Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year 2008

A new year's greeting from your ever-sedate WCF blogmeister

We trust EVERYONE in Emerald City will be celebrating New Year's Eve -- and the arrival of the new year (that'll be 2008 folks) -- in typical Emerald City fashion:

We thank all our gentle readers for their attentive and vigorous support during the year 2007; and we pledge to dive right back into red-meat Emerald City news, just as soon as Ace Reporter Schwebke returns from his holiday vacation.

So... what are your plans tonight?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Boss Godfrey Sticks it to Another Emerald City Business Owner

You're not a Friend of Matt? Tough Luck!

By Curmudgeon

If there was any remaining doubt that the Godfrey administration is primarily concerned with taking care of insider-owned businesses, and doesn't much care about the rest of the business community, that doubt should be removed by a Top of Utah front page story in this morning's Standard-Examiner.

The story concerns a raised median traffic barrier that has suddenly appeared on Washington Blvd. adjacent to the River Project redevelopment area in Ogden. Here are the opening graphs:

Residents and several businesses are angry about an access-restricting raised median that went up on Washington Boulevard last month without public hearings or prior notification.

A small yellow curb divides the state-owned Washington Boulevard between 18th Street and 20th Street and keeps drivers from making left turns in or out of businesses and apartment complexes.

Jim Koertge, proprietor of the Prairie Schooner Steak House, 445 Park Blvd., said the inconvenience has already hurt his business, which has its main access from Washington Boulevard.

"Locals will find a way to get here even if it's a long way around, but tourists won't," he said, adding that out-of-towners account for 80 percent of his business.

A half block away, at Nationwide Auto Glass, the sentiment is the same.

"I think it's terrible and it's damaging our business," said Chris Johnson, a manager at Nationwide. "I don't think it does any real good."
And why has the barrier gone up [and with no, repeat not public notice]? Why, to accommodate development in the River Project zone of course. From the story:

In 2006, Ogden applied for a permit from the Utah Department of Transportation to give Park Boulevard an access on the west side of Washington as part of a redevelopment agency project along the Ogden River. Before that, Park ended at the east side of Washington.
UDOT thought all this was not a good idea, particularly because the city wanted...

the intersection off-set to provide some space between the river and Park on the west side of Washington, said Adan Corrillo, a spokesman for UDOT". [...]

"This proposal would create unacceptable conflicts with the left turn movements. In order to mitigate these conflicts, a considerable length of raised median would have to be constructed. This would be a costly addition and would also have impacts on existing access in the area," Pope wrote in the July 10 letter. "If the City still desires to move forward with the original proposal, we will be happy to assist in recommendations for the raised median. We would also expect the City to take appropriate measures to inform adjacent communities of the change in access prior to beginning the project."
OK, to summarize: City wants new road alignment at Washington and the River, that UDOT thinks is a bad idea. But if the city insists, UDOT will comply but expects the city to do proper notification of pending change for businesses and residents. And what happened then?

According to its rules, UDOT must hold a public hearing "where the project would have a substantially different social, economic or environmental effect; or where the project would essentially change the layout or function of connecting roads or streets."

A public meeting should have been held, Carrillo said, but it was the city's responsibility, because it was the entity requesting the access to the state road.

Koertge said he never heard about the project until construction began last month. Patterson said the city did not hold any public hearings because they were unaware of the UDOT policy. He said the city intended to notify the affected residents and businesses before construction began, but there was a breakdown in communication.
"There was a gentleman in our office who was responsible for notifying the people," he said. "But he left and delegated it to someone else, and it didn't happen."
Gosh darn it, says Mr. Patterson, Godfrey's CAO, we just forgot. Sorry 'bout that. And what, you might ask, does the Godfrey administration propose to do about its failure to do what the law requires? Nothing:

At this point, Patterson said, there is not much the city can do."The median is in and it's not going to be coming out," he said. "We're just complying with what UDOT required."

For Koertge, the issue is not closed. He said he can't understand how UDOT and the city could be so careless concerning their taxpaying constituency.

"After 30 years of business, I've never seen anything like this," said the white-bearded Koertge at his rustic restaurant that has become an Ogden landmark. "Really, it hurts your feelings. It gives you a funny feeling in your stomach. Why would they do something like this to you?"
Why, Mr. K? Because the Godfrey administration does not much give a damn about already established local businesses. It is devoting its full energies to enriching its developer cronies and to concocting grandiose schemes to lure Paris Hilton to stay in Ogden to ride gondolas. If your business, and others, have to suffer to achieve great wealth for Godfrey cronies, well that's just the sacrifice you will, as a public spirited citizen business man, you will have to make, I guess.

As for the public hearings and public notice that never happened? Well, Mr. K, that's what happens when we have a Mayor who does not give a damn about public notice or open government, a Mayor who prefers to operate in secret. What this administration cares about gets taken care of. The rest it lets slide. And it doesn't much care about holding required public hearings about projects designed to enrich its developer buddies when those hearings are likely to raise complaints from existing businessmen not included in the Godfrey Enrich My Cronies Club.

Can any one imagine Mr. Patterson ever saying, "There was a gentleman in our office responsible for transferring the city-owned options in the River Project area to Mr. Leshem, but he left and delegated the job to someone else, and it didn't happen, so the options lapsed. Too late to do anything about it now."

No. Neither can I.

It's about time, in fact it's long past time, for members of the business community in Ogden not included Godfrey's Cronies Enrichment Club to wake up, smell the coffee and begin to act as members of the Chamber of Commerce and other local business organizations to protect their interests before they find out what next Godfrey plans to benefit the RDA zones at their expense.

Interesting that stories illustrating either the mendacity or incompetence of the Godfrey administration [in re: in this case failure to hold required public hearings on the traffic median on Washington] are breaking in the Std-Ex post-election.

Imagine that... .

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Saturday Morning "Two-fer"

Spotlighting two items on the 2008 state legislative agenda

Two 2008 legislative stories worthy of discussion this morning, we believe, each arriving via a northern Utah newspaper editorial page:

First, we'll start off with this top-notch editorial in today's Deseret Morning News. House representatives Greg Hughes and Sheryl Allen have reportedly expressed interest in tightening up Utah's sloppy campaign finance disclosure laws, to provide penalties for candidates who play it "fast and loose" in the accuracy and timeliness of their campaign disclosure filings. For those readers who don't have a D-News hard-copy readily at hand, we incorporate the article's pertinent paragraphs:

Often in sports, when a team finds a way to use a violation to its best advantage, the rules committee changes the rules. So it should be for political campaigns. And, fortunately, several lawmakers gearing up for the 2008 legislative session are on-board for altering "business as usual" when it comes to campaign finance reform.
Unfortunately, getting campaign finance reforms through the state Legislature can be like ushering a cat through a dog pound.

On the upside, Rep. Greg Hughes would like to see fines for candidates who fail to file critical disclosure forms on time. Currently their names are simply lifted from the ballot or the candidate will get a judge to waive the penalty and allow them to be put on the ballot.

Rep. Sheryl Allen says that too many office holders also play shell games with disclosure reports. They refuse to list substantial contributors and expenditures on the initial report, then file an amended report after the election is over in order to avoid criticism and scrutiny. [...]

