Saturday, February 28, 2009

Std-Ex; Bill Would ‘Fix’ Town Incorporation - Committee OKs Tool in Fight Against Powder Mountain

Contact your State Representatives; urge them to help correct the mess that the legislature clumsily created

We'll briefly shine the spotlight on the latest development on a subject which we haven't covered recently on Weber County Forum, the Powderville Town incorporation mess. This morning's Standard-Examiner reports that House District 8 Representative Gage Froerer has been working hard on a bill to add another tool to the the toolbox of beleaguered Ogden Valley citizens, in their ongoing battle to get themselves out from under the Powder Mountain developer's tyrannical thumb:

Bill would ‘fix’ town incorporation - Committee OKs tool in fight against Powder Mountain

Std-Ex reporter Jeff DeMoss provides an encouraging quote from one member of the House Political Subdivisions Committee, which moved Rep. Froerer's bill out of committee by a 6-2 vote, clearing the way for a vote on the House floor:
Rep. Janice Fisher, D-West Valley City, said the Legislature is obligated to correct its mistakes.
“I’ve watched this Powder Mountain thing for three years, and I thought it was a terrible miscarriage of justice from the beginning.”
Hopefully the majority of Rep. Fisher's House colleagues will share the same sentiment. The legislature caused the problem in the first place, through their own self-admitted negligence. They should consider themselves honor bound to bend their backs to provide whatever tools they can provide to allow the lumpencitizens to fix it.

We urge our readers to contact their own state representatives to let them know what their constituents think. Tell 'em to vote "aye" on Rep. Froerer's HB 201. Remind them that this is still supposed to be America, and NOT some weird and twisted politico-fascist version of North Korea.

More Bad News On the World Economic Meltdown

This will take a long time to get better

By Danny

Disturbing economic news this morning from The Prudent Bear investor's website:
A Week of Big Numbers
Scroll down about 2/3 of the way to where it says, "A Week of Big Numbers:" and read it all, To see the size of the problem is to see how ruined we really are. Here's a short excerpt:
February 24 – Bloomberg (Mark Pittman and Bob Ivry): “…the U.S. government has pledged more than $11.6 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers over the past 19 months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Changes from the previous table, published Feb. 9, include a $787 billion economic stimulus package. The Federal Reserve has new lending commitments totaling $1.8 trillion. It expanded the Term Asset-Backed Lending Facility, or TALF, by $800 billion to $1 trillion and announced a $1 trillion Public-Private Investment Fund to buy troubled assets from banks. The U.S. Treasury also added $200 billion to its support commitment for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac…”
The Administration’s new budget projects an astounding $1.75 TN fiscal 2009 federal deficit - or about 12% of GDP. Federal outlays are expected to surge 32% this year to $3.94 TN. In nominal terms, the deficit is set to quadruple the previous all-time record. In percentage terms one has to return back to the war economy of the 1940s to find anything comparable. [...]
What are the ramifications and consequences associated with U.S. deficits approaching 12% of GDP? [...]
I do fear that we now face Trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see. I don’t expect “Keynesian” policies to have much success in reinvigorating busted asset markets. I’ll be surprised if private-sector Credit creation bounces back anytime soon. I fear policymaking will do more harm than good when it comes to needed economic restructuring. And my worst fears of policymaking (fiscal and monetary, democrat and republican, national and local) bankrupting the country are being anything but allayed.
This will take a long time to get better.

And what about the rest of the world?
It's Worse Over There
Comments? Anyone?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Campaign Finance Reform Needed Right Here in Ogden

A Guest Commentary that the Standard-Examiner refused to print

By Dan Schroeder

I was pleasantly startled by the Standard-Examiner's recent editorial advocating campaign finance reform for Utah legislators ("Too much insider cash", February 17).

Of course I was pleased, because the editorial was absolutely right. We need to put limits on corporate contributions, and the public has a right to know where contributions are coming from.

But why was I startled? Because I naively assumed that the Standard-Examiner would have the same attitude toward the legislature that it has toward local elected officials. Let me explain.

Utah's campaign finance disclosure statute applies only to state-level races and school boards--not to county and municipal elections. Cities and counties can pass their own disclosure ordinances, but most of these ordinances are even weaker than the state-level requirements.

For example, Ogden City's ordinance shares all the weaknesses of the state statute, and adds several more:
• It requires no disclosures from incumbent office holders between election cycles;
• It contains an ambiguity that has been interpreted to exempt all political action committees (PACs) from filing disclosure statements;
• It doesn't require that disclosure statements be posted on a web site, so citizens must visit the City Recorder's office and pay 25 cents per page to obtain copies;
• Its enforcement is left up to the City Recorder and City Attorney, who serve at the pleasure of the mayor and thus have a conflict of interest when the incumbent mayor is a candidate.
These weaknesses could perhaps be forgiven if the amount of money involved were negligible. But Ogden's last mayoral campaign cost well over $200,000, while the contested city council races cost over $20,000 each. When office holders have to raise that kind of money, it's too easy for them to become beholden to the contributors.

And who are the contributors? For our incumbent mayor, the pattern is striking. His disclosure statements read like a who's-who of companies and individuals doing business with the city: Gadi Leshem, $10,000; R & O Construction, $10,000; Staker Parson, $10,000; Boyer Company, $9000; Larry Myler, $9000; and on down the list. The conflicts of interest are obvious, but they're completely legal under Ogden's ordinance.

Meanwhile, two of the 2007 city council candidates took advantage of Ogden's loophole for PACs. By receiving most of their contributions through PACs, they were able to hide the origin of these contributions until months after the election.

During the first half of 2007, an organization called Envision Ogden conducted various fundraising activities, including the "Sneak Peek" opening of the Salomon Center. A few citizens became curious and eventually learned that Envision Ogden intended to register as a political action committee with the IRS. Its first political contribution appeared on a candidate's disclosure statement on October 26, but the full picture wasn't clear until the following May, when it filed the required disclosure statement with the IRS (several months late). According to that statement, Envision Ogden spent $26,884 on the 2007 election, including some direct expenditures in support of the mayoral campaign and several large contributions to another entity that immediately forwarded the money to city council candidates.

Yet in all of its extensive coverage of Ogden's 2007 campaign, the Standard-Examiner showed almost no interest in following the money. It did run a perfunctory article after each set of disclosure statements was filed, informing readers of the total amounts raised and the names of a few of the donors. But it never looked at the big picture, or mentioned the large PAC contributions, or raised any ethics concerns. Citizens repeatedly tried to alert the Standard-Examiner to the suspicious activities of Envision Ogden, and were repeatedly told that the matter was not newsworthy.

So again, I'm pleased that the Standard-Examiner is taking a strong stand for ethics and disclosure in the Utah Legislature. I look forward to the day when the newspaper will show a similar interest in what's happening right here in Ogden.

Dan Schroeder has been commenting on Ogden politics for over 15 years, and frequently writes for the Weber County Forum blog site (under his real name). His contributions to Ogden political candidates are listed on their disclosure statements, available at the City Recorder's office.

