Friday, October 31, 2008

The Bush Gang's Parting Gift: A Final, Frantic Looting of Public Wealth

The U.S. bail-out amounts to a strings-free, public-funded windfall for big business. Welcome to no-risk capitalism

Gripping op-ed piece in this morning's Guardian Online Edition, wherein columnist Naomi Klein comments upon the true ramifications of the U.S. Treasury Department's $700 billion banking industry bailout. We incorporate Ms. Klein's opening 'graphs below:
In the final days of the election many Republicans seem to have given up the fight for power. But don't be fooled: that doesn't mean they are relaxing. If you want to see real Republican elbow grease, check out the energy going into chucking great chunks of the $700bn bail-out out the door. At a recent Senate banking committee hearing, the Republican Bob Corker was fixated on this task, and with a clear deadline in mind: inauguration. "How much of it do you think may be actually spent by January 20 or so?" Corker asked Neel Kashkari, the 35-year-old former banker in charge of the bail-out.
When European colonialists realised that they had no choice but to hand over power to the indigenous citizens, they would often turn their attention to stripping the local treasury of its gold and grabbing valuable livestock. If they were really nasty, like the Portuguese in Mozambique in the mid-1970s, they poured concrete down the elevator shafts.
Nothing so barbaric for the Bush gang. Rather than open plunder, it prefers bureaucratic instruments, such as "distressed asset" auctions and the "equity purchase program". But make no mistake: the goal is the same as it was for the defeated Portuguese - a final, frantic looting of the public wealth before they hand over the keys to the safe.
Ms. Klein engages in some thought-provocative speculation about the real purpose of the bailout, taking into account the equity stakes the Treasury Department is acquiring as part of the bailout process:
This is where the treasury's equity pays off big time. By purchasing stakes in these financial institutions, the treasury is sending a signal to the market that they are a safe bet. Why safe? Not because their level of risk has been accurately assessed at last. Not because they have renounced the kind of exotic instruments and outrageous leverage rates that created the crisis. But because the market will now be banking on the fact that the US government won't let these particular companies fail. If they get themselves into trouble, investors will now assume that the government will keep finding more cash to bail them out, since allowing them to go down would mean losing the initial equity investments, many of them in the billions. (Just look at the insurance giant AIG, which has already gone back to taxpayers for a top-up, and seems likely to ask for a third.)
This tethering of the public interest to private companies is the real purpose of the bail-out plan: Paulson is handing all the companies admitted to the programme - a number potentially in the thousands - an implicit treasury department guarantee. To skittish investors looking for safe places to park their money, these equity deals will be even more comforting than a triple-A from Moody's rating agency.
Insurance like that is priceless. But for the banks, the best part is that the government is paying them to accept its seal of approval. For taxpayers, on the other hand, this entire plan is extremely risky, and may well cost significantly more than Paulson's original idea of buying up $700bn in toxic debts. Now taxpayers aren't just on the hook for the debts but, arguably, for the fate of every corporation that sells them equity.
Ms. Klein presents a quite clever and insightful analysis, we think, and we thus urge our readers to check out her full editorial here:

"The Bush gang's parting gift: a final, frantic looting of public wealth"

And don't forget to come back here with your comments.

SLTrib: Hunstman Urges Generous Response to the State's Hungry

A plea to pitch in somewhere, somehow, if you can

By Curmudgeon

If I may change the subject for just a moment, the Salt Lake Tribune has a story up today which I'll link via the headline:
"Huntsman urges generous response to state's hungry, homeless -- Requests for emergency food rise 30% and shelters are opening early."
Utah media, including the Standard-Examiner, have been reporting for weeks now a dramatic rise in the number of people coming into food banks around the state, including families with children. We are here in Utah one of the wealthiest states [per capita] in one of the wealthiest nations in the world. No child should be going hungry here.

So, as we sink deeper into the Bush Recession... and possibly the Bush Depression, though I fervently hope not... as more and more people are laid off and lose all income and have to resort to charity to feed themselves and their families... if you and yours are still doing ok, consider pitching in. If you're a regular contributor to the Utah Food Bank, consider upping what you give for a while. If you've never given before, please consider giving now. Or to Catholic Community Services or the United Way or your own church's food relief drives. But pitch in somewhere, somehow, if you can.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Windsor Hotel Developer Ups the Ante

"Historic preservationist" developer applies for a permit to demolish the entire Windsor Hotel structure

Interesting article on the Standard-Examiner front page this morning, regarding the Windsor Hotel project. The project developer, frustrated by the city council's decision to preserve the historic character of Ogden's Historic 25th Street District, has adopted a whole new tactic. Threats of legal action didn't work... so now these California developers suddenly want to tear the whole danged building down. From this morning's Ace Reporter Schwebke story:
OGDEN — The historic and controversial Windsor Hotel may have a date with the wrecking ball.
Ogden Properties II LLC, owner of the 100-year-old hotel at 166 25th St., has applied for a city demolition permit.
Stuart Sheldon, an official with Ogden Properties, declined Wednesday to provide details regarding whether the company plans to tear down the hotel and construct another building in its place. “Of course we don’t want to see the Windsor demolished, but we need to keep our options open,” Sheldon said in a phone interview.
So much for the psuedo-preservationist philosophy touted on Ogden Properties' website:"Renovation rather than new construction provides enormous environmental benefit."

We already knew it was really all about the money though, didn't we? It's become pretty apparent at this stage of the game that these developers weren't really interested in "historic preservation."

And for a delightful little additional twist, Mr. Schwebke reports that the Little Lord on Nine is egging the developers on:
Mayor Matthew Godfrey said he tried to warn the city council in advance that the Windsor would be lost unless some flexibility was provided to allow renovations
“If we don’t find a way to make the building economically viable, it will disappear,” Godfrey said, recalling his warning to the council.
And good ole Godfrey lackey Dave Harmer is crowing about what he apparently believes to be a checkmate predicamant... on his next to last day on the job:
Dave Harmer, the city’s community and economic development director, said that position is ironic since it could be the catalyst for the Windsor’s demolition.
“The people who were opposed to changing the ordinance to allow the Windsor to move forward said they were opposed because they wanted to preserve a historic building,” Harmer said.
“But the most concerning thing is that we may end up losing one of our historic buildings.”
Good riddance to Dave Harmer, we'll add.

And Ogden used to be such a nice little town... before Godfrey and his greedy developer cronies moved in.

We also look back nostalgically to those halcyon Ogden City days of yore, when folks actually delivered according to their original promises.

Let's hear our readers comments about this. We have the strong psychic feeling that the Windsor Hotel project is destined to long remain on the Weber County Forum discussion front-burner.

