Friday, April 23, 2010

Mayor Vetoes Searchlight Ordinance

Possible veto override this Tuesday

by Dan Schroeder

If you live in Ogden and you ever look up at night, you've noticed the searchlight beam that's been "gracing" our evening skies every Friday and Saturday night since last summer. The light is located on top of the old Kiesel Building, just south of The Junction, and it's advertising The Vault, a dance club on the ground floor of the building.

I'm sure that people have different attitudes toward these kinds of searchlights. Some folks take them in stride as just another part of urban living. Others, including myself, are deeply offended that anyone would intentionally mar the beauty of the night sky for everyone within a five-mile radius.

Usually these searchlights are associated with some kind of special event, and they soon disappear. This one, though, seems to be a permanent fixture. These people have the audacity not only to disturb Ogden's night skies, but to do so every weekend, week after week, month after month, indefinitely.

You see, Ogden currently has no ordinance to regulate this kind of intrusion. And there always seem to be people who think that as long as something's not illegal, it's ok.

Fortunately, the City Council decided that enough is enough. It drafted an ordinance to limit the operation of a searchlight to no more than 12 nights per year, per location. Many other cities have similar ordinances, for obvious reasons. Other locations, such as Ogden Valley, prohibit searchlights entirely.

The City Council passed this new ordinance unanimously (6-0, with Van Hooser absent) at its April 6 meeting. I was delighted when I heard this news, but my delight was premature.

Now Mayor Godfrey has vetoed the ordinance. His rationale is that "History demonstrates that the use of spotlights self-regulates. They are used for a time by only a very few businesses and then they go away." The mayor does not state how The Vault's searchlight squares with his definition of "for a time".

This is the same mayor who says he wants to promote enjoyment of Ogden's beautiful outdoors, and who says he wants to attract businesses and residents who love that outdoors. Surely the mayor must realize that the night sky is an integral part of the outdoor environment that many of us cherish.

The City Council will vote this Tuesday, April 27, on a possible veto override (see agenda item #8), which requires 5 votes. The last time the mayor vetoed an ordinance that passed unanimously, the council sustained his veto. The meeting begins at 6:00 pm. You can also express your views to the council at


city employee said...

Good luck with getting any where with your complaint.

The people that own and run this teen non drinking club are certified friends, supporters of and financial donors to Matt Godfrey. This is why he vetoed the bill to begin with. In Ogden you don't mess with friends of Matt.

Curmudgeon said...

And if the Council does over-ride the veto, as I hope it will, the Mayor can simply announce, as he has in the past, the searchlight policy is exclusively an executive decision matter, that the Council has intruded on his executive authority by overriding the veto, and that he intends to ignore the veto and do what he pleases anyway. It's what he did when the Council over-rode his veto on the Marshall White center funding. Why not again?

Danny said...

Let me get this straight.

The Godfrey administration says regulating spotlights, that sweep overhead, run along the mountain and can be seen for miles, is "over regulation and unnecessary bureaucracy".

On the other hand, they take over one section of the city after another, they write fifty pages of red tape just to cover the river district, and that's okay.

I'll tell you what's going on. They city bureaucrats don't like the city council acting like they are the boss. THE ADMINISTRATION IS THE BOSS! Godfrey didn't think for 10 seconds about this veto. It's all about power.

City council, please override.

Danny said...

By the way, Curm, I respectfully submit, for the sake of your own investment decisions, that you look at today's article from Northern Trust.

Note that the only charts that look good are the ones that compare percentage year over year (chart 3 and 5). The other charts, comparing absolute numbers, are stark. (I quit reading the commentary, much of which is opinion. I just look at the facts, the data.)

Not wanting to argue. Just wanting to save you some money.

Article Here

Danny said...

Back to the searchlight issue, Dan S. says,

"This is the same mayor who says he wants to promote enjoyment of Ogden's beautiful outdoors, and who says he wants to attract businesses and residents who love that outdoors."

Has Godfrey ever said such a thing?

