Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday Morning Emerald City News Roundup

Lucky for Boss Godfrey that his predecessor, Mayor Mecham, had the foresight to nail down the "Cash Cow" BDO parcel, we guess.

From this morning's Standard-Examiner we learn of Boss Godfrey's latest multi-million dollar pet project, five (count 'em, 5) downtown parking garages, the Little Lord's apparent Obsession Du Jour:
Godfrey: More parking garages necessary to support Ogden offices and retail space
According to Mr. Schwebke, Godfrey wants to commit "$7.1 million over the next decade to fund the municipality's share of the $20.3 million garage project... to help finance construction of five parking garages,"

"People leasing office and retail space aren't going to enter the market if we can't provide places to park," Boss Godfrey suddenly discovers, ten years into his Mayoral term of office.

Notably, "the administration is asking the city council to authorize up to $900,000 annually in Business Depot Ogden lease revenue to fund the municipality's share of the $20.3 million garage project."

And while we're on the topic of grand Boss Godfrey projects, The Deseret News reports that the little Lord has figured out a way to blow a slightly more modest chunk of taxpayer cash:
Ogden mayor proposes study of wintertime activities at city golf course
Predictably, DNews reporter Brice Wallace informs us that, surprise of surprises, "[f]unds for the study would come from a portion of Business Depot Ogden lease revenues."

Lucky for Godfrey that his predecessor, Mayor Mecham, had the foresight to nail down the "Cash Cow" BDO parcel, we guess.

So what say our gentle readers about all this?

33 comments:

more debt said...

Give away a parking garage and build five? He is truley a genius at running the city into massive debt.

Curmudgeon said...

The major rationale for shedding the public parking garage downtown behind the conference center was that it was hemorrhaging money, that it cost more to operate, repair and maintain than the city took in in parking fees. Hence, the argument went, shedding it meant plugging a recurring hole in the budget.

I don't want to rehash that decision --- done deal, water under the bridge, etc. But the whole experience with that public garage ought to raise questions that I hope the Council will want answers to before it approves another long term speculative bonding project. Or five of them. To build garages.

1. The garage the city gave away was a pay-garage. Will the new garages be pay garages or will they provide free parking? What kind of difference on the probable success of the garages and the businesses they serve will the answer to that question make? [I've seen people drive a couple of blocks to find a free parking space rather than pay to park closer to their destination. I do it myself. ]

2. Pay or free, who will be responsible for maintaining and repairing these garages? The city or private owners? How can we be sure the new garages will not end up driving new holes in the city's budget as the now-MarketStar garage did?

3. We're told now that folks won't bring businesses to downtown Ogden to occupy our depressingly long list of vacant stores until we provide close-in parking first. We've had enough experience with this Administration's predictions about what proposed public investment in downtown would do to be very cautious about taking the Mayor at his word again. [We have city-owned close in parking for the Junction, yet rows and rows of retail spaces remain vacant.]And remember, Hizzonah came within one vote of saddling the city with all the costs of two more floors of prime office space on top of the still not fully-leased south office block at the Junction because he was certain Ogden was going to have a dearth of prime office space and the floors would lease lickety-split. Not a doubt in his mind.] I don't want to rehearse all the examples yet again. But given that experience, is there any research to show that this time he's right when he says "if we build it, they will come?" Perhaps it would be wise for the Council to commission a market study by a firm that is not associated with the Administration or any of the companies seeking city-built parking to help them out --- by a firm that does not have a dog in the fight --- to assess the probable impact of the proposed garages, and to do a cost/benefit analysis.

Finally, again bearing on the question of the Godfrey administration's business judgment and whether the Council ought to rely on it, given past performance: in the not too distant past, we were told of the three rehabbed buildings on Washington, that if the city applied stimulus funds to rehab them, they'd be prime properties that retailers would be eager to lease. "If we build it," we were told, "they will come. " They didn't. Hizzonah traveled to Asia and Mexico seeking occupants. Nothing.

Now we're told that the problem is parking, and if we build that they will come. Have to wonder, when the rehab was being touted by the Mayor's crack business development team, did the fact that there was very limited parking at the rehab sites occur to none of them? They didn't notice?

Which should raise caution flags --- I hope --- for the Council as it examines Matthew Godfrey's Rosy Scenario Show, Version 5.6.

Billy Pilgrim said...

Only Matthew Godfrey could justify spending city funds to teach children how to sled down a hill or the best way to stage a snowball fight.

Dorrene Jeske said...

