Thursday, November 30, 2006
By Gentle Reader Sharon
Matt Jones took home baby chicks which he rescued from a raid on cock-fighting. His crime? He didn't clear the 'rescue' with his superiors!
WELL...anyone who would snuggle up baby chicks and take them to his farm obviously cannot be trusted to do his duty in stopping errant drivers and writing traffic tickets! We don't want "heart" on the force, boy.
Apparently DiCaria is talking out of both sides of his mouth when he states that Greiner had no evident cause to suspend Jones last July for any wrong doing in the alleged wallet snatchings. He was one of 10 officers on duty...and another time, one of 25!!! officers on duty when the allegations were made.
In the next breath, DiCaria states that Greiner proably DID have sufficient cause.
Read all about it in Kristen Mouton's excellent Trib articles yesterday and today.
The cops THINK their internal 4 month long investigation is winding down. It's all in the hands of Greiner's subordinate.
Three and one-half weeks til Christmas and what will happen to Matt Jones and his family? As Matt is quoted, "If they had anything on me, you think they would have fired me by now."
This Police Department under the leadership of Chief Greiner is committing an egregious act against this officer.
I don't recall seeing any other officers who were on scene at those alleged thefts being put on administrative leave.
Did I miss something here?
Will "Santa Claus Godfrey" (making the self-serving magnanimous gesture) order Matt back to work and hand him his gun, badge and car so he can support his family? His cop's pay is not enough...and I'm sure his little ones are expecting Santa to leave their wishes under the tree.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
By Dian Woodhouse
Those who looked at the agendas in the Standard Examiner this past Sunday will have noted that most of the third column was occupied by Ogden City business. "Ogden Council/Redevelopment Agency, 5 PM work study session" was followed by "Ogden Redevelopment Agency 6 PM work session," which was followed by a 15 point Ogden City Council agenda, followed by a closed executive session. Following this, the Council would reconvene at a Special Redevelopment Agency meeting, one found out tonight, and the newspaper evidently combined the items in that agenda under the 5 PM work session in Sunday's agenda notices. All this not to commend the individuals involved, but instead to say that this is a back-breaking workload. And if I may, I will state as I have before that the RDA should not be made up of Council members, but instead be a separate body of people from the community. And the aforementioned workload is only one of the reasons why.
Editorial comments aside, the Council meeting convened at 6 PM with all members present. Mark Johnson was sitting next to the Mayor and John Patterson was absent. The meeting began with Councilwoman Jeske reading a resolution honoring the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 1481. The list of why this organization should be honored was a lengthy one, and everyone, not just the Council, stood and applauded when the presentation was made.
Next, Bob Bushell accepted a Good Neighbor Award on behalf of Home Depot for the West Ogden Park renovation.
Then the minutes of the Closed Executive Session of October 24th, 2006, were approved on the basis of review by Councilwoman Van Hooser.
Next were three Common Consent Items: Appointments to the Ogden City Arts Committee, an appointment to the Weed and Seed steering committee, and an Honorary Street Name at BDO, such street to be designated "Andrews Way."
This last item was struck from the Common Consent items via a motion by Councilman Stephenson, who informed us that the street to be designated had changed somewhat from the original request, and that therefore this should not be approved at this time. The other two items, however, passed unanimously.
Members of the Ogden City Arts Advisory Board now are: Tami Crowley, Travis Pate, David Wolfgram, Kent Jorgenson, and Richard Scott, all reappointed, and new appointees are: Kate Bruce, Larry Wayne, and Margaret Favero.
Also approved was the appointment of Councilwoman Susan Van Hooser to the Weed and Seed steering committee.
Next were two public hearings, at which no one from the public spoke. The first dealt with moving $360,000 from the Capital Improvements Plan to the Junction Project. This was explained by John Arrington, who stated that this money was appropriated "from potential revenue that will come from BDO." This money was originally designated for CIP on 24th Street, but since that project is not on time, it was decided to instead use that money for The Junction. The street money for it will be used instead for streets in The Junction, as well as sidewalk and curb money with the exception of curb and sidewalk money for sites by schools.
One council member asked if what this did was eliminate the CIP project and put its money in the mall, and it was answered that yes, that was the case for this year. Understood was that next year the 24th Street project could be reinstated.
Proposed Ordinance 2006-73 to move this money to the Junction site was adopted unanimously.
The next public hearing dealt with the medical bonus for the employees outlined in last week's notes. Mr. Arrington noted here that the bonus will be distributed to the employees through the payroll department. Councilman Safsten asked if this were going to be an ongoing thing, and Mark Johnson responded that this was an option, that an agreement could be made with the insurance company to do this. It was also revealed that there were 88 employees who would not be eligible for this, as they had opted out of the insurance program, and there were also some new employees, in whose cases the bonus would be pro-rated.
Councilwoman Jeske stated that the deductible for a family might be too high, and was immediately contradicted by other council members who said that their personal deductibles were higher, that other family deductibles were higher, etc., etc.
Councilwoman Van Hooser requested that if this is indeed to be an ongoing program, the Council should be informed of what was to transpire with it in writing. "...maybe you didn't understand it," Mr. Arrington said, going on to say that the matter had indeed been previously discussed. At this point Chair Garcia stated that having something for the Council in writing, as Councilwoman Van Hooser had suggested, would be a good thing, and the vote began.
The motion to adopt Proposed Ordinance 2006-74 to amend the budget in order to make these medical bonus disbursements possible passed with Councilwoman Van Hooser and Councilman Stephens dissenting. Councilwoman Van Hooser made it clear that she was not "against" city employees, nor was she against giving them money. "I didn't like the way it came down," she said, "Going to the media first and not the Council." Councilman Stevens also made it clear that his vote was not "against" the city employees, but rather that an option had been available to have a portion of the insurance rebate ($150,000) go to the city and a portion ($157,000) go to the employees. Characterizing this option as "a win/win situation," he stated that there were many areas in which that money could have been used beneficially had the city obtained it.
Next, there was a presentation by Greg Montgomery regarding signs, always a hot issue in Ogden. Proposed Ordinance 2006-77, which passed unanimously and had no public comment, will amend Section 18 of the Ogden Municipal Code. "The city must follow state law," Councilman Safsten said, and hoped that "if we have new signs, they are more appropriately placed."
Next, under Administrative Reports, was some departmental reorganization. The background to this was presented as follows by Mr. Binford: In June of 2003, Engineering was moved from Public Works to Community and Economic Development. Building Services was then moved to Engineering. What Proposed Ordinances 2006-78 and 2006-79 will basically do is put things back to the way they were before June of 2003. The Ordinances will also eliminate two positions.
"It's the same people doing the same job reporting to a different person," Mr. Binford said. Also mentioned briefly was the fact that Mr. Harmer "is including the development community," meaning, one assumes, feedback from it, in this reorganization, in order, one assumes again, to ensure that it will be a satisfactory method for that community to work with the city.
"It's important to be always looking for ways to do things more efficiently," Councilman Stephenson said, and the motion to adopt both these ordinances passed unanimously.
The final item under Administrative Reports was Proposed Ordinance 2006-80, which revised fees for the Fire Department Reports that are sent to insurance companies. It will be $15 for a normal report and $25 for an investigative one, and it was mentioned that these fees had not been raised in thirteen years. The ordinance passed unanimously.
Under New Business, it was brought up that the Council might wish to consider canceling its regularly scheduled meeting which fell on December 26th, 2006. This the Council did, considering and canceling in record time.
There were no public comments, but there were some from Administration, Staff, and Council.
Mayor Godfrey addressed the mention of the perception that Ogden was a business unfriendly city. "We are not satisfied with the perceptions that are out there," he said, and went on to state that he did not wish people to think that Ogden was unfriendly to business. On the contrary, he wished Ogden to be a leader in facilitating businesses, and the reorganization of the departments mentioned above was a step in that direction.
Council Executive Director Bill Cook made mention of the passing of John Wolf, a former Ogden City Council Member.
Councilman Stephens spoke in favor of the reorganization, stating that it "shows we have an innovative city." He also wished to pay tribute to those who organized the Christmas Parade, stating that our ushering in of the holiday season was one of the top in the state.
Councilwoman Jeske agreed with this last, and also wished to commend the staff who put lights on the trees and made the municipal gardens look so beautiful.
