Monday, January 31, 2011

Weber County Forum Special: An Independant Analysis of the Ogden Fieldhouse Feasibility Study

A highly instructive Dan Schroeder report which highlights the public risk of the Ogden Fieldhouse Project

In the midst of an otherwise slow news day, we have a very special treat for our gentle Weber County Forum readers this morning.

Regular WCF contributor Dan Schroeder has been doing some serious gumshoe work, and has submitted to us a quite remarkable document pertaining the the Ogden Fieldhouse Project. Dan has carefully sliced and diced the December 29, 2010 Health & Leisure Advisors Ogden Fieldhouse Feasibility Study, conducted at least one telephone interview with the President of H&LA consultants, performed a few calculations and produced the following report and analysis, the product of which we are now delighted to present, for the enlightenment of our WCF readership:
(It's our understanding that Professor Schroeder has also submitted this document to Ogden City and Weber County officials.)

The document speaks for itself; so we'll skip our usual tedious summary and re-analysis, except to generally note that Dan's report exposes the weakness of some of the fundamental assumptions underlying the H&LA Feasibility Study and highlights the public risk of this project (possible downside, -$1.4 million/yr.). We're putting this up in raw form, but nevertheless invite our readers to chime in with your own comments and observations relative to this new and highly instructive Dan Schroeder document.

Don't let the cat get your tongues... there's much in Dan's newest report which merits even more thorough WCF reader discussion.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Standard-Examiner: OUR VIEW: Voters Should Decide Field House

The Standard believes a large-scale vote, possibly county-wide, would provide necessary respectability and community ownership for the project

Submitted by: ND

Say it ain't so... Standard-Examiner editorial saying voters should decide on funding the project and not fund it from pockets all over the place...
We support the idea of Ogden city officials and others in creating a multipurpose field house in Junction City.
However, extending the life of the Business Depot Ogden economic development project area to garner $15 million in tax increment money is not the best way to provide financing for the project.
In order to provide legitimacy to the field house project, as well as assurance that the $40 million project would be a success, either a bond proposal or a sales tax initiative vote should be provided.
Here's the surprizing full editorial:
About passed out.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cognitive Dissonance On The American Liquor Law Front

We're totally flummoxed on this Church v. State Issue... How 'bout you?

Fascinating story from the Wall Street Journal, which reports that red-neck bible belt Georgians are a-fixin' open up the doors, and to sell demon rum to Sinners, even on (gasp) Sundays:
Meanwhile back at the headquarters of the "tea-totalling Utah Taliban," the business genuises at the Utah Legislature are figuring out ways to cut the expenses (and revenues) for the most profitable state-operated entity ever, the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, within the Socialist Monopoly Utah Gummint Holy Scheme:
Somethin' to think about, wethinks, the next time one of these holy-roller GOP skunks from the legislature righteously proclaims that "We're committed to promoting a friendly local Utah busiuness climate," NO?

And please... somebody explain why Utah Legislators always feel the compelling urge to consult "LDS Church Elders," any time they contemplate the need to bring Utah's liquor laws into the mainstream of 20th Century America?

Shouldn't our right wing legislature just "privatize" the liquor business, and turn the whole danged headache over to the "private sector," which they all generally profess to love O So Much?

We're totally flummoxed on this Church v. State Issue, and wonder why our legislative right-wing nutcases don't practice what they preach. How 'bout you?

Just axin...

ReGiMe CHaNGe RiSK-oN!

The brand new board game everyone is talking about...

By: Danny

For a great set of photos on the Egyption elections going on right now, click here:
The reason for these elections is a man named Ben Bernanke, who is currently the banking cartel's puppet in Washington DC, running their private money mill called the Federal Reserve. For some pictures of Bennie,the man who is destroying the world, click here:
Maybe we are finally starting to see this whole inevitable endgame starting to happen.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Standard-Examiner: Ogden River Project Master Plan To Be Unveiled Tonight - Updated

Eight long years in the making, this is a presentation which Ogden City political wonks will definitely not want to miss

On the heels of Tuesday's announcement, and in eager anticipation of tonight's gala public event, Ace Reporter Schwebke breathlessly provides a reminder this morning of tonight's Godfrey administration shindig, wherein Boss Godfrey's menagerie of slavish hired hands will perform for your amusement and reveal their long-awaited, final, final, final, final Leshemville Ogden River Project "Master Plan":
Eight long years in the making, this is a presentation which Ogden City political wonks will definitely not want to miss:

We'll leave the lights on in the lower comments section of course, for anyone who'd care to lodge their savvy remarks before, during or after tonight's totally boffo block-buster event.

Update 1/28/11 7:00 a.m.: The Standard-Examiner carries a short post-open house writeup this morning, confirming what Bill C. reported in WCF last night, i.e., that Boss Godfrey's $50 thousand Urban Design Associates plan was whipped up only at the very last minute. The hastily prepared master plan "received rave reviews from several people who attended an open house," according to Mr. Schwebke, (two, to be exact):
Still no word about who will be expected to foot the bill for construction of this ridiculously extravagant project.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Twelve Years of Godfrey Are Enough

Godfrey's dismal record speaks for itself

By Ozboy

There is a very good letter to the editor on the Standard site from the ever sensible David Smith - who incidentally I think would make a great Ogden mayor.

See it here:
Nuff said?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Standard-Examiner: Ogden Plans River Project Open House

A rare opportunity to provide citizen input for one of Boss Godfrey's most messed-up pet projects, before it gets rammed down the taxpayers' throats

For those who missed it in this lower comments thread, please take note of Ogden City's Thursday evening (6:00 to 8:00 p.m) open house, where the public will "have an an opportunity to review and comment on development recommendations for the Ogden River Project." Here's yesterday's announcement from the Standard-Examiner:
Mark your calenders folks, for a rare opportunity to provide citizen input for one of Boss Godfrey's most messed-up BIG GOVERNMENT-style pet projects, before it gets rammed down the taxpayers' throats.

