Monday, February 11, 2008

A Short Biography Our Readers Will Not Want to Miss

The lowdown on the Emerald City Ice-tower co-designer and promoter

As regular denizens of our Weber County Forum community blog are well aware, Mayor Matthew "Boss" Godfrey and his administration are moving full speed ahead to install yet another recreational novelty attraction in downtown Emerald City, namely "The World's first refrigerated, year-round, outdoor Ice Climbing Tower." And to WCF newcomers we'll say "No; we are not making this up. This fantastic structure depicted in the above link could very well be standing on the corner of 25th & Kiesel, possibly as early as this summer." For proof of that, we link our home-town newspaper's recent article on this topic, which spells out the whole exciting story in grand detail.

Yes, gentle readers; some folks are quite serious about this. This project is an integral part of Boss Godfrey's "vision" to transform Ogden City into a giant amusement park, of course. As Emerald City CEO John Patterson also assures us, it's certain to be a money maker. Godfrey has the Midas Touch, as we all know.

Regular readers who've followed discussions of this story are aware that we at WCF within the WCR editoral circle are NOT, shall we say, "overjoyed" about this project. It's not that we're NOT fans of refrigerated, year round ice climbing towers in general. It's just that we bristle when our elected officials build (and propose to operate) such knuckleheaded public projects on the public dime. Jurassic-period economic theorists that we are, we believe promoters of knuckleheaded plans and schemes ought to finance such projects on their own dime instead.

In this connection, we've observed cost estimates for this project escalate over the past couple of years, from $275 thousand to $1.6 million. These costs of course will be mainly borne by the taxpayers. And with Boss Godfrey ram-rodding the project, there's no doubt in our minds the costs will continue to skyrocket. Enormous refrigerated year-round neo-mesopotamian era architectural-style monuments to Mayor Godfrey's ego don't come cheap; and as we lumpencitizens of Emerald City know -- money is no object in MattGodfreyWorld -- when it comes to Magnificent Godfrey Monuments.

OK. Suffice it to say in summary that we continue to believe this is a dumb idea.

Having provided the above introduction, we realize that some of you may wonder who might have had the audacity even to design and promote such a project in the first place. One of the co-designers and promoters, Jeff Lowe, is of course mentioned in the above Std-Ex article. He's been more or less the mystery man behind this project for several years, although disconnected bits and pieces of information about Jeff have cropped up at various times in the media.

From here, we'll now launch into another patented neck-snapping WCF-style segue®. Jeff Lowe remains the mystery man no more. The Deseret Morning News published a candid and robust biographical piece on Jeff Lowe in yesterday's edition. Here's the lowdown on Jeff Lowe. We invite you all to read up.

At the very least, we think you'll all agree that Jeff Lowe is a quite remarkable man. Who can blame him for his desire to fulfill his dream? Really. And for Jeff's sake, we hope it works.

Comments, anyone?

And please be nice. Jeff Lowe and your blogmeister go way back.

25 comments:

Standard Examiner said...

Damn! Scooped by the DNews again!

more hype said...

I am sure Jeff is a great guy, however , I cant support tax dollars being used for another pipe dream and fantasyland attraction.

When is enough enough?

Curmudgeon said...

Standard:

Scooped? Hardly. The DN piece was a profile... a particularly long one, and well worth the read, I agree. But hardly breaking news of any sort. It's feature writing, not news per se. Might also add that the DN is funded by its owner, the LDS Church, which has as they say deep pockets, and pays for a very large newsroom staff such as SE editors I imagine can only dream about. So the DN has people with the time to do deep profiles and features like the Lowe piece.

Could/should the SE have done a Lowe profile too or first? Maybe. But that the DN did one hardly constitutes a "scoop."

Ogden for Ogdenites said...

Well, the Mayor did win a mandate at the last election, so I see no reason why he should not be able to go forth and spend whatever amount of money he deems necessary to bring about the vision that the people voted for.

Bill C. said...

