Friday, September 29, 2006
Well, folks...you missed another circus tonite.
I attended the event at Union Station Hippodrome, where Mayor Godfrey and representatives from UTA and WFRC were slated to present "accurate" information on proposed future Emerald City area public transportation alternatives.
At last Tuesday's City Council meeting, I'd asked John Patterson, Bill Cook and the Council how this show was to be handled. If Godfrey was going to have the podium to "address the assemblage, then whoever was there as an authority on streetcars should also have his time at the podium to do the same." Everyone looked around and mumbled... "I dunno...it's the mayor's meeting."
Well, there was quite a crowd in that cavernous acoustically disastrous lobby at Union Station. Godfrey comes in to address us ...no mike, and he could hardly be seen. A wag behind me called (softly) "stand up!" Hah! An orange crate would have been helpful.
Read Sharon's full article here.
Rebecca Palmer, another Std-Ex "Ace" Reporter, offers her own contorted Suits from Sanduskey story version this morning too. For a full dose of the Std-Ex/Boss Godfrey spin, be sure to check out this morning's Boss Godfrey lemming Standard-Examiner hogwash .
It's comments time, O gentle readers... We'd especially like to hear from anyone else who may have attended last night's Big-top One-ring Extravaganza.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
The council's unanimous selection for Bill Glasmann's vacated At-Large council Seat "A":
Susan E. Van Hooser!
Councilwoman Van Hooser took the city council oath 45 minutes ago.
Weber County Forum congratulates Mrs. Van Hooser for her new appointment, and once again thanks the other 38 Emerald City citizens who also participated as applicants in the process.
We anticipate posting a more detailed report later on, but wanted to get the basic information out now.
Consider the floor open for discussion.
Update 9/28/06 9:48 a.m. MT: Your humble blogmeister has this morning whipped up and uploaded a brief summary of last night's council appointment special event; and Scott Schwebke's thumb-nail rendition can be found this morning on the Std-Ex archive site.
We ask that our readers foregive the delay in providing this update. Our blog host has been experiencing SEVERE AND ANNOYING technical problems since late last night. Special apologies to the guy who emailed us during this morning's wee hours, complaining that our blog "ate" his comment masterpiece. It ate a number of comments, actually, although we were later able to restore most of these.
We'll stand by for continuing reader questions or comments.
By Curmudgeon [pinch hitting for Dian, who is under the weather]
Let me begin by noting an important announcement by Mr. Patterson: the location of Thursday's Council Work Session has been changed from the El Monte Golf Course Club House to the City Administration building,Room 310.
The regular Tuesday Council meeting opened at 6:00 PM. All six members present. The Mayor was not. [City administration represented by Mr. Patterson.] Following approval of the minutes, the Council moved on to the three common consent items on the agenda.
The first involved proposed ordinance 2006-60, "vacating a portion of Brinker Avenue between Healy and Patterson..., quit claiming the property within the vacated portion of said street to the abutting property owners" and setting a public hearing on this matter for 7 November, 2006. There was no discussion by the Council or public comment.
The second item on the common consent agenda involved appointing two new members of the Special Events Advisory Committee [Dana Wicks and David Miller] and reappointing Teri Slaughter, Craig Belik, Lou Ann Kamigaki, Dustin Chapman, Nikki Lovell, Sand Havas, Dan Musgrave, and Sara Toliver. There was no discussion.
The third item on the common consent agenda involved approving the appoint of Lillie Holman to the Planning Commission. No discussion.
For further information re Ms. Holman's Planning Commission appointment, and other matters transpiring during last night's meetings, read the rest of Curmudgeon's article here.
Scott Schwebke's Standard-Examiner story on last night's meetings can be viewed online; and in a related report, Ace Reporter Schwebke provides useful information about tonight's scheduled City Council At-Large Seat A appointment. As set forth in the latter article, the voluntarily-provided "letters of interest" of candidates Theresa Grijalva and Jeremy Taylor have been uploaded to the Std-Ex website here and here.
We thank Curmudgeon for filling in last night for Dian on short notice -- and reader comments on all items related to current city council happenings are invited as always.
Last but not least -- we wish Dian a very speedy recovery.
Monday, September 25, 2006
By Ryan Sager
Los Angeles Times
RYAN SAGER is the author of "The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians, and the Battle to Control the Republican Party" (Wiley, 2006). rhsager.com
September 25, 2006
IF BLUE-STATE Californians want to give the national Republican Party palpitations, here's some practical advice: Go east, young man (or woman).
Just not too far east.
Read the rest of Ryan Sager's L.A. Times op-ed piece.
After three days of chewing on the information in Mr. Wilson's Malan's Basin feasibility opinion letter, we thought the time was ripe this morning to stir the pot with something new. Although your humble blogmeister has been acutely aware of the internecine ideological struggle being waged in western states between neoCON and paleoconservative GOP factions, this is the first article we've found that neatly frames it as a battle between the "western" and "southern" wings.
Our gentle readers can offer their 2¢ on this thought-provocative article, or simply regard this as an open-topic thread.
The floor is open to new discussion. Talk about whatever floats your boat.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Throughout the course of the public discussion, proponents of the Malan's Basin Resort proposition have remained silent about essential details of this project, withholding information even so fundamental as the proposed Mt. Ogden Park purchase price and payment terms. Pertinent citizen questions have gone routinely unanswered by Mr. Peterson, and this so-called "private developer" has instead relied mainly to date upon a well-choreographed and intense public relations campaign, plainly designed to appeal to emotional citizen sympathy.
Among the details most noticeably lacking in Mr. Peterson's proposal has been objective information concerning the Malan's Basin Resort's feasibility. Whereas various individual citizens and citizen groups have repeatedly (and unavailingly) requested objective and independent engineering and ski resort feasibility analysis to justify the public's participation in this project, it appears that the only pre-development professional Mr. Peterson has hired so far in this endeavor is a real estate development lawyer whose avowed mission is to push for the a priori "gutting" of Emerald City's existing planning and zoning scheme.
As to the sorely-neglected feasibility issues however, we believe the public wait is over. We received last week a highly relevant document, focusing on the feasibility issues that have so far been absent from the public discussion. Prepared by Don K. Wilson, an Emerald City citizen with a professional background in both mechanical engineering and ski resort design, we believe this document presents the objective and independent professional analysis we've all been looking for.
