Wednesday, August 05, 2009

City Council Meeting Post Mortem; Godfrey Again Blows His Top

Boss Godfrey adds the term "outlaw" to his already eye-popping public resume

In the wake of last night's lively and uplifting council session, Scott Schwebke provides a City Council meeting post-mortem this morning, focusing mainly on Boss Godfrey's reaction to the council's 5-2 veto override vote. Sadly, the citizens of Ogden City are once again presented with the disturbing spectacle of a surly and emotionally out of control mayor, who this time announces his intention to willfully disobey the law:   Godfrey is so wrong on so many counts that we hardly know where to start. Suffice it to say however that the council's budget policy language now remains intact, and that the new budget ordinance at this juncture carries the full force of law and the legal presumption of validity.

If Godfrey chooses to challenge the policy provisions of the ordinance through acts of civil disobedience, the legal burden will fall upon Godfrey to overturn the ordinance. If he chooses to wilfully violate the law and invite possible criminal sanctions, he does so at his own risk. "If you can't do the time; don't do the crime," as the old jailhouse axiom goes.

Hopefully our child-like Emerald City mayor will soon recover from his post-council session petulance, and rejoin the Emerald City political mainstream. If he does choose to challenge the ordinance in court, we believe he should do it the grownup way, by filing a civil lawsuit seeking injunctive relief. Hopefully City Attorney Gary Williams will take Godfrey aside, cease playing the part of Godfrey's "yes man" for at least a few minutes, and explain the realities of the situation. Yes, Godfrey's planned course of action does have a possible downside, inasmuch as it could conceivably land him behind bars.

That's our take; and we're stickin' to it.

Before closing, we'd also like to offer a hearty Weber County From Tip O' the Hat to the five city council members, Garcia, Gochnour, Jeske, Stephens and Wicks, who fulfilled their civic duty and did what was "right." We've had a passive and semi-dysfunctional city council in Ogden City for far too long, and it's exciting to see our city legislature re-embracing its lawful policy-making function and finally emerging as a truly co-equal municipal government branch.

Take it away, O Gentle Ones. There's much to discuss again this morning. Yesterday's comments section is growing a mite long and unwieldy. Time to fire up a new discussion thread, we think.

61 comments:

Curmudgeon said...

There is a good example in this morning's SL Trib of the problems that come along with drop-in journalism --- you know, the sort the SL Trib does with respect to Ogden. One of its reporters drops in now and then when there's a particularly spectacular fire, gory car crash or chilling murder, and now and then maybe something else. The most recent drop-in report by reporter Christopher Smart [link here] is a story about last night's Council meeting. And here is how the Trib's occasional visiting reporter characterized the confrontation between the Mayor and the Council:

"As much as anything, the dispute highlights growing tension between Ogden's dynamic mayor and those on the council who see his administration as being less than transparent. "

A dynamic mayor versus some who think he's not quite as transparent as he should be? The core issue was "dynamism" vs "transparency?" It was about the Council's unhappiness with Hizzonah's dynamic administration?

The SE's straightforward report by Mr. Schwebke avoids Mr. Smart's embellishments.

For sound straight reporting, the palm goes to the SE this time. Maybe we can discuss Ogden matters with Mr. Smart next time a fire, car crash or murder reminds the SL Trib that Ogden exists.

Report Accurately said...

It sounds as though the Tribune's Chris Smart has also been bought and paid for by the "Dynamic Mayor."

IF I subscribed to SL Trib, I would cancel my subscription for publishing such a ridiculous article. With such reporting, the SL paper will NEVER have many Ogden subscribers.

HooRay! said...

The Mayor's refusal to follow the law (ordinance is grounds to have him removed from office. He is breaking the law and it doesn't matter whether it's a misdeamor or a felony, he would need to resign or be removed from office according to State Code and Ogden ordinance.

Let's hope he keeps his word and doesn't keep the law.

I think that Chair Wicks would then be the Mayor. What an improvement! Sane suggestions for the city! No more hairbrained "visions!"

Oh, let's hope he keeps his word this time!

Jim Hutchins said...

I agree with Rudi's analysis in the main article above.

I went back and re-read Martindale, because, unlike some chief executive officers I know, I am willing to be proven wrong:

Simply stated, legislative powers are policy making powers, while executive powers are policy execution powers. Legislative power, as distinguished from executive power, is the authority to make laws, but not to enforce them or appoint the agents charged with the duty to make such enforcement. The latter are executive functions. They are the acts necessary to carry out legislative policies and purposes and are deemed acts of administration.
...
The policy-making powers reserved to the Council clearly do not encompass decisions to buy or sell property or to otherwise manage it. On the contrary, those policy-making powers only pertain to its authority to prescribe by ordinance the general rules to be followed by the executive branch in exercising its powers of property management. We consequently hold that the management of city property, including its sale and purchase, is an executive function reserved to the Mayor.


And of course, bear in mind that the Utah Legislature had a further say on this issue post-Martindale.

Still, it seems to me that the court's definitions in Martindale still stand.

If we accept the court's definition of policy making vs policy executing powers, then it seems to me that the Mayor's position, and that of the council, depends on a court's interpretation of that language.

Not something I'd want to bet heavily on, either way. I strongly feel the Council's action was proper, but I could see how a court would not.

However – and it's a big however – that does not give me the right, in Ogden City, to (for example) challenge a police officer on whether speed limits are properly set while being pulled over on the curb, getting a ticket. I don't have the authority to simply tear up the ticket and fling the pieces at the police officer. I know that (as the old saying goes) we are a nation of laws, not of men, and that I have to swallow my bile, calm down, and set my sights on fighting what I perceive as unfairness or injustices in a court of law. Alternatively, I have the course of civil disobedience, but I know if I follow that course I am subject to arrest and prosecution.

Simply saying, "I'm not going to follow the law because I (a non-lawyer) don't think it's right" is an exceptionally dangerous and pig-headed course of action.

OgdenLover said...

