Friday, August 07, 2009

Ogden's Post-veto Override Aftermath: Will the Mayor and Council Be Dueling it Out In Court?

We'll be keeping our fingers crossed that cooler heads will ultimately prevail
Godfrey dismissed the possibility that the council may take legal steps or other action to force him to follow the policies.
"It's done," he told the Standard-Examiner. "It's over."

Standard-Examiner
Ogden vetoes heading to court?
August 7, 2009

Garcia said the council will be able to better determine whether Godfrey is following the policies after the first of the year when Ogden-Weber Community Action Partnership, which is managing the Marshall White Community Center, possibly begins leasing the facility from the city.

Standard-Examiner
Ogden vetoes heading to court?
August 7, 2009


Mainly for the sake of archival consistency, we'll briefly focus on this morning's Scott Schwebke writeup, wherein various local political pundits speculate on what will be the next development in the 2010 FY budget veto override story:
Ogden vetoes heading to court?
Distilling it all down, we'll say we believe Councilman Garcia and Mayor Godfrey are both exactly right. Any legal action on the city council's part at this point would be premature, under the legal doctrine of "ripeness," inasmuch as Godfrey has demonstrated no actual lawless conduct yet, which could be deemed to be violative of the council's policy statements.

Whether this situation will end up in court is something that only time will tell. Hopefully Boss Godfrey has reflected upon his earlier provocative threats to engage in acts of civil disobedience. We'll be keeping our fingers crossed that cooler heads will ultimately prevail.

You're on, O Gentle Ones.

9 comments:

Curmudgeon said...

The Standard Examiner reports this morning that the Ogden City Council may have to sue Mayor Godfrey to get him to... well, to obey the budget ordinance the City Council passed recently. Hizzonah, in a fit of juvenile pique, when the Council overrode his ill-considered veto of the ordinance announced that he intended to ignore the ordinance and do what he damn well pleased anyway. [Suitable background music for his rant to the press would be Lesly Gore's classic "It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To."]

This morning's article includes an interesting statement by Councilman Brandon Stephenson [one of only two Council members who voted to sustain Godfrey's veto.] Stephenson thinks the Council suing the Mayor would be "a major mistake." In fact, he thinks it would be "insane."

The Council has passed a budget ordinance. The Mayor has said he intends to ignore it. And so the question naturally arises: what options does the Council have to see that the Mayor follows the law? Mr. Stephenson says going to court should not be one of those options.

Why does he think that? Here's what he told the SE:

" We have to be careful ... (as the city council) not to use lazy politics, which means we are not negotiating and communicating to resolve differences and instead trying to force our will on another body of government."

I wonder if Mr. Stephenson has given the same speech to the Mayor? I wonder if he's told Mayor Godfrey that he should not be "trying to force his will on another body of government" by ignoring the budget ordinance? Somehow, I doubt it.

Stephenson goes on: "The only thing it does [bringing a law suit] is create ire, bad feelings and resolves nothing.... There are other options to figuring this out than punching each other in the nose."

Well, he's right about one thing and wrong about another. Yes, there clearly are --- or were --- other and better options besides open confrontation. Unfortunately, Mayor Godfrey decided, as he nearly always does, not to use them. He decided instead to freeze the Council out of the negotiations with a private contractor over management of the Marshall White Center. He decided instead to, in the accurate term used by the SE editorial board to describe his actions in re: the Marshall White Center, to play "Gotcha!" instead.

Cooperation and compromise don't happen --- can't happen --- when only one side is interested.

And Mr. Stephenson is completely wrong when he says bringing the matter to court will not settle anything. Sadly, because of the Mayor's refusal to obey the budget ordinance, bringing the matter to court may be the only way to settle things. That's what courts do: they resolve matters [like disagreements about legislative vs. executive powers] one way or the other. So long as the Mayor's position is "I'll do what I damn well please, the Council and the ordinance be damned!", going to court may be the only way to resolve the matter. [And given Mr. Stephenson's thin grasp of the role of the courts in such matters --- he either fell asleep in civics class in high school, or he had Rob Bishop as his teacher --- his claim that the Council has a less-than 50/50 chance of prevailing in a law suit against the Mayor needs to be taken with a very large grain of salt.]

Boss Godfrey said...

You'd cry too if it happened to you.

Curmudgeon said...

BG:

Thanks!

Rockford J. said...