The meeting then adjourned into Closed Executive Session.
Not having stayed through this to attend the subsequent Special RDA meeting, I shall post its salient agenda items here:
Mall Parking Structure Phase II. Proposed Resolution #2006-18 approving the Planning Commission recommendations for Phase II of the Ogden Entertainment Center Parking Structure. (...roll call vote.)
Mall Plaza Design. Resolution #2006-20 approving the design of the Ogden Entertainment Center Plaza. (...roll call vote.)
Public Hearing: Budget Opening for Mall Parking Structure and Plaza. Proposed Resolution 2006-17 amending the budget for the Fiscal Year July 1 2006 to June 20, 2007, by increasing the anticipated revenues and transfers for gross increases of $14,810,213.00 from sources as detailed in the body of this resolution, and increasing ther appropriations for a gross increase of $14,810,213.00 as detailed in the body of this resolution. (...roll call vote.)
Public Comments, etc.
Perhaps someone will write in and tell us how that went.
Update 11/29/06 9:55 a.m. MT: Scott Schwebke writes in with his 2¢.
Monday, November 27, 2006
The unique combination of Mr. Wilson's professional engineering and ski area management backgrounds has made Mr. Wilson's letter impossible to ignore, and it certainly has not suffered that fate -- except by Mind-numbed Emerald City Gondolists, who have been deafeningly silent to date on the issues raised by Mr. Wilson, and who seem to wish the letter would just "go away."
The continuing silence is broken at least slightly by today's Kristen Moulton article however, which reprises the Wilson letter issues, and provides a few meager responses, from none other than the usually-elusive Chris Peterson himself.
We invite our gentle readers to read Kristen's article, and to compare Mr. Peterson's tangential responses with the robust and precise information provided in Mr. Wilson's letter.
As an added bonus, we also link here the full text of the responsive November 17, 2006 Chris Peterson email, to which Ms. Moulton refers in her article. We'll add that we have received this foregoing text from several different sources over the past week, under circumstances which lead us to believe this particular material is entirely accurate and authentic.
We'll resist the temptation to offer our own additional snarky editorial comments, except to suggest that Mr. Peterson's foregoing email text must stand on its own merit (or lack thereof,) and that Mr. Peterson may have inadvertantly provided us considerable insight into one wanna-be developer's intellectual capacity and professional competence.
We propose that our readers use today's thread to work out the cobwebs after a long weekend. What did Chris Peterson get right, we ask, (if anything?) And what did he get dead-wrong? And what objections did Mr. Peterson ignore entirely?
Who will be the first to comment?
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Our web statistics also reveal however that we have a core segment of dedicated readers who continue to log in daily, regardless of the condition of the calendar. We've even heard from several of them via email. "Post something new," they beseech us. And it is for those dedicated and hard-core gentle readers that we now resist the impulse to take the rest of the weekend off, and have instead decided to establish now a new Thanksgiving weekend open thread.
We invite our readers once again to chime in on whatever topics suit their fancy, and consider this thread wide open. Your humble blogmeister will be distracted this afternoon, watching his alma mater (Utah) battling the evil BYU juggernaut. We doubt we'll post anything new today, unless our beloved Utah Utes somehow miraculously defy the punters' odds.
Just to get things rolling, however, we're linking three items found whilst googling:
First, it seems that Emerald City employees will be receiving an unexpected pecuniary bonus, just in time for Christmas. We don't know whether this is a good thing or not. Perhaps our gentle readers will share their own takes on this:
City health plan pays off -- Ogden city employees to get $307,138 in bonuses
Next, our readers will recall that we made a great fuss a few weeks ago, about the Emerald City Council's failure and refusal to provide application materials submitted by the five finalists for the recent vacancy on the City Council. The Standard-Examiner was irked enough about denial of its GRAMA request, that it unleashed its media lawyer, it appears. Today's Dave Greiling column informs us today that the impasse has been at least partly resolved, with the voluntary production of materials on another three of the five candidates. We thus invite our readers' comments on the latest posture in this matter. Should the Std-Ex continue to press Emerald City authorities for the release of the other yet-undisclosed candidate information (John Thompson,) or should the Std-Ex just let the whole matter slide from here on?
In the end, Ogden comes through on public access issue
Finally, we link a thought-provocative Michael Moore piece from the L.A. Times, which reflects upon the aftermath of the November 7 election. Like him or not, I believe we can all agree that Mr. Moore makes a few pretty danged good points. Or can we?
Michael Moore's pledge - The liberal filmmaker extends an olive branch to disheartened conservatives (Free registration required)
The floor is open, and we're leaving the lights on while we prepare to occupy our trusty barca-lounger, to obsess over this afternoon's BYU-Utah "Holy War."
Don't let the cat get your tongues.
Update 11/26/06 10:55 a.m. MT: One of our sharp-eyed readers got this morning's Standard-Examiner story right in the lower comments thread:
"I just read the Standard-Examiner this morning, city recieves less than expected on settlement from Shupe Williams fire. Doug Stephens says they will have to cut back in other areas to make up the difference.
When are the Council going to relize that this is the same phoney cost estimates always submitted by the Mayor and his croneys. This is so typical of Matt Godfrey and his little over paid bunch of minions."
Keep in mind that this morning's reported half-million dollar shortfall operates in addition to another half-million dollars by which the RDA fell short, when it last January activated a $3 million credit line in anticipation of the originally-expected Shupe Williams $2.5 million insurance settlement.
Of course Boss Godfrey is completely unfazed by all this. And we just loved this Boss Godfrey quote: "'We are not caught in a deficit situation,' he (Godfrey) said Friday. He didn’t provide any details."
That's a million buck shortfall, gentle readers. Have no fear. Be assurred that Boss Godfrey can pull chump-change like that out of his ass, if he needs to. All hail the ever-unruffled Boss Godfrey.
"God save us from God-Free," other more prudent Emerald City citizens wail, as they check their calenders and bleakly observe that the next municipal election/Godfrey referendum remains still nearly a year down the road.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
The Washington Post
Abraham Lincoln knew he was in tricky territory. It was the first week of October 1863, and the president was issuing a proclamation declaring Thanksgiving a national holiday. The culmination of a campaign led by the editor of Godey's Lady's Book, Lincoln's words were calibrated to appeal to Americans of any religious inclination -- and of none at all. Despite "the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field," Lincoln wrote, the fields had been so fruitful and the mines so rich that they produced blessings of a scope that "cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God. . . . No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy."
Lincoln wanted the country to render thanks "with one heart and one voice," but in acknowledging that many hearts and voices were "habitually insensible" to religious feeling, he signaled his grasp of the elusive nature of what Benjamin Franklin had called America's "public religion" -- the broad belief in a God who created the world, who was attentive to history and to prayers, who intervened in the affairs of humankind through providence, and who would ultimately reward or punish men for their conduct. This was the "Creator" and the "Nature's God" of the Declaration of Independence and the God whom George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson spoke of in their public remarks. In America such talk was (and is) complicated, for the nation was founded on the principle of religious liberty -- that, at the federal level, no one's civil or political rights could be affected by his faith or lack thereof. As Washington said in a letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport, R.I., in 1790, America "gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance." And Jefferson approvingly wrote of "a wall of separation between Church & State" in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut.
How, then, do we reconcile matters when that same government, one pledged to defend the rights of nonbelievers, engages in essentially religious activity -- the offering of prayers in legislative sessions; the employment, at public expense, of military chaplains; or, to bring things back to Lincoln's proclamation, the appointment of days of Thanksgiving on explicitly religious grounds?
Chiefly by noting that Jefferson's wall metaphor -- one that the Supreme Court picked up again in the middle of the 20th century -- is between church and state, not between religion and politics. Because politics is about people, religion will forever be a force in public life, for religion, like economics, is a factor in shaping ambitions, appetites, hopes and fears. History teaches us that the religious impulse is intrinsic. "All men have need of the gods," said Homer, and John Adams remarked: "Religion always has and always will govern mankind. Man is constitutionally, essentially and unchangeably a religious animal. Neither philosophers nor politicians can ever govern him in any other way."
The most fervent secularist, however, could justifiably argue that just because religion is prevalent does not mean that governments, particularly governments founded on liberty of conscience, should cater to the religious to the exclusion of the nonreligious. Why not have governments stay out of religious affairs altogether? The secular argument for this is obvious, and there is a strong theological argument for such a view. "Put not thy trust in princes," advised the Psalmist, and Jesus told Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world." The dissenter Roger Williams believed that "the garden of Christ's church" should not be contaminated by "the wilderness of the world."
