Monday, November 30, 2009

WSU Ethics Initiative Debate Report - UPDATED 2X

Your WCF Blogmeister resumes the task of showing up at a public event, taking notes and dutifully reporting

Just got back from the WSU-sponsored debate, where "venerable" State Senator Lyle Hillyard (29 years of service as Cache/Rich County's state senator for life) squared off with Utahns for Ethical Government's (UEG) lawyer Alan Smith in the Shepard Union Wildcat Theater for a vigorous debate on the pending citizens' UEG Legislative Ethics initiative.

(The Debate Moderator, btw: Nolan Karras, who happens to be yet another distinguished Ogden home-boy.)

Just to put it all in perspective, Alan Smith was the lead attorney in drafting the UEG initiative language.

Although the house wasn't exactly packed (I'm guessing there were about fifty folks in attendance), the ratio of state legislators to regular lumpencitizens was fairly high. We counted at least 5 Utah legislators whom we recognised in the audience (including State Senator Greiner) although we do confess there may have been some whom we couldn't pick out of a police lineup, even if we had our spectacles on.

Anyway, in the interest of brevity we''ll avoid posting our copious notes in chronological sequence, and instead distill it all down. Here are a few of the issues which were raised at today's sometimes lively debate, paraphrasing:

1) Gifts to legislators: Senator Hillyard: "WSU Gave me a bottle of water today, which might be interpreted as a "gift" under the initative language."

Alan Smith's response: Nope. A bottle of water from WSU is regarded as "a gift of negligible value under the proposed legislation." Touche.

2) Legislative priorities: Hillyard: Ethics Legislation is a time consuming and "tedious" process, and it should take a back seat to matters such as balancing the budget during these tough economic times. It takes time to craft a perfect legislative ethics bill.

Mr. Smith: If the legislature won't enact serious ethics reform, the lumpencitizens will do so themselves, thus saving time and effort for our legislature for what Senator-For Life Hillyard regards as "the important things."

3) Branding state legislators as "felons." Hillyard: The proposed ethics law would brand a violator like me as a "felon."

Alan Smith: Nonsense. Even if enacted, the new Ethics Commission would only be advisory. The ethics commitee would have NO prosecutorial authority.

There's more to report, including a good mix of questions from startilingly smart WSU students and a couple of WCU instructors.

Please let us know if you'd like to have this fairly sparse story "padded out."

Update 12/1/09 8:10 a.m.: The Standard-Examiner carries a front page story this morning, reporting on yesterday's debate. Read Dan Weist's writeup here:
Utah debates ethics reform
The Salt Lake Tribune's Kathy McKitrick (a Std-Ex alum) is also all over this story too:
Ethics debate roils at forum
Update 12/1/09 9:47 a.m.: For the sake of helping out with the UEG initiative petition drive, we'll highlight this reader comment which appears in the comments section beneath the above linked Std-Ex story:
Public Response to Initiative Lukewarm in Weber County
I am one of the Weber County volunteers for Utahns for Ethical Government. There are only a few of us, and at the rate signatures are being collected now, we may fail to get the number needed to get this initiative on the ballot. We need your help. Since there are 20 signature blocks on each petition form, it would be easy to collect that many from your family and friends during when you see them over the holidays. If you would be willing to collect a few signatures, or to volunteer in this effort in some other capacity, please call me at 801-645-3592. -Rick Bolin, Ogden
All this talk of putting the legislature's feet to the fire will amount to nothing but hot air, if the petition fails to garner at least the requisite 97,000+ Utah citizen signatures.

If you're in favor of this initiative, why not give Mr. Mr. Bolin a ring? Like all grass roots efforts, this one depends on the broad participation of ALL the concerned citizenry. Odds are that any one of our WCF readers could gather 20 signatures from friends and family, we believe.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Standard Examiner Editorial: Utah GOP Fails Ethics Test

Don't let the special interests stop this grassroots effort

Fantastic editorial in this morning's Standard-Examiner, published in reaction to the Utah GOP's recent adoption of a resolution opposing the Utahns for Ethical Government (UEG) legislative ethics reform initiative. This strong SE editorial pulls no punches:
The Utah Republican Party is officially opposed to a legislative ethics initiative that will be on the ballot next fall if sponsors can get the required number of signatures.
The irony is that it's quite likely most Utah Republicans support the initiative. Polls tab the initiative at about 85 percent support. Our former Republican state legislator and governor, Olene Walker, is a supporter.
We're not surprised that the Republican leadership in Utah opposes ethics reform. Republican leaders in Utah's Legislature have spent decades creating a legislative ethics cesspool that is simply an embarrassment. Even the most basic ethics standards are ignored in Utah. Advocates for ethical government have attempted each legislative session to implement standards but legislative leaders refuse to entertain serious ethics reform. The best "ethics reform" we get from the Utah Republican-dominated Legislature are feckless, timid proposals that protect the powerful and keep legislators smothered with freebies and campaign cash that they can spread around at will.
The SE editors then reel off the list of ethics reforms which are included in the initiative, and move on with a pitch encouraging voters to sign the initiative petition:
These are not radical proposals. Most states already have them. They are common-sense guidelines for ethical behavior in government. They promote honesty and integrity and keep our legislators accountable to their constituents, rather than lobbyists and others with lots of cash.
The Legislative leadership likes their freebies. It's apparent they'll do everything they can to stop popular ethics reform, including a likely court challenge if we enact it via a popular vote. Utahns need to ask their Republican legislators why their party has a problem with good government. And please, sign the ethics initiative petitions. Don't let the special interests stop this grassroots effort.
(For those readers who haven't yet signed the petition, by the way, petition locations are listed here.)

The editorial finishes off with a reminder. Don't forget, gentle readers, about tomorrow's ethics reform initiative-centered WSU special event:
For those who wish to learn more about the initiative, there will be a debate Monday in Ogden at 11:30 a.m. at Weber State University's Shepherd Union Wildcat Theater. Former Republican legislator Kim Burningham will speak in favor of the ethics initiative, State Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, will speak in opposition to it. The debate, open to all, is sponsored by the Richard Richards Institute for Politics at WSU.
Danged fine editorial, as we said. Frankly, we couldn't have said it better ourselves... although we have been doing our very best.

The floor is open.

Who will be the first to comment?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

WSU Game Day Thread - 'Cats vs. William & Mary

FCS playoffs: kickoff @ 11 a.m; Utes v. Cougars season finale @ 3:00 p.m.

As all rabid Wildcats fans are aware, WSU squares off against William & Mary this morning at 11:00 a.m. mountain time in game 1 of what we hope to be a four game WSU playoff series. The Standard-Examiner has the story here:
"Cats lay it all on the line
Other than the above, we won't unnecessarily waste bandwidth hyping this game; as everyone knows, this one is for all the marbles.

The audio version of the game will be broadcast on KLO Radio, of course. According to the WSU website, the video version will also be available online via CBS College Sports. (As to this latter broadcast, we DON'T see the game listed on the CBS Sports calender of events, but we'll keep our fingers crossed anyway.)

