Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March 9, 2010 Ogden RDA Post Meeting Report

An RDA session video, in lieu of a turgid text-based report

As a followup to Monday's WCF article, in which we expressed our concern that the Ogden City RDA Board might be acting a mite hastily in rushing through a "blight finding" for the "4 downtown city blocks, from 20th to 24th; and east from Washington to Adams Avenue," we're delighted to learn this morning that our Ogden RDA Board has deferred taking any further action in this matter, except to schedule a full, formal "blight study hearing" for the RDA calender of April 13, 2010, at which time all affected property owners and the lumpencitizens of Emerald City will be given ample opportunity to offer their evidence and argument... and to otherwise spout off.

In lieu of a lengthy text-based post meeting report, we've embedded the video* of last night's meeting, where WCF readers will be able to observe a savvy, combat-hardened City Council/RDA Board which is most definitely firing on all cylinders. Check out the heavy grilling that Board members Stephens, Wicks, Gochnour and Van Hooser administer to poor old Community & Economic Development Department Director Richard McConkie. It's truly a beauteous thing to watch. And even Councilman Stephensen gets in a few licks. Select the March 9, 2010 RDA meeting from the lower video menu :
Ogden City Council Videos
If there's anyone who believes that this RDA Board is collectively playing the part of a patsy for an overly ambitious city administration (with respect to this project, at least), a viewing of this video ought to allay those fears.

Who will be the first to comment?
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* Courtesy of the Ogden City Website

34 comments:

G'narg said...

Ms. Wicks is no-ones patsy.

B.S. said...

Wow, McConkie says parking downtown is a real problem, Didnt Godfrey give a parking structure away to Marketstar?

althepal said...

Pretty interesting discussion during the public comments portion of the meeting (44:20 and on), where former Councilwoman Jeske brings up Godfrey's project to use the firefighters to knock on doors and dig up unlicensed rentals. Patterson says the program is good, because it promotes "community bonding." The guy is truly pathetic.

Curmudgeon said...

First, kudos to the council for arranging tape of the meeting available for public viewing so quickly. Excellent.

Didn't seem to me the questioning constituted a "grilling" of Mr. McConkie. Councilwoman Wicks displayed her well known preference for living in the real world when she noted that the Council and City, in light of the seemingly moribund River Project, do not have a good reputation with the general public regarding RDAs and their successful management. Got that right.

I was surprised to learn that Ogden currently has 22 active RDAs. 22.

Mr. Stephenson asked, I think, one of the most significant questions when he ask McConkie if the administration had a particular project in mind, and a developer lined up to carry it through. McConkie may have said no. It's hard to tell. He answered with a blizzard of verbiage about what his office "hoped" would happen regarding "people coming forward," etc.

[Note to Mr. McConkie: when a Council member asks a question, and the answer to that question is "no," it's not only OK, but preferable for you to say "no." If the Council member wants a fuller answer, he or she can ask for it. But you'll have been clear about your answer to the main question, as you were not last night on this one. Verbal fog reduces clarity and gets folks wondering "If the answer is 'no,' why didn't he just say so"?]

Interesting too that a bit later, when talking about why the administration wasn't pressing forward with the original idea of a 32 square block RDA, McConkie said it was thought not necessary "to disrupt that many people."

Disrupt? He'd just spent half an hour arguing that the RDA was in fact not intended to, nor would it, "disrupt" the property owners and/or residents of the four block proposed RDA area. It would, he insisted, help them and they'd, he hoped, be happy to be included in the RDA. Granting that, it's a little hard to understand his not wanting to "disrupt that many people" by extending the area, que no?

Finally, the Council simply set a public hearing on this proposal last night, which was all it had on the agenda. Other than refusing to set a public hearing and thus killing the proposal outright, I don't think there was any other action it could have taken last night but the one it did.

Odd to me that procedures in the law are such that a Council must approve the creation of an RDA before a city's administration drafts a plan and budget for that RDA.

Instructive meeting. Some good questions. But hardly a grilling, I think.

Thanks for posting the link, Rudi.

Bull Shit said...

Patterson is a lying little prick. It is a rental survey that the Code Enforcement should be doing. It has nothing to do with Co detectors, and Smoke alarms. The information is downloaded to the City Admin every day.

Patterson lies!

Jennifer Neil said...

McKonkie is Our Community Economic Development Director - and HE DOESN'T KNOW how many business are on the 4-block stretch of Washington Blvd?!? Yet he has been working with them.

BS!

TLJ

Danny said...

Slow, stupid, plodding, moronic, vacuous.

Did McConkie answer a question? Does he understand English?

Did I not say McConkie is incompetent when he was appointed?

