Friday, August 31, 2007

It's a Crime

Second article in a series demolishing Boss Godfrey's bogus crime-fighter theme

By Monotreme

Mayor Godfrey has made his effectiveness as a crimefighter a centerpiece of his mayoral re-election campaign. Yesterday, our household received a glossy mailing that touted his crimefighting skills, his fecundity and his ability to read bedtime stories to his daughter. All good qualities for a mayor, I suppose, but personally I find the only relevant or useful part of the mailing to be his claims regarding his crimefighting skills.

An earlier WCF article examined the problems with this claim, including his unprovoked mugging of the rules of logic and argument (the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy) and some chicanery with numbers.

In Mayor Godfrey’s latest fusillade against logic and reason, he finally reveals the “raw” data underlying his startling campaign claims: a 23 percent reduction in overall crimes from 1999 to 2006, and a 43 percent reduction in violent crimes over the same period.

Let’s set aside for a moment the questionable ethics of using taxpayer money to buy a full-page ad in the Ogden Standard-Examiner for what is essentially a campaign document. We’ll also not beat a dead horse on the post hoc logical fallacy, even though it still casts doubt on his claims of crimefighting prowess.

What I want to talk about today is the fact that he is guilty of depraved indifference to the truth. Either he has negligently failed to check the data underlying his claim, or he is a liar who fabricated numbers to make himself look good.

There are three sources of data which I’ve used for this analysis.

1) An undated report signed by Chief Greiner, apparently from 2004, available as an Acrobat version of a Powerpoint presentation on the Ogden City website. Click on the “12-Year Crime Report” link. (Greiner 2004).

2) The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report, published annually with data breakdowns for all cities, states and regions (FBI UCR).

3) Mayor Godfrey’s personal advertising space, under the guise of an Ogden City communication with its citizens, published in the Thursday, August 30, 2007 Standard-Examiner (Godfrey 2007).

The Ogden City advertisement repeats exactly, almost verbatim, the claims contained in Mayor Godfrey’s campaign material:
“Over the last eight years, since Matthew Godfrey became mayor, Ogden has hired 18 new police officers and crime has dropped more than 23% — including a drop in violent crimes of 43%. That’s no coincidence.” [Campaign mailing, paid for by the People to Re-elect Matthew Godfrey]

“According to statistics from the Ogden Police Department, the overall crime rate in Ogden has dropped by 23 percent in the last eight years. Non-violent crimes are down by 21 percent, and data on violent crimes proves even more significant.

“In a report calculating incidents based upon crimes per thousand population, violent crimes recorded in 1999 were 6.7 compared to 3.8 reported last year — in other words, violent crime in Ogden is down by 43 percent.

…“[There is a] remarkable drop in crime that is already evident in Ogden” [Ogden City advertisement, paid for by the People who May or May Not Want to Re-elect Matthew Godfrey But Who Must, By Law, Pay Taxes to Publish This Unadulterated Nonsense]
I’ve taken the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report statistics and converted them to the same basis used in the Greiner and Godfrey reports (crimes per 1,000 population): I divided by 100 the FBI metric (number of crimes per 100,000). I dropped the 2003 data from the Greiner report because it was marked “projected” and therefore I did not think that Chief Greiner should be held accountable for its veracity.

The Godfrey and Greiner numbers (red and blue) are in general agreement, except for a troubling increase in 1999 crime in Godfrey’s data which is not shown in Greiner’s data. The Godfrey and FBI UCR data are also in good general agreement, except for that same spike in 1999 which Godfrey claims (and which he uses as a baseline for his “23% drop” claim) but which is not reflected in the federal reports.

I’ve already discussed in my previous article why the apparent drop in total crime is not so startling, since total crimes in Utah dropped at an greater rate over the same period, probably due to demographic changes.

Here’s a comparison for the “remarkable” drop in violent crime during Mayor Godfrey’s administration:

Evidence of data manipulation is manifest here. The 1999 number is far higher than we’d expect from either the FBI Uniform Crime Report or from the Ogden City Police Department’s own published report, and the 2005 number is far lower. The 2002 spike in the FBI data for violent crimes is inexplicably absent in both Greiner’s and Godfrey’s data. The 2000, 2003 and 2004 data are in good general agreement, and the 2001 number is identical in all three reports. The 2002 spike is probably a statistical aberration, as is the 2001 dip, since they both lie away from the trend line. Still, Godfrey’s and Greiner’s data preserve the artificially low 2001 figure but “shave off” the artificially high 2002 figure.

As far as I’m aware, the Ogden City Police Department is legally obligated to provide accurate data to the FBI for their Uniform Crime Report. They seem to have done a good job doing so; there are minor discrepancies in the data which may be explained by methodological differences (such as different population estimates, different types of crimes included, and the like).

But how in the world can we possibly explain an artificially inflated total crime rate in 1999, before Mayor Godfrey was elected?

How can we possibly explain an artificially inflated violent crime rate in 1999, and an artificially low violent crime rate in 2002 and in 2005, the last year for which we can compare publicly available data? Isn’t it odd that the “43% drop in violent crime” claim simply reflects a comparison of two faulty datapoints (1999 and 2005)? How odd that the faulty data is in exactly the direction that makes Mayor Godfrey look more effective at reducing crime than he actually is.

(A full version, including city-by-city breakdown, of the 2006 FBI UCR data has not been released yet, so I did not include the Mayor’s claim for 2006 data of a rate of 3.8 violent crimes per 1000 population. His “43% drop” claim is apparently based on comparison of the bogus 1999 datapoint, 6.7 per 1000, versus the unverifiable 2006 datapoint, 3.8 per 1000. 3.8/6.7 is 57%, and 100% minus 57% is a drop of 43%.)

The real drop, using real, verifiable statistics, is 13%, as I’ve argued earlier. There is a lot of year-to-year fluctuation, so I took the average of the pre-Godfrey years for which FBI UCR data were available (1995-1999) and compared them to the average of the Godfrey years (2000-2005). I think it’s disingenuous to use only two favorable datapoints in making comparisons when you have yearly data for an eight-year mayoral administration.

To get a 43% drop in violent crime, the author of these statistics had to artificially inflate the 1999 number and artificially deflate the 2005 number.

Last year Mayor Godfrey explained to me that we were in a Republic, not a Democracy. This year, based on the letters generated by his toadies, it appears we are employees (or maybe stockholders, I’m not sure) of the Ogden City Corporation, which like all corporations is looking out for the commonweal, like water and sewer and parkland and police services.

It seems to me that the CEO of a $120 million corporation, a Captain of Industry, what Tom Wolfe would have called a Master of the Universe, would want to have accurate data in order to make his Important Corporate Decisions that we mere mortals could not possibly understand.

It seems to me that the CEO of a $120 million corporation would be tarred and feathered by either his board or the stockholders if he were found to have fabricated accounting data in order to make it appear the corporation was more successful than it actually was.

Was this done by Mayor Godfrey, or was it done by one of his employees?

Will the theft of lawn signs be included in next year’s statistics?

Update 9/1/07 11:09 a.m. MT: At the request of one of our readers, we have created a printer-friendly page for readers who would like a hard-copy printout of this article. The page can be found here. Simply navigate to the page, and send the document to your printer.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mid-week Media Morsels

A one-day respite from our usual WCF political red meat menu

By Curmudgeon

There are reports in this morning's Standard-Examiner and today's Salt Lake Tribune on the public water meeting held by the city council in Ogden last night.

