Monday, August 03, 2009

Stop The Presses: The Standard-Examiner Advocates Financial Caution & Prudence

A palpable editorial shift from "cheerleader" to "taxpayer watchdog?"
Any personal guarantee should come from investors. No guarantee should ever be expected from taxpayers.[...]
Any public official who gambles with taxpayers' dollars is not serving the people.[...]
If the hotel's the potential cash mine that officials seem to believe it is, no public/private deals that leave taxpayers potentially on the hook are necessary.

Standard-Examiner Editorial
OUR VIEW: Tread carefully with hotel plans
August 3, 2009

Sound and sensible editorial in this morning's Standard-Examiner, calling upon Davis County officials to exercise caution and prudence in their effort to lure a Wyoming investor to "partner" in bringing the city of Farmington its first hotel:
OUR VIEW: Tread carefully with hotel plans
Although this morning's editorial specifically addresses a Davis County project, we believe the principles espoused in this editorial ought to be regarded as generally and broadly applicable to any project which contemplates "public/private partnering." This editorial could be quite significant, we believe, inasmuch as the Std-Ex editorial board now seems to have gone so far as to advocate the execution of personal guarantees on the part of investors who may become involved in this particular project, among other taxpayer safeguards. This is the first time, in our recollection at least, that we've heard anything of this kind from the Std-Ex.

Whether today's editorial represents a genuine shift in the philosophy at the Standard-Examiner, as a result of lessons hard-learned with respect to certain floundering Ogden City projects, we do not know. But we'd like to believe the Std-Ex has become a little more "street-wise," regarding complicated economic development projects such as this, and that our home town newspaper will be more committed to playing the role of the "taxpayer watchdog" in the future, rather than carrying on the "cheerleader" posture which the Standard has exhibited in the past.

And what say our gentle readers about this?

Who will be the first to comment?


althepal said...

Investor/developer personal guarantees ought to be a threshhold requirement any time public officials put the taxpayers' necks on the line, period.

What's more, prospective investors/developers should be properly vetted, too.

OgdenLover said...

Call me cynical, but I wonder if the SE would have written this editorial about an Ogden project. Let's hope it's a new attitude.

uno said...

The Standard is merely following the rest of the nation in that there has been a shift from cheerleader to taxpayer watchdog. During the Bush years as money was being pissed away at all levels of government, it was seen as prudent. Now that's changing. Conservative's ebb and flow.

Bill C. said...

here have been at least a coule of occasions that the Gondola Examiner has Editorialized one point of view for Davis Couty and the exact opposit for Ogden City. I recall Don Porter (when he was the big cheeze) praising lying little matty's putting the public trough at risk to improve certain things downtown, but less than 2 weeks latter cautioning either Clearfield or Layton no to risk public funds on some seemingly similar matter.
Could have been the fact he lived in Davis County, who knows?
But we will never forget how the Gondola Examiner earned their name, endorsing the most childish, silly, idiotic and to some sacred Urban Gondola.

Rockford J. said...

orkers are more important than capital to the advancement of the human race. Capital is a barbaric and slightly embarrassing holdover, from back when human could only be encouraged to greatness through monetary success, and only trusted each other as far as you could throw a Ferengi.
The worshiping of those who, of their own free will, risk capital instead of working for a living
appears incredibly petty and short sighted to the rest of the universe; you know, almost everyone?

Of course, now that we live in a benevolent society where want and greed are a distant memory, such considerations seem almost quaint.

JeanLuc Picard in 2012!

DR. OPPOSITE said...

Be nice, Rudi. You also complimented the Standard when it stood up for financial caution and prudence last week.

It seems to me that the Standard has been doing a pretty good job lately.

You're always late with your kisses, aintcha, old buddy?



tom said...

My comment to the Standard:

When I first read this I thought it was a big joke! Then I realized it was not April the first so maybe the naybobs at the Standard were serious in their stance on public giveaways.

Just too damn bad the Standard didn't have this new found religion a few years ago when the Mayor of Ogden and his rubber stamp council saddled the tax payers of Ogden with $40 million or so of debt for the ill advised Junction. This is a debt the public will be paying for decades into the future and what did the Standard do while this crooked crap was unfolding? Yep, they cheered the incompetent mayor and his minions on!!

Curmudgeon said...


I [along with many others here] complained, and with good reason, when the SE endorsed Hizzonah's risky commercial speculations on "can't fail" projects with public money, and when the SE endorsed Hizzonah's ridiculous flatland urban gondola [though on the condition, fairness requires me to note, that it not be constructed with public funds]. Now the SE has, in the cold light of expensive experience, discovered the wisdom of caution when spending the public's money. Seems to me the sensible reaction to that ought to be "Good!" not "Why didn't you agree with us sooner?"

Those entering, at last, the lists for sound urban management should be, I think, congratulated on their decision, not berated for their tardiness. The editorial is a good one, and is, I hope, good news too in re: the evolution of the SE's editorial point of view.

