Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Skulduggery @ Emerald City Hall

By Debbie Dew

In connection with the Ogden City/Chris Peterson/Matt Godfrey Gondola conundrum, I found this letter to Tom Ellison and John Patterson from Bill Cook most interesting. It is one of the many documents that surfaced due to the Sierra Club's GRAMA request.

It's dated Oct. 27, 2006:

"Per the discussion that we had yesterday in our Leadership meeting (Council Leadership and Mayor), the Council will be proceeding with the adoption of a resoluion regarding the 'project'. The anticipated date for adoption of the resolution is November 14th. This means that we need your feedback right away (no later than Friday, November 3rd). The date chosen is important given that the Planning Commission is moving forward with public hearings on Nov 1st regarding the mixed use zone and sensitive areas and the Mount Ogden community plan will become very public again in November (according to Greg Montgomery). Thanks for your assistance." and signed by Bill Cook.

There are so many aspects to this letter that point to deceit and betrayal of the Council:

1. Ellison's reply suggested changes that they wanted made to the resolution, and those changes were made to accommodate them!

2. Ellison indicated that they were almost ready to meet with the council, but not in a public meeting. They want to meet "under the radar" so as to not make any "noise." WOW!! More secret meetings behind closed doors! What subterrean scheme have they hatched now that won't bear the light of day? We know that the multi-use and sensitive overlay zoning ordinances were authored by Ellison to accommodate Peterson's project -- What else are they planning to do? Sneakily buy the golf course in the darkness before anyone can stop the give away? If Mayor Godfrey is stupid enough to do that, he would need to move out of Ogden! As strongly as people feel about selling the golf course, I can imagine that life would be very uncomfortable for him and his family in Ogden!

3. Bill Cook in his letter said: "Per the discussion that we had yesterday in our Leadership meeting (Council Leadership and Mayor)." So what does that mean?

a. Were Garcia and Wicks there? Did they go along with the scheme? Did they inform the Council? Are they playing games with the welfare of Ogden? That letter may explain why we are getting mixed messages from Garcia and Wicks. This is very serious and a grave concern in light of all the decisions that will be made this year with their inherent impact for generations to come.

b. "The Council will be proceeding with the adoption of a resoluion regarding the "project". There's the proof that the mixed-use and the sensitive overlay zoning along with that resolution are being pushed for approval to make it easier for Peterson to take control of the golf course! How can anyone say that those mixed-use and sensitive overlay zoning ordinances and that resolution have nothing to do with the Chris Peterson project?!

c. Who does Bill Cook REALLY represent -- the Council? Or the Administration? It appears as though he is working for both sides at the same time! That's a very precarious position! Is he the reason that the Council doesn't seem to do anything proactive? No wonder the citizens are getting screwed and the Council looks like a bunch of fools! Has the Mayor compromised EVERYONE who works in that Municpal Bldg.? It appears that you can't trust a damn soul down there!

d. Stephenson and Safsten tried to justify their votes for that resolution by stating: That many hours had been spent on that resolution and the steps. Excuse me! In life and business, lots of projects have hundreds of hours expended on them only to be dropped when they are not what's needed. Their reasoning is faulty and very frightening whereas they are policy makers for the City. A word of advice to them: "When something is wrong, it's wrong! Spending a lot of time on it, doesn't make it right!" The process with its defining steps is still in place and can be followed -- they are established no matter what happens to the resolution! So really time was not wasted and the best course of action for the City prevailed.

WHERE IS THE LIGHT that Jeske promised us? We really need a light on this Administration and the Chris Peterson project! Look at what was uncovered by the light that the Sierra Club put on the Chris Peterson deal! CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS SHINE THOSE FLASHLIGHTS THAT JESKE GAVE YOU LAST YEAR ON THE CHRIS PETERSON PROJECT!!

A WORD OF ADVICE: You need to watch Bill Cook and your staff. They almost sold you down the river with that resolution that you had the good sense to table last November. WATCH THEM CLOSELY!

Debbie Dew

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Re-defining "High Adventure"

We find an apt headline on this morning's Standard-Examiner front page. "Adventure defined" blares this morning's Std-Ex story title. "Re-defined" would possibly be an even more apt description, but (as our regular readers already know) we really do hate to nit-pick.

Scott Schwewbe reports that Boss Godfrey held an exclusive media press conference yesterday at the downtown "Rec Center." We use the term "exclusive," because reporters from Weber County Forum were for some reason not invited to attend. We're sure that this was merely an inadvertant oversight. We're sure we weren't overlooked on purpose. It matters not however that we were thus unable to send our own reporter to cover this event, because our adopted surrogate reporter, Ace Reporter Schwebke, apparently showed up, notepad in hand, to do the reporting for us.

Our favorite Std-Ex reporter provides this morning a journalistc walk-through of the two-story "crown jewel," and describes a series of "high adventure" features. We won't wast band-width enumerating them again, but we confess a couple of the the listed features caught our adventuresome eye, particularly this one -- which definitely got the adrenaline flowing:

"Glow-in-the-dark miniature golf" (no, we did not make this up -- read Scott's article.)

Conjure up in your gentle minds this image, if you will:

Boss Godfrey... navigating our little indoor, dayglo miniature golf course dressed to the nines in tradtional golfing attire, tiny knickers, miniature argyle sweater-vest and tam o' shanter, with Bill Glasmann (borrowed from the Emerald City Economic Development Department,) trailing behind as caddy, hauling a set of "junior" golf clubs, (rented from the "sports store" pro shop.)

And we'll note in passing the addition of another Mexican restaurant and pizza joint to the downtown Emerald City landscape. JUST what's needed in downtown Emerald City we think. We truly don't know how Boss Godfrey and his minions manage to come up with all these wonderful ideas.

We've re-read this morning's article several times, and can't really find any of these features we would call "high adventure." Of course we're mainly into outdoor receational sports, however. Being buffeted around in a 120 mph wind tunnel thirty feet above the floor may be something close to adventure, we guess, especially taking the $15/minute cost into account. We suppose the latter includes all insurance premiums.

Still, we think calling Peewee's new playhouse a "high adventure" venue has been pushing the definition of that term more than a little bit. It was smart for the suits on the ninth floor to rename the place the Salomon Center, we think. A Weber County Forum tip o' the Tam o' Shanter to Boss Godfrey for talking Salomon into slapping their brand name on it.

Today's article reports the center will open for business in May. We hope it works. It's gotta work. The taxpayers on on the hook for this to the tune of $19 million and change. We'll probably know a year or so from now whether the folks from Amer Corp. will wnat to keep the Salomon trade-name on the front door.