I thought Godfrey said he'd sell everything if he could. There is no enjoyment, no appreciation of beauty from this rapacious mobster Godfrey.

The Vault paid him off, pure and simple, pay to play.

Godfrey would sell our natural wonders just as fast as he would sell his own wife or mother.

For what it's worth, 12 nights a year is too much. I'd reduce it to 2 nights a year.

It will be interesting to see how the council members vote on this. We know their hearts are in the right place. Tuesday we will see if they have any self respect whatsoever, let alone concern for the public, or whether they just want to avoid snarky comments from Godfrey directed at them and printed in the paper, at all cost.

Bart Blair, Caitlin Gochnour, and Doug Stevens, please crawl out from under Godfrey and try to vote for the public.

VanHooser and Wicks, we're not so worried.

Garner, are you really independent?

Stephenson, we know you never slip your leash.

Dan S. said...


Godfrey has repeatedly said that a major goal of his is to attract businesses from the outdoor recreation industry. In order to do so, he has promoted Ogden's natural beauty and recreation opportunities. But I admit that the words you quoted contain a bit of my own spin, and Godfrey himself probably wouldn't put it in exactly that way.

Danny said...

Dan S.

Godfrey does promote our natural beauty ...

...the same way he would promote his sister's beauty on a street corner, and for the same reason, and with the same result:

Money in his pocket. Beauty destroyed.


Love the spotlight. I can finally find Ogden, and can relish, from afar, all the strides you have made since I last visited. I felt so welcome that I look forward to my return, with new plans to put something in front of that spotlight.

Northogdener said...

From someone who lives on the hill we are constantly annoyed by this spotlight and have always commented that it should be deemed as some kind of pollution or something. Shouldn't it be limited to grand openings or something? One time events.

Curmudgeon said...


Yup. Those spotlights belong at Grand Openings, etc, for a limited time. Not as permanent or semi-permanent fixtures in the Ogden night sky. The ordinance the Mayor vetoed seems reasonable to me --- it provides the opportunity for businesses to use spotlights for limited times to publicize special events, but bans their use by any individual business beyond that.

The Mayor's stated reason for the veto seems doubtful. If what he said was true, there would not be an ordinance before him at all. The Council passed the ordinance precisely because the situation Hizzonah insists wouldn't happen did.

But then, facing reality squarely has not been a hallmark of the Godfrey administration, which prefers to believe that what it wishes to be so is in fact so, even if it isn't. [Donors champing at the bit to fund a year round downtown ice climbing Popsicle, etc. etc.]

Eastender said...


You're welcome to stay afar.

Regarding the damn light- it's tacky, intrusive to nearly everyone in the greater Ogden area and not exactly something you want in a town where one the main draws is its unspoiled vistas and foothills.

The inconsiderate dolts who are involved with the Vault and the Kiesel building are Friends Of Matt.

I hope the city council will exercise some common sense and over ride the veto from the little dude on the 9th floor. He's protecting something that does not deserve protection and really is about as clueless as they come when it comes to the big picture.

What? said...

There have been how many complaints? One.

Keisha said...

Well..... that's what Godfrey says.

nicely done said...

You can see this damn thing from North Fork! I called Weber County Planning and Ogden City Planning last year about this and basically got told to pound sand. Looks like that is what the Gman is telling the council. Interesting thing about light noise is that the Ogden Valley has a night sky ordinance....but it only applies to commercial projects...which is ridiculous since there is so little commercial development in the first are those Moose Hollow lights looking at night? Why does Valley Elementary have to be lit up like an airport at night 24/7..certainly they don't need that much light for security purposes....not to mention the waste of resources Opps.....schools have thier own rules too.

The Ecstasy Vault said...

City all across the country, progressive forward-thinking cities, have been passing light pollution ordinances.
These search lights are egregious and wasteful.

Turn off the lights.

googlegirl said...

Light Pollution



Biker Babe said...

Anyone really really good with a wrist rockit?

js ...


ozboy said...