As is our usual custom, we're setting up this Game Day Thread, so Wildcat fans can lodge their saucy and ever-wise comments before, during and after the game.

Go Wildcats!

Tangential sub-plot: We'll also invite Utes and Cougars fans to chime in on a game of lesser importance, The BYU/Utah "Holy War" Game, which kicks off at 3:00 p.m. in Provo.

Yeah... we know the Utes and Cougars aren't playoff quality teams like our Wildcats... but as popular northern Utah teams, we don't mind giving them a place in the Weber County Forum spotlight... at least once per season.

Don't let the cat get your tongues, "Cats fans.

Update CBS College Sports Broadcast 11:28 a.m.: Good news for WSU fans. The WSU/William & Mary Game is now live-streaming on the CBS-C site!

Update 11/29/09 10:00 a.m.: Final score... William & Mary 38; WSU 0. This morning's Standard-Examiner provides the grim post mortem:
Turnovers and tepid play leave ’Cats with ... Nowhere to turn
Sad ending to an otherwise encouraging season.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Standard-Examiner: The Powder Mountain Debate Rages On

Why one gentle reader does not find it reassuring that Rep. Froerer is trying to cut a deal with the Powderville jackals that starts "at the development agreement"

By Curmudgeon

The Standard-Examiner has up Friday morning a good news/bad news piece on the Powderville mess:
Powder Mtn. debate rages on, unsettled
First, the good news. The Utah Supreme Court, which has received appeals from both sides in the controversy, has issued a stay order to prevent the appointing of a town government by the developers until the appeals can be heard by the court. The developers opposed the stay order, but the court issued it anyway.

And what did the developers have to say about all this? From the story: "Spokespeople for the town sponsors did not return calls for comment." Of course. Such people much prefer to operate in dark damp places out of the public eye. It is their natural environment.

The story reports that opponents of Powderville [aka residents of the developer-decreed and to-be-developer-governed town] are also hoping the legislature's leadership will not this year cave to the realtor lobby as it did last year by preventing a bill to give town residents the immediate right upon incorporation to dissolve the town by popular vote. Based on past performance, relying on the House leadership to do the right thing when its Utah realtor lobby masters wants it to do otherwise is a doubtful strategy unlikely. But we can still hope, I suppose. Miracles do happen they say.

And the not-so-good news? The story reports that Rep. Gage "Asleep At The Switch" Froerer [who managed not to notice that his constituents were being sold down the river in the Developers Dream Bill] is trying to cut a deal with the developers. From the story:
While the talks are still very preliminary, Froerer said he thinks a deal is in everyone's best interest....
Froerer said he wants to go back to the beginning of the problem. "We can pull the lawsuit, pull the incorporation off the table and start at the development agreement," he said.
Uh oh. Mr. Froerer's legislative career has mostly involved his sitting up and rolling over on cue from the Utah realtors' lobby [as frequent poster Machman has often pointed out]. Why do I not find it reassuring that Mr. Froerer is trying to cut a deal with the Powderville jackals that starts "at the development agreement?"

Going to be interesting to see what the Utah Supreme Court does with the appeals.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Open Topic Thread

Added bonus: A short video piece expounding upon one widely practiced American Thanksgiving Day tradition

It's Thanksgiving Day, Weber County Forum readers; and according our tradition, we're setting up an open topic thread, for those readers who might find their way to their keyboards on what we expect to be a low blog traffic day.

In honor of today's particular holiday however, and before turning over the floor for reader comments, we'll lead off with this clever Onion Network video, expounding upon what for many Americans has become a time-honored Thanksgiving Day tradition:
We invite you all to talk about your own Thanksgiving Day activities and traditions; or consider this an open topic thread.

Last one out... please turn out the lights.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Crime is WAY down in Ogden... Scout's Honor

Standard-Examiner publisher Lee Carter expesses his "special" Thanksgiving thanks for Ogden City's crime fighting team, Chief Greiner and Boss Godfrey

Just for sake of archival consistency, we'll highlight two items appearing in this morning's Standard-Examiner, which fall into the well-travelled Weber County Forum topic category, Godfrey the Crime Fighter.

First, the SE carries this front page Scott Schwebke story, wherein Chief Greiner pats himself on the back for a purported 23% crime reduction and then whines about Ogden's "parolee problem":
“It’s not fair to the citizens of this community,” Greiner said of the inordinate amount of parolees in the city. “It’s not fair to have to police them.”
And our readers won't want to miss this morning's Boss Godfrey guest commentary, wherein the Crime Fighter Hisself ushers himself into view, for a share of the spotlight:
I think Ogden's story is important because it tells other communities that the right plan and implementation can change the paradigm. One of the reasons I ran for this office was because a former city official told me that "you can't do anything to change crime. It has always occurred and always will."
I'm surprised at how many people really believe that, especially when there have been remarkable changes in other high-profile cities like New York City. Crime will always exist in New York City as it will in Ogden, but we can significantly reduce crime. In fact we have done so.
There will be some that won't believe that Ogden is as good as I'm painting it to be. To them I ask that they come to Ogden and see for themselves. Walk our streets and experience the change. There is much more for us to do in Ogden, but we are encouraged by the progress.
Mercifully, neither of these items is bogged down by charts, graphs or much in the way of verifiable substantive data. Godfrey has tried citing real data before of course, with very unfortunate results.

As for the SE's reason for the timing of these two articles, we can only speculate:

It's Thanksgiving eve, gentle readers... and SE Publisher Lee "Gondola Boy" Carter was perhaps overdue in expressing his perfunctory "special thanks." Perhaps these two items were stuck in a SE email inbox somewhere, since prior to the election.

And here's the truly sad part, we believe. With Boss Godfrey's long history of dissembling, spinning and prevaricating, even his remaining supporters don't know what to believe.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday Morning Emerald City News Roundup

Open topic thread: Dwell on any of the topics suggested below... or start up a discussion all your own

Three Weber County Forum-topical items on this morning's Standard-Examiner Live! Website, which we'll briefly reel off one-by-one, as a prelude to a WCF open topic thread:

1) Scott Schwebke reports this morning that Ogden whistle blower Dean Martinez, who's fought a quite valiant uphill court fight, learns the hard way that the average Joe Blow lumpencitizen gets just as much "justice" as he can afford:
Suit against Ogden officials dismissed
2) Ogden resident Troy Lincoln weighs the evidence, and offers a well-reasoned conclusion:
Evidence points to development of Ogden foothills
3) For the Weber State Wildcats and Wildcats fans, the reality of Saturday's FCS playoff game sinks in:
'Cats prepare to go East, young man
With back-to-back playoff trips, will WSU fans start feeling "a little spoiled" and start expecting a similar playoff run every year?

"That's what you want," sez Da Coach!

That's it for now WCF readers. Dwell on any of the above suggested topics... or start up a discussion all your own.

