Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year, Weber County Forum Readers

A few words of advice as we usher in the year 2009, later on tonight:

Above all, have fun...


Be safe tonight though, gentle readers. And for those who might venture out tonight to celebrate, and perhaps consume a couple of adult beverages at your favorite watering hole... We urge you all to Be Extremely Careful, if you know what we mean (and we think you do.)

'Nuff said! Happy New Year from your Weber County Forum Blogmeister!

Snow Basin Resort Applies to Expand Its Forest Service Use Permit

Taylors, Beus and Burch Canyon descent routes are mentioned

Over the course of the past month or so we've devoted substantial electronic ink here at Weber County Forum to the frenzied tree and brush clearing activity recently occurring on Chris Peterson's Malan's Basin/Strongs' Canyon property. Thanks to the efforts of one alert WCF reader, we'll revive the discussion again. We received some interesting new information late yesterday evening, possibly related to the Malan's/Strong's clearcutting story. Here's the new info, courtesy of the Telemark Talk Forum Bulletin Board:
Utards: Snowbasin permit expansion. Comment by Jan 5.
More savvy electronic chatter on this latest development is also available, via The Teton Gravity Research BB, under the same title header:
Utards: Snowbasin permit expansion. Comment by Jan 5.
While it's probably a mite early to conclude that the two stories are actually connected, references to routes through Taylors, Beus and Burch Canyons would suggest, at this stage of the game at least, that the near-simultaneous Snow Basin permit application and the Peterson clearcutting may be more than slightly coincidental.

Taken in conjunction, these stories would also add further weight to Dan Schroeder's theory, that Peterson's clearcutting activity may be related to an effort to develop skiable Snow Basin to Ogden descent routes, of course.

We therefore invite our gentle readers to consider this new information, and to speculate on the true meaning of all this.

"Ogdenerds - ball's in your court."

Update 1/1/09 6:45 a.m. MT: For more useful information on this topic, be sure to check out Kristen Moulton's Wednesday evening Salt Lake Tribune writeup:
Snowbasin asks to take skiers into public backcountry
Suddenly, this conjunction of stories seems to be growing real legs. Imagine that.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sponsor an Executive Today

A most excellent humanitarian video piece, submitted by a gentle reader


Have a heart. Sponsor an executive today!

George Bush: Socialist

The Republican National Committee rightfully brands George Bush a SOCIALIST!

Submitted by: JOHN SPENCER

Fascinating (and exclusive) political story on theWashington Times website this morning. The Republican National Committee is actually branding with a hot iron the arguably Worst President of the United States of America ever! GOP insiders are complaining he's a socialist. Imagine that. We gleefully incorporate the lede below:
Republican Party officials say they will try next month to pass a resolution accusing President Bush and congressional Republican leaders of embracing "socialism," underscoring deep dissension within the party at the end of Mr. Bush's administration.
Those pushing the resolution, which will come before the Republican National Committee at its January meeting, say elected leaders need to be reminded of core principles. They said the RNC must take the dramatic step of wading into policy debates, which traditionally have been left to lawmakers.
"We can't be a party of small government, free markets and low taxes while supporting bailouts and nationalizing industries, which lead to big government, socialism and high taxes at the expense of individual liberty and freedoms," said Solomon Yue, an Oregon member and co-sponsor of a resolution that criticizes the U.S. government bailouts of the financial and auto industries.
Read the full WaTi article here:
EXCLUSIVE: RNC draft rips Bush's bailouts
Better late than never, as we always say, when we're waxing poetic and spewing out fundamental ideological principles.

The national GOP needs to get its act together if it wants to survive as a viable political party, we think.

Imagine a political entity run by one political party alone. Scary?

Oh that's right. We live in Utah, a state governed by one party rule, and a reasonable facsimile of a totalitarian fascist theocratic state.

Missed Opportunities: A Standard-Examiner Editorial

A missed opportunity embedded within an editorial on the topic of missed opportunities

Fairly tepid editorial in this morning's Standard-Examiner, noting that 9 Utah cities managed to add their pet projects to the U.S. Conference of Mayors' recently completed "Ready to Go wish-list." From the editorial:

Most Top of Utah cities missed a chance to get on the federal stimulus wish list. Last week nine Utah cities unveiled their hoped-for, “Ready-to-Go” projects in a report issued by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
The report lists 15,000 specific infrastructure projects that total almost $100 billion. The incoming Obama administration plans to seek a stimulus bill of close to $1 trillion after the president-elect’s inauguration. Nine Utah cities are on the wish list. Salt Lake City is requesting $780 million in wish-list projects.
But the only Top of Utah city that made the request list was Brigham City.
Notably, one Utah City, Sugarhouse, somehow managed to place its streetcar project on the list.

Lower in the editorial, the Std-Ex cuts to the chase, more or less:

However, this clearly seems to have been a missed opportunity for some cities to prioritize its needs. [...]
Ogden also needs to make a firm decision on its public transportation needs so it can access assistance.
The Standard-Examiner thus joins the readers of Weber County Forum in questioning, at least obliquely, the wisdom of our gondola-obsessed mayor, who dawdled for three years on our own streetcar project.

Yes, the Std-Ex editorial board could have made a stronger and more pointed statement. Unfortunately, today's editorial is just about as critical of Boss Godfrey as the Gondola-Examiner ever gets. Ironically, we find a missed opportunity embedded within an editorial dealing with missed opportunites on the Std-Ex editorial page this morning. Godfrey screwed up; and we believe that the Std-Ex should have just come out and said that. Instead, our home town newspaper again treats the little feller with kid gloves, relatively speaking.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Wasatch Front Regional Council Pushes its "Natural Disasters Mitigation Plan"

Something additional for WFRC planners to consider, perhaps?

This morning's Standard-Examiner reports that the Wasatch Front Regional Council is pushing full steam ahead to push cities, counties and the state to adopt a disaster mitigation plan for the Wasatch Front region. Mitch Shawn's opening paragraphs provide the gist:
LAYTON — If the Top of Utah ever has a major disaster, it will likely be measured by Richter scale.
The Wasatch Front Regional Council has released the final draft of the 2008 Natural Hazards and Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan and will be looking for cities, counties and the state to adopt it in the next few months.
The plan identifies possible hazards in Davis, Morgan, Salt Lake, Tooele and Weber counties and includes strategies to eliminate or minimize the effects of wildfires, floods, severe weather, earthquakes or any other major disaster.
“Our Katrina will be a major earthquake,” said DeeEll Fifield, WFRC pre-disaster mitigation planner. “This region’s No. 1 identified risk is an earthquake.”
More from this morning's Std-Ex story:
According to the plan, which is available for review at wfrc.org, the Top of Utah’s Wasatch Fault Zone is an active fault zone that can produce a large 7.3 to 7.5 Richter magnitude earthquake on average every 300 to 400 years.
Davis County contains the highest density of faults in the entire state of Utah. Weber County has had two earthquakes with a Richter magnitude between 5.0 and 5.5 since 1894. Weber County has also felt earthquakes that did not have their epicenters within the county.
While the WCRC is working on this, we're hoping these government bureaucrats haven't completely overlooked another potential local natural disaster just waiting to happen, one which would make a 7.5 Richter scale earthquake seem like a pleasant stroll on the beach:
The Yellowstone Supervolcano
In this latter connection, (and in a truly serendipitous coincidence of timing,) here's something interesting that popped up just this morning on the TYWKIWDBI Blog:
Is the Yellowstone caldera becoming more active?
From the above-linked blog 12/28/08 article:
There was a swarm of sixteen earthquakes in 24 hours this weekend (map above, updates at this link). It probably is not significant, but it is worth remembering that the Yellowstone caldera is a hotspot above a supervolcano, the eruption of which would mean theendoflifeasweknowit, at least for the United States. The Yellowstone one has erupted approximately every 600,000 years, and the last eruption was... lets see... 600,000 years ago.
Something additional for WFRC planners to consider, perhaps?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Madoff as Metaphor