The Std-Ex's story, by Charles Trentelman, can be found here.

The Trib's story, by Kristin Moulton, is here.

It would be interesting, we think, to hear from any of our readers who attended last night's meeting, just to flesh out the information in the above news stories.

And finally, on another topic, the Standard Examiner is trolling for political ads. Running an ad selling the paper as the best way to reach local voters. It's an interesting read, the general theme of which is "all politics is local" and nobody covers local politics like newspapers. It claims particularly that newspapers in general, and the Std-Ex in particular, deliver "credibility that is unmatched" in local political coverage.

I'd think the Std-Ex's failure, so far, to print, even as a news brief, Rep. Hansen's filing a complaint with the OPD naming names of those caught in the act removing his lawn signs and replacing them with Godfrey signs, might raise a question or two, at the least, about both the range and credibility of the Std-Ex's coverage, que no?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More Drivel From the Godfreyite Cheerleaders

Justin Eccles puts in a subtle plug for his council candidate neoCON kid

The Boss Godfrey Campaign Letter Mill is again churning full steam, with two more Godfrey rah-rah letters in this morning's Standard-Examiner. Godfreyite Justin Eccles (proud papa of council candidate Royal "Pain" Eccles) touts Boss Godfrey's "successful record" here; and Godfreyite letters-to-the-editor regular Bob Ballantyne spews his usual bone-headed drivel here (yawn).

Both letters propound what we assume will be the general major theme of Boss Godfrey's 2007 campaign: Boss Godfrey is responsible for everything good that's happening in our formerly pleasant and somewhat sleepy town.

The claim that Godfrey is solely responsible for economic revival in Ogden is nearly identical to another keystone claim in the Boss Godfrey re-election arsenal: that Boss Godfrey is responsible for lowering the crime rate in Ogden. Of course that theme was thoroughly demolished last Tuesday on this very blog.

In that connection, we ask the question: Is the "Boss Godfrey the Economic Savior" theme susceptible to the same method of analysis as the now debunked "Godfrey the Crime-fighter" theme? The answer, we think, is "yes."

First, this latest self-serving Boss Godfrey claim is likewise founded upon the same post hoc logical fallacy. The fact that our town's seeming renaissance is happening during Godfrey's watch actually permits no logical inference re causation at all.

And looking toward broad economic circumstances, we find that the "rising tide" of economic revival is actually a phenomenon that's being experienced all across the state, not merely in Ogden City. Although we don't have data specific to Ogden, we'll speculate, reasonably we think, that the figures reflecting "boom times" in Ogden would be quite similar to those demonstrated elsewhere in Utah. A rising tide lifts all boats, after all.

Would Boss Godfrey claim full credit for economic circumstances plainly not of his own making? Isn't he the guy with more integrity than anyone in the room?

Never mind. We already know the answer to that.

Before we turn over the floor, we'll raise a few sub-issues, just to get the discussion ball rolling:

1) Unlike most cities in Utah which are reaping the benefits of Utah's booming economy, Boss Godfrey has been simultaneously creating public debt like a madman. Whereas other Utah communities will be reaping the benefits of a hot Utah economy without the burdens of massively-increased public debt, Emerald City will be paying off bonds into our grand kids' generation. Will Boss Godfrey's recent massive public expenditures for risky projects like the rec center pay off during the lifetime of the supporting debt instruments? Or will the taxpayers of Ogden ultimately be "on the hook," when the "boom times" turn to "slack times" (as they inevitably do)? How long into the 20-year bonding pay-down term, we ask, will Salomon Center patrons remain interested in novelty gimmicks like this?

2) We grow weary of the continuing claims of elements within the Godfreyite faction (like Mr. Ballantyne) that our current city council is in any way "obstructionist" with respect to Boss Godfrey's "pet projects." From our point of view, there is little difference between our last city council, which quietly "rubber-stamped" everything that Boss Godfrey brought to the table, and the current council, which usually approves virtually everything Godfrey wants. The current council makes a little more noise than the previous council in the process, but ultimately "rolls over" and delivers in a manner similar to the last council, in our view.

3) Isn't it about time "certain people" abandoned Mr. Eccles's right wing-socialist (neoCON) notion that a "municipal government" is, or should be regarded as a "business?" The differences in form and function between "government" and "private business" are stark and palpable. We believe it's high time for our city government to get out of the real estate development business, and all other businesses which compete with private enterprise. We also suggest that Mr. Eccles's ludicrous business analogy be summarily tossed into the dumpster -- along with his thoroughly-botched Godfreyite kid.

And what say you, gentle readers?

Talk about whatever floats your boat.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Few Questions for Aspiring Elective Municipal Officials

The Ogden Sierra Club leads the way in "culling" the candidate herd

According to the 2007 Election Countdown Clock which relentlessly "ticks" within our right sidebar, the Emerald City elections loom two weeks from today. And it's in that connection that we are pleased this morning to provide a link to the first set of candidate questionnaire responses to have surfaced in advance of our upcoming elections. Over the weekend, a representative from the Ogden Sierra Club transmitted to us a helpful link to the newly-completed questionnaire which they've uploaded to their website. We incorporate the questionnaire's prefacatory paragraphs here:
To help educate voters about candidates' positions on environmental issues, the Ogden Sierra Club has prepared a candidate questionnaire and sent it to each of Ogden's candidates for mayor and city council. We have posted the candidates' responses in full, linked from their names below. Names without links indicate candidates who have not yet responded. We sincerely thank all of the candidates who have taken the time to answer these detailed questions.
We accordingly invite our readers to take a good long look.

We won't comment on the merits of individual responses, at least not at this time. We will however offer our observation, that questionnaires of this type are "useful" in a very broad sense of the word, to a concerned and thinking electorate. Not only do candidate questionnaire responses indicate positions on particular issues, they also provide key insight into the level of public responsiveness which can be expected of aspirants to political office, once responding candidates have successfully ascended to their elective positions. If one mayoral candidate (the usual suspect) for instance, doesn't even demonstrate the interest to respond to nine simple citizen-propounded questions, how much effort will such a candidate be predicted to expend within the upcoming four years, responding to citizen concerns? In the case of mayoral aspirant Boss Godfrey, of course, we already have the answer to the question -- NOT MUCH!

And on the same tangent we take note that there are several council hopefuls who have likewise failed or refused to respond at all. And within the group of those candidates who have responded, several candidates' responses, we believe, reflect perfunctory haste and inattention. Whether they know it or not, even some of those who did respond provided enough information to help us "cull the herd," irrespective of their stated positions on particular issues.

As our readers peruse the several candidate responses, we hope our readers will keep in mind that it's these people with whom we lumpencitizens will be trying to communicate for the next four years.

It's these folks who will be running our town until the year 2012, under a no cut contract with the voters of Ogden.

We would also like to thank the people at the Ogden Sierra Club for preparing the questionnaire, compiling the candidate responses and sending us the link. We did one of these in advance of the 2005 primary election, and we know such a project entails lots of work.

We would also like to again direct our readers' attention to the 2007 election module in our right sidebar. It's been substantially augmented since we last mentioned it here, as candidates have continued to send us their data and website links. Please note that we've also added the above questionnaire to the already-existing links.

So let's open the discussion with the subject matter of the Sierra Club questionnaire, and see where this topic leads us.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Lawn Sign Wars and Other Important Matters

Pre-weekend bits and pieces -- UPDATED

Right on schedule, Friday morning has rolled around once again, so we thought we'd launch a weekend kickoff discussion by devoting the top paragraphs of this space to a couple of items that have been simmering on the Weber County Forum back-burner since early this week.

