Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ace Reporter Schwebke Pronounces the Windsor Hotel Project Dead

And Councilwoman Gochnour attempts to smooth over some ruffled Landmarks Commission feathers

Two important items in this morning's Standard-Examiner, regarding the Weber County Forum hot topic of the week, Ogden Properties LLC's Windsor Hotel rehabilitation project.

Ace Reporter Schwebke's morning story pronounces the project dead. We incorporate Mr. Schwebke's opening graphs:
OGDEN — The owners of the Windsor Hotel officially canceled plans Monday to renovate the historic inn because of a city council decision preventing the addition of a fourth floor.
Ogden Properties LLC, which owns the Windsor, lost its construction loan for the project because the council last week refused to approve a zoning amendment that could have allowed the additional floor to be built.
“In today’s market, lenders are trying to get out of construction loans,” said Dave Harmer, Ogden’s director of community and economic development. He tried Monday to persuade Ogden Properties to reconsider its decision. “They had financing ready to go, and then it all fell apart because of the council action,” he said. In addition, Ogden Properties has asked the city, which provided $288,000 in incentives last year to help the Windsor renovations move forward, if it plans to exercise its option to buy the hotel back, Harmer said. If the city chooses not to exercise that option, it forfeits any right to the incentives it provided, he said. Stuart Sheldon, an official with Ogden Properties, said his company is disappointed that the Windsor project won’t be undertaken. “It’s dead, so there is nothing for us to say,” he said Monday in a phone interview. “It’s sad and frustrating, but that’s the end of it.” The Windsor project was dealt a fatal blow last week when the city council rejected by a 5-2 vote an amendment that would provide exemptions to a 45-foot height restriction for Historic 25th Street buildings.
There will no doubt be plenty of second guessing about this; and we're quite certain there will be the usual flurry of Godfreyite letters to the Standard-Examiner, blaming the council for the failure of this project. When the smoke clears however, a troubling series of questions will remain: Why did the developer draw up plans and arrange financing for a project which clearly failed to comply with the existing zoning ordinance? If the developer was aware at the time of the purchase of the property that the addition of a penthouse would require a zoning variance, why wasn't this mentioned (or made a contingent part of the deal) at the time the proposed transaction was first presented to the council? Inasmuch as the developer's proposed project merely required a single exception to existing zoning rules, why did the administration draw up a new ordinance which would apply to the entire Historic 25th Street District? Why did Boss Godfrey's proposed ordinance contain language which would have stripped zoning approval authority from the council, and have vested it in an unelected advisory body, i.e., the Landmarks Commission? And last but not least... is there anybody who really believes that the developer had its loan all lined up... taking into account the current condition of the U.S. credit market?

So many questions... so few answers.

We also learn this morning that Councilwoman Gochnour has issued a written apology to the Landmarks Commission for ill-considered remarks uttered last week, evidently in the heat of passion:
“I went a step too far in my frustration at the end of a long and exhausting week,” she said in the e-mail obtained by the Standard-Examiner.
“And, I also want you to know I have great respect for the Landmarks Commission and all the excellent work you’ve done through the years in furthering Ogden’s historic preservation efforts.”
While we duly applaud Ms. Gochnour for her graciousness in reaching out to the Landmarks Commission, in a truly classy effort to smooth over some ruffled feathers, we nevertheless urge Ms. Gochnour and all five council grownups to remain vigilant. As long-time Godfrey watchers are well aware, our thoroughly Machiavellian Mayor Matt, regards apologies as acts of submission -- evidence of weakness -- which will henceforth require further acts of contrition (groveling.)

There hasn't been a week during the 3-1/2 years we've been Godfrey watching that we've been more proud of our city council's performance, by the way, than during this week's Windsor Hotel matter. The council has recently demonstrated a profound dedication to protecting the lumpencitizens' interests. Now is no time to let down their guard, we believe.

And lest our readers are temped to believe that this is the end of this story, we'll advise that we received this tip from a trusted source this morning:

"Sources close to me indicate Bob Geiger submitted a GRAMA request to the Utah State Historic Preservation Office for all correspondence between Barbara Murphy, of the office, and Ogden City."

The plot sickens, gentle readers. The Godfreyite's Council smear campaign which we warned about on Friday, is apparently well underway.

Have at it, gentle readers.

We'd love to get your takes on all this.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bloomberg: U.S. House Rejects $700 Billion Financial-Rescue Plan

Banking cartel bailout rejected by a vote of 228 to 205

By Dorothy Littrell

Three cheers for the Republican House members who defeated the $700 billion bill that was meant to save the Wall Street schemers who created our financial mess with the aid of the financial schemers in other countries:

U.S. House Rejects $700 Billion Financial-Rescue Plan

The Grass Roots spoke, and GOP House members responded (along with the needed number of Democrats. Ed.) That restores my faith in our system which I had lost long ago..

We have not become completely brain dead.

If the presidential candidates have any smarts they will take this message to heart.

More Communications From the Godfrey Bunker

Fear and anger ooze from the Godfrey camp

Last Friday we published a series of emails, revealing fear and anger from within the Boss Godfrey Camp. Godfrey and his minions were fuming about a strong opinion letter, which Councilwoman Gochnour had obtained in "due diligence" from an official from the State Historic Preservation Office. Although the Godfreyites nit-picked about formalities involving the release of the letter, significantly there seemed to be no complaints about its well-reasoned conclusions. This article of course provoked a very robust response from our WCF readership.

We're therefore delighted this morning to provide yet another glimpse into communications within the apoplectic Godfreyite bunker. Here are three more emails, intercepted and submitted by a trusted source close to city hall, and found in our email inbox this morning:

At 9:00 a.m. on Friday, Godfrey became even more "deeply troubled" than usual. The Emerald City master of back-door dealings and administration secrecy apparently experienced a philosophical conversion, and suddenly became an advocate of conducting city business "in the light of day for all to see":

Matthew Godfrey Email - 9/26/08

By 11:29 a.m., Emerald City CAO John Patterson had gotten into the act:

John Patterson Email - 9/26/08

By late afternoon, the ever-faithful Sue Wilkerson had thrown in her own two cents:

Sue Wilkerson Email - 9/26/08

In our humble view, it seems these Godfreyites continue to operate in an information bubble. Well informed Godfrey watchers (including the city council, apparently) have been aware since as early as November of 2007 that a variety of volunteer committees, including Landmarks, were to be stacked with Godfrey loyalists, and that a variety of Ogden City volunteer committees had thus shed their presumptive credibility.

As to the question of "threats," we believe Godfrey and his lackeys ought to read Weber County Forum a lot more frequently... and thoroughly.

And before closing we'll ask: Is it just us... or are other readers concerned about the tone, subject matter and volume of ex parte communications occurring between supposedly "neutral" Landmarks Commission Chair Sue Wilkerson, and the Ogden City Administration?

Have at it, gentle readers.

Congress: Think Before You Act

Another Weber County Forum call to citizen action

Thought provocative Karl Denninger video for our readers' perusal, as the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to vote on the banking industry's $700 billion bailout bill... this very morning (the Senate will reportedly vote on the bill later this week):

Don't forget to read Mr. Denninger's companion article. For those readers who haven't yet taken action on this impending taxpayer ripoff... there's still time to contact your congresscritters and register your objections. (According to Mr. Denninger, public opinion is running anywhere from 100:1 to 300:1 against the bill to date.) Here's a handy link through which you can contact our Utah congressional delegation about this: Utah congressional delegation contact links Whether you're opposed to this bill or not, we hope our readers will take action to urge our congressional delegation to take a little more time to debate and deliberate on this. As it presently stands, this bill seems to be the same type of ill-considered rush to judgment that brought us the Iraq War and the Patriot Act. At the very least, we believe all Americans should be extremely wary of any grand plan that's shoved down the taxpayers' throats, without a reasonable amount of public debate. Emerald City lumpencitizens are painfully aware of the problems that inevitably arise, when drastic actions are undertaken by government officials without adequate public discussion, of course.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Big Doin's on Historic 25th Street....

Rumor has it adult beverages will be available

By Curmudgeon

Big doin's on Historic [still -- thank you Council!] 25th Street....