Standard-Examiner: Utah GOP Opposes Citizens Initiative on Ethics

Sign the petition and sending a strong citizen message to the fatcats in Utah GOP legislative leadership

The Standard-Examiner carries an Associated Press story this morning, reporting that the Utah Republican Party's "governing committee" passed a resolution on Saturday, opposing the Utahns for Ethical Government UEG citizen legislative ethics initiative, which among other things would establish an independent ethics commission, a code of conduct for state lawmakers, a lobbyist gift ban and limits on campaign contributions:
Resolved: Utah GOP opposes citizens initiative on ethics
For those readers who are familiar with state GOP politics, this action should come as no surprise at all, inasmuch as party insiders know that the State GOP Central Committee has long served as a lapdog for Utah GOP legislative leadership, who vigorously oppose any serious Utah legislative ethics reform.

This morning's story provides an ideal opportunity, we believe, to remind our readers that petitions are available locally. So for the benefit of those WCF readers who've not yet signed the petition, we'll once again provide the the two centrally-situated Ogden locations where you can sign a petition:
Joyce Wilson (Weber County)
979 27th
Ogden, UT

Ogden-Weber UniServ (Weber County)
939 25th St
Ogden, UT 84401
Notably, this morning's story reports that "former Republican Gov. Olene Walker and other former Republican lawmakers are expected to express their support for the initiative during a news conference at the Capitol." Yes gentle readers, there are many Utah Republicans who are fed up with the ethical cesspool which presently exists on Utah's Capitol Hill; and the State GOP Central Committee's attempt to transform ethics reform into a party-partisan issue should not dissuade anyone of any political persuasion from signing the petition and sending a strong citizen message to the fatcats in Utah GOP legislative leadership.

Don't let the cat get your tongues, O Gentle Ones.

Update 11/24/09 10:07 a.m.: Fine article on this topic from The Non Partisan blog, from which we extract this stirring quote:
Wake up people of Utah, this is your GOP and what they stand for. They stand for themselves, their power, their privileges, and their ability to continue to profit from the positions of trust you’ve given them.
Read the full article here:
Utah’s GOP - Bastion of Corruption:
If this won't get our readers' juices flowing this morning, we frankly don't know what will.

Update 11/24/09 10:44 a.m.: Mark your calenders for 11:30 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 30, folks. The Deseret News reports that Weber State University will host a debate on the current citizen legislative ethics initiative at that time and date:
Weber to host ethics debate
Seems to us that this would be the ideal opportunity for petition promoters to have petitions available for signature at this event.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Ogden Streetcar Corridor Must Run Up 25th Street

Be sure to sign the online petition, and register your support for a 25th Street alignment

By Dorrene Jeske
Ogden City Council Member

UTA has posted information and maps for the Ogden Downtown to WSU/McKay-Dee corridor on their website. You can find the 11-page document It provides several suggested corridors and asks for public input.

After attending two Rail-Volution conferences (San Francisco, 2008, and Boston, October 2009), and taking several mobile workshops to suburban towns who have embraced and planned for transient-oriented development, I am convinced that the streetcar corridor must run up 25th Street at least to Monroe. The city has been working for years to revitalize east central Ogden and the historic district. We now have the perfect impetus for the project with the streetcar and planned transit-oriented development.

I have provided City staff members with information and examples of how transit-oriented development transformed deplorable areas in these metropolitan cities into thriving, desirable living communities.

Public input will have a great deal of influence as to which corridor is chosen so please don’t be silent. Voice your choice for the corridor with your reasons for supporting such a route. All agencies involved realize that the success of a mass transit system is public acceptance and use.

The reasons that support a 25th Street corridor are: 1) It passes through two different developing historic districts; 2) The main Weber County Library is located on 25th Street and Jefferson; 3) The Golden Hour Senior Center is located just east of the library; 4) The Ogden L.D.S. Family History Center is on that route; 5) Old historic homes and houses within the area are being renovated and turned into owner-occupied single family dwellings; 6) All of these are ridership resources with more potential than other proposed corridors, and 7) The revitalization of the historic districts.

The only drawback to this corridor is the cost. It will cost tens of millions of dollars more than the proposed corridor along Washington Blvd. (UDOT will be a major provider of readily available funds because of a currently proposed major road construction project). Ogden needs to decide how much they are willing to pay for a mass transit system and how to fund it. It really should be considered as an investment in Ogden’s future and economic growth.

For those who agree with me, be sure to sign the online petition, and vocally register your support every chance you get for a 25th Street alignment.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Standard-Examiner: OUR VIEW: Mayor's Salary Not Top Priority

Your WCF blogmeister admits he's stumped, and poses a sincere reader query

Interesting example of how something which we believe was really a non-story has proliferated out of all reasonable proportion on the pages of the Standard-Examiner (and elsewhere) during the past week.

Last Sunday the SE published this story, reporting that four so-called Ogden "business leaders," (all FOM's*) were floating an informal trial balloon, seeking to raise the mayor's salary to attract high-caliber candidates for the 2011 election.

In the ensuing few days this story provoked this Cindy Hellewell letter to the editor and this John Thompson guest commentary, not to mention this WCF article, which itself generated 44 reader comments. Thanks to the Standard-Examiner's original story, what started out as a fairly feeble proposal built up quite a head of steam.

And this morning, the Standard-Examiner perpetuates the discussion and carries the below-linked lead editorial, reiterating some of the arguments of the above two SE reader-contributors, and making a few additional points of its own. But in the end, the Standard-Examiner editorial board urges everyone to place this issue squarely where we believe it belongs -- well back on the Emerald City political priority back burner:
OUR VIEW: Mayor's salary not top priority
So in the wake of a week's worth of sturm and drang, we're still scratching our heads wondering why this story commanded the SE's attention in the first place, inasmuch as Boss Godfrey plainly admits he's not seeking a pay raise. Here's the money quote, by the way, as set forth in the original 11/14/09 SE article:
Mayor Matthew Godfrey, who is in his third term, said if he decides to run again in 2011 and is re-elected, he would refuse a pay raise and instead keep his current $80,294 annual salary."
I knew what the salary would be (when first elected in 1999) and don't think it's right to get a pay raise," he said.
In the interest of promoting a little Sunday reader discussion, we'll admit we're stumped, and ask the question again: What was it about this story that generated so much SE ink and SE/WCF reader attention?

The floor's yours, O Gentle Ones.

Who will be the first to comment?

*Friends of Matt

Standard-Examiner: "Mt. Ogden Golf Course Losing Money! Really!"

Mayor Godfrey again presents the golf course "problem" as one with only two possible solutions

By Monotreme

The Standard-Examiner has seen fit to repeat the "Mt. Ogden Golf Course Losing Money! Really!" meme one more time:
Upgrading Mt. Ogden Golf Course to take money
Mayor Godfrey is once again presenting the golf course "problem" as one with only two possible solutions: float a bond, or sell to developers. You can see where this is going, because he has commissioned a push poll that shows that people don't want to vote for a bond issue (or so he says, at least not a bond issue framed the way he chose to frame it).

Of course, the fact that even more people don't want to sell off open space to developers bothers him not one whit.

It would be interesting to know what a real poll, instead of a b.s. push poll, would find as far as public opinion regarding Mt. Ogden PARK.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

WSU Game Day Thread - UPDATED: 'Cats Make Playoffs

“We’ve just got to worry about ourselves,” said WSU coach Ron McBride. “We put ourselves in this predicament."