Here's a link to our Weber County Forum article collection on this project, by the way, for those readers who'd like to "bone up" prior to Thursday's event.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Salt Lake Tribune: Study: Ogden’s Supersized Rec Center Will Work???

Worth a read, despite the inaccurate headline

By Curmudgeon

The Salt Lake Tribune has a long story up this morning on the Godfrey Wonder Dome and the feasibility study. The Trib's story, like the Standard's, does not inform readers that the Mayor retroactively waived the competitive bid requirements after he'd already hired the company to do the study and had its report in hand. The Trib story is here:
Worth a read, though note the inaccurate headline, which says the study says the "supersized" project "will work." What the story makes clear is that the study says it could work, if a lot of other things happen.

Standard-Examiner: Ogden Wants to Extend BDO Projects

A vote by the Taxing Entity Committee to approve the BDO RDA extension would constitute a flagrant breach of the fiduciary duties owed by committee members to the taxpayers of Weber County

In Thurday's Weber County Forum writeup and analysis, Dan Schroeder reported that the proposed extension of a then unspecified redevelopment area "would divert property tax revenue from the various taxing entities to the field house project" and that the an extension of such an RDA area "would presumably require a vote of the Taxing Entity Committee, whose members represent several of the larger taxing entities."
Today's Standard-Examiner story now identifies the particular RDA area which would be subject to Boss Godfrey's knuckle-headed financing scheme and reports that $15 million would come from a 5-year extension of tax increment collection from Business Depot Ogden (BDO) beyond its scheduled expiration in 2019:
BDO tax income is about as reliable a source of tax revenue as any taxing entity could hope for; and in our view these taxing entities would have to have rocks in their heads to give up five years of reliable tax revenue and go along with Boss Godfrey's BDO-based RDA extension scheme. In our never humble opinion, the approval of a five-year extension of the BDO area RDA would not serve the best interests of these taxing entities; and a vote by the Taxing Entity Committee to approve such an extension would constitute a flagrant breach of the fiduciary duties owed by individual committee members to the taxpayers of Weber County.

Although Ogden City Community and Economic Development Director Richard McConkie suggests that the $15 million in lost tax revenue "could ultimately be offset and surpassed by taxes generated by downtown development sparked by the field house," it's not the role of tax entity committee members to gamble with taxpayer money on "iffy projects."

That's our opinion and we're stickin' with it.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

Ogden’s Aquarium - Talk About the WOW Factor

If the City and the County are serious in promoting, developing and investing in the future let us invest in something that isn’t just a fad

By: Rob Garner

I say if you’re going to build something why don’t you build something that will actually attract people?

When you talk about a WOW factor what conjures up more excitement in your mind, a field house or an aquarium? What contributes more to the community as a whole? What is something that can be enjoyed by one and all? Yes an aquarium would be more money but the financial probability of a successful aquarium would be multiples better than that a field house. What would contribute more to the community and put the city on the map? With that in mind please watch the attached YouTube videos. Prepare yourself be mesmerized:
These videos were taken at the Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa Japan, one of the larger aquariums but not as large as the one in Georgia.

Let me point out a few considerations for the community and the decision makers:
  1. Audience? – Broad appeal for young and old, athletic and non-athletic from just about everyone in Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. I’m constantly amazed at the number people from Montana, Idaho and Wyoming that tell me once that they know that I’m from Utah that they have been here. Why because of Lagoon, the closest amusement park for 600 miles. Out of State visitors will need overnight accommodations and places to eat.
  2. Cost of Construction? – Two examples of fairly recent facilities that range in size and cost: Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas - Completed at a cost of nearly $60 million, the facility opened on June 20, 2000 and since then the Shark Reef Aquarium has inspired over 10 million visitors, and has been visited by over 150,000 of the Las Vegas Valley's school children that have had the opportunity to visit Shark Reef under the school group program.
Here are some illustrative links (Please click on the pictures in the first link):
The Georgia Aquarium, the largest in the world, was built and completed in late 2005 for $290 million (mainly by private donations). Since then there have been over 11 million visitors to the aquarium and it employs some 400 people:
There are several aquariums around the country but none of any real attraction or notoriety in close proximity. Ogden and Weber County has the opportunity to get involved in the building of one locally that would make a difference to the community and one where the local government’s contribution would be affordable. One large enough to get the WOW factor. A facility that could start out with one larger sized tank but then is added onto in “wings and exhibits” much like museums do.

Though this is more expensive than a field house (though the costs of this project seem to keep going up,) an aquarium is more likely to accomplish the objective of RAMP, the City and the County. The incremental financial difference between the two projects is not that much but the WOW factor and financial viability are.

Doesn’t Sandy City have an Aquarium? – Yes but it is not getting any traction in the community and frankly I feel that it was because they thought small instead of large, they missed the mark. Ogden should consider a large tank in its initial project with smaller tanks and exhibits to be added over time. In the future Sandy City’s aquarium could most likely be absorbed into Ogden’s aquarium. If Ogden / Weber County were to get behind the idea the city could very well garner whatever attention or donor support the Sandy facility has attracted earmarked but not yet collected on.

