Saturday, November 29, 2008

Helicopters Flying in Malan's Basin

Is the missing-in-action Chris Peterson climbing back into the public spotlight?

Our gentle readers are subtly telling us there's something really odd going on in Malan's Basin.

Gentle reader"'Disgusted" provides this:
To Dan S:
Off topic for a second.
A lot of helicopter activity up on the mountain this last week. Maybe its work being done on the communication towers at Mt.Ogden or maybe there are more tree clearings going on in Malan Basin. Dont know.
Have you been up to Malans in a while?
Then we get this reply from Dan S.:
I just heard a report from an independent and very reliable source. Yes, there's been a crew clearing trees on the Malan's Basin property. From what I heard, they've cut a 30-foot-wide path that traverses from Malan's Basin into upper Strong's Canyon. I hope to learn more soon.
Okay people. Can someone tell us exactly what's up with all this?

Weber State University Game Day Thread

Two Std-Ex stories and the live game podcast
Update: Final score... Wildcats 49; Mustangs 35

Our glorious WSU football squad travels west to San Luis Obispo, California this evening, for its opening round FCS playoff faceoff with Cal Poly. We'll rely upon the Standard-Examiner's two morning edition sports page stories provide the set-up:
No 12 'Cats familiar with today's foe
Weber State finds itself in marquee first-round game
As we've done the previous three weeks, we'll provide a link to a live video podcast of the game in the space below, for the benefit of those fans who'd like to view it at home. Unlike the last three weeks, BigSkyTV won't be podcasting this event however, so we're alternately turning the the NCAA website, which will will feature playoff webcasts during the FCS series. The game begins at 7:00 p.m. Mountain Time. To view the live video podcast, click the link below, scroll down the "Live Events" menu on the left, and select Cal Poly v. Weber State:
Weber State at Cal Poly SLO - Live podcast
(This podcast requires the Microsoft Silverlight plug-in. If you don't already have it on your hard drive, click the blue banner popup which will automatically appear if you don't already have Silverlight onboard. It's a small file, which installs in just a few seconds.)

Enjoy the game, WSU fans. Get your juices flowing, WSU Fans; this game is bound to be very danged good, regardless of who wins.

As per usual, we'll come back later with the final score, and any post-game tidbits which might be available. We'd also be happy to entertain your comments during the game, of course.

Update 12/29/09 10:12 p.m. MT: Wildcats 49; Mustangs 35.

Update 12/30/08 11:00 a.m. MT: We'll wrap up this discussion by linking two post game stories from this morning's Std-Ex:
Moving on
Toone a hit in playoffs
Our compliments to the Std-Ex copy editor for the latter headline, a double entendre which we deem to be pretty danged clever.

Cowboy Christmas Benefit Show - 12.9.08

An evening of family entertainment in support of a good cause

We received the following email missive earlier this week from our friend Dirk Youngberg, retired career Ogden City Firefighter:
Our friends at the Red Cross forwarded this to me asking for support from the Firefighters. I have forwarded it to them and we will support them.
I was wondering if you could post this flier for a Cowboy Christmas benefit show at the Union Station on December 9th.
The benefit will also help the Northern Utah Red Cross.
It would be some inexpensive family Christmas entertainment.
We're of course happy to oblige. Promoting community events is one of the main missions of Weber County Forum, and the Northern Utah Red Cross is one of our favorite charitable organizations. Thus we're delighted to join with Dirk and the Ogden Firefighters in helping to promote this event. Here's the lowdown:

Event: Cowboy Christmas Benefit Show
Where: Ogden Union Station, 25th & Wall Avenue
When: December 9, 2008, 5:30 p.m.

Further information is available via this pfd flier:
Cowboy Christmas Benefit Show
The The Professional Firefighters of Ogden and The Ogden Firefighters Association hosted the fifth annual edition of this event last year; and it was a great success. We're hoping our readers will again plan to attend.

We'll add an additional reminder in the "Emerald City Events" module of our right sidebar.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Standard-Examiner: City Council, Landmarks Pledge to Work Closely Together

The Council and Landmarks Commission arrive at a kumbaya moment

The Standard-Examiner finally gets around to reporting this morning about the earlier-heralded City Council/Landmarks Commission pow-wow which occurred during a council work session last Tuesday night:
OGDEN — The city council and Ogden Landmarks Commission will work together more closely in the future to avoid controversies such as the one involving renovations at the historic Windsor Hotel.
The two groups attempted to iron out their differences over the Windsor, at 166 Historic 25th St., during a twohour work session Tuesday night.
The tone of the meeting was both conciliatory and confrontational.
But in the end, city council and Landmarks Commission members agreed the discussion was beneficial.
“It gives us a starting place (to keep the lines of communication open),” City Council Chairwoman Amy Wicks said.
Mr. Schwebke goes on to provide us a glimpse into the confrontational part:
Judy Lohmueller, vice chairwoman of the Landmarks Commission, said during the work session the city council should have contacted the commission if it had a problem with the ordinance amendment. [...]
Seems to us that the council had already "contacted the commission" with its objections, (in a formal manner,) by rejecting the recommendation to broadly increase Historic 25th Street District height limits. If there are those on the commission who still believed that Ogden Properties' nonconforming plans were in the best interest of Ogden... and the 25th Street District a a whole, why didn't they just go back to the drawing board and come back to the council with a narrowly drafted "variance" ordinance, applicable to the Windsor structure alone? Hmmmmm? easier to raise a stink, and bitch to the press, we guess.

There's even more reported griping from Lohmueller:
Lohmueller also said she resents untrue statements from some city council members made during public meetings that Landmarks Commission members are susceptible to political influence from Ogden’s administration.
“It’s embarrassing to Landmarks,” she said. “It’s tarnished our reputation.”
So long as the the Landmarks Commission continues to be populated with the likes of Sue "G-Train" Wilkerson, and Boss Godfrey's Uncle Bernie, the Landmarks Commission will continue to suffer similar embarrassment, we suspect.

