Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Breaking News Re Godfreyite Political Dirty Tricks

Boss Godfrey crudely manufactures and fabricates a bogus Governor Huntsman "endorsement"

We've had several communications this afternoon from gentle readers reporting that The Boss Godfrey campaign is now resorting to desperate political dirty tricks.

The word is that the Godfreyites are using one of those infernal autodialer machines, to deliver a purported Governor Huntsman endorsement of Boss Godfrey to lumpencitizens who are so unfortunate as to find their phone numbers listed on the publicly-available registered voter lists.

What these evil Godfreyites are doing is misrepresenting the facts -- i.e., LYING. What they've done is to "cut" a few pro-Godfrey words from a generic speech made by Jon Huntsman a few weeks ago, during the Amer Sports ribbon cutting. What they've done with that is to launch a robot phone-dialer spam campaign, based on some crude cut/pastes, and have similarly produced at least one now-running highly deceptive radio ad.

We've talked to the press spokesman for Governor Huntsman's office within the last hour, where the phones have been predictably "ringing off the hook" about this. She assures us that the matter appearing on the radio, as well as the content included in the autodialor spam, is entirely unauthorized by the Huntsman administration.

She also assures us that Governor Huntsman HAS NOT ENDORSED BOSS GODFREY!

Update 11/1/07 6:08 a.m. MT: This morning's Standard-Examiner reports that Governor Huntsman's office "asked" Boss Godfrey yesterday to "pull" the unauthorized autodialer spam message. Godfrey's campaign, which is being run by a $6 thousand/month campaign management professional, with experience in major camaigns all over Utah, feigns innocence, claiming it was all a big mistake. Here's Godgrey's lame excuse for his campaign's latest breach of campaign ethics: "Godfrey said his campaign staff wasn’t told it needed permission to include the sound bite in the phone message."

Yeah... that's the ticket. Right.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wads of Campaign Cash and Public Transit

Today's two topics which are not entirely unrelated
Plus: An announcent of another candidate event

The Standard-Examiner finally gets around to reporting on the second round of election 2007 campaign financial disclosures this morning, with this Scott Schwebke story in this morning's newspaper.

As we also learned from Kristen Moulton on Saturday, Boss Godfrey has raked in $183, 540 as of October 26, the filing date for the second reporting period. This sum of course exceeds the campaign war chests of ALL other candidates combined, and is more than triple the amount raised so far by his challenger, Susie Van Hooser.

It's startling, we think, that Godfrey's expenditure for his professional campaign manager, $54,324, itself surpasses the $52, 420 that Ms. Van Hooser has raised for her entire campaign. The sheer magnificence of Godfrey's campaign fund should not surprise anyone however. There are many friends of Matt who've received special favors over the past years; and now that the election has rolled around, it's time for big-time payback.

Lest we leap to the conclusion that Godfrey's campaign is indulging in fund-raising overkill, or that the size of Godfrey's campaign warchest is overly grotesque, Boss Godfrey assures us that there's nothing unseemly about raising and spending such an obscene wad of cash. Godfrey recognises that he's accumulated a lot of "bad karma" during his 8-year reign of terror, and he's hoping all that dough will set things right:
Godfrey said Monday he has had to raise a lot of campaign funds to refute attacks from critics while promoting his platform.

“Having been in office for eight years, I’ve received a tremendous amount of criticism, so I need to defend myself against the critics while also talking about what I plan to do in the next four years,” he said.
We think Boss Godfrey may have a point; and we wonder if any amount could ever be sufficient to offset the ill-will that Godfrey has accumulated over the past eight years. We'll find out soon enough, won't we.

On another topic, WSU professor Bryan Dorsey contributes an excellent Op-ed piece on this morning's Std-Ex editorial page, making some comparisons between competing transit systems, and delivering a soft sales pitch for street cars as the logical choice for Emerald City public transit. Professor Dorsey also asks the question: "So why is Ogden waiting to get in line for federal funding for transit oriented development?"

"Good question, Professor Dorsey" we say. "That's something many of us have been wondering."

Announcement: On another note, we've received notice from Dirk Youngberg, of the Ogden firefighters' union, concerning another candidate forum scheduled for later this week. For those lumpencitizens who'd like another live look at our city council candidate slate, please take note that a council candidates forum has been set for 7:00 p.m. on November 2d. This could be your last chance, by the way, to see these wild and crazy guys gathered together as a group.

That's it for the WCF-relevant news this morning. Let's hear it from our gentle readers.

Election update 10/30/07 4:42 p.m.m MT: We've just now spoken with State representive Neil Hansen, who garnered 20% of the vote in last month's Emerald City mayoral primary race. Representative Hansen will be holding a press conference on Thursday at the Weber County Building.....NE corner of 24th and Washington Blvd at 1 PM in Ogden -- In front of the "ski statue" whatever the heck that is.

Something tells us Hansen's announcment will decide the mayoral race, once and for all.

Right now, we think Neil Hansen is without a doubt the most important man in Ogden. We'll be sitting on the edges of our seats until Thursday's Hansen press conference.

Stay tuned. The political situation in Ogden gets more interesting by the moment

Monday, October 29, 2007

Yesterday's News Today

And a couple of humdingers from this morning's news

To kick off the new week, we'll start off by briefly highlighting several letters appearing in yesterday's Standard-Examiner. Each relates to issues fundamental to next week's 2007 municipal election:

First, Lynette Belka identifies "mistrust" as an overriding issue regarding the candidacies of Boss Godfrey, Johnson, Petersen and Eccles. As Ms. Belka aptly notes, both Peterson and Eccles are already demonstrating a troubling pattern of "duplicity" regarding their earlier endorsements of Boss Godfrey's now "defunct" Chris Peterson Landgrab proposal. Imagine people, four more years of governance under the crafty and dodgy "pod people".

Next, we'll highlight yesterday's Dirk Youngberg letter, in which the esteemed former firefighter zeros in on an issue that's cropped up twice in candidate forums during the past two weeks. Specifically, Boss Godfrey continues to argue that the civil service commission is an obstacle to the hiring of more police officers. This is of course an issue that's been previously discussed in this forum; and we've expressed our own differences of opinion regarding Godfrey's true motivations. We strongly urge our readers to check out Mr. Youngberg's letter, in which he sets forth the truth about this issue, briefly and concisely.

Today's Ace Reporter Schwebke front page story deals with another issue which has plagued Emerald City for the entirety of Boss Godfrey's administration: culinary water that has the taste and smell of a poorly maintained fish tank. Ace Reporter Schwebke reports that the city council continues its initiative to address this problem. Infrastructure problems like water and sewer are of course not "cool and sexy" like everything Boss Godfrey prefers to address, however. Thus the council pursues this project without dear leader's cooperation. And as the situation develops, and the taxpayers of Ogden start bracing themselves for the inevitable water rate increase, we hope that more than a few of the lumpencitizens will ponder the wisdom of the "visionary" Boss Godfrey, who diverted Business Depot Ogden lease revenue (which had been earlier earmarked for water and sewer repair and improvement,) to his doomed-to-failure Penny Arcade/Bowling Alley Project.

Finally we turn to this morning's Victoria Johnson story, in which this relatively new face on the Std-Ex staff delivers a remarkably robust and fact-filled examination of "Gunplay in Ogden."

Gunplay is on the upswing in Ogden, if you believe the reported statistics. Of course adminstration spokemen assure us you can't actually rely on the statistics, inasmuch as they've been "tweaked," and are admitted by Chief Greiner to be bogus. For example, if shots are fired by a gang-banger with a revolver, the report will be considered unsubstantiated, because no spent cartridges can be found. And then there's this... as Ms. Johnson reports, victims who have actually been shot... won't find their reports among the "shots fired" category:
However, a shooting where someone is hit will usually be classified by dispatch workers as an assault or something else, potentially taking the most serious shootings out of the “shots fired” pool, meaning the number is actually higher than that given by police.

Such was the case in September, when Jesus Aparicio, 22, was shot and killed in the parking lot of the Phillips Kicks 66 at 30th Street and Washington Boulevard. The report was classified in the dispatch center as “call type not found,” instead of a “shots fired” call.
Hooboy. Read the article. We swear we did not make this up.

For more analysis on this latter story, be sure to read Gentle Curmudgeon's expanded comments, which we've uploaded to one of our archive pages.

