Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More Information Regarding Last Night's Ogden City Council Sessions

The Council agrees to put a discussion of Mt. Ogden Golf Course operations back on the table

Scott Schwebke chimes in this morning with more information on last night's council sessions, reporting that the council has agreed to put issues related to Mt. Ogden Golf Course back on the discussion table in one or more future council work sessions. What seems clear from this story is that Boss Godfrey hasn't budged an iota on his crackpot scheme to bulldoze the golf course and construct his $146 million hotel/condo project at the top of Ogden's 36th street location. What also seems clear, at least to us, is that Godfrey's newly released "poll" is a mere pretext to open up another full-blown debate about Godfrey's massive golf course makeover, under the transparently mendacious guise of improving the course's financial viability.

While we see no real harm in opening up this can of worms again, we do believe there are two preliminary matters to which the council ought to devote close scrutiny:

First, we believe it's incumbent upon the council to make a determination about the validity of the underlying assumption that's the foundation of Godfrey's latest policy sales job, i.e., that the golf course is actually losing $250 thousand per year. In that connection, we suggest that the council should commission an independent audit of golf course operations, to determine once and for all whether the numbers that Godfrey has been rattling around -- numbers which indeed actually furnish the foundational assumptions for Godfrey's polling results -- are truly based in reality. We've had much discussion on this blog about the questionable methods of accounting which Godfrey has used to support his argument for his golf course/hotel/condo boondoggle; and there's good reason to believe Godfrey's figures are rigged. It's thus high time we believe, for the council to find out for themselves the true condition of the golf course balance sheet.

Secondly, we believe the council should retain an outside polling expert to carefully examine the methodology of the Godfrey poll. Although Mr. Schwebke offers a bare bones opinion of one WSU math professor that the poll's 200 person sample might be sufficient to support valid results, there are enough other apparently glaring methodological problems inherent in the poll (including the phrasing of loaded questions) that we believe this poll ought not be taken at face value, until it's been fully vetted by a polling expert who can be trusted.

And since the council has expressed its willingness to once again put a MOGC discussion back on the table, we believe the council should thoroughly examine all options. Although we have no doubt that Godfrey regards a full golf course makeover to be the only option, we believe the council should also carefully weigh those options which will be the least burdensome to the taxpayers, such as the "minimalist Plan 'B' option" presented in Frank Mcfarlane's 4/13/09 letter to the Standard-Examiner editor.

And while we're talking about less financially burdensome alternatives, we'll highlight this simple and elegant plan, lodged in one of our down-thread comments sections by gentle reader Dan S.:

Solution for golf course:
1. Write off the debt. Then annual debt service goes away, saving about $100k.
2. Start promoting the golf course instead of spending taxpayer funds to tell everyone how bad it is. Listen to the golfers for ideas on small changes that can bring in more customers. This could raise another $100k.
3. Be prepared to "subsidize" the golf course by $100k per year over the long term, since it does provide additional value to the city besides golf.
4. Fund one-time improvements to the course through RAMP grants when possible. Any city funds freed up should then be set aside for major maintenance such as repairing the sprinkler system.
And here's a question the council should consider to be even more fundamental. Ogden City already has two taxpayer burdensome and woefully incomplete Godfrey schemes languishing away in downtown Ogden, The Junction, and the River project. Do the taxpayers really need another of these half-baked projects fizzling out after great fanfare in our precious Ogden Foothills area? There's plenty of other evidence of Godfrey's ineptitude in beginning and completing ambitious projects too. Whatever the council does in the future with respect to the golf course, we believe the council needs to take Godfrey's miserable track record into account.

And here's a crucial question which ought to be considered by our Ogden City Council: Shouldn't Godfrey defer the initiation of any new projects, until he's finished what he's already started?

That's it for now gentle readers.

Who will be the first to comment?

25 comments:

Dan S. said...

Regarding this morning's story, which is up on the S-E web site, I tried to leave a comment there but kept getting error messages. Here's the comment:

It was a push-poll, not a survey.