A short essay on human nature: the desire to believe in things that do not exist

Thoughtful Llewelyn H. Rockwell piece from the Ludvig von Mises Institute website, putting the Bernard Madoff Ponzi ripoff in context. We incorporate the opening paragraphs below:
The mystery of Bernard Madoff will be storied a hundred years from now. As history's biggest financial criminal, he took a cheap ripoff that you can use at home—the Ponzi scheme—and turned it into a global empire worth some $50 billion.
One ingredient was financial intelligence. Madoff had buckets of it. Early in his career, he was the real deal, an actual innovator. He combined this with an amazing lack of conscience, for his scam was rooted most fundamentally in lying and stealing. The difference between him and all who came before was his grand scale, the grandest scale imaginable.
There is a saying in the world of Austrian economics about the business cycle. The puzzle is not to explain business failures. Those are part of the normal course of life, and the sign of a healthy economy. The puzzle is to explain the "cluster of errors" that appears at the beginning of a recession. How could so many have been so wrong about so much at the same time? The business cycle is a system-wide failure, not merely the mistaken judgment of a few.
So it is with Modoff's scheme. The mystery isn't how one person was able to fool a few. The scheme in which yesterday's "investors" are paid off with the money of today's victims is known in all places and probably all times—and it always goes belly up to the originator's complete disgrace. It is a classic example of how moral laws are self-enforcing in the world of economics.
The critical difference this time is that Madoff ran his scheme during an economic boom, a time when people's normal sense of incredulity is put on the shelf. This is part of the grave cultural distortion introduced by funny money. Money is the most widely demanded good in society, and the Fed is making new quantities of it not as a reflection of new real wealth, but purely as an administrative decree.
The author warns that the government is presently using Madoff's tactics to convince you that the injection of multi-billions in federal "funny money" will lift us out of recession, and asserts, effectively we think, that "the whole scheme partakes of the same sense of denying reality that characterized Madoff's scheme."

Read Mr. Rockwell's full article here:
Madoff as Metaphor
Something to consider on another slow Emerald City news day, we believe.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Science Saturday - Top Science Stories from 2008

Spotlight on this year's first significant end-of-year list

In the first of what we'll predict to be a tsunami of "best of 2008" lists as we approach the new year, here's something useful, we think, from our very most favorite cable TEEVEE channel (Discovery Science):
Top 100 Stories of 2008
We have MANY bonafide scientists who regularly read and post here; and in that connection we ask: Did Discover Magazine leave any of your important science stories out?

We know you're out there, gentle readers, as our web stats software can hear you breathing.

If there's another important 2008 science story that got left out, we invite you to link it in the below comments section. And if there are one or two bogus science stories that inadvertently got let in... we'd like to hear about that too.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Nothing But Good in MattGodfreyWorld

Bullet-proof vests, kevlar helmets and four-wheel drive remain basic necessities in Emerald City, however

By Disgusted

I don't know about the rest of you, but it seems to me that Ogden is sure seeing its fair share of criminal activity lately. These last few weeks have been terrible.

But hey; according to Godfrey, crime is down.

Also, snow removal services must have been cut back 'cause the roads are sure horrible out there. I could understand the lack of attention to the roads if it had snowed all day, but it was sunny from about 10:00 am on. No excuse other than Godfrey cutting back on the city providing the services.

Master Criminal Caught on Video Tape!

Criminal mastermind pulls a bold daylight caper and then escapes with the loot

Ya's got's to admit this is quite cool:


Some of you who know your blogmeister personally may be tempted to conclude that the culprit closely resembles another good friend of ours. Trust us however; our canine "friend" has a rock solid alibi.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Yes, Virginia, the Standard-Examiner Has Established a New Holiday Tradition

Christmas holiday open topic thread

It's Christmas day, so we'll be taking the rest of the day off. But for those readers in need of a venue to spout off on this Christmas holiday, we're setting up this space as an open topic thread.

Before we open it up for comments, however, we want to briefly spotlight this morning's Standard-Examiner editorial, which republishes one of the most truly classic Christmas Day newspaper pieces ever written. Written by newspaperman Francis Pharcellus Church, and first published in the New York Sun in 1897, it's a thumbnail masterpiece of the philosophy of the common man, cleverly interlaced with numerous exoteric and esoteric themes:
Yes, Virginia
If the piece has more than a slight ring of familiarity to it for regular Std-Ex readers, by the way, it's apparently becoming a Standard-Examiner Christmas-time tradition, in which connection we link the previous two years' Std-Ex editorials below:
2007 Std-Ex Christmas Editorial
2006 Std-Ex Christmas Editorial
Let's just say the Std-Ex editorial board really likes this piece. And why not, we ask? Not only does it deal with the grand concept of mankind's place in the universe, it also emphasises the power of a newspaper as the voice of authority and reason. It's both mysticism and newspaper marketing, travelling in happy conjunction.

The floor is open. Perhaps a few of you will be able check us out on your new laptops or mobile devices, discovered this morning under the tree.

Have at it; and a Happy Holiday to all.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Lights on Christmas Eve: A Western European/North American Tradition

Happy Christmas... Everyone

Hey everybody, remember this? Although this is probably not the first computer-controlled Christmas light display in history, it's most certainly the first to have gone viral across the internet. 2005, according to our recollection. Here's a little trip down memory lane for veteran web surfers:
Christmas Lights Gone Wild
Well... time and technology march on. After an extensive Google search, we're linking a few more of the latest of these Christmas-themed light displays, proving among other things, that plenty of people in America possibly still have the Christmas spirit (and possibly way too much time and money on their hands,) even during this recession plagued Christmas season:
El Paso Christmas Lights
Amazing Perth Christmas Lights 2008
Computerized Christmas lights Carol of the Bells
2008 Hallum's House Of Lights Computerized Christmas Lights Display
Whether any of these has upstaged the original is anybody's guess.

As an added bonus, Wikipedia has a fine article, tracing the history of Christmas lighting over the years, just to put it all in context.

Happy Christmas... Everyone! (Courtesy of John and Yoko)

Utah Supreme Court Decides in Favor of Open Records

Court rules statutory GRAMA exceptions are to be interpreted narrowly

By Dan Schroeder

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has won its lawsuit to obtain state geographic records pertaining to right-of-way claims through public lands. This is (at least) the second time this year that the Utah Supreme Court has issued a firm and unanimous ruling in favor of open records, specifically finding that the statutory exceptions to GRAMA are to be interpreted narrowly.

