Monday, June 30, 2008

120-year History of the Standard-Examiner

Another multimedia marvel from the Standard-Examiner

Local red meat news is a mite sparse this week as we move into the Fourth of July holiday, a time when one of our chief sources of material -- local print media newsrooms -- typically seem to fall into a state of suspended animation. Having failed to come up with anything this morning which is even remotely politically scandalous, we've settled instead on putting the focus on an item which we believe will appeal to our resident Ogden history buffs.

The Standard-Examiner posted an interesting article on its website yesterday, commemorating our home town newspaper's 120 years in the news business. Embedded in that article is yet another example of the Std-Ex's vigorous embrace of 21st century multimedia technology, which we've linked in the media player below.

It's a fascinating video, we think, tracing the Standard-Examiner's (and indeed Ogden's) history, from the time of the coming of the railroad to the present day. Of particular interest we thought, was the Sd-Ex's critical and pivotal role during the 1950's in preventing then Governor J. Bracken Lee from transferring Weber College to the LDS Church:

Be sure to check out the video and let us know what you think.

And we don't know about the rest of you, but having viewed the commercial, and speaking for ourselves, we're headed down to CJ's for a burger.

We know that's at least one place where we can get some nutritious red meat, even on a slow news day.

Alternate Reality Department: Buy FLDS Fashions on the Web

Warren Jeffs' pod people cash in on their 15 minutes of fame

From this morning's Salt Lake Tribune:

A new clothing brand may be born out of the Texas raid on a polygamous sect.
FLDS women for the first time are offering their handmade, distinctive style of children's clothes to the public through the Web site
Launched initially to provide Texas authorities with clothing for FLDS children in custody, the online store now is aimed at helping their mothers earn a living.
The venture, which has already drawn queries from throughout the U.S., is banking on interest in modest clothes, curiosity and charity to be a success.
Check the link below for the latest in geeky duds. Your kids will be glad you did.

And a gentle reminder... there's an important holiday coming up in just four short months. Imagine parading your brood around Emerald City on Halloween night, dressed in the distinctive garb of the kids from YFZ Ranch.

That'll definitely set the tongues waggin' down at the neighborhood ward house.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Congressional Democrats on the Take?

Telecom Amnesty Flip-Floppers Got More Telecom Dollars

Revealing data from from, -- further evidence that campaign contribution money talks:

Democrats who switched from opposing to supporting legal amnesty to telecoms that aided the government's warrantless wiretapping program received twice as much money, on average, from telcom political action groups than Democrats whose opposed the idea in March and again last Friday, according to an analysis of campaign donations by
220 Democratic members of the House voted against telecom amnesty in March, when the Democrats unexpectedly rejected a Bush-backed Senate spying bill. But, 94 of those switched their vote last Friday, supporting a bill ironed out by the House leadership that expands the government's ability to conduct blanket wiretaps inside American telecom facilities and freeing those companies from the 40 or so lawsuits pending in Federal court. analyzed the contributions to both sets of the Democrats and found that those who switched their votes received, on average, 40 percent more money in campaign contributions over the last three years from Sprint, Verizon and AT&T's political action committees.
On average, those who changed their votes collected $8,359 dollars from those PACs from January 2005 through March 2008, while those who did not change their opposition collected $4,987.
Plaintiffs in 40 federal lawsuits had the telcoms on the ropes, for their spineless capitulation to the Bush Administration's illegal wiretaps -- and our asleep at the wheel federal legislature changed the law, and let these corporate criminals and tortfeasors completely off the hook.

Remember... it's the Democrats who are promising change in November... the same promise made in 2006, by the way.

So somebody's going to have to remind us again, because we've forgotten: What's the difference, exactly, between the spineless and self serving gaggle of Democrats who control the reins of Congress now, and the spineless pack of neoCON Republicans US voters fired in 2006?

We swear it's enough to cause us to grow politically cynical in our old age.

Maybe a few of our "yellow dog" Demo regulars can help us out with this.

Don't all speak up at once.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday Open Thread; But First an Amusing Video

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

(Pretty funny, HUH? If you're anything like us... it only hurts when you "laugh.")

Moving on...

It's been quite a while since we offered up an open topic thread, providing our readers carte blanche to discuss whatever they dang well want. We've spent hours this morning scouring our usual news sources for even a hint of red meat; and this morning we've essentially come up dry... except for the above.

We'll thus leave it to our gentle readers.

What's on your minds this morning?

Last one out, please turn out the lights.

"DC v. Heller Round Up": Spotlight on a Grand Array of Post-"Heller" Articles

All the analysis you'll ever need re Thursday's "Heller" decision

A short two days after release of the US Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, gun rights activists are already lining up at the courthouse, seeking to overturn existing legislation providing for blanket bans on private gun ownership. The New York Times provides a story this morning on the first such lawsuit apparently to arise in this connection. We incorporate a few key story paragraphs below:
SAN FRANCISCO — Using the new judicial muscle provided by the Supreme Court’s affirmation of the right to bear arms, the National Rifle Association and another pro-gun group sued San Francisco and its housing authority on Friday to invalidate a ban on handguns in public housing.
But officials here and in other cities where gun restrictions are now being challenged took a defiant stance. As the lawsuit was being filed, San Francisco officials held a news conference in the city’s hardscrabble Western Addition neighborhood to announce a series of antigun measures. Mayor Gavin Newsom said the timing was coincidental, but apt.
Mr. Newsom, who said he suspected that the rifle association might also sue to overturn a local ordinance requiring trigger-locks, challenged N.R.A. officials to come to his city and spend time in public housing developments, which he said were often overrun with weapons.
“We don’t happen to believe that it’s good public policy in public housing sites where guns and violence is the highest in our city and, for that matter, respectively, in cities across America, to say ‘Hey, come on in; let’s everybody get guns,’ ” said Mr. Newsom, a Democrat.
In the months (and years) to come, we'll inevitably see a flood of litigation in America, as gun rights activists battle government public policy makers and regulators in the courts, to determine the boundaries of the "individual" Second Amendment constitutional protections recognised in the Thurday's High Court decision.

Our own Thursday article on the topic generated considerable web traffic, making it obvious to us that our gentle WCF readers were quite interested in the implications of the Heller decision.

It's for those readers that we've hunted down this most excellent blog article, from the SCOTUS Blog, entitled "DC v. Heller Round-Up." We hope our resident Second Amendment watchers will appreciate and find useful the considerable array of articles which are compiled and linked from the site. It kept your humble blogmeister (a Second Amendment advocate himself) occupied this morning for several hours.

Comments are invited, as always.

Don't hesitate to chip in your own two-bits.

Friday, June 27, 2008

More GOP Crap From a ST. George neoCON GOP Go-fer

The 2008 General Election will be Great Fun, I'm sure

By Thoroughly Disgruntled Utah Republican

This is very interesting. The normally gentlemanly and politically temperate Steve Urquhart today lashes out on his blog at several of his legislative colleagues, Neil Hansen, Sheryl Allen and Steve Mascaro, namely, labeling them a "Cancer."

Damn. These three have upset the authoritarian GOP legislative leadership "applecart," and actually questioned the ethics of a member of the "Capitol Hill GOP Country Club"... and the compliant suck-up GOP go-fers are going haywire. Even the normally taciturn Steve Urquhart has apparently gone nuts. Perhaps "Steve" will get a pat on the head from GOP House leadership Speaker of the house/GOP mafioso Greg Curtis because of this.

And Aholes like Urquhart think it's OK to stifle bills presented by legislators who won't kowtow to scumbags like Curtis and Valentine. And they think "maverick" legislators who "won't play the GOP leadership game" are a disease. It's a sad day in Utah because of this. Sad, very sad.

Isn't there a House Rule, BTW, that says that a sitting legislator like Urquhart is "prohibited from impugning the motives of a fellow legislator?" If so, does this apply to the A-hole from St. George? Or do loyal Republicans get a pass?

As the 2008 general election approaches, we already know it will be great fun.

I'm hoping some hard-core GOP neoCONS will get their asses handed to them in November.

Current GOP legislative leadership is a far worse curse than anything the Demos could ever bring upon us.


Thoroughly Disgruntled Utah Republican.

Walker Remains in the Hotseat: Criminal and Ethics Investigations Pending

Will Representative Walker rat out "Mr. Big?"

