Saturday, March 31, 2007

SE Gives 2006 "Golden Eyeshade Awards"

Updated with Saturday's Utah Press Association top awards

By Curmudgeon

Assistant Managing Editor Dave Greiling's Saturday column reports this morning on three winners of excellence awards at the Standard Examiner. The prizes are given by the paper's editors to "to recognize top performers in the newsroom for 2006."

The three award winners were copy editor Laura Withers, police beat reporter Jordan Muhlestein, and [the award probably of most interest to WCF readers], City Hall reporter Scott Schwebke. While praising Mr. Schwebke as a "tenacious" reporter, Editor Greiling added this:

Early in my reporting career, I covered an embattled school district and took criticism from both sides. An editor told me that since I was getting shot at by both sides, I was probably in the middle — right where a reporter should be. Scott has experienced some of that this year, in covering city hall....
Leaving aside for the moment Mr. Greiling's debatable characterization of Mr. Schwebke as "tenacious," I'd like to focus on the claim that if a reporter is catching hell from both sides of a public issue, he must be doing his job well. It's a common claim by newspaper people, particularly editors and reporters. I've heard it now from two editors at the SE and from the usually perceptive columnist Charles Trentelman. And as I recall it is repeated endlessly by J-school faculty.

Is it true? Or is it just one of those self-satisfying bromides news people like to tell themselves by way of patting themselves on the back when they get complaints?

I suspect it's the latter. Let's look at the possibilities. If a reporter is catching hell "from both sides" covering a controversial issue there are at least three possibilities: (a) he is covering the matter well, but extremists on both sides of the issue are angry that the reporter is not siding with them, slanting his stories their way. (b) he is doing such a bad job of reporting the story that both sides are critical of the shoddy work (c) his work is slanted in one direction, so that reasonable people on the other side complain about the poor work, while zealots and extremists on the other side are still unhappy that it's not slanted enough in their direction.

I can understand why people in the news business like Assistant Managing Editor Greiling, and Managing Editor Andy Howell, and even Columnist Trentelman [and an endless number of reporters under fire] prefer version (a) and keep telling each other reporters must be doing something right if both sides are unhappy, but neither logic [nor I think the evidence] sustains their self-congratulatory back-patting preference for option (a).

I can also understand why the editors might feel some obligation to rally round their reporter. Standing by your people is, on the whole, an admirable quality in management. However, another goal of the editorial staff, it seems to me, ought to be encouraging excellence in the newsroom. Repeating bromides of doubtful validity and rewarding so-so work does not seem to me to be the way to raise the level of excellence at the SE, the way to make the paper's news columns better than they are and as good as they should be.

And what think our gentle readers about this?

Update 4/1/07 1:58 p.m. MT: Speaking of awards, The Salt Lake Tribune received the General Excellence Award from the Utah Press Association at the organization's annual banquet in St. George on Saturday. The newspaper also took first-place awards in investigative reporting, spot news coverage, general news reporting, feature reporting, sports column, sports reporting, news photography, feature photography and best front page.

No mention of the Standard-Examiner.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Notice to Residents of the Mt. Ogden Community

Join in on the robust comments discussion below, which has once again morphed - like clockwork -- well beyond the original suggested topic

Warning to Residents of the Mt. Ogden Community:

The current draft of the Mt. Ogden Community Plan is posted here. We urge you to read it and submit your comments to the Planning Commission, and/or attend the hearing this coming Wednesday, April 4.

We thank you for your attention to this matter.

This thread is also open for your comments and discussion on this very important topic.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Cornucopia of Good Stuff

This morning's Standard-Examiner is a virtual cornucopia of Weber County Forum-relevant material. Four articles caught our attention this a.m.:

Utah real estate is booming, according to this Jeff Demoss headline story, notwithstanding the complete absence of Utah urban gondolas. What a surprise! Perhaps one of our resident Gondola Cult readers will write in, and explain this inexplicable turn of events.

After a three-month vacancy in the Emerald City Human Resources Department directorship office, a very well-qualified replacement has been retained by the city, according to this Scott Schwebke article. Our advice to Ms. Choate: Be sure to peruse Scott Brown's personnel file for your own safety. But whatever you do, don't take it home. Boss Godfrey is just a mite touchy about that; and we wouldn't want to see our new Human Resources Director get burned.

Charlie Trentelman, a true Emerald City journalistic icon, provides a fine Std-Ex column today, reporting on a pleasant and recent dining experience at St. Anne's Shelter. How a genuine humanitarian like Mr. Trentelman stays in the employ of the Standard-Examiner remains a mystery to us. His inability to look down his nose at the unfortunates in our society must surely drive the effete publisher from Sanduskey (and some of the Std-Ex editors) completely nuts.

And for a glimpse of a truly world-class letter to the editor, don't miss this one from Emerald City's own David Smith, who makes the anti-Godfrey case with a remarkable economy of words. A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to Mr. Smith, for boiling down the whole Boss Godfrey problem in a mere six short paragraphs.

Let's hear it, gentle readers.

We eagerly await a flurry of comments from you, under an array of newly-created and clever psuedonyms.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Anonymous Posts Banned

Okay, we've had it!

Anybody who's too friggin' stupid (and/or paranoid) to hit the "nickname" button, and pick their own 'unique" handle on this blog before they post, will hereafter find their "anonymous' ID post summarily deleted.

We're finding it increasingly hard to understand people who fail or refuse to grasp this simple concept.

The multiple anonymous posts have become embarrassing here, and hopelessly confusing.

Case in point

"Anonymous" posts will now be banned - period.

WTF is wrong with you people who can't even pick your own unique ID?


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Putting Our Readers in the Driver's Seat - Updated

Two reader-submitted articles, a poll and an article update

Over the course of a typical week at Weber County Forum, we usually build up a backlog of news articles we meant to spotlight, but never got around to bringing to front-stage. This week has of course been no exception.

In that connection we thought we'd clear out our article queue this morning, and showcase a couple of articles submitted by our gentle readers. Our intelligent and thoughtful readership is one of the prime factors which has made such a success of our humble little backwater blog. So as the weekend winds to an end, we'll let a pair of our readers drive the discussion this morning.

First, we link to an article appearing in Friday's Deseret Morning News. Submitted by a reader under the clever psuedonym not because of a gondola, the article reports on three sizable companies who've recently relocated to our fair state. As our reader's "handle" slyly foretells -- strangely -- not one of them mentions gondolas.

And a second anonymous reader submits a second Deseret News article, on the topic of Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson. Mayor Anderson is of course a political lightning rod if there ever was one -- a liberal fish out of water in our oh-so-conservative state.

Toward the end of the article we find this fantastic paragraph, wherein even our own Emerald City Mayor rails against against the Salt Lake Mayor who's the favorite whipping-boy for so many Utahns.

"It's embarrassing for the rest of us; Mayor Anderson is so over the top, nobody wants to be associated with him," said Matthew R. Godfrey, mayor of the nearby city of Ogden. Godfrey said Anderson had not worked well with other mayors across the state and that his views were out of step with those of fellow Utahns.
This looks like a prime example of the pot calling the kettle black, we think. We at Weber County Forum are quite certain that our own Boss Godfrey has to be the most embarrassing mayor in the Beehive State by far.

However, in the spirit of keeping this article purely reader driven, we thought we'd try something a little different. We haven't run a poll in a while; so we're going to do one right now. And in that connection we ask a question. Of the two eccentric northern Utah Mayors who are mentioned in Friday's Deseret News article, which one is the most embarrassing -- Rocky Anderson or Matthew Godfrey?