Although the facts of the case are different from the Sierra Club's lawsuit against Ogden City, I find this decision very encouraging.

Also, it's of interest to us that SUWA was represented in this case by Western Resource Advocates, whose attorneys have worked closely with the Ogden Sierra Club on various issues. Dave Becker, who argued this case before the Utah Supreme Court, was the attorney who advised us informally during the administrative appeal process that led up to our lawsuit. Unfortunately for Utah, Dave has since moved on to a job in Oregon.

A copy of the decision is linked below:
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, et al. v. The Automated Geographic Reference Center, et al.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New York Times: White House Philosophy Stoked Mortgage Bonfire

Thoughtful tentative answer to the question "What the Hell went wrong?"

Thanks to a pointer from one of our gentle readers, we're pleased to link a fine New York Times tome, providing a well researched summary overview of the root causes of the current mortgage crisis. NYT contributors Jo Becker, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Stephen Labaton pin much of the blame squarely where it belongs -- The White House. Read Tuesday's full article here:
White House Philosophy Stoked Mortgage Bonfire
It's a meaty piece, and well worth a read, we think, as we cast about for a plausible answer to the nagging question: "What the hell went wrong?"

And yes, this will be on the test.

Southwick Denied Parole, Next Hearing Date in 2025

Not so hidden message from the 800-pound gorilla: Wardhouse scamming is firmly off-limits

More news about convicted Ogden Ponzi scammer Val Southwick in this morning's Salt Lake Tribune. From this morning's Tom Harvey story:
In an unusually harsh decision, the state Board of Pardons is leaving the convicted operator of a giant Ponzi scheme in prison for at least 17 years.
With his next parole hearing set for 2025, that means 63-year-old former Ogden businessman Val E. Southwick might spend the rest of his life in prison, serving out nine consecutive terms for defrauding about 800 investors, many of them elderly, out of about $180 million.
In its rationale for denying Southwick parole, the five-member board cited abuse of a position of trust, the number of victims and the extent of the harm done them. The 17 years set for Southwick's prison sentence is just three years short of a typical prison term of an inmate convicted of first-degree felony murder, according to parole board statistics from a 2006 study.
Although neither the Tribune nor the Board of Pardons mentions it as part of the "official" rationale for the Board's decision to lock Southwick up and throw away the key, we believe it's fair to infer that there's a special local lesson here for Utah scammers who would abuse their positions of ecclesiastical trust and prey upon unwary victims from LDS wardhouses. The 800-pound gorilla has a mighty long political reach; and it's apparent that Val Southwick (and other potential wardhouse scammers) were just delivered an equally mighty mighty thump in the head -- with a clear message attached: Wardhouse scamming is declared firmly off-limits, capice?

Comments?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Breaking: Flying J Seeks Chapter 11 Reorganization Relief

One big Ogden economic player actively gets its economic ducks lined up

By Curmudgeon

Important local economic news. Ogden based "Flying J" has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing low oil prices and inability to get credit to tide it over. The Standard Examiner live website has the story.

Editorial Comment: See? The 2008 Bush recession will effect the local economy. Even a big local player like "Flying 'J'" is NOT immune.

Comments?

How 'bout you? Do you have your own ducks lined up?

Update 12/23/08 11:44 a.m. MT: This morning's Std-Ex front page story fleshes out the the information provided in yesterday's StandardNET online edition piece:
Flying J Files for bankruptcy
Judging from the tone of the Flying J spokesman, casual readers might even be tempted to conclude that Flying J management is happy to have landed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Boss Godfrey Returns From Europe: Touts French Wireless Street Cars as "Unique"

Aesthetically acceptable Bordeaux-style street cars might be applicable to Ogden's public transit needs, Godfrey admits

Now that Boss Godfrey has returned from his European Street Car Study Junket, he's started talking about his findings. To our good fortune, reporters from the Standard-Examiner made themselves available to take notes. Here's the gist from this morning's Scott Schwebke/Mitch Shaw story:
OGDEN — Mayor Matthew Godfrey says a whirlwind tour earlier this month of six European cities gave him insight into cutting edge streetcar technology that could benefit Ogden.
The trip from Dec. 9-16 took Godfrey to Vienna, Austria; Munich, Germany; Zurich, Switzerland, and the French cities of Nice, Bordeaux and Paris. [...]
The most unique streetcar system with possible applications for Ogden was found in Bordeaux, Godfrey said.
Instead of overhead lines, the Bordeaux operation is powered by a pedestrian-safe electric supply system buried in the ground, according to American Public Transportation’s Web site at www.apta. com.
The system could be beneficial to Ogden because it would eliminate the need for unsightly overhead lines and the price would likely be no more than 3 percent higher than a conventional streetcar system, said Godfrey.
“I definitely want something wireless and this is the best technology I’ve seen,” Godfrey said.
"Eliminate the need for unsightly overhead lines?" Quite a transformation, we think, for the "visionary" little feller who only last year still "envisioned" this ghastly monstrosity as the most desirable (and visually prominent) feature to be added to the future Emerald City streetscape. That's a step in the right direction... we think. There's nothing like a trip through the old cities of Europe, of course, to provide even a rube from Harrisville, Utah a new appreciation of the inherent value and wisdom of clean aesthetics.

And we can't fail to note that Godfrey concedes that the Bordeaux wireless streetcars are "unique." As every Weber County Forum reader knows, unique is only a click or two down the Godfrey preference scale from "cool and sexy."

Here's a view of the Bordeaux wireless streetcar, by the way:


Last week we posed the question: "Anybody want to make a side bet on whether or not our Emerald City Mayor will return to town [from Europe] raving about street cars?" Not surprisingly, we didn't get any takers willing to wager that Godfrey would fall in love with European streetcar technology.

Given the paucity of info provided in today's story, it's certainly too early to draw any firm conclusions about whether Godfrey's public transit affections have been won over to transportation alternatives designed for grownups. Nevertheless, we'll go out on a limb and tentatively offer this observation: At least at this juncture he's talking about streetcars as a viable public transit option... and no longer raving about gondolas. That's progress, we suppose.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

A Heads Up on Further Unexamined Tax Loopholes

A legislative no-brainer: Banning the issuance of building permits to developers who are already delinquent in their property taxes

Last Wednesday we published a heads up regarding property tax reform legislation which House Representative Gage Froerer plans to offer up during the 2009 legislative session.

In that connection we'd like to direct our readers' attention to yesterday's Sharon Zini letter to the Standard-Examiner editor, which fleshes out part of the underlying problem addressed in Froerer's referenced bill, and further discusses another taxpayer inequity issue which we're hoping to see addressed by the legislature during in 2009. Read the full text of Ms. Zini's letter here:
Many abuse Weber County's tax rules
With our local property tax dependant local government officials scrambling to meet their own budgets during the current economic downturn, it seems to us imprudent to ignore some of the loopholes which result in non-collection of thousands of dollars in taxes which ought to go to local governments. Banning the issuance of building permits to developers who are already delinquent in their property taxes seems a no-brainer to us. When delinquent property taxes go unpaid, local governments essentially assume the role of an unwilling lender; and property owners who do pay their taxes in a timely manner assume the economic burden for those who don't.