Without further ado, we present this morning for our gentle readers' attention Mr. Wilson's Feasibility Study Letter, together with Mr. Wilson's Professional Resume, (which speaks for itself concerning Mr. Wilson's professional credentials.) Although these documents were submitted in mid-July to City Council leadership, we believe this morning's article will be the first general public dissemination of these documents. Mr. Wilson has put considerable effort into researching and assembling his primary Feasibility Study, and would like to have it circulated as widely as possible. Weber County Forum of course shares Mr. Wilson's interest in that regard, and therefore encourages its readers to read and study this document, and to pass this article and Mr. Wilson's herein-contained Study & Resume along to interested friends and associates.
Please take note that we have redacted Mr. Wilson's private contact information, (as it appears on the originals of the documents which we received) in the interest of Mr. Wilson's internet security and privacy. Interested individuals who would like to contact Mr. Wilson for more information, or to take issue with his methodology, analysis or conclusions, may do so by emailing your humble blogmeister through the contact link in the upper-right sidebar, or through the email links provided in each document. We will of course pass along any inquiries directly to Mr. Wilson.
We thank Mr. Wilson for his highly-competent and enlightening contribution to our community discussion, and invite our gentle readers, of course, to offer their own thoughts and observations in the lower comments section.
Update 9/23/06 6:35 a.m. MT: After exhibiting to Mr. Wilson a pattern of continuing disinterest in the matters contained in Mr. Wilson's feasibility opinion article, Don Porter does a complete about-face, and publishes a slimmed-down version in this morning's edition.
In classic Standard-Examiner "he said-she said" fashion however, Mr. Porter sees fit to distract from the cerebral content of Mr. Wilson's analysis, by running an offsetting, all-purpose, entirely irrelevant Boss Godfrey rah-rah piece, addressing none of the issues raised by Mr. Wilson's article.
We think Boss Godfrey sets a new personal best this morning, with more delusions, half-truths and tall-tales per column inch than anything printed in the Standard-Examiner ever before. He definitely has the mind-numbing gondolist spiel down pat. And why not? He's been reciting this carny-style sales pitch non-stop daily for almost a year now. Our personal favorite is the one where Godfrey reiterates, with a completely straight face, that Chris Peterson is going to reach into his own hip pocket and "invest" a half-billion of his own dollars in Emerald City.
And we breathlessly await the next upcoming Std-Ex editorial page Fact-based Reason vs. Blind Faith Showdown: Dueling articles between some local world geography expert, and Boss Godfrey's representative from the Flat Earth Society .
Have at it, gentle readers.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
And they are (alphabetically):
- J. Brad Florence
- Therese Grijalva
- Jeremy Taylor
- John H. Thompson
- Susan E. Van Hooser
It was a tough task that Mr. Glasmann dropped into the laps of his former council colleagues, requiring them to choose from this exceptionally well-qualified list of thirty-nine. We believe the council discharged their duties tonight diligently however; and we're encouraged once again by this council of ours, which performed tonight with apparent deliberation and dignity.
Update 9/21/06 8:23 a.m. MT: Ace Reporter Schwebke provides this morning a thumbnail recitation of the events transpiring during last night's council marathon session. Read all about it in today's Standard-Examiner story.
By Dian Woodhouse
A minor panic of sorts transpired this afternoon when someone revealed that tonight's agenda dealt with amending the way we amend the General Plan. This amendment seems, however, to be all for the best, as you will see.
The first item of note was a proposed Resolution (2006-25) honoring the 75th anniversary of El Monte Golf Course. The first round of golf was played there in September of 1931, and for twenty years, El Monte was the only golf course in what is called "the Top of Utah." El Monte's clubhouse is on the Historic Register, and the view to the east is over cottonwood trees that are over 100 years old.
Todd Brenkman, who accepted a copy of the framed resolution, is restoring the Clubhouse and collecting memorabilia. Saying that the restoration had been a fantastic opportunity for him, he thanked Ogden City, the City Council, and George Binford for helping make this possible.
The resolution passed unanimously.
The next order of business was approval of the minutes. There were quite a few of these tonight, and after amending those reviewed by Councilwoman Jeske who had some grammatical and typing corrections, all were approved.
Next came a Common Consent item, which I will reproduce here:
"Budget Opening. Proposed Ordinance 2006-58 amending the budget and CIP Plan for Ogden City for the fiscal year July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007, by increasing the anticipated revenues and transfers for gross increases of $396,141.00 from sources as detailed in the body of this ordinance; and increasing the appropriations for a gross increase of $396,141.00 as detailed in the body of this ordinance."
After a moment for public input, of which there was none, a public hearing on this matter was set for October 3, 2006.
The next item was a Planning Commission Report, and this was the one concerning the change to amending the general plan. From Greg Montgomery's presentation, and in a short post-meeting chat with Councilwoman Wicks, it was revealed that part of this ordinance had to do simply with making the municipal code conform with the Utah Code, which we have already been following. "...to put into writing with our zoning ordinance the current procedure which is State Law," Mr. Montgomery said. The information from Councilwoman Wicks was that State Law, as it now stands, does not require that a City Council hold public hearings regarding amendments to the General Plan, only that the Planning Commission hold them. This ordinance (2006-59,) also requires the City Council to hold public hearings regarding plan amendments.
The ordinance was unanimously adopted.
Next was a public hearing, Fillmore Street Vacation, Proposed Ordinance 2006-60. Dealing with the same type of issue as the one last week, this also had to do with the fact that the streets were originally platted to be 99' wide. As this width is not necessary, the city will vacate "16.5 feet along the west side of Fillmore Avenue between Swan Street and 23rd Street; quit claiming the property within the vacated portion of said Street to the abutting property owners as their interest may appear, etc."
Mr. Montgomery here made a public apology to the petitioner. Evidently, this petition was ready to go in June of this year and then, for reasons unknown, did not. Evidently, other petitions filed later were then dealt with ahead of it, and Mr. Montgomery stated that, although they had tried to find out and track down why this had occurred, they were unable to, and did apologize to the petitioner for the delay.