We'll also note a slight improvement in the accuracy of Mr. Schwebke's reporting of the circumstances leading to the council's rejection of the Landmark Commission's recommended broad zoning ordinance revision:

In Tuesday's article Mr. Schwebke provided this:
Ogden Properties has abandoned its plans to renovate the hotel because the city council has refused to amend a height restriction ordinance to enable the addition of a fourth-floor penthouse.
Here's the pertinent text from this morning's Scott Schwebke story:
The Landmarks Commission requested the work session to voice frustration surrounding a city council decision in September to reject an ordinance amendment that would have allowed exemptions to a 45-foot height restriction for Historic 25th Street buildings.
The amendment would have allowed the Ogden Planning Commission to grant a height variance once the Landmarks Commission had reviewed and approved building plans. [...]
Several council members have expressed concern that waiving building-height restrictions and adding another floor at the Windsor would jeopardize 25th Street’s National Historic Registry designation and eligibility for federal funding.
Still a mite fuzzy, we think; but an improvement nevertheless.

And for those readers who aren't completely burned out on the Windsor Hotel discussion, the floor remains as open as ever.

News Flash! Attorney Files Motions!

Surely this must presage the end of Western Civilization and our system of jurisprudence

By Monotreme

Yes, thanks to the intrepid reporting of the Standard-Examiner, we now know that local attorney Michael Studebaker is at it again -- filing motions. And they're actually motions on behalf of his client!

"It's Ogden attorney Michael Studebaker's sixth federal lawsuit filed against the local criminal justice establishment in a little over a year," Tim Gurrister tells us, in the second graf. Yes, it's that important.

An attorney is vigorously defending his client using right and proper legal tools available to him. Surely this presages the end of Western Civilization and our system of jurisprudence.

This is clearly the most important thing going on in Ogden right now, unless you count a three-day-old report on a City Council work session with the Landmarks Commission, buried below the fold on the same inside page

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Big Bailouts, Bigger Bucks

The credit crisis bailout: the single most costly outlay in American history?

Eye-popping data and analysis from Barry Ritholtz, of The Big Picture Blog:
Whenever I discussed the current bailout situation with people, I find they have a hard time comprehending the actual numbers involved. That became a problem while doing the research for the Bailout Nation book. I needed some way to put this into proper historical perspective.
If we add in the Citi bailout, the total cost now exceeds $4.6165 trillion dollars. People have a hard time conceptualizing very large numbers, so let’s give this some context. The current Credit Crisis bailout is now the largest outlay In American history.
Jim Bianco of Bianco Research crunched the inflation adjusted numbers. The bailout has cost more than all of these big budget government expenditures – combined:

Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion
Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion
Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion
S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion
The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)
Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion
Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion
NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion

TOTAL: $3.92 trillion
For some even more dazzling comparison and analysis, be sure to read Ritholtz's full article here.

We hope this startling information doesn't spoil our gentle readers' appetites, as they get ready for today's Thanksgiving holiday feasts. Be sure to have an extra helping or two of gravy today. It seems everyone in the financial sector is already doing that. Gluttony indeed seems to be highly fashionable this holiday season.

Update 11/27/08 8:45 a.m. MT: In an article update a few minutes ago, Mr. Ritholtz makes note that his above $4.6165 trillion dollar figure might be a mite on the low side:
Bloomberg calculates the total amount the taxpayer is on the hook for is $7.76 trillion, or $24,000 for every man woman and child in the country. (Data breakdown is here)
Our thanks this Thanksgiving Day to Mr.
Ritholtz, for compiling and sharing this sobering information.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday Morning Emerald City News Roundup 11.26.08

Putting the heat on the gangstas, and emulating Riverdale Road south of 12th and Wall

We'll make brief note of two items in the news today, relevant to Emerald City issues:

1) The Standard-Examiner's Kris Shawkley reports that "Ogden Police Chief and State Senator Jon Greiner will again present a controversial gang bill" that died in the Senate upon adjournment of the 2008 legislative session.

The bill, which is actually a souped up loitering statute, faced opposition last year from the ACLU and other civil libertarians, this morning's article reports. The chief objections of the bill's opponents revolve around potential racial profiling issues and the relatively subjective standards which would permit police authorities to categorize individuals as gang members.

From the tone of the article, Std-Ex readers might be tempted to conclude that the re-introduced bill might face an uphill fight this year. Looking back at the bill's status last year however, we're going to go on record and predict that the bill will clear both the Senate and House this year in quick legislative Jon Greiner slam dunks. The bill breezed through the Senate last year by a 16-10 votes, and merely got stalled in the usual end-of-session logjam.

Contrary reader views are welcome of course.

2) The Std-Ex reports this morning that the Ogden City Council has, despite the looming recession, once again taken the Godfrey bait, reallocating $1 million in capital improvement funds to that shopping center project at 12th and Wall Avenue. The section of roadway adjacent to this new shopping center will "spur commercial development on other neighboring parcels south along Wall Avenue to 17th Street, and west from 12th Street to Gibson Avenue," according to city deputy director of community and economic development Richard McConkie. It will become Ogden's answer to Riverdale Road, McConkie confidently predicts.

Needless to say, we're brimming with joy over this. We don't have half enough bumper to bumper traffic in Ogden already.

And about the cool 1 mil that the council has dedicated to soil contamination cleanup: The City will "seek" reimbursement, business development manager Tom Christopulos says. We're not quite sure what Mr. Christopulos means by this. Ace Reporter Schwebke apparently didn't have the curiosity necessary to ask the obvious followup question. Hopefully though, Ogden City will work out a binding contractual arrangement with the landowner and the developer, PRIOR to spending all that taxpayer dough.

Well? The blogosphere eagerly awaits our readers' ever-savvy comments.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Slashdot: McDonalds Files To Patent Making a Sandwich!

Don't make a sandwich until you've carefully examined the flow chart

We've filed this story under a new category, "web oddities." This one is too good to miss. We swear we're not making this up:

McDonalds Files To Patent Making a Sandwich

Another giant leap toward a full employment economy for lawyers and their creepy ilk.

The Windsor Hotel Again Arrives on the Discussion Front Burner

Your Weber County Forum blogmeister indulges in a little cathartic nit-picking

Ace Reporter Schwebke again brings up the subject of the Windsor Hotel this morning, with another Std-Ex Business Section story discussing the present dilemma. This morning's story however actually adds little to what has been earlier reported, which is essentially this:

1) Ogden Properties, the developer, still fails and refuses to perform its contractual obligations and complete the project according to the terms agreed in the original Development and Grant Agreements;
2) Now that the structure has been stripped to the brick and effectively gutted, the 25th Street Historic District is stuck with a commercially unusable building smack dab in the center of the district;
3) The developer has proposed demolishing the building as a "plan B" option;
4) Ready, willing and able "backup" buyers aren't exactly flying out of the woodwork.