Hopefully this loophole will not remain further unexamined by our elected legislative representatives this year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Salt Lake Tribune: Ogden City's River Restoration Project Stalls at the Starting Gate

Another grand Godfrey scheme gets shuffled to the back burner

Discouraging Kristen Moulton story in this morning's Salt Lake Tribune, regarding Boss Godfrey's languishing Ogden River Restoration Project:
Ogden » One year after Robert F. Kennedy Jr., chairman of the international Waterkeeper Alliance, spoke at an Ogden River celebration -- also billed as a restoration kickoff -- there is still no grand plan for the river.
Nonetheless, the celebration did energize community cleanup efforts and a bid for federal funding for restoration of the river, which flows from Ogden Canyon through the city to the confluence with the Weber River west of downtown.
"It's a long process," said Jason Carey, a consultant from Glenwood Springs, Colo., who has been working with developer Gadi Leshem and an ad hoc committee of people interested in restoring the river. "These restoration projects, even the most fast-tracked of them, take at least two years."
Restoring the Ogden River likely will take much longer.
Ms. Moulton goes on to partially enumerate the laundry list of pesky problems which have landed the project on the VERY back burner, not the least of which is the generally dismal state of the economy, wherein funding for projects of this kind is a trifle "tight."

Compounding the problem of course, is the uncertain posture of U.S. Senator Bob Bennett's $6.5 million proposed federal appropriation earmark, which unceremoniously stalled in the Senate last year. In this connection Senator Bennett hints that the future of the appropriation is what we'll characterise as "iffy." We'll suggest however that it may be quite a bit worse than iffy, now that Mr. Bennett sits on the minority side of the Senate, in the absence of his former GOP majority clout.

And developer Gadi Leshem hasn't been much help either, according to Ms. Moulton's morning report. Notwithstanding all the grand hoopla last year, Mr. Leshem has evidently dropped out of sight, and remains missing in action. Specifically, Leshem draws criticism from Great Salt Lakekeeper Jeff Salt, who complains that Leshem has entirely failed to "keep him in the loop about the river's restoration, in spite of such a promise" during last December's Robert Kennedy, Jr. dog and pony show:
Salt said he believes Leshem used Kennedy to give his project a "greenwash."
"He used Bobby Kennedy to launch the project, and he hasn't kept his commitment to communicate with us or involve us," Salt said.
And this is interesting. Ms. Moulton reports that the city is trying to "find a deep-pocketed partner for Leshem who could finance massive demolition work" on the numerous derelict and abandoned residential fire traps he owns in the River Project area.

Hey waittaminute, gentle readers! We thought Gadi WAS SUPPOSED TO BE the deep pocket.

Sadly, like all the other grand plans and schemes of the "visionary" Godfrey administration, this one is panning out to be long on vision, but painfully inept in the execution. So what else is new in MattGodfreyWorld anyway, we ask?

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Las Vegas Bowl: The Provo Zoobs Get Whacked by the Arizona Wildcats

Final Score: Arizona 31, BYU 21

Here's a story that ought to be of interest to Northern Utah football fans: Brigham Young University got its ass handed to it tonight by the Las Vegas Bowl underdog, the University of Arizona.

A mere two minutes after the final whistle, the Salt Lake Tribune already has the story:
Las Vegas Bowl: Arizona upsets BYU 31-21
That's two BYU losses in a row. So much for the elusive "Quest for Perfection", we guess.

"Gotta love it," sez this Utah Alum.

Richmond Spiders Eat the Montana Grizzlies' Lunch

FCS Championship game final score: Richmond 24; Montana 7

For those diehard Wildcats football fans who still haven't quite put their purple rooting paraphernalia into mothballs, we offer this disappointing report on last night's FCS Championship Game, indicating that our 2008 Wildcat team won't experience any of that vicarious glory which might have resulted from a Montana Grizzlies 2008 national football championship:
Out-legged: Richmond Spiders tangle up Grizzlies 24-7
Tough luck, Griz. See ya's on the gridiron next year.

Saturday Morning Economic News Update

Excerpts from three interesting articles highlighting milestones in this week's chirpy economic news

Bush leaves GM on life support for Obama:
Today's announcement of a $17.4 Billion loan to GM and Chrysler marks another milestone on the road to nowhere currently being followed by the current administration. Under the terms of the loan, "If the firms have not attained viability by March 31, 2009, the loan will be called and all funds returned to the Treasury," Meanwhile,another caveat to the deal is that workers' wages will have to be reduced to make them as competitive as those in Japan and Korea. Oh and the corporate jet has to go as well. This passes for a plan these days. Who are they trying to kid? GM and Chrysler will need this money just to keep the lights on until March before the inevitable industry collapse. [...]
This whole deal is nothing but Political posturing by Bush and Paulson who would like to finish the year with an illusory aura of fiscal responsibility. They don't want the consequences of the $250 Billion in credit default swaps tied to GM to happen on their watch and prefer to leave it to the next administration.
A Message From the Auto Industry:
You wouldn't buy our shitty cars. So we'll be taking your money anyway.
People Begging on their Knees for a Job at the Dump:
Wanted: Laborer willing to work 10-hour days outdoors in the stench and dust of the Pinellas County landfill. That’s year-round, so you’ll really enjoy the summer months when the landfill is ripest.
Starting salary: $9.50 an hour, plus benefits.
Sound like the job for you? With the economy crashing and unemployment rising in the Tampa Bay area, 136 people, most out of work, answered yes last month and applied for three such jobs.
“At one point I actually had a line of people 10 feet out the door waiting to talk to me,” said Scott Hanus, an operations manager for Veolia Environmental Services, which runs the landfill. “I actually had some people down on their knees begging me.” [...]
Some who applied had college degrees, Hanus said, and many had recently been laid off or seen their companies shut down. The three people hired had a fair amount of experience working outdoors and solid customer skills, Hanus said. They started Dec. 8. [...]
“It was pretty hard watching so many people hurting,” Hanus said.
As an added bonus, we also provide this useful link, for those who'd like to extend their personal thanks to Geedubya, for his careful 8-year stewardship over the U.S. economy:

Thanks a lot, George Bush!

Well...?

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Malan's/Strong's Clearcutting: What Chris Peterson Is Really Up To?

An informed tentative explanation, based on new photos and other newly considered and revised information

By Dan Schroeder

For the last three weeks, Weber County Forum readers have been puzzling over Chris Peterson's recent clearcutting activities on the Malan's Basin property. Yesterday I took another hike up to Malan's Basin to finish mapping the cleared routes, and the picture became much more complete. A revised map and some new photos are posted on the Sierra Club web site.

To get to the point, here's my tentative explanation: Chris Peterson is trying to convince people that you can ski from Malan's Basin all the way down to the city.

As the map shows, there's another newly cleared route on the north side of Malan's Basin that I was unaware of before. That route descends 500 feet over a little more than a mile, starting at the valley bottom near the eastern end of Peterson's property and ending on the ridge overlooking Taylor Canyon, a little east of Malan's Peak.