I think that everyone who contacted Doug Stephens asking him to vote to override should again contact him to thank him for his vote. I'm sure it wasn't an easy decision for him and he should feel know it is appreciated. The Mayor certainly won't reward him for voting this way, so we should. Maybe he's started a trend.

Rocky J. said...

Amy Wicks is going to be Mayor of Ogden?
Am I dreaming?

Vye Bye Matt and wasteful corruption. Hello Amy and economically progressive ideas!
See you on the slopes at Snowbasin!

Southsider said...

While the "dynamic mayor" and "less then transparent" phrases portray this as a person dispute, the Trib reporter did open his report by stating "line-item vetoes of three policy statements." So he did concur that it was "policy".

Curmudgeon said...

Couple of points:

First, I don't think there is a provision for the mid term removal of a Mayor in Utah absent commission of a felony. I

If the Mayor sticks to his "I won't obey the ordinance" tactic, I'm afraid it will be up to the City Council to haul him into court. It will not be up to him to bring the action, unless he chooses to do so to clarify matters. But if he simply refuses to obey, some other body will have to initiate legal action, I think.

On Mr. Smart: there is zero evidence to suggest he's been "bought and paid for" by the Mayor. His mischaracterization of the heart of the problem arises, I think, from the fact that he only occasionally covers Ogden matters... only very occasionally. But to deduce some kind of nefarious influence on him from his unfortunate characterization of the core of the dispute last night is going way over the top.

demoqueen said...

It's about time someone stood up to Mini Mayor Man's ranting and raving from the top of his high horse! Way to go Ogden City Council on putting the citizens and taxpayers first for a change. Maybe there is hope for Ogden after all.

Bill C. said...

Curm, your defense of Stephenson on the prior thread seems based out of ignorance, you not having been there to witness.
He spoke prior tp the vote, I don't recall any comments by him after. And reflecting on what he said, and his bad acting job I can't help by think that they thought they would win out. I think they thought they had Doug's vote.
Brandon started his comments describing the whole thing as a cat-fight,(possible sexist reference?) and voiced displeasure at the Council's refusal to explore other alternatives.
For those of us that have followed this from the begining, that's a position that's totally dishonest, and he knows it. Look back and follow how this all came to be.
It was the mayor that was totally unyeilding, and unwilling to discuss any alternatives.
The action by the Coucil clearly was an attempt at forging an alternate approach with the real potential to satify all concerns. In addressing the pool it also provided funding for it.
Both Johnson and Stephenson's remarks spoke to only the Marshall White Center issue which I would interpret to mean that they never really considered this as a broader more important issue of Council Authority , Duty and Responsibility to set policy. Neither one even mentioned it. But they both predicted forthcoming litigation, and how sad they felt that that would be the outcome.
Now Curm, at this point I will ask you to think a little bit, I know you're pretty damn good at doing this so; Which outcome do you suppose carries the best odds on a court case? If you guessed the veto standing you'd be correct.
Unfortunately I was looking at Doug when the time came for his vote, I hope the camera was on the mayor or Stephenson, because I'm sure it was a shock to those guys when Doug said yes, not aye, but yes.
I can't help but think that this is what sparked the mayor to go off on his little rant during the post-vote comments, clearly he was not prepared, as evidenced by the many things he probably wishes he had not said. Things like he won't accept this and it will not change anything he does going forward.
Dearest Curmudgeon, I consider the fact that Stephenson and Johnson refused to view this issue in any other way than a disagreement over the outcome of the Marshall White Center as proof positive they had no consideration for the fellow Council members or the their responsibilities as such.
That kind makes them turncoats.

Blaine Carl said...

Here's one for ya: good on the Council for over riding Godfrey's veto. I'm not sure about the political.legal phrasing, but doesn't the Mayor set the Budget and then the Council votes on it and if it passes, it becomes law (or an Ordinance)?

I seem to recall that every now and then the President of the United States will Veto some legislation (Bill) and his veto will be over ridden. He makes a couple of statements, sucks it up and then moves on. My take is why the hell should the Mayor be any different. Things happen, laws get passed and things get vetoed and over ridden.

All you guys are right about this, regardless of politics and the past, because, if I can be verbose and redundant, something ain't right here.

Dan S. said...

Bill, regarding Stephenson, I'll repeat what I said in the earlier thread. I think he honestly feels that the council's proper role is merely to advise the mayor. He came very close to saying that whenever the mayor so much as threatens a lawsuit, the council should back down in the interest of harmony and yielding to authority. He doesn't view the council as a separate and equal branch of government.

Dan S. said...

Blaine,

The budget process is similar to that at the federal level. The administration produces a budget proposal, but the legislative branch has the ultimate authority to pass whatever budget they want.

Dr Honeydew said...

A sad note Paul Newey passed away on saturday, a great man that my father and I loved both, a good man for Roy Utah and a good man for the little man. Rest In Peace.

R. Grant said...

Thank you, Doug, for your courageous vote on this critical test of our democratic system of government.

Doing the right thing feels good, doesn't it?

wildcat said...

Based on Jim's and Dan's posts Stephenson's position boiled down to this. The battle that is taking place between Council and Mayor is bad for the city. We need to end this. And the only way to do this is to have council capitulate to the Mayor. Strange that he did not suggest that the Mayor simply accept the will of the majority of the Council as a way of ending the conflict. But this has been a constant refrain from Godfrey supporters for years -- we need to stop the fighting within city government and all get behind the mayor. Hopefully after this fall's election the Mayor will have only one ally on Council remaining.
As to the Mayor's refusal to abide by the override, won't this all come to a head as soon as his hands over MWC to OWCAP? Won't Council at that point have to file a law suit?

Dan S. said...

wildcat,

Stephenson's worldview is inconsistent with a strong city council. You have to have one person in charge, not seven!

OWCAP has already taken over management of the MWC and that's totally consistent with the council's policy language. The trainwreck occurs if and when OWCAP tries to close the pool or discontinue some other MWC program.

Jim Hutchins said...

Wildcat:

Just to amplify on Dan's answer, this was discussed last night in the Q-and-A between Councilman Stephens and Mayor Godfrey, with City Attorney Williams weighing in.

