Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Standard-Examiner: Godfrey Proposes a River Project Land Swap

Seems to us that Godfrey's proposal is an offer that Leshem can't refuse

As we enter the month of June, Ogden City's traditional arson season is upon us folks; and in recognition of that, this morning's Standard-Examiner reports that our ever-vigilant Boy Mayor, Boss Godfrey, has evidently decided to act proactively this year, in order to prevent another wave of arson fires in Gadi Leshem's River Project firetrap. Nosiree, it appears that Boss Godfrey's definitely not going to again get caught with his pants down in Leshemville this year, if he has any say in the matter:

Scott Schwebke reports this morning that Boss Godfrey is floating a clever land-swap scheme to deal with those derelict Ogden Riverfront Development Company properties once and for all:
Deal for Ogden River park? Property exchange would allow for demolition of vacant houses
Seems to us that Godfrey's proposal has to be an offer Leshem can't refuse. Leshem can do it the easy way, by voluntarily going along with Godfrey's plan... or alternatively do it the hard way, it seems to us. The Ogden adminstration has ample tools at its disposal to abate the Leshemville nuisance, right there within the Ogden City Code, (with or without Gadi's help,) provided that Godfrey has the political will to get the problem fixed:
Ogden City Code - Chapter 8 - ADMINISTRATIVE ABATEMENT OF NUISANCES
We've been arguing for quite a while that Boss Godfrey ought not embark on and new grand schemes or projects until he's finished the necessary spadework on projects he's already started. So we're thus delighted to see Boss Godfrey turning his attention back to the languishing Ogden River Project at long last.

According to Mr. Schwebke, Godfrey wants to horse trade for a small parcel to build a park:
The proposal calls for the city to fund the demolition, which McConkie estimated could cost as much as $500,000.
In exchange, the city would seek to have Ogden Riverfront Development and Leshem's wife, Miri, donate parcels totaling about three-quarters of an acre just north of the Ogden River to the RDA. The land would be combined with about 2 acres of adjoining property the RDA owns to create a public park, said McConkie.
"We think a park would be a great amenity along the river," he said.
Q: Oh where, or where will the 500 grand in demolition money come from, our readers may ask?
A: No problemo. Godfrey apparently believes the city has a cool $1 million layin' around, doin' nothin'. Problem solved.

Mr. McConkie is right. A riverside park is a great idea, wethinks; and those 40 derelict properties need to be leveled... like yesterday. The knuckleheaded velodrome scam can wait (til hell freezes, we hope). Time for the Council/RDA Board to roll up its sleeves and accomplish something truly useful. We'll definitely be sitting on the edge of our seat, hoping that Gadi will come out of hiding and wisely play along.

Comments, anyone?

23 comments:

althepal said...

$500,000 for a 3/4 acre parcel? This doesn't seem like a very good idea to me! $30,000 an acre is a lot more like it.

RudiZink said...

Good point, al. It's a point which I ought to have addressed in the above article but didn't, for the sake of brevity. And here's what I'd propose. The RDA Board should go ahead and structure the land swap with a credit for the appraised value of the 3/4 acre parcel, and negotiate for a lien on the remaining properties for the balance of the demolition costs.

Yes, this would complicate the transaction more than a little bit, but it nevertheless ought to be attractive to Gadi and his investors, inasmuch as these properties would ultimately need to be demolished at their own expense in the long run anyway, in order to allow the project to go forward.

And yes, the taxpayers would play the part of the bank in the short run; but the public treasury would ultimately be reimbursed if a wraparound lien were in place.

It would be a win/win situation for all players; and I believe Godfrey's central idea seems a good one in concept, at least.

Southsider said...

althepal,

Exactly what I was thinking. Then, does Lesham get a $500,000 tax write-off for his "charitable contribution!"

Curmudgeon said...

Althepal and Rudi:

That is apparently the plan reported in the story, that the city get a lien on the rest of the developer's River Project properties to cover the difference between the fair market value of the property to be given to the city and the actual cost of demolishing the Leshamville slum. From the story:

If the cost of demolishing the vacant homes exceeds the value of the exchanged property, a lien for the difference could be placed on other land Ogden Riverfront Development owns in the project area, said McConkie.

The liens would require Ogden Riverfront Development to use proceeds from the sale of the land to reimburse the RDA for remaining costs associated with the demolition.

RudiZink said...

Thanks for the clarification, Curm. I'll confess I read this morning's article on the fly, and glossed over that part. Once again I'll say that I believe Boss Godfrey has a good idea here, and that it represents a win/win for all players.

Danny said...

I have to call BS on all you Polyannas.

What Godfrey says and what Godfrey does are never the same, or are we not still living in the same universe?

