Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Morning News Roundup

The Windsor Hotel attracts a new prospective buyer; a distinguished veteran newspaperman "calls it quits"

Two interesting items in this morning's Standard-Examiner which we thought to be worthy of note:

1) In the wake of the announcement earlier this week that the Ogden Properties had nixed plans to proceed with its Windsor Hotel development project, one of our gentle readers tipped us off that another prospective buyer was waiting in the wings. This morning's Std-Ex story provides further information about this fascinating development. From this morning's Scott Schwebke story:

OGDEN — An ardent critic of Mayor Matthew Godfrey is expressing an interest in purchasing the beleaguered Windsor Hotel.
Tom Owens, of Farmington, said he has approached the city council via e-mail about acquiring the hotel at 166 25th Street because of his interest in historic preservation.
“I have a soft spot in my heart for Ogden,” said Owens, who hasn’t visited the Windsor Hotel or developed a formal purchase proposal. [...]
Owens, a former television producer, is a native of Ogden and owns a rental home at 2748 Brinker Ave. His other properties include the historic Richards grist mill as well as an 1860s-era stone house, both in Farmington. [...]
Owens said if he decides to purchase the Windsor, he hopes the city will give him the same “sweetheart” incentive package it provided Ogden Properties.[...]
Owens isn’t confident that Godfrey would sell him the hotel because he’s a vocal critic of the mayor. “Godfrey and me are enemies,” he said.
Owens noted he has a history of having purchase offers for city property rejected. In April 2007, Owens offered to pay $300,000 for about an acre encompassing 2127, 2131 and 2151 Wall Ave.
The RDA instead opted to sell the property to Bootjack LLC, owned by developer Chris Peterson, for $270,000.
For those readers who are curious about at least one of Mr. Owens's previous historic rehab projects, be sure to check out Mr. Owens's most-excellent rockmill.com website.

2) In a truly stunning bit of Emerald City news, Standard-Examiner editorial page editor Don Porter announces he's leaving the newspaper business, after 23 years on the Std-Ex payroll. Mr. Porter's morning commentary provides the gist:

Today will be tough for me. As you read these words, I will be spending my last hours at the Standard-Examiner — assembling the opinion pages for the weekend and saying good-bye to my friends.
When I walk out the door this afternoon, I will no longer be a newspaperman. I’m changing careers, and will henceforth be the junior member of another company’s corporate communications team — a non-media company. I’m looking forward to the new job with excitement; it’s time for a career change and a new challenge.
We received a private mail last evening informing us that Mr. Porter will be "joining the corporate communications team at Questar Gas in Salt Lake City," and that his replacement will be deputy editor Doug Gibson.

We congratulate Mr. Porter on his long and distinguished career in journalism, and extend our best wishes as he embarks upon his new corporate career path.

Mr. Porter's announcement, following closely on the heels of Dave Harmer's announced retirement, thins the ranks of Godfrey apologists by two. Not a bad tally for a single week... we think.

We'll leave it to our gentle readers to let us know the true meaning of all this.

We also extend our apologies for the late posting of this WCF morning article. We've experienced computer hardware problems, which are hopefully now resolved.

61 comments:

ozboy said...

Rather you like and agree with the editorials that have come out of Mr. Porter's shop or not, I think we are losing a very good editorial guru. I think the majority of editorials that come out of the otherwise substandard Standard is outstanding and the best of all of the state's newspapers. I just hope that his replacement can continue this good work in the future.

Is his leaving an indication of the rats (or in his case the cats) leaving a sinking ship?

If it is true that he is going to be a flack for Questar does this mean we will all have to starting reading the boring little news insert that they put in our bills every month in order to get any decent editorial comments on things Ogden?

Good luck Mr. Porter, you're very good and I for one will miss your scribblings.

Curmudgeon said...

I agree with Oz.

It does Mr. Porter a disservice to dismiss him as simply an apologist for the Mayor. Editorial policy for the SE is set, I think, by an editorial board of which Mr. Porter was a member. But his task on editorials I think was to compose essays that expressed the views of the paper, which may not necessarily have been his own views on every matter on which he wrote.

He was also editor of the op-ed page and letters column, and over the years in my view was receptive to... indeed, actively encouraged... submissions on different sides of hot-button issues. Consistent with his and the paper's standards for inclusion [about which decisions we might have disagreed at times], the letters and opinion columns were open to letters critical of Hizzonah and his policies pretty regularly, as they were to letters and columns in support.

I'll miss Mr. Porter's handling of the editorial pages... both his editorial writing and his editing of the letters and commentary pages. When I questioned him on an editorial stand or a policy decision regarding the comment pages, he replied, always, with courtesy and civility, whether he agreed with what I was saying or not.

I'll miss his work too, Oz.

dan s. said...

If I can chime in on the same note...

I've generally admired Mr. Porter and felt that he's done a fine job writing editorials for the Standard-Examiner.

Naturally there have been exceptions, and we tend to remember them a little better. The low point of Mr. Porter's career was his editorial endorsing Godfrey for mayor--not because of the endorsement itself, which was a predictable decision of the whole editorial board, but rather because much of the editorial was a Rovian attack on Van Hooser's integrity, premised on false information, two days before the election, leaving her no opportunity to respond. I've never heard of any other newspaper doing such a thing to a candidate.

But again, most of Mr. Porter's editorials have been good and several have been great. I've especially appreciated his editorials on the subjects of mass transit and open government. He's not an apologist for Godfrey or anyone else, nor is he an ideologue of any sort. Within the constraints of his position representing the newspaper, he has found insightful ways to inform readers and prod them to look at issues from a variety of angles. He's one of the reasons I've been a loyal Standard-Examiner subscriber for over a decade.

time to leave said...

Time to cancel my subscription to the Standard.

Doug Gibson writes stupid articles. I was no fan of Porter's editorials but Gibson is really dragging the pit.

RudiZink said...

"He's not an apologist for Godfrey or anyone else..."

B.S., Dan. He's been an overly optimistic cheerleader for Godfrey from the time he left his "TV Critic" dream job, and got elevated to the position of Editorial page editor.

Don and I have gone tooth and nail, even from the time he was TeeVee editor, even before there WAS a weber County Forum.

