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the Murphy letter [which warned that changing the zoning might imperil 25th Street's Historic District designation] was withdrawn by her supervisor, Mr.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.


rumor repeater said...

it's my understanding that the only part of the murphy letter that was withdrawn was the very end, where the letter took a position on the ordinance. the rest of the letter was not withdrawn.

RudiZink said...

One other element of today's editorial I'd like to mention, contained in this morning's editorial text:

"However, it appears, after the fact, that Murphy should not have written the letter. Her boss, Wilson Martin, "has since retracted the letter, saying it was sent in error and that the Utah Historic Preservation Office doesn't normally get involved in local issues," writes Schwebke."

Careful readers will note that Mr. Schwbke (and today's editorial writer) have mis-stated Mr. Martin's position, which once again boils down to this:

"Martin told the Standard-Examiner on Monday that the (Murphy) letter had been sent to the city council in error.

'It was sent without my review,' he said. 'we don't normally weigh in on local ordinances.'"

Once again I'll emphasize that Mr. Martin has never recalled, retracted or repudiated the findings of the Murphy letter.

Today's editorial was careless in misquoting Mr. Martin's position, at the very least. The situation is even worse if the Std-Ex's misquotation turns out to be willful.

RudiZink said...

The only defect in the Murphy letter, RP, is that it was sent without the State Historic Preservation Office's authority. Thus it cannot be taken as a formal statement of the SHPO's official position on the possible effect of the proposed ordinance.

Nevertheless, the letter remains the opinion of Ms. Murphy, a well respected SHPO deputy with 30 years' experience in the office.

The letter is not a nullity, now that it's part of the public record.

The substance of the letter must be weighed for what it is.

Federal Bureaucrat said...

Having dealt with the SHPO's office for years, Wilson's response to Barbara's letter seems exceptionally strange. I have official correspondence with their office on a regular basis. This is sent to Barbara, and the response is sent back signed by Barbara. She is assigned the role of Deputy SHPO for historic preservation. Same thing for the archaeology branch of the SHPO. There is a Deputy SHPO assigned to archaeology who receives and responds to the correspondence. Considering all of the letters going in and out of their office, I highly doubt Wilson reviews them all. That is why professionals have been assigned the roles of "Deputy SHPO."
Once again, the main point, as numerous others have noted, no one has said the information in the letter was inaccurate. And, if I understand the law correctly and the proposed height change actually becomes a reality, the SHPO would get involved to negotiate how to mitigate the potential adverse effect to the building and the district. Seems to me Barbara and the Council are on the right track trying to be proactive before a large amount of time and money is spent for a proposal that may have a negative impact.

Ex-SE Subscriber said...

WHERE'S DON PORTER?! If this kind of editorializing is an example of what we're in for for the next 10 to 20 years, I'm cancelling my subscription to that rag sheet! I've only seen such lies and irresponsible writing once before in the Standard! Where do they get off defaming a person without checking any facts?! I was at those Council meetings and on Sept. 23, there were two other organizations besides the letter from the Utah Historical Preservation Office who cautioned the Council that raising the height limit could affect the fragile historical register designation of Ogden's Historic 25th Street Historic District if enough other property owners pursued similar requests. As Rudi points out, the SHPO did NOT DENY any of the facts in Ms. Murphy's letter!
I am so disgusted that Doug Gibson would write such trash, but I am not surprised when you consider the off-the-wall right-wing editorials he has written and published in the past. WHAT WERE THE MANAGING EDITORS THINKING WHEN THEY PROMOTED HIM TO EITORIAL PAGE EDITOR?! It looks like we're in for irresponsible editorials with no basis for truth or fact, just his wild, right-wing, unresearched opinions. I suggest that we all refuse to read the editorials until responsible writing is required of Doug Gibson. Or you can do as I plan to do: cancel your subscription to the Sub-Standard Examiner. Doug Gibson has taken the paper to a new low!

Bill C. said...

Despite the critics complete misinterpretation of the facts, the editorial board did conclude, and I tend to agree, that the Council has ruled and it's pointless to continue this issue now.
I hope Doug Stevens will reconsider dragging this out and further dividing folks.

Bill C. said...

Sorry, instead of critics it should be editors.

they did what? said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
here we go again said...

bill c

"I hope Doug Stevens will reconsider dragging this out and further dividing folks."

You got your wish...the reconsideration is on the agenda for tomorrow's meeting

Curmudgeon said...

ex subscriber:

Well, now, before loading all this angst on Mr. Gibson, would be good to remember, I think, that the recent editorial builds upon, and repeats, what has been the editorial position of the SE for some time regarding the Ernest matter and what happened. And regarding hostility between Council and the Mayor's office. And to recall, in light of Mr. Howell's recent piece discussing the staff changes at the SE, that editorial policy is set by the paper's editorial board, not by a single individual or editorial writer.

Early days, people. We'll have a better handle on whether the staff changes at the SE have resulted in any noticeable shift in editorial policy/content in another five or six months, and on whether we think those shifts, if any occur, are wise ones or not. Still early days, folks. Still early days....

Bill C. said...

I know it's on the agenda, but it's not too late to consider not making the motion. It's up to Stevens, he can put this to rest now, and the Council can move forward. There seems to be plenty to deal with currently without getting sucked into this complicated mess. Is it about the Windsor? Are others clamoring to add height to their buildings? Is the future of the Historic designation in jeopordy? Seems right now without a motion none of this needs questioning.

ozboy said...