Admission Costs? – They vary in the range of $14.00 to 28.00 per person dependent on the facility. Many people buy season passes and school aged kids get discounts. Some of the aquariums offer local discounts as well. Several events take place at these facilities from weddings to company after hour business functions. This would be affordable entertainment at any age.
  1. Financing? – For one thing naming right on an aquarium would be much more lucrative and easier to come by than they would be for a Fieldhouse. Additionally private fund raising for this type of sustaining facility would also be easier, but on top of that there is a good chance for Federal and State financial help. Private donors could donate specific exhibits or wings (named after them) based on their level of donation. Collaborative relationships could be set up with other large aquariums that might also yield additional contributions.
  2. Can one be built so far from the ocean and in a seismic area? – The answer is yes. When you think of inland locations think of where Atlanta, Georgia is located or San Antonio, Texas where Sea World has established itself. When you think of seismic, think of California and yet several are located in California.
  3. Where to locating the facility? – Ogden has two prime vacant locations, the Ogden River Parkway property that as of yet has not moved forward, and the property just north of the Front Runner Station on west Wall Ave. Both locations would be far timelier and efficiently utilized than looking at the acquisition and destruction of existing structures in the immediate downtown area of Ogden.
If the City and the County are serious in promoting, developing and investing in the future let us invest in something that isn’t just a fad (think of the old and since removed White City) but in something that will put us on the map. Something that would create jobs, create a ripple effect throughout the greater Weber County community and something that would attract all kinds of people rather than an elite few that participate in a specialized sport. Let’s put our efforts toward building a legacy that will mean something for generations to come while kick starting the local economy.

I realize that the City, RAMP and the County only have a limited amount of funding; as such both the field house and the Aquarium are not obtainable. Please investigate the possibility of an aquarium before you commit to a field house.

This could be a reality and it is not out of reach with a concerted effort from the City and County government entities assisting private investors and or donors. Watch the YouTube videos again and dream about it folks.


Rob Garner
Ogden, Utah

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Help Wanted: Ogden City Seeks Sports Complex Architect

Anybody want to take a wild guess who'll ultimately wind up with the contract?

Thanks to a tip from gentle reader ND, we learn this morning that Boss Godfrey's administration has placed the following "help wanted" ad in the Standard-Examiner, seeking "sealed Proposals from Architectural firms interested in providing architectural and design services" for a gigantic but unnamed "Ogden sports complex":
The Godfrey administration has already caught embarrassing public flak for its retroactive waiver of competitive Field House architectural bidding, and for secretly funneling $5,000 to Boss Godfrey's hand-chosen current architect, Dan Van Zeben.

It appears that Boss Godfrey is now trying to "cure" the non-competitive bidding problem... retroactively, of course.

Theoretically, this morning's ad opens the door to any architectural firm which might desire to bid its services for this project.

Realistically however, anybody want to take a wild guess who'll ultimately wind up with this contract, assuming that the City Council is willing to approve further architectural funding?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Surveillance Blimp Attracts National Attention

Mayor finally puts Ogden on map.

By Dan Schroeder

After eleven years of complaining that “we're not on the map,” Mayor Godfrey has finally found a way to attract national attention to Ogden. And it's not just the attention of niche publications for skiers and backpackers; Ogden is now on Yahoo News, CBS, Reuters, and dozens of blogs spanning the political spectrum from Talking Points Memo to Free Republic.

What brought our new-found fame? It wasn't an urban gondola; nor was it indoor surfing or skydiving; nor was it pyromaniac urban renewal schemes; nor even chasing police officers’ wives.

No, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the mayoral brainstorm that has finally put Ogden on the map is none other than... The Blimp!

Here’s what they said about it on today’s episode of the NPR news quiz Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me (segment Panel Round Two, starting at 3:10):

Host Peter Sagal: Tom, the mayor of Ogden, Utah has a plan to fight crime. He’s going to unleash the awesome power of what? (In the skies.)

Panelist Tom Bodett: Oh, um, seagulls.

Sagal: No.

Bodett: Oh, camera-toting seagulls.

Sagal: No.

Bodett: Uh, something more predatory—hawks, perhaps.

Sagal: No.

Bodett: Uh, can I have a hint?

Sagal: It’ll be a GOOD YEAR for law enforcement. Really he’s just FLOATING this idea.

Bodett: Oh (chuckles)... blimps!

Sagal: Yes! Crime-fighting blimps, high above Ogden. Mayor Matthew Godfrey of Ogden noticed high-crime cities had one thing in common: no blimps in the skies. There must be a connection. Ogden officials hope that flying an unmanned dirigible around town will aid in surveillance and crime prevention. Criminals will be like, “Hey, let’s steal a TV... Wait what’s that? It's a blimp! Oh, it must be the year 1917; TVs haven't been invented yet; let’s do something else.”... The high-speed chases though, with a blimp, would be very disappointing. Every time the local anchors get excited they’re like, “And the blimp is in pursuit! Oh, the humanity. Looks like the crime blimp has got them this time! Oh, the humanity.”

Double Talk And Cheating From the Federal Reserve

Government officials who are going along with this trick to obfuscate the truth deserve to be put away for the rest of their lives

By: Dorothy Littrell, CPA

It is very important that you understand what has just been done to you financially by U.S. government officials going along with the Federal Reserve Board members:
The Federal Reserve is still bankrupt but a change of reporting liabilities covers up that fact. This change of accounting shows the Fed's losses not as a loss but in effect a liability owed to the U.S. Treasury. That way the Fed's Balance Sheet does not show a Negative Net Worth.

More deceit on the taxpayer so the government can keep doing what it has been doing, which is printing and spending money. This accounting terminology change only delays facing and solving the financial situation the United States government has created for all of us and our unborn children.

The actual facts have not been changed but only recategorized to continue on the same destructive path. Now interest rates will stay at less than 1% while U.S. debt continues to quadruple.

It is obvious that U.S. policy will to be to continue as is until the rest of the world refuses o buy U.S. debt which is the inevitable conclusion. There is no way the Federal Reserve is going to have profits to assign to this reclassification to ever eliminate it from the Fed Balance Sheet.

