Monday, March 30, 2009

Breaking: Salt Lake Tribune - Corruption in the 2007 Ogden Municipal Election? - UPDATED

One member of the Northern Utah print media finally picks up on the Envision Ogden money laundering story

The Standard-Examiner also belatedly gets into the act, with its own story appearing on its live website late last evening

Good news for those of us following the series of Envision Ogden political corruption stories which Dan S. earlier provided in our robust Envision Ogden Article Collection (scroll down). At long last a member of the Northern Utah print media has finally picked up on the story. Check out the just now breaking Salt Lake Tribune/Chris Smart writeup below:
Ogden city attorney: Campaign funding problem 'cured'
Interesting legal theory that Ogden City Attorney Gary Williams advocates. If one of Boss Godfrey's friends submits a false campaign financial disclosure statement, and then sits on it for seventeen months, the problem is miraculously cured by suddenly filing a truthful statement.

Notably, It's now been five weeks since the Standard-Examiner rejected Dan Schroeder's proposed op-ed on this subject:
Campaign Finance Reform Needed Right Here in Ogden - A Guest Commentary that the Standard-Examiner refused to print
Hard to believe it took so long to get this far. But persistence does pay off. Any bets on how long the Std-Ex will continue to ignore this story?

We'll urge our gentle readers to get involved in this story, and to post their own remarks in the comments section under this SLTrib article. If you're not already registered to post in the SLTrib comments section, please do so. It takes about thirty seconds, tops.

Now that this story is out in the open, it's important to make sure that it doesn't get buried again.

And when you get done posting on the Trib website, don't forget to leave a few comments here.

Update 3/31/09 7:30 a.m. MT: Too funny. After completely ignoring this story for over five weeks, the Standard-Examiner hurriedly published its own Scott Schwebke writeup on its live website last night, only hours after publication of the above Salt Lake Tribune story. Shamed into it, we guess. Here's the link:
Ogden city attorney: No action, campaign finances amended
In this connection, we urge our gentle readers to visit the Std-Ex site and to offer your ever-savvy comments there, for the benefit of the Std-Ex's online readers. Unlike the Tribune site, which requires a rudimentary online registration process, the Std-Ex site permits immediate posting under your chosen screen name, hampered only by a simple and user-friendly word verification system, designed to screen out bot-generated comments spam.

Have at it, O Gentle Ones.

What a pleasure it is, to see this story finally out in the open.

YouTube video: You Can't Make It In America Anymore

Is a new American lumpencitizen revolution in the works?

Inasmuch that it's another tediously slow Emerald City news day and all, we'll provide our readers with an opportunity to leapfrog from a Standard-Examiner lead editorial which appeared in yesterday's edition. The Std-Ex Editorial Board gets off to a danged good start in the lead paragraphs when they try to characterise the mood in America, even as the less economically advantaged are shuffled off to "the Governator's" 21st century version of Steinbeck's great depression-era labor camps, while the fat cat bankers in America rake in billions in bonuses:
"Who do we shoot?"
-- "Muley," in the film version of John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath."
Pitchfork politics. It sort of has a catchy ring to it, particularly if you're angry at the political and financial elite in our country.
And a lot of us are angry right now. That anger seems to be very bipartisan in nature. After all, not all of those AIG execs who thought they could grab a bonus on the sly can be Republicans. In fact, the two senators who received the most campaign money from AIG are the currently notorious Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and, ahem, President Obama, when he was the Democratic senator from Illinois.
The recession, or embryonic depression, or whatever you call it, has a lot of scapegoats. Wall Street, Congress, President Bush, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, Bear Stearns, Republicans, Democrats ... the list is endless. We should be outraged that the political and financial classes we trust to lead economic policy allowed blind faith in past financial history to supersede caution against an expanding, defenseless. mortgage-based credit bubble.
To put it straight, we've got a lot of fixing to do. Optimism, faith and hope -- all admittedly wavering at the moment -- will be necessary to get that fixing accomplished.
And from that point, the Editorial Board goes completely off-track, we believe, with this stanza, which finishes the above paragraph:
We can't get sidetracked with emotional, pitchfork anger. We're seeing too much of that from precisely those who should have cool heads.
From there, the editorial board goes even more haywire through the rest of the editorial, complaining about incivility, and of course the threats to the personal safety of those bastards who were set to receive the outrageous multi-million dollar bonuses, despite their appallingly bad business judgment. Not that we condone that, BTW.

Nevertheless, we're going to point out what Thomas Jefferson wrote about this, in of all places, the U.S. Declaration of Independence:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness, [Emphasis added}.
Get a grip, Standard-Examiner Editorial Board. Here's a great video we googled up a couple of days ago which we believe better expresses the lumpencitizens' anger and angst, than any of the corporo-fascist crap you can post in your editorials. It's not about ivory tower lefty-righty ideology. It's about the more basic and fundamental ideology of survival. We believe this excellent video may very well capture the sentiment of our times in America.

"We can't make it here anymore":

We don't know that this is the current mood of the lumpen proletariat across the country, but we have a strong sense that it may well be.

And if the politically-jaded Std-Ex Editorial Board chooses invoke a quote from that dastardly neoCON Robert Shapiro to the effect that current American sentiment is "a spasmodic outpouring of ideologically incoherent rage," we'll just add that the Standard and their neoCON friends from Sanduskey obviously have no concept of the "dark side" of American Democracy, in a land where agile and aggressive Americans still believe that their government should be of, by and for "the people."

Remember people, that what the Std-Ex derisively calls "pitchfork anger" is the exact same motivation which propelled American colonialists to throw over King George.

Don't ever think it couldn't happen again.

Reader comments are invited, as always.

UTA Streetcar Open House Update: Additional Opportunity for Citizen Input

Last chance to choose your preferred east-west Ogden streetcar corridor

In connection with the two UTA "scoping" open houses which were held in Ogden last week, on 3/24/09 and 3/26/09, we've just now received this helpful update from Dan S.:

For those who weren't able to attend the UTA open house meetings, here is their web page with the official notice and a link to the information packet. You can submit written comments any time before April 30, but I would strongly suggest getting them in by around April 10.

NOTICE OF PUBLIC SCOPING OPEN HOUSES - Ogden-Weber State University Transit Corridor Project
Among the items available on the above-linked page are the UTA excellent briefing materials which were provided at the live events:
Public Scoping Briefing Materials (PDF)
We urge those readers who were unable to attend these sessions to familiarize yourselves with these materials, and submit your own input, via the email and snail-mail addresses provided therein.

This is the lumpencitens' last chance for input, folks. Let's not blow it. Be sure to include your own names, addresses and contact information.