So how about it, gentle readers? Can we see, by a show of hands, how many will be rushing down there at the grand opening? Day-glo miniature golf, anyone? High scorer picks up the tab for margaritas at the Costa Vida Grill!

And no! We are NOT irked that we didn't get invited to yesterday's media press conference... not unless we missed out on free sandwiches and hors d'ouvres.

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Step One in the Banning of Evil Ticket Quotas

We offer a hearty Weber County Forum Tip o' the Hat to Utah House Representative Neil Hansen this morning, for the progress of his House Bill 255. This bill would, at long last, ban the evil practice of requiring Utah police officers to write a specific number of traffic tickets within a set period of time. It's high time we think, for the Utah legislature to jump on the bandwagon with this.

The Standard-Examiner reports that Rep. Hansen's bill cleared committee yesterday. The next step will be a vote on the house floor.

We urge our gentle readers to contact their House Representatives, and demand the banning of traffic citation quotas in this state. Not only do ticket quotas distract Emerald City's Finest from doing real police work, they provide an unfair and arbitrary foundation for municipal revenue. Ticket quotas also tend to promote the issuance of citations for frivlolous violations, deprive police officers of necessary discretion in close cases, and undermine citizen-police agency trust.

And make no mistake. A system of traffic citation quotas remains in force in Emerald City. Ask any street cop. A set number of traffic citations is part of every Emerald City police officer's monthly performance evaluation. This includes plainclothes detectives and officers on "special details."

Arguing in opposition to the bill yesterday before the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee were Boss Godfrey munchkins Mark "Justice Court Cash Cow" Johnson, and Assistant Chief Wayne Tarwater, the Std-Ex reports. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they testified (with completely straight faces, we suppose) that Emerald City standards for traffic citation issuance have nothing at all to do with raising municipal revenue, but are intended merely as a means of evaluationg officer performance.

Uh-huh, we say. Tell that whopper to the lady who emailed us last summer, complaining of being ticketed for a "rolling stop" violation, as she crept out of her quiet Emerald City neighborhood cul-de-sac at under 1 mile per hour.

The Salt Lake Tribune's Kristen Moulton reports an interesting nuance regarding yesterday's house committee hearing:

"Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner, a new member of the Utah Senate, attended part of the committee hearing, but left early."

Sometimes it's possible to measure who is NOT in actual opposition to a bill by noting who didn't actually testify against it.

So let's all get on the stick and contact our state representatives. For those readers with extra time on their hands this morning, there's nothing stopping you from contacting every House representative on the above House roster. What the heck. We know our state legislators crave our citizen input, especially those House Reps in Utah's "outback."

The floor is open for anybody who'd like to throw in their own 2¢. Frivolous ticket horror stories, anyone? Is there anyone who reads this board who hasn't received a frivolous ticket? Anybody who feels they were victimized by Emerald City's ticket quota policy last summer, when some of Emerald City's Finest upped their attention to ticket writing, as a "demonstration" of a ticket quota policy in action?

Let us feel our readers' pain.

The floor is open.

Update 1/27/07 7:43 a.m. MT: We provide this link to a KUTV News clip of last night's TEEVEE broadcast on this topic. We think Rep. Hansen makes an exellent point: If they (opponents of the bill) don’t have quotas why is there a problem with the bill?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Kudos to the Emerald City Council

Council Gives the Peterson Non-proposal Nonsense the Heave-ho.

By Gentle Reader Sharon

Well, kudos to the Council tonight! Of course, we shouldn't have had to be at that meeting to discuss a 'process' for the non-proposal and pipedream of Godfrey/Peterson/Ellison in the first place!

However, we were there..a full house too.

Only one person spoke in favor of the woman seemed a bit confused by the whole 'process and resolution' and didn't know which side of the fence she was on.

We all know what happens to people who sit on the fence...they get splinters in their bums.

The rest of were adamantly opposed to giving one more moment of time, energy and taxpayers' money to this scam.

I thought that Susan Van Hooser was articulate and right on the ball tonight. She shot out the gate to be first to propose the motion to vote AGAINST (not just 'table') the resolution. This was seconded by Doug Stephens...then Stephenson and Safsten immediately countered with their motion to approve the resolution with a lot of high falutin' words in defense of the resolution smudged so heavily with Ellison's fingerprints.

However, cooler heads prevailed and the vote was properly taken on the Van Hooser motion and it passed 5 to 2...with all in favor EXCEPT Stephenson and Safsten. No surprise there.

There was applause for this clear headed Council as the meeting ended.

Many of us went up to shake hands with the members and thank them for LISTENING to the people. Ms Van Hooser said that since she's been on the Council as of Sept 29...she's rec'd only ONE remark in favor of the Godfrey/Peterson gondola/land grab. She eloquently reminded the Council that the people's wishes must be heeded.

A young man from Bonneville high school stepped to the podium to ask if the people can vote on this non-proposal and one other question, which I don't recall at this moment. He answers forthcoming from the Council he turned away and sat down.

That's a question that has been asked many times of this Administration over other issues...the answer, young man, is this: "This is a Republic, and the mayor was elected to make decisions for us." That from the mouth (either side) of the Grand Wizard his very own self.

It was so refreshing to have Boy Scouts from three troops there tonight. They led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and stayed for the entire meeting. Two Scoutmasters spoke. The young men were working on their Citizenship badges. One speaker alluded to them and suggested that Chris Peterson should be attending these meetings but HE wouldn't earn a Citizenship badge. Laughter ensued.

I thought that the remarks made tonight were passionate in defense of Ogden's beautiful natural treasures. I believe the last speaker said it all: "Put NOT FOR SALE signs on our precious open spaces".

Chair Garcia really took hold tonight. The best I've seen him in this role. Also Vice Chair Wicks enumerated all the times that Godfrey told the Council plans were forthcoming...and nary a word...since '05.

Some reminded the Council that Peterson himself has said that if WSU doesn't sell their land...'nothing happens'...well, let us hope WSU follows the Council's lead and just says NO.

It is time, as Ms Van Hooser reminded us, to get on with other important business: The Junction, River Project and FrontRunner is coming.

Will we be ready?

A Gentle Reader's Fresh Idea

By Tec Jonson

Here's a fresh idea. Let's suppose we as a city decide we may want a lift to Malan's as an attraction and to add some recreational opportunities to the already ample possibilities of adventure available here in The OGD. Why not exercise eminent domain over Peterson's land, annex it as municipal recreation lands, and contract with a real mountain resort developer to build a small educational wilderness outpost that can be used by the locals of all ages and income levels to learn to ski and snowboard, rock and ice climb, learn about eco-initiatives and the mountain environment. That is a win-win for all and we can send Peterson packing. Our city would really be on the map for committing to recreation and education as a foundation for civic pride. This instead of selling off valuable public open space for the benefit of a few. The property values in a city so committed would soar the same as claimed by the LO choir wthout bringing in wealthier-than-thou outsiders and we enhance the Ogden experience for those already here.

