Friday, November 26, 2010

Envision Ogden and the Standard-Examiner

The facts aren’t so simple.

By Dan Schroeder

In the aftermath of the ill-considered Facebook post by Standard-Examiner reporter Scott Schwebke, perhaps now is a good time to review the role that our local newspaper has played in uncovering the Envision Ogden scandal. How often have Ogden’s professional journalists been on the ball, and how often have they been out to lunch? The truth isn’t as simple as some people (on either side) would like to believe. Here is a chronological account...

12 February 2007: The Standard-Examiner announces the formation of Envision Ogden with a front-page article, four days after the fundraising dinner where EO raised about $50,000. The paper asks a lot of good questions (Who are EO’s leaders? What are you going to do with the money? What’s your position on the Gondola?), but gets few answers (Abraham Shreve and four anonymous “business leaders”; we don’t know yet; we’re not taking a position). Verdict: On the ball!

24 June 2007: A special “Road to Prosperity” section in the Standard-Examiner features a puffy article about Envision Ogden, with glowing commentary about EO’s web site, its two fundraisers (the February dinner and the June 15 Salomon Center grand opening), and the prospects of attracting more recreation businesses to Ogden. The article makes no attempt to explain the legal status of Envision Ogden, or to disclose the names of any of its leaders besides Shreve. Verdict: Out to lunch.

September 2007: The Standard-Examiner receives documentation that Envision Ogden is a 527 political action committee, and that the city had allowed it to use the Salomon Center for the June 15 event before that building was leased to Gold’s Gym and Fat Cats. The Standard-Examiner decides that these facts are not newsworthy. Verdict: Out to lunch.

16 October 2007: The Standard-Examiner prints a front-page article reporting that City Attorney Gary Williams has written a letter to mayoral candidate Susan Van Hooser, accusing her of violating the prohibition on use of city-owned equipment for political purposes. Her crime? One of her campaign volunteers sent out a mass email to a publicly available list of Chamber of Commerce members, and this list included several Ogden City email addresses. Verdict: Out to lunch.

Late October 2007: The Standard-Examiner learns that Envision Ogden has contributed $1500 to city council candidate Blain Johnson, but decides that this isn’t newsworthy, even though this money may have been raised at a city-owned facility (the Salomon Center). When asked why this is different from the Van Hooser email incident, Managing Editor Andy Howell explains that it’s a matter of whether anyone has taken “official action”: Obviously Gary Williams (who reports to Mayor Godfrey) has not taken any official action to challenge the use of the Salomon Center by Envision Ogden. Verdict: Out to lunch.

14 December 2007: The Standard-Examiner publishes its final article on the 2007 municipal election candidates’ financial disclosure statements. For the city council races the article reports only the total amounts raised by each candidate, with no mention of the astonishing fact that Blain Johnson and Royal Eccles received a majority of their funds from the previously unknown “Friends of Northern Utah Real Estate”. Verdict: Out to lunch.

23 February 2009: The Standard-Examiner refuses to print a guest commentary by yours truly, in which it is explained that Envision Ogden actually “spent $26,884 on the 2007 election, including some direct expenditures in support of the mayoral campaign and several large contributions to another entity that immediately forwarded the money to city council candidates.” Howell explains that the commentary is being rejected because it was written partly in response to an editorial, which apparently isn’t permitted except from authors who are the subject of the editorial. Nobody in the news department picks up on the tip that the allegations are documented in publicly available IRS records. Verdict: Out to lunch.

3 March 2009: Weber County Forum publishes full documentation showing how FNURE laundered over $20,000 of campaign contributions from Envision Ogden to candidates Johnson and Eccles. WCF also publishes a list of Envision Ogden’s major contributors, which include banks, hospitals, and the State of Utah. The Standard-Examiner takes no notice. Verdict: Out to lunch.

31 March 2009: After learning that City Attorney Williams has allowed Johnson and Eccles to amend their disclosure statements, and has thus pronounced the FNURE problem “cured”, and after a Salt Lake Tribune article on the same subject appeared on the web the previous afternoon, the Standard-Examiner covers these events in its first article on Envision Ogden since June 2007. Verdict: On the ball!