From this morning'sStandard-Examiner front page sports story:
OGDEN — Weber State University fans will not only be cheering for the Wildcats today as they take on Cal Poly, but they’ll be hoping for victories from the Montana Grizzlies and Northern Arizona Lumberjacks.
They won’t be alone.
Somewhere in the back of the minds of the No. 19-ranked Wildcats, they’ll be wishing for victories by the Griz and ’Jacks as well. That thought hasn’t been easy for the Wildcats to handle, especially since they lost to the Grizzlies 31-10 in Missoula last month.
“It’s a little hard rooting for them, after what they did to us, but we’ve got to,” said WSU defensive lineman Kevin Linehan, one of 17 seniors playing their final game at Stewart Stadium.
WSU (6-4, 6-2 Big Sky Conference) needs a victory over Cal Poly (4-6) as well as help from other teams to get into the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. The Wildcats are one of 11 teams in serious contention for eight at-large playoff spots. So are Montana State, which plays at Big Sky champion Montana today, and Eastern Washington, which ends the regular season at Northern Arizona.
Since Montana State and No. 18-ranked Eastern Washington could improve to 6-2 in league play with wins, which would tie them... blah, blah blah.
Let's hope our lucky stars are in alignment, WSU fans.

As Coach Mac sez:
“We’ve just got to worry about ourselves,” said WSU coach Ron McBride. “We put ourselves in this predicament."
Go Wildcats.

Update 11/22/09 9:07 a.m.: WSU kicks ass, 47-14:
WSU seniors shine in home finale
Update 11/22/09 4:45 p.m.: Great News for WSU Football fans. From this hot-off-the-press story, we learn that the Wildcats have been selected to enter the FCS playoffs, with a first round faceoff against William & Mary:
Weber State earns second straight playoff berth
11/23/09 12:22 a.m.: The Std-Ex just posted their own playoff selection story on the Live! Site about an hour ago:
Wildcats play on / WSU football earns playoff bid
Congrats to the "Cats! From this point on, Coach Mac's team has the luxury of controlling its own playoff fate.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Standard-Examiner Editorial: Time to Stop Double Dipping

Note to our "fiscally conservative" state legislature: Are you listening?

We don't want the day to completely slip away, without shining the spotlight on a fine lead editorial appearing in this morning's Standard-Examiner. In a most craftsman-like fashion, editorial page editor Doug Gibson draws a bead on a quirky Utah political practice which we've extensively ranted about here on Weber County Forum, public employee double dipping:
OUR VIEW: Time to stop double-dipping
We're delighted to see the Standard-Examiner jumping aboard the editorial bandwagon on this; and we applaud the SE's no-nonsense proposed legislative approach:
Look, this is a no-brainer change to make and any Utah legislator who opposes it deserves to lose re-election. Utah is the only state in the Western United States that lets retirees come back to work with a salary, pension and a 401(k). The result is Utah has lost $400 million over the past eight years and will lose $900 million over the next 10 years. We just can't afford to bleed money like that, particularly during this tough recession.
We have no objection to a public worker retiring, drawing benefits and then moving into the private sector. That is not costing the state money. But public-sector double-dipping is, and it needs to stop.
Note to our "fiscally conservative" state legislature: Are you listening?

Ogden Veteran's Home Dedication Ceremony Report

It was awe-inspiring to be a part of such a patriotic event

By Dorrene Jeske

I attended the dedication ceremony for the Veteran's Home yesterday, which was the subject of a front page article in this morning's Standard-Examiner:
Ogden veterans home hosts grand dedication
At 9:30 AM, a continental breakfast of fruit, pastries and juice or coffee was offered to a couple of hundred people who attended a brief program and tour of the new facility. It is a beautiful building inside and out. The individual bedrooms were very nice, but reminded me too much of the hospital rooms where I spent three weeks a year ago. The home has a commons area or a large family room with a beautiful and well furnished kitchen next to it. We also saw the huge kitchen where the meals for veterans who will be staying there will be prepared. It is a big improvement over the Fort Douglas facility. We were told that when the federal money is obtained, that it will be used to build two similar facilities in the middle and south end of the State to service the veterans who live in those areas.

At 11:00 AM, everyone was ushered outside to a bright sunny, almost cloudless sky overhead. The dedicatory ceremony was very nice and touching. A beautiful big American flag along with the State and another flag were posted behind the speakers and Mrs. Wahlen on a raised platform. Our National Anthem was sung beautifully and the Pledge of Allegiance had a significant impact on those attending because of the many veterans and on-duty service personnel that were in attendance and recited it with great emotion. After the invocation by General Robert Oaks, God Bless America was beautifully sung with great feeling and the active members of our military services joined in the last couple of verses. It was one of those emotional moments that won’t be forgotten for some time.

The speakers were brief and humbled by the presence of so many of our brave and courageous veterans bearing the results of their personal sacrifices preserving our freedoms and our American way of life. Coach Frank Layden told the story of baseball great Jackie Robinson (both of them were also Vets) and his struggles as the first black man breaking into baseball after he had served his Country in WW II.

It was awe-inspiring to be a part of such a patriotic event, and it made one realize how much we do owe our veterans and our active military members and their families for the great sacrifices they make and have made so that we can enjoy a wonderful life and the freedoms promised us by the greatest Constitution of the greatest country in the world!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Streetcar Stakeholder Meeting! Very, Very, Very Important! - UPDATED

Please come let them know that you support a 25th Street alignment
UPDATE: Dan S. live blogs from the stakeholders' meeting

From the Trolley District Website
community calender:
When: Thu, November 19, 1:30pm – 3:30pm
Where: Weber Center - 2380 Washington Blvd. (map)
Description: The stakeholder committee meets to determine their preferred route for the Streetcar! This is a very important meeting, since the consultants and UTA are pushing for a 36th Street alignment bypassing the Trolley District. Please come let them know that you support a 25th Street alignment!

And if you haven't yet done so, please sign the petition.

WCF readers who attend this afternoon's event are invited, of course, to chime in with your post-meeting reports.

We'll also extend the same invitation to anyone who might decide to engage in some live blogging.

Who knows... maybe we'll get REALLY lucky.

Update 11/20/09 8:00 a.m.: The Standard-Examiner carries its own post-meeting writeup in this morning's hard-copy edition, which reports that yesterday's stakeholders' meeting was anything but dispositive of the streetcar corridor alignment issue:
Alternative route chosen / Some say their opinion on corridor is being ignored
For our money however, the most concise and accurate thumbnail summary comes from
Dan S.'s 11:09 p.m. remark in the comments section below this article:

The result of today's meeting was that there is no consensus on a preferred alternative, but they will schedule a meeting (or perhaps more than one meeting) reasonably soon in which members of the public can come and ask technical questions and offer their ideas. It's not clear what happens after that; probably it depends on how things go at the meeting(s). In any case, those who are interested should watch for an announcement and plan to attend.
And we also believe gentle reader Conductor pretty much "nails it" regarding the question of "where do we go from here?":

I just wanted to thank everyone for their support in this matter. I do feel like we, the public, have made a difference in this process. We have at least opened the door for more public dialogue to occur before a decision on a locally preferred alternative is made.
The big thing will be to get UDOT to come to the table on Harrison Boulevard, and engage in a Multi-Modal Corridor Analysis.
Special thanks to Dan S. by the way, for yesterday's highly informative live blogging.

