Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Emerald City Council and Special Redevelopment Agency Meeting Report

26 September 2006

By Curmudgeon [pinch hitting for Dian, who is under the weather]

Let me begin by noting an important announcement by Mr. Patterson: the location of Thursday's Council Work Session has been changed from the El Monte Golf Course Club House to the City Administration building,Room 310.

The regular Tuesday Council meeting opened at 6:00 PM. All six members present. The Mayor was not. [City administration represented by Mr. Patterson.] Following approval of the minutes, the Council moved on to the three common consent items on the agenda.

The first involved proposed ordinance 2006-60, "vacating a portion of Brinker Avenue between Healy and Patterson..., quit claiming the property within the vacated portion of said street to the abutting property owners" and setting a public hearing on this matter for 7 November, 2006. There was no discussion by the Council or public comment.

The second item on the common consent agenda involved appointing two new members of the Special Events Advisory Committee [Dana Wicks and David Miller] and reappointing Teri Slaughter, Craig Belik, Lou Ann Kamigaki, Dustin Chapman, Nikki Lovell, Sand Havas, Dan Musgrave, and Sara Toliver. There was no discussion.

The third item on the common consent agenda involved approving the appoint of Lillie Holman to the Planning Commission. No discussion.

For further information re Ms. Holman's Planning Commission appointment, and other matters transpiring during last night's meetings, read the rest of Curmudgeon's article here.

Scott Schwebke's Standard-Examiner story on last night's meetings can be viewed online; and in a related report, Ace Reporter Schwebke provides useful information about tonight's scheduled City Council At-Large Seat A appointment. As set forth in the latter article, the voluntarily-provided "letters of interest" of candidates Theresa Grijalva and Jeremy Taylor have been uploaded to the Std-Ex website here and here.

We thank Curmudgeon for filling in last night for Dian on short notice -- and reader comments on all items related to current city council happenings are invited as always.

Last but not least -- we wish Dian a very speedy recovery.

31 comments:

Councilmember Jeske said...

Curm, thanks so much for reporting on the Council and RDA meetings last night in Dian's absence. Just one minor correction, it was Mr. Cook who made the announcement about the change of location for the work meeting Thursday night.

Also, what Brandon was referring to when he said that "We just got the Channel 17 agendas on." is now you can see the upcoming agendas for the Council and RDA Meetings on Channel 17. I think that they are available Friday afternoons prior to the Council/RDA Meetings.

You did a great job reporting the meetings, Curm. Thanks!

RudiZink said...

One of our gentle readers was digging around in the Weber County Library microfiche on Monday, and sent us an item of interest via email -- a letter to the editor published by the Std-Ex on June 23, 2005, which our WCForum gnomes faithfully entered onto an archive page yesterday:

"Get out of the way' so Ogden can progress" - By Jeremy Taylor

Food for thought re tonight's appointment process?

Sounds an awful lot like Godfrey-speak to us.

The plot sickens.

Curmudgeon said...

As a side bar to the Schewebke piece, the SE reports that it filed a "Freedom of Information" request [actually filed under Utah's "Government Records Access and Management Act" -- GRAMA] with the City Council, trying to get copies of the letters of application the five finalists sent to the Council. The request was refused on grounds that the letters contained "private" information, according to Susan Zampedri, identified as "a City Council analyst." Several of the applicants voluntarily made their letters available to the SE, which has posted them on line.

Two points: first, kudoes to the SE for going after the letters and filing a GRAMA application for them.

Second: it should not have been necessary for the SE to do that. The letters of interest to the Council by people who want to be appointed -- not elected -- to the City Council by the current Council should absolutely have been made public. By the Council. And well in advance of the selection interviews and vote, scheduled to this evening. The privacy matter --- and how can a letter to the Council from someone wanting to be appointed to it, with the full powers of an elected member, not be a public document? --- presuming one exists at all, could have easily been handled by letting each applicant redact [black out] whatever he or she wanted to in the letters before they were made public.

