Monday, January 30, 2012

Another Perspective on the Possiblity of a Hill Air Force Base Closure

Would it be a good idea for our sole Utah Democratic Party House Representative Jim Matheson to waltz over to the Senate Office Building, slap Mike Lee upside the head, and then politely ask him to "cool his jets"?

In the midst of another slow Northern Utah news day, we'll direct our readers' attention to a couple of back burner news items which appeared in the Standard-Examiner and the Salt Lake Tribune, a couple of days back. Although these stories didn't seem to be intentionally juxtaposed by the S-E and Trib editors, we can't help but believe that they may be interrelated, nevertheless.

Here's the lede from the S-E story, which appeared on the print edition front page on Sunday morning, and provides the gist:
HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Even without knowing the specifics of the upcoming military budget cuts and the recommendation of new rounds of Base Realignment and Closures, there is a lot of concern that the changes could affect Hill Air Force Base.
“It’s too early to know any of the details that they are thinking, but everyone should be worried,” said Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah.
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced plans to cut military spending as the military recovers from a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Part of that plan is to close military bases in 2013 and 2015 [emphasis added].
Read the full S-E story here:
With a Democratic Party President occupying the oval office and base cuts on the drawing board, the fact that Republican folks like Rob Bishop and Jim Hansen might be a mite nervous makes perfect sense, of course.

And here's the lede from the 1/28/12 SLTrib story:
President Barack Obama used his weekly address Saturday to rip Congress for blocking his nominees, focusing his ire on Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

Earlier in the week, Lee vowed to oppose all of the president’s picks for open judicial and federal positions to protest the way Obama skirted the Senate to fill key jobs at the National Labor Relations Board and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

"One senator gumming up the whole works for the entire country is certainly not what our founding fathers envisioned," Obama said, not specifically identifying Lee but leaving no doubt which senator he meant to single out.

In his address, the president cited a comment Lee’s spokesman, Brian Phillips, gave to Fox News, saying the plan was to "delay and slow the process in order to get the president’s attention."
And here's the link to that (possibly interrelated) story:
Although Obama doesn't name him by name, it's pretty clear that Utah Senator Mike Lee is clearly on Obama's "obstructionist" radar screen, and that he's most certainly "captured" President Obama's individed "attention." (Hopefully at this point our readers are getting the drift when we suggest that these to stories may be interconnected.)

For those who might be interested in reading a robust study on the probably devastating Utah economic effect of a Hill Air Force Base closure, here's a good scholarly study produced by a research team from University of Utah David Eccles School of Business in 2004, when the possiblity of a 2005 HAFB closure was last on the U.S. Executive Department table. It's sobering, to say the least:
And remember, folks, these numbers are calculated in un-inflated 2001 dollars.

As for devastating projected local impacts, the study furnishes a VERY long list, so we'll just pick out one of them, for starters:
Short-Term Impacts
In 2009, the impact of closing Hill AFB will be a loss of 47,400 jobs, an annual decline of $2.35 billion in earnings and $2.29 billion in personal income. Hill’s closure shrinks the state’s economy by $3.58 billion (a decline of 2.6% from the projected baseline). The annual loss of state tax revenue will be $192.4 million.
Hopefully everyone, Utah lefties, centrists and righties alike, will take the time to read the above-linked analysis.

The proposed 2005 HAFB closure was removed from the table during the presidential term of GOP President G.W. Bush of course, to the great glee of out mainly GOP Utah federal legislative delegation.

Can we see by a show of hands how many of our gentle readers believe Senator Lee is playing with fire? Is there anyone who believes that our Democratic Party President Obama will cut our Utah federal legislative delegation the same degree of leeway in re: HAFB as did GOP President Bush in 2005? Would it be a good idea for our sole Utah Democratic Party House Representative Jim Matheson to waltz over to the Senate Office Building, slap Mike Lee upside the head, and then politely ask him to "cool his jets"? (Maybe Matheson could even ask that a more than slightly "nervous" House Representative Rob Bishop might accompany him.)

What say you on this topic, O Gentle Ones?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune Editor's Column: GRAMA Watch Will Keep an Eye on Government’s Openness

Hoping that so long as we're able to keep a good close watch on our Utah legislature, we won't have another suffer another Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) "battle royal" again this year

As a followup to the Salt Lake Tribune's 1/21/12 story, wherein Trib reporter Heather May reported that a print media legislative watchdog group known as the Utah Media Coalition will launch a new public information project called "GRAMA Watch," which "will rank relevant action that encourages or protects Utah’s open government" with a color-coded rating system, the Trib carries a new editorial piece this morning which fattens out the details of this encouraging project:
Among other things, this morning's Nancy Conway "editor's column" provides a link to the Salt Lake Tribune’s public data website,, which is already shaping up to become a highly robust information source to "inform legislators and the public at the front end of the process of creating legislation — how a proposed bill will affect the people’s right to access government information."

We'll add that we're delighted to see the Utah Media Coalition vigorously following up on this great idea.

And for the convenience of the political wonks of Weber County Forum, please take note that we've also added a link to the above website in our right sidebar, under the module title, "2012 Utah GRAMA Watch," for our readers' quick reference, as we dive into the 2012 Utah Legislative Session, in the hope that so long as we're able to keep a good close watch on our Utah legislature, we won't have another suffer another GRAMA "battle royal" again this year.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New York Times: Lunar Colonies, Lunacy and Losses

Is the Republican Party's 2012 presidential election "goose" already "cooked?"

Savvy Charles M. Blow Op-Ed piece in this morning's New York Times, from which we incorporate this closing paragraph, which pretty much sums up Mr. Blow's editorial proposition:
The truth is that the Republican Party has no good choice at this point. It only has bad choices and worse choices. And the American public is beginning to recognize that. As the Republican courtiers of incompetence beat up each other, knock down each other and reveal each other’s flaws, a number of recent surveys have found that President Obama’s poll numbers on a number of metrics have begun to trend upward.
Read Mr. Blow's full-blown Op-ed commentary here:
So what about it, O Gentle Ones?

Is the Republican Party's 2012 presidential election "goose" already "cooked," even at this relatively early point in the 2012 election season?

