Saturday, January 31, 2009

Major Award for Ogden's Salomon Center

The "Jackass Center": Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce "Business of the Year"

By Disgusted

You'll just love this one.

In today's Standard-Examiner business section... the Ogden-Weber Chamber is giving the Salomon Center an award... The Business of the Year!

Jobless Rates 10% Above Reported Rates

John Williams, on the Unemployment Rate

John Williams, founder of Shadow Government Statistics, calculates that the jobless rate is a full 10 percent higher than the government is reporting. He also discusses the news Monday morning that American companies (including Sprint, Home Depot) are cutting about 43,000 jobs:


Two Opposing Views Re $18.5 B in Wall Street Bonuses

Duelling op-ed pieces, presented in classic "he said-she said" style

Just to get the ball rolling on a slow Emerald City news day, we'll link several interesting national news and editorial items we stumbled upon this morning whilst googling.

The media have been all abuzz for the past few days over President Obama's tongue-lashing of Wall Street firms who dished out $18.5 Billion in "performance bonuses" to top executives in 2008, even while their companies were going on the public dole. "Shameful" is what Obama called it:
President Barack Obama issued a withering critique Thursday of Wall Street corporate behavior, calling it "the height of irresponsibility" for Wall Street employees to be paid more than $18 billion in bonuses last year while their financial sector was crumbling.
"It is shameful," Obama said from the Oval Office. "And part of what we're going to need is for the folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint, and show some discipline, and show some sense of responsibility."
In the wake of Obama's statement, the webosphere is now of course awash with expressions of "me too" editorial outrage. We believe the most direct and concise of these was published this morning by the Los Angeles Times. Here's the lede, which pretty well sums up the anger and angst which is being expressed by home town dailies across the nation:
We are not the first to register our disgust at Wall Street's decision to hand out $18.4 billion in employee bonuses in 2008, a year in which the financial industry's irresponsible decisions and crippling corporate losses helped precipitate a devastating economic downturn. On Thursday, President Obama called the bonuses "shameful" and "the height of irresponsibility."
Nor are we alone in noting that this boneheaded, tone-deaf move came just after the nation's top investment banks and financial services companies asked for -- and received -- hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to protect them from the consequences of their own actions. The money was granted (with the support of this page) because we all were assured that these firms were too big and important to fail.
That's what's so galling about this. The bailout money was meant to keep the companies afloat -- not to line the pockets of employees who are already very well compensated.
Just as is usually the case where important issues are roundly discussed with passionate intensity however, there are strong counterpoint arguments too. For instance, here's a Greg Palast piece which we dug up this morning, which explains, in quite vivid terms, exactly why these highly-compensated top-tier executives are worth ever dime they can squeeze out of their beleaguered shareholders. (Just a word of warning to our more staid and socially-conservative readers, by the way... Palast's language is a trifle "salty", as the edited headline would suggest):
Why An A**hole Is Always In Charge
And there you have it folks: Duelling op-ed pieces, presented in classic "he said-she said" style.

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Utah Republicans Bring on the Orwellian "Big Brother" State

Go to a bar; find your personal data entered into a searchable database

Here's an interesting story from today's Salt Lake Tribune. While our most popular Utah Governor in modern times tries to bring The State of Utah into the 21st century, re our archaic and tourist unfriendly liquor laws.... our crafty but culturally dull GOP "Mormon" legislative majority still throws up Orwellian obstacles.

Even though the elderly but holy white guys in the Tall White Building on Temple Square have given the "thumbs up" to Governer Huntsman's initiative to "cut the cord" on the ridiculous "private club" structure in Utah, which renders virtually EVERY tourist speechless and wondering which 19th century podunk he or she inadvertantly wandered into, when they scheduled their Utah ski vacation... the UTAH GOP legislative nitwits are dragging their feet, and throwing a wrench into a logical change in the law, which ought to be ever-so-simple.

Here's the full skinny from the Salt lake Tribune:
Bar owners leery of ID-card scans meant to cut DUIs
Yeah! Technology is great. And it would also be great to allow former Utah private clubs to use "electronic scanning" to check out proffered ID's, and "bounce"those who would use high quality "fake ones," which can easily be obtained via the internet.

The only fly in the ointment of course is Senator John Valentine's plan to not only verify age, but to put the info from anyone who waltzes into a downtown bar for a beer to have their personal information entered into a "friggin" state database.

George Orwell is coming to get you, Utah lumpencitizens; courtesy of John Valentine and the Corporo-Fascist Utah GOP Party, which merely gives lip service to "limited government," while it otherwise acts to heavy-handidly "bring on" the "Big Brother" Orwellian state.

Surely at least a few of our gentle readers will feel compelled to comment on this topic.

Ogden City Joins Greiner's Hatch Act Fight

Hearing on Senator/Chief Greiner's alleged Hatch Act violation set for June, 2, 2009

Scott Schwebke adds the latest news update to Ogden City Chief of Police Jon Greiner's long-running Hatch Act predicament, with this morning's Standard-Examiner front page story, announcing that an administrative hearing has now been set in the matter, for June 2, 2009. With a potential $215 thousand in penalties hanging in the balance, Ogden City Attorney Gary Williams is "getting ready to rumble," too:
OGDEN — The city plans to vigorously defend itself during a hearing this summer to determine if Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner violated the federal Hatch Act in connection with his successful bid for the state Senate in 2006.
“We won’t be in the back seat; we’ll be in the front seat,” City Attorney Gary Williams said Thursday.
“It’s in the city’s interest to retain Jon Greiner as police chief. The police department has had tremendous success under his leadership, and we don’t want to lose him.”
The hearing is scheduled to be conducted by Administrative Law Judge Lana Parke on June 2 at an undetermined location in Salt Lake City, officials with the federal Merit Systems Protection Board said Thursday.
While Chief Greiner and the City administration continue to hang their hats on the defense that Greiner is insulated by city procedures from the "administration" of federal funds which would bring Greiner within operation of The Hatch Act, the Office of Special Counsel appears to be interpreting the jurisdictional language of The Act more broadly, pressing the argument that Greiner is in violation merely because he performed duties in connection with four federal grants.

It will be a relief to have a resolution to this problem, regardless of who winds up as the prevailing party. This matter, which first arose in October of 2006, has dragged on for far too long. Hopefully assigned administrative law judge Parke will issue a well-reasoned decision, founded upon sound legal analysis, adding clarity to rules which are presently "muddy" at best. Even assuming that this matter might later wind up in the appellate courts, it seems to us that this case is finally moving in the right direction.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Re: Boss Godfrey's Channel 17 Call-in Show

Time to ask a few hard questions of the little twerp

By What It Will Cost Us

The Mayor's call- in in show is on tonight from 5:30 to 6:30 live on channel 17.

Here's the link:

Channel 17 Real-time Broadcast

Don't tune in too early though, because most of the regular programming sucks.

Might be a good forum to watch him squirm live though, when the call-in program finally comes on...

