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.
Ouch!

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?

32 comments:

Curmudgeon said...

I wonder again why this sort of simple document track-down is not being done, routinely, by the Standard Examiner. The paper has [rightly] opposed limits on the GRAMA statute. You'd think the paper then would be an active user of the statute to fact-check the claims of elected officials.

"Can you document your claim, Mr. Mayor [Councilman/Representative/Senator/Commissioner/etc.]?" should be an all-but automatic follow-up question to many statements and claims by elected officials or their appointees. And if the answer is "no" [meaning the official either cannot or will not], the reporter involved should instantly reach for the handy-dandy pack of blank GRAMA forms he carries always as basic equipment.

worn out Godfrey observer said...

Bless Dan S. for sticking to the odor that follows everything our Mayor is involved with.

Britney Spears said...

Honestly, I think we should just trust our Mayor in every decision he makes and should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens.

monotreme said...

In the earlier thread, Googleguy posted thusly:

76-8-402. Misusing public monies.
(1) Every public officer of this state or a political subdivision, or of any county, city, town, precinct, or district of this state, and every other person charged, either by law or under contract, with the receipt, safekeeping, transfer, disbursement, or use of public monies commits an offense if the officer or other charged person:
(a) appropriates the money or any portion of it to his own use or benefit or to the use or benefit of another without authority of law;
(b) loans or transfers the money or any portion of it without authority of law;
(c) fails to keep the money in his possession until disbursed or paid out by authority of law;
(d) unlawfully deposits the money or any portion in any bank or with any other person;
(e) knowingly keeps any false account or makes any false entry or erasure in any account of or relating to the money;
(f) fraudulently alters, falsifies, conceals, destroys, or obliterates any such account;
(g) willfully refuses or omits to pay over, on demand, any public monies in his hands, upon the presentation of a draft, order, or warrant drawn upon such monies by competent authority;
(h) willfully omits to transfer the money when the transfer is required by law; or
(i) willfully omits or refuses to pay over, to any officer or person authorized by law to receive it, any money received by him under any duty imposed by law so to pay over the same.
(2) A violation of Subsection (1) is a felony of the third degree, except it is a felony of the second degree if:
(a) the value of the money exceeds $5,000;
(b) the amount of the false account exceeds $5,000;
(c) the amount falsely entered exceeds $5,000;
(d) the amount that is the difference between the original amount and the fraudulently altered amount exceeds $5,000; or
(e) the amount falsely erased, fraudulently concealed, destroyed, obliterated, or falsified in the account exceeds $5,000.
(3) In addition to the penalty described in Subsection (2), a public officer who violates Subsection (1) is subject to the penalties described in Section 76-8-404.
Amended by Chapter 106, 1999 General Session

==================================

Looks to me like this matter is worthy of investigation by the appropriate authorities.

Dan S. said...

As I see it, the bottom line here is that the administration has used most of the $100,000 allocated by the city council to cover the ice tower design expenses, even though the city council prohibited spending that money until the rest of the funding for actually constructing the tower was in place. So the administration is operating outside the council-approved budget.

But then, this administration also claims that the council has no authority to put policy statements into a budget ordinance.

monotreme said...

Dan:

Since council passed the budget, and the Mayor signed it, such a transfer would be "without authority of law", would it not?

Dan S. said...

Monotreme,

Yes, I'd say so. But who's gonna enforce the law?

monotreme said...

Dan:

It would be interesting to explore the answer to your question.

stephanie said...

Godfrey doesn't lie much, does he.

wildcat said...

Am I missing something here? The response from Mansell reads as follows: "RECORD DOES NOT EXIST. No revenue or expenditure activity associated with the Ice Tower has occurred SINCE (emphasis added) March 9, 2009."
What about activity before March 9?

Dan S. said...

wildcat,

March 9 was the date of my last GRAMA request regarding the ice tower. At that time the had no record of any receipts to cover the $63,000.

RudiZink said...

read carefully, wildcat. This is the language I used in my main post:

"...seeking Ice Tower related documents to show whether the purported $62,949.82 donation had been received in the interval since his previous March 9, 2009 GRAMA request".

I talked with Dan about this during the a.m., btw; and he confirms that there are NO gaps in his continuing GRAMA requests on this issue.

His previous GRAMA request was fulfilled on March 9 of this year with no transactions found up to that date. It's the same response this time around, despite John Patterson's unsupported assertions to the contrary.

The latest amounts to a mere update, in other words.

Once again, the City Recorder's office once again can provide NO EVIDENCE that Godfrey's misuse of public funds was ever "covered" by any anonymous donation.

Them's the facts in evidence.

Everyone needs to weigh the evidence... and deal with it.

ozboy said...

"Who's gonna enforce the law"

Therein lies the real dilemma with the present Utah one party scene.

Most of the laws that Mr. Godfrey and his inner circle of incompetents routinely break are local city and state laws.

As we have seen on numerous occasions, the enforcers of the local laws - Greiner, DeCaria, Williams and other stooges in high places absolutely refuse to even entertain that there is something to investigate with the Godfreyite movement.