Saturday Morning Weber County Forum News Roundup

Several items in the Northern Utah print media news item morning queue, just to keep the local political news discussion going here at Weber County Forum

1) As a followup to last week's Ogden Redevelopment Agency Board Work Session, wherein the RDA Board discussed "a proposed purchase contract and development agreement for The Four Foods Group, LLC, in connection with the opening of a new Kneaders Bakery And Café at 1951 Washington Blvd.," The Standard reports on the outcome of this week's RDA Board seession, wherein the Ogden RDA applied the finishing touches, and "approved a property sale and development agreement with The Four Foods Group LLC, which will bring a Kneaders Bakery & Café to Ogden as part of the river project":
We'll chalk this up as a feather in the cap of new Ogden mayor Mike Caldwell, and as additional circumstantial proof that Ogden voters who wisely rejected mayoral candidate Brandon Stephenson's 2011 mayoral bid, didn't need an Godfreyite Ogden City Council retread to maintain the Ogden River Project's "momentum" after all.

2) Fine editorial from the Standard, duly noting that the commencement of "another legislative session in Utah brings another needed call for better ethics."

"Utah legislators have made tiny, baby steps toward ethics reform within the past couple of years, but they still fall short," the editorial board aptly observes.
The Standard editorial reels off a short list of Utah Legislators' documented ethical misdeeds, including Rep. Jack Draxler's spending of "$500 of campaign cash for a condominium in Salt Lake City," and former Utah House Speaker Greg Curtis's slimy diversion of "more than $31,000 of his leftover campaign cash to other legislators."

While we're pretty much in agreement with the overall message of this morning's editorial, we will make one slight exception: We do believe that it's probably perfectly ethical for a political candidate who's loaned personal dough to his own campaign to reimburse himself from his campaign fund, once later donations have rolled in, so long as his disclosure forms properly disclose that that such personal monies are clearly designated as "loans" at the outset, and additionally, so long as these reimbursements don't include "accrued interest."

We'll also opine that we probably won't have to endure editorials similar the one linked above, once the UEG Citizens Ethics Reform Initiative is placed on the November 2012 ballot. We have a high degree of confidence that Utah Lumpencitizens possess the common sense and ethical integrity to set Utah campaign ethics rules aright, even though their elected representatives often don't exhibit these noble character traits themselves.

3) The Salt Lake Tribune this morning reveals that the Richard Burwash lookalike, West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder, the serial Utah civil defendant who's running under the GOP banner this year for the Office of Salt Lake City Mayor, continues to play the role of the "political loose cannon," as his county-wide mayoral campaign now sparks an internecine battle within the Salt Lake County Republican Party:
Weirdly, Winder is now attacking Salt Lake Republican Party Chair Julie Dole, who had the temerity to write Winder a letter (at Winder's original request) proposing that he keep out of the SL County Mayoral race, so that the reeking stench of his "dirty political laundry" wouldn't taint all the other 2012 GOP races. Winder contends that in doing her (unpaid volunteer) job, and trying to protect the best interests of other Utah GOP candidates, and the Salt Lake County GOP as a whole, she's "violating a party bylaw requiring officers to be neutral until delegates select candidates for office."

We'll continue to keep our eye on this story, O Gentle Ones.

Weird, innit, that a nice-looking young feller like Winder, who appears to be so danged clean-cut and acceptable (by Utah standards) could actually harbor such a warped "me, me, me" mentality and turn out to be such a self-centered and self-delusional "political dork?"

Go figure...

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Daily Show Indecision 2012 - 2012: A Space Oddity

"Daily Show" Mocks Newt Gingrich's Moon Idea

Too funny closing comment via Jon Stewart, alluding to some of Gingrich's morally troubling personal propensities:

I see what's going on here... Newt Gingrich did that global warming ad with Nancy Peolosi, realized that the earth is very sick, and now he wants to leave it for a younger planet...
Are American Republicans crazy enough to nominate the wacked-out Newt "Mr. Moonbase" Gingrich to run for the presidency under the GOP banner in 2012?

And yes. Some politically savvy and more "down to earth" folks are getting a pretty big kick outta this politically possible outcome, right?

So what say our ever-savvy Weber County Forum readers about all this?

Mike Winder Campaign Hits a Serious Speedbump

Completely "nutty" Boss Godfrey Mo-moClone Mike Winder "steps in it," yet again

Oops. Looks like that narcissist West Valley City Mayor guy, and Salt Lake County Mayoral candidate, Mike Winder, has hit a slight speed-bump in his campaign quest to become the new "visionary, "Matthew Godfrey"-style Mormon Mayor (our characterization ) of Salt Lake County, upon the departure of Mayor Corroon.

Read all about the new lawsuit that was filed yesterday, naming the loser of the now discredited winner of the Richard Burwash lookalike contest, and reporting how this Winder idiot is now named as defendant in a brand new lawsuit, wherein plaintiff Hogan, who charges that Mike Winder/Richard Burwash (allegedly slammed hard in at least one of his jagged local print and/or online media stories), seeks $113,220 in lost wages and benefits and an unspecified amount in punitive and other damages with a blistering lawsuit (by Utah Standards at least) charging defamation (and libel):
Whew! And the beat goes on. [sigh]

Thursday, January 26, 2012

State of the State Speech: Is it Necessary? - Updated

Danged good question, wethinks

On the heels of yesterday's State of the State Address, in connection with which the Standard-Examiner reported this morning that Utah Gov. Gary Herbert vowed to continue defending the state against an "overreaching, out-of-control and out-of-touch" federal government, (among other things), ABC4 News asks the question "pregnant question" which we're quite sure many of our politically-wonkish reader have been wanting to ask:
Danged good question, wethinks.

So what about it Gentle WCF Readers? Can we see by a show of hands how many of you were glued to your chairs in rapt attention in front of your big screens last night, eagerly soaking up Governor Herbert's every anti-federalist utterance?

On the other hand, how many of you were entirely unaware of the fact that Governor Herbert had even delivered this annual "Things are Great in Utah Under My Administration" 2012 pre-gubernatorial election rant, until you read about it on the front page of the Standard-Examiner this morning?

Let's re-phrase the question: Does anybody really give a hoot about Governor Herbert's opinion regarding the State of the State?

Just axin'...

Update 1/27/12 9:00 a.m.: The Salt Lake Tribune points out the hypocrisy of Governor Herbert's SoS anti-federalism rant. Whilst Herbert decrys “the regulatory colossus created by an overreaching, out-of-control and out-of-touch federal government," meanwhile, back at the "reality ranch," the Trib's Robert Gehrke aptly reports that "since Herbert took office, federal funding in Utah has grown by more than $1 billion":

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Standard-Examiner: Judge Keeps Lid on Warrants

Sodden question: Will the defendant Stewart get even an adequate legal defense in this matter, let alone a "first class" defense?

