Friday, November 30, 2007

Infrastructure Improvements & Traffic Citation Quotas

Kicking Off a Friday Morning Open Topic Thread

In hindsight, we'll admit that we were probably remiss in our failure to provide a reminder of yesterday's city council "Water Horizons Workshop," which was held last night in the council chambers, wherein Emerald City citizens were invited to offer their comments on the results of the council's recently completed water, sewer and storm sewer rate study.

According to this morning's Ace Reporter Schwebke story, however, it appears that some "30 or so" Emerald City citizens nevertheless did manage to attend this event; and yet only a handful of these registered any objections.

Perhaps significantly, Godfreyite insider and Friend of Matt (FOM) G-Train Wilkerson, owner of nine Ogden rental properties, was among the small minority of attendees who were not happy with the council's proposed water infrastructure upgrades. Exhibiting the very worst self-serving qualities of an urban landlord, Ms. Wilkerson reportedly lodged this comment about the impending encroachment on her rental business bottom line:

"'That’s a big chunk of money if the landlord has to pay the bill,' she said."

Better, we suppose, that the citizens of Ogden (including Ms. Wilkerson's tenants) should continue to limp along with a hopelessly dilapidated water system (and stinky water), in order to protect Ms. Wilkerson's profit margin.

We'll add that we've occasionally criticized our city council, for their slavish acquiescence to Boss Godfrey's agenda, and their failure to enact programs and ordinances on their own initiative. It's in this connection that we congratulate our city council for their forceful and focused effort to bring these long overdue infrastructure upgrades to a stage of near fruition. They did this all on their own, without so much as an iota of help from our Precious Boss Godfrey.

And in view of Representative Hansen's newly revived Traffic Citation Quota Bill, which would ban numeric ticket quotas all over Utah, the naysayers are already lining up their opposition; and this morning we find two editorial page items from folks who believe it's quite alright to use traffic citations as a major source of municipal revenue:

First we'll highlight this morning's Op-ed piece by Roy City police chief Greg Whinham whose main argument revolves around the strange proposition that without numeric quotas, his officers will refuse to enforce the traffic laws because -- get this --"traffic enforcement is not fun." The undercurrent to this, of course, is that Chief Whinham believes the officers under his command are unprofessional; which is a helluva strange theme to be hearing from the man in charge of an urban Utah police agency, we think.

Secondly we were astounded by this Doug Stephens letter, in which the author suggests, with an apparently straight face, that Representative Hansen's legislative effort, which will be brought before the Utah state legislature for the second straight year, is some kind of defeated mayoral candidate revenge.

We're going to assume, unless and until we're proven wrong, that this particular Doug Stephens is NOT the Doug Stephens who is a presently-sitting council member on our Ogden City Council, for we KNOW that nobody on our council could possibly be so ill-informed.

That's it for now gentle readers. The floor is open. Feel free to discuss any of the above stories, or treat this thread as open topic.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

More About the Proposed Powder Mountain Rezone Request

America Holdings' mega fatcat ski resort/golf course proposal remains on the Weber County planning front-burner

There are a couple of political storms raging in east Weber County, each of which we've mentioned briefly within the past week. We referred to the Ogden Valley Property Tax Revolt in our WCF article on Sunday, and to the Powder Mountain rezoning proposal in yesterday's WCF article.

The Salt Lake Tribune has an article today updating the latter story, wherein Kristen Moulton reports that the rezoning proposal, which was tabled by the Ogden Valley Township Planning Commission on Tuesday, is set for further discussion this evening. We incorporate Ms. Moulton's pertinent paragraphs below:

OGDEN - Powder Mountain's new owners, who want to transform it into a world-class resort, will have to wait a few more weeks to learn if planning commissioners will back their effort to rezone 4,400 mountaintop acres.

After more than four hours of testimony - most of it from Ogden Valley residents opposed to the rezoning - the Ogden Valley Township Planning Commission tabled the proposal Tuesday night.

The panel will reconsider it today. ...

Opponents of the rezoning raised a host of issues, including the steep grade of Powder Mountain's only paved access road and whether Ogden Valley wants a mountaintop golf-and-ski community that could affect watersheds, wildlife habitat and traffic congestion.
While this is a story that hasn't been discussed in any great depth on Weber County Forum, we are certain that at least a few of our readers may have some sympathy with our neighbors to the east, who are seemingly having this project shoved down their throats. Moreover, we're sure that at least some of our readers, who ski and snowboard at the currently user friendly Powder Mountain Area, will believe they have a stake in this matter.

For more information on the key issues, we provide a link to a great east county blog, Ogden Valley Utah Forum, where interested readers can find detailed information about the issues in dispute.

As a convenience to interested readers we also link here the full text of the subject re-zoning proposal.

And for those readers who may have reticence about meddling in the affairs of our neighboring communities, we'll note that it's a little late for that, inasmuch as one of our own "development at all costs" Ogden characters has already been meddling full steam, through the merciless use of his infamous multi-colored/multi-fonted email spam, to tip the balance of political power in favor of the resort developers.

Tonight's planning commission session is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. in the Weber County Commission Chambers, 2380 Washington Blvd., Ogden. We hope some of our interested readers will plan to attend. And for those WCForum denizens who may be unable to be there, we provide an email link to Scott Mendoza of the Weber County planning staff: smendoza@co.weber.ut.us

Update 11/30/07 7:55 a.m. MT: The Standard-Examiner has a story about the results of last night's Ogden Valley Planning Commission meeting, in which Marshall Thompson reports that the commissioners have laid out a list of conditions precedent to the grant on commission approval. Among these would be the construction by the developer of a second access road. There appear to be two options which have been considered by the developer, either of which could be a deal-breaker. A road to the east of the development (which is apparently subject to an existing right of way) would cross an existing conservation easement, which would invite litigation from adjoining property owners. A road to the north into Cache County has been all but ruled out by Cache County officials, due to strong opposition from Cache County citizens.

A second reported condition, a required "buffer zone" between resort residential properties and the resort boundary (adjacent to state wildlife and federal lands) may raise a conflict of interest with one of the commissioners, Jamie Lythgoe, a grand-daughter of the original grantor (the Cobabe family), who retains a property interest in a 215 acre parcel which is apparently situated within the buffer zone. Although Ms. Lythgoe evidently went to significant lengths to ensure that no conflict of interest existed with respect to the resort property, the existence of her interest in the buffer zone property again raises the question of whether Ms. Lythgoe should be recused from the planning process with respect to this proposed development.

The matter has been reportedly continued for further hearing on December 10; and the commission will consider additional citizen input up to 10:00 a.m. next Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Don't Get Your Panties in a Bunch

An admonition against knee-jerk reactions

We find three very interesting items in this morning's Standard-Examiner, the most interesting of which by far is this morning's Ace Reporter Schwebke story, reporting that the Utah ACLU is in the process of preparing a GRAMA documents production request, in connection with its ongoing investigation of voting irregularities in last month's mayoral election. We incorporate here the lead paragraphs of this morning's story:
OGDEN — The ACLU says it will file a public records request in the next several days because its attempt to investigate complaints of voting irregularities in last month’s Ogden mayoral election has been rebuffed by the Weber County Clerk’s Office.
The records request will be made to obtain information from Weber County Clerk/Auditor Alan D. McEwan, who has "refused" to meet with ACLU officials until mid-December, said Marina Lowe, staff attorney for the ACLU of Utah, based in Salt Lake City.
McEwan’s apparent unwillingness to talk with the ACLU about the integrity of the election is perplexing, Lowe said.
“I’m surprised he’s not willing to have a forthright discussion with us,” she said in a Tuesday phone interview.
McEwan could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Schwebke's article goes on to extract language from Mr. McEwan's November 20 press statement, which could lead the cynical among us to conclude that Mr. McEwan's office is stonewalling the ACLU:
However, in a written statement issued on issued last week, McEwan said his office doesn’t intend 'to expend further county resources and taxpayer dollars to appease a very few disgruntled people who have their own agendas or selfserving issues.'
We live in a political climate, gentle readers, wherein it seems we're all inclined to project the most sinister possible motives upon any public official who doesn't immediately come forth to demonstrate a commitment to open and transparent government. We're usually well aboard that bandwagon ourselves. In this instance however, we'll urge our readers to avoid drawing negative conclusions regarding this story until all facts are out in the open -- which they will be very soon. All we can say at this time is that we are in possession of information, obtained confidentially, which will make Mr. McEwan's knee-jerk detractors feel pretty silly once the true facts are revealed. For now you'll have to take our word for it, and we therefore urge you all to try to avoid "getting your panties in a bunch."