OgdenLover said...

When the SE comes out in favor of private (not public) risk for private development in Ogden, then I'll congratulate them.

Curmudgeon said...


Well, OL, just recently the SE recommended, via editorial, that the Mayor drop his plans for public financed [but privately owned/operated] ice towers, velodromes and similar public-buy-in investment schemes. Looks to me that the SE did what you recommended above.

And now we have the Farmington editorial. Seems to me, both editorials deserve kudos, not continued complaints.

Is the SE editorially where I would like it to be? Where it would be if I were publisher and writing the editorials? Nope. However, is it, editorially, in a better place than it was on municipal fiscal matters six years ago, or three, or even two? I think it is. And that's good.

ozboy said...

Mr. Curmudgeon

Where do you draw the line on criminality?

Your post on the Standard's new found religion certainly has merit and they do deserve a pat on their pointed little heads, however it (your argument) somehow reminds me of our City Attorney's unique theory on curing crimes. If the crooks cop to the crime and/or give the money back it all can be forgiven by patting them on the head and congratulating them for coming clean - or something like that.

By the way, I already know that what the Standard did to further the Godfreyite crime wave* did not rise to the level of "crime" itself - technically speaking of course, so I don't need that lecture. I do however look forward to another one that I suspect may be coming my way as a result of my opinion on the the Mayor and how the Standard facilitated his evil* take over of Ogden.

*Only my opinion of course:-)

Curmudgeon said...


You wrote: "I do however look forward to another {lecture} that I suspect may be coming my way as a result of my opinion on the the Mayor and how the Standard facilitated his evil* take over of Ogden."

OK. In re: the SE, here it is: "That was then. This is now."

Oz, I think your opinion of Hizzonah's administration of the city's affairs for the past two terms pretty much matches mine.

And, though you may have forgotten, I was not happy with the SE's support for the gondola [however qualified] et al., any more than you were. Nor do I doubt that the SE generally supported with its selective news coverage and its editorial stance Hizzonah's election bids. [The eleventh hour mugging of Ms. Van Hooser on the editorial page just before election day, with no time to reply was reprehensible.] So I'm a little puzzled why you think I'd be out to lecture you on your opposition to Hizzonah's nonsensical schemes or on your unhappiness with the SE's unhappy role in the past supporting Hizzonah and those schemes [most of them anyway] and his re-election, since I share your opinion on all that.

Tis' a puzzlement to me, Oz.

ozboy said...

Mr. Curmudgeon

It's the easy forgiveness and "that was then and this is now" that puzzles me.

I also don't necessarily think that the Standard has seen the light or got religion. I'm guessing that this is just a temporary lapse on their part and when push comes to shove they will slavishly side with Godfrey regardless of how far out the window his lack of integrity may be hanging. After all it is a bunch of bean counters that really make the decisions there, not the real news guys like Howell and Gibson.

Granted you do take your shots at the Standard, but damn man, I think they ought to be sending you a big ol check now and then for the journeyman PR you do for them. You defend them a hell of a lot better than they do themselves!

Actually I am at a disadvantage in this Standard discussion. My point of view on them is coming from a place of disappointment as I knew them when they were a real hard hitting newspaper with loads of journalistic integrity, back when they were run by people with ink in their veins and a belief in their honored position as the fourth estate. I think you, being a feraner, can be much more practical and objective in evaluating them. I had the privilege of crossing paths with the legendary Ogden Standard Examiner's Abe Glassman in my youth and I grew up reading his paper. The Standard, or more correctly the original Ogden Standard Examiner, was my first, and you know how we remember our important "firsts". I think I can safely say that if the current Standard had the guts and grits of their predecessor, this little weenie Godfrey would have never been able to run the city into the deep financial hole like he has.

Curmudgeon said...


You wrote: "You defend them a hell of a lot better than they do themselves! "

Only when they deserve it, Oz. Only when they deserve it.

guts & grits said...

The folks at the Standard are sometimes right and sometimes wrong but always cowards.

Bill C. said...

Curm, I feel the need to point out that this editorial is about Farmington, no tie to the City of Ogden. Your reference to last months mention that it would be wise to clean the plate with what was started, is really not what you're suggesting.
Nowhere in that editorial did they make the argument against the wisdom, or folly of the veladrome, icicle and the likes, they merely suggested that this is not the time to move on those. It's a big difference.
You and I share the common hope that we will always have our local morning rag to aid our morning coffee start-up routine, but these guys need to show me alot more by way of really taking this administration to task, at the appropriate times, fact check and dig deeper than the picture some one suggests to Schwebke, which always gives the administrations POV as accurate.
Truthfully Curm, whats the track record of the gondola examiner since your arrival in these parts? They have alot of catching up to do.

see, I Told you so said...

I hate to say that I told you so BUT, I told you so.

Curmudgeon said...