5 April 2009: The Standard-Examiner publishes an in-depth article on Envision Ogden, focusing on how several of its contributors were unaware that their donations could be diverted to political candidates. (This is the article that prompted the Attorney General’s office to open a criminal investigation.) Verdict: On the ball!

20 April 2009: The Standard-Examiner receives an emailed news tip (from yours truly) that the mayor’s office was involved in soliciting contributions for Envision Ogden. The tip is never acknowledged or acted upon. Verdict: Out to lunch.

23 April 2009: In its fifth article on Envision Ogden in less than a month, the Standard-Examiner reports that according to EO leader Abraham Shreve, “it was always the organization’s intent to support political candidates....” Verdict: On the ball!

28 April 2009: The Standard-Examiner publishes the second of two articles on a totally frivolous election complaint by Bob Geiger, intended to divert the public’s attention away from Envision Ogden and toward alleged campaign finance violations by former city council candidate Dirk Youngberg. Then, having trivialized the issue, the Standard-Examiner drops the Envision Ogden story for the next year and a half. Verdict: Out to lunch.

28 May 2009: When asked (by yours truly) why the Standard-Examiner has never reported on Mayor Godfrey’s connection to Envision Ogden, Executive Editor Andy Howell says he thinks “everybody knows” about the connection already, and therefore it’s not newsworthy. Howell also says he believes that the Envision Ogden story has run its course, so the Standard-Examiner won’t be printing any more articles on it unless there is some further official action. Verdict: Out to lunch.

10 November 2010: After the Salt Lake City Weekly tips them off to the state investigation, the Standard-Examiner prints a new article on Envision Ogden in which they finally inquire into Godfrey’s role. Godfrey admits that “he raised funds for Envision Ogden that he knew could be given to political candidates....” Verdict: On the ball!

16 November 2010: After obtaining the state investigation report through an open records request, the Standard Examiner prints an article summarizing the report and emphasizing that the investigation was “sparked” by the Standard-Examiner article of 5 April 2009. Verdict: On the ball!

So in summary, the Standard-Examiner deserves credit for printing quite a few articles about Envision Ogden over the last four years. They’ve broken essential new ground in several of these articles, most notably when they interviewed Envision Ogden’s contributors. At other times they’ve been just a short step behind the Salt Lake newspapers.

But on multiple occasions, the Standard-Examiner has refused to follow-through on its own reporting. Its initial article in February 2007 failed to answer the obvious questions about Envision Ogden’s purpose and leadership—yet the Standard-Examiner never asked those questions again. Its uncritical coverage during 2007 undoubtedly played a role in misleading contributors about Envision Ogden's true purpose. The 2009 coverage laid bare the organization's fraudulent activities, and raised the obvious question of how an unknown, unregistered organization was able to raise so much money so quickly—yet the Standard-Examiner never asked contributors who it was that had solicited their contributions. Even this month, rather than looking into the possible felony charges that Envision Ogden’s leaders might face, the Standard-Examiner chose only to ask the Lieutenant Governor’s office about possible minor violations of election laws.

The Standard-Examiner has also been consistent in its refusal to act on the basis of news tips from private citizens, or on the basis of reports on Weber County Forum—no matter how well documented. And now we know that some of their staff even hold us in contempt. Therefore, new developments in this story must apparently include “official action” before the Standard-Examiner considers them newsworthy.

This apparent policy is especially troubling because the Attorney General’s office declined to open any investigation into Envision Ogden until after it saw evidence of fraud in a Standard-Examiner article. If public officials won’t act until something appears in the newspaper, while the newspaper won’t print a story until public officials act, we have a serious chicken-and-egg problem. On more than one occasion, the Envision Ogden story has nearly died because neither the prosecutors nor the press wanted to be the first to stick their necks out.

But the story isn’t dead yet, and neither is the investigation. Whatever happens next, I’m confident that we’ll see further coverage in the Standard-Examiner.

44 comments:

Monotreme said...

My verdict on this article: on the ball!

Curmudgeon said...

An interesting chronology. The key point for me is the SE's spiking continuing coverage of the EO/FNURE/Administration involvement story unless/until some official action was taken by someone. Suggests that on this story [which should have been prime meat for the SE since it happened in its backyard], the SE chose to be largely reactive, rather than following up actively on its own initial reporting [and information in the pubic record].