Leshem Files Opposition to Bankruptcy Court Home Depot Motion

The Std-Ex is inexplicably "all over" every detail of the Cover-All, Inc. bankruptcy story

By Curmudgeon

Well whaddaya know? In this morning's Standard Examiner --- believed by some in these parts to be little more than a Godfrey Administration house propaganda organ -- there is yet another article detailing the on-going economic and legal problems of Mr. Leshem [prominent FOM and Godfrey Administration choice to develop the entire River Project]. By my count, this makes the third article on the subject of Mr. Lesham's financial and legal problems the Std-Ex has run in the last two weeks, plus an editorial regarding same, and the implications for Ogden's River Project.

I don't know, folks, but this seems like a very odd way for what's alleged to be a Godfrey Administration house organ to behave.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Word to the Wise for US Republicans

Fantastic politically explanatory op-ed piece in this morning's LA Times, from an olde-time Reagan advisor, US Congressman and Reagan confidant
Reagan wouldn't recognize this GOP
The Gipper may be the patron saint of Limbaugh and Coulter, but he'd be amazed at what's been done in his name
In the above article, one of "The Gipper's" best long-term old time pals speculates about how the current Moron"GOP Leadership," such as it is, got "totally off track."

Here are a couple of sample article paragraphs, for our gentle readers' "inspection," which pretty much puts it all in a nutshell:
The Republican Party that is in such disrepute today is not the party of Reagan. It is the party of Rush Limbaugh, of Ann Coulter, of Newt Gingrich, of George W. Bush, of Karl Rove. It is not a conservative party, it is a party built on the blind and narrow pursuit of power.
Not too long ago, conservatives were thought of as the locus of creative thought. Conservative think tanks (full disclosure: I was one of the three founding trustees of the Heritage Foundation) were thought of as cutting-edge, offering conservative solutions to national problems.
By the 2008 elections, the very idea of ideas had been rejected. One who listened to Barry Goldwater's speeches in the mid-'60s, or to Reagan's in the '80s, might have been struck by their philosophical tone, their proposed (even if hotly contested) reformulation of the proper relationship between state and citizen.
Last year's presidential campaign, on the other hand, saw the emergence of a Republican Party that was anti-intellectual, nativist, populist (in populism's worst sense) and prepared to send Joe the Plumber to Washington to manage the nation's public affairs.
As the US GOP staggers around in anguish, wondering how they got their ass kicked so badly in the 2008 American election... Perhaps they should read the full article linked above.

Just a helpful hint for US Republicans, from their old pal Rudi... one olde-tyme warhorse and Utah paleo-Republican non-neoCON who isn't quite ready to jump the GOP ship... just yet.

Be sure to read the above-linked article, fellow Utah GOP Schmucks and suckers.

And don't fail to offer your own ever-wise and savvy comments.

Failing US Economy Update

Be Prepared: The economic worst is yet to come

Inasmuch as it's a fairly slow local news day we'll wade in on another ongoing topic which is fairly near and dear to our capitalist hearts. We refer to the downwardly-spiraling US economy... which we hereby declare to be totally screwed. Great article today about the collapse of the US economy, and the ultimate repercussions about the upcoming pain we haven't experienced just yet.

Here's the main argument from one of our primary News tipster souces. Oops! That's a typo... we meant news tipster sources:
The last official act of any government is to loot the nation.
That is what is going on here.
The fact is that more money is owed than is actually in existence. That is the very nature of a debt-based monetary system. The Fed creates money out of thin air when you sign a loan agreement. It is a pyramid. The Federal Reserve works only as long as an ever-large pool of new borrowers is being created to allow the creation of new money with which to pay off the old debts. But because the US Government gave tax incentives to corporations to move high-paying jobs to other countries, Americans have stopped borrowing. Now the whole pyramid is collapsing from the imaginary debt.
The fact is that more money is owed by the banks in derivatives than is actually in existence. Like the interest in money created out of think air, this is imaginary debt. It exists only on paper and in the minds of people who believe in the reality of the system. In this way it is not unlike a casino, where even though the casino does not actually give you anything of value, you can wind up owing vast sums of money through long odds and a bad run of the dice.
So now the Wall Street Casino players have run out of luck, and they want the busboys and waitresses to pick up the tab for the losses. And when they get that new stake, they will run back to the tables for another spin, because that is what they did last year with the first bailout. go right back to buying derivatives.
And here we are, with the banks asking for more money from the people and this time they really REALLY will loan it back to us at interest. Honest!
Folks, they CAN'T fix the economy. All they can do is loot the people to make their own golden parachutes and that is what they are doing now, with a lot of nudging and winking amongst themselves (or didn't you wonder why Bernie Madoff was allowed to do what he did for so long and why only now with the public outcry has the SEC started to actually shut down numerous other pyramid schemes which have been bleeding money from our economy into the pockets of the sharpsters.
And the bottom line is that the US Government is going to keep handing free money to the bankers and sticking your descendants with the bill as long as you let them get away with it. I cannot make it any plainer than that.
What does it take for Americans to find the courage the Icelanders have?
Gird up your loins, O YE Mormon people... Utah "Gentiles," too.

We predict that haven't seen the "tip" of our worst national economic crisis ever yet in America.

Surely there will be SOMEBODY willing to comment on this.

Guess Who's Aready Back Working on Capitol Hill?

Former Utah House Rep. Walker hones his obvious raw natural talent

Check out this eye-opening story from the Deseret News this morning, regarding former House Representative Mark Walker, who plead guilty last week to criminal charges which amount to the misdemeanor equivalent of bribery. Well, this morning's story reports that Mr. Walker's already working back up on The Hill, and you'll never guess what he's doing. We incorporate Lisa Riley Roche and Bob Bernick Jr.'s explanatory lead paragraphs below:
One day a misdemeanant, the next day a lobbyist.
Former Utah House member and GOP state treasurer candidate Mark Walker, who recently made a plea in abeyance to a misdemeanor charge associated with his offering a fellow Republican a big pay raise to drop out of the state treasurer's race, has become a paid lobbyist.
Walker, who did not return telephone calls for comment, is newly registered as a lobbyist for another lobbying firm; SelectHealth, a health insurance company; Southwest Ambulance; and the Utah Subcontractors Council.
By becoming a lobbyist now Walker not only provides some income to his family, he also dodges a possible upcoming ban on former legislators becoming a lobbyist for a period of time.
Too Perfect. Definitely the ideal gig for Walker.

The kid previously demonstrated a raw natural talent for throwing the money around, and from here on out, it will all be perfectly legal.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This Morning's Std-Ex Article Fails to Consider All the Facts

A further examination of Mayor Godfrey's misplaced priorities

By George K.

Today’s Standard-Examiner article, “Council teeters over $2.2M in recreation funding is misleading and written from Godfrey’s point of view. Both Godfrey and Schwebke seem to forget that the Council has the final say on the FY2010 budget; and I have confidence in Wicks, Gochnour, Garcia and Jeske to use their usual good common sense when the vote is taken – they’ve always voted in favor of the Ogden taxpayers.