Producer Rupert

Whatcha gonna put in front of that spotlight, perhaps your buddy Gadi fresh off his latest criminal indictment? Or how about your little crony Matt? He would certainly be spotlight worthy seeing that he is the biggest loser in Utah's political and financial history. Or maybe you yourself could be the main subject in the spotlight with your handful of cheap and sleazy "Hollywood Productions". The spot light is calling Ruppy.

Curmudgeon said...

Hey, guys, if that post was really from "The Producer" [which I tend to doubt], and he wants to come to Ogden to make some films... any kind, promotional films, commercials, documentaries, Electra-Glide In Blue II, whatever, I say come on down. Put a few people to work at least. He does something worth premiering in The Egyptian, I'll even petition the Council to let him put a couple of spotlights out front for opening night. And buy a ticket.

Monotreme said...

I should think a couple of clever scientists could mount a parabolic mirror on a nearby building that would re-aim and focus the spotlight on a certain house on Tyler Avenue. That might change the Mayor's thinking a bit.

dot connector said...

Trying to connect dots between Vault and Godfrey. Trail keeps leading to Laron T. Zaugg. Can't find connection to Godfrey. Can anyone help?

dot connector said...

Kiesel Building owned by Kiesel Holdings & Development LLC, registered agent Laron T. Zaugg.

Vault web page says owned by Empire Investment and J. Smith. Empire Investment address is J. Smith in New York, registered agent Laron T. Zaugg.

No Zaugg on Godfrey contributor list.


Thanks Curm ... and for the other detractors and non-believers, none of you will get a part in my multi-part REALITY series set in Ogden, called THE BLOG.
Its got everything, and will be popular because nasty always wins out over nice, lies are easier to write than truth, and there is a new story line invented each and every day. Keep it up. The outline is almost complete.

blackrulon said...

PRODUCER RUPERT, Will your REALITY show highlight the many outlet stores moving to Ogden? Or the Chinese goods stores moving to Ogden? Or the Mexican import stores moving to Ogden? Will it show the many people working in hi-tech jobs working in Ogden? Or the many people working in the outdoor recreation in Ogden? Will it include a segment on the ice climbing tower? Will it show all of the people and businesses lining up to rent space in the Junction? Will it be true REALITY or pretend REALITY?

Curmudgeon said...

Dot Connector:

From the point of view of a City Council member, it really shouldn't matter whether The Vault owner is a bosom buddy of Hizzonah or not. If the ordinance is a sound one, and the veto ill-advised, that's true regardless of whether the Mayor and Vault owner are the BFFs or if they've never met.

Taking the veto's motive at the key issue would lead to some absurd scenarios. For example, would it be OK for the Council to approve an unwise ordinance merely because the Mayor's FOMs [Friends of Matt] wanted him to sgin it? Of course not. Conversely, would it be OK for the Council to vote down a good ordinance merely because Godfrey cronies wanted it passed? Clearly not.

So, from the POV of a sitting Council member having to decide whether to uphold the veto or to over-ride it, Hizzonah's motive for vetoing shouldn't come into it at all. If the Council members think it a good ordinance --- and I think it is --- they should vote to override. If they think it's an ill-advised ordinance, they should vote to sustain. For deciding that question, the Mayor's motive behind his veto is irrelevant.

Dan S. said...

Curm: Surely you're not suggesting that legislators should never consider who is paying the person they're listening to?

If I'm a member of Congress and a lobbyist is telling me to vote against financial reform, should I merely consider this lobbyist's arguments on their merits, or should I also ask who the lobbyist is working for?

If I'm a Utah legislator and one of my colleagues is urging me to vote for a bill to allow more radioactive waste to come to Utah, should I merely consider the colleague's arguments on their merits, or should I also check to see how much campaign money this person received from Energy Solutions?

And if I'm an Ogden City Council member, and Gary Williams is telling me that I have no authority to attach policy language to the budget, should I merely consider his arguments on their merits, or should I also consider the fact that he serves at the pleasure of Mayor Godfrey?

