Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Standard-Examiner: Ogden Preps For $500K Shortfall

The Boss Godfrey solution? Tap into the public safety budget, of course

As the effects of our basket case economy continue to strain our Emerald City budget, Scott Schwebke reports that Boss Godfrey has found a way to compensate for a projected $500K fiscal year 2011 revenue shortfall. Here's the setup:
OGDEN -- The city council adopted an ordinance Tuesday night that adjusts Ogden's budget to reflect a possible $500,000 shortfall in sales tax revenue for fiscal 2011.
The projected revenue reduction is based on figures for June and July, which show a $116,000 decrease in sales tax compared to that collected during the same months in fiscal 2010, said Janene Eller-Smith, a city council policy analyst.
A downturn in the national economy has trickled down to Ogden and is keeping people from purchasing big-ticket items that drive sales tax revenue, said John Arrington, the city's business manager.
And Boss Godfrey's solution? Tap into the public safety budget, of course:
The ordinance adopted by the council compensates for the anticipated $500,000 sales tax shortfall by reducing a budget line item for that same amount that was to be used to fill seven vacant police officer positions, said Arrington.
Read this morning's full Scott Schwebke story here:
Ogden preps for $500K shortfall
Maybe it's just is, but we're wondering whether the Administration's priorities might be just a mite messed up. So how about it gentle readers? Who'd like to suggest other budget cutting alternatives which wouldn't jeopardize public safety and result in the continued under-staffing of Ogden's Finest?

And just to get the ball rolling, we'll incorporate the text of SE reader Neal Cassidy's thoughtful query in the comments section beneath the above-linked SE story:
Isn't 500K$ the same amount of money Ogden City will lose if Jon Greiner remains as Ogden Police Chief? Is Greiner such a good Chief that he is worth 7 additional police officers?
Have at it, O Gentle Ones. Just because its a slow news day, that doesn't mean our WCF readers can't have a little interactive fun.

Update 10/13/10 3:50 p.m.: Just to add a little perspective to this story, we'll link here Ace Reporter Schwbebke's council meeting Twitter tweets, which he issued during last night's City Council Session:
Scott Schwebke 10/12/10 City Council Meeting Twitter Tweets
Just another glimpse into the work of an incurious and disinterested SE reporter who's possibly in the wrong business, wethinks.

27 comments:

you who said...

I keep asking myself why the city administration would dole out a measly 2% pay for performance for all employees, and adjust the department directors with huge raises in July. Patterson went from 120 k to around 135k per year excluding benifits. Mathieu recieved a hefty pay raise and who knows what the others got? Council 30%, mayor 34%. And they knew we were in a tough economy.

Why?

Fireman Joe said...

A fire inspector position will possibly also be eliminated.

MN 1 said...

Are they still setting aside $701,000 for parking garages? What is the total proposed budget now? Weren't they talking a couple months ago about a substantial budget increase from last year? Have things changed that dramatically over the past 2 months? Yikes.

ozboy said...

How about taking a million or so bucks out of the pile of cash the Little Big Guy on nine squanders on his economic development department (so called), and ED dept for short. This whole ED department (not to be confused with the erectile disfunction department - or should it?) costs the tax payers of Ogden millions to run and produces very little in return. While Layton and Clearfield get jobs out the wazoo with their much smaller "economic development" departments and public money expenditures, Ogden residents get diddly squat for their multi million dollar efforts. They get nothin more than one more publicly subsidized high adventure retail outfit that might hire 4 or 5 low paying clerks.

Yep, that's an easy mill a year save if the council has the moxy to take on the well fare of the citizens of Ogden in this infernal contest with the High Adventure obsessed mayor and his very high priced court jesters.

Curmudgeon said...

As I recall, the "fine" for keeping Double Dip former Senator Greiner on the job was to come out of future federal grants to the dept --- they would be reduced by the fine amount. I can't help but wondering if the money will be deleted from the fedgrant the City expects to get to keep the officers on the job. Just askin'....

OneWhoKnows said...

