Friday, July 31, 2009

Another "Hot' Night" in "Booming" Emerald City

Leshemville was once again the very "hottest" Godfrey "high adventure" neighborhood again last night... down there in Ogden's Official Arson Zone

By Godfrey's Smarter Cousin

Here's a story which suddenly popped up on the SE live website this afternoon:
Officials question man after fire burns abandoned Ogden home
If you like tall and hot licking flames, glowing coals which used to be inhabited residences... and the faint aromatic hint of airborne asbestos wafting all over Weber County during the wee hours of a hot July Wednesday morning, then 1962 Childs Avenue in Leshemville was YOUR "hap'nin place" late, late last night, fer sher.

Some Emerald City partiers were DEFINITELY NOT limited to whooping it up at da Junk-shun, which is even now already coming off as mundane, square and "broke."

Nope. For those folks who like to spend Emerald City summer nights sitting next to an exciting & glowing outdoor bonfirefire, Leshemville was definitely the place to be in the wee hours of this morning:

View Larger Map

The hanging question, of course is this: When will our visionary mayoral hero do something about this, before some innocent citizen is ultimately burned to death, or before some brave Ogden firefighter (who shouldn't be risking his/her life on stupid rear-guard actions,) is maimed for life or killed, protecting structures which ought to have been bulldozed years ago?

Of course, the Standard-Examiner gave our little mayor a firm dressing down on this subject not so long ago, which advice Boss Godfrey of course blithely ignored:

Unfortunately, the Standard has never again "sassed' "His Worship, Lord Mayor of Ogden" on this topic ever since.

Equally unfortunately, with our pathologically narcissistic Mayor Matthew Godfrey sitting at the Emerald City Wizard's control panel, hiding as he does behind the curtain, the little fella obviously won't process any information which doesn't come in psychically, through that giant high gain antenna, which receives broadcasts straight from Godfrey's Bronze Age God-mentor Hisself, via the antenna Godfrey had surgically implanted by space aliens during his childhood, within his Giant Divining Rod Forehead!

Don't let the cat get your tongues, O Gentle Ones.

Powder Mountain Update: The Concept of An All Out Skier Boycott Gains Traction

Don't make a deal with the devil; ski with Earl!!!

Regular Weber County Forum readers will no doubt remember our 7/28/09 WCF writeup, wherein, among other things, we highlighted this Dennis Maher letter to the editor, touting a local skier boycott of Powder Mountain, as a protest against the PM developers' heavy-handed abuse of prospective Powdervillians' civil rights. Well... it appears that this proposed tactic is gaining further traction, as Ogden Valley Forum is now floating the idea of "an all out boycott."

And for those readers who are already saving up for your 2009-10 season passes, we believe it might be helpful to zero in on the eminently sensible full comment from gentle reader no mo pow mow, which appears in the comments section beneath yesterday's OVF article:
Earl Holding is the white knight (or maybe we have a short memory).
Snowbasin kids passes are only $225 for 7-12 year olds. Teens are $350.
Very competitive pricing and an incredible mountain with less wear and tear on the ole' GMC.
Don't make a deal with the devil, ski with Earl!!!
While we don't necessarily fall into the camp which would regard Earl Holding as a complete angel, there's one thing we do know for sure... the greed-head Powder Mountain developers are demonstrably full-time denizens of the dark side. And let's face it folks; Snow Basin is without a doubt the best skier's mountain in the whole danged state.

Something to seriously ponder as we move toward the pre-season ski pass discount period, dont'cha think?

Your gentle and savvy comments are invited, as always.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Boss Godfrey Crony John Gullo Comes through with a Cool 63 Grand

Our ethics-challenged mayor receives his much needed Ice Tower misappropriation bailout

Aha! That mysterious anonymous donor is now publicly unmasked. As gentle reader 4inchstelletos already tipped us in yesterday's comments section, Scott Schwebke reports this morning that Godfrey crony John Gullo stepped up yesterday with a $62,949 check, to replace the funds earlier pilfered by the administration from the city's capital improvement funds account:
Gullo covers Ogden ice tower's design with $62,949 check
Conspicuously absent from Mr. Gullo's generous donation, of course, is the additional $8,950 in accrued interest which Ogden was forced to cough up to Weber County, for use of the now disgorged $200 thousand in RAMP grant funds, which were held by the city during the period 2007-08. We suppose we can assume from this that even blind fanatic Godfreyite loyalty only goes so far.

And this still leaves an $8,950 hole in the capital improvements fund books, dunnit?

Who will be the first to comment?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Junction -- A Good Investment?

A detailed look at the revenue shortfall

By Dan Schroeder

In an earlier article I gave an overview of The Junction and its current financial situation. In brief: Tax increment revenues from 10 other redevelopment districts are paying off the Series A bonds ($7.3 million), while lease revenues from the Salomon Center are paying off the Series B bonds ($8.9 million). But the future revenue to pay off the Series C bonds ($22.4 million) is uncertain. Tax increment from the Junction district itself is covering only about half of the $1.9 million annual payments on the C bonds, and even that revenue is scheduled to disappear when the redevelopment district expires after 2014. The Boyer portion of the Junction is not yet making a profit, so it isn’t providing any lease revenue to the city. Consequently, the Junction continues to be subsidized by lease revenues from BDO.

In this article I’ll take a closer look at why the revenues from the Junction are falling so far short of what was predicted. Looking into these details can give us a better understanding of the Junction’s financial prospects, and perhaps teach us to be more skeptical the next time we hear rosy predictions about the future.


To focus this analysis, let’s resurrect some official Ogden City predictions from just two years ago. Here’s the lead article from the city’s July 2007 utility bill insert, titled “The Junction -- A Good Investment” (Click on the image to see the article at a legible size):

The most obvious inaccuracy in this article is the implication that the city’s investment in the Junction was only $6 million, when in fact it was over $40 million plus interest. But putting that blunder aside, let’s focus on the table of revenue projections:

The most notable numbers are the four in the upper-right corner, which predict the Junction’s property values and the tax on those values for 2007 and 2010. How do these predictions match up to reality?

Reality Check

According to the Weber County Assessor’s office, the actual market value of the Junction in 2007 was slightly under $30 million--and the taxable value was less than $9 million. These numbers were based on assessments as of January 1, 2007, and they determined the taxes paid near the end of that year: about $150,000. Because these numbers would have been publicly available by the time the city’s article was written, it would seem that the article’s author had something else in mind.

Perhaps “2007” really meant the end of 2007, that is, tax year 2008. By the middle of 2007 it should have been possible to predict the status of the various construction projects as of the following January 1. But even then the actual assessments fell far short, giving a market value of $70 million, a taxable value of $54 million, and a total property tax of $845,000.

The 2009 numbers are a little higher: market value $80 million, taxable value $61 million, and an expected property tax of $980,000. The numbers for 2010 will be higher still, but not by a lot.