On the heels of yesterday's news, concerning the ongoing turmoil surrounding the now concluded State Treasurer's GOP primary race, reporter Jesse Fruhworth jumps into the fray, with this morning's informative Standard-Examiner article, adding tantalizing details which were unavailable yesterday. The plot thickens, per Mr. Fruhworth's paragraphs below:
BOUNTIFUL — Five lawmakers who have called for an ethics investigation of a Republican legislator want to know: Who is Rep. Mark Walker’s powerful friend?
Three Democrats and two Republican representatives have asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate whether Walker violated ethics rules connected to bribery allegations in his unsuccessful bid for the state treasurer’s nomination. The group of five also want the Ethics Committee to find out “whether another unnamed legislator colluded with Walker.” [...].
Walker was defeated in the Republican primary this week amid allegations of election law violations made by his opponent, Richard Ellis. Currently the chief deputy state treasurer, Ellis accused Walker of offering him a pay raise and promising to retain him in his current position if he would drop out of the race. [Emphasis added]
Mr. Fruhworth provides further detail, including choice quotes from Ogden's own Legislative District 9 State Representative Neil Hansen:
Walker had to forgo a re-election bid for the House to run for treasurer. Some legislators are trying to expand the ethics investigation to include more than just the lame duck.
The group of five lawmakers seized on one comment in Ellis’ affidavit in particular.
“(Walker) also told me he could ‘make it happen’ and that he had talked with ‘the person’ who could make it happen,” the affidavit states.
Rep. Neil Hansen, D-Ogden, wants Walker, under oath, to tell them who that person is.
“Who are the people who are behind this? Who knew it?” Hansen said. “If (Walker) has nothing to hide, if he feels nothing is wrong, he needs to name who was with him in trying to do this. … It has to be somebody with very powerful means who can garner the votes to make it happen.”
Hansen said the list of possible identities of “the person” is long, but he believes the person must be a legislator who could increase the treasurer’s office budget.
Hansen said the group calling for the ethics investigation — Hansen, Sheryl Allen, R-Bountiful; Steve Mascaro R-West Jordan; Rosalind McGee, D-Salt Lake City; and Phil Riesen, D-Salt Lake City — feels an obligation to protect the integrity of the House of Representatives.
The article also clarifies Attorney General Shurtleff's position about whether his office will look into Walker's possible criminal culpability in this matter:
The Utah Attorney General’s office reversed course Thursday and said it will initiate a criminal investigation of Walker after all.
In a news release, the attorney general’s office said Walker would be guilty of a misdemeanor if the accusations are true. Republican Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings and Democratic Weber County Attorney Mark Decaria have been appointed to investigate.
And there's this additional wrinkle which is most likely giving Mr. Walker additional heartburn:
The complaint from the five representatives also requests a ruling on whether Walker’s vote to increase the salary of the treasurer’s position two years prior makes his own run for that seat a violation of House ethics rules.
This story is developing more plot twists than a dime novel. We'll certainly be sitting on the edge of seats, waiting to find out whether Mr. Walker will rat out "Mr. Big."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Corporate Welfare State Remains Alive and Well In Ogden

The reader response to this article are SO HOT... We've moved it to "front page, top"

This morning's Standard-Examiner delivers a brief summary of last night's Council/RDA sessions, in which he reports that our city council voted 4-3 to squander another $100 thousand on yet another ill-conceived Godfrey pipedream. Unfortunately, the story is a mite thin, we think. Although several projects and initiatives were on last night's agendas, Ace Reporter Schwebke, for reasons unknown, limits his reporting to the council's treatment of the Ice Tower Project. Notwithstanding this deficiency, we nevertheless incorporate a few of Mr. Schwebke's key paragraphs below:
OGDEN — By a 4-3 vote, the city council amended the municipality’s budget Tuesday night enabling the allocation of $100,000 for construction of a controversial ice climbing tower.
The allocation is part of an overall budget amendment that earmarks $2.7 million in fiscal 2007 carryover money and BDO lease proceeds to finance a variety of city projects and initiatives.
City council members who voted against the budget amendment included Dorrene Jeske, Amy Wicks and Doug Stephens. [...].
The budget amendment requires the $100,000 onetime allocation be used only for construction of the tower and prohibits the money from being spent until funds are raised to complete the project.
By process of elimination,we suppose it's fair to deduce that these are the publicly elected fiduciaries, YOUR city council members, who thought it was quite alright to dole out $100 thousand of YOUR hard-earned taxpayer dollars, to roll the dice on this nit-witted project, and put Jeff Lowe's private company on the public dole:
• Jesse Garcia
• Caitlin Gochnour
• Blaine Johnson
• Brandon Stephensen
The corporate welfare state remains alive and well in Ogden, while financial prudence and discipline fly out the council chamber window. We believe these four should be ashamed of themselves.

Mr. Schwebke notes one dissenting council member's objection to the commitment of public funds toward this project:
[Councilwoman] Jeske said she opposed the amendment because taxpayer funds shouldn’t be used to help construct the $1.6 million ice tower planned for the corner of 25th Street and Kiesel Avenue. “It’s supposed to be a private enterprise,” she said.
According to other sources however, we believe Ms. Jeske's objection may have been more complicated than that, in which connection we incorporate this information received in a lower article comment section last night from gentle reader Steve A.:
Councilwoman Jeske tried to persuade the other Council members for more than 15 minutes saying that a summary document that they had received Friday had areas of concern that stated the City would be responsible for the construction, the refrigeration and everything else to make it operational.
Is there a document floating out there which would bind Ogden City to contribute to this boneheaded project beyond the limitations set forth in last night's conditional budget allocation? Has Boss Godfrey entered into any separate agreements with Jeff Lowe which might require further contributions from the city, in the event that the project fails to meet rosy expectations? If so we'd love to get our hands on them.

And what about the other items which were set for last night's agenda? Ace Reporter Schwebke provides nothing about the other projects and initiatives which we discussed yesterday:
• The 2008 Junction Bailout ($1.5 million)
• High Adventure Business Recruitment Scheme ($200 thousand)
• Debt Reduction Plan
Perhaps a few of our readers can offer their own comments and observations, to fill in the blanks left by Mr. Schwebke's short article, which (now that we think about it) may have suffered from the constraints of a tight publication deadline.

SL-Trib: Five Lawmakers Seek an Ethics Probe of Walker

More low brow entertainment springing from the GOP State Treasurer's race

Despite this morning's news that the the Lt. Governor's office now considers the matter moot, the bribery beef swirling around the recently resolved GOP State Treasurer primary election race is apparently far from dead. This morning's Salt Lake Tribune reports the matter will now be investigated as a possible ethics violation by the state legislature. We incorporate Cathy McKitrick's opening paragraphs below:
An ethics complaint, signed by five state lawmakers and filed Wednesday on Capitol Hill, calls for an investigation into one of their own - outgoing Rep. Mark Walker, R-Sandy.
Republican Reps. Sheryl Allen, of Bountiful; and Steve Mascaro, of West Jordan, joined Democratic Reps. Neil Hansen, of Ogden; Roz McGee, of Salt Lake City; and Phil Riesen, of Holladay, to ask that the House Ethics Committee probe recent bribery allegations against Walker.
"They're empowered by the state Constitution to look into the character of its members and determine if there's cause to expel a member," said attorney Alan Smith, who has teamed with David Irvine to bring the charges forward.
To characterise such an action by the legislature as "unusual" would be a gross understatement. According to this morning's Tribune story, Utah Legislators haven't taken a member of their own body to task on an alleged ethics violation for at least ten years:
It takes the request of at least three lawmakers to initiate a legislative ethics investigation. The last such charge was a decade ago, when then-House Speaker Mel Brown was accused of improperly discussing a job prospect with a lobbyist.
Brown was cleared of wrongdoing by the panel of his peers.
Grab a bag of popcorn and pull up your barca-loungers, gentle readers. We haven't gotten this much pure entertainment from the State Treasurer's Office since... Forever.

