Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Continuing Adventures of the Bumbling Boss Godfrey

Emerald City administration shoots itself in the foot again

By Curmudgeon

The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight [aka The Godfrey Administration] draws its weapon yet again, and shoots itself in the foot yet again. The Standard Examiner reports this morning on yet another series of Administration bungles. Here is Mr. Schwebke's lede:
OGDEN -- The head of St. Anne's Center says she's been informed by a city official that the block housing the homeless shelter is being considered for a proposed $15.2 million velodrome. "I wasn't surprised," Jennifer Canter, executive director of St. Anne's, said Wednesday. She declined to identify the official.
How did we learn that the city is looking at St. Anne's and thinking "Velodrome!"? Good question. Mr. Schwebke answers it:
A clue that the city is considering property in the vicinity of St. Anne's for the velodrome is found in its Jan. 30 application for $2 million over four years in Weber County RAMP funds....
The city's original RAMP application lists the proposed location for the velodrome as 2675 Wall Ave., which Canter said is the block where St. Anne's is located.
Then we learn that the address the city included in its RAMP application... ah... well, it doesn't exist. From the story:
Patterson said the address doesn't exist and shouldn't have been included in the RAMP application, since the city is considering three locations for the velodrome within walking distance of the intermodal hub at 23rd Street and Wall Avenue. Some people have associated the address in the original RAMP grant application with St. Anne's Center even though it's different from the shelter's address, Patterson said.
"It's regrettable that there was a listing of any address before property was acquired," he said while declining to disclose whether St. Anne's land is being considered for the velodrome. "It makes it difficult to acquire property at a reasonable price."
And what has Hizzonah to say about hot the address [which doesn't exist but seems, his staff agrees, to target St. Anne's anyway], got into the RAMP application in the first place? Well, Hizzonah hasn't a clue, he says, what his staff did on the matter or why. Again from Mr. Schwebke's story:
Godfrey said he's unsure why the 2675 Wall Ave. address was included in the RAMP grant application.
The story is well worth reading in full. It calls to mind Casey Stengel's woeful lament as he tried to manage the hapless first year New York Mets: "Can't anybody here play this game?"

Good question.

42 comments:

danny said...

It seems to me that the velodrome was well down the list of capital projects for the city, meaning it has absolutely no funding.

So here we go again - no location, no money, no ideas other than liberal usage of the words, "world class" to describe a pipe dream.

When will the city council CUT the mayor's budget so they can LAY OFF the people who sit around cooking up all this expensive nonsense?

Can anybody say, "Ice Tower", "Midtown Properties Water Park", "River District", "Salomon Center Black Hole"?

City council, please stop funding the mayor to come up with more fiascos. Ask him if he can fix some of his existing fiascos first.

dan s. said...

I have a theory.

The Standard-Examiner's sudden interest in the embarrassing aspects of the velodrome and the train car welcome center is actually an effort to divert our attention away from the real scandal (Envision Ogden).

It may work for a while.

Bill C. said...

It seems that we need to add the 3 million relocation of the shelter to the new 15.2 million projection, up a million since the last article. This plus recent examples of cost projections provided by the administration,(dining car) this thing could cost upwards of 60 million bucks.
Why don't the mayor and Patterson just reccomend we flush our money down the toilet? That's what all his projects seem to amount to?

tom said...

If yesterday's story about the fiasco surrounding the one rail car renovation is any indicator then the tax payers of Ogden can get ready for another assault on their wallets over this Velodrome idea.

As you may recall, the rail car renovation was sold to the city council and the tax payers of Ogden as a $35,000 dollar project that has now blossomed into one costing us $140,000.

If the incompetent gang at city hall follows this same pattern with the "$15 million dollar Velodrome it will end up costing us tax payers $60 million.

curious said...

Dan S.,
any reason in particular why the SE would not want to cover the Envision Ogden story? Controversy, conflict and corruption sell newspapers. Would seem like a no brainer to run with such a story. Unless ... what?

The Lovely Jennifer said...

Okay.

We have a mayor and cronies who want to tout the EXCITING AND UNIQUE outdoor attractions Ogden has to offer.

