Friday, April 02, 2010

Standard-Examiner: The Lumpencitizens of Ogden aren't On the Hook For a Single Dime of Greiner's Hatch Act Lawsuit - Not Yet Anyway

Write your City Council and the Little Lord on Nine and let them know that the Taxpayers of Ogden City will not stand for the expenditure of a single Ogden Taxpayer Dime on the further pursuit of this litigation

For the third day running, Scott Schwebke reveals, in a new Standard-Examiner story, important new information about the circumstances surrounding Senator/Chief Greiner's Hatch Act litigation. Various stories have reported that the taxpayers of Ogden may have been picking up the tab for this protracted litigation; and WCF readers have expressed their fears that the taxpayers may have been hit hard in the process. This morning's Scott Schwebke story delves into the details regarding the source of funds for the financing of this lawsuit, and (among other things) offers this somewhat heartening information regarding the Emerald City Lumpencitizens' current financial exposure, as the Ogden City Administration considers the possibility of taking the matter up on appeal. Up until now, according to Mr. Schwebke's report, it appears that Ogden City's "risk management carrier" (not a true insurance company) has been picking up the entire tab, which is good news for Ogden taxpayers, we believe:
The Utah Risk Management Mutual Association, the city's insurance carrier, is paying Jim Bradshaw, a lawyer defending Greiner, and Stan Preston, an attorney representing the city administration, Patterson said.
Bradshaw and Preston could not be reached for comment Thursday regarding how much URMMA has paid them.
Jim Fisher, claims and litigation manager for URMMA, declined to disclose amounts paid to Bradshaw and Preston because the Hatch Act case is still active
Ron Ball, Ogden's risk manager, said Thursday he doesn't know how much has been spent on legal fees because attorneys used by the city typically bill URMMA directly..
Ogden City risk manager Ron Ball also offers this interesting additional observation, which anticipates a question we're sure many of us would be asking, even in the event that Ogden City might not seek future relief through the appellate court(s):
The Hatch Act case shouldn't increase the city's annual insurance premium with URMMA, Ball said. Premiums are based on the city's size and number of employees and not on individual claims, he said. The city's URMMA premium in 2009 was about $210,000.
Whether Mr. Ball's assurances are accurate we do not know, but our own experience with insurance companies who've paid out substantial claims leaves us in some doubt. Does URMMA have contractual or statutory authority to raise Ogden City's premiums going forward? Can URMMA simply exercise the power cancel Ogden City's coverage? In our view Mr. Schwebke has insufficiently researched this question; and we're not entirely satisfied that Ogden City taxpayers will be held entirely harmless for the costs and expanses of the unsuccessful litigation to date.

Nevertheless we'll go out on a limb and say "so far, so good" (we hope), even though we don't have a hint about the true costs of this litigation.

A second set of separate questions also arises as Ogden moves forward, considers keeping Greiner in place as Ogden City Police Chief and contemplates filing an appeal, of course:

Is URMMA, (which is a state-funded risk management fund, and NOT a true insurance company) contractually or statutorily compelled to continue financing this litigation, in the event that Ogden City officials unilaterally decide to pursue an appeal? According to this morning's story, Administrative Law Judge Lana Parke made a "finding of fact" that "Greiner violated the Hatch Act because he signed off on (initialled) a half-dozen federal grants valued at more than $1 million already in place during his successful 2006 campaign for the state Senate." As a general rule, appeals based on allegedly erroneous findings of fact are usually a tough uphill fight. Here's a brief summary of the problem from Answers.com:
On appeal, a question of fact is treated differently than a question of law. If an appellant alleges that the fact finder incorrectly decided questions of fact, an appeals court will give deference to the fact finder's decisions. The fact finder gets to see and hear all the evidence and thus is in a better position to make factual determinations than is the appeals court. If an appellant claims that the trial judge incorrectly decided a question of law, however, the appeals court will examine the trial judge's ruling more carefully. Essentially, it is more difficult to overturn a verdict based on a question of fact than a verdict based on a question of law. [Emphasis added].
Our guess is that the underlying administrative court case turned on Judge Parke's finding of fact, and that unless there exist other fatal errors of law in the underlying trial court matter, the State funded URMMA will not be inclined (rationally, at least) to further underwrite an appeal of this matter.

