Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Taking Care of Business... Ex Post Facto Style

COUNCIL NOTES: 10.3.06

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.

36 comments:

ARCritic said...

I am personally ashamed to call myself an elected official after seeing what the Ogden Council has done to openness.

I found a quote before I was elected that I try to follow:

"We should recognize that the occasional inconvenience of democracy is well worth the price."

Shame!! Ogden Council, Shame!!

Anonymous said...

let's just past the buck on this one. bill crook passed the buck on to the city council and the city council pased the buck back onto the citizens, o where o where is the accountiblity of the officiers that we so elect. come on bill crook screwed it all up and the council is letting this tail wag the dog.

Curmudgeon said...

From Dian's post: Councilman Safsten made a motion to add a sentence to the newly proposed confidentiality statement, to the effect that, "Applicants are free to make available information about themselves to the press or any other interested parties." (Paraphrase.)

A curious motion, it seems to me. It appears that Mr. Safsten's motion grants to applicants the right to make their own information public if they wish to. Since there is currently in force, even in Ogden, something called "The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States," I'm curious as to what, exactly, Safsten's motion would do that is not already done by the First Amendment. I suspect nothing. What's next, the Council granting folks permission to attend worship services of their choice in Ogden?

The Council's concern for the wishes of the applicants is understandable, if misplaced. The Council should have a larger concern, a controlling one, for its obligation [yes, obligation] to put the public interest before those of particular applicants.

Councilwoman Jeske commented to the SE: "the decision not to make the letters public was correct. “It’s the responsibility of people (who are candidates for vacant council seats) to give information,” she said. “It’s not the responsibility of the council to be their keepers.”"

She has, I think, reversed matters. It is the Council's responsibility to make such information as it has [with the obvious exceptions of SS numbers etc] on applicants available to the public when requested. Particularly when the Council is, in extraordinary circumstances, acting in lieu of the electorate. As it was in this instance. On this one, Ms. Jeske has not chosen wisely.

And of course, there is now another question raised by the whole matter. Hasn't the Council now established [by refusing to release the letters to the SE in accord with its own procedures] that Council procedures are merely avisory, and not controlling, that Council leadership can opt to ignore them, as it did this time, whenever it wishes? That's not democracy, it's ad hocracy.

NB: Kudoes, though, to Chairman Garcia, who stepped up and took responsibility for the decision not to release the letters, saying it was made by the Council leadership and not the Council as a whole. I think he chose wrongly, but I admire his willingness to take responsibility for the decision. Not a lot of that going around these days. Denny Hastert, please note.

Dorrene Jeske said...

I posted my comments on another string last night. I am copying them to this string so that they are in the appropriate string.

Dorrene Jeske said...
I am posting on this blog only for a minute, and to give everyone another point of view to think about.

Sharon, there weren't very many people at the Council meeting, and no one took the opportunity to speak, but the Council did as you suggested: "I invite and challenge our gentle and informed readers to speak out at Tuesday's Council meeting and admonish that they come together as a WHOLE Council which will act as the whole legislative body they have sworn to be." The Council after amending the new ordinance amending the Council Norms, passed it unanimously.

I did speak up before the vote was taken and tried to say the following which I had prepared ahead of time, but I swear my tongue must have thought that I had just washed it because it sure jumbled the words and thoughts up. I hope that I was able to get the main thought across.

"I understand that the Council has been discussed and cussed. But it is not the responsibility of the Council to give out the candidates' personal information --it is the candidates'. When we ran for the Council, WE gave you our personal information. This is a little different situation, but it still is the candidate's responsibility to give out his/her personal information.

I upset one of my daughters-in-law because I told one of my sons that they were expecting a baby. She felt that it was HER RIGHT to tell him. This is the same thing - when it comes to personal information, it is the candidate's RIGHT to share or not share his/her information. The Council does not have the right to go against the wishes of the candidate.

Just as the public has the right to know about who will be representing them, the candidate has rights. He/she has the right to refuse to release that information. The Council has an obligation to honor and comply with the candidate's wishes. The Council and the public should respect the rights of the candidates. I don't want anyone else making my decisions for me, and I don't want to make personal decisions for anyone who is capable of making his/her own decisions. For those reasons, I support changing the Council Norms."