You're on, gentle readers. If you need to blow out the weekend cobwebs, don't hesitate to do it here.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bone-headed Endorsements and Much More Campaign Loot

Just imagine another four years of the Evil Boss Godfrey -- with a voter mandate in his miniscule munchkin mitts

After Thursday's Standard-Examainer head-fake, wherein Std-Ex publisher Lee Carter and his captive editorial board endorsed non-Godfreyite council incumbent Amy Wicks for re-election to her Emerald City At-large Seat "A", we were poised to welcome a new posture for our home town newspaper. Believing that this endorsement perhaps signaled the Std-Ex's departure from embracing everything Godfreyesque, (and a movement toward common sense) we were prepared (gasp) even to abandon our long-held notion that the Standard-Examiner was nothing more than the Boss Godfrey Official House Propaganda Organ. So far; so bad.

Alas, the Std-Ex backpedaled yesterday, and endorsed Godfrey henchman and certified gondolist Blain Johnson. And today's Std-Ex endorsement is even more shocking to us. The Standard-Examiner's "pick of the day?" -- Kent "the Skipper" Petersen. Sheesh! We incorporate here a few key paragraphs from today's Std-Ex editorial recommendation:
Kent Petersen has lived in Ogden for 66 years. In that time he has accomplished a lot for Junction City and the Top of Utah. A co-owner of Petersen Motor Company and Petersen Marine Supply, besides his business experience, Petersen has actively worked to better the community.

To us, Petersen has a passion for Ogden, and a willingness to work hard toward goals that will make Junction City a better place to live. For that reason, the Standard-Examiner Editorial Board recommends voters cast their ballots on Nov. 6 for Petersen in the race for Ogden City Council Municipal Ward 4.

Petersen is committed to building consensus within the sometimes bitterly divided council. He’ll rely on his business experience to build trust with his colleagues. This will be needed as Ogden continues its quest to revitalize the city and improve the quality of life here. ...

Our recommendation is based on Petersen’s long record of community service, his proven desire to better Ogden and his reputation of being a leader who can accomplish tasks. He will be an asset to the Ogden City Council, and merits serious consideration from Ogden voters.
Excuse us folks, but isn't Petersen the same guy who was forced to divest his interest in his car dealership after an unfortunate and bone-head financial misadventure with get-rich-quick "investment guru" Wayne Ogden? And while we don't mean to suggest that we don't feel sorry for the poor trusting souls who lost millions to Ogden's most famous ponzi schemer, we will suggest that such investors showed a paltry dedication to their own due diligence, and a troubling tolerance for investment risk. It seems to us that folks who sit on our city council ought to be able to demonstrate, at the very least, a tolerable degree of financial prudence in their own affairs, before we select them to watch over our public purse.

And what about Petersen's early endorsement of the Chris Peterson Landgrab? As most regular readers already know, Kent Petersen's name was on the Gondolist Cult "A" list from the earliest possible moment, long before Boss Godfrey admitted the "plan" was "infeasible from the start." "Due diligence? We don't need no stinkin' due diligence," says the visionary Kent Petersen.

Kent Petersen's proven track record demonstrates the same "no questions asked" "bandwagon" mentality we've witnessed for years. It's time for a change, we think. We say "shame on the Standard-Examiner," and wonder what they've been smokin'.

Turning to another interesting topic, we now direct our readers' attention to this morning's Salt Lake Tribune story, wherein Kristen Moulton shines the spotlight again on Emerald City campaign finance. It seems that Boss Godfrey continues to raise obscene sums of campaign treasure:
OGDEN - Mayor Matthew Godfrey continued collecting record amounts of campaign cash in the past eight weeks, bringing in more than $83,000 and pushing his total raised so far to more than $183,000, according to finance reports filed Friday.

His challenger, Susan Van Hooser, raised more than $25,000 in the reporting period that began Sept. 1, bringing her total raised to $52,000.

Godfrey, who is seeking a third term, has spent more on a campaign consultant alone than Van Hooser, a one-year councilwoman, has raised. ...

Much of Godfrey's campaign money reported in his first filing came from developers, construction companies and real estate interests, and his most recent report includes some similar donations as well as sizable donations from ski companies and individuals.
Will our twisted "boy mayor," the champion of cronyism, corporate welfare, secrecy and deception, succeed in buying this election? Are we of Emerald City ready for another four years of round-the-clock, tooth-and-nail effort to keep our hyper-active Big Government in check? Are we really prepared for that? Shall our community be hopelessly divided for another four years? We'll find out in a few short days, won't we.

One thing's for sure, another four years of Boss Godfrey's reign of terror will make for a full employment economy for cranky bloggers. Are we truly ready for that?

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday's Emerald City Lowdown

How "low" can the Standard-Examiner go?

By Curmudgeon

Quite an issue of the Standard-Examiner this morning. Remarkable stuff therein. Let's begin with a piece by Mr. Schwebke, reporting that a new gang-crimes unit will hit "the mean streets of Central Ogden" this weekend. And he also reports that "The unit was supposed to begin operating in January, but instead will start next month to get a jump on crime. "

Ahem. Can it possibly be so that a daily newspaper reporter, in this cynical day and age, is so naive the he failed to so much as notice that the jumped up starting date for the gang crimes unit is two days before an election in which gang violence in Ogden has become an issue? That he believes the sole motive for suddenly jumping deployment of the unit ahead to two days before the election was purely to "get a jump on crime," and not to "get a jump on the election?" And I note Mr. Schwebke reported that conclusion about why the deployment date was advanced --- to "get a jump on crime" --- as his own, not Chief Greiner's. If Mr. Schwebke is in fact that credulous, I suggest the Std-Ex News Editor dispatch him to cover the arrival of the Easter Bunny on Ogden lawns next Spring. Maybe he can get an interview.

Then there's the Std-Ex's editorial endorsement of Blain Johnson for a seat on the Council. [I notice the editorial manages not to so much as mention the name of his opponent, Aardema.] What's interesting about the endorsement is that it highlights the way Mr. Johnson is running by claiming to oppose some of Mayor Godfrey's key initiatives over the past four years. Johnson says he's opposed to a city built downtown gondola. He is not, the Std-Ex editorial board concludes from that, a "yes man." Or, he's a Godfrey clone seeking election by pretending not to be. The editorial does note Mr. Johnson made his living as a lawyer for land developers for the most part. That of course does not make him necessarily a poor choice for sitting on the Council, but I would think it might have raised an eyebrow or two when the Mayor Mr. Johnson is supporting for a third term has spent the last four years truckling to large developers, trying to sell the city's parklands to one of them, and using developers' lawyers to draft legislation for the Council's consideration. [Recall the "Ellison Ordinance" from Mr. Peterson's attorney, just by way of example?]

Hmmmmm. Maybe my comments above were unfair to Mr. Schwebke. Maybe he is merely reflecting the credulity of his editors. We shall see.

Then there is the Std-Ex's reporting that Golf course, park to remain free from development --- the same golf course, mind you, that Mr. Blain Johnson's plans for development so impressed the Std-Ex editorial board. The story, by Mr. Schwebke, says that Mayor Matthew Godfrey signed a declaration Thursday to ensure Mount Ogden Golf Course and an adjoining city-owned park remain as open space. The declaration places legally binding covenants and restrictions on the property to prevent it from being developed, Godfrey said.

On this one at least, the fact that there is an election underway seems to have popped up on Mr. Schwebke's reportorial radar, for he adds that Mayor Godfrey is seeking a third term in next month’s general election.

A declaration? I'm more than a little confused about how a mayoral declaration can be legally binding on anything or anyone. Executive proclamations are normally used to declare National Brown Mustard Week or CrossWalk Safety Awareness Week In Ogden. But the story insists the Mayor insists that the declaration involves placing legally binding restrictions on sale or development of the park and surrounding park lands. What are these legally binding restrictions? The story doesn't say. Are they in fact legally binding? The reporter doesn't ask. Come Wednesday morning, the day after the election, will they have any force whatever? Readers aren't told.

This is, sadly, another exercise in press release journalism by the Standard-Examiner... just days before an election. From Ogden's home town paper, during the endgame of an election, we ought to expect better.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday Morning Chewies at the WCF Smorgasboard

Running the gamut of interesting Emerald City news

Our home town newspaper is brimming with 2007 election-related information this morning. We hardly know where to start.

We suppose however that this morning's lead editorial, in which the Standard Examiner editors make their first Emerald City election 2007 candidate endorsement, is the most significant article in this morning's Standard-Examiner lineup.

And which city council candidate does the Std-Ex recommend this morning? [drumroll]: Amy Wicks!

Our compliments to the Std-Ex for their most excellent pick. We couldn't have done better ourselves. And we suppose this endorsement does force us to sheepishly admit that the Std-Ex may not be a slavish Godfrey House Propaganda Organ after all.