Having said all this, I'll add that I believe Don Porter will be missed.

I can't wait to see what kind of editorial tilt may occur as the UberRighty Doug Gibson takes over the editorial page on Monday, BTW.

Porter was generally moderate in his editorials.

It will be interesting to see which way Std-Ex editorial policy tilts, if at all, with the installation of Mr. Gibson as the new editorial page editor.

RudiZink said...

"It does Mr. Porter a disservice to dismiss him as simply an apologist for the Mayor."

Excuse me, Curm; but unlike you, I've tangeled with Don Porter over the years, from a time long before he became editorial page editor.

Never once during this time has he blamed his pro Godfrey positions on his publisher or anyone else.

I don't believe for a minute that Don Porter ever altered and misrepresented his views because of his publisher's "editorial policy."

One more thing... my article today was meant to be a tribute to Don Porter.

Your above spin was truly ungracious, methinks.

Bill C. said...

It shouldn't take long to miss Porter. Unless Gibson can remake himself, which seems doubtfull.
His columns seem to produce an instant nausea, his media idols appear to be the discusting and incredible likes of the obese dope fiend right wing limbaugh and the idiot hanity. I hope someone can impress on him that a news paper is no place for their type of irresponsible babble, but after reading his BS for so long now, I believe that may be a lost cause.

danny said...

Re: Porter -
You'd think that Don's leaving his spacious office to take a much less visible corporate job would be a big step down. Maybe he's thinking a lesser job is better than none. I hope the paper isn't about to fold, no pun intended.

Re: Harmer -
As far as Dave Harmer, remember his embarrassing lost 275 parking spaces, his WalMart and River Redevelopment fiasco, and now taking behind the scenes heat from Ogden Properties on promises he made on the Windsor that he didn't deliver. This wasn't a voluntary retirement.

Re: Bailout-
It was funny, watching the real time feed from the Street as the vote was being taken, as soon as it was clear the bailout would pass, there was applause on the House floor. At the same time, the Dow started falling and fell about 500 points before it closed. Bob Bennett said we had to vote for it because the Dow fell when the House first voted it down. Now that the Dow fell after they voted it in, does this addled old man think they should un-vote it?

Holy cow, those representative sold us down the river. Maybe it started to dawn that when the federal government starts borrowing all that money and spending it that there will be no more such money or deals any more and the pork barrel will be empty.

Perhaps now that the government has effectively bankrupted itself, people will begin to focus on the really bad economic fundamentals we have now.

danny said...

BTW, Rob Bishop (R) and Jim Matheson (D) both held firm and voted no on the bailout.

Both of our Republican senators voted yes.

The first two deserve our support and thanks. The latter two should be voted out whatever else they do (which for Bennett is usually bad anyway.)

Curmudgeon said...

Rudi:

Two points:

1. You wrote: ever once during this time has he blamed his pro Godfrey positions on his publisher or anyone else. I don't believe for a minute that Don Porter ever altered and misrepresented his views because of his publisher's "editorial policy."

I didn't say he did. I have no idea what his own views on Godfrey were or are. He wrote a few signed columns now and then, under his own name, but his editorials were unsigned. I've discussed with him his views about Hizzonah. Just noting that editorial writers I've know were responsible for composing editorials to reflect the paper's views, which are often determined by an ed board, or sometimes a publisher. Generally not not wise as a rule to assume that what an ed writer composes necessarily reflects his own particular views. That's all I said. Maybe things are different at the SE. I don't know enough about its operations to know that.

2. You wrote: my article today was meant to be a tribute to Don Porter. Your above spin was truly ungracious, methinks.

Well, Rudi, your tribute ended like this: Mr. Porter's announcement, following closely on the heels of Dave Harmer's announced retirement, thins the ranks of Godfrey apologists by two. Not a bad tally for a single week... we think.

That didn't sound much like a tribute to me. So said so. As did Oz. No spin involved, just an opinion that differed from yours.

Didn't know Mr. Porter had been a tv writer/reviewer. Had I known, I'd have cut him slack for having done time as a paid professional tube watcher.[Insert primal scream here.] Talk about cruel and unusual punishment....

As for Mr. Gibson: his politics do put him somewhat to the right of Atilla the Hun. But I figure anyone starting a new job gets to start with (a) a clean slate and (b) the benefit of the doubt. For a while. We shall see.

danny said...

My feeling was always that Porter was a hardcore godfreyite who moderated his statements slightly to appear impartial, or so he thought.

Rudi was right, Curm.

Has anybody noticed that the requests to the Fed for loans have been getting bigger and bigger? Today they got a total of $108 billion in requests!

Gee, at that rate the $700 bailout will last less than 6 days. Uh oh!

dan s. said...

danny,

Porter isn't a hardcore godfreyite. On dozens of occasions his editorials have been critical of Godfrey. Not critical enough, in my opinion, but still critical.

danny said...

Dan S.,

You're kidding right?

The times he was "critical" were times Godfrey did something horrible, and usually Porter's slant would be that the good mayor could have used another approach and had better PR.

At the same time, he'd usually try to suggest the council was equally to blame.

And all this while Godfrey was conning the council time and time again, and if they were guilty of anything it was only naivette.

This business of praising Porter now that he's quitting seems gratuitous to me. Given some of the things he's pulled, I wouldn't be surprised if he was actually shown the door.

But yes, let's talk about Porter while the world economy is in flames around us.

Wait, I recorded Monk today. Gotta go.

Minor machman said...

Don Porter was a typically meek and gentle soul who would write an editorial about "Why the local LDS elected government leaders just don't get it...".

Then, even though presented with irrefutable evidence of Utah Realtor Association led corruption and gross interference in very important State legislation, Don Porter would fold like a cheap tent. The Realtor advertisement money also apparently bought editorial deaf, dumb and blindness at the Standard (and still does), just as it buys lies, manipulation and public abuse at the Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune and virtually every editorial news media outlet.

I liked what Don had to say.. like Oz and Crum, but hated what he should have said and did not have the authority or fortitude to print. Mostly, I agree with Dan about it seeming gratuitous to send Porter packing with accolades and plaudits just because he is changing careers.

