Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Heads-up on Tonight's Emerald City Political Events - UPDATED

Two competing Emerald City political events for this night
UPDATE: Live blogging from the City Council chambers

Just to keep our readers up to date, here are two competing Emerald City political events for this night, which ought to be on your citizen activist calenders:

First, don't forget about tonight's Weber County Womens Legislative Council event, where the topic of pending citizens' initiate legislation will be the primary topic of discussion.

Secondly, tonight's city council agenda reveals that the 36th/46th Street Water Tanks and Transmission Line issue has once again returned to the council for further discussion, along with an agenda item calling for a possible up/down vote:
8. Administration Reports:
...b. 36th/46th Street Water Tanks and Transmission Line. Consideration of proposed Ordinance 2009-72. An ordinance modifying the FY 2008 through 2012 Capital Improvement plan by making adjustments to project WU095 and adding projects WU100 and WU101 as detailed in the attached project briefs. (Adopt / not adopt ordinance – roll call vote).
The Council appears ready to gullibly gobble up the mayor's 5-million gallon 36th Street water tank plan, hook line and sinker, and to blithely forgive Boss Godfrey for his original unlawful diversion of $5+ million in Water Horizon bond funds from 46th to 36th Street.

WCF readers who attend either of these events are cordially invited to get back with us with their reports, comments and clever jibes.

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

Update 2/2/10 5:17 p.m.: We just heard via email from Dan S.: "I plan to attend and live-blog as appropriate." Stay tuned, people! W hen Dan S. gets around to live blogging, nobody -- I mean NOBODY does it better. Keep your eyes peeled for new Dan S. posts in the lower comments section. Dan didn't reveal which of the two above-linked venues he'll be attending tonight, btw; but with the ever-resourceful Dan S. "on the case," frankly... who cares? Either way, it's bound to be danged good!

Update 2/2/10 6:09 p.m.: Dan has now checked in from the city council chambers, and launches his live blogging session within the lower comments section.

39 comments:

Jennifer Neil said...

Happen to have PDF of the 2009-72 with attachments archived anyplace?

Just curious, Rudi -- thanks

TLJ

what will it cost us said...

If the council votes for the unecessary water tank at rate payers expense then the citizens should petition for an independent accounting of the the city.

Also include the Mayors trip to China and who else wnet along with him even private citizens in an audit.

The City Council is just as responsable for the cities increase debt, bonds and fiduciary as written into law as the mayor.

Dan S. said...

As Rudi said, I'm here at the council meeting. All council members are present except Wicks, who is excused. Mayor Godfrey is not here, but John Patterson is.

Some Boy Scouts are here to lead the pledge of allegiance. They're working on their merit badges in Citizenship in the Community--a merit badge that I never got myself, and hence never made it past rank second class.

Dan S. said...

Next on the agenda, they just approved the appointment of Robert Belka to the Urban Forestry Committee.

Mary McKinley is now making a presentation on behalf of the Ogden Nature Center.

Dan S. said...

McKinley: The Ogden Nature Center was founded in 1975 and is located on Ogden City property. It's a great place for viewing wildlife, and also has lots of trails and some new buildings built out of sustainable materials. Hundreds of volunteers help the Nature Center function each year, and the Center sponsors lots of popular annual events. The Center's main focus is on environmental education programs for school children (including home-schooled children, preschool, and summer programs). The Nature Center partners with lots of other local organizations, schools, and government agencies.

The Nature Center has already adopted many policies to use more sustainable products and practices, and is ready to help with the city's Green Ogden initiative.

Dan S. said...

Now they're approving the minutes from several dates last October, November, and December.

Petition 2009-14 to rezone property at 3701 Harrison has been withdrawn by the petitioner, so that won't be considered tonight.