The next order was New Business. There was none. Nor were there any Public Comments. Nor Administrative nor Staff Comments. Two Council Members, Councilman Stephens and Councilwoman Jeske, again complimented El Monte golf course.
The meeting then adjourned.
After adjournment, it was informally revealed that tomorrow night's Special Meeting for interviewing applicants for the vacant Council Seat will be more involved than I, at least, had previously thought. Applicants will answer the four questions and have four minutes to do so--this we knew. But then, the Council will go directly into Closed Executive Session and discuss the applicants they have just seen. After deliberating there, they will then re-enter the Council Chambers and vote on the five individuals from which they will pick the replacement.
So we'll know who they are by tomorrow night.
Update 9/20/06 9:26 a.m. MT: We'd like to direct our readers' attention this morning to a new feature which we've added to our upper-left sidebar. Within the capsule labeled "Local Government Toolkit" you'll find a new "Dian's Council Notes" link, which connects to an archive page containing a complete compilation of Dian's highly-detailed and excellent City Council Notes Series. We'll also continue to add all future articles, so long as we're fortunate enough to have her contributing here.
We invite everyone to explore her accumulated work-product. It's a quite remarkable body of of articles. We believe our readers will find it to be a very useful resource.
We'd like to thank Dian once again for her generous contributions to our community. She does this all without any pecuniary compensation whatsoever, we'll add. There can be no doubt as to Dian's dedication to her native home town.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
While a decision to build an Ogden gondola system remains up in the air, a proposal for an aerial tramway in Cortez, Colo., has failed to get off the ground.A Feasibility Study? "Hogwash," sez Boss Godfrey! "We don't need no stinkin' feasibility study! All we gotta do is BELIEVE!!!":
For decades Cortez community leaders kicked around the idea of building a tram system that would take visitors from town to Mesa Verde National Park, which has more than 4,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings.
However, in 2004, the plan was dropped when a feasibility study by Denver-based BBC Research and Consultants showed the $13.5 million tramway would be too expensive to build and maintain.
However, Mayor Matthew Godfrey believes a gondola — he says may cost at least $20 million and would run from downtown to Malan’s Basin — is just what Ogden needs to distinguish itself as a top destination for tourism and business.We know our gentle readers are already champing at the bit to sink their teeth into today's article, so we'll post the relevant link now, without the adornment of further narcissistic editorial sniping. Read the whole sad tale here, about the manner in which the "good ole boys" cruelly crushed the gondolist hopes of one mind-numbed Cortez, Colorado gondola-cultist coven.
As an added bonus, we also link an impromptu companion piece, adding unique non-faith-based perspective to Parts One & Two of reporter Schwebke's article series, from the SGO point of view.
Start Chompin', O ever-gentle readers.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Kellogg, Idaho, of course, was one of the stops on Boss Godfrey's Flying Amen Circus Tour last month, and INbedded Ace Reporter Scott Schwebke offers his usual probing reporting and analysis of that little Idaho hamlet's now-fulfilled gondola "vision," in this morning's second series installment.
Reporter Schwebke does his usual bang-up job, and doesn't disappoint in providing his typically-cogent journalistic insight this morning, including this marvellous quote from Gondola Cheerleader Dave Hardman, whose already-hot gondola love affair was ratcheted-up even a few more notches, merely upon casting teary eyes toward the Kellogg gondola, which the voters of that little once-dying Idaho mining town reportedly approved by a tidy 80% majority vote:
Dave Hardman, executive director of the Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce and one of those who made the trip, said visiting Kellogg and Telluride gave him insight into how gondolas can drive tourism and provide effective mass transit.Ace reporter Schwebke's second installment is another milestone achievement in his Standard-Examiner career, we think. Be sure to read Reporter Schwebke's entire story here. It's near-perfect, and certainly destined to win some kind of award in the near future. Perhaps Boss Godfrey will arrange to get him one of those important resume-building awards himself. (Scott Schwebke: "2006 Utah Mother of the Year," maybe?)
"I gained the idea that gondolas were the catalyst to get people to come to the community and created a transportation system that didn’t disrupt other traffic," he said.
The Kellogg gondola is particularly impressive because it virtually saved the town’s economy when silver-, lead- and zinc-mining operations went belly up, Hardman said.
"Even though the magnitude is much smaller than what is planned for Ogden, the gondola was a catalyst for economic opportunity," he said.
Even Ace Reporter Schwebke isn't perfect though; and there is one question we'd like to ask parenthetically:
Are we the only readers who are becoming increasingly annoyed at Mr. Schwebke's constant reference to Chris Peterson as a "Developer?" Shouldn't that label be reserved for people who've actually (and successfully) done at least one development project in the past? (OK... two questions. "Just asking..." you know... rhetorically.)
Have at it, gentle readers. Today's Ace Reporter Schwebke masterpiece has the look of a low & slow pitch, delivered over the outside corner of the plate.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Our gentle Weber County Forum readers should not complain that Standard-Examiner publisher Lee Carter failed to give us fair and adequate warning. Part One of Scott Schwebke's previously-announced three-part gondola-promotional series makes the front page of the Slavish Boss Godfrey Official Propaganda Organ this morning under the chirpy headline: "Connecting resort towns - Colorado gondola has cut down on traffic, pollution."
Today's story reports on last month's secret fact-finding junket, during which Mr. Schwebke took a long cross-country plane-ride with a cramped cabin-full of rabid and unrepentant Emerald City Godfreyites -- folks like Mel Kemp and Dave Hardman -- for the purpose of getting up close and personal with several actual gondolas, deep within the Idaho and Colorado backwoods.
Ace Reporter Schwebke applies his usual probing style and critical-thinking skill to today's story, of course. And in our incessant effort to be the most useful blogsite in all of northern Utah, we obligingly link Mr. Schwebke's eagerly-awaited Sunday morning masterpiece here.
We pledge to update this article with links to the rest of Mr. Schwebke's articles in this series, just as soon as they become available on the web. We'll also add that we'll be sitting on the edges of our seat with abated breath until next Tuesday, chewing on our fingernails, wondering what went wrong with the gondolist sales-job in Cortez, Colorado.
