Sunday, June 13, 2010

Boss Godfrey Seeks Blanket Executive Carte Blanche to Spend Grants and Donations

We'll predict that the Council can iron it all out in about two minutes

If this was a dictatorship it would be a heck of a lot easier ... just as long as I am the dictator.
President George Bush
Bush "Dictator" Gaffe
October 29, 2002

Earlier this morning we received a comment from Dan S., which has stimulated some interest in one of our earlier lower comment sections. Here's the observation we received from Dan:

"Sound the alarms. According to today's S-E, Godfrey now wants the authority to spend grants and donations on projects of his choice with zero council oversight."

Here's the Standard-Examiner story, where the issue is buried beneath this headline:
Ogden pickleball courts have to clear a hurdle
The "problem" involves a $40,000 John Gullo donation, for the construction of four "pickleball courts" at Mt. Ogden Park. It seems that such a donation requires a formal council amendment of Ogden City's Capital Improvement Plan, which is apparently making our ever-petulant Emerald City Mayor mighty sore. Lord knows he hates to lower himself to what he probably percieves as groveling before the Council for even the slightest and most reasonable concessions.

And here's the paragraph which evidently caught Dan's attention:
There have been several instances where playground equipment valued at more than $10,000 has been donated to city parks without a CIP amendment, Godfrey said. He would like to see the CIP amendment ordinance changed so individuals don't encounter bureaucratic red tape when they make donations.
Uh-oh...

The article goes on to say that "The city council is discussing the possibility of changing the parameters for donations requiring a CIP amendment," According to Council Director Bill Cook.

We'll go on record as opposing any grant of authority to bypass existing procedures regarding the disbursement of donations and grants, regardless of the source or intent. As everybody knows, when you're dealing with man like Godfrey, "give him an inch and he'll take an mile," as the old saying goes.

There's nothing wrong with having Godfrey present this problem at the next regularly scheduled Council meeting, in our view. We'll predict that the Council can iron it all out in about two minutes, without ceding unnecessarily broad discretionary spending authority to Godfrey.

Checks and balances, folks. That's what American government is supposed to be all about.

The floor is open for any readers who'd like to engage in some late discussion of this extremely fascinating issue.

23 comments:

Biker Babe said...

only enough dough for the Velodrome to pay for the promoter lady who came for the bike ride ... and now he wants dough for

PICKLEBALL COURTS

What the ^$&% is Pickleball and who is going to pay to maintain them?!?!?!

Wasn't Hizzonah crying about the Mt.Ogden GC/park not bringing in revenue? Now he wants to put in more stuff that is going to have maintenance costs that I'm sure Mr. Gullo doesn't want to pay on a yearly basis .... more fodder for the hits against Mt. Ogden GC and the desire to spend millions on it to make it pay

Stephen M. Cook said...

Meanwhile, nearly every location of children's playground equipment in the city of Ogden is lacking critical parts, some dangerously; or have cracked plastic on the childrens slides, again dangerously; and have numerous other maintenance issues, usually looking like the repairs that are completed were done a decade ago by someone using parts they obtained on a scavenger hunt.

An example is the play-set within a stones throw of the Mayors office, this one has metal bars hanging at 3 year-olds eye-socket height - coming up out of the sand.
Very dangerous.

And now, we are putting in the likes of Shuffle-Boards, Rock-Paper-Scissors Kiosks, Kick Ball Diamonds, Unicycle Hockey Fields, Extreme Ironing Venues, Bossaball Fields, GaGa Creases, Wife Carrying Tracks, Pesapallo Allys or whatever...

Lets learn to afford and maintain what we have, before we give more away to those who enjoy "specialty sports".

On a brighter note, it looks like a local business man is putting a Head Shop where the old Celtic Satanic Witch Store used to be: Capricorns Lair. Right on Washington across from The Egyptian Theater.

Nice to know that someone knows what sells, and how to make a profit in a soft economy; without borrowing a dime of taxpayers money. Capricorns Lair was successful for 13 or more years at that location, and did not even have a parking garage or wave pool.

Dean Moriarty said...

