead a walk over much of the public land in the foothills that Mr. Peterson wants to develop and that Mayor Godfrey wants to sell him. At eleven stops along the way, the guides will point out what is planned for the land at that point [new golf course fairways or greens, housing, streets, etc], and how it will affect the trails now in place as well as other matters, like the geologic questions raised by construction on steep slopes near established faults. The walk will include at least part of the University land Mr. Peterson wants to buy and develop. Be a good way, I think, to get a firmer grip on what is actually being proposed and its impact public land in the foothills. The SGO people tell me everyone is welcome. As they like to say down on the bayou where I worked for some decades, "y'all come!"

Note: the first part of the walk involves a gain of about 350' from the 29th Street trailhead to the mouth of Waterfall Canyon. But it's all down hill from there.
In this connection, and being "curious types," we instinctively went to the website, and found this helpful announcement.

Your not-so-humble blogmeister has a calendar conflict tomorrow morning, but is pleased to learn that this event will be an ongoing one, thru the entire Merry Month of May.

Rudi will be booked for the next two Saturdays, in fact, but will bring along his trusty Garmin GPS device, plotting his route and waypoints, on his next free Saturday -- May 20, 2006 -- assuming this event proceeds as planned.

What better way, we ask, to compare the grandiose promises of our local Big Government Grand Schemers - and their Greedhead Developer Puppet-Masters -- with the actual lay of the land -- more or less as God created it?

We mention this apologetically, having belatedly found several inquiries this evening re this event in Rudi's WCForum inbox.

Those of you who do attend tomorrow... please don't hesitate to chime in with your impressions.

The "first" ones are often the best.

Please don't let the cat get your tongues.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

All Gondolas, All the Time


Descente Doesn't Care!

By Dian Woodhouse

I attended a "Gondola/Resort" meeting last night. It did not change my opposition to these projects, of which I have written at length before, but attending this was very worthwhile because I was finally able to understand part of the motive behind all this.

Mayor Matthew Godfrey ran for office on a platform to revitalize Ogden. He recounted last night that one of the missing components in this city is, and was at the time he took office, white collar jobs downtown. For five years, he, and staff, and Community and Economic Development tried in vain to recruit companies to come here and provide those jobs. And for five years, they did not get one taker.

Enter Curt Geiger in 2002. Discussions between him and the mayor take place, and the idea of making Ogden the ski hub is born. Descente moves here, Lift Ogden is formed, and they begin to pitch this idea to ski companies.

In the last year and a half, Mayor Godfrey said, everything has changed. Seven ski companies are now here, with an eighth possibly on the way, and "the only thing that has changed in the pitch is the gondola."

In other words, the gondola does seem to be being looked at as a silver bullet. After five years of total nothing, inclusion of this gondola/hub idea in addition to the other things Ogden already has to offer, seemed to generate, finally, outside interest in Ogden in the way of these ski companies.

I say "seemed," because I do not think this is that simple. I do not think the gondola is and was the key to increased economic development here. Instead, I think that the reason that the mayor spent that grueling five years with no return is that a large portion of the country was, for that five years, doing exactly the same thing. When the tech bubble burst in 2000, and then with the occurrence of the subsequent Enron scandals, the sudden disgrace of nationally prestigious accounting firms, and the realization that the boom of the nineties was in large part predicated on false accounting, inflated figures, and money that existed only on paper, a whole lot of people lost a whole lot of money.

Probably many companies were in no shape, after that, to move anywhere, let alone Ogden. Many of them had to spend a few years trying to stay afloat. And many of them didn't make it.

So it is very possible that the bad time Ogden had in generating interest was not caused by lack of a gimmick, lack of a resort, lack of high end housing, but by the fact that, at that time, quite a few people had no money to put into anything. It wasn't just in Ogden--it was all over the country.

Interesting, I thought. That is part of the motivation for this project--that the inclusion of the gondola in the pitch might have coincided with a brief upswing in the national economy, and the gondola, not the economy, is being looked at as the reason that Ogden is doing a bit better because of the ski companies that have come in. Not to minimize the effort the mayor and Mr. Geiger have put into this effort--we all know it has been a huge effort--but just to say that it might not be the only factor operating in this.

The mayor said, as he has said before, that from the station at the top gondola, "you could get into Snow Basin if you want." Another quote was: "You can point your skiis east and ski right down that road that's already up there and go right down into Porky." Another was: "You can access Malan's from the Strawberry gondola."

Not knowing the terrain there, I am not qualified to comment on these things, although I do find it interesting that they were said in view of the position of Sinclair Oil, Snow Basin's owner, that appeared in the Standard Examiner. Mayor Godfrey also said that "they," (I assume Sinclair,) wanted it stated that there were no ticket or other arrangements between the two resorts, but also in the meeting, when questioned about this pitch for the gondola when Sinclair had said it wouldn't go to Snow Basin, stated: "They did not say it's not going to Snow Basin."

Moving on, there was quite a bit of discussion about selling the golf course. The Mayor's point of view regarding that is that the golf course has a negative value--this because it runs at a deficit. Because it has a negative value, we will not be losing anything if we sell it. There were spirited exchanges here between the mayor and members of the community who alleged that the books from the golf course were not totally accurate as they included a carryover debt which was questionable, and in fact, that the Mount Ogden Golf course could probably Make money hand over fist were it given the opportunity to do so.

