Thursday, June 29, 2006
"Elite employees deserve elite paychecks." That, in a nutshell, is the constant mantra of Blessed Boss Godfrey. Well... it's constant, at least, on those occasions Boss G is called upon to defend the elite paychecks and perques of that cadre of top-brass executive fat-cats and do-nothings-in-suits about whom he fawningly refers as his "A" Team.
But when it comes to the employees that most Ogdenites would consider truly "elite," Boss Godfrey's mantra is plainly one far more often honored in the breach than in the observance. By this we refer to our uniformed public safety officers -- our rank-and-file police and firefighters. (You know -- the elite employees Boss Godfrey is screwing over at this very minute. )
Thanks to the Standard-Examiner, Ogden citizens read on Monday the unvarnished grievances of our police officer rank-and-file. Today, for added citizen dyspepsia, we get a similar lowdown on administration shenanigans from our beleaguered firefighters.
This morning's Kevin Hoffman guest editorial not only focuses on Ogden City's ham-handed mishandling of the firefighter salary negotiations, but also harshly illuminates the Machiavellian manner by which the administration allegedly attempted to engineer a firefighter endorsement for its Godfrey/Peterson "welfare-for-the-rich" landgrab. Firefighter Hoffman brings up a now familiar accusation, sticks to his guns, and certainly minces no words. What a pity it is that we'll never be able to put Boss Godfrey and his A-Team pals on a polygraph over this.
And what about our gentle readers? Who wouldn't like to see Boss Godfrey strapped to a lie detector for a couple of hours, and asked a whole series of questions?
Bring your own rubber hoses.
Don't let the cat get your tongues.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
By Dian Woodhouse
Sort of a mixed Council meeting tonight, with normal business being done and also a few surprises. All Council members were present except for Councilman Safsten, and Mayor Godfrey was also in attendance.
There was approval of Resolution 2006-20 "honoring Norman L. Ashton for 20 years of exemplary service as Ogden City Attorney and on his appointment to the Justice Court Bench." Councilwoman Wicks read the resolution, which tracked Mr. Ashton's career for 30 years, since 1986, and mentioned his service to the city as well as civic work. Mr. Ashton joked in his acceptance that "My children will have a smaller inheritance," since he envisioned the resolution on his tombstone. "I'll be still in the block, just in a new building," he said, and then went on to say that he probably shouldn't say he would see the Council in court. He ended by saying that Ogden City has a capable successor in Gary Williams.
Next Item was a report from Urban Forestry. Very active department that I hadn't known much about until now. What urban forestry does, among other things, is plant trees in Ogden City. The big statistics are: 32,000 street trees, 2,000 park trees, 132 different species in all. They have a partnership with Saint Joseph's Middle School for planting, and also a new one in 2006 with Dee Elementary. They have given away over 600 trees to the public free of charge. They have a pamphlet at the Standard Examiner Garden Show detailing their accomplishments of the last three years. They work with the media, trying for a story a week, and have a Master Gardener program, and study annexation issues very carefully to be sure that the annexed property meets their standards for Ogden City. Very impressive group indeed. Councilwoman Jeske thanked them "for making Ogden beautiful," and the Council moved to form a resolution approving their advisory committee, chaired by Barbara Bernstein, for the next three years.
Then were the reappointments to the Landmarks Commission, which passed by common consent. They were: Bernard Allen, Connie Cox, and Kathryn MacKay.
There was approval of the annexation by petition to Ogden City of 2.811 acres of of property located at the southeast corner of 750 North Washington Boulevard, and the petition will be sent to the City Recorder for certification.
Next, there was proposed Ordinance 2006-31 to amend the budget that was just accepted a few weeks ago. Evidently some property has been sold---the specific property was not mentioned in the discussion or the agenda--for the sum of $7,031,125. This proposed ordinance will add this sum to the budget, and it was adopted unanimously.
Then was adoption of proposed Resolution 2006-119 determining the general City Certified tax rate for fiscal Year 2006-2007.
Next, another budget amendment, moving $50,000 from the General Fund to technical support for the purpose of improving the sound equipment and recording facilities in the Council Chambers and work session room. In response to a question from Doug Stephens, it was stated that this change was actually a result of a legislative action requiring a certain standard.
Then there was a presentation by the Ogden City Fire Chief on proposed Ordinance 2006-41. This is the ordinance requiring that carbon monoxide detectors be installed in all residential occupancies by December 1, 2006. "My job is to put the Fire Department out of business," the fire chief said, going on to explain that he meant by this prevention of accidents and fatalities. There was discussion about how this, on one level, would be interpreted as too much governmental intrusion into people's lives, but it was smoothed over, sort of, by the fact that the ordinance would be enforced first by a warning. Installation of these in rented properties would be the responsibility of the landlord, and the fire department advocates battery powered ones instead of hard wired ones. Also, they will try to get a certain amount of them to give to low income people.
Oddly enough, two members of the Council had had first hand experience with carbon monoxide problems in their homes. Councilwoman Wicks said that she had had three friends die this spring, one of cancer, one in an avalanche, and one from carbon monoxide poisoning. Councilwoman Jeske has had a detector in her home, also having had someone she knew die from this, and it had alerted them to potentially dangerous situations. She asked how many people in the room already had them, and about three quarters of the room raised their hands. Jeske said she hoped that the passing of this ordinance would not be interpreted as a sign of intrusion by the local government, but as a sign that they care about the citizenry. The ordinance was tabled, and reschduled for an upcoming work session, for the purpose of discussing appropriate civil penalties.
Public comments were next. Troy Arrowsmith, from the Ogden Police Benefit Association addressed the council, bringing up many of the points addressed in his opinion piece in the June 27th edition of the Standard Examiner, that the Ogden City Police had been treated unfairly, and that he asked that employee negotiations be reopened.
Chris Peterson then spoke, stating that he was here tonight to attempt to "kick off" the development process. He stated that he was in the middle of a very detailed proposal, and needed a gesture of good faith from Ogden City in order to continue with the process. He would have to spend about $100,000, and getting the proposal together would take several more weeks, "maybe four or five, but I need good faith from you in order to take that next step."
Then came the Ogden City police men and women. They were articulate, eloquent, and sincere. The theme was the same--that they were not being treated fairly, and that they wished the city to re-open the negotiations. One policewoman stated that she was an eleven year veteran and took home $2,200 a month. She had always worked other jobs, pulled overtime, done whatever it took to be able to support herself and her family. She mentioned that most homes had two working adults, but hers did not, and that all the police wanted was to be able to pay their bills and support their families. She stated that the breakdown in negotiations was the city's fault, since it would not negotiate but kept repeating the same offer, and ended by saying, "Please reconsider. It's only fair."
A policeman mentioned what he termed "a disconnect," comparing the fact that the city had shown itself to be highly interested in Peterson's development proposal, and yet did not wish to pay public safety a decent wage.
During these comments, one policeman questioned the integrity of the administration. This led to a speech by Mayor Godfrey after the comments closed, in which he stated that he was an individual of the utmost integrity. "My integrity is... higher than anybody's in this room," he stated, and then went on to say that his staff is also honest and has "absolute integrity." He ended by inviting those present on the police force to discuss this issue with him after the meeting.
They did. The discussion took place in one area of the council chambers after the council had gone into closed executive session, "for the purpose of discussing pending or reasonably imminent litigation." The rest of us there gave them their privacy.
Before the meeting closed, Councilwoman Jeske stated that she hoped a negotiating system could be worked out "that would be satisfactory to all of us."
Brandon Stephenson also spoke to the police issue, stating that there had been long discussions over the course of the budget because they had limited resources. He also said that he thought it was important to state that although a Cost Of Living Allowance, (COLA) would have been preferable, in that contributions were made to the state retirement fund, etc., in order to do this, the Council would have had to have "ongoing funds" at its disposal. What it had were one time funds, and this is why it offered a bonus instead of a COLA.