In Godfreyland, this is the best one can hope for - that the high-priced bureaucrat is too numb to do damage, unlike the energetically incompetent Patterson, who does far more damage?

But Rudi is wrong - nothing happened last night. The city council will ask questions, the administration will answer none of them, will address no concerns whatsoever. Then, at some point, the administration will fabricate a phony sense of urgency to convince the council to vote what it wants NOW, and, the council will do just that.

A stupid system. These city bureaucracies should be defunded and eliminated so the fresh air of freedom can blow through Ogden at last.

But given that the whole thing is WRONG, rank incompetence in the administration of it, is the most we can hope for. And that is essentially what we have now.

Unbelievable incompetence.

But Jeske was good. She is always good. But she is gone from the council. Heaven help us, she is gone, and no one to replace her.

We have firemen, in fire trucks, looking for rentals and checking smoke detectors as Godfrey's personal Gestapo. Unbelievable. Will the council do anything about it? Hahahahahaha!

Curmudgeon said...

Sorry, guys, but the session and the q and a were by no means worthless . I too was surprised that Mr. McConkie didn't know how many residents [as opposed to property owners] might be affected by the proposed RDA, or the number of owner-occupied residential units compared to rented residential units in it. But he's committed to getting that information for the Council. That's the kind of thing meetings like this are for.

And Councilman Stephenson was right in calling for notification to residents on blocks adjacent to the proposed RDA zone that a hearing was coming up [following Councilwoman Van Hooser's raising the matter in a question]. Interesting that the administration intended to do the minimum the law permitted regarding notices of the public hearing, and that Van Hooser, Stephenson and in the end the whole council had to insist that the minimum public notice required was not enough.

I also was glad Stephenson asked specifically about eminent domain proceedings regarding the proposed RDA. It apparently cannot be initiated absent a petition from 80% of the residential property owners, or 70% of the commercial property owners that eminent domain be invoked. I'm not completely clear from Mr. McConkie's answer whether the percentages mean 80% of the residential property owners, or owners of 80% of the residential property involved. Those are two different things [think Powder Mountain.] I think McConkie meant 80% of the owners, not owners of 80% of the property. I think.

Councilwoman Wicks hit a key point when she noted the lack of confidence [I'd say trust] in the Administration and Council given the River Project mess. [I enjoyed watching McConkie try to sell the River Project as a stellar success of which the Council should be proud. He has a future at Fox News if he wants it.] And lack of trust of the Administration [based on its past performance] is what makes me nervous about having the RDA approved before a development plan and budget has been proposed. Once the RDA is approved, bureaucratic momentum will be immediately created to approve whatever subsequent plan the administration offers. And even to docilely accept changes the Administration my arbitrarily make by fiat [think of Ogden's Incredible Moving Water Tanks].

It might be a good idea for the Administration to start action to terminate what Mr. McConkie said were "a number" of current RDA's that are only technically still active, but are in fact dormant. Couldn't help wondering while he spoke about them why the dormant RDAs haven't been ended.

In any case, I don't think Mr. McConkie or the Council merited the level of venom they drew above for their performance at this meeting.

Dan S. said...

Curm: The reason for all the "dormant" RDA areas is so the city can continue to collect tax increment on them. This tax increment has been committed toward paying off a portion of the bonds for building the Salomon Center.

Someone should post a copy of the latest RDA annual report. It should list all the RDA areas and their expiration dates. I have one from a couple of years ago, but only in hard copy.

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:

Ah. Thank you.

puzzled said...

Rudi, the agenda item on Tuesday's RDA was never meant to be a full blown blight hearing. It was only a common consent item to set a public hearing date. So your praise of the council for holding off of a hearing is misguided, misleading an incorrect. They only did what the agenda said they were going to do which was to set a hearing date. You are bit of a premature alarmist

RudiZink said...

Puzzled:

That may have been what was "meant," (intended) but that's not what the council announcement necessarily said. The council's original agenda announcement was vague and ambiguous at best, and subject to various reasonable interpretations, including an interpretation supporting the possibility that the council might have "intended," erroneously and unlawfully, to make a blight finding last night by "common consent."

To a certain extent you're right, I'll concede. The RDA Board deserves no extra praise for merely adhering to state law.

But I do believe the Council/RDA Board deserves extra praise for their performance last night, and to that I'll just say this:

I praised the council not for putting off a formal blight hearing for a properly noticed and calendered future date (which is the requirement under state law), but rather for pointedly asking all the right questions of Mr. McConkie.

I'll add that I believe Councilman Stephens deserves particular praise for his questions and comments on last night's RDA topic. The target project exists in his City Ward; and I believe he demonstrated a strong interest in seeing that his council constituents are treated right.