The fines suggested would be stingers: $1,000 for filing a late report, with $50 added to that for each day after the deadline. A proposal also would ding candidates for amending reports.
We in Emerald City have recently had our own unpleasant experiences with the laxness of our current campaign finance disclosure laws, of course; and we wish these two legislators our best in their possibly "uphill effort" to achieve meaningful reform during the next legislative session.

While they're at it, there's another reform which we'd like to pass on to these and other legislators, in the event that anybody on the hill truly seeks real campaign finance disclosure reform. We believe a law requiring state level filings and full disclosure of the identities of ALL Political Action Committee (PAC) contributors should be an object of any campaign finance disclosure movement which arises during this legislative session. Under the current law, Utah PACs remain exempt form any state level filing/reporting requirements, so long as their contributions are restricted to local (municipal and county) races. As our regular Weber County Forum readers are well aware, at least two of our municipal council candidates in the last election received a total of almost $19,000 in contributions from a mysterious Friends of Northern Utah Real Estate PAC. And we're still scratching our heads over this yet-unravelled problem. Under current law these local PAC contributions are shielded from public scrutiny, rendering current campaign finance laws essentially useless at the local level. Hopefully the legislature will approach reform in earnest this year.

As an added bonus we'll also link this morning's Gentle Curmudgeon contribution, dissecting and analyzing this morning's Standard-Examiner editorial.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Creeped Out in Emerald City

By Monotreme

I am creeped out by the fact that the Standard-Examiner seems to have the same obsession with the failed Dorothy Littrell election lawsuit as the mayor.

I've heard the mayor complain loud and long that Dorothy Littrell is responsible for everything bad that happens in the city. If the crime rate were rising, then she'd probably be responsible for that. It's an odd idee fixe, but if you're going to be the Hero, you need an antagonist, right?

Where, oh where, was the news peg in today's story? "Lawyers want money"? Wow. That's a revelation.

Wake up, Standard-Examiner! When you publish stories that appear to have been ground out of the Mayor's personal diary, it just makes you look like more of a lapdog for the city administration.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Standard-Examiner "bends over" yet again

More ridiculous pro-Godfrey spin from the even more ridiculous neoCON Standard-Examiner

By Ozboy

It seems that the Standard-Examiner has decided to be the great uniter, and in this case explainer away of BS, for the citizens of Emerald City.

Thus the article yesterday that was commented upon in an article below, and another in the form of this morning's (26 Dec) Std-Ex editorial:

Standard-Examiner kisses Godfrey Butt again

This editorial seems to be telling us hoi polloi that the outrageous bending over the barrel we are about to be administered - by the city water and sewer problem - is really our own fault and long overdue at that!

It totally ignores the underlying issue, the one that proves the incompetence of Godfrey and his circle of empty suits. The BDO profits that were supposed to underwrite the repair of the city infrastructure, you know - the profits that are now being pledged to pay for and prop up PeeWee's playhouse.

For eight years now PeeWee and his little circle jerk pals have twiddled their collective thumbs while the city continued to slide into disrepair. All the time they were playing their fairy tale developer games with each other - and our money.

Yes folks, if it weren't for the total and complete incompetence of the the stooges on nine we would be getting our water de-yellowfide, thanks to our ownership of that wonderful gift from the US Army - the BDO - and not humongous rate increases - which we know are really tax increases called something else.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Another Fantastic Display of Holiday Generosity

Our Weber County Forum readers "come through" for the MWC Sub for Santa Program

This morning's Standard-Examiner features what we believe to be an excellent editorial, examining the oft-asked question: Is there a Santa Claus?

Although we believe the question was well settled 109 years ago in the foregoing essay, we nevertheless offer further circumstantial proof.

On December 17 we issued a challenge to our Weber County Forum readership, in the form of a plea for support for The Marshall White Center Sub For Santa Program. To sweeten the pot, Ogden City homeboy Tom Owens agreed to match our readers' donations dollar for dollar. The MWC Sub For Santa Program has been a favorite of ours since the founding of this blog, just as MWC is one of our favorite Emerald City institutions.

To our great delight, we received a report yesterday that our readers responded in generous fashion, and that this year's Sub For Santa has been an unqualified success, largely due to our gentle readers' largesse.

We are pleased to report that individual Weber County Forum readers contributed a total of $1,400 to MWC this year. That sum, combined with Tom Owens's own matching grant, thus brought WCF contributions to $2,800. Adding the $700 that program director Tiffany raised from other donors, the MWC program wound up with $3,500 for Santa's Christmas shopping this holiday season.

We therefore gratefully issue our hearty thanks, on behalf of program director Tiffany, the Marshall White Center staff, Weber County Forum and yes -- especially Tom Owens -- for yet another fantastic display of Weber County Forum reader holiday generosity.

Yes, Virginia... there IS a Santa Claus, and he/she resides, at least in part, within our wonderful WCF readership.

And a belated Merry Christmas to everyone!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Toss a Little Change Into the Fire Chief's Cup This Holiday Season

The Ogden Fire Department is reportedly dang near broke

We find troubling news in this morning's Standard-Examiner: The Emerald City Fire Department is essentially... well... broke. According to this Ace Reporter Schwebke story, a recent independent audit reports serious across-the-board deficiencies in infrastructure, equipment and staffing which, if corrected now, at today's costs, would sum up to about 5.7 million bucks. In addition to that, the OFD seems to be experiencing employee morale problems -- something about a "retention problem" with newly-hired (and newly-trained) firefighters.

Department Chief Mike Mathieu is however keeping a stiff upper lip, despite his department's financial embarrassment. Like department heads in most underfunded Ogden City departments, (The Economic Development Department excepted) he's maintaining a bright outlook:
“I don’t think public safety is being compromised,” he said.

Nevertheless, he vowed to leave no stone unturned in his search for funding to beef up staffing, purchase new equipment and renovate aging fire stations.

“I’m looking under any rocks that I can for money,” Mathieu said. [...]

The city is using a $375,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency pre-disaster mitigation grant and a local match of $125,000 from its capital improvement budget to upgrade Station No. 5.

That work should be complete in June. The fire department will use the renovation project as a template to determine specific costs for seismic and structural improvements at other stations, Mathieu said.
Well yes -- for our Ogden City Firefighters there's always the old "tin cup." Thank goodness for those federal grants -- and we're keeping our fingers crossed.

Councilwoman Jeske offers her own sober evaluation of the OFD's pressing pecuniary problems:

Although the department has applied for several federal grants to address some of its most pressing needs, there is no guarantee funding will be forthcoming, which means the city may have to step up to the plate, said City Councilwoman Dorrene Jeske.

“We can’t depend on grants to remedy the problems,” she said. “The city is going to have to take the bull by the horns, and we are going to have to fund it one way or another.”
Jeske's suggestion seems sensible enough. Stepping up to the plate (providing adequate funding) is the manner in which other cities fund their fire departments. We'll presume, at least for the moment, that most other cities don't compel their city fire chiefs to lurk around the local federal building, begging for spare change.