The Godfrey quote: “’This fits the council’s strategic plan as well as that of the administration,’ he said,” is also misleading because the administration and the council have not reached a consensus on joint goals for the City. As far as the Capital Improvement Plan goes, there are a number of projects that are listed for a five-year period so that they aren’t overlooked. Godfrey has placed his “toys” list ahead of many other important projects, which doesn’t necessarily mean that the funding is there for them – it really is only a “wish” list, according to an explanation of the CIP list that I was told.

Apparently, Schwebke ignored the voting results of the Council’s ranking the first time of the Capital Improvement Plan that did not include Jeske’s vote. Even that ranking placed the velodrome, the BMX track, skate park, and the equestrian trail behind general road projects, curb/gutter/sidewalk replacement, trail development, dedicated bicycyle lanes, etc. The projects that lost out to “Godfrey’s ‘toys’" were the urban riverway enhancements, trees, street marking enhancements (striping – a safety issue), tennis court resurfacing, traffic sign improvements (also another safety issue, which makes one wonder where the priorities are of the Father of the City -- Godfrey -- and his three stooges on the Council. Thank goodness for the four level-headed members of the Council.

In a smart aleck response to a taxpayer’s email, Godfrey asked him for his suggestion(s) to revitalize downtown Ogden (one of the Council members showed me the mayor’s email). My response to Godfrey is this:

Maybe others would have some confidence in your immature decisions and questionable support of questionable types: (Val Southwick and Gadi Leshem), if there was some evidence that you ever finished project such as The Junction and the River Project. Finishing those projects would revitalize downtown. Those projects are 8 to 10 years old and never were completed, even when the economy was booming. Why should we think that your latest list of "toys" will revitalize downtown Ogden during a recession/depression? How about making Gadi Leshem finish his project or break it up into doable-sized projects for other developers? You've started these projects; finish them, before you ask for other "revitalization projects."

Reader comments are invited, as always.

Ace Reporter Schwebke Drops Another Gadi Leshem Bombshell

Despite the news that Cover-All, Inc.'s largest revenue source is in the process of "flying the coop," Boss Godfrey's confidence in Leshem "remains solid"

There's more information on the Gadi "River Project Moneyman" Leshem available this morning from the Standard-Examiner, thanks to the relentless reportorial efforts of Scott Schwebke. Mr. Schwebke drops another front page bombshell this morning, with the news that Home Depot is in the process of severing its ties with Leshem's Cover-All, Inc. floor installation firm, due to complaints from customers and retail stores of "poor service."

This development certainly doesn't bode well for Mr. Leshem's Cover-All, Inc. Chapter 11 Plan, inasmuch as Home Depot is reportedly "Cover-All's largest source of revenue." Nor would this seem to be positive news for proponents of Leshem's Ogden River Project(s) which, according to former Community and Economic Department Director Dave Harmer, has depended upon Cover-All "profits" for past funding.

Up on the ninth floor of City Hall, however, Boss Godfrey is apparently taking the whole matter in stride. From a separate Scott Schwebke business page story, we learn that Godfrey's confidence in Leshem reportedly remains "solid."

We don't What Emperor Godfrey is smokin' up their in his ninth floor throne room, but we do wish he'd share some of it with us.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

Std-Ex: Council Teeters Over $2.2M Boss Godfrey "Toy List"

Council grownups square off against our developmentally disabled "kid" Mayor re proper Capital Improvement Project funding priorities

I consider those things ($2.2.M in proposed recreation projects) toys. We need to have a frank discussion about whether it’s wise to use public funds on things like that, particularly with the (current) economic situation.

City Council Chairwoman Amy Wicks
Council teeters over $2.2M in recreation funding
January 27, 2008

On the heels of last Friday's enlightening George K. article, Scott Schwebke digs in, and provides further information this morning on the council's efforts to prioritize items on the Ogden City Capital Improvements Project List. Predictably, a battle royal is plainly heating up between the grownups on the city council, and our ever-visionary Mayor Matthew "Boss" Godfrey, who seems oblivious to the ever-deepening U.S. recession and clings unyieldingly to his dream, come hell or high water, of converting Ogden City into one giant kiddie playland.

If you'd like to read up, you can do it here:
Council teeters over $2.2M in recreation funding
We'll dispense with our usual expansive editorial comments, and express our reaction to the Mayor's single-minded tenacity in one word: "Sheesh."

We'll leave it to our gentle readers to fill in the rest.

Std-Ex: Utah Legislative Ethics Reform 101

Legislative ethics reform for dummies: a simple five point plan

Just to kickstart this morning's dicussion, we're delighted to shine the spotlight on this morning's most excellent Standard-Examiner lead editorial, in which Doug Gibson deftly cuts through the legislative fog, and sets forth a five point plan which would deliver the robust brand of legislative ethics reform that Utah citizens have been demanding since... well.. forever. The Std-Ex observes that the process of ethics reform ought not be complicated at all, despite the efforts of some in the legislature to spin and obfuscate. Let's call it Std-Ex Ethics Reform 101:
We will state, once again, the obvious: In the matter of ethics reform, legislators must do what their grandparents, mom, dad, and other trusted adults taught them as children — exercise integrity.
This is not a complex, convoluted issue. It’s very simple:
• Take no gifts, period
• Put a limit on campaign contributions and strict guidelines on how the money can be spent
• No lobbying for a few years after a legislator leaves office
• If you have a conflict of interest on an issue, you don’t vote on it
• Create an independent commission to explore ethics complaints
One of the ironies of politics is that the simplest solution is too often ignored. That is one of the reasons our nation has trillions of dollars in debt.
We congratulate the Std-Ex for wrapping it up in such a neat and tidy package, in a form that even the most ethically-twisted state legislators will be able to understand. We sincerely hope that at least our northern Utah legislative delegation will write it down so they don't forget it. Better yet, perhaps they should actually demonstrate leadership and DO SOMETHING about it.

Comments, anyone?

Monday, January 26, 2009

OWATC Scores Big with a $1.5 Million Department of Labor Grant

We're just hoping OWATC officials aren't missing "the bigger" boat

Okay, we confess we've been basically goofing off all day. Nevertheless, we won't let the day slip completely by without at least mentioning another of today's Standard-Examiner headline articles. According to Std-Ex reporter Brooke Nelson, our locally situated Ogden-Weber Applied Technology Center scored big, with a recent grant from President Obama's U.S. Labor Department:
$1.5M supports IT, welding
Yeah. We think it's great that the OWATC picked up a few dollars for old-tech studies like IT services and welding. That's OK by us, as far as that old-tech stuff goes.

What we're concerned about is that the grant wasn't designed for new tech studies. For instance, everybody knows the real big money in the new local economy will be in local economic development. We at Weber County Forum all know where the BIG MONEY is.

Cleaning up Boss Godfrey's messes during upcoming years could definitely be the key to revival of our local economy, and possibly the foundation for long-term careers. We do hope the officials at OWATC and other educational institutions are paying close and careful attention to this.

Howbout an Associate's Degree in Flowrider repairs? Or maybe just a general Godfrey Administration Cleanup Certificate? The opportunities are boundless. We do so hope OWATC officials are carefully watching out for their students' prospective future careers.