We'll now re-open the floor for further reader remarks.

Standard-Examiner: City OKs the Use of Eminent Domain

At this point the obvious unanswered question is "Why now?"

By Dan Schroeder

Today's Standard-Examiner article answers the question that I posed yesterday afternoon:
City OKs use of eminent domain / Land to be used for Ogden River Redevelopment Project Area
Eminent domain has been approved for three properties in the River Project area. None of these three properties are adjacent to the river itself, so this purely an "economic development" issue, having nothing to do with restoration of the river.

At this point the obvious unanswered question is "Why now?". Is a developer ready to start building in this area as soon as these properties are acquired? If so, who is it and what will be built? Also, what assurance do we have that the development will actually occur?

Editor's Addendum: Here's an interesting sidebar. This morning's Std-Ex story alludes to the infamous Kelo decision, wherein "the U.S. Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 vote in 2005 that cities can use eminent domain to claim property for economic development."

Just to add perspective to the matter, we'll link a short article from the Castle Coalition, reporting on the current status of Pfizer, Inc.'s New London, CT research facility, the same economic development project which destroyed one New London residential neighborhood and prompted the litigation leading to the Kelo ruling.

But first, an eye opening article lede excerpt:
Arlington, Va.—Pfizer, Inc., announced today that the company will be closing its former research and development headquarters in New London, Conn. This was a project that involved massive corporate welfare and led to the abuse of eminent domain that ultimately bulldozed the home of Susette Kelo and her neighbors in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Kelo v. City of New London.
This was the same bogus development plan that five justices of the U.S. Supreme Court refused to question when the property owners of New London pleaded to have their homes spared from the wrecking ball. Justices mentioned that there was a plan in place, and that so long as lawmakers who are looking to use eminent domain for someone’s private gain had a plan, the courts would wash their hands. Now, more than four years after the redevelopment scheme passed constitutional muster—allowing government to take land from one private owner only to hand that land over to another private party who happens to have more political influence—the plant that had been the magnet for the development is closing its doors and the very land where Susette Kelo’s home once stood remains barren to all but feral cats, seagulls and weeds.
Sounds disturbingly familiar, dunnit?

Read the full Castle Coalition article here:
The End of an Eminent Domain Error: Pfizer Closes in New London
Land Taken in Infamous Kelo Supreme Court Case Remains Empty More Than Four Years After Ruling
Are the lumpencitizens of Emerald City unnecessarily about to learn some hard lessons from the oppressed citizens of New London, CT?

We believe Dan S. Got it exactly right. Gotta say we're still scratching our heads wondering how it was possible for council members Garcia, Gochnour and Stephens to have been so easily lured aboard the eminent domain bandwagon at this particular point in time. Interestingly, the Kelo case turned on the question of whether the particular developer "had a plan in place," which logically induces the question: Does Boss Godfrey actually have a viable River Project plan in place? If so, we'd sure like to see it.

So what say our gentle readers about all this?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sign the Streetcar Petition!

We're down to our last night before the stakeholders make their final recommendations

By Chris Bentley

Hello, dear friends!

Well, we're down to our last night before the stakeholders make their final recommendations. That means that there's still time to make a difference in this historic and critically important decision. Go to:
and sign the petition to show your support of smart development, revitalization, and bringing back the life of the core of our community: the east central neighborhood from now on to be known as the Trolley District!

Thank you for all that you are doing to promote good things for Ogden. Please ask all of your friends to sign the petition and join our great effort.



Bits And Pieces From Last Night's Emerald City Council Meeting

City Council Notes - 11/17/09

By Dan Schroeder

I arrived in the council chambers just after 6:00, so I missed the Board of Canvass meeting which took place at 5:50. I would assume that the vote was duly certified, and that there were no surprises in the final tally. I learned independently that Garner came out ahead of Garcia by 17 votes. Incidentally, all of the councilmembers-elect (Blair, Garner, and Van Hooser) were in attendance.

The council agenda began with a proclamation honoring Allen F. Hampton Jr. as the honorary mayor of Christmas Village. There followed a long list of appointments to various city committees: Board of Zoning Adjustment, Board of Building and Fire Code Appeals, Ogden Trails Network Committee, Landmarks Commission, Ogden Arts Committee, and Records Review Board. Of these, only the last was controversial with both Jeske and Wicks voting against the reappointment of Robert H. DeBoer.

DeBoer's reappointment had been on the agenda three weeks ago, but was pulled at the last minute. This may have been because I sent an email letter to the council the weekend before that meeting, explaining my experience with the Records Review Board and asking that DeBoer not be reappointed. For whatever reason, it was back on the agenda tonight and the motion carried with five in favor. Jeske raised the question of whether DeBoer had served longer than 10 years on the Records Review Board, in violation of the mayor's informal 10-year limit. The mayor's immediate response was that in that case he would favor finding someone new for the committee but he would still urge them to pass the motion. [Yes, he really did contradict himself that quickly.] In fact, the applicable ordinance prohibits anyone from serving more than two consecutive three-year terms. DeBoer served two terms from 1997-2003, then was reappointed in early 2007 and has now been reappointed through late 2012.

Following approval of some minutes, there was then a public hearing on a resolution awarding Arts Grants. The substance of the resolution was never explained (and I'm not up on the subject), but this was a lively item because a troupe of children in ballet costumes (Alice in Wonderland and Nutcracker) came and stood along either side of the dais while a citizen spoke on behalf of the grants. The resolution was approved.

Next was the petition to remove the stay limit for hotels and motels. One hotel/motel owner (possibly the petitioner) explained how they could really use the extra business from guests who wish to stay longer. But the Planning Department spoke against the petition and it was voted down 4-3 (if I recall correctly), so the stay limit remains in place.

Finally came public comments, during which three citizens spoke in favor of a 25th Street alignment for the proposed streetcar. The speakers were James Wilson (who recently wrote a letter to the editor on the subject), Iain Hueton (a member of the Planning Commission) and Mitch Moyes. Wilson reported on a meeting that he and other citizens had held this morning with a UDOT official, who reportedly stated that UDOT would not stand in the way of an alignment on Harrison Blvd. if that is the consensus of the community. Hueton pointed out the magnitude of this investment ("we don't throw around 9-digit numbers very often"), the potential for a streetcar to unite the two sides of Harrison, and the importance of involving the public in the decision.

In response, Mayor Godfrey insisted that he would favor an alignment on 25th Street but expressed skepticism that UDOT would make it feasible. He also claimed that there is time pressure to make a decision before the next federal funding cycle.

