Friday, September 02, 2011

2011 Ogden City Municipal Primary Voting Guide

Weber County Forum Special Guest Commentary
Giving a voice to Northern Utah’s diverse community

I know all the “Godfrey Voters” are out there waiting for our mayor to write in and tell them who to vote for. Well, since Godfrey dropped out this year, our ruling elite decided to get somebody a little smarter to do the job, namely me.

Let me introduce myself: My name is Chester Hop-a-long, and I have only recently assumed the stool of leadership of Ogden’s oligarch elite, known as the Government Business Partnership, or GBP.

For 12 years, we, your leaders, have suckled at the taxpayer teat provided so willingly and energetically by our beloved benefactor, the otherwise incompetent Matthew Godfrey. But with the coming election, this teat could be yanked away, just like my mother’s was all those years ago. So yes, if I look serious and sound crabby, it’s because I am. Yet, we must find a way to survive this brush fire. This election is for all the coconuts, so let’s all grab a vine, and swing right into the candidates. There are a lot of them, so we’ll have to pick through a lot of fur to find the best nits this year.

Jonny “The Bureaucrat” Ballard

If you don’t understand what “tax increment” is, let me explain it to you. Let’s say you fix up a property. After that, you pay more property tax on it, right? Now let’s say, I fix up a property. What the city does in MY case, is they add up how much my extra property tax will be for the next 20 years. Then they borrow the full amount from a bank, and GIVE the money to ME! Instead of going to the city, county, and schools, all that tax money for 20 years goes straight into MY pocket UP FRONT! Sweet! Even better, these insider deals generate money for city bureaucrats who grease the whole thing up so the public will swallow it! Now guess who one of those bureaucrats is! That’s right, Jonny “The Bureaucrat” Ballard. Hey, listen to this guy describe tax increment sometime, and he’ll make you think it’s as wholesome as HE LOOKS! This guy is smooth, and slicker than 10 miles of black ice! You want to make me happy? Vote for this guy! Make my day! Then check out his website. If you can decipher what this guy stands for, give my tail a little yank and let me know. He’s a platitude machine. And check out the Burt Reynolds impersonation he does all the time. It’s awesome!

Mike “Committee” Caldwell

Mike looks like the “chairman of the board”, doesn’t he? And he’s a dead ringer for this drill sergeant, huh? “Committee Caldwell” is very smooth, except when somebody tries to pin him down on issues, which makes him uncomfortable. But the naysayers did just that at a recent debate, making him answer yes/no questions. A lot of them didn’t like his answers too much. But since nobody on this blog will vote for him anyway, I might as well let the cat out of the bag. “Committee Caldwell” is our stealth candidate this year. Check it out. He’s on practically every crony committee in the city (thus his nickname) and he likes tax increment financing. And he works for the county. Go to his website and you’ll see another list of non-specific feel good platitudes written by our cronies. Then ask yourself whether he’ll be listening to YOUR input, or whether being on all those committees with my cronies, he’ll be listening to OURS. You want input? I don’t NEED no stinking input!

Jason “Elmer” Goddard

Let’s be honest. Is this guy a “Jason”, or is he an “Elmer”? Am I right? Next time you see him, call him “Elmer” and see what he does.
And remember what I said about platitudes? Check out this guy’s website. His website is pure, distilled boredom, and long winded to boot. And check out how many of these geniuses want to fix “education” even thought the mayor has NOTHING TO DO with education. For instance, read this, from Elmer’s campaign page: “What about our schools? Isn’t that outside the realm of a mayor? Shouldn’t that be the responsibility of the School Board? Does not an educated workforce positively correlate with economic development? All three answers are ‘yes.’”

So far so good, right? Then Elmer says this, “The time has come to sit down with our educators to create a plan to elevate our schools.” There you have it. Elmer sounded clued in, then clued out, right in the same paragraph. This guy should debate HIMSELF more often! On the other hand, he’s also for tax increment. Hey, dummies! It looks like we got this race covered!

Neil “Jake” Hansen

Moviegoers will remember when Neil played Jake Blues, in the 70’s movie The Blues Brothers, under his stage name “John Belushi”. (Just kidding.) Seriously though, Neil was a state representative who introduced some popular, public-minded legislation before his constituents voted him out. And Neil has run for Ogden mayor more times than Oprah has gone on a new diet. And just like Oprah, it never works. Here’s to you, Neil. Good luck next time, and next, and next…..

Brandon “Mini Matt” Stephenson

Anybody else thinks Brandon looks like “George”, the neurotic loser from television’s Seinfeld? People say that to me about Brandon all the time. But that’s not important. What is important is that YOU MUST VOTE FOR BRANDON!