But neither view has ever prevailed. The American habit, formed from the very beginning, when delegates to the Continental Congress prayed as a body for deliverance from the British, has been to choose to follow the forms of Franklin's "public religion," avoiding as much as possible sectarian references to the God of Abraham or God the Father and keeping things as vague as possible. The ambiguity of exactly whom or what we are referring to when we say "God bless America" or, as Lincoln called on us to do, when we thank "the Most High God," makes the strictly religious uncomfortable, for to pray to an indistinct deity can feel idolatrous. Believers, however, must, as G.K. Chesterton said, "permit the twilight," and most Americans have chosen to permit the twilight of public religion.
And so Americans have permitted Thanksgiving as well. The roots of the feast stretch back to 1619, to Berkeley Plantation in Virginia, and, more notably, to 1621 at Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. By the time of the Civil War, Lincoln was convinced that a national day would promote unity -- given the war, it certainly could not hurt -- and he made the proclamation. To legal scholars, customs such as Thanksgiving fall under what is (infelicitously) known as "ceremonial deism" -- long-standing, innocuous rituals. "It is an argument from history," says John Witte Jr., director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University. "The passage of time will show if this is a step along the way to establishment of religion or if it's a ritual show of public spirit or patriotism."
It is, admittedly, an odd argument to advance: Thanksgiving and its religious roots are acceptable precisely because the religious roots have proved benign, or at least so broadly inclusive that no single religious denomination can claim the day solely as its own. In its way, then, Thanksgiving is the ultimate American holiday: religious without being sectarian, with room for the nonreligious to simply pause and celebrate our common humanity. The origins of the day are inescapably theological, but there is much secular tradition on which to draw as well. Robert Ingersoll, the great 19th-century advocate of free thought, called secularism "the religion of humanity. . . . It does not believe in praying and receiving, but in earning and deserving. It regards work as worship, labor as prayer, and wisdom as the savior of mankind. It says to every human being, Take care of yourself so that you may be able to help others; adorn your life with the gems called good deeds; illumine your path with the sunlight called friendship and love."
The American experiment in religious liberty goes on. Perhaps no one ever put the matter better than John Leland, a Baptist evangelist who worked with Jefferson and James Madison on religious freedom in Virginia: "Let every man speak freely without fear, maintain the principles that he believes, worship according to his own faith, either one God, three Gods, no God, or 20 Gods; and let government protect him in so doing." Madison took such sentiments to heart, and, late in his long life, at Montpelier, he continued to ponder the mysteries of religion and politics.
"The Constitution of the U.S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion," Madison wrote; he was debating whether the appointment of congressional chaplains was compatible with the First Amendment and with the ideal of religious liberty. "In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative," Madison acknowledged. Both pragmatic and wise, though, Madison concluded that "as the precedent is not likely to be rescinded, the best that can now be done may be to apply to the Constitution the maxim of the law, de minimis non curat" -- Latin for "the law does not concern itself with trifles."
Is, then, Thanksgiving a trifle, or the most solemn tribute a people can render to a God? The genius of America is that we are free to believe either -- or something in between. Such freedom is something we should all give thanks for, today and always.
The writer is editor of Newsweek and the author of "American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation." He and The Post's Sally Quinn moderate On Faith, an online conversation on religion at http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Something very interesting from this morning's Salt Lake Tribune: Kristen Moulton reports that Los Angeles-based gondolist and Ogden real estate investor Gadi Leshem has been arrested, charged and has entered not guilty pleas to five felony counts of workers' comp insurance fraud and conspiracy, which charges are based upon an alleged 4-1/2 year pattern of company payroll under-reporting:
Ogden booster faces felony chargesLike all defendants charged with criminal violations, Mr. Leshem is entitled to the benefit of the presumption of innocence, while this matter works its way through the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Nevertheless, we imagine this development will not be interpreted as "good news" by the local Emerald City Gondolist Cult.
By Kristen Moulton
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated:11/18/2006 12:33:39 AM MST
A businessman who has been snapping up property in blighted downtown Ogden and helped produce a video touting Mayor Matthew Godfrey's vision of the city as a recreational hub faces felony fraud charges in California.
Gadi Leshem, president and chief executive officer of Cover-All Inc., a flooring-installation company, is accused along with two of his executives of cheating California out of $11 million in workers-compensation insurance premiums since 2001.
Leshem, 59, pleaded not guilty to one felony count of conspiracy and four felony counts of insurance fraud earlier this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
His attorney, Mark Werksman, said the case is without merit and that he expects all charges to be dismissed.
Businessmen promoting Ogden have called Leshem a "visionary" who began investing in Ogden because he sees great promise in the northern Utah city's future as an urban center linked by gondola to a mountain resort.
He was the executive producer last year of a video - "Ogden: It's All Within Reach" - that Godfrey used to promote the city as a recreational magnet to prospective businesses.
The mayor did not return a phone call seeking comment Friday.
According to records at the Weber County Assessor's Office, Leshem has invested in 28 parcels - mostly vacant commercial land downtown - worth nearly $1.5 million.
Most of the property, including two warehouses and two old homes, sits along Wall Avenue or in the blighted area slated for redevelopment as part of the Ogden River Project."
Update 11/20/06 6:09 p.m. MT: For the sake of archival continuity, we link yesterday's Standard Examiner article on this topic here. Std-Ex reporter Rebecca Palmer deftly adds Boss Godfrey's self-serving comments to the reportorial mix, in which he borrows a page from Bill Clinton's book, distances himself from his former "close pal," and weirdly refers to "golden gondolist boy" Leshem as "that individual." A Weber County Forum Tip o' The Hat to one anonymous gentle reader in the lower comments section for bringing that deja vu Boss Godfrey moment of official slimeyness to our attention.
Update 11/21/06 9:05 a.m. MT: We link here this morning's Scott Schwebke story, mysteriously buried on the Std-Ex print edition business page, breathlessly announcing Mr. Leshem's hope that his five pending felony charges will soon be dismissed, a hope univerally shared (and seldom realized) by every single defendant who has ever been charged with any criminal violation. As an added bonus, Ace reporter Schwebke devotes column-space to Boss Godfrey, as he further attempts to distance himself from Mr. Leshem. "A tremendous cheerleader," says Boss Godfrey (with a completely straight face,) in reference to gondolist visionary Leshem, but certainly not someone with a "central role" in Emerald City's ongoing real-life melodrama... yeah, THAT's the ticket.
Friday, November 17, 2006
However, Ken Burton, also of Ogden, said he supports the Peterson proposal and would like to see supporters and opponents of the plan reach a compromise. "Let's work the plan out (to benefit everyone)," he said.Although we've already benefitted from considerable early meeting feedback in last night's reader comments, we'd welcome further discussion here, comparing the facts reported in this morning's Scott Schwebke's story, with the impressions of Weber County Forum readers who themselves attended last night's event. In this connection we are particularly fascinated by Ace Reporter Schwebke's novel word selection in describing the citizen turnout for a community meeting on yesterday's dark and wintry night. Whereas Dian's earlier comments speak of an actual head-count of 133, reporter Schwebke chooses to describe the attendance as "dozens of residents." That's eleven dozen in attendance, gentle readers, by the way, according to our careful calculations -- and we wonder why reporter Schwebke saw fit to seemingly downplay the numbers. Perhaps our gentle readers have their own theories about this.
And on another note, we're linking two stories that appeared in yesterday's Standard Examiner and Salt Lake Tribune, concerning the ambiguous situation created by Boss Godfrey, when he recently scratched out the Weber State/Intermodal Hub corridor on a Wasatch Regional Council public transit proposal map. This incautious act on the part of Boss Godfrey caused enough confusion, it is reported, to have required Emerald City Council Chairman Garcia to intervene, and to issue his own remedial letter.
And we really loved this typically snarky remark from Boss Godfrey, who says it wasn't HIS mistake at all: "This just underscores they [council members] don't know how the process works," Godfrey said Tuesday. "It isn't a matter of wishing for a project to be on or off."