Hope whoever replaces Porter has some balls. Gibson seems a eunich so far. Here's hoping that will change. After all we don't need any more KSL "editorials".

disgusted said...

about the windsor hotel.
in the newsapaper article it states that if the city chooses not exercise its option to buy back the hotel that the city forfeits its rights to the incentives.
did scott get this right or did he mean the developer.
if scott got it right then this means that the city looses the 288k that it gave to the developer to build.
if so this was about the worst contract deal that godfrey ever entered into at tax payer expense.

Tired of Being Sold Down the River said...

DISGUSTED,
YOU GOT IT! THAT'S OUR GENIUS MAYOR!! AND HIS COMMUNITY & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR HOT SHOT!! I'D LIKE TO KNOW WHAT HARMER DID FOR THE CITY BESIDES LIE TO THE COUNCIL?!! NOW IF WE COULD ONLY FIND A WAY TO GET RID OF GODFREY!!

danny said...

Federal Reserve Credit ballooned $254bn this week to a record $1.389 TN, with a historic 3-week increase of $457bn. Fed Credit has expanded $515bn y-t-d (77% annualized) and $527bn y-o-y (61%).

What this means, regarding the bailout price tag of $700 billion, can be summed up in the old Sonny and Cher song.

They say our [bailout] won't pay the rent
Before it's [borrowed], our money's all been spent.

. . . just following the script of GDII (Great Depression II).

Curmudgeon said...

To return to the topic of this thread, SE Managing Editor [and now to be Executive Director] of the Standard Examiner has one of his periodic Behind the Headlines columns running this morning on the front page of the Top of Utah Section. Link here. It discuss how the editorial board, which decides editorial policy-stands for the paper, is made up, and it describes changes in the paper's management precipitated by Mr. Porter's departure. It's an interesting column.

Howell notes that Standard Examiner is now a "multiplatform content provider." And so, "with this expanded role, the newsroom became the content center."

Multiplatform Content Provider. Takes more space to print and say, and sounds, well, to channel Sara Palin for a moment, "golly gee, doggone really impressive, don'tcha think?" Poor exploited reporters, editors, and such like will no longer have to be embarrassed at parties and family reunions to have to admit, heads down and mumbling, that they work "in the newsroom of the Standard Examiner." Now, heads held high, shoulders back, standing ramrod straight, they can tell proud relatives and envious friends they work in "the Content Center."

As part of the SE's bold leap forward, Mr. Howell will become Executive Director of the Multiplatform Content Provider formerly known as a newspaper. Mr. Dave Greiling will become managing editor of the "daily news and sports divisions" of the Content Center.

Sigh.... Perhaps Executive Director Howell could provide little ink pads at the exits to the building, so employees could rub their fingers on the pads as they leave for the day, and go out into the community with ink-stained fingers to remind everyone... but mostly themselves... of the high calling to which they once aspired: newpaperman. Or woman. Maybe keep a green eyeshade or two around the Content Center too. For old time's sake.

Howell also discusses what he delicately calls Doug Gibson's "staunch conservative credentials," I suspect to allay some reader concerns that the SE editorial pages will now lurch sharply to the right. I sincerely hope not, since the SE has managed, often, an editorial stand ever so slightly to the left of center... or at least ever so slightly to the left of what passes for the center here in the reddest of the red states, where people look you right in the eye and tell you with a straight face, and without blushing, that Cong. Bishop [R-Energy Solutions] is "a centrist."

And again, trying to ease concerns about Gibson's right-wing columns, Howell reports that Gibson "does an enormous amount of research to arrive at his opinions." I do not find that reassuring. He researched his columns and still ended up as far right as he did? I'd be happier believing he didn't research them, and that the farthest right of them were the results of a sleepless night or a bout of morning dyspepsia. Everybody has a bad day now and then. But he researched them and still concluded as he did? If there was a smiley for "shudder," I'd insert it here.

Finally, the new Executive Director of the MultiPlatform Content Provider SE informs us that Mr. Gibson served an LDS Church mission to Peru. I know why he informs us of that, and I agree, it's probably important, here in Zion, to know that about the new editorial pages editor. But have to admit, I still find it grates on me that this is important information to give to readers, the religious affiliation of a new staffer at the paper. When I lived in the Deepest of the Deep South, the local paper, introducing new staff, did not feel obliged to inform readers that "our new police beat reporter, Clark Kent, is a faithful member of the Shilo Road Jesus Fellowship of Snake Handlers, and has been bitten twice without dying."

I know, as I said, religious affiliation matters here and probably readers need to know. But I long for the day when, even here in Zion, Executive Directors of MultiPlatform Providers will not think it necessary to tell readers of the faith, or lack thereof, of new staffers. Maybe in my lifetime? [Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?]

danny said...

Curm,

Saying somebody has been on a mission is like saying they've been in the Peace Corps or gotten an Eagle Scout. It's an accomplishment - a part of who and what they are. It should be mentioned.

You saying it's equivalent to,

"our new police beat reporter, Clark Kent, is a faithful member of the Shilo Road Jesus Fellowship of Snake Handlers, and has been bitten twice without dying"

strikes me as simple ant-religious bigotry.

You people who handle political swine with careful, thoughtful prose then brand religious people as virtual fools need to be called out as the bigots you appear to be.

Sorry if I didn't turn the other cheek this time.

Utard said...

Dream on Curm. Never happen in the land of Utards.

danny said...

Off-topic thread alert:

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, alarmed by the ongoing national financial crisis, warned Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson on Thursday that the state might need an emergency loan of as much as $7 billion from the federal government within weeks. The warning comes as California is close to running out of cash to fund day-to-day government operations and is unable to access routine short-term loans that it typically relies on to remain solvent. The state of California is the biggest of several governments nationwide that are being locked out of the bond market by the global credit crunch. If the state is unable to access the cash, administration officials say, payments to schools and other government entities could quickly be suspended and state employees could be laid off.

Seems kinda important. Ya heard it here first.

Bill C. said...