Special thanks to Dan S. for this timely and important update.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Print Newspapers: Fighting For Their Livelihoods in the Online Age

Perhaps even Editor Andy and his Std-Ex editor cohorts would benefit by taking a look at this

Informative Andy Howell piece in yesterday's Standard-Examiner, highlighting some of the strategies that our home town newspaper is adopting to transform itself into an internet multimedia platform, with the object of remaining relevant and profitable in the 21st century information age. Among other things, editor Andy mentions having been "contacted by a couple of people in the media industry wanting to know why the Standard-Examiner seems to be doing so much better than other newspapers in this economic climate."

Coincidentally, we also received a timely tip from one of our gentle readers yesterday, pointing toward a fine three-part article published Wednesday on one of our online favorites, the Utah Stories blog. Although Editor Andy wasn't specific, we're going to take a wild guess that it was the article's author, Leo Dirr, about whom Andy was referring above. Leo's put together a fine tome, which presents a broad overview of the challenges and difficulties the traditional print media. As an added bonus, Leo features the fruits of a recent Editor Andy interview, providing a brief glimpse into the Std-Ex's new game plan, as it struggles to survive and thrive in an era where the paper and ink format may very well go the way of the buggy whip. At risk of oversimplification, we believe Mr. Howell's below statement sums it all up:
"I think you'll see the Standard progress into an information/marketing company that produces a newspaper, rather than a newspaper that does all these other things on the side," he says.
You can read Mr. Dirr's most excellent three-part article series here:
Will Newspapers Survive? -- Print journalists are forced to fight for their livelihoods in the Online Age
While we're on the subject of the fate of print newspapers in the online information age, don't miss this morning's Wasatch Rambler column by the way, in which Emerald City journalistic treasure Charlie Trentelman "fights for his livelihood in the online age," and makes a strong case for the preservation of a media business model which would support paid reporters in well staffed newsrooms. We're going to go along with Charlie on this. Frankly, we don't know what we'd do without the vigorous reporting of Ace Reporter Schwebke, and a few other thoroughbred reporters in the Std-Ex stable. Seriously.

And for those readers interested in the whole enchilada, we provide a live link to Mark Potts' extremely interesting Recovering Journalist blogsite, which was referenced by Mr. Dirr in his above article. This site is entirely dedicated to a discussion of traditional media survival in the looming digital information age. Lots of interesting and topical stuff there. Perhaps even Editor Andy and his Std-Ex editor cohorts would benefit by taking a look at the material contained therein.

The floor's open, gentle readers.

You know what to do; do it in our lower comments section.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

YouTube Video: A REAL Leader

Please, may we in America borrow Daniel Hannon for just a bit?

By Danny

Some say that Ron Paul is what we need. But the man has zero charisma.

Some say that Republicans are what we need. But they have zero brass, zero courage for what they claim to believe in.

To see what we need, watch this video of a man who is right, has the courage to say it, and the talent to do it well.

A Real Leader:

Reader comments are invited, as always.

Yahoo News: Geithner's Toxic Debt Plan So Good, Citi and BofA Can't Wait to Get Started

The looting of the federal treasury appears to be continuing unabated, despite a change in presidential administrations

On Monday, we posted a brief article reporting on Treasury Secretary Geithner's "Public Private Investment Plan," whereby the U.S. government will "partner" with private investors to buy troubled (toxic) assets from troubled banks. We had our doubts, frankly, about the viability of Geithner's plan. In our final paragraph, we posed these questions:
Will the implementation of this plan result in an Obama-Geithner triumph of public-private partnership collaboration; or will the taxpayers wind up holding the bag once again (to the tune of another $ 1 trillion or so)? If an auction of these troubled assets is actually held, will ANY bidders actually show up? Will the holders of these assets be willing to send them at auction, or will they continue to "sit" on them, as they're doing now?
Thanks to yesterday's story from Yahoo News, our answers are already rolling in. According to yesterday's story, several giant U.S. banks are already loading up the truck with these "toxic" assets, in anticipation of giant future profits:
A "funny" thing is happening just as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner seems to have finally found a scheme to deal with banks' toxic debt: Some big banks are aggressively bidding for toxic debt in the open market.
Specifically "Citigroup and Bank of America have been aggressively scooping up those same securities in the secondary market," Mark DeCambre of The NY Post reported earlier this week. [...]
The banks contend they are helping to bring liquidity to the "frozen" mortgage-backed-securities market, as per their "marching orders" under the TARP program, DeCambre notes. [...]
A less generous interpretation is that Citi and BofA (among others, no doubt) are attempting to "front run" Geithner's program, which presumably will result in banks being able to unload these assets at prices above the current "depressed" market levels - leaving taxpayers on the hook for future losses.
Check out the full article here (includes an eye-opening video):
Geithner's Toxic Debt Plan So Good, Citi and BofA Can't Wait to Get Started
Despite a "change" in presidential administrations, the looting of the federal treasury appears to be continuing unabated.

U.S. Taxpayers = Bagholders.

KUTV News: Financial Trouble For Mall Owner, Contractor Stops Work

Four General Growth Properties shopping centers across the country have gone into foreclosure within the past month

You won't find this news in the Standard-Examiner. It's not even available in the Trib.

The owner of Newgate Mall is reportedly in deep financial trouble:
Financial Trouble For Mall Owner, Contractor Stops Work
If true, it's obviously significant for Ogden.

While emperor Godfrey obsesses upon his latest knuckle-headed pipe dream, Ogden's existing business infrastructure continues to crumble.

A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to gentle reader Mono for the tip.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Envision Ogden 2007 Municipal Election Corruption Update

Two Godfreyite 2007 city council candidates admit receiving laundered campaign contributions

If this isn't blockbuster Emerald City news, NOTHING is.

We received this press release from Weber County Forum contributor Dan Schroeder yesterday:
Dan's press release also included a link to a series of other documents, which we'll post here under its original title (scroll down):
City Correspondence Packet
The significance of the material in yesterday's press release, it seems to us, is that it moves the allegations made in Dan's two previous articles (read the previous articles here and here) from the realm of speculation and tedious evidentiary proof, to a circumstance where both 2007 council candidates Eccles and Johnson admit that some $20,000 of campaign contributions were funnelled from Envision Ogden, who staged a public property situated fundraiser on June 15, 2007, circuitously through a "straw man" donor (Friends of Northern Utah Real Estate), into their own 2007 council campaigns.

The significance of Dan's City Correspondence Packet, for the most part as we see it, is to illustrate the lengths that Godfrey's people will go to to shield these Godfreyite candidates from the legal consequences of their own apparent money laundering scheme.

Aside from these above editorial comments, we're publishing all this data in raw form.

We'll leave it to our gentle readers to decide the true meaning of these latest revelations.

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Std-Ex Guest Commentary: Mount Ogden Golf Course is Played Often

If it ain't broken, don't reckon you need to worry bout fixin' it

Just to kick off our end of week Weber County Forum discussion, we're delighted to highlight this morning's Standard-Examiner guest commentary, by Catherine Feeny, a life-long Ogden resident who has been a warhorse local political activist since the time your blogmeister was in kneepants, and Boss Godfrey was merely a twinkle in his daddy's eye:
Mount Ogden Golf Course is played often
The author provides her own comparative data relative to golf course usage in the Ogden area, together with some common sense commentary and analysis, along with sage advice to Boss Godfrey, in connection with his soon to be proposed $70 million+ golf course makeoever:

"Skip the devious subterfuge,"
admonishes Mrs. Feeny.

