Monday, July 31, 2006

Speak Out -- It Matters

By Dian Woodhouse

The local media's non-coverage of the event described in Saturday's Weber County Forum lead article, in which the Mayor of Ogden City followed individual citizens with, one must assume, negative intentions, given the subsequent administrative leave inflicted on one of them, is a glaring example of how the news media has deteriorated. Thank heavens for Fox News, but that was one story one time, and what do we see on the front page of our local paper yesterday?

A story about two Ogden City Council members having a meeting about The Gondola. To me, today, The Gondola is not important. We discuss frequently the dichotomy between projects and infrastructure, and we are currently under a system where the human infrastructure of this city, our public safety personnel, is in trouble. And no media but this blog and Fox News is saying anything about it.

Do we or do we not have freedom of speech in this country? Do we or do we not have a free press? Do we all care, or don't we, about the possible misuse of governmental powers within our government's own organizations?

The officer now on administrative leave worked under a quota system. It may come as a surprise to some in Utah, but many states have laws prohibiting a quota system in law enforcement. It is viewed, and rightly, not as a motivation to improve performance, but as a motivation to view citizens as a money making opportunity. Someone said that it was like the city administration "putting a price on everyone's head," and that, to me, is pretty accurate.

Here in Ogden, the quota system is not some clandestine operation known only to law enforcement, as it is in some places. Rather, this quota system is written down and is a part of the merit pay system. In order to get a 5% merit raise, officers must score a 4 or higher on this scale. It's right out there, in writing, and here's part of it:

Traffic Officer:


DUI arrests when assigned as a DUI car or afternoon traffic car.

Level/Description/Value= 20

1. Assigned to DUI coverage and averages less than 1 DUI arrest per week.

2. Assigned to DUI coverage and averages less than 2, but more than 1 DUI arrests per week. (?????)

3. Averages 2 DUI arrest per assigned week: OR not assigned to afternoon Traffic/DUI car coverage.

4. Assigned to DUI coverage and averages 3 DUI arrests per week.

5. Assigned to DUI coverage and averages more than 4 DUI arrests per week.


Number of traffic citations, hazardous and non-hazardous, issued per working day.

Level Description Value=20

1. Averages less than 3 non-parking citations per day.

2. Averages less than 4 non-parking citations per day.

3. Averages 4 non-parking citations per day, with 3 of the 4 being hazardous citations.

4. Averages 6 citations per day, with 4 of the 6 being hazardous citations.

5. Averages more than 8 citations per day, with 6 of the 8 being hazardous citations.

(Above question marks mine.)
I have copied the above from the Performance Evaluation Standards (PEP) for Traffic Officers. There are other standards for Patrol Officers, Master Officers, etc. They all involve quotas.

Is it a bit clearer now why this quota system being tied to merit raises is not a good thing? Traffic officers are required by the new merit pay system to view all of us as a means to a bigger paycheck. They will not get that 5% merit raise unless they average more than 3 DUI arrests per week, and 6 citations per day, with 4 of the 6 being hazardous citations.

There are 13 traffic officers who do nothing but traffic. But the paychecks of patrol officers and master officers are tied to the quota system also.

The truck pictured at the beginning of Rudi's Saturday article is part of an effort by the Police Benefit Association to protest this quota system being tied to their paychecks. The wife of the officer currently on administrative leave allegedly was seen driving the truck by Mayor Godfrey. The administrative leave happened roughly two hours after this alleged sighting.

I think it's awesome that the police themselves are protesting this quota system being tied to their paychecks, and that it's baffling that the Ogden City Council is allowing it to continue, and most importantly, that perhaps officers who are speaking out against it on their off duty time are being penalized. If pressure is being brought to bear on those officers who are speaking out against this system, I don't think it wise or honorable that the rest of us just shrug that off and let it happen, and allow it to die a small and quiet death, unnoticed by everyone.

Post on this blog. Email WCF articles on this topic to your friends, by clicking the email icon at the foot of each article. If Weber County Forum is the only medium paying attention to this, let's just keep on doing that.

Update 7/31/06 7:05 a.m. MT: Having been "scooped" again by other local media, the Official Boss Godfrey Propaganda Organ finally (and belatedly) addresses the events reported in Saturday's WCF story in a short front-page article, apparently cobbled together last evening by reporter Janae Francis. "I am not involved in any way, shape or form with this investigation," utters Boss Godfrey... in mid-stutter.

Disowning Conservative Politics, Evangelical Pastor Rattles Flock

Weber County Forum Sunday Sermon

By Laurie Goodstein
The New York Times

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. — Like most pastors who lead thriving evangelical megachurches, the Rev. Gregory A. Boyd was asked frequently to give his blessing — and the church’s — to conservative political candidates and causes.

The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?

After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called "The Cross and the Sword" in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.
"When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses," Mr. Boyd preached. "When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross."
Other excerpts:

"More and more people are saying this has gone too far — the dominance of the evangelical identity by the religious right," Mr. McLaren said. "You cannot say the word 'Jesus' in 2006 without having an awful lot of baggage going along with it. You can’t say the word 'Christian,' and you certainly can’t say the word 'evangelical' without it now raising connotations and a certain cringe factor in people."...
"America wasn’t founded as a theocracy," he said. "America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn’t bloody and barbaric. That’s why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state."
You can read the rest of this thought-provocative article here.

Comments, gentle parishioners? Is the entanglement of some Christian sects with right-wing politics consistent with Christian philosophy? Does this story also have implications relevant to Emerald City politics?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Boss Godfrey Plays the Game of "CYA"

Van Image
Most regular Weber County Forum readers are at least vaguely aware of a 20-foot moving van that's been sighted at varous points in Emerald City, roaming the streets, or parked at strategic locations, such as the Lorin Farr Park Rodeo Stadium, or the vicinity of the downtown Municipal Bulding. The van is prominently outfitted on the back and side panels with large signs, intended to inform passing motorists of Mayor Godfrey's new traffic citation quota system, which has been discussed at some length in other articles on this site. The above cell-phone photo, submitted by one of our gentle readers, shows the back panel of the van. Similar messages are prominently displayed on the side panels.

According to a very reliable source, this van billboard project is the brainchild of members of the Ogden City Police Benefit Association, and has been funded by the donations of a hundred or so dedicated Ogden police officers. The object of the project is to inform the townsfolk of Ogden that Boss Godfrey has indeed put a price on the head of each and every citizen who navigates the city streets. There's no nice word to describe it. In his dogged obsession to turn every department in Ogden into a revenue-generating profit center, Godfrey has ruthlessly imposed a traffic citation quota system.

As is typical of Boss Godfrey, he tolerates no discussion or dissent on this issue, especially from city employees who normally cower under his imperial domination. Thus, he apparently donned his Sherlock Holmes hat last Thursday night, and conducted his own stake-out near near city hall. The van was obviously getting under his skin.

Around 7:15 p.m. he got lucky. At that time, the van, which had been parked at 26th and Harrison earlier in the day, was moved by one of the police officers' wives, and parked on the west side of Washington Boulevard (in front of the Municipal Building.) Super-sleuth Godfrey was right behind the van in his own vehicle, gesticulating and glaring at the officer's wife as she exited the van. Whether he spotted the van when it arrived downtown, or followed it from 26th & Harrison is unclear. (His residence is less than a block from the 26th & Harrison location.)