Editorial comment: Something wrong with that picture. I have just finished stating that the city just amended the budget for this $7 million cash infusion from a property sale. It also amended the budget to take $50,000 out of the general fund to work on its sound system. This business about needing ongoing funds, if correct, is really not too reasonable, as it seems, from what I have just written, that it is possible to get money for things when needed, and it is possible to sell property and get money there, and furthermore, there are always ongoing funds from tax dollars and fees. I really don't understand that reasoning at all.
Update 6/28/06 8:14 a.m. MT: Standard-Examiner Ace Reporter Scott Schwebke's story on last night's council meeting is now available online, and can be viewed via this link.
Also, many of us who were in attendance were delighted to meet and greet Salt Lake Tribune reporter Cathy McKittrick (formerly of the Std-Ex,) as she appeared in the council chambers to cover last night's council event (filling in for Kristen Moulton who normally covers the "Ogden beat.") She was always a local favorite when she was covering Ogden politics for the Std-Ex. And judging from last night's "fond reunion," it's obvious that she still has a local fan club. So as an added bonus to Dian's report, we're linking to her article, which was printed in this morning's SLTrib edition.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
It's been nearly a year since we warned about Boss Godfrey's new scheme to generate massive city revenue by wringing-out "fines" from Ogden citizens, through Boss Godfrey's new Ogden Justice Court. "The new court will be a cash cow", neoCon City Administrator Mark Johnson gleefully exclaimed, during a Salt Lake Tribune interview last year.
Well, the newly-remodeled court is almost ready for business, as the Standard-Examiner reported last week. All that that's needed now is a steady stream of hapless citizens to be processed through the court turnstiles, unceremoniously relieved of their cash, and released out the back door, with a kick in the butt and a cheery "Thanks for doing business with Ogden City... do come back again!"
And the other necessary component of this grand revenue-raising scheme is also near-complete. In order to generate the projected massive revenue, Boss Godfrey has concocted a truly evil scheme to keep the court's massive numbers of court "customers" coming back. He's already doubled the number of "traffic officers," as this morning's Troy Arrowsmith guest editorial reports, and instituted a salary-tied citation quota system. And he intends to increase the citation quotas even more in the future. Business will truly be booming in the new Ogden Justice Court, we think.
OPBA president Arrowsmith cuts to the chase and identifies the core problem, in a few short paragraphs:
In 2005, Ogden officers had to write in excess of 20,000 citations just to get their wages to feed their family. This means that every man, woman and child who are Ogden citizens will receive a citation, at a minimum, every few years.And Officer Arrowsmith doesn't slow down or mince words in his concluding paragraph:
Are your elected city officials representing your views on this? Is this fair to you? Why are they trying to raise funds in such an underhanded way? Your elected officials are using the police department as a revenue generating machine instead of the job we were sworn to do: public safety.
Are your elected officials truly serving you by forcing officers to watch a stop sign in hopes that they reach their ticket quota and get a raise? We feel that as police officers we swore an oath to protect and serve the citizens of Ogden. We feel that this not only means that we protect you against criminals, but in rare occasions such as this, we must protect you against your elected officials. We need your help, and ask that you call Mayor Godfrey and your City Council members and let them know that you support your police officers in this endeavor. [Emphasis added.]And what say our gentle readers about all this? Will we sit back and dawdle, while Ogden's Finest are morphed by Boss Godfrey into a motley pack of collection agents with badges? Will we tolerate our great City's continued path toward having the lowest-paid police force in the west? Sending your email protests to the Ogden City Council would be a good start, for those gentle readers who don't relish these prospects. And showing up to offer your support for our police officers at tonight's council meeting (where OPBA representatives will again petition the council for a re-visit of the salary issue) wouldn't be a bad idea either.
What are our gentle readers thoughts on this issue?
Sunday, June 25, 2006
There's an interesting article in yesterday's SE -- Page one:
SENATOR TACKLES MUNICIPALITIES' TRYING TO SWAY VOTES.
This article deals with a BALLOT initiative in which public money has been used to try to sway voter opinion.
"Voters in five southern Davis County cities narrowly approved creating the district by fewer than 300 votes. Opponents of the district and its $18 million bond for a NEW RECREATION CENTER contend that the election was improperly swayed by literature distributed in a Bountiful city newsletter".
Sen. Stephenson, R..Draper (email@example.com) has asked the attorney general's office to review the matter. A new team of attorneys is currently looking at the complaint.....
I find this interesting, indeed. This rec center was put to a vote! Ours, of course, wasn't. We all know that sordid story of alleged misuse of public monies, improper use of city employees, mayor and family, etc.
So, we've been bonded without a vote. Now, comes the gondola scheme.
Many of us... IF the council and planning commission sell us out, literally, want a vote.
Sen Stepenson 'is envisioning creating stiffer penalties for cities that use public money to try to sway voter opinion on ballot initiatives."
No wonder Godfrey is so afraid of a ballot initiative for his legacy. He's been using public money all along to push this scheme and pimp for Peterson.
A gondola movie at the 'family night' movie for a captive audience at the ampitheatre. Enclosures in utility bills! Trip to Europe and being courted by the gondola makers. Trip to Vegas with Geiger to show off the new 'ski hub' Ogden in a video.....gondola car and video at the Newgate Mall, still spouting the lies that everyone but the LO's now know are lies.
Curt Geiger told my husband that HE paid for the gondola car to be put at Newgate. HE paid the rent there. HE paid for the brochures THAT WERE DISPLAYED ON THE TABLE OUTSIDE COUNCIL CHAMBER DOORS, til I complained! On and on and on....
IF this scheme goes thru as "OlD TIMER" portends because Godfrey is now trolling the council (individually...does he never learn?), to stack the planning commission with his patsys so the general plan can be amended and we are sold down the river.
We must call for a ballot initiative and encourage Sen Stephenson to push through stiffer legislation against moral bullies like Godfrey.
Another reason to retain Sen Dave Thomas! Oy vey, what would Greiner do????
Comments, gentle readers????
Friday, June 23, 2006
If you haven't been pulled over and ticketed in Ogden today because of your bad driving... There may be a reason...
Chief Jon J. Greiner
2186 Lincoln Avenue, Ogden, UT 84401
801-629-8221 FAX 801-629-8086
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Subject: Police Department Work Action (“Blue Flu”)
Due to perceived inequities in wage negotiations between the Ogden Police Benefit Association and the Ogden City Administration, along with the Ogden City Council, most of the rank and file officers of the Ogden Police Department due to report for duty today have called in sick. It is believed that this organized effort will carry through the weekend and that there will be a significant reduction of available field officers throughout that time.
All available staff officers, of the rank of Lieutenant and above, have reported for duty and will work extended shifts. Also, several surrounding agencies have agreed to send officers from their agencies into Ogden to handle calls for police service. The Ogden Police Department has an excellent working relationship with sister agencies in Weber County and is very appreciative of their willingness to assist.
The citizens of Ogden should be advised that there is no disruption to the safety levels provided them. However, some of the lower priority calls for service may not receive service or may have to wait until later in the coming week. Also, some of the calls will be handled by officers in the uniform of a neighboring jurisdiction. The Police Department apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause. Any call for service involving physical risk to life and/or safety will still receive the prompt service that the Ogden Police Department has always provided. Please bear with us as we work to get through this situation.
Our insiders indicate that a total of four (4) rank-and-file police officers mysteriously showed up for their shift(s) today notwithstanding the obvious virulent virus.
We understand that Chief Greiner will be out in a patrol-car tonight, writing up his "fair-share" ticket quota.
Comments are welcome as always.
Update 6/25/06 12:26 p.m. MT: This morning's Salt Lake Tribune story reports, among other things, that the inevitable backwash from the Ogden council's salary issue inaction has already begun:
Sgt. Troy Arrowsmith, president of the Ogden Police Benefit Association, said, although the department managed OK, that might not be the case in days to come. Six to 12 officers have interviewed with other law enforcement agencies, signaling more serious side effects of the so-called blue flu.The predictable exodus of Ogden's Finest thus begins. Time will tell whether our city administration and council have been penny wise and pound foolish with respect to public safety salary negotiations.