Danny, it's with some guarded reluctunce but, I gotta go with Curm on this one. Going on a mission, has no place in listing qualifications for this new position other than possibly as a reference point to learning Spanish, which I don't believe is a major qualifier either. You've got to admit that there's some sort of inconsistency with the purpose of going on a mission, and the way that it's recieved and touted by the faithfull. This has become something like placing a gold star on ones forehead for all to see, look at me, I went on a mission. Isn't that something quite personal, a decision one makes in humility? Here in Utah it's expected that any LDS kid will go, and the decision seems more a byproduct of family and peer pressure than religious conviction. The way it's advertized and broadcast through local media reafirms my suspicion.
It seems that something that should be done in humility becomes a vehicle of increased ego.
Mind you, I'm aware this is a Utah phenomema, most likely due to the great predominance of this religion in this state.
I may suggest that in affairs of a secular nature, in a state whose constitution specifically requires and acknowleges the need for a separation of church and state, we need to question who is guilty of practicing religious bigotry.
Just a thought.

Curmudgeon said...

Danny:

I suspect Mr. Howell put that in, at least in part, to let readers know that Mr. Gibson is LDS. I was not commenting on the fact that he did a mission, merely on the fact that that information was, I think, included to signal Mr. Gibson's faith. Sorry if I was not as clear about that as I should have been. I can see how you might have mis-read my intent, and when that happen's, it's generally the writer's fault. Mine, in this case. But I do think we'd all be better off if things were such in these parts that a newspaper did not think it necessary to let readers know of the faith of a new staffer, or of his church work, that's all.

As for the made-up example of the southern church --- it was made up. It doesn't exist. Just trying to make the same point as above, tongue in cheek: that something's wrong when an editor thinks readers need to know the religious affiliation of a new staffer. Especially when the editor is right, that readers probably ought to know that. They don't think that in many other places.

You wrote: You people who handle political swine with careful, thoughtful prose then brand religious people as virtual fools need to be called out as the bigots you appear to be.

Just for the record, if you'll go back at look at my post again, you'll find not a word disparaging Mr. Gibson's faith. His political views, yes. His religious beliefs, no. I don't think I have ever attacked or derided anyone's faith here on WCF. In most cases, I don't share their beliefs, but I'm not nearly arrogant enough to conclude that anyone who thinks [or believes] differently than I do is a fool. I leave that kind of arrogance to those religious zealots who go around proclaiming that everyone who does not believe exactly as they do is a tool of Satan.

Lighten up, Danny. No need to apologize for not turning the other cheek, since nobody slapped the first one.

Ogden Resident said...

Tired of Being Sold Down the River,

If the paper’s explanation that the city looses the $288,000 that the city has pledged to the developer to renovate the old hotel is accurate if the city doesn't buy back the building then this is really the story. It also explains why Godfrey has gone on the attack.

He is frantic to get the deal done before the residents realize what a really bad deal he entered into because he didn’t think of all of the potential ramifications of the agreement should it not come together. It’s a really poorly negotiated deal that will only come to surface if the deal does not get done. Possibly a deal where the city was negotiating in good faith with a party that was assumed to have good faith as well.

The developer should have bought the building exclusively on its potential and valued their purchaser price on that basis. The developer should have looked at the buildings potential with the existing zoning. The developer should have considered any money kicked in by the city to renovate as just icing on the cake should those funds become available.

If the original intent of the developer was to add a fourth floor (which I don’t believe it was), Godfrey first action should have been to get the zoning variance before he offered up the city money to the developer or offered a financial package to the developer based on the current zoning and possibly a second one should the variance be granted. It should be noted too that if the developer still wants to renovate the building with the current zoning they can with the city assistance money. If the developer does not want to renovate, they most likely bought the building at a price that represented the then current value of the building and will not be hurt by their investment for reasons other than market conditions, a risk any developer must accept. I truly feel the developer is using this maneuver in a bad economy and in bad faith to the city to get out of their contract while still keeping the money that they have already received.

If the mayor did give the developer assurances that he could ramrod the variance down the City Council’s throat then Godfrey was wrong and entered into a bad contract for the city, a contract that he could not offer under current city laws. If Godfrey did not give the developer assurances that he could ramrod the variance down the City Council’s throat, then Godfrey should not be mad at the Council but at the developer that is taking advantage of the city and Godfrey’s poorly crafted contract that was intended to assist the developer by offering the developer an incentive.

That said, Godfrey’s attempt to steal away the Council’s control on future variances in the district was wrong and should not have been included in this variance request but should have been addressed independently with the mayor and the Council as to whether the Council feels that they actually need that over site in that district. As a Council Member, I would be insulted as much by the mayor’s approach as by the attempt to take those powers away in this manner.

The real story here is the poor negotiating and contracting practices coming out of the mayor’s business development office. Maybe this is why Harmer is leaving. The City Council’s veto of the variance is not the main point of this issue if the paper’s explanation is true but rather it’s the city administrations lack of following the proper procedures to accomplish project developments or it’s the poor negotiating and contracting skills of this same department.

Adding insult to injury is the way that the city administration is trying to deflect the blame on the City Council rather than accepting the responsibility for the short falls within its own office. Council should hold their ground relative to their vote; ask the administration about the specific contract details underpinning this project and let the truth come out.

Thomas B said...

Ogden Resident

Good analysis on this subject.

Something you might be missing - The mayor trying to paint the council black and back them into a corner is SOP for him. He has done this a number of times and usually succeeds. Disingenuous manipulation is his calling card after all.

I am wondering if the $288,000 spiff from the city to the developer has already been given to them? Was it an outright gift in front, or was it contingent on restoration work being done? Any one out there in WCF land know what the real details of this whole transaction was?

It was my impression that this "gift" was contingent on historical restoration and maintaining the historical significance of the building. If so, then wouldn't the proposed addition, that would remove the building from the historical register, be a disqualifier for it receiving these funds?

As usual with Godfrey, there are soooo many unanswered questions.

Moroni McConkie said...

I'd like to imagine that Doug Gibson's nascent tenure as editorial page editor might surprise the hell out of whoever promoted him, much as David Souter turned out (thank God) to be nothing like Bush the First expected.

But I'm not holding my breath. It's not even that Gibson's Thursday op-ed pieces, brimming with evangelical zeal, have struck me as inappropriate for a newspaper theoretically dedicated to uniting, not dividing, its community. It's that even with the freedom to choose his topics, Gibson does not have catholic tastes. He's shown no curiosity whatsoever about anything unrelated to his philistine Mormon agenda. I fear that we will miss Don Porter ... immensely.