In a nutshell, the keen-eyed and incensed Boss Godfrey ultimately observed the policeman's spouse enter her own private vehicle, and subsequently depart from the Municipal Building area. Godfrey apparently "ran" the license number through the police vehicle ID system. (Whether the use of the computerized system in this instance and for this purpose is highly questionable.)

Finding that the private vehicle was registered to one of Ogden's Finest, Godfrey summarily ordered the watch commander to place officer Matt Jones on administrative leave within an hour or two. A lieutenant from the OPD arrived at Officer Jones' home by 9:00 p.m., to relieve Officer Jones of his weapon, badge, duty belt and Police vehicle. Formal "disciplinary action" is pending. There can be little doubt that this summary action, occuring in the dark of night, was precipitated solely by the previously-described event.

What's important to note is that all of these described activities, whether undertaken on the part of individual police officers, or by interested civilian citizens, have been done on off-duty time with the utilization of purely private resources. Elsewhere in America, public employees have the freedom to engage in off-duty political activity. This is even the law in Utah, per Utah Code Section 10-3-1108. Unfortunately, this appears NOT to be the condition in our bizarre little corner of the planet -- Matt Godfrey World -- where Boss Godfrey rules with an iron fist, by means of whimsical and paranoiac edicts conceived via metaphysical "visions" from his Exalted Throne on Nine.

In an intriguing aftermath to this pathetic above-described melodrama, Boss Godfrey has now apparently discussed this matter with his own legal staff, and has been belatedly informed that his actions taken on Thursday night were highly illegal. In his statement on Fox 13's news segment last night, he backtracks (with a completely straight face,) and NOW takes the position that the summary actions taken against the officer late Thursday night had "nothing at all to do" with the above described events. Whatever disciplinary action that's being taken against Officer Jones is directed at some other earlier misconduct committed by this officer, Boss Godfrey alleges. That's Godfrey's story, at least. Meanwhile, Boss Godfrey and his slavish minions rifle through Officer Jones's personnel file, hoping to dredge up something that will "stick." In military circles it's called "Covering Your Ass."

We've been "sitting" on this story since around 10:00 Thursday night, assembling facts and interviewing people with direct knowledge of this event, and were not yet quite ready to publish an article on this topic. Inasmuch as Fox 13 News "broke" this storly last night though, thus stimulating some discussion in the previous comments section, we are posting an article here, in order to entertain a "dedicated thread" on this topic.

We will update this article as the facts develop. Meanwhile, have at it folks. Please feel free to offer your comments and any additional information to which you may be privy.

Update 7/29/06 12:29 p.m. MT: We have just received confirmation from a highly-reliable source. Boss Godfrey's request for vehicle information was processed directly through police dispatch. Chief Greiner's voice is reportedly identifiable on the tape. This would tend to negate Boss Godfrey's Fox 13 News statement that he actually recognized Officer Jones, and would tend to support the logical inference that Godfrey may have needed to improperly utilize the vehicle identification system, (for purely political purposes) in order to identify Officer Jones's private vehicle. The plot sickens.

Update 7/31/06 7:35 a.m. MT: The Std-Ex finally gets around to reporting on this story, and the story headline gets it right, at least: Ogden officer under investigation; wife accused of protesting ticket policies. Reporter Janae Francis's Sunday evening phone interview with our Mayor apparently left Boss Godfrey on the verge of stammering.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Another Boss Godfrey "No-Brainer"

By Rudizink

About a week ago one of our gentle readers made a prophetic comment under our earlier Turning Outrage into Action article:

Okay everyone Boss Godfrey is at it again flexing his muscle showing everyone in the police department who’s in charge. But this time he is messing with the safety of every citizen of Ogden as well as the safety of the police.

Let me fill you in on some news. back on the 4th of July when we had all the festivities at the rodeo ground, Boss Godfrey arrived and immediately started to berate one of the lieutenants from OPD who had arranged the officers for this event. See Boss Godfrey, in his infinite wisdom, felt there were two many officers present and didn’t like it. He wanted them sent home. This lieutenants held firm and Godfrey left sulking.

Until today when he issued an executive order stating that he was now in charge of deciding how many officers are needed for any special event. Now correct me if I’m wrong does Godfrey have any law enforcement experience? Why is he making the decision on something like this? Why because he doesn’t want to spend money to keep the citizens of Ogden safe. He’d rather have a riot and take his chances with a few officers than spend the extra money for overtime.
"Officer's Wife" followed this up with a plea to inform the Emerald City Townsfolk:

We need to get this information out so someone can stop him before it’s too late. Does anyone have any ideas on what we should do? Maybe contact the Standard and have them do a story?
And the Standard-Examiner is Johnny-on-the Spot this morning with another timely Scott Schwebke investigative journalism masterpiece, reporting on this very topic. Godfrey's solution to the problem of diverting OPD Justice Court Revenue Agents traffic cops to special event crowd control? Certify event promoters to manage their own danged crowds.

We think this solution is truly a "no-brainer," in the least possibly flattering definition of the term. And we swear we are not making any of this up. We have this Schwebke story to prove it, after all.

We know we'll feel much more safe and secure now, when attending Emerald City special events -- especially the next time an old-fashioned Emerald City riot breaks out.

What about it, gentle readers? Isn't it great to be "blessed" with a Mayor who's a "natural" expert on EVERYTHING?

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Stockholm Syndrome? Council Notes 7.26.06

By Dian Woodhouse

A definite feeling of camaraderie among Council members this evening. Perhaps this was because they had all ridden in the 24th of July Parade, which unfortunately I did not attend. Neither, it turns out, did Councilman Safsten, who apologized for this omission at the end of the meeting, whereupon Councilman Glasmann mentioned that they had kept announcing him in spite of his absence. One had visions of an empty convertible being driven down Washington Boulevard as an announcer fruitlessly called out Councilman Safsten's name. Could this be?

Mikel Vause for the Ogden Trails Network was the first speaker. The Trails Network's sunset date was up for extension, and Mr. Vause reported upon the accomplishments and goals of the organization, first thanking the Ogden City Council for allocating $10,000 for trail building and maintenance.

Read Dian's full article.

Biased editorializing comments: A few disturbing things. I am always disturbed by over regulation, and the regulation of tree species and their planting techniques seems a bit extreme. Ditto the new storm water pollution ordinance. I keep thinking there should be a better way to do this than making laws about it, charging fees, demanding permits, and fining people, some of whom, after all, will be constructing things and planting trees on their own private properties. I would really hope that the city work individually with people, rather than bullyingly enforcing ordinances. You know what I mean.

The new subdivision ordinance, where the Mayor, not the Council, holds public hearings. Further erosion of Council powers, it appears.

Also, a possible agenda item for the new Youth Council was the submission of a Youth Master Plan for the city. I personally object to the micro-management of urban inhabitants, and the thought that the Youth Council might be a training ground for a new group of future micro-managers is unsettling.

But these things are simply indicative of my opinions of what government should do (and not do,) as opposed to these others. And, like I said, there was a feeling of friendship there tonight. Even though I differ quite often with the proceedings, and am, shall we say, sometimes somewhat critical, I also find more than a few positive things. Good questions. Obvious concern. A few wonderfully comic moments.

I wonder if this is the Stockholm Syndrome.

As always, corrections, additions, and comments are very welcome.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Heart of the Mormon Trek - Updated

Deseret Morning News editorial

Years ago, a history teacher proclaimed he loved history because once you learn it, it doesn't change. You've got it. It's constant.

