Saturday, May 31, 2008

My View on Ogden

Ogden City government as perceived by an insider

By Chad Phares
Former Ogden City Council Communications Specialist

May 16 was my last day of employment with Ogden City. I was offered a writing/editing position in SLC that I considered to be a better for for myself so I decided to take it. The pay is essentially the same. The career move was not about money. During the year-and-a-half that I was employed with Ogden City, I would check the blog from time to time to keep an eye on the pulse of those who contributed to the blog. I appreciate the nice things that were said about me from time to time.

However, it should be understood that while I worked hard and did my best, the increased transparency with the Council was certainly not my idea. I was just hired to implement it. There have been a lot of spiteful and untrue things said about some Council staff members and I think if people on the outside truly understood the kind of work that people on the Council staff do, I believe it would not have been said.

I'd like to say that Bill Cook is as good of a boss as I have ever worked for. He is open, honest, detail-oriented and hard-working. Seeing posts on here over the months I was employed by the City that claimed that Bill and the Mayor were somehow in cahoots was laughable. Bill is constantly pushing for more transparency and he is a big reason why the Council's communications effort was ever launched in the first place.

Council Policy Analysts Alan Franke and Sue Zampedri work just as hard and put in long hours. They care about the work they do and they do a great job. In fact, they are constantly having to go above and beyond the call of duty when they receive information from the Administration that is either incomplete or incorrect.

As far as the my dealings with the mayor go, I can't really say much. I think he never spoke more than five words to me. I have my opinions, some good, some bad. But he, like most people, has some good attributes and some flaws. So do I. I'd venture to say that you probably do, too.

As far as the Council goes, I will not name names. In general, I think there are some dynamic Council members who put a lot of work into their duties on the Council. By the same token, I think there are other Council members who probably could be more effective if they spent some more time delving into the issues.

Having said that, these are part-time Council members. They are being asked to keep up with all of the knowledge that the Mayor has, but this is a difficult thing to do. Being the Mayor is Godfrey's full-time job. Council members have other jobs that they often need to tend to. I think even those Council members who truly try to stay on top of things have difficulties doing so, because the workload is so hefty. The Council staff does all they can to help, but you can take a horse to water, but you can't make him drink, you know?

I believe this Council has still not quite figured out who they are. There are different levels of experience, understanding and commitment. Each feels obligated to certain things. I think they are still searching for common ground.

In general, my experience in Ogden was nice. It is obvious that people are passionate about the city. I truly hope everything works out well with all of the projects going on.

By the way, here are my opinions about some of those things:

Gondola -- I think it would be a fun attraction that I would probably ride on once.
Mt. Ogden Golf Course -- Subsidizing it by $200,000 a year is not that big of a deal. There is plenty of money being wasted in other places. At least the golf course has some use.
Water Horizons -- This was kind of my baby. I think it will be good for the city, just remember all the good things that are happening when you start to get your summer water bills.


Little Bird said...

Very nice post and it was nice to read a well writen polite post. Especially after reading yesterday's and this morning's comments. I wonder would we all attack/talk to each other like this if we were to meet in public? I would hope not. Anyway I missed the car show that was yesterday evening. Did anybody attend it? Did it bring people in and was the atmosphere nice? Also does anybody know of things/activities happening in Ogden today/tonight that could draw citizens out of their homes and smile and chat. Something that would promote "positive" energy?

RudiZink said...

You're right, little bird. Chad's submitted article was a very fine and gracious piece. That's why we posted it.

Chad and I have had intermittent correspondence over the past year and a half; and I do hold him in high esteem.

Interestingly, Chad had 1-1/2 year opportunity to work with the council... and the beauty of it... now that he's departed to the private sector: He has no particular axe to grind.

I too look at it as a very pleasant (and enlightening) post, (although I disagree with you, and would argue that it was possibly "overly-polite.)

Little Bird said...

It may have been "over-polite" but perhaps that is what Ogden needs. I'm not suggesting that the Ogden adminstration is not corrupt, since this forum makes is unmistakably clear that the mayor and his minions are on the wrong side of the fence when it comes to ethics. But a handful of people cannot ruin a city's charm.

I believe that a city's energy and success can only be as good as the citizens are willing to make it. If one focuses on the negative aspects at all times then soon that is all one'll see.

It was refreshing to see a positive post especially on such a beautiful day.

RudiZink said...

"It was refreshing to see a positive post especially on such a beautiful day."

Agreed. Don't think for a minute that you blogmeister takes pleasure in the daily flogging of the little tyrant (my neighbor five doors south) who's split the sentiments of Ogden City citizens in two.

Once the Boss Godfrey tyrant is driven out of office, (to Draper, perhaps) I'm sure we'll become the chirpiest and nicest bog in the blogospere, fer sure.

Until then, expect a lot more citizen anger and angst.

danny said...

This is a problem.

It's a big problem.

It's why Muqtada al Sadr is still alive after killing hundreds of Americans in Iraq, being cornered twice, and let go twice by the US government.

They wanted to be nice. They thought they could work with the guy.

So he went to Iran and kills Americans from there.

Being nice is something bad guys use as their stock in trade.

It's why America will never be the country it once was. We used to know how to deal with enemies.

Godfrey needs to be prosecuted, not talked nice to, or about.

The city council is always making nice, like the paper says they should, and Godfrey keeps running over them.

Being nice is not the goal of living or the pinnacle of goodness that some think it is, far from it.

Sometimes you have to simply defeat the enemy. People used to think that was the definition of good. That was when America was ascendant.

Those days are gone. Let's play nice with the bad guys. Yeah.

Curmudgeon said...

Mr. Phares:

Just thought I'd say that in my view public access to and notice of Council proceedings improved significantly with your arrival. I am sorry to see you go, but happy that you've found a good career move. Best of luck.

Jason W. said...

You crack me up with your THE GONDOLA sentiment, Mr. Phares."Fun"? I get your sarcasm about riding it once, but you need to state the truth: It's the dumbest goddamn thing ever proposed, anywhere, for any purpose, by anyone. You know as well as I do, since you're going to work in The Big Shitty in which I lived for seven years, that Lying Little Matty Gondola Godfrey and his GONDOLA TO NOWHERE are state-wide jokes. You'll likely spend the next two years talking about what a jackass Lying Little Matty Gondola Godfrey is and what dupes Ogdenites are. And you will be justified, but we are not. 500 morons gave us this five-foot-five Forehead, GONDOLA lover, and we have to live with it. It's a shame you don't. God bless. And P.S.: Salt Lake Shitty ain't no fun.


caddyhack said...

Thank you for your service Mr. Phares. Working to provide transparency in government is a worthy goal. Good on you and good luck in SLC.

GreenLobbyist said...

This has been a very pleasant post to read. It appears that many people agree with what Mr. Phares contributed to Ogden City. One thing that is missing is who is taking Phares' place? Will this person be just as beneficial?
Mr. Phares, who is replacing you? Do you have any recommendations?

Bill C. said...

Sad to see you go Chad. You are one of the many faces I enjoy seeing at the Muni Building. I do understand that you couldn't end it with, "cut Bill Cook and his staff some slack. Lying little matty and ilk are devious coniving slimeball crooks that have never told the truth." Good luck Chad.

Chad said...


I believe the position is posted right now until June 6. My understanding is that there will probably be a new communications manager by the end of June.

I have no idea how many applications have been received or who has applied. I'm sure they will choose a very qualified person to fill the position.

I really enjoyed the job, but the long hours weighed heavily on my family. I think there are probably a lot of qualified people who have applied for the job. It's a great job.

Thanks for the kind words.

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