Curmudgeon said...

mm:

New job for Mr. G. Clean slate. Benefit of the doubt.

For a while....

Machman said...

Nice point Curm. No matter how seemingly under qualified a new Sqdn. Cmdr. was, we (at least most of us) always gave the new Commander at least three months of unquestioned loyalty and support to break in his new boots. No matter the mistakes or bumps in the road; he gets three months.

But after that...he gets only the respect he earns along the way.

Bill C. said...

Og res and Thomas, I attended the Coucil meeting where the money was gifted to the Windsor guys. The whole discussion was centered on the need to have this property restored and in order to comply with historical guidelines was the focal point in why the city should participate with a cash assist. Some of us were reluctant to see the COuncil grant the money because of Scott Browns participation, but when all the talk was over no one thought for a second that this project wouldn't be be done in any other way than following historical restoration guidelines. If that wasn't put in writing then someone deffinately dropped the ball, or had other intentions.
Has anyone but me questioned the timing of Browns return, under the guise of some pipe dream velodrome, when all this comotion is blowing up on 25th st.? Didn't he broker all these deals acting as the agent for the city as well as the supposed other parties? Has he come back to be a fall guy? Clean up his mess? Push further damage in our city giving lying little matty some distance for cover?

Tired of Being Sold Down the River said...

Ogden Resident,

You are very perceptive! Here’s more info to think about:

August 21, 2007 - The City Council approved a request from the Administration to use funds appropriated for the Asset Control Area program ($100,000.) for a grant to a developer who proposed renovating the Windsor Hotel, 166 - 25th St., in the 25th Street Historic District. This has been given to the Ogden Properties, LLC.

March 27, 2008 - The Landmarks Commission reviewed and approved a Certificate of Historic Appropriateness (COA) for the rehabilitation and addition to the Windsor Hotel.

April 2, 2008 - The Planning Commission reviewed a site plan in the CBDI (Central Business District Intensive zone) for the rehabilitation of the Windsor Hotel and recommended approval of the project to the Mayor with condition that the building be limited to 45 feet in height as required by ordinance. Isn’t that interesting?

April 4, 2008 - The Mayor reviewed the CBD site plan for the Windsor Hotel Project at the MARM and approved the project as recommended by the Planning Commission. Doesn’t this make you wonder what’s going on – Who really is behind the height amendment?!

June 4, 2008 - At the regular Planning Commission meeting, the Planning Commission reviewed a request from the Community and Economic Development Department to amend the CBDI to allow heights of buildings in the 25th Street District greater than 45 feet. The Commission approved a motion to deny the proposed amendment because the Windsor Hotel was the test case used and proposed the addition to the Windsor Hotel would be visible from the Street. (Vote was 6 to 0). The Planning Commission has voted twice now within two months to deny any increase in height.

June 26, 2008 - The Landmarks Commission made a recommendation regarding the height limit in Historic Districts contained in the CBD zone and recommended the language to allow heights greater than 45 feet. Interesting isn’t it that only three weeks later, the Planning Commission reverses it decision.

July 2, 2008 - The planning Commission chose to reconsider its decision from June and tabled the review of consideration of amending the CBD zone height in order to allow time for Staff to present specific ordinance language including the precept of Option#2 --- (Vote was 7 to 0).

August 6, 2008 - The Planning Commission reviewed specific ordinance language regarding three options for allowing greater heights than 45 feet in the 25th Street Historic District. The Commission adopted a motion to recommend Option # 2 (Vote was 5 to 3). Incredible!! In only 4 months someone was able to maneuver the Planning Commission into voting for the increased height. TAKE NOTE, CITY COUNCIL!! THEY SAY FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED – I SURE HOPE SO!

Here is the puzzle: What is going on behind the scenes? Who is manipulating things and why is so much power and effort being put into this one building?

from behind the veil said...

Tired

The answer includes at least two names - Godfrey and Brown

Curmudgeon said...

Tired:

Interesting chronology, as you say. I'd just point out one thing in re: the Planning Commission. It voted down the building plans so long as the Landmarks Commission said going over 45 feet was not OK. Only after the Landmarks Commission changed its position did the Planning Commission reconsider and change its vote.

I don't find that surprising. Seems the PC respected the decision of the LC regarding the historic property. It backed the LC when the LC said "no" to increasing the height limits, and it again backed the LC when the LC changed its mind and said ok to increasing the height limit. I suspect had I been on the LC, I'd have probably done the same thing, figuring that on matters involving Historic Districts and historic properties, the views of the LC ought to be respected by the Planning Commission.

But as your chronology makes very plain, it was the developers and the administration who wanted the change the rules long after the initial sale and plans... and limits on those plans... had been agreed to by all.

Only two probable ways to read that, seems to me: (a) the developers made commitments about the renovations planned [that they would conform to existing zoning limits] without first doing the necessary research to see if the building could be profitably rehabbed within those limits or (b) the developers [and Administration?] knew from the git-go that a variance would have to be granted, but kept that information back until the incentive grants were approved, expecting that the variance would not be difficult to get.

Myself, I suspect it was option (a). But if so, the resulting problems spring entirely from the failure of the investors/developers to do the necessary research into the project; they bought the building and took the grants and committed to rehabbing within the existing zoning limits without in fact knowing if they could actually do that at a profit. Their miscalculation was unfortunate, but the city is under no obligation to dig them out of the mess their own mistake got them into. The city could do that, if the PC and LC and Council agree it would be in the public's best interest to do so, but it's under no obligation to do so. Or so it seems to me.

And so it seems Ms. Crowley and the Godfrey Gaggle are aiming their anger in the wrong direction.

Curmudgeon said...

Damn.
I meant if I had been on the PC [planning commission], not the LC [landmarks commission]. Hasty typing. My bad.

Tried of Being Sold Down the Road said...