Ms. Curmudgeon and I just back from the Farmers Market this morning, and set up for this afternoon [and evenings?] Harvest Fest/Mountain2Metro bash is well under way. Music stages going up -- two of them; one on upper 25th Street, one on lower 25th Street. The playin' starts at two, a harassed young woman named Kim told me. She seemed to be ramrodding the set up.

They've got little sandwich board signs up and down the street identifying which particular old brothel you are standing in front of, and information about the madam who ran it. Nothing much new, but always fun to recall. One tells the story of the Madam Gentle Kate riding up and down Ogden's streets in Brigham Young's carriage [bought after his death], and another parading up and down the street with her pet ocelot. [The story in the Standard-Examiner this morning about last night's kick off of Mountain2Metro fest quotes someone to the effect that Ogden "has a vibe" just now. Seems it had one in the past as well.]

Some restaurants setting up tables in the street. But street vendors may be offering the most interesting food. One guy has a full pig cooking on a huge grill. Haven't seen that since we left Louisiana. He's not doing couchon de lait of course --- wouldn't that be something in downtown Ogden! Looks more like a Carolina low-country pig-pickin'. Interesting.

And they're going to be selling beer... and wine!!!... right out there on the street, in front of god and the chirrin and everybody! And in more than one place! Sacre bleu! Can the second coming be far off now?

We hadn't planned on it, but I think Mrs. Curmudgeon and I will head back downtown later this afternoon and contribute to the air of general debauchery. [Beer for me, wine for her.] After all, as public-spirited citizens and happy supporters the revival of Historic 25th Street, how could we do otherwise? Wouldn't want anyone to think we were naysayers. Besides, it's perfect weather for a street party. They could not have ordered better.

Who knows? Maybe some of the music will be good too. Stranger things have happened.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Threats to the Council From Ogden City's "Shadow Government"

Ski haberdashers, real estate flippers and various other Godfreyite twits and hangers-on threaten to smear our city council - UPDATED

There's seldom a dull moment behind the scenes in Emerald City, even on a slow news day like today. We received a short series of forwarded emails from a trusted source close to city hall yesterday, indicating that certain members of Ogden City's "shadow government" of ski haberdashers, real estate flippers and various other Godfreyite twits and hangers-on have launched a smear campaign against the Ogden City Council. These emails reveal a plan of retaliation against several council members in particular. The council stubbornly refused to rubber stamp Boss Godfrey's Historic 25th Street zoning amendment, which, if passed, would have possibly jeopardised the district's historic preservation designation, and would have most certainly ceded future council authority to Boss Godfrey's hand-picked claque of appointed Planning and Landmarks Commission lackeys. Apparently the council didn't get Boss Godfrey's earlier memo ordering the council to "do as you're told."

Here's a real beauty from Descente Corporation bumpkin and Godfrey bestest-buddy Curt Geiger:

Curt Geiger Email - 9/24/08

And here's a real doozy from that pillar of civic virtue and all around wholesomeness, Godfrey lemming Tom Moore, who comes off in this message like Lord Torquemada:

Tom Moore Email 9/24/08

And even the G-train gets into the act:

Sue Wilkerson Email - 9/24/08

Pull up your popcorn and barca-loungers gentle readers. We'll be finding out who controls Ogden City zoning policy very soon, as the likes of Geiger, Moore and Wilkerson launch their public smear campaign, in the latest ham-handed Godfreyite attempt to bring our duly-elected city council to heel.

Update 9/27/08 10:30 a.m. MT: We're pleased to announce that we've obtained an Adobe PDF version of the "opinion letter" which threw the Godfreyite lemmings into their above-referenced email frenzy. We've uploaded it to our storage site; and our gentle readers can peruse it here:

9/22/08 Murphy/SHPO Letter

SLC Leaders Push Streetcars

It's Deja Vu all over again

By Curmudgeon

There is an interesting article in this morning's SL Trib. It ties in with the situation in Ogden, where the Windsor Hotel developers who want the 45' height limit on 25th Street raised are promising a gondola stop just moments from the condos and apartments they're hoping to sell downtown.

Here are the opening graphs:

Giddy about the efficiency of Portland's downtown streetcar system - and the economic spoils it spurs - Salt Lake City leaders are determined to bring new tracks and trolleys to Utah's capital.
Fresh from a Northwest transit tour of Portland, Seattle and Vancouver with 28 city and business officials, Mayor Ralph Becker says a new streetcar network, beginning in downtown, is a priority for his freshman administration.
"Lay the tracks and development happens," Becker told reporters Thursday morning at City Hall. "That's what we saw place after place."
Why, it's deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra used to say. I recall Ogdenites pointing out exactly the same things regarding streetcars, and using Portland's as an example, nearly three years ago as Hizzonah, The Mayor, began his campaign to sink plans for a street car line from downtown to WSU and McKay-Dee in order to protect that route for his flatland gondola tourist ride.

Imagine that....

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bad News For Hank Paulson's "Slam Dunk" Wall Street Bailout

Signs that Congress may have possibly awakened from its 8-1/2 year stupor

This text snippet from Forbes.com:

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill seem determined to work together to pass a bill that will get the credit markets churning again. But will they do it this week, as some had hoped just a few days ago? Don't count on it.
"Do I expect to pass something this week?" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., mused to reporters Tuesday. "I expect to pass something as soon as we can. I think it's important that we get it done right, not get it done fast."
And we believe Democratic U.S. House Representative DeFazio gets it exactly right:

The U.S. banking cartel has essentially told the U.S. taxpayer to "Pay up now... or else," the kind of message you'd expect to hear from people like John Gotti...

Time now to find out what Congress is really made of.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mushroom Cloud over Wall Street as US Constitution Burns

Our Utah congressional delegation exhibits that familiar "deer in the headlights" look

These are dark times. While you were sleeping the cockroaches were busy about their work, rummaging through the US Constitution, and putting the finishing touches on a scheme to assert absolute power over the nation's financial markets and the country's economic future. Industry representative Henry Paulson has submitted legislation to congress that will finally end the pretense that Bush controls anything more than reading the lines from a 4' by 6' teleprompter situated just inches from his lifeless pupils. Paulson is in charge now, and the coronation is set for sometime early next week. He rose to power in a stealthily-executed Bankster's Coup in which he, and his coterie of dodgy friends, declared martial law on the US economy while elevating himself to supreme leader.

The Market Oracle
Mushroom Cloud over Wall Street as US Constitution Burns
September 22, 2008

Outside Independence Hall when the Constitutional Convention of 1787 ended, Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, "Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, "A republic, if you can keep it."

Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franlin Quotes

Top notch rant from The Market Oracle Website. Read it and weep:

Mushroom Cloud over Wall Street as US Constitution Burns

This morning's Salt Lake Tribune reports that our Utah Congressional delegation publicly expresses some slight discomfort about the wisdom of the Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's "mother of all bailouts":

Utah delegation dubious about $700B bailout

Who wants to bet Congress won't be steamrolled into turning over our nation's financial markets and the country's economic future to the unfettered control of Paulson's U.S. banking cartel... (probably by the end of the week)?

We urge you to contact your Congresscritters right now; and let them know what the lumpencitizens think.

Don't let the prospect of a national crisis trick you into giving up your freedom, America.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

9/23/08 City Council Meeting Results

Sanity prevails on Ogden's Historic 25th Street

By Bill C.
Historic 25th Street wins 5-2. Yes folks, own responsible grown up Council quelled the threat to losing the Historic designation of our only real successful downtown endeavor. The only ones voting in favor of this silly ordinance change being Brandon Anally Stephenson and of course the biggest benefactor of the lying little matty movement to date, Blaine Johnson.

The most remarkable thing about this was the wording of the ordinance, it essentially would have eliminated all future Council oversight, by removing the one restriction that was a zoning issue -- The 45 ft. height restriction. This would have allowed all future infill to be done at the discretion of the Landmarks Committee and the Planning Department. Both of course hand picked mayoral appointments.