Added note: This commentary was submitted to the Standard-Examiner on Friday, February 20. The following Monday, the author received the following response from Executive Editor Andy Howell:
Sorry Dan.

We run guest columns in response to editorials when the author was the subject, or connected to the subject, of the editorial. You are free to cut this down to 300 words or less and submit it as a letter to the editor, or attach it to the comments to the editorial online.


Reader comments are invited as always.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Std-Ex Editorial: Huntsman Going National

Will Utah's most popular modern era "maverick" governor manage to wrangle his way into contention for the top US government executive spot four years hence?

For those readers who were startled by Governor Jon Huntman's most recent public pronouncements on the subject of GOP congressional leadership's growing "inconsequentiality," this morning's Standard-Examiner has a spot-on editorial on the same general topic:
Huntsman going national
A prospective 2012 Huntsman-Gingrich presidential ticket is mentioned.

Will Utah's most popular modern era "maverick" GOP governor manage to wrangle his way into contention for the top US government executive spot four years hence?

Intriguing political times we live in.

Std-Ex Guest Commentary: Independence Needed for Real Ethics Reform

If the Legislature is really going to tackle ethics, it needs to form an independent committee

The Standard-Examiner editorial page carries a thoughtful and informative guest commentary this morning, by LaWanna Shurtliff, our recently-retired Legislative District 10 House Representative, on the subject of Utah legislative ethics reform. Speaking from the perspective of a Utah legislator who co-chaired the House Ethics Committee for the previous six legislative sessions, she unreels a series of anecdotes revealing why the current ethics discipline system is a failure.

According to Ms. Shurtliff, the current system, whereby ethics complaints are heard by an ethics committee composed of legislative peers, a labyrinth of social, psychological and political factors prevents ethics complaints from even being filed in the first place, let alone to be fairly heard and determined.

Toward the bottom of the article Ms. Shurtliff issues a strong call for a change in the way ethics issues are decided on the hill:
If the Legislature is really going to tackle ethics, it needs to form an independent committee.
This committee should be given the charge to restructure the rules so they are more definitive.
They should have investigative powers along with independent legal counsel. Until this happens, legislators will be protected.
Unfortunately, Ms. Shurtliff's commentary tails off there. It would have been helpful, we think, if Ms. Shurtliff had given us a heads up on any pending legislation which would address this issue. We believe Ms. Shurtliff is right; but it would be a heck of a lot easier to get aboard Ms. Shurtliff's Independent Ethics Committee Bandwagon, if she had provided a pointer to those pending ethics reform bills (if any) which we could support.

Of course in Ms. Shurtliff's defense, there are "as many as 29" ethics reform bills pending on the hill, so we believe she can be forgiven for being unable to readily zero in on particular bills with remedial independent ethics committee provisions. We spent about a half hour earlier this morning searching through the morass of pending Utah legislation ourselves, by the way; and we couldn't find anything addressing that topic either.

So for purposes of discussing this morning's LaWanna Shurtliff guest editorial, we'll propose a two-tiered approach:

1) Don't fail to chime in on Ms. Shurtliff's general proposition, i.e., her proposal to replace the current "peer-based" ethics committee with one composed of "independent" members and support staff. We think it's a danged good idea. How about you?

2) And If anyone can provide us a pointer to any currently pending bill which approaches this issue, we'd like to be the first to know. We're aware of several legislators who regularly read this blog. Hopefully one of them will be willing to lend a helping hand with this.

Take it away, O Gentle Ones.

Std-Ex Guest Commentary: Loophole For Late Tax Payments Should Be Restricted

A short essay on the inequities of the current Utah property tax collection system

On the heels of a series of web articles addressing the problem of delinquent Utah property taxes, Ogden Valley Forum blogmaster Larry Zini strikes public pay dirt this morning with an excellent Standard-Examiner guest commentary, which lays out the inequities of the current property tax collection system as it is presently practiced in Utah:
Loophole for late tax payments should be restricted
Larry has expended considerable effort during the past few months educating the public and various government officials about the fundamental injustice of the "loophole" which permits various land owners and developers to defer property tax payments for up to five years, while the rest of the lumpencitizens make their tax payments in a timely manner.

As a result of these efforts, Legislative District 8 House Representative Froerer has sponsored House Bill 418, which would increase penalties for property taxes which are paid in an untimely manner. This bill is making progress in the House of Representatives, having passed out of committee on Monday with a favorable 9-4 recommendation. The bill will probably be presented to the full House within the next day or so.

In this connection, we once again provide the Utah House of Representatives contact link, for those readers who'd like to take action and express their opinions to their own house representatives on this important proposed amendment.

As Larry carefully notes in his final two paragraphs by the way, this bill will not penalize property owners who are experiencing genuine financial hardship. This legislation is merely intended to provide additional incentives for wise guy property owners and developers who've up until now taken a nearly free ride on the backs of Utah property owners who pay their own taxes on time.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ogden Gets Left Out of Obama's Initial Trillion Dollar Stimulus

Where are Boss Godfrey's Ogden projects?

By Momba

I just saw Obama's Stimulus Watch Projects on the Utah page, listing projects the mayors of this state submitted in the 2008 U.S. Conference of Mayors report
Projects in Utah
Where are Godfrey's Ogden projects?

Governor Huntsman: Congressional Leadership is 'Inconsequential'

Thoughts from one Utah political figure who's not part of the usual Utah GOP Wingnut Clown Coalition

Thanks to a helpful tip from another of our sharp-eyed, attentive and gentle readers, we're delighted to link some material which appeared in yesterday's Washington Times. As the National Republican Party lurches into seeming political irrelevance, Utah's own Jon Huntsman strongly speaks out:

The Republican governor of Utah on Monday said his party is blighted by leaders in Congress whose lack of new ideas renders them so "inconsequential" that he doesn't even bother to talk to them.
"I don't even know the congressional leadership," Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. told editors and reporters at The Washington Times, shrugging off questions about top congressional Republicans, including House Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. "I have not met them. I don't listen or read whatever it is they say because it is inconsequential - completely." [...].
Mr. Huntsman, who was in Washington for a meeting of governors, said the failure of Republican leaders in Congress to move beyond "gratuitous partisanship" has left it to the party's governors and other state officials to come up with "big, bold solutions and ideas" that will win over voters and revive the party.
"Until we get to that point, we are going to be sort of out there gasping for air, and that's were we are right now," he said.
Check out the video of Governor Huntsman's bold Washington Times interview here:

Read yesterday's full Washington Times story below:
GOP governor: Congressional leadership 'inconsequential'
We don't know about the rest of our readers; but for own part we think it's great to read about at least one Utah political figure whose views are reality based, and who is not part of the usual Utah GOP Wingnut Clown Coalition.

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

Two Feet Forward and Two Miles Backwards

Senator seeks 10-foot-high wall, also broader definition of term ‘legally intoxicated’
O wad some power the giftie gie us To see oursel's as ithers see us!
Robert Burns
Scottish Poet
1759 – 1796

By Ray

The stalemate's over and Senate business as usual is back.