We have a mayor asking for millions from RAMP funds (which were intended to benefit the WHOLE community, not tourists or enthusiasts).

Wikipedia states: “…outdoor velodromes are more common, as an outdoor venue does not require a building, making it MORE AFFORDABLE, especially when new.” (emphasis added) In addition: “A velodrome will usually be among facilities constructed for events such as the Olympics or Commonwealth Games.” Why does this make sense? Because it will get LOTS of use, and generate LOTS of revenue. (See Ice Sheet)

We have a mayor who wants people to use, build and pay for the Ogden River Project, a major city centralized OUTDOOR attraction for many different activities, including Bicycling.

Wouldn’t it make sense for the Velodrome to be down by the River Parkway somewhere? Like east of Harrison where there is already a WIDE OPEN SPACE. This would be between 20th and 12th streets. In the spring you may see people flying kites out there. And then in the summer and fall you may see people flying kites out there. You can also see the River Parkway from there! How cool would it be to have the two near each other. If someone gets tired of riding up and down the river, and feels the need for speed, they can hit the track and go for it!

Wikipedia also states the “heyday of velodrome racing [was between] 1890 – 1920.” What does this tell us about a demand for the facility in the first place, other than the mayor and cronies want it. More from Wikipedia: “…Today, … many classic indoor tracks have been torn out of buildings and replaced by venues for more popular sports.” This suggests that building a new one MIGHT not be that popular in the first place, and end up getting torn down in a few years for something else. Hopefully by then we will have a mayor who is more in touch with the community and it needs.

I have spoken!

TLJ

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:

While I agree that the SE's refusal to dig into the Envision Ogden money laundering allegations is damn-near inexplicable --- every home town city desk reporter or editor I've known over the years other than the SE's would have been on the Envision Ogden matter like flies on roadkill --- let me suggest that the continuing story of the administration's mismanagement of city affairs, and its continuing inability to complete even some small projects competently, and its ham-fisted cluelessness about what constitutes effective public administration [which the SE has been covering], all add up to a story as important for Ogden residents to read about in their Home Town Paper as the Envision Ogden story.

It's not, then, or shouldn't be for a good paper, a matter of reporting either/or with respect to Envision Ogden/city mismanagement. It should be for any editor worth his stripes, a matter of reporting both/and. Sadly, for the SE, it seems not to be.

Jules Verne said...

Since the little group here knows that the folks at Ogden's paper read this blog why be passive aggressive? Just come out and say what you are trying to do instead of this daring them to cover it or amazement that they refuse to cover it or name calling because they won't cover it. Just make your intentions known instead of doing it the back-door way.

Curmudgeon said...

JV:

When you write"just come out ans say what you are trying to do" and "make your intentions known," what intentions do you mean? Seems to me criticism of the SE's failure to report the Envision Ogden matter has been pretty straightforward on WCF. As has criticism for its refusing to run Dan S. op-ed piece, which ran here when the SE refused to print it.

Not sure what "intentions" you think are not being made clear. Want to clarify?

dan s. said...

curious,

I can tell you what the S-E has said, and then merely speculate on what they're not saying.

During the 2007 campaign, their stated reason for not covering the Envision Ogden story was that no official had taken any action regarding Envision Ogden. The context was that they did run a story about the city attorney writing an angry letter to Susie Van Hooser when her campaign sent a mass email to a list (obtained from the Chamber of Commerce) that included several city staff. When that article appeared I complained to Andy Howell that there had been a much more serious violation of the same ordinance (against use of city property for political purposes), namely the use of the Salomon Center for an Envision Ogden fundraiser. His reply was that because Gary Williams never wrote a letter in that case, it wasn't newsworthy.

More recently, when I submitted an op-ed column to the S-E that mentioned Envision Ogden, Howell said he wouldn't print it because the column was reacting to one of their editorials, and they apparently have a policy of not printing commentaries that react to editorials unless the author was actually named in the editorial.

Now for the speculation.

Mayor Godfrey has a lot of power in this town. His supporters include the Chamber of Commerce, the major banks and realtors, and many other businesses. The Standard-Examiner depends on these businesses for advertising revenue. Given the political and business climate in this town, it's hardly surprising that the Standard-Examiner would be inclined to err on the side of making Godfrey look good and making his opponents look bad.