There's more interesting news in the 1/4/12 Ogden City Shootings matter, with a couple of new items appearing in the Standard-Examiner since our last WCF update.

Here are the key paragraphs from an online story of yesterday afternoon, which reveals that the veil of secrecy continues concerning this case:
OGDEN -- Prosecutors have sealed at least three warrants tied to the Matthew Stewart shooting case.

Search warrants are, by law, sealed for 20 days, then become public unless prosecutors convince a judge to extend the seal without date, said Nancy Volmer, state courts spokeswoman.

The Weber County Attorney's Office was successful in having some of the warrants sealed even before the 20 days had expired, Volmer said, two last week and one Tuesday.

The Standard also carries an expanded version of this story in its morning print edition, which reveals some even more interesting details to this story:
This latter story is particularly interesting for two reasons, we believe:

1) It reports a total of four warrants have so far been issued (and sealed), including "a fourth search warrant" issued by 2nd District Judge Scott Hadley on Monday last. Mr. Gurrister's story also provides information on the earlier three:
  • Warrant issued Jan. 4 by Judge Ernie Jones, sealed Jan. 6 by Judge Mark DeCaria.
  • Warrant issued Jan. 5 by Hadley, sealed Jan. 6 by DeCaria.
  • Warrant issued Jan. 5 by DeCaria, sealed Friday by DeCaria.
In at least two of these instances these warrants were sealed by the same judge who issued them in the first place, which looks like incautious judicial procedure to us, in an important case like this.

Moreover it seems that an extraordinary amount of effort is still being expended by the court and prosecutors in a curious effort to conceal the identity of the prosecution's confidential informant, whose true identity seems to have been already publicly revealed, thus raising the pregnant question, what else are these political hacks trying to hide?

Hopefully, in this context, the Utah print media will dig in their heels, take the sealing of these records up on appeal, and help shine a little light on the evidence which triggered the issuance of these warrants in the first place.

2) And Mr. Gurrister's expanded story reveals this interesting tidbit:
The Rule 8 fund maintained by the state through premiums paid by various participating counties provides a $100,000 lump sum for capital homicide defenses, Richards said.

Davis and Box Elder counties subscribe to the fund, but Weber does not, he said, meaning he will have to negotiate with Weber officials for funds to supplement his client’s defense.
Up until now, we'd assumed that public's expense for fees and costs for Mr. Stewart's public defender defense would be capped at the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 8's $100,000 per case; but with this morning's Tim Gurrister revelation on that angle, it looks like all bets are off on the question of how much taxpayer dough it will ultimately take to properly defend this case.

It's a highly complicated case however, which will pretty quickly gobble up massive defense costs for investigators, expert witnesses and pretrial discovery, not to mention the thousands of billable hours which will inexorably accrue for attorney's fees. So at this early point folks, regarding the prospective price of Matthew Stewart's defense, we'll go out on a limb and predict that "the sky's the limit," folks.

In this connection, Don't forget the SE story we cited in our earlier WCF writeup, quoting Bernie the Attorney Allen, who said that a first class criminal defense will cost, as a rule of thumb, "close to a million dollars for each case."

Here's the big question we think: Will the defendant Stewart get even an adequate legal defense in this matter, let alone a "first class" defense?

Update 1/25/12 10:00 a.m.: The Standard has just now uploaded Mr. Gurrister's updated morning story to its website:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune: Ogden Shootout Suspect Claims He Cannot Afford An Attorney

Just as we predicted on 1/20/12, the taxpayers will be footing the full bill for the upcoming trial in this matter

The Salt Lake Tribune reports this morning about another significant development in the 1/4/12 Ogden Shootings Case. Just as we predicted on 1/20/12, the taxpayers will be footing the full bill for the upcoming trial in this matter. Here's the lede from this morning's Sheena McFarland story:
Matthew David Stewart — charged with capital murder and multiple counts of attempted murder in connection with a deadly shootout with Ogden police — has filed court documents indicating he cannot afford to hire an attorney.

Stewart, 37, indicates in an affidavit of indigency filed Monday in Ogden’s 2nd District Court that he has no assets other than his home.

Stewart adds that the home "has no equity," and that he expects to "lose [the home] because I am unable to pay the mortgage," according to the affidavit.

He says he has "some limited resources" to temporarily pay for an attorney, but he cannot afford to pay for expert witnesses or for any necessary investigation.
Read the full story here:
In apparent anticipation of Stewart's application for indigent defense, Ogden City based Weber County public defender Randy Richards has also already initiated pre-trial discovery in this matter, according to this story in Sunday's Standard-Examiner:
No word yet as to who will serve as Mr. Richards's appointed defense co-counsel.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Surprize of Surprizes: Utah Politicians Find Major Loophole in Ethics Law

One more reason for Utah lumpencitizens to insist on forcing Lt. Governor Bell to place the UEG Citizens Ethics Initiative on our 2012 Utah Ballots

Sorry to be so late with what was originally intended to be "this morning's" WCF post; but sadly we experienced a technical WCF "hardware 'won't talk to software' problem" on and about WCF which we couldn't quickly "fix," without first going out for a good long lunch, takin' a long breather and then thinkin' a little more about how these pesky problems could be more easily fixed upfront, if Microsoft magnate Bill Gates would merely deign to regularly talk to people like Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt

However belatedly however, O Gentle WCF Readers, we are nevertheless back into "Here's the all-time Best O' the 1/23/12 Day Red Meat News Story of the Day" from today's Northern Utah Print Media news-cycle, posted to WCF despite the tech-glitches which we rather painfully experienced earlier today:

It's definitely a very good one down below from the Salt Lake Tribune which we highlight now, tipped to us from yet another sharp-eyed and alert WCF Reader who quite sagely prefaced his heads-up missive with "This is a must-see article in the Trib":

Here's the most excellent SLTrib story upon which our reader tipped us, wherein it becomes obvious, that despite all legislative the hoopla, that there's no manner in which Utah legislators might seemingly stand restricted under current Utah Law, from expending campaign contributions money. The truth is that Utah legislators can spend their campaign contributions money on ANY DANGED PERSONAL EXPENSES for which they dang well please:
Let's put this one in political context, folks. During last year's 2010 Utah Legislative legislative session, the Utah GOP majority made a big deal about passing a law which was purportedly designed to "ban" state officials and candidates from spending campaign donations for personal use. This is the proof in the pudding... how it finally worked out folks, with loopholes in this legislative ethics-remedial bill (so-called) that crooked Utah legislators, in their ultimate wisdom, designed to be wide enough through which to fly a Boeing 747 straight through.