According to the Standard-Examiner this morning, former State Senate president Valentine has taken up current President Waddoups vendetta against alcohol. He has introduced a bill to put 10 foot walls around persons mixing alcohol and make it illegal for persons to show any sign of being drunk.

WOW-2 feet forwards and 2 miles backwards. Just when we had a chance of coming into the real world. Gotta love it. Only in Utah!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stranger Than Sci-fi: The Day the Utah Legislature Stood Still

A "significant wrench thrown into the middle of an otherwise very productive session"

We learn this morning from the Standard-Examiner and the Salt Lake Tribune about more blowback resulting from state Senator Bigmouth's most recent bad behavior. GOP legislators shut down all legislative business for "over two hours" yesterday, to conduct a behind-closed-doors Chris Buttars bitch session. From this morning's SLTrib story:

The fallout from the anti-gay comments of Sen. Chris Buttars continues as Senate Republicans met behind closed doors for more than two hours Monday to air their concerns and views about the remarks.
"Just about everyone in the caucus expressed his or her feelings relating to the issue and I think it was a venting process," said Sen. Peter Knudson.
Buttars has been under fire for a week, after he told a documentary filmmaker that gays pose the greatest internal threat to the country, lack morals, are demanding special rights and engage in disgusting sexual practices.
Senate leaders had hoped to put the issue behind them last week, after Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, stripped Buttars of his chairmanship and membership on two committees -- the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Judicial Confirmation Committee.
"We all very much consider this a significant wrench thrown into the middle of an otherwise very productive session," said Senate Majority Leader Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse. [Emphasis added].
Senator Buttars, a "gift" from the morons of West Jordan to the people of Utah... the gift that keeps on giving.

Outdoor Recreation Mecca Panel Discussion Today @ WSU

12:00 noon at WSU's Wildcat Theater

Here's a quick reminder for those readers who may have forgotten to put to today's WSU campus event on their calenders:

According to information earlier received from gentle reader ET, a panel discussion is scheduled for 12:00 noon at WSU's Wildcat Theater today, featuring local luminaries Matt Godfrey, Peter Metcalf, Mary Hall, Kari Dunn and Jeremy Town. Panelists will discuss various issues surrounding Ogden City's recent efforts to brand our city as an outdoor recreation mecca. Check out our earlier article for detailed information:
A Heads-up on an Important Upcoming Emerald City Event
Attendees are invited to lodge their comments and observations in the comments section below.

We'll also note in passing (and with some amusement) that today's campus event is being held concurrently with WSU's ongoing "Storytelling Festival". With Boss Godfrey scheduled as a featured guest panelist for today's "outdoor recreation mecca" discussion, we'll snarkily observe that we can't imagine a more delightful and perfect conjunction of events. When it comes to story telling, Godfrey is definitely one of the best.

Update 2/25/09 10:39 a.m. MT: For those readers who'd like to see a thumbnail summary of yesterday's WSU campus event, the Std-Ex has a text report up on its live website, and also a short video clip.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A little Something on Obama's $75 Billion Mortgage Loan Bailout

Insane America: Obama Wants You to Bailout the Asshats Who Live Next Door

The Standard-Examiner has another fascinating article today, wherein Ogden Journalistic Legend Charlie Trentelman dives into the issue of what local lenders will be able to do with their part of the $75 Billion that BIG Spender Obama plans to dump onto the US economy, to bail out the 8% or so of American homeowners who are having trouble with their mortgage loans. Real estate lenders, and holders "in due course" of promissory notes and real estate securities are also particularly interested in this new demonstration of federal Big Gummint Spendin' Largesse, as is evidenced by this comment from Bank of Utah's own Vice President Scott Parkinson, who eagerly mentions possible "incentives":
Parkinson said that, as he understands it, two types of homeowners can benefit from the program: people who are behind on their payments, and people whose homes have lost so much value that they are no longer worth what the mortgage has them paying.
The second kind may get an opportunity to refinance, he said, but with limits.
For people who are behind on payments, he said, the program depends on the cooperation of the mortgage holder.
“I think most of it is voluntary on the part of the mortgage holder to refinance, but they’re going to incent them to do it,” meaning mortgage holders will get incentives to take part in the program.
Like Mr. Parkinson, we're still waiting to see what kind of generous incentives will flow from the taxpayers to persuade lenders and holders in due course to modify existing real estate loans.

Just for yucks, BTW, we'll post here a most remarkable YouTube video, demonstrating how the traders on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange reacted to the announcement of Obama's plan a couple of days ago, to bail out individual homeowners who borrowed more than they could afford for neighborhood home loans during the recent real estate bubble phenomenon. Watch CNBC's Rick Santelli effortlessly rally the crowd on this issue on the trading floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange:

This reaction to Obama's mortgage borrower bailout scheme is interesting too, we believe:
Insane America: Obama Wants You to Bailout the Asshats Who Live Next Door
Comments, anyone?

Will Obama Nationalize the Nation's Major Banks?

A few articles on a radical economic idea that's rapidly gaining traction

Eye opening morning story story from The Australian (of all places), a Wall Street Journal affiliate. In the wake of last year's patently ineffective TARP bailout, and as economic policy makers contemplate blindly dumping more hundreds of billions of dollars into the nation's obviously insolvent banking institutions, the discussion is suddenly turning to what would have been considered "the unthinkable" just a few months ago -- the nationalization of America's largest banks. Here's the lead:
Despite tepid denials from the White House, there has been a steady drumbeat of signals over the past few days indicating the bank plan is under consideration, including comments from Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke, who acknowledged that government takeover was a possibility.
"Whatever actions need to be taken," Mr Bernanke told journalists when asked last week about nationalisation. "I think there's a very strong commitment on the part of the administration to try to keep banks private, or return them to private hands as quickly as possible."
While some top administration officials are said to be against any sort of nationalisation, Chris Dodd, head of the powerful banking committee of the US Senate, said on Friday he was "concerned we may end up having to do that, at least for a short time".
Unthinkable just months ago but becoming more likely as the US Government and Federal Reserve commit trillions of dollars to try to underwrite a financial system many say is bankrupt, a government takeover of the US banks would wipe out shareholder funds.
Bank shares started to plummet in the US on Friday (Saturday AEDT) and rebounded only after the White House was forced to reiterate its support for the private banking system.
Read the full article here:
Plan to nationalise American banks
The story also mentions Noriel Roubini,who's been an accurate economic forecaster in the past, and who has been strongly pressing the case for "temporary" bank "nationalization" during recent days.

We link the full text of the most recent article Wall Street Journal article on Dr. Roubini's viewpoint here:
'Nationalize' the Banks
And for those folks who still don't believe the idea of bank nationalization has gone mainstream, be sure to check out Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman's op-ed piece in this morning's New York Times:
Banking on the Brink
Now that big-shot economics heavyweights like Paul Krugman are weighing in on ideas like this, you have to believe the administration will be listening very closely. And here's an interesting side note. Krugman doesn't like the term "nationalization." He prefers to call it "pre-privatization."

