Friday, August 20, 2010

Standard-Examiner: Ogden: Massive Burn Off / Cost of Asbestos Removal Nixes Idea For Removing Homes

Personally, we're against burning down Ogden

This morning's Standard-Examiner delivers the latest news regarding Boss Godfrey's Leshemville Fire Demolition Plan. The SE headline tells the story succinctly... more or less:
Ogden: Massive burn off / Cost of asbestos removal nixes idea for removing homes
There are several factors which evidently influenced the City's apparent change of plans:

1) It turns out the projected cost savings didn't shake out as expected:
It will cost about the same to demolish the homes as setting them on fire because of the increased expense from asbestos removal under the burn scenario, said Jonny Ballard, the city's community development manager.
The price tag for both methods is estimated at about $545,000, he said.
2) And reading between the lines, there's the whole public health issue, as expressed in this eloquent Councilwoman Amy Wicks quote:
"It doesn't matter if it's four or nearly 40 (vacant homes), it's simply a very bad idea from a public health and public perception standpoint, and the potential cost savings for incineration instead of demolition are negligible," Councilwoman Amy Wicks wrote in an e-mail to the Standard-Examiner.
"If Ogden City is dealing with the problem for the property owner, we should be concerned solely with completing the task in the safest and most acceptable way possible, not putting the health of our residents and positive image of our community at risk to save a property owner who did not address the issue in a timely manner."
And focusing further on the public health issue, be sure to read Dr. Brian Moench's sobering SE Guest Commentary, (from which Mr. Schwebke lifts a couple of paragraphs within his above-linked morning story), which really ought to be considered the frosting on the cake:
Don't burn Ogden houses
Taking Dr. Moench's evidence into account, we're relieved somebody finally got around to contacting an expert.

Weirdly enough, and even in light of the above evidence however, it appears the Godfrey Administration (and Council Chair Gochnour [?]) still remain dead set to torch at least two of the derelict properties, (and possibly as many as eight.)

As far as the issue of torching even a single of these properties, we'll go along with Councilwoman Van Hooser on this:
"Personally, I'm against burning down Ogden," [Van Hooser] said. "I feel it's not very good in keeping with what we are trying to do here as a healthy and sustainable green community."
So what say our gentle readers about all this?

Update 8/21/10 11:30 a.m.: Thanks to a tip from the sharp-eyed Curmudgeon, we provide a link to this morning's Salt Lake Tribune story, which reports the most recent development in the Leshemville Demolition Saga:
Ogden Riverfront demolition by fire gets pared back


blackrulon said...

It appears that the mayor has discovered that even the rarefied air used on the 9th floor of his office is still the same air as breathed by regular ogden citizens.

what will it cost us said...

They need to bill the owners with interest, if not paid when the amount reaches the value of the land ownership is transfered back to the city. Just the depreciated land value not an overly inflated value for the friends of the administration. They need to be billed ASAP before they are auction for tax non-payment.

The owners should be getting fines from the code enforcement all along. Oh wait they only fine occupied homes with old ladies with weeds in their yard.

The council chair married to a physician should know better than to pollute Ogden with foul air. Living on the east bench the wind does carry it that far.

asthma patient said...

Council Chair Gochnour would rather play nice and "negotiate", which means cave in and avoid any sort of thoughtful dialog if faced with squeaking and fit throwing from the tyrant on the 9th floor.

You would think there would be at least some spine there, especially considering this same person is making some attempts at initiating green and sustainable initiatives in Ogden. Isn't clean air and a clean community image part of all of that, or is it all just greenwashing?

Curmudgeon said...


Let's notice, at least, that the Council Chair's negotiations with Hizzonah on behalf of the Council, which you ridicule, played a role in the massive burn being called off. I'd call that good work rather than caving.

Curmudgeon said...


In re: the two house burn. The Ogden FD has permission to burn two structures a year for training purposes. Had that before the Leshemville Slum burn came up. So it really doesn't matter, seems to me, where the two houses it burns a year for training purposes are located. They might as well be from the Leshemville Slum.

Important here not to lose sight of the big part of the story: the massive burn is off. That is very good news. Kudos to Councilwoman Wicks for being the first on the Council, when this first came up, to highlight the health problems in the plan, and to Councilwoman Gochnour for helping to broker the Mayor's retreat on "burning down Ogden" --- nice turn of phrase there from Councilwoman Van Hooser.

It pays to know when you've won. And those opposing the big burn, including WCF, won on this one. Hizzonah backed off. Continued carping about the two house burn [which the FD does every year and would do anyway] seems pointless.

asthma patient said...


Did you not read in the article that the plan for a wide scale burn was nixed because the cost savings for burning in place of demolition simply were not there.

Not because of concern for the air we all breathe, not because they mayor listened to anyone with common sense and certainly not because some sort of deal was struck.

Common sense does not prevail with the mayor, but the almighty dollar does.

OneWhoKnows said...

Where the hell is Gadi Leshem? Has anyone heard from the owner of these properties in question? Seems to me his buddy Godfrey would still be in contact with a friend that was going to be a driving force to bring Ogden prosperity and fame. The City should force action upon Leshem and throw a lien on all the properties. It is obvious that the River Project will not happen to the grander of our mayor's visionary dreams. Ten years and counting and we've got a bicycle shop. Whoopie! They need to force Gadi's hand and when it's not in Godfrey's pocket. I hope people see this for what it is. Can you say COVER-UP?