Godfrey could eliminate the top brass down there and save millions. He could can Greiner and save thousands. He could take a pay cut for his last year and save thousands as well. He could give the employees that deserve it 5% a year raise and spend thousands. He could retire from political life and refund his election money he's got hidden in Val Southwick's pillow case. The citizens would still be ahead other than the $100 million plus debt the dilusional visionary has left them. That would be only my vision because it is the right thing to do. One can hope?

famous layabout said...

If I were Schwebke, I'd hate my job too, since it seems to involve doing actual work.

laughing larry said...

I just read Shwepke's twitter tweets and will say that they are very funny, although NOT in a funny haha way.

Curmudgeon said...

Oh good lord, guys, cut Mr. S some slack. I just read the tweets. He was commenting in many of them on non-eventst. His comments at the meeting suggest to me a healthy skepticism and tendency to sarcasm regarding Ogden City Government. The Tweets are not reporting. They're the personal reactions of a probably tired guy way after normal quitting time listening to bureaucratic and public posturing proceedings and reacting pretty much I think as I might have. In personal comments [not my reporting], I'd have had a hard time not lampooning the public pooping discussion too. I'd be more worried if the tweets revealed a puppy-dog credulity tending to take everything that happened at a Council session as Graven In Stone Significant.

Jeez Louise, let's keep in mind the difference between personal tweets and reporting. They're not the same thing. I found the sarcasm [edging every now and then toward cynicism] and lets-not-take-this-all--too-seriously tone kind of refreshing. All reporters should approach government [all levels] with healthy doses of skepticism, leavened by sarcasm and humor now and then. There's a lot of Hildy Johnson in those tweets, which sound like they're straight out of "The Front Page" --- and that's a good thing. [Enjoyed that since Mr. S. has told me more than once that I've seen "The Front Page" way too often.]

SE reader said...

Sarcasm has its place, but shouldn't be coming from the same reporter who's writing serious articles if he wants to keep his credibility.

Oh wait. We're talking about Schwebke. Never mind.

Laura Hunt said...

Gee, I wonder how the city coffers would look if all the delinquent property tax in Ogden proper owed by large businesses and property owners were collected by Weber County and the revenue slice due to the city was given to the city of Ogden? But no, Zogmaister, Bischoff and Dearden are the latter day "See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil." and do Nothing!

Dan S. said...

Curm, I don't understand what you mean by "personal" tweets. These tweets were sent not from Schwebke's personal account but from the Standard-Examiner account. Can you name any other US daily newspaper that would allow a news reporter to broadcast such a stream of sarcasm about the people he's reporting on through an official company communication channel, while on the job?

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:

Since I don't Tweet and don't read Tweets by anyone, much less other reporters on other papers, I couldn't say.[I looked at these only because people began talking about them on WCF and someone provided a link.] From stories I've seen, it does seem to be the case that the standard for tweets is substantially less formal than for reporting or column writing.

Dan S. said...

Curm, it's not a matter of formality. It would also be unprofessional for the S-E to allow Schwebke to write formal opinion columns about city government.

Less than two weeks ago a KTVX employee was forced to resign for accidentally tweeting "surrounded by Mormons and repressed sexual energy" from the company account. Not entirely analogous, but at least a sign that not everything goes over their Twitter account.

Last summer a CNN correspondent was fired for tweeting her admiration for a bad guy in Lebanon.

But whatever the communication method, I say news reporters should avoid editorializing about their subjects.

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:

I didn't think it was editorializing. It was a little informal tongue in cheek ribbing on a few of the things going on. "Poor hungry reporter" etc. Jeez, any public person who took offense at those gently ribbing Tweets needs to develop a sense of humor about his or her public performances, and a little thicker hide.

Still seems much ado about not much to me. If I were on the council, next work session, I'd bring along a burger and fries from McDonald and hand it to Mr. S. before I chowed down on the taxpayer-supplied buffet. And I'd probably make it a Happy Meal.

RudiZink said...

Get a grip, Mr. Curmudgeon! Ace reporter Schwebke's tweets reveal his low threshhold of attention to Ogden City Issues.