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet." - Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2) No?

So what say our gentle readers about all this? If this idea is implemented, and private institutions like Bank of America and Citigroup are taken into government receivership, rather than to be allowed to remain on the public dole, will it signal the final end of the American capitalist economic system as we know it? Or does the plan of Roubini, Krugman, et. al represent a more sensible and economical way to forcefully squeeze out the malinvestment within in our US financial sector? (Of course there's always the option to just stand back, and let these banks fail. Given the ideological makeup of the present congress, will predict that's a very low probability alternative.)

Having asked these questions, by the way, we do recognise one major obstacle to the implementation of a federal government bank nationalization plan: the Obama administration is presently stacked with trusted allies and stooges of the big banks, who'll no doubt argue for protecting the interests of their fat cat banker pals in the private sector:
Trouble at Treasury - Geithner Gets the Keys to the Henhouse
Don't let the cat get your tongues, O Gentle Ones. Assuming that the government will engage in massive intervention (which we calculate to be an absolute certainty,) which is the more sensible plan... you know... from the point of view of the taxpayers?

So many few answers.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Big Mouth Buttars Redux

More media blowback against another Utah politician whose word turns out to be worthless

By Curmudgeon

Picking up where we left off yesterday on the Buttars matter, there is a sound editorial in the Standard-Examiner this morning. The editorial argues that while Buttars should be relegated to the back benches in the Senate and lose his leadership posts, it's up to the voters to remove him and no one else. [Of course, if Buttars had any sense of decency, he'd resign. But awaiting decency from Utah Republican legislators is often a long and wearying business.]

There is also a very interesting story in the Salt Lake Tribune this morning , reporting that Buttars lost his committee chairmanship not for what he said, but because he broke his promise to the Senate Republican leadership not to be a leading spokesman in the Senate on gay rights issues. From the story:

Senate leaders disciplined Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, not for anti-gay comments he made in a recent interview, but because he violated a deal with leadership that he not talk about gay issues, a senator said Saturday.
"Most of what Senator Buttars said, I agree with," Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, said in a weekly Red Meat Radio program he hosts on K-TALK. "We as a Senate caucus had an agreement that because Sen. Buttars had become such a lightning rod on this issue, he would not be the spokesman on this issue, and basically he violated that agreement...." [I]t was the breach of that directive that led to the reprimand, according to Stephenson.
"It happened, not because he said a lot of things wrong, but because he decided to be the spokesman again," Stephenson said.
In short, Buttars was removed because his word, given to his senate colleagues, turned out to be no good. In politics, once it becomes known that your word is no good, your effectiveness all but collapses, since those you have to work with know you cannot be trusted. [Same thing Mayor Godfrey is running into since he broke his agreement with the Council regarding projects the city lobbyist would work on being jointly approved by both. When Godfrey assigned the lobbyist to work on a bill, since passed, installing him as the un-removable head of Ogden's RDA, it became clear to all on the Council, or it should have, that the Mayor's word was no good, that agreements with him, unless reduced to ordinances, were worthless. His increasing difficulties with the Council since then spring in no small part, I think, from Council members finally coming to understand that the Mayor's word is not good, that a handshake agreement with him is worthless.]

Interesting story in the Trib. Worth a look.

Breaking: Boss Godfrey Spokesman Announces New Five-story Office Structure

A prospective Emerald City developer who's not flat broke

As the nation sinks deeper into recession, The Standard-Examiner reports this morning that the Ogden City administration, growing ever-desperate in its attempt to make it appear that at least something positive is happening in downtown Ogden, has leaked the information that the IRS is planning construction of a new 150,000 sq. ft. Ogden office facility, which will bring as many as 500 new jobs to the downtown area:
Ogden addition likely
We greet this information as exceptionally good news for our city. Unlike the long parade of fly-by-nite developer wannabes whom our "visionary" mayor has dragged into town over the past few years, this one doesn't appear to be flat broke... not yet, at least.

Step up and take a bow, Mayor Godfrey! Credit where credit's due.

We'll be keeping our fingers crossed that you won't somehow manage to screw this one up.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Utah Senator Chris Buttars: Bigmouth Again Gets Yanked From His Senate Judiciary Committee Seat

An Invitation to Senator Chris Buttars... "Please Zip It"

Eerily familiar AP story in this morning's Standard-Examiner, reporting on something that's now becoming an annual event sideshow in our ever-interesting Utah legislature:
Buttars loses committee position
Sen. Buttars' most recent problems arise as a result of some ill-considered remarks made during an earlier-taped KTVX Channel 4 interview, which is reportedly expected to be aired some time down the road. Although we couldn't find the full interview footage (after some considerable googling this morning,) here's the gist, via YouTube. The title is most appropriate, we'll add (with a slight snarky chuckle):
Utah Senator Chris Buttars: Bigmouth Strikes Again
Ironic isn't it? As Utah business leaders and elected government officials struggle to bring the image of Utah into the twenty-first century... and to and reach out to the world community to spend their tourist dollars here... this senate buffoon (Buttars) becomes becomes Utah's most notorious and prominent pitch man/cultural icon/Utah Crazy.

About that mouth of yours, Senator Buttars: Zip it please. We understand that you can't control what goes on in that warped mind of yours, but if you're the "grown man" you claim to be, at least you can control your mouth. When you reach the point where even certified GOP wingnuts like Mike Waddoups (R-Loony Bin) are clamping down on you hard, you have to know you've gone WAY over the edge.

Just a helpful tip from yer ole pal Rudi.

Well...? Is there anyone amongst our highly diverse readership who'd like to step up and defend this senate cretin? How about a few words from the anti-numbskull "torches and pitchforks" crowd?

The global blogosphere eagerly awaits our readers' ever-savvy comments on this subject.

If the above material doesn't work to stir up a few reader comments... we'll anticipatorily announce that we're taking the rest of the day off... so consider this to be a weekend kickoff open topic thread.