US Supreme Court: DC Gun Ban Unconstitutional

SCOTUS rules 5-4 for firearms rights

This morning's Salt Lake Tribune breaks the story 2nd Amendment activists have been awaiting for years. This from today's wire service story:

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Americans have a right to own guns for self-defense and hunting, the justices' first major pronouncement on gun rights in U.S. history.
The court's 5-4 ruling struck down the District of Columbia's 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. The decision went further than even the Bush administration wanted, but probably leaves most firearms laws intact.
The court had not conclusively interpreted the Second Amendment since its ratification in 1791. The amendment reads: ''A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
The basic issue for the justices was whether the amendment protects an individual's right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia.
Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said that an individual right to bear arms is supported by "the historical narrative" both before and after the Second Amendment was adopted.
The Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home," Scalia said. The court also struck down Washington's requirement that firearms be equipped with trigger locks.
So much for the shabby argument that the right to firearm ownership is somehow dependent upon service in a state militia. The Second Amendment was designed by The Founders to protect an individual's right to own and use firearms, according the today's SCOTUS opinion.

Read the Court's written opinion here, straight from the US Supreme Court website.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, gun grabbers.

Best Places in the Southwest to Buy an Old House

Our "High-adventure Mecca's" disappointing #12 finish in the "Outdoor Enthusiast" category strikes a sour note

By Southsider

This Old House has a list of the best place in each state to buy an old house. For Utah, it's not the Avenues or Sugarhouse, but the "Central Bench Historic District, Ogden, Utah.":

Best Places in the Southwest to Buy an Old House - #6

Somewhat disappointed that we're only 12th in the "Outdoor Enthusiast" category:

Best Places for Outdoor Enthusiasts to Buy an Old House - #12

Check it out.

Editor's note: Nary a mention of "gondolas" on any of the This Old House web pages. Imagine that.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

2008 Utah Primary Election Results

Real-time results from the Utah Elections Office site

For those readers who are following today's Primary Election races, we've created these links to the State Elections Office website, where results are already flowing in.

Here's a link to the main menu, where results can be viewed for all Utah races.

For Weber County residents, we've carved out two pages which are pertinent to the races included on today's Weber County ballots.

State Treasurer
House Legislative District 7

Each of these pages is programmed to refresh at 90 second intervals.

Just another helpful resource for Weber County Forum readers.

Comments are invited, as always

Council/RDA Board Meeting Tonight: $2.7 Million of YOUR Money on the Table

Fat chunk of taxpayer cash burns a hole in Boss Godfrey's pocket

This morning's Standard-Examiner provides a timely reminer about tonight's Council/RDA meetings, during which the Council/RDA Board will be dealing out a quite hefty chunk of taxpayer cash. Ace Reporter reports that there are 2.7 million dollars of City and RDA moneys on the table, just waiting to be allocated to deserving projects. We'll briefly go over them one by one, adding our own editorial comments as we move along.

First in order of magnitude is the $1.5 million or so which will need to be immediately allocated, so that the so-far insolvent Junction Project won't find itself embarrassingly in default on payments toward the bonds which funded original Junction construction. We'll call this "The 2008 Junction Bailout" for short, and treat it with a spirit of grudging resignation. Now that the bonds have been issued, and the bond proceeds have been expended, the RDA Board has exactly zero discretion on this matter. As a consequence of the administration's dismal planning, and the project's failure to magically generate "projected" revenue, another million-and-a-half in taxpayer dollars will be committed to the Junction money pit. And here's the kicker. According to Council Vice-chair Doug Stephens, Boss Godfrey's apparent new administration spokesman, we can expect to fund similar mandatory "Junction bailouts" for the foreseeable future.

Next, there's the there's "High Adventure Business Recruitment Scheme" -- "bureaucratese" terminology which translates into common street vernacular as "bribes" and "payoffs." Although we recognise $200 thousand is relative "chump change" in the MattGodfreyWorld big picture, we still wonder why Godfrey believes it's necessary to pay recreation companies to move to a great place like Ogden.

Then, there's the "Ice Tower Project," of course. With all that uncommitted taxpayer cash rattling around, there are still at least four council members who apparently seem to believe its quite alright to blithely drop $100 thousand on this crackpot project. What the hell? It's not these council members' own money anyway. We've already talked about this however to the point that we've now grown hoarse. We'll thus suggest that those readers who'd like to bone up on our earlier ruminations should click this link.

And yet finally, there's an initiative which actually looks to us to be very inviting and appealing. A "Debt Reduction Plan?" How about that? Surely this idea couldn't have originated in Godfrey's ninth floor office. We suppose however that suggesting the $300 thousand in proposed "High Adventure Recuitment" and "Ice Tower" handouts be applied to debt reduction might be asking a bit too much.

Before turning over the Weber County Forum floor for discussion, we'll again furnish our city council contact information link.

If you can't personally attend tonight's public sessions, you can at least email our wise (and hopefully thrifty) city legislators, and let them know what you think. What the heck. Send an email even if you do plan to attend.

Weber County GOP Voters: Don't Forget to Vote In Today's Primary Election

Earn your "I Voted" lapel sticker, which you can proudly flaunt all day long

Just another reminder for Weber County Republicans. Please don't neglect or forget to vote in today's GOP primary election. If you need basic candidate information, check out the article which we published here on Saturday.

Unsure of your polling location? Find it on this sheet, which our pals at the Standard-Examiner helpfully published on Sunday.

If you're uncertain of your assigned voting precinct, make use of the Weber County Clerk's excellent Precinct Locator. Once the program has loaded, click the "Geocode Tool" icon in the right column, and enter your residential street address and city. This great little program will do the rest, generating a map, showing the voting precinct in which you reside and vote.

For those of you who aren't strongly motivated to drive to the polls to vote for candidates in the mere one or two elective offices which are in contention on today's Weber County ballots, remember, there are serious issues at stake.

Perhaps a review of yesterday's Ralph Wakley letter to the letter will get the political juices flowing for those of you who might have been inclined to sit this primary out.

Get on down to the polls, gentle readers. With today's short ballot, it won't cost more than a couple of minutes, tops. And once you've cast your vote, you'll be able to proudly flaunt that "I Voted" sticker everywhere you go, all day long.

Update 6/24/08 9:01 a.m. MT: Check out KNVU Radio's most excellent blog site, for live interviews of State Treasurer candidates Ellis and Walker.

Monday, June 23, 2008

More Boss Godfey Propaganda

Seriously: Some "old fart" swears he just forked over 400 bucks to watch "The Godfrey Propaganda Channel"
Truth is always stranger than fiction , we guess

Somebody please explain this idiot! This guy says he paid 400 bucks to have his satellite service disconnected so he could watch Ogden City's Godfrey propaganda channel, Comcast Channel 17? Nobody could be that stupid. Here it is anyway:

I love my Channel 17

View this magnificent video promotion, which was apparently sent to various Ogden City officials -- and thereafter surreptitiously "leaked" -- as per usual, to we Emerald City lumpencitizens -- your never-humble blogmeister being one among them.

Here's a copy of the email, which was evidently transmitted by channel 17 station manager "Bill," to various Godfrey lackeys, incorporating the ridiculous video linked above... once again... to the usual suspects:

Sent: Sunday, June 22, 2008 10:20 AM
To: Godfrey, Matthew (Godfrey, Matthew); John Patterson; Gary Williams; Brett
Hatch (Brett Hatch); John Gullo (John Gullo);; Covieo Wynn R Civ OO-ALC/XP-EUL (Covieo Wynn);

Subject: This is why COMCAST/OGDEN/WEBER CH17 matters. [heur SPAMTRAP]
This is what we continue to hear when we are out doing productions for CH17.
We finally got it on camera. -Bill
Perhaps "Bill" is a little insecure about the pure "crap" that he already broadcasts on Channel 17. Perhaps he doesn't believe his broadcasts "suck up" to Boss Godfrey "quite enough." Perhaps "Bill" would like to give Boss Godfrey a "hickey."

In a world where many cities use their public access television stations to broadcast community events like city council meetings, (Ogden City doesn't), Ogden City's Channel 17 continues to be the Godfrey Propaganda Channel.

And poor old "Bill," who probably couldn't get a REAL job at a REAL TeeVee, station, even sweeping up the film debris in the after hours... is running the whole show on Ogden's Channel 17. It's perfect. "How brown is Bill's nose," we ask.

And then again... there's the moron in the video...

This situation is straight outta Kafka, we swear.

Many thanks to the gentle reader who sent us this red meat stuff.

It's now our gentle readers' "golden" opportunity to comment about this.