We thank gentle reader Curmudgeon for bringing this matter to our attention last week. And we'd also like to thank Chairman Garcia for his proactive response to what could have been a terribly painful economic outcome, resulting from yet another sloppy Boss Godfrey blunder. It's certainly nice to know that somebody in local government is paying attention, and looking after our citizen interests.
And we couldn't fail to note that Boss Godfrey still seems to cling to the notion that his ever-persistent gondola fantasy represents a legitimate public transportation alternative. Although we'd assumed that he'd backed off on this ludicrous argument recently, it seems he's now let the cat out of the bag about his secret intentions once again.
Reader comments are invited on either of these topics.
And Don't let Boss Godfrey's cat get your tongues.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Date: November 16, 2006
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Mount Ogden Middle School
3260 Harrison Blvd.
Bend your schedule to be there tonight... or be prepared to "bend over" later.
We think tonight's event presents an ideal opportunity for the citizens of Emerald City to show up in force, to take "the process" under their own control again, and to let Boss Godfrey's Uncle Montgomery and other Planning Department staff know who's really in charge in re the ongoing planning/zoning process.
Bring along your torches and pitchforks, fellow lumpenvillagers.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Gentle reader Dian has outdone even her normally prodigiously intelligent and rosourceful self today. The depth of her work product this day exceeds everything that any of the print media have reported, or could report, (given page-space limitations,) re: last night's council/RDA session.
Take notes people. Last night's meeting was FAR MORE COMPLICATED. politically, than anything you'll ever read in an Ace Reporter Schwebke article.
Dian has produced FOUR articles (from nineteen 11x8 pages of rough notes) for our gentle readers' consumption concerning last night's combined Council/RDA meetings.
For those gentle readers who want detail... It's right here, thanks to the efforts of our own gentle reader/WCF Contributor, Dian.
By Dian Woodhouse
Tonight's meeting dealt with so many issues that any one of them would provide a day of discussion material. Furthermore, the format of the meeting involved the Council switching back and forth from Council business to RDA business and also one closed executive session. The Peterson issue is important, I agree. But some of these other issues will have equally far-reaching effects on Ogden City. Too many issues that deserve time and coverage have been put on the back burner in order to discuss the Peterson project, and these things need coverage too.
Therefore, the first item of interest was the West 12th Street Economic Development Project Area. We have discussed this complex situation before. Fresenius is expanding, and the idea is to sell them the property which is currently used to park and maintain the school buses. A new bus facility will be built (by us,) and the school bus facility will be moved to it. We will then sell the property to Fresenius, which has been very good to us, the presentation said, in the way of investing in the area and providing jobs.
In order to make the Fresenius expansion happen, the Project Area Budget had to be amended and the Project Area itself reconfigured, which was the subject of proposed RDA Resolution 2006-16. It was stated in Dave Harmer's superior power point presentation that the state had been approached for money to help with this, which it had granted, and also that Fresenius had been talking with North Carolina about locating there. Here's where it gets tricky.
This issue required Council action authorizing the RDA to issue and sell up to $6,750,000 in tax increment revenue bonds and to allow it to purchase property. As these things required Council action, they happened in a different part of the evening's events. They all passed, by the way. What came next chronologically after the presentation was public comment.
No one from Fresenius was present.
The first speaker, a Mr. Aaron(?) stated that "What's happening is great for Utah, great for Ogden, great for everybody except those who live on Gibson Avenue." He went on to state that the residents had received a letter that informed them that their properties would undergo increased valuation, and that there was no reason at all to raise the property taxes in that area because of this Fresenius expansion. "These taxes will go up and we want to know why," he said. "We said in the Pledge of Allegiance that there will be justice. There is no justice. Will someone please explain why they are raising my taxes?"
Virginia Hernandez then spoke regarding Hispanic families in the area, and stated that "These people should be informed properly" so that they could voice their opinions.
The next speaker had lived in the area 34 years and owns two acres. She had already undergone a large tax hike, was on a fixed income, and did not want to sell her property. "I raised my children there. I like it there." Stating that she was a member of the Nature Center, she said that her property also provided habitat for birds. "I want to save that little sanctuary," she said. "(They will) mow everything down--the green is gone--Let them leave me alone until I die."
Here Mr. Harmer stated soothingly that their property taxes shouldn't be affected, that the County Assessor valued property, and that actions regarding Fresenius had nothing to do with it. Councilwoman Jeske suggested that perhaps the increase they had already seen was from another source, the School District, for instance. "The tax increase is not from us," she stated.
The public hearing closed, and there was more discussion. Councilman Stephens said that, "We need to be conscious of these individuals who are on a fixed income." and it was reiterated by Mr. Harmer that "We're not doing anything to change the tax rate."
At this point, a portion of the letter the residents had received from the city was quoted by one of the speakers. It said:
"...resulting from an increase in valuation of property within the proposed project area."
"That's us," he said.
Mr. Harmer agreed that the wording of this led one to believe that those taxes would go up because of this project, but implied that this would not be the case. Proposed Resolution #2006-16 passed. The residents and Mr. Harmer continued discussion in the hall.
A copy of the Resolution was not available. If the wording from the letter is present in the Resolution, it would follow that those residents will indeed experience an increase in their taxes as a result of this project, even though they were verbally assured that this increase would not be a result of the project.
Ed. Note: We append hereto Scott Schwebke's Standard-Examiner story of this morning, which briefly reports on last night's combined Council/RDA meeting.
We have also uploaded a digital version of last night's tabled resolution, which is available for our gentle readers' viewing via this link.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
First in order is this interesting Steve Gehrke front page feature, briefly summarizing the history of several of the various Malan's Basin Resort schemes that have arisen and faded away since the early 1900's. In a case of family history deja vu, the article profiles Ogden resident Maurice Richards, uncle of prominent present-day gondolists Ed and Bernie Allen. Uncle Maurice is a gondolist from an earlier generation of a committed Malan's Basin Gondolist family, reporter Gehrke informs us. Gondolism is a tradition in the Richards family -- the single-minded inter-generational familial obsession that will not die.
Richards reminisces about the failure of another ambitious gondola plan which withered and died in the 60's, when two gondola-proponent county commissioners were ushered out of office by the ever-sensible voters of Weber County:
Richards said the project was rolling along toward fruition when election time came around and his two fellow commissioners, Favero and Elmer Carver, lostNo business sense, indeed. Richards has by no means given up on his family's gondola dream, however. Gondolism runs in the blood, it would seem. The Richards clan are not quitters -- no, nay never:
"The two fellows who came in were caretakers rather than commissioners," Richards said. "They had no imagination or business sense at all, and they cut all the plans right off."
Richards said the commission trashed the long-coming idea, and it was never seen again.
Richards said he is hopeful the gondola project will succeed this time so people might rediscover the beauty of the area the Malans had established more than 100 years ago.Where have we heard that last line before, we ask? Thanks to this morning's Standard-Examiner story we now know it's an ancient and cherished Richards family tradition.
"I think, for the community, it would be one of the best things that ever happened,"he said. "We need this to have things that other western cities don't have."
And speaking of deja vu, reporter Gehrke offers up this interesting background information, from the venerable Bernie Diamond, one of Maurice Richards' generational peers. Mr. Diamond was an Emerald City mover and shaker during the period of the 1960's, and if memory serves, a former (6 year) Emerald City councilman, and also former acting mayor of the capital city of the Land of Oz:
Hmm...There is truly "nothing new under the sun" here in Emerald City, as the foregoing comments aptly illustrate.
But Bernie Diamond, who was the head of the chamber of commerce around the time the old gondola was being proposed, said there are still lingering doubts similar to those of 40 years ago.
"The big question was, would there really be enough people who would go out of their way to come to Ogden to ride a gondola?
"I think the feeling was that it would not be a destination point. While it might be a novelty to begin with, you couldn't keep it going."
A second Standard-Examiner article places on the front page the information that the Std-Ex had hidden on the obituary page yesterday. "Council to set up gondola process", this morning's section B headline announces.
Now that this information is in the general public domain, we do hope Emerald City citizens will pack the council chamber tonight. Many of us are asking why the Emerald City Council and Planning Commission are falling over themselves to set up procedures for a plan which has not yet materialized. Perhaps some of our questions will be answered this evening.
The floor is now open for your gentle comments.