Contact Your State Senators - House Bill 122 Would Enhance the Government's Ability to Keep Secrets

The Standard-Examiner's Andy Howell strongly chimes in on pending GRAMA-gutting legislation

This morning's Standard-Examiner has another informative column on a topic we've been raving about here at Weber County Forum all month, i.e., Representative Aagard's HB 122. Check out Std-Ex Executive Editor Andy Howell's take on the subject:
House Bill 122 would allow government to keep secrets
Editor Andy makes note of a specific recent situation where the public would likely have been denied important information relative to a recent Kaysville shooting, if Aagard's new legislation had been in place:
Now the Legislature wants to thwart Don and Jesse’s efforts by gutting GRAMA with HB 122. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Douglas Aagard, R-Kaysville, basically will allow government to keep secret any document if officials believe there is pending litigation.
To use an argument that a lot of our lawmakers love, this is a slippery slope.
Jesse says if HB 122 had been in place when the Farmington police standoff with Brian Wood took place last year, the public might not know to this day that a police officer shot Wood.
Farmington police refused to make any public comment during the standoff. Neither neighbors, the media, the community nor the family had a good idea of what was going on.
“At the confusing and stressful conclusion to the standoff, an officer mistakenly relayed on his radio that the suspect had shot himself,” Jesse said.
“Without any input from police to correct the error, media took this small crumb of (mis)information they gleaned from their police scanners and unanimously reported it the next day.”
It was only because of GRAMA that Farmington police held a news conference the next day to tell the community that the suspect had not shot himself, but actually was shot by a deputy.
Farmington police had reason to anticipate litigation by the Wood family over the incident.
Moreover, Mr. Howell deftly raises another issue that we hadn't previously considered:
Here’s the crux. HB 122 will actually encourage more litigation because it will be the only means of getting such information. Jesse said the Wood case reveals why government agencies need to be required to release records “especially if there is the possibility of litigation.”
Troublingly, Aagard's potentially GRAMA-gutting legislation has already cleared the House of Representatives, and has already had its first reading in the Senate, where it will probably sail through without much opposition... unless the lumpencitizens act fast... and rattle a few senatorial cages.

Andy Howell is right. HB 122 is bad legislation. This bill's seeming inexorable progress must be stopped in its tracks.

Once again we post this handy Senate contact information link.

You know what to do... Do it NOW.

Friday, February 20, 2009

This Morning's Emerald City News Delivered Promptly This Very Afternoon!

Energy Solutions, Inc. - a bad corporate neighbor and an assault upon our healthy recreational state culture... This isn't the only toxicity problem, however

There are numerous interesting items from this morning's Standard-Examiner. We barely know where to start.

How's this?

There are three pieces in today's edition dealing with the Energy Solutions, Inc., the radioactive toxic waste dumping -- poison-mongering -- corporate monkey on our Utah back.

For starters, here's a great and savvy letter to the editor from today's Std-Ex edition, which very nicely frames our local issues regarding the storing of radioactive waste in Utah, we think:
• Energy Solutions can buy our legislators
And here's another Big-time Classic Editorial on the subject too, from the highly-skilled Std-Ex wordsmith (Doug Gibson) who now posits opinions on the radically improving Std-Ex editorial pages every single day, mostly to our great delight, as he today refers to lemebrain Davis County Republican House Majority Leader Representative Garn's Faustian Solution:
• Say no to waste profit sharing
As an added bonus, we gleefully link this news blurb from one of the Std-Ex's well hidden sidebars, wherein Governor Huntsman courageously states that he'll veto any bill designed to bring foreign (designer Italian) nuclear waste to Utah:
• Huntsman vows to veto nuclear waste
Not a bad day's work for our home town newspaper, from the news and opinion gathering perspective, we'll say.

And we'll hope in the future The Standard-Examiner will display the same degree of due diligence very soon with regard to our local city government.

There's a 135 pound specimen of steaming and reeking toxic waste sitting in a leather chair on the ninth floor of city hall most days of the week. It needs to be removed, and planted in a toxic waste dump site far away from our lovely city, we think. We do hope that our home town newspaper, the venerable Standard-Examiner, will embark upon touting this worthy project very soon.

And what say out gentle readers about all this?

Putin: A Post-US World Blueprint

The U.S.: A nation fated to be suddenly thrust into the Third World?

Here's a sobering opinion piece from Davos, Switzerland, where global political leaders and business people gathered last week for the annual World Economic Forum. Hat Trick Letter editor Jim Willie furnishes the lede:
The World Economic Forum took place in Davos Switzerland last week. The global picture enabled a nice snapshot of sentiment, fault for the crisis, blame doled out, the vacuum of leadership, the perks for blunderers in a country club setting (instead of prison), and warnings on a potential situation that could spiral out of control. Amidst all the finger pointing, surprisingly little blame was given to themselves, the corporate chieftains in attendance. Let’s be clear! The Davos Forum was a funeral wake, and Putin rode in on a white horse to announce there is a new sheriff in town!! Davos afforded a unique opportunity for Russian self-styled leader Vladimir Putin to storm the forum stage and to steal the show. Putin presented a basic Blueprint for what should be called ‘The Post-US World’ as the United States and United Kingdom have lost the mantle of leadership and control. They lost it from failed economic policy, wrecked banking systems, fraud-ridden bond markets, corrupted debt ratings agencies, abuse of IMF & World Bank, and the severe backfire of economies that depended upon housing bubbles. Inflation turned on its haughty financial engineers! Nations with insolvent banks, insolvent households, corporations in liquidation, economies in near collapse, they tend not to be good owners and custodians of the global reserve currency!!!
Read the rest of this not-so-cheerful article below:
Putin: Post-US World Blueprint
Among other things, Mr. Willie warns of this:
Not only will the US Dollar not provide the global highway for all to travel, but new barter systems will be dominant soon in working around the commodity price systems dominated by the US-UK corrupt price discovery systems. The other painful consequence to the new system soon taking root is that the global commodity supply routes will bypass the US destinations, enough to create mammoth shortages. Such is the fate of a nation thrust to the Third World. Its people and its leaders still do not realize it, as denial is ensconced in hope. The US credit supply has already been severed and cut almost completely off. Reliance upon the printing press to finance its own debts is a primary trait of a Third World nation, a shocking fact soon to be recognized.
WCF economics wonks are going to most certain want to give this story a good long read. It's definitely NOT the sort of stuff they'll find in their local American newspapers. Our world trading partners apparently grow restless, as the U.S. becomes an international financial pariah, and congress and the Obama administration prepare to rev up the fiat money printing press.

And if there's even an ounce of truth to what Mr. Willie is predicting (and we believe there is,) we wonder how much longer these silly folks will manage to keep those equally silly smiles on their faces:

Fascinating (and dangerous) times we're living in.

So what say our gentle readers about all this?

Notes on Ogden City Council Work Meeting Thursday February 19 2009

Streetcar Study: Public meetings scheduled for March 17 & 19

By George K.

I attended last night’s Council’s work session. For the first time at the Council’s invitation, Mayor Godfrey reported on activities in Ogden and fielded questions from council members. Council members Jesse Garcia and Blain Johnson were not in attendance although they had indicated that they would be late.

The Velodrome was discussed and the Mayor indicated that indoors soccer and football fields would be included to meet community needs and make it more profitable. A location has not been decided, but three city-owned properties were being considered. Councilwoman Jeske asked whether they were owned by the City or the RDA, but the Mayor did not know. Councilwoman Gochnour suggested that another name be used for the velodrome and the Mayor agreed. He indicated that steps were being taken to also make the golf course and airport more profitable. The city is in the process of bringing a national airlines to Ogden. Councilmember Wicks mentioned that she had met a man from California who had flown to Salt Lake City airport that morning for a day of skiing and was returning to California that evening and suggested that be a selling point in obtaining an airline. The Mayor said that outdoor sports companies were not considering relocating in the current economy, but the city is working toward having local mom and pop businesses locate on the east side of Washington and indicated the plans for a 90-space parking lot to serve those businesses was moving forward.