And who wants to begin this morning's discussion? Who among our gentle readership will chip in their own two cents, prior to departing this morning toward the neighborhood ward-house?
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Although we've had continuing inquiries about the now-pending Matt Jones/Vangate Matter, we've been reticent to discuss new developments to which we are privy, due both to pendency of Mark Decaria's independent investigation, and also because of the "quiet" perpetuation of a related OPD "internal investigation," which seems also to have remained on-going (according to trusted sources,) despite representations by Boss Godfrey's office that all issues related to the "Vangate" matter would be handed-off to the County Attorney's office. With two teams of lawyers working the civil rights violation and employee rights sides of this case respectively on behalf of Officer Jones, we thought cautious discretion was in order re further reporting on this story.
For newcomers to Weber County Forum, or regular readers whose memories of the Vangate matter may have slightly faded over the course of the last several weeks, you can find a thumbnail Scott Schwebke fact summary in last Sunday's Standard-Examiner update article, wherein our beloved Std-Ex Ace Reporter also reveals that a release of Mr. Decaria's legal "findings" regarding the whole array of legal issues springing from the Vangate debacle is imminent.
Regular WCF readers are aware, of course, that the facts of this case are far more complicated than the Std-Ex's Ace city-beat Reporter was able to report in the above article. This was, in fact one of the most fact-complicated and rapidly-developing stories within recent memory in the Land of Oz. In the course of a mere several weeks, the Ogden Police Benefit Association deftly managed to disseminate their pay-plan inequity story across the news media from coast-to-coast, reveal Boss Godfrey's nefarious citizen-predatory ticket quota, threaten the political careers of several local neoCON politicians, and persuade a seemingly asleep-at-the-wheel city council that "doing the right thing" was the best public policy of all. (Bumbling Boss Godfrey helped out a little bit with his own efforts, of course.)
In the interest of saving bandwidth however, we'll resist the temptation to re-tell the whole story, and refer our readers instead to this recently-compiled Special WCF Vangate Article Collection, which sets forth in chronological order the events of this story as they developed.
And in the interest of cutting to the chase, we announce the placement in our right sidebar of a graphic link to the Matt Jones Legal Defense Fund. Thanks to the efforts of the Ogden Police Benefit Association, a formal trust fund has now been established, toward which First-Amendment dedicated townsfolk can demonstrate their gratitude to Emerald City's Finest, by reaching into their pocketbooks and assisting in the defrayal of the legal fees that have so far accrued, and continue to accrue, as Matt Jones defends himself against the smear campaign that has been launched by the miniscule-minded neoCON on nine
Although Officer Jones' civil rights lawyers have taken his case on a contingent fee basis, his employment lawyers work for an hourly fee -- and the clock continues to tick.
Our gentle readers have been very generous in the past in their willingness to contribute to noble causes, and we hope they will be equally generous in the instant case, which involves the issue of free speech, a bedrock right of American Freedom.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Now that the City Council candidates list has finally (and belatedly) been released into the public domain, our city council is faced with the daunting task of culling the herd, and narrowing the list down to five finalists by the September 27, 2006 drop-dead date, at which point a replacement councilmember will be chosen and sworn in.
Given the extemely narrow window of opportunity between now and that date, it appears that Weber County Forum may very well be the only public venue wherein a truly robust discussion of the qualifications of the 39 candidates can adequately occur. We therefore formally open the door (and the floor) for our readers' comments, recommendations and objections on this topic.
Although at least one of our gentle readers has suggested that we all keep mum on the subject, your humble blogmeister rejects that approach out of hand. As our own gentle Curmudgeon very recently commented, Weber County Forum has become a true citizen-driven community forum -- a place where issues of concern to the townfolk can be freely and thoroughly discussed. Your blogmeister agrees entirely with this assessment, and believes that the present posture of this cyber-place is almost completely in keeping with the objects set forth in our very first introductory WCF article. We thus do not intend to deviate at all from what we have done very successfully so far. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," we say.
So come one; come all. We believe it's the solemn duty of the citizens of the Land of Oz to vet these candidates; and we'd like to retain the "free-wheeling attitude" that we envisioned upon founding this blog.
The only constraints we'll impose on the conversation will be those already set forth in our Weber County Forum Posting Policy, which can be reviewed here, and is also available in our upper-right sidebar. As to these limitations on discussion, our existing policy will be strictly enforced. We want to give all these community minded candidates a fair shake, after all.
Although we've already had some limited discussion of these candidates under the previous article, we've decided to start the conversation anew, and dedicate this thread solely to a discussion of the City Council Seat A applicants and their qualifications. Although we anticipate other news stories will occupy our attention in the days to come, we nevertheless intend to keep this article and thread available on the front page up to and including the September 27, 2006 final selection date. If all goes well, and an intelligent dialogue develops, we're also toying with the idea of forwarding a copy of this article, together with our reader comments, directly to each of our city council members, in advance of the two crucial calender dates. In this connection, we're sure that we won't have to remind anyone to "mind their manners."
Just to kick-start the discussion, we link here this morning's Kristen Moulton and Scott Schwebke articles, which begin, in a rudimentary way, the process of distinguishing these candidates one from another.
Have at it, gentle readers.
This is your soapbox, not ours.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Although he [Bobby G.] is supportive of the proposal by developer Chris Peterson, as a City Council member, he wouldn't hesitate to oppose the plan if it turned out to be a bad deal for Ogden.
CEO, Descente N.A.
September 12, 2006
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
The Great Shark Hunt:
Strange Tales from a Strange Time
1979Somebody posted it yesterday in a comment to the previous article thread: "Did you hear Bob Geiger put in for the city council?" We passed it off at the time as just another sarcastic reader wisecrack, consistent with the light-hearted banter that typically permeates Weber County Forum comments threads.
This morning, however, we're startled by this truly strange Standard-Examiner Section B headline story: Lift Ogden head wants council seat. We incorporate Ace Reporter Schwebke's lead paragraphs here:
OGDEN - The head of an organization in support of a controversial multimillion-dollar mountain resort east of Ogden and a downtown gondola has applied for a vacant City Council seat.On a more story-abundant news day, it's possible that we would merely file this story under "web oddities," or ignore it altogether. Having said that however, we do believe there are elements of this report that are worthy of some comment.