And speaking of "taking the bull by the horns," we're going to reprise on the front page some comments received in an earlier WCF comments section, in which Gentle Reader Ogden Resident posted a link and discussed Emerald City's newly-released Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. According to that report, Boss Godfrey will be writing off some $6.3 million in RDA debt, funds that were advanced from the Ogden City General Fund to the RDA for various of Boss Godfrey's downtown "pet projects." As gentle reader Ogden Resident notes, this is $6.3 million that will never be directly returned to the public treasury.

Let's see now. The Ogden Fire Department is "short" $5.7 million, and Ogden City will be "charging off" some $6.3 million in "uncollectable" receivables.

Coincidence? Misplaced priorities, perhaps?

And a gentle (but possibly unecessary) reminder to our Emerald City readers this holiday season: We hope you'll all pay particular attention to fire safety this year.

And one thing more: If you see Chief Mathieu standing outside a store today, along-side the Salvation Army guy -- as you finish any last-minute Christmas shopping -- we hope you'll be sure to drop a little change in his cup.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Saturday Morning Quickie Quiz

Match up the little doggie with its owner
UPDATED with a couple of today's other news items per Gentle Curmudgeon

Just to fill the void in Emerald City news during the pre-Christmas run-up, we decided to start off the morning with a quickie quiz. For those readers who haven't already caught a glimpse of this morning's Standard-Examiner, we know you'll get a kick out of this:

Today's Std-Ex Top of Utah section features a large photo of a dog. Your task is to identify its owner:

a) Singer, model, actress, author, and world-famous heiress/gadabout Paris Hilton.

b) Pop music singer, songwriter, dancer, actress and model mom Britney Spears.

c) Comedienne, actress, talk show host, businesswoman, and celebrity Joan Rivers.

d) Utah State Senator, Ogden Police Chief and certifiably macho all-round tough guy Jon Greiner.

The photo:

Stumped? Click here to find the answer.

Chalk this up to a terribly slow news day; and feel free to treat this as an open thread.

Update 12/22/07 10:45 a.m. MT: Concurrently with the publication of today's article, Gentle Curmudgeon has dredged up a couple of other news items which might be worthy of discussion in today's thread. Accordingly, we link Curmudgeon's supplementary text & analysis here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Mayor, the RDA & the Ogden River Project

Ad hoc "gummint" rule-making elevated to an Emerald City art form

By The Lovely Jennifer

I think Mayor Godfrey is – and has been – playing his own version of Calvinball; and that for some time.

From the RDA article in yesterday's Standard Examiner:
The city’s Redevelopment Agency adopted a resolution Tuesday night that retroactively ratifies Mayor Matthew Godfrey’s transfer of 38 property purchase options within the second phase of the Ogden River Project to California businessman Gadi Leshem. ...

City Council Chairman Jesse Garcia said the RDA board, which is made up of the city council, didn’t learn until October that the city had obtained and transferred 38 options in the project’s second phase to Leshem.

The resolution approved Tuesday night will keep the RDA in the loop regarding future option transfers, Garcia said. “The RDA board should be kept informed,” he said.
In these tidbits of information, we find the Little Lord invoking at least 4 rules from the historical game of Calvinball, to wit:

• 1.2 Any player may declare a new rule at any point in the game. The player may do this audibly or silently depending on what zone (Rule 1.5) the player is in.

• 1.4 Any player legislation may be in the form of pain, embarrassment, or any other abasement the rulee deems fit to impose on his opponent.

• 1.5 The Calvinball Field should consist of areas, or zones, which are governed by a set of rules declared spontaneously and inconsistently by players. Zones may appear and disappear as often and wherever the player decides. Zones are often named for their effect.

• 1.9 Any rule above that is carried out during the course of the game may never be used again in the event that it causes the same result as in a previous game.
For a complete listing of the rules to the aforementioned game of Calvinball, please go to The Official Rules of Calvinball.

I would go on, but ... you get the point.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Marshall White Center Needs your Christmas-time Donations

Contrary to earlier reports, the MWC Sub for Santa Program has not met its demise
Please reach into your hearts and offer your support for the disadvantaged kids in Ogden

By Tom Owens

Contrary to earlier reports, the Sub for Santa program at the Marshall White Center is still on, however tenuous it may have seemed to be.

The city administration, in its infinite wisdom, has terminated Fritz Bachman, the very fine and capable man who has been running the Sub for Santa program for a long time. In past years he has done a very fine job in running this and many other programs at the Marshall White Center.

The Sub for Santa program has been assigned to a nice young woman and part time volunteer named Tiffany. Along with her other assignments, and a full load at Weber State, Tiffany is struggling with bringing about a successful Sub for Santa program this year.

There are 28 poor children in Ogden who may go without a Merry Christmas if the program does not succeed. Tiffany is faced with an uphill climb in raising the necessary money for these young fellow citizens of ours. She has been able to raise approximately $700 so far, mostly from her relatives.

I hereby plead with the fine denizens of the Weber County Forum to open up your hearts and wallets to these disadvantaged children of Ogden.

I hope that we can collectively help Tiffany raise another $2,100 for this fine cause. That would be $2,800 total, or $100 per child. With this $100, and the good will and generosity of some local merchants that I hope to solicit, we can bring some joy into these precious young people's Christmas.

Please give any amount you can to this cause, whether it be $5 or $100 or any amount in between or more. I will match any amount that you give, thus doubling your contribution.

Please call Tiffany at 866-3789 (or alternately 393-0162) to make your pledge and to make arrangements to get the money to her.

Please do it now before you forget. Make sure you tell her it is through the Weber County Forum so that I can match your pledge. Your contributions should be given to Tiffany directly so that she can pay the merchants directly.

Not to worry, Tiffany and the money will be overseen by the management of the Marshall White Center.

There is no better pay off than the feeling you will get by helping these disadvantaged kids at Christmas. A great Tequila buzz doesn't even come close, and there is absolutely no hangover to boot!

Thanks for joining me in helping Tiffany make Christmas happen for these kids.

Update 12/19/07 6:00 p.m. MT: We talked to Tiffany today, and she tells me we're about $1,000 short of our goal. Cough it up you cheap holiday celebrants. Think about how great you'll feel on Christmas morning, when you look over the gifts you gave your kids... and the ones you DIDN'T give to kids who are TRULY in need.

Monday Morning News Roundup

Clearing out the WCF "back-burner" queue

As most of our regular readers are already aware, your blogmeister took the weekend off; so we've decided this morning to play "catch up," and do a roundup of a few of the news stories that caught our jaded eye within the last couple of days. To kick off today's discussion, we'll reel off those stories which we found most interesting since last Friday's post:

Ron Paul Update: Last Monday, we ran a Ron Paul "teaser," featuring a You Tube video about GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul. In response to this, we elicited 25 reader comments, ranging from Tec Jonson's unquivocal embrace of Dr. Paul as the only candidate with a "coherent and acceptable platform," to the comments of True Republican, with "Don't throw your votes away on someone who cannot possibly win!" We particularly liked Monotreme's take: "Oh, and the anarchist in me wishes for a Paul-Kucinich matchup."

The purported "non-viability" of Dr. Paul's candidacy is of course the constant refrain of Big Media (and party insiders on both sides of the partisan political aisle.)