A report by Mr. Barry Banks, representing Wilbur Smith & Associates, on the progress of the alternative analysis and environmental study and indicated that they were progressing well. He indicated that Ms. Kristin Kenyon of the Federal Transit Administration had toured Ogden and was impressed, which bodes well as FTA approval is necessary to develop a project which can be constructed very soon. He indicated they had been working closely with WSU and IHC to develop service and connection preferences. In order to build community consensus, support and enthusiasm, public meetings are scheduled for March 17th at the Eccles Conference Center, 4 PM to 7PM , and March 19th at WSU Student Activities Center, 11AM to 1 PM. They are working towards a February 2010 completion date for the study. He offered options for running a street car and the required space along with modal alternatives. The information that he provided was most interesting. I encourage everyone to mark their calendars and plan to attend one of the public meetings as public approval and support are imperative to the success of the study for federal government approval. The routes and implications on neighborhoods, and transit oriented development will also be discussed. Your input is required.

Mr. Ron Kusina from WEBCORP reported on economic development. He indicated that Utah is better off and affected less than other states by the economic downturn and rise in unemployment. Utah is the envy of the other states. He believes that things will get worse before they get better. He said that efforts are in progress to help high school students obtain the necessary job training and skills to meet company demands. He looks to a change and upturn of economic conditions later in 2010.

The Administration reported briefly on grant applications and other council business was discussed.

It was a very informative work session and well worth attending.

OVF: The Fleecing of Utah Property Taxpayers

Another article for Utah property tax reform wonks

More activity on the Utah property tax reform front this morning form Ogden Valley Forum, where blogmeister Larry Zini has posted another article dealing with the issue of the state's treatment property tax delinquencies:
If this sounds like a call to arms, it is. With over $100 million in delinquent property taxes due State wide, and another $60 million in paid delinquent taxes not part of the accounting process every year, the average Utah taxpayer needs help. They are not getting it from most elected officials at any level in the State. Despite notification to the media in our area and Salt Lake, no major media outlet will touch this story. Seldom will any of us have a chance to influence such a clear cut issue. When you consider how long this process has been going on and what these issues have cost the Utah taxpayers, the urgency of action speaks for itself.
For those readers following this issue, we invite you to mosey on over to OVF to have a look:
The Fleecing of Utah Property Taxpayers
Comments are invited as always.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Heads-up on an Important Upcoming Emerald City Event

Outdoor Recreation and Environmental Stewardship: A panel discussion, open to the public and news media

TIME AND PLACE: Tuesday February 24, 12:00 noon, Wildcat Theatre (north west side of the Shepherd Union building), Weber State University Ogden campus. (Campus map available: WSU Map and the union building is number 36 SU on the large map).

PANELISTS: Matt Godfrey (mayor of Ogden), Peter Metcalf (president and CEO
of Black Diamond, a major outdoor equipment company in Salt Lake City), Mary
Hall (representing Weber Pathways), Kari Dunn (Regional Outlet Manager for Patagonia, a major outdoor clothing company) and Jeremy Town (representing Amer Sports of Ogden, parent company of Salomon and other name brands).

BACKGROUND: Ogden has been vigorously pursuing an economic development strategy to attract outdoor recreation companies by branding the city as an outdoor recreation mecca. This approach has met with some success, drawing Descente, Amer Sports, and others to the city. Mike Dowse, CEO of Amer Sports, cited three M’s-- mountains, the mayor, and money-- as factors in his decision to relocate to Ogden (article in The Economist, October 23rd 2008, available: The Mormon work ethic).

But what happens when a place becomes an outdoor mecca? What happens when more and more people are encouraged to go outside and play? Do they bring home a stronger conservation ethic, voting for more environmentally-progressive policies and behaving in more environmentally friendly ways, or do they take the ethic of the city into the outdoors, demanding ever-more and ever-easier trails, more and better parking, and turning the outdoors into an industrialized playground? Although outdoor recreation companies can be big money-makers, does their very success threaten the wilderness on which they depend? And what can companies, organizations, governments, and individuals do to minimize that threat?

Join us for a stimulating panel discussion of these and other issues, 12 noon in the Wildcat Theatre, Tuesday February 24.
Ed. Note: The above notice was transmitted to us this morning by Gentle Reader ET. To us, it looks like a can't miss event. It's an all-star panel with a red-meat topic. We couldn't have done better if we'd planned it ourself. Be there or be ...

House of Representatives Tightens GRAMA Restrictions

Here we go again with another citizen call to action

There's bad news for advocates of open government this morning, with this report in the Standard-Examiner, that Rep. Doug Aagard's House Bill 122, which will seriously tighten GRAMA request restrictions, has passed in the Utah House, and is now set to move on to the Senate. The article is short, so we'll incorporate it in full:
SALT LAKE CITY — The House has passed a measure that would make it harder to obtain certain documents through the Government Records and Management Access process.
Under current law, strategic government documents can be protected from public disclosure only if prepared for pending litigation.
House Bill 122, sponsored by Rep. Douglas Aagard, R-Kaysville, would also allow strategic documents to be protected if prepared in anticipation of litigation.
Also, court appeals to obtain information would have to demonstrate “clear and convincing evidence” that the public interest outweighs the interest favoring restriction of documents.
Aagard said that’s higher than the current standard.
The House passed the bill on a 43-27 vote Wednesday. It now goes to the Senate for further debate. [Emphasis added]
The Deseret News carries a brief heads-up on the topic this morning too.

So in addition to the objections to the bill's vague language, which we raised here on Weber County Forum last week, Rep. Aagard has now compounded the problem by incorporating new (amended) provisions, which would increase the burden of proof on appeal for GRAMA applicants initially denied production of documents and records on the basis of "anticipated of litigation." Whereas the current standard is "preponderance of evidence," this new bill would substitute the more burdensome standard of "clear and convincing evidence."

For those readers who'd like to bone up a little bit more on the subject, we provide a couple of helpful audio and video (RealPlayer) links below:
House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee - Video - 2/9/09
House Floor Debate - Audio - 2/18/09
For those readers who are willing to listen in, it will become immediately clear that none of the bill's proponents have even the slightest clue about what they're doing with this bill. In his ham-handed attempt to carve out special (and possibly reasonable) exceptions for law enforcement related records and documents, Representative Aagard has drafted sloppy and over-broad legislation which will, as a practical matter, make the obtaining of public documents and records even more expensive and difficult at best, and impossible at worst.

And for those readers willing to simply take our word that this bill needs to have a stake driven through its heart, Don't forget to contact your state senators RIGHT NOW.

Believe us. They love to hear from their concerned constituents.