Lawn Sign Wars. We've had a few comments in earlier comments sections about the mysterious disappearance of non Godfrey-branded 2007 election candidate lawn signs, and the sudden proliferation of the veritable dandelion patch of those gawdawful Boss Godfrey signs, which are suddenly blooming throughout the East Bench neighborhoods of our beloved Emerald City. Lawn sign vandalism is nothing new in Emerald City of course. We get reports of instances of it during every election season. Earlier this week however we received a report with a unique twist. As you'll read below, one mayoral candidate, Neil Hansen, seems to have possibly caught a perpetrator red-handed:

In that connection, we obtained an interesting public document earlier this week. We post it without further editorial comment, except to say that we think it may shed some light on the above-mentioned "lawn sign disappearance mystery."

It will be interesting to follow this story, as it winds its way into the courts system. Indeed, it will be interesting to see whether it winds up in the court system at all.

Best Ogden Lawn Signs. Secondly -- and sticking to the lawn sign topic for the moment -- we include to the right a less than perfect photo image of a most excellent mayoral campaign lawn sign, planted smack dab in the middle one Emerald City citizen-activist's front yard. Our crack Weber County Forum team of award-winning photojournalists (we gave ourself an award this morning, just as the Std-Ex does) captured the image yesterday, while prowling the Emerald City east bench like Diogenes the Cynic, searching in vain for a lawn sign of a candidate other than Boss Godfrey, Royal Eccles and Kent Petersen. We'll also offer that we agree in substance with the political message expressed in this very creative use of a white bed sheet. "Anybody but Godfrey" is one danged fine political motto, we think.

Tourist Trap Hot-spot. We also spotlight here a front page article appearing in this morning's Standard-Examiner, reporting that Emerald City is now an "officially recognized" tourist hot spot. Hotel receipts and tax revenues are up for the year, thanks in part to a new "transient tax" -- and aggressive room rate gouging, of course. We suppose this story is good news for Ogden however, now that we're hustling marketing our formerly bucolic city as a bona fide destination tourist trap.

Godfrey-lemming Endorsement. We'll also direct our readers' attention to the latest Godfrey Letter Mill candidate endorsement letter, which points to the website of Royal "Pain" Eccles, Blessed Boss Godfrey's personally-ordained candidate for the open At-large Council Seat "C." This one's a true work of art. In apparent awareness of the Std-Ex policy against publication of candidate endorsement letters, this "masterpiece" of Godfreyite misdirection is cunningly framed as a candidacy withdrawal announcement. "What's the matter with these Godfreyites anyway," we ask. Don't they realize that this particular Std-Ex policy is regularly ignored by Std-Ex editors, and honored most often in its breach? Like all Godfreyites, these guys don't get out much, except for the Gondola Cult meetings, that is.

Community Bitch Session. And as a demonstration of our WCF community-mindedness we link below notice of a public meeting which will be held next week. Emerald City residents who've grown accustomed to having gravel and chunks of rusty metal dribbling out their culinary watertaps have been graciously offered an invitation to gather together with selected Emerald City officials to "spout off" about the condition of our water system. Lumpencitizens who believe that Boss Godfrey has completely dropped the ball in re our city water infrastructure should definitely put this one on their calendars and plan to attend. Don't forget your pitchforks and torches.

That's it for today, gentle readers.

Time for Weber County Forum's own to blow off some pre-weekend steam.

Update 8/25/07 7:32 a.m. MT: Emerald City Council communications specialist Chad Phares has transmitted to us a FAQ sheet PDF , concerning the August 28 town meeting mentioned in yesterday's above article. Our perusal of this informational document reveals that the city administration is indeed apparently on the verge of implementing a wholesale fee increase in monthly Emerald City water rates. Having since the year 2005 frittered away (to the Salomon Center Project) BDO revenue which had been previously and prudently earmarked for water and sewer infrastructure improvements, Boss Godfrey now evidently intends to play "catch-up," and impose substantial new taxes upon the citizens of our city, under the mendacious label - increased water rates. So much for Godfrey's "no new taxes" claim. If the citizens desire a properly-functioning water & sewer infrastructure they'll pay extra. Godfrey will blame it all on the council, of course.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wednesday Morning "Chewables"

Worthy topics carved out from this morning's news

Although Councilwoman Jeske gave us our first heads-up on this story last night in the lower article comments section, there's a same-topic article on the Standard-Examiner front page this morning which deserves a front page spotlight. Specifically, Ace Reporter Schwebke reports that the Emerald City Council rolled over yet again at last night's meeting, and approved a $288,000 handout to another set of "Friends of Matt Godfrey" ("FOM").

It's unclear from our reading of this article what portion of these public funds are outright "grants" (the terminology used in the article), and what part will be derived from loans, funded by means of city-issued debt securities (revenue bonds), or other similar debt instruments. Weber County residents should take note: What is clear is that at least the reported tax increment financing portion of this latest FOM welfare scheme will divert tax dollars from the revenue stream of the various taxing authorities within Weber County. If you're complaining about Weber County property tax increases, folks, and looking for somebody to blame, you need look no further than Ogden City government to find a few of the culprits.

Regardless of what the financial "structuring" may be however in this instance, we yet again observe the action of a city council which behaves as if it's still absolutely necessary to pay investors to invest in Emerald City -- a council which slavishly bends over backwards for any FOM who arrives in town looking for a handout.

And to those hopelessly uninformed individuals who wax on in the Std-Ex letters section about our current city council's "business unfriendliness," we submit that last night's welfare-for-the-rich vote is merely just the latest example (in a long line of examples) of a city legislature whose "pro-business" attitude toward FOM's borders upon "fawning" and "slavish".

In another item, Std-Ex correspondent Tanna Woods reports that the City of Clearfield is moving full speed ahead to emulate the right wing socialist policies of the mayoral administration here in MattGodfreyWorld. Our old favorites Lewis, Young, Robertson & Burningham have been retained by that city to prepare a study, with the goal of imposing universal residential-rental business licenses and a mandatory "good landlord" program upon the lumpenlandlords of our neighboring city. In the brave new world of the neoCONS, property owners are considered unfit to manage their own properties, without the benevolent guiding hand of nanny government. Move over Matt Godfrey. It seems the city administration of Clearfield has thrown its hat into the ring for top honors in the "Joe Stalin Lookalike Contest."

And quite predictably, we find another Boss Godfrey endorsement letter arriving within the pages of the Standard-Examiner, via the Boss Godfrey Re-election Letter Mill. The latest set of dumb pro-Godfrey rationalizations come from former Godfrey council supplicant Fasi Filiaga. Among the list of reasons that Councilman Filiaga supports Boss Godfrey is Emerald City's purportedly "lowered crime rate." That factually-unsupported Godfrey "whopper" was of course thoroughly demolished yesterday on this very blog.

Mr. Filiaga also takes a not-so-subtle "cheap shot" at mayoral candidate Neil Hansen, for failing to show up at a recent Boss Godfrey campaign pep rally at the state capitol (Gov. Huntsman didn't show up either). It was at this contrived "meeting" that Boss Godfrey - for the very first time that we're aware - expressed interest in securing state funding for the long-sought Ogden Veteran's Home. What Mr. Filiaga fails to mention however is the Neil Hansen wasn't invited to the aforementioned "Godfreyites only" political sideshow/stunt. Moreover, Mr. Filiaga seems unaware of the basic truth: The idea of using state funds for the construction of a Veterans' Home was Representative Hansen's idea in the first place.