Of further insight is the revelation that what these guys had planned for the old Windsor would not have qualified for historic designation, despite the landmarks members' rather disingenuous pleas about their strict adherence to all guidelines, those being of course Bernie and G-train.

All the Council voting in opposition to the ordinance commented that to do so would jeopardize the historic designation, and they weren't willing to do that. Thank your lucky stars that there are mature long range thinkers on our Council.

One other tidbit I picked up from a very credible attendee at tonight's meeting, but I'm still not sure that it is in the Historic District boundaries: the icecicle is over the 45 ft. height restriction. Could it be we've been saved?

The floor is open for further reader comments.

Update 9/24/08 6:54 a.m. MT: Ace Reporter Schwebke chimes in this morning with a pretty decent writeup about last night's meeting:

Important Council Meeting Tonight

Another dunning reminder and call to citizen action

We open this morning's discussion by once again reminding our readers of tonight's city council meeting, wherein the council agenda includes consideration of the mayor's proposal to broadly amend the current zoning ordinance for Ogden's Historic 25th Street District:

6. Reports from the Planning Commission:
a. Height Limits on Buildings in the 25th Street Historic District. Proposed Ordinance 2008-43 amending the Ogden Municipal Code by amending subsection 15-34-3.A to revise the height limits on 25th Street Historic District. (Receive public input, adopt/not adopt ordinance – roll call vote)
We've had ample discussion of this proposal here on this blog. Readers who'd like to again review the issues surrounding the proposed municipal code amendment can find our previous articles assembled (in reverse chronological order) within our Windsor Hotel article collection.

It's also come to our attention within the past several days that the Windsor Hotel developers are in the midst of putting on a full court press to persuade the council that this new proposed ordinance has the support of the downtown business community. One of our sources close to city hall informs us that the administration has also been aggressively pressuring downtown business owners to support this proposal, even though it would have effects contrary to their personal interests. The council has already been subjected to a coordinated email and letter campaign by the ordinance proponents. The developers have also scheduled a special meeting this afternoon to organize a formal council presentation, wherein various proponents of the amended ordinance will divvy up their talking points.

Inasmuch as it's obvious that the ordinance amendment proponents intend to ambush the council tonight, and pack the commission chamber with their shills and stooges, we strongly urge all readers who oppose this re-zoning proposal to put tonight's council meeting on their calenders, and to make special efforts to be in attendance, pitchforks and torches in hand.

We've observed numerous incidences in the past where some council members have been swayed in their decisions on controversial ordinances by strong citizen turnouts. What a shame it would be, we believe, if the unique character of our Historic 25th Street District were to be forever compromised and diminished, because the steely-eyed lumpencitizens failed to show up in force.

Once again, we link our council contact information page, for those readers who still haven't contacted the council to express their views.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Three Times is Enemy Action

An interesting U.S. economic history article, from a decidedly "lefty" blog

Fantastic U.S. history financial writeup from yesterday's "Daily Kos" blog.

We've been hunting around for a good essay on the root causes of the current U.S./World economic meltdown. Here's one of the more interesting specimens we've found to date:

"Three Times is Enemy Action"

The floor is open to our gentle readers, who will no doubt enlighten the world blogosphere, about exactly what they think.

Don't assault the messenger BTW, gentle Republican readers. We have the uneasy feeling that this lefty author, posting at a lefty site... has the history just right.

Deviltower's fine article rings of important truths, wethinks.

Please take the time ro read it... and then offer your comments here.

Ogden Crime Statistics... Without the Godfrey Distortions

The article the Standard-Examiner should have written

By Dan Schroeder

After complaining loudly about the recent Standard-Examiner article on crime statistics, I think I owe it to readers to show what a competent handling of the statistics might look like.

Crime statistics for 2008 are not yet officially published, and it's impossible to interpret the bits and pieces provided in the recent news article. However, as reported a couple of months ago, we now have published data for all of 2007.

So I've added this to the earlier data that was analyzed on this blog last year, and produced some new graphs.

Both graphs show data from three sources: the FBI web site, the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification web site, and the Godfrey administration.

The first graph shows the total number of violent crimes (homicides, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults) reported in Ogden each year:

Assuming that the new data are accurate, Ogden saw more violent crimes in 2007 than in any year for which data are readily available (back to 1992). The new data add a third year to the disturbing upward trend since 2004.

The second graph shows the total number of crimes reported in Ogden each year that fall under the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) categories. These include the four categories of violent crimes plus burglary, larceny, auto theft, and arson:

Here the BCI data again show a disturbing upward trend for the last two years, while the FBI data indicate almost no change since 1999.

For those interested in the details, there's plenty more to say...

• These statistics don't include all crimes. Notably absent are simple assaults, fraud, forgery, drug offenses, traffic violations, and a number of less common types of crimes. However, for historical reasons, the eight UCR crime categories are the ones for which the best data are available.

• These graphs simply show the number of crimes--not the crime rate, which is the number of crimes per person. I've done this because you can't calculate the crime rate unless you have accurate population data, and there seems to be no agreement on how Ogden's population has changed between census years.

If we assume that Ogden's population has increased gradually over the time period shown, then graphs of the crime rates would be tipped somewhat more downward (or less upward).

• The graphs that the city (and the Godfrey campaign) published last year were of the crime rates. But these graphs used the 1990 census figure (about 63,900) for Ogden's population through 1999, then used the 2000 census figure (about 77,200) for the population thereafter. Unless you believe that Ogden's population increased by 21% in a single year, this trick created an apparent, but mostly artificial, 21% drop in the crime rates between 1999 and 2000. Conveniently, 2000 was the year that Mayor Godfrey took office.

• The three data sets for the number of UCR crimes (violent or total) should all agree with each other, because they ultimately come from the same source. The Ogden City Police Department collects the data and transmits it to the Utah BCI, which in turn transmits it to the FBI. It's therefore puzzling to see significant differences between the three data sets in recent years.

• The discrepancies between the FBI and BCI data sets may have something to do with the timing of their reports, and the fact that the city can provide updates and corrections to the data as much as a year after it is first transmitted. Last fall I contacted the BCI directly and learned that their latest data for 2006 were in agreement with the FBI's lower numbers, even though the report on the BCI web site contained (and still contains) the higher numbers. It should also be mentioned that the 2007 BCI data are still labeled "preliminary"; their final report won't be published until next month.

• The Godfrey administration's still-lower numbers for 2005 and 2006 also beg for explanation. Some possible clues can be found in the administration's breakdown by specific crime categories, which shows a precipitous decline from 107 robberies in 2004 to only 35 in 2005, and a decline from 849 burglaries in 2004 to only 520 in 2005. Both of these declines seem implausible because there were no such dramatic fluctuations in the previous 12 years, and because neither decline is reflected in the BCI or FBI data. However, the headings in the administration's table are "Robbery/Weapon" and "Burglary/Residential", which may indicate that "strong arm" robberies and nonresidential burglaries are excluded. Such exclusions would be in clear violation of the FBI's UCR standards, and it would be especially misleading to include these crimes up to 2004 but exclude them from 2005 on. Still, although it's impossible to be certain, I'm guessing that this is what the Godfrey administration has done.

• It should be noted that the table on the Ogden City site was posted there on 23 October 2007, the same day that a guest commentary by Jim Hutchins on this subject was printed in the Standard-Examiner. However, graphs and summaries of the same data had already been published in a city-sponsored newspaper ad, in a utility bill insert, and on Mayor Godfrey's campaign web site. The city has been asked (via written GRAMA request) to provide an even more detailed breakdown of the data for recent years, but has refused.

• During his campaign last year, Mayor Godfrey repeatedly claimed credit for reducing Ogden's total crime rate by 23%, and for reducing Ogden's violent crime rate by 43%. The truth is that both the total crime rate and the violent crime rate have been approximately flat since Godfrey first took office. After the errors in the administration's methodology have been corrected, any remaining changes since 1999 are small compared to the uncertainties due to differing data sets, the lack of good population data, and the random fluctuations that one would expect from year to year.