Thoughtful reader comments are invited, as always.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Mogambo Guru: The Government-Based Economy

More words of wisdom from our ever-sensible and down-to-earth economics wizard pal, The Mogambo Guru
A one-year federal income tax holiday - Why NOT?
There is an interesting lesson in there for people who are stupid enough to allow a government to control the creation of money and credit which they will predictably over-issue, causing ruinous inflation in prices, and that lesson is “buy gold or die!” But for Junior Mogambo Rangers (JMRs) who have their official decoder rings, it is much, much more, as they have no doubt already deciphered the paragraph to reveal the coded message, “Buy gold, silver and oil right now ahead of the roaring inflation in prices that will come as a result of the inflations in the money supplies, and you will rule like kings over those who do not act as prudently as you, which will be most everybody you know because they are all idiots, and upon whom you will be able to inflict pain or pleasure at your sole discretion, but mostly pain, to punish them for being so stupid that they elected the morons who did this to us! Hahahaha!”

The Mogambo Guru
The Government-Based Economy
February 18, 2009

More words of wisdom from our ever-sensible friend and down-to-earth economics wizard pal, The Mogambo Guru. Here's the lede:
I ran across the essay “The Greatest Economic Stimulus Plan Ever! Part II” by Wayne Allen Root, which certainly gets your attention! He starts out saying that he’s looked, and “Obama’s solution for the current economic tsunami is more government spending in the form of bailouts, a massive trillion-dollar economic stimulus package, and ‘tax cuts’ offered to people who never paid taxes in the first place” which seems both starkly correct and a chance for me to use it as a springboard for a Mogambo Loud Damning Indictment (MLDI) of the Congress and Federal Reserve so that, hopefully, your first thought is, “Our outrage is so great that we should spontaneously arise into an unstoppable, unruly mob, go up there, drag those incompetent lowlife morons out into the street and beat the hell out of them all." [link added]
Read another clear-minded and timely full Mogambo writeup here:
The Government-Based Economy
Reader comments are invited, as always.

Something to Think About As Our Crony Capitalism System Rots From The Inside

Food for thought, as the current agent for the US economic status quo (Obama) blindly throws boatloads of money into a failed economic/financial "system"

By Gentle Reader Danny

People have occasionally commented on how smart they think I am. Perhaps I am in reality, just very bored and very well read. (Or perhaps something else, but never mind.)

To be more knowledgeable about what is happening in the economy, one can follow this simple three step process:

1. Use the newspaper only for kindling.
2. Never watch TV news or listen to radio news, unless by accident.
3. Read the following:

This article talks about where we are now:
The Oligarchs
This article talks about what we need to do:
The Liquidationist Alternative
Now, here is what WILL happen. Servants to The Elite Obama, like the flunky Bush before him, will try to prop up the rotting corpse of our Crony Capitalist System as the economy continues to rot. And rot it will, for years and years to come.

It's a good thing I don't mind slow paced living. These are "the good old days."

Update 2/28/08 1:14 pm.: Full Disclosure - Your blogmeister confesses he added that last link, which wasn't part of Danny's originally submitted text. So sue us, Obama Lemmings.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Weber County Forum Housekeeping Note

Heads up on a great recent comments widget

For those readers who haven't noticed yet, please take note that we've added a "recent comments widget" within our right sidebar. It captures our last five reader comments feeds, and then displays them in the right sidebar.

Although it will be fairly useless during our usual times, when we sometimes accumulate 200 comments within a short period of time, it will be most certainly helpful for those times when our readers' wonderful comments sometimes taper off. The beauty of it is that it will highlight comments from articles which are downthread, and are mostly forgotten by readers who only check out the first three of four front page articles. For those readers who regularly check in and try to keep up, it'll be an ideal feature to monitor ongoing discussions in some of or more neglected backpages.

Check it out. gentle WCF readers. This is an addition to our WCF website that your blogmeister has been contemplating for months.

Give us your feedback on this new WCF feature, O Gentle readers.

Regular readers will also note we've consolidated some of our less traveled sidebar links, such as out Community Calendar, Government Toolkit, etc. into one module, Community Toolkit, near the top of the right sidebar.

Thank you very much.

Std-Ex Editorial: Too Much Insider Cash

Time for our state to get ethically in line with most of the rest of the nation

By George K.

The Standard-Examiner has an excellent and very appropriate editorial article in the paper this morning. If Doug Gibson is the author, I commend him for calling a spade a spade. I agree with him 100 percent that big business and very influential people influence the legislators too much. Recent examples of this influence are the Questar bill that was rescinded at the next legislative session due to public pressure which is the biggest boo-boo the legislature has made. The next one happened the last few hours of last year’s legislative session when Ogden’s neurotic Mayor Godfrey and his greedy little patsy, Mark Johnson, with the help of the city’s lobbyist, pushed through legislation attached to a non-controversial RDA bill that was sure to pass which changed RDA boards throughout the State.

The Ogden City Council took the right action when they refused to hire that lobbyist, who was supposed to be working for both the Council and the Administration, for the current year.

It is no wonder that Utah residents have no confidence in the Republican dominated legislature’s ethics. We hope that the present legislators follow the SE’s common sense suggestions for ethical reform. Utah has become the laughing stock of the nation with the goofy bills that our unbridled legislature has passed in the past. We also hope and “push for measures that drive legislators to reach out (sincerely) to voters during the legislative session, rather than banks, credit unions, Energy Solutions, Questar, the payday loan industry, influential individuals, etc.”

It is encouraging that Governor Huntsman has planned for a commission that will deal with ethics and other reform measures if the legislature fails to place such measures on itself. It would be a great step forward to restore faith in the legislature. Because as a voter I do not swallow the claim that the legislators, as a whole, are above being influenced by the donations and gifts of big businesses. They may be able to fool themselves, but for me, “actions speak louder than words.”

Monday, February 16, 2009

SL Trib: Conflicts of Interests Are Found in Many Bills

Two common sense proposed resolutions to allow legislators to avoid conflicts of interest

To kick off the discussion as we begin the new week, we'll highlight an enlightening article from yesterday's Deseret News, dealing with a topic that's near and dear to our hearts here at Weber County Forum, ethics reform in general, and conflicts of interest, specifically. Here's the gist of the problem, culled from Bob Bernick, Jr.'s lead paragraphs:
More than half of Utah's 104 part-time legislators have introduced bills with likely conflicts of interests, a study by the Deseret News shows.
The newspaper found that 61 percent of House members and 55 percent of senators are sponsoring bills that could affect their private or business lives in some ways. [...]
A conflict of interest is generally defined as a conflict between a person's private interests (financial or otherwise) and his or her public position.
But the Legislature's conflict-of-interest rules are so vague (and, at the same time, so narrow on financial matters) that legislators themselves, much less the public, often don't know exactly when they need to declare a conflict, or what to do about it when they do. [Emphasis added]
Although the main theme of the article deals with efforts to tighten up definitions, and to provide more clear guidance for legislators who may have conflicts of interest, there's a sub-theme to this session's conflict of interest story which particularly caught our eye:
While Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and a number of legislators are talking about ethics reform in this Legislature, conflict of interest appears to be a weak sister that's not getting much attention.
So far, there are only a few bills dealing with conflicts. The main push comes in two resolutions sponsored by Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo. [S.R. 5 and S.J.R. 13]
Both Bramble bills deal with allowing legislators to declare a conflict of interest and abstain from voting on the bill or appropriation in which the lawmaker may have a conflict.
Currently, legislators have to vote if they are present on the floor. They can even be rounded up by state troopers and brought into the chambers and forced to vote — even if they have a conflict on a matter and don't want to vote. [Emphasis and links added]
There are numerous ethics reform bills rattling around the legislature this year; so many, in fact, that it's hard to keep track. At this stage of the game it's impossible to predict what new ethics guidelines will ultimately be enacted this session.