For example, in the hotly contested 2007 election, they broke their long-time tradition of not making endorsements so they could endorse Godfrey (and Johnson, though not Eccles). They even pulled a dirty trick by attacking Van Hooser's integrity in the editorial endorsing Godfrey, and delaying the publication of that editorial until it was too late for Van Hooser to respond.

Their news coverage during the campaign was also biased toward Godfrey in many ways--not just by ignoring Envision Ogden but also by ignoring the intimidation of businesses that displayed the wrong campaign signs, the job threat against Kent Jorgenson, and the Smart Growth Ogden press release that exposed Godfrey's "restrictive covenant" document as a scam. Meanwhile, they gleefully published article after article on Dorothy Littrell's mostly frivolous lawsuit, giving Godfrey a platform to repeatedly insinuate that Van Hooser was somehow involved (which she wasn't--trust me, I was there).

So the S-E's neglect of the Envision Ogden scandal is not an isolated incident but part of a larger pattern. As you point out, however, there is a downside, from their point of view, in that they might sell fewer newspapers if they ignore a hot-button story such as this. Remember, though, that this is a one-newspaper town. In the absence of any serious competition, the S-E can safely ignore an important story, once in a while, without any noticeable drop in readership.

I hasten to add that even though the S-E as an institution might have good reasons to ignore the Envision Ogden scandal, most of the individual editors and reporters at the S-E are basically honest people who want to be good journalists. For this reason, and simply because this gorilla will eventually grow larger than 800 pounds, I predict that they won't ignore it forever.

dan s. said...

curm,

You're right that it shouldn't be a matter of either/or. Both the rail car story and the velodrome story are fully newsworthy and I'm glad the S-E covered them.

But I'm struck by the timing. It's almost as if the S-E is trying to save face and convince readers that they don't really love Godfrey so much after all.

Which story is bigger would be a matter of opinion, I suppose. But without taking sides on that question, let me point out that there's an important distinction between incompetent mismanagement on one hand, and criminal wrongdoing on the other.

RudiZink said...

"Since the little group here knows that the folks at Ogden's paper read this blog why be passive aggressive?"

There's plenty going on behind the scenes, Jules. Believe me, the Std-Ed editors are well aware of this story, and the "intentions" of the various WCF blog participants who are actively (not passively) pushing the Std-Ex to unveil this story to its general readership.

And one more thing. With the 2009 municipal elections coming up in in about seven months, our home town newspaper won't be able to ignore this story forever.

RJ Svengali said...

Velodrome?

Who cares one way or the other, other than a handful of cycling enthusiasts, and a small cabal of grumpy anti-everything-Godfrey drones?

We support nearly any project that will relocate the flocking winos and degenerate parolees, relocate them across the viaduct where they belong.

The riff-raff have had the run of downtown long enough.

What is the major impediments to downtown retail, and thus sales taxes?
The fact that our city center remains a dumping ground for those who, mostly, ruined their own lives to the point of incoherence, and the fact these bums "flock together".

Its time to rethink using our city center as a homeless shelter.
Lets put the sheltered loosers on the do-gooders front lawns, and see how quick they become a nuisance.

The area is called, "the other side of the tracks" for a reason. Lets make it a little more uncomfortable to ruin your life, and cut off easy access to spare-change and dive bars.

And bring back the families with tax dollars.

dan s. said...

RJS,

If the major impediment to downtown retail is the presence of homeless people downtown, then how do you explain the presence of downtown retail in cities like New York and San Francisco?

Even if we wanted to banish homeless folks from 25th Street, relocating St. Anne's would be only a small step in that direction.

Let's quit blaming our problems on the people who have the least power to do anything about them, ok?

RJ Svengali said...

No, we disagree.

To point out the problems of NYC or SanFran does not address Ogden's problems; it is a false analogy.

Perhaps you would like homeless people on your front porch?
They sleep on ours, and we would like the situation cleaned up.

As for a small step, it was incrementally small steps that allowed the downtown to deteriorate the way it has.
Lets start walking the other direction.