We're not going to be too hard on councilman Filiaga however. As we all know, he hasn't been at his best lately, so to speak, if you know what we mean (and we think you do.)

Have at it gentle readers.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mayor Matthew Godfrey: Ogden’s Answer to Commissioner Gordon?

One gentle reader examines Boss Godfrey's "crime-fighter" claim

By Monotreme

Is Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey responsible for a sharp reduction in Ogden’s crime rate? His campaign webpage says he is:
Crime has dropped more than 23% since Matthew Godfrey became Mayor, including a drop in violent crimes of 43% compared with an increase of 21% during the 7 years before he took office. Moreover, the Mayor has put in place a zero-tolerance policy for gang-related crimes. He’s even asked for more immigration officers to come to Ogden to deport criminals that are caught here illegally. Without a doubt, Mayor Matthew Godfrey is tough on crime.

“I’m thrilled with the 23% reduction in crime but I know we can achieve more. And as your mayor, I will continue to work hard to make your neighborhood even safer.” – Matthew Godfrey

Source: Ogden Police Department, Uniform Crime Report Statistics measured in crimes per 1,000 residents
Mayor Godfrey has claimed this reduction in crime during his administration several other places as well. For example, in the August 8, 2007 Standard-Examiner, announcing his gang crime measures, he’s quoted as saying, “We’ve had a precipitous decline in crime for the last eight years, and we’re not giving that up.”

There are several problems with this claim.

The first, and most obvious, is an example of the logical fallacy called, in Latin, post hoc ergo propter hoc — in English, “it happened, so (insert explanation here) must have caused it to happen”. Another way of saying this is the famous statistician’s phrase: “correlation doesn’t imply causality”.

Just because two things happen at the same time (in this case, Mayor Godfrey’s administration and a reduction in Ogden’s crime rate) doesn’t mean one led to the other.

Many students of criminal justice have argued that the crime rate has a lot more to do with demographic trends than with crime-fighting efforts. For example, the crime rate rises and falls with the number of males age 14 to 24 in the population, since almost all crimes are committed by males in that age group.

Did Mayor Godfrey’s efforts reduce crime in Ogden? One way of asking this question is, “did the reduction in crime fit the pattern of change in a different or larger population?” How does the crime rate in Ogden compare to the crime rate in the entire state of Utah?

As Mayor Godfrey’s web page indicates, these data are compiled in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR), issued annually. They’re available online at The last year with full data available is 2005.

The FBI breaks down these statistics into violent crimes (murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault) and property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson). In Ogden, and in Utah, as in the rest of the country, the overwhelming majority of crimes committed are property crimes.

Obviously, many more crimes are committed when lots of people are around. So, the UCR system levels this data for different places of different sizes by calculating the number of crimes per 100,000 population. (Not, as Mayor Godfrey’s web page asserts, per 1,000 population, but that’s a minor quibble.) To get the crime rate per 100,000 people, we simply divide the number of crimes by the population and multiply by 100,000. For example, for 1995, there were 422 violent crimes in Ogden and 69,290 people. 422 / 69,290 = 0.00609. 0.00609 x 100,000 = 609.0, the rate of violent crimes per 100,000 people.

The table below presents these data for the period 1995-2005:

Now, here’s the analysis of the data.

I can’t seem to reproduce Mayor Godfrey’s assertion that crime has been reduced in Ogden by 23% during his administration. In fact, comparing the years for which data are available (1995-1999, five years before Matthew Godfrey was mayor vs. 2000-2005, six years during which Godfrey was mayor), there appears to be a 28.5% reduction in the total crime rate (comparing the average of 8939.2, 9058.1, 9007.9, 8908.7, and 7989.9 vs. the average of 7726.6, 6678.4, 6656.8, 6488.3, 6911.9 and 6547.1). By this estimate, Mayor Godfrey is being modest.

However, for the entire state, there is a 31.7% reduction in crime comparing the same range of years. Ogden’s crime rate has dropped slightly more slowly than that for the entire state while Matthew Godfrey has been mayor.

Here’s the data as a graph:

Note that the crime rate for Ogden is higher than for the state as a whole. That’s expected, because Ogden is an urban area and much of the state is rural. It’s well known that crime rates are higher in urban areas.

What about that 43% drop in violent crimes?

It’s difficult to see any support for Mayor Godfrey’s assertion of a 43% drop in violent crime during his administration. There appears to be a slight reduction, 13% by my calculation, when comparing 1995-1999 data to 2000-2005 data. The comparable drop for the State of Utah over the same period is 24%.

There are several possible interpretations of the data shown here.

1. As he asserts on his campaign web page, Mayor Matthew Godfrey’s election reduced crime in Ogden.

2. Mayor Matthew Godfrey’s crimefighting skills are so strong, his election as Mayor of Ogden City didn’t just reduce crime in Ogden, but in the entire State of Utah.

3. The reduction in the number of crimes in Ogden had nothing to do with Mayor Godfrey’s administration.

Other, alternative, explanations are possible. I invite you to supply your own.

Mayor Matthew Godfrey may be “tough on crime”, as his web page asserts, but the data don’t support (or refute) that conclusion.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Alternate Reality Department

Godfrey lackey admonishes the lumpencitizens to "just shut up," hold their noses and re-elect Boss Godfrey

We find a couple of items of interest in this morning's Standard-Examiner, each of which relates in one way or another to Emerald City's September 11 primary, which looms a few hours shy of three weeks from today.

The first of these is a letter to the editor by one Thomas Moore, Sr., sternly lecturing we lumpentownsfolk about the vast importance of electing scammers and schemers like Boss Godfrey, to prey upon the citizens of Ogden city for yet another four years.

Emerald City isn't really a city, Mr. Moore suggests. It's actually a giant real estate development company, which can only be properly managed by fine intellects like Boss Godfrey, Royal Eccles, Kent Petersen, etc. -- Lift Ogden hustlers and gondolist airheads -- in other words. Never mind the rampant corruption, graft and cronyism. People like Boss Godfrey and his ilk still have serious fish to fry. They're not done screwing us over yet.

Mr. Moore, a trusted initiate of Boss Godfrey's personal Ordnertruppen, asks a rhetorical question of those lumpencitizens who will undoubtedly kick the corrupt little twerp's arse to the curb in November (if not September):

"If we individually owned a powerful corporation, whom would we ask to lead it?"

NOT Boss Godfrey, nor his lackey council candidate shills and suck-ups, Mr. Moore, we ever so gently suggest.

Wait and see, Mr. Moore. Everyone in town knows Boss Godfrey doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of ever being elected to any public office in Emerald City again, regardless of the size of his re-election war-chest. The Emerald City citizens are simply too fed up.

As much as we'd like to rant on about Mr. Moore's letter, we now turn the topic to another curious news item. On the eve of the primary election, Boss Godfrey is suddenly talking about cooperating with the council, in identifying a preferred transit corridor, according to this morning's Std-Ex story:
OGDEN — Mayor Matthew Godfrey says he will develop a mass transit corridor priority plan in cooperation with the city council.