I am sick of the council squirming under the pressure of scaring off investment in Ogden if they vote this down. The mayor and Geigers assume things in Ogden are still in a decline and we need more stuff to prove we have a real city here. BS. I meet people everyday who have moved here recently and none of them care one bit for an Urban Gondola. Most are completely unaware or just barely have heard something about it.

The council behaves as though there has yet to be any analysis of this thing. I have personally along with others brought to the attention ogf the council through letters many flaws in the plan. It amazes me that still the logistical and operational hangups with an Urban Gondola system alone should kill this thing. I would be glad to interview a representative from Doppelmayer and pose some of my key questions to him that I have given to the council. This thing is indefensible yet no one in any position of power and influence wants to get smart about it and get these questions answered once and for all. We live in a time when logical resolution to ANYTHING is never enough to quiet the promoters. The Intelligent Design crowd are evidence of a disease in our media saturated culture where no one gets facts from study. It is just too demanding. They want promotional language and shoot-from-the-hip resolutions to everything. I am SICK OF IT ALL. Send this fool and his pocketed mayor packing.

The above article has been liberated from a lower comments section, pursuant to our Weber County Forum Comment Rescue Program.

Mr. Jonson raises some interesting questions here, we think.

What say our gentle readers?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Emerald City Council Aproaches "Silliness Hat-trick"

The Emerald CIty Council performs yet another Monty Python skit.

Updated 1/23/07 6:30 a.m.

In the latest demonstration of its recent penchant for engaging in useless and idle acts, the Emerald City Council will tomorrow solemnly consider a resolution outlining the decision-making process for a multimillion-dollar development project involving the possible sale of Mount Ogden Golf Course. This matter was originally slated for a vote on Nov. 14, but was tabled, to get more citizen input. So reports Scott Schwebke in this morning's Standard-Examiner story.

The fact that there isn't an actual proposal on the table requiring the council's grand "spinning of wheels" tomorrow evening doesn't seem to faze the council at all. Even in the absence of any actual proposal, the council is nevertheless steaming full speed ahead, in classic bureaucratic rudderless ship-fashion.

Our gentle readers will recall the recent decision of our city council to approve the "proposed" sale of the Shupe-Williams property to a buyer who later proved to be uninterested. They'll also remember last week's story, wherein the council added a $1 million dollar grant request to its legislative "wish-list," in order to move the St. Anne's homeless shelter "out of sight and out of mind." Only later was it revealed that The St. Anne's Board of Directors had neither agreed to this proposal, nor did they have the means to raise the extra cash needed to make the move.

Tonight's proposed resolution, aimed at responding to a proposal which has not yet been received, appears to be a reprise of the last two oblique mal-perfomances; and the council seems destined for a sillyness hat-trick. Recent council perfomance is of such a nature as to make Monty Python blush. The council is hell-bent, it would seem, to prove, once and for all, its absolute cluelessness.

Well... "hellbent" may be too strong a term. The council still has time to salvage its dignity and take this matter entirely off-calendar. The opportunity still remains for the council to drop the matter entirely -- or wait until a tangible proposal has been received from the elusive Chris Peterson. And in that connection, we're giving our readers another needle. If you haven't yet contacted the council to register your objections, time is running out. One of our gentle readers sent us the text of a SmartGrowthOgden letter over the weekend, which accurately summarizes the citizen task-at-hand. And when our gentle readers DO contact the council, be sure to let them know why tomorrow's "process steps" resolution is premature. According to today's Std-Ex story, "...most of the public input he has received regarding the resolution has centered on the merits of Peterson’s [nonexistant] plan and not how the council should evaluate it."

Snoozers will be losers, as the old saying goes. Council contact info is available (as always) in the Weber County Forum upper-left sidebar.

Who will be the first to comment?

Blockbuster Update 1/22/07 10:26 a.m. MT: According to this just-received Ogden Sierra Club press release, the above-mentioned "process steps resolution," on calendar for tomorrow's council meeting, was modified from its original form at the request of Chris Peterson's attorney, Tom Ellison. See, e.g., COUNCIL RESOLUTION WAS MODIFIED AT REQUEST OF PETERSON'S ATTORNEY. Gentle readers should also be sure to carefully read ALL the attachments and links.

Yet certain council members and staff keep on telling us tomorrow's council action is "generic," and has nothing to do with Chris Peterson. Oh my.

A Weber County Forum Tip o' the Hat to the Sierra Club's Dan Schroeder for providing this useful information. We don't know what they're paying Dan; but we suspect it ain't nearly enough.

Update 1/23/07 6:30 a.m. MT: Scott Schwebke reports the basic facts of the Ellison-requested resolution alterations in this morning's Standard-Examiner story; and for one danged fine land-grab analysis, be sure to check out Charlie Trentelman's excellent opinion piece.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Too Much Affection for the Swag

A Weber County Forum tip o' the hat goes out this morning to the Standard-Examiner editorial board for this morning's top-drawer editorial, bearing the catchy headline, "Lawmakers who bag the swag".

For starters, the editorial highlights Governor Huntsman's surprise announcement last week, wherein firm ethics rules would be imposed, presumably by executive order, upon the Executive Branch of Utah Government:
In Utah, Gov. Jon Huntsman heard the call for reform. In his State of the State speech last week, he surpirsed his audience by announcing he would launch new ethics rules in the executive branch. From now on:
  1. Executive branch employees will be banned from receiving gifts.
  2. Any executive branch employee who leaves government srvice will be prohibited for two years -- a so called "cooling off" period -- from returning to lobby government.
  3. The governor is also banning nepotism in hiring within the executive branch.
Imagine that: leadership on ethics reform.
Yes. Imagine that, indeed.

And the Std-Ex editors follow up with this delicious couple of paragraphs, in which they sum up the legislative ethics reform "game," without pulling even a single punch:
The House has repeatedly passed ethics reform -- virtually every year. But those bills always die in the Senate side and so never make it to the governor's desk for a signature. Cynics say the House enjoys the political benefits of passing the legislation, knowing they'll never have to conform because the Seante will do the wet work of killing bills after the fact.