Next is a budget opening (i.e., amendment to this year's budget). The total amount is nearly $5.9 million. John Arrington is outlining the details of this proposal. It involves sale of property, which will be brought to the council in more detail later. There are also several grants. One is for repaving runways at the airport. Another is from EPA for various small environmental cleanup projects. Another is for the generating station at the water treatment plant. An $800k stimulus grant (through the state) will help improve building efficiency, and for another small hydro power station, and to convert vehicles to run on compressed natural gas. A DOJ grant will help purchase 13 new police vehicles. The council will hold a public hearing on this budget opening on February 23.

Dan S. said...

Now the water tank issue is up. City Engineer Justin Anderson is presenting.

Proposal is to build 5 MG tank to replace two existing 36th Street tanks, and do engineering work for future construction of a 1.25 MG tank much higher on the mountain and to build a transmission line to it from both 36th Street and 46th Street. (Anderson says engineering "studies", but it's also design work which is much more expensive.)

Dan S. said...

($200,000 of the money they're asking for now would also be for property acquisition for the transmission line.)

Now Anderson is trying to paint a picture of failures in the water system and all the horrible things that will happen if they don't do all this.

Dan S. said...

Anderson: "Smaller tank is to address issues of future capacity in the southeast bench."

Councilman Garner asks about the advantage of a concrete tank over a steel tank. Anderson introduces a consultant to help answer: Steel tanks can't be buried without serious corrosion problems. The proposal is to put extra reinforcement into this 5 MG tank, to add strength during an earthquake. Van Hooser asks what the life span would be. Consultant: Plan on 50 years but probably 75. Steel tanks, on the other hand, need major rehab every decade or two, even though they're less expensive to begin with. Concrete tanks need very little maintenance.

Dan S. said...

More scare tactics from Anderson: Existing steel tanks have no seismic protection. They've been hit with rocks, rusted, etc. "In my opinion those tanks need to be taken out of service."

Stephens asks about deadline for spending 85% of the bond funds. Anderson answers with useless generalities. Arrington gets up and explains how there can be an IRS penalty if we earn more interest on the bonds than what's needed to cover the payments. That's unlikely in the current economy. Gochnour: Is there an ultimate deadline to spend 100%? Arrington: Not really, but it's not good to drag it out for too long. Van Hooser: Aren't we already up to 84% or more? [Answer isn't clear.] Stephens: If we wait too long, won't our costs go up? Anderson: Yes, we've been building these water projects at a time when we get a lot for our money and that probably will change over time.

Dan S. said...

Stephenson is throwing softballs, helping Anderson explain how important all these projects are.

Consultant: "You can never have too much storage." A larger high reservoir saves on the power bill because you can pump at night when electricity is cheaper.

Franke: All these needs were discussed during the Water Horizons process. [But there was no specific mention then of deficiencies at 36th Street.]

Dan S. said...

Franke: The ordinance at this point contains a statement in the preamble about the council's understanding that the site of the existing 36th Street tanks will be restored and revegetated. [Why just in the preamble? Then it's unenforceable.]

Dan S. said...

Public input: Hunter Brown, a student at Da Vinci Academy, is speaking. Has a companion whose name I didn't catch. They're talking about the Green Ogden program. [Oops, they think this is the time for general public comments at the end of the meeting. Well, nobody is going to stop them now, nor are they being limited to the usual 3 minutes.] Lots of parents and supporters are here in the audience. The students are thanking the council for the river restoration project. They're working on storm water runoff monitoring. They would like mayor to sign on to a nationwide mayors' initiative on environmental protection. Finally Chair Gochnour thanks them very sincerely.

Dan S. said...

Virginia Hernandez-Rosa (sp?) is now speaking. First she congratulates all the newly elected council members and officers. She generally seems to favor the water projects but she's speaking pretty generally.

I just spoke, and was happy to be given 5 minutes (not all of which I used). I won't try to summarize all my comments here.

David Smith is now speaking, raising technical issues about concrete tanks leaking, etc. He concludes by asking the council to do its own study to answer the many unanswered questions about these projects.

Dan S. said...

Luann Huss (sp?) speaks briefly about experiences with the 23rd Street reservoirs.

End of public input.