I honestly feel, in my heart, that it is the candidate's right to decide what happens with his personal information -- not the Council's.

Thanks for reading my point of view and you have the right to agree or disagree with it because we live in this wonderful and great country, where millions have lived and died fighting for our rights. I will be eternally grateful for them.

October 03, 2006 10:15 PM

When the reporter for the SE called last night he was looking for a story and took my quote out of context: I said that it is the RIGHT of the candidate to make the decision whether his information is released, not the Council's because we are not the keeper of their information.

dian said...

From the Schwebke article of September 28th:

The Standard-Examiner filed a state Government Records Access and Management Act request Friday with the City Council to obtain letters of interest from finalists Jeremy Taylor, Therese Grijalva, J. Brad Florence, John H. Thompson and Susan E. Van Hooser.

However, the council denied the request because it contends the letters contain private information.


Now they are backtracking, saying this GRAMA decision is pending. From today's article:

...an official decision regarding the Standard-Examiner’s GRAMA request has not been rendered, said City Attorney Gary Williams.

That decision is expected by Friday, according to the city’s Clerk and Recorder’s Office.


Which is it?

Schwebke should know--it is his newspaper that filed it. It is very odd that, in this blase manner, one thing can be said one week and its opposite the other, as if we are unable to remember what goes on from week to week and sit back meekly accepting these things.

Am trying to envision what happened here--did the SE file a GRAMA and get an unofficial call stating--Unofficially, we're not going to comply with this?

It could have gone on to say---We haven't officially changed the policy under which you are requesting this information, but two of our Council members have said it's okay to change it, so we're just denying your request now, unofficially, and when we get around to doing this right, you can expect an official denial.

I haven't even discussed the other issue involved in this, which is--Should applicants' info be public or private?--having concentrated on the atrocity of having two council members make this decision instead of the entire seven. Once again:

We did not vote for two citizens, an executive director, and an attorney to function as our legislative body. We voted for seven citizens.

Chairman Garcia did not apologize to the rest of the council for making the decision without them. He apologized for not informing them that he, the Vice Chair, the exec, and the attorney had made the decision.

World of difference there, indicating that it is accepted practice for two council members to change policy in the name of the whole council. Add to this the powers that the council has turned over to the mayor--the selling of municipal property, for instance--and one wonders exactly what the other five members of the Ogden City Council are allowed to do.

Not the best situation here, for sure.

Dorothy Littrell said...

I have a most curious nature so I put in a GRAMA request for the Job Description for Senior Project Coordinator for Community and Economic Development, Date Position Opened, Copy of Public Help Wanted Newspaper Notice, Job Requirements, Salary Offered, Copy of Job Application and Date Position was Filled.

The response from the Ogden City Recorder was:
1. position opened June 28, 2006
2. public notice of 7-9-06 stating that salary offered was $3717.00 per month plus benefits
3. no job application available
4. salary offered former Councilman Glasmann was $62,777.
5. date position filled was 9-1-06

So why is former Councilman Glasmann being paid in excess of $18,000.00 more than was offered to any other applicant??????

This is signed by City Recorder Mansell on 9-12-06 at 1:10 p.m.

Curmudgeon said...

Ms. Littrell:

The discrepencey between advertised pay and the pay Glasmann was offered is interesting. Have you tried to interest the SE in probing the matter? Or, failing that, the SL Trib? [I figure the home town paper deserves first crack at it.]

I can think of reasons that might... I said might... justify such a discrepency. Be interesting to know what the Godfrey administration's justification might be. And the SE is who should be asking.

Though I am forced to agree that asking questions of elected officials has not, of late, been the SE's strong point. Still, worth a shot, don't you think?

dian said...

Oh my goodness, look at this.

The Bluffdale City Council voted, and this vote was upheld in court, to take the administrative powers of the Bluffdale mayor and give them to a city manager.

The current mayor of Bluffdale is not pleased with this, naturally.

They did not change from the mayor/council form of government, which would have required a popular vote. Instead, they simply gave the powers of the mayor to the city manager, which this court, at least, has ruled they can do.

If the City Council has any doubts as to its powers, this should assuage them.

Court: Council can transfer mayor's powers - Bluffdale

Anonymous said...