“We (the city’s administration and city council) agree that there needs to be a plan that everyone feels good about,” he said.
Cooperation with the council? Boss Godfrey getting cozy with the "lesser branch" of city government? If THAT isn't a man bites dog story, we don't know what is. There's a first time for everything though, we guess.

Take it away, gentle readers. It's Monday morning -- time to blow out the weekend cobwebs.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

House Representative Froerer Proposes Immediate Property Tax Relief

One state legislator responds decisively to the taxpayer heat

By Curmudgeon

$700 a Month Residential Property Taxes? A month?!?!?!?

Yes, that's right. Some homeowners in Ogden's Hole [aka in realtor-ese "The Upper Ogden Valley"] have seen their property tax assessments soar to $700 a month... as much a month as their mortgages cost. From a story in today's Standard-Examiner:

The largest tax increases in the county have occurred in the Ogden Valley area, particularly Huntsville, Liberty and Eden, he said. Some property owners in those areas are paying taxes of about $700 a month, which nearly equals their mortgage payments, he said.

When Mayor Godfrey and his Lift Ogden Amen Chorus [blessedly silent of late except, it seems, for Mr. Royal Eccles, candidate for the Council] was in full-throated roar, they assured us that the gondola/gondola scheme would make Ogden "the next Aspen" or "the new Vail" or "the new Park City." The claim changed a lot, as Lift Ogden claims have a habit of doing. When next a promoter or politician dangles a silver-bullet quick fix for Ogden's imagined ills before us, we ought to think about consequences beyond promises that Paris Hilton and her entourage will stroll the Junction browsing the Prada and Gucci shops until her next gondola ride. We ought to keep in mind that recreational residential real estate booms can, and for some, do have disastrous consequences. [Yes, being forced out of your home by ballooning property values in a fevered market is a disaster for those forced out.]

The Std-Ex story recounts State Rep. Gage Froerer's [R-Ogden's Hole] call for property tax rebates for those hardest hit. Earlier this week, Rep. Froerer, accompanied by a Weber County commissioner and county tax staff, took part in a public meeting up in the Valley to explain to angry residents why their taxes had soared so far so fast. Rep. Froerer got his ears pinned back. The residents were in no mood to listen to accounting explanations. They were angry and frustrated and afraid of losing their homes and they let Rep. Froerer know it.

Apparently, Rep. Froerer then did something very strange for a Republican office holder: he listened. [What would the President think if he found out? Happily for Froerer, the President is on yet another paid vacation and so is unlikely to learn of Froerer's apostasy.] Rep. Froerer, according to the Std-Ex story, is advocating a tax rebate for those hardest hit, modeled on a similar plan in Davis County.

Ed. Note: For robust and thorough coverage of the percipient tax revolt now brewing in Ogden Valley, be sure to check out the most recent articles in Ogden Valley Forum.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Council Discusses Downtown Development & Transit

Report on last night's 8.16.07 RDA and city council work sessions

By Curmudgeon

Last night, the City Council held back to back work sessions, the first sitting as the RDA Board, and the second, as the Council. The RDA work session came first. All members of the Council were present within moments of the session’s beginning.

Mr. Harmer introduced Mr. Tom Christopolous [sp?] as Ogden’s new business development manager. He replaces Mr. Scott Brown in that position. Mr. Christopolous formerly held a similar job for the city of Layton. He left to go into business, succeeded, recently sold his business and so was available for the development post in Ogden, Mr. Harmer said.

The main topic of the meeting was the proposed RDA and other city funding for the Windsor Hotel rehab project on 25th Street. Mr. Harmer began by noting that Ms. D. Littrell had sent a letter to the City raising three questions about the three out of state investors in the Windsor Project and their Ogden company [Ogden Properties LLC]. Mr. Harmer passed the questions on to the OP LLC investors and they responded to all of them. First, Ms. Littrell wanted to know why someone other than the three investors was listed as the company’s registered agent in Utah. The three investors in OP LLC are all Californians and Utah law requires that an LLC in Utah have a Utah resident as registered agent, Mr. Harmer explained. Second, Ms. Littrell apparently alleged that one of the investors,[ a Mr. Nichols I think] had headed up a bicycle company [Ibis] that had gone bankrupt. Mr. Harmer explained that Mr. Nichols had sold his profitable company to others, who ran it into bankruptcy, at which point Mr. Nichols repurchased it, and made it profitable again. Finally, Ms. Littrell raised questions about Mr. Scott Brown’s involvement in the Windsor project investment group. Mr. Harmer said the OP LLC investors replied that Mr. Brown is “not an equity participant” in the project and that they have “no contractual arrangement” with Mr. Brown. Mr. Harmer did say Mr. Brown was providing some advice to the partners about organizing their company and projects in Ogden, but that it was being done as a favor, not as a participant in the investment.

Read the full report.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Free Candidate Web Pages at Weber County Forum

Get your candidate links and web pages here

Being veritable slaves to tradition here at Weber County Forum, we are pleased to announce this morning the continuation of a practice which we've been following here at WCF since clear back in 2005. Yes, gentle readers -- once again -- with the Emerald City municipal elections on calender this year -- we'd like to announce that we'll be assembling another hopefully robust "elections module" in our right sidebar.

In that connection, we invite our readers to avert their eyes to the right of their screens, and to click on the "Candidates for Office" link beneath the "Ogden Election 2007" header. What you'll find there is a complete 2007 Ogden City elections candidate roster, with contact information provided to us by the Ogden city recorders office. During the past week or so we've been contacting candidates, and madly googling the net. In the course of that effort we have augmented the city-provided information with additional candidate email and website links . Unlike the 2005 election, in which none of the candidates for municipal office operated their own websites, we have this year already identified four Emerald City candidate-operated campaign sites.

Additionally, we have installed several "candidate pages" within our own blog archives, containing information and photo images from two candidates for Emerald City Council seats who've decided not to set up their own sites. We anticipate setting up more of these pages in the days to come.

With this in mind, we now extend an invitation to all candidates for elective city offices in the year 2007:

• If you have established your own free-standing candidate website, please send us your site URL (via the email contact link in our upper-right sidebar,) which we'll link from our candidate roster.

• If you do not have your own website, feel free to send us your formatted text data (the MS-Word is easiest to work with) and any graphic image that you'd like to have displayed (JPG format is best.) Once this data has been received by us, we'll happily set up your web page in a manner similar to those already set up to date.
In short, there's no reason at all that any candidate for Emerald City elected office should NOT have their own web presence.

And to the rest of our Weber County Forum readership, we urge you to keep your eye on our election module as the September 11, primary approaches. Our election feature was one stop shopping for municipal election information in the year 2005, and it's our aim to pull off the same this year.

This project is of course a work in progress. And with this in mind, we also request that those gentle readers with friends or associates who are candidates for Emerald City elected office to alert those candidates to visit and submit their their information to this site. Hopefully, by the date of the September primary we'll have web data and email addresses for all Ogden City candidates, as well as useful links to other pages and sites pertinent to our primary election.

Take it away, gentle readers.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Gangs, "The G-Train" and a Hard-hitting Letter to the Editor

A Tuesday morning Emerald City news potpourri

Once again, this morning's top Standard-Examiner headline story is focused on the rampant "gang problem" in Emerald City, with an Ace Reporter Schwebke report on last night's Councilman Jesse Garcia's community meeting, which had been earlier announced in Sunday morning's Std-Ex edition.

From all reports, there was a "standing room only" crowd of concerned Emerald City citizens in attendance, together with a panel of "experts," assembled by Garcia on short notice to give their presentations.

