Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Meeting Update -- Housekeeping Note & Planning Commission Contact Information

Please note that we've made a new addition to our upper-left sidebar "Government Toolkit."

The ever-vigilant Dian has just sent us a pdf file containing semi-complete contact information for the Emerald City Planning Commission. Mr. Wheelright, Ms. Brockman and Ms. Larsen are of course no longer on the commission, according to our understanding, and we don't seem to find informsation for the newest member, Ms. Holman; but the list seems to otherwise complete as to the remaining members.

We've uploaded the file to our storage site, and constructed a sidebar link.

Alternatively, this information is also viewable here.

Gentle readers who are concerned about tomorrow night's summary modification of planning and zoning rules affecting our Mt. Ogden Parklands property are strongly urged to get moving on this.

We're also anticipating the upload within the next several hours of the precise text of Uncle Montgomery's proposed planning and zoning changes; so be sure to check back later.

Update 11/1/06 4:20 p.m. MT -- Per Curmudgeon:

WE just received the following email/meeting update from SGO:

Updated information on tonight's Planning Commission meeting: Please note that the Sensitive Area Overlay Zone Ordinance and the Mixed Use Ordinance are not scheduled for consideration by the commission until 8:15.

We learned today that it is highly unlikely that these items would be moved up on the agenda, no matter how many concerned residents are in attendance, because other presenters have arranged to come when they appear on the agenda.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

We hope you will come to the meeting, but there is no need to arrive before about 7:45 or so. Here's an idea -- support our downtown by having on 25th Street [or at another downtown restaurant< -- Curm] and then come to the meeting.

Hope to see you there.

No Grenades on Election Eve

The long-awaited Decaria report will be delayed again, according to this morning's Standard-Examiner story.

"It's not done, which is unfortunate, County Attorney Decaria told Ace Reporter Schwebke yesterday. Mr. Decaria expects to release this report NEXT Monday -- the day before the election -- today's headline story reports. Unfortunate indeed, we say -- disastrous might be a better description. Mr. Decaria, (himself a candidate (unopposed for re-election on the Democratic ticket,) presently finds himself in a real political tight spot, we think. At this stage of the game his position is lose-lose, if he releases his report on the eve of an important State Senate election.

If his report exonerates Jon Greiner, he'll be accused of playing politics, and helping out his law enforcement colleague, a Republican. If the report slams Greiner, Mr. Decaria will be accused of dropping a political grenade to help out his cronies in the Democratic party.

The public's right to know bumps headlong into the public's equally-important right to a fair election in this instance, we think. Whatever conclusions are contained in the report, the public will have little time to rationally digest them, if released next Monday, and neither political party with horses in the Senate 18 race will have fair opportunity to respond with their own interpretations prior to the election. Whatever the conclusions, Mr. Decaria's report could be political dynamite, subject to pre-election "spinning" by folks with less-than-noble motives.

The best strategy for Mr. Decaria at this juncture, we think, is to withhold his findings until after the election. The public has waited for a couple of months now, and the public can wait another couple of days.

We'd feel differently if Mr. Decaria were releasing a binding judicial decision based upon the adversarial input of all the parties involved in this unfortunate mess. Mr. Decaria's opinion in this instance however, will be one man's opinion only, and will not be legally-binding on anyone.

Regardless of the nature of the findings in Mr. Decaria's report, we believe Mr. Decaria should exercise sound prosecutorial discretion, and release his report in a manner best calculated to cause the least confusion and disruption of the election process.

That means AFTER the election, gentle readers.

That's out position and we're sticking to it.

And what say our gentle readers about this?

(We'll post a link to the Std-Ex story as soon as it's available on the web, by the way. At the moment, the Std-Ex storage site seems to be experiencing technical problems.)

Congrats to the Std-Ex for this, BTW. It couldn't have happened to a nicer newspaper. And we at Weber County Forum would like to think we play our own small part in helping boost Standard-Examiner circulation. Focusing daily as we do, on the stories that appear on the Std-Ex print edition pages, we believe we enhance the Std-Ex's relevance in our community. Notwithstanding the frequent "digs" that appear on our electronic pages, we don't know what we'd do without the Std-Ex. We get the feeling sometimes that they look at us as news-vampires. We view the relationship as symbiotic and mutually beneficial, however.

Don't let the cat get your tongues this morning, folks.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Judging a Wanna-be Developer by His Demonstrated "Performance"

This morning's Standard-Examiner headline, "WSU waiting for gondola plan," suggests the question that many of us in our Emerald City community have been asking with increasing urgency:

"Where the hell is Chris Peterson, and his "plan?"

And the other real estate stake-holder, the Emerald City council likewise remains entirely and completely in the dark, according to this morning's Scott Schwebke headline story.

Mr. Peterson and his Gondola Cult Zombie-henchmen have spent over a year splitting our community down the middle, and subjected us to a relentless military-style "shock and awe"public relations barrage. We've witnessed with painful embarrassment the ludicrous spectacle of our city's #1 elected executive officer behaving as a common huckster, scheduling incessant public and private propaganda sessions, wasting public assets, hanging with a very devious and dubious crowd, and turning the tactic of political arm-twisting into a lower art-form all its own. We've watched as our city council has bent over backwards to demonstrate its "good faith," without even a hint of reciprocity on Mr. Peterson's part. And in the ultimate demonstration of dumb blind faith, our Emerald City planning commission is reportedly on the brink of expediting the process of dis-assembling our existing planning and zoning scheme, just in case Mr. Peterson ever does come through with anything tangible. "We have to get it done before the end of the year, " says, Boss Godfrey's Uncle (Greg) Montgomery. "Time is of the essence," he says.

How embarrassing... for us.

"The ball is in Mr. Peterson's court," we say. "It's put up or shut up time. " It's time either to (do something entirely unprintable on our nice family blog...) "or get off the pot," as the old country folk-saying goes.

Of course, Mr. Peterson "cannot be reached for comment," even by the very tenacious Ace Reporter Schwebke. The closest thing reporter Schwebke can find approaching an actual public Peterson statement for today's article is something said way back in August by by Mr. Peterson's hired Salt Lake City mouthpiece: "A development agreement could come sometime this fall," is what Mr. Ellison said. (We assumed at the time that he was talking about the fall of 2006.)

So what say our gentle readers? Isn't it time for Mr. Peterson the "Show us the Beef?"

And we'll add one more tidbit. This is all rumor; so take it for what it's worth::

We are receiving persistent reports that Mr. Peterson may have already and quietly "pulled the plug" on his ambitious but un-sellable gondola/landgrab scheme. According to one anonymous but heretofor trustworthy source, Peterson has already "called off" his investors. If this is the case, we urge Mr. Peterson to behave in a gentlemanly way, let the citizens of Emerald City off the hook, and publicly inform us that the "plan" is DOA. That way we can get back to the business of reveling in the real economic revitaliztion that seems to be happening all around us now.

So please speak up, gentle readers. Does there really remain any reason to take this Peterson guy seriously? Hasn't he wasted enough of our time and energy already? Is Mr. Peterson's demonstrated performance (or lack thereof) the kind of performance we would expect of the developer-linchpin in any important public-private partnership? Isn't it time that the citizens of Emerald City just cut this sad-sack loose? Isn't it time for Boss Godfrey to cut his losses, and remove this ridiculous albatross from his political neck? Wouldn't Boss Godfrey be entitled to at least a little bit of praise... if he admitted he was wrong just this once?

So many questions... so few answers.

The floor is open.

Happy Monday morning, everyone!

Update 10/30/06 3:01 p.m. MT: There is a Smart Growth Ogden letter circulating via snail-mail regarding the upcoming November 1, 2005 Planning Commission meeting, during which that body has MAJOR CHANGES slated for Emerald City's zoning ordinances.

Although we have Curmudgeon posting here, and other Smart Growth members reading...

We wonder why NOBODY IN THAT ORGANIZATION has published info about Wednesday's critical planning commision meeting here.

Here's the letter we received (indirectly) today from somebody on the Smart Growth list who's a little "pissed" about this oversight:

RE: Wednesday 11/1/06 Planning Commission meeting

Turf battle brewiug here in the Emerald City underground perhaps?

We would think Smart Growth would be wanting to get the message out.

Oh well...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Unwarranted Fawning Praise & Legitimate Citizen Gripes

All neatly packaged in today's Standard-Examiner edition

The Standard-Examiner delivers the Emerald City townsfolke a real Std-Ex/Boss Godfrey love-fest this morning, with shameless and sophomoric rah-rah pieces plastered all over its front page, and weaving deeply into its back-pages. Through the magic of our web-based Weber County Forum blog medium, readers around the world can instantaneously learn of the sheer wonderfulness of Boss Godfrey, by simply clicking the links here and here.

"Rising from the dust," blares the Std-Ex main headline. A fair description, we concede. We remember all too well that vacant square block in the heart of our downtown, which languished muddy or dusty for most of Boss Godfrey's 6-year reign. We're grateful that at least that vision won't haunt us for yet one more Halloween.