To sum it all up, we'll invoke one of our standby sayings from our collection of cowboy wisdom axioms: "If it ain't broken, don't reckon you need to worry bout fixin' it."

Reader comments are invited as always. And be nice. Suffice it to say that Mrs. Feeny happens to be a VERY special friend of ours.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Nagging UTA Open House Reminder # 152

One last chance to submit your streetcar corridor preferences

Once again we'll provide a brief reminder of this morning's UTA open house, scheduled for the below indicated time and place:

March 26, 2009 - 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. - WSU Student Union Building

For those readers who were unable to attend Tuesday evening's event, today's "meet-up" affords the opportunity to play a little "catch-up."

For our readers' convenience we also link gentle reader Historically Inaccurate's earlier comment, which provides ample ammo to counter any argument that 25th Street's historical designation rules out 25th/26th as viable east-west routes.

We''ll follow the same process re today's event as we did with respect to the one on Tuesday, and invite any readers who'd like to offer their comments about today's event, to do so in the thread beneath this article.

Std-Ex: Condos, Hotel May Be Part of Golf Course

Boss Godfrey's Mt. Ogden Golf Course boondoggle projected to cost "somebody" $70 million

By Monotreme

Wonderful and timely article on the golf course proposal in this morning's Standard-Examiner.

Luckily, I had a week's warning that it was coming thanks to WCF.

Two quick thoughts:

1. Only in some sort of alternate universe do we save money by spending $70M. Our mayor asserts that no Ogden taxpayer funds are on the hook, but this is at odds with what is said elsewhere in the article.

2. The Std-Ex continues its "policy" of not asking actual questions of city officials. Let me make this plain. If the city's chief administrator claims that "he doesn't know" how much was spent on the marketing study for the hotel/condo, then either: a) he is lying or b) he is incompetent. It's really as simple as that. If a), it's unacceptable because these are my tax dollars at "work". If b), it's unacceptable because these are my tax dollars at "work". Mr. Schwebke, it is your responsibility to find out how much was spent. Editorial Board, it's your responsibility to point out the folly of this proposal in your editorial pages, and strongly denounce the second-grade stonewalling tactics used by Mr. Peterson. If he's going to lie and say "he doesn't know", then ask, "Hey, could you look that up and get back to me?" If he doesn't, then put his feet to the fire.

Ed. Note: For the convenience of our readers, we've uploaded a map graphic from the Std-Ex Digital Edition, showing Boss Godfrey's proposed changes, in relationship to the existing course. (Click image to enlarge.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Two Terrific Politico-economic Rants!

Two top-notch rants submitted by several gentle WCF readers

1) Listen up! This is definitely one GREAT rant:
We The People Stimulus Package (YouTube video 6:35)
2) And while we're on the subject of cranky rants, be sure to check out this most excellent reader-submitted expose' style article submitted to us over the past several days by no fewer than five (5) gentle readers. While we've been heretofore reluctant to post this on our exceedingly family-friendly community blog, due to seemingly unnecessary potty-mouth terminology which might offend our more prudish readers... here's the really weird thing... the most interesting politico-economic commentary which has appeared in the webosphere in recent days (to our knowledge) ...comes from the venerable counter-culture icon ...Rolling Stone Magazine, of all places. Go figure. This one is a definite "must read":
The New Trough
Robust reader comments are invited, as always, especially from "grownups."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dunning Reminder: UTA Open House Set For This Afternoon @ Ogden's Eccles Conference Center - UPDATED

A rare opportunity for the lumpencitizens to override Boss Godfrey's contrarian political influence

For those readers who may have failed to put it on their calenders, we'll issue a reminder of today's Utah Transit Authority open house, at which Ogden City residents will have the opportunity to provide direct input on their preferred east-west streetcar route:

March 24, 2009 - 4 to 7 p.m. - Ogden Eccles Conference Center

In this connection, we'll again direct your attention to Shalae Larsen's March 20 Standard-Examiner online op-ed piece, which makes an eloquent case for the 25th Street alignment. A slightly edited version also appears on today's Std-Ex editorial page.

As gentle reader George K. noted in a comment under one of our earlier articles, the importance of a robust citizen turnout for these open houses can't be over emphasized:

The reason UTA and other officials are favoring 30th St. (which UDOT will not approve because of the money spent on widening it a few years ago) and 36th St. is because Godfrey has influenced them. But regardless of what they are saying now, they have to listen to public input and it has as much if not more weight than the Mayor’s wishes on the route. That is why it is so important to attend the public open houses this coming Tuesday (at the Conference Center, 4 PM to 7 PM) and at the WSU Union Bldg. Thursday 12 Noon to 1 PM. Be sure to give your thoughts on where the route should be, whether you would support mass transit and what mode you would support. The outcome of the alternative analysis depends on public support.
As our knuckleheaded mayor continues to abuse his position and pushes for his two more southerly east-west streetcar corridors, the lumpencitizens have been furnished a rare opportunity to override his contrarian political influence. Let's not blow it.

Hopefully, steely-eyed Ogden City citizens will show up at today's open house event en masse, torches and pitchforks in hand.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

Update 3/24/09 7:00 p.m.: Now that this afternoon's UTA public transit open house is in the "past tense," we'd like to invite comments from any readers who attended the event. Any information you can provide will be useful for those of us who intend to participate in Thursday's WSU open house. Gentle Curmudgeon has already headed off the discussion and posted his own impressions in the comments section below. We encourage you to follow suit, and likewise provide your own further comments and observations.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Powder Mountain Update: Tantalizing Rumors From the Weber County Rumor Mill

A possible "farewell kiss" to Doktor Cobabe, et. al., from Weber County Attorney Mark Decaria?

Ogden Valley Forum reports that there's something stirring in the "Powderville" corporate fascist governnment v. Powderville American Citizen stalemate. Rumors are circulating that something mysterious is happening in and around Powderville. Here's the lede from today's OVF article:
We understand there may be some ongoing action with regard to Powder Mountain, aka Powderville. You may recall the Powdervillians have been called "flippers," and they may be flipping as we speak.
We have only heard bits and pieces of rumors (from reliable sources) at this point, but we invite you to click on the links below to refresh your memory of the saga that has been a hot news story the past couple of years.
The OVF blogmeister doesn't actually come out and say it, but here's some additional information we're getting from some of OVF's reliable sources, and others: The current owner of the Powder Mountain Resort has evidently run into the kind of inevitable trouble that has been evidenced recently by developer "bigshots" all across the globe, whose lines of credit have run out. Powder Mountain is 4 sale, according to what we deem to be extremely reliable sources.

