Friday, September 28, 2007

City Council Work Session Report and Sundry Other News Items

Kickoff to a weekend open topic thread

Thanks to the efforts of regular contributor Curmudgeon, we are delighted this morning to be able present for our readers a report on last night's council work session, where the topics of a proposed tax increment incentive to Adams Air to move a second facility here, and Ogden's being asked to pass a resolution in support of the Transportation Tax Referendum were discussed, along with other agenda items.

We'll incorporate Curmudgeon's lead paragraphs here:

The City Council work session began, tonight, with Ms. Janine Eller of Management Service, presenting the annual real property report [report on real property sold or acquired by all city agencies over the previous fiscal year.] Third on the agenda [I’ll get to second in a moment], Ms. Laura Lewis of LYR&B delivered a long briefing called “Municipal Bonding 101" discussing various kinds of municipal bonds and debt, interest rates, funding options, benefits and advantages and drawbacks of each. This was in anticipation, I gathered, of Ogden’s facing significant costs next year to finance the rebuilding of its water and sewer systems.

Second on the agenda was an RDA Board session with Mr. Harmer discussing a request for Ogden to grant Adams Aircraft approximately $900,000 in tax increment rebates as an inducement to move all of its manufacturing facilities, and its manufacturing headquarters to Ogden. Mr. Harmer summarized the situation this way: Adams is currently moving its production facilities for one of its two aircraft under production/development to Ogden. It has already received [via Kemp] tax increment incentives for doing that. Got incentives from the state as well. However, it also has a plant in Pueblo, CO for which it got incentives as well. Some of the parts for both models under production will be manufactured at Pueblo and shipped to Ogden for assembly. Some of the company’s management thinks it might be more efficient to move its entire manufacturing operation to Ogden, and its manufacturing division HQ as well. The Company Board, however, is not convinced because of the up-front cash cost of doing that. It will have to repay Pueblo the $2,000,000 in incentives it got to move its manufacturing plant there, plus interest. It will have to, for a time, finance duplicate tooling [so Pueblo can continue to operate until Ogden comes on line.] And so on. The Board figures the total cash outlay to move it all to Ogden would be an additional $12,000,000, which it is willing to consider, if the company management can find a way to offset a substantial portion of that figure. [...]
Read Curmudgeon's full report.

We'll also briefly highlight, without editorial comment, three items appearing this morning in the Standard-Examiner:

1) Scott Schwebke provides additional information on the Adams Aircraft topic discussed in Curmudgeon's above report here.

2) For a full load of B.S., read the Std-Ex guest editorial of Dave Hardman, President and CEO of the Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce, wherein the poor misguided gondolist provides a prolonged whine about mayoral candidate Van Hooser's decision to decline an invitation for a Chamber sponsored debate.

3) Boss Godfrey's administration continues to stonewall the Ogden Sierra Club's continuing efforts to obtain even the most basic information about the operations of Ogden City government. Scott Schwebke's page C-1 story on this topic can be viewed here.

We have a packed calender today and we're thus posting this article on the fly. In the event that we've missed an important news item or two, we know we can rely upon or readers to fill in the rest. And as always, you are all invited to treat this article as an open topic thread.

It's all yours, gentle readers. Web surfers all over the blogosphere are waiting to know what's on the minds of Weber County Forum readers this Friday morning.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

1984 is Alive and Well at the Standard Examiner

The Standard-Examiner editors reach new heights in the area of faulty logic

By Curmudgeon

There is a truly remarkably attempt at revising history, fully worthy of George Orwell's 1984. It appears as the Std-Ex's lead editorial. If the state press association gives an annual award for editorial creative fiction, the Std-Ex is a lock to come home with the prize.

Let us follow out the logic [politely so called] of the argument.

(1) for the last two years, Mayor Matthew Godfrey has been urging the sale of Mt. Ogden Park and the adjacent parklands to Mr. Chris Peterson, so the property could be developed as a gated community of vacation villas.

(2) He has done this, and seriously divided the city, in order to raise money for a flatland gondola between downtown and WSU which a recent study, paid for by the public, indicates is the worst of three possible transit alternatives over that route.

(3) For the entire two year period, community groups like Smart Growth Ogden and others have insisted the plan to sell the park and build homes on it was neither wise public policy, nor was it [given the steeply-sloped character of much of the land] feasible.

(4) As the election approaches, and in trouble with the voters precisely because of his unpopular plan to sell the park to real estate developers, Mayor Godfrey promised not to sell the parklands, to take them "off the table."

(5) And the Std-Ex concludes that by finally, after bitterly dividing the community for two years over the matter, the Mayor's having at last agreed with those who've been opposing the park sale all that time constitutes his having "checkmated" his critics.

Just to put the icing on the transparently flawed logic of that argument, the Std-Ex carries a story this morning that declares not selling the park to be the Mayor's proposal --- the same one he's been fighting for two years, until the election loomed. The story includes a statement by Ms. Susan Van Hooser that accurately summarizes what has happened [i.e. accurately summarizes what the Std-Ex editors missed], but you have to read to the very end of its story on the matter to find it]:
"I, and other members of the Ogden City Council and a great many citizens of Ogden have been working for some time now to protect and preserve Mount Ogden Park and the rest of the open space in the city's foothills, to keep it safe and available for us and for our children, and theirs for generations to come," she said.

"I am glad that Mayor Godfrey has finally decided to join me, my fellow council members, and the people of Ogden in that effort. We've known for a long time what the mayor seems now to understand, how important the golf course, the park and the trails in the foothills are in drawing visitors from all around the state, and the nation, and even the world to Ogden. I'm particularly glad the mayor's two-year long attempt to sell the city's largest park for a real estate development, which has so divided this city, seems at last to be over."
But for the Std-Ex, which seems to have hired Winston Smith of George Orwell's Ministry of Truth to do its editorials these days, war is peace. Up is down. And the Mayor's electoral death-bed conversion to opponents' policies constitutes him checkmating them.

[Dear Std-Ex Editors: I believe WSU runs classes in Introductory Logic. It's pretty late in the term to be signing up for courses, but perhaps an exception can be made for you in the name of serving the public interest. At least you could ask.]

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mt. Ogden Community Plan Meeting Report

The Little LepreCON performs a public jig, dancing to the tune of the "naysayer" pipers - Ed.

By David S.

I just got back from Mount Ogden Middle School where the Mount Ogden Community Plan was discussed by the community. During that meeting, the mayor was asked whether his intentions (mentioned in the paper and WCF today) related to protecting the golf course and park, or also the surrounding undeveloped city land and the trails as well. In other words, did it relate to just two parts, or to all four.

The mayor said his intention is to preserve all four and he listed them, as well as stating his own love and use of the trails.

I welcome this. Of course, I feel there must be concrete action for the public to believe the mayor’s change of heart is genuine and, shall we say, permanent. I feel it must happen very soon or people will see it as only a ploy. But having both mayoral candidates saying the same thing on this paramount issue, is wonderful. The council has also been looking at ways to protect these "four parts." They passed out their work after the meeting, but I haven't read through it yet.

There was also the strong sense that the public wants all the undeveloped benchlands – both pubic and private – left as they are, and would like the city to buy the undeveloped private land where possible, or where not possible, leave it zoned as open space. There were many other issues discussed. If there was any conflict in the sentiments of the community regarding any of the many issues discussed, I didn’t notice it.

So let us observe, the public has been speaking and are being listened to. Dan Schroeder said he’s never been more proud to live in Ogden than he has felt while participating in the Mount Ogden Community Plan process. I would concur. To see the public turn out and speak about the town that they love, to see the community so unified, and to see the officials really listening, made me feel very proud as well.

Anyway I thought folks might like to know.

BTW, what other city has a forum like this, to talk about things like this, like this?

Update 9/26/07 10:35 a.m. MT: Ace Reporter Schwebke contributes his own community meeting report in this morning's Standard-Examiner.

Boss Godfrey: "Champion of Mt. Ogden Parklands Open Space"

The public policy-confused Boss Godfrey performs yet another 180-degree political flip-flop

We link here this morning's Standard-Examiner story, which reports the most bizarre plot twist yet of the 2007 municipal campaign season, whereby Boss Godfrey suddenly assumes the mantle of "Champion of Mt. Ogden Parklands Open Space" -- "Lord Protector of Our Pristine Trails and Foothills."

Q: And who is the evil parkland plunderer foe whom Boss Godfrey has now pledged to vanquish?
A: None other than Boss Godfrey himself, weirdly enough.

Possible new Boss Godfrey campaign slogan: "We Have Met the Enemy, and He is Us."

