Friday, August 22, 2008

Powder Mountain Update: The Standard-Examiner Comes Out Swinging

Added bonus: An important definitional distinction from Eden resident Darla Van Zeben

The Standard-Examiner comes out swinging this morning in connection with the Powderville incorporation fiasco, with about as hard-hitting an editorial as we've ever seen from our home town newspaper. This morning's opening paragraphs set the tone:

The utter freakishness of the town-incorporation law passed by the Legislature in 2007 continues to defy common sense in Weber County.
Members of the Weber County Commission are in a bad spot. But by attempting to find an ethical, moral solution to their quandary, they are, perhaps, violating the law. A really bad law, mind you, but a law nevertheless.
On Tuesday commissioners once again refused to rubberstamp a list of town council and mayor appointees from the creators/developers of Powder Mountain Town. Their reasoning: Maybe it’s possible to put a shine on this lump of ... coal.
From there, the Std-Ed editorial board launches a no-holds-barred editorial barrage, landing haymakers on the parties who bear chief responsibility for the "utterly freakish" Powder Mountain mess, i.e., our bone-headed state legislature, (whose passage of SB-466 amounted to legislative malpractice,) and the greed-head developer (who has arrogantly taken advantage of the legislature's chain of errors.) You can read this morning's full Std-Ex editorial here:

"Powder town, chapter 2"

And whatever you do, don't forget to take a gander at another fantastic Calvin Grondahl cartoon, which springboards off this marvelous Commission Zogmaister quote, appearing midway through today's Std-Ex editorial: "Commissioner Jan Zogmaister’s sarcasm was apropos when she remarked that if those people were appointed, a family reunion could constitute a quorum of city government."

And while we're on the Powderville subject again, we'd like to draw our readers' attention to another fine new article appearing on Ogden Valley Forum. OVF has published this morning a guest editorial by Eden resident Darla Van Zeben, who articulates a definitional distinction between Powderville "petitioners" and "petition sponsors." Confusion over this terminology is causing friction in the Powderville neighborhood, Ms. Van Zeben reports, and we thank Ms. Van Zeben for helping us distinguish between the two groups, who vary considerably, we'll speculate, in their "culpability" in re this matter:

"From the Powderville Neighborhood"

That's it on the Powderville topic this morning, folks.

Comments are invited, as per usual.

Update 8/22/08 1:58 pm MT: We'll also note in passing that Ogden Valley Forum, our friends, allies and cohorts throughout this entire Powder Mountain Incorporation Mess, have yet another new article on the Powderville topic ths morning.


Tiny Britches said...

Sorry, but I can’t agree with Ms. Van Zeben. Every individual who signed the petition, regardless of their affiliation or lack thereof, said by signing that they wanted to:

1. Ignore all the hard work done by the OVPC to keep the development sensible.

2. Let the Perps do what they want with PM regardless of the effects on Ogden Valley.

3. Allow the Perps to gerrymander those who don't want to be in their town, and deprive them of their right to vote.

4. Throw the Ogden Valley General Plan out the window.

Neighbors or not, all people should be accountable for their actions. Could it be that some signers are having second thoughts?

RudiZink said...

Good point, Tiny Britches. As Van Zeben sez however,(paraphrased,) we don't know why some of the original "town incorporators" fell onto the Developer's bandwagon.

Maybe they were property rights zealots. Perhaps the were gullible or even even just plain DUMB.

Whatever their motivation however... I don't think there's any evidence to suggest most of the "incorporators" signed the incorporation petition out of SHEER NAKED GREED, which is of course the "incorporation sponsors'" sole motivation, a motivation which plainly sets "the incorporators" apart from the unbridled, hubris-filled and greedy Powderville "incorporation sponsors."

There are several tiers of culpability here, methinks.

The "incorporators" are the least culpable of the lot, methinks, although I welcome any new evidence to prove me wrong.

And I DO agree at least in principle with Ms. Van Zuben:

I DO believe Mssrs. Arnold, Daniels and Bates ought to suffer most of the political heat.

caddyhack said...

The editorial was excellent. Personally, I think the governor should take a lot of heat for signing the town-incorporation law. The bucks could have been stopped at his desk.

Curmudgeon said...

Been thinking on this editorial for a while.

1. I'm afraid it may largely be a case of bolting the barn door long after the horse has run off, unless an argument can be made the the original Developers Dream bill violated either the Utah State or US Constitution by denying the vote and representation to town residents for two years. And the editorial does not seem to raise a constitutional question regarding the law. Absent that, the language of the law seems plain: that the developers have the right to name the town's first government. If that stands as constitutional and consistent with the state and US constitution, I'm afraid all the huffin' and puffin' in the editorial column will come to little in the end, now that the County Commission has conceded the high ground and agreed to incorporate the town. We shall see.

2. The SE points out, rightly, that the bill passed by unanimous vote, and wonders if everyone got paid off. That is very unlikely. When bills pass like this, it is often because they are presented to the members as mere housekeeping legislation that does a little streamlining or minor altering. I suspect, late in the session, the House and Senate leadership hustled this through as a piece of non-controversial housekeeping legislation.

For any legislature to operate well, the leadership must act honorably and honestly in the management of legislature. This is not a matter of party. If the word of the House and Senate leadership is no good, if their assurances cannot be trusted, legislative business will eventually grind to a halt. We now know, as do the members of the legislature, that the current legislative leadership cannot be trusted, that their word is no good. We've seen a revolt on the part of Republican members against the house and senate leadership of their own party, name calling, primary fights, convention brawls for precisely this reason. While some members may well have been paid off... some key committee chairs, perhaps, or the major legislative leaders, I suspect most members simply voted "aye" in the rush of end of session business, having been assured by the leadership that was a non-controversial bit of housekeeping legislation only.

3. To which the question can certainly be asked: Didn't all the legislators read the bill they were passing? It's a question the SE editorial raised. The answer to that is, probably, no, they didn't. Nor can in most instances all members read every line of every bill they are asked to vote on. The simple volume of legislation [much of which is many many pages long] at the end of a session is too great for every member to read every line. That's why the word of the legislative leadership must be good. In Utah, it isn't.

What happened may be a good argument for making a seat in the Utah House and Senate a full time job, rather than a part time job for just a few weeks a year. We could reasonably expect full time legislators to be more up on the details of more legislation than we can expect part time legislators to be.

4. Another good question to ask, though the SE did not, is this: Where the hell was Governor Huntsman? He has a legal and administrative staff whose job it is to vet laws that arrive on his desk. Whose job it is to know what is merely minor housekeeping legislation and what is not. To examine bills and to recommend to the governor that he sign them or veto them. One of his functions as governor is precisely to exercise his own best judgment over bills sent to him by the legislature. He had a responsibility to inform himself, via his staff, of the content and probable impact of the bill. If he did, and signed it anyway, he has much to answer for. And if he didn't, he still has much to answer for. Being a generally nice guy, with a nice family and a big smile is not enough. We're not paying him to be a nice guy, or Father or Husband of the Year, or an illustration of how well his brand of toothpaste works. We're paying him to be Chief Executive Officer of the State of Utah, and on this matter, he did not do the job he's paid to do.

And not for the first time.

Bill C. said...

Curm, Huntsman knew exactly what was in the bill. He had it written down long ago on that silly 3x5" prop card he pulls out to remind us that he's in touch and focussed on what's up.

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