It's in that context that we post this morning's L.A. Times "Top of the Ticket" blog article, reporting on Dr. Paul's Sunday online fundraiser, wherein the Ron Paul campaign just set another all-time record ($6 million) for such a one-day event.

Does Ron Paul's candidacy "have legs?" We believe that yesterday's fund-raiser suggests that it does.

Several other interesting articles on the WCF back-burner:

Vescor Capital Update. Emerald City "investment broker" Val Southwick is back in the news, with this 12/16/07 Salt Lake Tribune article. And from the article, we post this short exerpt:
"Some talk about how he [Southwick] used his membership in the LDS Church to assure investors or potential investors about his honesty and the safety of their investments. Brad Hatch told of one investor, who, after payments stopped, went to speak to Southwick on behalf of others with whom he had vouched for Southwick. Southwick invoked the Sunday school lesson he was planning that week about the need for patience.

"That gave credibility to him, that Val was telling the truth," Hatch said.
Where, we ask, have we heard that story before?

Disturbing Environmental News. We have this good news from this morning's Standard-Examiner: "Diesel spill threatens Nature Center".

Replace the Emerald City RDA Director. Finally, a Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to gentle reader Tom Owens, for his success in disseminating a constant Weber County Forum theme to the general readership of the Standard-Examiner.

In the interest of getting this morning's discussion going before this afternoon, (the telephone has been ringing off the hook all morning,) we'll post today's article now, and leave the microanalysis to our gentle readers.

As per usual, feel free to pick up the discussion on any of the above suggested topics, or start up one of your own.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ace Reporter Schwebke Reports the Final Election Finance Figures

Boss Godfrey outspent EVERYONE, of course

Our Emerald City 2007 municipal election is once again front-page news this morning, with Scott Schwebke reporting the final financial disclosure tallies for the mayoral and council races. To nobody's surprise, Boss Godfrey raised and spent more money on the mayoral race than all other candidates in all other Emerald City races combined. As we all know, when it comes to spending, Boss Godfrey plays second fiddle to no one. For those unfortunates who didn't find a Standard-Examiner hard-copy on their front porches this morning (as your blogmeister did,) we incorporate a few of Ace Reporter Schwebke's pertinent paragraphs as follows:

OGDEN — Mayor Matthew Godfrey says he spent a record $181,948 in last month’s general election to fend off opposition to some of his controversial initiatives so he could win a third term.
“There is an old saying in politics that ‘Your friends come and go, but your enemies accumulate,’ ” he said.
“I have eight years of enemies who haven’t liked any of a number of my projects. I had to spend a lot more money to get my message out.”

Enemies? We believe that may be a bit of an overstatement. Let's just say that almost half the voters in Emerald City apparently believed a reckless-spending authoritarian like Boss Godfrey is unfit for elective public office. That doesn't however mean any of us are enemies.

Godfrey goes on to clumsily cherry-pick a few of his projects which he believes to have raised the lumpencitizens' hackles this year:
Godfrey said The Junction, an entertainment and retail development at the former Ogden City Mall site, and the Ogden River Project, which calls for the construction of businesses and residential units on 60 acres near downtown, are among his pet projects that have drawn the most criticism.
Noticeably absent from Godfrey's "issues list" is of course the gondola/landgrab issue, the radioactive problem that caused a near civil war in our formerly bucolic community over the past several years. Except for fancy footwork on Boss Godfrey's part, this politically toxic issue probably would have scuttled Godfrey's re-election campaign entirely -- yet Godfrey fails to recognise it as having been a "problem" issue. We suppose however that it's OK for Boss Godfrey to ignore this pesky issue, and to continue to live in his world of self-delusion. The voters of Emerald City had the opportunity to give Godfrey a dose of true reality in November after all... and Boss Godfrey's "mushroom vision" prevailed (fair and square) by 449 votes.

Further down the article, Ace Reporter Schwebke (forever the Godfrey apologist) attempts to put Boss Godfrey's extravagant campaign war chest into context. "It's just peanuts," Schwebke suggests, compared to the massive monies frittered away by candidates Becker and Buhler in the Salt Lake City mayoral race:
However, those amounts pale when compared with the recent Salt Lake City mayoral race between Ralph Becker and Dave Buhler.

Becker raised $683,201 in campaign contributions and spent $668,580; Buhler raised $489,952 and spent $485,682.
Being the curious type, we went back to the official Weber County election data, did a quick calculation and determined that Boss Godfrey spent approximately $25.10 per vote, a few pennies more than the prevailing SLC mayoral candidate Becker, who reportedly spent $24.26 per vote. Godfrey's campaign spending wasn't necessarily over extravagant therefore, at least when taking into consideration the standards of our big-city neighbor down south. Nevertheless, (so long as we're keeping it all in context) we'll make the point that candidate Becker's unsuccessful opponent Buhler actually outspent Becker (per vote) -- on a relatively equal financial playing field -- whereas Godfrey outspent Van Hooser by nearly a 3 to 1 margin -- on a financial playing field that was anything but even. And we can't overlook Godfrey's own proud admission: "Godfrey said the amounts raised and spent by his campaign are the most ever by a local candidate."

We think former Republican National Committee Chairman Richard Richards said it best at last week's WSU Government Ethics Symposium: "Money is the mother's milk of politics."

We'll also briefly mention another story appearing in this morning's Std-Ex. Ogden's only downtown independent bookstore is now calling it quits. Pat Ortega, who has owned and operated "The Bookshelf" on Washington Blvd. for 27 years, is liquidating his inventory and accepting an "offer he can't refuse" from (surprise of surprises) a Friend Of Matt Godfrey (FOM.) And the FOM in question...? None other than G-Train Wilkerson herself!!!

Soon all downtown properties will be owned by "Friends of Matt," we suspect, and our whole downtown area will be littered with nothing but cute & trendy restaurants and boutiques. But remember... if you need to buy books... we have our own Weber County Forum Bookstore in our left sidebar.

That's it for the moment. Consider this another open topic thread.

Update 12/16/07 3:25 p.m. MT: Charlie Trentleman has a touching article this morning, regarding the closure of "The Bookshelf." We incorporate here his opening graphs:
After The Bookshelf is closed, there’s going to be this moment when I stand outside, pound on the glass and yell, “Books! Books!”
If you are familiar with the movie “The Graduate,” Dustin Hoffman does the same thing, for the same reason, at a church door. It is a last-gasp attempt to stop agonizing, gut-wrenching loss.
OK, he is calling “Elaine!”, played by actress Katharine Ross, who is, I’m pretty sure, not a book. Other than that, the parallel is complete.
I’ve been in Ogden 29 years. The Bookshelf, between 24th and 25th streets on Washington Boulevard, has been here 27.
It is something one assumes will never go away –– then Pat Ortega, the owner, gets this silly idea he can sell the building and retire.
Really, Pat, isn’t the world cruel enough?
You can read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Two Emerald City Christmas Season Charitable Events

Your blogmeister again "puts the arm" on our gentle WCF readers, for renewed displays of holiday generosity

With today's lull in red-meat local news, we'll take this opportunity to announce two community events, geared toward our ever-generous Weber County Forum readers' propensity toward Christmas season charity.