But that was then.

Today, history — and the interpretation of history — is more changeable than the weather. Witness the recent "revisionist" views of the Mormon pioneers. The story surrounding the rescue at Martin's Cove has undergone a complete overhaul. And the story about the valley's solitary cedar tree from 1847 has been pinched and prodded like a patient.

As the world changes, perspectives on the past change with it. And sometimes sorting reality from impression can be a task.

Still, a few things will always remain set in stone. And one of those things is the amazing resolve and resilience of those early Saints as they trudged West from Illinois. The stories surrounding that journey may be tweaked and tuned up from time to time, but their breathtaking faith and accomplishment remains as solid as granite. Only true believers with the stamina of oxen and the commitment of front-line soldiers could have done it. And in the modern world — filled as it is with recreation, fast-food franchises and entertainment — people fear we may never see their like again.

People may be right.

Still, if today's historians — both amateur and professional — have created some confusion and concerns about the pioneer trek, through exhaustive research they have also been able to personalize the lives and trials of those original settlers. In the sifting of records and reports, many individual stories of triumph and sacrifice have surfaced. Once viewed as a movement en masse — like the Children of Israel in the wilderness — the Mormon pioneer saga is now, more than ever, a tale filled with people who have names, faces, families and personal histories of their own.

The dead at Martin's Cove are no longer anonymous. The specific names and families have been fleshed out and filled in with humanity. And as Latter-day Saints have dug into their own personal histories, they have uncovered entire biographies of those who made the trek west. The pioneers are no longer faceless forms but people with feelings and fears and stories to tell. And it is those stories — copied into journals, diaries, letters and notes — that will remain the lifeblood of the pioneer tale, long after historians have weighed in with their adjustments.

It was a story filled with faith and fortitude.

It is still that today. And it will be so forever.

Update 7/24/06 8:23 p.m. MT (Per our own Dian): Okay, time for fun!

Click the link below, scroll down, and on the sidebar to the left are the winning Mormon parody songs, which you can then click on and listen to in MP3 format. My favorite so far is "Temple Square Plaza, but I haven't heard them all yet--just had to quit listening and share.

Parody winner embraces quirks: 'That's the Mormons'

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sunday Sermon -- Arrested Bush Dissenters Eye Courts

By Rudizink

We stumbled upon an eye-opening July 22, 2006 Associated Press article on the Forbes Magazine website a couple of days ago:

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - When school was canceled to accommodate a campaign visit by President Bush, the two 55-year-old teachers reckoned the time was ripe to voice their simmering discontent with the administration's policies.

Christine Nelson showed up at the Cedar Rapids rally with a Kerry-Edwards button pinned on her T-shirt; Alice McCabe clutched a small, paper sign stating "No More War." What could be more American, they thought, than mixing a little dissent with the bunting and buzz of a get-out-the-vote rally headlined by the president?

Their reward: a pair of handcuffs and a strip search at the county jail.

Authorities say they were arrested because they refused to obey reasonable security restrictions, but the women disagree: "Because I had a dissenting opinion, they did what they needed to do to get me out of the way," said Nelson, who teaches history and government at one of this city's middle schools.
You can read the rest of the article here.

How about it, gentle readers? are there local implications here? Is it OK for Boss Godfrey to rent out public parks and sidewalks, and allow private promoters to engage in viewpoint discrimination? What about the First Amendment? Is it alright to single out and ban the discussion of the gondola topic at the Farmers' Market, for instance, while politicians and political wonks of all other stripes and issues continue to stroll the event freely, peddling their own pet political issues and causes?

Comments are invited, as always.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Boom Times Coming to Emerald City

By Rudizink

Northern Utah newspapers are all abuzz this morning, with announcements of established multinational corporate heavyweights relocating or expanding in and around Ogden. We are linking these stories here, here and here.

First and foremost in local importance among these stories is the report that the nation's second-largest food distributor, U.S. Food Services, Inc., may be building a new distribution center on Emerald City's west side. If this project actually comes to fruition, once the final horse-trading is done, it would add 225 real jobs to our local economy. (The only remaining sticking point in the negotiations, we would presume, would be mutual agreement on appropriate architectural design, consistent with our city's new new "South Tyrolian" theme. )

Boss Godfrey is quoted in the Jeff DeMoss Std-Ex article as saying he's been working like a dog to make this deal happen. In this connection, Weber County County Forum gives hizzoner a tip of the hat, and congratulates him for his efforts in this regard. It is encouraging at the very least to know that "Mighty Matt" occasionally diverts his attention from his main obsession (converting our city into a giant amusement park) for mundane matters such as bringing 225 non-speculative, full-time, non-seasonal and lucrative (192% of median income) jobs to our fair city. We also hope he'll put the gondola dream on the back burner for a while, and continue to apply his full obsessive-compulsive impulses toward landing this fantastic economic development plum... and others like it.

And we were elated to learn that local employment mega-icon Kimberly-Clark will definitely be adding forty new jobs to its Weber Industrial Park facility. This is particularly encouraging news, inasmuch as K-C is simultaneously cutting 6,000 jobs worldwide, in conjunction with a general corporate reorganization and consolidation. Obviously, K-C is aware that Weber County assembly line workers are the best diaper makers in the world. At this rate, our dreams may come true: Weber County may well become the diaper manufacturing capital of the world -- the "Diaper Hub" -- and the only diaper manufacturing county on the planet with a possible gondola connection to a third-class, low-altitude, sun-drenched western-facing ski resort.

Not to be lost in the shuffle, we link here another Jeff DeMoss story. Scott USA, which inked a pact to relocate last August, is definitely now ready to begin operations in its gigantic new BDO facility.

Boom times are coming to Emerald City. Can't you just feel the "buzz?"

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Turning Outrage Into Action

By Rudizink

Any lingering doubts about the true motives of Boss Godfrey's administration in connection with 2006 police and firefighter salary "negotiations" were resolved yesterday, we believe, in this matter-of-fact John Patterson guest editorial. Boss Godfrey and his minions are punishing our police and firefighters, and they are doing it blatantly.

In truth, it's obvious that there were no good-faith salary negotiations during the winter run-up toward finalizing our public safety officers' pay plans. Mr. Patterson makes no bones about that. As City Administrator Patterson forthrightly admits, Boss Godfrey initially tendered an identical "take it or leave it offer" to all city employees. When our public safety employees had the temerity to exercise their rights under currently-operative administration/council Joint Resolution 95-9, and plead their case before the city council in the very manner contemplated by the resolution, city administrators, acting in apparent "bad faith," summarily took their initial offer "off the table."

Read the full article here.

We urge you to contact your city councilmembers to demand parity for our police and firemen. This is a problem that can be easily fixed. All that's necessary is for the council to amend the salary portion of an ordinance, which is something that the council has the plenary power to do. The city council has the power, of course, to amend any of its rules, resolutions or ordinances, any time it chooses. It's the city legislature, after all.

For the convenience of our gentle readers, we have placed individual and bulk council email links in our upper-left sidebar. It now only takes a minute to turn outrage into action at Weber County Forum, and we hope you'll all take a few moments to stand up for the dedicated folks who work 24/7 to safeguard our lives and property.

Comments, anyone?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

More Gondolist Flights of Fancy

By Curmudgeon

They just can't help themselves...

