Thursday, June 30, 2011

Salt Lake Tribune: Municipal Election Candidate Filings Start Tomorrow

We invite you to keep your eyes on WCF over the next four months, where you'll find the most complete online local election coverage in the whole danged state

It's the end of the month and the Salt Lake Tribune carries a story this morning announcing the beginning of the event we've all been eagerly awaiting here at Weber County Forum, the 2011 Municipal Election Season. The two week candidate filing period starts tomorrow, according to the Trib:
We accordingly invite you to keep your eyes on WCF over the next four months, where you'll find the most complete and robust online election coverage in the whole danged state (just as we've provided in the past.) Sharp eyed readers have already been prowling around our "under construction" election module in the right sidebar; and we're looking forward to substantially "fleshing it out" over the coming months, as candidate filings and election stories roll in.

With the little Lord Mayor's announced retirement, we expect a wide open election. And if the last three Municipal Election campaigns (2005, 2007 & 2009) provide any historical guidance, you can expect we'll be in the thick of the action, keeping everybody on their toes... and having some rollicking good fun in the process, que no?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday Morning Back-burner News Cleanup

A couple of items from the WCF back burner, just to give our readers a little something to chew on...

In the midst of the continuing Emerald City Lame Duck Mayor News Drought, we'll spring a couple of items from the WCF back burner, just to give our readers a little something to chew on, (and to let you all know we're still alive):

As a followup to these fantastic 3/25/11 and 5/20/11 Salt Lake Tribune Op-ed pieces, here's the latest GRAMA-topical writeup from former reporter and current associate BYU professor of communications, the inimitable Man of the People, Joel Campbell. Despite months of weekly GRAMA Task Force meetings, wherein the sheer elegance of Utah's existing GRAMA law has been painstakingly revealed, it seems that some Utah legislators still cling to the notion that their legislative business ought to be conducted in secret, and that communications with "constituents" who seek favors and handouts should not be publicly revealed:
And here, from the pages of the Deseret News, is the latest corporatist "Republic v. Democracy" rant, courtesy of recently-ousted corporatist whore, U.S. Senator Bob Bennett:
In the interest of keeping the topic in context (and perhaps to puncture some of the mind-numbing ideological silliness), we've rounded up a couple of counter-points.

First, here's a little something from somebody named William P. Meyers, who properly points out that the terms "constitutional republic" and "representative democracy" (our preferred terminology to describe our American (Utah) polital systems) are not mutually exclusive, and that these definitions actually have substantial definitional "overlap":
And next, here's a great counter-rant from Trib contributor Bangs Tapscott, who argues that this whole "America (Utah) is a republic" meme is merely a Republican scheme to replace "democratic ideals" with the concept "that democratic participation is a hazardous thing that needs to be limited, and that power belongs, not with the people, but with those at the top and that when they get grown up they should elect prominent citizens to power, then sit down and shut up and let those they elected run things, and not try to exercise power they’re not entitled to":
That's it for now, O Gentle Ones. Who'll be the first to throw in their own 2¢?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Envision Ogden Records Show Corruption, Fraud, Political Pressure

To investigators, the case was a “hot potato”.
By Dan Schroeder
The Utah State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) has recently released all of its records from the Envision Ogden investigation, opened in April 2009 and closed in March 2011. The records provide a vivid look into Envision Ogden’s fundraising efforts and into the investigation itself.

Envision Ogden was a local political action committee, formed in early 2007, that concealed its political nature from most or all of its contributors. It sponsored a fundraising dinner at the Ben Lomond Hotel in February 2007, and a grand opening event at the city-owned Salomon Center in June 2007. After covering expenses for these events, Envision Ogden directed most of the remaining proceeds to political candidates and campaign activity, including expenditures that helped Mayor Godfrey’s reelection campaign in fall 2007. Godfrey told reporters last November that he had been responsible for the bulk of Envision Ogden’s fundraising.