Whatever. At least the House tempts fate by going through the motions. Over on the Senate side, the majority has too much affection for the swag.
Being the curious type, we navigated over to the Utah Common Cause Website, where we learned, among other interesting things, that the Utah Legislature's ethics rules are among the weakest in the nation:

  1. Utah has no non-partisan, independent enforcement of any laws regarding governmental ethics, campaign finance or lobbying.
  2. There are no limits on how much money an individual or special interest can contribute to candidates running for office in Utah - the Sky's the Limit.
  3. Candidates and Party committees can transfer money from their own campaign funds to other candidates, thus "laundering" campaign money.
  4. An elected official can receive up to $49 worth of benefits each day from a lobbyist without his/her name ever being revealed as the recipient of those benefits.
  5. Utah law requires only a minimal disclosure of conflicts of interest for public officials, and does not have a comprehensive code of ethics, which directs them as to what they can or can't do.
  6. With no law against the current "revolving door" system, public officials can move directly from a government job to the employ of those they previously regulated.
The Standard-Examiner is of course NOT the first northern Utah newspaper to editorialize on this subject. The Provo Herald chimed in on this topic on Thursday, followed by a good editorial rant in yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune.

We'll say that it's pure joy for us to witness the northern Utah print media flogging the Utah Senate leadership by name. Senator Valentine and Representative Curtis definitely have their work cut our for them, we think. And we'd love to know how these two state legislators can so confidently assert that lobbyists on the hill have been neither"currying undue favor," nor influencing votes," inasmuch as current "rules" remain virtually non-existent.

And for those gentle readers who'd like to chip in their own 2¢, we provide the Utah Senate and House contact links here and here. Be sure to let your state senators and house reps know exactly what you think. As we all know, they just love to hear from their constituents, and absolutely crave citizen input.

Comments, anyone?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Emerald City Council Hoodwinked Again

SE Scores Scoop on St. Anne's Story

By Curmudgeon

Now this is a newspaper hitting on all eight cylinders. The Standard-Examiner has a front page story by Scott Schwebke revealing that the St. Anne's board is "not on board" with the move, that it has not told the Godfrey administration that it favors the move or even that it can carry it out successfully, and that it has pretty much been caught off guard by the city's asking for a $1 million state subsidy to pay for part of the move.

Two passages are particularly telling. Here's one: "The council placed the request on the list after being assured by Ogden Chief Administrative Officer John Patterson that the St. Anne's board is supportive of the building project."

Here's the other: "City Councilwoman Amy Wicks, who has asked Patterson several times for guarantees that St. Anne's board supports the project, said the proposal may have to be removed from the city's legislative wish list."

One of the St. Anne's people noted that there is as yet nothing for the board to indicate it favors, since there is as yet "no proposal" on the table. [Hmmmm... sound familiar? The administration claiming support for and asking for action on a proposal that does not yet exist...? Imagine that.]

Looks like Mr. Patterson and the Godfrey administration [aka The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight] has managed to reprise its stirling performance in the Shupe-Williams property sale matter, where it assured the Council the sale was a done deal, the Council approved the sale only to discover the the people the council had approved selling to didn't want to buy the property. And now, the Godfrey administration has assured the Council the St. Anne's board is fully on board and committed to the move, the Council on that assurance adds a million dollar grant to it's lobbyist's want list at the legislature, only to discover that what the administration had told it is not so.

We have to start wondering, and I hope the members of the Council are now wonder, how many times the Godfrey administration is going to hang them out to dry, is going to assure them of "facts" that are not facts, to give them guarantees as a means of urging the council to action that turn out to be worthless. Why would anyone take the Godfrey administration's word, delivered through its spokesmen like Mr. Patterson, as good any more?

Finally, kudos to the SE and Mr. Schwebke for this morning's story. Damn fine work, seems to me. Damn fine work.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Couple of Quick Reminders

Just a couple of quick reminders for our gentle readers:

1) An Emerald City Planning Commission work-session is scheduled for 5:00 this afternoon for the purpose of discussing Boss Godfrey's controversial sensitive zone overlay zone and so-called mixed-use ordinances:

When: Wednesday, January 17, 2007, 5 – 7pm
Where: 2549 Washington Blvd., Room #310 Ogden, UT 84401

Gentle reader Dan S. earlier provided us an overview of tonight's commission agenda, which comment can be viewed here.

Dan S. also sent us some additional material this morning relevant to tonight's worksession, so interested readers should be sure to check out the following documents, which we assume to have been submitted on behalf of the Ogden Sierra Club:

Although the commission rules prohibit public comments during this work-session, the meeting will be nevertheless open to the public. We do hope a few steely-eyed Weber County Forum readers will plan to attend this event, and perhaps report back to us on commission discussions and actions which transpire during this evening's work meeting.

2) We would also like to remind our readers that the clock is running for the public to submit their comments on the Peterson development proposal to the Emerald City Council. The council has requested your input, and comments received by the council prior to January 23 of this year will be considered by the council as it prepares a resolution outlining steps toward reviewing the Peterson proposal -- assuming it ever arrives at all.

Council contact information is available in the WCF upper-left sidebar; and for the convenience of our readers, we also provide that Emerald City Council contact link here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

An Emerald City Legislative Wish-list

We'd like to draw attention to this morning's Standard-Examiner story , wherein Scott Schwebke reports that the Godfrey administration has compiled a Utah legislative wish-list. The Std-Ex is labeling it a city council wish list actually; but we already know who controls the city council agenda, don't we? (Helpful hint: NOT the city council.)
OGDEN - The City Council will consider adopting a wish list tonight that it hopes the Utah Legislature will tackle during its 2007 session to address transportation funding and eminent domain, among other issues.
That's right, folks. Boss Godfrey has been pining over the opportunity to get back into the property condemnation business. Draconian public projects require draconian government powers, and the uber-draconian Boss Godfrey craves as much of the latter as he can get.

Word on the legislative street is that neoCON State Senator Scott Jenkins (Godfrey's cousin, believe it or not) will be carrying the eminent domain ball in the legislature this year. Jenkins has been on the public stump recently, touting the sheer wonderfulness of the power of eminent domain loudly and often. Senator Jenkins' bill, we're told, would look something like the bill that's on tonight's council wish-list:
The city wants a threshold of "receptiveness" that requires at least two-thirds of property owners representing at least half of the land area to either be under an option to buy or willing to sell before eminent domain can be used to obtain remaining hold-out parcels.
That's some improvement, we say. Instead of having one little twerp on the city hall ninth floor making decisions to condemn your private property for transfer to some fat-cat developer, Godfrey, Jenkins and their neoCON ilk would turn the decision over to two-thirds of your caring neighbors.