Without going into a tedious rehash of the series of blunders that led to the current city/developer stalemate, we'll nevertheless tangentially nit-pick a little bit. First we'll take a couple of potshots at the accuracy of Mr. Schwebke's reporting:

1) Once again, Mr. Schwebke continues to mischaracterise the circumstances which led to the council's rejection of Boss Godfrey's proposed Historic 25th Street District zoning ordinance. Here are Schwebke's words from this morning's Std-Ex story:
Ogden Properties has abandoned its plans to renovate the hotel because the city council has refused to amend a height restriction ordinance to enable the addition of a fourth-floor penthouse.
As everyone who has even been casually following this story knows, the council's chief objection to the proposed ordinance amendment was its overbreadth. Rather than drafting a narrow ordinance aimed at creating a zoning variance affecting the single Windsor Hotel project only, Godfrey instead overreached, and stubbornly sought an increase in building height limits which would have affected the entire Historic 25th Street Historic District. Hopefully Mr. Schwebke will write this down so he doesn't repeat this aggravating mistake.

2) Again referring to Mr. Schwebke's morning text, we find this technical inaccuracy:
The company [Ogden Properties] has asked the city, which provided $288,000 in incentives last year to assist with renovation costs, to buy the hotel back.
If Ogden City were to buy the property from Ogden Properties, it wouldn't actually be"buying it back." According to our recollection, Ogden Properties and the original owner, Ruben Villalobos, were the buyers and sellers in the sale transaction; and Ogden City wasn't a party to that transaction at all. Neither Ogden City nor the Ogden RDA ever held title to the property either, so far as we know. If Ogden City were to be dumb enough to buy this property, it would be merely taking it off Ogden Properties' hands; that's all.

3) Lastly we'll snarkily comment that the current predicament provides even more evidence supporting the conservative proposition that city governments, especially those governed by the likes of Boss Godfrey, shouldn't meddle in what ought to be entirely private real estate transactions. For that we'll refer back to one of of our earlier WCF articles, published around the time of the Windsor sale transaction, from which we extract this text:
Notably, the new owners are reportedly a little foggy about the prospective use of their newly-acquired downtown property. They'll hopefully know more, once they've consulted with their architect and engineers.
Oddly, they're opting to turn a rent-generating property into a vacant one. That's their prerogative as property owners though, we guess.
Still we wonder if it might not have made more economic sense for these young and eager new property owners to have formulated their plans BEFORE they kicked out their paying tenants. [...]
As for the outgoing former property owner Villalobos, we suppose it was easier to just cut and run, with Boss Godfrey and his henchmen breathing down his neck.
As our readers will recall, the Windsor's previous owner, Mr. Vallalobos, already had his own plans for refurbishment of his Windsor Hotel property; but his 6-month projected timeframe wasn't good enough for Boss Godfrey. Instead of waiting for Villalobos to put together his own plans and financing for a Windsor remodeling, Godfrey issued an ultimatum, and forced Villalobos out:
Ruben Villalobos, the previous owner of the hotel, said the sale closed June 4, but declined to share the purchase price. According to Weber County property records, the hotel and the 0.12 acres it sits on are valued at $286,319.
Villalobos said he wanted to convert the building into an upscale dwelling when he originally bought it in 2004, but it wasn’t feasible at that time because there were many unsold residential units at the Union Square development on the other side of the street.
The Union Square units are all sold now, he said, and property values in the area have gone up. He said he is disappointed he couldn’t fix it himself.
“The city gave me an ultimatum, either sell it or clean it up,” Villalobos said. “I wanted to renovate it myself, but I guess the city wanted to get it done right away.”
He said he was about six months away from securing the necessary funding to clean and fix up the building.
“My plans were to keep it historical and make a bed & breakfast-type place,” Villalobos said.
Using our 20/20 hindsight, we can't but help speculate how much better Ogden City's situation would have been at this point, if Boss Godfrey had just kept his grubby mitts off the Windsor Hotel.

Nice work, Boss Godfrey! It's another fine mess you've gotten us into.

Comments, anyone?

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Fed Is Out of Ammunition

The Wall Street Journal predicts a return to the gold standard

Startling op-ed editorial from the Wall Street Journal... not exactly a journalistic haven for "gold bug" crackpots. Seeing is believing, however:
...[T]he present crisis in the West will ultimately end up discrediting mechanical monetarism -- and with it the fiat paper-money system in general -- as the U.S. paper-dollar standard, in place since Richard Nixon broke the link with gold in 1971, finally disintegrates.
The catalyst will be foreign creditors fleeing the dollar for gold. That will in turn lead to global recognition of the need for a vastly more disciplined global financial system and one where gold, the "barbarous relic" scorned by most modern central bankers, may well play a part.
Read the full article here:

The Fed Is Out of Ammunition

Got your gold yet?

US Officials Flunk Test of American History, Economics, Civics

Compare your own test scores with those of your clueless elected public officials

Do you think your elected officials are clueless? Last Thursday's Yahoo News provides some disturbing evidence of that:
WASHINGTON (AFP) – US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday.
Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).
"It is disturbing enough that the general public failed ISI's civic literacy test, but when you consider the even more dismal scores of elected officials, you have to be concerned," said Josiah Bunting, chairman of the National Civic Literacy Board at ISI.
"How can political leaders make informed decisions if they don't understand the American experience?" he added.
Read the full story here:
US officials flunk test of American history, economics, civics
Do you believe you're smarter than your average congress-critter?

Take the ISI Civics Literacy Test here to find out.

Don't forget to report back with your results.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Utes 48; Cougars 24

Utah clinches sole ownership of the MWC title, and delivers to BYU a stinging and long overdue gridiron whupping

Devoted BYU fans' BCS-spoiler prayers went unanswered yesterday afternoon, as our beloved Utah Utes delivered a crushing 48-24 whupping to a bumbling Cougars squad, to the great delight of a virtual sea of screaming and cheering Rice-Eccles Stadium crimson-clad fans . We present three morning stories of note, dutifully googled-up from Northern Utah print media sources:
Utes fans chant BCS, BCS
BCS bound: Utes run away with the game after BYU gives up crucial 3rd-quarter fumble
Monson: Utes imperfect win gives them a BCS bowl return
Once again the Utes were firing on all cylinders, dominating the hapless BYU team from the initial kickoff, and delivering the Cougars a well-deserved and long overdue comeuppance. To our amusement, by the way, BYU workhorse quarterback Max Hall threw FIVE PICKS. He might as well have suited up in the crimson and white yesterday, we think.