I thought that when a person runs for public office, whether it is open election or open seat, that person has now open themselves up to the public and to have the council with hold that info from the public is just dead wrong. if people dont want that public then stay out of public office.

disgusted said...

This council should be ashamed of itself and Council Woman Jeske should should be "discussed and cussed" even further. Important facts:

Applicants were made aware that information was to be made public. Therefore when making application you are giving implied consent to releasing said information. i.e, edit appropiately.

(Previous norms)
"...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..."

This is not an issue of regarding release of "private" information. When you make application you are putting your information out there. You have been warned.

I fear this is an issue of the Council not wanting public input nor wanting the public to see what they might have not considered. They don't want to be second guessed. They don't want to be "discussed."

Listen, four of them are up for re-election next fall. They are protecting themselves. You only have to turn on the news today to see how self preservation works in U.S. politics.

Jeske is right that it is the applicants responsiblity for giving out thier information. THEY DO THAT WHEN THEY APPLY. Hell next time you have this happen you will have applicants showing up with PR teams. This is not a family baby announcement. This is applying for public office. IT IS NOT THE SAME THING. And if we have a Council member that thinks it is...well I'm not sure I have much faith in that sort of thinking...and perhaps someone else would be more suited for the job.

The applicant makes a decision as to want they want to release into a public forum, they put in in writing and they give it to the council.

See to sum up what has just happened, and what Jeske so eloquently confirms above, the Council has decided to act in the best interest of the individuals: The applicants and the Council- NOT IN THE THE INTEREST OF THE PUBLIC which their Norms had previously indicated was the priority.

And while it seems like a very insignificant change, it gives great insight into the mindset of these Council members. They serve, not the public, but themselves.

Oh yeah...congrats to the newest member for quickly falling in line.

Anonymous said...

I all seems much ado about nothing to me.

dap said...

Perhaps you should think a little harder.

Little Pippi Longstocking said...

"I all seems much ado about nothing to me."

Perhaps "you all" may have a point, in your own particular case.

dian said...

Have been scrutinizing today's Schwebke article.

The amendment followed City Council Executive Director Bill Cook’s acknowledgment that the council went against its own policies when it didn’t provide the Standard-Examiner with application letters from five finalists vying for a board seat.

How? How could "the council" do this when a majority of them didn't even know about it?

The council did not provide the Standard-Examiner with candidate application letters because the documents contain private information, such as Social Security numbers, the names of children, references, and religious affiliations, Cook said.

Again, how was this accomplished? Who told the SE no? Not the council, after an official vote conducted in an open meeting. We know that.

Could it have been Mr. Cook?

Who gave the instruction that personnel in the council offices were not to release this information, even though it was a matter of written council policy that it was public and no formal change had been made in that policy?

It was not "the council," and Mr. Cook should quit saying it was. Chairman Garcia has already stated that it was "Leadership" that made it, along with, it must be remembered, Mr. Cook and Mr. Williams.

Utah does have an Open Meetings law, which states that decisions are made in open meetings. Not closed ones with only a few people.

Perhaps Mr. Schwebke would like to do a bit of investigative reporting, and give us all a play by play of who requested, who denied, who was said to be responsible, etc.

In the interests of maintaining an accurate record.

sharon said...

I too say, "Shame on this council".

The public has not been served. One more right taken away from the citizens.

Anyone running for public office, or being appointed to fill a vacancy has the duty and responsibility to inform the public of their qualifications!

For heaven's sake...this Council gave each applicat a STANDARD application such as some kid applying for counter job at Wendy's would have to fill out: 'high school and college transcripts"???...get real here.

Surely this spendthrift administration can come up with an 'application' that only asked for experience, REFERENCES (don't we have a right to know the character of the applicant?..LEAVE OFF THE SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER!!! IF the applicant is chosen...THEN they provide the SS # so they can be paid their stipend for SERVING.

The public documents should list the same kind of info we receive in campaign literature. THAT gives experience, usually education, references and 'WHY I WANT TO SERVE'..

Mr. Cook and Williams were disengenuous to the nth degree by claiming that redacting SS#'s, etc take too much time.. May I buy y'all a black marker???

Shame on the entire Council. They couldn't see the forest for the trees...maybe it's all that food they eat in their work meetings that makes them foggy brained, but Curm is right in reminding them that Ogden still functions under the U.S. Constitution. Also the State Code.