Monday, November 13, 2006
The Deseret News reports the circumstance of yet another highly-productive Ogden resident who is being deported to Mexico, for relatively trivial reasons, we think, under federal immigration law:
Utah's art community is rallying behind Guillermo Colmenero, an emerging local sculptor and undocumented immigrant who was deported last week.
A motion to reopen Colmenero's case seeking legal status was recently denied, and his attorney said a past marijuana conviction has been the biggest obstacle in Colmenero's long-standing application for legal status.
Colmenero opted to be deported to Mexico on Thursday, his only option other than remaining in jail while his appeal is pending. His wife, Marla, a U.S. citizen, remains in Salt Lake.
"He's one of the top Latino artists in the state," Marla Colmenero said. "He wanted to be here legally. He made Utah his home for over 10 years. He didn't want to leave, but he didn't want to stay in jail either."
We'll happily entertain our readers' comments on this. While we recognize that we do have a serious "immigration problem" in this country, we wonder whether the law, as presently applied, isn't a mite heavy-handed in some individual cases.One of our gentle readers directs our attention to a Saturday Standard-Examiner story, reporting the results of a Thursday night meeting, wherein the Farmington City Council voted unanimously to deny a property owner's rezoning request, despite a Planning Commission recommendation for approval. Our reader contends that this city council action is a demonstration of democracy in action, and an illustration of what can happen when citizens get involved in their local government. Our take, on the other hand, is that this council decision may represent the very type of mobocracy that the Founding Fathers warned us about. It seems to us that Mr. Haugen's fundamental property rights interests may not have been accorded due weight by the Commissars in the Farmington Chamber of People's Deputies in this matter; and we invite our readers' comments on this observation.
Finally, the Standard-Examiner editorial page presents another Jay Hudson guest commentary, pertaining to concerns about the Mt. Ogden Parklands. Mr. Hudson, who also contributed an earlier Std-Ex article on the same topic recently, submits this latest guest piece in apologue form, presumably intended for readers other than Rudi. Your humble blogmeister inevitably and invariably experiences gastric distress, of course, whenever confronted with allegories, fables, parables and other metaphorical devices conveyed in overly-attenuated literary form. We are certain, however, that such contrivances work for other people, so we're highlighting the article here.
Comments are welcome on any of the above, or any other topics that float our readers' boats.
Time to shake out the weekend cobwebs, gentle readers, and get back to frenzied blogging again!
Update 11/23/06 11:12 a.m. MT: Sharp-eyed and genuinely gentle reader Dan S. informs us of this ominous language in a Std-Ex "Tuesday Council Agenda" notice, buried in the Std-Ex obituary page: "Process steps for Chris Peterson project."
We'd heard rumors that something new has been surreptitiously sent to our Emerald City Council by Peterson's high-priced mouthpiece, Ellison. We think Tuesday night's RDA meeting may be a must-attend event.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Veteran's day parade tomorrow, announces today's Standard-Examiner headline.
And for a little history, here's this great earlier Std-Ex story.
Be there or be square, fellow Emerald City U.S. military veterans.
And to rattle the memories of those vets who may have forgotten how to march, or even rout step properly, here's a the familiar and authentic U.S. military marching/running cadence (Duckworth) chant, going back at least to the Korean War Era, which we're sure all late 20th/early 21st century military folks will well remember, even in its most recent, probably politically-correct and watered-down manifestation[s].
Brings a tear to yer humble blogmeister's jaded eye, actually... [sniff]
We call upon all U.S. military veterans -- and lifetime patriotic civilians to get downtown tomorrow for the Emerald City Veteran's Day Parade.
Rudi will be there, out of uniform, as per normal when he's off-duty & mustered from the U.S. Army for +26 years; and Rudi will also be participating in a short veteran's gathering/reunion at the Kokomo Klub after the parade, one click off the parade/UTA #603 bus route.
This is the first time in a long while that U.S. military veterans have been honored with a parade in Emerald City, as the above history article reports.
We hope Emerald City citizens will show up in force tomorrow morning to support the troops present and past; and that the turnout will mandate the doing of this as an annual Emerald City event.
Update 11/12/06 7:58 a.m. MT: Rudi attended yesterday's parade, and had a danged fine time of it. What the crowd in attendance lacked in sheer numbers, it made up for in wild enthusiasm. There was much spirited interaction between the folks who stood on the curb, cheering, waving and saluting, and the hundreds of active-duty military personnel, veterans and other participants (including city council members Stephens & Jeske) who were officially part of the parade.
Numerous wheelchairs were in evidence, as a stark reminder of the true nature of the sacrifices made by men and women who wear the uniform in the service of their country. And in the olde-tyme blue-collar spirit of Emerald City, we enjoyed the 2-1/2 block long Emerald City Harley-Davidson parade unit, with many riders sporting Vietnam War-era military insignia and apparel -- something which particularly touched your sentimental blogmeister's heart.
We've uploaded a few snapshots of the event to our Picasa web photo album, for those who were unfortunate enought to have missed it. Although the camera lighting was poor, we believe these images do generally capture the atmosphere of this fantastic event as it transpired.
We sincerely hope the Emerald City Veteran's Day Parade will become an annual event; and we congratulate and thank all organizers, participants and attendees for putting together what was a genuinely heart-warming and spiritually-uplifting event.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Stuart Reid is now reportedly claiming that a pair of election-eve mailers doomed his candidacy, due to false allegations; namely these:
• Reid supported the use of eminent domain to obtain private property for commercial purposes when he worked as Ogden's community and economic development director.Excuse us for asking, but wasn't Mr. Reid the Economic Development Director in the spring of 2005, the period when Boss Godfrey and his Emerald City Economic Development Department were madly scrambling to assemble properties for the downtown Wal-mart project? Wasn't the threat of eminent domain the "necessary tool" that city economic development officials were relying upon to pry property owners in the Wal-mart project area loose from their residential and business properties? Wasn't Reid one of the many Emerald City officials who cried their eyes out when Senator Bramble, and the majority of legislators on capital hill, abruptly removed the condemnation power from the city RDA's bag of tricks? Wasn't the restoration of the RDA power of eminent domain one of the projects that Mr. Reid had in mind when he threw his hat into the Senate 18 race? And now Reid seems to be suddenly implying that he wasn't in favor of the use of the power of eminent domain at the time?
• Reid's "political operatives" tried to steal votes by contacting the U.S. Office of Special Counsel to have Greiner disqualified for a federal Hatch Act violation.
And Utah Democratic Party Chairman Todd Taylor readily admits it was he who initiated the last minute Hatch Act complaint. If Reid doesn't consider the chairman of the party which put his name on the ballot a "political operative," we'd be hard put to find anyone else who would fit the description.
And of course Mr. Reid ignores the other political baggage he hauled into the Senate 18 race, such as his "secret" severance bonus, and his cushy $70 thousand/year "featherbed" BDO post-retirement management contract, which continues unto this very day. Citizens of both Weber and Davis counties were all well-aware of all of the above factors as Mr. Reid entered the Senate 18. All of these factors were widely reported in the media, well prior to the distribution of these mailers. Mr. Reid's candidacy was a non-starter from the very beginning, so far as we can see.
Somehow Mr. Reid's whining about a pair of "unnecessary" mailings has a mendacious ring to it, we think.
The truly odd component of this story, of course, is the fact that some well-heeled intermeddler (The Utah Republican Party[?]), outside Mr. Greiner's own campaign, ostensibly reached into its back pocket to the tune of $17 thousand, without so much as informing Mr. Greiner about it. This officious effort could easily have back-fired. Assuming the truth of the facts reported, Mr. Greiner is justifiably miffed. Utah voters have a notable aversion to late-campaign negativity, and these late mailings could very well have cost Greiner many votes.
If anyone should be whining here, it seems to us, it ought to be Mr. Greiner.
We think Mr. Reid should just "get over it;" and we say the same to the Standard-Examiner.
And what think our gentle readers? Isn't it time to move on?
Feel free to speak out on this topic; or start one of your own.
What's on our gentle readers' minds today?
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
While this Associated press story dwells merely upon the Republican loss of the U.S. House of Representatives, the mood of American "progressives," in the wake of last night's Democratic victory is far less restrained -- at least in some regions of the blogosphere.
Quite predictably though, yesterday's election was pretty much GOP business as usual in Utah, the reddest of red states, even in close districts like Senate 18.