Yeah. It's nice to finally see some activity downtown. And we're keeping our fingers crossed that it all succeeds, inasmuch as we dumb taxpayers are invested up to our eyeballs in all this.

We suppose the timing of these articles in some way relates to next week's election. Remember, Senate 18 candidate Stuart Reid is the true architect of all this. Reid is the guy who actually comes up with all the good stuff, as Boss Godfrey admits in his more candid private moments. It's a handy division of neoCON labor. Reid does all the scheming. Godfrey claims the visions and takes the credit.

And Boss Godfrey isn't ready to sit back and rest on his laurels. He stays up nights with his buddy Stu concocting even more grandiose projects and schemes, one of these articles reports. And lest we be lulled into a false sense of confidence -- the Peterson Landgrab is "key" to the whole vision -- the ever-restless Boss Godfrey reminds us. As long as there remains a single parcel of Emerald City taxpayer property that can be either sold or hocked, Godfrey will be gulping No-Doz and huddling up with Mr. Reid -- and the frantic efforts of this financially dysfunctional duo, to remake Emerald City into a giant amusement park, will continue unabated.

We find two other potential topic threads in today's Std-Ex Letters Section:

Std-Ex reader letters are starting to trickle in on the subject of Chief Greiner's Hatch Act problem. Read David Blaylock's intelligent take here, and Bruce Gladwell's here.

And Emerald city resident Steve Conlin takes a well-deserved shot at the Emerald City Council's new all-purpose government secrecy policy in this hard-hitting reader letter.

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Something to Chew Upon During the Weekend

We find several very interesting items in this morning's news:

1) From Kristen Moulton's Salt Lake Tribune story:

Two environmental groups are taking issue with the number of jobs Ogden City contends would be created by a gondola system and mountain ski resort above the city.

In a news release Friday afternoon, Save Our Canyons and the Ogden Sierra Club said that the number of jobs the city expects will be directly created by the proposed gondola and resort falls far short of what the city has been projecting.
For the convenience of our gentle readers, we've obtained and uploaded a JPEG version of the subject non-public document obtained by these two activist groups via their GRAMA request. The document is available for viewing here. Perhaps a few of our gentle readers will chime in, and expand upon this purported disparity.

2) It appears that the long-awated Mark Decaria "Vangate" report will actually be made public prior to the election, according to this morning's Standard-Examiner story:
OGDEN — Results of a nearly three month investigation into the suspension of a police officer whose wife was spotted driving a van adorned with a sign criticizing Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey and the city’s ticket writing policy is expected to be released Monday, according to Weber County Attorney Mark DeCaria.

DeCaria was applying finishing touches Friday to the report that is expected to run several pages. He declined to disclose the investigation’s findings, pending the release of the report.
While we've received unfulfilled teasers on this subject before, we spoke with County Attorney Decaria yesterday, who personally confirmed that his report will be available early next week. Mr. Decaria also assured us that your ever-humble blogmeister is right there on his media email list, so we'll post whatever information we get, as soon as it becomes available. Presumably, you'll be reading about it here, in advance of the print media.

3) In related news, The Standard-Examiner reports that Ogden City, along with a pair of Ogden's Finest, have been named as defendants in a lawsuit stemming from last year's fatal collision, in which a fleeing suspect recklessly broad-sided a vehicle at the intesection of 24th Street and Grant Avenue, killing two occupants. Among the named defendants is the unfortunate OPD officer Matt Jones, whose recent professional experience seems to painfully demonstrate the truth of the old folk axiom" When it rains, it pours."

4) Inasmuch as we took the day off yesterday, and thus failed to report the latest developments in our again-simmering Senate 18 race, we link yesterday's Standard-Examiner story, which reports that the evil neoCON Stuart Reid is once again back on the campaign trail, with Chief Greiner expected (by us) to return to the hunt early in the week. And yes, gentle readers, Mr. Greiner's legal counsel appears to be well aware of the Richard Perkins case, which you read about first, right here on our Weber County Forum electronic pages.

Have at it gentle readers.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Thursday Morning Potpourri

We find several interesting items in this morning's Standard-Examiner.

First, a hearty Weber County Forum tip o' the hat to the Std-Ex publisher, editors and staff for today's Weber Plus election section. Not only does the Std-Ex deliver stories on our pending federal Senate and House of Representative races, but also six full pages of candidate profiles for the contested races in Box Elder, Morgan and Weber Counties. This is by far the best general election coverage we've seen from the Standard-Examiner within recent memory, and we thank the Standard for providing this useful information.

For the convenience of those WCF readers in remote locations who follow Weber County politics, but don't have print edition readily at hand, we link those articles diectly affecting Weber County voters here.

In this connection, we note that the Std-Ex seems to be developing a separate election module on its non-pay site. We'll be watching this site closely as the November 7 election date approaches, and hope the Std-Ex's IP people soon come to the realization that there are other colors in the internet pallette beyond black and shades of grey.

Secondly, we are encouraged to learn that Republican State Senate candidate Jon Greiner is working actively to defuse the negative publicity he's received this past week due to his pending Hatch Act investigation. As we suggested earlier, we believe the voters deserve to make their own choice, and that the outcome of our Senate 18 race should not depend upon the arbitrary decision of some Washington bureaucrat. Read all about it here.

Finally, we've learned from one of our lower comments sections that Smart Growth Ogden apparently put on a public event last night, geared toward the Peterson/Godfrey Land-grab. If somebody wants to send us a write-up on this event, we'd be glad to put it up as a main article.

Meanwhile, we link this morning's Deb Badger Standard-Examiner letter to the editor, just to kick-start the discussion.

Have at it gentle readers.

Talk about whatever suits your fancy.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Heads Up! Changes Proposed to Ogden City & Community Plans

Council Notes 10.24.06

By Dian Woodhouse

The Ogden City Council convened a few minutes late tonight after returning from a Field Trip. One noticed a distinct look of aliveness about them as they entered the Chambers, indicating perhaps that they might want to get out a bit more. This Field Trip was taken for the purpose of inspecting several locations in Ogden City at which, later in the meeting, the zoning requirements were proposed to be changed.

There was one correction of previous minutes, by Councilman Safsten. The minutes he reviewed were of a Work Session on September 7th and a Special Meeting of September 20th. In one of these, reference was made to the 21st Street pond, and Councilman Safsten took exception to the use of the words, "square feet," stating that the words used should refer to "the long term level of the pond." The square footage figure was 4,268. I confess myself baffled by this distinction, and interested persons should probably get copies of these minutes to further understand this change.

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee was up for Sunset Review this evening, and the report included a veritable laundry list of all the things this committee is involved in. Some were: clean-up plans, working with schools, identifying potential park facilities, giving input on playground equipment, trail systems, lending help to kayak park, Lindquist field, etc., very active in passing RAMP tax, development and review of appropriations, involvement with Pioneer Days Rodeo, Christmas Village, and economic development insofar as drawing companies to Ogden. The wish of the committee chair was that the committee be "used more effectively" by the city, that it be involved in even preliminary discussions involving land use and business relocation to Ogden, for example. "I want to offer us up as a resource," the Chair stated.

Councilwoman Jeske requested that the committee put forward a list as to what its skills and resources are, and the Chair agreed to do this

Councilman Stephens asked the Chair to outline the Committee's goals and objectives. The Chair listed three: completion of the trail system, continuing the process concerning a shared athletic complex, and getting more people involved in programs. "Athletics are a great way to bring a community together," he said.

Councilman Safsten asked about a part of the Committee's written report that referred to "more study in consolidating parks," and wanted to know what that meant. The response was that our parks made us below the national average in open space. They are small, not huge tracts like Salt Lake, for instance, has. The Chair went on to say that this consolidation of parks idea was difficult in that the people who lived around these small parks were quite attached to them. (This made one wonder what is in store here, but the discussion went no further.)

Councilman Stephens asked what the Committee was doing with Youth Programs, and the answer was that they were starting by working with the schools. Councilwoman Jeske thanked the Chair for the work the Committee does, and mentioned the editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune regarding the need for open space, stating that Ogden's open space was one of its finest assets.

The motion to approve the extension of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee passed unanimously.

The next order of business was a group of Common Consent Items that all had to do with changing the zoning in certain areas and setting a public input hearing to address that. This motion to set the public hearing for all of these on November 7th was approved unanimously, and the areas being considered for this rezoning are:

578 East, 24th Street. Reclassify from Central Business District Zone (CBD) to Multiple Family Residential Zone East Central (R-3EC)

475 East 30th Street. Amend the T.O. Smith Community Plan to zone these properties Multiple Family Residential (R-3)

451 to 475 East 30th Street. Amend the zoning map of Ogden City to change this property, currently classified as Regional Commercial Zone (CP-3) and Single Family Residential Zone (R-1-6,) to Multiple Family Residential Zone (CP-3)

750 North Washing Boulevard. Is currently P-I, proposed change is C-3.

Southeast Corner of 34th Street and Ogden Avenue. Provision of zoning options of Regional Commercial Zone/Conditional Overlay Zone (C-3/C-O). Property is now classified as Single Family Residential Zone (R-1.) In order to accomplish this, both the Zoning Map of Ogden City and the Ogden City General Plan will need to be amended.