I hate what we accountants come up with in the way of creative "double-talk" and reclassification in order to mislead and confuse the true facts for the person who does not understand what is really going on.

Government officials who are going along with this accounting terminology maneuver to obfuscate the truth deserve to be put away for the rest of their lives. Instead, they will probably be considered heroes.

Update 1/22/11 2;30 p.m.: Per Dorothy:

Could the Federal Reserve Become Insolvent?

The U.S. Federal Reserve's journey to the outer limits of monetary policy is raising concerns about how hard it will be to withdraw trillions of dollars in stimulus from the banking system when the time is right.
I cannot overstress the importance of this article relating to your financial future. You must become aware of the latest accounting change by the Federal Reserve.

As a CPA I consider it fraud on the part of the Fed to make this change. I have seen nothing in the AICPA governing rules for Certified Public Accountants that acknowledges this change nor approves it.


Standard-Examiner: Outdoor Retail Events Coming to Utah

Ogden City's close proximity to the mountains was a key factor in the decision-making process

By Curmudgeon

Amidst all the sturm und drang involving the Matthew Godfrey Wonderdome matter, some good news for Ogden in the Standard-Examiner passed unnoticed a couple of days ago. Here's the lead:
OGDEN -- The Grassroots Outdoor Alliance has selected the Ogden Eccles Conference Center as the location of its 2011 summer retail show set for June 13-17. The Ogden/Weber Convention & Visitors Bureau and the conference center will host more than 200 independent outdoor industry retailers, vendors and suppliers during the five-day event.
Full story in the SE is here:
That's very good news for Ogden, I thought, and worth noting.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

RAMP Application Outlines Proposed Field House Financing - Updated

$15 million would come from taxing entities via RDA; $4.8 million from RAMP

By Dan Schroeder

The Ogden City administration is proposing to fund the $40 million field house project from a combination of public and private sources, as outlined in the RAMP grant application that it submitted Friday. The proposed funding breakdown includes:
  • Extension of an RDA area: $15 million
  • Private donors: $10 million
  • RAMP: $4.8 million
  • Ogden City: $3.2 million
  • Weber County: $2 million
  • Weber County School District: $2 million
The city’s RAMP application also provides itemized construction cost estimates from three sources, totaling from $33.8 million to $42.2 million. These figures include a new 416-stall parking garage but do not seem to include property acquisition or relocation of utility lines.

The proposed extension of a redevelopment area would divert property tax revenue from the various taxing entities to the field house project. Based on the $15 million total amount and the fraction of taxes that these entities currently collect, their lost revenues due to the extension would be approximately:
  • Ogden City School District: $5.9 million
  • Statewide School Basic Levy: $1.3 million
  • Ogden City: $2.9 million
  • Weber County General Fund: $1.9 million
  • Weber County General Obligation Bond Fund: $280,000
  • Central Weber Sewer District: $750,000
  • Weber Basin Water: $430,000
  • 911 and Emergency Service: $260,000
  • Paramedic Fund: $190,000
  • Mosquito Abatement District: $120,000
  • Weber / Morgan Health: $100,000
  • Library: $560,000
  • Assess & Collect: $320,000
To make up for this lost revenue, the taxing entities could either raise their tax rates or cut services. The city’s RAMP application doesn’t specify the time period over which the $15 million would be collected; nor does it mention any interest on bonds that would be used to borrow against this future revenue stream.

Approval of the proposed RDA extension would presumably require a vote of the Taxing Entity Committee, whose members represent several of the larger taxing entities. In 2009 the committee approved a 12-year extension of the redevelopment area that includes The Junction.

The $4.8 million being requested from RAMP would constitute essentially all of the RAMP funds available for major projects for the next five years, until the RAMP tax automatically expires after 2015. Major projects are those costing more than $200,000, and generally account for one third of all RAMP allocations.

The city’s RAMP application provides no evidence that any funds have been pledged by the other proposed sources: Ogden City, Weber County, the Weber County School District, or the unnamed private donors.

A full copy of the city’s RAMP application is linked here (pdf, 1.9 MB). I obtained the application through a government records request submitted to Weber County on Friday afternoon, and I am grateful for the county’s prompt cooperation. In response to a similar request, Ogden City also offered to provide a copy of the application.

Update 1/21/11 7:28 a.m.: This article is also part of the discussion on Charlie Trentelman's Blogging the Rambler Blog:
Surprise of surprises! Qualms about this nutcase project are evidently not limited to our Weber County Forum readership.

Update 1/24/11 8:00 a.m.: Per Dan S.: Today's S-E reports that the $15 million would come from a 5-year extension of tax increment collection from BDO beyond its scheduled expiration in 2019:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Contact RAMP Committee Decision Makers To Lodge Your Opposition To RAMP Funding Of The "Field House" Project

A high priority call to citizen action... contact the key RAMP decision makers NOW!

In Monday's Standard-Examiner story, Ace Reporter Schwebke revealed that Ogden City has "applied for a $4.8 million Weber County RAMP grant for the field house that could be funded over five years."

In his Monday Magnum Opus, Dan Schroeder made it clear that the Godfrey administration had pulled out all the stops to hustle his knuckleheaded Field House Project forward.

Field House promoters even have a website dedicated to hyping the project, as we noted in our 1/11/11 article on this topic.

What's obvious now is that the Godfrey administration has built up a true head of steam, in typical "hypster" fashion, and that if level headed opponents don't do something about this project, we'll soon have another multi-million dollar boondoggle shoved down the Ogden/Weber County taxpayers' throats. Unfortunately, level headed project opponents have up until now been basically sitting on our thumbs.