The Standard Examiner this morning has a long op-ed bit of gondola fantasizing by Mr. B. Geiger, identified as Chairman of Lift Ogden. It is filled with flights of fancy and what an uncharitable soul might consider deliberate mis-representations. For example, here are a few statements taken, verbatim, from Mr. Geiger's piece:

WSU will be, he says, will be linked to "an international airport... via gondola and commuter rail." And "WSU is about 35 miles from Salt Lake International Airport, and will soon be connected by commuter rail. " And WSU will be "the only university in the world linked to... an international airport... via gondola and commuter rail."

Ah, Bob... Frontrunner, the comuter rail coming to Ogden, will not go to SL International airport. Frontrunner will have two stations in downtown Salt Lake, but it will not connect either SLC or Ogden to the airport. Mr. Geiger has dropped into this piece false claims that the gondola/gondola system he proposes will connect Ogden with Snow Basin. That is very encouraging. It shows he is capable of learning. One would have hoped, however, that by now he might actually have looked at a UTA map and discovered that the Frontrunner commuter rail will not connect Ogden with the SLC airport. Maybe by the next time he inflicts his fantasizing on the readers of the SE he will have figured that out and removed yet another false claim from Lift Ogden's appeals. We can only hope.

But there's even more fantasizing in his piece. He writes "WSU is 20 minutes away from the nearest ski resort, Snowbasin. Twenty minutes? How? By helicopter? I will admit, I've seen people trying to drive from WSU's campus to the parking lots at Snow Basin in twenty minutes, but usually I see them pulled over to the side helping Ogden police make their weekly quota of speeding tickets. If he can't figure out something as simple as the driving time from WSU to Snow Basin, I can't help but wonder how accurate his other observations are. And remember, he seems to think Frontrunner will take him from Ogden to the SLC airport. This the guy you want planning your city's future?

Finally, he compares WSU to Colorado State, claiming WSU can certainly draw lots of ski/snowboard/mountain activities oriented students as he says Colorado State does. Why, CSU is, he points out, 70 miles from the Denver airport, while WSU is only 35 from SLC airport. And CSU is 70 miles from the Rockies and its trails, etc, while WSU is tucked right under the Wasatch range and has trails running from the campus up into the mountains. CSU is an hour's drive from the nearest ski resort, while WSU is closer than that to Snow Basin, a world class resort [say a 35 minute drive, barring any serious traffic].

Well, here's the question, Bob: all of the above is true right now. With no gondola in place. Without a huge real estate development eating up WSU wild lands adjoining the campus and separating the campus from the mountain trails. All of it true right now. So, Bob, since WSU is right now, according to you, a far more attractive campus for skiers, snowboards, hikers, trailriders, than CSU is, my question is this: why aren't all those CSU students here right now?Why, if closeness to mountain recreation is why many many students, the land over, choose colleges, and WSU is so much better situated than CSU in this regard right now, why aren't they here, Bob? Why will a train and gondola system that won't take them to or from the airport, and a real estate development imposed between the campus and the mountain trails, and a gondola that won't take them to Snow Basin draw all these people when they haven't come to a campus that is by your own account already far superior to CSU as a mountain-oriented college site?

Update 7/26/06 4:35 p.m. MT: Today's Std-Ex Thom Kuehls guest commentary skillfully dismantles Bob Geiger's earlier pro-gondola commentary piece. Be sure to read Mr. Kuehl's most excellent and intelligent retort.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Let's face it, it's WWIII, Gingrich says

By Rudizink

We swear we are NOT making this up:

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich says America is in World War III and President Bush should say so.

Gingrich said in an interview Saturday that Bush should call a joint session of Congress the first week of September and talk about global military conflicts in much starker terms than have been heard from the president.

"We need to have the militancy that says 'We're not going to lose a city, " Gingrich said.

Gingrich said in the coming days he plans to speak out publicly and to the administration from his seat on the Defense Policy Board about the need to recognize that America is in World War III.

Via The Seattle Times
OK. While we normally try to limit ourselves here at Weber County Forum to the insanity of local politics, the above headline (and story) seemed so completely surreal and off-kilter, that we couldn't resist tossing it out to our gentle readership for contemplation and discussion. Of course, "all politics is really local," according to the old Tip O'Niell saw.

What about it general readers? Are we as a nation ineluctably locked into World War III, as the neoCON faction of our beloved Republican party seems to contend; or is this merely another sign that we're on the run-up toward another mid-term congressional election?

Comments, anyone?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Riding Into the Weekend on Gondolas and Commuter Rail

By Rudizink

This morning's Standard Examiner edition features two articles we think to be worthy of special note.

First, on the front page is this Scott Schwebke story, reporting on the the city administration's response to a formal inquiry on Gondola project expenditures, (requested by Councilwoman Wicks to the Mayor's office a full two months ago.) Aside from the fact that obtaining this information was apparently the governmental equivalent of pulling teeth, Councilwoman Wicks remarks that the information provided by the uber-secret Boss Godfrey is woefully incomplete. As to the the specific deficiencies that Councilwoman Wicks mentions, Ace reporter Schwebke of course offers his readers no clue.

Being the curious type, your blogmeister dialed out to Ms. Wicks this morning, in an attempt to fill in some of reporter Schwebke's "loose ends."

According to Ms. Wicks, Boss Godfrey's belated response falls short in the following general respects:

  • It reports only "hard expenditures," i.e. cash outlays expended in the select areas Mr. Schwebke's story mentions;
  • Neglects to report "soft expenditures," such as city staff monies expended in pursuit of the select items that are addressed;
  • Entirely ignores expenditures releted to gondola promotions on the city website and television station;
  • Fails to specify expenditures for the gondola propaganda recently incuded with city water bills;
  • Omits any information on the Boss Godfrey's recent Washington, D.C. junket, wherein he visited with members of Utah's congressional delegation, in the company of gondolist Curt Geiger;
  • Fails to apportion expenditures of the recently-completed "corrider study" which were directed toward the study of gondolas;
  • Neglects to take into account portions of city staff expenditures related to the scores of private meetings and public events that were recently conducted to promote the gondola scheme.
Ms. Wicks adds that the above list is not exhaustive. There are no doubt other expenditures which we haven't learned about yet.

Readers should also find mirth and amusement in Boss Godfrey's typical paranoic pronouncement:

"It’s clear Amy Wicks is against the proposal and what she is doing evidently is trying to build a case with the spending that is going on," he said.

While this may be "clear" to our highly visionary Boss Godfrey, who always operates in a world of his own, the always-wry Councilwoman Wicks' retort makes short work of the poor little guy:

Wicks said she is offended by Godfrey’s remarks. "We (the City Council) have yet to receive a proposal, and I’ve never voiced opposition to the project," she said. "If asking questions is problematic, then why do we have a system of checks and balances?"

And for our added intellectual consumption, this morning's Std-Ex serves up this thoughtful Gretchen Fluhart Guest Commentary. With Frontrunner Commuter Rail coming to town in 2008, she asks, what's the big rush to grant Chris Peterson first rights to our treasured Mt. Ogden Parkland? She proposes that future development be handled prudently and sequentially, once we've had a chance to assess the impact of our new commuter rail system.

We have to concur with Gretchen on this for the most part, inasmuch as none of us can accurately predict the economic impact Frontrunner will have on our city.

And although Ms. Fluhart's article brims with optimism about the arrival of Frontrunner commuter rail in our town, we must also offer a cautionary note.

