Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ogden City Attorneys: Ogden Residents Incapable of Rational Thought

Once again, our community suffers negative repercussions, due to the acts of a ham-handed mayor who has driven the citizenry to a condition of near civil war

By Monotreme

I would be interested in seeing some discussion of the legal argument regarding this morning's Tim Gurrister story:
Ogden residents kept from this jury?
The case concerns a wrongful death suit against Officer Matt Jones, who was at the center of the Vangate incident that WCF readers will remember from July 2006.

Editor's addendum: Once again, our community suffers repurcussions, due to the acts of a ham-handed mayor who has driven the Ogden citizenry to a condition of near civil war.


monotreme said...

I think the headline should read:

Ogden City attorneys: Ogden residents incapable of rational thought

Perhaps they mean to say that living in Ogden is prima facie evidence that you are incapable of separating your political views from a legal proceeding?

Curmudgeon said...


Not on the legal elements of the story, but I found the following sentence in Mr. Gurrister's story very interesting:

"Jones was subsequently fired for other reasons, chiefly a July 2006 incident in which Mayor Matthew Godfrey spotted Jones' wife driving a van bearing a sign critical of the mayor."

I imagine that's going to catch some notice at Mayor Godfrey's and Pureheart Patterson's breakfast tables this morning.

And it's evidence --- the sentence I mean --- that SE reporters are not told, as a matter of editorial policy, to avoid providing [in this case historic] explanatory context in stories, context that enables readers to understand more fully what's happening.

Interesting to me that it's the city's attorneys making the argument that Ogden jurors ought to be excluded.

Curmudgeon said...


Snarkiness aside [though I concede snarkiness in re: this story is almost impossible to resist], what conclusions can reasonable be drawn from the story?

Here's one that seems unavoidable to me: the city's attorneys evidently believe that allowing residents of Mayor Matthew Godfrey's Ogden to sit on the jury will hurt the city's case more than it will help it.

Hell of a thing for the city's own attorneys to think, but it seems they do.

dan s. said...

Curm, are you knocking down a straw man? When has anyone ever claimed that SE editors tell their reporters not to provide context?

This article does, however, provide a bit of evidence against my general assertion that SE reporters don't look at documents: the story quotes directly from the written motion, rather than from a person trying to explain the motion. This practice must be the norm for court reporters, who often can't get the parties to talk directly to the press. Perhaps Mr. Gurrister could give Mr. Schwebke a reading lesson.

dan s. said...

On another topic, Mr. Schwebke has an article in today's paper on Ogden's application for stimulus funds for the river restoration project. What caught my eye was this:

"The city has allocated about $50,000 from its storm sewer bond account to pay ... for a study as part of its application ..."

I had thought Leshem, not the city, was paying There may be another story here.

Curmudgeon said...

Been a lot in the public prints in re: preserving/restoring Utah's urban rivers of late. The Salt Lake City Weekly --- issue on the stands around town right now --- has a long article on the topic, focusing on attempts to yank the urban/suburban Jordan River back from becoming largely a culvert.

Two things in the article particularly caught my notice. First this:

"The Jordan is symbolic of the problems facing all rivers in Utah. Unlike states as diverse as Idaho, California and Washington, Utah has no statewide river protection act....."

Second, the article digs out a questionable relationship between UTA and riverside development projects. The matter's complex with charges and denials flying from all sides, but here's a sample from the article:

As Draper City Council began wooing UTA in earnest, among those involved in discussions was Terry Diehl, a real-estate developer and CEO of Wasatch Pacific Inc. Diehl holds another key appointment: He’s a UTA board member and its planning committee chair.

Diehl has a financial stake in Whitewater VII, a developer with the contract to buy the 144-acre Woodside Homes property. But, according to several media accounts, whether Diehl was representing UTA or Whitewater VII during Draper City Council meetings remained a point of confusion for many, including Councilwoman Stephanie Davis. So much so, that during the Nov. 20, 2008, council meeting when the council voted to approve the Whitewater development, Davis asked Diehl to clarify who he was representing when he said “we.” To which he answered Whitewater.

All the same, the confusion surrounding Diehl’s involvement became fodder for several news stories that alleged Diehl, from the beginning, had failed to disclose his financial ties to Whitewater VII. “That’s an absolute lie,” Diehl says.

Worth a careful read as an example of the difficulties involved in preserving/restoring urban streams and of the complex clashing interests of various stakeholders who inevitably become involved. And perhaps of the extent to which developers have infiltrated various state boards and agencies in aid of their designs.

The graphic in the SE article does suggest that if the funding becomes available [very unlikely Ogden will get the $4 million --- all available, the story says --- it is asking from the state for the project], the "build to the bankside" policy [think Bingham Cyclery/Peloton's] will not be applied to the rest of the River Project Ogden River frontage. That'll be good.

monotreme said...

