Thursday, April 23, 2009

Envision Ogden Head Honcho Abe Shreve Speaks Out Yet Again

More Abe Shreve "blabber" from this morning's Scott Schwebke story

What a difference a couple of days make. After literally years of stony silence, Abe Shreve, the founder of the shadowy political action committee Envision Ogden, has come out from whatever rock he was hiding under, and "gone public" in the Standard-Examiner for the second day in a row. WCF of course had the opportunity to discuss Mr. Shreve's earlier written statement yesterday. In the same connection, our readers certainly won't want to miss this morning's Scott Schwebke story, which apparently reveals the fruits of Mr. Schwebke's further interview(s) with the heretofore elusive Mr. Shreve:
'Envision' head speaks up / Shreve defends political contributions as means to 'promote Ogden's outdoor vibe'
It's blockbuster material which Mr. Schwebke delivers to his readers this morning. Just to kick off our morning discussion, we'll carve out a few of the story tidbits which we found to be particularly interesting:

1) Shreve frankly admits that " was always the organization’s intent to support political candidates who share its mission of making the city an outdoor sports mecca." This surprisingly candid admission would seem to confirm that Envision Ogden was intended to play the role of a political action committee from the beginning, and would support the inference that the June 2007 Salomon Center "Sneak Preview," was indeed originally intended to serve as a "stealth" campaign fundraising event, as many of us have long suspected. The implications of this ought to be particularly troubling for the Godfrey administration, which apparently "loaned out" the "rec center" to EO for the night, and then stood back in silence as revenue raised from this event was evidently diverted from Ogden City's coffers and "laundered" by EO through FNURE into the campaigns of "pro-Godfrey" council candidates Eccles and Johnson shortly thereafter.

2) Significantly, despite his outspoken statements, Mr. Shreve wilfully "declines" to identify any members of the even more shadowy campaign funds middleman, FNURE. In this connection we'll once again refer to Ogden City Municipal Code Section 1-8-3 (B), which sets forth the following prohibitions:
B. Anonymous: The acceptance of anonymous contributions is prohibited. Any anonymous contributions received by a candidate or personal campaign committee shall be transmitted to the City Treasurer for deposit in the General Fund.
C. In Name Of Another: No person shall make a contribution in the name of another person or make a contribution with another person's funds in his or her own name, and no candidate, member of a personal campaign committee, or political campaign committee shall knowingly accept a contribution made by one person in the name of another person or made by one person with the funds of another person.
While it may be true that FNURE may not have been technically required to file disclosure statements with the Utah Lieutenant Governor's Office as a political action committee under provisions of the Utah Code, we are in agreement with Jim Hutchins. Even in the absence of controlling provisions within Utah statutes, the anonymous donors behind FNURE are nevertheless not relieved from compliance with the obligations of the above Ogden City campaign disclosure ordinance. The undisclosed FNURE "members" are anonymous donors plain and simple, within the plain meaning of the ordinance; and the acceptance of such anonymously donated funds arguably constituted violations of Section 1-8-3 (B) and (C) by 2007 candidates Eccles and Johnson. Somehow, we don't believe Mr. Shreve's own silence on the subject helps out his favored 2009 council candidate, Blain Johnson, very much at all.

3) Last but not least, we'll highlight the remarks of City Council Chair Amy Wicks, who was "ruled out" by Mr. Shreve as a prospective recipient of EO campaign funds during the 2007 municipal election, mainly due to her 2005 "nay" vote on Boss Godfrey's reckless "Junction" bonding:
Wicks said in an e-mail to the Standard-Examiner she disagrees with Shreve's claim that she doesn't support local high-adventure recreation.
"I don't know if Mr. Shreve even knows my stance on high-adventure recreation," she said. "If he would have asked, or talked to anyone who really knows me, he would have found out that, at the time of the 2007 election, I was the only council member who regularly uses the Ogden area trails for hiking and biking, enjoys whitewater kayaking and uses the Ogden Kayak Park and area rivers for this purpose." [...]
Wicks stands by her vote on the Salomon Center.
"I did not vote to support using taxpayer funds to build the Salomon Center," she said.
"I still don't agree with using funds from operating revenue from Business Depot Ogden as a guarantee for the bond payments and to make up any shortfalls on payments for the recreation center/mall debt each year.
"If public funds are to be used for large, expensive facilities like recreation centers, there should be a decision by the public to spend the taxpayer funds on a project of that magnitude and they should have a say in what the facility offers."
Thank goodness for elected officials like Amy Wicks. It's great to have at least a few fiscally responsible grownups like Wicks occupying seats on the Ogden City Council; and we're delighted that Mr. Schwebke included her comments within today's story. Hopefully in the upcoming election, the voters of Ogden will have the wisdom to elect a full slate of city council candidates of similarly prudent philosophy. It goes without saying that this is something to seriously consider as we move forward into the 2009 municipal election season, during the worst economic recession since the great depression.

