Sunday, September 13, 2009

Standard-Examiner: First Time Candidate Raises Most Money for Ogden Council Race

The Std-Ex embarrasses itself on a major story yet again

By Curmudgeon

Just when I start to think the Standard-Examiner is improving its news reporting and editing, it embarrasses itself again on a major story. This time, it's Ms. Lewis's story on campaign donations in Ogden's City Council races

Certainly the topic merits a story. And identifying the candidates [Mr. David Phipps among them] who are raking in the most money from special interest groups like the Northern Wasatch Association of Realtors [NWAR] is appropriate. As is asking a spokesman for the NWAR why it has given Mr. Phipps [and two other candidates] four-figure donations. As was asking Mr. Shroeder why he was donating to the candidates.

But only Mr. Phipps was allowed to state why he thought the realtor and developer lobby was shovelling so much cash his way. [He says it's because he's so independent he will work to end divisiveness in city government.] That segment of the story reads like an out-take from Mr. Phipps stump speech to civic groups. Does Reporter Lewis include his opponents' opinions about why people are donating to them? No.

Then it gets worse. Lewis writes: "It was important to Phipps that he not run just because he supported one side or the other, but to make the decisions he felt were best for the city." That's reported as straight fact, not Mr. Phipp's claim about why he is running. Straight fact. Where the hell were the SE's news editors when Lewis submitted her story? Did none of them point out that the sentence as written makes it Ms. Lewis's conclusion [and therefor the SE's] that Phipps is running as an independent to do only what's best for the city? Did no editor of remind her [News Writing 101] that such would be proper for an editorial, or a column, but has no place in a campaign news story? Did it occur to no editor to add a "he said" to the sentence? Where the hell were the news editors? Did none question the propriety of interviewing only Phipps about why he was running and getting large cash donations, while asking none of his opponents why they thought people were giving to them?

Lewis also reports Phipps claiming "he declined contributions from a few politically-charged groups or people, saying he didn't want them to feel like they had control over his decisions." Oh, really? And what "politically charged groups or people" were they? We don't know. Did Ms. Lewis ask? We don't know. Did Phipps refuse to say? We don't know. Hard to believe a reporter who got at least a C in News Reporting 101 didn't ask him who he refused money from. Harder still to understand why, if he refused to answer, the story didn't report that he refused to answer.

Evidently, the SE has tasked Reporter Lewis with covering the Ogden Council campaign. Since her grasp of basic political reporting standards seems... well, let's just say not as robust as it ought to be.. some crusty cynical old green-eyeshade cigar smokin' news editor who's been around the political block a time or two needs to be assigned to read what she submits during the campaign, to prevent embarrassments like today's story from landing on readers' front porches.

One final point: apparently Mr. Phipps thinks the NWAR is not a "politically charged" special interest group. At least that's what he told Reporter Lewis, who apparently did not press him on the matter. This leads, I think, to only two possible conclusions: (a) Mr. Phipps is so Pollyanna naive that it would not be prudent to place him on the Council or (b) Mr. Phipps was being disingenuous in trying to slip the NWAR past Reporter Lewis as some kind of a-political public spirited group, and that Reporter Lewis was so Pollyanna naive as to let him get away with it.


Ray Vaughn said...

while I am happy that the S-E has assigned a reporter to cover the council races I am disappointed that it is a shallow story with no real investigation. It also seems, with the content of the story, to be written to benefit Mr. Phipps. Because of the timing of the story many voters will have only S-E story information as a basis for their voting decision. While I realize that the S-E will not endorse any candidate in the primary election this article is of great benefit to Mr. Phipps. It would have been helpfulvto ask Mr. Phipps about his September 2007 letter to the editor in which he claimed Godfrey has brought 6000 jobs and millions of dollars to Ogden.

RudiZink said...

