Saturday, November 22, 2008

Standard-Examiner: Ogden's Mayor to Take European Streetcar Junket

We're keeping our fingers crossed that it's not all about the free hors d'oeuvres

Encouraging front page story in the Standard-Examiner today, announcing that Boss Godfrey, gondola fancier extraordinaire, will be traveling with a Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce-sponsored entourage through Europe in early December. His stated mission: To learn more about street cars. We incorporate below a few key paragraphs from this morning's Scott Schwebke story:

OGDEN — Mayor Matthew Godfrey will visit five European cities next month to inspect streetcar systems as part of a junket funded by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and other sponsors. The trip, from Dec. 9 to 16, will include stops in Vienna, Austria; Munich, Germany; Zurich, Switzerland; and the French cities of Nice and Bordeaux. [...]
In addition to Godfrey, others invited to participate include Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, Bountiful Mayor Joe Johnson, Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce President Lane Beattie and several UTA board members.
The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce is coordinating the trip because it’s interested in exploring viable mass-transit options for a corridor extending from Salt Lake City to Ogden... .
“We are all about finding transit solutions,” (Natalie Gochnor, chief operating officer for the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce) said.
During the trip, participants will inspect technologies not readily available in the United States, such as wireless streetcar systems, that could ultimately be valuable in addressing Ogden’s mass transit needs, Godfrey said.
“It will be very helpful to see it on the ground, as well as talking with companies that manufacture it,” he said.
With at least a half dozen foreign street car manufacturers scrambling for U.S. public transportation dollars, it's likely that Godfrey and his Utah colleagues will be treated to a very good show. And there will be plenty of gracious wining and dining on this whirlwind European tour, we confidently predict.

So... what say our gentle readers about this latest twist in the Ogden public transit story? Is it conceivable that Godfrey will emerge with a new public transportation mindset? Will Europe's high-tech streetcar solutions prove to be cool and sexy enough for the ever-cool and sexy Boss Godfrey? Is it possible that Ogden's mayor could vanquish his gondola obsession once and for all? Will Godfrey be traveling Europe with his eyes, ears and mind wide open; or will he be merely embarking on this trip to hobnob with the Salt Lake City political bigwigs... and to gobble up a week's worth of free European meals and hors d'oeuvres?

We're keeping our fingers crossed it's the former, to say the least.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

Update 11/22/08 7:59 a.m. MT: The Transit in Utah blog has also posted an article on this topic this morning, asking a quite probative question (and also volunteering a savvy proposed answer):
First off, why does the mayor of Ogden have to travel to Europe to see a streetcar system? I guess a car trip to Portland, Tacoma, Seattle and down to San Francisco would not be exotic enough for him.
Don't let the cat get your tongues, O Gentle Ones.


althepal said...

I'm keeping my fingers crossed too, Rudy.

I remember what happened the last time Godfrey went on a European junket.

Gondolas were all Godfrey talked about for the next year and a half.

Hopefully the same will happen with street cars.

Councilwoman Jeske's entirely correct. I believe this junket is a probably very good idea.

Tec Jonson said...

This is encouraging....

except it underscores the severe obsolescence of our industrial base. We must turn to Europe for our streetcar equipment because US industry and government (non)leadership has led us down the exclusively-automobile-transit-model while completely ignoring the strategically sound, diversified-transportation-model.

While our government struggles with a Detroit bailout I hear little of retooling Motor City for transit equipment. We the US ever learn how far we have fallen behind while right wing chest beaters still insist we are "the best damn country in the world..." The stock market knows.

Jason W. said...

Oh no! A partially taxpayer-funded European fling for Lying Little Matty Gondola Godfrey and his (potential) erstwhile lover, Wayne Peterson, leader of his own famed Squirrel Patrol, will be absent! This does not bode well for The Forehead's fragile psyche; glancing longlingly at proposed THE GONDOLAs in Zurich; wishing wistfully for his vest-wearing lover's strong hands and onion-reeking tendencies in the cheese-stinky cities of Nice and Vienna; lamenting his spurned affections slurpingly bestowed upon the Thorazine-addled squirrel hater with a root beer in Munich. At least the tiny, soulless fool and theeb will have someone to slap around when he's overcome with THE GONDOLA armour fou. And OTown won't have to buy the plane ticket.


Curmudgeon said...

Tec makes a sadly good point. Overseas is where they're going to have to go to see cutting edge technology in re: mass transit. The point is not to find out what street car transit is capable of now, but what it will likely be capable of five to ten years down the road when additional Utah systems begin going in if they do. We're not doing that kind of development research here.

Read an article earlier this week talking about decisions made by Chrysler within this decade, one of which was not to go into mass production and marketing with the Chevy Volt [which consumed 40% --- yes, 40% --- of the energy to drive that the average Chevy then did]. And the decision instead to invest in mass production and marketing of Hummer types instead. And the same execs who made those marketing and production decisions just came before Congress and claimed their imminent bankruptcy is all the fault of the unions. Yeah. Right.