Bob Geiger, chairman of Lift Ogden and chief operating officer of Descente North America, has little chance of being selected due to his favoritism for the project, said his father, Curt Geiger.
However, he still wants the council to consider his qualifications which include a bachelor's degree in economics from the U.S. Naval Academy and a master's degree in business administration from Boston University, his dad said.
First, we believe Mr. Geiger's obvious bad-faith filing demonstrates once again the tendency of these people to abuse formal processes for the purpose of accomplishing ulterior motives. Even while recognizing that his chances of actually receiving a council appointment are virtually nil, Mr. Geiger nevertheless clogs the process with his own application (and grabs a Std-Ex headline article,) in an obviously self-serving effort plainly calculated to increase public credibility "down the road." Mr. Geiger hasn't always been a mind-numbed gondola zombie, he intends to remind us. At some recent point in his young life, credible academic institutions actually accorded him enough respect to award him a pair of academic degrees, after all... Bob Geiger should thus not be simply dismissed as just another raving gondolist lunatic.
Secondly, we believe proud papa Curt's above-cited fuzzy assurances concerning his son (Bobby's) potential open-minded judiciousness reflect clearly the very nature of the Lift Ogden modus operandi which leaves the townsfolk feeling queazy. Although he seems to suggest that his beloved son could conceivably nix the Peterson plan in a proper case, Curt nevertheless hedges with the phrase, "...if it turned out to be a bad deal for Ogden" -- as if such a set of facts could ever penetrate the gondolist mind of Bob Geiger, even in this inverted corner of the universe that is lovingly known as Emerald City.
Reporter Schwebke's story also reports that eleven other presumably-serious applicants (other than Bob Geiger) also applied for the vacant council seat prior to yesterday's application cut-off. We will attempt to obtain this list from the City Council Office as soon as possible, and will post it here as an update as soon as it is available.
In the meantime, what say our gentle readers about today's tempest in a teapot?
Update 9/12/06 6:04 p.m. MT: Just at the point where we were beginning to believe that the Emerald City Council Applicants List would remain a state secret over night, we receive the official list, together with today's council press release, from three different sources within five minutes:
Council Press Release
Council Applicants List (39 names - Yoiks!)
Let the games begin!
Sunday, September 10, 2006
For those daring but spiritually-decadent readers willing to violate the Holy Sabbath by going online today, we highlight two interesting tidbits from today's morning news:
For a stark example of the unpleasant but wholly-predictable consequences of slapdash hillside residential development, the Emerald City townsfolk need look no further than neighboring Mountain Green. This morning's Standard-Examiner story brings us up to date on the latest shenanigans in the Highlands West Subdivision landslide brouhaha.
It seems the homeowner of the now-abandoned and uninhabitable 5,600 sq. ft. residential structure is deeply into default on her mortgage loan, but the lender nevertheless refuses to perfect its security interest by foreclosure. Morgan County, (the government entity who approved the ill-considered development in the first place,) likewise refuses to take title to the property by quitclaim deed. They won't touch it with a ten-foot pole. Nobody wants to touch this problem property, as a matter of fact.
Meanwhile, the county is attempting to stick the costs of demolition and/or remodeling on the erstwhile homeowner, who has clearly "walked" from the property... and who is also repeatedly mentioning the much-dreaded "L- word" during selected conversations. For added spice, the down-slope neighbors are grumbling about all the "red tape," and appear to be developing something of a lynch-mob mentality, as the soggy uphill slope creeps, according to the natural (and entirely predictable) laws of physics, inexorably toward their own "upscale" (but "down-slide") properties.
Some day soon, a district court will decide who is ultimately responsible for the bone-headed acts of approving, funding and building a large "upscale" residential development on a steep pile of wet, inherently unstable hillside sediment. There's plenty of potential liability to go around, due to the co-operative participation of greedy developers, lenders, and compliant government planning and decision-making officials. Some (if not all) of these "players" will be ordered to reach into their pockets to cure this problem, no doubt. Our bet is that the good taxpayers of Morgan County will pick up a sizeable portion of the ultimate "tab, however;" and it's our prediction that the individual homeowner will be proven to have been the least culpable of all this whole motley and greedy lot.
A portent for the future of Emerald City? We sincerely hope not. Our own city council is smarter than that... right?
And for a look at Boss Godfrey's latest crackpot scheme to morph Emerald City into a giant urban amusement park, take a gander at this morning's front-page Standard-Examiner story. Son of the Nitty-gritty Dirt Band is reported to be the latest psuedo-celebrity white knight-errant evidently to arrive in Boss Godfrey's office to save we poor lumpentownsfolk from ourselves. A Giant Pond Arena is in our future, according to the ever-increasingly
The river-side property in question is reported to encompass some 50 acres or so. Our psychic "inner self" senses another Godfrey-style sweetheart developer deal coming up. Today's article is silent, unfortunately, about whether this project is contingent upon the construction of a gondola.
Don't let the cat get your tongues.
Update 9/14/06 8:21 a.m. MT: The Standard-Examiner provides this follow-up story this morning, concerning the travails of the property owner in Mountain Green:
"Hayes said demolishing her home will not prevent future ground movement, something neighboring land owners disagree with.
"The landslide will continue," Hayes said. "(Removing my home) cannot prevent any ground movement."
A mere glance at the our above header graphic, which illustrates the nature of the soil subsidence in her hillside neighborhood, shows why Mother Nature will continue to have her way with the Highlands West Subdivision, regardless of whether Mrs. Hayes's residential structure is demolished or not.
Update 9/17/06 5:05 p.m. MT: This story grows even more interesting with this morning's front-page Std-Ex story. Our home town newspaper does a pretty good job when they hire a real reporter to write up a story.
Friday, September 08, 2006
With *apologies to the Late Winston Churchill, this may be...
Something Up With Which We Should NOT Put.
Around Labor Day weekend, certain selected residents of 23rd Street received the following letter, on letterhead, from the Office of the Mayor, Ogden City:
Of course, neighborhoods being what they are, there was one resident who heard about this meeting and who had not received notice of it, and who then subsequently found that this was intentional. Small, selected groups of people were asked, by invitation only, to meet on the ninth floor. Some were included, some were excluded. It is said that there are to be more meetings, with different selected groups of 23rd Street neighbors, in the future.