Noticeably absent from this event was Emerald City's "Boss of Bosses," Mayor Matthew Godfrey, the one Emerald City citizen who ought to have been there, listening with his ears wide open. We're going to assume that Boss Godfrey was busy with other more important business (such as shaking down other Emerald City citizens for four-figure campaign contributions.)

We've received a report that several other elected officials and candidates for municipal office did however make room in their own busy schedules to attend this event, i.e. Neil Hansen, Susie Van Hooser, Amy Wicks, Jim Freed, and Caitlin Gochnour, thus giving us assurance that there are at least a few candidates for elected city offices who are interested in hearing from the lumpencitizens.

As an added bonus, we link this special first-hand report from Weber County Forum's own reader-correspondent Bill C., who kindly sent us his short write-up late last night.

Also in the news today is one of Boss Godfrey's very own most special friends, Sue "G-Train" Wilkerson, who, according to this additional Scott Schwebke story, is snatching up and developing central city properties like a madman. The article refers to hundreds of thousands of of city dollars floating around for the construction and rehabilitation of homes in the Jefferson Avenue Historic District. Whether Ms. Wilkerson actually got her hands on some of that taxpayer dough for her own projects -- Ace Reporter Schwebke does not tell us. What we do know however, is that it's usually financially beneficial to be a close and loyal "Friend of Matt (FOM)." In other words, being an FOM is not an entirely irrational state of being.

And finally, we highlight this morning's Emily Smith letter to the editor, bringing again to the public forefront questions about the pathological secrecy and questionable business practices of the current mayoral administration. This letter packs quite a political wallop, and is a model of efficient and intelligent argument, we think. As we stand poised with less than one month remaining before the 2007 municipal primary, we hope many of our gentle and well-informed readers will be inspired by Ms. Smith's effort, and write their own missives for publication in our home-town newspaper.

Okay, that's it for now, gentle gentle readers. It's now your turn to let everybody know what you think.

Update 8/18/07 10:31 a.m. MT: Std-Ex editor Dave Greiling has an article in this morning's edition, providing some interesting background information about the production of the Standard-Examiner's recent "gangs series."

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Topic of Ogden City Gang-bangers Dominates the Discussion

Boss Godfrey's worst pre-election nightmare

We have to hand it to the Standard-Examiner. When they get a bee in their bonnet, and sniff out a hot topic that will sell a whole lot of newspapers -- they commit themselves 110%.

We refer of course to yesterday's Std-Ex edition, in which our home town newspaper features no fewer than eight stories about the festering local gang problem, in and about our beloved Emerald City. In the course of compiling information for yesterday's newspaper, the Std-Ex editors assigned at least seven reporters and other staff to this herculean effort, according to our quick head-count. We'll make the tally "eight," if we count the fine Grondahl cartoon.

While to some readers this will seem like reporting yesterday's news today, your blogmeister took most of the weekend off, so all of this was news to us this morning when we arrived back in our plush and hi-tech Weber County Forum offices high on the hill overlooking Emerald City. For those readers (especially the out-of-towners who may not have already taken a peek at this impressive collection of articles, we've helpfully gathered the links below:

The Standard-Examiner 8/12/07 Emerald City Gangsta Article Compendium

(Chris Peterson was unavailable for comment.)

Not to let any grass grow under the Std-Ex's feet, the folks at the newspaper provide yet two more stories today, on the local gang-banger topic:

The first of these,"Suppression versus Prevention", consists of a somewhat predictable he said-she said crosstalk, on the issues framed in the headline, between a former Emerald City gang-banger turned criminal justice professor, and hard-nosed Emerald City cops (Chief Greiner, for instance.)

Today's second article, "Too many parents in denial, police say," is aimed at the family values segment of Std-Ex readership, and to those parents who have latch-key kids, we guess. Here's the gist of it:

OGDEN — A nurturing home environment is key to keeping impressionable kids out of gangs, says a veteran Ogden police officer.

Parents must be involved in their children’s lives and be willing to face the cold reality that certain kinds of tattoos, clothing and behavior are an indication of gang affiliation, said Sgt. Kevin Cottrell, head of the Ogden Metro Gang Unit.

“We deal with so many parents who are in denial,” he said. “They tell us to our face that their kids are not in a gang.”
Coming soon from the Standard-Examiner, we hope, will be a thoroughly-researched and information-rich expose' on the gang that operates from the ninth floor of city hall. The "Boss Godfrey Gang," is how they're known "on the street."

For that we can only hope.

We'll now abruptly shift gears to another subject that's near and dear to our Weber County Forum hearts, and focus on this morning's Tim Gurrister article, which reports that State Supreme Court efforts to overhaul the Utah Justice Court system are right on track. Good on ya, Tim. Thanks for the update.

The floor's all yours, gentle readers. Please don't hesitate to use this forum to clear out the weekend cobwebs.

Friday, August 10, 2007

When Is Enough Enough?

Wanted: A mayor willing to spend more time administering his city than putting it "on the map"

This morning's Standard-Examiner letters section includes a reader letter, framing a thought that has rattled through the brain of many an Ogdenite in recent years:

It's time Ogden addresses safety issues

I would like to congratulate Mayor Godfrey on the new downtown developments. Now, if it just felt safe to leave my house.

Jay Hartwell
The spate of recent Emerald City gang violence has many of the lumpencitizens scratching their heads, wondering how it was possible for Boss Godfrey to have so casually neglected the festering criminal culture which appears to have arisen in our city during his 7-1/2 year administration.

During the years the Ogden Police were screaming for more funds and manpower to fight our city's looming crime problems, Boss Godfrey responded by doubling personnel in the Traffic Division. As it became obvious to every "street cop" in Ogden that our OPD Patrol Division, Narcotic Unit, Gang Unit and the Detective Division were laughably understaffed and underpaid, Boss Godfrey misapplied police manpower to the writing of traffic citations.

And now that our city has arrived in the unenviable position of arguably becoming the violent crime capitol of Utah, the citizens of Ogden are falling back on quick-but-cheap solutions:

• Last Wednesday, Boss Godfrey held a press conference to announce an eleventh-hour administration "War on Gangs," an obvious band-aid approach, which boils down to adding a mere two OPD vehicle patrol units to the thousands of miles of Emerald City streets.

• Today, the Std-Ex breathlessly announces the arrival in Emerald City of New York City's famous "Guardian Angels." We'll assume that this is a purely citizen-initiated, do-it-yourself approach, inasmuch as Boss Godfrey held no press conference.

And yet even now, Boss Godfrey has announced no comprehensive plan to seriously beef up the OPD division that is charged with the duty of patrolling Ogden City's thousands of miles of streets, nor to provide direly-needed funding to the Gang Unit or other sub-divisions in the Ogden City Police Department whose missions are to fight actual crime.

Somehow, in our blindness, we citizens of Emerald City allowed ourselves to twice elect to the mayoral office a man whose priorities are obsessively focused on building monuments to himself, and always giving a friendly helping hand to his crony friends. During nearly eight years in office, Boss Godfrey has evidenced neither the interest nor the inclination to devote himself to the fundamental tasks of administering our city. Our public safety is of little concern to a man who considers the city that he governs to be his personal monopoly board.