The mayor signed a contract with OWCAP for management of the Marshall White Center and this contract went into effect (my memory says) Jun 26. Council's budget, with attached policy statements, went into effect last night when the veto was overriden.

So, in my personal opinion, the Mayor signed a contract that was not valid. He should have made the contract contingent upon funding from the city council, but did not. If the council's policy statement is valid (I believe it is, and so do five councilmembers), then we have a situation where OWCAP is committed to running the pool at a budget that does not include funding for the pool after Jan 1 2010.

This is the crux of the issue, as I see it. Yes, the Mayor has executive authority, and that gives him the authority to sign contracts. But all such contracts should contain a statement, "this contract is contingent upon the budgetary authority of Ogden City Council" or some such.

For example, when I was hired the last few times, I signed a contract with my executive employer, but there was a clause in each contract that stated that some higher authority needed to approve the budget before the contract would go into effect. This is SOP in all organizations. A good executive would know this. In other words, don't count your chickens before they hatch.

For example, Council could legally have zeroed funding for MWC, and then the Mayor would be left with a contract and a commitment to pay but no budgetary authority to do so.

Dan S. said...

Jim,

The full story is even more complicated. The council actually provided sufficient funding to keep the pool open, so nobody can use lack of funding as an excuse to close the pool. On the other hand, even without any vetoes, I think the contract with OWCAP technically took effect before the mayor signed the budget. So if the council wants to challenge the legality of the contract, it may need to do so on more general grounds than its inconsistency with the policy language in the budget. I haven't actually read the contract but my understanding is that it grants OWCAP the power to close the pool effective January 1 if they so desire.

Sure, the council probably could have effectively voided the contract by refusing to appropriate any funds at all to the MWC. I'm sure that part of the mayor's strategy was to present the council with that dilemma: either tacitly approve the contract or shut down the MWC entirely.

Jim Hutchins said...

Dan:

An adult would negotiate a modified contract with OWCAP reflecting the new realities and allocating the additional funding for the operation of the pool.

I meant to say that legally the council could've zeroed the funding, so the contract should've reflected that fact. Politically, I don't think they wanted to, and it wasn't consistent with what the people of Ogden City wanted, either.

I don't think the Mayor will take the adult approach. I think some sort of injunctive relief petition, if not an out-and-out lawsuit, is in the offing. Bad news all around. In this, I agree with Councilman Stephenson's statement last night. That is, I agree with his sentiment, but not his proposed solution (complete and total capitulation to the will of The Strong Mayor).

I will mention, once again, in passing, that the words "strong mayor" died 30 years ago with the "new" legislation on separation of powers in municipalities. Councilman Stephenson and Mayor Godfrey persist in using this terminology, and should be called out on it. It's not correct, and it's (I believe) an attempt to "stack the deck" with incorrect wording.

Curmudgeon said...

Bill:

Your post once again amply illustrates and supports the ONLY grounds on which I defended Stephenson: he made no bones about where he stood. He never has. He's a Godfreyista all the way. And so cannot fairly be accused of flying under false colors or betraying his fellow councilmen. You criticize him for failing to agree with his co-councilmembers about the main issue as he saw it. That's not turning coat, Bill. That's just disagreement, and he made his plain. Again, the only point on which I defended him was the "Benedict Arnold" turncoat claim, which was, still is, way way over the top.

ozboy said...

I think one thing is being missed here in regard to trying to figure out Stephenson's thinking process (such that it is), and that is the eight hundred pound gorilla that resides in every governmental chamber in Utah - the Church!

I don't know, but my guess is that's where Stephenson is coming from with his yearning to have the council subjugated to the mayor.

In that world the council would indeed just be an advisory committee. A similar comparison could be the elders quorum and the bishop, or the quorum of the seventies and the ruling body of the Church (the twelve and the lst presidency). In both cases these "quorums" are advisory only and in no way do they have equal authority with the bishop or the presidency. In fact in that system they have no authority at all.

There is also the pervasive "go along to get along" mentality and the ingrained since birth notion that you should never ever ever ever dispute the authorities above you as they are divinely anointed by God in their positions, and we all know that God does not make mistakes in appointing his leaders on earth. In Utah, and in the minds of many LDS politicians, there is really no difference between church and state except for those artificial ones created by agents of the devil.

I am firmly convinced that Godfrey sees himself a warrior and agent of God and that he has been called to remake Ogden by the highest authorities. I also believe that Stephenson believes this myth as well and is acting accordingly.

Biker Babe said...

Reminiscent of when the mayor said, after being elected by such a slim margin in the last election:

"The people have spoken, I am the mayor, and I won't change a thing - business as usual!"

(perhaps a little paraphrasing here)

Just sayin ...

BB

Biker Babe said...

I know this doesn't exactly follow the thread, but I think it needs to be said, to no one in particular:

Go placidly amid the noise and waste,
and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep.
Rotate your tires.
Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself
and heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys.
Know what to kiss... and when.
Consider that two wrongs never make a right... but that three do.
Wherever possible, put people on hold.
Be comforted that in the face of all erridity and disallusionment,
and despite the changing fortunes of time,
there is always a big future in computer maintainance.

Remember the Pueblo.
Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate.
Know yourself. If you need help, call the FBI.
Exercise caution in your daily affairs,
especially with those persons closest to you...
that lemon on your left, for instance.
Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
would scarcely get your feet wet.
Fall not in love, therefore; it will stick to your face.
Gracefully surrender the things of youth,
birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan,
and let not the sands of time get in your lunch.
Hire people with hooks.
For a good time call 606-4311. Ask for Ken.
Take heart amid the deepening gloom
that your dog is finally getting enough cheese,
and reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot,
it could only be worse in Milwaukee.

You are a fluke of the Universe.
You have no right to be here,
and weather you can hear it or not,
the Universe is laughing behind your back.

Therefore, make peace with your god,
whatever you conceive him to be:
hairy thunderer or cosmic muffin.
With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal,
the world continues to deteriorate.