Now, of course, I [and I'm sure others] are very curious about what was said in the letters that the Council and/or some applicants wished to keep private. Something as simple and understandable as the home addresses and phone numbers of the applicants? Or their references? Or something else? Curiouser and curiouser.

It seems to me that the Council's preference should always be to provide the public with more information about its proceedings, not less. The default answer to requests like the SE's should be "of course" unless there is a compelling reason, that can be explained, to deny the request. What is it exactly they [or some applicants] do not think the public should know about those letters of application for appointment to the Council? Why is the Council seeming to drag its feet on matters of public disclosure? [Why, for example, are tapes of the Council meetings not yet being broadcast on the City cable channel?]

When Ms. Jeske took her seat on the Council, she handed all the other members a small flashlight, a symbol of her intention to shine a light on Council proceedings, to make sure the citezenry was kept fully information about Council actions and proceedings. At the time, I thought it was a kind of hokey thing to do. I don't think so any more. [Apologies... again... Ms. Jeske.] Now I suspect the only problem was the flashlights she handed out were too small to get her point across.

So, Dear Council, the point is this: you are public servents. And your default position should be, at all times, when requested, to provide more information to that public about your proceedings, not less. Unless there are compelling explainable reasons why you cannot. "Some of it was private" is neither a compelling reason to have refused to make copies of the letters available, nor is it a sufficient explanation of that refusal.

OgdenLover said...

I was able to find the City Council meeting agenda on the Ogden City website yesterday.
Go to City Government; City Council; Council Meetings, Agendas, and Actions; Council Agenda for Upcomming Meetings.

At this point, leave the first choice as "All", enter Begin and End Dates and click on "Find".

Meeting agendas are listed with the most recent first.

I don't know if this information has been there all along, or if it's newly entered.

Curmudgeon said...

Councilwoman Jeske:

Thanks for the correction. Not being a frequenter of Council meetings, sometimes I get "the suits" up there confused. Again, thanks for the correction.

And thanks for clearing up the "agenda" comment. I don't think, then, that much seems to be happening vis a vis Channel 17. I think Ms. Beech's comments that it should not be the Mayor's plaything only but a channel that serves a much broader community interest were well taken. I hope the Council is or will begin to look into making Channel 17 into what I think it was intended to be when the Council agreed to partially fund it and to permit the cable company to charge customers a bit to fund the rest.

dian said...

Outstanding job, Curmudgeon!! Especially the part about the proposed land sale to Fresenius, about which I have a question.

What I gather about the proposed sale is this:

Ogden School Board owns 12.5 acres which it is willing to sell to Fresenius, at estimated price of $2-$2.5 million.

Ogden School Board needs $6 million to relocate bus facilities currently located on the 12.5 acres.

State of Utah is kicking in $3 million to help facilitate the sale.

$2 million plus $3 million equals $5 million--which is only $1 million short of the needs of Ogden School Board for its relocation costs.

My question is: Why does the state not instead help the Ogden School Board with its relocation costs, rather than give $3 million to Fresenius, which I assume is how this is working, since if the $3 million were going to School Board, proposed $6 million short term loan by Ogden City to help with relocation would not be necessary? Or do both?

Just one of those "What is wrong with this picture?" questions.

Not saying that we shouldn't show Fresenius our appreciation of them--just that we should perhaps pay some attention to taking care of our own, also.

Furthermore, if, as you say, they are saying that the loan will be immediately lessened by the purchase price of the land, why take it out for the whole $6 million? Why not for $4 million? Or $3.5?

It seems to me that this deal could be accomplished a lot more simply than is being currently proposed. Unless, of course, the insertion of this loan into what could easily be an almost straight across deal would serve the purpose of giving the city a few more million to play around with. Can't really think of any other logical reason to do it this way.

Perhaps someone can enlighten me on this.

And again, thanks, Curmudgeon! Great job!

RudiZink said...

As per usual, getting information on important city government appointments remains the political equivalent of "pulling teeth."

The veil of official secrecy surrounding the current crop of five council applicants is particularly disturbing, given the gravity of matters looming on the political forefront.

It seems that councilwoman Jeske is the sole elected official in our entire city government who understands what "the flashlights" were all about.