(If after reading the above, you have become extremely fascinated with zoning and can't get enough of it, the Ogden City Website has a good page on it, especially the FAQ part, which lists all the letters and numbers and what they mean.)

Next were Administrative Reports, of which there was one, presented by John Arrington. This was a proposed amendment to Ordinance 2006-67, which is the 2007-2011 Capital Improvement Plan, to add two more projects. These projects were approved in the budget session but were not assigned budget numbers, and so this amendment is necessary to add them to the project list, Mr. Arrington said. The two new projects are: the Kayak Park, and the establishment of Glasmann Park.

The motion to approve this ordinance passed unanimously.

At this point in the meeting, a Troop of Boy Scouts filed in. Chair Garcia promptly moved the agenda, or backed up the agenda, recognized them, and asked them to come up to the podium one by one and state their name, address, and badge they were working on. "Thirty years from now, you will have this in the minutes of this meeting," Chairman Garcia said.

The scouts did as he requested. There were ten of them from Troop 18. Most were working on the citizenship badge. After they had all introduced themselves, Council woman Jeske addressed them.

"I'm going to challenge you to get that Eagle Award," she said, adding that the award was a real plus in getting ahead in life as well as in scouting. "I hope I'll see you all at that Eagle Dinner," she told them. "Congratulations, and keep up the good work."

There were no Administrative Comments, and the only Council Comments were from Councilman Safsten, who addressed the recent editorial in the Standard Examiner regarding the fact that Ogden City has the "dubious distinction" of a very high tax rate. Councilman Safsten went on to say that there were two ways to approach this problem--lower the taxes, and increase the tax base. Since he had been on the Council, it had consistently tried to do both.

Lowering the taxes is easy, the Councilman said, because "all that takes is a vote." Increasing the tax base is more difficult because, "You are dependent on third parties--outside investors to come in and invest in the city."

There was then a motion to adjourn to Closed Executive Session to discuss pending litigation, and for the purpose of discussing the purchase, sale, exchange, or lease of real property, etc.

The Council would then reconvene as the RDA in a Work Session to discuss the mall parking structure and plaza, and board business.

After this RDA Work Session, the Council would then reconvene to hold a City Council Work Session to discuss Council Business.

Long night for them, for sure.

Editorial comments: I have two more suggestions for increasing the tax base in Ogden City, in addition to the much touted one of having to attract outside investors. Perhaps the city could be a bit more supportive of local businesses and local investors, giving them the same consideration, perks, and "special deals" commonly heretofore reserved for those outside the community who appear to have large financial resources. Secondly, consider cutting the fat in the local governmental structure, which, along with the tax rate, is one of the largest in the State of Utah.

The Public Safety Advisory Committee, I recall, also requested at its review to be more involved with the City, making one wonder if these Advisory Committees are indeed an untapped resource.

Anyone who knows what's in store for the proposed rezoning areas should chime in and tell us more, I think.

And where is Glasmann park to be? Anyone know?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Taste Most "Fowl" -- Boss Godfrey and Reid Better Not Count Their Chickens -- Yet

We loved this Ace Reporter Schwebke masterpiece in this morning's Standard-Examiner:

Greiner remains on ballot; campaign plans on hold.

Poor ole' Scott Schwebke thought he'd delivered The Godfrey Propaganda Organ coup de gras upon Republican Senate 18 candidate Greiner with this crafty article. So did many of our gentle readers, judging from comments in the lower sections.

Sorry Scott... no such luck.

We've spent much of the last two days talkin' to a few of our snitches - and some legal fellers in SLC and Washington, D.C. And guess what?

Our conclusion is that Jon Greiner is by no means outta the Senate 18 hunt -- at least not because of the Hatch Act.. Pass it on.

Here's the kicker:

Board upholds Perkins ruling
Lawmaker prevails again in Hatch Act complaint

The Perkins case involves a Deputy Police chief in Henderson Nevada, who ran for the Nevada legislature in 2001 and ultimately became the Nevada State Assembly Speaker.

Somewhere along the line, somebody put in a Hatch Act Complaint.

The facts in the Perkins case are almost completely analogous to the instant Greiner case.

After two+ years of battling with federal administrative agency beaureaucrats, Perkins remains the Nevada Assemby Speaker. Federal Counsel lost TWO straight legal rounds in this extended battle (trial & appeal) before they The Office of Special Counsel finally threw in the towel.

No. Bureaucratic federal attorneys in Washington are neither omiciscient nor omnipotent. The federal Office of Special Persecutors got their ass handed to them in the Perkins Matter, before they finally gave up.

Yes. The Perkins case sets precedent.

Legal precedent of course doesn't mean Greiner will win the Senate 18 race, even if he's later vindicated in the courts. His campaign has been perhaps irretrievably corrupted by four straight Standard-Examiner stories, intended by the Godfrey forces to allow the most corrupt figure in the history of the universe (Reid) to glide into the State Senate by virtual default.

Even more sad is the fact that Boss Godfrey's pet shill, Stuart Reid, will possibly prevail in the November election, due to the barrage of misinformation the Standard-Examiner has disseminated about Republican Greiner's "Hatch Act Problems" during the last week.

As we said before, the evil Stuart Reid is an alternative far too horrible to contemplate.

We'll make no bones about it. Chief's Greiner's Republican political philosophy differs somewhat from ours. Of course we haven't really talked to the chief about this, and are relying in this assumption upon -- you guessed it -- The Standard-Examiner. (Maybe Chief Greiner will give us a ring one of these days and buy us lunch. We'd feel more self-assured about this if we got it from the horse's mouth.)

We do NOT believe that Chief Greiner has gotten a "fair shake" in this race.

We'll see what happens down the road, when it comes time to the counting of the chickens.

Regardless of the outcome, this race has left a very "fowl" taste in our mouth.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Somewhere, Old Joe's Ghost is Smilin'

Prying information loose from government has always been a key project in the development of this nation's democratic traditions. What James Madison wrote in 1822 remains just as true today: "A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and the people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power, which knowledge gives."
Open The Government.Org
October, 2006
We got a real kick out of this morning's Standard-Examiner guest commentary, wherein "somebody", ostensibly speaking on behalf of the Emerald City council, attempts to rationalize the council's most recent demonstration of tight government secrecy policy, in re the recent council seat "A" appointment matter.

In a nutshell, the author of today's overly-legalistic commentary regally informs the lumpencitizenry that the council already exceeded the bare legal minimum requirements for this process. It allowed us to look over its shoulder after all, as it selected its new council colleague. There was no legal obligation for the council to include the taxpayers in the process, somebody reminds us. "We could have lawfully conducted the whole process entirely behind closed doors," the commentary author hints. "We already went overboard to cater to you overly-nosey folks. Don't push your luck" is the message that we get from today's commentary.

And when it comes to matters of personal privacy, the council seemingly stands fast with its brand-new "seige mentality" attitude. From now on, privacy (and vague "security issues") will apparently trump the public's right to know important details about those who would write our laws and spend out taxpayer funds, presumably in every upcoming instance. Somewhere in a very warm corner of the universe we are sure that old Joe Stalin's ghost is wearing a little smile over this development. The Emerald City council has clearly jumped aboard the new-fangled anti-democratic neoCON-style government secrecy bandwagon.

We'll remind those public servants that the Fourth-amendment-derived "right of privacy," which the council has suddenly and vigorously invoked, is legally-dependent upon a "reasonable expectation of privacy." In the instant case, none of the council applicants enjoyed the reasonable expectation of broad privacy protection. These folks weren't applying to drive a lawn-mower on the Mt. Ogden Golf course. It was an elected seat on our city legislature that was at stake. Additionally, all of the information which was summarily suppressed by the council had been voluntarily and publicly disclosed, in circumstances wherein each applicant was on notice that such information would be made part of the public record, subject to public scrutiny.

Despite the council's protestations to the contrary, we believe the taxpayers have been fundamentally cut out of the selection process.

It's plain that at least some on the council don't trust the taxpayers with arguably crucial information, information that's essential to citizen oversight. And we'll also remind the council of this:

Trust is a two-way street in American democracy. Unless the council acts to correct this policy blunder, they can reasonably expect the citizen-electors to reciprocate, and demonstrate their own failure of trust, in November 2007.
We believe that the Emerald city council needs to be called out on this plainly bone-headed public posture; and we hope that the Standard-Examiner will follow through in aggressively pursuing its legal GRAMA remedies in this connection.

We'd also be interested in knowing whether the entire council agreed to the statement included in today's citizen unfriendly proclamation. Did the council vote unanimously, or is this just another example of council leadership being led along by the nose, and bowing to the agenda of council "mentor" Bill Cook?

Maybe a few of our gentle readers can help us out with these questions.

There's lot's of fodder for discussion of today's of Std-Ex guest commentary, we think.