Give up

Just Sayin ...

BB

blackrulon said...

It will be interesting to read what the mayor has to say on his blog. He will, of course, have his supporters post favorable comments on his courageous stand and express shock,anger,dismay and outright hostility towards the result of the city council action. After some people post a dissenting viewpoint his toadies will attack the dissenting viewpoint. It is interesting to note that his blog is like many of the things he does. A big announcement with lots of fanfare and talk of listening to the people. The mayor presents his case, his supporters applaud his stand and attack all dissenters. If you post a question or inquiry he dislikes he merely ignores that which does not agree with his view.

Lonesome Cowboy Bert said...

Rudi. I think its time to once again put up a reader poll.

You've put many good uns up in the past.

How about something like this:

Is Mayor Godfrey completely nuts?"

[_] yes

[_] no

Just something I hope you'll consider to be a helpful suggestion from a loyal long-time WCF reader.

Danny said...

Some points:

1. This isn’t over, is it? The reason Godfrey went ahead with his veto is because he had a deal with Doug Stephens that Godfrey would close the Lorin Farr pool to expand the rodeo if Stephens voted with Godfrey. Stephens surprised Godfrey last night. Isn’t the next step for Godfrey to get Stephens to ask for a “re-vote” which Stephens can do, just like he did on the Windsor Hotel fiasco? Godfrey will be pressuring, lobbying, and threatening Stephens very aggressively right now to get him to ask for this “re-vote”. Stephens' knowing he had an underhanded deal with Godfrey that he had to back out of due to public pressure – that was what made Doug Stephens look “torn” last night, nothing more.

2. I liked the Trib’s write up better, actually. I felt the SE was 10:1 quoting Godfrey’s position as opposed to the council’s, as usual. It seems Scott Schwebke rally only talks to the administration these days. Is it bias, or laziness?

3. The real issue is not that Godfrey is being reigned in by the council, although important, it is not the reason for Godfrey’s tantrum. The issue is that he was planning to close Lorin Farr pool, turn Marshall White into a welfare processing office only, and shop Mount Ogden Golf Course and surrounding land to developers. The council knows this, thus the language they put into the budget. You see, our “CEO Mayor” feels he must have “flexibility to manage resources”. In other words, like real CEOs, our fake CEO wishes to be able to do whatever he wants with other people’s stuff in order to maximize benefits for himself, personally, without regard for anything or anybody else.

At the moment, Godfrey sees the opportunities for graft and self-dealing slipping away from him.

Watch for Stephens to call for a re-vote, for some half-baked reason, during the upcoming week. Godfrey is still planning to put the items mentioned in #3 into full gear. Having embraced corruption, it is all he has left, it is all he is.

Jim Hutchins said...

Danny:

Unless my understanding of Robert's Rules has been permanently damaged by Mayor Godfrey's rant last night, it doesn't work that way.

A re-vote (reconsideration of the motion) would need a motion that would be subject to a simple majority vote of council. I don't think you could find 4 council members who would be eager to see such a vote take place.

George K said...

The funding for MWC is confusing to say the least. The City has been paying $347,000. a year to maintain the Center and pay employee wages. Some rental fees by organizations using the Center helped offset some of the expenses incurred.

The OWCAP contract, states that the City will pay them $30,000. a month to cover employee wages and cover maintenance costs. That equals $360,000. a year -- that's more than the City was spending to run MWC! Plus all major maintenance expenditures of $10,000. or more are to be covered by the City. This contract goes to the end of 2009, and then will be renegotiated. Another sweet deal for a FOM!

The Council put $347,000. in the budget to cover expenses of running MWC for FY2010. The purpose for this was to ensure that the pool and current programs would remain intact until the next budget was developed, OWCAP would have no excuse for closing the pool even if they did not obtain the grants for which they are hoping.

In the contract, OWCAP indicates that there is a definite probability that the pool would be closed after the first of the year. The Council wants to make sure that it stays open and therefore, provided the same amount of funds as was budgeted in the FY2009budget. The Council had the best interests of the community at the heart of their decision and actions.

I, like Danny, honestly feel that there is much more at stake and that this disagreement goes deeper than the MWC issue. The Mayor is testing the Council. If he could roll over them as he has done in the past, then he would move to revamp the Mt. Ogden Golf Course, develop the surrounding hillside (safe or not, feasible or not) with condos and a sports hotel and a base for the gondola.

He has misappropriated funds from the water bond passed a couple of years ago. A project was planned, designed and approved to provide critical water pressure to the Shadow Valley area. Instead of proceeding with this Council-approved project, the Mayor took the funds and used them without the Council's knowledge and approval to start to build the infrastructure and an unnecessary 1.25million gallon water tank necessary for new development and the condos and hotel. This is being done at taxpayer expense -- your increased water bills are paying off bonds that the revenues from them were to be spent for addressing the needs of current Ogden residents -- not to fund a developer's expenses from which he will profit.

This is really what is at the root of the MWC issue and why Godfrey is so upset with the override vote last night.

Jim Hutchins said...

I just want to talk for a moment about the Mayor's continued insistence on talking at council meetings whenever he wants, for as long as he wants.

It is true that Utah Law provides for the mayor to participate in council meetings:

Utah Code 10-3b-202

(1) The mayor in a municipality operating under the council-mayor form of government:
...
(c) shall:
(vii) attend each council meeting, take part in council meeting discussions, and freely give advice to the council;


First of all, if you want to get really ticky about it, the language says "shall attend each council meeting", and the Mayor can't say his attendance record is that good.

The right to take part in council meeting discussions is there. I would assume that gives him the right to speak during council meetings as though he were a council member. That is, he can participate in the discussion of motions on the floor.

Still, under Robert's Rules, which are the underpinnings of the Utah Code, the Chair has the right -- the responsibility -- to set rules regarding the terms of the discussion. The Mayor last night refused to recognize the Chair's authority.

Unless my understanding of parliamentary procedure is completely and totally deranged, the Mayor was completely out of line last night (and on other occasions, such as his arguments with Councilman Garcia).