Another Strong Brent Wallis Endorsement

A Legislative District 10 reco from an Ogden City council member whom everyone can trust

On the heels of yesterday's Dan Schroeder reco, we find another strong Brent Wallis endorsement in this morning's Standard-Examiner. Here's what Councilwoman Dorrene Jeske has to say about Legislative District 10 House of Representatives candidate Mr. Wallis:
Wallis can work with other legislators

Brent Wallis is an exceptional man with unequaled qualifications for the Utah House of Representatives, District 10.
He has served Ogden and the surrounding communities for more than 30 years as president of the Ogden-Weber Applied Technology Center/College. He has been with the school from its inception when it was housed in back of the old Weber High School on Washington Boulevard.
Through his foresight and vision, Brent enlisted the help of Weber State University's President Rodney H. Brady and the Ogden and Weber County school districts in the early 1980s.
He confided in me his vision for the old reform school at 100 N. Washington Blvd. Through his perseverance, ingenuity and dedication, he is responsible for a highly esteemed, leading vocational training center. He was offered numerous opportunities to move to other vocational schools with considerable increases in pay.
Brent spent every legislative session at the Legislature successfully lobbying for millions of dollars needed for programs and new buildings. One just needs to look at the growth and success of the Applied Technology College, to witness his many talents and abilities to work with people, and achieve results and goals.
He is more knowledgeable about the workings of the Legislature than many legislators. He works well with everyone, a necessary trait for effective negotiations and success in the Legislature. His ethics are above reproach. He understands the issues and has a common-sense conservative approach to their resolution.

Dorrene Jeske
Ogden City Council
We swear it doesn't get any better than this. A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to Dorrene Jeske this morning, for letting Leg. 10 voters know what's up with Brent.

Emperor Godfrey Fiddles While Ogden Burns

Leshemville arson crime spree continues unabated

Just as gentle reader Drewmeister tipped us yesterday morning, the Standard-Examiner is now reporting that the arson crime spree continues in the Leshemville neighborhood, notwithstanding the fact that authorities already have one suspect in custody. The Std-Ex has two stories this morning on its live website, along with a short video clip:

Spree continues after arrest of arson suspect

Sharp-eyed readers will notice the fire trucks and firefighters who were again dispatched to the scene, public safety resources which have been wasted at least 11 times this year, while Boss Godfrey and Mr. Leshem have continued to sit on their thumbs.

We'll go along with the Drewmeister and ask: Just how long will Mssrs. Godfrey and Leshem continue to procrastinate on the task of eliminating this persistent and dangerous River Project Area nuisance?

Is it going to take having some innocent citizen injured or killed, to compel the folks who are responsible for this ridiculous mess to finally get off their fannies and bring on the bulldozers?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This Democrat is supporting Brent Wallis in Legislative District 10

A strong endorsement from one of Weber County Forum's most respected contributors

By Dan Schroeder

Utah House District 10 lies at the southern end of Weber County, centered on the WSU campus. With the retirement of Democrat Lou Shurtliff, the District 10 House seat is now open and strongly contested.

The Democratic nominee is Ed Allen: a dermatologist, former state senator, founding chair of the Lift Ogden Committee, father-in-law of Mayor Godfrey, and member of one of Ogden's most politically active families. On the Republican side is Brent Wallis, who recently retired after 36 years as president of the Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College.

Although I live just outside District 10, I'm interested in this race because I work at WSU and because of Allen's connection to Lift Ogden and Mayor Godfrey. I've also met Dr. Allen and found him to be both arrogant and dishonest. When he was on the WSU campus promoting the gondola in 2006, a friend of mine even heard Allen say "they're all idiots up here"-- referring to the WSU faculty and administration. I can only assume that this attitude, and his pro-gondola agenda, would carry over into his work as a legislator. I especially fear that he would use his position to pressure WSU into selling its foothill property for private development.

So even though I've been a life-long Democrat, I cannot support Dr. Allen.

But what about Allen's opponent?

I'm embarassed to admit that until a few months ago I didn't know who Brent Wallis was. But many people I trust -- Democrat and Republican -- know him well and have told me only good things about him. Obviously Wallis has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to education and to the economic future of Weber County. And after decades spent advocating for the ATC, he knows the legislature inside and out. Still, he's a Republican, so it's fair to ask whether he would promote the far-right agenda of much of Utah's Republican leadership.

For months I hoped that a clear answer to this question would somehow come my way -- but it didn't. So last week I finally picked up the phone and called Wallis, explaining that although I didn't live in his district I still had some questions. He invited me to his house the next day, when we talked for over an hour.

Wallis explained that his only specific agenda in running for office is to be an advocate for Weber County -- including WSU and the ATC. He explained how if we don't have a strong and effective advocate, our tax dollars will be spent in other parts of the state.

Wallis is aware of the problems with Utah's property tax system, but believes that the solution is to assess properties more often and more fairly--not to shift the tax burden from property tax to sales tax, as some Republicans are advocating. He emphasized the importance of funding our schools from the most stable revenue sources (income and property tax), rather than sales tax. He is generally against raising taxes, but seems open to the idea of indexing the gasoline tax to inflation, instead of diverting more money from the General Fund to highway construction.

Regarding land use, Wallis favors local control at the city and county level. He would oppose any further attempts by the Legislature to eliminate zoning restrictions in the name of "private property rights".

Wallis supports Utah's open records and open meetings laws; as president of the ATC, he learned through experience that everyone benefits when the public's business is conducted transparently.

Based on these and other issues that we discussed, I am convinced that Brent Wallis is a political moderate who cares more about good government than about partisan ideology. He deserves the support of both Democrats and Republicans, and I'm proud to endorse him in this election.

The Gondola-Examiner Slams Weber County Election Officials

The Godfrey House Propaganda Organ displays its true yellow colors once again

By Monontreme

Am I the only one outraged by the hatchet job that Schwebke did on the Weber County election officials this morning?

It couldn't be that Mansell and the city administration have an ax to grind with Weber County? It's not a reporter's role to aid and abet ongoing political feuds, is it?

It's easy for the city to see the mote in Weber County's eye, but disregard the beam in their own.

Who will be the next to speak up about this outrageous Std-Ex cheap-shot?

Standard-Examiner: Ogden Gives Away Parking Garage

No room for due diligence in our brave new MattGodfreyWorld

By Curmudgeon

The deed has been done. The Standard-Examiner reports this morning that the council last night, by a vote of 4-2, approved the transfer of the parking garage.
OGDEN — By a 4-2 vote, the Ogden Redevelopment Agency board agreed Tuesday night to give a $3.3 million parking garage at 2430 Kiesel Ave. to a company so Market-Star Corp. can expand.
The RDA board is made up of the Ogden City Council.
City council members Dorrene Jeske and Amy Wicks were the only RDA board members to vote against conveying the parking garage to Ogden-Wasatch Properties LLC, which owns the Market-Star building at 2475 Washington Blvd.
One no vote was Ms. Jeske's who said, reasonably, that the Council had not had a chance to look into the matter carefully. She was not necessarily opposed to the transfer, but thought the Council should take the time to do "due diligence" before approving it.