"Most of it is they can only put in so many years without being satisfactorily compensated for their time here," he said.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
The Standard-Examiner editorial today appears to me to be pro gondola while making a feeble attempt at neutrality on the subject.
Soft pedaling a lack of information under the guise of a 'complicated' plan is nonsense.
Also, Schwebke's article on SGO is just downright awful! He made a few points abut SGO wanting answers and then dragged out the same propaganda that Peterson and Godfrey are still spouting: $20,000,000. for the downtown leg, WSU's land (as if this is a done deal), millions to the schools, millions in tax revenue, ad nauseum.
Schwebke appears to be incapable of writing an in-depth article that HE may have researched!
What happened to John Wright? How about hiring Dian? Now, THERE is a writer! And, she knows how to research!
The above article is another reader post, pulled up from the dark recesses of one of our Weber County Forum comments sections, and displayed on the front page to launch today's forum discussion.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
When Will Lift Ogden Shut Up?
By Dian Woodhouse
Outside the municipal building before tonight's council meeting was a Lift Ogden Rally. There were Lift Ogden signs, and T shirts, and small signs, about four by eight inches, with a stick about six inches long attached to them that one could wave. These small signs had the Lift Ogden name and the name of the individual supporter printed at the bottom.
At about ten minutes of six, rock music was playing, (I think it was Twist and Shout.) I thought the crowd was a bit over three hundred at that time. A policeman who had been through the whole thing estimated peak attendance at five hundred. Another individual with experience of crowd numbers weighed in at four hundred. There had been speakers. Many of these people from the rally then went into the council chambers, signs and all. In fact, there were about six or seven personalized small signs on the agenda table outside waiting for their owners to claim them.
The Council meeting began as usual. All Council members were present. Mayor Godfrey was absent. For a rough overview of this, which I can enlarge later if people want specifics, Scout Matthew Hills from Troop 4 led the Pledge of Allegiance. Councilwoman Jeske read a speech honoring Jody Stark, Miss Rodeo Ogden, and then Councilman Doug Stephens spoke honoring Coach Hislop and the WSU Track and Field Team.
There was a public hearing on the rezoning of 916 7th Street from CP-1 to C-2 presented by Greg Montgomery of Ogden City Planning. It passed. There was an ordinance adopted concerning the terms of the Crossroads of the West Committee. The ordinance limiting the amount of unrelated adults living in one dwelling also passed, but on this one there was some dissent.
At this point, the council was supposed to move into closed executive session to discuss employee negotiations. This was, of course, having to do with the police and firefighter contracts, and I believe discussion on this was to be reopened at this time in that closed session. However, Councilman Safsten made a motion to move the agenda, putting the public comment session next instead of the closed exec session, and it passed, and supporters of the gondola began to approach the microphone.
There were over thirty of them. Comments like the gondola/resort being comparable to the coming of the railroad to Ogden, the investment of the half a billion dollars, the need for jobs in Ogden, all that we've heard before. But underlying this, one began to detect a theme. That theme was: Take the next step.
The Ogden City Council was being urged by Lift Ogden to take the next step in the project, and from what was said, I believe that the next step referred to was the signing of a development agreement between the Council and Chris Peterson. People who spoke in favor of taking the next step also represented, or said they represented, various organizations. "I speak on behalf of all small businesses," one woman said. One man spoke for the Hispanic business community. Another for hotel and motel owners. The Bank of Utah. The Board of Realtors.
They all spoke of "taking the gondola to the top of the mountain." Of an infusion of money into schools, sewers, and city coffers. The project, it was said, would enhance the reputation of WSU. It would create jobs for those who currently don't have them. It was a half billion dollar investment in Ogden. Property values would appreciate.
There were also comments regarding the negative effect upon Ogden that would occur if the Council did not take this "next step." "The longer you wait, the more it's going to cost," one person said. Another suggested that if Council Members did not vote yes, they should abstain from voting, otherwise they would "kill hope." Yet another stated that if he were Chris Peterson, and people were wanting to keep the trails across his property and did not want him to develop it, he would put a fence up and not let anyone on them.
Near the end, Chris Peterson spoke. He addressed none of these things. Instead, he told the Council that "If you take this project to the next step, I will work diligently....work with you.....flesh out the details." He mentioned the fact that there were "good, well-meaning people" on both sides of the issue.
There were only a few who spoke against the project. One submitted a letter to the council, and she was gracious enough to give me a copy. I will quote part of it here:
"...My family and friends were under the impression that we would be watching Karate Kid at the opening of the Monday night movies at the Ogden Amphitheater. Eventually, we did get to view the film, but not before LiftOgden forced its captive audience to endure a presentation on the alleged benefits of the proposed Gondola/resort development. To give themselves some additional cachet, LiftOgden recruited a lead cast member of the film, who was introduced by a supposed Hollywood producer. The actor, who played the evil sensei in the film, had the audacity to voice his opinion regarding the gondola, after informing the audience he had been in Ogden for only a few hours. Following this rallying cry was some propaganda footage starring the usual suspects, namely, the honorable mayor Godfrey and developer Mr. Peterson.
I find the co-opting of this family friendly event--with hundreds of unsuspecting and defenseless spectators in attendance--shameful on the part of the LiftOgden interest group, to say the least. I am equally disturbed that such a flagrant abuse of power, and along with it the exercise of subversive public information campaigning, appears to have the blessings of the Ogden City administration. I sincerely hope that the staging of such one-sided events in a public arena, where the intent is to enjoy a movie, not to be manipulated, end immediately. Surely, a film screening that is in the spirit of a family friendly event, with numerous small children in attendance, should not end at close to midnight on a work night."
Throughout these speeches, the reps for the police and firefighters waited patiently. The Council then retreated to Closed Executive Session to discuss the employee negotiations. I assume they eventually came out and announced a decision but I didn't hear it. It was quite late by then.
I heard later that a previous council might have approved a process regarding development agreements which involves steps a developer must take and information he or she must provide in order to get such an agreement even on the table. However, the current council has already hammered out a process, and perhaps that process must be undergone before this "next step" is taken. If there is such a process, it should be found and looked at.
I took extensive notes on this meeting and can answer questions or do another, more detailed piece if there is interest. But mainly, that was what happened, and "the next step" is the next big push.
And regarding police and fire, I for one applaud the city council re-opening that door. That, in my opinion, was a good step to take.
Ed. Note: Dian wrote the article; your incensed blogmeister came up with the title(s.) The sheer audacity and tackiness of these Lift Ogden folks boggles the imagination.
1/4-page ads running in the Standard-Examiner all week at no small expense to somebody, and with "invitations" rolling out to the entire Chamber of Commerce -- and MANY others -- and all the support they could raise was four or five-hundred warm bodies or so at the high-point of the event -- including bystanders who may have wandered into the event to listen to the Rock Band?
Meanwhile, our cops and firefighters cool their heels again, listening to mind-numbed gondola cultists who can't even tell you how much money Chris Peterson is willing to offer for our irreplaceable and treasured parkland.
Comments are invited from other gentle readers who may have attended this ridiculous "pep-rally." Comments are also welcome, of course, from those who didn't.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Although we would have nothing in particular against Chief Greiner's candidacy if he were not running against a Republican incumbent, we are convinced that Senator Thomas has done a yeoman's job during his tenure, and that there is therfore no arguable reason that he should be replaced. Greiner's public explanation of his rationale in entering the race, urging the "changing of horses in midstream," is less than convincing, from our point of view. Not only that, we believe Weber County Republicans have a significant investment in our hard-working Republican incumbent, whom we believe to have performed with remarkable excellence, during his tenure in his state senate office.
We are therefore strongly endorsing Dave Thomas, for a reprise in Senate District 18.