Oh, c'mon, Curm. You know that grants are just like ripe figlets, hanging low from the trees, near the streams flowing with milk and honey.

At least, that's what the Mayor's winged monkeys are telling us in regards the Marshall White Center brouhaha.

rising waters said...

Yes Dan, but I thought that Gadi was only a promoter, not the developer for the project. He said he doesnt own properties in the area didnt he? He only gathered a group of investors for the project. At least thats wht I got from the article in the SE a short time back when they were questioning the ownership of properties in the area.

I may be wrong.

But it is interesting that the city coughs up 50 k for the project study, every time it rains my yard gets flooded by a poorly designed storm drain in front of my house. If I leave town and it rains my house gets flooded because of the debris in the neighborhood comes to the only drain in the subdivision.

Curmudgeon said...


The Mayor's "winged monkeys"? A Wizard of Oz reference? Geez, Mono. Yesterday Shakespeare, now this. Gettin' pretty damn tony around here of late --- and RJS hasn't even shown up yet. [grin]

summers eve said...

Off topic, but Mr. Curmudgeons long awaited Fire Show is happening today at the river project. Grab a gatorade and some popcorn and watch you local fire department burn a few properties for the developers in the river project.

Tax dollars hard at work.

I think it started at 10:00 a.m.

Dont forget your asbestos protection, pretty sure they didnt remove it before the match gets lit, another "we'll do what we want, rules are for everyone else."

Danny said...

Fabulous article, showing the polarizing effect of Godfrey on this city, and of his dictatorial style in firing (and trying to GET fired) anyone who disagrees with him. Too bad the newspaper doesn’t document all the private citizens who’ve been threatened, fired, and extorted by Ogden’s twisted mayor.

We now all agree at least, as stated even by Godfrey’s legal lackeys, that Godfrey’s vision (if you can call it that) is a highly divisive and contention-provoking one.

Another aspect of the story is a Mexican kills somebody, so the gold-digging family looks for somebody to sue and finds the local city as its gold mine. We really need legal reform.

Ozboy said...

Politics aside, it does seem like a pretty reasonable request by the city's attorney to make the request to bar Ogden citizens from the jury. It somehow seems bassackwards to me however. Wouldn't an Ogden city juror, and presumed tax payer, be inclined to find in favor of the city to save the big expense if the city lost?

Interesting how the reporter keyed right in on the real reason Jones was fired - the VanGate incident, while the "official" reasons given by the mayor and his lackey Chief was several trumped up charges they cooked up because the real reason made them look like what they are - cheap, sleazy and humorless punks.

It seems like a real stretch that the city could be held liable for this tragedy. Jones only pursued the criminals for a very short distance before the chase was called off by his superiors. The crash happened 7 or 8 blocks after Jones backed off. It seems the cops in charge were being pretty cautious considering that it was in the middle of the night with very little traffic.

Tough business being a cop, especially in Ogden with a petty little unfriendly mayor and a Chief who apparently has no respect for the members of his force. Ogden lost a damn good cop in Jones as a result of the petty vindictive actions of the two creeps.

disgusted said...

want to know one reason why your sewer rates are going up. partially because the mayor uses that departments revenues as his slush fund. that and the water department. $50,000 for the river project this time and over the past years significant loans to the rda. loans that the city is now writting off as non-performing. your sewer rates are actually funding the godfrey vision.

Brett said...

"Editor's addendum: Once again, our community suffers repurcussions, due to the acts of a ham-handed mayor who has driven the Ogden citizenry to a condition of near civil war."

Rudi, here's another "ham-handed" incident pulled by Godfrey and Patterson just last Thursday. Patterson marched into the Council's work meeting and presented the members and their staff with an "executive order" that states that the Mayor and CAO can speak at anytime during Council meetings and cannot be be ruled "out of order."

Another incident that shows their immaturity and makes Ogden the laughing stock again! I'm sure all the other cities and towns in Utah and especially those who are nearby Ogden are laughing their heads off at this childish behavior of Godfrey and thanking their lucky stars that they don't have Godfrey for Mayor!

What did the citizens of Ogden ever do to deserve Godfrey for Mayor?! Ogden sure has its share of suckers who believed the lying runt and voted for him. I hope they are satisfied with their utiiity bills and what Godfrey really has planned for Ogden -- not what he told them when he was running for mayor!

Maybe we need to ride him right back to Harrisvilled on a rail!

Curmudgeon said...


I'm not sure, if such an "executive order" was issued by the mayor, that it would have any effect if the Council chose not to honor it. The Council meeting is conducted by the Council chair, or vice Chair. They make rulings from the chair on what is or is not in order.

Brett said...


