Thursday, December 03, 2009

Standard-Examiner Letter: Many Ethical Breaches in Ogden

It's time for Ogden's local paper to admit that ethics violations are occurring all the time, right here in Ogden

We'd like to put the spotlight on an excellent Dan Schroeder letter to the editor, which popped up on the Standard-Examiner Live! website yesterday afternoon. It's short, so we'll incorporate it in full... and throw in a few contextually-relevant links along the way:
I heartily applaud the Standard-Examiner for its endorsement of ethics reform in the Utah Legislature (editorial, November 29). It's past time for legislators to be subject to such basic measures as campaign contribution limits, a ban on corporate contributions, and disclosure of conflicts of interest.
Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for the Standard-Examiner to take a stand on ethics in Ogden City government.
The Ogden City Council passed an ordinance limiting campaign contributions last spring, but the Standard-Examiner never endorsed it.
Some council members also wanted to ban corporate contributions, but the administration opposed such a provision and the council backed down. Had the Standard-Examiner backed them up, the reform-minded council members might have prevailed.
The importance of these reforms is apparent when you look at the major contributors to Mayor Godfrey's last campaign. The list reads like a Who's-Who of companies doing business with the city: Gadi Leshem (prospective River Project developer), $10,000; R&O Construction, $10,000; Staker Parson, $10,000; Boyer Company, $9,000; Larry Myler (prospective hotel developer), $9,000; and on down the list which also includes names like Cutrubus, Fresenius, Goode, Wadman, Earnshaw, Total Fitness Center, Dowse, Fat Cats, Amcan, and Sonora Grill. The Standard-Examiner reported several of these names, but has never commented on the pattern.
The Standard-Examiner also reported, belatedly, on the efforts of two city council candidates to conceal the source of over $20,000 in campaign contributions. But the editorial board has yet to weigh in on whether it thinks that action was ethical.
The Standard-Examiner has been silent on numerous other ethical breaches. It has not yet reported on how the Godfrey administration allowed a political action committee to hold a fundraising event at the city-owned Salomon Center. And it has ignored a documented violation, by a current city council member, of the existing state law requiring disclosure of conflicts of interest.
It's time for Ogden's local paper to admit that ethics violations are occurring all the time, right here in Ogden.
Dan Schroeder
Ogden
We'll join Dan Schroeder in applauding the Standard-Examiner's current strong stance regarding ethics reform on the state level, and urging the Standard to apply the same zeal in the future to the examination and condemnation of flagrant problems frequently occurring right here in our own back yard.

19 comments:

Stephen M. Cook said...

One of the truisms of living life completely, with ones eyes wide open, is that people in power act the same way that people not in power act; in a democracy, ones leaders are like a mirror.

Sure, we live in a time of great cowardice and greed. And our leaders represent for us all.

Pistol Pete said...

As for the conflict of Interest question, in this area, there are NO conflict of interest worries. When confronted with that issue on Powder Mountain a few years ago, the leaders of our County and Legal Office chose to remain mute! Could it be because all of the people involved were of the same faith? Nahhhhhhhh

Curmudgeon said...

[Not off topic: stay with me for a moment....]

Libertarian blogger Randy Balko has posted a long article on his website The Agitator replying to a recent Washington Post column by Michael Gearson complaining that bloggers are driving newspapers out of business by stealing their stuff, and when newspapers go under, so will professional journalistic standards of objectivity applied to investigative reporting.

Here is Balko's reply:

Uh…bullshit?

In 20 years, the Gannett-owned Jackson Clarion-Ledger never got around to investigating Steven Hayne, despite the fact that all the problems associated with him and Mississippi’s autopsy system are and have been fairly common knowledge around the state for decades. It wasn’t until the Innocence Project, spurred by my reporting, called for Hayne’s medical license that the paper had no choice but to begin to cover a huge story that had been going on right under its nose for two decades.

Take note, Gerson: That’s when the paper starting stealing my scoops.


Couldn't help recalling as I read that both the stories Dan S. has dug up that the SE wouldn't do and that Dan published at WCF [some of which the SE subsequently reported. But only subsequently.] And the example of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger ignoring corruption under its nose until others began doing the investigating it should have done seemed awfully similar to the points Dan raised in his SE letter today.

[See? Told you this post wasn't off topic.]

The Viking said...

H. L. Mencken said " The duty of a newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable"

Flunked English said...

Who the devil is H. L. Mencken?

Curmudgeon said...

Flunked:

It has been said he was a curmudgeon. Details here.

Danny said...

Washington is sea of graft, as is the Utah Legislature.

There are some good people here and there, but they are mostly cowards, following their corrupt leaders.

But there are a few that tell the truth.

Watch the video.

Bunning on Bernanke

Note at the end, that the snake Bernanke is a smooth liar. Successful ones always are.

reality said...