Let's hear it from our gentle readers.

Friday, October 20, 2006

An Alternative Too Horrible to Contemplate -- UPDATED!

If it ain't broken, don't reckon you need to worry bout fixin' it.

WCF Goldmine Archives
Cowboy Wisdom
October 2006

Weber County Republicans came into the 2006 election season "sitting pretty," with incumbent State Senator Dave Thomas in place in his Senate 18 District seat.

Republican Senator Thomas, who had defeated Democrat Ed Allen in the November 2002 election, had made his mark on capitol hill, and had become one of Utah's better-respected state senators. Activively participating on numerous committees and the authoring and sponsoring much important legislation, Senator Thomas had become, for Districct 18 citizens, a legislator with increasing political clout -- a force to be reconned with -- a real local political asset.

Although we didn't always agree with everything Senator Thomas did during his term in the Senate, we always respected his intellect and reasoning. Above all, we respected his independance.

And when it came time for expressing our political preferences, we embraced the above cowboy wisdom and gave Dave our endorsement.

But for reasons which are still unclear, the Republicans of District 18 sought fit to "fix what wasn't broken," send their incumbent senator packing... and nominated Jon Greiner for the Senate 18 race.

And now, 100 days later, we're presented with this absolutely ridiculous development, courtesy of this morning' Standard-Examiner.

Your blogmeister researched the Hatch Act problem for another police officer friend about six months ago. The rules are not at all complicated:

The Hatch Act (5 U.S.C. §§ 1501 - 1508) restricts the political activity of individuals principally employed by state, county, or municipal executive agencies in connection with programs financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States or a federal agency. An employee covered by the Act may not be a candidate for public office in a partisan election, i.e., an election in which any candidate represents, for example, the Republican or Democratic party. It has long been established that an officer or employee of a state or local agency is subject to the Hatch Act if, as a normal and foreseeable incident of his principal position or job, he performs duties in connection with an activity financed in whole or in part by federal funds. In re Hutchins, 2 P.A.R. 160, 164 (1944), Special Counsel v Gallagher, 44 M.S.P.R. 57 (1990).

Although Chief Greiner says he consulted with legal counsel prior to entering this race, we find it difficult to believe that any competent lawyer would have ruled out a Hatch Act challenge. Perhaps Mr. Greiner should have called Rudi. Your blogmeister could have saved Greiner lots of trouble.

Now that the die is cast however, we urge Chief Greiner to finish what he has begun. District 18 Republicans have relied upon Jon Greiner's candidacy to their possible detriment. Greiner's only ethical option is to resign his Chief of Police job (or give uo 2 years' salary) and continue in his Senate candidacy, we think.

The alternative is this guy, gentle readers -- an outcome too horrible to contemplate.

You led the District 18 Republicans down the primrose path, Mister Greiner. We think you should finish what you started.

Update 10/21/06 9:26 p.m. MT: Today's news reveals that our beleguered Republican Senate 18 candidate actually did talk to a lawyer prior to knocking Dave Thomas outta the race with his heavily-Lindquist-financed primary campaign. According to today's Standard-Examiner story, Utah's #1 neoCON politician Mark Shurtleff told him that the police chief of a city with dang near the highest percentage of federal grants and revenues in Utah would have no Hatch Act problems when he recruited him. And Greiner apparently relied blindly upon this dismal and hopelessly incompetent advice.

Now Shurtleff and his Utah neoCON Republican party shills are telling him to hire "a real lawyer." SHEESH!

This story gets even more strange by the minute.

If Chief Greiner is getting the political shaft, we know who gets the blame.

We can only imagine what's coming up next in Monday's anticipated Std-Ex story.

And puh-leeze don't anybody tell us again that the definitely independant Jon Greiner is Boss Godfrey's bitch!

Reid and Boss Godfrey have run a fine District 18 campaign so far. They're merely reeling in Greiner's "rope," so to speak.

And you know what Weber County cowboys say about rope: When you get to the end of yours, tie a knot and hang on.

Show 'em who's the REAL BOSS, JON! You'd definitely have Rudi's vote... if he resided in YOUR district.

Rudi loves underdogs - especially O.H.S. homies who are opposed by Boss Godfrey.

Update 10/22/06 12:57 p.m. MT: The Standard-Examiner provides the latest news in the Senate 18 race brouhaha this morning. Republican candidate Jon Greiner has a hard decision to make by the Halloween witchin' hour, it appears.

No problem -- Mark Shurtleff will be preparing a "legal brief, we're assured. "The feds have no clue," our Utah AG sez, with a completely straight face.

"With 'friends' like Mark Shurtleff, who needs political opponents?" we ask.

"Hang in there Jon," we advise. We're sure the top law enforcement officer in the state will be able to up with something clever ( wink-wink) to find a way around the federal law that seemingly could not be more clear on its face.

And as an added bonus, the Std-Ex throws out another teaser. Mark Decaria will issue his long-awaited report "very soon" -- possibly even before the election.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Call Us "Old-School"

"If you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it."

John Pierpont Morgan
American Financier & Banker

"There's a sucker born every minute...and two to take 'em."

Phineas Taylor Barnum
Godfreyesque American Showman

Perhaps we're a bit old-fashioned here at Weber County Forum. Springing from a generation of sensible Americans who always check the water's depth before we dive in head-first, we have always approached real property transactions in a fairly standard time-honored sequence.

If we wish to sell a parcel of property, we at least make some effort to ascertain such property's value before we put it on the market.

In those instances where we have a seemingly eager prospective buyer on hand, we don't alter our legal position in any manner until we at least have a firm offer on the table. And obtaining reliable appraisals or comparative market analyses is of course a fundamental prerequisite to entering into the bargaining process in such instances -- something that should happen early in the game. To do otherwise is imprudent and reckless, we believe. If we had a real estate broker or lawyer who might recommend that we sign any binding preliminary agreements before we had obtained reliable market data and arrived at at least a general agreement as to purchase price and and other essential performance terms, we'd also be looking into that individual's malpractice insurance coverage, or begin shopping for a new legal representative altogether.

We are therefore absolutely mystified by the conduct of some Emerald City elected officials and bureaucrats, who seem to be rushing headlong into a wholesale modification of our planning and zoning rules in connection with the Peterson Landgrab Matter. Absent at least some general and realistic idea of purchase price and terms, we fail to understand why we are doing anything at all to facilitate this factually-murky proposed transaction.

The Emerald City Planning Commission nevertheless held a work-session last night, with three troubling items on the agenda:

  • Modification of the city's Sensitive Overlay Ordinance.
  • Enactment of a new Multiple Use Development Ordinance.
  • Modification of the now-ongoing Mt. Ogden Community Plan process.
Whether these issues are actually ripe for full discussion in the forum now, we just don't know. We do believe however that there is evidence of effort on the part of some elected officials and staff bureaucrats to recklessly alter the legal position of Emerald City in this matter before it appears on the public radar screen; so we believe it's necessary that we at least open up the discussion.

In this connection we have plucked a concise report of last night's meeting from one of our lower comments sections. We link board-regular Curmudgeon's eyewitness narrative here, for our gentle readers' attention.

Most troubling to us is the apparent intention, on the part of some of our elected and appointed public servants, to bind the citizens of Emerald City into a murky "pre-development agreement," even prior to the presentation of any purchase offer -- and in the complete absence of any appraisal data.

We will attempt today to obtain and link the full-text versions of all proposed ordinance and planning process changes; and will hopefully publish an early update here.

In the meantime though, please regard this article as a "heads-up." We have a city administration that's notorious for backroom dealing and chicanery; and we believe we need to watch these people like hawks. But then we're "old-school," as we said.

The floor is open for discussion.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Downtown Assessments, Developments & Events


By Dian Woodhouse

The first order of business, quickly dispatched, was to set a public hearing for November 7th, 2006, "providing for the annexation to Ogden City of 2.21 acres of land continuous to the corporate limits of said City, which land is generally located at 1238 West 2550 South." This was approved unanimously by Common Consent.

The next issue of import on the table I will reproduce from the agenda:

Central Business Improvement District No. 1. Proposed Resolution 2006-27 respecting the continuation of the Ogden City, Utah, Central Business Improvement District No. 1 and use of a special assessment to fund economic promotion activities in accordance with State law; to appoint a Board of Equalization and Review; to authorize City officials to give notice of the completion of the assessment list and of the time and place of related public hearings; to authorize City official to prepare all necessary documents to further consider levying an assessment; and related matters. (Adopt/not adopt resolution -- roll call vote.)

I reproduced that because I read something similar in the newspaper and did not have the slightest idea of what this was, then read the agenda and was similarly baffled. It was not until the background was given by Mr. McConkie that it began to make a bit of sense.