Monday, September 24, 2007

The "Buck" Never Stops at Boss Godfrey's Desk

Write it down so you don't forget it

Now that Boss Godfrey has become a dedicated election season crime-fighter, it must have been a mite disturbing for the poor little guy to have known that his Emerald City voter constituency was reading all about the latest gang murder under yesterday morning's blaring Standard-Examiner headline, "Gang death in Ogden - Teen, 15, suspected of killing man who was holding bat".

Our readers will all recall that it's been a short two months since Boss Godfrey held that press conference announcing his "War on Gangs;" and although we Emerald City citizens were tentatively reassured in the knowledge that our can-do Mayor was looking out for us on the simmering gangland front, headlines like the one above really aren't the kind of thing a politically weakened mayor likes to see splashed all over the front page of the home town newspaper, six weeks before a crucial general election.

Godfrey's a resourceful guy, however, and he apparently didn't let any grass grow under his feet in putting a Godfreyesque spin on this politically damaging story. And although this is just speculation on our part, we suspect that what Godfrey immediately did was call his friends at the Standard-Examiner, to engineer a front-page Std-Ex story which would result in at least some political damage control.

And thus we highlight this morning's Sam Cooper cover story, in which the Ogden Police Department's Lt. Tony Fox (Chief Greiner is out of town) lays the entire blame for this politically inconvenient homicide on -- get this -- the owner of the parking lot where Jesus Aparicio was shot dead on Friday night by a rival gang member.

The spin is Godfreyesque, as we already mentioned. When something goes wrong in MattGodfeyWorld, it's always somebody else's fault.

And don't get us wrong on this; we don't think this "cover story" was Lt. Fox's own idea at all. Suffice it to say that when you're a guy like Tony Fox, who depends for his paycheck on a petulant Boss like the Boss of Us All, you don't ask questions or raise objections -- you simply start spinning the story just like you're told. That's our "take," and we're sticking to it -- until further notice at least.

And at risk of intruding into the policy territory of our Crime-fighter Mayor, wasn't it reported that our city council passed a broad new "anti-gang" ordinance just last month, prohibiting loitering in circumstances such as those at 30th & Washington on Friday night last? Why, we ask, is Boss Godfrey still relying on a trespass ordinance to control a 100-member mob-gathering on an Emerald City Friday night, when the council has now provided a law-enforcement blunderbuss, specifically intended to prevent loitering and the thwarting of gang turf-battles?

We confess we don't know the answer to that. Maybe one our gentle OPD readers can enlighten us on this.

On an entirely different topic tangent we'll also highlight this morning's most excellent Standard-Examiner editorial, in which Don Porter (or somebody on the Std-Ex editorial board) once again chides Boss Godfrey for his continuing pattern of government uber-secrecy:

"For the zillionth time, people: Operate in the open to begin with and these sorts of blunders can be avoided. And when someone asks for information, just give it to them. It really is that simple," Don Porter says.

And to Don Porter we say, "That's good advice, but we think you're wasting your breath. Nobody -- but NOBODY -- tells Boss Godfrey what to do -- not even those 'friends' who do him special favors."

It's all yours from here, gentle readers.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another Gang Murder in Fair Emerald City

And Ace Reporter Schwebke Misses a Golden Reportorial Opportunity to Mightily Expound on Boss Godfrey's Continuing Misdeeds

We'll shine some daylight on two items in this morning's news, both from our home-town newspaper.

1) Today's Standard-Examiner breaks the news to the general public about something Weber County Forum readers have known about since Friday. There's been another gang-related murder in Ogden. We incorporate below the lead paragraphs from this morning's story:
OGDEN — A 22-year-old man is dead and a 15-year-old boy has been arrested and accused of killing him, while a community is left reeling over the latest gang-related violent incident as police continue their investigation.

The fatal shooting occurred at 11:30 p.m. Friday at the Phillips Kicks 66 gas station and convenience store at 30th Street and Washington Boulevard.

“I always get nervous around this part of town, just for that reason. You could just be an innocent bystander … and you could get shot,” said Joe Bauer, 52, of South Ogden, as he filled his car at the station Saturday.

This is Ogden’s third fatal gang shooting for 2007, according to police reports.

Friday night, when the shooting occurred, about 100 youths were milling around their cars and motorcycles in the parking lot, according to witnesses. The convenience store is a popular stop for people cruising the boulevard, police said.
100 youths milling around a downtown parking lot late on a Friday night, (an accident waiting to happen), and not a single Ogden Police Department patrol unit in sight? What happened to proactive policing, we ask. And no, we're NOT putting the knock on our sorely understaffed men and women of Ogden's Finest. We know where the responsibility really lies:

We got the straight story from OPD Sgt. Troy Arrowsmith in midsummer of 2006, when he informed us, right there on the Std-Ex editorial pages, about Boss Godfrey's twisted, upside-down law enforcement priorities:

"...Mayor Godfrey has chosen to address the crime issue in Ogden by adding more officers to the Traffic Division (officers whose primary mission is to write citations). The mayor effectively doubled the size of the Traffic Division. No addition in personnel has been made to the Patrol Division (those officers who handle your calls and proactively prevent crime), to the Narcotic Unit, Gang Unit or the Detective Division. This is an obvious plan to use the police department as revenue generators and raise money from you, the citizens, to pay for who knows what project....

"Are your elected city officials representing your views on this? Is this fair to you? Why are they trying to raise funds in such an underhanded way? Your elected officials are using the police department as a revenue generating machine instead of the job we were sworn to do: public safety. "

Godfrey's obsession with feeding his Justice Court "Cash Cow," at the expense of real law enforcement, has left the citizens of Ogden in a terribly tight spot. We're now reaping the fruits of Boss Godfrey's revenue generation obsession, and it's costing human lives. And at the rate things are going in Emerald City, it's only a matter of time before an entirely innocent citizen catches a stray bullet.

And the next time Boss Godfrey tells you he's reduced crime 23% during his tenure as mayor, flash this morning's Std-Ex headline under his nose, or better yet, ask him to respond honestly to this.

2) In yesterday's article we linked to our city council's 9/21/07 press report, in which our city council tried to set the record straight, and to alert the general public that, contrary to some published reports, our city council had been cut out of the loop, and was NOT involved in the UTA/Godfrey administration's August 29 written agreement, intended to dispose of the $247 thousand in federal funds that's been sitting in a UTA account for over fourteen months.

Believing this story to be Scott Schwebke's "baby," we deferred to our favorite Ace Reporter, awaiting another blockbuster revelation in this morning's Standard-Examiner, laying out in detail how the city council got royally screwed over. And we got a tiny bit of that, at least at the start of this morning's article, which bore the headline, "Council denies involvement," and the even more accurate sub-headline, "Godfrey, they say, signed UTA-gondola agreement on his own."

And in all fairness to Mr. Schwebke, his article did adopt verbatim a few of the council's press-release paragraphs.

From there, however Mr. Schwebke's article spirals downward toward the mundane. And we just loved this couple of short (and carefully crafted) Schwebke paragraphs:
The urban leg of the gondola project remains in doubt because Godfrey has refused to sell city-owned Mount Ogden Golf Course to developer Chris Peterson, the driving force behind the proposal.

The city had initially planned to use proceeds from the golf course sale to help fund an urban leg of the gondola extending from downtown to Weber State University. It was estimated to cost about $20 million, [Emphasis added.]
We've seen Ace Reporter at his best; and he's certainly nowhere near that level this morning.

As one of our readers has already commented in a lower thread:
What's with Scott Schwebke this morning?

"Godfrey has refused to sell city-owned Mount Ogden Golf Course"

Makes it sound like Godrey's the man to protect us from those crazy gondolistas!
Take it away, gentle readers.

Let us all know what you think. Do it now, or after you get back from church.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Something For the Home-bound to Ponder on a Saturday Night

Three items in recent Emerald City news

Although it's a slow visitor-traffic mid-weekend, the red-meat news just keeps on flowing. Thus there are three items we feel compelled to throw out for discussion this evening:

The first is this morning's Standard-Examiner story, in which Scott Schwebke reports the scheduling of a candidate debate, in which mayoral candidates Van Hooser and Godfrey are calendered to lock horns at WSU on October 12, 2007. What make this is re-meat story, however, is Mr. Schwebke's odd reporting of this event. Rather than merely telling the folks that the two candidates had agreed to a firm date, time, venue and format for an event that is actually happening, Mr. Schwebke found it somehow appropriate to lead his article by reporting on a venue that fizzled, i.e., a proposed venue in the Boss Godfrey den of lions, Godfreyite Dave Hardman's Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce.