Seemed a reasonable stand to me. The transfer may in fact have been a wise move, but asking the Council to rush to judgment inevitably raises some suspicions.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Boss Godfrey Proposes "Gifting" a $3 Million Downtown Property

And it ain't even Christmas season yet

One more item we wanted to get up on the front page today, despite our backbreaking real life calender. This agenda item from tonight's Emerald City RDA agenda:
4. Reports from Administration:
a. Conveyance of RDA parking garage located at 2430 Kiesel Avenue to Ogden-Wasatch Properties. Proposed Resolution 2008-12 approving and authorizing the Executive Director to execute and perform any and all actions required of the Agency necessary to effectuate the disposition and conveyance of the Kiesel Avenue Parking Garage located at 2430 Kiesel Avenue, Ogden, Utah. (Approve/not approve resolution – roll call vote)
Ace reporter Schwebke also has an article up on this topic today in the Standard-Examiner hard copy edition. The gist of it, as Schwebke explains it, is that Boss Godfrey is proposing the RDA donation of a property which was valued around 1988 @ $3.3 million, to a downtown property owner... gratis.

Our schedule's tight this afternoon, but we at least wanted to bring this story to the forefront... at least a few hours of tonight's RDA meeting.

As we headlined it in Curmudgeon's earlier article, "Corporate welfare remains alive and well in Utah."

Free downtown property is also available, so long as you're a friend of Matt.

Heads Up on Another Million Dollar Giveaway

Corporate welfare... alive and well in Utah

By Curmudgeon

Another boondoggle... this time, a million dollar give-away to an educational publishing company to install computer reading software and special computers in the homes of students... at most, 294 of them statewide. And probably a lot fewer when "installation fees" are added in. This was one of the provisions hidden in the Curtis-Bramble-Valentine omnibus education bill stuffed through in the final hours of the last legislative session. Utah Education Issues has the whole sordid story of the squandering of a million dollars this year on a favored company here.

This entire rigged giveaway is a prime example of what happens when one party has huge majorities in both legislative chambers, a topic also explored this morning in an op-ed piece by LaFray Kelley, Chairwoman of the Weber County Democratic Party. Worth a read. And some thought.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Nobel Prize Winning Economist Also Quotes Yeats

Query: Is the poetry loving Paul Krugman a gentle Weber County Forum reader?

Too Funny! It would appear that Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman may have been reading Weber County Forum yesterday. From this morning's New York Times op-ed piece:
The Widening Gyre

Economic data rarely inspire poetic thoughts. But as I was contemplating the latest set of numbers, I realized that I had William Butler Yeats running through my head: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre / The falcon cannot hear the falconer; / Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.”
The widening gyre, in this case, would be the feedback loops (so much for poetry) causing the financial crisis to spin ever further out of control. The hapless falconer would, I guess, be Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary.
And the gyre continues to widen in new and scary ways. Even as Mr. Paulson and his counterparts in other countries moved to rescue the banks, fresh disasters mounted on other fronts.
Some of these disasters were more or less anticipated. Economists have wondered for some time why hedge funds weren’t suffering more amid the financial carnage. They need wonder no longer: investors are pulling their money out of these funds, forcing fund managers to raise cash with fire sales of stocks and other assets.
Alternatively, just more evidence that great minds think alike?

Read Krugman's full article here. It's a formidable piece, addressing the U.S. domestic financial gyre that's now spiraling into world-wide economic crisis. There's also some savvy discussion in the article comments section.

News is a mite slow today.... so please consider this an open topic thread, if you like.

Talk about whatever you want to talk about.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Senator Dodd Speaks of "Revolution"

The banking industry's "dirty little secret"

Probing question asked by a JPMorgan employee asked of an un-named JPMorgan executive during an October 17 employee-only conference call. From this morning's New York Times story:
“Chase recently received $25 billion in federal funding. What effect will that have on the business side and will it change our strategic lending policy?”
Here's the startling answer:
“Twenty-five billion dollars is obviously going to help the folks who are struggling more than Chase,” he began. “What we do think it will help us do is perhaps be a little bit more active on the acquisition side or opportunistic side for some banks who are still struggling. And I would not assume that we are done on the acquisition side just because of the Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns mergers. I think there are going to be some great opportunities for us to grow in this environment, and I think we have an opportunity to use that $25 billion in that way and obviously depending on whether recession turns into depression or what happens in the future, you know, we have that as a backstop.”
More from NYTimes reporter Joe Nocera's morning story:
Read that answer as many times as you want — you are not going to find a single word in there about making loans to help the American economy. On the contrary: at another point in the conference call, the same executive... explained that “loan dollars are down significantly.” He added, “We would think that loan volume will continue to go down as we continue to tighten credit to fully reflect the high cost of pricing on the loan side.” In other words JPMorgan has no intention of turning on the lending spigot.
Today's remarkable NYTimes story reveals what the reporter refers to as the banking industry's "dirty little secret":
Given the way, that is, that Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. had decided to use the first installment of the $700 billion bailout money to recapitalize banks instead of buying up their toxic securities, which he had then sold to Congress and the American people as the best and fastest way to get the banks to start making loans again, and help prevent this recession from getting much, much worse.
In point of fact, the dirty little secret of the banking industry is that it has no intention of using the money to make new loans. But this executive was the first insider who’s been indiscreet enough to say it within earshot of a journalist.
In short, Congress and the American people were sold a bill of goods with the passage of the recently passed Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 ("Treasury Secretary Paulson's bailout bill"). Rather than using these massive infusions of taxpayer cash to unclog the credit markets, and to infuse liquidity into the U'S. credit system, the greedy recipients of the taxpayers' historically unprecedented largesse intend instead to use these monies to feather their own nests, and to facilitate further acquistions, mergers and consolidations.

This latest news is predictably going over like a lead balloon on Capitol Hill. This from Democratic Senator Dodd, when reporter Nocera asked the Senator what he was going to do if the loan situation didn’t improve:
“All I can tell you is that we are going to have the bankers up here, probably in another couple of weeks and we are going to have a very blunt conversation,” he replied.
He continued: “If it turns out that they are hoarding, you’ll have a revolution on your hands. People will be so livid and furious that their tax money is going to line their pockets instead of doing the right thing. There will be hell to pay.”
"Revolution," folks. That's the word now being used on Capitol Hill. So far all our federal legislature has done is to "roll over" and "beg."

We ask our gentle readers: Is there anyone here who's surprised by this latest development? Was it reasonable to expect that the same industry which brought on the current world economic crisis would suddenly begin to act in the public interest? Is there anyone here who actually believes that our Congress will have the guts to do anything about this?

Don't let the cat get your tongues, O gentle ones...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wildcats 42, Lumberjacks 14

Cats go to 5-0 in the Big Sky Conference

By O-town sports fan

Final Score: WSU Wildcats 42--Northern AZ 14. This puts the 'Cats in 1st place in the Big Sky. Next game is Nov 1st.

As for the arrest..... whadda ya gonna do? You buy 'em books & send 'em to school..........

Update 10/26/08 9:06 a.m. MT: The Standard-Examiner carries two excellent writeups this morning:

Sky high 'Cats
Toone, teammates create their own returns

Zoobies 42; Rebels 35 -- Too Funny

And a key WSU athlete gets suddenly and cavalierly suspended

Too funny. the formerly #8 nationally ranked Zoobies (the Cougars) barely get by the seventh-place team in the Mountain West conference, (the UNLV Rebels) by a narrow 7-point margin this afternoon. After this game, it's doubtful that BYU will emerge this week within the U.S. top twenty polls.