Be sure to visit the Standard-Examiner's website, where you can view the taped interviews of councilwoman Wicks, along with that of her bumbling and hapless At-Large Seat "C" challenger, Royal Eccles.

Next on the Weber County Forum playlist this morning we'll direct our readers' attention to this John Greiner Op-ed rebuttal piece. Loyal trooper to the last, Chief Greiner this morning arises to the service of his Commander-in-Chief Boss Godfrey, and attempts to refute Professor Hutchins' startling 10/23/07 crime statistics Op-ed revelations. The apparent point of Chief Greiner's article: ALL crime stats are skewed, according to the whims of those who produce and/or collect them, says Chief Greiner. Ogden City owns its own statistics, and Boss Godfrey's administration won't stand for any danged professional neuroscientists interpreting their numbers, unless they attend all the proper crime conferences.

Next, we'll note today's obligatory Boss Godfrey rah-rah letter, submitted by the always reliable Gondolist lemming Jeanette Ballantyne. Yes we checked the Gondolist Cult membership list, and have confimed that Ms. Ballantyne is indeed a charter member.

And last but not least, we can't fail to note this morning's Boss Godfrey crime-fighting story, wherein Boss Godfrey goes beyond the mere reporting of his admittedly skewed crime statistics, but actually becomes part of Chief Greiner's own hopelessly-rigged crime stats database himself. Weber County Forum readers had of course earlier been made aware that Boss Godfrey apprehended a bicycle thief during the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Since then, the story has been reported in "weird news" columns all over the country, even as far away as North Texas.

Boss Godfrey has been struggling for years to put Emerald City "on the map." We believe he's succeeded this week. This is the best Ogden-related story, we think, since the last time Emerald City appeared on the weird news story map.

That's a wrapup of the morning's Emerald City news, WCF readers.

It's your turn to take it from here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mayoral Debate Tonight

Roman-style emperor of Ogden slugs it out with the mayoral candidate of the people

We're establishing this thread for discussion of tonight's debate. Lodge your pre-debate comments and predictions here. Post-debate comments and observations are strongly encouraged. Article-length reports will be uploaded to our storage site and linked to the front page. May the best woman win.

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Update 10/25/07 6:32 a.m. MT: Be sure to check out this morning's Standard-Examiner story, in which Scott Schwebke summarizes last night's debate.

A Remarkable Demonstration of Democracy in Action

UPDATED: Don't forget to attend tonight's debate

We find three articles in this morning's Standard-Examiner which should be of interest to our Weber County Forum readership.

By far the most important item of the day is this story, in which Scott Schwebke reports that the council approved the Mt. Ogden Community Plan, which was the main item on the council agenda at last night's meeting. We incorporate here Ace Reporter Schwebke's pertinent paragraphs:

"OGDEN — Following months of public input, the city council Tuesday night amended the municipality’s general plan by adopting a community plan for the Mount Ogden area.

Community plans have a narrower focus than the general plan and are used to balance the interests of the city and neighborhoods in addressing such issues as transportation, infrastructure, housing and public safety.

The Mount Ogden Community plan was developed by several citizen committees, the city council, and the municipality’s planning commission.

The 30-page document details characteristics and objectives important to the Mount Ogden area.

Those characteristics include community identity, land use, parks, open space, public infrastructure and services. ...

"Several objectives in the Mount Ogden Community Plan seemed aimed at Peterson’s proposal.

For example, the plan says the city should retain ownership of Mount Ogden Golf Course, an adjoining park and adjacent undeveloped open space and trails.

The city’s ordinances should also be revised to prohibit new gated communities and subdivisions in the Mount Ogden area, the plan states.

In addition, the plan recommends development of a citywide open space plan that creates an open space inventory and explores options for funding open space priorities. Also, open space zoning should be retained on Mount Ogden area land currently designated as such, the plan states."
Now that this new plan has been formally adopted, and thereby becomes a part of the Emerald City General Plan, we offer a hearty Weber County Forum Tip O' The Hat to each and every Emerald City citizen who participated in our community's herculean effort to bring the plan into fruition. As we've noted before, thousands of hours of citizen efforts contributed to this remarkable achievement, in a political environment in which Boss Godfrey and his administration fought like demons to undermine the process, and to thwart the will of the lumpencitizens. Emerald City citizens should be quite proud of themselves this morning, for their remarkable demonstration of democracy in action.

We'll also briefly highlight the two other stories, with minimal editorial comment:

Sam Cooper's report of last night's mayoral candidate forum is available here; and we invite any gentle readers who attended this event to carry on the discussion, and offer their further comments below.

Finally, as regular readers already know, Judge Baldwin of the Second District Court dismissed Ms. Littrell's lawsuit yesterday, as Tim Gurrister reports this morning. Inasmuch as this matter is now dismissed, without leave to amend, we trust that this will be the end of the discussion of this topic, and that we can all move forward to deal with the primary issues concerning our 2007 municipal election, which looms less than two weeks from today.

What's on the minds of our gentle readers this morning?

Update 10/24/07 10:57 a.m. MT: One reader has emailed us, requesting that we publish a reminder notice concerning tonight's Godfrey/Van Hooser debate. Once again, here's the event information: 7:00 p.m. today, Ogden Eccles Conference Center, 2415 Washington Boulevard, small ballroom. We also plan to establish a separate article thread early in the evening, dedicated to comments and observations from those readers who do attend.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mt. Ogden Community Plan Set for Approval Tonight

And a few words about an ill-timed post council meeting event

Tonight's the night gentle readers. Tonight's 6:00 p.m. city council agenda includes approval of the long awaited Mt. Ogden Community Plan. This document, which will be incorporated into Ogden City's General Plan, marks an important milestone in planning for the future of this important Emerald City east bench neighborhood.

Among other things, this plan, which we assume will be adopted tonight, includes protection of our "crown jewel" Mt. Ogden Parklands, and will present in the future a legal deterrent to the efforts of ambitious developers, who would like nothing more than to pave over our open space in asphalt, and cover it with cookie-cutter McMansions.

Approval of this plan, which will be the culmination of thousands of hours of citizen involvement, is a cause for celebration in our community, We therefore hope all community-minded citizens will be in attendance, to pat each other on the back, and congratulate themselves for a job well done.

Unlike many meetings in the past, we won't be recommending the usual stage props of pitchforks and torches, but rather suggest bottles of sparking cider and party hats.

Unfortunately for at least one council member and the mayor, there won't be much time for post-meeting celebration, due to a potentially conflicting event. For reasons which are not entirely clear to us, several non-profit volunteer groups in Ogden have scheduled a 7:30 p.m. mayoral election oriented "meet the candidate’s night," at the Bertha Eccles Art Center, a mere 1-1/2 hours following council chairman Garcia's opening gavel.

Somewhere along the line this event has strangely morphed into a purported "debate," -- at least that was the terminology used in yesterday's Standard-Examiner announcement. And in that connection we link here the written rules and format of tonight's post council meeting event, which should make it clear that this will be conducted in the format of a "question and answer session," and not formal candidate debate.

Last night in the lower article comments section, one not-so-gentle reader (a Godfreyite, no doubt) breathlessly announced that mayoral candidate Van Hooser had "backed out of" tonight's "debate." This launched a short flurry of accusatory comments directed at Van Hooser.

Accordingly, we contacted the Van Hooser organization last night, and received assurances that candidate Van Hooser will indeed appear at the "meet the candidates" event as planned -- directly after the scheduled council meeting adjourns. According to Van Hooser campaign sources, this was the original agreement made with the event promoters.

What's important for our readers to understand regarding this latter event, gentle readers, is that Ms. Van Hooser, unlike her opponent the mayor, considers attendance at council meetings to be her primary obligation. Whereas Ms. Van Hooser's council attendance has been near perfect during the past two months, Boss Godfrey has reportedly attended a grand total of one council meeting during the same period, according to sources outside the Van Hooser organization. Our mayor, it would seem, has his priorities reversed, and shows no hesitation in "blowing off" his legally-mandatory attendance at council meetings, while he's pursuing what he seems to consider his primary obligation -- campaigning.

In saying this, we do hope that Mayor Godfrey will find the time this evening to attend the council meeting, even though he probably doesn't consider the adoption of the Mt. Ogden Community Plan to be "his" victory. Perhaps, though, he and Ms. Van Hooser can car-pool over to the Bertha Eccles Arts Center after the council meeting adjourns, yes?