Like many citizens of Junction City, Ms. Fluhart predicates much of her exhilaration about pending economic development on statistics compiled in connection with urban light rail , such as San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit sytem. Light rail systems like BART, which operate on extended schedules, with multiple stops during the operational day are very different from commuter rails systems like Frontrunner, of course, whose schedules are focused on providing service mainly during normal commuter hours.

In this connection we are linking this excellent Wilf Sommerkorn article, wherein he analyzes some of the rosy assumptions of folks who believe that Frontrunner commuter rail will be the next best thing to the "coming of the railroad" in 1869.

Alright, gentle readers. We now turn the floor over to you.

Who will be the first to launch the comments that will take us into the coming weekend?

Trivia Update 7/15/06 1:23 p.m. MT -- Q: What world-famous Emerald City climbing celebrity is the older brother of Gretchen Fluhart?

Stumped? Click here to find out.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

One Customer's Experience -- Updated

By Ozboy

Well, I suppose that I am a customer of "Emerald City." I pay them money for whatever services I receive as a property owner in the city. I also, as it seems of late, pay them an annual business license fee for the pleasure of renting said single family property to the same elderly guy that has been there police and fire trouble-free for 12 years.

The fee is a hundred and fifty eight bucks per year. However the city, in a real magnanimous gesture, will cut that down considerably if I pay their cronies at the Utah Apartment Association forty bucks or so to teach me how to be a "Good Landlord", something I have been doing very well without their wisdom for 30 years or so. Also you must give over eight hours of your precious time to these nitwits who are so presumptuous as to think they could teach anyone about successful business. Remember the jokers behind this at city hall are the same gang that can't shoot straight that have blown forty million or more of the public's money in the last six years on a long string of loser deals.

If you don't pay this extortion by January you get a 100% fine right off the bat. Now I ain't gonna BS you and say I didn't know any thing about this new good landlord crap. Hells bells, I raised Cain about it when it was first proposed. In fact that was the issue that first brought it to my attention that the city's mayor was the arrogant little tyrant that I have come to love like a viper and respect like a rat as I do.

Anyway, the very first official notice that I ever received from the city on this newly instituted license was when they sent me a notice that I had missed the filing deadline and I now owed a hundred and fifty eight bucks - times two. No original notice, no bill, no nothing cept gotcha double! So I ponied up the three hundred and sixteen bucks extortion and sent it on in.

This year I get a notification that tells me I now have to go online and prepare my own billing and then send the money in. Why they didn't just send the friggin' bill for the license I do not know. It takes them every bit as much time and effort and money to send me the information on how to go on line and prepare and print my own billing as it would to send the damn bill! I guess it wouldn't be such a pain in the keister, but I do not have a printer. Have no need for one -- probably never will.

The only other alternative the scoundrels give you is to come into city hall and they will help you get on the internet and get your own billing. That is sorta like the gas company telling you to make up your own bills, or come down to our office and we will let you use our computers to make up your own bill, then we will take your money. Bottom line is it ain't their responsibility to make up the bill for what you owe them. Think about what would happen if every business that bills you in any way had such a policy! The only way Boss Godfrey's minions can get away with it is they have a captive customer base that they prey upon.

So instead of being able to just mail in the tribute extracted by the city, landlords and all business owners that are not on the computer, the internet or hooked up to a printer, must come to city hall to generate their own paper work and fork over the dough. In my case it was a 20 mile drive. In a lot of other people's cases it could be hundreds or thousands of miles. Like Aunt Else in Elsinore, California, who has rented out her late mother's house in Ogden for the last five years. She doesn't have a computer, she doesn't want to have one. Does this mean that she has to travel to Ogden each year to pay this obscene tax? How about the hundreds of other people in similiar situations, do they not deserve any respect and consideration from Mayor Godfrey's city government?

So I get down to city hall and sure enough there were a pile of computers in a little room and a bunch of young city employees helping a very large crowd of harried landlords and business owners. Not one of them was happy to be there! Most were very annoyed with this very large inconvenience. The city employees were under a lot of stress, but they handled it very well. They were cordial to angry and frustrated people, they were very helpful to the computer illiterate. They did the city proud under a very unfortunate and stupid set of circumstances. They definitely deserve a more competent elected boss.

Being a bit unaccepting of idiocy, I naturally talked it up with the staff about the situation. I very quickly met a couple of the bosses of that department who were real nice and friendly people. When I said how stupid this whole setup was, they all agreed! They also told me that there had been a very large parade of pee'd off citizens for some time over this very issue. In addition, one boss apologized on behalf of the staff and told me that they had no choice in the matter. This new procedure was a direct order from his honor on the ninth floor. When it was pointed out to the little lord mayor how this would cause difficulties and inconvenience with business owners, he just didn't care. After all, some people have to pay for progress. Seems that the staff had spoken out on the subject and had been over-ruled on the matter. The mayor was bound and determined that local business people were going to be forced into doing business with the city online, and online only, whether they liked it or not. Part of his "vision for the future" thing perhaps.

Just one more example of how totally business friendly is our great (like the wizard,) and lovable (like a snake) mayor of the Land of Oz?

Update 7/16/06 MT: It belatedly occurs to us that there is a topic left unanswered here. Would any of our gentle readers like to add their own City v. Businessperson horror stories to this thread? Like many disgruntled Emerald City inhabitants, we "have faith" that there must be many of these, considering the gutter ethics of Boss Godfrey. Not to worry. You can always post anonymously here @ Weber County Forum.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

City Council Must Review, Repair Damaged Negotiating Process

By Dian Woodhouse

In its handling of the negotiations with the police and fire departments, Ogden City committed several monumental blunders. Those negotiations' unsatisfactory conclusions were further exacerbated by comments from members of both the administration and the council that agreements are only good for one year. It is not only wise, but necessary that the Ogden City Council revisit both the procedure and the outcome of these negotiations, and attempt to rectify mistakes made therein.

In 1995, Ogden City signed Joint Resolution 95-9, a: "JOINT RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR OF OGDEN CITY AND THE OGDEN CITY COUNCIL ESTABLISHING A STRUCTURED PROCESS FOR THE DISCUSSION OF ADJUSTMENTS TO WAGES AND BENEFITS TO BE PROVIDED TO OGDEN CITY EMPLOYEES IN THE ADOPTION OF THE ANNUAL OGDEN CITY BUDGET." Adopted on July 20th, 1995 by the city and signed by former Mayor Glen Mecham, 95-9 has been in effect for eleven years, and has worked reasonably well up until this year, when it seems that the procedure was simply not followed at all. In fact, one new council member professed to have been unaware of its existence.

95-9 begins by stating that the initial meeting between either the mayor or his designee and the employee representatives shall take place in January. After this, the mayor or designee meets with the City Council to "jointly develop wage and benefit parameters." Point 3 is the mayor or designee going back to the employee representative to try to reach a consensus.

Point 4 then allows for "meetings as needed" between the administration and the city council to jointly review the wage and benefit parameters.

Since the mayor/council form of government is set up to have a balance of power, and since many times both sides have differing opinions as to budget allocations,, allowing the mayor or his designee to be the only point of contact with both the employee representatives and the council throughout the negotiating process seems slightly prejudicial toward the administrative viewpoint. However, 95-9 also allows for many meetings between the administration and the council, and one would hope that during these the administration would make the position of the employee organizations known to the council.