We'll also briefly highlight a story from the Std-Ex "Outdoors" section, entitled "Ogden Ice Tower plans taking shape," wherein Robert Johnson reports "somebody" (the Std-Ex doesn't precisely specify whom) will soon be erecting a giant freezer building on the corner of 25th and Kiesel avenue, to enclose Jeff Lowe's giant one of a kind Ice Tower. From this article we get these perplexing and paradoxical quotes:
“On all sides, except for fundraising, things are going well,” Ogden Chief Administrative Officer John Patterson said.
The final cost for the tower is still to be determined, but is estimated to be just more than $1 million. RAMP funds will contribute $200,000, but must be used within one year of the date issued unless an extension is granted.
Private donations from Lowe total about $100,000, according to Patterson. Ogden City is contributing $50,000 and an unnamed foundation may offer $250,000, although the foundation has not yet committed, according to Patterson.
Patterson is not worried about the progress of the tower and is confident that it will be built.
“It is going to go up. It will be built,” Patterson said. “It has the ability to pay for itself.”
From the forgoing it seems quite clear to us that this project bears the stamp of the always-optimistic Boss Godfrey Administration. These jokers have no clear idea how much it will cost or where the funding will come from... yet people like John Patterson are confident it will "pay for itself." And we're also wondering aloud: How did $200,000 in RAMP funds get committed to this project?

Hooboy.

Finally, we'll briefly put the spotlight on this morning's Std-Ex article, wherein Marshall Thompson reports that the Powder Mountain expansion project, a project designed to build out the largest ski area in America, has temporarily stalled. And while the folks in Weber and Cache counties debate the merits of another mega-ski area, we in Ogden City will soon be focused again on our own home town "rinky-dink" resort.

Yes gentle readers, we are informed this morning by several reliable sources that Boss Godfrey has put Chris Peterson's "Malan's Basin" project (and his accompanying gondola systems) "back on the table." According to reliable sources, Boss Godfrey broke this good news to council chairman Garcia earlier this week, and Garcia passed this information on the council last night.

Perhaps that would explain the helicopters which have been buzzing around Malan's Peak for the past couple of days, with a passenger, plainly identifiable in the passengers' seat, wearing a Patagonia vest.

Update 11/29/07 10:16 a.m. MT: Ace reporter Schwebke this morning corroborates yesterday's report, i.e., that Boss Godfrey's Malan's Basin Resort/Gondola obsession still remains on the table -- we think. Strangely, Boss Godfrey admits that "the gondola" is still "on the radar," but denies he ever had a conversation on the subject with council chair Garcia. Is Godfrey suggesting Garcia made the whole thing up? Weird -- even for the sometimes "reality-challenged" Boss Godfrey.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hanging Public Safety Hopes on the Federal Lottery Crap Shoot

Just Another Humble Servant

After reading the article in yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune “Ogden Fire Department hopes demographics will loosen feds purse strings” I have been doing some lamenting about the actual conditions and the commitment of the Ogden City administration to public safety.

The article explains that Ogden is placing hope on the federal lottery crap shoot that they will receive federal grants to help replace aging fire apparatus, and staffing. The grants are a help to the fire departments across the country, however it is luck of the draw to receive the grants. Ogden Fire Department in my opinion has been lucky so far given the fact that the apparatus and staffing levels are below national NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standards.

The apparatus (Fire Engines) that are currently in use in the Ogden Fire Department, according to the recent Citygate Associates studies commissioned by the City Council at a cost of approximately $53,000.00, are old and have high mileage. Consequently, Ogden cannot ensure safe functional vehicles to respond to emergency situations.

I know first hand that many times the apparatus have not been able to respond due to mechanical problems, or if they do happen to arrive on scene often times they cannot pump water, that’s assuming a reliable water supply is available. There are several times that during a fire some of the engines would just stop pumping water. The mechanical problems are only compounded by the fact that the City’s fleet department has no certified mechanics to work on fire apparatus.

The audit also points out that the staffing is “very thin” to guarantee strong firefighting response during periods when medical calls for service are high.

There are four ambulances, three Paramedic units in Ogden City; the fire department provides medical service to a large portion of Weber County. When these medical units are in service on medical calls it places a strain on staffing for firefighting operations. If all of the medical units are busy, approximately half of the on duty firefighters will not be available to respond to perform necessary functions on a fire ground.

The Fire engines are staffed with three firefighters excluding engine four in west Ogden which is staffed with two firefighters, The NFPA standards require four firefighters per engine.

Many of the fire hydrants in the city are not reliable, either broken or not accessible for use at a fire scene. Testing and maintenance of the hydrants have been neglected because of staffing and funding short falls in the water works department.

Also in the report from Citygate is the ability to attract, retain and train firefighters, the audit also added “the entry-level turnover" is indicative of something seriously wrong with the management, leadership and/or hiring practices of the city and department.

The Fire Department has one of the most stringent requirements that a new hire candidate must meet before applying and testing with the fire department. Certifications include Utah State firefighter 1 & 2, Utah State EMT Basic, Haz-mat ops & awareness. The certifications are good, but many times the candidates are not experienced in the fire service, they are placed “on the line” without any training in Ogden’s procedures and equipment. The audit also recommends a full time training and safety officer be added to the department.

The fire stations are mentioned as being tired and worn needing many repairs, with the suggestion of replacement of station 3 on 3rd and Washington, as being cramped and old recommending replacement and remodel of other stations.

I wonder why the Standard-Examiner has not picked up on the report that is not really news; the report has been completed since spring of this year. Could it be that with the endorsement of the incumbent by the Standard-Examiner, they don’t want any more egg on their faces? I believe that the conditions of the Ogden Fire Department are something that the public needs to know about. In my opinion the fire department is in no better condition than the infrastructure of the city because of years of neglect by the Godfrey administration. Mayor Godfrey feels that the City should be run like a business, but he fails to realize that public safety is part of the City’s business; I guess it’s just not cool and sexy to spend money on public safety.

Is it any wonder why the firefighters have not endorsed Mayor Godfrey’s election bids, when he has neglected the fire department for so many years?

The Firefighters of Ogden City will continue to perform their duties to the best of their abilities in a professional manor with the limited resources provided by the City Administration. My only hope is that our luck does not run out, my prayers are with my brothers and sisters in the fire department and the citizens that they serve and protect.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Monday Morning Emerald City Heads-Up

Three interesting items from this morning's Standard-Examiner editorial page

By Curmudgeon

Just a quick heads up on several Standard-Examiner items this morning before I'm off to grade papers [crushing youthful hopes and dreams... God, I love teaching!]

First, an editorial on the "election follies" in Weber County makes a couple of good points. Notably that Weber County election officials' claims that the problem is that the state does not keep voting rolls current loses a lot of its credibility when we note that other counties didn't seem to have the same problem... large numbers of voters whose names could not be found on the county's election rolls... that Weber County did. The editorial ends this way:

Weber simply dropped the ball. County Clerk/Auditor Alan McEwan needs to own up to his office's shortcomings and do some house-cleaning. After that, job No. 1 will be to make sure his staff's training regimen is improved before voters next visit to their polling places for the Feb. 5 presidential primary. If this nonsense happens again, the heads should keep rolling until the job's done right.
Fine conclusion, but I can't shake the sneaking suspicion that what really has the Std-Ex ticked off is the County Clerk's decision to stonewall the press [and the ACLU], backed by County Commissioner Jan Zogmeister, on the grounds that the Clerk is just too busy preparing for an election months away to talk to anybody about the last election. But hey, if the Std-Ex has a hidden agenda in its criticism of county officials, that matters less than that it reached, for whatever reason, the right conclusion. Good editorial.