And as an off-topic aside, we link to this brief Curmudgeon submission, which provides a light-hearted yet pithy discussion of today's excellent Std-Ex Op-ed piece.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Big Brother Godfrey is Watching YOU!

And various election 2007 tidbits - UPDATED

We were shocked this morning to learn from the Standard-Examiner that there are already 150 surveillance cameras scattered all over Emerald City, monitoring the lumpencitizens' every move 24/7, from downtown's Two-five Drive to our east-bench trailheads. And according to this morning's front page story, Boss Godfrey's administration plans to add 22 more surveillance devices very soon. And for those readers who may leap to the conclusion that the situation is more than slightly Orwellian, we submit that it's merely Godfreyesque. If this technology had been available to Boss Godfrey in 2006, he could have saved himself lots of trouble and bad publicity, we think. How incongruous it seems, gentle readers, that the mayor who operates under a constant cloak of secrecy finds it entirely appropriate to monitor the activity of the lumpencitizens night and day. Watch your step, citizens of Emerald City. Big Brother Godfrey is watching YOU.

And speaking of secrecy, we'll highlight this morning's Robert W. Belka letter to the editor, which expands on the subject of Godfrey's secrecy and deceit. Among other things, Mr. Belka includes a link to the Ogden Sierra Club website, where readers can find a fine collection of well-documented articles chronicaling Boss Godfrey's history in this regard.

Notably, Mr. Belka also chides the Standard-Examiner and several Godfreyite letter contributors for their false accusations about mayor candidate Van Hooser's willingness to debate. As we are well aware, Van Hooser has already debated Godfrey once already, and has calendered two more such events within the upcoming two weeks.

While we're digging through the letters column, we can't fail to mention this Jason Wood masterpiece. In a marvellous display of journalistic craftsmanship, WCF's own Jason W. efficiently hammers four separate election issues in this morning's letter: 1) the "gondola," 2) the $50 million downtown "renaissance" bowling alley/pizza joint, 3) Godfrey's mendacious "crime fighting" statistics and 4) Vangate. Nice work, Jason.

Having mentioned a couple of today's anti-Godfrey letters above, we'll also highlight a couple of pro-Godfrey ones -- in fairness -- and this morning we have two real "gems."

First, we find this letter from gondolist Mike Gale, who chants the Godfrey the Economic Savior mantra. Gale's company fled Ogden City like a rat off a sinking ship at some unspecified time in the past, according to Mr. Gale. Now that Emerald City is basking in the economic revival that's being experienced all up and down the Wasatch Front, Mr. Gale is bringing his company back to Ogden, to "cash in."

Secondly, we'll put the focus on this letter from Blake Fowers, the penultimate Emerald City gondolist. Mr. Fowers is apparently a little bit peeved that he had to cough up a measly ten bucks when he "crashed" a Van Hooser fund raiser. Mr. Fowers of course, like Mr. Gale above, is a credentialled member of the gondolist "A" Team. Most recently he became semi-famous in "Captain" Geiger's 9/1/07 "lawn-sign caper." He's the fellow, according to our ever-reliable sources, who uttered the now-infamous words, "dude, there's no way she's going to believe that!" This is not to suggest in any way that Mr. Fowers might be biased, of course.

Before closing, we'll also highlight this most excellent Curmudgeon comment, gleaned from one of the lower comment sections. Gentle Reader Curmudgeon has been regularly monitoring the Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce website, which finally (and belatedly) "got the memo" that "gondola" is a forbidden word for any person or entity on the re-elect Boss Godfrey team.

That's it folks. The floor is all yours. Last one out -- please turn out the lights.

Update 10/22/07 12:12 p.m. MT: One of our alert readers has been prowling the Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce website this morning, and has discovered that all the original information about the so-called Ogden/Malan's Basin Development Project (the "Peterson Project") remains on the site intact and undeleted. The Chamber webmaster has merely removed (temporarily?) the link to these pages from the Chamber's home page, in which connection we suggest, quite reasonably we think, that Chamber leadership knows this project is far from dead. The undeleted material can be viewed here. Imagine that....

Sunday, October 21, 2007

An Array of Election Related Material

Bits and Pieces from this morning's Standard-Examiner

The Standard-Examiner editorial page is festooned with a precious array of election related material this morning, so we'll highlight the five items we believe to be particularly worthy of discussion:

First, we were greeted by this morning's lead editorial, bearing a headline that we rightly took to be quite ominous: "Recommendations are coming." The article goes on tediously for three-quarters of a page, laying out various criteria, justications, rationales and caveats, explaining (in what we thought to be a mealy-mouthed manner) why the Std-Ex will be endorsing municipal election candidates this year. Frankly we don't understand the reason for all the editorial "hemming and hawing." If Lee Carter and his Std-Ex newspaper are going to breach 35 years' tradition, and suddenly "recommend" candidates, we believe they should just come out and do it.

One particular element of this article did however particularly catch our eye: The series of candidate interviews upon which the Std-Ex's recommendations will be partly founded have been captured on video tape, and will be posted on the newspaper's website. We congratulate the Std-Ex for this creative approach, and look forward to our home town newspaper's next foray into the multimedia world of cyber space.

Next in order is a pro-Van Hooser letter from former Ogden City Councilwoman Adele Smith, who now resides in Idyllwilde, California. Even from a distance Ms. Smith seems to have managed to keep on top of the Emerald City political situation, although we did wonder about her reference to candidate Van Hooser's planning commission experience.

We were more than slightly amused by Warren Bowman's letter, in which he confidently asserts that candidate Van Hooser's crime figures are incorrect. Enterprising soul that Mr. Bowman seems to be, he even includes a link to the state's website. If any of our readers know Mr. Bowman, we would appreciate their transmitting to him this revealing link.

Blake Garner grouses this morning, claiming that candidate Van Hooser became a mite touchy, when he called and apparently gave Ms. Van Hooser the "third degree." Mr. Garner's reported experience certainly differs from ours. The last time we called Ms. Van Hooser on the phone, she answered the phone herself, and was very generous with her time, responding to our questions more than adequately.

And finally there is this Godfrey rah-rah letter from poor old Steve Prisbrey. Our readers will recall that Mr. Prisbrey made an unsuccessful run at a city council seat during the 2005 municipal election, under the pro-Godfrey banner. Hoping for a 2006 appointment to the Emerald City planning commission, Mr. Prisbrey was more than a little disappointed when Boss Godfrey appointed Godfreyite Dustin Chapman instead. Of course we all remember how that worked out, don't we? In the intervening period we've had the opportunity to communicate numerous times with Mr. Prisbrey, whose affection for Boss Godfrey definitely runs hot and cold. Judging from today's letter, Prisbrey appears to be back on the Godfrey bandwagon again however -- for the time being at least. Perhaps there's another "appointment" in the offing.

That's it for today, gentle readers; short and sweet.

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Weber County Forum Sunday Sermon

Thoughts on the Mount Ogden Community Plan Process

By: Choose the Right

Over the past several months, I’ve been perplexed as to why people keep coming up to me to thank me for my efforts with regard to the Mt. Ogden Community Plan. One fella even dropped me off a loaf of bread. “Gee,” they say, “We just want to thank you for all you’ve done.” These people, it has seemed to me, have done far, far more than me, and I have assumed they are simply very thankful people. Indeed, I feel that I have done very little.

But I think I’ve started to realize what is going on, and while it may seem paradoxical to say it, I think it all boils down to the fact that in a sense, the Holocaust was at least partly the Jews’ own fault. As these humble, decent, hardworking, loyal, harmless people were being rounded up, dispossessed and being sent to the ghettos, then to the camps, and then the ovens, when you get right down to it, it was at least partly their own fault. Of course, a theory this unconventional requires an explanation.

We’ve all seen the pictures: Boxcars being loaded with thousands of people, with Nazi soldiers toting rifles standing by. But have you ever noticed how many soldiers there usually are? Have you ever thought about the logistics of keeping millions of people bottled up in ghettos?

Think about this: Have you seen the photos when the UAW goes on strike – men and women walking the pickets? Now imagine trying to round up a few million of those people, taking away their homes and sending them to ghettos or loading them into boxcars. Or just imagine trying to do that with any six million Irish Americans. See the point?

You can say, well, the Nazis had guns. But it seems to me the Jews had six million pairs of feet, hands, shoes, and as many rocks and long, hard objects as that many hands could carry. Sure, bullets are cheap. But can you imagine trying to control that many people who were willing to do whatever was necessary to have their liberty, including fight to the death, and even being proud to fight to the death for their freedom?