Chair Wicks, if you're reading this, I want you to know that you're perfectly within your rights to have the Sergeant-At-Arms (in this case, the Ogden City Police Officer) remove the screaming, petulant brat from the chambers. I don't think you should, I'm just saying you could, based on my understanding of Robert's Rules. You might want to check with (independent, non-Williams) counsel, though.

Dorrene Jeske said...

Jim,

The Council does not use Robert's Rules to conduct their meetings. They have another process that they follow that is easier to work with than the rigid Robert's Rules.

The Council did check with Mr. Williams and our outside attorney, Mr. Hall, when we first received the letter from the Mayor stating that State Code allowed him and his appointed replacement when he isn't in attendance, Mr. Patterson, to speak at will during Council meetings. It is true, he can speak whenever. It is the Council's meeting and the Mayor is so obnoxious that I kept pushing the other Council members for a plan to enact when the Mayor behaves in such a childish manner. We have devised a plan and you witnessed it last night. We may have waited too long and made the citizens endure too much before we put it into action for which I apologize. It did work though. The Mayor finally quit repeating himself and was quiet so that we could get on with the rest of the meeting.

Joe Jones said...

Seems like everyone has his or her opinion as to why each councilmember voted on the budget/veto issue the way they did. As I read it, it's ALL politics: Stephenson & Johnson siding with the Mayor while the rest of them sided against the Mayor..except for Doug Stephens. Nobody KNOWS why he voted the way he did. The only thing I garner from these posts is that his vote came as a surprise-to everyone, both those on the council and those on the blog.

Well, how about contemplating this: do you think that maybe Councilmember Stephens voted for the right reason, the way he they all should vote? And that would be WHAT'S IN THE BEST INTERESTS FOR THE PEOPLE OF OGDEN?

I remember watching the council vote on the additonal floor proposal at the Wells Fargo Bldg. The vote was 3 to 3 and Safstein, he has was so often credited with being in the Mayor's pocket, REALLY struggled (his body language, the time he took mulling it over and considering the arguments) with his vote when his name was called (on this occassion, he would be the tie breaker). He shocked the room when he voted "Nay," for the Administration wanted desperately to add those 2 floors.

So, once every so often, somebody might surprise us and vote the way they should--that vote being for what is best for the people. Could this be the case of Councilmember Stephens?

Unique concept, isn't it? Maybe that's what happened last night but not many can see the forest because of the trees. I'm not saying EVERY member votes this way on EVERY issue, but they should.

And I agree with Curmudgeon--Brandon Stephenson is no turncoat. And thanks to this Jim Hutchins: damn, can that guy put it all into words. And as for Ozboy's thoughts about Godfrey being a warrior for God & Church, you might be right on the money. How else could the guy sleep each and every night?

Lady Madonna said...

I was at Tuesday's council meeting and I didn't hear Godfrey state that the council's veto would be a "train wreck" as reported by Mr. Smart. Godfrey may have said it at another meeting, but not Tuesday I believe. Was Mr. Smart even at the meeting. Did anyone see him?

Bill C. said...

Curm, I never used the Benedict Arnold reference, after talking to Dan I do believe Stephenson has no clue and is upset that most of the Council knows thier role and refuses to be subserviant to the very small dishonest administrator that harbors so many delussions of personal grandure. Torrey may have crossed one's mind.
Joe, the only ones in total surprize at Doug's vote were the administration and of course Johnson and Stephenson, all else might have wondered a bit, but good almost always seems to prevail. No one on this blog would suggest that Doug didn't understand the gravity of the situation, and all believe he did the right thing for Ogden, because he felt it was the right thing. Are you suggesting that the other four votes came for some other undisclosed reason?

Danny said...

I would like to thank Scott Schwebke for his Blackberry video, and reiterate that having a local paper here in Ogden is vital.

I couldn't believe Godfrey. He really sounded off his rocker.

Do you hear that sound Matt? It's the sound of inevitability. It's the sound of people who don't believe you anymore, and for good reason.

Curmudgeon said...

Danny:

Well, from the evidence we have, Councilman Stephens cast a difficult vote [for him] because he thought, on balance, it was the best thing to do for Ogden City. I see no reason to concoct odd conspiracy theories to explain... and explain away... that vote.

Councilman Stephens often plays the role of the councilmember trying to find middle ground on controversial issues, trying to find non-confrontational ways through to a compromise agreement. When one side, the Mayor's, is wholly uninterested in reaching a compromise solution, that's a tough job. Sometimes I think Stephens takes it too far, and ends up on the wrong side of an issue. But I have no reason to question his sincerity in making the effort, or to question that he thinks, even when he votes as I would not have, that he's make the best choice for Ogden as he sees it.

Danny said...

Curm,

It's no theory, nor is it concocted.

The council knows about Doug Stephen's deal with Godfrey. Why else was Lorin Farr pool in the budget language? Why not Beus Pond, or some other park?

You need to get out more. Talk to people.

Anonymous Employee said...

"The City Council also establishes law for the city, which are called ordinances. The Administration drafts the majority of those ordinances, and makes recommendations to the Council about how these ordinances fit into the betterment of the city, but it is ultimately the Council who is responsible for passing or not passing those ordinances."-Taken from the Mayor's own blog.

Curmudgeon said...

Danny:

Yes, well, everyone here who confidently announced they knew how Mr. Stephens would vote, who assured us they knew for a fact that his vote had been bought and paid for by Hizzonah, turned out to be wrong.

Sometimes, Council members disagree with me. Thats' never wise of them, of course, but it happens. It doesn't mean they are idiots or have been bought. It just means they see things differently than I do. It also means I have a chance at least to convince them otherwise. Assuming those who think differently than I do on the Council are idiots or have been bought would mean I have zero chance of convincing them, by pointing out things they may not have considered, evidence of which they may not be aware, to reconsider. If I'm going to lobby Council members on an issue, I don't need to lobby the ones who agree with me, I need to lobby the ones who don't. No point to that if I've convinced myself they are idiots or bought and paid for.