The council then adjourned into closed session to discuss pending litigation. I wasn't able to stay for the RDA meeting (with the decision over eminent domain in the River Project area) or the council work session (to discuss the golf course). However, Bill C. was there and intended to stay so perhaps he can fill us in.

Update 11/18/09 7:24 a.m.: The Salt Lake Tribune's Kristen Moulton confirms that Councilman Garcia has indeed been officially ousted from his Ward 1 seat:
Final count confirms Garcia lost Ogden seat
Who will be the first to comment?

Can anyone fill us in about the happenings with regard to eminent domain proceedings during last night's RDA meeting?

Bill C... Ferris?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Powder Mountain Update: A New Citizen Petition

Please do your part to help free the beleaguered Ogden Valley citizens from Utah-style corporo-fascist tyranny

There's more frenzied activity on the Powder Mountain Township front, as the valiant citizens of Ogden Valley mobilize yet again to get our from under the Powder Mountain Developers' thumb. House Representative Gage Froerer and State Senator Allen Christensen are planning to introduce a new bill in the upcoming 2010 state legislative session, which will be substantially similar to last year's H.B. 201, the bill which was mercilessly killed by real estate developer-friendly Senate Leadership during the last hour of the 2009 legislative session. In connection with this, the aggrieved Powdervillians have established a new citizen petition on the Ogden Valley Forum blogsite, calling upon Utah citizens to chime in with their support for this bill.

The object of this bill is concisely set forth in the body of the citizen petition:

This bill applies only to town incorporation petitions currently pending under the provisions of the 2007 HB466 law (in effect from June 2007 to March 2008), which allowed incorporation of a town and selection of town officers by large, non-resident property owners without any participation of the voters of the town. The proposed change would remove the requirement for a 24-month waiting period prior to a disincorporation election, allowing the voters of the town to decide immediately whether or not a town is in the best interest of the majority of citizens and property owners.
In our view, this new legislation would be exactly what the doctor ordered for the prospective citizens of Powder Mountain Town, who are being unwillingly impressed into a corporate-controlled municipal entity, with absolutely no say in the matter.

We therefore urge all fair-minded Weber County Forum readers to navigate to the Ogden Valley Forum site, to affix your electronic signatures to the petition:
Be the first to sign the petition
Please be sure to do your part to help free the beleaguered Ogden Valley citizens from Utah-style corporo-fascist tyranny.

There are already 94 citizen signatures on the petition as we publish this. Let's do what we can to seriously run up the count.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Couple of Potential Red Meat Items on Tomorrow's Council/RDA Calenders

The council is presented with a chance to correct a Gang of Six Council error; and the nasty subject of Eminent Domain arises on the tomorrow's RDA agenda

There's nothing in the Northern Utah print media which we could properly label as nutritious Weber County Forum political red meat this morning, but there are a couple of potential items looming on the near-horizon. We scoured the Ogden City website for tomorrow's Council/RDA agendas... and here is what we found:

1) This from tomorrow's city council agenda:
8. Reports from the Planning Commission:
a. Hotel/Motel Stay Limit. Consideration of Petition 2009-13 eliminating the provision that restricts length of stay in a hotel or motel. (Receive public input. Deny Petition or request ordinance be drawn – roll call)
We last railed on this subject back in 2005. It appears that the council now has the opportunity to correct another heavy-handed Gang of Six Council error. The "90 Day and Out" ordinance passed in 2005 was a a clear case of Administration and Gang Of Six Council overreaching, which unfairly impacted both low income families and the property owners who operate Ogden motels. Now that the planning commission is making this recommendation, we urge the council to repeal the ordinance without delay.

2) And speaking of overreaching, we discover this most disturbing item on tomorrow's RDA agenda:
6. Reports from the Administration:
a. Eminent Domain Authorization for Ogden River Redevelopment Project Area. Proposed Resolution 2009-8 authorizing the use of eminent domain to acquire certain real property located in the Ogden River Project Area. (Adopt/not adopt resolution – roll call vote)
From appearances, gentle readers, it now appears that Boss Godfrey once again demonstrates his penchant for government tyranny. Godfrey labels the few downtown property owners who haven't yet rolled over for River Project purchase offers as "holdouts." For our money, we'll label them "American property owners," with tangible property rights protected by the U.S. Constitution.

It'll be interesting to observe how the RDA Board approaches this. In our view, the first question the council needs to ask is this: Given recent developments with respect to the languishing River Project, does a viable project actually exist? We're painfully aware of Gadi Leshem's financial troubles. But what about the shell company, Ogden River Development, LLC, for which Gadi serves as a front man? Has anyone bothered to identify the principals with ownership interests in this shadowy California LLC? Have either the mysterious company or its principals been in any way vetted? And what about a development agreement? In the event that the Ogden RDA is rash enough to initiate condemnation proceedings, what guarantees do Ogden taxpayers have that this new group of "investors" who'll wind up owning these "holdout" target properties have the will or financial capacity -- or even an operational plan -- to undertake this highly ambitious project? And has Ogden City put an actual developer under contract yet? That important detail was still unresolved the last time we looked at the subject.

Seems to us any talk of initiating eminent domain proceedings is laughably premature at this point. Seems to us that the RDA Board needs answers to all of the above questions, before it undertakes any act at all in the direction of dispossessing the few River Project property owners who actually pay property taxes. Seems to us the RDA Board needs to gather some important preliminary facts before it buries itself more deeply into this project, which for all intents and purposes now appears to be D.O.A.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

Who will be the first to wipe away those weekend cobwebs and offer a comment?

Update 11/16/09 11:45 a.m.: Thanks to a tip from sharp-eyed Gentle Reader Ray, we now have a link to the Ogden River Development, LLC website, which displays the same half-assed approach that's so very typical of "Friends of Matt." Unlike the River Project however, this website can at least boast that its "under construction," which is a lot more than can be said for that Godfrey Albatross -- The River Project, once again.

The website is reassuring, innit?

Don't fail to chime in with your comments.

House District 10 Pre-2010 Legislative Session Open House

Attend the public meetup with House Representative Brent Wallis on November 19

Received this missive via email from House District 10 Representative Brent Wallis last night:
Hi Rudi: I am going to be hosting an Open House Thursday, November 19th at 6:30 p.m in South Ogden City Hall,
3950 Adams Ave. The meeting is for legislative district 10. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss and preview issues regarding the 2010 legislative session and connect with the people I represent. Rudi, I learn a heck of a lot more by listening than talking.. lol. I would appreciate if you could post something on the forum to advertise the event. I would also like to personally invite you to attend the event. I have advertised with flyers in the Standard and also placed street signs at major intersections throughout the district. Thanks again Rudi. I always enjoy reading your blog.
Needless to say, we're delighted to assist Rep. Wallis in promoting this important public event. Rep. Wallis has always been a favorite of readers of Weber County Forum. Moreover, we believe events such as this are important vehicles for the promotion of government openness transparency.

We therefore urge our readers who reside in House Legislative District 10 to mark their calenders, and be sure to attend this event.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Standard-Examiner: How Much Should Your Mayor Make?

A tacit admission that another pizza delivery boy and ne'er do well is a bad idea for Ogden?