Here’s a graph showing the Junction’s property tax for the last three years, broken down by the various buildings and parcels:

Whereas the only building being taxed in 2007 was the Salomon Center (and at less than half its final value), every taxable Junction building is at least partially on the tax rolls for 2009. Next year we should see some further increases in the taxable values of the Wells Fargo building, the Earnshaw building, and some of the smaller buildings.

Minor details: (1) The Junction’s RDA district also includes the square block west of Grant between 22nd and 23rd Streets, but none of the preceding numbers include the properties on that block. If you want to know the RDA’s tax increment revenue from the whole district, you need to add that contribution (about $160,000 for 2008) and then subtract the tax on the district’s baseline value before it became an RDA district (about $50,000). (2) The numbers in the paragraphs above include not only real property but also equipment in the buildings, which contributed nearly $5 million to the value and $75,000 to the tax in 2008. The graph, however, does not include the tax on equipment. (3) For those properties that are leased by the RDA (that is, the Salomon Center and all the Boyer properties), the property tax is being paid not by the owner but by the tenants. Unfortunately, the bookkeeping for these properties is too complicated for the county’s web site to handle, so you can’t look up the property values and taxes there. I got the numbers from Shelly Campbell-Bustos in the Assessor’s office, to whom I am extremely grateful. To see a complete table of the numbers, click here.

Why the Discrepancies?

So why were the city’s published projections so far off? Let me count the reasons.

First, the projections neglected the fact that not all of the Junction property is taxable. The most valuable untaxed property is the parking garage, assessed at $12 million. (If the garage is ever used commercially it will become taxable--but for the foreseeable future, it would be economic suicide to charge Junction patrons for parking.) The nonprofit Treehouse Museum, assessed at $3 million, is also untaxed.

Second, the projections neglected the fact that residential properties are normally taxed at only 55% of their full value. The difference takes a significant bite out of the taxes from the Boyer apartments and the Earnshaw building.

Third, some of the assessed property values undoubtedly came in lower than what the projections assumed. This was especially true of the Salomon Center, which cost approximately $18 million to build but is now assessed at only $9.8 million (not counting the equipment). The county actually tried to assess the building at the higher value, but the tenants successfully appealed on the grounds that their lease rate reflects a much lower market value for the building.

Fourth, the projections assumed that the 2006 tax rate would be in effect through 2010. In fact, Weber County’s tax rates tend to decrease over the long term; the 2008 rate was 12% lower than in 2006.

Fifth, the projections for “2007” included the $30 million Ashton Square condominiums--a project that hadn’t even broken ground when the projections were made and that was ultimately canceled. Similarly, the projections for 2010 apparently included a hypothetical $65 million hotel/condo complex on the still-vacant parcel between the Salomon Center and Washington Blvd. Both of these projects were promised to have significantly more value per acre than anything else at the Junction. (More explanation of what’s included in the projections can be found in this earlier version of the article.)

And sixth, the projections were overly optimistic about the timetable for completion of many of the buildings.

The standard excuse for the Junction’s current financial trouble is “the economy”. But the economy has nothing to do with the first four reasons just given, and was only partly a factor in the last two reasons. Perhaps, in a booming economy, the Ashton Square condos would have been started in 2008 and on the tax rolls by 2010--but not sooner. Even during the best economic times, it’s hard to imagine that by 2010 Ogden’s market could have absorbed a new $65 million hotel/condo complex in addition to the Earnshaw building, Ashton Square, Boyer apartments, and other competing residential developments downtown. The timetable for completing several of the buildings had already slowed down by the time the utility bill insert was published, when the economy was still strong.

Sales Tax and Lease Revenue

As the table indicates, property tax isn’t our only revenue from the Junction. It also produces sales tax and lease revenue.

The projected sales tax figures are not particularly large, and we can probably assume that the construction delays and cancelations have resulted in still lower receipts. I’ve inquired with the city regarding the actual sales tax received so far, and will post the numbers when I get them. (Because local sales tax goes into the city’s general fund, it cannot be applied directly to the RDA bond payments. In the end, however, that’s a technicality; what matters is the city’s total revenue.)

The projected lease revenue for 2007 is very close to the annual lease payments made by the Salomon Center tenant, Health & Fitness L.C. That money has been coming in since July 2007, and most of it is being used to pay off the Series B bonds.

The additional $300,000 of projected lease revenue for 2010 must be what was expected from the properties leased to Boyer. The actual lease revenue from Boyer to date has been zero, because Boyer isn’t yet making any profit.

Boyer’s properties (under long-term lease from the RDA) include the Megaplex theater, the Wells Fargo office building, the restaurants, and the adjacent mixed-use buildings with retail on the ground level and apartments above. These buildings are now all finished, at least on the outside. But the office building is less than half occupied, with only two tenants who both moved from across the street. (This is the building for which the Ogden City Council declined to approve two additional floors, which the city itself would have had to “lease” at a cost of $400,000 per year until actual tenants were found.) Boyer’s mixed-use buildings are also mostly unoccupied. Until these occupancy rates increase, Boyer will be losing money on its Junction developments overall. Whenever it does start making a net profit, the city’s revenue will be half of that profit. Ogden Community and Economic Development Director Scott Waterfall has stated that he doesn’t anticipate receiving any income from Boyer in the near future.

The Bottom Line

The Junction projections in the 2007 utility bill article weren’t merely optimistic: they were unfounded and deceptive. Still, perhaps we shouldn’t focus too much on that article. After all, it was published at the start of the 2007 mayoral campaign.

A more reasonable “optimistic” prediction for the Junction would have been a built-out taxable value of about $100 million, which would generate about $1.6 million in property tax annually. Combined with the Boyer lease revenue, this would have been just enough to make the payments on the Series C bonds through 2014. After that, either an extension on the tax increment or subsidies from BDO (or some other source) would still have been required to continue the bond payments through 2026.

A reasonable “pessimistic” scenario is more or less what we have: two Junction parcels still vacant, significant construction delays on some of the others, and no lease revenue from Boyer expected for several years. Payments on the Series C bonds are requiring a subsidy from BDO of almost $1 million per year, in addition to all of the Junction tax increment. If the tax increment expiration is not extended, the subsidies could increase to the full $1.9 million bond payment.

(Let’s try not to imagine even worse scenarios, such as the Salomon Center tenant walking away and defaulting on the lease. Then the city would be liable for another $590,000 a year in bond payments.)

So is the Junction a good investment? From a strict financial standpoint the answer is an unequivocal “no”. It is being subsidized by other RDA districts, by BDO, and by occasional one-time expenditures. Over the 20-year duration of the bonds, the subsidies will add up to at least $20 million, and possibly $30-40 million.

The question, then, is whether the Junction’s benefits to the greater community are worth a subsidy of one or two million dollars a year. Even as someone who doesn’t especially care for the particular entertainment venues at the Junction, I can see real value in creating this new gathering place in the heart of our city. But I can’t put a dollar amount on this value, so I’ll leave the final judgment up to the reader.