Among other stories that's been making the rounds in the Weber County luncheon circuit is that Senate Majority Leader Curt Bramble is onboard with the Godfrey/Jenkins' neoCON eminent domain revival. We actually heard this same meme over the phone this morning, from one of our otherwise-astute Emerald City councilmembers.

Being the curious and skeptical type, we called Curt Bramble, who was happy to give us the "straight skinny."

And here's what Senator Bramble told us:

"Yes," he will support a limited return to RDA-empowered eminent domain. He said he'd even co-sponsor "the right bill," in the event that Senator Jenkins (or anybody else) can come up with something reasonably compatible with traditional American property rights concepts. He explained to us his threshold for support, and it goes like this:

1) Any new legislation would have to be aimed at correcting "true blight;" and Senator Bramble would insist on extremely strict standards.

2) He would embrace the "threshold of 'receptiveness'" concept but the numbers would conform to a 90% standard, according to these three factors common to an eminent domain target area:

Residential properties:
  • The relative number of property owners;
  • The relative percentage of property acreage, and;
  • The relative gross fair market value of property interests.
In the case of commercial properties, he'd be willing to fall back to the 2/3 standard.

Yeah. we guess you might say that even Curt Bramble is onboard the eminent domain bandwagon -- in a VERY limited sense.

As Senator Bramble told us, he'd create a "high bar" to the use of eminent domain in the future; and we agree with him on this. Applying these standards in the real world, we think very few overly-ambitious land-grabs would succeed.

So what about it, gentle readers? Do any of you now consider Senator Bramble to be a private property rights sell-out? (We don't.)

And what about the other items on the mayor's laundry list? It would be interesting to hear our gentle readers' own analysis; and we thus open the floor for comment.

Monday, January 15, 2007

King's Message Rings True for Today's Ills

By Star Parker
Scripps Howard News Service

Via the Deseret Morning News

The characteristic of greatness — whether we are talking about a great man or great art — is that it transcends time and place. It dips into that which is universally and eternally true and applies those truths to a particular moment and a particular place.

Re-reading, after many reads, Dr. Martin Luther King's words of Aug. 28, 1963, the famous "I Have a Dream" speech, his greatness rings clearer than ever.

Because King did indeed touch the heavens on that day and pull down kernels of eternal truths about freedom and the condition of man, those words of 40-plus years ago have relevance to our struggles today. They can serve as guidance in these difficult times.

Am I saying that King's message from 1963 can guide us in today's conundrums — about our embroilment in Iraq, about the Middle East, about America's role in the world? Yes, I am saying this.

The power of King's message, the unquestionable reason that the movement he led was successful, was his appeal to the truth of freedom and its universal applicability to all men.

By identifying and appealing to the freedom of man as a universal and eternal truth, and going on to make clear that this truth defined what this great country is about, then King's conclusion — the intolerability of conditions that denied any American full participation in this freedom — could not be denied.

Beyond this central message, King made other very important points in this speech.

One of key importance was that responsibility for solving a problem does not necessarily imply direct responsibility in having caused that problem.

Although the responsibility clearly was in the hands of those Americans with power, overwhelmingly white Americans, to fix the problems in the country that limited the availability of freedom to all, this did not mean that all those same Americans were racists or had caused the problem to begin with.

The responsibility for fixing these problems came, rather, with being the beneficiaries of a country whose destiny and identity was fundamentally linked with the enterprise of freedom.

In King's words, white Americans "have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom."

He appealed to blacks not to allow suffering to translate into bitterness nor into categorical hate of white Americans. "Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred."

Instead, King exhorted black Americans to "Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive."

So Dr. King accomplished a lot of business that August day in 1963.

He recognized the universal truth of human liberty. He recognized our country as a unique vessel of that truth. He appealed to Americans with power to assume their responsibilities as the beneficiaries of liberty to make this a better and freer country. And he appealed to black Americans to assume a different kind of responsibility — to not allow themselves to be destroyed by unearned suffering but to be redeemed by it.

The prophet is a lonely man because he brings a message that people do not want to hear.

Dr. King's activism was not welcomed by most whites and a good many blacks.

There is natural appeal in the inertia of the status quo. Change and assumption of new responsibilities and challenges are welcomed by few.

Turmoil tells us that something is wrong and we have no choice but to open our eyes and ears and assume the responsibilities that are cast upon us.

I am, of course, not a military tactician and am in no position to speculate about how best to use American troops to midwife a portion of the world that clearly needs help in becoming more modern, more civil and freer.

However, I can say, that I am in complete sympathy with our president who senses that America has a unique and special role to play in this world. We cannot shirk responsibilities that are clearly ours.

I cannot help but think that it is not an accident that the United States stands so alone, despite many other nations that claim to have similar commitments to and stakes in civility and liberty. The way they act makes clear that they don't.

The truths that Dr. King articulated in so crystal clear a way in 1963 continue to resound today. Freedom is what this country is about. We have no choice. It is our heritage. We thrive and prosper from it. And we cannot avoid the responsibilities that come with it in our engagement with the rest of the world.

Star Parker is president of CURE, Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education and author of "White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay"


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Kicking Off a New Utah Legislative Session

Utah legislative news is splashed all over the Standard-Examiner this morning, with excellent bill agenda wrap-ups here and here.

We've had private conversations with several local legislators recently, and we think the Std-Ex gets it right with this Associated Press piece. Utah legislators have an extra $1.6 billion dollars burning a hole in their pockets this year. Dealing with the current budget surplus will be a major battle ground; and Utah's lawmakers are scrambling madly to dole it out.

For our own part, we're leaning toward Governor Huntman's proposal, which would yield the taxpayers a $100 million tax cut, and yet increase public education spending by $382 million. This plan would be fine with us, so far as education spending increases are specifically earmarked for teacher salaries and other specified needs, and not siphoned off and applied to our already top-heavy and redundant school administrate functions. We think this year would be a fine time also, for the legislature to look into consolidating local school-board authority. Throughout Utah we have cadres of highly paid administrators performing identical tasks in a variety of local school districts. The public school management system is horribly inefficient. Now may be the time, we think, to look into following the private corporate model, and to start consolidating the school district management function into a more centralized authority.

We note that the Std-Ex editors are still obsessing over Senator Greiner's Hatch Act "problem". We think they're making mountains out of molehills, and that they simply need to get used to the idea that Stuart Reid is NOT our new State Senator, despite their best efforts to install their neoCON Golden Boy into the Senate 18 seat. Case precendent has already been set in the Perkins Case. There can be no turning back for the Justice Office of Special Council, we think, regardless of their perceived need to micro-manage Utah government from Washington. We're 100% certain Greiner will prevail in court, if the need arises. So we think the Standard-Examiner should just get over it, and move on to more useful and worthy public crusades -- such as screeching for less secrecy in government.