Failed debate venues are common in politics. The ones that are never agreed upon nor scheduled far outnumber the ones that actually "come off." Why Ace Reporter Schwebke saw fit to publicise one of the events that didn't work out we do not know; but we do have our suspicions. Scott Schwebke's story was plainly designed to by the Standard-Examiner to provide Boss Godfrey favorable ink we think, and to embarrass the challenger Van Hooser.

As to the question of scheduling additional future debate venues, we're going to offer a suggestion to Susie and her campaign crew:

The political upside to scheduling further face-to-face "debates" between a challenger with significant momentum is slight, when compared with the downside of giving the "troubled" political loser any more time on the public stage than he deserves, especially in an environment where our so-called "home town newspaper" is plainly in Boss Godfrey's corner.

Another item worthy of discussion this evening is a tepid press release issued by the City Council yesterday, an item that was mentioned tangentially during the comments in the lower article, but didn't spark much reader discussion. Despite the report in Thursday's Scott Schwebke story, which cheerfully (but incorrectly) reported that the city council is participating in the discussion regarding the $247 thousand secret gondola study fund -- that's plainly not the truth, judging from the above-linked City council press release.

We've spoken with four of the seven council members, including council leaders Garcia and Wicks. The story we're getting from these nicy-nice folks is that mayor-council relations are now at an all time low, although that mood certainly isn'r reflected in the press report. Every member of the council now reportedly believes (privately of course) that Boss Godfrey maneuvered deceptively behind their backs in reaching a unilateral agreement with the UTA. The council as a body believes they've been entirely cut out, in violation of Godfrey's worthless promises to work "co-operatively." We've also had a private conversation with the UTA's Mick Crandall, who also told us some very revealing things.

Except for the above, we're going to keep mum about all we've found out for now. This is Scott Schwebke's story, and for now we're going to stand back, out of professional courtesy, and let him dig in and report the truth. Failing that, we'll go ahead and report the sordid details, in the event that his editors hold him back.

Regardless of where Ace Reporter Schwebke takes this, however, this is a story we'll keep hammering until November. It's all here in one package, gentle readers. If there's one single story within the past four years that neatly encapsulates everthing wrong with Boss Godfrey, this is it. Within this single story we find the deception, cronyism, dishonorable conduct, lies, arrogance, disregard for his City Council co-equal government branch, and everything else that disqualifies Boss Godfrey from further "service" at the helm of our Ogden City government.

Last but not least we're going to highlight this morning's letter to the editor, from State Representative Neil Hansen. Gracious and gentlemanly in his unsuccessful mayoral campaign, he's magnanimous and gracious in his defeat. Neil Hansen is truly a "class act," and remains a tremendous local resource in our State Legislature. We thank Neil Hansen for his participation in our municipal primary campaign, and hope that he and Ms. Van Hooser will soon be joining together and pooling their resources. We're a hair's breadth from showing Boss Godfrey the stage door exit in November, and hope to hear soon that political warhorses Van Hooser and Hansen will pulling in tandem, as we move toward the upcoming general election.

Time to go watch our Utah Utes, and find out whether last week's UCLA blowout was a fluke!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Mt. Ogden Community Plan Meeting Heads-up

Mt. Ogden Middle School - 6 p.m. - Tuesday, Sept. 25

We would like to direct our readers' attention this morning to a memo we received earlier this week from Ogden City council communications specialist Chad Phares, concerning the Mt. Ogden community plan:
OGDEN, UTAH (Sept. 18, 2007) — In an effort to encourage community involvement, the Ogden City Council will discuss the proposed Mt. Ogden Community Plan at Mt. Ogden Middle School at 6 p.m. during the Tuesday, Sept. 25 Ogden City Council meeting.
After the plan has been presented, those who wish to provide input to the Council will be given the opportunity to do so. Likewise, comment cards will be made available for those who wish to leave written comments. These comments will be consolidated and delivered to the Council.
The proposed community plan contains a vision of the community and objectives for implementing this vision. Many of the recommendations in the plan came from Mt. Ogden residents who served on community plan steering committees.
Because Council members consider it important to take the time to carefully consider both the input they receive from residents and business owners as well as the Planning Commission’s recommendations, the Council will not make a decision regarding the plan during this meeting.
The Council received the community plan from the Planning Commission on May 29, 2007. Since this time, the Council has met with planning officials multiple times to discuss the contents of the plan.
A copy of the plan may be obtained by clicking on the “Proposed Mt. Ogden Community Plan” link on the City’s home page .
Mt. Ogden Middle School is located at 3260 Harrison Boulevard. The meeting will be held in the school’s auditorium.
If you would like to know more information about this topic, please call Ogden City Council Communications Specialist Chad Phares at (801) 629-8629 or e-mail at
chadphares@ci.ogden.ut.us.
Please be sure to mark your calenders, gentle readers. We believe this to be a "must attend" event.

Feel free to pick up on this topic, or consider this a weekend kickoff open thread.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Godfrey's Twisted Gondola Obsession Arises Again

The sociopathic monster from Boss Godfrey's id again lurches to the forefront and into this morning's news

Like the Hollywood "B" grade horror-movie monster that never has "the stake" quite driven cleanly through its evil heart until the end of the last reel, Boss Godfrey's strange gondola obsession arises once again as headline news this morning, with this Scott Schwebke story, reporting that the Godfrey administration and the Utah Transit Authority have reached agreement for disposition of the $247 thousand in Federal Transportation Administration grant funds that have been languishing on the UTA books for over a year.

Yes, gentle readers, the secret gondola study is once again back on the WCF discussion front burner, right back where it belongs, with a municipal election approaching in a mere 46 days.

As is the usual circumstance in anything involving Boss Godfrey obsessions, opinions differ about the operative facts. Whereas Boss Godfrey contends that the expenditure of these funds will be for the benefit of the UTA, rational spokesmen for the Utah Transit Authority have previously expressed a drastically differing opinion on the subject:

Godfrey said transportation information from studies funded through the contract will benefit UTA, not Ogden, because the city wouldn’t own, operate or maintain the urban gondola.

“They (UTA) requested the contract,” he said. “They need to find out if it (the urban gondola) is viable to get people from point A to point B.”

However, a July 20, 2006, letter from Mick Crandall, UTA’s deputy chief for planning and programming, to John Arrington, the city’s finance manager, indicates at the time the municipality was interested in using the $247,500 allocation to further study the gondola proposal.

“Ogden city has determined that its preferred use of the funds would be to refine the proposal for the aerial cableway which the city is pursuing as part of a public-private cooperative endeavor,” the letter says.
Boss Godfrey of course resides in his own private gondolist universe, and is no stranger to drastic differences of opinion, especially among rational, non-sociopathic people.

Among the details nailed down in the UTA/Godfrey agreement are these, according to this morning's Ace Reporter Schwebke story:

"UTA will allocate a portion of the funds to pay Salt Lake City-based Lewis, Young, Robertson & Burningham $16,250 for a gondola fiscal impact study completed in November 2006...

"With the exception of the Lewis, Young, Robertson & Burningham bill, UTA will be responsible for all contracts financed in connection with the agreement...

In addition, the city and UTA will jointly develop a “scope of work” for gondola studies that maximizes “benefits to the constituents” of both entities, the agreement says...

The city and UTA will also designate an equal number of representatives to a committee that will review gondola-related study proposals, according to the agreement...

In addition, UTA will review all invoices submitted by each consultant to determine eligibility for payment.
And there's also one additional element of the story that we find curious:

"After UTA pays Lewis, Young, Robertson & Burningham, the balance of the funds available through the contract won’t likely be expended, unless Peterson finds a way to fund the urban gondola, said John Patterson, the city’s chief administrative officer."

We're not sure what the above language means, although it might suggest that UTA will not be required to disburse any funds under express terms of the agreement, until Chris Peterson comes up with a viable mechanism to fund the whole crackpot scheme.

Is the production of a viable financing plan a condition precedent to the implementation of this UTA/Godfrey agreement under its own written terms? Will the UTA be legally required to hold off on wasting these grant monies, until the gondolists produce a plan on paper that passes the "sniff test" -- or is Mr. Patterson merely suggesting that this probably won't happen as a practical matter? There remains a large hanging question in the possible interpretation of Patterson's above statement.

Frankly we do not know. Unfortunately Ace reporter Schwebke apparently didn't ask the obvious followup question. This, buy the way is not intended as a slam on Scott Schwebke, who played perhaps the key role in publicly exposing the Godfrey administration's earlier devious misbehavior in connection with this matter, and whose article today is otherwise very revealing.

We'll attempt to reach a UTA spokesman this morning. If we can get some clarification on this, we'll put it up by way of an article update.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

Update 9/20/07 11:45 a.m. MT: One of our gentle readers has kindly forwarded to us a full text pdf version of the above-mentioned 8/29/07 UTA/Godfrey Administration agreement, which we've uploaded to our storage site and now make available for our readers' inspection here.