If Schwebke wants to pretend to be a humorist (maybe he can take humorist lessons from Mark Saal,) he should post his shit from his own Twitter feed.

As it stands, Schwebke's Twitter posts were posted under the Standard-Examiner banner.

Given that, SE management should take him to the woodshed.

Curmudgeon said...

Sorry, Rudi, we disagree. I've been to City Council meetings, and I know you have, and at many of them, considerable time is taken up with pro-forma proceedings, odd and unexpected public comment, and jocular asides [none of it vicious, none of it attacking character or honesty etc.] about that kind of thing by a tweeting reporter in the audience doesn't seem out of line to me at all, nor does it seem evidence of a "low threshold of attention to Ogden City issues."

Lotta thin skins in these parts these days.

RudiZink said...

You disagree, Curm? So what else is new?

Despite that, I'll consider asserting that Scott Schwebke is wholly incapable of reporting on Emerald City politics.

It's not like it's the first time that Schwebke has muffed an otherwise straight up story.

OneWhoKnows said...

Maybe that's what Scottie has in mind. He may be tired of being in the spotlight and the demands of working for the Daily Planet, so after his termination, he can resort to a low key position with The Ensign or maybe even The Weekly Reader?

blackrulon said...

Curmudgeon-You write that Schwepes tweets "suggest to me a healthy skepticism and tendency to sarcasm regarding Ogden City Government". It appears that Schwebke only has this attitde to events and people in Ogden City Government that are not named Matthew Godfrey. You have often commented on the lazy reporting of the designated S-E city government reporter and wondered at his non-questioning of anything regarding information given by the mayor. It seems that a real reporter would use the same criteria in reporting stories about city government to all involved not just the Mayor.

Observer said...

Did he say Franke is leaving?

Then who will be Godfrey's inside man on the city council?

I'm betting it will be one of Montgomery's pets.

I suspect Godfrey already has the person hand picked.

The council will be getting out their rubber stamps soon.

Observer said...

... as far as Dan and Curm's argument, go with Observer's dictum,

"You can be unprofessional, but you can never be TOO professional."

Free advice, Scott Schwebke.

Also, regarding humor - Some make it look easy, but it's harder than it looks.

Curmudgeon said...

Blackrulon:

I agree the city beat reporting is not as aggressive or questioning as it should be and is too prone to reporting comments by public officers at face value. But I also think the paper is getting the kind of city beat reporting its editors want. If the news editor and managing editor wanted more aggressive fact-checked reporting of Ogden public officials' statements, they'd get it. They're getting clearly the kind of coverage they want.

So if you have a problem with the SE's city coverage being not questioning enough [I do], the source of the problem is the editors, seems to me, not the reporters.

[I would note though that no one here seems to have had a problem with the story on the city council meeting Mr. S. filed and that appeared yesterday and the is the basis of this thread. It reported the most important news from the meeting: the anticipated budget shortfall and how the Council and City plans to deal with it. And got some reactions. On deadline long after the rest of the paper was put to bed. Was a story well worth reading, containing important news and well-worth bringing to people's attention, as WCF did. On this story, the SE did what it should have. I could think of follow up stories it might pursue, but the main story on the Council and the shortfall reported the morning after was OK, seems to me. We're all talking about what it reported after all, not how it reported it.]

fly on the wall said...

For the record, it was not a unanimous vote on the budget opening agenda item on Tuesday. Schwebke somehow left that out or perhaps missed it while attempting comedy with his tweeting on the Standard Examiner Twitter account.

Councilmembers VanHooser and Wicks voted no on the item.

lighten up said...

Y'all need to lighten up. Obviously you don't understand twitter. Research has shown that people don't want gavel to gavel of bureacratic process in 140 characters. Tweet followers want what goes on behind the scenes, interjected with a little humor to caputure attention. Did you see the city council agenda Tuesday, Not much going on.
Schwebke wrote a new story for the print and online addition on the sales tax issue and then supplimented the council story with twitter observations. What's wrong with that. This site's snide alarmist, sensational diatribe is tiresome and predicable

althepal said...

Thanks for checking in with your own side of the story, Scott.

Observer said...

Busted!

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