August 29, 2006
Dear [23rd street addressees],
There has been a lot of discussion about a gondola system and resort coming to Ogden. The proposed route of the gondola goes up 23rd Street. Because this will have an effect on your property, I would like to meet with you to discuss the proposal, receive your feedback and answer any questions you may have.
The meeting is scheduled for September 5th at 5:00 p.m. in my office at 2549 Washington Boulevard, 9th floor. Please call Christy at 629-8211 to confirm your attendance.
Thank you for your interest.
Matthew R. Godfrey
Mayor of Ogden
At least one resident who wishes to remain anonymous and who did attend this September 5th meeting does not wish the gondola to go up 23rd Street, but the process, it seems, has progressed way beyond whether people do or do not want the gondola. According to this source, the meeting with the Mayor included particulars about where the gondola will go and what will happen.
For instance, our source states from the information given by the Mayor at this meeting that the poles will be 35 feet high and placed roughly 375 feet apart. They will go directly up the center of the street, erupting (my word) from a median which will be landscaped, thereby adding to the "attractiveness of the neighborhood," (purportedly the Mayor's words.)
A cherry picker, (coincidentally, "cherry picking" was the term used by at least one person to describe the selection process for attendees at these meetings,) will be brought in so that neighbors can ride up on it and actually see how high the cars will be. More trees will be planted, in an effort to give these neighbors privacy from riders of the gondola, our source reports.
Our source further informed us that, after listening to a bit of this, someone asked if the gondola were really going in, then, and that the Mayor allegedly replied that all they were waiting for was the Forest Service, which would allow it to go to the top of the mountain. And when someone stated that property values under the gondola would decline, the reported response to this was that they would increase, and that he wished it were running through his yard. Its operating hours will be roughly from 7 AM to 10 PM.
Our source went on to say that someone brought up the possibility that people would not wish to park at the Intermodal Hub, and would instead park in front of the residences on 23rd Street. The Mayor's reported answer to this was that parking permits, to park on the street in front of their houses, would be issued to the residents. The presentation, the source reported, also focused in large part about how great the skiing in Malan's Basin was going to be, since it was north facing.
After the meeting, our source reports, one of the neighbors said, "Well, we'd better get used to it."
Very odd, this. Very odd indeed. What has happened to the painstaking process for approval of this project outlined in the "Discovery Ogden" document, upon which Council and City Hall staff have worked themselves to the bone this past month? What has happened to the required public hearings, public processes, the input and decision from Weber State University, whose land, it was stated earlier this year, is absolutely crucial to this project? In short, what has happened to the mandated processes required to perform all steps necessary for this project to even reach the table? Has the Council signed the requested "pre-development agreement" granting the No-Zone Zone? Is it really true that all that is keeping the project from moving ahead is the permission of the Forest Service for access to the top of the mountain?
One would prefer to answer those last two questions with the word "no," and proceed to smooth things over with conciliatory statements as to how the process, which was mandated by the Ogden City Council, is still in place and will be followed. Yet for some of these neighbors, who do not keep up on these issues, and who, upon hearing the presentation about what was going to happen in their neighborhood, the inescapable conclusion was that they'd "better get used to it."
If events in this meeting actually did take place as indicated by our source, and if the alleged statements made by the Mayor during it are true, this is not to be borne. The public has received information indicating that a process will be followed in making the decision as to whether or not to even do this project, and these neighbors are being told basically that it is moving ahead, that there will be flowers in the median, parking permits, more trees, 35 foot poles every 375 feet, operating hours of 7 AM to 10 PM, and that that is their future.
Which is it?
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
By Dian Woodhouse
After the Pledge of Allegiance, the meeting opened with Councilman Stephenson reading a Joint Proclamation between the Council and Mayor deeming the week of September 15-23, 2006, as "Weber State University Homecoming Week." Founded in 1889, WSU has provided education in the professional, liberal, and technical areas, and has provided "exceptional teaching" and "extraordinary commitment" to its students. The University also, the proclamation went on, recognizes the uniqueness of the individual and fosters freedom of expression. The Proclamation was accepted by Dennis Miller.
Directly following this, there was the adoption of of Resolution 2006-21, approving the honorary designation of Harrison Boulevard from 36th Street to 46th Street as "Wildcat Way." Greg Montgomery presented the background research on this issue.
First, all the addresses will remain the same, and therefore Emergency Services, checked with as to how this would affect them, will not find this new name a problem. There is also another street called "Wildcat Lane," and this was also gone into and it was concluded that the similarity would not cause confusion. Mr. Montgomery also mentioned that some high schools in Ogden have streets named for them, and also mentioned Caesar Chavez Street. The motion to approve passed unanimously.
As there was a public hearing on this matter, several individuals spoke to the issue, all in favor. Dennis Miller, originally from Wisconsin, stated that in his hometown, the "city comes alive" during games in a very exciting and positive way. "We would feel more a part of the community," he said. Chris Bentley brought up the sign "Welcome to Ogden, Home of Weber State University," and mentioned that WSU was a "huge part of Ogden City." Peter Owen, the WSU Association President, informed us that this suggestion had come from the student association, which is all in favor of integrating the University community with the larger Ogden City one, and having us all join in in the pride felt for WSU, a statement echoed by Councilwoman Jeske.
The next order of business was was the vacation of the property at 23rd between Fillmore and Pierce by the city, and this was also a public hearing. Again, Mr. Montgomery presented for the Planning Commission.
Read the rest of Dian's article here.
The Salt Lake Tribune website also features this morning's Kristen Moulton story on this topic, and today's Scott Schwebke report is available for viewing via this link.
We'd like to thank Dian once again for providing yet another fact-filled installment in her exceptional City Council Notes series, and we invite our gentle readers to chime in with their own comments and observations.
Update 9/7/06 9:57 a.m. MT: For the sake of those readers who don't often visit our comments sections, we link this morning's Standard-Examiner story, in which Boss Godfrey mendaciously spins the issues regarding the Chapman planning commission rejection, contending, in pious seriousness, that the council's act of rejecting a militantly pro-gondolist political lackey from an important decision-making planning body on the eve of the presentation of the Godfrey/Peterson Landgrab Scheme somehow inserts "a new ideological standard" into the planning commission appointment process.