Godfrey has been looking for ways to:

1. Front money to Leshem so Leshem will donate another $10,000 to Godfrey as he did three years ago.

2. Get rid of the Leshemville slum so it will not be a campaign issue for him next year.

Godfrey, as "money launderer in chief" is always looking for ways to convert public money to his own use. This is simply his latest ruse.

The land will be swapped, the city will pay, but somehow, the liens will never get filed or executed.

It is all so obvious.

Jennifer said...

Danny, I'm with you -- I think it's politico stunt (check the timing) and would probably accomplish little more than having flat property languishing for years instead of boarded-up fenced-up properties ...

And Where in Hell did Godfrey come up with a $1M bucks ?!?!?! [side note: that particular punctuation is now referred to as a quesclamation point]; he's been asking for money right and left and tax increments and donations and now he has $$$?

Something is Rotten in the State of Denmark**, methinks!

TLJ

** Emerald City

ozboy said...

Five hundred grand for maybe a weeks worth of D-8 Cat time plus a couple hundred dump truck loads seems way off the charts to me. Like most everything else that comes out of the Godfreyite compound, these numbers are highly suspicious. It will be interesting to see what the demo bids come in at, and whether Godfrey will award the "contract" to one of his cronies. Any one want to place a bet on that one?

Another option would be for the city to just turn a city crew and equipment loose on the project in their spare time. The whole area could be leveled in a short time and the costs could be very low in comparison to having a commercial outfit do it. The city owns this equipment already and the crews are already on the payroll. The city could then charge Gadi full pop for the cleanup and actually make some money on the deal. Yea I know, making money and leaning on his pals is not the punk's style, but one can dream about a smart and honest mayor can't he?

Danny said...

Oz,

As always in Godfreyville, even the cynical cannot fathom the full magnitude of the scheming corruption.

I had completely forgotten the element you mention.

There is no way the demolition could cost 500 grand.

Clearly, Godfrey intends to spruce up the property as well as clear it - all to benefit his #1 campaign contributor.

One wonders when even Godfrey's supporters will back away from his stench.

City council, remove power from this corrupt mayor.

RudiZink said...

LOL, Oz. I recently reviewed a commercial bid for the demolition of a single similar-sized residential property not far from the Gadi's River front parcels. The bid amount: slightly under fifteen grand. Do the math.

In reality, though, you're right. Godfrey could probably get the whole job done in-house for a small fraction of the 500 grand figure.

OneWhoKnows said...

Excess funds would go into his campaign pocket and the Ice Tower!

Curmudgeon said...

Danny:

I think you're letting your animus toward Hizzonah run away with your judgment. For example, you suggest the plan is some clever ruse by Godfrey to get rid of the Leshamville slum before the next election to prevent its becoming an election issue. To which I'd ask this: If a means of removing the slum, and charging Lesham and associates for it arose, you'd prefer that the slum remain just to embarrass the Administration in an election a couple of years from now? Seems like you want to do what you charge the mayor with doing: putting politics first, above the public good --- which would definitely be served by having the dangerous and crime-inviting slum cleared.

I also don't see how the plan outlined in the paper today adds up to "fronting money to Lesham." You lost me on that one. And if you think continuing the arson-prone slum for another two years would embarrass the Mayor, consider how embarrassing it would be to have announced this plan, to have put it into effect, and then to not exercise the liens. If I were an opposing candidate, I'd love to have that one to highlight.

As for the work going to contractors associated with the Administration: Danny, I don't know how much urban history you've looked at, but in most cities, companies that do contract work on public projects contribute to the current administration's campaign fund. I'd be hard put to think of a city I've lived in [this includes NYC; Madison, WI; Baton Rouge, LA; and Ogden] where that has not been the case. It's one of the perks of municipal incumbency. Ideal? Of course not. But not a particularly special vice of the Godfrey administration, by any means.

It is in the public interest that the Leshamville slum be cleared. That's obvious to me. If Hizzonah's advisors have, at long last, finally come up with a plan to do what should have been done a couple of years ago, and to stick Lesham and associates with the bill, good. Better late than never.

And not doing so that keeping the slum around will embarrass Hizzonah is, I think, a piss poor reason to saddle the city and its residents with the dangerous slum for another years.

tk said...

I want to know when someone at the SE will talk to someone who actually owns/runs Ogden Riverfront Development. I'm tired of reading that it is a company "with ties to ... Gadi Lesham." You would think that the home town newspaper would want to talk to people who are legally responsible for these properties, or at least a representative of those persons.

Danny said...

Curm, from what planet did you beam those comments?

Godfrey has been sitting on this river property for years - property he took from the rightful owners - and has done nothing.

Fixing it up is not the issue. Look beyond the veneer. Liars and conmen always state noble reasons for what they want to do. After all, the conman only wants you to be rich. "Danny", you say, "Why would you argue with that?" I argue with it because what the conman says must be differentiated from what the conman intends to do.

I argue with it because Godfrey couldn't care less about the river district, as his 10 years of neglect has proven. This is to generate campaign cash and to use public money to create a false appearance.