If the pickel ball courts are so good and a benefit to Ogden city why doesn"t Mr. Gullo spend his own money to build the courts. It sounds like a wonderful business opportunity. It would involve the private sector and contribute another job creating opportunity for Ogden city residents. If successful the tax revenue would enrich the city coffers. This sounds like Matthew Godfrey using city funds to pay back a crony for bailing him out of the ice tower fiasco.

LeRoy Parker said...

How long after the pickel ball courts are built before Godfrey gives them away?

here we go again said...

Just watch. Next we'll see a big push from Ogden's business leaders and yuppie promoters to push pickleball as the next high adventure sport. Kym Buttschardt will appear in a video playing pickleball. Shane Osguthorpe will design a logo for the facility. The GOAL Foundation will organize a pickeball festival, with much assistance from Jay Lowder and other city staff. Dave Hardman will stand up at city council meetings and say how excited he is about pickleball and all the businesses that this will attract to Ogden. The city will hire a public relations firm to push the story on national and international news media, and then we'll see articles in the New York Times and Sports Illustrated promoting Ogden as the Pickeball Mecca of the West.

Dan S. said...

The tone of this article bothered me a great deal. The unstated assumption is that the pickleball courts are a good idea and that once the mayor gives his approval for a project like this, any involvement by the city council is just bureaucratic red tape.

That's not the way our government is supposed to work. It is the city council's job to set policy. If the mayor has an idea, he needs to bring it to the city council first and ask them to pass the appropriate policy legislation. He simply does not have the authority to "approve" such a project.

Some folks might ask what the city has to lose, given that Gullo is promising to pay for the facility. The obvious answer in this case is that we would lose a piece of prime park land that could potentially be put to better uses. There would also be some long-term cost for maintaining the courts. But even without these factors, as a matter of principle, it should be the city council that sets policy for use of the city's public facilities--not the mayor.

Curmudgeon said...

Rudi wrote:

As everybody knows, when you're dealing with man like Godfrey, "give him an inch and he'll take an mile," as the old saying goes.

I don't think the issue should be decided on the basis of its being Matt Godfrey who would have, if the Council submits on this, unchecked authority to approve donation-backed projects. Dan S. immediately above has the right way to look at it. Regardless of who is or who might become mayor, what's being proposed is a bad idea:

as a matter of principle, it should be the city council that sets policy for use of the city's public facilities--not the mayor.

Exactly. I don't know enough about the sport or demand for it [reported to be growing, particularly among the long-of-tooth set] to know if public courts would be a good recreational choice for Ogden parks. But that should not be decided by the city's executive office, unchecked by the legislative branch.

As Rudi notes, checks and balances is not mere red tape. It is a key provision of American government at nearly every level [or should be] and it should not be surrendered as the principle by which Ogden City makes important decisions.

Jennifer said...

PICKLEBALL

okay, all of a sudden he forgets (AGAIN) the role of the city council in the council/mayor government that is Ogden City: CC approves projects, Mayor decides how to do them.

he reminds me of a kid who makes a mess in one room playing with his car set .. tires of the game and moves to another room with his legos .. only to tire of that building project and move to another room with his play-dough creation station .. only to forget that he's out of purple play dough and move to another room to begin a papier mache pinata project.

Finish up one thing, clean it up and make sure it works, then you can play with something else!

It might be an amusing story if it weren't the people of Ogden and their money he is playing with ...

TLJ

Biker Babe said...

Macbeth :
I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself,
And falls on th'other. . . .
Macbeth Act 1, scene 7. 25–28

translated:

Godfrey: there is no real justification for the *crime* [the bleeding of ideas into the streets] - he can only draw on an intense desire for power and control - and this desire "vaults" beyond it intrinsic limits to land somewhere unknown and beyond reason.

js,
BB

Curmudgeon said...

Jennifer:

You've picked out the most remarkable thing about the Mayor's announcement on this: that he didn't know the Council had to approve a change in the capital improvements budget involving this much money. He's been Mayor coming up on a decade and he didn't know? I see only two ways to explain his remarkable statement: (a) he did know, and he's dissembling now or (b) he truly didn't know, in which case he's dealing with incompetent staff work. Either way, not something likely to spur confidence in the citizenry.