Some wonder why the Apaches in Arizona and the Seminoles in Florida have such wonderful reservation land to live on, when most other tribes have to live in wastelands. It’s because neither of those tribes surrendered. They were never conquered. They were given the good land because that’s the only way the US Government could deal with them. They were willing to die to the last man and woman. More importantly, they were willing to fight to the last man or woman. And those men and women were probably all better people than I am. Believe it or not, it’s almost impossible to conquer people like that.

So here in Ogden, we had, or still have depending on who you talk to, a situation where some guy decided he’d like to stuff his pockets with some of that good, good stuff. All he needed was the deed to some prime public property on the East Bench. So he lined up some local “leaders”, and started the process of beguiling the public.

But some folks stood up and said, “Well, I don’t really agree with that.” They were called all kinds of names, but they stood firm. This is where they lived, after all. It is their home. They were all “little people”, but as of this writing, it seems things are starting to go their way. It’s been gratifying to see what can happen when a few people simply say they have a different point of view about things and are willing to say so and not shut up.

I go to church at about 3210 Polk Ave. It’s a nice, tall, brick building. It was designed locally and built by members, fifty years ago. Nowadays, the church central office has a cookie cutter design that they use everywhere when they put up a church. They’re cheaper and quicker to build, uniform, standardized, and while nice looking, they are entirely repetitive and some would say, dull. Going to church in one, you wonder whether the Lord’s kingdom is looking less like an individual process and more like an assembly line, boiled down to only the essentials required by modern corporate efficiency.

Well wouldn’t you know it? Our old brick church house, after fifty years of standing there without so much as a crack in a single one of her bricks, well somebody’s decided that she may be “sinking” and it may be time for the wrecking ball. It’s no great surprise that this has come up – one can never predict the bureaucratic mind, but here’s the amazing part. To my knowledge not a single person – other than myself – has expressed dismay, much less disagreement, with the whole idea of tearing her down. We just had a party to celebrate her fiftieth birthday. And yet, these same revelers, after the celebration, would tear the old girl down by hand, brick by brick, if asked to. But not one of them will question the reason, much less disagree. You see, to a man and woman, the feeling is that it’s for other people to decide, and then, if they choose to do so, they can inform us of their decision, and then tell us all where to shuffle off to. It’s not our place even to ASK.

And of course, it’s not the place for six million Jews to ask where the boxcars are headed either, is it? The “powers that be,” will decide. We will go, and follow, for that is what good people do. We will not question. We do not want to place ourselves in any kind of jeopardy, so we will do as we are told. Indeed, there are those who will question my loyalty to the church, if not to the Lord himself, even for my having written these few, mild words, just as some will question my affection for Ogden, when I ask about the city debt, or about bulldozing our crown jewels into stucco McMansions – never minding the fact that under our Constitution, the “powers that be” are supposed to be us, and asking, and expressing, are just exactly what we are supposed to do.

Perhaps there is a use in the world for people like me, for some of my neighbors, and for this online forum, after all. In fact, perhaps such as these are even precious. It’s nice to feel that at last, I may be good for something. But now let me be the one to say thank you, to all the people in the Mount Ogden Community (and the rest of the city) who have asked questions and have expressed their view, and who I entreat to continue to do so.

I remember one city council meeting where a humble, quiet, respectful man stood up and said, firmly,

“Stop this. This is enough. Enough is enough.”

I know this man. I couldn’t believe he’d do that.

But it seems we are destined to live always in a world where there will be other people who want to take our land, our homes, our precious things, our bodies, our money, our minds, and even, if they could, our souls, and use them for their own purposes. Therefore, there must also be people like us, to say, “Enough”, and to say, “No.”

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Speechafyin', Celebratin' ... and Apologizin'

Nary a word about "gondolas"... Imagine that

By Curmudgeon

Well, Managing Editor Andy Howell of the Standard-Examiner, in his "Behind the Headlines" column this morning, offers up an explanation of how the inaccurate story about the City Council's resolution on the coming transportation tax got printed in his paper. And an apology. It's a complicated process, a chain of events that went wrong in sequence, resulting in the Std-Ex getting the story flat wrong.

Here's the apology, from his column:

In hindsight, the story should have been held. The reported objections by the mayor were inconsistent with what we thought was the council’s action. His concerns indicated there was a misunderstanding, or there was a bigger issue we weren’t aware of. Either way, it left a hole in the story that outweighed the urgency of reporting the council’s vote on the matter. It is our job to provide clarity for readers on government action, not add to the confusion. With this story we failed.
But then, having explained and properly apologized for the paper's muff, he just couldn't leave well enough alone. He had to go on and editorialize, berating the Council for having done what his paper mis-reported. The closing paragraph of the column:
That being said, what good is adopting a resolution of neutrality on a ballot issue? I don’t mean to single out the Ogden council, because the Layton City Council did the same thing. But the purpose of such a resolution is to let voters know where the council stands. If council members didn’t want to take a position, they just should not have voted on the resolution. As it stands, the council made a decision to be undecided.
So close, Mr. Howell. You came so close, but faded down the stretch. The little gratuitous editorial stuck on the end of the Std-Ex's mea culpa suggests that all the Council did in its resolution was refuse to take a definite stand on the coming vote. Wrong. It also in its resolution stated its view that if the tax passed, no less than 40% of the money should be spent on transit funding, a not-meaningless statement since WACOG at a recent meeting in a non-binding vote indicated it wants to spend 80% of the money on roads, and only 20% on transit. Here is the full resolution the Council passed [minus the "wherases"]. I wonder if Mr. Howell read the whole thing before opining in his column that it was all just a meaningless exercise:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE OGDEN CITY COUNCIL, that if the Opinion Question #1 ballot measure is approved by County residents the Council hereby formally encourages the Weber Area Council of Governments (WACOG) to distribute the funds from the tax increase so that at least 40% of the funds are used for transit projects. Further, the Council encourages the voters of Ogden City and Weber County to voice their opinions regarding the question on November 6th.
Note, please, that the main intent of the resolution was to urge 40% of the spending at least be on transit, not the "urge to vote" that so annoyed Mr. Howell.

One other thing worth noting about Mr. Howell's essay this morning. Again, from Mr. Howell's column:

During the vote, it was noted that the mayor, who was aware of the change [in the resolution], was not happy with the [new] resolution. This was puzzling, since Scott [Schwebke] knew the mayor supported the original version of the resolution, the one Scott thought had been approved. After the meeting, Scott asked both Chief Administrative Officer John Patterson and council Executive Director Bill Cook why the mayor was not happy with the resolution. Both told him to ask the mayor, who was not at the meeting and couldn’t be reached.... Scott wasn’t able to reach Godfrey after the meeting. Faced with a deadline, he wrote the story with what he had for the next day’s paper.
English translation: the Std-Ex's reporter asked the Mayor's Chief Executive Officer for information that, had he supplied it, would have resulted in the story being reported accurately. Being Godfrey's chief aide, naturally, he stonewalled, and told Mr. Schwebke to ask the Mayor, who was unavailable. Imagine that. [Yes, he also asked Mr. Cook, who works for the Council. But Mr. Cook quite properly told Schewbke to ask the Mayor, since it is not Mr. Cook's responsibility to speak for the administration or explain its views. That is, however, one of Mr. Patterson's responsibilities. Presumably he was at the meeting, in lieu of the Mayor, to do just that.]

Imagine that. Godfrey's chief administrative officer refusing to supply the Std-Ex with information it needed to report the Council's proceedings accurately. Who'da ever thunk it?

Also in this morning's paper, an article on Amer Sports's big opening bash at the renovated American Can building downtown. Many notable personages there for the festivities, including Gov. Huntsman. As the Std-Ex reports, the stage was "crowded" with "representatives from the Ogden Chamber of Commerce" singing the praises of Mayor Godfrey: "Mayor Godfrey saw a vision and ran with it," said Marsha Combe, a member of the Ogden Chamber of Commerce. "It's neat to see a business like this in this part of Ogden," she said.
OK. Fair enough. Credit for bringing Amer to Ogden instead of Salt Lake goes to the Mayor, and rightly so. But I did notice, in the entire article, the omission of a particular word. Or I should say, the strange omission of a particular word. The word is "gondola." Nary a single mention. Passing strange, I thought, since but a few short months ago, the Mayor and Mr. Curt Geiger, strong Godfrey advocate, were insisting to all and sundry that without the promise of an imminent gondola in Godfrey-town, Amer Sports would not have come here, that in fact Amer Sports came because of the gondola promise. "Just ask them," we were told. "Just ask them."