We call him “Mini Matt”, because in 12 years of Godfrey, Brandon has voted with him something like 99.9999% of the time. This guy is closer to Godfrey than Godfrey’s underwear. He’s like a balder, taller, dumber, less energetic version of our beloved mayor. And do stop by his website. The only thing he does to let on that he’s our guy, is to say he wants “partnering with business” – sweet, sweet words to my furry ears. It means taxpayers provide cash and take risk, while cronies lap up any profits. I love Mini Matt. I would personally get down and beg you to vote for this man if I was in front of you, which of course, I’m not.

John “CC” Thompson

You’ve theorized. You’ve wondered. And you’ve asked. Now you KNOW. Yes! Ogden is where Santa Claus lives in the off season! His friends call him Chris, as in Cringle, or just “CC” for short. But seriously, if you want to run for mayor, maybe look the part, maybe, I don’t know, cut off the 30 years of hair growth from when you first went into the cave? I’m sure he’s a great guy. Who needs to look like you’re running for mayor? Just pay the 25 bucks and put your name in, right? But do talk to him sometime. He wants to leave all decision making up to the city council. Here’s an idea “CC” – how about if we leave the decision making up to somebody else, by just electing somebody else?

Susie “Sunburn” VanHooser

And now, without further ado, we get to the first of the “Vans”, with Susan VanHooser. I will make very little commentary on this appalling woman. I merely quote, verbatim, from her website. “We must protect our open space and I will not encourage additional housing projects in our foothills. In fact I will oppose any. This open space has been a major reason we are the gateway to Wasatch Front. It is a major economic draw and I think working with foundations and others, it is in the best interest of the city to ensure this area is purchased from private landowners and preserved through some trust or foundation.” And then this, “Our most successful downtown business core however, is built around 25th and Union Station! We didn’t need a lot of tax dollars to make this area work and local business paid for most of it. The rest came from a special improvement district.”

Let me ask a question: So then how can we develop our economy if she won’t let us rape the mountains, or the taxpayers??? So then who, exactly, CAN we rape? Hmmmm? No answer? Is that crickets I hear chirping? If this woman won’t rape the land or the taxpayers, it’s “game over” for us cronies. She talks about “foundations”. Who does she think is the “foundation” of our economy? Godfrey knew. Everyone knows. The crony network is the foundation!! WE ARE the foundation! If this woman will stop us from raping, then SHE must be stopped! And one more vital point: The woman clearly has a sunburn in this picture. Do you really want someone with a sunburn as mayor? I didn’t think so.

Steven “Stevie V” Van Wagoner

What need I say about this guy? Go to his campaign site and read some of it. He hangs himself. Again, I need only quote, “It is time to stop government competition with locally owned businesses. Our city must end participation in countless projects where we have no business spending tax dollars or focusing government efforts. Our city must stop the practices adopted as of recent of being the Real Estate Agent, Land Developer, and guarantor of leases and loans for private businesses to take risk at the expense of the community. No government at any level has ever been successful at picking winners and losers in a free market system. Artificial economic growth is neither smart nor sustainable. We need to let our free market take the natural course where the winners will be rewarded based on good old fashioned hard work and not an association to certain clicks (sic).”

I was flinging my own feces around in my cage for a full 15 minutes when I read that paragraph. How do you expect me, and my cronies on the GBP, to thrive if we have to compete in a free market? And if we don’t survive, where will you find your natural born leaders? On the other hand, if you ask Stevie V in person, it turns out he’s actually FOR a lot of government projects. In fact, most of his positions, if you ask him, involve the government spending more and doing more. We are confident this wet-behind-the-ears mayoral wannabe – Stevie V – will do what he’s told, if the time comes. Hey that’s catchy: “Stevie V – mayor wannabe.” I’m a genius.

In Summary

Just remember one thing: I’m telling you to vote for Brandon Stephenson! If not him, then go with Jonny Ballard. Hey, I may be rich, but I gotta keep my gravy train running, you know? Either of these guys will take your open space and your tax dollars, funnel both to me and my cronies, and make me feel as good as I do after a Sunday afternoon tick shampoo and blow dry. Ahhhh …. so gooood.

And now I see one of my girls is coming in to comb me, so I don’t have time to talk about the city council candidates except to say this: whatever you do, don’t vote for Jennifer Neil or Amy Wicks. These are independent minded people, just what I don’t need. And now, dear friends, they’ve changed the paper in my cage and so I think I’ll take a little nap. The primary is September 13, 2011. Get out and vote, you naysayers. And do as you’re told for once, okay?


OgdenInformedVoter said...

Thanks, Chester! Now I'm truly informed. But when has Suzie Sunburn ever voted against tax increment?

rudizink said...

So who do YOU like for Ogden City Mayor, OgdenInformedVoter???Please step up and state your case. whatever it is.

OgdenInformedVoter said...