The state authorities that supposedly have the duty to investigate and prosecute official wrong doing - mainly the state attorney general - has also turned down a number of requests by citizens - tried and true - who came to them with hard evidence of gross official misconduct in Ogden.

Bottom line is that Republicans don't investigate Republicans in Utah. The results of course gave us the likes of Southwick, Ogden, Affleck, Koerber, Workman, Godfrey, Patterson and countless other scoundrels who should have been outed years before they were. Hell, a couple on that list are still out there doing their "thing"!

Unfortunately the only logical recourse - the Feds - apparently do not get involved with enforcing state and local laws.

It really is a sad sham, this idea that in Utah there really is justice that applies to the wealthy and politically connected as well as to the citizenry. The truth of it is that the Godfreyites operate outside the law with impunity and they are unable to differentiate between legal and ethical.

In a certain sense, we are still the "lawless west".

What would jesus say said...

Little Lying Matty's Facebook friends

A Geiger said...

It's obvious! Cindi is lying!

Curmudgeon said...

Seems to me we're a long way from knowing yet, with any certainty, exactly what happened vis-a-vis the money. But presuming one possibility offered above --- that the Administration used the Council-approved $100K to cover design expenses despite that grant's being contingent on The Tower first raising the full amount needed for completion --- is correct, then it seems to me the body that has standing to bring the matter to a court, with good prospects for winning, is the Ogden City Council.

wildcat said...

Rudi,
I read your main post carefully. And that's why my question was what it was. Thanks Dan for answering it.

RudiZink said...

Glad to see you got your question answered, wildcat.

Bill C. said...

It's really quite simple, as usual. Caught with his pants down, he lies. It's his first second and third reaction due to his nature.
But it was not going to end up a lie, as a last resort, his campain stash of cash would have, or soon will be, lightened $63,000 plus the amount of any tax liability and anonymously donated to repay the City.
The fact that this hasn't happened yet should be interpreted to mean, " this icicle project is so stupid and foolish that even the largest promoter of the project, the mayor, wouldn't put one penny of his own money towards the project."

googlegirl said...

Godfrey = Narcissistic personality disorder

woodstein said...

This really isn't new news is it? I believe the Standard reported several months ago that city officials reported a donor had pledged money for it not that the money had been received. Taking public records and slapping them up on this blog and then Monday morning quarterbacking what it means isn't a great feat. Careful analysis and talking to both sides involed is more valuable. If you ask questions of the right people you may not like the balanced answers that you get.

Bill C. said...

Well Woodstien, fact is, money was improperly spent, then promised to be replaced. Still hasn't happened and the fiscal year ended on the last day of June.
Somewhere in this years budget there is a $63,000 shortfall, what department eats it? And it is curiously close to a crime, if it isn't in fact a crime.
And it is news, the money still has not been replaced.

monotreme said...

That "anonymous donor" better show up pretty soon, Woodstein.

RudiZink said...

If you're a real journalist I'm a clock, "Woodstein."

The nut of the original cover story, in which the Standard-Examiner reported that a benificent Ogden benefactor had picked up the tab for the unbudgeted $63 grand that Godfrey frittered away on the Ice Tower project, seems to be false, based on the documentary evidence to date.

The ball's now in the Gondola-Exanimer's court at this point, AFAIC.

And when you write up the story... don't forget to post a live link to a copy of the cancelled check.

At this point, the burden of proof has been shifted to Boss Godfrey.

Val Southwick said...

Gosh, you're right, Woodstein. Mayor Godfrey and Pureheart Patterson have always told the complete and absolute truth...

...haven't they?

RudiZink said...

And one more thing, Woodstein. If Godfrey suddenly comes up with a secret book entry, showing the receipt of a $63 thousand donation, he's also guilty of a technical misappropriation of funds, assuming he didn't submit the matter to the city council for a lawful budget amendment, not to mention a GRAMA violation.

Any way you cut it, Godfrey comes off looking like the crook he is.

He really stepped in it this time, I believe.

carolina beaches said...

Rudi: The key word in the Standard-Examiner article is "agreed" Accuracy, rudi, accuracy.

monotreme said...

Sunny Beaches:

Ok, great. We'll be looking forward to seeing a copy of the promissory note posted up here sometime soon.

Dan S. said...

There was no promissory note--or at least, if there was, the city lied in response to my March GRAMA request. The promise from the anonymous contributor was apparently verbal. But the city apparently had enough faith in it that they canceled their invoice billing Ogden Climbing Parks for the $63,000.

Wimpy said...

I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

libertarian in purgatory said...

if an ice tower is a sound business plan, then there is it a few million who would be glad to make an investment. i like ice climbing. but not 2 million of my fortune worth. the fact is that an ice tower would need to bring in about 10,000 dollars a day to be profitable and show a reasonable return to investors. there just are not enough ice climbers in the greater area, plus out of town adventure experts, to build it without it costing lots of non-climbers/property owners 75 cents each per day. like the ifly, another good idea that does not have sufficient user base.
if you build it, they might come. once, twice if you are lucky.

geodude86 said...

Okay, Carolina Beaches, I guess I'll just "agree" to pay my property taxes and everything will be okay with the city/county..I won't bother writing the check.

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