Homeless degenerates have the lack of power due to personal decisions, by and large.
Lets quit blaming their problems, and heaping the costs thereof, on those who did nothing to cause their "personal power vacuum".

Either that or put some cots on your own front lawn.

K?

RJSJR said...

Dan,

Comparing Ogden to NYC and SF is comparing apples to oranges and you know it. Excellent use of a great fallacy. Utah is different. Ogden's problems with being "run down" or an "arm pit" really aren't so bad, but in the eyes of many Utahns Ogden is deplorable. Just ask any of the relocated student atheletes at your beloved university and I'm sure they will let you know how bad Ogden isn't. Perception, however, is reality for locals and others around the state.

Anonymous employee said...

RJS-isnt it also wrong to heap the costs of another black hole on the citizens of Ogden?

a former degenerate loser said...

RJS,
Seriously?? No one goes down to 25th street because of all of the homeless "losers"?? Have you been down to 25th street lately? 1) I haven't noticed any homeless folks and 2) the street is usually packed with people down there spending their $.
You can't really believe that the reason there is a retail problem in downtown Ogden is due to "The fact that our city center remains a dumping ground for those who, mostly, ruined their own lives to the point of incoherence, and the fact these bums "flock together"."
Boy, if only the Mayor had known this years ago he wouldn't have had to tear down the Ogden Mall, build the Solomon Center, etc., etc. Wow.
Social Darwinist economic theory makes a miraculous return.

RJ Svengali said...

First, another?
Second, right and wrong, in small-city government?
Thirdly, heaping costs?

If a duly elected mayor, and the likewise ensconced city council, can construct a velodrome without committing a known felony, we are all for it.

Corruption. It lays dormant in the character of all humans. Sometimes you just have to look the other way.
At times, it is integral to the art of governance, and the only way to get things done.
Sometimes.

Othertimes...

RJ Svengali said...

"Former" Degenerate Loser:

Congratulation on your turn around.
Best of luck in your continued recovery.

We live on 25th street.

Social Darwinism only fell out of favor amongst the intellectual elite; meanwhile out on the front lines of the crack and meth wars, low birth weights, increasing sloped foreheads, "cigarette babies", garbled speech, Lovecraftian character traits, even duck-tails and blue suede shoes, these all point to a degeneration of upright civilization.

You want to encourage and pamper these traits with your own largess, continue.

We, personally, advocate reality.
And clean streets.

dan s. said...

Gee, I see I touched a nerve.

My comparison to NY and SF was for the limited purpose of proving that the presence of homeless people is fully compatible with thriving downtown retail. Obviously these cities are much larger than Ogden, but they have the advantage of being familiar.

The fundamental reason why retail businesses have fled to the suburbs throughout so much of America has nothing to do with homeless people and everything to do with automobiles. Ever since cars became affordable to the middle class, we've generally decided to shop in places where there's plenty of parking--and large parking lots are incompatible with traditional downtowns.

In very large metropolitan areas like NY and SF, the city centers thrive because the density is so high that cars are often a liability rather than an asset.

Ogden's problem is that it can't decide whether it wants to be a city or a suburb.

If Ogden wants to be a city, then we need to encourage higher densities in every way we can. That means removing density restrictions and getting rid of minimum parking requirements and investing in mass transit.

If Ogden wants to be a suburb, then we need to put more Walmarts and parking lots downtown, while we invest in more freeways to carry people to jobs in Salt Lake City.

For the short term, trying to compromise and have it both ways is probably worse than either extreme.

For the long term, the only viable option is to be a city.

RJ Svengali said...

Then compare the entire Wasatch front with NYC.
Ogden would be similar to the lower east side, not NYC in total.

Good points, we think; if a bit skewed towards sociological truisms.

Ogden does not have the "white flight to the suburbs" problem.
It has a "Parole Boards dumping hundreds of ex-cons and still struggling pedophiles into a 8 block area" problem.

But hey, we love this town.

boo radley said...

