Wednesday, June 21, 2006

6/20/06 Council Notes - "Take The Next Step."

OR

When Will Lift Ogden Shut Up?

By Dian Woodhouse

Outside the municipal building before tonight's council meeting was a Lift Ogden Rally. There were Lift Ogden signs, and T shirts, and small signs, about four by eight inches, with a stick about six inches long attached to them that one could wave. These small signs had the Lift Ogden name and the name of the individual supporter printed at the bottom.

At about ten minutes of six, rock music was playing, (I think it was Twist and Shout.) I thought the crowd was a bit over three hundred at that time. A policeman who had been through the whole thing estimated peak attendance at five hundred. Another individual with experience of crowd numbers weighed in at four hundred. There had been speakers. Many of these people from the rally then went into the council chambers, signs and all. In fact, there were about six or seven personalized small signs on the agenda table outside waiting for their owners to claim them.

The Council meeting began as usual. All Council members were present. Mayor Godfrey was absent. For a rough overview of this, which I can enlarge later if people want specifics, Scout Matthew Hills from Troop 4 led the Pledge of Allegiance. Councilwoman Jeske read a speech honoring Jody Stark, Miss Rodeo Ogden, and then Councilman Doug Stephens spoke honoring Coach Hislop and the WSU Track and Field Team.

There was a public hearing on the rezoning of 916 7th Street from CP-1 to C-2 presented by Greg Montgomery of Ogden City Planning. It passed. There was an ordinance adopted concerning the terms of the Crossroads of the West Committee. The ordinance limiting the amount of unrelated adults living in one dwelling also passed, but on this one there was some dissent.

At this point, the council was supposed to move into closed executive session to discuss employee negotiations. This was, of course, having to do with the police and firefighter contracts, and I believe discussion on this was to be reopened at this time in that closed session. However, Councilman Safsten made a motion to move the agenda, putting the public comment session next instead of the closed exec session, and it passed, and supporters of the gondola began to approach the microphone.

There were over thirty of them. Comments like the gondola/resort being comparable to the coming of the railroad to Ogden, the investment of the half a billion dollars, the need for jobs in Ogden, all that we've heard before. But underlying this, one began to detect a theme. That theme was: Take the next step.

The Ogden City Council was being urged by Lift Ogden to take the next step in the project, and from what was said, I believe that the next step referred to was the signing of a development agreement between the Council and Chris Peterson. People who spoke in favor of taking the next step also represented, or said they represented, various organizations. "I speak on behalf of all small businesses," one woman said. One man spoke for the Hispanic business community. Another for hotel and motel owners. The Bank of Utah. The Board of Realtors.

They all spoke of "taking the gondola to the top of the mountain." Of an infusion of money into schools, sewers, and city coffers. The project, it was said, would enhance the reputation of WSU. It would create jobs for those who currently don't have them. It was a half billion dollar investment in Ogden. Property values would appreciate.

There were also comments regarding the negative effect upon Ogden that would occur if the Council did not take this "next step." "The longer you wait, the more it's going to cost," one person said. Another suggested that if Council Members did not vote yes, they should abstain from voting, otherwise they would "kill hope." Yet another stated that if he were Chris Peterson, and people were wanting to keep the trails across his property and did not want him to develop it, he would put a fence up and not let anyone on them.

Near the end, Chris Peterson spoke. He addressed none of these things. Instead, he told the Council that "If you take this project to the next step, I will work diligently....work with you.....flesh out the details." He mentioned the fact that there were "good, well-meaning people" on both sides of the issue.

There were only a few who spoke against the project. One submitted a letter to the council, and she was gracious enough to give me a copy. I will quote part of it here:

"...My family and friends were under the impression that we would be watching Karate Kid at the opening of the Monday night movies at the Ogden Amphitheater. Eventually, we did get to view the film, but not before LiftOgden forced its captive audience to endure a presentation on the alleged benefits of the proposed Gondola/resort development. To give themselves some additional cachet, LiftOgden recruited a lead cast member of the film, who was introduced by a supposed Hollywood producer. The actor, who played the evil sensei in the film, had the audacity to voice his opinion regarding the gondola, after informing the audience he had been in Ogden for only a few hours. Following this rallying cry was some propaganda footage starring the usual suspects, namely, the honorable mayor Godfrey and developer Mr. Peterson.

I find the co-opting of this family friendly event--with hundreds of unsuspecting and defenseless spectators in attendance--shameful on the part of the LiftOgden interest group, to say the least. I am equally disturbed that such a flagrant abuse of power, and along with it the exercise of subversive public information campaigning, appears to have the blessings of the Ogden City administration. I sincerely hope that the staging of such one-sided events in a public arena, where the intent is to enjoy a movie, not to be manipulated, end immediately. Surely, a film screening that is in the spirit of a family friendly event, with numerous small children in attendance, should not end at close to midnight on a work night."

Throughout these speeches, the reps for the police and firefighters waited patiently. The Council then retreated to Closed Executive Session to discuss the employee negotiations. I assume they eventually came out and announced a decision but I didn't hear it. It was quite late by then.

I heard later that a previous council might have approved a process regarding development agreements which involves steps a developer must take and information he or she must provide in order to get such an agreement even on the table. However, the current council has already hammered out a process, and perhaps that process must be undergone before this "next step" is taken. If there is such a process, it should be found and looked at.

I took extensive notes on this meeting and can answer questions or do another, more detailed piece if there is interest. But mainly, that was what happened, and "the next step" is the next big push.

And regarding police and fire, I for one applaud the city council re-opening that door. That, in my opinion, was a good step to take.

----------------------------

Ed. Note: Dian wrote the article; your incensed blogmeister came up with the title(s.) The sheer audacity and tackiness of these Lift Ogden folks boggles the imagination.

1/4-page ads running in the Standard-Examiner all week at no small expense to somebody, and with "invitations" rolling out to the entire Chamber of Commerce -- and MANY others -- and all the support they could raise was four or five-hundred warm bodies or so at the high-point of the event -- including bystanders who may have wandered into the event to listen to the Rock Band?

Meanwhile, our cops and firefighters cool their heels again, listening to mind-numbed gondola cultists who can't even tell you how much money Chris Peterson is willing to offer for our irreplaceable and treasured parkland.

Comments are invited from other gentle readers who may have attended this ridiculous "pep-rally." Comments are also welcome, of course, from those who didn't.

81 comments:

Dorrene Jeske said...

The final action of the Council was a big disappointment for the Police and Firefighters. The motion was made to not reconsider Ordinance 2006-37 and passed with 5 aye votes, 1 naye and 1 abstaining. Councilwoman Jeske voted naye, and Councilman Glasmann abstained because he had missed the last three weeks of discussion due to illness.

I think it best that I not say any more about the Council meeting.

Anonymous said...

"When Will Lift Ogden Shut Up?" Ummmm...whatever happened to "free speech," "market place of ideas," "open debate," and all that stuff? Did somebody change the rules for Ogden? Freedom of speech does not only apply to people and issues that you agree with. It's sad that we have to be reminded of that.

The Lovely Jennifer said...

RUDI

exactly how much longer until the next mayoral election? Months and days.

exactly how much longer until the next council elections? Months and days.

I am curious in order to see how timetables coincide with how much the LO push is accelerated when we start getting close to these crucial times.

Curmudgeon said...

Anon:

As I read the comments, absolutely no one suggested that LO members not be permitted to speak publically or privately in support of the highly likely to fail real estate speculation and gondola/gondola scheme they like so much. Hence, "freedom of speech" does not seem to be under attack here.

It was suggested that they shut up. Meaning, I suspect, voluntarily acquire some integrity and a sense of decency and decide, on their own, to stop peddling misinformation to the public [like "the gondola will go to Snow Basin" --- it won't; and that skiers will be able to take the Frontrunner from SL International Airport to Ogden --- they won't] just for openers. It was also being suggested that they stop hijacking public family events, like the amphitheater family evening movies, to turn them into LO propoganda events.

I don't see how asking LO supports to summon enough of a sense of decency to keep quiet until they can make their case without misrepresentation, and to summon enough of a sense of decency not to force their message on unsuspecting families who thougth they were coming to a family film event in a public park constitues any threat to "free speech".

Of course, if the bill of rights protected only honest speech delivered by those with a strong sense of public decency and ethics, the LO folks would be in trouble on the matter. Fortunately for LO, the bill of rights protects all public speech... even that which is misleading and inaccurate.

a neutral observor said...

"The next step?" What exactly IS "the next step." It certainly isn't the City Council's. It's the developer's.