Update 9/21/07 9:05 a.m. MT: Scott Schwebke provides a followup story in this morning's Standard-Examiner, fleshing out yesterday's story with the added information that UTA officials are also dealing directly with the city council and its legal representatives, regarding the ultimate disposition of the Federal Transportation Administration funds.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wednesday Morning Bits & Pieces

Nobody's perfect -- especially "us"

We're going to do something here at Weber County Forum that we haven't done in a good long time. We're going to submit today's article to a complete re-write.

Earlier today we leapfrogged off today's Standard-Examiner article, and hastily published what we confess to have been a half-baked opinion piece, criticising in part the reporting of Ace Reporter Schwebke, and his story about last night's Emerald City RDA session. So stunned were we that last night's meeting didn't result in a flurry of new bonding, that we overlooked a few highly essential points. Here's what we originally said:
We find a puzzling Scott Schwebke story in this morning's Standard-Examiner, regarding the American Can development project. The Emerald City RDA board last night amended the existing development agreement governing that project, the article reports; however our favorite Ace Reporter provides not the slightest clue as to the substance of that amendment. We incorporate Mr. Schwebke's hopelessly vague "descriptive" paragraph here:

"OGDEN — The Ogden Redevelopment Agency agreed Tuesday night to amend a development agreement enabling a developer to secure a $3.7 million bank loan to renovate Building D within the former American Can Co. complex."

That's it folks. That single paragraph is all this story provides us regarding the nature of last night's development agreement amendment. From this point the story rambles off into an odd array of largely irrelevant tangents, leaving interested readers scratching their heads, wondering exactly what substantive change the RDA Board made to the existing development agreement.
Here's the part of Mr. Schwebke's article we failed to highlight:
The development agreement amendments approved by the RDA board, made up of city council members, will enable Peddie to borrow funds from Wells Fargo Bank to make improvements to Building D, said Richard McConkie, the city’s deputy director of community and economic development.

Peddie plans to lease about 57,000 square feet on three floors in Building D to Amer Sports Corp., an international outdoor gear company.

The development agreement amendments call for Peddie to form a single entity, AmCan Properties I LLC, to own and operate Building D, said McConkie.

The amendments also allow tax increment by Building D to be pledged by Peddie to secure the Wells Fargo loan.

The development agreement for the complex renamed the AmeriCan Center calls for Peddie to receive 75 percent of the tax increment generated by improvements through 2017. Those proceeds are expected to total about $1.6 million, McConkie said.
Several of our gentle readers immediately set us straight about this glaring omission on our part; and we have thus somewhat sheepishly re-written today's article. Ace Reporter Schwebke did indeed provide us most of the essentials to last night's RDA session story, which boil down to these elemental points:

Our Emerald City RDA Board apparently handed another Friends of Matt (FOM) another fat taxpayer subsidy last night, once again reprising the tired Boss Godfrey refrain:

Emerald City remains "the armpit of Utah;" the only way to turn this city's economy around is to round up a few FOM's and reward them generously.

We regret our error, and apologize to Mr. Schwebke for what we now consider to have been unwarranted criticism.

We also apologize to our gentle readers, for posting the original article "on the fly."

We aim for perfection here on Weber County Forum, and we'll now eat another bite of delicious and nutritious "crow."

On another topic, we'll briefly highlight another Standard-Examiner Letter to the Editor, appearing on this morning's editorial page. Judging from this Donna Gardner letter, it would appear that it's not just Weber County Forum readers who are a mite suspicious of Boss Godfrey's "Godfrey the Crimefighter" 2007 election campaign platform plank. If anyone amongst our readership knows Ms. Gardner, we hope they will refer her here. As regular Weber County Forum readers know, in the arena of crime-fighting, Boss Godfrey isn't merely an exaggerator -- but rather an outright prevaricator.

The floor is open. Talk about any of the above... or whatever else floats your boat.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

State Audit Reveals Ogden Administration Improprieties

Auditor finds Boss Godfrey's Ogden Community Foundation routinely and wilfully violated its own bylaws

By Curmudgeon

A couple of interesting items in today's Standard-Examiner.

First is the article by Scott Schwebke, heading the Top of Utah section. Here's headline: Agency –– government or private? Ogden Community Foundation won’t have to return funds; still under scrutiny

Here are the opening graphs:
OGDEN — The city has made a “good faith effort” to comply with the terms of a $900,000 grant awarded in 2002 to purchase the former American Can Co. complex and won’t have to repay the funds, according to a state audit released Monday. The audit was conducted at the request of state Rep. Neil Hansen, D-Ogden, and other individuals. They questioned whether it was proper for the Ogden Redevelopment Agency to use a $900,000 state grant to purchase the American Can Co. complex to house a high-tech center.
That was, of course, good news for the Godfrey administration and [in my view] good news for Ogden. But the good news for Godfrey ends right there, and the rest of the story and the state audit cannot have pleased him. From the story:
The office of the state auditor determined the Ogden Community Foundation, which acquired the complex in 2006 from the city’s RDA, has deviated significantly from its original articles of incorporation. As a result, there are inconsistencies as to whether the foundation is part of city government or a private organization, the six-page audit says.

The foundation’s original incorporation papers, which say board members are to be selected from a list of approved candidates appointed by Ogden’s mayor, require that the organization be included in the city’s financial statements because it’s considered a “government entity,” the audit says. However, the foundation has deviated from that practice and chooses new board members on its own without making selections based on a list from the mayor, says the audit.
And...
The audit also questioned the city’s decision to withhold information from individuals who submitted public record requests regarding the Ogden Community Foundation. “We believe that public officials have a responsibility to provide for open government,” the audit says. “In this situation, the city allowed the property to be sold into private hands where it no longer controlled the flow of information. While the city may have complied with the letter of the law, it certainly did not comply with the spirit of the law, which includes providing citizens with answers to their questions about the use of their tax dollars.”

The audit recommends that the city work with the foundation to amend the organization’s articles of incorporation to clarify its operating procedures and tax status. The foundation should also comply with state public records law if it is determined by legal counsel that the organization is a governmental entity, says the audit.

Godfrey said the foundation’s bylaws have been amended to demonstrate that the organization is separate from the city and shouldn’t be part of its financial reporting..
So, let's reduce that to basics:

(a) the Ogden City Foundation began life as a public body which, as such, was required to include its activities in the city's annual financial report.

(b)For some unexplained reason, however, it operated instead and in violation of its own founding by-laws, as if it were a private not a public entity, and it refused therefor to makes its records of its activities [which involved the transfer of public property to private entities] public when asked.

(c) The Mayor now says the by-laws have been changed to make the Foundation an exclusively private entity apparently so that it it can keep from having to explain its activities to the public.

(d) The state auditor finds such behavior on the part of the Godfrey administration to be, at the least, unethical, if not illegal.

Next, there is an interesting editorial on the newly announced crime-control steps, and their relation to the campaign. The editorial notes that crime control is shaping up to be a major issue for both mayoral candidates. It implies [faintly, but the implication is there] that Mayor Godfrey's --- who seems to have been asleep at the switch regarding gang violence in Ogden for seven long years until he realized his re-election was in jeopardy --- sudden interest in the topic is to no small extent campaign-motivated. Which raises of course this question: how long will his interest in controlling gang violence survive the closing of the polls on election day this November?

Additional reader comments are invited, of course.

Update 9/18/07 12:16 p.m. MT: For the benefit of our detail-oriented readers, we've obtained and uploaded to our storage site a full-text pdf version of the above State Auditor's Report, which can be viewed here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Wanna Buy a Viaduct... Cheap?

How about a nice gondola?

We haven't found much Emerald City news to spotlight in northern Utah newspapers this morning, so we thought we'd dredge up something interesting which appeared yesterday in the Standard-Examiner. Sunday's edition contained what looked to be an out-of-context article, about a little Idaho town near the Washington state border, which has been suddenly and miraculously transformed from a chemical-plagued toxic "basket case," into a "swanky ski resort." We duly incorporate the article lead paragraphs here:
KELLOGG, Idaho — It may seem an unlikely candidate for the Pacific Northwest’s latest vacation hot spot, but this former mining town has survived decades of decline to boom once more.

The once-polluted mining community — a massive Superfund site — seems to have been transformed virtually overnight into a swanky ski resort with newcomers flocking to buy condos and open businesses.

“It was a definite surprise it took off the way it did,” said Mayor Mac Pooler.

In a place where homes were selling for $30,000 five years ago, brand-new condos costing more than $800,000 are selling as fast as they go on the market. A huge indoor water park is under construction in the ski village. A destination golf course is being built.