U. of U. Study: The First Palpable Utah Evidence of a Market-driven Transit Oriented Development Trend?

Initial data provide some tentative support for the proposition that "New Urbanism" is already happening in Utah

Fascinating story in this morning's Salt Lake Tribune: "Gas prices, economic worries spur growth in urban residential permits." Tribune reporter Derrick P. Jensen supplies the basic info in his opening 'graphs:

Planners predicted it, but not this way - not this fast. Yet new urbanism - punctuated by a rush on downtown Salt Lake City - is sweeping a swath of northern Utah, a place long defined by suburban flight.
A new report reveals residential building permits in the south-valley boomtowns plunged 80 percent since last year. By contrast, the capital saw permits skyrocket to 194 this year from 13 in the first quarter of 2007.
Industry insiders say surging gasoline prices, a sagging economy and energy-policy uncertainty due to the presidential chase have combined to create the latest condo spurt. And it's no coincidence the new league of lofts are located near TRAX light-rail lines.
People are more interested in moving into the city center rather than moving to the suburbs," said Jeff Hatch, Salt Lake County's auditor, who still is chewing on the economics of the sudden shift. "We'll see some smart growth happening because people are concerned about their pocketbook."
The subject University of Utah study reveals a drastic drop in building permits in unincorporated Salt Lake County, quarter to quarter from the year 2007 to 2008. The resulting loss in loss of building permit revenues could spell troubling consequences for suburban Utah towns, which may be forced to respond with commensurately drastic property tax hikes. This of course would represent yet another economic factor which could spur the flight of residents of the suburbs to Utah urban centers.

And as hinted in the paragraphs above, these most recently observed trends have interesting "transit oriented development" implications:

Open-plan lofts and energy-efficient condos are sprouting along the TRAX spine
on the fringe of downtown. There is the funky Angelina's Corner on the curve of
700 South and 200 West and ultra-green Rowhaus just north of the baseball park
on West Temple, and there are hundreds of units planned at Market Station, a
walkable development slated for the warehouse district in South Salt Lake.
Although James Wood, director of the U of U's research bureau, himself cautions that the weight of evidence from this latest study is insufficient to label "new urbanism" a general trend, we'll suggest that it's common knowledge that we live in the Post-peak Oil Era. The days of pumping cheap oil from the ground are thus plainly numbered.

And "they" ain't making any more crude... which means no more cheap petro-fuel... unless Professor Peabody finally perfects his "Wayback Machine." Cheap fossil fuel, of course, is the factor which "fueled" urban sprawl in the first place.

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Boss Godfrey's Crime Reduction Squad Reportedly Takes a Bite Outta Ogden Crime

Crime in the city down 14% and 17% in two recent months... according to "Crime-fighter Godfrey"

By Curmudgeon

Just want to note, briefly, that the Standard-Examiner has three interesting gang crime stories up this morning. Two on the front page, both by Sam Cooper, can be found here and here. The unit is having a significant impact in the central city, community residents are becoming involved in crime control, and crime in the city overall was down 14% and 17% according to the Mayor in two recent months.

And in the Top of Utah section, another story reporting that gangs are moving to the suburbs to escape the increasing heat put on them by urban police gang units. Good news for Ogden, not so good for Clearfield. The story is here.

Of late, the Std-Ex has been doing some good reporting on gangs in Ogden.

Ed. Note: And wasn't it just last Thursday that we openly queried: "Whatever happened to Godfrey's 'zero tolerance policy'?"

Business Depot Ogden Thrives, Even in The Current Bad Economy

Unfortunately, substantial BDO revenues continue to be squandered

Encouraging Standard-Examiner story this morning, reporting boom times at Business Depot Ogden, the former Defense Depot Ogden, (the U.S. Army logistical supply and administrative support facility closed down by the Army in 1997, and transferred to Ogden City for use as a commercial business park in 2003.) We incorporate Jeff Demoss's lead paragraphs below:
OGDEN — The conversion of the city’s former Army depot into a top-notch industrial park has been so successful that managers at Business Depot Ogden say it’s time for a new traffic light at its main entrance. “We’re just seeing a lot more traffic these days, and it’s only going to grow,” said Steve Waldrip, project manager for The Boyer Co., which manages the park and splits leasing revenue evenly with the city. New traffic lights are likely not coming anytime soon, transportation officials say, but it’s hard not to notice all the new buildings and activity that continue to transform the 1,120-acre park into one of Northern Utah’s largest centers of employment. Since its conversion to private, commercial use began in 2000, BDO has become a thriving center of industry. It now has 80 tenants employing a combined 3,400 workers, who build everything from nutritional supplements to jet engines to kitchen sinks.
“It’s amazing to think we have tripled the number of employees since the Army depot closed,” Waldrip said.
Much like the trees planted along its major roads, growth at the park has been steady and noticeable, and progress continues despite a general slowing in the overall economy. With 1 million new square feet of space scheduled for completion this year, “this will be our best year ever,” Waldrip said.
Former Mayor Glen Mecham showed great foresight in commencing the process of obtaining this sprawling property for the benefit of the taxpayers of Ogden City; and in the interim since its acquisition, and under the competent management of the Boyer Company, the BDO project has prospered, as this morning's Std-Ex story reports.

Unfortunately, competence isn't a trait universal to all players involved with the BDO project. As our regular readers are aware, our current mayor, Boss Godfrey, couldn't keep his mitts off BDO revenue, and pledged it as collateral for Ogden's Junction Project in 2005.

As a result, BDO revenues, which had been originally earmarked for projects such as Ogden City water infrastructure, have been frittered away (and will continue to be squandered) as Boss Godfrey scrambles to cover revenue shortages involving his "brainchild," the ill-conceived and financially-floundering Junction project.

For news about the latest insult to the taxpayers of Ogden City, be sure to read this morning's Kristen Moulton story, which reports the most recent administration plan to tap the ever-deepening BDO revenue till. We incorporate the "money quote" below:
On Tuesday, the City Council will be asked to tap into the flush coffers of Business Depot Ogden to help cover $819,000 more of The Junction's debt payments.
Already, the city was using $750,000 in BDO funds to pay mall debt
this year.
Ogden City political wonks will recall Godfrey's 2005 promise, respecting the Junction Project: "The taxpayers will never be on the hook."

Food for thought as Godfrey advances ideas for new "can't miss" projects, wethinks.

And what thinks our gentle readers about all this?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Gentle Reminder: Weber County GOP Primary Set For June 24

A Heads-up for Weber County GOP voters re Tuesday's Primary Election

The Standard-Examiner provides a heads-up this morning regarding the upcoming GOP Primary Election, which is scheduled for Tuesday, June 24, 2008. From this morning's Scott Schwebke story:

NORTH OGDEN — One candidate is counting on political experience while his opponent is banking on new ideas to secure the Republican nomination for the state House District 7 seat. State Rep. Glenn Donnelson, R-North Ogden, 70, who is seeking a fifth term, is challenged by Ryan D. Wilcox, 30, a former legislative assistant, in Tuesday’s primary election.
District 7 takes in all of North Ogden, Harrisville and the northernmost portion of Ogden.
Wilcox earned a spot on the primary ballot with a one-vote margin over Donnelson
at the Weber County Republican Party Convention in April.
Polls for the primary election will open Tuesday at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Early voting began June 10 and concluded Friday.
Although this morning's article focuses mainly on the House District 7 race, there are actually two GOP offices which will be affected by 2008 Weber County primary ballots. Listed below are the respective offices and candidates. Click the highlighted links for further candidate information:

House Legislative District 7
Glenn A. Donnelson (Incumbent)
Ryan Wilcox

The survivor of Tuesday's Legislative District 7 GOP Primary will face Democratic Party nominee Rob Reynolds in the November 4th General Election.

Utah State Treasurer
Richard Ellis
Mark Walker

The GOP candidate who emerges from this race will square off this fall with Democratic Party nominee Dick Clark.

According to the Weber County Clerk's office, public notice will be posted in the Standard-Examiner tomorrow, Sunday, June 22, 2008. GOP voters should be sure to check their newspaper for polling times and locations.

And being the curious type, we'll open the floor for comments regarding our gentle readers' own preferences in each of these races.

Who will be the first to comment?