At this time, there's NOTHING for the CC to vote on. All there is is a concept. But there is a process, part of which is marketing. Lift Ogden can market this thing to death. They have that right. The City of Ogden, on the other hand, shouldn't involve itself in promoting this concept. At least not until a formal proposal and/or development agreement is presented to the City and goes through that process and passes, if it in fact does.

Much emotion abounds. Neighbor vs. neighbor. Figures and statistics that come from outer space, either extolling the virtues of the gondola project or demonizing it. Signs, signs, everywhere. Individuals actually speaking for only themselves, yet claiming they speak for the group as a whole (the OGCC and Hardman for the Chamber, as examples). Our own little Civil War.

Ain't it great!

Anonymous said...

First off, another poor job of reporting by the SE. Thank you Dian for your take on what happened last night.

One of the Geiger clan commented in the paper that 800 people showed up for the rally. It appears that the Lift Ogden folk can't count anything accurately. 800 people? How inflated is that number? Unfortunately it is not as inflated as the LO mantra of 1200 new jobs, 1,000 new WSU students, and $10 million new dollars a year due to this project.

And what what about Katie Berret's correction? Did that really rectify the situation? What a bunch of propagandists.

Anonymous said...

You naysayers seem to be getting frustrated by the momentum of this potential development. The majority is standing up and being counted. Get on board.

Anonymous said...

Anon-
People who question a major development that has huge potential impacts on us, as citizens, are not naysayers. Since you have not noticed, there are serious issues with this project that are being ignored and/or not addressed. We, citizens, do have a lot to lose with this project. And, yes, I am frustrated. I am frustrated by the fact that so many of my fellow citizens are being duped and buying into all of the "glittery generalities" that are being marketed to them by the Lift Ogden/Pinnacle Marketing/Mayor Godfrey/Chris Peterson choo choo train.

anonymous too said...

All the pushing for "the next step" just made me think of a scarey scenario:

The City sells Mt. Ogden Golf Course and adjacent properties to CP. The retirement homes are built, construction of the crosstown gondola begins and then everything grinds to a halt.

CP now owns the golf course, has sold the homes(if they do sell which is another consideration), we have an unused aerial eyesore to the base of the mountain and CP retires on the income from this development.

No additonal cash outlay on his part is made, no development of the mountain (a good thing IMO), but he has acquired land he couldn't have otherwise gotten and we have a gondola we don't need.

IF the city does sell the golf course and other land, I should hope that this sale would be 100% contingent on the State's approval of selling the WSU land AND CP's obtaining all the environmental and engineering approvals needed for his mountain gondoal/resort in advance AND an enforcable comittment to build these.

miz d said...

The Lift Ogden frenzy is the perfect example of mob psychology.

It belongs in the category of brainwashing of mobs who do things as a group that they would never do as individuals.

Most of the people caught up in the mob fever to get on board because it looks like they will be left behind don't even realize that they don't know what they are climbing aboard for.

All I hear is that something has to be done about Ogden and it is better to do anything than to do nothing.

That is some dumb reason to climb on board a disaster waiting to happen.

curmudgeon said...

To the anon addressing "naysayers":

If you are convinced you have a majority of the people of Ogden with you, then it seems you would support putting the development plan and Ogden's participation in it up to a public vote, a referendum. I do note that Mayor Godfrey is adamantly opposed to doing that.

Several hundred folks waving signs at a rally is an indication that an expensive marketing campaign succeeded in convincing several hundred folks to show up at a rally waving signs.

Do I think a majority is against the proposal? I don't know. The point is, neither do you. And I am not claiming as "fact" statements I cannot substantiate. One 0f the things I like about the Smart Growth Ogden group is that they document their claims, they post their sources, and they invite inquiry and discussion.

When SGO hosted a community meeting at Wasatch Elementary, for example, they brought in an outside moderator, a judge from SLC, who did not have a dog in the fight, to make sure the meeting was conducted impartially. All were invited to speak on the isssue, regardless of their views on the proposed development. Mr. Bob Geiger spoke, as did several others who supported his views. All were treated politely, and applauded politely when they had finished.

What kind of event, by comparison, does LO run? Showing only LO propaganda films to a trapped audience of families who thought they were coming to a family movie night at a city park And a rally outside the Council chambers. I think the difference between the two groups is well illustrated by their lawn signs. SGO: "Ask Questions" and "Get Involved." LO: "Yes!"

This should not be about marketing a concept by tactics more appropraite to a homecoming rally before the big game. It should be about having a proposal that, if adopted, will markedly change the nature of Ogden [whether it succeeds or fails], thoroughly and fully discussed by citizens, and their reprsentatives so that a decision, whatever it is, can be made by those who have reached their conclusions on the basis of sound information, thoroughly examined in public.

aunt fanny said...

Utah has long been known as the scam capital of the world.

One come-on was to to offer to borrow a hundred grand from an investor at 10% interest per month so the greedy investors put forth their hundred grand.

In the meantime the promoter had another investor on the hook so that investor's hundred grand was used to pay the interest to the first investor because the first investor wanted to keep his hundred grand loaned out.

The enevitable always happened which was that everyone lost their money and the promoter went to Point of the Mountain for a few months.

The corollary with the proposed Malan Basin Resort is the same old scam with a whole city begging to get in on the pie-in-the-sky scheme to make all this money for everybody.

This time around the greedy ones can put Ogden into servitude for many years when the scheme blows apart.

Art said...

Well said, Curm. Substantiate and document. NO MORE FIGURES FROM OUTER SPACE, Bob G. These freeway people who will pull off and ride up 23rd. Where did you get those numbers? The increase in enrollment at WSU. Where did you get those numbers? The 1/2 billion dollar investment in Ogden. Why then does CP need to pick up MOGC for 15 mil when THAT land is worth much, much more? Is this maybe called "leverage?" And the property taxes. Where did those figures come from? How does 400 houses, if that is allowed, compute to this 5-10 million dollars coming to Ogden with (1) the County getting it's share; (2) the school district getting it's share; & (3) the mill levy that is now being charged in our fair city?

Ramming this marketing down everyone's throats (city movies, rallys, newspaper letters, etc. just DON'T MAKE IT SO, dude! Back up your numbers, claims and assertions.

Anonymous said...

You are not going to believe I seen the other day as I was walking into Pay-less Shoe Source, Matthew Godfrey buying some Elevator shoes.

After he walked out of the store. I then walked over to the shoe sales clerk and asked him why the Mayor was buying elevator shoes?

The clerk then explain that with the anticipation of the gondola coming to town, that he was afraid the gondola manufacturing company might put a height restrictions on those who are going to ride it, like those rides at lagoon. This way he will make sure that he will be able to ride the gondola.

anonymous too said...

And again, we already need to upgrade the City's infrastructure to handle existing residents. Four-hundred additional homes in the Mt. Ogden area will overwhelm the existing sewer system (which already is aged), further reduce water pressure, and possibly tax the available electrical resources. This is to say nothing about damage to residential streets which were not built to handle the countless trucks with heavy machinery and building supplies needed for an undertaking of this magnitude.

Who will pay to upgrade the City's sewer and water, power system, and repave damaged streets?

That was a rhetorical question, BTW.

Even new ski industry employees will probably want housing with working water, sewers, and electricity.

Anonymous said...

It is really disgusting how my husband and his co workers were "requested" to be in attendance at this meeting at the city hall after work. They were also asked to wear T shirts with the company name on it. I do not see a place on his pay check that says it is for being a walking bill board or supporter of some cause that he doesn't agree with. None of his crew and friends were happy to be at that event. Only a small number of his 50 or so co-workers were there voluntarily. How fair is this?

Somebody gave him this web address and I am glad they did. I didn't think there was any place that we could ever hear about the other side of this story.

dian said...

Latest anonymous:

Would this perchance be the highly visible green on white Team R&O, Supporting Our Community, that I saw last night at the rally? I did wonder about that--of course a construction company wants more construction jobs, but I agree with you---attendance at these rallies should not be tied to one's means of earning a livlihood.

One of the invitations sent out to this event by the Chamber of Commerce requested that employers bring all their employees.

I personally think many, many basic rights are being trampled on here.

Anonymous said...

So Safsten called for the public comment session? At who's behest? The Honorable Councilman from Ward 4 would be advised to find out what the man in the street, in Ward 4 thinks of phishy development pitches...Methinks that quite a few folks with no lawn signs at all are sceptical, to say the least. Those people will remember, I guarantee.
Also, our public servants should remember being placed second to folks whose bread is already buttered. With caviar.
Also, Thank you Dorrene, for your support of those public servants. You've really been a great Councilwoman. Keep up the good work!
One more also: let's give a shout of thanks to Mr. Peterson and his Mayor Matthew Godfrey. Without them, myself and many other citizens would still be apathetic and uninformed. They've really managed to motivate folks into the community to get involved! Oh, wait, that was sarcasm.

miz d said...