Kudos to the Bountiful CC. What ----s they have! It's what I've been harping about for a long time. A city manager (Layton's is the best in the state), and take away the many powers Godfrey has taken upon himself with the help of the old 'rubber stamp, non-thinking' Council...and now this Council is not using the pertinent parts of the anatomy that gives them chutzpah!!

Mayor Matthew Godfrey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Oh M M G just wait, next year will be full of Oct. surprises. Your council will not look the same.

abner said...

Thank you, Mr Godfrey! (I'm bowing)....Of course you are prescient and most certainly rec'd an A+ in Psych 101! You have demonstrated deep knowledge of human behavior and I just want to say...."move over, I want to slop at the trough with you."

No, Anon....THIS little man surely knows what the townies want and deserve. He is our elected leader and therefore is fit to make all decisions for our welfare.

After all, he has more integrity than any person alive. It matches his smarts. Please, Matt, don't be found guilty of felonies as you'd most definitely need YOUR soap on a rope! Some BIG
Bubba's at Point of the Mountain.

Take care, Matt.

ed said...

Godfrey
Convicted
Felony
Soap on a rope

What great lyrics for the Godfreyite anthem played over the closing credits.

Doug said...

"Oh M M G just wait, next year will be full of Oct. surprises. Your council will not look the same.'

Agreed!

Amy and Jesse ought to be looking over their backs -- along with Safsten and Stephenson, who are the walking dead politically.

The next council will also fire Bill Cook!

Curmudgeon said...

To All the Folks Predicting a Massive Council Turnover Next Election Cycle:

Voters have a very short attention span. We have, none of us, any idea of what issues may come up between now and then, of how the public will react to those issues or to the Council members' actions or refusals' to act on them. A year and a month is a looooog time in electoral politics.

Second: that Council members act differently that you would on a particular issue does not mean, necessarily, that they are bound for the electoral trash heap, or that they are corrupt. It could merely be that they have reached a conclusion different than yours on a particular issue, after giving it their best shot. And that they might, all things considered be doing a reasonably good job as Councilmembers.

The problem with announcing that a member's vote on one issue means you absolutely will not vote for them are two: first, doubtless there will be other issues coming up, that matter a great deal to you, on which they will vote, and about which you will again announce that if they don't vote your way, you will not vote for them. You can threaten that just once... maybe twice... before the implied threat ceases to have any real meaning.

Second: once you've announced that you will never vote for Councilpersons X, Y and Z again, ever, you surrender all hope of in any significant way affecting their vote for the remainder of their term. When I email a council member to argue a point on a pending matter, or to say that I disgree with what how they voted on an issue, I do it without denouncing them as frauds or crooks or hopeless idiots merely because they had the temerity to disagree with me [though, of course, doing that is always unwise]. And I usually get a reply, and a serious one. Sometimes I change my mind when I've heard more from them than I knew before; occasionally one of them agrees to rethink something in light of information I've sent them. And not infrequently, we end up agreeing to disagree. That's how citizen contact works, or should work.

When you email an elected official -- or even when you post an opinion in a public place, like WCF --- you are engaged in a kind of lobbying. And most elected officials I know, when they open an email that starts "You miserable misbegotten son of a sea snake" read no further. Approaching them civilly, as people who are trying to act responsibly in their jobs, is as a rule much more effective. At the very least, most times, it will get your letter or email read rather than instantly deleted.

Flame emails and letters are not effective lobbying techniques. They don't work. And they in the end reduce the opportunity for some kind of worthwhile exchange of opinion and information between elected officials and the citizenry. They are not healthy for a city, a state or a nation. They choke off, rather than encourage discussion.

And nobody knows what "the" hot button issue will be eleven months from now, or how the next Council election will turn out. No one. Not yet. And not for a long time to come.

RudiZink said...

Bullshit!

The townsfolken are aroused to have...

Evil Boss Godfrey and his lackeys delivered with heads on a platter~!

And the Lumpenfolke crave Red Meat!

We will have the perfect Emerald city municipal election season next year!

Political Pantywaists will be left in the breach, and will be clawing for air, come November 2007.

George H. said...

Stupid is as stupid does, or so my redneck mommie taught me.

I'm living proof that even a certified moron can type onto a blog.

signed-

Dumb George

Curmudgeon said...