That's the problem. Not some SE conspiracy to dance to the Mayor's tune or to cover up and protect [as some here have alleged], but a lack of aggressive probing, investigating and reporting on a story involving possible election illegalities by the Administration and its close supporters in the business community. It kept waiting for others to act so it would have something to report instead of digging out the news itself as urban dailies used to do as a matter of course.

But then, used to be most urban dailies had in-town competition. With two or even three local papers hitting the streets each day, papers fought for circulation and readers, and breaking stories about election and government skulduggery and asking questions of public officials that they'd rather not have been asked was one way to compete. That aggressive approach to reporting on urban government seems sadly to have been lost in now one-newspaper towns like Ogden. And until the SE adopts a more aggressive approach to covering public officials, elected or appointed, including digging for answers when those officials become evasively coy [e.g. the questions not answered in the SE's first story on EO], not much is going to change.

I know newspaper revenues are down, ads are way down, and papers don't have the resources to devote to investigative reporting they used to. Nevertheless, Ogden is the SE's home turf, and what happens here has got to be a major focus of the paper's reporting. And yes, that necessarily should involve digging for answers rather than waiting for a press release to pass on to readers.

The SE's tape they play while you're on hold to the circulation department notes that the average story length on TV news is 30 seconds, and that for the big picture and the full story, folks ought to read the newspaper. All true. But then, that paper has to do the necessary digging on stories like this one to be worth its readers' time. For the most part, on this story, the SE seems to have been reactive not proactive. Being proactive on continuing stories is what the best papers are, and Ogden ought to have one of the best.

Dan S. said...

Curm, although I don't disagree with your interpretation of these events, I would add that the S-E actually went out of its way to ignore the information that I and others repeatedly handed them, on a silver platter, during two time periods:

* Fall 2007, when they learned EO was a 527 PAC; and

* Spring 2009, when they learned the mayor had solicited contributions for EO.

If the S-E had merely failed to aggressively ask questions, we could attribute this to laziness or lack of resources. But when they ignore news that falls into their lap, there must be a further explanation.

The obvious explanation is fear. I've encountered this same fear as I've asked others to speak out on this issue, or even to attend the press conference that we held last week. A lot of folks have told me that they privately support what I'm doing, but they feel they can't get involved because of the controversy. The S-E has never told me that, of course, but the feeling is so pervasive that I don't see how their offices could avoid it.

A second explanation may be pride. When a private citizen, or an amateur blog, uncovers information that they don't already have, their top priority seems to be to marginalize those sources by declaring the information unnewsworthy. They love being the sole gatekeeper that determines what is and isn't news around Ogden.

Fortunately, they've also been able to overcome their fear and their pride from time to time--hence their occasional on-the-ball reporting.

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:

I don't know enough about SE staffers and management to speculate about motives behind news decisions regarding what to cover and how deeply and when. As a subscriber and reader, what I care about is what hits my front doorstep each morning, and whether it's the best paper it can be. Could be. Should be.

But for the sake of argument, if you're right about professional pride [or ego] and the paper's loving "being the sole gatekeeper that determines what is and isn't news around Ogden" affecting news judgment, then it seems to me obvious that the best way to achieve that is to become, without question, the go-to-source for important Ogden news, to become the first place people find the real skinny on what's happening in O-Town. As the notorious traitor and cavalry commander Nathan Bedford Forrest reportedly put it, it's important to be "fustest with the mostest." Indeed it often is. Especially for newspapers.

Stephen M. Cook said...

Perpetuating a spirit of contention is not encouraged by the elephant in the room and, what a clean healthy beautiful state Utah is and what a fine fine morning.
We are of the mind that a decision to was made early into the current tyrants reign to be first and foremost reporters of the news, only becoming involved and driving the story if the tag was positive and uplifting and local. In short, not to be a corruption exposing investigative reporting yellow sheet.
Fair and balanced: weighted the kings coin to that slight man ensconced on the ninth.



It is noted that the Standard Examiner, privately owned and none of my fucking business, has been increasing its base; no small feat during these culturally lackluster times. One will suppose: if we wanted a different newspaper, we would have one, change begins right here, and outliers be damned.

Curmudgeon said...