We invite our readers to offer their own comments on any of the above, or simply regard this thread as open-topic.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Weekend Open Thread

Your blogmeister has been tied up with RL business all day long. But that shouldn't prevent our gentle readers from having a dedicated place to speak their minds, while Rudi is away from the computer.

We'll probably doll up this page with a few news article links when we find the time to do so; but in the meantime...

Chat away!

Update 1/23/07 6:18 p.m. Mt: Breaking news for our many Hill AFB readers. Drop-dead gorgeous USAF Sgt. Michelle Manhart has been stripped" of her military duties," according to this Yahoo News report. We're gonna assume all available Playboy Magazine copies are already sold out @ the base PX.

What a hottie!

Active duty military personnel of all branches of the military services on combat duty around the world are now hoping Sgt. Manhart will be transferred to their unit, ordering each of them "give me twenty-five," and become their platoon leader. In honor of military traditon, We're all trying to keep our flags at half-staff, while being inclined to stand at full military parade attention.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Upcoming Emerald City Events

From time to time we like to promote cultural events which we believe might be of particular interest to our gentle readers. In this connection we announce an ongoing exhibit and several upcoming special events, submitted to us courtesy of gentle reader Caril Jennings:

WHO: Universe City Department of Visual Arts
WHAT: Basin and Range II: An Artistic Response to Our Mountains
WHERE: 2556 Washington Boulevard, Ogden
WHEN: January 12, 13, 19, 20: Fridays, 5:00-8:00 pm, Saturdays,
noon-8:00 pm, or by appointment: 458-8959.

In January Universe City will feature Basin and Range II, a second, annual artistic response to issues regarding the beautiful mountains that overlook the City of Ogden.The exhibit will run through January 20th : Fridays, 5:00-8:00; Saturdays, from noon-8:00 pm. Private appointments to view the exhibit individually or as a group tour can be made by calling 458-8959.

Two special events are planned during the exhibit:

  • Saturday, January 13, 6:00-7:30 pm: “Ogden Trails Network History,” a slide show lecture by Jay Hudson, the original volunteer who started what we now call the Ogden Trails Network. Hudson began his work under the auspices of former Ogden City Mayor Mecham more than 20 years ago. He is a retired hospital administrator who has devoted his retirement to full time volunteer work throughout the community. Those interested are invited to adjourn with us to the Wine Cellar to continue the discussion.
  • Friday, January 19th, 7:00-8:00 pm: “Know More,” a presentation by Smart Growth Ogden. Currently, the Ogden City Council and the Ogden City Planning Council are accepting comments from citizens about proposed development and zoning changes on our mountainside. This presentation will provide an opportunity for people to have a more informed opinion about current issues. Light refreshments will be served.
An abbreviated definition of "Basin and Range" is a “geographic region characterized by parallel mountain ranges separated by flat valley floors which extends from the Wasatch Front in Utah to the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, and from Mexico north to Oregon and central Idaho.” The focus of this exhibit is that part of the Basin and Range province that provides the beauty of our own backyard - or front yard, depending on which way your front door faces. Submissions are being accepted until December 30th but at the issue of this release the exhibit will include, among others: photography by Steph B. Parke, Tom Szalay and others, as well as paintings by LeRoy Jennings, sculpture by Suzanne Storer, and poetry by Rob Carney, Jock Glidden, Caril Jennings and Dian Woodhouse.

Poster displays will also include Ogden Pathway’s Trail Map, and information from Smart Growth Ogden and the geology of the Basin and Range province.

Also, regular Second Friday Poetry will be held at 7:00 pm, January 12. Everyone is invited to recite, read or just listen. Light refreshments will be served.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Out of Sight; Out of Mind

The Godfrey Administration Offers Emerald City's Homeless a Helping Hand

By Dan S.

Amazing article in today's Standard-Examiner about how the city wants to move St. Anne's homeless shelter out of downtown, to west 12th Street.

It's amazing not because this comes as a surprise, but because they have the audacity to suggest that the homeless should all walk from downtown out to west 12th Street and back every day.

The article (by Scott Schwebke) does a great job pointing out how ridiculous this is (12th Street doesn't even have sidewalks), and includes a terrific quote from John Patterson explaining how the purpose isn't to try to get the homeless out of downtown, it's to give them "a helping hand."

I suppose Patterson will also be offering them rides in his city-subsidized automobile?


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

WSU Could Expand

Intriguing Amy K. Stewart piece in today's Standard-Examiner. The front page headline reads: "Study: WSU could expand""

The article refers to a WSU "study" commissioned by WSU. We talked about this in an earlier Weber County Forum comments thread:

RudiZink said...

Thanks to Dan S. for the RDA agenda heads-up. As you can see we've added it to the maim page as an update.

And OgdenLover, here's the link to the Saturday article that you mentioned, concerning the WSU "study":

WSU orders land study

Imagine, if you can, an "'upper WSU 21th-century campus": in the Emerald City foothills, at the base of our glorious limestone mountains. Ensconced in the cradle of the WSU mountains it would be.. with a glorious view of the valley and the setting sun over the lake in the west.

Imagine young scholars at WSU contemplating from the UPPER CAMPUS -- the world in earth's warm embrace, without the evil intrusion of a Downtown Gondola, or the greedy Matt Godfrey/Dumbass Peterson combine breathing their greedy gaseous money-grubbing venom down our local scholars' necks.

Imagine if you can young WSU Scholars NOT having to defer to any of the dippy local greed-head political manipulators.

Imagine how wonderful it'll be in Emerald City, after Godfrey is ushered out with tar, feathers and a rail, in November 2007.

Imagine Matt Godfrey "enjoying" a prolonged vacation in beautiful Draper, Utah, once his INNATE EVIL misdeeds catch up with him.

Imagine that..

Comments, anyone?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tuesday Afternoon Snacks

Last Update: 1/9/07 3:54 p.m.

Finding no genuine nutritious political 'red meat" in this morning's northern Utah news, we offer up this lo-calorie menu of selected news story morsels for today's Weber County Forum Light Lunch:

Gondola Non-news: In yet another Standard-Examiner reportorial oddity, we again read about an event that has not yet happened. We incorporate here the lead paragraphs from this morning's Standard-Examiner Top of Utah headline story:

OGDEN — A multimillion dollar proposal for a resort at Malan’s Basin and an elaborate gondola system may include significant changes before it is finalized, Mayor Matthew Godfrey said Monday.

A final proposal from would-be developer Chris Peterson could be presented to the city in a matter of weeks or months, Godfrey said.