Second, two good letters to the editor today. One by Chris Hansen makes this excellent point:

Ardent supporters of the Ogden mayor have been arguing over the past several years that opposition to many of his proposals has been by a very few, select naysayers. I hope the election put that notion to rest for good. Nearly half of Ogden voted against the mayor, despite 1) the mayor's enormous financial advantage over his opponent Susan Van Hooser; 2) the newspaper's glowing recommendation of him; 3) his supporters' use of questionable tactics; and 4) the fact that he's an incumbent.
The second letter, by Lynette Belka, makes some very good points too, among which is this one:
Because the Standard-Examiner has a very big voice in local politics, we hope in the next four years it will decide to better serve Ogden city by more thoroughly questioning, in my opinion, the mayor's projects and press releases.
Amen to that.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Weber County Forum Sunday Brunch

Three menu items from this morning's news

We find three interesting WCF-topical articles in this morning's northern Utah newspapers.

First, we'll shine the spotlight on this Standard-Examiner piece, in which Ace Reporter Schwebke informs us that the current city council has apparently passed the transit corridor selection baton to the newly elected city council:
OGDEN — Prioritization of potential transit corridors in Ogden may occur in January after two new city council members take office, says John Patterson, the city’s chief administrative officer.
Newly elected council members Caitlin Gochnour and Blain Johnson will likely want to have a say in which corridors should be addressed, Patterson said.

“It will give them a chance to get on board.”
The article reports that the corridor selection process remains bogged down, with eight purported corridor options proposed by Boss Godfrey in October:
In October, Godfrey presented the city council with a proposal detailing eight possible transit-corridor destinations that could be linked with the city’s intermodal transit hub at 23rd Street and Wall Avenue, scheduled to be served by the Front-Runner commuter rail system.

That list will likely be whittled down to three destinations to be considered by the city council and administration, Godfrey has said.
The eight purported corridor options were earlier set forth in an October 18 Std-Ex article; and we subsequently had a fairly robust blog comments discussion here on WCF re this topic on the same date.

With a little under six weeks lead time, we think it's time for all of us to bone up on the facts, and to begin preparing our persuasive arguments against those "options" which are plainly bogus, and in favor of the single one that's not.

In that connection we link a Smart Growth Ogden webpage on transit options. This page also has a link to the Baker Study, which we deem to contain the only reliable and non-speculative data on the subject.

We'll also direct our readers' attention to this morning's Std-Ex story, in which Sam Cooper reports that the city council has recommended securing the final link-ups for our trails system. Rather than spending money paving existing trails piecemeal, the council seems committed (wisely we think) to obtaining necessary easements and rights of way first.

Finally, we note this Deseret News article, wherein reporters Joseph M. Dougherty and Amy Choate-Nielsen report on the most recently publcized legislative effort to take the anger and angst out of the ongoing Ogden Valley Property Tax Revolt. As many of our readers are aware, our Weber County neighbors to the east (and select other places in Utah) were clobbered this year with massive property tax increases, resulting in large part from the sudden "gentrification" of that formerly semi-rural area. Although residents of Emerald City have so far been spared most of the pain that comes with sudden leaps in appraised property valuations, we think we all need to keep our eyes on this story, as Boss Godfrey continues to build-out our town, in his manic pro-development fervor. We believe property tax reform will be one of the biggest stories of the 2008 legislative session, and that every property owner in Utah needs to pay careful attention to property tax reform. We'll therefore definitely be closely following this story in the months to come.

That's it for this relatively slow news Sunday, gentle readers. Your ever-brilliant comments are encouraged, as always.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hansen to Fight Ticket Quotas in the 2008 Legislative Session - UPDATED

At least one elected official seems willing to look after the interests of the citizens of Ogden

It's the Thanksgiving holiday; and we originally planned to take the day off from blogging, and to use this day to recharge our blogmeister batteries. This afternoon, however, we've become aware of a Weber County Forum topical news story which is breaking on a couple of local broadcast news stations, ABC News Channel 4 and KUTV Channel 2:

Utah Legislator wants ticket quotas abolished
Legislator Says Traffic Tickets Are Municipal Cash Cows.

Yesiree, gentle readers, it's Utah House Legislative District 9 State Representative Neil Hansen who's again spearheading the legislative effort to abolish Utah municipalities' random citizen traffic tax again this year; and it appears (according to our own Capitol Hill sources) that Rep. Hansen will have bipartisan support for his bill during the upcoming 2008 legislative session.

Emerald City's existing ticket quota system has of course been a pet peeve of ours since at least as early as the summer of 2005. We believe Emerald City's ticket quota system is an insult to our citizens and police officers alike.

A Weber County Forum Tip O' The Hat this Thanksgiving day to Rep. Neil Hansen, for his continuing efforts to look after the interests of the lumpencitizens of Ogden.

Update 11/23/07 8:48 a.m. MT: Both the Standard-Examiner and Salt Lake Tribune feature this morning the full text of yesterday's broadcast media "ticket quota" story, which apparently originated with the AP Wire Service.

Interestingly, Chief Jon Greiner is quoted as saying that Rep. Hansen "doesn't have any proof of a quota system in Utah;" yet he also admits, paradoxically, that the "department uses the number of citations issued by an officer as part of an annual job review." Here's the documentary proof, from the OPD's own Performance Evaluation (PEP) sheet, gentle readers (see Citations Section, page three, bottom of left column), wherein the number of citations issued is one of more than a dozen criteria the department uses to evaluate performance of Ogden City Police Officers.

We think Hansen's bill will get some real traction in the legislature in the upcoming legislative session. Paul Rolley has been recently raising citizen awareness of the pervasive "ticket quota" problem with recent articles here and here. Not only that, but 2008 is a general election year, where legislators on both sides of the aisle will be posturing as "men and women of the people." What's more, your blogmeister has received reliable information that at least one State Legislative GOP heavyweight is interested on co-sponsoring Hansen's bill.

Smooth sailing? We don't know. But we do believe Representative Hansen's bill will get a lot more favorable attention this year than last.

Update 11/23/07 10:13 a.m. MT: Pursuant to the request of several of our gentle readers, we link here the full text of Rep. Hansen's HB-255, which passed in the House during last year's general legislative session, but narrowly failed in Senate committee, by a 2-2 vote. We have spoken with Representative Hansen about this, and he informs us that this year's bill will be identical in form, without textual revision.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More Strange News From MattGodfreyWorld

And no -- we haven't been goofing off all morning

For those of us who have remained in doubt whether Boss Godfrey's third administration will be more "kind and gentle" than his last two administrations, all doubt seems to have been removed this morning, with this morning's Ace Reporter Schwebke story, "Godfrey seeks new faces on committees." In his typically ham-handed manner, Boss Godfrey announced in a press release yesterday that heads will roll within the numerous volunteer advisory boards, committees and commissions which attend to a myriad of details throughout Emerald City, such as arts, multicultural affairs and historic preservation. We incorporate below pertinent paragraphs from Mr. Schwebke's story:

OGDEN — Mayor Matthew Godfrey plans to replace members of city advisory committees who have served for a decade or more, to open the door for a new crop of volunteers.
Godfrey hopes to have new committee members in place in January. Committee appointments recommended by Godfrey must be approved by the city council.
Godfrey estimated Tuesday night that about a dozen committee members will be replaced.
The obvious end result, assuming Godfrey follows through with this plan, will be the loss to Emerald City of the most experienced citizen volunteers from a variety of voluntary advisory boards. Dedicated Ogden city citizens who have mastered the steep learning curves that go along with the missions of these boards, committees and commissions -- will be replaced by malleable new volunteers, with philosophies more amenable to Boss Godfrey's own "visions," shall we say, ever so politely.

We've had animated discussions over the past few hours with some of the folks who will be adversely affected by Boss Godfrey's latest power grab/purge. The question has arisen whether Godfrey has the legal authority to remove long-time board members midway through their terms of office.

The answer, folks, seems to be that Boss Godfrey does indeed have the power to do this, in which connection we cite Ogden City Code Section 3-2-1. We've highlighted the operative provisions in red, and set forth the most important statutory language below:

"... J.Removal From Office: Board members may be removed from office at any time by the mayor, without cause."

Buckle up lumpencitizens of Emerald City. It's obviously going to be a long and rocky four years.

On another note, we'll highlight this morning another story from the Std-Ex "Outdoors Section," which observes the January opening of Weber State University's new indoor "climbing wall." Salomon Center master tenant Gary Nielson (Gold's Gym) is obviously not happy about this development; and grouses mightily about government entities who compete with "private businesses" like his. Be sure to read this delightful article, gentle readers, in which Utah GOP Senator and Utah Taxpayers' Association watchdog Howard Stephensen gives Mr. Nielsen a well-justified comeuppance.