And on a different tack, we offer our WCF kudos to The Mighty Sharon, who once again blows the whistle on the gross misuse of our taxpayer-owned, taxpayer-funded TeeVee station.

It seems that a week doesn't go by in our WCF comments where somebody doesn't express confusion over city council goings-on. That city council meetings and other government events ought to be regularly broadcast on Channel 17 is painfully obvious to most of us. That the council doesn't grasp this is troubling. That Boss Godfrey doesn't give a damn what the people think is SNAFU [Situation Normal All F***** Up.]

Curmudgeon said...

Dian:

You wrote: Furthermore, if, as you say, they are saying that the loan will be immediately lessened by the purchase price of the land, why take it out for the whole $6 million? Why not for $4 million? Or $3.5?

I can answer that at least, or at least pass on the City's answer. In fact, a Councilmember asked that same question. [Can't recall right now who or if the reply came from Mr. Harmar or Mr. McConkie.] The reply was this: the School Board has to build the new bus maintenance facility before it vacates its current facility... there can't be a period where there is no bus maintenance facility. That's what the up-front short term bond is for. Given that, the purchase money from Fresenius may not be available right away. Hence the six million dollar short term bond. If it does come in in time [the sale terms are yet to be negotiated], they might not have to borrow the full six, but if they do borrow that much, the balance can be reduced by the purchase price on the land when it comes in, and a long term bond, serviced by tax increment, taken out for the rest.

Working from memory right now, but as I recall, that was the explanation on that point.

Curmudgeon said...

Ogdenlover

Thanks. I apparently misunderstood. I thought the Councilman was saying the TV station had appeared on an upcoming Council agenda. What he apparently said was the Council's agenda is now appearing on the TV station. My bad. Sorry for the confusion.

Jason W. said...

God help us, but Taylor has long been an associate of Little Matty Godfrey's and quite the Lilliputian sycophant. It's known in neighborhood circles, but he's kept quiet and to himself, possibly due to the Geigers' moronic shouting of fractions, silliness, lies, fabrications and fantasies. I don't know the probability of him getting a majority. Maybe Bob Geiger can break down the percentage points for me.

sdc said...

I find this very interesting and it surprised me that it wasn't followed at the start of the process. I'm quoting from the book given to the Council applicants, and this is under the Council Norms section for filing vacancies:

It is the policy of the Ogden City Council to make all information concerning applicants for appointment available to the press and the general public in an attempt to facilitate public input prior to the final selection. In response to the policy, the file containing the resume and/or letter of interest and the letters of recommendation for all applicants will be open to the press and to the general public.

Now I know that as applicant I was asked to read that booklet. And I did. I was very suprised that information was with held right at the beginning. Perhaps the Council themselves should review it. I guess policies change...

can u top this said...

Jeremy Taylor was the manager of the Ogden Hinckley Airport in 2000 who wrote a letter to the Mayor and Ogden City Council urging them to do the deal for Mel Kemp and his Gateway.

And so the deal was not only done but the Kemp Gateway was given 2.3 million of TIF (tax increment) to keep Kemp's privately owned and privately constructed facility from going "belly-up".

Does Mayor Godfrey look in his mirror every morning and ask "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who gets Ogden TIF today?"

And so, of course, persons involved with Ogden Airport are very leery of Jeremy Taylor's being appointed to the City Council.

Curmdgeon said...

SDC:
Nice catch on information policy in re: appointees. I imagine someone might reply that, technically, a Council seat is not an appointive position, but an elective one, and the Council in this process is in effect standing in for the electorate, so the policy on providing information on appointees does not apply. It's a nitpicking distinction in my view, and not sustainable. But I suspect that's the "answer" you might get if you asked.

Thanks again for highlighting the info policy.

sdc said...

Just to be clear, this was under the section titled: Filling a vacancy. Furthermore, it goes on to say ....when ever a vacancy occurs on teh Council, either though death or resignation.....blah blah blah. There is no confusion to what they are referring to, only confusion in implementing thier own guidelines

sdc said...

and my typing skills

dian said...