Dan S. said...

My impression from the article is that the revised cost estimate is merely a way for the mayor to save face while backing down. The real reason for calling off the big burn is the public outcry, together with significant opposition from the city council.

RudiZink said...

Exactly right, Dan.

blackrulon said...

I have to agree with Dan S. The current administration has not shown any real concern about financial costs to Ogden residents. It was a face saving measure. Or Gary Williams was forced to admit that his "healing powers" did not extend to pollution and environmental problems.

Unelect Godfrey said...

Boss Godfrey responds to the frightening health issues:


Waylon Jenning's Ghost said...

A few words from me, in case your arrogant Boss Godfrey tries to run again in the 2011 Ogden election:

Waylon Jennings - This Time

ozboy said...

Although torching two houses is on the front burner (pun intended) at the present time, there appears to be the possibility that they might burn eight more as per the article:

"No more than eight additional homes would be burned if it's determined that setting fire to the pair of houses proves more cost effective than anticipated, Godfrey said."

With Godfrey one never knows what the real story is. He is secretive little bounder dontcha know.

I also noted that it appears the only two strong advocates against the burning are women members of the council. Pretty sorry state of affairs when Ogden's only real statesmen are women.

Big Sue said...

Let me be the first to say this:

Rudi for Mayor in 2011!

Little Dave said...

Let me be the 1st to second that motion.

Go Rudi

Danny said...

I disagree with Curmudgeon and agree with Dan S.

It seemed the public outcry nixed the idea.

Facing an inevitable defeat at the hands of the city council, the administration wished to have a way to retreat gracefully.

The "negotiations" provided that way.

People need to take notice of the number of times that really bad ideas from the mayor get stopped around here. This leads to two conclusions.

The Godfrey Administration is a cesspool of bad ideas, and,

Public participation does make a difference around here.

OneWhoKnows said...


I'll vote for ya bud. Ogden would finally have an honest man that we could trust. Please give it some thought. Just think sending Godfrey back to Harrisville or even Provo. God is good. We all know he'll eventually end up in Hell for all is good deeds.

Curmudgeon said...


A little puzzled since I don't think I said, anywhere, that public reaction to the Big Burn wasn't an important element in the decision not to go ahead, so I'm not sure what you're disagreeing about.

But as for me, I don't really care what the motive was or the motives were --- the Mayor decided it was a loser issue and wanted it in no more news cycles; or the medical testimony convinced him it was not a good idea to go ahead; or he concluded, finally, that no money would be saved and so the Big Burn could not be justified as opposed to normal demolition; or the Three Nephites visited him and told him not to do it; or the sweet little old lady next door who reminds him of his grandma sent him a box of homemade cookies and a note asking him to stand down on the burn; or the Council leadership did some skillful negotiating. Or all of the above or none of the above or some of the above.

What matters is that Hizzonah and the Council leadership came to an agreement to pull the plug on the Big Burn. Good. In fact, excellent. I'm just glad it made the right decision, for whatever reasons, at last. And while folks my have fun speculating on this reason being the key one, or that reason, that question can likely never be fully resolved, and it doesn't much matter anyway. No Big Burn. That's what matters.

RJS said...

I think he read this news source, and decided he looked like an idiot. Again.

Dan S. said...

Curm, I think some retrospective analysis can be useful, because it helps us understand what tactics can be effective in the future.

Danny said...


Dan S' comment is what I was endeavoring to convey.

Curmudgeon said...


Sure, retrospective analysis --when it's based on sound evidence -- can be valuable. But we don't have much to go on here that is not merely speculation , other than Mayor's statements to the press. What good speculating in the absence of evidence about what his "real" motives were will do I'm not sure. [And that speculation presumes his stated reason --- he found out it wasn't going to save much to burn the buildings --- isn't accurate.]

BTW, SLTrib has a follow-up piece this morning [link here] on the decision to cancel the Big Burn. Contains more comment from Councilwoman Wicks on the River Project, particularly regarding securing public access to the riverfront in the project area: "“We have one chance to really get it right for future generations,” said Councilwoman Amy Wicks. “From plans I’ve seen, I’m not happy with public access up against the river.”

Drill Baby Drill said...

Doesn't NERO stand out as someone who burned Rome to rid the city of undesireables and lower class citizens, maybe even rid the city of gentiles. It was easier to burn than actualy deal with the problems, even some he had created.

History tells us a lot about our future if we don't pay attention to the past mistakes and follies.

I think NERO was also short and also had a complex..

ozboy said...

Mr. Curmudgeon

Your post above was right on the money - as usual. However, when you wrote "or the Three Nephites visited him and told him not to do it", you sort of missed the mark a bit.

Had the Three Nephites actually visited Godfrey they would have smited the wicked little twit with a sword. That's what they do to Sons of Perdition - which Godfrey surely is.

Dan S. said...

Curm: It's simply not true that "we don't have much to go on here that is not merely speculation, other than Mayor's statements to the press." We know that the Salt Lake media were having a grand time making Godfrey look like a fool over this issue. We know that the physicians' group was ramping up the pressure. And we know that there was growing opposition from within the city council. Finally, we know that Godfrey is a serial liar. So I'm fairly confident of my interpretation, even though I concede that it wouldn't hold up in a court of law.

viktor said...

"we know that Godfrey is a serial liar"

Well Dan, that pretty much says it all about the little feller doesn't it?

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