Part of the reluctance on the SE's part to fully expose all details surrounding this whole deal could be their ever present protection of lying little matty.
The DN points out to the reader something Ogden residents were unaware of, Ogden City has provided full time employment to Jeff, and I pretty sure that a great deal of previously undisclosed money has been spent on this unwise public venture.
In fact the administration has been proclaiming this as a privately funded operation for the whole life of the project, which seems to be somewhat a matter of dishonesty, an administative behavior we're all too familiar with.
Hey Mr. Schwebke, now that the DN has played lying little matty's sympathy card,(I do regret Jeff's circumstances) how about a very detailed, hard hitting straight story on the whole enchillada. Including all realevant details on financial projections. Instead of the usual hope it works assurances, which is all we seem to get.

Geno said...

So this Lowe guy spends his entire life in pursuit of the endless vacation. He contributes absolutely nothing to society. Now as a reward the Mayor puts him on the city payroll and then puts untold hundreds of thousands of dollars in his pocket in exchange for the otherwise worthless pile of junk he owns and that is sitting in some junk yard rusting away.

Way to go Mayor! Spend our tax money on stupid ideas and reward the worthless amongst us. Makes you wonder what other bums he secretly has on the public payroll.

stan said...

Geno

It isn't any secret, but the Mayor does have Glassman and Geiger's wife on the city payroll. Just to name two featherbeders.

In addition, the tax payers are also paying around a million a year in payroll, perks and expenses for his "development team" that brings us this nonsense. That is money straight out of the city budget, not out of the project budgets. Money that could go into the infrastructure otherwise.

Curmudgeon said...

Geno:

Have at the ice tower if you think it a poor investment for the city. I'm not convinced it's worth the candle either. But the rest of your post seems way over the top to me, unless you want to argue that every athlete who gets sponsorships or sells endorsements "contributes nothing to society;" unless you want to argue that every developer or improver of sports equipment --- golf clubs or snow mobiles or tennis racquets or baseball gloves or what have you --- "contributes nothing to society" because, well, it's all just sports stuff; unless you want to argue that anyone else who founds a company developing and selling sports gear... including say Nike or Black Diamond... "contributes nothing to society" because they're just selling sports gear; unless you want to argue that everyone who writes a sports book or makes a sports film "contributes nothing to society" because, well, they're just about sports... unless you're willing to argue all that, your criticism of Lowe seems way over the top to me. And unjustified, particularly in a state whose prosperity depends to no small extent on sports tourism.

As for spending his entire life in an "endless vacation...." Well, he does say "I had jobs, but they were all doing what I wanted to be doing." My god. The bastard. He spent his life doing jobs that he loved. Jealous, Geno? I sure as hell am. We should all be that fortunate.

As for his job with Ogden City: whether you think it's a good idea or not, the Mayor [and Council] have adopted the idea of marketing Ogden as an outdoor-recreation base camp, so to speak. Given that, hiring someone to promote that does not seem out of line to me. And from the story, Mr. Lowe does seem to be working for the city.

From the story: Lowe was recruited to create a climbing park and to develop Ogden's potential as a climbing haven.

As director of the Ogden Climbing Park, Lowe has started an annual climbing festival — Climbfest-Ogden — which features clinics and mountain-related arts and literature. He is preparing to launch a program that gives the disabled opportunities for outdoor experiences and other programs that will expose locals, especially kids, to the world of climbing and lure climbing enthusiasts from around the world.

Lowe is working with the U.S. Forest Service to develop and improve access to favorite climbing haunts around Ogden, including doing some "ice farming," in which creek water is sprayed onto cliffs to develop ice fields.


And he's working as well for the ice tower, planned to be part of the Ogden Climbing Park he was hired to develop and promote. Again, I have my doubts about the wisdom of the ice tower, particularly if it's to be built and sustained at public expense. But Mr. Lowe does seem to be doing what the Administration hired him to do, and given the Administration's goal of marketing Ogden as an outdoor activities base camp, the hire does not seem out of line to me. Sort of like a city or county hiring Arnold Palmer to design a golf course... which many communities have discovered is usually a very wise thing to do.