“There could be significant changes and there could be no changes,” he said, declining to speculate on details that may appear in the proposal.

Peterson could not be reached for comment.
Let's see now.... a proposal which hasn't been even yet presented may be modified before it is finalized; but then maybe not. And the Boy Genius On Nine has no idea at all when the bumbling Chris Peterson, (who has been missing in action for the past several months,) will have anything to offer in the way of a substantive offer. "Could be years, actually," we infer from Boss Godfrey's snarky comment.

It's this kind of gibberish that would lead the cynical among us to surmise that even Boss Godfrey and Chris Peterson are no longer talking to each other. This is a mite disappointing, we grumble, after Peterson's incessant year long 2006 propaganda blitz.

Query: Is there anyone left in Emerald City (aside from Boss Godfrey and the Geigers,) with an iota of confidence that Chris Peterson is the man who would have the capability to build the project that would be the next best thing to the "coming of the railroad" 1n 1869? We believe the evidence amply demonstrates Mr. Peterson is all talk - no action. "Big hat; no cattle;" as our friends in the magnificent Lone Star State would call it.

Junction Project Scheduled for Spring Opening: Five years after Boss Godfrey knocked down the shopping mall, parts of the ambitious downtown Junction project will finally be ready for operation in the spring of this year, meaning that Emerald City will at long last be able to generates some rental income to apply to our city's year-old revenue bond obligations, according to this morning's Scott Schwebke story.

Hansen Throws Hat into Mayoral Race: Amidst continuing pleas from the Emerald City citizenry for a formidible challenger to Boss Godfrey in the upcoming 2007 municipal election, we learn from this Std-Ex blurb that Representative Neil Hansen, elected five straight times to the Utah House District 9 seat, announces his candidacy for the Emerald City mayoral office.

What about it, gentle readers? Is Neil Hansen the man to send Boss Godfrey packing, and restore our wonderful city to peace, harmony and sanity?

For our own part... we like his candidacy a lot.

Dig in, gentle readers. We're sure that some of you must be harboring some pent-up thoughts, following this morning's inexplicable 8-hour host server outage. We appear to be back up and running now however, so we think now's the time to chime in, before the whole host system goes bust again, heh-heh-heh.

Who will be the first to comment this Tuesday p.m.?

Update 1/9/07 3:54 p.m. MT: Alert and gentle reader "Mike Snow" graciously provides us an email heads-up on today's Kristen Moulten/Salt Lake Tribune article, adding much-needed professional reporting detail regarding the rapidly morphing yet still-embryonic Peterson Plan story.

Have the Emerald City Dysfunctional Duo & European Travelling Companion Combo (Godfrey and his goofy sidekick Chris P.) thrown in the towel on the concept of despoilng our Emerald City Crown Jewel? Will Chris Peterson be content to give up multi-millions of prospective real estate profits... and instead settle for owning a moronic downtown "hot in the summer - freezing in the winter" Emerald City amusement park ride?

We turn this latest story development over to our gentle readers for further discussion...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Matt Jones Update

Officer Jones' status changed to "unpaid leave;" administrative hearing to be scheduled

Last Update: 1/10/07 10:19 a.m.

One of the more persistent queries in emails and comments from our gentle readers over the past 5-1/2 months has been "What's happening with the Matt Jones case?" Except for the release of the November 3, 2006 Mark DaCaria report, which exonerated Matt Jones of any criminal misconduct, the answer to that query has been exactly "nada." For the most part, Officer Jones has languished in a "paid administrative leave" limbo since his original suspension from duty on July 27, 2006. Some of the more cynical amongst our readership believed Matt Jones would ultimately retire from the O.P.D. a decade or two down the road, still on paid administrative leave. To date, this situation has been politically far too hot to handle, even for the ever-petulant and vengeful Boss Godfrey. As we'll explain in the following paragraphs, the situation has now changed.

As our gentle readers will recall, Officer Jones was suspended from O.P.D. duty, and placed on administrative leave late on the evening of July 27, 2006, hours after being spotted by Boss Godfrey in the vicinity of the infamous van which launched the "vangate" controversy . The administration has maintained since that time that officer Jones' suspension "had nothing to do" with legally-protected off-duty political activity. The Vangate event was merely coincidental with the timing of other disciplinary action, Boss Godfrey has said, supposedly with a completely straight face.

Rather than provide a tedious re-hash of the facts of the case, we incorporate here our newly-compiled Quotagate/Vangate/Matt Jones Collection, consisting of a selection of Weber County Forum articles, and materials from other sources, most of which were produced contemporaneously with the vangate events. A quick scan of these articles ought to refresh the recollection of our regular readers, and even bring new readers up to speed on this topic, we think.

In this connection, we'd like to direct our readers' particular attention to a newly-obtained and previously unpublished document, the Weber County Investigators' Report, which is also linked at the bottom of the above collection. This document is the report upon which County Attorney DeCaria apparently relied for the preparation of his November 3, 2006 findings. It fully describes the complaints forming the basis for the Jones' continuing disciplinary action; and we're sure our readers will find it most enlightening. Many of our readers had expressed their suspicion that Boss Godfrey would dredge up whatever dirt he could find to justify the firing of Officer Jones on grounds other than his political activity. These suspicions are conformed by this report, we think. We believe our readers will agree from a careful reading of this report that Boss Godfrey has scraped the bottom of the barrel.

We learned late last week that there has now been a change in Officer Jones' status. As of last Friday, Officer Jones' employment posture has now been reduced to "unpaid leave," according to a highly-reliable source. Not only that, officer Jones has been informed that an O.P.D. administrative hearing will be scheduled imminently, (possibly as early as this week,) for the purpose of determining his future employment status.

That's right, folks. It's apparent that Boss Godfrey now believes that the "heat's off." The story has grown cold in the public mind; and we speculate that Boss Godfrey now intends to follow through, and give Officer Jones the axe, just as he originally intended back on July 27, 2006, when he told Chief Greiner, we infer from the reported facts, to "take care of the problem."

We'd be particularly interested in hearing our readers' impressions of the Weber County Investigators' Report. The entertaining of thoughtful reader analysis is half the fun, we think, here at Weber County Forum.

Comments, anyone?

Update 1/10/07 10:19 a.m. MT: Scott Schwebke reports this morning that Matt Jones' administrative hearing has been calendared for this coming Friday. January 12, 2007. Chief Greiner will reportedly act as hearing officer. Although Officer Jones seems to be resigned to the fact that his termination is a fait accompli, we suggest that this hearing presents an ideal opportunity for Chief Greiner to exhibit leadership, and to defuse a situation that's needlessly spiraled out-of-control -- so far.