In fact, this route does precisely what Chris Peterson told me you "could" do, back on July 20, 2006, when he met with the Ogden Trails Network Committee. Specifically, when I asked him to elaborate on his claim that you could ski all the way down off the mountain, he used his finger to trace a line on a map following essentially this route. He described how the route would provide a gentle descent to link the upper basin to Taylor Canyon. His crew had already done some minor clearing on the very steep slope that descends into Taylor Canyon from there. That slope is suitable only for expert skiers (and snowboarders). Presumably this would be an "end of the day" route, with skiers continuing down the Taylor Canyon trail to the top of 27th Street.

Peterson also told me you "could" ski down via Strong's Canyon, although he was vague about the exact alignment. The newly cleared route through Strong's Canyon is probably about as viable as any. Although its exact terminus isn't quite clear, it appears that a skier descending this route could end up near the formerly proposed location for the mountain gondola terminal, near the north end of the WSU foothill property.

Of course, there are major problems with both of these routes.

The first problem is the side slope, which exceeds 50% almost everywhere and approaches 100% in several spots. Skiing for a mile or two along such a side slope would be pretty unpleasant, so we can assume that the plan is to eventually go in with heavy equipment to cut, fill, and flatten a "trail". How wide would the trail be? A few feet would be enough to ski on, but Peterson stated in 2006 that the width of his "trails" would be about 15 feet--wide enough for the routes to double as snowcat trails and maintenance roads. The expense of constructing over three miles of such roads, which would require retaining walls in many locations, would be enormous. The ecological damage would be enormous as well.

The second problem is aspect. The northern route lies almost entirely on a south-facing slope, as does a long segment of the southern route in Strong's Canyon. In a typical winter, these slopes never hold snow for long. Flattening the routes and packing the snow would undoubtedly help, but there would be no time of year when the routes are dependably snow covered. Investing in snowmaking equipment for lengthy routes on south-facing slopes would be virtually out of the question. And when there's fresh snow of any depth, the gently sloping routes would be rough going until after they've been groomed.

The third problem is land ownership. To complete the Strong's Canyon route would require constructing a road through a National Forest roadless area. Whether the Forest Service would ever approve such a project is anyone's guess--but there would be considerable opposition. The northern route would also continue onto National Forest land at the bottom of Taylor Canyon. Even if no alteration to the existing trail in the canyon is proposed, the Forest Service could very well take issue with use of that trail by significant numbers of downhill skiers.

The fourth problem is clientele. These kinds of routes are not your typical downhill skiing, so it isn't clear who would pay for the experience of descending them. The number of expert skiers who can handle the descent into Taylor Canyon is limited. The Strong's Canyon route would be usable by average skiers, and has a greater chance of being served by a lift, but would involve a gentle descent of over two miles on a narrow trail that many skiers would consider confining and monotonous: perhaps worth a try for the novelty, but not more than once.

So the practical feasibility of both of these routes is questionable at best. And that brings me back to my carefully worded hypothesis: I'm not claiming that Peterson will ever finish constructing either of these routes. What seems clear is only that he is trying to convince people that the routes are feasible. And who are these people? I can only speculate. They could include prospective investors, or a prospective buyer for the property, or government officials, or the general public. Perhaps we'll learn more in the coming months.

In any case, I think it would be incorrect to view these new clearings as a departure from the plans that Peterson announced in 2006. A major system of "trails" that are really roads was part of his plan all along. In his public presentations he was always careful to state that while he would not permit private automobiles in his planned resort, some of his ski "trails" would be usable as roads during the summer. Mayor Godfrey was less clear, saying that he and Peterson were "working on" making the resort roadless, "even for construction", but making no outright promises. (The Standard-Examiner never understood these subtleties. The boilerplate text that appeared in numerous articles during 2006-07 simply described the proposed resort as "roadless".)

Many Ogden residents supported the Peterson proposal in 2006 with the understanding that the resort would be roadless and otherwise environmentally benign. Now that Peterson's concepts have become more vivid, it's time to reassess the environmental footprint of the project and whether it deserves our community's support.

Standard Examiner Editorial: "Ethics Reform 101"

A WCF plea for all Utah media to keep up the ethics reform drumbeat

As our Weber County Forum mid-day story, we highlight the fine editorial appearing this mornings Standard-Examiner. The Std-Ex gets right to the point, and minces no words. These are the Std-Ex's minimal three elements of ethics reform for Utah legislators during the 2009 legislative session. The Std-Ex appropriately calls it "Ethics Reform 101":
• No gifts period, and that means no exceptions for meals, events, or awards. If a legislator wants to accept something offered, pay for it.
• No personal use of campaign funds — and that includes unused campaign funds.
• No quick passage from legislative service to lobbying. The “cooling-off” period should be a long while, say years. That would allow influence a former legislator might have with colleagues to wane.
The Std-Ex asks much more of our 2009 legislature, of course:
We know there are many more aspects of ethics reform to discuss. They include how many legislators can sit on an ethics panel, how the public can file an ethics complaint, the role of an independent ethics commission, how legislators file ethics complaints against each other, and potential voting restrictions on legislators with conflicts of interest on an issue.
We expect all of these issues to be debated and resolved. But we want Utah lawmakers to understand that ethics reform is not just an administrative procedure to be ironed out. Ethics reform is crucial because our Legislature has fallen into a culture of entitlement. Freebies are grabbed by elected public servants who rationalize that their public “sacrifice” entitles them to a meal, or night at a sports event.
Nevertheless, the Std-Ex's above three points represent the core of meaingful reform, in our never humble opinion. We believe the people of Utah should settle for nothing less.

The Standard-Examiner has of course been well aboard the legislative ethics reform bandwagon for many years. Numerous previous editorials on this topic have appeared on the Std-Ex pages before. Somehow, however, it seems to us that today's editorial is presented with far more precision and urgency than during the tenure of former editorial page editor Don Porter. Today's tone comes closer to a demand than to on-the-knees begging. Perhaps it's the Std-Ex's installation of the very forthright Doug Gibson in Porter's place that makes for what we perceive to be a drastic difference in editorial tone.

We hope the Standard-Examiner will not let up on this; and we hope the other broadcast and print media in Utah join in the fight, regularly hammering Utah's legislative leadership to finally -- and once and for all -- pass meaningful legislative ethics reform.

So far it seems that some in the legislature still haven't quite gotten the message that the lumpencitizens of Utah are serious about this.

We thus thank the Std-Ex for this morning's editorial and urge all Utah media to keep up the mighty ethics reform drum beat.

New Frontrunner Tourist Center Nears Completion

Savvy Friends of Matt craftily nail down the entire Frontrunner tourist concession

This morning's Standard-Examiner reports on the continuing progress of Emerald City's Frontrunner station dining car/tourist information center, which has been the topic of several earlier reader discussions here at Weber County Forum:
OGDEN — The conversion of an old railroad dining car into a tourist information center at the downtown intermodal hub is rolling along and should be completed next month city officials say.
Improvements to the car’s exterior are complete and efforts are now under way to renovate the interior, which will include restrooms and a cafe, said Phil McDonald, the city’s fleet shop supervisor.
The exterior of the dinning car will be painted with a high-adventure and “Welcome to Ogden” theme.
A directional sign to various areas of the city will be constructed next to the car.
Yesiree, it won't be long now before hordes of de-training tourists arrive in Ogden, seeking out the MattGodfreyWorld high adventure fake trolleys, fake rock wall, fake ice cliff and fake sky diving ride located in our downtown center. And when that time comes, it will be Friends of Matt who will be there to help them out.