Marshall White Center. As our long-time readers will recall, over the course of the previous two years we've strongly supported the Marshall White Center Sub for Santa program. Alas, it appears (at least at this juncture) that MWC will not be sponsoring such a program this year, however. On the bright side, the folks at Marshall White will be sponsoring a Community Christmas Dinner; and MWC is thus in need of donations and volunteers.

The MWC has fallen on "lean times" ever since Boss Godfrey decided this wonderful community resource ought to be privatized. The Center needs all they help that it can get.

One of our gentle readers has sent us information about this upcoming event, which we make available here. For those readers who've gotten into the habit of supporting MWC during the Christmas season, this event provides the opportunity to carry on the tradition.

Firefighters' Christmas Events. We've also been asked by our local firefighters to provide some info on their several holiday events. The Professional Firefighters of Ogden and the Ogden Firefighters Association are sponsoring several Miracle Trees throughout the City with ornaments to help some of the children in Ogden who may not have a Christmas. The ornaments are basic items needed by the kids, shoes, underwear, pajamas -- nothing frivolous.

One of our Firefighters is having a concert too. It’s free to the public, and Santa will be there for the kids. It will be a great activity for the families, and help the less fortunate at the same time.

For more information, click this link.

During the short history of Weber County Forum, our readers have managed to contribute donations to local charities totalling in the thousands of dollars. In 2005, one of our readers actually donated $10,000 to help this woman avoid a pre-Christmas home foreclosure, in response to a plea for help published on this blog.

We hope that our gentle readers will once again respond with their usual holiday generosity to the needs of those in our community who are less fortunate than we. Time to again reach into our hearts, gentle readers... and into our pocketbooks, we think.

And whatever you decide to do... don't be this guy this holiday season:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

RDA Bails on the Emerald City Union Square Project

Council Director Bill Cook suggests a $.63 million loss is "good news"
Emerald city citizens plead for somebody in local government to behave honestly

By Curmudgeon

Interesting article in this morning's Standard-Examiner. The Ogden RDA [aka City Council] last night sold the city's remaining interest in the Union Square townhouse development for a million dollars to a group intending now to complete the second phase of the town home development. According to the story, the City had fronted the original project about one and a quarter million dollars [not counting a $650 K tax increment bond].

What I found most interesting in the story was this comment by Bill Cook, Clerk of the Council and RDA Administrator: The sale of the RDA's interest in the second phase of Union Square is beneficial because it will recover most of its original investment, Cook said. "It's great news."

What's interesting is this: back when the first phase of the project went belly up, the Mayor kept pointing to the project as a sign of his business prowess and sound business judgment [most people do not point to investments that go belly up as signs of their business acumen but Godfrey did]. Others, myself among them, suggested that the failed original development indicated instead a lack of sound business judgment on the Mayor's part. At which point, in several discussions, the Mayor insisted that once new investors took over, the city had "not lost a dime" on its investment.

Mr. Cook's statement this morning suggests that the Mayor's claim back then was not accurate. Note Mr. Cook says the city has now recouped "most" of its original investment. [We seem to be out about a quarter of a million in public funds, in the end.]

Now, it's good the city got a million back. It's good the new investors intend to complete the project [timed to coincide with the arrival of Frontrunner]. I hope the new project is sold out before completion. That would be very good news for downtown and for Ogden. What interests me about Mr. Cook's statement is that it cannot be true if the mayor's claim [we didn't lose a dime] is true, and if Mr. Cook's statement is true, the mayor's claim cannot be. Or am I missing something?

I think Mr. Cook has the numbers on his side in this, at least based on what the Std-Ex story says. But I have to ask, as so many have asked so many times before, why is it this administration can not speak openly, plainly and honestly about its decisions? Why is it constantly being revealed that this statement, that assertion, the other claim was not, in fact, accurate or complete? Why the endless dissembling?

And it is, usually, all so damn unnecessary. The City uses its development funds much like a venture capitalist does his funds. It makes what it considers prudent investments in development that will pay off in the long run for the city and the taxpayers. Because it is spending public money, it has to be more cautious, more conservative in making such investments than an ordinary venture capitalist would be [who is putting at risk only his own and his partners' money]. Nevertheless, we cannot reasonably expect every city development investment to pay off, to work out exactly as anticipated. Nobody bats a thousand.

An honest statement by the Mayor at the time the original project went under, that it had seemed like a prudent investment for the city,and the Council had agreed, but that it hadn't worked out, that he hoped still to retrieve a major portion of the city's investment from the new owners, but that it was not all going to work out as he and the Council had hoped, would have served him, and the city, better than the usual political "it's not my fault; we didn't really lose anything; you're all naysayers" spin we got instead.

Dear Mayor Godfrey: speak honestly. Speak plainly. Don't dissemble. Even when you or your administration screws up. Build a reputation for your word being good, even if on occasion it turns out your judgment has not been. Nobody bats a thousand. Openness and honesty would serve your city... and you... a lot better in the long term than the endless dissembling you are in the habit of serving up instead.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tuesday Morning Scatter-shot

Prelude to an open-topic thread

We're pressed for time this morning, so we've decided to set up an open topic thread. First however, we'll briefly highlight a few northern Utah news stories which caught our attention this morning:

1) Huntsman: $11.7B Budget. We were delighted to read this morning's Standard-Examiner story, in which Jeff DeMoss reports that governor Huntsman has pencilled-in $19.7 million from his office's proposed 2009 budget, to be applied toward construction of a long-sought Weber County veteran's nursing home. In the mere 5 months since the Utah Department of Veterans' Affairs was upgraded to governor's cabinet status, UDVA Director Terry Schow and his fellow veterans' advocates have made more progress toward realization of this project than in the previous several years combined. State legislative leadership appears also to be on-board with the governor's plan, according to today's story; and we suppose it didn't hurt the cause of Utah veterans to have had Terry Schow's new office relocated to just down the hall from the Governor's office.

2) Powder Mountain Rezone. The Std-Ex also reports on Monday's decision, wherein the Ogden Valley Planning Commission recommended approval of the pending Powder Mountain rezoning proposal -- subject to highly restrictive conditions. According to this morning's story, the commission's decision was tactical in nature:

Commissioner William Siegel said he wanted to vote against the rezone, but realized if the Ogden Valley Planning Commission voted it down, the proposal would just go to the Weber County Commission, which often votes differently.

“Denying this would be just liking punting the ball into their side of the field,” he said.

He said the best option was to approve the rezone with stiff conditions, although the County Commission can still remove any requirements.

Notably, Commissioner Lythgoe (who has a property interest in an parcel of property adjacent to the proposed development) abstained from voting on the matter, thus demonstrating ethics of the highest order, we think.

The planning commission's recommendation now moves on to the county commission. We'll be standing by watching to see whether the commission approves the planners' recommendation in toto, or rolls over for the developers and rips the conditional recommendation to shreds.

