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