Among the revelations contained in the newly released records are the following:
  • Both of Weber County’s hospitals contributed to Envision Ogden in order to curry favor with Mayor Godfrey, who personally solicited their contributions. A January 2007 email from McKay-Dee CEO Tim Pehrson states that his hospital’s contribution may give its affiliated health plan, Select Health, “a better shake the next time it bids on city employees.” Similarly, minutes from a meeting of Ogden Regional Medical Center administrators explain its $5,000 contribution by saying that CEO Mark Adams “has a good relationship with the mayor, good to keep it that way.”
  • Records provided to investigators by UBS Financial Services show how Envision Ogden and the Ben Lomond Hotel fabricated an invoice, months after the fact, to make it look as if the $6,047 contribution from UBS to Envision Ogden was really going to the hotel as a direct reimbursement of fundraising dinner expenses. Earlier correspondence shows that those expenses had already been paid and in any case, Envision Ogden deposited the check and never passed the money on to the hotel.
  • An April 2009 email from investigator Jim Vaughn to his supervisor, Major Jeff Carr, explains that he was trying to get federal authorities to take on the Envision Ogden investigation, because it was a “hot State potato”. After the FBI declined to take the case, Vaughn and investigator Scott Hansen proceeded with the investigation despite this. Vaughn has since retired and Hansen has also left the SBI.
  • After the initial phase of the investigation in Spring 2009, there was a lengthy delay while the Utah Attorney General’s Office was supposedly trying to obtain Envision Ogden’s bank records. A subpoena for these records was finally prepared in February 2010 and signed by Judge Denise Lindberg on February 9. Apparently, however, the Attorney General’s Office never served the subpoena on Wells Fargo Bank. The investigation therefore stalled once again, until a new subpoena was finally prepared and served in late 2010.
  • An undated entry in the investigation report, probably from late 2009, states that during a meeting with Assistant Attorney General Scott Reed, “It was determined that with only misdemeanors being evident that the case would be closed....” Although the case actually was not closed at that time, this comment underscores how Envision Ogden’s activities fell through the cracks in the criminal justice system. Misdemeanor offenses would have to be prosecuted by the city attorney (who reports to the mayor) or the county attorney (who also treated the case like a hot potato). The statute of limitations for misdemeanor prosecutions expired in 2009 in any case. State investigators were interested only in potential felony charges such as communications fraud and money laundering, but the Attorney General’s Office ultimately decided not to bring these charges either, for reasons that remain unclear.
The Attorney General’s Office took over the Envision Ogden investigation, using its own investigators, in September 2010. It then closed the investigation without filing charges on March 4, after the statute of limitations had expired for any crimes associated with Envision Ogden’s February 2007 fundraising dinner.

Some of the Attorney General’s records of the investigation have also been released, but the office is withholding other records including Envision Ogden’s financial records which were finally obtained from Wells Fargo Bank. Among those records should be the five canceled checks, totaling over $20,000, that Envision Ogden wrote to Friends of Northern Utah Real Estate—the intermediary that passed the funds on to city council candidates Blain Johnson and Royal Eccles. The endorsement signature on those canceled checks should show conclusively who controlled FNURE. I have appealed the withholding of these records to the Utah State Records Committee, which will hold a hearing on the matter on July 14.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Salt Lake Tribune: Group: GRAMA Just Needs Minor Tweaks

No sweeping overhaul, but instead just a few tweaks

By Ray

According to an article in the SLC Trib, GRAMA committee recommends only minor tweaks. Here's the gist, via Brooke Adams:
There will be no sweeping overhaul, but instead a few tweaks, some clarifica­tions and a recognition that Utah's open­ records law is pretty great after all.That's the outcome of the GRAMA Working Group, which on Wednesday finished a three- month effort to review the state's Government Records Access and Management Act and suggest ways to make it better. The group left unresolved some issues at the heart of the records de­­bate: how to deal with text messages and other new technologies, and what pro­­tections, if any, to give constituent email. But it did come up with other recom­­mendations to make the law more effi­­cient, better understood and to poten­­tially avoid some contentious disputes that are the bane of both those seeking records and government employees fill­­ing requests.
Read on...
Comments, anyone?

Standard-Examiner: Grievance Against OPD Heard Again

We'll be keeping our fingers crossed that the Commission will boldly embrace its jurisdictional responsibilities in this matter, and unequivocally step down hard, once and for all, against this facially-immoral "double-dipping practice"

Following up on its April 24 story, the Standard now reports that OPD Sgt. Blaine Clifford's grievance matter, objecting to the "Ogden Police Department's practice of allowing selected high-ranking officers to "double dip" salary and pension," was heard yesterday by the Ogden City Civil Service Commission:
For the sake of Sgt. Clifford, we're delighted that the Ogden City Council, back in 2006, wisely preserved the Civil Service Commission, even in the face of mean-spirited Utah legislation which allowed for its dissolution.

We'll be keeping our fingers crossed that the Commission will boldly embrace its jurisdictional responsibilities in this matter, and unequivocally step down hard, once and for all, against this facially-immoral "double-dipping practice."

That's our take; and we're stickin' to it.