The implication of your post... that Lowe is some layabout who's never had an honest job in his life, and is simply lolling around feeding out of the public trough and delivering nothing for his pay --- that he is, as you put it, "worthless" --- seems way out of line to me.

I'm as adamant as the next guy about holding Godfrey's profligate spending and risking of the public's money to close scrutiny and account. But wildly lashing out at anyone who works for the city in connection with the Administration seems to me, again, unfair, unjustified... and in the end, counterproductive.

[Full disclosure: I am not a climber; I have never met and do not know Mr. Lowe, and until his name came up in re: the Ogden Climbing Park, I'd never heard of him. Nor am I now nor have I ever been an employee of Ogden City.]

Bill C. said...

As a summer venue this is destined to be a dog, a very bad one at that.
If high adventure outdoor recreation is truely lying little matty's utopia, then lets at least approach it with a slight degree of pragmatism.
High adventure outdoor recreation encompasses a broad range of activities, almost all of which are somewhat seasonal.
In the summertime there's a myriad of competing outdoor activities. Ice climbing not likely to cross anyone mind,(not even Jeff's prior to this scam) the utmost investment in advertizing would not even come close to covering the overhead, or pay for the marketing itself.
Lying little matty's twisted reality seems bent on URBANIZING non URBAN activities. Thus we have URBAN GONDOLAS, URBAN ICE TOWERS, URBAN WADING POOLS and the like. Anything but traditional urban amenities.
If lying little matty truely want's an URBAN ICE TOWER lets at least limit it to a seasonal thing. I would suggest that since his grand business relocation maneuver vacated the old First Security Bank building, moving it's tennents across the street, I say it would be far cheaper and produce a much more spectacular site to run a few hoses on the roof of the old building, off the north side during Dec. and Jan., tempature permitting. This would create the worlds tallest URBAN ICE TOWER, at a fraction of the cost.
When the weather finally makes climbing it hazardous, the guys at Rumors Bar,(lying little matty's and potato nose's favorite haunt) could chip it down and use it in their famously over priced margarita's they'll be serving all the foreign URBAN HIGH ADVENTURE TOURISTS they claim are coming.

Bill C. said...

For anyone thinking my last suggestion out in right field I remind you, prior to the moving of the Hoff to the fairgrounds Ogden City trucked in huge amounts of snow to make 25th st from Adams to Washington a ski hill, where they had races, after, sausages and lauger was had by all.

Curmudgeon said...

Bill:

I notice your comments relate largely to the ice tower, about which, as I said, I have serious reservations. My complaint was that the personal attack on Mr. Lowe seemed wholly unwarranted.

Now, about the rest: I agree the "high adventure" designation for a flowrider, a wind tunnel, a wading pool, all downtown, are pretty silly, as is the Mayor's obsession with a flatland gondola to WSU. And your point about the the illogic of trying to ubanize outdoor "high adventure," as Hizzonah is trying to do, is a good one. However, in re: Mr. Lowe again, the Ogden Climbing Park is mostly concerned, it seems, with developing and promoting what you accurately call season-appropriate outdoor activities: rock climbing in the summer; ice climbing in the Wasatch Mountains in the winter.

So we're left then, with questions about the ice tower and its appropriateness as a summer climbing venue --- and the means of its financing [construction and operation]. And, as I said, I've got serious questions about them as you do... but none of those questions justify the kind of personal attack on Mr. Lowe I found in Geno's post above.

Bill C. said...

Curm, I'm NOT GENO. I grew up with the Lowes, I have not attacked Jeff, I do do not condone what he's advocating, but I haven't taken any specific aim at some of the hypocracy that his latest endeavor represents. Close reading of the DN story points one out quite clearly. But, as circumstances dictate our outlooks often change.

Bill C. said...

Oh and Curm, you never did weigh in on animal torchure. Do you shelter some republican leanings in that regard?

Curmudgeon said...