Catalyst for much of the growth is Jeld-Wen Communities, the real estate arm of the Jeld-Wen wood products company of Klamath Falls, Ore. The company purchased the Silver Mountain ski resort in 1996 and began making plans to expand.

A key event occurred in 2004, when its first 68 condos were placed on the market and sold out immediately, some for as low as $100,000, as developers were unsure if there would be any demand. A second offering of 110 condos sold out in one day in 2005. The third and final phase of 99 condos sold out in one day late last year.
If the town of Kellogg Idaho seems familiar to our regular readers, it certainly should. Kellogg was also the subject of a Standard-Examiner write-up last year, when the sudden resurgence of that little "superfund cleanup site town" was mentioned, with an entirely different "catalyst" suggested. These Dave Hardman quotes from the earlier Sep 18, 2006 Ace Reporter Schwebke article (part two of a three part Std-Ex series) clearly establish that article's mendacious theme:

Dave Hardman, executive director of the Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce and one of those who made the trip, said visiting Kellogg and Telluride gave him insight into how gondolas can drive tourism and provide effective mass transit.

“I gained the idea that gondolas were the catalyst to get people to come to the community and created a transportation system that didn’t disrupt other traffic,” he said.

The Kellogg gondola is particularly impressive because it virtually saved the town’s economy when silver-, lead- and zinc-mining operations went belly up, Hardman said.

“Even though the magnitude is much smaller than what is planned for Ogden, the gondola was a catalyst for economic opportunity,” he said.
Oh how the Std-Ex themes have changed over the last year. Whereas a gondola was the supposed economic engine that transformed Kellogg, Idaho in last year's story, the Kellogg gondola wasn't even mentioned in this year's version. Boss Godfrey, Dave Hardman and a whole claque of Emerald City gondolist lemmings were the sole quoted sources for Ace Reporter Schwebke's Landgrab/Gondola Sales Pitch last year, whereas the author of Sunday's story actually interviewed Kellogg's mayor.

And the Mayor of Kellogg's conclusion? A private developer bought and expanded the local ski resort, and built and marketed some Kellogg condos -- all apparently on the developer's own dime. Once again, there's no mention of a gondola as the catalyst for Kellogg's recent revival -- no mention of the city's "partnering" with the developer either. As Kellogg Mayor Mac Pooler explains it, “It was a definite surprise...”.

At this point we could carry this discussion in several directions; but here's where we're going with this (here comes the segue):

Ever since Boss Godfrey did his magnificent landgrab/gondola flip-flop in early July, it isn't merely the sale of the Mt. Ogden Golf Course that Godfrey has attempted to "take off the table." Anything and everything related to the Godfrey/Peterson Landgrab Scheme has been swept under the pre-election rug. Even the mention of the word "gondola" is verboten in our Brave New MattGodfreyWorld these days, it would seem.

And with an election looming 49 days hence, several candidates for municipal office would like the lumpencitizens to forget the two years of torment Boss Godfrey and his Gondolist fellow travellers put this community through, prior to the Godfrey's purported admission that the Landgrab Project wasn't feasible from the start. Several of Boss Godfrey's Gondolist co-conspirators are candidates for city council offices. However neither of them will even so much as mention the word "gondola." Frankly... we think they'd like the lumpencitizens to "forget the whole danged thing."

But we're not going to let that happen.

Accordingly -- and thanks to one of our gentle readers, we're able to provide our readers with a visual reminder. To the right of this column we provide a scanned version of a Lift Ogden ad, which ran in the June 12, 2006 Standard-Examiner. For a full version, without the highlighted inserts, our readers can click this link.

Notable among the names of Gondolist Cult members whose names appear in this ad (which we've dubbed the "gondolist manifesto") are those of council candidates Royal Eccles and Kent Petersen. These are two rabid Gondolists who were willing to endorse a plan even before it was proposed -- a plan that indeed was never presented -- a plan that Godfrey himself later admitted to be infeasible. These are people whom, if elected, will be called upon to exercise good judgment, and to apply reason to the decisions they will make as city council members.

God help us all if either of these two "shoot-from-the-hip" nitwits are ever elevated by Emerald City voters to city council offices.

And one more thing for those trusting souls who believe (or would like to believe) that the Gondola/Landgrab Plan will REALLY be "off the table," if we're gullible enough to elect a slate of unreformed gondolists in November: We're sure the Godfreyite Pod People Ticket has a nice viaduct over in West Ogden that they'd be glad to sell you cheap.

Take it away, gentle readers.

We hope our segue didn't snap your necks.

What's on your minds, this fine Monday morning?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Voter Turnout is Everything

By Curmudgeon

Interesting editorial in this morning's Standard-Examiner.

It's entitled "The Stay at Home Vote" and it laments, at some length, the low voter turnouts across the Top of Utah in the recent municipal elections, elections in which voters probably [the editorial correctly notes] can have more of an impact on their daily lives than in other larger elections.

It begins by quoting H. L. Mencken [usually a wise thing for an editorial to do]: Mencken... opined that "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." And it goes on to bemoan with a pessimism boarding on resignation low turnouts that, the SE says, "almost make us want to give up trying." Ogden's turnout was 15%.

OK, nothing unusual about that. Newspapers and talking-head TV newsreaders bemoan low turnouts regularly. What sets the Std-Ex editorial apart is that it then discusses what is in the US usually considered to be a radical, and faintly unAmerican notion by many: that perhaps the willfully ignorant [meaning those who don't keep up with public events, who don't read newspapers regularly] should not be encouraged to vote. That perhaps the best thing the willfully ignorant can do for the Republic is stay well away from the ballot box. The Std-Ex does not agree with that POV, but it gives it a full and fair discussion in the editorial.

From the editorial:
If we seem a little cranky, it's because we've seen the low voter turnout numbers for the Top of Utah communities that held primary elections on Tuesday; we are passionate about our part of the state, but it almost makes us want to give up trying. The expectations of local officials are so diminished, have been so beaten down over the years of voter apathy, that Perry City Recorder Susan Obray told our reporter she was "really pleased" by her city's 18 percent turnout.

We mean no disrespect to her, but less than 1 in 5 voters bothering to vote is nothing short of shameful, and Perry voters did better than any other city in Weber or Box Elder counties....

It's just ugly and sad, and maybe Mencken was right -- maybe that's exactly what we deserve.
Interesting editorial. Chewy. Worth the reading, I think, and worth some thought. And for those engaged in the coming November ballot, the Std-Ex editorial contains a reminding they will ignore at their peril: Turnout is everything. If you don't get your people to the polls in greater numbers than the other guys, it doesn't matter if you've won the debate on points, or had the better arguments, or even if you have convinced most Ogdenites your way would be the best way. If the other candidate gets more of his people off their couches and out to the polling place, he will win. Turnout is everything. It's the endgame, and without a successful endgame you can't win a chess match... or an election.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Sports Industry Execs: Don't be Godfrey Dupes

"The graveyards are full of indispensable men."

Charles De Gaulle
Military Leader & Statesman
1890-1970

We'll turn our attention to this morning's shameless Boss Godfrey endorsement piece, masquerading in this morning's Standard-Examiner edition as a "thank you" letter to the citizens of Ogden. What's apparent is that the Geiger boys have been hard at work again, rounding up signatures of sports company executives who've moved their operations to Ogden. We know that these nice folks have moved their companies here for a variety of reasons, including close proximity to mountains, lakes and streams, low labor costs, relatively cheap housing, and closely proximate highway, rail and air shipping infrastructure, among others. Nevertheless the Boss Godfrey Brownshirts who composed this piece have proceeded to twist the facts to suggest that all of these companies arrived here, due solely to the indispensable efforts of Blessed Boss Godfrey, Ogden's Economic Savior. In the case of Mike Dowse and Amer Sports, of course, there was the little matter of that fat $12 million tax incentive package, lavished upon his company thanks to the seemingly unending largess of those in the Governor's office who control the public public purse, (including a couple million of Emerald City tax dollars -- just to sweeten the pot.) Strangely, that part goes entirely unmentioned.

We're happy that people like Mike Dowse took the time to thank the citizens of Ogden for their support. Such thanks are quite overdue, we think. But we do have a few suggestions for people like Mike Dowse, whose multi-billion dollar multi-national companies companies are nevertheless on the public dole:

Keep a lower political profile; and butt out of our local politics.

Whether your aware of it or not, the lumpencitizens of Ogden are now in the process of kicking our little mayor to the political curb. In case you didn't notice, Boss Godfrey got trounced in last Tuesday's primary by a 3-2 margin; and we'll finish the job in November. The citizens have good reason to bring Godfrey's administration to an end, including, but not limited to: gross incompetence, malfeasance and cronyism.