So what say our gentle readers about all this?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Standard-Examiner: Ogden City Council Passes Budget

For the convenience of any numbers wonks among us, we'll provide some additional materials, for those who'd like to roll up their sleeves and take a closer look

The Standard-Examiner reports this morning on the results of last night's Council Session, wherein the Council approved the Ogden City 2011-2012 Fiscal Year Budget. Here's Mr. Schwebke's lede:
OGDEN — With little fanfare Tuesday night, the city council adopted a $152 million fiscal 2012 budget that sets aside money for future employee pay raises and establishes a rainy day fund for municipal projects.
The budget is about 8 percent smaller than a $153.3 million budget proposed by Mayor Matthew Godfrey.
(We won't make a big deal out of the apparent decimal place error, but will provide this handy link for Mr. Schwebke's benefit nevertheless .)

You can read Mr. Schwebke's full morning story here:
For the convenience of any numbers wonks among us, we'll also provide these additional materials, for those who'd like to roll up their sleeves and take a closer look.

We've prowled the Ogden City website but were unable to find a copy of this fiscal year's new budget as approved, so for the benefit of those green-eyeshaded readers, we'll instead provide a link to the $153.3 million budget document as proposed by the Mayor's office, which was the council's original starting point, and which the Council chopped back by .8%:
By way of background, the City Council Staff has also emailed to us another budget-related document which adds some perspective to some of the goals the council had in mind in approving this budget:
That's it for now, O Gentle Ones. We'll welcome any commentary on the budget topic, of course... and whatever you do... don't let your eyes glaze over.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Standard-Examiner: Ogden River Project May Gain 6 Acres - Updated

The matter will be coming up for RDA discussion and public comment on July 12; and the company hopes to begin construction later in the month?

Updated with a useful plat map and eye-opening additional Dan S. explanatory commentary


The Standard-Examiner reports that SouthRiver LLC remains in the hunt to purchase and develop 6 acres within the Ogden River Project, with a proposed development agreement to be laid on the table for RDA consideration "in the next few weeks":
OGDEN -- A proposed development agreement is being fine-tuned that may enable a Salt Lake City firm to purchase about six acres downtown from the Ogden Redevelopment Agency as part of the long-awaited Ogden River Project.
The RDA is expected to consider the agreement in the next few weeks for the sale of land to SouthRiver LLC, allowing the construction of 69 townhomes and retail space, Jonny Ballard, the city's community development manager, said Monday.
Read the full Scott Schwebke story here:
More specifically, according to the council's online Land Use and Planning Project Status Page, the matter will be coming up for RDA discussion and public comment on July 12:
Mr. Schwebke's morning story reports that "[t]he company hopes to begin construction in July," which seems like uncomfortably and possibly unrealistically tight scheduling, unless the RDA Board has already agreed (informally and behind the scenes) to rubber stamp the agreement, prior to any public comment or deliberation.

We'll keep our eyes on this story as it develops, of course.

In the meantime, feel free to throw in your own 2¢.

Update 6/21/11 11:25 a.m. (per Dan S.): Here is a plat map showing Phase 1 of the River Project, annotated with the current assessed property values (taken from the Weber County Treasurer's web site). The three parcels currently proposed for sale to SouthRiver LLC are highlighted in yellow. The RDA sold the blue shaded parcel in late 2006 for $324,975, and this parcel is now the site of the new Bingham's Cyclery building. The area shaded in pink was never owned by the RDA as far as I can tell, even though it is within Phase 1 of the River Project redevelopment area:

(Click Image to Enlarge)

On April 27, the Standard-Examiner reported that SouthRiver LLC was "under contract" to purchase the yellow-shaded parcels for $1.3 million. That's a million dollars less than the assessed value of over $2.3 million. Furthermore, the RDA was to subsidize $559,000 of the purchase price through tax increment, so the effective purchase price would be only $741,000 -- less than a third of the assessed value.

The RDA originally purchased and cleared this land using two sources of borrowed funds: a $2 million loan from the city's Refuse Enterprise Fund, consisting of the insurance settlement from the burning of the Shupe-Williams Building; and a $3 million line of credit with First National Bank. According to the minutes of the city council meeting of April 25, 2006, the former loan was to be interest-free for five years, with a 10% interest rate thereafter. According to the most recent RDA Annual Report, the bank loan had a "maturity date" of June 8, 2011.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

6/18/11 Utah GOP Organizing Convention

A hoot and a half...

By: Curmudgeon

The Utah Republican Party is holding its organizing convention today.

In this connection, Bagley's cartoon is... A hoot and a half!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Salt Lake Tribune Editorial: Conflict of Interest - Utah's Laws Are Way Out of Line

The latest SCOTUS decision, holding that states can make laws banning their state legislators from promoting their own personal pecuniary interests, becomes a merely interesting academic footnote here in BassAckwards Utah

The SLTrib adds grist to the discussion mill on Wednesday's Weber County Forum topic, with a strong editorial this morning:
Interestingly, this morning's Trib editorial cites the U.S. Supreme Court case, Nevada Commission on Ethics vs. Carrigan, (those who are capable of reading and understanding should read it), which was also mentioned in Tuesday's Ogden Ethics Project blog article, in which case the U.S. High Court unanimously ruled "that state laws banning lawmakers from voting on matters where they stand to gain personally not only are constitutional, but a basic feature of American law since its founding."