It makes a lot of sense that R&O Construction bosses would welcome lots of those tee shirts at a rally in Ogden.

R&O is the construction company that is building the rec center of Mayor Godfrey.

I urge everyone to get a copy of the R&O contract as it was signed prior to 2005 year end as an open ended cost-plus contract which is the equivalent of a blank check.

Interesting what you can learn from GRAMA requests.

Since the first of the year responses to a GRAMA request show that change orders to the original contract of $11,000.00 have been made but no amount shows for the original rec center contract as no one cares how much it is going to cost.

You bet, I would insist on my employees turning out enmasse for such generous suckers as the Ogden City RDA who enter into a cost- plus contract when the builder didn't even see a set of the plans to bid on.

No individual taxpayer would enter into this most irresponsible contract but the RDA bigwigs don't give a hoot because it isn't their money they are spending. They want to spend it to keep their RDA kingdom afloat with the big buck salaries.

Don't you get the sense that Ogden taxpayers have been screwed one more time.

Curmudgeon said...

Anon [So Safsten]:

Well, I don't have an objection to Safsten moving up the public comment agenda item [and the rest of the council approved the motion remember]. Provided that should it happen at some meeting down the line that a large number of folk are there to testify on other matters... say in opposition to the proposal... the same courtesy is accorded to them.

Besides, I can see why the council might want to empty the chamber of organized cheerleading squads prior to working through its real agenda.

If the same courtesy is denied others, then I have a problem with it. But not until then.

dan schroeder said...

curmudgeon:

For perhaps the first time ever, I disagree with you. The City Council should never rearrange its agenda to accommodate a mob of people on their doorstep. Think of the message this sends: You wanna get our attention? Just make lots of noise 'cause that's what we listen to. Now the other side is in a lose-lose situation. If they try a similar stunt, they're sanctioning this breach of decorum. If they don't, then the Council has no opportunity to send the message that they're still neutral on this issue.

dian said...

The problem with moving the agenda last night is that it was under unique circumstances and therefore might have indicated certain negative things, although it is perfectly within the right of the council to move it.

The police and firefighters had a possible chance that the budget or their contract would be reexamined. I freely admit that I am biased as to their side. I am biased as to the side of any rookie firefighter, for instance, who tries to start out in life, marry, start a family, maybe buy a house and a car, who works in an extremely high risk job and is being paid $28,000 a year.

My bias aside, these employee negotiations had ended at impasse. This is not too cordial of a thing. So when it was sensed that there might be hope to thaw those relations somewhat, at last nights meeting, the act of moving the agenda and pushing the employee relations back could have been interpreted to mean that the Lift Ogden comments were more important than those employee relations.

That is simply not productive. Any allegations that police and fire might have made that they were not being treated fairly are reinforced by this. It is highly unfortunate, I think.

However, I also have to state that, at the time, it went right by me. At the time, it seemed reasonable. A group of people waiting to be heard is not conducive to giving matters the deliberative thought and time they may require. It is possible that Councilman Safsten looked out at that room, thought that it would be a shame to make that roomful of people wait all through a closed executive session, or that the pressure of their presence might impinge on the thorough working through of the agenda, and went ahead with it, not realizing that the comments would go on for as long as they did and that that action would result in making those men wait for quite a long time. Two hours, I think it was. It was only after comments had gone on for some time and I glanced up and saw a firefighter that I realized what was happening.

But now, with 20/20 hindsight, I am thinking that it shouldn't have been moved at all.

One of those unfortunate diplomatic things, I think. An apology certainly wouldn't hurt.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous with R&O husband:

I too have a relative that works at R&O and was lucky enough to have seen the e-mail “requesting” employee’s attendance at the rally. Although, the initial e-mail did not merely request their attendance; it demanded it. The e-mail, in very specific terms, told them that it was not optional and they had better attend. This was retracted after most of the employees showed strong resentment towards being told what to do with their free time and the demand turned into a rather forceful “request”. Needless to say it sent chills up my spine.

ArmySarge said...

Last night, the gondola scam (sorry) was NOT of immediate concern. The police and firefighter issue WAS of immediate concern. The council should have had the decency to put them AHEAD of the "lift" Ogden folks!

THE PRODUCER said...

Thanks for the gratitude. Flying a recognizable actor to the first of your family movie nights cost the city nothing, and the short collection of clips only mentioned the gondola twice. It was a labor of love to your city, and was shown in the light, at a time before the movie could have begun, so did not make the evening longer. The movie is two hours twenty minutes long. I am back in California working hard at my "supposed" profession, and here, at least, we appreciate dissent, discussion, and help each other with out ... with love, not hate. As for the Sensai's comment, it was humorous ... "please build the gondola. I want to go the top of your beautiful mountain, but I can no longer walk there." Lady, get a life!

ArmySarge said...

"Producer" - A question: Did "lift" Ogden PAY for their time? Everyone else has to pay rent - did they?

Curmudgeon said...

Dan and ArmySarge:

OK, Dan. You have a point. Agendas are there for a reason. I suspect the excecutive session hiatus had something with Safsten's trying to accommodate the Cheerleading Squad, but you are right. It had the impact of making others interested in the Council's regular proceedings wait an extra two hours. You are right; I was wrong. So, in retrospect, was the Council.

ArmySarge: Wouldn't surprise me if all kinds of "special" arrangements were made to accommodate the Lift Ogden group. For example, I understand they didn't apply for a permit for the demonstration until just a few days before it occurred, well after the deadline for applying for a permit for that date. Haven't seen the paperwork, but that's what I've heard. I'm not sure a long lead time for a demonstration of that type and size is necessary, but if that's what the reglations require, then LO should have to meet those requirements like the rest of us.

Curmudgeon said...

Producer:

The point is, that the LO folks have a penchant for bringing in celebs for one day, who have no experience of or knowledge about Ogden or the issue under discussion to hype their real estate speculation at the cost of the city's largest and most popular park [28% of all the city's parkland.] If you [if it was you who visited] or whoever it was wants to come back, inform himself about the issues and joint the discussion, you are welcome. But a one day fly-in to hype a real estate speculation which turns on selling off the city's largest park to a real estate speculator pal of the mayor is not likely to be welcomed by those with doubts about the project as a serious contribution to the discussion.

If you [if it was you] or whoever came was treated rudly, that was unfortunate and indefensible. But please don't try to suggest that a total stranger winging in to hype a real estate speculation opposed by a significant number of the citizens constitutes serious "dissent" or discussion.

PRODUCER said...

Of course I was "Producer", and yes, the kind of invective that is published on this blog about any dissent, be it critical of outside interest, is rude and uncalled for. If you truly love your city, take a walk down your beautiful river, just west of Wall, and take a look at the neglect, the garbage heap your local environmentalists have under your noses. Shame ... if the people on this blog took half of the time it takes to write this invective on "change" and organized a clean and green in your own community, we who see what potential you have in your community wouldn't fly in with our new ideas, and yes, a few "friends" that have celebrity.
Clean up what you have before you attack what might be.

Curtis B. said...

Troll flame removed by administrator.

Curmudgeon said...

Dear Producer:

Perhaps your comments about how dirty the city is would be better directed at our Mayor who seems to be spending most of his time these days promoting his pal's real estate speculation. Last time I looked, keeping the city clean was one of the responsibilities of the city government, which he heads.

Or you could talk to the many people who each year volunteer their time to clean up the Ogden river course and remove accumulated trash and debris. Or the others, many many of them [some of whom post here] who volunteer their time to construct and maintain the trails in the city --- many of the most popular of which will be obliterated if your fly-in. fly-out advice is followed.

As for ideas, once again, if you'd take the time to learn something about the city and its residents and its current disputes, you might learn that others besides those who bring in a one-day visitors to hype their real estate speculations have spent some time thinking about their city, and its needs, and how life and business here might be improved. I suggest you begin at www.smartgrowthogden.org. It will take some time, since Ogdenites who maintain the site have spent months collecting and posting information, studies, ideas, and the like, and linking to a great many others.

Sorry, but you won't be able to master it in a single day, so it may not be your kind of thing after all.

Curmudgeon said...

Curtis B:

I don't give a damn where a good idea comes from. It can come from a Rastafarian fundamentalist from Portland now living in Paducah, for all I care. Producer's comments were ignorant because they were uniformed, but where he was born, where he lives now, and what religion or ethnicity he may be have nothing whatsoever to do with it.