Stephens: General statement about improving the water system. Private property up there will be developed. WSU property will be developed. "I think Mr. Anderson would tell us the truth." Has some reservations about the smaller tank.

Stephenson: Asks Anderson whether there should be additional studies.

Patterson speaks up and refers to a study dating back to 2002. "There are at least three firms that have studied this." [If so, why wasn't it disclosed during the Water Horizons process?]

Anderson: Sunrise report said south end of city is deficient in storage. [This isn't true. Sunrise merely said we'd need another tank if we wanted to build even higher than the Bonneville shoreline.] CRS study was done with guidance from Anderson's predecessor. Bowen and Collins recommended transmission line between 36th and 46th. I feel confident in these studies. These three firms do projects all over the state. [Anderson is getting a little agitated.]

Dan S. said...

Patterson says he talked to Laura Lewis (financial consultant) who confirmed that the June 2011 deadline is important. [This is pretty vague.] Patterson is now attacking David Smith for attacking Anderson's integrity. Smith tries to respond, Gochnour cuts him off but says she doesn't think anyone is trying to attack anyone's integrity.

Franke: For the council to do its own study would require allocating money, which requires an ordinance with the mayor's signature. Then there would be a bidding process, screening, interviews, contract approval (by resolution), and finally the work would begin. [Franke is obviously trying to discourage this, painting a picture of how lengthy and cumbersome the process would be.]

Dan S. said...

Gochnour to Anderson: In your opinion, are the steel tanks at the end of their life span? Anderson: Yes.

Stephenson: Why does the 5 MG tank require a million gallons of capacity just to fill the (proposed 1.25 MG tank). Consultant: State requirements. The source of the 1.25 MG tank would be the 5 MG tanks. We discussed this with the division of drinking water. [This makes no sense. Why not just fill the 1.25 MG tank directly from 23rd Street, bypassing the 5 MG tank?]

Blair sounds inclined to approve the 5 MG tank.

Stephenson moves to adopt the entire ordinance. Stephens seconds. Motion passes unanimously.

ozboy said...

John Patterson, Matt Godfrey and the whole friggen pile of Godfreyites couldn't hold a candle to David Smith. He is far ahead of this group of official losers in all areas - intellect, integrity and class. Just too damn bad he ain't mayor instead of that phony little punk Godfrey. Ogden would be in a hell of a better place now if he were.

Dan S. said...

Final public comments: Smith brings up the ice tower and points out that Patterson wasn't very truthful when he promised all the money that would come through.

Patterson responds by accusing Smith of exaggerating. [Does he really want to get into an argument over this? He's the one who told RAMP in writing that they would stop spending RAMP money on design work, and then kept on spending RAMP money on design work for six more months.]

Pinocchio said...

If Patterson and Godfrey were made of wood, their noses would reach the moon and back 36 times because of their habit of lying.

Dan S. said...

A few follow-up comments on the water tanks...

In my own comments I encouraged the council to hire its own consultant to review the studies that have already been completed but drop the assumptions about new development on the east bench, then prioritize all the projects that have been proposed and make a recommendation on how to spend the remaining bond money. I pointed out that the justifications in the past studies have been inconsistent and that many important questions have never been asked of, or answered by, outside consultants.

Franke stated shortly before the vote that the ordinance had been revised to cut the amount of money allocated to engineering work for the smaller tank and transmission line. The version that I saw in December would have allocated $800,000 to these two projects, but that's apparently been cut to $400,000 (if I heard correctly). Even so, I fear that this is enough that once it's spent, it will be virtually impossible for the council to stop the projects.

I also spoke briefly after the vote, first pointing out that Anderson had misspoken when he said the Sunrise Engineering report had found deficiencies in the southeast bench area. Then I said that I've been serving for a few months on the city's open space planning committee, attending half a dozen two-hour meetings, but that the council had just done more damage to Ogden's open space than our committee could ever repair, and that's pretty discouraging.