3) Sub-prime Market Meltdown. Charlie Trentelman meanders into a discussion of mortgage finance and real estate market economics this morning, with a fine segue from the plight of an Arizona flower shop, to President Bush's proposed sub-prime interest rate freeze. Trentelman himself properly characterises the situation as "grim", even dropping this gloomy quote from WaPo columnist Steven Perlstein: "How bad could it get? Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein says the coming financial mess won’t be as bad as 1929’s crash, but it will be the worst we’ve had since."

Your blogmeister believes neither Trentelman nor Pearlstein express an appreciation of how truly bad it could get, in which connection we link this "chirpy" article, which was making the rounds within internet investor circles yesterday.

4) Eminent Domain Threatened in the River Project Area? This Ace Reporter Schwebke story comes at us straight out of the blue. We have no idea specifically what Rep. Hansen is worried about. In our view Boss Godfrey has been very successful in nailing down options to River Project Area properties at will, without ever having to resort to the actual use of eminent domain. We'll try to contact Rep. Hansen at some decent hour after sun-up, and hope to fill in the blanks with an update, once we've obtained an interview. In the meantime, we'd be happy to hear from our gentle readers on this. We're quite eager to become informed on this issue.

That's it for now folks. Feel free to take it from here. Discuss any of the above topics, or whatever else lifts your skirts.

Update 12/12/07 6:34 a.m. MT: It would seem that your blogmeister isn't the only one who liked the looks of Gov. Huntsman's proposed 2009 budget. This from this morning's Salt Lake Tribune:

A self-avowed supporter of locking up criminals and "throwing away the key," state Sen. Jon Greiner is pleased with Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s suggested Corrections budget.

"It's huge," said Greiner, a Republican who also serves as Ogden's police chief. "He did a great job."

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Shocking Truth About Ron Paul

Food for thought on a slow Emerald City news day
WCF Election 2008 kickoff

Thought provocative letter to the editor in this morning's Standard-Examiner, regarding this November 30 Doug Gibson column.

Being the curious type, we googled a little bit, in the hope that we could find something to set forth Ron Paul's case in a nutshell.

We came up with this:

Are there any Ron Paulophites within our WCF midst? Paulophobes?

Don't let the cat get your tongues...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

More Boss Godfrey Secret Back Door Deals

The Standard-Examiner editors suddenly emerge from political seclusion

By Curmudgeon

My my my, what is going on at the Standard-Examiner? The editors seem to have emerged from seclusion, looked over issues of the Salt Lake Trib now five days old, and been shocked... shocked, I tell you!... that the Godfrey administration has been again secretly transferring Ogden RDA owned properties to an administration crony. And so this morning's front page lead story. Here's the headline: "Ogden deal questioned -- Transfer of options to Leshem done without RDA board’s knowledge"

The story is by the oft-here-maligned Mr. Schwebke, and it's a good one. Adds considerable detail to the Kristen Moulton story that ran in the Trib five days or so ago.

From Mr. Schwebke's story:

OGDEN — The city obtained and transferred 38 purchase options for property within the second phase of the Ogden River Project as part of an exclusive deal on behalf of a private developer. Dave Harmer, the city’s community and economic development director, said he initiated an informal agreement in fall 2006 with California businessman Gadi Leshem to transfer the options. ...

The city used earnest money provided by Leshem to secure the 38 parcels, Harmer said. Harmer was unsure of the amount of earnest money provided. ...

City Council Chairman Jesse Garcia said the city’s RDA board, which is made up of the city council, didn’t learn until October that the options had been transferred. ...

Harmer said it was an oversight on his part, and he assumed that the RDA board was aware the options could be transferred. ...

It made sense to assign the options to Leshem because he was already acquiring a significant number of parcels in the second phase of the project on his own, Harmer said. ...

Eventually, three developers, Leshem, Michael Moyal of Ogden, and Jeremy Bell, a project manager for Orem based Sandstone Development, began acquiring land within the project’s second phase, Harmer said. Since Leshem was already a “key player,” the city transferred its options to him and didn’t consider offering them to anyone else, Harmer said. ...

Moyal, who owns the Ogden River Inn at 1825 Washington Blvd., said city officials promised in 2006 they would transfer to him options for three parcels on Kiesel Avenue off 18th Street. “They said I was best suited for them,” he said in a phone interview. However, the RDA instead gave them to Leshem. Moyal described the move as “disappointing but not surprising. ...”

Moyal said Leshem asked him to contribute the River Inn property to the Renaissance Village development in exchange for financial interest in the project.

So, Mr. Harmer "forgot" to tell the Council. The same Mr. Harmer, I believe, who refused to tell the Council who the Mayor wanted to sell the Bootjack properties too... which turned out to be another Administration crony buying city land not offered to others [and in that case, land someone had offered more for]. Now we learn the Administration made a secret arrangement with one of the Mayor's cronies to covertly act as his agent in acquiring options for him on 38 parcels in the River Project RDA. No one other than the Mayor's crony was permitted to make offers for those options. Imagine that. And all kept secret from the public and the RDA Board (City Council.)

And the Mayor had the audacity to complain to the Standard Examiner last week that the Council was not communicating with him and that he couldn't force the Council to communicate with him?

Have to wonder if the dunderheads on the Std-Ex editorial board that decided to endorse the Mayor for re-election are now embarrassed at the revelations appearing on their own front page. If, that is, they are capable of embarrassment, which is at least open to question. And we can wonder as well, I think, whether the election might have been affected had the paper done its damn job and ferreted out this story long ago. [According to Mr. Schwebke, the secret deal between Lesham and Godfrey was brokered in 2006.]

I recall last year attending a Council meeting at which Mr. Moyal complained about the Administration's lengthy attempts to block granting him a business license to open a restaurant on his River Project land. In the course of his comments, he said the administration was trying to get him to sell his property to "one of the mayor's friends" instead and he did not want to do that. The Mayor replied that Mr. Moyal was mistaken, that no one was trying to get him to sell his land to an Administration crony. Mr. Schwebke's story this morning makes it pretty clear, I think, that Mr. Moyal was speaking honestly at that meeting, and that the Mayor was... hmmmm, how to put this delicately, it being Christmas and all... well, let's just say the Mayor was being less than completely candid.

Back door deals with cronies, sale of public properties without public notice of same, and stonewalling the press, public and council about what's going on, all hallmarks of the Godfrey administration, endorsed for another term by the Standard Examiner editorial board.

Imagine that.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Two Friday Blockbuster Events - UPDATED

Two things Emerald City citizens can do if they can escape early from their workplace cubicles

There are two community events on calender for our Weber County Forum readers today, each of which centers on a topic which has been roundly discussed here on this forum from time to time.

Ogden River Project. First, we again remind our gentle readers that today has been designated as Emerald City River Restoration Celebration Day, which will be marked by festivities at the AmeriCan Complex, where Godfrey Administration officials and other dignitaries will be in abundance, slapping themselves on the backs and tub-thumping about the marvels of Big Government Central Planning. The Standard Examiner features an article about the underlying project in this morning's edition, which describes ambitious plans to clean up the Ogden River and to construct a 200-unit "village" development along the riverbank, ("Renaissance Village" as it's been dubbed) which will include the ubiquitous "trendy" lofts, restaurants and boutiques.