It's now about about a group of tainted people who are acting innocent and above reproach and getting their ego's all invested and trying to protect the now gone integrity of their appointed positions. Their mantra is "what, me influenced by the Mayor who appointed me?"

line ranger said...

I do not understand why the Editorial Board keeps harping on the Ernest Health thing.

The last I read was that Ernest Health is supposed to be coming to Ogden.

I was at the Ernest Health meeting and I will always dispute the statements that the Council members were rude and gave Ernest Health a hard time. They were only doing their job in trying to get specifics from Ernest Health.

I did not see Editor Gibson at that meeting so why does he repeat old junk.

Julia said...

Line Ranger

The editorial guru's are defending the same indefensible turf as the people Ozboy described.

Alvin Lundgren said...

Allen Christensen (subject)

"Alvin Lundgren"



The evening of the Republican Convention, I received several phone calls from delegates who advised me that Senator Christensen, in an effort to undermine my bid for his Senate seat, had told them that I had lied about my resume - about my working for the FBI, or for Murray City as a policeman. His efforts were premeditated, and, as I later learned, were repeated at the earlier county conventions. He implied that if I had lied about my work history, what else would I lie about?

During the course of the race, I based my candidacy on political philosophy, facts, on Christensen's voting record, and on his failure to support critical bills concerning illegal immigration. My bid for Senate Seat 19 was, on my part, a clean and honest effort to publish my opponent's position and to compare it to my own platform. Sadly, Senator Christensen succumbed to the idea that it doesn't matter how you win, but that it is acceptable to win at any cost. Christensen chose to use deceit to further his cause. At no time did he approach me concerning my work history, at no time did he raise in any debate my resume. What he did was to create a whisper campaign with the goal of ruining my character. After I learned of his whisper campaign, I called his home, cell and office, and sent letters to Christensen to find out from him whether or not he had engaged in this disparagement. He ignored my communications.

Allen Christensen paid me an unannounced visit at my office on 10.10.2008.

The last contact I had with Allen Christensen was the phone calls and letters I sent him asking for an explanation of why he deceived delegates, telling them I had lied about my employment with the FBI and Murray police in my candidacy for Senate district 19. Those calls and letters were ignored until this encounter.

Christensen stated that he had contacted his attorney, Jack Helgesen, who Christensen said told him to ignore the communications. But this day he was in Morgan and decided to stop by and explain what happened. Christensen said he spoke to a sergeant at Sandy City, who had been there for 35 years and did not know me. When I told Christensen that I worked for Murray City, he said it had been a long time and maybe the sergeant was from Murray. Christensen also said he talked to Sen. Greiner and asked him to check and see if I worked for the FBI. Greiner apparently said he could find no record of that. Thereafter, Christensen said he told delegates that "as far as I know, Lundgren never worked for the police or the FBI." He admitted making those statements at the county and state convention. Yet, he never asked me about my history at any of the meetings where we met during the campaign.

I asked Christensen if he professed to be a good LDS, to which he responded that the was. I then asked him what was the first thing a person should do if they were offended by another, Christensen replied: "Go to that person and talk to them about the offense." I asked Christensen why he did not contact me. He had no answer. (Christensen did not allow me to approach him about my feelings that he had offended me. Apparently his attorney's opinion means more to him than any scriptural admonition.)

"But," he said, "I was just repeating what I was told. I never actually said that you never worked there, only that I had been told there was no record." (Apparently it never occurred to Christensen to actually contact Murray City or the FBI.)

Just to set the record clear, I told Christensen I worked for the FBI between 1970 and 1973 under Russell Calame, Special Agent in Charge. I worked under Chief Calvin Gillem at Murray City in 1974-75. It would have been such a simple thing to ask me to verify.

I then explained to Christensen that he intentionally misled the delegates and that he intended to challenge my character and credibility. I knew that the only reason to make such statements was to assassinate my character, all to insure his re-election. There is no other reason.

Christensen then defended that he wanted to explain what had happened so I knew his side. (Notably, he never apologized.) I told Christensen that his verbal explanation was worthless. Christensen had already damaged my credibility, and my saying that Christensen dropped by to explain what happened would mean nothing to the people whom Christensen had impinged my honesty. I told Christensen that I needed a written apology on his letterhead. I would then at least have some evidence to show those who had been duped by him - and who probably had little respect for me .

Christensen, very red faced, got up without further word and left my office. Apparently he did not want to take responsibility for his actions, and was hoping for a "pass/"

My suggestion to you - Just understand the character of Allen Christensen when you have to deal with him. Remember, he admitted what he had done (at least in part) and still refused to apologize or make amends. Make your own interpretation of what that means. I think Allen Christensen avoids accountability. I would not trust him.

P.S. Christensen explained that one of the reasons why he wanted to be re-elected was to run for Senate leadership. Who would want someone like him leading the Senate? In his State Convention speech, Christensen became very emotional and shed some tears in asking to be re-elected, because he had enjoyed his Senate time so much. It would be a crying shame for him to be elected to any leadership position, let alone have any other position of responsibility, he is way too comfortable with destroying another person's character in order to achieve his goals.

Alvin R Lundgren
Morgan, Ut

Curmudgeon said...

Dear Alvin:

I suspect you may be in the wrong party. In the Utah Republican Party, Legislative Branch, behavior like Christiansen's is generally rewarded, not looked down upon.

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