And it's for those reasons that I believe the RDA Board demonstrated it was "firing on all cylinders" last night.

I do hope that sets the record straight.

Danny said...

Wow.

As usual, I am alone.

Gee ain't it grand that they passed all that hot air? Ain't it grand indeed?

Yeah, the council was skeptical. They asked some good questions. And they did NOTHING - no motion, no resolution, no redirection, NOTHING.

This is the new modus operandi for Godfrey. Let the city council spout. Let them say what they will. We (Godfrey speaking) will give them hot air in return - empty words, promises, assurances, nothing on paper, nothing binding - and we will stonewall them on the rest. But then, the city council will do what we want in the end. The written stuff will say what we want. The actuality will be what we want, passed right under the noses of these fools.

Those who elected the city council will get hot air and apologies, while we (still Godfrey speaking) will PASS what WE want.

There is one smart guy in the Administration, named Godfrey.

Smart as Satan.

For some of the rest of you, have you bought your swampland in Florida yet, or perhaps the Brooklyn Bridge?

RudiZink said...

I'm not going to discount the possibility that you may be entirely correct, Danny. But for the time being, I'll continue to at least "play along." The proof in the pudding will come along on April 13, of course.

And as we continue to discuss this topic, let's not forget that Councilwoman Wicks voted "nay" on last night's motion.

blackrulon said...

A few years ago the city announced a program where city residents could get smoke and CO2 detectors at cost. When I picked mine up I had to show identification and sign a receipt. Did the city keep a record of people who took advantage of this program? If so then they should be able to eliminate visiting people who received the equipment.

Brett said...

Danny,

You’re not alone. In fact, I think you are the only one who sees the true picture. I heard a comment about last night’s meeting that nothing really happened last night. Right on! The council asked a lot of questions and did a lot of posturing, but did nothing! It was a show only! For whose benefit? I think that they want the public to think that they do not march to Godfrey’s tune, but they are fooling only themselves. Godfrey has got them right where he wants them – unknowingly or unwittingly doing his bidding because they want to lose the perception of being “naysayers” and always against the mayor. They need to wake up! If they’re not against Godfrey, then they’re with him! He will get his way in the end through manipulating them. Like you said, Danny, “There is one smart guy in the Administration, named Godfrey. Smart as Satan.”

You are also right, Bull Shit, when you said, “Patterson lies!” He is almost as big a liar as Godfrey. In his comments last night, he contradicted himself when he said that the survey had been going on for months, because he also had said earlier that the firefighters had visited 8,000 homes of the 80,000 units in the city -- that's ONLY 10%!! They are really just getting started!

McConkie and all the staff members are operating in “Godfrey mode” which is don’t answer Council members questions – beat around the bush, but you don’t answer their questions! Why is that everyone but the council can see that?

Loved Boardmember Wick's comment, "That if the survey had been on the up and up, prior notice of the survey would have been announced, informing the public of the forth coming survey.

Fireman Joe said...

Remember too Patterson stated only about 50% of the surveyed houses have had people home. We are currently out from 3-6 pm when most people are still at work. They have not told us if we are forced to go back to houses where nobody answers.

Another statement of his amazes me "they would otherwise be training", good to know the true priorities of this administration.

U. Eco said...

It is impossible to "see the true picture"; never happens.

But, as is often the case, I find Danny's take on the facts to be quite informative.

small business said...

i am a small business owner on the 22nd block of washington and i am a little nervous about this whole issue. we weren't notified of last night's proceedings. we will absolutely be at the meeting on the 13th!

Mayor Matthew Godfrey Parody said...

Small Business:

I am sorry you didn't know about the meeting concerning our impending seizure of your property. But I see you are not on the list of participants in Ogden's Renaissance.

I won't ask you why you have not yet decided to participate in Ogden's future, but why not join now?

Please call my Concierge, John Patterson, at Ogden City. New participants in Ogden City's Renaissance are now being accepted. The minimum fee is $5,000. Make out the check to "Godfrey for Mayor, 2011".

Once YOU decide to participate, I will insure you WILL BE a full participant and will be notified of all issues relating to your property in the future. For $10,000 you can even sit next to Gadi Leshem, R&O Construction, and Staker Parson Companies, and meet with me personally.

I may even have some of the good stuff to give YOU, wink, wink! How does $300,000 in Federal Stimulus Funding sound to you?

I thought so. Thank you for doing business with Ogden City.

educated said...

Mayor,

Thank you for your concise explanation of how Ogden City does business. Who ever said our city government lacks transparency? We hope you will continue to provide these educational vignettes.

bribes are legal!!!! said...