Reader comments are invited, of course. And yes... Ute fan gloating gloating is allowed.

Update 11/24/08 7:46 a.m. MT: Whoa... The Utes come out #6 in the BCS standings this week. Not bad. Take that, Zoobs.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Weber State University Game Day Thread

Lots at stake today for the Weber State Wildcats

As everybody knows, there's a big game this afternoon, and we're not talking about the heavily hyped Utah-BYU shootout. Weber State University faces Eastern Washington at noon today; and there's much on the line for WSU, including a possible perfect season, sole possession of the Big Sky Conference Championship, an FCS playoff series berth, and various individual team records. For those of our readers who aren't yet jazzed up about this afternoon's game, this morning's Standard-Examiner provides three good writeups to help you get your minds right:
Home perfection on line for the "Cats
Weber State-EWU game notes
Weber State review: Eteuati reinstated now
As we've done the previous two weeks, we'll provide a link to a live video podcast of the game in the space below, for the benefit of those fans who can't get to the stadium. In adding this podcast feature, we'll say we have mixed feelings about doing this at all. As most WSU fans know, home field advantage in the playoffs is dependant in part on regular season home game attendance. We'd therefore like to see as many Stewart Stadium seats as possible filled with WSU fan fannies this afternoon. If however, you absolutely, positively and unequivocally can't get to the WSU campus for this afternoon's game... you know, if you're laid up at home with a broken leg or something like that.. this live video feed may be just the thing for you. We'll update the link once it's activated by the BigSkyTV podcaster, probably a few minutes before the 12:00 p.m.kickoff.

Eastern Washington at Weber State - Live podcast

Sadly, this site is best viewed with Internet Explorer. Our WCF default Firefox won't even allow us to scroll up and down.

We'll add a post game update later.

Update 11/23/08 8:45 a.m. MT: Ooops... Despite the hoopla (or perhaps because of it)... the 'Cats fall to the Eagles by a 33-26 final score. The Standard-Examiner provides a couple of good post game writeups this morning:
"So close" haunts 'Cats in big game
Our readers are invited to make use of our comments section to offer their own post-game, post mortem analyses.

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.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Final, Final Weber County Official Election Results

Election 2008 "candidate predictor awards" begin to trickle in

For those Weber County readers who've been sitting on the edges of their seats, chomping their fingernails, and waiting in painful suspense, we're delighted to find that Weber County Clerk Alan McEwan has within the last day finally posted the final and official Weber County 2008 General Election vote tallies on the Weber County Government website. Here's the link:

Weber County Official Results

The release of this information of course compels us to follow out own homework assignment, and to crunch the numbers and determine which of the seven Weber County Forum readers who participated in our 2008 Election Prediction Contest enjoy bragging rights as WCF's best election candidate picker(s). Here are the results so far;

Grand Prize Winner: Gentle reader Monotreme. Yes, the Grand Prize goes to a humble neuroscientist and regular poster and contributor, who claims an affinity with strange mammals who lay eggs. No eggs were laid however in this instance. Gentle Monotreme took a scientific approach and broadly predicted that Utah Republican candidates in Weber County wouldn't be much threatened by Democratic candidates riding in on Barack Obama's locally-suspect "long coattails." He cannily picked a typical Utah 60/40 Republican/Democrat split, thus calling winners in all Utah races, mercifully sparing us the gruelling effort of calculating percentage tie-breakers.

Best predictor in the House Leg 10 race: Our friend, South Ogden blogger BenJoe, wins this category hands down. In a pdf file sent in a private email prior to the closing of our little contest, BenJoe dang near hit the nail right on the head, with his prediction that GOP political newcomer Brent Willis would win his race against Boss Godfrey's father-in law, Edgar "Addled Ed" Allen, with 51% of the vote. As it turns out in the official results, BenJoe was off by a mere .12 percent.

We await the comments of Ogden's Gondolists and Godfreyites to tell us how "bummed out" they are about this. Except for the re-election of Boss Godfrey's friggin cousin, Godfrey surrogates sucked hind tit this year. Hopefully we'll hear from the Geigers, or The G-Train, who was stupid enough to host GOP House Leg. 9 candidate Jeremy Peterson's campaign from her Godfreyite real estate office, which even today displays Lift Ogden Gondola lawn signs in several street-facing windows.

The State Electons office hasn't yet released final results on the Utah Elections website. We'll get back with the cumulative awards for statewide election races once they catch up.

We fully intend to give other Weber County Forum readers who entered the contest FULL BRAGGING RIGHTS, once this information is released.

The Crowning Glory to Eight Years of Hard Work

The Ogden Canyon Lime Kiln - another piece of Ogden history lovingly restored
This is how Ogden really started. In order to build these wonderful communities, you need brick and mortar, and that's what this provided through this lime kiln.

Susan Van Hooser
Weber County Heritage Foundation
Piece of History Rededicated
November 20, 2008

Sometimes you do something just because you can.

Nick Breeze
Ogden Canyon Club
Fire Down Below
November 20, 2008

On the heels of his Standard-Examiner story on Monday, Charlie Trentelman reports this morning that the restoration of the 1860's era Ogden Canyon Lime Kiln is now complete, even unto the lighting of a fire in the giant stone beast's belly.

The KSL News online site has some good video footage of yesterday's ceremonial rededication event. Emerald City historic preservation buffs should definitely check it out.

A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to all entities and individuals who contributed to the eight year effort to put yet another piece of Ogden City history back in the limelight.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Utah Editorial Showdown - Duelling Editorials

The Salt Lake Tribune's Glen Warchol reveals a few fundamental Utah truths

Fascinating point-counterpoint argument juxtapostion from Salt Lake Tribune blogger Glen Warchol today.

We'd already planned to post an article later this afternoon re today's Std-Ex lead editorial, but Glen beat us to the punch, comparing Doug Gibson's latest genius post, and also referring tangentially to the kinda mundane neoCON crap that appears in Utah County's home town newspaper. Glen Warchol outpaced us by at least a mile this morning, we confess. This is one well written article that all WCF readers should check out:

Best of times . . . or worst

Reader comments are invited, as always... and a h/t to Glen Warchol... AND to our new Std-Ex editorial page editor, Doug Gibson.