I kinda like 'em all personally, due to the many endearments that Chester articulates. As for mayor, I don't trust any of 'em. Mostly I just wanted to reassure poor Chester that his life'll still be nice and comfy no matter which of 'em gets elected.

rudizink said...

Good answer, OIV.  In spite of the spate of Mayoral Candidate Forums, the choice of who might be the best new mayor isn't getting much easier, is it?

Dwayne said...


Thanx for the reminder, Rudi!  I've written this down so I won't forget it.

OneWhoKnows2 said...

Jake Blues is honest, on a mission from God and one hellva musician.  If I might say, I believe Rudi has outdone himself on this one with both entertainment and information at the same time.  I knew I liked the guy so many years ago.  Well done dude!

BlameJohnsonNotMe said...

Rudi, You can't handle the truth! We live in a city with mountains and trails and those have to be guarded by city employees. Who's gonna do it? You, Mike Caldwell, mountain biker with a wet dream? We have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Brandon Stephenson and you curse the city. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want Johnny Ballard on that wall, you need Jason Goddard on that wall. We use words like higher taxes, wasted investments, good ole boys network, open space and even higher taxes....we use these words as the backbone to a life spent wasting tax dollars. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a bunch of politicians who rise and sleep under the blanket of tax dollars that the taxpayers provide, then does not question the thousands if not millions that is wasted on allegedly illegal or unethical "pet projects". I'd rather you just said you were voting for Susan VanHooser and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a Lamberton Rake and get to work! Either way, I don't give a hoot what taxes you think you are entitled to!

Patn4cats said...

Dwayne, so you haven't had enough wasted tax dollars spent on foolish studies like the gondola, the fieldhouse/veladrome, the ice tower, and subsidizing the Soloman Center a million dollars a year?  You haven't had enough of sleazy deals made behind closed doors?  You want Ogden to go into more debt because that is what Godfrey and Brandon think you need to do to encourage economic development.  If you vote for Brandon you will get more of the Godfrey administration only it will be called the Stephenson administration.  Godfrey has mentored and trained Brandon for more than eight years, and it won't stop if Brandon is elected.  He'll have to check in with Godfrey daily as he has done on the council to know what he should do.  They don't call Brandon a God clone for no reason.

googlegirl said...

The Lamberton Rake (?)

Danny said...

Note that BlameJohnsonNotMe is doing a play on the classic role played by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, where Nicholson's character, on the witness stand, goes off on a tirade.  Bravo!  Well done.

Danny said...

Here is the link.

Link Here

Photofoxe said...

Bravo Chester!

A P said...

Greetings Rudi.  I'm new to the area and stumbled upon your site while looking up election coverage.  Is your general beef with the way the current administration uses TIF, or the concept of front-loaded tax incentives in general?  

Danny said...

In reply to AP, below:

First, I'm betting AP is Mike Caldwell.  Anyway "AP" says,

"Is your general beef with the way the current administration uses TIF or the concept of front-loaded tax incentives in general?"

The beef is they are a ripoff of the taxpayer, as you well know, AP.

It's kinda like after being raped in a prison shower, being asked,

"Was your main beef with the way you were raped, or with the idea of that type of thing going on in the shower, in general?  Is there something we could do to make the experience less adverse for you?"

Yeah, there's a way you could make the experience of a taxpayer ripoff less adverse.  Stop doing it.

A P said...

So, a relatively routine question to the forum moderator, comes back with three assertions...

1) any type of tax financing amounts to cellmate sodomy.
2) I "well know" (1)
3) Anyone who would ask such a question must, in fact, be Mike Caldwell.

If your aim is to persuade someone against city use of tax incentives, you may want get at least one of your opening assertions right.  

"AP" is simply what google spat out as my name when posting on here.  The A stands for Alden if you'd like to make future ad hominems more direct.  

In truth, I simply heard about this site and how its perceived biases made the current mayor unwilling to air a recent debate (one I thought was well executed and efficient btw).  That sort of outright veto seemed odd, so I thought to bop over here and have a gander.  

The first read was Dan giving an accurate and fairly unbiased liveblog of this past debate.  No blood no foul.  Then I come across gems like this and start to see his point...

In any case, I'm still curious to know whether the moderator is against Godfrey, or developer incentives in general?

Ogden Resident said...

I have a question for AP

How do you perceive TIF finance deal works?

A P said...

In theory or practice?  The basic mechanics are benign enough: coax development into an area that otherwise couldn't support it by sharing the city's resultant tax increases with the developer.  The developer has a project that makes sense; the city has an expanded tax base and rids itself of some blighted (and often crime ridden) acreage.  

I think the rub comes in when tif, as Rudi mentioned above, sticks around past when it is economically needed in an area and subsidizes projects that would have been viable anyway.  

Some municipalities, and it seems Ogden is a good example, also make the mistake of feeding  100% of the the tax increase a project brings to the developer.  Many cities and MSA's cap that subsidy at 50 or 75% and thereby avoid most of the critiques usually levied against tif (schools, public works, etc. have an increased burden without increased resources to support it).  