Ah, Rudi... we disagree.

A year plus is a very long time in electoral politics. Who, just by way of example, could have predicted a year ago that a gay Republican congressman preying on juvenile house pages would be a factor in the congressional elections now a month off? All the pundits were predicting the war and/or terror would be the issues. You never know what's going to break, or how it is going to break.

I'd agree Hizonnah is in some trouble if he tries for a third term. He's managed to alienate lots of different groups over his terms so far, and that kind of thing adds up. And he's made himself the object of well-deserved ridicule, following a city employee's wife around downtown. Widespread ridicule is probably the most corrosive substance [short of indictment] a sitting public official hoping to be reelected has to deal with. Once people start laughing at a candidate in significant numbers, he [or she] is usually toast.

But remember, the Mayor is the most visible politico in the city. That many councilmembers are in the same spot he is in I doubt. Policy wonks and Council watchers and those heavily engaged in some issue like the gondola/real estate speculation business are watching, but I'd bet right now that not one in ten Ogdenites could name more than one member of the City Council. If that.

I'll probably be working to elect a member or two next time round, but historically the facts show that very very few [relatively speaking] voters get involved in municipal elections.

I hope those Councilpersons --- and at the moment I can think of, at most, two, who fit this description --- who seem more or less blindly to follow Hizzonah's lead, to sit, beg and fetch on command, will be replaced with some one [or two] who better understand their responsibilities as members of the legislative branch of city government. Who have not only heard of "checks and balances" but have a reasonable grasp of what it means. But I'm not ready to predict it as a certainty yet. Or even likely. Not yet.

Besides, over-confidence has not, historically, proven to be an effective campaign stance to take.

RudiZink said...

LOL!, Curm!

I'll betcha dollars to do-nuts you never participated in a winning team, either in politics or sports or otherwise.

Politics (like many other conflict-oriented games) is far more visceral than cerebral in my considerable experience. We should never fail to kick a losing man like Godfrey when he is down, and continue kicking him until he is well past "the curb, and the knockout punch has been soundly delivered." And we should never underestimate the animosity of the local frontier-style lumpenproletariat, most of whom (according to my anecdotal but widely-ranging experience) would love to be part of the mob that hangs Boss Godfrey by his own "petard" in November 2007. (This includes some un-named members of his wardhouse, who surreptiously bad-mouth him at every opportunity in local barbershops, beauty shops, grocery stores and other semi-anonymous public venues.)

Godfrey is a walking polital dead man now, and a year from now. Even he knows it.

You seem to be the only living soul who inexplicably fails to realize this.

Seek therapy!

Wake up and sniff the java!

xoxoxoxoxo,

Rudi

Curmudgeon said...

Rudi:

You wrote "I'll betcha dollars to do-nuts you never participated in a winning team, either in politics or sports or otherwise."

You'd lose the bet.

Most of my comments, you will note, dealt with the coming Council election, and I noted that Hizzonah is in trouble. But however lumpen your proletariat contacts may be, what I know from my experience political is never, but never, over a year from an election, count anybody not actually under indictment as "out." Down, likely to lose, probably not coming back, sure. But for sure toast, no. Lots of elections have been lost by making assumptions like that.

All together now, say "President Tom Dewey."

Ooooops. Never mind....

Anonymous said...

I'm still trying to understand what Dorrene Jeske was trying to say in her post. Does she drink a little sometimes?

Curmudgeon said...

Anon:

Generally, I think she was talking about the problems of having third parties reveal information about other people, that some infomation ought to come from the individuals involved themselves. Her point is a good one when applied to private personal information being revealed by a third party. Her point is not compelling at all when it relates to information about a candidate for public office filed as part of that candidacy with the City Council.

I'd even grant Ms. Jeske's point, or most of it, with respect to people volunteering for appointment to city boards and commissions. I don't think they would, necessarily, expect to have a great deal of information about them made public. [Though even here, in some circumstances, the argument fails. Appointments, for example, to the Planning Commission require a higher level of public disclosure than appointments, say, to the Events Commission.]