You can vote in the poll right here; and we'll also embed a poll module in the right sidebar.

Take Our Poll!

Have fun; and don't forget to leave us your comments!

Update 3/26/07 11:57 a.m. MT: We've had some discussion in the below comments thread about Kent Jorgenson's proposed "Option 'B'." In that connection, and for our readers' information, we link here the full text of a communication we received via email from Mr. Jorgenson on May 5, 2006, in which he first sets forth his plan for an alternative to the Godfrey/Peterson Landgrab.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Signs of a Real Estate Lending Industry Meltdown?

Join in on the open-topic discussion in our lively comments thread below

The Standard-Examiner features a VERY interesting story this morning, regarding a Chapter 11 filing by U.S. Mortgage, a Las Vegas company servicing a small number of Emerald City's Homeownership Loan Program mortgage loans.
OGDEN — Twenty-six homeowners participating in a first-time loan program administered by the city are being required to temporarily make mortgage payments to the Ogden Business Information Center.

BIC is accepting mortgage payments because US Mortgage, a Las Vegas loan company that services the loans for Ogden, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, said Jeanne M. Harris, a senior project coordinator for the city.

After April 1, property owners enrolled in Ogden’s Homeownership Loan Program will submit mortgage payments to Amerinational Community Services, a Downey, Calif., company the city has contracted to service the loans.
A Zion's Bank official official, (who was apparently contacted by Ace Reporter Schwebke for a pithy quote) offers soothing reassurance to borrowers who may be affected by this development:
Rob Brough, senior vice president of marketing for Zions Bank in Salt Lake City, said he doesn’t see any “red flags” in BIC temporarily accepting mortgage payments..
Mr. Brough is no doubt right. When the smoke clears, individual borrowers have no reason for despair, so long as their own loan payments remain current.

As to the question of whether this situation is cause for the raising of "red flags," we wonder whether this development may not reflect much more serious and far-reaching problems, which Mr. Brough somehow failed to express to Mr. Schwebke.

Inadvertently or not, we believe Ace Reporter Schwebke has pulled out from bankruptcy court documents some telling information on this point:
US Mortgage President Earl Gross said in a court document that his company’s financial problems began in November 2002 after acquiring a large portfolio of loan-servicing rights from the Government National Mortgage Association, also known as Ginnie Mae.

The company discovered the loans had not been serviced according to GNMA guidelines and were in “bad condition” because documentation was incomplete or nonexistent, Gross said in the documents.

Subsequently, GNMA ordered an audit of its loans and, as a result, pulled all loan servicing from US Mortgage, he said.
Reading between the lines, what seems to have happened here is that the hapless U.S. Mortgage has been left holding the bag, with a portfolio of flaky "sub-prime" loans, in a U.S. "bubble housing market," which is now "going bust."

For those readers who don't devote much time to reading the financial pages, we helpfully link this succinct explanatory article here.

Readers looking for a more thorough explanation of the percipient problem can check out this article.

The failure of significant numbers of U.S. mortgage lenders (or loan servicing companies in the secondary mortgage market) bodes ill for real estate investors across the country. The inevitable tightening of credit which will result from this financial crisis will also inevitably deflate housing prices.

We suspect this situation is also giving that guy with the 100 recent residential property acquisitions in Ogden more than a little heartburn.

We've already had a few comments on today's Std-Ex article in the lower thread. Perhaps we'll move those comments here, and use this article to set up our weekend-kickoff open thread -- just for fun.

Comments, anyone?

Update 3/25/07 4:28 p.m. MT: Read this excellent Associated Press article on the sub-prime mortgage crisis. We tried all afternoon to link it from the Std-Ex website, which is down (again).

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Abuzz" About the Land of Oz - Twice Updated

Report of Ogden City Council Meeting, 20 March 2007
Word from a Realtor of a gondola link from Emerald City to Powder Mountain

Read Council Chair Garcia's prepared statement below

By Curmudgeon

After the usual ceremonies and housekeeping duties [flag salute; approval of minutes], the Council heard a report from the manager of the Golden Hours Center and advisory committee. It included some statistics that might be of some interest. Utah, for example, has the sixth fasted growing segment of population 65 or over among all the states. By 2007, seven Utah counties will have populations that are 15% or more 65 years old or older. Weber is one of them. The Council voted without objection to accept the Center’s report for review.

The Council then moved on to consider the second quarter Budget Report, presented by a Mr. Anderson. Generally, the news was good. Sales tax revenues are now projected to be $1,000,000 more than anticipated in the budget, and building permits are expected now to bring in $100,000 more than was originally budgeted. Most anticipated revenues [by department] are higher than expected, with a few exceptions. One is the amount expected from fines and forfeitures. That figure is currently running $100,000 lower than anticipated. Mr. Anderson attributed the shortfall to slower than anticipated ramping up of the Justice Court, and that as soon as it began operating at full capacity, he expected the shortfall to decline.

But overall, the city seems to have expended, by the end of the second quarter, less than half of its budgeted expenditures, and is looking at, overall, when it is all added up, subtracted and totaled out, an estimated $995,000 in funds in excess of the original budget.

Mr. Anderson discussed in more detail some budget lines. [He used abbreviations and acronyms with which I was not familiar. I think I got the gist of what follows right, but will be happy to be corrected if I did not.] Apparently, the sewer and utilities fees are now anticipated to bring in $350,000 more than was anticipated. Which is good, because the amount the City expected to receive as its share of BDO revenues [the city splits operating profits from BDO with Boyer Co.] is now projected to be $750,000 less than was anticipated. That money is to go to service the bonds for the Rec Center, the first payment on which will be, Mr. Anderson said, about $700,000. Mr. Safsten inquired as to why the shortfall was so large. Mr. Anderson spoke of seasonal factors, and noted that the City expected to have more firm numbers by the end of the third quarter. [I was not clear on whether the anticipated excess in revenues in the general budget could or would be used to make up the shortfall in the BDO anticipated revenues.]

Mr. Anderson also noted there were shortfalls in the budgets of the airport and golf courses, and he said the Administration was preparing a report on how to deal with them. Ms.Van Hooser asked how long the contract with Boyer providing for splitting the BDO operating profits evenly between Boyer and the City was for. Mayor Godfrey replied that it was a fifty year contract.

The Council then voted 6-0 [Mr. Garcia not present] to accept the budget for review.

Then the Council moved on to public comments. There were several.

Ms. Connie Chandler complained about the Code Enforcement office not acting on her complaints, now a year old, about a boarded up restaurant on 25th Street which she thought “is really ugly.” She complained about abandoned shopping carts around the city, the state of repair of sidewalks and gutters on 7th Street, trashy front yards, and the Code Enforcement office concentrating on alleys and ignoring tree-overhang regulations on public streets and walkways. She wanted to know when action would be taken on all the above. And she wanted to know who was responsible for maintaining approaches, curb work in “public alleys partly owned by the city and partly by private owners.” Councilwoman Wicks told Ms. Chandler that she would ask the Administration to reply at the end of the public comments period.

Next was Mr. Bill Spain, CEO of Provident Partners Realty, now a resident of Ogden. He praised the Council for its actions that had led to the “unbelievable change” he’d seen in Ogden over the past ten or twenty years. It was “incredible,” especially over the last couple of years. It’s why he moved here, and his company had already invested millions in Ogden properties. His investors had already bought in excess of 100 homes on the east bench of Ogden, which “we envision as 2nd homes for Scottsdale, AZ residents seeking relief from the heat.” He said the “potential for a world class gondola” to tie Ogden to unmatched recreational opportunities at Powder Mountain and Snow Basin” was the key element in bringing his company and its investments to Ogden. He told the Council that someone from his company would be at every council meeting “for months” to come to reinforce the importance of keeping the momentum going.