It has been alleged, however, that this year, meetings between the administration and the council to "jointly develop" these wage and benefit parameters did not take place. Nor did the negotiations open in January--it was more like March. The council first received the tentative budget sometime in May, and the whole thing, not just the police and fire part, had to be adopted by June 22nd.. Not much time to go through things.

Point 5 deserves to be quoted in full. It states: "Any negotiated wages and/or benefits that are exchanged for different benefits will be memorialized in writing for future reference in wage and benefit discussions. In the event there are proposed modifications in future years, those modifications can be reviewed in historical context."

A clearer mandate that agreements are ongoing and not good only for the year in which they were negotiated one cannot imagine. Unless it be the concluding paragraph, which states: "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that any change to the process established in the joint resolution shall be made only after meeting and conferring with employee representatives in substantively the same manner as described above."

It will be remembered that at the meeting where the rec center was approved, many watched the council vote to repeal a resolution made by a previous council stating that a percentage of lease revenue from BDO would be dedicated to capital improvement projects. This resolution had to be repealed in order to divert that BDO money from capital improvement projects to the rec center, and it was repealed, in an official action. Not only is 95-9 also a resolution, but it is a joint resolution involving other entities, and states that all parties must agree to changes in it, and then and only then may it be repealed by a similar vote. Since this has not happened, 95-9 is still in full effect. And should have been followed.

95-9 has seven points. Point 6 states that the object of the process is to obtain an agreement satisfactory to both parties by May 30th or before, and point 7 states that, in the case of impasse being reached, the employee representatives shall present their position to the council. Far from being out of line, impasse is part of the process, and is actually the only time the employee representatives are able to speak directly to the council. As all negotiations are conducted in a closed executive meeting, one would assume that the council would meet with the organizations who have gone to impasse in a like meeting, and not an open council meeting where an exchange of ideas between the council and the grieving organizations is awkward, if not prohibitive, but the latter is what happened this year.

During this whole bungled process, the police and fire representatives showed themselves very willing to work with the city. However,, after both organizations had reached impasse and presented their position to the council as per 95-9,, the council was presented with several options that were allegedly confusing to some. This occurred on the same evening that they were to adopt the budget. Perhaps as a result, the option that penalized the police and firefighters with a new merit rating system that both organizations describe as" punitive" was adopted. For the police and fire departments, the botched process and denial of their requests, coupled with placement under the new "punitive" system became too much. And that is very understandable.

Placement under the new merit system seems to be the straw that broke the camel's back. Employees elsewhere in local government only have to obtain a score of 3 in their merit systems in order to achieve a merit raise of 5%. Under this new merit system, police and fire must achieve a score of 4.5 in order to get a 5% merit increase.

Simply repealing the ordinance that placed both organizations under the new, "punitive" merit system would be a good start toward rectifying the unjust treatment our police and fire departments have received. Past agreements and promises made should also be reviewed, as per point 6, and steps taken to honor those agreements, or, if that is not possible, offer something of similar value.

This would go a long way toward reestablishing a modicum of trust between all parties. Both the police and fire have now indicated that they are unwilling to negotiate next year under the" process" that was used this past negotiating season by the administration and council. Although it is impossible to work with an entity which does not honor agreements, and although this is what seems to have happened, it is fixable. It is perfectly possible to rebuild a damaged bridge, and that is what needs to be done.

© 2006 Dian Woodhouse


Dian has kindly granted us permission to re-publish this article here. The article was originally published on the Standard-Examiner website.

Comments, anyone?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

7/11/ City Council Notes -- Business, Bombshells, and an Apology

By Dian Woodhouse

City Council: 7.11.06

If tonight had been a theatrical performance, the reviewer would have said, "...before a small, but attentively appreciative audience." There weren't too many people in attendance tonight, but those there saw a few firsts, for sure.

The Council unanimously passed Ordinance 2006-47, changing the business license procedures in Ogden City. Instead of having all licenses due and payable at the first of the year, all new business licenses will be renewable one year from the date of filing the application. That is the big change.

4,200 business license holders will be unaffected by this--I presume because they are now renewing at the first of the year and will continue to do so.

3,500 rental licenses will be "extended one month." Meaning here is that holders of these will be billed in January and pay in February.

Ogden City, it was said, gets 1.000 new license applications received each year.

Councilman Stephens asked what the delinquent fees were, and the answer was, first 25% of the total license fee, then, if one hasn't paid in 60 days, 75%, and then it continues to go up. Between 15% and 20% of the business license holders are delinquent, and there is an appeals process.

Councilman Stephens then suggested that a sort of customer service letter be sent out with the renewal notices. Business owners could fill these out and critique the process.

In response to some input by Councilman Safsten, the process itself was then gone into. Everything must be done online, and the city staff has run into some problems because of this. The city still sends out a hard copy letter, a 7700 notice, I believe it was called, alerting people of the need to renew, but they are then directed to do this online. This year, about 1,000 people went to the municipal building to renew, being unwilling or unable to do the online process, swamping the staff, and possibly leading to this proposed change.

If one has a computer and printer, but does not wish to pay online, one can print out the remittance page and mail it in with a check. But those who have no printer, for instance, must go to the municipal building. There are computers there one can use, in a sort of pay online on site process. Staff is also there to help out. And they are also thinking about setting up a phone bank, to enable people to renew that way. "Make it simple--make it quick," is what they're trying to accomplish with this.

The motion to approve was made by Councilman Glasmann, and seconded by Councilwoman Jeske.

Then came public comments. Rulon Yorgason spoke first, and first commended the council for passing the business license ordinance. Then, he read a statement, which began:

“Two weeks ago,. our mayor inpugned the integrity of all persons in this council chamber except himself and his staff. In doing so, he bragged that his integrity was virtually unassailable. His diatribe insulted all other persons in the room, including all the members of the council.

Now to the point--The mayor has many choices to try to rectify his enormous blunder.

And three of these choices were: To apologize, to submit to a vote of censure by the council, or to "respect the voters and taxpayers who are really your bosses and resign immediately."

There was of course an anticipatory hush here, but as the council meeting process would not allow apologies, censure, resignation, or anything dealing with this question at this point, the next speaker came to the podium.

This was Sharon Beech, who asked some very timely and pertinent questions, but first----

Mrs. Beech read into the record a post from the Weber County Forum. Yes. A post from Weber County Forum is now in the official record of the Ogden City Council proceedings.

This post was the one by one of our many anonymi that detailed city employees being asked to place Lift Ogden Signs on their lawns. Ms. Beech asked that this be addressed. She also asked:

If Councilwoman Wicks had received the information she had requested pertaining to the amount of money Ogden City had spent on promoting the gondola etc. idea.

How many city employees have memberships in Gold's Gym with the fees being paid by Ogden City?

Where is Larry Miller? Did he sign a contract, and is he going to have a cineplex in downtown Ogden?

Are you working with Utah Power to get West Liberty foods in Ogden?

We were left with yet another cliffhanger, as none of this could be addressed at this point either, and the next speaker approached the podium. This was Virginia Hernandez, who began by commending the City for making the business license process easier, since this had been a problem for some of the people she works with. Ms Hernandez then went on to discuss the question of committee appointments and reappointments.

"I'm not focusing on a certain individual," she began, and went on to say that there are many committees in the city, and the council makes a lot of appointments, and she wished to know why the council continues to put the same individuals in year after year. Is it because of a lack of interest in serving on committees on the part of the public, or is it because the people who are reappointed are doing an exceptional job? "My experience has been that these people do not interact with the community," Ms. Hernandez said, and asked that the practice of reappointing the same people over and over be looked into.