SDC,

Having in my possession one of these booklets, I can confirm that you are correct in what you say. Can you find either the e-mail or the first letter sent out to applicants? I can find neither, and think I remember them saying to be advised that everything we submitted for consideration was to be public information. Would like to have this confirmed or denied.

There are also other parts of this process that were not followed to the letter. They are:

*During the week following distribution of applicant information, Council members will hold a meeting to become better acquainted with the applicants, and to allow applicants to ask questions pertaining to the role of a Council member. This meeting is for information exposure only, no formal interviewing will take place at this time...

(Applicants were not allowed to ask questions.)

It goes on:

...If presentations are given the following guidelines will be followed...

...The presentation order will be determined by lot at the meeting with one name being drawn at a time.


(As we know, this was not done, the drawing of lots being accomplished by persons as yet unknown before the night of the presentations, and allegedly witnessed by the City Recorder's office.)

...The Council Executive Director provides an overview of responsibilities and duties of Council Members...

(Mr. Cook did not do this. In fact, one of the questions was something like---What do you think the responsibilities and duties of Council Members are?

...Answers to the questions will be limited to two minutes per question...

(Applicants received less than two minutes per question.)

Moving on, however, here is what is supposed to happen tonight:

One at a time, the individuals will be invited to approach the podium, make general remarks, and be interviewed by the Council. The order of the interviews is by lot at the meeting with one name selected at a time.

Let's see if that happens---those of you who attend.

The stance that applicants' info was not public information and the stance that the order of appearance in the first round was pre-determined was justified by the city's statements per Ms. Zampedri that it had received requests to do things this way. One wonders who was/is making these requests and why they were granted and who decided to grant them.

Is this nitpicking? I don't think so, really. These guidelines are contained in the section entitled "Council Norms," and these discuss things like how much they will reimburse you for your travel, etc. etc.

When people begin playing fast and loose with guidelines, the question then becomes--Who decides which of these guidelines we follow and which ones we don't? And then: Is it ethical to hold all others to these guidelines when some have not been followed and there is no Council due process explaining and/or justifying why they were not followed? Were there decisions made by the entire Council to change this process in the way it was changed? Somehow I don't think so.

Nitpicking though it may seem, doesn't it throw the whole procedural booklet and the whole process itself into question? Meaning that if these guidelines are followed only when following them suits some people, does it not seem that our local government is not working the way it was intended to?

sharon said...

Good stuff today. Curm..most excellent reporting. Thanx.
Jason W...I laffed out loud!!
SDC...Have you reminded Jesse of this booklet y'all were asked to read?
What's the name of the book...I'll email today. I've been requesting that the resumes be given out at the meeting prior to the PROBING???? questions the Fab Five will answer.
Really appreciate the comments about and the link to Taylor's letter.
Ringers Ringers everywhere...put there by Godfrey, I do declare!

Posting the agenda on Ch 17 in no way equates to keeping the public informed about what goes on at the CC meetings. sheesh.
No more enlightening than reading the Council agenda in the SE.
BTW...it seems that the way business is conducted at the CC mtgs...reading the agenda is about all we get. Does it seem to other attendees that everything is decided in those blasted 'work' meetings, and the illustrous come out, and vote??
Very seldom is the public invited to make a comment on the issue at hand.
If you want to say something about anything...get up ASAP and say it even if they are talking about sewer lines. (sometimes that's an appropriate time!)

Thanx, Curm. PS Dian, just read your post...what is the name of the booklet?

Curmudgeon said...

SDC:
OK. Thanks. That takes care of that point.

Marvin G said...

The fix is in. It has been a done deal since Godfrey appointed the famously incompetent Glassman to the the city trough. There could be no other explanation as to why the city would hire this loser.

Godfrey has at least two ringers in the race. One of them will be on the council. After tonight the Gondola will be a slam dunk for Godfrey. Jeske and Wicks will be no match for this Godfrey council.

sdc said...

I have my originaly letter and it didn't address information sharing.