What I think the Council failed to understand this time, is that in filling the empty Council seat, the Council was acting in lieu of the public. They were filling not an appointive position, but a position that is usually filled by direct popular election. The Council was acting in this instance as the electorate. And when the Council did that, it had an obligation, both an ethical one and one imposed by its own procedures, to make at the very least the letters of intent of the final five public. Those letters were, in effect, the campaign literature of the candidates, one of whom the Council would elect to fill Glasmann's seat.

The Council's secrecy preference, couched as some have couched it, as a response to fear of lawsuits on the part of the candidates whose letters they made public is... well, is nonsense. Each of the five, in fact all the applicants, were informed that their application letters would become a matter of public record. Once they were informed of that, the act of submitting a letter of intent constitued granting consent to the Council to make the content of those letters public [with things like SS numbers etc redacted]. Or to use a term that comes up more often in unlawful search cases, the applicants had no "expectation of privacy" for the letters of application they sent to the Council.

The Council dropped the ball on this one. And the SE editorial this morning charges those Councillors who approved the new policy and who have criticized the Godfrey administration [justifiably] for too often acting in secret and behind closed doors, and of refusing to make public information that ought to be public, of hipocracy.

The charge has substance. It would be nice, though, if the SE's crusade for open government and open access [which I think is a very good idea] extended to the news desk and reporters, and extended to encouraging the latter to ask questions --- probing questions --- of all elected officials. If the SE is concerned about open government and keeping the electorate informed --- which as an independent newspaper it should --- that concern should not be limited to the editorial and op ed pages. That concern should to pervade the news department as well.

Jason W. said...

Comment promoted to the Front Page by Administrator

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Curm. I am still trying to diagram her sentences. Isn't Jeske the one with the flashlight? Did the battery go out?

carolyn said...

Here's an interesting fact in this regrettable scenario: Tuesday night after the RDA meeting, I noticed SE reporter, Scott Schwebke, and the Mayor leave Council Chambers together and get in the elevator together. About 45 minutes later several people were still talking in the City's parking lot when Schebke and Mayor Godfrey were observed exiting the Municipal Bldg. together. At the time I wondered what no-good scheme those two had been hatching. This morning the editorial page of the SE revealed what that scheme was. The Mayor has been unable to find anything to compromise Councilwoman Jeske with so now he is either going to try to beat her down or disgrace her so that her credibility is questioned, thus making her an ineffective Councilmember. With her naivete' of politics, this is not hard to accomplish. Don't you find it interesting that Jeske is the ONLY one quoted in the both the editorial and Schebke's article?

I called her this morning after reading the editorial, and she understands what the Mayor and the SE are trying to do. She assured me, that she will not be beaten down or compromised in any way. She will hold fast on the gondola and Chris Peterson project until it is proven to be feasible or not. She said that she's one tough lady and thanks to the unjustifiable "baptism by fire" that the SE gave the new Council members last January, she has some pretty tough skin, too.

She admits that she was influenced by a family situation where "rights" was an issue, and lost perspective of the Council's responsibility in this matter. She assured me that one of her basic beliefs is that government should be open and transparent. She said she had not changed her mind on that, but it was her intent that an applicant for appointment with the City be the one responsible for releasing his or her information to the public, just as she was the one who gave the public her information when she ran for the Council.

As a friend of Dorrene's, I hope people understand that she hasn't changed or been compromised. And by some of the postings here, it does look hopeful. She still has the best interest of the people and of Ogden foremost on her agenda, and spends hours and works hard to help Ogden be a better place to live.

The post above proves Godfrey never gives up trying to compromise Council members! We need to support those Council members who won't be compromised and encourage them to keep up the fight. There is a lot at stake!

Curmudgeon said...

Carolyn:

Three points:

[1] Interviewing elected officials is Mr. Schwebke's job. Or part of it. Getting face time with the Mayor is what he's supposed to be doing. In part. We can argue about whether he puts that time to good use or not, but there is no point in criticizing him for grabbing extended face time with Hizzonah if he can get it. Not to mention that I doubt Mr. Schwebke has any influence over editorial policy at the SE. I criticize his reporting fairly often, but going after him for an SE editorial truly unfair.

[2] On balance, I think Ms. Jeske had been a good addition to the Council. I did not vote for her, but if she were up for re-election today, I would. But let's remember, it was Mrs. Jeske who handed out those flashlights at her first Council meeting. She made open government her issue. So it's hardly unfair of the SE to single her out in today's editorial. Absent the flashlights and her adopting open government as her signature issue, I doubt they would have.