And one more thing: Nice work, Mr. Schwebke!

As far as today's discussion goes, we've barely scratched the surface with our above observations and editorial comments. WCF readers are now invited to chime in with their own ever-savvy observations and remarks.


Curmudgeon said...

Oh, let's add one or two items Mr. Shreve ducked. One of the donors to Envision Ogden was the State Of Utah. Public money. When Envision Ogden [or one of its agents?] solicited a cash donation from a state agency, was that agency informed that the money or some portion of it would be used to finance election campaigns for Ogden's Mayor and select Council candidates? Was McKay Dee Hospital informed that its donation to Envision Ogden was going to finance political campaigns when it was asked for the money? Since Mr. Shreve now has confessed to the SE that his organization intended from the start to make campaign donations, and since we know from the SE's reporting that many donors [like McKay Dee Hospital for example] were not told they were in fact contributing to election campaigns, Mr. Shreve ought [while he's in this confessional mood]to explain why he and his organization concealed their intentions from the people they were asking for donations.

And Mr. Shreve has confessed that he and Envision Ogden vetted the Council candidates, and decided which were worthy of Envision Ogden's campaign donations and which were not. It wasn't the Friends of Northern Utah Real Estate that did the vetting. It was, Shreve confesses, Envision Ogden. So, once again, why did Envision Ogden not simply give campaign donations to the Council candidates it found worthy? Why did it instead give $20K to FNURE [members, leadership unknown] to pass on to the candidates? If what Envision Ogden was about was upstanding and proper, as Mr. Shreve insists, what possible purpose could there have been for hiding its campaign donations by laundering the cash through the shadowy FNURE?

Mr. Shreve's protestations that he and his organization didn't do anything wrong in laundering its campaign donations to Johnson and Eccles through FNURE fails the duck test: if it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck... it's a duck.

Bill C. said...

I wonder if Shreve can see that the wheels of lying little matty's bus are heading straight for him. How does lying little matty now duck the Jackass Center issue?

Abe Shreeve said...


George K. said...

I also found this morning’s article to be interesting reading. Just like Godfrey, Shreve contradicts himself in his explanation of the purpose of Envision Ogden.”
Shreve said he and a small number of people formed Envision Ogden in 2007 to enhance the city’s efforts to recruit outdoor recreation corporations.” But then he turns around and says, “the group has been inactive for about 18 months.” It is obvious that Envision Ogden was organized and existed to raise funds to support council candidates who would do what the Mayor tells them to do. It was active long enough to raise about $25,000. for Johnson’s and Eccles campaigns and $2,000. for Jeremy Peterson’s campaign against Neil Hansen. After making these contributions, Envision Ogden became inactive in its pursuit to “enhance the city’s efforts to recruit outdoor recreation corporations.” So what would you say the purpose for their organization was?
Shreve is learning to lie as well as Godfrey. He claims that Envision Ogden was organized by a small group, but Godfrey told the Council that HE had formed a committee with the goal to encourage economic growth and to make Ogden the mecca for outdoor recreation.
Is it any wonder that someone (Shreve) who is Godfrey’s shadow has the same dissenters as Godfrey? In an attempt to gain sympathy from the general public, Shreve states, “There is a group in Ogden trying to eat him alive -- that’s just vicious.” He ignores the fact that Godfrey is eating Ogden taxpayers alive by taxing them to fund his playgrounds – the Salomon Center, (which costs Ogden taxpayers $750,000. a year for bond payments on it), his multi-million dollar “Veladrome” and now the proposed $124 million golf course! His “Ice Tower” dream did not materialize because financial supporters had more sense than he does. He is still has the “urban gondola” as the Administration’s #1 goal! “Godfrey said, ‘It does seem to be the same people that attack me are attacking him (Shreve).
Apparently Godfrey hasn’t told Shreve who to support in the upcoming city council election where four seats will be involved because “Shreve said it hasn’t been determine how politically active Envision Ogden will be in this November’s city election.”
In a previous post, I said: “Mr. Shreve also stated that in order “to accomplish the goal of turning Ogden into an outdoor Mecca, Envision Ogden has: 1) supported city council candidates that share the same vision.” It is noted that Envision Ogden’s goals and purpose are identical to the Mayor’s and so, of course, they support city council candidates that also support their views so that the Mayor could have another “rubber stamp” council with no checks and balances.”

George K. said...

I'd also like to point out that Abe Shreve in Schwebke's article this morning, did not address the legality of anonymous donors which he and Councilman Johnson have made the FNURE campaign contributions by refusing to name the members of FNURE or the legal issue according to Ogden City Code that candidates cannot accept contributions that are given for another. Why doesn't Shreve address any of the legal issues? He is learning well from Godfrey how to dodge legal issues.