Dave Thomas knocked off our old Lift Ogden Friend, then-incumbent democratic Senator Ed Allen four years ago, bringing this seat back to Republican hands. Since 2003, he has worked to protect consumers, ensure that there is equity in transportation dollars spent in Weber and Davis counties, and led the fight to guarantee local control of local decision-making in our cities, counties, and school districts.
Sen. Thomas sponsored Utah's Do Not Call List to ensure that unwanted telemarketers could no longer invade your privacy without your permission. He authored the Unified Fire Authority which allows the consolidation of fire services to bring better economies of scale to fire protection. He is also the author of Utah's Religious Land Use Act, which prohibits discrimination against churches. He was one of the forces behind the Legacy Highway settlement and obtaining $51,000,000 in transportation dollars this session to finish widening I-15 in Weber county. It was Sen. Thomas who obtained a commitment from the Huntsman Administration that Weber and Davis counties would be treated fairly in the distribution of Centennial Highway Fund dollars in the future. And it was Sen Thomas who led the fight for Jail Funding Reform in the State.
As the Chair of the Judiciary Interim Committee he is also the leader of the tort reform movement in the State, which has as its goal reducing insurance premiums and health care costs. Recently, it was Sen. Thomas as the Chair of the Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee who obtained pay raises for our highway patrolmen and corrections officers, as well as additional monies to open up the new POST training facility for law enforcement throughout the State.
Sen. Thomas received the Utah Sheriff's Associations Executive Directors Award for 2005, was named a Guardian of Small Business in 2004, and was just recently named by the Utah Taxpayers Association as "Friend of the Taxpayer" for 2006.
Sen Thomas believes that the issues facing District 18 center around transportation, tax reform, immigration, and education. He is committed to ensuring that monies are appropriated to the Centennial Highway Fund projects for Weber and Davis counties. As can be seen from his past record, he can make it happen. He remains committed to reducing taxes where ever possible. He has supported reducing the State Income Tax from 7% to 5% and using the surplus to fund the reduction. He opposes amnesty for illegal aliens and has suggested that one way to recover the costs of illegal immigration is to impose a 6% surcharge on money wires to other countries, since this is the primary way illegal aliens send money home. That surcharge can then go to the Uniform School Fund to reduce the costs on our schools. With regard to education, he has led the fight against the one-size-fits-all philosophy of the federal government and believes No Child Left Behind has been implemented in contravention of States' rights. He remains committed to merit pay for teachers, which has drawn the ire and some negative campaigning by the UEA. Since 2003, Sen. Thomas has voted to increase funding for public education by over $660,000,000. He is a true friend to educators, but probably not to the UEA.
Sen. Thomas is a self-described fiscal and social conservative, and that is the way his voting record shows him to be.
Perhaps Chief Greiner's own elective political time will come. What's needed now, we think, is proven performance -- and not mere promises.
We urge Weber County Republicans, and ALL District 18 Republicans, to vote for Incumbent Senator Dave Thomas on June 27.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Pay no attention to polls nor campaign signs and especially NOT letters to the editor.
Fact 1. Early May, 2006 - Dave Hardman of the Chamber of Commerce meets with the Board of Ogden Golf and County Club (OGCC) to give a sales pitch for the proposed gondola project.
Fact 2. May 31, 2006 - Katie Berrett of Pinnacle Marketing calls Clay Thomas, President of the Ogden Golf and Country Club, several times to persuade him to endorse the gondola project.
Fact 3. June 5, 2006 - Katie Berrett issues a Press Release stating that the Board of Directors of Ogden Golf and Country Club officially released a statement supporting the development of the proposed Malan’s Basin Development.
Fact 4. June 6, 2006 - OGCC member Jim Briley receives a copy by e-mail of the Pinnacle Press Release with an OGCC letter dated May 31 attached.
Fact 5. June 7, 2006 - OGCC member Briley confronts club manager and Board President Clay Thomas as to this endorsement by the Board when no member was aware of the endorsement and was never polled on the membership support for such an endorsement.
Fact 6. OGCC member Briley learns that Clay Thomas had never seen the letter after it was written either. It had gone out on a piece of paper with the OGCC logo at the top and had been written by the club manager.
Fact 7. OGCC member Briley asks that the Board rescind the letter of endorsement and endorse the gondola as individuals and not for the OGCC membership as the membership is divided on the gondola issue.
Fact 8. June 19, 2006 - Standard-Examiner Letters to the Editor publishes a letter from Katie Berrett entitled "Signs of support appear in Ogden", which includes this statement:
The Ogden Golf and Country Club came out with a statement recognizing it as the “most significant economic development opportunity for our community in the last century”.
Fact 9: June 19, 2006 - When Katie Berrett is challenged on her statement which implies that all OGCC members endorse the goldola she agrees to submit a correction to her letter to the Standard-Examiner.
“You can fool all the people all of the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough”
-Hollywood Producer Joseph E. Levine, quoted in the London Daily Express
Update 6/20/06 12:22 p.m. MT:We have received by email this morning a pdf copy of the 5/31/06 OGCC letter in Mr. Briley's "Fact 4" paragraph above. We have converted that file to html, and embedded a link in the original text above. Curiously, the copy of the letter that we received bears no signature.
We're posting a link below, for our gentle readers' edification, without editorial comment.
Readers who are desirous of learning a little more about Earl Holding's son-in law can double-up their Chris Peterson information-base by reading Ms. Moulton's most revealing article here.
Comments are invited as always.
Deprived readers in outlying provinces who do not have access a hard-copy version of this morning's Standard-Examiner can find all the latest rantings here, here, here here, here and here.
Actually, some of this material is very good. For those who sometimes accuse the local townsfolk of being apathetic or dull-witted, today's expanded Std-Ex letters section should easily put that accusation to rest.
For the purpose of getting today's discussion going however, we are singling out this Jeanette Ballantyne letter, which discusses a thorny issue we've been pondering lately:
We have no right to 'confiscate' Trails
As someone who has more than a passing acquaintance with the American Law of Real Property, your always-humble blogmeister will venture the opinion that advocates of the view that the general public has an enforcible public easement burdening the privately-owned property east of Mt. Ogden Park have a very solid case.
The pertinent question though, involves the ethics and morality of asserting such a percipient right. Ms. Ballantyne gets a WCF "tip of the hat" for illuminating this thorny issue.
And what say our gentle readers? Should members of the Ogden body politic actively assert their possible prescriptive rights ? Is it OK to do so, because it may be "technically lawful?"
The floor is now open, gentle readers. Let us hear your always wise opinions on this.
You need not feel hemmed in by this issue, by the way. Please feel free to comment on any of the above-cited letters.
Who will be the first to comment?
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Among the links we have added to date are the following:
- A complete roster of all 2006 candidates
(with weblinks where available)
- The Weber County Clerk's website candidate information
- Recent election-related news articles
In this connection, our gentle readers should be reminded that four elective offices which will apear on Weber County ballots in November remain subject to a June 27, 2006 Primary Runoff.
Unlike the recent Municipal elections, Weber County Forum is endorsing three Republican candidates in the primary elections. For the time being, we have placed the "lawn signs" for each of these candidates prominently in the WCF sidebar. During the week or so, we intend to post articles explaining in detail why we have elected to endorse these candidates.
Whether we will endorse candidates for the November elections is doubtful. As to the June 27 primaries, however, we believe there are very clear-cut choices in the races for Senate District 18, House District 10, and Weber County Commission Seat A. In these three instances, we believe the Republican primary race presents an opportunity to reject proponents of BIG GOVERNMENT -- and to elect candidates who support the political values that we incessantly promote here at Weber County Forum, namely:
- Small, frugal, open government
- Non-intervention in traditionally-private matters
- Jealous regard for fundamental citizen rights
Incidentally, Weber County Forum hereby issues an invitation to ALL candidates whose names will appear on 2006 Weber County ballots to directly submit your weblinks via email. If any candidate has a web presence, we'll be sure to add his or her links to our candidate roster.