Hey! What about a Gadi Leshem Cleanup Ph.D., from say... WSU! Unravelling this ill-conceived project will no doubt require a whole team of folks with advanced academic knowledge thousands of man-hours over the next decade or so.

Welding? Please. What good is welding, when everything in our Brave New BossGodfreyWorld is made of plastic?

The list of new tech possibilities is virtually endless...

Who will be the first to speak up on this?

Std-Ex: Community Within a Community in Trouble

35-year-old housing and social services group "goes back to basics"
If this folds, I will basically put 105 mental health clients on the streets of Ogden without housing.

Ross Peacock, assistant director of PAAG
Community within a community in trouble
January 26, 2009

Top-notch Sam Cooper story in this morning's Standard-Examiner, regarding Problems Anonymous Action Group, Inc. (PAAG), an innovative and nationally recognised Ogden-based "housing program" ("therapeutic community" might be a more apt description) which has been separately described as a "stepping stone for drug and alcohol rehabilitation and work release programs for over 35 years."

Fantastic article, as we said, illustrating the ill effects of the current recession, as it potentially devastates those on the lowest rungs of the Emerald City socio-economic ladder. There's also plenty of tantalizing Ogden history for Ogden City history buffs, too. And for those political ideologues who are proponents of "privatization solutions," we believe Mr. Cooper's most excellent article demonstrates how PAAG has served as a fairly notable model for that... at least until now.

Definitely worth a read, we think.

Naturally, we suppose there are some cretins on the ninth floor of city hall who are probably crossing their fingers and hoping that this non-FOM* downtown property owner and social services provider (PAAG) goes belly-up.

For our own part, we don't believe that outcome would be at all favorable for Ogden.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?


*FOM = Friend of Matt (Godfrey)

Update 1/26/09 3:40 p.m. MT: We just now talked to PAAG Head Honcho Rhett Potter. Although PAAG is still reluctantly "pulling in [their] edges," and getting down to basics, PAAG still has a few programs it would like to continue, such as its lunch and dinner programs.

Big-hearted WCF readers should not hesitate to call PAAG at (801) 621-2215 to find out what they can donate. Non-perishable foodstuffs and cash seem to be the first items on the agenda. PAAG is an IRS 501(c)(3) qualified as a tax exempt charitable organization, as we understand it btw, for those interested in the individual tax implications of your hopefully generous donations.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Funnies

The real reason there will be no outright ethics ban on legislative gifts

By Ozboy

I would like to point out an incredible editorial in today's Tribune by the new speaker of the house Dave Clark.

It is packed with lies about how the legislature is finally going to go after the putrid and ever present ethics problem in Utah's state government.

It is so full of crap that it ends up being very funny. If you read it be sure and catch the very, but unintended, funny piece of comic genius at the end, where the clueless and Nancy Workman Award winning speaker tells us that the reason there will be no outright bans on legislative gifts is because they do not want to offend the school children who want to give them such gifts! Hey, I'm not making this up, read it here:
Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Sunday Morning Emerald City News Roundup

An upcoming column series by Rep. Neil Hansen; and an editorial admonition for River Project "Plan B" thinking

By Curmudgeon

Two items of real interest in this morning's Standard-Examiner, both worth a look. First, the SE will be running a column by Rep. Neil Hansen [D-Ogden] during the current legislative session. Excellent decision on the part of the SE editors. Be nice not to have only a Republican legislator from Davis County telling us what the boys and girls in Salt Lake are up to this time round.

Hansen's first column appears today. In it, he reviews the standards he tries to apply when considering whether a particular piece of legislation is a good idea or not. His standards are good ones, but I'd suggest, given the Utah House's past performance, that Rep. Hansen add one more to his list: "Is this legislation likely to have unanticipated consequences?" The Developer's Dream Bill that created the Powder Mountain Town mess comes to mind as a bill that might not have been adopted had legislators thought about its likely unintended consequences first.

Second, the SE has yet another sound and sensible editorial up today. It points out that obvious, that "developer Gadi Leshem's California company's bankruptcy is a legitimate worry for Ogden's future, notwithstanding the developer's assurance that he plans to move ahead with his Junction City development projects." And then goes on to wonder if the Godfrey administration has "a solid "Plan B" prepared in case Leshem can't fulfill his obligations." Good question.

The editorial continues on to consider what key elements of that Plan B might involve, the most important of which [the SE says] is "an assurance that the properties remain under a single entity committed to the local projects." I'm not sure that's so, and I'll need to think about that some, but it's certainly something worth thinking about, and kudos to the SE for doing some Plan B thinking in advance. We must hope, along with the SE, that the Council and Administration are doing the same.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

More From Economic Guru Peter Schiff

Once again, Peter Schiff tells us exactly, "where we're at."

We're pleased to present another Peter Schiff opinion piece this afternoon, this time from the normally staid and ordinarily wimpy Wall Street Journal. Mr. Schiff, (whose views we've previously featured numerous times on WCF,) postulates (with WSJ editorial approval) that our major international creditors, China, Japan and Saudi Arabia (among others), are unlikely to continue financing our ongoing U.S. Treasury Securities shell-game, which shifts all the economic sacrifices of the world economy to these these creditors' own nations, while the U.S. continues to Par-tay. The US has developed some exceedingly bad habits, Schiff sez, such as financing the phony US consumer economy, which has been financed most recently through unsustainable and maxed out home equity loans and reckless credit card borrowing.

Midway through the article, Schiff cuts to the chase, identifying the root problem with the bogus Bush43 Service Sector-driven Economic Model, and efforts on the part of anybody in the current Obama administration to revive it:
The root problem is not that America may have difficulty borrowing enough from abroad to maintain our GDP, but that our economy was too large in the first place. America's GDP is composed of more than 70% consumer spending. For many years, much of that spending has been a function of voracious consumer borrowing through home equity extractions (averaging more than $850 billion annually in 2005 and 2006, according to the Federal Reserve) and rapid expansion of credit card and other consumer debt. Now that credit is scarce, it is inevitable that GDP will fall.
Neither the left nor the right of the American political spectrum has shown any willingness to tolerate such a contraction. Recently, for example, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman estimated that a 6.8% contraction in GDP will result in $2.1 trillion in "lost output," which the government should redeem through fiscal stimulation. In his view, the $775 billion announced in Mr. Obama's plan is two-thirds too small.
Although Mr. Krugman may not get all that he wishes, it is clear that Mr. Obama's opening bid will likely move north considerably before any legislation is passed. It is also clear from the political chatter that the policies most favored will be those that encourage rapid consumer spending, not lasting or sustainable economic change. So when the effects of this stimulus dissipate, the same unbalanced economy will remain -- only now with a far higher debt load.
Our view here at Weber County Forum is that we'll never recover as a nation from our current economic mess, unless and until we understand a few primary concepts:
1) Until housing prices descend to point where median housing prices match up with median US incomes, we'll never go "forward" with the housing market, and;
2) We need to "go for the gusto", until we're successful in bringing the factories and other engines of economic production back to our own shores.
Write it down so you don't forget it.