• The July 25 Standard-Examiner article was deficient in several ways. The text of the article reported that robberies and aggravated assaults increased by 19% from 2006 to 2007, even though the raw data (provided in an accompanying table) indicate an increase of 24%. More importantly, the text of the article failed to point out that this increase fell on top of similar increases in violent crime during the previous two years, resulting in a total violent crime increase of 64% since 2004 (according to the BCI data). This article was based entirely on the BCI data, with no indication that other sources (the FBI and the Godfrey administration) might differ. The graph accompanying the article didn't even include the new 2007 data, presumably because the preliminary BCI report didn't provide a population figure from which one could compute the crime rate. And finally, the article quoted Mayor Godfrey saying he actually knew the 2007 crime statistics would be higher and "attempted to communicate [this] to everyone a year ago," with no attempt (on the part of the newspaper) to verify whether there ever was such a communication and no mention of the multiple communications that the Godfrey administration and campaign sent out last year, claiming that the crime rates had dropped by large percentages.

• The September 15 Standard-Examiner article was even worse, because it labeled the data in a way that's impossible to interpret, and because the newspaper obviously allowed the city to cherry-pick the exact data (from a particular neighborhood, during a particular time period) that it wanted released.

• Ultimately, none of this data is any better than the methodology used to collect it. Even those of us who have never attended a crime conference can easily imagine that minor differences in protocol and classification of crimes might create noticeable differences in the statistics. There could also be inconsistencies from year to year in the fraction of crimes that get reported to police. And finally, as was pointed out by Professor Wadman in the recent news article, the underlying causes behind rising and falling crime statistics are extremely complex. So in the end, Ogden's crime statistics don't show any discernible trends that can reasonably be blamed on (or credited to) Mayor Godfrey or anyone else.

It's quite clear, however, that the mayor has made a practice of distorting and politicizing crime statistics for his personal benefit.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Changing Historic 25th Street District Zoning: Another Knuckleheaded Boss Godfrey Idea

The Weber County Heritage Foundation weighs in on the subject of a proposed 25th Street Historic District rezone

Last Thursday, we featured a wonderful article from the Utah Heritage Foundation blog, presenting sound and rational reasons why Boss Godfrey's pending scheme to enact a broad zoning modification within Ogden's Historic 25th Street District ought to be summarily rejected by the Ogden City Council.

To our great delight, this morning's Standard-Examiner features a fine follow-up piece, a guest commentary by Susan Van Hooser, president of another Utah historic preservation political heavy hitter, the Weber County Heritage Foundation. Ms. Van Hooser's article presents yet more cogent argument supporting the proposition that the Council ought to firmly but politely tell Godfrey and his Windsor Hotel developer pals to make like real "high adventure recreation" folke... and "take a hike." Check out Ms. Van Hooser's full text below:

"Raising building height limits on Historic 25th Street a bad idea"

Ogden City has a good thing going with our Historic 25th Street. It's plain that now is no time to let Godfrey and his cronies screw it up.

A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to Ms. Van Hooser and the Weber County Heritage Foundation, for weighing in energetically and unequivocally on this very important subject.

For those readers who haven't already contacted the City Council about this, we link Ogden City Council contact information here. Remember, time is running short. The Council will consider this proposed zoning change on Tuesday. Snoozers will be losers.

Reader comments are invited as always.

Sunday Morning Economic Meltdown Article Roundup

Spotlight on three fine articles from Utah cyberspace

Three particularly interesting items this morning which we'll highlight for those readers who are closely following developments surrounding the U.S. financial market meltdown. We'll post links and short text excerpts below:

The Salt Lake Tribune provides more information on the $700 billion mortgage bailout scheme which Geedubya and Treasury Secretary Paulson will be ramming down the throats of our Congresscritters this week:

"Bailout without precedent":

WASHINGTON - Revealing its plan to rescue the nation's financial system from near-paralysis, the Bush administration is asking Congress for the authority to spend $700 billion and for powers to intervene in the economy so sweeping that they had virtually no precedent in U.S. history.
The proposal, set out in a spare 2 1/2 -page document sent to congressional leaders Saturday, would effectively allow the Treasury secretary to set up a government investment bank to buy up the billions of dollars of the mortgage-backed securities now clogging the arteries of the global financial system.
The dollar figure alone is remarkable, amounting to 5 percent of the nation's gross domestic product. But the most distinctive - and potentially most controversial - element of the plan is the extent to which it would allow Treasury to act unilaterally: Its decisions could not be reviewed by any court or administrative body and, once the emergency legislation was approved, the administration could raise the $700 billion through government borrowing and would not be subject to Congress' traditional power of the purse. [...]
''It essentially creates an economic czar with no administrative oversight, no legal review, no legislative review. And it gives one man $700 billion to disperse as he needs fit,'' said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., referring to Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr.
''He will have complete, unbridled authority subject to no law,'' she said. [Emphasis added].
Wasn't it George Bush who told us that his job would be a lot easier if America operated as a political dictatorship? Hmmmm... Looks as though we may be moving one step closer to that.

And an enterprising Salt Lake Tribune journalist Pat Bagley has dug deeply into the Trib archives, and provides a morning story with elements which might arguably provide some of the less optimistic among us a strong sense of deja vu:

"1929's Tribune headlines were not so different from today's":

The Friday before the great stock market crash of 1929, Utahns could read in The Salt Lake Tribune that the previous day's market ride had been a thriller. Dizzying early losses were offset a bit by a late-in-the-day rally. [...]
The Saturday before the crash, a headline read: "Strong Market Support Sweeps Away Clouds," then curiously led with two items: One about a Mr. Germansky who was last seen near the New York Stock Exchange, muttering to himself and tearing a strip of ticker tape to bits (anyone having information about his whereabouts, please contact Mrs. Germansky); and the second one about how a real estate dealer from Illinois had gassed himself in his kitchen after stock market losses.
At the top of A2 was this: "President Declares Business Structure of Country Sound"
We suppose we can find solace in the fact that we haven't heard about any realtors gassing themselves in their kitchens, we guess... not YET, anyway.

And speaking of deja vu, one Utah blog, Simple Utah Mormon Politics, provides a faith enhancing story angle which we believe will have appeal for our gentle readers of the LDS persuasion:

"The "D" Word: Gordon B. Hinckley is Looking Pretty Prophetic About Now...":

Ten years ago, President Gordon B Hinckley told members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to get their houses in order and begin to get out of debt, because we might be headed for a depression. Few have listened. It looks like, ten years later, that President Hinckley's warning was rather prophetic.
There's an actual reason they're called "prophets," you know.

That's it for now, gentle readers. We'll skip the laborsome analysis and instead rely upon our readers to explain the meaning of all this. Be sure to lodge your ever-savvy observations and comments below.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Utes 30; Falcons 23... WSU 32; Sac State 27

The Utes again barely claw out another win at the last minute... on the scoreboard at least

The Utes were again victorious today.

Read all about it:

Utah football: Utes hold on to beat Air Force

Yeah. It was an ugly victory.

the Utes are now 4-0 nevertheless, for all that's worth

We're still shaking out heads wondering how Whittingham's highly athletic team nearly got their ass handed to them by a pack of pussies who run a high-school style option offense, fergawdsake.


Fortunately for serious college football fans, WSU again kicked serious butt today. This from the Sacramento Bee:

Sac State loses another QB, game

That makes the Wildcats 3-1

Comments are invited.

Ben Lomond Hotel Ownership Throws a Hail Mary

Trustee sale set for September 29; owner plans to file Chapter 11 petition

By Curmudgeon

Sad story on the front page of this morning's Standard Examiner. The Ben Lomond Hotel has defaulted on its loans and plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in hope of reorganizing and refinancing its debt.

The plan apparently involves selling a lot of the hotel's condo units to raise cash to retire as much of the loan as possible and to enable refinancing of what will remain. Selling off a lot of condos into the current declining market seems a hail-mary pass with time running out on the clock to me. But I hope it's successful. The Ben Lomond Historic Hotel is too valuable a part of Historic 25th Street and downtown Ogden to lose.

A Case of Misplaced American Investment Priorities?