Now that the smoke is clearing from yesterday's biennial political distraction, we think it's time to get back to our basic focus here at Weber County Forum, i.e., monitoring the performance of local government, and exposing liars, cheats, poseurs and other assorted fakirs.
And frankly, we're tired of talking about the 2006 elections. Dirty politics in the Senate 18 race has left an exceedingly bad taste in our mouth, even though we believe justice (and citizen common sense) ultimately prevailed. So it's time to broaden the discussion, we think.
In that connection we're reeling off a few of yesterday's news stories -- articles we put on the back burner, so we could keep the spotlight on yesterday's election.
- Emerald City appears to be on the cusp of being nickle-and-dimed to death, according to this Standard-Examiner story.
- Charlie Trentleman examines Gondolist Zombie Cult claims, and draws some very rational conclusions.
- Gondolist Bernie Allen learns some hard lessons about self-serving behavior, perpetrated by a person placed in a position of trust in his law office. Hopefully things will work out for the best, and Bernie will emerge from this unfortunate situation with increased sympathy for his fellow lumpencitizens, who are are keeping a very close eye on his cretin nephew-in-law, another obviously self-obsessed individual who's been placed in a fairly important postion of trust in our town.
- Gentle Reader Sharon requested -- and got -- her much-deserved retraction, for which we congratulate her.
Have at it, O Gentle Ones.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
It's Tuesday morning, and the polls are open. Today is the final day for Weber County citizens to exercise their voter franchise in the 2006 general elections -- or refrain from exercising it -- as the case may be.
And in that connection we're taking a novel approach this year. In a political environment where the media all across the land urge voters to get to the polls and vote, we're urging voters to stay home. For our own part, of course, we will go to the polls this morning ourselves, keeping in mind that a low voter turnout magnifies our political clout. If the voter turnout drops by 50% of normal, for instance, our own relative political power is doubled. We thus urge everybody to stay home. Let Rudi and a few other political wonks make your decisions for you this year, we say.
For those diehards who insist on going to the polls anyway, notwithstanding your blogmeister's wise contrarian advice, there still remains one way, for Senate 18 Democrats at least, to refrain from exercising their voter franchise.
In recent days we've heard some grousing from democrats among our gentle readership, complaining of the inclusion of a wretched DINO on their otherwise party-pristine ticket. "I'll hold my nose and press the Stuart Reid button," said gentle Curmudgeon in a lower comments thread, "...but I'll vow to become more involved in my party in the future..." (or something very similar.)
Well, it appears that Mr. Reid may have taken distressed Democratic voters almost completely off the hook in recent weeks. For all intents and purposes, it seems to us, Mr. Reid has renounced the very party that put his name on today's ballot.
We'd already heard that Mr. Reid's most recent mailers had neglected any reference to a Democratic party affiliation, but an intra-party event put the frosting on the party-turncoat cake last week.
According to a Democratic party insider with whom we talked yesterday, Mr. Reid refused to participate in this half-page weekend ad, which proudly bears the names and faces of all other Weber County Democratic candidates who will appear on today's ballots under the Democratic Party banner. Mr. Reid did not want to be associated with the other Democratic candidates, we were told. He's a political "hybrid," after all.
Mr. Reid has apparently flown the coop, left blushing fellow candidates in the lurch, and slapped the faces of the party who handed him the Democratic Party nomination.
In classic Stuart Reid style, he DID manage to soak up six grand or so of Democratic party donations before his back-door departure however. Perhaps he considered these funds some kind of severance bonus.
You're off the hook Weber County Democrats. In the event you disregard your blogmeister's sage advice about refraining from voting altogether, the Senate 18 race remains one place you can vote with your feet.
And for the uber-stubborn among us, who obsessively insist on casting their vote today, remember: "A vote for Reid is a vote for Godfrey."
Stay away from the polls!
Update 11/7/06 7:10 p.m. MT: We've scoured the net for the best sites for local election updates, and these are the best two that we've found.
The Standard-Examiner has a dynamic site here. (It updates every 90 seconds.)
The Salt Lake Tribune version is viewable here. (We'll have to wait and see whether it is dynamic.)
Of the two, the Std-Ex site seems to have the better design, at least for political wonks who are closely looking for 2006 Weber County Election results. In both cases, the tracking of races included on Weber County ballots will require some navigation between pages. Both sites have navigation links below the page headers.
We've also added the Std-Ex link to the right sidebar.
Good luck everyone; and may the best candidates emerge as winners.
Monday, November 06, 2006
By Gentle Reader Sharon
I see that the Standard-Examiner Editorial Board is finally asking questions of the elusive Chris Peterson.
Their earlier editorial appears to have been successful in shaking loose Decaria''s investigative results. Let's see if this brings Chris out of his hiding place Hopefully, the SE Board will be as interested in reporting the attempted rape of our public lands, and the foreplay being the changes in the zoning ordinances of the General Plan.
Well, everything we hoped wouldn't happen, has developed at the 'developing' Junction. according to this morning's Scott Schwebke story.
I thot the parking garage already had 1.5 mil dumped into its security system? Now, it will gobble up about 2 million more for a security system and elevator. Should have torn the bloody thing down in the first place. Besides, it's ugly. Could be colorful tho, when the gangbangers get thru using their paint cans on it.
And how about that plaza?? Sandstone benches of 'varying heights' under a 'grove of trees', a 'water feature' (of what?), and a 'bronze sculpture of a mountain climber and belay'....all this giving the tired shoppers at the yet unnamed retail stores a dazzling view of Neilson's climbing wall!!
This makes me think of a carnival barker hawking the fat lady and two-headed calf inside the tent! Who the blazes wants to sit under a grove of trees and look into Neilson's gym to watch a couple kids climb a wall?
Heck, most harried mothers could charge the public to come see HER climb her walls!
How much will we love seeing that bronze sculpture of a mountain climber after the climbing wall, flow rider and other thrilling delites fail??
And, aren't Godfrey and Geigers' selling Ogden as a SKI capital??
Using road improvement monies for the Junction is a baaaaad idea. When Godfrey was pushing the rec center down our throats, he wanted everything done NOW....everything with this guy has to be done NOW...that's his MO. Unfortunately, thoughful long-range planning doesn't seem to be a part of his MO for any of his projects.
I SUGGEST HE THROW A BLACK TIE DINNER FOR ALL HIS WELL-HEELED GADFLY FRIENDS, AND RAISE THE FUNDS HE NEEDS FOR A PLAZA AND SECURITY CAMERAS.
Since the weather will turn cold in a couple weeks, a hot chocolate stand might be as successful as that taco stand in front of the municipal building.
Pray that our roads don't further erode if we have a wet winter.
Update 11/6/06 10:20 a.m. MT: An alert reader gives us a heads-up on a transportation planning meeting/open house which is being held today, at the downtown Weber County Government Center.
"Please attend!!! and let them know how you really feel about transit and other transportation issues in the city," Gentle Reader Junebug admonishes.
Monday, November 6, 2006
Weber County Government Center , southeast entryway, 2380 Washington Blvd. , Ogden
3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
By Dian Woodhouse
When I arrived at this meeting around 8 PM, there were still a couple of issues to be decided before the amendment issue was presented. The discussion of these issues I think will really shed more light on the other and about how the Planning Commission works.
The first one I heard was number 9 on this oh-so-packed agenda: "Conditional Use Permit CUP (137-06) for preliminary approval of the River Glen Group Dwelling at 1131 16th Street." Public comments were in progress, and the first I heard was from the owner of private road in that area. It is a right of way, but nonetheless privately owned, and the speaker asked, "Don't I have any say as to what goes on on my property?"
I did not hear a definitive answer to this question from the Commission.
Other speakers backed him up on this, stating also that the road in its present condition was too narrow to let two vehicles pass on it. This, although seemingly glossed over by the Commission, is to me quite crucial. I lived by a private road once, and a developer began to use the "right of way" to run the large construction trucks on to get to a nearby development. Those trucks literally destroyed that road. After about a month of them using it, it began to erode, and then clouds of dust would blanket the neighborhood every time a truck went by.
The problem here is that a private road is just that---private. The city does not maintain it, resurface it, or plow it. The owner or owners of the road are responsible for those things, and since no arrangement with the developer had been worked out because of this already present "right of way," everybody around there was left with having to deal, at the end, with what was almost a dirt road. So these things are important, and in my opinion should be addressed.