Of course, now that the Junction is (mostly) built, our opinions on whether it was a good investment are purely academic. The more pressing question is what we should do next. In particular, should our public officials extend the Junction’s tax increment for another 12 years beyond 2014? Also, what should Ogden do to promote development of the two Junction parcels that remain vacant? I hope to address these questions in a future article. Meanwhile, please share your views on any of these questions.

Secret Donor Finally Covers Boss Godfrey's Back

The Standard-Examiner reports that Godfrey's mysterious anonymous donor is now johnny on the spot to cough up as much as $70 thousand in cash this very day

Well, let's see now. It's only been only nine days since we reported that Boss Godfrey had failed to come through with that secret $62,949 donation that Godfrey had promised, way back in February of this year, to cover moneys misappropriated by the administration from Ogden City capital improvement funds during 2008. And yet, lo and behold, the Standard-Examiner reports this morning that Godfrey's mysterious anonymous donor is now already johnny on the spot, ready to cough up as much as $70 thousand in cash today, almost enough to cover the additional $8,950 in accrued interest paid to Weber County, when Ogden was compelled to refund the original $200 thousand Ice Tower RAMP grant:
Secret donor to pay for ice tower / $64,949 reimbursement to Ogden for engineering, design work
That's what we call results! Howbout a Weber County Forum Tip O' The Hat to Dan Schroeder this morning, for blowing the whistle on this heretofore uncured Godfrey administration loose end, and helping Boss Godfrey get back on a slightly more straight and narrow path?

What say our gentle readers about all this?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday Morning Emerald City News Roundup

Bits and pieces on another slow Emerald City news morning

1) Here's a Deseret News story which has been on the back burner for a few days; so we've finally decided it was time to feature it on the front page:
West Valley City to post video of meetings online
Notably, the City of West Valley City accomplished this step toward transparency in government with little fanfare or rigamarole. We've already called for a similar broadcast arrangement in Emerald City before the end of the summer; and the Standard-Examiner has done likewise. So what say our gentle readers? Isn't it time that the administration and council got moving on this? If West Valley City can pull it off, why can't we?

2) And here's a short letter from the Std-Ex live site, calling upon Powder Mountain skiers to exert some socio-economic muscle; and to boycott Powder Mountain:
Residents oppose Powder Mountain agenda
We believe Std-Ex reader Dennis Maher makes a very good point. For those who are opposed to the Powder Mountain developer's despicable Powderville Town power grab, buying ski passes at Powder Mountain is rather like sleeping with the enemy, isn't it?

3) Although we'd figured this blog had dispensed its final 2009 Ogden Pioneer Days story last week, it seems that these stories just won't go away. With that in mind, here's a photo which was submitted by one of our readers yesterday, capturing an image of Mayor Godfrey, sitting in the box seats above the chutes, at the July 24, 2009 Ogden City Pioneer Days Ro-DAY-oh:

Along with the picture, we also received this query:
"Is Godfrey's hat on backwards, or is his head just on backwards?"
This is of course a useful question on a slow news day such as this, so we'll put this question to WCF's gentle readers for the ultimate answer.

Before we do that however, we'll link to the Resistol® cowboy hat site, inasmuch as our vast experience in cowboy fashion matters allows us to disregard all the other alternatives and readily conclude that its a Resistol brand straw hat perched either backwards or frontwise atop Godfrey's gourd. Here's what Resistol hats look like normally, by the way, for those who aren't totally up on modern cowboy hat fashion design standards:
Resistol Straw Cowboy Hats collection
There's 0ne thing even a non-follower of cowboy hat fashion will also observe after taking a look at the Resistol site: Normally a cowboy hat's brim tapers from narrow in the front to wide in the back. Godfrey's hat, on the other hand, tapers down from front to back.

And what about that little down turned poop-de-doop on what looks like the back of Godfrey's hat brim? Normal working cowboys often bend one of those on the FRONT of their brims, to shield our eyes from the sun... yet in this photo... Godfrey displays it over his backside.

We'll now turn over this last 2009 Pioneer Days discussion to the single lingering final question. Having viewed the photographic evidence, we'll reiterate our gentle reader's query:

Is Godfrey's hat on backwards, or is his head just on backwards?

Who will be the first to comment?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Junction 101

A crash course in geography and economics for Ogden taxpayers

By Dan Schroeder

As every reader of Weber County Forum knows, there are few projects in Ogden that are as important or as controversial as The Junction. But this reader, at least, has gotten through the last four years without ever actually understanding the complexities of this project. Motivated by the administration’s recent request for a 12-year extension on its entitlement to Junction tax revenues (and by a lull in the summer when I had few other responsibilities), I set out last week to remedy this situation. This article summarizes what I’ve learned.

The Lay of the Land

The Junction occupies the former Ogden City Mall site, taking up two square blocks (about 20 acres) of downtown. Here’s a graphic from the Ogden City web site, showing a simulated aerial view facing west, which I’ve labeled with the names of the major Junction components:

When the Ogden City Redevelopment Agency (RDA) bought the old mall site, it acquired the entire two blocks with the exception of the Episcopal Church. The RDA still owns most of the site, but not all. At the south end, the RDA traded some additional land to the church in exchange for a parcel across 24th Street. At the north end, the RDA granted one parcel to the Treehouse Museum and sold three parcels for commercial development. Those three parcels are now occupied by the Ensign Plaza building, the Earnshaw building, and the vacant land that was intended for the Ashton Square condominiums. (The privately owned parcels are tinted yellow in the graphic.)

The RDA continues to own the parking garage, the Salomon Center, and the vacant land that was intended for the Midtown Hotel (these properties are tinted green in the graphic). However, the Salomon Center is leased to Health & Fitness L.C., an entity set up by Gold’s Gym and Fat Cats.

The rest of the land at the Junction is also still owned by the RDA, but is under long-term lease to the Boyer Company, which built the Megaplex Theater, the Wells Fargo office building, and the various restaurants, retail space, and apartments. (These properties are tinted blue in the graphic.)

The Debt

To finance its Junction-related expenses, the RDA has issued three different sets of bonds, referred to as Series A, B, and C. (For details, see pages 63-64 of the city's 2008 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.)

The Series A bonds, totaling $7.3 million, were used to help finance the construction of the Salomon Center. The payments on these bonds are about $550,000 per year, and are coming from tax increment revenue from 10 other redevelopment districts throughout the city.

The Series B bonds, totaling $8.9 million, were also used to finance the construction of the Salomon Center. The payments on these bonds are about $590,000 per year, and are coming from the lease payments that Health & Fitness L.C. pays to the RDA.