Great writeup Curm, but let me chime in with what I do not consider to be a minor point. If you refer to Mr. Phipps's 9/8/09 Campaign Finance Report, these two mysterious out of state resident donors stand out:

"BOBCO" - Mystery Donor - California Address -$1000
"WOPNON" - Mystery Donor - Hawaii Address - $500

I question whether the listing of these out of state entities in acronym form is sufficient to comply with Ogden City's new campaign finance ordinance. Seems to me that these entities ought to have been listed in long form, with their true names clearly spelled out.

Are these references sufficiently specific for diligent readers to truly ascertain the true identies and/or nature of these campaign donors? I think not.

I spent some effort googling this morning, and neither of them come up on either of them. Seems to me that Mr. Phipps is prone to the same brand of obfuscation that's common to the Godfreyite Camp. By his use of the acronym form, Mr. Phipps makes it impossible to do a business entity search on either the California or Hawaii state sites. Seems to me this inadequate and vague "disclosure" is almost as useless as no disclosure at all

Perhaps its time for somebody to file a complaint with the Recorder's Office.

25th & Tyler said...

Neighbors are reporting David Phipps visiting the Thaine Fischer household.

In fact, Fischer and his real estate cronies hosted a campaign fund party for Phipps at the Fischer home at 25th and Tyler this past week.


Standard subscriber said...

This is reporting incompetence. Lewis and her employer should be ashamed.

What a croc of shit.

googlegirl said...

Thaine Fischer endorses David Phipps

ATTN Phipps Opponents said...

Rudi's right. If I were running against Phipps, I'd be at the recorders office when they open in the morning.

Are you listening candidates?

Vote! said...

Phipps is definitely a carpetbagger. He's lived in Ogden only a year.

Vote for Blair or Morris or Neil. The other candidates don't seem to be serious about their campaigns.

Most importantly: VOTE!

BenJoe said...

I read this in the paper this morning and I first thought Mr. Phipps wrote it himself.

Great right up.

Jim Hutchins said...

I posted a comment on the S-E webiste under my real, true name, which is more than I can say for BOBCO and WAPWOM.

The redux of the 2007 FNURE fiasco seems to have troubled Ms. Lewis and her S-E editors not one whit.

Garrett said...

Phipps is being funded by the real estate flippers trying to change city ordinances.Not much local real estate help, it's the out of state shysters that have helped ruin our neigborhoods.I have 3 of their houses on my block.Make sure you vote but don't vote for Phipps.

Danny said...

Great article. Great posts above. Nothing to add, other than Phipps was outed as the Godfreyite candidate some time ago on the WCF, and he does bear a striking resemblance to Alfred E. Neuman.

Boss Godfrey's 2009 Voter's Guide

Also note that after the primary we will see the dirty money come pouring in for fellow Godfreyite Mark “Stinky” Hains, with the attendant signage, ads, etc.

Danny said...

. . . meaning great article, Curm

BC said...

Certainly not taking the Standard's side in this, but the article is a fairly typical "campaign fundraising" piece that accentuates whose the top money raiser to date. Don't know if you missed it Curm, but the article did mention some $100 donations to Jennifer Neil, Jesse Garcia, Doug Stephens and Justin Morris, with a whopping $250.00 donation to Van Hooser; all from Dan Schroeder. Schroeder said he looks at a variety of issues and aspects (what issues, what aspects) before choosing a candidate. Not much newsworthy there, I agree, but I do find it interesting that this "carpetbagger," as the blog calls him, has raised more money than any other candidate, especially the incumbents. Usually, it's the reverse. Oh yeah, it mentioned Haines also.
This is what the trades call an "informative" article. I suppose the best is yet to somce.

Again, the newspaper is hardly one that does REAL investigative reporting, but the main gist of the news is present in this one. I think the "heartburn" is that it's Phipps, one of the alleged FOMs, that has everyone here so upset. Sort of reminds me of the two Schwebke articles: GREAT investigative reporting on the anti administration one but terrible, no news reporting on the pro administration one. Oh well--

And it is a shame that more has not been written, or that the candidates haven't gotten out much of a message, for the Primary, which is as important as the General. If one doesn't prevail here, one doesn't stand a chance in the other.

I'm just glad we're not inundated with all the signage as of yet.