What's more, we're told, there's a prospective buyer (sucker) all lined up, who's in the process of doing its "due diligence."

If this is true... it's probably time for our Weber County Attorney to deliver the legal "coup de gras." Kick 'em when they're down, we admonish, with considerable legal and "street" experience in re this subject.

Time for a "motion for summary judgment" from DeCaria's office, we think.

Time for DeCaria to administer "the last kiss of death" to the evil Mark Arnold, and the corporo-fascists of Powder Mountain, before DeCaria assumes his new position on the Ogden City Second District Court bench.

One last bold and devastating "kiss," Mr. DeCaria... that's all we ask.

After that, you can become the moderate and temperate judge we all expect you to be.

Treasury Unveils Details of Plan to Relieve Banks of Toxic Assets

The keystone feature of this plan: U.S. taxpayer guarantees

Treasury Secretary Geithner's long awaited $1 trillion "Public Private Investment Plan," whereby the U.S. government will offer hundreds of billions of dollars in equity and loan guarantees to investors who bid against one another to buy troubled (toxic) assets from banks, was unveiled this morning. The Washington Post has the story:
Treasury Unveils Details of Plan to Relieve Banks of Toxic Assets
The plan is apparently a big hit on Wall Street -- so far, at least. The Dow is up a full 327 points as we post this article. Similar "optimism" was evidenced earlier today in the global stock markets.

Other observers are not so sure. For example, the Wake Up America blog fairly well encapsulates the viewpoint of the skeptics:
This is similar in nature to fraudulent schemes that promise "what's inside the bag is worth $1 million, unless you open the bag".
In this case there may be a few "good bags" similar in nature to salting the mine schemes, but for the most part everyone knows what's in the bag is toxic garbage. What really makes no sense whatsoever is why the government would risk 97% with shared "upside" instead of just buying it all.
Somehow, Geithner (and Obama by implication) believes that igniting a bidding war between hedge funds and private equity over a bag of cow manure will inspire confidence that there's gold in the bag. Such insanity cannot possibly work, which means it won't.
The keystone feature of this plan is of course the U.S. taxpayer guarantees. Today, the markets seem to be anticipating a mad scramble by hedge funds and other private investors to pick up "assets" which were regarded as "poisonous" only yesterday.

So gentle readers, we'll pose the obvious questions: Will the implementation of this plan result in an Obama-Geithner triumph of public-private partnership collaboration; or will the taxpayers wind up holding the bag once again (to the tune of another $ 1 trillion or so)? If an auction of these troubled assets is actually held, will ANY bidders actually show up? Will the holders of these assets be willing to send them at auction, or will they continue to "sit" on them, as they're doing now?

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

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Morning Standard-Examiner News Roundup

Our home town newspaper: Well worth the subscription price, warts and all

By Curmudgeon

For all that the Standard-Examiner often falls short of the standard some of us, myself included, would like to see it meet, it is also true I think that most of the grousing has to do with the SE's coverage of Ogden and Weber County political matters, and in particular, its coverage of Ogden's municipal government. Being your basic policy-&-politics wonk, I understand [and often share] the frustration in re: the SE's local political coverage.

However, the paper covers a great deal more than just local politics, and this morning's front page is a good example of why it's well worth subscribing still. There are three main stories, all local, all important, all well worth reading. The first, "Drug Database Use Up" by Jesse Fruhwirth, reports on increasing use of a state-run drug prescription database to limit "doctor shopping" by drug abusers.

The second story , by Loretta Park, headlined "1 in 30 Students Homeless", talks about the [for me] shocking number of school children in N. Utah who are homeless, and the consequences of that for their education and health. The story says that in any given N. Utah classroom, one child doesn't know where he or she is going to sleep that night with any certainty. One in every classroom. The story focuses on overwhelmingly Republican Davis County. This in particular caught my eye:
Davis County, in general, has a difficult time admitting there are adults, let alone children, who are homeless, McKinnon said. "Davis County's dirty, little secret is sending their homeless to Salt Lake or Ogden," he said. "Cities in Davis County believe something should be done and somebody ought to do it, just not our city. People seem to think the homeless arrive from out of town. "They are our children and our neighbor's children. They live here because this is their home."
Finally, also on the front page, Charles Trentelman [who covers water issues for the SE], reports on March being a disastrous water-month for the Top of Utah, and on resulting significantly reduced estimates of the spring runoff. Much in it worth reading, knowing about, thinking about.

And inside, a story about how mandatory fees are hiking the cost of attending public high schools in Ogden and in Weber County.

The news is not all about the Mayor and Council, not even in Ogden. And however annoyed I may get about how the SE handles a particular story [or more to the point, doesn't] about Ogden's municipal government, the paper still reports, regularly and often well, much worth knowing about the Top of Utah in general, and about Weber County and Ogden in particular. Today's issue is a good example. Well worth the subscription price, warts and all.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The "Missing Link" Per the Std-Ex: A Trusted and Community-committed Ogden City Advocate Argues Eloquently for Common Sense

Another example of how all the smart people in Emerald City are all pushing for street car public transit

We'd like to spotlight this very fine op-ed piece on the Standard-Examiner live website from yesterday morning, by Shalae Larsen, uber Ogden City community advocate and a par excellence example of how the smart people in Emerald City are all pushing for street car public transit. This article is so well written that we won't even try to carve out the most powerful paragraphs. They're ALL powerful in cascading sequence. Just read up. Here's the link again:
The missing link
Reader comments are invited, as always.

Consider this a kickoff article to a weekend open thread.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Golf Course Plans Include Condos on City and WSU Land

A sneak peek at the golf course committee's true purpose

by Dan Schroeder

Nearly 10 months after the formation of the city's "independent" (i.e., under the mayor's control) golf course committee, its true purpose is becoming clear.

Last week, in response to a GRAMA request from Bill C., the city reluctantly released copies of the latest conceptual plans for a redesigned Mt. Ogden Golf Course. I was able to take photos of the two plans, which I've reduced to a manageable size for Weber County Forum readers (click images to enarge):
Golf Course Plan Option A
Golf Course Plan Option B
These plans are, of course, preliminary, and we were told that a new revision is currently underway. Nevertheless, these plans presumably reflect the general goals of the committee and the mayor.

As we anticipated, both plans call for a complete reconstruction and rerouting of the course, to accommodate the relocation of the clubhouse to the south end, where it would be accessed from the top of 36th Street. Both plans would entail clearing some of the larger forested and brush-covered areas within the course. And both plans include a significant southward expansion onto land owned by WSU.