This morning's story also reveals that Boss Godfrey has selected a lucky concessionaire to operate the cafe which will be situated within the revamped dining car:
In addition, Jeanie Milne, owner of The Hole, a dough- nut and specialty drink shop at 2393 Wall Ave., will relocate her operation to the dining car.
Her new business will be named Jeanie’s Cafe and Deli and will serve doughnuts, drinks, sandwiches and soups.
Milne said she is pleased the city has selected her as the concessionaire for the rail car information center, because it will provide three times more space than The Hole.
“Working hand-in-hand with the city has been incredible.”
Regular Weber County Forum readers will of course recall that Ms.Milne is also one of the clever entrepreneurs behind the high adventure faux trolley system, which Boss Godfrey has commissioned to ferry tourists between and among the various carny tourist attractions (which are bound to put our fair city on the world high adventure recreation map.)

We congratulate Ms. Milne and her business associate Mr. Laub, for quietly and decisively nailing down the entire Frontrunner tourist concession, at a time when our Emerald City Council probably wasn't even aware there was a valuable Frontrunner tourist concession up for grabs. Further compliments to Ms. Milne too, for wisely abandoning the unfortunate trade name, "The Hole," and adopting something a little bit more visitor friendly and less self-effacing.

No word this morning from Ace Reporter Schwebke on the final cost to the taxpayers of the Frontrunner tourist center project. Although it's been rumored that costs have now ballooned into a region at least quadrupling the project's original $34 thousand council appropriation, we suppose Mr. Schwebke believed this to be a question too trivial (or inelegant) to ask.

So what say our gentle readers about all this?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Court Sides with ACLU, Strikes Down Patriot Act Gag Provision

ACLU victorious as federal court declares Patriot Act provision a violation of the First Amendment

Great news for American civil libertarians, dredged up by us this morning whilst googling. From yesterday's Raw Story article:
A federal appeals court ruling late Monday is the cause célèbre of the American Civil Liberties Union, as another provision of the Bush administration's Patriot Act falls to the judicial system.
Until the ruling, recipients of so-called "national security letters" were legally forbidden from speaking out. The letters, usually a demand for documents, or a notice that private records had been searched by government authorities, were criticized as a cover-all for FBI abuses.
"The appeals court invalidated parts of the statute that wrongly placed the burden on NSL recipients to initiate judicial review of gag orders, holding that the government has the burden to go to court and justify silencing NSL recipients," said the ACLU in a release. "The appeals court also invalidated parts of the statute that narrowly limited judicial review of the gag orders – provisions that required the courts to treat the government's claims about the need for secrecy as conclusive and required the courts to defer entirely to the executive branch."
Because of the ruling, the government will now be forced to justify individual gag orders before a court, instead of casually wielding the power of a blanket gag as the Bush administration has done since the blindingly fast passage of the Patriot Act in Oct. 2001.
Check out the full article below, which includes an ACLU press release on the subject:
Court sides with ACLU, strikes down Patriot Act gag provision
Chalk this decision up as a victory for freedom and liberty, and another blow against the encroaching corporo-fascist totalitarian state. Slowly but surely American courts continue to tediously unwind the assault and damage that's been done to our U.S. Constitutional liberties, during the 8-year Bush Administration nightmare.

Comments are invited, as always.

More From the Standard-Examiner In Re the Malan's/Strong's Clearcutting Mystery

Boss Godfrey chimes in... and "plays dumb"
“I suspect it’s old work,” [Mayor] Godfrey said Wednesday, adding he’s puzzled why local Sierra Club members are just now noticing the clearing that may be related to the construction of a ski run.
Godfrey, who admitted he doesn’t know for sure when the clearing was done, said he hasn’t talked recently with Peterson about his plans for the Malan’s Basin property, touted as the possible location for a year-round resort.

Standard-Examiner
When, why questions go unanswered after clearing
December 18, 2008

Jock Glidden, a Sierra Club member who hiked to Malan’s Basin on Dec. 6, said he’s stunned by Godfrey’s statement the clearing may be two years old.
“It’s a very fresh cutting,” Glidden said. “It’s beyond belief that the mayor doesn’t know anything about it. He’s playing dumb.”

Standard-Examiner
When, why questions go unanswered after clearing
December 18, 2008


Freshly returned from his one week European Street Car Study Junket, Boss Godfrey allows not even a single day to elapse before firing up more controversy in connection with the Peterson clearcutting story,which has had Emerald City lumpencitizens all abuzz these past several weeks. We link Ace Reporter Schwebke's morning story below:
When, why questions go unanswered after clearing
The Standard-Examiner editorial board also gets into the act this morning, with a pointed editorial, urging the reclusive and publicly mistrusted Mr. Peterson to conduct himself in the manner of a good neighbor, with improved openness and candor:
Malan's Basin questions
We're delighted to see the Std-Ex get involved in the investigation and discussion of this story. This, we believe, is just what a local home town newspaper should do.

Although we've devoted plenty of electronic ink to the discussion of the Malan's Basin/Strong's Canyon clearcutting mystery over the past few weeks, this abundance of previous discussion doesn't mean our conversation should come to a halt. In that connection we again invite our readers to chime in with their own comments, in light of the new material which the Std-Ex provides this morning.

Have at it, O gentle ones.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Who Said We Don't Have a Stinking Ethics Problem in Utah Government?

Hint: Not us

By Lionel

I couldn't help being amazed with the news today that Utah State Attorney General Shurtleff had been completely cleared, by his buddy the Lt. Governor, of any wrong-doing over his "selling" the great seal of the State of Utah to the highest bidder.

My comments on this outrage from the KSL web site:
HUBRIS ALIVE AND WELL IN UTAH GOVERNMENT
Let's see now - Company gives Shurtleff $10,000.00, A few days later Shurtleff gives company an endorsement letter on state letterhead in direct violation of plainly written state law, company promptly uses said letter to advertise their service nationally, citizens cry foul, Shurtleff has his political insider pal - the Lt. Governor - give reading on legality, political pal says "hey, no problem no violation."
Who said we don't have a stinking ethics problem in Utah government?

Froerer Property Tax Relief Bill

Sneak peek at Rep. Froerer's 2009 bill

In cooperation with our friends at Ogden Valley Forum, we provide a heads-up on
a residential property tax exemption bill that will be proposed by Representative Gage Froerer in the 2009 General Session of the Utah Legislature.

From Monday's Ogden Valley Forum article:
If passed the bill will provide relief for many residential property owners in Weber County and elsewhere who were required by county ordinance to build their homes on larger than one acre of land. The bill would also provide a vehicle for counties to penalize those individuals that illegally claim the homeowner’s exemption on multiple properties within the state.
Read the full Ogden Valley Forum article here:
Froerer Property Tax Relief Bill
The folks at Ogden Valley Forum recommend that you take a close look at this bill; and we at Weber County Forum wholeheartedly join them in that.