Sadly however, current Utah legislative ethics rules (such as they are) contain no provisions preventing self-serving and ethically-challenged greed-heads like Utah State House Rep. Johnny Anderson from pursuing their own private pecuniary interests (and legislatively tormenting their "perceived" business competitors) while "serving" in the Utah Legislature. So, this latest SCOTUS decision becomes basically an "academic footnote" here in the bass-ackwards State of... dare we say it (?)... Zi-On.

Needless to say, we're desirous of hearing from our gentle readers on this.

Any takers?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Weber County Forum Scores its 1 Millionth Hit

Cheers to all!

By: Ozboy

Wow!

Weber County Forum went past the one million hit mark today! Not half bad for a bunch of naysaying losers with nothing better to do with their worthless asses than to sit around carping about our wonderful and ethical political leadership here in the land of truth and enlightenment [wink].

Cheers to all!

Salt Lake Tribune: Another Argument for Robust UEG-style Legislative Ethics Reform - Updated

One Taylorsville GOP Legislator "doesn't believe" he has a conflict of interest, even while he unleashes the legislative dogs to devour his direct competition

OK folks. It's late in the a.m.; and after extensive slow news morning Googling, we've finally stumbled upon something to stimulate a little WCF reader discussion today. Remember way back last summer, when your blogmeister was intensively flogging the UEG Ethics Petition ? Well... this morning's SL-Trib carries a marvellous and eye-opening Robert Gehrke piece, revealing once again why the GOP-dominated Utah Legislature needs to have robust (butt-kicking), UEG-style Legislative Ethics Reform Bill shoved down its throat, prontito:
Gotta say this is one of the most bizarre conflict of interest stories your blogmeister has ever stumbled upon. Here's the lede:
A Utah lawmaker wants changes to the state’s child care laws, which he says give school-based, nonprofit day care programs an unfair advantage over private providers.
“It isn’t right and I think we should change this as a Legislature,” Rep. Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville, told lawmakers Wednesday during a committee meeting.
Anderson didn’t mention that he is the owner of ABC Great Beginnings, which owns and operates seven private child care facilities.
Not only that, Anderson draws a paycheck as executive director of the Utah Private Child Care Association, the trade group for the private day care industry.
Believe it or not, this GOP Legislator (Anderson) "doesn't believe" he has a conflict of interest, even while he unleashes the legislative dogs to devour his (and his employer's) direct competition.

He'd prefer to say he has "an area of expertise.”

And what's particularly distressing is that under current Utah ethics rules, he can continue to beat down what he perceives to be his business opposition/competitors from his legislative "bully pulpet," (without sanctions) so long as he merely "declares" that he has a conflict of interest.

That's it for now, O gentle Ones.

Who'll be the first to chime in with their own 2¢?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday Afternoon Emerald City News Roundup

A few random news items your ceaselessly hard-working Blogmeister chooses to highlight

1) We've had considerable discussion on WCF concerning Chief Greiner's penchant for "pricey" high-tech law enforcement toys, including his wished-for Crime Fighting Blimp and Dr. Evil-style Crime Control Command Center see, e.g., "Dr. Evil - Volcano Lair."

HAHAHA! In this connection, here's the latest from the Salt Lake Tribune:
It should come as no surprise to any of us therefore, that "Duh Chief" summarily rejects lightweight crime-fighting solutions such as a permanent Public Safety Building pharmaceutical drop-box... which is sadly, not very high tech at all.

Sodden question: Would Greiner's attitude toward a "Cop Shop Lobby Drop/Lock Box" be altered if the Council would approve the funds to place a little hidden camera in it... which could be monitored 24/7 from Greiner's plush (electrically vibrating) executive chair in the Chief's Crime Control Command Center?

2) A few days ago we reported that we'd learned that Ogden CAO John Patterson was "on the short list" for the hiring by West Jordan City for the position of City Manager. On that same theme we now learn from the Standard-Examiner that the same John "Pureheart" Patterson is also a main contender for the Casper, Wyoming City Manager job:
Here's our take. We're gonna miss the Hell outta the constantly gentlemanly and personable John Patterson a heckuva lot more in the year 2012, than we'll miss the incessantly grating, nauseating (puke inducing) and generally annoying POS Boss Godfrey. The upside to this whole story? In the grand scheme of things, it's unlikely that fans of limited and frugal government will henceforth miss either of these right wing socialist bastids. That's our take... and we're stickin with it. Best of luck to the more politically-facile J. Patterson in the future, though.