I am of the opinion that the sooner the case is settled in court, the better.
As he bides his time to play the "civil disobedience" card, he is behind-the-scenes negotiating with Cris Petersen on how to get the gondola, two hotels, and dozens of homes on the bench.

The Marshal White is smoke and mirrors. The misdirection was meant to set precedent in the disposal or "private management" of other city owned properties.

Its all about homes above Mt. Ogden Golf Course, and a way for CP to get tourists up to Malans. When the city council shot down the Marshal White, it screwed CP in ways that we wont know for years.

Court. Now.

blackrulon said...

If this conflict goes to court and the mayor wins what will happen to the money approved for the items that were vetoed? Can the mayor simply keep the money to use on other projects or will it be excess until the next budget? If it is decided that Greiner is illegally serving as both chief of police and a state senator who is responsible for the fine? Could the mayor use unspent money from the vetoed budget items to pay the fine? If the court upholds the council override will we go through this process again next year? If the mayor refuses to comply with a court order what penalty will he occur? If he is fined a money amount who is responsible to pay, the mayor or the city?

Bill C. said...

Curm, isn't it backwards thinking if one supposes that the Council would have to file suit to force the mayor to follow the law? The law is now on the books, codified, an ordinance is a law.
If the mayor violates this law it makes him a law breaker and he's sworn to uphold the law. This would not be a civil matter at that point, and the new County Attorney or State AG would be forced to prosecute. Any constitutional arguments would not arise until after the initial judgement, on appeal.
Now, if we consider the fact that the Council has the purse strings, the mayor would have to fund all this out of his own pocket, or Gullos' if he's in a charitable mood. Not very likely to happen on either count.
This would leave the mayor with only the "cure" Gary Williams to handle the case.
Now I was one of the few, very few, that was witness to the first public appearance of the Council's outside legal representative, Mr. Hall, Gary Williams turned speachless and you could imediately tell that Williams was way out of his league, which came as a shock to no one, including the mayor.
So based on the following I suggest that at this point the mayor, stephenson and Johnson are just blowing smoke.
The Council hasn't bugeted money for the mayor to get outside attorneys to challenge them.
The Councils attorney is seasoned in this area of law.
And if the mayor intentionally breaks the law, for any reason, he loses his office.
Is that a checkmate?

Curmudgeon said...

Bill:

We're not dealing with criminal law here, but administrative law. If the contractor closes the MWC pool on Jan. 1, or Hizzonah sells off Lorin Farr Pool, I doubt he would be arrested. Or indicted. It may well require a suit from the Council to force a court to clarify matters.

We shall see....

democrat said...

Now you know why REPUBLICANS hate law suits!!!

It enforces the REPUBLICANS to obey the law!!!!

Geeorge K said...

I see it as Bill C. does. There is an Ogden code that states that if ANY elected official breaks a law, he cannot no longer serve in that position. By that ordinance, Godfrey would no longer be mayor.

I used to have that ordinance on my old computer. I will try to find it again.

With his willful breaking the law and his misappropriations of funds at the 36th St. water tanks, he may go to jail. (Possibly I'm wishful thinking on that.) I hope the new Weber County DA isn't a wuss like DeCaria.

BTW, Tuesday night, August 18th after Council meeting, the Council will hold a work meeting with the Planning Commission. My guess they will be discussing the 36th St. water tanks. At their meeting last Wednesday, they decided that the water tsnks meet the General Plan requirements, but they are leaving the size of the water tanks up to the Council. Then on Thursday, August 20th, during their work meeting, the Council will take public input regarding the water tanks at the top of 36th St. Everyone who is concerned about preserving the trail system, and open space should attend this work meeting.

I wonder what the Council plans to do about Godfrey misappropriating the funds for the 46th St. water tanks and using them for the 36th water tanks? Good Citizens of Ogden, you need to let the Council know how you feel about this matter. I, for one, think it is time the Council put an end to Godfrey's devious and questionable way of doing business. It is clear that he broke the law when he misappropriated funds and used them elsewhere. What makes it so disgusting is that he has taken the bond money that was to go to fix the water pressure problems in Shadow Valley and is using it to do the infrastructure work for the golf course, condos and hotels at the top of 36th St. The taxpayers of Ogden are paying for that infrastructure instead of a contractor! If State law allowed impeaching a mayor, he should be impeached, but since it doesn't, then there should be such an indignant outcry from the citizens that the DA would be impelled to look into the matter.

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