“It’s the People’s Republic of Ogden,” says Stephenson.

Dang do we ever love the politics of Emerald City. Nobody could make this stuff up.

In closing, we'll apologize for the late posting of today's article. The Std-Ex digital edition website experienced some apparent problems this morning, and came back on line only a few minutes ago.

The floor is now open for your gentle comments.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The ACLU Looks Into Emerald City Election 2007 "Irregularities"

Lots of "good stuff" in our northern Utah newspapers today

We find a whole truckload of interesting stories on the pages of our northern Utah newspapers this morning. We'll highlight a few of the more interesting ones.

The Standard-Examiner, Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret Morning News all report on the latest development in the Emerald City election 2007 debacle, i.e., that the Utah ACLU is now investigating election irregularities. We're short on time this morning and have a busy calender today, so we'll simply cut to the chase, and incorporate the pertinent text from the ACLU's November 19 press release on the subject:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah will be looking into complaints it has received regarding election irregularities in the November 6th mayoral race in Ogden, Utah, as it considers potential action.

“We have received complaints of election irregularities including inappropriate use of voter challenges, denial of provisional ballots, intimidation of voters and electioneering at the polling places,” states Karen McCreary, Executive Director. “If substantiated, these actions not only undermine the trust and confidence Utah voters should have in the electoral process but they also violate the Utah constitution and state law.”

The ACLU of Utah is seeking information from any one who encountered problems voting in the Ogden mayoral election on election day or who observed incidents in which fellow voters were discouraged from voting.

Information should be directed via email to aclu@acluutah.org or by phone to 801-521-9862, extension 101.
It seems to us that the ACLU is the ideal law office to represent the interests of Emerald City citizens who might have gripes about their treatment during our November 6 polling. The ACLU has the necessary resources to properly investigate and prosecute election misconduct; and of course voter rights cases are right up their alley. We thus suggest that any Emerald City citizens who believe they have a grievance about their treatment at local polling places, to immediately contact the ACLU in the manner above-indicated. This is just speculation on our part, but we believe ACLU counsel would be particularly interested in evidence of instances where prospective voters were denied provisional ballots. Folks who were simply told they could not vote, and were entirely turned away at the polls without being offered a provisional ballot, are the single class of aggrieved citizens for whom election officials have no paper trail.

We'll also highlight this morning's Std-Ex editorial, in which our intrepid Std-Ex editors examine ongoing efforts at the state legislature, to patch up our Utah campaign finance disclosure laws. Among the provisions being contemplated for proposed remedial legislation would be "tough" cash penalties for the misreporting of campaign donations. As we witnessed in the past election cycle, our newly-elected "Precious Charcter" entirely failed to report a $38,000 carry-over from his 2003 mayoral campaign on his initially-filed 2007 disclosure statement. The legislature's Political Subdivisions Interim Subcommittee is reportedly considering a new penalty of up to 5% for such misreported donations. We'll leave it to our gentle readers to do the math.

Finally, we'll direct our readers' attention to a story from today's Std-Ex business page, wherein Ace Reporter Schwebke gleefully reports that an "Ogden River plan [is] coming." This plan will reportedly be announced by Friend of Matt (FOM) Gadi Leshem on December 7. We'll note that it's unusual for California felony criminal defendants to be allowed to leave the state of California during the pendency of criminal proceedings, so we suppose Gadi will be the guy wearing the ankle bracelet. As an added bonus to Weber County Democrats (all five of you) who may wish to attend this announcement event, Ace Reporter Schwebke reports that Gadi will also have donkey icon Robert F. Kennedy in tow, presumably to reassure the lumpencitizens that Gadi isn't such a bad guy after all -- once you get to know him. Further down the article Mr. Schwebke reports that Gadi's River Project will be completed within seven years. If all goes well, we guess, Boss Godfrey's "bestest buddy" Gadi will be out of the San Quentin slam by then.

That's it today from us, gentle readers. We'll rely upon the rest of you to fill in the blanks from here.

Update 11/20/07 9:39 a.m. MT: Within minutes of the publication of today's front page article, Gentle Curmudgeon posted a main article length comment to the comments section of our lower article. We've uploaded it to our archives pages, and accordingly link Curmudgeon's expanded "take" on this morning's stories here. Consider it a Tuesday morning "two-fer" bonus.

Update 11/21/07 10:32 a.m. MT: This morning's Std-Ex has a followup on the ACLU story.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Shame on the Standard-Examiner

Our home town newspaper reports an important election story -- nineteen days late

Nearly two weeks post election, the Standard-Examiner finally gets around to reporting to the general public this morning a piece of highly election-relevant information which, if it had been reported in a timely manner prior to the election, might arguably have tipped the mayoral race in favor of defeated mayoral challenger Susan Van Hooser. At the very least, failure to timely report the matter contained therein deprived the Std-Ex's readership of full knowlege of the facts and issues surrounding the November 6 general election. We incorporate below the opening paragraphs from today's Top of Utah section story:
OGDEN — A local organization says a declaration signed by Mayor Matthew Godfrey will not permanently protect Mount Ogden Golf Course and an adjoining city-owned park from development.
Smart Growth Ogden said in a prepared statement it appreciates Godfrey’s “good intentions” but contends the declaration doesn’t guarantee the property will remain as open space.
"I hope the mayor is going to stand by his intent to ensure that the entire park complex, including the golf course, the undeveloped park land and open space, will be protected from development and saved for perpetual use by the general population of Ogden,” said Sandy Crosland, a member of Smart Growth. “Many people in Ogden decided to vote to re-elect him based on that promise and commitment.” [Emphasis added.]

As our gentle readers will recall, on or about October 25, 2007, Mayor Godfrey executed and recorded (ostensibly) a document entitled "Declaration of Covenents, Conditions and Restrictions for Mt. Ogden Park and Golf Course" (the "declaration" mentioned in the preceding Std-Ex paragraphs.)

Shortly thereafter, on or about November 1, 2007, members of Smart Growth Ogden published and circulated a document entitled "Mayor's Declaration Does Not Protect Park In Perpetuity," (the "prepared statement" mentioned in the preceding Std-Ex paragraphs.) We are informed by reliable sources that the Std-Ex was in possession of this document no later than November 1, a full four days prior to the election. The gist of the SGO document, of course, is that Boss Godfrey's "Declaration," isn't worth the paper it's printed upon.

Although the Std-Ex was in possession of Smart Growth Ogden's (SGO's)"prepared statement" well in advance of the November 6 election, the Std-Ex publisher saw fit to conceal and suppress this information until this very morning. In the interim between actual receipt of this document and the November 6 election, the Standard Examiner apparently did nothing to verify the information or confirm or rebut the opinions set forth therein. Until this very morning, the Std-Ex did not so much as mention it at all. This information was highly material to the 2007 mayor election; yet the Std-Ex saw fit to keep a lid on it until this morning, at which point it now becomes a mere historical footnote.

As Emerald City's sole general circulation newspaper, the Standard-Examiner occupies a position of trust in our community, with a solemn obligation to neutrally report all news which materially effects our community. This obligation is all the more important with respect to issues effecting our municipal elections, of course.

We believe the Standard-Examiner has grossly breached this obligation in connection with this matter. In its failure and refusal to report on this matter in a timely fashion, and in its active concealment of the issues contained within SGO's prepared statement, the Standard-Examiner has let down our entire community, and revealed itself as a publication entirely unworthy of our trust.

The Std-Ex writes a new chapter on the topic of bad journalism this morning, with this self-revealed abuse of its journalistic privilege.

Shame on the Standard-Examiner.

Shame on the carpet-bagging "Suits from Sandusky."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Three Interesting Stories for an Emerald City Sunday Afternoon

Plus a few words about the Utah GOP's weird "Voucher Obsession."

Although we'd planned to lazily cruise through the whole weekend on the strength of yesterday's open thread, the hard-working crews on the top three three northern Utah newspapers wouldn't permit that. We thus link today's three breaking Emerald-City-significant stories below:

1) This from our lower article comments section, courtesy of gentle reader Ogden Lover: "Wow! Rebecca Walsh has done a superlative analysis of our Mayoral election in today's SL Trib. Standard Examiner, this is what you should be doing!"