In an ideal world, I suppose every legislator would gather all the facts and hear all the arguments for and against each piece of legislation, then make a decision, pro or con, based only on fact and reason. But in the real world, no legislator (or voter) has time to become an expert on every piece of legislation. Therefore we take shortcuts, and one very convenient shortcut is to follow the money. That's why we have disclosure laws for lobbyists and for political candidates.

You're right, of course, that no legislator should make a decision "merely" on the basis of who is for or against something. But you're knocking down a straw man; nobody ever suggested that they should.

Perhaps you would argue that the searchlight ordinance is so simple that no shortcuts are necessary; each council member can effectively become an expert on this narrow subject. But I very much doubt that every council member is an expert on all aspects of searchlights, light pollution, nationwide standards for regulation of advertising, and the economics of running a dance club in downtown Ogden. Mayor Godfrey may make factual claims about all these things at Tuesday's meeting, and there will be no time for the council to check whether he's telling the truth. Therefore his overall credibility on the subject is absolutely relevant.

Also, I notice that Dot Connector hasn't even mentioned the city council, let alone advocated that they make a decision "merely" on the basis of whether Godfrey has connections to The Vault. Perhaps DC merely wants to determine Godfrey's real reasons for vetoing the ordinance (given that his stated reasons don't add up), regardless of what action the council takes. Aren't you even a little bit curious? I sure am, and I'm grateful to Dot Connector for trying to connect the dots. I now hope that City Employee will provide more details about the claim made in the first comment of this thread.

Curmudgeon said...


Your analogy seems off to me. If John Q. Businessman approaches a council member advocating X, of course the council member should take into consideration, as the cliche' puts it, "where he is coming from." Same as a Council member should take into consideration where Dan S. "is coming from" should you lobby him or her on an environmental issue. Or where "Curmudgeon is coming from" if I lobby them on an issue.

What was being implied in posts I replied to was that the Mayor vetoed the ordinance because an FOM wanted him to. If I'm a council member preparing to vote on the over-ride, I don't think I care much whether the Mayor thought the ordinance was a bad idea all on his very own, or he vetoed it only because an FOM wanted him to. What I want to know as a Council member is whether or not the ordinance would be a good one for Ogden City. Period. And so the hoooraw about "Godfrey did it because the owner is an FOM/campaign contributor/etc." seemed, and seems still, irrelevant when I'm deciding what to do. Thinking otherwise could easily lead someone into opposing what might be good ordinances, merely because the mayor was for them, or supporting what might be bad ordinances merely because the mayor opposed them.

As for the budget matter, again, I don't see the parallel with the light ordinance. Mr. Williams' role with respect to the Council is advisory. The Council can accept or reject his advice as it pleases. And Mr. Williams' relationship with the Mayor's office [defined by ordinance] hardly corresponds to an FOM asking Hizzonah for a favor.

But I don't want to dodge your question in any way, so let me put it this way: presuming Mr. Williams gave his advice on a matter of executive vs legislative power regarding the budget, and if I, as a Council member concluded Mr. Williams was, in this case, being a spineless toady and giving advice merely to please his boss --- even if I thought all that was so --- my vote on over-riding the Mayor's veto would still be determined [I hope] on whether I thought over-riding was good for Ogden City or not. Period.

Follow the money is a fine idea for journalists [wish they practiced it more often] and for legislators and city council members too so they can know how interested parties my benefit or lose by any given proposal. Important to know to evaluate their testimony. But not as a shortcut for deciding the worth of an ordinance on its merits. Sometimes the money is on the side of something that would benefit the city and be a wise thing for Ogden to do. Sometimes what's good for an FOM is also what's good for Ogden City. Sometimes.

For any council member, on every vote every time all the time, the sole standard that ought to apply in determining that vote is "Will this be good for Ogden City or not?" Period. No matter who proposed the ordinance --- you, me, Mr. Peterson, the Brothers Geiger, or anyone else --- and no matter who opposed it --- you, me, Mr. Peterson, the Brothers Geiger, or anyone else.