At this point we're going to segue to an article appearing in yesterday's Salt Lake City Weekly, about the City of Murray, a Utah blue-collar town with demographics quite similar to ours. And from that article -- we'll extract what we believe to be some very wise observations:

It depends on what you’re looking for, but for smart residents of the area, Murray fits the bill as the valley’s top city. Murray has a mayor who spends more time administering his city than trying to put it “on the map.” Murray has its own cops and fire department. It has its own school district, its own water and its own electricity. Murray has everything any decent taxpayer could want from Little Leagues to fine parks and recreation centers to decent roads and safe streets. Murray has its own parades, fireworks and picnics. Yet two things clearly stand out in Murray’s favor: lots of bars and low taxes.

Tax appraisals and assessments were recently sent to area homeowners. As folks opened those letters, slight registries were made at the University of Utah’s seismic center as one person after the other fainted and fell to ground. Blip. Blip. Blip. Many of them got up and sent bitchy letters to the editor to local newspapers. As if that would help—criminy, people, the local papers want land values to go up! A depressed community can’t support crappy newspapers! Have you missed all those glowing reports of how fast our homes are accelerating in value? Weren’t you pleased to read about that and then nearly spending your newfound riches? Only to find that there are not enough qualified buyers or Californians to go around? But your appraisals and associated taxes went up anyway?

I opened my appraisal letter and saw that Salt Lake County claims my home is far more valuable than I thought. They have it increasing dramatically over the prior year, like homes across the valley. Then I looked at the next line that says how much tax I have to pay this year on my home. I live in Murray. What, me worry? Nope. My property taxes went down around 10 percent from the year prior.
What Mr. Salas doesn't tell us is that, although his Murray property values "went up," ("dramatically" he says,) they obviously didn't "go up" nearly as dramatically as those of his neighbors in other communities in Salt Lake County -- communities who aggressively (and blindly, we think) continue to pursue the government-driven economic development siren-call. Thus Mr. Salas's tax bill actually declined, even though his property value had risen. In the final analysis, his increased property value apparently represented a smaller slice of the tax assessment pie than that of like-situated taxpayers in neighboring communities.

Food for thought for the Emerald City lumpencitizens, we think. What true value do citizens of a stable community place on increased property values anyway, unless they're planning to sell their properties, or buy new toys through financially imprudent, equity-gobbling second mortgages?

As the September 11 municipal primary approaches, perhaps it's time we gave a thought to our priorities as a community. How much aggressive government-driven development is enough, we ask? Will we ever know when we've had enough?

Is it time for the residents of Emerald City to elect a mayor who spends more time administering his city than trying to put it “on the map?” Is it time to once again rely primarily on the time-tested forces of the free market? Isn't it time to insist that Boss Godfrey play the game of "Monopoly" with somebody else's "Monopoly Board?" And what about public safety? How long can this city keep it on the back-burner?

We wonder what our gentle readers think about all this.

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Boss Godfrey's #1 Henchman Responds

Invitation to a Weber County Forum piñata party

By Monotreme

I'd like to start the piñata party over John Patterson's Op-Ed piece in this morning's Standard-Examiner, concerning the Godfrey administration's recently revealed GRAMA email collection.

Right out of the gate, Mr. Patterson promises us "the simple truth," yet his explanations are convoluted and don't even fit in the Standard's Op-Ed block. One has to go to the online edition of the piece to read the full version of Mr. Patterson's dissembling.

"Please understand all of the numbers we have used were calculated by consultants not hired by this administration."
This is simply false. The ridership numbers used (and the financial projections) were made up out of whole cloth. No consultants were used to derive these numbers, because no studies were done.

I challenge Mr. Patterson to reveal the sources of the ridership numbers and financial projections used in the so-called "gondola study". The Baker Study concerned projected need for mass transit, as far as I'm aware, not how many people would actually ride a jacked-up amusement park ride. Big difference.

"The Adopted Strategic Plan stated GOAL 9.0: Evaluate the feasibility and merits of a gondola from Ogden to Snowbasin." Well, yes. And did the City Council, at any time, adopt a GOAL of looking into an urban gondola to nowhere in particular, connecting to a gondola to an imaginary mountain troll lair halfway up Mt. Ogden? The proposed gondola-gondola study, for which the city tried to obtain UTA funding, was for a gondola that did not go to Snowbasin.

The final paragraph is a masterpiece of nonsense. "There has not been any attempt by the administration to 'keep the public and the City Council out of the loop as they studied the gondola-resort proposal.'"

Heck, I'm a member of the public, and I felt kept out of the loop. What about the years of "we have the draft form of the double-top-secret gondola study, but I don't know if I can release it"? What about the years of "I don't have to tell you who paid for the consultants, the trips, the expenses for a public relations firm to prepare this dog and pony show that my friend Chris is peddling"? Yes, Mr. Patterson, we were kept out of the loop. We continue to be out of the loop.

Have you ever answered Councilwoman Wicks' question about how much city money was spent on this nonsensical (and now-abandoned) plan?

Come September 11, we intend to vote for someone who will keep us informed of how our money is being spent and how public policy decisions are made. We want a city government that operates in the light, not in the dark. We want a city government that informs us, not one that responds half-heartedly to repeated GRAMA requests. We want a city government that doesn't lie to us.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tuesday Morning Tidbits

One month prior to the election primary, Boss Godfrey begins posing as a real mayor

By Curmudgeon

Mayor Godfrey is a seasoned campaigner, who knows how to use his incumbency to good advantage, to win him good ink the papers, and to shift the public's focus off topics he'd rather not have people discussing over their morning coffee -- like his attempts to have the taxpayers pay off a quarter of a million dollars in development costs for his crony Chris Peterson, involving the failed real estate development scheme intended for Ogden city parklands on the benches.

Good examples in this morning's papers here and in Salt Lake City.

First, in this morning's Std-Ex, there is this story headlined "Godfrey, vets lobby for nursing home." Here are the opening graphs:

SALT LAKE CITY — Mayor Matthew Godfrey and a contingent of veterans lobbied state officials Monday for $19 million to construct a long-awaited nursing home in Ogden. The group wants Gov. Jon Huntsman to include the allocation in his fiscal 2009 budget request to be submitted to the Legislature next year, Godfrey said.
Then there's this story from this morning's Salt Lake Trib, headlined "Ogden to crack down on gangs." The story combines a report of the latest gang violence in Ogden [more yesterday] and reports of a new initiative by the Mayor to deal with it. From the story:

OGDEN - Police plan to double their efforts to crack down on gangs in the wake of a double homicide Sunday that punctuated a recent spike in gang-related violence. And Mayor Matthew Godfrey is preparing to announce several initiatives today to battle the crime wave.
Police and politicians alike say that seven gang-related shootings in a month are unacceptable in a city that has touted its decline in crime over the past eight years.

"We're going after [gangs]," Godfrey said. "We're not going to wait around and see if this subsides. This kind of increase happens in Salt Lake County, but it does not here, so we will be putting a stop to it."
[The Std-Ex has three gang-related stories, but nothing yet on the Mayor's new gangs initiatives, though once he holds that press conference, it too will be front page news.]

Now, let me say that of course, the Mayor of Ogden supports the building of a veteran's home in the area. It's a good idea, long overdue, and would help the area's economy as well, and I do not doubt for a second the sincerity of the Mayor's support for it. Similarly, of course he wants to cut down on gang violence, and eliminate it if possible in Ogden, and sincerely so. No sane public official would want to do anything else --- though it might be suggested by some, myself among them, that the Mayor seems a little late focusing on gang-violence in the city and coming up with initiatives to deal with it. And he is coming very visibly on board as the election approaches. But that, really, is the point. He is a seasoned campaigner and an elected official and he knows how to use the fact of his being Mayor to generate press coverage and move the public's focus in directions favorable to him.