We thank OgdenLover for the story tip. As Emerald City post election 2007 articles go, we consider Ms. Walsh's piece to be the Gold Standard so far.

2) Gentle reader Sharon tips us off to this morning's Deseret News Godfrey fluff masterpiece, in which the "thrifty" little bounder who drives the '92 Nissan overcompensates for his personal financial prudence, by spending the taxpayers' money (other peoples' money) like a drunken sailor. Perhaps the amateur psychologists in our midst will step up today and explain Boss Godfrey's possibly "schizoid" behavior.

3) For those readers still fixated on the nuts-and bolt errors in our November 6 election, DO NOT MISS this fantastic Marshall Thompson piece, in which Std-Ex reporter Thompson digs in, interviews experts, cross compares the statements of folks from the Governor's office down to regular street folks, and provides a wonderful overview of the series of glitches which, operating in conjunction, transformed Election 2007 into one of the most strange in Weber County history.

4) And as an added bonus we'll highlight this morning's Standard-Examiner editorial, in which Lee Carter's paid editorial mouthpieces get closer to the truth than they have in any editorial in the weeks, from which we incorporate a few pertinent paragraphs below:
Eight days. That’s how long it took for ham-handed voucher supporters in the Legislature to strike back after their 63 percent to 37 percent flaying at the polls on Election Day. They’ve resurrected last year’s defeated effort to nearly double the size of the State School Board and require its members to run as partisan political candidates — in other words, to make them answerable to the GOP instead of students and parents.

No, no, not at all, says the measure’s foremost cheerleader, Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper. Utah needs this change because few voters actually know who their board representative is. It has nothing to do with vouchers, he protests. Rather, it is simply a renewal of a year-old discussion. Nothing more, nothing less.

These guys must practice keeping a straight face in the mirror; a normal person couldn’t help but crack up when telling such tall tales.
The above editorial is also accompanied by this "pointed" Grondahl cartoon. We think it would be a fair statement to say that the Std-Ex isn't pulling its punches today.

Note to our Weber County GOP legislative delegation: Quit while you're ahead. The "voucher concept" is D.O.A.. The people of Weber County won't buy it; and neither will they buy your 2008 candidacies, if you follow your Utah County legislative leadership over the cliff, and start inflicting crass party partisanship upon the state school board. Perhaps you need to talk to your State Senate colleague John Greiner, the only single Weber County GOP elected official who seems to have gotten it mostly right. Just a helpful hint from yer old pal Rudi.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cyber-Anger and Angst in Emerald City

Yikes! It appears a new thread is in order. During our last thread we invited WCF readers to release their final anger and angst, concerning the prospect of having Boss Godfrey "reign" over our town for four more years. And Man Alive...did they ever doo that...

Lots of anger, angst and political pain was displayed in the lower thread. We left it open for maybe too long bcause we thought it might be "cathartic." Then again, maybe we shut it down too quickly.

Time for a new thread, your blogmeister thinks.

We'll be moving a couple of Curmudgeon posts here, and will eventually publish our own anti-right wing socialist schpiel, right here on Weber County Forum.

Meanwhile... lets's just consider it the newest weekend open thread.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Alternate Reality Department

The Election Post-mortem begins in this morning's Standard-Examiner

Eight days after Emerald City municipal election polling, the election post-mortem examination finally begins in the Standard-Examiner. According the the official results, published on the Weber County Website late yesterday afternoon, Boss Godfrey escaped the political hangman by a 449 votes, with a mere 51.40% of the 14,043 valid ballots cast.

As our gentle readers have observed in our lower threads, Godfrey's slim margin of victory hardly qualifies as a voter mandate. Judging from this morning's Std-Ex editorial, our home-town newspaper agrees with us:
It wasn’t exactly by the hair of his chinny-chin-chin, but incumbent Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey won a narrow victory when provisional and absentee ballots were finally counted Tuesday. By anyone’s definition, it was not a mandate.
The gist of the editorial is that our beloved Emerald City remains bitterly split down the middle, and that we should now all kiss and make up. Whether that's possible is anybody's guess, given the harshness that's characterized Emerald City politics over the past two years. Some folks, we're sure, believe there are scores still to be settled.

Significantly, the editorial drills down to the single issue which has placed our citizens at each others' throats. You got it, folks: the Std-Ex editors opine that it's the Gondola/Peterson Landgrab debacle is the problem which nearly cost Godfrey his re-election:
As for the Malan’s Basin resort and associated land sale proposals, it can be better analyzed by splitting the issue in two. Most people are generally supportive of landowner Chris Peterson’s right to build a four-season resort on his property. If he can obtain the permits from county or city planning commissions, he should be able to pursue his dream.

But the mayor misjudged public animosity regarding his enthusiastic support for Peterson’s desire to purchase the Mount Ogden Golf Course and 150 acres of university land on which to build homes to finance construction of his resort. It placed Godfrey in the odd position of promoting Ogden as an outdoor “hub” close to open space and unsurpassed recreational opportunities, while at the same time advocating the building of more rooftops on some of that prime open space. That part of the plan never clicked with most Ogdenites, and Godfrey waited so long to bail on the plan that it nearly cost him re-election.

Even though Godfrey has since pledged not to sell the golf course and surrounding city-owned park lands and trails, there remains an oozing wound associated with the two-year battle over the Malan’s Basin resort and proposed downtown-to-Weber State gondola, which was to have been funded in part by the sale of the golf course. Critics of the project — and even those undecided — were attacked by a cadre of gondola/resort fans. Contrary to common sense and principles of free speech, they urged revocation of tenure for WSU professors who would not support the sale of land or the urban gondola, and accused others who withheld judgment until a detailed plan was offered of being anti-Ogden. It was ridiculous.

That, in turn, prompted gondola/resort opponents to respond in kind with all manner of accusations about conflicts of interest and corruption, none of which ever were substantiated.

It was an especially odd battle, since no detailed plan ever has been presented to the city or county — to this day. All the animosity and name-calling was for nothing, it turns out. But the damage was real, and repairing it will be a slow and difficult process.

That’s the considerable task now facing Godfrey and the Ogden City Council: To continue moving the city forward, but in a more harmonious fashion. What good will it do to finish resurrecting Ogden from its doldrums if the city’s residents are still at each other’s throats?
We think the Standard-Examiner properly identifies Godfrey's key policy gaffe in its above paragraphs; and we also agree that it's clearly time for Godfrey (and a few others) to mend fences. Whether our mayoral one-trick pony has the capacity to grasp this simple concept remains doubtful however, in view of today's Scott Schwebke piece.

Examining his electoral close call, Boss Godfrey chalks it all up to this:

"Godfrey said he expected a slim margin of victory because he has made some controversial decisions to improve Ogden, such as stepped-up code enforcement."

Welcome to the twilight zone of MattGodfreyWorld, folks, where our newly re-elected mayor dwells in a universe of alternate reality, believing his massive unpopularity is the mere result of agressive code enforcement.

But who knows, folks, perhaps Boss Godfrey will soon come to his senses. And if he does, we have a few off the cuff suggestions about the manner by which Godfrey can help "Suture Ogden's Wounds."

1) Godfrey can begin by making a concerted effort to involve our elected city council in all future projects, from initial planning to final execution. While we believe the current council has been generally cooperative and compliant with respect to Godfrey's projects, he's gotten himself into serious trouble with council relations blunders, such as his Secret Gondola Study and Bootjack.

2) Godfrey should disband or disassociate himself from his Sturmentruppen, the unofficial unelected political arm of his administration. In our opinion these people bear major responsibility for the rancor that continues to divide our community. For the life of us, we can't imagine why any responsible elected official would provide these thugs keys to the executive washroom.

3) Godfrey should immediately settle the latest lawsuit, which is reported in this morning's Standard-Examiner. Godfrey should immediately release the documents that the Sierra Club has been requesting, and demonstrate a new commitment to open government.

4) And if Godfrey expects to get along with the 48.21% of angry citizens who showed up at the polls on Novermber 6, pitchforks and torches in hand, to choreograph his political demise, we think that Boss Godfrey should slide that obnoxious desktop engraved brass plaque clean off his desk and into the nearest trash can. (Click image to enlarge):

We're sure none of you will let the cat get your tongues, right?