On the way out of the council chambers I had a chance to ask the consultants (from Caldwell Richards Sorenson) about two details in their report that I never understood. First I asked why the fire flow capacity of the tanks was calculated on a per-pressure-zone basis, as if there is a higher chance of multiple, simultaneous fires when the area being served has a wide range of elevations. The older fellow tried to claim that they hadn't done it that way, but the young woman with him said "yes we did", and then he claimed that that's the way Ogden's fire marshall told them to do it, and they deferred to the fire marshall (apparently without thinking about it). Second, I asked why the larger tank has to have extra capacity to fill the smaller tank, when you could just as well fill the smaller tank directly from the huge 23rd Street reservoirs. They had no good response to that either, other than to reference the state regulations which I think are ambiguous on this point (and they didn't disagree).

Amy wicks said...

Thanks for the timely professional update, Dan. It's infintely better than irrelevant tweets from the same meeting I am out of town for a work related meeting and was not available to call in. I'm still not convinced we need the tanks or that it's a good use of taxpayer funds.

RudiZink said...

Thanks for your reporting Dan.

Very informative!

Dan S. said...

Ms. Wicks:

It was clear as early as last August that in the end, this decision would come down to a matter of whom the city council trusted more: the city engineer (Justin Anderson) or the private citizens (myself, David Smith, and Rob Garner). There's absolutely no way that the private citizens could have won that contest. So our only hope was to convince the council to hire its own independent experts.

The city council is virtually powerless because it relies on the administration for 99% of its information. And this administration has shown time and again that it will deceive the council to further its own goals. Will that ever change?

Pinocchio said...

Dan. Decieve? A lie is a lie is a lie.

wildcat said...

Problem of legislative bodies relying on executive administrations for info about gov't is not unique to Ogden or City government. US Congress has dealt with same issue often vis a vis many Presidents.

Lexus said...

The whole golf course/water tank issue is really only about Godfreys two prong attack and upcoming surprise sell-off of bench land.

This is a horrible time to be doing water system improvements. Thw city has major issues. The water tanks can wait another decade; addressing the 60 percent drop-out rate at local high schools would be money better spent.

Biker Babe said...

But, no one wants to spend money on education issues here in Utah -- check out the Buttars post-thread.

js
BB

David S. said...

For what it's worth, I recall pointing out that John Patterson had been completely inaccurate or something like that, on the ice tower donations, which he was.

The point was, why trust Anderson, when Patterson was very incorrect?

I didn't suggest that he wasn't truthful. People can draw their own conclusions regarding that, but I didn't suggest what those conclusions should be

David S. said...

Regarding the city water engineer, Anderson, his whole pitch, it seemed to me, was,

I've been on the job for 18 months and I think this is all a good idea. Do what I tell you, and trust me.

It didn't seem enough basis to vote $7 million of taxpayer money, but all six council members seemed to think is was.

From what I could tell, the facts all proved Anderson was a neophyte who didn't know what he was talking about.

Other facts showed, to me, that the tank design, location, etc, originated with Godfrey, and Anderson was just "pushing it through, whatever it takes", like many city employees are expected to do for Godfrey.

RudiZink said...

Weird, innit David, watching watching Boss Godfrey's designated spinmaster (Jon Patterson) personally attack you in a city council meeting?

Just keep on doing what you do, David!

In the end, the righteous and honest people will win out.

You can take that to the bank, BTW.

Bitter Root said...

While it is true a whispered fact can be louder than a shouted lie, one would be fey to attempt this next to a roaring jet engine; or next to a successful politician .
Zink says, "In the end, the righteous and honest people will win out."
Bwahahaha Bwahaha ha ha ha. Snort. Ha. Oh. My. Hell.
You have just got to be kidding. In the end, no one "wins out".
In the end all is grist for the mill, the light fades to a pinpoint bright and unreachable, and the Rough Beast still slouches towards Bethlehem.

"In each human heart terror survives
The raven [ruin?] it has gorged: the loftiest fear
All that they would disdain to think were true:
Hypocrisy and custom make their minds
The fanes of many a worship, now outworn.
They dare not devise good for man's estate,
And yet they know not that they do not dare". ~WBYeats

In the short term, mostly those who play hard and smart with the memetic terrain, scruples be damned, win out.