In our previous article of 1/11/11, we announced that we would launch our own public relations counter-campaign after last Friday's RAMP grant application deadline.

Time for that citizen counter-offensive, wethinks.

In that connection, we now put the following Weber County Forum resources at our readers' disposal, by which our readers can register their opposition to RAMP funding for this project:

First and foremost, here's a link to our handy new archives utility, with live contact links to the key RAMP grant decision makers. If you'd like to lodge your objections to RAMP funding for the Field House project, we urge you to do that here:
And if you're presently short of reasons and rationales to publicly oppose this project "off the top of your head," be sure to check out these two informational links for inspiration:
Please consider this a high priority call to citizen action. If we don't nip this project in the bud, it's our grandchildrens' generation which will still be be paying off this projected $30 million plus in public obligations.

Please don't dawdle. Contact the key RAMP decision makers NOW!

Update 1/19/11 12:19 p.m.: Be sure to click the little icons at the bottom of this WCF article, to share this citizen call to action on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Let us all do our part to take this message viral!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Standard-Examiner: Ogden Field House Study Released

The SE story focuses on it being managed (but not built) privately

By: ND

Informative article in the Standard-Examiner today about the recently released Fieldhouse Feasibility Study:
The SE story focuses on the Fieldhouse being managed privately... of course if it was such a good idea it would be built privately... the numbers wrangling on the profit it will make is ridiculous... 78k on 6 million... no room for errors there....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Field House Study Bypassed Competitive Bidding

Godfrey signed retroactive waiver last week; consultant funneled funds to architect

By Dan Schroeder

Documents recently released by the Ogden City administration indicate that the city bypassed the usual competitive bidding process when hiring Hotel & Leisure Advisors to perform a feasibility study for the proposed field house project.

Although a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the study was prepared by the city in late October, the RFP was apparently never published as the city’s ordinances normally require. Instead, Mayor Godfrey signed a waiver of competitive bidding procedures on January 11, 2011, after the study was completed. City Ordinance 4-2B-9(G) allows the mayor to waive competitive bidding requirements with justification, and requires that the city council be informed of all such waivers, but does not specify when the waiver must be signed.

The newly released documents also show that H&LA was contracted by the city to funnel $5000 to VanZeben Architecture “to develop a building plan and elevations” for the field house. Mr. Van Zeben has created several versions of architectural sketches of the field house over the last two years, and had previously indicated that he was not being compensated for his services. Here is one of his most recent sketches, which appears in the feasibility study report (click for a larger version):

A comprehensive records request

The newly released documents were provided as part of the city’s response to a formal records request that I filed on November 19, 2010, shortly after the city council approved $38,000 in funding for the feasibility study. My request asked for all city records pertaining to the field house since last April, and specifically asked for records of the feasibility study procurement process.

Although Utah law normally requires the government to respond to a records request within ten business days, Ogden did not begin providing responsive records until December 15, when it allowed me to view an uninteresting file of information that had been gathered on other recreational facilities around the U.S.

Field house emails and plans

A week later, on December 22, the city released a large stack of printed emails pertaining to the field house, from which I copied a small selection that seemed interesting (pdf, 1.2 MB). Some of the emails describe behind-the-scenes efforts at lobbying city council members, county commissioners, and the RAMP board to support the field house. Others describe attempts to solicit funding from the Utah Legislature and the G.S. and D.D. Eccles Foundation (with considerable help from Brad Mortensen of WSU). There’s an email from Greg Easton, dated May 22, explaining why the field house won’t work as an archery facility; and there’s a city-produced drawing showing a proposed alternate location for archery. Other emails reflect the decision to relocate the field house from the previously proposed location northwest of downtown, the subsequent push for a feasibility study, and some early communications with the consultant regarding the details of the study.

Along with the emails, I was given an earlier architectural sketch by Van Zeben, showing yet another possible layout for the field house interior (click for a larger version):

This version includes much less space for the water park. Also, like the later version shown above, it includes ground-floor retail spaces facing both 24th Street and Kiesel Avenue. However, the sketches presented to the public last December, and currently posted on the city’s field house web site, show no retail space. It isn’t clear whether that version was drawn before or after the one in the study report.

The emails also included this aerial photograph of the proposed field house site, showing the buildings slated for demolition and the various utility lines that underlie the area (click for a larger version):

The mayor’s narrative

On December 27, the city released a PowerPoint attachment (converted to pdf, 1.3 MB) to one of the previously released emails. Although this slide show, by Mayor Godfrey, is now out of date with respect to the field house features and location, it shows how the field house fits into the mayor’s larger narrative on “Ogden’s Economic Future”.

The presentation begins with photos of old, abandoned buildings indicating “four decades of decay”, then switches to exciting action photos of snow sports, water sports, climbing, and mountain biking. Next come photos of a rejuvenated downtown Ogden, with maps depicting projects that are supposedly “completed” and “in progress”. After describing the field house itself, the presentation ends with inspiring quotations on the virtues of risk-taking from Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.

The feasibility study contract

Although my November 19 records request specifically asked for the full procurement file for the field house feasibility study, city officials apparently ignored this part of the request until after Christmas. On December 23 I sent a written reminder, and finally, on January 3, the city gave me a copy of the two-page RFP (which had already been published on the city council web site as part of its November 16 information packet). On January 6, I pointed out to the City Recorder that the RFP was undated, and asked for the city’s record of when it was published. The City Recorder then inquired with the Purchasing Supervisor, who responded with a one-line email: “Was not a formal bid. Estimated to be under $25K when the request came in.”