3) Next!! And last but not least, here's the latest blog post from one of our local favorites... the Ogden Ethics Project:
If I have the time, I'll make a note to post a little legal analysis of the latest case... a little bit later... when I get done working in my yard.

Feel free to post on any of the above subjects in the meantime however... or better yet... consider this a WCF open topic thread.

Update 6/16/11 8:00 a.m.: "Pureheart's" Casper, Wyoming job application is back in the news this morning, with this expanded SE story:

Standard-Examiner: Council Prescribes Take-backs

A new era in Ogden City Council politics, wherein new resolutions and ordinances will only be enacted with the permission of those who would be bound by such laws

Just as predicted in Monday's WCF story, the Standard-Examiner reports this morning that the Ogden City Council has indeed taken the course of least resistance, last night adopting a resolution "asking the police department to hold quarterly medication take-back events," meaning that the OPD will collect unused prescription medication on four days per year, rather than the 365 days per year which would have been available had the Council passed a resolution requiring maintenance of a permanent drop box in Ogden's public Safety Building. Significantly, Ogden Police Chief Greiner, who decides on a case-by-case basis those laws which he will obey and those which he will ignore, has graciously agreed, Mr. Schwebke reports, that "he will comply with the council’s request for the collection program":
We thus witness, we suppose, the ushering in of a new era in Ogden City Council politics, wherein new resolutions and ordinances will only be enacted with the explicit permission of those who would be bound by such laws.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Emerald City News Update: The Caitlin Gochnour "Led" Council Now Backs Off on OPD HQ Drug Collection Bin

Rather than forcing the issue, our sackless Emerald City Council "leadership" (so-called) is now weakening in the knees

(Roy Police Chief) Whinham said. "I'm a big supporter of this.""I don't understand why my good friends in another city (hint Ogden City under Godfrey & Greiner) don't want to use the program."

Standard-Examiner
Drug drop-off a success in Roy
June 13, 2011

Great story in our Emerald City home-town newspaper (The Standard-Examiner) this morning, concerning the possibility of dumping your prescription pharmaceuticals (clogging up your medicine cabinet, are they?) here at the cop shop in Emerald City (just like the cops do in scores of places in Utah):
Whoa! So What Happening in OGDEN?

Well here's what's happening. Rather than forcing the issue, our sackless Emerald City Council "leadership" (so-called) is now weakening in the knees... and is now proposing "quarterly" drop-offs. NO! We are NOT making this up. Here's the Council packet for tomorrow night's Council meeting:
Fair warning. We''ll likely be demanding Caitlin Gochour's head on a plate in the upcoming election. "Gutless Gochnour" will forever go down in history as the ever-compromising Neville Chamberlain of Emerald City politics, wethinks.

Special Tuesday Night Event: An Evening with Jeff Lowe and Malcolm Daly

A Dramatic Multimedia Presentation and Fundraiser for Jeff Lowe’s Metanoia, the Extraordinary Documentary Film on the Life & Climbs of Jeff Lowe

We received some information over the weekend from Ogden climbing legend Jeff Lowe, and we're accordingly delighted to provide a heads-up for a special event coming up on Tuesday, June 14:
What: An Evening with Jeff Lowe and Malcolm Daly
When: Tuesday, June 14 · 7:00pm - 9:30pm
Where: Peery's Egyptian Theater, 2415 Washington Blvd, Ogden, UT
Created By: Jeff Lowe's Metanoia - movie
More Info: Presented by the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance
A Dramatic Multimedia Presentation and Fundraiser for Jeff Lowe’s Metanoia, the Extraordinary Documentary Film on the Life & Climbs of Jeff Lowe, now in production.

Join us for a captivating evening of slides, music, movie clips, story telling, and silent auction, and thus help us to complete the inspirational movie of Jeff's life story: a true tale of love, survival, a pathological optimist, and his indomitable spirit.

Jeff Lowe’s Metanoia explores extraordinary alpine accomplishments, from mountain top to wheelchair. Starting out as one of the world's youngest alpinists, Jeff Lowe has amassed a lifetime of impressive alpine accomplishments and contributions to the climbing world. He now faces the challenge of life in a wheelchair with the same characteristics and philosophies that won him unprecedented success on the world’s most impressive rock walls and in the great mountain ranges of the world.