Next to speak was Robert A. Becker of Ogden. He said he was delighted that Mr. Spain’s company had come to Ogden, and was investing in Ogden. He was, he said, very happy to have Mr. Spain and his company here. But, he added, Mr. Spain seemed not to understand that the Administration proposed not one gondola for Ogden, but two, “neither of which will connect downtown Ogden with either Powder Mountain or Snow Basin.” Mr. Becker said he hoped Mr. Spain would better inform himself before he chose to address the Council again.

Next up was Ms. Sue Wilkerson, who had sent the Council a letter about the improving business and investment climate in Ogden, and she wanted to reiterate her sentiments expressed in that letter. She said the gondola was an “important component” in Ogden’s continued growth. She asked the Council to please keep and “open mind” and to “not listen to rhetoric at these meetings.” She represented, she said, a group of forward thinkers who were committed to appear at every Council meeting to make sure the true opinions of Ogden City were expressed to the Council. She noted she had bought a house on Jefferson some yeas ago when it was crime ridden and 90% not-owner occupied residences because she had “blind faith” in the Mayor’s vision. That now Jefferson Ave was in her neighborhood over 90% owner occupied and she again recommended the benefits of acting on “blind faith.”

Next up. Gary Nelson of Gold’s Gym spoke. He appreciated, he said, the pro-business attitude of some of the Council members, and he entreated the less-pro business members to call businesses moving to Ogden and tell the owners how glad they were to have them come. He noted there was much competition from surrounding towns like Syracuse to draw businesses away from Ogden, but he thought Ogden was the place to be. He invited all Council members to take a free ride on the wind tunnel in May before it formally opened.

Next, Mr. Abraham Shore [I think. Possible Shreve] was next. My apologies if I got that wrong. He thanked the Council for its work in encouraging the “great movement” in Ogden over recent years. He skis, climbs, now lives in Ogden. He is a local realtor, excited about what’s happening. That he no longer hears from potential clients “anywhere but Ogden.” There’s now “a buzz” about Ogden. He supports “what’s happening here.” This is a moment in history Ogden and the Council must seize. He likened some of the criticism [presumably of the Mayor’s various proposals, he did not specifically say which] to the criticism that surrounded the Rec Center decision. There were complaints that businesses would not come, where was Larry Miller, etc. But the businesses did come and it was, he thought, “exciting” to see the Rec Center buildings going up.

Following the end of public comments, the Mayor replied to two of Ms. Chandler’s points. He noted that the city had a “board up” ordinance, and so long as the property owner paid the proper fee, he could keep the property boarded up. The Mayor agreed it was not the best solution for the city, and he added that he was working hard to attract an investor to buy the property and “get some activity in there.” As for the maintenance of alley ways, the Mayor said the alleys were not jointly owned by the city and private owners. They were wholly owned by private owners; the city possessed only an easement. Repair and maintenance were exclusively the responsibility of the property owners.

After a brief delay during which it was impressed upon Ms. Chandler that public comments were over and she would have to take up further discussion with the Mayor at another time, several Council members commented on the proceedings of the evening. Mr. Stephenson was pleased by the positive comments of the three business owners who had spoken. Mr. Safsten was surprised, and very pleased, to learn that Ms. Wilkerson’s Jefferson Avenue neighborhood had swung from ten percent owner-occupied dwellings to ninety percent in so short a time. Mr. Stephens noted two positives from the evening: the generally optimistic report of the Golden Hours Center, and the positive comments of the business representatives who spoke.

The Council then adjourned.

Update 3/21/07 7:59 p.m. MT: The Salt Lake Tribune confirms this afternoon what most of us in the Emerald City activist community already knew or suspected: Council Chair Jesse Garcia will NOT be running for Mayor in the upcoming municipal election.

Update 3/22/07 3:35 p.m. MT: One of our gentle readers has this afternoon forwarded to us Council Chairman Garcia's eloquent and statesmanlike prepared statement, delivered at yesterday's press conference. Be sure to read it here. We are fortunate in Emerald City, we think, to have a man of Chairman Garcia's grace and quality serving us on the council. A Weber County Forum Tip o' the Hat goes to Councilman Garcia this afternoon!

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Pean of Love to Blessed Boss Godfrey

Sanduskey Std-Ex Publisher gives Boss Godfrey a giant public smooch

For a good laugh, don't miss this morning's Standard-Examiner editorial, an unabashed and romantic pean to Blessed Boss Godfrey. "Prickly character" though he is, the Standard-Examiner plainly loves him, and will continue to do so, until he's unceremoniously ushered out of office by the taxpayer-citizens, in January of 2008.

We say January of 2008 can't come soon enough.

A few select quotes from today's editorial:
The mayor's a prickly character, not much given to smooth public relations.
He doesn't seem to mind a fight, and has stood toe-to-toe with critics too many times to recall.
Godfrey's critics and opponents, of course, are the citizens of Emerald City, the very same folks Boss Godfrey was elected to represent.
It's true this newspaper's editorial board has disagreed bitterly on some occasions with the way Godfrey has gone about his job.
The editorial board has disagreed bitterly? We don't recall that ever having happened even once. Perhaps our gentle readers can help us out on this.
By way of that aggressiveness -- so unusual in some politicians who crave respect and admiration -- Godfrey has achieved quantifiable triumphs in the city's attempts to revitalize and re-brand itself.
Translation: Godfrey has a public be damned attitude. He simply doesn't care what the lumpentownsfolke think; and neither does the Standard-Examiner. As for the "quantifiable triumphs," the jury remains out. After seven years, Godfrey has yet to show one project of his that runs cash flow positive. And of course there's that mountain of public debt that he's "created."
Is Ogden there yet? Well, we're not sure where "there" would be, since success ought to be measured on a continuum and constantly compared against progress or setbacks in the city's many spheres of responsibility -- taxation, fiscal management, maintenance of infrastructure, social well-being, etc. But the Junction City one sees now is indisputably better off than it was a decade ago, and part of the credit for that progress can be given to Godfrey's administrative team.
We suggest Emerald City won't "be there," until the city's credit is completely maxed-out, and every free-and-clear City and RDA property has been either sold at bargain-basement prices to Godfrey cronies -- or hocked. Our precious Mt. Ogden Parklands hasn't been yet transferred to Boss Godfrey's crony Peterson, however. Perhaps we can use that as the benchmark to tell when we've arrived "there."

Aside from the few remaining twisted folks of the Emerald City Gondola Cult, the Standard-Examiner remains the sole voice in Emerald City still able to hold its nose and slavishly sing praise of the Tyrannical Boss.

And for those who think Boss Godfrey doesn't play the public relations "game," check out this morning's dandy Blake Fowers letter, straight from the Boss Godfrey Campaign Form Letter Mill.

Comments, anyone?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Note to Disenfranchised Utah Taxpayers and Voters

By Dorothy Littrell

You have an opportunity to help reclaim our right to vote on two very expensive and important bills that have been signed into law without voter input.

The Soccer Stadium petition is now in Ogden at Ye Olde Salt Bike Shop, 105 25th Street, Ogden, to sign to bring the Soccer Stadium in Sandy before Utah taxpayers for their vote on the issue..

This is not just a Sandy issue because all Utahns will be paying for this stadium that Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Coroon and his financial experts determined was not financially viable. And we all heard that Governor Huntsman's wife decided that we needed the stadium.