I couldn't agree more with RJS. I'm in favor of anything that moves St. Anne's. You'd have to be blind not to call it a problem. Drive along wall avenue in the morning and it's all you see. It's been a deterrent for business, safety, and if nothing else, reputation for too long. Anyone who has lived or worked in the area will tell you just how bad it is. I've been approached numerous times for a handout while in the area. I never carry cash, and some of these people won't take no for an answer, and look like they'd slit your throat if nobody was watching. They're referred to as bums for a reason.

So There, BUSTER said...

dan s.,

your continuing to call Dorothy Litttrell's lawsuit as "mostly frivilous" is getting my dander up.

Did you ever discuss the points or proof of the lawsuit with any of the 60-some litigants.

I hope you are not as far off the mark with your current crusade as your statements are about the Littrell lawsuit.

Get out of your ivory professors tower and quit making stupid remarks about that which you are not informed before you lose all credibility.

Christ said...

Yes, let's move St. Anne's out west, where they're out of sight, out of mind. The problem will go away.

dan s. said...

So There,

Dorothy asked me to sign on to the lawsuit before she filed it. I declined, and tried to discourage her. After she filed the complaint, I read it carefully and came to my own conclusion. And after the judge awarded attorney's fees to the other side, I read the rules of civil procedure as they pertain to attorney's fees. So I'm reasonably well informed on the matter.

Perhaps "mostly frivolous" was a little too harsh, but not much. There was never any chance that she would prevail in getting Godfrey removed from the ballot. Had she merely asked the court to order an audit of his campaign finance records, perhaps the lawsuit would have done some good. Instead, she helped Godfrey win the election and made it even harder for the rest of us to raise questions over campaign financing.

Still, I know she meant well and for what it's worth, I forgive her.

As for my current crusade, there are some important differences that should be apparent if you think about it a moment.

dreamer said...

Dan,
you wrote: "The fundamental reason why retail businesses have fled to the suburbs throughout so much of America has nothing to do with homeless people and everything to do with automobiles. Ever since cars became affordable to the middle class, we've generally decided to shop in places where there's plenty of parking--and large parking lots are incompatible with traditional downtowns."
While not completely untrue, you left out one important factor in the move to the suburbs. There is a reason sociologists called it "white flight." Non-whites move in, whites move out. Something I witnessed first hand in the city where I grew up. Same thing happened with respect to the local shopping malls. A few blacks started shopping at one mall, soon no whites were to be found at all. They found themselves a new mall to shop at.

Hates Racist Assholes said...

"A few blacks started shopping at one mall, soon no whites were to be found at all. They found themselves a new mall to shop at."

And you consider this to be a "good thing," right, "dreamer'?

You make most honest Americans want to puke.

I haven't heard such sentiment expressed since the sixties in Mississippi.

And here you are right here in Utah in 2009.

Shame on you.

tom said...

Dreamer

Thanks for the intelligent post. Apparently the next commenter (HRA) is too stupid to realize that you were not endorsing white flight, but merely reporting on it as the truth that it is. One needs look no further than inner city Ogden to see this sad social problem first hand.

And Svengali, a few of your posts have been fairly cleaver and on point. I have actually been rather impressed with you. However, based on the last ones I am starting to believe you are an arrogant, heartless and effete elitist who is overly and unduly impressed with yourself. Your mean spirited attitude toward some of your fellow travelers on this earth are absolutely vile. Hopefully you will mature out of it so that you don't die dumb.

Curmudgeon said...

Very sad news, not unrelated to some of the discussion above about urban downtowns: Sam Weller's, the huge new and used bookstore in downtown Salt Lake City, is moving from its location just across from a TRAX stop, and will seek a better downtown location. And a smaller one. The store is not only moving, it is downsizing. Sales are down, people are buying books on line, and the owner says it is no longer feasible to carry such a large inventory and selection for a declining number of bookbuyers.

One theory is that lack of parking helped move Weller's to decide to leave:

Scott Brady, a retail specialist with Commerce CRG, said one problem plaguing many Main Street tenants such as Sam Weller's is parking. "Parking is a real issue," he said. "Most shoppers don't want to have to hunt for a spot," he said. "They want it to be easy." Many shoppers, he said, will forgo shopping at a place where they have to hunt for a spot in favor of a shopping mall with a parking lot or garage, or a store that has its own parking lot.