This raises this additional question, of course. In the event that URMMA declines to provide further funding for this lawsuit, and the Ogden Administration nevertheless decides to keep Greiner on the City payroll and move forward with an appeal, WHO will be on the hook to finance this litigation henceforth?

You got it folks! Vous!

Write your City Council and the Little Lord on Nine and let them know that the Taxpayers of Ogden City will not stand for the expenditure of a single Ogden Taxpayer Dime on the further pursuit of this lawsuit:
Contact Local Officials
You know what to do... do it on the internet...

We'll also note in passing that we believe, unlike many WCF readers, that Chief Greiner has been well justified in pursuing this litigation, so long as he remained in the Senate race. We believe that acts of civil disobedience in the face of government tyranny are part of the fabric of liberty in America; and up until now we've believed Chief Greiner has "fought the good fight." Now that The Chief has however voluntarily removed himself from the Sen 18 race, and acquiesced to an overbearing federal agency (the Office of Special Counsel) in depriving Weber County voters of the opportunity to vote for him in November, this can no longer can be rationally deemed in any manner to be "the lumpencitizens' fight," in our opinion.

Having said that, we'll turn the floor over to our gentle readers.

22 comments:

OgdenLover said...

Come on, Rudi. When Greiner first ran for the Senate seat, he signed documents which he knew could cause a legal problem. He could have had an assistant sign for him, but no, he had to be the big man and ask for trouble.

Even if you and he don't like the law of the land, he is supposed to uphold it. He didn't. Painting him as a patriot is just plain demented. If he truly cared about principle, he might consider fighting this with his (or his wife's) own nickle, not ours.

blackrulon said...

I guess that one of the principal questions of the next mayoral election will be "Should Jon Greiner be retained as Ogden Chief of Police?. Is it possible for the city council to reduce Greiners salary to $1.00 per year to save an amount equal to the cost of his staying on the job is met? I guess that there is no one else available on the police force or elsewhere who has the skills and abilities to lead the police department.

RudiZink said...

"If he truly cared about principle, he might consider fighting this with his (or his wife's) own nickle, not ours."

Precisely right, OgdenLover.

Thus we're urging everyone to express this view to our fiscally prudent city council, and our big spending mayor.

RudiZink said...

"I guess that there is no one else available on the police force or elsewhere who has the skills and abilities to lead the police department."

LOL! Rumor has it that Ogden police lieutenant Scott Conley might be interested in such a high-level police administrative job.

Curmudgeon said...

Rudi:

Right about the news in the story. Good reporting, though the question of whether the city would have to pay for Double-Dip's legal bills stemming from his arrogant refusal to step aside when it was first ruled that he was violating the Hatch Act by being a part-time police chief in Ogden and a part-time state senator in Salt Lake has been out there for a long time. Wish I'd known that the city's insurer was picking up the tab earlier. But I'm glad to know it now and happy the dinero hasn't been coming out of Ogden City's strained coffers.

blackrulon said...

Rudi. Isn't Scott Conley, lieutant OPD, also another police officer who has retired and was rehired back to his old job? There must be someone somewhere who likes his or her job enough not to retire from the job?

another elected official said...

It is time to stop the madness and get us out of this misery. Greiner You need to go, You need to pay the legal bills, this was all your doing and stand up and be accountable to the rest of us that have had to put up with your nonsense. Where is your integrity when it comes to your action. Do you not know that if you were any man of character, you would do what is in the best interest of the public, and not what is in the best interest of your self. You are in a position of public trust and that you can not be trusted anymore. You Broke the law and must pay the penalty just as all the people that you have arrested over the years have had to do. So I will call for your resignation This is what I believe is the right thing to do. SO DO IT NOW!

peterball said...

Rudi:
Your misguided statements against government tyranny miss the point. If you think the law is wrong your effort needs to be spent on changing the law. Using you logic all citizens could selectively obey laws as they see fit. We don't because we personally would bare the consequences of that disobedience. Greiner bares none of the pain for his disregard of the multiple judicial hearings that repeatedly found him in violation. This has gone on long enough, Greiner has to go.

viktor said...

Rudi, Rudi, Rudi

You wrote: "depriving Weber County voters of the opportunity to vote for him in November"

I think you are neglecting the impact of the voters in this senate district from Davis County. If it were left up to the voters of Weber and/or Ogden then Greiner would not and could not win this race. He only won because the legislature gerrymandered the district to include North Davis which is heavy on GOP voters. Without this un-ethical manipulation of the district it would at least be a fair race between the parties.