Also, if you want an opportunity to get to vote on the School Voucher law that Huntsman just signed into law you can get information online at

There is a deadline on both these petitions so if you want to claim your right to vote on these issues please sign a petition immediately.

Whether you are for against either of these bills that Governor Huntsman signed into law the real issue is that our right to vote as taxpayers has been taken from us and this is a demand to have that constitutional right returned.

It is most disheartening to have to petition Utah Governor Huntsman for that right to be to be returned.

Thanks for your help!

-Dorothy Littrell

Update 3/17/07 4:15 p.m. MT: We have learned from one of our intrepid east bench gentle readers that Weber County lumpencitizens interested in overturning the legislature's School Voucher Law/Private School Handout can affix their signatures to the "Voucher Petition" by calling here: Deborah: 393-1379.

Please do this well prior to March 19, 2007 @ 6:00 p.m., which is the official petition deadline.

The timeline is very short!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Spotlight on Two Excellent Std-Ex Articles

St. Paddy's weekend open thread

The battle against government doing its business in the shadows is relentless and never-ending. We will continue to fight for your right to know, but we need your help to win. Make sure your candidates for office know that open government is high on your list of priorities.

Eliminate Government Secrecy
March 15, 2007

As regular readers already know, we at Weber County Forum often fundamentally differ in editorial philosophy with the Standard-Examiner publisher on numerous issues which directly effect our community.

Whereas the Std-Ex is generally a strong proponent of a preponderantly strong mayor in our city government, we strenuously argue for the vigorous exercise by our city council of its coequal legislative authority, as a check and balance against executive excesses. Whereas the Std-Ex is a staunch proponent of gondolas and gondola-related landgrabs, we argue that such schemes are financially imprudent, contrary to the public interest -- and in the case of flatland gondolas -- flat out silly. And so on.

There is however one circumstance in which we do march in lockstep with the Std-Ex's editorial position. When it comes to elimination of secrecy in government, we are 100% with the Standard-Examiner.

Read today's excellent Std-Ex editorial on the subject. We wholeheartedly agree with its every word.

We would also like to highlight this top-notch guest commentary, also appearing on today's Std-Ex opinion pages. WSU adjunct history professor Robert A. Becker adeptly rebuts and dismantles David D. Griffith's earlier opinion page screed. So excellent is Professor Becker's article, it looks like something which could have been yanked straight from one of our own Weber County Forum pages.

Comments, anyone?

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Update 3/16/07 8:57 a.m.: We've scoured today's news for Weber County Forum relevant articles and came up dry. We thus invite our readers to treat this as an open thread, and open their own "pet topics."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wednesday Morning Tidbits

By Curmudgeon

Two interesting items in this morning's Standard-Examiner:

First, a good editorial on mudslinging, focusing mostly on Mr. Brown's unfortunate and intemperate tirade at last weeks Council meeting.

Less fortunate, a story about an Ogden businessman named David Pieser who has written to the head of Amer Sports [who I understand recently moved to Ogden] threatening to organize a boycott against Amer and its products if its North American Division head continues to support [as he says he does] "the concept" of the gondola.

I do not know Mr. Pieser and I share his concerns about the Mayor's risky gondola/gondola plan. But I think his attempt to coerce Amer Sports North American Division head, Mr. Mike Dowse, to abandon his tepid pro-gondola stance [note he endorsed not the Mayor's scheme for a flatland gondola and sale of the Mt. Ogden Parklands; he endorsed only "the concept of the gondola" -- which could easily include support of only a privately owned and operated gondola from the head of 36th Street to Malan's Basin should the city [wisely] endorse that].

Mr. Pieser's boycott plan is, I think, unfortunate in two ways: (a) first, Mr. Dowse is now an Ogdenite [welcome, Mr. Dowse. I think you'll like it here. I do.] and so he has, by right of moving here, now the same right to enter the public discussion of the various gondola plans as I do. Or Mr. Pieser does. And without having his business threatened because he might not agree with me [or Mr. Pieser] on what is best to be done. And (b) no boycott Ogdenites might organize could, I think, possibly so affect Amer's sales as to have a hope of succeeding.

Mr. Dowse is now one of us, fully entitled to enter the lists on matters of public discussion on any side he chooses. Welcome aboard, Mr. Dowse, and if you'd like to sit down over a cup of coffee [or some Roosters microbrew perhaps] some afternoon and discuss "the concept of the gondola" and what you mean by that, and what the gondola might mean for Ogden's residents, of which you are now one.... well, I'm buying.

I was happy about one thing the Pieser article did, though. It makes it clear that not all Ogden businessmen are in the Gondolistas' camp. But I think it's wrong to threaten a man's business for his personal stands on public issues as a citizen of Ogden. As wrong, and for the same reason, as say a Mayor threatening the job of a city employee who disagrees with him on a matter of public policy.

Ed. Note: Among other things, Mr. Pieser mentions the possibility of establishing a blog, to inform the lumpencitizens of Emerald City of the defects in the landgrab/gondola scheme. What a great idea, we say. We wonder why somebody hasn't thought of that before? ;-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Godfrey Administration Turns Up The Police-State Heat

Suggestion of additional Scott Brown improprieties

Today's Salt Lake Tribune story confirms that the Godfrey administration is attempting to turn up the heat on former Emerald City Human Resources Director Dean Martinez, who first blew the public whistle on Business Development Manager Scott Brown.

OGDEN - Ogden police are investigating whether the city's former human resources manager, Dean Martinez, stole the city's personnel file on Scott Brown, the business development manager.

The investigation - based on a complaint by Brown - will be conducted by Detective Rick Childress, Lt. Tony Fox said Monday.

Brown did not return calls to his office and cell phone on Monday.

Martinez acknowledged taking Brown's personnel file to his home, but said he was within his rights because Ogden managers frequently take work home.

Martinez was fired in December, the same week that city attorney Gary Williams retrieved Brown's file from Martinez's home in Roy.

City officials said Martinez was fired for taking city property - Brown's file - and for dishonesty, but Martinez claimed he was fired because he was about to blow the whistle on Mayor Matthew Godfrey's tolerance of alleged misbehavior by Brown.

Martinez previously told The Salt Lake Tribune that he had learned in his two years at the city that pornography allegedly had been found on Brown's computer and that Brown had been accused several times over the years of sexually harassing female employees and verbally abusing subordinates.

Rather than discipline or fire Brown, Martinez said, Ogden administrators rewarded him. City officials, including Williams, have refused to discuss the allegations because they involve personnel matters.
Whistleblowers like Mr. Martinez have a tough time of it in our Brave New MattGodfreyWorld, where Boss Godfrey rules with a fist of iron. If any of our gentle readers are doubtful about this, simply ask Matt Jones about it.

And buried midway through Reporter Kristen Moulton's article we find these very interesting revelations:

"Martinez previously told The Salt Lake Tribune that he had learned in his two years at the city that pornography allegedly had been found on Brown's computer and that Brown had been accused several times over the years of sexually harassing female employees and verbally abusing subordinates;"


"Three former Brown subordinates contacted by the Tribune in January substantiated Martinez's allegations about Brown's behavior toward them."
Whereas it had been previously reported by the Standard-Examiner that Mr. Brown had been involved in a only single sexual harassment complaint, today's Kristen Moulton article suggests multiple such alleged offenses, possibly as many as three.

This new information of course corroborates the most recent Dean Martinez statement, which we posted here yesterday.

It was a nice news lull, while it lasted.

Let's hear from our gentle readers.

