Tuesday, August 02, 2011

City Council/RDA Meeting Heads-up: The Council Appears Poised to Tie Together Numerous Administration Loose Ends - Multiple Updates

In the waning days of the Godfrey Administration, it seems that city funds and property are flying out the door to Administration cronies at astonishing bargain basement prices

As a followup to Friday's City Council meeting heads-up, we'll post another reminder of tonight's City Council/RDA sessions, wherein our city legislative body appears poised to consider and/or approve the following actions, among other things:
  • Sell developer Kevin Garn 1.75 acres of prime downtown property for $750,000, a significant discount to its actual value.
  • Give him $550,000 (in the form of a grant), thereby reducing the developer's cost to only $200,000.
  • Finance both his purchase price on the property and provide him with some $350,000 of start-up capital, by lending him $550,000 at a low 4% interest.
  • Help him secure federal loans to develop the hotel, all at low interest rates and possibly with on-recourse to developer.
  • Appoint a new Chief Administrative Officer to replace John Patterson, under circumstances which would entitle the appointee to six months severance pay if the future mayor wants to hire someone else instead.
  • Formalize the "sweetheart deal" turnover of the 21st Street pond, under circumstances that reek of cronyism.
Here are the applicable council packets:
As Gentle Reader Disgusted opined in an earlier comment, these transactions arguably "represent a wanton disregard for the responsibilities of office to protection of the assets of the city and act in the best interests of the residents."

"Anyone on the City Council that goes along with this deal deserves to be removed from office at the next election and certainly should not be considered for the office of mayor,"
Gentle Reader Disgusted aptly suggests.

We'll have to concede that regular contributor Disgusted makes a very good point. It seems to us too, that in the waning days of the Godfrey Administration, city funds and property are flying out the door to administration cronies at astonishing bargain basement rates and prices. At the very least, it seems to us, we would hope that all council members will give each of these proposals serious deliberation, in the context of determining whether these proposals are in the best interests of Ogden City.

We'll leave the lights on for any WCF readers who might plan to attend tonight's meetings, of course, to provide our readers a narrative of tonight's Council/RDA antics.

Update 8/3/11 7:40 a.m.: The Standard carries a post-meeting story this morning, focusing upon Goode Ski Company's so-called "stewardship" of the 21st Street Pond:
No word yet on the Kevin Garn "Hot Tub Hotel" development agreement/financing outcome. Perhaps one of our readers can soon provide the low-down on that.

Update 8/3/11 2:00 p.m.: Lo and behold, and in answer to our above question... we just talked with one trusted Emerald City City Hall insider; and we are now informed that the fiscally-conservative Amy Wicks was the only City Council member who drew a line in the sand, and voted against the ridiculous Kevin Garn Hot Tub Hotel "giveaway," which was otherwise approved by the Godfrey-compliant council with an exceedingly disappointing 6-1 vote.

Update 8/4/11 9:18 a.m. (per Dan S.): Here's the S-E's article on the Johnson confirmation:
Of course, the paper made no attempt to determine how much latitude the council had in this decision, e.g., whether an interim appointment would have been possible.

The council vote was unanimous, by the way.

Update 8/4/11 3:25 p.m. (per Bob Becker): "There is an interesting discussion of the CAO appointment going on over on the SE site, with Councilwoman Wicks participating":


Dan S. said...

Rudi, I didn't see anything about the 21st Street Pond in the agendas. Where is it and what exactly does it say?

Curmudgeon said...

In re: this --- Finance both his purchase price on the property and provide him with some $350,000 of start-up capital, by lending him $550,000 at a low 4% interest.

I presume the reason the city is going to act as the lender of first [or maybe last] resort in this instance is that the banks won't lend him the money for the project.   Right?

rudizink said...

It's in the Work Session Packet, which I just put up.  I'm a little bit pressed for time this morning, but I think its self-explanatory.

rudizink said...

Exactly right.  When cities like Ogden resort to the worst aspects of "creative financing,"as in the present case,  it's pretty clear that banks won't lend.

Ozboy said...

I am not sure what the total numbers for this hotel project are, but Garn will be bringing a lot more financing to the table to build the whole thing out.  He most likely will be borrowing from banks using the land and finished buildings as collateral. 