Apart from those concerns of implementation, I find myself generally supportive of the judicious use of tif.  You just have to find a governing entity that's responsible enough not to throw money at projects that would get developed anyway, or projects that are nice to have, but unviable even after the increment subsidy.  I'll grant such governments are not easy to come by, but that's a critique of the voters more than the tool.  

In all, Ogden seems to have areas that the invisible hand just cant seem to pick up by itself.  By example, I've yet to find any unsubsidized housing starts in East Central over the past two decades.  It's just impossible to develop something there that doesn't lose money.  So what is a city to do?  Wait and hope?  

Disgusted said...

AP, so how do you think Ogden City has done with their use of TIF over the last 5 years?

Danny said...

AP, I still believe you are a shill, and liar when you represent yourself has having just stopped by.

Having said that, Ogden has the highest taxes and regulation in the state.  The invisible hand has been wounded by the government to the point that the government must step in and save it, so people like you always claim.

Tax increment involves subsidizing a tiny fraction of businessmen when the rest take no subsidy.  The subsidy is granted based on cronyism and connections, nothing more.

You say,

"You just have to find a governing entity that's responsible enough not
to throw money at projects that would get developed anyway, or projects
that are nice to have, but unviable even after the increment subsidy.
 I'll grant such governments are not easy to come by, but that's a
critique of the voters more than the tool."

Uh huh.  Nice words masking baloney.  So how exactly, do government bureaucrats determine which projects "would get developed anyway" and which would be "unviable" as you say?

What nonsense.  You are one of these people who feel the government just need to be managed better.  Yes, let's have you manage it better, right?

No, the government should not be in the business of business at all.  We are far apart.  And starting off, misrepresenting yourself, tells all that needs to be told.  You should think about that yourself too. 

Danny said...

Having said that, AP, realize that a few  years back, we had a candidate named Blaine Johnson, who represented himself stridently as "independent", even though it was clear to a very few of us that he was a Godfrey plant.  He was elected, and is record voting with Godfrey was platinum: 100%.

And we have trolls dropping by here all the time, claiming they are "new" as you did, and they end up being outed as establishment shills.  I myself have outed a few, who end up admitting who they are. 

So yes, my money says you are Mike Caldwell.  If not, I do apologize and ask that you stick around.  Realize the corruption and dishonesty we have dealt with in Ogden and you will understand the cynicism.

Bob Becker said...

I agree there are a limited number of circumstances where RDA projects can be justified and serve the public good.  The problem though, or one of them [and not an insignificant one] is that the major justification for RDA projects originally... bringing economic development to blighted areas in cities... has been, by judicial decisions, taken to ridiculous lengths. Neatly kept private homes in a blue collar area of a city [by no means "blighted" in any reasonable sense of that word], have been declared "blighted" and subject to eminent domain proceedings in order to clear the land for major privavte investor developments.  [See Kelo decision for part of the problem illustrated.]  In one city, a tract of wild land [not abandoned lots, but never developed wild land] was declared "blighted" to make it eligible for RDA funded development.  In Ogden, recently, an area along Washington Blvd that was in no reasonable sense of the term "blighted" was declared to be so to justify another RDA project mostly involving building parking as I recall.

The original intent was good, and had RDA projects stayed close to the original intent -- rehabbing truly blighted areas that private investment shunned and that operated as a drag on surrounding neighborhoods and business streets --- it might have served the city well. But it's become in Ogden simply a means for the City [with Mayor and Council approval] to become involved --- expensively involved ---- in highly speculative real estate development projects, and in an apparently unending string of them.

Dan S. said...

I see that this humorous article has given rise to a serious discussion of tax increment financing. Having very little sense of humor myself, I'll offer some serious comments.

At the local level, there's another argument for using TIF: Everyone else is doing it. If I were a local elected official (highly unlikely to ever happen!), I'd consider using TIF just for this reason. Ogden can't compete with Riverdale if Riverdale offers TIF and Ogden doesn't. On the other hand, if I were a state legislator (even more unlikely!), I'd try to make it illegal for places like Riverdale to use TIF--and put plenty of restrictions on places like Ogden as well.

I'd also like to highlight some of the specific ways Ogden under Godfrey has abused TIF. One is the recurring extensions of tax increment collection far beyond the original expiration date. The worst example of this is the "CBD mall" redevelopment area, created in 1977 and now set to continue through 2026: a full 50 years (and counting). Another is the diversion of tax increment funds out of the district where they're collected and into unrelated projects. The city funded the Salomon Center in part by diverting tax increment from 10 other redevelopment areas that otherwise would have expired by now, and Godfrey recently floated the idea of extending tax increment collection on BDO to fund the field house.

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