Then came Administrative Comments, and Mayor Godfrey began. He began by apologizing, first to the council, and then to the people in the room. It was not, he said, his wish to offend anyone. He would never wish to do so, and therefore, "I will ask your forgiveness if I have done that."

Then he addressed the WCF post, by stating that "We would not ask city staff (to put up lawn signs.) Said that it did not happen.

(My thought here was that that really wasn't the question, and that some department head could have done this without the Mayor's knowledge--I mean, it would be difficult to know for sure that that did not happen.) Be that as it may...

He then responded to the Gold's gym membership question, and again, did not answer explicitly, (of course, having those numbers present in the forefront of the mind would be difficult and should not have been expected,) but did explain the memberships as being part of the City's "Employee Wellness Program." Participants in this program do not have to go solely to Gold's Gym, either. They can go to Lil Audrey's, or Curves, or wherever they want to go, and it seems that, because of this program, the city does pick up the tab.

Regarding committee appointments, the mayor stated that tonight, in fact, they were making a new one.

Regarding the West Liberty foods question, he stated that actually there were two companies wanting to come in. Efforts had been made to place them at BDO--however, both of them wanted to own their buildings, not lease them.

Regarding Larry Miller, one can drive by the mall site and see crews building on the Larry Miller site.

Then came Council Comments:

Councilman Stephens remarked that in his opinion, there was some public apathy as to serving on committees.

Councilwoman Wicks responded to Sharon Beech's question: "I did receive the answers to my questions this afternoon, but they're incomplete."

Councilwoman Jeske addressed the question of reappointments by stating that the council had recently approved two, and one person had served for nineteen years and the other for twenty-one. She stated that she was considering bringing up in a council work session the possibility that term limits could be imposed on these appointments, because there are many people qualified to serve.

Councilman Glasmann said: "I would be very skeptical of putting too much credence in somebody under the veil of anonymity on a blog."

The Council then went into Closed Executive Session to discuss and presumably make appointments and reappointments.

As always, those of you who were there, please feel free to add or correct. Especially in the case of the Mayor's comments, because there was a bit of crosstalk going on there.

And those of you who weren't there--what can I say? You missed a good one.

Monday, July 10, 2006

More Evidence of the Wisdom of the Townsfolk

By Rudizink

We never cease to be amazed at the intelligence of the local townsfolk, as they express their sage and well-reasoned opinions here -- and in local print media letters-to-editor sections and elsewhere. We're great believers in the Wisdom of Crowds. We believe the principle is re-proven daily in our various local reader forums.

As evidence of that, we're kicking off a new Weber County Forum thread, highlighting three of this morning's Std-Ex letters. Two of them make salient points, we think.

First, Michelle Malan Burnett, of Roy, sets forth a laundry list (the short version) of bone-headed business decisions made by Boss Godfrey during his six-year tenure as Mayor. She notes Godfrey's latest blunders, traffic ticket quotas and police salary negotiations chiseling, as factors which will inevitably dissuade out of towners from patronizing businesses in Ogden. She rightly notes the grossly misplaced priorities of the Ogden City mayoral administration: In an era where street gun-battles are on an upswing in Ogden, Boss Godfrey is busy converting Ogden's Finest into a battalion of glorified meter maids.

Next, Jim Farrell, an Ogden native who for unknown reasons has transplanted himself to Moab, issues a word of warning about the errors of government grand schemers who build gondolas. An unfinished gondola languishes unused in his new home town, as a monument to the ineptitude of some local government officials. In this instance, natural human fear of heights is mentioned as a factor in the failure of Moab's own ill-conceived gondola scheme, along with the unforgivable failure of local county officials to have posted a necessary performance bond.

Finally, we have this disappointing Bonnie Olsen Hyde letter, which gets off to a great start in her first four paragraphs, citing broad facts and economic figures. Unfortunately, Ms. Hyde bogs down, and fails to make the necessary logical connection to explain how her cited figures would apply to the Godfrey/Peterson scheme. What ambitiously starts out as a seemingly logical argument, winds up entirely faith-based.

"How would these figures apply to a local "ski resort" whose amenities will be marginal at best," our gentle readers may ask, having read Ms. Hyde's letter?

"Have faith," Ms. Hyde would likely retort.

The last paragraph of Ms. Hyde's letter eerily spirals entirely off-course, into something very similar to this. Perhaps the Lift Ogden Letter Writing Factory ought to consider coming up with some new material. The old talking points are wearing painfully thin.

We note that Mr. Farrell's fear of heights objection was a matter of first impression for us. We don't believe we've heard that one mentioned before.

So what about it, gentle readers?

Who will comment on any of the above?

It's Monday morning; and the floor is open.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The 800-pound Gorilla Intervenes

By Rudizink

There's lots of nutritious political red meat in today's news for our gentle readers to devour.

Here's our personal favorite for today: LDS leader: Refrain from bickering over gondola

Apparently Boss Godfrey got his dander up for being rightly-called "lacking in integrity."

He thus apparently appealed to the "higher muckimucks," so as to get the LDS "pod-people" in line.

In an extreme violation of the boundaries between church and state, LDS Church Stake President Goff "threw in" for Boss Godfrey at the pulpit last Sunday, and apparently intends to do the same at LDS church services tomorrow.

According to Stake President Goff, it's religiously unacceptable to label liars for what they really are.

Somebody needs to alert Gordon Hinckley of the gross political practices of politically-immoral people like Godfrey and Goff.

As we understand it, upper echelon L.D.S. Church leadership "officially" frowns on this kind of political interference.

And what say our gentle readers about this?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Integrity at work, Godfrey style

By Curmudgeon

I am surprised our blogmeister overlooked the story in the SE 4th of July edition which contained an excellent example of how the man who insists his integrity is as high or higher than anyone else's in the council chamber [that is, Hizzonah, Mayor Matthew Godfrey] puts that integrity to work.

The story, by Scott Schwebke, reported that the Board of Weber Pathways had issued a statement opposing the sale of Mt. Ogden Golf Course for development as a residential property. The story also reported Mr. Integrity's response when informed of the Weber Pathways Board's decision:

Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey said.... he "isn’t surprised by the approval because Weber Pathways’ board is made up largely of Smart Growth Ogden members, who have been vocal in their opposition to Peterson’s proposal. "

“It’s the same group,” he said. “It passed by one vote, so keep in mind it’s 17 people. It’s not like this group is representing 1,000 people.”
SE reporter Scott Schwebke, however, was not about to let the Mayor's snit fit rhetoric pass unchecked. The story goes on to point out that Weber Pathway's board has 22 members, and at least 17 voted for the statement that so upset the Mayor. So much for "passed by one vote."

The story also notes that Weber Pathways has 1600 people on its mailing list. So much for "it's not like this group is representing 1000 people."

And the story points out that the Weber Pathways board has on it members of Lift Ogden as well as members of Smart Growth Ogden. [In fact, I believe the WP Board has four members affiliated with Smart Growth Ogden and two affiliated with Lift Ogden. The rest, the overwhelming majority, are not associated with either organization.]

He just can't help himself. Whenever some one or group dares to challenge the Godfrey/Peterson/Geiger Party line, mis-information simply spills from the Mayor effortlessly -- and endlessly.