Regarding WSU, we should recall the official university statement that Curmudgeon posted here last week:
The following caveats should be mentioned regarding use of WSU land. First, any land used for the golf course should be located in the "no-build" zone of campus (identified in a recent seismic study) or in adjacent areas determined to be undevelopable for university functions. Second, the WSU land should primarily remain as green space. Golf holes or a driving range would be deemed as appropriate uses. Third and finally, any existing WSU buildings or infrastructure that are displaced by the golf course expansion would need to be relocated to other parts of the campus at no cost to the university.
How do the plans measure up to these three constraints? Both plans would indeed require relocation of the two WSU service buildings located above 36th Street, presumably at a cost of several million dollars. The "no-build" zone includes these buildings (which wouldn't have been constructed there under today's seismic safety standards) and a bit of surrounding land, but does not extend much farther south. Both plans, however, would extend the driving range somewhat south of the no-build zone, while Option B would put a golf green still farther south, at the tentative location of a future WSU building. Option B would also require relocating a portion of 36th Street and eliminating a WSU parking area.

The main conflict, however, is with the second of WSU's criteria. Both plans show several acres near the clubhouse occupied by new condominiums, with some of these condos spilling onto WSU-owned land. (I've highlighted the WSU property boundary in purple on the maps.) Option A even shows the clubhouse itself (which is also a hotel) and its parking lot on WSU land. While the mayor would undoubtedly argue that the use of WSU land is still "primarily" for green space, it seems unlikely that WSU would see it that way.

Neither plan shows what would become of the trails that currently pass through the development area. Even if new trail alignments can be found, their character would be profoundly different.

In any case, it's now clear that the mayor hopes to finance the golf course reconstruction, at least in part, through the sale or lease of a portion of the city's land for condominium development. The city's portion of the proposed development area coincides, at least roughly, with the area that was conspicuously omitted from the restrictive covenant document that the mayor signed just before the 2007 election.

What isn't so clear is whether such a scheme is economically feasible--especially with the added expense of relocating the two large WSU buildings. Also, remember that WSU considers most of this area to be a "no-build" zone, and the Wasatch Fault extends northward onto the city's property as well. Working around active fault traces would significantly limit the amount of buildable land, and hence the number of condos.

So for many reasons, I'm not predicting that anything like these plans will ever be implemented. But there's still one big reason why Ogden residents should be concerned: We're already paying for a new water system to facilitate these developments. The city is about to replace the two existing water tanks with a larger and higher tank on the north side of Strong's Canyon, with a second tank higher still. These new tanks would provide plenty of water pressure for the entire development depicted in these plans, and also free up the location of the existing tanks for condominium development. And we're paying for all of it through our increased utility bills.

Thanks, mayor, for wasting our money on yet another of your fantasies.

Facts Which Ace Reporter Schwebke Did Not Report

Emerald City work session notes - 3/19/09

By George K.

I was appalled when I read the article, ”A Michael Jackson nose on the hillside”, by Charles Trentelman in the Standard-Examiner this morning! Scott’s Schebke provided a separate article this morning, ”Ogden City Council to governor: Veto CO detector bill”, reporting on the issue of smoke detectors, but did not mention that council members at last night's work session were also concerned that work they had approved for the water tanks at the top of 46th Street (that service the Shadow Valley area where water pressure is extremely low) was being accomplished on the water tanks at the top of 36th Street without their knowledge and approval. Maybe he didn’t report it because he left the work meeting at a critical point of the discussion between city staff and the council. He also did not report that several council members were concerned that the work being accomplished at the top of 36th Street was also to allow the modifications to the golf course that Godfrey wants. Of course, city staff including John Patterson tried to deny or ignore the questions of some council members. Public Services Director, George Benford, was the only one who truthfully spoke of the water tanks fiasco and gave an explanation for the work on the 36th Street tanks instead of the 46th Street tanks.

The city did it to the council again – left them out of the loop and then tried to make excuses for doing so. The council had requested that Godfrey be at the work meeting to answer questions and concerns of the council and at least some members were under the impression that he would be there, but the coward was not there! No mention was made as to why he wasn’t there, but Scott Schwebke’s article gave the Mayor’s side of the work being done.

Mr. Gilbert Wallace assured that the trail system would be better than it is now after the work is done and shade trees would line the trail system again.

It was the impression of this person that it was rather disgusting how the council fell for another snow job by the administration.

Std-Ex Editorial: The Senate Pauses on HB 201

Rep. Gage Froerer, and the Ogden Valley victims of HB466, should continue the fight to stop "Powder Mountain Town."

Another fine Standard-Examiner editorial this morning, on a topic that's been a passion of ours here at Weber County Forum of late:
OUR VIEW: The Senate pauses on HB201
Bravo, Editorial Page Editor Doug Gibson and the Std-Ex editorial board.

Rep. Gage Froerer, and the Ogden Valley victims of HB466, should continue the fight to stop "Powder Mountain Town."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ogden Knights Meet Their New Fans

Ogden's new arena football team takes time out to thank its fans and sponsors at last night's Union Station charity dinner

By Wm M.

Last night, gentle reader disgusted posted this comment in the comments section beneath the previous WCF article.

What he was witnessing was the kick-off celebration dinner for the Ogden Knights arena football team. The Standard-Examiner has the story up on its live website this morning:
Knights meet their new fans
They have had a few office locations scattered around Ogden for the past 6 months or so. They have finally settled into permanent offices at 1781 Washington Blvd.

Knights games start in the next few days and most players are Northern Utah products.

Home games are being played at the Golden Spike Event Center.

I hope Ogdenites will support the team and let's wish them future success.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More Action at Ogden City's 12th & Wall - UPDATED

Is the Commons at Ogden shopping center project about to fold?

Intriguing Scott Schwebke story this morning, about that Commons at Ogden shopping center project, which has been optimistically slated for construction at 12th and Wall. The project seems to have developed a glitch, involving the project's anticipated anchor tenant, as Mr. Schwebke reports:
OGDEN -- The city council agreed Tuesday night to rezone about 21 acres at the southwest corner of 12th Street and Wall Avenue for a big-box grocery store despite a possible snag with the project.
The Utah Department of Transportation won't install a traffic light at 14th Street and Wall Avenue, said Spencer Wright, a project manager for Wright Development, which is undertaking the proposed Commons at Ogden shopping center project.
As a result, it's unclear whether WinCo Foods, based in Boise, Idaho, will move ahead with construction of a 95,000-square-foot store that would anchor the shopping center, Wright said. [...]
A stoplight is needed at 14th Street and Wall Avenue to allow motorists traveling north and south to safely access WinCo's parking lot, Wright said.
However, a light at that location isn't feasible because it's too close to a traffic signal at 12th Street and Wall Avenue, said Vic Saunders, a public involvement manager for UDOT.
Yet strangely, the ever optimistic Boss Godfrey doesn't seem to recognize any problem at all, despite the red flag raised by Mr. Wright:
City Council Vice Chairwoman Caitlin K. Gochnour asked Mayor Matthew Godfrey during Tuesday's night's meeting whether UDOT was cooperating with Wright Development regarding the shopping center project.
"It's going well with UDOT," Godfrey said, responding to Gochnour's question.
One thing ya gotta love about Boss Godfrey is his constant and unflagging optimism.