By Monotreme

The Standard-Examiner carries this interesting story this morning on the front page of the hard-copy edition:
How much should your mayor make?
In it, Mr. Schwebke interviews a cadre of local business "leaders" (all Friends of Matt, curiously), who think that the salary for Ogden Mayor should be increased "to attract more qualified candidates".

Is this a tacit admission that another pizza delivery boy and ne'er do well is a bad idea for Ogden?

Best Quote of the Month Award to Councilwoman Dorrene Jeske:
I'm sure he isn't paid as much as he should be," she said. "This form of government costs more than it's worth because of all the high-paid directors we have.
Kinda puts him over a barrel, doesn't it? I think that what she's really saying, in a very polite way, is that if he quit paying other people to do his job, then he'd be able to make more.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

College Game Day Open Thread

Two Utah collegiate games we'll be closely watching today. Read all the pregame hype here
Utah v. TCU
The WSU home field kickoff is set for 1:00 @ WSU's Stewart Stadium. The Utah/TCU game starts @ 5:30 p.m.

WSU fans who are stuck in their work cubicles today can hear the audio of the WSU game on KLO radio of course. There's also an online video broadcast on Big Sky TV.

Ute fans can catch the audio on KALL Radio. Cable subscribers who want video can find it on CBS College Sports.

That's it for now, WCF collegiate sports fans.

We'll leave this thread open for anyone who wishes to comment on these important games.

Sign the Streetcar Corridor Alignment Petition

Let the UTA bureaucrats know that the lumpencitizens of Emerald City WILL NOT SETTLE for a hokey 36th Street streetcar alignment

For those following current developments in the ongoing UTA Ogden Streetcar study, please take note that one of our gentle readers has furnished a copy of a draft of the UTA Project Team's streetcar corridor alignment recommendation:
Ogden-WSU Transit Corridors AA-EIS Project Status, Conclusions and Recommendations
In a nutshell, it turns out that Mr. Wilson's 11/10/09 Standard-Examiner letter, (which we highlighted in our own 11/11/09 WCF article) proves to be most prophetic. It seems indeed that the UTA Project Team has "rolled up the maps, folded up the (public) comments, and apparently thrown them in the trash." From page 11 of the above-linked draft recommendation:

The recommended alignment would run east from the Intermodal Center along 23rd Street to Washington Boulevard and then southbound on Washington Boulevard to 36th Street. All operations on 23rd Street and the segments of Washington Boulevard between 23rd and 25th Streets would be mixed flow. Operations would employ centerrunning dedicated lanes from 25th Street until 36th Street on Washington Boulevard. Operations along 36th Street would be mixed flow with a queue jump lane at Monroe Street. Upon reaching Harrison Boulevard, the alignment would either turn east into the campus on Dixon and Edvalson Dr. and operate in a dedicated guideway through the campus or continue south on Harrison Blvd. The line would have a stop at the Dee Events Center park-and-ride lot and also cross Harrison Blvd. at 4400 South, with the end-of-line at the McKay Dee Hospital campus.
The "next step" in this process is described on page 14:

Continuation of the project requires concurrence or all project sponsor and stakeholders with the recommended alignment and mode. The Project Team will be holding a joint meeting of the Management and Policy Committees on Thursday November 19th 2009 at the Weber County Municipal Offices in Ogden. At this meeting the Project Team will present the recommended Locally Preferred Alternative along with the supporting data used in determining that recommendation. The Project Team will work with all of the members of both committees to come to a general consensus on the recommendation in order to move forward with the next steps in the study.
Once a general consensus has been reached the Project Team will proceed with the
final publication of the Alternatives Analysis and begin with environmental analysis work on the recommended alternative.
If no consensus can be reached among the committee members, a plan of action will
need to be established to determine whether or not the project will continue.
With this crucial meeting coming up on November 19th, those of us who see a 25th Street east-west alignment as essential to the economic development and revitalization of our central city have our work cut out for us; and we're operating on a tight timeline. In that connection we once again urge our readers to navigate to the Ogden Trolley District website and sign the online petition.

As set forth above, it's the Management and Policy Committees (and NOT the UTA bureaucrats) who will have the ultimate say regarding the final proposed alignment. Let's not sit on our thumbs in this matter. Let's all put our names on the petition and let the Management and Policy Committees know that a centrally situated east-west streetcar corridor is what the lumpencitizens demand, and that we WILL NOT SETTLE for a hokey 36th Street alignment.

Once again, folks... let's get crackin'. If you haven't yet signed the petition... please do so now.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lifties and Smarties

Ogden's two-party political system

By Dan Schroeder

It’s time to admit it: Ogden has a two-party political system.

One party includes Mayor Godfrey, his department heads, city council members Johnson and Stephenson, and majorities of the Chamber of Commerce, local realtors, and the Standard-Examiner management.

The other party includes council members Wicks, Gochnour, Garcia, and Jeske, as well as majorities of the firefighter’s union, WSU faculty, and contributors to Weber County Forum.

These political parties need names, so I propose that we bring back a couple of names that I heard during the 2006 Ogden Gondola War (when Ogden’s political divide became especially apparent): Lifties and Smarties.

“Lifty”, of course, comes from “Lift Ogden”. But I don’t mean to imply that every Lifty has endorsed the specific Lift Ogden proposal to build two gondolas and sell off our foothills for commercial development. Most of them did. The rest, I’m afraid, will just have to suffer from guilt by association.

“Smarty”, similarly, comes from “Smart Growth Ogden”, the organization that was formed in reaction to Lift Ogden on a platform of preserving open space, fiscal responsibility, and open government. But today’s Smarty Party is a much broader coalition.

Although the Gondola War subsided in 2007, both parties grew and consolidated during the municipal election campaign that fall. The parties were equally visible in the just-finished city council campaign. Candidates Van Hooser and Blair, plus incumbent Garcia, were the unofficial nominees of the Smarty Party; candidates Hains, Phipps, and Garner were the Lifty nominees.

Fascinatingly, the Lifty/Smarty split seems to be completely uncorrelated with the Democrat/Republican split in state and national politics. Matthew Godfrey and Susan Van Hooser are both registered Republicans, and both are supported by prominent local Democrats (e.g., Allens and Halls).

Like the national parties, the Lifties and the Smarties don’t disagree on everything. The vast majority of city council votes are unanimous. Lifties and Smarties work side by side every day to improve our city. A few politicians (e.g., Doug Stephens and Patrick Dean), plus a large number of voters, have no strong leaning toward either party.

And like the national parties, both the Lifties and the Smarties are really coalitions of multiple interests. Over time, these coalitions will undoubtedly shift. Since no laws recognize or support a two-party system in local elections, it’s quite possible that Ogden’s current parties will prove to be ephemeral.

For now, however, both parties are held together by one man: Matthew Godfrey. Over the last ten years our mayor has pushed large numbers of Ogdenites squarely into one party or the other, by rewarding loyalty and punishing dissent at every opportunity. He strongly believes that everyone in Ogden is either with him or against him, and his actions have increasingly made that belief a reality.