"(This)...Resolution pertains to funding of special events and promotional activities," Mr. McConkie began. He went on to say that prior to 1993, a fee had been tacked on to the business license fees of those operating downtown businesses to help fund downtown events. In 1993, the funding source for these events and promotional activities was changed to be an assessment against downtown property owners. (One of the alleged reasons for this change was that there were quite a few vacant buildings downtown, the owners of which were not contributing to the funding.) Also in 1993, the city contracted with Downtown Ogden Inc., which is run as a non-profit organization, (501-c-3, I believe,) under the leadership of Mr. Dan Musgrave. The Board of Downtown Ogden Inc., is comprised of downtown business and property owners as well as Mayor Godfrey and Councilman Stephenson. This Board makes recommendations as to how the money from the above assessments on properties is to be used.

The Resolution, therefore, will allow this process of levying assessments on the properties of downtown business owners to go forward. Also will be established a "Board of Equalization and Review," and three dates will be given as to when the assessed can go before this Board to discuss their property assessment.

Councilman Stephenson asked how the assessment is collected. The answer was that a letter is sent out to the property owners notifying them of the assessment. There is a 78% collection rate on these assessments, and liens will be placed on the properties of those who do not pay it.

Dan Musgrave spoke, and stated that it was important that we know that no increase in this assessment had occurred since 1993, and furthermore, the bulk of the assessments were around $200, and also furthermore, he had letters of support for this from twenty owners whose assessments were larger than $200. Property values have increased, as well.

Councilman Safsten asked if perhaps business owners participated because part of this $70,000, or whatever the figure was, was their own money. The answer to this was affirmative, and it was thrown in that assessment was based on property values. It was not stated that there would be an assessment increase this year, but it was stated earlier that property values had increased, so this may be a possibility.

The motion to approve this Resolution 2006-27 passed unanimously.

The next formal order of business was Proposed Ordinance 2006-61 to amend Sections 16-1-3 and 16-2-2 of the Building and Technical Construction Code to enable it to comply with the Utah Uniform Building Standard Act. These sections were not gone into, and the motion to approve the proposed ordinance passed unanimously.

Next were public comments, and the first speaker addressed a problem around 24th and Grant which he and others perceive is having a negative impact on business in downtown Ogden. There are four restaurants located around there, and Grant has a one hour parking zone. The speaker presented to the Council a petition signed by business owners in the area requesting that that zone be changed to a two hour zone. Clients of the restaurants have had business lunches only to emerge to find parking tickets on their cars.

The owner of the Metro Cafe spoke in favor of changing this to a two hour zone, stating that he was doing all he could to make the Metro Cafe succeed, and ticketing his clientele was not a help to him. "Respectfully, I'd like to add an extra hour over there," he said.

Sharon Beech then spoke, first stating that she was pleased at Amer's coming to Ogden, and then stating that she was very displeased at the continuing statement that the proposed gondola will connect to Snowbasin when Snowbasin has said publicly that it will do no such thing. Using such phrases as, "I think it is disingenuous to the extreme," and mentioning that no one has, as of yet, received any proposal, feasibility studies, or much of anything from the prospective developer/gondola builder Mr. Chris Peterson, she stated, "It isn't going to happen, so quit saying that it will."

Next, the Commander of a local VFW Post spoke, requesting the Council's support for a Veteran's Day Parade in Ogden. Characterizing this event as "an appreciation of veterans that is way overdue," he stated that there will also be a rally at Lindquist Field "to support our men and women in uniform. This is not in support of the war, but of them," he said.

Administrative Comments were next, and Mayor Godfrey addressed the petition brought in by the business owners near Grant that wanted the two hour parking zone. Stating that there was a formal process for making such requests, he told them to talk to him and that he would "get you with the right people and get the right petition."

Council comments followed, and Councilwoman Wicks formally thanked the managers of Lindquist Field for their support and accommodation of Brad Wheeler's Great Harmonica Event of 2006.

Councilman Stephens then spoke regarding all the development going on in Ogden and the visit from Utah State officials at the Kemp aircraft opening. The officials had stated that they had been to Ogden for one opening or another for three weeks in a row, and Councilman Stephens stated that we can all take pride in all the things happening in Ogden. He also mentioned that there were two active community groups in Ogden which were at odds, and voiced the need to "sit them down and talk to one another."

Councilman Stephenson spoke in the same vein, saying, "There's a pulse in Ogden right now," in reference to the long awaited building activity at The Junction site. "I see lots of involved business owners," he said. "It's a time to focus on what we're good at...that we bring businesses in that will make Ogden a viable place in the long run." He said he saw lots of community involvement, and that was all to the good.

Councilwoman Jeske then spoke, stating that she had been asked to address a civics class at Ogden High School on the subject of "What's Happening In Ogden," and she thanked Mr. McConkie for helping her amass materials for this presentation, which was extremely well received by the students. She went on to say that she was extremely sorry to have missed the Great Harmonica Event, however, CERT was also doing a presentation that day and she was in charge of that. Hopefully next year there will be no such conflict.

Councilman Safsten then spoke, also mentioning all the events that went on in Ogden this past week, saying, "It's fun to brag about the town you live in." He went on to remark that the developmental progress Ogden is making is by no means the work of just one or two people, but a large combined effort of individuals and organizations. Drawing a connection between Adam aircraft and the fact that the first magnet school of the Ogden School District is an aeronautical school, he stated that this was "not an accident," but rather an illustration of these combined efforts.

Chairman Garcia also spoke complimentarily about the recent events, and then made a quick motion to adjourn, which passed unanimously.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Is There a Climatologist in the House?

"Experts say the west is warming quickly," according to this Associated Press story in today's Standard-Examiner.

DURANGO, Colo. — The American West is becoming warmer faster on average than the rest of the world, says a climate researcher.

"The West is warming dramatically," said Jonathan Overpeck, director of the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth at the University of Arizona.

"Things are just going to get hotter. You can bet the farm on it."

The West is two to three degrees warmer than its average annual temperature, calculated using more than 100 years of records, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Many studies peg the rise in the earth’s average temperature since 1880 at one degree, making it the warmest it has been in the last 400 years.

A survey on a state-bystate basis by the U.S. Weather Service shows that, in the 112 years records have been kept, this summer was the hottest on record for Nevada.

Utah was hotter than 107 of the previous 112 years.

Nationwide, 2006 had an average June-August temperature that was 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20thcentury average of 72.1 degrees.

2006 was also the secondwarmest summer on record, slightly cooler than the record of 74.7 degrees Fahrenheit set in 1936 during the Dust Bowl era. Eight of the past 10 summers have been warmer than the U.S. average for the same period.

At a recent conference, Overpeck said data from about 30 computer-modeling studies shows that, by midcentury, annual average temperatures in the West will be up four or five degrees. By the end of the century, the West could be seven to eight degrees warmer, he said.

"Things are cooking in the West, and they’ll continue to cook even more," Overpeck said.
So significant is the apparent trend toward global warning that one Utah snow-sports advocacy website is already issuing dire warnings, and suggesting -- [gasp] -- lifestyle-based mitigatory measures:

Utah is proud to be internationally recognized as home to The Greatest Snow on Earth®. But while Utah's annual snowfall currently averages over 500-inches, the effects of global warming have the potential to significantly lessen this figure. As skiers and snowboarders, we are working to ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy Utah's light, dry and abundant powder. Ski Utah has created this site in an effort to inform skiers and riders as to why they should care about global warming, suggest lifestyle changes winter sports enthusiasts can make to mitigate their impact on the environment and promote programs Utah's resorts have in place to help Keep Utah Cool.

While there remain "holdouts" who stubbornly refuse to draw those inferences which are most logical and probable, based upon the rapidly-accumulating scientific data, we believe the conclusions are obvious:

  • Global warming is a reality.
  • The repurcussions of the global warming phenomenon will probably be played-out most acutely in the western U.S.
  • Building a new "ski resort" in Malan's Basin is a flatout-dumb idea
We've already had the benefit of an expert's opinion concerning the questionable "feasibility" of building a tiny, low-altitude ski resort on the sun-drenched west-facing slopes east of Emerald City. This project does not appear to be feasible or practical, even with "static" climatic assumptions. What happens to the analysis, we ask, when we factor-in evidence of western climatic warming?

Is there a climatologist in the house? Howbout a venture capitalist?

Failing that... we'll settle for the comments of a few gentle readers with common sense.

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Saturday Event -- Enlist in Brad's Homegrown Harmonica Army!

By Amy Wicks

My friend Brad Wheeler has taught over 10,000 students in the Ogden area how to play harmonica through the Blues in the Schools program he started several years ago. Saturday October 14th he wants to put Ogden on the map by breaking the current Guiness record for the world's largest harmonica ensemble. If you don't know how to play, that's ok- there will be lessons before we try to break the record. 2,500 harmonicas will be given away, or bring your own if it's in the key of A.

Bring the family to Lindquist Field for this great FREE event. Local Jazz legend Joe McQueen will be playing, as well as the Legendary Porch Pounders and the Kap Brothers Band.

PLACE: Lindquist Field

REGISTRATION: 10:00 a.m. - 12 p.m.
(This time slot is for or the first 2,500-registration will continue through out the day for those bringing their own "A" harmonica.)