Our Utah Utes, who are in the midst of a bye-week, are obviously eating their pizza, and laughing their ass off about this.

Our beloved Weber State kicks off this afternoon against Northern Arizona @ 4:00 p.m., BTW.

It'll be interesting to see what happens with our Wildcats, now that the killjoy cops in Davis County have landed one of our key WSU players on suspension.

Couldn't these Davis County law enforcement people have waited a couple of weeks before serving these "questionable" warrants, we ask?

We're also wondering about this: Howcome a college athlete who now stands merely accused of various crimes finds himself suspended at this juncture?

He hasn't yet been convicted of anything at all.

Is it fair to subject someone who is merely accused, to suffer a possible career-ending suspension?

It doesn't seem fair to us at all.

Where is the due process in this?

The Standard-Examiner Touts its 2008 Election Web Resources

Special Bonus: a Dell Schanze video interview

With a mere ten days remaining before the upcoming November 4, 2008 election, we'd like to focus on an interesting "Behind the Headlines" column appearing in this morning's Standard-Examiner, wherein Executive Editor Andy Howell provides his readers with a heads up on a few of the excellent 2008 election resources assembled on the Std-Ex live website. We incorporate the essential paragraphs from this morning's article below:
The camera never blinks. That was the title of Dan Rather’s autobiography. But it is also an illustrative phrase of how video can capture reality better than anything else when it comes to gathering news.
That is evident in the series of 30-minute videos we did of candidates for local and state offices being interviewed by the Standard-Examiner’s Editorial Board.
The tapes are unedited and capture the entire interview the board conducted with the candidates before endorsing anyone in those races. [...].
You can view all the video interviews on our Web site, Simply scroll down the library next to our video player to find an individual interview.
One cautionary note — the video interview of Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Dell Schanze (formerly “Super Dell,” of Totally Awesome Computers fame) is not for the faint of heart, although some may find it highly entertaining. [Emphasis added].
Editor Andy aint just whistling Dixie regarding the entertainment value of the Schanze interview. It's truly a gem. As a special Saturday bonus for our gentle WCF readers, we've incorporated a video player containing that interview here:

Andy also touts another excellent resource appearing on the Std-Ex Live site:
We also have an interactive map on our Web site that allows you to click on the county to bring up stories on each candidate running. Just click on the Utah Voters Guide link under News to reach the map.
To save our readers a few mouse-clicks, we provide a direct link to this helpful resource here:

2008 Elections interactive map

The Std-Ex has expended considerable effort in assembling this useful candidate web information. We'll thus be adding this information to our 2008 Election module in the right sidebar.

Reader comments are invited, as always.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Another Document to Add to the Windsor Hotel Document Glut

The heretofore missing half of Ogden Properties' 10/9/08 extortion letter

We published this article yesterday, for the first time publicly revealing the contents of the 10/9/08 Ogden Properties demand letter, transmitted to Ogden officials almost two weeks ago. An important element was missing, however. Here's the setup:
Although we believe the publishing of this document was important, there was one thing left hanging. As mentioned in our earlier article:

"And sorry folks. We haven't yet succeeded in obtaining the
'separate document' referred to in the letter, in which Ogden Properties itemizes its 'expenses' to date." Rumor has it however that the developer is putting the arm on the taxpayers for at least a cool $million."
Well... the situation is now changed, changed utterly.

With great delight, we post what is purported by a reliable WCF Souse to be the Ogden Properties' "capital expense statement" (i.e., the "separate document' mentioned above) which accompanied the above demand letter:

Ogden Properties Windsor Hotel Investment

With this whole litany of ridiculously padded expenses, these amatuerish developer wannabees are asking for the moon.

Have fun, O gentle ones.

Perfect subject matter to kick off a weekend thread, dont'cha think?.

Have at it..

Friday Morning News Roundup

Lots to talk about as we move into another Emerald City weekend

By Curmudgeon

Lots of interesting Ogden news spread out around the Standard-Examiner this morning, besides the front page story about the planned Riverwalk and Gateway and Walmart projects.

For example, UTA is opening a bike riders transit center at the Frontrunner station in SLC, and the Std-Ex reports that a similar facility for Ogden could be next. The story is here.

And Ogden has landed a team franchise for professional indoor arena football. The team is expected to begin play in 2009 at the Golden Spike Events Center. Story here

Also in sports news, Snow Basin has landed the national championship Xterra mountain triathlon race next year. As part of the arrangement with the Utah Sports Commission, the Xterra people will produce two thirty minute films highlighting Utah's outdoor sports attractions. Snow Basin and Ogden have hosted regional Xterra competitions before, and, the story says, Xterra events in Utah have generated something like $12 million in local economic impact and publicity. The full story is here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Windsor Hotel Developer Puts the Arm on the Taxpayers

A peek at the October 9, 2008 Ogden Properties LLC demand letter

On October 15, the Standard-Examiner published this Scott Schwebke story, reporting, among other things, that the erstwhile Windsor Hotel Project developer, Ogden Properties LLC, had transmitted a letter to Ogden City officials, announcing the developer's abandonment of the project, and demanding that the city purchase the property and cough up additional monetary compensation.

In that connection, we're delighted to report that we've finally obtained a copy of that letter, a PDF version which we link here:

10/9/08 Ogden Properties Inc. demand letter

We'll be brief in our analysis; but we do want to make a couple of basic points.

Referring to the the original grant agreement between Ogden Properties and the Ogden RDA, we find this instructive language:
Paragraph 2: All improvements will comply with applicable Design Guidelines for the 25th Street Historic District, and other applicable rules, laws and ordinances (the "work").

Paragraph 3(d): In the event Donee has not completed the Work and obtained a certificate of occupancy on or before April 30, 2009 then Donor shall have the right to purchase the Property from Donee for $332,000 plus verified expenditures for capital improvements by Donee on the Property after the disbursement of the Grant to Donee. [Emphasis added].
Substantially similar language is found in the Ogden Properties/Ogden City development agreement, at paragraphs I(C)(4), II(A), III(B)(1) and III(C)(3).

The developer devotes a significant amount of ink to lambasting the council for its refusal to bend the zoning rules for the developer's benefit, yet the developer knows that it agreed to abide by the rules in place at the time it entered into these contracts in the first place. Moreover, the governing documents merely provide Ogden City (and the Ogden RDA) a right to purchase the Windsor property under set terms in the event of a developer default. Significantly however, they do not impose upon these city entities the affirmative obligation to do so.

Maybe it's just us... but the developer's threat looks pretty "thin" to us.

And sorry folks. We haven't yet succeeded in obtaining the "separate document" referred to in the letter, in which Ogden Properties itemizes its "expenses" to date. Rumor has it however that the developer is putting the arm on the taxpayers for at least a cool $million.