Come to Peery’s Egyptian Theater in Jeff’s hometown of Ogden, Utah on June 14 for a very special evening with legendary alpinist, Jeff Lowe and Malcolm Daly, Executive Director of ParadoxSports.org Together they will tell the story of this extraordinary film with beautiful, never before seen footage from the Eiger Nordwand.

Josh Wharton is featured on the notorious face as he repeats sections of Lowe’s 1991 “unimaginable” solo first ascent, Metanoia. You will hear and see stories from Jeff’s life through film and slides and from the lips of life long friends, Jeff and Malcolm. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime event with two of the most positive forces of nature you will ever encounter, Jeff Lowe and Malcolm Daly.

Doors open at 7:15 for the exciting silent auction (river trips, art, photography, signed books, classes, jewelry etc), program begins promptly at 8pm. Tickets to the event may be purchased in advance for $15 at Peery’s Egyptian Theatre Box Office or by calling 208.630.4477: on the day of the event $20. Box office fee of $1 will apply for tickets purchased at Peery’s Egyptian Theatre.

Visit JeffLoweMovie.com or call 208.630.4477 for more information about the event or to Purchase a $5 raffle ticket for a chance to win a beautiful new Honda Scooter. Attendance not required to win the scooter.

Peery’s Egyptian Theatre is being generously donated by the Ogden Eccles Conference Center.

Comments anyone?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Field House Follow-Up: Architect Selection “On Hold”

Seven proposals received in response to RFP

By Dan Schroeder

We haven’t heard much from the media about the field house recently. But even though none of the hoped-for funding for this massive indoor recreation project has yet materialized, Mayor Godfrey hasn’t given up hope and continues to push the city council to support it.

Meanwhile, attentive readers may be wondering about a loose end left over from early this year. On January 23 the city published a Request For Proposals for architectural services for the field house. A clarification of the RFP appeared on the city’s web site on February 1, and the deadline for proposals was February 9.

This RFP was unusual in a couple of ways. First, it was vague about the scope of the project and the format in which prospective architects were supposed to submit their bids. And second, it failed to acknowledge that the city had already hired an architect, Dan Van Zeben, to draw preliminary sketches of the field house. (Mr. Van Zeben claimed he was doing this work as a volunteer, but documents later showed that the city had funneled $5000 to him through the consultant who produced the field house feasibility study.)

After hearing nothing about the RFP since the February 9 deadline, I got curious and submitted a GRAMA request to the city, asking to see the full procurement file. The usual delays ensued, while the city attorney’s office considered whether the file had to be released. But they finally did so, and I got to look through the file earlier this week.

Seven architects submitted proposals in response to the RFP:
  • VanZeben (Ogden)
  • VCBO (Salt Lake City)
  • CRSA (Salt Lake City)
  • Mark Wilson Architects (Lehi)
  • Sanders Associates (Ogden)
  • EDA (Salt Lake City)
  • Ridgeline Design (South Ogden)
All of the proposals consist mostly of information about the firms’ credentials and previous work. The bids themselves are brief and hard to compare, with some consisting only of hourly rates, others bidding as a percentage of construction cost, and so on.

Besides the seven bids, the city received five email inquiries from other interested firms. The “clarification” that the city posted on February 1 was actually a copy of its response to an inquiry from Bertoldi Architects of Ogden.

After the deadline passed, some of the bidders inquired into the schedule for awarding the contract. At first the city indicated that the process would be quick, but this gradually changed until May 6 when Management Services Director Mark Johnson stated that the project was “on hold”. That seems to be where things stand today.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Streetcar Consultant GB Arrington Set to Address Council Work Session Tonight - Updated

Updated 4X: The Standard-Examiner has the last word

Here's a quick heads up for Ogden Streetcar proponents. Although the Council/RDA Board are mainly preoccupied by budget preparation business this evening, there's a streetcar-related item on the Council work session agenda in which you might want to sit in. On May 4 we reported that the Council had retained the services of PB PlaceMaking, Inc. consultant GB Arrington, who will be working to "marry what the city is trying to do with what UTA has already done," in order to get the Godfrey-hijacked streetcar planning process back on track. According to the work session Council packet displayed below, Mr. Arrington will be back before the Council this evening, for the purpose of discussing Ogden Streetcar options:
We'll leave the lights on of course, for anyone who'd like to check in here with the play-by-play of tonight's work session.

Update 6/8/11 8:00 a.m.: For a good, concise report on last night's work session, and a rundown of new developments since last fall, don't miss Dan's writeup, in the comment section below. In addition, Mr. Schwebke also provides his own post-meeting story on the SE site:
Update 6/8/11 2:22 p.m.: Just when we thought this story was all tapped out... we now find Dan S. reporting from today's so-called "stakeholders meeting at WSU":

Great remark from WSU's Norm Tarbox:

"Most of the stakeholders around this table (he says) don't matter. All that matters is Ogden City and UDOT. Until those two get on the same page, the rest of us might as well not even be here."