Update 3/13/07 1:23 p.m. MT: Per the request of Gentle Reader Marv, we link here two articles from this morning's Standard-Examiner, which pertain to Emerald City politics:

Utah may loosen restrictions - Ogden was example of how eminent domain shouldn’t be used

Ogden councilman denies allegations of dirty politics

Have at it, outta town readers.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Break From The Mudslinging At Last

By Curmudgeon

This morning, at last, the SE takes a welcome break from featuring mudslinging by Godfrey Administration officials and runs on its front page a story about Ogden's becoming increasingly a "hot" outdoors activities destination. Travel magazines, ski magazines, outdoors magazines running features on Ogden praising is proximity to first class outdoor sports [rock climbing, skiing, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking], the charm of its downtown shops, restaurants and gallaries and more.

What's very interesting is that all the "buzz" is about what Ogden has to offer now, about businesses that have come here now, about travel writers recommending Ogden as a good place to visit now. This is very puzzling, since as we all know there is no flatland gondola to whisk tourists over city streets to WSU, where no gondola waits to take them to Malan's Basin where no mini-ski resort is to receive them. How strange....

Mayor Godfrey is to be congratulated for his successful efforts to market Ogden as an outdoor recreation mecca [and I've congratulated him for that, here, on several occasions]. Now if we can just prevent him from ruining what he's begun by selling off the City's prime close in biking, hiking and golf land in and above Mt. Ogden Park and filling the space with up to six hundred vacation villas in a gated community, and funneling 35 to 50 million dollars or more into a flatland gondola that even the Boomer Ogden Weber Chamber of Commerce didn't include as a transportation option in its presentation to the City Council this week, Ogden may really take off.

There is one other problem, of course. Godfrey administration officials like his Chief Administrative Officer John Patterson running down the city in the press. Sort of reminds me of Mayor Godfrey telling reporters that Mt. Ogden Golf Course [recently named by a national golf magazine one of the nation's best courses to play] was not golfer-friendly, and then, after widespread coverage of his remarks, his complaining that not enough people played it. Why, that would be like the Mayor complaining that Ogden's highly successful Summer Festival was not family friendly, and drew all kinds of undesirables to the city, and then complaining that so few people came to his reformed Summer Festival that the City had to abandon holding it at all. Oh, wait. He did do that.

Charles Trentelman has an interesting column this morning taking Godfrey's Chief Administrative Officer, John Patterson, to task for dissing downtown Ogden. The headline in "OGDEN OFFICIAL OUT OF LINE FOR TALKING DOWN ON OGDEN." Pretty accurate I thought.

Here's the money quote:
I went to the model train show at Union Station last weekend. So, I would guess, did most of the Top of Utah.

Downtown was jammed. Business was booming and I thought, “Wow, what a cool place my town is.” I even bought a train.

Then I opened my paper Tuesday and saw where John Patterson, Ogden’s chief administrative officer, says my town is a dump.

He didn’t use the word “dump” but all he talked about were public urination, people bathing in public fountains, aggressive panhandling and weird-looking people scaring normal folk.

None of which I ever see. True, I only get downtown once a day or so.
Trentelman notes that Patterson has only lived here four years and so perhaps does not appreciate how nice a place downtown Ogden has become from what it once was. How nice is it now, Trentelman asks?
On March 1, Frommer’s travel web site put up a glowing review of Ogden. Author Jennifer Reilly spent three days here and filled four pages talking about central Ogden’s many art venues, restaurants, museums, the Egyptian Theater, the antique shops, the world class skiing, and so on.

Did she see anyone pee in downtown Ogden? She didn’t mention any.

Good thing she didn’t see John’s column, or she might have stayed
It's an interesting paper this morning, and one you can read without needing to take a shower afterward. And don't miss the kick-ass photo on page one. Really fine work.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The 2007 Mayoral Election Campaign Slimes Up - Updated

Boss Godfrey's political slime machine oozes on

In an apparent portent of things to come, as Emerald City lurches toward the 2007 municipal elections, we find two more pro-Godfrey slime pieces in this morning's Standard-Examiner.

In this front-page Ace Reporter Schwebke story, another slavish Godfrey underling unleashes some serious accusations:

OGDEN — A second highranking manager in the Ogden city administration says he was asked to support a mayoral bid by City Council Chairman Jesse Garcia and feared he could be fired under a new administration if he declined.

Risk Management Manager Ron Ball made the claim in a memo sent to the city council Thursday.

The accusation is "bribery," to be specific. That's right. The most mild-mannered and gentle soul on the entire city council is being accused, on purely hearsay evidence, of behaving like an evil Godfreyite. One of our gentle readers has provided us a copy of the above referenced memo; and we duly link it here, for our readers' amazement.

And then at the top of Std-Ex section "C" we get the latest low-down on Business Development Manager Scott Brown, who continues to demonstrate symptoms of total melt-down. Scott has how called the cops, according to this morning's story. No; we are not making this up.

We'll skip the microanalysis and put this article up on today's WCF front page right now, as a kick-off to a weekend open thread. Our protective HAZ-"MATT" anti-slime suit is still at the cleaners; and we don't want to get Godfrey Goo all over us.

Perhaps our gentle readers will be able to explain the true meaning of all this.

Update 3/10/07 4:45 p.m. MT: Our insider snitch at city hall confirms the predictions of yesterday's Standard-Examiner editorial, and furnishes us the latest heretofore-secret design photos of Chris Peterson's most recently pared-down urban Whac-a-Mol Bike-ola:


Update 3/12/07 8:57 p.m. MT: Former Emerald City Human Resources Director Dean Martinez forwards to us a letter transmitted to Scott Schwebke on March 11, responding to the series of recent Standard-Examiner articles slamming Councilman Garcia and others. We provide our readers an archived copy here, per Mr. Martinez's request.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A Trio of Interesting Items

We're greeted by two items particularly worthy of our Weber County Forum attention in this morning's Standard-Examiner.

First, we find a guest commentary by one David D. Griffiths, alleging, among other things, that the now notorious Bootjack stealth transaction had actually been conducted under some sort of informal bidding process. Surely as the night follows the day, it was predictable that the administration would drag some poor soul out of the woodwork to claim (cross his heart) that he had been a low bidder prior to Chris Peterson's secret acquisition. Well... David Griffiths is that guy:

The city needed to come up with some additional funds to pay for the parking plaza in The Junction development on the old mall site. Part of the plan to raise these funds, approved by the RDA Board, was to sell some excess RDA properties. Properties are considered excess if they have no planned current or future use by the city or the RDA. The property in question is about one acre located between 21st and 22nd streets on the west of Wall Avenue. The RDA Board was asked to approve the sale of this property to an entity by the name of Bootjack LLC for fair market value to be determined by an independent appraisal. The board unanimously approved the transaction. I wanted to buy the same property, but was only willing to pay $240,000.
But Mr. Griffiths does not stop there. The rest of Mr. Griffiths' article spirals into yet another lame Std-Ex anti Garcia/Wicks/Jeske broadside, (the third of these within a week's time,) accusing these three members of the RDA board of playing politics. Rather than recognizing that the ENTIRE RDA board's recent foray into sound business practices is a good thing, designed to ferret out insider transactions and assure disposition of RDA properties at the highest possible price, Mr. Griffiths amazingly characterises the new RDA policy, requiring full disclosure of purchaser identify and intended use, as political gamesmanship.