Curmudgeon has very nicely brought to our attention quite of a few of Mayor Godfrey's failings. However, I was too close to the issues and often the point for his acid remarks that my comments below are not as nice. I, too, wish to draw attention to his inability to administer wisely.

Was it Mayor Godfrey’s lack of foresight and maturity or his lack of administrative skill and ability to say “no” to a “bud” or a combination of all of the above that caused him to strongly push giving the central downtown parking garage to Alan Hall? When I questioned doing so, he told me “It’s a no brainer.” It is Godfrey’s favorite ploy to belittle anyone who opposes him on anything.

It is a good thing that I am no longer on the counsel, because I would oppose him again for being so short-sighted. I asked him what the Conference Center, the Eccles Bldg., and Hampton Inn were going to do for parking as they frequently used that parking lot – like everyday! He didn’t care and didn’t have an answer. Now Dave Hardman is saying the Conference Center is hurting because of lack of parking. Duh!

Last summer I drove past the Davis Conference Center four days a week for more than three months. That Conference Center was used almost every day that I drove past it, and I couldn’t help but think of our Conference Center that sat vacant most of the time due to lack of parking.

I suppose his construction projects help the economy? Maybe. But it’s a way for him to pad the pockets of a few of his construction buddies and campaign contributors at the expense of the Ogden taxpayers. When is the council going to have guts enough to tell him that they’ve had it with his “no-brainer” wastefulness, and when are Ogden voters going to open their eyes to his ineptness as a Mayor? Maybe nobody cares – they’re too busy with their own life to pay attention to the stupid, wasteful things that are going on with this administration!

Whoever runs against him next year needs to use this parking fiasco as a campaign issue!

Danny said...

Dorrene,

I agree with your comments, except this one:

"It is a good thing that I am no longer on the counsel"

Wow, I soooo disagree with that one.

---

Regarding parking garages, it's the same old story from Godfrey.

1. My free spending will stimulate the economy.

2. Never mind that my last free spending didn't work. We need new free spending.

3. Repeat, until I get voted out.

As far as his proposed paid study for wintertime sports, people have been suggesting that we use the golf course for that for years. He could get a community committee to study and make recommendations for free. What Godfrey is really doing here is fronting some money to consultant cronies, so they will endorse whatever stupid thing he wants to do in the future. It's all so predictable.

Regarding the mayoral election next year, hey, want to be Ogden mayor?

Do this: Suggest we purchase all remaining bench land to preserve as open space in perpetuity. You will win on that issue alone. Yes, even you could win on that, Godfrey.

Curmudgeon said...

Former Councilwoman Jeske has conveniently raised the question of just who the Mayor's mega-fund projects downtown tend to benefit. On that general topic [who benefits from such RDA projects in urban downtowns], I found an interesting article in the current edition [at your local coffee shoppe now] of SLC's Catalyst magazine. It's by one John DeLong, and entitled "Trolley Follies: Taking the Masses Out of Mass Trnasit." [Link here.] It's largely an argument against Mayor Becker's proposed downtown loop trolley and in favor of a trolley line from TRAX at Central Pointe Station to SugarHouse. But he makes some broader points about urban planning and large downtown RDA projects that apply as well to Ogden, I think.

For example:

The purpose of mass transit it to consistently transfer masses of people, not a handful of tourists from one end of downtown to the other. Ogden's proposed tourist/commuter chair lift [he meant gondola] is the only other local example of "thinking outside the box" urban transit planning gone egregiously stupid.

And:

In the late 1960s cities rushed to create economic development departments and redevelopment agencies. In the intervening 40 years, these bureaucracies have metastasized into warrens of red tape that suffocate small projects and reward well-connected developers. No project goes forward without the blessings of the Redevelopment Agency and the attendant generous tax breaks. Developers and land bankers quickly learned how to game the system.... Like Russian mobsters circling a privatized national monopoly, developers vied for the Blessings of Blight and the Sword of Eminent Domain. The system favors big players voer small players and commercial development voer residential or mixed use.

Sound familiar? The whole article is worth a careful read, and while you're at it, you can ponder whether Ogden would need five large downtown parking garages if Hizzonah had not blocked a trolley line from downtown to WSU via Harrison years ago, hoping to save the route for his gondola obsession. Roads not taken....

To be fair, let me add that the same issue of Catalyst has an article by one Kristin Ulmer that sings the praises of the Salomon Center and of Mayor Godfrey. It's headlined "Ogden is Amazing." [Link here.} From the article:

Yes, Ogden--- that sidekick of a city north of Salt Lake. We're talking about a city with a most unusual downtown: You can skydive, rock climb and, yes, surf, all with nary a plane, rock or ocean in sight. As the story goes, Mayor Matthew Godfrey decided he wanted to create an adventure town --- complete with a downtown recreation mecca -- to lure humans, ski and outdoor companies and investors and the like to move in, and help the city proper. Progressive, savvy; and it worked.