And here's the so-called "personal use banning" 2010-enacted Utah statutory rule, which somehow still permits Utah legislators to spend almost-unlimited campaign donation money on personal expenses:
One more reason for Utah lumpencitizens to insist on forcing Lt. Governor Bell to place the UEG Citizens Ethics Reform Initiative on our 2012 Utah Ballots, don'tha all think?

We'll stand by for your ever-savvy comments, folks.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune: After Protest, Congress Puts Off Movie Piracy Bill

A true "man bites dog story," if ever there ever was one

In response to last Thursday's WCF article, wherein we put the arm on our readers to sign the online petition urging congress to "deep-six" the pending SOPA and PIPA bills, we get the good news this morning from the Salt Lake Tribune:
Yesiree, folks. The People spoke up... and our congress-critters listened.

It's a true "man bites dog story," if ever there ever was one.

Salt Lake Tribune: 2012 Utah Legislative Preview

Added bonus: The latest news from our friends at Utahns for Ethical Government

The Utah Legislature convenes for its regular 2012 session tomorrow morning; and we know all Weber County Forum political wonks are sitting on the edge of their seats, awaiting this year's wacky Capitol Hill hijinks. In that connection, The Salt Lake Tribune is running an informative 2012 legislative preview article series this morning, which we'll reel off in no particular order:
As an added bonus, here's the latest update from our friends at Utahns for Ethical Government, who are gearing up to seek a court order from Utah's 3rd District Court to force a very recalcitrant Lt. Governor Bell to place its UEG Citizens Ethics Reform Initiative on the upcoming 2012 Utah General Election Ballot, (among other things):
That's it on the Utah legislative front for now, folks.

Don't let the cat get your tongues.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dave Greiling Morning "Behind the Headlines" Column: Our Intent Was Neither to Glamorize Stewart Nor Disrespect Cfficers

We're not a licensed psychologist, but here's what we think nevertheless

There's an eye-opening column in this morning's Standard-Examiner hard-copy edition, wherein Dave Greiling discusses, in his "Behind the Headlines" column, some rather harsh reader reactions to last Saturday's front page photo spread. Here's the lede:
Last Saturday's front-page presentation was not received well by some readers.

Specifically, a large photo montage of accused shooter Matthew David Stewart resulted in unfavorable online comments, phone calls and letters to the editor.

You can read Mr. Greiling's full morning column here:
Sadly, Mr. Greiling's column adopts an apologetic tone. "First, no media outlet sets out to intentionally alienate its readers, its customers, if you will." "I'm sorry that the photo and its display caused that type of reaction. It's also obvious that, in this case, we fell short of doing an effective job of telling that particular story," Mr Greiling says.

We caught that front page montage ourselves when we retrieved our S-E print edition from our front porch last Saturday, we frankly appreciated the human interest angle that that this "ticklish" photo image piece conveyed. Yes, we'll give our hearty "thumbs up" to the journalistic judgment of "the editor who designed the page," and who was "struck by the contrast between Stewart's appearance in the photo and the acts he is accused of committing."

Absolutely no apologies are required from the Standard for running this photo image piece, in our view. This photo display does very clearly and powerfully convey the truth of the matter, which is that the kid in the photos isn't necessarily some kind of non-human demon from hell, but "could be my little brother or the kid we went to school with." "It really is a shocking contrast. I think it showed he's a normal kid with a normal background," Mr. Greiling adds. Yes folks. Shockingly, the suspected "perp" in the 1/4/12 Ogden Shootings story "could be the kid who lives next door." Imagine that.

Hopefully folks, this little kerfluffle won't compel the S-E editors to soft pedal the "human interest" angle, either with respect to this story, or any other emotion-charged news item which might pop up in the future.

Happily though, despite the otherwise apologetic and conciliatory tone, the S-E editors appear to be stickin' to their guns in re this:
The photo montage helped tell the story of Matthew Stewart, in the editors' opinion.
What the S-E editors are experiencing here is likely a particularly accute reader response resulting from a psychological phenomenon known as "cognitive dissonance", we think. When presented with two highly contrasting, but practically plausible "realities," some less sophisticated S-E readers, who've been carefully cultivating a lynch-mob mentality over the course of the past few weeks, couldn't handle the informational dissonance and simply slipped into "melt down mode," we'll propose.

We're not a licensed psychologist, of course, but that's what we think.

So what say our Gentle Readers about all this?

Friday, January 20, 2012

1/4/12 Ogden Shootings Story: Three More Items From the Standard-Examiner

We'll once again focus the WCF spotlight on three new items concerning the fast-developing 1/4/12 Ogden Shootings story which have been uploaded to the Standard-Examiner website and/or have been published in the print edition since our last update. As to the first two of these, a Scott Schwebke story, and a reader-submitted Letter to the Editor, we'll simply continue to play the reduced role of a story aggregator, and furnish the links, without offering any further editorial commentary of our own:
With regard to story #3, we'll expand our discussion, as this new story does offer the invitation for consideration of some background issues which truly open up a can of worms, wethinks, concerning the early treatment of this matter by the Weber County Attorney's Office as a "Capital Murder," "Death Penalty" prosecution.

As a followup to a story which first appeared several days ago on the S-E website, we'll refer our readers to an updated (1/20/12) story, which sets forth the burden that this latest homicide case places on our already heavily overloaded County Prosecutor's Office. The concise lead paragraph provides the gist:
OGDEN -- Handling three major cases at the same time is having an impact on the Weber County Attorney's Office. "We're maxed out," Weber County Attorney Dee Smith said of the drain of three major investigations under way simultaneously.
Read the full story here:
With three major cases now pending, Dee Smith's already overworked public law office is seriously feeling the heat; but that's only half of the problem, wethinks; and here's the other half of whole troublesome ball of wax, as we see it:

Notably, on the S-E site a couple of days ago a S-E reader identifying himself as Colorado Deputy State Public Defender Bill Schurman posted a comment which we believe to be well worthy of some discussion:
Going for the death of Mr. Stewart will surely weigh down your Office like you have never seen, Mr. prosecutor. It will be more than the self-serving arrest warrant affidavit. As an attorney in Colorado involved in death cases you'll rue the day that you announced death. If you are a little busy now just wait.
While we don't know whether this S-E commenter guy was an imposter or not, we do believe the guy "nails it." The difficulties are compound in death penalty cases too, folks. Here are a couple of web-based resources you can all check out, just to give you "the drift."