We'll note in passing, by the way, that we spoke with a gentleman yesterday, who informed us that he had made a backup offer to the Emerald City Economic Development Department, for the subject Bloom Recycling properties, at a cash price well in excess of the $270,000 price embodied in Chris Peterson's option contract. He indicated he would have readily made a similar offer prior to the grant of the option to Mr. Peterson, had he been aware that the property was available for purchase. There really is no telling, of course, just how much the Bloom properties might have fetched, had the properties been properly placed on the open market.

Secondly, we find this strange Scott Schwebke "expose/confession," in which the beleaguered Emerald City Business Development Scott Brown bares his soul, and inexplicably plasters certain recent "job related allegations of impropriety" all over the Standard-Examiner front page.

And for readers who've been carefully following developments in the Emerald City Planning Commission, in connection with the ongoing Mixed Use ordinance topic, gentle reader Ogden iii provides a brief summary of last nights' Planning Commission action.

The floor is open. Avid readers all over the blogosphere eagerly await the latest thoughts and comments of our gentle readers.

Have at it.

Update 3/8/07 10:30 a.m. MT: We have just received word, and are pleased to announce that one of our very favorite sites -- Grift Ogden --- is back for its second season. Be sure to check it out. You''ll also find a link in our right sidebar.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Turn Out the Lights; the Party's Over

Events of the past several days seem not to be working out well for our Emerald City Gondolist Cult. Their grand schemes are suddenly toppling around their gondolist feet.

One of our gentle readers posted a link to this Kristen Moulton story yesterday, reporting that "Weber State University has every reason to say NO to Chris Peterson & Co., and their "plan" to acquire "the large swath of undeveloped land above the WSU campus":

"Why would they give up their property, which is extremely vital for future expansion?" said Richard Kendell, Utah's commissioner of higher education, after
meeting with the WSU Board of Trustees"
Excellent question say we. This is also a question many citizens in the Emerald City community have been asking -- rather incessantly too.

This morning's Standard-Examiner edition follows up yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune story with an Amy Stewart and Scott Schwebke one-two punch. "Gondola plan in jeopardy" blares today's main front page headline. Through the miracle of the electronic on-line medium, our gentle readers can read these two stories just below:

WSU trustees add key parcel to master plan

City leaders, proposal followers wonder if university is ‘posturing’

Curiously, Boss Godfrey refuses to see the writing on the wall, and speculates that the University may be merely "posturing." Posturing is of course something Boss Godfrey knows very much about; but this time we think Boss Godfrey is more wrong than usual. Living as he does in his "visionary" world of alternate reality, we think he's missed something of obvious importance:

Barney Chapman, vice chairman of the Weber State Board of Trustees, said the university would review a proposal from Peterson but likely won’t sell the property.

Our intent is to keep the property,” he said. “We want to make sure that we do what’s best for the students and the university.”
While we realize that our lovable Emerald City Gondolists will be scurrying around, trying to spin something "positive" about these latest developments, we think one thing has now become crystal clear. And we want to be the first to publicly make the call:

Turn out the lights!

The party's over!

Let's move on to making our community a better place to live, sans the gated community and rinky-dink amusement park gimmicks. We've wasted far too much citizen time and public money on this already. Time for the Gondolists to take a dose of reality, we say. Time for Boss Godfrey to call it "quits."

And what say our gentle readers? Could it be that Boss Godfrey and Chris Peterson have another card or two up their sleeves -- or is our gondolist nightmare effectively over?

Chime in please, O gentle readers.

Update 3/8/07 8:27 p.m. MT: The Jackson Hole Star-Tribune gets it right here: College nixes gondolas. Query When will the Geigers, Godfreys and other delusional Gondolists ever seek professional help and get the message? Psychotic delusion is a serious and dangerous symptom. We advise the three G's to immediately consult the mental health professional of their choice.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Fireworks in Our Emerald City Council Chambers

RDA Board tightens reins on Boss Godfrey; Scott Brown blows a head gasket

By Curmudgeon

The Council meeting began with the Council unanimously passing a resolution recognizing the heroism of Office Kenneth Hammond and his wife, Sarita Hammond, for their actions on the night of the Trolley Square shootings. The Council then unanimously passed a resolution honoring Officer Eric Young for risking his life to enter a burning building in an attempt to save a child within. Both officers received standing ovations by the Council and audience present.

The Council then without dissent approved extending the sunset provision for the Urban Forestry Committee to June, 2009. And it unanimously approved a budget resolution that re-allocated some budget items. The largest involved a $14,000,000 expenditure for capital improvements at BDO. Councilman Stephenson noted that that money must be spent on capital improvements at BDO in accord with the City’s contract with the US Army. All the resolution will do is arrange to have it spent this year, instead of next. Once it is spent, Ogden will have fulfilled its contractual obligations to the army. Important to approve now so construction can take advantage of the building season about to begin. Other elements dealt with parking at the airport to accommodate pending operation of a commuter air service there, some improvements to the railroad center downtown, and other small projects. The motion to approve was passed without objection.

Chairman Garcia then opened the meeting for public comments and things got very interesting very fast...

Read the rest of Curmudgeon's detailed report here, and then return hither with your own gentle comments.

Update 3/7/07 7:50 a.m. MT: Both The Standard-Examiner and the Salt Lake Tribune feature write-ups of last night's Scott Brown public meltdown. Boss Godfrey of course denies he put poor old Scott up to last night's bizarre outburst. In context, this is the second no-holds-barred public rant by a Boss Godfrey sycophant within the past week , and we wonder whether we may be getting an early preview of Boss Godfrey's crazed 2007 campaign strategy. Boss Godfrey's minions seem to have fallen into a siege mentality; and are lashing out like cornered wild animals, we think. Pull up your barca-loungers and grab your popcorn, gentle readers; and watch the Boss Godfrey Administration continue to self-destruct.

An Encouraging Sign - UPDATED

Possible evidence the Boss Godfrey administration may actually be learning-capable

By Curmudgeon

Let me call attention to a long op-ed piece in this morning's Standard Examiner by Mr. John Patterson of the Godfrey administration.

It's a plea for moving the St. Anne's Center to a larger facility on 12th Street, as part of a six acre "campus" designed to house a variety of services for the homeless by other providers. Mr. Patterson is to be congratulated for laying the city's case [and I presume he speaks here for the Godfrey administration] for moving the St. Anne's Center out fully and openly. He talks about not only the desire to provide better services for the homeless, but the desire of some groups to have problems associated with the homeless congregating downtown [like pan-handling which reportedly creates problems for conventions and meetings coming to Ogden] removed to another part of the city.

We can now, at last, start to have the public discussion we should have when all this first surfaced in the papers, and when Administration spokespersons were denying that getting the homeless away from the developing business district downtown had anything to do with the idea of moving St. Anne's. It would have been better had the full case, all reasons, motives, etc. been laid upon the public table right off, but it's good now that a Godfrey administration spokesman has finally done it.

Of course, what Mr. Patterson does not mention is his having informed the City Council that the St. Anne's management was all for the move, which it turned out it was not. Let's hope the Administration has learned not only how important it is on matters of importance to fully disclose and fully inform the public of what is being advocated and why, but that it has learned to take care to make sure the information it passes on to other branches of the city government is accurate.

Mr. Patterson's op-ed piece is an encouraging sign that maybe, just maybe, the Godfrey administration is capable of learning. We can only hope that more evidence that it is will appear soon.

Update 3/6/07 2:30 p.m.: We hereby incorporate the pertinent part of a very important comment from the lower comments thread per Dan S.:

Off-thread breaking news: The Salt Lake Tribune
that WSU now has "every reason to say no" to Chris
Don't let the cat get yer tongues.