This project has been a long time in the making, and fraught with difficulties, as our regular readers already know. And for property owners in the area who've had their properties tied up with city-negotiated purchase options for almost six years, this project can't "happen" soon enough. We believe Ace Reporter Schwebke nicely (albeit briefly) captures the mood of some of these beleaguered property owners, at the foot of the article, with a few paragraphs and a pithy property owner quote:

Dave Sexton, who lives at 1887 Childs Ave., said he is upset that it has taken six years to reach agreement to sell his property as part of the River Project.

However, he says he will be pleased when Leshem finalizes the purchase of his home in January for $110,000.

"It makes me happy to get the heck out of Ogden," he said, adding that he plans to relocate from the city once his home is sold.
And for more on the manner in which River Project Area property owners have been adversely affected by this project, don't miss yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune article, wherein Kristen Moulton gets down to the nitty-gritty.

If you're an Emerald City citizen and you'd like to attend this event, you may unfortunately be outta luck. Admission to this event is by ticket only; and according to our sources, all available tickets have already been snapped up. If you're not a Friend of Matt Godfrey (FOM), you probably won't be able to obtain a ticket. As we all know, Emerald City government is governed by Boss Godfrey's unique visionary oligarchy form of government; and if you're not already a certified FOM -- you're obviously one of the little people without a ticket. That's why we're highlighting today's second Emerald City event, of course:

WSU Political Decency Symposium. As reported in yesterday's Standard-Examiner, Weber State University’s Institute for Politics, Decency and Ethical Conduct will present the symposium “Decency in the Political Arena: Is it Really the Exception and Not the Rule?” today. Unlike the River Project event, this symposium is free, and open to the lumpenpublic, without the necessity of obtaining a ticket. For further detail we provide this link to the WSU website, which reveals several blue ribbon panels of eminent academics and local politicos who will be in attendance to discuss issues which are dear to our Weber County Forum hearts.

Frankly, we wish the promoters of today's two events had better coordinated their scheduling to avoid the calender overlaps. If there's anyone in Emerald City who could benefit from attendance at an ethics symposium, it's gotta be Boss Godfrey and his administration "empty suits." Unfortunately, he and his "A" Team have a calender conflict.

Update 12/8/07 2:04 p.m. MT: Both the Standard-Examiner and Salt Lake Tribune have follow-up articles on yesterday's River Project event, with stories by Kristen Moulton and Ace Reporter Schwebke, respectively. As an added bonus (we think,) the Std-Ex website has a somewhat jaggedly edited streaming video on the subject.

Std-Ex reporter Sam Cooper also provides a report on yesterday's WSU symposium.

We invite our readers who attended either of these events to provide their own first-hand reports, in the lower comments section.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Traffic Ticket Quotas: Dueling Commentaries

Ticket quota advocates fight like badgers to preserve their ticket quota/justice court revenue stream

Traffic citation quotas are back in the Standard-Examiner news today, with this guest commentary by state representation Neil Hansen. Hansen's article sets forth the history of the "Citation Quota Prohibition Bill”, which passed in the house last year, but failed in senate committee by a tied 2-2 vote. As Hansen clearly explains, this legislation actually relates back to an even earlier 2000 bill which had been sponsored by Representative Dave Ure, Republican from Summit County. Rep. Hansen's proposed legislation, intended to address a problem which is pervasive in the state of Utah, goes back a long way indeed. Additionally, Rep. Hansen provides evidence, in careful detail, that a traffic citation quota system, with clear numeric criteria for specified time frames does exist in Emerald City.

Although Rep. Hansen's commentary was originally intended as a rebuttal to Greg Whinham's November 30 guest commentary, the Std-Ex has this morning framed its editorial page again in classic Std-Ex "he said - she said" fashion, with the insertion this morning of a second pro-quota article, this one from Ogden City's assistant police chief, Wayne Tarwater. Thus, Representative Hansen has TWO opposition editorials to rebut this morning.

Due to a problem with the Standard-Examiner's digital edition website this morning, we are unable to retrieve or link the full text of Chief Tarwater's piece, so we'll present it in summary form below, addressing the author's "points" one by one.

1) Chief Tarwater contends the Rep. Hansen's bill, which would simply prohibit performance criteria measuring set numbers of traffic tickets over fixed periods of time would prevent police department management from requiring the issuance of traffic tickets entirely. Chief Tarwater's argument is preposterous on it face, and he offers no convincing evidence that his officers, "Ogden's Finest," would behave unprofessionally -- and cease writing traffic tickets -- in the event that Rep. Hansen's bill is passed by the legislature.

2) Chief Tarwater then goes on to assert that there exists no evidence that ticket quota systems exist in Ogden or anywhere else. Of course regular WCF readers have already seen documentary proof to refute this patently false assertion. (It's right there at the bottom of page three -- right there in black and white.)

3) Chief Tarwater then suggests that Ogden City's current performance evaluation system is somehow permissible, because it was the subject of negotiations during the Ogden Police Benefit Association's 2005 salary negotiations. We believe this is flat untrue. We carefully followed those negotiations here on this board; and while these negotiations did indeed involve bringing public safety employees' pay into parity with other city employees, these negotiations did NOT, according to our understanding, involve negotiating specific criteria for individual officers' performance evaluation (PEP) scoring.

4) Chief Tarwater then argues that the current performance evaluation (ticket quota) system is not the "cash cow" that some critics have claimed it to be, and then launches into a tangential analysis of the ticket revenue "split" which occurs when traffic matters are adjudicated in Utah state courts. What Mr. Tarwater fails to mention however is the existence of Utah's municipal justice court system, such as now exists in Ogden, wherein ALL ticket revenue goes to the city, and NONE is divvied up with the state. Whether Mr. Tarwater is unaware of the existence of the justice court system -- or merely selective in his discussion of this issue we do not know. The net result, however, is that Chief Tarwater wholly fails to address the main issue, i.e., a municipal court system which operates in tandem with a numeric ticket quota system, often resulting in an unfair random tax on citizens who drive cars.

5) Chief Tarwater then resorts to a bizarre variation of the "no harm no foul" argument, noting that traffic offenders usually get shuffled off to traffic school anyway, as a practical matter, and thus there's is no real harm in the current system, aside from the fines and traffic school fees. The foregoing revenue items are of course the very problems which will be addressed by Rep. Hansen's bill. They are in fact a major part of the "cash cow" that citizens all across Utah have been loudly compaining about.

6) Finally, Chief Tarwater resorts to a final point: fixed numeric quotas are simply a necessary management tool. To that point we'll note that police department management already has a broad selection of tools to monitor employee performance, such as daily officer logs, GPI positioning devices and dash cams. Enough is enough, we say. Why should we lumpencitizens bear police department management problems on our backs?

Ticket quota advocates are fighting like badgers to preserve the ticket quota/justice court revenue stream. We wish Rep. Hansen the best of fortune with his bill in the upcoming legislative session.

There are also several other interesting stories in this morning's Std-Ex which we won't highlight at the moment. Our readers can expect a second main article today, as soon as the Std-Ex site is back up and running.