PRODUCER said...

Wow ... Curtis B. How horrible!Good bye, Ogden.
I tried. Shame!

caddyhack said...

Producer,

I agree with you about the disgraceful condition of our river. A thorough clean-up is a good idea.

But you're way out of line to come here and promote selling our city owned, 18 hole championship golf course, plus a large part of our beautiful park, to a real estate speculator so that he can change it all into a housing development and private golf course for rich people.

Los Angeles has 2 excellent city owned golf courses at Griffith Park "the largest municipal park and urban wilderness area in the United States". Would you advocate selling Griffith Park to a real estate speculator? Try floating that idea over to the good people of L.A.

Oh, and be sure and promote the idea without any factual information or independent experts to back up all of the assertions you will be making. A formal business plan is probably unnecessary either. All you need is a bunch of cheerleaders and a mayor in your pocket.

Produce some factual information before you talk about what "might be". Produce some experts, rather than an actor, if you advocate selling our golf course. Dude, get real!

paul said...

Anon Too....Last night a young LO, with good manners, BTW, said..."so what if the gondola fails? What's the worst that can happen? We'd just have to clean up that ugly s***, (towers, etc)". True, but at OUR expense? Remember, Peterson hasn't said he would "maintain", only "operate" the gondola!

Peterson isn't interested in building HIS gondola...nor is he interested in building his resort. He already knows it won't fly...his father-in-law rejected that idea, and Peterson knows it.

Peterson may not be the astutest guy on the block, but he sure has the little lord figured out. He sensed early on that the little man is searching for a legacy...wanting to be 'first in the world', 'first in the country', first in the hearts of his countrymen...wait...wrong speech!

So, Chris sells little guy on a WORLD'S FIRST GONDOLA GOING THROUGH A HOTEL AND THROUGH THE TOWN TO A.....SKI RESORT! Wow, and double that wow!

Well, of course the legacy seeking ego driven little jerk falls for it. So does HIS father-in-law, who is also looking for HIS legacy.

All Peterson wants is some prime land to have one of his or the mayor's construction company cronies build his expensive and exclusive footprints.

I'm tempted to send Godfrey, Peterson and this administration some T shirts that have a masked and caped stick figure with 'SSSSS....
screwing, stealing, scamming and 'stickin' it to Ogden.'

Too often we hear the LO's say, "well, we have to do SOMEthing! Anything to get Ogden on it's feet". That's how spoiled little kids whine at the toy store.
"I want that water gun." 'no, sonny, there aren't anymore'. "I want a cowboy hat!"....'no, you'll have to pick something else.'...."I want...., uh,...(looks around frantically), I want...uh....THAT!" The kid doesn't care WHAT it is he gets...he just wants SOMEthing...anything.

real californian said...

WHO is this phony "Producer"....sounds queer to me. He IS from L.A., right?

Can't you just see him rolling his eyes, and mincing around with a limp wrist on his hip?

Or, is that just one of our cute local gays....GUYS... trying to fool us? You big silly, you.

Are we really supposed to believe that you came to Ogden to attend a little blip of a rally, and you were driven to WEST of Wall Avenue?? Why? Either you really are a local, or you were given your lines and you've memorized the script. What ev er precious, you ain't gonna get an Oscar.

But, thank you so much, queenie, for trying to help us.

jimmy said...

Hey, Calif.

You nailed that producer.

"Oh How horrible!"

Sounds like a real sissy to me too.

More like a friend of Mayor Rocky A.

caddyhack said...

I would like to request an end to the name calling. It’s childish; extremely rude; serves no purpose and encourages bigotry.

I wish to clarify my remarks about the river. There are many areas of the Ogden River that are real nice, but there is much clean-up and restoration that needs to be done. The junk yards should be moved away from the river. Dead cars and their fluids belong elsewhere.

I would like to thank Dorrene Jeske for doing a tremendous job. I would also like to thank our firefighters and police officers for all their hard work and loyalty. I’m disgusted that the city refused to raise their pay to a respectable level, but awarded an open ended, cost-plus contract to R & O. That’s known as a gravy train in the trades.

Perfect. The firefighters and police officers get squat, while there’s an R & O gravy train at The Junction. Why wasn’t the R & O contract put out to bid? Something smells fishy and it’s not the river.

cookie monster said...

I like cookies

Curmudgeon said...

Caddyhack wrote:

I would like to request an end to the name calling. It’s childish; extremely rude; serves no purpose and encourages bigotry.

Exactly.

sharon said...

Comment moved to front page.

dian said...

We now have the reason for the Ogden City Council's refusal to reopen the issue of police and fire salaries. From an AP article published this morning in the Salt Lake Tribune, taken from the Standard Examiner:

OGDEN, Utah - The Ogden City Council has refused to reconsider requiring firefighters and police to score higher on performance evaluations than other municipal employees to receive a maximum merit pay increase...
   
   ... Under an ordinance adopted in February, the rule, city workers who belong to the Utah Alliance of Governmental Employees and score 3 or higher on performance evaluations automatically receive 5 percent merit increases.
   
...Police and firefighters must score at least a 3 to receive a 2 percent merit raise and at least a 4 to get the maximum 5 percent increase.
   
Councilman Rick Safsten said reconsideration of the ordinance would damage the process that the board has approved for negotiating with employee organizations.


Ogden Refuses to consider merit pay rule

Curmudgeon said...

Dian:

He [Safsten] has a point. If those negotiating with the city believe they can go to the Council for a better deal than they are getting from those appointed to negotiate on behalf of the city, the formal negotiations themselves could become virtually meaningless. "We'll take it to the council!" could become the response at every negotiating bottleneck.

Does that mean the Council should never change anything in a negotiated agreement? No. The Council does have oversight responsibilities, and it should not be simply a rubber stamp in such matters, blindly accepting the recommendations of the city negotiator.

Is the standard for applying merit raises for policemen an issue of such import that it merits the council altering the ordinance draft they approved two weeks ago? That's the point on which the disagreement arises. Ms. Jeske clearly thinks the answer is yes. {As do I.) Clearly Mr. Safsten [and the Council majority] thinks the answer is no. I don't think either position is, on its face, necessarily an unreasonable or irresponsible one to take. I just find Jeske's reasoning on this more persuasive than the Council majority's.

A much better way to deal with this would be, I think, for the Mayor [if he can find a few moments not taken up by shilling for his friends' real estate specualtions] and the Council to reexamine how the city negotiates with its workers. The "strategy" [politely so called] adopted by the city negotiator this time round --- place an offer on the table and refuse to negotiate anything; reply to all offers by the other side by simply re-stating your initial offer --- is not, I think , particularly effective one. Not if your goal is to have both a contract the city administation can live with and good labor relations [particularly important when the "laborers" involved are firemen and policemen I would think.]

Labor negotiations can be tough. Creating the impression on the part of labor that management is not negotiating at all simply makes them a lot tougher. A good negotiation process leaves both sides convinced they have gained by the negotiation and the final contract. From what I can see, the City's negotiating method failed miserably to do that. Perhaps the whole process needs to be looked at again with an eye to improving it, and making it work better for the city and its employees. But from what I've seen, looking back over the history of the labor movement and labor negotiations, management taking the position of "my way or the highway" rarely results in good results.

Something in the process seesm to me to be out of kilter and it needs fixing.

sharon said...

The Se printed the same article.

Yes, something is amiss, Curm.

But, to go along with status quo just because it's always been done that way is wrong.

Only Ms Jeske, and Amy Wicks earlier, know that.

It was a disappointment that Wicks did not vote with Jeske, since she was the only dissenting vote the week before! Also, even though Glassman has been ill, surely he was keeping up with paperwork and knew the issues. He's an intelligent man. When the council went into closed exec session to discuss this, he had enough info to vote.

He abstained. I wonder how the firefighters and police interpret that? Neither for or against. Useless.

t-rex said...

So much speculation these days. Who is (was) this so-called "Producer" who feels he can slip in here, say a few words, and tell us what we need to do to our city? Is this the guy who made "Jaws III?" Been to L.A. lately? Either of these cause me to wonder about this guy and gives me cause for concern. He claims he "tried." But he "tried" to do what? Credentials, DUDE, credentials. Clean up your mess before you try to clean up ours.