Tapping the equity of rapidly declining (formerly bubbled-up) real estate "values" obviously won't get us to the "promised land," as has been painfully proven within the last economically devastating year.

Neither will our current U.S. " posturing," wherein which we "pose" as a productive economy, even though we no longer actually produce anything that's economically notable.


We need MORE cranky, savvy and jagged reader comments right here right now!

SL Trib: Walker Guilty in Treasurer-race Case

Former Utah Legislator enters plea in abeyance; plea agreement also requires full disclosure re other possible co-perpetrators under oath

By Curmudgeon

Here's something interesting, that just went up on the SL Trib website:
Walker guilty in treasurer-race case
Mr. Walker --- a former Utah state legislator [Republican of course] entered what is known in the better coffee houses and watering holes of Ogden and Salt Lake City as a "Craig Plea" to a Class B misdemeaner for attempting to bribe someone to stay out of the race for state treasurer, which Mr. Walker also entered. A "Craig Plea" [named after the former Senator, Republican of course, from Idaho] is one in which the perp pleads guilty while simultaneously insisting he didn't do it. From the story:
Former state Rep. Mark Walker pleaded guilty Friday to a class B misdemeanor charge stemming from allegations that he offered a hefty raise to Richard Ellis, his rival in the June Republican primary for state treasurer. [...]
Despite the plea, Walker and his attorney dispute allegations that Walker offered Ellis a $55,000 pay increase -- in essence, a bribe -- if Ellis withdrew his candidacy. [...]
Walker's plea in abeyance, entered before Salt Lake City Justice Court Judge John Baxter, means the charge -- "inducement not to become a candidate" -- will disappear from court records in 12 months if Walker complies with the agreement's terms.
In addition to paying a $250 fee and completing 100 hours of community service, Walker agreed to provide, under oath, full disclosure regarding others linked to the events that transpired between the two candidates.
And the beat goes on....

Friday, January 23, 2009

Americans: Self-victimizing Ponzi Schemers

A highly introspective look at our corrupted politico-economic culture, courtesy of another gentle-but-savvy WCF Regular

By Bill C.

Looking at the condition of the current economy, we're entering the first serious phase of a true test of us as people, worldwide -- Where we place value on what truly matters.

It's quite obvious that our system and belief regarding our right to more than we need has reached it's apex. We disregard the fact that our resources are finite -- and that our short term material desires are in fact very destructive. Our political system may be corrupted beyond repair. Our religious institutions seem to be as materialistic as the people they're supposed to shepherd. We promote more, more, more rather than less, less, less. We've totally forgotten how to take only what we need and leave the rest for our future needs.

We've been conned into the belief that we can grow our way out of it, without considering the foul air we breathe or the cleanliness and availability of our water supply. Vast subdivisions of empty houses have replaced the land that used to produce our food supply, or in the case of Ogden, homes sit empty because people fled to those subdivisions.

We're the victims of our own Ponzi scheme; and what's really sad is that this recent bailout saves those with the most while leaving the rest of us to our own devices.

It reminds me of the body of a miner found in Death Valley years ago with his sack heavily filled with precious gold, and his canteen bone dry.

Another Golden Opportunity for Emerald City Lumpencitizens to Tell City Officials "What's Up"

A gentle plea to contact your Mayor and Council Representatives with your views re Capital Improvement Project List priorities

By George K.

Are you all ready to be screwed again? At last night’s work meeting, the Council almost approved the Mayor’s Capital Improvement Plan which includes the Velodrome. Thanks to the women on the Council, the list is going back for reconsideration; and the Ordinance which will direct the budget will not be on Tuesday’s agenda as earlier planned.

The Administration is proposing the elimination of the following projects, which were previously included in the CIP for possible funding in the fiscal year 2009 budget:
• Air conditioner for the Union Station lobby - $95,175,
• Centennial Railroad Underpass - $88,225,
• Centennial Trail Hill Main Track Underpass, (which will complete the trail system) - $121,200,
• The 31st Street Entryway -$384,000,
• General street construction - $230,950,
• General sidewalk repair - $80,450.
The above projects benefit directly the residents of Ogden, but would be eliminated if the Mayor succeeds in adding the following inappropriate projects to the list:
• BMX Track - $50,500,
• Ogden City Velodrome - $1,000,000,
• Mega Skate Park - $40,400;
• Downtown Equestrian Trail, - $60,000, (plus over $3 million for underpasses).
Councilman Stephenson tried to convince his fellow council members that these projects are economic investments and need to be funded NOW. Chair Wicks told the Council that she felt that the items on the list ranged in urgency from immediately necessary to "dream" items.

I suggest you all let the Council and Mayor know your feelings on the projects before the Council puts the matter back on the agenda for further deliberation. The citizens of Ogden are entitled to provide their own input regarding looming Capital Improvement projects; and the Mayor and Council should consider project priority rankings with that in mind. Some of these projects are timely and necessary, and some of them are definitely not.

They do listen to you.
Ogden Government Contact Information
Ed. Note: When you've finished contacting Boss Godfrey and your council representatives, don't forget to come back here to share your pithy comments.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Std-Ex: Repairs turn off Flowrider's Taps

The taxpayers' burden for the Junction Project will exceed $1 million just this year

Ace Reporter Schwebke reports this morning on a story regular Weber County Forum readers have been discussing since at least May of last year. Due to defects in workmanship and design, the sheetrock and steel enclosure surrounding the Salomon Center Flowrider water feature has been inexorably rotting away, finally necessitating closure and repair, the latter of which won't be completed until around the end of February.

The projected cost to the taxpayers -- $309 thousand. The original general contractor, R&O Construction, who is bearing at least a portion of the liability, will pick up another $80 thousand of the estimated total $389 thousand price tag too.

The source of the city's portion of funds -- you got it. It'll come out of Business Depot Ogden lease revenue, that reliable cash cow which Boss Godfrey taps any time one of his bone-headed projects runs into trouble. That's the same cash cow, by the way, that more prudent city officials had earlier earmarked for legitimate infrastructure upgrades, such as Ogden's dilapidated water system, of course.

And here it comes, gentle readers, the inevitable mendacious Godfrey administration spin, straight from Godfrey's #1 henchman, Ogden CAO John Patterson:
The city's cost shouldn't be considered an additional expense, he said, because the improvements are an upgrade and would have been built into the original construction price of the Salomon Center if it had been known the work was needed.
Yeah, that's the ticket: an upgrade -- not a royal screwup. We once again remind our readers: Our Blessed and Visionary Boss Godfrey NEVER screws up! That an indoor faux surfing appliance spewing thousands of gallons of water every minute might require waterproofing is plainly something no one could have anticipated.