As regular WCF readers will recall, the city council has already earmarked a cool $1 million in capital improvement funds toward this project. However, according to Richard McConkie, these funds haven't yet been released, due to a purported "contingency":
However, none of the funds have been allocated because WinCo hasn't signed a contract with Wright Development, said Richard McConkie, the city's deputy director of community and economic development.
What's really interesting here is the seemingly sheer flakiness the legal relationships of all the interested parties to this transaction. Even though WinCO Foods remains yet contractually uncommitted to building its mega grocery store, Wright Development has nevertheless reportedly expended "a considerable amount of money for environmental cleanup of the property," (no doubt in anticipation of reimbursement by the city.) Even more strangely, Wright Development's own interest in the property amounts to a mere "purchase option," rather than rights which would derive from a proper purchase agreement. Moreover, throughout the relatively thorough Std-Ex reporting of this project, there's been no mention of a "development agreement" between Wright Development and Ogden City, or any other party for that matter, which leads us to wonder whether the ultimate allocation of the council's $1 million is actually subject to any legally enforceable contingencies at all. The fact that the Std-Ex hasn't mentioned a development agreement of course doesn't mean that such an agreement doesn't exist. Still, reference to such an agreement is conspicuous in its absence from the Std-Ex's generally good reporting to date.

If indeed it's true that Wright has already spent significant money on this project in the absence of any written documents to protect its interests, it's put itself well out on a limb... which raises the next couple of questions:

Is Wright Development depending on an unwritten "handshake deal" with the Godfrey administration? Has the administration made behind the scenes verbal representations which might be enforceable under the law of torts, rather than the law of contracts, in the event that this project folds? It's difficult for us to believe that a competent developer would be expending significant monies on a half-baked project like this unless it had some assurances of reimbursement in the event the "expected" anchor tenant were to pull the plug. Are we witnessing here the first murmurings of the next Godfrey centered lawsuit, in the event that WinCo Foods takes a pass on this project?

So many questions... so few answers.

Perhaps a few Ogden City connected readers can fill in the blanks on this story.

Comments are again invited on this otherwise slow news Wednesday morning.

Update 3/18/09 1:20 p.m. MT: Gentle reader Monotreme "axed" for it... and thanks to the efforts of yet another attentive and sharp-eyed WCF reader who alerted us to this... here's the graphic contribution of one WCF poster who without a doubt responds to mono's siren call for a good and well-executed UDOT poster for permanent display above Boss Godfrey's desk:

We have a good thing going on here at Weber County Forum. No doubt about it. Don't withhold your gentle comments, fellow lumpencitizens.
Merely because you may have a St. Paddy's Day hangover, after gulping down multiple liters of of green beer and a few dozen shots of Jamesons or Bushmills on Two-five Drive yesterday (hopefully at Brewskis or the City Club, where they'll limo you home when you're "in you cups.") ... along with our new cranky poster Svengali ... Please don't just clam up!

Time to clear out the cobwebs, people.

REAL Irishmen always get up fresh-faced in the morning, prepared to carry on The Revolution.

More cranky comments, please.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Trentelman: Another Newspaper Bites the Dust

Cheers to Charlie Trentelman for raising an important issue

Here's a heads-up to a fine blog article on Ogden City journalistic legend Charlie Trentelman's most excellent Standard-Examiner blog:
Another one bites the dust
As an added bonus, Gentle Weber County Forum reader Curmudgeon adds his own most savvy comments under Charlie's blog story.

The above is one link you won't want to miss.

We'll join with Charlie and Curmudgeon 100% in agreement with the both of them in saying we're distressed about recent failures of established newspapers. We hope our beloved home town newspaper (lovingly dubbed the "Gondola Examiner") won't be the next to close their doors, even though we loath the loathsome "Suits from Sanduskey," who don't have the slightest clue about what a community newspaper should be all about.

We also believe Std-EX publisher Gondola Boy Lee Carter should be ridden out of town on a rail, adorned with appropriate hot asphalt and chicken feathers. Once this Godfreyite lackey is ushered out of town, the professional journalists at the Std-Ex might even be able to get back to work being good professional journalists, and saving our home town newspaper.

Let's face it folks. Accurate news reporting will go down the toilet if the traditional print media like the Std-Ex fail.

We do our best here at Weber County Forum to promote robust conversation about all political issues surrounding local politics. Never forget however... we depend on traditional news sources, who actually pay their reporters to dig out and report the facts.

We'll reiterate that we consider ourselves to be merely a supplement to the Standard-Examiner (and other traditional news sources,) when it comes to having a community discussion about the "reported facts."

Cheers to Charlie Trentelman for raising this important issue.

We're most definitly not humble here on Weber County Forum. Nevertheless, we do understand our very unique public information and discussion niche.

Savvy reader comments are invited, as always.

Rep. Froerer's HB 201: A Victim of Senate GOP Leadership's Parliamentary Dirty Tricks

Waddoups adjourns early, rather than risking a full Senate floor vote

The Standard-Examiner provides more detail this morning on House District 8 Gage Froerer's HB 201, which was unceremoniously killed by Senate GOP leaders during the last minutes of the 2009 legislative session. Reporter DeMoss adds a new wrinkle to the story, reporting that the bill was next in line for consideration by the full Senate, with an adequate number of Senate votes already lined up, when the Senate President Waddoups apparently brought down the gavel to adjourn the session. From this morning's story:
HB 201 passed the House on a vote of 52-to-17 on March 6. When the Senate ended its 2009 general session last Thursday, an hour before required, it was the next bill scheduled to be heard. [Emphasis added]
Eden resident and prospective "Powdervillian" Darla VanZeben was present in the Senate on Thursday night, (along with an entourage of concerned Ogden Valley residents.) She offers her own observations about the behavior of Senate GOP Leadership, and the last-minute parliamentary maneuvering;s which led to the killing of the bill. Without specifically naming names, Ms. VanZeben nevertheless lays the blame exactly where it belongs:
"We were terribly disappointed in some of the leadership of the Senate in particular," said Darla VanZeben, an Eden resident and outspoken opponent of Powder Mountain town. "There was a way to restore rights to the citizens, and they elected not to hear it."
Incorporating remarks from Representative Froerer, Mr. DeMoss's narrative alludes to "powerful lobbying interests" which, with the help of Senate GOP leadership, ultimately outmaneuvered HB 201 proponents on Thursday night:
Froerer said the same lobbying interests that brought the 2007 legislation "were heavily invested in me not being successful" with HB 201 this year.
"Some people worked very hard to ensure we had enough votes in the Senate," he said. "I felt comfortable we had the votes, but there were obviously some larger powers in play."
And exactly WHO were these "larger powers in play," whose main object amounted to leaving the folks of Powderville under the thumb of a prospective corporate dictatorship? Mr. Demoss provides the answer:
The Utah League of Cities and Towns, the only group to testify against the bill in a committee hearing this year, opposes removing the two-year waiting period.
"We've consistently supported the concept of a waiting period," said Roger Tew, a lobbyist for the group. "Before drastic changes are made to undo often contentious decisions, you need an opportunity to see the results of those decisions."
So there you have it folks. When well prepared advocates of American democracy were ready to square off on Thursday night against the lobby of the real estate development fatcats, Senate GOP leaders sided with the fatcats, closed off discussion of HB 201 and shut down the legislative session an hour early. Senate GOP leadership knows exactly which side of the bread gets the butter, after all.