SMC:

In re: "and local." You're right about that part of it, and that was I think a good decision. The strategy was to focus on news people couldn't find faster on CNN for Fox or anywhere on line, and that meant local news primarily. But once that decision was made, and I think it was a wise one, the inevitable corollary should have been obvious: that the SE must be first on the ground with important local stories, and continue to follow them as they developed over time because (a) nobody else was going to do it and (b) that's how readers would be convinced that the SE is absolutely without serious competition the source for important local stories --- not the SL Trib, not the City Weekly, not KSL etc. That's how readers would come to expect the SE to be their default go-to-source for such news reported first and in the most depth day by day and over time.

Neil Hansen said...

This is the problem we have in our community, that is no one is willing to take responsibility for any thing that happens. I always thought that the press was the ones to call for check and balances in the system. When will they realize it was the Washington post that uncovered the water gate scandal.

Dan, You hit the nail right on the head.
This apparent policy is especially troubling because the Attorney General’s office declined to open any investigation into Envision Ogden until after it saw evidence of fraud in a Standard-Examiner article. If public officials won’t act until something appears in the newspaper, while the newspaper won’t print a story until public officials act, we have a serious chicken-and-egg problem. On more than one occasion, the Envision Ogden story has nearly died because neither the prosecutors nor the press wanted to be the first to stick their necks out.

I say once again, When will they realize it was the Washington post that uncovered the water-gate scandal.
from that we have accountability of those involved.

.Godfrey is a big government moron said...

Two rules to eliminate the corporo-fascist leanings of Ogden City Government:

1) Cancel your subscription to the Standard-Examiner

2) Vote "Anybody but Godfrey in 2011.

ozboy said...

You'ze egg heads can intellectualize what the standard is and what it ain't all day long, but in my opinion it boils down to one thing - the Standard is a sub standard rag owned by out of state interests who don't give a damn about what really goes on in Ogden, but is instead only interested in how much cash they can extract from the town. In so doing they pay the minimum they can get away with which then results in sub standard reporting by really low quality and incurious hacks like Schwepke who are controlled by low intellectual level supervisory lumps like Howell. None of this crew from Sandusky know about, or care about, the traditional fire wall between the ad department and the news department. They grub around worried about offending advertisers instead of pursuing the truth. On top of everything else there is still that little matter of them kicking back in their newer mega million dollar digs that they got a great penney's on the dollar deal on thanks to Godfrey and the wallets of the Ogden tax payers who paid for it.

They are leeches on the people of Ogden and an embarrassment to the news paper industry. Howell and Scwepke are sad jokes.

Curmudgeon said...

Godfrey Is A:

If the SE had gone out of business, as you seem to want it to, then there would have been no story for Neil to pass on to the AG, and so no AG investigation into the matter at all. You may think that would have been an improvement on things. I don't.

As for you second advice, I agree, but voters had the chance to do that twice since Hizzonah became Hizzonah, Da Mayor, and they didn't do it. Nor do I see how driving the SE under is likely to improve the chances of replacing him with someone better [if he decides to run again] will be improved by having no daily paper covering Ogden matters.

When pushing for improvements in pretty much anything, it's important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I would like to see a better SE land on my front steps each morning, not no SE.

Curious 1 said...

There was an Ogden weekly printed years ago that did critize the mayor and other problems in Ogden. The city pulled all of it legal announcements and ads from the paper and it went out of print for that and a few other reasons.
The city does have ad money to spread around and it all goes to the SE, plus the Chamber money, the 25th st money, realtors, if they all stop paying the SE it would be a much smaller paper.

Dan S. said...

Regarding Curm's advice that the S-E try to be "the go-to source for important Ogden news", sure. That's what they try to be. And when they're scooped by the Trib or even the City Weekly, their response is almost always to out-do the other paper with better follow-up coverage. But when the competition is Weber County Forum, they seem to have made a tactical decision that it's better to respond by simply ignoring the story. If nobody but WCF readers ever finds out about it, it ain't news.

However, with the Envision Ogden story, they've twice had to go back and implicitly admit that the story was newsworthy after all. That can't be good for their egos. Even then, however, very few of their readers have ever learned that the S-E knew the facts months before it printed the story.