Greiner is a person of low integrity as is his boss Godfrey. Especially laughable in the article is where Godfrey said what a great Chief Greiner is. That of course is because Greiner is his lap dog and henchman in dealing with people who speak out against Godfrey or his administration - ie the Matt Jones affair as well as the case where the now former Ogden cop made the report on Godfrey slugging his wife.

With Godfrey and Greiner - the twin relics of corruption - in power, we can only pity the poor souls who pay the price for their arrogance and incompetence.

Thad said...

All public monies spent, from the day he was advised that his actions would be illegal, right up though this week, should re-paid by Senator Greiner. He should get on back here to Ogden, and do what he still loves to do. Or resign, and lets get another Sheriff Badass in here to crack down on crime, and protect the citizens in these dicey times.

oldtimer said...

What a bucket of brine shrimp poop to think that no one but Greiner is qualified to be police chief.

Find some one looking for a job and import them if we have to.

Out of the official nationwide 9% unemployment rate which in actuality is closer to 20% unemployed, there is a qualified candidate for police chief waiting to be found.

Spend a few bucks and run some ads.

Better yet, talk to the people at Weber State who teach Police Science about some of their graduates who have actually had some training in law enforcement. Didn't Greiner learn how by on-the-job-training?

Don't fall for the Godfrey-Greiner propaganda machine work that is running 36 hours a day on this.

Maybe that hardnosed Sheriff in Arizona that puts his prisoners in pink underwear can recommend someone.

belle said...

As somebody who has worked for local, state, and federal gov't agencies I must say that the Chief had to have known that running for partisan office would lead to these types of consequences. Whether one agrees w/ the Hatch Act or not. If Greiner did not know such acts would be a problem, then his head (or ego) is way up in the clouds and he probably isn't suited to lead our police department. I would be outraged if any of my tax dollars were spent to "fix" this problem GREINER himself has created.

OgdenLover said...

Just because the State insurance is paying Greiner's bills, it doesn't mean that WE aren't eventually paying for them. If it is a self-insured plan, then we pay with our State taxes. If it's private, we pay the premiums, which could go up at any time.

AWM said...

One interesting thing to ponder. Greiner was forced to choose between power (as a state senator)and money...in the end he chose money (and a lesser degree of power as a city chief of police). I'm guessing maint/fuel and storage cost on that $300K+ plane of his must have come into play at one point.

I Say A Little Prayer For You said...

Greiner needs to go now, not sometime down the road, now! He broke the law...period. Stuart Reid is a man without a country and we need to keep this creep out of power. Godfrey should not be able to finish his final two years as mayor simple because of all the lies and misrepresentations he chose to bestow upon the citizens in Ogden. Wake up people and demand that this crooked bunch of assholes reap what they sowed. Whatever you choose, DO NOT LET THEM CONTINUE TO SCREW YOU AND TAKE YOUR MONEY. Amen.

what would jesus say said...

Amen!

Protect and Serve said...

The only officers on the OPD that like the chief or who think he is good in the job are his close suck ups. The vast majority of the officers think he is an incompetent and petty tyrant who treats us with contempt and arrogance. When he leaves there sure won't be any tears shed in the department. The only person who is hated more around here is the mayor himself.

Just wondering said...

Does anyone know why Ogden City Administration pays a private attorney, Stan Preston, from Snow, Christensen, and Martineau, an expensive, elite, Salt Lake private law firm? Seems to me this might be city attorney turf?

Also, I find it interesting that the attorney representing Greiner, Jim Bradshaw, has a practice mainly focusing on criminal defense and white collar crime.

Just wondering said...

...which I guess isn't so surprising. However, he is also an expensive, private attorney (SP).

Why does the city pay for elite private attorneys? Someone smarter than me please fill me in. Thank you.

Just wondering said...

. . . or why would the state insurance fund pay these elite private attorneys? Why wouldn't they, say, contract with the state attorney general or city attorneys?

blackrulon said...

Just wondering. There are reasons why the city or state hires expensive private attornies to contest these legal challenges. One is that it is easy to spend money when someone else (taxpayers) are footing the bill. Another reason is that despite city attorney Gary Williams dream he cannot simply announce "the problem has been cured" and the case is solved.

just a cop said...

Scott Conley would be a better Chief of Police for Ogden City. He's definitely more personable and just flat out, SMARTER than Greiner!!!

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