Contact information is available on the Utah State Legislature's site, for those readers who might wish to directly get in touch their own state legislators in this regard.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday Morning Emerald City News Roundup

An interesting array of diverse topics for this afternoon's open topic thread

Beyond the material which we've dedicated for discussion in this morning's transit oriented article below, there's also a plethora of other interesting stuff in this morning's Standard-Examiner. We accordingly present for our readers' perusal the stories and columns which particularly caught our eye this morning:

The Standard-Examiner reports on the first of what we expect to be a long series of disappointing parole hearings for poor old convicted Ogden Ponzi scammer Val Southwick:
Southwick before parole board today
Thoughtful perspective from WSU's Provost Michael Vaughn, who presents a sound argument for a less parochial community mentality among citizens and politicians along the highly-urbanized Wasatch Front:
We live today in a metro Utah
Appearing on the Std-Ex front page is this Loretta Park story, informing us that the legislative GOP majority, with an eye toward our declining local economy, is quite serious about deeper and further budget 2009 budget cuts. We hope our local city governments watch closely, and at least consider following suit:
House asks for budget session
Last but not least: for Ogden City history buffs. Check out this morning's Wasatch Rambler column, wherein Charlie Trentelman reluctantly deflates another well cultivated and nurtured Ogden City urban myth:
Ogden madam and Brigham Young's carriage
The Std-Ex lays out a particularly interesting array of diverse topics in this morning's edition, we believe. It's in that connection that we invite your reader comments, and designate this a Tuesday afternoon open topic thread.

Ogden Streetcar Study Reaches the Next Milestone

With luck, all the preliminary spadework will be completed before the Federal Government goes broke

The Standard-Examiner reports that Ogden City has reached the next important milestone in its effort to initiate our city's street car study project, which has been creeping forward on the city agenda since May of this year. We incorporate Scott Schwebke's pertinent paragraphs to provide the gist:

OGDEN — The city council will consider tonight an agreement that defines the scope of a $750,000 study that may lead to a streetcar system along the downtown to Weber State University-McKay Dee Hospital corridor.
The agreement with the Utah Transit Authority calls for the city’s share of the study, which will include a transit-alternatives analysis and draft environmental impact review, to total $290,000.
Funding will come from $231,250 in Utah Transit Authority federal money pledged for local transportation studies and $58,750 is set aside in the city’s fiscal 2009 budget.
In addition, Weber State University will contribute $140,000.
Intermountain Health Care, which is the parent company of McKay-Dee Hospital, will provide $30,000.
The remaining $290,000 needed for the study will come from UTA.[...]
The UTA has hired Wilbur Smith Associates Inc., which has an office in Salt Lake City, to complete the transit-alternatives analysis and draft an environmental impact review.
Work should begin in the next few weeks and will be completed in June 2010, said Greg Scott, a transportation planner for the Wasatch Front Regional Council and co-project manager for the study.
“It (work) is always a little slower than you would hope, but it’s coming together well,” Scott said Monday
So let's see now. It's been a little over three years since the release of the 2005 Baker Study, which identified possible Intermodal Hub/McKay Dee transit corridors and recommended street cars as a best form of cross town public transit. And it's been almost a full four months since the city counsel passed a resolution joining with all the other aforementioned stakeholders to select a consultant and to fund the study, using that secret federal transportation grant money that our mendacious mayor had concealed from the council for over nine months. (We're assuming, by the way, that the council will vote to move forward tonight, now that we've reached this next milestone -- not an entirely safe assumption with Councilwoman Jeske out of action while she recuperates from her recent back surgery.)

"Slower than we hoped" is right. And then Ace Reporter Schwebke provides this encouraging information, leaving us to wonder just how many additional years all this preliminary spade-work will actually take:

A second, separate phase of the study will include the completion of a final environmental impact statement and preliminary engineering.
The cost and scope of work for that phase hasn’t been determined, said Bill Cook, the city council’s executive director.
Hoo boy! We suppose the best we can hope is that the U.S. government (Uncle Sugar - from whom we all hope to soak up substantial funding,) won't be broke by the time we get all our ducks lined up and enter the long queue, along with all the other cities looking for federal monies to fund their own street car systems.

And just as an aside... according to the most recent report, Boss Godfrey returns tomorrow from his European Street Car Study Junket. Anybody want to make a side bet on whether or not our Emerald City Mayor will return to town raving about street cars?

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ace Reporter Schwebke Reports on the Malan's Basin/Strongs Canyon Clearcuts

The reclusive property owner "clams up"

You asked for it... you got it. After much reader discussion on Weber County Forum over the past couple of weeks, the Standard-Examiner has finally latched onto the Chris Peterson Clearcuts story.

In this morning's Standard-Examiner report, Ace Reporter Schwebke demonstrates that he's made a noble yeoman's attempt to find out what's transpiring on Chris Peterson's mountainside Malan's Basin property, which borders Emerald City to the east. Mr. Schwebke reports that he's contacted every individual and government agency who could conceivably have an interest in the frenzied vegetation-obliterative activity which as been recently occurring in the Malan's Basin/Strong's Canyon area. Despite his efforts, Mr. Schwebke was able to dredge up very little information beyond that which our gentle readers were able to ferret out and deduce during two weeks of robust reader discussion. Nevertheless he earns an "A" for the effort, we think. Unfortunate readers who do not have a hard-copy edition of this morning's Std-Ex readily on hand can read this morning's Scott Schwebke story here:
Trees, brush cleared near Malan’s Basin
Mr. Schwebke would have made greater headway with this story, of course, if Mr. Peterson had been more forthcoming in his telephone interview with the diligent Std-Ex reporter. Yes, Mr. Schwebke was successful in reaching Mr. Peterson; and this is what the very tight-lipped Son-in-Law of a Billionaire said:
Peterson, in a brief phone conversation with the Standard-Examiner, declined to disclose the purpose of the clearing and wouldn’t say if the aim is to make way for a road leading to a Malan’s Basin resort.
“I don’t have any comment on that,” he said.
While we suppose its possible that Mr. Peterson may regard Mr. Schwebke and the lumpencitizens of Emerald City as merely "nosy neighbors," we nevertheless can't resist observing the vast difference between Mr. Peterson's stingy present public utterances, and those heady proclamations of the year 2005, when he and Blessed Boss Godfrey were running their non-stop Emerald City Gondola/Malan's Basin Ski Resort Public Dog & Pony Show.

Mr. Peterson's feeling a mite underappreciated these days, we suppose; and we guess its understandable that he's now "clammed up."

So what say our gentle readers about all this?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Std-Ex Editorial: Chief Greiner's Predicament

Dual legislative and law enforcement roles place Chief Greiner in a tight spot

The Standard-Examiner editorial board chimes in on the pending Jon Greiner Hatch Act matter this morning, predicting that the State Senator and Ogden Police Chief will prevail in his opposition to the complaint of the federal Office of Special Counsel, which seeks Greiner's removal from the office of Ogden Chief of Police:
The Hatch Act, enacted in 1939, oversees some political acts of state and local government officials. The OSC’s complaint claims that Greiner, as police chief, was responsible for managing and administrating four federal grants while competing for and winning the Senate District 18 seat.
In our opinion, the OSC charge is not accurate. We think Greiner has acted specifically within the law because Ogden city’s chief administrative officer, John Patterson, says he signs off on the federal grants received by the city’s police department.
We believe the Std-Ex is likely correct in its fact analysis and conclusions. In point of fact, it's apparent to us that Chief Greiner and Ogden City have devised a cautious Hatch Act Compliance Program, shielding Greiner from any acts which could be deemed "managing and administrating four federal grants."