We're glad you moved your sports companies here. For those of us who already lived here and already loved Emerald City, we viewed your decisions as a "no brainer." But leave our politics to us, Mike Dowse and friends. And we assure you you'll all love working with Mayor Van Hooser, once you get to know her. Once you do, we think you'll find that Matt Godfrey is nowhere near indispensable.

And turning to the article itself, we'd like to highlight these wonderful excepts:
"His (Godfrey's) energy in enhancing outdoor options for all includes a sincere vow to respect and protect the environment...

"We came on the awareness that this city has grown more... environmentally friendly during the past eight years."

We dang near fell out of our chair when we read those parts. Boss Godfrey, after all, spent the last two years scheming feverishly to pave over our east bench parklands, and plant 400+ McMansions in our pristine foothills, and over our existing trails.

We don't know what possessed these otherwise fine sports company folks to affix their signatures to a Boss Godfrey endorsement letter. Perhaps they're merely ignorant of the true facts.

In that connection, we suggest that they consult with another sports industry colleague, whose name was strikingly absent from this morning's endorsement. Peter Metcalf, a bona-fide Utah-based sports industry guy with whom we're sure you're all familiar, can provide some real information about Boss Godfreys so-called "environmentalist" credentials.

Talk to Peter Metcalf the next time Curt Geiger sticks a letter under your noses, our newly-arrived sports industry friends. That way you won't appear to be Godfrey dupes, as you appeared from the point of view of informed Ogden City citizens, upon reading this morning's Std-Ex.

Update 9/15/07 6:27 p.m. MT: Final Score: Utah Utes - 44; ULCA Bruins (#11 ranked) - 6. Go Utes!

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Key to Knocking Off Boss Godfrey in November

Time for Hansen and Van Hooser to start talking turkey

Yesterday's Standard-Examiner contained a short teaser which dang near kept us up all night with eager anticipation. "COMING FRIDAY - What is the key to the Ogden Mayoral race?" the Std-Ex sidebar blurb said. We always lose sleep whenever the Std-Ex political pundits promise a story that will explain "what's up."

Surely enough, and just as promised, the story was right there on the front page of our hard-copy front-porch edition this morning, under the banner headline: "The Ogden Divide."

And the "keys to the kingdom" that the Std-Ex promised to provide? (Drum-roll):

House Representative Hansen holds some mighty strong cards as we move toward the general election.

As our 17-year old nephew might have said, "Doh."

Breaking down the primary election numbers, we already know that two-term incumbent Boss Godfrey received only 40% of the primary vote, whereas the four anti-Godfrey challengers received a fat 60%. Somehow, however, the Standard-Examiner editors just can't bring themselves to mention that. Godfrey, who was polling at around a 40% approval rating in private polling eight weeks before the primary, hasn't budged in popularity in the succeeding period. Godfrey's campaign has obviously stalled, despite: a) the "deep sixing" of his goofy and wildly unpopular Golf Course Sale Plan, b) the planting of those thousands of prissy pastel $20 dollar lawn signs over every vacant property in Ogden, and c) the substantial "good ink" he got from the Std-Ex in the days preceding the primary election. Godfrey is obviously in deep political trouble, folks, but somehow the Std-Ex couldn't quite bring themselves to say THAT either.

Of the 6,863 total votes cast in the mayoral balloting, Hansen received 1,327 -- 19.34% -- more than enough to put Ms. Van Hooser over the top in November, especially with a Hansen endorsement, provided the campaign staffs in the Van Hooser and Hansen camps can get their respective acts together, and iron out joint and mutual commitments.

We were amused by these statements in this morning's Standard-Examiner, which, to us, sounded like the murmurings of a frightened little boy, whistling in the dark:
Godfrey also said it’s unlikely all of the voters who supported Hansen in the primary will cast ballots for Van Hooser in the general election.

"It never happens that way. It depends on the issues,” he said. “The general election is a very different animal than the primary.”
We have disturbing news for Boss Godfrey: The 60% of primary voters who voted for opposition candidates clearly reflected a decidedly anti-Godfrey sentiment which permeates the entire community. That general impediment is something we do not believe Boss Godfrey will be able to solve in the short 52 days leading up to the November election. Godfrey has been building animosity in the citizenry for years. No amount of campaign money or last-minute fancy footwork can turn that around, in our not so humble belief.

What's more, we believe the strength that Rep. Hansen demonstrated west of Harrison Boulevard is also strongly indicative of Hansen's strong pre-existing support from within his House District 9, where he's been elected to five (that's 5) straight state legislative terms. If anyone can deliver anything approaching a "block vote" with an endorsement -- it's Hansen.

So there are two strong factors operating against Boss Godfrey, especially in the "west of Harrison precincts": Generally-existing anti-Godfrey sentiment, and a block of District 9 voters who like and trust Neil Hansen.

We understand that "feelers" are already going out, to promote early negotiations between the Hansen and Van Hooser factions. The earlier these nice folks begin (and complete) negotiations the better, we suggest.

We'll also turn our attention to this morning's Standard-Examiner companion story, wherein Bryan Saxton reports that some council candidates in the city of Syracuse are unhappy about an obvious mayor-lapdog ticket, the menbers of which are plainly sharing campaign tactics and resources. Pro-mayor tickets are of course nothing new in northern Utah politics. Don't feel alone in this, Syracuse citizens. We have one of those lapdog tickets right here in Emerald City too:


Comments?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ogden For Rent

Emerald City USA gets caught in the last gasps of a American real estate speculation bubble

by Dan Schroeder

Last Saturday evening I came home to find one of Mayor Godfrey's campaign signs in my next-door neighbor's yard. I'm pretty sure Bob Geiger put it there: a friend of mine reported seeing him leaving the scene in his pickup a few hours earlier. The sign was placed only a few feet back from my property line, directly facing the forest of smaller signs in my own yard. I'm pleased to report that my Amy Wicks sign is still intact--as are the others.


Though I was a bit startled to suddenly find a large Godfrey sign so close to my property, I wasn't at all surprised. Like so many of the other houses currently displaying Godfrey campaign signs, this house is a rental. The most recent tenants, who stayed less than a year, had just moved out. They came back for the last of their belongings on Sunday, and confirmed that they had nothing to do with the sign going up.

It seems that the Godfrey campaign has received permission from a number of local realtors and property managers to place signs on their rental properties. Because many rental properties are located on high-traffic roads, this arrangement puts lots of Godfrey signs where people see them. It also amplifies Godfrey's perceived popularity, since a single property manager, who votes only once (at most), can proclaim his support of Godfrey from many locations. As the primary election has just demonstrated, Godfrey's overall support among voters falls far short of his support among property managers.

The interesting question, of course, is why Ogden's realtors and property managers are supporting Mayor Godfrey. Besides the placement of lawn signs, the local realtors association has supported Godfrey with a $5000 campaign contribution. Godfrey's level of support among realtors is far too high to attribute entirely to personal connections, or to a belief that he will reward those who support him, or to their just generally thinking he's a good mayor. It must be because they believe his policies are good for the real estate and rental business.

Unfortunately, what's good for the real estate and rental business isn't very good for the community as a whole. Realtors profit from high turnover rates--not from stable neighborhoods. They also profit from speculation, which drives prices artificially high (at least temporarily). Real estate speculators purchase owner-occupied houses and turn them into rentals while they hope for the market to rise. As the number of rental houses increases, the character of a neighborhood changes.

When I purchased my home in 1998 there was only one rental house on the whole block (Binford Street between Polk and Taylor). Since then the houses on both sides of mine have been converted to rentals, as has the next house to the east. The owners of all three of these houses live outside Utah. Although the renters have all been nice people (at least to me), their behavior doesn't always fit in with the rest of the neighborhood. Some keep odd hours and wake me in the middle of the night. Some can be heard screaming at each other on a regular basis. One backed into another neighbor's parked car the other day (and has no insurance). Another has a bumper sticker that you wouldn't want your kids to see as they walk to the elementary school, half a block away.

The yard with the Godfrey sign used to be the best-kept on the block. Now it's the worst. The perennial gardens have been mowed down, and weeds grow in their place. The house has fallen into disrepair and much of it needs a new paint job.

Although I don't have the statistics to prove it, it sure seems like the number of rental houses in my neighborhood has been increasing lately. "For rent" signs are sprouting up all along the east bench, where they used to be quite rare. Last spring I started photographing these signs, to document the transformation of my neighborhood. All of the photos shown here were taken above Harrison, between 21st Street and WSU.