Regarding the option of canceling subscriptions, I recall that one of the Saturday navel-gazing columns by Greiling or Howell recently mentioned that even some of the S-E's biggest critics are also its most loyal subscribers. I suspect he was thinking of Curm and myself (among others) when he wrote that.

Oz, I don't disagree that the S-E's bottom-line goal is no more and no less than to make a profit. That's true of virtually all media companies, and it's something that consumers of news need to be constantly aware of. But the shortcomings of for-profit journalism manifest themselves in different ways, depending on local circumstances. The stronger the competition, the less likely it is that a newspaper will decide it can profit more by ignoring a story.

On the other hand, I've still never seen any evidence that the S-E got special treatment from the city on the land for its new building. And when I've asked you about this before, you've admitted you didn't have the evidence. They traded their old downtown location, with a building, for the bare land where they put their new building. Was this a fair trade? Was one worth more than the other? I have no idea and from what I've heard, neither do you.

Danny said...

What Ozboy said.

Dan S. said...

Curious 1 refers to the Northern Utah Junction, a free bimonthly (I think) tabloid published by Maury Grimm from 1998 through 2004. I remember reading about how Godfrey pulled the city's ads from the NUJ because he didn't like some of their coverage of city politics--though I don't remember what specifically he was upset about, and I don't know whether this had a significant impact on the NUJ's finances or contributed to its ultimate demise.

Elmer Ward said...

Dan S. As a former DDO.BDO employee I remember a large building at DDO. While additions and expansion occured they did receive a building on the land where the new S-E building now stands.

Noam Chomsky said...

All of this is explained in my book.

Stanley said...

I agree with Ozboy's assessment of Schwepke and the Standard. I think that the internet postings by Schwepke and the former editor is clear evidence of their lack of professionalism and competence. I don't have the proof, but it seems to me that Dan, Rudi and others on this Forum did most of the research and piecing together of this illegal escapade of the mayor's. For the two Standard guys to be denigrating Dan is awfully petty of them considering there wouldn't be a story if not for his great work.

And Dan, you seem to be a little harsh toward Oz on the Standard's arrangement with the city over their new offices. I think it was well documented four or five years ago that the Standard enjoyed a very favorable deal with the city taking their old plant in trade on the new property at the BDO. Like Oz, I don't have that "proof" at my immediate disposal, but I recall, the Weber Forum discussed the matter and the numbers were out there at that time. Perhaps Rudi could come up with some references about the Standard arrangement with the City? Or maybe some one else has some evidence or numbers that would show the true nature of that "sweet heart" deal? As I recall, there was more to the circumstances surrounding the building of their new facility than you imply. It seemed to me that there was a substantial public subsidy in all aspects of the arrangement.

Dan S. said...

Stanley, I've gone back and read everything on this subject on WCF since its beginning in 2005. Even then the story was old and nobody had documentation to support the rumors.

So at this point I simply have no basis for believing one side's version of the story or the other's.

Curmudgeon said...

SE has just put up on line an interactive map of future Ogden improvements downtown. It reveals the proposed location of the Matthew Godfrey Wonder Dome [aka "velodrome" aka "fieldhouse"]. Link here.

The Wonder Dome is planed for both sides of Grant Avenue just west of the Berthana Building, and just east of the Marriott Hotel. It's not clear from the graphic whether the building would block off Grant Ave. at that point.

The map also reveals plans for a skywalk connecting the Convention Center with the second floor of the Keisel Building with a connection through to the Berthana building. And a downtown trolley loop is included as well.

Just roll your cursor over the colored sections to see a brief write-up on each project.

Dan S. said...

Just finished reading Saturday's Standard-Examiner and I must say it's a disappointment. For one thing, there's nothing about downtown Ogden development proposals or the web map that Curm mentions. Guess we'll have to wait another day for that. Also, at a time when a little introspection on their part is especially called for, the weekly Howell-Greiling navel-gazing column is missing! But at least they have plenty of religion stories, and a sports article on the front page, and two articles about Black Friday shoppers.

Curmudgeon said...

Well, let's see: the SL Trib [sometimes touted here as providing better Ogden coverage than the SE] this morning highlights sports all across the top of its front page, and it includes a 14 page sports-only section, including in that a four page wraparound exclusively on college football and especially The Holy War game. And it offers as well a five page section exclusively on matters religious. Plus the lead story on the Trib's front page is about... Black Friday shoppers.