Curmudgeon,

You posted, “I'd just point out one thing in re: the Planning Commission. It voted down the building plans so long as the Landmarks Commission said going over 45 feet was not OK. Only after the Landmarks Commission changed its position did the Planning Commission reconsider and change its vote.” Now, let’s read my post again: “March 27, 2008 - The Landmarks Commission reviewed and approved a Certificate of Historic Appropriateness (COA) for the rehabilitation and addition to the Windsor Hotel.” I believe “addition” refers to the 4th floor. This was approved March 27, 2008 BEFORE it EVER went to the Planning Commission. So the point you’re trying to make is moot – the PC did deny adding the 4th floor TWICE BEFORE June 26th when “The LMC made a recommendation regarding the height limit in Historic Districts contained in the CBD zone and recommended changing the language to allow heights greater than 45 feet.” The LMC recommended the end of the 25th Street Historic District! How can they justify such action?!!

Knowing how Godfrey and the administration work, I think this scenario has played out according to the second option. I don’t know what you’re saying the City could do when you said, “The city could do that, if the PC and LC and Council agree it would be in the public's best interest to do so, but it's under no obligation to do so.” Please explain.

But I think you are missing the whole point in this fiasco -- due to a badly written contract, the City just gave $288,000. to the Ogden Properties, LLC owners! No wonder their so willing to walk away from the property -- they did very well on this deal at taxpayer expense! If this isn't malfeasance on Godfrey's part, I don't know what you'd call it!

Tired of Being Sold Down the Road said...

Curmudgeon,

I just read your post above, and I have to ask, "Where did you ever get that the LMC EVER said 'no'?"

Bill C. said...

Prediction; Harmer skips town for extended vacation before he has to answer any of the serious questions about these transactions and discussions about what the Windsor folks were promised.

Ogden Resident said...

Tired of Being Sold Down the Road,

Exactly, the City Council is not being a stick in the mud, their protecting the residents once again from a developer run wild. Godfrey is pointing the finger at the Council to deflect the reason that the city is actually loosing $288,000 dollars to the developer.

The extremely poorly written contract coming from the Business Development Office within the Godfrey administration is the real story here. Once again this points to the fact that the city does not have the in house talent to negotiate with sophisticated developers.

No telling, but I would suspect that had the city had caved to the variance, the developer would have come up with another excuse to get out of the contract and keep the money. Financing today is tough, marketing of properties such as what the developer was trying to develop is tough and the developer already has an inventory of properties that are moving just down the street. I think the developer found a way, in the very poorly written contract, to take the money and run. Had the city caved on the variance the developer may very well have come up with another reason why he wasn’t going to renovate the building and still keep the money.

I suspect the administration’s people have been flim-flammed again. The attacks on the City Council are simply an attempt to cover up the ineptness. Once again I suggest that the City Council ask for all of the details and for a copy of the contract that the city has with the developer. Let the truth come out.

Ogden Resident said...

Please excuse my errors in the above post and note the removal of the word "had" and the addition of the word "not" in the third paragraph. Sorry,

Tired of Being Sold Down the Road,

Exactly, the City Council is not being a stick in the mud, their protecting the residents once again from a developer run wild. Godfrey is pointing the finger at the Council to deflect the reason that the city is actually loosing $288,000 dollars to the developer.

The extremely poorly written contract coming from the Business Development Office within the Godfrey administration is the real story here. Once again this points to the fact that the city does not have the in house talent to negotiate with sophisticated developers.

No telling, but I would suspect that had the city caved to the variance, the developer would have come up with another excuse to get out of the contract and keep the money. Financing today is tough, marketing of properties such as what the developer was trying to develop is tough and the developer already has an inventory of properties that are not moving just down the street. I think the developer found a way, in the very poorly written contract, to take the money and run. Had the city caved on the variance the developer may very well have come up with another reason why he wasn’t going to renovate the building and still keep the money.

I suspect the administration’s people have been flim-flammed again. The attacks on the City Council are simply an attempt to cover up the ineptness. Once again I suggest that the City Council ask for all of the details and for a copy of the contract that the city has with the developer. Let the truth come out.

Curious 1 said...

Let the City Councils attorney review the contract past for errors and future before they are approved. Now that they have independent advice, removed from the mayors attorney, maybe we can see how some of these contracts were written not in the city's best interest.

We do need truth, common sense and accurate data coming between the mayors office and the city council. If profit of 100% or more is realized from property sold to any developer, or Bootjack or Leshim properties then our elected officials have not done their fiduciary responsibilities and need to be removed from office.

Maybe an investigation into the mayors office funds would be in order. What he has paid to those employees who serve at his pleasure, or are related to his most vocal supporters.

Curmudgeon said...

Tired:

You asked me this: I don’t know what you’re saying the City could do when you said, “The city could do that, if the PC and LC and Council agree it would be in the public's best interest to do so, but it's under no obligation to do so.”

Simply that if the PC and the LC and the City Council agreed that it would be in the city's best interests to raise the building limits on Historic 25th Street to 55 feet, they could do that. If the Council had approved the new ordinance last week, for example, the limit would have been raised to 55 feet. So they can do it if they think it's in the city's best interest. Doesn't seem to be a controversial point to me. They have the power to do it if they think it in the city's best interest. The Council clearly did not think it was, so it refused to approve the new ordinance. But it could have. And it still could.

disgusted said...

did anyone notice that godfreys lap dog dustin chapman is in front of the city council this week on tuesday as the mayors appointee to a position on the board of zoning adjustment.
i like the way the mayor picks friend over qualified people.

Curmudgeon said...

Tired:

When did the LC say no? When it approved the plans for rehabbing, with four floors, but below 45 foot elevation. The point I was making, which is still good I think, is the the PC did not change its decision from "no" to "yes" until the PC did. At every step, the PC deferred to the LC's judgment regarding Historic District and Historic Properties. That's all. And had I been on the PC, I too would --- absent very strong reasons to do otherwise --- have deferred to the LC's judgment regarding the handling of historic properties in one of the city's Historic Districts.

Curmudgeon said...

Disgusted:

Does Mr. Chapman have particular qualifications that would make his appointment appropriate? Just asking.

Mr. Chapman, recall, was nominated for the Planning Commission when the never-actually-arriving "Peterson Proposal" was still in play, and the Council... the old Council, not the present one... rejected the appointment. The swing vote, as I recall, was cast against the appointment because of intemperate remarks Mr. Chapman made regarding WSU faculty members who had the temerity to challenge the wisdom of the Mayor's gondola/gondola obsession. Mr. Chapman wanted them punished, I belief.