Whether the Std-Ex is aware of it or not, there is also judicial precedent in this matter. In 2004, Henderson, Nevada Assistant Chief of Police and Nevada Assemblyman Richard Perkins was served a similar Office of Special Council complaint, under facts nearly identical to those in the Greiner case. The matter was adjudicated by Merit Systems Protection Board administrative law judge William G. Kocol in favor of Perkins. The Las Vegas Review Journal has a good September 14, 2005 writeup concerning that decision:
Judge rules Perkins didn't break federal law
As a matter of fact, we interviewed Chief Greiner in 2006, during the General Election ramp-up. Greiner informed us at that time that Ogden's Hatch Act Compliance program had been carefully modeled after the Henderson, Nevada program.

We'll thus cautiously join with the Std-Ex in our own prediction that Mr. Greiner will likely prevail in the pending action before the next Merit Systems Protection Board administrative law judge.. with this caveat: The decision of Judge Kocal isn't necessarily binding in a subsequent matter before any other MSPB judge, even in a case with nearly identical facts. The two cases ARE slightly distinguishable on the facts, by the way. Whereas Perkins had been the Henderson City Assistant Chief, who served as "acting chief" only from time to time, Greiner is the full time Chief of Police of Ogden City. Moreover, although the previously decided Perkins case provides precedent, we do not believe it provides binding legal precedent. Unhappily for Chief Greiner, we suspect a decision in his pending action depends as much upon the disposition of the sitting administrative law judge as the underlying facts and law in the matter.

Having said all this, we'll remind our readers that other issues have arisen with respect to this matter. The Std-Ex raises this objection to the duality ofGreiner's legislative and law enforcement management roles:
Ironically, the OSC complaint cannot force Greiner to give up his state senate seat. Even if he did so, it would not resolve the OSC action. Nevertheless, Greiner should reconsider his state senate duties, since they are restricting his ability, as Ogden police chief, to have a say on federal funds for his officers.
We want Greiner involved in all important duties as Ogden’s chief law enforcement officer.
And there remain still other and further issues. Potential conflict of interest, anyone? And what about the retirement double dipping issue? We know it's technically lawful... but is it right? And what about the argument that these Hatch Act restrictions, if rigorously applied, infringe upon Greiner's fundamental constitutional rights? Then there's the peripheral question of who exactly picks up Greiner's legal fees, whether or not Greiner prevails. Interestingly, in the Perkins case, it was Chief/Assemblyman Perkins himself (not the Office of Special Counsel OR the taxpayers of Henderson City) who eventually got stuck with the tab.

We think The Std-Ex's Calvin Grondal gets it mainly right. Right or wrong, Chief Greiner remains in a tight spot. It's a practical... as much as a legal problem, we think.

The WCF discussion floor is open. Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Big Sky Conference Football Season Ain't Over Yet

A Griz National Title victory next week will add to WSU's amazing "Street Cred"

Quick note to Weber State University football fans. This morning's Standard-Examiner reports that Wildcats nemesis and Big Sky Conference rival University of Montana whooped #1 rated James Madison in yesterday's FCS semifinal game, thereby earning a birth in the FCS National Championiship Title Game, set for next Friday in Chattanooga, TN. Here's today's writeup from The Missoulian:
Pardon me, boys: Griz punch ticket for FCS title game in Chattanooga after beating James Madison, 35-27
We don't know about the rest of you WSU fans; but for our own part we'll be sending our powerful psychic vibes to the guys on the Montana football squad, hoping for a decisive victory in Chattanooga.

The season ain't quite over... even for our 2008 WSU football team. A Grizzlies victory would enhance the bragging rights of the Wildcats, Big Sky co-champions, so far the only team to beat Montana during the 2008 season.

And yes. We recognize that some Grizzly fans behaved in a seemingly rude and unsportsmanlike manner, subsequent to their victory over WSU on December 6 (see reader comments to this 11/07/08 Std-Ex story.) What else could we expect, we ask, from certain non-charm schooled fans from Montana anyway, (if you know what we mean and we think your do.) Having said that, we recognise that "some" WSU fans haven't exactly behaved like angels either.

Nevertheless, a Grizzly victory in Chattanooga spells nothing but good for Big Sky Conference and Weber State Wildcats prestige, in the final analysis.

That's our story... and we're stickin' to it.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

The Standard-Examiner Touts its Two (Count 'Em, 2) Websites

Added WCF bonus: Yesterday's news today!

Why it seems like only yesterday that we, the cyber denizens of Weber County Forum, were involved in a thorough discussion of the Standard-Examiner, and the upgrades our home town newspaper has recently made to its StandardNet Live (free) and Digital Edition (paid subscription) websites. Hmmm... actually the discussion was the day BEFORE yesterday -- now that we think about it.

And now, (right on cue) here comes Std-Ex Editor Dave Greiling this morning, picking up on our earlier conversation and offering more fodder for discussion of the Std-Ex's online offerings, with this morning's most informative and timely "Behind the Headlines" column:
Web site changes a constant in changing business
Editor Greiling presents one danged fine nuts and bolts explanation of the differences between the two websites, and goes on to discuss the reasoning and rationale of newspaper management in offering these two distinctly different web products.

Mr. Greiling also gets into specifics as to the goal of the recent StandardNET site revamp. These are the objects the in-house programmer gnomes sought to achieve:
• Simplify, to make it easier to find items such as story comments, videos and links;
• Improve the visual impact and presentation; and
• Make the site faster.
For the most part, we think the Std-Ex has been successful in this endeavor. In our opinion the new site is far more straightforward and streamlined than the old one. It loads faster too, now that the "programmer gnomes" have seemingly prevailed over the "advertiser gnomes," and eliminated much of the user system resource unfriendly clutter from StandardNET pages. The only thing it seems to be lacking at this point... regular red meat content.

We also got a real kick out of this Mark Shenefelt comment:
Shenefelt said the reaction to the changes has been generally positive. He’s particularly pleased with the increased interactivity he sees with Web visitors.
Traffic is also up more than 60 percent since the redesign.
“There are great conversations on some of our stories. I’ve noticed a lot of new regulars, commenting daily and posting on more topics.”
It appears these heretofore stodgy print media newspapermen are just now learning the fundamental principle of the webosphere. If you make your most interesting material freely available online... and allow your readers to offer their own interactive comments, you'll find yourself well on your way to building a loyal and reliable online reader community.

And while we're cherry picking paragraphs, we'll focus on this article segment, which permits us to launch into another WCF-patented neck-snapping segue:
Our goal is to post the current day’s digital edition by 6 a.m. There are some technical bugs that we’re working through that have delayed posting on several days and caused some missing pages.
Yes, gentle readers, here are the two Weber County Forum-topical articles (missing pages) which the Std-Ex neglected to post in yesterday's StandardNet or Digital Edition versions. We link these especially for you, Gentle Reader Moroni McConkie:
Windsor demolition still on hold
Committee golf course suggestions in last stages
We were delighted to find these above two articles added (however belatedly) to the Std-Ex's Digital Edition database this morning, if only because they provide archival continuity.

The floor is open for reader comments. What's on your minds this Saturday morning?

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