Fact is, sports news is popular, and no daily would survive that didn't cover sports, particularly but not exclusively, local sports prominently. And news about religion as as much news as news about downtown development projects. I'm not a believer, but I read both the Trib and SE "Faith" sections religiously since it really does matter what the professedly godly are up to in these parts. They need keeping an eye on, and the SE and Trib's Saturday "Faith" sections help me do that.

And news about what happened on Black Friday [and what didn't] is news, and important news, for the economy locally and nationally, and it's social history as well. Stories like the Black Friday ones in both papers are good illustrations of the generally true quip about newspapers often being the "first draft of history."

Finally, the SE does have up on line its interactive site on planned downtown developments mentioned above. You will search the Trib this morning in vain for Ogden development stories.

Finally, the SE has had a habit for about a year now of putting stuff up on its website that doesn't appear in the print edition until some days later [stories that are not time sensitive, and the downtown development story is not]. And the downtown development map includes real news, I think --- at least the news was new to me --- and I expect that the SE will be doing stories on what it briefly made public via its interactive on line map. [After all, you can't put an interactive map in the dead tree edition.] News contained on the map includes (a) location of the proposed Matthew Godfrey Wonder Dome [aka "velodrome," aka "fieldhouse"] (b) news that the construction of the Wonder Dome will require the demolition of several buildings, it seems, along Grant, perhaps displacing some businesses? [Hard to tell from the map.] (c) News that an expansion of the Convention Center into the Keisel Building and perhaps the Berthana building is planned, to be reached via skywalk from the current Convention Center. I presume stories dealing with all that are in the works. The SE would be foolish not to follow up, reasonably quickly, with print stories on news its map first made public.

But we shall see.

ND said...

A bridge connection from the conference center to the Kiesel Building which will connect to the Berthana..ummm....what about the building in between those 2? What is the going to be the use of the Kiesel Building? The Berthana?..The Berthana is in need of serious renovation...as in BIG BUCKS...I'm sure all those floors line up for all this...waiting with baited breathe for tommorrow SE to see how this plays out...of course we have to see the results of the study too..

Dan S. said...

Curm:

To clarify, I wasn't attempting to compare the S-E to the Trib or to any other paper. Also, I have no objection to newspapers covering sports or religion or shopping, so long as these things don't displace news coverage. I would point out that while some of the religion articles qualify as genuine news (which I also value), many of them are really feature stories--the two most prominent in today's S-E being about annual Christmas shows that the Mormons and Baptists are putting on. Again, that's ok, as long as it doesn't displace news.

The Black Friday shopping articles are so completely predictable that you could write them yourself, ahead of time, once you know the weather forecast.

Dan S. said...

Regarding the downtown Godfrey Wonder Dome:

Yes, the plan is to block off Grant Ave. and tear down the buildings on either side. I've also heard that since the city is out of collateral to underwrite more debt, the plan is for the county to pay for most of it.

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:

Those are just the sorts of things the SE ought to be uncovering and reporting to its readers. Hope it will, shortly. Be nice, this time round, to have a lot of information about what's being planned out in the public domain before Hizzonah springs one of his patented "Here's the plan, and you have to approve it right now or the window of opportunity will close" dog-and-pony shows for the Council and public.

ND said...

As in how the Kiesel and Berthana owners fit into this?

you who said...

As in how the Kiesel and Berthana owners fit into this?

FOM, enough said.

Dan S. said...

While we wait for tomorrow's Wonder Dome article, here are some more rumors I've heard: Godfrey is twisting arms at the Ogden and Weber school districts, as well as WSU, to get them to chip in and help fund the thing. Now that the archery folks have pulled out, there are no rumors of private funding sources. A few weeks ago there was a junket on the Lindquist jet to the LA velodrome, with Doug Stephens and a council staff person and RAMP administrator Mike Caldwell in attendance. Plans are afoot for another junket, this time to Kansas City.

au contraire said...

"On more than one occasion, the Envision Ogden story has nearly died because neither the prosecutors nor the press wanted to be the first to stick their necks out."

It's not "stickin their necks out." It's called "doing the jobs" newspapers and criminal prosecutors are assigned under our wonderful American democratic system of government.