Update 11/15/07 3:53 a.m. MT: We have just received word from the South Ogden Justice Court, to the effect that Obersturmbannf├╝hrer Bobby Geiger, of the Boss Godfrey lawn sign Sturmabteilung, has been charged with two counts of criminal mischief as a result of this campaign lawn sign vandalism incident... and this.

South Ogden Case #07-2271
Next appearance date: Pretrial conference - 1/07/07

Keep your eyes on this site, gentle readers. We'll definitely be following up on this.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Abandon All Hope Ye in Emerald City

Godfrey and his shyster henchman prevail in today's official vote count

The votes have been counted and Boss Godfrey is the winner, according to this afternoon's Salt Lake Tribune article, by a margin of 449 votes. At-large seat "A" council candidate Blain Johnson has also apparently upended Sheila Aardema by a thin 65 votes.

Barring an election challenge, it appears we're in for another four years of strife and community division.

Godfrey has proven, to the dismay of all of us, that money talks; and that an obscenely giant campaign warchest can buy an election.

The bright side, we suppose, is that this election has also given Weber County Forum another 4-year lease on life.

Excuse us now, while we skulk off to sulk.

Update 11/14/07 7:35 a.m. MT: We link below two articles from this morning's Standard-Examiner, fleshing out details about the mayoral and At-large "A" race:

Godfrey: Excited, relieved
Johnson edges Aardema

And here's a good one from the Salt Lake Tribune:

Ogden's Mayor Godfrey comes out 449 votes ahead of Van Hooser

We'll make snarky note of the first reader comment appearing below the Tribune article: "Oboy oboy! Ogden's reign of stupidity continues."

The beat goes on. Emerald City remains the laughing stock of Utah.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Clash of Cultures, Rinky-Dink Resorts, and More on Our Emerald City Election Fetish

A slow news day open-topic thread

As much as we hate to kill off a good lively discussion, it's a new Sunday morning, so we decided to kick off something new. We've had a quite robust conversation going in Jim's lower election discussion thread for the last few days, with over 210 comments so far. At this point, the volume of comments is becoming unwieldy however, so we'll start off today by focusing upon several of this morning's Standard-Examiner journalistic offerings.

Now that Emerald City has become a bona-fide recreation mecca, we suppose we'll be seeing a lot more articles like these on our home town newspaper's front page:

Vertical Excess?
Yosemite troubled by climbers' garbage

Although the approaches in these tandem articles differ slightly, they are both bound together by a single common general theme. The sport of rock climbing is now booming. Rock climbing, once the sole province of a relatively small class of hard-core elitists, is being overrun by newcomers, many of whom have learned their climbing techniques and outdoor ethics in urban "climbing gyms." In conjunction, these two articles nicely set forth the clash of cultures that's now occurring in the rock climbing world, as the "old school" elitists confront wet-behind-the ears "climbers" from the downtown gym. Interesting reading, we think, and highly relevant to our own community, inasmuch as a giant plastic climbing wall is now a featured attraction, down at PeeWee's Playouse.

Over the past few years we've marvelled, as the Standard-Examiner has intermittently placed odd-ball articles on various back pages, highlighting little towns throughout the west, who've hitched their economic development wagons to tiny ski resorts and cable-based aerial contraptions. It's in that context that we find this morning yet another such article, this one asking the pregnant question: "Will small ski resorts lift cities?".

Maybe it's just us, gentle readers, but we're somehow getting a strong sense of Deja Vu. Here we are, just a short five days from our yet-undecided municipal election, and the Std-Ex already begins another transparent push for rinky-dink ski resorts. Can further stories about Chris Peterson's fabled Malan's Basin Roadless Tyrolian Ski Resort be far off? Perhaps this depends upon the results of the election.

And speaking of the still-pending election, we have further information on the activities occurring in the Weber County Election Department counting room, activities which are occurring even as we speak. We received this short missive early yesterday evening, from a spokesman for the Van Hooser campaign:

I have it from a good source that the county has decided it be best to wait until all the ballots have been validated, in or out, then proceed with the counting. I think they agree that it is best to decide on the validity of those ballots without the weight of the absentee and other provisional ballots being counted. It was a wise decision and one that I appreciate them making. The goal of the Van Hooser campaign is to have as many votes validated as possible, count them and let the chips fall where they may. The goal of the Godfrey camp is clearly to rush the process and count as few of the provisionals -- especially from 108 - as possible. I believe that McEwan, the County Attorney and the Lieutenant Governor's office all want the same thing -- empower the voters and let them decide. Encouraging news.
Encouraging news indeed.

That's it for now, gentle readers. We invite you to carry on the discussion from here, wherever it may lead.

Update 11/12/07 10:45 a.m. MT: For those who've been sitting on the edges of their seats, we belatedly link here the final results of the Grift Ogden Vote or Shut Up Challenge . The complete scrolling gallery of contest submissions, including winners and noble non-winners alike, can be viewed at the griftogden.com website. All-in-all a fine array of contest entries, we think -- and a tough task for the judges, in narrowing it down to the final three.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Be Sure to Attend Tomorrow's Veterans' Day Parade

Updated with this morning's Standard-Examiner report

By Councilwoman Dorrene Jeske
Ogden City Council


Remember the Veterans Day Parade tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. We're told it's bigger and better this year! Last year's parade and memorial service at Lindquist Field were very touching and wonderful. We owe our blessed life style to these great men and women who left the comfort of their families' arms and their homes to fight our enemies, and to endure horrible hardships that we can't even imagine and to ensure that we enjoy our families and freedoms that others dream about. Join me in honoring them. The parade begins at 25th Street and Wall and goes east to Washington then north to 24th St. and west to Lincoln Ave. and Lindquist Field.

To all of you who are veterans, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and ask God to grant you special blessings. I will never be able to thank you enough or repay you for all that you've suffered and done to preserve our freedom and to keep this land the land of the free. Thank you again; and God bless you.

Update 11/11/07 8:55 a.m. MT: The Standard-Examiner's Tim Gurrister this morning provides a thorough writeup on yesterday's Veterans' Day parade and Lindquist Field ceremony. According to Mr. Gurrister's report, Boss Godfrey's public remarks appear to have been far more temperate and less self-centered than last year:

At the rally, Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey thanked the veterans assembled for their sacrifices, which he hoped a parade might honor.

He also said Ogden’s was probably Utah’s only Veterans Day parade. “If there’s another one, I’m not aware of it.”
It's refreshing that Mayor Godfrey apparently realized that yesterday's Veterans' Day events were not all about him. Has Godfrey turned over a new leaf? We'll see.

And in further honor of our disabled American veterans, we link this stirring video, submitted by Frank Maughan, State Commander, Utah Military Order of the Purple Heart.

We'll close with this editorial cartoon, also submitted this morning by Frank Maughan. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words, we think:

Thursday, November 08, 2007

"Protecting the Integrity" of the Emerald City Election Process

More "tall tales" from the Godfreyite camp

By Jim

This is a new twist.

According to this morning's Salt Lake Tribune article by Kristen Moulton, there are 2000 absentee ballots and 700 provisional ballots out now.

The provisional ballots are to be counted starting today.

The absentee ballots will not be counted until later, to allow mailed ballots to arrive.

Godfrey is now taking responsibility for "five or six" challenges to voters. His Dorothy Littrell and Jesse Garcia obsession continues unabated.

He claims no knowledge of the other 140-odd voters who were challenged by his renegade supporters over whom he has no apparent control. Lots of freethinkers over in the Godfrey camp, I suppose.

(Note to the meaning-impaired who have recently occupied this forum: when I say, "140-odd", I mean "about 140 and I can't be bothered to look the exact number up or calculate it". I don't mean "these people are odd". Many are my friends and neighbors who are trying to figure out how they ended up on a Nixonesque "enemies list".)

This morning's Standard-Examiner also contains two articles on the election.

This Charles Trentelman piece includes the first extensive interview with Blake "She'll never believe that, dude" Fowers, who explains some of his motivation behind the challenged voter list.