In the meantime the floor is open.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Dredging Up More WCF-topical News

Your blogmeister spares no effort to provide topics for WCF discussion

As is typical as we approach the holiday season, local red-meat news seems to have trickled to a standstill this week. Undaunted by this, your blogmeister has scoured the northern Utah media (and other places), and dredged up at least three items worthy of Emerald City topical discussion this morning:

First, we turn to this press release, which we post as a reminder of Friday's (December 7) Blockbuster Event, wherein Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will be in town as the featured speaker to kick off Gadi Leshem's River Restoration Celebration Day. With the assistance of the Boss Godfrey administration, Mr. Leshem has been madly scrambling since August of 2006 to snatch up every available property within the Ogden River Project Area. Although Mr. Leshem's "actual plans" admittedly remain in the "conceptual stage" (scribbled on a cocktail napkin, perhaps?) we are sure that no Weber County Forum reader worth his or her salt will want to miss this gala event, in the hope that they'll catch some glimpse of what's in store for the northern portion of our downtown area.

Within the press release we find this interesting information:

The Ogden Riverfront Development Company [ORDC] is a real estate development firm specializing in municipal planning and urban development. The company is currently involved in projects in downtown Ogden, with the emphasis on building communities around the river.

ORDC strives to create commercial and residential neighborhoods of superior quality while capitalizing on the beauty of Ogden and solidifying the city's position as a hub for outdoor recreation industries.
Being the curious type, we did a quick Department of Commerce search on ORDC, and came up with this filing, indicating that this company was formed only in July of 2007, and thus has no apparent history of successful real estate development. Once again the question arises: Does Gadi or his real estate development company actually have any experience with large projects of this sort?

Next, we'll highlight this morning's Salt Lake Tribune article, in which Cathy McKitrick reports that Utah's property tax reform movement is gaining traction. For readers following this issue, we incorporate Ms. McKitrick's lead paragraphs:

Three grass-roots organizations have banded together to lean on lawmakers to overhaul the state's property-tax system.

"We hope to accomplish significant tax reform, not the Band-Aid proposals that we've heard," says Donald Bell of Huntsville. "The balancing act is to assess all types of properties fairly and equitably across the board."

The new statewide coalition is called Citizens Coalition for Tax Fairness.

To form it, Bell's Weber County organization, Wingmen for Property Tax Reform, recently joined forces with Davis County's and Washington County's Fair Property Tax Committee.
We've added live links to the aforementioned organizations where available, for those readers who'd like to follow up on this story.

Finally, we'll direct our readers attention to yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune editorial, revealing the latest plot twist in the Build Your Own Utah World Class Resort Movement. It appears from a reading of this article, that our state legislature has, inadvertently or not, carved out a giant loophole for resort developers in Utah... a loophole which stands in dire need of being plugged. We were first alerted to this story by one of our alert readers in a lower article comments section in mid-November, BTW. A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to the Salt Lake Tribune for helping connect the dots.

That's it from us this morning, gentle readers. We'll rely upon you to carry the discussion from here.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Mending the Ogden Divide?

Our two rookie council members express interest in mending fences - will the mayor follow suit?

By Curmudgeon

Today's Standard-Examiner features a Scott Schwebke lead story, about the new council members pledging to try to heal the divisions in the city, and particularly the prickly relationship of late between Hizzonah Mayor Godfrey and the Council.

From the story:
Blain H. Johnson, who will occupy at-large Seat A, and Caitlin K. Gochnour, who will represent Municipal Ward 4, are cautiously optimistic they can help thaw the chilly relationship between the council and administration.

“I’m completely independent,” Gochnour said. “I want to be able to communicate openly with them (the city’s administration) when I support them and when I’m not supporting them. I feel like we can disagree in a dignified fashion and still respect each other.”

Johnson said he doesn’t believe in finger-pointing over past differences between the council and administration. However, he hopes to be a catalyst to foster a better relationship between the two bodies. “I’m only one person, but I know I will do what I can,” he said. “We need to get both sides together.
Then Mr. Schwebke asked Mayor Godfrey for his views on the matter. And Hizzonah offered this:
Mayor Matthew Godfrey said he’s encouraged that Johnson and Gochnour want to engage in open communication. He hopes other council members, particularly
Dorrene Jeske and Amy Wicks, the council’s vice chairwoman who was elected to
another term last month, will follow suit.

Godfrey said Wicks and Jeske have refused to meet with him individually to voice concerns, but have repeatedly taken his administration to task for being uncooperative and secretive.

“It’s tough when you have that kind of situation,” said Godfrey, who won re-election to a third term last month by defeating challenger City Councilwoman Susan Van Hooser. “I can’t force them to communicate with me.”

Thus signaling his willingness to try to mend fences and create a more cooperative relationship with the Council by promptly attacking two of the City Council members [one week after telling the Std-Ex that Council Chair, a third member, was lying about a private conversation he'd had with the Mayor]. One sentence stating his hopes for a better relationship, followed by an immediate attack on Council members who had the effrontery to disagree with him and to say so publicly.

And the beat goes on... .

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Weber County and the Powder Mountain Rezone

A project which will have profound effects upon all Weber County citizens

By Larry Zini

The current rezone petition for Powder Mountain if passed, will have a profound effect not only for the residents of Ogden Valley, but all Weber County residents who use the Valley and its surrounding mountains or waterways for recreation.

Traffic studies submitted by Powder Mountain admit to an increase of over 8 (eight) times the amount of vehicles that must flow through Ogden Valley and up the single Powder Mountain road to the proposed resort.

The buildings (units) will increase from less than 1500 units (if developed under the existing zoning) to over 2400 units in Weber County alone. Add to that, 900 units are proposed on the Cache County side of the development. Vehicle traffic including all construction vehicles for both county locations (Weber and Cache), for the entire 3300 units, will have to pass through Ogden Valley for the next several years.

This rezone issue is now before the Ogden Valley Planning Commission, and will inevitably move to the Weber County Commission for final approval. We urge the citizens of Weber County to contact the Weber County Commissioners via e-mail, regular mail, or telephone and express your feelings about the rezone and the impact on Ogden Valley and on all citizens that use the Valley facilities.

The Valley Citizens for Responsible Development (VCRD) is on record in opposition to this rezone. We believe the Powder Mountain owners should use the existing zoning for this development.

Below are the e-mail and telephone numbers for the Weber County Commissioners. Please include the clerk’s address in your e-mail. Regular mail may be sent to the Weber County Commission at 2380 Washington Blvd Ogden, UT 84401.

Bischoff, Ken - 801-399-8401 -
Dearden, Craig - 801-399-8401 -
Zogmaister, Jan - 801-399-8401 -
Halacy, Shelly after 9 a.m. - 801-399-8401 -

Zini, VCRD chairman, is a retired resident of Ogden Valley. Mr. Zini also recently authored another article on this topic, which was published as a guest commentary in the Standard-Examiner on November 17, 2007.

Update 12/2/07 8:03 a.m. MT: We put the spotlight this morning on Charles Trentleman's Wasatch Rambler column, wherein our very most favorite worldly-wise Std-Ex commentator examines the inevitable downside of unbridled "progress." Among other things, Trentleman devotes some ink to the Powder Mountain development dilemma, under the cannily accurate headline, "We have to destroy this view in order to develop it."

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