I think, Danny, probably, most Council members most of the time, try to do what they consider to be the best job they can for their constituents and the City, even when that unfortunately leads them to conclusions different from mine.

Marv said...

Curm

I think you're too full of yourself! Do you really think that Stephenson and Johnson are working for their constituents and not the Godfrey agenda? Danny may be right, maybe you ought to get out more and talk to the real people. You seem to have a real ivory tower pollyanna view of these two and things in general. Sometime you seem to have a very closed mind to anything that does not agree with your preconceived notions. This affliction seems to be widespread with older professors.

Curmudgeon said...

Marv:

I think I'm right about this, you think you are. Some one could therefor , with as good [or as poor] reason charge you with being "too full of yourself" and having "a closed mind to anything that does not agree with your preconceived notions." Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander, Marv.

As for this --- you wrote: " Do you really think that Stephenson and Johnson are working for their constituents and not the Godfrey agenda?"

Of course they're supporting the Godfrey agenda, and of course I don't think it's wise of them, or in Ogden's best interests for them to do that. The question is not, however, whether I think they're voting wisely [I don't], but whether they think the Godfrey agenda is the best course for Ogden. I've got no reason to think they don't believe that. Do you? You offered none.

You and I don't think that way, but seems they do. Which is, after all, all I said in the post you objected to: that as they look on things, they may well see their votes as in Ogden's best interests. That's all.

Interesting to me that, simply because we disagree about what motivates the Godfreyistas on the Council, you began your challenge to my ideas [always welcome] with a personal attack. Why, I wonder? It is possible, Marv, for people to disagree with you without their being "too full of themselves" or "ivy tower pollyannas" or blind to all but "preconceived" notions. Really it is. Just as its possible for people to talk with lots of "real people" and still come to conclusions different than yours.

Hate to Burst Your Bubble said...

Curmudgeon,

Marv is entitled to his opinion and maybe he just stated how he and possibly others perceive you. It may not have been a personal attack at all.

You said, "Assuming those who think differently than I do on the Council are idiots or have been bought would mean I have zero chance of convincing them, by pointing out things they may not have considered, evidence of which they may not be aware, to reconsider." Do you think that their fellow council members have not tried to reason with them and point out things that they may not have considered or why they should vote differently? Face the truth -- they have been bought and that is why they vote as they do when their fellow council members have open minds and vote as they do. Believe it or not, you can be mistaken at times.

Hate to Burst YourBubble said...

BTW, Curmudgeon, if you need proof that Godfrey bought them, consider that a large share of their campaign contributions came from the Godfrey camp. Who do you think recruited them to run for the City Council? They also receive special benefits that other Council members don't. Get your head out of the sand and accept reality.

Dan S. said...

HtBYB,

In the last election, at least, Stephenson ran unopposed and spent only the $25 filing fee (out of his own money, I think) on his campaign.

It was Johnson who received a large majority of his campaign funds (about $11,000) from Envision Ogden, an organization that was pretty much inseparable from Mayor Godfrey.

Dan S. said...

Correction: Blain Johnson received $12,490 in campaign support from Envision Ogden, out of a total of $16,895. That's 74%. Of the $12,490, all but $1500 was laundered through FNURE.

Curmudgeon said...

Hate To Burst:

Of course how Marv opened was his opinion. That does not make it any less a personal attack rather than a challenge to whatever ideas or arguments I was making about the Council. [Those are always welcome. Can't have much of a discussion without different points of view.]

As for Godfreyistas on the Council having been "bought:" still waiting for evidence of that. As Dan notes, Stepehenson ran unopposed. Johnson's campaign was funded via Godfrey sources, without question,and in ways that violated campaign finance regulations. However, HTB, it's hardly surprising that the Mayor would recruit Council candidates to run who he thinks would support him, and back with campaign contributions. That's why I give to candidates too: in the expectation that they will support ideas, policies, programs I favor.

I heard, endlessly, the same about Mr. Safsten when he was on the Council --- "bought and paid for Godfrey stooge" etc. Yet I know of several issues on which he began supporting the Mayor's proposal, or leaning that way, and was convinced in the end that the right course was a "no" vote on what the Mayor wanted. Someone above noted the same, particularly regarding the extra floors on the still mostly unleased Junction Office building. Another instances involve an appointment to the planning commission -- Safsten did not in the end support the Mayor's choice. If those lobbying him on that had just thrown up their hands at the start and said "he's bought and paid for; what's the point?" the information they got him which affected his decision would never had reached him. Had he been a "bought and paid for Godfrey stooge" it wouldn't have mattered that it reached him. But it did. He changed his mind.

Stephenson and Johnson are, clearly, strong supporters of the Mayor's proposals. That's unfortunate, given Hizzonah's truly impressive record of poor judgment and his long history of preferring secrecy to disclosure and his weak grasp on ethical standards we ought to expect --- to demand --- in all elected officials. But so far I've seen little or no evidence that they'd have voted differently on major matters before the Council had they not been paid off first. That's what a vote's being "bought and paid for" means: the the seller [officeholder] changed his vote in a way he would not have absent his being paid.

I'm not quite arrogant enough to think that anyone who disagrees with me must be either dumb as a post or dishonest ["bought and paid for"].

Dan S. said...

Curm: There are continuous levels of gray between a no-strings-attached campaign contribution and an outright bribe. The distinction is entirely in the thoughts of the giver and the recipient, which cannot be recorded in their entirety and are rarely recorded at all.

At the very least, I think we can conclude that when a Godfrey-controlled organization funds 74% of a council member's campaign, that council member will feel a special loyalty to Godfrey. Candidate Aardema used the word "beholden" in describing why she turned down Envision Ogden's offer.

As far as I'm aware, Johnson has never voted against Godfrey's wishes. The closest example I can think of is when he represented Thaine Fisher in trying to get the two-bars-per-block ordinance changed. But that was in Johnson's capacity as a private attorney; he was absent when the council voted.

In summary, I'm inclined not to be too critical of people who say that Godfrey "bought" Johnson. The accusation can be taken in several ways, of which some are speculative but others are accurate.