Apparently, Mr. Fowers' keen powers and Spidey-Sense have picked up a lot of fraudulent voter names, and he was just doing his duty as a citizen when he submitted those names to election officials. No political dirty tricks, no sir. Not retaliatory tactics. It's the same community spirit we see in those who are willing to follow police officers' wives and run down license numbers, and go tackle Evil Bicycle Thieves,

I have a suggestion. If the Godfrey campaign really believes that voter fraud was taking place, then they should have been satisfied with the relief they received, which was the checking of identification at the polls. Presumably, everyone who voted on a provisional ballot was allowed to do so only after they produced the required forms of identification. So, that process should have satisfied their civic-minded intent.

So I'm certain, since I believe that the Godfrey campaign's Mr. Fowers is only interested in the integrity of the process, I'm absolutely certain that there will be no further challenges to those provisional ballots and all ballots will be counted as-is without additional legal challenges.

After all, if attorneys under Mr. Godfrey's employ are challenging the provenance of provisional ballots at this point, it will be hard to support Mr. Godfrey's claim that he had nothing to do with the 147-name challenge list or with Mr. Fowers.

If, on the other hand, Godfrey-paid attorneys continue their obstructionist tactics, then it only reveals the true intent: to gum up the electoral works and pervert the intent of the voters of Ogden.

I mentioned a second Std-Ex election article, and here it is. It's similar to Kristen's, but with different numbers. What ought to be apparent... nobody seems to really know how many ballots remain uncounted.

By the way, I hope some of our recent visitors continue to hang around the blog. I have enjoyed posting my views and having them met with ad hominem venomous attacks. As Yogi Berra might have said, if he spoke Latin, "it's res ipsa loquitur all over again". I enjoy hearing opposing views and letting the quality of thought in them speak for itself.

Update 11/9/07 11:10 a.m MT: Kristen Moulton has a story up in the Salt Lake Tribune on election complaints being filed with Weber County and with the County attorney's office.

Update 11/9/07 9:24 a.m. MT: From this morning's SLTrib - "Gloria Berrett, county elections administrator, said Friday afternoon that she and County Clerk Alan McEwan, have decided to seek legal advice concerning the ballots. She declined to say why advice is being sought. However, election workers plan to continue working through today and on Monday, a legal holiday, to scrutinize provisional and absentee ballot envelopes. They want to ensure that only those verified as legitimate will be counted."

We just got off the phone with Gloria Berret, in connection with the above SLTrib article update. Ms. Berret informs us that the verification process mentioned in Kristen's article involves authenticating voter signatures only. This has proven to be a tedious process, due to the large number of provisionals.

Ms. Berret also informs us that election officials have not sought additional legal advice, beyond initial consultations with the Weber County Attorney's office earlier this week.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

And the New Mayor is? We'll See

Only two clear-cut winners in yesterday's municipal election race

Last night's election results are in... sort of, and the celebratory mayoral candidate winner is... Boss Godfrey... maybe. With a total of almost 1300 absentee and provisional ballots remaining to be counted, the final victor in this race remains anybody's guess.

We'll be brief this morning and reel off links to this morning's main three Standard-Examiner post-election articles.

Ogden Drama- Godfrey 6,450 -- Van Hooser 6269 (Mayoral Race)
Aardema takes Ogden Council post (Council Races)
Voters’ residency challenged during election (Godfreyite Voter Challenge)

The gist of these stories is that there seem to remain at least two Emerald City Municipal Election races too close to declare winners. For instance, the Aardema/Johnson Council At-large "C" race is separated by an 18-vote spread, a circumstance that will demand an early recount, at the very least. And we think Boss Godfrey's slim 181 vote margin ain't enough to yet justify dancing a victory flamenco, with nearly 1300 ballots still remaining uncounted in the Weber County Election Department hopper.

Only council candidates Gochnour and Wicks appear to have bullet-proof margins.

We'll dispense however with the analysis and commentary this morning. Frankly, your blogmeister needs a short breather. That shouldn't prevent our gentle readers from chiming in, however. So please accept our invitation to comment, pontificate, vent and otherwise carry on the post election discussion on this thread.

We'll also extend our thanks to gentle reader CJ, who provided that most entertaining jib-jab animation, included in our second link above.

Take it away, gentle readers.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

2007 Emerald City Election Results

Electronic updates from two sources re tonight's ballot vote tallies

As announced in our previous article, we provide here two site feed links which, if all goes well, will allow our readers access to real-time results from both the Weber County and Ogden City vote counting rooms, allowing our gentle readers to monitor the tallies for all issues and candidates appearing on today's ballots:

Ogden City Municipal Election Feed. This is the page where our readers can monitor Ogden City Municipal Election candidate results.

Weber County Feed. Here our readers can check tallies on today's two county ballot measures at the top of the page (as well county-wide results for ALL Weber County races.)

With respect to the Ogden City Elections feed, you'll find in the left column 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.

As to the the Weber County feed, we don't yet know whether the tallies will automatically update, since the site's not yet up and running as of the time of this posting, and we thus haven't had a chance to preview it yet. If the page doesn't refresh automatically, however, our readers can simply manually click the "reload" or "refresh" buttons on their browsers to achieve a "fresh" page update.

Once again we invite our readers to pull up their barca-loungers®, and watch today's election results unfold. Orville Redenbacher products may be in order -- along with the draining a few "cool ones" perhaps.

We've set up these links to open new browser windows for each feed, while leaving our main Weber County Forum launch page open. Ideally our readers, (assuming they have sufficient system memory and bandwidth,) can open the two government pages while keeping our WCF launch page open, skipping back and forth between pages, and making comments as the votes are counted.

We'll go ahead and thank Ogden City and Weber County IT departments in advance, for providing we Emerald City political junkies what we hope will prove to be an interesting evening.

Don't forget to chime in with your comments, O gentle ones.

Yes, Gentle Readers; the Polls Are Open

A glorious day to put Boss Godfrey and his minions out to pasture
All prospective voters should read our latest update, regarding Boss Godfrey's most recent political dirty trick

Well... we've confirmed it, gentle readers. Just as advertised, the polling has begun in our long awaited Emerald City General Election. We were concerned that Boss Godfrey may have not had enough time to spend his $183,000 war chest, and that he might have issued an imperial order at the last minute, delaying today's voting for another couple of weeks. Happily this did not happen; and thus your humble blogmeister has just now returned from his neighborhood polling place, after having proudly cast his ballot for Van Hooser, Aardema, Gochner and Wicks.

After 2 years of postings about Emerald City politics here on Weber County Forum, words can't express our satisfaction in finally putting our money where our mouth has been, and in casting our votes for the ouster of Boss Godfrey and his evil corporo-fascist minions.

And though it may seem unnecessary to remind our readers again, today's election depends upon a robust voter turnout by concerned lumpencitizens. Let's hear no excuses today, folks. If the vote turns out unfavorably, with one single exception, we don't want to hear any griping from citizens who didn't show up to vote. And on that connection, we'll make a special offer to those poor Emerald City souls who still hold an ill-founded adherence to Boss Godfrey and his corrupt and undemocratic political practices. If you decide NOT to vote today, you'll be warmly welcomed here to gripe all your want. We're very forgiving here at Weber County Forum; and when the final tallies roll in tonight, we'll be happy to give you a warm shoulder to cry on.

As an aside, we'll note that council candidate Blain Johnson's hired hands were again outside our polling place this morning, waving Blain's signs and grinning like they actually cared about their employer-for-a-day's candidacy. Your blogmeister approached them and asked for their permission to take the shot on the right for publication in Weber County Forum. As the image indicates, this was okay with one of them.

We also struck up a short conversation, wherein we asked if they'd yet gone inside to vote. "Oh no," one of them volunteered. "We're from Washington Terrace, not from this neighborhood."

Blain Johnson: Candidate of the people -- the People's Choice for Paid Pickets from Washington Terrace!!!!

And even though we don't believe it's necessary at this point, we'll nevertheless state the obvious:

You know what to do.

Do it at your neighborhood polling place.


VOTE!!!!


Have at it gentle readers. This would be a good place, we think, to post your election day comments, observations... and war stories.

(And yes, gentle readers. As per usual, we'll be firing up a new thread later this evening, where you can link, track and comment in real time upon tonight's election results. Don't forget to check back after the polls close.)