First, and "for starters," the whole approach to defense counsel representation is much more complicated in death penalty cases, than in garden variety felony cases. Specifically, Utah death penalty defense lawyers must fulfill the quite rigorous requirements of Utah law, the details of which are statutorily set forth in the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure:
We're making the assumption that Defendant Matthew Stewart will be entitled to the services of the Public Defender's Office, by the way. We'll have more on that assumption further down this article.

Remember, people. Death penalty-qualified defense lawyers don't grow on trees, due to the aforementioned stringent experiential qualification requirements for death penalty defense counsel.

And here's another good link, an eye-opening S-E article dated June 6, 2010, going into some of the other issues concerning the most recent difficulties of defending death penalty cases in Weber County, and also containing some very good nuts-and-bolts insight on this subject from our old pal, Ogden-based Public Defender, Bernie Allen, now that the tightwad genii in Weber County government have all but dismantled the Weber County Public Defender's Office:
Among other things, Ace Attorney Bernie mentions that a first class criminal defense will cost, as a rule of thumb, "close to a million dollars for each case," whereas the cheapskates in Weber County government have reduced appointed defense council compensation to... get this:
The rule of thumb for a minimum paid to public defenders in a capital case is [now] a flat rate of $100,000 per case, Allen said, which can equate to $28 an hour given the time commitment needed for an appropriate defense.
And laughably, according to Attorney Bernie, Weber County is pretty much a deadbeat, even in actually paying up these drastically reduced legal fees.

Factor in the required two (count 'em 2) death penalty qualified Capital Murder defense lawyers who'll have to "split" this pittance, and that works out to $50K apiece, not counting the dough they'll have to shell out hiring investigators, conducting pre-trial discovery, and every other expensive detail which goes into defending a Capital Case.

Think about it folks. Why would a competent Utah felony defense attorney even think about getting involved in a major capital murder case which will yield little more than $50 grand in fees, before expenses, when the average felony case will yield just about the same amount, with a lot less overhead, after a mere half-dozen or so court appearances? Nobody in their right mind, that's who.

And what's going to happen when Mr. Stewart possibly gets convicted because Weber County officials only authorized and approved funding for a "cheap-ass, cut-rate, low budget defense?"

The next thing that will happen, assuming that Stewart might get convicted in this twisted scenario is that an upper appellate court will likely go along with what Attorney Bernie suggests in the above S-E story:

"Conviction over-ruled and set aside: 'due to 'ineffective counsel.'"

Here's an informative article on the topic:
Moreover, even though prosecution and defense counsel sit at tables on opposite sides of the courtroom, the taxpayers will be footing the full bill for the whole upcoming dog and pony show; and the Weber County taxpayers are the ones who'll finally get seriously nicked once again, once the smoke clears on this unfortunate situation, after the politically ambitious County Attorney Dee Smith takes his deep "post performance bow," of course.

Food for thought, People.

Standard-Examiner: Weber Sheriff (Allegedly) Violated Hatch Act

Keeping our fingers crossed that the Standard will be more cautious with its future headline draftsmanship

Interesting story plastered atop the front page of this morning's Standard-Examiner hard-copy edition, bearing the bold-faced headline "Weber sheriff violated act." Unlike the Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner situation however, Sheriff Terry Thompson's case will apparently have will no negative consequences, as is briefly set forth in this morning story's lead paragraph:
OGDEN -- The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has determined that Terry Thompson violated the Hatch Act in his successful 2010 bid for Weber County Sheriff, but the office won't take action against him.
Read Mr. Schwebke's full Standard-Examiner writeup here:
Here's one point we'll make with regard to this story.

We're troubled by the nature of the headline itself. Although the Office of Special Counsel has been involved in this matter since at least as early as May of last year, that federal agency, which is charged with the civil prosecution of Hatch Act violations, appears to have taken no formal action in this matter, aside from the issuance of the "warning letter" which is mentioned in this morning's Scott Schwebke story. Since this matter has never been formally adjudicated, the headline states as fact something which ought to have been characterized as a mere allegation. The opinion of the Office of Special Council that Sheriff Thompson violated the Hatch Act is no more than that office's legal opinion, an opinion which carries no more weight than Sheriff Thompson's own opinion that he did not violate the Act. So in our view, it's disappointing that the copy editor who drafted the headline wasn't more careful with that most important distinction.

Although we're delighted to learn that the Office of Special Counsel has exercised sound prosecutorial discretion and declined to take any further action in re this matter, we're nevertheless keeping our fingers crossed that the Standard will be more cautious in its technical draftsmanship and take steps to avoid in the future the kind of factually inaccurate, and reputationally damaging headlines such as the one appearing above this morning's story.

Referring back to our original assumption that Defendant Stewert will at some point be represented on the taxpayers' dime by Weber County Public Defenders? Yes. News reports indicate Stewart has a small equity in his residential property which he purchsed in the nineties. No, that small equity will not for long support a vigorous defense in this complex case, which involves multiple purported victims, and will require massive investigative effort and discovery. Whatever property equity Stewart may have to contribute to his own defense will be rapidly, blown, quickly.

Like it or not, Gentle Weber County taxpayers, ultimately, even though prosecution and defense counsel will sit at tables on opposite sides of the courtroom as this matter progresses, the massive expense of this whole trial will be borne by the folks who'll ultimately pick up the tab for this legal extravaganza... the taxpayers of Weber County, that's who.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thursday Afternoon Weber County Forum News Roundup

Today's very most "weird" and "twisted" latest developments in re Utah politics

In the continuing interest in giving our Weber County Forum readers "Meaty Things" to "chew on," and to rave about the "weirdest" and latest developments in re our sorely "twisted" Utah politics, here a few items we latched upon this morning whilst Googling:

1) Lyin' POS Mike Winder Announces a Run for the Salt Lake County Mayoral Seat.

This is definely too good. This moron, the Mike Winder Guy, who completely made an ass out of himself by hoodwinking the Deseret News over the course of several months under the psuedo "handle" Richard Burwash, now unabashedly announces his candidacy, under the GOP banner, for the Salt Lake County Mayoral Office:
Sodden query: Does Mike Winder have an even bigger "set" than Boss Godfrey? Were Mike Winder and Boss Godfrey somehow products of the same defective "uterus," who were somehow weirdly separated at birth?"