The Series C bonds, totaling $22.4 million, were issued to consolidate the rest of the city’s Junction-related debt: $6 million to purchase the mall site, $4 million for demolition, $5 million to settle with Woodbury Corp. for its interest in the mall’s tax-increment revenue, and the rest for streets, sidewalks, utilities, and miscellaneous expenses including legal fees. The payments on these bonds are about $1.9 million per year, and are coming from a combination of tax increment revenue (from the mall redevelopment district itself and from the American Can RDA district) and lease revenues from Business Depot Ogden (BDO). If/when Boyer’s Junction developments ever make a profit, the city’s share of that profit will also be applied to paying off these bonds.

All three sets of bonds were issued in 2005 and will mature in 2025-31. Of the total original debt of $38.6 million, the remaining unpaid principal is approximately $36 million.

Incidentally, this bonded debt doesn’t account for all of the city’s investment in the Junction. The city also used various one-time allocations to pay for miscellaneous expenses, cost overruns, and repairs.

The Revenue

As mentioned above, the city (RDA) has two types of revenue to pay off this debt: tax increment and lease revenue. Each of these requires some explanation.

Tax increment financing is the whole premise of the RDA. When a redevelopment district is created, any additional property taxes from new development in the district go to the RDA for a certain period of time. Normally this revenue is used to pay off a portion of the debt from that development. Under some circumstances, however, tax increment revenue can be moved from one redevelopment district to another. In Ogden, tax increment revenue is now flowing from 10 other redevelopment districts to the Junction. Tax increment financing is controversial because it deprives all the taxing entities (school district, city, county, etc.) of the property tax they would normally collect from the new development. Proponents argue, however, that without tax increment financing, much of the new development would never take place at all.

When the city owns a piece of property, it can receive additional income from leasing that property. The city (RDA) leases the Salomon Center directly to its tenant, and began receiving lease payments in July 2007. The RDA also leases 6.3 acres of Junction property to Boyer, under an agreement whereby Boyer pays the RDA 50% of its net profit (if any) on this property. The city has a similar arrangement with Boyer for BDO, which is now returning about $3 million annually to the city.

The Junction’s retail properties, including restaurants and entertainment, also generate some sales tax revenue. The city’s share of this tax is 1% of sales, and this revenue goes into the city’s general fund (not to the RDA).

The Problem

The revenue streams to pay off the Series A and B bonds seem to be coming through, at least for now. In particular, there is no sign that the Salomon Center tenant might walk away and default on the lease, leaving the city responsible for the Series B bond payments.

The problem is with the Series C bonds. The tax increment revenue from the Junction (including the block west of Grant between 22nd and 23rd Streets, which is part of the old mall redevelopment district) seems to be covering only about half of the $1.9 million annual payment. Most of the difference is being made up by BDO lease revenue, which the city would prefer to spend on other projects.

But in just five years, the situation may become much worse. That’s when the time limit on collecting tax increment from the mall redevelopment district runs out. For the next 12 years after that, the entire $1.9 million annual payment on the Series C bonds would have to come from BDO and/or other sources.

One of those other sources was supposed to be lease revenue on Boyer’s Junction developments. But with so much of its office, retail, and residential space still unleased, Boyer has yet to make a profit. Ogden Community and Economic Development Director Scott Waterfall has stated that he doesn’t anticipate receiving any income from Boyer in the near future.

In an upcoming article I will show in more detail how the Junction’s tax increment and lease revenues have fallen short of what we were promised. I’ll also describe the administration’s proposal to obtain additional revenue by extending the collection of tax increment on the mall district for an additional 12 years.

Meanwhile, the floor is open for comments.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Standard-Examiner: Time to Force Boss Godfrey to Finish What He's Started

If Ogden City receives a taxpayer bailout, its terms should be strictly conditional

There's a top notch editorial in this morning's Standard-Examiner which we'll present for today's discussion, addressing the Junction Money Pit Dilemma, and the Godfrey administration's recent self-confessed request to the RDA Taxing Entity Committee, to provide Ogden City a taxpayer-borne bailout from the administration's back breaking Junction bond debt. The opening paragraphs provide the gist:
Although hampered by the same recession difficulties that have stalled economic development in many other communities, The Junction is still a big plus for Ogden city. It provides a safe place for Top of Utahns to shop, dine, play or be entertained. It has a great ambiance and environment. We can be proud that it has replaced a deserted mall in the heart of Ogden.
There is a money pinch, however, that has prompted Richard McConkie, deputy director of community and economic development in Ogden, to request a 12-year extension, from 2014 to 2026, on The Junction tax increment district. This would provide some relief to the project's bond debt, which is $22.4 million.
If this is granted, it should come with the condition that the city focus on specific measures that have already moved ahead. We're talking about The Junction and, for example, the Ogden River Parkway project. It's time to put an end to efforts to build a hotel/golf facility, or an ice wall, or a velodrome, etc. The current economic situation requires continued focus and discipline from city administrators. [Emphasis added.]
In publishing this morning's editorial, the Std-Ex public joins the throngs of other Godfrey watchers who've painfully observed the now predictable process over the past 8-1/2 years, whereby Godfrey leaps from one ill-conceived multi-million dollar project to the next, without ever finishing any of those which were already underway.

Kudos to the Std-Ex for coming out publicly on this. If the RDA Taxing Entity Committee is persuaded to go along with Godfrey on this bailout proposal, it should explicitly make its cooperation contingent upon Godfrey's abandonment of any further crackpot schemes.

While Godfrey has amply demonstrated his capacity to cook up new projects, and to bully fiduciary decision makers into setting them in motion, he's also demonstrated near absolute managerial incompetence in shepherding such projects to completion.

Remember, folks, the still incomplete (and technically bankrupt) Junction project has been "in progress" for almost eight years; and for a full 44 months it looked like this. As for the River Project... here's its current status after a similar 8 years' dawdling. At the current juncture, the River Project situation actually appears to be deteriorating... Boss Godfrey now apparently doesn't even know the identities of the private investors who should be moving this project forward.

In truth, there's more that needs to be done with respect to both of these projects than even a competent manager could be expected to achieve in the 2-1/2 years which remain of Godfrey's quickly waning third mayoral term.

Godfrey is a like a narcissistic little kid who receives a new toy, plays with it for a few hours, then tires of it and asks mommy for a new one. It's time for the grownups in local government to administer a little "tough love," we think. Time for Taxing Entity Committee, if they're inclined to go along with this bailout, to set some firm conditional ground rules.

Added Bonus: Don't miss Cal Grondahl's spot-on editorial cartoon, by the way.

Comments, anyone?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ogden Pioneer Days Post Mortem

Whatever happened to the Budweiser Clydesdales?

For Ogden Pioneer Days parade buffs, the Standard-Examiner carries a post-parade story this morning, along with a way too short photo slideshow. Conspicuously absent from both Loretta Parks's otherwise fairly decent report however, and the slideshow too, was any documentation of the participation of the Budweiser Clydesdale "hitch," arguably the most prominent, visually impressive and professionally trained parade unit in America. As a sort of consolation prize however, Std-Ex readers were treated to an image of a "loose" parade formation of local LDS missionaries, attired in "summer dress" uniforms and "marching" along Washington Boulevard in route step.