Friday, June 20, 2008

"Stand By Your Tram"

More innovative and entertaining stuff from the Standard-Examiner

We really have to hand it to Don Porter and the rest of the crew at the Standard-Examiner. With the newspaper's recent foray into online multimedia, these guys and gals are proving themselves to be imaginative, resourceful and downright entertaining. In an era when most of the print media remain, shall we say, stodgy, and seemingly unable (or unwilling) to adapt to the realities of a web-based media marketplace, the folks at the Std-Ex have demonstrated an encouraging propensity to experiment and innovate, and in the process have managed to produce some online material which is quite worthy of note.

For example, in April, we highlighted a hard-hitting Don Porter video editorial, for which we offered our rave review. More recently Mr. Porter gave us a heads-up on a series of online Boss Godfrey audio interview snippets, which served as the foundation for another WCF article and provocative reader discussion.

This morning we'll highlight still another notable Std-Ex online offering, a highly-humorous music video parody on a topic that's near and dear to our Weber County Forum hearts, featuring, as an added bonus, the multi-talented Don Porter on vocals.

Before we provide the link however, this morning's Don Porter commentary provides the setup.

And without further ado... the video: Stand by Your Tram:

According to this morning's commentary, Don is seeking reader input. Don's email addy is here: We don't know about the rest of you, but we intend to write in and give Don, Mark, Bryan, et alia a very hearty thumbs-up.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Emperor Godfrey Fiddles While the Lumpencitizens Duck For Cover

Godfrey's "crime fighter" campaign promises fizzle

Despite Boss Godfrey's glib 2007 election campaign promise to adopt a zero tolerance gang crime policy, Ogden's Central City remains a virtual war zone, as the Standard-Examiner again reports in this morning's edition. From today's Sam Cooper story, under the blaring front page headline, "Shooting shocks residents":

OGDEN — A 19-year-old Ogden man and several residents of a downtown apartment building are grateful to be alive today after a drive-by shooting sprayed their building with bullets.
Police said four or five shots from a dark-colored SUV smacked into an apartment at 235 28th St. shortly before midnight Tuesday, one piercing the wall and another narrowly missing a woman and her young child nearby.
Witnesses said nearly a dozen people were near, or in, the apartment at the time for a barbecue, including five children between the ages of 7 months and 5 years old.
“I was sitting on the couch watching TV, then it sounded like fireworks or bottles breaking out on the sidewalk,” said Jordan Nelson.
Then a bullet burst through the wall, sending a cloud of plaster into the air. It passed directly over the children’s play area, and over the head of a young girl lying on the carpet, witnesses said.
“Everyone started running toward the kitchen,” Nelson said. “I went to do the same thing, but couldn’t … I’d been shot.”
Six months post-election, the lumpencitizens, men, women and children alike, are still ducking for cover, terrorized by gang violence, even inside their own homes.

And where is Boss Godfrey and his "zero tolerance," as the gang crime situation continues to deteriorate in our inner city?

Godfrey plainly has other fish to fry.

As Godfrey pursues his single-minded "vision" to transform Emerald City into the world's largest (and silliest) amusement park, we predict custom-fitted flak jackets and bullet proof vests are bound to become the newest locally-inspired haute couture MattGodfeyWorld urban battle gear/fashion statement:

Sierra Club: Godfrey Illegally Hiding Gondola Project Information

Boss Godfrey makes mince-meat of the American principle of open government

By Curmudgeon

Well, Godfrey's consistent if nothing else. I'll give him that. He conceals from the Council the buyer in the Bootjack matter. He won't tell the Council or public what the city lobbyist is doing. He hides the fact that the city was acting as purchasing agent for Mr. Lesham in acquiring options in the River Project RDA area. And now he's spending thousands in court to try to prevent records showing the extent to which his administration was involved in the push for a flatland gondola from downtown to WSU, and the amount the city spent on that push, from becoming public. He must have gotten his ideas on what the public should be permitted to know from his good friend V. Southwick.

The Standard-Examiner has a story today reporting on the lawsuit the Sierra Club brought against the Administration after the city refused, repeatedly, to make public documents and other records under the GRAMA act, which was designed to provide public access to public records. The story discusses the presentations at a recent hearing held in the Second District Court before judge W.B. West. The judge's decision is pending.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cost of Gas Influences Housing Purchases

Homes near public commute options seem to be the "hot" real estate ticket

By Curmudgeon

Story today on MSNBC.COM:

In his hunt for a new home, Demetrius Stroud crunched the numbers to find out that, with gas prices climbing, moving near an Amtrak station is the best thing for his wallet.
Stroud was looking in Elk Grove., Calif. — about 85 miles away from his job in the San Francisco Bay Area — because homes there are more affordable. But with gas at $4.50 and a car that gets about 22 miles per gallon, Stroud would be pumping $560 a month into his tank.
So instead he made an offer on a home near the train station in Davis, which will shave $160 off his commuting costs.
Hope the condos long rumored are to be nearing completion at The Junction, if they are not yet all sold to actual intending residents, note the above.

Speaking of condos, has anyone heard anything lately about the Reid condo development at the Junction RDA? I remember the announcement it was coming, pretty architect's drawings in the paper, etc. And since, nothing. Have they broken ground on the project yet? Has anything happened? Anyone know?

Wednesday Afternoon News Roundup

A couple of Std-Ex stories... and a grand new "high adventure" venue idea

There are a couple of Emerald City related items in this morning's Standard-Examiner; perhaps not exactly the red-meat stuff that we normally discuss here at Weber County Forum, but notable enough to deserve at least a mention on a slow news day.

First, there's this brief note in the Std-Ex section B sidebar informing us that the Ogden City RDA Board has taken preliminary action put itself into even deeper hock, last night approving "...'parameters for the sale' of up to $3.2 million in tax-increment revenue bonds to enable an expansion of Fresenius Medical Care. The Std-Ex gave us the full lowdown on this new bonding in an article yesterday, from which we plucked this remarkable quote, from Ogden City economic development guru Dave Harmer:
The cost to acquire the land and move the bus facility to a new location, near 1900 West and 2100 South in West Haven, was initially projected to be about $6 million, said Dave Harmer, the city’s community and economic development director.
However, that price tag has grown to $11.3 million because construction costs have risen and there is a need to build a 600-foot-long, four-lane road at the site, Harmer said. [Emphasis added].
While it appears that the RDA Board has no choice in the matter, inasmuch as the Board agreed to build a new bus facility as part of the deal to acquire the formerly Weber County owned Fresenius expansion property, we can't help but raise our eyebrows that the original cost estimate fell short by more that 50% of the facility's actual $9.2 million price tag. Harmer and the rest of the economic development crew are paid big money to spin the dials and pull the levers for the Ogden City redevolopment agency, raising the natural question: What the heck are we paying these high-priced suits for, anyway? Can anyone within our vast WCF readership shed some light on how Dave Harmer's estimates could have turned out to be so incredibly wrong?

In the second item, Scott Schwebke reports that Boss Godfrey unveiled at last night's council work session the five new exciting new venues mentioned in Monday's Std-Ex teaser story, and here they are (drumroll) -- as first revealed to the council last night:
• An indoor waterpark and aquatic center featuring an Olympic-sized pool.
• A velodrome, which is a specialized arena that would feature indoor tennis, cycling and archery. Godfrey envisions the facility being used to train cyclists for the Olympic Games.
• An outdoor BMX bicycle track.
• A facility that Godfrey described as a “skatepark on steroids” that would aim to be the best in the nation and a major tourism attraction. “Kids (who skateboard) will travel the country looking for the best parks,” he told the city council
• Separate equestrian and mountain bike trails that would begin near 20th Street and Ogden Avenue, extend along a bluff owned by the city and end near the mouth of Ogden Canyon.
We don't know about the rest of you, but we barely got a moment's sleep over the last two days, wondering what grand new ideas Boss Godfrey had concocted to perfect our new marketing image as the world's mecca for "high adventure recreation." Having said that, we have to confess that none of these particularly "lifted our skirt." We don't regard these as bad ideas, mind you, however we did wonder whether any of them was worthy of two days' Godfreyesque mystery-style suspense.

We're pressed with private business this afternoon, so we're forced to be brief. Nevertheless, we will reveal one more great idea which occurred to us while biting our nails the past couple of days, whilst awaiting Godfrey's latest "revelations." Imagine these electro-mechanical devices placed in recreation stations, bars, cafes and kiosks all around our town. This would be a sure money-maker, we think -- something we're sure RAMP Fund administrators will simply be unable to resist.