Integrity at work, Godfrey style.

Comments, anyone?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Clearing Out the Holiday Cobwebs

By Rudizink

Now that the five-day 4th of July weekend (most folks we know squeezed out five days) is now behind us, we think it's probably time to get back to normal business. And what is normal business here at Weber County Forum? Conversing and discussing local politics -- exposing liars, fools and buffoons -- that's what.

In an effort to help our gentle readers clear out the holiday cob-webs, and to assist them in regaining gentle equilibrium, were linking a couple of items from today's Standard-Examiner letters section, and recommending a couple of local websites of note. These, of course, all deal with one subject with which we are familiar -- what else -- the Godfrey/Peterson land-grab:

First, William Christiansen, of Liberty, reminds us of the track record of a certain "forward-looking youth" who rammed another hare-brained project down the throats of the local townsfolk, a mere 20 or so years ago. Mr. Christiansen wisely frames the phenomenon as another conflict in the age-old battle between brashness of youth and the wisdom of age. We think his letter is worth a long look.

Next, Ogden resident Julie Kirkland notes the recent proliferation of lawn signs, pamphlets, speeches and associated lies, remarking that these are usually preliminary trappings which precede a public vote. "[But] [a]m I going to have an opportunity to vote on this heated project?" "No" she answers, rhetorically.

Last but not least, we have this wonderful inspirational message from Alan T. Christiansen. (Any relation to William, we ask?) "Positive thinking" and "good thoughts" are our key to return to "the glory days, he admonishes. Just ask Disney's Jiminy Cricket, who told a whole generation of young Americans that if they would wish for something fervently enough, such wishes will magically come true. It's all about neoCon mysticism, you see. Who needs research and feasibility studies anyway, when the whole idea feels so danged good?

And there's a new website that we've been watching for a few weeks, Grift Ogden, which has a marvelous cartoon panel uploaded for display this week. A picture is worth a thousand words, as the old saying goes. And these pictures say it all in four panels. Do the math. Grift Ogden is also proudly linked in our sidebar. We'll certainly be watching this interesting site very closely in the weeks and months to come.

Finally, we're putting up a front page link to a podcast video that's been circulating around town via email for a few weeks. We think this 1994ish video proves once again that life truly imitates art. A reader comment in one of the lower threads reported that this video clip was re-run on network television last night, and we're linking it here, for those gentle readers who may have missed it. This video was originally uploaded by True Ogden, another local blogger who deserves a Weber County Forum hat-tip. We've also added a link to this site in the sidebar.

So what about it, gentle readers? Would anybody like to get back into blogging gear, and comment on any of the above?

The long holiday is over; and it's time to start driving the discussion in our town again, we think.

We hope everyone will do their part, cob-webs notwithstanding.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Patriots, awaken

San Francisco Chronicle
July 4, 2006

THE FOURTH of July is not just an occasion for throwback celebrations with parades, grilled food, cold beer and fireworks extravaganzas. It should be a moment for reflection on the vision and sacrifice that went into the Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia on this day in 1776, and how well its principles -- and those of its most noble offspring, the U.S. Constitution -- are holding up today.

The health of American democracy, as envisioned by our Founding Fathers, is not measured by how much red, white and blue is displayed on any given day. It is the sum of all who stand up to be counted when the defining freedoms of this republic are under assault.

Perhaps it is the lingering shock effects of Sept. 11, 2001, or maybe it is the complacency of a half-century of growing affluence, but too many Americans seem all too willing to ignore Benjamin Franklin's admonition about the danger of sacrificing essential liberties for temporary security. The Bush administration has been adroit at invoking the war on terrorism to justify policies that should be setting off alarms in this democracy.

At what point will Americans draw the line at these intrusions on civil liberties and usurpations of power by the White House? Revelations that the National Security Agency eavesdropped on phone calls and e-mails without getting the required warrants didn't do it. The disclosure that the government has compiled a vast database of Americans' phone records didn't do it. The hundreds of examples of President Bush's unprecedented expansion of the number and scope of "signing statements" in which he gave himself the option to ignore parts of laws he objected to -- such as torture -- didn't do it.

Just last week, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Bush administration's system for military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay that openly defied congressional law and international rules on the treatment of prisoners of war. So, what was the reaction in Congress? Regrettably, but not surprisingly in this era, there were immediate moves to give the president such authorization.

The White House response has been to turn these issues against its critics. In the latest example, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and their echo warriors across the land have questioned the loyalties of the New York Times for disclosing an international-banking database to track the movement of money by al Qaeda. Never mind that the administration simultaneously gave the story to what it thought might be more sympathetic journalists, and that there is no evidence to support the Bush-Cheney claim that the revelations would do great harm to the war on terrorism -- or that any terrorist would be the least bit surprised that the United States is tracking the flow of money, as it vowed to do after Sept. 11.

This is about power. This administration wants to decide what its government can know about you, and what you can know about its government.

Americans did not undertake a revolution against the reign of King George III to create a government that would spy on its citizens, torture enemy combatants, detain suspects without charges for extended stretches on an island beyond reach of U.S. law, invade foreign countries without just cause and attempt to edit not only the press -- but laws that have been duly crafted and approved by our elected representatives in Congress.

This nation is veering too far from the course of its Founding Fathers. Two hundred-thirty years ago, the Declaration of Independence reproofed that a government's power is "derived from the consent of the governed." Those words ring true today.

If Americans are ceding too many freedoms under the guise of a war on terrorism -- which, by its nature, may never officially end -- it is because their absence of outrage is taken as a nod of assent.

The men who signed the Declaration of Independence were not doing so to commission an annual party. They were making a covenant with history that requires day-to-day vigilance to defend the liberties it asserted. Honor them by speaking out.


So speak out, gentle readers.

Comments, anyone?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Fourth of July Weekend Open Thread

We have been busy with personal business this weekend, and have thus been unable to complete research on the article we'd planned to post for today. There's been plenty of discussion on various threads below however, so we've decided to put up an open thread. It's obvious from our page counter that many of you decided to resist mortgaging the family home to buy gasoline for a weekend road-trip, and remain in close proximity to a computer, so here are a couple of items that we'll throw out for discussion for those who are staying home this weekend:

One of our readers sent us this email yesterday, so perhaps this would be a fruitful topic:

Not that it's that big of a deal, but in looking at the 4th of July schedule for Ogden, I see Nothing that has anything to do with American Independence. I see motorcycle parades and monster truck rides. Not that there's anything wrong with this, although I probably won't go to them,) but it seems to me that Ogden City should do SOMETHING to acknowledge Independence Day. Other cities are at least having flag raising ceremonies on their plazas and a parade, however small. Are we doing this? If we are, I can't find it. Our parade looks like it is motorcycles only.

I did read about the things at Lorin Farr Park, but I really think we should have something more in the center of town. Do you agree? Or not?

For those of you who don't consider yourselves permanently homebound for the entire extra-long holiday, we're linking a good Deseret News Article which highlights various holiday happenings -- mostly in other places around the state.

And just for old times' sake, we're linking to the feature essay that we posted for last year's Fourth of July celebration. Believe it or not, this American founding related piece is by far the most regularly-accessed article in our Weber County Forum archives. We still receive page hits on this numerous times every month from all around the world.

We'll get back with a new main article very soon. In the meantime, knock yourselves out, gentle readers. Talk about whatever you want to talk about.

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