The developer spoke, briefly outlining what was intended---a complex of housing with a Homeowner's Association, and very strict rules as to what tenants could and could not do with the outside of their property, etc.
Preliminary approval of this use permit passed with one dissenting, our newest Commissioner, Lillian Holman. After the vote, Commission Chair Cathy Blaisdell said, "Commissioner Holman, would you explain your "no" vote please?" This I found unusual, but perhaps it is standard for this body to ask for explanations of dissent. Commissioner Holman stated that she was concerned about the traffic congestion on 16th Street, and besides, the neighbors didn't want it.
The next issue was very similar to this last: Item 10, "Conditional Use Permit (CUP 137-06) for preliminary approval of Hidden Cove Townhomes at 216 East 9th Street." At this point, Commissioner Maw entered the room, having been absent during discussion of the previous issue. I believe that he had recused himself from discussion of it, because my impression was that he had been in attendance before. The discussion of this item was interesting in view of the extreme meticulousness staff had given to the plans.
For instance, the presence or absence of exterior shutters on the building was discussed, with staff strongly recommending that they be present. Discussed also was the need for wainscoting, and a staff preference that brick instead of stucco be used in the columns. One could not help but contrast this meticulousness with the seemingly "anything goes" amendment up next to create the MU (mixed use) zone.
The neighbors spoke, one mentioning the high crime already present in that area and stating that the appearance of multi-family housing would add further to the transient population instead of the stability of the neighborhood. Another neighbor asked where the dumpsters would be.
"I don't know that we have to answer that," Chairwoman Blaisdell said, perhaps somewhat testily, but the developer was present and stated where they would be.
A Commissioner then pointed out that they had in front of them approval for a 22 unit complex whereas the plans were showing 24 units.
Commissioner Herman then spoke to this issue, stating that there was a fundamental problem here with this neighborhood that no amount of shutters could rectify. He believed that more connection to the neighborhood should be encouraged, that now it was "isolated and fragmented. I think they'd better start over in their approach," he said.
Commissioner Holman then moved that approval of the permit be tabled "until the developers come up with a design more conducive to that property..." This passed 6 -- 2. Again, the dissenting votes were asked by the Chair for an explanation. Commissioner Dyer stated that he felt that the justification for denial was on an emotional basis, and he did not feel that should play a part. Discussion of this permit was then tabled until December 6th, and developers were told to "get with staff and see what you can work out."
Since we have already discussed the presentation of Item 11: Public Hearing to Consider Proposal to Amend 15-27-1 Sensitive Area Overlay Zone and Proposed Ordinance Adopting a new Section 15-13-33 (Slope Stability Studies Required,) I will go directly to public comments, with the ever present admonition that should there be misquotes or misspellings, corrections would be very appreciated.
Caril Jennings spoke first, stating that the foothills were our "Commons." The Commons, Jennings explained, is an English term for land that can be used as a gathering place by everyone forever, not just a select group of people whose homes may be near it. She urged the Commission to think about this regarding foothill development.
The next speaker discussed the consequences of amending the slope ordinance, and stated that we "should be very careful before we change the slope ordinances. He spoke of a system of terracing for runoff that has been "breached," making runoff a problem up there even now.
Sandy Davies asked--Why are we seeing these geological changes in the built up areas surrounding Ogden, mentioning the land slippage in Mountain Green and Heather Lane in Layton, the mudslide in South Weber that got into a home and injured a child, and the mudslides in Farmington Canyon. Davies also implied that we should be very careful about allowing Foothill Development.
Dan Schroeder spoke next, and handed copies of comments to both the Commissioners and Recorder, stressing the fact that the latest revision had not allowed him enough time to examine the document thoroughly. He then began to speak, but was stopped by the Chair before he had finished because his time was up.
Sandy Crosland: "We should not pretend that this is a zoning change in a vacuum. This is a zoning change to accommodate Chris Peterson's project.
Deb Badger mentioned a meeting in which Mr. Montgomery had stated something about the need to change slope ordinances for legal reasons. A former city attorney, Ms. Badger cited several cases in which slope ordinances were upheld, and also mentioned several Utah cities which currently have them in effect.
Jock Glidden referred the Commissioners to the environmental resources section in the general plan. "The proposal, I suggest, is out of order," he stated, saying instead that the Commissioners should wait for the results of the Mount Ogden neighborhood meetings. The proposed mixed use zone, he stated, "is ad hoc, arbitrary, and without guidance."
Matthew Mossbarger said that the proposed amendments seem to be a relaxation of the current rules instead of a tightening. He mentioned the removal in the proposed amendments of the need to do an economic feasibility study as well as the need to post a bond, and stated that we really need the feasibility study as well as financial protection if we as a city become involved in these developments.
Don Wilson: "I would remind you that Ogden City, WSU, and the City Council have waited very patiently for Mr. Peterson to give us something other than talk."
David Smith spoke of the General Plan and its provisions for preserving trails, views, and open space. "Taking that restriction off is not the direction the community wants to go, and it's not in the general plan."
Mary Hall stated that she was concerned with the transfer of development rights, and asked if the Commission could consider the MU Zone proposal another evening.
Theresa Holmes told the Commissioners that she had 3,000 signatures on a petition that stated that the undersigned did not want the foothill property sold. "Let's save what we have left, and not give it to Chris Peterson and his stupid proposal," she said.
The next speaker spoke of the problems associated with runoff in our foothills, and said, "I don't feel warm and fuzzy about anything I see here regarding water runoff. They have removed hydrology (entirely.)"
The next speaker stated that he was impressed with the civil tone of the meeting, considering this "shameless attempt to rape the foothills. I'd rather you just lift restrictions for him, dishonest as that may be," instead of passing these amendments so that the entire city would always have to comply with them.
Spencer Robinson stated that he had been at the meeting since 5 PM, and stated that there is more time that has to be invested in this decision. "This is bigger than the backside of a building," he said, referring to a discussion regarding the same earlier about one of the multi-family housing complexes.
Sharon Beech: "If we had a forensics team, we would see Mayor Godfrey's and Mr. Ellison's fingerprints all over this."
The next speaker said that no one has stepped forward stating that they don't like the present ordinance and saying why. He wished to know who decided that the present ordinance was a problem in the first place.
Bob Belka addressed a comment earlier in the meeting from one of the Commissioners, which was that they serve without compensation and are beholden to no one. "You are beholden to me," Mr. Belka said. "You are committed to that. Don't give away our mountain to a developer."
Brian Dorsey stated that one thing that had surprised him upon moving to Ogden was that there was no limit on Foothill Development.
Daniel Bedford referred to the spokesperson of Amer's statement that he believed that Ogden would be the next Boulder, Colorado, and reminded everyone that Boulder Colorado had a huge emphasis on preservation of open space and limitations on development over a certain elevation.
That was pretty much it for public comments. The rest you know from the news articles. The Commission decided to keep the public hearing open, even though Andrea Lockwood, one of the city attorneys, informed them that by law, they only needed one public hearing and this could satisfy that requirement.
There was another interesting thing involving Ms. Lockwood which I at first misinterpreted. At the end of the meeting, she was addressing the Commissioners and stated that one had given as a reason for denial of a permit that the neighbors didn't like the project. This, Ms. Lockwood said, was not good decision making in planning and zoning. It didn't matter whether the neighbors liked it or not.
This seemed so inflammatory that I discussed it in the hall later and was set straight. I was told that what Ms. Lockwood was stating was that, if a developer had complied with all existing ordinances and owned the property, the fact that the neighbors didn't want the development was not a legally sound reason to deny the developer a permit.
It was obvious to me that Commissioners Herman, Atencio, and Holman especially were actively taking their role on the Commission very seriously, and the Commission as a whole was quite receptive to the public comments, the Chair even saying that the evening had been quite an education for them. Commissioner Maw was emphatic about the need to do this right, and instrumental in moving the meeting to its conclusion. From attending this meeting, I think this is the fine line the Planning Commission has to walk--a balance between the way the public states it wants this city to go and the existing laws. And if a developer follows and complies with established ordinances, the law wins out and the developer gets the go-ahead.
Which is why these proposed changes are so important to us all.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Board regulars should feel free to offer your additional comments, assuming you're not already all "talked out." And for newcomers who weren't even aware of the occurrence of Wednesday's meeting until reading about it in the Std-Ex's Top of Utah page today, your comments would be most welcome too.