It too is worth a read.

Danny said...

The article says something Godfrey did worked?

It did? What was it? How did it "work"?

Does the dingbat who wrote the article know that we are paying a million a year to subsidize the fun house that "worked"?

nicely done said...

Gee....stimmi spending...sounds kinda demo to me....Maybe he's related to honaboma

Curmudgeon said...

Nicely:

Sorry, but Hizzonah, Mayor Matthew Godfrey, is now and has been for the better part of a decade a card-carrying Utah Republican, however much you may want to pretend otherwise. And as a typical Utah Republican office-holder, he's been trained to respond, like Pavlov's dogs, by conditioned reflex to the cues of Utah's realtor/developer lobby.

nicely done said...

I am not disputing that...just pointing out there is fleecing on both sides...on a federal level it's disgusting...throwing money down a hole trying to stop a crash or depression when the math says no way...same thing locally. Just pointing out that it's note a one sided issue but that seems pointless in the place.

Curmudgeon said...

Nicely:

OK, if you want to argue a long history of foolish and precipitous action on the part of members of both parties on a variety of issues, at every level [urban, state and national] you'll get no argument from me. Though I would dispute your argument that public spending has been proven ineffective in mitigating the impact of a crash or depression over the relatively short to moderate term.

Just Axin said...

Boss Godfrey is a one-trick pony. Borrow and spend is his only strategy, regardless of the precarious condition of the world economy.

Query: With all this BDO lease revenue income, wouldn't it be better applied in paying down Ogden City's massive debt?

Just axin'.

Dan S. said...

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.

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

just sayin

BB

WFB said...

Reading over the last few months of reporting, I think we need a stronger city council, and a fiscal conservative for a mayor. Does Ogden have term limits?

Curmudgeon said...

"Does Ogden have term limits?"

No.

Dexter Green said...

Matthew Godfrey has imposed term limits on appointed citizen advisory boards. Only friends of Matt need aply for these boards.

OneWhoKnows said...

There once was a time in Ogden that parking garages were needed and a privite business called Spencer & Klomps charged for short term parking and they made a shit pot of money and people went downtown everyday. Maybe we shouldn't give those taxpayer garages away to our friends, then build more to use as colaterial for his next scam? You know, Matty only appeals to a certain age group (30 to 40) and the rest of us really think he's a putz and a spoiled brat. Time to remove the pimple on our ass and send him to Orem to live. We want parking for our titty bars!

Machster said...

Curm, I agree with about everything you said on this thread, except: "I would dispute your argument that public spending has been proven ineffective in mitigating the impact of a crash or depression over the relatively short to moderate term."

And I acknowledge that you mention "over the relatively short to moderate term". Which somewhat softens the Keynesian economic theory that Governmental interference in the economy (meaning bailouts and takeovers...which some feel are u not Constitutional) can and will bolster economic activity and create wealth? Or as some synopsize it: "Spending our way out of debt".

Seems to this simpleton that such notions are analogous to "Fornicating for chastity"...and it makes absolutely no sense. Inimicable (to steal Rudi's word) to common sense.

Have bailouts and stimulous trillions worked? Do you think another infinite bailout of mismanaged union pension funds (H.R. 3936, S. 3157) will work over the short or moderate term?

Should the little jerk Mayor be similarly permitted to continue his spending our tax money to "mitigate the impact of a crash or depression over the relatively short to moderate term." ?

Apologies for the out of context quote or shift from National to Local, but still... If Keynesian economic theory is working well nationally, how can it be condemned on a local scale?

I think it is bull shit at both levels and we face expensive "get back to basics" hardships at every level in the very near future, or we will not have a future we can recognize as American.

econ 6040 said...

Taxes have not been lower in 70 years. Running deficits, according to many economists, is not nearly as catastrophic to the economy as those who would benefit from ultra-spartan fiscal policies would have the poor/middle class believe, i.e. large corporations and wall street billionaires.
Large infusions of cash have never rocked the economy in the USA, because we are the global currency of note.

The ones who benefit from even lower taxes are not those who make under 500,000 a year, as those expenses that are cut to justify the decrease will just be passed down to state and municipal levels. The ones who benefit from tight fiscal policies are your overlords.

Don't worship Wall Street and greed. Build what needs to be built, print money to help widows and the truly needy, and stop listening to the propaganda of trillionaires.

nicely done said...