Why doesn't this article tell us how biased the survey questions were?

The survey opens by stating, as fact, that the shortfall in use of the course is due to its "playability" and that $8 million in "improvements" would "encourage increased play to the point where the City would not need to subsidize the course". These are the mayor's opinions, not facts. How do we know that the shortfall isn't due to mismanagement by the Godfrey Administration? (After all, the course did make a profit years ago, when it wasn't any more playable.) How do we know that after the "improvements", revenue would increase at all? We don't.

The survey goes on to state, as fact, that the proposed condo project would "avoid the need for a municipal property tax increase and would end $250,000 annual taxpayer subsidy for the golf course". Is there any evidence of this? There's no concrete proposal on the table for such a project, and I'm not aware of any major Godfrey Administration development projects that have been carried out as promised without unexpected costs to taxpayers. Just look at the Junction: We were promised that its property taxes would revert to the taxing entities (schools, library, public safety, etc.) starting in 2015, but now that's been extended 12 more years. Meanwhile, we're subsidizing the Junction by $1 million a year with money that could have been used for other important public projects or services.

Finally, the survey never mentions the totally obvious option of just leaving things the way they are. If we've been "subsidizing" the golf course for the last seven years without a tax increase, why can't we continue to do so?

The best solution would be to get a mayor who actually wants to solve the problem, rather than one who highlights and exacerbates the problem in order to serve his prior agenda of building condos in Ogden's foothills.

Danny said...

From the article:

"However, [Godfrey] said he doesn't believe that's the best option and instead favors rezoning a portion of the course for the construction of condos to finance needed improvements."

In other words, in spite of his bogus poll not coming out the way he wanted, Godfrey has decided to do what he wants anyway.

Surprise?

And since when have any of Godfrey's schemes yielded the expected return? Even if gets his way, these condos would be another fiscal black hole, like Godfrey's other projects - to say nothing of the loss of open space.

The council should tell Godfrey this is DOA. They should tell him it's time he discovered what his job is, and started doing it.

OgdenLover said...

Could it be that Godfrey wants to bulldoze the area so that his developer and construction company buddies will have more income in this bleak economy. Then they'll be able to make campaign contributions. One hand washes the other as they say.

Rockford J. said...

Look for Godfrey to put his house up for sale, and move to Provo or Arizona, or Canada, as soon as his Mayoral term is complete.

Curmudgeon said...

Sadly, once again, the SE is slipping into its old habit of not fact-checking the administration's statements. The problems were ably pointed out by Dan S. above. The poll offers as factually established options the cost of which are merely at this point unsubstantiated estimates and airy proposals with nothing behind them behind "we hope this is how it will work out." We've been there before with this administration, and Ogden taxpayers are paying, and will be paying, the price of acting on such unfounding wishin' an' hopin' and dreamin' for decades to come.

And in discussing this with folks around town, we need to stress [as the SE did not] that the WSU person stated only that a 200 person sample in a poll can yield significant results in a valid poll . He did not say the mayor's push poll was such a valid poll.

The biggest flaw in the article is the one Dan S. noted above: the options those polled were offered as fact-based were not. The administration is again resorting to what has, sadly [and expensively for Ogden residents] become its hallmark practice: conclusions first, research last.

Southsider said...

No mention of Gondolas, but ...


http://www.verysillymayor.com/

Dorothy Littrell said...

I agree with all the points bought up in the previous posts.

However, my main concern at this time is the financial ignorance on the part of Mayor Godfrey as to the financial condition of U.S. banks and Utah banks, but most importantly his apparent ignorance of the financial condition of our entire governmental structure from Ogden City to the United States Treasury.

Our U.S. dollar is losing its reserve status in the world and Godfrey wants to incur more debt in Ogden.

It makes me wonder if he has a clue as to what is happening in financial markets.

Incredible!

ozboy said...