Safsten, probably utilizing his experience and veteran position on the City Council, was heard to say that he felt that the Closed Session would take an inordinate amount of time to get through, causing everyone in those hallowed Chambers a long, tedious and painful wait in order to make his or her comments. He was right, as the Closed Session went on for about an hour or more. Many times I have heard those in attendance ask, "Why don't they allow us to make our comments BEFORE they retire to a Closed Session and make us wait?" Let's all settle down, now, hear? Besides, this actually turned on Safsten, for I'll bet the table-limit that if the LO mob had to have waited through the Closed Session, many would have left and all present, the Council, Staff, Administration and Public would have been spared the repititious, ad nauseum comments of the so-called good that the gondola may bring to Ogden and that the Council should take the next step and vote for it. Now next in line will be Smart Growth and I'm certain there will be just as many good people hit the podium to present their negative comments about the gondola.

Unsubstantiated claims from both sides. Madness prevails.

As for Sharon and her take on today's lead Editorial, nobody can do right by this woman. The Editorial was fine. It suggested that everyone take a "chill pill" regarding this gondola thing that is so divisive. There is absolutely NOTHING of a formal nature in front of the Council or the Administration or the Public! Only a "concept" has been presented to ANYONE, with a pro side (LO)that markets above and beyond the line of reason and a con side (SMO) that offers no economically viable alternative.

As for the Fire and Police, my take is that they get their raises if their job performance is up to certain Standards. Considering the jobs they do, I hope that they are up to these Standards. However, I don't believe that some so-called punishment factor, something that the Standard Examiner claims to have reared its ugly head due to this impasse, should enter to any rank and file or collective bargaining negotiation.

Pass me a bunch of those "chill pills" so I can hand them out.

ArmySarge said...

I agree wholeheartedly with Caddyhack - stop the _)*)(&*(^)(* name calling!!! I really think we can keep these discussions on an adult, intelligent level.

ArmySarge said...

I agree wholeheartedly with Caddyhack - stop the _)*)(&*(^)(* name calling!!! I really think we can keep these discussions on an adult, intelligent level.

Curmudgeon said...

T-Rex:

Welcome aboard. Sorry to see though that several of your statements are, I think, factually incorrect.

For example, you wrote:

Unsubstantiated claims from both sides. Madness prevails.

I'd like to know, please, what claims by SGO you find "unsubstantiated." They seem to make a point on their website of documenting and sourcing their statments. If you have found SGO claims that are unsubstantiated, I'd like to know what they are, please.

You also wrote: Only a "concept" has been presented to ANYONE, with a pro side (LO)that markets above and beyond the line of reason and a con side (SMO) that offers no economically viable alternative.

Two points worth mentioning about that. First that SGO has taken a "con" side with respect to the gondola. SGO's position on the gondola [statement released over the weekend and reported, sort of, in this morning's paper] is that because the Peterson proposal is only a concept and a series of unsubstantiated claims about what it will achieve and because the mayor has begun the process of amending the genral plan to accommodate this [your terms] unsubstantiated concept, SGO opposes the city commiting any city assets to the plan or altering the general plan to accommodate it at this time.

The SGO statement should be on their website. [I've seen it.] You might want to pop on over and see what it actually says rather than relying on the news summary.

As for SGO offering no economically viable alternative: have you looked at the SGO website? It contains a great deal of information bearing on the question of how Ogden might spur greater growth. Look particularly at the postings there concerning the trolley system proposal. It involves a proven technology in cities that generates many millions in investment and has resulted in a great deal of business development [and creation] and residential development all along the trolley lines in city after city. You may not prefer that idea, or think another one has more merit. But it is flatly false to suggest SGO supporters have suggested no economically viable alternative.

Permit me also to note, Tex, that LO [by your own standard] has proposed no economically viable plan. Only a concept, wholly as yet unsupported.

If you've never visited the SGO webpage, I suggest you do. You can find it at www.smartgrowthogden.org

dian said...

Curmudgeon:

I agree with you that the negotiating process itself is flawed. However, your remarks about "taking it to the Council," in my opinion, really zero in on that flaw, and this flaw is present not only in the employee negotiation process, but throughout our local governmental structure.

In the mayor/council form of government, the council is the legislative branch and the mayor is the administrative branch. One way of looking at this is that the council makes the laws and the mayor administers them. This is supposed to facilitate a balance of power between these two branches of government.

The Ogden City government has not really been running with a balance of power in both branches for a long time, in my opinion. Over the years, the powers that the Ogden City Council should have have been eroded, with the result that Ogden City is top heavy insofar as the powers exercised by the administrative branch. These recent labor negotiations are a good case in point.

The Ogden City Council, as we know, has the final say on how the finances of the city are to be spent. Many times, the city administration has different ideas on how our money should be spent than does the Council.

So far, so good. This is how our government is structured---it provides for conflicting opinions on things, thereby making sure both sides are heard.

However, at some time in the past, someone somewhere gave the power to negotiate for the city in employee relations to the financial officer of the city, who is hired by the administration, and who therefore, one would think, be diligent in carrying out its wishes.

Giving that power to the city administration means that the administration and the administration only
deals directly with the employee reps and makes the offers. The Council, which, after all, does make that final budget decision, does not get to hear that information first hand during the negotiating process. It gets updates from a source that is hired by the administration, which, as we know, has its own ideas as to how our money should be spent.

So your remarks about "taking it to the Council" are probably part of what these labor organizations want to do. They want an opportunity to address the body of our local government that ultimately holds the power to allocate money to them without having to go to impasse to do it. And, under the current system, they are barred from having access to that body unless impasse is reached.

In looking at this, I am wondering if the perennial complaints we hear from the Ogden City Council that it never gets enough information is because it, at some time, gave all the powers of access to other kinds of information as well to the city administration, as it has done in the case of these employee negotiations. As we recall, one instance of which we were all aware concerning the Council attempting to obtain first hand information from an entity wanting to do business with the city, i.e. Ernest Health, resulted in one of the most vicious and long lasting smears against the Council in the media that we have seen in a long time. Evidently, quite a few people like it the way it is.

I, on the contrary, look at the status quo as being deeply flawed to the point of causing dysfunction. To put it simply, the Council is barred from access to information it needs, and in some cases, those holding that information are barred from having access to the council, except via the city administration.

Yet, the administrative arm freely participates in private meetings with employee reps and prospective developers, to name just two, and the Council/RDA sits and waits until the administration deems it timely to share that information formally with the entire body, if it ever does. Also, one would imagine, the administration is perfectly capable of deciding how much of that information it wants to share.

That, in my opinion, is where the process is "out of kilter." If the present Council wished, it could, by passing some ordinances and repealing others, get its power back. Like the power to have a part in making decisions as to whether or not to dispose of municipal property, which it gave to the mayor as recently as December, 2005, and which it might really be wishing it had now.

By a simple act of repealing or revising the '05 ordinance, it could get that power back. Perhaps by an act of revising the ordinance outlining employee negotiations, it could get access to direct information there, if it wanted it. Perhaps it could simply allow an employee rep to address it during the negotiating process, and ask some questions.

Usually, when one takes on a job in an organization as our present council members have done, the first thing one does is learn the rules of how that organization operates and work within them. However, if it becomes apparent that working within those rules renders one ineffective, especially if one is in the part of the organization empowered to make the rules, it doesn't seem to make much sense to keep attempting to follow existing rules that limit one's ability to be effective.

Perhaps the current council is happy with the status quo. In the matter of employee negotiations, at least one seems to be against "damaging" it. But if the current council is not happy with the way things are, the power to make those changes lies in its hands.

If it wished to reach out and take it.

ozboy said...

After attending Barney the Oily Attarney's little pep rally I drove by the Mall Site.

Good to see walls being built and stuff happening down there. The children's museum is also looking nice and close to moving into? Hey, the church has even dug a big old hole to start a new building on the corner. As big a fiasco as it has been for the last 5 years, it is great to see the pheonix finally rising from the ashes.

My guess on the LO crowd was 350 to 400. About 70 percent of them were clapping at the applause lines and wearing LO stickers. Some were looking like they would just as soon be somewhere else, especially the construction workers in the clean white Tshirts.

Barney was a great MC, and looked so totally awsome with his head phones around his neck as he lead the mindless cheering section and pranced around the podium like a wanna be rock star.

The most astounding moment for me was when Vicky McCall got up and bore her testimony of conversion. Seems like when she first heard about this gondola deal she was totally against it. Then she attended a few LO meetings, and ask all of the important questions and got all of the important answers. Now she has been magically transformed into a strong supporter of the gondola because - "all of the important questions have been answered and they all say "yes"!. Only a few little inconsequential side questions remain to be answered, and the oppostion is trying to make a big deal out them"
Up to that point, I had a relative positive impression of the woman. I had no idea her intellect was where it appeared to be tuesday afternoon. Very disappointing to say the least.