Go figure.

Friday, July 24, 2009

24th of July Open Topic Thread

A quick wrapup of today's final Pioneer Day events; and a danged fine video to put everyone in the pioneer mood

Although we expect that most locals will be out and about today, enjoying the final calendered events of this year's 75th anniversary Ogden Pioneer Days celebration, we'll nevertheless set up a 24th of July discussion thread for those readers who may be housebound, or for others who might drift by Weber County Forum, looking for their daily blogging fix.

As for today's events, we're posting a mite late this morning to roust out our readers for this morning's pancake breakfast. However, there's still time to remind everyone to get downtown for this morning's parade; and there's also plenty of time to for everyone to round up their boots, wranglers, cowboy headgear and other western-style paraphernalia in advance tonight's Ogden Rodeo finale.

And just to get everyone in the pioneer mood, we'll provide this fantastic YouTube video, wherein Austin, Texas guitar man Lucius Marcus (né Mark Patrick Abernathy) brilliantly performs our favorite Mormon hymn, which was composed by LDS poet William Clayton on April 15, 1846, as his Salt Lake Valley-bound Mormon pioneer caravan rested at Locust Creek, Iowa, 100 miles west of Nauvoo:

One of our gentle readers linked this video in a comments thread a few months back; and we believe today's reprise is especially fitting. An inspiring anthem too, for anyone involved in any life struggle, we think. You're invited to post your remarks on the Pioneer Day topic... or feel free to treat this as an open topic thread. Talk about whatever you want to talk about.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday Morning Emerald City News Roundup

Zero political red meat; but still plenty of interesting stuff

Here are a few more Standard-Examiner items which might be worthy of reader discussion, as we enjoy what could be (at least for some of us), a ten day Ogden Pioneer Days "long weekend."

As gentle reader Curmudgeon reported in last night's comments section (Final Score: Broncs 9, Riders 1), the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo is going gangbusters. The Std-Ex has several new rodeo related pieces in its hard-copy and electronic edition this morning, from which we'll select this one, which reports that in spite of our nation's ongoing economic recession, U.S. home town rodeos like Ogden City's are booming:
No wonder the vast majority of rodeos are thriving. Even though some sponsors have pulled out and a handful of rodeos have been shuttered this summer, attendance is up about 12 percent for each of the two major circuits, the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association and Professional Bull Riders.
Now let us see... where have we seen that same paragraph before? Oh yeah, here (second paragraph below the Google ad).

And in related news, we were delighted to read Jessica Schreifels Miller's front page story, reporting that the Budweiser Clydesdales will be appearing at tonight's rodeo, along with various other Pioneer Day venues over the next couple of days. If you haven't had a chance during your lifetime to see these magnificent animals up front and personal, you owe it to yourself and your kids to learn what the words powerful and gigantic really mean.

And there's good news for Boss Godfrey too, as Scott Schwebke announces this morning that long-time mayoral nemesis Bruce Edwards has apparently thrown in the towel, and is making preparations to "get outta Dodge." If Godfrey plays his cards right, he might be able to swing a deal through one of his California investor groups, finagle an RDA teaser grant, and put some newer and more mayor-friendly owners in charge of another typical project to gut a venerable Ogden hotel, recycle electrical wiring and other salvageable components and prepare it for demolition. Opportunity knocks, Mayor Godfrey. We trust you won't miss this golden opportunity to send that persistent "burr under your saddle" to a beach thousands of miles from Ogden.

And we'll dub this final Std-Ex story the very coolest of the day. According to this Top of Utah section Jessica Schreifels Miller story, an Ogden couple has scored a true home makeover coup, by recycling old skis to creatively replace their former vinyl fence. Not only have they admirably found a use for obsolete ski equipment which might otherwise have found its way to a landfill, they've also created a possible urban landmark which cleanly dovetails with Ogden City's main theme, "Recreation Capitol of the Universe." And here's an interesting tidbit, we think. Years ago your blogmeister was employed in the ski industry and is familiar with much of the equipment which is displayed in this morning's front page graphic image. And having looked at the array of ski gear nailed to those fenceposts, we'll offer our informed opinion that these fencing materials sold at original retail for a combined price of over 10,000 bucks! Not cheap fencing at all, if you really think about it. Also a good source of future spare parts.

A Weber County Forum Tip O' The Hat this morning to Ogden residents Joel Fillion and Angie Galloway. We believe this is most certainly just what the doctor ordered for your ritzy Marilyn Drive neighborhood:

That's it for now, gentle readers. Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Powder Mountain Update: Spotlight on Two Ogden Valley Forum Articles

A few probing citizen questions; and an eye-opening overhead map

For those readers following the still festering Powder Mountain situation, we'll take advantage of the current pre-holiday news lull to provide another Powderville update. In the interim since our last article on this topic, our friends at the Ogden Valley Forum blog have put together two additional articles which we haven't yet spotlighted here on Weber County Forum:

First in chronological sequence is a 7/12/09 article, which reels off some probing questions which were asked at Citizens Rights Defense Fund booths in Huntsville and Liberty on July 4th. Among those questions we find this most interesting query, which brims with delicious innuendo:
If Powder Mountain really wishes to be a good neighbor in Ogden Valley as they claim, why is the word on the street in the Valley that they are offering $750,000 to the new town after incorporation if the town residents agree to sign off on the development of up to 10,000 home sites on 1/3 of an acre lots along the base of the mountains facing the Valley?
To find out what else average Ogden Valley citizens have been asking about, check out Larry Zini's full article, which is linked right here:
Valley Citizens Questions
Next in order, we'll direct your readers to this 7/17/09 article which presents an eye-opening overhead graphics representation of the portion of Ogden Valley which would be affected by a new Powderville township, a circumstance which could lead to the approval and construction (if all goes well for the greedhead developers) of up to 10,000 new residential units, situated on tiny 1/3 acre lots:
Read it and Weep!
And yes. The aggrieved Powderville litigants are in the process of preparing their appeal, and remain in need of your generous donations. If you're inclined to want to lend your helping hand, you can conveniently do so via this page, which even contains a handy PayPal donation button:
Citizens Rights Defense Fund - Contact/Support
Alternatively, we understand that you can also make arrangements to volunteer your time and/or treasure, by dialing out to to the CDRF's Darla Van Zeben, at 801-745-4740.

Whatever you do... we hope you won't sit back idly while Ogden Valley morphs into another Park City:
That's it for now, gentle readers.

The floor is open for your anticipated flurry of comments.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Boss Godfrey Tightens Ogden City's Financial Belt to Address His $2.2 Million Tax Revenue Shortfall

Time to put the ax to the Ogden City Community & Economic Development Department?