We also incorporate herein a link to a very succinct previously-linked essay, Ethics and Conflict of Interest, by ethicist Michael McDonald, which we believe sets forth in a nutshell the ethical standards that the council properly applied last Tuesday night.
We invite our readers to visit our below comments section, (where a robust discussion seems to be developing;) and accordingly urge our readers to offer their own comments, insight and analysis.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
The matter, of course, is the ratification by the council of the appointment of another of the "annointed ones." The Dustin Chapman planning commission appointment, tabled for further study during a regular council meeting on August 15, is set for a council vote tonight.
Read the full article here.
Update 9/5/06 9:44 p.m. MT: For those sitting on the edges of their seats, awaiting news of the results of tonight's planning commission ratification vote, we've just heard from Dian, who's covering tonight's meeting. The council has just emerged from closed session, and has returned to the council chamber, where the regular meeting is being re-convened. We will update this article to provide the final outcome, just as soon as we hear back from Dian.
Update 9/5/06 10:20 p.m. MT: Dian has called in with tonight's final vote. The council has taken the ethical high road, and denied Mr. Chapman's appointment by a 5-1 vote, Councilman Stephenson (surprise of surprises) being the sole dissenting vote. Dian will provide a full play-by-play description in an article to follow. Due to the late hour however, we do not expect to post it before tomorrow morning.
We'd like to thank Dian for her timely reporting, and also offer a Weber County Forum tip o' the hat to the council majority, for conforming to the highest ethical standards in this matter.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
By Steve Huntsman
Via Weber Sentinel News
Friday, 01 September 2006
Don’t skip breakfast before you open your new property tax notice. If you live in Weber County you’re about to have your heart skip a beat when you see the increases. Then say to yourself, “This is OK, I voted for these people and bonds. Didn’t I support the school bond increase? And didn’t I vote for the new consolidated 911 dispatch last year?”
As you unsteadily gather yourself off the floor you might say; “But wait a minute. The mayor I voted for said he was a conservative who would hold the budget. I was told the school bond tax, for the most part, was to remain constant because of older bonds simultaneously expiring. I was told my local city municipal tax was supposed to go down as a county-wide consolidated 911 dispatch tax went up.”
Well, guess what? We, the good citizens of Weber County, have just traded another pound of flesh, when no pound was to be taken, for services we already had. If our governing bodies believe we, the people, have less than a four-week-old memory, and like a wayward child, a good cuff will send us back into line and back into the voting trough, then I have news for them.
Please understand, they might be dealing with objective thinkers in Weber County who ‘do not agree’ with the deception. King George III once said about the colonizers in America, “A traitor is everyone who does not agree with me.” To this I cry, well then call me a traitor, and let’s make the most of it, because I, for one, ‘do not agree’ with my new property tax notice.
Most Weber County citizens now see our local legislators have caught the same disease as the ones we keep sending back to Washington. The symptoms of this contagious disease are rather easy to spot including: acting like a charitable king in order to maintain office; and accomplishing a goal by spending the public treasury, regardless of any budget or constraint, while duplicitously informing the people that ‘in truth’ they are lowering our taxes.
When our local legislators act this way with the public funds, they mirror the acts of a monarchal king in his stewardship. The legislator ruler knows that like King Louis XVI of France, if he does not please the mob, then he might get an all expense paid trip to Madame Guillotine in the next election.
“If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace,”-Samuel Adams
I’m upset at what has happened this year with our property taxes. I refer to the situation we are in as ‘taxation with false representation’ for two reasons.
First, the local school board asked us to vote to for a $95.3 million dollar school bond – nothing wrong with that, except they snuck the new tax through during a primary election – mainly a Republican primary – with a perceived low voter turnout.
Out of the 210,000 people who live in Weber County, only 6,000 (or less than 3 percent) of the entire county voted. In reality, all it took during this primary election to approve this bond was for about 1 percent of the population, or for simply all the local school teachers and their spouses to take five minutes out of their three month summer vacations and go to the voting trough. Now 210,000 residents now have higher taxes.
Second, we were sold in the newspapers that the multiple 911 dispatch centers would combine into one central dispatch center.
We were sold that voter approval would reduce the total tax burden. If we approved the new 911 center tax, the municipalities would further reduce their tax burden and we would all save money. Instead, in North Ogden and in several of the communities, the city tax level this year did the opposite — it increased.
When questioned about this, North Ogden Finance Director Debbie Cardenas openly admits, “Sure we reduced the tax for the 911 center, but we needed more funds for other things, so we were forced to increase our portion.”
I live in North Ogden and the new 911 tax on my home went from $0 to $88, while the city tax portion went from $667 to $722. As you can see, in reality there was no decrease here, only a total tax increase. The 911 tax was added as other city taxes increased.
Residents across the county are upset by this type of financial mismanagement being carried out by governing bodies. How long will we continue to believe the stories we are told when we vote?
I understand that my city utility bill is also now increasing from near $70 a month to $90 a month, but I’m receiving no new services. The facts are that the county is giving the cities more money this year than last. The cities are also receiving new tax windfalls as a direct result of the increased revenues on electricity and natural gas costs. Now some of our cities are even raising their portion of the property tax on top of the county certified rates.
Fortunately for you, the reader, these tax issues are political ones. But they do require your action in order change future outcomes. Tricking the public into raising these taxes, while telling us they were not raised, reminds me of the Chinese proverb. “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”
When a local legislator (a mayor, city council member or school board) acts like a king and degenerates by deception, partially for the sake of maintaining their power, and they do this by opening the public treasury, then methinks it’s time for them to forfeit their rights of leadership. Thank goodness we still can vote and have long-term memories in Weber County.