Monday, March 05, 2007

More Evidence of a Small-business Unfriendly Emerald City Administration

Boss Godfrey sticks it to another non-FOM* again

By Michael Moyal

My partner and I are concerned that selective discrimination and arbitrary enforcement pertaining to the Ogden City ordinances have been used against us for the sole purpose of removing our land use rights, our right to conduct a legitimate business in the City of Ogden, and have seriously infringed on our Civil Rights as American Residents and Citizens.

The property at issue is the Ogden River Inn and vacant restaurant building. On November 6th, 2006 we purchased the property containing a business and buildings located at 1825 and 1839 Washington Blvd in Ogden along the Ogden River. Prior to purchasing I made inquiries with the Ogden City Redevelopment agency, who informed me that they not only didn’t have an option on the property, but also didn’t have the money for the rest of the project, and most likely wouldn’t have it for years, considering 24th Street and Washington was their priority. They all wished me the best of luck with my acquisition. My intention was to buy the buildings, get a new business license to operate the Motel, and another new business license to open the restaurant building (which has been vacant for years), as the first Indian restaurant in the City.

In late October the City Planners office directed me to file a petition to rezone the property. On November 1st, I went before the City Planning Commission to inform them of my intention to rezone the restaurant land in order to be able to sell alcohol. I was told that wine and beer sales would be allowed with a provisional use permit and was asked to work with the city planner’s office to get a provisional use permit. I was then told that alcohol sales would likely be rejected and my petition to rezone was “tabled” until the December Planning commission meeting to give me time to work out the details with Ogden City planning division. I went along with their recommendation and on November 27th we submitted a formal site plan to scale, North, South, East, and West elevations and artist renderings of the restaurant site, conforming to the spirit of the Ogden River Redevelopment Project. John Mayer from the City planner’s office told me considering everything was moving ahead with my site plan, Greg Montgomery had asked that I withdraw my petition to rezone the property. John Mayer drafted a letter, I signed it and Mr. Montgomery submitted it to the city recorders office. (Mr. Montgomery, City Planning Division Manager once told me that the only acceptable use for my buildings was to demolish them)

Two (2) days later on November 29th, we received a “Motel Business License Denial letter” based on alleged poor business practices by the Motel’s previous owners specifying business dates from January 1st 2004 to September 30th 2006, all prior to our ownership. We appealed the business license denial the same day and our hearing was set for December 7th 2006, one month after starting our new business. My partner and I along with a couple character witnesses attended the appeal hearing to strongly object the City’s decision.

On December 13th, my partner and I met with Mayor Godfrey of Ogden to discuss openly our business intentions and concerns. Although he appeared to be understanding and after he explained his obligations toward the City and his developer/investors, he stated “you should have expected to pay for the previous owner’s sins!” I strongly disagreed and our meeting was concluded. About a week later, we received an official letter allowing us a “6 month probationary business license”, to clean up the property. Actually, all the code violations given to the previous owner (abandoned/unlicensed vehicles, violations of 90 day ordinance, etc…) had all been addressed and resolved in the first week of our ownership, and the City had so been advised.

On December 15th we received a letter dated December 13th from John Mayer at the city planner’s office informing us of the various conditions to meet in order to proceed with our restaurant site plan. Once the city planner came to review the parking and landscape requirements that we could have easily accomplished, we were made aware of a new, temporary ordinance, a moritorium dated December 19th that denied any new site plan approvals, provisional use permits and building permits for 6 months.

On January 2nd, my partner and I attended the City council meeting and regardless of our objections to the proposed ordinance preventing the improvement of our property (from 18th to 20th, Washington to Wall); and our requests for the building permit required to improve our restaurant building, the ordinance was passed.

Also on January 2nd, my electrical contractor was issued a building permit for the purpose of getting electrical service to our restaurant, now to be an unimproved building with no riverside deck and without the new stucco facade.

On January 3rd, I was contacted by John Patterson from the mayor’s office and asked to meet on January 4th in his office. My partner and I, our attorney, John Patterson, the city attorney, and Scott Brown the River Redevelopment Manager were present for this meeting. In the course of the meeting, many issues were raised and we re-expressed our interest and willingness to consider any options that may help the city with their river planed visions. The City attorney (who once told me that upgrading my buildings would be like “putting lipstick on a pig”) at that time informed us that due to the new ordinance, our only legal use for our restaurant building was as “a vacant and abandoned building”.

Mr. Godfrey had told us that the City of Ogden had planned to lock out the previous motel owners about 8 months ago, but he was advised by the city attorney that the ordinance needed to be revised before such an action could be legal. We are now faced with the very threatening possibility that our entire business operation will be “locked out” within six months, according to the City’s revised “lock out ordinance”. This will leave us with more abandoned/vacant buildings, and no other option but to give in to the City’s arbitrary wishes.

Ogden has either through gross negligence or concerted efforts orchestrated events which have effectively denied us the reasonable economic use of our property and placed our capital at risk. The City’s scheme has denied us the right to use and develop our property with the apparent reason being to enhance some undefined future plan for the area. We followed instructions given to us, which have resulted in denials and delays, and which have effectively denied us due process.

The foregoing article is the full version of this letter, which was edited by the author and published in today's Standard-Examiner letters section. Readers who would like to contact Mr. Moyal for further information may do so through the following link: Weber County Forum Blogmeister

*FOM: Friend of Matt (Godfrey)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Community Meeting Heads-up

Two important dates for Emerald City political wonks

There are a couple of community/governmental events coming up this week, which ought to be of special interest our gentle readers; so we thought it would be useful to provide reminders here:

First, our Emerald City Planning Commission will be again this week considering the Mixed Use Ordinance which has been on the table since earlier this year. In that connection, we have uploaded the latest revision, which can be viewed in PDF format here. We also provide a link to the latest Planning Commission Report, which provides background regarding the latest proposed MU ordinance language. We invite interested readers to carefully examine these two documents, and plan to attend the Wednesday March 7, 2005 Planning Commission meeting, which will be held at 5:00 p.m. in the Emerald City Council Chambers.

We got word earlier in the week that Boss Godfrey and his developer wanna-be croney Chris Peterson were spotted touring the Mt. Ogden Golf course Thursday last, with a "very famous" (but un-named) golf course designer in tow. There's certainly no predicting what The Boss of US All will "pull" next. In the wake of the Bootjack stealth transaction of last December, we lumpencitizens need to remain on our toes. We sincerely hope the council chambers will be packed on Wednesday night with concerned citizens, (trusty pitchforks and torches in hand,) to provide a gentle reminder to the Planning Commission that the vast majority of citizens in our community won't be happy with a gated community in the middle what was once our beautiful open space.

We'd also like to provide our readers a reminder of the public event calendared for the following evening, Thursday March 8, 2007 from 5-8 p.m., wherein The Emerald City Council will host a Transportation Horizons work session in the Council Chambers.

The council has initiated this work session, independent of the administration, to inform both themselves and Emerald City residents of transportation needs and opportunities. The Council is encouraging a strong public attendance. Residents attending the meeting will have the opportunity to speak with presenters and Council members before and after the work session. The work session will feature knowledgeable presenters from several organizations.

A Weber County Forum Tip o' the Hat to our Emerald City Council, for initiating this investigation into transportation alternatives. Many of us believe Boss Godfrey has dropped the ball in the public transportation arena, and it's great to see the council taking the initiative. For more information, check out the council's most recent press release. We hope everyone will plan to attend.

Our readers' intricate and always-intelligent analysis is invited. We'd especially like to hear from those folks who may have already run through the latest Mixed Use Ordinance language with their trusty fine-toothed combs. Please let us in on what you think about this latest revision.