For those of you who wish to teach yourself and skip the instruction class, go to Brad's Harmonica Army Website, for an animated tutorial .

INTERMISSION: 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
For those of you teaching yourselves please show up around this time so as to get registered and to give yourself time to get situated to break the record.

The current record again is 1,800-we would like to break it by at least 2,500-if you wanna be a part of this event and don't wanna gamble on whether or not you'll be 2,501, feel free to insure yourself a spot by purchasing your own Harmonica in the key of "A." Then go teach yourself "When the Saints Go Marching In" with the animated tutorial.

CELEBRATION: 3:30- 4:30 - 5:00 p.m.

More information at:
Harmonica Army Website
Charlie Trentleman (Std-Ex)
Deseret News

Update 10/14/06 10:06 p.m. MT: We attended today's Brad Wheeler Harmonica Army Maneauvers at Lindquist Park, and had a real blast. The event had the look and feel of an old-tyme Emerald City event, with fantastic music, 1200 or so relaxed Emerald City townsfolk, and the sort of citizen camaraderie we remember from the pre-Boss Godfrey Street-fest days, when local events weren't modeled after church picnics, and the lumpenproletariat weren't obliged to enjoy a cool one like livestock in a roped-off corral.

A giant Weber County Forum hat tip to Brad Wheeler, our Numero Uno Ogden Booster, and to the various musicians, (too many to name individually,) volunteers and others who helped make this event a great success. Special thanks also to Raptors GM John Stein, who graciously opened the stadium doors, rolled out the red carpet and provided ground crew at no cost to the event promoters.

Everyone who signed up at the registration desk received a brand-new Hohner Hot-Metal Harmonica; and when the time came for the playing of "The Saints" around 3:45 p.m., the stadium rang with the sound of over 1,000 Emerald City citizen-musicians -- most of them mainly "on key."

This event has the makings of an annual event, we think. Inasmuch as we failed to exceed the standing Guiness Book record of 1,800 players -- Brad is already talking about next year's reprise.

For those interested in viewing our WCF photo record of today's remarkable event, check out our new photo album here. If any of our gentle readers would like to submit their own images of this event, we welcome you to send them via our contact link; and we'd be glad to add them to our photo album.

Update 10/15/06 8:55 a.m. MT: More from this morning's Standard-Examiner.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Putting the Horse Before the Cart

In a hopeful sign of council rationality and circumspection, the Emerald City Council Chairman announces that the council will require a bit more information than it has now, before taking Boss Godfrey up on his offer, and committing itself to a high-rollers' jet-junket to Telluride, Colorado. So reports Ace Reporter Schwebke in this morning's headline Standard-Examiner story. In a laudable Emerald City exhibit of "putting the horse before the cart," Council Chairman Garcia says he "doesn't see the value of the council travelling out-of-state to inspect a gondola until it receives answers to questions about [Chris] Peterson's proposal" (so-called,) according to today's Scott Schwebke's story.

In addition to seeking answers to its pending (unanswered) 184 questions, the council is also doing its own survey of other municipalities that have caught gondola fever, says Council Director Bill Cook. Not a bad idea, we think. Ten of these other cities have been apparently identified so far, according to this morning's story.

Hopefully the council will also remain in the same reason-based, horse-before-the-cart mode in the connection with this aspect of Mr. Peterson's "proposal," which calls for the wholesale gutting of Emerald City's existing planning and zoning scheme, as some sort of weird & bizarre council "good-faith gesture."

And hopefully each and every council-member will expend the necessary time and energy, somewhere down the line, to read, study and comprehend THIS critically-important document.

What think our gentle readers about all this? And who amongst our gentle readers can name all the other ten cities that have contracted the dreaded gondola fever?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Std-Ex Takes GRAMA For a Morning Stroll

Two Standard-Examiner articles caught our eye this morning, each of which reprises a topic discussed earlier in this forum. Curiously, as a common thread, both stories relate to information sought by Std-Ex GRAMA requests.

First, Std-Ex reporter Shad West reports that yet another Utah city is in the process of clipping the wings of another autocratic and information-stingy Mayor. There's a council proposal afoot to strip Syracuse Mayor Fred Pannuci of his executive power, and transfer it to a more council-friendly city manager. Some on the Syracuse city council, the article reports, believe that the Syracuse Mayor has overstepped his power, and left the council out of the information/power loop. Thanks to Syracuse City's compliance with the Std-Ex's GRAMA request, our home-town newspaper is able to furnish its readers the gravamen of some Syracuse council-members' complaints:

In September members of the council publicly expressed concern over the power Panucci has seemed to gain in the city. Some accused him of overstepping his authority by not sharing information with members of the council. Of particular concern was his authorizing work to be done at the Jensen Nature Park, Hammon said.

The Standard-Examiner, through the Government Records Access and Management Act, received documentation from the city containing financial information on Jensen Park.

It shows a contract was awarded to G & G Sprinkling and Landscaping, a Syracuse landscaping firm for irrigation work in the park. On March 28, the council approved the $140,000 contract.

However, the city does not have any record of design plans for that work. Instead, the city had designs for landscaping, which the contractor used in planning the sprinkler system. The city did receive bills from the contractor for work on the irrigation system and landscaping supplies and labor.

City Administrator Ken Hubler told the Standard-Examiner that city officials did not ever see plans or specifications for the irrigation system.

"It looks like we didn't have real plans or specs drawn up," Hubler said. "The city did not follow proper procedure. This should have gone out for bid according to the state statutes. The communication just wasn't there."
Whereas we would frame this story as just more evidence of a grass-roots-inspired movement in Utah politics to restore the rightful system of checks and balances in city government, Mayor Panucci dismisses the council proposal (in classic neoCON style,) calling it "a power grab by some members of the council." Judging from the above evidence, we would speculate that such a "power grab" (we prefer the more gentle term power reallocation) may be just what doctor ordered for the good taxpayers of the City of Syracuse. What think out gentle readers about this?

In the second Std-Ex story, a denial of a GRAMA request provides the story theme itself. Yes, gentle readers, Ogden city has formally, arrogantly -- and predictably -- denied the Standard-Examiner's request for material relevant to the full array of recent council Seat "A" applicants. Ace Reporter Schwebke provides some interesting and enlightening quotes, straight from Std-Ex Managing Editor Andy Howell:

Standard-Examiner Managing Editor Andy Howell said the newspaper will seek a legal opinion on the city's refusal to turn over the letters of the four other finalists.

"Obviously the city's response is unsatisfactory. We submitted the request for the five finalists under the council's old policy. The new policy was adopted after the request, so it is irrelevant," he said.

"Providing us with the letter of the one candidate picked by the council after the fact is of no service to the public. We requested the letters from the five finalists so readers could compare qualifications of the candidates before one was selected.

"We plan to consult our attorney, not only on the insufficient response to our original GRAMA request, but the legality of the new policy under the state's open records laws."
The Emerald City neoCONs have plainly thrown down the gauntlet. Oh what will the Standard Examiner do next? We have lots of respect for editor Andy Howell. We sincerely hope the Std-Ex will back him up, and put Emerald City's feet to the fire on this.

The floor is open. Feel free to comment on any of the above.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Waiting for the Gondola

A Saturday evening bike ride through Ogden while it’s still real.

By Bob Sawatzki
SL City Weekly - 9/28/06

Utah Highway 89 runs like a river through the heart of Ogden, where its name changes to Washington Boulevard and “crusing the ’Vard” is entertainment in itself. As the parade of vehicles flow past, we sit on mountain bikes in front of a vacant storefront, waiting for the gondola. According to the map, it will pass right over our heads—hard to imagine, considering what the area looks like now. Since the fall of the Ogden Mall, most of the stores on this section of the ’Vard are closed. There’s graffiti, litter and dubious characters (like me) lurking in the shadows.

All this will change when the 21-acre brown field where the Mall used to be is reborn as The Junction, a mixed-use development of residences, retail, entertainment and office buildings. And when the gondola comes, it will be possible to catch a lift with our bikes to the top of the mountain and roll downhill all the way.

Until that day, we’ll have to pedal uphill on our own power, as we always have. So we geared down and started biking up 23rd Street, following the proposed route of the gondola. It will continue in a straight line up this quiet, residential street to Harrison Boulevard.

But it made for a dull, steep bike ride, so when the terrain leveled off at Jefferson Avenue, we did too, heading toward Lester Park and the historic center of Ogden. This part of Ogden will not be seen by gondola riders, almost as if planners were trying to keep tourists from seeing what the real Ogden looks like.

Read the Rest of Mr. Sawatzki's thoughtful piece.

This City Weekly article was linked last night by Bob Sawatzki in one of our lower comments sections. We're always fascinated by the viewpoints of "outsiders" who aren't wholly immersed in the sheer wierdness of the MattGodfreyWorld/Land of Oz experience, so we're promoting it to the main page for today's discussion, for the benefit of those readers who don't bother to read the what's often the best part of this blog -- the comments sections.