So there's no doubt he's a member of the Godfrey Gaggle of long standing.

Still, what does the Board of Zoning Adjustment do? [I've never heard of it.] And does Mr. Chapman have any particular qualifications to sit on that Board?

George k said...

Disgusted,

Revolting, isn't it? It seems that Gdfrey goes out of his way to offend the good citizens of Ogden.

I hope the Council will unite again to thwart Godfrey's secret plans that financially rape Ogden and line the pockets of his friends. They need to remember that if they do NOT approve the appointment of Dustin, Godfrey can NOT appoint him!

Ogden Resident,

You said that poorly written contract came out of the Community and Economic Development Department -- true -- but the mayor signed it! He should be held accountable for executing such a terrible contract.

disgusted said...

george k

you give the mayor to much credit

curm

the planning commission should not defer to the lc. the two entities have different missions. the pc is to carry out the zoning ordinances of the city relative to development within the city and insure that projects meet the citys general plan. the landmark committee is to protect the historic qualities of structures and districts within the city. additionally it appears the lc is tainted as has been discussed here on the blog for a while now.
that say should the pc follow a tainted committee decision. do two wrongs make a right. the lc decision on the height variance was effectively meant to strong arm the pc. it worked but it wasnt right.

Curmudgeon said...

disgusted:

1. The PC and LC have, as you note, different responsibilities, the former to measure proposals against the zoning requirements existing, and the latter to pay particular attention to that in Historic Districts and involving Historic properties. The Windsor variance involved the latter. Absent other strong reasons not to, I'd have accepted the LC recommendation that the height limit be lifted to 55. So the PC does not seem to me to have acted unreasonably in this matter. Nor did the LC provided the LC thought changing the height limit would not jeopardize the street's Historic District designation. The WCHF and UHS communications to the council raised exactly that issue, and so the Council said "no." And that's where we stand.

So it comes down, again, to this: (a)if the LC is right that the variance would not jeopardize the street's historic district designation, then I imagine the Council will probably, once convinced of that, change its decision (b) if the LC is wrong that the variance would not jeopardize the street's historic designation, then I imagine the Council will probably, once convinced of that, not change its decision.

Finally, I don't agree with what so many here are now assuming: that the LC is packed with Godfrey sycophants in no way interested in Historic Preservation, but only in bowing to the Mayor's wishes on command. The commission... and many members still sitting on it... have a record of doing good work on historic preservation and the Historic Districts. Sorry, but I don't think they are all going to throw that over just because the Mayor says sit up and fetch. I know that's the popular view, or it is becoming that, here on WCF, but I don't see much evidence that it is so.

Finally, a lot of the criticism of the PC and LC on this, at least here, seems to be couched in terms of "don't knuckle under to Godfrey's cronies" and "don't let the Mayor get away with this" and such like. The issue the Council has to consider, and the PC and the LC is not "will this let Godfrey get away with something" or "will this be good for Godfrey supporters" or "will this make the Mayor happy." The issue... the sole issue... the Council has to consider is: will this proposal [to raise the height limit on 25th Street] be in the best interests of Ogden City, broadly considered? I'd be disappointed in any council member who voted "nay" on the variance simply in order to do Godfrey one in the eye. They're not there to make some of us feel good about sticking it to the Mayor. They're there to act in the city's best interest as they see it. All the time. Every time. Whether the Mayor favors what is under consideration, or opposes it, or doesn't much care.

disgusted said...

curm
i dont disagree with you in regards to your final comments. any committe commission or council member should vote in the best interest of the city regardless of who comes up with the idea.
the lc should have done the leg work that one of the city council members did rather than depending on the administration to inform them. if they had this whole discussion may not be taking place today. to many of our committees commissions and some of our city council members are not doing the forenics required of the position. relying on the administration is not doing your job with this administration. from what ive read there are enough questions and opinions being raised about the height variance that indicated that its passage will effect the historic status of the entire street. lc should have vetted that out and the city council should not of had to.
i too believe that this whole issue is a diversionary tactic by godfrey to pass blame on a badly contracted deal.

drewmeister said...

I just noticed another Leshamville home burned, quite extensively this time. How I missed it as it happened is beyond me, but my guess would be it happened in the last couple of days because I'm pretty sure I didn't see it on my way home Thursday.

If I'm counting correctly, that makes 5 Leshamville properties that have burned - four within a block of my friggin' house!!!!

Goddamnit, how do these people keep getting away with whatever they want at our expense, from the mayor on up to the retard-in-chief??

I would sell my soul to be "unprogrammed' from my bleeding-heart, granola-hugging, bunny-munching, commie liberal mindset back to koolaid-drinking, capitalism-at-any-expense, nazi conservative republican. I wonder if that cultish "Impact" training would do it.

I am so tired of being frustrated by all of this and having no way to do anything about it. I'm tired of being broke while they wine & dine.

Tired of being sold down the road said...

Curmudgeon,

You said, "When did the LC say no? When it approved the plans for rehabbing, with four floors, but below 45 foot elevation." I haven't seen any document that indicated that the LC said that the Windsor could have 4 floors if they didn't exceed 45 feet. Which document did you see it in?

As I have watched the Council vote on issues, I haven't been aware that any of them who voted just to oppose the Mayor. They all seem to have the best interest of the city at heart and vote accordingly. I would ask anyone who says that they vote just to spite the mayor to try and justify their thinking.

Curmudgeon said...

Tired:

From your chronology: March 27, 2008 - The Landmarks Commission reviewed and approved a Certificate of Historic Appropriateness (COA) for the rehabilitation and addition to the Windsor Hotel.

At the time the developers bought the property from the city, and arranged for the historic renovation/preservation subsidy, they made it clear they planned a 4th floor, and that the project would not be economically viable without it. However, that 4th floor was to be built within the 45 foot limit so far as anyone, including the LC, knew at that point. What has created all the hooraw is the developers subsequent request that the 4th floor penthouse be permitted to rise higher than the 45 foot limit.

disgusted said...

curm

on march 27th are you sure they were planning on 4 floors.
if you look on their web page which has been around for a while relative to the windsor hotel and look at the pricing section you will notice they only price out 3 floors.
why would they only have plans and pricing for 3 floors if they intended on having 4 floors. i suspect they were only planning on 3 floors all along and the 4th was to get them out of the contract.

drewmeister

as they say in the military - once is an accident twice is coincidence and three times is enemy action. there is something going on there and it points to the fom. he the only one to gain by the action. those homes are boarded up pretty tight so i dont think it transients living in them.