Evidently the ever resourceful Mr. Schwebke wasn't quite buying Mr. Patterson's spin, so he went to City Council member Jesse Garcia for his comments. The level-headed Garcia wasn't buying the administration's B.S. either, and wasn't the least bit shy in speaking out:
Councilman Jesse Garcia said it's unfortunate that BDO lease revenues will have to be used to fund Flowrider improvements, but added there is no other alternative.
"If it comes out of city funds, of course it's an added expense. The improvements have to be done because, without it, (the Flowrider) won't function properly."
So there you have it folks. When this latest expense is added to the $750 thousand bond payment which comes due in June, the taxpayers' burden for the project which Godfrey promised would "never put us on the hook," will have inflated beyond a cool $1 million just this year alone. And the meter keeps on ticking.

Now where is that one remaining guy who keeps claiming Godfrey is a genius again?

Gadi Leshem Update: Gadi Claims He's Still in the River Project Game

The "moneyman" offers assurances... and purports to have "other investors" in tow

Mainly for the sake of archival consistency, we'll briefly highlight this morning's Scott Schwebke story, wherein Mr. Schwebke provides something of an Ogden River Project update. "Moneyman" Gadi Leshem has resurfaced, at least for the moment. He's furnished Mr. Schwebke a "prepared statement," wherein he reportedly offers the citizens of Ogden City his assurances that his presently embryonic River Project plans (such as they are) will be unaffected by his floor installation company Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

Although most of this morning's article amounts to a rehash of matter earlier reported by the Standard-Examiner and other print media, there is one new tidbit worthy of note:

For the first time, Mr. Leshem represents that he's working with an unnamed pool of "other investors," and that he therefore won't be required to rely upon revenue from his Cover-All, Inc. business to move his project(s) forward. Assuming Mr. Leshem can be taken at his word, this is probably a good thing, inasmuch as his statement contains other information that is less than encouraging:
Leshem also said the future of Cover-All is uncertain because of the economy and a sharp decline in consumer purchases of flooring.
Could it be, gentle readers, that Mr. Leshem contemplates converting his Chapter 11 Reorganization into a straight Chapter 7 Liquidation, thereby allowing Mr. Leshem to jettison his floundering floor company, and then apply his energy full-time as a real estate developer? There's plenty of big money to be made by Gadi and his purported investor "partners," provided they have the financial juice to weather the current recession and move their project(s) forward. Enough money, we suspect, for Gadi to satisfy his obligations to his most pesky and formidable creditors, the State of California and the IRS, and to put a little dough in his own pocket. The rest of his creditors he can probably throw overboard via a Cover-All, Inc. Chapter 7.

Stranger things have happened.

Remember you read it here first.

As for the rest of this morning's Schwebke story, we invite our readers to slice, dice and dissect it.

And remember, that to be a Godfrey-Class Schemer, ya gotta think BIG.

Who will be the first to comment?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tough Luck for the Billonaire's Son-in-Law, Chris Peterson

With a new Snowbasin "base village" planned for Morgan County, the Godfreyite screwup Chris Peterson gets shafted yet again

The Standard-Examiner announces today the prospect for a four-season resort at the foot of Mount Ogden:
Snowbasin oficials ‘base village’ vision in Morgan
Snowbasin officials continue to convey exceedingly bad news to Chris Peterson, and to what remain of the "Lift Ogden" lemmings.

Tough luck Chris. It appears that Snowbasin's "lower village" will ultimately be in Morgan County, and NOT Malan's Basin.

Here it is again today for those folks who missed it in the past, from Sinclair Oil vice president for government relations for The Sinclair Companies, Clint Ensign, for what seems like the unpteenth time:

"Snowbasin’s master plan does not include plans for a gondola into Ogden."

Write it down so you don't forget it, people.

We're also wondering how it was possible for possible for Chris Peterson to have so botched the marrying of the billionaire's daughter? How is it possible that Chris Peterson could have so wholly screwed up his relationship with the Holding family and Sinclair Oil so thoroughly and completely? What's evident, for whatever reason... neither Earl Holding... nor the Holding family-held Sinclair Oils, Inc., will throw Chris even so much as a bone.

Oh that's right: Chris Peterson is an FOM, a friend of the bumbling and serially mendacious Matthew Godfrey, which pretty much tells the whole story.

Shocking News from Emerald City: Ogden City Crime Takes a Precipitous Nosedive

" Shocking" new crime data, courtesy of Boss Godfrey and his pals at KSL TV

Thanks to a tip from an alert reader, we're pleased to provide this video clip from last night's KSL broadcast, featuring a highly animated Boss Godfrey, mugging for the camera and announcing that thanks to his efforts, Ogden crime took a sudden and "shocking" nosedive during the 2008 calender year:

Video Courtesy of

Here's an alternate link, which also includes the written story text.

Of course Godfrey has been downplaying Ogden crime since last year's municipal election, and Godfrey's crime stats evaluation hasn't historically held up well when subjected to independent analysis. In short, Boss Godfrey has been accused in the past of "fudging the facts." We link a couple of examples of that here and here.

Yesterday's video clip contains two tables, providing a "minimalist" glimpse into some of Boss Godfrey's most recent data:

In truth, considering Boss Godfrey's track record, let's just say we're dubious about the reliability of these new figures. Perhaps if we kickstart a new discussion, a few of our more research-oriented and statistically-inclined readers can help us out with this.

KSL TV online readers have already provided a jumpstart on this, by the way, in the comments section beneath the main KSL article.

Readers with a particular interest in the crime in Ogden topic, can view our previously-assembled (and quite robust) Godfrey the Crimefighter series.

Have at it, O Gentle Ones. The world blogosphere sits on the edge of its seat, eagerly awaiting enlightenment about the meaning of all this.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Std-Ex Editorial: President Obama

A Std-Ex expression of hope and optimism spanning the American political spectrum

The Standard-Examiner carries a fine editorial this morning, articulately expressing, we believe, the mood of the vast bulk of citizens across the entire American political spectrum, as Barack Obama is now sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America. Coming from Doug Gibson, a capable editorialist with genuine "conservative" political credentials, this editorial illustrates that the hope and optimism felt in America this morning is shared by so-called "liberals," "moderates" and "conservatives" alike. We incorporate below a couple of paragraphs which we thought to be particularly apt:
Americans greet President Barack Obama with optimism and hope. We share that optimism and hope. Since his historic Election Day win, Obama has demonstrated intellect, an open mind and maturity. He is no ideologue. We believe he will not tie himself to any close-minded orthodoxy. All rational views will be considered. President Obama is fair minded. He understands that the vast majority of liberals, conservatives and moderates desire what is best for America and that the best ideas don’t always come in right- or left-wing boxes.
As Americans, we have missed that pragmatic idealism. We hope these positive transition signals are legitimate, that President Obama will resist the partisanship that has damaged previous administrations and still contaminates Congress today.
Read this morning's full editorial here.

Along with the hope and optimism, Obama carries with him the added burden of high expectations, as he takes the oath of office this morning. In the latter connection, we join with the Standard-Examiner in wishing our new President the best of fortune.... and maybe a little non-ideological cooperation from the "other (GOP) side" of the Congressional political aisle. Our Newly-sworn President is definitely going to need it, as he begins to grapple with the politico-economic mess that Geedubya created over the past eight years.