2) Ousted Utah House Member Craig Frank "Comes Back":

Here's the truly strange story from the SL-Trib:
Meet the new boss... same as the old boss...

Lets all sing along, folks!

3) Ogden Train Car Cafe under new ownership.

In an earlier WCF story we mentioned a missive we'd received from yet another sharp-eyed WCF reader who offered this:
MAYORAL FAVORS: Yesterday I heard a bunch of pissed off people talking about Kym and Pete taking over the welcome wagon. A gal that was running it was wondering why rent is half of what she'd been paying, and why do they get the equipment etc., for "free"?
We've done a little "light sleuthing" on this story by the way. We called the Choo-Choo Cafe on the phone a couple of days ago, and talked to a young feller who informed us that the cafe was still operating, although "under new ownership."

"Pete" (Buttschard) is the new "owner," the young feller said.

We still don't know the terms of the new deal, but we're now considering putting in a GRAMA request.

We also talked to a couple of Ogden City Council people about this, each of whom not-so-subtly indicated (to our great disappointment) that they "didn't want to make waves," so early into the Mike Caldwell mayoral administration.

So has the Caldwell Administration already violated the provisions of Ogden City Code Section section 4-2A-5", which says:
All purchases of and contracts for obtaining supplies or contractual services shall be made on a competitive basis to the maximum practicable extent. However, when not in conflict with state law, the purchasing agent may waive this competitive bidding requirement when:
1. The cost of the supplies or services is negligible in relation to the costs of purchase by bid;
2. The supplies or services are available from a single source or bidding procedures are otherwise deemed unlikely to produce a competitive bid; or
3. Circumstances indicate that bidding on the supplies or services will not be in the best interest of the city.
If so, will the Ogden City Council, weary of dealing with 12 years of Godfrey shenanigans, turn a blind eye to this possible problem?

We''ll be following up on this and we will definitely get to the meat of it, folks.

We don't want to see the new mayoral administration fall into any Godfrey-style "bad habits," if you know what we mean (and we think you do.)

And no, gentle readers. At this stage of the game at least, we're not charging the administration with doing anything wrong. Not yet, anyway.

Petition: PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks the Internet

Congress needs to hear from you, or these bills pass

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo

The video above discusses the Senate version of the House's Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). In the Senate the bill is called the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). SOPA has gotten more attention than PIPA because it was moving faster in the legislative process. But PIPA is just as dangerous, and now it is moving faster.
PIPA would give the government new powers to block Americans' access websites that corporations don't like. The bill lets corporations and the US government censor entire websites and cut sites off from advertising, payments and donations.
This legislation will stifle free speech and innovation, and even threaten popular web services like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.
The bill is scheduled for a test vote in the Senate on Jan. 24th: We need to act now to let our lawmakers know just how terrible it is. Will you fill out the form above to ask your lawmakers to oppose the legislation and support a filibuster?
Click the link below to sign the electronic petition:
The good news is that in the face of massive Internet protest yesterday, key Senate and House backers of the SOPA and PIPA web censorship bills – including Senators Marco Rubio, Roy Blunt, John Cornyn, Orrin Hatch, John Boozman and Jim DeMint, and Representatives Ben Quayle and Lee Terry – have dropped their support.

The bad news is that But SOPA’s key sponsor – Lamar Smith – is sticking with the flawed bill. In fact, the Senate is set to vote on PIPA on January 24, 2012, and the House Judiciary Committee continues its markup of SOPA in February:
Do not dawdle on this folks... Sign the petition Today!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Weber County Forum Wednesday Morning News Roundup

Several interesting Bits and Pieces stumbled upon by your blogmeister whilst Googling

In the interest of keeping the discussion going, even on another slow news day, here are a few interesting Bits and Pieces stumbled upon by your blogmeister whilst Googling:

1) For those Ogden residents who've been looking forward to repeating the good times in Ogden City's annual Winterfest celebration this year, the Standard-Examiner delivers some very bad news this morning:
In this age of global climate change, perhaps the city fathers will be scheduling a beach-themed winter carnival some time very soon.

2) For those readers who are eagerly following the Standard's Alan Hall guest commentary series, here's Mr. Hall's latest, reporting on the outcome of last week's Ogden business leadership pow-wow, wherein "20 community leaders met for the first time to discuss the greater Ogden-area economy":
Can we see by a show of hands, O Gentle Readers, how many of you are surprised that our Ogden City Big Government Interventionist "Leadership" is adopting a"central planning" tactic borrowed straight from Joe Stalin's old Soviet Union?

3) Excellent Letter to the Editor which just popped up on the S-E website, decrying the recent bone-headed U.S. Supreme Court decision (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) which ruled, in essence, "that corporations and unions were legally people and could spend unlimited funds on election advertisements."
The author, liberty-loving Salt Lake City resident Cameron Morgan, makes a pitch for those lumpencitizens who'd like to see this bone-headed SCOTUS decision overturned to "join "Move to Amend" in pushing for a Constitutional amendment that spells out, in no uncertain terms, that corporations are not people and that they can and should be regulated." Unfortunately, Mr. Morgan fails to supply the necessary "action link," which omission we now cure, for our WCF readers' convenience:
If you'd like to weigh in on this issue, be sure to click the "petition" link, either in the MTA website header, or via the "Sign the Petition" button.

That's it for now, WCF readers.

The floor's open for anybody who'd like to comment, or even blow off a little pent-up steam.

Salt Lake Tribune: Suspect in Ogden Shootout Kept Marijuana in His Freezer, Informant Said

Not much of a stretch to speculate that the ex-girlfriend may be the confidential informant who got the ball rolling on the this whole tragic affair

More breaking news in the 1/4/12 Ogden Shootings matter, as the Salt Lake Tribune reveals new information obtained via a recently-completed GRAMA request. Here's the lede:
The investigation into Matthew David Stewart, who is charged with murdering an Ogden police officer and shooting five others, began in September when someone told police she had seen marijuana growing in his basement, according to documents released Tuesday.

The Salt Lake Tribune, through a request under the Utah Government Records Access and Management Act, obtained Ogden police reports about Stewart written prior to the Jan. 4 shootout at his home. The Ogden Police Department redacted Stewart’s name and that of the tipster, but the address and other descriptions in the reports match Stewart.