Except for those for whom these truisms ill suit; they will find their own way.

Curmudgeon said...

But Rudi, Mr. Patterson has a pure heart. How do we know that? Why, he told us so!

Marion said...

It seems like an awful harbinger of the future that the new council simply rolled over for the unsubstantiated lies by the mayor and his hand maidens about the water situation. The council actually committed Seven Million dollars based on no more than a Godfrey vassal's word? Please, someone tell us this isn't really true. There must be more to the story than this for Wicks, VanHooser and Blair to vote for it.
Surely Jeske wasn't the only one on that council with enough sense to see through the administrations corruption, was she? She has only been off the council for a month and this sort of thing is already happening.

Amy Wicks said...

Lexus,

The K-12 public school system in Ogden is governed and funded by taxes paid to the State of Utah Ogden City School District, not Ogden City. I would love to address the problems with the schools and do it in a way that is sustainably funded but that's not under my control.

Dan-

I don't trust everything provided by administration, in fact I believe it's my duty to ask questions and not blindly trust. I can cite several instances where my own research turned up facts that did not match what the Ogden City Council was told. I may be young but I wasn't born yesterday.

Marion-
I had a long planned trip to attend an important meeting for my job that prevented me from participating in Tuesday's meeting either in person or electronically. I didn't vote on the water tank project because I was not able to attend the meeting. I'm not convinced that we need it or that we should spend taxpayer dollars and increase the rates for current customers for projects that seem to be something that benefits future new construction. Let them pay their own way if that time comes.

Amy Wicks, scatter brained typer who has had an extremely long day said...

My prior comment should read

The K-12 public school system in Ogden is funded by taxes paid to the State of Utah AND Ogden City School District, and governed by policy set by the Utah State Legislature and the School District, not Ogden City. I would love to address the problems with the schools and do it in a way that is sustainably funded but that's not under my control.

Disgusted said...

Dan,
Most disappointing to me is that a lot of energy was spent trying to put the city council in a position to be able to challenge the adminstration staff and engineering dept on the tank issue. All we asked for was an independent engineering review of the reports already generated for the city. This could have saved the city 5 million plus dollars for a study that would have cost only $10,000. This was too much ask for. The council let their staff talk them out of it. Until council starts directing their staff rather than the other way around nothing will change. Very disappointed.

Rob Garner said...

Amy,
I think you're more a politican than you realize. I was at the work session when you stated in the meeting that you thought the existing tanks needed to be replaced. The new council members heard that same comment and I don't know how much of your comment may have influenced their vote since they were not as versed on the subject as you were. Either way you are now claiming reservations as to the need of the tanks. I really lost faith.

Dan S. said...

For archival completeness I'll note that the Standard-Examiner finally reported on the council's water tank decision on the eighth day after the meeting, Thursday, February 11. The article is on the front page but isn't available through free portion of the S-E web site. I'm trying to obtain a link to the digital edition version, but for some reason the email-a-link feature doesn't seem to be working.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

36th Street tank closer to reality

By SCOTT SCHWEBKE
Standard-Examiner staff sschwebke@standard.net

OGDEN — Construction of a controversial 5 million-gallon water tank at the top of 36th Street is scheduled to begin in April.
After several months of study, the city council last week amended its Capital Improvement Plan to allow the installation of the tank, which will cost about $3.5 million....
The tank will replace two existing steel tanks, also on 36th Street, that are about 80 years old and can store 2.2 million gallons.
The old tanks will be removed and the site will be landscaped, said [City Engineer Justin] Anderson.
The Capital Improvement Plan amendment also allocates $100,000 for a design and engineering study for the installation of a 1.2 million-gallon tank that could be built at a location yet to be determined on the East Bench.
In addition, the amendment also earmarks $300,000 for a study involving transmission lines and potential property easement purchases to connect the new 36th Street tank to another tank on 46th Street.

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