Curmudgeon said...

Au contraire:

Yup. Precisely.

Dan S. said...

When Godfrey is holding the axe, it's sticking their necks out.

swirlinmg rumours said...

I heard from a reliable source that Councilman Stephens "creamed his jeans" at being a passenger on a Lindquist private jet.

Don't count on Stephens to vote no on this boondoggle.

Strange world, innit, when morons like Stephens behave like "Johns" in a early 20th century Ogden brothel?

ND said...

Can't imagine the county falling for this...but stranger things have happened....closing off Grant....good grief...

ozboy said...

Mssrs Curmudgeon & Dan

This discussion you'ze been having here on the WCF about the new MG Wonder Dome and proposed down town changes is precisely the reason that Schwepke & Porter are so petulant and petty with you. You all keep scooping him and the lame ass newspaper (so called) that he is a slave to!

I'd be a little ticked off myself if I were a high fallutin and real important news paper reporter and some busy body non-pro's kept beating me to the punch on the important stories in town. It would be especially galling if these amateurs consistently kept showing me up on a local blog frequented by a Pack-O-NaySayers!

David S. said...

Utah v BYU on Channel 37

Hopeful in Huntsville said...

Too Bad Wicks and Morgan didn't get elected. There is no way the county would be playing along with this garbage if they were to take over in January. Weber County needs to wake up.

Curmudgeon said...

Ah... Oz, this particular discussion was touched off by the interactive map on downtown development, printed by the SE.

And much of what's been talked about is, unless and until confirmed, rumor. Possibly potential leads for the paper to follow up, but until confirmed, rumor, as Dan noted. We can hope of course that the paper's city beat people have heard the same rumors and are checking them as we type.

Maybe what the SE could use is a Paul Rolly "Heard on the Street" column about Ogden/Weber as vehicle to get out there items not quite ready for prime time stories. But even Rolly checks his facts before printing. Mostly.

David S. said...

... and what a game it was.

Curmudgeon said...

David S:

Yup. Really impressed by BYU. For a team that was afraid to stay in a MWC with both Boise St and TCU in it, and which wasn't good enough to convince another major conference to take it in, they put up an impressive struggle.

Dan S. said...

The article to go with the downtown map is up on the S-E web site:

What's next for Ogden?

And it's a bit of a disappointment: mostly a summary of what we already knew about a whole list of projects, with only tidbits of new information about each. Still, it's a useful summary for the vast majority of readers who don't keep careful track of such things.

Regarding the Wonder Dome, it says Godfrey is promising to solicit private donations, but no potential private donors are named. He claims WSU and Weber County "have expressed interest in partnering", but no attempt was made to contact spokespersons for either of these potential partners. There's no mention of the school districts.

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:

Nor is there any mention of the expansion of the Convention Center [into the Keisel and Berthana buildings?] via the proposed sky bridge connecting the CC to those buildings. Information about that project would have been more helpful than yet another rehash of the latest wishin' and hopin' and dreamin' in re: the moribund River Project.

As you said, much of the article was a rehash, sometimes in the same language, of stories already run. Very little new provided. And adding in a couple of local apparel shops that have opened downtown, one with no city funding assistance at all [how did that happen?] seems like a reach for an article about downtown development projects.

It would, as you note, have been interesting to have had comments from WSU, and the School Board regarding their alleged interest in financial participation in the Wonder Dome, now that the only private funding formerly on line, the $2million from the archery group, is no longer on the table.

And if the only replies the SE could get from WSU or the School Board was "no comment," then it could have and should have reported that.

Curmudgeon said...

The SE has just posted another article on downtown development proposals. This one deals exclusively with the proposed expansion of the Convention Center via skybridge into the Keisel Building. Contains much information that is new. Link to the article is here.

Curmudgeon said...

SE just put up a new article dealing with the expansion of the Conference Center via skywalk into the Keisel Building. Includes much new detail about proposed funding for the project, new clubs, restaurants for the Berthana Building, etc. Link here.

ND said...

And yet another "developer" that cannot be named.....

Soooo..Weber County's involvement in the Kiesel and Berthana is interesting...via the city? I find 14 million quite a little on the light side for a 150,000 SF building...including land? rots of ruck

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