19th century domestic investment and consumption strategy turned on its head

Finance set the terms of corporate behavior over the past quarter-century, and not in ways that bolstered the economy. By its actions - elevating shareholder value over the interests of other corporate stakeholders, focusing on short-term investments rather than patient capital, pressuring corporations to offshore jobs and cut wages and benefits - Wall Street plainly preferred to fund production abroad and consumption at home. The internal investment strategy of 100 years ago was turned on its head. Where Morgan once funneled European capital into American production, for the past decade Morgan's successors have directed Asian capital into devices to enable Americans to take on more debt to buy Asian products.

Salt Lake Tribune
Wall Street's investment banks deserve to die
September 19, 2008

Thought-provocative editorial piece in Thursday's Salt Lake Tribune, wherein the author, Harold Meyerson, contrasts the American financial community's (and the government's) domestic investment priorities during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, with the decidedly non-domestic investment preferences of the late 20th century.

It's an interesting article... well worth a look.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Godfrey's Favorite Tool is Deception

Kickoff to a Friday afternoon open topic thread

By OgdenLover

There's a Letter to the Editor, "Godfrey's Favorite Tool is Deception," in today's Standard-Examiner from David Smith. He sums up how God-free is selling Ogden out to his buddies.

Editor's note: It's been several weeks since we set up a Weber County Forum open topic thread, and we think today's David Smith letter serves as a fine launching pad toward such an effort. His letter is yet more evidence, we believe, that "brevity is the soul of wit." This compact, but fact-filled letter provides just the kind of fodder to provoke a robust WCF discussion, so we invite all of our readers to join in. Our readership has been unusually quiet over the past week, and today's David Smith letter affords everyone an ideal opportunity to catch up.

Have at it, O Gentle Ones. Last one out, be sure to turn out the lights.

Ogden Streetcar Study Moves Forward

UTA begins its search for a contracted study consultant next month

Good news for fanciers of an Ogden streetcar system, gentle readers. Scott Schwebke reports this morning that stakeholder pledges have been rounded up, and that the UTA will be hiring a study consultant very soon:

OGDEN — A search will get under way next month for a consultant to undertake a $750,000 study that may lead to a streetcar system along the busy downtown to Weber State University-McKay-Dee Hospital corridor.
Mick Crandall, deputy chief of planning and programming for the Utah Transit Authority, reviewed with the city council during a Thursday night work session a memo detailing a timeline for completing the study.
Funding for the study will come from $231,250 in Utah Transit Authority federal money pledged for local transportation analysis and $58,750 set aside in the city’s fiscal 2009 budget.
In addition, Weber State University has been asked to contribute $140,000, and Intermountain Health Care, which is the parent company of McKay-Dee Hospital, has been asked to provide $30,000.
Efforts to advertise for a consultant for the study will begin in early October, according to the UTA memo.
For those of us who've felt that this project has been moving like molasses, it's encouraging to observe that the project is approaching another important milestone.

The Foundations of U.S. Capitalism Shattered

Welcome to the brave new world of right wing socialism, folks

We just watched Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's morning press conference on financial news channel CNBC. Yesiree, the scuttlebutt we've been hearing the past two days is true. The Treasury Department and FED will be burning the midnight oil over the weekend, working on a scheme to clean up the bankrupt banking industry's balance sheets, by forming a new government entity to buy up all the bad paper held in the so-called private financial sector. Rather than having these bad loans "clogging" up the works (Paulson's own words), the geniuses at Treasury and the FED will form a giant new sucker corporation to take this embarrassing toxic debt off the financial sector's hands once and for all. And who will be the owner of this new sucker entity, and the mountain of debt which will be dumped in its lap? The U.S. taxpayer, that's who.

We found several articles this morning which express the current sentiment of the more sensible elements of the financial and internet press on the topic of the ongoing financial meltown; and we'll reel them off with short text excepts below:

"Escape of the bankrupt":

The world's financial markets remain at the eye of a perfect economic storm. The architects of this almighty financial sell-off? The banks themselves. The markets are in complete disorder, yet they remain unable to solve the situation themselves, and so go looking for a public sector bailout. Risk management, the buzz word of the financial markets since the collapse of Barings Bank in 1995, is clearly an oxymoron.
"America and China Joined at the Hip":

With the government now having spent over $800 billion in less than a year shoring up tottering financial companies that had become little more than casinos (and rigged ones at that), America is looking increasingly like China, a country where the state has been gradually getting out of the business of directly owning companies.
"The World As We Know It Is Going Down":

In fact, it really does look as if the foundations of US capitalism have shattered. Since 1864, American banking has been split into commercial banks and investment banks. But now that's changing. Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch -- overnight, some of the biggest names on Wall Street have disappeared into thin air. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are the only giants left standing. Despite tolerable quarterly results, even they have been hurt by mysterious slumps in prices and -- at least in Morgan Stanley's case -- have prepared themselves for the end.
"Nothing will be like it was before," said James Allroy, a broker who was brooding over his chai latte at a Starbucks on Wall Street. "The world as we know it is going down."
The mere rumor of a new RTC sent the stock market soaring. Why not? The US Government is telling the investors that they can keep the profits from any trades, but any further losses will get transferred to the taxpayers. It's like being in Las Vegas at the Blackjack table, and every time you get 21 or beat the dealer, you get to keep the winnings, but if you bust, or the dealer wins, they take the money from the bus boy cleaning the table behind you. Such a deal! What's not to like?
Unless you are that bus boy, of course.
We've long suspected that the notion that the U.S. was a free market economy was one bad joke. By Monday, we'll have the proof. Welcome to the brave new world of right wing socialism, folks. The American corporo-fascists are now firmly in control.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Important Emerald City Work Session Tonight

A heads-up from stalwart Councilwoman Jeske

By: Dorrene Jeske
Ogden City Council Member

I just received this in my email and thought that there might be some of you who would be interested in attending our work meeting tonight

Discussion of the transportation alternative analysis has been added to the agenda. We will still be discussing the water rates too.

Ogden Can't Afford Extravagant Playpen

Spot on letter to the editor from today's Standard-Examiner

By George K.

I love Barbara Jensen’s letter to the editor, “Ogden can’t afford ‘extravagant playpen" in today’s Standard Examiner! She is exactly right! Ogden has a king-size playground because it has an oversized child for Mayor! We have a game arcade, a movie megaplex theater complex, the promise of an ice climbing tower, and flatland gondola, and now he expects the taxpayers of Ogden to build him a velodrome with a number of tennis courts so he can always have access to a court, an inline skate track, an indoor running track, and other competitive sports. As if that isn’t enough to keep him occupied, he wants a BMX track, an Olympic swimming pool, and a horse riding facility with riding trails. And to accommodate the out-of-town users, he is creating a downtown camp ground which may cost us the support and participation of the Pioneer Heritage Foundation’s support with our Ogden Pioneer Day Celebration.

Not only can we NOT financially afford Godfrey’s “playpen,” but we can’t afford how he is impacting the residents’ spirit of pride and ownership. We no longer have a town with stores where we love to shop or feel safe just strolling down the street. Godfrey has taken our town from us and given it to visitors, tourists and immature adults who have the time and money to frequent his “playpen.” Ogden is no longer a place that the average resident can enjoy and afford.

Barbara’s statistics will not convince Godfrey that he is going in the wrong direction at this time of recession/depression. He doesn’t live in a real, every-day world that the rest of us do. Besides no one is as intelligent as he. As I have said for quite some time now: “Godfrey’s visions are Ogdenites’ nightmares!”

A very good letter, Barbara Jensen! Kudos to you for taking the time to put your concerns in writing and sending them to the paper.