We'd like to direct our readers' attention this morning, to a couple of interesting items appearing in today's Standard-Examiner. In a broad but slightly roundabout way, the messages on these two pages each contain one common element: an emphasis on the necessity of increased financial prudence and frugality in our city's extremely trying current economic environment.

The first item, a Scott Schweke story, reports that as our city struggles with its financially embarrassing current revenue pinch, the administration is cutting nonessential expenses to the bone, and will be doing without services even so mundane as newspaper subscriptions and window washing:
Ogden to forgo clean windows, newspapers
While we're not happy to see our friends at the Standard-Examiner suffer a $2,800 per year revenue hit, we're delighted to discover that the big spending Boss Godfrey is suddenly examining all the options, in his new quest to stop the financial bleeding at the Emerald City treasury.

The second item, a Gary N. Hicken letter to the Std-Ex editor, is slightly more tangential, in that its main theme addresses what the writer deems to be Boss Godfrey's misplaced priorities. Nevertheless, there is a reader comment under this letter which does squarely address another money saving strategy which we believe Mr. Godfrey ought to carefully consider, as he adopts, however belatedly, a more tight-fisted municipal money management approach. Read Mr. Hicken's letter here:
Mayor lacks the people's best interests
We also incorporate here the text of the reader comment mentioned above:
By: Blue Sky @ 07/15/2009, 11:58 AM
If Godfrey wants to save money, he can fire his Economic Development Team who have done nothing for Ogden but get us into this predicament.
Having carefully pondered this reader comment, and being the curious type, we wandered over to this fantastic Salt Lake Tribune-sponsored site, and navigated to the page where Ogden City salaries are displayed in descending order. Once there, we invested about ten minutes, performed some head counts and calculations, and were both amused and slightly shocked to discover that the 31 Community & Economic Development Department employees displayed on this list impose an annual salary burden upon Ogden City of $2,026,378... an amount within amazing "spitting distance" of the $2.2 million tax revenue shortfall with which the administration is now trying to cope.


Hmmmm.... Perhaps Standard-Examiner reader Blue Sky is actually onto something here.

And what say our gentle readers about all this? Who knows? Perhaps one of our gentle readers will want to calculate the salary overhead of Boss Godfrey's "indispensable" A Team.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ogden Ice Tower Update: The Ice Tower Story Arises From the Dead

Time for Emerald City citizens to begin asking even more hard questions

News is again a mite slow here in Emerald City, so we thought this would be an ideal time to take our readers on a little trip down memory lane. Although we're sure that many of you thought that the Crackpot Ice Tower Story was now a closed chapter in the history of Ogden City, we assure that's not the case at all. We'll report a new development in the story; but we'll provide a thumbnail fact summary first, just to bring everyone up to speed. Let's just call this the short version:

As some of you may recall, on or about May 31, 2007, Ogden received a $200,000 RAMP grant for the Ice Tower. Shortly thereafter, the Godfrey Administration began spending money on appraisal, design, engineering, and related work. Somewhere along the line Godfrey learned that terms of the RAMP grant prohibited expenditures on "preliminary work." Nevertheless, the administration just kept on spending anyway; and by June 10, 2008, Ogden's preliminary Ice Tower expenses had run up to a total of $62,949.82.

By way of additional background, many of you will recall on June 24, 2008, the City Council had somewhat reluctantly approved the expenditure of $100,000 of city funds for the ice tower; although approval came along with the condition that none of this money could be spent by the administration until all other needed ice tower funding had been put in place.

Ultimately, on January 14, 2009, Weber County Forum broke the unfortunate news that the RAMP grant had expired and that the city must return the $200,000, plus interest, to the county, which the administration did on or about January 23, 2009.

(The above is the short fact summary, as we said. You can read Dan S.'s long version here.)

Anyway, as the smoke cleared on this story back in early 2009, several probing questions were on the minds of attentive Godfrey watchers all across Emerald City:
Inasmuch as neither RAMP funds nor the conditional City Council budget allocation were available for Ice Tower spending, "Where,exactly, did the aforementioned $62,949.82 come from?" "Had Godfrey diverted this money from some unnamed Ogden City departmental account... or one of his rumored slush funds?" "Did the Administration resort to some other heretofore unknown source of funds?"
We didn't have to wait long for Godfrey's answer (or cover story, as the case may be). On February 6, 2009 the Standard-Examiner delivered the heartening news: The $62,949.82 tab had been purportedly picked up by a generous (but anonymous) donor.

And here's where we pick up on the latest story development. Being the curious type, intrepid WCF contributor Dan Schroeder lodged a July 1, 2009 GRAMA request, seeking Ice Tower related documents to show whether the purported $62,949.82 donation had been received in the interval since Dan's previous March 9, 2009 GRAMA request. And here's the response which Dan received from City Recorder Cindi Mansell on or about July 7 of this year, which bears this telling notation midway down the page:
"RECORD DOES NOT EXIST. No revenue or expenditure activity associated with the Ice Tower has occurred since March 9, 2009.

While we can't say with complete assurance that the donation has NOT been received by Ogden City from this allegedly beneficent unknown donor, we will point out that Ogden City records DO NOT reflect that such a donation was ever received. You're free to draw your own conclusions about the Boss Godfrey Administration's credibility on this subject of course, given the state of the evidence.

Hmmm... perhaps it might be time for Emerald City lumpencitizens to begin asking hard questions yet again, including this one:

"Does Boss Godfrey EVER tell the truth?"

That's it for now, gentle readers.

And what say our gentle WCF readers about all this?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Troubles At The Ogden Junction Money Pit

A harsh reminder of broken Boss Godfrey promises

It was early last week that we broke the news that the Godfrey Administration explicitly admits that the Junction Money Pit is driving Ogden City into the municipal government poorhouse. And lo and behold, six days later, the Standard-Examiner finally gets around to reporting this blockbuster story this morning. Check out Scott Schwebke's full morning writeup here:
Ogden's Junction's money pinch?
What's immediately obvious is that there are a couple of typos in the Std-Ex headline, by the way, and the the original headline should have read more like our own WCF headline above.

Try as the Administration might, it's impossible to put lipstick on this pig. In simple point of fact, the big spenders of the Godfrey administration wildly overestimated the revenues which would be derived from this boondoggle project from the outset; and Ogden taxpayers have been paying the price for Godfrey's blunder, to the tune of $800 thousand or so per year since 2005.

In its current posture, the administration is desperately trying to buy time, hoping that with a refinancing of the tax increment structure to the year 2026, the project can recover when the economy some day returns to "normal." With respect to that, we'll predict that U.S. credit markets will never return to the go-go times of the early and mid-2000's, a period of economic recklessness unprecedented since the 1920's.