And now a whole day of speechafyin' and celebratin' and all kinds of big wigs there, and the Mayor congratulating himself and likening the coming of Amer Sports to the "the joining of the railroads" with the golden spike --- yes, he really did say that --- and suddenly the gondola project, once touted as the lynchpin to it all, has vanished.

Imagine that....

Friday, October 19, 2007

Another "Sun Rises in the East" Epiphany

And more preliminary evidence of Boss Godfrey's Multiple Personality Disorder

By Monotreme

Today's Standard-Examiner brings a letter to the editor and an Op-Ed piece from the "Re-Elect Mayor Matthew Godfrey" camp.

The Op-Ed piece contains what Curmudgeon would call a "sun rises in the east" epiphany: "Construction companies support Mayor Godfrey."

So now, his major financial contributors (although we're still not sure whether R&O wrote a $2,500 check or a $10,000 one) throw their 800 words behind the mayor as well. As we used to say back in high school, "big whoop".

We get the usual citations of increased jobs, lots of building going on, and you know The Junction is really cool. C'mon, admit it, you want to go there. Just because you haven't been going there, and the place is going down the tubes, doesn't mean it won't be successful. Someday. Really. You know you want to visit it.

The second item is this letter to the editor from school board President Don Belnap and school board member John Gullo.

This one contains two surprises.

The first surprise is that "there have been some statements made regarding communication between Mayor Godfrey and the Ogden City School District."

I try to keep pretty close tabs on the election, but I'm not aware of any such statements, so someone please tell me what this letter is really about.

The second one is a fantastic example of what Mrs. Monotreme, an editor, refers to as a "word-o".

(You know: "typo" is a mistyped word; "edit-o" is a mis-edited word; "spell-o" is a mis-spelled word; and a "word-o" is a mis-chosen word.)

Describing the relationship between the school board and the mayoral administration, the school board members write:

"...we have experienced open communication between the two identities [sic]."

This is a stunning revelation! Two members of The Ogden City School Board admit that Mayor Matthew Godfrey suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder (Dissociative Identity Disorder)!

From the above-referenced article:

Usually, a primary identity carries the individual's given name and is passive, dependent, guilty and depressed. When in control, each personality state, or alter, may be experienced as if it has a distinct history, self-image and identity.
The alters' characteristics -- including name, reported age and gender, vocabulary, general knowledge, and predominant mood -- contrast with those of the primary identity.
Certain circumstances or stressors can cause a particular alter to emerge. The various identities may deny knowledge of one another, be critical of one another or appear to be in open conflict.
If this stunning allegation is proven, it explains a lot, like how Godfrey could forget that Chris Peterson's brother is the head of Bootjack LLC, or how he could forget that someone who calls Himself the mayor stonewalls the council and refuses to give them even the simplest pieces of data. Those were the product of the Evil Matthew Godfrey, who is not always in touch with the Good Matthew Godfrey.

This is something that has been long rumored but never confirmed. Fortunately for Ogden City, there is open communication between the two "identities."

The letter writers can't possibly have meant two "entities," because they're school board members, and presumably not prone to college freshman-type whoppers in word choice when attempting to write beyond their vocabulary skill level.

We look forward to a detailed psychiatric analysis of Mayor Godfrey in future installments of the letter column.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Emerald City Council Talks Transit Tonight

All conceivable modes of public transit remain "on the table"

For those Emerald City readers interested in transit alternatives, don't miss tonight's 5:00 p.m. Council work session. Details of this event are disclosed via this morning's Scott Schwebke story, from which we incorporate the lead and closing paragraphs:

"OGDEN — Mayor Matthew Godfrey will present a proposal to the city council tonight detailing eight possible transit corridor destinations that could be linked with the downtown intermodal hub.
The presentation may lead to further efforts by the council and administration to prioritize possible corridor destinations to connect with the FrontRunner commuter rail system that will begin operating next year at the intermodal hub.
“The idea is that we want to formulate a plan that the city administration and council are excited about,” said Godfrey.
City Councilwoman Dorrene Jeske said she is hopeful an agreement can be reached to study all modes of mass transit.
Funding for a detailed analysis may come from a $231,250 Federal Transit Administration appropriation awarded to the Utah Transit Authority last year, Godfrey said. ...
"Potential modes of transit along the corridors could include buses, streetcars or an urban gondola." [Emphasis & link added]
That's right, folks. Boss Godfrey's crackpot urban gondola scheme remains alive, and will continue to clog council agendas right up until the city hall screen door whacks the anal-retentive little guy in the backside, as he exits the public arena in January.

And the question occurred to us: so long as the council is still wasting time and money on discussions and studies relating to an urban gondola, (right along with serious public transit alternatives), why shouldn't the council put still another knuckle headed transit idea on the table?

For our readers' enlightenment -- we reprise Ozboy's SASYMASTS public transit system.

OK... Chalk it up to a slow news day.

If anyone amongst our readership decides to attend tonight's work session, we'd love to have you share your notes with us.

Take it away, gentle readers. Feel free, if you like, to treat this as an open-topic thread.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Emerald City Council Did What?

More fuzzy reporting from the Standard-Examiner - BLOCKBUSTER UPDATE!

By Curmudgeon

There is a remarkably un-informative story in the Standard-Examiner this morning about last night's City Council meeting, at which the Council reportedly voted [only Mr. Stephens dissenting] to urge the public to vote in favor of the quarter-cent transportation tax on this November's ballot.

The story reported that The resolution in favor of a quarter-cent sales and use tax increase was originally slated to be approved jointly by the city council and Ogden's administration. However, Mayor Matthew Godfrey had concerns about the resolution's language preventing the administration from joining the council in adopting the document, said Bill Cook, the council's executive director.

Naturally, I wondered what the Mayor's objections were. I'm still wondering. From the story:

"Godfrey did not attend Tuesday night's meeting and could not be reached for comment regarding his position on the resolution or the city council's vote." OK, so the Mayor was AWOL, and, if the story is to be believed, sent no one to explain to the Council, on the record, his objections to the language of the Council resolution. [Nothing in the story indicates what the language was the Mayor objected to.]

But surely, the Mayor --- recall the Mayor at the recent debate claiming he could not imagine a single instance in which he had failed to supply the Council with information it requested --- had discussed the matter with Council members before the vote, indicating his problems with the proposed resolution. And if he did do that, surely Mr.Schwebke could have gotten from a Council member, or several, some hint as to the Mayor's objections. Of course, if the Mayor had not told the Council why he objected to the Council's resolution, then that, certainly, would be news.

Mr. Dave Hardman, representing the Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce was apparently there, touting the new tax he wants the Council and voters to approve. Mr. Hardman told the Council, according to the story, that the $8.5 million the tax is expected to raise annually "would be distributed by the Weber Area Council of Governments based on a project priority ranking system spelled out in state statute." How artfully vague. In fact, the project priority list as it now stands is not binding; WACOG and UTA and UDOT could fund the projects on the priority list as it now stands, or they could substantially alter the funding priorities. None, repeat none of the projects on the list [with the exception of corridor land purchases for the extension of the Legacy Highway] is locked in. What the WACOG and UTA and UDOT are saying is "give us the money, with no guarantees about how we will spend it, and trust us to use it wisely". And in fact, there is only one, count 'em one, Weber County transit project on the recommended list now... a Bus Rapid Transit route from downtown Ogden to WSU and McKay-Dee Hospital. [And the Mayor is opposing that in order to preserve that route for his gondola obsession.]

[The story does not report whether Council members inquired of Mr. Hardman whether his organization had put any more study or research into the outcome of the transportation tax than it evidently did into its long and loud support for selling the Mt. Ogden Parklands for a gated-community real estate development to help build a flatland gondola in Ogden --- a project Mayor Godfrey now tells us was never feasible from the beginning. Though Hizzonah has not abandoned his gondola obsession.]

Further along, Mr. Schwebke reports that "the city council's resolution recommends that 40 percent of the funds be used for transit projects." Note, that 60/40 split [roads/transit] is merely a recommendation WACOG and UTA and UDOT are not bound to honor.

But as to what the Administration's objections were to the Council resolution, Std-Ex readers are still in the dark. I suspect that suits the Mayor just fine. In the dark is just where he prefers the press, the Council and the public to be on some matters.

Editor's Addendum: Mr. Hardman expresses confidence in "a project priority ranking system spelled out in state statute." This morning's Salt Lake Tribune has a fascinating article reporting on how this prioritization process has already been bungled (they're blaming it on a calculation error) in Salt Lake County, with potential repercussions for all members of the Wasatch Front Regional Council , of which the Weber County Council of Governments is a member. For a real earful, tune in to the audio minutes of the State Legislature's Audit Sub-committee meeting of yesterday afternoon, where accusations amongst committee members re this blunder fly freely. (Requires RealPlayer - relevant discussion starts @ 24:13).