And parenthetically, you just have to love the lower quote from GOP Senate Majority Whip Scott Jenkins. Jenkins is the single member of Senate GOP leadership elected from Weber County, and the one locally-elected member of the Senate who probably had the requisite political clout to move this matter to the forefront. Unfortunately Senator Jenkins instead chose to sit on his thumbs, rather than help restore the voting rights of a small group of Weber County citizens:
Senate Majority Whip Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, said it's easy to blame the Senate, but the House also delayed action on the bill until less than a week before the end of the session.
What the hell. The politically disenfranchized citizens of Ogden Valley aren't Jenkins's constituents anyway. Better to let Rep. Froerer and Sen. Allen Christensen take the political heat. Right?

Just for the record, we're informed by several Powderville citizens, by the way, that Rep. Froerer and Sen. Christensen had something like 18 or 19 Senate votes all lined up. That's why Waddoups pulled the plug and ended the session early.

The floor is open for our readers' reaction to these latest HB 201 revelations.

Monday, March 16, 2009

How to Spot Atheists and Report Them to the FBI

Red-blooded helpful hints from a preacher friend of ours for identifying the traitors living like cockroaches in our midst

By Rev. Billy Bob

Informative article from one of my favorite patriotic Christian websites:
How to Spot Atheists and Report Them to the FBI
Watch out for them infernal humanists, agnostics, secular-humanists, moral relativists, Catholics, free-thinkers, undecideds, Unitarians, Post-graduates, Wiccans, Vegans, Yogists, and especially, Readers of Science.

They're all up to "no good" in America, and must be carefully watched.

Thank you very much for your time, my fellow red-blooded patriotic Americans.

We're The Government... And You're NOT

A helpful educational video from the US Department of Homeland Propaganda

Remember: We must all TRY to be good citizens.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Std-Ex: New Emerald City Program to Reward Employees For Cost Saving Ideas

Post and assemble your budget buttressing ideas right here

Right there at the top of the front page, the Standard-Examiner breathlessly provides the lowdown on a new Emerald City cost savings measure this morning, under the headline banner, "Money saving ideas?" (Regular Weber County Forum readers, of course already knew about this.) Ace reporter Schwebke's lead paragraphs provide the gist:
OGDEN — Innovative city employees could earn significant cash rewards for cost-saving ideas under a new municipal program rolling out in the next two weeks.
The purpose of the program is to provide incentives to workers whose suggestions result in improved, more efficient city operations, said Mark Johnson, Ogden’s management services director.
“Who better to come up with ideas than those people in the trenches?” he said. “They see things that management never sees.”
The maximum monetary award to an employee is 20 percent of the first year’s realized cost savings and 10 percent of the second year’s savings.
The program won’t be funded through new tax payer dollars — rather, Johnson said, awards paid to employees will come from increased revenue or savings to the city. The initiative is patterned after similar employee cost-saving efforts in Oregon, Virginia and Washington.
For our own part, we think this is a danged good idea; and we're delighted to see the Godfrey administration seeking ways to save money, rather than merely to spend it. That's a man bites dog story in itself, we think. Hopefully more than a few of the drones "in the trenches" will reap lucrative financial rewards as a result of this new program. In the wake of municipal departmental budget cuts in recent days, heavens knows many of our hard-working city employees could use an additional financial shot in the arm.

In that connection (and due the fact that's an exceedingly s-l-o-o-o-w news day) we came up with a great idea. How 'bout we, the gentle readers of Weber County Forum, lend our Ogden City employee "trench dwellers" a helping hand? We spend much of our time here on WCF identifying and exposing Godfrey administration cost inefficiencies. This seems an ideal opportunity to put our readers' good ideas to work. WCF readers are all good-hearted and civic minded folks, to the last man-jack. How about the idea of assembling all the clever cost saving ideas that we can come up with and laying them out in one place... namely our lower comments section? Come one come all, submit your budget buttressing ideas.

Here's the operating groundrule: Any reader ideas gleaned by city employees smart enough to read this blog, which are submitted and approved by the administration, will become said employees' sole property. Shaking down city employees for intellectual property royalties would be inelegant at the least, it seems to us.

Please don't hesitate to participate in today's exercise in helpful web-based civic interactivity.

Who will be the first to comment?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Ogden Velodrome Fantasy

Rejected RAMP application lists $13 million in make-believe matching funds

By Dan Schroeder

Amid all the discussion of its possible displacement of St. Anne's, the big news about the Godfrey administration's proposed velodrome was almost overlooked: The administration asked for $2 million in RAMP funds (over four years) for the velodrome, and the RAMP committee said no.

The nice thing about the RAMP process is that it's public. So whenever the Godfrey administration applies for RAMP money, we have a rare opportunity to see their plans laid out in black and white, in their grant application. Unable to resist, I contacted the RAMP administrator a few days ago and got myself a copy of the rejected application for the velodrome.

The application includes two pages of itemized construction costs totaling $15 million. Then comes a page listing the proposed sources of revenue:

a. Ogden City - Capital Improvement Program: $2 million
b. RAMP: $2 million (over four years)
c. Easton Sports Development Foundation Corporation: $2 million
d. Weber State University and Tennis Community: $3.5 million
e. USA Cycling Association and Cycling Community: $3.5 million
f. Ogden Velodrome Naming Sponsor: $2 million

You may recall that the administration originally stated that the city's contribution would be "more than $100,000", then asked the city council for $1 million in January. But so far the council hasn't allocated any money to the project.

The application includes three supporting letters, pertaining to items c through e:

1. A letter from the WSU tennis coach, enthusiastically describing how useful the velodrome's indoor tennis courts will be--but with no mention of any contribution toward construction costs.

2. A letter from USA Cycling, expressing that organization's serious commitment to using the velodrome's cycling track--but with no mention of any contribution toward construction costs.

3. A letter from Easton Sports Development Foundation, offering between $1.5 million and $2 million toward construction of an archery center--on the condition that ESDF would then own the building.

In other words, all six revenue sources consist of nothing more than wishful thinking at this time.

The RAMP application states that WSU, USA Cycling, and ESDF would enter into long-term lease agreements with the city, to operate their respective portions of the building. But the details are vague, and it's impossible to tell what the city's annual cost would be for operations and maintenance.

Fortunately, the RAMP program is run by adults who have learned to tell the difference between a serious proposal and a make-believe fantasy.