But even assuming that the economy will improve to a point where the Godfrey administration might realistically be able to put this project back on its feet, at least relatively speaking, CED Deputy Director Richard McConkie spells out this less than encouraging "best case scenario":
Extending the project area until 2026 could generate through tax increment, assuming the economy rebounds in a reasonable time, about 60 percent of the revenue required for The Junction's bond debt, McConkie said. The balance of the revenue needed for the debt would come from lease revenues at The Junction and BDO, he added.
That's right, gentle readers. Even assuming under an "optimistic scenario" that Godfrey can con the Taxing Entity Committee into giving Ogden City an additional 12-year cushion, and that the economy recovers to the point where significant tax and/or lease revenues start flowing from The Junction, the taxpayers of Ogden will still be covering the tab for up to 40% of of the Junction bond debt into the year 2026 with BDO revenue, in addition to the millions we've picked up already.

And remember, gentle readers... Godfrey promised (scout's honor) that the Ogden taxpayers would "NEVER be on the hook."

So much for Godfrey promises.

Have at it, O Gentle Ones.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Downtown Ogden Tourism Kicks Into High Gear

Two downtown tourist welcome centers and possibly much more!!!

This morning's Standard-Examiner reports the latest on Ogden's Dining Car/Tourist Welcome Center, which has been the subject of considerable previous discussion here on Weber County Forum. You can read Di Lewis's full story here:
Downtown Ogden continues welcoming visitors by building tourist infrastructure
Ms. Lewis provides a good nuts and bolts rundown on the project's current status, and among other things, also informs us that there will be not just one, but two downtown "welcome centers."

Ms. Lewis's story also mentions FOM* Jeanie Milne, owner of "Choo-Choo's Kafe and Deli." Ms. Milne is working with Trudy Soland, who in turn will be operating a second welcome center at 25th Street & Washington Blvd., according to Ms. Lewis's report. This morning's article doesn't clarify exactly what Ms. Milne's full role is with respect to her Ogden tourist welcoming concession, but we believe her following quote could very well provide some slight hint:
"I have all the tools and tours to get them on their way and then she (Soland) can give them information for the merchants for that part of town," Milne said.
As our long time readers will no doubt recall, it was only about a year ago that Ms. Milne was touting (and assembling) a downtown Faux Trolley Fleet.

We'll be sitting on the edges of our seats, awaiting the next "exciting" development for downtown Emerald City tourism.

Well... at least this is something for our gentle readers to ponder... on an otherwise S-L-O-W news day.
*Friend of Matt (Godfrey)

Friday, July 17, 2009

2009 Ogden Municipal Elections Update: Scott Schwebke Provides a Followup

Our Council Candidate Roster also receives a major update

Scott Schwebke is apparently back from vacation and provides a 2009 Ogden City Council candidate story this morning, following up on the Trent Toone writeup which we discussed on Weber County Forum yesterday. Read Mr. Schwbke's full story here:
Ogden council election draws 17
Although it's partly a rehash of old news, Mr. Schwebke does cover some new ground, with some interesting speculation obtained from interviews with several Ogden political insiders, as to the possible reasons that 17 hopeful candidates have queued up to fill a mere 4 vacant council slots in the 2009 municipal election. At risk of oversimplification, here are the various theories in a nutshell:
Brandon Stephenson: The crowd of city council candidates in the upcoming election may be due to Ogden's burgeoning reputation as high-adventure mecca and progress under way at The Junction, a retail, residential and entertainment complex downtown, Stephenson said.
"Lots of folks (running for office) want to see Ogden move forward," he said.

Jesse Garcia: "There could be some dissatisfaction," Garcia said. "Maybe they don't like what the administration is doing. Maybe they don't like what the council is doing."
Some of the candidates are veterans of municipal committees and may consider election to the city council as the next logical step in providing public service, Garcia speculated.

Cindi Mansell: City Recorder Cindi Mansell said the large number of candidates may be due to the decisions of city council members Dorrene Jeske and Blain Johnson not to seek re-election.
"People see those two seats as completely available," she said. "When an incumbent files, people may think because of name recognition that incumbents are apt to be re-elected, which may discourage some potential candidates."
Regardless of their rationales however, what's obvious is that these 17 candidates have set the stage for what ought to be an extremely interesting and lively municipal primary election run-up. Grab that popcorn and pull up your Barca-loungers, folks. It'll be exciting to watch the fur fly over the next two months, as these 17 candidates jockey for position in advance of the September 15, 2009 primary election.

We'll also again draw our readers' attention to our 2009 Council Candidate Roster, which is embedded in our right sidebar. While Mr. Schwebke was presumably busy interviewing local political pundits, we spent a good part of yesterday afternoon assembling the useful candidate information which was submitted by some of our alert readers under yesterday's WCF article. Thanks to to the assistance of our gentle readers (special thanks to Googleboy), our Council Roster has received a major update. At this point we now have basic contact information available for all 17 candidates, together with an early smattering of additional supplementary information to boot. There's still plenty of additional compilation to be done, of course. Consider this a work in progress.

So keep that info rolling in, gentle readers. We'd be especially interested in gathering candidate email contact information too. Individual candidates are of course invited to provide their own links and other data as well. With the help of all the citizens of Ogden City, it's our goal to be the most information-rich Ogden City 2009 municipal election source on the web... just as we've been in the past.

That's it for now, gentle readers.

Who will be the first to comment?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

2009 Ogden Municipal Elections Update: 17 Council Candidates Vie for 4 Open Council Seats

Special thanks to Councilwoman Jeske for her dedicated four-year service to her community

This morning's Standard-Examiner carries the below-linked city council candidate update story, from which we believe we can fairly conclude that for City Reorder Cindy Mansell, the past couple of days have beensomewhat hectic indeed. According to Trent Toone's morning report, the queue of eager Ogden City Council candidates has nearly doubled since our last posting on this topic on Monday:
Incumbents won't run / Jeske, Johnson opt out of November battle for Ogden City Council seats
According to Mr. Toone's morning writeup, there were 17 council candidates signed up as of yesterday's 5:00 p.m. filing deadline; and it appears at this juncture that there will be primary contests for all open council seats, with the exception of At-large Seat "A."

Ironically, it seems like only yesterday, by the way, that we were concerned that at least one council incumbent would face no opposition at all.

We have a busy real life schedule today, so we won't have time for googling or editorial commentary as to these seven new candidates who have most recently declared for office. Perhaps however a few of our gentle readers can pick up the slack on that.

Please also take note that we've accordingly updated our Council Candidates Roster, which is on display in the WCF right sidebar. From this point on it will be our mission to fatten out this page with useful contact information and links.

We'd also like to take this opportunity to express our special appreciation and thanks to Councilwoman Dorrene Jeske, who decided to not make another council run. Her performance over the past 3-1/2 years has been beyond exemplary, we believe; and her common sense, financial prudence and dedication to transparency in government have been incomparable, we think.