Curmudgeon said...

Disgusted:

Have to go back and check the press coverage, etc. at the time, but as I recall it, when the sale and subsidy went before the council, the plan included a 4th floor, that the project would not be viable economically without it, that it would not alter the facade of the building, that it would involve the already altered rear of the structure, etc. No mention at the time of it exceeding existing height limits.

Curious 1 said...

Why aren't these abandon house fires reported in the Standard? Shouldn't the city start fining Lesham since are public nuisances. What is it costing the city every time our fire fighters are put in danger.

How many years will they sit before they are demolished. Is Gadi Lesham still waiting for his California trial to start? If he has all these millions seems like he could clean up the area, rather than depending on an arsonist to do the job.

Maybe the same one that set the White Candy building south of Union Station factory on fire is working for the same people. Lets trace Gadi's money it might turn up someone in City Hall.

ozboy said...

Curious

Gadi's California case was settled. I think the original claim against him was for swindling the state of California out of $11 million. I also think that the case was settled in a plea arrangement wherein he paid the state $6 million or there-a-bouts. It is called escaping justice and jail by the skin of your teeth!

A six million dollar cash hit in these times, coupled with the busted out real estate market, doesn't make for a good time for Gadi to do anything with the properties he owns. I rather suspect he will just sit on them and watch them burn one by one. This tactic will probably save him a grundle in demo costs over the next couple of years. This is money he probably needs to save in a big way considering the $6 mill cash he had to come up with may very well of tapped out his supposed wealth.

drewmeister said...

Unfortunately, no, most of these houses are not boarded up tight. One just across the street from me has had most of its front windows broken out since.. oh, last year I believe. (I remember seeing the first of the panels broken out when I was snowblowing the driveway.)

A couple of months ago, one of our cats seemed to have disappeared for several days, and I noticed that they'd finally boarded up the front windows of that house, after sitting wide open for over half a year - and I was worried he'd gotten trapped in there. We tried prying the front door open with no luck, and finally went to the back of the house where it was sitting wide open - like possibly a section of outer wall had fell down - and you could walk straight into the place.

Needless to say, I didn't spend a great deal of time looking for him inside a dark, abandoned house in the evening twilight with only a dinky little flashlight. I assumed if I could get into the house, then he should be able to get out. As we came back around the front of the property, we got to explain to the nice police officer who'd just arrived why we weren't attempting to "burglarize" the place.

Thankfully, he was understanding and didn't arrest us for trespassing, although he did advise us sternly to call animal control or OPD next time.

So, no, I'm afraid most of them aren't boarded up tight. Ironically, the plywood they'd hastily slapped over the busted windows, fell completely off the house within a couple of weeks, and the front windows, most of the panels broken by now, completely exposed. They just re-covered them again a week or two ago.

Oh, and our cat showed back up. I think he had been feeling under the weather, but recovered just prior to being dragged to a vet appointment, and seems to have been doing well since.

drewmeister said...

So, whether it's an intentional arsonist or just homeless addicts catching their squatting-pad on fire, it's dangerous and unattractive. But hey.. if you're a FOM, you can do whatever you want.

Curmudgeon said...

Just curious, has the River Project ground to a halt, as it seems to have done? Is anything happening regarding the River Project, or has it stalled out at (a) a bicycle shoppe (b) a cafe and (c) a rehab facility?

Anyone know?

Lester said...

Curm

I'm sure that the fast talking hustlers that made such a grand entrance a while back are still going to build their "save Ogden" rest home/convalescence project in the river walk, aren't they? Just cause they're going tits up in their other few projects doesn't mean they aren't going to save Ogden, does it?

Just a wonderin.

Curmudgeon said...

Beats me, Lester. I'm kind of surprised that I haven't seen the SE doing anything on the River Project in a long time. Latest thing I remember is that video editorial I think it was Mr. Porter did on Lesham's shanty town. I don't recall any stories specifically about the River Project area [except for finanlizing the rehab facility deal] since. And some mention of Ogden River parkway improvements. Do you?

Be kind of an interesting piece for the business section, don't you think? What is the status of the River Project... what is it, four years in, now? Or is it five?

ozboy said...

Mr. Curmudgeon and Lester

Times are tough in the real estate hustler game. Hells bells, even legit builders are going bust.

I do think the River Parkway project has legs in the long run however. If Mr. Lesham were to just tear down the junk he has bought and make a nice park area until the market turns around both he and Ogden would benefit. This apparent tactic of boarding it up and letting nature and arsonists take over just creates a dangerous mess and a lot of bad will in the neighborhood. If he has the dough, which may be doubtful considering his recent legal troubles, he should just do the right thing by the citizens of Ogden and clean it up and make it as decent as he can until the market come back around.

The hospital folks ought to do the same thing if they are not in a position to build in the near future.

The whole area could be a nice park like setting in the meanwhile if these cheap bastards would just step up to the plate and do right by the citizens of Ogden.

I'm not all that optimistic given their collective greedy MO of take, take, take that they have so far demonstrated.

Curmudgeon said...

Oz:

I'm not all that up on municipal law in Utah, but in most cities I've lived in, when properties become dangerously run down, the cities can notify the owners that the buildings must be pulled down for safety reasons, and if the owners refuse to do it, the city can do it and bill the owners.

Since it seems beyond reasonable argument that Lesham's Shantytown now constitutes a public danger ... five burned down boarded up homes recently, or is it six now?... wouldn't a similar ordinance in Ogden, presuming there is one, come into play?

I'm not trying to find a way to stick it to Lesham. The best thing for Ogden would be for him to build his River Project development and have it succeed. I'm merely arguing that as the property owner, I think he has responsibilities regarding maintaining his properties so they do not become a danger to the public until he can proceed with construction. And if he will not voluntarily meet those obligations, the city should act to compel him to.

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