Speaking of spirited exchanges, there was also one between the Mayor and State Representative Neil Hansen, who asked if involvement in these projects was truly what a government should be doing, and also why the taxpayers of Ogden should assume the costs for the Urban gondola. The Mayor's answer to this was that the urban gondola would benefit us. People wanted to know how. The answer was that it would increase downtown economic development.

Curt Geiger attended this meeting, and at one point delivered an impassioned speech to the effect of the fact that we in Ogden have a chance to boom, to make something of the city, but that it was our choice. If we wanted to naysay and be against everything, that was up to us, and that "Descente doesn't care. This is his home, he is happy here, and it is up to us whether to get behind this idea or not, but "Descente doesn't care."

Mr. Geiger also said elsewhere that his rent is $2,500 a month--1971 levels. He employs fifteen people, and his payroll is a million dollars a year, which is "not chump change," and he pays $125,000 annually in sales tax to Ogden City.

Someone commented that the Mayor should be honest and open with the public about "the parking lot at Weber State for the gondola." This was the first, and last, I have heard of this. There was no further discussion about it.

Someone else commented at the sad state of Ogden City Schools, saying, "We need that revenue!" There was applause at this.

One comment I thought interesting had to do with the idea of those opposed to the gondola being so because it would damage their current quality of life. Since quality of life is not something that you can look at on a balance sheet, arguing the merits of this project based on a balance sheet alone leaves quality of life out of the equation.

Then someone stated that he had lived in Ogden for forty years and his quality of life had gone down. There were some murmurs of assent at this.

There was a comment that all trails are not equal. That if Chris Peterson changes the ones we now have, will that mean that what he comes up with will be as good as what we now have.

This was a Long Meeting. We left at about 11:30 at night and the meeting hadn't formally closed. I don't know if it ever did. Many things were discussed, and both sides, pro and con, asked questions. Since this is getting to be therefore, a Long Article, perhaps the best thing to do is end it here and readers can ask questions about the meeting. Other things touched upon were---a streetcar, motorized vehicles and emergency services at the resort, the trails, the housing development, The Junction," Larry Miller, light rail impact, open space, affordability for locals, jobs---you see how long this would get if I attempted to discuss all these things. So ask away, and I will check in periodically and try to answer.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The North Ogden Council is Doing WHAT?

North Ogden News Alert
Sponsored by Citizens for Proper Government
May 2, 2006 – Paid for by ‘Citizens for Proper Government’


North Ogden residents, are you WILLING TO ASK the city council and mayor SOME TOUGH QUESTIONS? Over 10 taxes, fees or rates tentatively voted on; do not have to be raised if the NOC council would listen to the VOICE OF REASON AND THE CITIZENS!

Why have our new mayor and council members recently returned from a two day budget workshop in St. George wherein 4 out of 5 council members discussed ways to raise an additional million dollars in taxes and fees from North Ogden city residents? (i.e., water, sewer, and trash utilities rates, impact fees and property taxes)?

Very good qestion. You may read the whole gentle reader-supplied news release here.

When you've finished reading the article, don't forget to leave your comments.

Swimming Feverishly Against the Tide

There appeared a short but elegantly articulate letter to the Standard-Examiner this morning, in which Eden's Peter Turner astutely makes a series of fundamental points. Short, but sweet, it is:

Keep Ogden's public lands public
Monday, May 1, 2006
StandardNet Website

I have, generally, been a supporter of Mayor Godfrey's efforts to improve the economic opportunities and lifestyle quality for Ogden.

I think it's worth an investment with private and public funds to create an atmosphere and infrastructure to attract business and tourism to Ogden.

However, the latest proposal to give away or sell off any public lands is not acceptable. This public land is used by the people of Ogden and surrounding communities.

The intended outcome of the plan is to sell the public land to wealthy investors for their benefit, at a loss to the community.

One of the rationales is the operating loss of the Mt. Ogden Golf Course. If the loss is not acceptable, close the golf course until it can become profitable. But remember, virtually everything the government runs is at a loss. That's why we fund those services through our taxes -- because the public benefits aren't tangible on a balance sheet.

The $5 million estimate in tax revenues for Ogden on the proposed 400 homes is a stretch. That means the average house taxes would be $12,500. Based on my own taxes, those homes would have to be assessed $3 million to $4 million, and sell for much more. That's possible for slope-side trophy homes at Snowbasin, but an insane assumption for Ogden Valley, let alone Ogden city.

Open space will become impossible to obtain in the future. Keeping public lands public is the greatest benefit for all.

Peter Turner
In an era where communities up and down the Wasatch Front are scrambling at no small expense to re-establish public open space in their own over-built communities, the Godfrey administration swims feverishly against the tide. Public benefits aren't tangible on a balance sheet, as the writer aptly notes -- except where communities are required to acquire them "from scratch."

Moreover, even the Peterson/Godfrey "plan's" most basic economic assumptions are questionable at best, if not hopelessly flawed.

Once our unique public parkland treasure is transferred from public control, it will be inevitably lost to the public forever. We predict that future generations of Ogdenites will shake their heads in astonishment at the materialistic and myopic attitude of the present generation, if we succumb to the lure of quick-fix government give-away artists and their fly-by-night developer cronies, and squander our legacy parkland by selling it to the lowest bidder.

That's our opinion and we're sticking to it.

And what say our gentle readers about this?

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