And I'd point out that the SE has not, so far as I recall, editorialized in favor of huge public subsidies for Hizzonah's Downtown Outdoor Year-Round Godfrey Memorial Popsicle, or the Velodrome. And they did call on Hizzonah to drop both. Works for me.

I've posted often about one of the SE's weaknesses as a daily is its unwillingness to fact-check claims by public officeholders [and candidates] as a matter of course. But you overstate the case when you claim Mr. Schwebke and the SE "always gives the administrations POV as accurate." That's just flat not true. The paper often quotes the Mayor's statements or TrueHeart Patterson's on a particular issue, and leaves them at that. That is not presenting the Administration's account as accurate. It is accurately presenting the Mayor's account. You're confusing the two.

Finally, on the SE's track record. Of course it got it wrong with its election endorsement last time round. Of course it hasn't dug deeply enough or often enough into the Administrations [mis]management as you and I think it should have. However, its editorial outlook on the administration has, I think, since the last election, begun to evolve a bit. It's looking with a little more jaundiced eye at the Administrations enthusiams-du-jour. The Popsicle and Velodrome editorial was a good one.So was the Farmington editorial [and it embraced principles of sound public management that clearly apply to Ogden as well].

Thing is, Bill, I no longer much care where the SE stood six years ago or five or even two. The SE shapes public opinion and so I care mostly where it stands now and tomorrow. Newspaper editorials have a very short shelf life. As an old reporter on the recently defunct Seattle Post-Intelligencer told an intern who had screwed up royally on a story, "Don't worry about it, kid. This is a newspaper. We print another one tomorrow."

What matters most is what the SE is going to say tomorrow. And the day after that. And the emergence of a more skeptical, questioning editorial POV, which has been evolving I think since the Porter editorial on the Leshamville slums, is a good thing that we ought to welcome and encourage.

I see no point to greeting good editorials with complaints about past ones, and whines about "where were you guys five years ago?" What matters is where they're going to be over the next five days, five weeks, five months, five years.

ozboy said...

Yes judge, my client did indeed kill Mrs. Anderson in a most brutal and savage way, but that was then and this is now and we must judge him based on what he did today and what we think he will do tomorrow, not what he did in the past. Why just this morning he smiled at the jailer and was pleasant for a change. See he is already reforming so you must set him free.

Curmudgeon said...

Sorry, Oz, be we're not talking criminal conduct here. We're talking editorial policy and news judgment. I have no interest in carrying on a blog vendetta against the SE for past journalistic and/or editorial sins [of which it has committed many]. What I'm mostly interested in is how the paper affects public opinion [and so policy, if it can] in the future. Your approach, seems to me, is based on an assumption that editorial policy won't and can't change. Kind of concedes the game at the outset, doesn't it?

I wasn't here for the Glassman years, Oz, but I read for five years in grad school, every day, the Madison, Wisconsin "Cap Times," which was then edited by an old LaFollette Progressive. It had the kind of balls-to-the-wall damn-the-torpedoes full-speed-ahead approach to covering government [all government, all levels, all officeholders] that I gather you admired in the old SE. The "Cap Times" is now dead.

We don't live in the age of the great dailies anymore, Oz. Wish we did but we don't. We live in a very different news environment. [Looking back, I suspect historians will identify the day CBS News ceased being a separate division and was moved under the aegis of the Entertainment Division as The Day The World Changed as far as news and its commercial delivery was concerned. Plus the internet.]

So, where does that leave us? With the SE as our home town daily --- not the one of your fond memory, true, but one very important to Ogden. Even vital since for nearly all the rest we are under the news umbrella of SLC. We're not getting the old world of "The Front Page" back, Oz. But we can [as subscribers/readers] keep urging the SE to be, first, a better paper than it is, and second, the best paper it can be under present circumstances. That means [for me] more and better coverage of city affairs and public officeholders, more fact-checking officeholder and candidate statements, more digging into fiscal matters, but it's not going to become, ever, the pit-bull [print] harasser of the Godfrey Administration that some here would like it to be.

From my POV, then, when readers complain about a particular SE story or editorial [or lack of coverage], the complaints need to be credible to be taken seriously by the editors. For me, that means three things: (a) it makes no sense to begin comment on the paper [here or in an email] with "Listen you moronic sell out cretinous lackey bastards...." Or words to that effect (b) It means I need to do more than just grouse about things I don't like --- which god knows I do often enough --- but sometimes at least I need point out something I thought was particularly good. [If all the SE ever hears from a subscriber is endless grousing, I imagine they dismiss the complaints as crank stuff. I would.] And (c) it means not harping endlessly on past mistakes, but focusing on current matters, because it's present stuff I'm hoping to get them to look at a little differently, to examine a little more thoroughly.

If it makes you feel all warm and glowey to keep harping on what the SE said in the past, enjoy. But I don't see that having much impact now.

I want a better home town paper. So I'm sure do you. But I don't think constant carping and angry complaint is an effective way to nudge the SE in that direction.

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