Big Council/Commission Pow-wow Calendered for Next Week

A chance to smooth over ruffled feathers, and formulate some "guiding principles"

Ace Reporter Schwebke revives the Windsor Hotel saga again this morning, with this morning's Standard-Examiner story, reporting that the Emerald City Council and its advisory Landmarks Commission will sit down next week for a serious pow-wow. Mr. Schwebke's lead paragraphs provide the gist:
OGDEN -- The Ogden Landmarks Commission will meet Tuesday with the city council to ease hard feelings between the two organizations stemming from a controversial decision that halted renovations at the historic Windsor Hotel.
The Landmarks Commission requested the meeting to smooth its rocky relationship with the council.
"Recent events reflect a need for improvement in communication. (The) goal of all committees and council should work toward mitigating the divisiveness that is ultimately detrimental to the community," says an agenda for the meeting.
City Councilman Brandon Stephenson said the meeting with the Landmarks Commission may be beneficial.
"I hope we can understand one another's position a little better," he said Wednesday. "I think the council needs to come to a place where we can collectively determine the guiding principles and policies related to historical areas of the city. The Landmarks Commission can help us come to a guiding philosophy.
We think clarifying "guiding philosophy" is a danged good idea. Educating certain Landmark Commission members about the committee's true role in the Ogden historic preservation arena is a process that's long overdue, we believe. We congratulate city council leadership for opening the door for face-to-face discussion with Commission Chair Sue "G-Train" Wilkerson and the rest of the Ogden City Landmarks Commission.

While it ought to be clear at this point that the City Council, (the policy making body for Ogden City,) has adopted a cautious and conservative approach to development within our city's Historic 25th Street District, this lesson apparently hasn't yet sunk in with at least some commission members, whose recent recommendation to lift building height restrictions throughout entire 25th Street District smacked of that reckless, full-tilt pro-development, California carpetbagger attitude that's become so prevalent in our town, with the advent of Wilkerson, and a few other of her other real estate development cronies.

As an aside, we also have our doubts about the ethical propriety of Ms. Wilkerson's service on the commission at all. As an outspoken advocate of unbridled development, she could not conceivably find herself in a role with greater conflict of interest.

Further down the article, Mr. Schwebke lapses into a rehash of the Ogden Properties debacle, wherein Ogden Properties agreed over a year ago to rehabilitate the Windsor Hotel structure, according to terms requiring compliance with existing zoning ordinances. In the course of that process, this developer accepted a very generous $288,000 cash grant, and then spent the next year gutting the building, stripping interior walls down to the brick, removing electrical wiring, and essentially leaving the Windsor a commercially useless hulk.

And now, these same developers have the audacity to accuse the council of political misconduct, in their refusal to approve a wholesale modification of the rules pertaining to not only the Windsor Hotel property, but the entire Historic 25th Street District. And adding insult to injury, the developer puts the arm on Ogden City to purchase this now derelict property at a price which would, on paper, generate for Ogden Properties a nice fat 300% profit.

And while we're on the subject of Ogden Properties, here's the approach we would advocate if the Windsor dispute ever winds up in court: Ogden City should simply sue for breach of contract, and seek the remedy of restitution. Inasmuch as Ogden Properties stands in anticipatory breach of the underlying Development and Grant Agreements, and even now refuses to perform its contractual obligations as earlier promised, Ogden City should be entitled get the grant money back.

Let Ogden Properties keep the Windsor property, and hopefully make something useful of it. Neither the City nor the RDA Board has any legal obligation to purchase the property.

The floor is open for reader comments.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday Morning News Roundup 11.19.08

Slow news day special

1) The Standard-Examiner puts the spotlight on the Utah jobs market, with two stories predicting job losses for the year 2009:
It's been a persistent meme around these parts that Utah is special... that we're somehow immune to the recessionary forces which now cripple our national economy. The above data, together with similar information available elsewhere on the web, indicate that no amount of wishful thinking will spare Utahns from sharing at least some of the economic pain that's now being experienced across the U.S. economy.

Buckle up, folks. We're in for some difficult times... even here in the blessed Land of Zion.

2) The Std-Ex announces this morning that the city council has hired a California firm to perform an audit of Ogden's code enforcement management operation. Hopefully the $46 thousand in fees approved by the council will be sufficient to permit a thorough examination of various perceived code enforcement inequities, with an emphasis on some apparent enforcement preferences extended to "special" Friends of Matt.

3) Despite the ongoing bad economic news, it appears Utah is nevertheless poised to enter the 21st century, in at least one respect: to "legalize adulthood," and to bring our state's quaint liquor laws slightly more into alignment with the rest of the country. This from the Deseret Morning News:
We'd classify this as a "no brainer" for any state that's highly dependant upon the tourism industry.

4) With the Utah/BYU faceoff coming up one Saturday afternoon, the Std-Ex adds to the pregame hype, and shines the spotlight on two rival Top of Utah football players here and here. As the excitement builds for Saturday's Blockbuster Game, here's something that we found interesting:
We'll be enjoying the game at an Ogden Ute Alum tailgate party. We decided not to mortgage the house for a game ticket.

We apologize to our readers for the late posting of this morning's article. Seems our big-name broadband IP provider experienced some bugs and hiccups in the system this morning.

Update 11/19/08 2:05 a.m. MT: Ooooops! somewhere along the line while our big time IP server had a case of "the burps" all morning, we inadvertantly forgot to post this awesome Std-Ex tribute to your blogmeister's old pal, "Ogden home boy," Jeff Lowe. Let's just say Jeff's now in good company with another legendary Ogden "Hall of Famer."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Emerald City News Roundup 11.18.08

A downtown property transaction and a 2008 election cliff hanger

We find two news items of particular interest in this morning's Standard-Examiner:

1) The Boyer Building, which Curmudgeon discussed here on Sunday morning, is right back in the news again today. Ace Reporter Schwebke reports this morning that The Boyer Company has lined up a prospective California buyer, and is hoping to get the RDA Board's cooperation in closing out these entities's mutual property interests in this money losing downtown albatross. Mr. Schwebke's lead paragraphs provide the gist:
OGDEN — The city’s administration plans to ask the Ogden Redevelopment Agency to support the sale of a 66,000-square-foot downtown office building owned by The Boyer Company.
The RDA board, made up of the city council, may vote on a resolution in the next few weeks enabling RLA Real Estate, based in Irvine, Calif., to purchase the building at the corner of 24th Street and Washington Boulevard within The Junction development.
The RDA board would have to approve the transaction because the city owns the land where the building is situated, which also could be sold to RLA, said Richard McConkie, deputy director of Ogden’s community and economic development department. The RDA provided the land and The Boyer Company funded the cost of constructing and operating the building, which opened in 2007.
A sale price for the building and land to RLA hasn’t been determined, said Tom Christopulos, the city’s business development manager. The land alone is valued at $213,500, according to records on file with the Weber County Assessor’s Office.
If there is indeed a ready, willing and able buyer waiting in the wings, this prospective transaction will relieve the Boyer Company of its current operational expenses, put the property fully onto the Weber County tax rolls, and add a few dollars back into the RDA's bank account. It looks to be a win-win for all the stakeholders indeed, assuming the deal goes forward.