It's tempting to blame Mayor Godfrey for the proliferation of "for rent" signs and the general increase in real estate speculation in my neighborhood--but that would be too simplistic. There are much larger forces at work here: the West's booming population and real estate market; the international focus on northern Utah during the 2002 Olympics; and the imminent arrival of the FrontRunner commuter train (which Godfrey supported, though it almost certainly would have happened without him). Given these conditions, an increase in real estate speculation was inevitable. But Godfrey has fanned the flames by touting Ogden as the "high adventure capital" of the West (or is it the world?), and by promising tremendous wealth to be gained by all when his mythical gondola is built. Last March, Bill Spain of Provident Partners (Scottsdale, AZ) told the City Council that the potential gondola was a key element in attracting real estate speculators to Ogden.

Meanwhile, most of us Ogden citizens would like to get on with our lives. We buy houses to live in them--not to get rich quick on a wave of real estate speculation. We want neighbors who stay more than a year, take care of their homes, and carry auto insurance. We want streets where children can play safely. And although we might not agree with the messages on all of our neighbors' yard signs, we'd prefer that they represent the views of the neighbors themselves.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Election 2007 Primary Results -- UPDATED

Brought to you by the modern day miracle of electrons zipping through tiny wires

As announced as an update to the previous article, the Ogden City IT Division will be making available tonight a web page-based site feed, with real-time updates of today's election results, as they roll in, straight from the "counting room."

We've previewed this web project this afternoon; and it really is quite cool. It's also much more robust than a simple vote tally:

In the left column you'll find the names of each candidate running for each contested municipal office, displayed with an assigned color and the current vote tally.

In the right column you'll find a city map, laid out by consolidated voter districts. Once all ballots have been counted in any consolidated district, the district "lights up" on the map, in the color corresponding to that candidate who got the most votes.

To save wear and tear on your mouse buttons, the page automatically refreshes at 30 second intervals, and displays the current results for each office, in a rotating loop.

Very cool, as we said.

A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to all those smart folks in the Ogden City IT Division.

The real-time site feed is available here.

Pull up your barca-loungers® and grab your popcorn, gentle readers.

And don't forget to return to Weber County Forum with your ever-intelligent comments and observations. Thanks to the folks in the Boss Godfrey's IT Division, we Emerald City political junkies are obviously in for an interesting evening.

Update 9/12/07 11:25 a.m. MT: Rather than interrupt the interesting post-primary discussion that's happening within the comments thread below, we link today's three Northern Utah print articles, which do a post-mortem examination of yesterday's primary results. Be sure to read Ace Reporter Schwebke's in-depth interview of unsuccessful mayoral candidate Doyle Sexton; and please do not miss Jeff DeMoss's council-race "journalistic masterpiece," wherein Mr. DeMoss limits his interviews and quotes to the Godfrey shills.

The best of the lot, and most welcome relief from the neoCON Sanduskey Suits and Std-Ex Godfrey Shills, of course, is this morning's Kristen Moulton article, wherein she scoops the Standard-Examiner yet again, demonstrating an actual ability to do arithmetic -- putting it in print for the first time that erstwhile two-term mayoral incumbent, Boss Godfrey, garnered only a pathetic 40% of yesterday's vote. We've also compiled the final vote tallies on one page, for gentle readers who would like to do their own "confirming" calculations.

Getting the Government We Deserve

A gentle reminder to get out and vote -- UPDATED

We toyed with this idea of running a stirring rah-rah piece this morning, dunning all Weber County Forum readers to get out and vote. After our 2+ year harangue however, during which we've discussed in detail the hundreds of reasons to oust Boss Godfrey and his ilk from the helm of Emerald City government, we believe we've said all that needs be said. We thus post a simple reminder. We've talked ourselves hoarse. It's now time for the lumpencitizens to "put up" or "shut up."

Today is primary election day. Please get out and vote.

Your blogmeister just returned from his Polk School polling place, where it appeared the election turnout is good so far. Over 200 voters had already cast their ballots in the six precincts there, upon his arrival at 9:15 a.m. It would appear that the citizens of Emerald City are in little need of inspirational reminders anyway.

If you haven't made it yet to your polling place, please make it your top priority today. If you're unsure of your polling place (many precincts have been strangely "juggled" this year) contact the Ogden city switchboard by phone at 629-8150, or the Weber County Clerk at 399-8400.

Do not wait until the last minute; allow sufficient time for possible long lines.

As is often said about our form of democratically elected representative government, "the citizens in our democracy get the government they deserve." At the close of this day we'll have chosen general election finalists, half of whom will be with us for the next four years. However this new leadership turns out, the government that they turn out to be -- be it good, bad, ugly or corrupt -- will be the government we deserve.

Imagine Boss Godfrey for four more years -- with a voter MANDATE.

Scary.

Update 9/11/07 2:58 p.m. MT: We've just received word that the gnomes in the Ogden City IT Department will be rigging up a feed to deliver real-time vote tallies of today's election vote, which will be viewable from your home computers. We're still not quite sure how this project will be structured; but be sure check back here. We'll definitely provide appropriate links or feeds from Weber County Forum, as soon as this project is up and running, just as we did for the 2005 General Election.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Not a Flock of Gullible and Forgetful Sheep

Holding the mayor to account for years of citizen abuse

With the primary election poll-opening less than 24 hours away, we begin this week's discussion with the text of a wonderful Standard-Examiner letter to the editor appearing in yesterday's edition. It's brief ; so we'll incorporate it in full:
It's election time, and suddenly our mayor has decided to listen to residents who've told him the sale of the Mount Ogden Park would seriously damage Ogden's trail system -- an astounding and puzzling change of heart considering that on Sept. 28, 2006, an Ogden resident asked Mr. Godfrey why he was trying to "force the gondola project down our throats." Mr. Godfrey said it was "...because everybody I talk to thinks its a really good idea."

I guess he meant everybody but the questioner and all the other Ogden residents who opposed the project.

Again, on May 16, 2006, at the Weber Center, our mayor declared he would be there promoting the Peterson project until he died.

I can't imagine a more clear declaration of intentions.

Heavens knows why Mr. Godfrey chose to push this highly divisive issue as far as he did. With so many projects we can agree on, why did he fight so hard for one that pitted neighbor against neighbor? The reasons may be hard to discern, but his single-minded devotion to the issue was not.

And now, with elections looming, he's changed his mind.

It's just too convenient. I beg you, citizens of Ogden, consider carefully what this man might do to our open space if we put him back in office. The recall process is long and difficult. It's time for someone who listens to all the people, all the time, to be our mayor.

Catherine Gerwels
Ogden
We couldn't have said it better ourselves. And we'll add that a promise from Boss Godfrey and a couple of bucks will get you a cappuccino at Grounds for Coffee this morning, tomorrow morning, or any other morning.

On the same topic, we're going to again highlight Dan Schroeder's excellent guest commentary, which also speaks about mayor Godfrey's true priorities.

We're calling it a guest commentary, although it really isn't that at all, because the Std-Ex editors declined to print the article in the first place, under circumstances that would have made Joe Stalin's propaganda minister blush. Professor Schroeder provides the details at the foot of today's article insert:

"This commentary was recently submitted to the Standard-Examiner. The editor agreed to publish it before the upcoming primary election only if Mayor Godfrey would write a companion column on a similar subject to run alongside. Godfrey declined to write such a column. I have therefore chosen to print and distribute this commentary at my own expense."

Shame on the Standard-Examiner, we say. Boss Godfrey has found a new way to impose press censorship, by simply "hiding out in his bunker" -- and the Standard-Examiner is complicit in this tactic.

Undaunted, the Dan Schroeder has on his own nickel now distributed this piece as a paid insert in this morning' Std-Ex edition; and we hope all Std-Ex readers have taken a good long look.

And we reiterate: Shame on the Standard-Examiner.

Boss Godfrey's pathological "gondola obsession" is a matter that brought the citizens of Ogden together like no other matter within recent memory. For two straight years, the Little Lord tormented the citizens of Emerald City with this lunatic pipe dream, a project that he arrogantly informed us "would happen," regardless of our objections. He labeled us "naysayers," "oppositionists" and "anti-progress." His Gondolist thugs demeaned us, mocked us and shouted us down at community meetings. We lumpencitizens nevertheless stood our ground. And then -- on the eve of an election -- Godfrey pretended he was listening to us.

We tremble with eager anticipation at the prospect of tomorrow's primary.

Time to show Boss Godfrey we're not a mere flock of gullible and forgetful sheep.

AdiĆ³s, Boss Godfrey. If all goes well, you won't make it past the primary.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Lurching From Mindless Fluffery to Near Excellence

Bits and pieces from the Sunday Standard-Examiner

By Curmudgeon

The morning's Standard-Examiner provides a fine example of the paper's exasperating inconsistency, its wild swings between competence and mind-numbing fluffery within the pages of the same issue.