Monotreme said...

You have to hand it to Mayor Godfrey. It takes a certain kind of skill to throw your "friend" under the wheels of a bus that you are driving.

cautious Susie said...

Mr. Abe Shreve may just turn out to be Matthew Godfrey's Achilles heel that many of us have been shooting at but had not been able to find.

If I were Mr. Abe I would shut up before the real pros in this coverup have him hauled off to parts unknown and set on fire by the side of the road to Wendover.

big jim said...

I do love a cloak and dagger scenario as long as I am not the one who is going to get the dagger.

althepal said...

Enlightening comment from the SE site by Politics NOTHING, It is Breaking the law!:

"When the Envision Ogden crowd Used my high adventure center that was build with my tax dollars, on June 15th of 07 with NO contract from the city to further their political action, is when they broke the law.

As Per state law. 10-3-1108. Political activity of municipal officer or employee.

2 (d) a municipal officer or employee may not use municipal equipment while engaged in political activity;

The fact that the mayor is a municipal Officer and the land lord of the city building (the high adventure center) that was used to raise the money, shows this is criminal and not political.

10-3-1310. Penalties for violation -- Dismissal from employment or removal from office.
In addition to any penalty contained in any other provision of law, any person who knowingly and intentionally violates this part, with the exception of Sections 10-3-1306, 10-3-1307, 10-3-1308, and 10-3-1309, shall be dismissed from employment or removed from office and is guilty of:
(1) a felony of the second degree if the total value of the compensation, conflict of interest, or assistance exceeds $1,000;
(2) a felony of the third degree if:
(a) the total value of the compensation, conflict of interest, or assistance is more than $250 but not more than $1,000; or
(b) the elected or appointed officer or municipal employee has been twice before convicted of violation of this chapter and the value of the conflict of interest, compensation, or assistance was $250 or less;
(3) a class A misdemeanor if the value of the compensation or assistance was more than $100 but does not exceed $250; or
(4) a class B misdemeanor if the value of the compensation or assistance was $100 or less.

So Standard Examiner what will you do to report this aspect of the story? Or are you in bed with the mayor and this is ok to look the other way."

Amy Wicks said...

I posted this on the Standard Examiner website and will post it here as well.

Politics NOTHING-

I did mention concern that a political fundraiser (the Envision Ogden Salomon Center sneak peek event) took place in a city-owned facility before the lease for its current occupants took effect to Mr. Schwebke in my email response to his questions for this story.

It was not mentioned in the article.

OgdenLover said...

An Open Letter to Ogden from John Montague has been buried for over a month in Flowers & Darts. I think it's especially appropriate now.

RudiZink said...

Thanks for the link OgdenLover. Indeed, Mr. Monague's essay is right on point.

Tom's two bits worth said...

Standard Post on this story:


FaNURE is a first cousin to MaNURE. They both share strong family traits relating to their odoriferous natures. They are both closely related to the mayor in this criminal case that is unfolding - thanks to the suddenly curious Mr. Schwepke.

To Mr. S, the editor and publisher that are allowing him to do it and to the whole group of Suits in Sandusky - thanks for doing your fourth estate duties by shining a light on this shameful episode in Ogden's history.

david s. said...

It seemed clear Blain Johnson broke the law when he created the fictitious Friends of Northern Utah Real Estate to conceal the fact that Envision Ogden paid for his campaign. But since he only broke a city ordinance, and since the mayor has apparently instructed the city attorney not to prosecute, it seemed a moot point.

We also knew that when the Salomon Center was used as a political fundraiser for the mayor’s slate of candidates, city laws were broken. But again, the city attorney works for the mayor, so nothing was done.

But now that Politics Nothing has pointed out that state laws were probably also broken, there is another avenue to address these activities that I suspect should be followed up.

The main penalty for either Blain Johnson or Matt Godfrey is to lose their public offices which are supposed to be positions of trust. Frankly, if they would simply resign I would want to see the matter closed so everybody could move on. Blain has a successful law firm and Matt could get a job in lots of places, I would think. I suspect they want this issue to quietly go away but it appears it will keep getting worse for them. And I fear that were a prosecutor to poke around they could find what is presently known is just the tip of the iceberg. Why not put it all to rest by resigning, casting things in a beneficial light, and moving on?

All in all, I can see how these guys, caught up in the moment and perhaps in themselves, thought this was all okay or at least would never be on the radar screen. Unfortunately, they were wrong on both counts. We all make mistakes. What is respected is when somebody admits it, takes the lumps, and apologizes.

This is good investigative work by the local paper by the way, by Scott Schwebke, and also by Dan S.

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