Hey Dan,
How might I get a copy of Gov. Herbert check of ten grand for the fast track of the mining company?

Richard Nixon said...

We Republicans are Not Crooks!

Elmo said...

Does anybody know if all of the other designated RDA areas in Ogden also have blight designations associated with them? Can a classified RDA area not have a blight designation(s)? Are they hand in hand? I thought I sort understood RDA's until Mr. McConkie spoke and confounded me.

BAT_girl said...

Comment bumped to front page

Monotreme said...

Elmo:

Last I checked, Mt. Ogden Park is an RDA area.

ozboy said...

Elmo

The purpose of any RDA is to eliminate "blight". That is why the first step is always a "blight" study and designation. No blight, no RDA.

The problem comes in determining what exactly "blight" is. There is no where that the meaning of the word is carved into granite. Basically "blight" can mean practically anything a ruling body of politicians wants it to mean. There have been well documented cases where nice pleasant horse pastures have been designated as "blighted" so that some pack of ambitious politcos and their cronies in the development game can get the public to pay for their infrastructure. The whole RDA idea, while having original merit, has become the most officially abused scam in recent history. Practically every city, county and other local government across the country have dipped their hungry hands into the great public RDA free money pool.

The whole RDA concept is one of the elements that has led to the current economic crisis where every tin horn wanna be tycoon, like Godfrey, can create gobs of monopoly money out of thin air and promises of the future with lower taxes.

the tax man said...

And none of the promises if lower taxes have ever materialized.
Ogden City has had RDA's for a long long time, and they are still in a financial bind, it looks like it's not working to me. Maybe we should just live within our means and let the private developers do their thing and not fork over any more public monies.

blackrulon said...

Fireman Joe, I feel I must defend John Patterson and his attitude on training. He is helping you train to be healthier by letting you go for a daily walk every day from 3-6pm. He is training you to know various neighborhoods by having you visit them. He is training you to be a better speaker by having you talk with Ogden citizens who are home. He is training you to be a healthy friendly future door to door salesman. He is really helping you out. Thank him.

Monotreme said...

Here is a map of RDA districts from the city website, dated 2009.

Note the "St. Benedict's RDA" designation for the blighted area around the garbage-strewn and potholed Mt. Ogden Park.

Dan S. said...

Thanks, Monotreme. I spent a few minutes looking for an online version of that map and couldn't find it. How did you?

For the present discussion, the most important point is that nearly all of Ogden's downtown is already in redevelopment areas. That means that the county's taxing entities (including the Ogden City general fund) collect little or no property tax on new developments in downtown Ogden.

Monotreme said...

Dan:

The city's webpage design isn't exactly intuitive, is it?

I searched using "maps". For some reason, the map is not indexed as belonging to the RDA so you have to plow through all maps to find it.

still bored by all this said...

Well, BlackRulon, maybe the City wants to see if everyone who took advantage of the Co2 detectors have had them properly installed. Did that possibility cross your mind?

And whose this Danny character, this guy who is so full of himself and "I told ya sos?" He certainly goes to great efforts to pat himself on his back, belittle all who hold positions because they maybe say things that he doesn't agree with or understand (yeah, that's what I think it is, a lack of understanding). If this clown's as hot as he claims he is, maybe he'll run for some office in the future and let his performance dictate how really good he is.

Yawn.

And Ozboy, you didn't mention that the RDA doesn't run up any debt or obligation to the taxpayer. Everything they bond for or commit to is FREE. Glorious, eh?

Ogden Resident said...

To Still Bored,

You made the comment, "the RDA doesn't run up any debt or obligation to the taxpayer."

In that comment you're correct, but what you fail to point out is that the revenues collected from an RDA project do not flow back to the city coffers until the RDA is paid back in full if that ever happens. What happens is that properties that were on the city books generating revenues are removed from the tax role and the taxes collected are paid instead to the RDA to pay off that debt. It is only when the RDA debt is paid off that the property then returns to the city tax role.

Two observations though. First our current administration has a terrible record of success with these types of projects and second the RDA is supposed to self funded. In other words the earnings off of one project are used to fund another project but within Ogden the administration is borrowing from the various departments within the city to fund the RDA projects. With horrible results I might add. In fact over the last two years the city has had to write of 12 million dollars worth of various department loans to the city's RDA.

So in response to your comment you're technically right, the RDA hasn't directly run up any debt to the taxpayers but you’re so fundamentally wrong in that it has deprived the city of revenues it used to have on tax generating properties (taxes that would of otherwise offset some of the operating costs of the city), it has funded and is forced to continue to fund projects that have not proven themselves to be financially viable and it has defaulted on 12 million dollars of debt to the city.

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