[3] You wrote The post above [presumably Jason W's] proves Godfrey never gives up trying to compromise Council members! Well of course the Mayor is going to try to convince Council member's that his preferences are the right ones. To expect otherwise would be unbelievably nieve. Those who oppose the Mayor's plans will be lobbying for their ideas with the Council members too. That's how the system works. I'm hard put to see how it could work any other way.

ARCritic said...

I hope that the SE appeals the decision of the council to refuse to release the candidate information. I strongly believe that either at the state archivist or at the district court, the decision will be overturned because if there is anything that should be public it is the information about candidates for city council, redactions are of course available.

Remember that state law explicitly forbids interviewing candidates to fill elected positions in closed meetings. This would seem to imply that as much information as possible should be made public.

(2) A public body may not interview a person applying to fill an elected position in a closed meeting.

Mrs. Jeske needs to understand, as curm has pointed out, that the council was acting in the place of the electorate and they should have provided the public with the same information they had so the public could lobby for or against candidates based on the record. The council was not simply choosing a comrade to add to their ranks as the chosen few.

I can understand what she says about the candidates having the right and a responsibility to release personal information but she is dead wrong when she says that the Council is not the keeper. The Government Records Access and Management Act states as the intent of the Legislature:

(1) In enacting this act, the Legislature recognizes two constitutional rights:
(a) the public's right of access to information concerning the conduct of the public's business; and
(b) the right of privacy in relation to personal data gathered by governmental entities.
(2) The Legislature also recognizes a public policy interest in allowing a government to restrict access to certain records, as specified in this chapter, for the public good.
(3) It is the intent of the Legislature to:
(a) promote the public's right of easy and reasonable access to unrestricted public records;
(b) specify those conditions under which the public interest in allowing restrictions on access to records may outweigh the public's interest in access;
(c) prevent abuse of confidentiality by governmental entities by permitting confidential treatment of records only as provided in this chapter;
(d) provide guidelines for both disclosure and restrictions on access to government records, which are based on the equitable weighing of the pertinent interests and which are consistent with nationwide standards of information practices;
(e) favor public access when, in the application of this act, countervailing interests are of equal weight; and
(f) establish fair and reasonable records management practices.

ARCritic said...

And to Sharon it was Bluffdale that, in the words of the lawyer for the Utah League of Cities and Towns, "gelded the mayor". Though since the mayor is a woman maybe I should use a different word?

And amazingly, in Utah Law there is a difference between a Mayor-Council (weak mayor) form of government and a Council-Mayor (strong mayor) form of government. The first is what most have where the mayor is a member of the governing body and can vote to break a tie (Bluffdale has this kind) and the second is what Ogden has where there is true separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government.

Riverdale attempted to institute the Manager-by-Ordinance that Bluffdale did and the people rejected the councils actions in a referendum with a 62% majority against changing. While I agree there are advantages to having a manager there are also drawbacks and the decision to do what Bluffdale did and what Lehi and Syracuse are contemplating. But the biggest problem I have with it is that it significantly changes how a city is governed and administered but the people have no real say in the decision to go to that form of government.

Curmudgeon said...

arcritic:

Couldn't agree more. A change in the form of municipal government ought always be put up to the voters for their consideration first. Always.

sharon said...

Arcritic...I stand corrected...I guess I saw a capital B...and finished the word as Bountiful!!

Thank you for the link and for sharing your knowledge of municipal government.

I wonder if this Council isn't burdened with too many meetings each week, and not enuf time to really study and ponder the issues before them?

This whole fiasco could well have been averted had the Council understood the law.

It can be rectified, however. One of them needs to make a motion to REamend and then this Council must come together as a whole once again and restore the public's right to know.

It is imperative that the citizens be apprised of the character and qualifications of one being APPOINTED to fill a vacancy of an ELECTED seat!

During an election campaign the public can question the candidates at town and 'meet the candidates' functions. Again, I suggest that the Council should get rid of the 'standard' application, and ask for the same info that candidates for office publish in their campaign literature. AFTER an applicant is chosen....then the truly private info that is necessary can be disclosed to the appropiate offices of city government.

Which Council member will step forward?

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