However, TLJ, then you go too far. Arguing that a relatively small addition to the parks should be on hold until the Mayor finishes all other projects currently under way is a formula for gridlock. There's no reason the moribund River Project, for example, should prevent the Mayor's presenting Mr. Gullo's offer to pay for the pickleball courts in Mt. Ogden Park to the Council for its consideration. And there's no reason the Council, should it decide (a) the courts would be a good addition to the recreational mix on offer, and (b)that the proposed location is a good one, and (c) that maintaining the courts could be done at a reasonable and acceptable annual cost, should not accept Mr. Gullo's generous offer to pay for the construction.

The point is, this is a matter the Mayor is entitled to propose to the Council, and one the Council should consider, examine and decide.

Jennifer said...

Curmy:

ok, relatively small park *additions* maybe could be done in tandem with another project ...

BUT -

someone mentioned broken and dangerous playground equipment in an earlier comment

Hizzonah should think about his obligations to the people (and children) of Ogden City by Proposing to replace the aging and dangerous playground equipment ... then when things are fixed and safe and there is economic room for tossing around strangely named game court ideas, can he propose the pickleball thing.

I dunno, seems to make sense to me ...

TLJ

Curmudgeon said...

Jennifer:

If the Mayor was proposing to shunt money from the parks and recreation maintenance budget to build the pickleball courts, I'd be with you on this 100% of the way. But this money is going to be donated by a citizen, not taken out of other budgets. Mr. Gullo did not offer the money for repairs on playground equipment. He offered it for the pickleball courts. People offering to give money to the city for public projects --- a trend I heartily encourage --- get to say what projects they want their money used for. If the city government [Mayor and Council] decide the project is worthwhile, they should accept the money and thank Mr. Gullo. If the city government [Mayor or Council] decide the courts at MO park would not be in the public interest, they should politely say "Thanks, but no thanks." Kind of tacky for them to say "We'd love your money, but we want to spend it on something else, not what you're giving it for."

Mr. Gullo has made a generous offer: he'll pay to build the courts at Mt. Ogden Park. The Mayor has approved the plan. If... if... the Council examines the idea and concludes it's a good one, fine with me, and thanks to Mr. Gullo.

Dan S. said...

Curm: You're assuming that Gullo's offer arrived fully formed, out of the blue, on the mayor's desk. But that's not usually how these things work. More likely the offer grew out of a conversation, in which the mayor could have at least hinted that the city had other priorities. Recall that the last time Gullo made a five-figure donation, if just happened to be earmarked for the ice tower deficit, to solve an existing problem that the administration had created.

In any case, I fully agree with Jennifer's larger point: The mayor has shown time and again that he would rather pursue new "outside the box" schemes than support the city's existing facilities, or even finish his own earlier projects.

That said, we should probably acknowledge that the river parkway was recently finished, and the dog park is coming along.

Jennifer said...

Curm, I didn't really intend to suggest that Gullo's money be used for fixing the playgrounds ... rather that the playgrounds s/b priority for proposal and budget appropriation ahead of pickleball, donated monies or not.

If the mayor and gullo are discussing spending some donated bucks on city parks, why not ask about donations for playground equipment - it is not a selfish request; pickleball on the other hand ... how many fans do you know of the game, besides gullo? Is he in the habit of playing with himself? ;-)

TLJ

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:

You wrote:

Curm: You're assuming that Gullo's offer arrived fully formed, out of the blue, on the mayor's desk. But that's not usually how these things work. More likely the offer grew out of a conversation, in which the mayor could have at least hinted that the city had other priorities.

Sorry, but I don't see what difference any of that makes --- whether Mr.Gullo's offer arrived out of the blue, fully developer, or he's been chatting about it with the Mayor for weeks. If the latter, we don't know what the conversations involved. All that matters, seems to me, is that Mr.Gullo made the offer, the Mayor has approved of it, and now it should go to the Council, which should (a) reject out of hand the Mayor's request that such matters should be decided by executive fiat in the future and (b) consider the offer on its merits and decide to accept or reject it. As for Mt. Gullo's donation to cover the Mayor's bumbling away thousands on his year-round-out-door-downtown-popsicle pipe dream, as I said before, I'm pleased that Mr. Gullo ponied up the cash to cover it so the taxpayers in general didn't have to. Thank you, again, Mr. Gullo for that.