I think what this initial city gifting to Garn does is take most of the real down side for him away.  In other words, this initial money replaces that which would normally come from his own pocket.  The city tax payers are once again taking the heavy financial risk out of these public/private deals that Godfrey's cronies seem to enjoy in abundance.  The cronies stand to make all the profit and take no risk, and the tax payers stand to take all the risk and have no chance at any of the profit.   Sweet deal if your a FOM...

rudizink said...

Yesiree, Ozboy; it's the usual story from this band of Godfrey/Stephenson corporo-fascists:

Privatize the profits; socialize the risks.

Dorrene Jeske said...

I just returned home from the Council meeting.  I spoke there about the appointment of a new CAO.  I told the Council, “Members of the Council, I emailed you earlier today with my concerns, but in case you didn’t have time to read it, I will read it now.
I am concerned that Mayor Godfrey is attempting to continue his domination of city government beyond his elected time frame. It is despicable that he would attempt to tie the hands of the new mayor by making the appointment of the CAO a permanent one instead of an interim appointment.
I know that the appointment of a CAO is required by law, but it doesn't have to be filled beyond the current mayor's term. You have the power in your hands to change the tenure of that appointment. You can fulfill your responsibility to the residents, whom you represent, and amend the appointment of a CAO to an interim one.
I hope that you have the courage to vote your conscience and take the right action for Ogden. A lot of people are watching how you handle this situation as to whether you are a rubber stamp for Mayor Godfrey or are able to act as an independent arm of Ogden's form of government, and be a check and balance to Mayor Godfrey's inappropriate proposal.
Thank you for your consideration of my comments.”
The Mayor said, “Wow!  I don’t know why what we did is despicable or inappropriate when other cities have done the same thing.  We are required by law and State statute to fill the position within 90 days.”
They had a closed session that lasted about a half hour.  Chair Gochnour asked who was going to address the “New Business” item.  Bill Cook said that appointments were done with a consensus of the council.  (I remember when Jesse, Amy and I held up the appointment of someone to the Planning Commission, but I think the Council was told that the position had to be filled according to law because Susie told me after the meeting they had no choice.)  It was Gary Williams, the City’s attorney, who went to the podium and explained that we have the form of government that has two independent bodies – the mayor administers the city and the council makes policy.  Questions about separation of power are always coming up.  The council does not have the power to amend an appointment because the type of appointment is an administrative one.  The council can only vote yes or no.  He said about ten years ago the Council changed the policy on severance packages and made it so the employee before receiving severance pay must be employed 6 consecutive years by the City.  He said that issue was insignificant because Mark has worked for the City longer than 6 years.  Caitlin pushed him about which job Mark would receive the severance pay as there was a concern in the community about it.  If the new Mayor wants a new CAO, then Mark will leave City employment at his manager pay, not as CAO.
Of course the Mayor made the comment that he couldn’t imagine that anyone wouldn’t want Mark in that position because he has a wealth of knowledge needed for that position.
They went into their work meeting and the Mayor walked past me and Mark Johnson’s wife as we walked to our cars.
So Mark Johnson is the new CAO.

Dorrene Jeske said...

I forgot to mention that Brandon Stephenson said that he could not think of a better person for to be the CAO and then made the motion that the Council approve the appointment of Mark Johnson as CAO.

Any doubts about how his administration would go if he were elected mayor?

Dan S. said...

Dorrene, thank you for this report. It sounds like this is a great example of how the administration bullies the council into ratifying its proposals, with the aid of the city attorney. I'd like to know where in state statutes it says anything about a 90-day limit. City ordinance says the mayor can make an interim appointment for 90 days and for an additional 90 days with council approval. So unless I'm missing something, the council could have simply voted no, explaining that it would gladly approve a 90-day extension of an interim appointment. Then the mayor could make the interim appointment and everyone's happy until the next mayor takes office.

I'm also confused about the explanation of severance pay. I looked that up and it basically says that if the new mayor wants to demote Johnson back to his previous position, and Johnson refuses the demotion and leaves instead, he gets six months severance pay at his then-current salary, i.e., at the CAO salary.

So either I'm misinterpreting your report of the meeting, or there are other laws that override the city ordinances, or the city attorney misled the council about what the law says.  Where was the council's own attorney?

Dorrene Jeske said...