We're also open to suggestions from out gentle readers. What information would you like to see added to our election capsule?
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Reporting accurately is a difficult, but not impossible job. And an independent newspaper with a commitment to ferreting out the facts about major community issues and reporting them fairly, honestly and, when need be, fearlessly, is an asset to any city that should be highly prized. It is an asset that, sadly, Ogden seems just now not to possess.
Being as I am a faithful subscriber to the SE and a daily reader, I say this with some sadness. There is much evidence that it is true, and this morning's paper contains two good examples.
First, there is Ms.Rebecca Palmer's story on the recent Mt. Ogden Community meetings the Planning commission held at Wasatch Elementary as the first step towards drawing up a Mt. Ogden Community Plan. It is a prime example of the kind of "he said/she said" reporting to which the SE is apparently [and sadly] addicted.
He said/she said reporting works like this: say there is a public meeting held regarding some controversial project. Nine people speak against the proposal and one speaks in favor. If you have the subsequent story saying "Residents divide on plan" and quoting the one speaker who spoke for it and one of the nine who spoke against, and mentioning nowhere that public comment was overwhelmingly against the proposal, you have the SE "he said/she said" style of reporting in a nut shell.
Ms. Palmer's story is a prime example. I attended the second night of the Mt. Ogden community meeting, both the general session and three of the four break out sessions. Comments from residents that dealt in any way with the Peterson proposal or its consequences ran at least nine to one against the proposal. In the three breakout sessions I took part in, no one spoke in favor of the Peterson proposals. No one. All who did speak to it, spoke against.
I did not attend the Tuesday meeting, but I've spoken to several people who did, and they report as well that those who spoke about the proposal and its consequences far outnumbered the few who spoke in favor.
And how did the SE report this? This way:
"I propose selling the golf course," said Ken Burton, a businessman who has lived in the Mount Ogden neighborhood for more than 50 years. "Our tax base in Ogden is eroding ... I just think we need to increase the tax base."The first person actually quoted favored the Peterson proposal. Then one quoted in opposition. Any indication at all in the story that the overwhelming majority of comments was opposed? No. One quote for, one against. I have no doubt that Ms. Palmer considers this "balanced reporting." It is not. It is biased reporting. It gives the impression that commentary at the meeting on the issue being discussed was fairly evenly divided. It was not. But you won't learn that from the SE story.
Other residents said they wanted to keep the neighborhood just as it is now.
"As far as what I want to see in 20 years, I've lived here for 20 years," said neighborhood resident Chris Bentley. "I run these trails every morning ... I would like to see it stay pretty much the same."
The SE has another story about the gondola/Peterson proposal today as well, one by Mr. Scott Schwebke. But strangely enough, in that story, the "he said/she said" approach Ms. Palmer so sadly illustrated in her story is dropped in favor of reporting only the Mayor's version of what happened and why.
The story is headlined Godfrey Talks With UTA About Gondola. That, of course, is not the story, as the first paragraph makes clear: "OGDEN Mayor Matthew Godfrey says he has dropped a request for $8 million from the Utah Transit Authority to help fund a gondola system that would extend from downtown to Weber State University." The lead at least got it right: the Mayor has dropped his attempts to get UTA to kick in $8 million of public transit funds to help build the downtown leg of the gondola.
An interesting story, to be sure. Why, a reader might wonder, did he drop his attempt to get UTA to contribute millions? The story goes on to discuss a letter sent by Mr. John Inglish, UTA General Manager, to Mayor Godfrey in April, responding to his request. Here's what(in part) the letter said:
So far so good. Then the story quotes Mayor Godfrey, explaining why he dropped the request for UTA money:
Inglish said in the letter that before he could make a recommendation to the trustees he would have to be assured the gondola funds would be used for public transportation.
There would also have to be a consensus among local elected officials that the gondola project should be funded with public transit money that accrues to Weber County, Inglish stated.
In addition, an analysis of potential risks associated with the project must also be completed, he said.
Some potential risks include construction cost overruns, insufficient operating revenue, the failure of private development to occur, difficulty in obtaining environmental permits, and public opposition, Inglish said. Other possible difficulties may include gaining permission from the Utah Department of Transportation to use Harrison Boulevard as a route for the gondola, Weber State University's acceptance of a lift station on campus, and acquisition of right-of-way easements on federal property.
OK, fair enough. The Mayor is certainly entitled to have the paper report his explanation. However, might there be another explanation of his action? There are people in Ogden who believe the Peterson proposal and gondola projects are unwise. One might think the SE, which seems to be so enamored of the "he said/she said" style of reporting would interview some of them to see if, perhaps, there was another explanation for the Mayor's dropping his pitch for UTA money.
Godfrey said the $8 million originally requested from UTA is no longer needed, due to a proposal from developer Chris Peterson that would provide sufficient capital for the project.
Peterson proposes to buy Mount Ogden Golf Course from the city, redesign it, purchase about 150 adjoining acres from Weber State University and put upscale homes on some of the combined land.
Peterson also wants to purchase some additional city property adjoining the golf course and proposes to extend the gondola from Weber State University to his proposed resort at Malan's Basin and possibly farther up Mount Ogden.
The sale of Mount Ogden Golf Course and the adjoining property would be used by the city to fund its leg of the gondola, Godfrey said.
Turns out, there is. It seems [as Mr. Schwebke reported] that the UTA would require of the Mayor and Mr. Peterson precisely the kind of feasibility studies that any prudent commercial lender [like a bank or pension fund] would require before underwriting a project of this magnitude. Mr. Inglish seems to be a prudent manager of his agency's resources. Could it be that neither the Mayor nor Mr. Peterson can offer any evidence suggesting that the gondola/Malan's Basin developments are economically feasible, that they have a reasonable [much less good] chance of succeeding? Could it be that he withdrew his request for UTA money for that reason? Might it have been prudent of the SE to have interviewed someone with a different view than the Mayor on this for the story? Apparently, the SE thought not.
For this story, the SE seems to have suspended the "he said/she said" style so prominent in so many of its other gondola stories. As I said, it's not a particularly good style of reporting anyway, but if the SE insists on following it, it should do so consistently, and not apply it to the Mt. Ogden Community meetings story in such a way as to minimize the overwhelming majority of views opposing the Peterson development expressed there, and then turn around and permit Mayor Godfrey's self-serving explanation of his dropping the request to UTA for funds to stand un-challenged in that story. I don't think I'm the only one who suspects a double standard is at work here. And, on the evidence, I don't think that suspicion is wholly unfounded.
For example, a reporter interested in actually doing some digging might have asked himself this: The Mayor says he dropped the request because the Peterson proposal made it unnecessary. Well, when was it that the Mayor made his pitch to UTA? What date? [The story doesn't say.] And when did Mr. Peterson make his proposal to buy Mt. Ogden park lands so the city could use the money to build the gondola? Did the Mayor perchance make his pitch to UTA after Mr. Peterson made his proposal [which if so would render the Mayor's explanation of why he dropped the proposal nonsensical].
I don't know the answer to that question. But having read the SE story, I should know the answer. Maybe the answer will be consistent with the Mayor's explanation of his actions. Maybe it won't. The point is, the SE seems not to have asked.
The kind of "he said/she said" journalism in the Palmer story this morning, and the kind of non-probing "accept the statement unchecked" journalism in the Schwebke story this morning are not what make for great reporting and great city newspapers.
Or even good ones.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Have at it, gentle readers. What is on your gentle minds today?
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
I attended about half of the city council meeting and then the Mount Ogden Neighborhood meeting because they were cross-scheduled. All Council members were present except for Bill Glasmann. The budget was approved, with the City Council showing an admirable concern for the nuts and bolts of running a city. Infrastructure, in a word, and concern for the citizenry, too. For instance, in the Standard Examiner a few days ago we saw an article that the administration was proposing a 13.34% increase in our water rates. The Council approved a 3.4% increase, and wants to appoint a committee to look into rates and solutions. It is said that we citizens are not paying for all the water we use, and our water use is being heavily subsidized by the city. But of course, the hows and wherefores of all this have to be looked into, and until it is, no large increase will happen.