Similar stories elsewhere in the SE today. One
here reports that Davis county is seeing a sudden groundswell of interest in mandatory recycling programs after years of dismissing such as just more damned tree-hugger environmentalist socialist nonsense. My my my how times do change. Chevy now interested in government money to finance a fuel-efficient retooling after years of telling Congress not to mandate higher fuel efficiency standards because its professional managers knew better than Congress ever could what was right for the company. And now Redder Than Red Davis County discovers that, well, maybe recycling... and even mandatory recycling... is, ah, not only a good idea environmentally, but cost-effective too. And Matthew Godfrey is talking trolleys. Will wonders never cease....

And that's not all: the Weber County Commission has discovered, along with Ogden's Hole businesses and residents, that paving everything in the name of development may not be a good idea after all, and may in fact diminish business activity and economic growth in the [as the realtors like to put it] "Upper Ogden Valley." Story here.

Meaty issue of the SE today. Worth your quarter and then some.

danny said...

Curm, the Chevy Volt would be made by GM rather than Chrysler. But your point is still valid. BTW, Chevy did build a very high mileage car in the past decade - for foreign sales only.

The fact is, left to itself, a recession cleans out a lot of rot from the system. The problem is that nowadays the rot is running the government.

Note that Bear Stears, AIG, and most of the nation's big banks have been bailed out, but Lehman Brothers was left to die. Why? Because Lehman was a strong competitor to the top dog, Goldman Sachs, and guess who was the CEO of Goldman Sachs? Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, who has populated his bailout system with his former GS cronies. The bailout is not only being used to prop up the incompetent, it is being used to help the incompetent buy or destroy their former competition.

If you hope Obama will be different, take note his choice for Treasury Secretary is Timothy Geithner, NY Fed chief, aka "Mister Bailout."

The cronies had this election covered. The country will likely continued to be run for only their benefit.

Tec, what we have is Japan style crony capitalism. The US is going down the path Japan followed in the 90's, except we have no savings and much less to fall back on. We do however have the world's reserve currency, so we can print ourselves rich, or so the government believes.

As far as Godfrey going to Europe, I couldn't care less, as long as someone else pays for it.

Curmudgeon said...

PS Snarky Aside:

For all of those here... myself among them... who have grumbled about Godfrey-Administration-favoring headlines in the past few months, just want to note that Hizzonah can not have been pleased this morning to see "Ogden's Mayor To Take European Streetcar JUNKET": greeting him on the front page.

Curmudgeon said...


IN re Chevy/Chrysler/GM: of course. That's what happens when I type faster than I think. Thanks for the correction.

OgdenLover said...

Since someone mentioned recycling: A recent Ogden City water bill insert mentioned that they now accept all plastic with a recycling code number on it(not just #s 1&2). Our household is now filling our recycling waste container to the top and our garbage bin is only 1/4 full. Glass and other plastics are picked up by for a small fee and plastic bags of all sorts are dumped in the bin at Smith's or Albertson's.

OgdenLover said...

The bailout money requested by the Big 3 could be put to better use retooling their plants to make streetcars and hybrid gas/electric cars and even covering unemployment insurance for their workers in the meantime. We could throw out their corrupt, incompetent CEOs while we're at it.

Rafiki said...

Very well put danny.

danny said...

For what Obama's stimulus program will look like, look no further than the corrupt desperation of half-baked foreign nations.

November 18 – Bloomberg (Tim Culpan and Yu-huay Sun): “Taiwan will distribute NT$83 billion ($2.5 billion) in shopping vouchers to its citizens and unveil further measures in the next two weeks to spur its flagging economy, the government said.”

That's right. After the Bush stimulus program gave out "tax refund" checks of borrowed money to each citizen only to see most of the money used to pay off debt rather than spent, the next step will be to issue vouchers that cannot be saved, but only spent.

Who'd have thought that George McGovern's flaky 1972 Presidential election promise to give everyone free money if elected would become mainstream in 2008, if not actually quaint?

Bill C. said...

I gotta hand it to this arrogant group of Utah's political class. This is nothing more than a European juncket. There's nothing that requires this group to go that could not be learned right here at home.
Lying little matty's last trip brought no knowlege of gondolas, he still underestimated the costs by half. I suspect that there would be more outrage except for the fact that everyone hopes the lying little mayor comes back converted. Folks, it aint gonna happen.
And it's not just lying little matty, all the folks scheduled to go should think twice, UTA could easily put together a very good presentation that would encompass everything this bunch needs to know, and present it right here at home. These are politicians not engineers, this is a waste of time and alot of taxpayer dollars.

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