Ogden City Council Considers Major Zoning Change for Historic 25th Street

The Utah Heritage Foundation joins the 25th Street Historic District preservation fight, in re the Windsor Hotel

One of our gentle readers sent us an email this morning, with a link to an article appearing on the Utah Heritage Foundation blog. It's a well-written article, touching on an issue we've discussed here on Weber County Forum, i.e., The Godfrey administration's proposal for a wholesale zoning change within Ogden City's 25th Street Historic District. We incorporate the opening paragraphs below:
Ogden's 25th Street is the model downtown historic district I am proud to use in my presentations. But sadly that may not be for much longer.
On Tuesday, September 23rd, the Ogden City Council will consider a request to change the 45-foot height restriction in the 25th Street Historic District which has been in place since 1989. If you've walked 25th Street and seen the ongoing revitalization of downtown Ogden, then you have witnessed how historic preservation has played a key role in sparking the comeback of one of the great historic downtowns of Utah. This includes award-winning rehabilitations, new local businesses, and with the relocation of the IRS, thousands of new jobs downtown.
Just like other zoning ordinances, preservation ordinances for historic districts and their design guidelines are in place to create a level playing field for everyone. So is it fair that now a developer comes forward with a proposal to change these ordinances that govern the entire district to make their single project work? It seems not.
The article goes on to discuss the background of our 25th Street Historic District's remarkable revival, within the context of an overall historic preservation ethos, and to make a fine and cogent argument for the denial of a broad change in our unique historic district's zoning, on the basis of the questionable purported "wants" of the single Windsor Hotel developer.

Among other things, the article provides Ogden City Council contact links, along with a wealth of other useful information.

It's an interesting and informative read, and we urge all of our readers to check it out here:

Ogden City Council considers major zoning change for historic 25th Street

Sometimes we lumpencitizens of Ogden City feel a mite isolated in our 24/7 fight to to oppose Boss Godfrey's efforts to blithely turn our city over to his friends, cohorts and campaign contributors. Having said that, we're happy to learn this morning that a Utah historic preservation heavyweight, The Utah Heritage Foundation, has joined us in what has heretofore seemed to be a purely local fight.

The Utah Heritage Foundation has adopted a position strongly opposing the new ordinance, and invited its blog readers to contact our council with their opinions on the subject. We accordingly urge our gentle readers to open the above-linked article, take advantage of the embedded contact links, and let the council know exactly what the Ogden lumpencitizens think as well.

As mentioned in the blog article, the council will consider the zoning change during its regular September 23 council meeting. Time is running short, gentle readers. If you intend to take action... we'd suggest you DO IT NOW.

Rocky Mountain Power Backs Down?

24%/month price increase coincincides with installation of new meter

By George K.

In today’s Standard Examiner’s front page story, “Electric utility backs down”, Rocky Mountain Power’s announcement that it won’t curtail service cutbacks is a wise decision. I would have filed a complaint and maybe a lawsuit against them if it had carried out its threat.

Last summer my old electric meter, that I could read, was removed and a new one installed. Immediately my electric bill doubled! The weather had turned hot, and we needed to use our central air conditioner, so I assumed much of the increase was due to that. But when we no longer needed the air conditioner, my electric bill remained more than $20.00 more than it had the previous year at the same time. The increased amount has remained more than $20.00 a month more ever since, which amounts to a 24 percent increase a month. Just because they changed my meter!

I would like to know if anyone else has had the same experience when their meter was changed. If so, do we submit a group complaint with the Utah Public Service Commission? They should be informed that Rocky Mountain has already received their rate increase with the installation of new meters. Does anyone else share my concern?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Tribunal Must Tell Us What to Fix... and Whom to Punish

The state shirked its role while stupidity and greed slid into thieving. When the crisis subsides, an inquiry is needed

If the mistakes that have collapsed the world's financial markets had been made by statesmen and had led to war, there would be corpses swinging from lampposts. If they had been made by generals, they would be falling on their swords. If they had been made by judges or surgeons or scholars, some framework of professional retribution would be rolling into action. But those responsible for our finances can apparently vanish into the forest like Cheshire cats, leaving only gold-plated grins. Not for them a Hague tribunal or a Hutton inquiry. They are not just good at shedding risk - they shed blame.

Simon Jenkins -The Guardian
A tribunal must tell us what to fix. And whom to punish
September 17, 2008

A few more select paragraphs from today's Jenkins/Guardian article:

Who are they? Where are they now? They said it could not happen again. They said they were masters of the universe. They had conquered history itself and had that wily monster quivering at their feet. There would be no more crashes, no more recessions, no more booms and busts, just moonbeams and rainbows and jam for tea. [...]
We are seeing what historians of ideas call a paradigm shift. [...]
JK Galbraith's book on [the 1929] crash is the Dr Strangelove of financial holocaust. If it offers one lesson, it is that crashes are not acts of God; they are caused by the interaction of corporate behaviour and state regulation. Nor does the market supply its own discipline. Understanding that, wrote Galbraith, "remains our best safeguard against recurrence". [...]
The naivety of all this is now exposed. Politicians encouraged the public to treat home ownership as a "right"; property became the citizen's gilt-edged stock. Bankers encouraged staff to speculate with depositors' money by awarding them huge bonuses to maintain turnover. Those charged with the guardianship of other people's savings behaved, in effect, like thieves. Sheer greed drove young men and women mad. Nobody in authority batted an eyelid.[...]
There is no perfect market. Markets need regulation, just as communities need law. [...]
Read the rest of this fantastic article here.

Once you've digested this fine article, do come back with your ever-savvy comments.

Mayor Godfrey Hammered by Both Citizens and the City Council

City Council Notes 9/16/08

By George K.

I haven’t seen such a lively Council Meeting for at least a year. There were only two items on the agenda, but there was a large crowd and the meeting went for more than two hours.

The Council was considering a rezone of 370-378 Goddard which is a vacant lot and an old house across the street from the Odyssey Elementary School. The owner of the properties, David Griffiths, has a used car lot that is just south of Sandy’s Restaurant. When he first approached the City Council, he said that he did not plan to use the Goddard street access to the properties because Washington Blvd. would be the main access to his car lot and he intended the vacant lot to store extra cars accessed from the used car lot and he had no immediate plans for the house. He emailed the Council yesterday, saying that Washington Blvd would soon be under reconstruction and he would need access from Goddard, but would limit use so that it did not interfere with the high volume of parents delivering and picking up their students. Rich Moore from the Ogden School District read a letter from Supt. Noel Zabrishie who was unable to attend. The letter cited several concerns of the School District and asked that the Council take the safety of the students into consideration when making their deliberation. After some discussion, Council member Brandon Stephenson moved that the rezone be adopted because he felt that Planning Commission would limit the Goddard St. access according to the minutes. The motion passed 6 to 1 with Council member Jeske voting “No.” She said that she was concerned for the safety of the students and referenced the email they had received asking for access via Goddard.

The other item on the agenda was the reconsideration of the temporary ordinance for C-1 and C-2 zones of neighborhood businesses located throughout the City that was adopted 5 to 2 September 2nd. It seems that several members of the Council had been contacted and asked to reconsider their vote. Council member Jeske moved to reconsider the ordinance and Council member Gochnour seconded it. Council member Garcia explained that an educational community center had been in the process between WSU, Ogden School District and the Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College for some time, and would be curtailed by the temporary ordinance that halted any new construction in the areas being considered for the zoning change. The developer indicated he was ready to go forward with the plans for the educational center and an office building within the next 30 to 60 days. During public input, several residents of the neighborhood spoke against reconsidering the ordinance stating that the Council should wait for public input through the community plan that is in the process of being redeveloped. They urged that the historic nature of the East Central neighborhood be retained. However, the ordinance that had been adopted allowed for continued work on the old Safeway grocery store, including the facade which had a Hispanic architectural design. Mayor Godfrey poured out a tirade against the developer would put up anything he wanted and added that he and his associates had contacted members of the Council and asked them to reconsider the ordinance. He then sarcastically asked Council member Jeske why she was shaking her head. With barbed arrows in her voice she replied that she had been contacted by a representative from WSU who had stated that WSU, the Ogden School District and the ATC had jointly been working on developing a community educational center. The Mayor replied that he had been in contact with WSU but hadn’t heard anything about it in an apparent effort to discredit Council memberJeske. But he apparently failed because Council member Jesse Garcia amended the motion made by Council member Stephenson that adopted the proposed temporary ordinance, but added that an educational center and business office be allowed in all the zones being considered. It passed unanimously.