So... what say our gentle readers about all this?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Progress in re the Ogden Walmart Project

Gadi Leshem transfers 16 acres

Ace Reporter Schwebke reports this morning on the latest development in Ogden City's heretofore languishing Wal-Mart Superstore project. The opening paragraphs provide the gist:
OGDEN — Wal-Mart finalized its purchase Tuesday of 16 acres from developer Gadi Leshem, paving the way for the construction of a super-center store downtown, says Mayor Matthew Godfrey.
Leshem and officials with Wal-Mart could not be reached for comment regarding how much it paid for the land at the northwest corner of 20th Street and Wall Avenue.
The sale culminates more than a year of work by Leshem to assemble several parcels for the Wal-Mart project, Godfrey said.
Whether this latest transaction fully assembles all the parcels necessary for the project, Mr. Schwebke doesn't explicitly tell us.

The last time we looked at the situation, at least four target parcels remained in limbo.

Perhaps one of our well-connected sources can explain the meaning of all this.

Are the required Wal-Mart parcels now fully-assembled... or not?

A Council Meeting Sans Fireworks

City Council Notes - 10/21/08

By George K.

Last night’s council meeting went rather quickly and was mundane compared to the last two weeks. I’m sure the council appreciated that fact. The council set the date December 16, 2008 for a public hearing of Ordinance 2008-56 which reclassified as Central Business District Zone/Conditional Overlay Zone from a multiple residential zone the property at 2260 Adams Ave. for a parking lot for Midtown Medical Center. After public hearings were conducted and there were no negative comments, the council approved the vacation of a narrow strip of land on the east side of Ogden Avenue, but reserved the right-of-way for utilities. They also annexed 15.04 acres approximately at 3047 Midland Drive.

The Council approved the proposed rate increases and fuel surcharge for taxicab drivers. They also adopted Ordinance 2008-50 to allow Pedicabs to operate in downtown Ogden. They also adopted Ordinance 2008-52 which amends the Ogden City Code Subsection 5-16b-3 to increase the insurance requirements.for Transportation Providers.

The council authorized refunding of Industrial bonds for Albion Manufacturing Technologies and reissuance of those bonds at the city’s lower rate.

The council moved into a closed executive session and I left so can’t report on the outcome.

Editor's addendum: We also learn from this morning's Standard-Examiner story that the council approved the hiring of Scott Waterfall as Ogden City's new Community and Economic Development Director, after the closed executive session mentioned above. Councilwoman Jeske also explained her own rationale for her approval of Mr. Waterfall's appointment, in last night's lower comment section.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Breaking: Police Arrest Woman in Connection with Leshemville Fires

Suspect confesses to setting fires to get Gadi's project "moving faster"

By Momba

Here's a breaking story from the Standard-Examiner Live website which ought to be of great interest to Weber County Forum readers:
Police arrest woman in connection with Ogden fires:
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
OGDEN — Police have arrested a woman suspected of setting four fires in downtown houses.
At a joint police/fire department news conference Tuesday morning, police said Marianne Mancuso, 47, was arrested at about 9:30 p.m. Monday.
Police say Mancuso confessed to starting four fires of 10 that have occurred in the area of the Ogden River Project in an attempt to get the project moving faster.
A vacant home at 1823 Kiesel burned three times, and police say Mancuso confessed to starting those three fires. They could not confirm the location of other fire she admitted to starting.
Police said witnesses had seen her at several of the earlier fires.
Mancuso is being held at Weber County Jail on four counts of arson.

Update 10/22/08 8:48 a.m. MT: Std-Ex reporter Kristine Shawkey provides more information on the arson suspect now in custody, in this morning's Std-Ex story.

Harmer Replacement Waits in the Wings

One short day to vet a possible new Community & Economic Development Department Director

This morning's Scott Schwebke story confirms the tip we reported last night, regarding retiring Community and Economic Department Director Dave Harmer's likely replacement:

(Scott) Waterfall may replace Harmer as director

Aside from the short resume presented in Mr. Schwebke's article, we really don't know much about this fellow who may be appointed to a $107 thousand dollar Godfrey "A" Team slot as early as this evening.

Unless the council puts this matter over for a further hearing, we have less than one day to vet this guy.

If any of our readers can provide further information on Mr. Waterfall, we'd suggest they do it here.

Before closing we'll also make note of Mr. Waterfall's reported academic credentials in accounting. Is it possible that Mr. Waterfall could be ideally qualified to account for the 275 missing parking spaces that Mr. Harmer was unable to find, during the last months of his C&ED department directorship?

Just a thought.

A Cameo Reprise for Ex-mayor Goff

Council nanny hiring hits the Std-Ex front page

The Standard-Examiner reports this morning on the development we discussed on Saturday. Boss Godfrey has hired former mayor and councilman Cliff Goff "to improve communications between his administration and the city council."

Among the new information provided in this morning's Scott Schwebke story is the news that Mr. Goff's hiring probably won't bust the city treasury. Goff will be paid a stipend not to exceed $500 a month to cover his expenses.

At least on city council member isn't thrilled about being blind-sided by Mr. Goff's sudden appointment:
City Councilwoman Dorrene Jeske said she isn’t pleased with how Goff was appointed, adding she first learned about it in a Friday e-mail from Godfrey.
“The mayor’s intentions are good, I think, but it would have been much better if he had approached the council and asked if we were willing to participate instead of arranging this behind our backs,” she wrote Monday in an e-mail to the Standard-Examiner.
“He does not have the right to infringe upon our precious time without our approval.
“He should have had council approval to create another position, that of the assistant to the mayor. The manner in which he did this is really demeaning to the council.”
We think Jeske's points are well taken.

The mayor's retort is of course typically Godfreyesque:
Godfrey told the Standard-Examiner that, in the e-mail to the council announcing Goff’s selection, he requested feedback regarding the appointment, but Jeske didn’t reply.
As our readers will recall, Godfrey dropped the news of Goff's hiring late on Friday afternoon. From the tone of Godfrey's email, the decision was a fait accompli. Under the circumstances, it's unlikely that Jeske, or any other member of the council would have had the time or inclination to register objections or suggestions.

Looking at the big picture however, we're keeping our fingers crossed this will all work well. Communication from the mayor's office to the council could stand much improvement. What a delicious irony it would be, we think, if Mr. Goff were to succeed in educating our mayor about the necessity of improving his communications style relative to council business. Having said that, we confess that we're feeling a mite Pollyannaish today.

We had a fairly robust discussion on this topic in the earlier thread; but we'll once again open up the floor for further discussion, now that the Std-Ex has put the story into the print domain.