Update 10/17/07 11:14 a.m. MT: We have within the last half-hour been in contact with Emerald City Councilwoman Amy Wicks, who informs us that Mr. Schwebke's above linked Standard-Examiner article was not only "fuzzy," as we had suggested in our above sub-headline, but wildly inaccurate. In short, Ms. Wicks advises, "[t]he resolution passed by the Council last night does not specifically ask the public to vote in favor (or not in favor) of the quarter-cent transportation tax on this November's ballot."

We include here for our readers' inspection the operative text of last night's resolution:

"NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE OGDEN CITY COUNCIL, that if the Opinion Question #1 ballot measure is approved by County residents the Council hereby formally encourages the Weber Area Council of Governments (WACOG) to distribute the funds from the tax increase so that at least 40% of the funds are used for transit projects. Further, the Council encourages the voters of Ogden City and Weber County to voice their opinions regarding the question on November 6th."

Not only that, Ms. Wicks also informs us that Dave Hardman DID NOT address or attend last night's session, as Ace Reporter Schwebke said. It would thus appear that Mr. Hardman's quotes were pulled out of Ace Reporter Schwebke's... hat.

Ms. Wicks has also submitted some brief explanatory notes, which clarify some of the background which Mr. Schwebke did not report, and also incorporate the full text (including prefacatory language) of last night's council resolution.

We thank Ms. Wicks for this important supplementary material.

It looks to us like Mr. Schwebke and the Std-Ex editors have some 'splain' to do.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More Whining From the Boss Godfrey Campaign

The Victimizer (Godfrey) continues to pose as the victim

This morning's Standard-Examiner has a truly odd Scott Schwebke story, showcasing a couple of trivial complaints, evidently eminating from the Boss Godfrey 2007 re-election campaign machine. We incorporate the lead paragraphs below:
OGDEN — City Councilwoman Susan Van Hooser has been asked to stop using the city’s internal e-mail system to solicit support from municipal employees for her mayoral campaign.

City Attorney Gary Williams wrote in an e-mail to Van Hooser, obtained by the Standard-Examiner, that the city’s e-mail server has received numerous e-mails from her campaign addressed to municipal employees.

“I encourage you to update your campaign e-mail address list to avoid use of the city e-mail system for political purposes,” Williams wrote to Van Hooser.
And here is mayoral candidate Van Hooser's quoted response:
Van Hooser said her campaign did not intentionally send e-mails to city workers while they were on the job. “They are between a rock and a hard place (in supporting candidates for mayor),” she said.

The e-mails were sent out en masse to Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce members, some of whom also happen to be city employees, Van Hooser said.

Van Hooser said she has since deleted the workers’ e-mail addresses to prevent them from receiving future materials from her campaign.
Bulk emailing can be tricky at best; and according to the Ace Reporter Schwebke narrative, some 55 city employees apparently did receive Van Hooser campaign-related emailings on two occasions, in the course of the organizing of a fund-raiser, and in the announcement of last week's mayoral debate. Yet the Van Hooser campaign's error in this regard (if any) would seem to be entirely innocent and inadvertant, inasmuch as her campaign staff actually sent these emails to Dave Hardman's Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce email list, and not to city employees as a distinctly "targeted" group.

The about to be out of a plush job Mr. Williams announced that he's ordered preventative action, to "avoid" violation of the ordinance which prohibits the direction politically-oriented emails to city employees:
City code prohibits elected officials from engaging in political activity aimed at municipal employees in the workplace, Williams wrote to Van Hooser. The city council’s staff has adopted a policy to reject and refuse to disseminate all political campaign e-mails it receives to avoid violation of the ordinance, Williams said in the e-mail.
And the question we ask is this: Does this preventative measure apply to all politically-oriented emails, including those transmitted by the Chamber of Commerce itself, and the Bobby Geiger operated Lift Ogden Gondola Cult organization? Both of these organizations are heavily into political email lobbying, as many of us are well aware. And for all intents and purposes, each of these political activist organizations is an agent for Boss Godfrey.

And what about the city employees themselves, who have apparently voluntarily placed their workplace emails on the Chamber of Commerce (and perhaps other) non work-related lists? Shouldn't Mr. Williams also issue these employees an admonishment, demanding that they remove their email addys from non work related lists? It would seem to us that each of these employees has the affirmative obligation to remove their city email addy's from any and all political lists.

And moving onto the lower section of the Schwebke article, we find this:
In a related matter, Williams told Van Hooser he has received a complaint that she has used Art Stop Ogden’s facilities and staff to disseminate campaign literature.

“The allegation is that this is wrongful because Art Stop is a city-funded facility, staffed by the city’s contractor,” Williams wrote in the e-mail to Van Hooser.

Van Hooser said campaign flyers were distributed to some art galleries on 25th Street and somehow ended up at Art Stop.
We'll be danged if we know what this complaint is all about. Perhaps some of our city hall insider readers can help us out with the "real" argument.

Take it away, gentle readers.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

More Civility and Rationality, Please

A cordial welcome to an anticipated flood of new WCF readers

The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.

James A. Garfield
James A. Garfield Quotes

Although we'd originally planned to feature a nice reader-submitted Sunday sermon this morning, we'll put that project on the back burner until next Sunday, and instead shine the spotlight on three interesting items appearing in this morning's Standard-Examiner.

The first is this pro-Godfrey rah-rah letter, from dyed-in-the wool Godfreyite Jim Stavrakakis. Mr. Stavrakakis advances an odd and unique theory, likening the diverse folks of Emerald City who are fed up with Boss Godfrey's demonstrated incompetence, financial recklessness, and disdain for the citizens he was elected to represent -- to a single Ogden City street gang, united in purpose and tactics -- and motivated by a "mean-spirited" "gang mentality."

That's right, lumpencitizens who have the temerity to oppose Boss Godfrey in our 2007 municipal election: Jim Stavrakakis says you're no better than street thugs.

Secondly, we're delighted to highlight this Std-Ex letter to the editor, in which Robert Becker gently chastises the Standard-Examiner and Councilman Safsten, for their two nasty and hate-filled opinion articles published earlier in the week. Notably Mr. Becker's piece is both civil and rational, of course, unlike the "twin" Std-Ex pieces. Not bad (for a street thug), Mr. Becker.

Speaking of civility and rationality, we'll highlight this morning's "Viewpoints" article, in which Std-Ex editor Andy Howell bemoans the purported absence of either of these virtues in the ongoing 2007 election campaign.

Up until this morning the Standard-Examiner has never mentioned Weber County Forum by name; and we thank them for the nice plug.

Accordingly, we also welcome the anticipated flood of readers who will visit Weber County Forum, thanks to the Std-Ex's gracious referral. And in that connection we invite all newcomers to prowl this site, and determine for yourselves whether we're civil and rational enough for your tastes.

Be sure to peruse the articles in the right sidebar, as well as those on the main page. We have confidence that a fair proportion of our new readers will be amazed at the wealth of information that's available on this site. And don't forget to read our reader comments, which are by far the best part of this blog. We hope many of you will bookmark Weber County Forum, and come back often.

Update 10/15/07 8:47 a.m. MT: We would like to again extend our thanks to the Standard-Examiner, for yesterday's free publicity. We logged 192 first time visitors yesterday, the highest number of new readers since the September 11 primary election.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Mayoral Debate at Noon Today -- UPDATED 10/15/07

Dueling Emerald City mayoral candidates face off on the WSU campus at "high noon"

For those who may not already have this event on their calenders, we issue this helpful reminder, via the WSU Signpost, regarding today's Godfrey v. Van Hooser mayoral debate:

On Oct. 12 [today], Mayor Matthew Godfrey and candidate Susan Van Hooser will participate in a debate co-sponsored by Pi Sigma Alpha, the policial science honors society, and the Student Economics Association.

The debate will be student-moderated and questions have been selected by students from both organizations.

The event is free and open to the public. It will be held at noon, Oct. 12, in the Wattis Business Building Smith Lecture Hall.
Additional information is available here.

We also extend a cordial invitation to any gentle readers who attend this event to check back in here at Weber County Forum with their notes and comments. We hope this event will spark a robust election issues-oriented dialogue right here on this forum, and enable us lay aside certain unfortunate distractions which have have recently (and temporarily we hope), taken our main municipal election 2007 discussion off-track.