You weren't at the last two Council meeting, when the Mayor atttacked Garcia during the Administration's comment time, and Chair Wicks stopped him. Last Tuesday the Mayor wasn't there, but during the Council's comment time, Patterson tried to outshout Garcia. Both Garcia and Chair Wicks had trouble stopping Patterson. That "Executive Order" is backed by State Law, both Williams and the Council's outside attorney said that there was a State law that gave Godfrey the power to issue such an order. But no one can make the council members listen to them when they speak. Like the old saying goes, "You can bring a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." Guess we'll see how the Council handles the situation.

Brett said...

Rising Water,

When Leshem started out, he was both the promoter and developer. He had plans about how the river front project was to look and he even called the project "Renaisaance Village."

It looked pretty good. Too bad he went backrupt!

Curmudgeon said...


Do you have a source for the opinions on Mayoral "executive orders" governing the conduct of Council meetings? That sounds fairly unique to me. I've never heard of such a thing in the states I've lived in before. I'd like to find more information.

The potential problem is that a Mayor could in effect impede the business of a Council or even bring it to a halt if he found it in his interest to interrupt the proceedings by exercising a self-granted right to speak at any time, and for any duration. Or to have his staff do the same.

As I said, this strikes me as fairly unique and I'd like to track down the statute involved at the least. And find a copy of the "executive order" in this instance.

George K said...

Dan S.,

Thanks for the great graphics and chart so that we can actually see what has transpired since we went along with the proposal for m;uch-needed new water lines. It would be interesting to know what the City really did to increase the rates so much more than what was presented to the Council.

Brett said...


I will see if I can get a copy of the "order" and find the State Code that was cited. It was discussed during the Council's work meeting after Patterson left.

Curmudgeon said...


Many thanks. They told me when I said I was moving here that "Utah is... different." [There was always a pause before "different."] I'm becoming more and more convinced "they" were right.

Dan S. said...


You've got my attention! I tried to look up the applicable state law but the legislature's web site seems to be down. Meanwhile I'll second Curm's comments.

order, order! said...

I would think that under Roberts Rules, or what ever the council operates under, that the Chair would have the authority to recognize the Mayor or his little pimp, or, have the option to find them out of order, and have the sergeant of arms remove the person who is out of order from the meeting.

Not sure, but I believe that is how the meetings are supposed to be run.

Brett said...

Order! Ordwe!

That is how Robert Rules works, but the Council does use Robert Rules to conduct Council meetings. One Council member did mention that the Council adopt Robert Rules so that the mayor and CAO could be ruled "Out of Order," but Cook said the Council didn't use them and besides that the State Code overrode Roberts Rules.

Dan S. said...

OK, I checked the statutes. State law gives the mayor (not his staff) the right to attend council meetings and participate in discussions. But it also gives the council the right to adopt rules of order for its meetings. My interpretation would be that as long as the mayor is given an opportunity to speak on each issue, he can still be restricted to speaking in turn and not interrupting others.

Dan S. said...

The relevant sections of state law are 10-3b-202(1)(d)(vii) and 10-3b-203(1)(b)(v).

Ozboy said...

Mr. Curmudgeon

You wrote above in response to Brett:

"Many thanks. They told me when I said I was moving here that "Utah is... different." [There was always a pause before "different."] I'm becoming more and more convinced "they" were right"

Hmmm, must be a recent conversion on your part. I seem to recall that recently you were scoffing at the idea that somehow the land of Zion was really different, and that you had heard folks claim the same thing in several other places you had lived, thus disproving the idea.

Curmudgeon said...


Thought you'd light on that when I posted it.

Well, Oz, there are things they do in Wheeziana that aren't done in Utah or anywhere else that I know of. Every state I've moved to, people have warned me "it's... different in X." [With the pause.]

I will admit that this provision... if Hizzonah's view of it is valid [which I am skeptical about] is unique in my knowledge. The potential for abuse is great. It would seriously undermine the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances in city government. [What could possibly be more bed-rock fundamental than a Council having the authority to conduct its own meetings?]

I wonder if Hizzonah's interpretation of the statute has ever been tested in court? [Which is another way of saying I wonder if any other Mayor in Utah's modern history has thought he had the power to demand, as a matter of right, to speak at a Council meeting whenever he choose and for however long he chose without risk of being ruled "out of order" by the Council chair?]

What's next, I wonder? An executive order requiring all Council members to kiss his ring before a Council meeting can be called to order?

googlegirl said...

Utah Code Section 10-3b-202
Utah Code Section 10-3b-203

Anonymous said...

Democracy is a fragile thing.

History: 300 years of Democracy, followed by 2500 years of Pharaoh.

Ozboy said...

Mr. Curmudgeon

It is very unfortunate that you have brought up the ring kissing thing. You only give our Dear Leader something to think about with that idea. It is already a possibility that he will order up the council to be his portable throne bearers so that his entrance into his inner sanctum, FKA Council Chambers, will be more regal befitting his stature as Lord Mayor, Savior of Ogden and Grand PooBah of all he surveys.

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