Go for it, we say. The devil's in the details, of course.

2) Std-Ex reporter Di Lewis reports that two weeks post election, the Weber County Clerk's office is still counting a truckload of provisional and absentee ballots, something like 4,000 of them, to be exact.

We did a lot of cheering and celebrating on election night, and in the days thereafter, especially with respect to the unofficial results in House Legislative Districts 9 and 10. In the course of the post election discussion however, we heard cautionary admonitions here and here.

Lets all cross our fingers and hope we didn't count our chickens before they were hatched. We all remember what happened the last time Weber County Clerk Alan McEwan's office completed its final election canvass.

Take it away, O Gentle Ones.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Emerald City Morning News Roundup 11.17.08

Not exactly "red meat," but still at least slightly nutritious

Three Weber County Forum topical articles in this morning's Standard-Examiner. We'll highlight them one-by-one:

1) The Editorial Board carries a fine lead editorial this morning, noting the accession of five "Top of Utah" state legislators to leadership positions in the State House and Senate. Indeed, legislative power has perceptibly shifted toward the north of the state, at least for the upcoming legislative session. The Std-Ex quickly cuts to the chase, and reels off new Utah House Speaker Dave Clark's laundry list of proposed ethics reform measures, all of which have been vigorously advocated at various times on Weber County Forum. The Std-Ex editors then close with this ominous paragraph:
Mere good intentions are not enough. It will take strong leadership and effective whips (do you hear us Dee, Jenkins and Bell?) to get the right ethics reform bill passed in 2009.
Looks like the Std-Ex means business. We hope for their own sake Mssrs. Dee, Jenkins and Bell are listening up. Local politicians definitely don't want to get on the wrong side of the Standard-Examiner. If you don't believe us, ask poor 'ole Bill Glasmann, and the rest of the 2006 city council.

2) In this morning's Std-Ex Op-ed piece (originally published in the Washington Post,) GOP strategists Christine Todd Whitman and Robert M. Bostock offer some good advice to Republicans who are feeling glum about their party's thrashing in the 2008 national election. And they offer one simple solution to the GOP's current malaise: "Free the GOP (from the 'Social Fundamentalists)"

Looks like sound advice from the point of view this GOP warhorse. We recognise some readers may have other views, however.

3) Last but not least, Emerald City will be investing in Green Garbage Trucks, if all goes well with the city council. Once in a while, even Big Spending Boss Godfrey tries to save a dime or two, we guess. And realistically speaking, the more he can save on little things like gasoline, the more he'll have to fritter away on his grand projects and schemes!

That's it from our hometown newspaper today. Not exactly red meat, but still at least slightly nutritious.

Our readers have been strangely quiet over the past several days. Hopefully these articles will help to stir the pot.

Goldman CEO, 6 others forgo 2008 bonuses

Lean 2008 compensation for the top seven GS execs

From Yahoo News, we uncover a true man bites dog story this morning, from which we incorporate these encouraging opening 'graphs:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS - News) said on Sunday its Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and six other top officials will not get bonuses for 2008.
Blankfein, Presidents and Co-Chief Operating Officers Jon Winkelried and Gary Cohn, Chief Financial Officer David Viniar, and three vice chairmen -- J. Michael Evans, Michael Sherwood and John Weinberg -- asked the board's compensation committee Sunday morning that they not receive a bonus, spokesman Lucas van Praag said.
The compensation committee met and agreed, Praag said.
The executives will only be eligible for a base salary of $600,000 each, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Last year, Blankfein made $68.5 million, Winkelried and Cohn got $67.5 million, and Viniar got $57.5 million. The compensation of the other three was not disclosed.
With Goldman's profit dropping 70% in the last quarter alone, and its share price going into free-fall over the past year, this reported gesture of corporate contrition and prudence on the part of GS management might seem to the casual reader a "no brainer." It appears however that other factors may be involved. More from this morning's story:
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said Goldman had taken "an important step in the right direction.
"Last month, Cuomo warned Goldman and eight other banks getting U.S. government money in the first round of capital injections under the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program that using the funds for bonuses might break state law.
"This gesture by Goldman Sachs is appropriate and prudent and hopefully will help bring Wall Street to its senses," Cuomo said in a statement on Sunday. "We strongly encourage other banks to follow Goldman Sachs' step."
What a shame it would be for these titans of the banking industry to land in the slam... we can't have that!

Thankfully, GS management will have hundreds of millions from previous years' bonuses to tide them over.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Retort to This Morning's Standard Examiner Editorial

Our home town newspaper's chirpy optimism spills over into babbitry and boosterism

By Curmudgeon

The Sunday Standard Examiner's lead editorial this morning lauds Ogden's "upbeat local economy." It speaks of new businesses spawned and fledged at the Business Depot Ogden now moving out to expanded quarters and business. It speaks of other Top of Utah businesses doing well... ATK, Alliant Technologies, etc... and it even pats itself on the back for being one of the few dailies in its size category not downsizing and losing circulation.

And then this:
The Economist, a respected British magazine, recently did an article on why Utah's economy is soaring above its neighbors in the West.... The article also cites local and state leadership as a plus, singling out Gov. Jon Huntsman and Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey for their corporate recruiting skills. "Ogden, until recently a decaying railway town north of Salt Lake City, has quietly become the world centre of winter sports equipment," the article states. "Mike Dowse, who oversees brands such as Atomic and Salomon for Amer Sports, gives three reasons: 'the mountains, the mayor and the money.'" While we understand recent developments, including the announcement of budget cuts by Godfrey, indicate that Top of Utah isn't immune to the economic turmoil affecting the rest of the country. However, how well the state has been weathering the storm so far is reassuring. If things do get worse before they get better, we have the system in place to best handle the challenge.
Let's clear away this first: Mayor Godfrey's effort to attract outdoors-oriented companies to Ogden, and to try to rebrand Ogden as an outdoor tourist destination were both good ideas, and have had some good results for the city, and he deserves credit for that. And I've no problem with the Std-Ex providing the occasional and deserved pat on the back to Hizzonah.