As an added bonus, we provide this YouTube audio/video combo which, at least for us, captures our own mood, as our nation embarks upon what we hope will be new era in American politics.

Calvin Grondahl's morning cartoon doesn't do a half-bad job of expessing our curent sympathies either.

The floor is now open for your comments. We believe it would be interesting to hear the takes and tales of the readers in our own community, as former President Bush flies off to political exile in Crawford, and the now President of the United States -- Barack Obama -- picks up the reins of governance.


Update 1/20/09 7:30 p.m. MT: For those who missed President Obama's most elequent and inspirational inauguration speech, we handily provide the following video version, via, right here:
2009 Barack Obama Inauguration Address
Danged great speech, in our never humble opinion. Obama could have given the legendary Daniel Webster a serious run for his money as an orator, we think.

More comments, please.

Monday, January 19, 2009

SL-Trib: Profiles of Four Beehive State Civil Rights Trailblazers

1.19.09 Martin Luther King Holiday Special

Thanks to a tip from another gentle reader, we're pleased to spotlight an article appearing in this morning's Salt Lake Tribune, published in connection with today's Martin Luther King Holiday. The article provides brief profiles of four "trailblazers who helped pioneer the civil-rights path in the Beehive State," two of whom we can claim as Emerald City's own. Here's the lede:
Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream and Barack Obama, with his historic inauguration, is helping to fulfill it. But so, too, did African-Americans in Utah.
Today, we feature four of those barrier breakers, brave souls who blurred the color line and advanced civil rights in the Beehive State.
Get to know Utah's first black legislator, who protested by lying down on city streets and inside the Capitol; the state's first black judge, who rose from dishing out assists as a University of Utah basketball star to handing out justice as a 3rd District jurist; an NAACP icon, who became a tireless children's and education advocate; and, finally, the "Queen of 25th Street," an Ogden jazz-club owner who defied the era by allowing black customers.
Read the full article here:
Utahns pave way for civil rights, see long road ahead
While not the most intellectually or historically provocative MLK Day article we've stumbled upon on the web this morning, or any other MLK Day morning, we enjoyed reading the four brief vignettes and thus commend this article to our gentle readers. The article has a certain charm to it, we think... not too light, and not too heavy... neither frivolous nor ponderous. A short reprieve from our usual red meat diet, perhaps? And frankly we can never read enough about Ogden Legends Rev. Harris and Ms. Wheatley.

We invite our readers to chime in with their own impressions, anecdotes and comments, of course.

For lack of a better label, we'll subtitle this article our Martin Luthor King Day Special.

The Next Big Shock: a Heads-up

Fair warning for private investors and habitual municipal big spenders alike

We were delighted to receive an interesting email-attached item over the weekend from one of our alert readers, a subscriber to Dr. Martin D. Weiss's most excellent Money and Markets investment newsletter. Weiss is advising his subscribers to be wary of state and locally-issued (muni) bonds:

We took a look at the attached newsletter. Among other things, Weiss predicts classic supply-demand disequilibrium in the muni bond market:
a whopping $100 billion in new municipal deficits on top of the $350 billion in deficits at the state level," [ for a grand total] of "$450 billion in red ink flowing from state and local governments … in addition to the $2 trillion deficit at the federal level … compounding the latest woes of the nation’s megabanks … and all in the midst of a collapsing economy.
It will be a mass oversupply of government debt instruments, Weiss appropriately reiterates, in the face of severely contracting demand, i.e., a market wherein most heavyweight muni bond buyers are ditching muni bonds. Weiss further predicts "major municipal bond defaults on the near horizon." The risky muni bond market is a place Weiss definitely doesn't want his subscriber/investors to be.

And yeah, there will still be investor money available for imprudent big spending state and local government authorities alright, even in this bad economy. The problem is that it most certainly ain't gonna come cheap. The relatively small remaining pool of investors who sufficiently risk-averse to be interested in new state and local bond issues will definitely exact its pound of flesh.

You can read Dr. Weiss's 1/18/09 investor advisory here:
The NEXT Big Shock
A savvy heads-up for private investors, we believe.

Must reading too, for our borrow and spend, economic one-trick-pony city administration... and food for thought for the taxpayers who would be held to account for its actions, we think.

Something for everyone to think about, on an otherwise slow Emerald City news day, as a matter of fact.

Comments, anyone?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ace Reporter Schwebke Reveals More Facts About "Moneyman Leshem" and His Pending Bankruptcy

$44 thousand in delinquent taxes... and other problems

Scott Schwebke provides further information this morning regarding Ogden River Project "moneyman" Gadi Leshem's Cover-All, inc. bankruptcy troubles. Ace reporter Schwebke's been doing his homework and reports that Leshem is delinquent by approximately $44,000 in 2008 property taxes, factoring in the downtown 42 parcels held in his own name, together with another 11 parcels held in the names of surrogates.

Ironic, isn't it? Over the past several years Boss Godfrey and his loyal acolytes have been telling us that the whole purpose of consolidating all these downtown properties into the moneyman's portfolio was to improve the city's tax base. And now Gadi's taking a free ride... on the taxpayers' backs.

According to Gadi's spokeman, however, these tax delinquencies are merely inadvertant error and present no problem at all. "...[T]he property tax matter is an oversight, is not related to the Cover-All bankruptcy filing, and will be taken care of,” Alex Auerbach assures Mr. Schwebke. Seeing will be believing, of course.

We also wonder whether he or his spokeman tendered the same lame excuse ("Oops! we forgot") to his Cover-All employees, when he shafted them just prior to the Christmas/New Years' holidays with $100 thousand (or more) in rubber payroll checks.

Mr. Schwebke also reports that Mr. Leshem's lawyers successfully prevailed on an emergency motion Thursday by Cover-All's lawyers to use an unspecified portion of creditor Bank of the West's cash collateral so the company can continue to operate. We'll presume that the money that's been pried loose by the Bankruptcy Court judge is intended to take care of those disgruntled employees whom, last time we heard, were feeling mighty steamed about those "hot checks."

Although it will no doubt be months before the smoke clears on the Chapter 11 matter, we're betting that even now, Boss Godfrey wishes he never heard of Gadi Leshem. Rumor has it that Godfrey is preparing to soon unveil another Grand Development Scheme involving the Mount Ogden Golf Course. With the Leshem albatross hanging around his neck, it's a sure bet his next moneyman will draw much closer scrutiny than was previously devoted to Leshem.

Further comments, anyone? Schwebke provides plenty of material to discuss.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Huntsman Picks DeCaria For the 2d District Court Bench

Parley Baldwin's vacant slot to be filled by an Ogden Home-boy

Good news from this morning's Standard-Examiner. Governor Huntsman has appointed Weber County Attorney Mark DeCaria to fill Parley Baldwin's vacant seat on the 2d District Court bench in Ogden:
Weber County attorney named 2d District judge
We're strong advocates of the principle that the governor should fill judicial vacancies with jurists who reside in the same judicial districts and communities over which they preside. In the past, Governor Huntsman has unfortunately exhibited the tendency to appoint Salt Lake lawyers to fill vacant 2d District Court slots. This time however Huntsman definitely got it right.