So he's going to bulldoze some slums after all these years. He is going to fix up his crony's land for him, on the public dime. He is going to get a postage stamp sized property in exchange. He will promise the city will not be on the hook. Then later, we will see he has lied, as always. For this, you are so grateful?

Say hello to the captain of the mother ship when you see him.

Curmudgeon said...

TK:

I think one of the problems is that we [the public and the press] don't know, at this point, exactly who owns the properties involved. I seem to recall a story I think about a year ago describing a re-arranging of the Lesham development group, when he got in financial trouble with his other businesses, and I think press attempts to unravel the new ownership arrangements by the SE were unsuccessful.

Absent a lawsuit, I don't think you can force private owners/investors to talk to the press about their private business arrangements and understandings if they don't want to. And clearly, they don't want to. Probably the most oft-repeated line in all the stories that have been done on this over the past two years is this one: "Mr. Lesham was unavailable for comment."

blackrulon said...

Why should we pay for the houses to be demolished. What a great training opportunity for local fire departments to use their skills to refresh fighting house fires. We could sell the training opportunity so area fire fighters could maintain their skills. That is if they are not needed to conduct a door to door survey in Ogden city. When will the results of the door to door survey be released to the taxpaying public? I suspect it will be just after the factory outlet stores,mexican import, and chinese import stores open. Are jobs demolishing abandoned houses considered hi-tech?

Merle said...

If Lesham and the Mayor were not good friends and mutual supporters the city would have made them tear the slum down and clean it up a long time ago. Even now if the city would enforce the existing laws they could force a clean up immediately and the the city tax payers would not have to get involved. If Lesham refused a city order and citation to clean it all up, then the city could move in and have it done after which they could simply lean the properties and force a lien sale after the required statutory waiting period. This fiasco only lingers on because the guilty parties are friends and financial supporters of the mayor. No one else in Ogden could ever get away with this kind of irresponsible conduct.

Curmudgeon said...

Merle:

You wrote: "If Lesham and the Mayor were not good friends and mutual supporters the city would have made them tear the slum down and clean it up a long time ago."

True. But the problem with the remedy you propose is that it might, I think, involve the city in lengthy court proceedings. The people near the River Project have lived with those dangerous, collapsing, junk-attracting and arson-prone slums more than long enough. If the land swap and lien plan outlined in the paper today can get the slum cleared quickly ---this summer --- at no ultimate expense to the city, it seems worth doing to me.

That the slum should have been cleared long ago, that the Godfrey administration should have seen that it was done years ago, is absolutely so. But the question is: from where we are now, what would be best for the city in general, and the people who live near the slum in particular? From that POV the plan described in the SE seems a good idea to me if come fall the slum is gone.

very skepticle said...

The results of the Fire Department door to door survey will be made public as soon as the violation notices are sent out.

dont trust Godfrey said...

So what the hell is happening to the area that is already cleared? I am speaking of the block from Washington to Grant, and 20th street north to the river. I thought that developers were all over this area and things were happening soon, but it still sits empty after the lone business was completed 2 years ago.

ozboy said...

One of the things that most disappoints me about the mini mayor is that he truly does not know how to maximize his friendships. They all seem so lopsided in what the city does for the FOM's versus what the FOM's do for the city.

For instance, one of the mayor's more famous and influential friends is the Hollywood giant and world renowned Producer Rupert. It is well known that Producer Rupert owes Ogden big time for giving him the big break in his career to film the movie epic about our world famous police department under the mini mayor and evil Chief Greiner.

It seems that with a few phone calls Producer Rupert could put together a deal wherein the whole Lesham ghetto would be marketed as an excellent movie location for a major urban conflagration scene. Producer Rupert could even use the place as a location for one of his block buster movies. They could attack it with airplanes or space ships or death rays from the planet Kolob. They could bomb the place, they could burn it or they could melt it with the Kolob death rays - all for spectacular shots and most likely Academy Awards to boot.

The city could reap a huge pay day from the location fees and it could be made a part of the contract for the movie company to clear and level the site when they were finished filming.

What's the good in having bestest buddies that are big time movie producers and entertainment industry giants if you don't call on them occasionally for a little favor?

AWM said...

Think 500K is bad. From the age of these buildings, let's hope they don't find asbestos or any ground contamination...because the costs will go through the roof if that happens

Jennifer said...

The CEO/CFO of ORD Development Co., Inc is:
Miri Lesham
8964 Oso Ave
Chatsworth, CA 91311

The Secretary of Leshem Development Co., Inc is (aka ORD Development Co., Inc):
Gadi Leshem
8964 Oso Ave
Chatsworth, CA 91311

Ogden Riverfront Development Co., LP:
Gen Ptr is: ORD Development Co., Inc.
with Miri Leshem listed as President

TLJ

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