The RAMP administrator also informed me that from now on, RAMP funding for major projects will be handled on a reimbursement basis rather than given up-front. So even if the velodrome application had been approved, we wouldn't have had another ice tower fiasco where the city starts spending the RAMP money before raising any of the matching funds.

In conclusion, Weber County RAMP seems to be in good hands, and the county is benefiting from the program's sound decisions. Meanwhile, Ogden City is ending up with far less than its fair share of RAMP funds, thanks to the incompetence on the ninth floor.

For your reference, I've attached the Godfrey administration's rejected RAMP grant application, together with other supporting documents below:
RAMP Grant Application (pdf - 1.54 MB)
Velodrome Drawings (pdf - 1.31 MB)
Reader comments are invited, as always.

Std-Ex: Public Comments Invited on Proposed Ogden City Streetcar Routes

UTA Public open houses calendered for March 24 and 26

We'll direct our readers' attention to an important story in this morning's Standard-Examiner, which will be of interest to those of you who are closely following developments with respect to Ogden's pending street car study project. This morning's story reports that the Utah Transit Authority will be seeking public input on three possible cross town routes, in which connection it will host the following public open houses:

March 24, 2009 - 4 to 7 p.m. - Ogden Eccles Conference Center
March 26, 2009 - 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. - WSU Student Union Building

As we've discussed before, each of the three proposed routes would connect Ogden's downtown Utah Intermodal Hub with WSU and Dee-Mckay Hospital, and each will feature east-west connectors between Washington and Harrision Boulevards. The first of these, which would use 26th street for its east-west leg, was also identified the the preferred alternative in the 2005 Baker Study, the only rigorous study which has ever been done (at considerable taxpayer expense) to examine possible transit corridors. The latter two, which would follow routes along 30th and 36th Street, are routes which Boss Godfrey apparently pulled (at no taxpayer expense) out of his ever-visionary... umm... hat.

Mark your calenders folks, and please plan to attend at least one of these events if you can.

Reader comments about the relative merits and disadvantages of each of these proposed routes are invited in our lower comments section, of course.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

REAL High Adventure Recreation

Fly Your Wingsuit - Special "High Adventure" Video Bonus Feature for a Weber County Forum Saturday afternoon

REAL High Adventure Recreation!

Accept no inferior substitutes!

House Bill 201 Post Mortem

Senate GOP leadership lets Rep. Froerer's remedial "Powderville" legislation die on the vine

Mainly for archival consistency, we'll do a somewhat brief legislative session post-mortem on one of the "good" bills which failed to make it through the legislature this year, due to the running of the clock. We devoted substantial electronic ink to House District 8 Representative Gage Froerer's HB 201 during the 2009 legislative session, which would have re-enfranchised the hapless citizens of Ogden Valley's "Powderville," and given them their own vote on whether to be dragged unwillingly into Powder Mountain's incipient company town.

Although the bill picked up a good head of steam earlier this month, passing in the House on March 6 by a lopsided 52-17 vote, HB 210 was effectively killed in the Senate. For reasons unknown, Senate leadership inexplicably sat on the bill for almost a full week, and then sent it back to the House on March 12, the final day of the legislative session, with a meaningless and trivial "amendment."

During yesterday's blog discussion, several of our gentle readers were critical of Rep. Froerer, for his failure to ultimately deliver the goods. We believe this criticism is entirely unfair, and completely off the mark. We were in steady communication with Rep. Froerer throughout this session; and we're aware that our Legislative District 8 Representative worked feverishly on this legislation. The bill's quick and successful passage in the House is ample proof of that, we think.

So we'll attempt to set the record straight. Make no mistake. The responsibility for failure of this bill rests entirely upon the shoulders of Senate GOP leadership (so-called.) If GOP leadership had considered re-enfranchising the citizens of "Powderville" to have been a priority, believe us, the bill would have been (and ought to have been) quickly delivered to the Senate floor on a silver platter.

If you have lingering anger and angst over the failure of the legislature to correct it's own egregious mistake, please don't mis-direct it to second-term House Representative Froerer, who worked his tail off on this, but unfortunately has a lot more political juice in the House than in the Senate.

If you're looking for somebody to blame for this latest legislative miscarriage of justice, these are the culprits, O Gentle Ones, the ones with an (R) to the right of their names:
Utah State Senate - "Leadership" 2009
If you decide to write to complain, the perpetrators are the ones with an "R" next to their names. We don't know why these people decided to let Froerer's bill die on the vine; but they did. Strangely, Utah citizens keep electing these same people again and again.

Consider this a weekend kickoff open topic thread.

The world blogosphere awaits your ever-savvy comments.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Stop the Presses! Boss Godfrey APOLOGIZES to the Council For His Latest Blunder

"It was not an effort on the part of us to hide something," Godfrey spokesman John Patterson says... with a completely straight face

There's a first time for everything, we guess. Ace Reporter Schwebke reports this morning that Godfrey administration officials issued a public apology at last night's city council work session for their major budget-busting screw-up on the administration's Dining Car/Tourist Information Center. Frankly, we don't recall the Godfrey administration ever apologizing for anything before. Seeing is believing:
OGDEN -- Members of the administration apologized to the city council Thursday night for a snafu involving about $80,000 in cost overruns for the conversion of a rail car into a downtown information center.
"Sorry about this one," John Patterson, the city's chief administrative officer, told the council during a work session. "It was not an effort on the part of us to hide something."
Mayor Matthew Godfrey admitted that mistakes were made in determining how to fund the cost overruns.
"People made judgment calls that were wrong," he said during the work session.
Can we see by a show of hands how many among our gentle readership believe that Boss Godfrey and his henchmen weren't "trying to hide something?" Alternatively, we wonder, how many of our readers believe that this is merely the latest example of the old Boss Godfrey "Bait and Switch?"

And we just loved Councilman Stephens' quoted remarks and query:
City Councilman Doug Stephens said he believes the rail car information center will benefit Ogden.
However, he's concerned that the public may perceive that the council wasn't on top of the cost overruns.
"Citizens want to know, were you guys (council members) asleep at the wheel?"
Who will be the first lumpencitizen to provide Councilman Stephens the possibly painful information he seeks?

Have at it, O Gentle Ones.

SL Trib: HB 122 Falters for Lack of Consensus

Chalk it up as a hard-fought citizen victory for open and transparent government in Utah

Good news for advocates of open and transparent government in Utah. The Salt Lake Tribune reports this morning that Rep. Aagard's HB 122, which had been the subject of severe criticism here at Weber County Forum, died in the House last night, upon expiration of the 2009 legislative session:
Government records bill falters for lack of consensus
We'd like to believe that our own gentle readers had a hand in this. We've spoken recently with several members of the State House of Representatives, who've reported that citizen opposition emails have been substantial.

A Weber County Forum Tip O' The Hat to all readers who responded to our repeated calls to action and contacted their legislators to express their opposition to this potentially GRAMA gutting Bill.

We'll chalk it up as a hard-fought citizen victory for open and transparent government in Utah.

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