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:

You wrote: "At the very least, I think we can conclude that when a Godfrey-controlled organization funds 74% of a council member's campaign, that council member will feel a special loyalty to Godfrey. Candidate Aardema used the word "beholden" in describing why she turned down Envision Ogden's offer.

Or we can conclude that Godfrey, understanding that Johnson agreed with the Mayor's "high adventure" vision, and his plans to continue to invest millions of public money in highly speculative private development ventures [golf course vacation villas, year round outdoor downtown Popsicles, velodromes, etc.], was eager to help Johnson get elected. [Which came first? The chicken or the egg?]

For me to accept that a vote had been "bought," I'd have to believe that the person who cast it would have cast it differently but for the buying. You have a more expansive definition of "bought" than I do.

Gets even murkier than that. As social psychologists [and historians] have long noted, there is for most people a kind of "elective affinity" between their ideas and their interests, meaning most people find particularly appealing ideas that just happen also to serve their interests.

What I object to in the kind of broadside "bought and paid for" allegations that get tossed around so freely these days with respect to Council members is the presumption that one of them who votes consistently in support of the Mayor must necessarily be acting dishonestly and for his own personal gain. May be, but I'd want to see some evidence of that first... something more than " but he voted as Godfrey wanted him to!" which, so far, is pretty much all that's been offered.

Dan S. said...

Curm:

I object to many such broadsides as well--but not all.

It's not "or"; it's "and". Godfrey (through EO) decided to support Johnson's campaign because he knew Johnson would be a reliable vote on the council, and Johnson feels beholden to Godfrey after receiving over $12k in contributions from EO. In most cases these arrangements evolve gradually, not in a single step. (Just like chickens and eggs, come to think of it.)

Also, there are other senses in which a person (or his vote) can be "bought". There can be little doubt that, without the $12k from EO, Johnson would not be in office today. After all, he lost to Aardema by only 65 votes. So in that sense, the money bought him a place on the council and thus bought the vote cast by the holder of the At-Large A seat.

marv said...

The members of the Reichstag had their apologists in the late 30's just like the Godfrey council members do today. Most evil regimes have well meaning dupes that defend them until it is too late and the goose is cooked. Like his predecessors in the dupe game, Curm means well with his cerebral masturbation.

Joe Jones said...

Bill, Bill, Bill--you have got to learn how to read, not just look at the words. You should also remember what you posted:

"Doug Stevens just may not be capable of understanding this at all. Poor Doug just may be way over his head on this one. All we can do is hope he see's the light.
I suggest anyone that can, get a hold of him today, before he gets to that meeting."

Then, above, you posted the following:

"No one on this blog would suggest that Doug didn't understand the gravity of the situation, and all believe he did the right thing for Ogden, because he felt it was the right thing."

Hmmm. Looks like one hand doesn't know what the other hand's doing. And NO, I'm not suggesting that the other votes came in for any other reasons than the councilmembers voted what their hearts felt was in Ogden's best interest--on this occassion.

You see, Mr. C, this is the difference in reading and understanding the message instead of looking at the words and spinning them in your wanted direction.

Review your posts next time.

Curmudgeon said...

Marv:

Likening my saying that I've seen no evidence that Godfrey's supporters on the Council vote his way because they've been bought to apologists for the Nazi-backers in the Reichstag... Well, Marv, that's so far over the top and so a silly analogy that I think there's not much point to continuing the conversation.

Googleboy said...

Ka-ching!

Another win for Godwin's Law.

Hate to Burst Your Bubble said...

Curmudgeon,
In my post above, I questioned you about your comment: "Assuming those who think differently than I do on the Council ….have been bought would mean I have zero chance of convincing them, by pointing out things they may not have considered, evidence of which they may not be aware, to reconsider." (That shows that you are pretty presumptuous.) I asked you: “Do you think that their fellow council members have not tried to reason with them and point out things that they may not have considered or why they should vote differently?” You totally ignored that question because it demonstrates that their minds are closed and that they will not receive any information that varies from the propaganda Godfrey feeds them. One of the reasons they always “visit with him” is that they do like his ideas which Godfrey knew before he recruited them to run for council seats. Another reason that they vote as they do consistently in favor of the Mayor’s programs is they have been bought. I know very well that Brandon had no opponent in his last election, but I live in his Ward and it was common knowledge to those who are concerned about what is happening to their town that his first election received considerable amounts of contributions from FOMs and that is why he always votes in favor of the Mayor. Another reason they vote in favor of the Mayor is because they receive special benefits that other Council members don't.
You don’t accept any one’s word without proof – how about for a change, you prove what I’ve told you is a lie.

Your comments are "way over the top." Prove that they are not bought!

Curmudgeon said...

Hate to Burst:

So, thinking contacting a Councilman on an issue, hoping to sway his opinion one way or the other, is "presumptuous," eh? Well, if that's right, there's no point ever in writing to a Council member. I seem to recall people right here just 48 hours ago urging folks to write to Mr. Stephens in hopes of convincing him to support the veto override. Imagine that.... or were they all "presumptuous" too for recommending constituents contact Stephens on this issue?

As for proving they're not being bought... sorry, but the obligation to provide proof of the allegation belongs to those making the allegations. And something more is generally required than "everybody who agrees with me knows he is." And you should know, if you don't already, that it is often impossible to prove a negative. [Can you prove --- absolutely prove --- that you've never committed armed robbery? I doubt it.]

As for ignoring your point about their fellow Council members having not been able to convince them. I didn't ignore it at all. I gave an example, involving Mr. Safsten, in which non-Council members provided him with information he had not gotten from his colleagues which convinced him to change his mind on a matter of some importance. The "people of Ogden" not on the Council possess, necessarily, a range of experience and information on practically anything that comes before the Council, that exceeds the range of experience and information possessed by those on the Council. That's why Council members often ask to hear from their constituents on a topic: because their constituents may bring experience, information, and knowledge to the discussion that the Council does not have.