Steve Huntsman is a member of the Weber Sentinel News editorial board, serves a city councilman for the City of North Ogden and is an occasional contributor to Weber County Forum.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
This morning's Standard-Examiner reports that the Emerald City Council has retained Salt Lake Attorney H. Craig Hall, to represent the council's interests in connection with the "proposed" Peterson/Boss Godfrey landgrab. Mr. Hall is a partner in the firm Chapman and Cutler, LLC, and has substantial government experience in municipal law, as set forth in the thumbnail resume on his firm's website:
Craig Hall is a partner in Chapman and Cutler LLP's Salt Lake City office. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Hall held positions as City Attorney for South Salt Lake Corporation from 1998-2002; City Attorney for Murray City Corporation from 1977-1998 and Assistant City Attorney/Prosecutor for Murray City Corporation from 1975-1977. Mr. Hall has extensive experience in representing cities, towns and municipalities, including general operations, property acquisitions, planning and zoning, employee relations, municipal utilities (water, sewer and power) and police and fire departments.Mr. Hall also appears to have been somewhat entwined in the politics of our old Big-Government land-grabbing pals, the Utah League of Cities and Towns . He is credited as having been a "presenter" for the ULCT 2005 annual conference, and also apparently authored in 2002 a document entitled Eminent Domain Brochure, intended at the time to preserve the power of Big Government to seize Utah citizens' properties for the benefit of developers, and to "prevent the need for any eminent domain legislation."
Although it's a bit early in the game to predict the quality of representation that Mr. Hall will provide in connection with the Godfrey/Peterson scheme, we are not overjoyed at this point with the council's attorney selection. In a town (SLC) filled with real estate development lawyer expertise, it's not encouraging to know the council's chosen legal representative's experience is apparently founded on facilitating city administration-driven property acquistions.
As we learned from Tom Ellison's opening salvo in this matter, upcoming "negotiations" will be highly adversarial in nature.
We hope that Mr. Hall is up to the task of vigorously representing the interests of the taxpayers of Emerald City, and that he will not fall back to a city attorney mindset geared toward simply "making it all happen."
And what think our gentle readers about this?
Friday, September 01, 2006
There is a long editorial in this morning's SE that is truly remarkable for its, well, its silliness.
The editors begin by claiming that strong differences over the proposed sale of Ogden parklands to build a gondola system were "settling" when "along comes a nonsensical dust up over whether or not to remove Lift Ogden and Smart Growth Ogden yard signs."
"Fighting about removing yard signs? Really, does it get any sillier than this?"
Where to start. How could this "fight" have been avoided? Well, only two ways I can think of. (a) The Mayor could have not issued his call for SGO and LO to take their signs down. Had he not done that, no "fight" would have developed. [But elsewhere the Editorial complains that the mayor is being picked on.] Does the Editorial Board think the Mayor should not have issued his call to have the signs removed? They don't say. (b) SGO could have acceded to the Mayor's request and asked its people to remove their signs. Does the Editorial Board think citizens groups should meekly defer to mayoral requests whether they think those requests wise or not? The editors do not say. Absent either (a) or (b) above, how could the "fight" have been avoided? The editorial does not say.
And what "fight"? The mayor made his request. LO said yes. SGO said no, and explained why in a letter to the mayor. Fight? The SE editorial board has very low standards for defining what constitutes a fight. Even a rhetorical one.
The editorial goes on to complain that "People even duked it out over the Farmer's Market. How do you manage to fight of a Farmers Market," they ask? Well, here's how: the city turns the Market's management over to people who try to make significant changes in how the market operates, changes that a great many who usually take part in the market, and that a great many who come to the market to shop, did not like. That's how. Again, what remedy for the disagreement --- cast as "duking it out" [rhetorical overkill once again]--- do the editors offer? None. But the list of things the SE editorial board apparently thinks Ogdenites should not have differed strongly on include: mall redevelopment, the Wal- Mart project, Union Station, the RiverFront project, the Shupe Williams building matter, the Marshall White Center, Ft. Buenaventura, First Night celebrations, the Street Festival and more. "Much more."
They go on to complain that "too many noisemakers enjoy the sound of their own voices to suddenly become reasonable." This is too funny for words. The Editorial Board of the SE accusing others of making noise over public events? [Gee, I thought that was one of the things newspapers were supposed to do ... and do especially on their editorial pages.] The SE editorial board, which frequently provides one of its own members with space to print his own op ed pieces on public affairs, across from the editorial page he edits, complaining about other people liking too much the sound of their own voices? Are they serious?
The unfortunate rhetorical overkill that characterizes the editorial continues unabated: "the mayor can't blink without being criticized." Really? Examples? [None offered.] And then the editors sink into some unseemly whining: About the only thing that both sides agree on is that they hate the Standard Examiner for reporting such conflicts." This is simply put, nonsense. The Editorial Board's equating criticism of the paper's performance in reporting the news accurately and fairly with hating the SE is simply nonsense. If this editorial is what constitutes serious discussion at the highest levels of the SE, then Ogden is indeed in more trouble than we suspected. Why? Because [my opinion here], no city can be a truly healthy, vibrant and prospering one without a serious, independent and good daily paper. Can't happen. Not in our political system.
The editorial goes on to argue that Ogden would be much better off if people on both sides [of all the issues it mentioned above? Of only the gondola issue? The editorial does not say] would spend their time "pulling in the same direction." The problem is, dear Editorial Board, that people in Ogden cannot agree on which direction is the best one in which to pull.
There are, sprinkled here and there, almost at random, some good points. The editorial condemns those who post "scurrilous anonymous rants" on blogs.
The editorial piously announces that the SE approves of public debate and discussion [the entire previous editorial notwithstanding]: "Public debate is one thing. We celebrate that. Criticism and alternative ideas in the service of a worthy goal are good." And how, pray tell, are we poor pitiful subscribers supposed to tell the difference between a "fight" [baaaad, says the SE editorial board] and "public debate" and the offering of "alternative ideas" [gooood says the SE editorial board]? The editors do not say.
However unhappy it makes the editors of the SE, we have here in the US and in Utah even, and yes, a [more or less] functioning democracy. Americans disagree, often loudly, often passionately about public policy and the actions of their governments. Debate, discussion, sometimes loud and often passionate, kind of comes with the territory. It's part [but only part] of what makes a democracy vigorous, and alive and, in the end, successful. Certainly a newspaper and certainly a newspapers editorial board should be able to grasp that. If not.... well, then, all I can offer is the wisdom of President Harry Truman: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."