Bill:

IN re: animal torture. Torture bad. Always. [G. Bush, please note.] I do have a more expansive definition of it, though. Having to listen to the Wingnut Troika [Curtis, Bramble and Buttars] definitely constitutes torture in my book [the animals afflicted in this case being humans]. Is that made a felony on second conviction in the bill? IF so, I'm strongly for it.

the lovely jennifer said...

What Jeff Lowe is bringing to the table is intangible, but has great value: Like the suggestion above as to hiring a world renowned golfer to help design a world class golf course (a no-brainer).

A good design, a well-trained staff, enthusiasm for participants, PR by word of mouth - for and from all the long-time Ogdenites who have grown up with the Lowe family in their midst.

I think it will fly farther than the wind tunnel thing, and probable generate more revenue. Think about attacking the ice when it is 100+ degrees outside.

Then there would be the natural transition into utilization of the Climbing Park for real outdoors activity, after warming up and learning in a controlled environment. The possibilities are far more reaching than a silly wind tunnel.

TLJ

Bill C. said...

LTJ, be carefull with that Kool-aid. There is an easy way to determine viability, lets see an independant study that justifies the investment, let alone the future costs. I'll bet it'll be a worldwide first. Don't forget that we bought this thing from a community all too willing to abandon it.

Geno said...

Curmudgeon

You seem to be a master at setting up straw men! (Staw men - a sham argument set up to be defeated)

I said nothing about "athletes who gets sponsorships"

I said nothing about "developers or improvers of sport equipment"

I said nothing about "golf clubs or snow mobiles or tennis raquets or baseball gloves"

I said nothing about "anyone who founds a company developing and selling sports gear"

In fact what I wrote had absolutely nothing to do with all the tripe you invented in order to attach my premise that this self admitted sports bum, who has spent his life pursuing climbing a cliff, does not deserve hundreds of thousands of our tax money for a rusty pile of junk that nobody else wants.

Ogden for Ogdenites said...

I'm with you Geno, both on the Lowe guy and the know it all Curmudgeon who is self absorbed and intellectually dishonest. There is very few points of view that he will not miss-characterise and then attack. He is very cleaver in using language and his argumentative skills to twist people's words and intentions into something they didn't mean, and then setting himself up as the great all knowing guru who sets every one straight.

It is teachers like him that account for the dismal quality of education that the students of today are receiving.

Curmudgeon said...

geno:

You dismissed all that Mr. Lowe has done as having contributed nothing.... what he has done includes being a sponsored athlete, inventing and improving sports equipment, founding sport companies and selling sports gear, writing books and making films. He did all of that, as the DN article pointed out, and you dismissed it all as nothing. I don't think I set up a straw man to knock down at all, geno. Hard, seems to me, to dismiss someone who's done all that as merely a bum. Which you did. He found a way to spend most of his adult life doing what he loved, and making a living at it. As I said, we should all be so lucky.

I have reservations about the ice tower as well, particularly if it is to be built and operated with public funds. But none of those reservations require me to dismiss Mr. Lowe and his varied achievements as worthless.

Bill C. said...

With the exception of the future artificial urban icicle not one thing advocated, promoted or sponsored by Ogden Climbing Parks is in Ogden. In fact no high adventure outdoor recreation can be had in Ogden, this must be why there's such a push for the creation of artificial urban cheap imitations.
I can't help but think that this is going to be set up in the same overly subsidized manner that the Jackass Center is. Ogden City builds and owns the facility and leases it to Lowe for a quarter of the actual expense, just like the rec center.

ozboy said...

Ogden for Ogdenites

Your inconsistencies are showing!

In your above post you say you are with Geno vis-a-vis the "Lowe guy", yet a few days ago you stated that you are all for Mayor Godfrey spending whatever he wants on whatever he wants because of his "mandate" in the last election. A "mandate" incidentally that showed slightly less than half the citizens do not approve of him! So you either approve of the ice tower or you don't, it doesn't seem to me that you can have it both ways.