One standard. Every vote. All the time. "Is this a good for Ogden City or not?"

Dan S. said...

Curm: If I were a council member, I would most certainly care about the mayor's reasons for vetoing the ordinance. And as a voter, I also care about the reasons--in fact, I think I have a right to know those reasons. But you're free to ignore the information if you like. Free country, ya know.

Sick of Curm said...

"Sometimes what's good for an FOM is also what's good for Ogden City."

How about giving us a real world example of this really stoopid statement!

Curm, you're the kind of fool who just loves to demonstrate your egg headedness with these endless babbling exercises. Your motive I suppose is to impress, not only yourself, but all those who read your mental gamesmanship.

If you don't know by know that the vast majority of every action and initiative from the Godfreyistas is self serving and corrupt, then you have your head up your own ass a lot further than I ever imagined. For a council person to vote against everything the corrupt regime offers up would be a lot more sound policy than to vote for what the representative thinks is best for Ogden. If Godfrey is promoting it, then it almost certainly is for the benefit of his cronies and to the detriment of the citizens of Ogden. That is just the way he is, and if you don't know that by now, well it doesn't speak well of your intelligence - which you are so proud of and arrogant about.

Dan S. said...

Curm: Well, so much for my "straw man" accusation. Now "Sick of Curm" has shown that your straw man actually exists.

Go ahead and knock him down. Shouldn't take more than a line or two.

Curmudgeon said...


You wrote: "And as a voter, I also care about the reasons."

You apparently didn't notice that my original post dealt only with a council member facing a decision on how to vote on the override. Period.

Of course as a voter I'd want to know if Hizzonah was doing favors for his contributors. That's information that should go into any voter's evaluation of what kind of job this mayor, any mayor, had done. And it'd be legit campaign fodder as well. [And you might recall I've posted her frequently over the last several years regarding this administration's unfortunate tendency toward cronyism -- Bootjack, etc.]

But as a Council member facing a vote, what would matter to me would be the Mayor's stated reasons for his veto. Do they make sense? [No, as a matter of fact, they don't.] Are they convincing? [No, it seems clear to me, they are not.] Is the ordinance a good one for Ogden? [Yes, I think it is.]. Case closed. Speculating 'til the cows come home about other possible -- even probable -- reasons he voted it, however much fun it might be, however much it might reveal about Hizzonah's thin grasp of what ethical conduct requires of a public man, wouldn't and shouldn't come into the calculation.

Curmudgeon said...

Well, Sick, I normally don't reply to posts that sink frequently to name calling ["really stoopid statement!...Curm, you're the kind of fool...your mental have your head up your own ass... arrogant..".etc.]

But since Dan S. inexplicably seems to consider your name-calling rant a serious contribution to the discussion, I'll make an exception.

Hizzonah has for some years, and recently again this last budget year, supported city funds to improve the trail system in Ogden, including construction of tunnels under roads, bridges, linking up trails, etc. He's worked with Weber Pathways to that end [and organization which includes many people who campaigned against him in this last election, myself among them]. The trails system extensions and improvements involve construction [construction companies are major supporters of his], and they are also supported by some of the sports companies he takes pleasure in saying he brought to Ogden, and who have generally supported his administration. [Amer sports, etc.] Thus an example of proposals he supported that aided some of his supporters and were good for Ogden.

The Mayor was an early and ardent supporter of bringing Frontrunner to Weber County and Ogden... something strongly supported by the Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce [which has been a consistent supported of Hizzonah's administration]. And since I think Frontrunner has been, and will continue to be, good for Ogden City, it's an example of something that served his supporters, and Ogden, well.

I'd add that his Administration's role in luring Amer sports to Ogden, and some of the others, are also examples of things that benefited his supporters and were good for Ogden.

You asked for a real-world example. I've given you three. Recall that all I claimed was the sometimes --- not always, not every time, just sometimes --- what is good for the Mayor's backers is also good for Ogden.