Several remarkable passages and quotes in this morning's edition caught our attention, and we'll highlight a pair of them, just to get the discussion going.
Apparently some commission members remain entirely oblivious to very existence of the "Peterson Landgrab Scheme," the matter that we lumpencitizens have jokingly taken to labeling the perpetual "elephant in the room."
Check out this reportorial "doozy," including an inexplicable quote from Planning Commissioner Maw:
Planning Commission members denied there is any connection between the two items and Peterson's proposal.We suppose we can fairly surmise from the above that Commissioner Maw doesn't get out much.
"No single developer has ever been discussed among us," Planning Commission member Carlin Maw said.
Further down the article, we stumble upon this marvellous interchange, wherein attorney Ellison neatly and cagily ducks reporter Schwebke's clear and pointed question:
Tom Ellison, a Salt Lake City attorney representing Peterson, attended Wednesday's public hearing. He didn't address the Planning Commission but appeared to take copious notes. Peterson wasn't present.Monitoring the process indeed. Mr. Ellison, it would appear, is accutely aware of the Peterson elephant, as was the long parade of articulate and public-minded citizens who kept the lights burning in the Emerald City council chambers unto the wee hours of Thursday morning. And q "little birdy" has told us that Mr. Ellison was actually heavily-involved in the drafting of the proposed planning and zoning revisions, notwithstanding his lawyerly effort to avoid the question.
Following the meeting, Ellison said he was there to monitor the "public process."
When asked if he or Peterson had any involvement in crafting the sensitive overlay zone and mixed-use zone proposals, Ellison said when Peterson presents a formal proposal for his project, the public will be certain it's from him. Ellison declined to speculate when that might be.
The Salt Lake Tribune's Kristen Moulton also provides her short write-up this morning, in which connection we thank gentle reader Dan S., who graciously provided the link.
In other news, there was no new information on the hereotfore lively Senate 18 race in this morning's Godfrey House Propaganda Organ (the Standard-Examiner,) thus ending a long string of pieces plainly designed to promote the candidacy of Evil NeoCON Senate Candidate Stuart Reid. Candidate Reid was of course again unavailable for comment.
Talk about whatever you want to talk about.
Consider this a Friday open thread, if you like.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Republican Jon Greiner has a big money lead on his Democratic opponent Stuart Reid in the race for the Utah Senate District 18 seat, according to state campaign finance reports.The article goes on to explain that candidate Greiner needed to kick in $20 thousand or so of his own money up front, in order to wage his primary campaign. Running against an incumbent is expensive in any campaign, of course, especially in an important district like Senate 18. Campaign donors don't just come flying out of the woodwork during primary campaigns. Donors are practical; they usually don't commit until the primary is over.
Greiner had raised $70,900 to Reid's $37,116, as of Tuesday, when a pre-election finance report was due from each candidate. The amount of money raised was unexpected, Greiner said in an e-mail Wednesday. "I was quite surprised at the number of people willing to donate to this campaign, mostly since the primary," he said.
And in truth, a successful intra-party challenger like Greiner actually conducts TWO separate campaigns -- the primary race -- and the general election campaign. A primary race requires double the number of signs, fliers, mailers and such. A race that features a primary is doubly expensive, both in hard dollars and shoe leather.
So if any of our gentle readers are feeling sorry for poor old Democratic candidate Stuart Reid, please don't waste any tears on us. Mr. Reid has plenty of dough in his campaign war-chest, and judging from his contributors list, there's lots more "funding" available, if he needs it.
In that connection, reporter Muhlstein makea a game attempt (within limited column space) to distinguish some of the supporters who've kicked in contributions. Whereas "man of the people" Reid is supported by the School Voucher People, Greiner draws support from public educators, for instance.
And whereas Greiner received a $2,500 campaign contribution from home-town outfits like the Mt. Ogden Surgical Center, Reid's support is quite different, as reporter Muhlsten reports with this zinger:
Reid received $5,000 from developer Dave Earnshaw and $2,500 from the Boyer Company, two entities working to develop the old Ogden City Mall site.Apparently there's at least one Std-Ex reporter who knows how to ask a follow-up question. The Std-Ex story goes on:
When asked if he felt obligated to developers who donate, Reid said he did not.We won't complain Reid didn't warn us; and despite his otherwise good reporting, reporter Muhlsten fails to report whether Reid's lips were actually moving, when he made the unbelievable above utterances.
"There is not much a state legislator can do for a developer other than
creating a better environment for business and development," he said.
Creating that type of environment is one of his goals, Reid said.
"It is one of the main reasons I am running," he said. [Emphasis added.]
Being the curious type, we navigated to the Utah State election site, in the hope of obtaining a more complete list of each candidate's campaign contributors. We think we struck paydirt. For the enlightenment of our gentle readers, we provide links to those lists here:
Kem Gardner, Sharifan Abdee, Wadman Corporation, Wells Fargo PAC and Zion's Bancorporation PAC. Candidate Reid, who resides in a rented apartment on Lincoln avenue, has committed a whopping $146 to this race which so deeply affects our community. Who knows, maybe that last $70 thousand check from his BDO "managership" hasn't cleared the bank yet.
Among the names appearing on Greiner's contributors list: Emerald City local hero, Curt Bramble, champion of last year's anti-eminent domain legislation crusade. And notably, Jon Greiner, at $20K+, is his own largest contributor, leaving little doubt about his personal commitment to our community..
Check out the lists. Draw your own conclusions. These lists tell all, we think. And the next time somebody suggests that it's Jon Greiner who's trying to buy this election, slap 'em upside the head.
Although we could go on and on, the floor is now open for your own comments.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
And for those of us who may from time-to-time entertain the notion that the Standard-Examiner is largely irrelevant to the political discussion in our community, take a gander at what just arrived in our email box, just a few short hours after the Std-Ex morning edition arrived on our front porch.
We present this morning for our gentle readers' attention our just-now html-converted version of the document we've all been waiting for-- straight from Mark Decaria's office -- and hot off our electronic presses:
Mark Decaria's 11/1/06 "Vangate" report.
We're posting this now, without our own analysis or editorial comment.
You can bet your boots though, that we'll be talking more about it later.
We won't ever again suggest that the Std-Ex lacks editorial juice.
And don't let the cat get your tongues...
First, Ace reporter Schwebke has finally caught wind of tonight's Emerald City Planning Commission meeting, in which major planning and zoning changes are being ram-rodded toward approval in obvious connection with the yet-un-proposed Peterson landgrab "proposal." We quote Ace reporter Schwebke's lead paragraphs from this morning's Std-Ex story, in pertinent part:
OGDEN — The Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing today on a pair of agenda items that could impact a multimillion dollar proposal for a resort at Malan’s Basin and other potential projects.As promised yesterday, we also provide here a link to a series of five dosuments, which have been obtained from the Planning Department, and uploaded to our storage site. We present these documents in raw form, without analysis, and presume that these are the latest versions, although we are aware that these documents were subject to franzied re-drafting until late yesterday afternoon. Those Emerald City Villagers planning to attend tonight's planning meeting, pitchforks and torches in hand, probably ought to at least familiarize themselves with these documents before tonight's fun begins.
One item calls for revisions to an ordinance that regulates development in the city’s geologically “sensitive area overlay zone” along Ogden’s east bench.
Another item deals with the creation of a new mixed-use overlay zone to stimulate and regulate innovative commercial and residential projects throughout the city.
In other news, the Standard-Examiner reports that Republican candidate Jon Greiner has now formally re-entered the Senate 18 race, as we've been predicting for almost a week here. Once again the citizens of Emerald City now have a home-boy alternative to the carpet-bagging Godfreyite mastermind Stuart Reid, Emerald City's foremost known carrier of the vile and virulent neoCON RDA disease.
As an added bonus, the Standard Examiner has uploaded Chief Greiner's responsive "letter brief," addressed to the Washington bureaucrat who attempted to decide this race unilaterally, from the plush comfort of her Washington, D.C. desk-chair. Our gentle readers may view that well-crafted document here. We congratulate Chief Greiner for carrying on the fight, compliment attorney Bradshaw for the fine research and writing, and thank the Std-Ex editors for posting Mr. Greiner's letter to its website -- at least.