Click the below comments link to listen in...

Update 6/8/11 7:26 p.m.: Thanks to the sharp eyes of Gentle Reader Dan S., we now learn that the Salt Lake Tribune's Cathy McKitrick is all over this story, too:
Councilwoman Wicks hits the nail squarely on the head with this savvy quote, wethinks:

"I haven’t heard a single citizen supporting the 36th Street alignment," said Councilwoman Amy Wicks. "I’ve had people from all walks of life who never agree on anything come forward and say 25th Street, down Harrison or not at all."
Our compliments to Ms. McKitrick for the great writeup, and to Ms. Wicks for telling it like it is.

Update 6/9/11 7:42 a.m.: This morning's Standard-Examiner reports on the outcome of yesterday's meeting, where Ogden Streetcar stakeholders "put the brakes on a proposed $156 million streetcar system Wednesday so a city council consultant can review a study associated with the project":
Fascinating political study on how relatively easy it was for Boss Godfrey and his fellow 36th Street corridor "gondola" proponents to derail the more logical 25th Street route, and contrarily, how relatively difficult (and expensive) it was for our Ogden City Council to get the project back even somewhat on track.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Standard-Examiner: Counties Play Musical Statehouse Chairs; Davis May Gain the Seat Weber Loses

Does the targeting of Dixon Pitcher's House District 10 seat for elimination amount to mere coincidence... or something more sinister?

The Standard-Examiner fattens out the facts this morning on the SLTrib story which we highlighted last week, which reported that Ogden's Utah House Legislative District 10 seat is about to be eliminated by the GOP-dominated legislative panel which is in the process of whipping up a new Utah legislative district redistricting plan. This morning's SE story again reports that GOP Rep. Dixon Pitcher's House Legislative District 10 seat is likely to be on the chopping block:
Regular WCF readers will of course recall that House 10's Rep. Pitcher was one of the first contientious maverick GOP legislators to break party ranks and to speak out against GRAMA-gutting H.B. 277 .

So what about it, gentle readers? Does the targeting of Pitcher's district seat for elimination amount to mere coincidence... or are we witnessing mean-spirited GOP legislative retaliation against an independent-minded GOP legislator who refused to let his party "leadership" (so-called) do his thinking for him?

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Wasatch Rambler: A Victory for the Tenacious... and More Bicycle Safety Lessons - Updated

No surprises here concerning Charlie's seeming ho-hum reaction however

Charles Trentelman chimes in via his "Wasatch Rambler" column on Friday's Ogden Sierra Club victory story this morning... with what we take to be a giant, gaping yawn. Charlie says: "The documents show a lot of back and forth that is, frankly, boring." Yep, that's what he says about the set of highly revealing documents released as the lawsuit was settled... before he segues off into a "ramble" about a subject more mentally stimulating for him (bicycle safety, that is):
No surprises here concerning Charlie's seeming ho-hum reaction to the OSC's big court victory however, we guess. Throughout the four-year course of the Godfrey administration's heavy-handed and obsessive Gondola/Mt. Ogden Park Landgrab full court press, Trentelman was never even remotely onboard what we'd call the opposition bandwagon.

Update 6/5/11 3:44 p.m.: Trentelman's column has now been posted to the SE Live! site:

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Salt Lake Tribune: Panel Leader Unveils Salt Lake County-splitting Plan

Added Bonus: We can't wait to see macho Leg 10 Rep Dixon Pitcher duking it out with Leg 9 GOP Rep Jeremy Peterson to find out who will henceforth represent the citizens of the consolidated House Districts nine and ten

Fascinating story today from the Salt Lake Tribune this morning, reporting that the neoCON Republicans in the Utah legislature are about ready to carve up Salt Lake County into four separate congressional districts:
Ya wanna see Salt Lake County split into pieces like Berlin in the cold war era, folks? That's what your nitwit GOP legislators have up their sleeves.

And here's another astonishing repercussion of this plan which will seriously slam those of us in Weber County.