Imagine hundreds of these devices, strategically scattered all over town. We could dub them "Whac-a-Matts" (Click to enlarge image):

We crack ourselves up...

Please feel free to consider this an open topic thread.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cheers all around from the Standard-Examiner

Editorial board moderates its tone re earlier council behavior

By Curmudgeon

The Standard-Examiner has an editorial this morning cheering on Ernest's closing on land in the River Project RDA area for its planned rehab hospital. It has some interesting passages in it. For example, this [all emphases in the following are mine]:

Ogden’s officials, including Mayor Matthew Godfrey and city council members, deserve credit for getting Ernest Health back to the city. You’ll recall that in January 2006, Ernest pulled out of the deal after a meeting with Ogden’s RDA board. It was alleged that Ernest took offense at questions about the firm’s investors and finances from board members.The RDA board later apologized and further negotiations resulted in Ernest eventually returning to the deal. This is a great achievement for Ogden. Having the rehab hospital here should be a decades-long benefit to the city.
Nice to see the editorial recognizing that the Godfrey narrative [i.e. that irresponsible council members rudely attacked Ernest execs and drove them away, and that only herculean efforts by Hizzonah saved the deal] is not established fact, but only one narrative of what happened. [Note alleged in the editorial.] Since newspapers provide the first draft of history, it's nice to see the editorial board recognizing that the facts of this particular story are still disputed.

And nice to see the Council and Administration both recognized and applauded for making it happen in the end. Interesting what can be done for the city's good when the Mayor decides to work with, rather than around, the Council.

Standard-Examiner: Clearfield Midtown Development in Foreclosure

"It's no big deal," bigshot developer says, "Bigshot developers do this all the time"

This morning we'll highlight a most revealing Bryan Saxton story in the Standard-Examiner, concerning the latest setback for Larry Myler, the Orem-based developer who'd been lined up by Boss Godfrey to develop that snazzy new downtown hotel at the northeast corner of Ogden's City's Junction project. From this morning's story:
CLEARFIELD — A notice of default has been filed against Midtown Village LLC by a Utah County bank for $54,476 in delinquent interest payments on a land loan.
But the developer of the proposed $100 million Clearfield project maintains the notice is a “minor issue” that will not interfere with the development.
The notice, filed by Central Bank with the Davis County Recorder’s Office, claims interest is owed stemming from a $2.5 million loan taken out by Midtown Village LLC for property at 788 S. University Park Blvd., Clearfield.
Midtown Village is being developed by Larry Myler, Rob Storey and partners. The development, east of the freeway, is proposed to include a live theater, residential condominiums and a hotel.
Oddly enough, Myler is completely nonplussed at the prospect of finding his Clearfield development project now in foreclosure. Myler is a bigshot developer, after all, and foreclosures are just minor nuisances which can always be cured at the very last minute by clever guys like he. Bankers, of course are just schmucks who get pushed around by bigshot developers all the time:
“That (notice) will be cured and taken care of shortly. It is a nonissue,” Myler said of the overdue amount. “I don’t think anything is going to affect the project.”
Myler said the team is not going to allow a $100 million project, which involves a $2 million investment having been already made, to be done in by a $54,000 interest payment.
The development team has 60 to 90 days to catch up the overdue amount, Myler said, “which we will do. That is the easy part.”
Myler isn't the only one who's un-rattled, it would seem. Clearfield city officials, like big government planners and schemers everywhere, are also apparently taking it all in stride:
Despite the notice of default, Clearfield leaders’ confidence in the project remains unshaken.
We'll note that it's been roughly 3-1/2 months since Mr. Myler announced that his plans for Ogden's 14-story hotel/wading pool project were put on hold. It was of course about the same time that we learned that another Myler project was also in a holding pattern. Myler's general contractor (whose payments were apparently in arrearage) had of course stopped work on a similar project in Orem a month previously, had liened the Orem property and summarily walked off the job.

Regarding the stalled Ogden hotel project, Ogden City economic development department director Dave Harmer expresses a brand of caution which seems uncharacteristic of the normally highly optimistic Mr. Harmer:
“It’s kind of on hold because of problems with the Orem (development),” said Dave Harmer, Ogden director of community and economic development.
He said Ogden leaders did not get beyond a conceptual stage with those behind the Midtown Village project.
“The current economic times are tough on projects,” he said.
So let's see now... Mr. Myler's Orem project remains stalled, his general contractor apparently remains unpaid -- and now he's in foreclosure in Clearfield.

Who amongst our gentle readers would like to predict what the next likely development will be in the Larry Myler saga?

(Here's a helpful hint: It involves a branch of the U.S. federal court system.)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Jason W. Plays It Straight

Two Standard-Examiner letters to open this morning's reader discussion.

Just to get the discussion rolling this Monday morning, we'd like to shine the spotlight on a fine Standard-Examiner letter to the editor appearing in this morning's edition, penned by the always civic-minded Jason Wood:
I was bemused, then nauseated,while reading the puerile house editorial of June 10, "Support Ogden Ice Climbing."
Apparently, the Standard-Examiner's editorial board is comprised of those who easily fall prey to the irrational bleatings of Ogden's top high-adventure carnival barker, Mayor Matt Godfrey.
These people urge the city to allocate $100,000, "even $200,000," in taxpayer funds toward the erection of a nonsensical refrigerated ice tower, open for climbing all the year long.
In energy, mainenance costs and projected users, the idea is farcical on its surface, laughable in conception and utterly ridiculous on paper.
But not according to our delusional mayor and the leaders of our town's only newspaper; both entities seemingly think Ogden is a giant amusement park that needs circus ride after circus attraction to garner some sort of faux recreational cachet the community already possesses due to our natural wonders and the assets Godfrey often threatens.
We are a real city, home to real people who have real problems. Our infastructure is in need of repair, our firefighters are using equipment that's four decades old, we suffer from crime and gang violence, our police officers are underpaid.
But by all means, according to the solipsistic Standard, let's spend public money on another of Godfrey's silly boardwalk apparatuses; let's "get behind" Godfrey, Jeff Lowe and the ice tower.
Jason Wood
For those readers who haven't yet made the connection, the above-signed author is the same playful fellow who posts those highly stylized and ever-cranky comments under the handle Jason W. right here on this forum. You know -- the ones which are amply laced with references to "Chris Peterson's squirrel patrol," "onions," and "THE SKI IS BEAUTIFUL BLUE."

As we lumpencitizens are painfully aware, keeping a lid on Boss Godfrey's crackpot schemes is a 24/7 job here in the upside-down, inside-out universe of MattGodfreyWorld. Today Jason has done his part. A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to Jason this morning, for helping to deliver the message of truth and rationality to the general readership of our home town newspaper.

And for those readers who are disappointed that Jason at least slightly deviated from his signature literary style, and abandoned his "schtick" -- thus depriving Std-Ex readers of the full impact of his mighty pen -- we think that's OK in this instance. Somehow, we think many Std-Ex readers simply wouldn't "get it" at all. Golly heck. Even a few of our own Weber County Forum readers sometimes don't seem to get it either.
Amazing though, innit, what Jason can accomplish when he decides to play it straight?

And while we're on the subject of today's letters to the editor, here's another good one from this morning's Std-Ex letters page, delivering a grand tongue in cheek broadside against Godfrey, et al., on another perennial WCF favorite topic, the Mt. Ogden Golf Course.

Sell the El Monte Golf course and apply sale proceeds to improving our Mt. Ogden Golf Course crown jewel? Now there's one danged fine idea.

Time to clear out the weekend cobwebs, gentle readers.

The floor is open for your comments.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Death of the American Conservative Movement?

One danged fine historical summary and analysis from the New Yorker

Only a few years ago, on the night of Bush's victory in 2004, the conservative movement seemed indomitable. In fact, it was rapidly falling apart. Conservatives knew how to win elections; however, they turned out not to be very interested in governing. Throughout the decades since Nixon, conservatism has retained the essentially negative character of an insurgent movement.

The New Yorker
The Fall of Conservatism
May 26, 2008

Classy tome in the May 26, 2008 New Yorker magazine examining what NYM contributor George Packer speculates to be "The Fall of Conservatism."

The article traces the origins of the American conservative movement from Barry Goldwater through the heady days of Ronald Reagan, and up to the Dubya adminstration, a time when our elected American president failed even to tally a majority vote, and Ronald Reagan's "big tent" seemed to be a mite tattered.