Update 11/6/07 1:05 p.m. MT: We have just received a message from one of our readers, who was turned away about an hour ago by poll workers at her precinct polling place, Grand View Acres Elementary School. Our reader was told by poll judges that Cindi Mansell, of the Ogden City Recorder's Office, has lodged a series of individual voter challenges, requiring a list of 50 or more Emerald City voters to provide two forms of ID, including proof of residency, prior to the issuance of an electronic ballot.

We have spoken with an official from the Weber County Clerk's office, who informs us that such a challenge is lawful. We have successfully obtained the aforementioned list. We've uploaded it to our storage site; and the list can be viewed here, in pdf format. If your name appears on this list, and you remain eligible to vote in Ogden, be sure to bring along AT LEAST two forms of ID, preferably your voter registration card and an official picture ID (Driver's License or other government-issued ID,) proving that you reside within your voting precinct. Failing that, bring along any other proof of residency which you may have on hand, such as utility bills and similar mailings which show your true address of residency.

If you know any of the people whose names appear on the list, please contact and inform them regarding this matter.

If all else fails, we are informed by Weber County election officials that it's your right to demand a provisional ballot. Whatever you do, do not allow yourself to leave your voting precinct without casting at least a provisional ballot. Questions regarding your eligibility to vote can be sorted out by election officials later. In the event that your poll workers refuse to issue such a ballot, demand that they call the Weber County Clerk's Office at 399-8400, so that county election officials can set them straight.

Come to think of it, we recommend that ALL prospective voters take along two forms of ID, including a photo ID and/or other proof of residence before going to the polls.

We can never predict what will be the next dirty trick that the evil Godfreyites will try to pull. We do advise everyone who hasn't voted yet to be prepared for the very worst.

Monday, November 05, 2007

2007 Emerald City Election Cheat Sheets

A choice of material to clip out and take to the polls tomorrow

We got a real chuckle out of this morning's Standard-Examiner editorial, wherein the Std-Ex editors attempt, the day before the 2007 Emerald City election, to squeeze out every possible drop of "political juice" from the farce of a candidate endorsement series which has dominated their editorial page for the last several weeks. What it comes down to this morning, gentle readers, is a laughable rehash of their earlier council endorsements -- in a "handy-dandy" "clip and take to the polls" form. We swear we are not making this up:

"As a service to our readers, we’re presenting a round-up of our editorial opinions on various ballot measures and candidates we’ve editorialized on during this election season. We encourage you to clip it out and take it with you to vote tomorrow." [Emphasis added.]

There you have it folks. The Std-Ex editors evidently think Emerald City voters are nothing but a flock of dumb sheep, incapable of remembering even the names of the people that the Std-Ex editors and their neoCON publisher have selected for the next 4-year reign of terror, under Boss Godfrey's hoped-for 12-year Reich.

We'll note in passing that the Std-Ex did get at least one endorsement right, i.e., Amy Wicks. Of course even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then, according to the olde folke axe. And it's in that connection that we congratulate the Std-Ex for blundering into at least a single intelligent endorsement. We suggest therefore that any voters who are having attention deficit problems cut out the part about Amy Wicks -- and duct tape it to your wrists:

"Vote for: Amy Wicks --

We think the word “independent” best sums her up. If she has any reservations about a decision, she’s not the kind to simply go with the flow. She would like to see a more open, cooperative and informative relation ship between the administration and the council — and so would we."


Having said all that however, and now that "cut and carry" cheat sheets are the order of the day, we'll suggest a couple of other items which "forgetful" readers might alternatively want to clip out, submit to further study and carry into the voting booth:

How about this great endorsement ad from this morning's Standard-Examiner?

Or what about this nerve-jangling mayoral endorsement piece from yesterday's Weber County Forum?

And for great endorsements, this earlier "clip-out" piece would be ideal for readers with slightly longer attention spans.

For those readers who are truly and hopelessly memory-deprived, we of course recommend another helpful "cut and carryable." This one is nice and simple, although we do remind readers that forgetful readers should at least have the capacity to remember that these people are the candidates you should NOT VOTE FOR.

And there you have it, those forgetful ones among us. There are numerous alternative cut and carry pieces that you can take to the polls tomorrow morning.

A Weber County Forum Tip O' The Hat to Std-Ex Publisher Lee Carter and his merry band of paid Gondolist Lackeys for the great idea, which contributed to this morning's "Cut & Paste Segue!"

Update 11/5/07 4:13 p.m. MT: Some our gentle readers are complaining about the most recent Boss Godfrey mailer, which purports to contain a Jon Huntsman endorsement, similar to the one mentioned earlier here. We've spoken with Lisa Roskelley, Jon Huntsman's press spokeman a few minutes ago, and she reaffirms that Governor Huntsman isn't endorsing ANYOBODY for local political office, including Boss Godfrey. In other words... the latest mailer was again UNAUTHORIZED BY THE GUV.

She did go on to say that the governor's office isn't planning to do anything "proactive" about this... like contacting the press; and that's about it. The governor will continue to sit in his cave, and show his political weakness, we suppose. The governor's office is doing denials to the press one-by-one, as individual members of the press call and ask about this. Please remember THE GUV when you go to vote about vouchers... and don't forget about his similarly wimpy stance on Godfrey today.

If anyone would like to call the governor's office to complain about this... here's the main switchboard number: 801-538-1000.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Envision Corruption

Yet Another Ogden Election Scandal

by Dan Schroeder

How would you feel if you contributed to a "nonprofit" organization -- only to learn afterwards that it's actually a political action committee, channeling your contribution to candidates?

How would you feel if this organization had used government resources to hold a fundraising event?

And how would you feel if the news media had no interest whatsoever in reporting these facts?

Welcome to Ogden City and the Envisiongate Scandal.

Remember Envision Ogden? They're the group that organized last February, supposedly to "push the idea of high-adventure recreation" in Ogden. They held a big fundraising dinner in February, announced their formation in a front-page article in the Standard-Examiner, and set up a web site. Then, as a second fundraiser, they put on the big "Sneak Peek" event at the Salomon Center on June 15.

Oh, and on September 7 they contributed $1500 to Blain Johnson's campaign for Ogden City Council.

That's right: Envision Ogden is a political action committee (PAC). More precisely, it's a political organization subject to Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Just who is Envision Ogden? The head of the organization seems to be realtor Abe Shreve.

Shreve has "declined to identify" Envision Ogden's other members, but there's also a connection to Amer Sports, and to Cindy Patterson (wife of Ogden CAO John Patterson), who works for Amer. Mayor Godfrey seems to be quite familiar with the organization.

Because Envision Ogden contributes only to local candidates, it isn't required to file any financial disclosure statements with the state or federal government. And the city's ordinances require financial disclosure only from candidates, not from PACs. So if you want to contribute anonymously to a local candidate, you can easily do so by laundering the money through a PAC.

And as far as I know, there's no legal requirement that a local PAC disclose its purpose to contributors. So although you could raise ethical questions about Envision Ogden's deceptive fundraising solicitations, the organization probably hasn't broken any laws.

Ogden City, however, probably did break the law by allowing Envision Ogden to use the Salomon Center for a fundraising event. According to Municipal Code 2-6-13(c)(2), it's illegal for any officer or employee to "use, or allow to be used, any city equipment while engaged in any political activity". (Ironically, this is the same ordinance that the city attorney accused Van Hooser of violating when her campaign sent emails into city-owned computers.) Other laws may have been violated as well.

When asked about this impropriety, both the city and Envision Ogden have claimed that it was the tenants of the Salomon Center (Gold's and Fat Cats) who allowed their facility to be used for the event, and the city played no role. The only problem with this explanation is that the tenants did not legally take possession of the property until three days later, on June 18.

All of the facts above are thoroughly documented, and I'll gladly provide the documentation to anyone who asks. Several different people dug up these facts and brought them to my attention. I then passed the information on to both the Standard-Examiner and the Salt Lake Tribune, but neither was interested. At first the excuse was that we didn't have any evidence that Envision Ogden was actually giving money to candidates. We found the smoking gun--the Envison Ogden contribution listed on Johnson's October 26 disclosure statement--only a few days ago.

But as far as I can tell, the newspapers still intend to ignore this story.

So many scandals . . . so little time.

We link here an appendix to this article, which lays out the facts chronologically, for those who want to see this level of detail.

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