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Monday, October 20, 2008

One WCF Reader Questions the Ethics of Newspaper Candidate Endorsements

A brief examination of local print media endorsement philosophies and practices

Gentle reader Is This Right poses a couple of interesting questions this morning in a lower article comments section. Both questions deserve main page treatment, we think, so we'll take them one by one:
Sunday and today's Standard Examiner editions both contained "our view" on the upcoming vote. Where the "paper" endorses one candidate over another.
Isn't this ethically wrong? I don't think I've ever seen CNN endorse a Candidate. Isn't the media supposed to report the news and not try to influence their watcher/readers?
Regarding this first question, there was an excellent editorial on this very topic in the Salt Lake Tribune last week:

Why newspapers endorse political candidates

The Standard-Examiner also editorialized on the subject last year, with its announcement, prior to the 2007 municipal elections, that it was breaking a 35-year tradition, and adopting an ongoing policy of actively making candidate endorsements:

Recommendations are coming

Regarding the second question:
I also couldn't help but notice that both endorsements have been for the incumbent Republican in office.
It's true that the Std-Ex's two most recent endorsements favored GOP candidates:

Dearden for Weber commission
Huntsman for Utah governor

Nevertheless, we must not forget Saturday's endorsement, in which the Std-Ex recommended Democratic Party Attorney General candidate Jean Welch Hill:

Welch Hill for attorney general

These issues were bound to come up during the 2008 general election season, and we thank gentle reader Is This Right for raising these important questions well in advance the November 4 polling.

And for the record, Weber County Forum strongly concurs with each of the above Std-Ex endorsements.

Reader comments are invited as always.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Val Southwick Restitution Update: Trustees and Attorneys Leave No Stone Unturned

The LDS Church even coughs up 200 thousand bucks

We'd like to highlight an interesting story in this morning's Salt Lake Tribune, reporting on the efforts of court-appointed trustees, receivers and attorneys seeking victim restitution from Boss Godfrey's bestest buddy, the notorious Ogden Ponzi swindler, Val Southwick. These collector fellas are leaving no stone unturned. They've even recovered $200,000 of Southwick's tithing from the LDS Church:
The return of tithing from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was negotiated by Salt Lake City attorney Robert Wing, the court-appointed receiver who is charged with recovering the money. Southwick was a member of the church and used that affiliation to give investors confidence that their money was safe with him. The agreement covers any monies given to the church from 2000 to January of this year and releases it from any further claims.
"They were great about it," said Wing. "They don't want money that's been stolen."
$200,000 down; $449,800,000 to go.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Hint of Some Non-rancorous News In Ogden

Something good we can probably all agree about

By Curmudgeon

Amidst all this ulcerous rancor of late, Ogden could use a little good news, and the Standard-Examiner provides it this morning here. Mr. Schwebke reports that a refurbished railroad dining car [donated anonymously] will in about six weeks open at the Frontrunner station as a visitors information site, serving out of town visitors arriving by rail a the transit center. [NB to Mr. Schwebke and the Std-Ex general: can we please follow the lead of UTA and stop referring to the Transit Center by the god-awful term "Intermodal Hub?" An intermodal hub sounds like something my mechanic says I need replaced under the car soon [$247.36 plus labor]. It does not sound like someplace to catch a bus or train.]

Ramrodding the project is Mr. Richard Brookins, Ogden's fleet and facilities manager. The city will lease out space in the dining to a vendor of snacks and soft drinks, and the city expects over five years to thus recover the approximately $35K it will cost to put the car in service. Dean John Goddard [WSU School of Business] expects WSU marketing students will work there as volunteers, particularly during festivals and other large events. [I fear for Dean Goddard's job: doesn't he know WSU is committed to undermining all efforts to improve downtown Ogden? Doesn't he know WSU's official policy [according to Godfrey Gaggle cheerleader B. Geiger] is to do nothing to assist in helping the city prosper? Didn't he get the memo?]

The dining car/welcome center is a good idea. So is this: "A directional sign to various areas of the city will be constructed next to the car." Imagine that. What is it now, three months or so after Frontrunner starts running, after having had three years notice that it was coming, and somebody in Ogden finally figures out it might be a good idea to have signs at the station telling arriving passengers how to find... oh, say, Historic 25th Street or The Junction? Well, better late than never, I guess.

Utes 49, Rams 16; Wildcats 17, Bears 10

Northern Utah collegiate sports update

Utes football: No. 13 Utah trounces CSU 49-16

This makes the BCS bowl contender with the Utes now at 8-0. Watch this and weep, BYU fans, as the Utes leap over the Cougars in the national poll ratings.

Weber State U. gets by Northern Colorado State by a touchdown, and winds up 4-0 in Big Sky Conference play:

Higgins leads Weber St. past N. Colorado 17-10

A "win is a win," afterall, according to the ole sports axe.

Congrats to the Utes and the Wildcats!

And what say our gentle readers about all this winning?

Emerald City City Council Assigned a Nanny

Special project for a former mayor/councilman

We have something special for our gentle readers this morning, something which will undoubtedly contribute to your weekend merriment and mirth. We link below a copy of an email received by each of our city council members late yesterday afternoon. Boss Godfrey has hired a nanny, to ride herd over our city council:

Boss Godfrey 10/17/08 Email

No "feelers" to the council; no preliminary discussions -- just an imperial edict from the throne room on nine.

We swear NOBODY could make this stuff up.

Gawd do we love Ogden politics!

Well.... ?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Windsor Hotel Project Documents

A short document collection compiled at the request of our gentle readers

Over the course of the past few days, we've had numerous requests from Weber County Forum readers, for the posting of various documents pertaining to the Windsor Hotel Project. We always try to be accommodating to our gentle readers, so we've exerted some effort over the past couple of days assembling documents. Among those documents requested, we've managed to obtain, upload and/or link the following relevant items:

1) Wilson Martin 10/14/08 Memorandum: This document was transmitted to the city council in response to the appended October 10 inquiry of Council Director Bill Cook.

2) Windsor Project Grant Agreement: This document specifies the rights and obligations of Ogden Properties LLC and Ogden City, with regard to the $288,000 grant.

3) Windsor Development Agreement: This document sets forth the respective rights and obligations of Ogden Properties LLC and the Ogden RDA, in connection with the Windsor Hotel Project itself.

4) Interpreting The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation - Subject: Rooftop Additions on Mid-Size Historic Buildings: This Department of the Interior web page provides useful guidance for projects similar to the Windsor Hotel Project, with special attention to rooftop additions.

We post these documents without our own editorial comment, inasmuch as we have a busy real-life (non-cyber) calender today.

We've been unsuccessful so far in obtaining a copy of the Ogden Properties LLC demand letter, which caused such an uproar earlier in the week. In the event we can get our hands on a copy of this, we'll be sure to put it up.

Plenty of material here to provoke a good end of week discussion, we think.

Please don't allow the cat to get your tongues.

First Bulldozers Begin Demolition in Leshemville

Leshem expects to have a full demolition plan... within three months

This morning's Standard-Examiner reports that some progress -- however slight -- is being made in the Ogden River Project area, with the razing of one of Gadi Lesham's burned out homes. Oddly, the $10,000 demolition is currently being paid for on the taxpayer's dime. The city is carrying out the demolition, and will lien the property in the expectation of being reimbursed later. In addition, Scott Schwebke reports that Mr. Leshem, who owns some 50 vacant homes in the area, "hopes to complete a plan within three months for the demolition of all of the vacant homes he owns within the river project’s boundaries."