We think Mr. Sawatzki for the most part "nails it" with this. But then we hear that $500 million investment "thingy" again. Amazing how that deceptive little meme continues to pervade the public consciousness, innit? We thank Mr. Sawatzki for the submission.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Our Minds Are Not Made Up

Just when we thought the Senate District 18 race couldn't get any more strange and labyrinthine, we read this morning's Standard-Examiner headline story:
OGDEN - State Senate Democratic candidate Stuart Reid is raising questions about the possible involvement of a lobbyist in the campaign of his Republican opponent Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner while also doing contract work for the city.
Reid believes Rob Jolley, a Salt Lake City lobbyist who has a $45,000 contract with Ogden, is behind a push poll designed to hurt his election bid while raising campaign funds for Greiner.
The Web site of the National Council on Public Polls defines a push poll as one in which potential voters are provided false and damaging information about a candidate under the guise of taking a poll to see how this information affects voter preferences.
Those activities represent a conflict of interest, he said.
My complaint is that you've got an individual lobbying for the city and raising money for a worker for the city, and then going negative against me, said Reid, who worked as Ogden's community and economic development director before resigning last year to run his own consulting firm.
"He's helping get Jon Greiner elected to look after the city's interests." [Emphasis added.]
At first blush, we confess we don't see the conflict. It seems to us that engaging in political activity for the campaign of the legislator who would best look after Emerald City interests is precisely what a lobbyist for the city is paid to do. Absent some showing that Mr. Jolley owes some special duty to Mr. Reid and/or his campaign, we're not sure we understand all the fuss. In the instant case, Mr. Greiner is the Republican candidate and Mr. Reid is the Democrat, so it seems facially-obvious to us that Mr. Greiner would be more effective in our Republican-dominated legislature, simply by virtue of his party affiliation.

Notwithstanding the lack of readily-apparent merit in Mr. Reid's "conflict of interest" charges, however, all the named "players" seem to be distancing themselves from the subject. Candidate Greiner denies that Jolley is directly involved with his campaign at all. So says Mr. Jolley, too. Boss Godfrey, who is "friendly" with both of the candidates, is keeping his head down and denying involvement in "... in any of this stuff." Interestingly, other lobbyists and players seem to have differing stories.

Mr. Schwebke's report is also unclear as to whether fund-raising or "polling" involvement on Mr. Jolley's part (if any) relates to his employment by Emerald City, or to purely private political or business interests. So we're left to speculate about that. All-in-all, the situation is "muddy" at best, under the meager fact-set reported this morning by Ace Reporter Schwebke.

We'll note in passing (as we've noted before) that we do not approve of the tactic of push-polling. Unfortunately Mr. Schwebke provides no tangible information on the nature of the supposed "negative" or "damaging" information contained within this present instance of alleged quasi-polling. Whether there has occurred an unfair or illegal campaign tactic is a separate question; however Mr. Schwebke's article entirely fails to make that case. So aside from that unaddressed issue, we're having a hard time wrapping our brain around the purported "conflict of interest" problem.

Our minds are certainly not made up on this though, so we're throwing out this story for reader discussion. Let's allow the brilliant and gentle minds of our Weber County Forum readership to sort out the issues here, and to shed more light on the meaning of this story.

So what say our readers about all this? How about a few words from you, Mr. Reid?

Saturday, October 07, 2006


By Mona Charon
Creators Syndicate

"We should not subject young men and women to this kind of activity, this kind of vulnerability." So said Illinois Congressman Ray LaHood, who is recommending that the congressional page program be suspended at least temporarily.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you cannot trust members of the United States Congress with your teenage children. And you cannot trust them with your money either.

These titillations, er, scandals have developed a predictable choreography. High-ranking official, Hollywood star, business executive, you fill in the blank, is caught in flagrante, and what does he or she do? He attempts to frame himself as the victim -- of abuse, of alcoholism, of drugs, and often of all three. A fly on the wall of these treatment centers would doubtless discover that some of their celebrity clients are not alcoholics at all, but simply charlatans anointing themselves with alcoholism to wring sympathy from an infinitely forgiving public. There was a time, children, when public figures did not write tell-all "confessions" about their sexual lives. They were uptight and unliberated. James McGreevey is the model now. Former governor of New Jersey, former husband, former father (?), he includes lurid passages in his new book about discovering his homosexuality with an aide while his wife was at the hospital giving birth.

Former Rep. Mark Foley has set some kind of land-speed record in framing himself as a victim. His seat in the House was barely cold before he let it be known that a) he was checking himself into rehab for alcoholism, and b) he was himself molested as a youth by a "clergyman." A two-fer! Book this man on "Oprah" now.

Perhaps with Foley, America will finally reach the point of gagging on victimhood. Obviously Foley was the perpetrator, not the victim. He was a powerful man preying upon kids away from home for the first time, abusing his prestige and power, betraying the public trust, and in a particularly sour twist, sponsoring legislation to shield kids from Internet predators. And now he asks us to spare some sympathy for him?

It's probably true that the Republican leadership should have done more with the early warnings they received. Memo to file: Any number of e-mails above one from a grown man to a teenage boy or girl is too many. Full stop.

But for the Democrats to be clutching the draperies in horror is a little hard to credit. This is not the first time members of Congress have hit on pages. In 1983 there was a bipartisan page scandal. The Republican, Dan Crane, had been involved with a teenage girl page. He tearfully apologized but was defeated in the next election in a heavily Republican district. Gerry Studds, a Democrat, was involved with a teenage male page. But Studds was re-elected six more times by his Massachusetts constituents. Both Studds and Crane admitted to having sexual affairs with the 17-year-olds. And while the House censured both men, neither resigned. Foley has so far not been charged with actually touching anyone.

It goes without saying that if the Republican leadership had moved against Foley based solely on his "overly friendly" e-mails, they would have been accused of homophobia, of drawing prejudicial inferences based on the fact that he was gay. It is also the case that a number of leading Republicans and conservatives have called upon Speaker Denny Hastert to resign. How many Democrats called for Bill Clinton to resign? Ted Kennedy? William Jefferson (of the cash in the freezer fame)?

But the Democrats, who overlook so much by so many, and who instructed us sternly that Bill Clinton's affair was a trivial matter despite the fact that it fit the classic sexual harassment scenario the Democrats themselves enshrined in law, are fortunate that Foley's target was under 18. If he were older, they would be debarred from expressing any disapproval at all. In fact, if shame were able to silence anyone anymore, Washington would be a tomb.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Open Topic Thread & a Sad News Tidbit

Your blogmeister is busy working his fingers to the bone this morning on non-cyber business, so we're setting up another open thread.

The topic is wide open, so rattle on here to your gentle hearts' content.

Not much in the news today, except this:

The repeatedly jinxed Rec Center Project has suffered its first fatality. Rudi was in the neighborhood when he got wind of this story, and visited The Junction site to get the lowdown. OSHA was already there investigating when he arrived; and every manjack on the site is keeping completely mum. Everyone on the site is watching his/her p's and q's.

Nobody will even speak a word about which contractor the poor guy worked for.

We also received this about 2 hours ago from a separate source: "A sub-contractor was working on the roof, not wearing a safety belt/harness and fell. Information on the individual is not available at this time." This language apparently originates from Mark "Hummer Guy" Johnson.

Having observed the sheer sloppiness of Boss Godfrey and his assorted "suits" in launching this project, we cross our fingers, utter a few Hail Marys and hope to hell Emerald City's liability insurance premiums are paid up.

Sincere condolences go out the the family of the first working man who gave up his life to the Boss Godfrey "Vision."

The floor is open.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Correcting Past Boo-boos

By Rudizink

One oddity we'll note about the normally milquetoast Standard-Examiner editorial board: on those rare occasions when they actually get their editorial hackles up over some issue, they chomp down with terrible fury. There are no half-measures in such instances. Giant predator fish off Amity Island swim clear of the Std-Ex editorial board when they're on one of their harsh but infrequent feeding frenzies. When you've been bitten by the Std-Ex editors you've definitely been shark-bit. If you don't believe us, ask Bill Glasmann. This morning's scathing Std-Ex editorial starts out thusly:
If the Ogden City Council doesn't trust the public, then the members of the council don't deserve our trust.
Aggrieved at being caught violating its very own policy regarding the release of information about applicants for an open City Council seat, the City Council voted Tuesday to change that policy. Now when the council wants to withhold such information, its revised policy will support the denial of the public's right to know.
From this point it gets much worse, and picks up angst-ridden steam:

This is an especially ironic action taken by council members who have run on platforms of open government and have accused the city's mayor of conducting business outside the public's view. Hypocrisy doesn't get more in your face than this.
Okay. Everyone in town knows the council severely blundered last Tuesday night, in a transparent effort to justify the ill-considered utilitarian folly of a couple of members of that body... (and that of Council Director Cook.) In improperly "balancing" the the relatively slight privacy rights of a few council applicants, and viewing them as outweighing the overwhelming public interest in obtaining important information about council applicants, the council did "drop the ball." And we spanked the council thoroughly here over the course of the last week, so we suppose the Std-Ex does deserve the opportunity to take its own shot.