I also was pretty amazed at the duffus who got up and regurgitated the old Earnst lies! He even went into detail of the specific jobs and salaries that were lost due to our council running them out of town!

It is simply astounding how this LO bunch can stand up day after day and repeat the same old lies, even when it has become public knowledge that they are in fact lies. They are just so full of themselves that they cannot see the truth. They are so arrogant that it doesn't even dawn on them that people are on to the lies and manipulations.

I will sure be glad when Weber College or the City Council puts a stake through the heart of this maddness. On the other hand, I would love to ride up the mountain on a privately funded gondola. Hell I might even buy a big ol stein of German beer at that fancy Tyrollian resort - if it ever gets built - with PRIVATE money..

Curmudgeon said...

Dian:

Would argue with only one element of what you say above. Your take on the distribution of powers [legislature makes the laws, executive sees that they are faithfully executed] applies to the national and state levels, but as a rule in the US in the Mayor/Council model of government, most of the initiative lies in the hands of the mayors. By design.

The Council's role is largely [not exclusively, but largely] an oversight role. To say yes or no to executive proposals, or to amend them before making them ordinances, and to design the rules under which city government will be conducted.

I could not agree more that our previous council not only was at times reluctant to exercise much oversight, it also handed over much of its oversight powers to the executive branch... the mayor. The example you cite concerning the sale of public property is excellent evidence of just how little the previous council was interested in performing its major role in the mayor/council plan of government. Surrendering that power to the mayor... regardless of who holds the office or what the issue du jour may be --- cannot, it seems to me, be justified.

As for the negotiating process: clearly either it is flawed or the city's operation of it is flawed. Any negotiation that proceeds to "impass" with two of the three major urban unions has, by definition, failed. We have to do better. For ourselves and for the city's employees.

Part of the problem may be the general notion, very widespread in the nation just now [and especially in Utah] that government is bad, that it is usually an intrusive, expensive and largely useless element on our lives. [Something else we have to thank the wing-nut right for.] From this, it seems to follow for many that anyone employed by government is necessarily a slacker, not earing his, or her, money, is overpaid and growing fat off the tax money of those who reallywork for a living. This is nonsense in most cases, but it seems a great many people across the land think this way.

Of course, this does not for a moment prevent those same people from demanding champage services from the governments they insist on providing only beer budgets. Angry letters to the editor demanding bare to the bone city budgets, followed of course by angry letters wanting to know why it took the fire department so long to respond to a call, or where were the police when my house was broken into, or why hasn't my street been repaved, or why can't the city get my street plowed before 7AM so I can get to work on time, or why aren't the schools the best in the nation, etc. etc. etc.

But I have no solutions for this problem. So long as "government" remains the target of so many talk shows... and even politicians desperatly running for office, trying to become part of the government they insist is not needed most of the time.... this will continue. It serves none of us well. And it often ends up leaving those who do work for the government ... in every capacity, at every level below the executive level... shortchanged.

We all want the police to be there when we need them, and we want them to be well trained, at the top of their profession. We expect and demand the same of the firement. And of all city employees. We just don't want to pay for it.

ozboy said...

Curmudgeon - I most always agree with your insight and talent in breaking down and explaining the complexities.

However, I must take a slight exception with your last post when you said:

"We all want the police to be there when we need them, and we want them to be well trained, at the top of their profession. We expect and demand the same of the firemen. And of all city employees. We just don't want to pay for it."

I think we do pay for those things you mention, and we don't mind doing so. What we do get pretty exercised over is this incredible waste of public money that has been the hall mark of the Godfrey administration. Over a million of our tax dollars going to support the bloated and ineffective development team, the big going away bonus to the mayor's buddy Reid, the many thousands being spent on this promotion campaign to benefit a crony, millions lost on dubious schemes dreamt up by this gang of incompetents. That's what gets us riled, not paying a decent living wage to our finest men and women in public safety and service.

Curmudgeon said...

Oz Boy:

I don't think we are disagreeing much. My comments about a general anti-government attitude were not aimed specifically at what is going on in Ogden, but more broadly at attitudes across the nation and in the state [though I suspect those attitudes play a role here.]

You want to campaign against government waste, sign me up. You want someone on your side to go after plush perks at the top while those below the executive levels get the leavings, where do I sign on.

But there are people out there, a surprising number of them I think, who sneer at the idea of government itself, who argue that all of it is corrupt and most of it is unnecessary. [It's funny. I've had people tell me that all government workers are overpaid and underworked. My usual reply is this: "At a time when Americans are fighting and being killed in a war overseas, I am offended at your attack on our soldiers, calling them over paid and under worked." Usually they look a little taken back and I have to remind them that every American service man and woman in Iraq and Afghanistan is a government employee.]

Government is not the enemy. Poor government is. I don't think we are far apart at all on this, OB.

bonnie lee said...

Curmudgeon -

Actually the real enemy is arrogant and disingenuous politicians and their psycophants.

sharon said...

Is the time at hand to seriously look at a mayor/city manager government for Ogden? Layton's is a model of fiscal responsibility, responsiveness to the public, and an explosion of new businesses!

Attend one of their City Council meetings and be very pleasantly surprised.

I agree, Curm. Poor gov't is the enemy...which is brought about by bad leadership and perhaps, apathy of the citizens.

RudiZink said...

"In the mayor/council form of government, the council is the legislative branch and the mayor is the administrative branch. One way of looking at this is that the council makes the laws and the mayor administers them. This is supposed to facilitate a balance of power between these two branches of government."

You've hit the nail on the head with that, Dian. And the Ogden City Council has nearly-completely and disgracefully abdicated its Utah legislatively- designated "check-and-balance role, of it own volition.

Our well-meaning friend Curmudgeon makes the specious argument that the city legislature (the council) is somehow merely relegated to being an "oversight" body under Utah law. The truth could not be further from that. He wrongly argues that the system was "designed" that way.

The state legislature has delegated the power to municipal city councils to be a true co-equal branch of city government, along with the executive branch. That's the way the legislature actually designed it.

One of the main problems with our Ogden City legislature is that, under the "direction" of City Council Director Bill Cook, the Ogden City Council has taken on the role of a "management team" for the Mayor, as opposed to a true co-equal "check and balance" against the "executive branch," which is what Utah Municipal law provides.

You blogmeister had a long, hard talk with Council Director Bill Cook on this topic about nine months ago.

I'd taken a look at the council "training manual" that he admitted he'd adopted from the Utah League of Cities and Towns.

The whole manual is designed to conform to the Utah League of Cities's neoCON concept that city councils are merely "managers" for the mayor's "team."

When I called him on it, he admitted he's adopted it from ILCT materials, and that he'd neglected to mention the [legislatively directed] "conflict model," as he labelled it.

He assured me at the time that he would correct this omission. Plainly though, he hasn't done that. It's no wonder that Godfrey considers Bill Cook to be part of the "A Team.'

One of the main problems we have with our city council, we think, is BILL COOK.

The other problem is organizational inertia.

The city council has been the mayor's lap-dog for so long, they don't comprehend any other way of doing business.

The City Council will never assert itself and re-assume its true legislatively-delegated role, unless we needle the hell out of them.

The Ogden City Council has been the mayor's patsy for going on six years. It's time they all woke up and asserted themselves.

Curmudgeon said...

Rudi:

I will defer to your longer experience with the vagaries of Utah municipal government. I will merely observe that everywhere I've lived previously where the mayor/council form of goverenment was in place, the mayor was the stronger of the two branches with respect to initiating policy, and the council's primary role seemed to have been to accept, reject or amend initiatives coming from the mayor's office. It is quite possible under that scenario to have a strong council that actively checks [as it is supposed to] unwise or risky proposals coming from the Mayor. Strong mayor, strong independant council acting as evaluator, implementor, rejector of mayorial initiatives can be [and in some places is] a very effective form of municipal government.

Of course, the advantages of that arrangement completely disappear when a council surrenders its review powers to the executive, as [apparently] our previous council did. On that, i think we both agree.

I am fascinated, though, by this training manual business, and it had not occured to me that the permanent staff had the job of training new members in their responsibilities as council persons. Nor was I aware that such a manural is availabe and supplied by an NGO. This tale just gets more and more interesting from an observer's POV as it goes on.

dian said...

Rudi, Rudi, Rudi. I do not think that browbeating people into efficiency works. (Not that that statement will stop you from trying.) I think the following might be what has happened with them.