I've seen successful lobbying of Council members by Ogden citizens, so I know it can be effective. Even if you think attempting it is "presumptuous."

Finally, this: you wrote "You don’t accept any one’s word without proof – how about for a change, you prove what I’ve told you is a lie."

First, it's not true that I "don't accept anyone's word without proof." There are lots of people, on this blog and off, whose word I trust because they've given me good reason to trust their word. When Dan S. posts on matters of fact here, I accept his posts as accurate immediately because I know he's researched them, and I know if he occasionally gets something wrong, he'll post a correction right away. When Dan posts on fact, someone would have to provide evidence that he's wrong before I would doubt what he said.

Second, I have no reason to think you're lying, and so have no interest in trying to prove that you are. I just think you're wrong about the Godfreyistas having had their votes bought. Wrong. Not lying. Too many folks [here and elsewhere] seem to assume that when someone says something that can be shown to be wrong [i.e. in error], they were lying. Lying involves deliberate falsification. Simply being wrong about something you say does not mean you are lying.

marv said...

Typical Curm answer just full of self delusion, self congratulation and plenty of verbage. The man does go on and on and on with his mental masturbation and insatiable appetite for self aggrandizement. He has an answer for virtually everything and everyone. When he doesn't like someone's comments he arrogantly dismisses them as beneath his intellectual level and with great pomp and what he considers cleaver and witty words ends the communication as if he were some royal presence. What a phony and pompous dick. He is a true master of the universe, in his own mind. With people like him molding young minds it is no wonder the kids coming out of college these days are barely literate. I cannot imagine how tedious it must be for his poor students to suffer through his self absorbed lectures. Weber State must be desperate for instructors as they sure scraped the bottom of the barrel with this clown.

Bill C. said...

Sorry Joe Jones, the post you're refering to was done in haste and didn't quite come out the way I meant it.
What I meant by the gravity, and being over his head, was simply that following a carrot attached to a stick being dangled in front of ones nose by lying little matty will lead into trouble.
The first thing one must overcome is their desire to get what's offered. In most cases we've seen lately the mayor can't deliver.
My other caution to Mr. Stephens is simply that he's not their kind of guy, he's too honest for the bunch lying little matty runs with. The minute they feel they no longer need him, he becomes nothing in their eyes. Sociopaths tend to treat all folks that way, and lying little matty is a classic study.
The gravity of the situation was obvious, and Doug passed that test with flying colors. Had lying little matty succeeded it is possible that all the remaining City assets could quickly become private property of an FOM.
You do know that Blain Johnson is the president of Amcan, owner of a multi million dollar property that was the City's, and what did the City get in return?
Hopefully that clears thing up a bit. Bottom line, Doug shined this time.

Bill C. said...

Marv, easy on Curm, he's always going to give the benefit of the doubt. He's polite and reasoned, he's also a good friend of mine. Please don't mistake highly principled as being pompous. Though Curm may think ill of someone you'll not here him say it or allude to it untill it's a fact.
That behavior is more for us emotionally driven, sometimes we can't help ourselves.
Take Blain Johnson, Dan and I concur, he could be considered bought, Curm knows every detail as well, but won't say it till he see's a receipt.

Curmudgeon said...

Bill:

You wrote: " Curm knows every detail as well, but won't say it till he see's a receipt."

[grin] Not bad, Bill. Not bad at all. Wish I'd written that. [Still chuckling....]

Hate to Burst Your Bubble said...

Curmudgeon,
You said, “So, thinking contacting a Councilman on an issue, hoping to sway his opinion one way or the other, is "presumptuous," eh?” Contacting council members was not what I was referring to. You’re as egotistical as Godfrey to think that you are above criticism! I meant that YOU are presumptuous to think that YOU ALONE have the knowledge and ability to change Stephenson’s and Johnson’s minds.
We have been talking about Stephenson and so your reference to Safsten’s vote is irrelevant.
I will say it again, Stephenson and Johnson are Godfrey’s pawns and have been bought by Godfrey in their initial campaigns for the council seats because he made sure that about 75% of their campaign funds were from FOMs. The Mayor now gives them “gifts” that he doesn’t extend to other council members.
Of course, you’re free to think as you wish, but you are wrong about those two.
Then you said that you didn’t think that I could prove that I’d never committed armed robbery. Again, I disagree with you. A good reputation is priceless, and I believe that there are a number of good, solid citizens in Ogden who would testify that knew me well and that committing armed robbery is out of character for me. Also a search of my background would show that I had never committed any kind of misdemeanor or felonious act in my life. Of course, you will say that that proves nothing except that I didn’t get caught. Really! How probable is that with today’s technology? You are reaching too far to be credible in your arguments. Just admit that you're wrong on this issue.

Curmudgeon said...

Hate to Burst:

Three points, and then I think we're about done with this.

You wrote: You’re as egotistical as Godfrey to think that you are above criticism! I meant that YOU are presumptuous to think that YOU ALONE have the knowledge and ability to change Stephenson’s and Johnson’s minds.

First, I have never suggested, here or anywhere else, that I'm "above criticism." You may be attributing what someone else said to me. I've never said anything remotely like that.

Nor did I say that "I alone have the knowledge and ability to change Stephenson's and Johnson's minds." Again, you may be confusing what someone else posted with my posts. I do think anyone lobbying a Council member on any issue has to think he or she can have an impact [not will but can], otherwise there would be no point in taking the time to contact the Council member at all.

As for your being able to prove --- prove --- you've never committed armed robbery [offered as an illustration of the impossibility, often, of proving a negative], all you offer as proof is your good reputation and no charges or convictions on record. Sorry, but "everybody who knows me knows I'd never do something like that" is a loooong way from proof. As for no record of charges or convictions, that, as you note, may merely mean that you never got caught. But you can't prove that you've never done it. Hence the pointlessness of asking me to prove that Stephenson has never sold his vote. Proving that kind of negative is nearly impossible, both with respect to Stephenson's selling his vote and your knocking over a 7-11.

And now, since we've masticated this one for quite a while, time I think to move on to other topics. Enjoyed the conversation.

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