Council Executive Director Bill Cook made the budget presentation, and there have been some interesting changes. First, as things now stand and have stood, we have been putting some of the lease revenue we receive from BDO back into BDO as per our agreement with the military. As of October, 2006, this arrangement will end, and we will then receive All of the lease money from BDO, which brings us an infusion of New Money. The council put this new money toward capital improvements. Not development.
(This brings up an interesting question, which might illustrate my own confusion on this more than anything, but the question is---We delegated 50% of BDO lease revenue to pay our mall bonds back during the rec center days. Is that figure now 50% of the total we will be getting in October, when we begin getting all the revenue, or the same monetary figure as it was when delegated, which would actually be 25% of the future total?)
Whatever the answer to that one, it was stated that we will have $1 million available for capital improvements. Money for a bond payment due in '08 has been set aside, and here are some, not all, figures for that $1 million:
$121,000 for asphalt trails
$49,000 for a shade screen for the amphitheatre in the summer
$25,000 for a portion of the roof of the Union Station
$10,000 for trails in general, as requested by the Trails Committee
$9,000 for plumbing for the fire station
Then, $180,000 has been left in the fund from which to draw upon in the future.
There are also two "entryway" projects---one on 24th Street and one on 31st. These are evidently being done to beautify the entrances to Ogden from the freeway exits on those streets, and it is timely to do them now since those portions of the freeway are being worked on.
The Council has also asked that an ordinance be drafted concerning CO2 protectors for police, and that a financial tracking system be instituted for the RDA.
This is heady stuff, to be sure. The Arts grants have been beefed up to $30,000, provision has been made for part time help for fire operations, and training has been added for the planning and landmarks commissions.
But there was a downside. The police and fire representatives were not happy. Not at all. It seems that both were given les than a 5% merit raise based on a score of 3 or higher on their evaluations. And to further complicate this, a new merit system is being considered for the police. Both received a 2% bonus, but I don't think either received a cost of living allowance.
One of the problems with this is that this a 5% merit raise was also given to UAGE, which accepted it rather early on in the negotiating process. However, the merit system for police and fire is much different, and I would imagine, more rigorous. To treat these three entities the same when they are all so different and when police and fire are way below average when compared to other cities along the Wasatch Front is not really a good decision, in my opinion.
This opinion was shared by those who spoke against this issue. One, a representative of the Civil Service Commission, said that the Council really had to take a look at what was happening in the matter of police terminations. Evidently, new, young police men and women hire on in Ogden City and, "They suck up money for our training and then they leave," because they get higher salaries elsewhere. "Ogden is a tough beat," this gentleman said, but, "To train them and lose them is penny wise and pound foolish."
An officer then spoke, and mentioned again the resolutions the police alleged in the hearing last week were not being complied with by Ogden City after Ogden City had agreed to comply with them. The final offer by Ogden City was "sending a message that the resolutions are null and void," this officer said, and stated that it was if the City were saying, "We'll tell you this much today, but we're not going to abide by it in the future."
He also spoke of the fact that the merit system was based on a sliding scale, and part of it has to do with the number of citations the officers give. "Should I write more citations so I can get a 5 instead of a 3?" he asked.
This last, in my opinion, really can't go on. I've heard that this was part of how the OPD worked, and now it has been confirmed. This does not bode well for a harmonious relationship between our law enforcement and us, to be sure. It makes it really difficult. It really taints the way we look at each other. Is it comfortable for us to drive around in the city knowing that we may be being looked upon by the police as a means to achieve a citation quota? Is it good working conditions for them to be under the gun to achieve this quota in order to make a living wage? Especially in terms of law enforcement, where violations are either there or they aren't, I think it puts a layer on how they have to do that job that really shouldn't be there at all.
Sharon Beech spoke in favor of revising the budget so as to get the police and fire employees more money. "I think it unconscionable that these men have to come here and beg for a living wage so they can take care of the rest of us," she said. She went on to suggest several ways for cutting the fat from the budget, one of which involved city employees submitting for gas reimbursement instead of being given blanket monthly car allowances. Another was to get rid of the lobbyist. "That lobbyist wasn't working for these men back here," she said, mentioning SB 229, and ended with the suggestion that Stuart Reid return his severance package. "I think there was chicanery involved in that, and I think he should give the money back."
Representative Neil Hansen spoke, and raised an interesting point, which was that the population of Ogden has grown, fuel prices have increased, utilities have gone up, and yet the employees hired to serve the city have not kept up with that changing pace in either number or wages. He too advocated budget revisions along these lines.
Finally, a fireman spoke, briefly and to the point: "We feel this budget has punished police and firefighters for going to impasse," he said.
Councilman Safsten brought up a few points, which were: that many things on the capital improvements list had been there for years, that if a department generates revenue, that revenue cannot be allocated to another department, and that the resolutions the officer referred to the City allegedly violating were year to year things, not constant.
And Chairman Garcia stated that in his 13 years of public service, this budget had been the most difficult one he had ever had to do.
The Council looked sort of glum at this point, and understandably so. In my opinion, many of the budgetary decisions and emphases made were quite good and on the right track. But everybody wants a win/win, and I think everybody in that room was wishing we could, for once have one. As matters stand now, we are involved in a losing proposition with the police and fire departments in that we are simply training employees that other cities then benefit from. This is not good for us as a city, it certainly can't be good for morale in those two departments, and it's more like treading water than actually getting anywhere. In the police presentation, the police said something like, "We have made a commitment to this city," and I think it's way overdue that we also make a commitment to them.
As always, corrections, additions, and comments are greatly appreciated.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Although we had a fairly robust discussion of this event a few days ago here, we are bringing up the matter again, as a reminder. It is imperative, we believe, that Ogden citizens who are concerned about the paucity of information surrounding the Mt. Ogden Parkland proposal, (or the lack of merit of the proposal itself) attend these events, in significant force, to lodge their objections to a public input process that is premature and faulty, at best.
In the intervening period since we last discussed this topic, one of our gentle readers and I had a conversation with a prominent local lawyer, an expert in municipal law. We asked for an informal written opinion about the role of the planning commission and council in connection with the parkland sale proposal, and this is what he provided:
In short, the Ogden "Gang of Six" City Council, which was originally granted the power by the legislature re the disposition of City owned real property, delegated (in 2003) that power entirely to the mayor's office. The present council no longer retains any legal authority to directly approve or disapprove the disposition of ANY Ogden-owned real estate. Under current Ogden City ordinances, the city council's sole remaining authority with regard to the Peterson/Godfrey scheme is thus limited to the role of approving or disapproving the general plan or zoning amendments.
I read the post today on the Weber County Forum [the above-linked WCF article.] City Councils are empowered to govern the disposition of municipal real property. The City Council does this by passing an ordinance which sets forth how municipal real property is sold. Where the property is deemed "significant," (1) the contemplated use of the property after the sale must be consistent with the General Plan (as reviewed by the planning commission) and (2) a 14 day noticed public hearing must be held. The City must obtain "fair and adequate consideration" for the property. However, such consideration can be both monetary and non-monetary in nature.
An appraisal is not required. The Ogden City Council delegated authority to the Mayor to despose of municipal property. However, any property valued over $75,000 has been deemed by Ogden City as "significant" for purposes of the statute.
If the proposed sale of park/open space is valued at over $75,000, then the two above provisions kick in. Since the open space appears to be slated for residential density, which is inconsistent with the current General Plan, that Plan must be amended before any sale takes place. All General Plan amendments must go before both the planning commission and city council, with a public hearing mandatory at the city council level.
Hence, although the city council does not authorize the sale, it appears that the city council is an essential part of the process for an amendment to the General Plan.
In addition, the Ogden City Council could always modify the ordinance on the disposition of property and require all such sales to be approved by the City Council. Most jurisdictions leave the disposition of "significant" parcels of real property to the legislative body, who is in charge of the budget.