Danny said...

Here's another great article from Ambrose.

The Debt Crisis Continues

The tie in, is when Godfrey was piling on city debt, so was everybody else. When Godfrey was hailing a new economy, so was everyone else. When Godfrey was being hailed, so were other spendthrifts.

What most miss is Godfrey is no visionary. He is a creature of his time. He is just a herd follower, at the back of the herd.

Those who support him seem to be always and ever foolish people.

Danny said...

. . . BC comes to mind . . .

Ray Vaughn said...

BC Glassman; Why don't you go lie down until you feel better. All of the spinning you attempt to do must have you very dizzy. Aren't you at all curious who the mystery money donors to the Phipps campaign are? But on the good side he finally had someone tell him what seat he is running for. He must have been confused since none are listed as Godfrey lapdog seat.

Ray Vaughn said...

Will Phipps ever get arounf to telling us about all of the jobs and investment in Ogden he claimed Godfrey has brought to Ogden? It was in a letter to the S-E published in 2007. I hope someone can link to the letter. I work the internet as well as Godfrey plans wise investments.

drewmeister said...

Hmm, yes, that shady Dan Schroeder donated a whopping $250.00 to Van Hooser's campaign. Why, NWAR's $1,500.00 contribution to Pureheart Haines' campaign simply pales in comparison to the divisive, shameful payola Schroeder is passing around.

C'mon Dan.. Just admit it, you don't want Ogden to prosper. You just want all progress to grind to a halt, progress like the Leshamville Arson Project. Why can't you just trust our mayor? You really just hate progress. And freedom. And kittens. You definitely must hate kittens as well.

-/sarcasm off-

Curmudgeon said...


We're going to have to disagree on this one. Had Ms. Lewis limited herself to interviewing those who donated to various campaigns, there'd have been no complaint from me. But she didn't. Phipps and no one else was interviewed to explain why he thought people were giving to him. Phipps and no one else got it reported, unchallenged, that he was turning down money from special interests because he didn't want to be beholden to them. No follow up questions at all to that bit of self-serving campaign rhetoric. No other candidate, and certainly none of his opponents were asked who was donating to them and why. You may not think that odd in a campaign story in a municipal daily. I do.

And, BC, I'd hope the rawest newbie intern, on being told by a candidate that he was turning down money from "politically charged" groups, but accepting it from the NWAR [especially in Northern Utah now --- think the Developers Dream Bill "Powder Town" [real estate lobby projects, both of them] and think "selling the park to build a gondola" which local realtor organizations supported, I believe], would let it pass unchallenged. But Ms. Lewis did, and her editors didn't bat an eye.

With the exception of my last paragraph [which raises questions about Mr. Phipps], all my comments were directed at the poor reporting and editing the SE did on the story, not at Phipps per se. [Again, last paragraph excepted.]

From my home town paper, in the midst of a municipal election campaign, I expect better.

Anonymous said...

On our little evening drive though the foothills on the way to Beus Park, I found it telling that there were copious Phipps signage on luxurious bench homes lawn, with nary a sign by any other candidate.

These well-healed persons are the people who vote most reliably.
As name recognition trumps almost every other factor in city elections, it already looks like Phipps for the win.

Curmudgeon said...


Ever priced lawn signs, not to mention the bigger one's the realtors are funding for him at major cross roads? They're not cheap. Elections can indeed be bought --- not always, but not infrequently either, particularly in low-turnout races like municipal elections most years. Not by buying voters, but by paying for push polls, real polls, yard signs, bigger signs, canvassers, etc.

RudiZink said...

Three reader comments moved to new front page article

Ray Vaughn said...

to really understand what a candidate believes and what his/her plans are follow this simple rule. "Follow The Money"

George K said...