Three months? What's the rush, we ask? At the rate our local arsonist is moving, all fifty of Gadi's properties ought to be burned out by mid-January. We're sure this is NOT good news for the Ogden Fire Department.

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Std-Ex Reader Letter: Ethical Oversight Needed in Ogden's Dealings

Let's get beyond the Boss Godfrey hysterics

By OgdenLover

There's an excellent letter from Andrew Checketts in today's Standard-Examiner:

Ethical oversight needed in Ogden's dealings:
Regarding the Oct. 6 letter, "Gochnour owes mayor an apology," the writer and Sue Wilkerson's sycophantic rantings over Godfrey's manufactured controversy ignore the key points of the Windsor Hotel issue; that the bill the council rejected would have stripped away crucial oversight and control from the council, and regardless of rescinded letters or whose feelings are hurt, no one has offered any substantial argument explaining whether the height variance would endanger Ogden's "Historic District" designation.
Furthermore, others have expressed interest in purchasing the property, so the city doesn't have to let the building languish as Godfrey's supporters have been angrily foreshadowing.
If we're going to worry about the languishing of buildings, what about the boarded-up homes in Godfrey's River Project? Or, the dozens of code violations that Gadi Leshem hasn't been cited for, while the city issues hundreds of warning letters to other residents?
Our underfunded fire department has risked its safety on several home fires in just the last month in Leshem's shanty town! Ogden River Project is a perfect example of why proper, responsible, and ethical oversight for any aspect of Ogden's government is crucial.
The writer also complains of the high water rates, ignoring the fact that Ogden Business Depot revenues earmarked for water infrastructure upgrades were flushed down the Junction Center by Godfrey.
Let's get beyond the mayor's hysterics and try to improve, rather than damage Ogden.

Andrew L. Checketts
Consider this an invitation to join in the discussion.

Good News for Advocates of Open Government

Judge orders Ogden City to to describe withheld records in more detail

Regular Weber County Forum readers will recall the pending Second District Court GRAMA lawsuit, wherein the Ogden Sierra Club has sought production of Ogden City administration records pertaining to the Godfrey/Peterson gondola project. So far the administration has stonewalled both the plaintiff and the court, by inadequately describing documents which it has withheld from GRAMA document production.

In this connection, we're delighted to report that The Sierra Club achieved a major victory in the District Court yesterday, with a ruling from Judge West, ordering the administration to describe these withheld records in sufficient detail to justify the record's exemption from disclosure under Utah's open records law. We link this morning's Sierra Club press release below:


We'll refrain from making our own editorial comments on this, in the interest of not killing off the robust reader discussion in the lower thread.

Suffice it to say however that we're proud of the Ogden Sierra Club for vigorously pursuing this expensive and time-consuming litigation. Hopefully this new development will result in the production of documents which will shed more light on the secret back room dealings of the Godfrey administration, in connection with the boondoggle that so deeply divided our community for several years.

A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to the Ogden Sierra Club, for their demonstrated diligence and persistence in promoting the principles of open government.

Added sodden humor bonus (Click to enlarge):

Update 10/17/08 8:45 a.m. MT: The Salt Lake Tribune has a short article this morning on this topic. There's still nothing from the Standard-Examiner.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Historic Preservationists Score a Big Win

Councilman Stephens' motion to reconsider fails by a 4-3 vote

By Bill C.

Yeah! The mature and forward looking majority of the City Council have preserved for now the integrity of Historic 25th Street.

I know some of you have been holding your breath far too long. In a 4-3 vote, the Council defeated the motion to revisit the vote on height limits for the 25th Street Historic District.

If, as it seemed to be, the most important aspect of this whole consideration was not to jeopardize the entire district, how could 3 have voted the way they did? There was no new evidence presented, nor a rebuttal from Murphy's boss. All his response was (after the vote) that no letter exists. How's that for a political appointee's solicited response? There's a lot more but I gotta run.

Update 10/15/08 8:40 a.m. MT: Scott Schwebke provides his own report of last night's meeting in this morning's Std-Ex edition, in which he also confirms our speculation of yesterday that Ogden Properties has made demand for monetary compensation from Ogden City, under threat of legal action.

Somethin' "Big" Shakin' with the Windsor Hotel Project

Strange last minute amendments added to tonight's council agenda
Interesting developments in Emerald City this morning, as we learn there have been some over night changes in tonight's city council agenda.

On Saturday we broke the news that the Historic 25th Street District rezoning proposal was back on calender, with councilman Stephens' motion for reconsideration. As of late yesterday afternoon, the situation had grown more complicated than that. A quick search of the Ogden City website reveals that two other council sessions have been added to tonight's council calender:

Special joint Council/RDA study session:
Notice is hereby given that the Ogden City Redevelopment Agency will meet in a joint study session with the City Council on Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 5:30 p.m., in the Council Work Room, on the third floor of the Municipal Building, 2549 Washington Boulevard, in Ogden City, Weber County, Utah.
The purpose of the study session is to review agenda items for the Redevelopment Agency meeting and Special City Council Meeting, which begin at 6:00 p.m.; and to discuss Redevelopment Agency business and Council business.
RDA closed session:
3. Closed Executive Session. Consideration of adjourning into a Closed Executive Session pursuant to the provisions of Sections 52-4-205(1)(d) and (e) of the Open and Public Meetings Law for the purpose of discussing the purchase, sale, exchange or lease of real property. (Adjourn/not adjourn into Closed Session – roll call vote).
We link below the full text of Section 52-4-205:

Utah Code 52-4-205. Purposes of closed meetings.

We've been taking calls from various insider sources this morning reporting that there's been a new development in the Windsor Hotel saga, something involving a recent new action by Ogden Properties, Inc., (the project developer). As of now, none of our sources can or will say what's happening... other than "it's really big."

Lacking firm information, we'll launch into to our usual raw speculation as to the reason the RDA Board is planning a closed session, taking the language of Utah Code Section 52-4-205 into account.

1) Has the developer made demand of Ogden City to purchase the Windsor Hotel property, under terms of Boss Godfrey's badly-negotiated Ogden Properties/Ogden City development agreement?

2) Are threats of litigation involved?

Perhaps some of gentle readers can let us know what's going behind the Emerald City scenes with regard to this matter.

And don't forget, folks... The G-train and her motley band of real estate flippers will no doubt show up in force to badger and flog the council again tonight. Word also has it that State Historic Preservation Office Director Wilson Martin will also be in attendance. It should be a good show... something all of our gentle readers who are opposed to the greed-driven Manhattenization of Historic 25th Street ought to attend.

Don't get the cat get your tongues.

Update 10/14/08 11:27 a.m. MT: We've obtained the latest Utah Heritage Foundation opinion on this subject, in the form of a letter, directed to each of our Ogden City Council members:

Kirk Huffaker 10/13/08 letter

Just a little more grist for the discussion mill...