I immediately responded by pointing out that the city’s ordinance requires a competitive bidding process for professional services valued at over $10,000, not $25,000. The ordinance does use the word “estimated”, and it isn’t clear how big a loophole this opens for exceeding the $10,000 threshold. The feasibility study contract was for $38,000.

After another week, on January 13, the city provided me with a copy of the contract itself. The contract is dated November 24, 2010. Attached at the end is Mayor Godfrey’s memorandum, dated January 11, 2011, waiving the competitive bidding process for the consultant’s already-completed work.

Mayor Godfrey used a similar retroactive waiver in 2007 for the already-completed gondola fiscal impacts analysis. I do not know whether Mayor Godfrey has signed such retroactive waivers for other contracts, or whether there have been other contracts, over $10,000, that bypassed the competitive bidding process but for which it was never formally waived.

Still waiting for financial records

After nearly two months, the city’s response to my November 19 records request remains incomplete. For example, the city has not yet released all records of correspondence with H&LA, or any records of correspondence with the other consultant that it supposedly considered.

Furthermore, the city has not yet released any financial records pertaining to the field house project. My request specifically asked for records of financial transactions related to last spring’s Tour de Drome fundraiser, as well as records of payment for recent travel, by city officials and others, to comparable recreational facilities in Los Angeles and Kansas City. The City Recorder tells me that the City Attorney’s office “continues to work” on my request.

Standard-Examiner: Strip Club To Reopen As Historic 25th Street Sports Bar

One young woman evidently has more street smart business sense than the Mayor

By: Curmudgeon

For those who missed the news down below, the Standard-Examiner reports that the Lighthouse Lounge, a subject of discussion here at Weber County Forum over the course of the last year, is moving to Ogden's Historic Two-Five Drive:
Hope you noticed, though, that it won't be a strip joint in its new digs on Historic 25th Street [at the old Angelo's location]. It'll be a sports bar. In the SE story, one of the former-exotic-dancers who's moving to the new location to work as a cocktail waitress said she was a little apprehensive, since the old Lighthouse had an established clientele and reputation as a strip club, but it has no established reputation and clientele as a sports bar. Which suggested to me that the young woman has more street smart business sense than the Mayor.

Best of luck to the new scrubbed clean and sporty Lighthouse, and to that new yogurt joint too.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Standard-Examiner: 25th Annual Hof German Winterfest Kicks Off in Ogden

Local Pagan Plans: Godfrey’s organizers are a bit goofy this year

By: Doctor Opposite

Ogden’s Winterfest is upon us once again and Godfrey’s organizers are a bit goofy this year:
They have run out of good ideas and can only come up with their version of Ring-Around The Stonehenge at Ron Clare Village. That should bring thousands of people to town this weekend, but it has to compete with the Sundance Film Festival. I hope people will make the right choice and support the newest ritual blessed upon us. I’ll look forward to seeing you there:

Ogden Pagans in Wicker Suits march around Ron Clare Stonehenge

Friday, January 14, 2011

Universe City Hosts Free Discussion On Green Space Tonight

Two Weber State University professors have some ideas about how to do it right

By: Caril Jennings

Tonight, January 14 at 6:30 p.m., Universe City Gallery will host Dr. Bryan Dorsey, WSU Geography, in a talk about planning green space in our community. Dorsey will be including information about a student GIS project on this same topic.

He will be joined by Dr. Dan Schroeder, Department Chair of the WSU Physics Departrment, and a member of Ogden's Green Space Committee.

Here's more from the Standard-Examiner:
This is a free event and open to the public.

Light refreshments will be served. A questions and answer period will follow the discussion.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Standard-Examiner: Ogden Eyes Eye-in-the-Sky

Boss Godfrey's latest hare-brained scheme: The Boss Godfrey Airborne All-seeing Eye

By: Little Big Brother Is Watching

The Standard-Examiner reports this morning that Boss Godfrey’s latest hare-brained scheme is to fight crime from the air:
He has said in the past that crime does not exist in Ogden because of his efforts to deter improper behavior and now he comes up with this. Should his sheeples approve this, it will be only a matter of time before someone or something takes it down. History does repeat itself and 1937 wasn’t that long ago. You can see Greiner, Patterson and Godfrey bailing out, much like the old photo, when they finally realize that their Hindenburg idea wasn’t divinely inspired. We only need to watch the 9th floor of the Municipal Building to stop the majority of crime happening in Ogden City these days, of course.

"Quiet Earp" - The Boss Godfrey All-seeing Eye

The Hindenberg

Gawd, what a putz!

Update 1/13/10 10:55 a.m.: The Salt Lake Tribune having a little fun with the story too, under this totally boffo headline:
Don't let the cat get your tongues, O Gentle Ones!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Important Council Work Session Set For Tomorrow Evening

A discussion of a proposed "Trojan Horse" widening of Harrison Boulevard is on the agenda

By: Brandon Chase Bell

There is a City Council Work Session set for tomorrow, Thursday, January 13th at 5:30 p.m., the purpose of which is "to discuss Harrison Boulevard and Regional Transportation, and to discuss Council Business."

See the excerpt from the City Meeting Notice below, as well as the below-linked notice and work session packet files. Meeting info:
Ogden City Council Work Session Notice
January 13, 2011 at 5:30 p.m.
City Council Work Room – Third Floor
Municipal Building, 2549 Washington Boulevard

Notice is hereby given that the Ogden City Council will meet in a Work Session on Thursday, January 13, 2011 in the Council Work Room on the third floor of the Municipal Building located at 2549 Washington Boulevard in Ogden City, Weber County, Utah.
The purpose of the work session is to discuss Harrison Boulevard and Regional Transportation, and to discuss Council Business.