When one walks into an unfamiliar organizational structure and begins to become a part of it, one has a lot of questions. Like---where do I find this, how do I do whatever, I need to see X document, etc. If one's predecessors had not bothered with those things, they are looked at as no longer in one's purview.

Those already in place in that structure might answer the questions--You don't need to see that, you don't need to do that--we do it, that document is privileged, etc.

When you're met with a refusal, you have one of two choices--push for it or accept what they say. In some of these environments, if you push, you are labeled as a troublemaker, and all kinds of covert retaliation might happen to keep you in your place.

I would say that most people, when first starting out, will make a sincere attempt to fit themselves into the structure rather than try to change it. Most people, when faced with an unfamiliar situation where they are having a bit of trouble, automatically assume that it is because they are new at this and just haven't learned the ropes yet. The thought that the situation itself might be set up to be conducive to one's failure is not a thought that happens right away.

In addition to this, usually in these situations it is very difficult to find the background and history of things, and it doesn't seem that those already in place think this a necessary thing to provide. I know it was a surprise to at least one of the new council members that the council had no say in the sale of municipal property. Probably the latest in a long line of such surprises.

Although we always hear that systems are best changed from within, there are two major hurdles that must be overcome before that is possible. The first is the "can't see the forest for the trees" syndrome---it is much easier to see things when you have a good vantage point than it is when you're enmeshed in them. (This is why we can see these things---we're outside of it.) And the second is that, when you're in that system, you yourself are a part of it now. If you've walked into a situation and have been told that "That's the way we do things," give it a little time and you become part of that "we," and basically accept that---That's the way we do things.

Then you really won't think about changing anything.

It's really tough. We here on the outside thought that the people we elected would go in there and make some of those internal changes. What we didn't consider is that once in, they would become a part of a very deeply entrenched system, and would accept that the system facilitates their ability to do their jobs. That they might not view the system itself as the limitation that I think, at least in some areas, that it is.

Maybe what we should do is start a list of things that the Council could do to once again become the equal power that it's supposed to be. I'm sure we could all come up with a few things.

sharon said...

kinda like the frog in the WARM vat of water that became hotter and hotter, and the frog didn't jump out, having become acclimated, he just boiled to death.

ozboy said...

Dian

You can start the list of what the council could do to reclaim their rightful place at the table of city government and public honor with the following:

Replace Bill Cook or at least educate him as to who the people elected, and who works for who.

Replace Godfrey as RDA executive director with a competent MBA with experience in these matters.

Pass an ordinance revoking the ordinances that gave all the property sales power to Godfrey.

Re-exam all city ordinances to itentify and eliminate other similiar abortions that have been snuck in.

Re-open the Reid severance package case and follow what the law dictates.

Investigate their own powers and responsibilities and conduct themselve's accordingly in the future.

Inform the mayor that business as usual has ended and from now on the city will be run by the book.

Inform the mayor that as long as he shows them the proper respect that he will get the same from them.

Read their own campaign promises to the citizens and keep them.

Every bit of this is well within their powers - if they have the courage, integrity and belief in the democratic system that they are an elected part of.

sharon said...

AMEN, OB...AMEN! JUST THE WAY TO START TO REGAIN AUTHORITY AND STOP BEING THE LAPDOGS OF THE MAYOR ALA THE FORMER COUNCIL WHO WERE LARGELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THESE USURPATIONS OF POWER.

flyonthewall said...

Bill Cook, the villian? Nonsense. He's more a thorn in the Mayor's side than an ally. One only need attend a Work Session or drop in for a day to day, business as usual session at the council office to see that. I have to smile at thise "hang Cook out to dry" mentality, especially when it's being offered with no frame of refernece.

Rudizink has been beating this drum for months, yet he hardly shows at council meetings and never comes to a work session. It appears that his premise was developed over a nine month old phone call. Cook should be tarred and feathered over that. Right. Some people should get a grip, especially those who deem themselves so damned astute.

Cook's the best thing the council has going.

ARCritic said...

Dian said:When you're met with a refusal, you have one of two choices--push for it or accept what they say. In some of these environments, if you push, you are labeled as a troublemaker, and all kinds of covert retaliation might happen to keep you in your place.

I know from experiance of what you say. I wanted to quote Dian's entire post because truer words have rarely been written. And remember, to make change in the council you must have a majority. One or two people recognising these things won't do it. At least in Ogden there is staff that actually works for the council but they have to be reeducated every now and again.

And believe it or not it is not the form of government that makes the difference between a well run city and Ogden. It is the people doing the running. That includes all the elected officials and the senior staff.

OB: your list looks like a good start except for a couple things, again with the mayor as Ex Dir. it is the people not the structure. And the Reid deal, unless you can figure a way to have standing to sue yourself you may want to quit beating that dead horse. No current council member should waste any political capital trying to unwind that mess. It is simply not worth the effort to dredge that up.

Your other points though do have some merit.

One problem with change though is that it takes lots and lots of effort and things still have to get done in the mean time which leaves little time to effect that change. Not that it can't be done but even if the council devoted significant time to it, it would still take a lot of time and other important things would suffer too.

dian said...

These are great posts--great points, everybody. Arcritic, you have a good point about the people involved vs the structure being at fault. In all my foragings through the Utah Code, etc., I have developed a very high regard for that structure. In our case, people have tampered with that original structure---case in point, the giving up of various council rights that they did have once--and so the structure we have now is not as it was originally, and in my opinion, not as it should be.

Regarding Bill Cook, I have seen him go to bat for the council, too. And I have seen other things that I find puzzling. But rather than discuss him personally, maybe it would be better to discuss what role he should fill. I would think that one in his position should not only facilitate the council, but protect it, like an advisor with one's best interests at heart would do. For instance, in the best of all possible worlds, if he saw the Council poised to give up a right, he would say something like---I would strongly advise that you think about that, because you might want to exercise that right some day.

Would there be immediate shouts of "Off with his head?" Would this be improper or out of line? I have no idea. But one has to admit, he is the one with the most knowledge in that room, and I would think that he would use it in the best interests of the Council. They have to have an advocate somewhere.

Ozboy's points are really good, I think. But I totally agree with Arcritic that the amount of day to day business these people have to get through is astounding. Bury them in paper, have them attend meeting after meeting, and then also expect them to have the time to sit back and review their own position as a body?

Like I said, it's a tough one. Can and should be done, however, in my opinion.

Loved the frog in boiling water, Sharon! That says it all.

flyonthewall said...

Did any of you who have taken up criticizing Bill Cook attend the CC meeting wherein the Mayor presented his Mt. Ogden Community Plan? If so, do you remember that Cook immediately objected and would not allow the Mayor to go unchallenged (a big news article about it the next day, accurate, but not many patted anyone, not Cook or the Standard on the back for this, thereby letting the whole issue twist in the wind). Then, and this had been in process for some time, even though the Budget was the main focus due to State mandated time constraints (surprise, there's more going on than the damned gondola folks), the Council, due to Cook & Staff, unveiled it's MOCP via the "Discover Ogden" concept and guidelines.

Criticism of governmental officilas comes with the territory, and that's part of our deomocratic process. It's fine. I only wish such criticism came from a better frame of reference, one that could be supported instead of one that's basically imagined and wanted because of issues that might go in a direction that seems a bit foreign to the ones who don't see the entire picture.

Curmudgeon said...

Fly:

You wrote Criticism of governmental officilas comes with the territory, and that's part of our deomocratic process. It's fine. I only wish such criticism came from a better frame of reference, one that could be supported instead of one that's basically imagined and wanted because of issues that might go in a direction that seems a bit foreign to the ones who don't see the entire picture.

Well said. Good point. Folks [myself included] tend, sometimes, to look at a single action or statement of someone in public office [elected or appointment] and to try to draw large conclusions from that single act, or vote or comment, about their integrity, independence, intelligence, etc. As you note, most things said and done happen in a broad [and often complex] context which may not be readily apparent. Over time, looking at a series of actions, votes, statements, it's possible to reach some sound conclusions about a person, or say the Council as a body. But it's dicey, I agree, to draw large conclusions from one or two actions or statements.

ozboy said...

Arcritic

Are you proposing that the council just simply turn its back on a potential felony crime that cost the tax payers $44,000 simply because it happened a few months ago and was swept under the rug by the then sitting rubber stamp council in a move to protect Godfrey and Reid?

Are you saying that the independant legal opinion on this transaction, that the citizens paid for, should remain hidden under that same rug? Is that how they do it in Riverdale?

The Reid deal stunk to high heaven when it happened, and it still reeks of cronyism and corruption.