It worked so well in the 30's didn't it?... Gentle Ben Burpnake is a scholar of it yet choses to learn the lesson of government hand outs. How's that unemployment number looking after all the buckle thrown around? You don't get youself out of debt with more debt and funding entilements that have outlived thier original intent and by expanding them. I put little trust in the numbers coming out of DC on unemployment in any event...double counting census workers..nice! Retail numbers last week...bad yet up goes the market .... Which is getting serious intervention from the FX markets.... That can only last so long. Get ready for a S&P of 800 or less by fall.

Curmudgeon said...

Machster:

The local economy is so different in scope and kind than the national economy that I do not think it makes a great deal of sense to say that if Keynesian economics does not work on a macro-economic scale, then necessarily no element of it can work on the local level either. Apples and oranges.

Government investment in some local economic-stimulus projects has worked and can work. I'm leery [it's the historian in me] of claims that any particular approach never works or always does. Categorical claims like that are rarely proven to be so by history.

To keep focused on the local level, let me put it this way: RDA's can work. The problem with major ones in Ogden is they have been poorly planned in many cases, and poorly executed. I remember the first consultants brought in to oversee the plan for old downtown mallsite took one look at the Mayor's favored bowling-alley-rock-climbing-gym centered retail/residential project, and announced it was not likely to succeed. Naturally, Hizzonah replaced those consultants with others less averse to telling him what he wanted to hear. Favoritism [River Project] hasn't helped either. Plus a gambler's tactic of doubling down when the dice come up wrong. [Washington Blvd Rehab projects didn't work, so double down on parking garage]. Doubling down is a good way to get very poor in Vegas or anywhere else very fast.

None of which means carefully planned and competently executed RDAs cannot work or always fail. I don't have so much of a problem with the idea of RDAs as I do with the Godfrey administration's ham- fisted conception and execution of them. The Ogden River Project is rapidly become a the poster boy for how not to do urban renewal via RDA projects.

Let me also add that public investment in private levelopments [for the benefit of private businesses] is something that should be engaged in relatively rarely and in limited circumstances. It should never become the growth and development policy of any city's administration, as it seems to have become in Ogden. [ Nor should eminent domain powers ever be exercised to amass private properties for the benefit of a private company or investor. Never. Happily, that has not happened in Ogden. Yet.]

Danny said...

Dan S.

Please provide a link.

Anonymous said...

Good grief! Do we really need to spend $50,000 to study what people already do on the golf course during the winter? If you really want to, you could just control it better and charge people and entrance fee to go sledding (or whatever else). But really, spending $50,000 is just ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

And yes, I just said "really" 3 times. I guess I need to take remedial English at WSU again.

Danny said...

Note that oil production in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) was already slated to decline sharply starting next year (actual resources not hoped for ones.) What do you suppose a drilling moratorium and the reluctance of local residents in the wake of the oil spill will do to these numbers? GOM is 29% of dwindling US production. Looks like we'll have to print more money to keep importing it.

Oil Production In The GOM -- What's At Stake?

Quick, somebody email Godfrey and tell him to borrow money to build parking garages before the oil runs out. It is our salvation. And it's an idea nobody else ever thought of, surely!!!

Curmudgeon said...

Danny:

I can't find it in the SE today either. Anyone has a link to the story Dan S. noted above, pls. post.

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.

Dan S. said...

Danny: Sorry I was too busy to post the link, or any other details, earlier. I now see that Rudi has put up a whole new article.

Ogden Lover said...

Steve Cook: Capricorns Lair was bnehind in property taxes for years, owner went to jail for check kiteing. So just like some other bankrupt business they relied on lax laws and foreclouse rules.

Avoiding property tax cost every land owner in ioncreased fees.

So if avoiding lawful expenses is concered a successful business in Ogden Then I guess you are right.

I do agree that if I want to shop I will walk and not wait for a parkinjg garage.

Stephen M. Cook said...

O'Lov,
Yeah, he stiffed his employees thousands in back pay when he closed up shop, often did not pay his suppliers for inventory, and constantly used to hit on the high school boys who worked for him.

And, most of the occult stuff he sold was crap.
He was still more honest than most of the Godfrey Gang, and he knew how to make his business plan work.

Wait, what is your point?

;>

ozboy said...

Ogden Lover and Stephen

This Capricorn guy sounds like a prime time player in the pantheon of illustrious Godfreyite Biz genius's. He lies, he scams, he tap dances for the masses. He does everything but do it honestly and his measure of success is based on smoke, mirrors and moving walnut shells.

Dan S. said...

Comment bumped to front page

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