This new initiative of the mayor's is merely another in a long line of smoke screens. The sad part is that after the smoke clears from his schemes there are invariably huge, gaping and dark financial holes staring back at the tax payers.

The poll is a farce on the face of it and his "secret" motive is secret no more. Yet he continues to blithely insult the intelligence of the citizens and the council by maintaining the fiction that the poll, and Mt. Ogden expenses, are serious city biz concerning serious city problems.

Never mind that the last of his great visions is a total bust and is currently costing the tax payers a million a year in direct out lays to make good on the bonds that paid for it. That is four times as much tax payer dough going down a rat hole as the alleged quarter million that da mayor claims Mt. Ogden is losing. I say "alleged" as there are some rather knowledgeable people around these parts that claim the mayor's claim of a negative 250 thousand per year is completely and thoroughly bogus - like so much of his stuff is.

This mill a year is only the out of pocket money the citizens are losing. It is only the interest on the bonds. There are many millions more in the bonds themselves that future citizens will have to reconcile themselves to pay when they come due and the buildings they paid for ain't worth squat.

The house of cards will tumble at some point and to take the citizen's attention off that, and the equally screwed up river project, the mayor is doing more hat tricks on the side with this golf course biz. Hat tricks, smoke screens and Godfrey illusions of grandeur! Ain't it grand?

Meanwhile the city continues its long inglorious slide into slumdom. The infrastructer along with all the other things a mayor is elected to take care of, are completely ignored while the great "visionary" frolics around in his fantasy world.

Biker Hunk said...

>>>Whatever the council does in the future with respect to the golf course, I believe the council needs to take Godfrey's miserable track record into account.<<<

Exactly right, Rudi. even assuming for the sake of argument that the MOGC needs a major "bigtime" overhaul, is the thoroughly incompent Matt Godfrey the guy we'd like to see managing it?

Maybe the council should continue tabling this matter, until we elect a grownup to serve as mayor in 2011.

Just sayin'...

Bill C. said...

Wow, can lying little matty really go off. It was quite something to hear him present his interpretation of the data, Brandon Anally Stephenson was spellbound, Schwebke was pecking away, at one point lying little mattystated that he had taught statistics at WSU for years.(really?)
He stated he was suprized that so many prefered shutting down the course, Brandon was all smiles at that point, but then lying little matty donned his super high adventure halloween halo and stated he wouldn't favor that option and Brandon's smile faded away.
It was at this point that the hardball lying little matty made his case.
All the options were fairly put to the people and it's high time we do something. Most of us don't want to close the course permanantly so we must do the next best thing, change the zoning and build condos. We cannot continue to allow this subsidy, the people were told 30 years ago this would not happen and it must stop.
Next the Council members asked questions about the poll, lying little matty stated that the methods of wording the questions was done by the professionals, with the most recent scientific expertice applied to guard againt leading and promoting desired responses, he offered his personal vote of confidence with the firm that conducted it and stated they had done alot of work with him in the past.
At this time a question arose about the names of the polster not matching up, he turned to Patterson, who just happened to be sitting by me, and inquired about the discrepancy using some guys first name, patterson responded using the guys first name stating he jobbed it out.
Many questions come to mind as a result of hearing this extra little tidbit. Was this poll so invalid that their buddy wouldn't want it to tarnish his reputation?
Accountability and credibility just became one more step removed.
Again we can only say, it's so lying little matty. He just can't help himself, it's his nature.
Also along those lines, does lying little matty believe he has the power to raise anybody's taxes? Where did that question come from?

Jennifer Neil said...

Company who did the poll:

SUMMIT CONSULTING GROUP
3230 E Broadway Rd, Ste C-260, Phoenix, AZ 85040

602-235-9320 option 2 for Dave, as he is the one in charge of the Mt Ogden Golf Course survey.

They are a telemarketing firm in Phoenix, and do a lot of auto-dialing for candidates and sign planting/removal in the phoenix area.