Is it good or bad to have a two-party system? This system has served our nation pretty well for the last century and a half, and it’s hard to imagine a strong democracy without it. At the same time, it exacerbates polarization in our government, our communities, and sometimes our homes.

Similarly, in Ogden, the Lifty-Smarty split is both good and bad. It seems to be increasing the level of interest and participation in local politics, giving voters clearer choices. Yet just as in national politics, the increased polarization often gets in the way of progress.

Whether we love it or hate it, Ogden’s two-party system is a reality that we might as well acknowledge. It won’t go away until at least 2011.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ogden Streetcar Planning Update: Sign the Danged Petition - UPDATED - Software Bug Fixed

One last chance to tell the mind-number UTA/UDOT bureaucrats what's up with the Lumpencitizens of Emerald City
Happily, the little glitch in the online petition software which was earlier reported in this space... has now been fixed

In the wake of yesterday's WCF article, wherein we shined the spotlight on this most excellent Standard-Examiner letter to the editor, and asked for reader suggestions as to how we, the ever-downtrodden Lumpencitizens of Emerald City, could help jar the mind-numbed UTA/UDOT bureaucrats into recommending an east-west streetcar alignment which would actually benefit Ogden, we received something important from one of our gentle readers via email late last evening.

Here's what we received from the most remarkable Ogden City activist Shalae Larsen, via an email transmitted from her Facebook page:
Subject: Sign the petition, bring back the streetcar!
We need your help!
Please visit the website and sign our petition to bring the streetcar back to the Trolley District.
Tell your friends! This is our last opportunity to tell UDOT and UTA how we feel. Thank you all!
Well Shalae, that's exactly what we're doing at Weber County Forum. We're telling our friends. And believe-you- me... we have thousands of them.

If you're in favor of a 25th/26th streetcar corridor which would actually serve the heart of Ogden, be sure to navigate to the link provided above, and enter your information to the petition.

If you're in favor of the 36th street alignment... just go fishin'. I hear they're catchin' 24-inch "Tiger Trout" hybrids on Burch Creek.

Let's get crackin', WCF readers... log you names onto the petition.

A seven-lane highway is what UTA/UDOT have ultimately planned for Ogden's already overbuilt Harrison Boulevard; and according to at least one well informed gentle reader's speculation, that's why UTA/UDOT is holding out.

If you're mad as hell, please chime in with your comment. If you're madder than hell, chip in twice.

Whatever your current state of mind may be however, please be sure to "sign" the petition.

Update 11/22/09 6:;59 p.m.: Happily, the little glitch in the online petition software which was earlier reported in this space... has now been fixed.

Here's the petition link again:
Sign the online petition
Have at it, O Gentle Ones...

Ooops! 3 Vacant Ogden Buildings NOT Ready

Let us hope that at least the news editors of the SE understand now just how easily they were played by the administration last month

By Curmudgeon

Have to hand it to the Standard-Examiner for putting on public display today the extent to which it got royally played by the Godfrey administration last month. You'd think the editors would be embarrassed:
3 vacant Ogden buildings not ready
If you recall, a couple of weeks before the Council election [in which Mayor Godfrey was strongly backing two candidates for open seats], the SE reported that the Mayor had announced that in a month or so [after the election] he hoped to announce that three new manufacturers' outlet stores would open on Washington Blvd. just across from The Junction. Or maybe only one. In any case, the city said it would not name the companies. This the SE inexplicably treated as a major news story, not as the Administration's attempt to run up support for its candidates in the approaching election. There really was no actual news in the story at all [Mayor announcing that he hoped to announce later three stores, or maybe one, none of which he would name, were coming to Ogden.]

Almost a month has now passed. The election is over. And do we see this morning that the mayor has announced what the SE dutifully reported three weeks ago that he announced that he hoped to announce?

Ah.... no. Today Mr. Schwebke reports there will be no announcement about three companies ---or maybe one --- opening outlet stores on Washington this year. Because the buildings the city is rehabbing for them won't be ready. We're told by administration sporkesmen that the Mayor's office had hoped the stores would be open for the Christmas shopping season, but, sadly, the buildings won't be ready in time.

So, we're supposed to believe that four weeks ago, the Administration expected the stores to be leased, stocked and open for the Christmas selling season [which begins in two weeks], but that now, only four weeks later, the administration has suddenly realized that not only will the stores not be leased and open for the Christmas selling season, they won't be ready for occupancy until sometime next year. Oooops! Sorry 'bout that.

Well, is the Godfrey administration at least willing tell us what stores have not signed the leases we were told the Mayor hoped to announce had been signed by now? Ah... no. In fact, now we're told there's no rush to sign leases or to announce the companies [allegedly] involved since the stores won't be ready for occupancy until sometime next year anyway. Maybe.

Let us hope that at least the news editors of the SE understand now just how easily they were played by the administration last month, and that they will be reluctant to run "Mayor announces he expects to announce" stories in the future.

Audit Calls For End to Rehiring Retirees

Double dippers may cost state retirement system $900 million in coming decade
"It was evident in the cases we reviewed that retiring was, with few exceptions, simply a maneuver to begin drawing both a pension and a salary," the audit said. "Returning to work soon after retiring suggests the retirees had not genuinely intended on ending their public service careers."

Utah State Auditor
Getting retirement and salary
November 12, 2009

"The retired in place system is valuable because it allows municipalities to rehire police chiefs or sheriff for the same job at a lower rate within the pay scale." [...]
"Then you have the same person that you pay less and the same amount of service and job experience," he said."It's a good incentive for citizens and cities because it allows cities to renegotiate salary and benefits packages."

Chief Jon Greiner
Getting retirement and salary
November 12, 2009

Ogden City's Chief of Police and State Senator Jon Greiner again gets his mugshot plastered onto the front page of this morning's Standard-Examiner with this AP/SE Staff story, which reports that the the State Auditor's office has recommended a ban on the practice of "double-dipping," a unique Utah quirk, whereby some well-connected government employees are legally-entitled to "retire in place," and then go on collecting a salary in addition to state retirement benefits.

Several eye-popping facts emerge from this morning's Std-Ex story:
• The state retirement system covers state and local governments, as well as public and higher education employers.
• The audit said allowing rehired employees to collect pension benefits has cost the state more than $400 million in the past eight years and will cost nearly $900 million over the next 10.
• Utah is the only western state that allows retirees to return to work with a salary, pension and 401(k) plan. The audit recommends requiring employers to make contributions to the state retirement fund instead of personal 401(k) plans.
Both the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News are also all over this topic this morning too, with stories which do not, (unlike the one in this morning's Std-Ex,) directly focus on Ogden's police chief as the poster boy for the egregious Utah practice of allowing certain good ole boys (and gals) to spend a virtual lifetime wallowing in the public trough.

Now that the state legislature has its back pressed to the wall with the severe state tax revenue shortfalls resulting from the ongoing 2008-09 Great Recession, will our legislators act swiftly and decisively to enact the State Auditor's recommendation into Utah law?

We'll volunteer to say won't be holding our breath.

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