The tip about the marijuana grow is described in one paragraph written by an Ogden patrol officer on Sept. 15.

The tipster "stated that she has personally seen a hydroponics grow in [Stewart’s] basement," the report says. "She stated that it produces approximately 12-15 marijuana plants. [Redacted] then keeps the the [sic] marijuana in a freezer. He also sells some."
Read the full story here:
Further down the story, citing information in one of several GRAMA'd police reports, SLTrib reporter Chris Carlisle makes reference to an ex-girlfiend who contacted Ogden police on September 10 to report her concern that the suspect, Stewart, may have attempted to break into her apartment. Although the Trib editors carefully issue the disclaimer that "[i]t’s not clear from the documents whether the complainant in the door episode is the same woman who told police about the marijuana grow," it's still not much of a stretch to speculate that the ex-girlfriend, a co-worker with Stewart at Wal-mart, may be the confidential informant who got the ball rolling on the this whole tragic affair.

The possible moral to this chapter of this story?

Howbout "Be extra nice to your ex."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

1/17/12 Ogden City Council/RDA Agenda Heads-Up

Several interesting items which ought to be of particular interest to our Weber County Forum readers

Here's a quick heads up concerning tonight's Ogden City Council/RDA action, wherein the various agendas contain at least a few items which ought to be of particular interest to our Weber County Forum readers:

1) Joint Study Session (5:30 p.m.). Of particular interest to our WCF readers may be one item on the agenda, the proposed vacation of a public easement/right of way along a portion of Buchanan Avenue between 28th and 29th Street. What's interesting about this otherwise seemingly routine agenda item is that although the planning commission has already reviewed and recommended Council approval with its own 5-2 vote, a very familiar face on the Ogden political scene, Chris Peterson, formally opposed this measure when it was before the planning commission, so its possible that Peterson and/or his representatives may appear at tonight's meeting, to renew his opposition during tonight's Council discussion:
Peterson's objection centers on the fact that abandonment of the public easement would reduce public parking opportunity near the 29th street trailhead; and as one gentle reader remarked in a private conversation on this topic a few days ago, "Of course he's already using the parking area for his commercial via ferrata business, but in addition one has to wonder about the newly fenced adjacent property and the new switchbacking clearcuts he's made up the northwest face of Malan's Peak."

2) Redevelopment Agency Special Meeting. During this meeting, which begins "immediately following the Council meeting that begins at 6:00 p.m.," the Ogden RDA Board will consideration the adoption of an "amended budget for the Ogden River Redevelopment Project Area as approved by the Taxing Entity Committee on November 10, 2011.":
We've already discussed this item on Weber County Forum, of course. As our regular readers will recall, this is the proposal Boss Godfrey sneaked past the Ogden RDA Taxing Entity Committee "in the dead of night," and which will extend the Ogden River Project Redevelopment Area tax increment period "through Tax Year 2027 (an Additional Eight (8) Years)" This amendment to the Ogden River Project Area tax increment amortization schedule, once approved, will reduce Ogden RDA taxing entity revenue, (including that of the cash-strapped Ogden School System) to a mere 28% of the tax money to which they would otherwise be entitled in the absence of this amendment, of course.

Although it's all signed, sealed and delivered, folks, we thought you'd want to know that tonight's the night it gets rubber-stamped.

Here's a quick side note to the above item, by the way, which our readers ought to consider in light of the Ogden School District's action in cavalierly giving up 72% of its River Project Area tax revenue until the year 2027. "Five schools in the Ogden School District are using approximately $7 million in federal grants to help bring them up to a higher level and keep them out of danger of being shut down because of poor performance," according to the S-E story below:
We're having some difficulty understanding the Ogden School Board's "thinkin'" in these tight financial times, we'll confess. Howbout you?

3) Redevelopment Agency Board Work Session:
During this special meeting, which also begins "immediately following the City Council and Redevelopment Agency meetings that begins at 6:00 p.m.", the RDA Board will discuss a proposed purchase contract and development agreement for The Four Foods Group, LLC, in connection with the opening of a new Kneaders Bakery And Café at 1951 Washington Blvd.:
We'll volunteer that this has to be interpreted, at first glance, as very good news for the otherwise moribund River Project Development area, even at this early stage in this new proposed project, although we'll also welcome our Gentle Readers' own possibly contrarian takes on this subject.

That's it for now. We'll leave the lights on of course, for anyone who'd like to comment before, during or after tonight's meetings.

Update 1/18/12 6:42 a.m.: The Standard reports this morning that just as we predicted, "[t]he Ogden Redevelopment Agency board adopted a resolution Tuesday night that will extend the Ogden River Project tax increment collection period by eight years":
Hopefully in the days to come, we'll hear no further whining from the Ogden City School District about cash shortfalls.

1/4/12 Ogden Shootouts story Update: Two more Items from the Standard-Examiner

The first item in the Standard's entire Shooting Story Series which actually won't taint a prospective jury pool; and here is the first public report of the the nature and extent of the suspect's "non-life threatening" injuries

The Standard-Examiner website carries two more items expanding on the 1/4/12 Ogden Shootouts story, the first of which consists of a slice-of-life photo gallery which depicts the suspect Matthew Stewart, in some pretty average, normal real-life poses. The second for the first time reveals the nature and extent of Stewart's "non-life threatening" injuries, "wound[s] in the foot, stomach, arm and buttocks":
Our initial reaction to the photo gallery? It's the first item in the Standard's entire Shooting Story Series which actually won't taint a prospective local jury pool.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King Day Special

Martin Luther King - I Have A Dream Speech - August 28, 1963

Learn a little more about that Great American Civil Rights Icon, Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday we celebrate today in his honor.

Just a reminder of what today's federal holiday is all about, folks, for those who may be even slightly unclear about why they're getting "the day off."

Update 1/17/12 7:00 a.m.: The Standard website carries two stories this morning centered on yesterday's Martin Luther King Day celebration at Ogden's Marshall White Center:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ogden’s Crime Rate Has Decreased, But Hype Is Misleading

A new analysis of 25 years of crime statistics

By Dan Schroeder

Ogden’s crime statistics have been in the news again lately, mentioned in connection with the departures of Mayor Godfrey and Chief Greiner.

When Greiner was dismissed, the city issued a press release giving him credit for reducing Ogden’s crime rate by 33% between 1999 and 2009, “almost 50% more than the national average for the same period.” The Standard-Examiner had already printed the 33% statistic on November 27 in a list of Godfrey’s accomplishments, and printed it again on December 29 in an article about Greiner. The Salt Lake Tribune similarly reported that there was a 33% drop in Ogden’s crime rate between 1997 and 2009.