As Rocksford J points out: "As name recognition trumps almost every other factor in city elections, it already looks like Phipps for the win." I've had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I've watched campaign efforts roll out this last weekend. My thoughts were that the SE article about campaign donations sounded more like a candidate's news release announcing his candidacy than a news article. In an effort to keep it a news article, the reporter reported what Dan Schroeder donated to other candidates. Phipps has the money and is running the primary election as it were a general race – phone calls telling people to vote for him, mailings etc.,

We, on WCF, can have an impact on this primary election, if we really care and get off our duffs. We have not lost until all the votes have been counted and David Phipps has been declared a candidate for the general election in November. So, GET ON THE PHONE AND CALL ALL YOUR FRIENDS! Tell them to be sure to vote
Tuesday and to vote for either Morris, Blair or Neil. I have seen the effect that endorsing phone calls can have on a campaign. They are very influential, so please don't let this opportunity pass you by without giving an honest effort to do your part to save Ogden. All three of these candidates are independent thinkers and will vote for what is best for Ogden. Blair, being a partner in a business, has had experience dealing with the Godfrey administration. He believes that economic development should be downtown, not in our beautiful foothills and he’s young and energetic, dedicated to Ogden and committed to doing what is best for Ogden. Morris works for Weber County and has knowledge and experience in land use and politics. He, also, believes that economic development should be downtown, not in our beautiful foothills. Like Blair, he is young and energetic, dedicated to Ogden and committed to doing what is best for Ogden. Neil has a few years of experience on all of the young men. She has a great sense of ethics and has a degree in economics. She is a strong person and will be able to handle whatever Godfrey dishes out. She is committed to doing what is best for Ogden, and in time, will realize that you cannot work with an ethic deprived individual.
You now have some talking points for three good candidates for at-large seat B. If anyone asks you about Phipps, tell them that is a Godfrey supporter and will be another Brandon Stephenson on the Council. Let’s make those telephone calls and show the money people that grass root efforts works better than their money.

wildcat said...

One of Phipps' main claims in his campaign literature and on the recorded phone call I received from his is that he will vote on the issues not based on taking sides in the Ogden city wars. He mentions this alongside his statement about how we need to overcome the divisiveness not only between council and mayor but with council itself. The implication here is that Phipps thinks members of council have not been voting based on the issues. I would like to know first how he knows that council members have not been voting based on the issues and second if he can name some specific council members and the specific votes in question.

BC said...

Curm, I was merely commenting on my take about the article. It was purely "INFORMATIVE," not INVESTIGATIVE. In our own home town newspaper, in fact in every newspaper, ALL stories aren't investigative like portrayed in "State of Play" or the real ones as in Watergate. I just believe that this was a simple reporting about who has raised the most money and there was no really not much reason to go behind the scenes at this time to seek answers of "who and why."

We all Know that, so far, the largest contributor is the real estate PAC and there's not a whole lot of news worthiness in the reasoning behind some people's smaller donations like one hundred bucks; although every dime probably helps.

I think we're arguing apples and oranges here. And again, I reiterate, the saddle burr is that Phipps is a FOM and if the above posters are right, he's about the only candidate with signs out and will most likely move ahead to the General--like it or not.

Give it time--the election season's just beginning and I'm sure you'll read something that will satisfy your urge to teach Journalism 101.

Bill C. said...

Oh, Curmudgeon, there is a rather large fly in the ointment over at the gondola examiner, one that makes damn sure that the truth and whole story about lying little matty's shenanigans never fully reaches the reader. Squirrel Patroller lee carter.
This one is solidly in the evil camp and has provideded just enough spin and cover for the dark side all along, gondolas to icicles, clandestine switch-a-roo's of public works projects to attempted give-aways of public recreational facilities.
This Phipps, that finally realized what seat he's going after, has based his whole campain rhetoric on the spin and interference provided by the famous sargent carter of the world renowned Squirrel Patrol.
The idea that the Council shares fault in what has recently been described as a feud with the administration over all these recent issues is due to the spin and nature of the gondola examiners reporting. Only folks that pay very close attention and do their own research know in all these cases, the mayor has lied, witheld and in the some cases simply ignored the law as well as common decency.
For the last four years or more the City has wasted millions of dollars gifting cronies of the mayor under the guise of ecconomic developement as well as a very large percentage of the Cities payroll with nothing to show for it, with the exception of a hopefully someday, grocery/ stripmall.
Small business loans go to realestate flippers rather than people truely trying to operate a business. Stimulus money targeted to crony property owners with a a pledge of not only restoring their rundown properties, but spending City resourses finding tennants as well.
All of this is perfectly acceptable to carter, and his unofficially endorsed Mr. Phipps and if you want more of the same with less resistence in favor of the real people of Ogden, Phipps is your man.