This is sad news indeed. Mrs. Curmudgeon and I have never travelled to SLC without stopping in at either Sam Wellers or The King's English. Since Frontrunner service began, we haven't been to The King's English [which is also seeing sales drop and is cutting inventory] which cannot be reached by rail, but have always, every trip, hopped onto TRAX at SLC Central Station and off just across from Weller's to browse and [despite swearing blood oaths that this time browsing is all we'd do] buy. If the new location is not easily reached from a TRAX stop, we'll be lost to Weller's too, since we now nearly never drive to SLC.

Sad news. But the story does bear on the downtown restoration/retail/transit discussion. Link can be found here.

dan s. said...

dreamer,

I'm well aware of "white flight". I grew up in St. Louis, where I was brought to the suburbs at age 2 by my white parents. The inner city neighborhood where my mother grew up now looks like Leshem City (aka Ogden River Project), enlarged a hundredfold.

Racism is a serious issue, but it was around for centuries before "white flight" began. The more immediate cause of the flight to the suburbs was the availability of automobiles to the middle class. Of course, racism has also played a role in keeping most non-whites poor, so they haven't had as much access to automobiles and suburban living. However, even if there were no racism, or if everyone were of the same race, the wealthier classes would still have moved to the suburbs and left the inner cities to the poor.

beaver said...

tom wrote:

"However, based on the last ones I am starting to believe you [RJS] are an arrogant, heartless and effete elitist who is overly and unduly impressed with yourself."

Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner! Tom, step right up and claim your prize.

Brilliant.

RJ Svengali said...

Thank you for your insight.

Arrogant, perhaps. Heartless? In a timely fashion, yes. Effete? Sans absinthe , yes, us and Oscar Wilde, thank you, Although we would use the term decadent. Elitist: absolutely, and proudly so. Overly and unduly impressed? Well, you would have had to walk in our shoes the last few decades t witness the wake we created with our memetic set to really judge that, yes? Say rather, we have hyperinflated, nay, hypertrophied various of our selves into a veritable pantheon of both do-gooders and scoundrels, paupers and lords, idiots and pedants, soldiers and civilians.

We did not want to be a good person. We strove instead to be a Complete Person, with all the foible and nobility of a mere ooman, writ large.

And really, what do any of your unintended compliments have to do with getting the bums off'a my front porch?

Damn'ed straw men.

the gabber said...

Wow! RJS, how damned impressive can one human being be - I have made the gross assumption that you are indeed a human being. In any event, pleased be advised that we lesser HB's are dazzled by your brilliance. My only concern is that you will feel compelled to exude your brilliance on the WCF. Then again, this is a free country, sort of.

Germ said...

"I have made the gross assumption that you are indeed a human being."

Indeed gabbler, this should be considered a "questionable" assumption.

I'll tell you what. I'll alert all the people on the street that I know, and tell them that this little elitist idiot "Svengali" "doesen't like street people sleeping "on his porch.

All we need now is the specific address of Svengali's 25th St "Crib."

Let's see what happens next.

RJ Svengali said...

Oh, please.
We know most of the denizens downtown by first name.
What, like we are anonymous?
We are one of the most visible of Ogden residents.

We know 3/5ths of downtown business owners, and believe you me, they know us as well.

Anyone could wanted to waste a moment of thoughtful contemplation could discern who we are, natch.
Our moniker is that obvious.

But really, who cares?

We live in fear of no one. The comments that we make here are the same that we make anywhere, anytime, out loud. Period.

We loathe slothful bums and the filth they carry with them. We believe they created themselves of their own volition. We would bring back work camps and debtors prisons, blue laws for spitting on the sidewalk and swearing in public, etc.

We don't allow people to sleep on our porch. We run them off, pronto.
They tend not to return.

If you walked out in the morning to go perform Yoga, and found a derilict covered in vomit and feces, lounging, smoking gigs and panhandling, within your door stoop: we wonder what you would do?
Feed him a sandwich and invite him in to meat, yes: meat, your daughters, or instruct him to move on?

We like where we live. We enjoy the walkable amenities that our Utah domicile affords.