Considering the current tap dance between the mayor and Chriss Peterson, I think we can see a definate MO here. FOM (friends of Matt) get sweet insider deals at the expense of the tax payers. The tax payers in return are served up a platter of false promises poured over the main course of tripe.

RudiZink said...

Yes! The frog in boiling water analogy was right on the money!

Perhaps our friend fly-on-the-wall will give it some thought, the next time he deigns to make an appearance at a council meeting or work session.

Thanks for the excellent comments, Curmudgeon, Dian, Sharon, Ozboy, ARCritic and the others who've chimed in on this touchy topic.

And an aside to Curmudgeon:

The Bill Cook-authored training manual that I referred to is available for inspection in the Ogden City Council offices. For a real eye-opener, why not drop in and take a look at it some time when you and the Mrs. are prowling the Ogden Downtown area?

Curmudgeon said...

Rudi:

The Mrs., being a far more diligent and worthwhile member of society than I am, is normally at work during business hours. My work schedule, however, is all over the lot. Now that I know the manual is there, I will find the time to take a look. Thanks for the pointer.

flyonthewall said...

The fly goes to Work Sessions much of the time. A pity that Rudi does not. If he did, he'd maybe see something if he opened his eyes and took a look. If one "deigns" to attend these Thursday night sessions, one might see the guidance offered by Bill Cook when the Council gets stopped cold in its trakcs with a "deer in the headlights" issue. One might also see how Bill Cook challenged EACH & EVERY questionable aspect of the Mayor's proposed Budget, calling for explanation and ensuring that the Council both questioned and understood all figures and made changes when things were out of line.

As I've said, much would be gleaned if those who criticise would "deign" to attend a couple of these sessions themselves instead of manufacturing reasons to fire Bill Cook. Were that to happen, the City would be in dire straights. No, the answer is not in the replacement of Cook, and the frog analogy doesn't seem to hold much "water," even though it appears that some who are jumping on this band wagon are practicing what they preach but seem content at dog-paddling around there own little self absorbed pots themselves.

ARCritic said...

As I said before Ozboy, if it is such an important issue for you then find a lawyer to help you sue the mayor, council, city and Reid. Those with responsibility have looked at it and determined that either it wasn't a crime or that it isn't going to be worth throwing good money after bad. As for the legal opinion that the council asked for. My understanding was that they never received it. They might know what is in it but there would be some degree of client/lawyer confidentiality. And since they didn't actually get an opinion there would be nothing to provide to the public.

I am not saying you are wrong but unfortunately for you, those in a position to pursue this won't or can't.

john q. public said...

What is it the Allman Brothers sung:

"Wasted words,
Often untold;
Wishful thoughts,
The only thing sold."

Certain people need to walk the walk before they attempt to talk the talk.

I wonder, if the Council sued the Mayor or took him to task over Reid would it amount to gridlock for our city? Remember Watergate amd Monica....much was accomplished by our enemies while we buried ourselves in those matters.

Ernie the Attorney said...

"And since they didn't actually get an opinion there would be nothing to provide to the public."

If any city council person is aware of the opinion of their independant lawyer (even a verbal one) that the reid severence amounts to a crime, and that council person conceals this fact, and fails to report it, such council person could be charged under Utah law as an accessory after the fact to the original crime.

There's much more at stake here than politics ArtCritic.

ARCritic said...

That is why my thought is that the opinion of the lawyer was probably going to be that not only was no law broken but that this could get ugly for the council. Better to take your lumps and learn a lesson than to continue to fight a loosing battle with the posibility of loosing even bigger.

slick said...

This is a stretch to say that any Councilmember who is "aware of the opinion" that Godfrey broke the law with his Stuart Reid severance package is like the guy who drives the get-away car during a bank hold-up is as guilty as the guy inside taking the money. The bank robbery is fact but Opinion is just that O-P-I-N-I-O-N. Nothing more.

Attorneys render opinions....they DO NOT make the laws. Lawmakers do and Juries and Judges adjudicate them, not some attorney making an opinion.

Also, there is more than one opinion on this that renders Godfrey's actions legal and just.

Maybe some citizen will challenge this in a Class Action Suit. I doubt the Council will step in as it's over and according to various ordinances, etc., it was fine, other than it bothered some anti-Godfrey folk.

Time to move on and get tha gondola up and running!

Ernie the Attorney said...

The situation is fairly simple.

Safsten ordered an opinion letter in the fall of 2005.

Once hired council was ready to write its unfavorable opinion in letter form, after verbally and informally expressing it to then council leaders Safsten and Jorgenson...

The gang-o"six-council buried the issue under the rug, concealed the informal opinion, cancelled the letter request and thus became accessories after the fact.

If Jorgensen indeed has a "plan "B," it ought to involve having the relief society ladies visiting him in Draper.

And when the relief society ladies visit Draper a year or two from now, hopefully they won't forget to visit poor Chairman Saftsten, who will no doubt be "rooming with "Bubba," the 340# homisexual Draper Rapist.

ozboy said...

This idea that we should let officials commit crimes against us and just skate free because it might cause some body some discomfort is one of the major things wrong with our government today.

We have a bunch of politicians committing crime and we have another bunch that is all to willing to look the other way because they are too chicken shit to stand up for justice and the people that elected them.

This Reid opinion letter was ordered by the council and paid for by the tax payers of Ogden. It was killed before it was written after Sasten and Jorgenson heard from the attorney what it was going to say. The rationale of course was that if it were never written it would never be a part of the public domain and the whole thing could be conveniently swept under the rug and forgotten.

If this letter that was never written was going to be favorable to, or exonerate the mayor and Reid, it would have been on the front page of the Standard.
It didn't, and it wasn't. How incriminating was that?

Another thing that is completely stupid is this friggen retort from the mindless and numb LO gang that nobody is coming up with any better ideas or schemes to solve Ogden's imaginary problems so we should all jump on board and support their idiotic scheme.

Does this mean that every time some hustler comes to town with some grandeous plan to make himself rich, that the citizens of Ogden must comply and turn over the treasury to them if we can't come up with some other competing idea? What is wrong with "NO" as an alternative idea? Like Nancy said: "Just say no". The city is about to be driven over the cliff by this goof ball scheme, do we have to come up with some other competing goof ball deal to stop the first one from happening? Just slamming on the brakes seems like the very best alternative there is.

ARCritic said...

ernie and ozboy:
You both make the assumption that the opinion was going to say that there was a crime and that is why it was cancelled. Could it be that the attorney told them that he couldn't find a good legal argument that a crime had been committed and it really wasn't worth the cost to finish the official opinion and that he would not charge the entire amount if he didn't write the formal opinion?

If you are so sure that it was a crime get your own lawyer and sue.

Anonymous said...

Artcritic

You are coming across like a dyed in the wool sleazy politician with this head up the butt routine of yours.
If the friggen opinion letter was anything but damning it would have been published. This was the gang of six we are talking about here. They had no integrity, they had no honor. They slavishly followed whatever Mayor Godfrey wanted. They commisioned the legal opinion to exonerate the mayor and Reid. When they found out that was not going to happen they killed it.

Maybe you were not around or paying attention when this happened. For you to put it on the citizens shoulders to enforce the law seem like more evasive tactics by a slippery politician. It is not our responsibilty to enforce the law. It is the duty of the district attorney and he will not do his duty because of his affiliation with the Allen family, the Godfrey inlaws and backers, all democrats like he is. If these people were republicans I could understand their corruption and self serving actions.

historian said...

Anon--they were called the "Gang of Five:" Jorgensen, Burdett, Filiaga, Safsten, and Stephenson.

Voice from the wilderness said...

Arcritic said "Could it be that the attorney told them that he couldn't find a good legal argument that a crime had been committed and it really wasn't worth the cost to finish the official opinion and that he would not charge the entire amount if he didn't write the formal opinion?

Read this a couple of time and it becomes a bit silly.

The objective of the "opinion" letter was to exonerate the mayor. Do you really think these ""team members" of Godfrey would not want that exoneration because of what it was going to cost? I mean we are only talking $500 bucks or so! Those incompetents blew that much every 30 minutes of every day. The idea that this "team" was in any way protective of, or conservative with, the public treasury is laughable. Just look at the bloated $1 million per year plus so called "Development team" drain on the taxpayers that the council so happily supported year after year. Look at their inthusiastic support of one big money losing scheme after another.

After this effort to bury the body of the crime in the Reid case failed, the old council surreptitously "tweaked" an ordinance that they thought would make it all go away. It's called sweeping it under the rug.

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that a city council cannot pass laws that negate state felony laws. And make no mistake about it, that is exactly what a very large number of people in Ogden think it was - a felony.

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