Borrowing from American author Sam Tanenhaus, author Packer moves on to draw some intriguing historical parallels between resulting political movements which may have been later generated, even in the wake of failed presidential campaigns:

Goldwater was to Reagan as McGovern is to Obama. From the ruins of Goldwater’s landslide defeat in 1964, conservatives began the march that brought them fully to power sixteen years later. If Obama wins in November, it will have taken liberals thirty-six years. Tanenhaus pointed out how much of Obama’s rhetoric about a “new politics” is reminiscent of McGovern’s campaign, which was also directed against a bloated, corrupt establishment. In “The Making of the President 1972,” Theodore White quotes McGovern saying, “I can present liberal values in a conservative, restrained way. . . . I see myself as a politician of reconciliation.”
The article also adds some insight into John McCain's possible strategy in Packer's conjectural American post conservative era, wherein the odd Nixon/Reagan coalition of economic conservatives, religionists, super-patriots, etc., has arguably fallen apart at the seams.

This is a truly meaty piece. No brief summary can do it justice; so we won't even try.

Read George Packer's full New Yorker article here.

And please don't forget to come back with your comments, once you've fully digested this most-excellent article.

Fleecing the Faithful Flock

Observations on the social psychology of religion in the marketplace

By Curmudgeon

Interesting piece in this morning's Salt Lake Tribune on Val Southwick's use of his LDS faith to rope in the marks for fleecing, and his ability in some places to get local church leaders to rope them in as well.

NB: before allegations of Mormon bashing begin, let me note that the focus of the article is on Southwick's abuse of his faith connections, and on some Mormons' tendency [despite counter-urgings from the Church's leadership] to assume that co-religionist pitchmen are likely to be trustworthy because they are co-religionists, along with a tendency in some Mormons to believe that visible wealth, flashy cars, grand homes, are signs of God's favor, indicating that the possessor of those things --- like Southwick --- is a moral and upright [and therefor favored by God] individual.

It really is an interesting article on the social psychology of religion in the marketplace [so to speak]. And no, the problem is not at all limited to Mormons.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Powder Mountain Update: Commissioner Dearden Hints That Negotiations Near Completion

Keeping our fingers crossed Commissioner Dearden won't "negotiate away the store"

It's been a little over three months since the Weber County Commission tabled consideration of the "Powderville" town incorporation petition, and entered into negotiations with the Powder Mountain Developer to seek a compromise which would prevent the formation of a new company town, with the attendant political disenfranchisement of those Weber County citizens who are unlucky enough to reside within its borders.

This morning's Standard-Examininer reports a possible breakthrough in negotiations. We incorporate the pertinent paragraphs from this morning's Brooke Nelson story below:
EDEN — Powder Mountain officials have put their plans to become their own town on hold and will continue negotiating other options with Weber and Cache counties, the Cache County Commission learned this week.
Weber County Commissioner Craig Dearden attended the Cache commission meeting on Tuesday in Logan along with a representative from Powder Mountain.
“I was there to confirm information about the negotiations taking place,” he said.
Dearden asked the ski resort in March to hold off on its proposal to become incorporated and, instead, work toward a compromise with Weber County.
Since that time, Dearden said he has met with Powder Mountain officials five or six times.
To Dearden’s knowledge, Tuesday’s meeting was the first time the Powder Mountain group let Cache County know of the change in plans.
“As far as I know, nobody had talked to them,” he said.
Negotiations between the resort and the two counties the development would impact have been largely separate up to this point, Dearden said. As the groups get closer to an agreement, though, the three groups will have to work together more closely.
If things go well, negotiations between Weber County and Powder Mountain could possibly be complete in the next three weeks, he said. [Emphasis added].
Up until this point, the prospect of successful County commission-propelled negotiations have seemed anything but bright, inasmuch as the Powder Mountain developer's bargaining posture has been, shall we say, hard-nosed. For example, as we noted in an update to this this earlier article, the Developer, being on the brink of completion of it's township petition application, opened negotiations by demanding a near threefold increase in the number of residential units to be permitted upon the development site, over and above the earlier recommendations of the Ogden Valley Planning Commission:

To the surprise of nobody with functioning grey matter... the Powder Mountain people responded to the County Commission's negotiation overtures, by upping the ante from the initially-proposed 3700 units at Powder Mountain to 9000 units. So much for "good faith bargaining," we snarkily observe.
We did have an opportunity to speak briefly in late March with commissioner Craig Dearden, who, according to the most recent media reports, is in charge of the county's side of ongoing negotiations. Dearden told us at the time that he believed the county had substantial bargaining leverage in this matter. Although he was nonspecific, he did admit that the prospect of a citizen lawsuit was one of several factors which would keep the Powder Mountain Developer at the bargaining table, negotiating in good faith.

At the very least, we'll chalk up today's story as an indication that we're about to open the next chapter in the Powderville saga. Whether any negotiated settlement will even remotely resemble the original recommendation of the Ogden Valley Planning Commission is anybody's guess. Hopefully Commissioner Dearden won't negotiate away the store.

It's been a long and valiant fight for the beleaguered citizens of Ogden Valley. We'll be keeping our fingers crossed for an acceptable outcome.

Ogden Community Treasure Trentelman Waxes Poetic Yet Again

Get the straight skinny here on a heart-warming story, per Trentelman

Extremely touching article in the Standard-Examiner today. When it comes to the ability to "strum" the strings of the human heart, nobody in the print media anywhere does it better than the Std-Ex's Ogden City Treasure, Charles Trentelman.

We incorporate below the lead paragraphs of today's awesome Trentelman article:

OGDEN — The replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall on display at Newgate Mall may be connecting a dead soldier’s daughter with relatives who didn’t even know she existed.
They’re still working on it and hope this article helps, but the guys at Ogden’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1481, which is sponsoring the wall’s visit, are still getting goose bumps just at the idea that this is happening.
The wall replica, part of the “Old Gloryous” Flag Day observance, is a halfsize, 250-foot-long duplicate of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. It shows the names of every American killed during the Vietnam War, 1959 to 1975.
Dennis Howland, a member of the post, said he and others were assembling the wall Wednesday when a woman approached and asked if she could get help finding a name.
“I said, ‘Sure,’ so we went up and found the name in the books. We went over and I showed her where it was, then stepped away, and she put her hand on the name and started to cry.
“She came over to me a few minutes later and said, ‘That was my father. I never knew him.’ ”
Today's Trentelman piece is truly awesome, we believe.

Read Trentelman's full story to to learn about the happy, albeit bittersweet story ending.

Dang. We'll betcha a burger at "Big Jim's" that Trentelman will soon be appearing on national TeeVee with Oprah.

And don't forget we gave you all a heads-up about the Ogden patriotic event that's still running through Sunday.

We already knew, BTW, that Ogden's Vietnam Vets would be showing up in force to attend this event. We also suspected that veterans of other US wars would show up to express their solidarity -- which they have.

What's important though, even for Ogden citizens who've never "worn the uniform," please.. at at least cruise down to the Newgate Mall to pay your respects.

Vietnam War vets remain today the least appreciated soldiers in any American War. They desperately deserve even this belated tribute.

Time to close the books on that, wethinks.

Debate Night With the Utah GOP

The Northern Utah print media report on last night's GOP "debates."

Both the Salt Lake Tribune and the Standard-Examiner provide brief writeups this morning on the topic of last night's Weber County GOP "debate," wherein Legislative District 7 candidates Glen Donnelson and Ryan Wilcox were invited to field questions from GOP voters from their legislative district. From this morning's Kristen Moulton article:
OGDEN - What was supposed to be a debate turned into a town hall meeting Friday night, giving candidate Ryan Wilcox, challenger to the absent Rep. Glenn Donnelson, a chance to tell 75 District 7 residents his views on everything from property tax reform to energy policy.
The nondebate attracted a much bigger crowd than Weber County Republican Chairman Matthew Bell expected. The high turnout was due in part to media reports that the state Republican Party told Bell it was a bad idea to host a debate between an incumbent and challenger.
"We're going to do it more often," Bell said after the forum. "There is nothing wrong with Republicans debating Republicans."
Donnelson said Wednesday that he would not debate Wilcox because he and Bell could not agree on the format and because Friday is his date night with his wife.
The article suggests Donnelson's decision to decline debating his challenger may have exacted at least some political price:
Christy and Kevin Bailey, noting that it was their date night, too, said Donnelson only hurt himself.
"I was shocked when I heard him say [on a radio show] it was of no interest to him," said Kevin Bailey, a former Pleasant View council member. "Anytime you have an exchange of ideas, it's a good thing. Maybe he's just too confident that he knows what his constituents think."
According to the Tribune report, candidate Wilcox comported himself well, deftly responding to at least the one key question which precipitated a political firestorm within the Utah GOP during the past week:
"What's the motivation for running against a proven conservative incumbent in one of the most conservative districts in the state?" he asked.
"First, I believe in competition. That's part of being a conservative. That's good in business and it's good in politics," said Wilcox, who works for a cell-phone company. "The issue is, it's time for new representation."
As we said, the Standard-Examiner's Scott Schwebke also contributes additional information about last night's event in his own report.

