Friday, November 07, 2008

Another Half Baked Standard-Examiner Editorial

The Std-Ex editorial board fails (or refuses) to get its own reported facts straight

By Curmudgeon

Folks shouldn't miss the Standard-Examiner's remarkable editorial this morning in re: the Windsor Hotel. The editorial is not the Std-Ex's finest moment.

Why? Because it reports what happened inaccurately and ignores or distorts what was reported in its own news columns by Mr. Schwebke.

For example, the editorial argues that the Council turned down the Windsor's request to permit it to build higher than current zoning on Historic 25th Street allows, that what was before it was a request to let "the building" --- the Windsor alone --- exceed current zoning height limits on 25th Street. Nowhere in the editorial do readers learn that the Godfrey Administration did not ask the Council for a variance for the Windsor. That it asked the Council to change the zoning over the entire 25th Street Historic District, and that that, not a simple variance for one property, is what the Council said "no" to.

Nor will readers of the editorial hear about the letters from organizations with a long history of work in Utah historic preservation, cautioning the Council that changing the zoning over the entire 25th Street Historic District might endanger the street's valuable status as a federally-recognized Historic District.

And then there's this: "Ogden Properties would like to resell the Windsor to Ogden Redevelopment Agency, but that would be a very expensive proposition. Dave Harmer, Ogden's community and economic development director, believes the price might exceed $1 million."

Does the editorial so much as mention that the City, when it provided a subsidy to the Windsor owners so they could buy and rehab the property, retained the option to buy the property back, at the same price for which the Windsor developers bought it, plus the cost of capital improvements to the property, if the project had not been competed by a date certain? Well, no. Nary a mention. Though the Editorial Board found space to include Harmer's claim that the price might be as high as a million to buy it back, backed by nothing so far beyond the current owners demanding about $700K more for the property than they paid for it a year and a half or so ago.

Nor will readers of the editorial learn that when the city provided a subsidy to the Windsor owners to allow them to buy and rehab the property, the new owners agreed to develop a rehab plan consistent with existing zoning restrictions within the 25th Street Historic District. They did not, but instead devised a rehab plan that required a zoning change. No one forced them to do that. They chose to gamble that they would in fact get the zoning change they wanted. That was a risk they and their investors assumed. That it did not happen as they wished is unfortunate for them, but the city bears no, repeat no, obligation to make them financially whole as a result of their taking a risk that turned out to be an unwise one. Perhaps the plan would have worked if the Administration had requested a zoning variance for the Windsor property only. But it didn't. It over-reached and asked for a zoning change to apply to the entire downtown Historic 25th Street District. Perhaps the developers need to redirect their anger from the Council chambers to the Mayor's office.

We can all agree with the editorial's hope that the Windsor can be saved and not simply demolished... at least I can. But when the editorial distorts facts reported in its own news columns, as it does, and carefully cherry picks what facts it does report, to rest responsibility for what happened nearly exclusively on the Council's shoulders, it betrays its readers and the sacred... yes, sacred... trust newspapers and newspaper men and women assume in a democracy. Jefferson understood how important the press is to the preservation of a democracy, and how vital it is that journalists honor that sacred trust when he wrote that if he had to chose between living in a nation without a government, or living in a nation without a free press, he'd prefer the former to the latter.

The Std-Ex's readers, and Ogden in general, have a right to expect, and to demand, better of Ogden's home town paper than we got in this morning's disingenuous editorial.


danny said...

Nice review, Curm.

The Standard's editorials are not worth reading. Most know that.

Schwebke and some others keep us informed on local items, but the editorials are a waste of space at best, and are fraudulent and deceptive at worst.

I don't blame people for being dumb, or even a little lazy. But I do blame them for being liars.

Only the editors themselves know which of these they are. But they are one or the other.

wanna know said...

Rudi, who won The Weber County Forum 2008 Election Predictions Contest?

Jason W. said...