The GOP redistricting committee is planning to take away one Utah House Representative seat from Weber County, and give it to the wacko right wing morons in Davis County. Can't wait to see macho GOP Leg 10 Rep Dixon Pitcher duking it out with GOP House Rep Jeremy Peterson (District 9) to find out who will henceforth represent the citizens of the consolidated House Districts nine and ten.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Sierra Club and Ogden City Settle Open Records Lawsuit

Sierra Club clips Ogden City for $10,000 in costs/attorneys' fees; declares total victory

We're pleased to report this morning that The Sierra Club and Ogden City have settled their gondola-related open records lawsuit, which had been pending for three years running. The Sierra Club, plaintiff, has reportedly received from defendant, Ogden City, 43 of the 46 disputed records and clipped Ogden City for $10,000 attorneys' fees. The Sierra Club quite properly considers this a complete victory, as is more thoroughly set forth in this morning's press release:
Be sure to visit the Sierra Club website, where you can examine the array of documents finally released to the persistent Sierra Club plaintiff:
Putting it all in a nutshell, these records document both "the depth of involvement of Ogden City officials and others in promoting the gondola-resort proposal," and "city’s overly broad interpretations of several GRAMA exemptions." Additionally, these documents "highlight the city administration’s troubling preoccupation with secrecy, even in instances when the withheld records contained no information worth protecting." Moreover, these documents expose the bad behavior of almost everyone involved in the Gondola Fiasco, from Boss Godfrey, to the Ogden Records Review Board, to officials of the Utah Transit Authority, etc.

A Weber County Forum Tip O' The Hat this morning to the Ogden Sierra Club for its dogged pursuit of the truth in this matter, and for serving as a champion of government transparency and accountability.

And no... we're not happy to observe that Ogden City taxpayers have coughed up $10k in costs and attorneys' fees. Having said that however, we'll also observe that it wouldn't have had to happen this way, if Boss Godfrey had in good faith complied with GRAMA in the first place.

Okay... that's it from us for now.

Time for our gentle readers to let 'er rip.

Update 6/3/11 7:20 p.m.: The Salt Lake Tribune is carrying Cathy McKitrick's writeup on its website:
Update 6/4/11 4:13 a.m.: The Standard-Examiner is now running the story too:

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Sanity Update!!! The Ogden-Clearfield Area Is Reportedly One of the Richest Regions in America!

We are NOT making this up!

Fascinating U.S. News & World Report article stumbled upon (by your Blogmeister whilst Googling,) something we'd really like to share. The statistics gnomes at USN&WR have cobbled together a very interesting story, which, believe it or not, places the Ogden-Clearfield Area as #5 of the cities in America with (get this) the highest adjusted incomes. Just like DesMoines Iowa, we're apparently rich here in Ogden City, Folks.

Here's the story for your reading pleasure, Emerald City "Rich Folks!"
Tough luck, residents of Rancho Santa Fe, CA, Athertonan, CA, and Palm Beach, Florida, etc. !

Too Funny, no?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Do Recent News Stories Indicate That the U.S. Economy is Again Ready to Dive Off Another Cliff? - UPDATED

Note to our Ogden City Council: Let extreme caution be the operative watchword here

We haven't posted much about the condition of the U.S. economy lately; so while we remain mired in the current Emerald City red meat news drought, we'll shift our readers' attention this morning to several not-so-uplifting economic news stories appearing within the last couple of days in the Utah print media:
The last of these articles mentions the prospect of a dreaded "Double Dip" ("W Shaped") recession.

So what about it, gentle readers? Is the U.S. economy in recovery, as some of the Pollyanna news media cheerleaders have been suggesting over the past few months? Or do these more recent and above-cited economic news stories serve as a bell weather indication that the U.S. economy is again seriously contracting?

One of our favorite news commentators, USAWatchdog.com's Greg Hunter, falls into the latter camp. Here's what he had to say on this subject this morning (and we tend to agree with him):
I have been telling you the economy is not in any kind of real recovery for more than a year. Sources I have been quoting have been proven right, and all the economic cheerleaders dead wrong. Reuters reported yesterday, “Data showing a double-dip in home prices, pessimistic consumers and a slowdown in regional manufacturing raised concerns on Tuesday that the economy’s soft patch could become protracted.” (Click here to read the complete Reuters report.) “Could become protracted?” It is protracted, and now the data is suggesting the economy is getting ready for another cliff dive.
You can read Mr. Hunter's full article here:
So what's the point in mentioning this, you ask, other than to put you all "off your feed?"

Well... our Emerald City elected officials seem to be on the cusp of diving into another series of possibly reckless economic development projects which will require public bonding and otherwise burden the Emerald City public treasury, during economic times which are "uncertain" at best.

Note to our Ogden City Council: Let extreme caution be the operative watchword here.

And what about it WCF readers? In which direction do you believe the economy's moving?

Update 6/2/11 9:00 a.m.: In a demonstration of private sector prudence which will hopefully prove to be a model for the public decision-makers on our Emerald City/ Council/RDA Board, Winco Foods has delayed construction of its new Layton Fort Lane Village store "because the economy has not started swinging up":

© 2005 - 2014 Weber County Forum™ -- All Rights Reserved