Let's start with the good: There is a very interesting story by Joe Frazier headlined "Streetcars helping revive downtowns". Of course, it's a wire service story, not one by Std-Ex staff, but still, the editors get some chops for running it. Here are a few excerpts:

But they are making a comeback in several American cities, and more have plans in the wings, projects largely development-driven to revitalize sagging urban areas, and to serve a population segment, often baby boomers, choosing to move back to the cities and to simplify their lives when they do....
Most newer lines are less than five miles long, but transit officials in cities such as Portland, Little Rock, Tampa, Kenosha, Wis., Tacoma, Wash., and elsewhere, said they are making a difference in rejuvenating sagging urban areas. Charles Hales, senior vice president of the engineering firm HDR, which works on many streetcar projects, says as many as 60 American cities are in some stage of streetcar planning or development, “depending on how you count it....”
The new lines no longer are the commuter systems they once were. They are designed to lure people back into cities, keep them there, and perk up decaying, underused, and undertaxed, former industrial sites and similar areas. And it seems to be working.
Portland has seen about $2.5 billion in new construction, including 7,248 new housing units within three blocks of the line since the plan was announced in 1997.
In Little Rock, Ark., the figure is between $300 million and $400 million. “It is not the only reason (for the construction) but most developers admit the streetcar is one of the reasons,” said Keith Jones, who helped design the system there. “The line defines areas where things in the city are happening....”
Sixty cities, depending, on track [yes, pun intended] to revive downtowns via street car transit. But not Ogden, of course, because out Mayor, still in the grip of his weird flatland gondola delusion has prevented and is continuing to block the steps needed to start Ogden on the same path. Frazier's story is well worth the time.

Now for the not so good. The lead story in the Std-Ex this morning, by Mr. Schwebke, top of the front page, big headline, is this: "Ogden Hopefuls Confident." Here's the story's lead paragraph:

OGDEN — With just a couple of campaign days left, five mayoral candidates are confident they will cruise to victory in Tuesday’s primary election.

Then it goes on to quote each and every one of the five about how the voters are for them and they are confident of going through to victory in primary. [Well, four of the five anyway. I'm not quite sure what candidate Thompson told Mr. Schwebke: Thompson... is taking a decidedly low-key approach to the primary. He hasn’t actively campaigned. “I don’t go door-to-door,” he said. “I don’t introduce myself as running for mayor. People in my neighborhood wish me well, ask for a (campaign) sign, and might say they are voting for me. Not once, either knowing me or out of the blue, has anyone ever brought up issues or problems either for me or in regard to the city.”

Ah... ok. I guess. [English translations of what Mr. Thompson said would be gratefully received.]

The whole story is boilerplate pablum fluffery as far as election coverage goes. All the candidates are confident of victory two days from the vote. No! Stop the presses! Alert the media! Ranks right up there with "College of Cardinals Choose Catholic As Next Pope" or "Sun To Rise In East, Scientists Say!" Candidates confident of victory is the lead story in the paper, and the lead political story, two days before an election? Unbelievable.

Mr. Schwebke, by the way, has a much better article, also on the front page, headlined "Huntsville Tax Revolt Over Property Assessments".

Then, back to the good again, there's an interesting and thoughtful editorial headlined "The Fears of Poverty" on the editorial page.

It's the inconsistency of the Std-Ex that drives a newspaper junkie like me to distraction, the seemingly random lurches from the mindless fluffery of Candidates Confident of Victory to the substantive good work of Tax Revolt in Eden to, occasionally, excellence. No one can do excellent work every time all the time. But certainly Std-Ex readers can reasonably expect competent substantive work consistently, and not be subjected to the embarrassment of their home town daily making the lead story on a Sunday morning of election week "Candidates Confident of Victory."

Sigh....

Update 9/9/07 3:44 p.m. MT: We have an interesting discussion brewing in the lower comments section regarding this morning's Charlie Trentleman article, which bears signs of having been hacked to pieces, prior to this morning's publication. Have a look at it yourselves, gentle readers, and feel free to comment on whether this airy piece seems congruent with Mr. Trentelman's normally logical, internally consistent and polished work product. Frankly, we have our doubts. It appears to be a re-write to us.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Notes From Thoughtful Citizens and Godfrey-lackeys Alike

Also a Standard-Examiner election 2007 article

We'll lead off today with a three more excellent election-oriented citizen letters in this morning's Standard-Examiner, each of them offering analysis based on Boss Godfrey's proven performance, during his last four-year mayoral term. We'll then follow up briefly with a few other items.

Marian Evans puts the spotlight upon Godfrey's cronyism, reciting a list of incidences where Boss Godfrey has given special treatment to his special friends, then summarizing Godfrey's litany of publicly-observed misdeeds in her final paragraph: "It appears that Ogden is for sale to the highest bidder, as long as they are friends of the mayor."

Long-time civic activist Rulon Yorgason scores a two-bagger, drilling down on the mayor's thoroughly bogus "Godfrey the Crime-fighter" theme, and then picking up on the Friends of Matt (FOM) topic where Ms. Evans left off, noting the strong correlation between FOMs who have received special favors from Boss Godfrey, and the names appearing on his campaign kickback donors list.

Jackie Piper Slaughter takes us back to Boss Godfrey's secret gondola study debacle, which ultimately became the subject of a scathing Standard-Examiner editorial, strongly criticizing Boss Godfrey and his administration for the secretive and dishonorable behavior revealed in the 29-page series of GRAMA-produced emails, originally obtained by the Ogden Sierra Club's Dan Schroeder and later posted right here on this blog.

It's always a pleasure to read the letters from Std-Ex readers around election time, when thoughtful Emerald City citizens demonstrate themselves not to be the dumb and forgetful pack of sheep that Boss Godfrey and his pack of henchmen and cronies presume them to be.

On the other side of the coin, we find this Godfrey Campaign Letter Mill knock-off, where another Godfrey shill once again thoughtlessly hammers out the preposterous Godfreyite "debt is not debt" theme, with the once again repeated assertion that the Ogden City's Redevelopment Agency debt is really not Ogden City's responsibility.

In that connection we invite the sadly misinformed Mr. Ricardo Robles to read the material in Ogden City's own "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report," which reveals Emerald City's true level of debt, as of June of 2006. This material is of course written by Ogden City's "bean counters," and not Godfrey's paid campaign management team, leaving no doubt which information source we'll choose to believe. Within that report Mr. Robles will find this highly instructive language:
"OGDEN CITY, UTAH NOTES TO THE FINANCIAL STATEMENTS - Year Ended June 30, 2006 - NOTE 1. SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT ACCOUNTING POLICIES - "The accompanying financial statements include all activities of the City and Ogden Redevelopment Agency (RDA)....

"The RDA was included because the separate governing bodies of both entities are comprised of the same individuals and the City is financially accountable for the RDA."....

"C. Other organizations that, because of the nature and significance of their relationship with the primary government, exclusion from the reporting entity would render the financial statements misleading or incomplete... (Page 50) .

"Total Ogden City Outstanding Debt Last Three Fiscal Years (2004-06): $52,489,706, $56,467,598, $93,029,566" (Page 124) [emphasis added].
We suppose Mr. Robles's letter reveals something about certain less thoughtful other Ogden City folks: Godfreyite lemmings will attach their good names to dang near anything Boss Godfrey sticks under their noses for signature, so long as they can remain within the Godfrey inner circle.

In another letter, Boss Godfrey's Mt. Ogden Golf Course manager does an obvious campaign favor for his Boss, and reports that Boss Godfrey promises (scout's honor) NOT to sell the golf course. What he doesn't talk about, of course, is the acreage surrounding the course perimeter.

And we'll close up today's letters segment with an outstanding missive from mayoral candidate Neil Hansen's son Trever, who offers real life insight into why recently-reported lawn sign vandalism is not a trivial matter, at least from the point of view of campaign workers who expend great amounts of volunteer time and effort to help their candidates participate in our system of democratic elections.

There's also a Std-Ex campaign 2007 article of note. Thanks to the efforts of Dorothy Littrell (and Weber County Forum,) Boss Godfrey has apparently become aware of the legal requirement that he account for the $37 thousand and change left over from his 2003 campaign. His already-bloated $100,000 campaign war chest has thus swelled to an obscene $138 thousand -- three times greater than all other candidates combined -- which no doubt explains the forest of lawnsigns which are cluttering up neighborhoods from Harrisville to South Ogden. Enough with the lawnsigns already, Boss Godfrey. We get the point that you think you can buy this election.

Don't let the cat get yer tongues.

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