Attacking a sale on the basis of whether of not "fair and adequate consideration" has been given is generally a losing proposition. Courts only look to whether the decision-maker was acting reasonably -- a very low standard. Consequently, I do not believe there to be a Utah case which overturned a sale based upon inadequate consideration, unless there was no consideration given at all. [Emphasis & Links Added.]
We strongly urge all concerned citizens to attend these two open houses, and to voice your objections loud and clear. There's too much at stake to allow this project to be rammed down our public throats by a Mayor who is hell-bent to demonstrate "who's boss. "
Update 6/13/06 11:57 p.m. MT: As a result of some discussion in the below comments section, we have just now gotten off the phone with the Ogden Planning Department and have confirmed that the open houses of tonight and tomorrow are to be regarded as public meetings, open for attendance and public comment by ALL Ogden citizens, irrespective of whether they reside within the described Mt. Ogden Neighborhood boundaries between 26th Street and 36th Street, and from Harrison Boulevard east to the foothills.
Update 6/13/06 3:55 p.m. MT: In response to the continuing confusion about tonight's open house event, we have now spoken yet a SECOND TIME with Sharon, of the Ogden City Planning Department. She again confirms all of the information in the preceding paragraph.
She adds, upon inquiry, that meeting moderaters intend to focus on narrow neighborhood planning issues, such as traffic, economics and other traditional neighborhood questions, and touch only marginally, if at all, on the ubiquitous gondola question.
Whether tonight's discussion will remain as narrow in scope as advertised and planned... we shall see, shall we not?
Sharon has also graciously emailed us a copy of tonight's agenda, which we have now uploaded to this archive page.
Monday, June 12, 2006
I have been doing some research on Mr. Peterson and the Malan's Basin property involved with this proposed project. I don’t know if any of this is significant or completely accurate because I am not a professional and I have 0 experience reading property descriptions and plate maps. I hope someone on this site will double check me and post a response. I believe the property Mr. Peterson purchased are the following parcel #'s:
I did a business entity search on the Utah division of corporations web site and found a few hundred listings for Salt Lake Exchange Accommodations LLC. The only difference between them being a # change. Incidentally Salt Lake Exchange Accommodations 154 LLC's business license expired on 05/09/06 . Most all of these business entities including 154 name Ray M. Beck as the registered agent and manager. Mr. Beck, a Salt Lake attorney, is apparently the poster boy for IRS section 1031 code, like kind exchanges , a tax deferment loophole for real-estate investors.
As someone who found the original gondola proposal intriguing I am disgusted at what it has become. I hope that this information is not new but might help put together the puzzeling quandary that is being push upon the citizens of Ogden.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Smart Growth is standing behind its map:
Smart Growth Ogden stands by its map and the accompanying text, which in all material aspects accurately represent the data and descriptions provided by the city itself. The map was produced from vector data provided by the Ogden City GIS Department on April 21. An image created from the same vector data is still posted on the city's web site... The locations of the features depicted--trails, roads, building sites, and golf course fairways--were not altered by Smart Growth Ogden in any way. All of the conclusions drawn in the text that accompanies our map follow from the data itself; for example, the city's data shows trails in the completed project crossing roads in more than 10 locations, golf holes in 8 locations, and the driving range. If the data is inaccurate then the city, not Smart Growth Ogden, is at fault.
There are also side by side images of the city's map and the Smart Growth map so we can compare them.
Ogden City Attorney Letter
Smart Growth Response & comparison maps
Update 6/11/06 11:38 a.m. MT: One of our helpful gentle readers has obtained and transmitted to us a copy of Ogden City Attorney Norm Ashton's 6/10/06 "attorney letter," the text of which we have provided via the above link.
Comments are invited, as always.
Friday, June 09, 2006
The Salt Lake Trib picks up the Standard Examiner Story on Godfrey/Smart Growth Ogden.
Mayor Godfrey has decided, apparently, to change tactics and to try to intimidate his critics into silence. Scott Schwebke broke the story yesterday on the front page of the Standard Examiner and the Salt Lake Tribune has picked it up this morning and added more detail. Story by Kristen Moulton, available here:
Ogden mayor combats gondola critics
The story quotes Mayor Godfrey as saying a map included in a recent SmartGrowthOgden leaflet is "false, misleading and deceptive" and he has warned the organization to "cease and desist" from disseminating it.
The rest of the story explains that the Mayor is flatly refusing to answer questions from SGO and other critics about the basis for claims supporters of the gondola and Peterson real estate speculation have made about it. For example, the story reports, when Godfrey was asked to explain the basis for claiming that the gondola/Peterson project will create 1200 jobs, the Mayor said he would not. When he was asked, the story said, to explain the basis for claiming the projects will bring 1000 extra students a year to WSU, the Mayor said he would not explain. When asked to explain the basis for claiming that the projects will add $10 million a year to Ogden's tax revenues, the Mayor said he would not explain. [Note: the SLTrib story says $5 million, but at one of the Mayor's recent Tuesday night Lift Ogden Cheerleading sessions, he told a constituent "we've raised that estimate to $10 million a year."]
Let me make sure I've got this straight: the Mayor of Ogden City is telling people of his city that a real estate speculation involving city park lands that he favors, and its associated projects, will increase city tax revenues by $10 million dollars a year [or $5 million in the SLT story]. But when asked to explain the basis for that estimate he refuses?
We are all to believe these pie-in-the-sky predictions without any supporting evidence or explanation of how they were reached? And the mayor of Ogden is proposing to sell off 28% of the city's parklands to a real estate speculator to increase tax revenues and he won't tell the voters on what he bases his claims about increased tax revenues?"
I'd be hard put to think of anything that better illustrates the contemptuous approach of the Godfrey administration toward the citizens who put it in office, and who pay its salaries by their taxes than that.
His reason for refusing to answer these questions is that opponents of his gondola scheme "take our information and twist it." The reply to that of course is that good and solid evidence in support of his claims should be able to stand up to questioning in what in well run cities is sometimes called "the market place of ideas." That the Mayor thinks his supporting evidence for his claims can not stand up to public scrutiny is telling.
One more thing: If anyone doubted the Mayor and his Lift Ogden Amen Choir were getting desperate as the public learns more and more about what the Peterson/Godfrey gondola/resort scheme will actually mean, and about how unlikely it is to succeed, how much of Ogden's future they want to mortgage to a wild speculation and about just how much hot air is involved in its promotion, the Mayor's attempt to silence critics by intimidation should make it plain.
It seems more and more of what Mr. Bob Geiger told the Standard Examiner the Lift Ogden folks were keeping secret out of concern that if it came out public opposition to the plan would rise has been coming out. And public opposition has been rising. And so the Mayor and Lift Ogden Amen Chorus are worried.
They have reason to be.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
By Dian Woodhouse
(With help from an un-named Gentle Friend)
Council Notes: 6.6.06
The labor negotiations for both police and fire are currently at an impasse, and that was tonight's main issue. It is unfortunate that the agenda was not publicly available prior to the meeting. Other issues than this one were discussed, of course, but I am going to concentrate on this one for now and do the rest separately. All council members were present except for Bill Glasmann, who was excused.
Bill Cook began with some background, in which he said that the "meet and confer" process provides employment associations an opportunity to negotiate with the city. There were three associations involved this year--the police department, the fire department, and UAGE, the Utah Association of Government Employees. UAGE settled, but the former two are at an impasse.
Chairman Garcia then announced that he had brought up the question if the hearing could be held in a work session instead of a council meeting, and he had been advised that there can be no hearings in work sessions. He then went on to state the usual admonitions---no clapping, no booing, etc., and please keep the tone of your presentations and comments respectful.