Representatives from the Wasatch Front Regional Council will be giving a presentation about the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan.
Click the link below to view the meeting announcement and the information packet the City Council received for the meeting with briefing documents on the WFRC 2040 Regional Transportation Plan:
According to the 2040 Transportation Plan in the packet for the work session there is widening proposed for Harrison north of 20th and south of 40th down to 89. This is almost as bad as widening the whole thing as it creates future pressure to widen Harrison through the heart of Ogden. It could be considered, like a trojan horse to not widen Harrison now, but put the pieces in place to put pressure to widen it in the future. Regional transportation needs are already served by I-15 and Wall Avenue. We do not need a belt route in Ogden, or more auto-oriented regional infrastructure. We need to be asking" "How will this serve Ogden residents? and How will it impact them?" Do people from North Ogden commuting to Hill Air Force Base, really need to drive through the heart of Ogden's neighborhoods to do so? Aren't we encouraging them to do so, by widening the other portions of Harrison.? This is based on an old, outdated, single-focus transportation paradigm, that doesn't work for Ogden and needs to be updated.

I should note it is a work session and that thus the public is not allowed to comment, but it is important that we show up, so our presence is visible, and speak with our City Council members before and after to make our feelings and the sentiments of the community felt and known.

Feel free to chime in with your own comments, before, during or after tomorrow's council work session.

Update 1/14/10 6:00 a.m.: The
Standard-Examiner carries a story this morning reporting on the results of last night's Council work session:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Standard-Examiner: Crackpot Ogden Field House "Feasible" - UPDATED

It looks like Boss Godfrey is preparing to put on the public relations full court press
Update: Check out the entire 245-page study report via the SE Live! site

Original Submission (Edited): Gentle Reader ND

As Gomer Pyle would say...Surprize, Suprize, Suprize... The Standard-Examiner reports this morning that the projected financial numbers are in from Boss Godfrey's rigged Field House feasibilility study and are "far better than [even Boss Godfrey] expected." Get the whole SE rundown here:
Although this matter isn't technically on tonight's council calender, you can bet your boots that Boss Godfrey will be crowing about this during tonight's council meeting.

And it looks like Boss Godfrey is preparing to put on the public relations full court press. "Somebody" has already put up a promotional website, purportedly registered to Ogden City (Andy Lefgren):
How does the Godfrey administration justify expending city funds to publicly lobby for this hare-brained project? Beats us.

This morning's SE story also reveals that the Godfrey administration plans to apply for a RAMP grant prior to Friday's application submission deadline. Keep your eyes on Weber County Forum, folks, where we'll launch our own public relations counter-campaign after that date, in order to avoid the heaping of another crackpot multi-million dollar Boss Godfrey boondoggle upon the beleaguered Emerald City/Weber County taxpayers' backs.

So who will be the first to comment on this morning's SE story? The World Wide Blogosphere eagerly awaits your ever-savvy remarks.

Update 1/12/10 8:00 a.m.: The Standard-Examiner adds more information on purported Field House "feasibility" with this morning's supplementary story:
And Lo and Behold, Ace Reporter Schwebke seems to have succeeded in prying the entire (and heretofore secret) 210-page study report out of Boss Godfrey's grubby little hands, and made a PDF copy available for viewing via the SE Live! site, for the general public's careful examination:
Good goin', Mr. Schwebke! There are advantages, we think, to having Boss Godfrey's name and number placed atop your speed dial list.

Gleanings from Today’s City Council Agenda Packet

Hot Tub Hotel on Hold?

By Dan Schroeder

Once again I’d like to thank the Ogden City Council for its relatively new practice of putting its full agenda packets online for all to see. Here are a couple of items that I found noteworthy in the packet for tonight’s meeting.

1. Contribution Agreement – RDA Tax Increment Bonds. Continuation for consideration of a Contribution Agreement with the Redevelopment Agency for the purpose of issuing Tax Increment Bonds, Series 2010 to facilitate the financing of the acquisition and construction of a hotel at The Junction. (Remove from agenda)

This item, if I’m not mistaken, is the final step in approving the Kevin Garn Hot Tub Hotel. Although it seems clear that a majority of the council supports this project, it hit a snag when the bank refused to accept the financing terms for the proposed parking structure. Now, it would appear, there has been another snag that has forced the council to remove this item from tonight’s agenda. Will this be just a minor delay, or is the whole project in danger of falling through? Perhaps we’ll learn more tonight.

2. RDA Annual Report.

Tonight the council (acting as RDA Board) will formally receive the Redevelopment Agency’s Annual Report for fiscal year 2010. Although the event will be completely routine, this may be the first time that a copy of the Report has been posted on the city’s web site for all to see. For convenience, I’ve extracted the Report from the agenda packet and Rudi has posted it here (pdf, 3.7 MB). The Report is a fascinating document that gives a great overview of what the RDA does. From the map on Page 4 you can see that redevelopment districts cover nearly all of downtown Ogden—and this map doesn’t even show the new district along the east side of Washington Blvd., which was designated after FY 2010 ended last summer. Be sure to bookmark this Report and refer back to it, next time the RDA and tax-increment financing are in the news!

Ed. Note: We'll leave the lower comments section open for anyone who'd like to comment on this topic before, during or after tonight's council meeting.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Jeff Lowe's "Metanoia" - A Documentary Narrated by Jon Krakauer

"Metanoia" film production fund-raiser: We have 52 days to help Jeff share this story with the world

By Amy Wicks

I donated to Jeff Lowe's new project.

I like the project and like the funding mechanism - no money charged until they reach their goal.

Here's a brief introductory video:

And here's a link to their website, where you can pledge your own donation:
It's a far better and more lasting tribute to Ogden's Jeff Lowe than a downtown ice tower could ever be.