A decision exonerating Jones would go a long way toward mitigating Emerald City's damages in any lawsuits which might spring from this unfortunate cahin of events. Perhaps a lawsuit could even be avoided altogether, under the "right" set of facts. Our examination of the above linked Investigators' Report indicates that the accusations against Jones are pathetically thin, even by the preponerance of evidence standard of proof which would be applied to an administrative hearing of this nature. We accordingly call upon Chief Greiner to exercise prudence and thoughtful discretion in this matter, and to demonstrate a level of wisdom that has been heretofore conspicously absent in Boss Godfrey's choreography of this matter.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Leadership Vote of Confidence & a Moratorium on Development

Ogden City Council Meeting Notes - 01.02.07

Last Update 01.05.07

By Curmudgeon

Substantive business began with the election of Council leadership for the coming year.

Council President Garcia was nominated for that post for another year by Councilwoman Jeske. Nomination seconded by Councilman Safsten. No other names being placed in nomination, Mr. Garcia was elected as president for another year by voice vote.

Then Mr. Safsten nominated Councilman Stephenson for Vice President. The nomination was seconded by Mr. Stephens. Councilwoman Van Hooser then nominated current Council Vice President Amy Wicks for a second term, seconded by Mrs. Jeske. On a voice vote, Ms. Wicks was chosen for another term as Vice-President by a vote of 4-3. [Note: see Councilman Safsten’s comments explaining his vote on the council leadership at the end of this report.]

For the sake of conserving precious front-page bandwidth, gentle Curmudgeon's article continues on an archive page. Be sure to read the full-text version here .

Gentle Curmudgeon's above-linked & detailed report of last night's council meeting is most excellent. Don't miss the discussion of the six-month development moratorium, which puts downtown property owners in further limbo, and a summary of Councilman Safsten's first campaign speech designed for the municipal election year 2007. If you didn't click the above link on the first pass... go back and do it now, we suggest.

Update 1/3/07 11:19 a.m. MT: We link here Scott Schwebke's Standard-Examiner story, which provides additional useful details about the six-month moratorium.

Update 1/4/07 11:19 a.m. MT: Councilman Safsten has graciously transmitted to us the full text of his prepared statement, which he read into the council record on Tuesday night last. We accordingly link it here, for our gentle readers' attention and analysis. We would also like to give councilman Safsten a hearty Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat for checking out this public forum, engaging with our cyber-community and getting involved with those of us who discuss local politics 24/7. The major theme of Councilman Safsten's prepared statement revolves around the crying need for free and robust communication, and in this respect the gentle councilman has now put his money where his mouth is, as the old saying goes.

We now doff our WCForum hats, and welcome Rick Safsten into out cyber community.

Update 1/5/07 3:46 p.m. MT: As a matter of blogger courtesy, we also welcome Councilman Brandon Stephenson here. Unlike recent arrival Councilman Safsten, who seems to have some ready familiarity with the nuances of the blog atmosphere, Councilaman Stephenson appears to be still "hung up," like an internet "newbie" on the anonymity that prevails often here in cyber-space.

Stick with us, Brandon! We hope you'll become a regular reader and poster. Keep in mind that blogging is partly entertainment (with lots of political education built in.) In that connection, we don't believe ANYBODY believed that your below comments section imposter was really you.

You're bound to get in better touch with your political constituents if you read this blog daily. Better yet, please post here often. We designed this place for continuous political discourse, and it's encouraging that we now have at least three city council members regularly reading and posting here along with the rest of we lumpentownsfolke.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

An Agenda Not To Be Overlooked

Top of the morning to all our gentle Weber County Forum readers, and best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2007. Having enjoyed a short blogging hiatus over the long holiday, we now begin the new year with a renewed resolve -- to continue to provide our northern Utah readers with the most active and robust community forum in the whole danged Utah blogosphere.

And what better way to kick off the new year we ask, than to open the discussion with news of our favorite community institution -- the Emerald City Council? In that connection we link tonight's City Council Agenda: our very first link of the year 2007.

We find two items of particular note on tonight's council calendar, the first of which is the topic of this morning's Scott Schwebke story. In a nutshell, developers and speculators are already scooping up property interests in the phase 2 & 3 areas of the Emerald City River Project. Boss Godfrey will be asking the council tonight to impose a six-month development moratorium in these areas, in order to allow time to put in place "picky" new zoning rules. Rigid central planning is alive and well in Emerald City, we are quick to note, as is illustrated by this telling comment from this morning's Standard-Examiner story:

"People can buy property in the river project and we can't control what they do," explains Dave Harmer.

We can't have property owners calling the shots on matters involving their own properties in our Brave New MattGodfreyWorld, can we (?)

Secondly, a gentle reader reminded us via email last night of a second council agenda item which we believe to be by far the most important item tonight and for the next year, all things considered (in the political long-run):
5. Election of New Council Officers.
6. Swearing In of New Council Officers.
The Emerald City Council will be choosing its 2007 Chair and Vice-Chair (Council Leadership) tonight. Make no mistake. The choices our council makes this evening have great significance for the upcoming year. These offices are not merely ceremonial Not only do our "council leaders" "chair" council and RDA meetings; they control committee appointments and council policy. Moreover, they meet regularly with Boss Godfrey and other administration officials regularly, and serve as gatekeepers for the information which is passed on to other council members. In many ways they have the utilitarian power to set the entire council agenda.

Choosing the "right" leadership is particularly important in this municipal election year. We have heard from several sources that Boss Godfrey has been actively lobbying for the placement of "Gang of Six" council hold-over Brandon Stephenson into the council Chairman's seat. "He's a senior councilman," Stephenson advocates argue. "It's his turn," the Godfreyites whine.

Frankly, we can't think of a worse possible result than placing Stephenson in a council leadership role. Not only is he by far the most compliant Godfrey-gopher on the council; rumor has it he's getting ready for a 2007 mayoral run (in the event that Boss Godfrey has the good sense to sit out the next election.) Better to let him cool his heels outside the council leadership circle for the next year, we think. Better for him languish for the remainder of his council term on the relative sidelines, rather than to furnish him the opportunityity to use a council leadership position for furtherance of his neoCON political ambitions, we believe.

And if we had our preference, we'd opt for placing the chairman's gavel in the hand of one of our fine woman council members. With the exception of Amy Wicks, who presently holds the council vice-chair office, women are conspicuously absent from top leadership roles throughout our entire city government. Chairwoman Wicks, anyone?

How 'bout an ALL-WOMAN council leadership slate, we ask? That would certainly be a Emerald City novelty... and it would no doubt drive Boss Godfrey literally NUTS!

Comments, anyone?

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