Surveysoft is the IP software they use to select a random sample from population provided by the client. (that's what Dave said, at least)

Dave said Chuck Warren gave him the list, which was a list of active registered voters in Ogden with telephones ...

Google girls & boys, see what else you can find out.

TLJ

RudiZink said...

Too funny, Bill and Jennifer. I swear nobody could make up something like this:

Here we have Godfrey, hijacking the discussion in a public council session, touting this highly suspect "scientific survey" that he's commissioned, making the bizarre claim that he's a statistics instructor at WSU... and then learning (in the same open public session)from "Pureheart" John Patterson (of all people) that this purported survey was actually farmed out to a telemarketing company!

Hilarious!

Thanks for filling in the blanks.

Bill C. said...

Rudi, it's funnier than that. Sitting right next to me was Schwebke, he heard it all.

Curmudgeon said...

Comment moved to front page

shadows said...

I was there too. And I really think some of you need something better to do with your lives as your interpretations are fit for not-so-great novels, or perhaps a BYU classroom.

Moroni McConkie said...

Shadows: If you knew how to talk like a native on this here blog, you would've said, "your interpretations are fit for ... Rob Bishop's classroom."

TLJ said...

Shadows,

I was there too -- really.

If YOU were indeed, "there too," then you might join us in finding something better to do with our lives - as we are just some of the citizens who really want to know what is going on ... and since the mayor is not forthcoming, we have to find out by hook or by crook - but the truth will out. Why were you there, anyway?

TLJ

ozboy said...

Shadows

You didn't have to be there to know that the poll was pure unadulterated Godfreyite bull shit.

Read the damn survey, it was posted here a couple of days ago, and then tell us with a straight face that it even remotely appears legit. The whole jist of the "poll" was predicated on a false assumption to begin with.

Curmudgeon said...

Shadows:

If the interpretations being offered by posters here are so far from reasonable, as you claim, I find it a little odd that you didn't point out how or why you thought they were unreasonable. Why don't you tell us where you think they're wrong? And why?

Just saying "you guys are all wrong!" and leaving it at that doesn't advance the discussion much.

Ray Vaughn said...

Hi Shadows; Did you get tired of posting as Blaine Carl?

standard c said...

Ray

On one hand I think you are wrong about "Shadow" and "Blain Carl" being the same person. As most of us know, BC is Bill Glassmann pretending he has some intelligence, but then Glassmann is too lazy to actually show up at a council meeting. He might also be too embarrassed to actually show his face down there after the shame he brought on himself during the brief time he was on the council.

On the other hand it could be him as he is pretty dishonest and not above lying about something like that.

Ray Vaughn said...

Standard; I based my observation on the fact that BC has disappeared from the comments section recently. BC always challenged posters to submit better ideas and questioned their knowledge of a proposal. He would not have had to attend to make his nonsensical comments. Shadows made his first and so far only comment under that name without issuing any followup or answer to questions about his comment. BC still believes people on this forum do not know his real identity. Yes, he is too lazy to actually attend but then again that has never been a problem to his postings before.

Bill C. said...

I wonder if this bogus push-poll and the auto dailer mayors endorsement of Alfred P. weren't conducted by the same telemarketer and under the same contract, paid for with tax dollars that will eventually show up as lost revenue at the golf course.

ozboy said...

Bill C

I am a bit confused about your references to "Alfred P". I assume you are referring to the council candidate Pipps who of course no longer sings with Gladys Knight. If that is the case, and you are referring to Pipps as such because he looks like the old Mad Magazine character, then I gently remind you that our Mad Man, and my personal hero during my teen years, was actually Alfred E. Newman.

Alfred P. brings to mind Alfred P. Sloan, the late great industrialist who was Chairman of General Motors back in their highest glory days.

Bill C. said...

Oz, I'm well aware of Alfred E. and given the gondola examiner penchant for providing much needed name recognition for this bogus unknown foriegn lying little matty transplant, I refuse to use his name in protest. You can guess what the P. if for if you like.

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