It’s been more than three years since this blog took a thorough look at Ogden’s crime statistics, so an update is in order. How has Ogden’s crime rate changed during the tenure of Godfrey and Greiner, and over the longer term? Is the 33% statistic correct?

These questions might seem relevant only to historians who want to assess the Godfrey-Greiner legacy. But the answers could also be of interest to potential clients of Godfrey’s new consulting firm, who have a legitimate interest in knowing his actual crime-fighting record. It’s also important that we not hold the new mayor, and the new police chief, to an unrealistic standard.

Fortunately, there’s quite a bit more data available now than there was three years ago. Of course, we now have data for three additional years: 2008, 2009, and 2010. (Data for 2011 won’t be available for several more months.) In addition, the FBI recently put some older data on its web site, available through its new UCR Data Tool. Finally, with the 2010 Census behind us, we now have a more reliable figure for Ogden’s population (which comes into calculating the crime rate, e.g., the number of crimes per 1000 residents).

Before getting into the numbers, I should explain that when we read about crime statistics in the U.S., those statistics almost always come from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, which dates back to 1929. The advantage of the UCR system is that it is well defined and widely used. But unfortunately, it counts only certain types of crimes: so-called “violent crimes” (murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault), and “property crimes” (burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft). The UCR statistics omit all other crimes including simple assault, fraud, drug crimes, traffic crimes, and so on. (Arson is sometimes included as a property crime in UCR statistics, but is not included in the data used for this article. This omission has very little effect on the overall numbers and trends.)

The UCR data can also be inaccurate or misleading in other ways. Local law enforcement agencies gather and report the data, and these agencies may not always interpret the FBI guidelines consistently. Some agencies might even misreport the data for political reasons. Even if the agencies’ reporting practices are perfect, they cannot report crimes that citizens never report to the police. And of course, the data tell us nothing about the causes of crime and of crime trends, which are extremely complex.

With these limitations in mind, here is a graph of Ogden’s UCR crime rate that goes back to the earliest available online data (1985). The rates for Utah and for the entire U.S. are shown for comparison.

The most striking feature of the graph is Ogden’s steadily decreasing crime rate over the entire time period shown. The occasional increases in the crime rate appear to be mere short-term fluctuations, superimposed on the strong decreasing trend. The Utah and U.S. crime rates have also been decreasing steadily, though only since about 1995 and 1991, respectively.

But the decrease has not been as steep as Mayor Godfrey and the newspapers have implied. If we average over the short-term fluctuations, the decrease from 1999 to 2009 was only about 24%, not 33%. Similarly, the decrease from 1999 to 2006 was only 17%, not 23% as Godfrey claimed during his 2007 reelection campaign. You can, of course, obtain either higher or lower numbers by cherry-picking the starting and ending dates to take advantage of short-term fluctuations. Perhaps coincidentally, if you look at the long-term trend since Greiner became police chief in 1995, the decrease is almost exactly 33%.

Furthermore, the decrease since 1995 has been entirely consistent with state and national trends. For example, between 1999 and 2009 the Utah and U.S. crime rates decreased by 30% and 19%, respectively, compared to 24% for Ogden (according to the long-term trend). While the Ogden Police Department obviously deserves a great deal of credit for working hard to keep crime rates down, there is no evidence that Ogden is anomalous in any way or that the mayor and police chief have somehow worked miracles. The only possibly significant discrepancy between Ogden’s crime rate and the state and national trends was actually in the late 1980s, when Ogden’s crime rate decreased while the Utah and U.S. crime rates were increasing.

The graph above also shows that Ogden’s crime rate has remained significantly higher than the state and national rates. But this difference is entirely expected, because crime rates are almost always higher in cities than in suburbs or rural areas. There are far more opportunities to commit crimes in cities, where many suburban residents regularly go for work, shopping, and entertainment.

The vast majority of UCR crimes are thefts of various types. Here is a breakdown of Ogden’s UCR crimes:

To a first approximation, the UCR “crime” rate is really just the larceny rate—with significant additional contributions from burglary and motor vehicle theft.

To get beyond this focus on theft, analysts often quote just the “violent” crime rate. This statistic is dominated by aggravated assaults and robberies, with a smaller contribution from forcible rapes and a still smaller contribution from murders and nonnegligent manslaughters. Here is a graph of Ogden’s violent crime data since 1985, again showing the Utah and U.S. data for comparison:

The most striking aspect of the Ogden data is its increasing volatility in recent years, with large upward and downward fluctuations. Any long-term trend is hard to discern: One could argue either that the overall trend has been flat throughout this time period, or that there was a gradual upward trend for the first decade followed by an even more gradual downward trend since the mid-1990s. The state-wide data do show a gentle rising and falling pattern of this type, while the national violent crime rate has risen and fallen rather dramatically (with a somewhat earlier peak).

While Ogden’s violent crime rate was below the national average through 1997, it has been above the national average most years since 1998. But this is because the national average has fallen—not because Ogden’s violent crime rate has risen.

In any case, we again find no evidence of any miraculous decrease in Ogden’s crime rate. The sharp decline in violent crime since 2007 has mostly just canceled out a sharp increase during the preceding three years.

There is one more law enforcement statistic that Ogden residents have occasionally heard over the years: the number of new police officers recently hired. For example, in 2007 Mayor Godfrey claimed that Ogden had hired 18 new police offers during his first two terms, and promised to soon hire six more. But data from the FBI web site (which ultimately come from the Ogden Police Department) do not support these numbers. Instead, the size of Ogden’s police force has grown at the same average rate as the total population, rising from 120 in 1999 to 131 in 2010, with a peak of 135 in 2008.

Finally, a technical note on population: Different agencies have used different estimates of Ogden’s population in non-Census years, and some of these estimates have shown unrealistic year-to-year fluctuations. Instead of using these contemporaneous estimates, I have retroactively estimated the annual population changes by making linear interpolations between Census years. As a result, I have eliminated a few spurious fluctuations in apparent crime rate statistics that were caused by fluctuating population estimates. The following graph compares the population estimates used here to the more erratic population estimates that are found on the FBI UCR web site:

For those who would like to see all the numbers that went into the graphs in this article, you can download the full spreadsheet here. Meanwhile, comments are invited from one and all.

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