Dan,  the option for Mark to return to his manager position was never mentioned, but then this isn't the first time the Mayor has told his flunkies to withhold info from the Council.  It could be that or Godfrey has already filled Mark's position.  Godfrey may well have given Mark his walking papers when he made him the CAO under the new mayor because he cannot make the new mayor keep Mark as his CAO.  No matter how much Mark knows I would not retain him because he was so loyal to Godfrey and sold his soul to the devil doing Godfrey's dirty deals.  Mark is too big of a risk.  But I'm sure Godfrey and Mark are counting on Mark being able to sweet talk himself into the next administration along with his little-boy innocent look. 

The Council's attorney is only part-time, and I don't think anyone knew that it would be William's interpretation of the separation of powers that decided what they could do. 
All I can say is Godfrey is still playing dirty and will right up to his last day in office.

Curmudgeon said...

It's tempting, I know, to sneer at Mr. Stephenson's apparent decision to run on a platform of "I'm Warmed-Over Godrey!  Elect me!"   But we'd do well, whoever we may be supporting in the seven-candidate donnybrook now under way,  to recall that Hizzonah was a three-time winner.   

Keeping that in mind, Mr. Stephenson's decision to run as Godfrey-Lite seems neither strange, nor necessarily a poor one.  It provides voters who generally liked the Godfrey Administration [a majority three elections in a row remember] a candidate to rally round since Stephenson is appealing directly to them, while advocates of substantial change on the 9th Floor of City Hall scatter their efforts across the campaigns of several candidates.   

blackrulon said...

After reading Schwebkes sweetheart story about the 21st pond I am curious. How many, if any, of the promises and assurances given by Godfrey when he gave away the 21st pond have been fulfilled? I recall talk about an economic boost, job growth and property tax money to the city?

OneWhoKnows2 said...

How can Godfrey give away something the City doesn't own yet with UDOT still holding the deed to their old gravel pit?  Something wrong again in River City ???

Monotreme said...

Brandon Stephenson signs are now up, all over this fair city of ours. I saw a couple being erected while I was out and about today running errands and stimulating the local economy.

OneWhoKnows2 said...

Does Geiger know?

Dorrene Jeske said...

Yes, I remember that you're the cautious one when it comes to change when I ran for the Council and my slogan was "Jeske 4 Change."  I'm glad that there were more who wanted change and willing to take action, than those who thought it was better to go with someone they knew even though they didn't like the way they voted.   Doesn't make sense to me.  I ran with about the same slogan and won when I ran against a prominent businessman for the school board in 1978.   I wouldn't knock it, Curm.

blackrulon said...

Isn't this the sort of financial hocus- pocus that helped land Val Southwick in prision?

BikerBabe said...

Some of Mr. Hansen's signs have disappeared ...



David S. said...

I appreciate Rudi making me aware that the council is taking up the issue of the 21st Street Pond.  This deal - essentially giving the pond to Goode for 50 years is either,

1. A classic example of local government corruption, or

2. A classic example of local government stupidity and incompetence.

But it is also an example of

1. The local paper providing an invaluable service in giving community members a voice, and

2. After finding out about an issue, the city council looking into it.

And I'm glad they are looking into it.  When I can join my friends in putting canoes on the surface of 21st Street Pond anytime we want, the issue will be closed.

Until then, Goode has robbed us and has walked off with millions of dollars in public assets for which he provided the city next to nothing, at best.  I hope the council will see the value of this public asset, and put the fire to Goode until he gives it back.

In the meantime, I hope the IRS makes a reasonable tax assessment against him for this multimillion dollar windfall.  Any IRS agents reading this?

althepal said...

"[T]he fiscally-conservative Amy Wicks was the only City Council member who drew a line in the sand, and voted against the ridiculous Kevin Garn Hot Tub Hotel "giveaway..."

Who on the council is the only one diligently "watching the store," and looking out for the taxpayers only?

Amy Wicks, that's who.

Dorrene Jeske said...

Rudi I don't think it's only Bobby.  When Amy was running for commissioner, I put one of her signs up with permission at KarMart on 2nd St. and Harrison (Brandon lives  about 3 or 4 blocks from there).  The next day when I drove past her sign was gone.   I had about 100 signs disappear when I ran for council.  The funny thing is when the election was over, my signs started reappearing to make it look like I didn't care about obeying that city ordinance that says they are to be removed by a certain time after the election.   I wonder if some of the jokers will rest after the first of the year?

Curmudgeon said...