All-in-all, it appears from these two print media reports that Chairman Bell capably moderated the event; and aside from the fact that the incumbent candidate declined to participate, the event otherwise went off without a hitch This of course is something Weber County Republicans have come to expect, under the leadership of Weber County Republican Party Chairman Matt Bell.

We'll also make parenthetical note of another intra party GOP debate which was held last night. Unlike last night's Weber County Leg. 7 event, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that last night's 3rd Congression District Cannon/Chaffetz debate was a genuine old-fashioned knock-down brawl. We have to admit we're sorry we missed that one.

So what about it, gentle readers? Should the Utah GOP (indeed all parties) adopt a firm policy requiring all party candidates to debate prior to party primaries? Should this be a condition for a political party's endorsement? Does the public interest in "openness" and "transparency" trump an incumbent's "right" to conduct his own campaign in the manner in which he sees fit?

It will be interesting, we believe, to examine the post-primary results in the Legislative 7 and Congressional District 3 races, to compare the results for an incumbent who did debate, with the outcome for one who didn't.

And we again invite any readers who attended either of these Friday night GOP debates to chime in with their own observations and comments.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Latest Godfrey Video Blunders

KSL News devotes an entire story and video clip to Ogden City's most notorious dunce

By Danny

Now KSL has an entire article and video just on Godfrey's sentencing hearing statements about Val Southwick and the response to those statements.

Our mayor's appalling comments, and the response of state officials to those comments, speak for themselves.

City council take note. Matthew Godfrey is a psychopath, a law unto himself, with no contact with reality. Good and evil are defined solely by who his friends are, in his mind.

Be sure to watch the video too.

Why Savvy Judges Immediately Remand Convicted White-collar Criminals

Crafty Val Southwick lookalike fraudster remains "on the lam."

By Curmudgeon

Here's why judges are often reluctant to grant those convicted of major fraud facing long sentences weeks to "make arrangements for their families" before reporting to prison:

A manhunt continued on Thursday for a hedge fund manager who disappeared Monday hours before he was to have reported to prison to serve a 20-year federal sentence for conspiracy and fraud in a scheme to cheat investors out of $450 million....
Mr. Israel’s sport utility vehicle was found abandoned on the Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson River less than two hours before he was expected to report to a federal prison in Ayer, Mass., Monday afternoon....
Mr. Israel pleaded guilty in September 2005 to charges of conspiracy and fraud after squandering millions of dollars and producing fake audits of the hedge fund’s performance to hide losses. He was sentenced in April to 20 years.
The judge in the case, at sentencing, told the convicted scammer this:

At Mr. Israel’s sentencing in April, Judge Colleen McMahon of Federal District Court in Manhattan also ordered Mr. Israel to pay $300 million in restitution, adding that “people who commit crimes while wearing a tie do not get a break.”
A sentiment the judge in the Val Southwick case clearly shared.

The excerpts above are from a story in today's NY Times.

Big Debate Tonight: Leg. Dist. 7 GOP Challenger Debates... Nobody

League of Women Voters documents provide some possible ground rules for an "empy chair" debate

There's been a fascinating political development in Weber County politics this week, as is highlighted by this morning's Standard-Examiner lead editorial.

Some time in the interim since the March Weber County GOP nominating convention, county party chairman Matt Bell decided to schedule a debate, pitting four term veteran House Legislative District 7 incumbent Glenn Donnelson against upstart intra-party challenger Ryan Wilcox. Donnelson and Wilcox had emerged from the county convention with a virtual tie vote, and chairmen Bell thought it would be a good idea to hold a debate event, allowing Legislative District 7 GOP voters a pre-primary opportunity to compare and differentiate between the two candidates. So far, so good.

Unfortunately the devil was in the details, and the situation began to spiral downward last week. We'll attempt to set forth the sequential development of this story below:

The first public hint of dissension appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune last Friday, when columnist Paul Rolly reported that the Executive Director of the Utah Republican Party had allegedly taken action to stifle the debate. The Tribune followed up with a similar second article later that day.

The situation appeared on the Weber County public radar screen on on Tuesday, with a Scott Schwebke story, which basically reiterated the information contained in the two earlier Tribune articles.

Also on Tuesday, Chairman Bell offered his own assessment of the situation on the Weber County Republican blog, touting principles of "open government" and populist democracy as trumping any single candidate's interest in exploiting "the power of incumbency."

Although it's not entirely clear from any of the above articles whether Representative Donnelson ever formally agreed to participate in this debate, it's evident at this juncture that Donnelson has indicated he will not appear, and that tonight's event will be what's called in savvy political circles an "empty chair debate." And that's where the situation gets tricky, we think.

Being the curious type, we navigated to the the League of Women Voters website, looking for guidance on the touchy question of how to handle a debate when only one candidate is expected to participate. LWV procedure is the "gold standard" for the conduct of political debates, in our opinion; and here is what we found on the LWV site:

Guidelines For State And Local League Debates Including “Empty Chair” Debates.

We provide below a few selected excerpts from this LWV article:
"Empty Chair" Debates
It sometimes happens that only one candidate in a contested election accepts a debate invitation or that a candidate cancels a debate appearance after agreeing to participate, leaving the debate with only one participant — often called an "empty chair" debate. If only one candidate accepts the invitation, the debate should be canceled. While cancellation is also the most prudent course of action when a candidate fails to appear at the event or backs out shortly before the debate, Leagues may need to consider whether and how to proceed should they find themselves in an empty chair debate situation. [...].
We cite below LWV guidelines for state and local (non federal) debates:

• An empty chair debate should not be conducted if all but one candidate decline the League's offer to participate in a debate. It would be very risky for the League to sponsor the debate, knowing from the start that there will be only one participant.
• An empty chair debate could be conducted only if one or more candidates pull out of a scheduled debate after agreeing to participate, and rescheduling is not feasible. (A League could also choose to cancel the debate in this situation.)
• The closer to the scheduled debate that the candidate cancels his/her appearance, the stronger the arguments that going forward with the debate is not a partisan political activity.
• If the candidate cancels well enough in advance of the debate to allow the sponsoring League to make other arrangements without charge or penalty, the League should make some effort to see if the debate can be rescheduled.
• In announcing that a candidate has canceled his/her participation in a debate, the League should present the factual reasons given by the candidate, if any, without any editorial comment. If no reason is given by the candidate, the League should simply state that it was contacted by the candidate or his/her campaign and told that the candidate would not be able to appear at the debate; the League can also state that the candidate provided no reason for canceling his/her participation.
• To maintain a clear record, the League should correspond in writing with candidates concerning invitations to appear at debates, attempts to accommodate each candidate's schedule, confirmation of scheduled debate appearances, confirmation of the cancellation of a debate appearance and attempts, if any, to reschedule a canceled appearance.
In conducting any empty chair debate, the League should maintain, to the extent practicable, the debate format. The League must prevent the debate from turning into a candidate appearance that has the look, feel and content of a campaign rally for the only candidate attending the debate. The moderator and other panelists, therefore, should ask nonpartisan questions, the length of the candidate's response should be limited, and if possible, the moderator and other panelists should act as devil's advocate, asking probing questions and follow-up questions. [Emphasis added].
Consider that to be our "two bits." Single candidate "debates" can be tricky, as we said. Hopefully tonight's event will closely follow true debate format, as set forth in the final paragraph above, and the event will not be allowed to descend into something resembling a single candidate's campaign rally.

If any of our readers plan to attend tonight's Leg. 7 event, we hope they'll take the time to report back on how it all shook out.

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