I agree with Geno on the "Lowe guy" being unworthy of hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars in spite of his accomplishments in the climbing world. However, I also think Curmudgeon has a point as to Geno's use of the words "contributed nothing". That seems a poor choice of words to use against a guy who spends his life pursuing his own bliss, as I have tried to do.

I also think that in making his point, Mr. Curmudgeon has elevated Mr. Lowe's accomplishments to unwarranted heights. Climbing, rather ice or rock, is an extremely narrowly participated in sport, and even the greatest of innovations would not be of particular interest to the general population and certainly couldn't be considered to be significant contributions to society - which I assume was Geno's premise to begin with.

Curmudgeon said...

Oz:

Well, Oz, OK, but by the standard you set up, I don't think most Americans would qualify as making a "significant contribution" to society.

The point I wanted to make was that what Mr. Lowe has done and accomplished, and contributed [or not] to the general welfare is entirely, completely irrelevant to the question of whether the ice tower would be a good thing for Ogden City to invest in. If Mr. Lowe was an ice-climbing Mother Theresa, it would not make the ice tower one iota better an idea. And if Mr. Lowe made his living buy buying up companies, breaking them apart, laying off hundreds of American workers, and selling the remnants [and their jobs] to overseas buyers, that would not make the ice tower one iota worse of an idea.

And so the gratuitous swipes at the guy for finding a way to successfully make a living doing what he loved to do [at no cost to the public, and with apparently some success, businesswise] seemed... and still seems... to me pointless, mean-spirited and wholly un-called for.

Folks don't like the tower idea as a public investment, fine. Then attack the tower idea full bore... but not Mr. Lowe's life or character without [so far as I can tell] legitimate reason just as a way of attacking the tower.

Way too much of that sort of thing going on today in American public affairs. Way too much. The term for it is "the politics of personal destruction" and it not only stinks with respect to ethical conduct, it poisons the well of public discussion and makes the kind of serious public discussion of disputed policy we need to have much much more difficult, if not impossible.

a wise man told me said...

Tax dollars should be spentt in a way that they do the most good for the largest majority. Not on projects that benefit a few.

ozboy said...

Mr. Curmudgeon

I think the fact is that "most Americans don't qualify as making a "significant contribution" to society".

I believe that the human race follows a formula well established in the animal kingdom wherein about 5% of most social populations leads, and in some cases controls, what the other 95% do and think.
The number of people that are responsible for most of the world's advancement - technical, artistic and social - are very few in number compared to the masses that "lead lives of quite desperation".

I also agree with your statement:

"what Mr. Lowe has done and accomplished, and contributed [or not] to the general welfare is entirely, completely irrelevant to the question of whether the ice tower would be a good thing for Ogden City to invest in."

However, I believe that all other things being equal if Mr. Lowe did not have the fabulous resume that he does, Mr. Godfrey would not give him two cents worth of attention or tax money to pursue this crazy and wild ice tower idea.

I believe that Mr. Godfrey is easily star struck with the likes of Mr. Lowe and his appearance on the cover of Rolling Stone - er I mean article in Sports Illustrated, and his very impressive resume. This groupie behavior seems to be a basic element in the little mayor's makeup as he basks in the reflected glory of other people's fame, glory and accomplishments. We used to call people like that "jock sniffers". It strikes me that the mayor is one and that is his main motivation in jamming this dumb ass idea down the tax payer's throats. The economic viability of an idea has very little to do with anything in the Godfreyite kingdom.

Just my opinions of course!

OgdenLover said...

OK, the ice tower project just got an extension on its $200,000 RAMP tax grant because it's behind schedule.

I think we've lost perspective on this in the recent discussion. It does not matter that Mr. Lowe has an impressive list of accomplishments. While it is sad that he has MS, that is not the point either. The question is whether the ice tower will be a good thing for Ogden. Even more, will it be worth the cost to Ogden taxpayers at a time we need to use any available funding for infrastructure repairs. Residents in the northern part of town know how badly the water system needs repair, we may need to spend more on snow removal this winter and be left with damage to our roads that also need work.

The ice tower is a luxury. Infrastructure is a necessity.

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