Mark Johnson first presented the administration's point of view, projecting overhead a document entitled "Employee Wage and Benefits Negotiations FY 2007." He said that he felt like Custer, in this "sea of blue," but that his opinion was that he had a good rapport with the individuals he had worked with from the OPD. "My view is from my rose colored glasses," he said.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
This morning's Standard Examiner has a front page story which is a pretty good indication of how desperate the Lift Ogden Wired Ascent Cheerleading Squad is becoming. The story reports that the results of the recent telephone survey [the headline inaccurately says "poll"] commissioned by Lift Ogden supporters will remain secret. Even though, the Gondolist Gang insists, the results were very favorable to the gondola/Malan's Basin project.
Uh huh. Sure. The alleged "poll" shows overwhelming support for the project, but they're going to keep the results secret. Right. You believe that, you probably spent Halloween Eve hoping to catch a glimpse of the Great Pumpkin.
My lord, if they can't get a favorable result out of a push poll like this one [a push poll is one designed to produce a particular result: it might in this case contain "questions" like this: "Do you think Mayor Godfrey's gondola plan is a good plan, a great plan, a wonderful plan, a fantastic plan or all of the above?"], they've got to know the kind of trouble Peterson's real estate speculation scheme is in.
Which explains why the Geigers have been insisting, rather urgently to anyone who will listen of late that "we are winning." Uh huh. Right.
The signs of the Lift Ogden crowd's desperation are increasing: supposedly favorable polls they won't release; continuing to try to convince people the gondola will connect to Snow Basin when it won't; implying that you'll be able to hop off a plane at SLC International Airport and onto the Front Runner commuter rail to Ogden from there [you won't]; and repeatedly insisting to anyone who will listen [and apparently fewer and fewer are] that they are "winning." Look for them to begin telling the press that more loudly and more often as their scheme continues to unravel.
Also in the SE this morning, a long piece by WSU President Ann Millner and Richard Kendall on the importance of establishing a "deliberative process" to determine whether WSU will sell the land [one third of the present campus] that Mr. Peterson says he must have for his project to go forward. They stress the importance of taking the time to do fact finding, and to collect as much information as possible before making the decision.
We can only hope that the Ogden City Planning Commission and the Ogden City Council will follow their example and take the time necessary to examine these proposals, and to collect solid information about their impact, their feasibility, and their probability of succeeding [or the lack of it] before committing any city funds, lands or other resources to the scheme. A real-estate speculator's assurances, pulled out of thin air and unsupported by evidence, should not be enough. Not nearly enough.
And local golfers also call a penalty on the Parkland Land-grab
There's plenty to discuss in this morning's Standard-Examiner, not much of which is likely to put a smile on the face of our guileful gondola groupies. And what better place to do that than here, we ask?
Please don't let the cat get your tongues.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Snow Basin writes to Godfrey, again, insisting he stop giving the false impression that the Ogden gondola will connect with Snow Basin. Misleading information contained in the city-paid for bulletin accompanying city water bills prompted the new complaints by Snow Basin.
The SL Trib has the story.
Editor's Homework Assignment: There has been an increasing volume of blatantly false information shamelessly disseminated by the Ogden Gondola Cult of late. We thought at this juncture that it would be a fine idea to set up a separate thread to document in one place the variey of
Come on gentle readers! Let us focus on the Gondola Lemming Truth and Veracity Deficit! We invite you all to fall all over yourselves to provide us specific examples of instances where your own "B.S. Detectors" have gone "completely off the chart!"
If we receive a substantial response, we will definitely compile it. Consider the possibilities.
In the spirit of this project, your humble Blogmeister also offers this on-topic observation, which was received via email yesterday, from another of our Gentle Readers:
The floor is now open for your input on this topic. It's time, we think, to tap the wisdom of the crowd, and call the BS'ers out on the carpet.
Thought you might be interested. The new Lift Ogden brochure, distributed around town this AM, claims folks will be able to board the Frontrunner train at SLC International Airport and ride it straight to Ogden. I checked UTA. Frontrunner is NOT going to the SLC airport.
-A Gentle Reader
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Much has been said concerning a proposed gondola, resort, and hillside development in Ogden over the last several months. Although no official proposal has come before the City Council, the public has requested information and voiced opinions of both support and opposition. To ensure that the public’s ideas are taken into account and that all the necessary information is considered, the Council adopted a resolution on April 18, 2006, directing that a comprehensive public process be developed by Council staff. The Council directed that the process include development of the Mt. Ogden Community Plan, possible updating of the Ogden/Weber Transit Corridor Study, and other aspects of a public process conducive to this proposal. The Council also directed staff to meet with other decision-making entities to learn their decision points and public processes. The Council is determined to “gather facts, receive public input, and collect data consistent with the Council’s due diligence prior to making any decisions on this far-reaching and very important proposal” (City Council Resolution 2006-13).Pursuant to this resolution, The Ogden City Council staff has set to work, and has been diligently compiling the data necessary to fulfill the objects of this resolution (according to our always reliable sources;) and is in middle of the complex process of making the contacts, having the meetings and collecting the preliminary data which would logically precede the public input and deliberative portions of the process.
Apparently the "brain trust" in the mayor's office doesn't believe the council staff is moving fast enough though, notwithstanding the fact that these hard-working people are only a little less than five weeks into the process.
"If it isn't done yesterday, it's being done too slowly." That's the attitude of The Blessed but Perpetually-petulant Egomaniac on Nine.
The Mayor's office has thus taken the matter into its own hands, decided to do an end-run around the council, and has now scheduled a series of its own non-council-sanctioned public input sessions. "The Council be damned," sez the mayor of us all.
In that connection, we are linking this important "public notice," which was transmitted to us this morning by one of our attentive and gentle readers: Public Open House.
Our readers should carefully note that two separate events are being "noticed" by the mayor's office in the preceding announcement. The first of these, scheduled for June 13, 2006 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., is intended for citizens residing between 26th-36th Streets East of Harrison Boulevard. The second event, intended for those citizens living south of 30th Street to 36th Street will be held the following night on June 14, 2006.
Affix these dates to your calendars with a giant magic marker, people. "Snoozers wil be losers," as the old saying goes.
We believe that all Ogden citizens who are concerned about another of the mayor's hare-brained schemes being summarily shoved down our public throats should attend these meetings, and do so in force, notwithstanding the fact that these meeting are are entirely premature and non-council-sanctioned.
A failure of interested citizens to show up in significant numbers at each of these events will be inevitably interpreted by the city administration as a lack of interest on our part. Blessed Matthew Godfrey has a sordid history of doing just that.
And when we do attend, we should forcefully voice our objections, not only on the merits of the proposal itself (or the lack thereof,) but to the ham-handed manner in which the mayor is choreographing his version of the process -- putting the cart before the horse -- inviting public comments before the council is even midway into the fact-gathering process.
We're also wondering: "So what the rush?" Chris Peterson has been dawdling about the details of his so-called proposal for over a year now. He hasn't even told us how much he's willing to offer for the Mt. Ogden Parkland property, let alone put a formal purchase offer on the table. We're not laboring under any obvious impending deadline. So where's the fire, anyway? we ask.
And what are your comments on this, O gentle and perceptive ones?
This morning's SE front page presents an article about Mark Johnson giving up his Hummer. He traded it for a Yukon because the scrutiny of the newspaper "... took all the fun out of driving it."
Isn't the Yukon one of the biggest SUVs put out by GMC? It is still conspicuous in-your-face consumption, as far as I'm concerned -- at our expense. He might have considered the reasons for the scrutiny, and decided on something a little more economical and in consideration of the city's need for money for infrastructure (see using snow-removal money to fix Country Hills Drive). Thinking of the plight of the city and the concerns of the citizens would have been a much better reason for a trade-DOWN. Instead he chose the pouty, spoiled-child reason of "it's not fun any more" for a trade-ACROSS.
Perhaps we should email our friend Ace Reporter Schwebke at the Standard-Examiner to thank him for keeping the heat on. Mr. Johnson deserves the same degree of scrutiny for his Yukon as he received for his Hummer.
What's it going to take before Mr. Johnson catches on!?!