Still, we believe we ought to put this all in perspective. Whether certain council members are actual hypocrites (or mere error-prone humans) depends, we think, on what the council does from here on. Will the council allow this patently bad decision to stand, thus justifying the harsh criticism that the Std-Ex has this morning heaped out; or will the council comply with our home-town newspaper's standing GRAMA request and provide the information that is requested therein?

We've witnessed the council reconsider its own mistakes in the past. And we've heard various council members express satisfaction in "doing the right thing." There's no reason that this council should not do so again. As the Std-Ex aptly points out, council vacancies occur with some frequency here in The Top of Utah. Any one of the council could get run over by a train tomorrow, gawd forbid. You just never know.

So looking down the road, will the council demonstrate the wisdom and courage to revisit the issue, and modify the draconian procedure that it has adopted for the filling of future council vacancies?

And what about Bill Cook? How much longer will our council tolerate his repeated mistakes and bone-headed advice? A "little birdy" informs us that Mr. Cook's fingerprints are all over the council's latest foray into a troubling brand of government secrecy. We think our part-time council deserves more competent advice than Mr. Cook has been providing of late. It seems to us that every time the council gets caught in some public uproar, Mr. Cook is in the thick of it. He's a very nice man, but we think he's over his head. Perhaps its time to just let him go.

So what about it gentle readers? Would any one of you like to continue this discussion? And for those who are so inclined, this might not be a bad time to communicate with our city council, and let them know just what you think.

The floor is open.

"The Boss" & "The Frump's Shill" Take a Councilwoman to Lunch

By Jason W.

A trusted associate of mine was lunching at Rooster's yesterday, when Little Matty Godfrey was directed to a nearby table (he apparently declined the standard booster seat offer). In his party were newly appointed Councilwoman Susan Van Hooser and head silly-gondola-to-nowhere cheerleader Curt Geiger. No doubt, Geiger regaled Mrs. Van Hooser with tales of dining alongside Wolfgang Puck, who will build a restaurant inside Frump Peterson magical castle in Malan's Basin.

I'm certain he also repeated what the gondolists have been whispering for months: they are simply awaiting a U.S. Forest Service permit to build a station at Snowbasin, one-third of which will come into Frump's possession when the billionaire dies, or is taken out of his cryogenic chamber.

This is most alarming and needs to be made public. This is why Little Matty and the Geigers have maintained a congenital connection to Snowbasin, and it's why they are fervent and unabashed selling this load of horseshit to two-man operations like Nidecker and Goode.

This raises a host of legal and ethical issues (the administration making false promises based on conditions over which they have no control) and is also problematic because my sources say the permit is already denied; and that Frump is going to be shut out of Snowbasin when the billionaire dies. Someone needs to call Godfrey on the carpet about this. Anyone? Anyone?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Taking Care of Business... Ex Post Facto Style


By Dian Woodhouse

Two extremely brief meetings tonight--Council and RDA. The first order of business was a Common Consent item, which passed unanimously, and dealt with committee appointments and reappointments. Here it is:

Kelly Farley and Max Ryujin were reappointed, and Stephen E. Jones, Dana Slaughter, and Donna Corby were newly appointed, all to the Community and Business Development Citizen Advisory Committee.

On the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, Ginger Paxman was re-appointed, and Dale Campbell and Terri Smith were newly appointed.

Then there was the scheduled public hearing dealing with a budget amendment.

"Proposed Ordinance 2006-58 amending the budget for Ogden City for the fiscal year July 1. 2006 to June 30, 2007, by increasing the anticipated revenues and transfers for gross increases of $398,141 from sources as detailed in the body of this ordinance, and increasing the appropriations for a gross increase of $396,141 as detailed in the body of this ordinance."

There was a brief presentation on this. First, the city will receive $70,000 from the RDA. This will go to the Council's Technical and Professional Budget.

Secondly, there is an infusion of RAMP funds. These have been given to the city for improvements on the Centennial Trail, the Kayak Park, and Glasmann Park.

Finally, there is a reapportionment of funds for the transit tax.

No one from the public was present to comment on these matters at this public hearing, and therefore the ordinance passed unanimously.

Up to this point, the Council had whipped through these items in an efficient and expedient manner. Chairman Garcia, however, noticed a group of the aforementioned reappointees and new appointees at the rear of the room, and recognized them, apologizing for overlooking them. They were thanked for their service and willingness to serve Ogden City. "I'm thrilled--thank you," one said.

Then came New Business, Council Norms Modification & Resolution #2006-26, approving modifications to the City Council Norms. Specifically, this had to do with changing the process recently undergone to fill vacancies on the Council, and the major change proposed is that information submitted by applicants will be kept confidential by the city. Bill Cook gave the presentation... (continues.)

Read the rest of Dian's detailed article, in which she describes and comments upon the latest council decision, opting for increased government secrecy, at the expense of the public's right to be informed.

Ace Reporter Schwebke's report of last night's event, which focuses on the council's decision to keep all council application data confidential, can be viewed via this link. According to this story, the Standard-Examiner's GRAMA request remains pending, with an official decision due on Friday. We encourage the Std-Ex to vigorously pursue all available legal options and remedies, in the event that this request is denied. A wrongful denial of a proper GRAMA request sets bad precedent, and the council's clownish ex post facto attempt to cure an admitted earlier procedural blunder does not render the issue moot.

We now open the floor for our gentle readers' comments.

Show Us the Money

A gentle reader sent us a Salt Lake Tribune article last week, reporting on the most recent developments in the Real Salt Lake stadium plan, which has has been an "economic development" hot potato in Salt Lake County since early this year.

For those readers who may have not been following the RSL stadium story closely, we offer this quick and dirty fact summary, courtesy of the ever-useful Wikipedia:
In 2005 a soccer-specific stadium for the team was approved for Sandy, a suburb of Salt Lake City. However, funding for the stadium was still hard to come by. A vote in early 2006 struck down a funding proposal for the stadium. However, Tom Dolan, the mayor of Sandy, said that he would not give up on his fight to approve the proposal in Sandy. The funding plan was revised, but was struck down later in 2006 over disagreements in the appropriation of millions of hotel-tax dollars for a financially unproven sports franchise. The proposal for Sandy was declared "dead" by [RSL owner Dave]Checketts at that point, putting the team's future in doubt. Dave Checketts said that he wanted the team to remain in Utah, but would sell it if a proposal was not put forward by August 12, 2006. Parties from several cities, including Rochester, New York and Saint Louis, Missouri, expressed interest in purchasing the franchise and moving it. Other stadium sites in the area were also proposed, including the Utah State Fairgrounds in Salt Lake, and the tiny town of Vineyard, just west of Provo. Finally, on the very day Checketts had set as a deadline to have a stadium plan in place or decide to sell the team, and after months of up and down discussions with local municipalities, county, and state officials and a change in the funding structure, a tacit agreement between Checkets, Sandy City, and Salt Lake County was put in place, and Real Salt Lake announced that they would move forward with the construction of the Sandy Stadium.
In the course of reaching this agreement, each of the above public and private stakeholder entities agreed to make substantial capital contributions toward this project, including a $100 million investment pledge from Dave Checketts.

Our reader suggests that this project shares many similarities with our situation in Weber County, wherein our own Emerald City Mayor [Boss Godfrey] has worked feverishly to promote his own pet project [the Peterson Landgrab,] toward which public AND private entities have at least vaguely suggested a commitment of substantial capital resources -- $500 million, in the case of Mr. Peterson.

In the RSL stadium instance however, our reader suggests, the prudent behavior of fiscally conservative Salt Lake County Mayor Pete Coroon stands in stark contrast to that of our own project-driven and non risk-averse Matthew Godfrey:
As the furor over Utah's proposed Major League Soccer stadium fades, one financial mystery remains: Does Real Salt Lake really have the cash?

Peter Corroon, the fiscally conservative Salt Lake County mayor, is determined to find out.

Corroon has called on the District Attorney's Office to convene the county's strict Debt Review Committee to scrutinize all things RSL. Within 30 days, the mayor wants to see the team's money, including RSL's investment partners, financial history and comprehensive business plan.

"We want to know about the stadium - how it's being financed, who the investors are - to make sure the team is viable," Corroon said Wednesday. "I'd like to know myself whether we're going to go forward or not."
Read the SL Trib story. Decide for yourselves. Isn't it time that somebody asked Mr. Peterson to "Show us the money," our gentle reader earnestly asks. Isn't it about time that somebody checked out Mr. Peterson's financial credentials? And what about a business plan? Howcome nobody's asked for that? Our city government is already stumbling over itself to amend our planning and zoning scheme as some bizarre gesture of "good faith," notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Peterson hasn't as yet even so much as put a real proposal on the table.

We're throwing this out for today's discussion, while your humble blogmeister tinkers with a new website that will be soon added as a Weber County Forum feature. You can discuss this issue, or whatever tickles your fancy. Feel free to use this space as an open thread.

Who will be the first to comment?

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