It's sadly apparent that the Gondola-Examiner's Editorial Board is being led out a proposed THE GONDOLA window by Publisher Lee Carter, a brave soldier in Wayne Peterson's Famed Squirrel Patrol. I am ashamed I unfairly labelled Gondola Boy Don Porter a mindless Lying Little Matty Gondola Godfrey apologist, when it seems he at least attempted to add a bit of balance to the Gondola-Examiner's shameless tiny-liar-carnival-barking boosterism. Now, the Gondola-Examiner simply repeats baseless administration's claims as fact and opines on nothing, other than everyone is mean to really small, Napoleon-complexed, giant-foreheaded wieners who want to turn a town of 80,000 into Lagoon north. Also, their offices are starting to stink of onions, sockless feet and thrift-store sportjackets. And have you seen Short-deck's new decal package? My god.


ozboy said...

Lost in all of this stuff about the Windsor, zoning change and mayorial manipulations is the fact that the Windsor, as it now stands (barely), is not particularly historic, has none of the normal historic features - inside or out - that makes historic buildings worth saving and in short is a pile of junk that ought to be torn down anyway.

Seems like the Landmark Commission, the City Council and the Mayor's office ought to really look into just what the Windsor is as it relates to "historic". I think if they do, they will find that it is just a poorly done 1930's facadomy that is very unstable and void of any architectural or historical significance.

Bill C. said...

Danny, leftenant carter of the infamous squirrel patrol is exercizing his version of Marshall Law over his subordinants at the gondola examiner. His mission is clearly to provide cover for the lying little mayor and make damn sure the facts are never clearly exposed to the readership regarding any of lying little matty's shinanigans.
This time they even the disregard the very few damning facts and gaffs committed by the administration and it's foot soldiers that Schwebke has all ready revealed in previous articles.
If the reporting of this Windsor thing is an example of what can be expected from this paper, we're screwed. Oh wait, this is very consistent with almost all the significant stories involving scams attempted by the lying little mayor for the last 5 years.

RudiZink said...

"I am ashamed I unfairly labelled Gondola Boy Don Porter a mindless Lying Little Matty Gondola Godfrey apologist, when it seems he at least attempted to add a bit of balance to the Gondola-Examiner's shameless tiny-liar-carnival-barking boosterism."

Excellent observation, Jason.

I'd like, in my romantic "heart of hearts" to be able to believe that Don Porter, when he departed the Std-Ex, after 23 years in it's employ... told Leftenant Carter to "stick it."

RudiZink said...

"Rudi, who won The Weber County Forum 2008 Election Predictions Contest?"

We'll announce the results after the final official results come in. Judging from last year's election results, Godfrey's addled father-in-law may have a few thousand "uncounted LDS missionary absentee ballots" waiting in County Clerk Alan McEwen's inbox.

Moroni McConkie said...

I find the editorial neither informative nor courageous.

Anyone out there still doubt Doug Gibson is in over his head?

Its true, just ask the blind man said...

Here is a quick note:
They say no man is an island.
As I look at this election, Neil Hansen is a blue democrat island in a sea of red republicans.

ozboy said...


It wasn't "no man is an island"

it was

"No man is an Ireland"

so said Lil Abner

what will it cost us said...

Todays Trib announced a hiring freeze by the Democratic county Mayor because of budget shortfalls, including his office. Exceptions were made for police and attorneys.

Imagine a mayor that had some financial background and understood we are in an economic recession, and fiscally reserve Democrate.

disgusted said...

i think ogden properties llc has bigger problems than just the windsor hotel if you look at their web page. they have removed all properties that they were listing properties for sale.
properties were either renovations of existing structures or grass root projects.
i suspect that the market has dried up if it ever existed for what they were trying to market.
i also suspect that their ability to acquire financing for any of their projects dried up as well.
if you go around town you will see alot of people in the construction or develop side of the real estate business significantly down sized or worst.
relative to the windsor it looks more like bad timing in the market place and nothing really to do with zone variances. too much blind faith and leverage thinking that it would never come to an end.

what will it cost us said...

Let the city council approve only the Windsor height varience, drop the requirement that they give away thier oversight for building variences in the historic district.

Keep the original contract in place to have the Windsor occupied by April or else they have to pay the grant money back. Then it would put the problems back onto the developer and the administration. Only one building should not loose historic designation.

The underlying motives was to make all the buildings more profitable by these other developers that have bought most of the 25th street buildings that are now for sale or lease.

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