If you want a list of real-world examples of proposals that benefited his supports that did not benefit Ogden, I have a longer list [Bootjack, the Windsor hotel fiasco, just for openers.]

I hope you're not expecting only to see on WCF opinions you agree with. Things get pretty boring when all that happens is folks going round saying "yeah, I think so too!" But maybe you prefer that in a public affairs blog. I don't.

Now, if you want to keep confusing name-calling with discussion, you'll have to carry on this thread with Dan, I guess, if he's willing. I'm not.

Dan S. said...


You wrote: "You apparently didn't notice that my original post dealt only with a council member facing a decision on how to vote on the override. Period."

Of course I noticed that. You're the one who interpreted the comments of City Employee and Dot Connector in terms of what the council should consider before voting. Yet neither of them ever said that, or even mentioned the city council, for that matter. Just because you want to restrict the discussion to that question doesn't mean I have to.

You also wrote: "...Dan S. inexplicably seems to consider your name-calling rant a serious contribution to the discussion..."

Baloney. I was merely acknowledging that I had been wrong in claiming that nobody held the ridiculous view that you were originally arguing against. You are the one who seems to take "Sick of Curm" seriously, as evidenced by the length of your response.

Curm, I'm growing weary of being told what I think, what I've noticed, and so on. You've done this repeatedly, and it doesn't add to the discussion.

Curmudgeon said...


You wrote: Baloney. I was merely acknowledging that I had been wrong in claiming that nobody held the ridiculous view that you were originally arguing against.

Sorry, Dan. I mis-read your post. My apologies. Mis-reading something does not constitute "telling you what you think." It merely means I mis-read something. Appreciate your pointing out my mistake.

Dan S. said...

Curm: Thank you. Now, getting back to the discussion, you said "... Case closed." I take this to mean that you think the upcoming vote will be easy for the council members, so there's no need for them to consider the mayor's conflicts of interest (even if there are any, and if someone can demonstrate that they exist).

But I already addressed that argument in my 1:21 post, second-to-last paragraph (starting with "Perhaps..."). Could you please reread that paragraph and respond?

getting dizzy with google said...

Anonymous dot connector: "Trying to connect dots between Vault and Godfrey. Trail keeps leading to Laron T. Zaugg. Can't find connection to Godfrey. Can anyone help?"

Laron Zaugg = Certified Gondolist.

Dot Connector said...

Getting Dizzy: Not surprising. But doesn't prove much. Anything else?

Curmudgeon and Dan S.: While you offer opinions, I seek facts.

google addict said...

The Historic Kiesel Building for sale

Laron Zaugg on Facebook

Laron Zaugg on Twitter

Laron Zaugg was disciplined by the Real Estate Commission

ozboy said...

Mr. Curmudgeon

It is always interesting when you and Dan tangle with each other. You are both rather formidable intellects for sure.

In your answer to the poster who apparently doesn't appreciate you like most of us do, I would like to point out that you gave three examples where the tax payers of Ogden, along with his cronies, actually benefited from mayoral actions . I would humbly suggest that these are rare exceptions and that the mayoral motive for them was not to benefit the tax payers, but his pals and his own fantasies. I believe that whenever the citizens benefit from Godfrey's actions it is purely coincidental.

I also sort of agree that a council person would have a lot better chance of being on the right side, the tax payers side, of any given issue if they arbitrarily voted against everything the mayor put forth. Yes, I know that sounds awfully Republican of me, but the little dude just seems so consistently incompetent and dishonest that he simply cannot be trusted on any issue anytime anyplace. There is virtually always a hidden agenda with him.

The Boss of You All said...

I honestly don't know why you people are so hard on me. I'm just a normal guy from Harrisville, struggling to make your town better.

pole cat said...

I am of the mind that most of Godfrey's ploys right now are being hatched to set precedents for the inevitable court challenge when he summarily disposes of the bench land.

The veto battles are just a set up to give CP the bench.

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