However, in order to be credible in its praise of the local economy, and the Mayor's role in it, the Std-Ex needs also to recognize some of the problems created by the "local leadership" and the questionable [to say the least] calls it has made. Dividing the city for years and sinking tens of thousands of public money into promoting his personal [and foolish] flatland gondola obsession is but one example. Campaigning to sell the city's largest park to a real estate developer to pay for the flatland gondola is another. There are more, mostly involving the debt the city has taken on under his leadership, and the consequences of that debt if major elements of the development the mayor has sold to the Council and the citizens don't pan out as hoped, and if city tax revenues continue to shrink in the deepening recession.

Was down at Sonora Grill yesterday [it's arrival at The Junction was a good thing for Ogden, as was the arrival of Iggy's Sports Bar at the same location], and noticed a realtor's banner on the unfinished Earnshaw Building at The Junction, which was to be the first of several condo developments coming on line. The banner said simply "Available." I did some checking and found Kristin Moulton's article in the SL Trib dated June 22 this year, reporting that: "Unfortunately, lease revenue from the rest of the mall has fallen short, he said. On Tuesday, the City Council will be asked to tap into the flush coffers of Business Depot Ogden to help cover $819,000 more of The Junction's debt payments. Already, the city was using $750,000 in BDO funds to pay mall debt this year. Arrington said some of the shortfall was in property-tax revenue since development of Phase 1 has been slow. "

Ms. Moulton also reported in the article that "The first owners of condos in the tallest building - the six-story Earnshaw Building - should be able to move in later in the summer, according to developer David Earnshaw."

Here it is, mid-November, and the building is not finished and is not occupied so far as I could see. Ms. Moulton also spoke to the owners of the groundfloor retail space in the Earnshaw Building:
"The largest retail space in The Junction, the ground floor of the Earnshaw building, has not yet been leased. But Dan Musgrave, who bought the space with two other Ogden investors, Bill Hancock and Gordon James, said he expects to have it leased in 90 days. The partners are talking to health-food stores, day spas, doctors and restaurants, he said. When he bought the property, Earnshaw said he wanted to attract a grocery store.The partners are talking to health-food stores, day spas, doctors and restaurants, he said. When he bought the property, Earnshaw said he wanted to attract a grocery store."
Yet as of October 25th, the ground floor, all 18K square feet of it, was being listed for sale [not leasing] on LoopNet [which lists commercial properties for sale].

And the Well's Fargo office block at the Southeaat corner of The Junction is not yet fully leased, after being open for the better part of a year. That's the building the Mayor asked the city council to add another floor to, at the city's entire risk for construction and leasing, because the Mayor thought Ogden lacked sufficient good office space. [By a one vote margin, the Council spared the city that continuing drain on its coffers.] One thought to be signed restaurant for The Junction has pulled out.

So there seem to me to be reasons for some concern that ought to temper the Editorial Board's optimism and confidence in the business judgment of the current administration, and reasons to question the Std-Ex's certainty that we have "the system in place" to handle increasing economic adversity. What "system" would that be, I wonder? Congratulatory editorials are fine, as are editorials expressing confidence in the city's economic future. But such editorials, if they are to be credible, must also take into account the evidence on the other side, so that they reach in the end... and take their readers along on the trip... reasonable and balanced conclusions. When an Editorial Board looks only at the upside, and ignores the downside, when it looks only at successes and ignores failures, or when it cavalierly counts not-yet-proven-projects as successes already achieved, then it risks slipping over from exercising sound editorial judgment into Babbitry and Boosterism. We have a Chamber of Commerce infatuated with flatland gondolas for that. We expect... and Ogden needs... better than that from the Standard Examiner editorial board. We're not getting it.

Utes 63; Aztecs 14

The Utes clinch at least a piece of the Mountain West Conference Championship

We congratulate the Utah Utes, for yesterday afternoon's Mountain West Conference blowout victory, wherein a game but clearly overmatched San Diego State squad was methodically dispatched by a University of Utah team which finally showed up for the first time in the season ready to play on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball:

Ute football: Well in hand

Big game coming up next Saturday in Rice-Eccles Stadium, where the unbeaten Utes host conference rival BYU.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Take It For What It's Worth

We posted an article earlier today, incorporating this video... Google deleted it

This talking head/financial analyst, Max Keiser, gets it completely right, we think. It's the truth. The source (Al Jazeera) really doesn't matter. This is the kind of information you won't get from American government contolled patsy news sources.

Lets see whether Google will let this post stand.

Do we really have free speech in America?

We'll see.

Ogden Volunteers Spruce Up Shelter

It's really quite simple... when we give, we get back

A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to Ogden City's Wadman Construction, and a few un-named other generous benefactors. From this morning's Cathy McKitrick story:
OGDEN - An army of volunteers stretched 500 yards of carpet and rolled on 60 gallons of paint Friday, updating nine apartments where homeless women and children live while they get their lives back on track.
The nine-hour project was organized by Wadman Construction, an Ogden-based company, with the help of 10 other companies that donated everything from carpet to paint to light fixtures.
“It's simple,” said Wadman President Dave Hogan, who was on his knees taping and stretching carpet in one of the apartments at Your Community Connection. “Givers gain. When we give, we get back.”
His company's 95 employees were working alongside 20 subcontractors, such as painters and carpet-layers, who wanted to contribute.
Wadman Construction founder Jay Wadman and his company have a long tradition of generously pitching in on worthy local projects and causes.

It's great to see that the Wadman volunteer tradition remains alive.

Friday, November 14, 2008

In The Know: Should The Government Stop Dumping Money Into A Giant Hole?

Is it time to close the national money hole?

How about the Ogden money hole?

Listen... and YOU decide.

Consider this the kickoff to a Friday evening open topic thread.

Prominent Local Citizen Activist Receives the Prestigious Pfeifferhorn Award

Well-deserved recognition for Ogden City's own Dan Schroeder

By Amy Wicks

Congratulations to Dan Schroeder of the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club!