TLJ's point about finishing projects before starting new ones is, as you note, a sound one, when applied to major city investments in major projects that are "outside the box" [which I take to mean "creatively-financed and highly speculative"]. [The Junction, The River Project.] It's not convincing as an argument that nothing new should be undertaken until all existing projects have been completed... which is the point I tried to make.

Curmudgeon said...

TLJ:

Until my AARP GeezerMag arrived last week, I'd never heard of pickleball. What I know about it comes exclusively from the AARP GeezerMag piece:


Pickup Pickleball

Are you in a pickle about exercise? Try pickleball, a hybrid of badminton and tennis that is all the rage at retirement communities and state Senior Games. “It’s good exercise, easy to learn and fun,” says David Johnson, media relations chair for the USA Pickleball Association. “It can be played indoors or outdoors, singles or doubles, is easy for beginners to learn but can develop into a fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players.” The game, played with a whiffle ball and large paddles, will be celebrated June 1-7 during International Pickleball Week. The sport is named for a co-inventor’s dog.


Which at least answered the burning question of where the hell the name came from.

Suitable for a city park? I don't know. It's the sort of question the Mayor should address when he makes his recommendation to the Council, and the Council should look into.

But before some here dismiss the notion that exercise venues for those of us approaching middle age belong in rest homes and Senior Villages not public parks, I'd remind folks of the great heart-burning that went up in WCF when Hizzonah aimed at transferring the pool at the Marshall White Center to private operators who, they said, intended to shut it down in order to have more classroom space. There was much weeping and moaning and gnashing of teeth right here on WCF about what the old folks who regularly exercised in the pool --- water aerobics I think --- would do if it closed, etc. etc.

The courts, if donated, may be a good idea. May not. I don't know. All I'm saying is that Council should look into it and decide on the merits, and that it should not give any mayor, the authority to decide such matters by executive fiat.

Dan S. said...

Curm: No, even now, and even for the council, those aren't the only options. The city also has the option of trying to negotiate with Mr. Gullo to steer his generosity toward something more useful. And before his offer was made public, that option was even more viable.

Viktor said...

This Pickleball madness actually goes way way back with the little Peckerhead. Back to one of his first jobs at a fast food joint. You see, he got caught sticking his little wacker in a pickle slicer - "just to be the first to see what it felt like" he explained at the time.

The results was that both of them were fired.

Henry Drummond said...

So the mayor and one of his groupies spend a lot of time figuring out what to donate? to a city park. When the mayor is informed of the illegality of the decisioin he wants the city council to approve his desire. It would be helpful to learn when the discussion first began between Gullo and Godfrey. This is yet another example of the mayor rushing into a decision, not complining with appropriate law and attempting to rush the city council into approving his whim. It would be appropriate for Gullo to explain to the council his reasoning, and who will be responsible for related costs. Godfrey fully believes in getting forgiveness for his actions, which the council usually gives, instead of seeking permission for his whims.

ozboy said...

Henry

In relation to the gift from Gullo, I say remember grandma's advice and "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth"

If Gullo wants to pony up a pile of money as a gift to the city, what the hell? Good on him, he seems like a fine fellow from what I hear, in spite of his absolutely horrid taste in Mayor pals.

Curmudgeon said...

Oz:

Yup. Exactly. Provided, of course, both the Mayor and the Council agree that the project for which he offered the money would be a good one to add to the city's park and recreation mix.

Horace Rumpole said...

John Gullo is a smart astute businessman who does not give up something without a reason. I believe that he is currying favor with the mayor. There could be certain tax advantages in his gift of a pickel ball court to the city. It is unfortunate but prudent to be very cautious when dealing with schemes favoured by Matthew Godfrey.

Biker Babe said...

Horace: *I believe that [gullo] is currying favor with the mayor.* ... *It is unfortunate but prudent to be very cautious when dealing with schemes favoured by Mathew Godfrey.*


GEE ... YA THINK?????

JS
BB

Post a Comment

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