Thanks for your service to Ogden City, Councilwoman Jeske. You've been a true inspiration to all of us who value responsive and open government. Hopefully there will be a candidate within the pack of seven who will prove to be wise and dedicated enough to at least try to fill your shoes.

We'll also be looking forward to your anticipated endorsements, of course, Ms Jeske, especially with respect to your At-large "B" seat. Hopefully there will be at least one among the seven who've signed up for the "B" seat who'll prove worthy of your favorable nod.

That's it for now gentle readers.

The floor is open.

Whatever you do... don't let the cat get your tongues.

Thursday Morning Emerald City News Roundup

Ben Lomond Hotel to be spruced up under new ownership; the Std-Ex calls for multi-platform council session video broadcasts

We'll highlight two particularly interesting items from this morning's Standard-Examiner:

1) There's encouraging news for Ogden City residents on the Standard-Examiner business page this morning, with the following Scott Schwebke story, reporting that a new owner has acquired the Ben Lomond Hotel in foreclosure, following a default by the previous owner on its note and deed of trust (including a Chapter 11 proceeding, which apparently went exactly nowhere):
Bringing Back Ben Lomond / New owners seek to revitalize Ogden landmark
Mr. Schwebke reports that the new owner, Ben Lomond Suites, Inc., is already undertaking repairs and refurbishments, and that at least one Godfrey administration spokesman is expressing optimism that this grand downtown city gem will be restored to its "former prestige as a landmark hotel."

We'll be keeping our fingers crossed that city officials won't throw a wrench into the new owner's restoration plans. Ogden City has recently been a tough market for downtown hoteliers; and it seems to us that a new city-subsidized hotel competitor is the last thing these new owners need, as they begin their effort to get the venerable Ben Lomond Hotel back on its economic feet.

Hopefully the Godfrey administration will show some discretion, and not gum up the works, by offering taxpayer-funded financial incentives to lure yet another out of town hotel operator to locate in the Junction Money Pit. Let's allow these private investors to put their own money to work for once, and cooperate with them, as they prepare to put the Ben Lomond Hotel back onto the city tax rolls. They're doing it on their own dime, folks. If the Godfrey administration has a lick of sense, they won't meddle in the Ogden hotel market, as Ben Lomond Suites, Inc. engages in its effort to get the Ben Lomond Hotel back on a financial even keel.

2) We'd also like to direct our readers' attention to this morning's most excellent Doug Gibson editorial, wherein the Standard-Examiner unequivocally joins Weber County Forum in calling for an arrangement where city council sessions can be broadcast in video on Ogden's Channel 17 and/or locally operated web sites. Frankly, we're having a hard time mustering up any reasonable argument against council session video broadcasts; and will thus add that we'll go along with the Std-Ex and argue that it doesn't matter how this project is accomplished; but that the important thing is that it gets done. Read this morning's fine editorial here:
OUR VIEW: Broadcast Ogden council meetings
The only feature on this morning's Std-Ex editorial page better than the editorial itself, in our opinion, is this fantastic accompanying Calvin Grondahl cartoon, by the way, which quite brilliantly portrays exactly why we believe these proposed video broadcasts are bound to become a major Ogden audience TV/web market hit:
Broadcasting Ogden City Council Meetings
So what say our gentle readers about all this?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Yesterday's Emerald City News Today

Powderville fund raising update; reprise of a strong election 2009 letter

There's not much happening on the Emerald City political news front this morning, so just to keep the discussion going, we'll highlight a couple of items which have been been more or less languishing on the the Standard-Examiner "Live" website during the past few days:

First, as a followup to the Powder Mountain update which we published on Sunday, the Std-Ex carries this information-rich Di Lewis piece, reporting on the Powderville 120's fund raising drive:
Powder Mountain fight continues
This story has gathered a fair number of Std-Ex reader comments. Perhaps a few of our readers would be interested in moseying over there to throw in their own two cents.

Secondly, we'll once again highlight this strong Matthew Campbell Letter, which gentle reader Bill C. linked in an update to this WCF article on Monday:
Vote for new council to "reign" in Godfrey
This letter made it to the hard-copy edition Letters to the Editor column this morning, so we thought if would be fitting to give it a reprise, and provide the opportunity for our readers to give it a second look.

And before closing, we'll again make note of this blockbuster WCF story, which has not yet found its way into onto either the Std-Ex's electronic or paper & ink pages. We'll be keeping a close eye on this, in the hope that this story will not remain conspicuous in its absence from Std-Ex reporting in upcoming days. And now that we've brought this issue up, would anyone like to lay odds on whether the Std-Ex will try to bury this story?

That's it for now, gentle readers. Comment on any of the above... or treat this as an open topic thread.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Is The Junction Project Driving Emerald City Into Bankruptcy?

The Godfrey Administration goes to the RDA Taxing Entity Committee seeking major "concessions," i.e., a bailout

We'll shine the spotlight this morning on a fascinating document which we received this morning from one of our alert Weber County Forum readers. Over the past few years we've complained about the the millions of taxpayer dollars which have been expended since 2005 to service the Ogden Junction's back-breaking bond debt, notwithstanding Godfrey's earlier promises that the taxpayers would "never be on the hook." We've regularly expressed our strong concerns that this bond debt was driving our city into insolvency. From our own reading of this document, it appears that those oft-stated concerns have indeed been squarely on the mark. Check out this document, which amounts to an explicit admission on the part of Godfrey administration officials that we've been right all along:
The Taxing Entity Committee (TEC) is the representative body, by the way, of the various taxing entities, from the State School Board to our Weber County Government, who share in the property taxes which flow from projects such as The Junction. This is also the entity which ultimately decides how tax increment dollars are divvied up.

What appears to be happening here folks, is that the Godfrey administration is admitting (behind the scenes, so far) that The Junction has become the unsustainable financial albatross which many of us predicted it would be. This document now reveals that the administration is going back to the TEC, seeking concessions (an extension) which would enable Ogden City to continue exploiting 100% of the project's tax increment until the year 2026.

Among other things revealed by the above-linked meeting minutes is that the Godfrey administration is also proposing "mitigation payments," (i.e., "payoffs") to the other taxing entities, in order to persuade these agencies (who depend on Junction tax revenue) to go along. This, of course, is the "debt upon debt" to which Assistant CE&D Director Mr. McConkie refers in the meeting minutes... which could come at a high price, possibly in the millions of dollars.

What's also obvious from a reading of these minutes is that this concept went off "like a lead balloon" in the June 25, 2009 TEC meeting, as the committee voted 7-1 to table the proposal and look for other alternatives. Nevertheless, with the 2009 municipal election fast approaching, in which Boss Godfrey's questionable financial acumen already presents a major hurdle for candidates on the "Godfrey Ticket," this latest development will be quite interesting to watch.

And one more thing. Old
cowboy wisdom axiom: "If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'."

Who will be the first to comment?

© 2005 - 2014 Weber County Forum™ -- All Rights Reserved