Dan is the 2008 recipient of the Pfeifferhorn Award! The Pfeifferhorn Award was inaugurated in 1995 to honor an individual who should be recognized for serving the public interest by helping to preserve and protect some aspect of the natural environment of the State of Utah .

The award is presented by Save Our Canyons, The Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club, The Wasatch Mountain Club, Wild Utah Project, The Nature Conservancy and The Salt Lake Audubon Society.

Dan is an exemplary watchdog and protector; and because of the countless hours and passion he puts into so many different issues- Utah is truly a better place.

In honor of Dan and his work, I made a donation to Save Our Canyons today. It's easy and you can do it online with a PayPal account.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Internet Providers Cut Off major E-mail Spammer

Computer security experts estimate that McColo Co. of San Jose was responsible for 75% of the junk e-mail sent in the U.S. each day

Good news from this morning's Los Angeles Times.

Internet providers cut off host of spam e-mail:

We incorporate the lead paragraphs below:
The volume of junk e-mail sent worldwide may have dropped drastically Wednesday after a San Jose Web-hosting firm, identified by many in the computer security community as a major host of organizations engaged in spam activity, was taken offline.
McColo Co., which computer security experts say serves as a U.S. staging ground for international firms that sell items including counterfeit pharmaceuticals and child pornography, ceased operations after two Internet providers blocked Web access.
SecureWorks, an Atlanta security-services provider, estimates that McColo was responsible for 75% of all spam sent in the U.S. each day.
In a perfect world, these McColo Co. scumbags would wind up in Guantanamo.

Realistically, however, they'll no doubt be back in business with another web host within a matter of hours.

Update 11/14/08 12:18 p.m. MT: Per the LATimes... Spam traffic plunges after report blames server hosting company

So how's your email inbox looking this afternoon, WCF readers?

Be sure to chime in.

Lawmakers, Investors Ask Fed for Lending Disclosure

The Fed and Treasury Department stubbornly play it "close to the vest"


Lawmakers, Investors Ask Fed for Lending Disclosure

A few excerpts from this morning's story:
Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Members of Congress, taxpayers and investors urged the Federal Reserve to provide details of almost $2 trillion in emergency loans and the collateral it has accepted to protect against losses.
At least five Republican members of Congress yesterday called for the Fed to disclose which financial institutions are borrowing taxpayer money and what troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral. More than 300 more investors and taxpayers also pressed for more disclosure in e-mails and interviews with Bloomberg News.
"There cannot be accountability in government and in our financial institutions without transparency,'' Texas Senator John Cornyn said in a statement. "Many of the financial problems we are facing today are the direct result of too much secrecy and too little accountability.''
House Republican Leader John Boehner and Republican Representatives Jeb Hensarling of Texas, Scott Garrett of New Jersey and Walter Jones of North Carolina also are pressing Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke to elaborate on the Fed's emergency lending. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in September they would comply with congressional demands for transparency in the separate $700 billion bailout of the banking system that was approved by Congress last month.
The Fed claims this requested info is "confidential." And no... we are NOT making this up. Read the article linked above.

No disclosure demands yet from Democratic side of the legislative aisle... so far. Hmmmm.....

Today's story also reveals that the lumpencitizens are raising hell too. This from one LSU perfessor:
Not knowing which banks are in trouble shuts down the entire credit market said Joseph Mason, a banking professor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
If you don't know where the losses are, it's rational to pull back from the whole system,'' Mason said. "I've heard the argument that government shouldn't pick winners or losers. Duh. That's what bank examiners and regulators do. Tell us where the losses are and there won't be a panic."
We think it's high time for our congresscritters to get off their lazy derrieres and do something about this. Professor Mason and Senator Cornyn are right. It was a lack of transparency in the banking industry that caused the current economic meltdown in the first place, innit? And now the FED and U.S. Treasury are compounding the financial markets "confidence problem" by repeating the same boneheaded blunders -- this time with our taxpayer dollars?

According to awesome internet watchdog, by the way, the current taxpayer price tag for the secret 2008 banking industry bailout is now at least $2.46 trillion; and according to yesterday's Forbes online story, U.S. lumpencitizen bagholders may actually be on the hook in excess of $5 Trillion! And most of this is occurring in secret, hooboy.

$5 Trillion here, $5 Trillion there... pretty soon we'll be talking about REAL money, we guess...

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

As Public Transit Grows, Cities Desire Streetcars

Time to abandon childish obsessions... and get Ogden in line for some of that federal cash for a trolley line

By Curmudgeon

Also of some interest locally in today's NYTimes, this story, headlined "As Public Transit Grows, Cities Desire Streetcars."

From the story:

As gas prices soared and dozens of North American communities sought to reintroduce electric streetcars as an alternative to diesel buses, Europe’s tram builders were some of the biggest beneficiaries. Now, as the administration of President-elect Barack Obama contemplates an infrastructure expansion to keep Americans working through a severe slowdown, trams may be one of the building blocks of economic revival and energy efficiency.
“Trams were invented by the Americans,” said Jean-Noël Debroise, vice president for product planning at Alstom, the French streetcar builder that is selling its sleek Citadis tram to cities like Houston and Toronto. “It’s a big market,” he said. European companies like Alstom, Siemens of Germany, AnsaldoBreda of Italy, CAF of Spain and Skoda of the Czech Republic will be at the head of the line. They, along with non-European companies like Bombardier of Canada and Kinki Sharyo of Japan, are among the leading suppliers of streetcars, which are also known as light rail vehicles. “If we get a program funded at the federal level, a lot of cities will be expressing interest,” said Jeffrey F. Boothe, a Washington lawyer specializing in public transport. “At the end of the day, only lack of federal money was stopping them.”
Unfortunately, the US does not produce trolleys much. Notice, not a single American company is in the game in a serious way. Not one. It's European companies, mostly, that own the market [yet another example of the way American industry looks ahead and demonstrates its excellence... just like Ford and Chrysler who fought all attempts to impose higher mileage standards on their fleets by Congress, and who now are stuck with unsaleable gas guzzlers and want a federal bailout]. And it's mostly European companies that are looking to cash in on federally subsidized transit expansions in the US.

Still, if the Feds are going to pump money into urban transit, and in particular, light rail and trolleys, it would be nice if Ogden's Mayor could get past his gondola obsession and start now... three years later than he should have... to get Ogden in line for some of that federal cash for a trolley line from downtown to WSU and McKay Dee Hospital. Please?

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