You wrote: "Yes, I remember that you're the cautious one when it comes to change."

   Your memory is faulty.  I campaigned for Council members who ran as independents opposed to Hizzonah's plans and actions, and for mayoral candidates not named Godfrey every election for the last eight years.  And my comment to which you replied did not in any way endorse Mr. Stephenson's candidacy or suggest that change from Godfrey's management was not necessary.  
  I was commenting on his tactical decision to run as Godfrey Lite,  which I think may have been a wise one for him.  I don't want  people taking him and his appeal  lightly.  We need  to remember that the Godfrey appeal, which Stephenson is campaigning on,  worked in Mayoral elections three times running. What I remember is, last time Hizzonah ran, a lot of bravura predictions right here on WCF that "he's going down, "  "he's finished," "his days in office are numbered"  etc. etc. etc. And yet he won.   It would be wrong then, I thought and think, to dismiss Mr. Stepehenson's "I'm Godfrey Lite! Vote for Me!" campaign out of hand, to not to take it seriously.  And that's what I said.And having just reread my earlier  post , I'm puzzled how you found anything in it that even remotely suggested I was opposed to change on the 9th Floor or that I thought Mr. Stephenson's candidacy was in any way attractive.

Curmudgeon said...

Ah... Rudi... WCF readers hardly represent a random selection of voters.   Most of your posters, and I suspect readers,  myself included, have long thought of Councilman Stephenson as the Mayor's most reliable sock-puppet on the Council.  The odds of his doing well in a WCF-hosted poll are about the odds of Nancy Pelosi receiving a standing ovation from the Utah House of Representatives.  [But then, maybe that's not a fair analogy, since she wasn't caught hot tubbing nekkid with an underaged employee, so does not fit into the group the boys in Salt Lake like to give standing ovations to.]

Don't underestimate Stephenson, or the campaign ooomph of the Godfreyistas if he can establish himself as the "no change Godfreyista" candidate. .  

rudizink said...

Au Contraire Curmudgeon.  I promoted the poll with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media as well, and therefor believe that the results are probably far less skewd than you imagine.

I won't underestimate Brandon, but I do believe the poll results were quite surprising, given the fact that many of my social media friends fall politically somewhere within the realm of Attilla the Hun.


BlameJohnsonNotMe said...

I have this short editorial for all readers:  VanHooser for Mayor! 
Lets get all of the rats out of office, out of influential positions and all who have accumulated their power with this administration to hit the road and allow Ogden to heal from this absolute "financially suicidal" model of supposed success.  Blain Johnson would be proud to say he is part of this pathetic boondoggle.  Actually, he helped pave the way with these ehtics.  It's time for a change!!!

Dan S. said...

Here's the S-E's article on the Johnson confirmation:

Of course, the paper made no attempt to determine how much latitude the council had in this decision, e.g., whether an interim appointment would have been possible.

The council vote was unanimous, by the way.

Curmudgeon said...

I am truly sad to have to say this, but things have come to such a pass with the Godfrey Administration, that I think if I were on the Council, I'd automatically move to table any matter for one week on which the City Attorney presumed to explain what the law requires to permit the Council members to obtain legal advice from the Council's attorney.  If  he or she concurs with the City Attorney, the Council could act at the next meeting. If not,  the Council could then consider what it wished to do in light of the conflicting advice about what the law requires... or permits.   [Remember, this is the Mayor who insisted, when the Council over-rode his veto of funding for the Marshall White Center that he had the legal authority to simply ignore the Council's action.] 


rudizink said...

Exactly right, Curm; and I'll kick you analysis up another notch:

I believe that the administration's lawyer, Gary Williams, as an active member of the Utah Bar, has an affirmative professional ethical obligation to inform the council of its right to consult with its own attorney for a second opinion, any time Mr. Williams offers his legal advice.

Dorrene Jeske said...

The reason the vote was unanimous is because the powers that be tell the council that appointments have to be a consensus, thus a unanimous vote.  I thought Bill Cook was going to croak when I voted "No" on the appointment of a planning commission appointment when all the other council members voted "Yes."  That was one of those lessons you learn the hard way. 

rudizink said...

What rubbish!  Bill Cook ought to go soak his head.

Bob Becker said...

There is an interesting  discussion of the CAO appointment going on over on the SE site, with Councilwoman Wicks participating.  Link here:


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