And no I haven't addressed it with the Chair, nor am I going to. The book was called:

Ogden City Council: At Large Seat A Applicants

I beleive it was an attempt to get everyone up speed as quickly as possible. I think that government should be as transparent as possible and I think that it was unfortunate that the information wasn't shared with the general public.

dian said...

Ah ha!!

I knew I remembered them saying that it was public info, and I thought it was in that letter. Thanks for checking, SDC. And I have found where I got the idea that it was public info.

It was from Bill Cook's Ogden City Council Press Release announcing the opening. Here is the salient part:

Qualified applicants should submit a letter of interest and resume to the Ogden City Council Office by Monday, September 11, 2006 at 5:00PM (2549 Washington Blvd., Ste. 320, Ogden, UT 84401; citycouncil@ci.ogden.ut.us). Applicants are encouraged to utilize the letter of interest and resume to highlight their qualifications for the position. Note that all information submitted to the Council Office will be made part of the public record.

This press release was indexed and saved to the WCF archives by our Most Highly Esteemed Blogmeister. (Great save, Rudi!) It can be found here:

Ogden City Council Press Release 8/31/06

I knew I'd seen it in some official communication. There we have it. So how and under what conditions did this change occur?

Curmudgeon said...

Dian:

Thanks very much for the excerpt and the link to the full Cook press release. Am forwarding around to folks I think might find it interesting.

Some in city govt. occasionally seem puzzled by the suspicion those not in government have about their actions and motives. They suggest, sometimes, that people out here are paranoid, or at least conspiracy fans, finding base motives and nefarious conspiracies afoot all the time. Granted, there is some of that about. But a great deal of the suspicion out here is generated by the Council [or the Mayor or the planning staff], however unintentially, when things like this happen.

The Council calls for letters of interest and notifies potential applicants that anything they submit will become part of the public record. Then the SE asks for copies of the letters submitted by the five finalists, and is told "no" by the Council [or its spokepersons] because the letters contain private information. Thus flatly contradicting what was said in Mr. Cook's press release on behalf of the Council.

And they wonder why people are suspicious? Hard to see how anyone faced with the facts listed above would not naturally begin asking "What's going on here? What are they trying to hide?"

I know for a fact that interested citizens have been asking the Council to make the letters public for a while now. Nada. And when the SE asked, it's told no.

What the hell is going on?

2bits said...

Here's what is going on...the Council had pre decided on about 15 people they were going to consider based on prior knowledge, letters of interest, and resumes. Out of those 14 or 15, the information they provided probably indicated a strong leaning toward a particular stance on pending issues. Being that the Council is trying to play it safe as possible and not wanting to ruffle any feathers on either side, it was best to let as little information out as possible. Don't you think LO people would be up in arms if 10 of the 15 they were focused on were SG poeple...especially gived the whole perception is reality dialog regarding the planning commission appointment.

Then out of those 14 or 15 they battled for 90 minutes to determine which five would be the least problematic and most likely to be able to make a quick and easy transition.

Turns out that people who are paid by the government tend to serve on a lot of committees and have resumes that reflect such. From a point of view where you are looking for someone to serve in that manner you would look for said resumes.

The last thing you would want out in the public is information that showed interested people who, instead of serving on committees all the time, were actually out building businesses and had some real concern about the future economic viability of the community they lived in...and you passed on them because you were playing it safe.

My guess is that the little speeches had little or no impact on the selection. It was an attempt, again, not to be critizied...perception v. reality again.

This just reiterates my thought that these fine folks are going to have a battle on their hands come election time when things are not so easily hidden and the resumes of those competing against them are actually championed.

ed said...

The fix is in.

It will be the Admiral or the crooked builder.

Godfrey will win either way.

dian said...

More of what is supposed to occur from aforementioned booklet:

*During the next formal Council meeting, or in a Council meeting called specifically for the appointment in order to meet the thirty day deadline imposed by Utah State Law, the interviews will be conducted and a closed executive session held where the Council will discuss the results of the interview. The Council returns to open session and selects an appointee which must be by a majority vote. If there is not a majority vote the top two candidates are reinterviewed and another vote takes place. If still no majority the selection is by lot between the two candidates. The new Council Member is sworn in by the City Recorder.