I am absolutely sure that politicians are no worse than the lot of you.

disgusted said...

curm

why is it that you derailed this conversation thread.

S E

thank you for at least letting a resident expose in print something that you would not. hopefully you will let residents do it in a more timely manner next go round.

Dan

thank you for your persistence.

Curmudgeon said...

Disgusted:

Sorry, Dis. I didn't think I did. As is evident by following posts. I thought the Balko piece bore directly on Dan's point about the SE.

Elected official said...

Hey Dan,
Thanks for the letter and you nailed the head with the hammer. I believed that not only some of the elected official such as Ogden city but every one in elected office weather it is a dog catcher or a President of the U.S. should all be held accountable. I'm am tired of the press putting the Legislature down but have this double standard for all others. I would love for the press be it the standard or tv news to do a story on all the fraud in Ogden city.

What are they waiting for? Wait til the city can call all that fraud, well it is just politics?

stone thrower said...

We all need to investigate everyone alive for fraud, corruption, and lies. And then, we can all grant each other clemency for being all-too-human.

Curmudgeon said...

EO:

After reading your post, I went back and reread Dan's letter and it was as I thought: he took the SE, properly, to task for not reporting on, and for editorially ignoring, ethical lapses in Ogden City's government. [His point about the SE having ignored some Council members' unsuccessful attempt to tighten up the city's campaign contributions rules was particularly telling, I thought.]

But no where in his letter to the SE did he allege fraud, at least not specifically. Ethical problems, yes. Fraud? Not in this letter.

Whether fraud, or other criminal conduct might have been uncovered if a probing newspaper had, at the time, dug into the ethical questions Dan's letter pointed out is another matter. But so long as the SE remains as uninterested as it has been in campaign and governing ethics in Ogden [while writing strong editorials regarding the same in the state legislature], we're not likely ever to know for sure.

Curmudgeon said...

ST:

Nonsense. What ethical conduct requires of elected officials is, in most cases, clear. Of course there are occasional close ethical calls, but most of the time, elected officials should have no trouble telling right from wrong. What they seem to have trouble with, far too often, is doing what they know to be ethical, and not doing what they know to be unethical. Remember, ST, we have a mayor who said just a few years ago that if something is legal for him, as mayor, to do, it is ethical for him to do. I don't know of anyone else but the Mayor who thinks that everything that is legal is also ethical.

Trying to pass off shoddy ethics in elected officials as simple human frailty is setting far too low a standard for them to meet. Far too low.

Biker Babe said...

Curm,
Was that around the same time he said that he had more integrity than anyone in the room?

just askin'

BB

Flunked English said...

Hi Curm,

I didn't expect such a wise trout like you to rise to such devilish bait.

Cheers,

Flunked

BTW I do sincerely appreciate your participation on this forum!

Utah man am I said...

Ethics? Wonder where the Standard's are? After reading its Editorial regarding the Hall comments, and taking the position that even a Letter of Censure (or whatever the MWC issued Hall for his outrageous and disparaging remarks aimed at the U of U and everyone involved after the Holy War game) was "too much," I'm wondering what one has to do or say in order that the newspaper assumes a rightful position.

Now, I understand that this was an Editorial, one person's opinion, but a quick glance at a couple of things the U of U has produced (James Fletcher, former president and then head of NASA; Dr. Jarvik and the artifdicial heart; plus the athletic program that has shown itself to be among the nation's best-remember Alabama?) one could take issue with Hall's ugly remarks.

I guess the guy who wrote the Editorial is a big Hall fan, or BYU fan, a jock strap sniffer to the max, and if this is an example of his views and opinions, it doesn't shine very brightly on whatever else he might editorialize about.

Curmudgeon said...

Probably off topic, but since so much ethically questionable conduct by Ogden government of late seems to have involved public development projects of one sort or another, maybe not so much....

NY Times reports this morning a story under this headline: "Court Bars Land Takeover [by Eminent Domain]for Columbia Campus."

From the story:

A New York appeals court ruled Thursday that the state could not use eminent domain on behalf of Columbia University to obtain parts of a 17-acre site in Upper Manhattan, setting back plans for a satellite campus at a time of discord over government power to acquire property.

In a 3-to-2 decision, a panel of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Manhattan annulled the state’s 2008 decision to take property for the expansion project, saying that its condemnation procedure was unconstitutional.

The majority opinion was scathing in its appraisal of how the “scheme was hatched,” using terms like “sophistry” and “idiocy” in describing how the state went about declaring the neighborhood blighted, the main prerequisite for eminent domain.


State rationale relied on "sophistry" and "idiocy"? Wow. Full story can be found here.

RudiZink said...

Not at all off-topic, Curm. We could have easily included "sophistry" and "idiocy" in today's article subtitle.

This sophistic and idiotic Bruce Barton guy definitely needs to get "his mind right."

Encouraging NYT article in its own right for property rights advocates, I'll add.

Thanks for the link.

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