Update 10/12/07 5:33 p.m. MT: Gentle Reader TK has provided us a nice transcript-style summary of the candidates' questions and responses. We've reformatted and promoted this text from the lower comments section to the front page here.

Update 10/13/07 6:58 a.m. MT: Ace reporter Schwebke contributes his 2¢ to our ongoing mayoral debate discussion, with this morning's Standard-Examiner report. The Salt Lake Tribune's Kristen Moulton this morning also provides this excellent writeup.

Update 10/15/07 8:02 a.m. MT: WSU has posted podcast links to their website, containing an mp3 audio recording of the entire debate, together with an interesting debate analysis, conducted by a couple of WSU profs.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Material Found on Our Front Porch This Morning

Bits and pieces from the Northern Utah news media

We find four items of interest in the northern Utah news media this morning, so we'll reel them off from the top of the stack. The first two are articles from the Standard-Examiner, each of which involves court proceedings for the accused perpetrators of recent shooting incidents in Ogden, as these individuals are brought before the bar of justice.

The first story reports on Wednesday's preliminary hearing for 15-year old Diego Mora, who appears to be on track for prosecution as an adult offender. Testimony offered in court, it would appear, eliminates any doubt about whether the crimes with which Mora has been charged were "gang related":

"OGDEN — Diego Mora told police that, on a scale of one to 10, he was a three when it came to his standing in an Ogden street gang.

The 15-year-old accused of killing 22-year-old Jesus Aparicio Sept. 21 at the Phillips Kicks 66 convenience store was in court Wednesday afternoon for a preliminary hearing before Judge J. Mark Andrus in 2nd District Juvenile Court.

Detective Tim Scott testified that he took several signed statements from Mora in the hours and days after the shooting, in which Mora stated he shot Aparicio and committed a separate robbery because he was tired of being teased and of being seen as weak among his gang associates. ...

Scott testified that Mora told him he did not want to kill Aparicio, but his friends egged him on after Aparicio insulted Mora’s gang, telling him to “just blast that fool.” ...

"I didn’t really care,” Scott read from Mora’s statement. “It was (my friend) that was tripping.”
The second article reports on the Wednesday preliminary hearing for Jeremy Isaac Gallegos, the accused shooter in a July 11 shooting Ogden police call "gang-related." At this point in the proceedings the court has denied the defendant bail, and has issued an additional order prohibiting contact between the accused and the state's three eye-witnesses. Although the story doesn't report the court's reasoning for this, we're going to speculate that these measures are intended by the court to prevent any retributive acts by the defendant, which might be directed toward the prosecution's key witnesses. This, gentle readers, is what courts have to do in cities which are plagued with violent gang activity.

Emerald City citizens need to face the obvious reality of this situation. Gang culture is thriving in Ogden, and is quite well entrenched, in which connection we again wonder whether it might have been more prudent, over the past 7-1/2 years, for our "can do" mayor to have invested more police resources into anti-gang law enforcement and pre-emption, and less police manpower into writing traffic tickets.

The next item, a very good Standard-Examiner editorial, comments favorably about the current state of Governor Huntsman's Geologic Hazards Working Group project:

People have complained for the past decade about residential developments on hillsides that give way — slide, sink, etc. — after the homes are built but there hasn’t been much of an organized effort to find a solution. Most cities and counties have simply proceeded to do things pretty much as they have always done them, using methods that have proven inadequate.

Finally, and thankfully, that’s changing. Gov. bled the Geologic Hazards Working Group to study the issue and make recommendations to help local plan ning commissions judge whether or not a given piece of sloping real estate was suitable for building. The group — so far made up of representatives from various state, county and local governments, but set to include developers as its work goes forward — has just issued a list of recommendations that Huntsman has accepted. As noted recently by Standard-Examiner reporter Bryon Saxton, the group says local governments need more education on liability, updated maps and expertise regarding potential geological hazards. They also need to strictly enforce codes pertaining to land grades.

This is just a start, though. Huntsman has decided to keep the Geologic Hazards Working Group together to discuss further reform concerning issues like disclosure. To wit: When a property owner sells a parcel of land that has been judged to be at-risk, what’s the responsibility to inform the buyer? Currently, it’s a buyer-beware world out there. That’s even true when it comes to selling a house on land that may be at-risk.

It's a good editorial, as we said; and the accompanying Grondahl cartoon ain't half bad either.

Finally, we'll highlight this morning's Salt Lake Tribune story, just the kind of thing that Salt Lake City readers love to read, concerning their "odd-ball" neighbors up north in Emerald City. Many Salt Lakers believe we're a mite "peculiar." And with stories like the one linked above -- who can blame them?

Take it away, gentle readers.

The floor is all yours this morning.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What's the matter with the Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce?

By Curmudgeon

Mr. Dave Hardman [OWCC President and CEO] is in the Standard-Examiner this morning with another Op-Ed piece [written in tandem with the heads of the Davis C of C and the Brigham City Area C of C.] It's quite a piece of work.

The point of it is to convince voters to approve the transportation sales tax up for a vote this November. Hardman and Company spend much of their time belaboring the obvious: traffic in Weber and Davis Counties is a mess; the population is growing dramatically; traffic will get a lot worse unless we do something; whatever something we do will cost a lot of money. No reasonable person could argue with any of that.

Then Hardman & Co. move in for the kill: "The money generated by the additional quarter-cent sales tax," they tell us, "will fund mass transit projects, road construction and corridor preservation at current prices."

Quite a list. Very impressive. And "mass transit projects" right up there in the first spot among the benefits of passing that tax. Of course, what Mr. Hardman does not tell us is that in the suggested priority list of projects slated for Weber County [Ogden included] there is exactly one... count 'em one... transit project. A Bus Rapid Transit line from downtown to WSU and McKay Dee Hospital. That's it. [And he does not tell us either that Mayor Godfrey is fighting even that, hoping to preserve the route for his Quixotic gondola.] The overwhelming majority of the money [in the suggested Weber County priority projects list] will go to road construction, which, oddly, only makes second place on Mr. Hardman's list. Imagine that.

And what Mr. Hardman and Company also do not tell us is that none, repeat none, of the projects on the suggested priority list are guaranteed to be built with the tax money. That's right, none. UDOT and UTA and WACOG [Wasatch Area Council of Governments] which have to approve projects can spend the tax money, once it's approved, for other projects than the ones on the priority list. What they're saying is "give us the money without strings attached. Trust us to use it wisely. "

In the recent Salt Lake City referendum on a transportation tax, voters knew they were voting for new TRAX lines. Guarantees were given beforehand about what the money would be spent on. It wasn't a general transportation tax, it was a transit tax voters were asked to approve. That is not what is being proposed here. That is not what Mr. Hardman et al. are touting.

And of course, Mr. Hardman does not mention that he and the Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce have been touting, loudly, for two years now, the selling of the city's parklands in the foothills to a real estate developer for a gated community of vacation villas in order to raise money to build Mayor Godfrey his gondola --- a plan the Mayor has now announced he not only no longer supports, but a project he now recognizes was never feasible in the first place because the land is too steep to build all those vacation villas on anyway. [Apparently, Mr. Hardman and the Chamber he leads either did not notice that the land was steep, or the land has suddenly gotten a lot steeper than it was two years ago. Take your pick.]

Which means Mr. Hardman and his Chamber backed the project without, apparently, having done any research to see if it was feasible or not. Mr. Hardman followed the Mayor and the Chamber followed Mr. Hardman straight over the cliff, without fear and without research. Which at least entitles us to ask of Mr. Hardman if he and the Chamber have put any more work into researching the tax proposal and its impact than they evidently put into backing the park sale and gondola fiasco.

I don't know if the tax is a good idea or not. I haven't decided yet. There are reasonable arguments to be made on both sides. But the tax advocates and the members of the Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce do their cause little good by sending Mr. Hardman out to write op-eds that dissemble, and obscure, and leave out key information that voters ought to have. I'd have found a full consideration of the proposal, pros and cons, leading to the Chamber's decision to support it far more convincing than the blending of the obvious with convenient half-truths and omissions Mr. Hardman and his co-authors served up to Ogden voters this morning in the Std-Ex.

Update 10/10/07 3:27 p.m. MT: A Not so subtle reminder: Amy Wicks, who is running for the Council again, will be at Grounds for Coffee at 30th and Harrison today, Oct. 10th, from 7 pm till 9 pm. Great chance to meet the Councilwoman and talk with her about what concerns you most about Ogden -- or what you like most and want to see preserved. A chance to ask questions and make your views known, straight up and face to face.

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