No reason here for Council Members to feel it their responsibility to come to a harmonious agreement. This lot drawing could be called into play.

Somebody keep track of how the vote goes, please.

"Ogden City Council At Large Seat A Applicants September 12, 2006, Appendix D, Office Procedures, Page 38.

Ogden resident and non-cable subscriber said...

Is it right to spend taxpayer funds on a channel that reaches only a portion of the population? It is my understanding that Channel 17 is currently funded by a franchise fee paid to Ogden City by every Comcast cable subscriber. It is only available to those subscribers. What about those with DISH/Direct TV/satellite? Or citizens who do not choose to subscribe to any sort of television entertainment package?

I'm all for improving quality, accuracy and timeliness of information on the ogdencity.com website, but investing taxpayer dollars into something with limited reach (broadcasting meetings does not sound inexpensive) is not something I can support.

Curmudgeon said...

Ogden Resident:

I think half the station costs come from an add-on fee collected by Comcast, the other half comes from city funds [tax raised].

If there is a better way to deliver city info than a cable channel, fine with me. But at the moment, the cable channel exists as the city channel, partially publically funded, partially funded by cable subscribers. As long as that is so, it makes little sense to me not to use it as a means of airing Council meetings. And schoolboard meetings. [In other cities I've lived in with public cable channels, both such meetings are aired, several times a week following the live meeting as a matter of course.] To have a channel in place [using any delivery system] paid for by taxpayers even in part, and to have it serve as the Mayor's plaything and propaganda source nearly exclusively makes even less sense.

I am not suggesting "broadcasting" the Council meetings live over the air. That would be prohibitively expensive. But there is a taping system already in place in the Council chamber. The meetings are up on video monitors in the council chamber, so the cameras are in. I see little or no expence in simply taking the resulting tapes, following a meeting, and running them on Channel 17. Do you?

For myself, I'd rather have them pull the plug on Channel 17 entirely and save the city the money it spends to support it, and have the cable company cut out the fee they collect from me for it, rather than see it continue as the All Godfrey/Geiger/Gondola all the time channel. Or close.

sharon said...

get to the CC meeting, y'all

sharon said...

Anyone catch that Syracuse's COUNCIL thinks the mayor has too much control????

Would it be a glorious day if/when THIS council slaps the greedy sticky fingers of Ogden's resident 'visionary ' guru?

Big Al said...

PEOPLE! Dian wrote: "It was from Bill Cook's Ogden City Council Press Release announcing the opening." Also, the SE contacted Susan Zampedri for information. NEITHER OF THESE PEOPLE ARE ON THE COUNCIL!! They are Council STAFF! Why blame the Councilmembers? They probably didn't know what was going on. I've found the best way to get a response from the Council is to email it or the specific Council member you want.

I'd really be concerned if I was the Council, and the people I trusted to guide me can't get their act together or remember 30 days what they told the applicants. Don't they read the things they write?

No wonder Ogden is the blunt of "dumkoffs" jokes -- the Council depends on its staff to advise them and keep them up to date (and Cook is one of Ogden's "golden boys" who makes more than $100,000. a year, reported by the SE) and he causes such undue embarrassesment to the Council because he can't remember! I hope he apologizes to them and it should be done PUBLICLY! That's the least he can do.

Curmudgeon said...

Big Al:

Sorry, but the Council members apparently approved refusal to release the letters to the SE. They are named in the story by Scott Schwebke in this morning's paper [first page, Top of Utah section.] The person who seems to have lept to inorrect conclusions on this is, apparently, you. The Council members say they are going to revise their procedures so that in the future letters from potential appointees will not be "public record" and will not have to be released.

Secondly: Mr. Cook is Council staff. He works for the Council and he is responsible to it. If the Council is not satisfied by his work, the Council can do something about it. But since he is Council staff, and speaks on behalf of the Council in that capacity, the Council is responsible for him.

By the way, the members I have talked to do not seem to have a problem with Mr. Cook's work on their behalf.

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