Before opening the meeting to public comments, Chair Wicks read a prepared statement regarding excessively high utility bills. She told the audience that the Council had received a great deal of feedback on the new water rates and knew they were concerned. She said that packets were available to them on the table outside the Council Chambers that explained the rate structure. She said that the Council was working closely with the Administration and looking at options, and that they would be discussing the water rates at their Thursday work meeting. She invited the public but noted that they would not be allowed to comment.

The Mayor said that he could give recommendations right then and there. They were to eliminate the $7.00 surcharge per 1,000 gallons of water over the allotted amount, and go back to the $2.36 surcharge. He said that the City could provide rebates or credits as appropriate retroactive for the months of June, July, August and September.

During the public comments, several citizens of the Lorin Farr neighborhood expressed concern about the campground that the City recently constructed on Park Blvd. Their concerns ranged from fear of an increased presence of an undesirable element to their neighborhood, the cost, that they had not been informed and consulted about its construction to concern for the rodeo participants who used the area during the rodeo. Most of them stated that there would be a need for the campground to have some kind of security presence 24/7/365. The Mayor said that they had not decided what kind of security would be provided, but a steward may be on site at all times. He said that the $14,000 cost was greatly inflated, although he never did say how much the cost would be. During the Council’s comment time, Council member Gochnour asked if the Pioneer Heritage Foundation had been consulted. She said that she had heard that they were very upset with the location of the campground. Council member Jeske asked the Mayor if the campground was included in the Neighborhood Community Plan and the General Plan, and told the audience that the Council had not been informed either of the campground. Vice Chair Stephens read from a prepared statement two or three pages long, and said that he was concerned that the Council had not been involved in any discussion of the campground and ended with the statement that the Pioneer Heritage Foundation may pull its support of the Pioneer Day celebration. The Mayor then responded with, “Be fair, Doug. You never asked the questions about the campground or they would have been answered. Be fair, Doug.” He indicated that at a work meeting, CAO John Patterson had told the Council about the campground, and that it had been discussed several times. Chair Wicks said that the she recalled the campground being mentioned as part of the Mayor’s “wish list.” Points were made by most of the Council members that revealed that the Mayor had acted without Council input, and they were very unhappy about it.

Editor's Note: Scott Schwebke also provides his own writeup this morning, on the topic of the water bill rebates mentioned above.

Powder Mountain Update: Weber County Files its Responsive Pleading

The County raises a state constitutional issue, among other apparent defenses

Earlier this month we reported that the Powder Mountain developer had filed an action in the 2d District court, seeking an order to compel the Weber County Commission to fill the mayor and council positions in Ogden Valley's new "Powderville" town, from the developer's carefully-crafted list of lackeys and sycophants.

The Standard-Examiner reports this morning that Weber County has now filed an answer to the developer's complaint. This morning's Di Lewis story give us a first glimpse of the county's legal position in this matter. From this morning's story:
OGDEN — Granting developers the right to create a town without input and then select town government without oversight is “tantamount to monarchy.”
At least that’s what the Weber County Attorney’s Office says.
In a response filed Tuesday to Aug. 26 litigation from Powder Mountain developers, the Weber County Commission acknowledges it was required by law to appoint a mayor and town council for Powder Mountain after the resort incorporated as a town on Aug. 5.
The argument now, however, is who gets to choose names on the list from which the appointments will be made.
We'd earlier surmised that the county might assert defenses based on constitutional grounds, and it appears that the county has done just that. Ms. Lewis's article provides the gist:
In response, the commission asserts this stance violates the Utah Constitution by delegating authority to control municipal functions to a private group.
Article VI Section 28 of the Constitution states, “The Legislature shall not delegate to any special commission, private corporation or association any power to … perform any municipal functions.”
This morning's article is a mite vague as the the nature of any other defenses which might be contained the in the County's responsive pleadings, although Ms. Lewis does provide a few tantalizing hints:
Commissioners argue the law requires them to appoint “from a list of qualified individuals approved by the petition sponsors,” not from “the list” submitted by the town’s founders. [...]
The response also argues the selection of the town government is critical to the success and well-being of the town, especially because it was formed without outside input.
The response adds that, if the Legislature had intended for the commission to approve any qualified list from the petitioners, the law would have been worded differently.
The commissioners said they are supposed to protect the health, safety and welfare of county residents and attempted to do so by seeking input from both residents and the petition sponsors of Powder Mountain.
However, they feel they cannot fulfill their duties if forced to approve only the developers’ list.
In this connection, your blogmeister plans to trot down to the courthouse this morning, to obtain copies of the pleadings now on file. If all goes well, we'll scan and upload electronic versions for the benefit of our readers, who no doubt share your blogmeister's curiosity about the precise nature of the arguments which the Weber County Attorney's office has mustered in the defense of the Commission's actions to date.

Until then... don't let the cat get your tongues, O gentle ones.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More Local Blowback From the Investment Banking Meltdown

The local municipal bond market swirls down the crapper

Reuters reported yesterday that the municipal bond market has been stopped dead in its tracks. This from yesterday's Reuters story:

MIAMI (Reuters) - The collapse of one Wall Street firm and the merger of another over the weekend may raise Main Street America's borrowing costs as those investment banks are central to the trading of the municipal debt that finances schools, parks, hospitals and roads across the nation.
The bankruptcy filing by Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc (LEH.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the No. 3 underwriter for competitive deals in the $2.6 trillion tax-free municipal debt market, and the $50 billion acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co Inc (MER.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), will also restrict liquidity in the municipal bond market, according to traders, portfolio managers and investment strategists.
Indeed, on Monday, the first day of trading after the historic developments on Wall Street this weekend, U.S. municipal bond transactions were few and overall trading slow.
"People are very leery of jumping in," said a Midwest municipals trader. "You are losing two large issuers, two large sources of liquidity. People are sitting and watching."
Higher costs for cities, school districts and other public borrowers will show first in wider spreads between what investors are willing to bid for bonds and the offering prices sellers demand, according to portfolio manager and Vice President Evan Rourke at M.D.Sass Associates in New York.

This information is also particularly interesting:
Smaller and regional firms (can you say Wells Fargo [Ed.]) have grown more active in municipals during recent months, but may not be able to pick up all the slack, traders and portfolio managers have said.
Some hard-pressed local governments and other issuers will postpone borrowing, according to Matt Fabian, analyst at Municipal Market Advisors in Concord, Massachusetts, who cut his forecast for new municipal debt for 2008 to $425 billion from an earlier forecast of $450 billion.
"This may translate into ratings or even credit issues for some governments that have planned on selling bonds to patch current year budget gaps," Fabian said in a weekly commentary. "Further, the deferral of needed infrastructure, replacement and maintenance will increase future costs while slowing economic growth; this puts more pressure on tax rates and political infrastructure going forward."
And this info is flat out fascinating:

Bonds with unusual coupons or structures are proving harder to sell because of deteriorating liquidity. [Emphasis added.].
As all regular WCF readers know, the Junction Project bonding is subject to a "rate swap," which is an extremely unusual payback structure.

For our readers' convenience we've put together a page on our storage site to provide a little more detail re the Junction bonding swap.

We know at least three Ogden City Council members regularly read this blog. We suspect there may be more. We do hope they're all keeping their eyes open as they watch the financial markets deteriorate.

As for the little twit BIG SPENDING and borrowing dope Boss Godfrey: We doubt he reads this blog. Somebody obviously needs to at least send him a link.

Dow Drops 504 points; AIG Talks Bankruptcy

The nation's largest insurance company seeks a FED lifeline

Today's Deseret News carries a pretty good synopsis of yesterday's stock market action, wherein the Dow dripped 500+ points, as a result of the chaos in the financials sector. From this morning's article:

NEW YORK — Mighty investment banks were laid low. Stocks put in their worst performance in seven years. About $700 billion was washed away on Wall Street.
The crisis set in motion more than a year ago by a series of bad mortgage bets produced its most devastating day yet Monday, leaving investors to wonder whether anywhere was safe for their money.
Capping a tumultuous 24 hours that redrew the American financial system, Lehman Brothers filed the largest bankruptcy in American history, and a second storied bank, Merrill Lynch, fled into the arms of Bank of America.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 500 points, more than 4 percent, its steepest point drop since the day the stock market reopened after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
About $700 billion evaporated from retirement plans, government pension funds and other investment portfolios.
It was by far the most stomach-churning single day since a financial crisis began to bubble up from billions of dollars in rotten mortgage loans that have crippled the balance sheets of one bank after another and landed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under the control of the federal government.
Read this morning's full Deseret News article here.