Jeff Lowe is part of what makes my Ogden awesome. He's a living legend, an inspiration to me and countless others and an all around nice guy. He's trying to raise funds to help finish an amazing documentary. I've helped, will you? It's super easy and your payment does not go through until the goal is reached by the deadline. We have 52 days to help Jeff share this story with the world. Let's make this happen.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Standard-Examiner: Ogden Gay Rights Ordinance Makes Progress

Has Boss Godfrey turned over a new leaf, and resolved to listen to other people's ideas... or should we chalk just this up as a one-time aberration?
The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

Terry Pratchett
Hot-shot British Writer

In a marvellous display of uncharacteristic open-mindedness, and after dawdling for some eight months, it appears that Boss Godfrey has now been finally persuaded to instruct Ogden City Attorney Gary Williams to draft up that anti discrimination ordinance which has recently been a topic of discussion here on Weber County Forum and at the Standard-Examiner. Ace Reporter Schwebke provides the full lowdown:
Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Although we've learned that Boss Godfrey has been under considerable fire on this issue from all points of the compass, we'd like to believe that Boss Godfrey didn't merely succumb to public pressure, but rather simply decided to Choose the Right.

So what about it, gentle readers? Has Boss Godfrey turned over a new leaf... and resolved to listen to other people's ideas... and to treat folks with differing viewpoints and lifestyles with respect... or should we just chalk this up as a one-time aberration?

We invite our readers to either comment on topic, or consider this an open topic thread.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Salt Lake Tribune: Online Retailer CSN Stores Announces Expansion in Ogden

The company looks forward to being a major player in Ogden’s economic revitalization, particularly in the downtown area

By: ND

Finally a real company with ALOT of real jobs coming to town....interesting though about the secret location....has to be somewhere in BDO...except they say "The company looks forward to being a major player in Ogden’s economic revitalization, particularly in the downtown area"

The Standard-Examiner has the story this morning:
The Salt Lake Tribune is carrying the story too:
I don't see any 75,000 SF buildings popping up anywhere....

How 'bout you?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Breaking News From the Ogden City Council Chambers - Updated

Mr. Schwebke reports that Gochnour and Garner will serve respectively as Council Chair and Vice Chair

Breaking news from the Ogden City Council Chambers, where the selection of our new Ogden City Council leadership is on the agenda. Standard-Examiner reporter Scott Schwebke has been reporting live via Twitter. Check out Mr. Schwebke's tweets here:
TheNinthFloor (Scott Schwebke)
Bottom line: Gochour will repeat as Council Chair; Councilman Garner will serve as the new Vice Chair.

A WCF Tip of the Hat to council members Van Hooser and Wicks, for their highly ethical refusal to participate in the citizen-unfriendly "Straw Poll" process.

As for the other five... looks like the old Gang of Five Council is reborn.

Update 1/5/10 7:18 a.m.: Following up on last evening's Twitter tweets, Scott Schwebke reports in this morning's SE hard-copy edition concerning the "secret, anonymous, written straw poll" election of Gochnour and Garner to their respective 2011 Council leadership posts :
Gochnour, Garner chosen by Ogden council
In a very real sense, Mr. Schwebke seems to have genuinely "scooped" himself.

Update 1/10/10 8:00 a.m.: View the full Council video, via the Ogden City website:

Standard-Examiner: Ogden Should Quit Stalling and Ban Discrimination Against Gays

Eight months is far too long for a no-brainer human rights measure such as this to have languished on the City Council back burner

Yes, small minds will seize on something like this to accuse others of promoting homosexuality, and small minds make noise. It takes courage to stand up to them. That's where leadership comes in.

Charles Trentelman, Standard-Examiner
Ogden should quit stalling and ban discrimination against gays
January 4, 2011

Excellent Wasatch Rambler column in this morning's Standard-Examiner, joining with Weber County Forum in urging the Ogden City Council to do "the right thing -- and the smart thing," and to pass a strong ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation without further delay:
Ogden should quit stalling and ban discrimination against gays
Coincidentally, the council selects new leadership this evening (see agenda item #9), so hopefully we'll have a new council chair with the courage to quickly and decisively ramrod this proposed measure over Boss Godfrey's small minded, patently transparent, passive-aggressive stonewalling. As Trentelman aptly notes, "[t]hat's where leadership comes in."

Eight months is far too long for a no-brainer human rights measure such as this to have languished on the City Council back burner, we believe.

And what say our Weber County Forum readers? Can anyone offer any rational argument supporting the view that the Council should not pass this ordinance?

Monday, January 03, 2011

Dave Barry’s 2010 Year in Review

A month-by-month reminder of just how awful it was

Highly amusing 2010 year-end wrap up this morning, from inimitable Miami Herald humormeister Dave Berry:
Dave Barry’s 2010 Year in Review
Try not to worry about what's coming up in 2011.

Have another margarita.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Salt Lake Tribune: SLC Clicks Its Way to No. 1 in Million-Dollar Contest

For a state that has such a high hunger ratio, there are a lot of people who have the computers to do all the clicking

Good news for Salt Lake and Ogden Cities in re the Walmart Foundation "Fighting Hunger Together" Facebook campaign. Salt Lake finished #1; Ogden came in #4, as the online contest came to a close at 5:00 p.m. yesterday:
SLC clicks its way to No. 1 in million-dollar contest
Assuming that the vote count passes the formal audit, this means that $1.1 million will soon be making its way to hungry mouths in Utah.

As one SLTrib reader wryly observed in the article comments section, "For a state that has such a high hunger ratio, [it seems that] there are a lot of people who have the computers to do all the clicking."

Update 1/6/10 10:00 a.m.: For what it's worth, the Standard finally gets around to reporting the story this morning:
Walmart grant to feed area hungry

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