We ARE a street person, btw. We spend 19 or so hours a day, here on 25th street. We sleep here. We work here. We play here.
A street person does not need to be a degenerate with low moral standards, and even lower income.

You just need to be on 25th street; which we are.
Right now.

We are Ogden.

Germ said...

'Oh, please. We know most of the denizens downtown by first name."

Well... apparently you don't know me... which puts the validity of your street knowledge into serious question...

Enough of the BS "Steven M," errr... I mean "Svengali" Bullshit.

Just give us the address of your 25th Street porch where you don't want we "bums" to perch.

We'll take care of the rest.

Thanks in advance.

RJ Svengali said...

Threats? Sheesh, whatever. Do your own homework.
And stay off our porch.

It's Rasputin J. Svengali. Yes, the J stands for Jachin,(and Boaz).

We love this town. Even you, Germ.

Curmudgeon said...

What's going on here, I think, is the unfortunate tendency of people to lurch to extremes when arguing for and against positions passionately held.

RJs goes overboard in suggesting that a sea of homeless derelicts accosting the good burghers of Ogden are what is preventing a rebirth of downtown. I've been here eight years now, go to 25th Street with some frequency, day and night, alone or with family and guests in tow, and over those eight years I've been panhandled half a dozen times at most. I've been panhandled more on Harrison Blvd. Nor is every client of St. Anne's or the Salvation Army downtown a hopped-up drunk. These are tough times. There are not only men, but families who find themselves homeless just now through no fault of their own. And there are a sad number of veterans now homeless as well, in dire need of treatment beyond "move them out of sight over the tracks."

On the other hand, if I had the homeless, particularly alcoholics or druggies, sleeping it off on my front porch regularly, or trying to, I'd be hot about it too.

Seems to me a reasonable stand on all this is (a) RJ has over-emphasized the impact of the homeless on 25th Street, as do many, particularly their impact on business on the street and on downtown safety, but that (b) unquestionably for those who live in the downtown area particularly, the alcoholic and druggie homeless can and often do pose serious problems. If I had them camping on my front porch, I'd want something done about it too, and I would not take well to being called "sub human" for wanting something done.

Holding neither position a or b requires thinking of those who hold the other one as "non human" or "heartless" or as front-porch yoga-practicing NIMBYs.

Nor are such problems as exist likely to be fixed by simple silver-bullet solutions, like "Move St. Anne's across the tracks!" The problem is, that would move those St. Anne serves away from other resources, like the Salvation Army operations, and the local health clinic services, and state services so on, which are located downtown.

Some serious discussion about how to deal with the problems in ways that don't just toss the homeless aside, comfortably out of sight, is sorely needed. Hard to arrange if the first response to any statement from either direction is a barrage of invective.

RJ Svengali said...

Agreed.

ozboy said...

Mr. Svengali

Wow! You are about as full of yourself as any one I have read recently! You are obviously very bright and cleaver with words, however your most recent posts remind me of my outrageous blond bomber cousin who never goes out of the house without wearing every piece of her extensive jewelry collection! Every piece an expensive bauble for sure, however she always looks like she's wearing Long John Silver's treasure chest.

I do however enjoy your wit and wisdom - except the "heartless" stuff that is. I also recognize the big pain in the butt having the down and out camping on your stoop must be, but I think you're wrong in your evaluation of how most of them got into the positions they are in. It is my understanding that most of the kind of people you describe are that way because of mental illness. I don't mean to be an apologist for them, but they are all God's children, just like you and me.

Your statement-

"We loathe slothful bums and the filth they carry with them. We believe they created themselves of their own volition. We would bring back work camps and debtors prisons, blue laws for spitting on the sidewalk and swearing in public, etc.

- is particularly chilling. I just hope that you never obtain a position of power as you might end up making the Lil Lord look like Mother Teresa.

In spite of this, please keep the interesting and witty stuff coming, you definitely add a new dimension to this blog.

RJ Svengali said...

Thank you for your insight.

You might be glad to know: we shun positions of power, as we think them to be mostly guilded cages for the grasping fearful.

Although we think differently, we enjoy a spirited debate, hopefully one that arrives at a greater truth for all of us.

Peace, out.

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