Wall Street traders seem to be taking the crisis somewhat in stride this morning. Although the Dow has been down as much as 86 points this morning, it's in positive territory (up 24 pts.) as of the time of this posting. While it's still too early in the day to determine whether yesterday's trading action signalled a complete erosion of confidence in the financials sector, there's another GIANT problem looming on the near horizon:

An AIG Accident Could Dwarf Lehman's

AIG is one of the largest insurance companies in the world, with significant exposure in the areas of mortgage insurance, bond (derivatives) insurance and other forms of insurance involving the financials sector. The collapse of AIG could leave a wide array of banks, pension funds and other financial institutions and investors essentially "naked" to the effects of a collapsing financial market.

Those readers who regularly follow developments in the financial markets already know we are witnessing the unfolding of events which are highly reminiscent of events preceding the great depression. Those readers who don't have these financial developments on their radar screens probably ought to take off their blinders and at least have a look.

The events transpiring during the last few days (and in the days immediately to come) will be viewed as "historic."

Will government officials, financial institutions and the FED have the wherewithal to deflate the financial bubble in a tolerable and orderly fashion; or is the U.S. economy ineluctably headed for doom?

Update 9/16/08 11:04 a.m. MT: More chirpy economic news:

Goldman Sachs net plunges 70 percent


Monday, September 15, 2008

Godfrey Lackey Police Chief Senator Sez Ogden City Crime is Down

More pro-Godfrey propaganda from the Godfrey House Propaganda Organ

Emerald City Crime is front page news in this morning's Standard-Examiner, with this moronic Sam Cooper story, blaring the headline, "Ogden's crime hits 10-year low." The Standard-Examiner presents a hokey table within this morning's article which compares (we think) crime stats during the first six months of 2007... with midyear figures for 2008.

It's impossible to compare Mr. Cooper's information, of course, with any of the other verifiable crime data from previous and similar six month periods. Crime stats are seldom provided over such short periods and are not publicly available. Six months' worth of so-called "crime data" are what competent statisticians would call a "small and statistically insignificant sample."

We already have earlier upside-down crime data from Mr. Cooper's earlier POS article.

Better analyzed crime stats are available from gentle reader monotreme's fine 2007 crime series, as well.

We already know the so-called "brick and mortar" stalwart Greiner will lie for Godfrey... any time The Boss demands. His pension is on the line, after all.

The only thing we have extra for intelligent analysis beyond the vague statistics in today's Std-Ex article is Godfrey Lackey Chief Greiner's statement (taking into account eight months of unverifiable purported data,) appears to be this:

OGDEN — With hard work and the help of technology, crime rates in Ogden have hit a 10-year low, the city’s police chief says.
“The gross number of part one crimes for the first eight months of this year is at the lowest point it’s been in more than 10 years,” said Chief Jon Greiner.
Of course the last month (August) of Greiner's data fails even to show up in today's Std-Ex's graphic table.

So we guess we're going to have take the Std-Ex's word for this on the crime data. Boss Godfrey is a crime fighter, LOL, according to today's Std-Ex.

And speaking of Greiner's high tech computer technology, consider this...

What's next for Ogden... This? (we can always have hope.)

So what say out gentle readers about all this?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Boss Godfrey Lays Another Egg

More behind the scenes maneuvering by our devious little mayor

By George K.

Here's another big egg laid by the Godfrey administration! More behind the scenes maneuvering by our devious little lying mayor! A couple of weeks ago, a council member asked the council staff about an unheard of campground being built on the south side of Park Blvd. near the stadium. Mr. Cook reported that he had been unable to find anything about it and suggested Mr. Patterson be asked if he knew anything about it. He did! Surprise! Surprise! It will be a campground for kayakers, bicyclists and other sport enthusiasts. When asked how it was being paid for, the council was told that it wouldn’t cost much and was being done “in-house.” When asked if it shouldn’t have been placed on the capital improvement improvement plan, the reply was, “Oh No. It won‘t cost very much.” Chair Wicks asked who would use it and was told “kayakers, hikers and sport enthusisasts hopefully. We don’t want any transients.”

Then Scott Schwebke lets the cat out of the bag in this morning's Standard-Examiner article, "New campground taking shape in downtown Ogden.” No wonder there haven’t been any fees decided upon – it’s never been discussed because it’s never been presented to the council!

Is this a foreshadow of what we can expect in the future of how Godfrey will get other projects done? Does anyone know if this kind of devious, underhanded way of doing city business borders on mismanagement and/or malfeasance?

Timbe-e-e-e-r! Wall Street is in Crisis Over Fears that Lehman Brothers Crash Will Trigger More Chaos

World financial markets hold their breath as another giant U.S. investment bank teeters on the brink of collapse

From this morning's Times Online story:

This weekend, Lehman’s head is on the block as meetings over its future continue. Will Paulson go to Washington on Tuesday having successfully whipped the banking industry into resolving this crisis? Will he have blinked and put government money in after all? Or will Lehman have simply collapsed, with untold knock-on effects to the banking system? Paulson has been so active on Wall Street recently that “Breakfast at Hank’s” has become bankers’ shorthand for a crisis meeting. In Lehman Brothers, he has a problem that cannot easily be resolved over muffins and coffee.
More choice commentary from one of Weber County Forum's favorite economic commentators, Professor Roubini:

Nouriel Roubini, professor of economics at the Stern School of Business and chairman of RGE Monitor, said Washington’s previously “fanatically laissez faire” attitude had precipitated this crisis and forced regulators to perform a humiliating about face to become “the United Socialist State Republic of America.” But this was “socialism for the rich” where profits were privatised but debts were picked up by the taxpayer.
Roubini said lax regulation had led to the current problems and now that the government’s coffers had been opened, officials will have a hard time closing them.
“Many of the companies not in financial services are going to say the banks are being bailed out, why shouldn’t we?” he said. The car industry is already looking for $50 billion in subsidies. The troubled airline industry may be next.
Paulson has talked of the “moral hazard” of government bailouts – a situation where companies act carelessly because they know the government will pick up the pieces. It’s a debate Roubini said American regulators should have been having years ago during the excesses of the boom years.
“In principle Lehman should be allowed to go,” said Roubini. “But if that happens the next day there will be a run on Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs. Let’s not pretend that’s not going to happen. The systemic risk is worse now than it was with Bear Stearns. It’s pretty pathetic really. They are running out of ideas.”
Just a little more chirpy economic news for this otherwise dazzling Emerald City Sunday morning.

Have a nice day, everyone.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Utah 58; Utah State 10... WSU 44; Dixie State 7

Basketball sized scores registered all over northern Utah

From the SLTrib:
LOGAN - The Utah Utes scored twice in the third quarter and twice more in the fourth as they methodically improved to 3-0.
Touchdowns by Matt Asiata and Colt Sampson provided Utah with a 44-10 lead over Utah State at Romney Stadium in the third quarter. The Utes were dominant offensively and defensively, with special teams being the only true hiccup. The Aggies scored a field goal, with an interception by linebacker Paul Igboeli being the key play.
This score is pretty amazing, inasmuch as the Utes played as ineptly as they've played this season. Chalk up tonight's victory to the Utes' amazing athleticism... and to the Aggies' painfully poor offense.

Fortunately for the Utes, they were playng the Aggies, and not the Cougars, who thrashed UCLA this afternoon 59-0.

More good news for northern Utah football fans:

Final score: Weber State 44; Dixie State 7.

Let's talk football folks. Is your blogmeister the only one who felt like the University of Utah played like crap tonight? Is there anyone in town (other than a handfull of Gondolist dorks) who isn't brimming with pride that WSU kicked butt at tonight's homecoming game? Is the BYU team headed for a national championship... or was today's drubbing of UCLA just a fluke?

© 2005 - 2014 Weber County Forum™ -- All Rights Reserved