The floor is open.

Update 2/5/07 9:55 a.m. MT: One of our gentle readers has forwarded to us a letter sent by the Smart Growth Ogden organization to its local membership. Although the letter somewhat overlaps the general information we have already provided above, we nevertheless take the liberty of publishing it here, inasmuch as it provides an additional helpful overview and analysis of the proposed Mixed Use Ordinance which will be the main subject of Wednesday night's Planning Commission agenda.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Little Bobby is Back

The Standard-Examiner provides a special treat this morning, as we drop into another Emerald City weekend. This morning's edition features a nasty bullet-point rant by Lift Ogden Windbag Bob Geiger, raging against our Emerald City RDA Board of Trustees, which is now preparing to call Boss Godfrey on the carpet with new procedures guarding against future insider transactions, such as the now notorious Bootjack sweetheart purchase option. We'd recently thought Tom Ellison and the Peterson crew had wisely and cautiously kept the flamboyant Junior Geiger under careful wraps. That's all changed utterly. Little Bobby is back.

The facts surrounding this transaction are quite clear. We've discussed the situation thoroughly here, here and here. In point of fact, Boss Godfrey deceitfully concealed and suppressed the fact that his croney Chris Peterson was the true owner and principal of the Bootjack shell entity, prior to the transaction. Yes, The RDA Board had previously asked for disclosure, but approved the transaction anyway, in spite of the administration's continuing and wilful failure and refusal to disclose Chris Peterson's identity. As we've learned subsequently in our below threads on this subject however, the RDA Board was pressured into going along with Boss Godfrey because the transaction was characterized as a financial emergency. Cost overruns were jeopardizing the Junction Project timetable, the Board was told by the administration. The RDA Board, in its incessant effort to be cooperative, thus opted to drop its request for disclosure. In its effort to be a "team player," the Board ultimately found itself with egg on its face. In the aftermath, this lapse in judgment proved to be most imprudent, as the Board has learned during this past week. Looking at the situation from the Board's viewpoint, it's hard to conceive, however, that any one of them might have imagined, at the time the purchase option was approved, that Boss Godfrey would have had the audacity to flagantly pawn off three parcels adjacent to the FrontRunner terminal in a stealth transaction to a close associate like Peterson.

Mr. Geiger complains that the RDA Board would discriminate against Boss Godfrey's croney, that Chris Peterson's money is just as good as anybody else's. Boss Godfrey's cronies should be able to benefit from secretly-arranged deals. Economic perks are, after all, one of the prime benefits of being a Godfrey croney. That's how it works in our Brave New MattGodfreyWorld. Mr. Geiger thought everybody already knew that.

Mr. Geiger lays in particularly brutally upon council members Garcia, Wicks and Jeske this morning. The whole brouhaha is politically motivated, he says. This is of course the accusation that Boss Godfrey always drags out, whenever our conscientious council resolves to do its duty, and possible ethical or criminal breaches on the part of Boss Godfrey become part of the public discussion.

We were admittedly a little overly hard on the RDA Board over the past week or so, after first learning about this "smelly" Bootjack transaction. Our email box had been crammed with angry reader missives. It was the same in our comments sections. We weren't the only ones who experienced a visceral reaction. In hindsight we stand chastened, and applaud out RDA Board, who've tried over past months to adopt a posture that would seem co-operative and progressive. Hard lessons are the best lessons, however; and hopefully the Board has now learned that the RDA Board of Trustees simply cannot fulfill their primary roles (as public trustees,) and trust Boss Godfrey simultaneously. If Boss Godfrey says the sky is blue, we're sure that our RDA members will now have learned to take a peek out the nearest window. If Boss Godfrey shows up to the next RDA meeting and sits down in the RDA Director's chair, we do hope Chairman Garcia will instruct the Board Sergeant-at-Arms to check the Boss's ID.

The floor is open. Who amongst our gentle readers would like to comment on the latest Bob Geiger lunatic rant?

We always appreciate a good red-meat article to chew on as we move into the weekend; and we thank the Standard-Examiner for providing us just that.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Keep the Fires Burning, Joe

We find two stories this morning in our home-town newspaper which ought to be of interest to our gentle readers.

First in immediate importance, Scott Schwebke reports that our Emerald City RDA is taking immediate remedial action to prevent further occurrences of Boss Godfrey insider dealing:
OGDEN — The Ogden Redevelopment Agency is considering a new policy to require “full disclosures” from property buyers before it approves future land sales.
The RDA, made up of the city council, may vote to adopt the policy on March 6. The proposed policy changes follow complaints from the RDA that it was not notified by Community and Economic Development Director Dave Harmer that would-be developer Chris Peterson owns Bootjack LLC, which has been granted an option to purchase three RDA parcels downtown.
The proposed policy change comes on the heels of the community and economic development director’s failure to voluntarily divulge the name of the principals of Bootjack LLC in spite of the obvious public significance and interest to the board of this fact,” the RDA said Wednesday in a prepared statement.
We're thrilled that the RDA board seems disinclined to just let this matter pass. And we're encouraged by this Council Chair Garcia quote:
“The board needs to ensure there is full disclosure of who is involved when the RDA is selling property,” Garcia said in a prepared statement.
“The board desires to have a cooperative, trusting and open relationship with those city employees who provide services to the RDA. The lack of communication in this case (the land sale involving Bootjack) does not foster this type of relationship.”
Boss Godfrey needed to be called on the carpet, and it appears the RDA Board is doing just that.

We would further suggest the RDA Board also look into implementing policy to provide adequate public notice to all potential buyers whenever RDA properties are to be sold. In a comment in a lower thread, Curmudgeon suggested a 30-day public notice period whereby outside offers would be publicly solicited and entertained any time an RDA property had received a single purchase offer. Not a bad idea, we think, although we believe a 90 day MLS listing would be a better solution. RDA policy should require that "surplus" properties always be advertised publicly. Implementation of such a procedure would allow the free market to peg the true fair market value, and would eliminate criticism that properties were sold at below-market prices.

Secondly, Utah has again joined the ranks of states which permit condemnation and seizure of private property for economic development purposes. House Bill 365 sailed through the Senate in the final day of the legislative session with a unanimous 26-0 vote yesterday, we learn from this morning's Jeff DeMoss story.

A room-ful of grinning Utah senators yesterday applauded the legislature's latest foray into communalist practices. The new legislation of course has a gimmicky majoritarian twist. From now on, individual proprty rights will exist subject to the whims of neighborhood apparatchiks:
Unlike a previous law that was repealed in 2005, where a single property owner could hold up an entire project, HB 365 requires an 80 percent majority of residential owners or 75 percent of commercial owners in a project area to give approval in petition form before redevelopment authorities can exercise eminent domain.
A project could also be cleared with approvals representing the equivalent of 70 percent of total residential property value or 60 percent of commercial value in the area.
The bill's sponsor, Comrade Senator Scott Jenkins, uttered an odd comment upon passage of the bill yesterday:
“What ends up happening a lot of times is the minority ends up trumping the majority,” Jenkins said.
“You end up in a situation where one person can make it so the rest can’t get rid of their property. This sets a very, very high standard for the majority.”
Some of us were heretofore unfamiliar with the notion that individual property rights ought to be subject to the whims of the majority in America. And since when is it the proper role of government to help dissatisfied property owners "get rid of their properties, we ask?

Somewhere in a warm very warm place down near the earth's core, Old Joe Stalin has to be smiling.

"Keep the fires burning, Joe," we muse. "Comrade Senator Jenkins will be joining you down there one day soon."

The floor is open.

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