2008 Weber County Debate Events

A series of candidate debates, courtesy of the Ogden Exchange Club

Thanks to this morning's notice in the Standard-Examiner, we're delighted to provide a heads-up on a series of upcoming election 2008 debates, to be hosted by the Ogden Exchange Club:

OGDEN — Candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives First District seat, Rep. Rob Bishop and Democratic challenger, Morgan Bowen, will debate at noon today at the Ogden Exchange Club meeting at the Ogden Country Club.
Weber County Commission candidates are scheduled to debate Oct. 21, and state Sen. Scott Jenkins and challenger Steve Olsen are scheduled for Oct. 28.
Those wishing to attend the debate may RSVP to Cheryl Madsen at 399-8122. Lunch costs $13.

We hope all Weber County Forum Readers will mark their calenders.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rebuttal to Today's Standard-Examiner Editorial

Std-Ex reader Flatlander sets the record straight

Although we've taken the day off from posting, we didn't want to let the whole day slip away without at least addressing today's Standard-Examiner editorial, which slams both the Emerald City administration and the council for ill-considered acts and comments allegedly undertaken and made in connection with the now defeated Historic 25th Street District administration rezoning proposal .

In that connection, alert reader Danny has directed our attention to a wonderful rebuttal appearing on the Std-Ex Live website, the full text of which which we incorporate below:
By: flatlander100 @ 10/12/2008, 10:33 AM
We can all agree, I think, that rancor between the Mayor's office and the Council is not good for Ogden City. But when today's editorial goes on to assess responsibility for the current state of affairs, it does so in what, for a newspaper, is a disturbingly fact-free way.
For example, the editorial repeats the claim of the Council's critics that it made its decision to deny the Windsor developers a zoning change on the basis of "inaccurate information." And as evidence of that, it notes that the Murphy letter [which warned that changing the zoning might imperil 25th Street's Historic District designation] was withdrawn by her supervisor, Mr. Martin, because his organization does not as a rule get involved testifying in zoning matters.
True enough. But did Mr. Martin suggest in any way that Ms. Murphey's conclusions... that changed zoning would endanger 25th Street's Historic District status... was incorrect? He did not. So what "incorrect information" does the editorial identify that the council relied on in making its decision? None. Nor did the editorial so much as mention letters and testimony from several other people with much experience and substantial credibility in historic preservation that concurred with Ms. Murphy's conclusions.
The editorial then, seeking apparently to saddle the Council with responsibility for the rancor, ranges back two years to resurrect Godfrey administration spin regarding the Ernest Company project, claiming that the Council "badgered and berated" company representatives at a Council meeting. I wonder, did the editorial writer bother to listen to the tape of that Council meeting? [It's a matter of public record.] There is little or nothing on it that anyone not an Administration spin-meister would characterize as badgering and berating. And did the editorial mention that the Council members questioning Ernest were seeking information about the company that they'd requested from the Mayor's office much earlier... and had been refused? It did not.
The SE is entitled to its editorial opinion. However, when it offers such an opinion to its readers, it has a responsibility to marshal fact in support of it. This editorial did not. From MY hometown paper, I expect better. Much better.
Our thanks to Std-Ex reader Flatlander for the most excellent rebuttal.

Our readers' additional observations and comments are encouraged... either here... or on the Std-Ex site.

Boring Financial Post

Will a guarantee of Rita's Mexican Food be the next be the next government intervention?

By Danny

It looks like the Sunday Afternoon Rigging is in full force. Now, Europe will guarantee all bank deposits and loans.

Euro nations to guarantee bank refinancing

I mentioned that the US government plan on Friday to buy bank shares was also to game the market for the Sunday Asia market open.

Wow, leave it to the Europeans. Maybe if we wait, the government will guarantee Rita's Mexican Food. Why not?

Sooner or later though, people will stop loaning the government money, or, there won't be any more to loan it!

Like I said it would, the market right now is already up 300 points. But soon, when people start to back away from buying government debt, the financial system worldwide will collapse. Amazing.

Reading the posts below, it's clear I need a more fun hobby. I used to go to football games. Maybe I'll see you there.

Go Red. Go Purple. Go Blue. Go Crimson. Yeah, I remember.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Utes 40, Cowboys 7; Wildcats 35, Bobcats 12

A great day for northern Utah football fans

It certainly wasn't exactly what football fans would call "a thing of beauty," but the Utah Utes improved their 2008 record to 7-0 this afternoon. the Salt Lake Tribune is all over the reporting of this afternoon's game:

It's a rout: Utah 40, Wyoming 7
Utah football: Cowboys shoot themselves down with turnovers
Utah football: Smith's interception a game-changer
Monson: Utes' offense leaves much to be desired
Utah football notes: Receiver Key finally makes presence felt

And our Weber State Wildcats put another impressive effort into the win column:

Weber State spoils Montana State's homcoming 35-12

Expect both the Utes and the Cats to improve their standings in their respective division polls.

Comments, anyone?

Ogden Arson Update

The Standard-Examiner finally gets around to vigorously reporting a story they've neglected for months

Two more items in the Standard-Examiner today, regarding the wave of Leshemville River Project arson fires, which the Std-Ex failed to report for several months:

"Ogden hunts for arsonist"
"City set to demolish structures next week"

It's great to see the Std-Ex finally knocking themselves out on this story, wethinks.

Although we confess we haven't been attending crime conferences fo 35 years, we're wondering whether it might be prudent for Chief Greiner to set up a stakeout around 1837 Kiesel Ave.

After all, the same pyromaniac moron has shown up three friggin days in a row.

Just a thought.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

Historic 25th Street District Rezoning Ordinance Finds Itself Back on the Council Calender

Councilman Stephens moves to reconsider "height ordinance"

Interesting development you're not going to read about in this morning's Standard-Examiner. It seems that one of the five council members prevailing in the vote to deny approval of Boss Godfrey's Historic 25th Street District building height zoning amendment has put the matter back on calender:

Ogden City Council *Special Meeting* Agenda - October 14, 2008 at 6:00 p.m.:
8. Old Business:
... b. Reconsideration of Revised Height Limit Ordinance on 25th Street. Reconsideration of Proposed Ordinance 2008-43 amending the Ogden Municipal Code by amending Subsection 15-34-3.A to revise the height limits on 25th Street Historic District. (Reconsider/not reconsider ordinance; if reconsider, receive public input and adopt/not adopt ordinance).[Emphasis added]
Our sources report that it's Councilman Stephens who seemed to have had the change of heart. Stephens thus holds true to his reputation as the most enigmatic and unpredictable council member.

We don't quite get the point, inasmuch as Ogden Properties Inc. has already announced it's pulling out of the project. Perhaps the project isn't quite so dead as we thought.

Be sure to contact your council members to let them know exactly what you think about this latest twist in the Windsor Hotel saga; and don't forget to spread the words to your historic preservationist friends.

We assume the council chamber will be packed next Tuesday with steely-eyed lumpencitizens who oppose Boss Godfrey's reckless approach to our Historic 25th Street designation. You can be assured the G-train and her fellow property-flipping vampires will show up in force. It'll be a lively council meeting, for sure.

Your comments are invited, as always.

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