Standard C said...

Only on the Weber Forum can you witness a lame brained light weight like BC (Bill Glasmann) attempt to joust with a verifiable heavy weight deep thinker like this Curmudgeon dood! Who is that guy anyway?

BC said...

Standard C: the word "dood" is actually spelled "d-u-d-e." Until you can spell, make sense, and let go of something that someone got over on you some 30 years ago, it's quite obvious who the REAL light weight is.

You're embarrassing yourself.

Maybe you should call the guy and see if he'd meet you for a discussion, say at the Marshall White Center where there's a boxing ring. Glove up, for I'd bet that guy, whose obviously gotten your goat for all these years, would even go a few rounds with you....probably, even though he's in his 60s, he'd knock some much needed sense into you.

I think he'd fight as a middleweight or light heavy. Whatever, you're loosing way too much sleep over something that should have ended long ago and probably never did happen. Sounds like some school yard jealousy to me, Standard C(lown).

Ray Vaughn said...

BC Glassman; On behalf of the WCF I want to thank you. You have shown yoir dedication to the Godfrey administration. I really enjoy yhe way you avoid answering questions but instead focus on some minor or nonexistent point. And the spelling and punciation lessons are most usefull. Now your spinning is over for the day.

Curmudgeon said...


I agree, it was not and was not intended to be a piece of investigative journalism. Which in no way addresses my concern that Phipps and only Phipps was afforded an opportunity to explain why people were giving to him, and to claim that he had refused donations from others in order to maintain his independence. That should not have been in a purely informational piece, three days before the voting, unless other candidates, and particularly those running for his seat, were afforded the same opportunity in the article. They were not.

Take out the interview with Phipps, and the SE would have had an unobjectionable little article summarizing the campaign fund raising and contributions, and interviewing two of the donors [each popularly presumed to be on the other side of the Council/Mayor divide] explaining why they were giving as they did. It's the exclusive time/space given to Phipps 72 hours before the vote to insist on his independence that was the problem.

You suggest if Phipps was not thought an FOM, there would have been no complaint about the article on WCF. I can't answer for others, but I can for me: if the same article had appeared with only a candidate I support getting space to explain, 72 hourse before the vote, why they were running and why they thought people were donating to them, and claiming [without examination] that they were refusing money from special interest groups, I'd have posted a complaint about the reporting. Poor reporting and editing is poor reporting and editing, no matter which candidate benefits from the sloppy work. I grant you, I'd probably have complained with a little less passion, but I'd have called the reporter and the editors on the sloppy work nevertheless. I'd have to be be brass bound hypocrite to have done otherwise.

BC said...

Curm, I do enjoy discussing certain posts and articles with you. You present your analysis like no other, and most of the time it's pretty good. Sometimes long winded, but pretty good. It seems to me, however, that you've beaten this drum until the hide has come right off the cover.

In your own words, "IF the same article had appeared with only a candidate I support getting space to explain, 72 hourse before the vote, why they were running and why they thought people were donating to them, and claiming [without examination] that they were refusing money from special interest groups, I'd have posted a complaint about the reporting." Certainly shows you aren't one of bias, but isn't "IF" supposition?

You continue, "I'd probably have complained with a little less passion, but I'd have called the reporter and the editors on the sloppy work nevertheless. I'd have to be be brass bound hypocrite to have done otherwise." As I read it, this is a hypothetical, unless you actually did just what you claim "you'd do."