The Mayor was working the crowd at the "night out against crime" event downtown yesterday evening. Shaking hands, talking to voters. Big signs announcing his presence. I'm not sure how many other mayoral candidates were there, if any. If they were, they were not nearly so visible as the Mayor. He knows how to do this, has a record of doing it successfully and is, reportedly, well financed. All this by way of suggesting to those who think the Mayor is done [and some who think that post here regularly] that such assumptions are risky when the guy you think is done is an experienced, successful and now well-financed candidate.

Finally, there is a Std-Ex piece on transit, pretty far back in the paper that it might not get noticed much, so I thought I'd link it here. The headline is "Fresno mulls a return to streetcars." From the story:

FRESNO, Calif. — Fresno leaders are looking into an old idea to deliver new life downtown. Think streetcars. That’s a key element of the latest revitalization plan from Mayor Alan Autry’s administration....

Streetcars are being used by more than two dozen cities across the United States as a way to jump-start development and reduce air pollution.

Fresno hopes to follow suit. About 30 city officials, elected leaders and local developers are traveling to Portland, Ore., this week to look at its streetcar system and the residential and commercial development that has sprung up around it. The city is picking up the group’s $20,000 airfare and lodging tab.

In Portland, they will examine a 7.2-mile streetcar loop that links downtown with several neighboring districts. It cost $100 million, and another mile will soon be added to the route for $14.5 million.

Since it opened in 2001, more than $2 billion in development has occurred within two blocks of the streetcar rail line, Portland officials say. This includes about 7,200 new homes and 4.6 million square feet of offices, stores and hotels.
Pity the poor people of Portland, and now Fresno, who have Mayors who support investing those cities' transit money in to streetcars instead of gondolas. Think how angry all those people in Portland who invested billions... yes, with a "b" ... in trackside commercial and residential development are going to be when they realize they could have had a gondola whizzing overhead carrying potential customers and residents past their businesses and apartments and condos with no way to get down to them instead.... Think how lucky Ogden is to have a mayor who thinks differently.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Civics Lessons We Learned "the Hard Way"

Two more reasons to oust Boss Godfrey in September

We'll direct our readers' attention this morning to a couple of items of interest, each of which relates to our upcoming September 11 municipal primary election:

Sharp-eyed reader Curmudgeon this morning spotted an interesting article in today's Salt Lake Tribune, which pertains to a problem that has been a pet peeve of Weber County Forum since the very early days of this blog. We duly incorporate for our readers' attention gentle Curmudgeon's text, cut and pasted from a lower article comments section:
The Salt Lake Trib is running a story this morning about a proposed overhaul of the justice court system to make the judges full time state employees, paid by the state as other state judges are, and subject to voter reconfirmation after each six year term. The matter of justice courts being cash cows for local government, and of the judges' pay coming out of the fines they assess has come up here before.
Indeed, the establishment of our very own Emerald City Justice Court has drawn plenty of "electronic ink" on these pages over the past two years. For us, the opening of a Justice Court in our city, in conjunction with Boss Godfrey's aggressive and still operational ticket quota system, is just another example -- in a long line of examples -- of the current administration's harsh and citizen-unfriendly style of municipal governance.

Our regular readers will recall, of course, that it was the issue of ticket quotas which also led in the year 2006 to one of the most embarrassing incidents in recent Emerald City history -- the now notorious "Vangate scandal."

Although we know that the lumpencitizenry of our little Utah town have long memories, we nevertheless see no harm in refreshing our readers' recollections as to these events.

And speaking of jogging our readers' memories, this morning's Standard-Examiner features an excellent guest commentary, by Emerald City resident Kathy Gambles, on the topic of "what we've all learned" during eight years of Boss Godfrey tyranny.

These lessons have been learned "the hard way" by our resourceful Emerald City community of course.

We'll also add our sincere hope that we of Emerald City have learned one other thing which Ms. Gambles doesn't mention -- the location of our neighborhood primary election polling places.

You know what to do, WCF readers. Do it at your neighborhood polling place on September 11, 2007.

Have at it, O gentle ones.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Several Items in the Morning News

Friday morning open topic thread

We find several items in the morning news today, on topics we believe should be of particular interest to our Weber County Forum readers.

The first is a commentary submitted to us by gentle reader Dan S., who highlights two articles from this morning's Standard-Examiner, on the subjects of property taxes, the rising cost of housing, and the declining number of families who can afford to own a home.

Dan makes several thoughtful political points, relevant to the upcoming municipal election. He also raises the inevitable question -- whether rising home values are "necessarily a good thing" for a stable "homeowner"community.

Secondly, the New York Times reports that the U.S. Senate gave final approval yesterday to a package of new ethics and lobbying rules, with an overwhelming majority of Republicans and Democrats agreeing to improve policing of the relationship between lawmakers and lobbyists.

Among other things, the new legislation calls for bans on gifts, meals and travel paid for by lobbyists and makes it more difficult for lawmakers to capitalize quickly on their connections when joining the private sector.

Noticeably absent from this new bill are restrictions on pork-barrel earmarks.

The legislation is reportedly receiving "mixed reviews" on Capitol Hill, even amongst some legislators who voted to aprove it, which make us wonder what our readers "out here in the provinces" think about it.

Please consider these two items suggested topics for today's discussion -- or alternatively treat this space as an open thread.

Whatever you do, however, we hope you won't let the cat get your tongues.

Update 8/5/07 7:44 p.m. MT: The Deseret Morning News ran a very well-documented article on the Utah rising property value/property tax problem in this morning's addition, which we link here for our readers' attention.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Pure Genius

"Taking care" of Boss Godfrey's crony: A novel approach to "saving" taxpayer dollars

By Dan S.

As many of us were hoping, the Standard-Examiner's Ace Reporter Schwebke has a second article today on the revelations of the recently obtained emails regarding the secret gondola study and UTA.

For Std-Ex readers, the new information here is that the Godfrey administration wanted to use the rest of the $247,500 (after getting LYRB paid) to reimburse Chris Peterson for his costs associated with the project. As I reported above, UTA is emphatic that it will not make any such reimbursements.

For those who have been following this issue here on Weber County Forum, the only thing new in the story is Mayor Godfrey's explanation: "We were trying to connect UTA with vendors to get information that UTA wanted," he insists. "A lot of the background work has been done" by Peterson's vendors, so having UTA reimburse these vendors will "save money for UTA" -- in the words of the mayor.

That's right, folks: According to our mayor, the way for UTA to save money is to give the money to Peterson. I really have to congratulate Godfrey for this one. He's an absolute genius. This method of saving taxpayer money never would have occurred to me in a million years.

Presumably, we can also infer that this valuable information from Peterson's vendors will now not be made available to UTA or to the public, since UTA is unwilling to pay Peterson for it. Any studies that Peterson has already commissioned will be kept secret from UTA and from the public.

Peterson, once again, did not respond to an email from the Std-Ex seeking comment.

Of course, the mayor's response is also an admission that he was fully aware of the plan to ask UTA to reimburse Peterson. If I had to guess, I'd say he's probably the one who thought up the plan.

Pure genius.

Ed. Note: A hearty Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to both Dan Schroeder and Scott Schwebke for their tireless efforts in bringing this important information to the public forefront.

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