Our congratulations to Ogden home-boy Mark DeCaria for his appointment to this important local judicial office.

So what say our gentle readers about all this?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Breaking News: The Politically Clumsy GOP Former House Rep. Mark Walker is Finally Charged With a Misdemeanor

Per the D-News: One misdemeanor charge filed against Mark Walker in treasurer's race probe

In order to avoid killing off the lively discussion in the lower article thread, we'll walk lightly on this, even though this another story we've covered fairly extensively earlier. The long and short of it is detailed in this afternoon's Deseret News article:
Charge filed in treasurer's race probe
Does this development signal hope for ethics reform in the 2009 Utah Legislature?

We'll suggest that perhaps this latest development is a "baby step" in the right direction.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

Std-Ex: Bankruptcy May Not Affect Gadi Leshem’s Ogden Project

But then again... it most likely will

The Standard-Examiner furnishes further information on the Leshem/Cover-All Inc. Bankruptcy story this morning, providing in the story's lead paragraph that classic Std-Ex Pollyanna spin:
OGDEN — City officials remain optimistic businessman Gadi Leshem will be able to undertake large-scale development downtown even though his California based carpet installation company has declared bankruptcy.
For starters, Mr. Schwebke dutifully provides Ogden Chief Executive Officer John Patterson's obligatory "optimistic" take on this matter:
The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing earlier this month by Cover-All Inc. may give Leshem breathing room from creditors so he can focus on Renaissance Village, a commercial and residential development that’s part of the proposed Ogden River Project, John Patterson, the city’s chief administrative officer, said Thursday.
“He (Leshem) has given us assurance that this would not impact the River Project or his commitment to Ogden,” Patterson said of the company’s bankruptcy filing. [...]
Ogden Riverfront Properties is a separate legal entity from Cover-All and likely won’t be affected by the bankruptcy, Patterson said.
The best that Boss Godfrey can muster up is "hopefulness," which is a few clicks shy of optimistic, at least on our WCF B.S.-O-Meter:
Mayor Matthew Godfrey said he’s hopeful Leshem will be able to follow through with his development plans.
The city will have a better idea of whether the Cover-All bankruptcy will affect those plans later this year when Leshem is required to pay for the demolition of boarded-up houses in the river project area, Godfrey said.
What ought to be clear from these above statements is that neither of these Ogden City officials has the slightest clue whether Mr. Leshem's bankruptcy filing will impair Mr. Leshem's River Project. They're as much in the dark as anyone else, it would appear.

But interestingly, the ever-resourceful Ace Reporter Schwebke finally gets down to business, and drags out some revealing commentary from former Ogden Community Community and Economic Development Department Director Dave Harmer, whose view falls quite a distance from optimistic (or so it seems to us):
Leshem’s largest obstacle will be convincing skittish lenders to invest money in his project amid an economic downturn, said Dave Harmer, who retired in October from his post as the city’s community and economic development director.
“The biggest thing is the lending situation,” Harmer said. “Before he can do anything he’s going to have to secure financing.” [...]
In the past, Leshem has relied on Cover-All profits to help fund its investments in Ogden, Harmer said.
Assuming that Mr. Harmer is right, and that Mr. Leshem's further pursuit of his Renaissance Village Project will depend upon Cover-All Inc. "profits," we believe we can see where this story is leading. It's difficult to imagine that the revenue from a company which has $1 million in assets, and is upside down with its creditors to the tune of $42 million, would allow Mr. Leshem to qualify for construction financing, in this, or any other credit market.

Adding insult to injury, this morning's article reels off a list of other obstacles which don't bode well for Mr. Leshem or his troubled company, even assuming he is able to work out a viable Chapter 11 Reorganization Plan.

We don't know about the rest of our Weber County Forum readers, but for our own part... suffice it to say that we're not exactly brimming with optimism for the prospects of Gadi's Renaissance Village Project.

We'll even go out on a limb on this and hereby predict the imminent listing for sale of Gadi's fifty properties, under supervision of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Trustee. If Gadi truly desires to save his company, the expeditious liquidation of these properties is by far the most logical approach.

Our compliments to Scott Schwebke, by the way, for digging out and providing for his readers a robust array of pertinent facts.

Reader comments are hereby invited.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Yet Another Economic Blow to Emerald City

Gadi Leshem's California company files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection

By: What Will It Costs Us

Well now another blow to the city... Ogden River Project developer Gadi Leshem is bankrupt. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Cover-All Inc., the California based carpet installation company owned by Gadi Leshem, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this month, claiming it has just $1 million in assets and $46 million in debts. When will the Standard print this story? The Trib is always ahead of Ogden.

And his property in Ogden is in default in taxes. Will it take years to move through the courts and a tax sale?

Maybe the city should be better at buying property for developers that don't have any money.

And what will be the ultimate repercussions for Gadi's stalled River Project?

So many questions... so few answers.

Update 1/15/09 3:oo p.m. MT: We're reminded that we posted a fine Scott Adams (Dilbert) cartoon, referencing Godfrey administration incompetence and hubris about three years ago. We believe it remains apropos.

Continuing comments are invited.

Another Downtown Project Bites the Dust

Oops! Would be developer Stuart Reid pulls the plug on Ashton Square

Astonishing story on this morning's Standard-Examiner business page, announcing that wannabe developer Stuart Reid, who had ambitiously planned construction of a lavish seven story condominium and commercial building at the southwest corner of The Junction, has quietly divested his interest in his one acre parcel, and transferred it back to the original grantor, LDS Church subsidiary Property Reserve, Inc. From this morning's Scott Schwebke story:
OGDEN — A developer has sold about an acre at The Junction complex downtown back to Salt Lake City-based Property Reserve Inc.
Stuart Reid, the city’s former community and economic development director, bought the land at the southeast corner of 22nd Street and Grant Avenue in April 2007 from Property Reserve, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Reid had planned to construct Ashton Square, a sprawling 224,000-squarefoot condominium and commercial building on the property.
However, last year he abandoned the project because of a downturn in the economy. [...].
Tom King, vice president of Property Reserve, declined Wednesday to disclose how much the company paid Reid for the land.
Property Reserve has no immediate plans to develop the parcel that’s near Ensign Plaza South, an office building the company owns at the southwest corner of 22nd Street and Washington Boulevard, and the Ogden LDS Temple.
On the heels of Larry Myler's cancellation of his Mega Hotel & Wading Pool Project, Reid's abdication of his downtown development role marks the second key Junction project to be taken off the economic development table within the last half-year.

This is decidedly bad news for the taxpayers of Ogden, who'd been hoping for early respite from our crushing $750 thousand annual Junction bond payment. The next payment comes due in June, as we understand it. This year's payment, if memory serves, will be the third consecutive bond payment to be picked up by the taxpayers.

Godfrey's Community and Economic Development Department "A" Team currently accounts for 33% of the expenditures in Ogden City's budget. We'd suggest that it's high time these overpaid empty suits get off their keisters and start pulling a few rabbits out of their hats.

Comments, anyone?

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