One needs to understand that there's only so much room for print in a newspaper, and in informative articles especially, they hit only on the major news theme--in this case it is the new guy who has raised more than all the others. So maybe the reporter centered her theme around Phipps, someone who had raised thousands, and reported his position instead of on a candidate who had raised only a couple of hundred dollars. Upon deciding what was most newsworthy, at this time, it's possible that an editor made the proper cuts. I found reading about Phipps and the PACs more newsworthy than reading about Stephens and Dan, even though it's ALL important.

I'm wondering if you KNOW that the reporter DIDN'T do her job by not interviewing other candidates, or are you just speculating that she didn't? Maybe she did and they had nothing newsworthy to say. I'd rather hear about how the leading money raiser got all that dough than how another candidate got 50 here or a hundred there; especially with such a vast difference in the amounts.

Here again, this was a basic, informative article that focused on the money leading candidate and his contributing donors. But it also gave mention to some of the others. Everything can't have the same amount of space.

Also, we don't know what research was done by the reporter. Because the focus was on Phipps and the PACs doesn't mean she didn't do as you wished. Editors make certain decisions about what makes the article and what hits the composing room floor, mostly due to space and what they feel is most newsworthy. It's the Standard for hell sakes, not the L.A. Times. They can only print so much.

So, there was nothing wrong with her article, unless one is a anti- administration fan.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. But, I could be wrong.

I voted, the turn out at that point had been quite small (lower than expectations), and there was no exit polling. They did ask for my ID.

As a post-script, I do like what I read from Jennifer Neil. She's quite concise, gets right to the point, but other than what I read in this blog I have not seen any other campaign promotion except for the basic "candidate" article in the newspaper. Remember, the Primary is as important as the General, and this being the case, what with all of the trashing of the administration's candidates and this big desire for change, I'm somewhat surprised that there hasn't been some kind of mobilization.

I guess we'll find out how much clout the blog has, eh?

Curmudgeon said...


Let me try one more time: the article's reporting that Phipps got more than any other candidate was not a problem. Interviewing Phipps alone about why he was running, and printing his claim that he was turning down money from special interests [which apparently did not include real estate association campaign money], and not offering similar opportunities to his opponents, and only 72 hours before the vote was the problem. It's one any good political reporter and any good news editor should have spotted.

Do I know for a fact that an editor did not hack the story to bits after Ms. Lewis submitted it? No. But it's Ms. Lewis' byline on the story. And, since I didn't know that, I criticized both her and her editors for shoddy work.

The SE in the piece provided only Mr. Phipps a platform for his campaigning, 72 hours before the vote. Space is not an excuse, since simply excising his self-serving campaign statements would have made the story a good one.

As for beating the topic to death? Well, BC, I remind you that today's is only a primary election. The final election is a month off, and the SE will be covering the races from now to then. So keeping a spotlight on the quality of its political reporting does not seem at all a beaten-to-death topic to me.

You may be tired of it. But until the polls close in November, I won't be. My hope is the Lewis story was the result of carelessness, not intentional bias and that having the problem pointed out will result in better work from here on in by both Ms. Lewis and her editors.

We shall see.....

BC said...

Close to waving the white flag, Curm. However, you seem stuck on this "only 72 hours before the election" monicure....are you suggesting that the reporter, the editor or the newspaper, either individually or collectively, are all in Phipps corner and they gave him a Banner Headline soapbox?

Comon, this was a simple piece that reported only the news that was worth reporting. The rest, as it's been said, is on the cutting room floor because in the TOTAL scheme of things, that's where all that information should be.

Who cares?

word to the wise said...

"are you suggesting that the reporter, the editor or the newspaper, either individually or collectively, are all in Phipps corner and they gave him a Banner Headline soapbox?"

Give us all a break, BC. Anyone with his/her head on straight knows that's exactly what happened.

The situation will be cured, of course, only when Standard-Examiner publisher Lee Carter gets "hit by a train."

Don't play games, Bill Glassman. You're a villain and disgrace to our community; and we can't wait until you finally leave town.

captain jorts said...

just have to whack godfrey and phipps the end>>>>>just remember to put money on my books in lock up

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