Nevertheless, the wisdom of passing Senator Bramble's two proposed resolutions seem a "no brainer" to us. Regardless of the form of new ethics reforms which may emerge this year, any new legislation will inevitably expose legislators to charges of voting on matters in which they have conflicts, unless the current mandatory voting rules are changed. Under present rules, even ethically conscientious legislators have no way to voluntarily disentangle themselves from their own conflicts of interest.

We therefore urge our readers to contact their legislative representatives in The Senate and The House to urge passage of Sen. Bramble's proposed common sense rule amendments, permitting legislators to declare and abstain from voting on any bill or appropriation in which lawmakers believe they have a conflict of interest.

Comments are invited as always.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ogden Valley Forum: Support HB 418 - Everyone Should Pay Their Property Taxes on Time!

Another informative article and citizen call to action from our friends at Ogden Valley Forum

We'd like to draw our readers' attention this afternoon to yet another informative article presented by our fire-breathing friends at Ogden Valley Forum, leading into the weekend. Here's the lede:
Gage Froerer is writing a bill, HB418 to help reduce the amount of property taxes that are NOT paid on time. This bill will increase the penalty and Interest for delinquent taxes only, and could add millions into Weber County’s and other Utah County’s cash flow every year. For the tax year of 2008 in Weber County, the amount is over $9 million in delinquent taxes due last November.
The abuse of the tax loophole is a statewide problem as well, to the tune of over $100 million dollars, so any property tax payer that pay their taxes on Nov. 30th each year should get involved in supporting this bill. The higher penalty and interest will discourage those large landowners and business people who exploit this tax loophole every year. They will be forced to reevaluate the penalty and interest costs and most will pay their property taxes on time.
Check out Larry Zini's full article here:
Support HB 418 - Everyone should pay their property taxes on time!
Once again Larry is issuing a citizen call to action. If you're inclined to get involved in this issue, now's the time to contact your legislators.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

More Corruption Within the Utah Legislature

A not-so-subtle warning from one of Weber County Forum's best and most lucid semi-regular "Yellow Dog Demo" guest contributors

By Curmudeon

Interesting piece in the Salt Lake Tribune on Friday, illustrating just how high up in the Utah Republican legislative leadership the dry rot of corruption has gone.

Here's the lede:
Majority Leader Kevin Garn, R-Layton, whose son is a lobbyist for Southwest Ambulance, one of the companies engaged in the battle, says now that he may have made a mistake.
Uh huh. "May have made a mistake ?" Curious about what that means in the real world where the rest of us live? The Trib explains:
Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, a member of the committee who voted for the bill, said he was told before the hearing by Garn that House leadership wanted the committee to pass the bill....
But House Speaker Dave Clark, R-Santa Clara, said he hasn't even read the bill and leadership has not taken a position on it. House Majority Whip Brad Dee, R-Washington Terrace, was more direct when asked if leadership had a stance on the bill: "The answer is: No."
So, the Republican leadership had not endorsed the bill nor asked that it be passed out of the committee. The Republican majority leader, having been caught telling his Republican colleague a lie in order to get out of committee a bill the Republican majority leader's son was lobbying to pass, Mr. Garn offered the following positively Bushesque drivel by way of explanation:
Garn said he "may have said" that leadership wanted the bill passed. "If I did, I wasn't representing leadership and probably what I meant to say or did say was that somebody from leadership thought it should get out."
Uh huh. Republican leaders are now deceiving their own members in pursuit of family interests. Imagine that.

And will the Republican Caucus punish the majority leader for deceiving his own members to get a bill out of committee to assist his son, the lobbyist? Don't hold your breath waiting.

Aren't you happy to know that Mr. Garn, as majority leader, will be shepherding through the GOP's much touted "ethics reform" bills this session? Sleep well, taxpayers.

Congress Passes Obama's "Stimulus Bill," and Prepares to Dump Another $1 Trillion (More or Less) Into the National Money Hole

Added bonus: Sage words of warning about socialism... from somebody who knows a little something about the subject

Well, it's signed, sealed and delivered. Our Democratic Party president has now rammed his "very important" $787 billion economic stimulus bill through both houses of congress; and it awaits the president's signature as we're typing this. This "historic" bill was likewise so important to congressional Democrats too, that nobody in the legislature was given a chance to take even a day or two to read it. And this is just the "beginning," Obama says:
President Barack Obama, savoring his first major victory in Congress, said Saturday that newly passed $787 billion economic stimulus legislation marks a "major milestone on our road to recovery."
Speaking in his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said, "I will sign this legislation into law shortly, and we'll begin making the immediate investments necessary to put people back to work doing the work America needs done."
At the same time, he cautioned, "This historic step won't be the end of what we do to turn our economy around, but rather the beginning.
We don't know about the rest of our readers, but we do have a painful recollection of the last notable congressional bill that was rammed through congress and signed into law "sight unseen." From our point of view as lovers of the U.S. Constitution, we don't believe that one worked out so well at all.

And while we'd "prefer to think" that our congressional Democrats have at least some slight clue what they're doing, we confess we're not at all convinced of that. Troublingly, it appears to us it's the same lame approach that's repeatedly failed in the past.

But what do we know? We're just the lumpentaxpayers, the ones whose only role in this game will be to pick up the tab for this latest crass display of Big Government Largesse.

And while we're on the subject of randomly dumping a possible $3.7 trillion into the giant money hole, and as we launch headlong into the biggest experiment in American Socialism ever, we thought we'd segue into some choice recent comments by ex-KGB Chief and current Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin, a worldly fellow who knows more than a little bit about socialism:
Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin has said the US should take a lesson from the pages of Russian history and not exercise “excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state’s omnipotence”.
“In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state’s role absolute,” Putin said during a speech at the opening ceremony of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated.”
Sounding more like Barry Goldwater than the former head of the KGB, Putin said, “Nor should we turn a blind eye to the fact that the spirit of free enterprise, including the principle of personal responsibility of businesspeople, investors, and shareholders for their decisions, is being eroded in the last few months. There is no reason to believe that we can achieve better results by shifting responsibility onto the state.”
Keep your fingers crossed gentle readers... and hold on to your wallets. The Democrats who now stand at the helm of our national "ship of state" are merely "sailing out of the harbor" here.

So what say our readers about all this, this wintry Saturday afternoon? Lodge your comments on this topic, or consider this an open topic thread. We don't care what you say... just say something.

© 2005 - 2014 Weber County Forum™ -- All Rights Reserved